Animal Management

Managing Animals within the Household

I have been recently reminded about one of the many reasons why dog and cats are surrendered to animal shelters; toileting in the house.

I was talking with a client about their dog who is boisterous, and does everything at 200 miles an hour, and about teaching their dog Quiet (stop barking) and Settle (asking it to stop what it’s doing and curl up for some quiet time). During this session they explained that their flatmate had had an issue with their older cat and had had it put down.  I listened to their relaying of the story with interest as they explained that the cat was introduced into the house after the dog and initially there were a few teething problems with the cat threatening the dog, and not using the cat flap for toileting.  The toileting was resolved by providing a dirt box and sorted that out without too many issues, and eventually the cat had gone outside through the cat flap, but only when the dog was inside.  The issue of the boisterous dog was obviously a very big issue for the cat but thought that management of the toileting was good and provided the cat a toileting area without being harassed or threatened by the dog. However,  a few weeks after the toilet box had been removed and the cat was using the cat flap, it starting toileting inside, in wardrobes or under beds. The cat was old so they took the cat to the vet for a non-return visit.

Why did this happen? When animals have been toilet trained and they are successful at going outside of their own accord and suddenly start urinating or defecation in the house, there has to be a reason.  It could be medical, because of the age of the cat, it could be environmental (someone or something in the house or garden), or behavioural (needs some retraining). From the explanation from the flatmate,

  • the boisterous dog had started harassing the cat when it was asleep on its owners bed
  • when the cat tried to go outside, the dog started blocking the cats access to the cat door
  • when the cat was outside, the boisterous dog would chase the cat up a tree and then sit there barking at it until someone took the dog away

Although the cat was having the accidents, you can see from above that it didn’t appear to be a medical or behavioural issue as the cat was trying to get out of the house.  It was the dogs behaviour that had changed and it was now bullying the cat at every opportunity it could.  The cat was having to search for quiet places to go to the toilet and unfortunately the wardrobes and under the bed were the places that it used.


When issues start with our animals, we have to take a step back and look at the situation and say “what’s changed here for this to start happening?”.  It may well be one of the other areas of medical or behavioural, but look around at the animals home first and think about what has changed in the past day, week, month that may have affected the animals environment…you might have new neighbours that have an unfriendly cat, or another boisterous dog next door, the accidents could have happened during a thunderstorm, or a very stormy few days…”What’s different?”. Once you think you know what is different, implement some changes, ideas into place.

In the above scenario, you might:

  • put the dog out for an hour, and when you bring it in, then put the cat outside;
  • separating the front and back of your section may give the cat and dog an area to themselves, then gradually bring them together.
  • creating separation in the house, may also work
  • train the dog a behaviour that doesn’t support chasing or blocking the cat

If you cannot  think of anything that could of caused the cat toileting in the house, then ask your vet to check your animal. Age is one factor for toileting in the house, but there are many others, and a vet will be able to check the health of your animal to remove illness as a cause.

There are cat behaviourist around that can help you if it is a behavioural problem, but I think that if the person in the above situation had put the toileting box back into the house, created a safe haven for the cat, and the dog had had some behavioural training, the cat could have lived for a few years longer.

Halloween and Guy Fawkes is upon us again!

With Halloween coming up it is the time to look after our pets.  Halloween is a fun time for the people but not necessarily our pets.

Humans all love the strange costumes and scary feeling when they see something unusual.  Unfortunately our pets don’t feel the same way.  All pets, not just the scared ones.

  • Bring your Dog inside
    Even if this isn’t normal for your dog to come into the house, this is an unusual time of the year and our pets need our understanding.  Not all dogs are able to cope with the hype and noise of either the children’s screams and squeals of Halloween or the screams, bangs and burning lights of Guy Fawkes.Make a dog bed in the laundry or another room and train your dog to sleep in this area prior to Halloween or Guy Fawkes.
  • Scared dogs: If your dog is scared of the people in strange costumes, the increased number of people knocking on your door or visiting or the loud noises and bangs that fireworks produce, keep them in a safe environment where they cannot escape. If people come into your property, dressed in their ‘scary’ costumes, it could upset your dog and their behaviour could be different to normal by growling, lunging or wildly trying to escape. Check that when people come to the door that your pet cannot escape from the ‘safe’ environment, or be scared by the increased number of scary people at the door.

    Take precautions of your scared dog but using a Thundershirt or making a small cave for them to feel safe in. One of mine use to hide under the duvet during thunderstorms and fireworks, so let then choose where they are most comfortable.  If you need to medicate, remember that some medications take a couple of days to work so should start taking those well before the fireworks start going off.

  • Dressing up of dogs:
    Not all dogs like to be dressed up.  If they don’t like it, don’t do it.  If they love it, make the most awesome costume that people have seen.  Keep hold of your dog on either a flat collar or harness and a leash long enough to keep everyone, including your pet, safe.Do not take your dog with you door knocking if it is not well socialised and is fearful or timid of people.

Take care over this period and keep your pets safe.

Thunder Storms and Training

How to use Thunder Storms for Training

Not everyone gets excited about thunderstorms when they have dogs.  So when thunder started rolling mid-morning I Fozzie Beargot my first indication that my youngest dog is afraid of it.

I have two small dogs, neither of which has showed excessive noise sensitivity although the young seven month old did over-react during two large fireworks displays recently held in Hamilton.  The 7 month old puppy (Fozzie Bear) has not been through a thunderstorm before so when the first roll of thunder occurred in the distance he quickly ran away from the noise whilst looking over his shoulder.  I didn’t react, talk or follow him as he ran away; I just carried on working outside clearing the lawn of his toys.  Once he had stopped running and the thunder had stopped rolling I found his ball and started throwing the ball with him.  He immediately started running after the ball and bringing it back.  Whilst playing, another roll of thunder occurred.  Although he stopped running after his ball, I quickly ran in the direction I had thrown his ball with lots of laughing and gusto to get him back on track.  After standing still for a few seconds whilst the thunder carried on rolling and seeing no negative reactions from either myself or my other dog he ran after us to carry on playing with the ball, which I had now picked up and threw again.

During the initial ball game the thunder was off in the distance so not directly over us to cause too many concerns.  However, the storm’s direction changed and it slowly moved closer to us, flashes of lightning now accompanied the louder rolls of thunder.  By this stage I was working in the garage tidying up a variety of boxes that had got wet due to the torrential rain we had had which came through the holes in the garage roof.

The thunder was amazing as it wasn’t just a clap of thunder, it was long rolls that lasted from 20 seconds to well over a minute, and the storm itself lasted from late morning to well into the late afternoon.  This was indeed a rare opportunity to do some thunderstorm work with Fozzie.

I played with Fozzie outside until I saw the first flash of lightning.  It was also becoming a lot darker as the thunderstorm moved towards us, so I moved into the garage which is crammed with boxes still yet to be unpacked since moving in.  Whilst pottering around in the garage the thunder and lightning occurred more often, both gaining force as they swept closer.  Fozzie, by this stage, would stop at the sound of a thunder roll but he was no longer running away from it – in fact he was now looking around for his ball.  When he found his ball I would throw it within the confined space of the garage, however, due to it going outside the garage doors a few times I found another toy that we could play tug with as the lightning was a little closer than I would have liked and I didn’t want to risk Fozzie getting zapped whilst chasing the ball!

The thunder was now rolling a lot more frequently, louder and longer and although Fozzie was at this stage stopping at the sound of thunder he was no longer reacting by fleeing.  In fact, he wandered around the garage until he found a box with some old dog blankets in and curled up and went to sleep.  At one stage the thunder was directly above us as it clapped loudly shaking the windows and was followed by a particularly heavy downpour of rain and quite rightly Fozzie sat bolt upright.  He looked at me and then at Ollie, my other dog, before he curled up again and went back to sleep.

After this particular roll of thunder I decided that once the rain had stopped pelting down I would close up the garage and return to the house.  It took about 10 minutes for the rain to subside enough for us all to run into the safety of the house..

Fozzie & OllieOnce in the house, although we were better protected from the storm I started by playing a game of tug with Fozzie (an attempt at generalising the learning he was doing).  With the next roll of thunder Fozzie, who was playing a good game of tug with Ollie, didn’t release the tug toy, but moved his eyes to look around and gently tugged on the toy in different directions to check everything was okay.  Once he had carried out this check he appeared settled enough to continue playing the game of tug.  Ollie and Fozzie played this game on and off for 20 minutes. After the training sessions and games of tug, and whilst the storm was still overhead, Fozzie spent the rest of his time sleeping.  The thunder rolls were happening less frequently as the storm slowly moved away from our location.

But what will happen next time?  I don’t know, but today I used Counter Conditioning to reduce Fozzie’s ‘flight’ response when he heard the rolling of thunder (aversive stimulus) by playing ball with him and remained calm and unconcerned as each clap or roll of thunder occurred.This whole process was worked on throughout the period of the stormy.  It was a unique opportunity as I cannot remember a thunder storm that lasted 5 or 6 hours, whilst moving extremely slowly over the city.

Throughout this process I watched Fozzie’s reactions to check that no undue pressure (getting him to complete something that he didn’t want to do whilst the thunder was rolling) or stress (making him more anxious) was placed on him throughout the storm and either applied pressure by eliciting play by throwing the ball or removing it by pottering around doing my own thing.

It was fortunate that Fozzie’s reaction to thunder was not excessive and through many  short, but positive, training sessions throughout the day his behaviour indicated that he became less anxious of the sound of thunder.

I carried out a similar process with my English Pointer Rupert Bear, and the spin cycle of my washing machine, but that’s another story…

Steve White’s Seminar 2013

Post Steve White’s seminar in Feb 2012…

Steve was in New Zealand for the first time to share his passion and enjoyment in training dogs. With his vast experience in training dogs in various service related roles, he captured people’s training imagination within a short time on the first day when working through reading a dogs body language.  Fluency and generalisation in training were covered on day two and three in Auckland, including the introduction of forms to assist with record keeping and understanding base lining of our dogs.

Some people attended Auckland’s Friday session only whilst others attended all five days in Auckland and Wellington.

Friday 17 Feb – Thousand Hour Eyes: a combination of theory and practical, using demo dogs who did a great job of showing the participants different body language which allowed the participants to identify and share their findings to the rest of the group.

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 Feb – Raising the BaR: Steve started by helping us understand the importance of working through what our expected training outcome is and then breaking it down into bite size chunks.  He gave the participants a form to complete, and then they worked in groups with the five people that had their dogs as part of this two day workshop.  Groups of participants without dogs worked with each of the people with dogs to review their training requirement and then report back on it.  It was a very interactive session and once the first form had been filled, each group reported back on what they saw during the session.  This session alone helped people understand the importance of understanding exactly what the trainer is trying to achieve before they start training.  Some of the reporting identified the different expectations of change between the trainer, the coach and the rest of the team.  Mind blowing.  As this two day session evolved so did the expectations within each of the groups.  The groups trainer (with dog) was giving more details of expected outcomes of behaviours in very specific terms allowing the coaches and reviewers to utilise a more detailed report allowing a better understanding of achievement in the training.

The Wellington sessions consisted of a one day scent workshop and a one day tracking workshop.

Saturday 25 Feb: Scentsational  The scent workshop opened our eyes to accessing the power of the dogs nose and an extraordinary number of opportunities for us to utilise this skill in our everyday lives.  Five dogs were used for this workshop: four of them using operant conditioning and one using classical conditioning.

Sunday 26 Feb: HITT Workshop The scent workshop led nicely into the tracking workshop on the Sunday.  Some attendees were already involved in tracking, however, the Hydration Intensified Tracking Training method focuses on teaching you how to build your training skills to the point where you can concentrate on the art of training rather than the mechanics. Special emphasis is made on how to teach yourself to make good training decisions quickly with the minimum amount of information necessary.

Steve’s trip down under was short but full of great information with fun filled sessions, lots of great questions, humour galore and so, so much learning.

In between the two seminars Steve and I travelled slowly down the North Island from Auckland to Wellington via Hamilton, Rotorua and Levin.  As we travelled down country we went through the corrugation iron art capital of NZ, Tirau.

Steve was amazed by the variety of different sculptures that were created, including videoing the giant iron dog as I slowly drove down the empty mainstreet! There were other examples of artists corregated work throughout Tirau.

Rotorua was a definite high spot where we stayed with friends of mine who live the good life…amazing veggie gardens that produced everything for dinner.  It was hard to leave the next day after an amazing breakfast with a table again groaning with lots of fresh food…and best of all the awesome company of my friends and theirs who also stayed.

A trip to Huka falls, and stopped at Hunterville, the home of the Huntaway was the full extent of sight seeing as it rained all the way down and Mt Ruapehu certainly didn’t look like this as it was shrouded by low cloud as Steve drove the desert road!

Steve was an exceptional speaker who shared his learning successes with us. We look forward to Steve and Jen returning to Middle Earth at some stage in the not too distant future.

Dr Sophia Yin’s Tour

Dr Sophia Yin’s NZ Tour 2012

Since arriving Sophia has visited One Tree Hill in Greenlane.  We drove up to the top of the hill where sheep and their lambs were wandering around and gave many opportunities for taking great shots.

At the top of the hill, Sophia was able to Auckland from the far west through to far south…in-between heavy rain clouds.  We stopped to take some close-ups of the parks animals including two chickens that are not co-habitating with the parks flock of pigeons.  As well as taking a photo of the local doggie doo bins that are spotted around the park.  Many of the spring flowers had bloomed and gave a good backdrop for the wedding that we drove past having their photos taken next to the parks resident cattle. It was a great day of talking about dogs and visiting organisations that rely on dogs to complete their work, which was so much fun.

Thursday started with an unexpected tiki tour of west and central Auckland whilst trying to make our way to Gulf Harbour to catch the ferry to Tiritiri Matangi.  The weather was not the best for the trip, as shortly after we arrived at Tiri it poured with rain.  Even so, it was an awesome day of finding many of the endangered birds of NZ whilst walking from the jetty through the Wattle track and eventually leading to the cafe at the lighthouse. Whilst at the cafe next to the lighthouse, the Takahe came over to investigate the people sitting at the picnic tables.  It was a great photo opportunity for everyone.


Friday through to Sunday was the seminar days where attendees came from around New Zealand.  Learning About Dogs events are not for one group of people they are anyone that is involved with handling and training of animals.  On this occassion we had dog trainers, animal control, vets, vets nurses, PhD students, psychologist to name a few roles.  The networking opportunity whilst learning, and watching Dr Sophia take handling sessions was phenomenal with lots of new contacts made and positive feedback throughout the weekend.  The handling sessions gave an insight into how Sophia trains Learn to Earn, and showed the rapid response from the demonstration dogs that were used.

On Monday we traveled to West Auckland to watch Teresa Borrell run through of her gun dog training techniques.  Teresa uses positive training methods for her dogs which all of us attending were thrilled to hear about. After West Auckland we then traveled to the airport for a visit to the MPI Dog Detection unit.  Allan Willox showed us some new recruits in training and explained how they train the airport dogs for locating of foodstuffs and other items that people attempt to smuggle in.

Teresa has attended several of Learning About Dogs events and Teresa explained how she learns different techniques from each speaker and how she applies it into her training of Gun Dogs for hunting and competing in the many competitions around the country.

Then onto Guide Dog Services where Denise Ireland took us around the various units within this organisation in South Auckland.  Obviously the best unit is always the ones with puppies in, and this visit was no exception.  There was one litter in the unit which we were privileged to be able to hold for this photo opportunity.  More information about Guide Dog Services and how you are able to support this organisation.

Then we drove down to Hamilton for the night, ready for the next day where Sophia visited Waikato University.  Sophia was taken by Clare Browne who is currently undertaking a PhD relating to the timing of a dog completing a behaviour correctly and being rewarded, to attend Clare’s lecture and be shown around the university’s training facility, as well as Hamilton gardens.

On Wednesday, Sophia ventured into Waitomo Caves for an experience of a lifetime and see the wonderful NZ glow worms.  It was a 5 hour trip which was undertaken in wet suits and gum boots!  After Sophia had warmed up with soup supplied by the black water rafting company, we drove to Otorohonga and visited the Kiwi House and Native Bird Park.  This gave Sophia to see a captive kiwi wandering around in their dark enclosure.  There was also the Kaka, Kea, teal duck and Whio for viewing, but sometimes the native ducks were hard to pick out of the numerous common ducks that take the opportunity to land on the water ways throughout this park.  It was a great visit and they do exceptional work in helping to rehabilitate or house native birds that have been injured for either releasing or remaining with them for their own safety.  Recommended place to visit.

Thursday started out with an early drive up to Auckland to catch a flight to Palmerston North.  Whilst waiting for the boarding call, we met up with Rachel from Novartis.  We were all chatting so much we missed the final boarding call, and on hearing our names paged we ran to the gate in preparation for boarding.  Sophia had to plead her case to take her hand luggage and eventually we boarded the aircraft.  We were met at the airport by Rachael Stratton, from Massey where we were taken to our hotel and then onto Massey University to prepare for the afternoon and evening lectures.  What an exceptional turn out by the veterinary and veterinary nurse students. The seminar ran late into the evening with us eventually leaving Massey around 10:30.

Friday was an early start that took us to Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin!  After leaving Palmerston at 7:00am we arrived in Dunedin at 2:30pm.  Krystal Kelly met us and took us to drop our bags off at the hotel, and then onto Otago Polytechnic to set up in preparation for the cat seminar that evening, and the two day seminar over the weekend. What a great time during the seminar at Otago Polytech.

The facilities were close to the hotel so it was a leisurely walk down to the training room each day.  Sophia went for a run each morning along the river bank and around the area we were staying, which was close to the new stadium or Cake Tin!  The Dunedin attendees were fabulous with lots of interaction during the session, and the dogs handling sessions were stunning.  It was great to meet so many people from the South Island that are interested in reviewing their training techniques and take on some that Sophia spoke about.

This was an awesome two weeks with Sophia Yin who works hard both in and out of the seminars and I am sure needed to go home for a rest after a further two seminars in Australia.  There wasn’t very much down time for her, so I am sure that the next time Sophia comes down to NZ, she will probably come for a little longer than a week and a half.

Thanks Sophia for the excellent seminars in Auckand, Massey and Dunedin, and look forward to catching up with you sometime in the future.


Why teach your dog to sit (or another strong behaviour)?

Whenever I train a new dog, I always place great emphasis on one behaviour over any other…and that is the Sit.  I work really hard to get the dog to sit in-front, behind, at the side, away from me, with duration, and have the ability to sit anywhere that I ask on the first request and fast.

But why is this so important.  I believe that when you have a dog, you should always have safety at the back of your mind. Safety for both of you, not just yourself.  So here are some of the many reasons why I train dogs to have a really strong sit:

Sit at the doorway

  • To allow you to enter or exit the doorway either first or last (your choice).  If they are sitting at the doorway, it means that if you have your hands full, you can walk through the doorway safely without having a dog trip you over halfway through.
  • If you have multiple dogs that are sitting at the door waiting to go out, it allows you to release them individually when you say their name…this one takes a bit of practice
  • If you have friends coming round, you don’t want a dog to be jumping up on them, so ask the dog to sit at the doorway and allow your friends to enter before you release your dog

Sit before exiting the car:

  • If the leash is not already attached to the dog, asking the dog to sit allows you to attach the leash
  • A training opportunity where the dog doesn’t get out of the car before it has presented you with a really strong sit…there is a really strong and exciting reward outside of the car (unless you are at the vets but that’s another blog)

Sit anywhere:

  • Practice the sitting both on and off leash everywhere that you go.  Do this is small chunks though, do not go from the lounge to the local park and expect your dog to sit the same as it does at home
  • Practice in the kitchen, lounge, balcony, back and front garden, etc. and get them consistent in each of those places
  • Practice the sit in different rooms in the house, then ask for the sit whilst you are not in the room.  Use someone else or a camera to check that they are sitting, but only try this exercise once the dog is working well
Most importantly, if you have a strong sit (or other behaviour) it means that you have the ability to stop your dog in its tracks and prevent it from running across a road and being hit or causing an accident, or chasing animals…don’t let this happen to you….Fenton

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

As one year ends and another one starts, we need to be aware of our animal friends.

Here we come 2012

For those of you that have ‘squirreled’ away some fireworks for when the clock strikes midnight, please take care of your animals (dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, pigs etc.) by providing them a safe place away from the loud noises and cracks that the fireworks will make.

If you don’t have pets, then please let your neighbours who do have pets know that you are letting off fireworks so they can prepare their pets for the evening.

Be pet aware tonight whilst you enjoy the celebrations of bringing in 2014 and don’t forget to make a new years resolutions which include all of your pets needs as well as your own.

Happy New Year Everyone from Learning About Dogs, and we would like to hear what new years resolutions or changes you will be making this year that includes your pet, and look forward to working with you all again in the New Year…

Dog Training Classes…

Dog Training Classes…

Were you given a puppy or did you go to the local pound or SPCA and adopted a dog, or two, recently and now second guessing that decision or wondering what happens next?

Where have all the ‘plug and play’ dogs gone where they knew how to sit, play with other dogs, down and were house trained when you got them?  Unfortunately…they never existed, and what’s more you, the owner, needs to put in a lot of time into training of the dog so it becomes a polite member of the family.

How can you train them?
Well usually it becomes the responsibility of someone within the family to train the dog the basics (house training, sit, down, come back when called, no biting to start with), but where do you go to learn how to train your puppy or dog these behaviours?

There are numerous trainers around NZ that can help you with the training of your puppy or dog, from your local vet clinic through to professional dog trainers and dog behaviourists…but which one is best for your family and dog?

Find a Local Class that suits you and your Family

Get a Referral: Ask friends and family who have a dog where they took their dog to and what they liked about their classes.

Search for trainers in your area: Go through the Yellow Pages or Surf the internet to find dog clubs, trainers or classes in your area.

Once you have found the classes in your area, contact them and find out when their classes start and go and watch them teaching a class.  If they won’t let you watch a class, then ask yourself, what do they have to hide?

When watching the class:

  • how many trainers do they have to class members, a good gauge is 1 trainer to 6, max of 8 attendees with dogs
  • Is all the family included in the training classes?  Having young and older children in the class gives more training opportunities to everyone with their dogs
  • Are they teaching the class about dogs’ body language and how to read and understand it?
    Miscommunication is one of the major causes of ‘dogs behaving badly’.  We may have taught them the wrong behaviour, or the dogs don’t understand what is being asked of them
  • Do they give the class attendees information at the end of the class with further information on what they have learned during the class?
  • Is the class run ‘on’ or ‘off” leash? Do they ask for the dogs to have a flat collar or a choke chain?  Do they have ‘controlled’ off leash sessions for the puppies, so they don’t get out of hand?
  • Do they use touch to apply pressure to the dog for it to learn how behaviours such as Sit and Down, or do they use food as a lure, or clicker training?
  • And most importantly do the people at the course look like they are having fun and enjoying themselves and can you talk to some of them to get an their opinion of the classes and how they are run?

These are all questions that you can ask yourself whilst watching or when you contact the training facility.  The main question you have to answer is: Does this training class use training methods that fit with your family and going to help us have a safe and friendly dog?

There is no fast and easy solution to training your dog, but with a good dog training class and lots of practice, both you and your dog will grow a happy and long partnership. 

Crate Training Opportunities

Making Crate Training Fun

Last night I had a friends dog stay with me overnight.   Not one for letting unknown dogs run loose in the house, I decided to use the show crate that I have to keep him safe overnight.

What a great opportunity to do some crate training and crate games.  The unfortunate side was that I didn’t capture the work on camera to show you!

Anyway, Tramp hadn’t been crated before, so seeing the show trolley for the first time was very overwhelming for him.  So as he took each tentative step towards the show trolley he got a click and treat.  When he walked off he got nothing.   I spent a short time repeating this and then stopped for a break.

After the short break, I started the process again, but increased the approximations (I expected more from Tramp than previously) bit by bit and he got closer and closer until he jumped into the crate.  JACKPOT!

Whilst in the crate I gave several click & treats, and then clicked and threw the food outside the crate.  Tramp duly ran out of the crate, grabbed the food and then rushed back into the crate!  BINGO…what a great result after a few short session.  Over the next few hours, we did several short training sessions, where he was rewarded for being in the crate, including extending the length of time within.

Eventually at bedtime, Tramp was let outside for his last pee of the night, and on his return asked to go into the crate, where he had a chew toy.  Tramp was quiet throughout the night and didn’t have any accidents, which was good, but I still play some Crate games with him occasionally.

What games do you play with your dogs to get them comfortable with staying in a crate?

Christmas Time

Look after your pets this Christmas:

This information below is not about excluding your pet during the festive season, but to keep them safe during the season of increased noise, large number of guests visiting, temptations of food left in easy access and stress.  Dogs, and cats, are part of our family and we need to take their welfare into account, particularly during this time.

Traveling or day trips

  • Take plenty of fresh water with you to the beach, not only for yourselves but also for your dogs.  Too much salt water can make your dogs very sick
  • Take shade for all of you and check that your dog sits in the shade
  • If you have a light coloured dog, check with your vet to see if you need to use sun cream on them.  They can also suffer from skin cancer
  • Check the temperature of the sand before you take your dog, or toddler, on it by walking on it yourself in bare feet.  If you cannot walk on it, dont let your dog.  There paws are more sensitive than our feet and can burn easily

Christmas food and drinks

  • Chocolate, although a favourite for us it is not something that our dogs should not eat.  Find the dog friendly chocolate drops if you really want to give them chocolate
  • Other foods that your dog will have access too over the Christmas period that is not good for them are:
    • Grapes: Although there is no understanding of why grapes are bad for dogs, it is known that grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs, so best to store the Christmas fruit out of reach of your pets
    • Ham, ham fat: Ham has been preserved usually with a brine solution inserted into the pork leg.  Too much salt in a dogs diet can cause them to be really sick
    • Avocado: The substance called persin in Avocado can, in large quantities, be toxic to dogs.  Although we humans are not allergic to persin, dogs are far more sensitive.  So watch the puppies, or older dogs that like to chew things, if you have a tree at home as they could well chew on the bark, leaves and seeds of the tree, where persin is also found.
    • Onions and Garlic: Although garlic is fed in moderation to help with the control of worms, and excess of both onions and garlic can cause a disruption in the red blood cells leading to possible anemia
    • Macadamia nuts: As few as six raw or roasted macadamia nuts can make a dog ill. Symptoms of poisoning include muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters, vomiting, elevated body temperature, and rapid heart rate. Eating chocolate with the nuts will make symptoms worse, possibly leading to death
    • Cakes and other sweet items:  Anything that contains high sugar and fat can cause a large number of issues with your dog.
  • Alcohol is not a good idea to feed your dog.  Although they would love the opportunity to join you as you toast the queen at the end of her speech the affect on the dog is the same as in humans, only faster, with possible disastrous consequences.  It could case a loss of mobility, and increase unwanted behavoural issues
  • Tea and coffee contain the stimulant caffeine, which gives dogs the same side effects as humans, but with disastrous results. Put tea and coffee cups out of reach of dogs and cats to prevent them accessing the remnants in the bottom of your cups
Trees and Decorations

  • Ornaments on the tree can be very attractive to both cats and dogs.  Put the expensive or breakable ornaments away from both their paws…and whipping tails
  • If you have a Pine tree, remember to clean up the fallen pine needles everyday so they don’t get caught in your dog or cats paws
  • If you are given a kitten for Christmas, remember they like to climb trees.  The Christmas tree may be its first great tree adventure…as well as the curtains!
Looking after your dog:
  • Make sure your dogs will be safe when family and friends are visiting you.
  • If you want to separate them when visitors come, put them safely in their crate or kennel and run with a bone or stuffed Squirrel Dude away from guest and then bring them out later when everyone has settled into your home
  • If your dog is anxious or has behavioural issues, place them in a safe secluded area with the radio playing away from the guest, with a bone or stuffed Squirrel Dude

Wrap up your dogs favourite toy in wrapping paper and let them open it on Christmas day whilst everyone else is doing the same with their own pressies.  But most of all more than anything else, have fun with your pets these Christmas holidays, enjoy your time with them.

Merry Christmas, and we look forward to talking to, and meeting, you again in 2013.