Some of my favourite photos
Success doesn’t always have to feel like hard work.
As children we’re taught that hard work leads to success. So why is it that some seem to perform well and achieve more whilst some of us never reach our potential, despite our hard work? State of mind matters when it comes to performance. The mental game is as important as physically training your dog but is often not addressed or even mentioned by trainers and coaches.
Let’s clear something up about the Golden Retriever…in the UK people often mistake Golden Retrievers for cute, easy to train, puppies. Nope. Powerful. Playful. Wilful. Strong. Really Messy. Badass.
Of the four dogs I’ve had, the two we have today are Working Goldens. All dogs here are trained using, kind, motivational, reward-based, training methods. These dogs have been bred for intelligence, speed, style, and temperament, qualities that matter when you’re a sporting dog. Raised indoors, and raw fed, Wygulmut Golden Retrievers swim, hunt, run, and play. They are independent and clever. They are funny.
But they are also badass.
Mellow Dog Mumma (Angela Watson)
Golden Retrievers, workshops, performance, Competitive Obedience.
Meet the dogs at my Paddock
You may know me from the Competitive Obedience world, or my new Mellow Dog Mumma Group, or from my days as a Coach and Principal Executive Coach Trainer at Human Technics which I left in 2019, or from my corporate training consultancy, Angela Watson UK.
This new blog is mostly about the mental game, with a little storytelling, t-shirt design, photography, dogs, and coaching.
Warning: there will be dogs. Not just any dog, but the powerful gun dog of the Scottish Highlands.
I’m also learning how to perform, compete, camp in a Van, and get over being watched, judged, photographed and video’d whilst working the boys.
You won’t find me all over social media, amongst all the noise and hustle. But you will find me at my Paddock, sharing all that I’m learning on my competition journey, with you all, in writing, in photographs, and in (less cringy I hope) videos.
Most of the dog photos here were taken by other people (including the Dog Gallery). The photos on this page are some of my favourites so far. I hope you enjoy them 🙂
Acknowledgements: Photography by Mark Grainger, Karen Dunkason, Caroline Young, and Jason Bath.
Of the four dogs we’ve had, the two we have today are Working Golden Retrievers. All dogs here are trained using kind, reward-based, clicker training methods. These dogs have been bred for intelligence, speed, style and temperament, qualities that matter when you’re a sporting dog. Raised indoors, Wygulmut Golden Retrievers swim, hunt, retrieve, and compete. They are loyal and clever. They are disruptive.
They are badass.
But they are also friendly.
I’m an introvert and a workaholic, and after my life crumbled, I got a dog, left a 17-year career as a trainer and manager of Nurses, and with no business experience I started a corporate training consultancy. 15 years on, I’m now in the throes of a serious dog sport addiction.
My name is Angela Watson, and I’ve been in love with Golden Retrievers and UK Competitive Obedience for many years. But in the beginning, when I discovered the damage created by out-dated, coercive dog training methods, I thought I had to simply give up the idea of having fun training my beautiful dogs.
But then I realised there are kind, playful, and reward-based training methods I can use, that benefit both mine and my dog’s physical and mental wellbeing. Because of my voracious appetite for learning, I tend to dive DEEP into anything I get obsessed with and I made it my mission to learn everything I could about positive, reward-based training.
Since 2011, I’ve been training my own dogs in my tiny back garden, using training methods that are fun and enjoyable, as well as effective.
And I got hooked! I began competing at KC Obedience shows all over the UK, and even qualified for the 2016 Crufts Obreedience Championships with my first Obedience dog, Harry. In 2020 I moved my on-the-road, corporate training courses online and I rented a Paddock. With more space and time to train my dogs than the dogs could handle, I reached out to people in the dog world, who were struggling during the Pandemic, to give some of my time online to support them emotionally and mentally, and just like that, my Mellow Dog Mumma group was born.
Our community of dog mums and dads from around the UK is growing every day. Now we share our successes, pictures, and heart-warming stories of the difference a dog can make to our lives and the lives of others.
Emotional stories, happy ones, or frustrated ones due to ‘if only’ days or overwhelm at ‘what the dog has eaten now’. It can vary.
It hasn’t been an easy ride. I’m 56 and I’d never cared for a dog of my own before, let alone trained a dog to competition level, until I was in my 40’s. I’ve had to learn how to communicate and build rapport with a different species, to speak ‘dog’, walk in a straight line, drive a Van, and get over being watched, judged, photographed and video’d whilst working my dogs. I’ve had performance anxiety, imposter syndrome, and even nearly gave up competing when two of my dogs died within a year of each other.
Then this year I decided to go for it, because my heart kept saying ‘Just Train the Dogs’, and I couldn’t ignore it.
As I’ve been totally committed to training and competing this year, I’ve also been enjoying more success, so I reached out to newcomers to the sport to help them find their feet. Other newcomers got wind of what I was doing and asked me to help them train their dogs for competition, and that’s how Angela Watson Competitive Obedience Training evolved.
The act of walking around a prescribed course, with a dog as close as can be, doing his thing with accuracy and flair, regardless of the result, and the sense of being present and in the moment that comes with working a dog has surprised me with its simplicity.
And as a busy owner of (now) two businesses, and the need for quiet reflection and alone-time that introversion brings with it, dogs are the best companions.
So you won’t find me online amongst all the noise and hustle. But you will find me in my Paddock, sharing all that I’m learning on my competition journey, with you all, in writing, in photographs, and in (less cringy I hope) videos.
And sharing my knowledge with those that want or need it.
I’m so grateful dogs found me. I hope they find you too.
Golden Retrievers Jasper and Berty are on my team so you’ll see them at dog shows, in my blog posts, in my photographs, videos, and in person at The Paddock.
And King Harry, my first Obedience dog who took us from Pre-beginner to Test B, and Crufts. Not here in body but I like to think being honoured in spirit through my competition journey.
And finally, Lucy, who was the dog who took me to dog training school and ignited my passion for Golden Retrievers and training which continues to grow to this day.
What they’re saying…
“I love your passionate enthusiasm for animals and your creativity in connecting this to working with humans to give them learning about themselves. I loved your tips about letting the love pour out to connect with Harry (Golden Retriever). The best bit for me is the love that flashes from your eyes when you connect with Harry. It’s something I could actually see.”
“Angela, it was such an honour and privilege to be in the session with you and Harry. It was a spine tingling and powerful moment, and one that is ingrained into my being. Thank you for giving so much.”
“It was such a pleasure to meet you and Harry. We were all the richer for taking a step into your world of Obedience. We were all so inspired by you and for me I am going to model the love, engagement and consideration you show Harry with my children. You’ve really had a lasting impact.
“Angela pays exquisite attention to a group at the same time as YOU & every other unique individual in the group. She has an instinct for what’s needed for learning & will use a stunning imagination & well-honed knowledge to create the opportunity for it!”
“Angela’s personal style, her wisdom. kindness, humour, and natural ability to connect with me made the whole experience so enjoyable. I’m privileged to have been trained by Angela who is truly an expert in her field.”
“I came to Angela post Covid wondering which direction to take my business and questioning my own ability due to imposter syndrome. Through our sessions she helped the real-me resurface and my confidence grow. We also laughed a lot. She was the perfect thinking partner and I am now happy with the direction I want to take my business and and with who I am. Thanks for walking with me.”
“I’ve been having coaching with Angela for about a year. I was cautious of the challenges ahead of me as a young professional in a new leadership position. Angela coached me in a way that got me to value my capabilities, reduce mental and emotional attachment, and be more decisive.”