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Garstang Show

It's the beginning of August, it doesn't feel like it as at the time of writing this as it's pouring with rain, and has been for the past couple of days. This has come as a bit of a shock as we have all been spoilt during the past few months; with glorious sunshine and temperatures that have sometimes been uncomfortable.

For various reasons this year I decided not to have a stand at any county shows but, just at the last minute, I thought that I would go to the Garstang Show in Lancashire. I have several clients down there and I thought it would be fun to go for the weekend.

This was the only weekend that it decided to pour down! I couldn't believe my bad luck arriving at the show ground the night before to put up the marquee, it was obvious that if it kept on raining during the night the show the next day was going to be very very muddy, and we would all be sliding around hopefully not on our bottoms!

We managed to get the marque up without too much trouble, thanks to the amazing help of some of my clients who came along to help me out, and thankfully it wasn't windy so it seemed very stable - I just prayed that it would still be there tomorrow when I arrived!

The next day, arriving at 7.30am, the mud was quite deep and the vehicles were all trying to get onto the field to park and unload, some of us decided to park in the car park allocated for us and just carry our things across to our stands.

Luckily I found two young guys on the gates, they were really great and helped me to get my things across to the stand. They were looking very stressed and were trying to keep everyone calm and happy, I saw them at the end of the looking really worn out as they had had to pull people out of the mud with tractors.

Once I was up and running, and despite the poor conditions, the show was really good and in the morning a few brave souls clad in wellies and macs sloshed along quite happily to my stand. A few people had dogs with them and stopped for a chat, it was a fruitful morning as quite a few decided that they needed my help and booked some of my services.

At the back of my stand there was a little ring set up that had dog events going on throughout the day. A few children went past me with their beloved dogs and there was a fun dog show with a few different classes for the children which they could take part in.

There was also a scurry and an agility class. The agility class drew quite a big crowed in as there seemed to be a lot of noise and clapping going on. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to go round and have a look.

My helper on my stand is a client who has now become a very good friend, she has a little Norfolk terrier called ‘Rosie'. Rosie is a crowd puller!

Norfolk terriers are quite unusual in this part of the world, I trained Rosie many years ago for her owner, since then I have looked after her quite a bit over the past few years. Never be fooled by their sweet innocent look! For they may be small but they have a terrier brain and a lions heart and they can be quite determined little dogs. I love them as they are so characterful and full of fun, very nosey and very busy.

On the stand Rosie sits beautiful in full pose for all to admire her, she monitors all that is going on and checks out to see who is walking by. When someone stops to say hello to her she eyes them up and down then decides whether she will allow them to touch her or not, if not she turns her head away and looks in the other direction until they walk away.

At the show Rosie and I did a little demonstration of training outside the marquee and everyone was suitable impressed. When it was over Rosie retired under the chair and deciding that she had had enough she then went to sleep with one eye slightly open just to keep a check on things.

Several dogs walked past with their owners completely unaware that a little Norfolk terrier was checking up on them!

In the afternoon the rain stopped for about an hour, more people arrived on the show ground and things cheered up a bit. Several old friends of mine turned up unexpectedly which was nice surprise and so I was busy again meeting lovely new people and dogs.

I managed to take a break for half an hour and so was able to visit some of the other stands and do some shopping. I passed a tent with loads of budgerigars they were all singing there little hearts out and the noise was amazing.

As I walked by the main ring the heavy horses and fouls were being judged. The sheep and cattle had been in the ring earlier in the morning as had several of the other animals. The heavens opened again and the hoods and hats went on, umbrellas shot up and the ground got even muddier! And so by late afternoon after all the livestock had been judged and we had drank the last of the tea and eaten the last of our sandwiches it was time to pack up again and go home - that was the bit I was worried about! But I needn't have been as several of my friends and helpers came to help me and I managed to get my car through the mud and onto the grass so that we could pack it up. I drove off the show ground praying that I wouldn't have to be pulled out but I was luckier than a lot people as I got out without any mishaps.

What a lovely country show! Friendly, very well organized with some very interesting stands and interesting people doing all sorts of interesting things.

Well done Garstang and I'm sure I'll be back there next year!

About Ingrid Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.

Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. / 00 44 931 715282

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Dogs in Paradise

June is here again and the show season is starting to take off - let's hope we have great weather for them like we did last summer. I am really looking forward to meeting up with old friends and seeing their dogs again, as well as making new canine owner friends.

Talking of new people and dogs I had a great holiday in Barbados this April which had quite an amusing start to it, although one which I thought may end me up in jail!

Barbados is one of the most beautiful places to visit with blue sky and golden sands, it is one of the safest Caribbean Islands and the vegetation is stunning… it really is paradise. I am lucky enough to have friends who have a house there which they visit regularly the house is in the sugar plantation area and the scenery is beautiful ,very rural and very quiet the area looks rather like a mixture between Scotland and Cumbria but with the sunshine and next to the beach.

When we arrived at the Airport we did all the usual things, went through passport control and then headed off to collect our luggage just as I had just walked through passport control and past the officer who had been looking at the passports he jumped up, left everyone standing in the queue and ran after me shouting for me to come back, I froze wondering what I had done wrong! With everyone looking at me I had no choice but to go back to the desk to see what he wanted, without smiling he asked if I was a dog trainer! I said ‘yes' and he then told me that he had a young dog who had some problem and could I give him some advice! I stopped having my heart attack, started breathing again and started to smile before I gave him the advice that he needed to sort out his dog. With the queues getting longer the passengers patients were getting shorter I felt so embarrassed to say the least.

It just goes to show that even on holiday I can't escape from dogs! A lovely funny experience and one that really mirrors just how friendly and laid back the Bajan's are,

My friends neighbours in Barbados have 3 dogs of dubious origin, they range from very large and intimidating, to medium and very noisy and then down to small and very sweet. The little pack have a lovely shaded garden to play in and a little doggie swimming pool which they hop in and out of all day very happily, they certainly know how to stay cool!

In the morning their owner takes them to the beach for their walk and his run, they usually go out just as the sun is rising which varies throughout the year but is usually about 5.00-5.30am. The dogs all wait at their garden gate to be told to go through it and then they proceed to walk to heel off a lead in a row past our house down the little hill to the roadside. When they arrive there they sit immediately at the side of the road and only cross over when told to do so, once they get onto the beach when given the command to go they take off and have a good run with their owner along the beach. What great exercise for them all! On return home they go through the same routine but once back in the garden they have a wash down before they are allowed to go into the swimming pool.

Some days the little pack went off in the car to a different place for their morning walk, one morning I was watching as the owners were getting ready to go out with them, they had a car boot full of the dogs things a sun brolly, a box of toys, water bottles, bowls , and towels and after putting all the dogs in plus the dog equipment there was just enough room for the owners to get in it ! It just reminded me of packing up children ready for a day at the beach.

I was so impressed with the owners as they had brought up that little pack really well and they all enjoyed each other's company without any hassles they certainty didn't need a trainer!

I envied those dogs living so near the beach and in such a lovely place they just don't realise how privileged they are and how much money some of us humans have to spend getting there just to enjoy a couple of weeks sharing there beach with them. But it's worth every penny as you don't often get the chance to see paradise.

About Ingrid
Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.

Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs.
tel 00 44 931 715282

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Training Types

This way or that way?

I read with interest in one of the Sunday papers last weekend an article about dog training and the 'right' way to train.

There seem to be two schools of thought and researchers have come up with conflicting ideas regarding the 'right' and 'wrong' way of training our four legged friends.

The article talked about positive and negative ways of approaching the work that needs to be done to have a fully trained, happy and safe dog so that owners and dogs can enjoy life together.

It can be really daunting for owners when embarking on the business of finding a good dog trainer, and it can be confusing knowing what type of training is the best one, especially as there are many different views about what makes 'good' training. It is so important to get it right for both the owner and the dog and I always say that the first thing any dog owner should look for is a trainer who has a first class reputation, and who has had consistent and excellent success over the years that they have been training.

Asking around and checking out the trainer is important before the owner speaks to them. It's always worth contacting local businesses that may know of them and be able to give you some feedback, for example the local Veterinary Clinic would be a good place to start. If they have a reputation, positive or otherwise, then the local Vet will know. Also ask around if anyone knows of someone's who's been for training and see if you can speak to them to get their feedback.

You can also tell a lot about someone when speaking to them on the phone, how they talk to you and explain their training methods and what to expect from the session with them. After researching local trainers can you make an informed decision.

The article in the paper I read gives a view on the softer, treat based training methods, however this study has caused controversy as relying totally on this method fails to teach dogs boundaries as well as good manners, resulting in unacceptable behaviour and confusion on the part of the dog.

The other view was on the side of training with no treats, with pack leadership firmly in place, boundaries set out clearly and good manners been installed in the dog from the start. Resulting in a calm well balanced dog with an understanding of what is required of him. Research shows that this is a much more positive approach to training.

Whichever view you take one thing is certain, a healthy happy relationship is important when training as both owner and dog need to be totally together and in harmony to make it work. As the late Barbara Woodhouse was known for saying “there are no bad dogs, only bad owners”

There have been so many books and videos, so much information on the internet that no wonder people are confused. Some clients who come to me have been elsewhere first, and haven't received what they wanted and needed often they are a little confused about the physiology of the dog as well, but once a few simple things have been explained and they understand then training the “Grayling Way “ can begin.

In my view training should be fun, firm and positive!

I have a full summer of trainings ahead but until then I'm taking a well-earned break and will be not be saying sit, stay and come as I am heading off on a holiday to Barbados to soak up some sun; my training whistle will be hanging up behind the door having a rest as well!

Tel:00 44 931 715282

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Good relationships

Here we are in February again – it's cold and wet as usual, and after the high winds we experienced in December and January everything looks as if we have been in the middle of a hurricane.

I was lucky enough to be in Bath for a few weeks over the Christmas period where we were fortunate enough to only have a couple of days of really high winds and not too much rain. There were plenty of days filled with fresh blue skies and soft sunshine and it was warm enough to go out without my thermals on; a lovely change for me!

As well as having a well-earned rest after a busy year of work, I was also there to home sit for a client in the most beautiful house surrounded by stunning scenery. It gave me the opportunity to work at my Bath training venue and work with some new clients from the area and train some lovely young dogs. I love going to Bath as I can catch up with existing clients who live in the south who I have been working with over the past year.

Home sitting was a complete joy as the setting in which the house sat was stunning with open fields and lovely views across the Golden Valley, as it's known. The sunrise each day was as breath taking as the sunsets and looking out across the valley over my morning coffee was lovely.

I did have a few heart stopping moments though as I had five chickens to look after, 4 brown and 1 white. They were free range and lived near the house in a huge open enclosure surrounded by an electric fence to keep the foxes out. They had trees to roost in and a lovely hut to sleep in, and were fairly easy to look after, they just had to be cleared out every few days, as well as being fed. The girls were a bit naughty and didn't lay eggs everyday as the owners said they would, I think they had decided to have a Christmas break as well, but after the new year they decided to buck there ideas up and they started laying again.

The white chicken was the one that had my heart stopping several times as every morning when I went out to feed and check them she was never there! All the others came to see me but not her, after a few days I realised that she was a home bird. She really didn't like coming out but preferred to sit in her little house just peeping out. However after a few days we had a routine, when I went and called them she would pop out let me see she was still alive and well, and then pop back in again. I wonder do I have another gift should I become a chicken trainer instead of a dog trainer!!

Meting up with clients who had all attended my training school in Bath over the past years was great, and really important to do for any trainer to help maintain a good working relationship, as well as friendships. I know clients like to feel confident that they always have total support and help from the trainer and it was fun to see how much work they had put into their dogs and how they have developed. The people that I saw in Bath really surprised me as I didn't expect them to be so perfect, but they had all worked really hard and had maintained the training that they had been taught, the dogs, as well as the owners, were all having a great life and a lot of fun together. It was very satisfying to see them all again and that is what makes training so rewarding and so worthwhile.

For me training is not just about seeing an owner with their dog, doing the training, and then forgetting all about them. The role of any good teachers is to build up a relationship with the owner and the dog and then to remain in both of their lives for back-up and total support should they need it. I must say that over the many years of training I have always had excellent clients and dogs and over half of them have turned out to be really good friends, a really rewarding part of my job and which I feel very blessed to have.

I'm really looking forward to 2014 and the events and work it will bring – already I have some exciting business ideas in the pipeline, so watch this space!

Best wishes, Ingrid.

About Ingrid.
Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.
Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioural problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. / 00 44 931 715282

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New arrivals at Christmas.

New arrivals at Christmas.

Christmas is nearly here again and already it feels very festive with the very cold and frosty mornings. I love the sound of the crispness under foot, and actually enjoy layering up with plenty of thermals. It's wonderful to be out with the dogs especially as the sunshine feels lovely and warming on the face. This is also the time of year that I start to get enquiries about buying a new dog or puppy with many of my clients looking to expand their families with a new friend, and in some cases, clients are looking to welcome in other new arrivals, like a baby.

Through my work as a dog trainer I meet many people from all walks of life, recently I have met several new people who are mums-to-be and who have already got a dog in their family. Some of the dogs are young and some are older but all have had the same problem of pulling on the lead, and quite understandably, the mothers are concerned that they won't be able to walk with the pram or buggy with the dog at their side walking calmly without pulling.

The reality of course is that, with a pram or buggy, there is no hope at all of the dog going out with the owner whist she has the baby with her. And as is often the case the partner is working so there isn't another pair of hands to help. So the dog cannot go out for a their daily walk/ exercise which in turn can cause other problems.

Not everyone has a trained dog and knows what is expected of it .Many dog owners have never been taught the physical side of dog training or the physiological aspects, which is why I teach and explain some of the relevant physiological elements so that the owners have a basic understanding of where a dog is coming from. I teach this to my clients in their first lesson with me.

Recently I have had some very strange looks and some very strange comments as I have been walking down local lanes with prams and pushchairs, weighed down with heavy bags, with a dog in tow at my side. The mothers have been walking with me and at the same time I have been teaching the dogs how to walk with them, with this new machine with wheels going round, which to a dog are fascinating! This is often the first time that some of these dogs have met handles and wheels so we have be careful not to scare or frighten them but introduce them carefully.

Taken carefully and slowly we achieve what we are aiming for, which is; for the dog to understand that when this strange object, with the noise inside, comes out and they are on the lead they need to walk to heel and not pull. We often end the training with the dog being allowed off for a run and some controlled freedom.

Besides the strange looks that we have had, we have also had a great time with this training and I have been able to give also them some good old fashion advice for when their baby arrives, my previous career as a nurse working on the antenatal ward comes into play and I loved my time on the ward working with mothers to be. Although I never actually delivered a baby, since I have lived in rural Cumbria I have delivered many lambs which is always a joyous time in the countryside. Luckily I haven't had any mother-to-be clients go into labour during our training, but if I did I'm sure my all my experiences would be very helpful!

My team and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

We will be back in 2014.

About Ingrid

Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.

Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. / 00 44 931 715282

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Ingrids November Blog

I had a surprise request from BBC radio Cumbria this month to speak on their afternoon show for a radio call in.

They asked me if I would go live on air that day as they had a pet program and they wanted me as a dog behaviourist and dog trainer to answer peoples questions.

I love broadcasting live and a few years ago I had a weekly slot on the radio doing a similar type of show. At first it was a bit daunting walking into the studio, sitting opposite the interviewer and then having questions fired at you, however after a few visits, I soon got used to it and eventually felt quite at home in Carlisle studio. So I was more than happy to do this program which turned out to be really interesting and good fun.

There were some funny phone ins - I had a gentleman who had a problem with his gold fish swimming to the end of the tank, away from the television set, when match of the day came on! (yes really!) I don't think my dog knowledge extended to goldfish so I don't think I was much help for him. But there were all sorts of questions asked from dog owners about their dogs who were frightened of bin bags, dogs pulling on leads, dogs chasing livestock and dogs hating vacuum cleaners.

It brought home to me the fact that once again people have problems that are usually, although not always, related to basic training that either hasn't been done or has been done incorrectly. Of course rescue dogs, second hand dogs etc. are slightly different but again a visit to me at an earlier stage of ownership for an assessment would have helped . That way we could decide which way to go and the type of training and work that was needed, it could have saved a lot stress and fear for both owners and dogs.

As I have been looking after and have a great understanding of dogs and how they work for so very many years now, advice and help for owners is very easy, its second nature to me, and I think that experience counts for a lot. Through the radio program, I realised, as I listened to it afterwards that my knowledge is extensive and I may be getting older, but older and wiser go together quite well don't you think!

About Ingrid Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.

Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. 00 44 931 715282

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Ingrid Grayling - Twinkles Accident

The month of October, I hope, will be less dramatic than the end of September!

When you have dogs you expect accident's to happen but when my youngest dog Twinkle had her accident it reinforced what I already knew regarding dogs getting your attention when a serious problem arrives.

Twinkle and I had been out enjoying each others company on a walk, when I decided to take her to a river that we hadn't been to before and do some retrieving work with our training dummies. The river was reasonably deep and I choose my spot carefully, as it turns out not carefully enough!

We did half an hour of some really good work and then with a happy and very soggy dog returned home. Twinkle was towel dried and put into her kennel and I carried on with the rest of the day.

After the afternoon walk and feed time, she came into the kitchen with her mother Emma where we settled down for the night. A couple of hours later I went back into the kitchen and Twinkle was laying stretched out, I said hello to them both, tail wags from Emma nothing from Twinkle I went out again and then returned later ready to let them out before bed time. Emma got up and went to the door while Twinkle lay there on the floor not moving. I knew something was very wrong, I gave her a biscuit but she refused it - a Labrador refusing a biscuit?? I knew then that she must be ill.

I checked her all over and couldn't see anything so I called our vet (it was 11.30 pm by this time) and we agreed to meet at the surgery. I had to carry her to the car as she refused to get onto her feet. I thought by now she must be dying as she didn't open her eyes, She was a dead weight.

We arrived at the vets and we both had to carry her in, Helen, the vet, was really worried. Twinkle lay on the floor not moving. Helen took her temperature which was really high and she examined her thoroughly. Eventually she found a tiny puncture wound on her side that had become infected which had given her the temperature .

As soon as Helen had cut the hair away from the wound and cleaned it up and given her a jab of antibiotics Twinkle jumped up and ran around the surgery bouncing as if she was a puppy again! We couldn't believe that two minutes ago after the drama of the dying dog she had recovered so quickly.

Helen was very impressed and was highly amused as well, thank goodness. I must say I felt a little embarrassed, but as Helen said how clever Twinkle was to create this drama even though it was a bit over the top. It was the only way she could tell me that she didn't feel well and would I PLEASE take notice of her. She recovered really well after a week of the antibiotics.

I learnt another lesson as well: If you are working with your dog in a new place, particularly a river, check it out first at least once or twice before you let your dog in as you just don't know what's hidden dangers may harm your dog.

We are once again drama free, but I am ready for next one!

A happy and healthy October to you all. Ingrid.

About Ingrid

Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK’s leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years’ experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.

Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. / 00 44 931 715282

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Just Annika

This month I am handing over the reins of my blog and have invited a very special lady to write it. The lady is question is Annika Saunders, a beautiful Cardigan corgi. Annika is no ordinary corgi though as she has this month launched her very first book titled ‘Just Annika’.

The enchanting book of ‘Just Annika’ tells the story of Annika and her corgi adventures. I was delighted to be asked if Annika’s experience and time spent with me at my training school could be used as inspiration for part of the book. Of course I said yes and was totally honoured. Through Annika’s creative and entertaining narrating, the book tells the story of Annika learning to become a fully trained dog at my training school, referred to as ‘Miss Ingrid’s School of Correction’, and how ‘Miss Ingrid’ turned Annika from a naughty cheese eating puppy into a dog show winner and a totally well behaved and trained dog. The book also has many more captivating stories including some special and humorous tales about the devastating moment that Annika realises that the Queen’s corgis are Pembrokes and not Cardigans, her first true love with a dog called Ace, and her life living with Ditto, her corgi understudy. Annika has a little help from her owner (mainly with spelling), Vivien Saunders - Vivien Saunders is former British Women’s Open Golf Champion and twice winner of the British Sports Coach. Vivien is a golf coach and entrepreneur and owns the Cambridge Meridian Golf Club and Abbotsley Golf Hotel in Cambridgeshire. In 1997 Vivien was awarded an OBE for services to golf and has written books with Sir Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer. Here are a couple of extracts for you to enjoy and get a taster of the book.

Extract from: Chapter 13: The School of Correction

We drove the short distance to the school and Miss Ingrid was there to greet us. Before she had even really welcomed us or exchanged the time of day she made it clear she disapproved of dogs sitting in harness on the front seat next to their owns. She thought it far better for a dog to travel in the back in its own cage. “Shall I bring Annika in on a lead?” ‘No’, said Miss Ingrid. “We’ll leave her in the car. Please put her in her cage in the back. I always start with my lessons with the owners. A badly behaved dog, in all but the most unusual circumstances, is the result of a badly disciplined owner.” My owner was gone for quite a considerable time while I sat patiently in the back of the car. When they both came out to fetch me, my owner looked a little flustered. She has brought a couple of leads for me. There was a nice red one and green one showing pictures of dogs and bones. Then there was a very special lead, a long string one that shot out at various lengths and allowed me a bit of freedom to walk ahead of her. “I always confiscate those extending leads straight away. You’ll never get a well-behaved, controlled dog using that they’re the scourge of dog trainers. I have a whole cupboard full of confiscated leads. Yes, you can keep it, provided you promise never to use it again. Please put her on the other lead and we’ll get started”. We went into Miss Ingrid’s classroom and I curled up on the floor on the rug, with just one ear to the conversation. “Would you like a cup of tea?” My owner said she would and could she please have two spoonfuls of sugar. I thought this was unusual because she didn’t take sugar. And then I remembered some advice I’d heard on the radio – give tea with sugar to someone suffering shock or distress. That’s why she wanted sugar with her tea. She was in shock. I felt a little sorry for my owner.

Extract from: Chapter 15: Sandy from Skye

We set off to Miss Ingrid’s for another days’ training. She asked my owner if she had read all her homework. My owner said she had. This wasn’t true. My owner had spent so much time in the lovely pet shop, and in the pub drinking red wine, that she had forgotten all about her homework. So I knew that I must cover her tracks and respond really well. It was up to me to save my owners embarrassment. I didn’t want her to get a ticking off. She had, after all, bought me a football and a basketball, and I would have had a pig’s ear and a couple of chews to take home if I hadn’t chewed them up in the pub without her knowing. Today we worked on many exciting things. I worked on my choke chain with a rope lead ten paces long. I walked and sat, I walked on command. I learnt that one whistle meant ‘sit’ and two whistles meant ‘come’. I sat at the end of the rope. Miss Ingrid gave two whistles, pulled on the rope and I ran right to her feet and sat down. I decided I must respond just as well for my owner. I did want to please her. And then we did something more advanced. I sat and I stayed. Miss Ingrid commanded me to stay and then walked away from me, right foot first. She walked right to the very end of the rope and then laid the rope on the ground. My ears were all of a quiver. I wondered what was going to happen. Was I going to run to the end of the lead? No, this time she continued to make me stay and walked in a big circle. I followed her round with my head until my head literally wouldn’t turn any further. I had to turn my head to the other side to spot her coming round in a circle to the end of the rope All the time I stayed sitting. And then when she got back to the end of the rope, she gave two blasts on the whistle and I ran towards her sat at her feet. ‘Yes, this dog is absolutely perfect to train. I’m afraid to say this but it’s you my dear. You have to be firm with her and learn a method. It’s hours and hours of practice for several weeks, but you’ll get there. Now, come on it’s your turn, let’s see what you can do.” If you enjoyed reading these extracts and want to know what happens next in Annika’s adventures the book which has now launched can be bought for £15.99 by contacting Ingrid Grayling.

Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK’s leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years’ experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques. Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. / 00 44 931 715282

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Dogs and Babies

Through many years of dog training, walking and being outside in all weathers I now have a few problems with my neck and shoulders. It's an on-going goal to keep my body healthy and pain free as possible so that I can continue the work that I love doing.

I have professional help to enable me to do this both up here in Cumbria and also in the south in the beautiful city of Bath. Both the therapists I work with are highly qualified and know my body very well so are able to keep me pain free most of the time which is very reassuring.

The therapist I go to in Bath is my daughter, She runs her own practice: The Bath Massage Company. She specialises in 'mums-to-be' and infant massage and looks after them during and after the pregnancy.

I work alongside her when I am in Bath and give talks to her clients about how they can introduce their dog to the new baby when it arrives. Something that can be quite daunting and can cause issues of jealousy, and sometimes aggression with animals.

Here in Cumbria I run a one hour session for the new mums on the same subject as many people are really apprehensive about the new baby and the dog meeting each other for the first time.

Preparation before the baby arrives is vital. Any existing training and behavioural issues that the dog has will only escalate after the baby arrives. Preparation includes getting the dog used to the baby equipment: high chair, pushchair etc.

A new mum should meet her dog again for the first time without Her baby. Then later on introduce the dog to the baby in a quiet room and spend time together. Associate the baby's presents with positive experiences, when the dog is behaving well around the baby give plenty of praise and allow him to sniff the baby, when he loses interest carry on as normal.

Don't play with baby on the floor with the dog or leave them together unsupervised not even for a second, this includes all dogs regardless of previous behaviour. Also make sure that your dog has a quiet and safe place to retreat to when he gets fed up.

Dogs and baby's do and can go well together if, right at the beginning the mum/owner does everything to make sure that the dog feels safe and happy around this human puppy. For households with new babies you won't have much time to put your feet up, so making sure your dog is ready for the new arrival before hand is one less thing to worry about!

About Ingrid

Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.

Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. / 00 44 931 715282

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Ingrid Grayling June Blog

It's very easy to take things for granted, especially our health and well being. When you have a health scare it's a wakeup call which does make you stop and think twice and appreciate the body that you have - even if it's only working a fraction of its capability, not 100%, as it has been in my case recently.

I have had key hole surgery on one of my knees recently. The hospital, consultant and my family and friends were all absolutely amazing and so very kind to me in the care that I was given both before and after the surgery. I felt blessed to have such a strong support network around me. The Physiotherapy that I had for a few weeks afterwards was a life saver and gave me back my confidence, which I had lost whilst I was on my crutches. After a couple of months of hard work, doing exactly as I was told, I am now 90 per cent fit again and back on my feet walking the fells with my dogs which I had missed terribly as I was unable to spend time with them.

I learnt a lot during those few months, I learnt how horrible and dependant it feels to be in a wheel chair or on crutches. And how frustrating it is to have to depend on other people for everything you need especially when you have been so independent previously. It was a real eye opener for me, a small look into the world of people who live permanently with a wheelchair. I noticed that some people wouldn't look at me, let alone acknowledge me when they see the wheel chair and how that can make you feel like a totally inadequate human being. But mostly I was really surprised that generally, where ever you go, the facilities for disabled people are not adequate.

I visited one of the big nationwide department stores who didn't have a big enough lift so we had to go in the service lift with all the boxes! On another occasion when I needed to borrow a wheel chair to get around a very large store, it took over 30 minutes for the staff to help me, I was left in a corridor leaning against a wall.

I also learnt how fast and impatient people can be, of course not everyone I came across was like that, I experienced some very kind actions from people, but generally I found people's reactions very surprising, and I was saddened by this. Are we all too busy to take two minutes to see other people's plights and have a little empathy for them?

I have over the years had a few disabled people ask me if they thought that they were capable of owning or caring for a dog. My answer now is definitely a very big YES, Although this does depend on the nature of the disability, they could certainly gain as much as anyone else from the love and companionship of a dog.

The disabled people that I have had come to me to train their dogs have always been determined and therefore have successfully maintained the training after they have left me. And because they have found the time and patience have turned out to be very good owners in the long term. Their dogs have had plenty of exercise, fun times and a very happy fulfilling life style.

These clients have all had a very positive outlook on life and have been willing to go that extra mile to own and train their dogs properly. I always show them the physical side of the training and then between us we adapt the training to suit them and their situation. Laughter and sometimes tears of happiness are part of the lessons and over the years I have made many new friends.

As I train on a hand signal and a whistle this is usually the easy bit for my clients and I am always amazed at how all the dogs, whichever breed large or small, adapt with them; it's always rewarding and emotional for me to watch both owner and dog after a few weeks of really hard work enjoying life with each other and achieving a special bond together. As with all training time, patience, love and pack leadership always works. It just goes to show that however hard life is anything is possible.

Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.

Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. / 00 44 931 715282

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Fun Day Dog Show.

Blendbetter will be sponsoring one of the classes in the Fun Day Dog Show 2013.
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Ingrid May Blog

Ingrid Grayling MAY 2013 Blog

Having just returned from a really lovely holiday, with plenty heat and sunshine, I am now well rested and well wrapped up against the strong winds that we have been having. It seems to be getting sunnier this past week though, thank goodness. A holiday always leaves you feeling refreshed and I’m now ready to face any challenges that may come my way.

Apart from training and working with young dogs I also have quite a few older ones many who have behaviour problems, usually through no fault of their own. On many occasions I am faced with a fraught and very distressed owner, who is at their wits end and needs some professional help with their dog. Most owners recognise that they need to have a better understanding of the do’s and don'ts of dog care but they aren't always confident that they have done the right thing. It’s so important that both dog and owner are at one with each other.

Of course any dog at any age can have problems. Sometimes this is due to incorrect breeding, handling or just the environment in which they find themselves living. A lot depends on the owner and the owner’s lifestyle, whether they have the breed of dog that fits in with everything, taking into account the dog’s size and the amount of exercise needed to keep the dog happy and mentally stimulated etc.

Some of the rescue dogs have had unfortunate beginnings and have therefore developed behavioural problems along the way. Sometimes, as their only line of defence against situations, they can be aggressive towards people or other dogs as they are unable to cope due to lack of training, or pack leadership from a human being. Love, boundaries and proper care have been denied to them.

Behavioural problems cover many things. Barking constantly, chasing, anxiety, assertive and destructive behaviour, are just a few of the most common. Nine out of ten times all of these things can be sorted out with the owner and dog working hard together. The work that I do with my clients is always interesting, once they know what and how to put things into place our goals are usually achieved in a fairly short space of time. When you know the reasoning behind the things that you are doing it makes life very simple. And when you see the positive results it also gives the owners the heart to keep on working with their dog.

I am happy to say that I have helped hundreds of owners, saved their sanity and the lives of many of our four legged friends whom might otherwise have departed this world before their time! Like everything in life once you understand the reasoning behind what you are doing things; life becomes very simple.

Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK’s leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.

Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. / 00 44 931 715282

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Ingrid March 2013

Ingrid Grayling - March 2013 Blog

This is a funny time of year when people tend to reflect on life, whether it be work, lifestyle, family, or maybe they are feeling that spring is on the way and everything is changing again; new life is being born around us and new growth is happening in the garden. Or perhaps it 's the need to move on and do something that is new and challenging. In the Chinese Calendar 2013 is the year of the Snake, a time of change:

" The Snake is able to change her skin and create a new one, giving her an opportunity to leave the old one. This is what the New Year will bring to us: an opportunity to leave our old habits, thinking, worries and fears (like leaving an old skin) to become new beings. It is the time for renewal! The Water represents the rebirth, the flexibility and the power to change. Both, snake and water are a perfect combination for us to re-birth ourselves."

I consider myself very fortunate and very lucky as I live in a beautiful and relatively unspoilt part of the world, surrounded by stunning countryside, with wonderful places to walk my dogs. I am able to enjoy a peaceful life style with my dogs and other peoples dogs too.

Changing direction in life, taking a diffrent path, is not always an easy decision to make but sometimes, when the time is right, this has to be done. Most of us at some point in our lives have had to do this, it can be fun, very exciting, and rewarding in so many different ways. You never know what 's around the corner.

One of the things that I offer through my business is the opportunity for people to train as a dog trainer. These are generally people who have their own dogs, or who have worked with dogs most of their lives and are now at a different stage for various reasons and are looking for a change, a new direction, a new lifestyle and possibly a move.

During the past couple of years I have trained a few people throughout the UK and I like to think that I have inspired and enriched their lives by taking them on and training them to become dog trainers.

Train The Trainers the Grayling Way is a very simple and easy training course. I offer a unique way of training dogs. I teach not just the physical but also many other things related to the care of dogs covering many areas. Having the correct knowledge, knowing how to relate to dogs and having the confidence is not only fun but also a great way to earn a living, and a great way to meet some really interesting people.

My intention has never been to flood the market but just to pass on my skills and knowledge for future generations of dog owners. Understanding dogs, how and why they behave in the way that they do is a fascinating and also a very rewarding way of earning a living.

Carefully selecting the people who I feel will be able, once trained, to continue my methods and standards is of prime importance for the course. After I have met them and we have had an informal interview I know who will be suitable or not. Once we are both happy and we agree to go ahead for the training, both pupil and teacher can look forward to three days of hard work, good fun, and good food!

All of my trainers have complete support from me and we all look forward to our meetings with each other to exchange stories and notes and enjoy each other 's successes.

It 's great fun and very interesting to see people develop into a new lifestyle change. To all dogs don't worry you will all receive the very best from the Grayling Way trainers!

About Ingrid
Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK 's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years ' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques.
Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioral problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs. - 0044931 152827

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Training Gem

Ingrid Grayling - February 2013 Blog

February is usually a wet and windy month and this year has proved to be no exception. Gusts of wind whipping across the Cumbrian fells carrying with it heavy rain and hail doesn't help with the dogs that are in for residential training. Apart from being unpleasant to work in it can be very distracting for them, the strong gusts of wind that whistle past us carry all sorts of interesting things like leaves, torn segments of paper and bits of hay that have blown off the back of the tractors which go up and down the lane feeding the sheep in lamb. For both of us concentrating on the training lesson can be quite difficult.

At the time of writing this I have a very sweet little Jack Russell cross Dachshund in called Gem. She is in for one month's basic obedience training. She is very young and inexperienced, she hasn't experienced much of the world yet. So to her any rustling and movements are viewed with great interest!

Gem is a great little character she is very switched on and bright but at home she was running rings around her owner. Although the owner has had dogs all her life she was tearing her hair out and finding this young, energetic and strong willed little soul hard to handle. So Gem was booked into Boot Camp.

I think Gem imagined that coming here to me was going to be the same as being at home where she was the boss. However, after a few days of her being here and a few trips out on little walks we started to get to know each other and after a power struggle (both of us stubborn) Gem realised that she was at boot camp and that I am the boss here.

Having accepted that fact she then relaxed, and over a few days of training she started to give in. Then we really got down to work, getting on really well with each other with great respect on both sides. Little Gem is now half way through her training and we are both enjoying each other's company - she is so thrilled when she gets praised for doing the training correctly her little tail wags like mad. She has her play times before and after each training session and she plays with my two Labradors whom she loves, especially Twinkle the younger one who she followers around and watches everything that she does.

Let's hope that the weather is kinder next week as Gem will be meeting my sheep for the anti- livestock chasing training. This is a must in this part of the world where livestock are all around us, if the field is dry it makes it more pleasant doing this work. After an encounter with the enemy (to a dog, that's sheep!) Gem will then be allowed off the lead with my two dogs for freedom under a controlled walk. She will be able to go into the woods and field having fun but continuing her training (although she won't realise that at the time).

When Gems owner arrives to pick her up I will then spend a couple of hours with her training her and showing her all that Gem has learnt at Boot Camp. It's always hard to hand the dog back to the owner as by then we have become bonded together and it's hard for dog and trainer to say goodbye. However I know that little Gem will be coming back for her holidays to my kennels and I know that I can look forward to seeing her lovely brown eyes and her wagging tail again. So, perhaps February isn't so bad after all as I have made a new friend in Gem!

About Ingrid: Ingrid Grayling has become one of the UK's leading experts in professional dog training and obedience, and runs a highly successful business in the heart of rural Cumbria offering training and residential care as well as a training school in Bath, Somerset. With over 25 years' experience, Ingrid has built up her business which sees clients come from all over the UK to learn her unique training techniques. Services include: personalised training on a one-to-one basis, training the owner to train their dog, residential training and day courses, help with livestock worrying & behavioural problems, pre-puppy pack and active holidays for dogs.
00 44 931 715282

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Northern Border Terrier Clubs October Open Show.

Blendbetter Pet Foods banner aloft above the winners at the Northern Border Terrier Club's October Open Show.

(taken by Joyce Martin - Official club photographer)
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A Slim And Happy New Year

Happy New Year to Everyone .


Let’s hope that we are all fit and healthy and remain so through out this year, as well as our working dogs should by now also be fit and trim. I only wish that I could say the same for myself as the Christmas lunch is still sitting around my middle but with the new year now here, come rain, snow or even a hurricane I am determined to get back to my usual self again and lose the middle bit for ever!

My own two Labradors have been to the vets this week for their booster inoculations and to be weighed  to see whether there midriffs have expanded or not too! The administration of the Kennel Cough vaccine is a joy for Emma my eldest Lab who sits like a lady with her nose in the air and inhales the drops, she then waits patiently for the yearly jab needle to put into her she then hops onto the weighing scales when asked to  (I hold my breath and wait to be told off).    Emma then patiently waits whilst the vet checks her over, and after this I tell her she is free and she wags her tail wildly, gives a little skip of joy and runs around the surgery showing off. She then retires under the chair to watch her daughter Twinkle.  

Twinkle by then has cottoned on to what is going to happen to her and she has made up her mind to make this as difficult as possible for all of us. She goes on to the weighing scales quite happily though (again I hold my breath) as she likes sitting on them as she is a bit of a show off so can show us how well trained she is when asked to sit and stay, she also knows she will get praise.  She is then checked over by the vet, this bit is a little more serious for her and I can feel a change in her attitude. A few wiggles start to appear so she has to be held tight, the yearly jab is then administered (not so good) a few more wiggles and protests.  

When a  syringe appears with the Kennel Cough vaccine reality starts to dawn on her as she realizes that she is not going home just at this precise moment. Joining her mother  under the chair seems a good idea right now. She chooses her moment  and makes a quick dash off to join  Emma who is  intently watching all of this wondering what all the fuss is about.  Twinkle is then dragged out from under the chair  under great protest  and held by me whist I make nice reassuring noises and try to calm her down. 

The vet whom we know well is lovely with her and is very calm and kind trying very hard to do this as quickly as possible  so as not to upset Twinkle more then she has to. The syringe appears again  and another quick dash is made this time to the door  Twinkle is hoping that we have left it open by mistake!  

Re enforcements are now called for and two strong looking veterinary nurses appear to help with the holding down of Twinkle who by this time has made up her mind that this is really NOT going to happen. By now all three of us are on the floor hanging onto Twinkle who has been backed into a corner we are hanging on for grim death and eventually between handfuls of fur lots of reassuring talk and making fussing noises the dreaded vaccine is given with half of it spilling over us.!  

Twinkle is then released and  dives under the  table, the table collapses with the vet and one of the nurses and twinkle all tangled up with it. After a lot of noise Twinkle manages to get untangled and again makes a dash for safety and  rushes over to join Emma under the chair.The pantomime is over at last we all breath a sigh of relief and straighten ourselves out the vet and the nurses are all very kind to Twinkle who by this time will have nothing to do with them.  

Emma just looks at me and then looks away again with a big sigh, I know how you feel Emma  I think to myself , but I am really embraced by this behaviour as we have it every time we go to  the vets for the jabs. What makes it even more embarrassing is that  I am a dog trainer and I have trained all the vets and there dogs.!  

However once my two  dogs have been extracted from under the chair and the slip leads are firmly on  I wait to see if this is going to get even  worse with the news of the reading of the weighing  scales.  

Joy upon joy my two labs have lost a little weight and our vet is singing my praises and telling me how she admire me for being so diligent with there weight and not overfeeding them as we know labs will eat for England! Meanwhile both Emma and Twinkle are now both sitting at my side bolt upright not taking their eyes off me. They are sitting  perfectly still looking very calm and relaxed, Twinkle looks the picture of the perfect well trained working Labrador who wouldn’t put a foot wrong (apart from visits to the vet ) - she is the most diligent, hard working, little Labrador that I have ever had and I love and respect her dearly.  

After praise for doing so well in maintaining their weight I am feeling very happy and  am now on a high, feeling very good and have some dignity left after the pantomime that we have witnessed . The vet and I have a general chat about things and I casually mention that we all try very hard to keep the weight down, "you do very well" says my vet, "its always hard to keep the weight of Labradors, by the way did I mention Ingrid that I am going to weight watches next week I just wondered if you were thinking of going you could come with me if you like". All my joy has subsided like Twinkle reality sets for me now I thought that I had been quite nimble dashing around the surgery this morning with Twinkle obviously I am trying to fool myself I feel completely shattered with the reality of my Christmas feasting  and am now seriously going to stick to my new year’s resolution  of tackling the problem of my expanded midriff.    

So heres to a Happy ( and slim) New Year!!

Ingrid Grayling
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Ingrid Grayling November Blog

November 2012

The thermals are now on, as are the warm comfortable coats and winter socks. Outside in the kennels the heat lamps are definitely on and remain on throughout the cold frosty nights, and if it's pouring down and miserable, they stay on throughout the day. It makes the kennels look so cozy, I feel like curling up under them myself!

Although I am out most of the day with my working dogs and also the guest kennel dogs I do have excellent people around who help and support me, we work well together as a team. Walking our guest dogs on the fells every day for the hours that we do takes up a huge amount of time so when they take over, this enables me to concentrate on what I love doing most of all; dog training.

Over the past few months training dogs has taken on a new meaning for me. Meeting so many people over the years with all the different breeds of dogs has been really interesting. Every person of course is different, what I've noticed is; occasionally you meet someone who is, like myself, truly a doggie person, someone who has a special way with dogs.

I decided many months ago that, as I train in a different way to many trainers and as I have always had a one hundred per cent success rate, I really should be passing on my knowledge to like minded people.

So I decided to set up a new business, which has now launched, it is called Train the Trainer the Grayling Way.

The course takes place here in Cumbria and is spread over three full days. The course covers, not just the practical side of training, but all aspects of the dog world. The course also includes office management, P.R. and marketing. After the three days there is an assessment, as long as I am satisfied with the student they receive a certificate to say they have been trained by me and that they then can enjoy full back up and support in the future.

This course enables the new trainer to set up on their own with a feeling of confidence that they have the experience and support of me behind them.

Some students have traveled as far as Devon and Dorset, which is great for me. As when I do my check-up visit I can have a holiday as well in a beautiful part of the world!

I particularly enjoyed the last course as it was pouring with rain for the whole three days, so we spent half the time in the house where I taught the student by the open fire. Then at lunch time we had a good break, a lovely, non doggie, chat and a tasty casserole to eat. I felt that I had managed to achieve the best of both worlds!

Yes, I did feel guilty when the team came in for their lunch soaking wet and cold, but I avoided eye contact and fled into the office again with my very happy student!

Happy training everyone.

Contact Ingrid Grayling for further details about the courses.
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In September very early in the mornings, when the temperature is cool, it feels slightly chilly and there is heavy dew on the ground it is a reminder that once again the seasons are constantly changing and autumn is just around the corner. However, at this time of the year, when the sun does appear it still feels warm and when the sky is a lovely deep blue it lifts our spirits even though we know that winter is ahead of us.

At night the sunsets can be stunning and the sky sometimes looks as if its on fire; for me its my favourite of the year. I love the colours and textures of the trees, walking and crunching through the leaves under foot feels very good and makes me appreciate my lovely surroundings.

This is also a great time of the year for new puppies as it is a brand new world for them, besides the lovely smells they also have leaves to chase around when the wind blows and scatters them about.

Its another busy time of the year for me as this is when I meet owners with new puppies, who have been bred during the summer months and are now ready for there training. it is interesting to see where these puppies have come from and who has bred them.

Breeding puppies is not as simple as it sounds, there are many things that have to be considered and thought about carefully. Unfortunately there may be a few disappointments along the way as well.

There are many very good breeders throughout the country, who are registered with the Kennel Club. These people are not only kind but also careful and very responsible. Unfortunately, there are also people who are totally irresponsible and uncaring towards their dogs and only interested in making money. My own opinion is that unless people are properly registered with the Kennel Club they should not be allowed to breed dogs. This would stop many wanted dogs being bred who have health or behavioural problems and the animal shelters would not be so full.

Before you decide to breed from your bitch a visit to the vet is a must as her health should be checked out. Also, her age has to be considered, if she is to old or to young it is not wise to breed from her as she may have complications before or during the delivery. Each breed has certain tests that need to be done the common ones are: Hips, elbows and eyes as well as certain other blood tests. The breeder needs to be sure that faulty genes are not passed on to the next generation and that the puppies will be healthy. If all the tests results prove positive then you know that it is safe to go ahead and breed from your bitch.

If you have not already located a suitable male for her then this is the time to do so. Each breeder looks for different things, it all depends on the breed of dogs they have and also what the puppies will be doing in their life. If you have working dogs then you need certain characteristics from both parents to be right to produce puppies that are able to spend their life working in certain ways; some have to have an ability for speed, others soft mouths, others a strong guarding instinct or a strong herding instinct. If you are breeding a dog just to be a good family pet then the temperament and disputation is very important.

Show dogs are usually bred for there looks, for there quiet dispersion, for the fact that they like to be handled and groomed a lot and are good around other dogs. If you have a working breed then it is advisable to go and look at the sire working before you make the diction to use him. Get to know his temperament and character, when you are happy and have checked out all his breeding papers and the Kennel Club registration then you will know whether you want to go ahead or not.

Getting the time right can be nerve racking but vital, so far I have always been successful with my own dogs, I stay with them as its less stressful. Its very important that they are happy and willing, I do not believe in forcing a dog against its will. However, providing that all goes well, we always have a return visit to the sire to make sure that everything has gone well and hopefully the bitch is in pup. During the weeks that follow you need to feed your dog more food to build her up, she will be constantly feeding the puppies inside her. Towards the later stages gradually reduce the amount of exercise as she gets bigger and heaver. During this time your dog needs to have a check up at the vets and a scan. During the scan you will see the puppies for the first time which is always a very exciting moment.

About ten days before the puppies are due get out the whelping box and introduce the bitch to it so that she gets used to being in her new bed and she is happy to sleep there. As you have worked out your dates you will know when she is due she will go off her food first and then become uncomfortable and restless, then she will pant and her waters will break then she will start go into labour. Offer her little sips of water through out the labour.

Once the puppies are here instinct takes over and she will get on with job of cleaning them and feeding them. Only help her if necessary otherwise leave her alone to sort out her new family and get on with her new role of being mother. The first few weeks are a bit nerve racking for everyone with sleepless nights and the possibility of loosing a few puppies but nature is a wonderful thing and has a way of balancing everything out. It is an exciting moment when all is well, everyone is happy and the breeders registration certificate from the kennel club arrives with your name on it. A job well done.

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Livestock Worrying

Livestock Worrying

August is here lets hope that the weather is going to be better then the past few months have been.

The summer holiday period brings more visitors to rural places, especially to The Lake District and Cumbria, and consequently this usual means more dogs.

We are in livestock country here and wide open fell land which has bracken, streams and sheep, as well as cattle and horses roaming freely amongst there natural habitat.

Many dogs who come to this area for the first time have never met sheep or livestock before. For those who have, many have chased them in the past and so are kept on a lead by anxious and worried owners. Often if a dog has previously chased livestock owners will keep them on a lead for some of the walk but when they think it's safe will take a chance and let them off.

Given the chance all dogs, unless trained, will chase especially when a sheep on its own appears up in front of them and maybe startles them.

There have been several recent incidents in Cumbria where dogs have killed sheep – this is really terrible and should not happen. With training and education no dog should ever be a situation where this could happen.

Many people come to me when disaster has already struck or the dog is older and they are fed up walking it on a lead all the time. This is not a problem as I can always help them but my advice to all dog owners with any breed of dog is to seek professional advice and help whilst your dog is young so that the remainder of its life is happy and controlled whilst out walking.

Anti- livestock chasing is a large part of my work and all the young dogs that come to me automatically go onto this training aspect on the last stage of the training. I work with local farm and land owners and have sheep that are used especially for this job.

The only dog that had a surprise (and a surprise for me too) was Henry. Henry is a large very handsome Lurcher who is totally laid back as is his owner. He was taken into the field to meet the sheep where he stood and looked at them for a while. The sheep moved but Henry stood still, then they ran but Henry still remained still. Then the sheep started to run towards Henry. To our surprise Henry took one look and tore off in the opposite direction towards the field and gate and safety to sit by the car, desperate to get out!

I wish I'd had a video recorder for that one!

But most people don't have a Henry so if in doubt either keep your dog on a lead at all times when livestock is around, or do something about it, seek professional help and get the problem sorted or you could lose your dog.
Tel: 01931 715 282

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Active Holiday

July at last! Warm weather we hope and holidays! A chance to get away to re-charge, enjoy some dry dog walking, dry boots, clean cars and a good book to read whilst sitting in the garden with something nice in a glass!

We all look forward to a break, some people like to be active on their holiday and some don't want to be. However all the dog owners who have active dogs and whose dogs are used to being out and walking in all weathers bring their dogs to me for their holidays – they usually book the dogs in before they book their own!

Active holidays here means 4-5 hours off lead walking in a pack over the fells. However all our guest dogs have to be obedient and livestock proof, otherwise if they don't come up to the required standard after a trial run they can not come.

We have to be careful of course where we walk, and we have special permission from farmers who kindly let us walk over there land, likewise on the fells. One of my favourite walks is through a beautiful pine wood, down a little twisty path which leads to a kissing gate and out onto open fields which has a river running through it where they swim – it leads to a wooden farm gate then through farm land , it's a wonderful circuit and is perfect for warm summer days as the dogs can swim in the fresh water river.

We have our regular guest dogs who come all the time to stay so they know exactly what the routine is and in fact I think they could properly take me for a walk as they know exactly where they are going.

One guest dog who comes to stay with us is Toby Duff. Toby is now into his senior years and he arrives with his very smart navy blue and red ruck sack - this has a label attached to it with his name on, so sweet. He has all his bits and pieces in it and also biscuits to share with his friends - he never arrives without it! His owners carry his sack of food in for him as this is too big for the ruck sack.

Toby is going to have a new friend living with him now as his owners have bought one of my puppies, Bertie. I am looking forward to seeing whether Bertie Duff arrives with a little ruck sack of his own when he comes to stay in the future.

We go off every morning on our long walks, and we cover quite a distance the active holiday walks are chosen to suit the dogs that are staying here. It's no good doing 4 hours up a steep fell with a 14 year old dog that can only potter. Our days are long and busy starting at 6.30am and finishing at 10pm, seven days a week.

The fells, woodlands and swimming in the rivers are great exercise but more importantly they keep the guest dogs fit and mentally active so that at night after a full day they can relax and sleep (under heat lamps when cold and wet) and feel secure in the knowledge that tomorrow will be a different walk with different smells.

Pity that when the owners come back to pick them up sometimes they haven't enjoyed their holiday as much as there dog!

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Train the Trainer.

"Train the Trainer the Grayling Way" is the new opportunity which offers an intensive three-day training course for people who want to become professional dog trainers, and want to learn from an experience and professionally recognised trainer.
The courses will run throughout the year with an option of either one-to-one or a maximum of 2 individuals on each course at any one time. Ingrid offers a highly personal experience for the participants on all of her courses.
The course includes not only the practical techniques and approaches to training of any type of dog but it also covers the necessary people and business skills for a successful and professional career. It covers all aspects of training including working with rescue dogs, behavioural issues, gun dogs, anti-livestock training and puppy care to name a few. With optional modules on business management, PR and marketing where other professional experts will be working with Ingrid to deliver the course content.

Once the course finishes Ingrid’s involvement doesn’t end there - Ingrid offers a 6 month support period so that newly trained trainers have backup from her should they need further advice, have questions or simply want to chat through their new venture plans. Ingrid believes this is a vital ingredient in helping to produce confident and professional new dog trainers for the industry.
For more information please visit:
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June – The holiday Season

June – The holiday Season

June is one of the months when most people have planned and are eagerly awaiting to go on their long-awaited summer holiday; one that has usually been planned well in advance, or in some cases, it's a month of panic when they are trying to find last minute holiday that everyone is happy with and that isn't already booked up!

Not all of us go away of course in the summer months, some of us have commitments that we have to, and want to, for fill especially with dogs that we have at home. For me, a new litter of puppies that has just arrived will be keeping me here in the month of June. As they get ready to leave the nest I have to constantly look after them around the clock and get them ready for their new homes. In some cases older dogs don't want to be moved around on family holidays and would prefer to keep their familiar routine; they don't want their comfy and familiar bed moved to a different location. This is the same for rescue dogs that have just arrived as new comers to a family – these dogs especially all need time and commitment and love to make them feel happy and secure in their new home. The newcomers to the family need to get used to their new environment and the new way of life.

Rescue dogs, not always, but generally have a few behavioural problems; some small and some rather more serious. These are not always instantly recognizable at the beginning but only show up later on when the dog has settled down and has become used to its new family. Over the years I have met many owners who have been very lucky and have had rescue dogs who have not had any hang-ups, issues or bad habits, and who slot into their new life with ease and sail along nicely and everyone is very happy.

As a professional dog trainer I of course meet the ones who need help, not just with training, but with the behavioural issues. Not all of these dogs have been badly mistreated, some of them have just had a very unsettled past, perhaps several homes for various reasons and this has disturbed them and left a mark. Unfortunately, the mistreatment of our friend the dog is usually due to ignorance, a lack of knowledge and understanding of a dogs world - in some cases also lack of commitment and time.

All of the dogs that I have met and have helped through the many years of working with behavioural issues have needed different kinds of handling . It's wise to remember that when dealing with the problems, as with humans, dogs are all different and they react in different ways although some of the techniques may be the same.

Pack leadership needs to be established so that the dog can feel secure and be made to realise that he can relax a little as the leader is taking responsibility for him and the things that go on around him.

Boundaries, discipline, love and exercise all need to be put into place so that these dogs have a routine which enables them to understand exactly where they are and what is expected of them. Once we have created all of this then the real work begins, and, the commitment from the owners takes place.

Working with these dogs is a challenge that I really enjoy and it's very satisfying when after a few weeks the behaviour changes and the outcome is a happy positive one.

I think that it takes a very special person to take on a rescue dog and as I said earlier you are never quite sure until you starting working with them how deep the damage has effected them by their past.

The little souls that I meet arrive with very kind and very dedicated owners who are determined to give their dog the best care and help that they can so that it can have a happy fulfilling life.

Behavioural problems can be complicated or just very simple but by doing an assessment of both owner and dog and having gone into their past life style as far as we know it, and the present lifestyle of the dog, it then becomes very easy to sort out which type of corrections we need to do. Until I start working with the dogs I can't tell how long this will take as sometimes it is instant and sometimes it takes longer, depending on the issues we are working on.

The owners go away with training sheets and instructions, and have to do homework for as long as it takes. When dog and owners return later to me for the final lesson, I am always amazed to see how much work people have put in and the results are always so positive - both dog and owner are now linked in to each other and very happy - sometimes I can't believe that it's the same dog!

Thank goodness there are so many kind people out there with big hearts, lots of love and a willingness to make time to give these rescue dogs a chance to a lead a secure happy fulfilling life.

Well done to you all, keep going. I am very happy to help you.

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The Show Season

May is a busy time of the month as we are getting ready for the local and not so local shows.

Boxes that have been laying in the attics since last years show seasons now have to be dragged out and gone through carefully to see what we need to keep and what can be thrown away - why did we keep some of those things? The problem is which shows to go to, I would love to do them all but unfortunately time, or lack of it is also a problem. But now we have three which always seem to work for us.

Holker Flower festival was the first one that I ever attended many years ago and now we are regulars and have our usual spot next to the Sticky toffee Company - far too tempting! Penrith show is always a great success and we are lucky enough to have our marquee in a prime location.

Westmorland show despite the horrendous weather was very good, in between hanging on to the marquee poles and pegs and battling with the rain that dripped down on to everything including our necks we managed to stay smiling and at the end of the day a large Pimms was brought across to us by some very sympathetic person who had taken pity on the two drowned rats!

I love the show season. As all of my clients both past and present come to visit me on the stand and it’s a great time to catch-up with old friends and their owners .Usually the dogs hear and see me first with the owner catch up later with them.

Prayers are always said 2 to 3 weeks before hand as we need – dry ground, the sun to shine and conversation to flow.

Ingrid Grayling

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James Wellbeloved Competition

The James Wellbelloved puppy photo competition

You can enter your Puppy Photo .Here
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Older Dog

Older Dogs

April brings new challenges for me usually in the shape of older dogs who have had some training in the distant past, but who now need to be “brushed-up” or corrected for various reasons. This training may have worked at the time, but some how things have gone wrong, or owners have fallen by the wayside and not kept the training up for various reasons or quite simply the training was not quite what they had expected. Whatever the reasons may be I find that both dogs and owners come to me for help.

After a 10 minute assessment of the dog and the owners with the owner being the more important at this stage. I recommend the type of correction work and training that needs to be done including the length of time that it will take to achieve. The owner’s all need to be clear about what they want from their dog and their dog needs to understand what is required.

I love meeting these older dogs as they are so interesting almost all of them are real characters. As these dogs have been around for a while they have had time to work out the best way to get the better of their owners and also the best way to make life easier for them!

Dogs of all shapes and sizes arrive, some eyeing me suspiciously and steadfastly refusing to get out of the car! They have a built in radar that says “watch it life is going to change now – I won’t be able to get away with anything after a visit here!” Some leap out full of misplaced enthusiasm and jump up and try to knock me over with the attitude of “Whose the strongest thee or me?!” whilst others leap out of the car with the owners hanging on for dear life and then both dog and owner disappear down the road both at break neck speed!. I usually sit in my garden and wait patiently for them to return breathless.

These kind and sometimes exasperated owners’ usual comments are …. “He just gets excited when he meets new people”

The dog that I remember best though is the one who arrived from Birmingham. He was a little Jack Russell, four years old who was so full of himself. The owner, a lovely kind older gentleman, had for all these years put up with constant barking in the car when ever they went out together. They arrived 10 minutes after I heard them coming down the road. The owner got out and I introduced myself – he took no notice of me – I thought what a rude man; but he wasn’t at all …. When he realised that I was there and that I had spoken he removed his hat and earmuffs and pulled out his ear plugs!! This was the only way he had found that he could stand travelling with his barking little dog and keep some of his sanity!

We spent a very nice half hour together driving around the countryside in his car enjoying the views and doing the training. When we arrived back to my house my two new friends were very quiet. The little Jack Russell was sitting on the back shelf of the car sulking, and his owner because of tears of happiness in his eyes couldn’t speak as he was so happy that at long last his life had changed so quickly and he could finally enjoy his little friend in the car together without ear plugs or muffs!!

So all you older dogs out there who think that you have got away with it – you haven’t if you come to me!

Ingrid Grayling
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Ingrid Grayling - CLA Magazine

Ingrid Grayling
Professional dog trainer & active holidays for dogs

First Published in the CLA Magazine February 2012
Good dogs made better by Ingrid Grayling

With the lambing season just around the corner and the spring weather set to burst out from the cold dark winter, many country lovers and avid walkers will be planning and looking forward to a season of country walks, and for some, a chance to get out in drier weather (we hope!) with their faithful four legged friends for lengthy walks in the beautiful countryside.

It is however the thought of spring and the fields full of sheep and lambs that can bring a feeling of dread and apprehension to many dog owners with the fear of uncertainty of how their dogs will behave on these anticipated walks.

For Cumbrian based professional dog trainer and dog behaviourist, Ingrid Grayling, lambing season is a busy time bringing a steady stream of enquiries by dog owners who fear for the safety of their pets when the fields become full of sheep and lambs. Ingrid says “Although pet dogs have been domesticated for a long time they have not lost their basic instincts including a strong predatory drive to chase. All dogs have a natural hunting instinct and although some dogs may not show this day to day it can become apparent given the right, or should we say wrong, set of circumstances. When it does it can be terrifying and worrying not only for the dog owner but also the farmer and the livestock”.

Dogs are just demonstrating their natural instincts and the urge to chase can take hold of even the most docile of breeds. Ingrid often meets dog owners who say that their dogs have never chased or worried livestock before so they cannot understand why this has suddenly happened. Her reply is very direct, and always the same, it is nature! It doesn’t mean that their dog is an aggressive animal, which is often a concern; it just means that they are responding to their natural instincts. Ingrid believes it is vitally important to be able to train the owner to train the dog so that they can calmly and confidently handle any situation and prevent unfortunate incidents before they occur.

Chasing and worrying livestock is not acceptable in our society, and quite rightly so, it can be life threatening for both the chased and the chaser. Under The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, a dog that worries, attacks or chases livestock could mean that the owners are faced with a hefty fine, compensation and possibly a destruction order. Not only that, a farmer has a legal right to act if they see an uncontrolled dog pursuing an animal on their land. With the increasing financial pressures being put on farming enterprises, they can't be blamed for trying to prevent their sheep being injured or killed. Increasingly, this means having a zero tolerance approach to dogs running wild, even if the owners are present and frantically trying to recall their pets. This is a situation that no-one wants to be caught up in, and one which can be totally avoided with the right knowledge and skills.

It is therefore essential that our dogs are taught how to behave around livestock and that their owners have full control of them at all times. Whilst it is acknowledged that dogs should be kept on leads when livestock are present, there is always the possibility of a stray animal suddenly appearing especially, if like many dog owners and Ingrid in particular, who says she likes to walk way up onto the fells in the more remote areas where unexpected animals often appear.

Ingrid goes on to say “it is important to recognise that most dogs accused of sheep worrying are not killers but simply like to chase. To many owners it can feel like a major problem but there are simple ways of teaching a dog to control his predatory drive around livestock. There are also ways of reinforcing control of a dog when it’s in the chase”. Many owners are surprised when Ingrid goes on to explain that there are different stages of livestock worrying. She says that it is not just a case of one method works for all, each dog has its own issues and Ingrid uses her professional knowledge and experience to help identify this, then she will propose the best and most effective way of equipping the owners with the skills to train their dogs not only short term but enabling them to continue with a lifetime of control.

Over the years Ingrid has encountered many dogs that are classed as “livestock chasers or worriers” the two most common are what she calls ‘chasers’ and ‘born killers’. Chasers react to animals only when those animals move. There will be times when they will quite happily walk past livestock and providing nothing moves they will continue on their walk without incident. This type of dog is very common and owners often mistake their behaviour as “playful”. Once they have caught the sheep they may only try to nip at the heels and legs stock but generally they don’t cause major injuries. It’s the chase they actually enjoy most and often if they catch the animal they then lose interest. These owners and dogs can be easily trained to rectify this issue with skills that will last a lifetime.

Dogs she classes as ‘born killers’ are more of challenge as the killer instinct is a strong one and she believes cannot be always trained out of them, only controlled. But with the right skills both these dogs and owners can have many years of problem free walking. They require a higher level of training and management with a huge commitment from the owners at the early stages, but as Ingrid goes on to say she have found over the years that once she have trained the owners with the right skills to control their dogs calmly and confidently both they and their dogs progress.

Like many of you, Ingrid takes great pleasure in walking across fields and fells with her faithful Labradors off their leads and the sight of both wildlife and farm animals grazing peacefully in the fields and woods is all part of the experience. But to do this Ingrid insists and strongly believes in having the dogs under “controlled freedom” – it may sound contradictory but it basically means that the dogs run freely (where allowed of course) but always under full control. It is a common occurrence to see many dogs arrive at her boarding kennels for training that have never been off the lead as the owners are fearful of allowing accidents with livestock to happen. Once Ingrid has worked through the training, the owners not only have a better understanding of their dog but they go away with the knowledge that they can allow their dog freedom when out walking at all times, and for a dog owner there is no better feeling and peace of mind.

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Spring is coming

February 2012 Blog – Ingrid Grayling

My garden is now looking a little brighter even though winter is still here, the snow drops, daffodils and tulips are appearing and it does make you feel that spring, and the warmer weather, is just around the corner (although up here on the fells we have to wait a little longer for both of these things to happen!).

As I train all my young dogs outside these conditions make it a little harder for us, even though I do have a sheltered spot to train it still takes dedication to soldier on through wind and rain.

I firmly believe, and have proved over the many years of training, that working outside with your young dog or puppy is in the long term the best possible thing that you can do.

Having distractions at an early age and being in a natural environment teaches these young puppies that whatever is going on around them they still have to listen , learn and work with their pack leader and trainer. Whether dogs live outside or in a house, it's natural for them to be out and about in the world whether they are going for a walk, playing or just pottering in the garden. Training outside right from the beginning becomes normal for them thus making them more confident and steady with the world becoming a relaxed place to be in.

Ideally the age to start training is 4½ months as the puppies have been socialized within the home, toilet trained, have settled with the family and into the environment that they live in. By the time it reaches this stage puppies usually start to assert themselves. They start to become a bit of a handfull at this age, and this is when you know that they need something more to keep their interest by using their brain, hence training time beckons.

Getting your young dog to be linked in with you, and to respect you is all part of the time that you spend training together. Training on a one to one with just you and your dog outside for 4½ hours a day, 7 days a week, over a period of 6 weeks will ensure that this happens.

At the end of this time you will have a calm well mannered dog that heels on the lead, heels off the lead, sits and stays, responds to the away command and has freedom when you tell it, and comes back on the recall whistle every time with or with out distractions. These distractions include livestock, people, cars, and any other moving vehicles.

All of this is achieved through hard work and respect built up between you and you dog. It is not achieved through bribery with treats and tit bits.

Training outside on your own is easy, without the constraints of being confined to the inside of a building with other people, dogs, and noises which are highly distracting you. Outside you will be able to achieve a well trained dog ( not a robot) in a short space of time, a four legged friend who is obedient, listens to you, loves you, and is very happy to be free under control having fun and a fulfilling life together.

Training the owner to train their dog is the way I successfully train. Tel: 00 44 1931 715282
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An additional to the family

January 2012 blog – Ingrid Grayling

I love the month of January, for me it brings a feeling of optimism and a sense of excitement about the unknowns that lie ahead for the year. There is one aspect of January that I don't look forward to and that is the weather! Now I don't want to be a stereotypical Brit and always talk about it, but it plays such an important role in my daily life that one can't help referring to it! And, I don't think I'm alone when I say that the thought of working outside in the bleak, cold, damp and dark January days is rather an uninspiring thought.

I am always optimistic that January and the New Year will offer freezing weather conditions that bring a mixture of fresh soft snow and brilliant bright sunshine with crystal blue skies, making it crisp and frosty underfoot and beautiful to walk in. I know these conditions are not appealing to everyone, but for me I love walking through the un-trodden snowfall with my two black Labradors who like nothing better than to chase each other and roll around playing in the fresh snowflakes.

My youngest Labrador was bred by me nearly five years ago now from my other Labrador, Emma. She was the smallest of the litter and so I named her Twinkle as she shone out like a little star among litter. And what a litter it was, Twinkle's mother Emma had the puppies when she was 3 years old and had 10 pups in total - quite a shock for her and also a lot of hard work for both her and me!

Breeding from your own dog is exciting and fun but I can't deny also very hard work. There is an enormous amount of responsibility, nurturing and time that needs to be put in to make sure that your dog and the puppies are looked after correctly. One of the most important aspects is making sure that the feeding of both mother and puppies is done correctly. The correct food with the right nutritional value is of extreme importance as the puppies need to be well nourished both before and after their birth. Anyone thinking of breeding can obtain professional advice on which type of food they need to be feeding their dog and puppies with from various pet food suppliers including Blendbetter who specialise in nutritional advice including supplements, specialised food and medicines, and who also offer excellent help and advice during the whelping period. I personally have had excellent advice and support from them over the years, and not just with my puppies, but also with my older dogs and other guest dogs that have had special nutritional & dietary requirements.

Meal times are certainly a full time job during the weaning period; extracting over excited puppies from sitting in the food dishes, stopping them from tipping over their bowls, and scrambling around as they try to eat each other's food is guaranteed to keep you fit and slim. The mother too should have extra food and vitamin supplements as it's important for her to build up her strength and energy to get her back into a good condition.

The time I treasure most is when I am sitting quietly in the kennel watching my dog with her family; it's fascinating when you see how the relationship and natural instincts of the mother takes over even if they are a fist timer to motherhood. Pack leadership in particular takes over so naturally.

Pack leadership is so important and this takes place a short time after the puppies have been born with the mother taking over her role as pack leader. As she cleans her babies and as they get to recognise her smell, they also get to recognise that she is the pack leader and the head of the family, within a short space of time each puppy knows it place with in the family unit. As well as feeding them, keeping them clean, and bonding with them, discipline also comes into play and this is especially important as they need to learn boundaries for later on when they leave the pack and go into the human pack.

As all dogs live in a pack at the beginning of their lives pack leadership is a very natural instinct for them and the positive boundaries that have been put in place in the early stages are important as they make them feel secure. Potential issues around pack leadership arise when they leave their natural pack and go into the human pack and meet their new owners. It is important for new dog owners to recognise that as well as love; their dog needs a pack leader to teach them boundaries, good manners, obedience training and discipline, as well as socialising. When all of these are put into place, both owner and dog can have a happy and stress-free life where the dog knows exactly what is required and both can have a good relationship.

I train the owner to train their dog, so right from the beginning it is very clear to the dog who the pack leader is. Within my training methods, I use very simple but effective commands; these include using a whistle, hand signals and a training line. These techniques combined with a commitment from owner to dog, ensures that at the end of the training time both dog and owner understand each other, have respect and the dog has a happy and secure life.

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A Dog is for life, not just for Christmas

December 2011 blog – Ingrid Grayling

As I get older Christmas seems to come around quicker each year and before I know it it's time to deck the halls with festiveness and start thinking about what extra special walks I can take my guests dogs on over the Christmas period. It's one of my favourite times of the year and one that offers time for reflection and thought.

One reflection I always have is triggered when I receive Christmas cards from clients who I have helped during the year to select a new dog or puppy. It is so rewarding to know that my advice and experience has been worthwhile and that many of my clients are now enjoying a life with a new family member and one that suits them and their lifestyle. Having said that this also makes my thoughts turn to a certain worry, and one which always seems to appear year after year, and that is puppies and dogs as Christmas gifts!

I always worry about puppies at this time of the year as it seems to be a popular time for purchasing the little bundles of fluff and giving them to eager children and family members as the 'perfect Christmas gift'. The period post-Christmas and into the first few months of the New Year always brings with it for me frantic phone calls and desperate emails from distraught parents who have upset children or who are tearing their hair out as they have suddenly discovered that their cute doe-eyed bundle has suddenly turned into a furniture chewing, carpet wetting, lead pulling nightmare and they don't know what to do.

It's so tempting to be swayed into buying a puppy or dog from an advert seen in a local newspaper depicting a cute little face, or agreeing to take a puppy off a friend of a friend who's bitch has just had 'the most adorable pups'; likewise a fun family day out to the local rescue centre can always pull at the heart strings of the most well-meaning of us and makes us think we're doing the dog a favour by taking it home.

I am in no way saying that the above methods of buying a dog are wrong, far from it, rescue centres play an incredibly important role in re-housing and rehabilitating our furry friends, and are certainly a good place to start looking for a family pet. No, my concern is the actual selection people make and the choice of puppy or dog they go for. As 'want to be' dog owners and caring human beings our emotions sometimes do get the better of us, which is when we make selection mistakes.

If you lived in an inner city location on the top floor of a tower block with no outdoor space to exercise a dog in would you really buy one? Or if you did what breed would you go for, a German Shepherd perhaps? (cute and small at 8 weeks but a little larger at fully grown age). Or if you work all day and long hours, what dog would you go for? An energetic Spaniel or excitable terrier?

Like all young livestock, puppies need to be looked after properly and with great care. They have to be toilet trained and fed with the correct food to ensure that they are receiving the right amount of nutritional value to enable them to grow and develop properly. They also need to be introduced to life within the human pack, be taught basic obedience training, which includes how to avoid chasing livestock, and generally taught how to behave in the world so that owners and dog can have freedom and fun with in certain boundaries for the rest of their lives.


Having a small child begging you to buy them a puppy which they want to let sleep on their bed at night to cuddle might seem like a nice idea at the time for them, but when the dog starts to grow up and the legs and body keep growing and growing, and the food and vet bills continue to grow too, life with a dog in it can take on another meaning.  

Before you consider becoming a dog owner there are three main things to consider - the first is responsibility, the second is commitment and the third is time. If you have all three of these things then your chosen dog will be a very happy one.

Here are a few pointers to avoid the heartache of a wrong decision:
  • Look at the environment of where you live. Is it suitable for a dog?

  • Where are you going to exercise and walk with it? Is there somewhere near your house to do this or will you have to get into a car and drive somewhere?

  • How much space do you have in your house? Where is it going to have its bed and live?

  • Can you afford the vet bills and food bills?

  • If you go away who is going to look after it?

  • Who in the household is going to care for it on a daily basis and be responsible for the training?

  • If you have children are they going to move from childhood to teenage then loose interest leaving you left with it?

  • Use these questions as guidelines and talk about them with your partner or family and if everyone is sure then go ahead, get a new family member. Having a dog in one's life, is I think, one of the most rewarding things in life and as the saying goes, a dog is a man's best friend!

    Ingrid Grayling offers puppy buying advice and help in selecting the right dog for you and your life. She also offers puppy care and training advice and lessons and is available on email at :

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    Welcome to the Blendbetter Blog.

    We will be using the Blog to keep you updated on all the interesting things that happen at Blendbetter.

    Ingrid Grayling – Sponsored by Blendbetter Pet Foods- Will be providing a monthly Blog with information on all aspects of dog training and care.

    Details of in store demo days and the dates for shows that we sponsor will also be added to the Blog so check back regularly for the latest updates.

    - Steven
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