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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 South Lincolnshire 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 £75.00. Follow up sessions are charged at £50.00 per hour for individual bespoke training sessions. A full training program will be written to help you continue in between lessons.

Courses will be charged at the rate shown when advertised on social media.

If behavioural training is required 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.

Intensive Residential Training

Our Intensive Training is totally bespoke and can be adapted to your requirements, it is aimed at any level of handler and breed of dog, from the complete novice looking for basic training to field trailers needing to go back to basics. Our aim is to provide a relaxing environment where you can immerse yourself in your training, spending time just thinking about you and your dog.

The training is 1-2-1 only, this way we can guarantee that you receive individual attention from Matthew to cover any areas of training which you are having problems with or areas which need developing.

By the end of the few days, you will have learned lots of new methods, seen improvement in your handling skills, which in turn will help you to train your dog effectively. You will go away with a set of skills to enable you to carry on with your training at home.

The training will include some theory and practical lessons using the facilities at Dorntanza. Our facilities include:

  • Enclosed training fields
  • Obedience pen
  • Retrieving lane
  • Natural agility jumps
  • Multi automated dummy launchers
  • Steadiness area
  • Simulated game
  • Cold game for retrieving if required.
We aim to start training at 9.30am and finish at 3.00pm each day. We stop for lunch for one hour, normally about mid-day.

We are more than happy for you to bring more than one dog, but you must ensure that both dogs do not mind being left whilst the other is working.


From March 2022 we will be offering self-catering only accommodation in our “Snug” which is located on our secured gated premises with access to lots of parking. The Snug has a fitted kitchen with appliances, jet shower, toilet, King Size bed, TV and seating. We provide bed linen, towels and basic toiletries. In the summer you can sit out on the Snugs private patio, perfect for watching the amazing sun sets we have at Dorntanza.

Partners are very welcome to stay with you and we can offer the option of a Mini Break - Training weekend. Training will take place in the morning, and the afternoon can be spent visiting the local area. We are close to Grantham, Newark and Lincoln which have very good restaurants and places to see. We are also surrounded by some lovely villages which have great pubs for evening entertainment and eating out. We are more than happy to look after your dogs whilst you are out.

The Snug is “well behaved” dog friendly. We do ask that you do not let your your dogs on the furniture; we can provide crates for your dogs to sleep in.

Please use your common sense, and do not let them in the accommodation if wet and muddy. We have taps and dog towels if needed, or you can put them in your vehicles or the kennel temporarily until clean and dry if easier.

What You Need to Bring

Please bring with you everything that you would normally bring to a self-catering holiday property, including dog food, treats, dummies and dog towels.

The weather can be changeable please bring suitable attire for the weather season, waterproof jackets, boots. The barn and kennel area can be used to hang wet coats and store boots etc to save bringing them inside.

For any more information or our current prices and availability please email Sophie at


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.

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:



Dorntanza Retrieving Workshops aimed at all breeds of working gun dog.
Over the next few months, we will be holding retrieving workshops with water & obstacles . Matthew will concentrate on blinds, memory, split and directional retrieving with cold game and dummies, we will be concentrating on control and delivery techniques.
We have a wide diversity of ground on different shooting estates in Hertfordshire and Norfolk . Please contact us for more information;

Sessions are split 9.30 - 12.30 am ; 1.30- 4.30pm
Cost per session is £40.00
Places will be booked once payment has been received, refunds will only be given if a reserve is available

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