Why do they call me the Spaniel Guru?

August 11, 2021
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After we had our last dog Scooby my mum was adamant we wouldn’t get another again.

Until one day something very surprising happened, she decided she wanted to get a Spaniel… and my life changed forever!

I returned home from studying Criminology and Human Psychology at university for three years, skills I still use to this day… would you believe dog psychology has a cross over with the way the human mind works too?

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Puppy Kobie

When I got home she announced she wanted another dog. I was so shocked and excited by this I nearly spat my drink out!

The deal was that she got to pick the breed.

That was when she said ‘Let’s get a Spaniel, I’ve heard they’re calm’

And that was the silliest thing my mother has ever said! 

Shortly after this Kobie, an 8 week old, not calm, Cocker Spaniel joined my life.

My challenges with Kobie my crazy Spaniel

Kobie had challenges. I soon realised that he wasn’t comfortable in social situations, he barked at everything and he hated being alone. He was very scared. I remember looking at Google for how to help him and feeling completely overwhelmed and confused by the mass of information and conflicting advice. There were no consistent answers, and that was when I realised that there’s too much information out there! I was overwhelmed and in a worse place than I was before.

After facing difficulties with Kobie I started using my knowledge from my Degree, there are some similarities between human and dog behaviour. I read more and more about dog behaviour, and I got to know amazing local trainers and behaviourists, and started helping them out in their classes.

hannah antrobus the spaniel inner circle

My lightbulb moment to begin my dog training journey

It was during one workshop with some top trainers who were on TV at the time that I realised I wanted to do this as a career. So I took up training and qualified with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers, after passing a very rigorous assessment to the highest level.

I also qualified with Absolute Dogs and I’ve done more courses than I can name since, as I love to constantly develop my skill set. In my training, I use a games-based approach because fun is fun…fundamental to your training.

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

Working with Blake, the Spaniel in Switzerland

I’ve even worked with international Spaniel and Spaniel cross owners via video call to share my knowledge, three years ago I worked against time differences and distance with a Spaniel owner in Australia who I reached out to after seeing her enquiry on Facebook.

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The Australian families review ⬆️

Since then I’ve not let barriers like distance or time zones get between helping other Spaniel owners, like Blake from Switzerland who was obsessed with chasing birds, planes and anything that flies.

Blake pictured above

After working closely with his owner we got Blake to be the good boy she always knew he could be, in fact her testimonial speaks for itself. 

Chantal said: “Before we started training with Hannah, Blake would be all over the place chasing or looking for birds, planes, paragliders (basically anything that flies).

“In Switzerland Working Cockers are not known and no one was able to help me. Hannah really understands spaniels and knew just how to help Blake and me.

“Working over zoom and whats app with Hannah is great, no disadvantages at all. She also shows some exercises with her own dogs to make it all clear! Now we can enjoy our walks and his recall has improved a lot!”

I’ve learnt a lot over the years, such as the fact you will never tire your Spaniel out through walks, but by learning how to use their brain and nose!

In fact my clients even call me ‘The Spaniel Guru’ because of how much I can help them understand about their Spaniels.

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In action with the Spaniels

A tired Spaniel is a cranky Spaniel

Just like when babies or toddlers are ‘too tired’ to sleep they become cranky, spaniels get cranky when they can’t relax, when they’ve been on endless walks running through fields and fields but still can’t unwind.

This is because this activity actually increases their energy! Even though your legs are tired from walking, your spaniel still wants more

It’s a myth that you can tire them out through long walks, they are like the Mo Farah of the dog world, they will run all day and then sign up to another run.

Even if you are throwing the ball on the walk for them. As ball throwing raises their adrenaline levels, meaning they will get more excited.

How to get your Spaniels brain working to tire them out

What your spaniel needs is some brain activity! Instead of throwing the ball try hiding it in some long grass and get that spaniel nose working to find it.

To teach this:

  • Show your spaniel the ball
  • Put the ball down
  • Tell your spaniel to ‘find it’
  • Put the ball under something obvious like a towel
  • And tell them to ‘go and find it’
  • Then you can take this outside and try hiding the ball under different objects and give the ‘find it’ cue

Working with Albie, the Cocker Spaniel who couldn’t settle down

This is what helped my client and her 10 month old Working Cocker Spaniel Albie. Albie was described as ‘not knowing how to settle’ and I saw this in him straight away.

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Albie above

When I got to the house I sat down and all of a sudden, Albie was on my head (his speed was pretty impressive) my cup of tea was nearly inhaled, caffeine is always a bad idea for spaniels… but especially Albie.

His owners said they were exhausted, they couldn’t keep up with him, he was 1000 miles an hour with everything, they couldn’t have visitors round as believe it or not many people don’t want a spaniel on their head, fancy that! And they also didn’t have a shutter speed on their camera that worked quick enough to capture him!

Fast forward to present day, Albie settles all day while his owners work, they enjoy having friends round without having to send out a warning about how they may leave wearing a spaniel! And they actually have to wake him up to do things. They receive daily compliments of strangers saying wow has he always been this chilled?! On a recent holiday they actually got told off by people for castrating him, as they wanted one of his puppies! 

Albie’s owners have now even added a second Spaniel, if I’d have told them they would be doing this when they came to me with Albie they would’ve fallen off their chairs! Both Albie and puppy Ned are becoming best buddies.

Albies owner, Emma said: “We had previously attended puppy and kennel club classes, but they made us feel silly and embarrassed. 

“Hannah’s knowledge of spaniels has been invaluable to us, she immediately knew how she could help and what changes needed to be made. She teaches using bitesize games and techniques that you can fit into your daily routine, and the best thing of all is that Albie loves everything she has taught him.

“Albie can now stay cool, calm and collected in new situations, he no longer throws himself over any visitors, he can walk well on a lead and his recall is better than we ever thought possible. He’s never going to be “perfect”, and we wouldn’t want him to be – but to us he is everything we wanted and more when we decided to get a spaniel. We can’t thank Hannah enough for everything she has done for us, and would recommend her to anyone looking for some help training their dog.”

Spaniels aren’t robots so there will be bumps along the way

I can’t promise there won’t be training hiccups, or embarrassing walks. Because I still have days like this. 

Spaniels are living, breathing animals so of course they will have their good, bad and totally mischievous days.

Whilst I can and have helped so many Spaniels, they do have a mind of their own after all. 

It’s ok to have those days you would rather forget. It doesn’t make you a bad owner or bad at training your dog.

I’ll tell you a story, one day I was out with my two Cocker boys Kobie and Bailey. Kobie saw a branch in some water that he rather liked the look of.

Off he jumped straight into the pond.

But the branch he wanted is actually part of a tree still rooted into the ground beneath the surface. 

He couldn’t possibly leave it in the water…

So I had to collect him!

Unfortunately my wellies stopped at a certain point and the water didn’t. I squelched the rest of the way home. 

Much to my despair and my fiance’s amusement, he got some funny social media content though. You can watch it here… thank me later! 

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So yes dogs are dogs, Spaniels are Spaniels!

So if your dog does something and you think oh my actual lord, please remember we all have those moments.

And what has Kobie done since his epic water fail?

A perfect retrieve and recall from water!

I want to remind you that just like us humans, Spaniels have their mad moments and down days too.

I’ve worked with dog owners who class their dog as ‘naughty’ or ‘out of control’, and we’ve worked our magic to get them to behave better and more importantly become a treasured part of the family.

Working with Buddy the Spaniel who ran away from other dogs

Like Buddy who would ‘lose his mind’ at the sight of a dog more than two football pitches away, after working together he now walks off lead without batting an eyelid at dogs close by.

His owner Helen said: “We had started to question our abilities as dog owners with Buddy.

“After meeting with Hannah she explained to us that the behaviour our boys were displaying was actually due to fear and anxiety, especially around other dogs.

“She helped us to identify the cause of their ‘trauma’ and explained the methods and lifestyle changes we needed to introduce to help our babies be happier.

“I feel like she has fixed parts of us that were broken and given us the confidence as owners that I never thought we would have.”

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Buddy (on the right) and his brother Archie

As my business has grown and I’ve become more and more popular amongst Spaniel owners, with my waiting list growing weekly, I realised that I either needed to clone myself or come up with a solution to help more Spaniel owners!

That’s when I had my light bulb moment…

How I help Spaniel and Spaniel mix owners all over the world

I have created the first of its kind monthly live membership for Spaniel owners where I can share my knowledge, The Spaniel Inner-circle.

With my Spaniel Inner-circle is help you lay solid foundations so that days where you’re pulling your hair out with your crazy Spaniel become rare, and the majority of the time your Spaniel is the dog you’ve always wanted them to be.

My diary is completely booked for one to one clients until 2022, which is why I have created the Spaniel Inner-circle because I want to help as many Spaniels in the UK and across the globe as possible.

The Spaniel Inner-circle is the only way to work with me and get to know my Spaniel secrets without being a client of mine.

In its first week 105 Spaniel pet parents signed up to get the advice they need for their Spaniel.

This is what members are already saying:

“We no longer feel alone”

“I have already learnt so much”

“I’m excited and feel like this will really help!”

“I’m loving working with someone who understands the breed”

It’s the first of its kind Spaniel focused membership that gives you help and support in training your Spaniel.

Each month there will be a live session with me where I will share my Spaniel secrets, answer your Spaniel questions and give you insight and the help needed to get a well behaved Spaniel and a closer relationship with your dog.

There will also be a special guest live session who will share their Spaniel expertise and advice.

The membership also includes a community forum where you can connect to other Spaniel parents and ask me your Spaniel questions.

The membership gives you the tools to help ensure that your puppy or dog becomes a sociable member of the family, a Spaniel who you can enjoy stress free walks with and even family days out and trips to the pub!

It’s an opportunity to let me guide you with my expert knowledge to develop a deeper understanding of your Spaniels needs, including how best to play games that will bond and strengthen your relationship.

Our first ever guest session was a huge success with Jamie from Sniffer Dogs UK, he spoke about scentwork for spaniels and spaniel crosses. The benefits, games you can do. And how it tires your Spaniel out more than any walk. And he also answered members questions.

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A preview from the session with Jamie in the Spaniel Inner-circle. All live sessions are uploaded to watch on replay!

There’s also already material in there about teenage Spaniels from expert animal behaviourist Danielle Beck as well as a video from me about garden barking. 

There’s also my e-book ‘How the Hell to calm your Spaniel Down’ available in there for download.

Plus an amazing Spaniel Enrichment e book which gives you loads of ideas for getting your Spaniel brain and nose working to help tire them out! 

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Preview of the Spaniel enrichment guide

For just the price of one coffee per week I can help  you get the bond you always wanted and find out how the hell to calm your Spaniel down.

So, what are you waiting for? Click here to join the Spaniel Inner-circle now!

You can read more about the Spaniel Inner-circle in press coverage from the reporter at the Leamington Courier here and in the Coventry Telegraph here!

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!

Want to learn how the hell to calm your Spaniel down?

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How the hell to calm your spaniel down

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