A brief history…
I was born in 1949, son of a Military man so the Forces was in my blood. On reaching the age of 15yrs, I became a boy Soldier that was for 2 ½ yrs, then I was able to join the regular Army I then joined the 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment. I served with them for 12yrs, during which time I done some active service abroad. I also had to do a number of courses throughout my time with them in Leadership and Management and I also had to learn how to instruct and train Recruits and my own men as I climbed the ranks, these things have put me in good stead through out my life and I will always be thankful for the skills they gave and brought out in me.
It was during this time that I acquired my first Dog, Troop, a German Shepherd, I still have very fond memories of him, he was a special Dog, not only because he was the first Dog I Trained, It’s that we did everything together, firstly I was very lucky to have him as I lived in the barracks and as a ranker that was not allowed, but we overcome that hurdle and the Regiment allowed me to use him in Northern Ireland Training and that’s where I purchased him from, he went in Helicopters, landing boats the lot, any way that’s when my love for Dogs started with this special Boy and from that day I have never been without a Dog.
I was posted to Germany and Troop came with me, he kept many a young soldier in line for me and he also loved playing football with them till he dropped! While in Germany I joined a German civilian dog training club, the dogs they train there are to the famous Sieger standard, the Sieger Show in Germany is the Mecca of all German Shepherds, only a small amount of dogs actually make it there, so I was very fortunate to be given the chance to train with them and also to learn there methods, which were very interesting!
Back in England one of my many jobs, while with the Stafford’s, was Training young Cadets from different armed forces, while doing this job I very luckily came into contact with the West Midland Police Dog Unit and they very kindly invited me to train my dog with them, I never say no as you can always learn something new, no matter how much you think you know, there are so many different techniques, so I would recommend you always have an open and enquiring mind and never be too proud to ask questions!
I then decided on a change of career, so I joined the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC), this is a place where soldiers who have offended go to and are either released into civvy street or rehabilitated and returned to their Regiment. I served 12yrs with the MCTC. I found myself working on training wing.
I then started rifle shooting for the MCTC, I was very lucky, we shot and trained for 4 months of the year in preparation for our District shoot which enabled us to qualify for the big Military shoot off at Bisley held each year, against all the top teams from the British Army.
I was now becoming known for my dog training, so I would help my colleagues with their Dogs. I became interested in game and clay shooting, it was a natural progression from rifle shooting. I was asked to take over and run the Military Corrective Training Centre clay club, it was for both Military and Civilians personal alike. Now I had to have a gun dog, so that was my next learning curve.
Along came Jake a cocker spaniel and what a rogue he was, that was definitely a good learning curve, I managed to do a lot of the training myself, making some mistakes along the way, however he was my first gundog and I don’t mind admitting I needed some help, he had an exceptionally strong character and was proving to be a difficult dog for a first time handler to train. I sent him away to a gundog training kennel, so he could be taught to hunt and so he could be shot over. I used to go and watch the trainer picking up techniques and hints and tips, I started to go to shoots and trials speaking to all the trainers and absorb all the knowledge they were giving me, I always found people very friendly and only to happy to help and give you advice. One good lesson I learnt from Jake, was to advise people against having a spaniel as their first dog, unless I could see they were capable of controlling one, my advice is always start with a Labrador and once you have learnt your skills then advance to other more difficult breeds and everyone has always thanked me for that bit of advice.
1 year later I had more time on my hands, so I decided to get another cocker Jack. He was aptly named as my wife had said 1 dog is enough, so after 3 (my wife insists that I write small) Jack Daniels, Jack was in the car and on his way home with us, he was 5 months old and such a biddable boy, with that boy’s quiet and calm manner I was able to achieve so much more, so I owe all my training abilities to Jack, he was my mate, that little boy went through so much in his life, he’d had cancer and he didn’t particularly have good bones, he broke one of his front legs and it had to be pinned and later in life the other front leg had to be amputated, but he was still happy running around enjoying life and made a good pet and companion along with Jake. Jake remained stubborn even after recovering from 2 major strokes and Jack he remained a cool dude!
When I knew my time with the Military was coming to an end, I chose to do some courses with the Military on Dog Training as I knew one day this would be my chosen career.
On leaving the Army as a Sgt Major, I began working for the Home office as a Police Trainer. I was responsible for Training Police Probationers at Shotley Police Training Centre, which sadly no longer exists, the government closed the centre down and the place has been left to go to rack and ruin, the sad thing about that is there was such a lot of History there, it had been a Navy Training School for boys they were called the Ganges Boys and the Mast is still there 145ft approx.
On learning that the government was about to close shotley down as a Police training centre, I applied with the Home Office to go on a number of dog training courses, gundogs, drugs and Police dog training.
So you are probably wondering where I am going, writing about all the training I have done through out my Military career, well this is where my method stems from, because in the Military we have a system which methodically leads you through a training session and it never changes, it always remains consistent through out, so as not to confuse you ‘the trainer’ or the pupil ‘the dog’. I have now fine tuned this method and lots of people have used it successfully, the only thing required is that you be consistent and that means NEVER change your words of command when training, maintain your body language through out training, if you or the dog are having a bad day forget about training.