A love of dogs

2017-04-18 06:01
 Photo: suppliedMandy Barrett with Molly, a rescue dog from the SPCA, at the Dog Guru School in Botha’s Hill.

Photo: suppliedMandy Barrett with Molly, a rescue dog from the SPCA, at the Dog Guru School in Botha’s Hill.

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AT age 10 Mandy Barrett knew she had a special bond with dogs and had fun training them to do tricks. As she got older she read books to improve her skills.

At age 21 she adopted a puppy, which turned into a very challenging dog and when she looked for assistance from dog psychologists and trainers she could not find one who suited her needs, all she found were dogs being yanked around in chains wearing muzzles, and terrified.

Heartbroken she then attended a school and learnt basic dog training and upon finishing opened a doggie school.

“After my courses, I adopted another dog and started doing competition work with him. We did showing, obedience and working trials. It was while training him that I discovered other ways to train without using choke chains and force.

“I started Happy Hounds Dog School in 1994, based on using fun, and not force and pain to train. I banished choke chains and started a puppy school as there were no puppy schools in those days.”

Over time, Barrett studied etiology through Pretoria Tech and qualified “Best Practice”. She also completed several other courses, including a bookkeeping diploma, business management diploma and two income tax diplomas, however she gave all that up to follow her passion for dogs.

“I do a lot of rescue work as I believe dogs are special and deserve a chance, and rescue dogs should be given the best chance.

“I am working with a young man from the Inanda Village, hoping to start a ‘rescue’ there and work on training rescue dogs to be assistance dogs.

“Today I run the Dog Guru School in the Upper Highway area. I do force-free training, which means we do more than just reward dogs, we work with them, treating them as thinking, feeling, intelligent beings.

“We use only positive methods and rewards. We don’t discipline, we redirect. We lay down boundaries of safety and good manners. It’s the most rewarding way to teach dogs and we start with puppies at our puppy social learning classes. I also do private sessions and work with problem dogs, teaching them how to deal with life and issues they battle to handle.

“It such a blessing to do what I love every day and I encourage the community to visit our school to see what training with love not force can do for their dog.”

The next puppy classes begin on April 22.

For more information on force-free training, contact Barrett on 084 397 2550.

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