Sunday, November 14, 2021

No, no, no...

The word "no" is a word often thrown about in the heat of the moment, when our dogs have committed or are about to commit some dreadful "crime", but what does it actually mean?
And does it actually help with your dog's behaviour?
If your child is playing Xbox and their room is a tip, do you yell "no" and hope they understand your meaning - or do you ask them to tidy up?
If your dog is singing the song of his people out of the window because that bearded postman with the hat walked by, then you might be tempted to tell your dog "no".
But what does it tell your dog?
If you are really lucky it might mean to your dog "stop barking" - though of course it could also mean "stop barking at that volume, maybe bark louder?" or "noooooo - there is a scary postman, let's all shout", or "don't bark near the window - lets bark at the cat on tv instead", or "run around and bark"... there are so many options - so many ways a "no" can be taken as a cue to do something else.
If instead of yelling "no", we were to ask our dog to do something else - perhaps recall them away from the window, and then give them a place to settle and something to settle with while you read your post, you are setting your dog up for success. You can reward them instead of blindly yelling "no" and you will be more likely to get that behaviour next time.

"The word "no" interrupts them, so they know what it means..." - yes and no... the word "no" CAN be used as an interrupter, albeit one that likely has many negative connotations attached (so we might train a "positive interrupter" instead but more on that another time)... and doesn't give the dog an idea of what is required next, so they can simply go back to what behaviour prompted the "no" in the first place, or possibly even lead to a different unwanted behaviour.
There are a million things that can follow a "no" - if the "no" is even heeded. But asking for what is actually wanted, that gives the dog a clear example of what to aim for, and what will garner rewards.
If the behaviour is a strongly built in need, like the need to chase, then recalling from squirrels with a treat is not likely to cut it alone. Yelling "no" will likely bear no fruit whatsoever. So instead, we give our dogs things they CAN chase, and reward them for doing so - chaser tuggys are my own dogs favourite. We give them a viable option, and reinforce it.
We also limit the ability to chase squirrels while we are reinforcing chasing the tuggy. So the dog practices what is preferred of them and gets really good at it, and less so that which is unwanted behaviour. In our house, tuggies are the holy grail of chasey things, the dogs LOVE them, because the dogs have built up a history of chasing them and really enjoying it. Not squirrels.
"Training with rewards is about being a pushover, bribing your dog and letting them behave how they please..." say people who resort to harsher methods.
But teaching with rewards and working WITH your dog is simply being more clever. As well as kinder.
The simple act of asking "what would I like my dog to do" and then asking for it, or teaching THAT behaviour is simply FAR more effective and much more fun for both of you.
So next time you are about to say "No" for the millionth time, ask yourself "What can I ask my dog to do instead?" and then teach that and reward your dog for it instead.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

When treats are not enough.

Last night, Mum got my lead out, let me put my own head in my harness for a treat, did the chest clips up, got her coat on and the poo bags and pocket treats ready and off she and I went for a walk.

When we got outside, the most wonderful things were happening. Everything had come alive! 

There was rain and it was really splashy and made the best smells in the ground and noises as it hit things! It patted me on my head and back like a wonderful shower of fun.

There were leaves, glorious leaves, blowing about everywhere, of all different sizes, smells, shapes and colours, each one chanting "chase me" as they blew along the path.

The puddles were big and sloshy, so much fun for my feet to plop about in... and the ones in the mud - ohhhhh I could dig those forever. That squelchy satisfying squish while my feet paddled away to find the elusive bottom of the puddle.

The grass was cool and wet, and all the smells were inviting me to roll in them.

We also saw one of mum's puppy clients and they wanted to play too - so SURELY I was well within my rights to want to be a muddy pup? Ferocious beasts are not designed to stay clean for long.

I couldn't understand why Mum didn't want to join in. I thought she was being a miserable old cow. She took me three times around the houses, and we didn't even get to go to the field or onto the new estate round the back. 

All the best-wet weather action would SURELY be at the field or the new estate round the back? All those muddy, grassy, leafy places! What a waste! I got to sniff the bins, and a few pocket treats when I got up out of the grass... but that was about it. 

Mum looked grumpy and I was starting to get frustrated. I wanted to go over there to chase leaves and play in the mud, and the water, not go with Mum.

Mum said we had to go home as there was no point trying when it was like this out. She said it was her fault for not thinking ahead and that we had to remember that I was still a pup who was still learning. She said we shouldn't practice what we don't want me to get good at. Including being a muddy pup. So we went home. 

Moo said he never liked the rain and couldn't understand what the fuss was about, so he just ignored my complaints and carried on sleeping. Typical!

So fast forward to today. Mum said she can clearly see that I like chasing things. So we forgot all about trying to walk nicely today and went straight to the park, where although I still pulled a bit to get there, once there, Mum clipped on a long line to trail behind me and whipped a surprise new frisbee out for me. It is a nice soft one so it didn't hurt when I wanted to catch it.

Mum asked me to do a few sits and downs, and to walk around with her for a little while, and in return, she threw the frisbee for me to go after. She said we can't do it too much as "repetitive chasing things is bad for my little growing body" but a few throws in between doing other stuff is fine. 

Playing chasey things with Mum is fun. I like doing chasey things best. Even better than chewing things, eating treats or digging. So having chasey things that I am allowed to do, and then using that as a reward for things Mum wants me to do seems a fair compromise. I didn't even notice all the leaves blowing about today as we were having so much fun. Or the other dogs. Or the children in the park. Mum seemed happier too. She said something or other about "Premack", but I was too busy running around on my long line with my new frisbee to listen to that boring trainery stuff.

She gave me lots of treats too and on the way home, even past the cars on the main road, I walked nicely beside her, having a nice little chat with her about the things we could see instead of me trying to chase off after them. I didn't even pull!

Mum said that is good practice doing things we DO want me to learn, instead of things we don't, and that I was a really good girl today. I think actually, I am always a good girl and that it was MUM who behaved better today.

Today was a good walkies.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

It's not my fault everything tastes so good!

I have a big plan in life. I am going to eat the table. I already made a good start on it. Mum bought me some coffee wood sticks, she said they cost her "a bloody fortune", but she really shouldn't have bothered as her "£3 bargain buy from the charity shop" coffee table is much more fun. Mum says I am a toad and she is giving up as "at least if I am eating that, I am not eating anything else". 

Silly Mum. I am a ferocious beast, and beasts eat lots of things. 

I wanted to eat a worm yesterday, but it slithered into the grass and I could only get half of it. So to teach it a lesson I started to dig a hole to get the rest of the worm out of the mud. Mum had only just paid the gardener to do the garden and was not very pleased. I am going to have a digging pit of my very own as Mum said she is pretty sure I would like one. I hope it will have worms in it too.

I noticed that Mum has moved all the stuff off the kitchen side, or at least moved it all to where I can't reach - I think this is really unfair and have been letting her know it too. Soon I will be able to reach more stuff again though, so I keep trying!

Mum said I am getting very good at going for walks now, I only pull a little bit (I can't help that she is so slow!!) and she doesn't need to feed me constantly all the way around, which I am not so sure is a good thing. But it does free up time for looking at things and letting me have a run without me lead on in the field. 

Mum was really surprised at how good I was at coming when called when she had the long line on me, so she lets me have a bit of off-lead time during our walk. We practised loads at home so I already knew what "come" meant. I also know she carries sprats in a pouch and then lets me go off again most of the time, so of course, I am going to come back. When she doesn't let me go off again, she clips my lead on and then we walk to somewhere else that is fun, or have a little scatterfeedy picnic, so I don't mind if it means my off-lead time has finished too much. It would be a different matter if every time she put the lead on it meant we were going home, and there were no sprats involved. Then I wouldn't want to come back very much at all.

Moo is finally realising that I am the best sister and that when I can sit still for more than five minutes (which is hard when you are a Springador), I actually give quite nice cuddles. If I remember not to chew him. He does taste good.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Big Day!

Yesterday I did some more exploring. I went to visit a new vet, and she said I was perfect (even though I peed on her floor. The vet called it a "worry wee" and said many pups do this). I of course already know that I am perfect because my new Mum keeps telling me so. I was very good and got my parasite controls while I was there. I went on the scale and did a really good "sit", and I weigh 10.2kg. 

I also went to visit one of my new Nannies. This Nanny is my Mum's Mum and she has a dog called Harlow. Harlow is a bit big for me to meet right now, but I had fun meeting Nanny, watching cars and saying hello to the people who walked past her front garden where we were sitting. My mum let a few people meet me, and we let a lot of people just walk straight past. Mum doesn't want me thinking it is OK to run up to just everyone and anyone as not all people like dogs. Weirdos.

Nanny let me come to her rather than looming over me - dogs don't like it when people do that, and I quickly realised she was kind and friendly and that I could relax. I didn't even do a worry wee, which amazed my Mum. 

Then, I had my first nibble on a raw bone. Mum only let me have it for a couple of minutes as she said I have a very tiny tummy and we do not want "bone injuries". I disagree - I think bone injuries would be well worth it as the bone was delicious. A meaty lamb rib. But Mum said only a tiny nibble for puppies and then swapped it for some sprats. She said I could have some more in a few days if my tummy stays OK. I like my new foods a LOT! I tried peanut butter too and really like licking it off things. Almost as yummy as slugs.

Then, in the evening, Mum and Aedan went off to football. They don't play with the ball though - they have to watch someone else do it. I would be really good at football. I have one in the garden and it only has a few teeth marks in it. I stayed with my brother Moo and with Ellie-Mai.

Ellie-Mai says Moo is an angel and I am a little monkey. I disagree. I think Moo is a wussy and I am a fearsome beast. It is not my fault that I want to play lots. Or chew lots. Moo wee'd on my head in the garden. Angels don't wee on heads. But he did let me lay next to him for a sleep without walking away, and he is fun when he wants to play. We even sit next to each other to get treats nicely now. He let's me play with his toys too, though Mum said I have to leave his favourites - a pheasant and a duck - alone. I like him, he is a cool brother.
I also did no wees in the house! And I slept from 12 until nearly 8, and only cried for about 2 minutes and only woke up for a wee once!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

We did some exploring!

Today I discovered a dog in the glass under the magic window. 

I tried to show it my brother's chicken, and she also tried to show me hers.

She kept copying me though, so I wasn't too sure about her. Besides... she doesn't smell much like a dog at all... weirdo...

GREAT NEWS: My brother Moo is really good at playing chase in the garden. He finally decided to play with me yesterday evening. I knew he couldn't resist for long. But I didn't realise just how much fun he can be when he is feeling happy. 

We also played ball together with Mum and LOTS of balls, so that we always had at least one each and more on the ground, so there would be no need for any arguments. I, of course, do not need to argue as I am a fearsome beast, and just take what I want. Moo might get grumpy if I do that though and Mum says we have to be "appropriate", and not be too fearsome or beasty. 

When you are as big and tough as me, it is very difficult to remember not to be too fearsome or beasty, but if I want to keep playing with Moo, I will do my best to remember, and Mum will move me away to do something different if she thinks Moo is in need of a rest. After all, he is a bit wussy... But I do like him. 

I also went for a walk yesterday to the park and saw a man throwing things around. I wasn't allowed to go and catch them though, as apparently, he was "juggling" and Mum thought it would be good for me to see something "novel, in a controlled manner". I got some sprats though, so I didn't mind.

I saw a racehorse. In fact, I saw three. They are big and stinky so I thought I had better have a quick look from far across the field and then leave them alone. Mum said I was very clever and a good girl for making a good decision. Not that I had much choice as Mum makes me wear a big long lead on my harness that stops me from going off to chase things. So I chose to come and get more sprats from Mum instead of trying to show the racehorses who is the most fearsome beast in the field.

I also saw a Catses. Moo has warned me about Catses. Especially a black Catses that always runs out to get him. I don't know what the fuss is about - I thought he looked like a great thing to chase. Shame I had this pesky long-line-lead-thing on! 

I did wee on a little girl and also on the Tesco lady (don't tell Moo), so Mum thinks we need to do some "confidence-building games" while I am still little, so it doesn't become a thing. I am not sure this is true - after all, I am a fearsome beast!! And an intrepid explorer now I have been to the park too... but I like the sound of playing games with Mum so I will placate her.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

I am so very fearsome.

Today I met my Grandad and his wife Joyce. My mum had to go to work, and Ellie-Mai and Aedan, my other two humans also had to go and have their jabs, so my Grandad looked after me.

We played in his great big garden for over an hour.

I like Grandad. He makes sure I have plenty of food and water, and is very calm with me. He likes to play with the toys but also let's me go and sniff when I smell something interesting, and he let's me sleep when I am getting worn out. 

Not that I get worn out very often. There is too much fun to be had and mischief to make, to waste time sleeping... fearsome beasts never sleep.

Except at night, when Mum says all fearsome beasts should be in bed. I was very good as we slept in a new room. Moo was happy as he and mum got to sleep on their bed. He likes to cuddle Mum. He thinks he is a fearsome beast like me, but truth is, he is scared of the dark and is a big wussy.

Fearsome beasts may also take naps during the day. This is essential for maximum ferocity when attacking stuffed toys, and to get good height while pouncing on things, like Moo's head. Moo must have been very fearsome when he was younger as he sleeps a LOT.

Their bed is rubbish - I never find any food on it. My bed in my crate is ace though - stuff just appears in there like magic. Last night I found a handful of kibble and two chews. When I woke up mum for a wee at 4.30am, like a good girl, we went back to bed and I found a piece of frozen meat in there! It felt great on my sore teeth! I wonder what will be in there next time? 

Mum says I chew too much to be safe roaming the house at night, so I must go in there. But I get to chew things in there too, so it is great!

I didn't cry last night at bedtime and Mum only had her hand in for a couple of minutes. She was very pleased and so was Moo.

I wonder what mayhem I can cause today?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A lesson learned.

It is day 2 with my new family, and today I am very sleepy. I think yesterday was such a big day that I wore myself right out! 

I was very good though and slept in a fabric crate last night with a nice warm bed and brand new blankets in it, next to the sofa. Mum and Moo slept on the sofa and Mum put her hand in the crate so I could cuddle it and feel less lonely. Mum said I had to go in there as I keep eating things I shouldn't. When I am bigger I will be allowed to choose where I want to sleep. I only cried twice and let Mum sleep for at least six hours in total. I didn't even wee in the night, only when Mum woke up and let me out at about 3am. Even Moo was impressed.

I am keeping a very careful ear on what the humans are doing, even while sleeping, as I notice they keep bringing snacks from the place they call "kitchen". I like snacks. I especially like their snacks. I also like Moo's snacks but I am not allowed them. My humans let me try a little bit of raw meat too... OK I nicked it... but sharing is caring, right?

We have other humans here too. A man who is over the fence. Moo barks at him, but I think he seems very nice and gave him my best wag. Sometimes I can hear even more humans out of the window. I wonder if they are nice. Mum says she will socialise me - I think this means I get to go and look at things, including people, so that I know they won't be scary.

I am not allowed to jump on Moo. Especially not while he is trying to sleep. He told me off earlier and Mum said we had to have "time out" so that we could calm down again. She then took Moo on a walk by himself to give him a rest from me! I just want to play with him. Mum says that I am used to having a big litter to play with and he is used to just playing on his own with Mum, so he will need to get used to me, and I will need to get used to him. But... he does now give me sniffs and even tries to play in the garden... and has not been cross with me for hours. He likes me better when we are in the garden as there is lots more space for us than indoors. He also stopped pacing about and is sleeping and calm now, even being a bit waggly and happy, so I guess his walk helped. Mum says we can go to the park later and he will enjoy that as it's his favourite place. I better not tell him it was me who nicked his breakfast.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

My first day as a Locke's Dog

Today, my new family came and took me to my new home.

I was really excited when I first got into this thing they called a "car" and I had to wear a seat belt.

It was a really long way to my new home, and when I got there I met my new big brother Moo.

Moo and I were a bit surprised to see each other, and my new mum said we are to only have "appropriate and managed interaction" so that we didn't "get off on the wrong foot".

I am not sure what that means - but I am not allowed in his crate, and he is not allowed in mine either, and I was not allowed to eat his biscuits, which I thought was very unfair as I had already finished all of mine and they were tasty. It's OK though, I stole my new mum's cauliflower bites instead. They were almost as tasty as the slug I found on our trip out into the back garden. 

Moo and I will need careful watching over the coming days and weeks as I am not always sure what will make him grumpy and he is not sure whether I want to steal all his stuff, but mum says in a few days we will be fine. She knows about this kind of thing, luckily.

I only did one wee indoors too and lots of them in the garden. I get cheese biscuits if I wee outside. I also discovered cat poo. Mum says I am not allowed cat poo. Shame.

I will need to try to learn the rules here but I think it will all be OK.

I am missing my old mum though, so tonight my new mum and family will let me cuddle up with them.

Meet Twyla!


We are crazily excited to introduce Twyla, the latest addition to the Locke's Dogs family. 

Twyla is a 13 week old 3/4 Labrador/ 1/4 Springer Spaniel mix, and is very much loved already. 

Twyla, who we are picking up today, will be joining her big brother Moo and will be helping us to show the world how to train puppies from the comfort of your own home, on our Fun Not Fear® Dog Care School platform. (We are very lucky to have not one, but TWO parts to Locke's Dogs, with Fun Not Fear® being our online component) She will be documenting her journey (she is very clever) on the Locke's Dogs Blog.

We have an app being built, which is also super exciting, with lots of things on it to help dogs and their humans with anxiety at either end of the lead - and no doubt both Twyla and Moo will be featuring heavily on there too! News to follow.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Why I am trying to do, what I am trying to do.


Why am I so keen on helping dogs and people with anxiety to live a happy life together?

I want to tell you a bit of my back story. It comes with a trigger warning for domestic and sexual abuse, panic attacks and PTSD.

I talked to a person I know on Facebook earlier about a really dark time in my life.

I was in my 20s, a lonely single mother, and had had bad experiences with various people throughout my life. I found myself falling in with the wrong crowd and ended up in a domestic violence situation.

It was horrible. I was separated from my family and all but a select few friends, and I was too blind to see it happening until it was too late.

I was abused in the most awful ways, and I turned to addiction after addiction to help me cope.

I found the strength to walk away from the abusive situation after a few years, but it left me with many struggles.

I was afraid of my own shadow and had developed panic attacks.

I felt worthless and had lost all my confidence.

I eventually managed to give up my addictions with the help of my earth angels but felt like the whole world was watching me in disgust regardless.

I was ashamed to be in my own skin; the guilt I felt for what my children had been through was unbearable.

I had no real friends apart from the two I had been allowed to see.

My family barely spoke to me.

My children were struggling.

My dear darling Ruby, a Labrador who was perfect in every way, had witnessed the entire period and all the horror that came with it. She never did like men very much but had become my best friend.

That dog saved me from me so many times.

But I found doing anything for her so very scary.

I could barely speak to people, and when I did, I had become a stuttering mess.

So I hated it when I had to communicate with vets or people in the pet shop.

She was a prolific puller, and I thought people were looking at us while I tried to walk her.

So for a long time, she did not get walked, and her claws grew really long, but I was too nervous about approaching a groomer about it to actually get them trimmed. After all – they were bound to think I didn’t deserve such a lovely dog.

There were so many things I wish I had done differently for that beautiful dog.

My one comfort is that for several years before she passed, I had already begun an ongoing journey of learning to manage my PTSD and my anxiety. When I  got Moo, my Tibetan Terrier x Cavalier my life was incredibly different.

He has never known anything except love.

But you see, he struggled with poor health, to the point the poor boy was vomiting and passing blood daily and was so underweight and clinically anorexic that it broke my heart. His behaviour was fearful and aggressive, and I was so afraid people were going to blame me. After all – what was I thinking, getting another dog, when I clearly couldn’t look after myself or the family I already had? (Despite the fact I was doing so, and quite well – I just could not see it.)

There was talk of putting him to sleep.

But I was determined to get something right for once, and I set about learning how to help him.

I was so scared – it is terrifying, thinking about learning new things and meeting new people. But I had to do it.

And that changed my life.

From there, I learned about canine behaviour, developed a passion for it, got qualified and started working with dogs with all kinds of struggles through my Locke’s Dogs – Behaviourist & Trainer business.

But there was still that nagging part in my brain that said I am not good enough. I was getting great results with the dogs, but it didn’t feel like I was doing enough.

And I worked out why.

After leaving Moo with my daughter, who also has anxiety, for a week, I realised that I needed to be helping BOTH ends of the lead. I needed to reach out to anxious dog owners as well as their dogs.

I KNOW that a happy life can be had together.

So Fun Not Fear® was born.

If you need help with your dog’s issues but your anxiety has stopped you in the past, we can help.

Get in touch.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Stop ignoring your poor dog!!!

This post will rub a few people up the wrong way – and I could not care less. 

Some might feel guilty – I couldn't care less about that either.

If I sound judgemental – tough.

I have had too many people moaning lately about how their dog is being an inconvenience, and I am done being friendly about it.

I am not talking about if you are ill and can't help not being 100% for a few days. That is different. 

I am not talking about if you have genuine struggles and are willing to seek help – that actually makes you a good human for your dog, and I would love to work with you to help you resolve this.

But, instead, I am talking of people who ignore their dog day in, day out.

Who expect them to lay quietly, sleep, eat, sleep and never so much as bark in between, being a good little robot while their human flits about doing whatever humans do.

Who forget that a little fluffy person has been looking forward to being with them all day.

The only attention these dogs get is when they are being told to go and lay down, be quiet, get down, hurry up, and so on. What fun is that in life?

Don't ignore your dog.

It's not complicated.

You wouldn't routinely ignore your child. Your dog has most of the same feelings and emotions as a two to a three-year-old child, and if you try ignoring one of those for too long, then you are going to find yourself regretting it reasonably quickly.

There is a saying. "Your dog is part of your life, but you are your dog's whole life". And you are. Imagine if the love of your life couldn't be bothered anymore, no matter what you say or do. Humans get very upset when it is done to them. What makes them think their dog feels any differently?

Too many people play with their new dog or puppy, the novelty wears off, and then they are bored of their dog. Or they have got new hours at work, or something in life has changed slightly, and now they have less time for their dog.

Their living, breathing, thinking, feeling dog.

Their dog, who spends all their time wishing their human still played with them, still got their tuggy toys out, still gave them belly rubs and took them to lovely places and rolled around on the floor playing kissy-face or whatever they used to enjoy doing.

And then these same people wonder why their dogs start to display "problem" behaviours when they are bored.

And yes – I get that you have been to work and you are tired. That the kids played up, and it's been a long day. Guess what? It's been a long day for your dog, too, sitting around bored and missing you… and 15 minutes of your time spent playing, having fun and showing them you care might do you both some good.

You made a commitment when you got your dog to look after them, love them and be their human. Just because you have had a shit day or your situation has changed slightly does not mean that you should emotionally neglect your dog.

And quite frankly, some enrichment, a walk or even just 20 mins playing with the ball down the garden will more than likely mean they are happy enough to let you have a rest afterwards anyway. So why not spend that time curled up on the sofa with them instead of telling them to get down?

After all – you are their human, and any time spent with you brings them great joy.

Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas and Lockdowns.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Don't Walk!!!


Is your dog not behaving as expected? Has their behaviour gotten worse or changed?

Have you been told to walk them more often?

Are you finding this is not working?

You are walking more than all your friends with their dogs, but seemingly not getting any better behaviour…

Well, the good news is that no longer do good trainers tell owners that walking more is the answer to all their prayers - in fact, sometimes it could be making things worse.

A dog with many triggers may find walks very stressful, and the walks could be making things worse.

A dog in pain may be finding the pain exacerbated by the walking, and so the walks could be making things worse.

A dog with allergies may find more allergens in the environment when they're outside, and so the walks could be making things worse.

A dog with overgrown claws could be finding walks very uncomfortable, and so the walks could be making things worse.

A dog who is very tired, and not sleeping properly at night, may require rest rather than exercise, and so the walks could be making things worse.

All you will get is a dog who still exhibits these behaviours but is now also very fit.

If your dog is struggling with their walks, the first thing you should do is stop the hikes and do something your dog enjoys instead.

Then, consult your vet and make sure pain is not an issue.

Then, call in a qualified behaviourist who will help you to determine what it is about the walks that your dog is not enjoying.

A good behaviourist will never use aversive methods, shock collars, punishment or anything the dog doesn't like. Instead, they will work with you and your dog to make things better for your dog. So be that on the walk or otherwise.

If you need help or your dog is not enjoying walks, please do get in touch. We can help.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Digital Dog Training

One thing we have discovered, over the course of lockdown, is how bloody fantastically dog behaviour cases respond to virtual help.

The dog doesn't have to be faced with a new trainer, or place in order to get started with their training. This is massive for fearful dogs.

Puppies can learn in a more suitable environment than the local village hall, or a class where they are rammed in with 5 other puppies all teaching each other exactly how not to behave. Granted - some puppy classes are very good at not allowing the puppies to have a free for all, where they learn the exact opposite of appropriate behaviour, but even then, the distraction during the lesson from the other families, the other puppies and dogs, is massive. Where would you learn better? In a cosy place at home where you can relax and concentrate, or in the local nightclub with noise pounding and lots of other people dancing and jumping around? It is the same for dogs. 

Dog-dog socialisation is much more carefully managed, so when done right leads to much less reactivity. If each dog your puppy meets is one that you know will provide a healthy and happy experience for your dog, and they are then not forced to spend an hour in each other's company with a pile of other dogs in a training class, then your puppy will have a more healthy and happy attitude towards other dogs in general.

The dog with separation anxiety can't be helped so effectively if their human and a trainer are still in the room, or even the house once you get to a certain stage in their recovery - but if they have their own zoom meeting camera, the human, the trainer can all assess remotely how the dogs are doing and this in turn helps the dogs to become desensitised to being alone as it takes the guess work out of what is going on in their human's absence.

The humans can have recordings of all of their lessons as well as all the links to resources that they need - so training can be watched at leisure, and rewatched some more.

Training can be from specialist trainers all over the world - no longer does the local trainer need to be a jack of all trades when it comes to training your dog. You can now find niche trainers who specialise in your dog's exact problems at the click of a button. Going digital, and finding a worldwide market has given trainers the opportunity to find aspects of training that they are excellent at, and they can then pass this knowledge on to you. 

Locke's Dogs for example, has a real affinity for humans or dogs with anxiety, and we have now set up our business to have an arm specialising in this area, so that anxiety prone dog/human partnerships can access specialist help with both of their struggles.

You can train, any time, in any place as your trainer will always be there with you, on your phone screen or any other device - so no need to miss classes ever - and if you do, you can easily catch up again by watching playback of lessons.

It is also better for the environment as there is no need to be driving cars around to sessions, or printing off reams of literature, 

There is also none of the "he does it perfectly for the trainer" scenario, where the trainer has their mechanics just right, has the dog doing exactly what is being asked of them, and then when the trainer disappears the dog behaves as usual for their human - their human IS the trainer now!!

There are so many advantages to digital and virtual training. The big schools that teach other trainers as well as dogs, like absoluteDOGS or The ISCP have been teaching online for years. There is a reason for that! 

Covid-19 rules mean we are very limited in how we can interact physically with the dogs in the sessions anyway - so it makes no real difference if we are there in person, apart from serving as a distraction to the dog.

Locke's Dogs has even started their own online school, Fun Not Fear®, as a result of realising how much we love digital training. We still do 121 in person, but we limit this now to a ten mile radius of Newmarket as we really don't think that there are any advantages to in person training any more.

Slowly the clients are also catching on and realising that digital is best for them and their dogs too!

See you on a zoom call!!

Freya x

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The biggest threat to positive training is positive trainers.


"Positive training". When you first hear of it, you think it sounds lovely. After all, the trainers and behaviourists are all super kind to animals and pride themselves on being able to teach the animals long lasting and effective training, using methods that the animal actively enjoys, rewards, games and all the good stuff, with none of the bad stuff like ecollars, prongs, yanking on the lead, anti-pull equipment that stops the dog from being able to move freely and so on. Taking into account the differences between each case, the individuals likes and dislikes, and helping them to have a happy life. Exactly how it should be.

So you assume that all positive trainers are also lovely. WRONG. As much as it pains me to say it, positive trainers bitch and moan about each other constantly - not in any of the groups I run as we do not allow it, but with each other, and in other groups and gangs they hunt in packs. They troll and make nasty comments on social media, slagging off people left, right and centre. And then those same trainers all go and slag each other off somewhere else to someone else. They then create politics that Westminster would be proud of. All trying to outdo each other in Game of Bones style power play and underhandedness in the quest to be the most successful and "positive" gang.

The biggest bullies publicly pick off anyone they can, in their own quest to make themselves feel the most "positive" of all, helping to create the phenomenon known as "imposter syndrome". They then feed into already anxious people's worries, diminishing what is left of their confidence as much as they can. Rather than helping or guiding people along on their positive learning journey, these delightful folk are desperate not to be seen as "less than" and, like all bullies, feel elevated by picking on other people. These bullies feel anxiety, the same as anyone else, but they choose to express it in a way that emulates the fear culture in an online toxic playground environment.

What can then happen is we lose very good behaviourists and students. Nice, caring and sensitive people who want to train nicely, but either can't stand the pressure of being horribly picked on by their peers, or they go over to the "dark side" where the trainers might zap the dogs but at least they are nicer to each other. Rates of suicide are higher among care industries, including that of the animal care industries than pretty much any other. We should be supporting each other, not bringing each other down. It is a real shame.

Like Vegans can be their own worst enemies, the biggest threat to the positive training movement, is positive trainers.

So, what can we do about it?

Firstly, stop allowing bullying in groups and on pages - we can talk about methods but not name pages or trainers. It is unhelpful and unprofessional to slate each other like that and just leads to defensive posturing.

If you have a real issue with something someone says, report it to admin or privately message the person involved. There is no need to talk down to people and humiliate them publicly.

Teach kindly and learn kindly. Remember that there is always another human on the end of the laptop, and your throwaway comment might cost them their career or in some severe cases - their life.

You are the sum of what you surround yourself with - make full use of your block button. Don't remain in toxic groups, or bother trying to argue with trolls and bullies. It really isn't worth your time. Similarly, don't join in if you see it happening, as that will mean you are just as bad. 

Take time away from social media, and "work stuff", and spend time doing things that make you happy, with people who make you happy.

At the end of the day, we are all here because we wanted to help animals. Lets not tear each other down like bullies in a playground. No animal ever was helped by their trainer not being at their best or being forced to quit because of other trainers. Lets build each other up instead. It's really not that hard to just be nice to each other. After all, we can do it for animals - so why not each other?

Play nicely, and stay safe xx