Tag Archive | treats

Top 10 Christmas Dangers for Your Dog

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.

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  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.)
  7. 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!
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.
  10. 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,

xmas pup

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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For more information about the Dog Owners Coach, or to book a consultation, please visit my website at www.4dogenterprises.com/coaching or find me on Facebook at The Dog Owners Coach.

When is Playing Rough Too Rough with your dog?

Should you discourage, or even stop, your dog’s Play biting and/or rough play? When is rough play too rough and when does a play bite just become a bite?

How Puppies Learn

In order to really understand your dog’s instincts behind play biting, let’s go back to when your pup was still living with it’s brothers and sisters. Life was and still is a steep learning curve in a wonderful, strange world of new sounds, tempting smells and incredible tastes. Until your pup learns exactly what these things are in his world, everything (and we mean everything!) is ‘tested’ with its mouth to see how it ‘feels’ (hard/soft or wet/dry) and whether it’s something to be enjoyed or something to be avoided.

Through this ‘testing’ pups quickly learn what can be gently squeezed, what can be tossed around and what can be bitten or chewed on. Oftentimes, their litter or playmates serve as unsuspecting guinea pigs and a quick squeal will encourage or discourage a particular behaviour as either good or bad!

Another critical stage for your puppy to focus on chewing EVERYTHING is when they go through Teething. This is when puppies start losing their puppy teeth for their adult teeth to come through and they just seem to want to chew EVERYTHING! This dog behaviour is very natural as their little gums are in pain and they attempt to soothe the pain through chewing. Chewing is so important during this stage because it releases endorphins (a ‘feel good’ hormone) from the puppy’s brain to help it cope with the discomfort of new teeth coming through.

During this teething process, make sure your puppy has a variety of interesting toys to chew on; preferably made from soft materials and non-toxic rubber. Toys made of plastic, foam or anything that can be pulled or chewed off in chunks (and potentially swallowed) should never be given to puppies. There are a lot of safe puppy teething and chewing toys out there, so do a little research and buy a high-quality toy that will last under your puppy’s sharp teeth! I would highly recommend Kongs as great rubber chew toys for your pup. Why not put your pups kong in the freezer for a short spell. It will keep the treats or food inside for longer and the cold will help cool your pups gums too!


Is all Play Biting Bad?

It’s fine for your puppy to play bite and play rough with his toys or other puppies or dogs (always supervised!), but puppy biting on you or other’s hands, feet and articles of clothing should never be allowed to happen in the first place. Puppies usually learn naturally that adult dogs do not get involved in play fights, they get chased off or get a growl of caution when they go too far. Puppies then learn they need to be invited to play in the adults space.

Teaching your puppy, young dog or even an older dog to focus his chewing on something acceptable (that can take the abuse!) is the golden rule of dog behaviour. Re-direct excitable jaws with a toy, a treat or anything he is allowed to chew, except you! Throw toys in the opposite direction or wave the treats in front of his nose and teach him to sit. Re-focus his attention on good/acceptable doggie behaviour and consistently reinforce – and reward! – his good habits. It’s so much easier to establish and reward good behaviour with your dog than breaking negative and destructive behaviour.

But what if your puppy is already play biting or trailing around on the ends of your trouser leg? Or even worse, he is no longer a puppy, but still using his teeth on your hands, arms or articles of clothing (especially your designer leather shoes)?

It’s time to Teach the Rules of the Game!

Rule 1: Eye Contact and Speaking are rewards to your puppy, If your dog is getting overexcited with play biting or playing rough, do not look or speak to them when you are re-directing their behaviour. Any attention you may give them at this critical time will be misinterpreted as encouragement to continue the unacceptable behaviour. Why should your puppy stop when it gets your attention?

Rule 2: Be consistent with your message of what is acceptable behaviour! If you only stick to the rules every now and then and letting your puppy get away with play biting or getting too rough more often than not, then it is going to take a whole lot longer to get through to your puppy what is and isn’t allowed. Your inconsistency only causes your dog to be confused and unsure of what it is you really want. Be consistent and see how quickly your smart puppy gets it!

Rule 3: Timeouts, This is a very effective tool to address and damper your puppy’s over-excited behaviour by encouraging them to “chill out.” At the same time, it also gives you the space and time to avoid becoming frustrated, red-faced and hysterical as things are blown out of all proportion. Timeouts are never done in a negative way; remember, do not look or speak to your puppy when they are in “time-out.”

Timeouts for Smaller Puppies. Remember those litter mates who got bitten too hard, turned their backs and stalked off? You are basically doing the same thing! You can say ‘Aow!’ if your puppy bites, get up and walk away. Do not say anything else. A few attempts with this same response will soon have your puppy thinking, ‘ok, how do I get her to stay instead of go?’ Congratulations, they’re learning the acceptable behaviour!

If you have small children around (they always gets puppies overexcited), think about investing in, or making, a puppy pen. These small metal or mesh enclosures are sold to help puppy owners wrangle their small charges and keep them safe when you just can’t keep an eye on them; for instance, when you’re making dinner or the kids are doing their homework. If puppy gets too nippy, in he/ she goes (without a word, remember!) and leave them for a few minutes until they calm down. You can use the same idea when you leave the room to avoid worrying about what wires your little sweetie could be chewing on!

Puppy pens also teach your puppy a little independence; they can still hear and see you, but not get under your feet when you’re busy. They stay occupied and safe with their toys until you are ready to play.

Timeouts for bigger puppies or older dogs – Adult canine teeth are bigger and stronger than puppy teeth, so you really don’t want your puppy still play biting when these come through! For bigger puppies and adult dogs designate a ‘Timeout Space’ somewhere in your house. Usually it’s best to keep it close to where your dog typically spends its day; so a utility room, a downstairs bathroom, whatever works. If you have limited space or an open planned home, then a large crate with a blanket thrown over the top will work just as well. Just like with the younger puppies, when your bigger puppy or older dog starts getting too rough, quietly and gently put them in their ‘Timeout Space’ for a few minutes and let them cool off and calm down. (Remember, no eye contact or speaking as that causes more excitement.) With consistency, your dog will learn that getting overexcited and rough gets them nowhere except alone on their own. Exactly not what they want since they only want to be with you.

Again, I can’t highlight enough how quickly this unacceptable behaviour will begin to improve if you stay consistent with your game rules, each and every day. An additional benefit is that you are teaching your puppy to learn on its own and behaviours that a dog learns on its own are more likely to become a natural, lifelong habit.

Remember- Speaking or looking at your pup will be perceived as positive interaction by your dog and dilute the message you really want to get across. Let your assertive body language do the talking instead!

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For more information, please go to my website at www.4dogenterprises.com or find me on Facebook at The Dog Owners Coach.

Pet Smart Tips to Improving your Pet’s Life- Part 1 FOOD

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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’s:

  • 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’ts;

  • 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 feednatural@gmail.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

Do you make these 3 mistakes with your dog?

We all want a well-mannered and relaxed dog around the house. To keep us company when we are on our own or when we have guests over. There is nothing worse or embarrassing when your dog wont leave you or your guests alone! But could it be you that is causing this behaviour?

Mistake no.1 Do you constantly talk to your dog like they are another person?

We’ve all done this, we are human and sometimes I think we just like the sound of our own voice, some more than others! We tell our pets, ‘I’m home! Did you miss me?’, ‘What have you been up to all day, wait to you hear about my day…’, ‘I’m just going out to [friends] house I wont be long’, ‘What would you like for dinner we have…’ and it goes on and on. I hope you’re laughing right now if this is you because we have all wished our pets would talk back to us, just once! But, unfortunately they never do or will because they are a dog.

Why is this so bad I hear you ask? Well for one, this is an exercise in getting things off our chest or looking for some love and attention ourselves but you are also training your dog to become an attention seeker through no fault of his/ her own. He’ll learn that paying you attention while you chat away all day long gets him something he wants too, you. You are his/her reward for just paying you attention, but then when you are busy, running late and in a rush or you have guests over, who’s still looking for attention and getting in your way? You got it!

Secondly, if your voice fills the room, day and night and becomes background noise to your dog. How does he know when you are saying the important stuff? We all learn to switch off after a while, I think they call it ‘Selective Hearing’. If your dog is paying you attention at the wrong times and not, when he is supposed to, it’s not his fault. Think ‘Does my dog need to know this information?’ before you speak.

Mistake no.2 Do you look at your dog a lot or constantly watch him?

I don’t know about you but I hate the idea of being watched. You want to keep looking over your shoulder all the time. This may come as a surprise to you but because dogs don’t speak a language, they use body language as their main form of communication. Eye contact being at the top of the list. OK here’s a little experiment for you to try with some non canine members of your family. Next time you are in a room with another human, don’t say anything and just look at them, keep your face neutral if possible and just watch them and keep making eye contact. I will guarantee you within a couple of minutes you are going to be asked ‘What?’

Do you get it yet? When ever you come in the door and look down at your furry friend and he looks back at you, you have started a conversation and he’s saying ‘what?’ (Probably what’s this nutter looking for now because they never tell me they just walk off and then they do it again and again)

Again we are rewarding attention seeking behaviour because we hold our dog in a constant non- verbal conversation which then becomes a habit. It’s one of the hardest things to do but stop looking at the dog when he doesn’t need to be in the conversation. A lot of ‘busy’ dogs are like this because they have an attention seeking owner! They only lie down and sleep when it’s time for the soaps on TV or the computer goes on. Sound familiar?

Mistake no.3 Do you tell your dog what to do All The Time?

OK this is my biggest bugbear and it’s with the humans, not the dogs. I know parents who do this too, so don’t be feeling left out anyone! You know the ones you visit or see in the park? ‘Stop doing that’, ‘come here’, ‘sit there’, ‘lie down there’, ‘wait’, ‘leave’, ‘I said No’, I could go on but I’m boring myself.

What you then create is a neurotic dog which needs to be around you all the time so you can tell it what to do or what not to do. Why? Because if it’s the only way it’s going to get your attention, good or bad, then that’s what he has to do – trying to work out what the hell the human wants it to do now.

Dog’s like children are intelligent creatures and learn by making mistakes and learning from the consequences of their own actions. If you Tell a dog or a child what to Do all the time then what are they going to learn? Exactly what you tell them and nothing else, probably. Like a robot. How about letting them learn self-control? Don’t laugh, it’s the basis for most positive reward training. Which we know to be the kindest and quickest way for anyone, human or animal to learn. Why? Because we will continue to do a behaviour in which we gain something good from doing that behavior. For example, we teach toddlers that if they say ‘Please’ they will get [name that reward*chips,lolipops,sweeties, etc*] what happens if they don’t say please? Nothing, they don’t get their nice thing. They think about it and then say Please! We aint stupid you know and neither are our dogs. Let them learn for themselves, you reward what you want to see more of, everyone’s happy!

Lets give them a break from our human world and our human ways and let them just be Canine. Be mindful of your behaviour and you will see a different behaviour from your dog if you do.

Happy dog= Happy owner

If you think this was helpful I’d love for you to like it and leave me a comment

Thank You

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach

Keep your pooch cool for pennies on those hot days

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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OMG where has half the week gone!

Well smells of baking dog cookies are wafting around the house and the tribe have all taste tested the new gingerbread bones (paws up)

Lots and lots of raw food arriving tomorrow to fill up my 2  near empty freezers so all the doggies will be happy in the north west!

Check out my treats website at www.happybootreats.co.uk

Have a good evening and normal service should resume eventually!

4 dog blogger

OK, here’s some background for you all, about me and my 4 dogs so you get to know me almost instantly without having to ask some awkward questions! You will also notice I use this ! a lot, dont ask me maybe it’s how I actually speak!

I live in Derry, Northern Ireland or Londonderry or the Maiden City or the City of Culture 2013, take your pick. I live with my long suffering partner, who bless him is a very supportive soul and of course there are my four kids, Solo 16yrs, Bracken 9yrs, Luna 3yrs (we think) and Rudi 8 months. Apart from Bracken they are all rescues and they are  in ascending order, a Whippet cross collie, a Border Terrier, a Border Terrier and an English Springer Spaniel.

I have always had dog’s in my life, there are plenty of family photos showing me squeezing the family’s or somebody else’s dog! If there was a dog in the vicinity I would find it or it would find me, things haven’t really changed much! I worked in show kennels while at high school and then worked with horses for a while, same thing just bigger! I then got Solo when I left college, I was living with my best friend at the time and she bought/ rescued  Solo for my 22nd Birthday.

There’s a load of crap in the middle there but the last 9yrs or so have been mainly focused back on dogs. I am a qualified Dog Listener, I managed a rescue centre for 2 years, I petsit and dog walk, I bake my own wheat and gluten free dog biscuits and as from about 6 weeks ago I now sell raw or natural dog food too. So you could say I have a very doggie life indeed!

So I will share my life, my experiences , the ups and downs of dog ownership, hopefully helping some of you on the way and you get to know us all a little bit better.

Thanks