Monday, 23 March 2020

Training and Behaviour in the time of Covid-19 - see you online!

The world has changed around us. The situation with Covid-19 has escalated quickly and the situation is expected to get worse over the coming weeks. 

We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and everyone around us as safe and healthy as we can. This is the best way to directly help our health services and authorities respond effectively and save lives.  

Social distancing is essential, and that means staying away from other people (more than 2 metres) and avoiding prolonged contact (in proximity for more than 15 minutes).

We are also being asked to avoid “non-essential” travel. That means we don’t want to encourage you to travel for a session with your trainer or behaviourist. It also means our staff should travel as little as possible.

So, all face to face sessions are currently postponed until further notice.  Clients with sessions booked in will be contacted directly by their trainer or behaviourist to make further arrangements.  We are a small team, so please do bear with us while we organise this.

This isn’t about trying to carry on until the government shuts things down. And we are suffering as a micro-business, just as many others are.

We want to make a good decision today, and we want to help you make those decisions too. 

BUT we can STILL help you!

It is absolutely possible to help with almost all behavioural problems or training situations remotely.

It might be “better” in person (sometimes) but as the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons have announced “you may need to depart from the best practice advice … in order to safeguard yourself and your colleagues, as well as public health

We already offer online support to many of our amazing clients (via video, online material, discussion forums). This will continue as normal, and we’re working hard on additional resources for you and our new clients.

Please take care, wash your hands, and stay the heck away from other people!

We’ll see you (virtually) very soon, 

Morag, Clare, Laura and Gina

Well Connected Canine

Building Better Relationships (at a safe distance!)

*no, there's no suggestion that dogs are at risk from Covid-19, but anyone with a sensitive/shy/reactive dog knows how to keep a good distance!

Monday, 16 March 2020

Muzzles, handwashing and coronavirus

The large off lead dog rushes over to you through the woods, approaching your small on-lead dog.

So far, so normal (potentially frustrating but pretty normal), right?

Then you realise that the big black dog is in fact also wearing a close fitting black Baskerville muzzle. And you’re not sure where the owner is.


Then the owner appeared and shouted “It’s okay, they’re friendly really. They just don’t like joggers”.

Well, credit to the owner for choosing to muzzle their dog and reducing the risk of a jogger being nipped or bitten.

But just using a muzzle, without any other strategies, isn’t really a sensible way to reduce risk and keep everyone safe.

I try to avoid horror stories, but I’ve been on the receiving end of what’s called a “muzzle punch” from a dog (who was muzzled) and trust me, it left bruises!

When we know there is a problem, it’s up to us (with professional support if needed) to create a comprehensive strategy.

Dog “doesn’t like” joggers? 


Let’s assume that means our dog may unpredictably rush at, bark or consider nipping joggers.

  • Avoidance: plan to walk away from organised running events like Park Run, avoid busy regular running routes 
  • Management: teach our dog to really enjoy wearing a muzzle, be able to take treats from us through the muzzle, AND keep our dog on a long line in public 
  • Treatment: check what’s driving our dog’s behaviour (Fear? Anxiety? Frustration?) and develop a training plan to change both the problem and the underlying emotion 
MANY of the dogs pictured wearing muzzles in this blog are current or past WCC clients. These dogs have ALL learned to love wearing their muzzles for a whole variety of reasons. Their amazing humans know that muzzles are just part of the plan! 

By now you might be wondering what on earth this has to do with Covid19!

As a company, and as responsible individuals, we’ve had lots of discussion over the last few weeks.

While we can’t influence government policy, we can choose our own response strategy based on the available evidence and recommendations.

Hand-washing is a lot like using a muzzle on a dog – it only really helps if we’re doing the other important stuff too….

Like social distancing, reducing personal contact, regular hand-washing AND cleaning of relevant surfaces.

Respecting anyone who is self-isolating even just as a precaution, and being mindful that while you might not be badly affected, your elderly relative could become seriously ill.

What you need to know

Entirely coincidentally our only indoor classes finish this Wednesday
after which we’re on a scheduled break until the summer. This week we’re asking everyone to be sensible, avoiding any shared equipment and continuing to observe our usual high standard of hygiene.

Almost all of our other sessions are held outdoors, with the opportunity for plenty of space between people and dogs! We may adapt the structure but sessions are scheduled to continue.

If you’re a behaviour client, then home visits will continue for the moment BUT we’re asking clients to keep us informed if they experience any symptoms, or have returned from travel in affected countries according to the UK Government guidance.

For clients who are self-isolating due to suspected or confirmed infection, or in line with the government guidance on foreign travel, please do not attend for your session and contact us as soon as possible to reschedule without charge.  Please note that session charges continue to apply if we are not notified in advance of the need to cancel.

We reserve the right to ask any client or helper to leave a session if they appear to be unwell and there is a concern about infection. 

We’re looking forwards to continuing to work with you, and implementing a whole package of strategies as needed.

Morag and the beasties

What’s on in WCC Land? 

Parkour Workshops Sunday 22nd March

Gun Dog Games on Saturday 21st March

Remote Support

As always, we're available via video link and phone for ongoing training support, new behaviour consultations and more - just email the office on

The Multi-Dog Harmony workshop is currently on hold, and I’ll let you know once we have a new date.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Today is a good day, and a slightly sad day

Happy News

Gina has been one of our dedicated dogs bodies and helpers, but you might not realise she is also in the third year of a BSc in Canine Behaviour & Training. Since beginning to help out in classes, and getting involved through her work experience placement, we've seen Gina blossom into a great trainer.

I'm delighted to announce that Gina has now officially joined our team as a Trainer (based in Bridlington) and is delivering our Puppy Curriculum and Three Week Intensive Programmes.

It's not compulsory to have a "challenging dog" if you want to become a trainer or behaviourist, but it can give you a real insight. You can read about some of Gina's experiences with Max (Schnauzer) on the blog here:

And here's Max starting to make friends with Laird - it's a bromance all about beards!

(thanks to Andrea for the photo - yet another one of our amazing dogsbodies)

Slightly sadder news

Our regular Wednesday evening classes (venue: Yorkshire Museum of Farming) are on hiatus for the three months from 19 March to 10 June 2020.

The WCC team is small and enthusiastic as you know, but with more teaching commitments for myself and Clare, plus Laura will be data collecting for her PhD, we're running out of hours in the day!

What WILL still be running:
  • Behaviour support sessions
  • Social Skills classes
  • Half day activity workshops like Gundog Games, Parkour and Scentwork
  • Taster sessions
  • Regular Hoopers classes at the PawPark

And for Summer 2020 we have a programme of drop-in activities planned instead of having to commit to a weekly class.

Happy Wednesday!

Morag and the beasties

Social Skills (for dogs that sometimes struggle)

Safe spaces for your dog to practice their conversational skills with other dogs or people. These sessions are ideal if your dog is ready to get closer, learn how to make friends or build tolerance levels.  Maximum of two spaces per session.
  • When: weekdays and Saturdays - there will be evening sessions from the spring 
  • Where: PawPark, Sand Hutton
  • Check the schedule and book here