Meet the expert…..
James Reavil is a canine behaviourist and trainer based in Kent. He is a Master Trainer with The guild of Dog Trainers, an associate with the Canine and Feline Association and trainer with The Gundog Club. James also runs Cwnsaethu Dog Training and is involved with The Dog Safety Education Executive.
As a dog behaviourist and trainer I take great pleasure from being able to help people and their dogs. Mostly, this is done within normal working hours or training sessions but sometimes I get the opportunity to help dog owners even when I’m not working.
Take the other day as a good example. I was out at a local country park in Kent when I saw two women struggling with two young German Shepherd dogs. The women had obviously just arrived and I could see the dogs were super hyperactive and excited; lunging towards other people and other dogs and quite literally pulling their owners along. The dogs were also very vocal and appeared to be very aggressive and out of control. Their owners were clearly having a hard time controlling them and were quite obviously embarrassed by their inability to get their dogs to behave appropriately in public. At the end of their walk, I observed the same dog behaviours being displayed as at the beginning, so I decided to approach them to see if I could be of any assistance.
As it turned out the owners were a mother and daughter with a bolshie 8 month old German Shepherd and a 7 month old nervous German Shepherd. Both female dogs were out of control and had two different brands of head collars on. Neither clearly worked. After introducing myself and discussing their circumstances, I suggested that they might like to try the Gencon Allin1 headcollar that I had in my car and they agreed.
We decided to start on the more confident, high drive dog first. The immediate effect was dramatic! As soon as we put the Gencon headcollar on she instantly calmed down, stopped pulling and lunging towards other people and their dogs.
We then swapped the Gencon onto the more nervous dog. Of the two, this dog had been much more aggressive and vocal towards other dogs. What her owner’s didn’t realise however, was that she was in fact nervous. The Gencon calmed her down immediately, she stopped lunging and the owner was able to walk her much more easily. The relief felt by the owners was palpable.
The beauty of a Gencon is that it takes the pressure off the owner. It allows them to relax and enjoy their walks. This, in turn, improves communication between dog and owner. As a dog behaviourist and trainer, I believe that the lead is one of the most important communication tools we have between us and our dogs. I also firmly believe that it’s only when a dog is calm and relaxed and communication established that the training can then begin.
In addition to using the Gencon, we also discussed how training sessions would be advantageous. We agreed that they would benefit from joint 1-2-1 training and I’m happy to say that a few days later they came to see me. During their session we looked at how they interacted with their dogs – communication being key with German Shepherds who are by nature very sensitive and quick to pick up on other energy – and by the end of the session they we are able to mix their dogs with some of my own dogs. Infused with confidence, the owners went away with their own customised training programmes to follow and I am pleased to say that their dogs’ behaviour and development continues apace.