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.


aggression in dogs


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.