New Year's Resolution #1 - Do more with my Dog!
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #1 – DO MORE WITH MY DOG!
“I can often be heard saying “there is no such thing as bad behaviour, it’s just dog behaviour” and if you don’t want it, show them an alternative and make it worth their while to do that instead.”
In the lead up to the festive season we get very busy, couple this with not being able to participate in classes or group training activities for most of the past year and we can start to see many pet dogs reverting back to their more natural behaviours.
Unfortunately for both them and us, their natural behaviours are often not what we want to see in the human world.
There is nothing unnatural about a dog that pulls on his lead, refuses to come when called or barks. These are all things we would expect to see in a dog that hasn’t been taught otherwise, or one whose training has lapsed. I can often be heard saying “there is no such thing as bad behaviour, it’s just dog behaviour” and if you don’t want it, show them an alternative and make it worth their while to do that instead. So what are your options when it comes to training and the different classes available? I have highlighted just a few of my recommendations here:
Address a specific behaviour
Along with general obedience type training classes, look out for workshops which are more specific and often focus on one particular behaviour. Many trainers will offer weekend workshops aimed at things like loose lead walking or recall, which are perfect if you only have one or two behaviour issues you’d like to address. You can find a trainer here www.pact-dogs.com
Give scentwork a go
Scentwork classes or even 1-2-1 lessons are something every dog owner should look at doing. Depriving our dogs of using their noses to their fullest is like asking our children to walk around with their eyes shut. The behaviour change seen in dogs that have been taught to use their nose when out and about is astonishing and it’s also an incredibly fun thing to teach from the human end of the lead too. Check out classes available at www.scentworkuk.com
Many dogs and their owners love agility, but my personal favourite here is doggy parkour or urban agility. This uses the environment as an agility course. It helps with dogs that are touch sensitive as it can make them body aware, it is good to encourage seeking behaviours and can promote confidence in those dogs that need a little help to go and explore. It’s free to do and can be a part of your daily walk, so it’s perfect for those with busy lives. Check out www.dogparkour.org for more information.
For further inspiration on dog agility, have a read of our interview with world class agility trainer, Dave Munnings.
Pet Gundog training
Pet Gundog training is another option, and any owner of a gundog breed (e.g. Springers, Cockers, Labradors and Golden or Flatcoat Retrievers) should at least offer this to their dog to try. The gundog world has made enormous strides in updating its training methods and encompasses pet dogs and owners, not just those that are serious about attending shoots. Find a positive trainer near you at www.gundogtrainersacademy.co.uk
Another fun activity is mantrailing. This is where you can teach your dog to search and track down a missing person. It’s huge fun and a great bonding activity as you hone your handling skills too. Check out www.mantrailinguk.com
Most of the above activities are also offered online until things return to normal, so there’s no need to delay getting started! Sign-up to a class now and try something new with your pet!
Written by Animal Behaviourist, Kirsten Dillon