Branxholme Gundogs

           We teach YOU to teach YOUR dog!

07.10.22 08:43 Scott Davidson
Alistair is a great trainer. A 1 hour lesson has massively improved our confidence in handling our adolescent intact black lab dog especially off the lead. The whistle work and the importance of the dog seeing your hands when he is far away has made a huge difference. We definitely recommend. Thank you!

03.10.22 12:22 Jamie Freyne
Alistair is a fantastic trainer and the gun dog training has been doing wonders for my young cocker spaniel. Within days, the whistle work has made a dramatic improvement to her obedience.
She has also made great improvements in steadiness, and loves the exercises that Alistair recommends. The direction Alistair gives me is also brilliant, as after each lesson I am clear on how I am going to spend the next few weeks working with my cocker to improve her gun dog skills.

20.07.22 14:06 Claire Gardner
A neighbour recommended Alistair as we wanted to make sure we were on the right track with our 4 month old lab. He gave me some great pointers and tips - and in just over an hour we covered walking to heel, whistles, recall, basic commands, playing and the not-so-simple art of getting a puppy to sit quietly and do nothing at all. Lots to practise at home. Thanks Alistair!

15.07.22 17:23 Charles Lyall
Alistair did a great job with Molly, a great guy

07.06.22 10:59 Alistair
wow...!.. Sai!.... I didn't expect such an encouraging endorsement!... glad the tips made a difference and hopefully more improvement will come at your next lesson.

06.06.22 22:08 Sai Ragunath
I first contacted Alistair when my German shorthaired pointer puppy was 6 months old. My pointer is from working lines, strong prey drive and high energy. I had always intended to take him to a gun dog trainer as I knew his instincts would need to be channeled constructively. Alistair really knows these dogs inside and out and he has tried and tested methods for managing gun dogs. I could see my pups behaviour change very dramatically when working with Alistair and he was focused, listening and willing. We will be going back when he is a bit older to do some more formal gun work but i am very pleased we found Alistair and I must say a session with him is worth more than 20 bog standard puppy classes!

05.06.22 20:58 Alistair
just catching up.. thanks Marie and Faye.
Faye, I hope Molly is gradually losing her fear of strangers and is allowing you to put into practice the things you learnt. Marie, that's great to hear that Monty is responding to your new found knowledge!.. onwards and upwards!

05.06.22 15:13 Marie Nisbet
Had my first session with Alistair this week helping me with my 6 month old Labrador Retriever (Monty) and I found the session invaluable.. Alistair demonstrated a few key basics around how I could use my voice to keep the dog focused on knowing what was good v bad behaviour, and also making my instructions very clear, to help Monty to understand what he was being asked to do. We have our homework to complete, and we will be working on this over the next few weeks .. Alistair is great at providing you with the tools you need to then train your dog.. and it is a huge confidence builder when you start to see the results.. we cannot wait for our next session.. Marie and Monty

24.05.22 22:20 Faye
Alistair was great today with a slightly different lesson
being needed when my pup became fearful of being handled by someone else. I still got great advice and tips and really looking forward to returning once we've practiced. Such a knowledgeable handler. Thank you

06.05.22 19:36 Dave
Had one lesson with Alistair and immediately saw the difference a skilled trainer can make. His approach and philosophy towards dog training is firm but always kind and makes total sense to the handler as well as the dog. Observed the positive change in the relationship with my young dog almost immediately. Thanks, Alistair.

27.10.21 20:47 Daniel
I recently got my first own dog; a working cocker currently 15 weeks old. Having grown up with German Shepherds and Labradors, I was fairly confident for training a dog. However, given my dog is from working lines, I wanted to give him the best opportunity. The 1 hour one to one session with Alistair was extremely valuable and the time flew by. Importantly though, I realised I had quite a bit to learn, not just the dog! Particularly on the tone of my voice and also reacting quicker before the dog starts to lose focus and do his own thing. Hopefully as we progress we can do more sessions and move on to field work!

13.10.21 11:41 Joyce
Had a very useful one hour session with our nearly 4 month old cockapoo Angus. I’d never used a slip lead with previous dogs but feel confident using one now. Lots of info on heel walking and recall which were our main concerns. We’ve been practising since which is half the battle.
Thank you Alister for your advice.

27.09.21 17:58 Annette
hi.. just had first of 3 lessons with Alistair. Fern my 6 month cocker really took to it very quickly. Having attended puppy socialising classes recently i found this gundog training to be far more beneficial for pup and me.
Terriers and poodles are OK if you are so inclined but gundogs perhaps need more stimulating tasks to move them forward with any training!... hope you agree Alistair!
Will do my homework for next time and hopefully progress will have been made. Thoroughly recommend Alister to anyone with a young dog needing answers and remedies.

07.09.21 14:18 Alistair
Thanks guys for your comments.. its nice to see some guys on the bus for a change.... the fairer sex outnumber the boys by a ratio of 4 to 1 with lesson take ups!..
AND, they are more likely to comeback for more knowledge at a later date!... maybe a case of the boys thinking they don't need anybody else to help them train 'their dug'.. ha ha

07.09.21 11:06 Colin Hunter
Thanks Paul, wherever you are!.. I was going to do a review of the lesson I had with Alistair yesterday but you took the words right out of my mouth so I'll just put 'ditto' for my own experience with Tarn, my 3 year old Lab.
Regards Colin.

07.09.21 11:00 Paul Haddow
I had my usual pre season lesson with Alistair today and found it very beneficial.. Over the last year I had forgotten some of the handling tips that Alistair picked up on so it was good to be reminded and be back on track. Murphy, my 4 year old cocker soon responded to my new found knowledge so it was good for him as well. I feel more confident now to have his lead off when around other dogs, which obviously present the greatest desire to disobey my commands. As Alistair comments over and over again 'it's not what the dog does, rather it's what it doesn't do that matters more'!. Thanks Alistair. (maybe another lesson around Christmas.)

15.07.21 11:24 diane hunter
I had a really informative and interesting lesson with my 15 week old puppy and within a few hours she was walking nicely to heel. Thanks Alistair 👍

29.05.21 19:25 Alistair Mackay
just got this email from Adele who came to me in March... had to share it because it was so nice!
Hi Alistair,
I just wanted to say thank you so much for the advice and training a few months back.
A week after our session with you Miley went into season so was kept on the slip lead for a month. During the time we worked on loose lead walking and reducing the mad excitement of walks and BIRDS and played games working on me keeping her attention and being way more exciting than everything else.
I never though I would ever enjoy a walk off the lead with Miley again or trust her to be off the lead.
After her seasons ended we went a walk out to John Muir let her off the lead. I was so anxious at this point. Anyway, she was amazing and has been amazing since. I tough her “this way” with one whistle. Which she very quickly picked up and once she goes too far and hears the whistle she knows it’s time to come back in closer.
Being much stricter on her has made the word of difference and she is is a fantastic loose lead walker too!
I am now back to loving off the lead walks with her and she’s far more calmer.
I do wish I came to see you far sooner.
All the best,
Adele & Miley (the red Cocker Spaniel).

17.05.21 21:19 Erin
Thank you very much for today Alistair, was a great confidence booster and got some amazing advice which we will work on! Can’t wait to come back for our next session!

28.03.21 23:57 Alistair
thanks Adèle. wow... I expect improvement to come but not that quick.. ha ha.
As I mentioned at your lesson your pup picks things up quickly so keep on challenging her with different tasks to keep her mind focusing on you. regards Alistair

28.03.21 17:26 Adele
Thank you Alistair for a fantastic lesson last week. Prior to our lesson all I would hear on walks was how energetic my pup was. Well after our lesson we took our pup a walk in East Linton and two people said what a well behaved dog!! I couldn’t believe it!! What a transformation from just one lesson and continued improvements over the week. I would highly recommend Alistair. Thank you!

26.03.21 14:24 Alistair
thanks for your nice words Agnes... yes you have to be more positive in your thinking... you look on the downside too much... everything will turn out fine... just remember that they are YOUR rules and not the puppy's! Firm and fair as they say and always consistent.

25.03.21 12:58 Agnes Kowalski
thank you Alister for a most informative lesson. You have the patience of a Saint... more so with me as much as with Scamp. I will try and be a bit more laid back when I come for my 2nd lesson. I experienced a different puppy when I got back to Dalkeith with the heel work especially much improved. I know that all the work done now will pay dividends later in Scamp's adult life. See you in 4 weeks.

15.03.21 14:50 Alistair
oh thanks Lucy. You did well and Flash will be a quick learner I'm sure. more 10 out of 10's hopefully!

12.03.21 13:22 Lucy
Thank you so much for my fabulous first lesson. I learnt a lot and will practice ready to show off when we meet again. I fear I need more training than my dog! You are a brilliant teacher, very clear and easy to understand.

16.02.21 08:21 Alistair
Thanks Diane, Maple is pretty much switched on for her new training regime already. Remember the peep and the heel command and the loose lead. Use the palm of your hand repeatedly and you'll be fine. Enjoy.

15.02.21 16:48 Diane
Thanks Alistair for today's session - great to see just how effective your tone of voice, getting dog's attention and use of whistle are. Really looking forward to putting into practice over next few days and weeks. Really worthwhile coming to someone with such great specialist knowledge.

30.12.20 18:05 Jim Donald
Just had our first session with Alistair, he was down to earth and gave easy to understand instructions for us to try and train our puppy. The hard work starts now as we try and put in to practice what we were told. Walking to heel seems better already and recall using the whistle is better, (only tried it in the back garden though so far :-) )

27.12.20 15:15 Rab
Just had first lesson with Alistair and went really well , now I just have to put into practice what Alistair showed ( trained ) me to do . Mac responded well to his first session and i will definitely be back for more instruction . Thank you .

29.11.20 14:59 DANIEL SANDERSON
Very helpful lesson, thanks

04.11.20 00:27 Alistair
should have said walking to heel 'off' the lead.. even more remarkable! 👏

03.11.20 22:56 Alistair
thanks Scott for kind words. Olive is progressing faster than you could possibly have hoped (even in your wildest dreams even). She is only 7 months after all. walking to heel the way she did yesterday was something else! Maybe just accept now that you are going to have a very well trained Cocker in the not too distant future! (48 lessons to go)

03.11.20 15:28 Scotty
Had second visit to Alistair yesterday and came away most pleased with our 7 month cocker Olive. Had recall issues and general anxiety about letting her off the run off at will! 😂.... She performed very well for her age and Alistair put my own anxieties to rest with sound advice and a course of action going forward. Without any question of a doubt would recommend anyone with training issues to go see him... excellent service... Cheers Alistair!

19.10.20 23:05 Stephen Scott
Had my first 121 lesson with Alistair a couple of weeks ago focusing on heel training and steadiness with my 2 year old bitch lab. Alistair was a great trainer and gave me a couple of simple points to focus on which in the following weeks have really made a difference. Can’t wait for our second session and progressing the training.

19.10.20 20:10 Ed Rennie
I took our 4 month old lab Brora to Alastair today, which was our second session together. Again we learnt a lot and went away with plenty to work on for the next few weeks. As promised, Alastair is very much training us to train her - the dog is picking things up quicker than us! looking forward to our next session!

08.10.20 23:57 Alistair
Thank Lia for your kind words. Bear is clever and you will have great fun. Glad the walking to heel is working now. I was really impressed with bond between you wee boy and Bear. Pals for ever. Have never seen a dog so infatuated with a little boy like that in my life. Remarkable!

08.10.20 20:42 Lia mckay
I took my 10 month old pup to visit Alistair last night for a training session on obedience. He is very knowledgable and had my pup lead issue sorted within 30 mins. I found him very informative and assuring. I have used some basic information today out in a field and my dog loved it just as much as me. I would not hesitate to recommend or use this service in the future. He even offers advice via email or on the telephone which is brilliant service (but probably not necessary as he is so good).

07.10.20 22:04 Alistair
Thanks for the glowing tribute folks. Are you sure you are referring to me and not someone else! ha ha.

06.10.20 13:57 Hillary Lyall
Managed to get a cancellation with Alister today. To be honest he wasn't our first choice when choosing someone to get advice. Training classes with another 5 dogs doing their own thing didn't quite cut the mustard with us so we opted for one to one with Alister.
We have no intention of shooting with our 6 month old Yellow Lab Isla so we didn't know what to expect.
However we were soon told that the same training, more or less, applies for all dogs at this age. Obviously if a Gundog is what you want then the training can be tailored to your own specific requirements. Alister took us through our paces in a way which dealt with our own
shortcomings and then beyond this to a level which we didn't think we would require but which actually looks like we will both enjoy.. that's me and the wife by the way.. never mind our puppy! Couldn't recommend Alister highly enough. We will be back for more tuition in 6 weeks. p.s. Alister maintained a strict Covid 19 protocol throughout the lesson.
Hilary and Lillian Lyall

03.10.20 00:01 Alistair
thanks to you Kevin & Kerri as well. I haven't had anyone, human or animal, been in awe of me before!.. must tell my wife! Kobi did really well.

02.10.20 23:54 Alistair
thanks for your kind appraisal Fergus... you didn't waste ant time trying out your new found skills then!

02.10.20 17:25 Fergus
Just had a lesson today with Alister. I took our 1 year old springer for an assessment from Alister to see if he thought she was ready for shooting season.
Glad to say Maisie passed with flying colours although I can see now that there is lots still to do to get the finished article. Lots of tips and tricks we're learnt
certainly and I have been trying Maisie on them this
afternoon already and they are working I am glad to say.
Would certainly recommend Alistair as he seems to have a natural bond with dogs without employing any drastic
methods. As he says himself, if the dog likes you then their greatest desire is to please you in return.

01.10.20 19:50 Kerri Hogarth
We had our first training session with Alistair. We were building up basic obedience. Kobi was in Awe of Alistair and done so well. He is a 6 months Hungarian Vizsla. Alistair gave us great advice and tips which we can put into practice straight away. I was looking for some fun interactive training where I can work with Kobi and build his skills and teamwork. I feel like this was a great opportunity to do this and I look forward to our next session.

24.09.20 13:25 taff
been for a leeson with Alistair yesterday with my 18 month old Lab.
just a few problems needed sorted before shooting starts next month.
Picked up loads of tips and looks like we are all set for the season.
Lesson went on for over 1.5 hours although it should have been just the hour, so £40 was good value. Will go back in a couple of months for sure. Thanks Alistair.

08.03.20 14:14 Tom
Visited Alistair today for a lesson with Ben my 8 month old cocker. Ben had been relatively easy work up until the last couple of months. Definitely developed more naughty habits in that time! Alistair quickly identified what the possible solutions to all Ben's bad boy tenancies and after 15 minutes he was a different dog! Have our homework to be going on with and will return in 3 weeks to get Ben's report card signed by Alistair!

20.01.20 14:02 Tony Thornthwaite
Moss and I had a lovely training session with Alistair today. Moss did well but it was me who learnt a lot and Alistair has given me confidence to try out what I have learnt. Hopefully Moss won't be setting off for the far horizon, or nearest deer, soon.

17.11.19 15:47 Charlotte & Gigha
Had a 1st session with Alistair on 17/11/19 . I can’t believe what he achieved with my 5 month old Labrador in an hour. He has given me so much to think about! Whether I can manage all he has told me remains to be seen! I will do my best, but I think I will back sooner rather than later as I don’t want Gigha to develop more bad habits. I can highly recommend Alistair as a trainer of owners - as well as their dogs

30.09.19 19:53 Alistair Mackay
Wow Gavin, what a fab review. It really is simple when you break it down into little compartments whereby you put the ticks in the boxes as it were. Start working at close range and extend when you get success. Bran has got all that it takes so it is up to you to nurture his natural enthusiasm. Enjoying it makes it all the more rewarding. Alistair.

30.09.19 10:49 Gavin
Great session with Alistair on Saturday as we start out on our gundog training journey. Alistair was able to give me plenty to work on and explained exactly what I should be doing for success. Walking to heel is now a pleasure and it was so simple to get it right. Alistair showed me that training for Bran is fun for him and he doesn’t even realise he is being trained. I will be back once we have nailed what we learned!

18.07.19 23:58 Alistair Mackay
Hey Paul
Wow!.. Thanks for that great review. You should have received by now the training documents that are generated by your review automatically but if you don't get them let me know. It was a pleasure giving you my knowledge and it was pretty obvious that you have done some good work yourself with Munro. He is a credit to you and enjoys the stimulation of new challenges from what I witnessed last night. Sorry we ran out of time in the end before I was able to go over the whistle and how it can be used to aid quicker uptake by your young dog. As per your request I'd leave it for about a month before we have our next lesson. Thanks again.

18.07.19 22:33 Paul Harris
I have a 2 year old fox red Labrador called Munro. I could not for love nor money get him to deliver to hand, he would always drop it at my feet or within a metre radius of me. I spoke to other trainers, read up on it and watched videos about it and still could not do it.
After 20 minutes with Alastair we nailed it and it was spot on and it continued all the way throughout the training session. We then covered it with 2 dummies which Munro succeeded again and again.
The next day I conducted another training session with Munro on my own and he continued to do it. Munro liked Alastair which was very good and Alastair had a very diligent, professional and formal approach to the training.
I would definitely recommend Alastair 100% to somebody who would like to do gun dog training with their dog.

11.04.19 22:01 Murray Wilson
My 6 month old GWP ‘Corrie’ had a great training session today with Alistair. We covered the basics: coming to heal, whistle commands and retrieving. We also covered other domestic niggles we have experienced so far, to make sure we are on the correct path for Corries continued training.
Great instruction with a wealth of knowledge and tips. We’ll be sure to return.

01.04.19 21:25 Ruth Chandler
We had a great training session with Alistair. He has a calm approach with dogs and our young bitch was following his instruction within minutes. He worked through many exercises we can try ourselves at home. We feel more confident and it is clearly us who need the training - not the dog! Many thanks for all your help. We will be back for more.

22.03.19 19:41 Gwen Robb
My Springer Henri and I went to visit Alistair 20/3/19 I have lots of useful tips about training him and wish I had taken him sooner. It was good to get one to one training as Henri finds it difficult to focus. Alastair has a very nice manner with both the dogs and their owners.Planning to practice the exercises and go back in a month for a review.

13.01.19 11:48 James Easton
My wife and I visited with Alistair to get some pointers on training our spaniel Juno. The hour was very beneficial with Alistair showing us some basic gun dog training and showing how receptive Juno is to learning and taking instruction. Alistair was a great instructor and we would both highly recommend his tutoring.

24.10.18 21:53 Kenny G
Visited Alistair for a top up lesson prior to the season starting and getting my lab Cassie into shape
before she embarrassed me on my shoot. Well worth the hour spent at Binning Wood. Steadyness now far better than before so I should enjoy my shooting days a lot more from now on. HOPEFULLY! Thank you once again. Kenny G. North Berwick.

16.10.18 13:46 Malcolm and Bla Bheinn
Enjoyed a really worthwhile first session with Alistair today, working on the basics and making sure that we’re going in the right direction with our 9 month old Springer Spaniel. The advice was clear and consistent, and will see us through a few weeks of work now. Invaluable experience with the obvious knowledge and passion for the dogs and training them well. Many thanks!

01.06.18 22:17 Andy and Lisa
We had our first Gun dog training session today with Alistair. He gave my wife and I some great information and techniques to use when training our 13 month old Springer Spaniel (Scarpa).
We are now working on these techniques in preparation of further lessons from Alistair who clearly knows his stuff.

09.09.17 20:47 Elish
Having been recommended to Branxholme Gundogs by a friend,
I would just like to post a quick review of our experience with Alistair this afternoon. My husband and I with Asbo our Sprocker Spaniel visited with trepidation about what could be done to sort out our concerns. Asbo (name gives a clue to his character) is 13 months old and just really does what he wants without any respect for mummy and daddy...... his main fault being that he doesn't come back to us when we want him to.... more like when he himself is good and ready! Not any more I'm glad to say after our hours lesson yesterday afternoon. Asbo's recall to base is really improving after just one day and we feel more confident with allowing him off the lead in the park and our walks. Thanks again, and we will be going back for more tips and tricks. Eilish McCabe.

03.05.17 12:17 Stephen
Alistair worked with our two 9 month old Labs, we had issues with lead pulling and poor recall. Now equipped with the right tools and seeing an improvement already. Thank you.

15.04.17 20:59 Lesley-Anne Mathieson
We have a headstrong 15 month old rescue cocker spaniel who up until now has had no formal training and is used to doing what he wants when he wants! I sought Alistair's advice specifically in relation to his recall (or lack of). Alistair took us back to basics and explained and demonstrated how basic commands all interlinked with each other,which if perfected through patience, repetition and consistency, would result in a much better behaved dog. This was not rocket science and no startling revelations were revealed but it was nice to have the reassurance of a professional who has clearly devoted his life to dogs. Alastair has a calm and couthy manner about him which our dog responded well to. I only hope we can keep up the good work and build on the guidance provided by him. Thank you

05.04.17 19:35 Jill Sneddon
I think Alistair's training would be useful to any kind of dogs. We were struggling with recall on our one year old jack russell/cocker spaniel cross and called on Alistairs expertise. He gave us a one to one lesson on dog training basics that the whole family participated in. In just a few days of repeating Alistairs advice, we have noticed significant behavioural changes.
I would absolutely recommend him to anyone looking for either gundog training (I have seen his dogs in action!) or just actually for a lesson on the basics.

06.03.17 14:29 Mr Ian & Dr Victoria Todd
Our English Pointer is two years old, without any formal training, and whilst he is naturally good natured and obedient, in only one hour, Alistair Mackay introduced us to concepts that have enabled the animal to heel, fetch and return, etc. We are not hunters, but English Pointers are bread for hunting, so we felt that the training should be initiated by an instructor who understood hunting dogs, and Mr Mackay delivered. A must for all hunting dog owners.

10.01.17 20:42 John
Just been to Alistair to use this year's Christmas present voucher.
I have a 10 month old Springer Spaniel / Lab cross which I hope to be able to pick up with maybe later this year. Alistair pointed out the things I was doing wrong or maybe I should say things that would lead to problems later on and I have to say that since I have adopted his recommendations things have improved significantly. . Steadiness is so important I've learned and it makes for a far more pleasurable training experience in so many other ways. Alistair has an obvious affinity with dogs and you can see how they are keen to please him in everything that they do..... they never take their eyes off him and are so focused in everything asked of them. . I have my homework for the next 2 weeks and will definitely be back for more knowledge from Alistair.
John Bainvbj

08.01.17 14:58 Mark
We took our weimaraner pup of 6 months to see Alistair. She was very problematic on the lead but after one session, Alistair's firm but fair techniques had her walking at heal on command. He is full of knowledge and really enjoys emparting knowledge. I particularly liked the fact that Alistair brought along his labs as that was teaching her that training was training even around other dogs. Definitely going back for more.

09.11.16 08:37 Ginny Heggie
We took our puppy Fergus to see Alastair. We all enjoyed the session and found it incredibly helpful. We were inspired by what Alastair had our wee guy doing within minutes and will be going back in a few weeks once we have done our homework.

03.10.16 12:11 Elaine and Stephen Morris
We took our mad spaniel Millie to Alastair for obedience training with a view to gun dog training in the future. Alastair was great with both us and the dog!! When we've done our homework we will return for another session. All three of us enjoyed the training session. Difficult to say which one of us was the most tired. Alastair was our fourth trainer and by far the best one! Alastair also provided great follow up post training.

14.07.09 23:21 Anne
Oh, I just saw there is Tibea Tosh in your breed! No wonder the dog is beautiful! He's the granfather of our Eddy vom Gerretsfeld and the great-grandfather of our Bucks von Güldenring.
Greetings from Germany!

14.07.09 23:17 Anna
Nice hp and really really beautiful dogs!!! I like the "old" type...not to heavy not to skinny. Exactly like a lab should be!

14.06.09 13:55 Don
Perfect dogs! I also have a black Lab bitch. Pure gundog. Nice videos!
Greeting from Croatia!

22.05.09 14:55 Steve
Fabulous videos, just fabulous to watch the dogs working and the music is excellent. I currently have a lab going through the Gundog club graded training, he got through grades 1 and 2 with distinction and now working for grade 3 in June. Keep it up, just wish I was nearer.

17.03.09 01:22 Elaine Kelleher
Great videos Alistair, amazing the difference in size and ability between 19 & 34 days. Well done.

03.02.09 20:26 Kate Younger
I have just read Stokers report card and could not stop smiling. He's very keen but then so are all the dogs you bring on. Carrum is still a delight we recevied a free photo session when I bought my new car and the photographer was so impressed with him he's asked to use him on his website. I have bought the Stage 1 Gundog training book from the club so we are SLOWLY working through it. Great news about the new pups - I'll cross my fingers for each one.