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Ingrid Grayling - CLA Magazine

Ingrid Grayling
Professional dog trainer & active holidays for dogs

First Published in the CLA Magazine February 2012
Good dogs made better by Ingrid Grayling

With the lambing season just around the corner and the spring weather set to burst out from the cold dark winter, many country lovers and avid walkers will be planning and looking forward to a season of country walks, and for some, a chance to get out in drier weather (we hope!) with their faithful four legged friends for lengthy walks in the beautiful countryside.

It is however the thought of spring and the fields full of sheep and lambs that can bring a feeling of dread and apprehension to many dog owners with the fear of uncertainty of how their dogs will behave on these anticipated walks.

For Cumbrian based professional dog trainer and dog behaviourist, Ingrid Grayling, lambing season is a busy time bringing a steady stream of enquiries by dog owners who fear for the safety of their pets when the fields become full of sheep and lambs. Ingrid says “Although pet dogs have been domesticated for a long time they have not lost their basic instincts including a strong predatory drive to chase. All dogs have a natural hunting instinct and although some dogs may not show this day to day it can become apparent given the right, or should we say wrong, set of circumstances. When it does it can be terrifying and worrying not only for the dog owner but also the farmer and the livestock”.

Dogs are just demonstrating their natural instincts and the urge to chase can take hold of even the most docile of breeds. Ingrid often meets dog owners who say that their dogs have never chased or worried livestock before so they cannot understand why this has suddenly happened. Her reply is very direct, and always the same, it is nature! It doesn’t mean that their dog is an aggressive animal, which is often a concern; it just means that they are responding to their natural instincts. Ingrid believes it is vitally important to be able to train the owner to train the dog so that they can calmly and confidently handle any situation and prevent unfortunate incidents before they occur.

Chasing and worrying livestock is not acceptable in our society, and quite rightly so, it can be life threatening for both the chased and the chaser. Under The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, a dog that worries, attacks or chases livestock could mean that the owners are faced with a hefty fine, compensation and possibly a destruction order. Not only that, a farmer has a legal right to act if they see an uncontrolled dog pursuing an animal on their land. With the increasing financial pressures being put on farming enterprises, they can't be blamed for trying to prevent their sheep being injured or killed. Increasingly, this means having a zero tolerance approach to dogs running wild, even if the owners are present and frantically trying to recall their pets. This is a situation that no-one wants to be caught up in, and one which can be totally avoided with the right knowledge and skills.

It is therefore essential that our dogs are taught how to behave around livestock and that their owners have full control of them at all times. Whilst it is acknowledged that dogs should be kept on leads when livestock are present, there is always the possibility of a stray animal suddenly appearing especially, if like many dog owners and Ingrid in particular, who says she likes to walk way up onto the fells in the more remote areas where unexpected animals often appear.

Ingrid goes on to say “it is important to recognise that most dogs accused of sheep worrying are not killers but simply like to chase. To many owners it can feel like a major problem but there are simple ways of teaching a dog to control his predatory drive around livestock. There are also ways of reinforcing control of a dog when it’s in the chase”. Many owners are surprised when Ingrid goes on to explain that there are different stages of livestock worrying. She says that it is not just a case of one method works for all, each dog has its own issues and Ingrid uses her professional knowledge and experience to help identify this, then she will propose the best and most effective way of equipping the owners with the skills to train their dogs not only short term but enabling them to continue with a lifetime of control.

Over the years Ingrid has encountered many dogs that are classed as “livestock chasers or worriers” the two most common are what she calls ‘chasers’ and ‘born killers’. Chasers react to animals only when those animals move. There will be times when they will quite happily walk past livestock and providing nothing moves they will continue on their walk without incident. This type of dog is very common and owners often mistake their behaviour as “playful”. Once they have caught the sheep they may only try to nip at the heels and legs stock but generally they don’t cause major injuries. It’s the chase they actually enjoy most and often if they catch the animal they then lose interest. These owners and dogs can be easily trained to rectify this issue with skills that will last a lifetime.

Dogs she classes as ‘born killers’ are more of challenge as the killer instinct is a strong one and she believes cannot be always trained out of them, only controlled. But with the right skills both these dogs and owners can have many years of problem free walking. They require a higher level of training and management with a huge commitment from the owners at the early stages, but as Ingrid goes on to say she have found over the years that once she have trained the owners with the right skills to control their dogs calmly and confidently both they and their dogs progress.

Like many of you, Ingrid takes great pleasure in walking across fields and fells with her faithful Labradors off their leads and the sight of both wildlife and farm animals grazing peacefully in the fields and woods is all part of the experience. But to do this Ingrid insists and strongly believes in having the dogs under “controlled freedom” – it may sound contradictory but it basically means that the dogs run freely (where allowed of course) but always under full control. It is a common occurrence to see many dogs arrive at her boarding kennels for training that have never been off the lead as the owners are fearful of allowing accidents with livestock to happen. Once Ingrid has worked through the training, the owners not only have a better understanding of their dog but they go away with the knowledge that they can allow their dog freedom when out walking at all times, and for a dog owner there is no better feeling and peace of mind.

Blendbetter Carlisle. Blendbetter Pet Foods, Westlinton, Carlisle. CA6 6AA. 01228 791608
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Blendbetter Carlisle. Blendbetter Pet Foods, Westlinton, Carlisle. CA6 6AA.
We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. If you continue to use our site we will assume you consent to us using cookies in this way. More Information
Website By StevenAskew.co.uk