Dog School journeys!
by Kimberley King // February 2018
Dog School journeys!
Hi there! To introduce myself, I am Kimberley the new Coach at West Midlands Dog School. After graduating from university where I studied Animal Behaviour and Welfare, I joined Guide Dogs for the Blind as a trainer, before deciding that working with rescue dogs was the path for me. I joined Dogs Trust Evesham rehoming centre as a Canine Carer before being promoted to Dog Trainer a few months later.
It was in this role that I met Vole. A lot of our dogs came from Ireland and this included ex-laboratory Beagles who ended up in our care. I was working on our intake block one Thursday in June last year when a few of these beagles arrived from Ireland. They had always proven to be very nervous dogs by nature of their laboratory experience and recent upheaval, however, Vole stuck in my head as one of the most nervous beagles I’d seen to date. He was particularly timid, very wary of any human interaction and stayed tucked up in his crate for most of his time in kennels.
The next step was for Vole to be assessed in order to accurately match him with potential adopters. It was during this assessment I noted Vole needed a lot of rehabilitation to allow him to trust people again and learn to love, but that food was potentially a way to make friends as he would accept treats thrown from far away in his direction.
The beginning of August marked the time Vole’s world would become complete when his new family came to the centre and fell in love with him. After multiple visits from the family to allow him to feel more settled in their company, and extensive advice and support sessions with the behaviour team; giving them the tools they would need to help and understand Vole when he got home, we waved Vole off home on 24th August to his loving new family.
Fast forward a few months and after volunteering with Dog School West Midlands on Tuesday evenings after work at the rehoming centre, I fell in love with Dog School.
The principle of helping owners read their dog's behaviour and body language and to help people prevent behavioural issues arising in the first place really appealed to me and when a position came up as ‘Coach’ with the West Midlands team I applied. After a successful interview, I was offered the job and transitioned over from the Rescue Centre in the New year.
Imagine my delight when I turned up to start my first Evesham training class, and who walked in but Vole and his mum and dad! I recognized him straight away but had to double check it was the same dog because he strolled in with such confidence compared to how I last saw him. By the end of our course Vole was relaxed enough to settle on his mat during classes and he particularly excelled at recall, loose lead work and learning from scratch how to ‘sit’, something he struggled with before coming to Dog School.
Fast forward 5 weeks and Vole graduated from our Dog School course with flying colours. Here he is with his proud mum and dad on his graduation!
It just goes to show, that with positive reinforcement you CAN teach an old dog new tricks and that with patience and guidance from loving owners dogs can overcome adversity to live the happy lives they all deserve.
If you’d like to learn more about our training classes give us a call on 07391 680154, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can fill out an enquiry form by visiting our main page: www.dogstrustdogschool.org.uk/west-midlands