Enlisting a Trainer – What Constitutes a Qualified Dog Trainer?

Enlisting a Trainer – What Constitutes a Qualified Dog Trainer?

Following on with the Enlisting a Trainer theme the million dollar question is the one that seeks to identify and define what a qualified dog trainer is?  Unfortunately, in an industry that is currently unregulated there is no current industry leading definition that is nationally recognised or accepted as being the leading qualification for the dog training profession.  Moves are currently being made by Lantra to raise skills and standards throughout the UK to provide National Occupational Standards for dog trainers.  However, at this time it is possible to set up as a dog trainer without qualification, accreditation, or portfolio.  It is important to point out that a dog trainer is not by default a dog behaviourist, at The Way of the Dog Ltd we consider that the two are entirely different areas of the industry requiring different knowledge and experience.

7848636_mSo where as responsible dog owners do we go for training?  As a starting point The Way of the Dog Ltd recommends that you seek to work with individuals who are members of recognised associations such as;

These are just some of the associations and organisations in the UK, this list is not exhaustive and is placed in no particular order.

Whilst such associations or organisations recognise the abilities and skills of trainers they do not guarantee the capability, knowledge, and experience of an individual.  Similarly, they do not necessarily recognise or promote individuals that may or may not be more qualified than others, nor do they guarantee results or ethical practice.  They do however give you a point of contact if you find yourself dissatisfied with the service that you receive from your chosen trainer who fails to acknowledge your discontent.  It is important to recognise that there are trainers who possess great skills and professional qualifications that chose not to be linked with any associations or organisations.

Professional and formal dog training qualifications generally comes from recognised professions such as Police Constabularies, Armed Forces, HM Customs & Excise. HM Prison Service, Search & Rescue, Guide Dogs, or the various service or medical detection dogs, to name but a few.  Trainers who have gained formal qualification through such professional services should be reliable, but again there is no absolute guarantee.  Some of the associations previously referred to such as the BIPDT offer practical training packages and examinations for potential instructors.Guz_Dog_whisperer_Bolton-014

Further consideration should also be given to working with those that have gained formal teaching qualifications or possess recognised qualifications in instructional techniques.  Neither guarantees that the dog trainer is a subject matter expert in his or her chosen field, yet dog owners can expect lessons and sessions that are structured and appropriately managed and delivered using good teaching practice.  Those that do not possess such teaching qualifications should not be regarded as unprofessional or incapable of delivering excellent sessions there existence is merely an additional consideration when seeking best professional practice.

The recommendation of others perhaps still remains a strong endorsement of ones qualification, but be careful as we all have different expectations and standards.  One person’s view of appropriate professional practice is another person’s dissatisfaction.  In summary take your time when choosing a trainer ask questions about qualifications and background and if unsure conduct further research.  A professional trainer will always be willing to offer up details of his or her background and experience and will be more than happy for you to conduct research.  A traumatic experience at the hands of an incompetent trainer can lead to untold emotional damage for your dog and incalculable financial expense to rectify.  Please contact The Way of the Dog Ltd should you have any questions about this article.

Related Articles:

https://thewayofthedog.co.uk/will-train-dog/

https://thewayofthedog.co.uk/how-do-you-choose-a-trainer/

 

Here Comes the Sun – Dogs Die in Hot Cars!

Here Comes the Sun – Dogs Die in Hot Cars!

It takes only a matter of minutes for you to lose your loving companion when left in the oven that could be your car!  The sun is out and it is beautiful, but the sun beating down on a parked vehicle with a dog trapped inside is likely to end in a horrendous death.  Depending upon the outside temperature it could take a matter of minutes before the inside of the vehicle is so hot that a dog will die an agonising and painful death.19382550_l

“Even on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly soar to as high as 120 degrees. Shock sets in as the dog’s internal temperature rises, and death can occur in just 15 minutes. It’s a gruesome, terrifying way to die—dogs struggle to escape the vehicle, often salivating heavily, losing control of their bladder and bowels, and clawing the car windows so violently that their paws become bloodied.” (PETA, 2013)

Dogs-DieNow that the summer has arrived it is fitting that we remind ourselves of how dangerous the sun can be to our faithful companions.  There is no sense in taking chances, a window left open sufficiently to allow some air circulation will not save your dog if the temperature soars, dogs can still die with the window open.  Each summer people take risks believing that their dog will be safe only for the unthinkable to happen.  The RSPCA report that they receive over 6000 calls a year concerning distressed dogs left in cars.

Don't Cook Dog PosterIn 2011 the Dogs Today magazine launched a “Don’t Cook Your Dog” campaign urging dog owners to join.  The Way of the Dog would like to take the opportunity to remind people of this campaign but more importantly to remind people of the need to protect their dogs from the effects of the sun.  A dog can start to suffer in as little as two minutes when trapped in a hot car; this can lead to damaged organs, brain damage, and death.

Protect your dog from the sun and do not leave it in the car on any occasion, there is no safe time limit, the only safe place is outside the car.

Attached are some interesting articles that relate to dogs being left to die in cars.  There is also a poster attached that you can download and publicise courtesy of Dog’s Today magazine.

Related Articles:

http://www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/dontcookyourdog/

http://www.peta.org/blog/spread-word-dogs-die-hot-cars/

http://www.vetsonline.com/news/latest-headlines/veterinary-practices-urged-to-support-poster-campaign.html

http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets/dogs/health/dogsinhotcars

 

Seb the Romanian Orphan

Seb the Romanian Orphan

This is the study of Seb the Romanian Orphan.  Seb and his owners are currently engaged in a training and behaviour project with The Way of the Dog Ltd.  Raised on the streets of Romania Seb learnt to scavenge for food and fight for survival.  A feral dog is an entirely different prospect than taking on a young puppy from a reputable breeder.  Below is the story of how Seb found himself with a loving family from the UK.

In late 2011, a tour across mainland Europe with the band Midas Fall took us (Seb’s owners Liz and Rowan) to Romania for the first time.  The Romanian leg of the tour began in Cluj Napoca in the west, onto Lasi in the north east and finally to the capital Bucharest in the south.

Throughout our time in Romania we encountered thousands of stray animals; dogs and cats lined the streets of cities, towns and rural villages.  The animals waited outside shops, bars, restaurants and even public toilets to beg for food and affection from passers-by.

The pain and suffering of the countless malnourished and often injured stray animals was very difficult to absorb.  The experience was so far removed from anything we had ever seen before that it became almost surreal.

After arriving back in the UK we decided that on our next trip to Romania we would adopt a dog – that dog was to be Seb.  He came to us quite by accident; an unscheduled stop at a service station on the outskirts of Lasi was the moment it all began.  Pottering around by the automatic doors was a tiny black puppy; his fur was matted, he was smelly, flea-ridden, had an eye injury and was clearly in need of a good meal.  However, in spite of his desperate situation, Seb was extraordinarily affectionate, playful and trusting – we knew he was a keeper.

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After scouting the area for other dogs, as he seemed very young to be alone, and checking with the service station attendant that he wasn’t someone’s mistreated pet, we decided to bring him home.  That night we drove to a hotel Brasov where Seb was treated to a bath, a hot meal and a soft bed by a roaring fire.

Seb 2The following day he was taken to a vet in Bucharest, where he was vaccinated, chipped and quarantined for three weeks before embarking on his journey to the UK, arranged with the help of Red Panda Romania.

Red Panda Romania is an animal charity based in Bucharest who work with various animal aid organisations across Europe.  Since the Romanian government issued a mass-cull of stray dogs in September 2013, Red Panda and other animal charities have worked tirelessly to stop dogs like Seb being slaughtered on the street or being left to die in ‘kill shelters’.  Of the dogs lucky enough to be saved the vast majority are adopted by people living in the UK.  Many of the adopters already have pets and frequently publish success stories showcasing how well the strays settle into family life.

In our case, Seb settled in very well with our other dogs and was comfortable in his new surroundings within a few days.  

Seb 4However, his harsh start in life had impacted him more than we had anticipated and it was clear that we’d need help raising him to reach his full potential.  A chance meeting with Shaun from The Way of the Dog led to us being taken on as clients and the next chapter of Seb’s story began.

In the next chapter of Seb’s story The Way of the Dog Ltd will explain how the relationship came together. 

Teaching Responsible Dog Ownership

Teaching Responsible Dog Ownership

During the month of February The Way of the Dog Ltd visited AIM Education, Stanningley, Leeds, to teach young people about responsible dog ownership and the impact that status dogs are having on our communities.  During both visits Olla was the main attraction with the young learners interacting with him at every opportunity.

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AIM Education is a new non-for-profit organisation, which has been set up to create opportunities to overcome inequalities and enrich the local community.  The organisation works with young people who are referred from schools, in need of a different educational route.

This particular dog project was a working collaboration between Carl Harrison (Director, Aim Education) and Shaun Hesmondhalgh.  Carl is a former member of the Royal Air Force Regiment and a former teacher and colleague from Bolton College.  A two pronged approach allowed this project to get off the ground with Carl securing funding from concerned stake holders and Shaun developing and delivering the workshop.

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The youngsters engaged from the start using their imaginations and their personal experiences to bring creativity and realism to the sessions.  They presented firm and responsible views on how dogs should be treated and provided real accounts about horrific and fatal incidents concerning status dogs.  The experience was enlightening and it was both interesting and concerning to hear the different views that the young people have concerning the motivations for owning a dog.

M1460009To conclude the workshop an obstacle course was set up and the learners challenged Olla to a race.  After much laughter and excitement the score finished 2 – 2 as the final run off was declared void due to shortcuts being taken by both the youngsters and the dog.  The whole workshop was a resounding success, a remarkable experience, and it was fantastic to see Olla, who has had his own emotional journey, interacting in a relaxed and comfortable manner with the young people of Leeds and Bradford.

The Way of the Dog Ltd is a professional training provider and dog behaviour consultancy and is able to deliver bespoke educational workshops to youth and community groups seeking to raise awareness regarding responsible dog ownership.  Please contact Shaun Hesmondhalgh at The Way of the Dog Ltd for more information.

The Case of the Feisty Welsh Terrier – Aggression Enhances Aggression

The Case of the Feisty Welsh Terrier – Aggression Enhances Aggression

Earlier this year I arrived home and found a note attached to my door.  The note was a plea for help and a request to contact the owner of a one year old Welsh Terrier called ‘Bailey’.  I immediately contacted the owner and arranged a meeting.

 

I met a lovely lady who was very distressed and at her wits end, ‘Bailey’ had been punishing her and inflicting nasty bites.  What surprised me was the fact that I knew this little dog and had no idea of the double life it was leading.  I had encountered her whilst out with my own dogs.  The dog that I had observed was a pleasant and confident dog, albeit one that was noticeably very independent.  However, I had no idea what was occurring behind the scenes.

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Following an initial consultation with the owner it soon became apparent that this was a situation whereby a dog was controlling the environment and more significantly the owner through physical force and aggression.  The owner had reached a crossroads and had no idea which way to turn.  This was further complicated by the actions of the dog walker and also guidance provided by a local trainer.

 

The dog walker held the view that all dogs should know their place and be put there physically.  Sadly, this is also still the view of many that operate in the dog industry; however there is a vast difference between calm effective leadership and physically forcing a dog into submission.  This position was further exasperated by the actions of a local dog trainer, who provided advice, guidance, and instruction that resulted in an escalation of the dog’s aggressive temperament.

 

A clear lack of knowledge, experience, and professional training, resulted in extremely poor advice being given.  The individual instructed the owner to tackle her dog’s display of aggression with a rolled up newspaper and charged her for the privilege of such outrageous advice.  Using physical punishment to deal with a dog already learning to be aggressive is quite simply a recipe for disaster.  Meeting aggression with aggression generally leads to one party getting injured and the intensification of behavioural problems.

 

This was a straight forward case of people misunderstanding how dogs learn and failing to recognise breed traits, if you fight a terrier there is a strong chance that it will fight back.  After all they are game dogs that were bred to tackle, badgers, otters, foxes, and other creatures once considered vermin.

 

‘Bailey’ had simply learnt to defend herself against anything that she considered unpleasant. However, she had also become accustomed to redirecting her pent up aggression on her loving owner.  She was being the dog that she was bred to be, fearless, bold, and game, but she was expressing her anger in the wrong direction and with significant consequences.  When she became intolerant or bored she became feisty and attacked her owner.  This was demonstrated through several unpleasant encounters that resulted in superficial injuries.  The position was untenable, the relationship damaged beyond repair, and urgent action required.

 

The owner truly cared for ‘Bailey’, but sadly she was unable to meet the needs or control the demands of her terrier and it soon became apparent that a new home was the only likely successful outcome for this young dog.  A new home would be a chance to start afresh with strong owners who understood the needs of the dog and more importantly could meet them.

 

Before attempting to find a new home the people who bred ‘Bailey’; were contacted.  They formulated the opinion that the owner was too soft and should take a firm stance with ‘Bailey’.  This opinion they formed without any observation or assessment.  They also criticised the owner for seeking external support from The Way of the Dog, but then stated that they would euthanize ‘Bailey’ if she returned to her breeding home.  The owner was heartbroken; she knew that she had to find a new home or continue to suffer the punishment from ‘Bailey’.  She could not support the breeder’s views or their suggestions of euthanasia.  She had tried her hardest to engage with ‘Bailey’, but the damage was done.

 

Notwithstanding all the unnecessary sadness, this case has ended well.  I can happily report that some months on ‘Bailey’ lives in a new home with new owners and other dogs to provide her with guidance.  The early days have not been without incident but she has slowly learnt to trust again and is progressing very well indeed.  Her new owners manage her carefully reducing any opportunity for her to practice being aggressive.

 

They have taken ‘Bailey’ very much to their hearts and have provided a stable home and environment in which she can now flourish.  Each week that passes is a step in the right direction and the new owners are committed to meeting ‘Bailey’s’ needs and maintaining a safe and structured environment.  ‘Bailey’s’ former owner is delighted that ‘Bailey’ is now happy and safe.

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From the many cases that I have dealt with the case of ‘Bailey’ epitomises the extent to which routinely treating a dog with physical force and punishment can lead to real and serious damage for both dog and owner.  It also highlights the extent to which damage can be caused by enlisting the services of poor trainers.

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