Mark Bridger is a local dog behaviourist and trainer who prides himself in offering to help people build a better, positive, and force-free relationship with their dogs. He has helped many dogs and owners alike throughout his years of dedication to the subject.
He works tirelessly to offer his services all over the world, whether it be through on-line communication, telephone calls or one-to one training sessions.
I can speak from my own personal experience when I contacted Mark to help me when I had just acquired my latest rescue dog… who had not long left the streets of Croatia. His dedication and love for dogs shone through and he was invaluable in helping me address some early issues that my new dog had arrived with.
Having recently launched the Respect The Lead campaign, I reached out to Mark to ask him some questions about dog behaviour and training.
So Mark, what made you get so involved with dog behaviour and training?
My very first dog, way back in 1978; he was my very best friend and he taught me so much. My fascination with behaviour grew over the years and I continue to re-learn and update my knowledge to ensure that the very best practices are used. Every dog I have owned has taught me something new.
Have you seen an increase with owners seeking help more recently as dog-owning seems to have become more popular?
No real change, as dog ownership is as popular now as ever. The biggest change would be from people getting the ‘wrong’ dog for their lifestyle, and that brings many problems.
Why is it that some dogs that are generally well-socialised and friendly can change whilst on the lead?
Dogs have three responses to a perceived threat: fight, flight or freeze. When they are on a lead, you effectively take away their option to run away, so they will either freeze or fight.
What do you feel is the most important command that an owner should train their dog to follow?
‘Sit’ ; if the dog is sitting then he is not doing anything else. The next most important command is recall. These are really the only commands you need…
If someone was thinking about getting a dog, what would be your most important bit of advice?
You need to make sure that the dog fits with your lifestyle: for example, if you are a couch potato, don’t get a Springer Spaniel….. Make sure you have the time, energy, patience and money to keep the dog healthy and happy, both physically and mentally.
If someone feels that they need some help with their dog, what should they do?
They should seek advice from a qualified and insured, force-free trainer. Don’t wait too long when you start to see behaviours that you don’t like – the earlier you start the change things, the better! There are many organisations that have good behaviourists and trainers in their directories. I am with the Pet Professional Guild British Isles, and the Dog Welfare trust. Have a look at any testimonials or reviews via my website: bonecanis.com
A huge thanks to Mark for taking the time to speak to me, his incites into dog behaviour have been invaluable. If you are interested in keeping up to date with the Respect The Lead campaign then head to my Facebook page where I will be posting updates and sharing resources.