When Claire Lawrence adopted a troubled German Shepherd who had been cruelly treated and beaten she wanted to do all she could to help him.
Back then, she was a teenager working as a chef, and seeing Titan bark and lunge at other dogs made her want to learn more about canine behaviour.
Throwing herself into understanding the reasons why Titan behaved as he did led to Claire thinking about working as a dog walker so she could support him more and help other dogs.
So 10 years ago Claire quit her job as a chef and became a dog walker. Now she’s an expert on barking dogs and has written two books on how owners can help their pets.
Coronavirus lockdown being lifted permitting, this summer she’s going on a tour to share her expertise and is the first guest on my new podcast which you can listen to below.
Speaking about her decision to leave her job, Claire explained: “My big German Shepherd, Titan, was barking a lot at the time and I also had Sky who was a puppy. Both demanded a lot of my attention, whenever I was out of the kitchen I was at dog training.
“One day I just decided I wanted to have my own business and work with similar dogs. After speaking to my boss he relieved me from work the same day.”
The same week Claire began walking dogs, leaving her well paid chef job to earn barely anything at first.
She said: “I began really low priced at first – handing leaflets out in the local community. Back then I was the only 1-2-1 dog walker in the area so I was niche from the beginning.
“It took a few years to get momentum going, at the beginning I had to take up two part time jobs alongside my dog walking, including cheffing and working at a kennel.
“Eventually I had so many dog walking jobs coming through I took on an extra staff member and continued to build from there.”
Offering 121 dog walking meant that Claire would learn more about the dog’s behaviour and help to train them as they walked – as usually these dogs were barkers or pulled on the lead.
She added: “From experience with my own dog, Titan, I knew that a lot of dogs preferred to be on their own. Being one to one with other dogs built my confidence and I quickly gained experience with a range of different dog behaviours.”
Because of her own experience and studying reward based training, Claire was prepared to work with different types of dogs.
She said: “I’ve dealt with jumpers, lungers and barkers – they’ve all taught me valuable lessons in dog walking and training. I started my training journey 10 years ago with Skye, and from then I’ve taken my dogs to training centres.
“Since then I’ve taken part in many online courses and instructor training programs. I became a bit of a seminar junkie – I just wanted to learn more!”
Slowly but surely Claire’s dog walking business began to mould itself into a reward based dog training business, leading to her writing two successful dog books.
Claire said: “In the past two years I’ve become purely a dog trainer and I work with dogs of all ages and abilities. 85 percent of my work is barking dogs who work with me on a one to one basis and we build the dogs up to be able to cope in a safe environment.
“The book came about after speaking with business coach Dom Hodgson – he told me to write a book.
“I spent ages deciding what to write about – I think I had imposter syndrome, but once I started writing about barking dogs I knew I had all the knowledge.”
Claire’s books ‘You’d be barking mad not to’ and ‘Three Steps to Silence’ raised her profile helping her gain new clients and also media coverage.
She said: “The books have opened the door to a lot of other stuff for me, I have my own podcast and deliver my membership and online programs.
“I was even featured in Your Dog magazine after speaking at a seminar in Leicester and had a lady from Spain get in touch to say she had read my book! I couldn’t believe it.
Claire shared her top tips for beginning to write a book – encouraging anyone to have a go: “Just do it – use your expertise and write. Write whatever comes into your head, get the first couple of chapters done and write what you think is going to help people – don’t hold back.”
Since the book Claire has started working closer with local vets as the book has helped improve her credibility and aided her to build connections.
Claire’s also going on tour around the UK to share her top training tips with pet owners.
She said: “I’m taking my terrier Digger on the road with me – he’s always been what we can class as a difficult dog due to his previous owners punishing him – I’ve been through the mill with him so I can demonstrate the techniques we’ve used.
“You can’t expect your dog’s behaviour to change, unless you first start working on your own.”
You can catch Claire and Digger on tour later this year. Because of the current Coronavirus pandemic, dates will be confirmed as soon as Claire can.
Visit her website www.3sts.co.uk/