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Fred Hoare

Photo by Fred Hoare

My Training with Devon Dogs by Fred Hoare

My first training workshop with Devon Dogs was 5 years ago.  I needed some help improving my Ridgeback’s drive, jumping and weaves for agility.  I really enjoyed Lauren’s approach to training – it wasn’t about a specific method or doing things exactly the same way she did.  It was all about me and my dog and what worked best for us.  Everything was done in a very positive way keeping both my dog and my optimism levels up even when things didn’t go according to plan.

I’ve been visiting Bowerland several times a year

And ever since then I’ve been visiting Bowerland several times a year for various workshops, or some 121 sessions to work on specific areas of training. I live near Reading in Berkshire, which means I have a 3 hour journey to get to Bowerland – but the drive is worth it. Apart from the dog training, it’s also given me an opportunity to explore a bit of Devon and Dartmoor with my dogs.  

I have my work cut out for me when it comes to dog training. In addition to the Ridgeback I have 2 Welsh Terriers and have just gotten a Working Cocker Spaniel puppy. The terriers both have a very independent mindset and mostly prefer to do their own thing rather than being with me. 🙂

But there has been a Devon Dogs workshop to help with every problem I encountered – from Naughty but Nice, Relationship Boost, Chase Days, Boundary Games and the Terrier Days.  All of the trainers are terrific and follow the same approach of adjusting things individually to work for you and your dog(s).

Top Up Training

Recently I signed up for Michelle’s monthly classes. A really great concept – 3 hours of top-up training once a month on a Sunday, which is great for those of us who live a bit further away and can’t make it on a more regular basis.  Each monthly class has a theme and we get homework to do before the next class.  I usually turn it into a 2 day weekend trip by either doing a different workshop or booking a few hours 121 on the Saturday. 


Teresa has really helped me to improve the Terrier’s focus when we’re doing agility and I hope to have them competing on a regular basis soon.  One of the great things about the training at Devon Dogs is that you get the opportunity to work with dogs that are not your own if you want to.  I’ve found this really useful for improving my training skills because I’ve had to adapt to the dog.

Out and About Training

My skills at watching what the dog is doing and interpreting their behaviour have improved and I’ve also had to make sure I’m on top of my mechanics (movement, reward delivery, marker timing) as each dog is different. Some of the best sessions have been the “out and about” lessons – Michelle and Teresa take the training out into the real world and we’ve had to deal with the typical types of things like strange people, noisy cars and other dogs that are not always as well behaved as they should be.  Great learning for the dogs as well as for me having to adapt to the situation in the moment.

The most recent addition to our household is a Working Cocker Spaniel puppy.  So a lot of new things to learn – I’ve discovered that Spaniels are very different to Ridgebacks and Terriers.  Michelle has been helping with quite a few 121s – with my dogs as well as some different puppies and spaniels of different ages. 

It’s been fascinating getting the chance to work with slightly older spaniels and see what I can expect from my puppy as he gets older and the different ways that I’ll need to adapt what I do with him.  Luckily there are some Spaniels days planned for later in the year as well as Gundog and Scent workshops so I’ll have the opportunity to spend a few more weekends enjoying Bowerland and the surrounding area.

Read more of our Guest Reviews HERE.


Do you have a training issue you want to tackle? Come and stay with us in our cottage style apartments, right in the heart of Dartmoor, and make the most of our fantastic training facilities onsite.



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