Affinity Dog Training
is married couple Stu Lyall and Sue Lyall MA CANTAB.
Self- confessed dog nerds, when we are not training, walking, breeding or mucking about with our 5 dogs, we are reading up the latest canine behavioural studies so our customers (and their owners) get the very best of what the dog training and behaviour world has to offer. We’re not spring chickens any more, but it’s not a bad thing as we’ve tons of experience and, very importantly, we’re still eager to learn more. We’ve been doing this a while now and we’re told our experience shows- apparently it’s like magic how we can teach a behaviour so quickly. I always say thank you, but the only magic word we know is “leave”.
Our common-sense methods, down to earth attitude- and our combined study, knowledge and experience- will help with any problem.
We are very interested in fear/ aggressive and lead- frustrated behaviour and have been to seminars learning the most kind and effective techniques encouraging flight (rather than fight/ freeze) instincts. Our dogs are trained to help and they’re kind, calm and steady which helps give the other dogs confidence.
In general dog training classes, we have a light hearted approach to the serious business of dog training – what we teach is useful and fun. We understand that people are with us to learn and a dog isn’t born with an English dictionary planted inside their brains. Dogs get distracted, their concentration may last for 20- 40 minutes and sometimes they are naughty. What they are born with is enthusiasm, a wish to please and enjoy life- and an unlimited amount of love. We know what effort you put into your dog, they will return it and a thousand times more.
We’re informal in class and not very “regimented” as for us, it gets the best results. We try to make it fun as behavioural science says that dogs (and probably people) learn best when they are enjoying themselves. If someone doesn’t understand something, it’s never their fault- it’s always because we haven’t explained it well enough for them. Working (and breeding) animals makes you very down to earth. We’ve never thrown a dog out for being badly behaved- that’s a huge sign saying we need to help.
We started reading up on dog training as people would see our BFFs being well behaved and would ask us how we did it (and whether we had gone to classes). I was taught to train with kind encouragement on the family farm by my grandfather when I was in primary school. As it was so long ago I was scared that I may tell somebody something wrong and that wouldn’t help. Advising people felt a huge responsibility and wanted to get it right. It was fascinating info and we were hooked.
Qualifications & Experience
Susan Lyall MA CANTAB is qualified with the ADTB as a graduate, able to teach and assess all levels from puppy to gold. With two Cambridge degrees Sue is also qualified to teach. Stuart Lyall is a dog owner, trainer and walker with many years experience.
The ADTB expect dog trainers to teach responsibly. There are puppy, bronze, silver and gold levels, teaching basic commands at first, like sit, then later include more difficult chains of commands for near roads, like a recall with an emergency stop and lie down.
We don’t “mystically” understand dogs
We only use kind methods which have been scientifically proven.
We firmly believe that study did not end with exams and we do what we can to keep up to date with the latest studies and articles from the dog training world. What we learn we tell our customers. We don’t have a magic wand (sadly) but we do have plenty of practical common-sense ideas, hints and tips which are useful and effective. So owners know not only the whats and the wherefores, but also the hows and the whys.
* Training which is useful and practical but also fun in beginner and more advanced classes.. We teach owners how to teach their dogs how to walk nicely, how to wait, how to leave- it, how to listen while excited, how to come here, or do emergency stops and so on- and we explain how to apply the exercises to real- life situations.
A master- class version is available (in a one to one) in people’s homes for those who can’t get to class or are busy on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
* We help owners iron out a problem or quirk, from barking to aggression in one to one appointments. Much of our experience and research is with challenging and problem behaviour. More info here.
We really can help with anything and we really do make our living teaching old dogs new tricks.
We think that word of mouth is the best advertising we can get and so we work really hard to make sure every dog and owner is happy. We are extremely proud of our reputation here in Northampton and we bust our guts so that each dog and owner achieve their goals and have fun together.
Testimonials and references are available for anyone.
There’s info on dog training theory and why we do what we do on our methods page here. Click here for why dominance training and being a pack leader isn’t helpful.
We don’t follow tradition for tradition’s sake.
What we teach must be useful, or fun. As puppies are able to achieve the equivalent of the second KC exams (Bronze standard), we offer that test at the end of the beginner class. We also teach leave it very early on in the puppy class so that owners are prepared for teething, as puppies, like babies, put everything in their mouths. Traditionally this is not covered until the third (Silver) course. We don’t teach people to only walk their dog on their left, as it is traditionally done. We think that in real life situations, this isn’t always the most convenient or safe way to walk. We also tailor our classes so we include things which are practical and useful to each person- requests are always welcome.
We teach dogs by the way they learn
Studies have shown that the most effective way to teach a dog is with fun, repetition and rewards. We use games to teach tricks or commands … often dogs don’t realise they’re learning as they’re enjoying themselves; owners say that the games are fun and helpful, and useful for learning new ways to interact with their dog. Studies have found that dogs taught who are taught to process their emotions appropriately and think for themselves are able to make the right decisions.
We encourage good communication so problem moments are avoided. Owners say this is invaluably useful in many situations- like when when the doorbell goes as they are preparing or eating a meal and especially when they are out and about.
To compensate for any over-feeding, we suggest that owners use a portion of their meals as rewards.
Stu is Affinity’s dog walker- he loves to go on mad rambles with dogs in Northamptonshire’s beautiful countryside, playing games and making the walks fun and stimulating for the dogs.
Being able to assess dog behaviour he can take steps to avoid any problem situation before it arises.
More about dog walking here
Check out our guide of sensible things to bear in mind when picking a puppy.
We have a waiting list for those considering a Labrador or Bearded Collie puppy. More info here. If you are interested in one of our puppies, please contact us, with a few details about yourself. All our puppies are endorsed.
It is the responsibility of breeders to prioritise health and well-being. We do all we possibly can to give a pup the very best start. Sue’s first experience of breeding was with Tara, the Manchester terrier, in 1991. As trainers we recognise the importance of such things as bite inhibition, toilet training and socialisation. Our mums have the appropriate tests as recommended by the KC and potential fathers are thoroughly researched and picked for their temperament, good health and genetic diversity. Our dogs are registered with the Kennel Club and puppies have pedigree papers.