Dog trainer launches 'holidogs' to help owners with unruly pets

Debbie Betts, owner of Paws and Train in St Olaves, with her dog Sabre. Picture: Danielle Booden

Debbie Betts, owner of Paws and Train in St Olaves, with her dog Sabre. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk dog trainer is offering holidaymakers the chance to take a well-deserved break whilst teaching their pooches good behaviours.

After qualifying four years ago, and having previously been a host on Airbnb, Debbie Betts from St Olaves decided to combine her experience and offer weekend breaks by the Broads complemented by bespoke training sessions.

Debbie Betts, owner of Paws and Train in St Olaves, training Sabre with Emily Tanner. Picture: Danie

Debbie Betts, owner of Paws and Train in St Olaves, training Sabre with Emily Tanner. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant

Whether it's a temperamental terrier or an anxious Airedale, Debbie works with people and their dogs to try and improve behaviour and encourage them to work better as a team.

Debbie has first-hand experience of the "rollercoaster" journey training can be after rescuing her own dog several years ago. “I’ve been there so I can relate," she explains. "I understand when people go for walks at midnight so you don’t meet anyone.

“People feel judged when they’ve got a dog that barks at other dogs or people, and it’s usually a dog that’s frightened. The only way it can say that is through its voice and its body language.“
For prospective clients, it all starts with an initial phone call and a chat to see if said pup is a suitable candidate. For example, she’s reluctant to accept those that live far away and become stressed with long journeys because they need time to de-stress before any good learning can be done.

Paws and Train at Reedside in St Olaves. Picture: Danielle Booden

Paws and Train at Reedside in St Olaves. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant

New arrivals are welcomed on Fridays and guests, both two and four legged, are shown to their studio-style apartment complete with kitchenette, lounge area and a large bathroom.

The weekend gets going in the same afternoon with a fun, introductory session in Debbie’s large and secure garden. “Free work allows the dog to de-stress,” she explains. “It’s lots of different items, surfaces and platforms and it takes all that pressure off them."

Debbie Betts, owner of Paws and Train in St Olaves, training Sabre with Emily Tanner. Picture: Danie

Debbie Betts, owner of Paws and Train in St Olaves, training Sabre with Emily Tanner. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant

It’s important, Debbie says, that dogs feel secure and safe, which is something she aims for during her training over the course of the weekend. A member of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT), she only endorses kind, ethical methods and each programme is tailor-made for each new client.

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“It’s about building relationships and getting people to understand their dog’s body language and what they’re actually saying. Building a partnership and being a team,” she says.

“Some dogs thrive on routine and some don’t. The more nervous dogs like to have routine and when that routine gets upset, things go out of synch and you might get separation distress and anxiety.

Debbie Betts, owner of Paws and Train in St Olaves, Alaskan malamute called Sabre. Picture: Daniell

Debbie Betts', owner of Paws and Train in St Olaves, Alaskan malamute called Sabre. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant

Although there’s lots of learning to be had, it’s still a holiday for everyone, and with that in mind Debbie offers a dog-sitting service on the Saturday night just in case her human visitors fancy a night at the local pub or restaurant, as long as the furry one is happy to be looked after with her, that is.

“I’m fairly flexible too, so if there’s a session booked at 9am and they sleep in it’s not a problem,” she laughs.

You can follow Debbie on Facebook for more information: Facebook.com/PawsTrain