Preconception is the mother of disappointment

“Why won’t he do it? He’s a XXXXXXXXXXXX (insert breed), he SHOULD do it!” (And I paid a fortune for him…) Or the opposite: “oh well he’s a XXXXXXXXXXXX”. (So I can’t train him.) It is now believed that there are greater individual differences within breeds than between them. Or in other words, your labrador […]

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction

What Newton didn’t say (as far as I’m aware) is “or at least there should be”. (Otherwise known as why purely positive dog training isn’t effective.) I had a fun evening out with a very longstanding friend this week (we met on our first day at nanny training college some 25+ years ago). She is […]

The authentic life of a dog trainer

So. My post from a couple of weeks ago seems to have created a storm in a teacup. I’ve had multiple trainers berate me for revealing as deep a trade secret as <whisper> dog trainers have less-than-perfect dogs too! I kid you not. Apparently, a large percentage of the dog training community genuinely believe that they […]

Getting to the bottom of things (and why it’s important)

Part of my work involves doing a fair Sherlock Holmes impersonation. No, not the squeaky violin, or the other thing. I’m talking about detective work. In order to figure out why a dog is behaving in a certain way, it’s almost essential to understand the root cause. This is not always easy. The behaviour my […]

Get some help!

The teckel is proving to be a valuable learning experience. This is code for “what have I done?” The adolescent challenges just keep coming and progress has not only stopped, we are heading rapidly backwards. My marvellous plan of just sticking with it is seeming less and less practical as the days pass and the […]

Training your dog to be home alone – as easy making a sandwich

Being alone is not a natural state of affairs for a highly social animal such as a dog. But teaching your dog to stay home alone is no different to any other skill: do it gradually, with many practice sessions, until it becomes automatic. What you are doing in fact is teaching your dog that […]

Goodbye Mr Pip, goodbye

Where are you now, little wandering Life, that so faithfully dwelt with us, Played with us, fed with us, felt with us, Years we grew fonder and fonder in?   You, who but yesterday sprang to us, Are we for ever bereft of you? And is this all that is left of you – One […]

Trust your gut

One of the perils of being human is over-cognition. We think and think and talk and talk and often end up going against our initial instinct, in the name of reason, science or who-knows-what. It’s how we tell ourselves it’s ok to sit 1000s of miles up in the sky in a tin box. Or […]

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

With thanks to Shakespeare for the quote, otherwise known as “small dog syndrome”. The pup and I have been facing some challenges together this week. It’s fair to say, I think her first season is imminent and her hormones are likely all over the place. But I’ve also been thinking about the reputation of small […]

The 3 things you need to train your dog

What can they be? Different “professionals” would say different things. Trainers who style themselves as positive-only would certainly mention treats, a clicker, maybe some kind of splendid leash with magic powers (if only…)! Those at the punishment end of things (I like to think of them as dinosaurs: failing to adapt to environmental change will […]