Dogs are our link to paradise

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't (2)

Yes that is so true. Dogs do not carry “complicated” feelings of jealousy, spite or evil. Dogs do what works, and what is safe for them. They do not think of the world the same way we do, they just enjoy the moment, and do not carry grudges. So with a world view that is so uncomplicated, what can we do to make them even happier?

Dogs are a different species trying to live in our human world, so as their guardians we have the responsibility to teach them to live in this world safely. This starts the moment the little, cute, fluffy puppy enters our home. The first thing most new puppy parents teach for the new family member is to go toilet outside. Toilet training can be very easy, especially if the breeders have done the grown work. Sometimes there can be “obstacles”, but with supervision and consistency you will succeed.

After toilet training comes the very important part, socialisation! This is the time when we introduce the puppy to the world and all the marvels of it. This can be quite scary, so it is immensely important to take these new experiences at your puppy’s pace, make them positive, and not at any time force interaction. Socialisation needs to include people, animals, places, surfaces, sounds, smells and so on.

Socialisation is also about where you live and if you are going to live in that place for the rest of your dogs life. Why? Well, if you live in the countryside and are happy to stay there for the length of your dogs life, most likely there is no reason to get your dog used to heavy car traffic and the noise of it, traffic lights, big buses etc. Whereas if you do live in the city, it is very important for your dog to be able to cope calmly to all this. But in the city you do not encounter livestock as you would in the countryside. So for the country dog living side by side with all these wonderful cows, bulls, sheep, alpacas, chickens to name but a few, is more important than traffic.

Well what then? We have introduced the big wide world to our new puppy, and he seems quite happy with all the new experiences. Next it is good to teach your dog how to behave in this human world ours in a way we find acceptable. So teaching basic manners of what we expect the dog to do in any upcoming situation is essential. This could be sit and wait before crossing the road, walk nicely on the lead, come when called, be happy to be handled by vet staff, enjoy car rides, and be happy to settle when we need a bit of own time. When teaching behaviours to your dog, you will get what you put in. And please remember dogs are not robots, but living, sentient beings, so even if you have taught them well, mistakes can happen. But like humans, dogs learn throughout their lives. It can be a bit harder to learn the older we and our dogs get, but we are still learning.  Be patient, consistent, positive and make it fun for the both of you!

The more work you do with your dog with socialisation and basic manners, the bigger your dogs world will become! The dogs can come with you on holidays, enjoy walks in new wonderful areas, happily join you for a cup of coffee at a cafe and even a walk in a busy market place saying hello to a multitude of new people. A dog that is not socialised and have not been taught how to live in the human world, can be scared of the world. And as a result the world becomes very small: walk in the same area, smelling the same stuff and looking at the same scenery day in and day out. Being worried about the strange looking person walking towards them, about that strange sound, and that awful smell… Not much of a life… So remember, dogs are our link to paradise, but we are their link to the world!

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Twas The Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas…Rescue Style

Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
With nary a thought of the dog in their heads.
And mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap,
Knew he was cold, but who cared about that?

When out on the lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
The dog must be loose; he’s into the trash!

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Santa Claus with eyes full of tears.

He unchained the dog, once so lively and quick,
Last year’s Christmas gift, now thin and sick.
More rapid than eagles, he called the dogs name,
And the dog went right to him, despite all his pain.
Now DASHER, Now DANCER, Now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On COMET, on CUPID, on DONNER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!!
Let’s find him a home where he’ll be loved by all!!

I knew in an instant there were no gifts this year.
For Santa had made our mistake very clear.
The gift of a dog is not just for the season,
We had gotten a pup for all the wrong reasons.

In our haste to think of a gift for the kids,
There was something important that we had missed.
A dog should be family, and cared for the same.
You don’t give a gift, then put it on a chain.

And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
“YOU WERE GIVEN A GIFT!! YOU WERE GIVEN A LIFE.”

-Author Unknown-

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Physical and Mental Exercise

enrichment 2Mum, I’m bored…                            Dogs are a lot like children. If you don’t give them something fun to do, they will make their own fun—and often not in ways you approve of.

Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise, and you get a happier, healthier, better-behaved dog. Well-exercised dogs bark less, chew less, sleep more, and rest easier if left home alone. They are also much less likely to rummage through the trash or attack the couch cushions.

What about leash walks?
Leash walks are great brainteasers because of all the sensory information dogs get from them, but they don’t count as aerobic exercise. Your dog needs to run, swim, or do something else that gets his heart pumping for at least 30 minutes every day.

Workouts for the body.
Chasing a ball or Frisbee. Swimming. Playing tug. Active play with other dogs. Off-leash romps or hikes.

Workouts for the brain.enrichment 3
Work to eat. Biologically speaking, your dog is not supposed to have a bowl of kibble plunked down in front of him. He is a hunter by nature, meant to work for his keep. Mimic this by serving your dog’s food in a Kong or treat ball. Your dog will spend the first part of the day figuring out how to get at his food and the rest of it recovering from the mental effort. Perfect!

Toys galore. Toys are a great way to engage your dog’s brain. Dogs have distinctly individual toy preferences, depending on the day, time, and situation. Do some detective work and find out what truly tickles your dog.

The best toys have a purpose. They deliver food, present a challenge, squeak, or make themselves interesting in some other way. Some classics to consider: Rope toys, plush toys (with or without squeakers), Hide-A-Bee (Squirrel, Bird), tricky treat balls, soft rubber toys (vinyl), and hard rubber toys like Kongs and nylabones.

Once you have a good selection, develop a toy strategy. Designate a popular toy for use only during alone time, like when you need to leave your dog in his crate, confinement area, or a spare room. Then, rotate the other toys daily to keep the novelty factor high!

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The Kong

A Kong is a hard rubber, snowman-shaped toy with a small hole on top and a large one on the bottom. A stuffed Kong can keep your dog occupied when crated or when you have visitors. It can provide mental stimulation and provide an outlet for your dog’s energy. And this wonderful chew toy can go a long way toward alleviating mild separation issues and boredom—just give a stuffed Kong to your dog as you leave or hide it so he has to find it and then excavate. (Be sure to provide stuffed Kongs randomly, not only when you leave, so they won’t become associated only with your absence.)

KONG-Classic-KONG-Dog-Toy-SizesBe sure to purchase a Kong that is big enough to stuff. Tiny dogs get a small Kong, but most small dogs get a medium Kong, medium dogs, a large or XL, and large dogs, an XL. There is even a size above XL for very large dogs. Kongs can be stuffed with anything that is safe for your dog to eat. (Never feed chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, or spicy foods.) Just plug the small hole with a chewy treat or peanut butter, flip the Kong over, and stuff! The stuffing should be well-packed so that your dog must work for it, but not so tightly stuffed that your dog will give up. For inexperienced excavators, make it easy at first by packing loosely and leaving a cookie sticking out of the large hole.

To feed your dog’s meal in the Kong:dog-kong-toy-by-OakleyOriginals

1. Measure out your dog’s kibble.
2. Fill the small hole with peanut butter, cheese or a soft dog treat. Flip the Kong upside down.
3. Scoop a teaspoon of canned dog food into the large hole. Then, add a layer of your dog’s kibble.
4. Repeat step 3 until you reach the top, ending in a layer of canned food.
5. Pour leftover kibble in a dish and place the stuffed Kong on top.
(This is also helpful for dogs who eat their food too fast or eat theirs and then try to steal another dog’s food.)

Suggestions for frozen Kongs that last even longer… Kongsicles!

frozen kong• If you have a puppy, moisten his kibble with water, stuff it in the Kong, and freeze it overnight. He’ll have a fun, energy-expending breakfast the following morning.

• Try various combinations of canned food, gravy, noodles, rice and mashed potatoes mixed with kibble, and freeze.

• Put a dab of peanut butter in the small hole. Turn the Kong upside down in a cup. Fill full of water, chicken broth or fruit juice and freeze. (Liquid-only frozen Kongsicles recommended for outdoor use.)

If you’re in a rush, a fast and easy way to stuff a Kong is to fill it with dog cookies and hot dogs. Squeeze the large opening so it elongates, then stuff with hot dog bits and cookies. The cookies should be just big enough to fit through the elongated hole. If you wish, finish with a bit of peanut butter smeared around the inside of the opening.

So have fun and enjoy the Kong!!!

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The Human Link

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't (2)Yes, dogs are our link to paradise, but we – humans – are their link to the world.
Dogs depend on us to to get to explore the everyday world. Checking messages from other canines on the familiar walk is interesting, but same route and area every day of the year gets boring… and keeps your dogs world quite small. Introducing your dog to new places for walks makes their world bigger. Think about the joy of running in a new forest or digging holes on a beach yet to be properly discovered! Make your dogs world exciting and take him to a new place for a walk today!

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Socialisation

puppy close up
Socialisation is the developmental process whereby puppies familiarise themselves with their constantly changing surroundings. Socialisation is the process of positively introducing your puppy to places, people, animals, sounds, objects and obstacles. It is how they work out what is safe and good as opposed to what is dangerous and not-so-good.

Socialisation is also time sensitive. The older your puppy gets, the harder preventing behaviour problems becomes. Up until 3-4 months of age your puppy’s brain is very open and accepting of what he comes across – socialisation window. After that, your puppy is genetically preprogrammed to become wary of new things, making it harder to shape him into an easygoing, friendly adult dog. Anything you want your puppy to cheerfully accept as an adult—people of all kinds, animals, things, and situations—you must introduce him to often and in a positive manner early!

socialisation new

When it comes to socialisation there unfortunately is no “one formula fits all”… Socialisation must be tailored to your puppy. It’s critical that you go at your puppy’s pace when socialising him, and never force him to interact with something. Creating positive associations to new experiences is essential. While simple exposure does play a role, it is not enough. Make a habit of linking your puppy’s new experiences to food or play.

 

Empower your puppy by ALLOWING HIM TO CHOOSE what he does and does not want to interact with.

OK, so how to socialise your puppy?
• Think about the things your puppy will see every week as an adult: Visit those places, see those people, or experience those things now.

• Help your puppy form positive associations: Cheer and praise him when he encounters something new. Offer a treat/play whenever possible.

Step 1. If your puppy seems even a bit nervous, move a little distance away, give him treats, and then walk away—anything he is unsure about should be encountered in short bursts.

Step 2. As soon as your puppy seems more relaxed, try again. As he sees or hears the thing that scared him before, start your cheerful praise and break out the treats.

Step 3. If your puppy did not seem nervous with the new thing or acts curious about it after he has been treated, go back and let him investigate a little more. Again, praise and treat.

Under-socialised dogs are at much greater risk of developing all sorts of behavioural problems stemming from fear—aggression, agoraphobia, and reactivity towards certain people and animals, for example.

Teach your puppy that the world is safe and prevent behaviour problems in the future!

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No longer wanted…

I recently read an article about one of UK’s oldest dogs – 23 year old Charlie. He was given up by his “original” family in 2010 when he was 16 years old. And the reason for this was “family was expecting a grandchild”… I am flabbergasted… After Charlie had been part of the family for 16 years, he is tossed aside without explanation. Can you imagine how he felt when he found himself in a rescue centre? He had no idea why he was suddenly in this unfamiliar and (most probably for him) scary place. And for older dogs the chances of getting a new home are very slim!

Thankfully Charlie was lucky and caught the eye of family Stuart, who gave him a new home with lovely siblings. With the new family doting on handsome Charlie, he has flourished and given them so far 7 wonderful years! You can read Charlie’s full story HERE.

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Another very common situation is giving up the dog when you can no longer be bothered… An approximately 4 year old golden retriever cross who is very reactive to other dogs, and has also bitten a child. The family say they have done everything they can to try and help their dog, but the behaviour has not changed. They feel that the best thing is to “put the dog down” as rehoming a dog that has bitten a person would be irresponsible. How did this happen? What has happened that this dog ended up loosing her life?

Well… Let’s start from the beginning! The children had been wanting a puppy for a looooong time, and finally the parents gave in. They got a puppy from a friend, whose dog had an “accidental” litter, and this made the children so happy. YEY! But as the summer is over and the school is back on again, the kids start to loose interest in the puppy. The parents also work full time, so the now adolescent dog, is left free to roam while the family is at work / school.

So left on her own devices during the day, this golden retriever cross finds her own fun in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately she has a couple of not great experiences with other dogs, and quickly learns that when she barks and charges at dogs walking past with their owners, they will go away. Threat avoided and mission accomplished!

Outside this dogs house is also a green area where there is usually a few kids playing. huggingShe enjoys the human company, so has joined in a few times. Unfortunately not all kids have been kind to her, but grabbed her collar quite roughly and also pulled her tail and ears… She has done her best to politely communicate to the kids that she does not like it, but the kids have not understood her. Finally when a kid once more grabs her collar and pulls her, she tells him “NO” by nipping the kids hand. And it works, as the boy immediately lets go. “OK, so that is how I get them to stop when I don’t like something!” Pretty quickly after the incident, the dogs family is informed of what happened on the green. And once they learned about it, they give the dog a good wallop on the head. The poor dog has no idea why her family is screaming at her and what she did to deserve the hit on the head…

A year or so passes,  and a similar incident occurs. And once again, when the family finds out about it, the dog is punished. But even after the second incident, the dog is still left free to roam during the day…

Eventually a year later, I was contacted to get help. I offered some ideas of how to help the situation before I got to meet the dog as well as the family. I told them how I work and what my fee would be. I also explained that helping their dog would require work from the whole family. The family did not hire my services.

The next I heard is that this golden retriever cross has been put down. I was dumbfound and so unbelievably sad for this poor dog. And the saddest thing about this all is that the family now has a new puppy…

Please understand that dogs are living, loving, feeling beings and not property (no matter what the law says!!!). Treat your dog with loving kindness, compassion and respect as well as take the time to learn their language. Remember that including a dog in your family is a commitment for life – the dogs entire, natural life, no matter what!

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