Archive | March 2012

Guest Blogger Donna Dunne talks about Canicross in Ireland

I’d like to thank Donna for taking the time to write this post on Canicross in Ireland

I first seen Juneau in the background of a photo of a dog that was looking to be adopted.

Myself and my husband were considering getting a northern breed dog. We have a little cavalier and wanted a ‘big’ dog too, we just didn’t know whether or not to get a pup or rescue.
When Karen of  Irish Sled Dog Rescue posted a picture of a dog that was looking for a forever home on a forum, all I noticed was one of the dogs sitting on his own in the background, with big floppy ears and lost eyes.
Sometimes you just know when you have found what it was you were looking for!
A few exchanges of emails later we discovered that Juneau, who was only after arriving with Karen was of unknown age (estimated at about 8 months) he wasn’t quite a husky either but its hard to put a finger on what he is!
He was very skinny and didn’t know how to chew food.
Juneau

At the end of August 2009 Juneau came to live with us.  Juneau had very little muscle, so we knew we’d have to take things easy, we walked  about 2 miles every second day to begin with. As he began to bulk up I knew that a walk would never be good enough, and being a husky (or part off) we could never let him off lead. I also knew that to keep with Juneau I’d have to stop smoking 20 a day, and do something about the extra few stone I gained and never lost after my second baby! I had read about canicross on different websites, I thought it was really interesting, it was somethign I’d love to do but i never thought I’d be able to run.

Training
As Juneau continued to get stronger, I knew we were getting to the stage where I’d have to introduce other forms of exercise- we began bikejoring- but he kept trying to get back to run beside me.I thought at first it was just a matter of training him to run out in front but on his walks he had no problem with pulling ahead. We tried everything, it was then we realised that he was just a little insecure and just wanted to be close to us humans.
So we began running- we started off by running from one lamp post to the next then walking to the next lamp post and repeated this for about a mile of our usual walking route. Juneau loved doing this, he would run out in front no problem as he was still closeto me. After a few weeks of this we got a harness, bungee lead and a belt, we also began a more structured couch to 5k training plan.
We were also still walking, we used this time to teach commands. Luckily Juneau was a natural puller- I would keep him at my side and when we began to run I would let him run out in front, when he ran out enough that we could feel the ‘pull’ on the lead I would say ‘out’and tell him that he was the best dog in the whole wide world (I think because Juneau was so insecure he really cherished and excelled on a positive tone of voice) the first few times he would get so excited at the praise he would stop and bound back to me!
Wherever we went I was like his personal sat-nav dictating the journey to get him following directions- ‘right’ ‘left’ and stop were easy it just took a lot of repetition.
As we began to run further I found that our understanding of each other grew as did our bond, we found it easy to fall into pace with each other.
The first race
In May 2010 myself and Juneau along with three other canicrossers- Ursula and Max, Laura and Suki, Trevor and Ole, ran (and walked!) our first 10k race. I never felt pain like I did after that race, I couldn’t sleep for two days after and was injured more often than not for the rest of that summer, whereas Juneau, being made of stronger stuff got stronger and healthier!
Over the following winter and into 2011 running became a lot easier for us and I seemed to have overcome my injuries (thanks to a lot of physio!)
In May 2011 I ran a local 10k on my own (and I ran it completely without walking!) but I missed my training partner. Over that summer we continued running early in the morning and late in the evening- I often wondered would we try go further, so for the next few weeks we increased our distance by a mile a week until we were running 10 miles.
Come a long way
One particular Sunday morning we went for our usual long run- this week we were up to 10 mile and as I watched Juneau run in front of me, totally focused on what was ahead and I looked at his tail sway from side to side in pure happiness, his muscles toned and strong I knew canicross had changed us both- made us happier and healthier, it dawned on me that it was two years since Juneau had come to live with us we had come a long way from the skinny dog and flabby owner of two years before!
From that August I knew my target for the following running season was to run races with Juneau- hopefully we could promote the benefits of canicross to other dog owners this way. You can join Canicross in Ireland on Facebook and see what we are up to, whether it is something you are interested in starting with your dog and looking for tips or looking for runs that accept canicrossers, we have a great group of people  from all walks of life there, so join in.
Donna Dunne
Please LIKE this post if you enjoyed it or found it interesting, even better leave a comment below.
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Keep your pooch cool for pennies on those hot days

Keeping your four legged friend cool on those hot days is as much about comfort for him but why not make it fun as well! Take a walk to a local park that has a pond or a stream and have a dip. There is usually a nice shady walk in the woods too, bring a throw toy or ball rather than throwing a stick.  Dont forget they wear their fur coats all day every day so if you are taking them for a walk please do it in the morning or early evening when the temperatures have dropped, there’s nothing I hate more than seeing a poor dog being walked in the middle of the day, panting for all it’s worth in the heat of the sun while the owner strolls along in a t-shirt and shorts with a bottle of drink in their hand.

Smoothie pops and meat pops

You are going to be down with the dogs with these great treats on hot days.

Meat pops are easy, use a plastic party cup and fill it with lots of yummy raw meat like chicken, mince, chunks of meat, use just one flavour or mix them up. Push them all well down, cover with some cling film and pop into the freezer for a few hours. When the doggies are getting hot, pop them out of the cup and Hey presto a nice cold treat for your dog to cool down with and keep him busy too! Kongs are great for this as well.

Smoothie pops are again an easy treat to make, again use  disposable plastic party cups, you want some low fat plain live or bio yoghurt, a couple of tablespoons, any soft fruit that might be going over like banana, strawberries or blueberries, whizz together with the yoghurt or chop the fruit finely and mix, put in cups so half full and top up with water, mix again in the cup. Cover with cling film and freeze for a few hours. Mine loved these last year and it was great using up the softer fruit left in the fridge.Have fun with them, just remember no grapes or raisins and nothing with a pit as these are toxic to dogs.

Kids Paddling pools

These are brilliant, especially the hard plastic ones, we dont want over excited claws or teeth deflating blow up ones! Most dogs like a few inches of water in it where they can just lie down and cool their belly’s in it or dip their feet. If you want them to swim, take them to the lake! If you know anyone who’s kids are a little older, they might have an old pool stored away and will hand it over to make space in the garage!Just ask.

Hot days dont have to be boring, enjoy x

Please leave me a comment or like my post if you enjoyed it, you can visit my website HERE

Spring is upon us – is walking the dog getting boring? Have some doggy Fun!

ImageIt’s a bright and clear sunny day here in Derry, I love walking the dogs on days like these but sometimes I want to do a little more than that. Me and Bracken have had 2 weeks off cani crossing due to an old injury but we’ ve been so enjoying our Cani-xing together, we cant wait to get back into the harness! Today might be the day. Canicross is basically going for a run with your dog (who wears a harness, rather than just a lead and collar) You can go anywhere you would go running but is great if you like going a little ‘off road’. Dog sports are becoming more and more popular, there is Bikejoring, were you are on your bike and your dog runs along with you, there is Scootering which is your dog pulling you along in harness while you are on a scooter, there is Flyball, Agility, Dryland Mushing, I could go on! Dog activities and clubs are popping up everywhere in Ireland faster than you can say Cani x!

Get out there and try something new, you and your dog will never look at exercise in the same way again!

Email me or leave a comment below if you would like to know where there are some clubs here in Ireland. Have Fun!

Feeding a natural diet could save you money and your dog’s life (Part 2)

‘ Dogs and cats suffering with peridontal disease frequently develop signs of heart, lung and joint disease. Once the peridontal disease is treated the joint stiffness and general activity levels of the patient frequently improves.’ Tom Lonsdale from his book Raw Meaty Bones

I know some people’s stomach might be doing flip flops with the thought of feeding raw meat, or they have heard stories about dogs who have choked on bones. Fact 1 bones only splinter when they are cooked, they become hollow and their density changes, raw bones wrapped in meat, e.g. a chicken leg or even a whole chicken is safe to feed.  For those who are  squeemish, I know quite a few vegetarians who feed their dogs a natural diet, me included. Fact 2, as long as you follow good hygiene standards preparing your pets food and after preparation then there shouldn’t be any problems with bacteria etc than when preparing your own food. Carnivores stomach acid is so strong that it turns bone into powder so dont worry about bacteria, their digestive systems can handle it.

Here is some additives in processed pet foods you may not know about; anticaking agents, lubricants,nonnutritive sweetners,colouring agents,flavour enhancers,emulsifiers,stabilisers,flavouring agents,flour treating agents,texturisers, PH control agents …… and the list goes on. These are things any digestive system (human or animal) should not be dealing with on a daily basis without ill effect.

How do these additives and chemicals effect an animals system?

Some animals may seem ok but may have dull coats, stiff gait, lost their sparkle, reduced appetite or drink excessive amounts of water. There can be behavioural or neurological abnormalities, hyper-activity, listlessness or sleeping a lot or even agitation and aggression. Some animals might be prone to gastro-intestinal disorders leading to soft stools or diarrhoea, vomiting or Bloat. These animals will also be prone to skin disease, liver disease, cancer, hyperthyroidism and an over worked Immune System (Vet Tom Lonsdale- Raw Meaty Bones)

What’s in a Natural Diet?

Well, mainly meat and bone, cartilage, fat and skin. Most people feed their pets human grade food because it is reared to meet the highest food standards so there is a limit to chemicals and drugs allowed if an animal is to go into the food chain. If you want to feed organic you can, if you want to feed some veg or fruit, you can so everything you feed your dog you can see and probably know where it comes from nowadays with traceability.

There are so many raw pet food companies out there now that buying, storing and feeding a natural diet is as easy and convenient as any other pet food. Most of it comes frozen, which means it will keep for a longer period until you are ready to use it without the use of preservatives and other chemicals. You can feed large pieces of food frozen, this keeps your dog occupied for longer, they have to chew more (releasing endorphins -the happy hormone,in the process) and keeps smells down to the bare minimum.

Most people I have spoken to who have changed over to a natural diet was because their pet was showing clinical signs of ill health or were generally not in good condition in their body or coat even though otherwise they seemed healthy. I have yet to meet anyone feeding this diet who says they would go back to a commercial pet food and everyone I have spoken to who has converted to this diet has said they now only need to go to the vets for an annual check up, vaccination booster  or neutering as they now have fit, healthy pets.

Even if you are still not convinced, I’m going to ask you to try an experiment. For one month, try feeding your pet dog or cat on a natural raw diet. If you dont like it or you see no difference in your pets coat, demeanor, teeth condition and what comes out the other end then go back to your regular pet food brand, what have you got to loose?

You can find more info on introducing your pet to a natural diet on my Website

I Highly recommend you read Raw Meaty Bones and Work Wonders by vet Tom Lonsdale, available online or at good book shops.

Please leave me a comment if you think this article was helpful. Thank You

Could your dog’s food be costing you more than money? (Part 1)

If you have never heard about the BARF or Raw Diet Revolution, I advise start doing your research. It is one of the quickest growing trends in feeding your dog and cat, here in the UK & Ireland, the USA and Australia and there is a very good reason why so many people are changing over.

What is B.A.R.F?

Barf stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, basically, food that is appropriate for the species you are feeding; grass or veg for herbivores, meat for carnivores and a mixture for omnivores. Just like most zoo’s feed their animals foods which are as close to what they would eat in the wild, then our domestic pets should be fed with the same mindset.

What is wrong with commercial pet foods?

Not only is a lot of commercial dog and cat foods highly processed, cooked, ground, pulped and reconstituted into pellets or kibble. Any goodness that originally was in the basic ingredients have been cooked out so the manufacturers have to add synthetic vitamins and minerals back in. Ok, that’s fair enough if it was just meat and bone and maybe some veg as the basic ingredients, but what if there was not only culled animals, not necessarily slaughtered but could have been sick, euthanised, treated with a plethora of drugs before it died? It isn’t unheard of as most ‘animal derivatives‘ can come from what is called a rendering plant, where carcasses of any and many animals are boiled down together and sold on to manufacturers, not only in the pet food industry.

Food standards for pet foods are very vague and other ingredients can be added from other manufacturing processes. Do you know what it means by Animal By- Products on your pets food labels? No, neither did I but I have researched it a lot and some of the things which can go in is pretty disgusting never mind having no nutritional value to your pet. There are plenty of articles about it in newspapers and online recently to keep you reading for hours! Try this one from the Born Free Organisation

dog food

Look at your pet food label and just see what the top ingredient is, if it is meat, then good on you, you have at least chosen a manufacturer that is trying to make a nutritional pet food. If your top ingedient is wheat, maize, corn or some other type of grain, these are called fillers. Not because they fill your dog up but because they plump or bulk out the food. Grains are not a natural part of your carnivores diet and their digestive systems do not contain the correct enzymes to break down these grains, that is why most of what you are feeding, if you were to weigh what comes out the other end, comes back out again because their bodies cannot digest and assimilate these types of ingredients.

Dog Breath, smelling ‘doggy’ and other hints on your pets health

I have 4 dogs and not one of them smell like a dog the way I used to think of a bad doggy smell. I know that sounds funny but growing up around dogs all my life, our dogs were fed an artificial or commercial diet and they all had dog breath and they all had a certain ‘smell’ about them which I just associated as a ‘dog smell’. Now that I know better it was the smell of what a commercial food was doing to their bodies. I used to age dogs by how much plaque was on their teeth, the more plaque, the older the dog or if they were missing teeth, usually a sign of a dog getting on. Obviously overall health and condition played a part in guessing a dogs age too. All of these things I now know was my experience of aging a commercially fed animal.

I always get people commenting on Solo, my 17 year old whippet/ collie cross, his shiny coat his bright eyes and how spritely he is, they get a shock when I tell them his age and most people comment that he looks half that age. Now just think about that. He isn’t a young looking dog anymore and he’s grey around the chin and just a little stiff around the hind end but otherwise healthy & happy and people think he is 8 or 9! Have we accustomed ourselves to the fact that our dogs and cats should start looking old and grey before their time? 

old before their time?

Good Oral health = Good Over-all Health

Does your dog or cat get regular ‘Dentals’ at the vet or have you been told that your pet might need one soon? Have you been advised to ‘brush’ your dog’s teeth regularly? Like humans, oral health i.e. your teeth and gums, give dentists and doctors an idea of our overall health, this is the same with our pets. Wild dogs, coyotes, wolves, foxes etc dont have someone to clean their teeth every day or a vet to clean them every 6 months, so how do they keep their teeth and mouth healthy? Remember this is their main weapon in order to bring down their prey as well as eating it so keeping this armoury spick and span and healthy is a must for survival in the wild.  The answer is just eating their natural prey naturally cleans their teeth and massages their gums and gives them all their nutrtional needs for health and survival.

The ripping, tearing and gnawing which is part of eating meat on the bone cleans a carnivores teeth as they eat, getting rid of bacteria and other debris which might have built up since the last meal. Dogs who eat dried kibble which are high in sugars for palatability and preservation, 1. barely touch the sides of some dogs mouths as they’re eating, therefore not cleaning the mouth of bacteria and 2. these sugars feed the bacteria in the mouth and help them multiply leading to plaque build up and gum disease. (facts and info taken from,Tom Lonsdale- Raw Meaty Bones ISBN :0646396242)

Don’t fall for the Pet Food Conglomerates (such as Colgate-Palmolive, Mars, Del-Monte and Nestle to name a few) and their media machines, they are in it to make money, first and foremost, your pets health comes way down the list, so start doing a little research into your pet food brand, I will tell you now you are going to be shocked with what you find out. Visit My Website for more info on feeding a natural diet if you live in Ireland.

Find me on Facebook at The Dog Owners Coach click Here

Next week- Part 2, How feeding a natural diet could save you money and your dog’s life

I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on anything in this article that you found helpful or interesting, thank you

Happy St Paddy’s Day to you and your 4 legged friends

It’s the first proper Bank Holiday for us here in Ireland and if you are as lucky as this dog house you’ll get 4 days off instead of 3! Rudi is back home and recovering from his op, he’s still a bit whiney and looking for cuddles (I can be a mammy for 1 more day) Glad he’s home and no worse for wear. Celebrations tomorrow!

Happy St Patricks Day from all of us her at 4dogday x

Bernie, Solo, Luna, Bracken & Rudi

worried mammy- he’s all grown up!

It’s funny, I’ve had dog’s all my life, I’ve worked with dogs since I was 15, including running a rescue shelter for 2 years and I’ve always believed in neutering dogs that you aren’t going to breed from. I believe it’s kinder and healthier for the dog. I know some people think this isn’t the case and I’ve heard some scary stories of spays gone wrong but most male castrations are pretty simple and straight forward. I still cant help but be worried for my boy Rudi.

Going under anaesthesia for any animal has it’s risks, I know he’s a big, healthy boy but I’m a worried mammy. My head says, he’ll be fine and then he wont be annoying the 2 girls so much and things will settle. My heart says ‘me baby!’, LOL

I’m just going to think of it as part of the growing up ritual and try not to think any more about it……

I’ll let you know how he got on at the weekend.

Here’s my Website

Please leave a comment and let me know if you’ve been through this kinda thing