Do you ever think ‘I’m too tired to train the dog today’, then feel guilty. You’ve had a long, hard day at work or you feel drained after being stuck in traffic or your train’s been delayed and you just want to get home and flop on the sofa and do nothing else? That’s usually when most people will come up with a reason to put off the ‘T’ word.
I know the feeling too, you might think I must spend all my days with my dogs, I wish! But running a business is a full time job and playing with my dogs all day isn’t going to pay the bills.
So there are definitely days when my brain feels like a big ball of cotton wool and I can barely string a full sentence together and I know that I should do something with my pups.
So here’s what I do…. and here’s why
Doing something is better than doing nothing
That may sound a bit blah but if there is one thing that makes you a true leader in your dog’s eyes, it’s consistency.
It’s one quality that all good leaders have, they do what they say they are going to do. If they didn’t you would probably stop believing them after a while, wouldn’t you?
If I really want to veg out when I get home I make myself a deal. 5 minutes spent with each of my dogs, one to one, doing something fun, but I initiate it. So whether it’s a game of Find it, a clicker training game or just practising something we’ve been working on recently, that’s my trade – off for putting my feet up, guilt-free with a glass of wine just a little later after I get home. And I usually find that I’ve enjoyed it because I get to focus on my great dogs and not work!
Making a plan and sticking to it, even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day will get both you and your dog into a good habit. That’s what consistency brings to the table, good habits. So no more excuses. If you have time to wait for the kettle to boil or the bath to fill then you have time to do this one little thing.
So next time you are on your way home and you’ve had a rough day, chuck the word Training out the window, think of that furry face that’s waiting for you at home and smile.
That waggy tail is your therapy, helping you forget the worries of the day and your payment to your furry therapist is some one to one fun every day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes!
Lets change how we look at training and start thinking more like spending quality time together.
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So here’s the question; Is neutering really as kind to our dogs as we think?
This important study is worth a read for people thinking about neutering before 1 year old, especially with a pedigree breed.
Let us know what you think……
Who doesn’t love Christmas?! A time of fun, laughter and over-indulgence. We get to share more quality time with the ones we love as well as enjoy some relief from the daily grind!
It’s no wonder we all love Christmas!
But please remember, if you are a pet owner, keep in mind that this holiday season also represents new, different and enticing dangers to your beloved family pet; both inside and outside your home. Keep reading to learn how to keep your pet not only safe, but healthy during this festive season.
- At the top of the list is Chocolate and Mince Pies. Human chocolate and raisins are highly toxic to your dog; they can cause liver damage – and even failure – if ingested in large amounts. So make sure your child or guest hasn’t left that tempting box of chocolates lying around. Keep those tasty treats well out of nose and mouth reach of your pooch! Remember: dogs investigate and learn by smell and then by tasting or eating. Protect your beloved animal from the temptation of new and interesting holiday smells! Invited friends over to celebrate? Pop your dog into a quiet room with a nice tasty (and healthy) treat of his own and let him enjoy the peace and quiet in this busy season. (Onions, rising bread dough, fruit cake, macadamia nuts and nutmeg are other traditional Christmas foods that can hurt your beloved four-legged family member.)
- Alcohol. Yes, this might seem like an obvious danger; but did you know that 1 in 4 vets treat drunk dogs over the festive season?! So ask your visitors to keep their drinks on tables or counters and not on the floor by their feet. Put all empty drinks containers in a solid bin, rather than just a bin bag that’s no match for an inquisitive dog. Remember, your dog’s liver and kidneys can be affected by any amount of alcohol.
- Anti-freeze and road grit. These items are highly toxic to our pets. When you return from a walk where roads or pathways have been treated for snow and ice, make sure to thoroughly wash off your dog’s paws, legs and bellies rather than let him lick them clean himself. The chemical agents in these treatments are meant to keep roads and the water in your car’s cooling system from freezing, but these chemicals will kill your pet within hours if ingested. Keep all anti-freeze (typically blue, but may come in other colors too) out of reach of children and animals in your garage and clean up any and all leaks of anti-freeze on the garage floor.
- Christmas Plants: Holly (leaves and berries) Mistletoe and Poinsettia. While beautiful for the holiday, if even pieces of these plants are ingested by your pet, they can cause vomiting, stomach upset and blisters in the mouth … in mild cases. In extreme cases, eating these berries or plants can be fatal to your pet. So always keep these plants up high and away from your pet and make sure to remove any loose berries that may dry out and break off. If you have cats in your home, be mindful of their climbing abilities and purposely keep these plants out of their climbing range. Regular or liquid potpourri can also pose health risks to your pet.
- Your Christmas Tree. If you’re putting up a real tree in your home, make sure your dog doesn’t try to pee on it, especially with electrical wires and lights around! Pine needles can also pose a danger to inquisitive noses and mouths and end up in soft paw pads; so make sure to keep vacuuming these up on a daily basis or you may find yourself making an unscheduled trip to your vet. Never let your dog drink any treated Christmas tree water!
- Decorations: Glass Baubles, Garland and Blinking lights. Shiny, colourful and eye-catching; these enticing items can be easily mistaken for toys by your dog and could be dangerous if swallowed. So spend some time letting your dog know that the tree – and everything on or under it – is out-of-bounds by saying “No” and then using a distraction technique to get Fido to find something else more interesting – like you or a real toy! Use a timeout if your dog continues to go back again and again to the tree. (Remember, when using the timeout technique, do not speak or look at your dog; so your dog does not receive any reward for his unacceptable behaviour.)
- Food. Leftovers are always a sign of a plentiful Christmas; but immediately double-bag and bin ANY cooked bones as these are highly dangerous. Cooked bones become brittle and porous and can quickly disintegrate into razor-sharp edges getting stuck in your dog’s mouth, throat or intestines, even perforating their insides! If you wish to give your dog a nice juicy bone, please feed it raw with some nice meat still on it which will keep him busy for hours. ALL bones for chewing MUST be bigger than your dog’s mouth; or better yet, at least the size of your dog’s head, to avoid the chance of choking on smaller bones. Don’t overload your dog’s bowl with lots of rich, salty food. Dog’s stomachs cannot properly digest too much fatty, rich or salty food. Instead, freeze some Xmas treats in small amounts and let your dog enjoy some holiday tastes well into the New Year!
- Toys. Make sure all small toys, or pieces of toys, that can be easily chewed or swallowed are kept away from small children as well as your pets to protect them from choking. Keep an eye on those tiny surprises that come out of the Christmas cracker boxes, etc. If you are getting your pet a present this holiday season, please make sure it is made of hard rubber – rather than plastic, which can be quickly chewed and swallowed. For example, Kongs make a great indestructible pressie! Stuff with some leftovers and then freeze to keep your dog busy for a few hours while you’re relaxing and watching your Xmas movies! (Reminder: no toy is truly indestructible, especially with larger dogs and enthusiastic chewers. Always keep an eye on your dog with any toy.)
- Ribbons, String and Tinsel. While wrapping your presents or trimming the tree, make sure your pet isn’t trying to eat your wrappings or tinsel like spaghetti! Long pieces of these materials are indigestible and can cause intestinal distress and vomiting or even worse, get stuck in your dog’s digestive tract and have to be surgically removed by your vet.
- Candles. We all love the soft glow of candles at this time of year. But again, be aware of your pet’s never-ending curiosity; they don’t necessarily know that a naked flame can cause them harm. Make sure candles are in firm holders or behind glass and are high enough that your dog or cat can’t knock it over.
After all that being said,
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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We all love our dogs to bits; but aren’t there just some habits – like jumping up – that can get a bit annoying after a while? (Imagine how your guests feel!) Then there are the attention-seeking habits you don’t even realize are happening.
Does your dog have your attention ‘on tap’ every waking hour of every day? Who exactly is living on whose terms?
Why do we accept some attention-seeking behaviours as just part of our dog’s personality? And when do those attention-seeking habits turn into truly “bad habits,” usually causing a dog owner to seek out professional help? Why do dog owners wait until they are at “the end of their rope” to start talking about changing or stopping these unacceptable habits?
Let’s take a closer look at some of our dog’s attention-seeking patterns that can often turn into habitual and challenging behaviours.
What is a habit? Here’s how “habit” is defined in the Dictionary.com:
1 [hab-it] Show IPA noun
- An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.
- Customary practice or use: daily bathing is an American habit.
- A particular practice, custom, or usage: the habit of shaking hands.
- A dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality: she has a habit of looking at the bright side of things.
- Addiction, especially to narcotics (often preceded by “the”).
A lot of our own habits, as well as those of our dogs, fall under one of the five definitions above. When we focus on teaching our dog ‘good habits,’ we are aiming for the first definition. For example: when teaching a dog to “sit,” we repeat this behaviour repeatedly, usually with food rewards, until the dog starts doing it without thinking about it anymore. This pattern of behaviour has now become involuntary. This is what true “training” is all about. But what if demanding your attention on a 24/7 basis has become your dog’s new pattern of behaviour or habit?
Well, your dog is now addicted to your attention and will do ANYTHING to get it! (See definition #5 above!)
The Top 10 Dog Attention-Seeking (or addictive) Habits (some obvious ones are first):
- Jumping up on you (or others)
- Barking or whining at you
- Pawing or nosing you
- Bringing something to play with to you and demanding you join in
- Rolling over to get their belly rubbed (oh yes, it works every time!)
Below are some of the more subtle habits which – at first glance – might not seem to be about you at all or even attention-seeking. But each of these habits were developed or encouraged while giving your dog attention (either positively or negatively):
- Sitting on your feet, leaning against your leg or placing their head in your lap
- Playing or chewing something they are not allowed to have, turning it into a game
- Chewing or licking themselves (sometimes loudly)
- Chasing their tail or chasing light or shadows
- Barking at something when there seems to be nothing there
Now, these latter behaviours may start out as attention-seeking behaviours; but did you know that most of them can turn into almost neurotic behaviours if:
- Your dog is encouraged to continue the behaviour; or
- Your dog is under a lot of stress and uses one of these habits to cope with that stress?
I could go on and on with this list as dogs are highly intelligent creatures and know us inside out (sometime better than we know ourselves!). Where and whenever they received your attention, they will probably use that exact same behaviour again if something else doesn’t work to get your attention!
Well I may have already given this one away when I said “Instantly” in the title; because the easy answer is to just Ignore It!
The hardest part in stopping these habits is to be aware of them in the first place! Once you are more aware of your dog’s behaviour, ask yourself, ‘Is my dog trying to get my attention on their terms or mine?’
If the answer is “on their terms,” then look away instantly; moving your whole head, not just your eyes. Remember, they are trying to get your attention! So moving your eyes is good, but if your dog is a pro at this (and most are), they will simply move back into your line of sight. By moving your head away (along with your eye focus) you are delivering a stronger message to your dog that you do not want to interact at the moment. Try it! You will still be able to see your dog in your peripheral vision. Just do not look at him or her directly … doing so means “attention” to your dog.
Some of your dog’s behaviours are also about personal space. We all have personal space, humans and canines. Our dogs need to understand when we want our personal space back. You can use the technique of looking away (as you learned above) for more annoying attention-seeking habits as well … like jumping up on you. If your dog begins jumping up on you, either move away from the dog (if you are standing up) or gently (but quickly) push your dog out of your space and let go. Do not speak to them. If you’re still holding onto your dog’s collar at this point or if your hand is still lingering on their body, your addicted dog may very well misinterpret your real intent and enthusiastically try to make this into a fun new game! Keep your actions calm, assertive, yet gentle, so your dog doesn’t see your actions as exciting and engaging like when you DO want to interact with your dog.
Quiet confidence will effectively get your message across. If you do forget and speak to your dog, just watch how quickly your dog gets excited (or even overexcited)! (Translation: Woo Hoo, I just got their attention!)
You are now teaching your dog that attention on your terms is about Quality not Quantity.
For habits that are more subtle (but can still turn into more serious behavioural problems if allowed to continue) or if you are having trouble discouraging unwanted attention-seeking behaviour, seek a professional’s advice.
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We all love our pets, big or small, hairy or hair-less and we all want to do our best to keep them healthy, happy and content. So here’s some Pet Smart tips to help improve your dog or cat or ferret’s life, starting with food.
I’ve put together some do’s and don’ts which will make you a more savvy pet owner and hopefully help you save some money as well as helping to improve your pet’s health!
- Do check your pet food packaging; Check that the main or top ingredient is Meat, chicken or turkey are cheap so there could be a high percentage of actual meat in your pet’s food at least 50%. Don’t think that meat meal or animal by products is the same thing because it isn’t, animal by-products can include, heads, beaks, feet and viscera – nothing too nutritious in those things as a whole. If your top ingredient isn’t meat but a cereal like wheat, maize, corn etc, then you are wasting your money because your pet is probably quite literally, getting rid of it as quickly as you feed it. Cereals are called fillers or ‘fibre’ but your dog or cat can’t digest these cereals and therefore it will come out in nearly the same amounts it went in. Go for a good quality, high meat content and you will probably have to feed less in the long run, saving you money.
- the 2nd part of checking you pet’s food packaging if you feed a commercial brand is to check that there are no added preservatives, colourings or other additives. (This includes commercial dog treats and chews too) So check there are no E numbers, sugars or something called Ethoxyquin – this is a stabilizer which stops fats from becoming rancid, giving them a longer shelf life. It is also a stabilizer for rubber in car tyres! A healthy diet does not contain any of these things in large quantities or eaten at every meal or obviously there will soon be signs that your dog or cat isn’t coping with the large amounts of chemicals and sugars in its diet, obesity, like in humans is never a good sign. Neither is a thin animal that wont put weight on.
- Give your pet Real Food as often as you can. Even table scraps and leftovers, over ripe fruit and vegetables will add much-needed vitamins, minerals and natural enzymes to your pet’s diet that a dry kibble or tinned food may be lacking. *Remember, uncooked foods don’t lose nutrients like cooked foods do, so if you aren’t up to switching to a raw, whole food diet just yet, try just quickly sealing meat, liver or fish in a pan before adding it to your pet’s food- They’ll love you even more for it!
- Do you filter your own tap water? What about your pet’s? Have you ever wondered why they prefer to drink out of a dirty puddle than their bowl? There are many chemicals added to our tap water to make it safe to drink but some waters (depending on geographical terrain) can contain high natural chemicals like Calcium or Lead as well as added Flouride; our pets naturally know that some water tastes better than others and will use their preference. So if you already filter your own water or use bottled water, why not top up their bowl too. Or you can place a bucket outside to collect rain water for your pet if you don’t.
- Lastly, Do give your dog a big, fresh, raw meaty bone at least once a week– more often if you can afford it.You’re local butcher or market can be a great source. It will help your dog clean his teeth and gums, satisfy his chewing and gnawing needs and he’ll look so happy when you give him one that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this before! (Do make sure bones of any kind are larger than your dog’s mouth if not as big as their head,so they have to chew ). Scrap all those processed treats and chews- this will be much healthier for their whole body, not just their teeth- no more dental trips to the vets!
- Don’t feed the following foods to your pets as they are toxic and others can be harmful
Chocolate, Grapes, Raisins, Onions or Avocados
Excessive starchy foods like bread and potato’s can cause Bloat in large amounts
Small pieces of bone or cooked bones can splinter and can cause choking or get stuck
Fruit pits and corn cobs can get stuck in the bowel
- Don’t feed cow’s milk to your pets, it is high in fats and natural growth hormones. Most dog’s and cats have a lactose intolerance and cannot digest any nutrients in milk, therefore you are feeding a high calorie, low nutrient liquid which has no benefit to your pet – not to mention the milk sludge which will coat their teeth. Stick to water!
- Don’t worry about adding new foods to your pet’s diet. Doing your research and reading books and surfing the internet could help you learn and know more about pet nutrition than some vets!
Ask – ask other people you know what they feed, what they have tried and don’t be put off by scare-mongers. Join groups or forums online who are set up to help and support newcomers and give them advice and support.
Not feeling that you are on your own is a big part of starting any new journey of any kind. We’ve all been there and we all want the best for our pets!
Some Books and resources to get you started
Books- The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein (D.V.M.)
Work Wonders by Tom Lonsdale (Australian DVM)
Barf & Raw Feeders N.Ireland– Facebook group for new and experienced pet owners
Or you can visit my own website where you can download an introduction to raw feeding your pet
www.4dogenterprises.com/food or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you found this content of value and look forward to you lovely comments. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive free updates from my blog or sign up to my newsletter on my website!
Bernie- The Dog Owners Coach
I woke up this morning with an idea in my head which I couldn’t wait to come downstairs and type about for all you lovely dog owners. I’ve recently been reading a great book called Think your way to Success by Mark Rhodes and it struck me that as a Dog Owners Coach I teach a lot of what I am reading about in this book to my clients.
Did you know that the word ‘Want’ in most people’s head has negative associations in your subconscious mind? Linked in childhood where we said ‘I want’ ,lets say a Barbie doll or a bike or a dog or a pony and were told ‘NO’ by our parents, then we were obviously upset or sometimes devastated because we soooo Wanted that thing. Our powerful subconscious would then make the decision (as it’s main job is keeping you safe and able to survive the world) that things you ‘want’ are obviously things that will hurt, upset or devastate you and can be passed over. Interesting stuff isn’t it?
Now bear with me because this all fits together in your life and working with your dog…
Apparently the way to get around this is to change your mental vocabulary and how you associate with the things you actually do want to have in your life. So if your wish in your head is to have a happy well mannered dog, instead of thinking to yourself ‘I really want a well mannered dog’, you should be thinking something along the lines of ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a well mannered, happy dog. We could have so much fun together’. Now just read those two statements for a minute, can you see the difference that might make to your emotional sub-conscious? We change a negative association into a positive association. It’s about changing your mindset.
Being aware of your thought process and body language and being mindful of how you associate this to something you would like your dog to do is exactly the things I teach with my coaching clients. It sounds a bit strange but it is something we dont consciously think about in our day to day lives. To change anything in your life, mentally or physically we have to change some of our habits or tweak our routines. If not then we will keep doing the same thing over and over again and nothing will change! This is where Consistency comes in. Consistency makes something you might do once, into a habit. If you do the same thing every day, say for instance, I tell my client to come down stairs, let the dog out as they normally would do every morning, but from now on just don’t look or speak to the dog until it has done what it needs to do and is back inside again. If they do this every morning it forms a good habit. They don’t get jumped on, the dog doesn’t wee on the floor and the dog will learn not to expect its morning cuddle until it comes back inside after he does his morning toilet routine outside. 2 weeks later we have a daily routine that the owner doesn’t even need to think about and seems like it is something they have always done.
If that all makes sense to you I thought it might be fun to share some of our annoying dog problems. For one it lets other people see that they might have similar issues and are not alone and two it can help someone who might not want to ask. Let me know what the issue is and what your normal reaction to this behaviour and we’ll see what might need a tweak.
So go ahead and let me know what issue with your dog is getting on your nerves today by adding a comment below (Unfortunately I can’t go into dog aggression as this is a very serious subject that needs full commitment from the owner to work on one to one)
Thank you for reading and I look forward to helping you and your dog
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
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
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