Our Dog Training Holiday at Bowerland by Liz and Matt
On Saturday 22nd October with the car loaded with more dog treats, toys and general stuff than you can wave a stick at, we (my husband, Matt, our two cockapoos, Poppy (almost 5) and Digit (16 months) and I) made the relatively short trip from Cornwall to Devon to begin our holiday at Bowerland.
The Old Dairy is simply wonderful…
Matt is allergic to animals (hence our poodle crosses), so, knowing we were staying in a dog-friendly cottage, we ensured we had throws and pillows and anti-histamines galore. We needn’t have bothered. The Old Dairy was not only beautiful (I honestly could live there), but it was spotless to the point Matt had zero level of reaction. Every detail has been considered in the cottage too. It is cosy, comfortable, warm and peaceful and the human and doggy welcome goodies are the loveliest touch. The garden is brilliant too. It’s not just secure, but the fencing having no gaps for the dogs to see through at all was a real bonus.
From apprehension to amazing in 10 short hours…
We booked the 10-hour training package on the back of watching several Absolute Dogs videos on Facebook and liking the style of training used. Other than that we knew very little about what to expect. Having worked with different trainers and behaviourists previously, we’ll confess to being a little apprehensive before our first training session. The latter had the unfortunate impact of making one particular barking challenge worse.
Again, we needn’t have worried. Our first two sessions were with Michelle who, from the training questionnaires and pre-training call understood what our challenges were and what we ultimately wanted to achieve (but had no clue how to) from the start. She put us at ease immediately and explained what we would be doing and why. She guided us through a myriad of calming techniques and games that had an immediate positive impact on our dogs.
Our final three sessions were with Teresa who had planned to work with us on shaping. However, our sessions with Michelle had taught us things we hadn’t previously understood about both dogs. We saw a big difference in just four days, so we were keen to learn more. We wanted to be equipped with the biggest selection of tools to help both dogs be as happy and calm as possible. So Teresa changed her original plans and helped us to continue that learning with DMT, boundary, fitness and calming games. She even helped us to see the end goals we were working towards by demonstrating with her gorgeous spaniel, Shady.
We’ll be back!
We had the best week – we learnt so much and feel so enthused and empowered in terms of our ability to really help both the dogs, plus we enjoyed the added bonus of trying some of the training techniques whilst exploring Dartmoor (and its pub lunches!).
We’re now back home, incorporating what we’ve learnt into our daily life and continuing to see improvements. Poppy and Digit do agility for fun once a week and they love it. And we’re already looking at next year’s calendar to see when we can book to come back for more!
About the authors: Matt and Liz live near Hayle in Cornwall, with their two cockapoos, Poppy and Digit. Matt works for the ambulance service as a Specialist Paramedic, and Liz works part-time for Truro Cathedral and has just set up a small marketing agency with a friend. On days off all four of them enjoy walks on the dunes and beach, pub lunches and practicing agility in the garden.