Kay9 Dog Blog!
It’s important for all dogs regardless of age, to learn to entertain themselves sometimes (especially when we spend a lot of time at home, different to the ‘norm’ such as lockdown, Christmas holidays, half term etc). There may be times when you’re busy or working from home, that the dog need to learn and understand there will be times that you are not available to them. We start this process off with short periods and build it gradually, in order to be more successful, so be prepared to spend a bit of time with it at first.
We’re going to teach the dog that not being available to them means: I am here, in the same room as you, but I wont be looking at you, touching you, or talking to you for a short while.
You’re going to need something for both you and your dog to do, during this training period. For the dog, a pre-stuffed Kong, likkimat or chew (one that takes at least 10 minutes for your dog to eat) etc and for you, a cuppa and newspaper, TV, or working at the computer. If you do not have anything to do, you will probably sit and watch the dog! This means that your attention is on them and therefore, the dog is not learning ‘chill time’ because they still have your attention.
The dog needs something to do (self employment) otherwise they will want your attention, if they are used to getting it constantly or want it if they fancy a play with you etc., Of course you can still play with your dog at other times, but chill times, nothing happens between you and your dog. Not even eye contact.
Preparation is key. Prepare the Kong etc and make yourself a cuppa. Now give the Kong to the dog and say "Chill time"! He will probably take it to a place he likes to sit when enjoying something nice. Make a note of the time at this point. We need to know roughly how long it takes your dog to devour the Kong, likki mat or chew etc., This is your baseline chill time. Let’s say this is 10 minutes.
So, 10 minutes have passed, and your dog has `been self employed for this time and has now finished his Kong. Does he start bothering you? Whining, pacing or does he lay down still where he was enjoying the Kong? If he is still quiet, not bothering you, maybe he started to play with a toy on his own etc. If so, keep the clock running. This is still ‘chill/entertaining himself time’. You should only stop the clock if your dog whines, barks at you, paws at you etc., all indications that he is not coping with having to entertain himself and is trying to engage you in some form of interaction with him. Then stop the clock. But if he has finished his Kong and is now doing nothing, keep the clock running for 60 seconds and then calmly end the chill time by looking at him and calmly speaking to him. The next time you do a 'Chill Time' you have your 10 minutes baseline and now extend the time by 2 minutes. Then 3, then 4, so that gradually, you are extending chill time and the dog is learning that once the Kong has gone, he's on his own to employ himself or find something to do that doesn't involve you OR better still, relax and do nothing.
Click on the links below to see previous Kay9 Dog Blogs.....
Keep a small pot of treats by the front door, or readily available in the fridge, so that when someone is at the door or entering the house, you can take a few treats out of the pot before opening the door and throw them on the floor making sure that you do this in the opposite direction to the door so that the dog moves away from the door and not towards it. You should ensure that they are always thrown in the same place as much as possible.
In time the dogs will learn that when someone comes through the door, treats will arrive on the floor and they will go to where the treats usually are ‘delivered’. The treats will also (if high enough value) out trump the visitors (they must ignore the dogs completely and keep their entrance to a minimum excitement level, so advise them not to speak, look at or attempt to touch the dog).
In time, you will be able to ask the dog to sit for the treats and they will sit to get a treat and not come forward to greet visitors until asked to do so if appropriate. Dogs that are nervous of strangers, might never choose to interact with your visitors so always ensure that you’re not putting additional stress on them by asking them to interact when they don’t want to.
You can also ask your visitors (after an initial time period of you delivering the treats), to administer the treats, by asking them to throw the treat behind the dog, so that he has a choice to move away (keeping his anxiety down rather increasing by asking him to continually approach for treats). The dog will retreat and choose to come forward again. At this point the visitor throws another treat.
To gain access to the property, visitors should move one step forward when the dog is retreating for the food and NOT walk directly towards the dog.
You should always give the dog a Kong with something lickable in so that he can make an assessment that visitors mean good things happen for him and licking is calming.
....... because when a dog sits, he LOOKS at you. Looking is listening becomes earning! So, it’s a great and easy way to teach your dog that looking at you is a good thing for him, because it gets him what he wants and quickly! At the speed of a sit!
From now on you should like you to ask the dog to sit for EVERYTHING he wants.
• Opening the door to go out, sit.
• Be given his dinner, sit.
• Open the door to go for a walk, sit.
• Anything else he wants, sit.
After a while he will offer a sit for things that he wants and then he will be much calmer instead of everything he wants exciting him to the point he loses control and jumps up etc. Thinking promotes calmness, so it’s good for your dog to think about things and work out how to get the things he wants.
When we enter a program of training that is highly likely to take a few months or more, it is easy to sometimes get frustrated and/or feel that things just are not going right. If this happens, here is a few tips:
Look at the training successes week on week. Is it better this week than last? If yes, you are going in the right direction so keep going! If not, then you should drop criteria a little and go back a few steps in your training to allow you and your dog to catch up, start getting some parts correct because you have dropped criteria and this sill spur you both on to accelerate again. If you still find that things are not improving, it is time to call me so that we can discuss and see where things are holding you back.
Take a break.
When things are not going right and you feel frustrated, take a break! Simple as that. Go and do something else OR do something that you and your dog are good at, so that you CAN be successful together.
If you are trying to change a behaviour from one thing to another and things are not going right, switch off from the dog completely for a while, so that you can both be calmer before you try again. Remember not to touch, talk, or look at the dog if you are trying to calm him down because the training did not go so well because he was too excited. But whilst you are doing this, make sure you are doing something else. If you are just sitting still, he will continue to expect interaction from you, rather than if you are engaged in doing something.
For example, dogs do not pull on a lead to eat chicken! They pull because they want to go forward so THAT is what the dog wants at that moment in time. Therefore, movement is what you should give your dog when he stops pulling as soon as the lead goes loose.
You as your dog’s owner, already have three built in rewards that are highly rewarding to your dog. They are: Your voice, your touch and you looking at them. If you give all three together, that could be considered a HUGE bonus. So, if for example you are trying to power-down your dog and switch him off from interaction with you or the environment, you should remove one of these rewards one at a time.
There are three types of rewards that you always have with you. They are:
• Your voice – Speaking to your dog, praising them is a reward
• Your touch – Your hand stroking the dog etc is a reward
• Your eyes – When you look at your dog, this is also a reward
All of the above are immediately available reinforcers of behaviour to encourage something to happen again and again. If you do one of them, that’s a nice reward for the dog, but if you do two at once, looking at the dog AND talking to him, that’s a bonus reward. If you do all three at once, that’s a huge fat bonus for the dog and something he will relish and try to get often. Save the huge fat bonuses for when you really need them 😊
When you don’t have a treat or toy or anything else to reinforce with, use one of these valuable rewards instead or in the interim until you have something else, although your dog will be happy with one of them and not necessarily require an addition reward. This also make YOU a primary reinforcer to your dog.
Anything else becomes secondary.
Here are a few steps to getting your dog not to shy away from the harness:
If his harness is a little tight going over his head, he will likely back off when putting on.
Unfortunately, with most harnesses that required having to go over the dog’s head, they sometimes get a little apprehensive, especially if it is a little too tight and squashes their ears etc.,
Also, because the adjusters cannot be moved to make it bigger, it probably could do with being replaced to another size or type, as it is also a little too tight around his middle.
My personal favourite harness is called a ‘Perfect Fit’ and is available from HERE
1. Get the harness out and leave it on the floor and carry one with whatever you are doing. Occasionally, pick it up and carry one doing other things not related to the harness. This is so that your dog sees you doing something with the harness, but also sees that you are NOT going to bring it to them. Hence no more resins to run away from you and the harness. Do this for approx. one hour for a few days.
2. Now we add an element of fun to the harness, but still make no attempt to take it towards the dog. Leave it on the floor and away from the harness, ask your dog to sit and wait. Get out your dog’s favourite treats and place one on the carpet towards the harness, but away from it. Then stand at the side of the dog (away from the harness) and send the dog to eat the treat. Bring the dog back to the original position and ask for a sit. Now place a treat as before and also another treat a foot towards the harness. Return to the side of the dog and send them to go and eat the treat. Repeat a few more times and then add a third, fourth, fifth treat until the last one is right next to the harness. Whilst the dog is moving towards the harness you must stay where you are and not move towards the harness.
3. Introduce the harness gently, by sitting on the floor next to the harness and place treats on the floor in and around the harness and allow the dog to come in and go away if he feels he needs to but do not try to put the harness on the dog yet!
4. Place your hand through the harness so that your dog sees the treat in your hand ad can come and eat it. Very gradually and slowly, start to offer the treat hand so that the dog has to come closer to the harness. Do not rush this stage and expect the dog to put his head through the harness, It MUST be done in small stages.
5. The dog should eventually push against the harness in order to reach the treat in your hand and eventually the harness will slip over the head. Give lots of treats at this point as a bonus.
6. To remove the harness, place a few treats on the floor so that the harness can slip off whilst the dog is looking down and eating the treats.
What you interpret as enjoyment might be your dog simply enduring the moment, or even barely contained dislike for what is happening.
Do dogs really like hugs? The short answer is not really. But the full answer is much more complex.
While some dogs make it abundantly clear that hugs are not tolerated, others might simply let the moment pass without comment. And others might absolutely adore hugs from you, their trusted companion, but not from other humans.
Why is this? Aren't dogs humans' best friends, craving affection from us? Don't they think hugs are as wonderful as a belly rub or rump scratch?
It's important to get one thing clear: just because your dog might not like your hugs does not mean he doesn't love you with all his heart. It's hard for many of us to think that our dogs don't enjoy our hugs because to us, hugs are a primary way we show affection.
Our dogs do love us. Yet they love us in their canid way while we love them in our primate way. We are two very different species who have, miraculously, managed to become intimately linked through our evolutionary history. Even so, thousands of years of co-evolution doesn't quite erase millions of years of separate species evolution. And that's why we have to get into the social science of what a hug is to a dog.
You might already know exactly how your dog feels about hugs. If your dog leans into you and adamantly snuggles up, it's safe to say he likes hugs just fine. If he gets up and walk away (or leaps away) when you lean in, it's safe to say he doesn't like them at all. But many of us don't actually know how our dog is reacting to hugs.
One of the best ways that I’ve found to help people decide whether their dog likes it or not, is to hug your dog and have someone take a picture. When we hug our dogs, we don’t see their face, yet people will say, 'My dog loves it!' But when they see the picture they then see that in fact the dog does not like being hugged after all.
Sometimes we need to use a high value treat that we know our dogs loves, in order to try to guarantee compliance. I have made this recipe for many years and not found a dog yet, that didn’t like it! It is easy and very cheap to make and if you make it yourself, you know exactly what is in it!
I recommend that when we are trying to make a NEW association to something it is best to use a treat which the dog ONLY gets for this type of training. Your Homemade treats are often considered by dogs as the ultimate treat – your £50 or 'top dollar' treat!
Here is how to make it:
• A whole chicken (with giblets even better) or a bag of chicken carcasses from the butcher (mega cheap but still as good)
• Some flour (any)
• An egg
• 2 cloves of garlic • Bicarbonate of soda ¼ tsp
• A cup of milk
• A chicken stock cube
1. Roast the chicken as per the cooking instructions
2. While chicken is cooking, mix the stock cube with some boiling water and leave to get cold
3. When chicken is cooked remove as much meat as possible, cover and leave to stand
4. With a large chopping knife, smash the remaining carcass (as is, skin and all) into small pieces and crush as many bones as possible.
5. Place smashed carcass into a pot and add water so that it only just covers the carcass.
6. Cover and Simmer for a couple of hours.
7. When done leave to stand to temperature to touch
8. Using your fingers, feel for and remove all bones and discard them. Keep all the residual meat, skin and cartilage and the lovely jelly the waters turned into
9. Place the filtered carcass mass into a liquidizer/blender so that it becomes a smooth mush ☺️
10. Roughly chop the cooked chicken and add to the blender. (Keep some back to add in later if you want some chunky pieces of chicken in your treats).
11. Now add all the other ingredients except the flour
12. Add the flour gradually until it resembles a cake mixture consistency. (If you kept back some chunky bits of chicken, now add them to the mix and stir in).
13. Line a baking tray with baking paper and add cake mix. Spread out contents evenly and bake until skewer comes out clean.
14. Chop when cool into small squares and bag up portions to freeze.
If you want some crunchy treats and some softer, return half to the oven once chopped up, spread out on a backing sheet and put in the over to dry out a little until they are crunchy.
Using the above recipe, you can also make a variation of treats by substituting the chicken and stock cube for:
• A pack of liver and a relevant stock cube
• 2 x tins of tuna and a fish stock cube
• 2 x salmon and a fish stock cube
• 1 packet of grated cheese and a vegetable stock cube
• Leftovers such as sausages, potatoes, other vegetables and a stock cube
• Old packets of treats from the cupboard and a stock cube
• A tin of Corned Beef
You can also add Turmeric which is scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's and cancer. It's a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
Other types of home treats are:
Lambs Hearts: Gently poach in water (a slow cooker is ideal for this) and just cover with water. Cook thoroughly and once cooked you can chop into small pieces. Some can remain in the fridge soft and some you can place on a baking tray and put into the over on a low heat to dry out for an extra tasty crunch.
Keep all the stock created whilst cooking and use as a tasty gravy over dinners for a few days or soaking kibble in for stuffing into Kongs for future use.
For a change in texture, you can leave half as they are and put the other half on a baking tray and place in the oven at 200®C for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. This is to dry them out and make them crunchy.
Knuckle Joints from the Butchers: These are great teeth cleaners. Never leave your dog unattended in case of choking. After the dog has finished with the bones, slow cook it to get all the tasty goodness out and as above, use for a tasty gravy poured over dinners or soaking kibble for Kongs etc.,-
The dog must not be given the bone after it has been cooked.
You want your dog to stay wherever and whenever you give the command, not just in the room where you trained it, and this takes practice.
To understand why proofing is important, you must first be able to understand how your dog thinks. Dogs can’t generalize the way people do. This simply means that your dog may understand what "sit" means when you give the command in your kitchen, but it may not understand that it means the same thing later on, or in a different place.
Failing to proof behaviours is the reason why your dog may perform behaviours well in your living room but forget all its training the minute you leave the house.
Imagine you are sitting at your dinner table, and your mother says, "Get your elbows off the table!" When she says this, you understand that this is the rule for all tables. You need to keep your elbows off this table and the table at your aunt's house and the table in a restaurant.
But if you were able to tell your dog to get its paws off the table, it would understand only that it wasn't allowed to put its paws on this table. Dogs are not able to generalize, so they won't understand that the rule applies to every table.
When your dog can perform a behaviour on command as perfectly at the dog park as it does it in your kitchen, you can consider the behaviour proofed.
Practice in Different Settings
Once your dog can follow the new command with some distraction, begin practicing in different places, such as another room, the garden, and the neighbour's house.
For example, stop in the middle of walks and command your dog to sit, and even practice at the dog park, the vet's office, and before getting groomed. Proofing a behaviour means making sure a dog understands a command regardless of setting.
Keep each training session to about 10 minutes and stay upbeat even if your dog acts in the new setting like it never learned the command in the first place. It should now be able to perform the behaviour as well at any location as it does it in your living room. Once you've gotten to this point, the behaviour is proofed.
If your dog is struggling with a behaviour, after about 10 minutes have gone by, you're probably not going to get it to complete the action. End the training session with an easy command it already knows, so your dog doesn't feel like it's being punished.
Resume the training when the dog has had a break and can concentrate.
Problems and Proofing Behaviour
One of the biggest mistake’s owners make when training their dogs is inconsistency. If a dog is not allowed on the bed, but you occasionally let it come on the bed, you're not reinforcing the rule, and the dog will remember the instance when it was allowed on the bed.
This is how a lot of dogs learn to beg at the table. Someone, at some point, has dropped food on the floor or fed the dog from the table. The dog remembers that instance and will wait for it to occur again.
Being consistent with training also means being thorough. If you command your dog to sit, and it only sits for a few seconds, or gets halfway down on the floor but doesn't sit down, this is not behaviour to reward. Instead, keep practicing the command until the dog sits and remains sitting until you reward it.
It is also a useful way to ‘Turn Off’ their peripheral vision when the head is down sniffing at the floor. The cue you will teach for this activity is ‘find it’, but it should not be repeated, one you can see that the dog IS searching for the treats.
Before you take your dog for a walk in the street, go out first without the dog and lay down a few treats at your doorstep (preferably something that has a scent ad that you know your dog loves). Now place another few in a pile a few steps away and repeat down the road, a further 8 or so piles. Now go and fetch your dog.
When you get to the first pile take your flat hand down to the pile and say find it! If the dog IS searching, do not repeat the cue! Leave him to get on and enjoy this new activity in peace.
Take your hand down to the next pile and repeat the above. After doing this for the first 2-3 piles, your dog should now be actively searching for the treats, because he will have the scent that there is more. He will go into search mode and this is what we want to happen. His head is down, ignoring things on the horizon and concentrating on what he is doing, instead of doing the things he may have done in the past.
This is an activity that should be done frequently, but not for long periods. Exposure to the environment should be short and sweet, say 10 minutes each time. Then you simply come home, and your dog has had a good time sniffing for good stuff AND being in the environment that will start to feel and mean something different to him. Also, more importantly, all the sniffing will have calmed him and tired him a little.
If the weather is bad, do a short Sniffari. If you do not have time to walk your dog for the usual tie, do a Sniffari. You can do multiple sniffari’s instead of walks i.e., if you usually walk your dog for 60 minutes, you can do 6 x 10minute sniffari’s during the day.
Short sniffari’s are good to start a dog walk off too, so that they start calm and feeling good.
The Government states:
Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of Corona virus.
You should only leave the house for 1 of 4 reasons:
- Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home
So what does this mean for our dogs daily walks – the following information was correct at the time of writing and is a direct quote from the government website
Advice if you have symptoms of Corona virus and must remain at home for 7 days, or 14 days as a household
If your dog cannot exercise at home, you should ask someone outside of your household to walk your dog for you.
All non-essential trips to the vets should be avoided. If your pet needs urgent treatment, you must phone the vet to arrange the best approach to meet your pets’ needs.
Advice if you do not have symptoms of Corona virus
You may leave your house to exercise once a day and you should combine this with walking your dog. In doing so, it is important that you minimize the time spent outside of the home and remain 2 metres away from anyone outside of your household.
All non-essential trips to the vets should be avoided. If your pet needs urgent treatment, you may take them, but must remember to wash your hands and remain 2 metres away from anyone outside your household. You must call the vet before going to see them.
Advice for those walking dogs on behalf of someone not able to
You may also leave your house to provide care or help a vulnerable person. This includes walking a dog for someone who is unable to leave their house because they are self isolating or being shielded. You should remember to wash your hands before and after handling the dog and keep 2 metres away from other people and animals, including when handing over the dog to the owner.
(The government ask you stay local to walk your dog and do not drive to places.)
How will this effect my dog
Changes in your dogs routine and exercise levels could effect his behaviour. Your dog may have excess energy and lack stimulation.
To help you dog you can add some activities to his day
Pick a new trick to teach him each week – these will be posted on our FB page
start scent work games with you dog – take a look
Introduce him to brain games
Work on training/behaviour issues – a common one is barking out of the window
How else will the ‘lockdown’ affect my dog
It is likely that your dog spends most of their day asleep in a quiet home. Now however, the children are off school, you are likely to be working from home as well as undertaking your new job of ‘teacher’ add to this the financial worries and anxiety Covid-19 brings – home life can be stressful.
Our dogs will pick up on the changes to our daily lives as well as all the stress, so we need to be aware of this and presume that our dogs will behave differently.
Our dogs are likely to be tired as they will not have quiet, uninterrupted sleep like they are used to – many pet dogs sleep 12-14 hours a day, puppies and our elderly dogs sleep more – up to 20 hours. Just like us, lack of sleep may make your dog less patient, make pain more prominent and unwanted behaviour may show.
If you are on edge and stressed your dogs are super sensitive to our emotions so again this is likely to rub off on our dogs.
All of this together with a huge deficit of sleep can cause massive behaviour implications with our pet dogs due to an overdose of brain chemicals (dopamine, cortisol, adrenalin) released due to excitement, stress, frustration, anxiety etc.
With this in mind it is important that the whole family are aware that the usual tolerant dog may not be quite so tolerant now – accidents stand on their paw and they may growl or snap. The dog may take themselves off to a quiet corner of the home or to their bed – it is important that you leave him alone and let him be. They may be off their food if they are super – sensitive.
Another potential issue to consider is how will your dog cope when normality returns? Trainers and behaviourists predict a massive rise in dogs with separation related disorders – this is common after seasonal holidays such as Christmas.
Imagine how empty their day will be when you all go back to school/work. Quiet and lonely – some dogs may show unwanted behaviours and find coping strategies for example, barking, chewing, defecation and in severe cases self mutilation.
To prevent this ensure you build in times when your dog is in a different room to you, prevent them following you around the house – maybe leave them in the house when you put the washing out, give them games and activities that keep them busy so they are not focused on your whereabouts.
Maintain your dog’s routine as much as possible – walk, feed times. Remember if there are 2 people in the home – you could take your daily exercise separately and walk your dog twice
Ensure they have a quiet, safe place to sleep. Preferably the same space their bed usually is. Do not allow people to encroach his safe space and ensure that access to his space is not blocked by people, bags, furniture
Stick to his diet
Don’t be tempted to feed him lots of human food titbits – buy/make suitable healthy treats if you want to treat him but do not overdo it!!!!
Maintain your Contact/play
Your dog gains a lot of comfort and reassurance from you. If you usually cuddle your dog and they like it – continue to make time to do this, it release Oxytocin, a great feel-good chemical for both of you. If you play with your dog, make time to do this – it forms part of their routine, remember, a routine is good!
Allow your dog to de-stress
Just as we would take a bath, read a book, watch TV, knit etc to unwind we need to ensure that our dogs can do this too. Sniffing, licking and chewing are our dogs equivalent. Make a little course of obstacles made up of items that you can scatter food on for them to find, spread paste on for them to lick, hide crunchy food for them to chew. Courses should last 10 – 20 mins (I often feed my dogs dinner this way). Snuffle mats, licky mats are great to add to the course.
Just walking your dog with no agenda and allowing them to sniff everything and then everything again, can de stress your dog and allow them to reset.
THE GOLDEN RULE
Allow your dog to choose if he interacts with you or takes himself off to his bed. His bed/safe place is just that – no one bothers him there! If he is asleep, children must be told to leave him.
We switched online using Zoom and managed to successfully finish the courses and start others. We were also able to offer various online talks for anyone who wanted to attend, on various subjects, for a minimal fee. they were very popular and well attended.
Despite being allowed back to in person classes during the summer months, the success we had seen during our online learning saw us take the decision to keep the first 2 weeks of our courses online. Building the early ‘foundation’ exercises are key and we had seen that teaching these at home in an environment that the dog felt happy, relaxed and confident in was a huge success.
We saw our client’s dogs learn fast and strong, allowing behaviours to be transferred easily to the outside world, because they had been well practiced in a suitable environment.
At the time of writing this blog, we are on our 3rd Lockdown and COVID regulations which prevent any in person dog training or services, unless they are for welfare reasons. We never really got back to in-person outdoor sessions and we have not been to our lovely indoor venue for a long time!
Luckily our online courses were so effective and clients enjoyed the new format so the second and third lockdowns were not such a hassle as we were already online. We tweaked our delivery and used Zoom to deliver content and taught many puppies/adolescents/adult dogs and their guardians successfully online. We also conduct 121 behaviour consultations online!
Yesterday the government unveiled their lockdown exit plans to help us return to normality. However, Kay9 Services has decided not to return to normality. Not yet.
We must ensure that we are safe so that we can keep you safe. We will ensure that all trainers that come into personal contact with customers will have had their COVID19 vaccination. If you come to one of our classes, we would also suggest that you too have the vaccination prior to attending a class.
We understand that life is unpredictable, so don’t worry if you have to miss a class, our sessions are recorded and you’re provided with an array of resources handouts and videos via our online learning platform
Recording of our Zoom session
Certificate of participation
Access to your trainer between sessions, for support and accountability via a private Facebook page for clients only. You can also chat with other students and share your wins chat to like minded people.
The experience and insight we have gained over the last 12 months has allowed us to see so many positives to online learning for our dogs.
BUT – WHY DOES ONLINE LEARNING WORK SO WELL?
When you think about it, the answer is really quite simple.
All learning environments should be a place where the student feels relaxed, happy and safe. Look at our children in their classrooms, a familiar place, a safe place. We do not teach children their times table at soft play centre, because it’s loud it’s new. It’s got a multitude of stimuli and distractions. This makes learning harder and slower.
The speed and quality of learning in this environment can be compared to the efficiency and productivity many companies have witnessed during the lockdown from their employees and many are planning to continue with some home working.
SO, LET’S LOOK AT THE BENEFITS
We can start training earlier – puppies can start at eight weeks, as soon as you get them home as you don’t have to wait for vaccinations. You don’t have to have a stressful commute with a travel sick puppy or barking adolescent, or leave your home in all kinds of weather!
Your dog is ready to learn from the start of your lesson – they do not have to adapt to a new environment – smells, textures and other dogs and people.
Your dog does not have to cope with slippy floors, flickering lights, loud acoustics. All of these can effect the learning limitations of your dog.
During traditional classes, you feel pressured to have your dog working for the class duration – at home, if they are tired they can nap, take a drink, investigate a noise and bark (you have a mute button), go to the loo in their own garden. Our delivery of sessions allows you to work through the content in a time line that suits you and your dog.
There is no childcare to sort out and your children can get involved.
You don’t have to come out on cold, dark nights, you can relax in the comfort of your own home with a coffee (or a gin!)
Online training caters for the nervous puppy, the reactive dog, owners who feel conscious in large groups, owners that do not drive
Behaviours can be taught without the added distractions, resulting in strong behaviours that are learned quickly and have a great chance of successfully being performed in a distracted environment.
We have a whole host of courses and services offered online – take a look at our website and Facebook page
Those that have never owned a dog can find it hard to understand the connection and the shared bond between dog and owner.
A dog is not, as the law suggests, a chattel and possession; it’s a relationship and friendship that grows and deepens. The strong relationship we have with our dog is similar to the one we have with our children or siblings.
The reason – the love drug – oxytocin!
Oxytocin is an important hormone. We all have it and we all produce it. A mother produces oxytocin in abundance during childbirth to help create that first intimate bond between a mother and her newborn. In fact, all mammals produce it to help form healthy relationships.
So, do our dogs really love us?
Dr. Teresa Romero wrote a study that looked at how oxytocin promotes bonding and what this means for us as dog owners.
The first group of dogs had oxytocin sprayed into their nostrils to raise their natural levels. The second group had saline sprayed into their noses. The dog’s behaviour was then observed during their interactions with humans and other dogs.
Not surprisingly, the scientists found oxytocin was a powerful love drug. The dogs with boosted oxytocin were far more sociable and interacted more with their owners than those with the saline spray.
A North American study published in 2019 also found that dogs had developed muscles around their eyes that allowed them to raise their inner eyebrows, which made their eyes look larger, anxious and ‘baby- like’.Scientists say this process spanned tens of thousands of years and unconsciously breeding dogs led to further the development of expressive eyebrows, which we tend to call ‘puppy-dog eyes’.
Rescue shelters have shown that dogs with the most expressive eyebrows are the ones most likely to be rehomed!
Keep your pet safe
With the long Easter weekend approaching, we can help you with relevant advice to prepare your pet. It’s worth being aware of the risks that certain seasonal treats can pose.
Why is chocolate bad for pets?
Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be poisonous to cats, dogs and rabbits. Dark chocolate and cooking chocolates have the highest levels of theobromine, although it’s also present in milk chocolate.
Depending on the size of the pet and the amount of chocolate eaten, the effects can vary from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures, internal bleeding and even heart attacks.
What to do if you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate
If you think your pet has eaten chocolate, even a small amount, call your vet immediately so that they can advise you over the phone. Ideally, they should be seen within the hour. Don’t try to make your dog sick, as this can be dangerous. Our emergency 24-hour centres are open throughout the bank holiday weekend.
How to prevent your pet from eating chocolate
Many pets, particularly dogs, will try their best to get to any chocolate lying around, so remember to keep it out of paw’s reach. This is particularly true of puppies; they will pretty much eat anything they can get hold of.
Young children may be unaware of the dangers of chocolate to pets and will often try and share their treats without you realising. Take the time to teach them that chocolate can make their beloved pet ill and remind them never to feed it to them.
If you plan to do a chocolate Easter egg hunt, count the number of treats hidden and ensure the hunters get the same number back, to avoid leaving any behind for your pet to find later. Keep your pet well out of the way during the hunt to prevent them finding the eggs first.
There are plenty of suitable pet treats that mean your pet can still join in the fun. Speak to your vet for their recommendations and remember to give treats sparingly. Treats can be highly calorific, so you should always reduce their normal food intake that day to maintain a balanced diet.
Hot cross buns
While many pet owners understand the danger chocolate can pose, hot cross buns are another springtime treat that can be potentially harmful to animals. Raisins, sultanas and currants are all toxic to pets, causing vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, kidney failure. Make sure you keep your pets away from them.
Easter basket fillers
Easter basket fillings such as plastic grass and straw are tempting playthings for pets, particularly cats, but they’re easily swallowed and can lead to digestive issues, resulting in vomiting, bloating and dehydration. Protect your pet from dangers by keeping them away from Easter baskets and other decorations.
For a large proportion of our pet dogs the fear from these unpredictable, loud, flashing fireworks is so great they cause our dogs to salivate, pant, bark/whine, tremble, hide, stop eating, urinate and/or defecate, be hyperactive, claw, dig and clinging to owners.
Our dogs feel unsafe as fireworks do not make sense to our dogs, and they come out of the blue. Often fireworks are set off in all directions around us, on no specific days or times and now with the trend of fireworks for many a celebration and religious festival – it is not just November 5th.
Preparing our dogs to cope with fireworks should begin a good 12 months in advance, but this rarely happens, and most clients contact us in September or October.
This gives us 8 – 10 weeks which only leaves us with time for management / coping strategies.
Visiting your vet would be my first piece of advice. They will ensure that there are no there contributing factors causing the fear such as pain which can increase sound sensitivities. They will also look at the possibility of medications – from synthetic pheromones to anti-anxiety medication to sedatives. Using medicine should not be taken lightly and should only be done under the direct supervision of your vet following a full health check.
One common mistake a lot of owner’s make is that they think that if they reassure their dog or give them any kind of attention during the fireworks, they will be inadvertently reinforcing the dog’s fear behaviour, this is simply not true. By comforting your dog, you will not be rewarding the fearful behaviour they are exhibiting, but you will be helping them to cope better and feel better about it by measuring them and helping them feel safer!
A problem shared, a safe lap/pair of arms! However, you should also be aware that some dogs will want to hide – this is also fine. Allow them to do whatever they wish as this will be whatever makes them feel the safest.
You mustn't’t punish your dog for exhibiting any of the typical fearful behaviours mentioned above – even if they have urinated/defecated indoors. Imagine being scared out of your wits and the one person you can trust starts to reprimand you! This will not help to make them feel better – it will confuse them, and they will feel MORE fearful, stressed and worried!
There are things you can do during the firework season to help your dog:
Don’t walk your dog when fireworks are likely to be let off day or night.
Keep your dog indoors, avoid trips in the car. Toilet breaks should be done on lead to prevent bolting! Dogs in full fear flight have been known to scale 6foot fencing to escape.
Close the curtains so they won’t see any of the fireworks because the flashes can scare them. Play music or turn on the television to drown out the noise outside.
Keep outside noise to a minimum by closing all the windows and doors in the house.
Make a den ‘safe space’ with old blankets for your dog to hide away, perhaps over the dining room table or behind the sofa.
Don’t take your dog to a fireworks display; leave them at home! This may seem obvious, but sadly I have seen this!
If you won’t be at home for the evenings, have someone stay in the house with your pets to calm and reassure them.
Prepare (in advance) lots of Kongs and chewable treats, licky mats and snuffle mats. Licking and chewing are both calming for dogs as it releases feel-good chemicals, so it will help calm them during this stressful period.
Planning your dog’s dinner will also help. Feed your dog an hour before any anticipated fireworks you know of as just like us they get a bit snoozy after a meal!
Talking of dinner – cook something super smelly for your dinner! It is also the smell of the fireworks that can upset some dogs.
To further minimise distress, you can use a Dog Appeasing Pheromone. It is a synthetic version of a chemical produced by the mother shortly after she has given birth. The pheromone reassures new-born puppies and naturally calms them. Scientists have discovered it also helps calm older dogs as well as for a wide range of anxiety-related behaviour. These are available from your vets – be careful where you buy if you choose to buy online.
There are many over the counter remedies that are classed as natural. However, my advice would always be to consult with a vet before giving your dog anything natural or otherwise.
In addition to the above, you can also purchase a special CD that you can use to de gradually de-sensitise your dog to the generalised sound of firework sounds. Some CD’s have just the sound of fireworks while others have the fireworks blended into classical music. Both are best used by playing several weeks in advance of the firework season at a low volume when the dog is distracted and then as your dog becomes used to hearing the sounds in the CD you can start slowly increasing the volume and using at times when the dog is less busy/distracted. All sound CD’s work slightly different, so always follow the individual instructions.
Some dogs find a ‘Thundershirt’ a comfort. ThunderShirt’s patented design applies gentle, constant pressure on a dog’s torso. Using pressure to relieve anxiety has been a common practice for years.
Tellington Touch – this is a very gentle type of massage. It can help to calm your dog and make them aware of their body, so it can be a great way to help calm your dog when it’s firework season.
TTouch practitioner Melody Todd from Springer Loaded recommends the following massages
Clouded Leopard TTouch: Using your fingertips, move the dog’s fur in a circular (clockwise) movement around as if you were looking at a clock – starting at 6 pm, back around to 6 pm and go back around until you get to 9 pm again.
Mouth TTouch: Using the back of your hand, slowly brush it up from the dogs’ jaw up towards their ears. Alternatively, you could do the Clouded Leopard TTouch around the mouth.
Ear TTouch: By putting your thumb at the base of the ear and your fingers underneath, run your hand slowly down the dog’s ear until the end of the ear tip.
These are all basic TTouch technics that help relax your dog, by doing the circular TTouch movement, you are helping the dog’s nervous system run messages up to the dogs brain, which calms them down, makes them aware of their body and get them our of freeze or may help prevent them from getting in a major stressful state.
However, please remember some fearful dogs would instead be left alone – be led by your dog. If he hides, leave him, if he asks for attention give him some.
Book an appointment with a qualified trainer/behaviourist now to help you prepare for next year.
Stash chocolates out of reach
We love tucking into chocolate at Christmas, but it can make our four legged friends very poorly.
Paws off that pudding!
The dried currants, raisins and sultanas (also found in mince pies) can leave dogs feeling very ruff indeed. The same goes for blue cheese and macadamia nuts.
Dispose of scraps safely
The dog (or other pets) might beg you for a turkey leg, but resist those puppy dog eyes, because cooked bones have a tendency to splinter when chewed.
Sweep up prickly pines
Protect fragile foot pads by cleaning up dropped needles. Gnawing at the tree branches can irritate dogs' mouths and tummies too.
Consider tethering your tree
To an adventurous dog, your twinkling Christmas tree looks like a tantalizing playground. Consider securing it, so it can’t be toppled over.
Stick to plain water
Avoid chemical Christmas tree preservatives which can be toxic for our four-legged friends, who often love lapping up water from the tree stand.
Dog-proof your decorations
Fairy lights and glass baubles add Christmas sparkle, just dangle them where they can’t be chewed or broken underfoot.
Be berry aware
Poinsettias, ivy, holly and mistletoe can give dogs a sore tummy, especially the berries.
Keep drinks off the coffee table
Alcohol can make curious canines wobbly and drowsy, just like us!
Be clever with candles
Position them where wagging tails won’t fan the flames.
Watch pups around presents
Plastic toys, silica gel sachets and batteries might be intriguing for Lottie they can be hazardous if swallowed.
Provide a quiet retreat
Dogs can find noise and excitement overwhelming, so offer Lottie a stress-free space away from loud music and Christmas crackers.
Mop up antifreeze spillages
It’s every driver’s friend in winter, but antifreeze is highly toxic to dogs, who are often attracted to the taste.
1. Tidy up your garden!
Overgrown flowerbeds are ideal vulpine hiding places. Don’t leave food outdoors – pick up fallen fruit if you have fruit trees and keep an eye on your pet’s food dish if you feed them outdoors so that you can move it inside when they stop eating.
Use fox deterrent sprays – these are usually ammonia-based and mimic the scent of fox urine, making any would-be visitors stay away from what they’ll perceive as another fox’s territory!
Whether they’re scraggly urban ragamuffins or distinguished country gentry, chances are you’ll have seen a fox or two around wherever you live. Like pigeons, foxes are cunning, hardy creatures, known for their ability to adapt to a great variety of conditions. Also, like pigeons, your feelings on them might be anything from fondness (or grudging respect) to outright disgust. Love them or hate them, foxes can be a nuisance sometimes – going through the rubbish, scaring the cat, even attacking small animals if you have them. So, if you’re wondering how to keep foxes out of your garden, we can help. Here are our top five effective, humane fox deterrent tips.
Humane fox deterrents aren’t just better for your local wildlife population – they’re also the most effective long-term solution to any fox problem! Extermination or trapping and releasing foxes will solve the immediate problem, but we guarantee another fox will move in sooner or later. Find a fox deterrent that works for you and stick with it.
2. Scenting Your Territory
Scent marking (usually with urine) is one of the number one ways foxes know which areas are free to claim as territory and which patches already belong to someone. You might try using human hair clippings to leave “human smell” around your garden. Alternatively, there are chemical fox deterrents available on the market that you can spray around your lawn and flower beds and which mimic the scent markers that foxes use to mark territory. These are especially useful if a fox has been fouling your flowerbeds.
3. Tidy Up
If you’re wondering how to keep foxes out of your garden, an important thing to keep in mind is that one of the things any wild animal looks out for in its territory is places to hide – so the more overgrown your garden is, the more inviting it is to foxes. Trim back your lawn, pull up any weeds and clear away any garden waste sitting around
4. Check Your Bins
Foxes are known scavengers, restrict their access to things to scavenge! Keep your rubbish in tightly sealed bags and make sure that any rubbish that goes out for collection is in a closed bin. Make sure you put your rubbish out for collection regularly, so that you don’t have any overflowing outdoor bins on your property.
5. Feed Pets Indoors
Cat or dog food is equally delicious to foxes, so if you’re wondering how to deter foxes from your garden, consider feeding your pets indoors. If you must feed them outside, make sure you take the food dish away once your pet has finished eating – even if there’s still some food left in it. Your furry friend will be sure to let you know if it wants more later on, and in the meantime, keeping the food dish indoors will ensure that nobody else gets to it! Similarly, make sure that any animals you keep out of doors, like chickens or guinea pigs, are shut away safely at night.
6. Use Flashing Lights & Sprinklers
The key to keeping foxes away is to make your garden an uncomfortable environment for them. Removing hiding spaces in the form of overgrown weeds or plants is one way of doing that; artificial scent marking is another. If all else fails, though, another thing you can try is setting up your garden so that it’s an unpredictable place for foxes to be. This can be done with motion-activated LED lights or sprinklers, which you can find at most garden centres. Be careful when you set them up, though – you want to make sure that you won’t spray yourself with water as you stroll across the lawn, so look for places that foxes are more likely to go than people!
There you have it – everything you need to know about how to keep foxes away from your home and garden. Keep your garden clear, remove any potential food sources, and relax in the knowledge that your garden is fox-free!
Castration is perhaps the most common surgical technique carried out in veterinary practice. It’s also one of the oldest, with a “pedigree” going back thousands of years.
However, in recent years a new alternative has arrived on the UK scene for use in dogs - a form of chemical castration that mimics the surgical procedure, but from a simple injection under the skin. So which is best? In this blog, we’ll take a look at the two options
There are essentially two reasons for castrating a dog.
Firstly, to prevent him from making sperm (and hence puppies!).
There is a genuine canine population crisis in the UK, with rescue centres massively oversubscribed. Too many dogs are breeding, and too many people are deciding they can’t cope with the dog they’ve got so are either abandoning or rehoming them.
This is a huge welfare problem, and by reducing the number of fertile dogs out there, we’re also reducing the problem.
Secondary, to prevent him from making testosterone.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone, and the high levels of it in entire (uncastrated) males are involved in a number of things that we’d quite like to prevent or reduce, such as:
Sexual behaviour, e.g. humping things.
Some types of aggression (see below).
Roaming (looking for females in season - this is one of the biggest risk factors for road traffic accidents in dogs).
Certain types of cancer (especially testicular cancer and some anal tumours).
Many prostatic diseases, including Prostatic Hypertrophy and Prostatitis.
Are there any downsides?
Yes, there are some. In particular, there are reports of small increases in the risks of certain cancers, especially in dogs who were neutered very young. More commonly, a dog who is nervous (or showing aggression due to fear) may become worse as his testosterone levels fall after castration.
Overall, it does improve lifespan.
Despite these issues, on average, studies show that a castrated dog lives about 14% longer than an entire one.
OK, what about chemical castration?
Well, it’ll all be the same - the one big difference is that it’s reversible! So if there are problems (e.g. nervousness), once the implant wears off, he goes back to normal.
We don’t yet know whether chemical castration has the same impact on all diseases - but it seems likely, and it does seem to be effective at preventing problems such as prostate disease.
How do they work?
Surgical castration is (as the name suggests) a surgical procedure. Under general anaesthetic (so he doesn’t feel anything), both the dog’s testicles are removed. No testicles means no sperm and as most of the testosterone present in the body is made in the testicles, without them the testosterone levels rapidly decline. The big issue, of course, is that this procedure is irreversible.
Chemical castration involves injecting an implant under the skin. This “tricks” the brain into no longer making the hormones (FSH and LH/ICSH) that tell the testicles to make sperm and testosterone. As a result, the testicles shut down, and testosterone levels (after a brief initial rise) decline over 4-6 weeks to essentially zero. When the implant wears off, everything goes back to normal again - the implants usually last 6 or 12 months, although it can vary slightly. The only downside is that as the implants eventually wear off, it becomes more costly having to replace them each time.
Are complications possible?
There are always possibilities for complications in any surgery, although serious problems are very rare. The implant, however, seems to be very, very safe!
So which is best?
It really does depend! Both have their place. However, if you want to avoid any permanent changes, are worried about possible side effects (e.g. anxiety), or don’t want to change your dog’s physical appearance, then the implant might be better. It might also be more suitable in dogs with serious health problems that make an anaesthetic risky.
If, on the other hand, you have a healthy dog who you never intend to breed from, then the surgical procedure is probably a better bet.
In either case, come in and talk to one your vet, who will be happy to talk you through both options!
This information is supplied by Rushcliffe Veterinary Centre, Nottingham
Stay safe outdoors
The start of spring signals better weather, longer days and hopefully more time spent in the garden for you and your pet. Whether you’re planning to get back into gardening, or you’re just spending a little more time outside, you’ll need to be aware of some of the toxins and tools that could pose a risk to your pet.
Bees and wasps
Bees and wasps start to reappear as the weather warms up, and it’s highly likely that your pet will get stung at some point in their life. Dogs are the most common pet to be stung by bees and wasps, due to their playful and inquisitive nature. Most of the time, a sting will only cause minor pain and irritation so you may not need to visit your vet. Don’t try to pick out the sting with tweezers, as this can squeeze more venom out. Instead, use a rigid piece of card to gently scrape the stinger away. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply to the area to reduce swelling and ease the pain.
However, if your pet is stung several times inside the mouth or throat it can be serious and requires an immediate trip to your vet. They may also have a severe allergic reaction to the chemicals in the sting.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to wasp and bee stings in pets include:
If you think your pet is having an allergic reaction, contact your local vet immediately, as the swelling can block the airway.
Garden tools and equipment
Spring is an important time for any keen gardener. If you’re tackling some of the bigger jobs, such as mowing the lawn or trimming hedges, it’s a good idea to keep your pet inside.
It’s worth remembering that common garden tools, including lawnmowers, strimmers, secateurs, loppers and chainsaws, are extremely dangerous and should never be used around pets. In fact, the loud noises that garden machinery creates can cause stress in many pets, particularly cats.
If you have a vegetable patch and use compost, your compost heap will be full of bacteria that can be dangerous for pets, so make sure it’s properly fenced off to keep them safe. You may even want to build a barrier around your allotment or vegetable patch to make sure your pet doesn’t venture in.
Many spring bulbs are toxic to pets, causing vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, disorientation and even heart problems.
These toxic bulbs include:
It’s always safest to avoid planting these flowers in your garden or having them in your home. Whilst toxic poisoning caused by bulbs is fortunately rare, our vets do see an increase in dogs with an upset stomach after nibbling on garden bulbs.
If you suspect your pet has eaten a toxic bulb or plant, contact your local vet immediately.
Chemicals and poisons
There are lots of toxins in the garden and shed and garage. These can be hazardous to your pet if swallowed, so always make sure you secure the lids of gardening products and store them above ground level.
Common garden poisons:
Slug killer contains toxic metaldehyde, which causes tremors, fits and twitching that can go on for several days.
Fertiliser can contain additives that are toxic to pets, causing vomiting, diarrhea and collapse if eaten in large quantities. Safer pet-friendly fertiliser is available, but you should still always store it out of paw’s reach.
Rat poison affects the body’s ability to clot blood, resulting in excessive bleeding. Symptoms include weakness, lameness, bruising and vomiting.
Weed killer varies dramatically, but can cause dehydration, bloody vomiting, breathing and heart issues, mouth ulcers and kidney and liver failure.
Much like humans, pets can suffer allergic reactions to various plants, pollen and insects. These allergies can cause hay fever-type symptoms of itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, congestion and a sore throat. They can also cause rashes and itchy skin which can lead to excessive scratching, hair loss and infection.
Your pet can develop allergies at any point in their life, so it’s always worth keeping an eye out for any of the above symptoms. Certain dog breeds can also be more susceptible to skin allergies, including Boston Terriers and English Bulldogs.
If your pet develops an allergy, ask your vet for advice on how to identify the cause and ease their symptoms.
For such a tiny object, a grass seed can cause an incredible amount of pain and suffering for dogs! The trouble is in their shape - most grass seeds are very streamlined in one direction, but the awns prevent movement in the other.
In fact, many grass species’ seeds look, and act, like little biological arrowheads! This means that once they get embedded in the dog’s tissues, they keep tracking forward, working their way deeper and deeper, and causing more and more damage.
In this blog, we’ll looks at some of the problems that grass seeds can cause, and at what you can do to minimise the risk.
Of course, exactly what a grass seed can do to your pet depends on where it ends up…
In the ear
This is perhaps the most common presentation. The seed goes down your dog’s ear as they’re running about in long grass - and immediately they’re yelping, pawing at their ears, shaking their heads and generally getting worked up. The inside of a dog’s ear is VERY sensitive, and they don't like having things stuck in there! The next problem, of course, is that having a foreign body in the ear rapidly sets up an ear infection, so they start to feel even worse, and even more itchy. But every time they scratch or rub, it just pushes the seed further down the ear canal. Eventually, it may reach, and even rupture, the dog’s ear drum.
Grass seeds in the ears are usually moderately easy to remove - sometimes, we’ll have to sedate the dog to get to them, but often we can quickly whip them out in the consulting room. If we see them soon enough, we may not even need to prescribe any ear drops!
In the foot
This is also very common - seeds lying on the ground become trapped between the dog’s pads. Because of their shape, they often work their way upwards and then cut their way through the thin skin of the toes and into the flesh. Unsurprisingly, this is really painful, and dogs will often be very lame and sore, and will chew or bite at the affected foot. Sometimes, an abscess will form around the seed and the whole area becomes reddened, inflamed and sore.
The only treatment for this is to remove the seed surgically under sedation or anaesthesia - it’s amazing how big, and how far into the flesh, they can be!
In the eye
This is generally the smaller seeds - usually, the dog’s blink reflex will keep the larger ones out. However, the outer husk of a grass seed is very hard and really quite sharp, and often leads to abrasions and cuts to the outer layer of the eye, the cornea. A "corneal ulcer" is visible as a constantly closed, sore and runny eye; if you can look at it, you will see that the tissues around the eye (the conjunctiva) are reddened and swollen. Occasionally, the seed even works its way behind the eyeball, causing severe pain and distress. These sometimes need surgery to remove, but usually they wash themselves out after a short while.
The treatment for a scratched cornea is usually pretty straightforward, with painkillers and eye drops; although if it doesn’t heal, or the seed is stuck in the eye itself, more dramatic interventions (including surgery) may be required.
In the nose
Dogs often inhale the seeds as they run through meadows and grassland, and as you’d expect, they’re really irritating to the nasal chambers! Because of the seeds’ tendency to track into tissues, it can be very hard to work out where they end up - sometimes they end up inside the sinuses above the dog’s eyes! Again, this results in itching, rubbing, and often a severe one-sided runny nose; which may progress to sinusitis.
The treatment is first to locate the seed - most seeds are invisible to X-rays; so normally we find them with rhinoscopy (putting a camera up the nose and having a good look around). Once found, it is usually possible to remove them with an endoscope.
In the mouth
This last place isn't’t something most people think of - but grass seeds often get deposited in the mouth. Once there, they can cut into the tissue and embed themselves anywhere in the head, but they seem to have a penchant for getting into the salivary ducts - they then work their way up into the salivary gland and block it, causing swelling and discomfort on one side of the face.
Treatment is, once again, surgical removal.
In the lung
Occasionally, dogs running around in long grass will inhale a grass seed into their lungs. They usually re-appear from the long grass coughing and uncomfortable. It is usually possible to retrieve these seeds with a flexible endoscope but, because of the way they track through tissue, there can be very serious consequences. Follow the link to see a case where we remove a head of wheat from a dog’s lung.
So what can be done to prevent it?
Unfortunately, the only preventative method is to avoid taking your dogs to areas where the grass is seeding. Cut grass isn’t a problem (because the seed heads are cut off when the area is mowed), it’s long, overgrown grass with heavy seedheads that is the problem. If you avoid these areas when the seeds are out, you’ll minimise the risk of problems!
If you think your dog has a grass seed, or any other wound or foreign body, make an appointment for them to see your vet as soon as possible!
This information is supplied by Rushcliffe Veterinary Centre, Nottingham
This exercise has the dog waiting and focusing on your hand, for the hand to show them where to move to and when to move. When they arrive, a treat is in place waiting for them!
• Have a treat ready in your hand
• Take your fat hand holding the treat towards your dog’s nose
• Slowly sweep the hand away from the face, like the waiters hand movement
• When the dog follows the hand, let him eat the treat from the hand
This is much preferrable to pulling your dog around on the lead, which could teach them to dislike the lead and/oor when your holding it!
It takes time, but this is to ensure that there are no further bite incidents and to give the dog time to change the way he thinks in these circumstances.
When the dog has the thing of value he usually guards, DO NOT APPROACH him. Don’t look at him, speak to him or attempt to touch him. For example, if you have given him his dinner, leave. Walk away after giving it and don’t attempt to come back. In cases where there have been multiple bites, I would go so far as so say leave the room and don’t return until the dog has come out of the room. This is to avoid bites happening again.
Then you should follow these simple steps:
Give the dog the thing he guards and leave him alone. Don’t hang around him. Stay at least 3 metres away from him if you remain in the same room. As above, no speaking, touching or looking at him. We want the dog to start to relax that there is never any reason for him to suspect that we will take away the valuable thing that he has been giving.
If multiple bites leave the room immediately for the first week. If there have been no multiple bites with broken skin etc., go to week two instructions.
After giving the dog his valuable object, remain 2 metres away from him at all times. Again, do not look at him, or speak to him. Ignore him. If he growls even slightly, move further away. Listen to the growling because this is a sign to say he is not comfortable with your presence, so if you move away he will stop. Don’t think of moving away after a growl as rewarding him, when you should be punishing him. It doesn’t work like that. We need the dog to stop worrying about our presence, so that going forward our presence isn’t an issue whatsoever. If we punish him, he sees this as another reason to guard stuff from you.
As above remain away from the dog, by 2 meters, but now you will carry out a ‘fly by’. See below:
To teach the dog that we are approaching and that this is a good thing for the dog we introduce a ‘Flyby’ and do this as much as possible throughout the day.
Whist the dog is enjoying a toy, treat or Kong, walk past and briefly stop to put a treat down near the item he is enjoying, but not too close to it to start with. You must then, leave immediately. Do not hang about. Then repeat this action several times. Before long, the dog will stop what he is doing to look up at you, knowing now, that you are coming to give him something super tasty ad now he WANTS you to come close. Now you’re ready to go to the second step.
When you approach the dog, briefly poke the item (Kong etc) with your index finger, leave a treat and immediately leave again. Repeat. DO NOT attempt to pick up the item that the dog has or you will just confirm his suspicions that you are a taker of nice things and not a giver of nice things.
Now your dog is learning he doesn’t need to guard things from you because you are NOT taking it away from him.
You should begin by writing down everything you do habitually when you are going to take the dog out for a walk. I.e.: I put on my coat, hat, gloves etc. Now write everything down in the order you do it.
1. Put on my shoes
2. Take the lead/harness from the cupboard
3. Put on the lead/harness to the collar
4. Pick up my car keys
5. Get my poo bags and bag
6. Walk to the front door
If you do the above list in this order each time, the dog learns it by heart and then knows exactly what is coming next. They either get more and more anxious if they DON’T like their walks for any reason, or they get more and more excited if they DO like their walks.
So, you spend time now desensitizing each link (above number) one at a time. For example, for number 2, you should put on your shoes, whilst saying nothing to the dog or looking at them and then go and sit down to enjoy a cup of tea, or do the washing up, or anything else, but NOT go near the front door or go for a walk. Then remove your shoes, put them back and go about your business indoors.
Or you might put the dogs lead on them and then feed them or let them wonder around the house with it on, but don’t go for a walk.
You repeat the above for each step (number) of the behaviour chain for going for a walk, until you can see that the dog is no longer watching you or reacting to you doing any of the steps like before.
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