A Love for Dog Training
We have for over two years been a part of the wellness routine for two stunning Cavoodles but had no idea how talented their human was!
From nailing a PhD in 2020 to today working on researching canine behaviour and psychology, Edna is one super smart cookie and an absolutely beautiful human being.
She operates from the heart and is simply passionate about helping people and their dogs.
This is her story.
Tell us about you, who are you, how long have you been training dogs?
Hey there, my name is Edna and I’m a full time post-doctoral medical researcher specialising in cancer biology, with a niche in understanding how immune cells function in the context of cancer progression. I came to Brisbane 5 years back to pursue my doctorate and just graduated with my PhD in Nov 2020!
In terms of training dog, I started dabbling with in since I got Jazzy – May 2018. Jazzy is my first “trained” dog, and previously I have had 5 other dogs. Back then, I only focused on the basics such as teaching her sit, stay, come, and fancy circus tricks (i.e. sit pretty, wave, peek-a-boo, weaving, figure-8s). The major turn in my training focus came along when Jazz started pulling on walks and being very snappy with dogs, and no matter what I’ve done back then, it did not get any better. Then I came across balanced training principles, and boy-oh-boy did it make things much better!
On that note, I’ve been training dogs for 8 months now and doing research on canine behaviour and psychology since.
I’ve had great support from my community of friends, who allowed me to test out my hypotheses and theories on their dog. It was amazing seeing how reactive dogs became more engaged and trusting to their owners; and for Jazzy, being less snappy with dogs and walking on a beautiful loose leash heel.
What breed are Jazzy and Lulu?
They are both Cavoodles
How old are they?
Jazzy is 3 years 4 months old, while Lulu is 2 years and 7 months old.
Describe both dog’s personality:
Sassy and bossy, but has a super sweet side.
Loves humans more than dogs, and eager to please.
Loves to get things right
Cheeky and playful.
Appears sweet on first encounter, but engage with her long enough, she’ll know how to push buttons.
What made you passionate about training your dogs?
Seeing major changes in Jazzy made me passionate about training my girls. Seeing how she has progressed from being reactive, to having impulse control, made all the time and effort worthwhile.
Coupled with the observation that my first few clients saw major changes in their dogs, that made their lives so much more joyful and fulfilled, made me really happy. One of my major “love language” is to help. In any way I can, I would love to help. My friends often tease me because my opening line at work is always “How may I help?”
What have you most enjoyed about training Cavapoos specifically?
People often forget that cavapoos/cavoodles are a cross between two loyal and intelligent breeds. They are capable of so many things and someone once told me, I the past, poodles used to do bite work! After delving into training with my girls, I realised they’re so intelligent and eager to please, and I love it!
What awesome life skills do your dog’s know (eg. crate training, muzzle training, recall)
Life skills wise, I’d say I’m really proud of my girls. They just started muzzle conditioning and offered their snoot at the end of the first session.
Besides that, they’re crate-trained, place-cot (climb/duration stay) trained, recall is amazing, and Jazzy is prong-collar and e-collar conditioned.
Every tool has its time and place, and for myself, it’s getting the girls used to the prospect of having the tool on them should it become essential one day.
What do you struggle with in regards to training?
At the moment, with training my girls:
Jazzy: I do struggle with getting her to not anticipate a command
Lulu: She is extremely food motivated, so she anticipates commands and offers way too much. So we are trying to dial back down.
In terms of client training,
The main struggle is usually for the client to see how baby steps lead to success.
You can’t do the exciting stuff without having a strong foundation; and building the foundation is usually the boring bit, but oh-so-essential!
The majority of individuals love to move straight into loose leash or focused heel work, but without a strong foundation, understanding of leash pressure, good impulse control, and a good relationship between dog and handler, achieving reliable and long-term loose leash/heel work would be impossible.
What are your training goals for the future?
In terms of my own dogs, my current training goal is for them to be able to know when to “switch on” and “switch off”; and when it’s time for work, to work with precision.
In terms of general training, I hope that everyone would adopt an open mind to the different school of thoughts out there in terms of training.
Every dog is different, even among the same breed – environmental influences has an impact on the dog behaviour and mindset; thus, there is no perfect solution to every question/issue.
With that, the major goal for me is for everyone to train the dog in front of them, adopting the most appropriate and ethical principles.
What kind of dog are you interested in next and why?
By the time I am writing this, I probably have already made up my mind. A Border Collie! I have been tossing between a Sheltie, Border Collie, and an Aussie Shepard.
The reason why I am looking for either of these breeds are the temperament as well as their capacity to learn and potentially do dog sport. I have had small dogs all my life, and I would like to have a larger breed dog, whose intelligence is matched, or if not, far superior than my poodle crosses.
What are you hoping your training journey on Instagram inspires other pet parents to do?
I post my training journey and day-to-day experiences with my girls on Instagram in hopes of getting pet parents to be more involved in their dog upbringing.
There is definitely a shift in mindset where dogs are the new babies, and funnily enough, there was an article mentioning how couples are choosing a place to stay based off their pet dog needs. Yet, at the same time we see so many dogs being re-homed; regardless of breed, owing to behavioural issues. These issues can be nipped in the butt if everyone is open to training and enforcing basic obedience, thresholds, and boundaries.
Dogs are intelligent, and they can “read” us as much as we can “read” them. Yet, many of us are not tapping into this intelligence of our companions and their willingness to please and/or work. Every breed is capable of achieving reliable obedience. No, I am not saying we are creating a robot; but to nurture our companion animals in the best way possible so that they are biologically fulfilled. Often, we tap into their physical capacity but rarely work their mental space. I hope that by posting my training journey and day-to-day experiences on Instagram, on my work with my girls, that people can start seeing training as a relationship-building and fun thing to do with their companions, rather than just a boring part of pet-parenting. It’s amazing to see how biologically fulfilled our canine counterparts become once we acknowledge their capacity to do work, regardless of breed or size.
What do you feed your dogs?
Both my girls are raw fed, we rotate between home made BARF ratios; as well as commercial companies.
Supplement wise, we do a range of supplements that function as preventatives, as well as to enrich their health.
How long have you been using Antinol?
Both the girls have been on Antinol for close to 2 years, since we discovered them.
How do you think it assists them?
Ever since we started on Antinol,
Jazzy: She is definitely more agile. She used to hate jumping into cars, but now she does it happily.
I strongly believe that Antinol had a role to play in this. In addition to raw feeding, Antinol has also contributed to the upkeep of their coat.
Lulu: Lulu was diagnosed with Grade I luxating patella when she was a pup.
So we started Antinol with her, and thankfully it hasn’t progressed neither has she shown any signs of walking difficulties.
Lulu, when she was a pup, she had very coarse fur. So once we switched over to raw + Antinol, her fur is pretty much like fleece.
Edna and her girls can be found on instagram @jazzylu.cavapoos