The Life of a Wonderdog ~ Interview with Kelly Gill

by Kelly on September 3, 2015

The Wonderdogs

I’m sure the Wonderdogs need no introduction for our Australian readers.  

But just in case ~ The Wonderdogs are incredible team of Border Collies owned and trained by Kelly Gill. These gorgeous dogs star in tv, movies and TV commercials. They also team up with Dr Katrina Warren to perform shows and trick demonstrations on stages all over the country.  

We’re thrilled to chat with Kelly about the life of the Wonderdogs, the training involved and what they get up to when they’re not working. 

What’s a typical ‘work day’ for the Wonderdogs?

The day before a job they get bathed & groomed to make them beautiful & spotless. They all get very excited & know the difference between just a bath & a “we are going to work” bath!

On the day we normally have an early start & they are always bright eyed bouncing into the Van.  Most work days are varied depending on what the job is.  Sometimes it might be a commercial with just one or two.. other days its a big stage show with 5 of them performing.  They are real workaholics & get a huge buzz from working. They can all find a camera & put themselves in front of it without me.  I often feel like I’m not needed as they just seem to know what to do themselves!  The more technical a job, the happier they are.  They get well paid with heaps of treats & their favourite toys.  

Once the day is over they relax & sleep all the way home… I love how they get home & run around making sure the dogs that didn’t go…. know how much fun they had working! Then off to the dam for a swim….  

The WonderdogsThe Wonderdogs ~ Sketch, Trick, Flynn, Jinx & Willow

What’s a typical ‘day off’ for the Wonderdogs?

I feel very lucky to live on 40 acres with a huge dam just for the dogs.  We spend our mornings going for a huge run on the local bush tracks & then home to swim & play in the dam. They then retire to the house & lounge to sleep the day away!

Most afternoons we do a little bit of training either Obedience, Agility or trick work then each dog has their own game they like to play. Its really important the dogs are kept very fit through exercise & training. 

What do you think has been the most fun commercial job the Wonderdogs have had?

There’s been so many that I’ve really enjoyed but I think The Jeep & Kraft Cheese Commercials were the most fun.

The Kraft Cheese Commercial with Wonderdog Jordie~

The Jeep Commercial with Wonderdog Flynn ~

Do you have a favourite Wonderdog trick?

Counting…! Its also Jinx’s favourite trick  & no one has any idea how she does it…

What training method or philosophies do you use?

I am passionate about helping owners find joy in training their pets without force.  Techniques are based on positive reinforcement with lots of rewards because we know that training sessions are the most productive when there are smiling faces, bright eyes and wagging tails.  Happy dogs enjoy learning and view training as a game.  The Wonderdogs are a demonstration of this – confident, motivated  dogs that always have fun, even in the most challenging circumstances and environments.

How much training is involved in developing a Wonderdog?

Training starts at 8 weeks or as soon as I get a new puppy or dog.  All of my early training is more about developing a relationship with the puppy & getting him/her to understand how rewarding I am. We play lots of games using food & toys, having fun while at the same time teaching the basics like come when called, sit & drop I need them to enjoy learning.

We also start with some easy tricks like spin, roll over & shake hands. Training should be all about having fun together, I keep training sessions short & do at least a few each day.  The next important step is really good socialisation. I take them lots of novel places & reward for calm attentive behaviour.

Once they are adults I try to keep teaching them brand knew things to keep their minds active. I pick things that interest each dog or skills that they have.  For example, Sketch loves to climb & jump so we taught her to skip a rope! She loves it & its easy for her.  She’s also got amazing balance so a handstand was an easy trick to teach her where as for Flynn this would be hard.  Flynn loves to learn technically hard behaviours like hide face, look Left & right, shake his head & roll himself up in a blanket. Each dog has their own skills & strengths.

As adults we do very short training sessions & always end with a game.  

Wonderdog JinxWonderdog Jinx

I believe teaching fun tricks is the key to developing  an amazing life long relationship,  this was the inspiration behind myself & Dr Katrina Warren creating Wonderdog School – an interactive online program, giving every owner the opportunity to confidently train and enjoy their dog. 

We know many dogs are surrendered to pounds & shelters purely due to lack of good training, management & socialisation. We wanted to do something positive to improve animal welfare and inspire owners to experience a happy lifelong relationship with their dogs.

What’s the inspiration for you and Katrina with the Wonderdog School?  

Owners often tell us they’re frustrated with their dog’s behaviour.  They want to know how to train their dogs to be fun, well behaved companions. They tell us they need help to resolve problems like jumping up, housetraining, pulling on the lead, barking, chewing, digging but do not know where to find the answers.  

They also look at the Wonderdogs and feel inspired as they want their dogs to behave like that. We know that people are time poor and sometimes really simple tips and practical advice can make all the difference. That is what we do in Wonderdog School. 

Do the Wonderdogs have a favourite place they’ve been in Australia?

Flynn loves the SCG cricket ground!! Lots of fans to adore him & balls to chase!!.. as far as his concerned it doesn’t get any better than that!

Wonderdog FlynnWonderdog Flynn

What tips do you have for others that are frequently travelling with their dogs?

Make sure you always have ID on your dog just incase something goes wrong.. & a few leads!  Always take their own food with you so theres no diet changes. When exercising your dog be careful they don’t find foreign things to eat!!.  We always have lots of spare bedding & towels just incase they are needed too.

Always check before travelling if you are going into a Tick area & if so make sure you have protection on your dog.

What’s the best thing about life with Wonderdogs?

Life with The Wonderdogs is amazing… We all have the best relationship & know each other inside out. The best thing is definitely they way they know what I want before I even ask..!!

Headshot of Kelly GillKelly Gill, owner & trainer of The Wonderdogs, has over 23 years experience as a veterinary nurse, puppy trainer and dog class instructor. Competing in Obedience & Agility competitions she has achieved over 300 titles including Obedience Champion and Agility Champion twice. She is highly sought after as a professional animal trainer for television and film. Kelly’s team of highly trained Border Collies, the Wonderdogs perform at events across Australia. She is also the co-creator of Wonderdog School, an online dog training course that gives owners the skills to confidently train and manage their dogs.

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Hi! I'm Kerry & this is my best buddy Keiko. Together we want to help you live the best life with your dog and bring you inspiring 'Puppy Tales'! Read more →

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