Top dog

• Bev Watterson with her West Highland terrier George. Photo by Jenny D’Anger.

BEING top dog to your dog is vital if you want a well behaved pooch, says East Fremantle dog trainer Bev Watterson.

If a dog is confused about the pecking order in its household, it can exhibit a range of “bad” behaviours including barking incessantly, destroying things, stealing food, not coming when called, digging up the garden and pulling on the lead.

“The pecking order is important,” Mrs Watterson says.

“Whoever is allowed to set the rules and make the decisions is the leader. The rest are followers.”

Mrs Watterson splits her time between East Freo and Augusta, and trains dogs pretty much everywhere in-between.

A while back she caravanned around Australia for 11 years with her husband and came across plenty of badly behaved dogs, particularly those that constantly bark.

Using her own perfectly behaved West Highland white terrier, she began showing people they could achieve the same.

After settling back in WA, Mrs Watterson took one more trip to Victoria to become an accredited trainer with Alpha Canine Group.

The training does not reward good behaviour with treats, instead relying on pats, cuddles and clear communication.

“People don’t know how to communicate with their dogs: if a dog’s barking they are doing the same when they yell, ‘Don’t do that!’”

Dogs are quick to learn that good behaviour gets them the praise and attention they crave, Mrs Watterson says.

“Sing your dog’s name and when he comes to you go insane with pats and hugs. If your dog is giving something to you, you have to pay it back.”

Mrs Watterson’s training sessions are held at the dog’s home and take just two days.

If there’s a relapse, follow-up sessions are free for the following 12 months. For more information phone or text Bev on 0419 381 111.

By JENNY D’ANGER

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