The story behind ‘The Spaniel Guru’.

May 31, 2023
Copy of Resource guarding resources Facebook Cover

If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll know that at the end of March, I officially rebranded as The Spaniel Guru.

It’s been nearly six years since I set up the business under ‘Pawsitively Pawsome’, and it will always have a fond place in my heart. But as I’ve progressed in my business journey ( with the help of my beautiful boys, Kobie and Bailey), I’ve niched more and more to work with Spaniels.

Why Spaniels, I hear you ask?

Having two Spaniels of my own, it’s a breed I adore and understand. I even love all the challenges they bring (of which there can undoubtedly be a lot, can’t there?!)

I’m also super passionate about showing you, as their owners, how to work with their ‘Spanielness’ and not against it, so you can manage your stress levels when your Spaniel has a very ‘Spaniel-y’ day! Which they will!

I do this through positive, kind and fun training designed to help you both live your best Spaniel life.

And across the five and a half years of training thousands of gorgeous Spaniels both in person, on Zoom calls and in my award-winning Spaniel membership, I‘ve been called a “guru” a fair bit. 

As I always say, Spaniels don’t tend to read the rule book; they tear it up!

And they often cause me to think outside the box on an hourly basis!

They’re a sensitive breed and need a particular kind of training to work with their genetic needs and instincts and not against them, so it felt right to take ownership of the name everyone was starting to call me, and become the Spaniel Guru, and specialise exclusively in working with Spaniels and Spaniel Crosses.

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Surrounded by Spaniels in a field. What’s not to love?!

The lightbulb moment that began my dog training journey.

Whilst I was developing my knowledge of all things dog behaviour, I was also regularly engaging in a Spaniel Facebook group, sharing tips and advice based on my own journey. One day, somebody reached out to me and asked if I’d ever thought about doing this as a career. Well, lightbulb moment right there! The next day, I decided to go for it. I opened up my notebook, looked up how to create a Facebook business page on my phone, and all of a sudden Pawsitively Pawsome was born, and I was a business owner!

Before starting the company, after University I worked in a variety of different graduate jobs, even having the chance to go and work in Australia. But I would find myself regularly daydreaming outside the office window. Sitting still all day was impossible for me, and on the flight to Australia, I started drafting up some imaginary business plan for what it could be like if I worked for myself.

A little while after the company I was working for made me redundant as they were moving, and I didn’t want to relocate. I then got a part-time job for a while, which enabled me to start working on the page. When I first started I didn’t have a clue how to even write a post and don’t even get me started on understanding the Facebook algorithm so the post also can get seen! But I started teaching myself more about it all and learning from others.

Some of my first clients came in through that original Spaniel page and they weren’t local. But I eagerly hopped on the train, somehow made it there in one piece, and spent the day training the gorgeous Maisy and Marley. We worked on so much, had lunch and went for the most lovely walk. I had a coffee with their amazing owner who is also now a friend, and on the way home even after several delays, I had a smile on my face the whole journey.

Shortly after I handed in my notice at the part-time job and just thought, “Ok, let’s go for it!” I began my official training, passed a rigorous assessment to the highest level, and qualified with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers.

I then went on to qualify with Absolute Dogs, and since then, I’ve done more courses than your Spaniel can shake a muddy stick at! 

I love to develop my skill set and improve my knowledge constantly, so when you work with me, you‘re getting access to the most up-to-date help and research out there in a very unregulated industry,

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My very first Spaniel clients. The beautiful, Maisy and Marley.

Let me tell you a bit about myself and the two cheeky pups that inspired the business.

After we had lost our last dog, Scooby, my mum was adamant we wouldn’t get another. Until one day, something astonishing happened. I think she’d had too many vinos the night before and decided to get a dog… and my life changed forever!

I was so shocked and excited; I nearly spat my drink out! The deal was she got to choose the breed.

“Let’s get a Spaniel she said; I’ve heard Cockers are calmer.” (Possibly the silliest thing my mother has ever said. We’ll blame the wine!)

Shortly after this, an 8-week-old (absolutely not calm in any sense of the word!) Cocker Spaniel/racing car! called Kobie entered my life.

My challenges with my crazy Spaniel, Kobie.

I soon realised Kobie had challenges. He hadn’t come from a good home, and he struggled. He was a very scared little dog. 

He wasn’t comfortable in social situations. He barked at anything and everything, and he hated being alone. 

He screamed if I left him. And I mean screamed! Even if it was just to pop to the loo or make a cup of tea.

And as he got older, he started barking and lunging at joggers, cyclists, dogs, people and even leaves. You name it; he barked at it! 

Kobie also had a lot of medical problems having to stay in the vets and missing out on vital socialisation, and the pain he was experiencing understandably affected his behaviour.

I knew he needed help. But I wasn’t entirely sure what.  I remember frantically searching Google for ways to help him. But I felt completely overwhelmed and confused by the mass of information and conflicting advice. There were no consistent answers, and I was left in a worse place than before. Some of the advice just seemed really mean and also a bit silly. “Jab him in the ribs when he barks” No thanks. “Roll him on the floor to show him you’re boss, and you’re top dog. ” Now although Kobie had his issues, he absolutely knew I was a human and not a dog!

After facing many difficulties with Kobie and getting more and more confused looking for help, I started using my knowledge from my degree. (Who knew there were so many crossovers in how dog and human minds work?!) I began to read and study anything dog-related and got to know some fantastic local trainers and behaviourists. I started helping them out in their classes, picking their brains about everything and just watching them like a bit of a stalker ha, and gradually me and Kobie started making progress together. Progress that I was told by so many people before he would never make.

Now Kobie is nearly 10. Although he thinks he’s mentally around 6 months old! We call him “The Curious Case of Kobie Button” as each year he tends to regress a few years!

He has the longest most complex vet history ever, and he can still hurt my brain on an hourly basis! But he can be left alone, he can go on group walks with no reaction. He can go on day trips, chill at the pub, walk past joggers without batting an eyelid, and I often get complimented on his behaviour and asked if it took me long to train him?! Ha ha! He still has his challenges but what dog doesn’t?

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Kobie nails his “butter wouldn’t melt” pose. But now you know the truth!

Since then, I’ve also had another little Sable Cocker, Bailey, join my Spaniel crew!

Because I am clearly a glutton for punishment! But also I’d been well and truly hooked by then, on the joy that is Spaniels! soon it was time to add another Cocker to the crazy mix.

At the time, me and my now husband were just buying our first house. The deal of me moving in with him was I will, but I want another Spaniel! In hindsight, I should have asked for another 3. Ha!

Agreement reached, and Bailey came home.

Bailey is a busy busy little dog who loves to please! He’s a Show Cocker Spaniel. Although, I don’t think he got that memo, as he acts 100% like a Working Cocker out and about! His obsession with birds drove me insane! But after much wine, coffee and hours of work, he can be off-lead around them without me losing him into the next county!

Bailey often helps me with my clients’ dogs too. He’s a little superstar at helping scared dogs learn that not all dogs will hurt them and teaching cheeky little puppies that not everything has to be at a thousand miles per hour! 

Although Kobie and Bailey are the best of friends, they are like chalk and cheese, which you often find with Spaniels! They’re often one extreme or the other, there’s not much room for middle ground!

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Bailey and Kobie – the picture of innocence. Which couldn’t be further from the truth!

My mission at The Spaniel Guru. 

My mission is to increase your understanding of this beautiful breed, enhance the bond between you, and help you develop a fantastic fun relationship.

I’m incredibly passionate about taking a holistic approach to dog training and behaviour. So I work with vets, physios and other great professionals to ensure we look at your Spaniel as a whole rather than just the “problem behaviour”. Otherwise, it’s a little bit like sticking a plaster over an open wound!

I also use a games-based approach. Because fun is ‘fun-damentaI’ when it comes to Spaniels, right?! When I first asked for help with Kobie, I also felt very judged, so it’s also very very key to me that anyone that works with me faces zero judgement, and only 100% understanding and support.

After years of training, experience and practice, I’ve realised that although Spaniels and Spaniel mix breeds can be crazy, they really can learn to calm down.

I found a lot of the generic dog advice just doesn’t apply to Spaniels. They’re a very sensitive breed, and they need a particular sort of training. As I said above, I remember well the time I lost Bailey to a flock of birds, and I just had to wait there until he eventually chose to come back! Now when he sees a bird, he automatically looks back at me and recalls himself away… most of the time, anyway!

I remember the time I jumped into someone’s hedge to avoid Kobie seeing another dog and losing the plot. Now he goes on group walks with other dogs, with no issues.

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Me with the ‘Best In Specialist Dog Training and Behaviour Services in Central England’ award 2022/2023 and a ‘Gold Special Recognition Award; for being a multiple award-winner!

I’m here for you because I know how owning a Spaniel feels.

🐾 I know how it feels for your dog to bark and lunge at absolutely anything they fancy. (Postmen, plastic bags, the wind… You name it; a Spaniel will bark at it!)

🐾 I know how it feels to be judged as an owner.

🐾 I know how it feels to apologise about your dog’s behaviour constantly.

🐾 I know how it feels to think you’ll never be able to let your dog off the lead.

🐾 I know how it feels to be completely confused and overwhelmed with your new puppy.

🐾 I know how it feels to think you’re doing it all wrong.

And I also know how to help you and make things better.

When you work with me, I won’t judge you. I won’t reprimand you.

Instead, I’ll support you. I’ll celebrate your achievements. I’ll be there as a shoulder to cry on if you need to.

Because of my knowledge and expertise, I’m proud to have been awarded the winner of Best In Online Pet Training Services in Central England 20/21 and the winner of Best In Specialist Dog Training Services in Central England 21/23. And at the time of writing this, I’ve been shortlisted for a Business of the Year award. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Training a Spaniel is like riding a rollercoaster. One minute, you’re enjoying the ride; the next, you’re holding on for dear life! Sometimes, you even feel physically sick. And there are also times when you want to get off the damn thing and demand a refund!  

My journey with my boys has been no different. When I’m walking them, I often receive compliments on their behaviour. They’ve perfected the angelic butter would not melt look for the camera! But they’ve increased my wine and gin consumption dramatically, and made me invest in anti-ageing skincare to hide the stress lines! They’ve both driven me insane on a daily basis. That being said, I wouldn’t change any of it! They’ve both taught me more than any course or book could possibly do.

On the whole, we have stress-free walks together now (well mostly, they are Spaniels after all!) And they can do everything I was told they never would be able to.

And your Spaniel can be the same.

You can have those stress-free walks you deserve with the Spaniel of your dreams!

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Just me with my boys ❤️

So if you’re looking for someone to help you that never judges, keeps it real, and most importantly 100% understands Spaniels (as well as all those wine-inducing, bird-chasing moments!), I’m here for you. 

Grab my FREE e-book, ‘HOW THE HELL TO CALM YOUR SPANIEL DOWN,’ here. Inside, I’ll show you my 3-step solution to calm down and control your crazy spaniel!

Hannah x

By Hannah Antrobus

Hannah is a spaniel specialist dog trainer for spaniels and spaniel crosses. Her catchment area is Warwickshire but she offers video sessions and works with clients nationally and internationally so don’t hesitate to get in touch from wherever you are in the world!

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