Kind and Gentle Methods

Millie's Story By Hannah Kemp

My name is Hannah Kemp and I own 2 Working Sheepdogs, Millie who is 4 years old and Flynn who is nearly 1 year old. This is Millie’s story.

Millie was brought home on 5th December 2003 when she was 7 weeks old. She was as all puppies are cute, fluffy and adorable. We had decided on a Border Collie after doing some research, we both had dogs at home when we lived with our parents and we enjoy an active life So thought that we could provide a border collie with a good home and so Millie became the new member of our family. Millie grew quickly and we took her to puppy classes at the vets for socialising and started to train her with a clicker. She took to it well and could do the sit and down with ease. We enquired from people we knew about training classes and were pointed in the direction of Karma dog training. So when Millie was about 2 – 3 months old we attended a Thursday night class, where we meet Jane and Claudine for the first time. It was also the first time we were introduced to the training methods that Jane and Claudine use.

Millie did well at training and enjoyed learning all the activities, a clever little girl. However Millie was not all sweetness and light, she was obsessive and had started to fly catch, leaping in the air and snapping at apparently nothing, she did this in the house and constantly when out on a walk. It was funny at first but it soon became impossible to get her attention. She had also developed a problem travelling with nonstop barking and licking. This was horrible and travelling soon became a nightmare no matter what we did we could not stop this behaviour.  There were also lots of other issues with her, in that she was badly behaved at dog training and would not come when called; she would test our patience to say the least. A very persistent dog she never seemed to get bored of any of these behaviours.

All of these problems were of our doing, at the time I would have done anything to be told that it wasn’t us and that Millie was to blame but this was not the case. Millie is a dog with a very active brain that worked overtime to push the right buttons to get what she wanted. This was when it became obvious to us that we had not taken what Jane and Claudine had told us seriously enough. Millie was running rings around us, causing me to stress at her behaviour, which spurred her on even more. The only thing that worked with her was to follow all the “rules” set by Jane and Claudine and sticking to them as a lifestyle change. Slowly and surely Millie’s behaviour changed and life became manageable again. We could enjoy her, but as the dog she was, not as the dog we wanted her to be. By this I mean Millie is not a dog that likes to be cuddled, the more you ignore her appropriately and teach her that attention in the form of a game or a quick stroke came only when we requested, the better she was. She does not crave attention or like being surrounded by us. She is quite happy to take herself off and sleep somewhere alone. However, she slowly started to sleep at our feet during the evening and this was about as much as she could give us.

Millie has taught us a lot about dog behaviour and showed us that they deserve a great deal of respect and should be treated as dogs not as humans. You must live as a pack not a family and packs run on leadership and this is what Millie requires. Jane and Claudine have been invaluable in our learning and our progression, without them I dread to think what might have happened. Millie will still remind us if we have let some of the rules drop but we know that normality will return with the implementation of them.

I now compete with Millie in obedience, and have learnt some heel work to music moves, we also go sheepdog training where the meaning of leadership is more important than ever. She is now 4 years old and is by no means perfect, she would happily go back to her old ways if she was not given a position within the pack to live by. It is only us, as her owners that can provide her with the stability that she requires. It has been a slow process with Millie but a journey that makes me feel proud to be her owner. Flynn lives by the same rules and the two get on like a house on fire. He is a completely different dog in nature but still benefits from the rules.

This story is to show that it is not only rescue dogs that need rehabilitation, it can be any dog, and it tends not to be the dog that needs rehabilitating but the owner so they can understand their dog.  All I can say is Millie’s story is an ongoing one and there’s many more years ahead on the journey.

 Hannah and Millie x