I often hear of owners who have dogs who bark when left being advised not to go back into the room until the dog has stopped barking. This is good advice, as we don’t want the dog to think that barking makes the door open. However, it’s slightly more complicated than that.
Dogs who bark for attention will usually bark in a repeated pattern. For instance 2 barks, short pause, 3 barks, short pause, 2 barks, short pause, 3 barks, short pause, 2 barks, short pause, 3 barks, long pause. The long pause is to see if there has been any reaction to their barking. If you open the door during any of the pauses (because you’ve waited for the dog to stop barking) in the dog’s mind the door has opened because of their barking and you will have reinforced that idea. Your dog will now bark more when they want a door to open. Attention seeking barking isn’t very demanding of energy, so dogs can keep it up for a very long time.
To ‘fix’ the problem with a dog who has made a habit of attention seeking barking over a long period of time, you need to make sure the door does not open for at least 2 minutes after the barking has stopped (be strong!) to be sure the dog has given up on the barking. With a younger dog if they become distracted by something else that’s a good time to open the door, or better yet, if any age dog lies down, and perfection, they sigh. That’s the perfect time to open the door.
Indy (5 months old) had a little accident on the doormat, so I popped him outside while I cleaned up. I videoed him for a very short while because it’s a really good example of attention seeking barking. 2 short barks, pause. 2 short barks, pause (and repeat). He gets a bit more insistent after a while and does 3 short barks and pause. I waited until he was distracted by a noise at the back of the garden and turned right away from the door before I opened it.
Did you enjoy Crufts this year? OK, you might not have won “Best in Show”, but your dog can still be a winner.
There will be opportunities for you to try out new experiences for your dog, such as hide and seek, search and find, sandpits, ball pools and water dipping, pus lots more! We will also have training and have-a-go sessions, so you can try something new to see if you like it. We’ll also have stands (please contact Kathryn email@example.com if you are interested in having a stand at our show) with dog goodies for you to browse, a free prize draw and competitions to enter.
Just been having a tally up of the exciting stalls, games and prizes we’re having at our show on 28th April! Canine Lucky dip, facepainting, canine osteopaths, canine massage, FREE ENTRY prize draw, scent games suitable for dogs of all ages, sizes, abilities and their owners (hide and seek, pool dipping, sandpit hunting etc), two dog charity stands selling various doggy goods and bits and bobs, photographers – both ‘roving’ and a stand for the dogs who like to pose, and food. Plus of the course the Fun Dog Show which also has some fabulous prizes!
Weather will be in double figures we are assured by the weathermen. Onsite parking, loos and a canteen on site too (short walk to each). Please do not leave dogs in cars for any reason. Really looking forward to seeing everyone there, please share with all your friends!
Just like Crufts, you will be able to show off your dog and pick up an award in categories such as:
- Most Handsome Dog
- Prettiest Bitch
- Odd Couple
- Best Crossbreed
- Golden Oldie
- Best Puppy
- Best in Show
Please contact Linda@brentwooddogwalker.co.uk for a class schedule.
There will be prizes through to fouth place in each section, so there is every chance your dog will walk away with a rosette, PLUS a trophy for Best in Show. Come and enjoy some fun and games for your dog and meet new friends.
The show is to raise money on behalf of Friends of Wallace Kennels, for the relief of suffering and distress of animals (in particular dogs) which are in need of care and attention by reason of ill-treatment, abandonment, injury or sickness.
Don’t forget the date – Sunday 28th April. Put it in your diary now.
and while you’ve got your dairy handy, come and meet us at All About Dogs.
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May
Brentwood Centre, Brentwood, Essex CM15 9NN
(Inside the Robin Hood Country Show)
Stands and games you can find at our show:
- TC Dog Training - ’An introduction to Pet Dog Scentwork’ Tc Dog Training will give you the methods to exercise your dog’s most powerful sense. Unlike a quick walk around the block, these short exercises can leave your dog content and calm. Any dog, any level of obedience can enjoy this.
- Thai Animal Sanctuary -Dog relates goods for sale
- Friends of Wallace Kennels – jumble sale
- Nicky’s Fab Faces – Face and Body Painting, Glitter Body Art and Temporary Tattoos
- Keith Sparling and Associates Ltd – Osteopaths
- Hennie Wellman Photography – Canine Photography
- Essex Canine Massage - Canine Massage
- Krissie Issac – Handmade Dog Collars and Leads
- Husse Havering and Brentwood – Pet Food
Also many thanks to our sponsors! Jo from Rope Runners who has donated a family ticket to their pole based Adventure Course in the tree tops, Peter from Husse Pet foods, covering Havering and Brentwood who has donated a prize for the winner of Best Puppy, PLUS samples for all entrants to that class, Wagytail, a small family run business set up to provide soft comfortable harnesses for dogs, has donated two harnesses as prizes, and Essex Canine Massage – a FREE initial consultation and canine massage.
We also have a few more prizes on their way to us, which we will update asap. If you want to know what you have to do to win, you’ll have to come along!
I am not sure if anyone has been following the story that dogs have been banned from the courtyard at Hylands Park, with a ‘dog friendly’ area being put up elsewhere in the park so owners can get a drink after their walk.
Recently I came across this link (many thanks to Karen Chilvers who provided some of the links) which describes the incident that allegedly precipitated the ban. While I can’t know how accurate the story is, or if is was that one incident that caused it, it does give me pause for thought. Councillor Nicollette Chambers acknowledges an incident did result in police being called.
The decision was made because there have been a number of incidents, for example one where the police had to be called.
I understand that three waitresses were bitten, some dogs howl, the list is endless.
(Email conversation can be found here). Briefly, the alleged incident involved a dog (breed and size unknown, but even a small dog could drag a chair if in a panic) tied to a chair, left unattended, which ran off with the chair still attached and collided with another park user.
The Dangerous Dogs Act is very clear. It is an offence for a dog to cause harm to a person (and they want to make the DDA even stronger!), or even to put a person in fear they will be harmed. So your dog doesn’t even have to be aggressive for it to fall foul of this awful law. A friendly dog could jump up at someone, which could be an offense under the DDA. Knock them over, or put mud on their clothes, all illegal. Run up and bark at someone on a bike, who loses their balance and falls off, illegal. Or even just run up to ‘say hello’. If that person doesn’t like dogs (and only around 15% of the public like dogs enough to want to share their lives with a dog) the ‘wounded’ party is within their rights to phone the police. Ideally the owner of the dog would offer to or co-operate with any requests to make right any finanical losses (such as dry-cleaning, maybe the bike was damaged when it fell over etc). However trivial the incident may appear to outsiders, dogs can cause upset and worry to those who don’t like dogs. In fact I have heard dog owners say they only like their own dog and are still scared of all others.
Children in particular should always be protected from strange dogs. The child scared by the dog that steals an icecream out of its hand is the lawmaker of the future who may go on to support bans in public places, or ask for dogs to be on leads in areas where children also have access.
Never leave your dog tied up and left alone. I cannot think of any reason why this is ever a good idea – your dog could be stolen, teased by children, attacked by another dog, interfered with by strangers, or panic and make a lot of noise. If you are a lone dog walker, then try to find areas where you can buy food or drinks with your dog – some cafes will have a hatch or even a window they could pass drinks from. Many of us lone dog walkers get very chatty with other dog walkers in the park, so maybe ask one to hold your dog if you need to go to the loo. Take your own drinks so you can sit with your dog and still enjoy refreshements after your walk.
Our training classes are designed to teach your dog how to live in a society where their owners are in a minority. We teach dogs to accept being tethered to chairs, but the owner is expected to stay with them. We teach owners about the laws relating to dogs and how they might apply to them, as well as important training such as if you stop to talk to someone, your dog will wait with you quietly, and not jump all over them, they will walk nicely on a lead, and come back when called when off the lead.We try to make dogs a polite member of society, so things like this don’t happen.
We owe it to our dogs to train them correctly so they remain welcome in our public and open spaces.
There is a petition to reverse the ban - and a facebook group. More information on the Dangerous Dogs Act from the Blue Cross.
Something to remember about puppies is that they need sleep – lots of it, just like babies. Your puppy will need about 18-19 hours sleep in every 24 when you first bring them home So only expect 4 to 5 hours of being awake and only about an hour at a time. If they’re kept awake and playing, you could both be heading for a stressful time.
Just like excitable toddlers, puppies are learning, and just as a lack of sleep has a bad affect on a child’s behaviour, your puppy will be badly behaved if he doesn’t get enough sleep. If a puppy is overtired, he will not learn as well as he could. This will affect his ability to make correct choices – for example chasing excited children, jumping up and mouthing. Behaviour will only get worse in an over-tired puppy, which will then take time to unlearn. Taking a 14-week old puppy for lots of really long walks and keeping them awake all day to ‘tire them out’ is having the opposite effect, for the following reasons:
What happens if a young puppy (under around five months old) has too much play and exercise but not enough sleep? His body will produce adrenalin to cope with the demands and stresses, which means the dog can’t then settle down when at home. If adrenalin builds up over a number of days, the stress hormones take much longer to get rid of, and you end up with a frantic puppy biting anything that moves. Neither the puppy nor your family will be able to relax. You will often see this in the ‘wall of death’ around the house, usually later afternoon or evening. Puppy is really feeling the lack of sleep at this stage. The same can sometimes happen when you return from a walk – puppy gets the zoomies and you think they didn’t get enough exercise. This is usually a reaction to too much exercise – if you see it out on a walk, time how long puppy has been out, and make the next walk shorter. Everything with a puppy should be short and sweet, but frequent.
Getting used to being alone
Often when first arriving in your home, your puppy will get used to having people around the house. Naturally, it will believe this is the normal way of life. But when holidays are over, and everyone is back at work or school, your puppy will be home alone for the first time in its life. No wonder he gets confused. And lonely, and possibly noisy. You need to teach him it’s OK to be alone. So what can you do to begin the training straight away?
Remembering a young pup can cope with being awake for only about an hour at a time, let him have some fun for a while – play games; do some training; let him out to investigate the garden (accompany him if very young, or small, and a pup may need a coat if it’s very cold). Take him out for a walk if he’s old enough. All this should be done in short bursts depending on age. Then give him his meal. Once he’s had a chance to burn off some energy and his tummy is full, he will be ready for a good sleep. Put him into his bed in a quiet room, shut the door and leave him alone to sleep. Make sure nobody disturbs him for a while. He will get much needed sleep and learn a valuable lesson that it’s okay to be alone. This might be hard if you have young children, so teach them early on puppy needs to be left alone to sleep.
Our recommended bedtime routine for new puppies is to take them for a short walk at 6pm (if they can go outside) or play some games for around 10 to 15 minutes, then give the last meal, followed by a trip to the garden for the toilet. Put your puppy into its bed and leave him alone to sleep. When you go to bed, gently wake him, keeping things very low key – no fun, no playing – for one last toilet visit, then back to bed. Pup may make a bit of fuss for 15 minutes or so, but if left alone will go back to sleep.
For pups that aren’t house trained yet see our house training article for details of how to set up an overnight sleeping space with toilet area, or be prepared to get up once or twice for another toilet break. Keep things quiet and once toileted, back to sleep.
In the morning, your puppy will be ready for breakfast at 6 – 7am as 12 hours sleep is about right overnight. During the day they then need another 6 to 8 hours as naps, at least one long one, alone in their bed. If you need help with your puppy once the holidays are over, we offer a full puppy sitting service for Brentwood residents (CM13, CM14 & CM15).
Wishing you and your puppy a great life together.
One day course specifically designed for new dog walkers, those thinking of setting up, or anyone who wants to work with dogs. It can be adjusted for dog rescue volunteers and staff if required, or dog trainers who have done lots of theory courses but need to get some practical handling experience and skills. Course covers:
- Dogs -body language & communication, multiple dog handling, safe transportation
- Owners – customer services, initial consultations, expectations
Common issues and problems
- Business – key handling, background checks, insurance, advertising
and lots lots more. Includes PRACTICAL experience with dogs, you will meet a minimum of 4, up to 30 depending on day attending.
Course is based on a personal basis, one student at a time, however we may be able to accommodate small groups at a reduced rate, or will try to match you with another student to reduce costs.
A Certificate of Attendance awarded at the end of the day. Clients look for experience when taking on a dog walker which is difficult to provide when just starting up – there are lots of ‘theory’ courses you can go on, practical training for dog walkers is very hard to find – this is a unique opportunity not to be missed!
I have been looking after dogs professionally for over 6 years and have cared for well over 200 dogs in that time, of all different shapes, sizes, breeds and temperament, and have been training dog walkers since 2010. I also run dog training classes so am experienced in training people as well as handling dogs.
Linda answered all our questions and provided us with more information then we could possibly have hoped for, and we got to experience what life was like in her shoes, as someone who has made a successful career in the pet industry. Both Becky and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Linda and we are so happy to have received such hands on experience whilst learning all that we needed from her. I highly recommend Linda as a pet professional, as she truly understands the way a dog’s mind works and is able to assert the control necessary to get what you want out of them.”
Kieran Murphy, Perpet Work Pet Sitters, Kent
Ideally you would attend on a weekday when we have clients dogs to walk so you can gain the most from your day, but we also have dogs boarding with us, and our own dogs so even weekends there are plenty of dogs to meet. If you provide a simple camera I can take plenty of photos of you with the dogs for your website or social media sites. You can also chat to my staff during the week, so can get even more of an idea what it’s like to do the job, not just my perspective.
Usually the dog walks and visits are all done by around 3pm, then we’ll go back to my training centre to go over some of the ‘business’ ideas, and anything that hasn’t come up during the day – included in the information pack is a list of topics we usually cover, but will ask you to provide a list of important questions you would like answered prior to arrival. If you are travelling a long way we can include a second day with the dogs for only a small extra fee.
You will also be given access to all my booking forms, terms and conditions, information pack etc, which you can adapt for your own use, as well as some suggestions of follow up courses it would be beneficial to attend during your career with dogs.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend some time with Linda Ward at Boredom Busters. I got much more than I ever expected. Linda took me under her wing and showed me how her business is run. Her knowledge is endless and I was amazed by the control she has of the pets she is looking after. She always treats them with respect and kindness.
Linda is so professional and I have seen how she has gone the extra mile to make sure all her clients and pets are happy and satisfied. I will always be grateful for the opportunity; Linda has been an inspiration as a professional and as a person. Thank you!
Francisco Freeman, Amigo Pet Services, Exeter
If you have been claiming JSA for 6 months you may be able to get help setting up your own business (back to work support, new enterprise allowance). Speak to your local job centre for more information.
Working with dogs is hugely rewarding, making a career out of dog walking could be the best decision you have ever made, contact me now for a full information pack.
I am really glad I went to see Linda when I was considering setting up a dog walking company, as spending a day with her gave me the confidence to see I could do it. Also, it was lovely to spend time with someone so “doggy”, and to have all my questions answered.
I have now got myself set up, and am just waiting to get some more dogs on my books (do have some chickens to look after next month!)
Emily Barclay, Doggle Walks, Norfolk
It’s been a hectic year in more ways than one! Rather than burble on in my usual fashion, here are some highlights and fascinating (or not!) facts from the year.
We walk an average of 16 dogs every day. Currently our youngest dog is Dolly the Miniature Pinscher, 11 weeks old, and our oldest is Labrador Kipper, who is 12 years old. We see 25 dogs for walking every week (our regulars) and sometimes have ‘occasionals’ too. The most dogs we walked in one week was 30, most dogs in one day was 28. That was a VERY busy day! Although that might sound like any dog walked with us is just a face in a crowd, we walk 4 dogs per person, and often less. We just do a lot of walking! Exceptions are when we are training new staff when we’ll take 6 between us, or if we’re at my private training field we’ll take them all out for some games (always in a ratio of 4 dogs per walker). Puppies are always walked alone until 6 months old, except the ‘social walks’ where my dogs go out with them as part of their education.
We had 95 bookings for home boarding in 2012 (approx. 40-45 dogs in total), the longest board was for 31 days, the shortest, 19 hours (overnight). Our most frequent visitor came to stay 19 times during this year, and we had 9 puppies under 6 months old come to stay.
We have 63 ‘active’ dogs, ie we have seen them this year and expect to see them next year, but had over 100 dogs pass through our hands in 2012. Others have started with us as puppies, but being out of our area we have passed them to a more local dog walker when they’ve grown up, we’ve had some move out of the area, others we’ve only been needed for a one off booking, and sadly we lost two to Rainbow Bridge this year.
Our longest standing dog has been with us for 3 years and 9 months; we’ve been running for 4 years and 3 months, so I don’t think that’s bad going! He was our 9th dog after I started the business in Sept 2008 – of the dogs before him, 5 moved, 2 were rehomed (one to me, my Scamp), and the last one we were no longer needed.
I got my 4th dog, a puppy called Tinker, who has fitted right into our lifestyle, and I’m determined he will be the last new dog for a few years!
We end the year with 5 staff members (plus me), 6 if we count school summer holiday staff.
What does 2013 hold for Boredom Busters? I’m hoping to take on an apprentice so we can expand daycare a little more, take on an assistant for my dog training classes, and (perhaps obviously) retain the wonderful staff I have. I would like to start up a lunchtime dog walking ’round’ in Shenfield (ie, we need 2 more full time dogs from that area), and find more wonderful host boarding families so we will never have to say ‘we’re fully booked, sorry’ to our regulars.
We have what will be a wonderful Fun Dog Show planned for 28th April, and I hope to repeat the A Grand Day Out sponsored dog walk in September. We also have a stand booked at All About Dogs at the Brentwood Centre in May, and the possibility of a smaller dog show at an event in August. I am also developing my ‘So you want to be a dog walker’ training course, so anyone wanting to start up in the same business has somewhere to go to get practical experience, on the job training, and some of the business ideas behind the scenes.
I’d love to hear your plans for 2013, and if you have any suggestions of things you’d like us to offer!
Thanks for coming back to hear more of Fred’s story! The quotes throughout the article are real quotes I put on Fred’s blog at the time of the events.
We were still regularly going to training classes with Fred all through 2007 and most of 2008. He did pick things up quickly, but if there were fast moving dogs in the classes next door, or even in our class, he’d be so busy watching them I couldn’t get his attention at all. If they came too close, he’d lunge to the end of the lead barking, and if I tried to prevent him, he’d turn and bite me.
“He wants to be on the go all the time, and constantly lunges and dives to get to the other dogs because they all look so damn interesting. He’s had to be muzzled at classes because his past means that at times of stress he uses his teeth on the nearest obstacle – ie my hands.”
I’ve learned since an alternative way to train is with distance and time. A dog in high state of over-excitement can’t learn, and being a terrier, it doesn’t take much to over excite them! This is now something I use when I am training my client’s dogs – if a dog is too close to something that excites them and can’t concentrate, we increase the distance until they are aware of the object of their excitement, but the level of excitement has dropped enough so they can still pay attention to myself and their owner – meaning they can begin to learn.
Things weren’t all upset and aggravation. Sometimes Fred was so good I called him ‘the anti-Fred’. “He made me look mighty impressive, as he walked to heel perfectly (off-lead), didn’t run off once, didn’t lunge after other dogs as they were running for the recall, did a down stay while I walked around the entire enclosure, left other dogs alone and didn’t move from his sit/stay even when they were sniffing his backside.”
In September 2007 Fred came first in our class’s Progress Test, gaining promotion to the advanced class! That was another time I was in tears, but for the right reasons for once! In December of that year Fred was nominated for three awards for the club’s Prizegiving Night, and won Most Promising Rescue Dog. The trophy was bigger than he is, and should still have his name on it. They were right, Fred now has a string of award winning rosettes and certificates to his name.
The logo I use for the dog walking & training company I set up in September 2008 is Fred – he had been lucky enough to have a photoshoot for Dogs Today magazine and they gave me permission to use their photos for a logo. I was offered a job helping with the organisation of their Cold Wet Nose Show in 2008, although it was in Surrey and a long commute, I was ready to go back to work and couldn’t resist working for a dog magazine and talking dogs all day long!
Fred still wouldn’t settle anywhere, even a year after I had formally adopted him – he was a bit of a nightmare staying at my Mum’s house the 3 days a week I worked, so while I was at Dogs Today we tried taking him into the office on a few occasions. He wouldn’t settle there either! Pace, pace, pace, jumping up at anyone who walked near my desk, if he wandered off out of sight I couldn’t concentrate, and if I put him in his crate with a chew so I could get on, he got very possessive and growled. One time he sounded so scary a colleague and I carried him out of the office, still inside his crate, and put the whole thing in the car! But giving him up was not an option – we’d been through too much together.
I was offered a permanent job with Dogs Today before I left, as another staff member handed in her notice, but commuting to Surrey and back every day wasn’t something I really wanted to do, it didn’t suit Fred, and by then I’d been given the idea to become a dog walker.
Being able to stay home with him, and walk him in familiar areas, with some extra dogs along for the trip, seemed to be the perfect solution. It turned out to be more perfect than I could imagine, Fred and Beauty (my Greyhound) thrived on such regular walks, as well as being home with me the rest of the day, and now the little job I started so I could keep Fred is employing an extra two full time members of staff, and keeping three students busy during peak times, as well as supporting myself and my son, and our four dogs.
We are now also running regular training classes and courses of our own, working so hard with Fred really gave me the training bug and I’ve spent four years learning to be a dog trainer. Now, no matter what my clients tell me their dogs get up to, they know I mean it when I say “I understand. I’ve been there too, there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
- A Friend Helped Show me I had to Keep Frisky Fred
- Puppy & Beginners Dog Training Classes
- Live With Gabby – 3 seconds of fame
- Behind the Scenes
We try our best to clean each dog off before they come home, we have a large stock of towels and vet bed (designed to let moisture wick through away from the dogs), and also a mobile pressure washer is in the van. Many of the dogs object to being towelled clean – sometimes with teeth (if we are bitten we will stop cleaning!), usually with wriggling and trying to run away, and will often sit on one back leg and refuse to move, so they get 3 clean legs and one still mucky. None of them like being hosed down with the washer, and some dog breeds have been bred for looks or temperament, not for weather resistant fur, keeping some breeds clipped can change the nature of the fur, leading to a dog that mud simply clings to. So we do still unfortunately, despite our very best efforts, sometimes have to return a dog home – along with some mud.
I really appreciate that no-one wants to come home to a muddy dog or house, but owning a dog and having offlead walks in the park in rainy weather does mean they will run through puddles, streams and ditches. We avoid ponds and known rivers, but heavy rain often leads to new streams and ponds appearing almost overnight! If you leave towels out, we’ll have one last wipe before we leave. We’ll happily leave dogs in easily cleaned areas instead of living rooms or bedrooms, close doors and gatesinside the house, or go in the back door if it helps.
Now please think about our relationship with mud. We get jumped up at by happy, muddy dogs, we get kissed by dogs with muddy beards, and we get splattered by dogs running past on soggy ground – leading to us being covered in mud often up to our eyeballs, along with all our clothes, gloves and hats. Our hands get filthy, even washing with the pressure washer but being unable to use soap leaves us mucky, which is then transfered to the cab of the van when we touch it. Mud dries and falls off us and the dogs, leaving dust and muck from top to bottom and end to end in the van – the back end gets especially filthy as wet paws jump in and out. The water bowls get mud dropped in them from dirty dog faces, needing to be frequently emptied and refilled.
Once home, my washing machine is on every single day, washing towels and vet bed – heavy items, so has to be a half load every time. If the weather is persistant rain, the washing then spends at least two days hanging round my house drying on airers and radiators. This raises the moisture level in my house – encouraging house dust mites – as I have asthma this is not ideal, it also smells, and takes up a lot of space. Before I can wash any of my family’s clothes, I have to scrub out the washing machine as it’s full of mud, dust and dog hairs, and often put it on empty at 90 degrees before I can use it. I have to unblock mud and dog hairs from my drain every 2 or 3 days. My washing machine guarentee is void because I am using it for ‘non-domestic’ use, and I have to replace the rubber door seal every year because of the mud and dog hairs. The whole machine usually needs replacing after 3 years – before I was a dog walker I got 10 years each out of two machines.
Despite all the extra time needed, the extra wear and tear on my washing machine, and those of our walkers, the cost of all those towels, bedding (£65 for the last roll I bought) water bowls, cleaning equipment, electricity and water, plus extra time to scrub out the van, bowls, washing machine, living with damp towels for half the year and the unpleasant task of having to frequently have my hands down the drain – we don’t put the price up in bad weather. So please, if you get home, and we have missed cleaning some mud off your dog, remember it is your dog who enjoys being out on a walk with other dogs, being exercised, getting mental stimulation and company, and, if a breed like a Spaniel or a Labrador, they have it in their genes to enjoy getting themselves wet and muddy, please remember that’s one very small part of our own relationship with mud, and be forgiving.
I run a dog training and walking company in Brentwood, which I was inspired to start in 2008 by my dog Fred. Fred is a Patterjack (Jack Russell x Patterdale terrier) who came to stay in 2006 as my first foster dog – I was on a career break from my job with the BBC for family reasons and expected to be off work for around 6 months. I wanted to do something useful with my time, and my mum suggested dog fostering – looking after homeless dogs so they didn’t have to go into kennels.
Lu Scott from Animal Action Rescue in Billericay walked into my kitchen with 11 month old Fred in her arms, 23th October 2011. At the time I had my beloved dog Buster, 13, and my Greyhound Beauty, 5. Both my dogs were well behaved, quiet around the house. Good dogs, well trained dogs, the kind of dogs who are happy to lie quietly round the house waiting for something fab, like a walk, to happen.
Fred was like a slap in the face. He was stressed and anxious, he wouldn’t settle, he’d cry and whine and bark at every little noise. He’d pace endlessly in circles. He jumped up at everyone and everything, grabbing hold with his mouth, he’d play rough, biting hands and arms, and would sneak up behind my old boy Buster and either try to mount him, or bite him in the bum! After a week I couldn’t wait for him to find a new home as he was driving me mad! I had to create a den for him, a crate with a cosy bed, and a blanket thrown over it. He’d settle if he was completely blacked out. If I went to visit my mum with my dogs, he wouldn’t settle down, he’d keep going until he was so tired he’d fall asleep sitting up because he wouldn’t give in. When we went back home, he’d be awful to live with for another 3 days while the adrenalin drained from his system. Fred’s first family had found a puppy very difficult to manage – one owner wanted him more than the other, and they admitted to emotional abuse. Physical abuse wasn’t suspected, but Fred was so traumatised in some ways that emotional abuse was probably enough.
Potential new owners came to see Fred, nearly every week. His unusual looks meant he was very handsome and attracted a lot of attention, but nobody wanted to take him home once they’d met him.
Fred, despite being a complete pain, saved me from what could have been a very bad relationship. I’d fallen in love with a man who I thought was the love of my life – a man who made me realise what ‘my other half’ really meant. Let’s call him Tom, not his real name. I managed to ignore some warning signs, things he told me about previous relationships, the way he was very controlling, the way I changed to ‘fit in’ with him.
Christmas Eve, 2006, I spent with him at his house, taking Fred and Beauty. My poor Buster didn’t get on with Tom’s dog, so he stayed with my mum. I’d forgotten to take his crate, so Fred paced, barked, laid down, got up, moved about, barked some more, and then again and again. About 2am, all hope of our romantic Christmas eve long gone, Tom took him out of the room to play ‘fetch’ in the kitchen claiming he needed tiring out. Even then, before I’d done any of the extensive training I’ve done now, I knew that wasn’t right. Fred wasn’t ‘not tired’, he was over tired, and anxious because I’d forgotten his crate and he was in a strange house, and too wired to sleep. I followed and told Tom he was wrong to do what he was doing. The ensuing argument, that went on until 5am(!) told me this relationship wasn’t right and I should get out now, before it was too late. We split up, which is hard when you still love your partner!
Shortly after Christmas I needed a short hospital stay for a minor procedure and Fred went back to the rescue for a week – but he didn’t come back because he was found a home – perhaps I’d inadvertently been putting people off him? He was kind of cute looking…
At the end of January, 2007, my best, my wonderful, my beloved dog Buster died. For anyone who loves dogs, you’ll understand the pain I was in. I’d lost my partner, I’d lost Fred, and now I’d lost Buster, all within a month and I was devastated. Buster had been with me since he was 5 months old, and he died just before his 14th birthday, in my arms, in our home, surrounded by familiar sights and sounds and people who loved him.
A week after Buster died Lu from the rescue was back on the phone. Fred was too ‘rough’ for his new home and was being sent back – would I have him back? Yes, I would. I still had Beauty, and we were spending a lot of quality time together, but a Greyhound can sleep almost the whole day away and I needed more distraction, so Fred came home in March. In March or April of 2007 I started taking Fred to training sessions, in the hope it would help him to be more settled. This was the beginning of the end of my life as I knew it.
In June, my neighbour came round with a friend of hers, who’d heard all about Fred and was interested in adopting. I cried inside! Training with your dog bonds him to you so strongly, especially when they are a difficult dog and need a lot of time and attention. When the friend said he wanted to adopt and was speaking to the rescue I was in tears again. NO! Fred was mine, he was staying. But he wasn’t mine. He belonged to the rescue, I didn’t have the right to say no. My neighbour then gently let me know she’d done it to show me that Fred and I belonged together – the relief I felt allowed me to see how right she was, and in July 2007, I formally adopted Fred. As Lu said “Fred, you can be happy at last.”
I hope you enjoyed reading how Fred saved me, from a bad relationship, from the devastation that followed the death of my first dog as a adult, and from the tedium that is daytime tv. I hope you’ll come back to follow Fred’s journey from traumatised young puppy to confident adult dog, changing my life completely from employee to employer.
— @seizertheday (@seizertheday) October 4, 2012
You will be taught gentle, fair, effective, play & reward based training methods so your dog will be well behaved in public and you gain a dog you can be proud to take anywhere. You will also learn all aspects of responsible dog ownership.
Exercises include, but are not limited to, Sit, Leave, Watch me, Settle (Down/Stay), handling & grooming, loose lead walking, coming when called, manners at entrances/exits.
You will find success in our relaxed and friendly classes, and when you’ve completed the course you and your dog will be presented with a Certificate of Achievement.
Classes are held at our Kelvedon Hatch training centre – a private training field with an indoor hall for bad weather.
Autumn term starts week beginning 14th October, choice of Sunday or Tuesday morning 10.30am, depending on numbers attending. Classes are for up to 6 dogs, run for 60 minutes, and this term runs for 8 weeks.
Spring Term starts week beginning 13th January, runs for 11 weeks and is the same as above plus two classes set in a local country park. This allows you to train your dog around real life distractions, and later to enjoy a social walk to practise what you’ve learned with the trainer on hand to advise. Also included is an end of term activity session to give you ideas for games to play with your dog, and generally have some fun.
Summer term starts 5th May, runs for 10 weeks and includes the above, excluding the activity session as there will be a dog show on 28th April where you can try as many as your dog would like.
We cannot take bitches in season into our classes, but you can still attend to continue learning. If required we are able to ‘lend’ you a dog to practise the techniques that you can try with your dog at home.
Please contact Linda@brentwooddogtrainer.co.uk or 07726 265848 for a registration form to book your place.