When I was a little girl I always wanted a dog. I used to wish for one every night when i went to bed. I asked for one for my birthday and Christmas.
When I was about 10 years old my wish came true and we got a golden retriever puppy called Jenny. I was the eldest of 4 children and my mum had just had my baby brother James.
My parents got advice on what kind of dog to get and we went to a dog shelter before the guy there convinced my parents that we would be better off getting a puppy as neither of them had any dog experience. He also said that a big family needed a big dog. This was 25 years ago and I'm sure the advice would be different now!
When Jenny got to about 6 months old she was too strong for me to walk on my own and my mum didn't have the time or knowledge to train her.
One day Jenny growled at a guest in our house because he was taking food away from her. It really worried my mum as she had a baby and young children. We took Jenny to puppy classes and the trainer told my mum about a retriever who had bitten a child in the face.
Soon after Jenny was rehomed through the Golden Retriever rescue. As you can imagine that was pretty hard for a 10 year old to deal with. Mum was really upset about it too and we talked about all our mistakes with Jenny for many years to come.
When I was 19 years old we got Milo a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and he was the most lovely boy to ever walk the earth. My mum and I both trained him and he was a very well rounded dog.
Although he had zero behaviour issues he did have lots of medical problems and needed a lot of care and medication because of him having seizures.
We didn't know what we were doing when we got him and we thought that having a Kennel Club registered puppy would mean that he was healthy! He was diagnosed with Syringomyelia aged 18 months. This is probably one of many reasons that my contemporary view is very much Adopt Don't Shop!
After I left home my mum did a great job of looking after him into his old age. He was finally PTS in 2016.
When I met my now husband back in 2011 we decided to get a dog together and because i knew the breed we went for another Cavalier, Archie.
He was 6 months old and not well socialized. He is an old man now and lost his hearing a few years ago. We transferred his cues from vocal to visual, trained a default check in behaviour so that i can recall him off leash in spite of him not being able to hear.
Soon after we got Ziggy another cavalier who was a multiple rehome case. Ziggy has really struggled over the years and has been very much a velcro dog. I thought i would never be able to let him off leash at one stage but since learning Force Free Training techniques this has been possible. He is now walked off leash every morning and can even be trusted to stay close around birds which used to be his biggest trigger! He is in a good place at the moment mentally but like Archie he is getting on in years and has bad days with his mobility .
A few years later we got Murphy another multiple rehome case. Once he settled in he was a real love bug but was petrified of grooming. We have done ALOT of work on this. I now groom him myself at home and he is generally a very happy and calm dog.
In 2015 we moved to a bigger place because we had a lot of other animals, including horses and needed our own land for them.
My horse Flynn, an ex racer, had a lot of problems due to his past and I went about looking for a way to train him that did not involve force.
I eventually found Max Easey and Horse Charming.
Under Max’s mentorship I undertook a program of study known as "The Horse Charming Pathway" which is a combination of learning theory and practical application, of Force Free techniques.
I really threw myself into it learning everything i could about animal behaviour and the science.
I read books on ethology and training, I took online courses through ILLIS and also more recently Max’s "How Animals Learn Course" I watched hours of other trainers (good and bad) and really got to know how to read emotions in both horses and dogs.
Consent Training had become a particular interest area for me as I had seen first hand how giving Flynn the power to say yes no or wait a moment to any given stimulus had transformed our once fraught relationship and given us a way to communicate without the need for fear or pain. I also started using consent training with my dog Murphy to help him overcome his acute grooming phobia.
In early 2018 I was fortunate enough to begin using what i had learned under Max’s guidance, on a professional basis, with both horse and dog clients, globally via video coaching. You can find the link to my Horse Charming bio here:
Things started small and slow but I was really good at creating theory material for beginners and that became a niche area for me. I wanted to make the science of animal training accessible for all.
In October 2018 I was invited by Linda Michaels MA to moderate the massive Do No Harm Dog Training Facebook Group. This was an amazing springboard for me to reach more clients and expand my dog training business. Here is a link to a video i made back then when i was formally announced as the new moderator at Do No Harm.
In 2019 i started working predominantly with clients in the Middle East and their ex street dogs known as Baladi and Wadi dogs.
The last 12 months or so has been incredible and the Hound Charming family has grown at an astonishing rate. This has happened largely through word of mouth and lots of happy clients recommending me to their friends.
I’ve recently invited Cressida Staddon and Rana El-Naqqash to assist me in helping dogs and their owners embrace and implement Force Free Training Methods.
Hound Charming has made links with some great people in rescue and feeding projects, Trap Neuter Release schemes and donates a portion of every coaching module sold to our chosen charities.
We also pride ourselves on pushing the boundaries where animal welfare is concerned, we will not shy away from uncomfortable messages. We will continue to produce educational material and memes that further our mission of giving all dogs a happy ever after, one dog at a time.