May 16, 2023
Jo Deal is a dog behaviourist and trainer based in Chilworth. Following a career as a Royal Marine and stints in private security in Iraq, Africa and London, Jo returned to his home county of Surrey to launch Jo Deal Canine Behaviourist, a service which provides tailored support to dog owners on how to manage problem canine behaviour. From puppy socialisation through to tackling excessive barking and disobedience, we had a chat with Jo to find out how he’s supporting dog owners in Surrey and beyond with some of the common challenges of dog ownership…
Why did you launch your behaviour training?
I initially adopted my Rottweiler’s George and Dottie over 20 years, and noticed after adopting my most recent Rottweiler, Beau - dog training had changed significantly in the past two decades. With a previous focus on dominance and aggression, it’s now all about understanding how a dog is feeling and identifying why they are behaving in a certain way by reinforcing positive behaviours to counteract unwanted behaviours.
Fast forward a couple of years and having undergone rigorous training with the Institute of Modern Dog Training and an accreditation from the British College of Canine Studies, I officially launched in January.
Dog ownership has increased by 3.2 million since the pandemic, do you think this had any bearing on puppy behaviour?
Yes, for sure. Due to lockdowns, dogs missed out on prime socialisation opportunities whether that was through a trainer or frequently socialising with other dogs. Puppies who have never experienced being alone are now facing owners returning to the office, and this has naturally led to an increase in behavioural issues.
In addition, owners didn’t have the usual puppy network to learn their part in the relationship, whether that was meeting fellow dog walkers or attending puppy classes.
What type of training can you offer?
I work with dog owners across Surrey and beyond and can even host sessions via Zoom. I specialise in positive reinforcement methods providing owners with practical skills and guidance to tackle problematic canine behaviour. Whether that’s a training course over a period of time where I’ll work with a dog one-on-one offering tailored support or puppy socialisation classes.
I also host a monthly workshop in West Horsley which aims to provide owners with the skills and confidence to tackle certain behavioural issues. As well as tips and techniques on establishing boundaries and identifying triggers of bad behaviour.
Are there any common misconceptions around puppy training?
There is a misunderstanding that puppies can’t socialise until 12 weeks due to infection risk, however the prime socialisation period for exposure to other people, horses, cars etc. is actually between eight and 12 weeks. My courses run during this initial period and are in a fully sanitised environment, enabling dog owners to rest assured their puppies are training in a safe environment.
Are there any success stories which you’re particularly proud of?
I started working with a black Labrador who was scared of people, particularly men and would bark and lunge forward when out for walks as well as not like having people come into their home. After one-to-one training, which involved ignoring the negative behaviours and replacing it with positive reinforcement, the lab is now calmer and no longer pulling on the lead and barking at others.
Do you have any advice for owners struggling with canine behaviour issues?
I’d advise anyone who is experiencing canine behaviours that they’re worried about or ones that are affecting their relationship with their companion dog to seek support. There is no reason why a dog can’t be the perfect companion as long as their owners are offered the right information and
As part of the training, I focus heavily on positive affirmations and encourage owners to ignore bad behaviour. But while the key focus is the dog, sometimes it’s just as important to work in collaboration with the owner and give them the confidence to be consistent to ensure results.
Finally, is there a local business you particularly admire?
Silent Pool is a great local business. I took one of my dogs-in-training to the coffee shop recently to help expose her to public spaces. What’s more, their story is pretty huge, and the gin is fantastic too.