Keep on learning.


I regularly listen to my friend Hannah Brannigan’s podcast, Drinking From the Toilet. Hannah is an amazing trainer and presenter and is a faculty member with the Karen Pryor Academy. Her podcast is fun, geeky and full of truly amazing insights into the world of dog training.

A couple of weeks ago, Hannah hosted Dr Susan Friedman as a guest .(

I have been fortunate to hear Susan present on numerous occassions (eight I think at the last count, with another couple of times planned in 2018), and I was extremely fortunate to host her this year in Glasgow for a two day seminar. Each time I have heard Dr Friedman present, I have always learned new information. It may have been the same information for the second or third time, but each time I hear her, I am at a different place on my own journey.

I  finally got round to listening to Hannah and Susan’s podcast this week. Blown away. Now, you would think that if you hear the same speaker time and again, that this would get repetitive. Not with this presenter. With good lecturers and researchers, they too are continuing their own journey of learning, so they more they learn themselves, the more able they are to pass on their learning to us. I know I have said this before, but it is worth repeating, if your doctor, dentist, lawyer or mechanic had done no further learning since they first qualified, would you trust them with your health, contract or car? We must hold those who care for our dogs to the same standard. I  imagine you’d expect it of your vet so why not your trainer?

Not every trainer is able to attend seminars a couple of times a year or more, however there are plenty of online webinars and streaming services ( is excellent), which means we can all remain as current as we possibly can with our knowledge. I regularly see and read content from other trainers which shows that their learning is not current and this means their canine and human clients don’t get the best information available.

The Glasgow Dog Trainer Team do our absolute best to keep up to date. We would encourage other trainers in the field to do the same. If you are a dog guardian looking for a trainer, demand that they do.

Happy training.


A Very Bonnie Christmas – Part 4


It’s almost here….

Like Bonnie’s, many of your households will see a marked change of environment – increased levels of activity, change in routine, furniture moved around and decorations in place, new visitors, smells, objects… not to mention the likely and very the detectable rise in your own cortisol levels…

Even temporary and positive changes can impact us negatively if we’re not prepared for them. I’ve put this piece together offering some advice on how to keep your dog safe and happy and help you all get the most from the festive period…feel free to take some of the more personally salient points on board at moments you feel stressed too!

Safety and practicality first.

There’s a LOT of things humans like to have around at Christmas that are problematic for dogs. Poinsettia, lilies, holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, tree needles and ivy are all toxic at different levels. Keep them out of reach of your pooches. Candles, fireplaces that may
not be often used, fairy lights, electronic equipment etc – I’ve known dogs to chew through entire sets of lights, whilst they had been plugged in. Batteries and other small parts can cause a choking hazard, blockage or serious intestinal damage.

Most of us know the lists of toxic foodstuff by heart, but keep visitors (especially little ones who love to feed dogs) in the loop; Christmas pudding, raisins, chocolate and cooked/roasted bones must be avoided.

Keep a note of your Vet’s opening times, phone number and details of their out of hours practice handy. Ensure any medication your dog might need is not going to run out over the holidays too.

Environmentally – exercise is obviously still important. It’s worth mentioning in the next few weeks, as you walk together, keep up the sniffies, fresh air walks and decent cardio – that the salt on the pavements can be a issue for your dogs paws – wash them off when you get home, especially if they are likely to lick/groom themselves. As the temperature drops many people use antifreeze and unfortunately this can leak onto the pavements and roads – it contains an attractant for cats and dogs, and is lethal. Try not to let them drink from puddles on your walks if you think there’s a risk of contamination.

Visitors, and especially kids. Of course, you know your dog. Keep them safe and supervised – this time can be strange for them and trigger stacking can quickly occur – small, incremental stressors that seem like nothing mount almost imperceptibly, and many sad, avoidable accidents occur around this year “without warning”. If you’re
concerned – please get in touch with us, we can help.

To more subtle stuff, how will you help your dog relax and enjoy your home this month?

Like most of us your dog will appreciate the choice to enjoy some time out.  A crate, quiet room, or corner where he can sleep, settle and relax will help. Lavender on his/her collar, adaptil spray or plug in, a blanket or bed that is familiar and keeping up with their normal training routine as far as possible will all help. If you haven’t started to teach a “settle”, it’s never too late. Acknowledge and reinforce their calm behaviour and good decisions. Massage, affection and TTouch will help, as will reinforcing your established natural bond together.

Christmas is normally an inherently enriching time for a lot of people – and there’s lots you can do to give your pup the same level of joy. A stuffed kong, snuffle mat, puzzle game, new toy, or appropriate fresh bone/chew will go a long way to providing your dog with activity, stimulation and importantly for you – keep him or her out of mischief. The link below has some lovely and simple enrichment ideas you could try.

If you have any questions about the advice in this article, have your own advice to add, or know someone who could benefit from it, please tag them, forward the article, engage, or get in touch.

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, truly.

All of us at The Glasgow Dog Training Team.

A Very Bonnie Christmas – Part 3

Bonnie3As we briefly touched upon earlier, Bonnie’s adolescence has seen her regress very slightly, which is perfectly normal. As part of her ongoing training, we are helping her remember how to settle in challenging circumstances.

Like many young animals, Bonnie finds it difficult to settle when there are bouts of increased activity in the house, for example when dinner is being prepared, eaten or when guests are present; all things that generally increase in duration and intensity over the coming weeks.

What you see here is Julie and Margaret marking and reinforcing better behaviour from Bonnie in the kitchen. SMART 50 has been at work all week, this is a slightly more formal training session for the family, working on the same mark and reinforce protocol, but deliberately in the environment where Bonnie traditionally needs more help.

As with SMART 50, we will work on verbal markers in session too, moving away from the clicker which has been implemented here for precision, because it’s useful in teaching Margaret and Julie what to look for and it keeps their mechanics clean. Clean mechanics is where we concentrate very carefully on our part of the conversation. Observe, mark (click) as the behaviour happens, move for the reinforcer (in this case the treat), and then deliver it in a way which is easy for the dog to receive. At 0.17s in the video, you see Julie pick up a treat before the click. This is ok at this stage as she is just getting a treat ready in her hand for the next click. However, this may add a little confusion to Bonnie as very often dogs see us reaching for the treat as the marker rather than listening for the click. This can easily be remedied by having several treat pots dotted around the kitchen so we can easily reach for the nearest one and deliver the reinforcer. Julie and Margaret are learning this stuff as they go too!

Bonnie is already managing longer periods of settled, quiet behaviour, as you can see.

Remember as you watch, that this little girl previously exhibited very excited behaviour including demand barking, jumping up, tugging and humping.

Our goals next week will change as their skill levels and experience develop – we’ll ask Bonnie to offer more settled behaviour, for longer, shaping it as we go.

This is wonderful progress from all of them, and they’re right – I am very proud of them all.

There’s so much you can do thoughtfully which pays off in all kinds of ways. We don’t only get “the dog we want” we get so much more.

Happy training guys!

Please contact us via if you think your dog could beneft from training. We offer Skype and phone consultations if you are outwith our geographical area.


Logan Part 23 – What is Progress?

The above is a little video of Logan I shared a few weeks ago. Although this blog is part of his training journey, the points apply equally to many other dogs and many other activities without dogs.

20 years ago, I began to do weight lifting with a couple of guys I worked with. One of the guys, Tony, had been lifting for years. Myself and Stevie had just started. Stevie, being a man in his 20s, used to get frustrated that he wasn’t able to lift the same as Tony. T explained to him that of course, he wouldn’t be able to, he’d only just started but to focus on what gains he made over the couse of 6 months with the lifts he was doing.

  1. 1.
    forward or onward movement towards a destination.
    “the darkness did not stop my progress”
  2. 2.
    development towards an improved or more advanced condition.
    “we are making progress towards equal rights”
  1. 1.
    move forward or onward in space or time.
    “as the century progressed the quality of telescopes improved”
  2. 2.
    develop towards an improved or more advanced condition.
    “work on the pond is progressing”


    When I  am working with Logan outside these are the questions I ask
    1. Can he take food from my hand?

    2. Can he do that in the presence of dogs?

    3. Can he search for food on the ground?

    4. Can he do that in the presence of dogs?

    5. Are his ears relaxed, face soft, tail relaxed, body moving easily?

    6. What are the quality of the movements in point 5? Do they look easy?

    7. How much of is is he doing?

    8. If we do make a msitake and he does bark or pull towards dogs, how quickly can he go back to doing points 1-7?


    If I have these criteria in mind, this give me something to progress towards rather than move away from. I can measure these by videoing the sessions, or I can do my best to remember how much we are achieving (data recording without relying on your memory is generally better).

    You may or may not have noticed that none of the descriptors above focus on “not” behaviours. I am not asking how much he is not barking, how much he is not pulling. Although we can quantify the amount he is not doing these behaviours, it puts our focus in the wrong place. We will tend to see the problem behaviours and use methods which stop or reduce them, rather than focusing on what we do want and building sound training plans to get more of those behaviours.

    Several people have commented on the above video stating that there is not much progress. We need to have something to measure it against and something to aim for, and these have to be observable rather than some arbitrary notion that we will have achieved XYZ by some date which is plucked out of the air. Yes, we all want to progress and there are times where I may have to ask him to do a little more than he is ready due to circumstances but his progress is dictated by his readiness for it, not by what I want.

    Happy training, thanks for reading.


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Skills for humans, skills for dogs


Over the last 5 weeks the team have been running a course for owners whose dogs show aggressive behaviours in some circumstances. We have held 4 classroom sessions, with practical aspects without the dogs in attendance, and examined video footage to break down everything which is going on.

We have worked to the following model

1. What is the goal for my dog’s behaviour?
2. What is the plan to get there?
3. What is the goal for our own behaviour – what do we need to do?
4. Make a plan for your own behaviour
5. Train yourself to do these behaviours
6. Train your dog

(Bertilsson and Johnson-Vegh)



1. Understand scenarios – always be ready for the aggression
2. Recognise the precursors – these may be hidden through prior punishment history
3. Use redirection and/or apply appropriate training strategy when you recognise the precursors
4. Stop/avoid it before it starts
5. Keep records

(Turner and Tompkins 1999)


Today was our first practical session with half the class and their dogs. -5C/23F in Glasgow this morning (not that cold) and we observed loads of really cool behaviour from the dogs and excellent skills from the humans which they have worked hard on developing over the last few weeks. Well done all those concerned.

We will be running this course several times next year. If you are interested in attending please subscribe to the events on The Glasgow Dog Trainer and Behaviour Consultant Facebook Page to keep updated.

A Very Bonnie Christmas – part 2



In the run up to Christmas we’re all busy; it might feel necessary to put training on the back burner, even though its important to you. This week Bonnie and her family have been working on a very special protocol and have already managed no less than 700 training repetitions/learning points between them in informal, daily sessions.

Seriously. Sound impossible?

SMART-50 is a clear, readily implemented technique devised by Kathy Sdao, an inimitable woman who wrote one of my favourite books “Plenty in Life is Free – Reflections on Dogs and Finding Grace” (read it if you can, it’s beautiful). The book affords many an insight, but I’ll give you a head start on what we’re working specifically on here.

See Mark And Reward Training (SMART) achieves several things in its purity. Put simply, Kathy asks you to train your eye to notice, acknowledge the good your dog is already doing, and reinforce it. How amazing. You can do this anywhere, too.

This week Bonnie’s mums;
*counted 50 healthy, high value treats out each, and each day
*looked for opportunities to reward Bonnie for good behaviour, either requested or already offered
*marked the behaviour using a clicker they had already spent a session learning how to use (you can use a verbal marker too)
*reinforced Bonnie for a variety of behaviour throughout the days/week

This yields powerful, and almost immediate benefits.

Firstly it’s just fun. Julie and Margaret have made a competition out of it, seeing who can reinforce the most behaviours, the winner has dinner bought for them at the end of the week. Bonnie is having a whale of a time and is learning fast what works for her and what doesn’t. (three guesses to the kind of choices Bonnie makes more of these days…) It’s transferable in the environment, respectful, ethical, builds trust and confidence in our dogs and the most wonderful side effect of all? It will change the way you view your animal; you will start to see that your dog is really well behaved a lot of the time.

We’re wired to look for fault, to see the negative, to notice the bad. By consistently looking for the best in your dog, marking it, and rewarding it, not only will you see an increase in those behaviours you do want, but you’ll FEEL differently about him or her. It blows my mind watching it happen and it makes my heart sing; it’s glorious.

Next we’ll talk through the wealth of information available in a short video where Bonnie’s mums implement SMART 50 and discuss where we’ll go from there.

Try it this week…it doesn’t need to be 50 a day if that daunts you, even half of that is enough to make a difference. Most of us have better behaved dogs than we give them or ourselves credit for.

Happy training.

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A Very Bonnie Christmas – part 1


Gillian has been working with Bonnie the Cockerpoo during puppyhood and into adolescence. Over the next few blogs she will share more learning points from that time

A very Bonnie Christmas

Bonnie (pictured) is a glorious young cockerpoo about to enjoy her
first Christmas with her family. This time of year can be particularly
challenging for most dogs, nevermind a teenager! Her thoughtful,
wonderful guardians have taken her education and training seriously
from puppyhood and kindly gave permission for me to share some detail
of their recent work and Bonnie’s development; hopefully the next few
installments will help you gain insight and plan ahead as the Festive
season fast approaches.

Typical in adolescence, this confident little lady has temporarily
forgotten some of her earlier training, and resorted to demand
barking, humping and a lot of over excited behaviour including jumping
and balancing on her hind legs, especially in the kitchen at busier
times when she naturally wants to be included in any activity.

Over the course of the next few blogs you can examine our protocols
and progress, along with video and some instruction/learning points to
discuss. There’s lots we can help you with and much you can do in
preparation to make sure not a creature is stirring in your house this

If you need help with preparing you dog for the party season, please contact us via