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Specialising in Hunt Point & Retrieve Breeds

My Dog Training Story

My love affair with man’s best friend started when I was just a child. From the age of 9 years old, I was working German Shorthaired and Wirehaired Pointers to a high competition standard, under the watchful eye of my step father (Trevor Rigby) who ran a successful dog training business – Dorntanza Gundogs.

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Upon leaving school I joined the family business and was involved in training dogs (mainly Hunt Point Retrievers – HPR) for the gun and birds of prey. This proved the ultimate ‘apprenticeship’ and provided me with a valuable grounding in field training and how dogs think and behave.

Royal Army Veterinary Corps Trainer

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At the age of 27 I joined the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) and for 15 years enjoyed a fulfilling career as a Dog Trainer. My role involved instructing UK and international students and soldiers within the Armed Forces, Police, Prison Service, HM Customs and civilians both at home and overseas in Canine Search, Protection, Tracking and Obedience.

From the training, instructing and handling of Specialist Dog teams for the London 2012 Olympics to training defence professionals on how to work with dogs to detect ivory and buried explosive devices, my position as a Training Sergeant for Detection Dogs took me all over the world. I was humbled to receive the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery whilst serving in as part of an operational Tracker Dog Team. As a respected Class 1 Canine Instructor and SME (Subject Matter Expert) in Military Working Dogs I have had the privilege of delivering lectures and demos to the Royal Family, Special Forces, Police and Prison service as a member of the British Counter IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) Team.

Going it Alone

Upon leaving the RAVC I returned to Dumfries and started my own business in training dogs with behavioural problems and their owners.

Since then I have shared my knowledge and expertise built up over a career spanning over 30 years, to offer specialised training for working (gun) dogs and their owners, as well as helping pet owners deal with a variety of obedience / behavioural issues with their dogs.

I have recently relocated to Hertfordshire where I continue to deliver bespoke one-to-one training for dogs and their owners.

My ethos is straightforward, success through an innate understanding of dog psychology – never brute force! Dogs need a focus, they need to have a purpose and this gives them stimulation and a far greater bond with you their owner and Pack Leader.

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Training Offered

Many of the dogs who I come across in my professional career as a Dog Trainer have recently been re-homed and are rescue dogs. On a personal level, I derive a huge amount of satisfaction at witnessing the transformation of a dog which was potentially sitting on ‘death’s row’ – as a result of its unruly behaviour – into a happy, content animal that can benefit from a secure and settled life.

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Behavioural Training

Not all of our clients are ‘troubled dogs’, some merely require a bit of expert guidance to address minor obedience matters – and essentially to learn some manners! Here’s an outline of the training that I can help with:

  • Obedience
  • Aggression towards other dogs / people
  • Anxiety (separation anxiety and generally nervousness)
  • Puppy training
  • Mind stimulation (tracking, trailing and basic detection)

Gun Dog Training

In addition, I offer professional HPR and Gundog training and problem solving. Training spans from the basics up to shooting over your dog as a team. Bespoke training includes:

  • Developing you and your dog’s retrieval skills and preparing them for the season or any forthcoming working tests
  • Training your dog to be steady on game as a working (Peg) dog, no more shouting and embarrassment!
  • Off leash obedience work and response to body language (so when you raise your gun the dog will sit, this also applies to shot work, to eliminate the “Running in”).

I am able to provide comprehensive demonstrations on all aspects of HPR / Gun-dog training methods using my own dog. My one-to-one approach includes the origination of a fully personalised manual which references all the training that has been covered.

All methods used are designed to deliver a positive reward outcome; pain is never used to secure compliancy. I will help you train your dog to appreciate and respect agreed, acceptable boundaries and to respond to high vocal praise, touch or a toy reward.

I am available for lectures for small or established groups in the local catchment area. I can either deliver a compelling presentation on training dogs for specialist roles or talk in general about the psychology of dog behaviour to like-minded dog lovers.


An initial one to one, 90 minute Gun-Dog assessment is £45.00
All other prices are available on application.

Please note:

  • Behavioural issues such as aggression will require home visits and therefore prices will be discussed.
  • A notice period of 24 hours is needed to cancel or rearrange a lesson, if less than 24 hours a fee of £25.00 is charged.


Testimonials regarding Matt's ability as a Dog Trainer can be seen below and there are more are on our Facebook Page. They are all genuine and unsolicited.
Have really enjoyed the opportunity to do some training sessions with Matt at Dorntanza. Matt is a very calm, patient and positive trainer. Helps owners to understand the basics of ground treatment and wind patterns, to enable them to get more out of their dog by understanding how as a handler you can help your dog. Can really recommend Dorntanza for all handlers from complete beginner to the more experienced.
Debbie - via Facebook
After getting some poor advice from a Labrador trainer & mistakes made initially, we had an enjoyable & informative assessment afternoon with Matt Ball from Dorntanza Dog Training on Saturday. Extremely impressed with his knowledge of dogs & HPR training methods in particular. Looking forward to our next training session & hitting the ground running . Thank you Matt.🐾🐾 Highly recommended.
Barbara - via Facebook
I have now had a few training sessions with Matt which I am really enjoying. Matt has a lot of knowledge about HPR's, he instructs and explains things in a very clear way. I am extremely happy with how my handling of my dog has improved and with the help and advice my dog and i have made progress with his hunting and working the wind. I would highly recommend Matt for all your training needs.
Denise and Dill - via Facebook
Its been nearly 4 yrs since you helped me with my black lab , Jake , and since then we are successfully competing in KC agility comp , indoors and outdoors and Jake won into Grade 4 last weekend , Grade 7 been the highest grade. My other lab is now in Grade 5 . Jake walks nicely to heel with my 3yr old grandson. Many thanks for helping me and giving me the know how for future dogs....
Lesley Annan - Scotland
Matthew has a calm approach and gives clear instructions and handouts to study at home. Matthew will give you the confidence and advice for you to continue to train your dog and reach your goal. I highly recommend him and I wouldn't go anywhere else. I'm so happy that I found Dortanza and they certainly get 5 stars from me.
Claudio - Herts
After serious consideration in putting Max to sleep because of his unruly aggression to other dogs whilst out walking, I would like to say what a huge relief it was when our Vet recommended you. Max is now a new dog, after inputting his obedience and taking back the “Pack Leadership” we enjoy walking him on and off the leash.
Carol Dumphries - Scotland
Just a quick e-mail to say how grateful we all are for the assistance and training given to us and Amber. The mind stimulation techniques have relieved her boredom and her repetitive destruction. We are now taking her out and Tracking with her for around 2km, introducing dropped articles and getting her over natural obstacles. At nights now she is quiet and contented.
Julie & Mike - Carlisle


Dorntanza holds regular events which you are welcome to attend. These include Game Experience and retrieving Workshops and are kept updated on both this page and our Facebook Page.

Places are limited and cost is normally in the region of £40 for a 3 hour session. if you wish to attend, please contact us using the CONTACT FORM on this site or the Events Section of our Facebook Page.

Payment is required in advance and whilst cancellations are refundable, we reserve the right to charge a cancellation fee of £25 in the event of a late cancellation for which we are unable to find a replacement.

A list of scheduled events is below:
Evening Summer "Back to Basic" Workshops
Our “Back to Basic’s” workshops are aimed at dog and handler partnerships which need help or a refresh with any obedience issues like recall, heel work ,sit, stay .
This workshop would suit any dog and handler partnership
Session is 2 hours – 6pm-8pm @ Vanstone Park in Codicote Nr Hitchin Herts
Cost per session is £25.00 book all 4 sessions and receive a discount £20.00 per session
26th June, 17th July, 7th August , 28th August

Sunday, 30th June, 9:30am- FULL

Retrieving Workshop with Water
Cost: £40
Place: Chelmsford, Essex

Sunday, 30th June, 1:30pm-FULL
Retrieving Workshop with Water
Cost: £40
Place: Chelmsford, Essex

Evening Summer "Puppy Basics" Workshops
Fun ,informal workshop aimed at socialising puppies and young dogs .We will work on basic obedience; recall, heel work , sit , stay and other ways to stimulate your young dogs .
This workshop is suitable for any breed of dog
Puppies from 14 weeks up to 18 months
Session is 2 hours – 6pm-8pm @ Vanstone Park in Codicote Nr Hitchin Herts
Cost per session is £25.00 book all 4 sessions and receive a discount £20.00 per session
3rd July,24th July, 14th August, 4th September

Sat, 6th July 2019, 9:30am- FULL
Retrieving Workshop with Water
Cost: £40
Place: Acle, Norfolk

Sat, 6th July 2019, 1:30pm-SPACES AVAILABLE
Retrieving Workshop with Water
Cost: £40
Place: Acle, Norfolk

Summer Steadiness Workshop; FULL
Our steadiness workshops are aimed at dog and handler partnerships which need help with steadiness, stop to whistle, prey drive and control.
This workshop is for novice level dogs to help prevent prey drive becoming a problem ,basic level of recall is needed.
Session is 3 hours – 9.30-12.30
Cost per session is £35.00
9th July Vanstone Park Codicote Nr Hitchin- FULL
4th August St Albans Herts- FULL
11th August St Albans Herts - FULL

Summer Evening "Steadiness" Workshops
Our steadiness workshops are aimed at dog and handler partnerships which need help with steadiness, stop to whistle, prey drive and control.
This workshop would suit any novice dog and handler partnership which have basic recall .
Session is 2 hours - 6pm-8pm @ Vanstone Park in Codicote Nr Hitchin Herts
Cost per session is £25.00 book all 4 sessions and receive a discount £20.00 per session
10th July, 31st July, 21st August, 11th September

Sunday, 14th July 2019, 9:30am-FULL
Retrieving Workshop with Water
Cost: £40
Place: Chelmsford, Essex

Sunday, 14th July 2019, 1:30pm-SPACES AVAILABLE
Retrieving Workshop with Water
Cost: £40
Place: Chelmsford, Essex

Summer "Retrieving Refresher" Workshop
This workshop is aimed at any gundog breed; retrievers, spaniels and HPR’S which need some help with retrieving or a refresh on certain aspects of retrieving before the start of the season.
On our retrieving workshops we will be working on memory, blinds, straight line, directional and delivery to hand .Cold game to shot will also be an option.
This workshop is suitable for any breed of dog but a dog with a desire to retrieve would benefit from this session.
Session is 3 hours- 9.30-12.30
Cost per session is £35.00 – maximum 4 handlers
18th August St Albans Herts

Please note: our Facebook page tends to be a little more up to date and automatically shows how many people have confirmed attendance. You can visit it HERE

Get In Touch

Please use the contact form below to send an email


Call Matt on 07951 355108

Get in touch via our Facebook page

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Matt Ball
Dorntanza Dog Training