Northwood, Stoke-on-Trent

I have enjoyed being a member of this club for longer than I can remember. Over the years the trainers have helped me to develop and refresh the tricky skills needed to school, in my dogs, the necessary good manners and obedience to ensure we can all live in peace and enjoy life.
Not that its been easy and it continues to be a roller coaster journey. First of all there was Adam. He was spooked whenever he had to be handled on a table: a slight handicap when needing to groom him daily and managing a successful visit to the vet. Then came Sonny; well the least said about that partnership the better, although we did manage to boost his confidence significantly and the shaking eventually ceased. Next came Charlie. She was a little sweetie and by now, some of the trainers' coaching had begun to sink in with me at last. Teddie was also a sweetie but couldn't resist the ladies and we soon put a stop to that. Jack was my only failure. After being terrorised by neighbourhood feral louts, he became very suspicious of everyone and I feel he never did reach that level of anxiety-free, calm submissive living that I aim to achieve with them. Lastly comes a dynamic duo Eve and Sox. By now I was really getting into my stride and continued to learn more and more about dog behaviour. This was the best time for me as everyone began to cheer us on the progress we were making each week. Sox just loved her wages (treats that we learn to use to reinforce good behaviour) She became a knockout at drop on recall and her scenting was second to none. Eve, was a little too diva-like to be bothered with showing enthusiasm for anything except the scenting and of course the annual Christmas party. That was until my trainers judged that we were ready for agility. Wow, how they both loved that. Sox won her first rosette at her first show and I was thrilled that all the obedience training was paying off big time. 

All dogs (and handlers) should be thoroughly schooled in obedience before embarking on agility if you are to ensure you all don't become an irritating nuisance to other agility participants.

Despite consistently setting and delivering an ambitious standard of obedience training, I look forward to my sessions as the people are just so interesting and great to spend time with. I have found refuge amongst fellow dog lovers who have supported me through some very troubling illnesses and I really miss them when my illness prevents me from joining them. My heartfelt thanks to them all and may the good times roll.

Dr.Jayne Smith
Principal Lecturer
Staffordhire University Business School

Sadly, Jayne died on 14th July 2010 having lost a long battle against cancer. She will be sadly missed by all our members. Wednesdaya evenings will not be the same without her. RIP Jayne, free from pain now.


I first met Brenda when I enrolled with North Staffs Dog Training with my very first dog Jess some 25 years ago!  I had no experience of dog handling and had taken on a Border Collie puppy so you can imagine I needed a lot of help.  The classes were brilliant from the word go. We both enjoyed them so much that I started to show in small obedience shows for a short time.  Brenda taught us the basic commands, which all dogs should understand to allow them to become ‘good citizens’ but also taught us that with training the bond you develop with your dog becomes very strong and you enjoy a better relationship with them.  More recently we joined Brenda and Helen at ‘Take the Lead’ training classes where they have now gone one step further and do a lot more ‘fun’ training.  It’s amazing the response you get from your dogs when you introduce tricks, a little agility and general fun to the classes; the dogs love it, owners too I may add!  All in all I must sing their praises very highly as without Brenda and Helen’s input I would not have well trained dogs who I am confident that I can take on trains, buses and ferries without any problems whatsoever and even have comments from the general public as to how well behaved they are.  All down to two very good trainers who over the years have helped thousands of owners like myself to enjoy the company of well-behaved dogs.

Sue & Jon Finney with present Collies Tilly and Mattie


I had never owned a dog before Charlie, so I decided to take him to obedience classes to learn the basics and introduce him to other dogs.  We signed up for a six week course where we started from scratch.   I soon realised that Charlie didn't take much training...he would do anything for a treat (his wages!) it was me who needed training!  However with guidance from the trainers (who are all friendly and approachable), Charlie can now sit, stand, stay, lie down, walk to heel (most of the time) and come when called.  We are now in the next class and Charlie's having fun learning to find hidden treats, jumping small jumps and retreiving his favourite toy as well as working on new commands such as wait, and sit/down stay, among other things (I can actually let go of his lead and he doesn't run off!).
Charlie and I have definitely benefited from attending the classes. There's always a friendly atmosphere, Charlie's met lots of new dogs and learnt so much in the relatively short time we've been going and I'm beginning to feel like I know what I'm doing!!            


I have had dogs for many years and have not had too much trouble with basic obedience training. However, when Maeve joined the pack, I could tell that she would need some firm handling. She is a feisty terrier and loves being the centre of attention.

I looked on the Internet for a training class and made contact with Brenda and Helen. I was impressed by the one to one training in the beginners class and Maeve really enjoyed the sessions and quickly made progress, in contrast to her training at "ringcraft" where she was often bored and then unco-operative and then irritable with the other dogs. I have found the friendly encouragement and advice of Brenda, Helen and Martin invaluable in making Maeve my most obedient dog ever! She is even well behaved enough to do agility training now.

I have had no hesitation in recommending the class to friends, both as a place to train their dog as well as being an enjoyable night out in friendly company.

Anne, Maeve and Nino.


The reason I started going to dog training classes was so that my puppy, Lucy, would be better behaved. We started in the beginners class and are now in the intermediate class. My Mum has also started training her and I train one of the Instructor’s dogs. Lucy is doing quite well and loves the retrieve and scent and is now learning to do tricks.

Richard Turner (aged 11)


During the early 1970’s, we became the owner of our first dog, a mental mongrel called Nicky, who controlled us instead of us controlling him.

When we lost him in 1984 we made a decision that any other dog we had we would take to training classes.

We first met Brenda Spencer in 1984 at the North Staffs Dog Training Club in Stoke. Immediately we started there, we were never made to feel inferior because we had a mongrel.

Over the years we have had various dogs (all rescued mongrels) and all of which have been to dog training classes. All our dogs, except the first one, have been obtained from a Dogs Home, so are a lot harder to train than buying a puppy. It is not easy and you have to practice what you have been taught but it does pay off. We have never been afraid to take our dogs anywhere – nothing is more embarrassing than an out of control dog. If we can do it, anybody can!

Our current dogs are Chelsea and Gypsy, which we have taken to "Take the Lead" Dog Training Club for a number of years.

When we first got Chelsea she was quite gentle but had problems – she didn’t like other dogs or men. Gypsy also was a real handful - we don’t think she had ever been on a lead and was frightened of everything in the house – hoover, washing machine, and microwave – anything that had a motor. If you could see them now, you wouldn’t think that they were the same dogs. They love going to class and can’t wait to get on the floor to do their exercises. Our trainer now is Helen, who is quite strict but fair. We do obedience, tricks and a small amount of agility.

We would recommend anyone having a dog to take them to classes – not only do you train your dog but it also gets them socialised with other dogs. If you do have any sort of problem, you are mixing with people who can always help.

John & Vanda Birchall

Birches Head



Hi, I'm Paddy (Border Collie)

I have a lot to thank Take the Lead Dog Training Club for, mainly for getting my owner (Sandra, my mum) trained in how to control me. I've gone from being a playful, unruly pup to an obedient (still playful) controlled dog.

"Take the Lead" are excellent in training dogs and even better for training their owners.

I love Brenda and Helen - they make a fuss of me (I think they love me too - because I'm a bit gorgeous).

Everyone involved with "Take the Lead", i.e. other dog owners, are all very friendly and helpful, and make all new comers very welcome.

So, a big thank you to Brenda and Helen and everyone else involved with "Take the Lead" for making my owner, Sandra, and me, Paddy, a good team.

Best wishes,

"Paddy" and Sandra.

We started with our Border Collie (Pip) in January 2011. We have since started with our second puppy (Eli). We enjoy the classes very much. You get the chance to talk over any problems with Helen, Brenda or Martin, who always give sound advice. The classes are relaxed and the dogs and ourselves enjoy it. Everyone is always friendly and encourage one another. Without Helen and Brenda's advice we would have two crazy collies.

Dawn and Sophie



Hi, My name is Oz and I am a 3 year old black Labrador.

I have been coming to TAKE THE LEAD since I was a young puppy. I have made many friends on Wednesday night and look forward to hearing "Dog Training" and I run to the front door for my lead.

I am now in the advanced class having learnt to walk to heel, sit/down stays, recall and retrieve (which I still have to work at). With the help of Brenda and Helen I have been learning more tricks and scent work, which is my favourite (I'm a Labrador and love working for my treats).


When out walking Oz I always recommend TAKE THE LEAD to any new dog owners we meet, and tell them how friendly and helpful TAKE THE LEAD is and they make newcomers very welcome.

Oz and Denise

7th Dec. 2011