Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013



photo photo(1)

Betsy, Bonnie and Jess! Oz came too but managed to not get in a photo!

I wish you all a very Happy, healthy and prosperous new year and may all your dreams come true!

I have enjoyed my time off playing more with my horse who always manages to remind me about my dog training! It is so good for me to have him as my hobby and in some ways he is more of a pet than my dogs! I often hear myself thinking or saying Red wants to go out, Red wants more hay, Red wants to pull his carriage today etc. In fact I sound remarkably like my clients, who fortunately often know exactly what their dogs want too! All of which is fine as long as we get what we want as well!

I am lucky that with my horse I am aware that if Red kicks the stable door to get my attention or to speed me up in getting his food, that if I respond to his demands his behaviour would get worse, and even in time he could break out of his stable door. I remember Betty doing something similar as a puppy when she very cleverly started carrying her food bowl round near feed time, I was very impressed and fed her, before long her bowl was whizzing past my head across the kitchen, it was then I realised that I must not be so impressed!! It took a some self-control to not respond to her demands, I so wanted to laugh as the bowl landed on the worktop beside me!

Remember this year it is great to know what they want, but be sure you only respond to the behaviour you want to encourage! Happy new year!





Fun Agility x 3

For anyone wanting to enjoy some fun agility with your dog!

16th – 23rd – 30th April –

Time: 6pm – 7pm

Or a day of agility

May 19th

Times: 10am to 4pm

Avril on BBC Essex

Steve Scruton sound advice phone in on dog training and behaviour

April 18th 2pm – 4pm

Recall Training sessions

These 2 and a half hour sessions focus on lead walking and recall. Foundation training takes place in the safety of the fenced garden at Barbary Cottage, once the building blocks are in place we take the training to the outside world, the paddocks and fields surrounding Barbary! There are a maximum of 5 dogs and handlers in a group.

Times: 10am – 12.30pm

Wednesday May 9th

Saturday April 14th

Dog behaviour/psychology course (Theory course without dogs)

For those that want to know more about how the dogs mind works and what they are thinking!

Date: Saturday April 28th

Times: 10am to 4pm

Training day 

A full day devoted to training your dog, whether you are keen to improve your dogs general obedience or are interested in trying some obedience tests this promises to be a fun day out with other dog lovers!

Monday Times: 10am – 4pm

Fee: £75 includes tea/coffee

Venue: Barbary Cottage

Date: June 18th

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!

You must have thought I had forgotten the blog! But no just busy training my dogs and my clients, there are just not enough hours in a day it seems!!

I have been remembering my dear Pie and what a bad dog owner/trainer I am! I didn’t train Pie until the Saturday after our messed up session, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, too busy sulking really :)! By the Saturday evening when I took him for a walk all my senses were alert and ready to learn what had gone wrong, and I must confess his recall problem had been building up for a while, at least that is what I see now! To understand I will explain how it started, 18 months ago when I was first in Italy with Pie and walking on the mountains about a week or so after we arrived I lost Pie! I was so busy looking for the way on the mountainside and trying to keep upright I forgot my dog for a moment, as I guess he forgot me, we were both on very new terrain! I had no  idea which way he had gone and I was soon very nearly hysterical trying to find him and shouting for him all to no avail, I was scrambling about on very difficult ground, and eventually sat crying, fearing he had fallen to the bottom of some ravine, regretting bringing him to this inhospitable country! When there he was beside me!! He was so puffed out, I believe he had run all the way back to the village to look for me, thinking I had turned back, he was as exhausted as I was, but otherwise all in one piece! The outcome for him was that I was not able to lose him again, he was so on to where I was after that I just didn’t have to worry again! At least not till last week!

We have been living back on the flat land of England for the last year, of course it is possible for him to see me from much further away, and over time we have both become complacent and I hadn’t noticed:), on top of that when I do take him out with Betty (not too often) I am concentrating on Betty, when out with Pie on his own, I am grateful to relax and not think too much about dog training!  As a result we had both become sloppy, not Pie’s fault as he has soon proven!

Betty was there too! Magic is at ease with the dogs!

Having spent a few days not giving him attention unless in response to a command from me, Pie was much more ready to listen to me! On top of this I became much more difficult to please on our walk, hiding from him and insisting on him staying closer, he was only too pleased to oblige! I have been taking his dinner on his walks to remind him how to work for his meals again, something he has really enjoyed doing again. I had forgotten that he likes to work for me on his walks, after all he is a Collie! I will stay on his case for a few more weeks as yet, but he is becoming more popular with me by the day:) and he must so that he can continue to help other people with their dogs!

Those of you reading this that have been to see me at Barbary have met our new visitor Magic the pony in the front paddock. Magic belongs to Adam and Ian of Barnards Bridge, they rehomed Magic a year or so ago from a girl who had rescued him from the gypsy’s. Magic had learnt not to trust people and is a troubled pony, only small so you can imagine he would be easy to bully by badly intentioned people! Magic had come on a lot with Adam and Ian’s care and love, but not being horsey they didn’t know how to move him on to the next level and asked me to help. I am enjoying having Magic to stay, it is great to see a pony in the paddock, it brings the outside to life!Luckily he seems completely at ease with dogs and is happy for Pie and Betty to run round him! I will keep you posted on Magic’s progress 🙂

Betty is growing fast and getting more whiskers! She keeps me constantly amused and entertained, it is like she has a great sense of humour and loves to share the fun! Below are some up to date photo’s of Betty with Pie, her Daddy being very patient!

Magic in the front paddock!

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Nessa with a swollen face after her sting 😦

Poor Nessa, another shot of the swelling! 😦

How Nessa looks normally!

As luck would have it we discussed bee stings at class a couple of weeks ago, I was telling the girls how my lawn was covered in clover bringing in the honey bees and Betty was interested in the bees, my philosophy when my dogs pursue bees is to watch them closely, the reality is that puppy’s will go after bee’s and what I want to happen is if they are going to get stung I would like it to happen when I am there, so that if they swell and need treatment I am on hand to help out! Preferably on a weekday morning so that I don’t have to pay an emergency call out fee for the Vet! 🙂

I saw Betty get stung! She didn’t swell up, but now she leaves the bees alone!!! Do ring your Vet for advice if your dog gets stung!

It is always best to let puppy’s learn from life, as they would in the wild, rather than become the bad guy because you are always saying no!

Here is what Sue (Nessa’s Mum) wrote to me:)

“Once again I need to thank you for advice you gave a couple of weeks ago regarding bee stings. Nessa and i were playing ball in the garden this evening when i thought she had been stung on the foot by a bee, she was limping a little and licking her foot but i could see nothing. About half hour later her face started to swell so i gave her piriton as you advised and phoned the vet. They said I’d done the right thing ,to keep an eye on her and her breathing and if worried to take her down there. Anyway a couple of hours later she is fine the swelling is going down and she is chewing on her bone. So once again Avril to the rescue, I think she looks a bit like a shar-pei!”

Betty waits for her turn with the yoghurt pot!

I do like yoghurt 🙂 not that I have one every day, over the years I have always given my older dog the pot when I am done, to lick out. First it was Truly and Teddy would wait for second pickings, when Truly died Teddy got the pot first and when Pie came along he got it second. Now it is Pie’s turn!

Betty has her turn with the pot!

Now that Pie has taught Betty not to jump on him, it seemed a good time to try out the yoghurt pot with Betty, I don’t give my young dogs food when I am eating generally, but I think this is a great way of emphasing the pecking order to Betty, and I love to see if she has accepted the order of life. As you can see in the photo, Betty pretends not to be interested in what Pie is doing, yet lies close enough to know, and the second he walks away from the pot she has it!

There are some days when I find it so easy to see how troublesome behaviour can start, even as a dog trainer I could easily get things wrong, and do!

Last week Betty had her vaccinations, I was a little concerned for a day or two as her tummy was a bit upset and she was a little quieter than normal,  Friday night she woke me just after midnight vomiting and I was sure I would be taking her to the Vet Saturday morning! I had withheld her fourth meal on the friday because her tummy wasn’t right and having spoken to Annie, her breeder, we agreed I was likely over feeding her, I usually do with my puppies, which shows itself with diarrhea!

Come saturday morning, Betty was back on full form, her energy level was back to normal and her appetite enormous, I gave her a very small breakfast to check out how her tummy was and all was fine and back to normal! How quickly little puppy’s can go from ill to okay!

Now it is hard to tell which was the issue the vaccinations or me over feeding, or both! She is the greediest puppy I have had, even more so than Pie, though only just! Having missed a meal she was sure her throat had been cut and she was starving, eating every bit of rubbish in the garden, so now her hunger could lead to her eating something really harmful! On Sunday I took her for a little walk by the lake near me and she soon found some left over crab pincers (I guess the fishermen use crab meat for bait?), now I am sure this couldn’t be great for a puppies tummy, I did my best to distract her with my tit bits but she was not convinced and finally I had to take it off her. I avoid taking anything food like off of my puppies always, unless it is really dangerous, and I must admit crab pincers are a new one on me.The reason I avoid this so much is because of how puppies learn, if you can imagine in the wild a puppy simply learns what is desirable to eat by whether the other animals want it or eat it, and taking anything away for a puppy means in the puppies eyes we are eating it! Therefore the more any of us take undesirable stuff off of our puppies the more they learn to think this very thing is desirable! I have seen this to such extremes that dogs eat the most unnatural and dangerous items.

So now I have a very hungry puppy and the added danger of her eating more unhealthy rubbish, though the dogs stomach is designed to cope with extreme bacteria! Having returned Betty to the house, Pie and I went out to the lake with rubbish bags, one over my hand, not just to avoid the bacteria but also to avoid leaving my scent in the area the crab bits have been, (Betty would then associate my scent and the crab bits) to clear this unusual rubbish up! Interestingly Pie was not at all interested in the pincers but then I guess he wasn’t exposed to them as a puppy so does not think of them as food!

The tummy issues caused more problems with Betty’s house training, we had got into a good routine, I knew for the most part when she would need to go and as a result her house training was coming along brilliantly, with the variation in her diet and her upset tummy her toilet routine has gone out the window as a result I am out of sync and we have had more accidents indoors, not Betty’s fault as she was not able to go out side so had little choice!

Now I am doing the best I can to fill her up without overfeeding her and rediscover her toilet times!

Betty eating harmless rubbish! Better known as exploring her options!

This warning comes from the USA, but my guess is it will be just a matter of time before this becomes an issue here. We can learn from their mistakes hopefully!

Please  tell  every dog or cat owner you know. Even if  you don’t have a pet,  please pass this to those  who do.
Over the weekend,   the doting owner of two young lab mixes  purchased Cocoa Mulch  from Target to  use in their garden. The dogs loved the way   it smelled and it was advertised to  keep cats away from  their garden. Their dog  (Calypso) decided the mulch smelled good  enough  to eat and devoured a large  helping.  She vomited a few  times which was typical  when she eats something  new but wasn’t acting lethargic in any way.  The  next day, Mom woke up and took   Calypso out for her morning  walk . Half way  through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.
Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label,   upon further investigation on the company’s web site,
this product is HIGHLY toxic to  dogs  and cats.
Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey’s,  and they claim that “It is true that studies have shown that 50%  of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer  physical  harm  to a variety of  degrees (depending on each individual dog).   However, 98% of all dogs won’t eat   it.”
*Snopes site gives  the following  information:http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/cocoamulch.asp *
Cocoa Mulch,  which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman’s   Garden Supply and other Garden supply  stores contains a  lethal ingredient called ‘Theobromine’. It  is lethal to dogs and  cats. It smells li ke  chocolate and it really  attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff  and  die. Several deaths already occurred in the last  2-3  weeks.
Theobromine is in   all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s  chocolate which is  toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean  shells contain potentially toxic  quantities of theobromine,   a xanthine compound   similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline.  A dog that  ingested a lethal quantity of garden  mulch made from cacao bean  shells  developed severe convulsions   and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach  contents and  the ingested cacao bean shells  revealed the presence of lethal  amounts of theobromine.

Does this look familiar? Have you got a photo of the real thing to share?

Spring is coming and the dogs will be spending more time out there, typically I am sure to be having a lot of questions about how to stop the puppies turning the garden into a bomb site! In anticipation here are some tips for those of you who are keen gardeners and do not want to lose your favourite plants this summer!

The good news first, dogs grow out of gardening by around their second birthday! If they don’t, it is not normal behaviour and you need to come and see me to correct the misunderstanding they have!

While growing it is natural for a puppy to explore their world and the garden is a wonderful place for them to do this, eating dirt, chewing sticks up, eating plants, digging around for insects, or just to see what is there is all normal behaviour, and if you fight this natural need to explore you will create more behaviour problems for yourself.

Management is the answer, by either fencing off an area that you give over to the puppy, or protecting your precious shrubs by fencing them off, to protect them from your puppy will make your life simpler, and allow your puppy to develop without upsetting you!

Ideally create a digging area for your puppy that is more interesting than the rest of the garden, this can be an earth area or you could make a sand pit, to reduce the mud you might get in the house. For a sand pit/digging area to be interesting you will have to dig it over once a day, add toys and objects of interest to the area, preferably bury these bits to make it more fun to find them!

Remember if you have just dug a part of the garden, or even better planted bulbs or plants, your puppy will make a bee line for this spot, your scent will make him think it must be interesting, prevent the puppy having access to this area for a few days until your scent has faded.

I am always delighted to have your queries and comments on any of the articles as it can lead to more clarity! Do you have a photo of your puppy digging in the garden for me to add to this post please?

I found a new product last summer to help with those brown patches on the lawn and bushes, it is called “dog rocks” and is a rock mined in Australia. You put the rocks in the dogs drinking bowl and this naturally occurring rock does the rest. It takes about six weeks to kick in so get some now to get the process working for you!

Visit the site for more information or go to my links page for link.