Video & Gallery: Dog training class is best in show

PRIZE pooches are wagging their tails with delight after almost every member of a Suffolk dog training class qualified for Crufts.

Jo Thewlis

PRIZE pooches are wagging their tails with delight after almost every member of a Suffolk dog training class qualified for Crufts.

An amazing 16 dogs at the Pet Dog Training school in Stonham Aspal have all made the grade for the most prestigious dog show in the world.

Sonia Pike, trainer at the class, said: “I'm thrilled to bits so many of them have made it through to Crufts.

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“I just love the dogs and I love the success.”

Mrs Pike has been running the class which meets at Stonham Barns on Tuesday nights, for the past 13 years.

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During that time, she has seen many mischievous mutts transformed into model competitors with her magical combination of patience and confidence.

“You just have to be calm,” she said. “If you show dogs, you can't think about anything else. You just have to be positive.”

Mrs Pike, who has been training dogs for more than 30 years, put the prize pets through their paces at a meeting this week.

Avid members of the training classes travel from as far as Felixstowe and Mildenhall to benefit from Mrs Pike's knowledge and experience in the showing arena.

On a neat green carpet, naughty nippers and elegant pedigrees are taught the secrets of success, trotting proudly towards Crufts stardom.

Scout, 4, a flat-coated retriever, is one of Mrs Pike's success stories, having just qualified for Crufts for the first time.

A working gun dog, Scout is boisterous and bouncy but Mrs Pike's charm has transformed him into a prime candidate for the elite competition between March 11 to 14.

Scout's owner, Hilary Bright from Walsham Le Willows was amazed with the turnaround in her friendly dog.

“If it wasn't for Sonia, Scout would never have qualified,” Miss Bright said. “I'm amazed he got through. I am a bit nervous because, with Scout, anything can happen.”

Linda Coverley, 62, from Bury St Edmunds, has been taking her dogs to the class for eight years. Her dog, Morse, a 14-month-old wire-haired Dachshund, has also qualified for the world-famous show.

“It is a social night out for the owners and the dogs themselves,” she said. “People are so friendly and Sonia is such a wonderful teacher.

“She is a lovely lady and just inspires confidence.“

Around 20 members packed into the cosy hall to take tips and train their prize pets.

From walking to standing to behaviour in the ring, all the pets were given Sonia's experience and attention to help them do their best.

Chris Wimberley from Ipswich brought her 16-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Timothy, to get in shape for his second appearance at Crufts.

She said: “Showing at Crufts is a big deal and we wanted to give Timothy the best possible chance. Sonia is a wonderful teacher and she really cares.”

- For more information about the classes, visit or call 01449 711147.

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