Trip to Atlanta

Last weekend I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to fly to Atlanta, Georgia, USA for the first ever Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainers Conference.

The Highway into Atlanta City View of Atlanta from the Highway

The location of the seminar was Canine Assistants Training Facility in Atlanta. Canine Assistants is a truly inspirational charity that train dogs to assist children or adults that have disabilities, train seizure response dogs and also train companion dogs.  The wonderful thing about Canine Assistants is that they recognise the importance of training dogs using force free methods, so all of these clever dogs are trained using positive training methods and Canine Assistants base their relationships with dogs on trust, educations and understanding.

Canine Assistance HQ Canine Assistants HQ Tour of the Canine Assistants Facility

It was truly a fantastic event with speakers from so many disciplines. We were lucky to hear from Victoria Stilwell, Van Zeiler, Jennifer Arnold, Irith Bloom, Jim CrosbyMarty Becker, Corinna Murray, Cathy Bruce, Linda Michaels, Gina Phairas, Dale Ward, Paula Bloom and Daniela Cardillo. Discussing subjects including loose lead walking, dog training class curriculum’s, assessing dogs, marketing, the power of listening, social media,  canine cognition, science based dog training, the importance of education, handling aggressive dogs and dealing with anxious, fearful and aggressive behaviour.

Jo & Emma are pleased to be in Atlanta!!! Victoria tests out Resource Guarding by pinching a handbag & purse! Mmmmmm, coffe & snacks!

My personal favorite, and something that I’d like to work on in the UK is creating fear free vet visits for our dogs. I think veterinarians have such an important job to do and they are often in the line of fire for dogs that may well bite them due to illness, injury and fear. Taking the fear out of the vet surgery for our dogs and their owners has to be a priority, and certainly something to work on for the future.

 Puppy Cuddles Dr Marty Beckman  Fear Free Vet Practise

Another important issue is the art of listening. By that I mean dog trainers and behaviourists  listening to human customers. We need to really understand the worries, requirements and limitations of our human customers if we are going to be able to help smooth the path for a happier, stress free relationship between dog and owner.  I know we call ourselves dog trainers, but really we are teaching people and we must comprehend their needs and wishes if we are going to be able to do a good job for each individual pet family.

All in all I had a great trip, I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to go to Atlanta and I’m full of new ideas that I can pass on to my staff, customers and of course use at home with my own dog and family! I’m looking forward to next year already!

Jo having a cuddle with a puppy destined for great things! Who am I game??

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Exciting News!

I’m really excited to announce that Standish Dog Trainer is now a Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Listed Club! The ONLY club in the UK that is recognised by Victoria Stilwell and listed with the Kennel Club!
We will be offering Good Citizen Dog Scheme Classes and testing for all of the fantastic dogs and owners in our area!

GCDS Certificate

You can find out more about the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme and Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training.

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Nosey Parkers!!

I’m really excited to that Standish Dog Trainer is bringing yet another new activity for dogs and owners to the North West!

nosy p

 Nosey Parkers is our new scent work class for pet dogs and their owners. Any dog can participate in scent work – regardless of age, breed or ability and there are many benefits. This is a natural activity that your dog will enjoy, it is mentally stimulating and tiring and will  help to build or re-establish the bond between dog and handler. It is even suitable for dogs that prefer not to spend time around other dogs.

Nosey Parkers is starting in September, to find out more, you can contact Cathy Birchall, Standish Dog Trainers Scent Work Trainer on 01942 246862 or email:

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Where should you get a puppy from?

This blog idea has been going around in my head for sometime now and is a subject that I feel quite strongly about. With the documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed 2 being aired last night and my overhearing a conversation about where someone could get hold of a cheap puppy I thought I would ask you to consider a few ideas carefully before you go ahead an bring a canine family member into your home.

There are lots of places that you can get a puppy from, rescue centres, breeders, pet shops and from someone you know whose dog had puppies, to name just a few.  At the moment it would seem that the thing driving consumers is the price , as cheap as I can get it please. And what the puppy looks like.  However these things are not necessarily what we really need for our pets.  What about the health of the puppy?  Not just its health now, but long term health.  Buying a cheaper puppy may seem like good value now, but what about the vets bills involved when your puppy gets home and has fleas and diarrhoea? What about the vet bills that are incurred as it gets older and cannot walk properly, see properly or breath properly? Its behavioural well-being is also incredibly important, a puppy that has not been raised in the best environment over the first few weeks of life is at high risk of developing behavioural problems as an adult dog, and behavioural problems can be just as life threatening as poor health.

There are lots of  breeders out there doing an amazing job, producing puppies that have been bred from genetically tested parents, in a clean, safe, stimulating, family environment that go on to be healthy, well balanced canine members of society. These puppies may cost a little bit more, since the breeder needs to pay for health testing, vaccinations, good food and some even contribute to research into the long term health of their chosen breed. Money well spent in my opinion. These people will give you support for the life of your puppy.

However, there are people out there breeding puppies who have no regard for the health, mental well-being or future of the breed that they are selling. Their interest is purely in making money.  Some of these people call themselves breeders and sell their puppies from home and as soon as the puppies are sold they are mating their dogs again to get some more puppies to sell. This is really no life for the poor dog.  However, worse than this, there are what is known as puppy farms.  These may be old farms, outbuildings or  someone’s shed, where female dogs are kept  in cages, in poor conditions, with no exersise, no play, often unvaccinated and unwell, with limited human contact, producing as many puppies as they can to sell in to pet shops, dog supermarkets and on free ads in newspapers. On a motorway journey a few years ago a colleague and I saw a man trading puppies out of the back of a white van lined with cages of puppies. The people buying these puppies have no idea where they have come from, have not seen the puppy’s parents nor the environment it was brought up in.  Below are some photographs of a house that was used as a place to breed puppies, they do not make nice viewing but are real.  This kind of place is where puppies are being born and raised today!


As you can see, this is really not a nice place for a dog to live nor for puppies to be born in to. Yet this is going on all of the time, these photos were taken inside someone’s house.

Now we may all take offence at these photos, or object to media footage of dogs that can’t breath properly, we may criticise people that breed dogs, or sell dogs, we may rage at the Kennel Club and say they should do more to help.  However as long as the pet buying public continue to fund these unscrupulous people, they will continue to make money from us! One customer once said that his friend researched his new coffee maker more than his new puppy before he bought one, shocking, but common.  So I say that we should stop blaming everyone else for this sad state of affairs. We need to  educate ourselves and do our research before we go out and get a puppy. This will put puppy farmers and bad breeders out of business and we will start to see an improvement in the health and well-being of dogs in our country.


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Special Event

On Sunday 4th March 2012 a Charity Dog walk will be taking place to raise money for a very special little girl, Emma Hoolin. Emma is a four year old girl who in February 2010 was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects children, usually under the age of five. If you’d like to learn more about Emma and her story, please click here.

The dog walk is taking place at Haigh Hall, on the main drive.  I’ll be there with the Standish Dog Trainer Team introducing the dog walk and staying to answer any questions about your dogs.

If you can spare a couple of hours we would be delighted for you and your dogs to join us for our dog walk. Come along, bring your friends, enjoy a relaxing walk in the beautiful grounds of this stately home knowing that you are raising money for a really worthwhile cause.

Hope to see you there

Jo x


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The Holidays Are Coming…….

It has been a great year here at Standish Dog Trainer, we have added new staff members, learned new skills on training courses, grown the business adding new classes, added Talking Dogs Rally to our timetable, joined forces with Vets4Pets in Wigan providing puppy parties and having a great new office base for 1-2-1 training sessions.  In the dog training world we call this ending on a positive – and what a positive it is!

I’d like to just offer you a few thoughts on making the festive season a happy and safe one for your puppies and dogs.

Those of you who have attended puppy parties and puppy classes will recall me asking you to put your doggy goggles on and make sure your house is dog friendly.  This is really important at Christmas for dogs of all ages.  Christmas trees with their breakable glass baubles, prickly tinsel, electric lights and chocolates are a potential nightmare, so please be careful not to leave dogs unattended with Christmas Trees, if closing doors is difficult with open plan living then maybe baby gates, or a puppy pen around the tree is a good idea. Do remember that chocolate is toxic for dogs! Also on the list of things that have the potential to make your dog poorly is mistletoe, if you are wanting a cheeky kiss with your visitors perhaps hang the mistletoe outside the front door.  Christmas is a time of indulgence for us humans and while I’m not against giving dogs tit bits, be sensible.  Many humans end up with a belly ache over the festive season from a little too much rich food and it is not unusual for dog to end up with a poorly tummy from eating too much fancy food.

A combination of cold weather and change of routine can mean that walks happen at unusual times or don’t happen at all over the Christmas holiday.  This can result in your dog feeling out of sorts, so try to make time for those walks everyday.  They can be the highlight of your dogs day, running, jumping, playing with you and having a jolly good sniff is fabulous for your dog, the added bonus is that if your dog has had a good run and play they are more likely to settle quietly later so you can sit down for the Christmas day Dr Who special in peace!  Remember to clean paws carefully to get rid of bits of ice from between your dogs toes but also more importantly to make sure there is no grit / salt left on them, we don’t your dogs licking that and ingesting it.

We often end up having lots of visitors over the holiday period and a combination of excitement and alcohol can mean that the house can be noisier than usual.  Not all dogs are social butterflies and indeed some dogs can find the busy comings and goings quite stressful. I would recommend setting up a quiet zone for your dog, enabling them to get out of the way and rest in peace and quiet.  This may be in a covered crate, on their settle mat by your feet or tucked away in an upstairs room out of the way, it really depends on the dog.  Stuffed KONG, Stag Bar, Antos Cera Chews or Nylabone can be a real blessing for your dog at this time, having a really good chew in peace will help relax your dog.  Also beware of door dashers, the more sociable dogs can be very enthusiastic in their greetings and could easily end up bouncing outside in the excitement of visitors coming inside.

The working hours at your vet may change over the holiday season, so its worth checking what the opening hours are over Christmas and make sure you have the number for the emergency out of hours vet – be prepared!

Finally,I’d like to thank all of you for your support this year, I’ve loved every minute and I’m looking forward to working with you all in 2012!  I hope that you and your families have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Jo xx

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A week of training

At Standish Dog Trainer not all of the training is about training dogs, myself and my team keep our training and skills up to date by regularly attending training seminars and completing training courses.

Our week of training started last Saturday with a trip to the RSPCA Gonsal Farm to see Victoria Stilwell present her seminar.  As you know I am a member of Victoria’s team of Positively Trainers so this was a fantastic opportunity to meet with Victoria and the other Positively Trainers, including my good friend Emma Collings, to watch Victoria presenting, working new rescue dogs publicly in the seminar and learn about new training ideas and methods.  This was followed by a really popular and well planned Christmas Fayre at the RSPCA Centre with all of the Positively trainers in attendance.  It is a pleasure and an honour to work with a team of wonderful trainers!


Later in the week, my team and I updated our first aid skills on a Canine First Aid course run by my friend and colleague Hayley Lane.  We learned all about the best and safest way to help our canine friends should they become ill or are injured.  Practising bandaging skills, learning about Mouth to Nose Resuscitation and CPR for dogs.  Samuel’s dog Maggie came along with us and was a model patient allowing us to practise some of our new skills on her.

Finally my week ended with a day long course about first aid in the work place – no dogs here at all.  I felt very strange going on a training course with no treats in my pocket and sitting indoors all day.  The course was really detailed, covering health and safety, accident books, R.I.D.D.O.R, duty of care, first aid kits, cpr, bandaging and so much more!

So you see, a week in the life of a dog trainer is not always about training the dogs.  It is really important that we keep our skills up to date and modern, this includes the skills we use to help train your dogs, but also the skills that we use to provide a safe and complete service to our clients, human and canine alike.

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