Archive | May 2012

Are We Killing our Dogs with Kindness?

In an ideal world, we’d all be healthy, active and stress-free. Maybe that’s not such a big dream, it’s everyone’s goal to find that balance. But what about our pets?

Obesity in our pets is at its highest Ever

Out of our 8.3 million dogs here in the UK 35% of them are now Obese and cats are even worse at 37% of 11.9 Million population. That’s 2.9 Million dogs! Click HERE to see the article

Dog’s bad behaviour and aggression is constantly in the media too, it seems like the doggy world has suddenly gone crazy.

Are we to blame for this? Are we killing our dogs with kindness or with ignorance?

Dog shelters, pounds and animal charities are bursting at the seams. In Ireland in 2010 over 5000 dogs were put to sleep in dog pounds with 2011 looking to top this number (Anvil Ireland stats) Dog’s Trust reckons that local authorities handle 11 stray or unwanted dogs every hour around the UK! Most animal welfare charities are doing well to rehome that many in a week!

Most of these dogs are picked up or brought to shelters due to time restrictions, cost to keep or Behaviour issues.

Canine Health

There are now more cases of canine Cancers, Heart failure, Kidney failure and Arthritis to name the major health issues but food sensitivities and allergies are on the rise too, more than ever before  in the long history of man’s best friend. Just in case that didn’t sink in, just read that statement again.

I’m worried, very worried for our loyal Canine Companion in the 21st Century

As a Dog Listener and Dog Owners Coach I see and speak to many people who have issues of some kind with their dog. Not all are behavioural, But what a dog eats will affect its behaviour, just like us. If food causes ill-health, then that affects behaviour too.

The rubbish that is being pumped into our pets which are full off additives, preservatives, processed sugars and highly processed fats are enough to send any species crazy.

Dont even get me started on an Industry who are making Millions, in fact Billions of Pounds and Dollars at the cost of our pets health!

They spend this money by bombarding every pet owner with their fancy and expensive media advertising, they train our vets and they seem to create problems just so they can sell us their solution.

Take Denta sticks, rasks, all those type of products ‘feed one to your dog every day to prevent gum disease vets recommend them’. I remember a time before these products, where our family dog got a big juicy bone from the butchers once or twice a week and he never had to have a dental!

Why are dog’s teeth in such need now of cleaning? Because of the highly processed dry kibble and tinned food (I’m not even going to call it meat) which your dog barely has to chew never mind the sugars and processed sticky fats that coat your dog’s teeth. They have no way of cleaning them by themselves unless you clean them, you feed them one of these ‘teeth cleaning treats’ OR you give them a nice big meaty bone

Why a Meaty Bone?

Because the chewing, gnawing, ripping and tearing of said meaty bone acts LIKE a toothbrush, massaging teeth and gums and flossing in between teeth as they eat. 2 in 1 wow how about that!

2nd Plus for feeding Meaty Bones!

Pro number 2 to feeding meaty bones is that the work your dog has to put into eating his meal is exactly that – A Work Out!

Many people who have recently changed over to feeding a natural meaty bone diet comment on how much more chilled, content and relaxed their dogs have become. I’ve probably mentioned this before but through all this chewing, brain chemicals called Endorphins are released, these are known as ‘Happy Hormones’.

It happens to us too, that’s why us humans comfort eat or all those football bosses chew gum at a hundred miles an hour on the sidelines endorphins!!

Endorphins = Stress relief & more Contentedness


Would you rather chose to feed a food low in meat, high in carbs which is highly processed and can make your dog unbalanced or worse, ill?


Would you rather choose a food that your dog was designed naturally to eat, has to use its whole body to eat and benefits him mentally as well as physically?

More and more people are breaking away from the Pet Food Industry’s Hypnotic grip and going back to Nature Knows Best.

If you have heard rumours about a natural diet see my post on 5 Myths about feeding your dog a Raw Diet – Busted!

There are loads of people out there making the change and they are on forums and social groups everywhere. Dog owners in Ireland and the UK can find out more HERE.

If you want to learn more about keeping your dog healthy and happy sign up to get new posts on the right or leave a comment below, I look forward to hearing from you.

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach

Top 5 Myths about feeding your dog a Raw Diet – BUSTED!

A lot of people I know would love to try their dog on a raw diet but their belief in rumours and old wives tales are stopping them from actually seeing for themselves how this healthier way of feeding their pet could save them money in the long run and be better for their pets.

Myth 1: Bacteria in raw food will harm my dog

Handling your dog’s raw food should be dealt with the same way you handle your own raw food.Use common sense and a good hygiene plan for raw food in your kitchen. Wash hands, clean surfaces with a good antibacterial cleaner and keep chopping boards for meat separate from those you use for veg and other things.

As for bacteria that your dog eats, firstly their saliva has an enzyme which has antibacterial qualities called lysozyme. Secondly your dog’s stomach acid sits at a pH of 2, this is a very acidic environment where a lot of bacteria cannot survive, it is so strong that your dog’s stomach juices can break down bone! Thirdly, the dog’s digestive tract is a lot shorter than a lot of animals, including ourselves, leaving bacteria very little time to colonise in this acidic environment. There is just as much chance of picking up Salmonella from dry dog food as there is from raw so do wash your hands after handling all types of pet food.

Can I just add here that if you think of some of the things that our dogs eat out on a walk on a daily basis like other animals droppings, dead or rotting things and it can lick itself with no ill effects, then you will find we worry for no reason.

Myth 2: Feeding bones to my dog is dangerous and they can splinter

This myth is especially prevalent when I talk to people about feeding my dogs raw chicken, this is the question I get ‘ Isn’t chicken bones dangerous?’, I always answer by saying I think you’ll find that’s cooked bones. I don’t feed cooked chicken bones, I feed whole raw pieces of chicken, bones wrapped in meat. Cooking bones changes its structure making it more likely to shard or splinter. Even those cooked bones in the pet shops will splinter with a strong pair of jaws around them!

The idea of feeding Raw Meaty Bones is that the dog gets to use all the tools he was given naturally which sit in his mouth, to rip, tear and chew his way through a meal with precision and professionalism. I am always in awe when I watch my dogs eat their way through their raw dinner as to how easy and natural they make it look! As mentioned in myth no 1, the dog’s stomach acid is very capable of breaking down bone and all the meat making their digestive tract a very efficient system.

Because of this efficient digestive system a raw diet is 90-97% digestible compared to 40-70% digestibility of dry kibble diets (due to fillers or fibre). A dog on a raw diet will excrete a firm, odourless stool two thirds smaller than that of a kibble fed dog. I think that says not only does the dog get to use all of his food but what comes out the other end is a bonus to the owner cleaning up behind him!

Myth 3: Dog’s get the ‘taste for blood’ when they are fed a raw diet

I’m sorry but this makes me laugh, as I must have 4 blood thirsty hounds living with me! This has to be the biggest old wives tale of them all! Lets not forget the canine is a predator first and foremost as is our other 4 legged companion the feline. The dog is hard-wired to chase and we have used this to our advantage over the past centuries, breeding and honing them to herd, retrieve and race.

Have we forgotten this in the 21st century, that our pets roots are based in the wild? But we have also domesticated this predator and bred more likeable features, like herding dogs not to eat their charges but protect them or for our working gun dogs not to run riot when they see game and kill everything in sight! Indeed I know a number of gun dogs who are fed on a raw diet who are quite happy to bring shot game back all day, un-chewed and eat his raw meal when he gets home.

It is easier to blame a dog’s diet for its behaviour rather than the relationship between it’s owner and the likelihood that the dog was never shown or trained to be around livestock or other small pets, hence the dog then relies on its instincts. I am just adding here that I keep chickens in my garden for fresh eggs and my dogs are fed on chicken, this does not mean they understand the link between what they eat and the birds they chase up and down the fence line on a daily basis. Here’s a great LINK to what I mean.

Myth 4:Dogs fed on raw are at a higher risk of worms and parasites

This is true if you feed your dog wild game or wild fish. Most people don’t, they feed human grade food bought from supermarkets, butchers and other suppliers where they buy their own food. If you feed human grade food, parasite levels are negligible. If you are worried about parasites then deep freezing usually kills these off. For 24hrs for fish or for up to a month with wild game like rabbit.

Usually it is down to the animals’ own immune system and it’s health as to whether it will be affected by worms or parasites. Parasites hate a healthy host. You can also worm your dog using a homeopathic wormer so as not to upset the chemical balance a raw diet brings to your pets health. I use a very gentle homeopathic wormer and rarely have to use any products for external parasites such as fleas or ticks on my own dogs.

Myth 5: A raw diet is more expensive and inconvenient than commercial dog food

What is convenience worth? If you ate fast food all your life what would be the cost to your health?

Nowadays there are so many raw food suppliers that it makes it a lot easier to source your raw food, which at first can be what makes feeding raw cost a little bit more. Talk to other raw feeders to find good sources, I find the fridge section at the supermarket where they sell short date items cheaper a great source for bargains of fish and meat. Ask your butcher about off-cuts and sourcing what you are looking for, most butchers are happy to help. Of course if you can find a supplier dealing exclusively with raw pet food then cost and convenience should be within everyone’s budget.

As a supplier myself I can offer owners a great variety of high quality raw food within most people’s budgets, for instance;

  • Toy breed <5kg Costs £3.50 per week or 50pence a day
  • Terrier size <10kg Costs £5 per week or 71 pence a day
  • Spaniel size < 15kg Costs £7 per week or £1 a day
  • Lab size <20kg Costs £7.50 per week or £1.07 a day
  • Large breed <30kg £8.50 per week or £1.20 a day
  • X large breed <40kg £12.50 per week or £1.79 a day

How much does your commercial dog food cost you?

Dont forget, on a raw diet your dog will have a stronger immune system, a healthier body and more vitality so your vet bills will also become less over time, saving you more money. Click HERE to see my website for supplying raw pet food in Ireland.

Other Resources

There are lots of information out there for anyone interested in feeding a natural raw diet, here a few sites I like

Intro to raw feeding-You Tube

I look forward to your comments or questions about this post and I hope you will think about giving raw feeding a try

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach

Paw Perfect win for Ashleigh & Pudsey – true best friends

Wow! If you haven’t been following the journey of Asleigh and Pudsey on ITV’s Britain’s got talent, where have you been?!

This talented duo of teenager and scruffy dog have captured the hearts of everyone who has seen them in action. They are what most dog owners would dream of being able to do with their 4 legged friend, never mind win 500k for doing something you love doing together!

If you haven’t seen them click: Ashleigh and Pudsey in action  to see their winning performance.

It just goes to show that following your dreams and doing something you love can Change Your Life

Well done and Congratulations to Ashleigh & Pudsey’s dedication and wonderful bond. What we all aim for in our life with our dogs – making each other happy and having fun!

I hope these 2 stars will encourage more people to enjoy and bond with their dog more and they prove you can have fun at any level.  Why not check out a dog club or organisation near you where you can have a go at agility, flyball, canicross or dancing to music like these two! Only you set your limits!

I’d love to hear what you all get up to with your 4 legged friend, leave a comment below and share 🙂

Happy dancing!

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach

Home Wreckers- how to change destructive behavior with some dog savvy tips

Is your dog’s chewing or destructive behaviour not only wrecking your home, but stressing you out or putting more stress on your relationship at home?

Have they chewed your furniture, your best shoes, destroyed parts of your home or garden and there seems to be no sign of stopping?

This is a really Big problem in a lot of dog-owning homes and I’m going to help you to not only understand why but help you stop the demolition!

firstly lets Bust a few Myths on destructive behaviour;

Myth One- Your dog is destroying things ‘on purpose’ because you have left him alone.

There is some truth to this but probably not for the reasons you think. Dogs don’t do things out of spite or for revenge, nor do they think, ‘I’ll show you what happens when you leave me here on my own’.  Dog’s do not feel emotions like this, what is happening is that when your dog feels stressed, uncomfortable or anxious, it’s stress hormones in his body are heightened. What most dogs learn from an early age is that chewing releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ effect of these then help them cope with the situation.

Myth Two- Your dog looks ‘guilty’ when you come home so you know he’s been doing something bad

If  ‘guilty’ means lowering their body or crawling, ears flattened, tail down or between their legs and eyes softened or almost squinting, this is very submissive behaviour from your dog.

If you come home every day to something that has been chewed or destroyed you will probably be in a pattern by now. On the way home you will be thinking about what has already been destroyed, this is going to annoy you, then you will be thinking ‘what am I going to find today when I walk in’ and this is going to stress you out further. Before you even walk in the door you probably have a big negative black cloud above your head. If you don’t live on your own it’s probably not just the dog who makes themselves scarce when you come home. Your dog has connected the dots and come up with You coming home = You in a bad mood

Even when we don’t find something chewed or the tell-tale puddle, we stomp around the house looking for evidence and growling at the dog ‘what did you do?’. Your dog is heading for the closest hiding place at speed because he knows you are in no mood for any kind of communication right now, better wait until the dust settles. Sound familiar?

OK, maybe your dog isn’t quite that bad, look out for these 7 signs below

7 signs that your dog is suffering from separation Anxiety

  • Howling
  • Barking
  • Pacing
  • excessive Panting
  • Urinating or toileting inside
  • excessive or obsessive chewing or licking themselves
  • chewing or destruction of property

What is behind SA?

To put it in a nutshell, your dog, in his head, is trying to be the head of the household and is not coping with the stress of the job. Let me put this another way. A dog is a social creature, we all know this but what we dont always know or remember is that a dog needs a leader,a head of the family lets say. Someone to keep order, keep everyone safe and make the big decisions for the family. This of course is the humans role as we best understand our world of hoovers, UPS delivery guys, school runs, business hours, window washers, lawnmowers, sleep overs, holidays and so on that our dog will never, ever understand.

So how does your dog end up having this job? Usually because he has seen us lose it, sometimes quite literally. He has spotted a chink in your armour of being leader, there are many things here which can be seen as chinks but the main one is your inconsistent behaviour around the dog. Being human we are naturally quite lazy and we like short cuts and doing things the ‘easy’ way rather than the ‘best’ way. This isn’t how our dogs think though and if you aren’t leadership material, a new one must be elected! Here is where he gets the job whether he wants it or not. Why? Because a family must have a leader. It’s that basic. It is about survival of the family in what ever shape it comes.

7 Tips to being Head of the Household

  1. Leaders are cool, calm and confident, even in a crisis. If you’ve had a bad day and need a scream or a cry or are just not in the mood for dealing with your dog at this moment. Quietly put him outside or in another room, have a cup of tea and wait til you have calmed down before you say hello or deal with your dog.
  2. Be consistent with your pooch at all times. Check out my post on Consistency is the key to success
  3. Give your dog attention on your terms not his, when you are ready.
  4. Build up to longer separations by practising shorter ones while you are at home. Start closing doors behind you and stop letting your dog follow you everywhere. Ad breaks are great practise times. Limiting access to some areas of the house can help too, have some ‘No Dog’ rooms just for the humans.
  5. Give him some specific Boredom Busting toys. This will focus his chewing and give him something to occupy his mind. Kongs and Nylabones are good starter toys which are hard to destroy fast.
  6. If you have a real demolition expert, crate training is a great way to minimise damage. It also gives your dog his own space where he can take himself off to when he wants a nap. Again you must build up spending time in a crate and connect it with good things, like food. Apart from sleeping overnight in a crate I don’t recommend you keep your dog crated for more than 4 hours at any one time.
  7. If you are having big separation Anxiety issues, seek professional advice and help from a Dog Behaviorist or Dog Listener. Dog Trainers usually deal with obedience issues, SA is a much deeper issue and needs to be dealt with at the root cause which is usually something going on at home. You can contact me via My Website for more info or coaching about this issue.

I hope this helps you on your way to having a happier and more care-free dog. Please feel free to comment below or Sign Up to follow my helpful hints and tips by email- on the right hand side.

Thank You

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach

Using your Body Language to communicate isn’t just for Dog Owners – Monty Roberts has been doing it for decades!

Understanding how to use your body language to communicate to another species isn’t a new concept. People like Monty Roberts , also known as the horse whisperer has been doing it all his life! Now in his eighties, Monty grew up around horses and made it his life’s work to understand the horse and how to treat it differently and more kindly than he had seen his father and many others do in the past. Monty, after many decades of studying his own horses,  went out in the wilds of  the great plains in America to wild mustang and watched some more. This man has changed the way people deal with and understand their equine charges.

He created the method called ‘Join Up’

Monty teaches his pupils the language of Equus- the language of the horse. He says ‘The language of Equus is predictable, discernible and effective’ and he teaches all his pupils how to use their body language to communicate with their horse so that they can ‘have a conversation of understanding’ together. I have to say Monty is a very impressive man to watch working with horses and he is a quiet and very charismatic man, you can see how the animals can pick this up and feel confident around him.

Here is a link which shows some of his method and his online university where you can learn and study.

We use our body language to communicate with all our domesticated animals, our dogs, our cats, birds etc, we just don’t think about it because we speak in our heads too. Humans have a very bad habit – we anthropomorphize other living things (meaning we give them human attributes, personalities or voices)This is unfair to the other species as they do not think or communicate like us. Now in the 21st century I am glad to say we are studying animals in a new and scientific way and beginning to understand them and communicate with them in a way they can understand. I think this is the greatest thing we can do for the animals we love.

I met Monty Roberts at one of his Join Up Clinics in 2008

If you would like to learn more about Canine Communication go to my website where you can learn this wonderful method

Thank you for reading and I would love to hear your comments on this subject

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach

Beware of hypoallergenic diets and Metacam for dogs

This is a very informative and a little scary article to read from a holistic vet on how conventional vets can make  something related to habitual behaviour and/ or past injuries turn into feeding a mono-diet which will eventually harm your dog.


Because it doesn’t get to the root of the issue.

Do your research and find a vet who cares about your pet rather than his bottom line.

What do you think about these Vet prescribed diets? make a comment below

Thank You

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach