Friday, 3 December 2010

It breaks my heart but we just can't give him the time he deserves...

An all too common phrase used when people decide to give up a family dog for re homing. I understand it can be difficult to juggle family/work/dogs and other commitments, and maybe the perfect family does exist for your dog somwwhere.

But, there are literally thousands of dogs looking for homes right now, and many of those will be put to sleep before the year is out.

So think again, could you afford a dogwalker or pop home at lunchtime? Is your dog really distressed or are you trying to give them a perfect life?

I work full-time, only some of that is from home and I now belong to three border collies. They go on fewer walks than you might think though we do run together several times a week. More often we spend quality time doing silly training and playing finding games in the garden. Kongs are a great way of passing the time and regular massage means they're all pretty good at relaxing.

I'm not a perfect home by any stretch of the imagination, but I promise you that those homes are few and far between. Rescues are stretched further than ever right now, and a less than perfect home is probably still better than a lonely kennel.

Taking on a dog is adopting a family member - so please think long and hard before you give up on them.

Friday, 29 October 2010

November Seminars, Competitions and New Classes!


Wednesday 10th November: Fun Rally-Obedience competition starts 7.00pm
Spectators and competitors are very welcome!
Dogs should be happy to remain in cars or lie quietly on the stage area when not working.

Location is Acomb Parish Church Hall, Front Street.
£10 per competitor

Thursday 11th November: Understanding Clicker Training starts 7.00pm
A seminar looking at how best to use this training method, shaping for advanced behaviours and anything that may be puzzling you! Does your dog always sit crooked? Do they drop the item on a retrieve? Do you still have to use a lure to ensure a reliable response? This workshop will address these niggles and any questions you may have about using clicker training.

Location is Our Lady's Church Hall, Cornlands Road.
£10 per dog and handler


New Classes Enrolling

Starting on Wednesday 24th of November

Beyond the Basics - Getting Started: working on reliable recalls, confidence over obstacles, comfortable loose lead walking and more advanced training including scent detection, tracking, retrieval and more

Beyond the Basics - Rally-Obedience: if your dog knows basic cues such as sit, down, wait and come you can do Rally-O. A fun way of training your dog that includes simple competition moves and is an excellent foundation for agility.

Confidence Course: working with nervous and reactive dogs to build confidence, reduce stress and practice appropriate responses. We use clicker training, massage, TTouch and a variety of practical exercises in these sessions. Pre-course assessment required.

Starting on Thursday 18th of November

Perfect Puppies: for pups under 6 months to learn basic cues (sit, down, come when called, give back the slippers!), socialise with people and dogs and support owners who have a new family member.

Beyond the Basics - Heelwork to Music: doggy dancing and fancy tricks! Learn moves such as walk back, bow, twist, weave and jumping through your arms. We then look at how to put it all together in a routine - no dancing ability required!

Confidence Course - Individual Focus: In these classes we work with dogs who struggle to be in the same room as other dogs whether through fear or over excitement. There will be a guaranteed 15 minutes of training specifically for each dog using the stuffies or my own dogs initially, and bringing the dogs together as is most useful. Each of the other owners will also be available to act as stooges for the dog being trained. This allows owners to have more frequent sessions but costs less than private lessons.

Monday, 26 July 2010

September 2010 Classes are available to book!

Wednesday Classes (starting 22nd September)

6.45pm Perfect Puppies and Beginners

7.30pm Confidence Course I

8.30pm Confidence Course II

Thursday Classes (starting 23rd September)

6pm Beyond the Basics (Rally-Obedience)

7pm Beyond the Basics (Heelwork to Music)

October Seminars

Wednesday Advanced Clicker Training

Thursday Fears and Phobias

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Training assistants and assessments...

The Well Connected Canine classes are going really well, we're having great fun and seeing some really great changes in the dogs (and humans!). A few people have asked about assessments and things like the Kennel Club good citizen tests. Although we cover all of the material anyway I know its nice to have something to show at the end of a course, especially when things were difficult to start with.

Personally I'm not a massive fan of the Kennel Club and there are aspects of the Good Citizens tests that I feel uncomfortable with, however I am incredibly excited to see that the APDT who operates a kind, fair and effective training techniques only policy are developing their own assessments.

You can be sure that we will be one of the first to offer these assessments just as soon as they are agreed and ready to go!

In other exciting news, we will be looking for training assistants to start working with our classes in September or October this year. As numbers increase its important to make sure everyone can access the personal support that makes our classes so successful, its also a great way to spread the knowledge of kind, fair and effective training techniques.
So, if you or anyone you know has some experience in training dogs and would like to talk to me about assisting in any of our classes - just let me know!

Enjoy the sunshine!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Brief review: Get Connected by Brenda Aloff

Get Connected (2007) Brenda Aloff

This large format book with accompanying DVD had sparked my interest when discussed on the DogRead Yahoo discussion group. From the title and sample pages it seemed like a really interesting proposition – a training text which explicitly included focus on the relationship between handler and dog. Some of the exercises are interesting, and as always Brenda’s descriptions of training terminology are excellent.

However I was uncomfortable with what I felt to be a needlessly confrontational approach to handling, particularly with dogs that were giddy, over excited or lacking in boundaries. Viewing the DVD confirmed this – while clearly her methods produce results, they are not techniques that I particularly choose to use. For example she uses confinement and firm stroking/rubbing with an apparently anxious dog until he ‘submits’ and calms down.

Viewing the video left me feeling she had deliberately ignored many of the dog’s calming signals, and the whole process could have been managed in a much les confrontational manner. This was a useful learning experience and has helped me to clarify my own feelings, preferences and beliefs within dog training.

Short review: Bringing Light to Shadow by Pam Dennison

Pamela Dennison “Bringing Light to Shadow: Diary of a dog trainer”

This relatively slim book is well written, comprehensive and quite honestly helped to change my entire relationship with Finn – my troubled rescue collie – at a time when I felt we were totally out of options. Part confessional, part narrative and part educational resource, this book talks the reader through the journey to rehabilitate a people-reactive border collie named Shadow. By documenting daily training, progress, mistakes and observations Pam gives fantastic examples of how to read Shadow’s body language, the thought involved in setting up productive training sessions, and helps the reader to appreciate the work involved in rehabilitation.
As a cross-over trainer herself, Pam explains her choices of positive training methods and includes terminology boxes. This was inspiring both to read as an example of what is possible, and also because it encouraged me to start journaling and reflecting on my work with my own dog. Between this and some contact via email with Pam, I was able to move from a confrontational relationship with Finn towards one of cooperation and understanding.

Monday, 10 May 2010

May 2010 Seminars: Nutritional Choices (Wednesday): Confidence for Handlers of Reactive Dogs (Thursday)

Wednesday 26th May 7.00pm – 8.30pm

Acomb Parish Church Hall, Front Street, York.

“Canine Nutrition and Feeding Choices” £5 including refreshments

This informal evening will include an introduction to some of the varied ways to feed your canine companion from home cooked food to high grade processed food to raw feeding. We have invited experienced owners with particular knowledge in these areas to share the details with you, and answer any questions you may have.

Feel free to bring along your dog if they can relax around other dogs and people. There will be tea/coffee and biscuits available, and plenty of time to ask questions about feeding your dogs.

Thursday 27th May 7.00pm to 8.30pm

Our Lady’s Church Hall, Cornlands Road, York.

“The human at the end of the leash – staying calm for your reactive dog” £5

Living with a fearful, anxious or reactive dog can try anyone’s patience! We spend time at home, on walks and in classes teaching our dogs how to relax, remain calm in difficult situations and respond with thought rather than instinct. This seminar is all about YOU J

Practical advice on how to teach yourself to relax, remain calm in difficult situations and quickly change your perceptions of handling your dog. These are vital skills for anyone who has a nervous or reactive dog in their household. Experienced Human Givens practitioners will talk us through the effects of stress on the human brain, and help us to practice the key skills of relaxing and remaining calm. There will be tea/coffee and biscuits available, and plenty of time to ask individual questions.

To book onto these seminars please email/text or phone Morag ASAP

07786 864 700,

Forthcoming Seminars: Rally-Obedience & Focus on Clicker Training & More Massage Therapy

All profit from seminar evenings is donated to Wiccaweys Rescued Border Collies and Working Sheepdogs

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Balance in training and learning

Just a place holder to remind me to come back and post properly on this topic.

I have an enduring interest in learning theory and methods from the perspective of a lecturer/supervisor at postgraduate level, as a dog trainer who works both with dogs and their humans, and also as a work colleague who seeks to improve communication in my academic environment.

There seems to be a well established 'belief' that in order to learn, one must make mistakes and see the consequences. The positive reinforcement movement within dog training and more specifically clicker training as promoted by Kay Lawrence suggests that results can be produced as easily, or quicker via error-less learning - setting the dog/human up to succeed.

As an over enthusiastic teacher I know I have to restrain myself from jumping in too quickly to help (human and canine students)! Striking the balance between allowing people/dogs to learn from their actions, and setting things up to promote success is tricky. In a more human context - how long do you stand back and observe the mistakes before stepping in, particularly where the individual appears to lack awareness?

Answers on a postcard (or comment!).

Friday, 19 February 2010

March 2010 Classes and Seminars

Currently we're running two sets of Confidence Courses, a Perfect Puppy class and a very active Beyond the Basics course which is focusing on heelwork to music. In an effort to be more organised I'm posting up the details of the next seminars and classes!

Seminars: 17th and 18th of March 2010
7pm Loose lead walking - problem solving and refresher session
8pm Massage and TTouch for your dog - introduction and practical session

Classes start week beginning 22nd March

Wednesday: Mind Your Manners Confidence Course I Confidence Course II

Thursday: Perfect Puppies Beyond the Basics

If you haven't already confirmed your place for seminars OR classes please do let me know asap. Suggestions for future seminars are always welcome!

Best wishes