Dog Medical Emergency Guide created by FIGO Pet Insurance.
Dog Medical Emergency Guide created by FIGO Pet Insurance.
Exercise. We probably all need a little more of this, and pets are no different. Is there an ultimate lead that makes this easy?
The idea of an all in one convenient leash means we have seen them equipped with treats holders, water bowls, and of course, poo bag holders.
Leash fashion is taken care of with designer branding and colours, but the humble short lead may not be the future as we try to exercise our dogs under control.
Dog training is desirable to stop pulling on lead and to allow lots of freedom, but many people prefer not to let their dog entirely off their leash, or aren’t allowed by law. Longer ‘retractable’ leashes and lines combine safety and responsibility too and it is here that the human trend for tech and fitness has really overtaken leashes with functionality at the fore. Some trainers aren’t keen on flexi or retractable leads, but as with all tools, you need to know how to use them to make them safer.
So, the humble leash has seen an upsurge in style and technology!
Smart leashes, such as the Go from PetKit are hi-tech retractable leashes. Their functions include measuring walking and activity, linking via bluetooth to a smartphone. Rechargeable on usb, with the ability to charge your own phone too, these leads are designed to be more comfortable to hold too. Led lights are a popular tech addition allowing nighttime dog walks to be safer as the dog wanders to the extent of the lead, as well as reflective or luminous bands and stitching.
Encouraging a comfortable walk is assisted by the TUG ‘360 degree’ lead that again is extendable but prevents tackles with a rotating section on the handle. The SmartLeash reflects the uncomfortable nature of a dog that may pull with a shock absorbent bungee/elastic attachment.
Here are a few of my top picks for now, if you’re heading towards a new choice to keep your dog exercised but remember, long lines of this type need you to be vigilant – never ever walk your dog on an extending leash next to a road!
Any play can turn into a problem if you don’t think through the rules and regular routine of the game beforehand. It’s a good idea to think about what the game is actually ‘for’!
Let’s think of a basic ‘fetch’ game. Simply tossing a ball over and over until your dog falls down, exhausted, might sound like the best idea for a quiet life but can create a serious obsession for your dog. It can also create injury issues as the dog repeatedly lands on the same joints over and over in a frenzied attempt to catch. As we know, nothing is good when it’s excessively repetitive. This can be particularly problematic with some working breeds such as Border Collies, who then constantly obsess about the game and cannot break off from it.
Now let’s look at chasing your dog. I have heard several owners say they love running after their pooch while it gambols about the lawn. This might be hilarious as a mock ‘I am gonna getcha!’ game but it actually teaches the dog to run away from you. This has to be the very last thing you want your dog to learn. It is even worse when the dog also has a toy and learns to ‘keep away’. Before too long you have taught your dog never to return to you and also, that they can hold onto things without giving them back.
How about play fighting, where you encourage your dog to mouth on your hands or clothes. Even if they are gentle, you are teaching your dog that mouthing people is a great game. You might be fine with it, but it may not be the same for anyone else, especially anyone frail or small. It’s not a thing to boast about, ‘He doesn’t hurt me!’. You have taught a dog to play with people using their grabbing and mouthing behaviours, which could be easily misinterpreted as biting. Easily done and forever a problem, so the quick answer is, don’t teach it. Using their mouth on people is a habit we do not want any dog to learn.
This doesn’t mean you can’t play with your dog – far from it! Reverse the above. Ask your dog to bring things back to you, little and often. Vary the game by hiding things for them to fetch rather than asking them to run back and forth. If they need that much running exercise, teach them a send away.
Instead of chasing your dog, invite them to chase you! Easy!
And finally, play with a toy rather than your body. There are millions of dog toys out there, and you only really need to pick one. It’s not hard, and it’s a lot of fun. Enjoy!
I am asked this nearly every day at the moment. Everything is still changing day by day, so I am not going to give you the exact details of what is ‘allowed’ as I write this column, because it will be out of date probably even by tomorrow! We do know that touch can transfer infection and the advice currently is to always wash your hands before and after touching your pets. I am not sure if you are doing this, but that’s sensible hygiene in any case, so we all should.
Moreso right now, we are all wondering if our dogs are allowed to meet other dogs, and how will it affect them if they can’t? The quick answer is, 2 metres apart is 2 metres apart, but don’t be upset because this means your dog can’t mix.
The idea of social distancing has become more normalised, and I am glad it has. Whether or not we follow it (and we definitely should!) is something that many dogs have already been doing for years. Dogs aren’t all the big, huggy and over the top creatures we may think. It’s probable that your dog likes you and wants to do this for you, but often, they won’t share that same affection with everyone.
I have to explain over and over to clients that many, many dogs do not automatically love everyone. They don’t want to meet every person and every dog on their walks or in their home. They are allowed to have those misgivings. It’s normal.
You may have the dog that does love everyone, but in return, does that mean that your dog is entitled to leap all over every person and dog they encounter? No, it doesn’t. It often causes fear, anxiety and lots of fights too.
My goal here is for you to recognise that for a lot of dogs, social distancing and lockdown have been a good thing. They don’t want to meet and greet. They perhaps want to look from a distance, or only play with people and other dogs that they actually know well. They don’t necessarily need to be life and soul of the party, and most dogs I work with are very happy to stay at least 2 metres away (and probably more). In short, they are allowed to have preferences. It is us that can overwhelm and upset them (or other dogs, or other people) by allowing and encouraging them to get far too close.
Next time you are on your walk, don’t be sorry that your dog can’t go right up to other dogs. A lot of themD probably prefer it.