Charlotte Louise Friis from Life with a Dog has been with Go Dogo behind the curtains from the start. She's a dog ethologist and one of Go Dogo's trusted experts and advisors. From basic training tips and enrichment, to the complexity of dogs' behaviour and issues such as separation anxiety or aggression - Charlotte has all the answers, backed by the latest scientific research.
Go Dogo is on a mission to improve dogs’ lives by getting them the mental stimulation they need to be happy and healthy. Which is why we are thrilled to have Charlotte's support and to be able to share her knowledge with you.
To start out our new "Expert's Corner" series, we've invited Charlotte to a Q&A session, so you can meet the awesome person behind Life with a Dog - and her adorable dog, Chester.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and how your love for dogs started?
A: I am from Denmark, where I have spent most of my life. In 2015 I moved to Sweden to take a Masters in Applied Ethology and Animal Biology and I now live with my husband and our senior fur-baby Chester in Gothenburg, Sweden, which is also where I run my company Life with a Dog from.
I think I have always been a dog lover. From when I was 9 years old I begged my mum on a daily basis to give me a dog. I made presentations, posters and hid post-its under her pillow with reasons why a dog would be good to have. She never gave in, so my first dog was actually Chester, who I have now had for 12 years.
Q: How did you find Chester?
A: As I was searching through different homepages that sold dogs, an ad came up and Chester was on it. The ad was from an organisation called Danish Friends of Animals, who is a rescue organisation working in Portugal and Spain and whose aim is to get dogs off the street and into Danish homes. I wrote them an email and introduced myself and a couple of weeks later I was standing in the airport waiting for my first ever dog to arrive.
It was the best decision I have ever made! 2 years later we added a black Malinois mix named Belga to our family. Unfortunately we lost Belga a year ago to cancer. Belga was the sweetest dog, she would always be right next to you, ready to join wherever you were going. Chester, being a former street dog, is way more independent and with a ton of charm he usually gets away with anything.
Q: It's safe to say that you absolutely love dogs, but we also know there is more to it than just that. What made you decide to turn this passion into a job?
A: I think dogs are one of the most fascinating animals on the planet. The way that they have managed to develop and adapt to humans is truly remarkable. Every dog, just like every human is different, so you never really know what you will be working with, and that for me is very exciting and motivating.
As I said, I came to Sweden to study the master program Applied Ethology and Animal Biology at Linköpings University in 2015. During the program we got to work with all kinds of animals, learning how they communicated, how to enrich them but most of all just observing their behaviour.
During my bachelor's I wrote my thesis about the dog breed legislation in Denmark, so I had already gotten a pre-taste of how it would be to work with dogs. After I finished my master I decided to specialise in dog behaviour, and become a dog ethologist. I therefore took additional University courses while working as a dog walker, and in 2018 I started my company Life with a Dog, an online platform teaching dog behaviour and helping dog owners who struggle with various problems with their dogs.
Q: Could you explain the difference between a dog trainer and a dog ethologist?
A: Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, no matter their former education or experience. There are not really any regulations in that field yet, unfortunately. An ethologist is a person with an academic background in animal behaviour.
Normally, ethologists choose to specialise in one or two specific animal species. Their knowledge is scientifically based and they spend a lot of time keeping up with the newest scientific research and further educating themselves, to be able to base their advice or teaching on the latest scientific knowledge. Dog trainers and dog ethologists can work with the same type of clientele and with the same kind of dog behaviour problems, which is often confusing to people.
Q: What is your training philosophy?
A: My training philosophy is scientifically based, meaning that I follow the training recommended by scientific sources. That means that I use positive, rewarding methods, not only encouraging the dog to make good choices, but also setting up an environment that will help the dog succeed in his/her training.
Q: What are the most common problems you see in the dog world?
A: Miscommunication, and misconceptions about what a dog is and what a dog needs. Many of the behaviour problems, such as separation anxiety or reactivity, that we see in our dogs today stems from boredom, lack of activation or misunderstandings.
Q: We’re so happy to have you as our Go Dogo Dog Expert! What made you want to be part of this project?
A: Thank you! For me, as an ethologist, one of the most important things to do for our dogs is to provide them with daily mental stimulation, or as I call it - enrichment. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for a dog, and science has found that by giving your dog a mental daily boost, you not only prevent potential behaviour problems from occurring, but you also help decrease already current behaviour problems your dog might show. Go Dogo can provide that mental daily boost and also help bring awareness of the massive importance enrichment has for our dogs.
Do you have questions for Charlotte? Or topic suggestions, you would like us to focus on in the months to come? Then let us know by leaving a comment below, mail us or reach out to us on Instagram or Facebook.
Please be aware that we won’t be able to give you individual training tips for your specific dog on our blog - for that you can book an online session with Charlotte here. We will do our best to cover the topics which you find most interesting and relevant.