Acorn Dog Training

Good Citizen Scheme

Nicolette from Newport Pagnell tells her own story:

This is my dog Justyce, we think he's about four years old and has been with us for three years

When Justyce joined our family, it soon became apparent that he had socializing difficulties. I had problems taking him for a walk. There was many a time we would walk past a dog on the other side of the road and Justyce would erupt into barks, growls and would try to attack the dog in question. In time, I would see a dog in the distance and run in the opposite direction, anything to avoid a confrontation.

In short, although I loved my pal, I didn't enjoy our walks and neither did he, he wasn't let off the lead unless I knew it was overly safe or until we had walked a good few miles further than most.

It was at this point that I decided to enlist the help of a behaviourist. I'd seen them on TV and knew that they could do marvelous things. I mistakenly thought that like a human psychologist they would all have to work towards and achieve a set standard.


I contacted a recognized leading dog authority/club, and asked for a good local behaviourist. The recommended person came along and met both Justyce and I and started telling me how to stop all unwanted behaviour. To do this I would need to punish Justyce with water sprays. Further more, I needed to reassert myself as leader of the pack. A dog must after all, know its place.

Ok, who am I to argue, after all this person is the expert and has been recommended by leading authorities.

For two weeks I followed the instructions left and to my horror the situation got worse. I was making an issue of other dogs, looking back I must have been passing on the message that other dogs were to be feared and therefore you must protect me. The situation got so bad that I didn't want to walk him. I had lost my confidence.

My partner stepped in, he has a knack of ignoring unwanted behaviour, so if there was a dog within sight or earshot, so what, ignore it. Thankfully, this calmed down the situation enough for me to come back on board. We all then went back to our old routines, with Justyce rarely coming off the lead.

It was whilst all three of us (dog muzzled to the hilt) were at the vets, that they suggested Fran, you can imagine my apprehension, after all, I had been there and done that. But Justyce deserved to have a normal and balanced life, so I called her.



We chatted on the phone for a good thirty minutes, Fran wanting to know everything about my dog. Fran agreed to come around and meet us in our home environment. It is worth mentioning that Fran had not said that she could help us at this point. As she herself has said there are some dogs who have underlying problems that are purely medical and therefore require expert advice in that area.

The day of the Visit

Fran arrives, dog is immediately defensive. Fran says hello to me and is from that point onwards, occupied in getting to know Justyce.

Through out the entire session, that lasted over two hours, Fran observed Justyce and I got the impression and the reassurance I needed, that her interests lay with Justyce. We chatted and I explained our past and present situation. We went for a walk, so that Fran could see Justyce away from the security of his home.

At the end of the session, Fran suggested I changed his diet, as my dog was highly strung, nervous and was suffering with his anal glands. She had noticed that every time he became agitated he would chew vigorously at his rear end and no matter what training we tried to do, all he would think about was the constant irritation of his bum. Rather like me, when I get tooth ache.

So for two weeks, we weaned him off the brand, with its poor protein and ingredients and onto Nature Diet. His stools became solid and the biting and chewing of his bottom eased and eventually stopped. At the end of the two week period, I contacted Fran and she asked for an update on his present condition.


We met Fran and her two dogs at the paddock. I was instructed to go through a series of walking Justyce past her two dogs with his lead slack. I was told he would come over and say hello when he was ready. Imagine my fear and urge to pull him back each time he went past those two dogs. My dog had ALWAYS attacked other dogs.

Well you could have knocked me down with a feather, he went over to them and said hello. To me that moment will always be priceless. My dog had overcome his fear, by having some one take time in reading and understanding him. He didn't need the domineering training, he needed to be understood, encouraged and helped.


We've come along way my pal and me, we both have had to change and retrain. As I too have also played a part in his unwanted behaviour.

I know now when he is stressing and upset, I know what to do in those situations. I'm learning to read and understand Justyce. My dog is happy, far more confident and he can play with other dogs off the lead. Of course we still have other issues to address like 'please do not attack the postman, he is allowed to deliver our mail'.

I would say we are 75% of the way there, so we still have along way to go, but if we never achieve 100% that's fine and if in time there is no further improvement, well that's fine as well, because we both enjoy going to our sessions and would carry on regardless.

Fran is helping us get there, so from all of us 'thank you' you can never imagine what you have given us and what it means to us.

So do be careful when choosing the trainer for you and your dog, please make sure that they:-

1. Are interested in your dog

2. Assess your dog and find out what is the underlying reason(s) to their difficulties

3. Encourage and reward your dog for good behaviour and not use the training system of dominance that will eventually break your dogs will and individuality

Remember, most people learn through incentive, it goes back to the theory of the stick and carrot training method, do you theoretically beat your dog into submission or do you motivate and encourage your dog? After all, if someone threatened me in to doing a task that I didn't want to do, I would mostly likely stick two fingers up, closely followed by a few choice words.

So learn by my mistakes, get recommendations, your vet is a good place to start, if not ask if you can watch the trainers classes, see what method of training they have adopted. As with all professions, there are those who are only interested in the colour of your money and no institute or club will be able to stop those individuals from being members or holding qualifications to show that they are competent, as we can all pull it together and pass on the day.

Had I met Fran at the very start, Justyce would not have wasted two valuable years in his training curve and we would now be a lot further down the path. So please take heed of my experience and choose carefully.

Nicollette, I have not heard from you for a while, if you still visit this page, and still have Justyce, please give me a call, as I would love to hear from you. Having been through a few more years which includes a giant learning curve, there is more behind the Justyce story than is mentioned here. I would not be at all surprised if Justyce does have something in common with me! ~ thanks, Fran


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