Gillian Ridgeway

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Gillian began her dog training career in 1972 as a dog training apprentice and has been involved in the animal world ever since. She has come a long way. Now overseeing a staff of 22 trainers, she is the Director of Who’s Walking Who Dog Training Centre with 3 locations in Toronto and Ajax, Canada. Overseeing over 200 dogs per week, gives great insight not only into the dogs we live with, but their people as well.

Attending Centralia College for Animal Health Technology, she graduated with honours in 1984 and was the recipient of the Cormach Award for Most Proficient Student. Gillian has continued her education by obtaining Certificates in Small Animal Nutrition, Small Animal Dermatology and Behavioural Problems.

She has served on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Association of Animal Health Technicians and was a popular key speaker at the 2006 Veterinary Technicians Conference.

A Founding member in good standing of both the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers and International Positive Dog Trainers Association, Gillian believes that education combined with experience is the key to helping clients teach, and manage, their dogs. Gillian is a much sought after speaker, and her engagements include The Toronto Humane Society, The Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers Association and The International Positive Dog Trainers Association (IPDTA) amongst many others, where she educated and entertains her audience with her “tell it like it is” style.

Serving as Public Relations Coordinator for the CAPPDT, she helped promote and encourage humane dog training. In 2004, Gillian picked up The Humane Education award from IPDTA, an association known for its humane efforts in dog training. Gillian is also a regular guest lecturer at the University of Toronto since 2003, using dogs to shed light on learning theory to the psychology students.

Gillian has been a feature columnist and consultant for Dogs, Dogs, Dogs newspaper since 1992 and also pens a monthly column for Dogs In Canada magazine. She has been nominated 2 times for a DWAA writer’s award for Best Column in Dogs In Canada Monthly, plus once for her first published book, Citizen Canine. In 2004, she received The Writer of the Year from the IPDTA. The popular daily Toronto newspaper, Metro, carried her weekly Pet Care Column for 4 years and topics from dog behavior, to adding a second cat, to how to care for Guinea Pigs were all covered!

Ridgeway has been featured in many publications including: The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, Toronto Life Magazine and Readers Digest. She has also written for Animal Wellness and Dog Sport magazines. Gillian has shared her canine expertise on Breakfast Television, The Life Network, Global TV, MOJO Radio, Q-107 and Canadian Living. Her TV shows have been popular over the years and include being the resident trainer on the TV show “Dogs TV” plus a stint as the weekly canine expert on Canoe Live, Sun TV. Her frequent visits to City TV’s Animal House Calls are popular with the dog loving public.

In her spare time, along with dabbling in Agility, Flyball, Competitive Obedience, Rally-O and Freestyle, Gillian is a member of The SuperDogs International Performance Team with her 4 dogs. Cruiser a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Levi a “one of a kind” all Canadian terrier cross, Yardly an English Cocker Spaniel and the latest addition, Noah, a Pyrenean Shepherd (plus a very patient husband) all share Gillian’s life. Her ultimate goal is to encourage and inspire the public to live in harmony with their canine companions.

Blog posts by Gillian Ridgeway

But I’ve Tried Everything!

There is no doubt that living with a dog that is suffering from any type of problematic behavior can be upsetting and frustrating for the dog owner.  The issue becomes not only about the nature of the dog, but can easily be about the nature of the dog owner.  While dogs posses a variety of personalities and traits, their people often possess just as many.

 The key to success is often the perseverance that the dog owner shows and lets face it, some of us do not possess the middle name of patience. Patience is often the key, linked with knowledge.  Together these two can contribute immensely to getting your problems resolved.  

 

The Power Of Play

Nothing is as delightful to dog owners than seeing their pet engage in the lighthearted activity of play, whether it be for recreation, a game or exercise.  While dogs acting playful might seem to be pleasing, the actual power of this play is highly underrated.

 
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WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Love is a term that is often kicked around when it comes to our canine companions.  Many pet owners believe that if every whim of their dog is not catered to, then their dog will not love them, perhaps will even shun them.

With love must come respect.  Stop now and close your eyes and visualize someone that you love and it is quite certain that you also respect them.  This is a major problem with many dogs today; the person loves them but may inadvertently disrespect them.  On the other hand (or paw), many of these dogs lack respect for people mainly because they have not been shown guidelines.  

We know this to be true because when working with unruly dogs, dogs who snap and growl at anyone who removes them from their favorite corner of the couch.  We see that when guidelines are put in place, and a little bit of work is done, these dogs become less stressed and consequently become lovely family members.

 

Under pressure: The fall-out of heavy-handed training

We are all looking for a quick fix. We want (and hope for) the magic pill that will make us lose weight quickly, get out of debt in an instant, and give us a perfect golf swing and well-trained dog. But is this reality?

Years ago, it was common to have a choke chain handed to you when you joined a training class. You were shown how to give a leash correction and if the dog acted up or misbehaved, the leash pop got more intense until the dog complied. But at what cost?

Fast-forward to an age of instant access to training theories and methods. We should all be able to follow the maxim “When you know better, you do better.” There is no excuse for using the old-style heavy-handed methods. So why are we seeing a sudden influx of harsh training methods, and what does this mean to the dogs and our relationship with them? Is this the magic pill?

 

Take the Lead

We trainers have an unusual job.  While on the surface it may look fairly simple and tons of fun, there are many components to our profession that often get overlooked.  Yes, it is tons of fun and while teaching dogs to sit, lie down or come when called is relatively simple for trainers to get done, it is the emotional component, the underlying relationship between our clients and their dogs that can prove more complex.

The calls come into the offices of trainers all across the county and many have an underlying thread.  Dog owners everywhere seem to have a difficult time gaining and keeping their dogs respect.  That’s the way most trainers see it.  The clients may view the scene somewhat differently.  It is reported to us differently, as dogs that run away, dogs that growl over their food bowls, dogs that chew the furniture and who’s endless barking may get their families evicted.  

 

Gone for the Holidays

It is winter and our thoughts turn to holiday celebrations and family time.  As Canadians, we relish the thoughts of hitting the ski slopes, visiting friends for Christmas, or even heading down south for some rest and relaxation.  And of course, we don’t want to forget our four legged buddies.  While it can be a great experience to travel with Sparky, there are some things to consider before you ask him to jump into the car.

 

Defusing Dominance

Give them a chance, and most dogs will seize the day.  They love a great opportunity.  In fact, dogs will spend a great deal of their time waiting for the perfect opportunity.  By now you may be wondering what opportunities could dogs possibly be waiting for, and my reply will be…for any and all of them that provide something they want.  

If they see a treat fall to the ground, they will pick it up.  If they have the opportunity to solicit you to play, they will take it.  If they see that growling at dogs while out on a walk tends to make them stay away, they may choose to use that tactic.  They most likely see it as a favorable occasion for them to take advantage of the moment.

 

STREET SMARTS

Imagine yourself being afraid of roller coasters.  Having a fear so overwhelming that if you ever find yourself in the position of taking a ride, you have a hard time even thinking straight.  You persevere through all the twists and turns and you finally and very thankfully find yourself coming to a halt.  Then imagine someone becoming angry with you, yelling for you to not be so afraid and even going as far as physically punishing you for your fears.  It is a sure bet that you would not find this kind of approach helpful.
Now lets take a look at this scenario as it pertains to dogs and their fears.

 

Top 5 Puppy Myths

The fantasy of the image, versus the reality of the situation can be hard for some new puppy parents to handle.  Having full knowledge of the situation can be a freeing feeling.  Knowing that many others share your puppy experience is comforting.  

So…here’s to dispelling those pesky puppy myths!

1)    “Kids and puppies are meant to be together”

 

As Seen on TV

By now most of us are aware that the “reality” shows that have crept into our lives though the TV are not as real as we were once led to believe.  We understand that many of these shows manipulate the episodes and that much of the footage is edited for the viewer.

Added to the reality TV shows mix are a few dog training shows.  These shows will follow a certain dog with their family and track progress made.  The trainer will give advice to the family, and miraculously their dog related problems are solved.  In fact, some of their other relationship problems seem to have also been solved by these dog gurus.  The real problem with the shows is that they have to have an entertainment factor in order to have a following.  Unfortunately, these days entertainment can often come in the form of over-the-top dramatics.  They are promoted almost like secrets, like whispers, that are aimed at selling books and DVDs.

 

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