SDOS: Episode 7 – Connection & Cockers with Jane Ardern

Episode 7

Today Dom talks to the KCAI dog trainer of the year Jane Arden. Jane has some awesome dog training going on at her Waggawuffins Canine College in Bury and today she shares how and why she became a dog trainer. We also find out why she lurves Cocker Spaniels and who her favourite superhero is…

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Dom:     Hello me Bonnie bairns and welcome to episode seven of the Superhero Dog Owner Show. This is the show that helps you have more fun and less stress with your pet dog. We’re here today, Alex, a little bit of a history lesson for you, we’re here today on the banks of the River Weir. This is obviously the river of my hometown in Sunderland. That’s the Wearmouth bridge behind and there’s some nice fishing boats there too. The Glass Centre is opposite us and Sunderland was once known as the largest shipbuilding town in the world.

Alex:      Really?

Dom:     Did you know that?

Alex:      I didn’t know that.

Dom:     Interesting, yeah. There was over 400 shipyards here over the years and the last one closed in think in 1988. Yeah, big shipbuilding and mining history in the Northeast. Enough of the history lessons because first of all today I want to thank everybody you got in touch and said that they really enjoyed last week’s episode where we taught you how to get more focus from your dog and how to use the toys and the treats to get your dog to look at you more. A lot of people emailed in and said that they were having more success with their dog on their walks and they felt like they were getting more control of their dog, which is exactly what we’re all about here.

Today we’ve got an interview for you, a super cool interview with a really good friend of mine called Jane Arden. Jane is a dog trainer. She was the KCAI Dog Trainer of the Year. She’s just got some super awesome stuff going on down in WaggaWuffins, the training center that she runs. We have to go indoors to do the Skype interview, so Alex has set all this up. We’re going to have to reset it all up indoors for the interview, but I hope you enjoy it. I’ll catch you afterwards. A big hello to Jane Arden.

Jane:     Hi. Nice to see you.

Dom:     Hello Jane. Thanks very much for giving us your time today, Jane. I really, really appreciate it. We’re going to dive straight in with the greyhound round. That’s our quickfire round where peeps who don’t know you can get to know you a little bit better. Are you ready for this? Are you ready to go off the leash?

Jane:     I’m ready.

Dom:     Good lass. All right, first question, your favourite superhero?

Jane:     Wonder Woman.

Dom:     Good one. Good one. Do you prefer Indian or Chinese food?

Dom:     Definitely Indian.

Dom:     Would you prefer to walk a Pomeranian in the park or a Weimaraner in the woods?

Jane:     A Weimaraner in the woods.

Dom:     Good one. Good one. Your favorite dog cartoon character?

Jane:     Hong Kong Phooey.

Dom:     I think that’s the second time that’s come up as well, so it’s popular. Definitely popular. Red or white wine?

Jane:     Red, definitely.

Dom:     Brilliant. I’ll join you. We’ll have a glass. All right Jane, I’m going to give you an eight out of ten for that. You did very well. Well done. Well done.

Jane:     Thank you.

Dom:     We’ve been friends for a little while, Jane. I know you’ve got lots of exciting things going on at WaggaWuffins and as I said, you won the KCAI Trainer of the Year. How was that for you?

Jane:     Really exciting. It was a really fun day. Really nervous when we got into the arena and they announced it. Yeah, it was pretty exciting. I was really surprised at the amount of people that actually turned up to vote and cheer me on, especially when I came into the ring as well.

Dom:     Yeah. No, it was nice. I saw the couple of videos. They were really nice. They were really supportive. Obviously you’ve come a long way with your dog training. I know you were helping people even before you got the award, but what compelled you to want to be a dog trainer?

Jane:     I started off as a hobby. I got a rescue dog. He was a St. Barnard cross rottweiler. It was my first dog and he had lots and lots of behavior problems, a lot of severe aggression issues. It kind of stemmed my interest. I wanted to understand why he behaved why he did a lot more. I worked through some problems with him. He was a really difficult dog. I met a lot of people, got a lot of support. It kind of really evolved. The interest just evolved from that.

Then I got interested in, ended up getting my first Limburger, got interested in dog showing. Then I had a little go with some obedience classes and then moved to Dublin working trials. Here I am now.

Dom      Here you are. Marvelous. Who was the dog? What was the first dog called?

Jane:     My first dog was called Bruno.

Dom:     Cool. Cool. It all started with Bruno. What’s the worst moment you’ve ever had as a dog trainer? Because dog training and and dog ownership can be hard sometimes, so I think it’s good for people to know that we have bad times too. What’s been the worst moment for you as a dog trainer?

Jane:     I think probably my worst moment was a one-to-one I went on when I first started out and the wife wasn’t there. The wife was there when I arrived at the one-to-one, but the husband was late back from work. When he actually walked in he actually just booted the dog in its side and it yelped and run off. That was the day that I learned about how important people skills were in the job role and how to kind of manage people and counsel people and talk with people and deal with some difficult situations. Yeah, but it’s not all butterflies and …

Dom:     Puppies.

Jane:     … daisies.

Dom:     No, no indeed. Definitely not. You started off showing and stuff. You had a Limburger did you say? What other dogs have you owned?

Jane:     I’ve owned, I’ve had Limburgers for 20 years. I’ve had four Limburgers over the years and I always say to people, “I spent 20 years trying to motivate Limburgers and then I got a cocker spaniel.”

Dom:     Yes indeed. Yes indeed. No motivation required at all. That’s what I want to get on now because I have got a little cocker, Sidney, as you know and I know you’ve got four cockers now?

Jane:     I’ve got four cockers, yeah.

Dom:     You seem to have kind of, I’m not saying you love cockers any more than any other breed, but you seem to be bang into your cockers at the moment. What is it that’s got you going with cocker spaniels?

Jane:     I love their enthusiasm. I love their zest for life. I like the fact that they’ve taught me to take things less seriously. I’ve definitely had a few embarrassing moments with my dogs and they’ve taught me to take life much less seriously. Yeah, they’re just lots of fun. They’re busy. They’re very active. I don’t think they’re really for everybody.

Dom:     No.

Jane:     I love them to bits.

Dom:     Yeah, yeah. I agree. I agree. I think they’re a bit misunderstood. Maybe it’s just me, but when I have Sidney out and often people see him buzzing around and stuff and they’ll say stuff like, “Oh, I bet he’s difficult to wear out or I bet he’s hard work.” I don’t think he is particularly hard work, but obviously I do a lot with him. He likes playing games, scent games, retrieves, all that kind of thing, so I think it’s just because I knew what I was getting myself in for when I got a cocker, but do you find that as well? Do you find that people sort of, I don’t know, they don’t realize a dog like a cocker spaniel, as long as you provide the right type of stuff for him it can be quite easy to manage really, can’t they?

Jane:     Yeah. I think as long as you can get inside their heads and you understand them then they’re great little dogs to have. I have to say that my first cocker was a shock to my system after having Limburgers for 20 years. I certainly didn’t know what I was letting myself in for and my first cocker was from strong trialing lines as well.

Dom:     Yeah, yeah. I must be honest, yeah, I think yours were slightly higher drive than my Sidney is. We went from Barry to Sidney so that was surefire shock to the system as well. What are you up to at the moment then with your gun dog stuff? What are you teaching at WaggaWuffins? Do you have a lot of people, pet dog owners coming through the door with gun dogs?

Jane:     Yes. We do a monthly workshop which is really, really popular now and most of the dogs that come are pet dogs and the people who just want to understand their gun dogs a little bit more, get involved in the activities that the dog was bred to do. It’s really good for helping people understand how to stay connected with these dogs, how to hunt together so they don’t go off self-employed doing things on their own. Keeping a nice connection, understanding them a lot better. They do, they’ve proved really popular.

We have a few people who come who do on a beat, do things a little more seriously from the gun dog side and they tend to be people who are looking for a positive approach.

Dom:     Yeah, yeah, yeah, which they get from you. What have you done in the way of beating and stuff like that with yours? Or have you at all?

Jane:     Yes. I work on a local, on a shoot. We go down to Middlewich and I work through the season on a shoot there beating. I’ve done a little bit of picking up as well. I’ve also done, I’ve been on a couple of trial training days with one of my cockers. That’s kind of my goal that I would like to get into competition and trial.

Dom:     Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good stuff. I think that’s the thing about the gun dogs, isn’t it? As long as you give them something to do, then they’re happy, aren’t they? If you want to you can go down the gun dog route of the beating or flushing and all that kind of thing, but otherwise a tennis ball or a raggy toy is just as good a substitute. It certainly is for Sidney anyway. He wouldn’t be bothered about a rabbit.

Jane:     They’re really versatile as well. With mine as well as the gun dog staff we do a little bit of agility. We’ve done some, Stig does heelwork to music. Stig loves dancing.

Dom:     Cool, cool.

Jane:     He’s like Billy Elliot of the dog world. Yeah, we’ve done a little bit of obedience, so it’s lots and lots of fun. They’re quite versatile. They can apply their paws to most things really.

Dom:     They can. They can, yeah.

Jane:     As long as it’s not boring.

Dom:     No. No. Did you say boring or ballroom?

Jane:     Boring.

Dom:     No, definitely not. They’re not a boring dog. We’re going to talk a little bit about emotions in dog training. Yeah, I’m a big proponent because people I’ve learned from like David Davies, John Rogerson have tried to use emotion in dog training so you’re not, I don’t know. I think the traditional, for some people I think when they think about dog training classes even, they think about the traditional kind of, “Dog sit. Do this.”

The more you can use emotions in your dog training and show your dog that you’re happy and you enjoy his company, you encourage him to do stuff, the stronger the relationship can be, can’t it? Tell us a little bit about sort of what you’ve been working on with the emotional impact in learning for dogs.

Jane:     Okay. Looking at people becoming aware of how their emotions impact the dogs and how our dogs are connected with us, so things like if people are stressed, if people get frustrated, often you find if people get frustrated with their dogs then their dogs will avoid them. Then it ends up a little bit of a catch 22 situation because the more the dog ignores them the more frustrated they get.

I often apply it to if we look at it in a human context, often if your partner comes home from work and they’re in a real foul mood and they’ve had a bad day, you’re probably going to do one of two things. You’re either going to go out and avoid them and just leave them to it or you might try and lighten them up. I think our dogs often do the same. They often start feeling around and jumping all over you, which usually doesn’t help the person who is frustrated.

Dom:     Leave me alone.

Jane:     Or they actually avoid them. It’s getting people to understand that sometimes their dog is actually just behaving in that way because of the way that they feel and they’re acting. One of the things, I run a mindful course, one of the things we do on the mindful course is we get people to spend a minute thinking about all the negative stuff. Things like thinking about what’s the M62 going to be like on my way home, have I got shopping to do, what time have I got to get to work tomorrow. All those life things that we tend to worry about.

Then we get them to then get up and train the dog. You usually find it goes to pot. Real interesting stuff like sometimes the handler can’t function, like clicking clickers and stuff like that because they’ve got this negative mindset. They’re struggling to concentrate. We’ve had where the dog won’t make eye contact with the owner because the owner is thinking about a lot of negative thoughts. Obviously that will impact on their body language.

Then what we do is we get them to do a mindful meditation where they actually clear their mind of all the rubbish. Then they apply themselves 100% to the dog and it’s really, really interesting how significantly different and how successful they will be in what they aim to achieve.

Dom:     Yeah, yeah, yeah. I suppose that would apply to all aspect of like, wouldn’t it really?

Jane:     Absolutely.

Dom:     Especially dog training as well, yeah. I’ll stick a picture up. There’s that picture I’ve seen on social media where someone is taking their dog to the part. It’s like a cartoon. The person is thinking of text messages, emails, their boss, all that kind of thing and the dog is just thinking of the trees and the birds and all that kind of thing. Yeah, it’s the kind of thing you’re talking about, isn’t it really?

Jane:     Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so that’s the standard mindfulness picture that most people use to explain what it’s about. Dogs are naturally very mindful, unless they’re eating.

Dom:     Well, I’m the same.

Jane:     Yeah, it’s really interesting to see. I’ve also applied it in our instructor course as well about teaching people when you’re working with clients to also leave those things, that you should be 100% with the client and not thinking about your day to day life while you’re spending time with your clients as well as a professional trainer and developing the skills to be able to do that.

Dom:     Yeah, yeah. I found a quote on your website actually. “Once you have focused, the rest is easy.” There’s a picture of Pickles, I think it’s Pickles, isn’t it?

Jane:     Yes.

Dom:     She’s staring lovingly up at you. I think that sums it up, doesn’t it? If you can devote yourself some time to your dog and get some focus, then you’re going to have much, much better results, aren’t you?

Jane:     Yeah. When we work in classes the first thing we do when everybody comes in is we do focus and connection. Then we start training. I always say to people, “There’s no point. It’s going to be really difficult. You’re really going to struggle. Get the connection.” Dog training is dead easy if the dog is engaged.

Dom:     Yeah, it really is. It really is. What can people do if they’re listening to this podcast now and they feel like they don’t really have a very good connection with their dog, they could have a better connection with their dog, they could get better focus, what would be some really simple things they could do to in their own home now to try and help them to do that?

Jane:     We do lots of capturing and rewarding good stuff. The majority of people tend to be a little bit reactive where the problem develops and they look for a solution to the problem. What I do with my dogs is we spend a lot of time being really observant, looking for the good stuff all the time, capturing and rewarding.

One of the things I do with my puppies is I’m just looking all the time. I may post stuff on Facebook that looks like I’ve trained it, but I’ve just captured and rewarded it. I don’t put loads of training pressure on the dogs.

Dom:     What do you mean by capturing then?

Jane:     Really, so if I take my dog out and we go out to the local park I’ll just be observant. Every time the puppy looks and checks in on me, I’m going to reward that behavior. Every time the puppy sees something new, is a little bit hesitant and looks to me for support, I’m going to reward that as well. I’m going to say, “That was a smart choice.” We can reward with play. We can reward with food. We can reward with attention.


Mixing all that up, but just being very observant all the time. Every time the puppy sits, I’ll just be, “Wow, what a good sit.” Just teaching. It’s just the things that they’re naturally doing and if you reward it, it gets repeated.

Dom:     Indeed. Yeah. Fantastic advice. Yeah, brilliant. That’s something that anybody can do with any dog I suppose at any time, cannot they as well? Yeah. Fantastic. Jane, we’re coming to the end of the interview now. I want to thank you very much again for your time. Where can people go to find out more about you? I know you’re very active on social media and stuff as well, but where can people go to find out more about you and what you’re found at WaggaWuffins?

Jane:     We’ve got the website which is We’ve also got the Facebook page which is WaggaWuffins Canine College. We have an event, we put events and stuff up on there. We do classes. We also do lots of workshops as well. We get people from all over the country, will travel over to the workshops. We’ve had people as far as Essex and up from Scotland as well, Glasgow, Edenbrook come over to workshops.

Dom:     Brilliant, brilliant. Excellent. Well, thanks very much for joining me today, Jane. I look forward to having you on the show again next time.

Jane:     No problem. Thank you.

Dom:     Thank you. See you.

Jane:     Bye.

Dom:     So, how awesome was that? Yeah, loads of knowledge bombs there dropped by Jane. Some stuff that you can put into practice with your dog straight away I hope. Thanks again Jane, for taking the time to give us that. She also invited us down to WaggaWuffins so we can film a little bit more stuff with her. She’s got some cool stuff going on there, some online dog training programs too that I know Alex has been helping her out with. Is this true?

Alex:      That’s right, yeah.

Dom:     Yeah. Yeah, so that will be coming up in a couple of months time. We’re going to have another interview for you next week. On next week’s show we’re going to be talking to another good friend of mine called Amy Smith. Amy does a lot of stuff, a lot of teaching with puppies in her puppy preschool down in Australia. We have a lot of good feedback from the episode with Mark the vet. Remember we were talking about the puppy farms, Alex

A lot of people got in touch saying they didn’t know about the puppy farms and stuff like that so I thought I would stick with the puppy theme because puppy owners, you’re dead keen to get your puppy and you want everything to go right. I thought we would speak to Amy and she can give us some advice for what people can do with their puppies and hopefully have a bit more fun and more control and less stress with the puppies, because puppies can be stressful. That’s going to be next week’s episode.

If you haven’t yet please subscribe to the Superhero Dog Owners Show. Just search for it on iTunes and hit subscribe and you’ll never miss and episode. The last thing I want to ask you to do is if you’re enjoying the show, please head over to iTunes and leave us a review. It will make you feel good and it will make us feel absolutely great. Yeah, we want to get some feedback. We want to know that you’re enjoying it. If you are enjoying it, then tell us. Tell the world. Leave a review for us please on iTunes. That’s a wrap for today.

Alex:      It is.

Dom:     If we don’t see you through the week, then we’ll see you through the window. See you next week.

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Dom Hodgson