Monday, November 25, 2019

The Dog Welfare Alliance.

When I first joined the ISCP, to learn about canine behaviour, I became aware of The Dog Welfare Alliance, mainly because the very clever Lisa Tenzin-Dolma is the person who set both up.

On investigation I decided to join up. I found out the DWA was only £10 a year for a professional to join, and for that we would make a declaration of intent to use only force-free methods in our training, and go on the website with the other force-free professionals. We had access to the facebook page and as members were also considered associate members of ICAN: International Companion Animal Network. We also were given logos to show our force-free ethics on our own websites and social media.

The funds raised from subscriptions are (apart from covering the cost of the website) then sent off as donations to various shelters and projects to help make dogs lives better, in the UK and around the world. Naturally, the donations are only given to shelters and projects who operate a force-free ethos too.

I was honoured when Lisa asked me to manage the DWA for her, which I have been doing for a little while now. I have no idea why she thought of me, when there are so many people who are far more capable of things than I am, but I was thrilled none the less and have quietly rummaged around in the background trying to keep it all running smoothly. But - I was even more honoured when she gave me ownership of the DWA last night!! Me!!!! A person who I have never met in "real" life, actually has that much trust in me. Crazy - but what a rare kindness, connection and true friend.

Bitmoji ImageAs a person who wholeheartedly believes that if you want to make the world a better place, you have to start with the (wo)man in the mirror (Thanks MJ), the opportunity to actually do something for good is not one that I take for granted, and I am deeply moved by her trust in me.

So, as well as my Locke's Dogs work, helping people to help their dogs with various behaviour issues and training, I now very much look forward to helping people learn about force-free, positive training and spreading the word through and with a forward thinking organisation of like-minded doggy enthusiasts :-)

How lucky am I, that I get to do things that make me happy for work? And that I have such wonderful friends who have faith in me? I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

My little adventure

A couple of weeks ago, I left home on my own to go on a proper little adventure, all by myself. I had to iron out a few little last minute transport issues, and had rented myself a beautiful little cottage in Merton, Devon (The Forge at Speccott Barton Farm if anyone is interested), and headed off to my very first dog training seminar. 

I had never actually been anywhere on my own before, much less to a massive 5 day event with a bunch of virtual strangers, plus two lovely ladies, Yvonne & Mary from Progressing Partnerships who I had only met once previously (but already knew I wanted to be friends with.)

The coach had to stop literally 5 minutes away from our destination, after a minor crash further up the road had caused a traffic jam, and other than it being a long journey this was the only hiccup on the way there. I duly walked round to the nearest taxi office, accompanied by a man who had just come back from the other side of the world and was no doubt much more tired than I, but he was a true gentleman who didn't want to see a lady left on her own in a strange place. I was ever so grateful! People seem so friendly down in Devon - it really is very nice to feel looked after like that.

I found my way into my cottage that evening having been on the road well over 12 hours, but the odd thing is, the trip, although long, was actually very enjoyable. I had, for the first time in a long time, a chance to decompress, to just be in the moment, with no worrying about work or trying to keep up with social media, or being mum, daughter or granddaughter, and I sat and listened to my music and watched the world go by out of the window. I saw a herd of deer, all gathered in the trees, and numerous sights and views that I never would have experienced had I dared to drive the crapmobile to Devon. Besides, the crapmobile would never have made it past about 15 miles. Devon is about 250 miles away. Long ass trip on the back of an AA van.

I arrived at Super Trainer Live the next morning, after the lovely lady who owned the cottage drove me so I could see where I had to get to. The first lady I spoke to had a sister who had lived in my village, despite people having come from all over the world, so I took that as a sign that I was going to be ok, and soon began chatting with people and making friends. It was actually fairly easy - or I am braver than I thought - as I quickly realised that the entire conference was actually more like an asylum, full of crazy, dancing, singing, chanting and rocking dog-people. I fitted right in. I met up with a few people that I had chatted to online before, and made some firm friends. 

I also managed to spend some time with lovely Yvonne and Mary, who were so helpful and like a pair of sisters looking after me, and making sure I got back to the farm safely in the dark, wet evenings. I am so grateful to them - they made my trip amazing with their kindness.

I did manage to get into quite a few shenanigans, like finding myself lost in a field in the dark, surrounded by sheep with only 8% battery on my phone.... Thank the gods, the farmer runs the local youth club and saw me while he was on the way home - I flagged him down, not knowing who he was - and oh how I sighed with absolute sheer fucking relief when he said he owned the property I was looking for.. (kids - never get in cars with strangers. Do as I say, not as I do).

Then there was the village shop that my friend and I made open up especially for us, and we then proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes hiding in the mechanics garage next door as it was pissing down, giggling like schoolgirls..

When we tried to accost Tom the vet to treat my friend who was feeling ill.. and found ourselves backstage making friends with the crew and seeing all what goes into these things behind the scenes.

Then there was the incident when I hopped on the school bus..

The seminar taught me hell of a lot about dogs and dog behaviour, and all the things that you would expect, but it also taught me a lot about myself. It taught me that actually, I AM as good as the other trainers that were in the room those 5 days, as I knew all the things they were talking about, I had experiences of my own training to share rather than just listening, I came up with ideas and plans, and I had a bloody good time doing it. I will no doubt need to remind myself of this fact, as I frequently find myself struggling with Imposter Syndrome, but for now I am buzzing and excited about what steps I want to take for Locke's Dogs next.

Best of all, it taught me just how capable I am of doing stuff on my own, for myself - albeit with a little help from my friends. I survived, a week without all the people (and dog) I hold dearest to me. The break was long overdue and well needed. I had never been "just Freya" ever since my eldest was born and being a mum took over my world. It was almost as if I had forgotten how to just be me - and with a distinct lack of internet coverage, I soon rediscovered how to be present in nature, to feel magic and energy around me, how to enjoy reading, crocheting and colouring, and all the other things I used to enjoy doing more often. 

I came home so overjoyed to see them all, to tell them about my week, and to start putting things into place in my training and business - and even the evil bastard of a sick bug I encountered on the coach home for 5 whole gut wrenching hours, was not enough to dampen my spirits. Oddly enough nobody wanted the loo on the coach once they heard/smelled me turning inside out, and so I had it all to myself - along with the chair I was sitting on having a space next to it - even though the coach was pretty much full. Funny how a bit of vomit can clear a gap on the coach for your comfort. Will have to remember that tip for when I go back next year! Soup anyone?

And now I am home, and eagerly adding things into my training schedules, and getting ready to start new and exciting things with my clients, feeling completely refreshed and very positive about the future. Roll on Torquay 2020!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Think kindly.

Just got back from a lovely walk with Moodlepips... sorry, I mean "Moo"... or even "Marvin" to give him his actual name. (as a side note Moodlepips just auto corrected to "Poodles" which I may also use in future - thanks Microsoft)

We played with his tuggy on a rope in the street, I investigated random smells with him (at least I stood there and looked interested), we went to say hello to the ducks and we cut through the park so he could go off lead for a few minutes. We had chicken (well, he did), we raced and practiced emergency sits, followed by chasing the tuggy again... Not once did I have to put up with him pulling me, and I was especially chuffed when he didn't decide to have a go at the biggest Rottie I have ever seen in my life, being walked by a bearded man in a hat, his missus and a pushchair.
We were having a great time, however as I walked along at once point, some total strangers were staring at me as if I was absolutely batshit crazy - they actually stopped talking and stared as we went by, followed by a sarcastic comment of "Okaaaaaay then"!!! (I am batshit and rocking to be fair - but that's another story... ) and it struck me, how quick people are to judge each other unfavourably. Needless to say, Moo and I carried on regardless. I know who were the happier souls at this particular time and place.

Then I thought about some posts I had seen on Facebook - people worrying about bullies, people worrying about being judged for what food their dog does or doesn't eat (Moo doesn't have dog food - he likes home made meat, fish & offal stews, cheesy crackers, ready brek, buttered toast, ham & egg quiche (with no onions) and malted milk biscuits, with a nice cup of tea or a small bowl of milk, just incase anyone is interested, but please don't don't tell anyone or the food police will have me for breakfast), people worrying about doing everything wrong all the time. So we all judge ourselves unfavourably all the time too.

A quick scroll through the rest my friend's feeds (ignoring the countless pleas from all the charities I can't afford to help, a fan page or seven, and the marches in London live videos) reads a bit like an elongated version of this:

"I am too fat."
"I am too thin."
"I don't know what to do."
"I feel like I don't fit in"
"I am not good enough at my job"
"I can't parent"
"I look like crap."
"My cooking is shit."
"I can't park."
"I am no good at this"
"I can't dance."
"My house is a mess."
"My life is boring"
"I am boring"
"Shopping is shit with this person"
"I am lazy"
"I hate the person who did this - you should all hate them too"
"I can't get my dog to do this, or to stop doing that."
"I am too old"

The list of people being down on themselves just goes on and on and on, even when they are laughing at themselves rather than being worried, they still laugh at their imagined downside - either that or I am just friends with an abnormal amount of pissed off, fed up people.

Even my writing this is making me think "people will just think I am writing a ton of crap - who am I to write about stuff anyway?"

Bloody hell - no wonder we are all depressed.

The brain is predisposed by evolution towards a negative bias (big words for a Saturday) to ensure our caveman ancestors survived. Happily skipping towards prehistoric man eating predators to see if they were friendly never did anyone any favours and so we naturally seek out the worst case scenario in our mind's eye and then avoid it. Having a group around us was more or less vital to our survival and so we instinctively want the approval of our peers, finding it very hurtful on a primal level when it is not given. Knowing that cold winters left us starving hungry, we plan ahead with our resources and feel like impending doom is upon us when we are not managing to do that. And so many more reasons why we beat ourselves up continually - and even occasionally indulge in putting others down so that we may feel our own position has elevated slightly.

You know how bullies are actually the insecure ones? - that is why they do it. To attempt to elevate themselves. Not much help when they are tearing you to shreds and ruining your life, but at least you know they feel like shit deep down too - even if they don't realise it in some cases.

What we need to do, is to start celebrating ourselves and each other. When we do, we need to stop thinking of each other as being smug and instead be pleased for each other. In this way people will begin to feel more positive and better about themselves and each other. There is a saying, "if you can be anything, be kind.". Fuck knows who said it, but it is worth remembering. Karma works the same way (kinda).. if you act like a dickhead, to yourself and everyone around you, you will get dickhead vibes back. Be good to yourself and those around you, and you will get good vibes back. (Within reason - don't be giving away your house and car and then blame me if you don't win the lottery the following week).

Especially in professions like ours in the animal world, where we deal with lots of emotional stuff already, why don't we all just be a bit more nice to ourselves and to each other?

Thinking about the way you word things makes a huge difference. Instead of "You are doing this wrong". "You should be doing this". "That's not right" about "Have you tried this way?", "That's really nice, have you tried adding that?", "I find that when I do so n so, this helps" etc.... adding smileys and colours to text to show you are being friendly or joking (words do not always read the same to everybody). Think before you open your trap, how you would feel on the other end of the conversation?

Your own inner conversations with yourself should receive the same treatment. Reframe the negatives. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Turn your negative thoughts positive. I know I sound all Pollyanna now, but it actually works, with a bit of practice.

"I'm putting on weight" = "I can find myself a new hobby - I might start with dancing", or even "I like my curves, they suit me".

"I can't train my dog very well" = "Imagine how many more problems my dog and I would be having if we never started trying out this new training" or "I can ring my local force-free trainer and find new games to play with little Moodlemonkeydoo".

"People think I am a total weirdo because I sing and play tuggy in the street, call my dog "Moodledoodledumplingpants" and stop and see what my dog has found when he is sniffing at something" = "We are enjoying ourselves and we also get to practice walking past people staring at us without barking at them"

Congratulate each other and ourselves on our wins, and notice when someone is doing well, even if they haven't noticed it themselves. Make people feel good. It makes YOU feel good when you do, and elevates you far more than any bully can ever elevate them self, because it is a genuine elevation based on good feelings - positive reinforcement for the soul. Be nice and here's the trick - genuinely mean it. Or if you can't think of anything nice to say, say nothing at all.

By gradually adding to your own and other's confidence and optimism in this way, life gets easier.
Gratitude for three things every day is another mood booster. Gratitude is something I learned when giving up alcohol many years ago, and is a way of life. Today for instance I am grateful there is Galaxy in my fridge. I am grateful that the kids, pets and I are all in a pretty good place. I am grateful that we made it round our walk without so much as a yip at anything else while on lead.

I am also grateful Moo finally passed the chicken bone but that is a story for another blog.

If ever anyone is having a lot of problems with their mental health, please do feel like you can talk to me, or reach out to a professional. There is no need to suffer in silence, or to feel lonely or alone with it. There are many helplines available, or your local gp, your local mental health services. If you feel you are being bullied, do not sit in silence and accept it. Speak to someone who can help.

INTODogs have started a new arm, INTORescue, for those involved in rescue work. Both ISCP and INTODogs have mental health support contacts and are always encouraging of our members to step forward in confidence to seek advice if they need it.

Be kind xxxxx

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Trolls and Bullies

You sit at your desk, turn on your laptop, "ping, ping, ping" your social network notifications start coming through and rather than be happy that someone got in touch or wanted to speak to you, your heart sinks. There is no getting away from it. Bloody trolls are everywhere and it feels like they are coming after you with pitchforks and the world is watching. It makes you feel sad, alone, stressed, embarrassed and if they are trolling something you worked hard on it can be soul destroying.

"Trolls"... they used to be green fairytale things, with warts, wonky teeth and bulgy eyes, that lived under bridges, yelling "Trip trap, trip trap" at various Billy Goats Gruff, and other passers by, but lately they seem to have emerged and taken on the role of online bullies, who have nothing better to do than make other people feel like shit. Sometimes they hunt in packs, sometimes they are alone in their world of insulting people for the hell of it.

I wasn't used to being trolled, or how rude and mean people can be just for the sake of it and I certainly wasn't expecting this type of little side stress when I started in the doggy world. I thought that kind of thing happened in school, but I seem to come across it so much more now! You would think doggy - centred folk were all nice people, sensible and caring adults, what with caring for the animals and not wanting to use aversive or punishing methods... and for the most part thankfully most are... But crikey there are some horrible buggers out there too. Oddly enough, I have never had to worry about trolls online, until I found myself  running a business page and helping on others.

It's not just in the dog world, it is everywhere. Just look how many horrible gits have started on Greta Thunberg, or who make nasty xenophobic, racist, homophobic and any other kind of bigotty comments on things from behind their laptop screens.

I have found myself taking things personally before now, nasty comments really upset me! I can't understand why people have to be so horrid! I can understand how people with thinner skin than mine might get very unhappy because of online trolls and bullying. There is no getting away from it, from school age to adulthood, from work or school to home - you can't just shut the door like when I was at school, as the trolls and bullies are there in your laptop, in your phone, on your tablet, and so they chip away at you if you let them. I know - I have seen what they did to my daughter. Its bad enough that children behave like that. How sad that adults feel the need to do it too.

So what can people do about it? Well sadly, a wanker will always be a wanker, and no amount of being  polite or asking them to be nicer will stop them from being a wanker. In fact it often fuels them as they get off on knowing they have got to their victim and then they act like even more of a wanker. However not all people are wankers, especially those that you know personally, so often just telling someone politely by private message they have hurt your feelings a bit will be enough to illicit an apology - they may not have realised they made you feel like that and will probably feel mortified by it.

Reporting to the social media platform, blocking and deleting are my best allies when it comes to true trolls - it takes bravery the first time you press the report button and you are crapping yourself the whole time incase they find out it was you, or they notice that you have disappeared and then they tell everyone... But like all things practice makes perfect and after a while it becomes a lot easier just to rid yourself of the virtual arseholes before they ruin your day too much. The world is a much nicer place when you are not having to put up with some troll you have never met, who has seemingly drawn your name out of a hat filled with random names of people to piss off.

Now I am not saying surround yourself in a house of mirrors, where everyone thinks and feels exactly how you do about things - that is neither healthy or normal. People can disagree with each other or talk about things with each other without being disrespectful, or sharing nasty stuff or generally acting like dicks. Discussion and research are how new ideas are formed, and part of that involves testing ideas with other people and seeing their reactions and input. Just be respectful and mindful of language and the way you portray what you are trying to get across. The written word can be read in many ways and it is easy for rows to start because of things getting lost in translation in comments on Facebook after being "read the wrong way".  Screaming at each other in sweary caps lock just puts people's backs up. Being insulting just puts people's backs up. Slagging people off just puts people's backs up. Being rude or nasty just puts people's backs up. There really is no need for it.

In the dog world, there are many methods of training, and people can get very nasty with each other about terminology, let alone the actual methods of training. As a positive and force-free trainer I would hope to only ever promote positive and force-free methods, but this can illicit some nasty responses in others. Similarly, not all positive and force-free trainers use the same methods with people, and can be quite nasty too. I try to lead by example, being kind and hopefully well mannered, or even discuss rationally, rather than indulge the trolls in most instances, but sometimes that block button is just begging for a little tap, and sometimes it is for the best to tap it.

If you feel you are being bullied or abused by another dog professional and it is getting worse, it may be worth looking to your professional body to see if they can help you, or even the troll's own professional body, as a good professional body, like INTODogs, Pet Professional Guild British Isles or ICAN, will have certain expectations of their members and may take action if they feel their standards are not being upheld.

When you are feeling upset by the actions of another person in the "real" world (as opposed to online), sometimes it helps to have someone to talk to about it. Tell your partner, or your best friends - don't bottle it up. If it is at work and someone is bullying you and speaking to them directly has not helped, perhaps speak to the supervisor, or if they are the one that is bullying you, go above their heads and report them. You might not have been the only one who has had problems of this kind with this person - and you might not be the last either. The problem will not go away by itself, no matter how much you keep your head down.

Whether it be online, or in the workplace (or even if you are at school and reading this old lady's ramblings) trolling and bullying is not acceptable. You are not at fault, even though you may feel as if you are. If you feel you have nobody to talk to and are being affected, please do consider clicking some of the following links and getting some advice. You do not have to put up with it and there are ways to make it stop.

Gov.UK Workplace bullying and harassment
Acas Advice leaflet - Bullying and harassment at work: Guidance for employees
National Bullying Helpline
Anti Bullying Alliance
Stop Online Abuse

Don't let them get you down. xxx
F x

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Why trainer's dogs bark.

I always thought that dog trainers would automatically have the "perfect" dog. You know the sort, the ones that can dance the waltz on Britain's Got Talent, can do agility with their eyes shut, know 9007 different cues and can perform them across a field using just the sound of a whistle, and never, ever chase anything except their guardian's dreams.

No. This is definitely not the way of it.

It seems that these amazing dogs are everywhere. There to make us feel like serious failures in our dog training abilities, and to give our clients ridiculous expectations and to let them know just how shit their own dog guardianship and training abilities are too. Obviously we/they are not shit, in fact most are far from it. Coping with the emotions that come with a dog with issues while trying to work out how to manage them and make them feel better is really hard. But they can be made to feel that way - and the more conscientious among all dog guardians find it even easier to compare them/ourselves and their/our dogs with these "perfect partnerships" as we want to do our best by them.

What people do not always see is that although many people who work with animals knew that was what they wanted at an early age and went to University to learn about it, many trainers or behaviourists find their way into training and behaviour completely by accident, while learning how to help their own Reactive Rovers and Anxious Annies. We have watched our own dogs trying to navigate their way through life, reacting at other dogs, or hating men with beards and hats, or trying to make sense of their lives before rescue or coping with illness and pain. We learned about how to help them, and found a passion for it, so we then want to help other dogs and their people too. 

Most of us then spent £1,000s on education and have spent pretty much our every waking moment ever since, learning how to help dogs. We continue to learn to keep ourselves on top of our game and we continue to work on our own dogs while we are at it.

The barking dog, or the dog with a lack of recall does not reflect the skill of the trainer/behaviourist. OUR DOGS ARE NOT ROBOTS.

What the trainer is doing about it DOES reflect the skill of the trainer.

The methods of training being used reflect the skill of the trainer. A good trainer does not need to use aversive methods, and knows there is nothing that can be trained with punishment and aversives that can't be trained with rewards, fun and kindness. This trainer knows the pitfalls of punishing methods, even if they appear to work quickly. They know also the relationship building, confidence boosting buzz of training with force-free and positive methods.

Where the dog has come from and where they are now reflects the skill of the trainer.  How was the dog when the trainer first began working with them? Has the trainer worked out what the dog's issues are? How long has the dog been undergoing behavioural modification and have they changed/began to change their response to some things? Miracles do not occur overnight, and neither do lasting behaviour changes (apart from fear responses). However progress in the right direction, done with the right methods is a gradual and ongoing process that becomes a way of life, making everything better for the dog and guardian and their life together.

The trainer's ability to judge what the dog can cope with and respond accordingly reflects the skill of the trainer. Overwhelming a dog or expecting too much can be very counter productive. Training ineffective and unsuitable solutions to a dog's issue will be either counter productive, or simply make no difference at all. Far better to train the dog in front of you, tempering expectations to a realistic level and going at a speed that suits the dog, keeping them below threshold - preferably training FOR the situation rather than IN the situation. A dog might never learn to be the one that can play fetch in the park with 800 dog friends, but he might be able to learn to walk down the road comfortably on his lead and go past another dog without panicking, taking a treat from his trusty human as he goes.

Our dogs with problems need to work on their emotions and will often need to undergo a behavioural program for a long time - they can still have ongoing problems for some time. Just because their guardian is a behaviourist, well, it just means that their human has been lucky enough to gain extra knowledge, in order to help them make progress with their issues. 

They are often not the dog that we started with. The dog you see barking at another dog when they go down the street, may have once been too afraid to even leave their house. The dog running with wild abandon through the leaves in the park with little recall might once have been curled up in pain and unable to move for days on end. (A good trainer will have them on a long line for safety, but still....). 

The ability to make that dog's life better, to help them make progress and to have patience while doing it is reflective of the trainer's/behaviourist's skill.

Like any living creature, we are all a work in progress, and trainer's and behaviourist's dogs are no different. Those dogs you see on TV? They are the exception, not the rule, They are fantastic to watch, and brilliantly trained, but just like people do not look like those air brushed models on TV and in magazines, not all dogs will look like the dogs on TV. Not even trainer's dogs. 

Sometimes, especially not trainer's dogs.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

30 days of sausage.

We have all now done four days of our 30 Days of Canine Science challenge, and it is certainly proving an eye opener. Great fun though! My colleagues and I have been really enjoying the challenge and it certainly is giving us all food for thought, as well as highlighting areas we are each good at or could improve on.

People get comfortable in their training methods, all trainers from those owners just training their own pet dogs for fun, to professionals who are training for clients. We find what works for us, what achieves the desired outcome for ourselves and our clients, and we then practice it until it is second nature to us. 

The whole point, it seems, of this course so far is to have us re-examine our techniques and discover things we wouldn't usually think of trying, to stretch our abilities even further. It pushes us just outside of our comfort zones, while allowing us the room to adapt and take from it what works for us.

Moo is very much enjoying the sudden influx of sausage, and is trying his very hardest, being the good boy that he is. He has always been taught using concept games as these seem to come the most naturally to us as a partnership, so using cues, props other than toys, lures and even some shaping - apart from basic obedience training - is a new thing for him to get his head round, definitely something I will be doing more of with him as he seems to be relishing the chance to use his brain. By the end of his 30 days of sausage he will be the weight of a St. Bernard. 

It's good to do things like this with your own dog as a trainer, as you can get so wrapped up in other people's animals and the world they live in, that your own dog can get left behind a little. Couple that with the fact that most of us get into training in the first place because our own dogs might have needed a little help and you have a situation. An electrician will not very often go home and begin rewiring their own house for fun. But - give them something new to do and they are in their element fiddling with their pliers and fuses. This kind of thing, when entered into in the right frame of mind (ie. for fun, not because you want to put pressure on yourself or your pet) and taking any positive training methods you wish to utilise from it, is a great relationship builder and a brilliant reminder as to why we took up training in the first place. That delighted little body waggling about and that happy, smiley face you get when your own dog realises that you are doing something special together with them is priceless.

Absolute Dogs Geek is pretty awesome too - very sciencey but understandable for dummies like myself. Many, many lightbulb moments to help out my behaviour clients and their dogs and we are only in the first week.

In other news, Aedan has college beginning tomorrow and as part of his studies he has to learn to write a blog, so his blog will be at - I know you will all wish him luck - but can you all please wish me luck too as I have to be up at bloody 6am to get him on the bus! It is going to sting pretty sodding badly after having lay ins for half the summer holidays, and no rushing about even on the days I had to get up.

Mornings are shite. It's a fact. Thats why dog trainers do not tend to run dog training classes at 6am, we are still tucked up in our baskets dreaming of fleecey gilets with lots of big pockets and clickers that have a nice soft click, if we can help it. Those of us that are very energetic might be walking our own dogs - but these are the ones who are in bed by 9.30pm, and with teens in the house that is just impossible.

Suppose I had better go and make sure he has some clean clothes to wear and that his homework is done. It is 7.15pm the night before college starts - that's enough time to catch up with six weeks worth of homework in a panic.. right??

F x

Friday, August 30, 2019

New month, new courses, new starts

Exciting times at Locke's Dogs, this September. Aedan and I are both starting new things this coming week.

I am doing the "Geek" level of Absolute Dogs Pro Dog Trainer course, as well as the "30 Days of Canine Science" - and finishing up a course about making successful Facebook groups and pages called "30 Days to Impact" which has been most enlightening and made a humongous difference to how i see the world of Facebook for business. 

I love learning, the more of it I do, the more I want to do. When I am being taught something I do not think is quite right, it enables me to form rounded opinions and arguments to support my way of thinking. When I am taught something new that I think is ethical and workable, it's like a whole new world opening up in front of my eyes. They say you should learn something new everyday, and that is something I always aspire to do.

Aedan, my youngest, having just finished high school, will be off to start college, an absolutely bloody arduous 1.5 hour bus trip twice a day - but when he gets there he will be taking some really cool courses, and will no doubt have lots of fun, especially once he has worked out his way to the food halls and to the academic support suite. If he uses the academic support as well as he did while in high school, he will find it a place to go and chill out with the other kids who have their extra support needs, as well as to gain the help he might need, to arrange things like his learning support assistants, and regular meetings to discuss his progress. To any parent of any child with SEN, who is in mainstream, I strongly urge you to check out the support in place and provisions made at each school before you enroll as each school has differing levels of support and some will be better for your child than others. Never be afraid to say "no" to the closest school or the catchment area, or the school you are given - the quality of support given varies widely from place to place and will be more or less suitable depending on each childs differing needs too. The right placement can make a huge difference to not only your child's learning outcome but also their stress levels, health and happiness. A good school will welcome you for viewing and to speak with people there.

As well as all of this, I have some very nice new behaviour clients to see, and also a new course at the ISCP to promote - a rather harrowing course exploring the links between human and animal abuse - which could be vital in helping to spot domestic violence or other forms of abuse, and also in understanding and aiding the healing processes of animals who have been subjected to it.

Busy, busy, busy... :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

CPD Addiction.

CPD Addiction.

One of the very first things I discovered, when i passed my ISCP.Adv.Dip.Canine.Prac and joining The Association of INTODogs was that this was only the beginning. Part of staying accredited with INTODogs is that I need to do lots of Continual Professional Development - CPD, in order to stay ahead of the game and know what I am talking about. 

Science teaches us new things about our dogs every day, and how we teach them should respond accordingly, so CPD is vital to being a good behaviourist/trainer or teacher of any kind.

The trouble is that CPD in itself becomes addictive - and expensive. The fear of missing out - FOMO - or of not having that badge that everybody else has, is like a burning itch that just won't go away, and so before I realised it, I began to collect badges in earnest. Nice, colourful, smart and intelligent looking little pngs and jpgs to go on my website and social media, like a dog related virtual Panini sticker album collection. All of which are me proudly telling the world that I have actually done something useful and my knowledge and experience should be able to help someone with their dog related issues.

I do get a buzz from joining up to things. Having had past issues with alcohol and being an ex-smoker, I know well the signs of addiction - the buzz of getting something you wanted, consuming it, wanting another. Addiction can follow us through life in many different guises and addiction to learning and to virtual badges with dogs on is no different.

But at least while I am keeping up with CPD, and learning new things through the likes of Absolute Dogs courses, I can't afford to drink, even if I wanted to, so that squashes the thought of ever taking it up again 😂😂😂😂

The latest courses I have been doing have been a bit dogless - they have actually been about making my facebook group better and making better stuff for my own Locke's Dogs facebook page, so my clients can have a better service from me - as well as the pages I help admin on for other people. I have also learned to use Canva graphic design software, as well as learning how to keep my accounts and fill in the horrid Universal Credit declaration every month that sole traders get to do - (yes, I am one of those annoying people who smugly do everything by the book). I am now officially some kind of maths genius and on par with Branson when it comes to being business savvy. Well almost. In a non - billionaire sense.
So, after a whole month of not doing doggy courses, I am back at it this month with "30 Days of Canine Science" and "Absolute Dogs - Geek and Coaching" levels. So no sleep for me through September then while I try to keep up!

Then after that, I am saving up for another biggie - The ISCP's new course on the links between human abuse and animal abuse. I have sadly been in abusive situations and have seen first hand how these things can affect not just the human members of the family, but the animal members too. I think however uncomfortable it is, it is a subject that is vital to cover in order to be able to help some dogs (and owners) cope better and get the most from their behaviour modification program. 

Now nobody ever mentioned learning all this when I first thought to teach a pup to sit.

Monday, August 26, 2019

And here we go.

The First Post.

And so it begins. At 1.54am, after a bit of swearing - ok a lot of swearing, and a few thousand gallons of coffee, we are finally rolling. The first ever Locke's Dogs blog post. The initial mind rush of "bloody hell I actually set this up - I must be really clever, I am a computer genius.." has now back peddled into "ok now what do we do? What will we actually write about?"

There are about a million billion dog training and behaviour blogs, and there are a million billion dog trainers and behaviourists to go with them. They all seem so fantastic, Why on earth would I write another one?

But then it struck me, I had never read one that incorporated all the f*ck-ups, the late night tantrums as people argue across facebook, the trying to work out how to use your laptop and look professional on your website, the cleaning up dog shit from your quilt when your dog gets ill in the night or the great fun it is when he burps sprat breath at your 98 year old grandmother. I had never seen a "behind the scenes" blog - or at least one that I identified with.

So here is my attempt at it. I can guarantee I won't be updating it regularly. I am crap like that. I also swear. A lot. Neither will it be the best blog you ever read, but I hope it will be warm and funny, and make you feel like actually, at least you are not alone - that somewhere, at 2am, someone else is wishing it wasn't so hot outside, and thinking that nobody told us while we were training to be canine superheroes, that doing the accounts is quite so crap and yes - trying to work out how to put code in websites is probably something they should have done this afternoon instead of having a lightbulb moment at midnight.

Oh - I might also include a bit about Autism, Dyspraxia, and Tourettes Syndrome, as my teenage son has all three. I also have a daughter of almost 20. Both are infinitely brainy and better at technology than me. But the dog, Moo, likes me best and that is all that matters.
Another coffee is probably not a good idea, but f*ck it..