Dog training has its funny side, Clare Benson Lock says. The founder of Dogs Inc lights up when she tells stories, laughing with twinkling eyes.
“I am now training a Newfoundland puppy. He’s only four months, but 20kg already. Mum, the owner, is covered in scratches, bruises and puncture marks. The puppy jumps up and gives her playbites.” Clare said she has introduced the four-paws-on-the-floor rule. No treats for puppy unless he’s grounded. “I am training the puppy and the owner.”
Clare is a Pak Kong resident who is married to Sauce restaurant owner Ivan Lock. She started Dogs Inc training service one year ago.
“The beauty of dog training is every dog is different, every family is different.” She tells of one home where the Sai Kung pedigree bit the family when they hand-fed it. “I thought we’d try putting a treat on a fork. The dog wouldn’t like the metal. It swallowed the whole fork.” Surgery wasn’t necessary. They got the fork out before it disappeared completely down the dog’s throat.
Dogs Inc embodies what Clare has always wanted to do since she was a child. She has a natural affinity for dogs that is obvious to anyone who watches her with them. Since she was a schoolgirl in England, Clare has been studying dog behaviour and training. In Sai Kung, dogs, and Ivan, were her life. The couple began producing children, first Jesse, then Theo. She started The Playhouse on Man Nin Road. “My first venture on my own. I wanted somewhere where I could be with the kids and still run a business.” Now Jesse and Theo are older, needing less of her time, Clare has gone back to her long-time love: Dogs.
She teaches positive reinforcement. “There’s no punishment, no correction, no yanking of leads. It is all reward based, treats.” Mo Morgan, who has seen Clare in action, said, “Amazing trainer — making a big difference to my pack. The best thing is the dogs love her too.”
With patient reward-based training, Clare takes on the issues of multi-dog households, aggressive animals and dogs with behavourial problems. “You ignore behaviours you don’t want and reward behaviours you do want. Keep repeating that and the dog gets the message.”
Clare said she trains the owners themselves. “I give them homework, things they have to practise until the next time I come.”
The Lock family has five of their own dogs. This has its joys and down-sides. On Facebook, she posted a grumble and got lots of laughs. Coming home tired after a long day’s work and needing to put her feet up, she found all seats on the couch and chairs occupied — by the five dogs.
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