Thank you to Corinne for drawing my attention to a very helpful leaflet on dogs and horses! You may remember my blog recently on a problem I have locally with a neighbours dogs when passing with my horse! I have approached them in a friendly manner but sadly they are not ready for help, yet!

The Blue Cross provide a whole host of helpful and free leaflets on all animal care and behaviour, well worth a visit to  their

Lara looks out!

website! There is a link below to the leaflet that Corinne told me about:

You can hear me on Steve Scruton’s show on BBC Essex Radio this coming Wednesday from 2.15pm to 4pm, on a phone in on dog behaviour problems, or catch up on the iplayer for the following 7 days!



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

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!

A dog story!

January 4, 2012

J cosy at home with the vacuum cleaner!

I wanted to share with you one of the responses I have had from the last blog, it is the real stories of dog owners out there that need to be heard! I am sure the people with the dogs rushing up to ours don’t really want to upset our dogs, they just don’t know the impact they are having! Please send in your story?

“I wanted to agree with what you’ve said. You may remember J – chocolate lab with epilepsy, very nervously aggressive around other dogs after being attacked a couple of times by off the lead dogs when he was a puppy just after he started having fits. Sadly and the aggression / anxiety around other dogs just got worse with age. Training didn’t help, and eventually I took the decision to let him have a happy life away from other dogs. He is off the lead only in large, deserted fields. On the lead problems only arise if an off-the-lead dog comes up to us. I see a dog off the lead I call to the owner to get them to call their dog back before trouble starts, then walk in the opposite direction. This, amazingly, doesn’t always work, and about half the time I get a “oh, he just wants to play” response and the owner virtually encourages their dog to come to mine!

I have since found lots of other dog owners in the same position as me: we are often made to feel guilty about not letting our dogs off the lead around other dogs, or not having other “doggy friends”. It really is a bit much! When I walk J, I end up having to shout at other people’s dogs to get them away from him. Walking dogs off the lead with a “he / she won’t hurt your dog, they just want to play!” comment is totally irresponsible. Your off-the-lead dog may well want to play, but mine doesn’t! My dog is terrified of anything on four legs and is a nervous wreck if anything gets within 10 feet of him. I had some classes from you about this, where you advised me to shout at the approaching off-the-lead dog and walk the other way. This almost always works, but I end up with plenty of abuse from the other dog’s owner. My dog is only ever aggressive when other dogs approach him, and I want to protect him and these other dogs from each other. If dogs stayed on the lead around other dogs, it would be so much easier and dog on dog attacks would be much rarer.

Unless owners have absolute control over their own dog off the lead (and in my own experience, that is rare as hen’s teeth!), dogs should be on the lead around other dogs. It is, frankly, arrogant to make the assumption that your dog won’t attack mine, or be attacked by mine: they don’t know each other and you don’t know my dog. Thank you for making this a New Year’s Resolution, and I hope everybody follows the advice.”

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?

It never ceases to amaze me watching a puppy grow, this week Betty had a day of going off her food, not just her food but treats as well! I know Annie (her breeder) won’t believe me:) she has been such a greedy puppy! The only tummy upset Betty has had is from over eating, which she has always been willing to do! She seems to have a cast iron stomach, never suffering from upsets from the rubbish all puppies eat. It has only lasted one day, Betty is back to normal now! But the day seem to mark a change in her, I wonder if her hormones have started to kick in, as she also seems since to show signs of more grown up behaviour. Last night she sat on my lap for more than an hour having cuddles, the longest she has done that since she would fall asleep on my lap as a baby! I think her first season cannot be too far away now, I am keeping her entire so that I can have some babies one day!

I would add that Betty would have eaten my food on that day, just not dog food, she wasn’t ill! Plus Betty at 7 months has done most of her growing now, which her dip in appetite confirms. In response I have reduced her meals slightly to fit her new appetite. I have seen clients who at this point in their puppies development, believing the puppy has gone off the food being fed, change the diet. Not a good plan as this can lead to the puppy starting to pick and choose what they eat, controlling their owner in this way is a signal that will have a negative affect on the relationship! A puppies appetite reflects how much they need, if fed a well-balanced food, low in salt and additives.

The same day she was off her food was also a bit traumatic for her:) Betty came out to help at the Thursday morning puppy class. We were discussing what to do if your puppy is approached by a scary dog, and I had Betty out to demonstrate how I would protect her, by getting her behind me and stamping my foot and shouting “no” and shooing the dog away. Betty had not seen me do this before and thought I was a bit scary! As we progressed with the class I moved a pole on the ground, as I lobbed it Betty ran under it so that the pole bounced off her head! I hastened to add it was light weight and did not injure her, but she did jump! A few minutes later I managed to tread on her! Poor Betty, what a bad morning! Betty was almost afraid to move for a while, and laid down every time I looked at her! Watching the class doing more fun things soon cheered her up though, I am pleased to say!

The reason we had been talking about unfriendly dogs is that a friend of mine had a very nasty experience with her dog. There is a Staffie that lives in Dunmow that has hospitalised 4 dogs that we know of (in Felstead), and last week her dear boy ended up with 2 wounds one of which is a foot long, and he was on lead! The attack would have killed a smaller dog. The owner jogs in Felstead on a Tuesday and Friday morning, and seems to have the dog off lead and not muzzled to date, despite the dogs history! He goes out early between 6.30 and 7.30am, I would imagine he goes out in Dunmow other mornings possibly. It is a brown Staffie called, Holly and wears a flashing collar . If you see them watch out! He must be reported until he, the owner, gets the message! Dogs that do this should not be allowed to live on and continue to terrorise us! It is not the dogs fault that she has got like this, but it is too late to change now! If you have any more information on this dog, please let me know?

I was conflicted about telling you about this Staffie, my heart goes out to the really responsible Staffie owners out there, especially my clients, who I know would be mortified if their dog even growled at another dog!

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?