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My Blogs

Does Your Dog Pull On the Lead

Stop the Chase – How to help your high drive dog

I have been where you are

How to help your dog through their tricky teenage phase

When the nose knows – An Introduction to scent training

Trigger Stacking – Why teach calmness


Loose Lead Training

Does your dog pull on the lead? do you want a calm and enjoyable walk


When using positive reward based training, consistency is key to getting your dog to walk nicely on the lead and the effort is well worth it. 


Why it might not be working – What was your dog bred to do? Are they a hunting or working breed they have an outward focus? picture your spaniels, border collies and huskies. for example Do they find pulling naturally reinforcing? Is the environment more rewarding than being with you? Is your dog struggling with emotions? Fear? Excitement? impulsiveness? Unless we address the underlying issues training may not work


We don’t just teach loose lead walking – We need to teach impulse control, calm behaviours, frustration management so they can learn how to learn and proximity training. And build duration gradually.


We should always set our dogs up for success. Calm behaviours before we leave the house is important. For example, having good doorway manors even before we leave the house so they don’t explode into the outdoors. 


Dogs learn to be persistence and if we don’t train consistently the dog will learn that if he keeps pulling we will eventually give in and the more we practice, the sooner the dog will learn what we expect from them through clear but kind instruction, the better,. 


Sometimes its hard as life is busy and sometimes we just need to get somewhere but there are certain management techniques we can use to differentiate between training mode and not.


Rewards – We don’t work for free so we should we expect the dog to?  We look at what motivates the individual and let them choose what they want to work for. Is it a food type? Is it the way the reward is delivered? A toy? affection? Rewarding at the right time is important.


Equipment…..Collar? Harness? What type? Extender lead? Short lead? Long line? We can advise you on what works and what doesn’t.


There are many different exercises to teach the value of the dog being next to us as part of our one to one dog training, puppy training classes and various dog training courses. 



For further help – Contact

Stop the Chase

How to help your high drive dog

Image Courtesy of Mountain_Momma_Photography

Does your dog go deaf when he catches a scent? do you see his tail disappear into the woods at the sight of a deer? Are you getting dragged across a path by the barky end of the lead at the sight of a squirrel? Does your dog lack focus when out on walks? Does your recall work inside but not out in a challenging environment?

I’ve been there. I know how frustrating this is! Irish setters were bred to track long range. This means the breed is very independent and driven by their nose. Once he was nose down, there was no getting through to him and he would follow that track for as far as he could. He always came back…..hours later.

Prey drive is hardwired into dogs. Even the cute little fluffy ones. The desire to chase is there. Certain parts of the behaviour are more prevalent in certain breeds than others. Depending on what the dog was bred for certain parts may be bread out and other parts will be extremely reinforcing to him giving him a massive feel good factor.

See the difference between the predatory motor pattern Labrador and border collie where some parts have been selectively encouraged or discouraged.

prey drive

prey drive 2

(Pictures taken from PST Master Course ‘call off the chase’- By Simone Mueller)

This is when we discovered predation substitute training and learned how to go ‘hunting together’. We look to provide safe outlets for the predatory drive through various games and training protocols. This appealed to me as a force free dog trainer.

We allow dogs to practice the safe parts of the sequence that they find intrinsically rewarding  We look at management and prevention of your dog taking himself off to hunt, We look at ways to create calmness when around wildlife, look at the use of predation substitute tools and games, look at emergency cues and create a solid recall as an interrupter. 

This method reduces frustration and meets your dogs needs in a safe, force free way. 

I Have Been Where You Are

Does this sound familiar?

Does this sound familiar?

That feeling of frustration as your dog disappears into the distance yet again, seemingly ignoring their recall cue.

The embarrassment as your dog heads off in pursuit of something, taking no notice of what you are doing or saying.

Oh no! There’s a rabbit! And there goes your dog blindly chasing it, no matter how hard you try and stop them.

The stress and anxiety you feel not knowing how and when you are going to be able to get your dog back to you, or if they are going to get hurt.

It can seem like the whole world out there is more important, exciting, and interesting to your dog than anything you do or say.

‘Be more exciting’, ‘Don’t get mad at them’, ‘Use b

etter treats’, ‘Keep them on a lead’, ‘Don’t walk near wildlife’, ‘Try this’, ‘Try that’, ‘Do this’.

One thing is always certain, you will never be short of advice on how to manage your dog’s recall.

You begin to feel desperate to make things better.
You will try advice from anyone, in

 a desperate attempt to try and fix your dog’s behaviour. You will do anything to try and stop yourself from feeling frazzled and you just want your dog to listen to you. You may even reach out to a local trainer or behaviourist. They claim to be able to help you turn your dog’s behaviour around in a matter of hours.

‘Great’, you think, ‘this is just what I need! Sign me up!’ 

But what follows isn’t what you had hoped for. You are left feeling as confused as ever, and your dog is showing little sign of any improvement. They are still ignoring you, disappearing when they’re off-lead, and choosing to interact with just about anything or anyone, except for you.

The truth is, there are lots of different training methods out there to choose from. Likewise, there are lots of different trainers out there for you to work with. So, not every trainer, or every method will suit you and your dog personally. Some may help a little, others may not help at all, and some may even make you take backwards steps, instead of helping you to move forwards.

This is something I have had first-hand experience with, having tried lots of different methods and trainers with Paddy. Some of these choices were not right for us, and didn’t help us, some helped a little, and others had us feeling like we took one step forward and 10 steps back again!

I have been where you are.

I have felt how you feel right now. I have been in your shoes with my own dog. But, instead of giving up and accepting that Paddy’s behaviour was never going to improve, I researched kind, effective training techniques. This is when I discovered Predation Substitute Training (PST) and it was like the missing link I had been looking for all along.

Finally, instead of trying to battle against my dog’s urges to chase and explore, I learned how I could work with him to build a strong partnership together. He needed me, as much as I needed him and there is now nothing that we cannot overcome when we work together. And let me tell you, it’s a fabulous feeling to be on the exact same page as your dog, working towards the same goals.

Not only have these methods helped to make my dog’s recall more reliable, but they have also strengthened the bond I share with him in the process. Double win!

Finally, a method that makes sense for humans & dogs!

Instead of us behaving like the ‘fun police’ and always trying to stop our dogs from enjoying themselves, PST teaches humans how to become invaluable partners to their dogs. This makes it much more likely for our dogs to trust us when they need support and guidance, instead of them trying to handle things alone.

And this makes so much sense! When you think about it logically, why would your dog want to come back to you if they see you as the ‘boring one’ who ends all the enjoyment, when they could simply just continue having fun?

Would you run towards someone and embrace them with open arms, if they always made you feel scared and stressed when you were around them? Or would you carry on minding your own business, and doing whatever you can to avoid going near to them?


Let me help you move forwards.

They say, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ and this is certainly true when it comes to training your dog, which is why the PST training protocol may well be the key to a successful relationship with your dog, just like it was for myself and Paddy. This is why I incorporate my experiences into the training I offer today. It has inspired me so much, that I have made it my mission to help many other humans and dogs who are faced with the same issues as I was.

So, are you ready to lay the foundations for a happy, supportive relationship with your dog?

Get in touch today to see how I can help you.










How to help Your Dog Through THeir 'Tricky Teenage' Phase

How To Help Your Dog Through Their ‘Tricky Teenage’ Phase?

When my dog was a ‘teenager’ I really struggled to understand his behaviour. Sometimes, I could take him for a walk, and he would be really attentive and switched on. His training seemed to go to plan, he responded well to my cues, and he settled calmly in the house when we got home. Perfection!

However, on other days, his training seemed to fly out of the window; he wouldn’t listen to me, and would be spinning, mouthing and barking. Not to mention, he still seemed hyper when we got home, no matter how long we were out walking. for. I felt like all of our previous training had been forgotten and we had lost any progress we had made.

I had no idea how to explain this, and wondered where I was going wrong. Was I not exercising him enough? Were we not doing enough training? Perhaps I should change his food? Should we let him play with other dogs more? Or was there more to it – something I was missing?

So, I started researching and reading up on the things that could be causing these frustrating backward steps in his training and behaviour. Turns out, it was due to a mix of several different factors:

1. Trigger Stacking

Trigger stacking is when lots of small stressful encounters occur to your dog over a period of time. This stress then builds up continually, until your dog can no longer deal with things rationally, which is when problem behaviours start to surface.

It can be helpful to use an analogy to explain this. So, imagine every dog has a bucket. And, when something stressful happens to them, this adds water to the bucket. And when they do something relaxing that helps them to decompress, some of the water is tipped out of the bucket. Each encounter your dog has over the course of the day will either add water, or tip some out of the bucket, depending on if they find it stressful and arousing, or calming and relaxing.

Some dogs have tiny buckets, that fill up really quickly and others have much larger buckets that take longer to fill. However, when the bucket is full to the top, and something else stressful happens to your dog, the whole thing overflows in the form of undesirable and problematic behaviours. This is because your dog simply cannot handle anything else at this time.

It’s also worth remembering that your dog can accumulate stress from both positive and negative events. For example – being barked at by another dog, hearing noise from neighbours, being in new surroundings, car travel, being left alone, a bitch in season being nearby, arguments in their home, the sound of a car, chasing birds in the park, being approached by strangers, playing with other dogs, and many more! In fact, every single experience and encounter your dog faces, has the potential to add or remove water from their ‘bucket.’


These triggers can often build up over a few days or weeks, which raises your dog’s Cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and it can take up to 72 hours for levels to return to normal. During this period your dog will need time to decompress and unwind, so they are ready to face the world again. Without this, they can become more likely to overreact to things they can normally handle quite well, simply because their ‘bucket’ is already almost full before they set out.

Recognising Over Aroused Behaviours

Some dogs show active behaviours whereas others can switch off and shut down when they are feeling overwhelmed. Some examples of behaviours that may indicate that your dog is experiencing trigger stacking, heightened arousal levels, or is struggling to relax include:

  • Being unable to listen to your verbal cues
  • Not showing an interest in treats when outside of the house
  • Pacing and restlessness in the home
  • Whining, barking, lunging, biting, excessive mouthing, chewing, jumping up, or destructive behaviours
  • Reactive behaviours towards other dogs, people, other animals, etc when they have not shown this previously
  • Regression in training (I.e. not doing things they previously knew how to)

2. Hormones

Hormones often play a much larger role in your dog’s behaviour than you may realise. This is why I use the term ‘tricky teenagers’ because this can often be one of the most challenging parts of your dog’s life. Both for them and for you too!

Usually from around 8-12 months of age, your dog will experience a huge surge in hormones as they reach sexual maturity. This can be a huge thing for them to get their head around, because suddenly, they feel differently, meaning they may start to behave differently too.

It’s normal for them to experience urges to go off and explore the world more (which is why your recall may go out of the window for a while!) or they may start to feel a little more apprehensive about the outside world, and not want to go out of their comfort zone as much. They may also start to feel differently towards other dogs, and some may want to interact and play with dogs more, whereas others may not want to be around them as much as they did when they were pups. These are all normal parts of your dog reaching adolescence, and it is something you need to support and guide them through positively and not punish them for it.

What Can I Do To Help?

  1. Provide a safe quiet environment. A calm space that your dog can retreat to when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Consider whether they settle better in a crate or pen, or if they prefer to be close to you. Getting enough rest is essential to a dog’s ability to decompress and relax.
  2. Enrichment helps to combat over-arousal. Avoid high-intensity or repetitive exercise like ball chasing which can increase arousal levels. Instead, try stress-relieving enrichment ideas such as a ‘sniffari’. Two great books on enrichment are ‘Essential Enrichment’ by Charlotte Garner and ‘Enrichment Through Scentwork For Highly Aroused Dogs’ by Sally Gutteridge.
  3. Reward Calm Behaviour. Capture and reward relaxed behaviours. There’s a knock at the door and your dog does nothing? Reward them calmly. Another dog is approaching, and your dog does nothing? Reward them calmly. Focus on what you want to see more of!
  4. Let your dog know what you want. Use different cues to distinguish between times that you want your dog to focus and work and times that you want them to relax and switch off.
  5. Try the ‘Magic Hand’ game. This is a great way to capture focus and promote calmness, especially with anxious or easily distracted dogs.
  6. Be supportive! It’s vital that you support your dog kindly through their tricky teenager phase. Remember, their behaviour will not be like this forever, and you are not on your own!
  7. Don’t resort to aversive methods. This is crucial. Aversive and forceful methods will not help your dog’s behaviour in the long run. You don’t need a ‘firm hand’ or to ‘show your dog who is boss.’ Instead, you need to show them compassion, kindness and support.

For more help on how you can guide your dog through their tricky teenage phase, you could book a spot in my ‘Tricky Teenager’ class here ______









When the nose Knows

Adding Enrichment into walks

I live with a high energy dog and wanted to try scentwork to help focus his mind on training. We initially started with a cue word and food rewards for positive reinforment and used gun oil as the scent. after 30 min we ended our first session and he fell asleep straigh away! The aim is to eventually get out on a dog walk in Haigh woodland park and take this game with us.

Believe it or not, mental exercise can be as effective as
physical when it comes to tiring out your dog.  Canine nose work,  or searching for a specific scent or treat in different environments, can be a great way to give your dog a fun, mentally stimulating activity that can go anywhere you do, indoors or out.

Generally a half hour of intense nose work will tire a dog out more than an hour of fetchI

Sniffing is their super power. It can relax anxious dogs by providing an outlet for the natural foraging instincts and focus’s their energy on the job, calm boisterous dogs, lowers hyper-arousal, reduces stress, improves focus and gives your dog a job to do so he doesn’t go freelance following his nose on dog walks, builds confidence by encouraging independence and a sense of achievement. Sniffing exercises the brain and releases happy chemicals. It helps to strengthen the bond between dog and owner

scent work nose work
      Did you know?

·  A dog can detect the equivalent of one teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water – Thats two olimpic sized swimming pools.

· Dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses compared to our 6 million.

·    When a puppy is born they are blind and deaf but their sense of smell is fully intact. The newborn puppy relies on this sense to decipher the world they have entered and it will continue to do so for their entire lives

         ·  A dogs nose is 100,000 times more sensitive than ours.

         ·  Dogs smell in stereo – Each nostril can smell independently which means they can determine the identity of a smell but also identify where it came from.

     ·   When air enters the nose, airflow is separated into the circulatory system and olfactory centre process scent. The slits on the side of the nose alows old air to exit whilst new air comes in through the nostrils.This means new airand scent can be drawn in without coming into contact with or diluting the older scent.

     ·  A dogs nose can literally smell fear – It can pick up on the scent of adrenaline – The ‘fight or flight’ hormone. They can be trained as support dogs as they can be trained to smell anxiety attacks or other adverse events in humans. They can also ‘smell’ certain diseases such as cancer which leave specific odor signatures.

Dogwalker dog training puppy training Wigan standish force free dog trainer positive reward puppy trainer wigan WN6 WN1 WN2
Dogwalker dog training puppy training Wigan standish

Scatter feeding – simple but effective. This encourages your dogs natural foraging instincts, relieves boredom stress and anxiety, slows down eating, and gives the dog a job to do.

WHICH HAND A very simple game is to place a treat in one hand with a closed fist so your dog can’t see the treat and have them pick which hand it is in. If they choose the wrong hand, show them the treat but don’t give it to them. For a more advanced version of this, get three or four cups or containers turned upside down. Hide a treat under one of the cups and have them find which cup the treat is under.

FIND IT – While you are out on a walk, take a treat from your pocket and show it to your dog. Toss the treat into some long grass or brushes and have them find it. This is good to bring a little variety to your walks

Hide treats around the house.

Hide treats around the house in places they can access. Hide them at different levels so your dog is using both ground scent and air scent skills such as some on the floor and some on the arm of a chair or somewhere reachable but above their head height. let your dog in and allow them to find the treats.

Most dogs will keep going until they find all of the treats and know when there is no more. If they stop looking encourage them to find the treat until all are found and tell them no more when they have found them all. 

Lay a scent trail game

Without your dog present, lay a trail of small treats with a larger bonus treat at the end as a reward. Show your dog where the trail starts At first lay small trails until your dog gets the idea of the game. Eventually increase the length of the trail or leave a bigger gap between treats. 


Trigger Stacking & Calmness

Some days, I can take my dog out. He will be listening and attentive, his training goes to plan and he settles calmly in the house……… other days…….his training goes to pot, he wont listen, he displays behaviours such as spinning, mouthing, barking (or shouting at me) and zoomies………so I started reading about teaching calmness.

Trigger Stacking

Think of stress or arousal levels as a bucket with a hole in it.   Imagine some dogs have bigger buckets with bigger holes than others so they can handle situations and stay relatively calm. Others might be quite the opposite and when that bucket becomes full, they their breaking point quicker, undesirable behaviours may occur as a coping mechanism.


Dogwalker dog training puppy training Wigan standish force free dog trainer positive reward puppy trainer wigan WN6 WN1 WN2 Anxious reactive dog

Tension fear and excitement can build up through experiences. Stress can accumulate from positive and negative events that have accumulated over time. For example – barking or noise from neighbours, new surroundings, car travel, being left alone, a bitch in season, family arguments, , the sound of a car, chasing birds in the park, being approached by strangers, seeing other dogs. 

These triggers can accumulate over days building up cortisol levels and it can take up to 72hrs for levels to return to normal. During this period the dog will need time to decompress. 

Teaching calmness to your dog can help keep those arousal levels low so their stress levels don’t overflow. It can help in effect, keep lessen the contents of the bucket and make that bucket larger with a bigger hole.

Dogwalker dog training puppy training Wigan standish force free dog trainer positive reward puppy trainer wigan WN6 WN1 WN2
Dogwalker dog training puppy training Wigan standish force free dog trainer positive reward puppy trainer wigan WN6 WN1 WN2 Anxious reactive dog

Recognising Over Aroused Behaviours

Some dogs behave with active type behaviours whereas others switch off and shut down. some examples of behaviours that may indicate that your dog is experiencing trigger stacking, heightened arousal levels or is struggling to relax are – not listening and disengaging, not eating, pacing and restlessness, whining, destructive behaviours, lunging, biting and excessive mouthing and chewing, barking ect. One minute your dog may be watching a stranger walk past, the next he might be redirecting and fighting with your other pets.

A calm dog is a happy dog.

# Provide a safe quiet environment. A calm space that they can retreat to when feeling overwhelmed. Do they settle better in a crate or pen as their safe space? Getting enough rest is essential to a dogs ability to be calm.

# Enrichment helps to combat over arousal. Avoid high intensity or repetitive exercise like ball chasing which can increase arousal levels. Instead try stress relieving enrichment ideas such as a ‘sniffari’. A really good read is Sally Guttridge – Enrichment through scent work for highly aroused dogs.

# Passive calming activities such a scenting ideas such as snuffle matts, chews such as bones and treats, scatter feeding and puzzle feeders.

# Calmness protocol – capture and reward relaxed behaviours. – A knock at the door and your dog does nothing? Reward (Calmly). Another dog is approaching, and your dog does nothing?  Reward.

# Have a cue to distinguish between times that you want your dog to focus and work and times that you want them to relax and switch off.

Games (Absolute dogs)

Boundary games – Teaching a dog that they must stay in a designated area until released. This helps to develop impulse control and is key to working with reactivity.

Self-control games such as ‘Mouse’

Teach ‘middle’ or ‘side’ using a calming tone, steady movement and slow feeding.

Magic hand game – A way of capturing focus and promoting calm. A similar theory to teaching ‘watch me’ which can be a great focus activity especially with anxious or distracted dogs.

Figure of eight walking – Simply walking slowly and calmly on a loose lead in a figure of eight pattern without using food. It’s a fab way of calming in new environments.

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