TRAINING is well underway at Dogs Trust Dog School, where Observer deputy editor Laura Kearns has been taking her two dogs for weekly sessions.
DOG training is a chore for many, but Dogs Trust Dog School is as fun as it is beneficial.
I have been taking our dog Rosie – a two year-old German Shepherd crossed with a Collie – on the course. My dad also signed up to come along with us and take our other pup Bo – a four year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross Boxer.
Both of our dogs are rescues so registered in the rescue class, but there are also sessions for adult dogs and puppies.
And in the four weeks we have been going there has been a huge difference in our dogs’ behaviour.
Dog trainers – who between them have 20 years experience – have shown us how to use positive encouragement to get our dogs to come back immediately, settle, leave, remain calm during a vet check, and not rush through doors when opened.
The classes each week last for an hour and each is different.
Last week we enjoyed the sunshine outside with our pups while practicing walking them on a loose lead and getting them to sit just using our voices. It sounds easy, but nearly everyone uses hand signals to make their dogs sit – which is no use when they have their back to you.
On the first week we were dragged to the class by our troublesome twosome, but by the end of the class we walked out looking like we were the ones in charge – for once.
The difference in our pets has been huge. They come straight back when called, don’t jump up and are settling down when given the correct signals.
And most importantly they enjoy going as much as we enjoy taking them. Every Saturday morning when they jump in the back of the car and I take my bag full of blankets, treats and toys they know where they are going.
The sessions are good for dogs of any age, but I can imagine how useful they would be for puppies – setting them up for a lifetime of good behaviour.
For my two dogs it has made the world of difference, and we are all looking forward to our final session on Saturday.
Visit www.dogstrustdogschool.org.uk to find out more and check the Observer for a final update on the class.
Bo and Rosie are walking much better on the lead thanks to the classes.