Helping make your dog part of the family

Lydia Finnegan BSc Hons AABT, HND AC

Qualifications and Experience

I studied at Bishop Burton College in East Yorkshire, England for 5 years for my qualifications; a HND (Higher National Diploma) in Behavioural Science and Zoology and also a BSc Hons Degree in Applied Animal Behaviour and Training. During this time in college I was presented each year with a rescue dog with behavioural problems, which I had to assess and modify.

For my degree I specialised in Canine/Feline Behaviour & Counselling for which I received a distinction. During this time my rescue dog and I were assessed on obedience, agility and socialisation skills.

I also covered a module on Inappropriate Canine Behaviour by dog behaviour expert Angela White. This provided a real insight into dog behaviour and the possible causes of behavioural problems, plus modification plans and techniques. A counselling module additionally helped in understanding the dog owner’s point of view and getting them to open up and talk about their issues, which in some cases is understandably difficult for people.

During my time here I also judged on several dog shows, and trained with a variety of other animal species. I also specialised in Herpetology (study of lizards & snakes)!

Working with Tigers

After graduation I went to South East Asia for a year's volunteer work with the Indochinese Tiger.

During this year I raised 2 tiger cubs from 3 days old. I fed them, washed them, cleaned their cage, exercised them and practised environmental enrichment techniques on their enclosure.

When I arrived at the Tiger Sanctuary all 13 tigers were being fed dog food and pulped chicken, but after a bit of persuading the head keeper, they were soon all on red meat!

As I grew more confident around the tigers and recognised their behaviours and moods I was put in charge of the welfare of several other adult tigers, and their keepers.

I also trained some of the younger calmer cubs! They were surprisingly accommodating!

During my time working with the tigers, Craig Busch visited and filmed an episode of 'The Lion Man,' with footage of myself working with the tigers, and this has been aired several times on both TV3 and Sky 3.


The Start of Pet Problems

Since returning from Asia to Ireland I decided to set up my own dog training and behaviour business in 2007 - Pet Problems, which has developed into a real personal achievement!

Through my business I was asked by one of my clients to work with young male offenders in Dublin for the VEC, where my client was the principal. I taught Animal Care in summer 2008 as an extracurricular subject to the boys, and also showed them how to train their resident rescue Lab cross dog. I really enjoyed this work, it was different and taught me  a lot too.

Also in 2008 Beaufort College approached me as they had heard of Pet Problems and asked me to do both puppy and dog obedience courses for their night classes. Alongside these, I started my own obedience classes the following year and ran these plus agility and socialisation classes until 2015. 

Due to extra work commitments as a canine nutritional advisor, I now focus mainly on one to one home visit training and behavioural modification. Everything I covered in classes I can complete in home visits, including off lead recall in various locations. I started outdoor socialisation classes again last year in Navan, I find the dogs get on much better with the freedom outside rather then bouncing off each other in an indoors unit and the fresh air does us all good!