I’m Matt Wilson from Westmorland Gundogs. A kennel Based in the south lakes with a passion for training and working Gundogs. 

I have worked dogs on shoots for over 15 years generally picking up. I have trained and produced both quality working and trialling dogs for clients and myself for over 8 years now. Currently, I am producing my team of dogs to be the very best in the field. Ruby my red bitch is competing in open test and trials, whilst Henry and Willow are in novice tests over the coming months. Alongside my own dogs, I am training clients with their dogs, for general obedience, working in the field and some trialling already which makes me very proud as a trainer.

When it comes to training equipment is very important but at the same time keep it simple, don’t overcomplicate things for yourself or your dog! 

Below are my “Go To” pieces of equipment.  

Slip leads: The importance of using the right lead to produce a good heel from a dog. I currently use a 4mm lead from Sporting Saint. I know it sounds aggressive the lead being so thin, however, they are quick and sharp to go on but very quick to release,  a lead isn’t there for a tow rope it is a guide for the dog, so is comfortable when the dog is walking to heal correctly. 

Acme whistle: A lot of our training is based around the whistle. 211:5 retriever 210:5 Spaniels 2012 pointers. Used right across the board for every breed of gundog so very important to every handler making longer distance commands a lot easier as the whistle travels a lot better than the voice. 

Dummies: I personally don’t mess around with different dummies I use 2lb dummies for adult dogs and 1lb dummy for a young dog. I don’t like to complicate things! If other dummies are needed to correct things that’s when we start adding other dummies in. There are lots of specialist dummies but they’re all for fixing problems. Rabbit dummies, 3-piece dummies, pelts, you name it they have it, these are all fantastic bits of kit, just with my dogs and clients’ dogs we keep it simple unless we have problems. The purpose of a dummy is to teach a dog to hold the dummy and retrieve the dummy correctly. This is to mimic a bird on a shoot day. I use the marker dummies (two-tone) for novice dogs, this enables them to see the target. I then often use the flight dummies (patterned like a bird) for memories and blinds for dogs which are further on as these camouflage well in covering and so dogs have to use their handler’s direction and their noses. 

Training vest: You can’t go wrong with a good vest when out working your dog – whether you are training or even walking down the street with your furry friend. It keeps both hands free if you clip your leads on. You can get them for all weather and sizes, there are so many out there and there isn’t a right or wrong, it’s just what you like and are comfortable wearing. The more pockets the better for me, but then I usually end up losing stuff as there are too many places to put stuff. I prefer a bigger pouch on the back as when I’m out training I like to be fully equipped with as many dummies as I am going to need for that session. 

Dummy launchers: These are a great bit of kit when used correctly for advancing your dog for the shooting field. Personally, I own handheld launchers and remote launchers from Sporting Saint. They’re useful for training a dog to shot. It’s got the loud bang then the added bonus of the favourite thing quickly followed by it. When I’m on my own and wanting to train dogs at distance, I use the remote 6-shot launchers, again from Sporting Saint. They are such a fantastic piece of kit, easily used with a remote keeping your hands fairly free and able to work a pack of dogs at a time. Both of these are very useful for a dog that struggles with drive. 

If anyone has any questions on my top 5 training equipment or anything else training related do not hesitate to get in touch via my Instagram @westmorland_gundogs