Monday, 29 July 2019

Deer proofing your recall + loose lead walking skills!

Laird is recovering well from his “jousting “ injury - the only reasonable explanation for the huge hole in his shoulder!

But while we can do a bit more exercise, it all needs to be calm and controlled.

Calm is not a word often used for 2yr old German Wire Haired Pointers . . . . .

So walking nicely even around distractions has shot up the priority list – being dragged by your dog is never fun, especially when its 36 kg of muscle doing the pulling.

Off lead Zoomies are also on the forbidden list which means more long lines. Extra tricky with frustrated-enthusiastic powerful dog. I’ve been experimenting with lines that pass through the front harness ring but connect to the top ring for safety.

As a wee treat after waiting patiently during a workshop, l wanted to take them somewhere interesting for a walk, but with minimal chance of deer - they are far too exciting for Laird.


Lets just say that 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon is prime time for deer on the water meadows by Fulford….

We saw a total of 5 deer at varying distances!

I was so glad Laird was on a line and we were able to walk away in some semblance of control.

There’s no magic secret or technique , just careful foundations built up over time.

How would YOUR dog have coped?

If the idea fills you with dread, consider signing up for a 3 week intensive course with me! We have two starting Monday 5th August, and more in September
  • Stay By My Side II (walking nicely on lead around distractions) 5th Aug
  • Baby Come Back I (coming back when called) 5th Aug
Find your intensive course here
  • Stay By My Side I (learning how to walk by your side consistently) 9th Sept
  • Mind Your Manners II (resisting temptation everywhere) 9th Sept

What’s on in WCC Land?

Open Day Sat 7th Sept

We’re celebrating TEN years of building better relationships with dogs . Come to our Open Day on Sat 7th Sept, Yorkshire Museum of Farming. Stalls to browse and FREE activities to try with your dog!

Classes in August

There’s NO workshops in August but we do have short courses on core skills  like recall or not pulling on lead, plus Get Tracking (starts Aug 5th) and Introduction to Bodywork (9th Sept)

CaniCross Survival Skills on Sunday September 15th

Morning - learn how to warm up and cool down effectively
Afternoon - start loving those hills with and without your dog to help

*Book both workshops and SAVE £10*

Location: Yorkshire Cycle Hub, Fryup Gill Farm, Great Fryup, YO21 2AP

Gundog + Herding Dog Workshops 

They start back from September  21st and we've dates booked in till 2020 so grab those spaces fast!
See the calendar here.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Dog Days of Summer (July 2019)

It's too hot for walks, chasing games or even just lying in the sun.

Even if your dog is sleeping the warm days away there comes a point when they start getting restless.

There’s a hint of boredom in those melting brown eyes that promises wickedness unless you can provide some entertainment.

 Right now two of the WCC dogs are injured, and on very limited exercise. So their tolerance for boredom is pretty low!

Poor Scout has an infected nail and clumsy Laird is recovering from three layers of stitches in his shoulder after spearing himself on a branch….

So here are our warm day/low exercise boredom busting tips! 


1. Dump the food bowl and get creative about freezing your dogs meals into food toys* 

  • If you usually feed dry kibble add a spoonful of wet food to help it stick together. 
  • My dogs adore a tin of mashed up sardines in olive oil. 
  • Seal the top or edges with peanut butter (no added sugar or sweeteners or squeezy cheese/low fat Philadelphia for dogs like Freya who turn their nose up at PB 
  • You will want lots of toys to help spread out the chilled meal time 
*Lots of people create complicated frozen treats and Kongs for their dogs, but when you have a multi dog household sometimes its better to keep things simple!

2. Quiet on lead Scentwork using simple directed searches along your garden wall (shaded areas only!) for 2-3 mins at a time

3. Frozen chicken feet – the canine ice pop of choice in my house!

4. Work on simple trick training that doesn’t involve much movement. Right now that’s building a sustained nose target and the beginning of “play dead” for my dogs.

And of course if you're Bronte, digging a cooling hole in the ground is just the best idea ever......

Last chance for a weekend workshop until September - August is just too hot!!

  • "That's Not A Sheep!" (for herding dogs) is full
BUT there's a couple of places left on

 Morag and the beasties

 What else is coming up in WCC Land?

Get Tracking - a three week course introducing you and your dog to finding a trail and following it! Open to sociable dogs who have completed a Getting Started Session or other classes with WCC. Starts Monday 5th August, 7pm at Yorkshire Museum of Farming

Complex searches to challenge the keenest nose introducing baggage, postal sacks and more!
Open to sociable dogs who have completed our Progressions workshop or Level 1 classes, or equivalent - not sure if you are ready, drop an email to Morag!
Sunday 22nd September (morning workshop)

Ever wanted your dog to find (and retrieve!) lost items? Maybe your keys, or even your wallet?
Open to sociable dogs who have played basic scentwork games before, retrieving skills not essential!.
Sunday 20th October (morning workshop)

Canicross Survival Skills

WHAT: Two half day workshops to boost your skills and enjoyment
  • 09:30 Warming up and cooling down for canicross (includes 2k run)
  • 13:30 Tackling REAL hills (includes 3-5k run)
WHEN: Sunday 15th September

WHERE: Yorkshire Cycle Hub, Fryup Dale, North York Moors  YO21 2AP
  • Each workshop is limited to a max 8 participants (up to 2 dogs per runner), includes refreshments and kit check.
  • Open to any canicross runner, ideal if you have completed an intro session previously
  • £50 per workshop OR book both for £90
Choose your workshops here! 

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Help! My dog hates our new puppy!!

Introducing your existing dog to a new puppy can often go really well, they instantly hit it off and enjoy playing together, sharing beds and just generally rubbing along happily.

But sometimes it’s less straight forward, and the existing dog can have a hard time adapting to life with their new furry companion.

Scout doesn't want Summer to come any closer!

If your existing dog is finding living with your new addition challenging, there are things you can do to help them learn to live in harmony

Creating separate areas for each dog can be hugely helpful. Make use of barriers, crates or separate rooms to create a safe space for each dog. This is especially important during times dogs can’t be supervised.

Trailing lines and leads can be helpful in some cases, especially if one dog is more bouncy, confident or pushy than the other and it’s not easy to call them away or distract them.

Spencer isn't keen on being washed by a young Summer
Brush up on your observations skills and become an expert in observing your dogs, learn what appropriate interactions and play look like and when to step in and intervene.

It can take time for your existing dog to feel comfortable and relaxed around your new addition, don’t feel you have to rush the process and they need to be best friends from day one

Adding a second dog isn’t right for everyone, really consider if your existing dog is going to cope with a new addition

Poppy relents and lets a young Summer cuddle up to her

Watch our recent Facebook live on puppies where Morag and I discussed all things puppy, including puppies and older dogs.

Need extra help? Hit reply to this email and we can discuss ways we can support you

Happy Training

Clare and the Gang

Saturday, 20 July 2019

All good dogs deserve fun (and yes, YOUR dog IS a good dog!)

Like lots of you, Clare and I got into dog training because we ended up with problem dogs of our own.

In my case, I adopted a 5yr old Border Collie with plans to explore the Scottish Highlands in between learning flyball and agility.

I also really wanted to do some Search + Rescue work having grown up acting as a “dogs body” for Killin Mountain Rescue Team.

Once there was even the dream of my faithful collie coming onto campus to give my undergraduate psychology students real life experience of animal learning . . .

There’s a saying that plans only last until you get punched in the face .

In this case it was a sharp encounter with reality that diverted most of those big ideas.

My faithful collie was, it turned out, something of a complex soul.

The list of behaviour problems just kept getting longer
  • Fearful and aggressive to strangers (esp men) 
  • Noise phobic 
  • Travel phobic 
  • Terrified of children (and would bite if feeling threatened) 
  • Keen to chase other animals 
  • Aggressive with many other dogs 
And that was just the start!

But despite his (many) challenges, Finn was still a “good” dog.

In fact, I adored him.  And while we worked on his problems, I still wanted to have fun with him! 

It took me several years to find an understanding trainer who would let us hang around on the edge of classes.

And I spent many evenings driving to Leeds and beyond.

But it was worth it.

“Fun” classes helped build our relationship.

We remembered how to enjoy things together.

Practicing everyday skills made it easier to cope in real life. Loose lead walking really does make handling a reactive dog easier!

And laughter became part of our training sessions again.

We don’t want you to have to struggle on alone or feel like it’s all hard work and no play.

But we know our special dogs need a calm, safe environment.

That’s why you’ll find “reactive dog” versions of our most popular classes.

Some sessions are focused on giving you more techniques, but plenty are “just” about having fun while learning with your dog.

Here’s just a few examples: 
  • Scentwork Solutions for Reactive Dogs 
  • Essential Life Skills for Reactive Dogs 
  • Canicross for Reactive Dogs 
  • Parkour for Reactive Dogs 
  • Bodywork + Relaxation 
  • (and we've just had a special request for Gundog Games for Reactive Dogs so watch this space!)

What makes these classes special?

  1. Designed for dogs that need space from other dogs or humans 
  2. Working outside, usually near your vehicle with optional barriers 
  3. Taught by experienced trainers who will respect your dogs’ boundaries 
  4. VERY small class sizes 
  5. All attending dogs have been assessed and screened 
  6. The chance to train in a supportive group atmosphere with other people who really understand what it’s like 

Reactive Dog specific sessions that are now open for bookings!

Sat 19th October Parkour Progressions for Reactive Dogs (afternoon)  Progress your Parkour

Sat 14th December Parkour Fundamentals for Reactive Dogs (afternoon) Start learning Parkour

Tues 13th August  6.30pm Essential Skills for Reactive Dogs: Progressions (4 week class)Book Essential Skills Class

General workshops that are now open for bookings!

If your dog struggles to cope around other dogs or people, please talk to us before booking on these sessions specifically. We want both you and your dog to have a relaxing learning experience, and sometimes that means you will get more out of the Reactive Dog specific sessions.

Saturday 21st September 1/2 day workshops @ PawPark
If you don't see the class you were hoping for, stay tuned as we're confirming venues for the rest of our Autumn and Winter programme.

The weather is looking disgustingly hot for this week so please stay cool and fingers crossed that we don't have to cancel the weekend sessions....

Morag, the Collie Girls and the Injured Big Yin*

*Laird managed to stab himself in the shoulder last week so I'm desperately trying to keep him still while the stitches knit everything back together. Considering renaming him as Mr A&E!

Friday, 12 July 2019

Why would you need to teach a dog to sniff?

Why do you need to teach a dog to sniff?

Isn’t it just something they do already?

It’s a reasonable question but as a scent-work trainer and handler, I confess that it did make me bristle a little when the announcer at a local charity event asked!

A great scentwork team is poetry in motion.

The dog is focused and thorough, able to sift through unimaginable layers of scent and indicate on the correct spot.

The handler observes and supports the dog, provides a template of patterns to help the dog search efficiently, and steps in to help when asked.

Is there such a thing as a natural sniffer dog?

Well.......sort of!

Some dogs pick up the job faster , and some seem to learn how to process the scent information more quickly.

But there’s still the essential skill of learning to work in a team with the handler…. And no matter how skilled the person and dog are individually the team work still needs to be developed.

That probably sounds like quite hard work, and I won’t lie, sometimes it is!

But l can promise you, scentwork is one of the most fun activities to share with your dog.

It gives us a rare chance to share their world.

Here are just a few benefits that scentwork can offer you and your dog*

Builds cooperation and check-in habits 

By using a teamwork based approach where you are an essential part of the search team, it’s very common to see dogs making more of an effort to stay connected with their handler. Much nicer than watching your dog vanish into the distance following rabbit scent!

Teaches you the handler to be more aware of your body position and signals 

As a WCC dog owner, you're probably pretty good about using your hands consistently but you may not have really appreciated the finer details (your dog will sniff where you gesture, so waving the search hand through the air is less useful than motioning towards a set of boxes).

Learn to really read that subtle body communication 

You’re watching and studying your dog to help identify their indications. This helps you to see all of the other kinds of sniffing or interest that don’t relate to the target scent. So, you are more likely to recognise the warning signs of interest in bunny rabbit sniffs on a walk and be able to collect your dog or stand on the long line!

Quick and effective way to refocus a barking or staring dog 

Sometimes we need something that will be more engaging and keep the dog busy for longer than just eating one treat. Dropping a couple of treats behind you, then reaching in front of your dog with the sweeping “search” sign will often bring the distracted beastie round and get them working away from the trigger.

Increases confidence and optimism

Yes, really! There's been some research showing that doing scent based training games rather than obedience type training actually pushes our dogs towards making more optimistic judgements...Scentwork really is that powerful!

*some of this is based on research findings, and some drawn from Morag and Clare’s ten years of experience in both teaching and handling dogs for scent-work. We've lots more information coming out soon on how to use scentwork to help work on specific challenges

Here’s how to get started, or push your teamwork on to the next level!

Morning workshops (20/21 July) - ONLY TWO SPACES LEFT

Weekly classes

Your very own private introductory session

Happy sniffing and don’t forget to send in pictures of your dogs using their noses….

Morag and Team Sniff'n'Snoot 

P.S. **EXCITING NEWS** We have a whole new Level 3 for Sniffing School coming in Autumn 2019

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Of rainy days and modern technology…

One of the greatest tools we have to improve our relationship with our dog is the amazing smart phone – because now you can video things without masses of forward planning.

I suspect you, like me, aren’t keen on being photographed let alone filmed.

Yet the power of working with a good trainer is when they spot all your little habits, and point them out.

Watching back videos of your own dog and your training sessions will give you that outside perspective.

That’s why we so often encourage you to send us videos of the problem situations, and ask you to film your homework between classes!

You can read Andrea’s take on having rediscovered a year’s worth of videos across behaviour consults and training classes at the end of this blog…. (Andrea submitted this blog back in the middle of the June rain storms - remember them?!)

I especially love the way Andrea uses the videos to spot where she gets things right not just as a way to critique their performance - top marks!

We have Co-operative Care/Handling and Advanced Bodywork coming up on Monday 15th July.

You'll be able to get so much more out of these classes if you can video between sessions - it lets us give you much more detailed feedback plus your dog may be more relaxed at home.

Drop us a wee message if you want to check the suitability of either class for your dog - we have space for one more student in each class or you can attend as a spectator.

More information and booking - click here

It has been a little rainy recently, restricting outdoor activities to a point and providing you with plenty of opportunity to tackle all those jobs you always intend to do, but feel too guilty to attempt if the weather is outright gorgeous.

One mammoth tasks is keeping your digital photos and videos organised and delete unwanted footage. It is so easy to create all that footage and before you know it, warning signs are flagging up that your storage is almost full and you wonder how the hell did this happen AND more so, what are all these videos off???

Without realising, I created a bit of a documentary of Nate’s journey since his return home and him starting rehab sessions and classes with WCC. 

Watching the videos made me realise how far our little man has come.

During rehab sessions he has learned to cope better around other dogs and to communicate how he feels in his body language. I, on the other hand, learned to spot the cues and interpret his body language better.

Now, looking at some of our early videos, I see cues and signs in his behaviour and body language which at the time I did not “see”, but now, whilst reviewing the videos, are blatantly obvious to me. I see all the work we have done in classes and workshops and the subsequent homework we completed and, you guessed it, videoed diligently.

I now realise how much of a valuable training tool videos can be, as so many times I think we completed a task badly or it feels unstructured and chaotic, but when reviewing the video I spot so many things we did right and what we need to work on to get it done even better.

The progress we both made amazes me and I realise how differently I now handle situations with him, using all the tools I acquired along the way.

I can see how Nate responds more positively to my requests, is more attentive and how we communicate better with each other.

Of course, every day is still a school day (love that phrase) and we have good days and not so good days, but without all those videos, I don’t think I really realised how we have improved together and are working as a little team.

What a morale booster!

Thank you Morag, Clare and everyone else at WCC.

Running without my dog ? Are you crazy?

Last Sunday Laura and I spent several hours running, stretching and doing a variety of weird and wonderful things in the name of becoming a (slightly) better runner . . . .thanks to Jason + Kim Cavill and Ryedale Canicross.

And I was strongly reminded of the amazing weekend I spent in the Forest of Dean two years ago learning techniques from Anthony le Moigne – one of the top European cani-crossers.

What both sessions had in common was the idea that to improve as a cani-crosser we also have to run dog less *weeps*

At least some of the time!


Because canicross is about more than being dragged along by your dog, it should be a team effort.

That means you need to work hard, run efficiently and be a good partner.

But let's be honest.

Most canicrossers start running because they have dogs.

Some of you might have been keen (or indifferent) runners before your dog arrived, but for many of us the reason we run IS our dogs.

The idea of going for a run AND then still having to walk the dogs doesn’t really appeal – I mean who has that much free time on their hands ?

So what are your options ?

  1. If your dogs can safely go off lead, remove harnesses and free run the dogs when you need to focus on your own skills e.g. my dogs don’t need to do hill repeats but l definitely do…. 
  2. If you can’t unleash your hounds because they might never come back or just because of livestock, why not run with a buddy and take turns to run dogless? 
 Not even the keenest dog wants to be dragging an awkward lump behind them – so we owe it to our amazing dogs to up our running game.

That means running efficiently rather than braking the dog’s forward momentum every time you take a stride. It means increasing your cadence and driving from the gluteal muscles (your bum).

Are you willing to take the dogless training challenge?

Get posting in the FB group or hit reply to this email!

 Morag, Freya and Laird 

#beautyandthebeast # Laird the Enabler #ultra_collie

P. S. Don’t forget to SAVE THE DATES for our September adventure at Fryup Dale in the North York Moors [14th/15th September 2019]

P.P.S  Not sure when too hot really is too hot to run your dog? Check out this interview with Dr Anne Carter and Emily Hall MRCVS who are leading research into how dogs cope with the heat.

Up Your Running Game (three week skills intensives)

Canicross Intensives: This way, that way (15 July 2019)

Sick of shouting directions that fall on deaf furry ears? Want to stop running into trees because your dog lost track of the path?

"This way, that way" introduces directions including turns, moving over and building to a verbal command.
  • Maximum two dogs per session.
  • Handlers need to have completed a canicross intro session (workshop or 121)
  • Minimum dog age: 12 month
Book This Way Not That Way

Canicross Intensives: Get on by (5 Aug 2019)

Fed up with your dog getting distracted by every shiny, squeaky, smelly or scrumptious? Want to move through crowds or past dogs without getting tied in a knot?
"Get on by" builds up consistent forward focus, whatever the distraction.
  • Maximum two dogs per session
  • Handlers need to have completed a canicross intro session (workshop or 121)
  • Minimum dog age: 12 months
Book Get On By

Canicross Intensives: Descending without death! (9 Sept 2019)

Constantly scared of being pulled face first down that hill?
"Descending without death" works on core descending strategies from the safety of flat ground, looking at speedy and controlled options to find the best approach for you.
  • Maximum two dogs per session
  • Handlers need to have completed a canicross intro session (workshop or 121)
  • Minimum dog age: 12 months
Book Descending Without Death

Morag, Freya and Laird

#beauty_and_the_beast # Laird_the_Enabler #ultra_collie

Monday, 1 July 2019

Bee stings and the magic of squeezy cheese

Poppy was stung by a bee at the weekend and has a poorly eye.

She needs eye drops twice daily.

Because we've done lots of handling and examination practice she allows Clare to apply the drops without any fuss in exchange for some squeezy cheese.

  • Would your dog be calm and tolerate eye drops? 
  • Do you dread vet visits because your dog won’t let you or the vet examine them? 
  • Does your dog run away when they see their brush or the nail clippers? 

Lots of dogs don’t really enjoy being groomed, and worry about vet visits.

In fact most vets are surprised when a dog greets them with a wagging tail, or offers a paw to be bandaged.

You know you need to groom your longer coated or doodle cross dog…but how often do you manage to do it?

No matter how young, fit and healthy your dog is right now, they are going to get old eventually.

Managing the ailments of the older dog is SO much easier if you can handle them.

(Bonus wee video all about why you NEED your dog to love being handled, and it IS possible to change their mind if they don't)

And when your dog is relaxed about going to the vet it opens up treatment options like veterinary physiotherapy or acupuncture alongside (or instead of) drugs.

Clare is running our first specialist class dedicated to helping your dog be happier about handling, examination and grooming.

Class starts Monday 15th July, and lasts 5 weeks.

You’ll set your own goals, and work towards them with expert individual support.

Even if your dog can’t cope in class, sign up as an auditor to take part and submit video homework for comments.

This is the ONLY time the class will run in 2019, so if your dog needs this help please sign up now. We really want to run the course, but we need two more people to make that happen!

Happy Handling

Morag and the sensitive FreyaCollie 

Freya's paw of doom collage!