One of the largest dog training companies in the south is upgrading its day-care centre.
Sussex County Dog Trainers (SCDT) is based in Aldingbourne and takes around 500 dogs through its doors every week.
SCDT is currently undergoing development to provide the highest possible day-time facilities for our furry friends.
Senior agility instructor Josie Spurling said the centre’s ultimate aim is to treat every canine visitor like a family pet.
Josie said: “We are passionate about creating better relationships between owners and their dogs and making a difference to their lives. This is what we aim to do for as long as we train.”
By this September, SCDT will have been in operation for nine years, and its partner petsitting company is fast approching its 14th anniversary.
Today, the organisation trains in a purpose-built centre with a non-slip under-floor-heated rubber floor, an outdoor paddock with grass and a section of all-weather surfaces.
Recent additions include two fully-enclosed dog fields that are 1.5 and 3 acres respectively, which customers can rent to exercise aggressive dogs or help animals with recall difficulties.
“Over the last few years, we have added a new indoor sand school at another venue, so we can train agility all year round.”
All this requires a dedicated team, according to Josie: “From having only started with two people, we are now a strong group of 27 staff members.”
She said SCDT offers a range of disciplines: “Agility is a key success for us, with our trainers dogs regularly doing well in competitions around the country. In 2015, one of the owners of the business, Jeff Sasse, competed at Olympia with his rescue border collie Mally and this year myself and Jeff will be running at UK Agility’s grand finals with my spaniel Eva and his border collies Mally and Blink.”
The centre also operates a competitive flyball team and has run foundation courses for Lowland Search Dogs Sussex.
Meanwhile, senior behavourist Miranda Batterbee works on a daily basis with dogs showing dog or people aggression.
Josie said attitude, success and positive training are vital to SCDT’s success: “This has reflected really well on our students, with one of mine competing in the ABC Olympia qualifiers this year at the Kennel Club International Agility Festival, after having competed at Crufts this year.”
Animal behaviourist Miranda Batterbee co-owns ever-expanding Sussex County Dog Trainers (SCDT), but also works with Mount Noddy RSPCA centre to assess potential rescue dogs.
Miranda specialises in introducing new, positive techniques to help dogs deal with the environment and owners manage their daily behaviour.
She said better relationships create happier people and happier dogs, with fewer behavioural issues and greater compliance.
“Dogs want to please their owners and behave better. Empathy and understanding goes both ways: everyone who has a dog wants to be on the same wavelength.”
She said people should consider taking their dogs to agility classes - ‘a wonderfully enjoyable, active past-time’ which requires team work and builds the owner-pet relationship.
“Agility teaches great off-lead control, which can help on walks and keeps owners and dogs alike fit and healthy, not just physically but mentally, too.”
She said behavioural problems are almost always stressful for everyone.
“It is the responsibility of any owner to make sure that their dog is happy, healthy and safe. This means dogs who exhibit antisocial behaviour need specialist help to improve. By helping owners with these, everyone’s lives are improved.”
SCDT uses behaviour modification training to tackle such challenges: “This includes operant and classical conditioning. It sounds pretty scientific, but it’s very easy to apply!
“Dogs learn in the same way that many creatures with a similar cognitive ability do. We can teach lions and tigers using these methods in zoos to help with husbandry and we can teach dogs to walk away from things they dislike or offer another behaviour instead.”
Among other areas, the centre tackles agression, separation anxiety, pulling on the lead and jumping up, and boasts an ‘extremely high’ success rate.
“Although not every issue can be completely cured, almost all owners will see huge improvements that can change the way in which they live with their dog for the better. We have some superb walking groups for dogs who at one time didn’t like other dogs or people - these are a highlight of our trainers’ week.”
Find out more at www.sussexcountydogtraining.com.
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