Using force while dog is training is just not on!!

If there is one thing that makes me boil it is people, particularly trainers, who use force of any kind to get dogs to comply.

What such people don’t understand is that the dog isn’t doing as it is asked because of respect, love or trust. It is actually complying because of fear of discomfort, or in some cases pain.

I have so many clients who have had experiences with trainers who have told them to jab the dog in the ribs with their thumb, yank on the lead to make it stop pulling or one of the most dangerous ones is push on your pup’s tongue with your thumb if it bites you. It has been proven that behaviours learned through force extinguish very quickly and need a greater intensity of force to achieve compliance as time goes on. I have heard of one person who uses their own dog to put the dogs that are being trained ‘in their place’. This shows a total lack of understanding of ethical training techniques.

A more passive kind of force in dog training is the use of harnesses that press on the dog’s nerve under its front legs when it pulls, choker chains, prong collars and restraints that are fitted around the dog’s muzzle. All of these ‘training aids’ are like a band aid on a sore .You remove the band aid and the sore is still there.

A good trainer should be able to train a dog without even touching it, without having to use ‘equipment’ and without having to use aggression verbally or physically.

I get so much satisfaction from training a dog by only using encouragement and acknowledgement and so should you!

Posted in Trainer's Thoughts

Beach etiquette for dogs

Every dog and its owner have the right to enjoy themselves on the beach. Keeping that in mind, as dog owners, we need to work together to allow for a harmonious beach environment.

Below are some points to consider:

  • Be aware of lead only areas. The rules apply to everyone! Two trouble spots in Coffs Harbour are Murrays Beach and the park at the entrance of the dog beach at the North Wall.
  • If you see a dog approaching you that is on lead – lead your dog up as well, or at the very least, keep your dog by your side. The dog is on a lead for a reason.
  • If you see a dog that is obviously being trained – keep your dog away from it.
  • If a dog is wearing a yellow vest, bandana or lead – this indicates that the dog needs space. Please respect that.
  • If your dog tends to harass other dogs or people – keep it on a lead and get it to a dog trainer.
  • Do not feed treats to other people’s dogs if you haven’t been given permission to do so.
  • If an incident occurs on the beach that involves your dog please don’t walk away and pretend it never happened.
  • If you have several dogs with you on the beach please don’t let them bully other dogs by circling, chasing or standing over other dogs. This is not on!
  • Do not allow your dog to chase wildlife on the beach or in the dunes. This is actually illegal.
  • Bag up your dog’s poos and put them in bins provided. Don’t leave the bags on the beach.

Be aware and be considerate.

Posted in Trainer's Thoughts

So you are having a baby

Congratulations! But it’s my job to think of your dog. Many dogs get pushed into the background once a child comes onto the scene. The dog doesn’t understand, and in the worst case scenario can become aggressive towards the child.

A few suggestions on what to do?

Make a list of what you want your dog to do and not to do when the baby arrives at least four months before due date. Start training these behaviours or implementing changes straight away.


  1. Teach your dog to let you go through doors first. Teach it to sit – you walk through and then call dog through.
  2. Train your dog to station on a mat by: ‘On your mat’, ‘yes’, reward and then give a release word –‘free’ before it can leave the position. Move back further and wait longer before releasing your dog. Always return to your dog before releasing from their station until they get really good at it.
  3. Lay a baby quilt on the floor and teach the dog that it’s not to go onto it. If there are any other no go zones, train the dog about them NOW not when the baby is already there.
  4. Get a recording of a baby crying – maybe on YouTube. PLAY REGULARLY to desensitise dog to sound.
  5. Train you dog not to lick.
  6. Train your dog to walk nicely NEXT TO the baby pram.
  7. Where does your dog sit in the car? If it is where the baby capsule will be – train to go in a different spot.
  8. If your dog is allowed on your bed now – decide if you still want this when your baby arrives.


  1. Bring an item that the baby has been in contact with before baby comes home from hospital – let your dog smell it. Do the same with clothing that mum has worn while breast feeding your baby.
  2. Let your dog smell baby when you bring it home while your child is on your lap. Praise dog for nice calm behaviour.
  3. Allow your dog to interact with you as always and include it in walks and other activities.
  4. Get your dog used to other people coming up to the pram when baby is in it i.e. Reward your dog when someone comes up to pram. This will stop the dog from becoming protective.
  5. Ensure that your dog is wormed regularly.
  6. Maintain normal routines that your dog is used to e.g. walks and play. Don’t change the dog’s whole life just because you have had a baby.
  7. Pay your dog attention as you always did –don’t ignore that it is there.
  8. Be patient with your dog – this is a huge change in its life.
Posted in Trainer's Thoughts

Keeping your dog cool

Lucy with an icy treat on a hot day

Lucy with an icy treat on a hot day

When it’s hot outside and you are uncomfortable, just imagine how your dog feels – it’s wearing a fur coat! Your dog is restricted to your backyard and it is dependent upon you to keep it cool.

Some ideas to keep your dog cool:

  • Provide your dog with a wading pool – in the shade in which it can lie.
  • Ensure that there are several accessible sources of cool, fresh drinking water in your dog’s environment . The water containers should be secured so that they can’t tip over.
  • Make your dog some frozen treats.
  • Put a brisket bone and some salt free stock in an old margarine container. Freeze the contents and pop out of container in a shady spot for the dog to enjoy. You can vary this idea of course.
  • Place an ice brick wrapped in a tea towel where your dog tends to lie down.
  • Lie a tarpaulin covered with some damp towels on the floor for your dog to lie on or next to.
  • Wet your dog with the hose and towel off just lightly.
  • If you are leaving your dog alone, ensure access to cool areas i.e. tie back doors or gates that may close accidentally.
  • Take your dog for a swim at the beach or water hole. Remember that the sand will be hot.
  • Keep the air conditioning on or a fan.
  • Be aware that the tar on roads will burn your dog’s pads on hot days as will the trays in the back of utes. Leave your dog at home when it’s hot.
Posted in Trainer's Thoughts

Chilli’s Story


Chilli is Kyra’s own dog. Kyra is the owner and trainer of Bright Bessy Dog Training.

Chilli is a certified Community Support Dog – visiting people in need. She is also a Canine Dog Trainer

Kyra says:

I bonded with Chilli a long time ago. I remember saying to her breeder, “If you ever want to sell that dog – she’s mine”. My dream came true and I got my black beauty.

I initially trained Chilli to help me train dogs with reactivity problems by teaching her subtle movements that in the dog world, have a calming effect. She is never used in an aggressive or dominant manner. She then also developed some behaviours that allowed her to assist with dogs that pull on the lead – once again – totally passive. Chilli sometimes comes in with me when I’m training pups at pup school and instinctively lies next to pups that are agitated.

Four years ago, I saw the need for dogs to be trained to a high standard, so that they would be well behaved and effective in visiting those in our community, that need a visit and some cheering up. As a result, Chilli was trained in order to fill that void. That is how Bright Bessy Dog Training Community Support Dogs was conceived – but that’s another story.

She is an amazing dog. I have only heard her bark once. Chilli does not react to other dogs and has the happiest tail that wags constantly. She has a sixth sense with people that she visits and seems to know just what to do for each individual. She will give a little whine and look at someone if she knows that they need her help. She has made people who haven’t spoken for extended periods, talk, and recluse people, engage.

Yes, Chilli is my dog, and yes, I may be biased, but in all of my years as a dog trainer, I have never come across a dog who is so knowing, so patient and so very wise. She really is one in a million.

Posted in Dog Stories