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Welcome to the Natural Dog

I thought for my first blog I might start with telling you a little bit about myself. My name is Alyssa Cowgill, but everyone calls me Lysky.

I have always loved dogs and had dogs growing up but it wasn’t till I got my first rehome dog Nugget that the desire arose to do more with my dogs than just having them as pets. Nugget was driving his family before us crazy, and though he was loved dearly he was just way too much dog for the young family too handle. He was chewing up things, jumping fence (and tall ones at that) and just a lot of mischief. We (my husband and I) decided we were up for the challenge. My husband and I enrolled at our local dog school with Marina Angel (who became my mentor and friend) to figure out how to channel Nugget's energy into something positive. We were soon in the advanced class and we both loved it. We then took on some search and rescue and from there on truffling.

I soon realised that I loved being and working with my dogs, I decided to throw in my job as a chef and try my hand at the dog world. I was very lucky to have Marina Angel guide me and teach me how to refine my dog skills and how to help others too. She took me out with her working dogs, got me to watch body language, got me involved as a teacher during class so I could start putting my training into practice. Boy do you learn a lot when you start trying to explain to people what is in your head!

Meanwhile because my dog stuff was volunteer at that time, I also took a job with horses, training and educating with Erwin Van Vliet. He smoothed my rough edges and gave me the direction I didn’t even realised I needed (and turned me into a horse person). So much of what I learnt working with horses is so transferable to dogs and vice versa. It’s all about body language and more what you do rather than what you say. You learn to master your mind, practice calm and question everything. My 2 new favourite words; 'Balance' and 'Why'. I’ll talk more about those in future blogs.

In amongst all this I was doing truffle season which lasts from Mid-May to the end of August. This was the turning point for me. Realising I could turn something I love into my career. I now have 4 dogs; Nugget the Labrador, Biddie the Kelpie, Mia the Husky cross and Macca the newest addition, a Labrador. They are all working dogs, mostly truffles, are all on a raw diet (and look fabulous for it) and they are all a bit spoilt because they are like family to me.

When I was younger I was always told if you want to work dogs you need to treat them different. You know the ones I’m talking about, farmers who pen their dogs out back etc. While I do have rules I am much more relaxed now and allow more freedom within our training. I don’t need my dogs like perfect robot types just a pleasant family member that can engaged their drive. Most of time the reward far outweighs any negatives.

So if you are looking at finding some balance with your dogs, using positive reinforcement, body language, dog psychology and train with ease and flow maybe you have found the right spot.

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