Sue McCabe

Sue runs Muttamorphosis Dog Training and Behaviour in the Newcastle Upon Tyne offering puppy socialisation classes, the UK Kennel Club's Good Citizen Award Scheme to Gold level and classes from puppy to adult level. All classes use clicker training to help dogs and owners learn in a fun positive way. Sue also offers behavioural advice to clients through veterinary referral and works in conjunction with numerous city vets.

Sue is proud to be a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor in Companion Dog Training at advanced level and a full member of the APDT UK. For the past 2 years, Sue's dog Sage has played the part of Mischief on the BBC's kids drama The Dumping Ground and Sue regularly provides trained dogs and cats for TV and other advertising work. 

Sue has studied Canine Psychology with the Animal Care College, and has trained intensively with John Rogerson of the Northern Centre for Canine Behaviour. Theories of dog training and behaviour are constantly evolving and Sue believes that her continued learning and experience can only serve to help her deal with each and every dog on his own merit and help all dogs live a safe, happy and healthy life. Sue has also reached Competency Assessment Level 1 for clicker trainers having trained with Kay Laurance, the UK's accepted authority on clicker training.

Sue was first introduced to dog training when, like so many, she owned her first 'problem' dog. From there, she spent almost 20 years training and competing in obedience, agility, working trials and flyball with her rescue dogs Scout, Sage and Misty. She is currently enjoying competing in Working Trials & Obedience with 5 year old rescue Border Collie Guinness. There is a terrier puppy planned for 2016.

Sue worked extensively in the voluntary dog rescue sector as a kennel hand, dog foster carer, temperament assessor and re-homing officer. She has raised numerous litters of rescue puppies with and without the help of a bitch. She has rehabilitated and trained many dogs for rehoming. Sue has also worked professionally in a dog boarding kennels and as a grooming assistant.

Blog posts by Sue McCabe

Embedded thumbnail for 'Leave it', 'Find it' and 'Give' or 'Drop'.

'Leave it', 'Find it' and 'Give' or 'Drop'.

As a follow on from my last blog, here are three essential commands to train every dog, especially as a preventer of possessive aggression. Hungarian Visla Bruno is learning all three commands using the clicker & a variety of objects.  Remember that as a young puppy, it's owners who impart value onto stolen items.  The dog has no idea what is worth stealing or not.  It's only from the confrontation which results from the theft & the owners tone of voice, that dogs learn over time what's worth taking to get attention.  As well as puppy proofing your home, I make sure that if my

 

'Too Many Trainers Spoil the Dog'.

When it comes to successfully training a dog or rectifying behaviour challenges, the issue of the owner quality variable is often discussed. This is the ability of the owner to follow through with the programme of retraining, to practice the advice given by the professional.  What has been noted less often however, is the issue of owner quantity.  Just how many people will be involved in the dog's rehabilitation & how will this affect the success rate? 

Earlier this year, I started working with a family & their dog.  The family had had the dog for a few years, & had struggled with possessive aggressive for some time.  However, as the family grew in size-including several kids, two grandparents & numerous regular household staff-the dog's behaviour had deteriorated significantly . 

 
Group stay, Muttamorphosis Dog Training.

Does your dog have the Sex Factor?

Some of you may have read my previous blogs on the challenges of owning an un-castrated teen dog.  After much frustration at the beginning of February, & following advice from two training friends who both own un-castrated males, I’ve been working with Border Collie Guinness & his urges for over a month now.  Nicked-named the ‘sex factor’ by one colleague, this is a great phrase to describe behaviours which often intensify during a testosterone surge, usually experienced by entire male dogs between the age of 7-15 months.  ‘It’s a bit like your 14 year old locking himself in his bedroom with a dirty magazine’, she explained.  The canine equivalent where Guinness was concerned included frantic leg cocking & urine marking, intensive sniffing, licking & salivating over other dog’s wee & leg humping.

 

The Challenge begins.

There is one thing I tell my clients on a regular basis and this is to have a training plan.  Don’t just blindly find yourself in situations where you’re supposed to be training your dog, without first thinking through the possibilities for distraction, reaction, reward, and an all important emergency get out clause, if things get too much for either you or the dog. 

The challenge had been set, to get my teenage puppy Guinness to stop cocking his leg on everything and anything his testosterone filled body declared worth peeing on.  You may all be pleased to hear that on day one, this exercise resulted in a major failure on my part.  I would love to tell you all that as a trainer, I do everything one hundred percent correctly, one hundred per cent of the time.  But of course I don’t.  Last week was a great example of what can go wrong.

 
Muttamorphosis Dog Training Guinness

Challenging Times.

I am a huge advocate of neutering.  It’s very difficult to find a dog person who comes from a rescue background as I do, who isn’t vehemently pro-neutering.  Indeed, I generally advise clients that with a few exceptions, neutering will result in a dog who is easier to live with and healthier in the long term.  So why did I make the choice to leave my current male dog intact for a year, when all my other dogs would have taken their trip to the vet for ‘the chop’ by now?

As a trainer who’s been around for quite a while, it’s easy to give the same old answers to the same old problems.  This is especially true if those problems are likely to be solved by castration (humping, scent marking, some aggression issues, recall challenges around other dogs).  Now what if the client in question is just as against castration as I am an advocate of it?

 

Spooky......

People, who know me, may have thought I’d lost my mind this week. I usually keep to myself on dog walks. I enjoy the tranquility with my own dogs to play & train, since I spend so much work time with other people & their dogs. This week I was seen to approach strangers, chat to the lollypop ladies, mount an empty bus & dance up and down the aisle several times & stand rattling a plastic sign in the wind for no apparent reason. We approached & chatted to other willing dog walkers, stood by two surfing dudes while they stretched & prepared their boards.  I even discussed pneumatic drills with some hard hat clad work men. The final act leading to the questioning of my sanity was my appearance in the kitchen wearing a witch’s hat, a black wig, a scary mask & brandishing a broomstick.

 
Muttamorphosis Dog Training new puppy Guinness

There’s magic in the word ‘no’ but only if you know the spell!

One of the most important lessons to pass on to your dog is the meaning of the word ‘No’.  Those of you who train positively, as I do, may be surprised at my focus on the negative.  However, things may make more sense if I explain that the less your dog hears this magic word, the more of an impression it will actually have on his behaviour & his response to you.  

The average pet dog owner often gets things quite muddled when teaching their dogs the basis of what they can & can’t do.  An 8 week old puppy comes in the home full of willingness to learn.  A veritable blank slate on which you, the owner must fill in the do’s & don’t of life.  If we try to see the world from the puppy’s point of view it’s clear that what they learn, & what their owner is desperately trying to teach them, are often two very different things. 

 
puppy training, Border Collie Guinness at 8 weeks.

The Curious Incident of the Hedgehog in the Night

We have a creature living in our garden.  Several nights ago the dogs were all showing a lot of interest around the vegetable patch, an area usually out of bounds and not at all worth checking out as it’s boring.  When I looked, I was surprised by a very large hedgehog who had sensibly retreated into a football sized spiky mass.  Our garden is thoroughly enclosed with close panel fencing so the creature must have moved into the garden while small enough to fit through the fence and then enjoyed a feast big enough to grow and grow.  No wonder the slugs haven’t been too bad this year.

 
puppy training, Border Collie Guinness at 8 weeks.

A long time to wait for a Guinness!

Never ask someone’s child to come up with a name for your dog. It’s a lose lose situation for all. The kid will declare confidently that ‘Frank’ is a good idea and you’ll have to find ways to let them down gently, that you disagree.  Poor puppy-no-name will stand by hopefully, yet again feeling like he will remain nameless for the foreseeable future.

I ask a lot of my dogs. They are first and foremost beloved family members and pets. They are walking companions, stress relievers and fun times candidates. But they also need to be work colleagues, attend puppy class and help the newbies learn good body language. They need to demo at agility days, obedience classes, clicker tricks.  Most importantly, they are usually trained up as stooges for dog aggression cases which I work with regularly. That’s a lot to expect from them.

 

Would you want to love your best friend again & again & again?

In 2005, the world welcomed its first cloned canine-Snuppy the Afghan Hound.  Great promises of replacements for our beloved pets, scientific breakthroughs in canine disease and research were all hailed as possible outcomes for the South Korean achievement. 

For the lay man out there, it’s hard to understand exactly what goes on, but I’ll try to explain in very brief terms.  DNA from the cell of the dog to be cloned is implanted into a donor egg.  Somehow (details are beyond the average person’s understanding, including me), this DNA fuses with the egg and triggers embryo growth.  The embryo is then implanted into a surrogate bitch producing a cloned puppy, born after normal gestation and whelping. 

 

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