Now 49 years young, I have enjoyed careers working in farming, sales, as a Policeman and as a crisis counsellor for a well-known organisation.
I have always enjoyed working closely with people and have an affinity with dogs, and my role as a dog behaviourist brings the two together perfectly. I have been working in my own full time practice resolving dog behaviour problems for approaching 15 years, and training dogs for over 20 years. With over two thousand dog behaviour cases under my belt covering just about all aspects of dog behaviour you might consider, I am still every bit as passionate today about creating an understanding bond between dog and owner as I was when I first started out in my dog behaviour career, if not more so.
I undertake ongoing behaviour courses to maintain my knowledge base, and am proud to hold a Masters Degree in dog behaviour (not a general animal science degree) with Middlesex University, London. My partner, Sara and I have an eighteen-year-old daughter Katie, and our dogs Max (Wire Haired Vizsla) and Pip (Border Terrier). We have lived in Bewdley, Worcestershire for over twenty years.
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Alpha Dog Behaviour Ltd provides me with the opportunity to bring my enjoyment of working with both people and dogs together, and to provide others with a service whereby dogs and their families or individuals can lead happier lives together. This then leads to a greater understanding of each other's needs based on mutual respect, and calm leadership. I don't give myself a lofty title such as dog whisperer or dog listener, I'm a regular chap that has a close affinity with dogs and people, and am driven to bring both together in harmony. My beginnings in the dog world were with Amber back in the early 90's my Hungarian Wire-Haired Vizsla. At nine months we won our first competition together for a working test, after quietly training and reading all I could from dusty books in the library. From that point onwards I was totally hooked, and laid some quiet plans to work with dogs full time in the field of dog training and resolving dog behaviour problems.
Amber passed away in September '08 after a short illness and will be forever missed. I was privileged to have Amber as my first dog, and offer my on-going thanks to Donna Holman for placing us together as she gave so much to many around her. Amber was my learning partner. She taught me a great deal, and helped me with many an aggressive / nervous dog.
Little Pip my Border terrier is now ten years of age, and is stable enough to help other nervous dogs regain composure. She is (like Amber) a past master at showing calming signals. Pip is a high-energy dog (typical Border terrier), that will for example stop and turn on a dime to come back when called. Everything she does has an air of acrobatic finesse that leaves me constantly impressed! She is in fact impossible to wear out, though her tongue does hang out when she sleeps nowadays, so she may finally be relenting?
October 2009 saw the arrival of a new Wire-Haired Vizsla, Max! My simple intention with Max is to create a well-balanced pet dog that can accompany me in my work with other people and their dogs. Check out my video blogs on YouTube to see his development and previous videos. Max is now seven years of age and is a super boy. Max has an amazing hunting nose on him and I have put that to good use to hunt out truffles! At 12 months he was awarded 'Dog of the year' by Marion Dean at her truffle hunting school in Somerset.
My work typically involves firstly a telephone conversation to establish the dog's history, current problems and home set up. This is an important opportunity for you to ask me whatever you like to ensure you'll be happy working with me to resolve your dog behaviour concerns. Feel free to ask for recent testimonials and view recent Google reviews.
In most cases, I see you twice and each visit can last between 3-4 hours each. I assess the dog's behaviour and the relationship with your dog. This is followed by agreeing an easy to follow plan to address your concerns, complete with demonstrations and coaching of the relevant behavioural techniques and training. Free email and telephone support is ongoing and essential to a best outcome. I follow up the home visit with a report on my findings and the agreed plan. This report is key to help you implement the simple behavioural techniques that need to become routine for you to achieve a positive, lasting outcome. Over time this report has developed into a 'Positive Leadership Plan'.
Over the years of my working in this field, I have found that a number of small things can be done on a regular basis to gain a calm dog and to show that you are leading and in control, and all the dog has to do is simply follow. I have come to call this a 'Positive Leadership Plan' (or PLP). This serves most dogs very well. It can bolster the nervous dog, and regain control of the pushy ones. Invariably people have additional concerns that we shall need to address, but the vast majority still follow the PLP along side with great results! You will receive your own free copy of the PLP. Each and every customer will receive a unique plan and advice to resolve their dog's behaviour problems.
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I have a sincere desire to help people truly enjoy the experience of owning a dog. My work to me is far from a 9-5, get home and switch off. I am passionate about my role, and my love of working with owners and their dogs to see what can often be miraculous changes taking place under our very noses. Dogs can change behaviours (that have in some cases been perpetuated for many years) in minutes for the better.
This proves the point I have long held that the change will need to start with the owner, and then over time we can see it flow along to the dog. I will fully support you through those changes!
My approach is sympathetic and *non-aggressive, with an emphasis on positive leadership, and reward based dog training techniques. *I do not use check chains, prong collars, electric collars or anything that would distress you or your dog. I do not perform alpha rolls on the dog (placing the dog on its back for submission) or anything of that nature. My company name creates a little excitement for some people as they think I'm going to do all or some of the above. The Alpha as in Alpha Dog Behaviour is intended to place you first in your relationship with your canine friend. Being second in that relationship can be one of the main reasons why people seek my help. It is important that we don't just look at the behaviour problems you are concerned with, but a number of underlying factors that may be contributing to the overall situation. For example, I will want to address areas such as diet, and other factors that may be adding unwanted stress to your dog. My methods will allow you to make the improvements you desire free from shouting or feeling exasperated with your dog and as a result all parties remain calm and collected. This often restores harmony to a home that may be at breaking point due to the dog's behaviour. Yes, things really can get better, and yes I really can help!
Vale Veterinary group recommend Alpha Dog Behaviour Ltd, as do many others, and I am a full member of the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association UK. This simply means to you that I have had to work hard to fulfil a number of strict criteria to be able to gain their support, thus further ensuring a professional practice, and best outcome for you and your dog.
Current thinking and approaches to canine behaviour problems and dog training are always on the move, and any trainer that thinks he or she knows it all is sadly mistaken. I have I feel a 'duty' to ensure that I come to you as well informed as I can be, and am able to think about the behaviour problems you are experiencing in as many different ways as possible. Every dog and its behaviour is different (even within a set breed), the owners and home set ups also vary of course, so this leads to an infinite variety of situations that I might encounter.
Each year I take on new courses to further my own level of understanding and ability, and this year is no exception. I have undertaken three new courses all connected to the CIDBT. Two are aggression related - both are advanced courses one with aggression to dogs, the other aggression to people. The other is an advanced behaviour course using genuine video footage which is then discussed in depth with other behaviour practitioners.
These are run by the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training, and are accredited by the Middlesex University. The good thing with these courses is that a high percentage is based upon practical work as well as theory ensuring a capable practitioner. You can talk all you like about dog behaviour, but unless you can take the lead (literally) and demonstrate what it is that you are wishing to put over to the client and dog, you may as well go home. Nothing substitutes experience, and with over a thousand dog behaviour home visits under my belt I have plenty of that.
In 2012 I achieved a Masters degree in dog behaviour with the Middlesex University, titled 'Professional Practice in Dog Behaviour and Psychology'.
I am proud to be an independent practitioner and self employed; not bound to follow formulaic methods and practices dictated by a franchisor or managing company for example. I have of course agreed to the CFBA's codes of ethics in my profession.