Would you like your pooch to be better behaved?
Are you forever apologising about their unruly ways?
Or are you thinking of getting a dog and need advice on training?
We’ve teamed up with Dominic Hodgson, trainer and author of Worry Free Walks and the Cosy Canine Company who make dog walking bags and we’re giving away a Worry Free Walk Bundle worth £75 to one lucky reader.
It’s a sad reality that every Christmas people across the UK welcome a dog into their home
Dogs Trust - famous for their 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas' campaign - carried out a study and found one in ten owners admitted buying or giving a pet as a gift.
Heartbreakingly, each January, thousands are abandoned in shelters.
Having a dog brings so much happiness but it’s a huge responsibility too.
Dog walker and trainer Dominic Hodgson’s new book, Worry Free Walks, sets out to take away the stress for new owners and help those who might be struggling controlling their dog.
“So many people are embarrassed by their dog’s behaviour but feel at a loss as to what to do,” he explained.
“They make excuses as they lunge and bark, like ‘He’s young,’ or ‘He’s just friendly,’ or ‘He’s a rescue dog.’
“Not only is having an out of control dog dangerous and unfair on other dogs and their owners, but it’s putting a lot of stress on the owner too.
“I wanted to write a book to de-mystify dog behaviour and give owners really simple steps to follow to improve the relationship they have with their pets and take the worry out of their walks.”
Dominic has experienced being the type of owner his book aims to help
When he first started his dog walking business back in 2011, he admits to his huge embarrassment that dogs would run amok and he ‘couldn’t control a couple of chihuahuas!’
So Dominic, 40, from Sunderland, went on a mission to learn about canine behaviour.
He trained at Dogs Trust Darlington with world renowned behaviourist John Rogerson who runs the Northern College of Canine Behaviour.
He saw huge changes in the behaviour of the dogs in his care and wrote his first book, How To Be Your Dog’s Superhero, to share what he’d learned.
Worry Free Walks is the first in a five part series and encourages owners to play, train and entertain and ultimately have fun with their dogs.
Dominic explains: “Many owners say their dog is an angel at home but once they step outside they're completely distracted, looking for other dogs, cats, squirrels and so on.
“They feel scared, powerless and weak but the reason their dog is like this is because they’re bored and they think their owner is boring too."
Research has shown that being bored can lead to a host of problems for dogs
A study of 400 dogs by researchers at Bristol University found a lack of play can cause up to 22 different issues including anxiety, aggression, pulling on the lead, whining, and not coming when called.
The book tackles these behavioural issues and how owners can overcome them. Dominic says: “Often people are so worried they think about giving up their dog, but there are simple ways to help them.
"It takes time and patience but it can be done. You should aim for your dog to think of you as being someone they enjoy spending time with, who is as interesting for them as another dog.
“Start at home or in the garden. Play games, find their favourite thing and make sure you have as much fun as possible and do this daily. Slowly you'll find walks a lot less stressful.”
Dominic on one of his walks with his son Alex
If you’re a regular reader you will know I recently adopted a dog, Patch
We’re working with a behaviourist Sue McCabe from Muttamorphosis on a number of things including recall and impulse control.
And when I read Worry Free Walks, a lot of the lessons I’ve been learning with Sue feature in it which is why I was so keen to do a post with Dominic.
While I like having 1-1 help, I know it’s not an option for everyone but this book has so much useful information in it that I know from personal experience will really help owners.
One piece of advice is to always be equipped for the walk, so take high value treats (cheese, sausage, chicken) along with your dog’s favourite toy (this could be an old sock - something to engage him) when you go for a walk.
I collaborated with Lottie who makes dog walking bags at The Cosy Canine Company on this post because that’s what I do. Mine has a tub of treats, tennis balls and a tug toy and I keep it by the door and I’ve seen such an improvement in Patch.
Our bag gets soooo much use!
Equipping yourself for the walk is key to making changes
Dominic explains: “If you go to the park and let your dog run around with other dogs while you chat to their owners, you’re not giving them what they need.
“The reason dogs behave better with walkers or trainers is because they make an effort. They need to have their attention, so they play, they give encouragement, they have fun.
“Don’t be embarrassed to jump around in the park with toys, make high pitched sounds of encouragement and be more interesting.
“You want your dog to look at you as a fun, entertaining and exciting person in his life. Use a long line training lead until you’re at the point when you feel completely sure you have control and your dog will come back.”
Dominic with some of his clients
The book is packed with ideas to help owners
From tug games to chasing balls and circuit training, Worry Free Walks shares lots of easy, actionable tips to follow to entertain dogs and post walk routines to help them settle.
“The book is a short and easy guide for any dog owner to follow to take the stress away from walks,” Dominic added.
“Following the steps will help you get your dog to focus on you, improve the relationship you have and make life safer and more enjoyable for you both.”
If you like the idea of a walking bag, or to check out the different styles, visit www.thecosycaninecompany.co.uk
We have a Worry Free Walk bundle worth £75 to give away
It includes a copy of Dominic’s book, a Cosy Canine Company dog walking bag worth £44.95, a Rosewood Pet flashing festive ball and a pack of treats.
To be in with a chance to win, either reply to this post or comment on our Facebook page saying why you need a Worry Free Walk kit.
The winner will be announced on our Facebook page on Monday December 17th.
If you'd like to learn more about your dog, you might enjoy Expert advice from Helen Mottram on how to cope with anxious dogs or Hannah Capon from Canine Arthritis Management shares 6 things every dog owner needs to know.