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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Seems like there is a new way to neuter dogs non surgically and it’s called Zuetering!
I hate the idea of animals being ‘put under’ for anything other than a major and necessary operation and this could be the answer.
It works by injecting a solution of Zinc Gluconate (zinc is a natural spermicide) into the male pups testes (sorry guys who are reading this!) without the use of anesthesia.
This may make the Rescue and Shelter Organisations sit up and take note as it’s bound to be a cheaper but just as effective way of neutering their charges and hopefully saving them some money.
What do you think?
I first met the dog I would live with, travel with and love for 17 years in a small NCDL rescue centre, now Dogs Trust in Ballymena. My best friend, whom I was living with at the time had recently rehomed a dog from there and as we were both big dog lovers and now in our own digs, she promised me she would let me have my own dog too.
So the week before my 22nd birthday we decided to take the hour and a half trip up to the centre and have a look. I knew what I had in mind as I always loved lurchers with their sleek coats and slender aerodynamic bodies. This would be my chance to have one of my own. When we got there we walked around the pens looking at all the potential in those many pairs of brown eyes.
There were many lurchers, mainly greyhound crosses with soft eyes and a variety of coat colours and textures, nuzzling and licking our fingers through the wire. My friend could see I was falling in love and so excited, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. She agreed they were all quite beautiful but maybe a little large, as were living in a terraced house with only a small front and back garden, with 1 dog already.
I felt a little disappointed that she wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as myself for these beautiful and unwanted creatures but she encouraged me to keep looking, which is what we did. We stopped at every pen and squinted into the shadow to see who sat there or hid in the back.
On the last row I was losing my enthusiasm and wanted to go back to the lurchers, there were so many it would take me a while to choose one anyway. I walked around the corner and was met at the first pen door by this black jack-in-the-box. He bounced up and down the whole time we stood there but what I could see of this black blur was that he had the same shape of face as my lovely lurchers but that was all I could see. He was also a little smaller.
We asked one of the staff could they bring him out and asked about his story. The lady had a huge smile on her face and said in no uncertain terms that Jacko was her favourite as she slipped a lead over his head and brought him out.
He was in no way a shy dog, he greeted us with his whole body wagging and feet doing a jig and trying to kiss us amid all this crazy welcome dance he was performing. He was sleek jet black with a white stripe on his chest and he looked like a mini lurcher. Jacko as they had called him had been born in the centre to a white whippet mum, they presumed dad was a collie as he had a fluffy undercoat to the outer shiny flat coat and he was now larger than his mum had been. All his siblings had been rehomed, as had he, but he had been returned for being too much to handle by his previous owners.
It was love at first sight. His big brown eyes shone with mischief, love for everyone he met and a pure love of life and I wanted him to be mine. We took him for a walk which involved him pogo jumping half the walk in his enthusiastic way but I knew in my heart this boy was meant to be with me. I was his second chance.
We went through all the necessary paperwork and homechecks and the following weekend of my birthday we went to collect my boy who I renamed Solo, so as not to confuse him completely of his old name which I didn’t care for. He was more like a Han Solo my new ebony boy.
We soon found out he was a chewing expert, carpets, curtains and seat belts were his forte’, barking was another habit which took a long time to master but he had the company of my friends lovely dog Trouble to get him over his transition from kennels to home life.
Soon we moved to Oxfordshire to follow my career with horses and Solo’s first flight in a plane. I spent the whole flight imagining him escaping from his crate and bounding out the door as soon as the baggage handlers opened it and being mortified as images of us all trying to catch him as he chased planes on the runway haunted me! He didn’t I hasten to add but that was the kind of thing he could do.
The move to living in a more open environment with lots of exercise across big grass fields and spending all day with me while I worked in a large yard suited him down to the ground. He made lots of doggy and horsey friends although he always erred on the cautious side to any newcomer on 4 legs. Newcomers on 2 legs were met with his by now well known pogo stick impression and trying to kiss their face while they were still upright. His other trade mark was to gently put their wrist in his mouth, like a doggy handshake. This he only did with his true friends.
He was great with other dogs, he also showed an inbuilt ability for herding when needed and he helped me with many a shy or scared dog, encouraging them with his gentle ways that everything would be fine. He loved the water and the beach and chasing balls and especially if all 3 were combined. Then we could barely get him back to the car!
I couldn’t sum up his whole life in this one small blog but I wanted to let the world know that this funny, intelligent, kind and wonderful dog had existed in this world, if only to help me through life and remind me to keep my sense of humour and patience on many occasions.
For 17 years he was my shadow, my best friend, my confidante and my teacher. He taught me to never judge a book by it’s cover and that every dog deserves a second chance and has the potential to change your life for the better. They come into our lives like a guardian angel to teach us about ourselves and how to treat others, with kindness, with humour and with unconditional love.
And when they leave this world we know they have touched our lives and our hearts like no other creature ever could.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of my ebony boy who will live forever in my heart.
For Solo x
I meet a lot of dog owners in my line of work and many of them tell me they haven’t taken a holiday since they got their dog. When I ask them why, they usually reply ‘”we couldn’t put him/her in a kennel!” Or maybe even, “we tried kennels once; never again!”Guilt seems to be a big factor for owners when they consider leaving their dog behind. And for some owners, leaving their beloved pet in a big concrete building away from all their creature comforts is more than they can bear.
Obviously if you can get a family member or friend to look after your dog while you are away, this is usually the best option; if you trust them to do the job right. But if you don’t have that kind of option, you should consider hiring a qualified and recommended pet sitter.
6 Reasons why a Pet Sitter Equals a “Stress-free Holiday or Vacation” this Year
- You will have someone not only looking after your pet(s), but also your home. Most pet sitters will also do home services like collecting mail, watering plants and leaving out trash bins so you don’t have to worry about coming home to a pile of mail, dead plants or smelly trash. It will all be taken care of. Having someone in your home while you’re gone also discourages thieves from targeting your empty home. Most pet sitters will take care of other pets as well as dogs and cats, but always check first.
- Money talks. A pet sitter will usually charge you for the time you are away, not by the number of pets you have. So, if you have lots of pets, a pet sitter could be a cheaper option in the long-run than using kennels.
- Happier and Healthier Pets. By remaining in their own home environment, most dogs and cats are a lot happier and less stressed by the absence of their caretakers. They are less likely to pine, worry or even get sick while owners are away because they’re at home! By staying in their own home, they also avoid coming home with unwanted fleas or maybe kennel cough.
- Nothing changes while you’re away. This is one of the best reasons to use a dog sitter the next time you go away. Your dogs remain in their normal routines for feeding, walks, play time and nap time; so there are no big changes which could potentially stress or upset your beloved pet. Plus they also get the full attention and personalized care of someone the entire time you are away.
- Special care and attention. If you have a pet that requires special feeding or medication, this can pose an added worry when kenneling the pet; will the same person do this properly, every day and on time? With a pet sitter, you can spend the time showing them exactly what needs to be done before you leave. Make sure you leave a detailed list for the pet sitter too (spelling out routines, feeding schedules and procedure, etc.), so that your pet sitter does exactly what you normally do, ensuring your pet is in excellent hands and in their normal routine. Also include any emergency contact numbers (including your vet), just in case something happens.
- Highly Recommended! Good pet sitters usually get their work from repeat business and word of mouth. Someone who does a good job and has proven to be trustworthy will always be recommended. So ask your friends or other dog owners who they use to pet sit their animals. You might be surprised to find there is a local pet sitter (or more!) in your own area.
A lot of pet sitters have many years of experience looking after different animals, including their own. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their experience; many professional pet sitters will bring references from other clients, insurance certificates and a contract for you to complete to keep everything legal and professional, with both parties knowledgeable and happy with the expectations. In addition, they will usually do an introduction interview to meet you, and of course your pets, as well as answer any questions you may have.
Once you’ve hired the perfect pet sitter, you can happily go off on holiday with the confidence that your dog, cat, etc., is in safe hands and receiving the best of care. If this is the first time you’re away from your beloved animals, don’t be afraid to ask your pet sitter to send you a text or update email; as a fellow animal-lover, they will understand!
Remember to book your pet sitter well in advance; holiday seasons are busy times for these professionals.
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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……
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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You just have to read this if you are a dog lover, a business owner or someone in-between with big dreams.
Great tips from Rhonda Abram’s dog Cosmo on not only how dogs benefit the workplace but how we can learn better personal traits and excel at working with people.