Puppy School; How to train your human!

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Hannah Molloy is a canine behavioural therapist and dog trainer who runs a company in Birmingham called Pawfect Dogsense. Recently she was asked to be part of Channel 4’s new 3 part show, Puppy School. We caught up with Hannah to find out more about it…

You’ve got some exciting things coming up in March?

So yes, I am about to feature as one of the experts on Channel 4’s new show Puppy School!

Tell us more about the show…

So, Puppy School is a show that is gonna look at why people get puppies. Everybody has a dog for different reasons and that’s something I see every day when I’m working. The Puppy School environment is a really unique place where people from lots of different backgrounds can come together and learn about dogs, so what we tried to do with Puppy School is teach people about positive training and really look into the stories of the contributors and the reasons why some of these people have got puppies. So yeah it’s going to be a really compassionate look at the ownership really.

Well that sounds like an interesting take on it, so what are some of the reasons people get dogs then?

There are lots of reasons that people get dogs, and I’m not going to give you any spoilers because people are looking forward to watching (the show) when it airs. But I mean, if you think about the ages and stages of people, there are loads of reasons. Maybe you are just retired and you want a new project and you’ve got a bit of an empty nest and the kids have moved away and you’d like something to focus your energy on. Sometimes people will get them because they’ve had a really difficult situation happen in their life and having a puppy and raising a puppy is a really lovely way of getting back out into the world and just taking life with both hands again. So it’s been really beautiful to watch some of these stories develop. I think you’re gonna laugh as much as you are gonna cry, and there’s some really beautiful and sometimes quite sad stories.

So the show is called Puppy School and it’s airing in March, but we don’t know the dates yet?

No, don’t know yet, so you’ve got to keep your ear to the ground and Channel Four will announce when the programme is ready to go out. You know I’m waiting just as much as you are to find out when it’s going to happen! We’ve completely finished filming it now and people are working really hard to make a great show out of it which I don’t think is going to be difficult because we’ve had some really great people and some amazing stories, and we’ve got three experts. The beautiful thing about Puppy School is you’ve got me, you’ve got a lovely trainer called Oli Juste and another trainer called Katie Patmore, and between the three of us we’ve got a sort of smorgasbord of experience. About 100 years worth of training experience, when you add it all up.

So did you completely agree on everything?

More or less! Yeah! Often. To be honest the fundamentals of what we believe in are the same. We all believe in positive training, we all believe in setting dogs up to succeed and reinforcing behaviour more than punishing it. Because the science shows that rewarding positive behaviour works. Punishment is a tricky one, if you punish a dog it might be a short fix to deal with a problem but long term you’ll probably find that the punishment will need to increase. Whereas if you keep reinforcing good behaviour that’s gonna stick because it’s worth it for the dog or for the person, so we all believe in positive reinforcement.

Because it gives them the motivation to do the right thing?

Exactly, yes. It’s finding what that individual dog wants to do or wants to work for – or the person. You know, people are trainable in just the same way by providing access to those rewards.

You say people are trainable in the same way, is it the people that you’re training rather than the puppies, in Puppy School?

Yeah! (laughs)

So Puppy School is really Puppy Owner School?

Exactly, 100%. You know, human beings have had dogs for like 20,000 years and I think sometimes we forget that a lot of these dogs had jobs originally that we’re not really giving them access to anymore. Being a pet is probably the hardest job a dog can do because they’re expected to sit at home, be petted and chatted to all day and so more often than not, teaching the owner how to set the dog up to succeed is actually what we do… it’s human training!

Find out more about Pawfect Dogsense at: www.pawfectdogsense.com or call 07837 377 273

Find out more about Channel 4’s Puppy School at: www.channel4.com