Gemma's Blog

Loose Lead Walking With Two Dogs

Need some advice Koda and Sky walk OK individually but put them together and it’s a nightmare, both competing for front position. Its now not pleasurable to take both dogs out on my own. They do settle after about half an hour, by which point I have 2 red wrists and a bad back. To

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What If I Fail?

This is the unspoken question that I get asked a lot in my training classes. When I show someone a new skill for them to learn with their puppy or dog, I can see it written on their faces. “How on earth am I going to be able to do that? She makes it looks

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How To Save A Bad Training Session

It may surprise you to learn that even those of us like myself, your dog training instructors who you rely on for answers to your burning dog training questions – have bad training sessions too  What defines a bad training session? Well hopefully it would just be a bad session from your point of view

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What Was That Treat For?

The question every handler dreads me asking them  But regardless, I shall keep on asking when I see dubious behaviours being reinforced with food rewards. Because when we do this, we create a great big rod for our own backs. For example, perhaps you’re trying to keep your dog quiet whilst in a training class

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Christmas Party Extravaganza!

Date: Saturday 13th December 2014 Time: 7.00pm till 12.00am Venue: The Bridge Inn North End Road, Yatton BS49 4AU It’s almost that time of year again! We look forward to the Christmas party bash all year round – an opportunity to have fun and socialise in pretty clothes with some of our favourite people. In addition to

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Lifestyle Focus

How your dog spends it’s everyday life will have a big impact on how well-behaved (or not!) they are when you particularly want them to be – for example on the lead or coming back when called. And every family is different so your rules and expectations will be unique to your household e.g. dogs

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5 Top Tools for Gundog Training

Now I realise it’s not Christmas yet. But why does it need to be holiday season to think about all the goodies you can buy your dog?! Of course, gundog training can be started just with your dog and a tennis ball or a normal dog toy. However, there are a number of tools that can

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What Are You Working On?

As I sit here preparing for tonight’s Kennel Club Good Citizen Silver & Gold tests, it had me thinking what my own dog training goals and aspirations are at the moment. Now some of those are quite specific like the tests this evening – both Diva & Jade have their Silver certificates & rosettes, but

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Is It You Or Me?

I’m pleased to report that Kai’s injury is healing up well – a quick check-up at the vets yesterday confirmed it’s all headed in the right direction. His fear of fireworks is still hanging about like a bad smell though, but on the plus side it’s meant I have spent some lovely quality time with

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How To Keep Your Dog Safe During Firework Season

As you’ll have seen from my previous blog post, I’m not a huge fan of fireworks. But as there’s little point in stamping my feet and getting cross about the current regulations, I’m being proactive about how to deal with Kai’s fears. Here’s a list of some of the things that I will be doing,

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Frightful Fireworks!

At the risk of coming across as a killjoy, fireworks ‘season’ is one of my least favourite times of year. Not that I haven’t been to organised displays in the past and enjoyed some of the beautiful colours and shapes dancing across the night sky. I have, and would encourage anyone who enjoys fireworks to do

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7 Tips For Finding Dog Training Time

Believe me, I understand the problem. You’re full of good intentions and actually quite enjoy training your dog – but how do you fit it into your busy lifestyle?  😯 Don’t panic. It can be done without too much difficulty, it just takes a little thinking about and planning ahead. Here’s my top tips for finding

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What Do You Feed Your Dog?

During our annual visit to Crufts in March, I was astonished at just how many brands of dog food there are available these days. How on earth would a new dog owner choose with such a wide selection available to them??  😯 Over the years my family’s dogs and now my own, have been fed

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Why Your Dogs Heritage Is Important

I often wonder why breeders haven’t given much thought to breeding the ideal pet dog. A breed of dog that doesn’t require much mental stimulation, is happy with long or short walks, and is better adapted to longer periods alone than any of our current breeds. Because so far there isn’t a breed of dog that is able

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Top 10 Tips For Happy Vets Visits

This week I’ve spent a LOT of time at the vets – something which could be potentially stressful to some dogs. Fortunately mine seem to regard it as yet another opportunity to earn more high quality treats  It makes me sad when I see stressed animals at the vets, because it’s fairly easy to make them tolerable

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Dog Training

Staying Under Threshold

First off, what do I mean when I talk about ‘Staying Under Threshold’? Well basically I’m talking about that fine line between my dog being stressed or aroused but able to cope, and then the tipping point where they can’t cope and are just responding to a situation without being able to process information. For example

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Why Is My Dog Barking At People?

Last week I received a really good question from a reader of the blog about barking: My dog has just turned 1 and he has recently started barking at people when they walk past the window or when we are out and about. He used to love all people but in the last couple of

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How To Train A Reliable Retrieve

Retrieve To Hand Fetch is an oldie, but still a goodie. Many dogs enjoy chasing a toy, and being able to do that in conjunction with your human family as part of a game is a lovely way to enjoy a walk together. In order to play the game, our dog needs to learn a

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How To Feed A Raw Food Diet

I’m pretty sure one of the main reasons dry food continues to be the most popular choice for feeding our dogs, is the ease and convenience of being told that everything our dog needs is contained with its kibble. I discuss the pros and cons of dry food v. raw in more depth in this

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Go APE! Foundations for Success

Foundations for Success As a newbie to the world of Agility, I count myself incredibly lucky to have found a club that understands the value of introducing top-level trainers from day 1. Because I have access to those at the very top level of their field (Kathrine McAleese, Suzanne Clothier, Dave Munnings, and Dan Shaw

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How To Organise A Social Dog Walk

Organising a social dog walk can be a LOT of fun for all concerned. But there are a few things you’ll want to consider. 1. Who To Invite? In my experience, grouping like with like is a good way to go. Large, boisterous dogs who love to play don’t mix well with smaller, more fragile

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The Confidence Component

Knowing what your dogs drug of choice is makes up some of the dog training equation. But it isn’t the whole thing. The reason some dog owners struggle with training their dogs comes down to confidence – something that both people AND dogs suffer from. You may not believe it, but I have suffered from

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What’s Your Dogs Drug Of Choice?

I started my week in domestic goddess mode – baking up a fine batch of liver cake for my own dogs and those lucky enough to be in my classes  As I was washing up the ensuing mess, it had me thinking why I had made the effort – after all, opening a packet of

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Crates Or Prisons?

Recently I came across the following information about the use of crates in dog training.. Reasons Not To Crate In recent years there has been a large increase in the number of dog trainers and behaviourists that recommend the use of a crate to solve behaviour and training problems. The idea is that you introduce

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Avoiding Smelly Breath!

Much as I love my dogs, if they’ve just eaten something disgusting (namely some form of poo!) I’m not quite so keen to give them a cuddle! But of course that’s not the only reason that dogs develop smelly breath. The beautiful, white, shiny teeth they start with as young adults, quite often develop tartar

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Tug Rules!

Generally speaking I don’t think people play enough with their dogs. Or at least, when they do it’s mindless play and usually involves the dog dictating when and how it happens. This might be brilliant fun for my dog, but it would quickly bore me! Now in my humble opinion, every game should have a

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Job Satisfaction

If you’re struggling with an anxious dog – take heart. This beautiful dog is now doing very well at gun dog work, and she’s a real credit to her owner Michelle. I’ll admit, I’m feeling pretty proud of her myself after reading this.. I first attended Gemma’s classes in February 2013 with my 14 month

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How To Teach ‘Stop The Dog’

This training exercise is part of the Kennel Club’s Gold Good Citizen Award: Exercise 6 – Stop the Dog The object of this exercise is for the handler to stop the dog at a distance in an emergency situation. With the dog off lead and at a distance, not less than approximately ten paces away, then

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Bribery v. Reward

One of the main reasons traditional dog trainers dislike modern reinforcement based methods is because they believe we’re bribing our dogs and they won’t do things for us without us having food on us. The problem is, sometimes they’re right. Anyone familiar with the phrase “Ooh what’s this, what have I got?”…. A phrase usually used in

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3 Naughty Scenarios!

After my blog post ‘What do I do when my dog does something I don’t like?’, a few people wanted specific naughty examples – and there was I thinking all the dogs I teach were little angels  1. Recall Picture the scene. You’re in the local park and your dog has gone off to play

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5 Reasons Why Dog Walking is Good For You, Not Just Your Dog

This week I’ve been struck by just how important getting out and about with my dogs is for my mental health and wellbeing. Why particularly this week? Well because I’ve been helping my Dad learn how to use a mobility scooter for the first time, and watching him get back to enjoying spending time outdoors

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What do I do when my dog does something I don’t like?

First off I’d like to say the advice I’m giving on this topic is for people who have done a good level of training with their dogs, and can safely say that they’ve put the leg work in on teaching their dog to understand what’s expected of them. Before focusing on what you don’t like,

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Watch Your Mouth! Part Two

Once we’ve established what our verbal and/or physical cues for behaviour are, we then need to be aware of how many times we’re saying them. This is something my team and I cover in our puppy courses as this is a fundamental part of good dog training, and its very much our responsibility and not our dogs.

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