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!

Take your time!

July 29, 2013

This morning, as I was putting my horse’s head collar on, I found myself starting to rush, as he turned his head away I went after his head, it was like I was being pulled around just to put on a head collar! I stopped, I would never do  that with a dog, any dog! I slowed down and waited for Red to settle down, every time he moved his head I stopped. It took a while, maybe 2 minutes at most to put on his head collar with no fidgeting, not forever, just a little time for me to teach him so that tomorrow the process will be quicker, but if it isn’t I will slow down again!

He doesn’t always do that, he was impatient to get out in the field, he knew what was coming next. Just like a dog knows he is going for a walk and gets impatient and fidgety! Next time your dog fidgets around as you put on the lead or collar, just slow down take your time, take as long as it takes. By bring down the adrenaline in this way your whole walk will improve, it will be worth it, let me know how long it takes you next time you put a collar or lead on your dog!

Red, my nephew Mac and Doyle (son of my Teddy!)

Red, my nephew Mac and Doyle (son of my Teddy!)

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!

Riley growing fast!

Riley growing fast!

Riley’s Mum Janice kindly sent a great photo of Riley, and apparently he has become a rug designer, Janice now has a fringe on her rug, what a great idea:)

Thanks also to Rob Whitten for sending me the following link, do have a look how they are training dogs to drive in New Zealand! Probably enough room and little enough traffic out there to make it possible!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20614593

Betty and puppy’s

September 10, 2012

Puppies aged 2 weeks

How cute are they now? Amazing the difference 2 weeks makes, as the day progressed the puppies eyes gradually opened and they could definitely start to hear! By next week I won’t be able to keep them in the whelping box they will be escaping!

Betty loves them and is making sure they are the fattest of puppies.

I start to advertise them this week so if you know of anyone who deserves a really well reared puppy? …..

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!

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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