Key, Rey and Kyla 'sit and stay'

The importance of bond building in dog training

Pet Corner

Jolly good…behaving badly

An upside of APAA, the association for the protection of animals in the Algarve, is their Pop-Ups. A virtual cornucopia of goodies, themed or not. Our host Jolly Bar Alvor always a success. Anita Wight, fondly dubbed ‘Pop-Up Queen’, said: “Getting the stall set up and ready is always fun! There are always loads of stuff to unpack, so anyone who is interested in helping is welcome!” Pop-Ups are convivial, with refreshments on hand. Why not check the next one out?

Jenny Clarke, President, APAA, and Anita Wight, Pop-Up Queen

A downside is having to rescue ill-treated animals that have been abused or abandoned for one reason or another. “But that is what we are here for!” Jenny Clarke, president of APAA, is a realist. “That we have to be here at all is a statement in itself.” Sad but true. Luckily, APAA has a network, as small as it may be, of people who are on call to lend a helping hand. “Sometimes we need advice, or practical help, from ‘behavioural experts’. People who understand the way dogs work and function within our homes and community,” Jenny adds.

Jag, Fig and Key ‘boundary games’

As a child brought up in Africa, Gail Skinner is such a person, having been in the animal world for many years. “Dog training has evolved. The general consensus, 50 years ago or more, was to drag, jerk, manhandle, or shout at your dog. In this way, they were never taught or trained. This lack of understanding causes behavioural problems, physical and psychological. With domination, cruelty creeps in. To train an animal to do something, which, to be honest, is not always natural for them to do, requires bond building. Our relationship with animals takes understanding and time.”

Jag focus exercise
Jag focus exercise

Gail’s Border Collie ‘Key’ is a Medical Alert Assistance Dog. “Patience is key,” she smiles, “using what motivates your dog, a tasty treat or a toy, as an incentive to work together.” Training, using a marking system, encourages the dog by being congratulated and rewarded. “Repetition, patience, reward.”

The alternative, as Gail points out, is horrendous. “Dogs chained up, abandoned, or even put-down for a lack of patience, a piece of grilled sausage, a toy… The bonding between owner and dog is important. Watching a dog come alive, using its brain, solving a problem, learning new things is such a reward. For both of you!” Clearly, with love and training, dog and owner will enjoy a long and happy friendship.

 APAA: info.apaaportugal@gmail.com | www.apaaportugal.com

Gail Skinner keyawesomedogs@gmail.com, www.awesome-dogs.com

Find us all on Facebook! Interested in hosting a poster? Or a Pop-Up? Volunteer?

Charity Shops:

  • Alvor, Dunas Complex, Monday-Saturday, 10.30am-2pm
  • Silves, Rua Elias Garcias 20, Monday-Saturday, 10am-2pm.

Loads of stuff to buy. We need good quality items too!