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Achievements, announcements and reality

Apologies for not updating this sooner but it’s been a super busy and successful time here at Rixton Dog School, with many things to celebrate!

Firstly I’d like to say a HUGE well done to all who did their Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme awards, I’m amazingly proud of you all!

Bronze Award : Archie & Joe, Benji & Sue, Daisy & Amanda, Eddie & Dee, Evie & Sharon, Fiaraidh & Stephanie, Fred & Colum, George & Philip, Hector & Emma, Humphrey & Tegan, Indie & Matt, Jess & Linda, Oscar & Ann, Reggie & Polly and Xan & Faith

Silver Award : Arnie & Lucy, Betty & Tegan, Thomas & Marlene and Travis & Paul

Gold Award : Freya & Michelle, Freya & Sharon and Lily & Elizabeth

I’d also like to say an enormous well done to our very own Charlotte for passing year 1 of the COAPE Higher Diploma (Certa Level 4 Diploma In The Principles of Companion Animal Behaviour and Training). This achievement has now made Charlotte into a Behaviour Advisor and allows her to use the letters Dip.CABT (QCF4) after her name.

Whilst on the subject of achievements, I’m very pleased, and rather proud, to announce that I can now assess the Bronze Good Citizen Dog Scheme awards having passed a Kennel Club examiners course, so I’m now on the A3 KC GCDS list! I’m also on the committee for the Black and Tan Coonhound Club of Great Britain, and had our ‘making history’ meeting just this week, and very productive it was too!

Charlotte and I have also been on an intense and amazing course to further our knowledge and abilities to teach agility. This course has allowed us to start teaching a variety of agility classes which will benefit those who want to do agility as well as those who want to build a more solid relationship with their dogs as well as mental awareness and impulse control. More to follow on these exciting new classes!

Whilst it’s been a busy and successful time here at RDS, it hasn’t all been plain sailing and joy. A lot of people say to me that I’m so lucky to be doing this job and I must have very well behaved dogs! The truth of the matter is yes, I am very lucky and I appreciate that but no, it’s not all playing with puppies and happy endings. And as for my dogs being very well behaved, I usually just smile and change the subject!

I’ve spent thousands of pounds and hours on my education to keep up to date with research and methods so I can offer my clients the best I can, and I receive calls and emails daily with a range of queries. Rightly or wrongly, depending on the day I’ve had can depend on the response, if any, people will get! However, my top 3 “really?’” are

“We don’t want to come to a 1:1 or class, we just want you to tell us how to stop Pooch doing X,Y & Z” How am I to advise on a dog I’ve never even seen!? Would your GP diagnose something on the back of a description from a 3rd party!?

“We bought our puppy to you X years ago, we’ve another dog now and want to know if the new dog doing X,Y & Z is normal” Again, I can’t advise on a dog I’ve never met or a dog I haven’t seen for X years any more than a plumber or mechanic could diagnose and resolve an issue without seeing the problem themselves.

“Pooch has always hated other dogs since he was a puppy, he’s 5 now and our new puppy is coming at the end of the week so we need you to come out today or tomorrow” So, not only am I expected to drop everything else in my schedule but I’m expected to solve an issue that’s been going on for 5 years in less than 5 days!?

What a lot of people don’t know or see is that this job is, at times, emotionally and physically draining, upsetting and difficult. In being a trainer and behaviourist, I teach people how to train their dogs, which is awesome! But I can also be in the middle of a domestic when partners disagree with each other on the dogs issues or I’m that person who is called out to a dog that, in the owners words “is beyond help” Unfortunately, in some of these cases, my recommendations aren’t pleasant ones, as they could be to rehome the dog to a more suitable environment/home or to a more experienced handler or that the dog must be put to sleep. None of these outcomes are easy and all stay with me forever. Obviously I want to do what’s best for the dog and handler, so no decision is made lightly and alone, I always seek a second opinion from people I trust and respect, but even so, it’s not pleasant or easy to make such decisions or recommendations. In some cases the owner knows what to do for the best, but wants confirmation from me or the decision taking away from them, but even then it’s difficult. It makes me question what these poor animals have been through to be so damaged and depressed and it’s heart-breaking. Sometimes the behaviour is due to a medical condition, but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting for anyone and is a huge responsibility to all involved.

So, if you come to class, whether with me or at a different training school, please remember we’re only human and have blips and bad days and may have had a particularly challenging case to deal with. Remember these things and you’ll have a successful relationship with your trainer

You pay us a lot of money, so please listen to the advice we give. If you don’t agree, that’s fine! But please understand that returning the following week saying “a man in the park told us to do it this way” whilst scaring your dog half to death, will not be tolerated!

Pay us! Comments such as “we’ve booked a family holiday so are a little skint, can we pay at the end of the course?” will be met with a snort of derision! You wouldn’t as Sainsburys if you could pay for your shopping once you’d eaten it all would you!?

Enjoy the training and time you spend with your dog practicing and don’t get upset or blame us if someone else’s dog is progressing faster when they practice and you don’t!

Be realistic! In your expectations of yourself, your dog and of us!

Be kind! Be kind to yourselves, your dog, to everyone. You don’t know what struggles people are dealing with or battling behind the smiles.


Oh, and in answer to those who ask if I have very well behaved dogs, I’ll leave that up to you to decide!!

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