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  1. I got into grooming after my own boy Fyn, wouldn't even go through the door of the groomers. He would shake, refused and blatantly wouldn't even attempt to go there, so i wanted to know more about why. Obviously something had happened there, but i didn't ask, just didn't go back. 

    But, being me, i delved more into the why's and wondered what really was upsetting Fyn at the point of going to the groomers and started to learn more about triggers and varying other behaviours that he was showing in relation to the grooming salon. 

    So i signed up to do an intense grooming course. But even there, some of the handling of dogs terrified me. If this was happening and acceptable behaviour in a grooming school, then no wonder my own dog was terrified. So, even after qualiying i knew there was a better way. The way i work with dogs is different to most anyway, always has been as i think about the overall picture, not just getting the job done. Alot of my clients when i first started out were just so happy that they had someone who had the time to build a relationship with their dog, that they didn't care that the dog hadn't been able to do his legs today, or couldn't tolerate the dryer. They were just over the moon that a positive relationship was being built and the dog was always happy to see me. 

    But even now, 3 years into my journey as a groomer, i'm learning all the time. I've done a level 5 ISCP behaviour course and have a much better understanding of canine signals and how to read their body language than most groomers. I've furthered my knowledge by becoming a dog trainer, and a positive one at that. The cross over between the roles is amazing and has helped me to better myself as a groomer by having a better understanding of what the dog is trying to communicate!

    I'm now on my journey on the Holisitic Dog Grooming Academy Diploma and i have to say, my mind is blown. Even things such as holistic therapies (which i do use some of but had very tiny understanding of), or even how my own self care affects how the dog groom goes, it really makes me wonder how you can qualify as a groomer in 4 weeks. There's so much more that we should be taught or should know and it's only since researching and studying that i've been able to add much much more to my grooms, and the dogs positive enjoyment of the grooming process. 

    By joining up to the HGA i also made a pledge, which can be found here 

    1. The groomer pledges to invest in their ongoing education in positive, science-backed methods of behaviour, training and grooming techniques.

    2. The groomer pledges to only use positive, non-dominant based methods when caring for your pet.

    3. The groomer pledges to be totally transparent with their approach to caring for your pet and will offer you a bespoke care plan to suit the individual needs of your pet.

    4. The groomer pledges to work with your pet using consent and choice to encourage cooperation and trust.

    5. The groomer pledges to never use restraints with aversive tools that will cause your pet unnecessary emotional and/or physical suffering.

    6. The groomer pledges to be honest with you at all times and offer you advice based on their knowledge and skill-set. They will refer you to the appropriate professional in cases where they feel they can’t help.

    7. The groomer pledges to adhere to the code of ethics of the HGA so long as their membership continues, and understands that failure to do so will result in the immediate termination of their membership with the Holistic Grooming Academy.

    These are all incredibly important points in the grooming process, and im very proud that i work holistically with my clients. It might not be perfect show stopping grooms, but your dog is happy and that is what matters to me. 

  2. I will only ever use positive reinforcement methods when I train dogs and their owners (and yes, we do train you as well!). For a number of reasons.

    It's more fun for both the owner and dog and helps to reinforce and cement in what the dog has learnt. The more they learn, the more fun they have, the more reinforced the behaviours become. And the more we develop our methods as trainers and owners, the more our dog will understand what we are asking because there's an incredible reward at the end of it. 

    There's no force involved. Ever. Any trainer using forceful methods or outdated equipment, will potentially cause damage to your dog. Imagine being told you can have a glass of wine, but it involved you having to run through barbed wire first. I tell you now, i wouldn't even attempt it. Turn that into a dog situation, if they're forced or it causes pain, they will only repeat that behaviour to avoid the pain happening again. Which is negative reinforcement, and very outdated. 

    The science proves it works! There are so many tv show dogs, so many books to read as owners; make sure you only use positive methods and you'll probably never watch a tv dog trainer again. By working with the dog in front of you and building a bond between you using positive methods, you'll see a dramatic change in both the dog and how you train your dog. And how your relationship grows too. 

    As trainers we bang on about making training fun, making sure you mark and reward the behaviours that you want, and your timing in the hand signals, the equipment you use, how you are communicating with the dog (even though you might not think you are),the verbal cues, the delivery of the treat. And that's because we want to set you up to suceed as an owner and help you to realise how much you can change your dogs life. And for you to set your dog up to suceed. We can't as owners expect our dogs to understand how a spin works or how a wait works if we aren't reinforcing that the dog is doing things correctly.

    As Steve Mann (IMDT owner and trainer) says, Be the Change. Change your ways, change how you work with your dog (not work your dog) and you'll start to see how much the science proves that positive reinforcement works. Put the time in now, short training sessions, fun sessions, don't ever train when you're tired and stressed because that will have a negative effect on the dog too. Think situations, don't exect 30 seconds sits when you're in a busy place and that behaviour hasn't been fully bomb proofed. There is no shame in taking training back a step and using your 4 D's to your full advantage. 

    You'll watch your pup flourish and grow, and you'll be suprised at how you as an owner and guardian develops your training skills too.

    The more you train, the more concious you are of your behaviour as well, which can only benefit the dog in front of you. 

    If it's not working, change it up, do something different, do some enrichment, or simply just take a day off! There is no shame in not working with your dog because you're exhausted or not in the mood, If anything, that will have a more negative effect. 

    Again, setting yourself and your dog up to suceed. By using positive reinforcement methods. Because it works. Trust me! And, be the change. Help your dog to understand what you're asking of them.