Archive | July 2012

BSL- Could Lennox’s story be the final straw for change?

In case you have been in hiding or just not connected to the internet over the past week, the story of Lennox, a family’s pet dog taken and impounded by Belfast City Council for the last 2 years came to a tragic end today when he was put to sleep by order of the county court after drawn out court cases and appeals by his family.

The reason – he looked like a ‘Pit-Bull’

Lennox’s story went viral on social media after his family released a statement that they could go no further with their appeal, they had reached the end without seeing their boy for nearly 2 years and they had no hope left.

Facebook and Twitter exploded and even Victoria Stillwell (It’s me or the Dog) tried to step in and help to no avail. Hear what she has to say here

BSL if you haven’t heard of this before is Breed Specific Legislation, in the UK and N.Ireland it’s the Dangerous Dog Act 1991, but there are BSL’s either in force already in some countries or trying to be brought into force in nearly any western country you can name. The one thing we do know about Breed Specific Legislation is that it doesn’t work.

Cesar Milan made this statement on his website today While I cannot comment or speak to this dog specifically, since I have not met him, I want to say that in general, my belief is that it is not the breed that causes behavior issues. I do not support breed bans or breed specific legislation in any way and with any case of aggression or behavioral problems, I advocate for rehabilitation as the first recourse.

BSL has almost made owning a so called ‘Dangerous Dog‘ a statement for the nutters, the criminals and the wanna-be’s  ‘Hey look how hard I am’. The truth is that breeds like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a fantastic, robust and loving breed has been brought almost to the brink. There are more Staffies and Staff  crosses, as a breed, in most rescue centres, shelters and pounds than any other breed in the UK and Ireland. And sadly,most of them have to be put to sleep because there are just too many of them and not enough homes.

So the question is Will the sad story of Lennox finally unite the experts and nations of dog lovers needed to make this shift in getting breed specific legislation changed? I hope so, in the name of Lennox

If you were fighting and writing to help Save Lennox, then maybe you can do something for the poor ones still waiting in dog pounds, shelters and rescues. Maybe help out by walking, helping in the office or posting photos for the rescue on social media sites. Offer to do some fundraising, give old bedding, towels and dog stuff to the ones who need it or if you have the time and love, offer a temporary foster home for a homeless soul who needs one instead of sitting in a concrete cell, alone. It’s time we all put our money where our mouth is and actually help make a difference.

Sign a petition to change BSL-  Lennox’ Law

Help a breed rescue – The Kennel Club Breed Rescue

I know Dog Lovers as a Breed CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Bernie x

The Dog Owners Coach

Power Play – the key secret to any training lesson

Ever wondered how a trainer gets the best from their dog? How they can get their dog, be it a police dog, a search and rescue dog or a movie dog to do something you think ‘How did they do that?’

I’ll let you into a little secret that the best trainers and dog owners in the world know. You probably do too but you’ve never used it to your advantage before

Dogs Love to Play!

That’s the secret! Canines live to play. They do it together, on their own, they use it to create bonds, learn about one another and learn about themselves and their limitations or skills. What could be simpler!

As soon as they can hold their own bodyweight and they can see one another, they’re off. They will nip, bite, chase each other, steal from each other and learn from each other. What better way to learn than when you’re having fun!

Who’s biggest, who’s strongest, who’s smartest?

They learn team-work gets them farther than tug of war.

There’s nothing better than having fun with a friend!

Now you know.

I always say to my clients  ‘always end on a game’ I don’t say this for the good of my health. There is a reasoning behind this and that is  if you finish on a fun game, your dog is going to want to do it again and again and again. Why? Because he’s having fun!

Most importantly, playing is about bonding. If you don’t play regularly with your dog, there’s a chance you aren’t so high ranking in your pack as you might like to think. If you do play with your dog regularly- who instigated play? If it is your dog who brings you a ball or a toy and you then start to play a game of fetch, your four legged friend is teaching you that he is the one who is making the decisions and on his terms – with play!

There is no such thing as a ‘dumb’ animal and even your puppy can teach you a trick or two when it comes to play-time. Your dog is a body language expert and when it comes to play, this is where you can try and keep him guessing. To be the best leader/ owner you can be you need to have fun and games with your dog. Everything you teach him about manners, boundaries and rules can all be concreted in a game of fetch!

Don’t expect your dog to know how to play. I have met rescue dogs who didn’t know how to chase a ball never mind bring it back! Show them. When I worked with rescue dogs like these, it was me who did most of the running to begin with! Then they want to start running with you and catching the ball or toy, now they’re getting it! Then you start putting the rules into place – when you bring the ball/ toy back, you let it go for a reward. Loads of praise, energy and fun is the key to any successful game. I might just add here that I do not play tug of war games with my dogs, they play tug together, as this is a strength game and I wouldn’t put my strength into question as a leader. That’s something the dogs can play and learn between themselves.

Finally, play is about being social. We are both social species, humans and canines and that is how it should be. If  a dog steps over the line in regards to becoming possessive, aggressive, dominant or rough, play ends. You are making the rules and games and play happen on your terms if you are involved, or even if you aren’t.

So, use play to strengthen bonds, re-inforce learning and have fun!

I hope you enjoyed my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below I’d love to hear about you and your dog(s).

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach

Pet Smart tips for improving your pet’s life- Part 2 Vaccinations

I recently talked, in-depth, to Catherine O’Driscoll, founder of Canine Health Concern and author of many books on the subject of vaccinations and our pets. (Listen To The Interview Here)  It was a very revealing conversation about how far a loving pet owner will go to help other ‘Pet Parents’ not go through the heart-ache and sadness she went through with her own beloved dogs 19 years ago.

Catherine lost her very special dog Oliver, suddenly and with no reason, so it seemed at the time, and her vet could giver her no answers as to the reason why he had died. Her other 3 dog’s were also sick with different illnesses to varying degrees and so Catherine set out on her own personal journey to get answers.

She got a very startling answer soon after her journey began from a homeopathic vet who revealed to her that 80% of most illnesses happen within 3 months of a vaccine event. This is a very shocking statistic to hear and what makes it worse is that not all vets are aware of this fact. She then started reading scientific papers and doing as much research as she could to get the facts about vaccines and created  Canine Health Concern to start raising awareness among pet owners and vets alike.

Some illnesses which seem to be linked with vaccine events – Arthritis, Auto-immune diseases, Diabetes, Pancreatitis, kidney and liver disease, neurological diseases like Epilepsy are also linked as well as sudden behavioural changes in a dog’s personality. And of course Cancer.

Personally I haven’t re-vaccinated my own 3 adult dogs for the past 3 years as I had heard and read about ‘side effects’ of over vaccinating since I started following on from changing my dogs onto a raw natural diet. However I did give Rudi (my Springer pup) his puppy shots last year as I wanted him to have some immunity and didn’t know what alternatives were out there or understand how they worked. Catherine explained how Homeopathic Nosodes work as an alternative to vaccinations.  It is a specific virus in a minute quantity, so should build immunity without all the chemical carriers vaccines contain like Mercury and Aluminium.

If you want to know if your dog or cat needs to be vaccinated or has sufficient immunity to a virus you can ask your vet for a Titre Test. This is just a blood test that checks your pets immune system to specific diseases or viruses. This used to be expensive and it had to go away to a lab for results but there is now a quick and easy kit which is now available to all vets called Vaccicheck. This means that Titre testing can be done ‘in house’ by your own vet. If your vet has never heard about this kit before give them this web address

The World Small Animal Veterinary Organisation  recommends to vaccinate the core vaccines no more frequently than every 3 years, but they also add that immunity to these core viral diseases is probably lifelong from puppy shots.  That does not mean they need to be done every 3 years, so this is where you can ask your vet to do  a vaccicheck test and see if it is even needed, as a lot of vaccines will give immunity for life, like our own childhood vaccines.

Catherine is now campaigning for more vaccination awareness and a more natural way of raising our pets with Pet Parents Action Group where she is joining forces with other similar campaigners around the world to give all pet owners a voice against the big manufacturers of not only vaccines but commercial pet foods too. It is a great platform for free research, support and to find like-minded people who want the best for their animals.

Listen Here to the Interview

I want to thank Catherine for her time to give me an interview and also thank her for the wonderful work she is doing in regards to animal welfare in the UK and beyond. I hope you all get to listen to this incredible and eye-opening conversation and get as much out of it as I did.

I would love to hear what you think about the issues discussed and you can find more info at Catherine’s website Canine Health Concern

best wishes

Bernie Browne

The Dog Owners Coach