How I became a dog trainer!
I have been a dog trainer for over 40 years after working with my first and second dogs at a local dog club. I soon became involved with helping out and then fast tracked to taking my own classes and eventually taking over the Little Woodcote dog training club near Banstead in Surrey. I ran this for several years and in 1990 became incredibly involved in promoting the Responsible Dog Ownership campaign. We fundraised for the ITV Telethon raising well over £10,000, and as the London group, organised well publicised down stays on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral, Waterloo station etc. We worked with the national press and were invited to present the cheque to Michael Aspel with our dogs on ITV. It was great success and with the support of a tremendous team, we had great fun. It was this that taught me how to work with the journalists and get our message out. Naturally, all this attracted the attention of the local press and as I had already worked with them to promote using my young dog, Jette, to help children to learn all about caring for a dog, I had the opportunity to shall we say exploit my connections.
I worked with many of the well-known dog Behaviourists and continued to expand my dog training club to include many classes but when I moved, I restructured concentrating on certain types of problems. I concentrated on the pet food distribution side of the pet care business which I could do whilst fitting around school hours and bring up my daughter. Once settled in my new home, I quickly set up a board and train business along side a dog training club and dog walking business. We became the go to place for local pet care. As one of the first dog walking businesses, we had several people working with us and could offer our clients the total package. We soon realised that there was a need for dog training classes outdoors as well as indoors and soon had sessions on most days of the week. We worked with the Vets and pet shops and spread the word, building a business to support dog and cat owners in our local area.
Walkabout started as a dog walking business but with the help of clients, quickly grew into a group where people could come for help in all aspects of caring for their dog. From the walk, homecare, training and feeding – we could help with all of it. We hired several venues and became busy, working most days of the week. Running dog events and working with over 12,000 dogs. We were one of the first companies to use our own pack of dogs – at one time we had 9 German Shepherds, to offer natural socialisation at outdoor venues. We worked with local groups to raise awareness and were happy to invite publicity for our causes. Whether it was a local dog rescue or a community centre, we were happy to organise events and attract people to come and talk to us. We even worked with the Army Benevolent fund and ran their Dog village at their big three-day event, the Aldershot Show which fund raised for the soldiers. Another year we worked with the Search and Rescue Dogs and then Hearing Dogs and Guide Dogs. Another year we visited local beauty spots and garden centres, to speak to dog owners and explain about the Responsible Dog Ownership Campaign and the need to “Pick up and clean up” after their dogs. As a pet food distributor, I worked with many of the top dog food companies during the ‘90’s and attended all the big exhibitions and Crufts and the big cat shows such as the Supreme Cat Show. It taught me to speak to people and listen and build relationships.
Naturally, this attracted many people who started off by working with us, but then wanted to do their own thing. So this encouraged me to set up the Walkabout Academy, where I teach people to become dog trainers, set up a business and become successful. This started in 2004 and there are now many people either working in their own businesses or helping dog charities and using their knowledge gained by working with us. If you would like to join us, we will be opening our Academy up to new students from the 12th April. You get plenty of chance to learn theory but you also work with us to learn the practical. Find out more at my specific website which explains the course and how you can join us. https://www.walkabout.academy/