Dog School Graduation… with a difference!

by Hannah Wilkinson // August 2017

Dog School Graduation… with a difference!

Going back to school with our dogs can be a daunting experience but how about going back to school ourselves? I know all about how this feels as, two years ago I was given the opportunity to head back into the classroom to study for a Certificate of Higher Education in Companion Animal Welfare and Behavioural Rehabilitation at Bristol University.

Heading to Bristol for the first week of lectures was terrifying, it had been almost 20 years since I had studied…How would I cope? It really gave me an insight into how the owners may feel when coming “back to School” with their dogs. In the Dog School classes we ensure everyone is made to feel welcome and this was certainly how the lecturers made us feel on that first week at Bristol.

Dr Emily Blackwell (@DrEmilyB) runs the course. Emily is a Clinical animal behaviourist and animal behaviour and welfare scientist who has over 15 years of experience in animal behaviour and has consulted on many TV shows (Dogs: Their Secret lives, The secret lives of puppies and more recently “teach my pet”). It was great to tap into her wealth of knowledge about the science behind behaviour.

It was a challenge juggling the homework with the full time job as the Head Coach at Dog School Essex, I know just how the owners feel when we give them homework to do in class!! I took the advice I give to the owners and broke my assignments down into bite sized chunks and planned my time accordingly. In the class we say to the owners to do a bit of training whilst the kettle is boiling or the adverts are on the TV!

Graduation day was exciting as we all made our way to Bristol University to receive our certificates. It was a surprise when Mark Evans (the TV Presenter) arrived to do the presentation and give us a few words of advice for the future. It was really hard work but I am so proud to have completed the course and gained the qualification and now I can continue to help owners to train their dogs in the most effective and scientifically proven way.