Behind the scenes at Mersea Mutts, Dog Boarding and Training, Colchester Week 1


Well, we’re all quite excited here about our new diary adventure. As I write, Millie is snuggled beside me – we’ve had the usual tussle of her trying to rest her head on my laptop as I work. I’m sure she would put paws to keyboard if she could!

As she rests, Flo has taken up her usual stance, lying on her tum on the floor, head between her outstretched paws – and yes, a red sock by her nose.

They’ve been busy this week – we all have. In training today, a customer and I were discussing the use of hand signals. She felt that they didn’t work.


I always use hand signals. Us humans speak a strange language as far as our canine friends are concerned. So, I believe words alone are not enough; in fact, training in this way may even be detrimental to their learning.

I have seen many people train their dog using just words, believing that if you physically place your dog in the position you want them to be in – such as the sit or down position – and use the word often enough, the association will follow.

This method will work but at what cost? By placing your hand towards their lower back and physically making them sit, unnecessary pressure is put on their spine, back and legs and neck.

The techniques I use need no words, at least not to start. Training by way of hand signals means that anything your dog does, they are doing voluntarily, at their own pace and comfortably. By using your hands, you can lure your dog to the position you want them to learn. At that point, I say the word so that they start to associate the position or behaviour with that sound.

The results are outstanding. Your dog is happy because they are learning and rewarded for learning. You are happy as your dog’s understanding, behaviour and wellbeing is developing. As a trainer, it makes me happy to see those wagging tails. It is a wonderful feeling to have that affinity with mans’ such loyal and loving companions.

So, training was fun this week. With various breeds of all shapes and sizes. It was calm when necessary and lively and noisy when it was reward time and the treats came out.

I am smiling as I write because Millie and Flo worked and played hard this week, helping all those canine friends to learn to socialise.

No wonder they are so doggone tired! I know they’ll sleep well tonight.


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07834 227 333 or 07454 972 026

30 Yorick Rd, West Mersea, Colchester CO5 8HT, UK

Fiona Fowler is licensed by Colchester Borough Council to home board dogs under licence number 88008 due for renewal 31st December 2021

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Institute of Modern Dog Trainers
Pet Industry Federation