Sue Rapp chats with Hounds about all things Doggie Speak…….
For anyone that hasn’t heard of Doggie Speak please can you explain a bit about yourself and what you offer?
As you know, I’m never happier than when I’m talking about dogs and the fun of helping them learn things…
And where did you train?
I don’t look at my learning as a one-off training event and I certainly haven’t finished learning yet. But here’s a brief timeline of my lightbulb learning moments!
Pre-2007 World of dogs and horses: finding the way to get a little, slightly bonkers chestnut mare to relax, relate to me and enjoy life more (see below**). GDBA puppy walking and happily owning a ‘failed’ but gorgeous guide dog trainee. 2007 – desperate times with new fast galloping, wide-ranging pointer puppy Reading Karen Pryor’s “Clicker Training For Dogs” – then her “Don’t Shoot The Dog” 2008 – .Wagmore Barn experts on the doorstep – CAP2 Clicker Training with Helen Phillips and Kay Laurence at “Learning About Dogs”. Following Helen Phillips’ “Clicker Gundog” guide to foundation behaviours. 2010 – took the Pointer out on grouse moors of Yorkshire… noting the good (and the not so good) of traditional gundog training 2012 – discovered on-line learning through Susan Garrett’s Say Yes Recallers dog training programme – learning as a layered set of games… (**this is exactly how I fixed the little chestnut mare – just didn’t give it a name at the time!) Still a Recallers Alumni … still reaping the value! 2017 – Canine Principles…Diploma with Distinction – Canine Coaching 2018 – Coursera – Brian Hare’s “Dog Cognition” – a short course taking a scientific spell-binding look at ‘The Genius of Dogs’
And what type of training method do you find effective?
Since opening the doors to Doggie Speak, I’ve discovered that there’s no one size fits all. My aim with all my doggie friends (dogs and handlers) is to get them enthusiastic and confident about the process. Sometimes it’s hard to stop owners ‘helping’ their dogs – not allowing them to use their fantastic brains. I nearly always begin with a game that develops self-control and confidence in both dogs and owners. And demonstrates the magic of how effectively you can communicate something to your dog without saying a word!
What areas can you help or have had experience in helping with? (behaviour, aggression etc.)
My field is from a training aspect than a behaviourist. If there’s an unwanted behaviour that can be modified through learning an acceptable domestic-friendly alternative – e.g. jumping up visitors versus confidently and happily staying in a safe place until invited to meet and greet – then I’m your man – or rather woman. Some fear and anxiety related behaviour we can work on but full-on apparently unprovoked damaging aggression is the territory of veterinary advice or a properly qualified and recommended behaviourist and would become apparent at a proper client interview.
I want to encourage new puppy owners to work with me to avoid all the problems that frequently occur at around 8 or 9 months of age. This is the typical time when these teenage doggie rascals find themselves abandoned to a Rescue Group simply because owners didn’t realise how important it is to begin a puppy’s education as soon as he arrives at his new home.
And as there’s so many ‘Rescue’ dogs and their owners that need special understanding help, I’m currently doing research and work on this area.
You offer group classes can you tell us more about that?
Group classes have great value in that dogs can learn to focus on and work with their handlers, despite the presence of other dogs and people and a strange environment: this is a skill they need for the real world. To see one small, very sociable and curious dog recalling at galloping speed past other dogs and people from one end of the training hall to the other is a huge reward for me and for his owner.
After each Doggie Speak group meeting, handlers are given feedback in writing and one or two easy things to practice before the following week.
Owners make new friends too… and we all learn to smile at our dogs, marvel at how clever they are and laugh at things when they don’t quite go to plan. And owners and their dogs are positively rewarded for their hard work. Rosettes and cards mark the achievement of basic skills (Grades 1, 2 and 3) so that progress is reinforced. And recorded.
Some information and contact details:
If you would like to contact me about any challenges your dog may have.
Please give me a call on: 01789 721969 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My charges are based on the practical. My fundamental wish is to help owners and dogs have a happy life together. Costs will be confirmed before a visit or before embarking on a series of group classes. A ‘taster’ group class is often available.