I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love and work with such great dogs and owners.
THE PERSONAL STUFF
I am Diane Lowe and I created Happy Feet Dogs, based in Vilamoura, Quarteira in the Central Algarve, in 2016. Happy Feet Dogs aims to bring together dogs and their owners in a positive and fun environment. We offer socialisation walks, training and behaviour consultation on a very personal level that takes into account that every dog is an individual.
In fact, Happy Feet Dogs has been some time in the making. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, and living in the Algarve since 1999, I have always had a love of the outdoors and a special affinity with dogs. I had long dreamed of running my own dog-related business, and it was one of my current dogs Buddy (a terrier mix) that set me firmly on my Happy Feet Dogs journey.
I fell in love with Buddy when I was introduced to him at a charity lunch in aid of the local dog shelter, where I volunteered. It was, quite simply, meant to be. But Buddy had been badly abused and I had my work cut out to begin with. He was reactive towards other dogs and men. I was determined to help him. I initially drew on limited experience and a whole lot of instinct and this was when I discovered the true benefits of positive reinforcement and the amazing effects that my work with Buddy had on his physical, mental and emotional health.
Before long Buddy was my star pupil and it was then that I decided he could possibly do with a companion. Cue Ozzie, a five month old, super friendly wire-haired Podengo. It was another case of love at first sight, although I’m not sure it was the case for Ozzie as he simply loves everybody!
Buddy and Ozzie now help me a great deal in my work; from demonstrating tricks and obedience, to encouraging puppies and troubled dogs to socialise. They have taught me so much and continue to do so. It is teamwork at its best.
THE OFFICIAL STUFF
The dog training industry, as vast as it may be, remains mostly unregulated. Surprising, isn’t it?
Having experienced the best and the worst of dog trainers myself, I decided that if I was to offer the best possible service to my clients moving forward, I needed to self-regulate. For me that meant enrolling on well-respected, up to date, science based courses that covered the important elements surrounding dog training and canine behaviour. I had already bought into Positive Reinforcement (reward based training) so it was easy for me to narrow down my search for the right course material.
To this day I continue to educate myself through webinars and online courses.
I am a fully certified trainer and behaviour professional, through numerous courses and workshops run by the following reputable experts:
Dr Ian Dunbar (SIRIUS): Puppy and adult dog training
Karen Pryor: Clicker training
Kyra Sundance: Do more with your dog
Sally Gutteridge: Canine Principles
Sarah Whitehead: Learn to talk dog
Grisha Stewart: Ahimsa dog training
Fernando Silva: Educação Canina
Fatima Casals: Alldogs Centro Treino Canino
Su Ailsby: Fenzi Academy
Cilla Daniellson: Hundens Hus
Flyball: Joachim Muller:
Dock Diving: Maxine Martens
Dog Frisbee: David Roman
Agility: Fatima Casals
Dog Puller Sport: Gyongi Panczel