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? 

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!)

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!

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

Puppies at five weeks!

October 5, 2012

Puppies at five weeks!

Are they even more gorgeous? They are 6 weeks old today, and every day sees them going further afield, yesterday was their first time going to the toilet outside. It takes a few outings for a litter to feel safe enough to toilet away from the nest, clever Mother Nature protects the young by inhibiting toileting on new ground before the ground is familiar to them. This is the reason, when dog owners first take puppies home, they won’t go to the toilet on walks to begin with, this behaviour is designed to keep the young safe from predators. But it is just the reason I want to get the puppies outside as soon as possible to get them used to going outdoors and speed up their house training.

Next Monday  I will start their training, sits downs and little recalls, regular grooming and a  car ride, the more normal this stuff becomes the easier they will be in their new homes! Not all sold yet!

Thank you to Jo at Jobo design for the great photo’s!

Puppies 3 weeks old today!

September 14, 2012

Gorgeous!

Betty looking glamorous pre puppies!

What a difference a week makes in a litter of puppies! They are now coming out of the box, all eyes are wide open, as are their ears, they respond to sounds now! yesterday was their first time with solid food, I had to shut Betty away from them for two hours to make sure they were a bit hungry, they are so fat I think I should have gone for 4 hours! I gave them some high quality tinned puppy food and they all tucked in a bit, some more than others! It isn’t a pretty sight, lying in the  food seems  as good as eating it, licking it off another puppy is as good as eating from the bowl!

This morning they were so  charming, I went into them and said “hello” and I they greeted me with beeping noises, wagging tails and a scramble toward me, I was soon down on my hands and knees putting my face to them for morning kisses! So gorgeous!

Puppies aged 3 weeks!

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? …..

Betty catching up on a walk!

I am really chuckling as I think and write this one 🙂 I am constantly amazed by dogs, how quickly they learn whether it is the right of the wrong thing! The brighter and cleverer they are the more likely they are to learn the wrong things too! Really it is amazing that people don’t have worse problems than I see!

Not long after Betty arrived I remember chuckling to Anne (Betty’s breeder) that Betty was throwing her metal feed bowl round the kitchen because she wanted feeding, she does love her food! I do think there were a few occasions when on seeing her I thought “oh I am late feeding her” and did feed her. I was particularly impressed as metal is the hardest material to teach a dog to retrieve, I am not quite sure why anyone would want a dog to retrieve metal, but anyhow it is tricky! I think it was this that delighted me so much and made me respond to Betty’s antics 🙂 at least that is my excuse! Well anything a dog does that firstly we show pleases us, like smiling and laughing and secondly even gets food in return will soon grow! Betty obviously thought I can do better and by last week this behaviour had grown into throwing the bowl around with great gusto, in between throwing her whole body at the kitchen work cupboard doors, and I mean throwing herself too, it was very enthusiastic! I just stopped myself laughing, just, though I laughed inside! Wow I thought this has gone far enough now, this behaviour could become completely ridiculous and very embarrassing for a dog trainer, in fact it is already!! I turned my back and looked out of the window then made myself busy doing jobs, after about 20 minutes, yes 20 whole minutes, Betty gave up that game and laid down, I fed her! The next few meal times I saw similar attempts, though her efforts started to dwindle until today I noticed her sitting in the kitchen near feed time, just watching me:) she was waiting for her food and she had twigged that sitting or lying got the right result!  Now I just have to stick to my side of the bargain:) and only feed her when she is giving me this sort of behaviour!

One or two of you have mentioned the mistakes you have made with your puppies, well I have to tell you I haven’t been so aware with my other puppies as I am with Betty, the process of learning is ongoing, Betty is teaching me so much! Each dog I have lived with has taught me more, pushing me to a new level each time.

How clever is she, how clever are all our dogs? They all do the same sort of thing, just start noticing your dogs attempts to train you:), becoming aware of how they train you or how you inadvertently train them!

I am waiting to hear! 🙂

Betty learning to sit

and down

High five!

Betty watching me!

Well this blog is really an exciting one for me to write, I am so excited by Betty and her training at just 11 weeks old!!!! As you won’t be able to guess what she did before I finish writing 🙂 I will just have to tell you :).

Betty went “down” on a word command only when she was 10 feet from me!!! yes she did! If you are not as amazed as me I want to know how come you are so clever:) ? And I will come to you for training!

It was just last Wednesday that she went down in front of me for the first time without my usual hand signal, and I think it only took that long because I have been teaching her sit, down and high-five! Normally I stick to 2 positions until a puppy gets them before introducing more, so she was slower than my other puppies have been to go down without a signal close by, but I think it has paid off! I obviously still have a lot to learn about dog training!

I haven’t ever asked a puppy of this age to go down at a distance from me before but 2 things happened earlier in the day that told me that Betty was cleverer than I was letting her be!

firstly the stuff we were doing in the kitchen and garden were so easy for her, I see it as easy for a puppy when they do the exercise really fast, and she was jet propelled!

But secondly it was when I was play retrieving with her in the garden. We had got into the habit when I threw a toy of her coming and lying behind me when I was sat on the grass, today I thought that is weird how I have let her do that, but like every dog owner I want success for her and I had continued to accept this as good enough, mmmm I thought, she is a Collie and I know her training genes, and she is well-bred for training, I wonder?  The next time she laid behind me with the toy, I didn’t look round, I stayed looking forward and said, daftly I know:) “Where’s Betty, oh Betty puppy, Betty Boop” and she came to the front of me! Well that was it now I knew she was being a Collie!!!! Collies will always try to control the game, herd the person and toy together, and that is what she was doing, albeit in a small way, she was turning me, just as Collies turn sheep! So no more turning from me, I threw the toy a couple more times, both times she went behind and both times I said “where’s Betty” and she came back round even faster, the third time I threw the toy she came straight to me in front! What is great is that not only have I made a big step in her retrieve I know more about Betty now too a lot more!

I must add when I say throwing the toy, I do only throw the toy a few feet from us, it is hot and she is young, I don’t want her exhausted:)

Anyway that is why I was thinking I have to push this little girl a bit more, not in a pressured way but simply ask and see what happens, I did just that. Which is why we came to be walking around the paddock, me with Betty’s dinner in my pocket and having done a few of the normal sits and downs and comes and high fives all as we walked around the paddock, I waited for her to wander away from me a little and said “Betty down” and she did, so having given her 5 bits of food in my excitement:) I continued to wait for her to go a bit further and try again! And, as I said before, she did it!!

No holding us back now, I am going to have to rack my brains for this little one to see what more we can do, while of course keeping these bits going!! 🙂

I must add too that since that first time Betty went down without the hand signal I sense her listening to me more, I could a bit before, but it is like now she has one word she wants to understand more! She is certainly responding appropriately when I say things like “where is it” when playing and similar. She may not know the words completely yet, but she is trying too and the best dog to train is the willing one:)!

I look forward to hearing about the words and signals your dogs understand and/or how they have surprised you:)?

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!