Animal lover offers dog counselling

Active Dog trainer Joanne Hafford with Bob (left) and Smirnoff.
Active Dog trainer Joanne Hafford with Bob (left) and Smirnoff.

A former counsellor is now offering “counselling for dogs” in the Lancaster district after moving her dog training school to the area.

Joanne Hafford, 38, quit her job as a counsellor and completed a number of courses and a year’s mentorship with a Hertfordshire dog trainer before setting up Active Dog Training in Blackpool two years ago.

She has now moved to Lancaster and is hiring Westgate Cricket Club on Powderhouse Lane for her classes.

Joanne offers outdoor puppy, adolescent and adult group training classes which involve owners to help them get the most out of their pet and develop a bond with it.

The classes focus on obedience, agility and scent work, while there are also specific fun agility classes.

Group sessions average eight dogs per class and Joanne is sometimes assisted by her daughter Jasmine, who is also a qualified dog instructor.

Joanne, who lives on Lancaster Road, Lancaster, offers one to one sessions for dogs nervous in a group scenario, which can focus on more specific aspects of an animal’s behaviour.

Eight week puppy classes focus on socialisation with dogs and people, handling and obedience and include supervised play sessions where puppies learn communication skills.

Sessions last around an hour and a half and Joanne is flexible with times.

The business also offers dog walking services for busy owners and boarding and training in a home environment.

Joanne, who owns a Russian black terrier named Smirnoff, plans to introduce certificates and awards for achievements.

“It’s about providing good bondimg time for both the dog and the owner,” she said.

“Exercise keeps a dog healthy and also has both mental and physical benefits, releasing endorphins that make it feel good and relaxed.

“Owners usually take part in the training because it gets the dog listening to them, which is really important when you are teaching basic commands.”

Joanne said she had no regrets about her career change.

“I was counselling before but I say this is counselling for dogs,” she said.

“Not everyone makes a living doing things they like and I’m very lucky.”

Joanne held a dog agility day at Westgate Cricket Club on Sunday. Proceeds are going to Lancaster animal charity Wolfwood, which specialises in rescue dog re-homing and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

For further details call Joanne on 07931 356764 or visit