Coronavirus - Service Update
National Lockdown from 5th January 2021
Please contact Sara to discuss what training support is available during the period of National Lockdown in England from 5th January 2021.
Whether you're interested in joining a group training class or would like some more focused one-to-one attention; and whether you prefer to train in-person or would rather learn from home; we have a range of training options available. You can explore the available options on the drop down menu under the Training Options menu tab at the top of this page, and if you see something you like (which we hope you will!), then you can go straight to the Booking Information page to register your interest by completing and submitting the Registration Form located towards the bottom of the web page.
Upcoming start dates, times and venues for both in-person and online group class courses can be found on the Class Dates & Prices page.
If you're not sure which type of training would be best for you and your puppy, dogolescent or adult dog, please contact Sara using any of the methods listed on the Contact page, for a friendly, informal and FREE consultation about your dog training or puppy training requirements!
WHY train your dog?
Puppies, adolescent dogs and adult dogs are learning all of the time. Whenever they engage in some sort of behaviour, something will happen as a result. This will happen whether or not you are there, and whether or not you are interacting with your dog. Whatever the consequence of your dog’s behaviour, it will either increase or decrease the likelihood that your dog will repeat that behaviour again.
By actively training your dog using reward-based techniques, you can massively increase the chances that your dog will not only listen to you in a wide range of situations, but actually choose to engage in behaviours that you want without you even having to ask. In fact this is the definition of successful training – you capture or shape the behaviour you want from your dog in response to a cue from you or from the environmental context, your dog learns what to do in these situations, then when these circumstances arise in the future they know what to do with little or no direction from you.
If your dog demonstrates undesirable behaviours, in the vast majority of cases, they will NOT ‘grow out of it’. The demonstration of most behaviours has very little, if anything, to do with how old your dog is. By waiting to start to training, you are in fact making it LESS likely that the behaviour will stop, because if the situation stays the same, your dog will continue to be reinforced for the behaviour that you don’t like. You need to take an active role.
HOW should you train your dog?
I believe, without exception, that any training which uses psychological or physical intimidation, such as shouting at a dog, jerking them on the lead or using aversive 'gadgets' such as shock collars and rattle cans, is not only abusive to the dog, but is also completely unnecessary, and fundamentally damages the quality of the relationship between the dog and their owner.
I am a positive reinforcement trainer and promote reward-based training. This type of training involves rewarding your dog with something THEY like, when they demonstrate a behaviour that YOU like, and by doing so you are positively reinforcing that behaviour. This means that your dog is more likely to repeat that behaviour again, which is great for both of you!
Although food is most often used as a reward (since food is important to most dogs) rewards can also include toys, access to social interactions and access to the environment (such as sniffing around in the hedgerow).
If your dog demonstrates a behaviour that you don’t like, rather than punishing your dog, you can positively interrupt their behaviour, in a calm, non-aversive way, to ensure that their behaviour does not get reinforced (either by you or by someone or something else), ask them for a behaviour that you would like, and reinforce that instead.
Positive management strategies can also be used alongside training to prevent your dog from engaging in behaviours that you dislike, and are especially useful when you are not there to guide your dog.
WHEN should you start training your dog?
It is never too soon to start training a new puppy, in fact, given that young puppy brains are so receptive to learning, you’ll want to start as early as possible, ideally as soon as your puppy gets home. By training early, you have a wonderful opportunity to help your puppy learn how to navigate our complex human world in a relaxed and confident manner. By waiting to start training, you increase the chances that your puppy will be reinforced for performing unwanted behaviours, which often lead to situations where puppies becomes stressed, lack confidence and have difficulty adapting.
Socialisation and Habituation
For puppies up to the age of 16 weeks old, it is crucial that they spend plenty of time in safe environments where they can experience positive social interactions with both people and other dogs, and where they are gently exposed and become habituated to a wide range of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures and experiences, such as spending time at home on their own. As puppies get older, they start to approach anything unfamiliar with more caution, viewing unfamiliar ‘things’ and situations as potential threats to their safety and well-being. This means that a puppy is more likely to react fearfully, and potentially aggressively, when exposed to situations, people, dogs, other animals and any non-living stimuli with which they did not gain experience when they were younger.
Early socialisation and habituation is so important to your puppy’s development that it absolutely must not be delayed. Waiting until puppy has settled in at home, or has had all their vaccinations before you start, means losing irretrievably valuable time, which could make the difference between your puppy developing into a relaxed, confident, friendly and adaptable adult, or one who for the rest of their life is anxious, uncertain, fearful and has difficulty coping with change. Obviously your puppy mustn't go on the ground outdoors or interact with unvaccinated dogs until their primary vaccination course is complete, but they can travel in the car, you can carry them or put them in a buggy when you are walking out and about, and there are lots of helpful activities you can start at home.
We offer both group class and private training options to support you and your puppy at all stages of their life with you, including prior to their arrival, and both before and after they have completed their primary vaccine course. You can explore the available options on the drop down menu under the Training Options menu tab at the top of this page, and at any time you are always welcome to contact Sara, using any of the options listed on the Contact page, to discuss which option/s may suit you and your puppy best.
Although there is some variation between breeds and individuals, puppies usually turn into adolescents at around five to six months of age, and this ‘teenage’ phase usually lasts until they are around 18 months to two years old (it can be later in giant breed dogs).
Dogolescent behaviour is as varied amongst individual dogs, as teenage behaviour is amongst individual humans. Some dogs stay cool, calm and collected, some become more anxious, and others become more boisterous and energetic (or a combination of any or all of these across the course of their adolescent period!).
It is common for owners of adolescent dogs to report with frustration that their previously biddable puppies have started to demonstrate selective hearing, or behave as if they’ve never learnt certain things at all. It’s time to take a deep breath. Your teenage dog is not deliberately being stubborn or trying to upset you. There’s just a lot of changes going on in your dog’s brain and body during this phase of their development, which can override training which you have previously undertaken with them. Training issues can often be rectified by calmly and patiently going back to basics, thereby refreshing your adolescent dog’s brain on previous areas of learning, while you concurrently manage situations a little more conscientiously again to help set your dog up for success.
Training throughout adolescence is an ideal way to help your dog’s learning ‘stick’, as well as giving your teenage hound a stimulating and enriching focus for their curious minds and energetic bodies, without over-exercising them physically whilst their musculoskeletal system is still growing to full adult form and strength.
We offer both group class and private training options to support you with training your adolescent dog. You can explore the available options on the drop down menu under the Training Options menu tab at the top of this page, and you are always welcome to contact Sara, using any of the options listed on the Contact page, to discuss which option/s may suit you and your dog best.
It is never too late to start training your adult dog. Sure, it might take longer to change patterns of behaviour if your dog has been practising them for a long time, but it’s not impossible! Plus your dog’s never too old to learn new tricks.
Training at any age is a great way to bond with your dog. It helps you to understand and provide what your dog needs and enjoys, which in turn helps your dog to become more responsive to you. It’s a win-win!
We offer both group class and private training options to support you with training your adult dog. You can explore the available options on the drop down menu under the Training Options menu tab at the top of this page, and you are always welcome to contact Sara, using any of the options listed on the Contact page, to discuss which option/s may suit you and your dog best.
WHAT do you need to start training your dog?
THE most important thing you need to bring to training sessions, whether you are joining a class, having a one-to-one session with a trainer or working independently with your dog, is a calm, positive and patient attitude. You must be mindful of how your emotions and behaviour can influence your dog when you are interacting with them. If you are stressed, negative or getting frustrated with your dog, they are likely to respond with uncertainty, agitation and inattentiveness.
Mind-set in place, here’s a few more things we recommend:
A body harness for your dog (but not a ‘no-pull’ harness that tightens around your dog’s body when they pull on lead) - this will make any on-lead training a lot more comfortable and safe for your dog)
A flat fabric or leather buckle-up or clunk-click collar (never a choke or semi choke chain)
A fabric or leather fixed-length lead around 1.2 metres long
A 10 metre recall line (not a flexi / extension-lead)
A purpose-made dog treat bag to hold your training treats in (one that wraps around your waist or clips to your waistband or belt loop)
A choice of lower and higher value treats each about the size of a small pea (a foodie dog or one placed in a not too distracting environment might find lower value food such as dry biscuits reinforcing, but if your dog isn’t particularly food-motivated or you’re working your dog in a more distracting environment, you may well need something moist and smelly like chicken, sausage or cheese)
A clicker (if you are being taught, or know how, to use one correctly)
A whistle (if you would like to use one for distance control cues)
What clients say
“I went to Sara’s class with our very first puppy. She made you feel at ease straight away. She knew your name and had treats ready for the puppy. The lessons were really informative and helpful for example regarding, what to feed your puppy, amount of exercise, safety, tricks, socialising with other puppies, “what to do and what not to do”, and if you had a specific question or concerns about your puppy she was always happy to help.
Can't wait for Sara to do more classes.”
Anni and Tigger the Cavapoo