Branxholme Gundogs

           We teach YOU to teach YOUR dog!

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The Gundog Training Options 

In my capacity as a Gundog Trainer and Assessor you have the opportunity to  take advantage of our superb training facilities right here in East Lothian.  Contact us to discuss your training requirements, whether it be just the one session or a course of three or four.  Possibily you may want to book a group session with your friends.  Fees are £50 per hour on a one to one basis (partners are welcome to attend the lessons) and for group sessions a discounted rate is available.   January Special Offer..........

 FREE...FREE... FREE...Book a 5 week course and get your 6th lesson FREE

Why do you think Branxholme Gundogs might be the place to help you with your hound?

Whatever concerns or specific training requirements you have with your dog or puppy, please feel under no future obligation, if you want to chat with us and discuss if we can help you in any way.

The better way is to do it right the first time... if incorrect methods are implemented early in the young dogs life then it can be a hell of a job to eradicate them. Far better to know, and see as well by trial and error, that what you are doing is the tried and trusted way used by respected trainers, and not just in field work and competition, but just because you as the proud owner of the mut sitting beside you, want to develop his character and mind so that it is a joy and pleasure to take him out into the big wide world that awaits him or her....

If you and someone else often walk your dogs  together why not share a lesson and get two for the price one one effectively! It's a good idea to train with another owner. It gives you opportunities to try different things in different scenarios where doing them yourself would be more difficult or downright impossible. It also stimulates your dog to do better if it thinks that Fido beside him is going to 'get the biscuit' as it were, if he fails with his attempt go get it right in the first place. If your friend is 50 yards down the path it also encourages your pup to 'go out' and 'come back', which is basically what a trained dog is expected to do isn't it.... go out, have some fun and run around, but return to their owner when he or she says so... PRONTO!

At Branxholme Gundogs we train YOU, the handler, to train YOUR dog!

I try to inculcate in my pupils an attitude of enquiry... why does she do this?... why does he do that?... that never happens with my husband!... how do you stop him doing that and what makes him do that in the first place?... how can I get her to do what my neighbours puppy does in those instances?... Seek and ye shall find!... if you don't ask you'll never find out the answer.... as long as you're asking the right chap in the first place of course!                    Repetition         Repetition         Repetition   you'll only get success by doing it over and over again.... unless of course you're Lassie who gets it right first time.


nothing irritates me more then seeing dogs on leads ALL THE TIME because their owner hasn't had the confidence to let them off the lead.... OK, there's bound to be mishaps and calamities along the way but you have to fail a few times before they realise what the right way is.... remember what I said earlier about your tone when communicating with your dog.... they'll know the right way quick enough once they see your response after their success.
Training Aids:
You don't need much more than a tennis ball or a gundog dummy to assist you in your training regime.   However they can be used in a counter productive way so don't just think you chuck them in any old way!   If steadyness is the cornerstone of gundog training it is imperative that one uses the different tools of the trade in the correct manner... the steady dog is the trained dog remember.   Fido only goes when mummy or daddy says 'go' after all.


At Branxholme Gundogs we train YOU, the handler, to train YOUR dog!

 What's next Boss!............................Rhea and her mum Cola at Scremerston

Gundogs have worked as hunting companions in the field for centuries. Today they fill a wider range of roles and the majority live out simple lives as family pets. However, traditional gundog training still has much to offer to both dog and owner. Gundog training can help channel your dog's natural instincts and desires into a useful and exciting activity. It develops teamwork between you and your dog, and helps you to create a happy and obedient companion. The Gundog Club's logical step-by-step training and awards system takes the mystery out of gundog training.

A training course will help you channel your dog’s natural desires and talents into a useful and exciting activity……......Could you train a gundog?........Please email or call to find out might be surprised to find out how little correction is required to sort out the issues that are making your dog walks  the nightmare that they never used to be !    Tricks and tips that will last your dogs lifetime !!

John & Copper:

John and Copper getting ready for a retrieve. 

Since we met 3 weeks ago great strides have been made from what was evident this morning.  Copper is rock steady and is focused on targeting specific lines of going out for a retrieve.     

Great determination to hunt was shown with good scenting exhibited.  John has to now be more positive/forceful with the stop command to ensure Copper stops before going out of sight and consequently out of control. ALWAYS keep the dog in view as much ad possible to avoid AWOL issues .

Bobby with Otis & Arlo

Jamie & Evie cont....We began with the basics, whistle work and steadiness. I was amazed to see how quickly Evie responded to the ACME whistle, and how much more control I had after such a short space of time.  These skills were particularly useful within the city and town limits, as I felt I had a lot more confidence in her recall.

Throughout the months, we progressed from whistle work, to hunting dummies. The training methods that Alistair taught allowed me to practice with Evie on her daily walks.  This was by far Evie's favourite activity, as she loved searching for the dummies in local woods, and it tired her out a lot more by using both her brain and her energy.  I would recommend this for any overly hyper dogs.

Alistair Mackay is the owner of Branxholme Gundogs in East Lothian, and has over 25 years experience training dogs, winning 4 Field Trials (with different dogs) in Scotland and England.

Name:          Alistair Mackay
Job title:      Gundog Trainer
Location:     East Linton, East Lothian
Employer:   Self Employed


I retired 20 years ago after 25 years working in my retail business in Hawick and Kelso, and I now help anyone with a desire to have a better relationship with their Gundog.
I have worked worked 5 dogs at a time in my picking-up days at Hallrule and Branxholme in the Borders but I now find 2 dogs a more manageable number... ha, I can no longer carry all the birds that 5 dogs retrieve on a particularly successful drive!

I enjoy living in beautiful East Lothian and many beach walks after spending most of my life in the Scottish Borders with their rolling hills, and I play tennis, usually 3 times a week with my wife Sheila.

What made you choose this career?  

I enjoy helping people get the most out of their dog, whatever their concerns or specific training requirements may be, through either 1:1 sessions or group training.

How long have you worked within this industry?

30 years and counting - and I absolutely love it.

What do you love most about your job? 

Meeting people who want knowledge in order for them to have a better gundog experience.

What is your favourite time of year and why?

No preference as there is always something to do and keep busy with!

What is your most difficult time of year and why?

I enjoy all times of the year and being outdoors no matter the weather!

Bobby & Otis:  March 10th.


Good session today with Bobby and Otis.
Otis has come on leaps and bounds in the months that Bobby has had lessons. He is a big and powerful beast, Otis that is, not Bobby ha ha,....! and always very keen and excited when presented with dummies to retrieve, so just needs to calm down a bit and be more focused with Bobby's commands.  Arlo and Otis have many similarities so they enjoy their training sessions together... which is good in that they have to watch the other working and still be steady. 


Helping Otis give a better delivery has been a challenge but I'm glad to say that with some magic tips taken onboard by Bobby, light at the end of the tunnel is now in sight. ha ha!  Bobby and his team are regular helpers at Spott Estate near Dunbar.   Keep up the good work Bobby.

Otis & Arlo

Jamie & Evie:


I recognised that my young working cocker Evie had a much higher drive than my previous dogs, so I knew she would need something that really stimulated her. I approached Alistair for gundog training when she was approximately 8 months old to give her a shot at it.  I was completely new to this style of training , but Alistair was very welcoming and met me and Evie at our novice level.