Friday, 2 March 2018

A New Focus

Apparently I still have a blog page! I'd forgotten about it in the three year baby-induced hiatus, but I'm all set for a return to Monkey Mutts in April 2018, so perhaps now is the time to pick it up and begin wittering on about all things dog-related again?

So what's been happening in the interim? Well, I had two babies (Thomas, 3.5 years and Ernie, almost 2 years old), closed down the business as I needed to focus on them, and thought at one point I'd never open it again. But here we are, three years later, and mum and I have been busy concocting a new direction for Monkey Mutts. Over the years I've been running classes, first as Four Paws One Direction and more recently as Monkey Mutts, I've offered a huge variety of different types of classes, from basic puppy and obedience-type training through to activities classes and agility, to rehab classes, recall training, clicker training, kids classes and lots in between. All were a joy to teach, and as I was trying to run things as a full time business I had the hours to dedicate to offering a wide variety. But the reality of doing this with two small children to care for means that this time around, my free time is a lot more limited, and so we needed to narrow our focus on to the things we do best, and the things that fit in best with the time available. And so our new specialism was born: dog activities classes. We want to offer something active that any one can take part in, young or old alike, for dogs of any breed, for people enthusiastic to do something fun with their pets. 

Anyone who knows mum and I knows we're super passionate about 'doing things' with our dogs! We love it, we really do. There's nothing better than the sense of teamwork you get from doing something new with your dog, the satisfaction from mastering a new skill, the joy from seeing how much fun your canine partner is having. And so that's what we want to bring to you; our favourite bits of our favourite activities. We won't be offering Agility anymore as we haven't got the regular hours to put in to teaching that, but instead we will be offering our own brand of non-competitive pet activity classes, suitable for all, through Dogtivities. And mum and I will shortly be completing the Scentwork UK recognised trainer qualification, so in the Autumn of 2018 we'll also be bringing you another great activity that we're super passionate about - Nose Work. We're so excited about both of these offerings, and will be pouring all of our attention in to these two things so that we can bring you the best quality classes around. And our shed full of equipment is just bursting to be opened and used again!

The new Dogtivities classes launch in April, and we've devised an exciting outdoor Spring/Summer programme of activities, as well as an indoor Autumn/Winter medley of fun. For more details see the website.  

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Jumping skills - often forgotten?

So we all know that dogs can jump. But that doesn't mean that they know how to jump well! Every dog can throw itself over a log in the woods, or manage an ungainly leap up onto the sofa, but that doesn't mean that they have the skills in place to jump efficiently and effectively at Agility training, and so it falls to us to put effort into teaching them these skills if we wish to give them the best chance of jumping successfully and safely (because good jumping skills are important in ensuring the safety of our dogs). Sadly these jumping basics are often forgotten or overlooked in Agility classes, and perhaps this is something we should spend more time concentrating on, given that an Agility course is primarily composed of jumps?

So what are we talking about when we talk about jumping skills?
What are we trying to teach our dogs? We're trying to teach them to read and understand the path they must take through the jumps, to judge the distance between the jumps, to pick an appropriate take off spot, to transfer their weight to their hindquarters, to judge the angle of elevation needed to clear the jump, and lastly to judge the height of the jump (but this is the least important bit as it's the easiest to produce if the dog understands all the other bits!!).

And how do we go about teaching all this?
Well, here we must look to the equestrian world for inspiration, as the show jumpers spend many hours teaching their horses how to jump well (and perhaps we'd spend longer on it if we had to be strapped to the back of our dogs!!). The leading light at transferring this information from show jumping to Agility is trainer Susan Salo who has produced a great range of DVDs that show us how, we just need to invest a bit of time into following the exercises through.

Want to give it a go with your dog?
Come and join us! Monkey Mutts is running a Beginners and Advanced Jumping Skills and Grids session on Saturday 14th September in our field in Camerton, near Bath. More details on our website!

The Beginners session is open to complete newbies who have never done agility before but think they might like to give it a go, or to dogs who have done some agility but haven't done much specific grid work before.

The Advanced session is open to those Agility dogs who have done some previous Grids work and would like to push on and challenge their dog's jumping skills.

Happy jumping!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Monkey Mutts is born!

Hello one and all! So it's been a busy 18 months for me; I sadly closed Four Paws One Direction to move to Bristol to move in with my boyfriend, my boyfriend is now my husband, and we're about to move back to the area to buy my family home off of my parents, allowing me the opportunity to get back into dog training again, and so Monkey Mutts has been born! Phew, its been hectic! 

Anyway, watch this space as further details of the launch of Monkey Mutts appear (named after my little spaniel Whirligig who is my 'little monkey'!). I'm very excited, I hope you will be too.

Wags and kisses,
Shelley and Whirligig