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Harper Adams students to train abandoned dogs

Posted 11 September 2013

Dogs have always been my biggest passion and I want every dog to have the home it deserves.

Student Becky Gerard with Arnie the Bullmastiff cross

Students at Harper Adams University are hoping training dogs from a Shropshire rescue kennels will help boost the chances of the animals being rehomed.

Twenty-one students from the university will be paired with dogs from Hilbrae Kennels in Cold Hatton, Telford, later this month for a five-day intensive training course dubbed Hilbrae Doggy Boot Camp 2013.

The students and their four legged friends will be put through their paces by world renowned dog trainer, John Rogerson, who will be assisted by three volunteer dog trainers.

And Dr Louise Buckley, a lecturer in Veterinary Nursing at Harper Adams, hopes the partnership between the university and Hilbrae will not only benefit the students, but also help the dogs to find new homes.

“The aim of the course is to provide participants with a good theoretical grounding of dog training and lots of practical dog training experience,” she said.

“At the same time, we will hopefully train approximately 25 per cent of the dogs at Hilbrae up to the point of passing an exam equivalent to the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Bronze Award so that they are an even more attractive prospect to potential adopters.”

The university has had close links with Hilbrae for around three years with students often visiting the kennels and helping to walk and exercise the dogs.

“It’s the first time we have done the training. I have been on a couple of these courses before and they were very good, and I really want to help to rehome the dogs,” added Dr Buckley.

“I also wanted to give the students the experience I wanted to have as an undergraduate. If it’s a vocational degree they are doing, they need the practical experience too.

“Even if the dogs don’t get rehomed they will have had a really fun week and will have been out meeting people, as well as learning valuable skills that may just help them find new owners.”

Leanne Breeze, from Shawbirch, Telford, is a kennel assistant at Hilbrae, which currently has around 90 dogs and puppies in desperate need of new homes, and will be joining the students on the training course.

The 23-year-old said: “Many of the dogs that come to us have never had any kind of formal training so the chance to have so many of them properly trained is a fantastic opportunity and will hopefully help attract more prospective owners.”

The course, which has been funded with the help of a donation from the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), will take place from September 15 to 19 and will include largely final year students studying Veterinary Nursing and Animal Behaviour and Welfare.

Twenty-two-year-old student Becky Gerard, from near Market Drayton, who is due to graduate later this month with a BSc (Hons) Animal Welfare and Behaviour degree, said: “Dogs have always been my biggest passion and I want every dog to have the home it deserves.

“If I can help make them more attractive to rehome then that’s something I’m enthusiastic about getting involved in.”

The course will aim to produce a dog that will walk and behave in a controlled manner on the lead, will stay in one position on command, and will allow its handler to clean, groom and inspect it. The dog must also be able to be positioned for inspection, for example stand, sit or lie down on either side or on its back, on a lead, and come to hand when called.

Mr Rogerson, founder and principal lecturer of the Northern Centre for Canine Behaviour, is now widely acclaimed as one of the world’s leading dog trainers.

He is the author of eight books, has produced two DVDS and has run courses for Guide Dogs for the Blind, the RSPCA, U.S. Air Force Dog Section, Miami Fire Department Search and Rescue Team, Cyprus Defence Animal Support Unit and the Indian National Kennel Club, to name but a few.

Hilbrae is always looking for volunteers, walkers and potential owners. To contact Hilbrae, call (01952) 541254.

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