You, your family and your dog
Come prepared for working in an unheated barn with a sand floor. If the weather is good we can work outside on grass. Wear ‘sensible’ shoes that give decent grip, especially if you are doing agility. If it’s cold outside, it’s very cold in the barn so dress warmly. In any case, make sure you either have big pockets or a bum bag for holding your dog’s treats.
Family members are very welcome as it is a good idea if you all hear the same information straight from the horse’s mouth. However, please be aware that Leanne and Sally are not kindergarten teachers so children will have to be non-disruptive.
Your dog will need a flat buckled or snap fastening collar. Check chains and slip leads are not permitted. A head collar or harness is fine but please be aware that some of the ‘no-pull’ harnesses work by putting the dog off balance and this can be disastrous for young dogs whose bodies are still growing and can be permanently damaged by such equipment. A lead of between 3 and 6 feet is best with a clip at one or both ends. Extending leads have their place but not when you are training your dog as they are too cumbersome. The thinner the lead, the easier it is to handle and if you buy high quality English bridle leather it is a pleasure to hold. Synthetic rope braid is also kind to the hands and does not get waterlogged in the rain. Nylon leads are often sharp at the edges and rope leads can give rope burn.
Dogs look upon our sand surface as an ideal litter tray and even if they have toileted before arriving they seem to feel it would be churlish to turn down the opportunity to use such an inviting surface. Please bring clean up bags with you and be prepared to pick up after your dog and take it home with you. (If you use nappy sacks you can hang them by the handle over the tow bar or rear wash wipe to save having them in the car.)
As for the humans, we have a portaloo for you to use in emergencies.
We use reward based systems so you will need to provide high quality rewards for your dog. If your dog likes toys, bring a selection (including a long tug toy) but if you are sharing a lesson, please leave the squeaky toys at home. Remember, we are on a sand surface so do not bring a toy that will pick up a lot of sand if you intend to let the dog have access to it back in the house.
As for food, the ideal treat should be:
Soft or moist (dogs should not have to crunch or chew)
Better than your dog usually gets
‘Real food’ not processed Pedigree rubbish
You can buy or make really good treats quite cheaply. For people with strong stomachs, liver is what most dogs die for. Tiny pieces of liver cooked with garlic are ideal for training as long as they are still moist.
Cheese is good but it must be stuff that doesn’t crumble as bits dropping on the floor are a big distraction to your dog. Most supermarkets have an own brand value mild Cheddar that cuts into tiny cubes extremely well.
Primula Cream Cheese Spread in a tube is a handy way of dispensing food without your pockets getting filthy and dogs love it. However, it can be cumbersome to handle for certain exercises.
Meat is a real favourite. You can either use the leftovers from a human meal or buy/cook stuff especially for the dogs. I buy supermarket own brand cooked Party Cocktail Sausages. All I have to do is slice them into small cubes. To give you some idea of size of treat, the tiny cocktail sausages I slice lengthways into quarters so I have four sticks and then each of these is cut into four or five –that’s 16-20 treats per tiny sausage!
And then there are treats prepared by your own fair hands. There are a million recipes for liver cake but as I could not countenance making such a disgusting thing, I’ll let you find your own. Remember, do not make it crumbly.
My alternative is Tuna Garlic cake and is ideal for anyone who can’t cook.
2 cans tuna in sunflower oil
Flour/polenta/rice flour – anything like that!
Mash up the tuna in the oil and add the garlic. Stir in the eggs and break them up (throw the shells to the dog). Do not beat the mixture as you do not want holes in the cake. Add sufficient flour to make a cake mixture type consistency (okay, so you have to know what this looks likes).
Put into greased microwaveable dishes (I have used two 8 inch diameter flat bottomed circular things), and nuke on full power for about 5 minutes. If you have covered the dish, take the cover off and give the cake a good poke – it should be rubbery. Put back in without the cover for about another minute.
Allow to cool and cut into hundreds of treats. Apparently it freezes well but mine has never got that far.