With April closing, and May beginning, I thought it would be good to put all my top tips into one blog post.
It’s not going to be anything fancy. A reference place for anyone to find all my top tips for dog ownership and welfare.
These are all just small details, or advice about maintaining or improving the welfare of your dog. They are not rule to live by or things I think suit every dog. Just ideas to hopefully give you, the dog owner, more ideas to do with your dog.
TOP TIP #1 for responsible dog ownership.
Get your dog used to being touched all over, teaching them to see it as part of normal routine daily and nothing unusual. Many dogs get stressed enough at the vets just from being there, you can make it easier for them by teaching them it’s normal to be touched. From early on make sure you can touch all over, check in their eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Do it when your training, do it when your cuddling, and especially when your grooming them. Grooming also be included in at least a monthly routine for dogs, even short coated. More frequently for long, curly or wire coated. You might think it’s a waste of time at the time, but in the long run it will help maintain the welfare of your dog. Making it less stressful for visits to vets and groomers, and a dog that is relaxed is happy. Making it easier to apply lotions, ear and eye drops. It is also our jobs as dog owners to care for them, this means seeking appropriate advice if you do spot something different on your dog, and you can only notice change if you know what’s normal. Training it is so easy, you don’t need a trainer, just a toy, a treat or rest time, just add checking them over into normal play and cuddles. Easy. Your dog will thank you for it, and you could very well save their life. Photos are of me just playing with my white boy, adding in teeth and eye checks, along with grooming into our one on one time.
TOP TIP #2 for responsible dog ownership.
Mental Stimulation over Physical Activity
Don’t be tempted to just run your dog ragged to tire them out, their brain needs as much work out as their body. More so for some breeds.
Think outside the box for activities, such as not just throwing a ball but hiding it for them to find.
Filling an empty plastic bottle with tasty treats and letting the dog learn to knock them out.
Ice cubes! Freezing stock and gravy with food in the middle for them to work towards, this can also include filling a Kong Toy with some tasty food and freezing it.
Filling a muffin tray with balls and hiding dinner underneath them, making the dog work to get them out.
Scatter feeding their dinner on the garden, making them use their nose to find their food.
Hiding toys in a ball pit or in boxes, letting them destroy the boxes to get to the toys.
Training the dog something entirely new such as a down stay, drop on recall, collect their toys into their bed/basket, or searching for family members.
There are activity toys on the market, but you needn’t break the bank as long as you think outside the box. Mental stimulation provides a better workout than physical exercise for the same time input. It also builds the bond between dog and owner.
TOP TIP #3 for responsible dog ownership.
Are you ready for an emergency?
When ever you travel, with or without your dog things can go wrong. Be a responsible driver and not only drive in alignment with the law, but prepare for the worst. An Accident.
I’ve got this very document in my van for when ever I drive. It has the key information for anyone whom should find me in an accident. It allows the emergency services easy access to contact details for next of kin for myself, and my dogs.
This is something you should have even if you don’t have dogs. The biggest difference for the dogs is the addition of the chip numbers so you can inform the local dog warden, and chip companies should the dogs get free and flee the scene. Much quicker than digging through old paperwork.
For each individual add in allergies you have, or medical details.
Add in where you would like to be taken for treatment, or if you are an organ donor.
While you might not like to think about the worst, you should prepare for it, for yourself and your dog.
TOP TIP #4 for responsible dog ownership.
Question your dog food!
Dog food is easy and convenient. Open the packet and pour, Right? Sure for some brands, that might be right. For other brands you might need to educate yourself a little.
So here’s a quick run through of what to look for in your packet of dog food. (This is a very basic run through, I am not a nutritionist. Do your own research, or ask a nutritionist if you want to know more).
1. The first ingredient should be MEAT. Not cereal, rice, wheat or potato. Ingredients run highest lowest, even if the percentage isn’t on the bag. This brand I use for my Iran dogs when I’m away working. It’s much higher than most brands, with the average probably being about 20-30% depending on the brand. The meat can be as exotic or mundane as you like, chicken to kangaroo! Make sure it’s dried or fresh meat, not ‘Meat and animal derivatives’ that’s the not so good stuff!
2. Rice, Cereal, Wheat or Potato are usually the next ingredient. Dogs aren’t really able to digest this so well and get very little nutrients out of it, but a lot of sugar. So the more of these the more your dog can have sugar highs and lows, aberrant behaviour or skin issues as the dogs body tries to reject it! Less or non at all where possible. But they make dog food kibble like.
3. Avoid colourants. If the kibble is red, green, yellow, or basically any colour than brown it’s good colourants in. Colourants mean E numbers, and E numbers mean mad behaviours! You know what happens to kids filled with skittles…. Same happens to dogs.
4. High protein doesn’t always mean mad dogs. Protein used to always be blamed for mad dog behaviour. While it is what gives the dog energy in basic terms, it isn’t the be all and end all of the food. Puppies need lots growing up to help grow right, adults need less and it needs to be based on their life style. But a high content doesn’t mean mad dogs, it’s the quality. If it’s based on a high meat content, then it’s good protein. If it’s based on a high plant content it’s not as easy to process and can lead to mad dog behaviour.
In my personal opinion the best food for dogs is raw meaty bones, meat, and organ. The Raw Diet. It’s natural, you know what’s in it so their is no crap! It’s easy to do once you’ve started, and you’ll dog will thank you. Their is loads of help out there. Just ask me where to start, or get googling! Companies such as Honey’s Real Dog Food Natural Instinct, Nutriment, and Nature Diet are all there to help you every step of the way.
The food label used in this image is Platinum Dog Food, it’s the closest to raw I can get for traveling about. Other brands I recommend are Fish4Dogs, Lily’s Kitchen, Pooch and Mutt, Barking Heads, and Nature Diet.
Don’t be fooled by the pretty dog pictures on a packet,or think because it’s approved by vets it’s the best. Educate yourself so your not blinded by the crap! I could go on all day about dog nutrition, but I won’t. Instead I encourage you the dog owners, to educate yourself for your dogs welfare
TOP TIP #5 for responsible dog ownership.
When a cuddle just won’t do.
Stress! All dog’s and people get stressed. Sometimes at the small things, and sometimes at the big changes. People and dog’s react differently depending on their experiences and personality.
While for some dogs training can help them cope, for others they need a little help. Help that can’t be provided through training.
Dog’s live in our world, not the other way around. They don’t speak fluent English (Knowing what “Walkies” means does make them fluent), but are expected to understand. Keeping routines and training on point can help those who are little more stressy cope with the changes, but for some constantly not being in control can effect their behaviour.
We can help them cope with our behaviour, such as cuddling, changing routines, and starting small changes early before a big one. Changes that can upset dogs can be house moves, new dog, new baby, new job, pretty much anything.
When training alone can’t help the dog, I turn to complementary therapies to help the dog calm from the inside. I don’t use chemicals, or drugs. But instead natural calming products, that I have used myself and that work.
A synthetic version of the pheromone a bitch produces when she has a little of pups to keep them, herself and other dogs quiet. Works really well to keep dogs calm.
2. Pet Remedy
A Valerian compound that naturally stops the neurotransmitters in the brain from firing. Stopping the dogs getting so stressed. It works on people as well! So very good helping the whole family.
3. Rescue Remedy
A natural mix of essences from nature that help during stress or emergencies. Helping to calm and focus.
These are all to aid with training, they are not quick fixes but to aid with training and changes. I sell both Adaptil and Pet Remedy as I really think they work to help dogs, and their owners with change. So ask me about them during consults, I sell below RRP where possible.
Changes happen, but there is no shame in helping your dog cope. Making them and you happier.
TOP TIP #6 for responsible dog ownership.
If you’re a biscuit feeder, then your dog will get the same meal every day. Boring ay?
Start enriching their lives with some tasty added extras, as a treat or reward.
You don’t need to go out and buy fancy sugary treats, when you will have most of these things in the house already.
1. Natural Yogurt. Great to hide pills, and supplements. It’s tasty, with no added sugar and dog’s go mad for it! Mine adore it off the spoon or on their food. Some also contain great probiotics, for digestion and health. (Some dogs can be lactose intolerant so be away of not feeding a huge amount).
2. Eggs. Scrambled for some dogs as a warm meal after lots of stress or illness. Raw with shell on their food, if possible. They are filled with Calcium and Protein for the dogs.
3. Carrots. While they don’t hold a huge amount of nutrition for a dog, they are great teeth cleaners and take some dog’s ages to chew down. Great boredom buster.
4. Fish. Skins off the salmon your cooking, a tin of sardines now and then. Lots will upset the tummy or as an occasional treat it’s great. Fab for eye, coat and skin health.
5. Seasonal Fruits. Come Autumn when the berries are ripe on the bushes my lot will go picking by themselves. With the power of frozen, they can have fruit all year round. A sweat natural treat, as a healthy alternative to sugary treats.
Improve your dog’s welfare by adding in extras, it engages their senses and gives them something to look forward too. They are also great for adding into activity toys and hiding pills in.
It also makes you feel like your treating them, without adding on the extra pounds!
TOP TIP #7 for responsible dog ownership.
Doggy Body Language.
This Top Tip is more brief than the others. Basically have a good read of the poster below, take some time to learn what your dog is trying to tell you. Many dogs are trying to speak to use when their scared, stressed, excited or angry and we are missing all the signals.
We need to learn to speak dog better, as we teach dogs to speak human.
Dog body language isn’t as cut and dry as the poster makes out, but it is a start.
TOP TIP #8 for responsible dog ownership.
Respect Other Dogs.
The rule when on a walk with your dog off lead is that if you see another dog on lead, then you put yours on. You do not allow your dog to run up to them, possibly scaring them, or causing a fight. It is not good manners, and its down right dangerous.
Unless your dog has a 100% recall then don’t let it off, to bounce other dogs. The other dog might be nervous, in pain, in season or in training. If your dog was in the same position would you be all that pleased if your dog was bombarded? No not really.
Think about the other dog before allowing your dog to run off, its so easy to achieve a recall away from other dogs back to you. Pop the dog back on lead and then talk to the owner if it is ok for the dogs to interact.
On the flip side if your dog is off lead, and their dog is off lead also it is generally ok for your dog to go in and interact with them. Just use some common sense, if the owner is on their phone not watching or they have no control of their dog, move on past. Make your life easier.
Dog’s don’t need friends, they need you, a home, food, water and training. Dog interactions are a privilege not a right.
Their is an organisation trying to promote and educate owners to add Yellow Ribbons to their leads if their dogs need space. It is a growing movement and should be talked about more!
Find out more: http://www.yellowdoguk.co.uk/
I also wrote a Blog post about this before, based on my own experiences:https://cleverfoxcanine.wordpress.com/…/aggressive-dogs-th…/
Use your common sense when out and about. If your dog is friendly that is great, but imagine what it is like for those that aren’t.
TOP TIP #9 for responsible dog ownership.
Many dogs freak out at noises we understand, we know its a train, fireworks or even a thunder storm. We cannot explain that to our dogs, but instead teach them not to be worried by them.
Many dogs have panic when encountering a noise they do not understand. This can lead to them running off, harming themselves and owners with panic. It’s also not a nice feeling knowing your dog is upset and their is not an awful lot you can do to help, cuddling can help, as well as carrying on as normal to help the dog learn you see it as nothing scary, but since we don’t speak dog it can be difficult.
Thankfully their are ways to help your dog adjust to these sounds. Starting off with puppies is easier, but it can be done with every dog.
Its a process called Desensitisation, which basically means getting the dog used to sounds, so it no longer reacts.
You can get App’s and CD’s but I use trusty old YouTube for videos of sounds. Basically play the sounds very low, barely a whisper while your dog eats, plays and is settled at night.
You need to keep the routine as normal as possible, if you start doing things extra with the sound the dog will see it as a cue for change and upset some dogs. We play them when distracted so it becomes background noise to the dog.
Building up the volume to almost as loud as they would be in real life, over a period of time. This time frame might be several weeks or even months. Never rush this, only turn the volume up over time and when the dog is relaxed with the previous volume.
This can help all dogs, even those without fears that you know of now. Rescues can benefit from this before the noisy season starts in Autumn/Winter so you don’t have the stressy nights.
This is not a fix, but just an idea to help all dogs owners.
TOP TIP #10 for responsible dog ownership. (We finally got there!)
Cherish Your Dog.
Dog’s aren’t here forever unfortunately; they live shorter lives than we do. It is a sad truth, so we should enjoy every moment with them until then.
I am lucky enough to work with my dogs as my job, and it means I have a bond with them that will last their lifetime.
Dogs are not ornaments or show pieces, they are parts of the family, or partners in crime.
As such I think more people need to take time to spend with their dog, not just sitting on the sofa watching TV after a long day at work, but instead taking time to do things your dog likes, such as training time, walking in new places or meeting new dogs. While people might not thing dogs crave such things, and the science doesn’t prove it, but tell me when you haven’t seen a social dog happy after learning a new trick or going out with their owner somewhere new such as a dog show, even joining a dog training club. Dog’s nee praise and love, training them to do something new and praising them is the highest reward for them. Enjoy your time together.
Think about devoting as little as an hour a week to one on one time with your dog, I don’t mean going on a walking on lead or sitting on the sofa cuddling. Instead inputting your time to teach them something new, or going out on a doggy group walk. Time to spend with them.
It doesn’t have to be hours and hours, just enough time for your dog to know you do love them and appreciate them. Maybe were thinking too much of dogs as a species to have that sort of intelligence, but I think they do. Anyone that knows their dog, knows when they are feeling, happy, sad or upset.