Today we’re talking to Rachel Butler who’s based in Tewkesbury. She is a dog trainer specialising in reactive dogs, and this is her story.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into dog training.
I took on a rescue Staffie about 12 years ago and she had a few behavioural issues. I sought help locally and was horrified at the advice I was being given – mainly to punish my dog for growling at another by screaming at her loudly.
When I refused, the trainer, unbeknownst to me, came up behind us and bellowed so loudly that my dog wet herself.
A behavioural problem was created instantly due to her fear, and I then spent years trying to help her.
As part of my journey, I found the Puppy School network, led by Gwen Bailey and applied to become a Puppy School tutor.
The rest, as they say, is history and, nine years after starting my business, it is a dog training hub supporting owners with dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes.
UPDATE: Rachel is now a registered Animal Training Instructor with the Animal Training and Behaviour Council (ABTC), a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (membership number 01326) and a fully qualified Puppy School Tutor, acting as Regional Manager to the Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and South Wales region. She has a BSc (Hons) in Equine Science and true passion for all things puppy!
Do you specialise in a certain behaviour?
Puppy training and dogs with reactivity issues.
What one word would you choose to sum up your training style?
Do you have dogs yourself?
I have two Pointers, Bramble and Moss who are aged 3 and 2. I’ve had them since they were puppies and they are amazing dogs and family members.
We are part of a canicross group that I set up locally, so three times a week, we can be seen running round the local countryside with a bunch of other crazy dog runners.
I’m not a natural runner but it’s a whole lot more enjoyable when you are running with your dog and with some amazing friends.
What do you think are the most important qualities for anyone working with dogs?
Without doubt, an empathy with and an enjoyment for working with people.
We all love dogs, and of course you need a natural affinity there too, but much of what we do is people training and you have to be able to communicate with all kinds of people.
You also need to be hugely patient and understanding-dog training can be painfully slow at times and you need to be able to work at these paces when required.
What’s the most common type of problem you see?
Loads of dogs with reactivity issues – i.e. barking and lunging at other dogs (or sometimes people) when out on a walk.
We see more dogs for this issue than any other and it seems to be more and more common.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about dog ownership?
Don’t focus too much on the end result, enjoy the journey!
What advice would you give to a frustrated dog owner who is having major issues with their dog?
See help from a qualified professional but take care with who you contact as there are some cowboys out there.
The ABTC register is a fabulous list of suitable qualified and experienced dog trainers and behaviourists and I’d recommend starting there.
How do you relax and recharge after a long week’s work?
Canicross and lots of fitness stuff. Not sure it’s relaxing but it does make me feel better!
Finally, what is the one thing you wish all dog owners knew?
How to read a dog!
It’s a language all of its own but it’s quite easy to understand once you know how to ‘speak’ the language. Watch and learn from the masters (the dogs themselves), and in turn, you will be able to keep your dog safe.
Want to work with Rachel?
Like what you hear? You can get in touch with Rachel here:
Business name: Happy Dog Training Company
Areas that are covered: Gloucestershire
About Rachel Butler
Based in Gloucestershire, UK
Expert in reactive dogs