Claire is a CAPBT Behaviourist and Trainer (Companion Animal Pet behaviour Therapists). She can help you if you have a behaviour problem with your pet that you wish to resolve. That problem could be a training issue such as pulling on a lead or a behaviour issue such as separation, fear or aggression.

Off lead but under control.

Claire will work with you to resolve the issue while understanding the limitations in your lifestyle and the needs of the whole family.

As a CAPBT member, Claire is governed by their code of practise and as such will not recommend any technique that will harm the relationship between you and your pet. All consultations must be preceded by a veterinary consultation to ensure that there is not a medical cause that impacts on behaviour.

“Watch me!”

For more information on our philisophy of training and behaviour have a look below. If you want to book a 1-2-1 behavioural consultation with Claire then please click here.

Storm walks to heel for rewards.

Why do we only use force-free training methods?

Training using force free methods strengthens the bond between dogs and their owners. We use rewards, food, toys or affection as a reinforcer to make it more likely that a desired behaviour will be repeated – after all – do we work without wages?

Of course sometimes things don’t go as we wish and instead of using a punishment we ignore an inappropriate behaviour, ideally we would prevent that inappropriate behaviour from ever happening but we are not perfect. We might train dogs with a no-reward marker – like “Uh-Oh” which we can then use to indicate that the behaviour they are offering isn’t what we are after.

Mercury gives a paw for cheese!

The pack myth.

Wolves in the wild live in small nuclear family groups, a breeding pair and their offspring who are still dependent on them. This is what a wolf pack is, there is no dominance heirachy. Unfortunately many of the early work on wolf packs was done on unrelated individuals living together in captivity in artifically enclosed environments. This is a very stressful situation for an animal that only associates with unfamiliar animals during migration away from the nuclear family group (to set up a new breeding pair) or during terratorial conflicts between neighbouring families. As a result there will be conflicts in captivity and these were missinterpreted as dominance behaviours. Our dogs evolved from wolves through a range of intermediate stages. Feral dogs do not live in packs, they associate with one or two preferred companions and they live largely independent lives but they will compete with each other over resources, should they be scarce. Our dogs do not recognise us as pseudo-dogs though they do like to live alongside us, we provide the resorces they need but they don’t think we are members of their “pack” and some of the techniques that some training systems suggest we use will at best completely pass them by (eating before they do, standing in their beds) but could also damage the enjoyment of living together. In reality our dogs think of us far more as a pseudo parent – we are the providers of all things they need and we can live together as an incredible family team.

Tracer and Sigma are friends, neither one is “dominant” to the other.

Mercury and Darwin are happy to sleep in each other’s personal space. Neipher prefers her own space. There is no “dominance” here, just individuality.

Tracer isn’t dominant, he’s comfy!

The dominance myth.

Well – if dogs don’t live in packs and even wolves don’t show dominance the way some people think they do then I guess we can reject any thoughts that we have to be dominant too! We already control all the resources our dogs receive. We feed them, we give them access to the outside, to our homes. Let go of the dominance myth and enjoy your dog as part of your family.

Tuggy is a great game to play!

Are dogs really like wolves?

Well – no! Wolves aren’t like the wolves in some training myths!

Dogs evolved through many intermediaries from wolves. Village dogs were a significant stage – these were dogs that chose to associate with people and live around their settlements but are in no way fully domesticated. Andy, Claire’s husband, works in Iraq and he has been lucky enough to associate with a group of village dogs living on and around a rubbish dump.

An Iraqi village dog with a toy Andy made for her out of an old towel!

Tracer says “Let’s Play!”

What is my dog trying to tell me?

Our dogs do what works for them. If barking non-stop causes people who make them nervous to pass by their home (or it seems to) then barking is what they will do. If people generally take their favourite things away from them then growling to defend their things might work to stop this happening. If scary noises frighten them and having a wee or a poo gives a temporary relief then this works for them, however temporarily. If someone approaching their food bowl means that something tasty is dropped in their bowl then an approach will be associated with pleasure. Our dogs can experience basic emotions of pleasure, excitement, fear and rage. Its up to us to help them to live in a positive emotional state where they can learn and live without unnecessary stress.

Darwin is “playing” as he canicrosses – he’s showing he’s alert with his ear position but his mouth is soft so he isn’t “hunting”.