I have been training dogs for other people and for sale since 1979. But my interest in dogs and Training stretches right back to my early childhood. When I was ten I had pestered my parents so much they finally agreed to get me a dog. Apparently its all I had ever been interested in from toddler stage. My father took our Golden Retriever training to some classes run by Police dog handlers. Of a weekend they had some additional classes which were for working trials and I found them fascinating learning about tracking searching and agility..
So from an early age realised owning a dog could be much more than just a walk in the park.. As I grew older i developed an interest in shooting and with the help of a good book retrained him as a Gun dog. I managed to get my parents to buy me another dog a Lurcher and successfully trained this one to.
This dog brought me into contact with some rather different characters and I learned about the working of Terriers and Lurchers, they were completely different to my Retriever. Soon though l was to have a nasty character building surprise… The Lurcher was stolen and in those days before microchip if a dog was stolen that was that. There was no Lassie come home moment. I was heartbroken but by coming to terms with it was able to now bring myself to sell on trained dogs. This is what enabled me to accelerate my acquiring of dog training skills. With each new dog I was getting more and more competent. Also as word spread via clients who’d brought a dog from me their friends invariably had one that needed fixing. So it went on…..
I moved to Yorkshire Gamekeeping and met two Retired Head Keepers who had come up from kennel boys.. They both now supplemented there pensions by Training dogs for other people. What they didn’t know about dogs wasn’t worth knowing. Way before natural feeding became latest trend I learnt from these guys how to turn a dead sheep or cow with the aid of a few secret ingredients and a boiling copper into a dogs dinner. They had a variety of different ways to train dogs. Unsurprisingly some of them have now been rediscovered by behaviourists and given a new label. They jazz them up. Give them a sprinkling of Science or Bullshit depending on your angle. Thus making them over complicated in order to increase the need for their services. There is as they say nothing new under the sun. So don’t be fooled into thinking all the old trainers were brutes. I have always tried to learn from people that knew what they were doing and to this day still watch anything new I can. There are always new things to learn, to try, or adapt. Its often surprising that they are in fact just a reinvention of something I read in one of my old training books reissued 1920!! I have a few books in my library where the original print run started with an 1800.
It was from this time I started a cycle of Training dogs to a high standard then selling them and repeating the cycle again and again. Invariably my new clients had friends with dogs that had grown to be a problem in some way or another.. They also became clients and so it went on. Somehow my success at satisfying the need people had for a great dog kept me very busy in my spare time. The only downside being that before I could compete with a dog it was in a new home. I soon came to terms with that and have only dabbled occasionally with Trials and Tests. It was blindingly obvious my clients hadn’t got clue who any of the Top trainers were. So it wasn’t really that important to spend a lot of effort in becoming one. Funnily enough over time l have found Trainers who specialise to narrowly struggle to help people with different needs. My clients are generally only interested in how I can help them.
I then returned to the Southeast and worked at the Metropolitan Police Dog Training establishment for ten years. For the last five years of that I was responsible for the day to day running of the breeding program, rearing up to 18 litters of puppies a year.
This was an excellent opportunity to test my training abilities on a variety of dogs of different ages and temperaments.
The whole time continuing with my private work. On a number of occasions helping a dog handler over a stumbling block. At the time and it may still be the case now the Police Dog school didn’t really do problem solving. If you had a problem for more than a week or two either you or the dog, or possibly both of you. Were more than likely to part company and possibly looking at career changes. As a dog handler invariably with a young family and a dog everybody at home loved.. Pretty desperate times. But you remember the young quiet guy on the staff that seems to have a magic way with the dogs. My private work ultimately grew to a level where at 29 when I went from being single to married with a family within a year. It became a no brainer..
I took the leap in 1993 and set up my own dog training school. I have been offering a variety of training programs to help people with their dogs. We primarily work on a residential basis these days as l find we are able to form a positive relationship with a dog. This gives me the best chance to not only improve your training, but often to change the way your dog responds and thinks about situations. It’s a kind of grounding experience and somehow rebalances them. In conjunction with the positive training techniques used, for a lot of dogs and owners it’s a complete transformation.
We are able to achieve this because although l am a positive dog trainer, l have been involved with training since the 1970s. I have seen the evolution of dog training and been influenced by all the trainers l have either met worked with or seen in action or the silver screen and these days YouTube.
Here’s a selection of my Dog Training Library. All read cover to cover at least once. Searching for those nuggets of Gold. They’re also to be found on YouTube. I search because I like to keep learning and evolving into a better Trainer. Any trainer who tells you or thinks they know everything and are the font of all knowledge….. Best avoided generally I’d say. Nobody likes a know it all do they!! What you need in a Trainer is a knowledgeable practical good communicator both dogs and human. They also need a good work ethic. I keep learning not just for myself, but also for my clients. With experience you can quickly sort the wheat from the chaff as they say. So l believe l can show you the best and most ethical techniques. Also how to apply them in the most effective and efficient way. There’s a clear direction of travel towards training in a much more positive manner. Which is great. However l don’t believe in retrospective criticism of trainers from eras past. They used equipment and ideas available to them at the time. I have seen some pretty firm handling occasionally over the years. I have never though seen anybody attempting to train a dog using purely negative techniques. There’s a very good reason for that. It’s just not possible.
This is a cutting from an article l took from a magazine circa late 1970s
So what I’m getting at is that positive dog training isn’t some concept that modern Luvvies have dreamed up. It’s always been there. Even Barbara Woodhouse l remember used to use titbits and tickle dogs under the chin. While at the same time happily showing people the correct use of a check chain! That’s pretty much all that was available then and not her fault! At the same time not to long ago l remember seeing a new lady on TV using a pet corrector spray. But now one of the main proponents of Training Positively. The problem with Positive training in this reinvention period is that it has stalled. I recently watched an informal discussion on YouTube between Dr Ian Dunbar and someone called the Glasgow dog trainer. It was extremely interesting to see that other training professionals are also arriving at the same conclusion. There are limitations to mainstream positive training and certain times when it can seem easier to revert to some negative techniques.
So the solution and I’m sure l can’t be the only one to think this. Is for trainers to develop some negative training techniques that can be taught in a positive way. I have always tried to evolve my training over the years. Indeed l don’t think we are training the same as this time last year. Evolution of dog training is the way forward. We don’t really need to have somebody’s Dog Training Revolution! It’s really important we do this, as it’s all very well knowing how to train a puppy or a straightforward dog using purely positive techniques. But what about the people with older dogs struggling with various life limiting behaviours, running out of options heading towards ultimate euthanasia. We owe it to those owners and dogs to get on and develop these techniques.. We have developed some great options and are as busy as ever helping owners. So if you want your dog to have the best training available get texting. Next month you could be experiencing the new well balanced happy obedient version of the dog you currently own. The dog you had always wanted rather than the one that’s leaving you exasperated…. We train any dog but generally best five months or older unless you have a problem or particular reason to come earlier.
Contact me to discuss your requirements.