Friday, 28 July 2023

Controlling Canine Connections or the Need to Stop Micromanaging Our Dogs


We currently have a puppy in the house, a Border Collie who at the time of writing is just coming up to 15 weeks old. Anyone who has raised a puppy knows how much work is involved, and the need for careful socialisation to allow them to feel comfortable in the world around them as they grow.

Saturday, 6 May 2023

The Power of Scentwork for High Energy Dogs

It is no secret to many who have visited this blog that, when it comes to dogs, the Border Collie has completely stolen my heart. My history with them goes back to childhood – my very first dog as a kid was a Border Collie x Shetland Sheepdog, and he was absolutely the best dog (as they all are, but there was something about him that made him my perfect canine childhood companion) – and continued through into adulthood with working sheepdogs. I adore the breed, their intelligent brains and drive to work with their people.

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

What Does Success Look Like With a Reactive Dog?

Any of us who have found ourselves sharing our homes and lives with a ‘reactive’ dog, one of the sensitive souls who needs empathy, understanding, and (most of all) space in which to feel safe, knows that it can feel very tough at times. This is especially true in the early stages of finding out what is going on with our dogs and what we need to think about to help them. It can feel like an impossible task, to get to a point where we can enjoy walks.

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Why I Don't Apologise For My 'Bad' Dog

This is my dog, Finn. He pops up frequently on my various blogs and social media accounts as a) he’s gorgeous, and b) he is the inspiration behind what I do. He is a fearful and anxious boy, who is reactive to other dogs, to people he doesn’t know, and to wildlife and livestock.

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Aversive training: more consequences than you may realise

This is perhaps a slightly more technical article than many I post but it's an important one, considering as it does the connection between training methods and welfare.


Despite the efforts of many canine professionals and widening body of scientific evidence, aversive training techniques remain in use. Discussions surrounding the use of these tools are often acrimonious and highly divisive. Supporters insist some dogs need them, some breeds apparently too stubborn or high drive for management any other way. Reward-based training is denigrated as ‘cookie-pushing’ or permissiveness, allowing the dog to be in charge, when what dogs ‘need’ is to know their pack leader. This is despite the fact alpha theory is outdated, based on observations from the 1940s now recognised as flawed.


Using aversive techniques carries significant risks to the physical health and well-being of dogs, and the human-canine relationship. By definition, aversive methods are things dogs actively try to avoid. They find them unpleasant, painful, or scary, and want to reduce the likelihood of encountering that stimulus again. This raises serious ethical questions. In addition, if we are causing distress or pain to dogs, what effect will that have on their view of us?

Friday, 8 July 2022

Can We Sometimes Miss an Opportunity with Enrichment?

Enrichment is a word that is coming into ever wider usage in the dog world. Adding enrichment into the lives of our dogs means adding value and enjoyment to their days, letting them carry out normal and natural dog behaviours.

Friday, 17 June 2022

The Key to Effective Counterconditioning to Help Fearful Dogs

One of the most important techniques available to us, particularly when working with fearful and reactive dogs is counterconditioning. Doing it correctly means the dog’s response to the thing that is worrying them changes from a negative reaction to a positive one. Doing it incorrectly will either not improve the situation or could even make the situation more complicated.