Wonder Walks – Review

What’s Wonder Walks?

Wonder Walks is one of a number of online courses by Nosey Barker Dog Training. Nosey Barker introduced online training as a way of reaching people who are not local to their Harlow based training facility.

The Wonder Walks course teaches us, via short videos and tip sheets, how to turn an ordinary dog walk into a Wonder Walk. The premise is that we can turn a dog walk into a mini-adventure. There are eight categories (or modules) included. First, we get an introduction and guidance on the use of food (in training) and using the correct equipment. It’s easy to think this is overkill (more information than we need or want) and skip past it to the interesting stuff. But actually, it’s vitally important. We need to get the basics right. No matter how good at driving you are, you’re less able in flip flops. The right equipment really does make a difference.

The course continues with lessons on Mooching (teaching the dog to relax, sniff & check-in with the handler) and then moves on into activities that we can do to jazz up our daily outings. For example, Send Around (sending the dog around a distant object or tree), Find my Keys and Tree Surfing.

Mr B. doing a spot of tree surfing

What’s the Cost?

If you’re quick, this course is going to be a given freely to those who go and say hello to the Nosey Barker team at Crufts 2020; Hall 1 stand 12.

Thereafter the course will be £25, available from the Nosey Barker website.

What’s So Good?

1: In my many years, I must have read or heard 20 – 30 protocols for fixing the problem of pulling on the lead. The Wonder Walks course takes us beyond the ‘walk at my side’ protocols. It examines the conflicts of interest between human and dog and teaches us how we can both enjoy the great outdoors together in a mutually beneficial relationship.

2: Because the lessons are a sequence of video recordings, you can learn at your own pace. Stop, start, go back and listen whenever you want. This particularly suits my own learning style because I like to pause and think about what’s been said and consider whether or not it’s something I think would work. I like to ponder things over.

3: Each activity has a lesson on starting from scratch at home without distractions. There’s a second lesson for each activity, demonstrating how we transfer the skills into the great outdoors and how to get the greatest value from them.

4: Location is not a barrier. The course can be accessed from anywhere in the world and it’s a great introduction to the world of online dog training without spending a fortune.

5: Each lesson comes with a tip sheet which you can download and print. I found this particularly useful as a reminder of what I’d seen in the video lessons and it saved me going back and watching the whole lesson again.

6: I’ve seen many online dog training courses which are more about making money than they are about good quality dog training. I’m very fussy when it comes to offering courses, but this is one which I really do endorse. It comes from a place of real in-depth knowledge. Nosey Barker is not merely an online trainer facilitator. They host many of the world’s most highly respected training and behaviour experts at workshops and seminars in addition to operating a first-class, local training facility.

What’s Not So Good?

Whilst studying canine behaviour at university, we had to critically evaluate behaviour plans that had been written by professionals in the field. It was one of the things I most enjoyed doing. My brain is very good at seeing possible flaws. This often got me into terrible trouble in my school days, but at uni, it was more welcomed. I found it genuinely difficult to find fault with the training on this course and much of it was very similar to how I’d do it myself. However, here is my fault-finding.

1: There’s a recommendation of using 25% of the dogs daily allowance for training and 75% of the dog’s daily allowance fed in a bowl. The reasoning is that it may be frustrating for dogs to have to do an activity to obtain each bit of their food. Whilst there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this advice, as an advocate of enrichment feeding, I’d argue that if a dog is frustrated to work for their food then we are doing it wrong. For me, it’s about giving dogs an opportunity to engage in an enjoyable activity. It’s allowing them to seek (the food) and for that behaviour to be highly successful. My personal preference is to feed the vast majority (if not all) of the dog’s food in interesting and engaging ways. If you choose to feed in this way then you do need to ensure that you are creating enjoyment and not frustration.

2: The course isn’t interactive so there’s no differentiation for an individual’s particular needs or platform for checking understanding within the course. This isn’t surprising considering the low cost of the course. However, Nosey Barker does have an online FaceBook group so there may be an opportunity there to discuss any problems.

Summary

A very good value course which has the potential to change boring dog walks into enriching and mutually beneficial mini-adventures. A great introduction to online training and an opportunity to see if it suits you. Emphasis is given on building a good relationship with your dog.

If you like my blogs you may also like my book CANINE ENRICHMENT – THE BOOK YOUR DOG NEEDS YOU TO READ

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