We all need a little TLC
You may have seen Thinking Like Canines (TLC) seminars advertised in the E-vents section of Agilitynet and wondered just what it's all about. Just who is Barbara Sykes and why you should attend one of her seminars. Diana Lowe attended one of Barbara's packed seminars last year and says that Barbara's enthusiastic and positive comments helped sort out her difficult dog Storm.
Thinking Like Canines is a unique method to provide firm foundations for the successful training for agility, obedience, working trials, sheepdog trials or to be a happy, well behaved dog in a companion home. Whatever your end goal, a firm bond with your dog is essential and TLC teaches how to achieve that very special relationship highlighted by Steve Croxford in his article 'Simply the Best – What Makes a Good Handler Great?
Barbara Sykes is a sheep farmer and the international trialist who also runs the Mainline Border Collie Centre in Yorkshire. This is not a breeding nor a rescue centre, although there was a litter of puppies last summer – she breeds only for a replacement in her pack – and there are long term rescues amongst the 21 collies and one beardie currently in residence.
Some of the pack live in the kennels, but others live in the house and her lovely Hope sleeps on her bed, so forget the hard hearted farmer myth. Author of a number of books including Understanding Border Collies and Understanding Your Dog, Barbara and her dog team run corporate training days, the sheepdog experience, assertion and confidence building courses (excellent with children who have been bullied) and individual consultations for owners of problem dogs – all breeds, not just collies. Her magazine, Freedom of Spirit, is a must read for all dog lovers.
stranger to success in competition.
All this work is built around her unique Thinking Like Canines technique and it is this that she works with during the seminars, assisted by three members of her dog team, usually Skye, Mossie and Rob. TLC teaches us to get into a dog’s mind and understand what they really think rather than our human perception of how we think they think. Basic good manners are an integral part of TLC and all TLC dogs are taught to walk behind their owners when told, and to have instant recall, a stop and a wait. This goes back to the wild where it is essential that pack members obey the pack leader and must work together for the survival of the pack.
is it just about Border Collies then?
He was heading for an ASBO -of the permanent kind, but got lucky as the programme’s producer likes Beardies and wanted to use one for the programme which follows Herbie’s progress with Barbara – the most important part being the learning of good manners and then to achieve the programme’s goal – to take a dog and train it to do the job it had originally been bred to do. In Herbie’s case to work sheep.
The programme has already been screened in the US to rave reviews and emails to Barbara seeking her help with other problem dogs. This ‘make over’ programme has a very happy ending. Herbie not only has a permanent home with Barbara but he is a key member of her Corporate Collies team. It is essential that her dogs not only work sheep in a calm, controlled manner but that they are completely reliable with her clients, many of whom are not dog people and are very apprehensive of being taken out of their comfort zone. Herbie could not have joined the team unless she was 100% sure that his behaviour was now totally acceptable. He’s still a clown though – but a nice one!
Natural communication, canine psychology, nutrition, nervous and dominant aggression, hyperactivity, the reasons for pulling on the lead, poor recalls and waits, are just some of the issues addressed at the seminars. There are opportunities for discussion, debate, questions and hands on experience during a relaxed, fun, but also serious day (or two).
A lot of her seminars are on the events section of Agilitynet but a full list can be found her on her website – www.bordercollies.co.uk – along with information about all her activities, lists of her books and some interesting articles. These seminars benefit handlers and trainers. They are fun – this lady loves to laugh but, at the same time, is sensitive both to people and to their dogs. They are interactive – she welcomes questions and comments as she goes along – you will not be preached at. All she asks is that you come with an open mind and total honesty. If you book in to work your dog with her, then she needs to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
About the author
Diana works as an event manager for WWF UK'