I am pleased to report that Betty is definitely pregnant and due next week! How exciting, some babies to play with!

I took advantage of the great weather last weekend to bath all my animals, they had been a little neglected while I was poorly, so there was a lot of work to do on Betty’s coat to prepare her for Motherhood! She now has very short skirts around her back legs! All that bathing reminded me to give you a tip on how not to take a shower when your dog is wet, if you hold the dogs head or nose, they will not shake! Try it next time and let me know what you think? 🙂 We have some more hot weather on the way this week, do remember that dogs do not lose body heat very quickly, they only sweat through their tongue and  some small glands near their pads, a cold shower in the garden is an excellent way to reduce body heat!

Here are some great photo’s of dogs shaking off water:


Lucy Wheaten Terrier, very tired after a hard mornings training!


Thinking of a new puppy?

March 26, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A few questions from a client thinking of buying a new puppy reminded me that I haven’t written a blog on this vital time in you and your dog’s life! I am not even going to start talking about breeds on this occasion, I will assume you have chosen your breed and are looking for a good breeder.

Number one for me is a breeder that rears the litter indoors, this gives the puppy so much more exposure to normal life, giving the puppy’s a head start on the dogs raised outdoors. Having said that outdoor litters can be given this same exposure if the breeder is aware of the need, which many are, watch out for those that do not understand the mental and emotional needs of a litter and give them a wide berth.

Bitches can be softer but also busier, dogs more laid back and a little less sensitive! It is often a little easier if you have two of the opposite sex, generally they are more likely to get along okay.

When a breeder starts asking you questions be ready with your own!

Annie, my friend that bred both Pie and Betty, has one puppy left in her last litter, related to my two and well reared indoors!

A well cared for puppy from a great breeder!

A dog story!

January 4, 2012

J cosy at home with the vacuum cleaner!

I wanted to share with you one of the responses I have had from the last blog, it is the real stories of dog owners out there that need to be heard! I am sure the people with the dogs rushing up to ours don’t really want to upset our dogs, they just don’t know the impact they are having! Please send in your story?

“I wanted to agree with what you’ve said. You may remember J – chocolate lab with epilepsy, very nervously aggressive around other dogs after being attacked a couple of times by off the lead dogs when he was a puppy just after he started having fits. Sadly and the aggression / anxiety around other dogs just got worse with age. Training didn’t help, and eventually I took the decision to let him have a happy life away from other dogs. He is off the lead only in large, deserted fields. On the lead problems only arise if an off-the-lead dog comes up to us. I see a dog off the lead I call to the owner to get them to call their dog back before trouble starts, then walk in the opposite direction. This, amazingly, doesn’t always work, and about half the time I get a “oh, he just wants to play” response and the owner virtually encourages their dog to come to mine!

I have since found lots of other dog owners in the same position as me: we are often made to feel guilty about not letting our dogs off the lead around other dogs, or not having other “doggy friends”. It really is a bit much! When I walk J, I end up having to shout at other people’s dogs to get them away from him. Walking dogs off the lead with a “he / she won’t hurt your dog, they just want to play!” comment is totally irresponsible. Your off-the-lead dog may well want to play, but mine doesn’t! My dog is terrified of anything on four legs and is a nervous wreck if anything gets within 10 feet of him. I had some classes from you about this, where you advised me to shout at the approaching off-the-lead dog and walk the other way. This almost always works, but I end up with plenty of abuse from the other dog’s owner. My dog is only ever aggressive when other dogs approach him, and I want to protect him and these other dogs from each other. If dogs stayed on the lead around other dogs, it would be so much easier and dog on dog attacks would be much rarer.

Unless owners have absolute control over their own dog off the lead (and in my own experience, that is rare as hen’s teeth!), dogs should be on the lead around other dogs. It is, frankly, arrogant to make the assumption that your dog won’t attack mine, or be attacked by mine: they don’t know each other and you don’t know my dog. Thank you for making this a New Year’s Resolution, and I hope everybody follows the advice.”

The Thursday morning class are always a fun group to work with and we often have the most enlightened conversations about dogs and life! This week the pooh bag came under the spotlight! I am not joking, for dog owners this is a serious subject, we all use pooh bags often enough for this small item to have a major impact on our day-to-day lives!

Daisy! A new recruit!

We all reached into our pockets for a sample to show to the group, and 7 dog owners and we all had different versions! How many versions are there and which is your favourite?

Seedy time of year!

June 16, 2011

With all the dry weather it feels like wild seed-time has come round faster than ever! Tracey and her dogs reminded me this week, as her 2 Grand Griffon Basset Vendeen, and yes this breed looks just like the one in the photo! Mungo and Milly have the type of coat that acts as a magnet to grass and other wild seeds, one quick shake of those long ears can rapidly catapult a seed deep into the ear canal! Resulting in a trip to the vet and anesthetic to remove the offending seed! So far Tracey has had 4 trips to the Vet in 4 weeks, a very expensive time of year! All this despite avoiding any off lead walks and avoiding as much long grass as possible. I think some dogs just have ears  that act as funnels for seeds!

As a result Tracey has found a way of fending off some seeds with some stylish head wear!

Do keep an eye on your pets and seeds a few tips are:

  • a quick brush following a walk to remove seeds before they find their way in deeper
  • if your breed needs clipping keep them very short this time of year
  • if your pet seems off colour or doesn’t seem keen on you touching his ear get them checked at the Vet, the ear canal is very deep and the lower part is not visible with the naked eye.
  • Seeds and thorns can work their way in between toes, causing sores or worse, so keep feet groomed and clipped.

Feeding time!

May 22, 2011

I thought you may be interested in my favourite feeding regime for my dogs, I will be interested to hear your comments :)?

In a perfect world I prefer my dogs to have full-time access to their food, this is called ad lib feeding. Sometimes it is not possible to feed like this if you have multiple dogs, it may be that Pie and Betty will be too competitive over food and will not settle to my regime, I will let you know!I haven’t been able to try until now, but now that Betty is over 12 months and on the same food as Pie, I can start working toward leaving food out all the time, this is how I have started!

I had Betty on adult food for about a month, to allow time for her to get over the novelty of a new food, once that was achieved I started to increase their meals a little more each day, until both dogs were walking away and leaving some food. For Pie that took about 2 days, he has been fed ad lib before! For Betty, who is very greedy and competitive it took nearly a week! I thought she would pop :)! I would add here that the food I use is very low in salt, colours, sugar and additives, this is an essential part of the process, otherwise these ingredients increase appetite.

Yes, Betty has put on a little weight but I know she will soon lose this again once she settles into the new regime! That is what I love about feeding dogs in this manner, they do not stay fat! If fed on the correct diet and given full access, they soon become confidant that food is always available with no need to eat a store for later and keep a perfect figure, making life easy for me!

Betty is now leaving food at every mealtime, so far she finishes the food either before the next mealtime or around that time, 2 weeks on and this morning Betty finished last nights dinner at breakfast time this morning, not as soon as she got up, but at the very time I would have fed her, this tells me she is still programmed to eat at those times and it may take a week or 2 for her to find “her” best eating time. I have refilled the bowls and Betty has eaten a very small amount, overall eating a much smaller breakfast than before we started this process, therefore already her body weight is beginning to return to normal!

Regarding the best eating time, with any animal it is not good for them to eat a large amount just before exercising, it can cause health problems if they do, those of you with deep-chested dogs will be particularly aware of the problems. In the past I have found that my dogs naturally establish an eating routine around consuming the largest amount late in the day, when they are sure all activities have ceased. Strangely not a time of day I would advocate feeding a pet! Yet when allowed to choose it has been all of my dogs favourite time!

Another plus is the dog will be hungry for titbits when training! The regular food is obviously pretty useless for training, but a treat really is a treat!


I recently visited the new dog equipment in Thorley Park and witnessed the very thing I was afraid of, an obese Goldie being asked again and again to go over the “A” frame, the dog was too heavy and out of condition for these antics, but obviously good spirited and obliging so not refusing to go over, I suspect he was at the Vet’s before the week was out with lameness! Have you had a look? You can find more details on the Daily Mail’s site and the Telegraph, just put dog agility in the search box on there home page. Let me know your thoughts with the Poll below please? Yes = in favour No= against

Below is the contents of an email I received from Catherine, it is here with her permission! Catherine thought I might not think it appropriate to mention her Vet, but I know this practice and I can endorse her comments! If you would like to comment with favourable mentions for a Vet please do? I can’t put up the less favourable for risk of being sued, but I think it is great to mention the ones where we have received great service!

Losing a dog is a testing time for the relationship with your Vet and can be made or break, it sure has been for me! So sorry you had to lose your precious boy Cathy, but glad you had the right support and that Sam was treated so well at  the end!

I recorded Panorama last night, I didn’t want to watch it so near to bed time, any one else brave enough? I will watch it at lunchtime and come back to you all later!

“Hi Avril

I missed this programme, but have just spent a few very upsetting minutes reading the comments made on the K9 magazine site in response to that programme.  That led me to a site called Rights 4 Pets at Vets, which incorporates Justice for Ted (www.rights4petsatvets.co.uk).

I read the blog which tells the sad story of Ted’s treatment.  I must admit that it really struck a chord, having only lost Sam this time last year.  However, we were fortunate in that Sam was treated with dignity and respect by the Bishops Stortford Veterinary Hospital (who we had never dealt with before that sad day).  This is by no means our nearest vets, but I have made this Sally and Ben’s vets for that very reason, as the animals appear to be treated with compassion and respect.

As I understand it, the current situation is that the RCVS have no jurisdiction to consider complaints where vets may be guilty of negligence, rather they will only adjudicate on matters that have the potential to be regarded as serious professional misconduct. In short, Rights 4 Pets at Vets are looking to promote an effective system of regulation for the veterinary profession.

I thought that this might be of interest to you and fellow pet owners.

Best wishes


If you saw the Panorama programme on Medivet I am sure you were all feeling sick too! I do know some of my clients use practices owned by Medivet, and in many cases, the original private owner is still in charge and the service is great! My thought was that the Vets we saw behaving inappropriately, either with animals or by not supervising their staff enough, would be the same whoever they were working for. With a company as large as Medivet they are bound to get some bad apples!

For me it is a reminder that Vets are not Gods! And we must question everything, even if we have trust in our own Vet, if I don’t understand I ask more questions until I do. If I was ever unhappy with my Vets diagnosis or behaviour I would change Vets. There is nothing like trusting your own instincts in these cases, if it doesn’t feel right then it simply isn’t right!

From a training point of view we can help our animals accept the attention they may need medically, to ensure they never need mishandling! The sounds of the Shar Pei in distress really affected me, as I am sure it would other dog lovers! The poor animal had received major surgery and must have already been in a great deal of pain! We cannot be sure that training would have helped him, but I believe it could have, my guess is that he may well be a dog that would resist handling, good training would have made him more accepting and less resistent and eased his stress.

Owners must not shirk the responsibility of preparing their animals for Veterinary treatment! We must seek a partnership with the Vet and do our part to help the process!

I guess it brings Vet nurses and trainees under the spotlight more, and not before time. Staff training on how to handle a stressed dog is not given enough attention, and little training time is given to animal behaviour. At least not in some of the practices I have known.

I look forward to hearing your comments, thoughts and stories please?

Betty is mostly Border Collie, which means the herding instinct is strong for her! The first signs of this with Betty, and a lot of puppies, is she is interested in small wheels, things like the wheelie bins, wheelbarrows, vacuum cleaner and the hose reel winding and unwinding!

This innocent behaviour can rapidly turn into larger machines like lawn mowers, bicycles, motor bikes and cars! A very dangerous hobby for any dog!And herding is only found in Collies, many breeds can display this behaviour.

Luckily I know my Collies and I take action as soon as the early signs show themselves. For those that read the blog regularly you already know that where ever possible I want Betty to learn from her environment, as opposed to me constantly nagging her and saying “no”! The action I take when Betty starts chasing the wheel barrow wheel is to keep walking, not go round her, she is small so I don’t want to squash her too much, I walk slowly and deliberately, keeping to my chosen path, it is her job to get out-of-the-way! Rather she gets bumped by the barrow wheel than by a car! I do the same with the wheelie bins and the vacuum cleaner, with the vacuum I do push it at her a bit more deliberately, as it is lighter and hurts less if she isn’t quick enough! I also push the vacuum at her if she goes for the cable, I want her to learn very quickly not to go for electric cable!

I must add I don’t move these tools in a playful way, not too fast, as that may be enticing, but a boring ploddy sort of way! plus when I sweeping or mopping I put her in crate, these tools are just too tempting and she would learn more chase from these, the odd bump would not deter her:)

I was delighted this morning when I vacuumed that Betty did not attempt to chase the vacuum nor attack the cable!! 🙂 A step closer to keeping her safe in life!


Betty watching and not chasing!

has more than enough outlets for her natural instincts when herding me on a walk :), playing retrieve and other toy based games!