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How looking at reactivity with a different Lens and alternative approaches to “training” can change outcomes deeply. Tillys story …

This is Tilly. She is an 8-year-old Retriever. She has had reactive responses to some dogs, especially when taken by surprise or when she can’t create space, since she was attacked as a young dog. Her family have managed for the past while but after an event at home out of the blue they asked for help. Tillys mum chose Peaceful Paws because we look at the needs holistically, considering every aspect that might impact her need to respond with a growl to an unexpected approach.

Tilly is a calm and happy dog; her one-off response was out of character. Our first place to investigate is pain and health, including nutrition, gut, water, sleep etc. As she is older, we expect some joint stiffness, but there is no obvious pain according to her Vet. Her approach to food is unusual, as is her response to us rewarding behaviours in general, she is disinterested. We looked at some high value food and favourite toys and she just wasn’t interested. However, interaction with her Mum was her highest reward.

We set up some Freework to explore this further. To see if free access to a wide range of food and toys without any pressure or expectation might have a different response. We were gathering information. She browsed, had a lick of cheese and some ham but ignored at other passes. she ignored her favourite toys. There was no concern about movement or her choice of surfaces. She did however grab a ball and take herself off, seemingly to process this unusual experience, she seemed to gain some comfort with the ball and then drop it and re-engage.

What we did notice was her constant look back to her mum for permission and reassurance. She regularly referred back. She found making her own choices hard. We also discovered her Mum has an aversion to meat. The response is visceral. It raised a question, with Tillys very close relationship was she gathering information from her Mum about the safety or appropriateness of their shared experiences? Over the next couple of weeks, they worked on more freework and adding in activities to support Tilly to gain confidence in her own independence. They also worked on some focus games with the attention from Mum as the reward, including some ball fun, Tilly has still used balls as a comfort, it was noted that her unfortunate event at home was related to a ball.

Next, we unpacked her reactive responses more. We wanted to gain information around the days around the unfortunate home event, including any events with dogs locally and the outcomes on both Mum and Tilly. This is where Tillys humans began to learn more about her needs and the communications she has been unable to make heard. We explored what might have been “Filling her Stress and Arousal Bucket”. This is an analogy which enables us to explore all the events and feelings Tilly may have had which contribute to the accumulation of stress and any lovely events which might empty it (as well as lovely busy things that add to it!). The Tricky moments or discomfort or worry, including worry about her mum, add to her bucket. She has a reduced capacity for independent management of self-confidence and so her capacity to manage the load is reduced. She has a lovely quiet loved life, and this will definitely help empty it sometimes. She loves ball fun; this will fill a little with fun arousal. Find out more about Buckets

We looked at how many events, and what they looked like, she has roughly in a week and her Mum quickly saw how this could impact her feelings of control and safety. Once she understood what life was like for Tilly on the walk she believed she should have twice a day, setting up a plan was so much easier to understand.

During our explorations we also looked at how Mum felt about Tilly and the reactive events. This was our breakthrough. When we added Mums Stress Bucket too and considered Tillys reliance on her mum for support, safety and confidence as well as what to do, now Mum could see that they were both struggling with the worry of the encounters twice a day. Mum was really reluctant to get out and face what would inevitably be stressful. She started the walk in trepidation.

So, in Session 2/5 we started to work on their Buckets. None of the usual Modification and protocol activities had yet been undertaken, we focussed on the WHOLEism of the needs of the whole family, their lifestyle emotional and physical wellness, their environments, their relationships, not just on the behaviours we were seeing.

Without this knowledge any structured behaviour modification work might be unsuccessful, until Mum feels more confident Tilly wont, she can’t be “coerced ” into working to manage her responses to the dogs she sees with food or games as her highest value is her interaction with Mum (who was struggling too).

They cut right down how often they put themselves through the pressure of a street walk encounter. They are lucky to have a field to use and that is what they did. They also played some focus games with balls and attention as the rewards and engagement focus. This, alongside the emptying of the Walk Stress Bucket, swapped their high cortisol impact on Nervous system also impacting their mental and physical wellbeing, for high dopamine and serotonin happy hormones which in turn impacted their outlooks and with Tilly more interest in food too.

In 3/5 session Mum was much more positive, she had been reframing her approach to the world with Tilly beyond home. She was aware of how her own behaviours are impacting Tillys ability to make decisions and choices and how Tillys confidence relies on her own. She has been working on her own mindset. This is now a deeper focus for her as we venture into the world again.

Our next steps was to start the positivity to the outside world BEFORE we left! Mum spent some time whilst she got ready for the walk thinking about what her happy walk will look like. The weather, the environment, her own good feelings. We also changed Tillys walk equipment. She had been walked on a collar which adds to the fear when there is neck pressure and her lead kept short, reducing her chance make or indicate her wish to make choices about where she will go. She has a perfect fit 2 point of contact harness, fitted by a physio. She also has a double end lead which attaches both at the front and back. The lead, even double clipped, is longer than her previous one. This change in handling was at first a little different for Tilly and she took a few minutes to find her improved balance.

Her Mum however, quickly found her improved handling. We started with her own body and mind, standing up, balanced and loose is empowering. it feels more confident. The relaxation of the shoulders and loose holding of the lead helped her to feel mentally relaxed. We chatted as we moved and she was encouraged to converse positively with Tilly as they walked, to share directions and ask for choices, but also to share the observations she was making of the environment. she was mindful of the speed of her movement and as we slowed so did Tilly, who took more time to sniff and mark. This slowed her busy mind enabling her to see more of what was around her, Mum noticed this too, she commented that usually she just focussed on getting home as soon as she had left home so marched to get it overwith.

We spent some coaching time on a loose relaxed handling, so the lead was loose and had some space for Tilly to make decisions where to sniff and when asked some space to make direction choices. What we did also notice was that Tilly was referring to Mum much less, this raised the question, was she more confident, or was she disconnected because she could not rely on her safe haven in this situation? Ideally, we want a balance. Tilly should be encouraged to be confident to explore her world and make good choices, but also, she needs to be connected when they have shared decisions to make or when Mum becomes the Safe Haven with active decision making.

We then began for the first time to add in activities to develop a shared decision-making relationship and to gain more focus from Tilly to her Mum.

Our first game was one to play every now and then, on lead and off lead. “Let’s Go” (or A-B) helps to develop a cheery way to make space and to enable them to make a decision about what next. We played it on different times on our walk so the game was not a predictor of space making for a dog event. This was for Mum too, so she also had a fun and calm emotion attached to the game. A cheery “Let’s go” and a run or quick move to another place, backwards, sidewards, behind a car or wall or down to the river. Mum learned a handling technique which was confident, and one Tilly was happy to respond to which also added a change in the way the lead handled so it is a body cue too. We now need to teach Tilly some short fun activities to play together when they get “there”. This is sometimes just some balls to find (ordinarily it might be a food to seek). For Tilly (and many dogs) the focus relationship time is rewarding, and it builds a routine which is familiar.

Mum went home buoyant, the walk was the most fun and relaxing time they had out together in a long, long time. She is changing her mindset and growing some skills to add to their toolbox which is raising her self-confidence and, as they are so bonded, that is rubbing off on Tilly.

Our next steps are to learn some more fun games to use to create a confident mindset together. Tilly may never be totally keen on dogs inside her chosen bubble, but that’s OK, her mum has a goal of them feeling better about walking together, to enjoy their environment and be realistic about what happens when there is an encounter. She knows how to be Tillys Safe Haven and how to help her when times are tricky. They are well on their way to achieve that.

If you would like to know more about a WHOLEistic approach to behaviour and training please get in touch, Tillys story is one of many!


Services 2022

With th echanges occuring in how services are offered for Training and Therapy we are restructuring our offers with an option for virtual work and hybrid in person and online to suit the needs of each client, as always bespoke to needs – watch this space!

We continue to offer

Botanical Self Healing (ZOOM) £100

A full History and intake, 2 hours zoom based guidance and coaching on how to offer and observe the selection choices. A resource kit for the session and some extra for continuing sessions. Full Back Up via media of choice

To find out more this lovely practice please have a look at this Blog

Kids Around Dogs (ZOOM) £75

Support for growing confidence in children with concerns around dogs – around 7 sessions mostly online with some practical support where appropriate. 30 min session. Interactive with fun tasks.

Puppy Power Programme (suitable for rescues too. ) £150 x 5 up to 90 minute sessions further sessions £30 x 1 hour.

Family Focussed where appropriate- – Taunton and District only.

A bespoke programme of 5 initial sessions with further ones as requested. Starting on or before arrival home . Before Vaccination is welcomed. Games and fun based. Looking at all areas of puppy (dog) wellbeing and learning needs .

Anxious dog support for reactive or anxious dogs, rescues or thoose with growing anxious behaviour .

Initial 2 hour session £75 follow ups £50 (Initial session can be online or in person when COVID secure)

Programme of Initial Session plus 4 bespoke follow ups £250

Understanding the whole dog, history, events, environment, health in order to work with their unique needs. All work is bespoke, no generic handouts etc. A suitable range of postive techniques, methods, games and activities. Not forgetting the human end of the lead, suppport and empathy for human needs and support for handling and providing the best options for the dog in front of us.

WAG WALK TALK Learning Walks £45 x 1 hour (In person – Taunton and District, in theenvironment

No Frills walk and chat. Understand more about YOUR dog, their communication, their needs, learn more about your human skills with coaching for handling and learning. Supplemented by some games specifically for the skills that arise

INSIDE – OUT 4x bespoke sessions with reports and a free Botanical Kit total around 8 hours £300

4 xsessions

  1. A Learning walk to chat and assess needs following a full Intake, look at canine communication and human handling skills.
  2. A full Botanical session in person or by zoom as appropriate, Full report and free resource kit
  3. A behaviour consultation including holistic and wellbeing support for specific needs, games and activities to work on together , Human end of the lead coaching and techniques.
  4. A Learning Walk to put the programme into practice in an appropriate environement


Wide range of topics available , please ask for details. Day Rate £250 or ticketed events

Popular topics

Botanical Self Healing , Kids and Dogs , Reactive Rascals (a DTC workshop) , Canine Body Language (A DTC workshop) , Anxious and Awesome (a look at the science of fear anxiety and reactivity and the toolbox to help) Enrichment (creating the best life for your dog) Be your Dogs Geek (understanding your dog Inside Out – Canine Body Language, common health and wellness topics including an introduction to nutrition choices, understanding canine emotions and behaviour and creating calm)

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Update – and some insight into my Continuing Professional Development

I have continued with my committment to continually updating my knowledge and skills and have undertaken new learning and updates of prior learning in the past 12 months with many xourses ongoing. Much of the learning the past 2 years has been irtual via online conferences and workshops from a wide array of global leaders in their field from every area of the canine world.

I am now one of the first Approved KAD (Kids Around Dogs) Practitioner which I am thrilled about. Initially we are working with children who struggle with fears and worries around dogs limiting their access t o family and making life out and about fearful. As a parent and a Child Educator (Headteacher and Teacher for 0-9 years old) this is important to understand and have empathy for. this programme is online for the majority and in short fun active chunks suitable for 4 yoear and upwards.Watch out for Blogs and case studies. I am hoping this will develop and add some learning for those kids who have an overconfidence  or lack skills in understanding the needs and communication of dogs.When schools  and human interaction is safer (ideally next September) I am hoping to offer fun programmes for schools. SO many families have welcomed a dog in the past year and so many contact me for help.

My considerable studies have added an accredited  Diploma in Holistic Canine Behaviour with 100% pass. This was a challenging course with Canine Principles which I loved. The learning here was backed up by many short courses and webinars and longer courses from both Canine Principles and The Dog Training College as well as a wide range of internationally recognised providers across the globe.

I have widened my studies into other areas which consider a Holistic focus for Dogs wellbeing physical and emotional. This has included a look at Nutrition which we are beginning to understand has a huge impact upon behaviour and lifelong wellness. I undertook a really challenging scientifically Certificate in  Nutrition  course (USA Accredited)  with Dogs Naturally University presented by world renowned Nutrition expert Dana Scott. this has been backed up by a current longer Certificated Nutrition course presented by Butternut Box Nutritional Vet Ciara Clarke. As a Butternut Box Ambassador It is vital I have a great knowldge of the impact of nutrition on wellness. to try out this great complete fresh food formulated by Ciara the Vet here is a special code for you, 75% off the first box and 25% off the second. Butternut take into account the needs of your dog and set up the boxes for your needs.

I have continued with and completed the studies and case studies for Botanical  Self Healing (Zoopharmacognosy) with My Animal Matters and submitted several case studies which have been totally approved. I love this practice and, as it is best with guardian coaching and support it works so well electronically,. So added to my service menu is Zoom Botanical Self Healing. there is a blog explaining more both here and on my Find a Dog Trainer link with The Dog Training College 

This link will also lead to reviews on some of the many sessions I have undertaken.

I am adding to my specialisms in Puppy training and development with School Of Canine Science Puppy Lab and Dog Training College Puppy Specialist. Also with Dog Training College I am completing specialist trainer status in Canine Body Language (for which I am already an instructor) and also Reactivity Specialist.

I am really enjoying modules from School of Canine Science Behaviour Bible focussing on the detailed science of the internal dog, including neurobiology, endocrinolgy and genetics.

We are currently fine tuning some changes in services in line with the range of learning undertaken. Some of this will be online and also a hybrid offer to suit the changing needs of our clients


No Walk? Lets Have FUN!

These are Special Times…

The Covid 19 crisis has suddenly hit everyone and the guidelines to stay home except for a short time daily have caused those with dogs some challenges. This Blog, whilst very “at this time” focussed actually draws upon guidance and teaching Peaceful Paws has always offered.

From time to time for a variety of reasons we need time out from a daily walk…

  • injury, illness and disability- both dogs and us
  • reactive behaviours
  • being “trggered”
  • weather- both too hot and too cold
  • bitch in season
  • over stimulated from too much household  busyness
  • Firework season
  • special events such as COVID 19 Government instruction

and a variety of other reasons.

IT IS FINE to do something else rather than a traditional walk.  Luckily in the past few years alternatives have been springing up and research and behaviourist advice has created a whole new way of helping dogs ” be dogs”, without having to have a lead, a field, and and hour free. At the end of this blog are a list of wonderful online resources to inspire.

Behaviourist and TTouch therapist Janet Finlay (links below)  suggests that we consider Deconstructing the way we offer a walk in circumstances above. She explains here:

So how can we offer the alternative?

What is the Purpose of a Walk?

  • toileting time
  • exercise (body condition)
  • scenting
  • having fun
  • play
  • learning
  • engaging with their human and other dogs (recommend where possible only family dogs in the Covid crisis, but  make a personal decision on your limit of a tiny risk of cross-contamination)

How can we replicate that at home?


Most dogs will toilet in the garden and this is ideal right now, they are likely to have 12-24 hours between access to the outside world which may be too long, particularly for young and older dogs or those with health needs.

Teaching a “go pee” is so helpful. If you dont have it then this is a time to teach. Go in the garden and when they pee/poo have a great reward of fuss and fun and fabulous food  if approriate. As they squat say happily “go pee” when they finish have a party !  It wont take long to have them pee on cue. This is a really helpful cue anyway, its certanly been invaluable on freezing nights or vet trips!

If they only go pee out of the garden begin teaching it out on your walk and then try in the garden , it may take a while but persevere.

All the following ideas should be for a maximum of 5 mins at a time and you can mix and match from each category over a day or week.


  • Toy fun, ball throwing, but limit to max of 5 mins to save joint strain. Tug.
  • Chase a brilliant way to revisit recall! Drop a little bit of their food and as they go to eat it , run away and repeat, change direction, hide, call them,  be creative.
  • Stretches –be careful not to over stretch, paws up, spins, leg weaves, play bow peekaboo, allstrethc (think Yoga- there is Real Dog Yoga too!)
  • Obstacle courses – use household items, indoors or out to create, balance, climbing, jumping experiences ( kitchen steps, toddler stools, brooms, cushions, pillows, towels, plant pots garden canes… use your imagination )


  • Confidence courses – similar, but with a range of novel items to challenge problem solving and boost confidence with novelty, move over, through, under, around a range of objects- as above with novel items such as a bottle maze or a maze from plant pots and canes.
  • Balance – create a course to walk across to support balance, pillows, or wide “planks” on steps ,
  • Tricks that move and stretch the body spins both ways, weave in and out of bottles or chairs, crawl under table or chairs, play bows, head turns from side to side, sit to stand to down (mix it up, only 3-5  a day) paws up , different number of paws in a different  (or the same ) object … front paws, back paws, 3 paws, opposite 1 at front and back , run around an object ( table, box, chair) each way.


  • Freework A new activity which is used by trainers and therapists at a varity of levels, at its simplest it is the chance for the dog to slow down and just “be”, doggy mindfulness if you like. It gives the chance to stretch and forage and have a calm time. This is Genghis taking time out.

Here is some more information This website is from Sarah Fishers website 

Food search/forage/scavenge – this is an important part of all dogs daily engagement in the environment. One that is much overlooked. This is a long activity and might take 20 mins. It is deeply tiring and rewarding. Set it up and stand back and just let them be a dog.

  • Food plates – find the favourite or novel foods. Get together 10-12 (safe) foods your dog might enjoy including familiar ones but also others. Offer 2 at a time on separate flat trays or plates. Note the first choice. Do for all foods, then narrow down by offering 2 at a time again, until you have the top choices. Use these to encourage engagement.


  • Muffin tins (then add balls or yoghurt pots or plastic cups to cover the spaces)
  • Hunting – show dog where a few foods are “hidden” in plain sight, help them to find, do it together. Next step “hide” in plain sight and ask “find it” excitedly. Then with dog out of room/space hide and help find then as before “find it”. Do in the same place until skilled and enjoying, anticipating. Then go to a different room, outside etc.
  • Towel – get a small towel or teatowel or soft mat . Put food on it to find and help until they know what to do, then roll a few in and show how to unravel, then make it trickier ! Use in boxes, on trays or roasting tins. Do it at different heights by balancing on a low stool or table.
  • Plant pot (yoghurt pot/ plastic cups/cones) search – get 2/3 pots, put food on or around the pots and encourage engagement. Then put on top of pot, then underneath and show how to get them. Then do just one or 2 leaving some empty. Add a few more pots. Repeat process. Play inside and out as a mix up.
  • Snuffle mats – sink drainer or object with holes, an old tea shirt or fleece blanket. Thread through the holes and knot. Add foods to find, show as above.
  • Holey rollers – balls with holes in, do the same, or just thread rolls of fabric in with food wrapped in.
  • Cabbage fun – hide tiny bits of smelly food, between the leaves of a cabbage or lettuce.
  • Ball pits– small plastic balls – or tennis balls and a container…. A box, a bag for life, food tin.
  • Tent pits , a kids tent contains the balls and the food… use indoors or out.
  • Cardboard tube fun – collect tubes, fold end add food, fold other end. Show how to open, then put in boxes (think of honeycomb shape) to search through or just a few offered.
  • Recycle the recycling – box with safe recycling, cardboard, plastic bottles, put some food in , incuding inside the bottles and just let them have fun.
  • Scatter feed  – a handful of kibble thrown on the floor (patio, grass, kitchen floor) or use a novel container: box, toy box , tent, tunnel, tray
  • Bring the outside in, collect grass, [ebbles, sticks that have engageed them on a walk and make a snufle tray.

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  • Problem solving – Nina Otteson and Kong commercial games.
    • Developing thinking games- what does your dog like doing? Opening things, shaking things, rolling and fetching.
    • digging for fun very rewarding and great physical exercise. Use a low box or kids sandpit for outside. The under bed boxes are good. A little kids sand. Make sure outside boxes have a lid. It can help to have on a plastic sheet, or a yard area. Add some toys and dry food show them where it is as you bury it, then hide and don’t let them know.
    • Get the treat from the bottle chase, shake , throw, to get to the treat.

Interacting and learning

  • Learn how to use a clicker.
  • Tricks and fun – there are endless tricks to learn from paw giving, spins and turns, crawling under, weaving around, to collecting dropped items or emptying the washing or tidying the toys. The internet has so many videos. Look at you tube for Kikopup (Emily Larlham) or Kyra Sundance . Both are excellent.


  • Fun Learning Games – 3 minute games are fabulous for building working relationships, boredom busters and most need little equipment , just their food. Absolute Dogs have a set of free books with games in – this is a great one. 

Sarah Ellis is a brilliant trick trainer and has so many on her Facebook page.

We mustn’t underestimate the value and importance of calm at this time. For many of our dogs life has changed considerably. Their quiet routine has changed, there is more noise, more movement, more people. This can be a bit overloading! So time out is essential for them to reset. Anyone homeschooling can really relate to how they are feeling right now!  so here is some support for the end of your Deconstructed Walk, the “cool down” .

Relaxing and calming food activities

    • Kongs ( you can use yoghurt pots)
    • LikiMats – there are commercial ones but a silicon pot stand works. Spread with something soft- cream cheese, goats cheese, yoghurt, veg puree, puree chicken broth, baby food, (no onions) , tinned dog food (Cesar or Lilys kitchen is good) , or fresh . A good rinse and a hot wash or dish-wash cleans them thoroughly.
    • Chews (chewing and crunching induces calm hormones) – avoid cheap raw hide , or packaged bones of anything from china, good choices- pigs ears, calf hooves, puzzles, paddywack, chicken feet, dried necks, antlers.
    • just time for themselves in a quiet place . 
    • there is another blog just on this here.


There are myriad of amazing places to go for more fun. This list below is not inclusive at all! but will offer lots of ideas.

If you would like some more information about anything DOG please contact me via this website or go to the Facebook page or join the facebook group. I am hoping to add some virtual minicourses soon as amazing offers.


Some internet links  

Louise Burton Online Trainer, highly recommended.

Tricks and fun with Ruby

fun activities with Tilly

Canine Enrichment:

Beyond the bowl:

ACE connections:

Kikopup You Tube:

School of canine science on YouTube:

Canine Confidence Academy, free taster courses:

Brilliant Family Dog, free short courses:

Nail maintenance for dogs:…/nail.maintenan…/learning_content/

Positive dog husbandry:

Dog Training College, check out their free stuff and facebook page:


Animal Education 100 days of enrichment

Spiritdog, online challenges

Local to Taunton – virtual classroom with Nic Evans

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NEW! Canine Body Language Workshop

This is the course your Dog wants you to take!!



Taunton        25/01/20     10:00-2:30              

COST   £55         now £35   FOR ONE TICKET            £30 FOR 2 OR MORE BOOKED

Happy L longrun

Would you like to know what it is your dog is saying?   Canine Communication is intricate and fascinating.

This 5*  4.5 hour workshop in conjunction with the Dog Training College is coming to Taunton the only venue in the Somerset, Avon, North Devon area.

Workshop Overview

Learning how to read and interpret subtle body language and facial expression will allow us to understand what a dog is really trying to tell us.

Being able to read a dog will allow you to understand and even predict canine behaviour.

This fascinating subject will open up a whole new way of communicating with your dog that you may not even have realised was possible. You will truly begin to speak dog.

Does a dog lying on its back really want a belly rub?

Is a wagging tail a sign of a happy dog?

Can dogs feel guilt?

This course will begin to answer some of the most misunderstood canine behaviours and as a result will change the way you interact with dogs forever.

Discounts available for Pet Professionals and Rescues.

Also available at special rates for rescues and groups to host.




Help! My dog is a Fearful Fido, Anxious Annie, Grumpy Genghis.

Actually my boy IS Grumpy Genghis! He is also a fearful Fido and Anxious Annie, all these apply to him at different times. He has been called REACTIVE or I label him with the term “Having reactive behaviours”. This is not really very useful, everyone has a different vision of what reactive means, looks like, why it occurs, what should be done to “stop it” .

His behaviour is actually an expression of an emotional state. An emotion in that moment, or linked to past emotional responses which build and have become anxiety and stress.

The why is less important than the how can we help him. It is however useful to know, as it can explain the nuances of his specific responses. His very strong fear of black dogs, of Labradors. This is likely to be the type of dog which he had a one off encounter with and which began his journey from happy friendly young dog, to a dog who is fearful of the world.

So how can we help dogs like Genghis who have struggled to come to terms with an event which made him fearful and anxious ? Who look from the outside aggressive, angry, dangerous.

Getting some professional help is key. As is finding like minded skilled and knowledgeable friends. Supporting a fearful dog  is isolating and emotionally draining. It is embarrassing being at the other end of a lead to a snarling, shouting, lunging dog or one who is cowering , too scared to move, or barking and backing away, as people TUT and suggest you muzzle or don’t go to places nice dogs go, who suggest you take control and show him who is boss. None of this is supportive or helpful, but luckily many of those comments are borne of the ignorance of what is actually happening, I was once that person.

What  does the term “Reactive Behaviour mean? It is simply a response to something that is out of proportion to the level of threat or excitement. This can include lunging barking growling snapping biting, it can include freezing or rolling over, it can include super excitement or frustration.

How can we help ? Help our own fearful anxious and grumpy, over responsive  dogs , but also help those who encounter us to understand the everyday struggles we have?

The Yellow Dog Scheme can get the message out, dogs wearing yellow ribbons or leads indicate a give me space. Space is the most important every dogs space need is different, so when asked to STOP or you see someone gently but quickly moving their dog away, please keep your dog away so we can keep ours emotionally safe.

For those of us supporting a grumpy  fearful, anxious dog  or their people, there are a huge range of ways to help.

  • Behaviour support from a knowledgeable skilled positive focused trainer or behaviour consultant. to assess your partnership and tweak some handling skills, offer ideas for helping the emotional response, offer you some emotional support too.
  • Learning about the biology of the emotional and physical responses. the neurology of reactive behaviours
  • Understanding THIS dog, Be your dogs GEEK.
  • Understand the nuances of Canine Communication and Body Language so you can hear rhe dogs messages but also, most importantly, read the communication of other dogs you encounter, to make that decision to move away fast or to ask for the owners support.
  • Advocate for the dog.
  • Offer masses of chances to have calmness (see the blog Calm Dogs are Happy Dogs) . Did you know it can take 72 hours for a dog to recover from an event? Us too!
  • Learn some games and activities at home , in a safe place, to play in tricky situations.
  • Offer alternatives to walks regularly, have fun at home, play games, do some fitness fun, have some forage and snuffle time, learn some scenting techniques, learn some more cues or tricks. 15 mins fun or sniffing or foraging is as tiring as an hours walk, add in some fitness activities and you will have a less worried and fit dog, without adding to their anxiety bucket.
  • Find your local Secure Field for safe off lead fun.
  • Find out and use some of the many holistic therapies and practices that can ease anxiety and tension, such as TTouch, K9 Massage, Herbal Support, Bach Flower remedies, Botanical Self Selection.

If you would like to know more and are local or can travel to Somerset I will be offering a whole day workshop to help you understand more about all I have summarised. This will be especially helpful for professionals in all dog services to learn more about Scaredy dogs so they can help them and their families to be safe.

Please contact me for more information.

If you would like specialist , experienced 1-1 support or just a chat  with someone who understands, about your dog or one you work with, then I offer face to face meetings or a skype or electronic session then have a look at the Services. I am happy to have an initial chat and offer some general help too.

puppy nipping

Puppy nipping

I read so many pleas for help in the Breed Groups and other local dog forums  I belong to. They are responded to with well-meaning but often outdated, amateur advice, which often could be emotionally harmful for the puppy but particularly dangerous if there are children involved, which there often are. The positive ones below will ensure there is no need to scare or be unkind to your puppy.

Puppy nipping is a normal part of puppy development, and all puppies go through this stage, some more so than others. It is a way of communicating, albeit in an unsophisticated way. We find it hard to read what they are telling us subtly and so they ramp up to a full-on message giving.

I fostered (I failed, she stayed) my Lola as a result of being a particularly bad Pirhana puppy, I know exactly how it feels to have your fun, much loved, adorable puppy become some manic horrible growly being.

baby genghis
It is horrible, isn’t it?

But the thing to remember is that much of nipping is teething pain… puppy biting is pain relief … it is us that makes it a game for them by squealing and jumping around and the fun makes them feel better, takes their mind off the pain or provides a limb to bite down on for pain relief, so they play more. Like us with toothache, we feel better when we have something to occupy us, to detract from the pain, especially when the alternative is something that makes us happy or excited, releasing emotionally, the “happy hormones”. However, for pups it is just them dealing with pain, releasing that feel good emotion. So address the pain first and the need to bite, to relieve it.

How do we provide pain relief? Some great ideas are : supervised frozen carrots or other dog appropriate veg or fruit , frozen rope toys, frozen kongs or ice lollies. Try getting a sock wet it and freeze it, or use a tea towel or flannel… all these things can be swapped for what they find easily available …YOU!

Pups need CALM

LOTS of calm; a chance to chill out.

Being over tired and over stimulated is the other reason for what seems like total “manic” behaviour. Like young children without proper sleep and a calm environment for rest time puppy brains become overloaded and they get “cranky”.

Puppies need around 10-16 hours a day of sleep and calmness. This is imperative to empty out the build-up of hormones from the excitement of having fun, and exploring their world, but also to digest their food, and process their learning. Without the rest time, learning can be inhibited, and a puppy can seem to be “hard to train” or “wilful”, but mostly they are overtired and need some time to rest.

In a busy or noisy household this is difficult for them to achieve, they need us to guide them. There is a great blog on achieving calm here . Following these guidelines will significantly impact on the intensity of the biting phase.

lola resting on a table

Learning and training support
This is a really good time to learn the best way to manage a dog who is pestering or has yet to learn good manners or seems aggressive (puppies are NOT being aggressive, wilful  or dominant!) a good trainer with up to date puppy knowledge is really helpful as a specialist puppy classes.

Attention seeking

All attention is good for puppies, good or bad repercussions, they have achieved being noticed!  They want to be noticed and entertained. Unfortunately, their idea of entertainment is not in line with human expectations! we have a very high expectations of them to fit into our world and it is confusing and frustrating as it contradicts the natural being a puppy learning they have already.

If you have children or people who find the jumping and nipping challenging or who don’t understand how to consistently prevent the attention giving, then the kids bite prevention programmes are easy and fun to learn and they remove attention until the puppy offers the behaviour we find acceptable. The Doggone Safe “be a tree” programme is great .

We also highly recommend having a look at Kids Around Dogs. This is a specialist organisation which supports best practice around safety for  Kids and Dogs and is essential for families with young dogs.

Any attention is good attention for a dog, touch, eye contact and especially verbal responses, they have no idea what we are saying so they tune in to our behaviour to  work it out (more attention giving!) Being still, silent and no eye contact is boring for them, removing the attention removes the response. So ANY noise “ouch” , “squeals” , “shouting” , “shaking limbs” is all attention and worse raises the  excitement and sense of fun, and ultimately is a positive thing for them, turning their misery into great  fun, remember that fun raises happy hormones and makes them feel great!

Ignoring the behaviour for too long can create frustration and the pup will get more confised and need to up their communications.

Another person could offer a distraction with a “legal” toy or quiet and still game or calm chew. and then this will stop the behaviur, however it is not the total answer.

We used to use a system which sent the pup or you out of the room, but it is hard to get this right. The time out needs to be tiny – no more than a count of 3. it takes a while for the removal to work and causes confusion and frustration. So we would rarely use this.

We now teach a what we do want for appropriate behaviour really early on. Teeth or mouth on hands or objects does not work. Waiting a tiny time can get attention. I use the Choice Game. All trainers modify the games we use so it is based upon both Susan Garrett “its Yer Choice” and Absolute Dogs Mouse game.

You can use toys too.  The pup learns that by not engaging good stuff happens. they learn the manners you are expecting. Don’t make them wait more than a count of 3-5 at first. if there is teeth pop hnd behind back and start again. Only play when the pup is already calm and ready to work. Use their dinner as long as they are not hungry. they should never be confused or frustrated,

CALM, CALM and more CALM!
Persistent “mad” pups are usually not getting enough sleep and general rest. Pups need at least 10-16 hours or so hours each day until around 8months – 1 year old as they are growing so fast.  If your pup is not getting this, then you need to provide more nap, or rest times, we often need to proactively manage this. Teaching a dog some calm behaviour in a place that is theirs is one of the most important things we can teach them. This blog explains in detail how to achieve calm and why it is vital. .

tilly crate rest


Sometimes pups become over excited and bitey because they are understimulated. Or over stimulated in a way that is too exciting. In recent years there has been a blossoming of ways to enrich, engage and also promote learning as well as tire out all dogs.

Enrichment activities

The FB group Canine Enrichment has endless ideas, I really recommend a visit!

Snuffle mats are popular with our crew, easily made with a fluffy bathmat with a scattering or yummy crumbly food like tuna cake or crushed doggy treats or grated cheese.

We also love to recycle recycling!! Save those amazon boxes, packaging paper and bubble wrap milk bottles, little boxes, and put them all together, throw in a handful of kibbles from their dinner or a little bit of roast chicken or sausage, get a cuppa and leave them to it!

Scent games such as hiding bits of food around are much loved. There are lots of focussed scent games around on the internet now.

A Kong with different textures and tastes each time is a great resource as well as the tasting plates many new training methods include, a chance to have bite sized pieces of new foods.


A great training school is a fabulous resource, especially one which is modern games based with enrichment and confidence building focus, alongside the usual manners learning.

Some trainers now offer a pre vaccination visit to prepare for puppy classes meeting the specific needs of your family.

Some time spent learning fun games and tricks (remember the happy hormones?) and practicing manners such as recall and walk manners can be worth a good hour of physical time and is deeply relaxing and tiring.


Offer a range of interactive play time at both high energy and low energy is important and needs careful planning. Limit too many toys and use special ones for focus special toy time

FINALLY ! Routines

A routine for play, rest, food, toilet and sleep is really important, this will help all the little niggles with settling a puppy! A caution though, an over exercised , lots of run and chasing dog walk does not create tired and calm, often it can over excite


For further support please visit the Peaceful Paws FB page


Firework and Seasonal Celebration Support


My dog is scared of fireworks (and other noises) and help for other seasonal events

Why do some dogs feel firework fear?

  • For some the noise and also the concussivness of modern fireworks is scary, initiating a biological fear response.
  • This can happen any time with any dog, even if they have been ok before.
  • The “ noise” can physically cause discomfort as the dog is sensitive to the air waves, the ground conclusiveness as well as the sound . Dogs hear 4x the distance we do. They pick up higher frequencies than us and the pitch can be excruciating.
  • They are erratic and unpredictable, both within a specific display and between displays ( which now happen from October to January . They seem to stop and then start up .. often louder or a different sound . it is the unpredictability which is so scary.
  • Dogs who are easily sound spooked are more likely to become firework fearful.
  • Managed Exposure and a programme can help young dogs and puppies manage the range of novel sound better.
  • NEVER “flood” by forcing them to watch
  • The more confident the dog is in the first exposure or in subsequent ones the more “bombroof” they will be. This is true of subsequent events, the happier the dog is the easier they will cope.
  • Dogs who are generally anxious or fearful will cope less well with novel sounds.
  • Dogs with any pain or who are unwell will cope less well .
  • The emotional state in the household around this time also impacts, try to be calm and jolly, if others are responding to the noise fearfully or if there has been stress and anxiety generally could add to the anxiety.
  • What does fear look like ?
    A dogs trust survey found 72% of dogs were adversely affected with 10 % seriously impacted.

What does canine fear and anxiety ( stress) look like?

  •  Lip licking, yawning
  • Panting when no exercise or not over heated
  • Refusing food
  • Being “naughty” or “stubborn” (refusing to listen or obey)
  • Very flighty or over excited, easily goes “over the top”
  • Trembling , shaking or drooling
  • Barking whining howling
  • Clingy, or wanting to hide away
  • Seeking touch when usually not keen to be handled or refusing touch when usually snugly
  • Cowering
  • Being destructive
  • Urinating defecating or vomiting for no obvious cause

Learn to read what is usual for your dog. What is their normal behaviour or response to the environment, what is their default like? Learn to read body language .

How can we help?

You cannot reinforce fear by offering appropriate support, If your dog seeks comfort give it, if they seek solitude enable it with your support .

  • Make sure all health conditions are under control, both physical and emotional , pain can impact fear thresholds . Get a vet check , especially ears.
  • Make a Plan
  • Get the whole family and any friends and neighbours involved. Share the plan so everyone knows .
  • Check up on local displays and note the times and days. Local FB groups can be helpful here. If you know local neighbours always have a party or use them on other winter occasions visit and explain if possible and ask for some warning so you can put your plan into action.
  • Change your walk plan if you usually walk in the evening in the winter. Go during the daylight hours (before 16:00 ) or early morning. If this is not possible then miss walks for a few days around this time – don’t be caught out it could have a detrimental impact.
  • If you have to go out use a double lead on collar and harness in case dogs slips out in their fear and flight. Do not let off lead at all.
  • If you have low gates and fences make sure you go into the garden on a lead … try and get the after dinner poo and pee done early, feed early (or use in games … see below)
  • Try not to leave your dog home alone, if this is not possible then make sure your plan includes how you will enable them to be safe without your support. Or arrange for a sitter who knows the plan
  • Plan for being engaged with your dog on the main display days (this is usually between 17:00 and 23:00 )

What to include in your plan

calm games snuffle box


Some music –

Consider a therapeutic option – remember there will be a range of what your dogs may respond to, what works for one will not for another, this is because their emotion is different in each case.



  • Bach rescue remedy – very effective for most animals (including us) it is not necessary to have the more extensive dog version. It works with fear of both known and unknown origin and shock.
    Botanical selections, specifically oils.
  • BE CAREFUL – do not vaporise, do not add to the dog, or its bedding (use a separate cloth the dog can choose to engage with
  • make sure there is an exit.
  • Do not use with children under 3 or pups under 6 months.

G self selection powders



Other options

  • consult a vet for clinical support
  • zyclene is often recommended by vets as is nutricalm. ask your vet for information.
  • Tranquil Blend by Hedgerow hounds can help if given a loading  dose usually several weeks
  • skullcap and valerian and st johns wort from Dorwest can also be useful, needing a loading  time of several weeks.

For any further help please contact me: @peacefulpawstherapy (FB)


Virtual Consultations


After a many requests and a good deal of successful voluntary electronic support across the UK and indeed globe I have decided to offer a virtual service.

The Electronic Consultation  can cover Training, Therapy or Integrated  Training and Bach/Distance Reiki and Healing).

Following  an in depth written consultation from the Guardian, there will be a discussion around the issues raised. This can be done in a format chosen by the Client, including: email, Skype, Personal Message, WhatsApp or phone.

The initial Consultation will take around and hour for planning and up to an hour discussion at an agreed time. Following this we will put a plan together to initiate the Training and or Therapy.

There will be an open contact via email or PM throughout the following week where the client can share success and further challenge, including video and photos.

There will be 3 following formal  weekly checki-ns; at each the progress will be assessed and the plan modified as needed.

There will be an option for booking further ongoing support.

In some cases (within 1 hour drive of Taunton) it may be useful for a meet up in person. Travel expenses will be charged .


  • This service is not suitable for deep behaviour issues and any that seem outside the remit of this service will be referred to a Behaviourist.
  • Common training issues can be covered.
  • Without the personal input , in line with the agreed plan,  progress will be limited.
  • Some needs can not be supported electronically in some cases,.


llw focus meme