CAM blogs

CAM Meets Kamal Fernandez

Kamal Fernandez, Internationally renowned dogs trainer, author, World Championship Level Sports dog coach. With over 29 yrs experience in the world of dogs and dog training, Kamal has pioneered to the use of reinforcement based methodology to train dogs from unruly pets to Crufts winners. He has competed at the highest level in dog sports, and speaks at conferences and delivers seminars all over the world, including the Victoria Stillwell Bite Conference, IMPACT conference for service and military personnel, as well as Television appearances on Sky Television’s ‘Dogs Might Fly’, where 12 rescue dogs were followed on their journey to ‘flying a plane’.


Kamal kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

 What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition in dogs?

I think that there is a distinct lack of knowledge about Arthritis management, which is why CAMs has such a crucial role to play. Education is key! The dog that raised my awareness amount arthritis and its impact, was the dog I first embarked on my career in dog sports with. He was diagnosed with arthritis at 4yrs old, and I was initially faced with having to retire him from competition and a life of painkillers and on lead walking. There was no real source of information or guidance on the subject, or what I could do to help him. This was before the internet, so I couldn’t even ‘refer to google’! So, I went through a process of trial and error, management and to be honest… making it up as I went. For me, it was a lot of learning, some mistakes and some successes. Even with my second dog that had major arthritis at 6yrs old, there was still a lack of easily accessible information. We often see a condition like arthritis as the end of the road, when in reality, it truly isn’t. The aforementioned dog lived till nearly 15yrs old and competed until 10.5yrs old. His condition was managed and as a result he lived a full, active life till his last days. This is what I would want for everyone who finds that their dog has this condition. It isn’t the end of the road, just a diversion. CAMs has taken the task of education, information and enlightenment to allow dogs with arthritis to live a fuller, longer, healthier and happier life.


 As a trainer, what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?

One of the biggest issues to be aware of and consider, is flooring in training venues. When I first started training (when Noah got of the Ark…), I went to local hall with flooring that akin to an ice rink! And it would be periodically be polished, and we would have our dogs walk and run on it! I think back now, and literally cringe at the thought! When you know better, you do better. I am now obsessed with the flooring my dogs work on, I won’t take a them on any surface where they can get traction easily and they can be safe. Having had a dog with a major injury, caused just out on a walk, and the long and weary road of recovery… Its something that I can control, and ensure my dogs and e safe. I invest hundreds of pounds on matting that’s has excellent traction, and is easy for the dog to move on and remain sure footed.


How do you see treatment options for arthritis progressing over the next ten years?

I think that the education and information about Arthritis is like night and day, to what it was…. And I HOPE that it continues to expand, and we add to the artillery against this life altering ailment. I think that the holistic approach to dealing with our dogs that have arthritis and prevention/management has revolutionised the life style we can give them, and I hope that new medications, treatments and understanding will further enhance this.


 If you could have the opportunity to give one tip/piece of advice to an owner with a dog suffering from arthritis what would it be? 

Educate yourself and look holistically at the issue. Subtle life style changes, simple things around the home and management, can totally change your dogs world… a world that is full, colourful and filled with joy!