January 29, 2021

I'm thrilled to feature Jo from ProgDog Training in my "Meet... in 10 Questions" blog series. Jo specialises in Recall and Puppy Training - keep reading to find out more about her: 

Photo supplied by Jo from ProgDog Training. Credit: Iain Kirtley

Tell us a little about yourself in a few brief sentences
Hi! My name is Jo and I am the head dog trainer and owner of ProgDog, although my dog, Maggie might argue that she is the head trainer, haha! Maggie is a four year old Goldie x Lab, the apple of my eye and my little sidekick.

I train all ages of dogs, however I do specialise in puppy and recall training and I love all things dog!

What is your favourite doggy character in a film/book & why?
It's not a film or book (although I did love Tintin's dog, Snowy because he was always by his side and I dreamt of having that when I was young), but it has to be the Littlest Hobo which was a TV series when I was a kid. I can sing you the theme tune if you like, haha! I adored Hobo, he was a bit like Lassie in that he would help people in need but then at the end of each episode, he would trot off all on his own because he didn't want to settle down. I hated seeing him head off alone and I desperately wanted to adopt him. Come to think of it, I've no idea why on earth I loved it so much when it was actually quite heartbreaking!

Share something that not many people know about you
I am a self taught pianist. Well, actually I did have a few lessons when I was really young but then I taught myself as I didn't like my teacher! I can only read the very basics of sheet music, so I learnt mostly by ear and working notes out. I am still most proud of teaching myself the music to the film The Piano when I was 12 years old and My Heart Asks Pleasure First by Michael Nyman is still a song to this day that gives me goosebumps when I think about playing it. When I didn't have access to a piano, I would play piano songs on a table so that I wouldn't forget where to place my fingers.

I think the precision needed for playing complex pieces of music is why I love dog training so much because I am very much a precision trainer. I like my timing to be exact and I like the way I work and move with a dog to be, well, precise. Every time I train something new with my dog, I practice what I have to do without her even in the room first, I guess that's similar to me practicing piano on the table too! I swear it's years of piano playing that have helped my skills here.

What is your dream dog breed and why? Do you now or have you previously owned this breed?
That is such a tough question! I know it feels like a cop out, but there really isn't one particular breed that I dream of having. There are so many traits of so many breeds that I would love to live and train with. I chop and change so often when I think about choosing another dog. When I do think about choosing my next dog, I write a list of everything I want and need that dog to do. As a trainer, I predominantly want my dog to want (and be able) to work and train quite a lot with me, but I also want them to be able to slot into family life too, so these are all considerations I have to make.

If I absolutely had to name a breed, then I would say that I will 100% have a Great Dane at some point in my life. I can't say they are my dream dog because I don't think a Dane would be quite what I want from a training perspective, however I have always loved them and I will, without a doubt have one, one day! My personal preference is to have a medium to large dog, so I may as well go the whole hog and make it massive!

When did you start your business and what was your inspiration for doing so?
I could argue that I started my business at about 2 years old when I became completely obsessed with dogs; an obsession that has lasted a lifetime!

My working career in fact looked very different at first and I spent 12 years working with high risk offenders as a Probation Officer. I grew tired of this however and my love of dogs was niggling away at me; I knew I had to follow my passion. So a few years before I left Probation, I started studying all about dogs in my spare time with numerous certified courses and I volunteered every weekend at a rescue centre. One evening, they held a volunteer training event which taught us about clicker training dogs and it was a moment I will never forget. I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do with dogs.

My business was born then, however I spent the next few years actually working in the dog training field in various capacities, including assistance dog work, because I wanted to gain as much experience as possible and refine my own skills so that I could guarantee that I would be offering the highest quality of dog training to my clients. Officially, therefore, ProgDog has been open and running and I have been self-employed since 2017. I've never stopped studying and I continue to do lots of practical courses to keep refining my skills. Currently, Maggie and I are training for competitive heelwork and scent detection.

Best piece of advice you have been given
Never eat yellow snow? Haha! I have some absolutely amazing friends and family and I get incredible advice from them all at times. Picking out one piece is super tricky because it is all so valuable, whether it is related to advice about training or life in general. I'm very much a person who lives in the moment these days, or I try to as much as possible. Especially when I spend time with my dog. You only live once shouldn't be a throw away saying, you must do things that make you happy.

My mum did also tell me to plant a sunflower every year. I do. And I watch it grow. I love sunflowers. They make me really smile. That was good advice.

What is your favourite local business / shop / restaurant and why?
I love The Green Place based in Sileby, Leicestershire. It serves some of the best cake around and I love what they stand for with their environmentalism and commitment to sustainability. I'm very much a nature lover and Maggie loves going there too as they have lots of different garden zones with all kinds of things to explore. Come on, who doesn't love a dog friendly cuppa and slice of cake kind of place?

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I'm really proud of ProgDog! It started from just a love of dogs and has grown into a really successful business. I love the relationship I have with my clients, so many of whom I now call friends and I love seeing the relationships develop between people and their dogs. I never, ever get tired of that. If you said to me twenty years ago, "one day you'll run your own business," I'd never have believed you! I'm really, really proud of what I do, what my business stands for and where my business will go in the future (watch this space!).

What is your perfect day?
Honestly, my perfect day, or what makes me happiest, is when I know Maggie has had a good day and is really happy. I know that sounds really cheesy, but it's true! We both love walking for miles and miles, somewhere new in the middle of nowhere. I've always been a big walker. Maybe stopping for a pub lunch (they were the days) en route too and then back home to get the open fire roaring and a glass of wine. Exploring with Maggie is my favourite thing to do.

I will do training with Mags everyday, no matter what, because she (well, we both) absolutely adores training so whether I fit some into one of our exploration walks, or I do it as a separate activity once we are home, I always make sure she gets some kind of training with me each day. If she is happy, I am happy, it's as simple as that for me.

Tell us a little about your business and why people should use it?
I'm good at what I do and know and I'm proud of that. I offer a very personalised and supportive 1:1 service that, I feel, is unique to ProgDog. My clients always come first. I have spent years studying and undertaking practical and theoretical dog training courses and can offer the most up-to-date, expert knowledge and skills to help people train their dogs to become their ultimate best friends. I've won the Top Three Dog Trainers in Charnwood Award for three years running and I absolutely love what I do!

People should use ProgDog if they want the best dog training possible and a bit of a laugh along the way. I do like a laugh with my clients, my sessions are very relaxed, fun and so exciting when you learn how to train and see how clever your dog is! But don't take my word for it, all of our client reviews are posted on the ProgDog social media accounts.

Follow Jo on social media:
or on her website: www.progdog.co.uk

If you're a local pet related business or pet professional and would like to feature in my "Meet.... in 10 questions" blog series, get in touch by emailing sandie@sandiepownerphotography.co.uk

Photo supplied by Jo from ProgDog Training. Credit: Iain Kirtley


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