Milo's Dog Training

Dog training in Hampshire, Surrey & Berkshire

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Goodbye, Milo!


Milo. 18.04.2006 – 08.02.2018.

Almost a month ago Milo left us. It was sort of expected, but still sudden. He died in hospital after an emergency operation to remove some bits of plastic toys from his stomach. We have been prepared to say “goodbye” for quite some time because he has gone downhill over the past few months. His dementia had been getting worse by the day. We knew we were going to make the decision to put him to sleep soon: to spare him suffering from being confused and for our daughter’s safety, as he had shown aggression towards her. However, Milo decided to take matters into his own paws, and I am glad it happened this way. I will be honest and admit that it is also a relief. It had become very difficult in the last few months because of the safety concerns. I was under a lot of pressure to keep a constant eye on Milo and Sonya (who is two and can’t be trusted to keep her distance). I only wish we had a chance to say a proper “goodbye”.

We miss Milo a lot here and we will always miss him. He had been a part of our family ever since my husband and I moved out of our parents’ houses and moved into our first flat. We were eighteen and nineteen, and Milo was eight months old. Milo had been with us all our adult lives. He moved with us (twice across the Atlantic) and shared our ice creams (guilty!), our travels and, at some point, even our bed. He kept us warm in our first (very poorly insulated) flat in England. He was there when we brought home our daughter. Milo had been the reason I decided to become a certified dog trainer, and he probably taught me more than my dog training course. He was stubborn, independent, sometimes very annoying but always loving and loved. It had been almost a month, but I still sometimes expect him to be there – snoring on the sofa when I come downstairs in the morning. The house just seems too empty without a dog.

We will always remember our Milo.

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Three Quick & Easy Changes To Improve Your Dog’s Behaviour

Sometimes, you put up with some really annoying behaviour simply because fixing it it seems like too much to do. You might not know where to start or which method to choose. You might not have the time or the energy to invest. So I have decided to share these three quick and easy changes you can make straight away – no preparation, no learning, no researching. These are small changes with big effects. Now, don’t get me wrong, some issues do require a lot of time and effort, but do start with the small changes and it might just be enough.

Have treats ready. Put a bowl of treats in every room and get a treat pouch to carry some with you when you go for a walk. This way you will always be ready to reward good behaviour. No need to do “training sessions”, best training opportunities happen as you get on with your normal life.

Make a habit of ignoring rude behaviour. Your dog barks, begs, demands to play – ignore it. Catch yourself before you say “No!”, “Stop it!”or, worse, pick up a toy. Don’t reinforce rudeness.

Add 10 minutes to your usual walk. Tired dogs are good. You can use this extra time to do a bit of training or to change your usual way. Your dog will appreciate some new smells or some extra bonding time with you.

Small changes will add up overtime and you will see that your dog is more content and better behaved. (If you are looking for solutions for specific issues, check out “Training Resources” page or contact me).


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Canine dementia: Milo’s case

img_6008_smallMy aim in writing this post is not to educate, but to share my personal experience hoping that it may help someone looking for answers. Milo was officially diagnosed with canine cognitive dysfunction in July 2015 when we decided it was time to deal with his puzzling symptoms. Getting a referral to a pet behaviorist Dr.Jon Bowen at the Royal Veterinary College was part of our preparations for the arrival of our daughter due a couple of months later.


Milo had his first anxiety attack in November 2012. It was triggered by me leaving on holiday after several months of being home with him most of the time. Milo was six years old at the time. After this first episode, he was fine for about a year and a half, and then he started having anxiety attacks up to several times per months.

The anxiety/panic attack would usually start at night some time between one and three. Milo’s symptoms included obsessive digging, scratching at our bedroom door, crying, panting and breathing heavily, a vacant look, restlessness and head shaking. He literally needed to climb onto our heads to calm down just a little bit. Sometimes we had to let him into our bed to get any sleep or to sleep with him on the sofa downstairs.


After a few episodes we sought advice from his vet, who suggested we try Zylkene, Selgian and Diazepam (to use when we are desperate). Although there was some improvement, we could not say it was reliable. As a result Milo was referred to the RVC. Dr.Bowen administered a questionnaire to assess Milo’s cognitive function, which turned out to be within the normal range. We were not surprised as we have not noticed any confusion in him. However, Dr.Bowen was convinced that his anxiety attacks were due to his ageing brain and this was just a less typical case of canine cognitive dysfunction. We were to stop Selgian and to replace it with Fluoxitine (anti-depressant) and Activait (a supplement). This scheme seemed to help for a while, but then Milo’s attacks became more frequent again after almost a year of relative stability. I do not know what triggered it – possibly our daughter becoming more mobile. Regardless of the cause, we decided it was time for a follow-up with Dr.Bowen. He listened to our concerns and suggested we add Melacutin (melatonin) to help regulate Milo’s circadian rhythm and coconut oil as another supplement. This was about 6 months ago, and I am pleased to say Milo has had just a couple of minor anxiety episodes since then.

Living with canine dementia

A major issue with Milo is that his self-control is getting worse and worse. This is partly due to the illness and partly due to the side effects of his medication. He cannot resist food (before he would not think of stealing when we are seating right there) and he steals toys. Of course, I absolutely cannot trust him around our daughter. So to make it more manageable we put up a playpen\room divider around his bed.

Overall, however, we are very lucky. We have not seen any confusion or have not had any toilet accidents. It is still very hard emotionally, and I have to constantly remind myself that Milo’s behaviour is not his or my fault, but a result of his illness. It must be very hard for him too. I just hope that the treatment will delay the progression of canine cognitive dysfunction for as long as possible and that Milo will be enjoying himself for years to come.

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Which type of dog lead is the best?

Choosing the right type of lead/leash is as important for dog training as choosing the right type of shoes for running. The wrong type of lead may teach your dog to pull, injure your hands, your dog or other dogs, or even get your dog lost. Leads differ by type, length and material. I will describe the most popular types and the ones I think are useful for a regular dog owner. There are also numerous special use leads, such as the ones used for dog show handling or for canicross, but I won’t cover them as I am not an expert and most people don’t need them.

Types of dog leads

Extending\retractable lead


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If you have one of these and if your dog pulls on the lead, is reactive/aggressive or just large and bouncy, stop reading and go put in the bin. These leads are OK to use with smaller well-behaved dogs.

Regular lead


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These can be made from nylon, leather or rope-like material and usually range from 1m to 1.5m (standard 5ft) in length and come in various width. They can be very cheap (thin nylon) or quite expensive (leather with a fancy design). To be honest, I find most of them quite uncomfortable and never use them, but most people do, so it might be worth a try. I only ever use the cheapest thinnest 1m lead, when a dog needs to wear one at home for training or behaviour management purposes.

Adjustable lead (my favourite!)




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This type of lead can be adjusted to be a bit shorter or longer and is also useful when you need to secure a dog somewhere (e.g. to a fence or a table). This one pictured is by Hunter and it is my personal favourite. It is just the right length (2 meters longest), made from soft round leather so it doesn’t hurt my hands and lasts years of daily use in all kinds of English weather. I am not being paid bu Hunter or any of the shops that sell it, I just really like it and have been using it for years. It is available from Zooplus and Bitiba.

Training lead 



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This is essentially just a very long lead, usually 15 meters long. If you have a puppy, a new rescue dog or a dog that has not yet mastered a recall, you need this one. It will allow you to give your dog a bit more freedom (use it if you are tempted to buy an extending lead). If you’re a bit more confident, you can just drop it on the ground and practice recall.







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How to prepare for a baby when you have a dog

Dogs generally don’t like change, and a new strange family member is the biggest change that could happen to them. Changes in the new mother’s appearance, smell, mood and behaviour, a sudden drop in attention available for the dog, countless visitors, sleepless nights and other disturbances to the usual way of life are all sources of stress for the dog. Any behavioural issues will likely be made worse by the stress, and you can expect new problems emerging. I will share a few practical tips on how to prepare for  your baby’s arrival as a dog owner.

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Back in Business

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It has been a long time since I updated this blog – I took time off to focus on caring for my daughter Sonya, whom we welcomed to our family just over a year ago. This was a huge change for Milo too, and it was interesting to see how his attitude towards Sonya was changing from complete indifference to curiosity to annoyance. Just before Sonya was born Milo was diagnosed with canine dementia. It is under control with medication, but it certainly makes life more challenging for Milo and for us. So there has been a lot going on and I am looking forward to sharing my experience and knowledge with my readers.

I am now ready to get back to work and will be taking on new clients. It would be nice to hear updates from my former clients too!



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Words Your Dog Does Not Understand

Cartoon by Gary Larson.

Cartoon by Gary Larson.

This post is prompted by my observations of dog owners and how they communicate with their dogs. As humans we talk, and we talk a lot. Overtime dogs learn to ignore most of our neverending blah-blah-blah. However if you want your dog to pay attention and do what you ask, make sure you don’t repeat these five common mistakes.

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