Embracing a New Perspective on Placeboard Training

As women, we understand the strength that lies in unity. When we come together, we not only find companionship but also a platform for growth and learning. This was evident on the 15th of April when eight members of the Ladies Working Dog Group (LWDG) and their loyal gundogs journeyed to Underbarrow, Cumbria. Together, we embarked on a fulfilling journey to master the art of placeboard training under the expert guidance of LWDG Group Expert Emma Stevens from Cunningshot Dog Training.

Photo taken by The Pop Up Photographer

A Warm Introduction to the Day

From the moment the day began began with a relaxed meet and greet over tea and coffee, it was clear this day would be about more than just training. The team of helpers and Emma outlined the expectations and the running order of the day.

Sharing the history of placeboard training, they emphasised the impact it can have on gundog training and how it can be used. The members were then given the chance to introduce themselves and their dogs, sharing their individual ambitions and expectations for the day.

Delving into Placeboard Training

The day’s training focused on placeboard training’s layer-by-layer approach. Regardless of the dogs’ previous experience with placeboards, Emma demonstrated the correct and consistent positioning for ‘levelling up’. Starting exercises included sit, distances, recall, heelwork, and static obedience positioning.

After a refuelling tea break (and cake!), the day continued with more breed-specific training, splitting the group evenly to focus on unique breed characteristics. The training was comprehensive, giving both the retrievers and spaniels specific tasks to perform.

Deep Dives and Directional Retrieves

Post-lunch, the training levelled up again, introducing directional retrieves with placeboards and discussing the process of weaning off placeboards. Understanding both the introduction and removal process is vital to maintaining consistency and the training level with and without the boards.

Photo Taken by The Pop Up Photographer

A Graceful Finale

The day ended exploring how placeboards can aid with water retrieving at the stunning pond at the training ground. It was amazing to see how the day’s lessons translated to a different location, with each dog maintaining a level of control in the stimulating environment.

Gratitude to All Involved

The LWDG are incredibly grateful to our host and LWDG member, Amanda Tolan, for opening up her home, Broadoak Training Ground, to host this remarkable event. Not to mention Photographer Emma from The Pop Up Photographer, who captured lovely pictures of the event, and of course, LWDG Group Expert Emma Stevens. This day couldn’t have happened without the help and dedication of all involved, including LWDG Guest trainers Becca Doveston, Regional Coordinator Sue Lister, Regional Organiser Sarah Drake and the admin team within LWDG.

Echoing Positivity

What makes these training days special is not only the skills acquired but the friendships formed and the shared experiences. The experience of the Ladies Working Dog Group (LWDG) members was positively transformative, reflecting the triumph of the day.

Louise appreciated the comprehensive organisation of the event, praising Sarah’s coordination, Emma’s expert delivery, and Amanda’s hospitality. She fed back with delight about the fabulous day she had, all thanks to the concerted effort of all involved.

Echoing similar sentiments, Sheila also expressed her delight in being part of LWDG. She humorously acknowledged the mental exhaustion that came with a day packed full of knowledge and engagement, ultimately calling the training day “another very special day.”

Una was equally grateful, extending her thanks to Emma for the impactful training and to Amanda for her gracious hosting. She recounted the delightful camaraderie that made the day enjoyable in a light-hearted and supportive atmosphere. Una also acknowledged the effort of Sue and Sarah for their valuable videos. Tired but content at the end of the day, Una looked forward to the next gathering of the group.

Carol reflected on the wonderful day of place board training amidst like-minded women. Her appreciation for Emma’s brilliant teaching and patience was evident, as was her gratitude towards the helpful LWDG team. Expressing her pleasure at being part of this supportive and non-judgmental group, Carol also thanked Amanda for providing the perfect setting for the day.

Chloe, who joined the training from Ireland, was overwhelmed by the warmth and inclusivity of the event. She relished the opportunity to engage with everyone, especially appreciating the efforts to make her feel welcome. She conveyed her eagerness for future events, inviting the hosts to keep her informed.

Lastly, Dawn’s words captured the essence of the day, appreciating the excellent training provided by Emma, Tom, Harry, and all of the LWDG helpers. She reported an amazing improvement in her dog Storm’s performance and highlighted the palpable positivity over the weekend that facilitated a smooth learning process. Exhausted but satisfied, Dawn found the training worth every minute and was eager to return for more.

Photo Taken By Sarah Drake

A Word from our Group Expert, Emma Stevens

Emma captured the essence of the day in her reflections, calling place board training the “bread and butter of my initial foundation training for all gundogs.” She was incredibly proud of how well the members did on the day, remarking, “This was one of my favourite training days to run of all time…”


This training day, while centred around place board training, was truly about the bond we share with our dogs and each other. As women training our gundogs, we are part of a unique, supportive, and non-judgmental community where we are continually learning and growing. Let’s embrace the challenge, learn from each other, and look forward to our next adventure together. If you are interested in becoming an LWDG Society Member, please visit Become A Member

Further Learning

Make Your Own Placeboard

The benefits of training a gundog with a place board

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