I am going to start with a truth which I tell all my clients; Not all dogs are treated equally. Small dogs get away with a lot more ‘undesirable or bad’ behaviour than big dogs. In fact I would put it to you that owners put up with 3 or 4 times the amount of bad behaviour in a small dog than they would tolerate with a larger dog.
Does your pet have a favourite spot on the sofa or your bed? Of course they do as I’m sure you do. We are all creatures of habit. But are the habits good or bad ones?
I know clients who have had to race to bed before their large dog got there or they would end up sleeping on a sliver of mattress. Or their favourite chair is no longer Their favourite chair it is now the dog’s favourite chair.
When I ask these owners as to why they have given up their comfort or beloved favourite spot they always answer with ‘it makes them happy’ and have a kinda dreamy look on their face as they look at their darling pooch sprawled in luxury and snoring lazily on the said favorite chair or sofa spot, while they take the ‘less favoured’ positions around the room.
Is this such a big deal? I hear you ask, does it really matter?
Well the answer is Yes, to both those questions because the canine is a species, much like ourselves who lives in a family orientated structure. Much like our own. Within this structure is the people or animals that look after the rest of the family, mum and dad, grandparents, the older, more experienced family members. Were you ever told as a child to not touch that as it was granddad’s or get up and let your mum sit down? That’s because there are certain benefits or perks to having a responsible role in the family. Why not, you look after the family, you bring home a wage to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. You keep them safe.
So lets look at it from the dog’s point of view. If the human gives out a lot of signals that are inconsistent, like for instance, they let you up on the sofa beside them for cuddles, great! Next day is the same. The following day you’re not allowed up but you wait til they go out of the room and you sneak on. Your human returns and sits back down and cuddles you again, great! What is your dog learning? That you know your own mind and have rules it needs to follow or that you are a bit of a push over?
Lets add to that. What if your dog has taken on the role of the responsible one for the family, you, your husband or wife, the kids and the cat? What if your dog took his role very seriously about the safety of his family. He chases off trespassers (barks out the window or in the garden), he takes you all out for a walk (he pulls on the lead and has bad recall), bringing you back safe. He might even tell you off if you over-step the mark (by growling or even nipping you). Wouldn’t you want the most prized position in the house for doing that job?
I hate to be the one to break this to you but you are probably not the real decision maker of the family in your household if any of that last paragraph sounded any way familiar to you. Dogs, like humans need boundaries and rules. If there are none of these in place as the dog grows up and matures they will make up their own set of rules to create some kind of structure to their lives, just as we would in a group of human strangers. It is in our instincts and our dogs to have someone in charge to keep the young and the weak safe. With someone making decisions and rules, everyone knows their place and hopefully everyone will survive.
So what if your dog doesn’t see you as that someone?
Usually some sort of chaos ensues in the household as the dog starts making up the rules as he goes along. Remember a dog with little or no experience of the world will be learning everything from scratch. He learns that the approaching footsteps to his door makes him uncomfortable and feel threatened so he starts to bark, the footsteps retreat (most likely the postman, paperboy or delivery man) and the dog has just learnt a valuable lesson. Barking makes the stranger go away.
So if you become your dog’s responsibility, in his eyes. Does it make sense that he feels he has to follow you around the house, especially as you sometimes have the habit of disappearing, sometimes for hours, and then re-appearing again? Does it make sense he feels the need to rush ahead and see what’s on the other side of the door, or that bush, or around the next bend in the path? He’s only doing his job! Right?
If any of this has made sense to you as you’ve read it and thought about it, make one rule today that you will stick to. The dog is only allowed on the bed/ sofa/ chair on your terms and when he is invited and be consistent.
He will love and respect you for it.
Read more about Consistency is the key to Success
Please feel free to leave a comment if you found this article useful or you are having trouble taking back your sofa!
Bernie, The Dog Owners Coach
If you have only started to feed some healthy, uncooked food to your dog or cat but are still unsure, here are some top tips to help you and your pet carnivore make the transition a stress free one.
- Weaning onto a natural raw diet is usually the easiest way to do things. I find minced or ground meat and bone perfect for this as it gets your pet used to the smell and texture first. It also helps your pets stomach acid become stronger over a number of days, preparing it for when they become full time carnivores. Feeding your minced or chunked meat in a separate meal from the processed stuff also helps your dog process and absorb the new food more easily. A lot of dogs naturally will wean themselves onto a natural diet this way and start to refuse to eat dry kibble through this process.
- Texture can be a strange phenomena to some dogs. Bigger pieces of meat on bone can sometimes be daunting and tackling this new food source is a big learning curve. The big tip is don’t put pressure on your dog by standing over them, watching them like a hawk. Let them take their own time to work it out, ultimately they will. I’ve found some dogs, like my own terrier, Bracken don’t like her teeth to sink into bigger pieces of meat like chicken thighs, I get over this by feeding her chicken either frozen or partly thawed for an hour before I give it to her. She eats this without a problem and with gusto!
- Veg and supplements, there are always debates on any forum you read about whether to feed veg or to supplement certain vitamins. My big tip here is to do your research. Read as much as you can from the leading books and feed what you feel comfortable with. If you or your dog were to eat the same food day in and day out, 365 days a year then of course you would only be getting a limited amount of vitamins and minerals. Having a varied diet gives you and your dog a balanced diet. If you decide to feed veg then they should only make up no more than 25% of their food ration.
- Fats for canines are of high importance, they provide extra calories, they are necessary for fat soluble vitamins, they help satiate the appetite and they are an excellent source of fatty acids. If your dog needs to lose weight don’t limit the amount of fat they eat, just reduce the amount of food they eat per day. Then your dog will still be getting all their essential elements for healthy weight loss or gain.
- Feed ‘Meaty Bones’ as often as possible. These act as natural tooth brushes for your pets mouth. Chewing and gnawing on muscle, sinew and bone massage gums, keeping blood supply healthy. It acts like dental floss, removing any bacteria build up between teeth and gums and of course all that chewing releases those essential Endorphins, those ‘feel good’ hormones which help to make your dog feel happy and content.
Please feel free to browse the archive posts on the right as there are many articles about raw feeding, myths and further tips to help you get the most out of feeding a natural diet.
I would love to hear from you if you found this article useful or you have any questions you would like me to answer, please comment below.
Bernie The Dog Owners Coach
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 email@example.com
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
We would all love to take our dogs on holidays with us, some people do but if we want to go a little further away sometimes it’s better to leave fido at home. So then the big decision is ‘What about the dog?’
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 a dog. Usually when asked why they reply with ‘ we couldn’t put him/ her in kennels!’ or ‘we tried kennels once, never again’. It seems guilt is a big factor in leaving the dog behind and then to have to leave them in a big concrete building away from all their creature comforts is more than most owners can bear.
Most modern boarding kennels are heated, are comfortable and dogs get their daily walks and attention but if kennels aren’t your thing then there are plenty of other options. There are Home Boarding which is someone who will look after your dog in their home, you will probably still have to show your dog is up to date with vaccinations and parasite treatments. But they will have 24hr care and usually all their home comforts. Obviously if you can get a family member or friend to look after your dog while you are away is always a great option, if you trust them to do the job right but, the next best thing to that is to hire a Petsitter.
6 reasons why a Petsitter will fit the bill
- You will have someone not only looking after your dog(s) but also your home; most petsitters will do home services too like collecting mail, watering plants, leaving out bins so you dont have to worry about coming home to a pile of mail or dead plants. It will all be taken care of. Most petsitters will take care of other pets as well as dogs and cats but check first.
- A Petsitter will usually charge you for the time you are away, not by the number of pets you have, therefore if you have lots of pets a Petsitter could be a cheaper option in the long run.
- By remaining in their home environment most dogs and cats are a lot happier and therefore seem less likely to pine or worry while owners are away, why would they, they’re at home!
- Pets get to stay in their normal routines for feeding, walks, play time, nap time so there is no big changes which could make your pet get stressed. Plus they have someone taking care of them the whole time you are away.
- If you have a pet that needs specialist feeding or medication, this is always an added worry in kennels that the same person will do this properly. With a Petsitter you can show them and make sure you are happy before you leave knowing that that person will do exactly what you have shown them and your pet is in good hands.
- Petsitters usually get their work from repeat business and word of mouth, someone who does a good job and is trusted will always be recommended, so ask friends or other dog owners who they use to look after their pets. You might be surprised to find there is a local Petsitter in your area.
Most Pet sitter have many years experience with looking after different animals, including their own. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their experience, many professional Petsitters will bring references from other clients, insurance certificates and a contract for you to fill in to keep everything legal, professional and both parties happy. They will usually do an introduction interview to say Hi and answer your questions and of course to meet your pets, obviously the petsitter wants to be happy taking on the job as much as you will want to be happy hiring that person to look after your home and pets.
If all goes well then once your petsitter has been hired you can go on holiday with the safe knowledge that your dog, cat or bunny is being well looked after and in safe hands and you can relax. Don’t be afraid to ask your petsitter to send you a text or an email for updates if this is the first time away from you pet, they will understand. I am always happy to text worrying owners and even send them photos of their pet having a good time, we all worry a little when we leave our pets.
I hope I have helped you take a bit of the worry out of going away and leaving your dog or pets at home. If you live in N.Ireland you can find my petsitting services HERE
I would love to hear your experience of going away and who you use to take care of your pet, please leave a comment below.
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
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 🙂
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
Have you always wanted a dog like Lassie, Rin tin tin or even Benji? Well I’ll tell you now, They Only Exist in the Movies or with years of training, honing skills of natural or un-natural behaviour and having a very strong and trusting bond with the dog.
It’s time to burst this big bubble that all or even certain dogs – (no matter what breed) are easy to keep, easy to train, are good with people, children, pets etc. No of course they aren’t. Every dog is a single personality, not like their mother or father, not like their litter siblings, not like anyone else. Just like humans, they all have their own personalities, foibles, likes and dis-likes, even from a very early age. Seeing the parents of a pup gives you a degree of certainty that yes they might be social, nice around people or will be healthy but that is never 100% certainty. One certainty you can guarantee 100% is the time you spend teaching your dog skills you want it to have in adult life, they will have in adult life.
If you want your dog to walk nicely by your side as you go for a relaxing walk, or run with you when you go for a jog or pull you if you want to go for a mush, you have to teach them what you want or expect of them. There’s no point in buying expensive harnesses, lines, a rig and put your dog in front, tie him to it and expect him to know that he now has to pull, where as before this you had expected him to walk nicely by your side. You train him and show him how fun this new experience is so he wants to do it again and again. We take driving lessons, guitar lessons, language lessons, tennis or football lessons or ‘practise’ so why should it be any different for your dog? If you want them to have a certain skill then you have to teach them and practise, practise, practise!
I’m not saying you can’t teach your dog to be like Lassie but don’t just expect them to be like her and By the Way… movie and tv Lassie was about 4 or 5 different dogs!
Here’s where some dogs get the short end of the stick when it comes to some people’s expectations. I have come up against people like this when I worked in rescues. The potential new owner wants a dog, ‘OK lets see what type of lifestyle you have so we can find a dog that suits’. They then proceed to tell you they work a 40+hr week, go to the pub at weekends and a couple of foreign holidays a year, don’t do much ‘outdoorsy-things’ and they want a labrador for the kids, are adamant they want one, a big, friendly one. Of course that’s no life for a big energetic dog and most people don’t want to hear that reality. You can change the breed in that story to what someone has in their heads that they want and no matter how much you tell them that they need a lot of grooming /exercise / training etc they don’t see it as a problem, they then find a dog somewhere else and a month down the line there’s a frustrated and angry owner who has no idea how to stop their beagle (any breed) from barking, chasing the neighbours cat or digging holes in the garden, eating the kids toys or going to the toilet inside the house when it lives outside. Later you find out the dog gets 1 walk a day and lives its whole life in the back yard. Sounds to me like the dog is making the best of a bad situation!
When owners call me out because of their dog’s problems they soon realise that respect, interaction, teaching and enjoying each others company is all part of being a good dog owner. I get the phrase ‘it’s a lot like having kids’ when we are in a coaching session and I totally agree. People think long and hard usually before having kids, they need a lot of love, food, clothes, schooling and that’s just the basic stuff. No-one expects their parental duties are over once the kids hit 16, there are driving lessons, college, part-time jobs, socializing, hobbies…. So why do people not think long and hard about adding a 4 legged family member to their household? There’s love, food, vaccinations, bedding, health, education and time all needed there too for the whole of their lives.
It’s time the human race started treating this loyal, patient, forgiving and highly intelligent creature with more care and respect than what it is deemed to be getting here and now in the 21st century. Dont just be a dog owner, be a GOOD dog owner. Dog’s are not an accessory, they are not a short-term phase you are going through to see if you ‘like’ this breed, they should be treated with love and value and as Clarissa Baldwin’s’ very popular adage says ‘a dog is for life not just for christmas’.
Please think wisely, don’t get a dog if you don’t have time for one, if you do have one then give it time and love and you will be wise.
Please leave a comment below if you liked this post.
Communicating with your dog can be full of pitfalls, they are very subtle in their communication compared to us humans! Check out the link abov about calming signals, this is some of the subtle language our dogs use to communicate amongst themselves but also to us. There is a whole book on it!
Did you ever wonder why when you put a camera aimed at your dog, they start licking and your photo has a big pink tongue in it?
Have you ever got all cosy with your pup and given them a big cuddle and they flick their tongue in and out or do a big yawn! It’s not cause they’re licking their nose or are tired…check it out and share with your kids to be able to read what your dog is Actally trying to say.
please leave a comment below if you have any questions, thank you
I wonder if you were like me growing up, totally ‘dog mad’? Now when I think about it I probably nigh on tortured all the dogs I knew as a kid. I have photos in my album of me with my arms wrapped around the neck of my aunt’s dog, my grandad’s dog, our dog, I dressed them up, we had tea parties or just ‘ran and played’ together around the back yard, they were my best friends. To me it was like they knew what I felt like doing or was just thinking about and I found real happiness in their silent but good humoured company. I knew when I grew up I would ‘Work’ with dogs. I tried working with horses for a while which I loved too but to me there was nothing like the reciprocal friendship and love you get from a dog, both our species have been together a long time and we are alike in a lot of ways.
Finding your Joy
Ok I know not all of you feel like this about dogs and there may have been something else that held or holds that top spot in your heart more than anything else. If you didn’t have to pay the mortgage, rent or babysitters and you could do something you Really Love would it be what you are doing now in real life? No? What about, it’s your main Hobby outside of work? It doesn’t matter what it is but unless you find time to find your joy, have fun in your joy and even share in your joy, life and it’s stresses will soon catch up with you and we all know that just sucks!
If you are like me and you need to find some doggy joy in your life my advice is go and try it and see how you feel about it, move on if you think there could be more or ‘this isn’t for me’. Volunteer! at a dog shelter, at a dog groomers, with mountain rescue, with ‘P.A.T. dogs, at a doggy day care centre, at a dog club, look after other people’s dogs (with permission of course!)
Now there are more dog jobs or ‘vocations’ as they like to call them, than ever! When I told my careers teacher that I wanted to work with animals, especially dogs, I was given the list of Vet, Vet Nurse, Groom, possibly working in an Animal Shelter/ dog pound. That was it! Now there are animal Therapists, Behaviourists, Biologists, Beautcians, Carers, Trainers, Handlers and the list goes on. Do some research, I think I would have loved to be a Wolf Biologist if I had known that was something that was a Real Job back then.
What ever it is that makes your heart sing and puts a Real smile on your face and you wish you could do it all the time, That’s It, you’ve Found It! Your Joy, cherish it with all your heart. Go visit it Often if not All the time!
If you dont know what makes you feel like that, try something new. When you have a rediculous grin on your face and you say to no-one in particular ‘I Love doing this’, you’ll know.
Share with me what Your Joy is by leaving a comment below
Bernie (The Dog Owner’s Coach)