FAQs Bella

Author: Bella (proHOUND Co-Founder)

FAQs about me! 

I’m normally asked the same questions on social media so I thought I’d combine them here for a blog - that way I can go into a bit more detail too! 

·       Why the dog industry and how did you start?

Apologies if you’ve heard this one before – I moved to Edinburgh for uni at nearly 19 years old and immediately missed my family dogs. I decided to start dog walking (more for the love of dogs than the money, although the latter was appreciated as a student!) and was immediately astonished at how bad general dog behaviour was in Edinburgh. I wanted to help people but I didn’t know how cos I didn’t know anything about training. My upbringing in terms of dogs was brilliant but it made me naïve. I had no idea that not every dog isn’t bothered about other dogs, or that such a thing as ‘puppy parties’ exist whereby puppies (in the midst of tumbling over each other, not giving space and not being old enough/stable enough to correct each other for pushiness) learn to ignore their handlers and develop poor social skills. I had no idea that stress and arousal at the end of the lead is perfectly normal in our society, and I was shocked how few dogs ate meat (just meat, not meat baked into cheap pellets of starch for £3 a bag). 
I began shadowing trainers (good and bad!) and was immediately hooked. Call me cheesy but I found my calling! My love for EVERYTHING dog grew by the week and I spent a disgusting amount of money on professional development (I still do). 
A few years later, I took on dog walkers for my clients and I myself expanded into basic pet dog training. My skills developed from there! Fast forward to now, I’m co-founder of proHOUND obviously, a pet dog trainer covering anything from recall to reactivity (I draw the line at moderate reactivity though due to lack of experience) and my lab Ava is a drug dog. 

·       What does Ava do exactly?

Ava is a qualified drug detection dog under NASDU (we are extremely close to sitting our exam to becoming dual purpose at the time of writing which means she’ll be able to sniff not only objects & venues but people too); she is imprinted onto a variety of drug scents including the obvious ones like cannabis and cocaine but also some more unusual ones such as ketamine and MDMA. She’s a clever girl! I had to do a course and sit an exam to have a SIA license, and I had to sit a theory exam before Ava’s practical. Altogether it will have cost me about £5000. 
Other than professional detection, Ava loooooves playing fetch, learning new tricks and swimming.

·       What does Nina do?

Short answer: not much! She is bred for IGP and we loosely participate in that. I really enjoy watching her genetics shine through when she does bite work. You wouldn’t know she’s that powerful until we do that activity in particular!  I would like to start doing IGP more in the new year (I’m writing this early December 2021). 
Our favourite thing to do together though (after much learning and development) is cooperative play. I always lose track of time when playing with her – it’s wonderful. She also loves walks. We do some obedience/trick training but not as much as Ava. 
Nina has an excellent nose on her as well though! 

·       Would you ever breed your dogs?

I will not breed Ava (as much as I would have liked to); I might breed Nina pending health tests! I’d like to do at least the BH (preliminary IGP title) with her before breeding seeing as she was bred for IGP after all. I think it’s important to show proof of workability if you’re considering breeding a working type dog. 

·       Would you ever have another dog? 

I’m happy with these two! I’ve always fancied adopting a retired greyhound but that wouldn’t be for a few years. If work with Ava takes off, I may need another detection dog though! Tempted by a springer but they are nuts! 

·       What does a typical day look like for your dogs?

There’s no such thing as a typical day! We might be travelling for clients in which case we’ll stop here and there for breaks, whether it’s a quick training session somewhere new or a walk we’ve found. If we’re based at home, I like to do a walk each if I have time (or both at once/just one if I don’t have much time) and I might use Ava as a stooge too (Nina is currently too young) for my clients. 
Nina will come out to play a couple of times and will train approx. once; Ava will play approx. once a day and train a couple of times a day. These aren’t always very long sessions by the way! Ava relaxes in the living room with me a few evenings a week. They both sleep in crates overnight. Ava is occasionally ‘loose’ if I need to use the crate for another dog but she prefers the crate. 
Walks with them are a breeze cos they both have excellent recall and don’t care about other dogs; I’m so thankful for that every day. I worked hard to achieve that though! 

·       What kind of clients do you have?

Normally it’s relationship stuff so recall and too much interest in other dogs. I see a fair amount of people for loose lead walking too. I’ve had a couple of sessions on cooperative play recently which has been great and I teach a lot of people detection for fun. I see a few people a month for reactivity and a few people a month for training in the home too. 

·       What’s your favourite thing about each of your dogs?

Ava’s tenacity and desire to Do. It can be exhausting but overall it’s caused me to learn and achieve so much. She gives 100% effort to everything I ask her to do. She naturally loves to work and do things together. She’s also beautiful and in great shape. I love her shiny coat as well! 

Nina has surprised me with how utterly sweet and loving she is – she adores a good cuddle! As mentioned before, I feel almost emotional when I see her do bite work because she looks so powerful and serious. It’s just a game to her obviously though but boy are genetics fascinating. I love the ridiculous ginger fluff between her ears! She’s behaved like a fully trained adult since she was about 6 months as well; she’s a true pleasure. 

·       What’s your least favourite thing about each of your dogs?

Providing Ava with the mental stimulation she needs can be exhausting. 

Nina can be fussy with where she wants to pee which can be time-consuming.
She is also obsessed with drinking anything at all: puddle, bowl of water, sea water – any body of water is an exciting opportunity to guzzle water in her mind! 

Hope that Q&A gave you an interesting insight into my life! 


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