Photo by bin Ziegler on Pexels.com

There are many fad diets for humans (I have tried a few!), this trendy eating has crossed over into dog food.

Along with the trend  toward the raw diet comes the grain free and hypoallergenic diets. Great if you have dog with food allergies, but it is rare for a dog to truly have an allergy to grain. The only people gaining from this trend are the dog food manufacturers and those  that sell it. 

Please do not take feeding advice from people who are profiting from your choices, speak to the experts, your Vet, animal nutritionists or other professional! 

I asked my Vet on her thoughts on feeding grain free and hypo allergenic diets and the message was very clear, Don’t! There is now evidence that dogs are suffering with heart problems as a result of zero grain diets. Check out the evidence here: 

https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy

Breeds that are generally not prone to heart issues are developing problems as a result of the lack of grain in their diet. A diet fed because the owner believes they are giving the best possible for their dog. Dog owners are being fed misinformation, pun unintended! 

In my youth the only dog foods available were mostly tinned or raw, next was the arrival of the complete food and now we are back to raw again! I stopped using raw back in the 80’s, the Dobermann’s I lived with came down with campylobacter, one of the few bacteria that can pass between dog and man. My dogs and my whole family had to be  treated, not a good experience.  That would still be one of my main reasons for not feeding raw meat to this day. 

This link gives clear scientific information that grain free is not good for most dogs.

Skip passed the advertising at the top, but do notice how many dog food producers are paying to sell you the idea! Very expensive dog foods, food with large profits! 

In my early days of doing my job, the main problem I came across with dog foods was the additives and colouring the producers put in the food to give a high “tail wag” factor (as it was known in the trade). The affect on the dogs was hyper activity and crazy behaviour, much as feeding children high sugar treats. Now there is a new era and a new problem and many of them are leading to health issues, the same ones we humans suffer from too! 

https://www.google.com/search?q=the+effects+of+grain+free+dog+food&oq=the+affects+of+grain+free&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0i13i30j0i390l2.11555j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

One of the reasons dogs have adopted us and the relationship has worked so well is because they do really well on table scraps and leftovers, the dog is a professional opportunistic scavenger, they can thrive on what they can scavenge. 

The biggest behaviour issue I see today is related to over feeding high quality food and treats that the dog no longer has to earn. What dog is going to work for a living when they can kick back on the sofa and eat meat anytime they like? What treat is going to be worth working for, coming  back to us for? 

Couple that with the another new trend of scatter feeding and why have a dog at all, because they certainly will not be interested in being with you on a walk, why should they when all the best stuff comes along so easily! 

Here is googles definition of Scatter feeding: 

Scatter feeding is a way to elongate your dog’s meal times by scattering their food over a wide area such as around your garden or house and provide mental stimulation at the same time. WHY? It slows down feeding for dogs that guzzle their meals. As a low arousal activity it can calm highly strung or stressed dogs.”

Firstly with any young dog I would use every piece of their food for training, teaching my puppy to watch me to have every reason to want to be with me and learn how to sit, down, come and heel, to name a few.

Secondly if you want to calm your dog there are much better ways either by training them with food or by learning calming techniques in your handling. (See thedogcalmer.com for calming stroking video) 

Thirdly why train your dog to sniff out food, is that what you want to teach them? 

Moose

Friday evening and I met a friend for a meal in a dog friendly restaurant and my Papillon puppy Moose came along. At the restaurant my friend and I are happily catching up chatting and eating, Moose on my lap keeping his head down being a good boy, when the dog from the next table decided to join us, a cute Chihuahua, not on a lead. What followed was like a comedy sketch, the dog would not return to his owner, she called him over and over “Alf Alf Alf come here Alf,” broke off her attempts to catch him to chat to us, explaining what a lovely dog Alf is, asking about Moose and explaining to us that Alf was coming over because we had a dog with us, (so now it seems our fault her dog is at our table) we meanwhile are still trying to eat our meal and chat though now also trying to help her get the dog. Moose sitting on my lap watching calmly, at one point the woman was crawling under our table to retrieve her dog, the tables were in booth arrangement we couldn’t move the table or chairs as they were fixed, we did our best to push Alf toward her. Finally she got him and returned to her table! But we weren’t done, three more times Alf returned, at one point the woman asked if Moose was okay with other dogs, as I had kept him on my lap, yes I said he’s fine thank you! I chose to ignore the unstated question that Alf obviously wanted to meet Moose and she wondered why he couldn’t! At no point did the owner put her dog on a lead, he wasn’t even wearing a collar!!

I know that it was me that was actually behaving in an unusual way, my behaviour was not at all English, was it? The woman did not do anything a million other dog owners wouldn’t have done. In fact her behaviour is probably more acceptable to most people than mine! I know that my friends and clients are more likely to see things my way, but most dog owners wouldn’t. Most dog owners would think me unsociable and unfriendly like this lady thought I suspect!

I went into see Mark Punter at the Chelmsford studio to record my top dog training tips for his show this week. Mark will play one each afternoon, on Friday I am there for a live phone in! you can listen again on the iplayer if you miss the show on Friday! So no excuse. There is one top tip per day and I chose them this time from my clients suggestions, so your fault if you don’t like them :). I would really appreciate it if you can listen in and if you enjoy the show go on the BBC Essex Facebook page and let them know you like me please? That’s if you do!

As I arrived who should I bump into coming out the front door but Batman! I took a photo, not the best sorry, but wanted you to know I wasn’t making it up!!

You never know who you are going to meet!

You never know who you are going to meet!

Radio, snow and dates!

January 23, 2013

Rileysnowdog

With Steve Scruton leaving BBC Essex I did wonder if I would still get an invite as I would guess the show must be having a complete freshen up, new brooms and all! I did wonder if the sound advice would survive but I am pleased to report it has, though it will be different. Mark Punter the new presented came here this morning to record some top tips, it was really strange to be doing that at home, maybe it was because we were in the living room in front of the fire and not in the work room! (see below for times)

I have had Bonnie staying this week, Jo has been in India, soaking up some sun, though she did say on Facebook that she looked like a red lolly pop as the humidity was so high! We haven’t suffered with that problem  this week!

Thanks to Janice for  the photo of Riley enjoying the snow, he is so like Bonnie, she has looked just like that most of the week, not wanting to come in from playing with her Mum in the snow!

Here are some training dates, as normal all groups have a maximum of 5 dogs and handlers!

Recall training:

Taking place here at Bury Farm

  • Wednesday 30th January recall (beginner to intermediate dogs and handlers)
  • Saturday 9th Feb recall (advanced training for the more experienced amongst you, you do know who you are, if in doubt do ask me please?)

Group walk training:

One of these will be in Hylands Park the other to be confirmed according to demand, either Dunmow, Bishop Stortford’s Thorley Park or the Discovery centre on the A130 near Braintree.

  • Wednesday 13th February walk
  • Saturday 23rd February walk

BBC Essex Radio

You can hear me on Friday 1st February

A new format on BBC Essex Radio, with Steve Scruton off travelling the world and Mark Punter in charge, you can hear a dog training tip from me daily next week, culminating with me live in the studio, answering dog questions from listeners, on Friday between 2.15pm and 3pm, if you miss the show you can always catch up on the iplayer for the following 7 days!

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013

Betsy

Betsy

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!

Zippitydoodah!

Zippitydoodah!

Thank you to Corinne for drawing my attention to a very helpful leaflet on dogs and horses! You may remember my blog recently on a problem I have locally with a neighbours dogs when passing with my horse! I have approached them in a friendly manner but sadly they are not ready for help, yet!

The Blue Cross provide a whole host of helpful and free leaflets on all animal care and behaviour, well worth a visit to  their

Lara looks out!

website! There is a link below to the leaflet that Corinne told me about:

http://www.bluecross.org.uk/2146-98538/keep-dogs-and-horses-safe-around-each-other.html

You can hear me on Steve Scruton’s show on BBC Essex Radio this coming Wednesday from 2.15pm to 4pm, on a phone in on dog behaviour problems, or catch up on the iplayer for the following 7 days!

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!

Naughty Pie!

July 30, 2010

Pie was so naughty last night, yes really naughty! I had arranged a session in Dunmow Park with a client that I have known for some time, luckily they do know me well! My dog was worse behaved than my clients!! How embarrassing is that? I am going to tell you about this as I think it is good for everyone to know that my dogs make mistakes too, often people think Border Collies are easy, and because, generally:), they do behave well, that my dogs are just easy! Well I have to tell you I do work hard at training my own dogs. I do love training my own dogs but also I need a dog that will help when my clients have a problem dog, plus my dog is an advert for my training! Well last night Pie was a bad advert!! Pie has helped a great many dogs over come their anxiety or aggression, he has a great calming effect on all dogs.

By the time I got home there was steam coming from my ears, honestly I am sure there was!! 🙂

It all started badly, Pie pulled me round the park, when off lead he immediately ran off to some children that were playing and joined in, licking them and dancing around until I got close enough to get his attention! A little further on and he fancied the look of a nice Flatcoat and disappeared with her and her owner! Again until I was in easier shouting distance!!! By now I was fuming with him, he was back on the lead while I trained my client and tried to concentrate on that dog, while my brain was buzzing with shock at my dogs behaviour! Fortunately Pie did his job work wise, the dog I was working with has dog to dog problems and Pie had a great effect on him, he was very chilled and we made some great progress with the dog we were meant to be training! My client left the park by a different entrance and I made my way to the car park, I could now think about Pie, and proceeded back to my car training him, doing downs and recalls etc, my mobile phone rang just as we were turning a corner onto the last field by the car park, and I forgot Pie for a moment as I fumbled to find the phone in my bag, (mobile phones are not good for dog training!) in worrying about the phone I did not notice the boys playing football ahead of us!!! Yes you guessed, Pie loves football, he was gone, like a rocket, I shouted he ignored me and joined in the game! The boys loved it, they soon saw they had a new play mate and started including Pie in the game! It was about now the steam started to come out of my ears!! I had to get right up to Pie and get hold of him, it was like I was on another planet! I then proceeded to do some recall training on the lead near the boys, but really I was to cross, and having made a bit of a point with him, I took him back to the car, where he said no I don’t want to go I like it here, I picked him up, and if he weren’t so big I would have thrown him in the car!!! I drove home, it is many many years since a dog of mine made me feel so out of control, I decided the best place for Pie on arriving home was his crate, I do not lose my temper with dogs, but I knew I was on the edge and if he had put one foot wrong I could have lost the plot and do something I would regret! So there he stayed until after my dinner and my last client had gone that evening, some 3 hours, I had got things in more perspective by then at last!!

Here are my thoughts and reasoning, not excuses for him. As a dog trainer I have to analyse what goes wrong with other people’s dogs everyday, now I must apply my skill to my own dog in a big way! Firstly my angry response, Pie has been to Dunmow Park several times, either when I have been training him or working to help other dogs and has always behaved impeccably, my expectation of him was high and so I felt badly let down and disappointed in him. Were my expectations unrealistic? Maybe.

Secondly, I thought about his activities and behaviour over the last week, what had led up to this behaviour? Well last Friday I had my cousin Cheryl come to stay with her 3 children and her little dog Annie (a sister of Betty’s from an earlier litter), plus my the rest of my family were visiting us all, so for a great deal of the time from Friday through Monday there were 5 children and 5 dogs running round the garden playing, football was pretty high on the list of games, Pie is really good at dribbling and taking the ball off of people! I was busy catering and generally attending the business of hosting, my dogs had little attention from me, and it was so lovely to see them all having such a great time together, children and dogs had a ball (excuse the pun) really just running wild:)! So in the park, in his mind he was just doing what he had done last weekend!

On top of this since Betty has arrived Pie’s training has taken a bit of a back seat as I give most of my time to educating Betty, work has been busy and 2 weeks ago Magic arrived in the front paddock. Magic is a little pony belonging to Adam and Ian (of Barnards Bridge) that they rescued and I am having him to stay to see if I can help him with his issues around trusting people, this means Pie has had even less training and next to Betty of course he looks like the grown up and a really good boy. I know that because of these distractions the attention Pie has had from me has been all the soft stuff, I have over indulged him, unconsciously, to compensate for the lack of training. He has had more cuddles than ever, and all privileges of rank like the scraps from dinner, free tit bits just for being there and so on.

Now, as I thought about all of this build up, I could see that last night was the outcome of a build up, even a well-trained dog needs more continuity than I have been giving Pie, I have let him think he is very important, stopped treating him like a dog and instead over indulged him, just like my clients do:) I am human:). Once I could see all this I realised it was my fault and I have some work to do to get Pie back on track again. So if you are over Dunmow Park and see me out training Pie you will know what is going on:), but first we are out in the garden with that darn football to get some control back!! Followed by inviting my nephew and niece over for some Pie distraction training, he loves children, which is great, but he has to know he must come to me, not run to them!

Have you felt your dog let you down? Have you worked out why? Let me have your stories please? I do think by sharing this information we can help each other don’t you?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Maggie brought Smarty and Dennis to visit! Smarty is Betty’s brother and a lot bigger than Betty! I paricularly love the two action shots, one where it looks like Dennis is flying in the background 🙂 and the one with Smarty and Betty playing!

Maggie and I had a fun time showing off our puppy’s tricks to each other and Maggie gave me a lesson in clicker training! Maggie attended all my behaviour and instructor courses, she was an inspirational student and continues to inspire me! Maggie is so creative in her training and inspires me to try new stuff, how lucky I am to know so many great dog trainers:)! I am a slow learner and Maggie was very patient with me, think I have got it now! I have tried clicker training before and given up as I just didn’t get it!

I hope you like the photo’s?

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

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!