Yesterday my dear Black Rock chickens Doris and Dodger were the victims of my neighbour’s dogs! What did they do to deserve being butchered in their own pen? Nothing, they aren’t even afraid of dogs, they are used to my dogs being around them and not bothering them other than to eat there pellets, they were even more helpless than less socialised hens!  I feel terrible, it happened to creatures in my care, they were my pets giving me eggs to eat in return for safety, food and care. At least I thought they were safe!

One of the worst things is my neighbours reaction was denial, these dogs have never killed they say. How would they know? My sister has found them wandering loose on the road and taken them home on 3 occasions. I have found them in my garden and rung them to come get them home. At Christmas the Labrador came and had a go at Pie over the fence, luckily someone is always close at hand even when my dogs are out in their own garden and a worse event was avoided!

If a dog is out of sight it is likely learning to hunt! Hunting doesn’t happen overnight it takes many days practice, a lot of hours off lead. Some take longer than others, some are more natural hunters. If a dog chases any other animal or bird, eventually it will get lucky and catch one, the next step is they will kill it, once they kill they will get faster and better at the job, it is what dogs do! Two dogs together are even more effective; they can corner and kill very fast.  That is how packs have survived for centuries. It’s not like this behaviour is weird or strange, it is what untrained dogs do! It is what they had to do in the wild to survive, but we can control them!

2 weeks ago I told my neighbours  their dogs had killed one of the hens, I didn’t find her body, I saw the dogs flush her out of my paddock into their land, she didn’t come home! Just because there was no evidence I could offer they argued and denied the event. I heard them calling the dogs for several minutes, they couldn’t see them, and they assume all is well!

Please don’t be an Ostrich, we do not live in a Disney film, dogs are real animals, and if you ever forget it bad things happen to remind us. My hens are dead, they won’t be back but maybe just maybe a few people will read this and change their behaviour and that of their dogs and some other pets won’t die as a result, you won’t find your pet mutilated in its own garden!

Dog don’t just change overnight, it may seem they do, but learning is a process, when a dog catches, kills, bites, other creatures or people they have been practicing for some time and no one intervened! Please intervene, even if it is just to pass this on to someone who needs to hear this today!


Harley hits the spa!


Suffering in the name of beauty!


Wasn't that worth the effort!

At the Thursday class we got talking about how as people we either like to do things that come easily to us or conversely the hard stuff! I found it interesting that the group thought that I would have found dog training easy from the start, which is why I do it for a job! The reality is that it was the opposite for me, I found training my first dog and second, really challenging! That is what hooked me, as soon as I got good at competing with my dog my interest in competition waned! Teaching on the other hand is always challenging, whether is is getting inside the head of the dog or the handler, to find our way through to sucess! Next time you are feeling frustrated that your dog is not progressing as fast as you hoped or expected, just remember that is why I have a job still, lead training particularly takes real dedication and hard work, if it were easy everyone would be able to teach a dog or a person how in 5 minutes!

I believe the reason I am like this is that I am fascinated by learning, I ask myself what can I learn from this, how can I change this behaviour to what I want? If you can develop a sense of curiosity about why your dog is or isn’t doing what it does, you will start to open your minds to the information you need to succeed! So next time you feel like giving up, stop and consider how interesting this could be for you? ! 🙂


Fun Agility x 3

For anyone wanting to enjoy some fun agility with your dog!

16th – 23rd – 30th April –

Time: 6pm – 7pm

Or a day of agility

May 19th

Times: 10am to 4pm

Avril on BBC Essex

Steve Scruton sound advice phone in on dog training and behaviour

April 18th 2pm – 4pm

Recall Training sessions

These 2 and a half hour sessions focus on lead walking and recall. Foundation training takes place in the safety of the fenced garden at Barbary Cottage, once the building blocks are in place we take the training to the outside world, the paddocks and fields surrounding Barbary! There are a maximum of 5 dogs and handlers in a group.

Times: 10am – 12.30pm

Wednesday May 9th

Saturday April 14th

Dog behaviour/psychology course (Theory course without dogs)

For those that want to know more about how the dogs mind works and what they are thinking!

Date: Saturday April 28th

Times: 10am to 4pm

Training day 

A full day devoted to training your dog, whether you are keen to improve your dogs general obedience or are interested in trying some obedience tests this promises to be a fun day out with other dog lovers!

Monday Times: 10am – 4pm

Fee: £75 includes tea/coffee

Venue: Barbary Cottage

Date: June 18th

Some great dog photo’s

February 22, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thank you to everyone that has been inspired to take photo’s and send them to me! I love to get your photo’s, I think I have a few more in my inbox to come next time! Do keep them coming, I am looking to up date photo’s on the web site and in my new brochure!

As I write this the sun is shining and I feel a touch of spring in the air, very different to when the snow was here just the other week! Great dog walking/training weather, no excuses this week for those of you at classes!

We have a dog problem in a nearby village that has come to light this week, there are 2 dogs in their garden, as yet young dogs, that are getting very upset at horses going passed. They may be the same with other animals, but it is the horses I have witnessed. My fear is that they will come over the top of the fence, one of them is hanging over the top of the fence and barking, the other is running up and down and banging against the fence. As young dogs I can see they are getting braver and more wound up. Sadly the owners are feeling very defensive of their babies, I do understand, they feel it is the dogs garden and they are just doing their job. As a dog trainer, I, of course, see it as a garden that belongs to the owners that the dogs use, and anything passing on the road is on the road, not in their garden, therefore not their business. My guess is on a good day, the owners would not want their dogs behaving as they are, but they probably don’t know the dogs behaviour could be changed, and presently are defending their babies. I guess we have all been in that situation at some point, if not with a pet then maybe a child?

To be honest I have even taken a defensive position on something I have done, even though I eventually admitted my mistake! Let’s hope they see things differently before there is a bad accident!

If there is one thing that would help all dog owners is if other dog walkers respected that dogs on the lead need to be left alone! This poster, sent to me by Sue, sums this up in a fun way!

Contact me if you want this poster emailed to you for posting near you or passing on!

Happy new year! To ensure your dog training gets off to a great start come to the training day in January!

 My new years resolution

Lucky and happy christmas! (I think)

My dog training wish for the new year is for us all to educate the dog walkers out there, to realise it is not okay, for their completely strange unknown dog to run up to ours and hope they get on!

This means I want all of you to explain to every dog owner you meet, that a new dog is a new pack and dogs take 14 days to establish pecking order, if they are never going to meet again, why would anyone even consider risking a dog getting bitten.

As soon as I hear the word hope in a sentence connected to dog behaviour I get worried, “hope” translated, means “I don’t know, but I hope it will be okay”. Good training is about learning to read dog body language and responding accordingly, the dogs tell us without risk, if we take time and space to let them, making for knowledge rather than hope!

In the latter months of 2011 I heard of more and more dog on dog attacks, in Highlands Park and from clients in Villages around me, these can be made rare occurrences by educating the dog owners out  there! If we all resolve to take action this year we can change this human behaviour!! Please help me?

Feel free to copy any part of this blog and forward to other dog lovers!

Thank you!

Thank you to the many who have subscribed to my blog  and more thanks to those that have taken time to add their comments! I have put the blog stats up so that you can see who you are! if you hit the subscribe button on the site it does help me to get my word out there even more, as the number of subscriptions and hits does mean higher ranking. So please do so if you haven’t already?

My best wishes for a happy, prosperous and peaceful new year!

 Dates for 2012

Training day 

A full day devoted to training your dog, whether you are keen to improve your dogs general obedience or are interested in trying some obedience tests this promises to be a fun day out with other dog lovers!

Monday Times: 10am – 4pm

Fee: £75 includes tea/coffee

Venue: Barbary Cottage

Date: January 16th

Avril on BBC Essex

Steve Scruton sound advice phone in on dog training and behaviour

January 20th 2pm – 4pm


Recall Training sessions

These 2 and a half hour sessions focus on lead walking and recall. Foundation training takes place in the safety of the fenced garden at Barbary Cottage, once the building blocks are in place we take the training to the outside world, the paddocks and fields surrounding Barbary! There are a maximum of 5 dogs and handlers in a group.

Fee: includes Tea/coffee £50

Times: 10am – 12.30pm

Wednesday January 25th

Saturday February 4th

Dog behaviour/psychology course(Theory course without dogs)

For those that want to know more about how the dogs mind works and what they are thinking!

Date: Saturday March 24th

Times: 10am to 4pm

Fee: £75

Tricks  Workshop

Date coming soon!

Fun Agility x 3

For anyone wanting to enjoy some fun agility with your dog!

April – Dates and time to be confirmed

Fee: £75 (for 3 sessions)

A dog attack|

April 22, 2011

Below is an account sent to me of a nasty incident when one of my clients was out with her dog. This experience is made even worse by the fact my client wishes  to remain anonymous as she is afraid that the dog owner may be dubious enough in character to pursue her, plus the police are taking action. I look forward to hearing your comments?

I have written a summary of what happened to my dog and I a few weeks ago just to make you aware that there are dangerous dogs running about off lead and that you need to take care.  I cannot mention too many details for legal reasons but I hope that it is enough for you to understand that you need to be aware.

Whist out walking my little dog with a friend and her dog we decided to go to a local nature reserve as we thought that it would be nice for the dogs to investigate somewhere new ( I do not usually go to these places on my own as I have been previously worried by dogs running around off lead with owners nowhere to be seen).  We had just entered the reserve with our dogs (both on leads) along a path which opens up to a large green space with trees and a pond.  As we turned the corner my friend shouted good god and as I looked up I saw three large dogs running towards us with no owner to be seen, before I knew it the big dog went straight in and bit my little dog with no warning, she then yelped so I remembered very quickly what I had been told by Avril on a course which I had done last year.  I immediately kicked the dog off and managed to pick up my little dog and put her under my arm all the time I was making growling noises as I thought that this would make him stop and go away.  It didn’t he came straight for me,  this was a very big dog biting at my arms and with his paws on my chest I can still see his face in mine.  My friend was screaming at the owner who had just appeared to put his dogs on leads.  I didn’t realise until later that the other two dogs had been scratching at my legs and trying to bite (my friend told me the next day) thank god that I didn’t know.  I think that it all happened so quickly that I did manage to blank bits out) I found the evidence the next day on my legs.  When the owner did eventually get them on leads he walk off.  By this time I noticed that my little dog was bleeding and that I needed to get her to the vet immediately.   It was not that far to walk and on the way the police came to hand and helped us.  When I get to the vets my vet  took her to be seen straight away as he was worried about the depth of her injuries.  When they sat me down and took my jacket and jumper off they found that I had also been bitten I think that you are so shocked that you switch off and don’t feel a thing.  I got away with just a tetanus injection by my little dog sustained a big bite to her back for which she had to have stitches and scratches to her body thankfully she did not have internal injuries which was the main worry.  The vet told me that by picking her up I saved her life as this dog could have quite easily killed her.  My dog has made a remarkable recovery thank god although I think that I will take a little longer to heal as the threat of something like this happening again is scary to say the least but like all experiences in life we learn from them and I hope that by telling you my story it will make you think and ultimately keep your precious  dogs safe.

At last signs of spring and today sunshine, snow drops and lighter nights coming! Isn’t life good!

I had a client last week, a lady and her a very good-tempered dog. I will not make it possible for you to identify her, other than to say this is a lady who I would say had good social skills, has taken time and trouble to train her dog and I am sure would think herself a very responsible dog owner. As a general rule when being consulted on any dog behaviour I have to get a picture of the dog overall and the lifestyle of my clients, it  is a big help when people are open and free in describing how they live and train their dog, as this owner was! It was a piece of this information that I wanted to share with you all and get your thoughts and comments please?

My client described how her dog would come to call generally very well, was social with other dogs and a pleasure to walk. The only time my client had any issue on walks was at weekends when there were likely to be walkers out without dogs, as on these occasions her dog would not recall and would often approach and bark at the people walking. Not that she would bite, in my client’s opinion, her dog was not behaving aggressively! On one occasion my client was shocked at one woman screaming in response to her dog approaching her and her walking partner, and informed the woman “there was no need to worry as her dog would not hurt her”. The only response was the walking partner waved a stick at the dog to deter her from getting any closer, my client was not pleased to have her dog frightened in this way.

I would love your thoughts on this, what would be your reaction in similar circumstances?

On my current behaviour course we were discussing the law in relation to walking our own dogs, and the difficulty of other people, with dogs off lead and not under control, bothering our dogs and how offended people can become if we don’t want to have their dogs jumping on ours, when the law entitles anyone to walk  without being accosted in a public place. So if you feel threatened by someone elses dog on a walk, the law is on your side, not all dog owners recognise that their dogs behaviour appears threatening to others, when in fact it is!

For those of you who would like to know your legal position here it is:

Important legislation is:

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, which is further amended in 1997

Control of Dogs Order 1992

Dog Control Act 2008 – parts of which are still yet to be enacted

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

Section 3 makes it a criminal offence for anyone to own a banned breed; Japanese Tosa, Pitbull, Filo Brasilera, Dogo Argentino, or any such cross-breed. (exceptions if permitted by court to be registered, muzzled in public etc).

The Act is extended in 1997 for dangerous to mean any dog in England or Wales that is dangerously out of control. This can mean that a person is in reasonable fear of being injured. The offence is aggravated if a person is injured. This can also extend to other dogs. However, in this Act covers only in a public place (anywhere where the public is permitted to have access). So if you are trespassing or in a friend’s garden say, this Act will not apply.

This Act gives the police & dog wardens powers to seize the dog and prosecute the owner. Power of arrest only applies if the owner fails to five a name and address at which they can be summoned.

This Act gives the court powers to destroy the dog (if a person is injured then there is a presumption to destroy, but there is always discretion). The Court can also ban a person from future ownership of a dog. Other Acts allow for ASBOs to be placed on owners. This is a civil hearing.

The Dog Control Act 2008 This is not in place yet as gets second hearing at the end of July, the difference here is that this is public or private place.

This legislation however caters for private places, as well as public, attacks on other animals, as well as provoking a dog to attack. It also includes breeding for fighting etc – see below.
No person shall—
(a) allow a dog for which they are responsible to be aggressive or
dangerously out of control, in either a public or a private place;
(b) encourage a dog to be aggressive or to intimidate people or other
(c) breed dogs for fighting;
(d) keep a dog that has been used for fighting;
(e) keep a dog that has attacked a person or another animal.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992

This Order makes it mandatory for dogs in public (other than listed exceptions such as service dogs etc) to wear a collar and identification stating owners details. This is important, as whilst there is no power of arrest for the above Acts, anyone who fails to give their name and address to a police office for the purpose of summons for any offence, can be arrested (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984).

Procedure in Practice

Dependent on the local procedures of forces a dog attack on dog in a park would most likely be dealt with by a dog warden.

It may become a police issue, if the matter is in say a housing estate, road, because the likelihood of danger is higher, (ie dogs off lead out of control on a road may be considered to have a greater opportunity to injure more people/ animals.

Police will always get involved if a person is injured, a dog is killed, or the dangerous dog is a repeat offender (ie the dog warden refers it to police because of the number of complaints received).

One subject that came up when I asked for your ideas on suitable blog topics was “how to cope with strange dogs on a walk”. This is a favourite subject of mine, I am constantly amazed, stunned and downright cross with other dog owners when I walk my dog in the company other dog walkers!

Here is Bella’s story of what happened to her and her little Pug on a walk:

“A loose dog went for Toddy (who was on lead) the other day and got its jaws round his back leg. I shouted and swooped down on the dog and it let go long enough for me to pick Toddy up. There was no damage. However it was lucky it happened with Toddy not Snifter. Snifter would have reacted aggressively (Toddy was just surprised), there would probably have been a fight and possible lasting psychological issues as well as possible physical injury. So a discussion of how we can discourage other dogs from getting at ours, how to deal with the owner who insists their dog “only wants to play” – I have seen play and it does not look like that – and how we can reassure our dogs would certainly be of interest to me. I am convinced that some of Snifter’s antipathy to certain other dogs stems from my inexperience when he was a puppy and got menaced by a couple of Border Collies in our park.”

Please send in your stories of similar experiences, I will gladly respond and I think many of other Blog visitors will too!


Here is one of my worse experiences walking in the park with a group of clients and there dogs:

I was out with 5 of my clients and there dogs in the park, a planned trip to take our training into the public! All was going well with recalls and lead work training until the Labrador in the group went lame! A big dog I was naturally concerned for him and his upset owner, and we started back to the car park to get him to the car and on to the Vet’s, luckily we weren’t too far away, but on the route a man was walking along with his Flat Coat Retriever off the lead, she obviously a very friendly dog, too friendly, she made a bee line for the weakened Labrador, I, like a tigress defending her cubs, leapt in front of him to protect him and head her off! She was not easily dissuaded from jumping on him and I got progressively firmer in deterring her, starting out shooing her verbally and waving her off, she kept coming and ran into my hand, she backed off, but her owner didn’t! He bore down on me and started to rant, standing right in my face, we were practically toe to toe, I wasn’t moving (foolishly maybe but my blood was up now), he threatened to call the police and accused me of attacking his dog! I explained, as calmly as I could, the situation and my concern for the injured dog, he wasn’t listening and became more offensive, I am sad to say I lost it at this point and told him very loudly to back off and take his dog with him, treating him much as I had his dog really!  I told him I would ring the police and charge him with assault!

Luckily he went, I was shaken, and felt bad that my clients class had been tainted by the experience, after all  I was at work! My group were great and very supportive but none the less we were all shaken by the experience, the man had behaved in a very threatening way.

On arriving home I rang the local dog warden and the police, thankfully my dog warden responded brilliantly! She visited the man, I had asked for his name, and as a result the next time I was in the park, this time I took my sister and our dogs, not my clients, he apologised profusely, he was a different man to the one I had seen before. The dog warden had explained that there is a by law that states all walkers, with or without a dog have the right to walk in public unimpeded by other peoples dogs! and we have the right to make that happen if the owner of the dog cannot!

I am telling you this story, not because I am proud of my own behaviour, but then none of us are perfect or get it right all the time, and in the world of dogs things often go awry, and sometime it is a matter of managing the best you can.

I have to say that when I walk in that same park these days the regular dog walkers keep away from me and my dog! Word has spread and I am glad of it, though I am sure I am unpopular with them!

So a long answer to Bella’s query! In short I do whatever it takes, but for the most I keep my dog behind me and prevent the other dog getting to him, in the case of young puppies or very friendly dogs, I get hold of their collars and hand them back to the owners. With owners that assure me their dog is friendly I tell them mine is not, to be honest he is, but if there dog is not he could learn to fight, and then what would I do when he has to work with me and my clients dogs. The reality is that a strange dog is an unknown quantity, a strange pack, and the meeting of unknown dogs is, for the most part just that unknown but could be dangerous, I do not take the chance, my dogs temperament and safety is too important. Again this can go wrong, if my dog was upset by another dog, and that has happened to me too,  the way forward is to create some experiences over the following days and weeks that are more positive to put the bad experience to rest. More on that subject to come soon, now come on let me have your stories so that we can share and learn from each other?