Many of you will have met Jan Johnson and her Labrador Lady! A short while ago Jan lost her old lady Amber and has been looking to increase her pack again. This week I heard of a litter of a working strain nearby, Jan and I went to check them out! Jasper is the out come, and Lady thinks she is his Mummy! Have fun with your new boy Jan!


Happy birthday Nessa!

November 6, 2011

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Happy birthday November 5th to Nessa! two years old and a grown up girl!

The photo’s show Nessa at various ages and bring back some great memories for me as I have had the privilege of being a part of most of Nessa’s training life!

Even Nessa can't get this ball in her mouth!

What hole?!

Nessa shows her disgust at West Ham's result!!

New dates!

October 11, 2011

Brodie (Tuesday night puppy class)



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

19th October Wednesday and Saturday 29th October

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: November 7th

Harley keeps cool in the October sun!

Not watership down!

September 6, 2011

It is sadly that time of year when the rabbits have Mixie again! I luckily saw Betty “playing” with a mixie rabbit in the garden this week, lucky because I was able to let her know that I didn’t like her doing that! I would have liked to have put the poor creature out of its misery, but sadly I cannot find that ability in me.

There was no way I want Betty to learn how to kill any creature, she won’t know the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy one. Plus once she learns to enjoy the kill her recall for me would be come unreliable and I would be concerned that she could end up chasing a rabbit across a road! by seeing the bigger picture I can avoid creating problems later on.

By viewing all dog behaviour through a magnifying glass many of the dog behaviours I am asked to help with never have the chance to develop!

Butter wouldn't melt!

Happy birthday Pie!

September 1, 2011

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The Pie, 5 years old today! Happy birthday Pie!

Hitching a ride!

August 30, 2011

Hitching a ride!


The Poodles are called Rumpus and Merlot and they really know how to travel in style! Both Standard Poodles belong to Corinne and Michael, the ones doing the work up the front are called Hugo and Jason 🙂 This may be an unusual sight but not around Great Canfield as Corinne and family regularly drive out from local Ashfields Carriage and Polo Club. I cannot claim any credit for the brilliant dog training, Merlot and Rumpus are all the work of Corinne, who runs a business looking after animals while people are away, what a great advert for her!

Wouldn’t it be great if our dogs could talk english, be the sort of characters that appear in the Disney films? 🙂 I know these stories influenced me as a child! I also remember the day I became disillusioned by my dog when I was about 20, it was a horrible shock to realise my dear little dog had not only killed but eaten one of my cats new-born kittens! That doesn’t happen in Disney films nor in the romantic world I had created for my pets. The experience did not stop me from idealizing my dogs completely, but now I have a more realistic view, shaped by even more life

Tallulah (Shar pei)

experience of reality.

The problem is not the Disney films, it is when we forget to remember that our dogs are real life animals.

When we leave  the dog to decide, yes they do that in Disney movies, and guess what, the dog makes the best decision ever! What happens in real life if we leave it to the dog to decide:

  • where and when we walk?
  • when we feed?
  • when we stroke?
  • where they sleep?

we make the dog leader! And what do we get when the dog is in charge?

I await your answers on that:)?

The reality is though that most dogs do not want to be leader, they may want to be a Prefect, even head girl or boy but few are born to be headmaster/mistress and they really do not want that job! which is why dogs that are given too many choices are not happy!

Disney dogs are happy, at least they are by the end of the film, and live happy ever after too!

In real life we must be clear and make the important decisions for our dogs, to ensure our dogs live happy ever after lives!


My sister Lesley has this little dog Freddie, he is a Jack Russell cross Border Terrier, he is five this year. Being my sister Lesley has had to train her dog, strangely she didn’t learn through osmosis, she did need lessons :)! Freddie is a good little dog, with an excellent nature! However recently he had started to drive Lesley up the wall with barking in the garden! I went over to have a look, at five years old and having had a good amount of training it seemed to me that Freddie was now at a bit of a loose end! Not sure what to do with himself, even a trained dog needs direction and some constructive work to do, just as we do!

I left Lesley with the instruction to get Freddie working again, even a down stay is a job! Here is what she told me a few days later, I asked her to write it down for you.

“I took my dog Freddie to the vets yesterday.  Now Freddie  – a Jack Russell is not a lot of trouble and when we go to the vets he sits on my knee or wags his tail at others or makes friends with whoever is sitting next to us.  After seeing the vet we came out of the consultation room only to take a step back as this huge German shepherd started barking and would like to have got to us – I wasn’t sure the woman could hold him. So instead of sitting down to wait for Freddie’s tablets we stood by the reception desk and I made Freddie lay down. He moved a couple of times but I just reminded him and he lay quietly – I didn’t want to aggravate that  huge dog and have him coming at us.

It was at this point that I realised I don’t always give Freddie a job as Avril would say – because he isn’t any trouble for most of the time but I now realised that it’s important to reinforce the behaviour I want all the time – it’s good for Fred and it’s good for me. As a Child Behaviour Coach I am so good with my boundaries with children but that had slipped with Fred.  Now I’m on the case!”

Lesley also told me that she is making a point of using a sit or down and stay when getting Freddie in and out of the car, what jobs do you give your dog?


News and rosettes!

June 21, 2011

Lucky wearing the rosette he won at class!

Two classes came to the end of sessions last week, to celebrate the improvements by dogs and handlers we had a fun test of all the exercises! Nicola sent me a photo of Lucky proudly wearing his rosette, he was amazing in his stay exercises! I am pleased to say that everyone went home with a rosette and I only judged the stays so no favouritism on my part 🙂

What is your dog thinking? Ever wondered why your dog does that? So much of your success with your dogs is about understanding the dogs mind, so often we interpret their behaviour in a human way and respond in that way, no wonder the dogs become confused and naughty. By learning to interpret dog behaviour in a dog like way, the dog/human bond becomes stronger and living harmoniously with your dog becomes easier. If you would like to learn more I have a theory course (without dogs) this coming Saturday,  for those that want some answers, held at Barbary Cottage! Saturday 25th June

Avril on Radio

You can hear me on BBC Radio Essex with Steve Scruton next Friday 24th June, or on the iplayer for the 7 days following! (2pm-4pm)


After my blog about Tracey’s Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen! and the seed problem it was great to hear from a client from a while back Sue Marshal and her GBGV’s, many thanks Sue for the photo’s! What are their names Sue?

Another Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen!


Sue Marshal's GBGV's in the snow!

Seedy time of year!

June 16, 2011

With all the dry weather it feels like wild seed-time has come round faster than ever! Tracey and her dogs reminded me this week, as her 2 Grand Griffon Basset Vendeen, and yes this breed looks just like the one in the photo! Mungo and Milly have the type of coat that acts as a magnet to grass and other wild seeds, one quick shake of those long ears can rapidly catapult a seed deep into the ear canal! Resulting in a trip to the vet and anesthetic to remove the offending seed! So far Tracey has had 4 trips to the Vet in 4 weeks, a very expensive time of year! All this despite avoiding any off lead walks and avoiding as much long grass as possible. I think some dogs just have ears  that act as funnels for seeds!

As a result Tracey has found a way of fending off some seeds with some stylish head wear!

Do keep an eye on your pets and seeds a few tips are:

  • a quick brush following a walk to remove seeds before they find their way in deeper
  • if your breed needs clipping keep them very short this time of year
  • if your pet seems off colour or doesn’t seem keen on you touching his ear get them checked at the Vet, the ear canal is very deep and the lower part is not visible with the naked eye.
  • Seeds and thorns can work their way in between toes, causing sores or worse, so keep feet groomed and clipped.