Interview with Author Louise Harding

Interview with Author Louise Harding

Louise Harding in conversation with Ocean Reeve from Ocean Reeve Publishing

Watch Louise’s author interview with Ocean Reeve

Millie the Big-hearted Labradoodle

Millie the Big-hearted Labradoodle

In this blog post The Animal Talent Team have decided to share Louise’s heartfelt Facebook post about Millie the Big-hearted Labradoodle.

Here is a little background to fill you in. This is taken from the GoFundMe page our team set up to assist Millie’s family cover her surgery and veterinary expenses.


The Background

Millie the effervescent, friendly Labradoodle was savagely beaten and shot in the head with a spear gun on 21st January 2018, in a horrendous act of animal cruelty.  The news of this callous and brutal attack has been widely reported by the Australian and International media.

Millie is now fighting for her life.

Millie is a one-in-a-million dog – loving, loyal, friendly with other dogs and much-loved by her family and the local community. She is a dog with a big heart and sweet, gentle nature.

Her injuries are extensive and too graphic for us to detail here. In brief, she has a collapsed lung, a fractured skull and serious internal and skeletal injuries. She is receiving around-the-clock specialist veterinary care and may be facing further surgery.

Millie is only 3 years old and just starting out in her life journey. She is a happy-go-lucky, family pet with a big personality and loves nothing more than a trip to the beach, meeting up with her doggie friends, sunning herself on the sand, playing a game of fetch and frolicking in the waves. Millie is a crowd-stopper at the beach, people are constantly amazed by her out-going, friendly nature and her love of life.  She laps up the attention and is always happy for extra pats.

Millie is a real character when she is ready for a game her special trick is to head to the laundry basket, grab a sock then bound over to her family with it hanging from the corner of her mouth like it’s an extra droopy tongue.

Millie loves kids enjoying nothing more than joining in with all their games. Her family say, “She thinks she’s one of the kids! ”

At the end of a long dog day, Millie loves to chill and get some belly rubs in before it’s time to curl up beside her mum for a long snooze.

Millie sounds like a dream dog and that’s because she is. She is that one-in-a-million rare find who is loved and adored by her family, friends and community – both two and four-legged.

In a world impacted by cruelness, greed and hate, we need all the Millie’s we can get.


Louise’s Post

Millie is the epitome of determination and hope, here’s why. Every day I see the bond between animals and humans. I’ve seen some amazing stories of recovery, both humans and animals. I don’t just work with dogs, I bond and work with their humans.

In the last few days I’ve experienced a range of strong emotions anger, disbelief, sadness, confusion, disappointment and…. hope.

I’m watching a dog with serious and numerous life threatening injuries begin to slowly heal herself and with that healing, begin to heal her family, to change their emotions from anger and resentment, to hope and gratitude.

Millie, was last week, a young (3 years), vibrant, awesome dog who enjoyed the company of people, beach walks and couch surfing; until she was struck down by a violent act, through no fault of her own, other than simply being a dog. Just a dog. But Millie is more than that. Despite her injuries she is digging deep and making small but steady improvements.

What her future will look like for her and her family is unclear. None of their lives will ever really be the same. No one can turn back the clock. But this loveable, ‘oodley’ dog gives us hope that if she can heal her body, we can also learn to heal ourselves, deal with our emotions (with the support of a community) and start again creating new memories and starting to heal each other.

This is one of my favourite Millie pics and I’m really hoping that one day I can witness her back on the beach.

That is my wish for Millie and her family I hope it comes true.


Brain Gym for Dogs

Brain Gym for Dogs

We all know dogs need physical exercise to keep them fit and healthy, but did you know dogs thrive on mental exercise? Mental exercise stimulates the brain as well as the body and it is equally as important.

Organising a brain gym for your dog isn’t difficult, it can be as simple as taking your dog out to explore the world. Expanding his world and allowing him to experience different things will give his senses a work-out and will also allow you to practice your training techniques. The added bonus is your dog’s confidence will increase, he’ll be more capable of thinking for himself and it’s a great way to proof his behaviours.

Enrichment games are another great way to give your dog his daily mental push-ups. There are a heap of puzzle games for dogs available check your local pet store, jump online or if you’re local head down to our training school.

Muffin Tin Game for Dogs

One of my favourites is The Muffin Tin Game. Here’s how it works:

Grab an old muffin tin or mini muffin tin if you have a smaller pooch. Turn it upside down and place some treats between the bumps. To get at the treats, he’ll have to push the food around from different angles. This is a great puzzle for larger dogs as they can’t flip the tin over.

When he’s played this game a few times, you can change it up. This time keep the tin upright and place some treats randomly into half the cups. Cover each section with a tennis ball.

How do you mentally exercise your dog?
We’d love to her about the enrichment games you do with your dog. Let us know in the comments below.

Dog Etiquette in Off-leash Areas

Dog Etiquette in Off-leash Areas

As the weather warms and the holiday season approaches, people like to get active with their dogs. Every day more and more people flock to our off-leash beaches and parks.
In theory off-leash areas are a fantastic idea, unfortunately the reality isn’t all rainbows and lollipops. It’s important to remember that anyone and their dogs can use these areas (the only exception being registered/declared dangerous dogs).

What does this mean for you and your pooch?

At any given time there may be dogs of varying sizes, temperaments and training and a range of owners from the conscientious to the “I don’t give a damn”. You can’t control who’s using the area but you can be in control of how you approach the space and of course, in control of your dog.


I strongly recommend to my clients that BEFORE they decide to let their dog ‘loose’ in an off-leash area to enjoy an independent sniff and play experience, their dog must have these two basic behaviours.

1. A very reliable recall – this means your dog comes every time he is called

2. A strong stay command – he will stay ‘on the spot’ until given the ok to move


Please remember that even when off lead in an off-leash area, by law your dog needs to be under “effective control”. Hence why both a stay command and a recall are important.


A recall takes time and patience and incorporates these 5 steps.

  1. Eye contact – Your dog acknowledges you and gives eye contact when his name or other command is used.
  2. Comes towards you when his name or other command is used.
  3. Remains within your personal space for at least 10 seconds before you release him to be free again.
  4. Change direction – comes away, turns away from the direction he is heading in, that is heading towards another dog and then turns and comes to you.
  5. Sit or Down – you need to be able to get your dog to sit or down and remain in that position while you bend over and pick up a dog poo, for example.

These steps all need to be broken down into separate behaviours and taught in individual steps. Once they are reliable in a non-distracting environment then add distractions and then you are good to head to the beach or off-leash park.

A reliable recall is something that needs to be worked on throughout your dogs life. Many dogs begin their puppyhood and early teens with a reliable recall, however, sometimes they realise that life away from their owner can be more interesting. They start choosing their own behaviours and owners then can quickly lose control. Add a few other dogs with similar behaviour and the result can be chaos.

If your dog can’t do the above steps then it’s not ready to be off-lead. Take a long lead and practice the steps until your dog understands that he needs to give you connection and his attention, then he will be given some independent time.

Let’s all train good dog etiquette, that way we will all be able to enjoy our open spaces. I look forward to seeing you in the great outdoors.

More information about training ‘come’ aka ‘a reliable recall’ in Two Phases can be found in my new book Nose to Tail: A Holistic Guide to Training our Dream Dog Available for $24.95 from

Top 8 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe this Silly Season

Top 8 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe this Silly Season

Boom, crack, hiss!!!

Fireworks are scary things especially to dogs and many other animals.  Every year thousands of dogs escape their yards or homes and run in a frenzy petrified by the noise of fireworks. Tragically, many dogs end up in already over-flowing shelters and others lose their lives after being hit by vehicles. Don’t let your beloved dog become a statistic these holidays.

Here are my Top 8 Tips to keep your dog safe this silly season.


1. BE PREPARED. You prepare and plan for your parties over the holiday period, its equally important that you plan for the needs of your dog during the party season. Make a plan and ride it out.


2. Have a safe secure space where your dog can be contained. Dog crates are ideal.


3. Put on some music.


4. Use a calming spray or diffuser with Adaptil (available from your Vet).


5. Use a Thundershirt or other calming shirt. These can work with varying degrees of success (available on-line and at pet stores).


6. If your dog chooses to hide in a safe place, leave him there to wait it out.


7. Don’t mollycoddle your dog, even though you may be very tempted to do so. Reassurance to this degree will make the issue worse and you may end up with your dog being scared of other loud noises like lawn mowers, machinery and thunder.


8. Ask a responsible friend or reputable dog carer to house sit with your dog while you are at a party or New Years celebration.

Finally, don’t forget to be considerate of others. If you plan to let off fireworks or are having a party that is likely to be really noisy, let your neighbours know so they and their animals can be prepared.

Remember, keep yourself and your dogs safe this ‘Silly Season’.