Karen's Dogs

Article in the Konect Directory, October 2013, Balerno and Calders editions

Karen Stanfield knows a thing or two about dogs; after completing her four year degree course in Veterinary Nursing, Kirknewton-based Karen divides her time between being a veterinary assistant at the Pentland Veterinary Clinic in Currie and running her own dog training and dog behaviour classes and workshops in Livingston and Whitburn.

The Pentland clinic is a friendly and well-established practice which specialises in 'small' animals (no call outs to tend the sheep and cattle roaming the Pentlands) and is a thriving growing family business. 

Karen has recently been appointed the first representative in Scotland for high profile TV dog training expert, Victoria Stilwell, whose 40 series programme "It's me or the Dog" used to run on Channel 4. Karen, and Victoria, specialise in a form of training described as 'force-free'; it focuses on educating, rather than more aggressively disciplining, your dog to behave well and be well adjusted.

Victoria is expecting to return to our TV screens next year in a new series. This is after her second TV series that she took to the USA which started on a cable channel called Animal Planet. It might be argued that dog care in America is, like many stateside norms, truly like being on another planet. There are doggy Summer Camps, events such as 'Strut Your Mutt' – a dog sponsored walk to raise money for, yes you've already guessed, worthwhile doggy charities. There's the 'how did we live without it' TV channel for dog viewers called DogTV - which fills that missing part of a lonely home-alone dog's life by providing the genuinely needed mental stimulation that dogs need. There's doggy day care with the ever popular 'blueberry facial' which many Californian dog owners swear by and consider completely normal; and then of course there's yoga for dogs. Yes but let's be proper and call it by its right name - Doga. 

Getting all four feet back on the ground and returning to our more reasoned local reality, Karen's D.O.G.S (karensdogs.co.uk) which stands also for Dog Obedience & Guidance Sessions, offers a variety of practical classes and services. Dog training is usually focused on younger dogs with a short programme of inexpensive workshops which are limited to small groups (3-5) with owners always attending. Dealing with behavioural issues, let's be polite and just call these bad habits, is on a one-to-one basis and with many working owners leaving dogs unattended for long spells can often be caused by the lack of mental stimulation, not just exercise, that dogs require.

The essence of everything that Karensdogs supplies is based on the philosophy of positive reinforcement. Dog owners are routinely surprised at how quickly this approach can transform their dog's behaviour. Food plays an important part as well - not only as a reward to help dogs learn but Karen can also explain how certain dog foods with the dreaded 'E' additives can, much like some children get hyperactive on a high sugar diet, have a very negative effect on a dogs behaviour.

Karen can be reached on 07912 844034 or email her at karenstanfield@gmail.com

By James Thomson