East Sussex dog trainer named Crufts Certified Instructor of the Year

A DOG trainer from Sussex has been named Crufts Certified Instructor of the Year.

Heathfield’s Judy Hempstead received the Kennel Club Certified Instructor of the Year award, as part of the ceremony at Crufts on Saturday.

The awards recognize dog trainers who have made a positive difference in the lives of owners and their dogs.

Judy was nominated by her family, friends and clients, in recognition of her obedience work with hunting dogs and her ability to “foster a connection between dogs and their owners, which leads to a fun environment and engaging”.

She is accredited in Working Gundogs and also includes a number of canine disciplines, across conformation, agility, hoops, rally and canicross.

Judy started the Working Minority Retriever Club to support minority breed owners through advice and training, and it was this commitment to working dog breeds that led her to be considered a mentor, in especially for young handlers.

This was especially true during the lockdown, where Judy used a variety of methods to stay connected with interns, through online trainings, demos, and challenges for people to work from home.

Following the easing of restrictions, Judy organized smaller groups to train in the open, staggering her lessons to ensure a Covid-safe working environment.

As well as the award, Judy also received a £500 donation from the Kennel Club Educational Trust to continue her involvement with dogs.

Speaking about winning her award, Judy said, “I’m very happy to have been named Instructor of the Year.

“It’s been a tough time trying to establish a formation during Covid, but it’s nice to be rewarded as I’ve tried different methods to get things done during the pandemic.

“I am really satisfied! To be rewarded and recognized for all that I have accomplished during this time has been very moving.

The Kennel Club Accredited Instructor program recognizes and promotes experienced dog training instructors who are committed to using dog training methods based on the principles of kindness, fairness and dog welfare.