SDOS: Episode 4 – Meet Dom’s Doggy Guru

Episode 4

In this week episode Dom and Alex the video guy head off to Hurworth to meet David Davies who is Dom’s dog training mentor! Dave shares some of his dog training wisdom that will help you have a better, more loving, less stressful relationship with your dog. Dave has a wealth of knowledge as a police dog handler and a dog trainer and behaviourist and he shares some awesome stories and tips that will help you bond more with your dog.

Timestamps [0.59] Dom wants to thank you for all the loving [1.51] Where Dom met Dave and how he blew his mind with his magical Happy Potter dog training skills [4.22] Meet Dave! [ 5.12] How Z cars and a dog called Inky inspired a young Dave to join the police force [8.30] How Dave inspired Dom to play with his dogs more [9.24]The biggest mistake pet dog owners make, Donald Trump style [10.20] Why you need to think about your dogs breed traits [ 13.10] What Dave learned about sensible dog owners in the South of France [16.10] Why your dog needs YOU! [ 17.58] Why you need to try lateral thinking [18.44] Why your dog doesn’t need a walk [21.30] How Dave chills out by fly fishing and tyre flipping! [23.00] Why you should play with your dog [24.07] Make it easy for yourself and buy Dom’s book [25.01] What’s coming up in next weeks show…

Mentioned in this episode Dom’s daily (and free) dog training emails

David Davies

John Rogerson

Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono

Full transcript

Dominic:              Hello, my bonny bairns, and welcome to the Superhero Dog Owners Show. We are on episode four. Can you believe it? It’s high summer. We’re on the cliff tops today in Sunderland. The chaffinches are a-chirping and the swallows are a-swooping outside. It’ll soon be windy and snowy and we’ll be in here with hats and scarves on so we’re going to enjoy this nice weather. We hope you’re enjoying seeing a little bit more of sunny Sunderland, where I live as well. Before we begin this week’s episode, I want to thank everyone who’s been in touch, who signed up for the emails and who’s bought the book. I’m getting lots of love, Alex. I’m getting lots of love from everyone that they’re enjoying it because they’re reading it and they’re putting stuff into practice.

Alex:      Yes.

Dominic:              It’s one thing just getting information. Information does not equal transformation. Action equals transformation, doesn’t it? For everyone who signed up to my daily emails and you’re enjoying them and that they’re helping you have a little bit more fun with your dog, thank you very much for letting me know. I appreciate that. If you haven’t yet, why not? Yeah, you need to go to and you will get the thirty Dog Days transformational emails. You get one email into your box every day that will hopefully help you have a bit more fun and a bit less stress with your pet dog.

In this week’s episode, I’m going to be interviewing a very good friend of mine. This is a guy who I met on the original John Rogerson course that I told you guys about, I think it was way back in Episode one, and what happened was I did the John Rogerson course and there was a guy who came on the course who did a scent work demonstration with this dog called Hamish. I remember, Dave Davies is his name, and Dave, he just completely blew my mind that day. That was a really amazing week for me anyway because I had a lot of … My previous views about how you should interact with your dog were challenged that week. I learned a lot and it challenged me a lot and I grew up a lot, I think, as a dog owner.

Anyway, on this day when Dave did his scent work demonstration, he was just playing and messing around with Hamish with this tennis ball and it was incredible. Hamish was literally following him around like he was Harry Potter or something, with a magic wand. It was crazy. I remember watching him and thinking, “Oh my God. That’s what I want to be like with my dogs. This is how I want my dogs to look at me, the same way that Hamish is looking at Dave right now.” As it happened, I later found out that Dave, he didn’t live too far from me so he would come up and help me out with the dogs and show me some more productive things that I could do with the groups of dogs that I was taking out on the adventures. Then we became closer friends and Dave’s since been involved with, we’ve done lots of training together.

We’ve ran scent work courses and dog behavior clinics and that kind of thing. I still go down with my dogs and we drink tea and eat biscuits in Dave’s kitchen and we have a bit of fun. Dave helps me out, teaching me scent work, and things like that. Just generally, he’s a fantastic guy, and I’m delighted and honored to have him as my first guest on this show. What I’m going to do is, earlier this week, me and Alex headed down to Hurworth where Dave lives and we interviewed Dave in his garden. It was an even nicer day than it is today.

Yeah, and Dave shared with us all of the, a lot about the story about how he got involved with dogs when he was growing up, what he did with dogs in the police force and generally his general philosophy on dogs which is something that I think you guys should hear because I hope it’ll have the same effect on you as it had on me when I was first exposed to Dave too. Let’s roll the video and watch what happened this week when we went to see Dave.

Right, hello, everyone. We’re here today in beautiful, beautiful Hurworth near Darlington and I’m here with a guy who I’m delighted to have on the show as my first guest. He’s been a massive inspiration to me. He’s been a massive help to me. He still is a big help to me, one of my dog training mentors, a very good friend, an extremely knowledgeable guy, David Davies. Thanks for having us at your place, Dave. I really appreciate it.

Dave:    Thanks, mate. My pleasure.

Dominic:              Dave, we’re here. We’re talking about dogs. I said you’ve been a big inspiration to me with the dog training. I know a lot about what you do with dogs now and how you came into working with dogs, but where did it all start for you? Before you were Dave the policeman and Dave the dog trainer, how did you start getting involved with dogs when you were a kid?

Dave:    Really, from as far back as I can remember, I remember the series Z-Cars which was a police series which was on television when I was a small boy growing up, I suppose, during the early and mid 1960s. On Z-Cars was a character called PC Snow with his police dog Inky. It was really from that moment on that I decided that I wanted to work with dogs and really within the police force. I wasn’t really interested in being a police officer. I wanted to work with the dogs and that’s really what drew me in there.


Dominic:              Moving on a bit now, what are you doing now with dogs, Dave? Tell people at home how you help people with dogs who would come to see you now and …

Dave:    Essentially, I’m working with dog behaviour problems. I believe my title with the Pet Education Council and Lantra is a “dog behaviour practitioner.” I think that’s the official title. I call myself a dog trainer because if you’re influencing the behaviour of dogs, you’re training them by definition, aren’t you? That’s what I am. I can see people on veterinary referral, and if they come on official veterinary referral or formal veterinary referral, they can come to me on their pet insurance if they check with their insurance companies first. It’s just working with dog behaviour problems that people perceive; I’ll use that word, that they have.

Dominic:              Yeah, yeah. This is what you do now. What happened in between that then? What happened from growing up with dogs to …? I know you joined the police force. Tell me about your career with the dog section of the police force, if you will.

Dave:    Okay. I had been in the police service something like twelve years before I eventually got on to the dog section, very much dead men’s shoes in those days, but also I changed police forces so obviously I had to go to the bottom of the pile again when I transferred up to County Durham from London, London Metropolitan Police as soon as I was able. I was applying right from the word go. As soon as I was able, I went on to the police dog section with Durham Constabulary and attended the police dog school, police dog college at Harperley Hall in County Durham which was a very well thought of dog school in those days, it probably still is, attracted attention from people seriously all over the world. They used to come there for dog training and many other things as well, scientific aids, et cetera.


Dominic:              Yeah. I’ll tell you a little bit about how I met Dave. I met Dave after he left the police, when he was a dog trainer, and I was attending a John Rogerson course near here at Darlington as well. Dave came along to do a scent work demonstration. Watching Dave with Hamish, one of his dogs, who hopefully will be out in a minute, watching Dave play with Hamish and the way that Hamish looked at him, I had never seen anything like that in my life. To be honest with you, that was when I first …

It really struck home to me about how important it was to play with your dog and the relationship that you have with your dog. I didn’t really have a very good relationship with my dogs. I thought I had, but really, I didn’t, and that was like a moment, just watching you with a tennis ball, I think it was, like Harry Potter casting magic spells and Hamish was just like this little remote-controlled thing going round and that he couldn’t take his eyes off you. That’s where it all started with me really, with the dog training and trying to get this idea of building up a relationship and playing with your dog, so you’re actually having fun with your dog and you can be the person who is the fun for your dog. Is that something that you find yourself still having to tell …

Dave:    All the time.

Dominic:              … to try and teach pet dog owners when they come here?

Dave:    All the time. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of people going, “Oh,” and shaking their heads now with what I’m about to say. The biggest problem, and it’s because people love their dogs and it’s because they think they’re giving their dogs a great life, and to be fair they probably are, but their sole purpose in life each day for their dog is to go out and find somewhere where their dog can go and play with other people or other dogs. Your dog really does not need to do that. I was on a bit of a Donald Trump moment there, wasn’t I? I’m passionate about that.

Yes, you need to walk your dog around, where there are other people and other dogs, but your dog will not become better behaved with people and with other dogs by being exposed to them all the time. In fact, there’s a good chance it’ll become worse behaved. It will become better behaved for you the more you do for your dog and the more you provide for your dog to do. If you then look at the breed or type of dog you’ve gotten, think what that breed of dog was originally bred to do when man first designed the blueprint of it, and try and think of things you can do. If you’ve got a Labrador, give it some retrieving games and some searching games. Clearly, if you’ve got a Doberman, which was bred to be a protector, you don’t want to be giving it games where you can set it on people. That would be utterly wrong, of course. You can still give it fantastically exciting things to do, and you will keep your dog’s interest on you.

Your dog’s already learned how to be a dog when it was a puppy going through a canine socialization stage which is probably an outdated way of describing it now. That’s what it is, and as long as you then make sure that it goes through a stage from about eight weeks to about twelve, sixteen weeks of its life where you do a lot for your dog and you take your dog everywhere you possibly can, and here’s the thing, have it on a lead, because if you’ve got it on a lead, you’ll keep it safe. If you’ve got it on a lead, you’ll show it how to behave and if you’ve got it on a lead, it won’t be able to practice all the things you don’t want it to do when it’s ten year old. People think that this means you’re going to make your dog’s life miserable. You’re not. You’ll make it the happiest dog in the world.

Dominic:              Yeah. I agree. I totally agree. It transformed my business. I came in as one of these people who thought that dogs should play with dogs and the best way to wear a dog out was to let it play with other dogs and …

Dave:    I mean, if you want to let it, do …

Dominic:              Definitely, yeah, yeah.

Dave:    … but it will have a significant impact on the influence.

Dominic:              That was why I needed to go on the course because I was losing control.

Dave:    Yes, exactly

Dominic:              I wasn’t enjoying the walks anymore.

Dave:    No.

Dominic:              I knew that or I hoped that there was another way of doing it and obviously I discovered it. Then that’s what this show is all about. This show is all about you guys connecting more with your dog, bonding more and having more fun with your dog so you can have stress-free walks and have more fun and a bit of a more enjoyable life with your dog.

Dave:    Absolutely.

Dominic:              Just quickly, Dave, you recently came back from a tour of the Balkans and stuff. You touched upon it there, about keeping your dog on a lead. We had a chat about it off-camera, about the behaviour of the dogs abroad. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Dave:    Yes. I can. It was the Baltic, the Sea.

Dave:    I was at Russia, Finland, Scandinavia, et cetera. Yes, and just to qualify, once they keep your dog on a lead … My dogs are off-lead a hell of a lot, okay, but because in the formative stages, they were kept on a lead, they’re not a problem. They’re just not a problem. They only learned to be a problem because people give them too much freedom too soon. What are my observations on this? They’re not new. On probably the worst holiday of my life many, many years ago, Sue my wife and I were some horrific place in the south of France. It was a big learning curve for me, this.

Everywhere we went, the dogs were on a lead. Everywhere as they were being walked around, they were clearly no problem to their owner. They were trotting along. They were happy. They weren’t miserable looking dogs. They weren’t all in pinch collars or check collars or anything like that. A lot of the time, they were in harnesses, body harnesses. They didn’t pull on the lead. They didn’t bother people. When they passed other dogs, they hardly looked at them. There might be an initial sniff the air and wag the tail as they went past, but there were no trouble. My observations caused me to say to Sue, “I can only,” and I was working with dogs then, but I wasn’t aware of this. This made me think about it.

I said, “I can only assume these dogs are no problem because they have nowhere to go. They’re not pulling to get to the park to chase other dogs, and therefore they don’t see other dogs as a massive attraction. They’re happy with their owners.” Of course, I eventually found somebody, I was in the south of France, who either could or was at least prepared to speak English because my French wasn’t good enough for there. My suspicions were absolutely correct. I came back and I researched this.

Then, of course, I already knew John Rogerson, but I didn’t know him particularly well. I started reading his work, and John Fisher’s work, the late John Fisher’s work, and other people like that. I quickly realized that what I was seeing here was absolutely correct. The route to … Because I would have said it myself years ago when people said, “My dog is not good around other dogs,” “Oh, expose it to more dogs.”

Dominic:              Very true.

Dave:    [To me 00:14:51], that’s absolutely ridiculous.

Dominic:              Very true, yeah.

Dave:    It’s the most ridiculous thing anybody could say. Everybody says it. People, nobody says, “Oh, my dog’s not very good around sheep, so I’d better expose it to more sheep,” with free play. Nobody would say that. Yes. On the continent, this is a general thing. There’s quite strict leash laws in Europe. Who knows, if we stay in Europe, maybe we’ll see them here eventually.

Dominic:              Very true.

Dave:    The leash laws are very, very clear. In many countries, you don’t let your dog off-lead in public. You just don’t. There are consequences if you do. The result of that is that dogs have never learned to practice bad behaviour outside of their homes. They don’t pull on the leads generally. I’m sure there’s exceptions to the rule, but they just don’t do it. In Russia, it was very noticeable because in Russia, it appears, and I can’t say this for sure because I didn’t speak to anybody from there, but it appears that they can’t even take the dogs into parks, never mind on leads, because all the parks were devoid of dogs that I visited. People were walking their dogs on the roadsides, on center reservations in the cities and things which are big grassed areas, but again always on lead.

The dogs, I have to reinforce the fact that they are just not a problem, but they seem perfectly happy. Dogs don’t have to be running round out of control at a hundred mile an hour all day to have fun. What they do need is an owner who is prepared to be bothered with the dog. This is somebody who’s going to groom their dog every day, who’s going to play ball with their dog every day, who’s going to make giving food to the dog interesting, not just, “Here’s a bowl” and top up it every few hours because the dog’s eaten some of it. How boring a life must that dog have, albeit that is a really caring person who thinks they’re doing the best things for their dog, so that’s the sad thing.

Dominic:              If someone’s watching and they’re buying into what we’re talking about, about trying to do more with their dog, maybe as they recognize that their dog doesn’t get enough entertainment and stimulation from them, the owner, what could they do to try and breathe, blow a bit of life into the fire and try and get their dog interested into [playing with them 00:16:59]?

Dave:    They can send me an email or ring me and pay me a handsome amount of money and I will show them exactly what to do. No. They need to firstly look at their dog and, as if you’re setting a training, a physical fitness training program for a human being, look at that person or that dog’s capabilities. Be realistic in what they can do. Even an old dog, my old German Shepherd, she drags her toes now and will make them bleed if I walk her too far. Walking her on the road is not an option anymore. She still loves to follow a scent trail, tracking like a police dog.

A blind dog can do that incidentally, I’ve trained with somebody with a blind dog. They tracked very, very well, I have to say, because it wasn’t distracted by anything around it that it could see. It’s thinking. One of the best pre-reads I was ever given was on a course that I put myself on run by John Rogerson just after I left the police service. One of the books for his pre-read was Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. I would urge anybody, be they a bricklayer or a quantity surveyor, go out and get Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono and read it, and read it again and then keep it as an aide-mémoire. There is more than one way to do absolutely anything in life.

Just because people tell you, you should be doing something a certain way, certainly if it’s good advice from an experienced person, listen to them, but don’t just be blinkered and hogtied and stick to that. If it’s not working, look at another way of doing it. This is so true with working with dogs. I don’t want people to stop walking their dogs because it’s necessary for social referencing, or we could generalize and use the term socializing, every single dog. Do you know what? I don’t think a dog needs to go for a walk. What a dog needs is an extremely exciting time several times a week provided by its human family members. That’s what it needs. That can be simply putting its dinner into a Tupperware bowl, putting a lid on it and hiding it in the garden and going out with your dog and letting it search for its dinner.

Now, I have had people say to me, “Well, that’s a little bit cruel, isn’t it?” Is it really? Are you not actually giving your dog something which is quite instinctive for that dog to want to do if we were to go back to its wild forebears, which may or may not be wolves or some wolf type creature? Nobody just goes to Tesco and buys it a load of food. The animal has to get out there. Let’s think about it. What does our dog get when we’re feeding it? It might get told to sit, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, and given its food. That’s it. Lovely, job done.

Its wild cousin is going to go out there and have to use some exercise to hunt its food. It’s going to have to use its olfactory system, its nose, to work, so this is satisfying to the dog. It’s going to use energy. It’s going to use its mental capacity to work. If it’s a pack animal, it’s going to be working with the rest of the pack. They don’t just go out there and fumble their way through it. They use strategies. Watch a pack of terriers hunting a rat. They don’t all just converge on to the rat. They would lose it or they would end up fighting. They’ll work, they’ll flank the rat, they’ll chase it, they’ll drive it out until one terrier goes in to the kill. They work a little strategy out between them.

You need to be part of your dog’s family unit. I try to get away from this, “My dog is a wolf and it’s a pack animal.” It is a pack animal, okay. It is, but it just conjures up this image of the old “dog is a wolf” thing which is totally unhelpful to a pet dog owner. It’s finding things to do that your dog can do and enjoy and use its natural attributes to do this, use physical energy, use mental capacity. Here’s the thing. You, Donald Trump again, you, the owner are going to be the person giving this for your dog to do.

Now, if you send your dog to me for me to do this, I’ll do it for you by the way. I do board and train or stay and train, I’ll do it for you, but no way is it going to help your dog’s relationship for you. That will only come by you providing your dog with his entertainment. You can use other people to help with your busy life schedule, going to work, things like that, but you must be the main person that provides the dog with his entertainment.

Dominic:              Yeah, that’s really good advice. We’re going to come back again and talk a little bit more about scent work. We need to wrap the interview up, Dave. I want to thank you very much for your time and your knowledge and sharing some of your stories with us. When you’re not relaxing here in beautiful Hurworth and you’re helping people to train their dogs and stuff, what does Dave Davies do to chill out?

Dave:    Fishing. I like fishing, particularly fly fishing although I don’t get much opportunity anymore with all the dog work I get.

Dominic:              Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re very busy. Yeah.

Dave:    I get more work than I can cope with. I enjoy training in the gym. At some point today, we may catch my tires. I like a bit of tire flipping, anything to keep this old frame in reasonable nick, and going on cruises. I enjoy that.

Dominic:              Yeah, of course. Where can people go to if they want to find out more about you, the services that you offer, if we’re going to have some people who live local and stuff and they might want to come and see you and learn more about what you do, where can they go to find out more about you, Dave?

Dave:    The website is Everything that anybody needs to know should be on that website. They could also go either on Guild of Dog Trainers or the Canine and Feline Behavioural Association, of which I’m a full member or behavior practitioner, and again all my contact details are on those websites.

Dominic:              Awesome, awesome. Thanks very much again for your time, Dave, and yeah, I hope you all enjoyed that. Thank you.

Dave:    Thank you. Thank you very much.

Dominic:              That was it. How cool was that? Yeah, a nice trip to Hurworth to see Dave and talk dogs, and we got some more awesome interviews coming up in the coming weeks as well. Obviously, this way of playing, training and interacting with your dog, yeah, it isn’t for everyone, but I would urge you if you’re a pet dog owner who wants to have a little bit more fun with his dog, then playing with him is certainly an easy way to get your dog on side. You’ll find that if you avoid the things that you know make your dog upset, get him stressed out, make him bark, make him angry, if you avoid those things and you spend more time alone with your dog, playing with him, building up a bond, finding out what makes his tail wag and getting him to use his nose and use his special doggy talents like his strong jaws and …

Dogs are fast. They like to do things. They like to burn off energy. If we can provide that outlet for them, then your dog’s going to think you’re a superhero without a doubt. I would urge you to try these things and you’ll find that a lot of those problems will just disappear just by avoiding the thing that you don’t want your dog to do and spending a bit more time with your dog. It’s certainly been my experience, and it’s certainly been the experience of a lot of my clients as well. Yeah. It’s not for everyone. There’s a million ways to train a dog. There’s enough ways to train a dog as there is people to think them up, but you should.

A great place for you to start would be to find out what your dog likes and again, yeah, if you want to make it even easier for yourself, I lay it all out within How To Be Your Dog’s Superhero. You can find out exactly what it is that your dogs like and you can use it to have more fun with him in the park, at home, wherever it is that you want to take your dog, enjoy more off-leash exercise and just generally enjoy your dog a lot more.

That’s it for this week’s episode. Next week’s episode, we’re going to be having another interview actually. There’s been a really lot in the news lately about puppy farms. It’s unbelievable to think in this day and age that puppy farms are still rife, that they’re everywhere, people are buying farm-bred puppies and they’re obviously having a lot of problems with them. The dogs are sick or they’re having behavioural problems and stuff. I’m going to be talking to a guy who, the issue of puppy farming changed his life and changed his whole career really.

Anyway, his name is Marc Abraham. It’s Mark the Vet. We’re going to be interviewing Mark live from my living room because he lives in London and we don’t, so we’re going to be doing it via Skype. We’ve got an awesome interview lined up for next week. If you want to see that, then hit Subscribe and tell all your friends about it because if you’re thinking about getting a puppy, then this is the information that you really should know. That’s a wrap for this week, Alex. Thanks for your time and thank you for watching. If I don’t see you through the week, then I’ll see you through the window.

Meet the Author

Dom Hodgson