Thursday, 20 June 2019

Thursday Morning Focus

“Why don’t we use the time for a training session for our own dogs?”

Last week’s disgusting weather forecasts had led to a client’s planned training session being postponed and we were throwing ideas around about what to do with the booked venue (because when you’ve got a session booked at the Paw Park already, it seems a real shame to waste it!).

What started as a throwaway suggestion turned out to be the best idea I (Laura) had all week.

 As trainers’ dogs, our canine families spend a lot of time waiting while we help other people train with their dogs. At home while we teach classes, in vehicles while we run training sessions or settled on mats waiting to be demo dogs for a particular skill or technique.

Their own training time tends to get slotted into the gaps in our days – two minutes while the kettle is on, five minutes during a walk – but location and convenience limit what we can work on and, on particularly busy days, it might get neglected entirely.


Setting aside that dedicated time – just us and our dogs in a field, with no other distractions – gave us the space to work on the things we really wanted to work on.

There were no other dogs to make friends with (Seamus), no deer to chase (Laird), no floor snacks to steal (Brian) and no squirrels to stare at (Freya).

We could work multiple dogs at once, set up the session in the ways that work best for us and, most importantly, we could just have fun spending quality time with our dogs.

Honestly, it went so well we’ve made it a weekly thing.

Whether it’s a structured class, a trainer-led individual session, or time that you put aside to spend with your dog, these longer training sessions are a great opportunity to introduce new skills, or remind yourselves of long since forgotten skills (think of something you learnt at school that you haven’t practised since – I bet you can’t remember how to do it!

Our dogs aren’t really any different so it’s always worth going back to some of those old habits to make sure we’ve still got them).

If we take that time to lay the groundwork, we can reinforce those new skills during those two minute tea-break sessions.

This week, I challenge you to think of something you’d really like your dog to be able to do that they can’t already.

This might be one of those essential life skills (like walking nicely on the lead) or one of those cool tricks (like playing dead).

Then (and this is the harder bit), find yourself a timeslot in the week to start working on it.

Try it for three weeks and let us know how you get on with learning your new skills!

Happy training time!

Laura, Brian and Seamus (#teamsmallbutmighty) 

PS If you think you need something more concrete to help focus your training time, why not book a practical coaching session or take a look at our summer class schedule?

We know holidays can make for disrupted summers, so we’ve reworked things to offer shorter classes which will hopefully fit with your summer breaks! All classes run on a Monday (except the special Reactive Dogs Life Skills sessions)

Just click on the class you're interested in for more information!


Monday classes
18:30 - 19:15
(with Clare)
19:00 - 19:45
(with Morag)
20:00
(with Morag)
20:30
(with Morag)
20:30
(with Laura)
15 July
22 July
Husbandry & Cooperative Care
Advanced Bodywork
Mind Your Manners
Baby Come Back II
Canicross 3 week Intensive: This way, that way
29 July
Husbandry & Cooperative Care
Advanced Bodywork
Mind Your Manners
Baby Come Back II
Canicross 3 week Intensive: This way, that way
5 August
Husbandry & Cooperative Care
12 August
Husbandry & Cooperative Care
Sniffing School Level II: Get Tracking
Baby Come Back
Stay by my Side II
Canicross 3 week Intensive: Get on by
19 August
Sniffing School Level II: Get Tracking
Baby Come Back
Stay by my Side II
Canicross 3 week Intensive: Get on by
26 August
Bank Holiday
Bank Holiday
Bank Holiday
Bank Holiday
Bank Holiday
2 September
APDT Good Companion Award
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9 September
APDT Good Companion Award
16 September
APDT Good Companion Award
Bodywork Introduction
Stay by my Side
Mind Your Manners II
Canicross 3 week Intensive: Descending without death
23 September
APDT Good Companion Award
Bodywork Introduction
Stay by my Side
Mind Your Manners II
Canicross 3 week Intensive: Descending without death

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Puppies - what makes a good breeder?


It’s coming to the time of year when our Puppy Classes start to get super busy, so we know lots of people are starting to think about getting a puppy now.

People are often advised to buy their puppy from a ‘Good Breeder’, but what does that really mean and why should you?

I wanted to share my thoughts on what I think makes a 'good' breeder

Why does picking a good breeder matter…aren’t all puppies a blank slate?

Puppies do not go to their new homes as blank slates, by the time your puppy is ready to come home with you they’re already half way through their critical period of socialisation.

And there’s not just socialisation to consider; genetics, time in the womb and what the puppy has been learning from the breeder, mum and litter mates, will all influence your puppy’s future behaviour.

Here’s an interesting article on genetic potential v environmental influences from Paws Abilities Dog training 


Most people know to avoid puppy farms but do you know how to spot one?





Everyone may have a different idea of what makes a good breeder - Here’s what I think makes a good breeder

A good breeder will want to vet potential puppy owners and ask a lot of questions about lifestyle, why you want a puppy and lots more. It may feel like you’re being tested, but don’t let this put you off, it’s a good thing! Some breeders may ask to pick the puppy for you, usually because they want the right puppy to go to the right home.

Some breeders may ask you to sign a contract and a good breeder will always want to take a puppy back or be involved in the rehoming process if you can no longer care for your puppy/dog

What you can check when you’ve found a breeder

·        Parents temperament

A good breeder of pet dogs will only breed from dogs that have sound temperament. If the breeder won’t let you meet and interact with the parents that should raise concerns, find out why. If it’s because the mum is scared or aggressive towards people that should be a red flag and you should be willing to walk away.

If you meet the parents make sure they have the qualities you want in your future dog; sociable, friendly, relaxed, keen to approach even when the puppies are present.




·         Health tests

Parents should be screened for any hereditary health conditions, to reduce the likelihood of passing on preventable conditions to the next generation.

The Kennel Club has a list of the main conditions which should be screened for within most breeds 

This should include cross breeds e.g. Cockerpoo parents should be screened for Poodle and Cocker Spaniel health conditions.

·         Early life & where are the puppies kept

This really matters, your puppy’s period of socialisation starts at 3 weeks and finishes somewhere between 12-16  weeks,  that means that most puppies spend the first half of their socialisation period with the breeder.

Your puppy should be safely introduced to novel and new experiences including; people, other dogs, animals, sounds, surfaces, sights, objects while they are still with the breeder.

You can check if your breeder follows a protocol like PuppyCulture or The Puppy Plan 


Why we support good breeders

All of the Well Connected Team have at least one rescue dog, in fact we currently have 11 rescue dogs between us!, so you can tell we support the rehoming of dogs from rescue organisations.

But, we also support good breeders, breeders who put the welfare of the dogs first, place their dogs in appropriate homes and provide new owners with the support they may need to navigate the often tricky world of dog ownership.


If  you're thinking about adding a new puppy to your family and want some extra help with finding a good breeder or how you can prepare for your new puppy we can help! 

Borrow my Brain: For soon to be owners  - 30 minute dedicated support call 

Borrow my Brain: for soon to be owners


Happy Training 

Clare and the gang


P.s. Facebook Live on Puppies coming soon (more details to follow) – send us your questions now so we can answer them during the live session