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

Look at me…. look at me!!

It has been a long drive home from the office and you are looking forward to a relaxing evening, with your feet up and finally getting stuck into that new novel you bought over a month ago.  You can anticipate the welcome you will receive long before you arrive, after all, you now share your life with a dog.  Dogs have a great way of making us feel welcome and we often overlook their jumping, leaping and whining simply because it makes us feel good.  Problem is, it only makes us feel good for a very short time.  It soon turns into a habit that we find annoying and even uncomfortable.

Attention seeking behaviors are high on the list of problems that dog owners seek help for.  These behaviors are often disguised as cute and puppyish but make no mistake, those behaviors will repeat again and again if your dog feels there is a payoff.  And payoff there is!  The biggest jackpot of all…you.

 

Confidence 101

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and I was off to Wal-Mart to buy a new eavestrough for the front of the house when it happened…. I saw one of my clients carrying her dog around the hardware department!

Now, to most people, the sight of a small Yorkshire terrier in the arms of a well-groomed woman is delightful.  People stop and admire, ever have a chat and by the end of the visit staff and customers alike are well aware of the little dogs name, likes and dislikes and favorite hobbies.  But to me…well, it made me let out a sigh of frustration.

 

It Never Happens…Until it Happens

The calls come in to our office on a consistent basis.  Dog owners suddenly caught off guard, dealing with a dog they now don’t seem to know.  The calls come in many forms.  The 7-year-old lab cross that has always been great with kids and who, suddenly, snapped at a neighborhood child.  The 5 month old puppy who seemed to turn into a different pup overnight and is reacting to every bit of noise and movement with sharp, no-nonsense barking.  The 18-month-old poodle that had been a lovely family pet up until the point last week that she started to use the living room carpet as a toilet.  All these scenarios are quite common to dog professionals, but to the people living with them they come as a surprise.  The line “he has never done that before” is heard time and time again.

 

IS MY DOG SPOILED?? ….AND WHAT DOES IT MATTER?

When you hear the word spoiled, do you think about spoiled food or spoiled children? And does it make a difference? When you think of the word spoiled it doesn’t conjure up any good feelings and yet dog owners seem to say the word with pride. To them, it is a term of endearment or said with a shrug and a smile attached. It is an interesting phenomenon when dog owners are starting to think that spoiling their dog equates to loving a dog.

 

My Dad and I

While other girls were busy with boys and makeup, my passion for dogs did not seem to be wavering. Since I can remember, I have loved dogs. One of my earliest childhood memories was of watching Border collies do their job at a local fair in a park near my home in Birmingham, England. It seemed enormous, and the sight of the collies herding the sheep seemed to be a miracle. It wasn’t until years later, on a trip back, that I saw that park for what it was…a large plot of grass in an otherwise cement-laden neighborhood. The fact that it seemed so small years later did not take away the magic of that day.

 

CONNECTING WITH OUR DOGS

This is a vintage article, circa 1993 and one of the first things I had written that gained attention in the world of dog training. I would like to start my blog with this, as it is at the root of what I believe when we are dealing with our dogs. Keep in mind that 15 years ago we were all just on the cusp of discovering that “do it or else” training was not the only game in town. These thoughts were the beginning of a journey for me. While methods change, the core of the connection seems to remain the same.

CONNECTING WITH OUR DOGS

As I sat nursing what seemed to be my 100th cup of Cappuccino that day while overlooking the canals in Amsterdam, my mind was again consumed by the behaviors of the dogs that roamed these banks.

 

Years Gone By

It is difficult to pin point the year, but I remember the event as clear as it was yesterday, compliments of a great long-term memory (not to be confused with a good memory for last week). It had to be in the early to mid 90’s.

It was a dog weekend, one held at a training school west of Toronto. We were all there to hear a presentation by Ian Dunbar amongst others. The one thing that has stuck with me all these years was not the information presented, but the feeling that I got during the dog games. I was there with my 6 month old Border Terrier, Preston. He was a great little dog, but not nearly as skilled as his more experienced competitors. The games consisted of many components requiring certain skills. Then, a miracle happened! There was a “best kisser” game. And you guessed it, Preston in all his exuberant glory won.

 

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