‘Make yourself interesting’ - Sunderland dog trainer reveals top tips for problem-free pets at home
It was Dominic Hodgson’s love for his own dogs which led him to build a career around making pets, and their owners, happy.
The dad-of-two (two children and two hounds) launched his business, Pack Leader Dog Adventures, in 2011 with the aim of revolutionising those routine walks into something more for both the animal and the human.
He’s on a mission to help dogs lead more active and enjoyable lives - and help their owners get to know them better.
Dominic, from Ryhope, told the Echo that he was exercising his own dogs but did not have very good control of them - but learning what made them tick and playing with them helped the pooches transform.
He continued: “The aim is to teach the dog that ‘we are going to have a good time’ and it’s easy for owners to replicate.”
Dominic contacted the Echo after an online poll, which revealed that our readers were split on whether or not pets should be always kept on leads in public places.
“Ideally, you want to be able to let a dog off-lead because it’s easier to let off their energy that way,” Dominic said.
“But you need control. Make yourself interesting and play games with your dog.”
Nobody wants to be bothered by another person’s dog when they are out on a walk, he added, and the onus is always on the owner to keep their pet under control.
In his latest book, Worry Free Walks, Dominic, 41, shares some of his secrets for taking the stress out of a dog walk and getting the best from your pet.
The key, he said, is teaching the dog that the fun happens wherever their human is, and educating the owner so they can develop a better relationship with their pet.
Dominic has two dogs of his own; Sidney, an eight-year-old Cocker Spaniel and Derek, a two-year-old Dogue de Bordeaux.
He is married to Beth, 44, and has two sons - Alex, 22, who is the Adventure Manager at Pack Leader, and Toby, 14.
“You get these dogs that were born to do certain things, and you give them nothing to do,” Dominic said.
“They become unemployed, so to speak, and develop bad behaviours.”
Dominic’s top tips for starting to train your dog are:
•Play with your dog consistently from puppy age
*Start using a longer lead to have more control if you do not feel comfortable letting them off-lead
•Get the dog to focus on you by using a treat, whether it’s a piece of food or a toy. Show them what you have got to get their attention.
•Learn what your dog likes to play and replicate the same sort of game on walks
•Reward your dog for good behaviour
Dominic added: “If you are worried for your own safety, or the safety of your sogs or anyone else, see a trainer.”