We have been taking our three-year-old Lab to Rob's for the past two years, and the difference in her is incredible, and that’s all thanks to him.
We also have gained so much more knowledge and useful day-to-day tips since going there.
Rob is always thinking of new and interesting ways to make the training fun for both dog and handler whilst still reinforcing the basics of obedience.
Rob's passion for dogs and training comes out in every session, and along the way there is usually a poignant anecdote.
There is enough room for the dogs to have their own space, either inside, in the sandpit, or outside in the paddock.
When we decided to get a new pup, there wasn’t a doubt in our minds of where to go, as it was on the proviso that we got into Rob's puppy class. As expected, we have not been disappointed.
If you can get in at Topdog, do so now, as we know you will not regret it.
Matt, Jo, Abigail and Fraser
We have been going to Rob and Topdog Training for almost three years. We love it so much, we go three times a week! Upton enjoys every minute of it and I have a lovely, well-behaved, sociable dog. Every week Rob thinks of different challenges for us and every week the dogs rise to the occasion. We have lots of laughs along the way. I would highly recommend Topdog to anyone looking for relaxed and fun training.
Judith & Upton
I have trained with Rob for more years than I care to mention. Five dogs, one no longer with us, have passed through the Topdog system (and some continue to do so) and I am delighted with them. I have worked them from puppies right through to advanced classes and Rob still thinks up new things to do. Any problems have been sorted out rapidly.
I can't speak highly enough of the club and Rob - the best in the area - and I have thoroughly enjoyed my association over the years.
I have had three dogs go through the Topdog training experience and what a long way we have come. I was a complete novice handler when I first went along ten years ago and I have learnt so much. I am very proud of my dogs and what we have achieved together and Topdog have been a big part of my ‘dog’ life; and instrumental in starting me off and guiding me on my way.
Sometimes people ask me why I still take my senior dog (rising 9 years old) to obedience classes as he is such a well behaved dog! And yes they are right, he is brilliant. I tell them it’s because he absolutely loves it and we have so much fun. It’s difficult to explain exactly what we do and the games we play; it would be best to come along on a Wednesday morning and watch the advanced dogs having fun. It’s pretty awesome to see what they can do.
It’s thanks to Rob at Topdog that I am now hooked on agility. I spend many weekends competing at agility shows with my two dogs, who have done really well. I had no idea what amazing things you can do with your dogs until Topdog opened my eyes.
I really enjoy training every week at Topdog and so do my dogs, and we have been lucky to make some really good friends too along the way.
I was amazed when I worked out that I have been going to Topdog Training for both obedience and agility classes for 12 years now!
In that time I’ve had five dogs, all different characters, who, thanks to Rob’s help, have gone from puppy class to adult class, to become happy, well adjusted and obedient dogs.
They all have loved going to class which Rob makes fun for both owner and dog, whilst at the same time teaching me handling skills and teaching my dog focus and social skills.
Rob is always there with invaluable help with any problems that arise and thanks to his help I can happily let all my dogs off the lead amongst people and strange dogs and know that they are under control and will bother no one.
Thank you Rob for helping to make my dogs a pleasure to own.
"I will be forever grateful to Rob for showing me how much can be enjoyed and achieved with my dogs" - Kate
When I am standing shaking in the queue at an agility competition, I say to Rob that I only came to Topdog for a ten week puppy course. That was eight years ago.
I now have two more dogs and all three participate in weekly obedience and agility classes at Topdog. No two weeks are the same, Rob comes up with new games and challenges each week and the dogs just love it.
I had never even considered trying agility before - my dogs are not breeds which are typically associated with agility - but thanks to Rob not giving up on us, and a hefty kick up the backside from Kerry to enter our first show, we are now competing regularly and absolutely loving it (despite the shaking).
I now have three confident dogs that I can take anywhere, and the bond I have with all of them has changed my life. I will be forever grateful to Rob for showing me how much can be enjoyed and achieved with my dogs.
Kate, Bacchus, Ronnie, and Remy
Before puppies are fully vaccinated, there is risk attached to taking them to public places and putting them on the floor – you are potentially exposing them to a number of diseases that can be caught from unvaccinated dogs or their faeces…
However, the vaccination period from start to finish is around 3 to 4 weeks and as this is such a vital and formative time for a puppy, we shouldn't be wasting it by wrapping the puppy in cotton wool and staying indoors until it's 'safe' to go out!
Of course, it is important to keep your puppy safe during this time but there are loads of things you can be doing.
So here is a guide to “how” to introduce your puppy to the big wide world and a list of suggestions for you.
How to introduce your puppy to the outside world
It is very important that you do not over-face your puppy with new sights, sounds and experiences.
At this stage in your puppy's life, it is possible that if your puppy gets a big scare from a new situation, it will remain frightened forever so bear in mind the following:
Here's an example:
Often, the first time a puppy sees traffic is when it goes for its first walk on the lead. A number of factors can mean this goes well or badly!
So, what’s the best way to introduce puppy to traffic…?
During the vaccination period, carry your puppy to a quiet road, with plenty of pavement space and preferably on a dry day – take some tasty treats with you.
Let the puppy watch the traffic from a safe, calm distance giving him a little treat now and then and talking to him so that he can experience traffic at an acceptable level.
As he sees more and more, you can take him closer to the road and then to a busier road, all the time increasing the exposure but at a level where he does not get frightened – keep up the tasty treats and soon he won’t care about the noise of the traffic and this in turn will make your first walk much more enjoyable for you, and more importantly, for your puppy!
Our suggestions to help socialise your puppy
So, applying these same principles and keeping your puppy in your arms, here is a list of suggestions!
Ideal places for puppy socialisation
Lots of people will come up to see your puppy and say hello – remember the principles of not over-facing the puppy and making the experience positive!
Other considerations for socialising your puppy
There may be things specific to the type of dog you have.
If you have a dog that will need regular visits to a dog groomer, then this must be factored in to your socialisation plan!
Also getting a pup used to wearing a muzzle may pay off when they become adults!
The way to think about puppy socialisation is to consider what you will expect your dog to cope with as an adult and start putting the building blocks in place for this now! It will make your and your puppy’s life much easier in the long run.
If your pup isn't having a good time and enjoying itself there is a very good chance the experience won't be a positive one. Generally dogs don't just 'get over' things by themselves, so if your pup becomes anxious or worried about a situation, it is probably best to leave and consult a professional for help to find the best way forward.
REMEMBER: Exposure alone isn't socialisation!
*** THIS COURSE IS NOW FULL ***
There are spaces available on our ten week evening puppy obedience course, starting Tuesday 13 March 2018.
This puppy course incorporates the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme Puppy Foundation Award.
Completing the 10 week puppy course will take you nicely onto the Intermediate levels.
13 March 2018
6:15pm - 7:15pm
Sparlings Farm, Braintree Road, Felsted, Essex, CM6 3LB
Spaces are limited to ten puppies on our courses to ensure that everyone gets the assistance and attention that they require.
Please contact us to reserve a space.
*** THIS COURSE IS NOW FULL ***
When we are approached for help with behaviour problems, the first one-to-one session is very much focused on a “fact-finding” mission - a basic assessment of what is going on and why.
We have to look at the whole picture: the breed of dog, its gender, age and general nature.
Also does the client have any other pets at home?
All these aspects are important.
The session also examines the general home life of the dog, ie what is happening "within the pack"?
Dogs are pack animals. In the wild, both wolf and dog packs require law and order.
If a pack were leaderless and allowed to run amok, going wherever they wanted, doing whatever they wanted, making loads of noise and stirring up trouble, the pack would not last very long! There would be constant fights and injuries (very detrimental to the pack – prevents effective hunting of prey and prevents the protectors of the group from fighting off intruders), plus prey would know exactly where the pack was and make itself very scarce which would result in starvation for the group. No good at all!
The most successful packs are those with clear rules, boundaries and constraints; every animal knows its job and what it can and cannot do.
This presents the dog with a strong sense of security and in turn, results in a calmer and happier dog who knows exactly what is expected of it.
As we know, dogs live very well within our families because to them this equates to pack mentality.
To help dogs live with us and us to live with them, we too need to clearly outline and instigate rules, boundaries and constraints and show consistency.
Without rules, our dog often begins to display unwanted behaviours such as play-biting, jumping up uninvited, stealing and behaving like a real 'wild child'!
Mistakenly, we try to fix the actual problem but the underlying causes remain and the behaviour never really disappears.
Hence why, when people come for a one-to-one session with a behaviour problem, we look at all of these areas and will often put some "house rules" in place before beginning to tackle the presenting issue.
This can be confusing to us humans – we don't always see the connection between the dog sleeping on the furniture or on the bed and the dog being aggressive with other dogs or humans; the reality is that without consistent rules at home, the dog is unclear about its responsibilities and what is expected of it within the "pack" and often behaves inappropriately.
For example, with some instances of what is thought to be "dog-to-dog aggression", the behaviour is actually the dog just trying to keep other strange dogs away from his pack members rather than out-and-out aggressive behaviour.
This of course doesn't fit with our requirements – we don't want our dogs assuming this job but by putting some sensible rules in place at home, this helps the dog to know who calls the shots in the "pack" and then we can make a start in retraining the behaviour to the client's satisfaction.
The best course of action is to sit down, as a family and agree the rules between you – write these rules down and put them somewhere visible to all (on the fridge is a good place).
The whole household must then unite and stick by the rules in order to be fair to the dog – he or she needs to have consistency from everyone in order to learn what is expected of him or her.
Here is a list of suggested rules, which should remain in place until the dog is at least 2 years old:
Without rules and boundaries, not only are you likely to see behaviour problems begin to creep in, your success in generally training your dog to do as you ask will be limited and you will not experience the true joy of a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog of which you can be justifiably proud.
The biggest mistake people often make is to treat animals like humans. We give them what we think they should have, not what they actually need. Sadly for dogs, this means we often respond and act inappropriately around them.
For example, puppies due to their cuteness, are often given huge levels of status and attention and older dogs much less so. This is the wrong way round.
A puppy that is loved, trained and shown the rules from day one stands a very good chance of growing into a happy and balanced adult.
A puppy that is spoilt and made a fool of and given no direction is more likely to fall at the first hurdle.
At best this may result in things such as the dog having to stay on lead because it has no recall or has become aggressive or, at worst, due to its behavioural issues, it joins the swelling ranks of those in rescue centres facing a very uncertain future.
News & Views
All the latest news from Topdog Training, as well as useful dog training articles and anything else that takes our fancy!