Who we are:
Whistle and Wag Dog Training is run by two friends that have a mutual love of dogs and dog training who decided they would combine their years of knowledge and teach others how to train their dogs.
As a child growing up my family was never without a Labrador and I took the lead in taking them along to training.
Dogs then took a back seat to horses for a few years whilst I went to university and studied a degree in Equine Breeding and stud management. Before and after leaving university I worked at a boarding kennels working with a wide range of dog breeds and cats. I was then offered my dream job breeding and training Suffolk Punches at the Suffolk Punch Trust. Part of my role at the Trust was giving demonstrations to the public a part of the job I really enjoyed as was able to educate people whilst working with the horses.
During my time at the Trust I got my first non-family dog, Jelly the Jack Russell cross cocker spaniel. I was thrilled with her and went straight to training her. Jelly was a regular on the farm and was quick to adjust to trips out in the horsebox and sitting in the tractor. Jelly and I also used to train in agility which we very much enjoyed. Jelly is now coming up to 11 years old and still a farm dog at heart.
My time working with the Trust came to an end in 2015 when I joined the Essex Police looking for new challenges.
During my time in the police, dog number two joined the family, Red the working cocker spaniel. Red went straight into training as a gundog completing local classes and training.
After a couple of years I pursued a career as a Detective on the public protection team, a role which I enjoyed for several years but it was extremely long hours.
I regained a better work life balance by joining the County council in 2019 enabling me to do more training with the dogs and to become involved with the Ladies Working Dog Group as a featured expert.
In 2020 Nuka (Red’s little sister) came along making 3. She has also been trained in gundog work and has recently gained a 2nd place in her first working test.
In 2021 I completed the Canine Instructor’s academy course alongside Nicci which spurred us on to start Whistle and Wag dog training.
Jemma believes that our dogs should be a valued member of the family that bring enrichment to our lives. Dogs give us so much and it is our duty to look after them and to ensure they are well balanced members of the family.
I have had a life-long passion for dogs. Living life in the fast lane, I started my journey when I became the proud owner of my first Ferrari (working cocker spaniel!), called Purdey. Something that I truly embrace is a challenge and training a spaniel is definitely up there on my list, however it is also one of my greatest accomplishments and one that continues to grow and progress. Over the years, I have learnt a variety of training techniques which have not only developed my knowledge and confidence as a dog handler but has also led me to add to my collection of Ferraris. Training Cosmo to be a pet gundog has been a walk in the park.
Professionally, I started my career in social care and then made the transition to education and became a teacher, coach and mentor. I have taught children and adults of all ages and have specialised in supporting people with special educational needs and English Speakers of Other Languages. I am currently a strategic advisor.
I met Jemma through the Ladies Working Dog Group and found someone that shared my love and interest in dogs. We both completed a dog behavioural training course with Robert Alleyne’s Canine Instructor Academy and with our combined skill base it was a no brainer to embark on a new venture together…Whistle and Wag was born.
Nicci and Purdey have taken part in agility, canicross and scentwork together. Nicci is an accredited scentwork handler. She also works Purdey as a beating and picking up dog on local shoots and is currently training her new addition, Cosmo, to take up the mantle.
For Nicci, owning and training dogs are more than a hobby, they are a way of life. Training dogs helps us to grow and learn more about ourselves; what drives us and what limitations we put on ourselves.
Nicci and Jemma are firstly dog lovers so believe that training should never cause the dog harm or undue stress.
We are part of a group of trainers that believes in the ‘PRAMA’ methods – Positive reinforcement and minimally aversive.
We believe in using positive reinforcement in the form of treats or whatever else motivates the individual dog and also believe dogs need to learn what behaviours we do not want them to repeat by using minimal aversive cue such as a verbal interrupter.
It is important to understand that every dog is different and to train the dog in front of you, just because one method works with Fluffy does not mean it will work for Fido.
A dog that knows the rules of life, is a happy dog as it can spend more time having fun with its owner and not wondering if it will make the right choices.