What do you look for in a dog?
Peter: Style, natural ability and a brain. There is no such thing as the perfect dog, but I like a good nose and plenty of style.
What is your Biggest Challenge with Pet Owners
Peter: Managing expectations. It takes years to train a dog and it is an ongoing process. If a dog also had behaviour issues this alone can take many months if not years to resolve. I can provide a starting point in just four sessions but the owner must then continue, be patient and put the time required into the dog.
Do you prefer trialling or judging?
Peter: Both, I’ve judged both in the UK and overseas, I am looking forward to judging this year as it gives me the opportunity to watch dog’s working however judging is a huge responsibility as all the competitors are there to win but, unfortunately, there can only be the one winner. I also enjoy competing with my dogs and meeting likeminded people. I have represented the UK with my dogs internationally and the Europeans are slowly catching up with the high standard of their dogs.
How successful is behaviour modification?
Peter: The success rate is high as long as the owner is committed and fully understands that it takes time. I can help and give advice and start the journey. My aim is to empower the in just four focused sessions with the knowledge to be able to help their dog when I am not around. Again it takes time and is rarely an overnight thing.
Have Dogs changed over the years?
Peter: I get to see a lot of dogs with my work, especially young dogs. The dogs are softer today. A lot are pushed on too early and people aren’t letting the dogs mature. They are also more robotic these days.
How has trialling changed?
Peter: Trialling now is quite different compared to when I started. Tests and trials are different – people are so afraid of using their whistle because of being penalised – this comes from the test side. But a good handler knows when to use their whistle. The standard is definitely higher; there are so many more facilities than there used to be. With the training days and gundog holidays people go on, it’s incredible. Ten years ago only a few people could go on partridge training days or rabbits; now it is open to everyone. Again, 10 years ago in a 12-dog stake half would run in and half would make a noise; now in a 14-dog stake, 12 will be good dogs and any could win.
How would you sum up trialling scene at the moment?
Peter: It has improved but still has a long way to go. Too many people bring out their dogs too early to trial. That can ruin a dog. I would urge all owners and trainers to get your basics right, because you cannot turn the clock back once the damage is done. There’s room for improvement. It is a sport that is open to the poorest or the richest, youngest or oldest, and because the training facilities are so good everyone has the same opportunities.
What is the best advice can you give to a pet owner with a dog with behaviour issues?
Peter: The best advice I can give is do not ignore bad behaviour as it will only get worse. The stress with both owner and dog will increase and everyone just falls into a trap. A dog/relationship should be a partnership and stress free.