Make your next holiday a doggyday

With Easter here and the first semester school break coming up soon, many people are planning their next getaway. Luckily attitudes towards taking dogs on holiday in Australia are slowly changing. In this second installment from the Modern Pet Dog seminar held on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, two experts talk about holidaying with dogs and getting them looking good for the trip with stress-free grooming. The first installment covered reducing stress during vet visits.

Ask lots of questions

Planning is the key to having a great holiday with your furry best friend, says Barbara Hodel of Goodog Positive Dog Training. Firstly plan where you want to go, considering that the country-side or dog-friendly beaches will provide lots of opportunity for exploring, walks or running around.

“Also check what ‘pet friendly’ really means,” Barbara says. “Is the place fenced? Are dogs allowed inside or on the furniture? Know what the rules are. Does it cost more to bring the dog? If the person who is renting the place doesn’t know if there are any dog-friendly places nearby then it probably isn’t as pet friendly as is being advertised”.

Travelling to the destination also involves forward planning, considering:

  • Dogs need to be restrained with a harness and clipped in – in NSW there are files over $400 and more if they are hurt in an accident and not restrained. Secure them into a seat belt holder in a harness or in a crate.
  • Never leave them in a hot car.
  • Take plenty of breaks to stretch legs and have comfort stops.

Other things to remember are ensuring their vaccinations are up to date, their ID tag is on (with a number you’ll be reachable on), they’re micro-chipped and you have the numbers of local vets in the area you’re visiting. Make sure they’re dewormed and have had their flea treatment to neither pick up nor leave any critters behind. Also check that your pet insurance will provide cover if you’re on holiday.

“Be a responsible dog owner and clean up after your dog, don’t let them chase wildlife and don’t let them off lead unless they’re allowed,” Barbara says. “We need as many people doing the right thing as possible so that travel suppliers make dogs more welcome. While away, keep a routine for your dog as much as possible, take their own sleeping mat or blanket and their favourite toy to make it feel like home”.

Goodog’s holiday packing list for dogs:

  • Bed or crate
  • Toys
  • Food and treats
  • Poo bags
  • Leashes
  • Collar with ID (with your contact details where you can be reached on holiday)
  • Grooming equipment
  • Medication
  • Tick and flea treatment and tick removal device
  • First aid kit
  • Familiar fluffy toys to help them feel at home
  • Contact details of the local vet

If you can’t take your dog on holiday with you, then there are other options such as organising a pet sitter or having friends or family come to stay. If you do leave them with a kennel, read Pedadoggy’s guide to ensure the kennel is not a jail for them.

Build a trust bank account

To get your dog looking good and feeling comfortable for its doggyday, Maxine Fernandez of Canine Kindergarten says that prevention is the key to reduce stress when going to the groomers.

“Grooming involves the big noises of the hair dryers, and the tables and tools such as nail clippers look scary,” Maxine says. “Starting desensitation early and slowly is important – and giving lots and lots of treats will help your dog associate it with the positive experience of food. Get them used to touching, the noises such as your own hair dryer and build a trust bank account”.

Tips for reducing the stress of grooming:

  • Teach target training or ‘touch’ early such as a nose or paw touch so they get used to having their feet and faces handled. It’s also helpful to teach them to maintain a position and condition the touching. Start with one body part and don’t rush as it’s really important to build their confidence by going slow.
  • Invest in CDs or apps that play noises –e.g. blow dryer noise playing softly while the dog eats. Slowly increase the volume. Makes the noise a positive experience.
  • For bathing, throw the treats into the bath but don’t bath them – simply do a few ‘in’ and ‘out’ exercises so learn that the bath is a great place to be where they get food.
  • Be prepared to regularly groom long coated dogs, else if they are brought in when the coats are very matted makes it a more traumatic experience for the dog.
  • To teach nail clipping tolerance, desensitise and counter-condition your dog – having their paws touched but start where they are comfortable – start with no touching and build it slowly.

The next Modern Pet Dog Seminar is all about having fun with your dog on 21 July. Email barbara@goodog.com.au to register or find out more.

It’s really okay – comfort your dog in a storm

The recent Modern Pet Dog seminar focused on all things summer. In this second installment of what was covered, we cover how to help dogs that have storm phobias and also dog park safety. Read the first installment about tick prevention and heat safety.

Keeping your dog safe when the sky becomes scary

Louise Colombari – Pittwater Animal Hospital said that scientists still aren’t sure why dogs are scared of storms – it could be the noise, lightning, the smell, a drop in barometric pressure or a combination of these elements. With their acute smell and hearing, it’s no surprise that dogs sometimes know that a storm is on its way, sometimes while the sun is still shining over your house.

When dogs get scared, they want to take action about it to feel less scared. This may create the vicious circle of storm phobias where because a storm frightened them before, they’ve created an association between the noise and light with being scared and every time a storm rolls through this is reinforced.

Some of the typical signs of fear in dogs as they try to take action includes pacing, panting, trembling, hiding, salivation, chewing things, excessive vocalization such as crying or howling, self-inflected trauma or faecal and urinary incontinence. Poor babies, it must be terrible to feel that scared!

Louise’s key message was: it’s okay to comfort your dog during a storm. There is nothing you are going to do to reinforce the fear. Stroke them, talk to them, do what you have to do to make them feel safe and calmer. Other handy tips are:

  • Provide them with a safe place to hide. Let them choose where they feel the most safe.
  • Block the lightning flashes by turning on the lights and drawing the curtains or blinds.
  • Use soothing music to muffle the storm noise.
  • Play a game to distract them, give them a bone to chew, or feed them their favourite food if they are able to eat so they associate the storm with a positive experience.
  • A lot of dogs benefit from wearing a Thunder Shirt which provides soothing acupressure.
  • Turn on an Adaptil collar, spray or room diffuser which emits calming synthetic pheromones.
  • Homeopathic drops such as Rescue Remedy may also work.
  • In cases where the phobia is severe, speak to your vet about prescribing doggy ‘happy pills’ for their anxiety to help them through.

Dogs don’t have to go to the dog park to have fun

Barbara Hodel of Goodog Positive Dog Training has a theory that of the dogs she sees in dog parks, 50% are clearly communicating “get me out”, 20% are just coping and only 30% truly enjoy going. And while dog parks are a relatively new concept – starting in California less than 40 years ago, owners love them but don’t trainers don’t. Why not?

Barbara believes that dog parks are an artificial set up. We expose our pets to strangers and expect them to play nicely, while in reality dogs usually have a small group of friends they like. While dog parks do offer some benefits – such as being the only place where dogs are legally allowed to run off leash and providing an opportunity for socialisation, the risks far outweigh these.

Cons include:

  • Risk of exposure to disease i.e. unvaccinated dogs
  • Dog owners who have different ideas about appropriate dog socialisation to you
  • High energy and arousal levels meaning some dogs are simply out of control
  • Misunderstood boy language
  • Lack of supervision
  • Accidents can happen
  • A lot of people think bullying is play

Dogs who absolutely shouldn’t go to the park are females in season, males which aren’t neutered (especially once they’re older than 5-6 months) as they are more likely to get picked on, unvaccinated dogs, puppies, bullies or fearful and anxious dogs.

If you still want to go – make sure your dog which is older than 9-10 months old is fully vaccinated and has attended a good puppy pre-school where they’ve been exposed to lots of positive interaction with other dogs. They need to have a reliable recall and show emotional resilience – be able to recover when things go wrong. Watch them closely – bullying (by them or of them) is not okay and watch for loose body language, good play etiquette that ebbs and flows in terms of who is chasing who, play bows etc. Else it’s just harassment!

Watch out for dog owners who may think the dog park is an appropriate place to rehabilitate their dogs who have not been socialised appropriately or have resource guarding issues of their toys by exposing them to as many others as possible without boundaries or barriers. It is not and can be dangerous for your dog. Get them out of there if you have any doubts.

Playing in your back yard, learning tricks or going on interesting walks are suitable substitutes for dogs who aren’t suited to dog parks – they will be better off by not going at all. There’s lots of fun to be had in a variety of other ways.

To keep in touch with upcoming Modern Pet Dog seminars follow us on Facebook.

How to stay cool with your hot dog

Very aptly, the theme of the Modern Pet Dog seminar held last night ahead of today’s roasting 41 degrees in Sydney, was all about summer time. This first installment about the topics covered will focus on paralysis ticks – symptoms and prevention of those poison-packed pests and how to have fun in the sun while staying cool.

Blood sucking and deadly

Dr Bryn Lynar, a vet from Pittwater Animal Hospital, took attendees through the four life stages of the Paralysis Tick. Both adults and nymphs (baby ticks) feed on mammal blood – typically bandicoots, possums, wallabies and unfortunately the dogs, cats and humans they also come in contact with. Scarily, a mature female tick can lay 1000 eggs at a time. That’s a lot of baby blood suckers!

These tiny pestilences are highly adapted at finding an unwilling blood donor – able to smell carbon dioxide on the breath of animals, then climb on for a ride as they brush past vegetation and possess a highly specialised tool in their head with which to bore into the skin and attach for a feed.

The toxins they inject through their saliva are deadly – even the baby ticks can paralyse an animal. Symptoms take 2-7 days to develop as they slowly inject more poison which interrupts the function of the junction between the nerves and muscle – therefore causing gradual paralysis.

There are four stages of tick poisoning, increasing in severity and leading to death:

  • Stage 1 – Mild wobbly legs, panting, voice change, vomiting – make sure you’re looking out for the symptoms
  • Stage 2 – Very wobbly legs, increased panting and deep breathing, reduced gag reflex
  • Stage 3 – Sitting or lying or cannot stand on legs. Grunting to breathe. Loss of gag reflex and ability to regulate temparture.
  • Stage 4 – Lying on side, unable to lift head or sit upright, slow breathing, blue discolouration of the skin.

We were shown photos and videos of very sick dogs being given intravenous drips (antibiotics, fluids, anti-serum), oxygen or even on a ventilator. Prevention definitely pays – keeping a dog on a ventilator (stage 4) can cost up to $2000 a night for a minimum of 4 nights and some dogs may be left with permanent heart problems after even a more mild episode.

Bryn then ran through a variety of methods to prevent ticks including:

  • Daily tick checks – if you miss the tick on day 1 you can find it on day 2 (I personally check my dog twice a day in summer). Start at the head and work backwards – checking mouth, eyes, head, neck, ears (including inside), whole body, genitals and also between the toes.
  • Keeping long-haired breeds clipped short to make it easier to find ticks.
  • Don’t go bush walking if you can avoid it – and especially not after rain.
  • Remove the tick with a tick hook as soon as you find it (get one from your petshop or vet) and take your dog to the vet if they have any of the stage 1-2 symptoms as the toxicity will get worse as the poison spreads through their system.
  • There are a variety of chemically-based tick prevention tablets, collars and wipe-on products available which can be used in combination – speak to your vet if you are unsure what to use. Readers of this blog will know that I’m personally a fan of more natural approaches and which I’ve had success with (Pet Protector disc and cedar oil spray – Scalibor collar at a push) but it does also require high vigilance.

Hot dogs and cool fun

Maxine Fernandez from Canine Kindergarten then focused on the fun side of summer and doing it safely. It’s really important to consider the dog’s wellbeing such as providing adequate access to water, shade and ventilation, and no excessive exercise on hot days as heat stroke can kill them. Dogs at high risk include obese dogs, squish- nosed breeds such as bulldogs or pugs, those with thick or long coats, those with heart disease, or very young or old dogs.

Maxine’s top tips for safe summer fun were:

  • Freezing Kongs with their favourite food or making doggy popsicles
  • Wading pools to splash around in or lie in
  • Play time with sprinklers and hoses
  • Be aware of signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, drooling, distressed breathing, dizziness, staggering, very red or pale gums. First aid includes covering them with a damp towel or spraying tepid (not freezing) water on them and put them in front of a fan (no ice or iced water) and see a vet.
  • If possible if it’s cooler inside bring them in
  • Don’t leave them in a car even with the windows down
  • Avoid hot sand, concrete or asphalt as their pads can get burnt. Apply sunscreen to dogs with lighter, exposed skin such as on their noses.

See how Sydney’s furry and feathered residents kept cool in the heat wave today.

Next time we’ll cover storm phobias and dog parks (to go or not).

Guest blog: “Having a butt sniff is like reading someone’s drivers’ licence”

Thursday night saw a gathering of dog lovers and owners at the third in the Modern Pet Dog series on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Everyone came with an eagerness to learn more about getting the most out of their relationships with their pets through positive training techniques. Here’s the download on what was covered.

Louise Colombari – Pittwater Animal Hospital: Greetings!

Humans tend to greet dogs like we greet humans, generally face on, while dogs have an entirely different social convention for saying hello. They usually start with a nose sniff, which is followed by a butt sniff in a circle formation. They therefore greet side-to-side, not face-to-face.

Having a butt’s sniff is like reading your driver’s license – getting personal information to get to know each other better. Two scent glands situated in the bum give dogs vital information about each other.

It’s considered poor doggy manners or inappropriate to pin, stand over, hump or do a body slam when saying hello. This can turn into a disagreement really quickly as dogs who do this are seen as being bossy or rude. Don’t listen to a dog owner who says “my dog is friendly” when their dogs are displaying these behaviours.

Dogs have personal space requirements, just as we do. Many people will try to greet dogs face-to-face, which dogs often find scary or intimidating. It’s not necessary to do a butt sniff, but there is a better way of greeting a dog:

  • Always ask the owner if you can pat their dog
  • Approach slowly as sudden movements can be scary
  • Don’t force yourself on them. Respect their personal space as they might not want to interact with you. Don’t stick you hand out and put it in their face, they can smell you already.
  • Approach them side on and if they come to you and want to interact, squat down to avoid leaning over them.
  • Never stick your hand in their face. Pat them side on, stroke down the back of the neck down towards the back. Don’t pat the head.

Useful resources:

Barbara Hodel – Goodog Positive Dog Training: On leash reactivity

On leash reactivity is when a dog that barks, growls or lunges. There are various reasons – some dogs are scared, others don’t like head-on greetings and many haven’t been socialised to be relaxed when meeting other dogs on lead. That’s why Barbara is a firm believer that interactions should happen off leash as much as possible.

What to do if the dog is reactive:

  • Desensitisation – associate other dogs with good things (rather than being scared or anxious). E.g. meeting a new dog means BBQ chicken. You do not pay for being good, you pay for the appearance of the ‘scary’ stimulus. Keep the stress under threshold i.e. calm levels, as stressed dogs do not eat. It’s not about distracting the dog, but desensitizing the scary thing to being a predictor of something good.
  • Counter conditioning – teach an alternative. E.g. a “look at me” or touch a hand target. Teach it outside of the situation. Generalise it by training in different types of environments before using in the on-lead greeting situation as an altenative behavior.
  • Recognise signs of stress in your dog e.g. lip licks, looking away. Don’t ask for more than they can give you.
  • If all else fails then don’t do any greetings on leash. Welcome to the midnight walker club!

What not to do:

  • This is not a behaviour that has to be corrected, as it’s likely they are scared
  • Punishment will not work as it will suppress a behaviour but not change your dogs’ perception, they could make the fear worse and turn it into aggression
  • Don’t force them to approach, sit or lie down.
  • Don’t jerk on the leash.
  • Don’t shout or yell.

Maxine Fernandez – Canine Kindergarten: Environmental Enrichment

Dogs are highly social and when we aren’t with them need to make their environment more interesting to prevent them with destructive behaviour such as barking or chewing things they shouldn’t. Studies have shown that dogs who are given enrichment learn faster, have better emotional stability and higher resilience to stress.

It’s not just about exercise, but also the toys, sounds, different surfaces, space to move around freely in and opportunities to problem solve and learn.

You can start it at any age but it’s critical for puppies in the first 20 weeks of their life as this is their critical period of socialisation. Find a balance as more is not better and be aware of over-stimulation e.g. certain types of food dispensers, too much noise etc.

How to create a fun backyard:

  • Provide toys and more toys, and rotate these.
  • Ensure the size is appropriate for your dog but there’s a range of options available – Kongs, treat balls, stuffed plastic bottles, swinging toys, puzzle toys, balls and food dispensers.

Other ideas include wading pools – water for swimming or floating objects in, sand for digging or hiding ‘treasures’ in; treasure hunt; dog walker; dog friends for play dates; training; agility; doggy day care; playing radio or TV, meaty (raw) bones to chew on.

Jen Hassell – Kong – Enrichment Toys Kong stuffing demonstration

Kong-1Jen is a ‘Kongsultant’ who showed us how to get the best out of Kong toys and food dispensers with her Kongaholic demo dog, Australian Shepherd Shimmy (…luckily Zac doesn’t know what I do for a living because surely Shimmy has the best mom any dog can have).

Kongs are designed to use meal times to entertain your dog and give them mental enrichment. It gives them a job rather than eating the food out of their bowl in 30 seconds as it increases the amount of time it takes them to eat. It’s a behavioural enrichment and training tool, helps prevent stress or boredom, crate training, teething, recovery from injury or surgery and minimising separation environment. Think outside of just stuffing them with peanut butter!

Top tips for using these dog puzzles:

  • Kong Wobbler – dispenses dry treats when they bump it to get the food. Top tip for fast eaters – stuff it with crumpled piece of A4 paper so they have to work harder to get the treats to come out.
  • Kong Puppy, Classic, Extreme and Senior – choose the right sized Kong for your dog. Introduce early to the puppy and dogs of any age. Get them used to it by stuffing with things that can come out easily such as liver paste, liver pate, sausage and roast chicken so they get enjoyment and results immediately. Build the difficulty as their skills improve. Stuff with anything that is safe for dogs to eat. Be creative and mix it up.
  • Kong Quest – a dispenser that’s great for small dogs and puppies who aren’t big chewers. Can be frozen.

If you are interesting in finding out more or attending future events as more are planned for 2015, please get in touch with Barbara at www.goodog.com.au or Barbara@goodog.com.au or follow Pedadoggy on Facebook.

You can find out what your dog is thinking…

Northern Beaches dog lovers were given high quality, free information about positive, reward-based dog training last night.

Learning to read dog body language, tips for communicating with our furry companions and doing cool tricks together were covered by qualified dog trainers who only use positive outcomes when working with their and other people’s dogs.

For those who weren’t able to make it on the night, here are some of the key insights from the line-up of fantastic speakers.

Dr Jill King – Pittwater Animal Hospital

As an animal behaviourist, Jill covered anxiety in dogs as many animals needing her help visit her office every day. While a normal response, anxiety is an anticipation or worry about a potential future danger. Some dogs, however, develop anxiety about things that aren’t dangerous such as hair dryers or the sound of thunder.

Jill spoke about the stages or zones of anxiety:

  • Happy, relaxed dogs = in the blue zone.
  • Interacting with us, slightly excited = in the green zone.
  • Getting worried but starting to get worried = the yellow zone (pre-panic).
  • Absolute panic zone= in the red. There’s not much can do at this point as they are totally stressed out.

Jill’s advice was that if your dog is in the green zone, moving to yellow, but before they get to the red zone is to get your dog out of the situation and avoid it in the first place when you can. Calm them down and get eye contact. Tell them it’s all okay and be kind to them.

 Louise Colombari – Pittwater Animal Hospital

“I have emotions you can relate to as a human but I need you to understand me as a dog”… Understanding canine body language was covered by Louise who is a vet nurse and dog trainer.

Human communication Dog communication
Approach each other directly/ face to face / front on

Engage direct eye contact

Shake hands or hug

 

Approach in an arch

Have indirect eye contact

Body language indicates their personality – swift and direct = confident, slow and less direct = less confident

Find face to face contact confrontational. Especially when they’re on a lead and feel they can’t escape.

 

Learn to read your dog’s emotional state by observing the big picture. Loose, wiggly dogs are generally comfortable while those who are stiff in their eyes and body stance and have a shut mouth are anxious, uncomfortable or alert to potential danger.

Dogs use displacement behaviours and calming signals to calm themselves or others. These are either normal behaviours taking place out of context e.g. they yawn when they are not tired or to diffuse a potentially stressful situation with other dogs or people.

There’s a range of these behaviours where if you observe them you’ll be able to recognise if your dog is uncomfortable in the situation – even when you think everything’s okay. The list includes yawning, scratching, lip licking, sneezing, stretching, turning away, lifting a paw, showing the whites of their eyes, blinking repeatedly or slowly dropping their head.

Some easily recognisable signs of stress in dog include suddenly shedding a lot (like a dandruff storm), sweating through their feet which leaves wet paw prints, refusing to eat, shaking as if they are wet, pacing, panting and barking or whining.

There are great body language apps and resources on the Internet, including:

Maxine Fernandez – Canine Kindergarten

Tricks are a great way to build trust and confidence in each other through positive reinforcement. They create calm and can help you learn to communicate with each other, while your dog has to get basic behaviours down pat as they’re often the foundation for more complex actions e.g. lying down precedes rolling over.

Maxine likes training multiple tricks at the same time so there’s variety and unpredictability, while you can move onto another trick if they’re struggling with a particular one. To do complex tricks you break them down to their most simple stages and build them together as the dog grasps each stage.

Tips for getting started with tricks:

  • You can teach by luring (getting them into position), capturing (reward as they do the right thing) or shaping (stitching behaviours together)
  • Mark the behaviour with a clicker or a “yes” to mark the moment the dog does the right thing and reward them with food to reinforce it
  • Use prompts or chains to shape a more complex behaviour
  • Be safe – watch your dog for signs of stress, frustration and discomfort. Don’t pressure them and don’t train if they are over-excited.

Barbara Hodel – Goodog Positive Dog Training

Dog sports are fun, save you going to the gym as it keeps you fit, you have a better trained dog and improves the relationship between you and your dog. And above all it’s about Barbara’s catch phrase: tired dogs mean happy owners!

Barbara from Goodog shows that trick training is fun and good for your dog.

Barbara from Goodog shows that trick training is fun and good for your dog.

There is a large choice – 50 different options available, including some breed-specific ones. Dog sports Barbara recommends and that are available in our local area are:

  • Treibball where instead of sheep they use large balls where dogs need to ‘herd’ them into a goal.
  • In Earth Dog for terrier-type dogs they have built purpose-built dens to ‘hunt’ rats (which are protected behind a fence for their safety).
  • Nose Work is inspired by working detective dogs and they learn to find a specific odour and its source. Great for older dogs who aren’t as agile anymore or those with other disabilities.
  • Flyball is a race between two teams of four dogs. Each dog jumps over four hurdles, retrieves a ball and returns.
  • Rally O (stands for rally obedience) is a combination between traditional obedience and agility but is more relaxed and suitable for most dog owners. Handler and dog navigate a signposted course, performing a series of exercises such as turns while a judge checks their performance.
  • Agility – dog and handler navigate a course with jumps and equipment, while competing against time with no faults.
  • Dancing with dogs. The routine choreographed to music is also called freestyle obedience or heelwork to music.

Choose what’s right for you according to your age and fitness level, time and interest, as well as your dog’s age, fitness, sociability and breed. Some ways to get involved in sports on the Northern Beaches include:

  • Goodog fun classes
  • North Suburbs Dog training Club
  • Manly and District Kennan and dog training clb
  • Canine fun sports
    Dogs NSW has info about herding, Earth Dog etc

It was a great night and the community really benefitted from having access to such high calibre dog trainers who don’t use punishment to get the best from their dogs.

Around three education sessions are planned for next year. If you are interesting in finding out more or attending future events, please get in touch with Barbara at www.goodog.com.au or Barbara@goodog.com.au

 

Sydney’s Festival of the Pooch loads of furry fun

Pedadoggy loved attending the inaugural Sydney Dog Lovers Show this weekend. A whole show dedicated to all things dog – it was promoted as “3 great days of 4 legged fun!” and didn’t disappoint.

Check out the photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.743481802389704.1073741832.329613187109903&type=1

There were heaps of exhibitors – name it and you could get it. Food, toys, accessories, gourmet delights, vets, doggy bow ties, doggy services, photography and a whole section devoted to rescue dog facilities. And a whole lot more. There were dogs herding sheep (well plastic balls pretending to be sheep) and others doing a long-distance jump into a pool as part of Dock Dogs.

It was great to pop in at the Delta Therapy Dogs stand and see the Pedadoggy sponsored Therapy Dog team – Toni and Elly – promoting the great cause. The Delta Dog Trainers Dog Trainers Association, which I’m a member of through my accreditation, was also there promoting positive training.

I’m sure everybody has their own list of highlights but mine were:

  • The growth in providers of whole and natural, grain-free foods and treats for dogs. The more choices we get the better for our wallets as consumers and healthier for our dogs.
  • There are some really clever products on the market. I got a ‘No Dogs’ collar for Zac from Friendly Dog Collars – they have a large range including options such as ‘nervous’, ‘training’ or ‘no kids’. A great way to help you communicate when your dog needs a little extra space.
  • With the unlimited amount of interactive and food dispensing toys available today, dogs do not need to be bored when home alone. Remember to rotate them regularly to keep it fresh.
  • The displays were fantastic. Watching shelter dogs being trained in agility was fantastic and proves that you only need to give a dog a job to do and they will shine. It’s not about their lineage, it’s about the opportunities they are given.

What a great day out!

 

Fast ways to create fun for a slowed down dog

My energetic, ball-chasing, beach-digging, vivacious little jumping bean of a Staffy has a very sore leg. He can’t bear to walk further than 200 metres and mostly only wants to spend his time sleeping in front of the heater. He is obviously in pain and uncomfortable. That he took chase after a cat skulking across our front lawn just as I was bending to put his lead on in the pre-dawn dark of Friday morning, has only worsened a situation which was already painful.

Invest in some new chew toys to entertain a dog that has to take time out from exercise due to an injury. Zac loves those that squeak - this is a stuffling-free duck being given a test drive.

Invest in some new chew toys to entertain a dog that has to take time out from exercise due to an injury. Zac loves those that squeak – this is a stuffling-free duck being given a test drive.

The vet is treating possible arthritis and a potential injury of his front elbow with painkillers and anti-inflammatories before we head down the x-ray investigation route. Patty from Healthy Pets Naturally has also prescribed Rosehip joint support which we’ve now started. While I try to remain positive about an eventual recovery and frankly want to cry (and have) to see him in such pain, I’ve had to find new ways to keep him entertained without any leg action involved.

Here’s my plan for brain and body games that we can do for enrichment and burning off energy while he’s lying down on his bed in front of the heater to keep the leg warm and still. These can also work equally well for rainy days, for entertaining older dogs with limited mobility or when you are sick and can’t go outside with your dog during this time of winter colds and flu bugs.

  1. Zac has become a self-appointed squeaky toy tester. I’ve stocked up on new toys to put in the toy box. He gets to choose a toy during every play session and afterwards the toy and box are put away so that the toys remain interesting. I hold the toy and he gets to chew on it and make it squeak. This can go on for quite some time before he tires of the toy and also creates an interesting background soundtrack as I make my way through watching the Breaking Bad series on DVD. Will be sharing more about our testing results soon.
  2. I hide chew treats on and in his bed. Either use little dry treats or break up bigger ones into tiny pieces and hide them under the blanket on his bed to find. Zac doesn’t need to move his body, just his head and neck. One hand distracts while the other hides the treat. Shezam, it works every time!
  3.  Practice the ‘watch me’ focus exercise. I bring a treat up to my nose, he has to “watch me” and keep eye contact with me for longer and longer periods – working his way up from a second or two, to about half a minute or longer, then he gets the treat. If he looks away, the clock starts again and I ask for a shorter attention span before he gets to eat the treat.

I’ve found that even though he’s not active, he’s still hungry. So remember to take the calories being fed through treats out of the next meal, as weight gain won’t help with joint support and healing.

Make this long weekend a fun weekend!

The prospect of a public holiday on Monday means an extra sleep in and more time to spend with my dog. Woohoo!

Try as he might, the Jakaranda tree always wins! Make sure to buy a specially-designed pet tyre as they don't contain steel as tyres for vehicles do.

Try as he might, the Jakaranda tree always wins! Make sure to buy a specially-designed pet tyre as they don’t contain steel as tyres for vehicles do.

My top five fun things to do with my dog on long weekends:

  • Tie his pet tyre to a tree and watch the tree win tug-of-war every time.
  • Go for a walk – anywhere will do, as long as you take time to sniff the roses and the lamp posts (erm, just to be clear, I go for the roses).
  • Train a new trick to show off and yes old dogs will happily learn new things if you make the food rewards worthwhile. Roast chicken, anyone?
  • Play ‘hide the treat’. He sits and stays in one room. I hide a treat in another and only when he is called can he come and search for it.
  • Take him with me to as many places as possible, as just getting out and about is great enrichment which keeps him from barking and digging. I signed him up for companionship, not isolation.

How do you and your pet have fun together?