Location: Snowdonia, North Wales
Price: £135 per dog and person
Length: 2 days
Who is the course suitable for?
This course is for dog owners and their dogs who wish to enjoy walks together safely and responsibly in the hills, mountains and open spaces of the UK. The course is run jointly by a professional dog behaviorist & trainer and myself to provide a balance of dog and people training in a rural environment.
This course is designed to build on basic obedience training that dogs and owners will have done in a more controlled environment such as dog training classes or informal training in your back garden or local park.
We want you to be able to enjoy a days walk on the hills, mountains or beaches with your dog without upsetting other hillwalkers, farmers, landowners, livestock, flora or fauna and in a manner that strengthens your relationship with your dog.
What does the course cover?
The course provides two practical days of training in the hills and mountains of Snowdonia for dogs and their owners. Over the two days topics covered include:
- The Countryside Code and our responsibilities as dog walkers
- Understanding dogs - reading the body language of your dog and other peoples dogs whilst out on a walk, understanding how they interact and pack hierarchy
- Recall of the dog with distractions such as other dogs, people and wildlife
- Walking without a lead
- Appropriate obedience for a day in the mountains
- Dog fitness
- Dog and owner mountain safety
- Water sources for your dog
- Specialist gear and its uses, this will include dog leads, harnesses, GPS tracking collars and more
- First Aid for dogs
The links at the bottom of this page will allow you to read the advice given by the National Park, the National Trust, The BMC
and the Countryside Code. All place an emphasis on controlling your dog to prevent nuisance and this course aims to provide that training.
Who runs the course?
The course will be run by Gael McGuigan and myself.
Gael is a professional dog handler and behaviourist and grew up around dogs and has worked professionally with dogs since 1985. She has had the pleasure of working with most breeds of dogs and their owners, a range of ages and a range of difficulties.
Gael worked at boarding kennels for a number of years and was then employed to manage a very busy RSPCA animal home shelter. "It was always a wonderful challenge to try to understand the dogs’ behaviour and to then address the issues and train more desirable behaviours. It was so rewarding to then rehabilitate dogs back into happy homes, rather than the dreadful alternative."
She has been working as a Dog Welfare Officer for the last ten years. Her job includes working with strays, dogs who have been physically or emotionally abused, unwanted dogs and dogs with a range of behavioural difficulties. She also offers support, training and consultation to owners and dogs. Gael is passionate about helping owners and dogs to understand each other and to enjoy a happy relationship.
Gael is a holder of qualifications in Canine Behaviour & Psychology and a Higher Certificate in Cynology. She has also completed courses in Dog handling, Canine Aggression and Canine First Aid and is currently in the process of completing the Advanced Diploma in Canine Behavioural Management.
I regularly take my dog Skye (the border Collie in the photo at the top) to work with me in the mountains on the navigation and scrambling courses that I run and am currently training her as a Search Dog with SARDA Wales. You can read more about Skye on my dog blog here. I have also got an elderley Jack Russel who always loved the mountains and have previously had a Springer Spaniel that I trained as a working gun dog. I am currently studying a diploma in Canine Behaviour and Psychology.
The Training Environment
We will do the majority of the training in the hills and mountains themselves. This provides the advantage of exposure to the environment itself and actual warning signs in the setting within which you will be walking with your dog. It also provides the secondary advantage of a relaxed setting which promotes a relaxed training experience in beautiful surroundings - thus meeting the needs of you, your dog, your relationship and the wider walking community.
The course will be structured so that the environment that we work in is progressively changed to provide additional challenges and distractions over the two days and could include open moorland, mountains, hills, streams, rivers, sand dunes, beaches and lakes.
We do not run these courses between the 1st March and 31st July because this is the ground-nesting bird season and by law all dogs on open access land must be on a lead.
Any livestock training is done under strict control and expert guidance and with the express permission of the owner of the land and the livestock.
Dog mess will be removed and disposed of properly.
Fitness - We will structure the course to suit the fitness of you and your dog but you should both be happy with the prospect of two full days out. We will not be climbing mountains, the course will be based in the valleys, on lower hills and perhaps the beaches of Snowdonia. Seperate days can be arranged on a private guiding basis for people that wish to tackle the scrambles of Snowdonia with their dog.
Obedience - Your dog should be able to come when called off the lead in a controlled environment and understand basic commands such as sit and stay. You should be able to walk your dog on a lead in a controlled manner. In other words your dog understands commands when its in your garden or your kitchen or the local dog training hall and you want to progress on to the dog obeying your commands in a rural setting where there are more distractions.
Insurance and Medical - You should have 3rd party liability insurance for your dog and your dog should be fully wormed and inoculated before attending the course.
All breeds of dog are welcome, large or small! One dog per person only though please.
If you have a dog that demonstrates aggressive behaviour towards people or other dogs please contact us before booking the course. We will be able to arrange a 1:1 session with Gail to work on those specific issues.
Where is the course held?
We run the course in Snowdonia.
The course fee includes instruction only.
What about accommodation & transport?
You will need to arrange your own transport and accommodation. The course will be based at Plas Curig Hostel in Capel Curig. Formerly a YHA the hostel is now a family run business that has been extensively refurbished in 2011 and is dog friendly. You can choose single or bunk rooms dependant upon budget and you can self cater or choose to eat in or at one of the nearby pubs.
Meeting Place & Time
Once you book we will send you a comprehensive set of course notes and a letter of confirmation, this will include a detailed kit list and details of where and when we meet. The first day normally starts at 9:30am in Capel Curig and finishes in the same place at about 4:00pm.
Other Questions & Useful Info
If you can email me with any questions that you can't find answers to on the website I will get back to you as soon as I can.
The BMC - Advice on dog walking in the mountains - article by Rob
The Countryside Code for Dog Walkers
The National Trust - Advice for dog owners
Snowdonia National Park - Walking your dog in the National Park