Spring 2008 Newsletter

Welcome to the Spring 2008 edition of the ICC Newsletter. In this packed edition...

Please see or E-mail (unless otherwise instructed) for further details…


* Saturday May 31st – Sunday June 1st: Applied Learning theory with Elizabeth Kershaw (writer for Your Dog magazine.)

Elizabeth is a nationally recognised trainer who specialises in clicker training. She has a wealth of both theoretical knowledge and many years of practical training and taught part of the course that I studied before becoming a dog trainer. I cannot recommend her highly enough! She will be covering how dogs learn, when and how they can learn things that we are not aware of (both positive and negative!) and the workshop will be a mixture of practical work with dogs and theoretical learning.


* Saturday June 14th – Sunday June 15th: Understanding, handling and reducing aggression in dogs with Dr. Anne McBride PhD (one of the most highly qualified behaviourists in the country – this is one of the few people in this country who experienced behaviourists go to learn from.) A must for anyone interested in dog training and behaviour or who has a dog with ‘issues’. The workshop will be a combination of both theoretical learning and practical case studies with dogs.

* Sunday June 22nd:, Fun Activity Day at the Heavy Horse Centre, Spilsby, (contact )


* Saturday August 9th, 10am-4:30pm: 101 (well, nearly!) Games to play with your dog / class of dogs workshop.


* Saturday October 4th:, Heelwork-to-Music / Canine Freestyle Master-class with Attila Szkukalek

* Saturday October 18th, 10am-4:30pm: Agility Workshop with Bob Sharpe

* Saturday October 25th: Case studies in aggression with Paddy Driscoll.


* Saturday November 1st – Sunday November 2nd, 9:30am-5:30pm: Attitude, precision and style in the competition dog workshop with Joanna Hill.

* Saturday November 29th: Understanding and handling behavioural problems in the rescue dog workshop with Alton Matherne.

* Sunday 30th November: Square pegs in round holes? Workshop with Paddy Driscoll on assessing and matching rescue dogs to the right owners.


* Saturday December 6th, morning onwards: Photo-shoot with professional photographer Paul Saxby.

Other items to be added to the web-site once they are confirmed:

- Friday evening fun competitions

- Dates of the Good Citizen Tests. (We are truly sorry for the lengthy delay in running the practical tests. This has been due to various circumstances beyond our control from both examiners and the kennel club. We are hoping to finalise dates with a new examiner in the next fortnight.)


- Fully fenced field available for training practice at Normanton on Trent. Cost £2 per session (max 1 hour) with any number of dogs. Dogs must be fully vaccinated. Contact Wendy on 01636 821072

- Social walks are currently running at all 3 centres. Please contact your centre manager for further details. (If you pay for 5 month blocks of lessons at Hougham these are free.)

- Many members of the ICC Team will be going to different types of dog competitions this year. For more information about competitions please see –

  • Agility –
  • Obedience -
  • Heelwork-to-Music - or

The ICC shop at the Hougham Main Centre is now well and truly open and sells everything from leads, collars and harnesses to bowls, toys, training aids, and dog food (most types can be ordered.)

We try to specialise in things that cannot be found in pet shops. There is a 10% discount for all those who book and pay for 5 months of lessons in one block. Opening hours are varied so at the moment it is probably best to let us know if you'd like to come and we can let you know opening hours… these are soon to be put on the web-site as well. (If you already use a pet shop to buy things for your dog and they advertise our training classes please continue to use them – we don't want to take business away from them!)

THE LATEST ON HARNESSES – We are delighted to say that once again we are able to supply custom made to fit harnesses.

We are delighted to announce that we are in a position to offer home boarding. This is an alternative to kennels and is especially helpful for dogs that become stressed in a kennel environment.

Your dog/s stay with a member of the ICC team as part of their family whilst you are away (dogs must be fully vaccinated.) We also have limited places available for dogs that would not be suitable to live with another dog. This started because Christina spent years not going away because she didn't want all of her hard work with her young Great Dane to be undone whilst she was away with him panicking in kennels. Eventually her dogs started to stay with Debbie (a member of the ICC Team and good friend of Christina's) and Christina came to the conclusion that every dog owner should have a 'Debbie'. Now they can!

Interested? 1 – Speak to Christina, 2 – She'll put you in touch with the correct member of the team, 3 – Meet them and any dogs of theirs, go to their house and get to know them, 4 – Hand over your dog and enjoy your holiday! (If you're going away from more than a few days we recommend that your dog stays with their holiday family for a day or two beforehand to allow them to get used to them.)

If you think that you would like to welcome dogs into your own home whilst their owners go away please contact Christina (we're getting very fully booked and we haven't advertised it yet!)

We’re growing! We have a lovely team of people who get involved with all sorts of things from assisting in classes, to helping with walks and one-to-one behaviour clients, home boarding, photos and videos of classes, updating the web-site (a massive help for me!) raising money for rescue charities and general administration.

Each team member receives on-going training and support. If you are interested in getting more involved please contact your centre manager. (More information about the latest members of the team will go onto the web-site.)

Just a quick update on my (Christina’s) dogs. Most of you know that tragically our wonderful Great Dane Caleb died just over a year ago. Although we still miss him we are now able to look back with a smile and I will be eternally grateful for everything he taught me and for being such a wonderfully loving and fun boy. Very rarely you meet a dog where you and they just understand each other and that was him and me.

We still have a lovely rescue German Shepherd called Asaph who is nine and a half. She’s well into retirement which in our house means she still plays at agility and obedience training but I now don’t care if she gets it right or not – it’s purely for her enjoyment. After spending a lifetime teaching a dog to enjoy their training sessions I think it is most unfair to then stop that because they are no longer competing. She has also developed a rather unfortunate habit of trying to make audiences laugh (she still does a reasonable amount of talks with me) and this usually involves her playing the fool! Ah well, she’s happy! Her hips are still doing pretty well (she was diagnosed with hip displacer at 3 years old) and she can still run and play but we do need to make sure that she doesn’t overdo it. She also does most of the one-to-one behaviour work with me and has amazed me at how good she is being. When we first got her at age approx 2 ½ she could be quite a bully with other dogs and she’s now quite happy to mooch around with me whilst they learn to settle (she’s still not overly forgiving if they come straight up to her and are rude so we use another dog when they’re ready to meet dogs up close.) I must say I really appreciate having a dog where we’ve come to know each other so well over the years – she’s such a good friend (and is lying at my feet as I write this.)

Eze (Ezekiel) our Border Collie is now 22 months old and is showing a lot of promise. He’s very friendly and is a real sweetie and has had his first formal competition for Heelwork-to-Music (which he won!) He’s also coming along well with agility. He’s still training at competitive obedience which he enjoys but it will be a while before he’s mature enough to find heelwork interesting enough to do in competition. He’s much improved with other dogs although if he’s on lead he can still panic and bark occasionally if they appear out of no-where straight towards him or if they look particularly strange to him! This all started because he was attacked 4 times by other dogs when he was younger, the first time being when he was 12 weeks old (a Yorkshire Terrier bit him round the throat which was obviously worrying at such a young age.) He’s fine off lead though and is vastly improved on the lead. He’s also particularly fond of ‘flirting’ with people and when he’s not busy doing that is a lovely boy to work with – he loves his training.

Finally it is my pleasure to introduce you to Ruach (literally meaning Breath of Life, or Wind of God, which seemed appropriate after having had Caleb.) He is our wonderful, rescue Great Dane. He arrived at 6 months old (he’s now 13 months old) and if you count his breeder we are his 4th home. He’s settled in wonderfully (and now sleeps through the night which is fantastic news!) and (apart from re-wiring the car for us) is a really good boy. I’ve started his training and he loves to work (as well as cuddle) and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together. No-one could ever replace Caleb but I must say he’s trying (and succeeding) in finding a special Dane-sized place in my heart.

All 3 centres are now offering most of the following classes –

Puppy courses, beginner general obedience courses, follow-on classes (Bronze, silver, gold and platinum – these include the Kennel Club good citizen courses, and other helpful pet dog obedience training and elements of competitive obedience, agility, heelwork-to-music and training and behaviour theory,) agility lessons and practices, heelwork-to-music, flyball, competitive obedience, real-life classes (outdoor recalls, loose-lead walking, etc.) canine pentathlon (agility, flyball, heelwork to music and clever tricks,) private lessons (either at your house or one of our centres) and behavioural consultations. Social walks and one-to-one walks with dogs are also available at all 3 centres.

For further details please see or contact –

Telephone: 01529 302878
Telephone: 01636 821072
Hougham (Covering Grantham, Newark, & Sleaford
Hougham Classes
Telephone: 01400 230965 (Please Leave a Message)
Hougham Behaviour Problems, Social Walks, & Private Lessons
Telephone: 01400 230965 (Please Leave a Message)
Hougham Workshops
Telephone: 01400 230965 (Please Leave a Message)

A note on payment

Spilsby and Southwell continue to have classes booked in blocks of (usually) 6 weeks.

Hougham Main Centre have changed their payment system to a monthly payment with discounts available. Cost - £35 per month (1 lesson per week) If you pay for 5 months in advance, you get another month free. (It saves us admin time and hassle!) PLUS get a 10% discount in our shop when you pay this way. PLUS get monthly social walks free of charge!

We understand that people go on holiday and bitches come into season therefore if you pay this way you'll keep your lesson place without having to pay for missing a few lessons. Total for 6 months of lessons including the free month is £175, (can be paid with 4 post-dated cheques.) There is also a 2 lesson discount working out at £26 per month for a second lesson. Total for 6 months of second lessons including one month free is £130, (can be paid with 4 post-dated cheques.)


Each newsletter we are aiming to include an article about something dog training related. This month's article is by Maz Green.

An account of how two dog owners, Jan and Maz, have turned their "little runt" into an up-and-coming Internet celebrity.

There is an old adage which tells us that what comes from our efforts is equal to what we put in to them. While some may question the merits and the validity of this wisdom, we, the owners of Ellie, a seven month old short-haired Border Collie, have no reason to.

We adopted Ellie, a twelve week old puppy, from a rescue centre, in May 2007. All that we really knew about her was that she was the "runt of the litter", and that she came from an accidental mating of two farm-working Border Collies. She was naturally skinny, had very long legs and "wonky ears", and her dew claw was still dangling from one of her rear legs. It is fair to say that she perhaps wouldn't have been the first choice of dog for many a dog owner looking for the ideal pet. However, when we met Ellie for the first time, we fell in love with her, warts and all.

One of the very first things we did for Ellie, was enrol her in the ICC Dog Training Puppy Classes.

During the puppy training, Anna, the trainer in the class, identified that Ellie may benefit from a little more socialisation with other dogs, and offered to walk with us, using her own dog, Max, as a good example for Ellie to learn from. It was at this point that we really knew that we had found the right training class for Ellie. After all, how many people these days are willing to give up their personal time, at no cost, to help others?

During the puppy classes, held by Anna, we were introduced to basic obedience exercises, such as teaching the dog to sit, down, and come. We already knew the merits of clicker training, and had already purchased a clicker each, as well as several books. We also got to enjoy the benefit of the puppy socialisation walk.

After successfully completing the puppy class, we immediately signed Ellie up for the Good Citizen Bronze training class, held by Christina.

By this time, the daylight hours were becoming fewer, the cold evenings were settling in, and many a class was held under the sound of rain hitting the rooftop. But still, nothing would prevent us from attending. We felt that it's part of the deal we each make with our dogs. If we expect a well-balanced adult dog, then we have a moral obligation to give it the best start. We have little right to complain about poor adult behaviour, if we fritter away the opportunities to teach good behaviour as a puppy.

It was during the KC Bronze training that we started to realise that Ellie really was becoming a very capable dog, especially given her very young age. Though our training has not been without problems - far from it. Our main issue has been Ellie's timid nature. For several weeks, she was scared of Maz's height, which meant that she wouldn't do any work that involved standing next to him and looking up at him, such as a finish, or moving in to his left leg. Aside from the stress it was clearly putting Ellie under, it was also making Maz feel bad. For quite some time, Maz had to train with her on the floor, and wait for Ellie's confidence to build up. For the most part, it has worked and he is able to train standing, without Ellie trying to hide, though she can still look quite worried at times. We just have to know when to stop and let her take a break. We have learned that training a timid dog really does offer some very unique obstacles.

However, despite her timid nature, there are two aspects of training where she seems to blossom: behaviours that require high-energy, such as jumping into Maz's arms and up on his back, and behaviours that require chaining several behaviours together, or were more complex in nature. Certainly, during high-energy behaviours, she appears to completely forget that she is a timid dog. Our suspicion is that her personality is more naturally suited towards agility, and not competitive obedience. We decided to test to see if our observations were correct.

We had already taught Ellie to go into her crate on command. However, Maz decided that he would test to see if Ellie would take it a step further and open the crate door for herself and step inside, and if so, how quickly she could learn it. He attached an old leash to the door, grabbed a clicker and some treats, and began to work with her. It took under fifteen minutes for Ellie to fully grasp what was needed, and she became proficient enough to demonstrate her new skill to Jan that evening, without any further practise that day. To this day, Ellie remembers this behaviour and carries it out when given the "In your tin" command, though she has obviously now practised it more frequently.

Since that time, Ellie has learned several new on-command behaviours in addition to what she has learned at the ICC Dog Training classes, including putting laundry items into the washing machine, jumping up and into Maz's arms, and onto his back, retrieving and presenting the television remote control, and shutting the living room door. She is currently learning to walk backwards, and there are plans to get her to start skateboarding, just as soon as we buy her a new skateboard.

We have become so dedicated to training Ellie that we purchased ourselves a small camcorder at Christmas. There were several people who were hearing about what Ellie was doing, through the blog that we have maintained since we first got her, but they weren't able to see it. Now we've rectified that, and she's starting to get a small following around the web. It's inspiring when we receive positive feedback from others. Sometimes it really is difficult to remember that Ellie is only seven months of age, and she's only had four months of training. Much of the trick training comes from the inspiration given to us by Silvia Trkman, the two times world agility champion, and nine-times national agilty champion. Some of the tricks that her dogs perform are, quite simply, just staggering.

Do we think that Ellie would be as proficient as she is today without the great people at ICC? We strongly suspect not. There is real and quantifiable merit in attending weekly training classes. We have goals and objectives to work towards, and we have someone like Christina to point out the tiny flaws in our methods, and offering solutions as to how to resolve them. And as we all know, Christina sees everything! What we do know is that we must be getting something right, as Jan has been asked, and has subsequently accepted, to become a volunteer at the classes. Something that she is very much looking forward to.

You can catch up with Ellie's progress by reading her frequently updated online blog at There is always plenty of photos and videos added regularly.

Please note that this article was written when Ellie was seven months of age. She's now eleven months of age and still wowing her owners, Maz and Jan.

Please feel free to ring or email with any questions you have about our dog training courses.

Telephone: 01400 230965
General Information: christina@iccdogtrain
Social Walks: