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Getting started in heelwork to music

The Kennel Club has unveiled a series of ‘Getting started in…’ videos, which show dog lovers how they can get involved in a range of activities with their canine companion.

Each video is narrated by an ex-YKC member, with demonstrations from their four-legged teammate, including tips on how to get into the activity, what it takes to be successful and practical training advice.

Here we show you how to get started in heelwork to music. Learn more about heelwork to music. Find out how you can take part in heelwork to music as a YKC member.

Interview with Ashleigh Butler 

After years of competing in heelwork to music as a Young Kennel Club member, we caught up with Ashleigh to find out more about her background in the discipline and how she felt being asked to be the presenter of this campaign. 

How long were you a member of the YKC?

I joined the YKC when I was 8 years old. (I feel old now!)

What was your favourite part about being a YKC member?

Spending time with other people who had the same love and passion for dogs as me. At my school everyone thought I was weird for spending all of my time training my dogs, but through the YKC I found lifelong friends that felt the same way as I did.

I also only started heelwork to music (HTM) because of the YKC. I had never thought about trying it until there was a qualifier for Crufts. I decided to give it a try with Pudsey, we fell in love with it, and the rest is history!

Are you still active in the world of dogs?

Yes, very much so! I currently compete in agility and have done for the past 20 years now. I don’t compete in HTM at the moment as I see it as mine and my dogs’ career. I am hoping that one day soon I will get back into the competing side of HTM, as I miss all the lovely people and the friends I have made. 

What do you do for work?

I hold agility and trick training workshops all over the country. I run my own dog training business and I work in the entertainment business with my dogs. I’m very lucky that my career is so varied and I get to do what I love every day.

What’s your favourite part about heelwork to music?

Creating new routines with my dogs - I try to incorporate the dog’s personality into each routine and choose the theme/music based on them.

I also love how much trick training helps my dogs in all aspects of their lives. It’s great for their bodies and keeping them fit, it also helps me to see if they have any physical weaknesses. It gets them using their brains and thinking for themselves - I love when you can see a dog really starting to understand a trick and starts offering that behaviour. It also helps to create a strong bond between dog and owner, you’re learning about each other in so many ways.

How did it feel to be asked to present for The Kennel Club and encourage new people to join heelwork to music?

I was so happy to be involved in such a cool project. I feel passionate about people training their dogs in the right environment and with the right training. I feel The Kennel Club really promote this and I was honoured to work alongside with them to show people how much fun heelwork to music can be.

What would you say to someone thinking about taking part in heelwork to music or the YKC?

Do it! It was the best decision I ever made, and if it wasn’t for being part of the YKC I probably wouldn’t have started heelwork to music. There are so many possibilities and it just takes that one decision to change your life, as well as the life of your dog. 

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