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Confessions Of A Dog Trainer

It’s fair to say I’m addicted to dog training. But that doesn’t mean I always get it right with my own dog! Like you, I’ve made mistakes. So, I’m sharing some of my errors in the hope it might help you avoid them!


When I got my rescue pup, Gerry I was sooooo excited to teach him ‘everything’ that I barely let the poor creature rest. My intentions were good but I forgot that we will (hopefully) have a lifetime together. I didn’t have to rush to teach him everything in his first 12 months on the planet. If I could rewind I’d have devoted more time to simply ‘being’ with him; and less time rushing around ‘doing’ things with him. In particular, I’d have included more pauses on our walks, time to really take in the sights, sounds and smells; to watch the world go by, together. We’re learning to do that now though: Here he is on Belas Knapp watching ‘life’.

Dog at Belas Knapp

1st Year Off-Lead...

A Trainer once said to me “First year ON-lead, 12 years off lead; but first year OFF-lead, 12 years on lead”. Her point? Puppyhood lasts a short time but the habits learned in that first year can last a lifetime. I wish I’d done more calm, ON-lead games instead of high energy, off-lead ones. More time spent loose-lead walking in different types of environments like hills, forests, country parks – instead of just pavements. I wish also that I’d devoted more time to building connection with him amid the distractions of wildlife/prey, to manage his hunting instincts better.

Here’s a wonderful video of Dog Trainer Anita Hope’s two Vizsla enjoying their pheasant- rich, forest walk safely, off-lead; thanks to all the ON-lead training around prey that she has put in – aren’t Sage & Meadow a credit to her?

House Guests

’m an introvert at heart. I like quiet. I need lots of time in nature, on my own (with my dog!) It’s my kinda ‘therapy’. However, this meant that when Gerry was a pup we had few guests over to the house. Furthermore most of my pals are female so Gerry’s limited ‘Guest-Training’ had a strong female bias. The impact? Gerry can sometimes be unsure about new people coming to the house, particularly men. We manage it, of course and we will continue working on it. But I really feel for all the new puppy/dog owners whose socialisation training has been hampered by covid lockdown. However, with the end of lockdown in sight, social skills dog training can begin again in earnest – hurrah! Contact Joyful Dogs and we’ll help you put an effective Socialisation Training Plan in place.


At around 10 months our rescue pup, Gerry was well and truly a teenager. His mind was often elsewhere; he could be aggravated by seemingly small things, and other dogs started to growl/posture around him – testicle troubles?! I was reluctant to castrate and thankfully a Trainer I knew suggested an alternative: “Suprelorin” – a chemical castration (injection). It worked a charm. Within 2 weeks Gerry seemed calmer and other dogs became less bothersome. My error was that I was persuaded to do castration surgery a year later. I deeply regret doing that to Gerry. Cutting off a dog’s testicles can have a huge effect on their body and behaviour functions. “Testosterone and oestrogen play pivotal roles in the dog’s brain, muscle and bone development”See issues/dog-neutering/ Castration can cause abnormalities with that development, as well as incontinence and joint issues. Since castration, Gerry has suffered with ligament issues in his hind legs. Maybe a conincidence but if I could rewind I’d have resisted surgery on his behalf and stuck with the Suprelorin injection till his teens were over. Testicles intact.

If you’d like to discuss neutering options for your pup, please do get in touch:

Article written by Joy Knowles at Joyful Dogs

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