Updated: Mar 11, 2021
For the first of our Petpreneur talks, let’s start off with a bang! Meet Avril Young, she is the lovely owner of Imanje Pet Services, along with her partner David. Together they offer a bunch of different services: Dog training, walking, small animal care and animal reiki.
Avril is an accredited dog trainer with the Pet Professional Accreditation Board, while holding professional membership of the International Companion Animal Network, INTODogs (founding member organisation of the UK Dog Behaviour & Training Charter) and the Pet Professional Guild British – which means she agrees to their code of ethics.
She is also one of the first Scottish certified Mantrailing UK instructors, a certified Scentwork UK trainer/judge, and a World Scent Dog Association instructor and judge!
A lady of many talents!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
I share my life with my 3 Rhodesian Ridgebacks who have been instrumental in humouring me for all continuous personal development required to ensure that my skills and knowledge of force free, scientific based training are kept up to date.
We couldn’t come up with a novel name for our pet service business, so decided to use our Kennel Name – Imanje (Rhodesian Ridgebacks). Imanje is an African Goddess in mythology.
As I have grown the training side of the business, we now also offer Walk & Train packages which we have found beneficial in the current lockdown climate and helps us to integrate puppies into our group walks. These are also great for some of our rescues who are not quite ready to play with other dogs.
How and why did you get started with your business?
I was training dogs for the showring at a local ringcraft club and met with a trainer who helped me with our own a dog who is a sensitive soul and can react inappropriately. Claire at Lothlorien Dog Services offered me the chance to shadow her at her training classes before giving me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills and take puppy classes for her. I remain an Associate Trainer with Lothlorien and love teaching both in a class setting and on a 1-2-1 basis!
Through Claire, I met another trainer who had a walking business but was moving out of the UK, she encouraged me to start my walking business. Very quickly, it became apparent that there was a niche for “reactive” dogs as they need solo attention. We now specialise in solo walks for dogs with special requirements, group walks for those who want to have company and our walk & train packages start off our puppies, preparing them to join our groups.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love working with dogs! Taking other people’s dogs for a walk is a very responsible task, and we pride ourselves in providing safe, fun mental enrichment walks for the dogs in our care – whether that is in a group walk or a solo walk. Our tag line “providing enrichment with Imanjenation” describes our walks perfectly.
I love working with people! When asked to help with training, I enjoy helping families understand the dog they have, and it makes me so happy to see their friendship grow and their bond strengthen during our sessions. When teaching my Scentwork/Mantrailing students, the excitement and joy on their faces when their dog makes a successful find, makes my heart sing.
What makes you so passionate about Scentwork/Mantrailing?
Firstly, let me explain what those are!
Scentwork – this is where we teach out dogs to recognise and locate a specific scent, and we learn to read our dogs body language! Scent detection for pet dogs.
Our homebred girl, Mika, loved tracking but loved to follow the wildlife more, so we moved to Scentwork – and she loved it. Again, she got me hooked, so after competing in some Scentwork UK Trials, I became a certified Scentwork UK Trainer/judge. During lockdown, I completed the World Scent Dog Association Instructors course and am now a certified WSDA instructor/judge.
Mantrailing – this is where we teach our dogs to follow the scent trail of a “missing person” and find them. Our dogs teach us to trust their noses! Search and Rescue for pet dogs.
My sensitive girl, Inca introduced me to tracking many years ago, but she preferred to use her nose in a more efficient way than follow a trail on the ground! This got us started with pursuit tracking and from there, I found Mantrailing and have since become one of the first Scottish certified Mantrailing UK Instructors.
As I am sure you can now tell, I love the dog’s olfactory system and all things odour! Every dog and handler team teaches me something new and seeing them have fun and build a stronger friendship based on trust is just the best.
Why is Scentwork/Mantrailing so important for dogs?
Dogs live their life through their noses – smells are where information is stored and allowing our dogs to sniff on walks is not only of huge benefit to their mental and emotional needs, but also a natural way for dogs to engage all their muscle groups in one go!
Sniffing is a natural calming behaviour, so from dogs who are worried or stressed, to puppies who have too much energy, all dogs benefit from sniffing, giving them a specific job, makes us part of their team.
Can any dog do Scentwork/Mantrailing?
If your dog has a nose, they can use their natural abilities to work with us to find trained odours or people!
Both these sports are particularly good for reactive dogs who need to work alone – online classes for Scentwork mean there is much less stress and distraction while learning.
While Mantrailing is one dog working at a time, there is no need for them to meet other dogs or people who they would find scary.
There is no lower or upper age limit for either activity and, as it is a low impact sport, it suits handlers of varying abilities too.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
I am looking forward to introducing more teams to the fun of Scentwork and Mantrailing.
My plans remain to build the walking side of the business for David and offer more training in my favourite sports (along with the various other training services we offer here at Imanje).
What would be your number 1 top tip for dog owners?
Just 1!! Work with the dog you have – we all have an idea of what we would like our dog to be, but to get there takes time, training and practice. If we build a friendship on trust, everything we do with our dog becomes easier and more fun! And being open to new things can see us take paths we would never have dreamed of.
Training is a way of life; it shouldn’t be a chore.
How can people find your business and where can we find you on the interwebs?
You can find us at www.imanje-pet-services.com and
on Facebook https://en-gb.facebook.com/imanje.pet.services/
Check out the Imanje Scent & Trail page (click here) on our website for details on how to get started in either (or both) activities... Yes, they are addictive and lots of our students do both!
Pictures in this post kindly provided by Edinburgh Dog Photography.