Meet Jo Carford, owner of Applause for Paws Dog Training.
We took the time to capture Jo's fascinating story where she risked it all to follow what she loves most of all in life, training and being with dogs. In this blog Jo tells us about her own story with dogs and how her personal experiences lead to a complete change in career. Jo outlines how she gave up a safe, secure but unfulfilling IT role as a Software Delivery professional to follow what she truly wanted to do in life.
We also get some insider tips from Jo about how to start or improve building your relationship with your dog, and why she enjoys working with us at Chichester Secure Dog Activity Park.
Tell us about your background and relationships with dogs?
Jo started by explaining that for the majority of her working life she was employed by a local company for 24 years delivering software projects. During that time she rescued a dog from a difficult background aged 8, called Bonnie who Jo suspected might have some baggage as she was used for breeding. Jo explained “Bonnie couldn’t even see a dog across the road without going ballistic”.
Jo sought help from a behaviour specialist and everything the specialist told her she recalls thinking “Oh, OK that makes sense now”. That’s where Jo realised she had a natural passion for Dogs, and started wondering what makes dogs, happy, unhappy, motivated & what can we do to fix behavioural issues with dogs?
In 2014 Jo realised she needed to gain more hands on experience with dogs (other than her own) so left her well paid, secure job to set up her own dog walking business, the response she got from most people was ‘are you nuts!!’ She also started studying more intensely.
Where did you begin your studies in dogs?
“I began with K9 Physiology and Anatomy, Jo thought about K9 massage for a while but realised training and behaviour was more interesting to her.
So she then moved on and secured a diploma in dog behaviour & training. “After that I realised I needed more hands on so I volunteered as an assistant for a local dog training company” adds Jo. From there Jo further qualified with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers who she felt ethically matched her own personal beliefs which is “Why would you want to punish a dog when you can reward them for the correct behaviour?”.
Jo qualified but the learning had only just begun. It turns out she adds “You are re-evaluated every two years so you need to keep progressing, as long as you can prove your knowledge is up to date, thankfully I passed in November last year”. Jo has since completed many courses, some of which are , dog to dog aggression, separation anxiety, dog to human aggression, scent work courses, Canine Hoopers and many more
Jo begins to open up that she loves seeing the difference her investment in dog training makes to the relationships between owner and dog. In one example Jo recently received a message from a lady who had rescued a dog that was displaying aggression to other dogs so had asked for Jo’s help about 12 months ago. The lady sent Jo a picture of the dog playing with other dogs. “That is the best feeling in the world, her stress has gone, the dogs stress has gone. You just can’t bottle that feeling” says Jo with pride.
We asked if rescue dogs by enlarge come with baggage
“We don’t come from a place that assumes rescues have been broken but rather that all dogs are individual” Jo’s approach is just to take the dog in front of her and work through the challenges.
Jo’s current rescue dog Slate was rescued from a puppy farm, so even at twelve weeks had not developed the confidence because of lack of early socialisation - she was not in the centre of the house with all the noises and smells of an everyday home. Jo emphasises how important it is to make sure a good breeder understands this when looking for a puppy.
Talk to us about owner and dog relationships
A personal challenge Jo recalls was the sudden loss of Layla at the age of 3. “We had a brilliant training relationship” Jo recalls “and the thing I struggled with was ‘my last dog didn’t do that’”. Jo tells us that she has clients who compare new dogs with their old ones. This is an easy thing to think particularly if we have lost a dog and are still grieving as this leaves a “huge whole in our hearts”.
There are lots of reasons why owners struggle to bond with their dogs, age, energy and breed can all play a part in the relationship we have with our dogs. By working with positive reinforcement techniques Jo speaks confidently about how relationships between dog owner can improve immeasurably. “Tails wagging is what we are looking for when owners and their dogs are engaged in training”.
What tips can you give new owners
Tip 1 “Ask the expert”
Jo jokingly uses the example of people falling for the man down the pub saying he knows how to do plumbing. The investment trainers make in terms of time and money is what you are investing in. “You’re not failing by asking for help” Jo adds
Tip 2 “Always pick a positive reinforcement dog trainers”
Even wild animals such as Lions and Tigers can be trained in this fashion so we can get results training dogs this way to. “Start as early as possible with a dog trainer using these techniques, even at puppy age”
Tip 3 “Think about what you are rewarding and when”
High value rewards are essential rather than kibble and reinforcing good behaviour for not jumping up for example, constantly. Some dogs are motivated by food, others toy so “pay your dog well in what they motivated by”
Why do use Chichester Secure Dog Park?
Jo joyfully responded that she “found our approach very friendly and professional”. She had struggled in the past to find enclosed dog fields in the area and appreciated the fact we had great communication and kept her up to speed.