Dogs are the UK’s number one pet, and they're well known for being man’s best friend. That might be so, but it’s likely your opinion will change when you bring home your pooch only to wake up the next day to find the mess they’ve made on your kitchen floor, the mangled chew toy that was once your favourite pair of shoes, and the holes in the garden where your geraniums used to be. It’s a fact that most dog owners soon discover – your mutt needs a master. That so-called ‘best friend’ of yours, isn’t going to start acting like it until you lay down the law with some dog training classes.
Sandra Lawton is one dog owner who knows a lot about teaching tricky canines. She works as a senior trainer at AA Dog Training and is well accustomed to showing them who is boss. She started her working life as a nurse, where she gained the people skills that give her the confidence to turn her hand to her true passion and become a dog training instructor. She was keen to teach dogs how to behave but she also saw a gap in the market for professional dog trainer training courses. Now Sandra divides her time between the two – training both dogs and people, and developing dog trainer training courses herself. Here's what she had to say...
What is it you love about dog training?
Working outdoors with a range of interesting people and their dogs. I love being around dogs and there is nothing better than watching a dog and handler develop together under your guidance. Every day is different.
What are the best tricks you teach dogs on your dog trainer training courses?
We run a variety of courses so teach doggy dancing, rally o, fun agility, herding, tracking and retrieving, as well as good behaviour. The most important thing to provide any dog is stimulation so this sort of training is important and can be adjusted to suit individual breeds.
Do you have any dogs yourself?
Over the years I have had many dogs of different breeds. Currently I have a flat coated retriever with whom I do pet gundog work and kayaking.
Wow! So he must be well trained?
Yes he is very well trained! I also have a rescue dog; a great dane who is deaf and has epilepsy. I have owned her for about six months so her training is ongoing but she is doing very well. She has mastered basic commands and can do dog agility and a small range of doggy dancing moves.
What do you think of shows like Britain’s Got Talent and the dancing dogs you often see on there? Were you impressed by Ashleigh and Pudsey?
How could you not be impressed with Ashleigh and Pudsey!? The only way to train your dog to work so closely with you is by spending a lot of time with your dog, which is great. I do sometimes have concerns with some of the dance routines about how much time dogs spend up on their back legs. They were given four legs for a reason!
Ashleigh and Pudsey seemed particularly close– how important is training to the dog/owner relationship?
If you understand how to train your dog you have a better understanding of how they think and can be realistic about your expectations and management of them. This helps in not only keeping your dog happy but keeping them and everyone around them safe.
Have you got any tips for owners with unruly dogs?
Yes, come to AA Dog Training! If we are not in your local area, seek some help from a local dog training school. Do outdoor training. Don’t go to training in a hall.
And finally, have you got any advice for anyone hoping to work as a dog trainer?
Go along to a local dog training school and have a look at what it’s all about and spend some time doing voluntary work. When you are sure it’s for you, come along and do my course so we can support you on the road ahead.
Here on Hotcourses you’ll find a number of different dog training and dog trainer training courses available that will turn your pesky pup into a well mannered dog as well as courses that will ensure you’re up to scratch if you fancy helping owners get a handle on training their pets themselves.