This week, we’re celebrating the life and teachings of Barbara Woodhouse, the world renowned, no-nonsense dog trainer, who died 30 years ago at the age of 78.
Best recognised for her trademark call “walkies,” Woodhouse shot to fame during the 1970s, and was a staple on late ’70s/80s TV with her hit show Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way. In fact, she pretty much pioneered the ‘infotainment’ genre, paving the way for today’s animal shows fronted by the likes of Cesar Millan (Dog Whisperer), Noel Fitzpatrick (Supervet) and Paul O’Grady (For the Love of Dogs). She also released the bestselling book No Bad Dogs, The Woodhouse Way, which was commonly regarded as a dog owner’s bible.
As well as her personality, Woodhouse is well remembered for her belief that any dog can be trained, and that there is no such thing as a ‘problem dog’. She believed instead that ”tone of voice, telepathy and a little bit of loving” are what is necessary to turn a dog around and get a hold on their behaviour.
At the height of fame, she is said to have received over 400 letters per day from owners thanking her for her help and advice. Now, she is remembered for her harsh training methods, and further research has found that positive reinforcement is a far better technique in dog training, often having far more effective results. In spite of this, her immense body of work has left a significant legacy and, in honour of this, here’s what we think are Barbara Woodhouse’s 5 best dog training tips.
The Woodhouse Way: Top 5 Dog Training Tips
“I have caught more ills from people sneezing over me and giving me virus infections than from kissing dogs.”
Ok, so not strictly a training tip, but we’ve never heard anything so true!
We spend all day getting far too close to our dogs and have never caught anything from them so far (fingers crossed). In fact, if anything, they make us feel a whole load better.
Thinking of all the germs and bacteria on public transport, we’d be far happier snuggled up with our furry friends any day!
“There is no such thing as a difficult dog, only an inexperienced owner.”
As MPs consider revising the Dangerous Dog Act 1991 to help prevent the unjust deaths of innocent dogs, perhaps they could learn from the teachings of Ms. Woodhouse.
Here at Tailster, we believe that no dog is intrinsically bad – it’s all in the training. No dog is born a problem, and any dog, if nurtured and shown love and compassion, can be turned around.
Perhaps that’s why one police officer is calling for dog awareness classes to be made mandatory for inexperienced owners…
“You need eyes that tell the dog who watches them what you are feeling toward it, even though the message may be hidden from the outside world. Above all, you nee telepathy so that the dog thinks with you. These things are not always born in people. They can be developed as any sense or gift can be developed.”
Although notorious for being firm, you can’t deny that Barbara Woodhouse understood the relationship between dogs and their owners.
From introducing them to their new home, to training them to walk off lead and eat a healthier diet, dogs rely on their owners to give them direction. In fact, a healthy relationship between dog and owner involves the dog knowing that their owner is in charge.
People often say that owners eventually start to look like their dogs, and they may be on to something – with a bit of training, dogs begin to mirror their owners thoughts! So, that explains why we form such close bonds with our pets…
“I believe that animals have been talking to human beings ever since we were all made and put into this world.”
We’re all guilty of talking to our dogs, and we’d love to believe that they talk to us too…
Well, maybe they do! Once we’ve established routines with our dogs, they develop expectations, and woe betide you if you should let things slip.
Of course, dogs don’t speak to us verbally. Instead, they use their body language to communicate their needs to us humans.
“Dogs understand your moods and your thoughts, and if you are thinking unpleasant things about your dog, he will pick it up and be downhearted.”
It’s important to remember that, while none of these theories seem revolutionary now, Barbara Woodhouse was saying all of this 30+ years ago!
People have always suspected that dogs pick up on their owner’s mood – that’s why they’re the UK’s most popular pet – and scientists have now found that dogs tilt their heads when they try to figure out what humans are thinking and feeling. Consequently, if you’re feeling down, your dog will likely come and curl up by your side as a way of giving you emotional support.
Work full time and looking for daycare for your pets? Perhaps Tailster can help! We’ve a range of vetted carers across the UK, available to care for your pets as and when you require. For more information, click here.