I NOTE with interest the article by Mark Smith (“End the cruelty inflicted on dogs in the name of shooting”, The Herald, October 24).

While no doubt there are dog trainers who train in a very harsh manner – and I say dog trainers not gun dog trainers – as in all professions and disciplines there are those who are very good, and those who are not so good. The tone of the article is very much that these are in the majority of the profession rather than the minority.

In the 20 years or so that I’ve been working with dogs I have seen a massive change in the approach to training, and especially in the approach to training gundogs; there is more compassion and balance in training than ever before as trainers are working to understand and enhance the dog’s natural drive and enthusiasm to retrieve.

I started running gun dog training classes due to the number of gun dogs that I saw in a home environment that had developed behavioural issues due to lack of stimulation, exercise and training; dogs that were bored and dogs that were becoming destructive and aggressive.

Introducing them to the type of activities that they were bred to do, allowed them to channel their energy, leading to a more fulfilled life for the dogs as their needs were met, and a happier, less stressful home life for the family. Regardless of whether a gun dog is from working lines or not, whether it’s a pedigree or a gun dog cross, at some point it was bred to do a job and a dog that has a working mentality needs to be using it.

I would hate for this article to put people off training their pet gun dog; there are lots of amazingly kind, empathetic and passionate trainers out there that can make life so much better for you and your dog, trainers that are experienced, are qualified and, through sensible motivational training, can help you transform your relationship with your dog.

Lez Graham, Carluke.

This is not justice

FOLLOWING seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange is currently serving out his 50-week sentence for breaking bail.

He is in virtual solitary confinement in the high-security jail at Belmarsh, denied normal contact with fellow prisoners and many normal prison facilities. He remains under threat of extradition to the US and is in poor health, looking more like 67 than his 47 years.

It is a sad commentary upon British justice that this brutal punishment is meted out to a journalist who dared to challenge the American Deep State and its Westminster poodle. But it is even more disgraceful that the National Union of Journalists with its 35,000 members and former chairman and secretary Jeremy Corbyn have both chosen to quietly sit on their thumbs rather than marshal support to end this inhuman treatment.

It saddens me that so many people in the United Kingdom quietly tolerates such mediaeval behaviour from their governing Establishment. Perhaps it is time for Scotland to leave this rather unsavoury union and think about a written constitution to protect its own citizens from such undemocratic and inhuman excess.

RF Millig, Helensurgh.

Culture shock

NICOLA Sturgeon says that EU citizens will always be welcome in Scotland.

I was talking to a Polish gentleman recently. He loves living in Scotland, but is sometimes made to feel unwelcome by the Scottish Government’s hostility towards his values. In particular he finds that, at school, his children are taught to reject many key teachings of his Christian faith.

If the SNP really wants to be welcoming, it needs to show more respect for diversity. The Government should encourage newcomers to embrace Scottish identity and culture, but should not seek to force them into the SNP’s mould of secular liberal progressivism.

Richard Lucas, Leader of The Scottish Family Party, Glasgow G2.