Why We Chose To Work With A 1-2-1 Dog Trainer
Dog training is something that for a long time was a sore subject in our household. We’d taken Josie to our local training dog programme when she was 9 months old and got through the bronze training top of the class but then when we moved onto the silver we left halfway through after being told that we loved our dog too much for her to learn anymore. Which is a statement I simply do not accept, not wanting to use harsh forms of punishment doesn’t mean you can’t train your dog. After feeling at a loss with the same issues again and again we finally decided it was time to get in touch with a one on one trainer and see what we could do as I knew that Josie was nowhere near a lost cause but she’s not always the easiest to get through to. So this is our experience of finding a trainer and why it’s been such a good thing for us and our relationship with Josie.
FINDING A TRAINER
I’d spoken to a couple of people who had worked with a personal trainer for their hounds who didn’t live too far away from us so started to look into the trainer they used. Sadly, our enquiry was ignored so I turned to Google and found a trainer in our area (Nottingham Dog Trainer) who was very highly rated and I was sure to read his reviews too just to see what other people were saying. I filled out a lengthy questionnaire all about Josie, our struggles and what experience we had with training before. A few hours later I received a text message with dates we could book in as well as the training session he thought we needed from what I’d said in the questionnaire and we were booked in for the following week. For us, and Josie something that was really important was finding a trainer who understood sighthounds, didn’t use super harsh training methods and understood our relationship with our dogs. One of my biggest worries was hiring someone and them come into the house and tell us the dogs were never allowed on the sofa again if we wanted them to listen, thankfully that didn’t happen.
what we wanted from one on one training
The biggest thing that we wanted from working with a trainer was not only a better understanding of Josie but training methods that would work in the outside world. Whilst it’s understandable why most training classes are held in the likes of a sports hall it doesn’t prepare you all that well for real-life distractions like dogs, people, and wildlife. I’m not a dog owner who expects my dog to be perfectly behaved at all times and never want to interact with other dogs (when appropriate obviously). But, I would like her recall to be a bit more solid than it is now which we all know is a challenge with a breed motivated by moving things. Being an avid Google-er I’ve spent months on forums about sighthound recall and to say it's disheartening is an understatement. So many people believe that the breed should never be allowed off lead, to play with another breed of dog and well the list goes on and those are not things I believe when it comes to Josie and Edie. As much as I wanted to go into the training session expecting complete miracles I knew keeping my expectations low was for the best so then no-ones feelings were hurt by the end of it and thankfully it worked out for the best.
THE TRAINING SESSION
We were booked in for a four-hour session and thankfully it was a dry sunny day so we were able to go out on a walk without fear of getting drenched. Tim came to our house and we spent an hour or so talking about the dog training methods we’ve tried, dog behaviour in general and then about Josie and what our concerns are. Straight away our minds were put at rest that we’d hired someone credible and also, realistic about dog training. Tim broke things down in a way that were so easy for us to understand and also explained that sometimes (like all dog owners) were guilty of making Josie’s emotions too human-like and certainly helped put things in perspective for us. After having a good chat about everything we wanted to tackle we headed out on a walk and it was broken down in the following segments;
Focus: As Josie is now 2 she’s got a pretty good grasp on her name but as we wanted to start with the basics once again. A really good exercise we did walking down to our local country park was to say Josie’s name every few minutes to see if she would turn round and look at us and if she did giving her a treat for her focus. Getting that focus might seem like such a small thing but it’s been really beneficial for us and an exercise we’re currently doing with Edie too.
Being around other dogs: We tried to find a busy walk path so that there would be a lot of distractions for us and as it was a sunny Good Friday plenty of dogs were out. We gave Josie a lot of room away from other dogs, walked her past and every time she looked at a dog we would then say her name and when she gave us her attention then we would treat her and repeated that as many times as necessary. After a while, Josie clocked onto what we were doing and started checking in with us herself which is a great routine to get into.
Recall off lead: Once we’d done a few exercises we then let Josie have some off lead time and started building up the distance where we were calling her from. When recalling her we really started to ramp up our excitement too so, for example, running a little bit when recalling her because she is so motivated by sight so we’re currently trying to work that to our advantage by being the moving object she's running towards.
Running dogs off lead: If there is one thing Josie cannot resist going over to, its dogs running off lead. And obviously, it’s not always appropriate for her to go and join someone else’s dog having a run around so a really good test for her was a spaniel right in her eyeline running around and we stood with her and started the focus exercise again until she completely lost interest. There was once a time that she would have been pulling on her lead to get to this dog but she stayed put and was looking up at us which was brilliant.
how it’s going now
It’s been around a month since we worked with Tim and use his training methods every day with Josie (& Edie) and it has helped so much and she really is making big progress. This past weekend we were at Dogstival and we even felt safe enough for Josie to be off lead on the beach when there were around 40 dogs surrounding her, not once did she dash over to someone at full speed and she was also really calm around every dog she met, even the other sighthounds which are her weakness! There are some days where it feels like she’s going backwards but they’re few and far between at the moment as there have been points where every walk felt like a huge challenge. Working with a one on one trainer was incredibly beneficial for all of us and I’d happily work with Tim again if we felt like we needed the extra help as not only was he great on the day but he sent some us some brilliant notes and videos afterwards to aid us in our training.