by Fiona Sinclair // July 2017

Dog School Edinburgh’s first festival!

It’s well and truly festival season and Dog School Edinburgh didn’t want to miss out!

We chose the Harburn Festival as our first. Harburn is a small place just outside West Calder, close to the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre. Dog School run classes at the centre once a week and although the rehoming work of Dogs Trust is well known in the area, Dog School is a new addition. The Harburn Festival gave us a great opportunity to spread the word about our training classes.

This would be our first chance to get the new Dog School gazebo out of its box and try to pitch it. We hoped our bright yellow tent would attract people so we had to come up with something useful and interesting to offer our visitors. We put our heads together and came up with the idea of a Body Language Quiz for our visitors. In Dog School we pay a lot of attention to helping dog owners learn to read their dogs’ body language and to ‘listen’ to what their dogs are telling them. The main aim of Dog School is to help owners prevent ‘problem behaviours’ from developing. Many of the common problem behaviours we see in our dogs are caused by fear or anxiety. When a dog is worried by something, they can choose between ‘fight or flight’ which means that they can respond aggressively or avoid the scary thing. By ‘listening’ to what our dogs are telling us, we can help them to choose flight instead of fight. This is also a great way to strengthen the bond we have with our dogs because they learn to trust us.

For Harburn, we put together a picture board with 15 photos of dogs displaying different body language and we asked our visitors to put each picture into one of three categories: “I am happy and relaxed”; “I am anxious, please give me space”, “Do Not Approach Me”.

Head Coach Julie says:

“The quiz was extremely popular, particularly with children, who were really keen to understand what their dogs are trying to tell them. Children did very well in the quiz with an average score of 80%, beaten only slightly by the average score for adults at 90%”. Well done everyone, now start looking out for these signs in your own dogs!"

At Dog School we also like to think about how we can enrich our Dogs’ lives by giving them fun things to do. We love snuffle mats for this and at Harburn we gave a live demo of how to make your own snuffle mat.

How do you think you would do in our quiz? Come along to the Dog School tent at our next events and have a go!

You will find us at: The Retired Greyhound Trust Scottish Greyhound Gathering on Saturday 29th July at Musselburgh Racecourse; a fun day for all breeds AND The Dogs Trust West Calder Fun Day on 20th August at West Lothian College, Livingston.