The Manners and Life Skills class is suitable for dogs of all ages. The course lasts 6 weekly sessions from Saturday 9th November at 10am. It is held on private land off the Fosse Way in Offchurch, CV33 9BB in a field. If it’s really bad weather we will move to Eathorpe Village Hall, 5 minutes away. The cost is £60 for 6 sessions.
This is a basic course to help your best friend learn how to easily live in our human world. Each block of six weeks will cover: sit, down, wait/stay, loose lead walking, off, hand touch, recall, emergency stop and settle. It is an outdoor class mainly so that it is as close to normal life as possible, but we have the option to move indoors if it is really bad weather. I like outdoor best as I find that many dogs don’t really learn well in a hall unless it is a purpose built barn. It also is easier for the owner and the dog to put into practice what they have learned when they are learning in a natural environment. However, it is winter and the weather is unpredictable, so make sure you dress appropriately, and have a suitable coat for your dog if it needs it.
The class will have a maximum of six dogs in it so that I can give you enough individual attention. Although there is a set of things we learn each week, each exercise will be tailored to you and your dog from beginner to advance, with lots of help on hand if needed. There’s no waiting around in these classes – you and your dog will be working for most of the hour, with as little time standing around listening as possible.
All courses will be held outside. If it is raining, we have the option of using the nearby Eathorpe Village Hall. I will email you the Friday before if we will be using this. In some rare cases, if this is not available, I will simply move it to the following week, and the course will continue for an extra week.
I will only be using modern training methods. There is no yanking, shouting or belittling here – not of human or dog! I am a member of the APDT, and I am currently studying with PACT to make sure that I am the best trainer I can be. Please take a look at my website for more information on this if you wish, or ask me if you have any questions.
The classes are outside. There is enough room for you and your pup to move and be safe. Although indoors does shield us from the weather, it’s difficult to give enough space that your dog can focus on you and not the other dogs. Luckily dogs are waterproof! If you need extra space, for example if your dog is nervous reactive, then we can accommodate this without disrupting anyone else, so please contact me if you need to discuss any special requests.
What do I need?
For your dog you will need:
• A lead. Preferably one of a decent length. No retractable leads please. They are designed to teach a dog to pull and can go wrong to disastrous results.
• A flat collar or well fitted martingale. I don’t allow choke chains or prong collars or e collars in my classes. If you currently use them I can show you ways of training and control that cause less pain or fear to your dog.
Additionally you may like to bring:
• A harness. I recommend that all dogs have harnesses to attach a lead to. Vets have found that plain collars and leads often damage dogs’ throats and necks, especially if they pull on the lead. A well-fitted harness will minimise this and make your dog easier to control. I particularly like Perfect Fit harnesses because they are well made, comfortable and will fit any dog, even odd shaped ones. I have a few harnesses to take a look at if you wish. If your dog pulls a lot, then I suggest a harness with a front end fastening and a double ended lead. Please don’t bring your dogs in collars, head collars or harnesses that are designed to tighten when the dog pulls. These will get in the way of the feedback you will need to give your dog.
• A halti or other headcollar type equipment is fine as long as it is well fitted and the dog accepts it. In most cases you won’t need to use these forever, but if for example you have a strong heavy dog and a small owner then these are a good solution.
• If your dog needs to wear a muzzle they are welcome in class. Well done for being a responsible dog owner to keep your dog and others safe. In this case I suggest you bring a tube of squeezy cheese like Primula or a tube of pate as they work well to treat a dog that wears a muzzle
You will need a lot of very small food rewards. When training new things you will want to give a lot of rewards quite quickly, and so having very small training treats is best. Best things to bring are what your dog likes the best. Some suggestions are:
• Cooked chicken is the gold standard of dog training treats. Most dogs like it, its low in fat, and best of all you can cut it up very very small. Your rewards have to be more exciting than the other dogs and the field to motivate your dog, and cooked chicken works
• Kibble – if your dog eats dry dog food I often take kibble to train with instead of feeding in a bowl. I would put it in a container with something more yummy – chicken or cheese or hot dogs – and then it gains more value than just boring old kibble
• Hot dogs / cheese – fattening but very very high reward. If your dog finds it hard to concentrate, these are the rewards for you. Cut up very small (think cubes less than half cm)
• Bought treats – are fine in a push. The wetter the more exciting, i.e. dried chicken, duck etc. work well, the milk bone types less well for most dogs. Dried sprats are very good if you can stand the smell.
• Carrot / peas – some dogs love these and will work well for them. If so, great!
Water and a bowl will be provided, but feel free to bring your own.
Outdoor clothing – for you and your dog. Wellies and a warm coat are essential in winter, sunscreen in summer. If you have a thin coated dog, then by all means bring their coats.
Toys, snuffle mats etc. – if your dog needs them as distraction, and then please bring them. Non squeaky toys please!
If you come to my classes there are some rules that we all abide by (me too!) for your safety and to encourage the best learning atmosphere.
• Dogs are to be on lead at all times.
• All poo to be picked up and put in bin bags provided at the end of the session.
• Please do not shout at your dog, or drag or haul him / her around while you are at class. It’s not best practice to do so anyway, and I will show you how to handle your pup without needing to. Shouting or rough handling can also upset other dogs present, even if your dog is used to it (and perhaps think about how this sounds as well). You don’t know the other dogs’ history (they may have been rescued or abused in the past and this sort of thing can very much upset them).
• When I talk to the group please listen and don’t disturb others.
• If you don’t understand an exercise, if it doesn’t work on your dog, or if you don’t know why we are doing something please please ask! It’s much better if you understand what and why you are doing something so that you can explain it to your dog! If you don’t get something, then usually someone else will have the same concern, so it does everyone a favour if you ask the question.
• Please save any issues that have come up individually for the q and a session at the end – that’s what it’s for!
• Please give all dogs space. Some pups are more easily distracted or upset than others so be aware and if in doubt give a bit more space.
• If your dog needs some time out to go to the toilet, or because it’s a bit overwhelming or they are tired, feel free to just take a little walk away from the group. We are lucky enough to have these nice big fields so please don’t wait to ask – do what’s right for your dog!
• Please respect yourself and your dog. Everyone will be at different stages, and pick up different exercises at different rates. Your dog isn’t stupid or naughty he just needs some time, and so do you! Classes are for you and your dog to take it at your own speed. There’s no judgement here, we are all learning (including me!).
• We are lucky to be invited to train near someone’s home. This is not public land, which means that we will not be disturbed. However, please be considerate to them!