Picture: Chris de Aboitiz at 1770. Photograph by Sharron Thompson Photography
When I made the decision to take my business to the road I knew no matter how well I planned my trip I had one blaringly obvious obstacle that would need to be overcome. My pups Maggie & Max. Maggie scared of humans, and Max of dogs, I couldn't take them anywhere or leave them anywhere without creating social issues wherever I went. It was clear we needed some serious dog training!
I did have enough insight to know I was the issue, and that it was indeed up to me to fix it. While this knowledge didn't make it any easier, it did set me on a constructive path, and into the arms of dog lover Eleanor Rattray.
I had met El through networking events in the caravanning industry and was aware she had done a similar trip around Australia earlier with her dog, blogging and vlogging on her page Roaming Paws. She was also currently working with Chris de Aboitiz (aka Australia's best dog whisperer & kite surfing champion) from Sup Dog Oz.
She needed help with online marketing and I needed help with dog training, so a match made in heaven was born.
I was invited up to 1770 to meet with Chris to help with my dogs. Now I don't do anything in halves, so after finding out they had set a challenge to get more than 26 dogs on a SUP broadcast live on channel nine's Today show, I packed the car and bolted up to 1770.
I arrived a couple days early to make sure I had the best chance. The first day of dog training got off to a good start. Chris' 'Dog House' is set on a hill overlooking the township of 1770 and the ocean. It's beautiful and fresh high up on the hills with views to die for.
I was welcomed, and Chris hit the ground running pulling me into line and trying to fix my embarrassing dog handling efforts. He always made me feel like my mistakes were easy to make and easy to rectify with some pointed and deliberate changes. I was super confident at this stage.
I told El I was ready to hit the markets with my new skills and be around other people and dogs for the first time without causing a scene. This didn't happen. I was carrying too much so my hands weren't free, I was still feeling stressed, and all the information I had received was blown away at the first sound of Max's insane and neurotic bark.
I freaked out and you can see the full train wreck on the vid below.
At this stage I was thinking my grand plans for getting Max on a board with 25 other dogs was out of the question. But I'd driven this far and wanted to enjoy this beautiful coastal village.
So I left the dog training for a bit and took the dogs to the beach. Maggie and Max absolutely loved it, and I was really happy with my decision.
The next day I had arranged to meet with Chris and discuss what went down at the markets and what I should do to correct it next time it happens.
One of the best tips he gave me was to relax. I've spent 4 years pretty stressed out around my dogs, and they can feel it. I also act weird around other dog owners because I know what's coming. So I shook my shoulders out and breathed deep and started talking normally to the people around me.
We also had to physically teach Max to submit. Once we did this Chris and I went looking for trouble (other dogs), we chatted normally & respectfully to their owners, corrected Max when he freaked, and made him submit if he lost control.
Check out the day 2 training vlog below.
At this stage I knew I was going to be able to bring Max & Maggie back in the morning for the world record attempt. Chris was certain he could do it. He'd definitely given me the confidence, and I was feeling happy and nervous as I prepared for the next morning.
I arrived at 1770 around 6.30am and the usually quiet beaches were packed with cars. I found a park up on a curb and once again was happy with my decision to drive a 4x4. I made sure I had nothing else in my hands. I made sure I felt relaxed. I had the leads loose in my hands and I confidently walked down to the shore to see the channel nine breakfast team broadcast live with pretty much everyone from 1770 cheering behind them.
I acted super relax. I talked normally to everyone I met. I corrected Max when he freaked and helped him submit when I could feel him losing it.
We put on the EzyDog life jackets and they looked super bloody cute!
We then walked around to the shore where Chris was doing a test run for the camera. He asked Maggie and Max to jump on and they did with about 10 other dogs. I was feeling pumped. My little guy didn't lose it at any of the dogs, and Mags was pretty chilled around the humans.
We then walked around to the bay in preparation for the world record attempt. There was one other dog walking with us and Max started to get his growl on. I quickly corrected Max and kept talking to the owner normally as if I wasn't stressed. Because, actually, I wasn't stressed!!
Chris then piled the dogs onto the board, he got about 22 dogs on (so Chris's previous record of 26 wasn't broken), but mine was. He paddled across to the sandbar and Mags jumped off and skidded around the island while all the other dogs just chilled. She was eventually caught and they all came back happy with tails wagging.
Picture: Chris de Alboitiz with Maggie, Max, and 20 other dogs on a SUP at 1770. Photograph taken by Sharron Thompson Photography
I'm seriously pumped with this dog training experience and excited that I can now travel around Australia with the tools to keep my dogs in check.
I've also made some great contacts in SupDogOz, Roaming Paws and Ezy Dog, who all have a similar philosophy of including your dogs in your everyday life, and seeking out adventures that we all can enjoy.