Meet the Dog Nanny
Ex child nanny and creator of the Incredibly Clever Canine Circus, Deborah Colella aka The Dog Nanny, gives us an insight into her fascinating world. Have you ever heard of a dog nanny? Imagine combining all the patience and compassion of a child’s nanny with the knowledge and craft of a dog specialist. The Dog Nanny is passionate about pooches AND their humans, and enjoys nothing more than collaborating with owners to grow the minds and skills of the UK’s furry friends.
What would you regard as your best skill that lends itself to this type of career?
I’ll have to say two: Number 1 is infinite patience and Number 2 is indefatigable determination. Just the same as looking after kids really! Oh, and number 3 is an unshakeable sense of humour so that even when it’s all going very wrong you can just laugh and carry on.
The Incredibly Clever Canine Circus is a really unique initiative, can you tell us a little more about it?
I was intent on finding a non-traditional training concept that would catch people’s imaginations. One day I happened upon a YouTube video of a Canine Circus School in Oakland, California - an imaginative, entertaining way to engage people in having fun with their dogs - exactly what I had been dreaming of. I took my inspiration from this and adapted it to create The Incredibly Clever Canine Circus. We are a raggedy band of misfits, rascals and troublemakers chasing our dreams from place to place so, whilst we train mostly in London, we go where we are invited and are running workshops across the country this summer.
What’s the most beneficial result that dogs and their owners gain from The Incredibly Clever Canine Circus?
As the owners are busy getting to grips with the tricks and routines, the dogs are learning that paying attention to their person is beneficial. We work outside in busy London parks and, quite frankly, anything can happen during a class. We create what I like to call “intentional chaos” within the Circus itself - the dogs can be doing different things at the same time, whilst I skateboard through the middle of the ring wearing a cape and honking a clown horn!
Learning how to keep training through all of that gives owners the skills and confidence to deal with the busiest of London parks, even in the height of summer.
Dogs are man’s best friend, but they have little idea of how we feel about them. How do dogs adjust their behaviour and read their human in order to create a relationship with them?
For a long time, dogs have been painted as these Machiavellian characters intent on taking over the world when, in fact, they mostly want a quiet life, regular meals, fresh air, fun and the love of their family.
Dogs only do what works for them and don’t understand why it’s ok to sometimes jump up on you and other times not, so consistency in our training makes their lives a great deal easier. That said, they are very forgiving of our very human unpredictability and we should give them the recognition they deserve for that - have you known a dog refuse to give you a cuddle because their dinner was late? Exactly!
If you were to offer one snippet of advice to dog owners about managing their dog’s behaviour, what would it be?
Engage. If the only thing you are going to do with your dog today is take them for a walk, put your phone away and go for a walk together. It’s no different than raising your kids - if you don’t pay attention to your dog, don’t expect them to pay attention to you. Relationships are a two-way street and the more you put in, the more you get out. Training your dog shouldn’t be a chore; it should be fun - for both of you!
For more info on what The Dog Nanny can offer you and your pooch, head over to http://www.thedognanny.co.uk/about/