Join the Hunt: Exploring the Exciting World of Detection Dog Trials

Detection dog trials are a fantastic way to bond with your dog while honing their hunt drive, independence, control, and obedience. Georgie Armstrong, a detection dog trial expert, founded these trials in the UK back in 2019 and quickly went international after receiving numerous inquiries from people in America interested in starting their own trials. To ensure everyone could participate, Georgie developed a scoring system that could be used in all countries, regardless of skill level. Unlike other dog trials that can feel competitive and intimidating, detection dog trials are meant to be inclusive and enjoyable for all levels. The trials take place in all sorts of different venues, from football stadiums to railway stations, to provide your dog with environmental training and complement your training at home. In this week’s podcast and blog, we find out all about Detection Dog Trials

Podcast edition

Have you ever heard of detection dog trials? This fun and energetic activity involves working with your furry friend to search for odours in various environments. It’s a great way to build your dog’s hunt drive and independence, as well as improve their control and obedience. And with Georgie Armstrong’s innovative idea, these trials have gone international.

Georgie, a detection dog trial expert, started these trials in the UK back in 2019. But after doing a podcast in America about DDT, she received numerous messages from people in America who were interested in starting their own trials. Thus, Georgie decided to take her idea internationally and developed a scoring system that could be used in all countries, while still keeping the trials simple enough for everyone to enjoy.

Inclusive and Enjoyable for All Levels

Unlike other dog trials that can feel intimidating and competitive, detection dog trials are meant to be inclusive and enjoyable for all levels. Even if your dog has never done detection work before, they can start at the entry-level and work its way up. The trials take place in all sorts of different venues, from football stadiums to railway stations, to complement your training at home and provide your dog with environmental training.

International Scoring System

What’s more, the international scoring system makes it easy for everyone to participate and compete in the trials. Whether you’re in the UK, America, or Australia, the scoring system remains the same, and results can be viewed on a league table through an app. At the end of the year, there are even championships and awards.

Exciting Way to Bond with Your Dog

Overall, detection dog trials are an exciting way to bond with your dog while building their skills and confidence. Georgie’s innovative idea has gone international, and it’s not hard to see why. So if you’re looking for a new activity to do with your dog, consider giving detection dog trials a try! It’s a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog, and who knows, you may even end up competing in the championships.

LWDG Working Dog trials Coming Soon!

Georgie Armstrong is not only the founder of Detection Dog Trials, but she is also helping the LWDG develop a new Working Dog Trial system based on a similar scoring system used in DDT. The new trials will include a variety of different exercises and challenges for working dogs. Georgie’s expertise in developing fun and inclusive dog trials will be invaluable in ensuring that the new working dog trials are enjoyable for both the dogs and their handlers, while still providing a challenge for those who want to compete at a higher level. With Georgie’s guidance, the LWDG hopes to launch the new working dog trials soon, providing yet another exciting activity for our community and their canine companions

Further Listening

The similarities in training search dogs, and gundogs


When Should You Start Training Your Gundog?

If you are a proud owner of a gundog breed, you know that they are an intelligent and athletic breed. Proper training can help you to bring out the best in your four-legged friend, making them the perfect companion for hunting, retrieving, and other outdoor activities. But when should you start training your gundog? In this blog post, we will explore the ideal age for starting gundog training.

Understanding the Development of Gundogs

Before you start training your gundog, it is important to understand their development stages. Puppies go through different stages of physical and cognitive development. By understanding these stages, you can start training your gundog at the right time, helping them to become well-trained companions.

Early Development Stages

During the first few weeks of life, puppies are in a very delicate and vulnerable stage of development. From the moment they are born, they are completely dependent on their mother for their survival. At this stage, they are blind, deaf, and unable to regulate their own body temperature. As such, they spend most of their time sleeping, eating, and cuddling up to their mother and littermates.

As they approach the three-week mark, puppies start to become more active and curious. Their eyes and ears start to open up, and they begin to explore their surroundings. This is an exciting time for the puppies as they begin to develop their senses and learn more about the world around them. During this period, the puppies will start to interact more with their littermates, playing and roughhousing with one another. These interactions help them to develop their social skills and learn how to communicate with other dogs.


By the time the puppies reach six weeks of age, they are much more independent and confident. They have started to eat solid food and are able to regulate their own body temperature. At this point, they are ready to start socializing with humans and other animals. It is important to expose them to a variety of experiences at this stage to help them become well-adjusted and sociable adult dogs. This includes meeting new people, being introduced to different environments, and learning basic obedience commands. By starting their socialization and training early, you can help to ensure that your puppy grows up to be a happy, healthy, and well-behaved adult dog.

Socialisation and Developmental Stages

Between six to twelve weeks of age, puppies undergo a significant period of growth and development. During this time, their bodies are becoming stronger and more agile, and their minds are rapidly expanding. Puppies become more active and curious during this stage, exhibiting playful behaviour and exploring their surroundings with enthusiasm. It is crucial to take advantage of this time for socialisation, as puppies need to learn how to interact with people, other dogs, and their environment.

Socialisation during this stage is essential for a well-adjusted and confident adult dog. The more positive experiences and interactions a puppy has during this time, the more likely they are to grow up to be friendly and well-behaved dogs. Puppy socialisation classes, where they can interact with other puppies and people in a controlled environment, can be extremely beneficial at this stage.

At around twelve weeks of age, puppies start to develop their adult teeth, and their jaws become stronger. This is a sign that they are ready to continue into informal training.  It is important to note that every puppy develops at their own pace, and some may be ready for more advanced training earlier or later than others. However, it is generally recommended to start simple training at around twelve weeks of age when the puppy is physically and mentally capable of handling it. We have a course on this for society members Instilling Confidence and Cues In Your Puppy

Overall, the period between six to twelve weeks of age is a crucial time for a puppy’s socialisation and training. By providing them with positive experiences and training during this time, you can help them grow into well-adjusted and confident adult dogs. It is essential to be patient, consistent, and positive in your approach to training during this stage, as it can have a significant impact on your puppy’s future behaviour and personality.


When to Start Formal Gundog Training

When it comes to gundog training, the timing of when to start training your canine companion is critical to ensure a successful outcome. The ideal age for starting gundog training may differ based on the breed of your dog and their individual development, as every puppy grows and matures at their own pace. However, in general, most gundog breeds are ready to start training at around six months of age.

At this age, puppies have already developed enough physically and mentally to begin learning basic commands, obedience training, and retrieving exercises. They have gained enough strength and stamina to handle more rigorous activities, and their attention span and cognitive abilities have improved. Additionally, six months of age is an excellent time to start gundog training because your puppy has already passed the critical socialisation period, which is crucial for their long-term behaviour and adaptability.

However, it’s essential to keep in mind that the training process for gundogs is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each puppy is unique and may require varying levels of training and attention. Some gundogs may be ready to start training at an earlier age, while others may need more time to develop their physical and mental capabilities. It’s crucial to take your puppy’s individual development into account when deciding when to start their training.

Moreover, it’s important to start with basic training and gradually increase the difficulty of the exercises as your puppy progresses. Basic training can include obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel. It is crucial to ensure that your puppy has a strong foundation in basic training before moving on to more advanced exercises, such as retrieving or hunting.

Basic Training

Basic training should start as soon as your puppy is ready, usually around six months of age. Basic training includes obedience training, such as teaching your puppy to sit, stay, come, and heel. It is essential to start basic training early to build a strong foundation for more advanced training.

The LWDG provides an online course for all those wanting to train the basics to their gundog. the Hot Mess Handler course can be a great resource for you. This course is designed to help you overcome common challenges that you may face while training, and provide you with valuable techniques to improve your dog’s behaviour and obedience.

By enrolling in this course, you will have access to expert advice and training sessions, and a supportive community of fellow dog owners, all focused on helping you become a better handler and trainer.

The course covers essential topics which are fundamental to gundog training. By learning and applying these techniques, you can build a stronger bond with your dog and prepare them for more advanced training exercises. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced handler, the Hot Mess Handler course can help you take your basic training skills to the next level and set your gundog up for success.


Puppy training packs

Looking for a puppy training starter pack? Field and Fireside have put together different packs for our community here:

Training Starter Pack 1

Training Starter Pack 2

Training Starter Pack 3

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, gundog training should start as soon as your puppy is ready. The ideal age for starting gundog training is around six months of age, but this can vary depending on the breed and individual puppy. It is important to start with basic training and gradually increase the difficulty of training exercises. Proper training can help you to bring out the best in your four-legged friend, making them the perfect companion for hunting, retrieving, and other outdoor activities.

Transforming My Mindset Through Placeboard Training: A New Mother’s Journey

As part of our community, you may be familiar with place board training. In this blog post, LWDG Group Expert Emma Stevens, shares how placeboard training has helped her mindset during a really difficult time in her life.

While going through the late stages of her pregnancy in 2021 and early motherhood, Emma’s mental health deteriorated, and she struggled with feelings of guilt and inadequacy as she couldn’t provide her dogs with the physical and mental stimulation they needed. Using placeboards, a tool her dogs already understood, Emma was able to escape the discomfort and pain and get back to training her dogs. Emma now uses placeboard training not just as a teaching tool but also as a mindset tool for building owner confidence when training a dog.

Written by Emma Stevens



The Importance of Placeboards in Dog Training

I have always used placeboards for my gundog training, both my own and clients. I found benefit in the perfection, consistency and aid they give to owners which in turn helps me to teach. I find it fascinating that you can visibly see a dog understand and settle into training and progress so quickly with basic training with little commands by just the use of a board. I researched more into placeboards and their uses and truly thought I understand their limitations and capabilities. Little did I know how important they would become to me in future years to come and how much more they would teach me.

Coping with Physical and Mental Limitations

In the late stages of my pregnancy in the summer of 2021 up until just recently my mental health deteriorated, initially I didn’t cope with the limitations to my body and energy being pregnant dealt me and through the birth and then early motherhood the physical limitations, frustration, and extra things to think about having a newborn came with. Having never been someone who has struggled with mental health it was a huge blow to my confidence in my own training abilities.

With physically being the size of a whale just before the shooting season I couldn’t give my own dogs the physical and mental stimulation they needed, which massively affected me. I felt hugely guilty that I was letting my dogs down and letting myself down and then my newborn baby down with every decision I made. I went deep down the rabbit hole of not feeling good enough, feeling external pressures, that I now know weren’t even there, and not knowing who I was any more as without the dogs, the training, and the ability I held the dogs accountable to, who was I? This is where placeboards came in….



Placeboards as a Tool for Transformation

I had previously spent a lot of time perfecting the art of teaching placeboard training to clients and using it on the journey of the pup to adult with my own dogs. I felt that they were safe, consistent, and reliable. This is what I needed in this uncertain time in my life. Working with placeboards allowed me to escape the discomfort and pain in the late stages of my pregnancy and in the early stage of my journey into motherhood and get back out and train my dogs.

Using placeboards was using a tool that my dogs already understood and that they respected and did well on. It completely transformed my sessions from a battle and turned frustration into a joy to get back out and train. I could sit down and use them if I was struggling, have Harry in a pram nearby as we didn’t need to move much, and baby carry for a bit without hurting and still training. My mental health started to improve as well as my confidence in teaching again as the dogs did better and better on the placeboards.



Finding Confidence in Training Again

The placeboards gave me and the dogs the structure to learn again – or relearn should I say, how we would navigate the changes that our new 2-legged addition would bring. Using the placeboards we tackled the changes to our new life, their steadiness and self-control improved while I learnt the practical side of motherhood… how to get a pram out of a car and put it together, how to get Harry into a baby carrier without dropping him and the dreaded car seat contraption.

It allowed me to reteach retrieve delivery positions as I couldn’t have the traditional front delivery when pregnant or when carrying a newborn in a front carrier. It improved our group heelwork to be at a slower waddle to be then transitioned into walking with a pram and it gave us easy goals to work towards again. Amongst all of this, I was able to find myself again, albeit a new me, but parts of me I had lost when my head wasn’t in the right place to train.

Placeboards as a Mindset Tool

Placeboard training re-lit a fire inside me to train with clear achievable goals at a time when I needed to be achieving and succeeding for my own mental health. I could group train my own dogs and as my confidence grew to get back out with my own dogs with Harry with me, I was also able to think about returning to work. The more times we had successful trips out the more I was able to get up and do it.

Now placeboards for me have become much more than just a training tool but a mindset tool when owners now struggle. Now I not only use them for teaching new behaviours but also for teaching owners, direction, progression and building their confidence with their dogs training. Once a dog is conditioned to a board and able to do a few positions such as heel and recall, and they can target these then the list is endless as to their uses. They can be the confidence an owner needs to build the training when they are away from a trainer and the go-to when a step back is needed to reproof training without feeling like you have failed.



The Benefits of Placeboard Training for Dog Owners

For anyone struggling with their training, understanding progression, confidence or how to develop training I would 100% recommend placeboard training. The methods used in placeboard training offer the dog and owner consistency and clarity in their training, as well as have positive effects on the bond and relationship. They give you the opportunity to visibly see the dog learn and succeed, as well as the times they struggle which can then be easily corrected by making it easier again and then building back up to more difficult exercises.

This can be so refreshing for an owner’s mindset when they feel stuck in a rut training. Placeboard training is not just a teaching tool, it is a mindset tool for building owner confidence when training a dog.



Further Learning

The benefits of training a gundog with a place board

Make Your Own Placeboard

Society Member Course – Using A Place Board With A Working Dog

Society Members please check your events section for Palceboard Training Days with Emma Stevens


UK Toad Poisoning – Protecting Your Gundog from the Dangers

As the mating season for common toads begins, it’s important for pet owners to be aware of the potential dangers posed by these amphibians. With an increase in the number of toads out and about during this time, it’s crucial to take precautions to protect your pets from toad poisoning. This post provides information on the risks of toad poisoning to gundogs, common symptoms, preventative measures, and treatment options to help you ensure the safety and well-being of your four-legged friend.

Bufo Bufo – The Common Toad

As a dog owner, it’s essential to be aware of the potential dangers that can harm your four-legged friend. One such threat is the common toad, a species found throughout the UK. While toads may not seem like a significant risk, they can be deadly to dogs.

The common toad, scientifically known as Bufo bufo, is a widespread species throughout Western and Central Europe, including the UK, but is not found in Ireland. Common toads usually emerge from hibernation in late February, making it important for pet owners to be vigilant.

Understanding the Dangers of Common Toads

To understand the dangers of toads to gundogs, it’s crucial to know a bit about the toad’s defence mechanism. When threatened, toads secrete a toxic substance called bufotoxin from their skin. This toxin can cause severe symptoms in dogs, ranging from mild irritation to life-threatening complications.

It’s essential to take preventative measures to protect your dogs from coming into contact with toads and to seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect that your dog has been poisoned. With prompt treatment, most dogs can recover fully from bufotoxin poisoning.

The toad’s parotoid glands secrete venom, a thick, milky liquid when the toad is threatened. Larger toads have larger glands, leading to more venom secretion. Poisoning in domestic animals usually occurs when they play with, lick, or carry toads in their mouth, causing symptoms such as excessive drooling, vomiting, and oral irritation. If you suspect that your pet has ingested or mouthed a toad, it’s important to seek veterinary attention immediately.

Treatment for cases where the animal is showing signs of oral irritation (i.e. most cases) involves immediately and thoroughly flushing the oral cavity with water, taking care to prevent swallowing of the irrigating fluid. If no effects other than local buccal effects occur within 2 hours of exposure then serious toxicity is not expected.

Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS)

Symptoms of Toad Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs can vary, but some common signs include

  • Excessive drooling or foaming
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • In severe cases, the toxin can cause cardiac arrest, leading to death.

Gundogs at High Risk

Gundogs, in particular, are at high risk of toad poisoning due to their nature of hunting and retrieving prey. They may come into contact with toads while wetland, exploring ponds or other water bodies, leading to accidental ingestion of the toxic substance. Additionally, gundogs are trained to pick up objects with their mouths, making them more susceptible to ingesting the toad’s toxin.

Prognosis from Toad Poisoning

The prognosis for a dog that has been exposed to native UK toads can vary depending on the severity of the poisoning. In most cases, where the dog has only shown oral irritation or hypersalivation, the prognosis is good, and the dog can recover fully with prompt treatment.

However, if the toad poisoning is severe, and the dog shows symptoms such as seizures or difficulty breathing, the prognosis is guarded, and the outcome can be life-threatening. It’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect that your dog has been exposed to toad venom to increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your dog from toad poisoning. Teach your dog a solid ‘leave’ command to help you should you see a potential risk.

Keep your dog on a lead during walks, especially near water bodies. If you have a pond or pool in your garden, consider fencing it off or supervising your dog when they are near it.

If you suspect your dog has come into contact with a toad, seek veterinary attention immediately. Early treatment can prevent the toxin from causing severe damage to your dog’s organs and, in some cases, save its life.

Final thoughts:

The dangers of toads to gundogs should not be taken lightly. As a responsible dog owner, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions to protect your furry friend. If you suspect your dog has come into contact with a toad, seek veterinary attention immediately to ensure their safety and well-being.

More Information:

Here is a list of further places where you can get more information about the dangers of toads to gundogs:

  1. The Kennel Club – The Kennel Club is a UK-based organization that provides information on dog health and welfare, including advice on how to protect your gundog from toad poisoning. Visit their website at
  2. The British Veterinary Association – The British Veterinary Association is a professional body that represents veterinarians in the UK. Their website provides information on animal health and welfare, including guidance on toad poisoning in dogs. Visit their website at
  3. The RSPCA – The RSPCA is a UK-based animal welfare charity that provides advice and support to pet owners. Visit their website at
  4. Veterinary Poisons Information Service – The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is a 24-hour emergency service that provides advice to veterinary professionals on the treatment of poisoned animals. Their website includes information on toad poisoning in dogs and how to manage the condition. Pet owners can visit their website and seek advice at
  5. Your local veterinarian – Your local veterinarian is an excellent source of information on toad poisoning in dogs. They can provide advice on how to protect your gundog from the dangers of toads and what to do if your dog comes into contact with a toad. To find a veterinarian near you, visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ website at
  6. Field First Aid For Working Dogs

By accessing information from these sources, you can be better informed and prepared to protect your gundog from the dangers of toad poisoning.

The Importance of Boundaries for Your Gundog: Building Trust and Enhancing Performance

Welcome to our latest blog post on gundog training! In this podcast and post, we are going to delve deeper into the importance of establishing boundaries for your gundog and how to set and maintain them.

As a gundog owner, you know how important it is to have a well-trained dog that performs well in the field. However, have you considered the role that boundaries play in achieving that goal? In this week’s podcast and supporting blog post, we’ll discuss why boundaries are important for your gundog and provide tips for setting and maintaining them.

Podcast Edition:

What are Boundaries for Gundogs?

Boundaries for gundogs are the limits and expectations that you set for your dog’s behaviour. They are an essential part of training, as they help to establish trust between you and your dog. When your dog understands their boundaries, they feel more secure and are more likely to follow your commands.

Boundaries can include expectations around things like:

  • Appropriate behaviour around other animals or people
  • How to respond to specific commands
  • The expected behaviour in the field, such as retrieving or pointing
  • Appropriate behaviour when out on walks or in public places

Realistic Expectations: Patience is Key

It is important to have realistic expectations when it comes to gundog training. Dogs have different personalities, and some may learn faster than others. However, with consistent training and patience, you can achieve great results.

Why are Boundaries Important for Gundogs?

  1. Improves behaviour: Boundaries provide structure and consistency for your gundog, which can lead to better behaviour both in and out of the field.
  2. Builds trust: When your gundog knows what is expected of them, they will trust you more. This trust can lead to a stronger bond between you and your dog, which is important for a successful hunting partnership.
  3. Enhances performance: A gundog that knows their boundaries will perform better in the field. They will be more responsive to your commands, making them a more effective hunting companion.

Establishing Boundaries: Tips for Success

To establish boundaries effectively, you must first identify the behaviours that you want to encourage and discourage in your gundog. Once you have identified these behaviours, you can begin training your dog using positive reinforcement techniques.

Consistency is also critical in gundog training. You must be consistent in enforcing the same rules every time to help your dog understand what is expected of them. This consistency reinforces the desired behaviours and helps your dog to perform better in the field.

Building trust with your gundog is another crucial aspect of establishing boundaries. Spending time with your dog, playing with them, and rewarding them for good behaviour can help to build trust. When your gundog trusts you, they will perform better, making for a more successful hunting partnership.

Tips for Establishing and Maintaining Boundaries

  1. Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to setting boundaries for your gundog. Make sure everyone in the household is on the same page and is enforcing the same rules.
  2. Use positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is a great way to encourage good behaviour in your gundog. Reward your dog when they follow your commands or exhibits desirable behaviour.
  3. Correct unwanted behaviour immediately: Correcting unwanted behaviour immediately helps your gundog understand what is expected of them. This can prevent the behaviour from becoming a habit.
  4. Set realistic boundaries: Make sure the boundaries you set are achievable for your gundog. Setting unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration for both you and your dog.
  5. Practice, practice, practice: Regular training sessions are essential for maintaining boundaries and reinforcing good behaviour. Consistent practice will help your gundog understand their boundaries and perform better in the field.

Final Thoughts…

Boundaries are an essential part of gundog training. They provide structure and consistency for your dog, which can lead to improved behaviour and enhanced performance in the field. By setting and maintaining boundaries, you can establish trust with your gundog and build a stronger hunting partnership. Remember to be consistent, use positive reinforcement, correct unwanted behaviour immediately, set realistic boundaries, and practice regularly to achieve the best results.

Protecting Your Gundog: Steps to Prevent Dog Theft During Pet Theft Awareness Week

The Importance of Awareness

As a woman who owns and trains her own gundog, you likely have a deep emotional bond with your canine companion. That’s why it’s important to be aware that March 14-21 is Pet Theft Awareness week, as dog theft is unfortunately on the rise in the UK.

Direct Line Insurance reported that in 2021, the number of dogs stolen in the UK reached a seven-year high, with 2,760 dogs reported as stolen across the country – that’s equivalent to 53 dogs stolen every week, nearly eight every day. As a responsible dog owner, there are steps you can take to prevent dog theft and increase the chance of being reunited with your beloved pet if they are ever stolen:

Dog DNA Profiling can reduce theft of dogs

Invest in DNA profiling

DNA profiling is a highly reliable way to identify your dog and prove ownership. The DNA Protected kit from Cellmark Forensic Services is an affordable crime prevention initiative that includes a mouth swab and registration on a forensic dog DNA database for up to 10 years.

By taking this step, you can provide evidence that your dog belongs to you if it is ever stolen and then recovered. DNA profiling can also assist authorities in prosecuting the perpetrators of dog theft. It’s a small investment that could make a huge difference in the unfortunate event of a theft.

Microchip your dog

While microchips are a legal requirement for dogs, it’s important to ensure that your details are up to date with your microchip provider. Microchipping can fail or be removed by thieves, so it’s important to have other forms of identification in place as well.

Microchips provide a unique identification number for your dog, which can be scanned by vets and authorities to access your contact information. If your dog is stolen and then found, microchipping can help reunite you with your furry friend. However, microchips on their own are not always enough, which is why additional forms of identification are necessary.

Use visible deterrents

Showing that your dog is protected can deter potential thieves. The DNA Protected kit also includes a branded collar tag and window sticker, and high visibility leads and collars are also available.

Visible deterrents can signal to thieves that your dog is protected and that stealing it will not be easy. A branded collar tag and window sticker can show that your dog is part of a DNA database, and high-visibility leads and collars can make your dog more noticeable and less vulnerable to theft. These visible deterrents can be effective in preventing theft altogether.

Be aware of your surroundings

Stay alert when walking your dog in public places, especially in areas with high dog theft rates. Keep your dog on a leash and in sight at all times.

Being vigilant when out and about with your dog is important, particularly in areas where dog theft is known to occur. Keeping your dog on a leash and within your sight can help deter potential thieves and prevent your dog from wandering off. It’s also a good idea to avoid unlit or isolated areas and to vary your walking routine to avoid being predictable.

Train your dog to come when called

A well-trained dog that responds to recall commands can prevent them from straying too far from you or potentially being stolen.

Training your dog to come when called can be a valuable tool in preventing your dog from wandering too far and getting lost or stolen. A well-trained dog that responds to recall commands can be less vulnerable to theft, as it can be quickly retrieved if a thief attempts to snatch it. It’s important to practice recall commands regularly to reinforce your dog’s training.

Don’t leave your dog unattended

Leaving your dog unattended in public places can make them an easy target for thieves. Leaving your dog unattended, even for a brief moment, can make it an easy target for dog thieves. It’s important to always keep your dog in your sight and within your control. If you need to step away for a moment, consider bringing a trusted friend or family member to watch over your dog. If that’s not possible, find a secure location to leave your dog, such as a locked crate or a designated dog parking area. Additionally, never leave your dog unattended in a car, even for a short period of time. Not only is it dangerous for your dog’s health, but it also puts them at risk of being stolen. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your beloved gundog from potential theft.

Reporting Suspicious Activity: Taking Action to Protect Your Pet

Reporting suspicious activity is a crucial step in preventing dog theft and protecting your beloved pet. If you witness any suspicious behaviour, such as someone attempting to lure your dog away or taking photos of them without permission, report it to the authorities immediately. Be sure to provide as much information as possible, including a detailed description of the individual or individuals involved, the location of the incident, and any other relevant details. Reporting suspicious activity not only helps protect your own pet but also contributes to the safety of other dogs in the community. By taking action and speaking up, you can play a role in preventing pet theft and keeping your canine companion safe.


Protecting Your Gundog During Pet Theft Awareness Week and Beyond

In conclusion, as a responsible gundog owner, it’s crucial to be aware of the risks of dog theft and take preventative measures to protect your furry companion. With the number of dog thefts on the rise, it’s important to take action and educate yourself on how to keep your pet safe. By investing in DNA profiling, microchipping your dog, using visible deterrents, being aware of your surroundings, training your dog to come when called, and not leaving your dog unattended, you can help reduce the risk of theft and increase the likelihood of being reunited with your pet if they are ever stolen. Remember, March 14-21 is Pet Theft Awareness week, but protecting your pet from theft is a year-round responsibility. Stay vigilant, take action, and keep your beloved gundog safe.

LWDG Gundog Recall Challenge!


Share a photo or video of your gundog showing off their recall skills and explain in the caption how you keep them safe from potential theft. Tag us in your post and use the hashtag #LWDGRecall to enter the competition.
The most creative and informative entry will win a DNA Protected kit from Cellmark Forensic Services, which includes a mouth swab and registration on a forensic dog DNA database for up to 10 years. The winner will be announced on the last day of Pet Theft Awareness Week (March 21). Good luck and keep your four-legged friend safe!

Episode 79. Training Gundogs: Taming the Perfection Monster and Embracing Imperfection

In this podcast, we explore the pressure of training gundogs to be perfect and how it affects us as women trainers. We discuss the negative consequences of perfectionism, including frustration, burnout, and harm to the dog, and offer strategies for overcoming the perfection monster. We also delve into the benefits of embracing imperfection and celebrating small victories along the way. Join us as we navigate the journey of training gundogs and learn to tame the perfection monster within us.

Podcast Edition

Pure Filth Dog Shampoo Review: Keeping Gundogs Healthy and Looking Their Best

Written By Charlotte Perrott

As a woman who is passionate about training gundogs, I understand the importance of using high-quality products that can help keep my dogs healthy, happy, and looking their best. That’s why I was thrilled to get my hands on Pure Filth Dog Shampoo from Wow Grooming, a company that specializes in top-notch grooming products for dogs.

As the name suggests, Pure Filth is designed to get rid of even the most stubborn dirt and grime, making it an excellent choice for dogs like my Springer, Buddy, who loves nothing more than rolling around in the mud or digging in the dirt. To truly put the shampoo to the test, I took Buddy to the beach and let him run wild, playing in the sea, and getting completely covered in dirt and sand. The shampoo is incredible at removing the smell of fox poo, but i wasnt going to encourage him to roll in that!

Right away, I was impressed by the quality of the shampoo itself. The formula is gentle enough for frequent use, yet it was incredibly effective at removing all of the dirt and grime from Buddy’s coat. The shampoo lathered up beautifully and had a pleasant scent that wasn’t overpowering.

Helping Remove Dead Hair

But what really set Pure Filth Dog Shampoo apart for me was the incredible effect it had on Buddy’s coat. After using it, his fur was noticeably softer and shinier, and it seemed to help loosen any dead hair. This is especially important for gundogs like Buddy, who spend a lot of time in the field and can easily get dirty and tangled.

Another thing that impressed me about Wow Grooming is that they offer a wide range of products that are specifically designed for different coat types and grooming needs. As a dog owner with two pups who have very different coat types, it’s incredibly helpful to have access to products that cater to their individual needs.

It’s worth noting that shampooing your dog too frequently can strip their coat of natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. So it’s essential to choose a gentle formula that won’t harm your pup’s skin. Pure Filth Dog Shampoo from Wow Grooming is a fantastic choice, as it is formulated with natural ingredients that are gentle on even the most sensitive skin.

Overall, I highly recommend Pure Filth Dog Shampoo from Wow Grooming to any dog owner who wants to keep their pup’s coat healthy, shiny, and clean. It’s a fantastic product that delivers on its promises, and it’s clear that Wow Grooming takes great care to create high-quality grooming products that truly make a difference

Visit Wow Grooming at Crufts

Wow Grooming, the company known for producing premium grooming products for dogs, has announced that they will be exhibiting their products at Crufts this week. Crufts is a world-renowned dog show that attracts dog lovers from all over the globe. Wow Grooming’s products, including their popular Pure Filth Dog Shampoo, will be on display for attendees to explore. Visitors can stop by Wow Grooming’s booth to learn more about their range of products, and speak with their team to gain insights into dog grooming techniques. This is a great opportunity for dog owners and enthusiasts to gain valuable information and see the quality of Wow Grooming’s products for themselves. Visit Hall 5 Stand 83.

From Both Sides: A Look at Rehoming Dogs

When you have to rehome a dog, it can be a heart-wrenching experience. You may have bonded with your four-legged friend for years, but sometimes circumstances beyond your control mean that you have to give them up.

Fortunately, there are kind-hearted souls out there who are ready and willing to take these dogs in and provide them with a loving home. In this blog post and podcast with LWDG Group Expert Samantha Thorneycroft-Taylor, we’ll be talking about both sides.

We’ll learn about the reasons why people have to give up their pets, and how the experience affects them. And we’ll also chat about what motivates people to take in rescue dogs and the challenges and rewards that come with it. So whether you’re considering rehoming a dog yourself, or thinking about taking one in, this blog post is for you.

Podcast Edition:

Why do people have to give up their dogs?

Rehoming a dog can be hard for both the owner and the pet alike. It is always heartbreaking to think of our four-legged family members being moved from their homes, but there are often valid reasons why people have to give up their pets. Personal circumstances, such as health or disability concerns, extensive travel, or incompatible living arrangements may make rehoming an unavoidable situation.

Moving somewhere that no longer permits pets can force owners to find another loving home for their friends. Additionally, financial struggles can leave some families unable to take proper care of their dogs due to rising costs of food, veterinary bills, and daycare requirements.

For some a gundog can no longer be fit for purpose due to age or illness a working family pet can no longer cope with training, making it impossible for the dog to remain in its original home.

Regardless of the reasons why people choose to rehome their pets, it is always an emotionally difficult decision. By understanding the reality of these situations we can all come together as animal lovers and share support with those giving up and welcoming dogs into new homes.

How it feels to have to give up a dog you love

For those of us who have ever had to give up a beloved pet, it can feel like a devastating experience. It’s hardly surprising that rehoming a dog is often filled with complex emotions such as sadness, guilt, and fear for the animal’s future well-being.

There can be a deep sense of loss when we have to say goodbye to their companionship and unconditional love which can lead to an experience that is both heartbreaking and intensely hard to cope with.

Although it may seem unbearable at the time, it is important to remember that rehoming can also be incredibly beneficial for both the new owners as well as our cherished four-legged friends. Every dog deserves the chance to find a loving home in which they are happy and well cared for – something we should all strive for.

Rescuing and Rehoming – Are they the same thing?

The terms ‘rescuing’ and ‘rehoming’ are often used interchangeably, but there is actually a subtle difference between the two.

Rescuing generally refers to the act of taking in a dog, usually from a shelter or other type of rescue organisation. This is done with the intention of providing them with a forever home and offering long-term care and love.

Rehoming, on the other hand, involves taking in an animal that already has an owner, who for whatever reason has had to give them up. This could be because of personal circumstances, incompatible living arrangements or even financial difficulties.

The process of rehoming a dog

Rehoming a pet is a difficult process that should never be undertaken lightly. For the dog and the owner, it can be a heartbreaking journey to find a new home but knowing that you are sending Fido off to a loving place can help ease some of the pain.

Those looking for rescue dogs should always do their due diligence – researching them before opening their homes to these animals, making sure that these dogs will be provided with the necessary attention, love, nutrition, and safe living quarters.

For those who sadly have to give up their pets, it may take some time to do research on potential guardians and vetting individuals and families before entrusting them with your beloved family companion.

Regardless of the situation, finding homes for adoptable dogs is an incredibly gratifying endeavor for everyone involved and all involved parties should strive to make sure each dog lands in its forever home!

The benefits of rescuing a gundog

There are so many wonderful benefits to rescuing a dog. Those who take rescue dogs into their homes can feel immense joy knowing they have had some part in helping them find the safety and love they deserve.

Furthermore, having a rescue dog in your life brings many other rewards including companionship, laughter, trust and enduring loyalty. Rescue dogs may also prove beneficial for those going through difficult times emotionally as these amazing creatures often prove to be excellent listeners!

The challenges of rescuing a gundog

Rescuing a dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but also comes with its own unique set of challenges. For those opening their hearts and homes to rescue pups, it is essential to remember that they often come with a history, both physical and social – issues such as fear and aggression towards people or other animals that must not be ignored. This can put strain on an adopter’s resources, both in terms of time and money, while they creatively figure out how to provide the training and nurturing needed to rehabilitate the animal.

Similarly, there’s an emotional tug-of-war involved when it comes to forming attachments before having to eventually say goodbye. Even so, the end result makes all the effort more than worthwhile; transforming lives for both pet parents and their four-legged friends.

Final Thoughts…

Rehoming a dog is not an easy decision to make, but sometimes it is the best thing for them. It can be hard to find a new home for your dog, but there are many resources available to help you. Rescue dogs come with their own set of challenges, but also provide a lot of love and joy. If you are considering rehoming your dog or rescuing a dog, please do your research and reach out to organizations like shelters or rescues who can help you through the process.

How to Remove Dog Odour and Stains: Tips for Gundog Owners

Owning a dog is a wonderful experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most common problems that many dog owners face is dealing with the stains and smells that their pets leave behind. Removing dog odour that clings to clothes, cars, and homes, can be difficult to get rid of. In this article, we will provide you with some tips on removing dog odour and how to remove dog marks from your clothes, car, and home.

Removing dog odour from clothes

Your dog’s odour can easily transfer onto your clothes, making it difficult to remove. Here are some tips to help you get rid of the smell:

  1. Wash clothes regularly: The best way to remove dog odour from clothes is to wash them regularly. Use a high-quality laundry detergent and wash them in hot water. Be sure to follow the washing instructions on the label.
  2. Use vinegar: Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. The vinegar will help to neutralize the odour and leave your clothes smelling fresh.
  3. Use baking soda: Add a half-cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. The baking soda will help to absorb the odour and leave your clothes smelling fresh.
  4. Use a pet hair remover: A pet hair remover can help to remove pet hair and dander from your clothes, which can contribute to the odour. Use it before washing your clothes to help reduce the odour.

Removing dog odour from cars

If you frequently travel with your dog, then you may have noticed that your car smells like your furry friend. Here are some tips to help you get rid of the smell:

  1. Use baking soda: Sprinkle baking soda on the seats and carpets of your car. Leave it overnight and then vacuum it up the next day. The baking soda will help to absorb the odour.
  2. Use an air freshener: Use an air freshener designed specifically for pet odours. Be sure to choose one that doesn’t just mask the odour but neutralizes it.
  3. Clean the car regularly: The best way to keep your car smelling fresh is to clean it regularly. Vacuum the carpets and seats, wipe down the dashboard and steering wheel, and clean the windows.
  4. Use a seat cover: Use a seat cover to protect your car seats from pet hair, dander, and odours.

Removing dog odour from homes

If your home smells like your dog, then you may be wondering how to get rid of the odour. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Clean carpets and floors regularly: Vacuum carpets and floors regularly to remove pet hair, dander, and odours. Use a high-quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to ensure that you’re getting rid of as much pet hair and dander as possible.
  2. Use an air purifier: An air purifier can help to remove pet odours from the air. Be sure to choose one that’s designed for pet owners.
  3. Use a dehumidifier: High humidity can contribute to pet odours. Use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity levels in your home and help control odours.
  4. Use an odour eliminator: Use an odour eliminator specifically designed for pet odours. These products work by neutralising the odour rather than just masking it.

Removing Doggy Debris

As a gundog owner, you know accidents can happen, and your canine companion may leave stains on your clothes, car, or home. Removing stains is just as important as removing odour, so we’ve compiled some tips to help you out.

Firstly, if your washing machine doesn’t remove stains, you can try some at-home alternatives.

Here are some specific tips for removing common types of stains:

Poop: Start by immediately picking up and disposing of the waste. Then apply an equal amount of cold water and distilled white vinegar to the affected area. Blot the section with a cloth or scrub with a soft-bristle brush, repeating spraying and scrubbing until the liquid is absorbed and the stain disappears. Finally, sprinkle baking soda on the area and let it dry overnight before vacuuming.

Urine: To remove urine stains, generously sprinkle baking soda onto the stain and let it sit for five minutes to soak up the liquid. Then combine baking soda, two cups of vinegar, and water into a spray bottle and spray the solution onto the stain, letting it set for at least 10 minutes. Blot the stain with a cloth and when it’s dry, shine a urine detector to ensure you eliminated the underlying stain. Repeat spraying and blotting as needed.

Mud: For mud stains, let a new stain dry. If the stain is old, twist or bend the affected section of fabric to break off loose dirt and vacuum it up. Then wet a cloth with cold water and wipe the stain away. If possible, machine washes the garment or bed, and if not, vacuum again.

Blood: If the bloodstain is still wet, soak the section with blood immediately in cold water. Hot or warm water will set the stain. Gently blot the stain with a wet cloth until you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible. Then, combine equal parts of baking soda, white vinegar, and cold water together and set for thirty minutes. Finally, blot the mixture out. If the bloodstain hasn’t lifted, repeat the process or apply an enzyme-based stain remover or hydrogen peroxide for hard-to-remove stains.

By following these tips, you can remove stubborn stains from your clothes,  car, or home, and keep your living space clean and fresh-smelling. With a little effort, you can create a comfortable environment for you and your beloved pet.

Final Thoughts…

Dealing with dog odour can be frustrating, but with these tips, you can keep your clothes, car, and home smelling fresh and clean.  By following these simple steps, you can create a clean and comfortable environment for yourself, your family and friends,  and your gundog. With a little effort and the right products, you can easily remove dog odour from your clothes, car, and home. So, don’t let the smell of your four-legged friend ruin your life. Try these tips and enjoy a fresh and clean living space for all.


Further Reading: Tackling the Dog Walking Blues: Tips for Training Gundogs in the Rain

Understanding and Managing Canine Arthritis: Symptoms, Treatments, and Lifestyle Changes

This post provides an overview of canine arthritis, including its prevalence, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments. It also emphasizes the importance of lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and physical therapy, in managing this condition and improving the quality of life for affected dogs.

Written by Guest Expert Jo Cuddy – Zen Canine Therapy

80% of dogs over eight years old and 20% of dogs over one-year-old have arthritis. (Source: Canine Arthritis Management)

Canine arthritis is thought of as an old dog’s disease, but it isn’t.

It is estimated that 35% of all dogs in the UK have arthritis and it is one of the commonest causes of elective euthanasia. 24.5% of Labradors are euthanised due to musculoskeletal disorders (source: Canine Arthritis Management).

Arthritis is often hard to diagnose or slow to be diagnosed. This is no criticism of vets or owners. There are several reasons for this including:

  • It is an insidious disease
  • Dogs are stoical
  • Arthritis waxes and wanes
  • Symptoms can be very mild, to begin with as well as intermittent or indicative of something else.

Symptoms of arthritis can include: –

  • Slowing down a little
  • Less keen to go on walks
  • Less tolerant of other dogs
  • Sleeping more
  • Lameness
  • Not settling at night
  • Struggling to lie down or sit
  • Hesitant jumping into or off something
  • Spending more time alone
  • Changes in muscle mass
  • Unable to stretch fully
  • Unable to shake fully
  • Not wagging their tail fully
  • Licking paws
  • Sensitive when touched

A diagnosis of arthritis is not the end as there is much we can do to help our dogs continue to live a good life however it can take a while to come to terms with the diagnosis and your life with your dog will have to change which is where support groups such as the LWDG can help.


Arthritis (sometimes referred to as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease) can be classified as normal forces on abnormal joints or abnormal forces on normal joints.

The cause can be primary – wear and tear – or secondary to diseases such as hip dysplasia, as a result of a trauma/surgery or from inappropriate use.

There is no cure but progression can be slowed with therapies and lifestyle/environment adaptations and pain can be effectively managed.

A multimodal approach is the gold standard for the treatment of arthritis and this requires the veterinary team, the owner and the therapists to work together. As arthritis is a disease that waxes and wanes the effectiveness of treatments and medications may change as the disease goes through its natural cycle.


Pharmaceutical treatment options include analgesics and injections to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation.

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) are commonly prescribed analgesics and whilst not suitable for dogs with kidney, liver or gastrointestinal issues are very effective in managing pain and inflammation for many dogs.

NSAIDs block the effects of special enzymes — specifically Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzymes. Pain signals are electrical messages sent from the nerves to the brain telling the body that something hurts. Pain levels are increased by prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are released by damaged tissue and cox enzymes play a key role in the production of prostaglandins. By blocking the cox enzymes, NSAIDs stop the body from making as many prostaglandins resulting in less inflammation and less pain.

Librela is the new injectable for the relief of pain caused by arthritis having been on the market since March 2021. Librela works by blocking pain signals and it is an antibody rather than a drug. Librela is administered monthly and this is also a great opportunity for the vet to monitor and assess the dog on a regular basis.

Dogs with severe arthritis may well receive injectables and NSAIDs and other forms of pain relief such as paracetamol (or the veterinary version Pardale V). Paracetamol offers pain relief but does not reduce inflammation.

There is some evidence that supplements such as Yu Move improve mobility and joint health however not many studies have been done and the market is unregulated, unlike the pharmaceutical market.

I am not a vet so this is just an overview of some of the medications available – your vet will advise on the best treatment options for your dog.

Weight Loss

One thing everyone agrees upon is that weight loss is one of the best things we can do for our arthritic dogs. Overweight dogs will be putting extra stress on already painful joints and, in addition, fat is known to increase inflammation in joints. In some cases, dogs that have lost weight have been able to stop pain relief medication (only stop medication on the advice of your vet).

It is harder to manage weight when the dog is less mobile but there are lower calorie foods available, reducing snacks (however sad those eyes are!) and shorter but more frequent walks can all help. Hydrotherapy is a great way to exercise a dog whilst reducing the impact on painful joints.

Therapies For Arthritis

How can a physical therapist help?

  • They use the tools available to them to help slow the progression of the disease by maintaining or improving the dog’s mobility and retaining/rebuilding as much muscle mass as possible
  • To restore movement and function or maintain and improve mobility (dependent on the stage of the disease)
  • Help prevent compensatory issues by building/treating compensatory issues
  • Reduce pain levels

Tools they may use include:

  • Hydrotherapy, if this is an option as not everyone has a centre nearby, to maintain mobility and muscle mass. Hydrotherapy also allows the dog to move with reduced pressure on their limbs encouraging the placement of all four limbs and improved range of motion. Hydrotherapy is a great way to aid weight loss.
  • Massage and myofascial release to treat compensatory issues which are a major cause of pain and mobility issues in an arthritic dog.
  • Massage balances the nervous system relaxing the mind as well as the body. Being in pain causes the fight or flight part of the nervous system to predominate and the dog will be in a constant state of stress, this is why the pain often brings about behavioural changes.
  • Exercises to build core and postural supportive muscles and aid proprioception. Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense movement, action and location. Proprioception is one of the first things lost with diseases such as arthritis and loss of proprioception will mean the dog does not have as much awareness of the location of their limbs leading to stumbling, loss of traction, paw knuckling all of which will aggravate already painful joints, strain muscles and disrupt fascia so good proprioception is important.
  • Functional exercises including passive range of motion exercises which aid proprioception; aid mobility by “reminding” the joint of its capabilities and gently encouraging the dog to use it (as arthritis waxes and wanes there will be times when the dog has good mobility but the joint may be locked down by the body’s protective mechanisms); replication of joint movement is thought to encourage the formation of synovial fluid which can help prevent cartilage erosion caused by arthritis.

 Anything Else?

There are several small and low-cost changes that will positively impact your dog’s quality of life such as using a ramp for the car, reducing stair usage, and putting non-slip mats on hard flooring.

  • Pain scores charts- we often don’t notice changes in our own dog but completing a pain scale will help identify changes in behaviour, coat, posture, mood, sleep patterns etc.
  • A Good Day / Bad Day Diary (link here) is useful to take to your vet consult as it’s easy to forget when they’ve had good or bad days.
  • Monthly photographs will highlight any postural changes and coat changes both good and bad and are a very useful aid for your therapist.
  • Videos – This allows your vet to see the dog moving which they can’t always do in the clinic also the dog may be having a good day that day so this allows the vet to see them on a bad day.

As well as your vet, vet nurse and therapist, Canine Arthritis Management is an excellent resource: –

This is just an overview and in no way meant to replace veterinary advice. If you have any concerns regarding your dog’s health, please contact your vet.

Other articles by Jo Cuddy

Protecting Your Dog from Injury: Focus On Jumping

Taking Training One Step At A Time – Transitional Behavioural Change in Dogs and Humans

As humans, we all experience a change in our lives at some point. Whether it’s a change in job, a move to a new city, or even just a change in our daily routine, it can be a challenging time. Dogs, too, experience changes in their lives, whether it’s a new owner, a new home, or a change in routine. Understanding how transitional behavioural change works in both dogs and humans can help us navigate these changes with ease.

Podcast Edition

What is Transitional Behavioral Change?

Transitional behavioural change refers to the changes in behaviour that occur when individuals experience a significant change in their environment, routine, or lifestyle. This can include changes such as moving to a new home, starting a new job, or introducing a new pet to the household. Both dogs and humans can experience transitional behavioural changes, and the impact on behaviour can be significant.

In dogs, transitional behavioural changes can manifest in a variety of ways. They may become anxious, fearful, or display destructive behaviour. In some cases, dogs may also become more aggressive or exhibit separation anxiety. These changes can be challenging for both the dog and its owner, but with patience and understanding, they can be managed successfully.

In humans, transitional behavioural changes can also manifest in a variety of ways. They may experience anxiety, and depression, or have difficulty adjusting to the new environment or routine. It’s common to feel overwhelmed or stressed during times of change, but there are strategies that can help us manage these changes effectively.

Managing Transitional Behavioral Change in Dogs

When managing transitional behavioural change in dogs, it’s essential to be patient and understanding. Dogs may take some time to adjust to their new environment, routine, or lifestyle, and it’s important to give them the time they need to settle in. Here are some tips for managing transitional behavioural change in dogs:

  • Establish a routine: Dogs thrive on routine, so it’s important to establish a consistent routine as soon as possible. This can help them feel more secure and comfortable in their new environment.
  • Provide plenty of exercise and stimulation: Exercise and mental stimulation are essential for a dog’s well-being. Providing plenty of opportunities for exercise and play can help reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Use positive reinforcement training: Positive reinforcement training is an effective way to help dogs learn new behaviours and adjust to their new environment. Rewarding good behaviour with treats, praise, or play can help reinforce positive behaviours.
  • Seek professional help if necessary: If your dog is exhibiting extreme behavioural changes or is experiencing severe anxiety, it’s important to seek professional help. A veterinarian or animal behaviourist can provide guidance and support to help your dog manage transitional behavioural changes.

Managing Transitional Behavioral Change in Humans

Managing transitional behavioural change in humans can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help us navigate these changes effectively. Here are some tips for managing transitional behavioural change in humans:

  • Practice self-care: During times of change, it’s essential to practice self-care. This can include activities such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and family.
  • Establish a routine: Like dogs, humans also thrive on routine. Establishing a consistent routine can help reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Set realistic expectations: It’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself during times of change. Don’t expect to adapt to the new environment or routine overnight. It takes time to adjust, and it’s essential to be patient and understanding with yourself.
  • Seek support: Don’t be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or a professional if necessary. Having a support system in place can help make the transition easier.

Final Thoughts

Transitional behavioural change can be challenging for both dogs and humans, but with patience and understanding, it can be a good thing long term.

One important thing to keep in mind when managing transitional behavioural change in both dogs and humans is to approach the situation with a positive mindset. Change can be difficult, but it can also be an opportunity for growth and development.

Embrace the change as an opportunity to learn new things, and remember that with time and patience, both you and your pet can adjust to the new environment, routine, or lifestyle.

Celebrate small wins along the way, and don’t hesitate to ask for help or support when you need it. Remember, taking training one step at a time can help make the journey smoother for both you and your four-legged friend.

Preparing for Your First Gundog Working Test Competition: A Comprehensive Guide


What is a gundog working test?

A gundog working test competition is an event where gundogs and their handlers compete against each other in a variety of simulated hunting scenarios. These tests are designed to evaluate the skills and abilities of gundogs, including retrieving, pointing, flushing, and game-finding. Competitors are judged on their ability to work effectively with their dogs and to complete tasks quickly and accurately.

Gundog working test competitions are typically held in outdoor settings and are often judged by experienced gundog handlers or trainers. These events provide a great opportunity for gundog enthusiasts to showcase their skills, to learn from other handlers, and to improve the performance of their dogs.

The benefits of competing in gundog working tests

There are several benefits to competing in gundog working tests, including:

  1. Improved training: Competing in gundog working tests provides an opportunity for handlers to evaluate their dog’s abilities and identify areas for improvement. The feedback and advice received from experienced judges can help handlers to refine their training techniques and develop more effective training plans.
  2. Socialisation: Gundog working tests provide a great opportunity for handlers to meet and socialise with other gundog enthusiasts. This can lead to the development of new friendships, the sharing of tips and advice, and the opportunity to learn from other handlers’ experiences.
  3. Increased confidence: Successfully competing in a gundog working test can be a great confidence booster for both the dog and the handler. Achieving a high score or placing in a competition can be a great source of pride and motivation to continue improving and competing.
  4. Exercise and mental stimulation: Gundogs are active and intelligent animals that require regular exercise and mental stimulation. Competing in gundog working tests provides a fun and challenging way to keep dogs physically fit and mentally sharp.
  5. Recognition: Winning or placing in a gundog working test can be a great source of recognition and accomplishment for both the dog and the handler. This recognition can lead to opportunities for breeding or training, as well as increased visibility within the gundog community.

Importance of preparation for the competition

Choosing the right competition

Choosing the right gundog working test competition is important for several reasons:

  1. Skill level: Different gundog working test competitions may have varying levels of difficulty and skill requirements. It is important to choose a competition that matches your current skill level and that of your dog. Entering a competition that is too difficult can be discouraging, while entering one that is too easy may not be challenging enough to push you and your dog to improve.
  2. Rules and requirements: Each gundog working test competition may have different rules and requirements. Understanding these rules and requirements is crucial to properly prepare for the competition and to avoid disqualification. Different breeds have different rules so check out the rules on the Kennel Club. 
  3. Training focus: Different gundog working test competitions may place emphasis on different skills or areas of training, such as retrieving, pointing, flushing, or game finding. Choosing a competition that aligns with your training focus can help you to showcase your skills and improve in areas where you may need more practice.
  4. Location and schedule: Choosing a competition that is within a reasonable distance and that fits your schedule is important. Attending a competition that is too far away or that conflicts with other commitments may not be feasible.
  5. Experience and networking: Some gundog working test competitions may be more prestigious or have a larger community of experienced handlers and trainers. Choosing a competition with a strong community can provide opportunities to learn from and network with others in the field.

Researching different competitions

Researching different gundog working test competitions is an important step in preparing for a competition. Here are some steps you can take to research different competitions:

  • Search online: Use search engines to look for gundog working test competitions in your area. You may find information on the competitions’ websites or social media pages.
  • Check with gundog organisations: Check with local gundog organisations or breed clubs to see if they are aware of any upcoming competitions. These organisations may also be able to provide additional information and advice on the competition.
  • Talk to other handlers: Speak to other gundog handlers you may know or meet through training sessions or events. They may have information on upcoming competitions or be able to provide recommendations based on their own experiences.
  • Read competition rules and requirements: Once you have identified potential competitions, be sure to read the rules and requirements for each one carefully. This will help you to determine if the competition is a good fit for you and your dog and will help you to properly prepare.
  • Attend competitions as a spectator: If possible, attend a gundog working test competition as a spectator to get a sense of what to expect. This can also be a good opportunity to meet other handlers and ask questions about their experiences.

Understanding the rules and requirements

Understanding the rules and requirements of a gundog working test is essential for proper preparation and successful performance. Here are some tips for understanding the rules and requirements of a competition:

  • Read the rules carefully: Read through the rules and requirements for the competition carefully, and make note of any specific regulations or guidelines that must be followed. Pay attention to any details regarding the tasks or exercises that will be performed, the scoring system, and any equipment or gear that is required.
  • Seek clarification: If you have any questions or are unsure about a particular rule or requirement, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from the competition organisers or judges. It is better to ask questions beforehand than to risk disqualification or a poor performance on the day of the competition.
  • Practice tasks and exercises: Once you understand the tasks and exercises that will be performed in the competition, practise them regularly with your dog. This will help you and your dog to become more comfortable and confident in performing these tasks and can help you to identify areas that may need more work.
  • Review past performances: If the competition has been held in previous years, review past performances and scores to gain a better understanding of what judges are looking for and how you and your dog can improve.
  • Prepare equipment and gear: Make sure that you have all of the necessary equipment and gear required for the competition, and ensure that it is in good condition. This may include leads, whistles, dummies, and clothing suitable for outdoor conditions.

Selecting the appropriate competition for your skill level and experience

When choosing a gundog working test competition, it is important to select one that is appropriate for your skill level and experience. Entering a competition that is too difficult may be frustrating and discouraging, while entering a competition that is too easy may not provide enough of a challenge to help you and your dog improve.

If you are new to gundog working test competitions, consider starting with a beginner-level competition that has simple exercises and scoring systems. As you and your dog become more experienced and confident, you can move on to more advanced competitions that have more complex exercises and scoring systems.

It is important to be honest with yourself about your skill level and experience when choosing a competition and to not be afraid to start small and work your way up. Remember that the goal of the competition is not just to win, but to have a fun and rewarding experience with your dog while improving your skills together.

Training your gundog for the competition

Understanding the skills required for the competition

When training your gundog for a competition, it is important to have a clear understanding of the specific skills and tasks required for the competition. This will help you to tailor your training to focus on the areas that need the most improvement and to build a training plan that is geared towards the specific tasks and exercises that will be performed in the competition.

It is also important to remember that gundog working test competitions are not just about obedience, but also about demonstrating the practical skills that are required in real-life hunting scenarios. This may include tasks such as retrieving game, locating hidden objects, and responding to whistle commands.

By understanding the specific skills required for the competition, you can help your dog to develop the skills and instincts necessary to excel in the competition and in real-life hunting situations.

Creating a training plan

Creating a training plan is an important step in preparing for a gundog working test. A training plan should be tailored to the specific skills and tasks required for the competition and should take into account the skill level and experience of both the handler and the dog.

A good training plan should be consistent, with regular training sessions that focus on specific skills and tasks, while also allowing for flexibility to address any areas that need extra work. It should also include a variety of training exercises that help to build the dog’s strength, stamina, and endurance, while also developing the dog’s ability to work in a variety of environments and conditions.

Additionally, it is important to make training fun and engaging for both the handler and the dog, to maintain motivation and build a strong bond between the two. By creating a well-planned and consistent training plan, you can help your dog to develop the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in a gundog working test competition.

Practising the specific skills required for the competition

Practising the specific skills required for a working test is essential for success on the day of the competition. These skills may include retrieving, quartering, responding to whistle commands, and locating hidden objects. It is important to break down each skill into smaller, manageable parts and to practice them regularly with your dog. For example, if the competition requires retrieving, you can start by practising simple retrieves and gradually increasing the difficulty level, such as by introducing obstacles or increasing the distance of the retrieve.

By focusing on the specific skills required for the competition, you can identify any areas that may need extra work and help your dog to become more confident and proficient in performing these tasks. Additionally, it is important to practice these skills in a variety of environments and conditions, to help your dog develop the ability to perform well in different hunting scenarios. With consistent and focused practice, you and your dog can build the skills and confidence needed to perform at your best in a working test

Using positive reinforcement training methods

Using positive reinforcement training methods in a gundog working test can be an effective way to motivate and reward your dog for their good behaviour and successful performance.

Positive reinforcement is a training method that focuses on rewarding desired behaviour, rather than punishing undesired behaviour. This can include rewards such as treats, praise, or playtime. In a working test competition, positive reinforcement can help to build a stronger bond between you and your dog, and help to create a positive and rewarding training environment.

By rewarding your dog for successful retrieves, following whistle commands, and other desired behaviours, you can help to reinforce those behaviours and encourage your dog to continue to perform well. It is important to remember that positive reinforcement should be used in combination with clear communication and consistent training, to help your dog understand what is expected of them and to build their confidence and skill level.

By using positive reinforcement in a gundog working test competition, you can help to create a positive and enjoyable experience for both you and your dog.

Preparing yourself and your equipment

Getting physically and mentally prepared for the competition

Getting physically and mentally prepared for a gundog working test competition is an important part of the preparation process. This involves not only training the dog but also preparing yourself as the handler. Physically, you and your dog should be in good health and fitness, with sufficient endurance to perform the required tasks.

This may include building up stamina through regular exercise and training sessions, as well as ensuring that your dog is getting a balanced and nutritious diet. Mentally, both you and your dog should be prepared to handle the stress and pressure of a competitive setting. This may include practising relaxation and stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, as well as building your dog’s confidence and trust in you as the handler.

Additionally, it is important to arrive at the competition well-rested and prepared, with all the necessary equipment and paperwork in order. By taking the time to physically and mentally prepare for the competition, you can help to ensure that both you and your dog are ready to perform at your best on the day of the competition.

Packing the necessary equipment, such as leads, whistles, and dummies

Packing the necessary equipment is a crucial step in preparing. The equipment you pack will vary depending on the competition rules and requirements, but typically includes items such as leads, whistles, dummies or other retrieving objects, appropriate clothing, and any necessary paperwork.

It is important to pack enough equipment to ensure that you are prepared for any situation that may arise during the competition. For example, you may want to bring a spare lead or whistle in case your primary one breaks or is lost. Additionally, you should make sure that all of your equipment is clean and in good condition, as well as easily accessible during the competition.

Finally, it is important to review the competition rules and requirements ahead of time, to ensure that you are packing everything you need and that your equipment meets any necessary specifications. By packing the necessary equipment, you can help to ensure that you are prepared for the competition and can perform at your best on the day of the event.

Ensuring your gundog is healthy and fit for the competition

Ensuring your gundog is healthy and fit is essential for their success and wellbeing. Before the competition, it may be worth scheduling a veterinary check-up to ensure that your dog is in good health and up-to-date on all vaccinations and preventative care.

Additionally, you should provide your dog with a balanced and nutritious diet, appropriate exercise, and adequate rest to help them maintain their physical fitness and well-being.

During the lead-up to the competition, it is important to gradually increase your dog’s exercise and training routine to build up their endurance and physical stamina. However, it is important to avoid overexertion, as this can lead to injury or exhaustion.

In addition to physical health, you should also consider your dog’s mental and emotional well-being. Dogs that are stressed or anxious may not perform as well in a competitive setting. Therefore, it is important to provide your dog with plenty of opportunities for play, socialisation, and rest to help them feel relaxed and confident.

By ensuring your gundog is healthy and fit for the competition, you can help to ensure their success and well-being on the day of the event.

On the day of the competition

Arriving early and registering

Arriving early and registering is important to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience on the day of the event. By arriving early, you have plenty of time to get organised, set up your equipment, and acclimatise your dog to the competition environment. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety for both you and your dog and give you time to prepare mentally and physically for the competition ahead.

Additionally, arriving early allows you to check in with the competition officials, complete any necessary paperwork or payments, and ask any last-minute questions or clarifications about the competition rules and requirements. This can help to ensure that you are fully prepared and that there are no surprises on the day of the event.

Finally, arriving early can also help to ensure that you have a good spot to set up and can avoid any last-minute rushes or confusion. By arriving early and registering for the competition, you can help to ensure that you have a successful and enjoyable experience at the gundog working test competition.

Observing other competitors

Observing other competitors during a competition can be a valuable learning experience. By watching how other handlers and their dogs perform in the competition, you can gain insight into different training techniques, strategies, and approaches.

This can help you to identify areas where you may need to improve your own training and handling, as well as to gain inspiration for new training methods or ideas. Additionally, observing other competitors can help you to understand the competition rules and requirements better, as well as to get a sense of the judges’ expectations and preferences.

By seeing how the judges score different handlers and dogs, you can gain insight into what they are looking for and how they evaluate different skills and abilities.

Finally, observing other competitors can also help to build a sense of community and camaraderie within the gundog working test community. By getting to know other handlers and their dogs, you can build relationships and support networks that can help you to grow as a handler and improve your performance in future competitions.

Overall, observing other competitors can be a valuable learning and social experience that can help you to improve your skills and build relationships within the community, hopefully, you will have been to tests beforehand to build your knowledge too.

Staying calm and focused

Staying calm and focused is an essential part of succeeding in a test. During the competition, it’s natural to feel nervous or anxious, but it’s important to try to stay as calm and focused as possible. This can help you to think more clearly, make better decisions, and communicate more effectively with your dog.

Some techniques that can help you to stay calm and focused during the competition include deep breathing, visualisation, positive self-talk, and focusing on the present moment. It can also be helpful to have a routine or ritual that you follow before and during the competition, such as a warm-up exercise or a pre-competition checklist. This can help you to feel more in control and prepared, and can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.

It’s also important to remember that mistakes and setbacks are a natural part of the learning process and that every competition is an opportunity to learn and grow as a handler and a team with your dog. By staying calm and focused during the competition, you can help to ensure that you and your dog have the best possible experience and performance.

Following the rules and guidelines

Following the rules and guidelines of a working test is crucial for ensuring fairness and safety for all participants. It’s important to read and understand the rules and guidelines of the competition before you enter so that you know what to expect and what is expected of you and your dog.

During the competition, it’s important to follow the rules and guidelines closely, so that you don’t inadvertently break any rules or cause any safety issues. This can include things like using appropriate equipment and techniques, following the designated routes and paths and treating other competitors and dogs with respect and courtesy.

Additionally, it’s important to be aware of any specific regulations or requirements that may apply to your dog, such as vaccination or health certification requirements.

By following the rules and guidelines of the competition, you can help to ensure a fair and safe experience for all participants, as well as help to promote the reputation of the gundog community.

Enjoying the experience

While gundog working test competitions are ultimately a competition, it’s also important to remember that they can be a fun and enjoyable experience for both you and your dog. By focusing on the joy of spending time with your dog and the thrill of putting your training to the test, you can help to reduce stress and anxiety and ensure a more positive experience for both you and your dog.

Additionally, by taking the time to appreciate the beauty and camaraderie of the competition, you can build relationships within the gundog community and create lasting memories with your dog. Some ways to enjoy the experience of the competition include taking breaks to play or relax with your dog, connecting with other handlers and their dogs, and taking time to appreciate the scenery and natural environment around you.

Ultimately, by focusing on the joy and camaraderie of the competition, you can help to ensure that you and your dog have a positive and memorable experience, regardless of the outcome of the competition.


In summary, preparation is key when it comes to gundog working test competitions. It’s important to choose the right competition for your skill level and experience, understand the rules and requirements, create a training plan, practise the specific skills required for the competition, get physically and mentally prepared, pack the necessary equipment, ensure your gundog is healthy and fit, arrive early and register, observe other competitors, stay calm and focused, and follow the rules and guidelines of the competition. By doing so, you can help to ensure a positive and successful experience for both you and your dog.

If you’re considering participating in a gundog working test competition, we encourage you to give it a try. The gundog community is welcoming and supportive, and there are competitions available for a range of skill levels and interests. Whether you’re new to gundog training or a seasoned handler, participating in a competition can help you to learn and grow, and can be a fun and rewarding experience for you and your dog.

As a final tip, we recommend focusing on the joy and camaraderie of the competition and taking time to appreciate the beauty of the natural environment around you. Remember to stay positive and have fun, and treat both your dog and your fellow competitors with respect and courtesy. With the right preparation, mindset, and approach, you and your gundog can achieve great success and have a memorable experience in a gundog working test competition. Make sure to tag us in your photos of the day too, good luck!

Further Reading

How To Steward At A Working Test: Top Tips For Newcomers

The Ultimate Guide to Making Dog Friendly Pancakes

There’s nothing quite like starting your day with a delicious pancake breakfast. But did you know that you can also make dog friendly pancakes for your dog? That’s right – dog pancakes are a thing, and they’re pretty easy to make  (and delicious).

So if you’re looking for a fun way to show your four-legged friend some love, read on for the ultimate guide to making dog friendly pancakes. Trust us, your dog will thank you! These pancakes are perfect for Pancake Day, or any other day of the year! They are made with healthy ingredients that your dog will love. So let’s get started!

Ingredients for Dog Friendly Pancakes

  •   1 cup of flour
  •   1 egg
  •   1 ripe banana

The Method

  1. Peel and mash up a ripe banana into a smooth puree using a fork.
  2. Mix in the egg and flour, beating until it forms an even batter
  3. Fry like regular pancakes with either a few drops of coconut or olive oil if needed; alternatively, use an oil sprayer to grease the pan lightly if desired.
  4. You can also add to a waffle maker if you have one

Approved Toppings For Your Dog Friendly Pancakes:

  • Honey
  • Blueberries
  • Banana
  • Peanut Butter ( Xylitol-Free)
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Cantaloupe

Allowing your dog to join in on the celebrations of Pancake Day is certainly one great way to show some love and appreciation for your beloved bestie.

Why Mindset Matters When Gundog Training

Having a positive mindset is essential to achieving success in life and our relationships with our dogs. Our thoughts can have powerful effects on how we view ourselves, the world around us, and how we react to them.

However, many of us struggle with maintaining a healthy mindset due to bad habits that were learned as we grew up. In this post, LWDG Founder Jo Perrott and LWDG Mindset Coach Emma Liddell explore these bad habits which could potentially be holding you back from reaching your full potential and achieving success.

With an understanding of why these habits are so damaging, you can begin the journey towards creating a healthier outlook on life and unlocking your gundog training potential.

Podcast Edition:

Why Mindset Matters

Hi all, my name is Emma and I am the new Mindset Coach for the LWDG, and I am looking forward to bringing you lots of content about the link between how with think and how this can impact the training with our dogs.

So firstly, what is mindset?

Quite simply our mindset is the lens through which we view the world around us, this lens will be created as a result of all our life experiences up till this point. The most important thing that we can often forget is that as a result of this, our lens will differ from others around us. See it as our own specific window through which we view the world.

As a result of our life experiences, we create groups of beliefs about areas of our life or ourselves. Bear in mind, depending on the situation we are in this may vary drastically, i.e., we may feel very secure and confident in our work but actually quite anxious about new social situations.

These assumptions that we make about ourselves will impact how we think, and respond to challenges we come across in life, how we act with other people, how we choose to set boundaries and how we bounce back from challenges that we face. All very useful things when we apply them to dog training.

The science behind our mindset

Around 70% of the thoughts we have in our daily thinking are negative, I know this doesn’t sound great, but actually, this is cleverly designed to keep us safe. (Remember from a primitive level our body is geared up for survival as a primary function). What it does mean however is with the other 30% it is really important we try and bring balance back as much as possible.

Our brains are fantastic, but in other ways still very primitive and not very evolved, therefore when we think things our brain cannot tell the difference between that and reality. So if my thoughts about myself are perhaps not very nice, thinking that I am not good enough, or not capable, that is what my brain will see as true. That is how powerful our thoughts are!

In psychology we used to think our thoughts and how we view ourselves would be fixed by the age of around 7-8 years, however more recent developments show this to be untrue, what we actually have is ‘neuroplasticity’ the ability to rewire and shape our brains.

Some of us may have heard the old saying ‘neurons that fire together wire together’. Essentially this means the more times we think a certain thought or repeat something to get a similar outcome the stronger that pathway in our brain becomes. Imagine it as laying down a strand in a rope, over time and repetition this can then become a very strong rope with millions of strands holding it together. We therefore really need to be careful what threads we are laying down to create these ropes, some can be wonderful and positive, others not so much if we are really honest with ourselves.

Be honest with yourself

Another analogy I use is that of a diet, after all our diet is not just the food we consume but our entire lifestyle. If you imagine your thoughts as food, are they largely healthy and nutritious, or are they junk that we choose to put into our bodies?

If you are still not sure, try saying those thoughts out loud as if you were saying them to your best friend, partner or child. Does that feel horrifying to you? Then perhaps look at being a little kinder to yourself. Speak to yourself in the same way you would speak to a loved one who is going through the same thing/feelings as you. Trust me it will likely sound a lot kinder!

We also have to be practical; we cannot be everything to everyone at all times. Some times are harder than others and we need to adjust our expectations of ourselves (and our dogs!) accordingly.

Growth and Fixed Mindsets 

In order to change our mindset we often need to move our fixed mindset to one of growth, so what is the difference between the two?

A fixed mindset is one where we feel our abilities or intelligence are finite. This is quite common in those who felt they didn’t perform well in academic settings (which is only one measure of intelligence. It doesn’t measure for other things like compassion etc which are exceptionally useful life skills!). It usually comes with the belief that you are either clever or you are not, and as a result, we may be reluctant to try new things as we are scared of failure. Should we try and fail we often use this as a way of ‘beating ourselves up’ and confirming the belief that we are not clever etc. You can easily see how this can really limit how we end up living our lives.

A growth mindset is a concept that intelligence and skills can be learnt through practice and repetition, that failing is part of trying and learning and growth. As a result of this, we can be willing to take more risks or challenge ourselves in new areas. You will find people in a growth mindset saying things like ‘I’ll figure this out’ or ‘I’ll try and see what I can learn from this’.

What I hear a lot from those with a fixed mindset is ‘I can’t’ – What about if you challenged yourself to understand that statement a little more and said ‘I am choosing not to because’. Often if we look at it that way, we can find out why we feel we cannot do the thing. Often it is ‘I am choosing not to because I am scared of failure/someone will laugh at me’ etc. Perfect! So it’s not that you can’t it that you are scared, this can be overcome!

In summary, we cannot control our lives, our dogs and the challenges that come with them, but we can look to control our mindset and how we respond to our dogs and these challenges. Over the coming weeks, I plan on digging deeper into this to help you understand more about theories of mindset and what we can do to overcome them.

Join the LWDG Team on your journey of understanding more about you so we can get the best from your life and your relationship with your dogs.

Listen to our other podcasts by subscribing here

Also worth reading Psychology Today : Why Mindset Matters

LWDG Society Members Meet Up for a Day of Clay Shooting and Fun

This past Saturday, the LWDG Society Members gathered in Region 1 Scotland and The North for a day of fun arranged by Regional Organiser Sarah Drake. The group met up early in the morning to enjoy a morning of clay shooting at Coniston Shooting Ground in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

Regional Organiser Sarah Drake

Region 1 Social

The Saturday sky was a brilliant deep blue, and the sun shone brightly as the members of the LWDG Society gathered up in anticipation for an exciting day of clay shooting.

Everyone was buzzing with excitement as they arrived and said hello to one another, then made their way to the stands.

The clays flew through the air, as everyone got into the swing of things and honed in on their shooting skills.


The full album of images and videos for the day can be found in the LWDG Facebook groups.

Onsite Lunch

After a few hours of clay shooting, the group moved on to lunch. Food was plentiful and everyone enjoyed catching up. LWDG Group Expert Emma Stevens took away the cap for the best score with other members being awarded for their shooting skills. The caps were embroidered with Shit Hot, Shite Shot and Top Gun!

LWDG Society Member Jane Shaw receiving her baseball hat
LWDG Group Expert Emma Stevens receiving her hat
LWDG Society Member Laura Crewe being awarded her TOP Gun hat.

It was great coming together as a group and enjoying each other’s company in such a fun environment. Everyone was exhausted, but happy with the day’s events, and looking forward to more great times together in the future!

Thank You

A huge thanks to Regional Organiser Sarah Drake for arranging such an amazing event to start off 2023, to the grounds for hosting us, to the instructors for their tuition and to all those who helped and took part.

A huge thanks to our National Regional Coordinator for her generosity and for putting together goodie bags which included LWDG badges, stickers, Field and Fireside Treats and lanyards.

LWDG Regional Coordinator Sue Lister

Join Us

The LWDG Society is always looking for new members and encourages everyone to join in on the fun of clay shooting and camaraderie. If you are interested in joining, visit

Become A Member

Episode 75: The Debate Around Needing To Be a Qualified Gundog Trainer

There is a big debate going on in the UK at the moment about whether or not you need to be a qualified gundog trainer.

On one side of the argument, you have people who say that it is essential for gundog trainers to have a qualification, in order to ensure that dogs are being trained safely and effectively.

On the other side of the argument, you have people who say that experience is more important than qualifications, and that anyone can become a good trainer with enough practice.

So, which side should you believe? In today’s podcast, we’ll take a look at both sides of the argument and help you make up your own mind!

Podcast Edition:

The Great Dog Training Debate: Qualifications vs. Experience

You may have seen the debate online or even within your local gundog training community – do you need to be a qualified dog trainer to successfully train your own pet gundog? There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, and in this blog post, we’ll explore them both in more detail.

The definition of a qualified gundog trainer

It can be difficult to know what qualities make up a qualified gundog trainer, as there is no legally-mandated framework in the UK to define such qualifications. Generally speaking, however, there are some discussions around the standards that qualify any given individual as an experienced and knowledgeable dog trainer.

Many trainers have animal-related degree qualifications, while others draw on years of experience working with dogs in their businesses, in shelter settings or even in their own homes.

We can all agree trainers should also have an in-depth understanding of canine behaviour and be able to use positive reinforcement methods when training their clients’ pets.

Ultimately, it is best to meet with potential trainers in person and ask them questions to assess whether they are qualified to fulfil your needs and expectations.

The pros and cons of available certifications and qualifications

It’s no secret that there are both positives and negatives of needing to be qualified in any profession, including dog training. On one hand, having the relevant qualifications gives credibility and peace of mind to potential clients that you are knowledgeable, experienced and trustworthy.

Qualifications or Certifications should also maintain a standard within the industry as well as demonstrate an individual’s commitment to their chosen subject – something that can be extremely beneficial for gaining career progression or employment opportunities.

However, with certificates being available online for as little as £9.99 from some websites, it could be argued the value of such accreditations is sometimes difficult to assess.

The pros and cons of experience-led training

In comparison to qualifications or certifications, there are obviously benefits to relying on experience when it comes to dog training. It’s often said that practice makes perfect and although this isn’t always the case, it is much easier to learn from mistakes if you can understand them and how not to repeat them.

Experience-led training also allows for the trainer to develop a better understanding of canine behaviour, which can lead to more tailored approaches that take into account an individual dog’s needs.

One potential downside, however, is that trainers who have only ever trained their own dogs may not be well-equipped to handle issues that arise with other clients.

Who decides if you need to be qualified or not in dog training

Deciding whether or not you need to be qualified in dog training is a tough decision with there being no set legal qualification framework. If you’re thinking of going into the business of dog training professionally, there are several factors to consider.

  • Are there any trainers already in your area?
  • How much experience do you have with dogs?
  • What techniques will you use, and what resources can you draw on?
  • How capable are you of training someone else and their dog?

All of these can influence the decision if you need to acquire additional training or experience before advertising yourself as a professional dog trainer.

Some may even argue that there is an ethical responsibility involved too, taking into account the safety of both dogs and owners. Ultimately there is currently no right or wrong answer – it’s a personal decision but there are plenty of resources available online to help inform your choice.

How to become a Professional Dog Trainer

Dog training is a rewarding and fulfilling career, What you need is passion and the right tools to achieve excellence in your chosen field. Firstly, there are many seminars and workshops available with specialist instructors who will introduce you to the fundamentals of behaviour and dog psychology.

Armed with knowledge gleaned from listening to established trainers with years of experience, you can move on to enrol in a certification, diploma or degree course, which will help solidify your newly acquired skills and also support future structures for practising as a professional trainer with proven qualifications.

Once you have studied and qualified as a professional, it would be beneficial to invest in additional resources such as books and videos for further refinement of your training techniques.

You may also wish to join associations or societies relevant to the area you are working in, to ensure continued access to all the latest information, support networks and industry events.

Why you don’t need to be qualified

The idea that a person needs to be formally qualified in order to do a job well is more often than not seen as a traditionalist view. In the modern world, with its fast-paced technological advances, there are those who think that in some areas, qualifications don’t matter.

Focus is instead placed on a person’s skill set and agility when it comes to learning new things. That’s not to say that everyone can do anything without formal prerequisites; the concept of qualification remains important for certain types of work such as medical or legal professions. However, overall, the way we approach jobs today often remedies the need for qualifications and instead looks for potential, experience and talent.

In the case of dog training, it is possible to learn the basics and hone your skills without having a diploma. However, if you are looking to go into this type of work professionally, acquiring some form of qualification will undoubtedly help build credibility and give you an edge in the industry. Ultimately, whether or not you need to be qualified is down to you and what you want out of your career.

Listen to more of our podcast episodes by Subscribing Here

Does your dog know it’s a dog?

Setting Expectations for Canine Behaviour

It’s easy to forget that our beloved pets need structure and boundaries just as much as we do. Without guidance, a dog can quickly become the master of their own domain; dictating when it needs attention, where it goes for walks and how it interacts with other animals. Unfortunately, this lack of control can lead to dangerous situations for both the pet and its owners.

In order to ensure our dogs are well-behaved in public, we must take steps to provide them with clear leadership, rules and structure – teaching them valuable lessons early on in life so they know what behaviour is expected of them in different situations. In this blog post, we will take a look at the significance of education for our canine companions and ask ourselves: does my dog know it’s a dog?

Written by LWDG Group Expert Samantha Thorneycroft-Taylor

Dogs are intelligent beings, there’s no denying that; they can be trained to perform a multitude of different skills, and fulfil multiple roles. They are capable of learning several words and the behaviour associated with them and those in working roles can, with appropriate training, then be trusted to use their own head in order to problem solve and complete difficult tasks.

But the reality is, it’s relatively easy to make a dog happy; in all truth, they don’t need much… food, water, shelter and companionship are a dog’s very basic needs. Appropriate exercise, education, and mental stimulation are an additional bonus, a ‘bonus’ that we should all strive to achieve as dogs’ owners for it helps to form and maintain a stable relationship – one built on trust and mutual understanding.

A Dogs Primary Role

The days of a dog’s primary role being one of a protector, or to round up a farmer’s flock/herd or detaining a criminal have all but been forgotten. The number of dogs in a working role now pales into insignificance against the number of dogs whose sole ‘duty’ is as a family pet.


More and more, dogs are being treated as totally equal family members and sometimes are even the matriarch of the family; a dog who demands when it goes for a walk or when it gets fed by barking incessantly at its owners. A dog who takes ownership of the sofa and won’t let anyone else sit on it, or one who steals dad’s slipper and refuses to give it up, sometimes showing aggression in order to achieve its goal. A dog who shouts at every passer-by of the front window or is constantly pestering your guests. I’d bet money that many of these dogs lack boundaries and self-control, they’ve either not been taught or have pushed back against the ‘house’ rules and, for whatever reason, have now taken ownership of the family rather than the family taking ownership of the dog.

The Rise In Dog Ownership

In recent years the number of dog-owning families has risen dramatically. During the coronavirus pandemic, rescue centres found themselves virtually emptied and the price of a puppy quadrupled. Everyone had a valid desire to own a dog – for camaraderie in times of social isolation, an excuse to go outdoors and explore, as well as the opportunity to finally be at home long enough daily so that they could provide a loving home.


In theory, dogs bought in lockdown should have been some of the best-trained dogs out there; with all the time spent at home, there should have been multiple opportunities to spend training every day. There should have been multiple opportunities to teach our dogs how to act appropriately in the home, when out, around other dogs, people and various distractions. But did we do it? It’s hard to see evidence of this.

Sadly, with this increase in dog-owning families, has been an increase in behavioural problems, an increase in cases of aggression, and seemingly a distinct decrease in owners fulfilling their obligation to educate their dogs right from wrong to ensure the safety of their families, their dogs, and the general public.

The Rise In Dogs Needing Rehoming

Unfortunately, hundreds of these dogs are finding themselves in our rescue centres, many of which have been at full capacity for months now and a dog with ‘issues’ is far harder to rehome than a well-educated one – they take longer to rehabilitate which in turn costs the rescue centre more money, limits the number of dogs that a centre can help and dogs who have shown aggression in their previous life are frequently perceived as too high a risk to rehabilitate and rehome so find themselves with very few options.


The pandemic is getting the blame for many dogs not experiencing proper socialisation. No, we couldn’t all meet up in the local fields and allow our dogs to play for hours on end but this is not what socialisation means anyway; socialisation for a dog should be teaching a dog how to act appropriately in all manner of different situations and environments.

We are failing our dogs, and we are endangering their futures. We need to turn this around. The number of recorded dog attacks, ending in either injury, hospitalisation, or death is rising at a staggering rate – and that’s only the ones we know about, there will be many more attacks and injuries that aren’t recorded and we never hear of.

Exploring the Humanisation of Dogs

It appears that there is no longer the mindset that Fido is a dog. Instead, he gets a cute haircut, a trendy jumper, a choice of gourmet foods and the responsibility of ruling the roost; waking the house up at some ungodly hour because he wants a walk now, or refuses to let the family eat their meals in peace.



The trouble is that a dog who dictates what happens when and who decides what is and isn’t acceptable, within a home will likely believe they can do the same when out and about; bounding across the park to interrupt a couple’s romantic picnic, rushing up to an unknown dog to ‘see him off’ or even to instigate play, chasing a horse and rider across a beach and biting at the horses tail. Since when did our dogs decide all of these things?

Since when did we allow our dogs to rule our lives?

Self Control And Boundaries

A dog that lacks self-control and boundaries is a poorly educated one, a dog that hasn’t learnt that poor choices lead to consequences is a poorly educated one. If a dog ignores a recall and chases the local deer population for 40 minutes before returning to the owner and is given a tasty treat upon its return, at what point is it expected to learn that chasing the deer is unacceptable?

If a dog growls at another dog across the road and then has food shoved under its nose to distract it, at what point is it expected to learn that growling at the other dog is unacceptable? A dog that has never been taught there are consequences to its actions is far more likely to make poor decisions, and let me be clear here; I’m not talking about harsh or abusive punishments (consequences) that were used in years gone by.

We all know that a behaviour that is positively rewarded is more likely to be repeated, both in dogs and humans, and it would be wonderful if we could go through life without ever having to encounter a negative experience.

But the reality is that this is an impossible way to live life, there are consequences everywhere – if you lose your keys you’ll likely be locked out of your house, if you drive above the speed limit you’ll likely get a fine, if you’re late for work you’ll likely get pulled up on it, if you step in front of a moving vehicle you’ll likely get hurt… Some of these consequences are controlled ones and some of them are ‘natural’ (they happen without additional intervention), but they are still consequences and a part of learning and living.

A dog needs the same education; they need to learn that there are consequences to poorly made choices just as much as they need to learn there are rewards for well-made choices. A dog that has clear guidance from its owner, clear leadership, rules, boundaries and structure is a happy dog.


Final Thoughts…

It is our responsibility as pet owners to ensure that we are providing the best possible socialisation and education for our dogs. We must take steps to ensure they understand there are consequences for their actions, both positive and negative so that they can live happy lives without endangering themselves or those around them.

By teaching these valuable lessons early on in life, we can help create better-behaved pets who know what behaviour is expected of them in different situations. With a little patience and understanding from us, our beloved pets will be able to make wise decisions when out in public – leading happier lives overall!

LWDG Group Expert Samantha Thorneycroft-Tayler

Further Learning

What ‘Dont Worry My Dog Is Friendly’ really means; Out of-control dogs in public places


The benefits of training a gundog with a place board

Gundog training is an important part of building a strong bond between you and your working dog. With the right tools and techniques, it can be both fun and effective for all involved. One such tool that is often overlooked by many dog owners is the place board – but when used correctly, it can offer numerous benefits to any gundog training program. In this podcast and blog post, we’ll discuss why using a place board in gundog training is beneficial, common mistakes people make while doing so, and how to avoid them in order to get the most out of your time together!

Podcast Edition:

The history of place boards in animal training

The history of place boards in animal training can be traced back to the early 1900s when the term was first coined. It began as a simple concept of indicating to animals where their desired behaviour target should be performed and evolved from there.

Placeboarding has been used to teach both domestic and wild animals and is primarily used as an effective technique for training behaviours such as placing a food bowl in one spot or going to a specific area on command. As this method of positive reinforcement continues to prove itself to have positive results, it will likely remain a popular practice for many years to come.

The benefits of place boards for animal trainers go beyond their most basic use, as they can be used to teach the animals other responses, such as a come when called, a recall and more.

Additionally, place boards allow trainers to monitor progress with ease; they are often utilised to reinforce appropriate behaviour until a consistent response is achieved – an important part of developing trust between humans and living creatures. Although conventional mindsets have touted this technique as outdated due to modern technologies, it remains one of the more reliable methods in animal training today.

The benefits of training a gundog with a place board

A place board is an invaluable training tool for gundog owners. It allows owners to teach their dogs to wait patiently at certain locations before continuing on a training activity. With consistent use, place boards help keep gundogs calm and focused, while they learn valuable commands such as “sit/stay” and “wait”. Place boards are also incredibly useful because they can be used in the safety of your home without adding the distraction of other animals or humans. Furthermore, this type of training encourages obedience and teaches your pup to find comfort in their own space while you take your time with their training activities – resulting in more positive outcomes!

The importance of using positive reinforcement when training on a place board

Positive reinforcement is an incredibly effective tool when teaching your dog behaviours. Giving rewards such as verbal praise, petting, and treats after they have done something correctly will encourage them to repeat the behaviour in the future. With a place board, you can add structure to this training and more clearly outline the actions you want your pup to take.

A place board consists of a raised platform that would be placed at a designated spot in the house; once your pup is on it, he knows not to move off of it until you give him permission. This is beneficial for reinforcing commands like “stay” and also for keeping them out of trouble when desired. Praise and treats should always be given whenever they successfully use their place board as this will help condition them more quickly.

Ultimately, using positive reinforcement with a place board while training your pup will lead to long-term success – and both you and your pup can reap the benefits!

Common mistakes made while training with a place board and ways to avoid them

Gundog training with a place board should be an enjoyable experience for both trainer and dog. However, many people make mistakes that can lead to frustration and confusion for all involved. One of the most common mistakes is forgetting that dogs learn best in small, incremental steps. By introducing complex concepts all at once, the dog may become overwhelmed, leading to difficulty grasping even simple concepts.

Another mistake many people make is trying to train too much information with one repetition. Keep each work session short and focus on one or two commands at a time, repeating them enough times for the dog to cue in on which behaviour you expect from them.

Finally, don’t forget the reward! Reinforce good behaviour with treats, toys or attention so your pup knows when it does something right – this will there’ll build trust between you and make for a better overall learning experience. Follow these tips, and both you and your dog will have a great time working together on your gundog training!

How To Get A Placeboard

We have a whole blog on this very topic you can find here: Make Your Own Place board

Final Thoughts…

Using a place board to train your gundog can offer numerous benefits. It provides structure and organization to the training process, allowing owners to teach their dogs commands such as ‘sit/stay’ and ‘wait’, while also keeping them calm and focused. When combined with positive reinforcement techniques, it encourages obedience and can speed up the learning process. Place boards also provide a safe space for dogs to find comfort in their own environment when required. Overall, using a place board for gundog training is an invaluable tool for any dog owner!

Further Learning about place board training

Make Your Own Placeboard

8. Using A Place Board With A Working Dog

Amazon Store – Place board

How Far Have We Come When It Comes to Understanding Our Dogs

Welcome to a new LWDG series, I know that the world of dog training can be mind-boggling and books for me have always been a big draw to help me understand my furry friends better. My aim is to bring a dog training book to you every month to give my honest opinion. I hope you find this series helpful.

First to be reviewed is my latest read, The Dog’s Mind by Dr Bruce Fogle. A Canadian vet of over 5 years who was also Director of the London Veterinary Clinic and co-founder and vice-chairman of the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Dr Fogle was appointed an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II for services to deaf people and has been awarded Honorary Life Membership by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association.

This book was first published in 1992 so it is important to note the time in which it was written. Initially, the book does come across as dated, (although the cover has been modernised with the reprints) it contains no pictures, which would have been useful or more appealing when looking to describe dogs’ body language or behaviour, instead, it includes pencil sketches which doesn’t do much to bring the book into the modern world.

The content is split down into 13 separate chapters covering:

  • The genetics of the mind
  • The brain
  • The senses
  • Hormones and the mind
  • Communication
  • Maternal and peer imprinting
  • Our influence on the developing mind
  • Aggression
  • Eating, exploring and eliminating
  • Fears, phobias and excitement
  • Pack, sex and maternal activity
  • Breed differences in behaviour
  • The mind of the ill and elderly


The content is largely based on the stages of development of a dog alongside the neurological, physiological and biological makeup of our canine companions. I found the first four chapters quite interesting due to my personal interest in this area, but I can imagine for many this could seem quite dry content.

As the chapters went on, I found the content of the book quite heavy going with a number of the author’s examples repeated (cue a dog chasing a postman). The what in which the narrative was pitched at times also seemed confusing, although the appendix in the book cites all of the clinical research commented on in the book it was interspersed with his own experiences, his own opinions, and often attempts at humour which seems somewhat misplaced (cue a dog holding a shotgun).

I have to admit on reading it seemed unclear to which kind of reader the book is aimed for, breeders, new dog owners, trainers or behaviourists. It certainly shouldn’t be seen as a dog training guide or manual (although there are some short rudimentary training exercises at the back). From my perspective, the content would be too simplistic (and archaic, but more on that later) for dog behaviourists but not practical and engaging enough for dog owners. I guess it is what the title suggests, commentary on a dog’s mind.

Canine Biology

From a biological perspective, I found the content useful and engaging in understanding how dogs perceive the world around us and how they engage in their environment. My biggest issue however with the book is the date it was written. From a behavioural theory perspective, I found some of it slightly uncomfortable reading and it is clear that times have moved on with the methods used in dog training since its publication date 21 years ago.

Being ‘Alpha’

The book has a strong slant on dominance hierarchy and the importance of being an ‘alpha’ in the home, as well as some theories that aggression cases can be due to not being a dominant enough owner or that we shouldn’t allow dogs to win at tug (please don’t even tell my dog this!), or if we back away from a growl this can lead to further aggression issues.

“After selecting your pup, dominate it while it is young and impressionable. For example, the dog should eat on your terms, not his. Train him by occasionally taking his food or toys away and then returning them…. Never let threats go unchecked. If he nips and mounts, he needs to be chastised’.

Taking food and toys away from your dog for no reason but to show them you are dominant will only confuse them and promote resource-guarding behaviour. ‘Threats’ are your dog’s way of communicating that something is wrong, punishing them for this will lead to more aggressive behaviour without warning.

“Small dogs are easier to treat. We can show dominance by scruff in them, picking them off the ground or shaking them. Large dogs can be grabbed on each side of theneck and given a lift, shake and stare, but be careful. This can be quite dangerouswith a very dominant dog”.

All of the above beliefs we know now to be outdated, as well as the training methods so we need to ensure when we read the book, we take into account the time in which it was written. The author from my perspective at times could make sweeping statements such as

‘one in five visits to vets are about aggression cases’ and ‘85% of aggression cases relate to male dogs’

although it does concede that neutering is not an effective solution for a number of aggression cases.

For me, the most bizarre comment was that ‘all dogs bury bones but few dig them up’. It also left my two dogs confused as neither has ever exhibited that behaviour. I am unsure about what the chapter around breed differences in dog behaviour brought to the book, apart from almost ranking them against each other but with no real information about breed tendencies and it seemed to contradict the previous chapters around all the other factors that can affect dog behaviour from in utero right through puppy and to adult. It seemed just thrown in at the end as a bit of an afterthought.

The very short chapter at the end I found useful, discussing how age can impact dogs from sight, hearing, smell and neurological perspectives and how this may in turn affect their behaviour. Having a 10-year-old dog myself, it was a good reminder about understanding his needs better as he ages. All in all, when it comes to the biological makeup and information about a dog there is generally some sound information in this publication but some outdated concepts regarding behaviour and ways in which to address this, which for me I did find myself feeling uneasy reading about (remember always consult a qualified behaviourist if you have concerns about your dog behaviour).

Final Thoughts

In summary, I can see at the time how this book would have been very interesting and informative for those wanting to understand more about dogs and how their tick. Sadly, for me, it is a book that shows its age. It does wonderfully demonstrate how far we have come in how we treat our dogs in the past 21 years and how training theory has moved to more balanced methods. For those fascinated by this area, it may be worth a read but for certain, there are more up-to-date and engaging books out there.

See you next month!


Find Book On Amazon:

About Emma


Emma is a fully qualified Therapist, Counselling Supervisor and EMDR practitioner with her own practice Windspirit Therapy  . She is also a Senior accredited member of the BACP and works under their ethics and guidelines.

Away from work, Emma trains her two dogs Fudge and Scout and is an avid reader.





Training Your Dog Isn’t Meant To Be Complicated – Patterns Of Behaviour

Understanding how dogs learn in patterns is key to successful dog training and behaviour modification. By understanding the patterns of behaviour that our dogs form based on their experiences, we can use this knowledge to help shape their future actions and reactions. Whether it’s teaching a puppy new behaviours or modifying existing ones, pattern-based learning can be an effective tool for getting the results you want from your four-legged friend. In this blog post and podcast, LWDG Group Expert Claire Denyer discusses why pattern-based learning works so well with dogs, as well as some potential pitfalls of using it too rigidly. So if you’re looking for ways to better understand and train your pup, listen and read on!

Podcast Edition:

Written By Claire Denyer

By forming predictable and rewarding patterns in both daily life and training sessions with your pup, you can help shape their behaviour. Positive patterns are a great way to build confidence in shy or anxious dogs as well as modify how they feel about situations, stimuli, or even new surroundings. What’s more, is that these same patterns may be utilised to construct desirable behaviours from scratch!

We use patterns in behaviour modification programmes, puppy training, and gundog training, it’s one of the fundamental parts of training. Dogs are fabulous problem solvers. Dogs learn that their behaviour brings consequences (good and bad) and it is from there, that a dog will develop a pattern which gets an end result. Through repeating behaviours (repetition) the dog learns a pattern. Dogs learn that the behaviour that was occurring at the time brought about an outcome or consequence. This needs to be within seconds. This is one of the main reasons we must be very careful about the timing of rewards.

Example 1: dog whines for attention and you give attention within 2 seconds, you’ve rewarded that behaviour

Example 2: dog whines for attention and is then quiet for 2 minutes before you go over and give them attention, you’ve rewarded the dog for the behaviour they are doing at that moment, which could be being quiet, or laying down

As you can see, both of these examples can very quickly build patterns of behaviour, one good, one not so good. When forming a pattern the handler needs to be consistent. A dog will be watching the handler’s body language, as well as responding to words. An example of this is when I teach my dogs position transitions. I teach both with my voice, and also with body language. So, I must be consistent in both.

Patterns Of Behaviour In Different Environments

The location may also become part of the pattern, this is what we sometimes refer to a dog as

environmentally trained. Example: dog walks perfectly on a loose lead in a training environment, but pulls like a freight train elsewhere. This is why proofing of the training is important.

When we say, your dog is learning with every interaction, this is because the dog is forming patterns and learning all of the time. All too often owners believe that the dog is only learning during a training session, but the dog is learning with every interaction, and with every outcome of his/her behaviour. Your dog is continually forming patterns of behaviour based on the consequences (good and bad)

Example: Your dog comes over to you whilst you are eating, and stares at you, you respond by giving eye contact and smiling, and you then give the dog some food…

I am sure you can see the pattern of behaviour forming there. The dog will very likely try this behaviour again because it was rewarding. If the dog believes there is a good outcome they are likely to repeat the behaviour. This is why well-timed, reward-based training is so effective in increasing desirable behaviours.

Do remember though what motivates a dog will be very individual to the dog, if your dog isn’t motivated by food, food rewards will be less effective, if your dog doesn’t value play, rewarding your dog with a toy won’t be as effective. The dog is less likely to repeat a behaviour if there is no value in the reward.

It is worth mentioning that you should be aware of bad consequences. Imagine you are out with a puppy during the socialisation period and you are trying to positively introduce them to something new. It may only take one very scary experience for a puppy (or dog) to believe that a specific pattern of events leads to a bad outcome,

Example: you have your 14-week-old puppy out in the park for the first time, and he runs over to an unknown dog and is attacked.

It is very likely that without support and training, the puppy may grow up fearful or aggressive towards other dogs. Dogs that display dog-to-dog aggression while on a lead have very often learnt a pattern of behaviour which they believe works for them.

Example: a dog walking on lead is attacked.

This is a terrible experience for the dog. The next time the dog is walking on lead and he sees another dog he may bark and growl to warn the other dog off, his owner, shocked by his reaction, pulls him away from the other dog, and he isn’t attacked. It is highly likely that in future he will repeat that behaviour as he believes it kept the other dog away. As quickly as that the dog believes that he has learnt a pattern of behaviour that works, totally unaware of how distressing it may be for the owner, and the owner is very likely unaware of why the dog now responds that

the way every time he sees a dog on the lead.

By understanding that dogs learn in patterns you can teach them, guide them, and support them. It can also help you realise how an unwanted behaviour may have developed. You can also use patterns change behaviour.

I use pattern training in behaviour modification programmes, puppy training, and gundog training. It really is at the centre of everything we do. That being said, I always discuss the pros and cons with my clients.

For example: Creating too rigid patterns in life with your dog can cause issues with some dogs like frustration.

We certainly use patterns to build confidence in a dog, and reduce inappropriate behaviours and reactivity, like aggression and over-excitement, as part of a behaviour modification programme.

Dog owners and trainers naturally use patterns, most probably without thinking of them as patterns.

Final Thoughts…

Patterns of behaviour are an important concept to understand when it comes to working with dogs. By recognizing how your dog is forming patterns based on the consequences (good and bad) of their behaviour, you can use pattern training in puppy training, gundog training, and even behaviour modification programs. While this method has its pros and cons, understanding the power of patterns can be a great way for owners to build confidence in their dogs while also reducing inappropriate behaviours like aggression or over-excitement. With a little bit of effort from both owner and pup alike, these powerful techniques make it easier than ever before to create positive behavioural change that lasts!

Last Weeks Podcast : What Don’t Worry My Dog Is Friendly really means,  Out of control dogs in public places