Monday, 17 July 2017

What does real dog training look like? Going from excited barking to calm settling.

On Sunday’s TD Scentwork workshop, we had some pretty amazing teams working together. Every single dog and handler completed postal sack searches, large complex area searches, and vehicle searches.

More to the point all of the dogs settled calmly in the hall while the others were working. Some even dozed off!
That might not sound like such a big deal to you, but I can promise you it meant a lot to my handlers, and me.

So how did those dogs go from barking, screaming, howling, singing, pulling towards or lunging at other dogs to being settled calmly AND working off lead in the same room as other dogs?
Despite what popular television shows might tell you, it certainly didn’t happen overnight!
These were frustrated, excited dogs.
They desperately wanted to greet or interact with other dogs (and people), and expressing that frustration used to be their only option.
What we did was change how the dogs felt when they saw other dogs and people, and teach them some more appropriate responses (e.g. sit nicely rather than sing loudly!).
My owners have been practicing this stuff for months.
And it works.
Little practice sessions in easy places first, with a good rate of pay for the dog.
Then picking slightly harder places.
Having a clear training plan to follow, and checking progress at every stage.
I didn’t go in and see them one day, magically fix the problem, and then go back in a week to see “amazing results!”. I helped them understand why their dog was behaving in that way, and we worked together to change it. For good.

So by all means watch those television shows if you must.
But remember there has been hours and days of training behind the scenes.
Slow and steady progress makes for great results, but boring TV!

If you’re struggling to change your dog’s behaviour whether that’s getting them to come back reliably, walk nicely past other dogs, or settling while you eat your dinner, just drop us an email to and see if we can help you.

Have a wonderful week, and keep training like a tortoise!
Morag and the collie girls

PS Sian tells me that even on the great dog programmes like “Me and My Dog” there’s still loads of training that goes on behind the scenes. So if you’ve tried and failed to teach your dog those tasks, why not ask Sian for some expert help (

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