How The Canine College builds a lifetime bond between dogs and owners

Samantha Rawson is Ireland’s leading dog trainer and behaviourist.

She is known throughout the country for her television and regular radio appearances on RTÉ’s Ray D’arcy Show  &  RTE Television’s ‘How to be good with money’. Samantha is a regular speaker at colleges and public events.  But those who have benefited from her knowledge or who have been entertained by her stories may be surprised by Samantha’s own description of her role.

“I would describe my role as a mediator between two species who speak different languages and live by different social rules,” Samantha says.

It is this approach that makes Samantha’s work at the Canine College unique.

Her mission, she explains, is to help dogs and their owners develop a mutually respectful relationship based on trust,  “You develop this relationship through open, clear, honest communication and compromise,” she says. Your dog must trust you before it can learn from you. “I advise never to confront and compound the situation: I prefer to distract and diffuse.”

Samantha is a champion trainer with expertise gained over 27 years of professional experience. She studied applied animal behaviour at the University of Southampton and Counselling skills at NUI Maynooth. Samantha is a certified canine behaviour and training consultant. She continues her professional development by constantly updating her knowledge and skills so that she can provide the best possible service to you and your dogs.

She a member of the Irish Kennel Club and is licenced obedience working trials & agility judge. Samantha works closely with Petbond Ireland and is committed to raising the standards of animal welfare. Samantha is a Provisional Member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (UK), the Canine Behaviour Training Society (UK)  She was the first dog trainer in the Republic of Ireland to become a member of the APDT (UK) still continues to work with their values of Kind Fair and Effective training methods.  Samantha is committed to using motivational methods and positive reinforcement for both dogs and owners!

Her business started in Dublin in 1993, as a pet care service, and, when the recession took its toll, she moved to Thomastown, Kilkenny, in 2011.

The move gave Samantha the opportunity and time to train her own two beautiful rescue dogs, Pele (brought from Battersea dogs home in London) and Sassy (rescued on her way to Ennis pound). They both became champions in the sport of Working Trials.

“Sadly, Pele is no longer with us but he is in spirit and is memorialised on my van and all of my promotional material,” says Samantha. Pele taught me a lot about Collies and about reserved, shy and nervous dogs.  The most important thing is to give them the time and space to feel safe.  Pele was not a naturally gregarious dog and I never expected him to be.  He was allowed to choose who he wanted to engage with.  It’s not personal!

Sassy won the Irish Kennel Club Top Working Trials Dog of the Year award in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Sassy has competed successfully at the top level in Ireland and internationally in the UK, gaining her KC Companion Dog Excellent (CDex) Utility Dog Excellent (UDex) Working Dog Excellent (WDex) and Tracking Dog Excellent (TDex).

Samantha and The Canine College now has a permanent home on five acres at Clashbeg a few miles from Callan on the Kilkenny-Tipperary border.

This generous space gives dogs room to run free and lets everyone practise social safety protocols. There is also a spacious indoor classroom that can operate within the social distancing rules. The Canine College also offers a selective dog boarding service.

“We offer puppy classes, one-to-one training, behaviour consultations and house calls,” explains Samantha.

“We also provide special virtual personal sessions  that you can book online – all from the comfort of your own home.”

Samantha says the key to successful dog training is mutual understanding. “Our aim is to help owners to understand their dogs so that they can build a lifetime bond through trust, compromise and play. People and dogs who play together … stay together.”