Agility Dog Training ~ avec Michelle Johnston

Agility pour tous les Chiens.

About Me and My Dogs

         Michelle Johnston  

I have always had dogs and I have trained them all of my life.   It's something I find natural and I enjoy watching how dogs transform while they learn.


My qualifications:


I am an Instructor of: 


* Agility 


I train agility instructors so they have a good knowledge of the different training methods.

* Obedience.
* Clicker Training.

Dog psychologist (behaviourist)


Agility judge


Hoopers trainer                               

I  live in a the countryside, in  a quiet village in Brittany 

where I have the space I need to welcome dogs and their owners.

           

  At the moment, I have seven dogs.   Yes, some of them just take up space on the settee, but they ALL have  very active lives and enjoy walks, games, and learning new things.    I do demonstrations which involves dancing, and heelwork.  My dog  has to move with me, to music, and execute certain moves such as him walking on two legs (I can already do this! ) 

I am passionate about agility, and compete regularly in France and UK up to championship level.   I have been teaching agility for many years, and love to see how dogs and owners learn to work as a team. 

Hoopers is relatively new to France, and is a sport that is similar to Agility in that dogs follow a course, guided by a handler.  I  have several agility students that also enjoy hoopers and the two sports complement each other in training and handling techniques.

  Because agility is a sport practised off the lead, owners and dogs need a close bond and to have done lots of previous training to ensure their dog is very obedient. 

During my years of training in  clubs in France and the UK I see that the need for a different kind of training is long overdue. 

I am also a dog psychologist and  am constantly looking at how dogs react in certain situations and what makes them tick.   I  have always known that dogs love to learn new things.   Training is a way of doing just that.  But it's  the type of training that makes all the difference.   This knowledge is the basis of my diagnosing problems and finding solutions to behavioural problems.  Again, good basic training is such a help and helps to avoid these problems in the first place.  But fun training is what makes people more inclined to continue.

 Therefore I have decided to offer what I hope is a more enjoyable way of learning for dogs and their owners in a relaxed and friendly setting.

 

There is no escaping the fact that basic training is the most important thing you and your dog can learn.   But it doesn't have to be such hard work that once a basic training course is finished, dog owners have had enough!   Training with me will be fun because I will always consider the needs of your dog.

I love dogs.!     I especially love well behaved dogs.   I like my own dogs to behave well when we go out.

Wouldn't you like the same thing?         

                       

 

 

My family of Dogs


 

Phoebe

Phoebe originally also came from the SPA as a puppy and it was just a lot of coincindences that she ended up in our house.  She is small and gentle, and though you wouldn't think to look at her, her mother was a cocker spanial.    This may not show in her looks but it certainly shows in her endless energy, obsession with playing ball, love of swimming and the ability to run at full speed with her nose 1 cm from the ground with her tail wagging non stop. She has a natural ability for search and rescue and can find anything, anywhere once told what it is.  She is relentless in a search, and nothing stops her once she is on a mission.  Brambles, nettles, walls, water, if she believes what she is looking for is there, she won't stop until she succeeds in finding it.  I have never known her to fail yet.  She once found a frisbee which had been lost for several days  under 30 cm of snow.  I showed her the other frisbee and asked her to look and off she went, working the field in sections until she started digging,and presented me with the frisbee.

    She did compete very successfully, though if she had to choose agility over playing ball, swimming or running, agility would not by high on her list.    She is also retired, though with her endless energy and high drive, she is still considered part of the 'young dog pack' in the house.     She still does some agillity at home.    Phoebe has more patience than any of our dogs, and is Quizz's adopted aunty.    

 
 
 

Quizz

Quizz is always smiling.   I mean, always!     He really enjoys learning things and knows so many things.   Recently I taught him to open and close a cupboard door, and when he learns anything he likes to do it - a LOT.  All that evening we could hear the cupboard door repeatedly opening, and then slamming shut !   

He competed at the highest level in agility and also has a very large repetoire of tricks. He has done many dance routine demonstrations and enjoyed the crowds applause!   He started his agility career and in the second year he qualified for the French championships!.  He has impressed me with his success, winning the regional cup and overall winner beating every other dog in the pays de la loire.   He also finished 17th in France in the GPF final.   Unfortunately last year Quizz had an accident which left him paralised. We did many months of physio and hydrotherapy, and he is now walking, against the vets prognosis. He is happy, and enjoying life, and still enjoying walks, swimming, and playing ball.  He has recently taken up Hoopers to replace agility, and is proving that he has not lost any of his directional skills. In many ways, his life has improved since his accident, and it hasn't made him feel left out or different.  He is still the same Quizz he always was.  

 

Bundle
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bundle is a pyreneen sheepdog.  I believe it was really our destiny to be together.  She had a very different start in life to my other dogs.   She was born into a pack of feral dogs  living in the pyrenees.  They weren't cared for or fed, and had no contact with humans so they were all essentially wild.  Not surprisingly, they were all starving and the authorities were sent to capture the pack, and remove them from the outbuildings and remote farm where they were living.
It took quite some time for volunteers to feed, and get close enough to the dogs to catch them, but after a few months, they were eventually all taken into kennels, or foster homes, where they were put up for adoption.    Obviously, finding someone who would be brave (or stupid !) enough to take on a feral pyreneen sheepdog was difficult in itself.
I had been sort of looking for a new challenge and had half promised myself a pyreneen one day, because I love the breed,  but when I heard of the possibility of taking a feral dog, taming it, and then training it, my interest was piqued somewhat.     I had many doubts,  and who wouldn't?  But I was so intrigued, that within a short time I agreed to give her a trial.   After some organising, with voluteers agreeing to meet me (Bundle was on the other side of the country) and bring Bundle to a drop off point, I made the journey to pick her up.
The terrified wild creature in the cage was not what I expected.   I expected timid, or shy, but this dog was crazed with fear.   We tried to get her from one cage to another and into my car, but she bucked, and flew into the air, and we almost lost her before I had even got a look at her !    We left her where she was!   The cage came with her in it.  We simply could not handle her.
 
 
That was five years ago now, and I absolutely love this dog.   Yes, she is still difficult.  Yes, she is hard, and strong willed, and you can't force her to do anything if she doesn't want to.   But she is so smart, and has such a kind side, and she is naughty in a fun way.   Her puppy hood which she never had, is happening now, and a joy to see.   She has evolved before our eyes.   She competes in agility too, and has qualified  already three times for the French championship.  Maybe my proudest achievement is that she has also qualified for Crufts.  I never would have expected such success from such a wild dog. 
She is brilliant at tricks and loves to show how clever she is, but touching her is still an ongoing problem.    Mostly I can handle her almost as much as the other dogs, but sudden grabs, or surprises would have her dashing off to a safe distance. 
 
Nonetheless, whatever happens, Bundle is here to stay.  
 
 
 
Bundle just before capture (6 months old) 
 
 
 Bundle at 20 months old.  In her own garden.

 
 
 
Moose
 
Moose is the third dog I have from the same pedigree line.  He is a marvellous dog.  Always friendly, and easy going.  He has been a lovely dog to train, and his agility career is going well. 
He has some very comic moments, and likes to try headstands !  He is always smiling, and he is really a dream dog to own. 


Reacher

Reacher is my youngest dog.  
She is related to Moose and is showing great potential in agility.  
She is lovely to live with, and great fun all day, every day !  :)  
She gets on with everyone, and is a pleasure to own, and train. 


 

Bali
Bali was an x breeding bitch who was adopted when her breeding life ended.    But the dog who she then lived with made her feel a bit unhappy, so she came to me.   Ironically, though I have many more and bigger dogs than what she was used to, she has fitted in well, and in true chihuahua style, now believes she is top dog.! 


Butch
Of all my dogs, I think Butch has had the saddest life.  He belonged to someone who kept him in a dark cellar for possibly his whole life. He was only rescued when the fire service believed there may be a dead body inside the house after complaints about the smell.   Inside they found this little dog in a terrible state and very underweight.  Butch was 14 years old when I adopted him from the rescue centre last year.  In spite of his past life,  he is now in good health although totally deaf and with poor eye sight.    Perhaps not surprisingly, he is also pyschologically rather damaged, and is rather autistic, so he is sometimes difficult to connect with.  But he is clearly very  happy now , and the novelty of having the freedom to go in and out of the garden when he wants seems never to wear thin and he spends rather a lot of time trotting around the garden wagging his tail.  

 
With some of the dogs 
 



 

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