Dogs and Hot Weather

These sunny days are fantastic, they make us want to get out in the fresh air to enjoy walks and the outdoors and why not.

But what about our dogs?

Just because we want to go to the beach does not mean our dogs want to, especially in scorching sunshine, crowded noisy areas where there may be too much activity and stimulation. Although some dogs will enjoy it, many will not. 

Where I live I often see dogs walking at midday when the sun is at its highest. Dogs suffer in the heat more than we think, they can get overheated, sunstroke, sunburn and also some can have breathing difficulties, plus hot pavements can burn their paws.

In this great weather, why not take your dogs out in the cool of the morning, if they get a decent run you can leave them at home while you go and enjoy the day. Just leave them in a cool place in the house with water available.

Dogs are happy to snooze the day away as long as they have been toileted, walked and fed.

By all means have a good family day out, but sometimes your dog does not need the stress of a hot car, sitting in traffic and visiting very crowded beaches, forests etc.

Having the dog with you on these types of days can also be an added responsibility for you in terms of worrying about how hot they are getting. Just enjoy the hot weather with the family, have lunch and dinner out without your dog, most dogs will happily sit this one out in a nice cool house.

You can walk them again in the cool of the evening when you get home.

Summer does not last long in this country so leaving your dog home the odd day when it is just too hot to be out and about may be better for them in these circumstances.

Here is some information from Vets Now about heatstroke in dogs so you know the signs to look out for -

And remember, please, please do not leave your dog alone in the car in the hot weather, it can be fatal! 



What’s Coming Up in the Next Few Months

This year is an exciting time for us and our business development as we embark on more dog related events, training and educational courses and workshops.

We feel it is important to bring more quality information to fellow dog owners, as well as fun activities you can do with your dog and helping more people to understand canine behaviour and development.

In the past certainly when I started there were not many things to do with your dog or anywhere to go to learn about training and behaviour.

In the next few months we have lots of exciting events and workshops coming up.

We have a Pet First Aid workshop coming up with a new Northern Ireland based company, Furbabies First Aid, in which dogs can attend with their owners if the owners feel the dog would be comfortable being in a room with other dogs. We still have a few spaces on both the morning and afternoon sessions, here is the event link for more information on the event and how to register.

We will be hosting a Discdog three day workshop with Ruby from Clickertastic  and her dog Betsy, which my rescue dog Bill and I are excited about, he loves doing new things and if you have met him you will know that he is a happy and fit dog, willing to do most things.

We have one handler space left on the DiscDog three day workshop from Saturday 26th – Monday 28th May over the bank holiday weekend – here is the link to the event on our website for more details.

Also, this year we will again be welcoming back Tellington touch Practitioner Jetta Reis of Make Your Dog Smile who will be bringing back her ever popular TTouch workshop to Northern Ireland. Here is the event information if you to book your spot on this fabulous workshop – there are both dog handler and spectator spots available.

These events will be held at Smithvale Dog Centre in Glenavy where I teach agility taster sessions and canine enrichment workshops.

This summer there will be two more Open College Network Northern Ireland accredited courses.

First one coming up is the four week Puppy Development course, useful for anyone who holds puppy parties, puppy classes or are just interested in the subject of puppy development or even getting a puppy. Here is a link to information.

There will also be two of the popular four week Practical Dog Handling courses in July and August.  These sold out very quickly last year. This will be held in Mid Antrim Animal sanctuary training with the sanctuary dogs, which is beneficial to the dogs in the sanctuary as well as also teaching safe dog handling and teaching exercises. Email for information. 

There is plenty to do in the next few months so feel free to join the fun!

Also – in the next few weeks there will be a new online booking system being added to our website to make class booking more convenient for you all and we will let you know when this is set up. In the meantime check out our events page on our website for upcoming events information and prices and if you want to register for any of our events email



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Dog Friendly Tours in Belfast and Portrush

Ever go abroad and admire how well the dogs are behaved and marvel at them sitting in cafes relaxed and calm while the owners chat, eat and drink?

Well this weekend I took my rescue dog Bill on a Dog Friendly Tour of the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast. The setting was fantastic with the Dirty Onion having a 'Pooch Social', and an amazing festival with local food and drink. To cap it all the sun was shining!


At the beginning of the tour, we were asked to be mindful of stress in our dogs and to move away from any situation in which we felt the dogs were anxious. This was great advice so we were not giving the dogs a negative experience.

From my perspective as a dog trainer Bill and the other dogs on the tour settled very well, once the first meeting, greeting and sniffing was over they were happy to get on with the tour.

Belfast was busy with many people who asked if they could pet the dogs. I was pleasantly surprised at this as it seems the message is getting through about having manners around dogs. The dogs enjoyed being given treats by strangers, this was an example of good socialisation around strange people. 

We went to a selection of dog friendly venues, The Hudson, The Sunflower, The National and The Dirty Onion.

At each venue our Dog Friendly Tour host, Jo-anne, made sure we were all looked after with Northern Irish drinks, craft beers and excellent quality food.

The venues were friendly and welcoming and had treats and water for the dogs too, there was also plenty of space for the dogs to settle and rest also.

If you get the chance I can highly recommend these tours, the groups are small and manageable, good craic and everything is well organised. There is plenty of food and drink at each stop so you won't go hungry!

If your dog is comfortable in crowded places and around other dogs generally, it is good training for your dog if you are planning to take them on holiday or just into town for a while. 

I am looking forward to attending another Dog Friendly Tour very soon. 




Dog Training Classes Can Be Very Useful


I sometimes feel that dog training classes get a bad reputation with owners and their dogs stepping into the unknown. This can be stressful for both owner and the dog. After all you are coming to class to educate your dog so that your relationship is fulfilling.

There are plenty of good classes which are well managed, have a structure, a syllabus and useful content. There is certainly no need for harsh handling in class or any harm done to your dogs.

The classes I run are generally courses with the same group of dogs and owners and there is a structure of exercises and all the help you need.

There are different courses for different needs and ages of dog.

There are Puppy School courses for young puppies, classes for older dogs that may have missed training and coming soon we will run advanced courses for those who want to learn a bit more about their dogs and learn new and different skills.

There will also be a 'Very Different Dog Training Course' which will be a four week workshop in which we will teach you and your dog things not often taught in class, these will involve tricks, exercise, dog maintenance, scent work, settling, as well as different social scenarios, plus when you register you will be asked if there is anything you want us to teach you and within reason I will endeavour to include these exercises.

Our aim is for you is to have a well rounded and happy dog and for you to have new skills as a dog owner.

Our 'Very Different Dog Training Course' begins on Thursday 8th March at Glenvarna Christian Centre in Newtownabbey at 8pm, email to book your dog's spot. This particular course is not suitable for reactive dogs, we will have another Reactive Rovers course coming soon. 

Take a look at the list of our courses and events -




Enriching Your Dog’s Life

You will have seen a lot of talk about canine enrichment and many simple and cheap ideas of how to enrich your dog’s life around the home. These are fantastic especially with the weather so poor and the evenings so dark that we do not get our dogs out as much as we need to or would like to.

It is still important to exercise our dogs, for body maintenance and moving those legs.

Enrichment in the home is using the dogs nose to work for treats and also different ways for the dog to work and forage for food. The thing to be aware of is that the food used for enrichment should not be as well as dinner, it should be dinner, and it should make dinner time more exciting and more of a game.

The dog can snuffle in a Snuffle Mat, use a “Kong” or “Kong Wobbler”, search in cardboard boxes with toilet roll inserts, and even cake tins with food hidden under the balls in the cake shaped spaces.

This enrichment gives the dog good mental stimulation and you can set up these situations in and around your house. As long as everything you use and set up is safe, the dog will enjoy the different tasks and working out each different puzzle.

Mental stimulation is vital for dogs, it gives them a sense of pride, they are using their most powerful senses, scent and the brain, figuring out how to get the food.

It may also be important to help your dog figure out how to achieve some of the tasks or the dog could become frustrated.

Mental stimulation is as valuable as a walk to use up some energy.

Be inventive and rethink the things you use in the home that you can use to enrich your dog.

You can get some ideas and take part in our Canine Enrichment hours at Smithvale Dog Centre in Crumlin, there is one happening this Saturday 27th January at 1pm – please email to book your spot.

We also have two upcoming Canine Enrichment Hours at Glenvarna Christian Centre in Newtownabbey on Thursday 8th and Thursday 22 March , both at 7pm. Please email to book your spot at Glenvarna enrichment hours.


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Buying Puppies At Any Time of Year

A major problem with current puppy breeding practices is that puppies are being poorly bred.

This has been created by poor breeding environments like puppy farming, puppies bred in sheds or garages. Breeder’s ignorance of early socialisation and the puppy’s health and mental welfare are ignored or not taken into consideration, some are simply motivated by profit. 

Since puppy socialisation takes place in the first few days and weeks of a puppy's life, it is vital that to successfully integrate them into their new homes, the puppies need to be reared in good safe homes from birth. These homes will get the puppy used to people, household noises, sights and smells, all the things they will need to deal with throughout their lives.

These first 8 weeks will shape the puppies view of the world and can last for the rest of it's life.

It is also vital that the Mum is happy and relaxed and when you go and see the puppies you must see the mum, if she is happy and relaxed the puppies will be too and likewise if she is stressed and anxious or even aggressive it is likely the puppies will be too.

If possible you should see the dad as well to get an idea of how he is, if you cannot see the dad ask for as much information as possible on him and ask to at least see a photo.

Along with my colleague Sandra Gilliland, I am co-founder of a great information website Think M.E.G (M.E.G stands for Mum, environment and genetics) - all important considerations when buying a puppy from anyone. The information on this site talks about  good breeding and scientifically proven good advice to help you make your decision. 

Take a look at the Think M.E.G website and think about your decision long and hard as dogs are life long commitments! Please don’t forget there is always the very rewarding option to rescue a dog from one of our great local shelters which home dogs of all ages and breeds, yes even young dogs and puppies! Local shelters can help you find the dog in their care that best suits your needs and lifestyle and importantly they will know if you fit that individual dog's needs.

Our next set of Belfast 6 week Puppy School courses start on Tuesday 9th January 2018 at 7pm and also Tuesday 23rd January 2018 at 6pm. We also have a 5 week puppy course starting in Lisburn at Paws Doggy Daycare on Saturday 6th January 2018 with our trainer Ashleigh Spence. Please email to book your spot on one of our puppy courses.

All puppies must be under 20 weeks old at the time of the course start date and have had both sets of vaccinations to attend.

Always keep in mind the old saying - 'A dog is for life!' 




Welcome To Our New Team Member Ashleigh

I am pleased to introduce Ashleigh to our team. Some of you have met Ashleigh at my classes in Lisburn and Belfast, she has been working hard with us recently, regularly helping at classes and learning the ropes with consistent attendance and enthusiasm.

Ashleigh has also completed the accredited courses ‘Principles of Dog training and Behaviour’, as well as ‘Practical Dog Handling’.

Ashleigh also works in a veterinary practice and has completed courses on Canine Bereavement, Animal Care and Animal Health. These skills will add another dimension to our work.

Ashleigh also has lots of experience with dog fostering and with rescue dogs. She is the proud owner of two boxers Dave and Murphy, as well as a Mastiff called Winston and an elderly cat, Ellie.

Ashleigh will be a great asset, taking some of our classes and she will also be covering the North Down area for one-to-one training and behaviour work.

I am looking forward to this next chapter and excited for the future and continuing to work to bring our services and knowledge further to help you and your dogs.

To book a home visit with us please contact 




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Keeping Your Pets Safe From The Firework Season

Firework season is upon us which is a scary time of the year for many dogs with loud, sudden bangs going off unexpectedly which are enough to make the humans jump as well as the canines!

Dogs cannot be expected to like fireworks, some however do not mind them, some may tolerate them, whilst others are just petrified and some also develop their fear as they get older.

The dogs that are afraid can go to extreme lengths to be safe as their sole motivation is to get away from the noise, lights and vibrations.

The fear will cause some dogs to blindly run off, others will look for hiding places, whilst some will just shake and stop eating, drinking and refuse to go outside.

The management methods advised to help dogs at this time of the year, such as turning up the TV, pulling the curtains, etc, may not always be enough as dogs have acute hearing, plus there are also often vibrations which they can feel connected to fireworks.

As we normally only see fireworks at times of the year such as Halloween and New Year’s Eve, it is difficult to desensitise our dogs to this unusual irregular activity.

However, you could start now to try to desensitise your dog at least to the noise and the flashes of fireworks. There are various online videos on the likes of YouTube with clear sounds and flashes to help with this.

To start, play the videos at a low volume and if your dog is reacting see if you can play with him/her and distract their attention onto something positive. If they start to ignore the noises you can turn up the volume a little and play or distract with something positive, repeat this exercise, gradually raising the volume slowly and desensitising the dog to the noises.

You will then need to move the location of the source of the noise to different rooms around the home. Do not wait until the day the fireworks begin to begin the desensitisation training, you can start it at any time of the year.

If you cannot do any of this at least keep your dog safe by walking him/her early on in the day, keeping them on a lead, even to go to toilet in the evening as many will just run off to escape the noise. Never take your dog to a firework display as although they may not be crying or pulling to get away, they may be showing subtle dog body language that you are not picking up on to show they are distressed, such as lots of lip licking and yawning.

 If you have to leave your dog on his/her own to attend a fireworks display, ensure you have closed all your curtains and have left on some soothing music and have provided a safe, comfortable, indoor place for your dog to rest while you go out. If you return home to find your dog has been destructive or went to the toilet indoors, do not punish them as you will only make them even more anxious.

You could also speak to your vet about using the likes of Adaptil products, which contain a dog appeasing pheromone,  these may help promote a feeling of calm for your dog, or try out the likes of a Thunder Shirt or our Northern Ireland based Dog Ease Pet Suit which is not only great for a dog recovering from an operation, but can also help to calm an anxious dog.

On Wednesday 27 September, our friends at Dog’s Trust Ballymena’s Dog School are running a seminar for dog owners on how to help dogs cope with the firework season. Here is a link to information on how to attend -

Please remember to keep your dogs and cats indoors when fireworks begin and ensure all gates are locked to prevent dogs bolting due to fear from the unexpected loud bangs. 

Let’s work to keep our pets safe and as stress free as possible this firework season!




Forgotten Puppy Training Opportunities

Getting a puppy can be a very rewarding and fun time, however it is not always easy! Training starts from when you get the puppy home and there are two important opportunities we often miss out on.

The first opportunity we sometimes miss is early socialisation; this is because often puppies cannot go out until after their second vaccination. Socialisation is vital for puppies, however there is no reason that we cannot start immediately. You can safely carry them to different places like a park, to the local shops, around your neighbourhood, near a main road etc. Even take them out in the car to get them used to car travel, traffic noises as well as getting in and out of the car. This will give them a safe opportunity to get used to the outside world as well as have a puppy that is used to travel.

Another opportunity for training is teaching the puppy to spend a little spend time on their own. In real life someone cannot be with the puppy or dog all the time, it is vital that we teach them to be in a room on their own for short periods. Do it when they are sleepy, the room is comfortable and there is a bed and possibly with a soft toy.

Just begin by leaving them for a short period of time, gradually building up the length of time the puppy can be left alone, from ten minutes, to twenty minutes and so on. This exercise is very important as it can help to prevent separation problems in the future. Even if you work from home, it is vital to practise this early on by going out and giving your puppy that small bit of time alone. Of course it is not a good idea to leave a dog of any age alone for more than three and a half to four hours. You will also find toilet training a puppy very hard to conquer if you do not have someone at home to let the puppy out at regular hourly intervals during the day.

If you have to leave your puppy or dog home alone for long periods of a few hours at a time each day, it is a good idea to look into getting a relative to call in with your dog during the day to take it out for a walk and spend time with it. If you do not have someone to help you with this then you should look into employing a dog walker or dog daycare service to help in this area. However, even if you do this, please always ensure you make time for your dog each day to build that bond between you and to practise some training techniques.

The above exercises are important to give your puppy a good start in life and are as important as toilet training and all the other exercises you can train.

I myself am the regional manager in Northern Ireland for Puppy School. I teach Puppy School six week courses in Belfast and we have a few spaces left on our next course beginning on Tuesday 24th October 2017, email to register your interest. My colleague Louise Scott teaches the Puppy School courses in Mallusk on a Saturday, to register your interest in her upcoming Mallusk courses email

 All puppies must be under 20 weeks old and have both sets of vaccinations before any Puppy School course begins.

Puppy School courses are a great way for the whole family to take time out of a busy week and spend time together training your new puppy and building a relationship between you and your dog.

Enjoy your puppy, spend time with them, play with them, walk them in different environments, have fun training with them and be patient with them as they will be part of the family for many years to come.




Dog Whispering

Dog whispering brings a magical connotation to dog training and behavioural modification. It is like it is a secret talent that only a few have. It leads us to believe that training and behavioural issues can be magically solved.

Yes they can be solved but this takes time, encouragement and patience.

Training can be teaching dogs to perform exercises like recall, walking on a loose lead, waiting when asked, even the likes of giving a paw and fetching.

If anyone has taught their dogs these exercises they will know how much time and effort it can take to train these or any new ones.

The best way to train is using positive reinforcement, this is the greatest, non-threatening, relationship building training method there is. There is no whispering involved, no magical solution, just good training following small steps together and working to a plan to achieve your goals.

Behavioural problems are usually attached to dog’s emotions, mostly around fears like the fear of being left alone, the fear of noises, people and other dogs.

Behavioural issues cannot be magically ‘whispered’ away, but desensitising and counter conditioning are the best methods used to help with these problems. The solutions take time, consistency and patience, and despite some claims there are no fast solutions.

In my work I can guide you and demonstrate the work you need to do and give you a plan that you and your dog can work together to follow. It is then up to you, the owner, to continue the training path we begin in order to achieve the end result.

I am always on hand to help you with any areas you get stuck on or to help move the exercises on and to aid the on-going progress to achieve the desired results.

There is nothing magical, nor is there any whispering involved. My role is to point you in the right direction and to help you to improve the quality of life for you and your dog, and this in turn will also help to strengthen your bond together.

If you would like to make a one-to-one appointment with me in regard to any dog behaviour or training issues that you and your dog are facing, please email to book an appointment and we can look at ways to help you and your dog to work together to overcome these problems.

As summer draws to a close and the dark nights start to creep in, please make the effort to stay active with your dog every day, be it through walks, training exercises at home, training classes, or brain games and scent games in the home. Let's always strive to build on our bonds with our dogs and to keep them happy, active and stress free!




Interested in learning all about dog behaviour? Sign up for our latest accredited course.

Sandra Gilliland and I will be teaching the third of our popular Principles of Dog Training & Behaviour’ accredited course starting Monday 25 September. The ten week course is accredited to level three standard through the Open College Network NI. It will run Monday evenings 7-9pm.

Previous students include the likes of veterinary staff, sanctuary workers and volunteers, dog walkers, doggy day-care and kennel workers, and also dog owners / dog lovers wanting to gain an in-depth knowledge about the theory behind the areas of both dog training and dog behaviour. Previous courses have seen students travel from all over Northern Ireland to attend, from the likes of counties Down, Fermanagh, and Derry~Londonderry.

 This course in particular involves students doing independent reading and completing a few assignments throughout the course.

Some main topics that will be covered and discussed include:

- The development of the domestic dog

- Proven scientific dog training methods

- Canine body language and calming signals

- Dog behaviour problems and how to deal with them

The course will take place at the Skainos Centre on the Newtownards Road in Belfast, however two of the weeks of the course may be covered at another location TBC to allow students to do some practical dog training as part of the training topic of the course – which always proves a big hit with the participants.

Although the course involves assignments and reading throughout the ten weeks, past students found this useful in order for them to make personal time in their busy lives to read around course topic areas by examining literature from the likes of Dr Sophia Yin, Raymond Coppinger and Laura Coppinger, Karen Pryor, Patricia McConnell and John Bradshaw.

 Previous students also got time to engage in a lot of class discussion with fellow students and enjoyed exchanging ideas with the rest of the group and meeting fellow dog training enthusiasts in Northern Ireland.

Sandra and myself also get a lot out of teaching the course and enjoy the class debates and seeing the students’ knowledge grow from week to week, we’ve even got to see some past students go it on their own to become fellow dog trainers.

If you are interested in signing up for the course please email for information on costs and for a registration form.

Final deadline for registrations and deposits is by Friday 8th September 2017.

This is a great opportunity to make some time in the week to study in a classroom based environment with like-minded people and tutors on-hand to offer assistance.

I hope to see some of you on the course on 25th September.


Practical dog handling students July 2017


Fun Events With Your dog

We hope you are all enjoying the Summer months with your dogs. We are endeavouring to bring you the latest information and training techniques so that you and your dog can have the best relationship possible.

Last week we finished our first accredited "Practical Dog Handling" training course with the next one starting this evening. Thanks to Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary for letting us work with their wonderful rescue dogs, if you are looking to re-home a dog why not pay them a visit.

I did the first of my Why Does My Dog Do That? talks in the series at Paws Doggy Daycare in Lisburn, with another one coming up at The Murphy Pack - Canine Leisure Centre in Dungannon on Thursday 24 August at 7pm – tickets can be bought here.

We also ran a Tellington Touch Workshop with Practitioner Jetta Reis from Make Your Dog Smile, which filled up quickly and was very well received with plenty of dogs and inspired spectators enjoying the day.

In September we will be starting the next Open College Network NI level three accredited "Principles of Dog Training and Behaviour” ten week course. This is an intense course involving lots of external reading and the production of assignments on topics learnt over the ten weeks. It also examines aspects of dog training and behaviour, puppy socialisation, how dogs learn and play, dog body language, teaching training exercises, and covering various behavioural issues. This course may be of interest to dog owners and people working in the canine industry, such as groomers, doggy day care staff, Vet staff, dog walkers, trainers and sanctuary staff.

We have Kerry Rhodes from Rhodes 2 Safety back again to do a Canine first Aid workshop at Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary on the evening of Friday 15 September, tickets can be bought here. This is always an entertaining and very informative evening useful for dog owners and people working in the canine industry.

There will also be a four week Canine Scent Workshop coming up in October, details of this will be released soon on our Facebook page. These events are all to bring you more information on how your dog works and different techniques to help you train and build and maintain a good relationship between you and your dog.

We are continually working away in the background bringing new events and workshops for you and your dogs.

If any of you know of any venues that would allow us to train dogs indoors let us know so we can cover more areas in Northern Ireland, or if you want to organise a talk with myself on your premises please get in touch.

Thanks to all who have attended our recent events and to Adeline in my team for her organisational skills.


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Canine aggression – why do dogs aggress?

Recently I taught a seminar on canine aggression for members of the public at Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary, the event had a great turnout.

The main areas discussed were:

  • Why dogs aggress
  • How to prevent it
  •  How to recognise it and;
  •  How to manage it

Why dogs aggress

Dogs do not attack without provocation, there is always a reason or motivation. Aggression can be motivated by fear, such as a fear of losing resources and can be used to make things go away that are perceived as a threat.

Dogs can also aggress due to frustration, perceived invasion of territory, to protect their young, or to push forward their own interests. There can be dog to human aggression and also dog to dog aggression.

There are also now problems with aggression in puppyhood often with puppy farm dogs that are taken from their Mum too early who did not learn from her, learn from play with their siblings, or were not socialised properly by the breeder. See the Think MEG website for further info.

We must remember that aggression is NOT dominance and can often be the last resort if a dog feels it does not have another choice. When a dog is in a fearful or aggressive state they will have a poor ability to remember anything or to learn properly. 

Dog body language

It is vital that all dog owners get to learn how to read dog body language. Most dogs will show a series of body language signals, or calming signals as a warning before aggressing.

The sequence is usually as follows:

1. Stiffening of the body

2. Growling

3. Baring of teeth

4. Snap

5. Bite

Find out more about dog body language and calming signals from international dog trainer Turid Rugaas website.

Let’s get proactive

Dog owners need to get proactive with their dogs by:

Recognising what is triggering the dog’s fear

Preventing a re-occurrence of this circumstance where possible

Managing the fear/triggers with training such as a slow programme of desensitisation.

Remember that sudden uncharacteristic signs of aggression by a dog may be pain related, so always have your dog checked over by your vet to rule out a medical problem.

Get to know your dog well and always give your dog somewhere safe to sleep and go to when he/she is feeling tired or wanting some alone time.

If you are having problems with your dog being aggressive with humans or other dogs then seek out help from a qualified dog behaviourist - I can help in this area.

If you would like help from me with this problem or any other issues you are having with your dog email to book a home visit.

Keeps an eye on our events page for news on any other upcoming dog events that we are organising, such as the TTouch event happening in August with Jetta Reis from Make your Dog Smile.




"Always moving forward - just like in dog training" 

When you are training your dog, you get to a certain point when you and your dog are making good improvements, we encourage you to move the exercises on by reducing the rate of rewards, teaching the dog to work a little bit harder for the rewards, and also looking for different types of rewards, like praise and playtime, (not just food).

We are moving our training forward too, as trainers and behaviourists we are going to different courses, seminars and conferences this year, learning new ideas to bring to you and your dog.

Like training your dog to have a better recall, we are training ourselves to bring you a more extensive service.

In the background we are working hard to bring you new classes, training exercises and we will be presenting new talks and workshops covering different aspects of dog training, behaviour and welfare.

If you would like to host a talk by ourselves at your business / venue please contact Adeline at

The subjects will cover the most common behavioural and training problems, why they happen and how to solve them using kind and affective methods, for puppies right through to adult dogs.

Remember to keep up the training with your dog over the holiday period, this can be indoors or outdoors. Be it mental stimulation games at home with puzzles, even making your own puzzles for your dog using cardboard boxes and treats for scent work, or maybe some outdoor agility time with your dog, either one-to-one or in a class setting. Check out Smithvale Dog Centre in Glenavy for agility bookings, including my own agility taster sessions.

I hope like us you keep improving your dog training and we will keep improving the service.

Keep an eye on our events page for news on our future plans and keep up the positive training!



Congratulations to our Dog Trainer and Behaviourist Students" 

Congratulations to all the students who have just completed our second OCN NI level three accredited, ‘Principles of Dog Training and Behaviour’ course. The idea for the course is to help those who want to become professionals broaden their knowledge or just gain a better understanding of modern dog training and the methods now used.

The course explains dominance theory and why we do not use it, the development of the domestic dog, socialisation of dogs from puppyhood, understanding how dogs learn and how this affects their behaviour, and the use of positive training methods. There were also opportunities for practical training sessions with some obliging dogs who were happy to work with our students for some tasty rewards.

The 10 week course was very intense and involved both theory and practical learning. The students got time to research various training and behaviour areas during class time and through their assessments and personal study. They also enjoyed exchanging ideas with the rest of the group, which resulted in a lot of discussion and debate. The students from both sets of the course worked extremely hard throughout and achieved great success.

The advantage of writing and teaching these courses is twofold, both Sandra and I enhanced our knowledge through coming together to plan out the classes and assessments and sharing our years of knowledge and experience with the students, and it also was interesting to hear the thoughts and ideas of a group of people who have canine welfare at the heart of everything they do.

To continue with the educational side of things we are hoping to present a practical course in the summer and another 10 week course later this year.

There will also be other events, talks and courses coming up in the next year so keep an eye on our Facebook page and the events page on our website so you do not miss anything.

We ourselves will also be attending talks and conferences over the next few months across the UK and Ireland.

Let’s all keep up our continued personal development, whether it be through attending courses, reading and continued training with our own dogs.


 “The last ten weeks have been so worth it. I've invested in myself which I haven't done in a long time and now I'm a qualified level 3 OCN NI accredited Dog Trainer, specialising in positive reinforcement training.

"To say I'm happy is an understatement. It has added to the list of services I'm now currently providing in my city, and I ain't stopping there!  The course tutors are respected dog trainers and behaviourists Robin Bates and Sandra Gilliland, get in touch with them if this is something that would interest you, I can't recommend them enough!”

- Gary Griffiths, owner at Pet ChauFFURS and recent student of the Principles of Dog Training and Behaviour course

"The course though intense, was extremely enjoyable! I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a career with dogs, or even to those that just want to improve their knowledge of man's best friend. Robin and Sandra are excellent tutors with a friendly, helpful approach and are always willing to help out. Looking forward to further courses in the future."

- Ashleigh Spence, recent student of the Principles of Dog Training and Behaviour course


"Exciting Changes." 

This week we announced the addition of our new team member Adeline. I am really delighted to have Adeline on board. Adeline is a person who cares passionately about all animals and their welfare so she will fit in perfectly with our ethos. I for one am looking forward to this exciting new chapter.

Adeline’s role will be to make sure the business runs smoothly, take bookings ensure good service and help organise events. This will free me up to learn new skills, develop more ideas and train more trainers. This will ensure we can provide an even better service for you and your dogs as our team expands.

Continued professional development is vital for any business and it does take time to carry out research, attend seminars, develop ideas and introduce these to our services. I am excited about the improvements, changes and events we will be introducing in the future.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page and website for upcoming events.

Contact Adeline on for information on our services and wish her well.

In the meantime enjoy the longer days with your dogs, there is no excuse not to gradually extend your walks with your dog and when possible make them a bit more interesting by taking your dog to new places for a good explore.




"Forgotten Puppy Training Opportunities." 

Getting a puppy can be a very rewarding and a fun time, however it is not always easy, training starts from when you get the puppy home there are two opportunities we often miss out on.

The first opportunity we sometimes miss is early socialisation; this is because often puppies cannot go out until after their 2nd vaccination. Socialisation is vital for puppies however there is no reason that we cannot start immediately. You can safely carry them to different places like a park, to the local shops, around your neighbourhood, near a main road etc. Even take them out in the car to get them used to car travel, traffic noises as well as you getting in and out of the car to go into a shop. This will give them a safe opportunity to get used to the outside world as well as have a puppy that is used to travel.

Another opportunity for training is teaching the puppy to be on their own. In real life someone cannot be with the puppy or dog all the time, it is vital that we teach them to be in a room on their own for short periods. Do it when they are sleepy, the room is comfortable and there is a bed possibly with a toy or chew.

Just leave them for a short period of time gradually building up the length of time the puppy can be left alone. This exercise is very important as it will help prevent separation problems in the future.

The above exercises are important to give your puppy a good start in life and are as important as toilet training and all the other exercises you can train.

For more information you can contact me.

Enjoy your puppy!



''The best Job in the World"

Welcome to my new website, I hope you like it, if you have any comments please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Thank you Julie at Stray Illustration for your patience and good work and Kevin for some of the pictures.

As a Dog Trainer my main aim is for my dogs and yours to have the best life they can. I am not perfect and neither are my dogs but we do have a great time. I like to make sure their needs are met, their welfare is maintained and they are happy.

Through my work I want to help you & your dogs work better together & most importantly enjoy each other. I feel I have the best job in the world.

When we take a dog into our home we need to remember we are responsible for their lives and welfare. Before taking on a dog we need to ask the question do we have the time for them, can we commit to exercise, socialisation and training.

Taking on a dog is a commitment for the lifetime of the dog and we need to do the best for them. Always remember if you need help there are professionals like myself who can help you.

We also need to think about where we get our dogs from, consider the abuse and suffering in puppy farms and the quality of life of the mums never mind the health & behavioural problems the puppies may come with. Always research responsible breeders.

I hope you enjoy your dogs but please get in touch if you need help or advice.

Thank you for reading.