Over the last few years I have owned or looked after a whole range of dog breeds. From my beloved twin Basset Hounds to the clever lad I have now, Malc, the Border Collie. I may have experience in dogs of many breeds but it doesn’t make me an expert. Whilst fostering or looking after dogs you come across many traits that need to be fixed. Aggression? Recall? Or even just lead training amongst many things.
I do know somebody who is an amazing font of knowledge for me. A very well respected dog trainer and behaviourist here in east Wales by the name of Kathryn Jones, of Complicated Canines. I have seen her turn dogs around that a lot of people would have discarded. It is not just about training, it is also knowing the breed, what is going on in their head and harnessing their breed traits for good. She is also a great ear for me to ask any question I come across with my puppies.
Speaking of questions, I wanted to ask her some questions about her passion, her work and her background.
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Who are you and how did you get into dog training and behaviour?
I’m Kathryn Jones, and I got into canine training and behavioural work after deciding an office job just really wasn’t for me.
I joined a degree course at Anglia Ruskin University in Applied Animal Behaviour and spent my time between studying, and immersing myself in dog training. I joined dog training clubs as a spectator, then working up to instructor status, going to seminars and just generally working with dogs.
My big break came when I did work experience with a company training security and detection dogs. I was hooked, for me turning aggressive or totally out of control dogs into canines that help reduce crime was just amazing. So after I finished University I immersed myself again into the world of security dogs, and learned to train dogs that others had failed to tame and provide them with a direction in life.
I worked as a security dog handler for three years with my first German Shepherds and Springer Spaniel, and then got my instructors certificate. I stopped working nights, and started working with aggression cases in the home.
I kept up my behaviour study while working security and took on the odd jobs, but came back into dog training full throttle about three years ago and haven’t looked back.
I adore working on any dog training or behaviour issues, and the challenges it gives me to overcome gives me immense job satisfaction when we turn problem dogs into perfect pooches.
What issues do you deal with most?
Aggression towards dogs, or reactivity in general. My background in security dogs where we build in reactivity as a trait but under control has set me in good stead to do the opposite in family dogs.
By reducing the reactivity by training, looking into what the dog eats and how the lifestyle effects them. We can reduce and remove reactivity.
I also work with a lot of puppies, with owners wanting to get things started off right. Which is awesome, as I’m there every step of the way and coaching owners to get the best from their puppies.
How can a dog trainer or behaviourist help me?
Even if you have a small issue with your dog, such as pulling on the lead or no manners at the door, a trainer can help.
Why struggle with things alone? Getting professional help early into a training issue can make the difference between happy walks and pulling nightmares. Remember you’re going to have this dog for up to 12-15 years, why not get help in early. Reading online is ok but what I find it very hard to do it with your own dog when they think differently.
A good trainer or behaviourist will be able not only to stop your problem, but also help you build a better relationship with your dog by helping you understand them better.
Best advice you can give a dog owner?
Teach your dog to settle! On a bed, on lead, at your feet. Where ever! If your dog doesn’t know how to be calm for short periods of time then it’s difficult to live with. As a society were all go, but often forget our dogs are as well.
This go go go, peace, can cause behaviour issues, make having guests over a nightmare or popping to the local for a pint with the dog in tow a nightmare as they knock the table over trying to say hi to everyone.
I want to take my dogs everywhere with me, on holiday, to a pub, to a conference, anywhere. And they need to learn to settle to do that.
They also need to learn to settle so I can do my daily jobs and have a chill time after training. Calmness is key in dog training, and it’s something we overlook daily.