Impact 2016

The 2016 IMPACT Working Dog Conference sponsored by Burns Pet Nutrition was a huge success, with 200 delegates from a wide variety of backgrounds; Police handlers and trainers,
Once again the schedule was packed full of fantastic speakers. A welcome address and motivational talk from special guest, Victoria Stilwell addressing whether working dogs can be trained positively, that set the standard for the conference.

The Speakers
Chirag Patel, behaviour and training consultant and owner of Domesticated Manners was truly inspirational delivering his first of two sessions, “Giving Animal Training Back To The Animals: The Big Re-think” Chirag’s application of behaviour change science and ethics certainly brings questions to the table and does what it says in the title, it makes you re-think training principles. Chirag opened day 2 with his look at “When things go wrong: solving behaviour and training problems with Science sense, again a really thought provoking talk giving everyone something to think about and take away for use in their own training. As well as running Domesticated Manners, Chirag works for Dogs Trust as Assistant Head of Cannine Training and Behaviour and consults for Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and the Kong Company. Chirag’s behaviour and training knowledge and experience is extensive this makes him a highly engaging speaker.

Back for a second year was police dog handler and trainer Guy Williams. Guy has been a police officer for nearly 20 years and a dog handler for 14 years, he now runs his forces puppy programme and at the same time the positive police dogs system was adopted by his force and has become the basis for their training. Guy is a font of knowledge and experience and is a captivating and engaging speaker. Guy was pleased to have been invited back to the stage again for the 2016 conference.

I personally find the event recharges my batteries and fuels my enthusiasm for months to come, keen to try out the latest nugget of knowledge I have picked up”

Guy focussed on “The motivational out” which clearly demonstrated and reiterated that GP work can be done with force free methods. Guy was back on stage on day two with “Ethics & Dog Training” with a really thought provoking look at the ethical implications of what and how we train our dogs.
“Impact was clearly bigger this year and it was nice to see more Police there this year. I have always found the Police to be a bit insular so the fact that so many people are looking outside the organisation is a good thing. I think it is healthy to see what others are doing and see things from another perspective.
Whilst this may be happening on an individual basis, there are some clear shortcomings within the organisation in relation to the content available to Police dog trainers with no national methodology or content on how to train a Police dog. This is very much down to individual trainers and is unique to dog training with every department having clear training content.
Impact for me highlights the vast knowledge and experience that is available to dog trainers and the gulf that exists in many areas of Police dog training in relation to knowledge of learning theory and application. I feel that there is a very real need for Police dog handlers and trainers to have an education in animal behaviour from an externally validated source in order to increase professionalism and effectiveness in the service they deliver to the communities they serve.”
Guy Williams

“It was a really informative two days with an excellent diversity in speakers who are all experts in their fields of work. It was really interesting to speak to other delegates from different walks of life and backgrounds with dogs. I have taken away some ideas & thoughts that I can use in the day to day training of my working dogs. It was also reassuring to be familiar with a lot of what PC Guy Williams had to say, confirming that within our Dog Section we are training our police dogs in a positively progressive way and striving to achieve the best from them. Looking forward to Impact 2017!”
PC Anna Mcshane


The 2016 conference welcomed Ilkka Hormila to the UK. Ilkka is a well-known and respected lecturerIMG_0490 in Finland and abroad. With a career in police dog work spanning over 40 years he delivered insightful talks across the two days. Focussing on training detection dogs and discrimination training on day one, Ilkka talked about how a dogs stress level is so important during scent training. He spoke about low stress discrimination training and how to ensure remain olfactory memory. It was a great insight into their training in Finland. Ilkka’s day two talk was focussed on hard surface tracking and the goal of training a dog to maintain a successful search on different surfaces. It was really interesting to see the methods used in Finland and hear Ilkka speak so passionately about his work.
“How amazing to have so many like minded people together for a conference! Impact is a must for anyone working dogs professionally. Whether it’s search or protection work. I only wish I’d know this stuff 10 years ago!”
Louise Swindlehurst, Canine Massage Guild
IMG_0492Scentlogix’s Dr David Adembimpe is a research scientist, philosopher and inventor. Pseudo scents are often a topic of some controversy, ScentLogix ScentKits are now regarded as the “Gold Standard” of training aids for explosives and narcotics. David’s talks across the weekend were a fascinating insight into how it all works.
“As a leading supplier of search dog in the UK I thought it important for B.W.Y Canine Ltd to attend IMPACT K9 Conference, not only as a delegate but also a sponsor. It is vitally important for us to keep our dog training and handling skills current and there were a number of speakers at IMPACT 2016 that gave us an awful lot to think about. We have already changed some of techniques after attending IMPACT 2016, which can only benefit both our dogs and handlers. See you there in 2017.” Stuart Phillips B.W.Y Canine Ltd
Dr Helen Zulch is a Veterinarian and European Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine. Helen delivered a fascinating talk about drive in working dogs; What it is and is it something that is a useful in our training. It was really good to think about drive in different contexts, how we use it and how it impacts on our approach to training.
“What an amazing conference IMPACT was. Looking at every aspect of training from drive to reward from scent work to compliance with some amazing speakers such as Chirag Patel, Helen Zulch and of course Victoria Stilwell. This is a truly motivational conference with one goal to promote positive force free training methods for all working dogs and to spread the word far and wide. Looking forward to IMPACT 2017”
Shelley Heading VSPDT, APDT (308) PPG, DipCABT, Coape behaviour advisor
IMPACT Working Dog Conference 2017 is set to be bigger and better, With the added bonus of the Impact Working Dog Ball giving delegates a great opportunity to network and share ideas. with tickets already selling fast it is certainly not to be missed.B3055106-0995-4AFC-914A-AFF76C6A48F9-24584-0000424D0C03F5C1_tmp

Thanks to for the photos used

Article by @EcologyDogs

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