Karen Wild BA(Hons) Dip App Psych
ABIPDT, APBC (full member)

Dog show delight or doggie disaster?

family_puppy_rosetteSummer is the time of ice cream, seasides and local fêtes which in the latest heatwave have all been very popular. Often, a great fundraiser is to run a dog show but these are not always for the inexperienced or faint of heart!

If you are planning a dog show, or are going to visit one, why not share some of these tips so that our community of dogs all enjoy themselves, too.

Does your dog like being ‘on display’? Some dogs love prancing up and down, but for others, being face to face with unknown canine companions and cooing humans can be unwelcome. Take plenty of treats to help your dog enjoy the experience, and be prepared to call it a day if you notice your dog looks unhappy. Signs are ears back, panting, whites of the eyes showing, and of course, a clamped-to-the-bottom tail.

Can your dog walk nicely on lead? As a judge for a pet dog show, I look for the dog to be ‘head-up’ happy. In other words, not being dragged around and to focus on the owner’s commands rather than the lead being the only means of instruction.

Is the show likely to be fun? A really good local show has plenty of rosettes and goodies on offer, with professionals to hand such as vets and dog-experienced organisers. Making sure the ring is big enough without squeezing the dogs together is essential, as is a separate entry and exit. You also need a really good sound system. One year I ended up calling classes at the top of my voice as the microphone system was so poor. Listening out for your classes is all part of the fun.

Teach a party trick! I like to see dogs that can do more than simply stand still or walk nicely. I love to see them working with their owners. Give paw, roll over, catch the ball, are always fun. It might even win you a rosette!

Above all, take the organising seriously, so that the show is safe and enjoyable for all. And don’t forget the water bowls!

Be good!

Karen

What bits do you love best about dog shows? Leave your tips and advice below!

Wild’s top tips! Dog treat bag for easy access

Dog Gadget Alert! All those with big hands or limited dexterity!

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Look what I found whilst out shopping today? Yes, I know it is filled with clothes pegs. Nevertheless at my training class on Saturday, one of my dog owners mentioned that he was struggling with treat bags for dogs. The reason? They are just made a little too small for his hands to reach in and pull treats out easily. Cue – this Brabantia peg bag! As you can see from the pics, they are not that big (I wouldn’t use them for clothes pegs, for a start) but they are well made, have a guarantee, presumably on the manufacture, and are much better sized.

They have a draw string top, too. The bag squashes flat and you can probably wash it (it’s a peg bag so I am thinking it won’t die if it gets wet, surely?). It has a drainage hole in the bottom so you would need to cover that with a disk of card if you were using smaller treats, but I tend to line my treat pouches with a plastic bag anyway.

Mine were about £8 from Dunelm Mill Store. I will let you know how we get on. What is your favourite way to carry treats or a toy? Answers below! Karen

Clothes-Peg-Bag-art

 

 

 

WIN Caption competition with Sophie the Staffie

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Thanks to the brilliant Scott Passmore and his rescue Staffie Sophie, we have a great caption competition!

Enter the caption competition here

and you could win a copy of my NEW book ’21 Days to the Perfect Dog’! This competition is also being run on Facebook . You can have unlimited entries but all we ask is that you let people know how lovely Staffies really are by showing them the pic!

We will announce the winner on here and on Facebook. Good luck and let’s do some positive pr!

Does your dog eat everything?

dog sausage cartoon free useWe are all used to the comical images of a dog hot-footing it away with a string of sausages in his mouth, but what happens if your dog seems to have an insatiable appetite for everything, including the most unspeakable items you can imagine?

Dogs are natural scavengers. It is one of the reasons they are happy to live alongside us, as it is much easier to eat our scraps (or gourmet dog food, or our raw feeding efforts, in these modern times) rather than hunt rabbits or deer. Nevertheless this does not mean they simply stop eating when their appetite dictates they are full.

In fact, your Vet can no doubt report many incidences where they have needed to remove items from dogs internal workings. Eating non-food items is known as Pica, and eating excrement is known as Coprophagia. Why, when food is freely available, do dogs still do this?

Puppies will often eat items as part of exploring their environment, rather like young children will put things into their mouths. With mild discouragement and a tidy floor, this should pass after around 10 months of age.

Older dogs may gulp things down, fearing punishment, so go easy. Teach your greedy pooch to bring things to you, and swap items readily for a tastier treat, without getting upset. The more stressed you are, the more he will fear his prize being taken away from him!

A true scavenger can risk their own health, so if your dog is particularly keen on walks, consider a cage muzzle to prevent him eating possible harmful items.

It sounds revolting, but dogs eat poo, sometimes their own, possibly because it is poorly digested or still smells like food! Get a Vet to check him over to make sure he is getting the nutrients he needs in his everyday diet.

You can find out more about training your dog to come back to you, away from things he may want to eat, or chase, with my affordable, instant downloadable e-guides here.

or why not find out about a behaviour consultation or join our unique puppy class?

Thunder and lightning is frightening for dogs! Tips to help in stormy weather.

dog in storm thykaEasy ways to help your dog deal with scary storms.

We have had some big storms this week. With more to come over the summer months (with hopefully rather less rain) your dog will benefit from some help tackling these terrifying events. Hearing-sensitive dogs suffer greatly with all noises. The sound of tractors, lorries and birdscarers can send them dashing for cover.

In one case I dealt with, the dog was even terrified of tin foil as it emerged from the cupboard. Another dog was petrified of the rattle of a bunch of keys, shaking his head violently. Dogs have far more sensitive hearing than humans. They can hear to a much higher pitch than humans, and can hear sounds that are far quieter than we can, too. It varies with breed and ear type, but in general terms any kind of rotating mechanism (the lawnmower, or paper shredder) is said to give off an ear-splitting screech for most dogs.

Hardly surprising, then, when dogs are scared of thunderstorms, or fireworks. These events are impossible for a dog to predict. I imagine the dog must feel like they are suddenly under attack.

It is natural for them to run and hide, so provide somewhere your dog can retreat to. One client lets their dog hide in the shower room as it is a small space, more insulated from the noise. A cosy, blanket-lined cubbyhole or crate works well. If your dog dives under the bed or table, allow them to come out in their own time rather than forcing the issue. After all, they probably feel like there is a war going on outside.

Some dogs take on the fight and charge about, barking, in an attempt to scare the noise away. An agitated dog is usually closer to biting, so be careful if you decide to intervene.

Using recorded sound to desensitise your dog gradually can work well, too. Sound files can be downloaded from the internet, or bought on CD at a pet shop. Whilst the dog is doing something enjoyable, such as eating his favourite dinner, play the sound at a very low volume so that it is barely audible. Over a period of days or weeks, increase the volume until the dog is happily ignoring it. It is not precisely the same, as there are restrictions on the recording due to the range and pitch it can record (unlike real life), but it can help.

‘Jollying’ is another option. Rather than worrying as much as your dog is, stay happy. By all means let him cuddle you. You can’t make fear worse by reassurance. Even so, staying jolly, playing games and giving tasty food – even doing a simple bit of training, or teach a new trick! All of these give your dog the idea that if you are unconcerned, he will be, too.

With a serious phobia, contact your Vet for help, as they can arrange a referral to a behaviour counsellor. The best results are achieved when the vet and behaviourist work together with you and your sensible but sound-scared mutt.

To find a registered counsellor near you, visit www.apbc.org.uk or contact me for an appointment.