As part of the Education Team at Dogs Trust, we have plenty of opportunities to work alongside other teams in the charity. This is something that I have enjoyed doing since I started working for Dogs Trust, as it gives a great overview of all the incredible work going on across the charity, and helps you to get more involved in a number of aspects of that work.
I’ve been very lucky to work alongside a variety of different areas of the charity including Dog Trust Evesham’s Supporter Relations Officer, Shauna, and help at several brilliant events that she had put on, including Fun Days, Christmas Fairs and ‘Special Supporter’ days. I have also enjoyed spending time on our ‘DogMobiles’ as they visit different locations around the four counties that I cover, whilst some of the staff working on the units have also come and observed me in school. It’s brilliant to spend time seeing what everyone does, and helps other parts of the charity to understand what the Education Team does, so they can spread the word to anyone they meet who could be interested in booking our workshops.
In more recent times, we have had the opportunity for a different type of collaborative work. Working alongside Dogs Trust Dog School coaches, we have had been running Family Training sessions in the school holidays, where families with a dog and children can come along and learn the basics of dog training.
As well as teaching the importance of positive reinforcement as a way of training dogs, we also get the opportunity to embed our key Be Dog Smart safety messages into these workshops, which will hopefully go a long way to keeping children safe around their own family dog. Our role as Education Officers in these sessions is to support the Dog School coaches where needed, but also to deliver those key messages.
The sessions start with an introduction to reward-based training, before the children are put through their paces to see how they can work alongside their dog, supported by Dogs Trust staff, to help their dog learn a new command or a trick. Our brilliant Dog School coaches are there to offer support and advice throughout the session, and I’ve always got an ear on what they are saying, to help me to learn a bit more about dog training!
Throughout the workshop, we have short breaks for the dogs, which allow time to teach our three steps to approaching unfamiliar dogs safely, or teaching children how to respond if an unknown dog approaches them. We also focus on safety around our own dogs at home, and times where we should always leave our dogs alone, for example when they are eating or sleeping.
The workshop then ends with a mini competition and a chance for the children, and dogs, to showcase what they have learned. Everyone then leaves with goodies and certificates – and who doesn’t love a good certificate!?
The fun is almost always in seeing the delight that the children have when they manage to teach their dog a new trick or command, and seeing the fun that the dog has from learning something new. I often talk in schools about how important mental stimulation is for dogs, so it’s always great to see that in action. It also, of course, provides another opportunity to work alongside another of the brilliant teams we have at Dogs Trust, and I always enjoy working alongside the coaches in the West Midlands Dog School team to help develop these sessions even further.
The sessions are completely free of charge, but with limited spaces, you can visit https://www.dogstrustdogschool.org.uk/ to find out more about Dog School and get in touch about the possibility of taking part in one of the Family Training workshops.