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My Experiences as a Gun Dog Trainer: Group Training
by Hal Standish

Photos Provided by the Author

I attended group training for first time at Lebanon, Ohio in 1978. At the time, I was amazed that people actually got together on a regular basis to train their dogs. I always imagined that dog folks had no options but to train on their own. Since then, I've traveled to many other states just to train with folks more knowledgeable than myself. In each case I found groups of people from different walks of life that had a common goal - a trained dog - and they were working together teaching one another, literally, what each little dog needed next in it's development.

What a great way to spend a morning or an afternoon!

From that early beginning, I developed the idea that other breeds might benefit from the same type of training. Approximately fifteen years ago, I began to offer group training sessions encompassing literally all sporting breeds-from pointers to retrievers, and of course flushing breeds.

What is the value of group training? Without group training, I know that I would still be at square one in development, both mine and my dogs. What does group training provide the average man (or woman) with a sporting dog? It provides an opportunity to see what is required of a fully trained dog. It provides an opportunity to "practice" what will happen when they are in an actual hunting situation. It provides a "community" view of others' mistakes - and a chance to learn from those mistakes. It provides the handler with a chance to make mistakes on his or her own before they get into a hunting or competition setting. It provides a pride in accomplishments.

"It's remarkable to see the confidence and skill level increasing with each passing week."

It's also an opportunity to observe other handlers with other breeds and see how they do things. That alone brings a new appreciation for your own particular breed. It's knowledge building in more ways than just one. The chance to evaluate dogs that are doing well - and those that are struggling, brings a new enlightenment to the process. It is the opportunity to share ideas and try them out, to learn not only from our dogs, but from others in the group, as well. That is what group training is all about.

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