First of all, a little background into why we decided to have Zak professionally trained, and how we came to choose Lamington.
In September 2005 we lost our 10 year old Border Collie to a sudden heart attack. We were very upset at this, and decided not to buy another dog for a few years.
In March 2006 I was diagnosed with Colonic Cancer, Gallstones and a few other "bits and pieces" that required quite a severe, emergency operation. After being released from hospital the following month, I was at a low point and needed something to get me focused again. We decided to buy another dog. As I shoot quite regularly, we decided on a gundog in general, and a Large Munsterlander in particular. On finding a pup, and buying it, the new pup (Zak) was my constant companion for the next five months.
This caused us some problems when I eventually went back to work. As Zak had had constant companionship all his life when I left him to go to work he became very upset, and very vocal and destructive. An added problem was his behaviour both on and off the lead. We had taken him to puppy classes, but after a few lessons we realised that the woman who ran the classes was only used to "sit, stay" type teaching, and had not got the first idea of how to handle a HPR breed (despite her assurances she was qualified). We then started to have Zak trained one a one-to-one basis with a local "gundog expert". At first this went quite well, but it soon became clear that he was more interested in letting us know all about the psychology behind training than actually doing the training himself.
I started to research on the internet into putting Zak into a residential training environment. Most training centres were very keen on either training for obedience (and specialising in what I would call "pet breeds") or were "full-on" working gundog centres. None of these seemed suitable. That's when I stumbled upon Lamington Gundogs. This seemed the ideal place to start Zak's training. Not only was Graham (the owner) running a working kennels, but he offered basic obedience courses as well as working gundog training. A bonus was that there was a real timescale. All other training centres were noncommittal on how long they would take to train a dog. Graham's courses were 3 weeks long and he guaranteed results! This also gave us the opportunity to get away ourselves for a well needed break. Leaving Zak would be hard, but he was with a professional.
We took Zak to Graham in September 2006. Nothing was needed, everything was provided by Graham. No bedding, lead, collar, food or anything. Graham immediately put us at ease. His professional, laidback attitude gave us a massive confidence boost, and a quick look around his premises shows just how well all the dogs are looked after. Graham even came out and met us when we got lost!
After 3 weeks I went back to Lamington to pick up Zak. A chat with Graham revealed that Zak had been a bit upset when we first left him, but he had eventually settled down. Zak had also been very stubborn with the training but Graham had persevered and he was keen to show me the results. I was given instructions on how to follow them to the field without Zak seeing me and not to come out of the car until Graham called me.
Graham went into the kennels and reappeared with Zak walking perfectly at his side, with no lead on! Zak walked at heel all the way to the field, and then Graham put him through his paces. Sit, stay, down, recall, all were done perfectly. Graham then called me from the car and, after a couple of minutes of hello's to Zak, I was shown how to handle Zak properly. We returned to Grahams home for a full de-brief and a relaxed chat about Zak, dogs and life in general. Graham's wife was also involved in the conversation, and they both really make you feel part of the process rather than just a client.
We have followed Graham's instructions over the last few months and Zak has come on in leaps and bounds. I would heartily recommend Lamington Gundogs to anyone who needs to get the basics right with their dog. Graham's attitude to dogs is a revelation. He is strict without being in any way overbearing or cruel, and he shows great empathy without coming across overly PC or as a softy. We are so impressed that we are going to book Zak in for another stay very soon just to give him (and us!) a reminder of how things should be done. I will also, if Graham allows, be taking Zak up for some basic working gundog training.The best recommendation I can give is this. Graham is over 200 miles from us, and a 9 hour round trip. I would never consider another kennels to look after Zak. If it's kennelling, obedience training or just a chat with someone who knows what they are doing, it will always be Graham and Lamington Gundogs for us.
Russ Kaye - Manchester