My Story

Dog Training with Caroline – The Ogwell Dog Trainer·Wednesday, 17 April 2019
Hello and thank you for dropping by. My name is Caroline and I am a proud to say I am a fully qualified member of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers. To become one of their qualified dog trainers you need to pass a very vigorous assessment and agree to abide by their strict code of ethics so you can rest assured only positive training methods are used and I have many years of experience.
My training journey started actually started 36 years ago as a pupil at a class but I will tell you more about this in a bit. Dogs have been in my life since I was a twinkle in my parents eye! lol. I have grown up around dogs as my family have never not had a dog, they always had dogs, even before I was born. I grew up with an assortment of terriers, spaniels and retrievers and at 19yrs old I was working in my fathers boarding kennels so my whole life has always been about dogs. My first ‘very own’ dog was Sheba. Someone used to board their adorable GSD puppy every weekend when they went away, (lucky them). When she was 6mths old they decided they didn’t want her anymore and offered her to me. I couldn’t say no, obviously, so Sheba became my first very own dog. My mother, even though we had several dogs living in the house, refused to let me bring sheba in the house as she had this ‘thing’ about German Shepherds, so Sheba had to sleep in the kennels but spent her days at work with me and her evenings going to the pub or where ever I was going that evening. I was only 20yrs old at the time so had quite a social life. After about 6mths, mother realised that actually German Shepherds aren’t that scary and Sheba was allowed to sleep with me. Both of us in a single bed! I attended dog training classes with her and back then there wasn’t choice like there is now. There was one training club that covered this area and it was very much of the time, Barbara Woodhouse style! (those of a certain age will know what I mean!). I remember walking into the hall with Sheba on a normal collar and lead and the first thing I was told was “you need to get a choke chain on that”. When I asked why I was told, “because you have an Alsation”. Oh right, ok then. So I bought one. Each week we walked around a hall, in a circle, telling our dogs to heel whilst giving them a yank on their choke chain. We taught the to sit by saying (in a Barbara woodhouse voice) siT and pushed their bottom to the floor. Then we said good dog. Thank goodness Sheba was a very easy dog to train so I didn’t have to do much yanking on the lead! And thank goodness times have changed and we now know better ways, though sadly this method is still used today by some dog training schools. If your dog was noisy in class the instructor would get a squeezy bottle (that they had prepared earlier) and give the dog a squirt with salt water! Again, thankfully this method is not used nowadays by trainers who understand there are much better ways to deal with a barking dog and the first thing to take into consideration is a dogs emotional state and why they are barking. I look back and think about how we treated our dogs “back in the day” and cringe. I am proud to say I now use reward based clicker training which is much kinder, more effective and dogs love it.
I first started studying dog training back in 1996 when I completed a year course at Bicton College and then went on to do a puppy instructor certificate with Sarah Whitehead and also the John Fisher ‘think dog’ certificate. I soon became hooked on this new way of training. It was much kinder than the methods I had experienced previously but some of the things I was learning didn’t sit well with me. The pack theory method came about after a study of wolves and so we were taught we must walk through doorways and gates before our dogs, we must eat before our dogs, we needed to pretend to eat out of our dogs bowl, we must not let our dogs on the sofa or our bed and to be anywhere higher than us, so for instance at the top of the stairs. I used to say to my husband at the time, I don’t know why I have to eat before my dogs or go through doors before my dogs, it doesn’t make sense and to be perfectly honest it just wasn’t always practical to eat before them and if I wanted to go through a door first I would just ask all of my dogs to sit and wait while I went first. But this method was definitely better than the previous one, so I found myself recommending people who were having issues with their dogs to follow this method. And it did work, and we did get good results. Another thing we were told to do, was to dominate your dog by doing the alpha roll. Well this definitely wasn’t something I wanted to do to any of my dogs and I never ever recommended it to any clients either. Luckily the pack theory has now been disproven, so modern trainers who are learning science based methods will no longer advise using any of these methods. Sadly, a certain Mexican guy in America is still using this method and so a lot of people are still believing in the pack theory, even though the guy who originally came up with the pack theory method has now admitted he was wrong! Believe me, you and your dog are not a pack, for a start your a different species, and your dog is most definitely NOT trying to dominate you.
In the year 2000 I became qualified as a puppy instructor with the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers). At this time I used to hold my own dog training classes in Ogwell, outside in a field, (which was pretty much unheard of back then as everyone trained in a hall). I also joined forces with another local trainer and used to hold classes in Bovey Tracey (which were in a hall) and also provided classes at Animals in Distress for people who had dogs that had been rehomed from there, (these were outside and I did it for free so that all the money clients paid for their lessons went straight back into the charity). At this time I regularly competed in Agility competitions and also held weekly fun agility classes. However, with a young family and a busy boarding kennels, my dog training had to take a back seat as I just didn’t have the time, so I gave up classes, let my APDT membership lapse (as you needed to be assessed every 2years) and didn’t practice as a dog training instructor for about 10yrs.
About 5yrs ago I found I had time to get back into dog training professionally and started studying with the IMDT. I travelled to Hertfordshire several times and did so many of their courses, it was almost like an addiction. I also travelled around the UK attending seminars and workshops and then eventually did my assessment with the IMDT and I am proud to be a fully qualified member of The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers. I still try to go on as many courses, workshops and seminars as I can to keep up to date with current training methods. You are always learning in the dog training world and it is really important to me that I continue to gain knowledge and experience that I can share with my clients. Over the years I have attended many seminars and workshops with some of the greats, such as Dr Ian Dunbar, John Rogerson, Sarah Whitehead, Peter Neville, Steve Mann, Nando Brown and Chirag Patel to name just a few. All training is as force free as possible, using reward based and positive methods and I love clicker training and games based training too.
My passion is dogs body language and I love watching how the dogs that come to the kennels on holiday interact with each other. I am lucky to be able to spend every day with dogs, whether it be working in the kennels, dog training or with my own dogs. I share my life with 8 dogs of my own, (yes 8!) and they all live indoors. I have 5 patterdale/jack russells, a Cypriot hound that “found” me when I was on holiday in Cyprus 9yrs ago, my gorgeous girl Ivy who is a working cocker and has been my companion on all the training courses i have done with the IMDT in the last 3yrs and I have recently added to my family with another beautiful working cocker spaniel pup, Mary, who is an absolute delight but completely nuts. I’m definitely a spaniel girl these days. Years ago my favourite breed was German Shepherds and I have had 4 German Shepherds in my life, but the breed has changed so much I would never have another one. I have also had a Staffie, a springer spaniel, a couple collies and Jack Russells and a couple rescues too. I always seem to have had around 7-9 dogs living with me at a time so living with a multi-dog household is just normal for me.
At present I concentrate on pet dog training, offering puppy classes, scent work classes and 121 training, as well as still running and working in my boarding kennels. The kennels is in East Ogwell near Newton Abbot and all the training is held here too where we are lucky to have a field to use and a small indoor training room for those wet days. In the puppy classes and 121 lessons I teach you how to train your dog or puppy using modern, fun, reward based methods. I always say we should call it owner training really, as its teaching the owner how to teach their dog. I teach you how to train your dog using positive methods as there is no need for harsh methods, such as choke chains or squirt bottles in this day and age, thank goodness! Everyone wants their dog to be happy and well-behaved and this can be achieved by teaching him good manners. Having a puppy, as wonderful as it is, can feel like a real challenge at times. Housetraining & biting and chewing can be a challenge in themselves, let alone teaching basic manners. Everyone wants a dog that comes back when called, walks nicely on the lead and doesn’t jump all over people. This, and more is what you will be taught at my dog training school. I have the experience and knowledge to guide you through what can be a challenging time and help you teach your dog in a positive and calm way resulting in a happy, well-mannered dog and a happy house.
If you are still here with me, after reading all the above, and would like to find out more, give me a call on 07702122042 or check out the website

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