Branxholme Gundogs

           We teach YOU to teach YOUR dog!


Gundog and Obedience Training 

in Edinburgh & East Lothian

Our new website

now under construction

Please call to discuss Training Schedules and/or Private Tuition on a one2one basis. Small groups of 2 or 3 are ideal. Behavioural problems can also be discussed. 

Gundog training isn't necessarily aimed at working towards fieldwork and shooting... your gundog breed will be a more biddable companion with proper training regardless of whether your end goal is to work him/her.
Usually 1 lesson is sufficient to give the handler enough knowledge to proceed on the right track... knowing that wrong habits aren't ingrained at an early age... even as young as 4 months!
Basic skills such as walking to heel and recall can be taught in minutes..... working with the whistle will sharpen your dogs attention and you the handler will all of a sudden be more connected in all aspects of training... your aim is to stimulate him/her so that everything or everyone else is of secondary importance.

Eye contact is paramount in every task you set your canine companion.  If you don't have this prerequisite then your intended task will become all the more difficult to achieve.  There are obviously certain ways in which to encourage your dog to look towards you in order to do what you wanted rather than what he or she wanted!
Don't expect your puppy or young dog to listen to your commands if you don't have this established.....both audio-visual perception makes for a positive outcome in almost every scenario.

Once you see the success that these traits bring you will wonder how you failed to understand the simplicity of the things in the first place.   Your voice essentially is what trains your dog... because your puppy's desire is to please you above everything else it will much prefer to hear the 'good' sounds coming from your mouth rather than the 'bad' ones!...

and last but not least, LEARN HOW TO TALK TO YOUR DOG!... yep, you really can speak doggy language..... no night classes or open university study required... you'll surprise yourself at how easy it is to master.

 Alistair Mackay has over 25 years experience training dogs, winning 4 Field Trials (with different dogs) in Scotland and England.  Take the first step owe it to your dog!


 NEW ADDRESS:  13 The Glebe, East Linton. East Lothian  EH403EF 

 TELEPHONE: Home 01620 860177 &  and mobile  (preferred)   07483873444    



couple of short videos from shoot days  at Colstoun recently. The winter weather with snow provided too good an opportunity to miss out on

Great day on Friday with Colstoun Syndicate

Michelle and Morag (the Clumber Spaniel) had their second lesson on open ground today.

Very impressed with what Michelle has achieved in the short time since I saw her last.  Morag doesn't venture too far away from Michelle and wow, she is so tuned to the whistle. We specifically tackled  solutions to when Morag reverted to the naughty puppy trait of dinking about and not wanting to come right in to heel with whatever she has in her mouth. Michelle was well chuffed in the change after just 10 minutes spent working with the 'magic' trick.. Ha ha, the smile on Michelle's face when she saw the result was a joy to behold... better than any Christmas present she is going to get in a couple of weeks time.!........  and I'm sure Morag appreciated the pheasant she had for her tea that night!!!

Top Tip for December
Make use of the 'tractor tram lines' in all the stubble fields that are prevalent at the moment. Use them to get your dog 'going out' into ever increasing distances with 'seens' and 'blinds'. 
Then try the same distance retrieves without the 'tram lines'. Its good to get your dog out quickly and in as straight a line as possible...that is, the direction your straight arm has guided him in the first place.
November Latest
had Cuillin for a lesson on Saturday with Andrew and family... wow, he has got to be the most powerful dog I've ever handled in my life... not that big size wise, but OMG, he was pulling me all over the place!.... at the start of the lesson I'm glad to say... at the end it was certainly another matter.  What a transformation... Andrew's wife was walking around with Cuillin nicely attached to her knee where he should be... OK, it was just small yards at a time but what an improvement.  I hope they have such positive results with his brother in the days to come. 

What a pleasure to have Ted and family for a lesson on Saturday. 
He was a treat to instruct...and a very handsome boy....don't get many Goldies for training!!..they must be super intelligent!!
'Mummy' and 'Daddy' were left wondering whose dog they were looking at by the end of the lesson!.. Don't wait till the New Year before you come back maybe!... because he picked things up so quickly he'll be ready for more stimulation well before that.

------------------------------Ardmoor the country sports and great outdoors specialists have recruited me as one of their 'experts'!  The online clothing retailer has an impressive catalogue of everything relating to the pursuit of enjoying the 'great outdoors'.  Their headquarters, situated in Kingston near North Berwick, offers the bonus of collecting merchandise personally and avoiding delivery costs. Lots of gundog training equipment from brands including Bisley and Jack Pyke at competitive prices.

Latest : September

One of my few departures from gundog breeds resulted in a very welcome eye opening hours lesson recently.  Nick turned up with Finn his 9 month old Border Collie.. his colouring I'd never seen before... a mixture of brown and russets.. was a delight to behold... It was love at first sight ha ha.  He wasn't just a good looker either.. he certainly had a brain to match his cuteness. 'I could easily turn him into a gundog after a few more lessons' I opinioned to Nick  with a laugh.
Nick went away chuffed at how obedient and focused he was in the short time he'd been turned into a gundog!  Doing it all in a more challenging scenario is the next step in his development.  Congratulations to them both.

April 21st

I have uploaded a couple of 'shorts' to youtube this weekend. Arlo and I demonstrate the use of the 'stop' whistle and hand signals with voice instruction thrown in for good measure.
The first video is shot in lush grass (10 inches) which allows for any retrieve to be concealed enough for the dog not to be able to see it, but in this case there is actually no retrieve to find.

2nd Video handled over water

Both videos are under 2 minutes and are worth a look for the Novice handler.

A word about Arlo's progress....March 2023

He is maturing nicely after a 'tearing my hair out' (not that I've got any) for the first 18 months.  Having just turned 2 last week I can now see some light at the end of the tunnel (said with all fingers and toes crossed and me touching wood).  He isn't steady by any stretch of the imagination so this is the area that I will be giving a lot of attention in the coming months.... a case of 'get your backside down on the bloody ground' and 'where do you think you are going mate'.. probably

Ardmoor......May 25th

Read more on Training Page

1st Video in lush grass

Again the second video is a no retrieve exercise where Arlo is sent over a river to hunt around the perimeter and beyond before being instructed to return.  

It is important for your gundog to obey the recall command even though a retrieve has not been found, whether it be ball, dummy or game.

It is paramount to try and handle your dog within your field of vision as much as possible and get him near the 'fall area' if you know where that is.  If he goes out of sight he could be in the next County before you know where you are and it will be harder to get him back on track and into the desired location of the dummy or pheasant.  In the case of wounded game this will obviously have allowed the bird time to 'run' into cover and be more difficult to find. 

So, keep the dog in sight as much as possible and be ready to stop him, BEFORE, he goes behind a dyke or bush or whatever obstruction that might be present.

Training:  John and Copper .   Click HERE:

Training :  Jamie & Evie Story. Click HERE:

The wear at Preston Mill

Preston Mill

February 1st 

Well that's it over for another season....I'm sure keepers all over the land will be grateful if not relieved to have reached this time without committing hari-kiri! 
Smeaton last Thursday in glorious weather provided the keepers day guns with a challenging test of their abilities with some fantastic flights of pheasant and woodcock......a total head count of 103 at the days end just showed how well the team of 9 guns acquitted themselves ....and on Monday another great day in glorious East Lothian sunshine provided Mike's team with the perfect setting to be out and about.   Some delicious fare was set before our eyes at lunchtime with a most appetizing Shepherds Pie of Mike's and Chicken Curry provided by John....yummy !  

Good crack was evident on both days with Philip and Mike putting on memorable days to recall in our dotage. ....


youtube...... videos will be forthcoming when I get the time to edit all the footage.   Philip, please don't text me every week asking when they are being published ....ha ha...only joking!! 



Here's a pic of Philip's 2 fox red little girls Kelly and Ruby..£25 gift voucher if you can tell which is which............Philip's paying ha ha.

Jamie and Evie

Jamie had his first hand experience of a shooting day at Colstoun last week.  The Keepers Day provided the perfect opportunity to work his little cocker Evie.

(more to follow)

Mike's wonderdog 'Sam'

Just had a session with Ann and Hettie.

Hettie has loads of promise and should mature into a fabulous gundog or just a companion on the golf course at Gullane with Ann.  Ann needs to be more authoritative  with her voice and physical attention to Hettie.   Have fun.


Knowes Wear......great place for water work!

Wednesday 27th April

A good afternoon training with Lisa and Largo........Knowes Wear was ideal for the water retrieves and working Largo across the water whilst still being visible.   Well done to you Lisa for picking up on the tips I gave you.  Largo looks a lot more confident going 'out' and over the water rather than sticking at the waters edge as before.

 Saturday January 21st

Well that's it for another year. Only a couple of beaters days to go at Colstoun and Smeaton. Today was Andy's Syndicate and they had a memorable day to finish the season for Mike with terrific high birds presented to them. Nice to meet Steve and Sarah. Sarah was a great help picking-up. Hope to see you both again in December.

Arlo 1st Retrieve on Video
COLSTOUN December 31st 2022

Arlo pheasant along fence
Arlo retrieving Steve's bird
Steve's bird @ Doddies

Colstoun January 16th

 What a great day to be out and about with the fresh snow?.. we don't get it often so one has to make the most of it when it does come.... Colstoun provided the setting for a memorable day on the penultimate shoot of another season... Guns, beaters, pickers-up and all the dogs in perfect harmony make for a wonderful experience.

Last day on Saturday coming up and still super cold with snow on ground.

Arlo 2nd Retrieve

Arlo woodcock
The Boys

and a marvelous woodcock!
New strategy Alan!

The Magic Wand

December 31st         Today saw the shooting days of 2022 come to an end at Colstoun. A great day was had with the Garage Syndicate who shot the well presented birds of Mike's to the tally of over a hundred.  Apart from an inauspicious starting drive when he was wound up beyond control, Arlo eventually quietened down as the day progressed and acquitted himself to a more satisfactory conclusion by the time of the 6th and last drive.