A first date?
A blind date?
A first blind date?
Enjoy this heartwarming and honest video about how a guide dog can benefit us. Please support and please share!
A first date?
A blind date?
A first blind date?
Enjoy this heartwarming and honest video about how a guide dog can benefit us. Please support and please share!
You walk your dog every day (and if you don’t, start now). Why not use the time to do some on the spot training that will build your skills and help your dog learn?
You might as well use the time, rather than meandering along wondering what you will have for tea tomorrow. Here’s a few quick dog training workouts for you to add into your walk.
Before you start: Take some food treats with you. The best things to use are small (the size of your little fingernail, no bigger!) pieces of meat such as ham or sausage, mixed in with a portion of your dog’s normal biscuit. Either get a treat pouch, or line your pocket with a plastic bag. These are your dog’s wages, so don’t be a mean boss.
Next start on your walk. Don’t allow your dog to drag you down the path. Stop, call your dog to you, give him a treat, then say it’s ok to move. If he lunges forward, repeat. Keep repeating until he stops and waits for you. Congratulations, you have made a great start already. If your dog is just too excited to do the first exercise, don’t panic. Try it each day. It will come!
As you walk down the road, try to say ‘Good dog’ and give your dog a treat every time he is by your side and not pulling. Easy and quick.
You will find he walks at your side waiting for his next bit of wages, if you do this every day.
Steadiness challenge! Count 5 paces, and ask your dog to sit. Pay him with a little bit of food, then tell him ‘heel’ as you walk again. Count 10 paces, then sit him again. Another little food piece. Then count 5 paces again… as before, sit, and reward. Vary the number of paces you take but always ask your dog to sit when you’ve counted the number. You might want to do a few more, or even just 2 paces, to keep your dog guessing.
If you get it right, your dog is soon going to be watching your every move, waiting for the sit command. This is what we call control, and is the kind of behaviour that makes others admire your cool, calm and collected handling!
Now it is time to do a bit of recall practice. Either on or off the lead, whichever you prefer, step back a little way and happily call your dog to you. Give him his wages (a food piece). Walk a bit further, and repeat, calling him, step back, he comes to you, reward. Do this at least twenty times on every walk.
If you have problems and your dog ignores you, put him back on the lead so that as you step back, he is drawn gently towards you.
Keep repeating these little circuit training workouts as you walk, until you are home.
Congratulations! Your workout is complete!
What a strange thing to suggest! Playing with your dog is something we all do, isn’t it?
You’d be amazed how many pet dogs sit alone for long periods of the day, then get fed, and sit on a cosy sofa or lap for the evening, and that’s their daily lives. They may get a walk, they may not. ‘They are too old’, people say. ‘They never pick up their toys’.
In fact, a lot of play is social. This means that whilst some dogs when younger might fling their toys about and chew most things around them, this wears off after a while.
The novelty value of items fades, the longer the dog has access to them. Toys get put into the toy basket and lose their interest.
Playing is such a great activity because it’s really useful for teaching lessons. Our dogs learn to be gentle, to calm down after the excitement of the game. Play is mentally stimulating, leaving the dog tired as a result. Not the sort of tired we get from flopping onto the settee after a day at work. The exhilarating tiredness that we might get after playing on a bouncy castle, or winning the latest round of Call of Duty.
Here’s a few tips on how to wake up the play instinct and get a happier dog.
Firstly, pick a toy they enjoy. Hard rubber toys aren’t usually fun but softer ones can be wriggled about and made to ‘come alive’. Of course, if you know your dog is likely to grab and not let go, or shred it and swallow the contents without giving the toy back, then choose a stronger one. Pick a time when your dog is looking for mischief, or is excited about something else such as you coming home.
Keep the toy low to the ground and wiggle it about, moving it away from your dog. Imagine how a running rabbit might dart away, and get the toy to mimic that movement. If you decide to use a squeaky toy, only use the squeak part once or twice. Apart from the sound being annoying to us humans, it tends to switch the dog off rather than on.
To get the toy back if your dog has decided they really want it, have some treats ready. Tiny bits of sausage or chicken (or other meat, as long as your dog isn’t allergic to it). Swap the toy for some of these goodies, and you can continue the game.
Long before your dog gets fed up, swap the toy for a treat and put it away out of reach. This will keep it exciting and new for next playtime!
We all pat the dog! Please don’t!
Working with owners every day brings lots of stories about their problems with their dogs, but also their experiences in the community, too.
One big worry for dog owners is that children are not asking first if they can stroke their dog. I have even been in situations where parents encourage their kids to come over and pet the dogs in my care. They then become upset when I ask them not to. This is not because I am a mean old lady (and less of the ‘old’, please!). Instead I simply don’t want my dogs to be scared by a child that has been a little clumsy. In the past a child has swooped onto my dog and tried to pick him up. My dog is a good sort and very used to children, but seeing his little shocked face was horrible and told me that he was not enjoying it one bit. If the parents can’t control their children, then I have to. Even if we are nice, we dog owners are still seen to be ‘rude’ when we say, ‘No, please do not touch my dog’!
As a parent myself I know that we want our kids to be friendly and kind. Whilst we want this for our dogs too, there are risks. A child that a dog does not know, going over to ‘pat’ it on the head is NOT friendly, even though the child thinks it is. Few dogs enjoy the attention. I witness dogs simply putting up with it. I also meet owners that are too embarrassed to say no. Imagine if a stranger came up and suddenly put their hands on you?
Our poor dogs don’t talk using words, but their body language speaks for itself. Dogs draw back from unwanted contact – their ears pull back, their heads lower, they try to move away. Remember that being patted on top of the head means reaching out (scary( and touching the dog right over their eyes. Rarely a welcome place to have a stranger place their hand.
The more we take note that children often get bitten when they are being friendly, by a known dog, the sooner we can act positively towards prevention. Let’s be proactive in our community, by learning how we can all work together to teach our kids and dogs the better way to behave.
Getting your pooch to come back to you quickly is something all dog owners dream of. Asking their dog to leave behind fox poo, other dogs, rabbits in the hedge, on a single word, takes some teaching. We make the mistake of causing it to be a horrible event. We call the dog to us, clip the lead on and head for home. The words ‘Come’ or ‘Here’ become miserable events for the poor dog.
Instead, let’s work on making the recall a great event!
These are a few training games that have been very successful in keeping the fun involved in calling your dog back. The first principle is to always call your dog back throughout your walk, throughout their play, and throughout the day. Don’t leave it to the one time their fun is going to be spoiled.
‘Chase me, catch me!’ is a great game that means the dog comes to you and chases you, catches you by arriving at your feet in a sit. Not the other way around. Chasing your dog is a really bad idea. Run the other way! Here’s how to play.
Call your dog to the front of you, then as they arrive, reward them with a treat and some happy praise. Then suddenly turn away 90 degrees and say ‘Come’ whilst moving a few steps away. Again, as they catch up at your feet and sit, say Yes! and reward again. Occasionally dash away as they get close to you, so that they can’t always predict what is about to happen. All of a sudden you are much more fun and rewarding to be with.
Repeat with the excited attitude of ‘Can’t catch me!’
Celebrate when your dog does as you ask. Gradually make this more fun and more difficult by turning and dodging away. Get them to chase you and try and follow you in an effort to get to the front finish point.
Remember the three key aims:
– Be exciting
– Use high value rewards (tasty food is always best and make sure you have a hungry dog!)
– Repeat quickly
If your dog becomes over-excited you must ask for a sit before you give them any reward. Enthusiasm is great, but not knocking you flying in their haste.
Stepping things up is easy. Occasionally, as soon as they arrive at your feet, toss the food away so that they have to move away.
Soon your dog will be looking for the next call, their eyes firmly fixed on you. Give it a try this week. Happy training!
Christmas is a time for eating plenty, and often we eat too much because the food is just so delicious! The same might apply to our dogs. Here are some tips to make sure your dog is safe near festive goodies. The smell of all the roasting meat and the desserts make us all feel hungry so it can be torture to a creature who evolved as a scavenger.
Onions, stuffing (contains onions and garlic), chocolate (theobromine), mince pies and Christmas pudding (raisins) are extremely harmful to dogs. Watch out for the turkey carcass, or any bones, as these can perforate internal organs. They can be easily reached from the worktop but also from the bin, so take them out as soon as possible.
You might be planning to serve your dog his own Christmas dinner, but be cautious. A sudden change in a dog’s diet can also cause stomach upset, so stick to his normal food wherever you can. I am sure you do not want to end up calling out the emergency Vet on Boxing Day. Keep buffet foods well out of reach, and warn your visitors who may not be used to lifting plates up out of the way.
No matter how tempting, don’t allow your dog to drink any alcohol, nor to help themselves from a carelessly placed glass. They might be attracted to its sweet taste but no matter what you see on YouTube, alcohol and dogs definitely do not mix.
Make sure that if family bring their dogs along, you can introduce them away from the house first so that they do not land on one another in a heated argument about who gets to sit on which sofa.
Have you brought your dog something to wear, some antlers or a lovely Christmas pudding outfit? Now’s your chance to do some proper training, by teaching them that if they come to you and let you put it on them, they earn a dog treat or two.
I am sure I sound like a big Bah Humbug dog trainer, but you know it makes sense. Enjoy your dog as the happy, normal creature that they are. And don’t forget to give them extra walks to work off all your Christmas goodies. See, they are really good for us!
Wishing a happy, safe Christmas for all dogs and human families who are all kind enough to support this blog!
What on earth are us humans doing? Collecting boxes down from the loft and suddenly filling the house with flashing lights and tempting food. And none of it can be sniffed, touched, chewed or swallowed. What a pity for our dogs! They may like decorations, but for all the wrong reasons. It is time to be vigilant and check that your beloved pooch can’t reach the spiky holly or the pretty poinsettia.
A real tree might suddenly appear in the lounge, but it is out of bounds to leg-cocking, so be careful where you arrange those electric lights. Even an artificial one is a sudden and strange intrusion. All those dangling baubles and shiny tinsel and even chocolates hanging down. Make sure you put yours on only the highest boughs and never leave the tree unattended. You would be astounded at the reach of a determined dog. Use shatterproof ornaments, and think about putting the tree up on a coffee table or even behind a fire guard. It is simply not worth the life-threatening issues that might occur if your dog decides any of these things are a tasty snack.
As presents start to arrive, keep them well out of reach, because dogs don’t have handy calendars to tell them it is not Christmas yet. Ask givers if the gifts contain anything edible and again, don’t be afraid to put them up on a table to prevent any spoilers.
We had an interesting incident last year where an unwanted (coconut, much hated in our house) chocolate from an advent calendar rolled off the mantelpiece and into the happily waiting mouth of our little terrier Maisie. It was a traumatic moment for us as we retrieved it. Maisie adores chocolate and, unlike our other dogs, would do anything to earn it. Luckily this was the only incident and she is very small. If she were larger there would need to be no chocolates anywhere. This is not just a training issue (she is very good at being called away) but once they can access it, you have a serious problem. Chocolate is extremely poisonous to dogs, so don’t take the risk, not even once.
It is impossible to miss that Christmas is well and truly underway, in our shops at least. I am always a little bothered by its early arrival but I soon get carried away with the twinkly lights and pretty decorations. I love any celebration where people are ‘officially’ supposed to be nice to one another.
In my new book, ‘Being a Dog’, as well as describing how your dog sees and responds to the world around him, I talk about our human behaviour, where we buy our dogs presents, have parties for them and generally spend a lot of money on things they may or may not need. Christmas shopping is one of those times where we can easily get carried away. What might your dog actually prefer, and does he really need more, or any, toys?
Sometimes I visit a client’s home and they have toy boxes filled with squeaky, furry, fluffy dog playthings but still they report that the dog is not interested in them, preferring shoes, dirty laundry, or the childrens’ toys. Why spend money on more things for the dog that they won’t play with?
Yes, dogs do need their own safe things to enjoy so that they will be less likely to chew up unsafe items. We have great pet shops locally for you to source these. Dogs like novelty, so the new toy you buy will be enjoyable for a while until your dog gets to explore it, but after a while it could be relegated to the toy box graveyard along with all the others. The solution? Take some of the toys away and put them out of reach for a while. You can swap them over after a few weeks and hey presto! A whole set of ‘new’ toys to delight your dog.
The biggest attraction for dog goodies is the scent the item holds, followed by the texture. Dogs generally prefer softer items compared to solid or metal, possibly because they enjoy this texture in their mouths (rabbit-like, perhaps). These items retain any scent more readily, so your shoes, gloves, socks and underwear may be particularly tempting.
To deter them from playing with things you own, you might use a pet-safe bitter-tasting spray on the item, but preferably choose a series of safe-to-chew dog toys that can contain food. This maintains novelty, gives the dog something tasty and interesting to explore.
They could even replace the boring old dog dinner bowl as a fun activity in the gloomy winter months to come.
Every time the autumn arrives, I notice the temperature changes quite rapidly. Not for us the late summer in autumn that we have enjoyed in the past! This year we are straight down to business, with colder and damper weather leading us into wintertime.
Coats are on sale everywhere, and not just for humans. After the dressing up costumes of Hallowe’en, we now have the winter jumpers and Christmas gear, but also plenty of dog coats available.
‘They already have coats’ I hear you cry. Yes indeed, our dogs are covered in fur. If you compare a Pinscher or Weimaraner to a Border Collie, however, you can see that those coats vary hugely. A light covering of fur is not going to insulate your pooch as much as the heaviest of Golden Retriever fluffiness.
If you decide your dog might be feeling the cold, aim for a rain-protective and padded coat. Ensure that your dog can still move freely in it, as it can be a little overwhelming for them at first. Fleeces are available, with leg ‘sleeves’ that are brilliant for Greyhounds and others that simply do not have nature’s furry coating.
It is only fair that a very young dog gets additional help in keeping warm especially on damp, rainy days. A puppy’s coat is naturally lighter and fluffier, even if their future fur is going to be thick and warm.
In addition we all know that getting older brings aches and pains in colder weather, so your elderly dog, who may have survived happily through all the preceding years, might start to appreciate another layer.
Dog coats can be bought on a budget, or can be very costly. My advice is to start with a slightly less pricey, or second-hand coat or jumper. They are not great quality but I would not want you to spend a lot of money if your dog dislikes it. Once you have spent time accustoming your dog to the new sensation, they will appreciate it, and you can then purchase something a little more high quality, perhaps.
Waterproof coats can be treated fabric rather than noisy, sweaty, crinkly plastic versions, so shop around!
You may currently be complaining as many dogs appear to moult at this time of year, possibly due to the central heating coming on. Nonetheless, keeping their coat in good condition means that whatever fur they do have will help protect them from the cold. Judging by the amount of coat my little dog Pickles is currently shedding, I could probably knit us both a new one.
To celebrate the launch of my book, Being a Dog, we have teamed up with talented artist Karen Green, for an exciting opportunity to win a Pet Portrait of your dog!
As you can see, her skills are incredible. It would make a superb memory of your beautiful pooch, so do enter!
How to enter:
As this is to celebrate the launch of my book, ‘Being a Dog’ we would like you to say below what ‘Being a Dog’ really means to your pet. Please add your comment below (in 30 words or less) in the format: “My dog loves Being a Dog because…”
We will choose the most appealing answer as our winner by the 5th November and the winner will be announced here on this page, so keep checking back!
About Karen Green, Fine Artist
Please add your comment below (in 30 words or less) in the format: “My dog loves Being a Dog because…”