I'm Sara Bridgeman and I've been passionate about dogs since childhood. I walked all the local dogs for free and I even had my own toy dogs which I played with endlessly. When I left home, I was able to have a dog of my own for the first time. Over the years, I've had many different types of dogs including some with very challenging characters and "quirks"!
Bertie was the dog that turned my world around. He was awful. Pulled on the lead, had no manners and no recall. I found that I needed help and worked with a behavioural and training group with him. It was through my love of working with him (and the other dogs that I owned) that I decided to become a dog trainer. I did a year long course with The Walkabout Group, attended seminars, read everything I could and worked with other local and international trainers. Each one had their own approach and different types of dog training and methods. It was during this time that I recognised that I wanted to do something different, something that focused on the owners not just the dogs.
My philosophy to dog training is very simple. Having a dog should be a happy and fun experience that enriches your life and that of your dog. It shouldn't be full of "dos and don'ts" and it certainly shouldn't be complicated. Most importantly, I recognise that each dog is an individual and so is each owner.
I work with puppies, adult dogs, senior dogs, dogs who are nervous, reactive or anxious and rescue dogs to develop a relaxed and calm way of training that suits your lifestyle By offering this personal approach - whether working in groups or individually - I can help you gain valuable skills to deal with any issues in a relaxed atmosphere AND in the place where you need help the most whether that's at home or in the park.
Above all, I want to bring some FUN back into dog ownership for both human and canine clients! All my classes and sessions use positive and reward based techniques (which doesn't mean stuffing them with treats) which encourage good behaviour from your dog. Whatever age, breed, size or shape I can help you and your pet build a lifelong happy and fulfilling relationship.
I look forward to working with you in the future!
Sara Bridgeman, KCAI (CD), Platinum member of the Pet Professional Network, IMDT member.
Dog Training Instructor course with The Walkabout Group
Jan Fennell Foundation Course in Canine Communication
St John Ambulance First Aid in the Workplace certificate
ProTraining Europe Canine First Aid certificate
Dorwest Herbs Product Knowledge Training Scheme
Dog Nutrition Course from Nutrience Dog Good
Kennel Club Good Citizen Certificates
Grisha Stewart three day workshop learning the theory and skills of BAT 2.0
Compass Learning Foundation in Canine Behaviour Management (currently working towards diploma)
Kennel Club Accredited Instructor in Companion Dog (approved March 2019)
CPD related training
Sheila Harper seminar on Calming the Stressful Dog
Carolyn Menteith lecture "Puppy Parties - What you need to know"
Dr Roger Mugford lecture on dog behaviour
Dean Hart of The Canine Studies College lecture "An exploration into the symptoms and treatment of Canine Anxiety, Fear and Phobia"
Robert Alleyne day seminar
Angela White lecture "Training the Handler - a look at instructing, communication skills and your role as an instructor and advisor"
Stephen Jenkinson lecture "Commercial Dog Walkers - adding value and reducing conflict"
Angela White demonstration "Clicker train your problems away"
The Dog Bite Provention Conference with Speakers - Victoria Stilwell, Sarah Fisher, Grisha Stewart, Kendall Sheppard, Chirag Patel and others
Amber Batson - Aggression in Dogs course (3 weekend modules)
The Puppy Conference 2018
IMDT 2 Day Career as a Dog Trainer course
Worry Free Walks with Dom Hodgson
Grow your Pet Business Fast Seminar with Dom Hodgson
I continue to attend seminars, visit Crufts and other shows to keep up to date with the amazing number of products that are available. I hold an Animal First Aid course certificate as well as a St John Ambulance certificate. I am a member of the Kennel Club Accredited Instructor Scheme and received my full accreditation in Companion Dog Training at Crufts 2019. In addition, I worked with Bedlington Terrier Rescue Foundation for two years as an area coordinator and part of the behavioural and training group. I have worked with other rescues too over the years doing home checks, assessments and adoption visits.
Meet the rest of the team...
Edie came to us from Bedlington Terrier Rescue and from day one fitted in so well at home and in the classes. She has been socialised since we got her and often helps out in class! We've been to Crufts to do a display and Discover Dogs twice to help out on the BTR stand. She's even featured in a book (Dogs in Jumpers) and has her own knitting pattern!
Each dog is an individual but I can honestly say she is probably the best dog I've ever owned as she is very chilled and relaxed. And I'm delighted that she finally passed her Bronze Award in July 2017.
Rupert is the baby of the family despite being now two years old. He's started his show career well with two firsts (including a Best Puppy and Best of Breed) and some seconds and thirds. In 2018 he qualified for Crufts 2019 by gaining his first Championship Certificate at The National Terrier Show and has continued to pick up certificates during the year, including a first at the Midland Bedlington Terrier Club Open show in February 2019. Amazingly, he then went on to gain a first in his Post Graduate class at Crufts 2019 which qualifies him for Crufts 2020. He and Edie are playmates and best friends and even though she can find him a little annoying, she loves him very much. Rupert will be working on passing his KCGCDS Bronze course in 2019.
The following two dogs taught me more about dog training than any book or course. Sadly missed, Bertie and Bella were my inspiration for becoming a trainer.
Coming from Battersea Dogs Home as a very boisterous stray, it was through Bertie that I gained my qualifications to be a trainer and the experience of working with him gave me lots of new skills.
He continued to surprise and delight me when he learnt something new or visited a new place. He was proof that you really can teach an old dog new tricks. Bertie was qualified to Kennel Club Good Citizen Silver level. Sadly he passed away in April 2017 at the grand old age of 15 years old and is very much missed.
Bella came to us at 18 months old, an ex-breeding bitch from a puppy farm. She had been bred from at least once and still showed the trauma of losing her pups and the environment that she was brought up in. Always a loving dog, it took her at least six months to settle in and even then she was never truly house trained. At that stage in my training I knew that I had to accept her for the dog she was and work with her. She had some funny quirks but she also could be a wonderful companion to those she loved. It was because of her barking and unsocial behaviour that I started up the Small Dog Social Club. We would walk with a group of other small, anxious dogs and owners and just let them get to know each other. Bella was amazing with the pups and I can't remember how many of them she accompanied on their first off lead experience! She and Bertie were devoted to each other and when she passed away in 2013 he was totally lost without her as we all were.
Other dogs I've owned included:
Max - ex Battersea, Labrador Cross with ABSOLUTELY NO RECALL! Legged it at the earliest opportunity wherever he was.
Timmy - ex rescue we picked him up as a 9 year old Jack Russell who turned out to be 13 years old, blind with cataracts, terrible teeth that had to be removed and arthritis in his legs. He lasted six weeks with us... but what a six weeks it was!