Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Dogs In England Must Be Microchipped from 2016

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

It has been announced today that every Dog owner in England must have their pet microchipped from 2016 onwards. In a plan meant to reduce the amount of strays on the streets, the microchips will be encoded with owners details, and those who do not comply with the new law may find themselves slammed with a £500 fine.

The device, which is the size of a grain of rice is implanted into the Dog between the shoulder blades using a syringe, but is no more painful than an average vaccination. The device is made from ‘bio-compatible’ glass which is the same material used to make human pace makers. The device also fuses itself where it’s implanted, meaning it won’t move around the animals body.

lost dog

UK government figures show that in excess of 100,000 dogs are dumped on the streets each year, costing the public and welfare charities more than £57 million. This new law is hoped to drastically reduce these figures. The new legislation will come into affect from the 6th of April 2016.

Currently, charities in the UK such as Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home provide free microchipping, although having the procedure performed privately only costs around £25. It is still unclear whether the government will pay for the procedure, once the law comes into affect. The Dogs Trust has welcomed the scheme, saying it would make a “huge difference.”

Statistics also show that around 40% of Dogs picked up by charities on the street contain chips with inaccurate data, meaning the animals cannot be returned to their owners. In the European Union, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia, Germany, Austria and Belgium, already have compulsory microchipping laws.

 What do you think of this new law? Do you think it will help the situation? And if you’re from another country would you like something like this implemented? Get involved in the discussion in the comments below!

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Dog Collars for High-end Luxury and Comfort

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Pet owners take very good care of their companions and accessorise them to make them stylish and unique. They purchase exclusive pet accessories to make them comfortable and fashionable. Pet lovers not only buy pet jewellery, but also collars for better control and mobility. All such pet accessories make pets look more beautiful. Today, there are different types of pet accessories available in the market for dogs, cats, fish, birds or other pets. You can easily choose the one that suits your pet in a distinguished manner.

One essential aspect to consider is that pet accessory should not harm your pet in any way. It should be according to your pet’s size, health and physical features. The different pet accessories that are available in the market offer high-end comfort to the pets without harming their skin. Pet boutiques commonly offer collars, purses, necklaces, harnesses, clothing, beds, leashes, bracelets for vests and much more.

However, pet lovers should understand the very requirements of their pets and then purchase pet products. In addition, a pet product should be extremely soft and made up of pure material so that it cannot react with the skin or harm pets in any way.

Dog Collars

Dog Collars

One of the most commonly purchased products is dog collars. Dog collars are perfectly adjustable and available in different shapes and sizes according to the size of the dog. These are available in various designs, soft leather material and are usually hand crafted to reflect exclusivity. Most of the people prefer high-end luxurious pet collars that offer extra padding, durable buckles, many hand set crystals and chrome plated hardware. These exclusive looking dog collars give exceptional look to the dogs. Even people feel well from inside after giving such exclusive gifts to their dogs.

In order to exhibit high-end opulence people buy specially made collars that deliver zing like nothing else. Figuratively, it looks ideal for your small companions! You can see class excellence in design, materials as well as craftsmanship in sophisticated collars. These boast latest fashion trends and exhibits unparallel brilliance & perfection.

Designer Dog Collars

If you want more luxurious pet products and specially dog collars, then online super stores or online pet boutiques are the finest option to consider. They not only provide different types of dog collars, but offer discounts, and other free gifts to their customers.

About Author:-

James Smith is a ghost writer and has written various articles on pet accessories, wholesale pet products, online pet boutiques, pet toys, designer dog clothing, and etc. for many years.


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Pets on Tour – Bringing Your Furry Friend Along For the Ride

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Taking furry family members on holiday has become very popular in recent times, with many places accommodating to animal’s needs, it’s more appealing to take your pet with you than to leave them at home. Here’s a quick to do guide before venturing off on your holiday…

  • Location Considerations: Before you set off on your jolly’s you need to take into consideration your destination and how you are going to get there. Your destination should be pet friendly, so pick a location which is going to cater for your furry friend as well as having plenty of activities for both you and your pet, especially if you are taking your dog along.


  • Preliminary Health Checks: Make sure you visit the vet before you set off, a routine check is all that is needed, this just gives you piece of mind that everything is going to run smoothly on your holidays. Furthermore make sure your pet has an up to date microchip, this increases the safety of your companion if anything should happen, and additionally you should have a personalised collar made with a reachable contact number.

Pets on tour

  • Pet-Friendly Transport: Before you travel, it’s advised to get your pet used to the transport that you have chosen this will result in a smooth journey. When travelling by car, make sure you pack the car up before loading your pet. No matter what transportation you have chosen, the last 3 stages are crucial; make sure your pet has had plenty of exercise, enough food for a few hours of travel and that he/she has gone to the bathroom. After these preparations you are ready to go…


  • Panic Prevention: Revise the stresses that your beloved pet may encounter on your travels and try to avoid them. These stresses will vary depending on your pet, for dogs they feel most comfortable when with their owners as it gives them a sense of security. Cats however are very different; they are very territorial animals and feel most comfortable in familiar surroundings. Smaller animals have less stresses, and as long as they are comfortable and their habitat (i.e. enclosure or tank) is consistent, they rarely acknowledge a change in location.


  • Creature Comforts: Make sure you carry familiar toys and snacks with you, having items which carry the smell of home will comfort pets and will help them settle. When travelling you have the option to cage your pet or allow them to be loose. For small animals and cats it’s a must to keep them caged, this is for both yours and the animal’s safety.

Furthermore if the vehicle has to come to a sudden stop, then anything not secure whether it is a passenger or pet will become a moving risk. For dogs, it’s your choice if you want to secure them or if they are free to move around the backseat or your boot. They do demand more space than other animals and will be more comfortable when given the opportunity to move around.


  • Comfortable Conditions: Additionally you also have to consider the different conditions in your car. Windows should be left open when leaving a pet alone in the car. Cars standing in the sun can get very hot very fast and can cause serious problems for animals left inside. Windows should also be kept open when driving giving a continuous air flow; however be careful not to cause a draft.


Keeping temperature at a constant is advised.  Make sure you schedule regular stops to stretch out yours and your pet’s legs, allowing for toilet and food breaks too.

There’s nothing quite like sharing your favourite holiday experiences with your pet, so plan ahead and make your next holiday one to remember. It’s vitally important to consider their stress levels and health throughout the journey, and also to check on them at regular intervals to ensure they’re happy.

This article was written on behalf of Pet Health Info. Pet Health Info is a free online resource providing advice for pet owners regarding pet health care.

Photo Credit: Catskills Grrl

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Dogs and their jobs

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

For most of us, a dog is a beloved family member, and a pampered pet.  We provide our canine companions with luxury dog beds, an abundance of squeaky toys, and the best pet food we can find.  However, not all dogs live pampered lives in return for performing the occasional trick to impress the next door neighbour.  Some dogs hold down full time jobs, using their strength, or their sense of smell, to earn their keep.

dogs and their jobs

Here’s a quick look at some of the jobs that a well-trained dog might do:

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs, or emotional support animals, are used to comfort people who are stressed, traumatized, or depressed.  They are used to help the elderly in nursing homes, calm young people testifying in courts, and offer support to survivors of natural disasters.  Some airlines allow emotional support animals to travel with their passengers, providing comfort for those who are scared of flying.

Military Dogs

Dogs have been used by the military for many, many years, and some of them have even been awarded medals for their bravery.  Today’s military dogs are highly trained, and are almost as well equipped as the humans they’re working with, being given bulletproof vests and high-tech cameras so that they can provide intelligence to their two-legged co-workers, whilst staying as safe as possible themselves.

Service Dogs

Most of us are familiar with guide dogs for the blind, but there are lots of other service animals.  People with epilepsy often have a service dog that will attempt to warn them of impending seizures, and fetch medication for their owner if a seizure occurs.  There are also hearing dogs for the deaf, and dogs that are trained to help patients in wheelchairs, and fetch items for them.

Racing Dogs

Dogs can be professional athletes too!  In Alaska, the Iditarod long-distance racing competition is a huge event, with entire villages turning out to watch the dogs (and the sled riders) pass through their village.  Teams have avid supporters, and the breeders consider training and caring for their dogs to be a full-time job.  Alaskan huskies are tough, strong, and have thick coats of fur, enabling them to survive in the difficult conditions of the Alaskan highlands.

Sniffer Dogs

Dogs have a far better sense of smell than humans do, and this makes them incredibly good at detecting illicit substances.  Police train dogs to sniff out a range of things, including drugs and explosives.  Dogs are also used in search and rescue missions, and customs officers use dogs to detect foreign produce that tourists might unwittingly (or dishonestly) try to bring into the country.

Medical Dogs

While this isn’t an official “job” yet, it could well be one in the future.  German researchers have ran some small scale trials to see if dogs could detect lung cancer by sniffing a patient’s breath.  The dogs had a 71% accuracy rate of detecting cancers, and a relatively low false positive rate too (just 7%).  More testing is needed, but it’s entirely possible that we may see dogs used in the diagnostic process in the future.
Guest post written and contributed by dog lover Amy Fowler, on behalf of House of Paws, specialists in luxury dog beds and other cat and dog accessories.

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Training Your Puppy without the Classes

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Choosing to get a puppy is a massive decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As well as all the costs and commitment, a puppy also requires a great deal of on-going training to ensure it grows up to be a healthy and happy dog.

Before you can train a puppy, you need to develop a mutual respect for one another. A dog won’t always do as you ask it to without a reward, whether this is a treat or plenty of attention and affection. Quite often, a puppy will seek a master in which it can follow and aim to please. This is usually the person who walks and feeds it, not necessarily smothers it with love and affection all the time. This relationship needs to be developed from an early stage to ensure your puppy looks to you for instruction.

Training Your Puppy without the Classes

House Training

So first things first, you will need to teach your puppy some basic house training rules to ensure it uses the toilet outside as oppose to inside on furniture and expensive flooring. Puppies, like babies do not know there is a right or wrong place to relieve themselves, so you need to teach them this. Under no conditions should you result to violence to correct your dog in any aspect of its training, as it can encourage vicious behaviour.

House training is usually achieved over a considerable amount of time, there is no short cut and there is bound to be slip ups from time to time as well. Encourage your dog to go outside at regular intervals, and when it does choose to urinate outside, reward it and give it affection. Take your puppy outside throughout the day, from the moment you wake up, before and after its meals and of course before bed time. This minimises the likelihood of accidents and also teaches your dog a positive routine.

Eliminating Biting

Puppies will usually bite and chew as it is a natural reaction to their teething process. Sometimes biting will be playful, other times out of boredom, and in some cases when your puppy is feeling a little tired and irritable. Again, avoiding using violence, encouraging good behaviour and discouraging bad behaviour will send the right message to your new four-legged friend that you and your belongings don’t appreciate being chewed or bitten, and that this will not earn it affection and rewards.

Another option is to encourage your pup to chew something else when you see it gnawing on your favourite piece of furniture. Supply it with a durable chew toy to keep it occupied, and in time your dog will learn that this is what should be chewed and played with, not the furniture.

Taking your puppy to training classes is of course not compulsory and by training your dog yourself; you will also save a great deal of money and build your very own bond with your dog. Training will be an on-going task throughout the dog’s life as its learning will never be complete and like humans, can occasionally make mistakes too.

Photo Credit: Adam E. Cole

This article was written by Sarah MacLeod on behalf of My Pet Stop, a UK based dog boarding company offing puppy training, dog grooming and much more.


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Why you should bake your own dog treats

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

We understand that you love your dog.  They don’t call dogs “Man’s best friend” for nothing!  They bring us joy, make us laugh, and comfort us when we’re feeling down.  They miss us when we’re gone, and get so excited when we’re back that you’d think we were gone for a year!  That’s why we are pet parents, not pet owners.  Our dogs are our children, and we love them as such.  So, why not feed them like we would feed our own children?  It’s easier than you might think, and a great way to get the kids involved!

There are a number of reasons to bake your own dog treats.  To start with, you are in control of exactly what is in your treats.  For anybody who has ever had a finicky dog, you know that there are some things they just don’t like.  This is especially true in the case of most treats you buy at the store; your pooch would much rather eat the burger out of your hand than chew on cheap, overly-processed treats that have an ingredient list a mile long.  So, why not compromise?  You can easily bake dog treats with peanut butter, pumpkin, cinnamon, or anything else you can think of, and those treats will be much better for your dog.

Why you should bake your own dog treats

Baking your own treats is healthier because you aren’t loading them with preservatives and importing them from some “kitchen” that may or may not care just how good those treats are.  Think of it like fast food; sure, you can get a burger through the drive through, but if you did that every day, your body wouldn’t be feeling quite as good as it would if you baked something healthy at home (and, honestly, who doesn’t love a good home-cooked meal?).

You also don’t have to worry about your dog having an allergic reaction, or developing allergies if you’re making the treats yourself.  Dogs can be just as sensitive as humans, so we should pay attention to what we give our pooch so they can live a long, happy, and healthy life.  Frequent allergies include beef, dairy, pork, soy, fish, eggs, and more.  Many popular dog treats contain these ingredients, too, limiting your choices if your pooch is allergic to any of these.

Now, you may argue that you’re not a whiz in the kitchen.  That’s perfectly understandable. Many people have grown up with a microwave oven being their primary food preparation device, so turning on the oven and baking something can seem like a foreign idea.  However, baking your own dog treats isn’t hard.  We’ve actually taken out a lot of the hard work and created something simple to bake.  If you’ve ever made a box brownie mix, you can bake your own dog treats.  That’s where Pupolicious comes in!

Pupolicious is a dog treat and icing mix, much like those boxed baking mixes you see in the store, that is quick, simple, and most important of all – healthy.  It comes with everything you need to start baking your own dog treats, and has 3 simple steps; mix, bake, and decorate.  The only things you need to make Pupolicious is a mixing bowl, rolling pin, baking sheet, a spoon, oil, water, and of course, an oven.  You can also easily flavor your treats, and has flavoring suggestions and simple instructions for just that purpose.  It doesn’t stop there, however; Pupolicious is a great way to get the kids involved with the quick & easy icing mix (after all, what kid DOESN’T like decorating treats), so it’s something the whole family can do for your furry friend!

With Pupolicious’ safe, simple ingredients, you can easily bake dog treats at home, making it easier to show your dogs just how much you love them.  That’s why we call Pupolicious “the dog treat you bake with love.”


Author’s Notes:

Pupolicious is a new dog treat and icing mix available and made in the U.S.A.  You can read more and purchase Pupolicious at


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Dog fouling: a messy situation

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Britain is living through a messy situation. Dog fouling is topping local news headlines across the land and councils are still scratching their heads about how to make people more responsible for their pooch’s bowel movements.

While some are charging owners found guilty anywhere up to £1,000 for their transgressions, others continue to install bins in our parks, towns and cities, full of hope that they’ll actually be used.

However, statistics seem to indicate the situation is still a major headache for local authorities. A recent survey of over 10,000 sites by Keep Britain Tidy, for example, found that dog mess was present on seven per cent of sites. Local newspaper articles, community meetings and neighbourhood watch gatherings seem to be constantly teeming with residents unhappy with the mess in their areas – and for good reason. Ingestion of dog excrement can bring on serious health conditions.

Toxocariasis is the most major infection associated with dog muck. While rare, with around 50-100 cases recorded a year, according to the NHS, toxocariasis can bring on a range of unpleasant symptoms, even leading to blindness if left untreated.

Of course it’s the social effects that tend to offend non-pet owners, and dog-owners alike. Just how can people have the audacity, the inconsideration, the lack of respect for themselves and their animal to leave mess on our beautiful public countryside?

Well, for those who haven’t yet learnt how best to clear up after themselves, here’s a few tips that could help turn around Britain’s messy nation.

Make sure you know when they need to go

You should really know your dog well enough to see the signs when they need to go. Although this isn’t always possible, you can even take an estimated guess based on your dog’s eating habits.

Keeping a regular routine is probably one of the best ways of letting your dog know whether it’s time to go for a walk or not. With enough repetition, and adequate dog training, they’ll come to understand the signs and will hopefully do their business before you leave the house.

Find an adequate place to walk them

Needless to say, you should try where possible to take your dog to locations where dog walking is expected, permitted, and where dog bins are nearby.

Even if you live in the city, you’re sure to find routes to the park that have more verges than others, offering your dog a chance to have a toilet break on a spot where less people are likely to walk.

Be equipped for the job

Vitally, you should always be prepared for the job at hand. Always leave the house with plenty of dog bags and treats. The latter of which you can of course reward your dog for good behaviour, such as going on the grass as opposed to the pavement.

Not only will you need bags to pick up mess, but also a decent collar or even harness, so you can keep them under control at all times. Red Dingo is just one supplier that sells a variety of well constructed products that might help keep your dog on the right side of you when going to the loo. Other Red Dingo products include bowls, mattresses and tags.


Even when using a lead, you should be careful that your dog doesn’t roll around in the fouling of other animals (fox and horse poo are favourites for most dogs) as you could end up bringing germs into the house.

With any luck these tips will help make sure you don’t add to the already very messy issue of dog muck in the UK.





Author Bio: Joseph Smith has a degree in Zoology, as well as having owned and taken care of many animals and pets in his career. Through this article he provides you information on how to select the right facility for your dog as well as high-quality products for dogs. For more information go to



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Aggression in Dogs – prevention is better than cure

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Dog aggression can be a very serious behaviour trait in dogs and if you are choosing a dog or puppy you should be aware that some dog breeds are more prone to aggression than others. The most common causes of dog aggression is poor choice of breed, poor breeding, poor training and lack of socialization. Some little known facts show evidence that most cases of dog aggression are actually involving the family pet . children are particularly vulnerable and can often suffer serious damage and scarring. Dogs tend to show aggressive tendencies from an early age. The chances are your dog will show warning signs of aggression even as a puppy. Nervous timid dogs can be prone to aggression as can dogs that have not been socialized and are not used to people.

Agressive dogs - the warning signs

The average pet owner doesn’t really know the signs of dog aggression and puppy games such as tug of war where the dog wins may seem harmless for puppies but a big dog showing signs of dominance and aggression to his owner is a different matter. It is the owners responsibility to correctly train and socialize their dog. There are a few aggression types that you should be aware of if your dog is showing aggressive behavior. The types are fear related, dominance related , territorial aggression and predatory related . Dominance aggression is when you let your dog or puppy dominate such as in play games such as tug o war or play fighting. The dog is a pack animal and not training your dog properly will leave him thinking he is above you in the pack (which is in his eyes your family) this could lead to signs of aggression toward you or your family if he feels you are challenging his dominant role. He will probably try to challenge other dogs and strangers with the same aggressive reactions. Early warning signs of aggression in dogs could start with growling and escalate to snapping and even biting.

Aggressive dog behavior should be curbed as soon as you recognize it even in a puppy train your dog properly so that he understands and acts on your commands . Never play dominance games where he wins and make sure he does not learn that he has dominance over family members especially children. Interestingly a large amount of dog bites are from smaller dogs as these sort of dogs are often more snappy and aggressive, people often choose small dogs if they have children thinking they are less likely to be aggressive this is often a mistake. Owners are more likely to ignore and overlook aggression in small dogs passing it of as cute but if your dog is large or small they can still inflict a lot of damage. Always beware smaller dogs are nearer the size that can snap at a child’s face. Dogs being pack animals and having their behavior dominated by their natural pack instinct you must take these points into count when allowing a dog into your family.

Aggressive dogs - guest blog post for Dog Walkers City

Catching these symptoms in the early stages is a must as it is much easier to stop a puppy acting aggressively than it is a fully grown dog especially larger dog breeds. a dog usually turns aggressive because a few reasons:

1. The breed has a history of aggression

2. A lack of training and socialising with other dogs or people

3. A nervous or timid disposition

4. They believe or have been taught that they are higher in dominance in the pack your family than you or other members of your  family.

5. Mental health tumours or other medical conditions

If you find your dog is showing signs of aggression get them trained if possible by a professional either a dog training class or at home. if you believe they have a medical condition or you are worried their aggression is more serious then seek advice from a vet who may well recommend a dog behaviorist (a sort of dog psychologist) a dog behaviorist can often counsel you in ways of correcting aggressive behavior in dogs.

This article was contributed by Taron at resource for dogs and pet health


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How to Deal with Neighbourhood Dogs

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Stephen Burroughs is a writer, blogger and Humane Society volunteer. He enjoys blogging about everything pertaining to dogs and responsible pet ownership. Stephen writes for All-Dog-Beds, a site that specialises in dog beds of all shapes and sizes.

The following scenario has probably happened to you whether you’re a dog walker or just a person walking a dog: you’re approached by one of the neighbourhood dogs, a pooch you usually see behind a fence, through a window or on someone else’s leash—and you start to fear the worst. Some of these encounters can end up in physical harm and heartache, but they certainly don’t have to go in that direction. There are several steps you can take to prepare for encounters with neighbourhood dogs and even a few steps you can take in the event that something bad does happen.

Dealing with neighbourhood dogs

Meet and Greet

If you walk dogs in certain neighbourhoods, chances are that you recognise at least a few of the dogs that call that area their home. Maybe you’ve even met some of them. If you foresee encountering any of these dogs, it might be best to go meet them (and their owners) before the next time you walk any dogs into that area. I know that I had to meet my neighbour’s boxer mix and let him get to know me before he was comfortable with my Min Pin and I walking anywhere near his house. Now that I’ve met him he’s just fine. If you can, always talk to the dog’s owner first and get a feel for both of them. Many dog owners will let their dogs run around the neighbourhood without a leash, but sometimes the dog just gets out by accident. Ask the owner which one is the case. If you’re a dog walker, you already know the etiquette for meeting a new dog, so make sure that you always practice good behaviour. If you meet a few dogs in the neighbourhood and it goes well, chances are that they will remember you and not give you any trouble other than bringing you a stick to throw.

Use Caution 

It’s inevitable that a situation will arise where you just don’t know a neighbourhood dog and what he’s capable of. He might be territorial, he might be afraid, he might be mistreated at home and he might be aggressive. He might also be a completely friendly, loveable goofball who gets along just fine with dogs and people. You just don’t know. When faced with the dog, take cognisance of his body language. Avoid running, yelling or trying to touch the dog. Never approach the dog, and try to circle around him instead of walking straight toward him. Keep very calm and make sure the dog or dogs you’re walking know that you’re doing okay—it will help them to keep calm as well. If you’re a dog walker, you already know how your four legged clients react in certain situations, so keep that in mind. If the strange dog does approach, turn your body away, keep still and stay collected. Most dogs are just curious and really have no interest in hurting you. If you do need to get away, back away without letting the strange dog out of your site. Above everything else, make sure you keep a handle on the dogs you’re walking and stay calm. If you do have a close encounter with a neighbourhood dog, consider taking an alternate route next time or consider just staying away from wherever you perceive that dog’s territory to be.

In Case of Emergency

Unfortunately, sometimes things will go sour and the dog will want to attack you and the dogs you’re walking. The best thing you can do is still act in a preventative and defensive manner. If the dog is barreling toward you with his head neither raised nor lowered, chances are that he’s going to attack. Being prepared is, again, the key here. If you’re a dog walker, you’re probably the type of person who hates the idea of causing harm to an animal. If that’s the case, it’s wise to keep a walking stick or umbrella on you so you have something to keep in between you and the marauding dog. Dogs have short attention spans and will often give up on you if they’re not making any progress in their attack. You can also use a coat or jacket to distract the attacking dog, try throwing a treat or using grocery store lemon juice (the kind in the green and yellow squirt bottle) aimed at the dog’s nose, mouth and eyes. The goal here is to make sure that an encounter with a neighbourhood dog never turns into a full blown attack. There are several articles on the internet (with several different theories, some more humane than others) about how to separate fighting dogs and how to escape an actual attack. Let’s be proactive and never let it get to that point.

Most of the time, encountering a neighbourhood dog is never anything more than a nuisance. There’s even a possibility that you and your dogs might make a new friend. It’s always best to use caution when you’re faced with strange dogs, however, and prevention is the best weapon in almost every possible scenario. Get to know these dogs and their owners if you can, use caution around these dogs when you don’t know them and have a plan just in case an unfortunate situation does arise. Dealing with neighbourhood dogs can be stressful, but it doesn’t need to end with anyone getting hurt or traumatised.

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Why does my dog do that? An insight into behavioural techniques and dog training.

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Why does my dog act this way? Why is my dog impossible to train? Why does my dog not respond to training like other dogs?…..Do these kind of questions sound familiar? Each person asking these questions sincerely believes their situation is so unique, that it requires if not the Nobel Prize and a mention in London Times, then at least a consultation with the top behaviourist or an individual session with a known trainer who will hopefully be able to understand where the problem is coming from and how to put it right. Self / Home study as an option is rarely taken considered I am not sure why, but, I guess, people just do not bother to move a finger unless they have a massive issue on their hands and the need to have it resolved on the spot is of a paramount importance.

We always wish that our trainees coming to the class looking for help would start telling their story beginning with: ‘I’ve done so much with my dog, but a few things do not seem to click into place…’ Usually the difficulty of prospective resolution takes us to the very beginning and having to build it up from that point to and well above the required level of response… Yes, I wish… but the reality tells us different.

Why do you think Hector attacks dogs when out and about with me or my husband? And then the assessment starts. How responsive is he to the owner’s voice? Not at all. How well motivated by food? Oh, he does not eat when out… OK, what is his level of obedience? Very good but struggles with Sit or Stay? Wow, let’s call it non-existent rather than great… Plays on a walk? Yes, very playful, you say? Let’s see. Toy – no reaction… And the said dog disappears in the distance to play his game of chase and growl with other dogs… OK, so this doesn’t work either… Well, you get the picture.

I would like to create a different story here just for the sake of the argument, and I am also hoping that this will help us to understand where things get wrong and what buttons we are going to press while re-building the “dog under good control” image.

Dog training and behavioural techniques

Dogs as well as all other living creatures are born and built to survive. They all are programmed by a set of INSTINCTS offering them pre-recorded responses to this and that and what to do if… There are many of those : Maternity and paternity instincts, pack, sexual, and protective, hunting and chasing, Self-preservation, orientational and play ones, instincts responsible for searching and containment of food, getting it and protecting it, providing drinking water and telling them when to escape and how far, how to – eat, drink, breath, digest etc., building a den…. There are many others, but this story is not about them.

According to research dogs as companion animals have been improving humans’ lives for well over the past 20,000 years. Most of the physiological mechanisms locked within these comfort protectors / hunters and nurturers are about that old, and some much older – dogs inherited many behavioural threats from their predecessors and those – from the ones before and so on. So knowing how to snap at the foreign body that threatens your lunch is an ancient skill; the desire to run off and pursue prey is centuries and thousands of years old; marking the house is too. Also barking when losing your pack (say, due to them going off to work) has existed in our hounds for generations. This is why dogs do these things. They have to abide by this pre-recorded and sharpened by lengthy evolutional survival behavioural program, and it is there not to be argued with. Do it or die. You ignore the noise of falling tree – say good-bye to the world and be squashed… Yes, dogs are jumpy (reactive) initially for good reasons – this is good for the evolutionary selection.

Hector the Irish Terrier, on the other hand, does not have a particular reason to do any of the above. He does not exist as a pet dog, but as a healthy and logical representative of his species. His personality is a reflection of what was (or rather not) put there by his nurturers, the owners. Nothing else. He sees the ball and he’s off. A car door open and he’s out. The predictable dog behaviour of A DOG, not Hector the Irish Terrier. So why does he do all these? Because he’s a dog. Wild, un-influenced, free-to-roll dog whose man-made boundaries and socially acceptable (as per urban dog in 2012) acts of behaviour are just not there. Happy dog though – the pre-recorded guidance has worked wonders for the 16 months of his life! Perfect for him, and if I was coming back as a dog I would want to come back as Hector. See for yourself – No effort required and maximum benefit – do whatever you want and all the boxes in your life are still ticked – he’s well and unconditionally loved! watered, fed, played with, accommodated, sheltered, maintained, entertained… Lucky little thing. I on the other hand, have to work for my living!

Living your daily life means learning. Consciously, or sub-consciously, the learning process continues whatever we do. The same applies for our dogs. They experience “Trial and Error” all the time – this either gets the dog something he/she wants or avoids him/her from doing something he/she doesn’t want to do. (Please compare this to the households where “anything goes” – whatever that pooch comes up with is tolerated and the outcome does not change as a result of it). There are exceptions, for instance, the state of an animal’s health (a medical condition or illness might well be responsible for the behavioural symptoms). But these are usually easy thing to rule out.

Have you heard about the “Nature v Nurture” argument? Luckily for us (and for the dogs, but they do tend to deny it) there is a mechanism able to override instincts and adapt the animal to the environment without endangering its’ existence. These are called reflexes. They are not there when the dogs are born but they are formed the moment we let our guard off and let the natural responses “slide” – these are Learnt Behaviours. No dog knows how to chase joggers at birth. But dogs chase fast-moving objects or any moving objects, if no other motion is observed. Do it once, do it twice – and there you are – You have a sprinter-dog taking down park strollers just for the sake of it. The dogs doing it look happy – and even this is pre-deposited there… They are satisfying the instincts feeding on that satisfaction. So when we say that some reflexes are not helpful, this only goes for us, not the dogs.

But the helpful ones may mean the difference between a good dog / pleasant society member and the mayhem of a mutt ruining everyone’s pleasure.

So let’s talk about this for a moment. Have you ever tried to throw a ball when out on your morning stroll through the park, but tell your dog to NOT chase it? Just to check it – can we compete with the in-bred tendencies? You haven’t, or you can’t? Either way, you have to, and you have to do it well and polish it up to the point when you can put the dog on a “pause-mode” at any time you want, any environment and everywhere. You don’t have to be doing it all the time, but you need to be able to stop it when you wish and at that very second. How do we do it? Oh, that’s the whole another subject. Easy, usually, if you brainstorm it before you start practicing. Approach it from a few different directions and practice. Proof it afterwards and enjoy your loyal companion that you can trust off lead. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Now you are saying that you can do it after a week of homework? Great, keep it up! Have you taught your dog to not chase balls? Not just that. You battled a huge issue of delivering a message to that Dog Instincts Ministry on how to stop and control temptations on a cue from outside, your cue. Life is full of attractive targets – objects, smells, creatures. But we need to agree on one thing with our beloved pooch: you are not going to get everything you see! Plain and simple. So when your dog chases squirrels in the woods, throwing a ball and hoping to tire it out is not going to offer you a solution; maybe, if you are lucky, perhaps just a temporary relief. You will be strengthening and reinforcing that instinct and giving that dog more and more physical power to cope with the task. But drop a chunk of sausage and call your dog off it on a single command- and you win – you become the guiding voice in your dog’s head, not the voodoo spirits telling it “kill, kill, kill”.

Would you manage the walk through the tunnel of cheese bits with your dog to heel (loose lead of course, or no lead as a requirement)? Once again, you will not just be teaching your pet to Heel in different circumstances, but also to choose your guidance in other situations as dogs Generalise. Look it up. This is our saviour, as due to this mechanism, and this one only, you can have your dog learning to listen and do what they hear. There is no way in the world you can socialize your dog with absolutely every creature / object / situation in the book, but once you’ve done your first 5-10 experiences and come out the winner, your dog will assume, that the next one down the line of these experiments will have to end up with the same outcome. Try it. There are bright dogs that connect this after just two-three exposures, and some need tons of variable repetitive reinforcement. But it happens.

Need more ideas to try out? Here! -Dog is put in a stay, you place a slice of salami in front of it, walk away and call it passed the distraction. -Lay your dog down and feed another animal all around it from hand and floor without your trainee getting up (this helps also to influence the relationship with other dogs!). -You heel your dog while kicking a tennis ball in front of you as you go. -Try to “bowl” a dog treat towards the dog’s front paws in a Sit position without it eating it, the nearer the better. Plus make some stuff up – you can never over-train your pet. And don’t you ever forget to reward / praise your dog for being right. However small that progress is – it is a success, so be generous and just, and only then raise the bar.

And please finish with this one: You lay the dog down, and slowly moving that “don’t touch” kibble nearer and nearer to its’ nose end up, position two of them, one on each paw of the patiently waiting dog. This is the cutest (and easiest) skill to teach, and you will immediately be named the greatest trainer amongst all your friends watching this party trick.

Please accept that things do not remain the same. Nothing stays still, and behavioural balance, brain activity and sharpness of responses changes with time. So do not ignore the maintenance procedure that needs to be brought in from time to time.

Feeling like you’ve done the “proofing”? Go out into the busy park / club / dog competition and show off! Enjoy it and you two will make a great team not just keeping safe, but demonstrating to the world that DOGS HAVE BRAINS, and those little boxes are hugely effective, once you help your dogs to wake them up. Your dog’s thinking is a beautiful process, and watching it is the biggest pleasure of having a dog.

Happy walking! Like this article? Please Share and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

This post was written by a registered Dog Training School, promoting the idea of responsible dog ownership, providing behavioural help and advice to people and families with dogs, giving some dogs a good start in life, and trying to improve the lives of dogs with behavioural problems.

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