Muzzles: Training for Emergencies

So as a Security Dog Handler my dog have to learn to wear a muzzle to pass the course. Allowing us to work the dogs in them, should the employer request it.

Muzzles are seen as a tool in the Security Dog industry, but for pet dog owners many see them as an indicator for dangerous dogs when out and about. But for many their dog are muzzled for a completely other reason, such as for hoovering food/rubbish when out on a walk.

I think all dogs should be taught to wear a muzzle, regardless of breed, age and behaviour. They are often required in times of great stress, mainly after an accident. You are adding to the stress by making your dog wear a muzzle, it might be needed for the dogs own safety, but you can save a lot of unnecessary stress by teaching your dog to accept the muzzle.

Training can be one of several ways, the main ones I teach will be described below, but remember you can teach these things how ever you want. These are ideas based on common sense training and experience.

1. Just shove it on:

What it says on the tin really, and it is how I have introduced my own dogs to the muzzle. We put the muzzle on, made sure it fit and then walked the dog around until it learned to accept it as part of the training. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea way of doing it, but it has worked for all of my dogs and they are fine to wear it both for the vets and working.


My White German Shepherd, a fully qualified NTIPDU Security Dog wearing a leather basket muzzle, for at work or emergency situations. He is happy to wear it, and works in it well. This type of muzzle is only for short term use as the dog cannot drink with it, but can pant. 

2. Teach them to put it on:

This is great to do combined with other training such as target training, or clicker training. I don’t use both as I find them difficult, but its easy enough to do with some treats and patience. Basically put the muzzle in your hand, as soon as the dog shows interest tell them how good they are and treat them. Basically you are going to teach them to see the muzzle as a good thing, and a treat dispenser. Once they get the idea is holds treats, then you start width holding the treats until they go closer, the put their nose in the muzzle. This builds up to them putting it on by themselves, and wearing it strapped on. It;s a long process but it builds up the dogs to be used to their muzzle without stress, or fear. You have to keep training it as a good thing. You can also do this training with a toy, or reward item. Making the dog work to get the toy via putting the muzzle on.


My Springer Spaniel Drugs Dog, a fully qualified NTIPDU Scent Detection Dog. He is used to wearing a muzzle for emergencies. Which came in useful recently after he broke his dew claw and needed to have an operation. He wears a fabric muzzle which are only used for emergencies as if worn correctly, the dog cannot pant at all. It is supposed to clamp the mouth shut so the dog cannot bite. 

3. Bribery:

Bibery is not training with treats, it is basically popping something nice at the end of the muzzle like peanut butter (Good quality without xylitol), marmite or cream cheese. Anything that sticks to the edges, letting the dog find it and start licking it in the muzzle. Then putting the muzzle on with them still after the treat at the end. It’s pure bribery combined with distraction. Works well fro many dogs, and is actually very good for dogs with aggression out of the house, as it gives the owner confidence their dog can’t hurt anything and the dog is distracted by the food.

IMAG3331 [777666]

My Female German Shepherd wearing a Baskerville muzzle. The most common type out there and perfect all rounder for both pets and working dogs. They are easy to shove treats into if needed, they can pant, bark and drink with them on without harming other dogs, themselves or people. OR for many they can’t eat things off the ground. 


However you decide to train your dog to wear a muzzle, please do train them to wear one. It is so much easier in stress situations if the dog is already used to the muzzle.

Also once you have trained them to wear one, keep practising the training. Dog’s can forget about them after a long period without them, so aim to practice at least once a month once they are comfortable wearing them.

If you are unsure of where to start with the training and need some help, then feel free to get in touch to talk about the training or have a one to one session to get it started.

Kathryn Jones
A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour


What’s in my Pocket? – Dog Training Treats

Many dog owners ask me what treats I have in my pocket. after exclaiming that their dogs won’t touch their treats for training.

Well I’ll run you through the main three I have in my pockets for bribing, rewarding and distracting!

I try to use only high quality and ethical treats. I my mind if you feed your dog well, like us they will thrive. Training doesn’t mean you have to feed your dog crap, adding sugar and additives to their diet, which can cause digestive upset or erratic behaviour for some dogs.

1. Pooch and Mutt ” Calm & Relaxed” Dog Treats. 

treats- cr

These treats are wheat free, and natural. They include chamomile, which is well known for its relaxing properties in people, and now dogs. It also has L-tryptophan which aids the formation of serotonin in dogs. I use these treats, not only because dogs love them but they are essential in my mind to help dogs de-stress when we are training, as training can put dogs closer to their stress threshold than usual. They are especially useful when working with behaviour modification for aggression, fear or anxiety. They can help with training to change a dogs behaviour. While they aren’t a cure for all, any little help we can offer is used to help.


2. Beautiful Joe’s Ethical Dog Treats

These treats are pure dried Ox liver, farmed here in the UK, and then dried here too. No cheap imported imitations will be accepted. These are irritable to dog’s nationwide. A great reward for recall to get the dogs to come in like a rocket. Fabulous for training dogs on threshold as a good reward they want to work for, instead of their boring kibble.
Although if most dogs eat too much they can get the runs, it is great used in moderation.
The best thing about it is that every packet you buy, a packet goes to a rescue dog! Adding the feel good factor.


3. Fish4Dogs Dog Food

Superior Adult Complete Small-Bite

Fish is irresistible to most dogs, its usually reserved for a treat as dog food is mainly chicken, lamb or beef based. Fish also SMELLS great to dogs, and for even no foody dog’s they provide a good distraction. The smell sets their nose going, overriding what is in their sites in some circumstances. I also use this as a treat that can be used as the bulk of the treats for rewarding as its not high fat, its potato rather than rice or wheat, along with the fish so doesn’t convert to energy fast. It can be used in higher volumes than the other treats, and as its not a treat it’s self it can be used without much concern for digestive upset. I use it with all my own dogs, and dog’s I train with and I haven’t had any complaints yet!


You don’t need to use fancy treats for dog training, for a foody dog you can even use their own biscuit for training, just take some out of their normal daily ration to avoid them getting a lot extra food, and putting on weight.

You can also make your own treats, their are loads of recipes out there to make them. Which ever you use, think about the adding of sugar or loads of wheat based ingredients as they can effect the dogs behaviour.

Always remember treats shouldn’t be the only thing used for training. Your voice, body language and toys should also be used, so the dog is well rounded and happy to work with you as an owner, not a treat dispenser.

Why GOOD Dog Training Advice, Isn’t Free Advice.

I have countless clients come to me after “Trying everything”, it quite often goes like this…. They have a dog that jumping up in the home, and generally is out of control while guests are there. The owner is now at its whit’s end, threatening the dog with re-homing if it doesn’t sort its behaviour out (As if the dog has a clue it’s actually doing something wrong?). They have tried shouting, smacking, treats, pet correctors, water bottles and bottles of rocks! EVERYTHING they tell me, and then in the same breath go on to tell me that I’m now their last hope for this dog (Thanks for that pressure).

Dog training is just that, TRAINING! Dogs are that not born knowing they should not steal the roast dinner off the table, or jump up at every guest. Training is needed to teach a dog what they get rewarded for, i.e. sitting on their bed while you eat, and what gets them told off i.e. stealing food.

You can get all the free advice in the world, from Aunt Sue, John down the street, even Vet’s and Pet Shop Employee’s (Who I can tell you now are some of the worst offenders for offering out free “Advice” on dog training and behaviour, which is really not helpful). This free advice will cost you in the long run though, as your dog gets more confused with your every changing behaviour towards them, mixed messaged and down right just being horrible.

Training sometimes needs tools such as corrective interrupters like Pet Corrector, but this MUST ALWAYS BE COUPLED WITH A REWARD once the dog is doing what you want them to do.

You can try everything on this planet, but if the dog only ever gets told off, how is it supposed to know when it is right? Use some Clever Training and think about what you are doing to your dog.

The biggest cost it has is on the relationship between you and your dog, they can no longer trust you to be consistant in your behaviour, they don’t know when their doing right, so quite often the dog will act out more than before to get your attention. It isn’t the right way to get attention but negative attention is still attention to a dog, especially to one who has been starved of reward attention.

It’s a Behaviourist’s worst nightmare to hear people say “I’ve tried everything” as you know it is going to be hard to get the dog and owner to engage as a pair again, and find a method that works to sort out the behaviour issues. It will also take more sessions and more of everyone’s time to change the behaviour that has now appeared from all the constant changing, as the dog isn’t looking for a reward in some cases, and is content with being screamed at. Not a nice life for a dog, and it can be difficult to get a dog to re-engage.

A loss of a dog can be the cost of free “Helpful” advice. Someone people have re-homed dogs for simple training issues, such as jumping at guests. I don’t begrudge anyone re-homing a dog as it is a hard choice, but doing it for behaviour issues without getting in professional help first is lacking care. If you truly care about a dog you shouldn’t be listing off the things you have tried before re-homing the dog, but instead saying about how you worked with a professional but the dog is no longer getting the quality of life it deserves, or even that the professional has suggested a different environment for the dog to be happier.

Get all the free advice you want, ask people and try it. But when you pay for a Dog Trainer or Behaviourist, you get someone who will work with you one to one, teach you about your dogs problems, and most likely highlight yours as well. They will sort out the problem using one or two training  methods, and I can almost 100% guarantee it will work within the first method as long as you listened to the trainer, if it doesn’t then they will come back to help. Not everything works first time. I have offered people second consults if the first training methods haven’t worked, and we have re-evaluated. Most training issues take one to three or four sessions to iron out, as you are changing a behaviour completely. Its hard for many dogs, and owners to grasp, so it is not going to happen over night.

I never give you free advice without seeing the dog first, what might work based on what the owner thinks is wrong, can be very different to what is actually taking place. Dog’s are complicated, almost as much as humans are. Suggesting an approach for one type of behaviour change, that is actually another under the surface can send dogs backwards in their training, create a aggression or learned helplessness. I have to see the dog and owner together, take in the environment, previous training and situation they are now in. If I suggested things without consideration I would be a dangerous trainer.

Dog Training takes: Time, Effort, Commitment, Patience and the ability to Admit Your Own Faults. Good dogs aren’t just a select few elite, all dogs are good when trained right, but soon go “Bad” if let to do their own thing, trained incorrectly or just not appreciated for what their role is i.e. working line breed in a low energy home. Don’t look for quick fixes or ask for advice off those without the knowledge or training, but instead learn to work with your dog.

So waste hundreds on gadgets, gizmos and training aids. Or spend a little on some good advice and training from a professional. I know which one my training clients now wish they had picked.


Clever Fox Canine Training and Security

“A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour”

Puppy Parties, Puppy Classes and Puppy Training

So you’ve got a new puppy, your excited about all the new interactions you will be having soon! You have singed up to the Puppy Parties at the local vets office, and put your name down for a 6 week Puppy Training course in the local village hall, or called a Dog Trainer to help. But which is best?

I will note my take on each, and let you decide.

You do all these things, you think your ahead of the game and your puppy will be ready for anything. Instead of getting that feeling, you have a puppy who is worried about things outside on walks, whom doesn’t play nice and bullies other dogs, who doesn’t listen to anything you say outside of the class. Now the puppy is going on 9 months, and your struggling to control them in the house at all. Your considering re-homing the puppy as its nothing like you thought it would be? Considering asking advice online? Using extreme correction to try and gain control? Or calling in a dog behavioursit?

Puppy Parties and Puppy Training Classes are brilliant for many dog owners if ran correctly, by educated people with knowledge of bringing up their own puppies and the knowledge of the new science in training.It teaches them good manners with both people and dogs, and to be focused and attentive.

On the flip side if your entering a Puppy Party with loads of puppies terrorising each other, what is it actually teaching your puppy? Your teaching them to bully other dogs, or be fearful of other dogs. The memories they get from 8 to 16 weeks stick with puppies the most. If they get terrified at a puppy party ran by a vet nurse with out any dog training and dog behaviour what are they teaching you and your puppy? In my mind, very little. But they are setting you and your puppy up for a lifetime of issues. Going to a class ran by a competent dog behaviourist and paying a little more is well worth the cost, rather than attending one free class where you and your puppy don’t get the help needed.

The best example I have is if your child was being terrorised by a child 4 times its size, but the same age would you step in, stopping them being thrown on the ground, bitten and dragged about. They are clearly showing distress and all you are saying it “They have to learn to play”. THIS IS WRONG. How can you let this happen to a little Terrier puppy with a Labrador puppy? This is not teaching them anything good, but to fearful of other dogs that might beat them up, or learn its ok to bully other puppies. It also teaches puppies they can just run up to other dogs and do what the hell they like. It is not educated and safe.

If ran correctly, with the organiser letting the puppies play but those that are the same size and temperament. Stopping any bullying behaviour with time outs, and distractions. It also created good memories of the vets office, meaning it is a lot easier for dog, owner and the vet when visits are needed.

Puppy Classes are brilliant at offering owners time in the week where they work with their dog one and one, in a supportive environment, with like minded people. If ran correctly the puppies learn to work around distractions, listen to their owner and it gives owners confidence to carry on training their dogs. As well as offering owners to advance their dog skills with further classes.

It can be a place dog owners can strive to better their dog handling, but it can also become a place of worry for both owner and puppy. Puppies can be worried about the hall environment, it can be loud and distracting, as well as all the dogs already in there setting up some more nervous dogs to be worried about groups of dogs and people. Owners can start to judge the progress of their puppy against everyone else, and get disheartened about not progressing as far as other puppies the same age. Hall’s are not realistic environments unless you are going to be showing your puppy, training a real environment like the home, park or shop is more realistic for you and your puppy.

The biggest thing I have against classes is that dogs often learn to only work in the village hall, instead of the real world where they reside. Dog’s are very good at being context specific if you don’t teach them to work everywhere. So a dog that excels in he safe environment of the class room, might run off or refuse to sit when on a walk. It is very frustrating for dog owners, and I think more classes should be run outdoors. Or more emphasis on owners doing home work with their dogs at home, and showing evidence of it. Dog’s only learn with repetition, but class teachers often get so stuck doing things a single way, they can’t be flexible to finding other ways for different puppies. Classes not focusing on sits, but on socialisation and each dog as an individual are better suited for puppies, who are all unique.

One to ones with a dog trainer and well mannered dog can set puppies up for a lifetime of good interactions and manners. It allows the owner time with the trainer asking about dog behaviour. The dog trainer can help owners identify fear, or stress behaviour as well as happy. This one on one training can be a real boost for new owners who want the training help, without the pressure of class environment. Meeting a well mannered older dog can help puppies understand the rules of dog life, and have confidence about interactions. Many people are also more likely to get in touch with the same trainer for help in the future, when they need it order to keep their dog on the right path, than struggle alone. But like the others their are down sides.

A single dog trainer cannot have as many dogs as a puppy class or party, and even puppies can be frightened by well mannered older dogs if they are much larger than them. The progress of the puppy also depends on the owner putting in the hard work, going to a weekly appointment encourages people to keep working hard. Working with a dog trainer once or twice has little intensive for less driven people to work hard on their puppies interactions in a good way, rather than by chance.Dog Trainers can also be idiots when it comes to puppies, they can hand out bad advice as well as good, unfortunately one bad bit of advice can last a life time.

The biggest thing from all of this is not to attend something for a few hours a week,  or only work with your puppy when the dog trainer is there. But instead learn how to teach your puppy, your instructor for any of these puppy start ups should be teaching you how to not only solve the behaviour troubles you are having now, but also teach you how to teach them for the future. Giving you information on the next stages of life and how to avoid behaviour issues.

Puppy training can set dogs up for life, but training doesn’t stop at 9 months, 12 months or even 18 months old. It is a life time thing, teaching dogs to cope with new changes or learn new tricks. Training young can allow owners to predict behaviour, but it cannot stop dogs getting scared or attacked, which can lead to unwanted behaviour. No amount of puppy training can undo some changes, and this is when you need to look forward for training, not backwards in order to help your dog cope, and learn better reactions to this event or situation.

Cost can be an issue for some dog owners, but please don’t skimp on your puppies start because of cost. Puppy Parties are usually free provided by the Vets in order to get you to stay with their practice, and buy their products such as their own brand food, or wormer. Puppy Classes can be anything from £5 to £15 per class depending on the trainer, area. One on One Training with a Dog Trainer can be from £30 up to £50 or more depending on the trainer. I charge £40 for the first session, then £20 per hour for any sessions after, this also includes unlimited phone calls for advice and help. A Behaviour Consult for adult dog with aggression or fear issues is £60 and then you tend to need about 5-6 more sessions to sort it out, so which is cheaper in the long run?

How ever you choose to start your puppy off, don’t think one session training with a trainer or a 6 week course, means you don’t need to work with your dog for the rest of its life. Dogs are a 10-15 year commitment and training goes on forever with them.

I only offer One to One Training with puppies, using my own trained dogs to give puppies good interactions. I also guide the owners through the whole dogs life, working with the owner every step of the way, from toilet training up to introducing another dog to the now adult dog. Literally every step of the way. I am here to give the owners peace of mind they are not alone with their puppy, and their is always someone at the end of the phone. I have followed countless puppies from small bungles of fur into adulthood. It is a lovely role to have and I know some owners would have given up with the support and guidance. I also offer a puppy class focusing on good manners with other dogs and puppies, learning in a real environment by running it in a coffee shop. I help each puppy through the course with you the owners by their side learning with them.

Whether you use me as a trainer, or attend classes, or puppy parties. Ask questions, learn as much as you can from those who know. Don’t just allow yourself to be dictated at, learn more through your puppy and most of all enjoy that time learning together.


Start your puppy off correctly and reap the rewards later on in life. 


April: National Pet Month Top 10 Tips

With April closing, and May beginning, I thought it would be good to put all my top tips into one blog post.

It’s not going to be anything fancy. A reference place for anyone to find all my top tips for dog ownership and welfare.

These are all just small details, or advice about maintaining or improving the welfare of your dog. They are not rule to live by or things I think suit every dog. Just ideas to hopefully give you, the dog owner, more ideas to do with your dog.

TOP TIP #1 for responsible dog ownership.

Get your dog used to being touched all over, teaching them to see it as part of normal routine daily and nothing unusual. Many dogs get stressed enough at the vets just from being there, you can make it easier for them by teaching them it’s normal to be touched. From early on make sure you can touch all over, check in their eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Do it when your training, do it when your cuddling, and especially when your grooming them. Grooming also be included in at least a monthly routine for dogs, even short coated. More frequently for long, curly or wire coated. You might think it’s a waste of time at the time, but in the long run it will help maintain the welfare of your dog. Making it less stressful for visits to vets and groomers, and a dog that is relaxed is happy. Making it easier to apply lotions, ear and eye drops. It is also our jobs as dog owners to care for them, this means seeking appropriate advice if you do spot something different on your dog, and you can only notice change if you know what’s normal. Training it is so easy, you don’t need a trainer, just a toy, a treat or rest time, just add checking them over into normal play and cuddles. Easy. Your dog will thank you for it, and you could very well save their life. Photos are of me just playing with my white boy, adding in teeth and eye checks, along with grooming into our one on one time.

TOP TIP #2 for responsible dog ownership.
Mental Stimulation over Physical Activity
Don’t be tempted to just run your dog ragged to tire them out, their brain needs as much work out as their body. More so for some breeds.

Think outside the box for activities, such as not just throwing a ball but hiding it for them to find.
Filling an empty plastic bottle with tasty treats and letting the dog learn to knock them out.
Ice cubes! Freezing stock and gravy with food in the middle for them to work towards, this can also include filling a Kong Toy with some tasty food and freezing it.
Filling a muffin tray with balls and hiding dinner underneath them, making the dog work to get them out.
Scatter feeding their dinner on the garden, making them use their nose to find their food.
Hiding toys in a ball pit or in boxes, letting them destroy the boxes to get to the toys.
Training the dog something entirely new such as a down stay, drop on recall, collect their toys into their bed/basket, or searching for family members.

There are activity toys on the market, but you needn’t break the bank as long as you think outside the box. Mental stimulation provides a better workout than physical exercise for the same time input. It also builds the bond between dog and owner.


TOP TIP #3 for responsible dog ownership.
Are you ready for an emergency?
When ever you travel, with or without your dog things can go wrong. Be a responsible driver and not only drive in alignment with the law, but prepare for the worst. An Accident.
I’ve got this very document in my van for when ever I drive. It has the key information for anyone whom should find me in an accident. It allows the emergency services easy access to contact details for next of kin for myself, and my dogs.
This is something you should have even if you don’t have dogs. The biggest difference for the dogs is the addition of the chip numbers so you can inform the local dog warden, and chip companies should the dogs get free and flee the scene. Much quicker than digging through old paperwork.
For each individual add in allergies you have, or medical details.
Add in where you would like to be taken for treatment, or if you are an organ donor.
While you might not like to think about the worst, you should prepare for it, for yourself and your dog.

TOP TIP #4 for responsible dog ownership.
Question your dog food!

Dog food is easy and convenient. Open the packet and pour, Right? Sure for some brands, that might be right. For other brands you might need to educate yourself a little.

So here’s a quick run through of what to look for in your packet of dog food. (This is a very basic run through, I am not a nutritionist. Do your own research, or ask a nutritionist if you want to know more).

1. The first ingredient should be MEAT. Not cereal, rice, wheat or potato. Ingredients run highest lowest, even if the percentage isn’t on the bag. This brand I use for my Iran dogs when I’m away working. It’s much higher than most brands, with the average probably being about 20-30% depending on the brand. The meat can be as exotic or mundane as you like, chicken to kangaroo! Make sure it’s dried or fresh meat, not ‘Meat and animal derivatives’ that’s the not so good stuff!

2. Rice, Cereal, Wheat or Potato are usually the next ingredient. Dogs aren’t really able to digest this so well and get very little nutrients out of it, but a lot of sugar. So the more of these the more your dog can have sugar highs and lows, aberrant behaviour or skin issues as the dogs body tries to reject it! Less or non at all where possible. But they make dog food kibble like.

3. Avoid colourants. If the kibble is red, green, yellow, or basically any colour than brown it’s good colourants in. Colourants mean E numbers, and E numbers mean mad behaviours! You know what happens to kids filled with skittles…. Same happens to dogs.

4. High protein doesn’t always mean mad dogs. Protein used to always be blamed for mad dog behaviour. While it is what gives the dog energy in basic terms, it isn’t the be all and end all of the food. Puppies need lots growing up to help grow right, adults need less and it needs to be based on their life style. But a high content doesn’t mean mad dogs, it’s the quality. If it’s based on a high meat content, then it’s good protein. If it’s based on a high plant content it’s not as easy to process and can lead to mad dog behaviour.

In my personal opinion the best food for dogs is raw meaty bones, meat, and organ. The Raw Diet. It’s natural, you know what’s in it so their is no crap! It’s easy to do once you’ve started, and you’ll dog will thank you. Their is loads of help out there. Just ask me where to start, or get googling! Companies such as Honey’s Real Dog Food Natural Instinct, Nutriment, and Nature Diet are all there to help you every step of the way.

The food label used in this image is Platinum Dog Food, it’s the closest to raw I can get for traveling about. Other brands I recommend are Fish4Dogs, Lily’s Kitchen, Pooch and Mutt, Barking Heads, and Nature Diet.

Don’t be fooled by the pretty dog pictures on a packet,or think because it’s approved by vets it’s the best. Educate yourself so your not blinded by the crap! I could go on all day about dog nutrition, but I won’t. Instead I encourage you the dog owners, to educate yourself for your dogs welfare

TOP TIP #5 for responsible dog ownership.
When a cuddle just won’t do.

Stress! All dog’s and people get stressed. Sometimes at the small things, and sometimes at the big changes. People and dog’s react differently depending on their experiences and personality.

While for some dogs training can help them cope, for others they need a little help. Help that can’t be provided through training.

Dog’s live in our world, not the other way around. They don’t speak fluent English (Knowing what “Walkies” means does make them fluent), but are expected to understand. Keeping routines and training on point can help those who are little more stressy cope with the changes, but for some constantly not being in control can effect their behaviour.

We can help them cope with our behaviour, such as cuddling, changing routines, and starting small changes early before a big one. Changes that can upset dogs can be house moves, new dog, new baby, new job, pretty much anything.

When training alone can’t help the dog, I turn to complementary therapies to help the dog calm from the inside. I don’t use chemicals, or drugs. But instead natural calming products, that I have used myself and that work.

1. Adaptil
A synthetic version of the pheromone a bitch produces when she has a little of pups to keep them, herself and other dogs quiet. Works really well to keep dogs calm.
2. Pet Remedy
A Valerian compound that naturally stops the neurotransmitters in the brain from firing. Stopping the dogs getting so stressed. It works on people as well! So very good helping the whole family.
3. Rescue Remedy
A natural mix of essences from nature that help during stress or emergencies. Helping to calm and focus.

These are all to aid with training, they are not quick fixes but to aid with training and changes. I sell both Adaptil and Pet Remedy as I really think they work to help dogs, and their owners with change. So ask me about them during consults, I sell below RRP where possible.

Changes happen, but there is no shame in helping your dog cope. Making them and you happier.


TOP TIP #6 for responsible dog ownership.
Tasty Enrichment.

If you’re a biscuit feeder, then your dog will get the same meal every day. Boring ay?

Start enriching their lives with some tasty added extras, as a treat or reward.

You don’t need to go out and buy fancy sugary treats, when you will have most of these things in the house already.

1. Natural Yogurt. Great to hide pills, and supplements. It’s tasty, with no added sugar and dog’s go mad for it! Mine adore it off the spoon or on their food. Some also contain great probiotics, for digestion and health. (Some dogs can be lactose intolerant so be away of not feeding a huge amount).

2. Eggs. Scrambled for some dogs as a warm meal after lots of stress or illness. Raw with shell on their food, if possible. They are filled with Calcium and Protein for the dogs.

3. Carrots. While they don’t hold a huge amount of nutrition for a dog, they are great teeth cleaners and take some dog’s ages to chew down. Great boredom buster.

4. Fish. Skins off the salmon your cooking, a tin of sardines now and then. Lots will upset the tummy or as an occasional treat it’s great. Fab for eye, coat and skin health.

5. Seasonal Fruits. Come Autumn when the berries are ripe on the bushes my lot will go picking by themselves. With the power of frozen, they can have fruit all year round. A sweat natural treat, as a healthy alternative to sugary treats.

Improve your dog’s welfare by adding in extras, it engages their senses and gives them something to look forward too. They are also great for adding into activity toys and hiding pills in.

It also makes you feel like your treating them, without adding on the extra pounds!


TOP TIP #7 for responsible dog ownership.
Doggy Body Language.

This Top Tip is more brief than the others. Basically have a good read of the poster below, take some time to learn what your dog is trying to tell you. Many dogs are trying to speak to use when their scared, stressed, excited or angry and we are missing all the signals.

We need to learn to speak dog better, as we teach dogs to speak human.

Dog body language isn’t as cut and dry as the poster makes out, but it is a start.


TOP TIP #8 for responsible dog ownership.
Respect Other Dogs.

The rule when on a walk with your dog off lead is that if you see another dog on lead, then you put yours on. You do not allow your dog to run up to them, possibly scaring them, or causing a fight. It is not good manners, and its down right dangerous.

Unless your dog has a 100% recall then don’t let it off, to bounce other dogs. The other dog might be nervous, in pain, in season or in training. If your dog was in the same position would you be all that pleased if your dog was bombarded? No not really.

Think about the other dog before allowing your dog to run off, its so easy to achieve a recall away from other dogs back to you. Pop the dog back on lead and then talk to the owner if it is ok for the dogs to interact.

On the flip side if your dog is off lead, and their dog is off lead also it is generally ok for your dog to go in and interact with them. Just use some common sense, if the owner is on their phone not watching or they have no control of their dog, move on past. Make your life easier.

Dog’s don’t need friends, they need you, a home, food, water and training. Dog interactions are a privilege not a right.

Their is an organisation trying to promote and educate owners to add Yellow Ribbons to their leads if their dogs need space. It is a growing movement and should be talked about more!

Find out more:

I also wrote a Blog post about this before, based on my own experiences:…/aggressive-dogs-th…/

Use your common sense when out and about. If your dog is friendly that is great, but imagine what it is like for those that aren’t.


TOP TIP #9 for responsible dog ownership.

Noise Phobias.

Many dogs freak out at noises we understand, we know its a train, fireworks or even a thunder storm. We cannot explain that to our dogs, but instead teach them not to be worried by them.

Many dogs have panic when encountering a noise they do not understand. This can lead to them running off, harming themselves and owners with panic. It’s also not a nice feeling knowing your dog is upset and their is not an awful lot you can do to help, cuddling can help, as well as carrying on as normal to help the dog learn you see it as nothing scary, but since we don’t speak dog it can be difficult.

Thankfully their are ways to help your dog adjust to these sounds. Starting off with puppies is easier, but it can be done with every dog.

Its a process called Desensitisation, which basically means getting the dog used to sounds, so it no longer reacts.

You can get App’s and CD’s but I use trusty old YouTube for videos of sounds. Basically play the sounds very low, barely a whisper while your dog eats, plays and is settled at night.

You need to keep the routine as normal as possible, if you start doing things extra with the sound the dog will see it as a cue for change and upset some dogs. We play them when distracted so it becomes background noise to the dog.

Building up the volume to almost as loud as they would be in real life, over a period of time. This time frame might be several weeks or even months. Never rush this, only turn the volume up over time and when the dog is relaxed with the previous volume.

This can help all dogs, even those without fears that you know of now. Rescues can benefit from this before the noisy season starts in Autumn/Winter so you don’t have the stressy nights.

This is not a fix, but just an idea to help all dogs owners.


TOP TIP #10 for responsible dog ownership. (We finally got there!)

Cherish Your Dog.

Dog’s aren’t here forever unfortunately; they live shorter lives than we do. It is a sad truth, so we should enjoy every moment with them until then.

I am lucky enough to work with my dogs as my job, and it means I have a bond with them that will last their lifetime.

Dogs are not ornaments or show pieces, they are parts of the family, or partners in crime.

As such I think more people need to take time to spend with their dog, not just sitting on the sofa watching TV after a long day at work, but instead taking time to do things your dog likes, such as training time, walking in new places or meeting new dogs. While people might not thing dogs crave such things, and the science doesn’t prove it, but tell me when you haven’t seen a social dog happy after learning a new trick or going out with their owner somewhere new such as a dog show, even joining a dog training club. Dog’s nee praise and love, training them to do something new and praising them is the highest reward for them. Enjoy your time together.

Think about devoting as little as an hour a week to one on one time with your dog, I don’t mean going on a walking on lead or sitting on the sofa cuddling. Instead inputting your time to teach them something new, or going out on a doggy group walk. Time to spend with them.

It doesn’t have to be hours and hours, just enough time for your dog to know you do love them and appreciate them. Maybe were thinking too much of dogs as a species to have that sort of intelligence, but I think they do. Anyone that knows their dog, knows when they are feeling, happy, sad or upset.

Dogs: Before the Baby Arrives

You’ve found out you’re pregnant, congratulations! Now all the celebrations have died down, and your planning for the delivery in nine months, don’t forget the dog.

Oh no! Not a baby!

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Dogs and babies have a lot of bad media attention, with unfortunate attacks and bad situations.
Putting in some work in before the baby arrives can save you the worry, and heart ache of possibly re-homing your dog.

Here are some steps towards helping your dog adjust to all the changes to come:

Sound proofing your dog!

This isn’t getting them to be silent, but instead getting them used to all the sounds a baby will make. The fancy term is Desensitisation, and its essentially teaching your dog not to react to baby sounds, allowing them to be calm round the new arrival.

You can get Apps ( or CDs to help with this, but you can use sound clips online ( . Play babies screaming, crying, gurgling, toy sounds, laughing, making any noise while the dog is eating, playing, while feeding treats, training and sleeping.

To start off with they will be interested in the sound, but over time they will learn its part of background life, nothing to be worried about. Some dogs get used to this quickly, others take time, which is why it is important to start early.

Continuing right up to when the baby is born.

Get the baby gear early

Get the gear up ready in the house. Have it all over the place so the dog can get used to it, and just ignore it. Were trying to introduce things early in order for it to be normal, when the new baby arrives, so the dog has less change all at once. This gear includes the pram. Your going to want to be able to walk the dog next to the pram, so teaching it before the baby comes is a great idea. Get it out and set up, introduce it in stages.
1. Have it set up in the house, let them learn to ignore it.
2. Go for a normal long walk, when you come home go straight out with the pram. One of your walking the dog, the other pushing the pram. Walk around the block, and then come home as normal.
3. Do the last stage until the dog ignores the pram, then take the pram out with the dog along side. Walk as normal, and don’t make a fuss about the change. This is also a good time to either teach, or reinforce the “Heel” command, so they walk nicely not drag.
4. Get them used to you fussing with the pram, and play those baby sounds in it as well. They then learn to ignore the screaming baby in real life.

Always watch your dog while walking, don’t run over their feet and make sure their not going to jump in the pram.

Baby Toys

Baby toys are of great temptation for dogs, as before the arrival the rule was if it’s on the floor or your interacting with it, chances are the dog is going to get it.

So teaching the leave it, and swap is great to introduce now if they don’t already know it.

1. Get some tasty treats and a toy they like, let them pick up someone of there’s and play with it.
2.Offer them the treat or other toy, as soon as they let go give them what’s been offered with the word “Leave it”, with a cheery attitude.
3. Keep practising this, until they drop it on the command.

You’re not the chase them to steal it off them, yanking it out of their mouth or removing it. That teaches them to keep things. If they do run off, ignore them pick up something else or just leave the room. If they come to find you having dropped the toy, or bring it to you reward them and take it off them.

Its a tricky one to learn, but much needed for when the baby toys arrive.

Fake Babies

Start carrying round a fake baby, carry it from room to room, place it in the new baby gear. Basically treat it as a real baby, so the dog gets used to you having your attention on something else. Add in the baby sounds with a phone tucked into the babies clothes or cloth.

The dog might try to jump up to see what you have, instead of pushing them down with a hand. Lift a knee up to push the dog off balance, it means you have both hands on the baby, and the dog stops. Make sure you reward the dog for sitting quietly, instead of jumping.

Sit on the sofa with the baby, again we’re teaching the dog to leave you alone when you have the baby, so push them away if their too interested, or best to teach them to settle else where is to give them a good chew toy on their bed so they settle while your with the baby.
Teaching the “Move Back” command is great to introduce when you introduce the fake baby.
1.Start off with some treats in hand, get your dog in front of you and show them what you have.
2. Push a treat towards their chest, just under their nose. They’ll start to move back in order to get that treat. As they take a strap back give them the treat.
3.Once they’ve done it a few times, they will start to shuffle back on their own. So start adding in the command “Move Back” (Or any command you want).
4. Once they start to get it more, then you can stop putting the treat to their chest and instead flick your hand in the direction combined with the command, and they should move back.
5. Well done you’ve taught your dog to move backwards, keep practising in order for them understand it. To progress it start waiting longer or move further back before you reward them.
This command is great for when your sitting with the baby, its being changed on the floor or playing on a mat. It gives you space, and teaches your dog that if it keeps out of the way good things happen, instead of being shouted at.

Busy Moments

Your going to have busy moments, where unfortunately the dog will be in the way. So teach your dog to be happy settled in a crate or shut off room, while your still in the house so they can learn to settle when your busy, or when you have guests about. Teach your dog to enjoy their time alone by giving them boredom busting toys filled with treats, or long lasting chews.
Good products are Kong Chews and Wobblers, Antler Bars, Pizzle Sticks, Dried Tripe, Filled Hooves, basically anything that your dog can chew on and spend time eating.
They won’t like it to start but coupling it with complementary therapies (Such as Pet Remedy, Adaptil and Rescue Remedy), and doing it for 10mins a day to start, will lead up to your dog settling down when your out of the room. Building up the time over the days.


Routine goes out of the window with the arrival of the little one, so get your dog used to the change gradually. Start off feeding at different times, sometimes early or late. Other times in two meals instead of one, change it up.

Walking needs to be more random, different times and locations, even different people. Once the baby is here you might not have the time, or energy to walk the dog so start enlisting friends and family. The dog doesn’t miss out, and you get chance to rest.

Look into a dog walker, they really help not only for walking but they mean your dog can have fun with other friendly dogs.

Look into local kennels, while they might not be everyone’s cup of tea they are a safe, secure and knowledgeable place for your dog to go in an emergency and stay for a period of time should it be needed. Go see local kennels, talk to the owners and see dogs staying there. Take your dog there on a trial evening, see how they react to give you peace of mind.

Extra Help

Training can produce great results, but looking into complementary therapies for calming and de-stressing aids can really help make the transition easier for your dog. Especially for helping during the most stressful times, but are great to be used from the very start.

Pet Remedy is a Valerian based spray that stops dogs felling stressed. It’s great for spraying on bedding, or a collar, as well as anything that worries your dog such as the pram or cot. They also do a diffuser so you don’t have to remember to spray. It really helps stressful dogs settle, or normally calm dogs to stop them ever getting stressed out by all the change.
Adaptil is a synthetic version of the pheromone a mother dog produces when she has a litter of puppies, its used to calm both puppies and mum. Its great for dogs of all ages, to help them relax and settle with any changes in the home. It comes in either a collar or diffuser form, making it easy to help your dog.
Rescue Remedy is a Bach Herbal remedy designed to aid in periods of anxiety and worry, its easy to add to food or water. Can be used any time, and is great to pop on a treat and feed to the dog for unexpected visitors or upsetting noises.

Babies Arrival

Babies coming, make sure you have someone set up to walk and sort your dog once the big day arrives. Possibly have a few people on standby, or a kennels ready to take them on so you know their well looked after while your in labour.

Introducing your dog to the baby can be a scary moment, but the best thing is to remain calm. Greet your very excited dog without the baby first, let them get the sniffing and wiggles out of the way. Settle down with the baby calmly, then bring the dog in on a lead. Let them sniff and look at the baby, once done get them to settle down with a chew or go out on a walk. Be calm and settled, you’ve been training months for this and it will go to plan.

Once the baby has arrived, don’t be tempted to let someone else walk your dog all the time, or shut them out with a chew. They are part of the family, and need your time as well. So make time for them, get them out with the pram on a walk or ask someone to watch your baby for an hour. You need the one on one time, as much as they do.


You’ve got a 9 month window to do this training, but should you feel your dog is going to be left out, or cause concern for the baby then think hard about re-homing them.

Do this re-homing before the baby comes, not the week after you’ve had the baby and you suddenly realise its going to be hard work. No one is going to judge you on making the best decision for your dog, but re-homing them after the baby has come confuses them more and can lead to behaviour issues in the new home. Deciding early to re-home gives you time to find the perfect home, contact local and breed rescues, dog trainers and friends to see about a home.

Don’t just settle, find the best. you want to work hard to help yourself and your dog get used to the new arrival, then contact a dog behaviourist or trainer. Get in an expert to help, whether that is me or any other trainer. It can make the training easier, and help with the transition.

Most of all enjoy the next chapter of your life, your dogs life and the beginning of another life.

This is just a short guide to help dog owners, it’s not a definitive guide by any means. All the training details listed are based on experience and my opinion on what to do.

Head Collars for Dogs – Useful Tool or Masking Issue?

As a Dog Trainer and Behaviourist I’m not a huge fan of equipment that just masks behaviour, instead of actually altering it. When I first started training, I really did hate head collars, I found them always ill fitting and people just used them to get out training their dog to actually walk nicely on heel. It was a frustrating sight.

As I got down off my high horse, and actually looked into the people using the head collars.

I realised some people really needed them in order to just be able to walk their dog.

Never mind dealing with other behaviour issues. They were using them to allow their dog the basic right to a walk.

I still think training should become before using equipment, and you should be able to do so on a flat collar, or slip lead. Its easy to achieve with any dog, but not everyone is a dog trainer, and they have limitations.

When dealing with behaviour issues such as aggression, fear and frustration. If the dog hasn’t got enough impulse control to not pull on the lead, their is no way other issues can be progressed as the dog doesn’t want to listen, isn’t focused enough or has been let to do do. Quite often people just want a quick fix in terms of behaviour issues, and really don’t want to listen to me teaching their dog to walk to heel. So rather than harping on about heeling, something which we can come back to I suggest a head collar in order to help the owner see some progress, then come back to the heel issue.

A dog that is stressed isn’t going to learn, it’s as simple as that. That stress can appear when a cue is seen, such as another dog, cat or car. Or that stress can start as soon as the door opens, their is scuffle as they both try to get out of the door first, and it ends in a manic few minutes. Followed by a walk full of stress, anger and plain disheartened feelings. It’s not enjoyable, and a dog should always be enjoyable.

The manic exit at the start of the walk can be undoing all the hard work the owner has been doing in training, its very frustrating to see.

Something as simple as a bad start to a walk, can send owners training back weeks as they start to expect a bad reaction therefore causing it.

If the owners feel they have control of the dog on lead, they feel much more confident when dealing with behaviour issues. Something as simple as giving them back control of the dog can change a persons decision to not re-home a dog, and continue training to get the dog they want.

So my change of heart experience. I had been given a Gencon Head collar by a gentle man at Crufts.



The Gencon sat in my room for a few months, gathering dust and generally being ignored. It wasn’t til I was working with a client over several sessions that it came to head that we needed something more than just a flat collar. The dog’s dog issues disappeared on the training field, but once we moved out to the real world the owner was struggling to hold the dog while we dealt with the reactivity. The dog was well behaved on the training field, but at home he reverted back to his usual out of control self. The owner was getting dis-hearted session by session, and struggling to even walk him at any time.

After some thought and planning I decided to use the Gencon in order to regain some control and manners. We stuck it on at the start of the walk (Not how it should be introduced really), he threw a tantrum of course but once we were on our way things were instantly different. The owner was smiling and relaxed as they walked her great hulking dog, their was no pulling or fighting for who was leading the walk.

Instead it was walking together in tandem, as a team.

Having the owner more relaxed instantly impacted on the dogs behaviour, reinforcing calm behaviour around other dogs. It had such a huge difference to the walk, that the owner could see improvement and wanted to work harder to help her dog. (We sorted the dog in the end, and now he’s a happy social boy).

While I think head collars aren’t a solution to all training issues, they can greatly help with confidence for the owner, as well as add in that much needed respect from the dog.

They do mask the issue of walking to heel nicely, which is basic manners. With the right training, most dogs can be weaned off them, but many people never both or the dogs get so used to the head collars that they won’t learn without them on.

One reason I so like the Gencon is that is transitions to a slip lead so easily, so once the dog has learned to walk to heel. This means actually training using the head collar. Walking and teaching them to heel, adding in treats and verbal praise, correcting or ignoring any pulling. Adding in the desired command. Then taking the leap and transitioning to the slip lead, adding in the chosen command to reinforce the position. It takes work to achieve.

Their are other head collars on the market, and they all work in their own right. Personal experience with the equipment has made me choose the Gencon over other brands as my starting point. I still show clients the other designs and find the right one to suit their dog, should they need one.

Masking one issue to work on another is training, its working on the hardest issue first to build back to the smaller one in some cases.

It’s not ideal for every dog, but works for some.

I try to be as open as possible to all equipment and methods, keeping both a physical stock of equipment and mental list of methods. This allows me to help every dog owner, no matter what the issue we are faced with.

As always this is just my opinion on an aspect of behaviour, training and equipment. I’m not being paid by Gencon or anyone, it’s just personal opinion.

A Dog Trainer Is Only As Good as Their Dog

As a dog trainer and behaviourist, I encounter many many dogs with human and dog issues. Human issues I can change on my own, with training and good interactions. Dog issues require me to bring along my own dogs, in order to create good interactions in a controlled way, rather than subjecting people on the street to aggressive/fearful/out of control dogs.

I think a dog trainer can only be as good as the dog’s they use, and often relying on chance dogs in the street while training is dangerous, and ridiculous. 

While training, and adjusting dog on dog issues, the effort an owner puts in goes a long way, if they don’t listen or aren’t willing to work then they may as well have not called me in the first place. Selecting the right methods for the dog and owner, to allow them to progress as well has a lot to answer for.

It’s not one size fits all, as they are all individuals.

Sometimes trial and error is needed to find the right plan, but usually we have improvement in the first session.

We could go scouting the streets looking for dogs to upset the clients dog, and also in the process upset other people’s dogs. We don’t know their situation, upsetting their dog could be un-training a strangers dog, while we train yours. It’s just not fair. One the first session, its difficult for the dog owner to get everything together smoothly, it’s learning a brand new skill, with a dog possibly trying to drag you over. It’s really hard.

I liken it to learning a new language, but having no lessons in it and then being expected to speak it fluently.

It’s damn right daunting for most people, then to be faced with a dog barking and lunging to harm another dog. It’s not that hard to see why people have breakdowns because of their dogs.

So instead of making the owners disheartened, the dog upset and other people plain fed up. I apply some common sense to the situation and use my own dogs.

My dog’s are certainly not perfect.  I pride myself on training them to be level headed and calm around dogs, even those trying to kill them at the end of the lead. They are also my working dogs, doing security roles in most cases. They trust me to step in before any issues arise, and I always do. Their calm behaviour and excellent body language, help other dogs learn.

Good experiences go a long way in dogs.

Learning to walk past, walk next to and even be off lead with a calm dog. This sets up any dog for future interactions, and future learning.  This learning is something the owners, or me alone can’t provide. I can’t speak dog to a dog, but my dogs can.

Some people might query that it’s all very well and good for me, but other trainers have rescue dog’s with issues….. SO? The dogs I have are rescues, with several from unknown, or really bad known backgrounds. With one being so dog aggressive he couldn’t even be kennels next to my other dog as he tried to rip the bars apart… He is now my go to dog for teaching puppies good dog manners ( A whole different eduction). He has amazing body language and has learned to trust me to stop any situations escalating (My white boy in the photo).

I can use my dogs to set up situations for training, either at the clients house or at my own. We start off with good experiences, getting the owner into a training routine they can work with as well as the dog, get them responding to the training as well. Before setting them loose on the real world, where the dog’s will bark back or give off the evil eye.

The best thing about using my dog’s for training others, is the look on the owners face when they start to understand their dog is scared, or unsure, or just confused about their actions. Learning to be relaxed when on a walk, starting to enjoy their walk again. Instead of it remaining a chore.

Dogs can feel any tension we create down the lead, just like a telegraph wire. So the second you panic about a dog coming, your dog panics. So the cycle begins. This cycle is broken when the owner learns to relax and take control, teaching the dog and themselves that their dog is not going to react to every dog. Suddenly the whole dynamic changes, and people are enjoying their dogs.

I think dog training and behaviour is more than instructing someone, or teaching them what to look out for.

It’s showing them, that their dog can be a “normal dog”. This can often be done with simple one on one training, with a trainer but for more complex issues with other dogs, it needs a dog. Dogs learn from dogs, humans teach dogs.

So a dog trainer or behaviourist that isn’t using trained dogs to help out their training, is making their life harder and that of their clients. I don’t think they will fully help that dog out, unless the dog owner happens to come across a dog for good interactions on a walk.



Door Ways – Dogs Portals to Everything

Z and D in door way.png

Doors…. the portals to enemies, walks and to be barked at. 

For us, it just keeps the draft out, to the dogs it is so much more. To expect a dog not to freak out at them is wrong, but with training and common sense the mad reactions we don’t want can disappear. Making your life easier, and your dog less stressed.

Think about a dog’s life, what do they have in each day that bring them excitement and joy? Now think about where about 80% of these things happen, at the front door. You come home from work, through the door. You go for a walk with your dog, through the door. The post man invades the house with terrifying post, through the door.  A friend comes to visit, through the door. Can you see where I’m going?

For us to expect dogs to sit quietly at the door, and not make a song and dance out of it, it’s expecting far too much for dog’s to have that in built impulse control.

It needs to be taught to them. It’s hard for them. To put it into perspective, you are waiting for a delivery, you run to the door every day to see if it has arrived, getting more excited each day, as you know today will be the day. When the day arrives you are a frenzy of excitement. Dancing about in excitement, ripping the packaging off. You are so enthralled in opening this exciting package that your shouting about it. For the dog every opening of the door is in expectation of not only a package, but a guest, a walk, anything. But this has been building not for days or weeks, but for months, even years. Not only that it has now become a race for them to get their before you to see what’s going on.

Teaching your dog impulse control, this doesn’t start at the door but with basic training of the leave it command, sit, stay and go to bed.

Teach your dog to listen to you first with food or a toy, and without distraction from the exciting door. Teach your dog to have respect, but also that their is good consequences for good actions, which involve listening to you.

Once your dog has mastered listening to you with the leave it, no and general obedience you can begin to teach them not to react to the door, and move away from it.

Open that door a hundred times a day, open it for no reason, open it to look out, open it and go out. Each time making your dog go to its bed, or sit away from the door. The choice of which you do is up to you, depending on the location of the bed. Do not expect them to lie down on their bed in a different room, out of site. They are going to want to see what is going on, you can’t ban them from that. Teach them to move away from the door, all interactions now happen at least 4ft from the door, when you come in, when other people come in and during training. The dog can see the door, but isn’t in the doorway directly. Giving you time to intercept if needed.

Use a neighbour or friend, or enlist your post man to help. Set up situations where people come by, come in, don’t enter. What ever, but the dog must learn to stay where you leave them with distractions. It’s hard, its very hard but training in set up scenarios is the best way to learn. It means your controlling the situation, meaning you can change it to make it easier on you and your dog.

You need to do it every time, and I mean EVERY TIME until your dog gets it. Get a sign on your door, telling people you are dog training and to be patient. Practice makes perfect. 

Where making the door good, but in a controlled way. Every time that door bell rings, or their is a knock. Instead of fighting the dog for the door, be calm. I know its one of the most annoying things I say, but its the one thing people need to do. Calm, and your dog will begin to calm. If your not bothered about the door, then the dog is going to start following suit. It might not be in the first session, but it will happen over time. “Oh the door bell, whoop de do, better saunter over, oh look a package, thanks” no drama, instead of “SHIT THE DOOR, GRAB THE DOG!!” PANIC has set in, and nothing learns when panicked or stressed.

You can work with correction, stopping the barking or running at the door, with various training tools. But any correction must be coupled with reward as soon as they are quiet and calm. They must get reward for doing things right, you cannot just keep telling a dog off. It doesn’t work that way, they will just keep on barking over your correction as its still rewarding to do what they want.

Using your body language. It is your door, you own it and the dog is not to push and shove their way to the opening. Firm, stern body position goes a long way in dog speak, and they respond to it better than verbal communication in some situations. Stand tall, open the door with confidence and make the dog move back.

Management is a great accompaniment to training, if your go attacks the post get a box outside or guard. Protect those post people’s fingers. No longer will the devilish post enter the home with you not there, so the dog is getting less reactive to it.
Glass fronted doors, then for a time block the height of the dog so they can’t see out to react to people coming to the door before you can step in.
Shut dogs in rooms away from the problem door while your not there, they can’t react if they can’t get to the door. Your taking the problem out of the equation.

Bad habits die hard.

This is a habit, it is a routine, it is what happens when the door is open. To break it, it takes will power on your part. Your dog is at the mercy of your training, so only you can break the habit.

Dog’s personalities have a huge play in training, more obsessive personalities in come breeds such as Collies, Terriers and German Shepherds can be harder to deal with. But any dog can be obsessed with the door, and breed, sex or age. An individuals personality works towards the dogs trainability, and behaviour modification. So what works for one dog, won’t work for another. So training two dogs at the same time is hard, do things individually.

Boredom, this goes back to what your dog has to look forward to in a day. If the door opening is the only exciting  thing their day, their going to react for their own entertainment.

Make sure their getting enough physical exercise, the correct food that has the right energy for the dog as well as mental stimulation in the form of training new commands, and brain games. Give them other things to do, then the need to react to things will lessen, as they haven’t got the bottled up energy.

This example is for doors being the reactive cause, but it is a start for any training of new behaviour, as well as helping to change existing behaviours. You need to understand your dog to do this alone, as well as subtle dog behaviour. If you need help, ask for it. No one is going to judge you for asking a dog trainer to help you, we make your life easier by helping your start off right.

These changes won’t happen over night, and these methods are only a guide to training. Their are many others, and each dog is different. Each owner is different, so don’t expect to do it from what everyone else does. Change and adapt to you.

This is just a ramble and some advice on the reaction to doors, it’s not exhaustive and it’s not a training guide. Get in touch for more information, or if you need help, or even to just discuss the training.


Happiness – Dog Training Should be Enjoyable

“Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness.”

So in recent weeks, I’ve been piling a lot of stress on myself, and my dogs while training. Working with some hard behaviour cases.

Quite frankly, the magic of working with dogs lost it’s spark just recently. I’ve been pulling my hair out with some training routines, and stubborn owners.


This photo made me realise, that piling too much pressure on myself, my dogs and other peoples dog’s is just making it harder to train, not easier. This was taken in over a year ago, almost two. Back when I was still learning what I know now. This show’s my pure joy having taught my girl to find a suspect, then escort them off site. Simple for some, but for me a huge achievement since she’s only 10 months old. She is pure perfection here to me, and it made me think about how much pressure is starting to effect my happiness.

It led me to think about what we really want from dog training? Why train a dog? Why is there so much pressure?

What all dog owners want, is a happy life with their dogs. This means adding in training to get the behaviour we want, in order to be happy. For example, loose lead walking, toilet training, recall, and nice manners with people. Their all easy things to achieve, but if their not there things aren’t happy. Your walks aren’t enjoyable, that new puppy love wains fast when you step in yet another dog poo on your best rug.

You and your dog deserve to be happy, everyone does. Training, with or without a trainer can put a strain on your relationship. or lack of training too. Many people start to work with me and see great results fast, where as other dogs the issues run deep and need lots of hard work over a long period. These people can loose heart, and wonder if their dog will ever be like the Spaniel from across the street who walks to heel off lead.

Your happiness shouldn’t be based on what other owners can do with their dogs, but what you have achieved with yours. People come to me as a last resort, after Google or friends advice has failed often. They see my training as their last resort to be happy with their dog, training can be slow and stressful for both dog and owner.

Often it seem’s like your getting no where, but when they look back they see how far they have come.

The dog no longer jumps at guests, it no longer lunges at dogs on the street, no it’s not perfect as it still growls as they pass and chews the floor boards, but as things improve these other behaviours will too.

I’ve been here with my own dogs, I’ve cried about them. I’ve thought “What the hell am I doing” many a time, as my dogs are expected to be perfect because I’m a trainer. What I have forgotten, and what all dog owners forget is that dogs are their own being. They have their own thoughts and feelings, if they don’t like it, no matter how many treats you have their not going to go near it. They just don’t like it.

We all get frustrated and upset, it’s human nature. Our dogs should make us happy even with a few training quirks. Behaviour issues can be changed, they can be improved easily.

Your happiness can be too, just by realising things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Your dog isn’t the worst on the planet, and your not the most horrible owner. Call in help when needed, I do. When I get stuck on things because I’m too involved, I ask in someone for a third person perspective, I call in another dog trainer.

The spark is back, and passion to do things right and steady. Rather than pile on the stress to get things perfect. I know what I can do, I can tell you what each dog owner I meet can do upon my arrival, and what they can now do once I leave. It’s always progress towards the goal of happiness with their dogs.

It’s all easier said than done, and when in the moment, when you dog is barking at that other dog, and your flustered, the other owner is judging you. It’s hard to think of the happiness at the end of the tunnel. But it comes, and you won’t even notice. The day your dog walks past quietly, and greets another dog without barking is the happiest day you’ll have with them, it’s a demonstration of your training and work ethic.

A demonstration of your success into happiness, for not only you but also your dog. 

A happy owner has a happy dog, your dog feels your emotion. They love when your happy, and want to make your feel that way all the time. Dogs want to please you, we selected them to be that way, once you have owned a dog you never want to go back to life without  your dog as they make you so happy.

Training with you dog is a time to keep your bond strong, and spend time not worrying about the rest of the world. Just you and your dog, learning something as simple as sit, or something as complicated as dancing. What ever you choose to learn, it should be in a way that has an outcome that increases both your happiness.

If thing’s aren’t going to plan, and your feeling down about it. Question what your trying to achieve, why and how? Is their a better or different route. Take a step back, re-assess and start again. Maybe call in professional help, change trainers (Not all trainers suit each owner), ask friends or just take a breather chalk it up to a bad day.

Tomorrow is always another day. 

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