Choice or Pain?

dog on a train

What would you prefer?

Its accepted that some people like pain and some don’t, I know where I sit on this subject. The main thing that has led me to this blog and that is seeing the amount of dogs being pulled around and having pain used as a training tool.

Imagine this; you are walking down the street with your best friend, they are walking behind you, chatting away then all of a sudden grab the collar of your shirt an choke you. Why because they have decided to change direction and cross the road!

Now with that in mind switch it around you are walking your beloved best friend this time its a dog. You are walking along , decide to stop and change direction without warning you tug the lead. Now what has happened there is your crushed your beloved pets windpipe!
So looking at these two examples the source of the problem lies in the breakdown in communication, how do you resolve this?
The facts are you give your dog the choice, your bond will be significantly better. The list of does and don’ts that I use with Ziggy are here;

Use a Harness

Use treats (Choice)
Reward your dog for the right behaviours.

Don’t use a collar to check your dog, (pain)
Don’t chastise your dog because you think they got it wrong.

The techniques I use with Ziggy as a PTSD Assistance Dog is choice and reward. When walking and I want to change direction I simply communicate with him with simple clear commands. I use “This Way”. What this does is drawers his attention to me. Then the direction we want/ intend to go.

We started at a young age and using methods provided by Kirsten Dillion, to reward and give Ziggy the choice. Every time we walk and want to change direction I say “this way” and he follows, this is because when we trained we imprinted those words with a positive reward i.e. a treat.

When he didn’t do this we just stopped no tugging no dragging just no reward no movement, each time he heard “this way” and followed he was rewarded. Slowly I began removing and randomizing the reward this then trained him to decide what to do. This was then his choice no pain, he followed this option because there was a chance of a reward but crucially no pain.

So when it comes to you make the choice if you like pain but when it comes to your dog or any animal in fact give them the choice, yes influence it with training but never use pain. Ultimately this choice induces trust this is an essential part of the relationship. Ziggy is not a tool he is a partner a best friend and to do this trust is crucial and he must make the choice to participate and helping me is choice.

Much love

R+ Z

Look Up

Does it work?

Transport For London (TFL) backed a campaign started by a customer it simply asked people to look up. The intention is to encourage to look up from their newspaper book or ultimately their electronic device.

This started as a result of a service user who suffered from chronic pain not being given a seat, you are not expected to know if someone needs a seat but by looking ups you can see the various badges that TFL provide that help indicate the person may need that seat.

I’ve spent many hours travelling on various modes of transport in and around the city, my illness is hidden, however I have an assistance dog called Ziggy, his jacket reads;


I accept that people will not have knowledge of what each of these amazing animals can do however its reasonable to assume that if you see a dog that says they are working, then its likely that dog is enabling the owner to do some of ‘normal’ things that others take for granted.

Looking up

It happens when you have a dog the reactions vary from people trying to distract Ziggy on purpose to showing a genuine interest in him. The number of times I have got on public transport with Ziggy had had people rush forwards sometimes knocking and forcing their way past Ziggy to get on, mostly to get that much valued seat or space not under the tall persons armpit.

So do they look up ? Yes however not on one single occasion have I been offered a seat, I don’t always need one it depends on my condition on any given day.

In short the only way that these campaigns make a difference is if YOU as that person sat down looks up and offers your seat. In an ideal world there should be a chorus of harmony and


Lets change this don’t just look up and hope someone else offers take the lead and offer yours.


dog on a train

Mental Health at Work

It’s time to change.

It is by no accident that the title of this blog matches that of the announcement by Prince William of the new website .

Holding down employment full time, part time, contractor, zero hours or self employed all add to the inevitable stresses of life. its been a long time coming the need for mental health to be tackled head on.

Charities like Mind, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) and Head Together have all been working hard to break the stigma and get the conversation started. I am without doubt the campaigns they have run have started the ball rolling.

It is clear that the ball sits firmly in our court now, yes our court not just your employer but us, you as colleagues. You’ll be surprised how simple acts can make the difference, we have all seen the signs and yes if you care about mental health you would have both acknowledged the flyers and spoken about it.

Its the small things that make a difference if you’ve got this far you will have realised that you have a responsibility to make the difference. Remember everyone is different so there is no hard and fast rule in the management of mental health be it yours or someone elses.

Consider some of these;

• Talk about your feelings
• Keep active
• Eat well
• Drink sensibly
• Keep in touch
• Ask for help
• Take a break
• Do something you’re good at
• Accept who you are
• Care about someone.

Read More

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton