Here comes ‘Trouble’
by Rachel Taunton // August 2017
Here comes ‘Trouble’
A month into our new roles with Dog School, Charlotte and I started to run classes without Head Coach, Shaun, whilst he was away for two weeks.
Our first sets of classes were ‘week one’ of training here at Bridgend. We had three full classes with one or two dogs who we predicted might need a little bit of extra help during their time with us. The first class of the evening had an excitable 18 month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Trouble attending – one of the two dogs we thought might need a bit of extra assistance.
His human companion, Nigel, was struggling with him on a lead. He was a lovely dog and super friendly with both people and his fellow canines, however Nigel was finding it difficult to walk him because he suffered from knee injuries and Trouble’s jolting about on his lead wasn’t helping matters.
I had chatted with Nigel before classes and discussed the possibility of doing a couple of one-to-one sessions if he struggled to settle in class but we wanted to give classes a chance first. Nigel was really understanding and just wanted the best for Trouble – he was looking after him for a few months for a friend. For someone to seek out training classes for a dog that wasn’t even theirs really stood out to us and we wanted to give him the best help we possibly could!
Trouble came barreling into class with a big ‘staffie’ smile on his face, whilst trying to shove his whole body into the other dogs for a typically over-the-top hello. We had a class of really sweet dogs so at one point when he managed to escape Nigel’s grip half way through the session and bypass the barriers to go and make friends, nobody took offence and we just reeled him back into safety with tasty treats and lots of fuss. Trouble struggled to perform any of the exercises - being in a room with five other dogs and not being able to play with them just didn’t make sense to him. It was a bit chaotic but everyone left smiling and happy for next week and we left trying to think up ways to make classes a little easier on Nigel.
During the week we chatted some more with Nigel over how best to help Trouble and decided to give classes another shot – it would be a shame to take him out of classes when he clearly loved being around people and dogs alike.
The following week, Nigel came armed with squeezy cheese and a bag full of chicken and we brought along a front clipping harness to try and help with managing Trouble on a lead. We asked him to bring Trouble down earlier and let him burn some energy in the field. Unfortunately it was raining and the big boisterous staffie didn’t like to get his paws muddy!! Trouble ended up playing in the barn whilst we set up for the class. Nigel showed us how Trouble could faultlessly complete the homework tasks we’d set him without the distraction of other dogs and even snuck some loose lead walking too for good measure! They’d clearly been practicing.
By the time our other doggy students started arriving, Trouble had charged around and given out ample staffie kisses to Charlotte and me. By this point he was able to really settle and focus in class. He was a different dog and Nigel could relax into the sessions and start focusing on what we were saying whilst Trouble lay down and listened patiently too.
As the weeks went on, Trouble got better and better and was even able to be recalled by Nigel past other dogs in the field and settle near them without any barriers. Upon feedback, Nigel noted that he enjoyed the small class sizes as Trouble might have struggled if there were any more dogs and he appreciated the perseverance with him. He was impressed by Trouble’s ability to settle down and listen and we were head over heels in love with the cheeky chap.
The only problem now is that Trouble might need a new name to live up to!