Some said it was a completely crazy idea! I’ve been a teacher for many years – secondary Head of Maths, no less! Prior to that I did audit and research in cardiothoracic surgery. So, to be honest, I kind of see their point.
But I found a passion. A passion for training dogs, and a passion for working with people who need help with their dogs as their experiences weren’t matching up to their dog owing dream – and struggling with dogs can be really painful and impact on our lives more that we could have imagined.
Did you know that fewer than 1% of people work every day doing something they are passionate about? So, regardless of the huge amount of work I’ve had to put in, the long hours, and the juggling of priorites it was an opportunity I just had to grab with both hands.
Hattie was the dog who started me on this journey. She came over from Romania in 2017 aged around 4. She’d had a tough time in the shelters there and came out with a surprisingly waggy tail, but there were still huge demons for her – she was a challenge!
One of the first things I did was take her to training classes, even though I worried she might be too nervous. She was amazing! She loved training and responded brilliantly. It was great and she really enjoyed the classes.
The training we did only really worked in the classes, in the training hall. It didn’t really transfer to real life. If I tried to take her for a walk we couldn’t get further than 10m down the road before the brakes went on and her tail went between her legs. So I went to some different classes and did some research myself. We started improving but she was really reactive to other dogs and to men, and at home she would bark and bark if I sat in the lounge with her – to the extent that I couldn’t really spend any time on my sofa relaxing.
I needed help!!!
So I decided to take matters into my own hands! I found Absolute Dogs who are still my trainers to this day, and decided to train to become a Pro Dog Trainer. I initially wanted more understanding of dogs, their training and behaviour so that I could help Hattie.
They taught me a different approach – very scientific and research based (which appealed to my research background and geekiness!), fun and focussed on getting real life results.
My life changed. Hattie became a dream to walk and we love our snuggles on the sofa. Now we have Dash as well who has come with a whole load more problems which we are working through – my training journey with my two will never be done and this is something I believe of all dogs, just as I believe with trainers and all people. Learning is never complete!
Once I realised I had found something I loved to do I started to take it seriously. I was so lucky to be given an opportunity to volunteer with another trainer which was fantastic. However by doing this I discovered that I wanted to train people and their dogs my way based on my training, my research and my background in teaching.
I wanted people who I worked one to one with to be able to understand why their dogs behave the way they do and why the methods we were using could work – but also that some methods might not work as all dogs are different in the same way all people are, there is no one size fits all. I wanted them to see that they weren’t just working with a dog, or a particular breed but that they were working with a unique individual and that getting real life results would be an exploration with their dog.
For my classes I wanted them to be small enough so that everyone got real attention and that what we were doing could be tweaked to suit each dog and owner. I wanted to be working with the owners so that the owners could work with the dogs – let’s face it that’s going to be 95% of the training and the way to get real results, so getting to know owners and being approachable for them is crucial for me.
And for both 121s and group classes I wanted to focus on the skills which would make a real difference to the owner / dog partnership – things like growing calmness, focus, confidence and proximity.
And once I had discovered these things I realised I had discovered my passion!
There was no turning back…