I am Tracey McLennan, and I help owners of high prey drive dogs stay safe around local wildlife and livestock.
I run Best Dog Learning and Stuff Ltd which offers online classes and one to one support to dog owners. My training system helps improve their life, their dog’s life and protects other animals.
I have over 15 years of experience in successfully working with prey drive in dogs of a variety of breeds and can back my experience up with solid qualifications.
I have a BSc (hons) in Canine Behaviour and Training and am studying for an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Training.
In 2021 I conducted a small research project with ethics approval from Bishop Burton college.
I found that just over 50% of the 730 responses reported that walking habits had been changed as a direct result of their dog’s prey drive.
My journey into dog training and behaviour mirrored that of many of my colleagues. In some ways, mine is a typical “getting into dog training” story - I got a problematic dog.
What makes my story different is the lack of experience I had with dogs, the size of my difficult dog, and the severity of the problem.
I grew up in a family that didn’t have dogs. None of our friends had dogs.
We skied at the weekends all winter long, every winter. It wasn’t a lifestyle compatible with having a dog.
When I was in a position to get a dog, I spent about two years on research. One of the books I read seemed great. The book was newly published, glossy, and featured prominently on bookshop shelves.
The author of the book claimed that all dogs would respond in the same way to the few simple rules laid out. Filled with confidence from the words in the book, I went out and got Calgacus - a bullmastiff puppy.
No sooner had he moved in than I realised that the book I’d based the decision to get him on was wrong. The book was pedaling dominance theory, which has now been thoroughly debunked. Having based my decision on the words in that book, I found myself with a dog wholly inappropriate for somebody new to dogs.
Nevertheless, we did well at first. We found a lovely training class, and Calgacus and I learned all about clicker training. Things were pretty good until Calgacus reached adolescence.
Our dog trainer, keen to help us with some of the normal challenges with adolescent dogs, offered me some advice, which I followed with disastrous consequences. Calgacus became aggressive toward other dogs.
He attacked and severely injured one dog and responded with aggression toward any dog he could see when we were out - no matter how far away they were.
That was where I really started learning about dog behaviour and training.
In the years that followed, I trained to be a Tellington TTouch Practitioner. During those years, Calgacus got over his issues with other dogs.
He would make himself smaller and would move slowly to reassure nervous dogs. He would play with bouncy, playful, adolescent dogs.
He was so good that I spent five years as a student at Bishop Burton College getting an honours degree in Canine Behaviour and Training. Calgacus was my training partner for the practical tests. He learned to be a gundog in first year, and in second year, he and I were tested by doing a four-minute heelwork to music routine.
More recently, my friend and mentor Sarah Fisher invited me to be one of her ACE Advanced Tutors, which is something I feel a great deal of pride about.
In among all of that, I wrote a book about the experiences that Calgacus and I had together.
Canine aggression: Rehabilitating an aggressive dog with kindness and compassion .
Over the years, I have trained my own dogs for a variety of dog sports to varying levels. These include Heelwork to Music, Gundog Training, Working Trials, Kennel Club Good Citizen tests, Agility, and, most recently, Scentwork UK.
I have a passion for problem-solving and have been lucky enough to share my life with dogs who prove to have challenges in one way or another.
I have worked to help my dogs through issues such as Calgacus’s dog to dog aggression, resource guarding between dogs, high prey drive, and separation anxiety.
Dog training and behaviour aside, I have robust and successful experience in coaching and teaching people. As well as developing strong working relationships while working remotely. Remote working, coaching and teaching have been an enormous part of my work outside of dogs, and I have over two decades of experience in those areas.
I am committed to using kind methods to train both dogs. I NEVER suggest or use equipment or techniques that are designed to hurt, startle, or frighten dogs. I have the same commitment toward treating people kindly. Learning anything should be empowering and should leave people feeling better. Kindness is a core part of that.