A Wiltshire dog trainer has introduced a rural-focused training course for clients who want to improve their dog’s behaviour in the countryside.
Professional trainer and dog behaviourist Keith Fallon launched the Canine Country Etiquette course after numerous requests from dog owners who were “petrified” about their dog chasing, or being chased by, livestock.
The course teaches owners practical techniques to maintain control around livestock and wildlife, such as using a dog whistle to recall the dog in woodland or open fields and teaching them to “emergency stop”.
“We get a lot of holidaymakers and a lot of people retire here from the city,” explains Mr Fallon, whose business is based in the Cotswolds. “They’ve had puppy classes but they come into the countryside and suddenly they don’t know how to control their dogs.”
Can you help Keith?
Mr Fallon would like to hear from any farmers who might be able to help him improve and expand his course, by sharing their knowledge and experiences. Email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
“There’s all this open space and they think they can let the dogs go wherever they want because it all looks like open land. We teach them how to control their dogs around sheep, cows, pheasants and deer – things you wouldn’t see in standard training classes.”
In addition to the training, the course also offers education for dog owners – familiarising them with the Countryside Code and offering safety advice for scenarios involving livestock.
“It’s all about understanding the countryside,” says Mr Fallon. “If you’re in a field with the dog on the lead and cows start chasing you, what should you do? If a defensive ewe chases your dog to protect her lamb, what should you do?”
As well as putting dog walkers’ mind at ease, Mr Fallon believes this kind of training could improve the sometimes fractious relationship between dog walkers and farmers.
“There seems to be a lot of confusion between dog owners and farmers. How should dog owners behave? What are the rules and etiquette? What rights have farmers and gamekeepers got? It’s all down to lack of communication.
“But if dogs are properly trained and farmers are reassured that there is a course that makes dog owners aware of the Countryside Code, and training for these kinds of situations, it might help.”
If the course is successful Mr Fallon hopes he can roll it out in other rural areas across the UK.