“A real light bulb moment”
by Justine Harding // July 2017
“A real light bulb moment”
Judith Margolis from St Neots is no stranger to dog training – border terrier x pug Fudge is her seventh dog (one of several rescues) and her second assistance dog. However, she signed up to Dog School East Anglia classes to give Fudge a bit more experience working around other dogs in preparation for his final Support Dogs exam. But she freely admits the benefits have been much wider than that. “It’s given me a real light bulb moment,” Judith explains. “I have been to many other training classes over the years and they have all been about dominating your dog and telling him what to do. Coming to Dog School made me realise there is a much better way of doing things.”
Judith and Fudge enjoyed their first Dog School experience so much they have signed up for another course to build their skills further. They have also benefitted from some 121 help geared to helping Fudge keep focused and calm when working around other dogs – a vital skill for an assistance (or pet!) dog.
“Dog School has made me aware of what Fudge is telling me so I can help him choose to do what I am asking him – not just make him,” Judith explains. “I used to watch TV dog trainers who taught people that their dogs have to do things so are forced. The whole idea of a dog being allowed to use his brain and make choices was so alien to me initially - but it’s absolutely right. I see it all the time now. And it is so much nicer to know now that Fudge is doing things and choosing to be with me because he wants to.”
Judith and Fudge attend regular reward-based training sessions with Support Dogs and has found that what she has learned in Dog School has helped her understand in more detail how to get the best from Fudge and ensure he thoroughly enjoys his work.
“It seems ironic now how I would watch all the TV documentaries about animals in zoos and circuses and how we can improve their welfare, yet I hadn’t stopped to think about my own dogs in the same way,” Judith adds. “I can now see how training that forces a dog to do something will make them worried – that was certainly the case with my previous dogs. I’d never even thought about them having a brain!”
So what would Judith’s advice be to other owners who want to improve their relationship with their dog? “Go to Dog School!” she laughs. “It helps people understand what their dog is thinking – I can understand Fudge so much better and am learning to read other dogs too. Dog School is a very, very positive experience!”
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