Essential Socialisation during Covid
In these difficult times I thought it worth emphasising that whilst the usual ideal puppy socialisation methods are not possible, you can and should still be doing as much as safely possible to ensure your puppy grows into a well-balanced older dog.
Getting your Puppy used to Sounds
One of my usual suggestions for any puppy (or even an older, un-socialised dog) is to buy a noises CD which will allow you to gradually accustom your puppy to a variety of different noises, such as traffic, children playing, fireworks, gunshots, etc.
See Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=sound+cd+dogs&ref=nb_sb_noss_2.
As usual, wash your hands properly on receipt of anything arriving through the mail, discard the packing and disinfect the contents.
The idea of the sounds CD is that you play the sounds at the lowest setting so that it does not upset your dog at all and your dog will become used to the sounds of a variety of outdoor and indoor occurrences. Once your puppy is 100% happy at the lower level, you very gradually turn up the sound so that your puppy can tolerate the sounds even, eventually, at a higher volume – be very patient and do very gradually or you may scare your puppy.
You can also associate the sounds with pleasant situations, such as playing the CD while you play or feed your puppy.
Alternatively, to avoid receiving goods through the post, there are also sounds available on the internet but, again, be very careful to start at an extremely low level.
You can, as part of each family member’s daily walk, still let your puppy see and hear others so long as you are at a safe distance. Dogs should not be touched by others as whilst there is no evidence that dogs carry the virus, if touched by someone infected this could then be passed on when another person touches your dog.
There is also some risk if dogs from different families are allowed to interact and whilst on off-lead walks that might prove difficult until you have a reliable recall then at least be sure to thoroughly wash your hands as advised. The Canine and Feline Sector Group have some good guidelines for the present circumstances – see http://www.cfsg.org.uk/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/SitePages/Home.aspx
Fancy Dress and Acting!
You can also dress up in a variety of clothes so that your puppy gets used to you wearing different hats, coats, fluorescent jackets (dogs are often scared by workmen wearing these), etc. This will help your puppy to be more accepting of others who are wearing a variety of clothing.
Practise your acting skills …. you can speak in different voices and vary the volume to ensure your puppy is used to a variety of different voices, and of course use the TV and radio to help this this. Again, start on a volume that your puppy is confident with and build up slowly.
You can also practise approaching your puppy in different ways and getting him or her used to a variety of ways in which people will approach. As always, do this gradually so as not to scare your puppy but you can include: approaching from the front, the side, from behind, touching your puppy over the head, under the chin, touching his tail and rear-end, approaching quietly and then more noisily, approaching faster, etc. Just to reiterate, always do each stage so that your puppy is happy with it and never do anything to scare them. You can also reward with a game or treat after this.
Keeping your puppy or older dog occupied
You can also practise some play-training at home to keep both your dog and yourself entertained! You can teach all the essential obedience exercises during play and games with your puppy and family members. See my blog article on how to teach your puppy or dog to retrieve.
You could also improve obedience (which helps when playing any type of game but especially if you want your puppy to remain in position while you hide food or toys before sending them to either retrieve or eat the goodies you have hidden). This article on teaching your puppy a ‘Release Command’ will help a lot:
You can also give your puppy or older dog a variety of interactive toys to keep them mentally and physically occupied:
Since the easing of lockdown I can now offer face-to-face training in your own gardens or in a suitable public area so long as strict adherence to Covid guidelines are maintained and with a maximum of two people from your household present. I also offer telephone advice for puppy behaviour (such as housetraining, play-biting, chewing, etc).
I can also offer video training to help you progress your puppy’s or older dog’s training, which will also help you to keep your dog better mentally entertained which results in a more relaxed puppy in general.
Meanwhile, keep safe and stick to the government guidelines and hopefully if everyone adheres to the safety advice then we will all be rid of this virus sooner rather than later. I am worried about all the rescue dogs which will have finding their forever homes delayed during this period so please do continue to support your favourite dog rehoming charities and to consider a rescue dog in the future.
The importance of correct puppy socialisation
A former puppy of mine having plenty of socialisation – made possible by her puppy pram! This was done before vaccinations but also afterwards so she was able to be out for longer without damage to her joints (or mine!)
She is now a fully qualified working Canine Partners Assistance Dog.
Without a huge amount of correct socialisation and training these amazing assistance dogs cannot be prepared for their future working life.
When your puppy is very young, or if you have a small breed puppy, then you do not need the pram but can of course carry your puppy (ensure collar and ID tag on and hold comfortably and securely) or use a puppy sling.
With this puppy however socialisation was even more important for her to qualify as an Assistance Dog so, as mentioned above, I used the pram even after vaccinations to ensure plenty of longer outings without the risk of over-doing her exercise. She was very happy and calm in the pram so I was able to do this but do remember that all these experiences must be positive so your puppy must be 100% happy and confident about remaining in the pram.
Include training and good manners within socialisation
As part of socialising, I also consider it is extremely important to include your own puppy’s behaviour and how to include training into the socialisation experience – see below for more tips on this.
Be aware that socialisation experiences should be positive
So, for example, for the introduction to a pram, you will need to:
- Introduce your puppy gradually to the pram.
- Associate it with treats and toys and cuddles.
- Please do NOT just put your puppy in the pram and start pushing or they will remain scared of prams for life – this must be a positive experience for them.
- Ensure they are comfortably and safely secured in the pram and, of course, only allow a responsible adult to take charge of the pram.
- There are lots of prams available on Amazon and I prefer the type, as above, where the puppy is securely strapped in but the top is wide open so they can see everything clearly. Or, for smaller puppies, you can use a sling.
Check with your breeder what socialisation they will do, or have already done
This is so very important so if you have not already bought your puppy then please ask the potential breeder what socialistion they are to do, or have already done, with your puppy. If they are vague or seem uncaring then please walk away and find another breeder.
A good guide for what to ask a breeder is the RSPCA’s and Animal Welfare Foundation’s Puppy Contract.
I still see many puppies who have so obviously been bought from commercial and uncaring breeders who have had no health checks, are in bad health and are very nervous.
Nervousness may be due to:
- The appalling conditions some puppies are kept in and bad experiences.
- Imprinted behaviour from a nervous and ill-treated mother.
- A lack of correct socialisation (positive associations with a variety of people and other animals).
- A lack of habituation (positive associations with a variety inanimate objects (hoover, traffic, etc).
Think carefully before you consider a pet shop ‘puppy party’
These pet shop parties are quite unnecessary and from what I have seen, and what owners have told me over the years, they are designed to entice you into their stores to spend your money and are rarely adequately supervised. This means your puppy may learn all the wrong things:
- Ignore my owners whenever I see other dogs.
- Be a bully and play roughly with other dogs.
- Learn to be fearful of other dogs which are allowed to jump on, chase and intimidate me.
- Learn to use aggression to protect myself when other dogs are too rough.
What your puppy learns when he or she is young will have ever-lasting effects on his or her behaviour and so bad habits will be engrained in your puppy’s future behaviour.
Puppies learn very quickly; it is the amazing science of learning in order to achieve survival, and that is why early experiences are never forgotten. At best, you may be able to improve upon some early-learned behaviours but remember that you can never erase an experience and its related emotions.
Unless you have been to watch the events without your dog and are happy that they are well supervised by knowledgeable and caring dog professionals, then it is best to avoid them. They are rarely run by qualified dog behaviourists and are intended to bring in more business for their stores rather than give the very best of socialisation experiences, which can be done more naturally and effectively by choosing suitable exercise areas and visitors to your home and garden.
Please ensure walks are suitable socialisation and training
When walking with friends’ dogs try to ensure that:
- Your puppy is learning to socialise nicely (no bullying and no being bullied).
- Your puppy is learning to focus mainly on you (I like to use lots of toys, games, some treats, and lots of fun with your puppy) – see my other blog on article on suitable puppy toys.
- You are not allowing your dog to learn that when he goes on a walk and is off-lead he can ignore you for the entire time you are out!
- Remember that what a puppy learns as a young dog will be engrained into his education for the future so ensure he starts on the right track, with a good balance with some doggy play but lots of play with you.
What you should be doing to raise a well-balanced and happy puppy
- As in the photo above, the best thing you can do is ensure your puppy has lots of positive experiences as soon as you get your puppy.
- Remember that it is better to take things very slowly than to rush and ruin your puppy’s confidence. This is particularly important if you already have a nervous puppy.
- If you have bought from a knowledgeable and caring breeder they should already have started a good socialisation process and this is something you should have asked them.
- This means very gradually introducing him to a whole range of people and other animals (socialisation) and other inanimate stimuli (habituation), such as outlined above.
- By carrying or having your puppy in a pram, you can ensure your puppy is learning to be a confident and relaxed dog in a variety of environments, with a variety of people and other animals.
- As above, use daily walks for socialisation and play-training.
Experiences must be gradual and never over-face your puppy with too much at a time.
- Carry to a very quiet road at first and stand a distance away from traffic so your puppy does not become scared by very loud, rattling or speeding vehicles.
- Introduce to people one at a time, particularly children, so he learns to associative positive experiences with everyone. Include, men, women, children, people with hats, beards, glasses, yellow vests, quiet, young, old.
- Your puppy can meet other dogs so long you are sure they are fully vaccinated and that the dogs are good natured and will give the puppy a positive experience. Note that some dogs will warn a puppy when it becomes too much and that is not a bad thing so long as it is only a verbal warning and nothing more and so long as the experience is more positive than negative.
- Buy a sounds CD (I used ‘Sounds Scary’) and start at the very lowest volume (remember you puppy’s hearing is way more sensitive than yours) and turn up a notch at a time to accustom your puppy to lots of indoor and outdoor noises. You can also link this with play and meals or treats to further help your puppy.
- You should take your puppy to a different place each day to ensure they become accustomed to a variety of different experiences.
How your puppy should be behaving
As your puppy is allowed to go out walking make sure that good experiences continue but also that he or she is learning how he should behave. This means:
- Polite greetings with people – do not allow to jump up but ask people to bend down to greet your puppy. You can also very gently put a finger in your pup’s collar to prevent jumping up or, even better, teach to sit-stay to greet.
- Polite and happy interactions with other dogs – your pup should be allowed to play with other dogs but you also need to have taught your puppy to play correctly with you so that you can call away from doggy games back to you for fun. This is really important if you want your dog to come when called.
- Make sure your dog is happy interacting with other dogs – he should not be a bully or be playing toO rough and frightening other dogs. I see too many dogs who have been a well-balanced puppy until another dog has acted very aggressively towards them. A verbal warning from another dog is acceptable and normal dog behaviour but jumping aggressively on another dog or chasing a frightened dog is not helpful for other owners and their dogs.
- Ensure your puppy learns to focus on you and never to chase joggers, cyclists, cars, etc. This is particularly important if you have a breed which naturally likes to chase or herd (German Shepherds and Border Collies are the breeds I see most often with this trait).
Hard work pays off …
Yes, it is a lot of work to correctly raise a puppy, but so worth it when you have a happy and well mannered puppy who will develop into a dog which is a pleasure to take out.
It is also lovely when people comment on how well behaved your dog is! And when you need a dog-sitter you will be able to find friends and family who will happily look after your precious boy or girl.
Happy socialising and training.
Also before you buy, please see my other articles on buying a puppy:
Responsible Puppy Purchasing
Essential Health Tests to Research Before you Buy your Puppy
Best Start for your Puppy or Rescue Dog
© Sally Bartlett
Titre testing (serological testing for antibodies present in the blood) can give an idea of how well protected your dog is from previous vaccinations. However, it is not available for every disease and may not be 100% relied on to make sure your dog is protected.
Just for your information, the Oxford English dictionary notes that ‘titre’ can be pronounced ‘tighter’ or ‘teeter’ – just so you know when you speak to your vet.
Your vet might recommend a titre test if:
- You are unsure whether to vaccinate your dog (because previous vaccinations may still be sufficient to give cover and you do not want to vaccinate unnecessarily)
- You are avoiding vaccination because of a specific worry (eg, if your dog previously had an allergic reaction to their booster or if their immune system is not functioning properly).
In these cases, titre tests can give an idea of whether your dog will be able to fight off the diseases they have previously had vaccines for and help decide whether it is safer to vaccinate your dog or miss a booster.
Reference: PDSA, 2019https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/vaccinating-your-dog?_$ja=tsid:67827|cid:841731071|agid:41896001454|tid:kwd-297510131716|crid:222232087333|nw:g|rnd:10616432423478660287|dvc:c|adp:1t1|mt:b|loc:9045864&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjv2Qntn64AIVCPhRCh0QnAEQEAAYASAAEgJqKPD_BwE
Serological Testing to determine the Duration of Immunity (DOI)
(Taken from a WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) article: www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/PDF_old/WSAVA-Vaccination-Guidelines-2015-Full-Version.pdf )
Serological Testing to determine the DOI antibody tests can be used to demonstrate the DOI after vaccination with core vaccines. It is known that a large majority of dogs maintain protective antibody against CDV, CPV-2, CAV-1 and CAV-2 for many years and numerous experimental studies support this observation Therefore, when antibody is absent the dog should be revaccinated unless there is a medical reason for not so doing, even though some will be protected by immunological memory. Antibody determinations to other vaccine components are of limited or no value because of the short time period that these antibodies persist (e.g. Leptospira products) or the lack of correlation between serum antibody and protection (e.g. Leptospira and Canine Parainfluenza). The VGG (BSAVA Vaccinations Guidelines Group) recognizes that at present such serological testing might be relatively expensive. However, the principles of ‘evidence-based veterinary medicine’ suggest that testing for antibody status (for either puppies or adult dogs) should be better practice than simply administering a vaccine booster on the basis that this would be ‘safe and cost less’.
How should you ask for titre testing for your dog?
You can ask your vet to do this for you but it is worth asking them to use Vaccicheck ( www.vaccicheck.com ) which is considerably cheaper than other tests. Prices are not given on the website but it is worth asking your vet for the price as a trusted dog-owner contact of mine reported a very large difference in pricing with no negative quality issues.
How often should vaccinations be given?
Core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 12-month booster injections following the puppy’s first vaccinations, because the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet.
WSAVA states that non-core vaccines (Leptospirosis and Kennel Cough) cannot be titre tested and are usually required to be given annually.
Core and non-core canine vaccinations in the UK
An article on the BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) states the following (summarised article below for ease of reading but for full report please see link):
Core vaccines for dogs in the UK are those which protect against:
- Canine Distemper virus (CDV)
- Canine Adenovirus/Infectious Canine Hepatitis (CAV)
- Canine Parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2)
- The BSAVA website also lists Leptospirosis as a core vaccine although other sources (including WSAVA) list this as ‘non-core.’ Some owners do not renew this after the initial puppy and subsequent year’s booster vaccinations – however, you should always consult your vet for their opinion on the risks and benefits for your dog.
Non-core vaccines for dogs in the UK are those which protect against:
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough) either given together with or without the Canine Parainfluenza Virus vaccine. This vaccination should be considered for dogs before kennelling or other situations in which they mix with other dogs.
- Rabies – legal requirement for dogs travelling abroad or returning to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme
- Canine Herpes Virus – for breeding bitches
- Leishmaniasis – before travelling to endemic areas
- Borrelia Burgodorferi (Lyme disease) – for dogs at high risk of exposure
Other health-related articles you may find of interest are:
- Essential health tests before you buy your puppy
- Keeping your dog healthy this winter
- Dog 1st Aid Kits
© Sally Bartlett
If you have a dog which you are not able to walk off-lead in open spaces for any reason then the following links may be of interest to you, and your dogs will thank you for looking into this.
Between South Nutfield (near Redhill) and Smallfield
I have visited this South Nutfield field and it is a lovely area, completely fenced in, and suitable for off-lead romps for your dogs. It is about 6 acres of meadow and mown paths so a lovely variety of areas for your dog to explore.
Silverleigh Fields at Leigh
I have not personally visited this field but have heard good reports from other dog owners. Another large fenced in area for your dogs to have countryside runs in.
For more enclosed dog walking locations
Follow the link, enter your postcode and how far you are willing to travel and you will find suitable locations close to you.
Training and behavioural advice to allow you to walk your dog in public places
If you would like help addressing any of the issues which prevent you currently walking your dog off-lead in open spaces then do please contact me for a chat about the problems you are experiencing and the ways in which I can help you.
Whilst I appreciate some dogs may not be suitable to socialise or enjoy free-running walks, I see many dogs which are not allowed off-lead simply due to lack of effective training or socialising and that is such a shame as it limits both your dogs’ and your own enjoyment of daily walks.
© Sally Bartlett
Ensure you buy a healthy, happy puppy
To ensure you buy the healthiest puppy possible, and to ensure you are not funding unscrupulous and uncaring breeders, please read this article.
A note on buying cross-breeds
Even when buying a cross-breed puppy, their parents should still have been health-checked and they should be on the Kennel Club health registration list. The cross-breed puppies themselves cannot be registered but any health tests done on the parents can be noted if they are a registered pedigree dog. Please, therefore, ask the breeder for the parents’ Registered Name or Registration/Studbook Number and check online at the Kennel Club. If they have not done this then you are buying a puppy with potential health problems.
Also see this link with information from the ‘Doodle Trust’
When buying a cross-breed, you should also research, as below, which health issues each of the parents’ breeds should be tested for.
A simple way to check health test requirements
There is a very easy way to check which health tests are recommended for your preferred breed of dog and that is via the Kennel Club’s ‘Health Information’ page which lists each breed’s recommended health tests on the parents of the puppy and, in some cases, on the puppies themselves, prior to leaving the breeder’s. You can check the health requirements of each breed at: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/Default.aspx and then:
- Enter the name of your preferred breed
- On the right hand side of that breed’s page you will see another column – select ‘Health Information’
- You will then see a list of mandatory health
tests for Kennel Club Assured Breeders
(please note that many Kennel Club breeders are not Assured Breeders and therefore do not have to carry out such tests – they are only ‘strongly advised’ to use the schemes).
- You should also select on the right hand side
column ‘Breed Watch’ – this scheme is set up by the Kennel Club and its
objective is to serve as an ‘early warning system’ to identify points of
concern for individual breeds. Its main purpose is to enable anyone involved in
the world of dogs, but in particular dog show judges, to find out about any
breed specific conformational issues which may lead to health problems. For more information see:
For more about the Assured Breeder Scheme please see:
Checking your puppy’s sire and dam have been health checked
You will need to ask your breeder for the parents’ Registered Name or Registration/Studbook Number and you can then check on the Kennel Club’s website. Go to the link below and enter the details you have been given:
example of health test recommendations (for the Standard Poodle)
(Including X-ray, Eye Tests, DNA Screening)
BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia
scheme (British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club)
The hip score is the sum of the points awarded for each of nine aspects of the X-rays of both hip joints. The minimum hip score is 0 and the maximum is 106 (53 for each hip). The lower the score the less the degree of hip dysplasia present. An average (mean) score is calculated for all breeds scored under the scheme, as is the median (middle) score. Advice for breeders is to use only breeding stock with scores well below the breed mean score and ideally below the median. The minimum age for hip scoring is one year, and each dog is only ever scored once under the scheme.
At the centre of the eye health schemes are two schedules: Schedule A and Schedule B:
Eye testing should be done under the KC/BVA/ISDS Eye Scheme or the ECVO Scheme.
BVA/KC/ ISDS Eye Scheme
This offers breeders the possibility of eye testing to screen for inherited eye disease and to eliminate or reduce the frequency of eye disease being passed on to puppies.
Schedule A contains a list of breeds and eye conditions that are known to be inherited in those breeds, with results of these diseases being passed to the KC for inclusion in the tested dog’s registration database. List of breeds and conditions on Schedule A: www.bva.co.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/Canine_Health_Schemes/Schedule%20A%20-%20List%20of%20breeds%20and%20inherited%20conditions%20currently%20certified%20under%20the%20Eye%20Scheme.pdf
Schedule B is a list of breeds and conditions which are suspected of being inherited in those breeds. However, these tests are not found on the Health Test Finder results. www.bva.co.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/Canine_Health_Schemes/Schedule%20B%20-%20List%20of%20breeds%20and%20conditions%20that%20may%20be%20inherited.pdf
In general, it is recommended that eyes are examined annually (except for glaucoma predisposition which should be done every three years by a separate gonioscopy test).
The advice given to breeders is to only breed from dogs which are found to be unaffected (clear) of all known conditions in the breed. For more information about the gonioscopy test, please click here: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/662726/gonioscopy_leaflet__july_2015.pdf
For more information about the scheme, please visit www.bva.co.uk.
ECVO Eye scheme
In addition to the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme the Kennel Club now also record the ECVO (European College of Veterinary Opthalmologists) Eye Scheme. This scheme covers 14 inherited eye conditions in dogs and they are classified as unaffected, affected or suspicious. However, it also includes a general examination of the eyes and surrounding tissues (adnexa), so may reveal other (not inherited) eye disease as well.
In some cases, puppies should be screened prior to leaving the breeder
For example, in the Miniature Schnauzer this is for Congenital Hereditary Cataracts (CHA).
Until DNA tests are available to help eradicate these conditions from the breed, caring breeders should:
- Eye-test for CHC any dog or bitch used in a breeding programme
- Screen for CHC every litter (between 5 – 8 weeks old)
When looking to buy a puppy, any caring and responsible breeder will be happy to show you Eye Test Certificates of the mother (dam) and the sire (father) confirming they are ‘clinically unaffected’ (and eye tested within the previous 12 months). You would also see the Litter Screening Form (LTS) proving that the litter is clear of CHC at the time you collect your puppy. Please see link to full article: http://www.theminiatureschnauzerclub.co.uk/health/hereditary-eye-problems
DNA Testing for Von Willebrand’s Disease
The condition is caused by a deficiency of von Willebrand Factor (vWF), a protein that plays a central role in blood clotting. Von Willebrand’s disease vWD usually comes in two major types: Type I and Type III. Type III is a severe bleeding disorder with a high risk of spontaneous bleeding as well as a risk of serious bleeding from trauma and surgery. Type 1 is a less severe form.
More information on DNA Testing
Contact your preferred breed’s Breed Council / Club
This should give more information on choosing and caring for the breed and also list any health concerns which are not noted elsewhere.
Talk to other Dog Owners
Talk to Kennel Club Assured Breeders (found via the Kennel Club’s Breed Information page) and other dog owners. Ask about their health and temperament to help you decide whether this is the right breed for you and to make you aware of the health issues. Ask the age of their dog and if any health issues with their dogs or any they are aware of in the breed which are not noted on the Kennel Club site. For example, toe cancer is known to be more prevalent in large black dogs and I personally know a Giant Schnauzer owner whose two dogs had several cases of this, resulting in toes being removed. See article:
also see my previous article on ‘Responsible Puppy Purchasing’
Please buy responsibly and help prevent further suffering – thank you.
© Sally Bartlett
As the cold weather seems unrelenting, I thought a note on how best to look after your dogs in this cold spell would be useful.
Battersea have a good summary of the points needed in the link below:
Beware Rock Salt on Pavements
Also, not mentioned in the Battersea notes are that if rock salt has been spread on the ground and your dog licks at his/her paws, it is poisonous so please be aware of this – it can also cause burns to the mouth and dehydration.
Keep Antifreeze away from Pets
Remember too that if you are using antifreeze this is poisonous (and especially so to cats who find its sweet taste quite appealing and just a few drops to cats can be fatal).
And how would anyone know… ?
This was a very sensible question asked recently by the charity, Dog A.I.D. (Assistance in Disability), who assist people with physical disabilities to improve their quality of life by helping them train their own pet dogs to provide assistance with day-to-day tasks and, in some circumstances, providing life-saving interventions.
Dog A.I.D. are currently working with a local ambulance service to see if there is a protocol which can be developed to ensure provisions are made for dogs in the case of emergencies involving their owners.
As a trainer with Dog A.I.D., when I saw this article it made me think that this could also of course happen to any dog owner, particularly someone living alone, whatever their age.
Some solutions to this, I thought, may be:
- Have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number of a friend on your dog’s I.D. tag (if needs be then have a second tag with this information on – for a second tag you can buy a lighter weight acrylic tag ( www.identitag.co.uk ).
- Indigo Tags ( www.indigocollartags.com ) are a good online company which makes a variable size of tags and this link will take you to their tags which slide onto collars.
- If necessary, as well as your usual ICE number in your mobile phone, have a second one which says ‘ICE DOG’ (although of course if the keypad is locked this will not help).
- Have a sticker on the reverse of your mobile phone with both your usual ICE number and ICE DOG number making it clear that there is a dog at home which needs caring for.
- Have an ICE note put in a prominent place in your home, such as the fridge door, which will include the name of the person able to care for your dog in an emergency (and even the name of the kennels you would prefer to be used if no-one is available).
- Keep a note of the ICE DOG details in your wallet or purse, again, making it clear that there is a dog at your home which needs caring for.
I have had two accidents in the home in the last week where I was lucky not to have suffered broken bones or concussion. These things happen so do please get your dog’s ICE information made available in case of an emergency and hopefully they will never be needed.
Oh yes, and, please do not text while driving!
© Sally Bartlett
ZooPlus (www.zooplus.co.uk ) offer a mail order service for dog food (and other animal feed) and one of my client-friends recommended this as his savings per year are substantial for buying his dog food here.
ZooPlus sell dry food, wet food, raw food and dog treats (plus other doggy merchandise).
As always, when buying your dog food please ensure you are feeding the best quality food that you can afford. The good news is that the most expensive is not always the best for your pet as the price may just reflect all the funding put into extensive marketing!
My only minus point for this site is that I notice (along with many high-street pet-food suppliers) that they also sell cages for birds and as a person who loathes any animal being caged I would please ask people to feed wild birds rather than lock birds away in a cage – I really don’t see how the Animal Welfare Act allows this cruel practice to continue. Lecture ended! Please see below for more advice on dog food.
Checking the Quality of Dog Food
A very good site to check the quality of dog food is: www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk – here you can check on each brand, ingredients, nutritional composition. In addition to this there are many filters which help you select the right food for your dog and a big plus is that any ingredient considered not 100% healthy for your dog is highlighted in red (just click on that highlight and you will see why it has been brought to your attention).
More Information on a Healthy Diet for your Dog
For more information on finding the best diet for your dog please also see my other blog article on ‘Healthy Diets for Dogs’ (https://co-operativecanines.proimageblogs.com/healthy-diets-for-dogs-researching-your-dogs-food )
A helpful temperature chart with guidelines
Knowing when it is too hot to take a dog out is really important in this weather and pet insurer, Petplan, have made up a useful little chart on their blog to clarify this: www.gopetplan.com/blogpost/hot-weather-and-dogs
Obviously common sense should prevail and by knowing your own dog and how they cope in the heat should guide you but this chart does give clearer guidelines of when to exercise.
Continuing hot summers
As the UK weather seems forecast to continue with hot weather over the coming years then it is worth remembering the advice given by Petplan and below.
Other methods to keep your dog cool
During this recent hot weather I have been doing a few things to help:
- Opening windows as much as possible to allow a breeze through (be careful of safety though).
- Drawing curtains and blinds to keep out the sun.
- Buy fans to keep air circulating (please do not aim straight at the dog).
- If your dog has warm bedding then allow him/her access to another surface to lie on, such as a cool tiled floor.
- Ensure your dog is able to sleep and rest in the coolest part of your home which they may not usually have access to (in which case ensure it is safe for them).
- I use a cotton cover rather than a warmer fleece for bedding in this weather (and also in the car).
- I give some special cool treats – see previously blog article:
- See also my play-biting document for how to make frozen kongs:
- For car travel in hot weather please see my previous blog:
- Buy a special dog cooling mat (personally I have not done this but have heard good reports).
- Fill a child’s paddling pool and let your dog paddle and you can drop vegetable treats (safe ones) in the pool to encourage your dog in and to give some entertainment when it is too hot to walk. With paddling pools, of course make sure they are safe and that your dog can easily get in and out without injury. Also please leave something in which would help a bird easily get out if necessary. Or, safely cover the pool when not in use which will keep it cleaner and avoid wildlife being injured.
- Avoid walking when it is hot – get up early and/or walk much later in the evening.
- Walk in shady areas such as woods (as in the photo above) although when it is very hot the humidity will still make it too hot to walk.
- If you can find shady areas with clean water then even better (photo above taken at the ‘Secret Garden’ on Ashdown Forest).
- If you live close to a beach then a cool sea breeze and a paddle may be possible – just be careful of the hot sand as that can burn paws.
- Or when it is just too hot to walk at all, you can give entertainment by other methods – see my play-biting blog for ideas:
- Also keep your dog brushed and combed to reduce a build up of excess hair and/or take them to the groomers to be clipped.
- If your dog enjoys being hosed off, then hose with lukewarm or cool water.
If your dog is showing signs of heat stroke then you must take him/her to the vet immediately.
If you have any more tips on how to keep your dog cool, please add them to this blog.
Wishing you a happy and safe August!
© Sally Bartlett
The ‘release’ command
This simple training exercise will make a huge difference on how much control you have over your dog and is used to teach your dog to remain in position when asked (Wait, Stay, Sit, Down, Stand) and also useful when asked to ‘Leave’.
Having control over a dog contrarily gives your dog more freedom as you will be able to take her to more places in the knowledge that you can control her better both on and off lead, in the home or out in public.
What is the ‘little word’?
I use ‘OK’ but you can use any word or phrase you wish.
As mentioned above, it is referred to in training terms as the ‘release’ command.
Why use it?
The main reason I see regularly as to why a dog won’t remain in position is that she has never been taught to do so until ‘released’. Lots of dogs incorrectly learn that they may move out of position as soon as they have received a treat.
This means a dog will sit (or other command given) for only a few seconds (usually, as above, until given a treat) and then move out of position.
The above scenario is obviously not much use in practical terms as we want our dogs to remain in position until we decide it is time for them to move. For example:
- Sitting to greet people (instead of jumping up).
- Waiting at the kerb before crossing the road.
- Settling in a down while we enjoy lunch at the pub.
- Settling in the evening (Go-to-Bed and Down) instead of running around grabbing your ankles!
- As in the above photo, two of my ‘students’ trained not to move until asked means taking photos of your dogs is much easier – set them up where you want them and they won’t move until you tell them it’s ‘OK’ to do so. (See also actiondogphotography.co.uk for professional images of your friends and pet photography training.
How to teach the release command
Introduce this with the first control exercise you ever use. I use Wait as it is so easy to do, even with very young puppies) and you can use it in several ways. It doesn’t matter if your dog stands, sits or lies down – that is the advantage of teaching the Wait; it is so easy.
How to teach the Wait & OK when letting puppies out of a crate or pen
- Open the crate door slowly with one hand and have the other hand ready to stop your puppy coming out.
- As you restrain your puppy, tell her Wait.
- When she stops wriggling and trying to get out then praise her very quietly.
- Then tell her OK and allow her out of the crate.
NOW GET HER OUTSIDE QUICKLY TO THE TOILET! IF YOU KNOW THAT YOUR PUPPY IS DESPERATE TO GO THE TOILET AT ANY TIME, EG FIRST THING IN THE MORNING THEN THAT IS NOT THE TIME TO START TEACHING THE WAIT!
How to teach the Wait & OK at the door or kerb
- Have your dog on lead.
- With your dog at your side and on a short-ish lead ask your dog to Wait.
- If she fidgets just correct her back to your side until she stops. It doesn’t matter if she stands, sits or lies down, that is the advantage of using the Wait command. You just want her to remain still without pulling on lead or fidgeting.
- Once she is still for a few seconds then very quietly and calmly praise her, wait another few seconds and then tell her OK and then you move forward encouraging your dog to go with you because at first your dog won’t know what the OK means (but see below for tone of voice use).
How to teach your dog not to snatch toys
As mentioned above, you can teach your dog to ‘leave’ an item until you give the OK to take it; that may be meals, toys, treats, etc.
- Pick up a dog toy and tell your dog to Leave (assuming it has been taught this command).
- Wait until your dog is calmly standing and leaving the item and then praise quietly, as above.
- Just before you give the toy to your dog give the OK (some people do a similar thing but use a more specific command such as ‘Take-it’ – it doesn’t matter what you use so long as your dog understands what she is meant to do and learns good manners).
Using your tone of voice to communicate
To help your dog understand what is required you will need to make use of difference tones of voice:
- The command to Wait should be clear and confident.
- The praise should be v-e-r-y q-u-i-e-t a-n-d s-l-o-w (if you sound jolly and excited she will leap out of position and want to play with you!)
- The release command OK should be in a jolly higher pitched voice which will naturally encourage her to move. However if this makes your dog leap ahead or bound around then make it less jolly and excited – you just have to get the balance right for each dog.
Once your dog has learned they should not move from the Wait, then it is much easier to teach them to remain in position for Sit and Down, and much quicker for them to learn not to snatch toys, so all your early efforts teaching the Wait and release will also pay off later.
When you don’t need to use the release command
If you are giving another command, such as Heel, Come Here, or any other command then you don’t need to say the ‘OK’.
Problems with your dog learning to remain in position
The most common problems are a lack of consistency, either because:
- You forget to give the OK command every time.
- Other members of your family or a dog-walker do not know or do not remember. Be sure to tell everyone involved in training your dog what all of the commands are. Write them up and put them in a place where everyone will see them, eg on the fridge for your family. If you have a dog walker then that is more difficult for them but the good ones will be teaching some basic obedience on walks and should be doing this before they let dogs off.
Enjoy your dog’s company and have fun but do please practise a little training each day and you will see results.
As always, if things are not going as well as you would like then please get in touch.
© Sally Bartlett