A friend of mine asked what she needed to get for her first puppy, a question I have answered a lot over the years.

I found that as I was talking to a friend and not a client I wanted to respond slightly differently and tell her what not to get, or in other words the items I would put in the dog training Room 101!

Or I may just be growing into a grumpy  old woman, or hang on, I am one! 

  1. Extending leads
  2. Ball chuckers (whats is wrong with people’s arms and backs that they can’t bend to pick up a ball?
  3. Puppy toileting pads! 
  4. Plastic pooh bag carriers that attach to the lead
  5. Leads with plastic handles
  6. Dog harnesses for adult dogs that connect the lead behind the shoulders only
  7. Play mats and any scatter feeding tools or just scatter feeding in general
  8. Leads that double over and have numerous clips and options on length
  9. Tit bits in tupper ware pots
  10. Dog owners that go to parks and other dog areas to meet up with a crowd of people with dogs and then let the dogs run amok!

And in case you are interested this is why! 

  1. Extending leads

Most people buy them because they are the most expensive lead in the pet shop and kept behind plastic, therefore you are just falling for the marketing! 

Secondly they have hard plastic handles! Just not nice to hold, let alone if you catch hold of the thin rope as your dog pulls, perfect for rope burn!

Having a dog on one maybe okay unless you come into contact with anyone else or another dog or the dog catches sight of a bird/rabbit/cat/ deer and lunges suddenly to the end of 5 or even better 10 metres, fastest way to be pole axed by a dog! 

Walking a dog on one by a road! Why? Why would that be a good safe plan, even if short how easy it is to hit the unlock button, let alone having it extended by a road, it doesn’t matter how well behaved the dog is it takes little to distract them or you and they can be under a car! 

The best reason in the world not to use one is they actually teach dogs to pull! There is tension in the lead and every time they pull away they get to go further! That is the fastest way to teach a dog to pull!

2. Ball chucker

The only legitimate excuse for carrying one of these is to fend off strange dogs whose owners can’t recall them or are on their phones and haven’t noticed the dog is bothering you or even better hope you and your dog will entertain their dog and wear it out for them (because the only reason they walk their dog is to tire them)!

Whats is wrong with people’s arms and backs that they can’t bend to pick up a ball? Why is it good to make your dog run hard and fast over and over, why don’t people want the dog near them playing, where it is safe and you are in communication having fun together! 

3. Puppy toileting pads! 

If you want to teach your puppy to toilet indoors use them! 

4.Plastic pooh bag carriers that attach to the lead

You should be holding the lead handle and adding weight to the dogs lead makes the dog more aware of the lead and therefore hinders off lead training.

5. Leads with plastic handles

hurt my hand and ditto number 4

6. Dog harnesses for adult dogs that connect the lead behind the shoulders

With puppies this is fine, we want them to feel safe and secure, we may have to lift them in the air to keep them safe and attaching the lead at the back is the best place. However adult dogs, if we want them to walk with us and not tow us, the lead should be attached at the front of the harness, by being at the front of the dog you can turn them faster and keep attention more. 

7. Play mats and any scatter feeding tools or just scatter feeding

Why would this be called dog enrichment? I get that kids need iPhones and iPads but dogs do not and anything that encourages people to entertain their dogs rather than spend quality time with them! 

8. Leads that double over and have numerous clips and options on length simply create problems. People generally spend way too much time extracting the lead from under the dogs legs, a job the dog is totally capable of doing for himself, but they cannot with a double lead! On top of that they twist and bend all out of shape! Please just buy a nice 4 foot lead! 

9. Tit bits in tupper ware pots. If you are training your dog, by the time you get the titbit out of the pot, the dog won’t know what he is getting the treat for! Or the owner doesn’t get the lid back on and spills the lot on the floor. If you are truly training your dog properly you need much easier access to tit bits! 

10. Dog owners that go to parks and other dog areas to meet up with a crowd of people with dogs and then let the dogs run amok (oh and that’s because they want to wear the dog out again!)! The dogs become a pack and terrorise anyone who wants to walk their own dog on their own without company.

Remind me why do people get a dog?


Friday evening and I met a friend for a meal in a dog friendly restaurant and my Papillon puppy Moose came along. At the restaurant my friend and I are happily catching up chatting and eating, Moose on my lap keeping his head down being a good boy, when the dog from the next table decided to join us, a cute Chihuahua, not on a lead. What followed was like a comedy sketch, the dog would not return to his owner, she called him over and over “Alf Alf Alf come here Alf,” broke off her attempts to catch him to chat to us, explaining what a lovely dog Alf is, asking about Moose and explaining to us that Alf was coming over because we had a dog with us, (so now it seems our fault her dog is at our table) we meanwhile are still trying to eat our meal and chat though now also trying to help her get the dog. Moose sitting on my lap watching calmly, at one point the woman was crawling under our table to retrieve her dog, the tables were in booth arrangement we couldn’t move the table or chairs as they were fixed, we did our best to push Alf toward her. Finally she got him and returned to her table! But we weren’t done, three more times Alf returned, at one point the woman asked if Moose was okay with other dogs, as I had kept him on my lap, yes I said he’s fine thank you! I chose to ignore the unstated question that Alf obviously wanted to meet Moose and she wondered why he couldn’t! At no point did the owner put her dog on a lead, he wasn’t even wearing a collar!!

I know that it was me that was actually behaving in an unusual way, my behaviour was not at all English, was it? The woman did not do anything a million other dog owners wouldn’t have done. In fact her behaviour is probably more acceptable to most people than mine! I know that my friends and clients are more likely to see things my way, but most dog owners wouldn’t. Most dog owners would think me unsociable and unfriendly like this lady thought I suspect!

Happy memories from Betty and Bronte’s puppyhood and a younger Pie!

Avril Munson's Blog

Betty had a busy week with Smarty her brother visiting one day and the next Bronte, the Border Collie puppy that Annie has waited 6 years for(see Bronte’s story), coming over the next day! I like my puppy to meet up regularly with the dogs and puppy’s that she will be meeting throughout her life, that way they become part of the extended pack, which makes my life easy whenever they meet. These are the dogs she can enjoy a social life with, not the strange ones in the park that we might only meet once! As most of my friends are dog trainers or at least train their dogs properly, I can also use these dogs to train Betty how to behave with other dogs. That means no rough games are allowed and Betty has to recall to me in the middle of the fun, ensuring she learns to…

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Take your time!

July 29, 2013

This morning, as I was putting my horse’s head collar on, I found myself starting to rush, as he turned his head away I went after his head, it was like I was being pulled around just to put on a head collar! I stopped, I would never do  that with a dog, any dog! I slowed down and waited for Red to settle down, every time he moved his head I stopped. It took a while, maybe 2 minutes at most to put on his head collar with no fidgeting, not forever, just a little time for me to teach him so that tomorrow the process will be quicker, but if it isn’t I will slow down again!

He doesn’t always do that, he was impatient to get out in the field, he knew what was coming next. Just like a dog knows he is going for a walk and gets impatient and fidgety! Next time your dog fidgets around as you put on the lead or collar, just slow down take your time, take as long as it takes. By bring down the adrenaline in this way your whole walk will improve, it will be worth it, let me know how long it takes you next time you put a collar or lead on your dog!

Red, my nephew Mac and Doyle (son of my Teddy!)

Red, my nephew Mac and Doyle (son of my Teddy!)

I went into see Mark Punter at the Chelmsford studio to record my top dog training tips for his show this week. Mark will play one each afternoon, on Friday I am there for a live phone in! you can listen again on the iplayer if you miss the show on Friday! So no excuse. There is one top tip per day and I chose them this time from my clients suggestions, so your fault if you don’t like them :). I would really appreciate it if you can listen in and if you enjoy the show go on the BBC Essex Facebook page and let them know you like me please? That’s if you do!

As I arrived who should I bump into coming out the front door but Batman! I took a photo, not the best sorry, but wanted you to know I wasn’t making it up!!

You never know who you are going to meet!

You never know who you are going to meet!

Can you please send in some silly photo's for the blog?

Can you please send in some silly photo’s for the blog?

Not that I think little Roxy looks silly, I was just looking through my dog photo’s and I have plenty of winter theme photo’s but not so much summer ones, maybe we can jog the weather along if we get summery!!

My tip for today was prompted by 2 of my clients yesterday, in separate lessons, both of whom will remain nameless! If you have a powerful dog on the end of the lead you must always stay aware of where the dog is and how you are holding the lead. I caught both my ladies holding the lead over one finger, yes one finger! Both complain of being dragged and having difficulty holding on their dog, not surprising is it?!

Always think power position when holding the lead, that means keep your feet apart for balance, and both hands, if possible, on the lead, but never less than one hand!

Posh puppy!

Posh puppy!

Toby (Betty baby) after a trip to the grooming parlour! Doesn’t he look gorgeous?! Lee is doing a great job of training Toby too, I can’t say too much or the rest of the litter will be jealous, but isn’t he handsome!?

My new puppy group reminded me to talk about titbit training today, my favourite analogy for titbits and puppy training is imagine you are paying the titbits into a bank account, every time you ask your puppy to do something without a reward you are making a withdrawal, with young puppies it is easy to become bankrupt, that is the puppy starts to ignore you! I always want to have a million on account! 🙂

Radio, snow and dates!

January 23, 2013


With Steve Scruton leaving BBC Essex I did wonder if I would still get an invite as I would guess the show must be having a complete freshen up, new brooms and all! I did wonder if the sound advice would survive but I am pleased to report it has, though it will be different. Mark Punter the new presented came here this morning to record some top tips, it was really strange to be doing that at home, maybe it was because we were in the living room in front of the fire and not in the work room! (see below for times)

I have had Bonnie staying this week, Jo has been in India, soaking up some sun, though she did say on Facebook that she looked like a red lolly pop as the humidity was so high! We haven’t suffered with that problem  this week!

Thanks to Janice for  the photo of Riley enjoying the snow, he is so like Bonnie, she has looked just like that most of the week, not wanting to come in from playing with her Mum in the snow!

Here are some training dates, as normal all groups have a maximum of 5 dogs and handlers!

Recall training:

Taking place here at Bury Farm

  • Wednesday 30th January recall (beginner to intermediate dogs and handlers)
  • Saturday 9th Feb recall (advanced training for the more experienced amongst you, you do know who you are, if in doubt do ask me please?)

Group walk training:

One of these will be in Hylands Park the other to be confirmed according to demand, either Dunmow, Bishop Stortford’s Thorley Park or the Discovery centre on the A130 near Braintree.

  • Wednesday 13th February walk
  • Saturday 23rd February walk

BBC Essex Radio

You can hear me on Friday 1st February

A new format on BBC Essex Radio, with Steve Scruton off travelling the world and Mark Punter in charge, you can hear a dog training tip from me daily next week, culminating with me live in the studio, answering dog questions from listeners, on Friday between 2.15pm and 3pm, if you miss the show you can always catch up on the iplayer for the following 7 days!

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013



photo photo(1)

Betsy, Bonnie and Jess! Oz came too but managed to not get in a photo!

I wish you all a very Happy, healthy and prosperous new year and may all your dreams come true!

I have enjoyed my time off playing more with my horse who always manages to remind me about my dog training! It is so good for me to have him as my hobby and in some ways he is more of a pet than my dogs! I often hear myself thinking or saying Red wants to go out, Red wants more hay, Red wants to pull his carriage today etc. In fact I sound remarkably like my clients, who fortunately often know exactly what their dogs want too! All of which is fine as long as we get what we want as well!

I am lucky that with my horse I am aware that if Red kicks the stable door to get my attention or to speed me up in getting his food, that if I respond to his demands his behaviour would get worse, and even in time he could break out of his stable door. I remember Betty doing something similar as a puppy when she very cleverly started carrying her food bowl round near feed time, I was very impressed and fed her, before long her bowl was whizzing past my head across the kitchen, it was then I realised that I must not be so impressed!! It took a some self-control to not respond to her demands, I so wanted to laugh as the bowl landed on the worktop beside me!

Remember this year it is great to know what they want, but be sure you only respond to the behaviour you want to encourage! Happy new year!



Riley growing fast!

Riley growing fast!

Riley’s Mum Janice kindly sent a great photo of Riley, and apparently he has become a rug designer, Janice now has a fringe on her rug, what a great idea:)

Thanks also to Rob Whitten for sending me the following link, do have a look how they are training dogs to drive in New Zealand! Probably enough room and little enough traffic out there to make it possible!