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Providing the best exercise for your dog

Posted on 5 March, 2018 at 1:55 Comments comments (8)

Advantages of regular exercise for your dog

The advantages of providing your dog with regular walks and exercise include helping to prevent injury by keeping the muscles supporting the bones and tendons strong.It also increases the cardiovascular system and reduces fat preventing obesity and helps maintain a healthy weight. For overall health, it improves gastrointestinal regularity, strengthens the immune system and improves sleeping and eating patterns. The psychological benefits to your dog are that it provides mental stimulation and enrichment and prevents behavior issues like jumping up, digging, chewing and nuisance barking.


Consequences of not providing regular exercise for your dog

The consequences of not providing adequate regular exercise and walks for your dog are that it can result in a dog that is unhealthy, bored, frustrated and just plain unhappy. Most excessive barking, chewing, jumping, digging and running away behavioral problems are caused by boredom and pent-up energy. It’s like living with a time bomb! You never know when it will go off…or how much damage it will do. The cost isn’t just in terms of property as the cost to your dog’s psychological health and ultimately physical health and could cost you a lot more in vet costs and dog trainers to fix their behavioral problems and health issues.

To learn more about dog exercise and for helpful tips and advise visit

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12 Common Dog Bathing Mistakes

Posted on 19 February, 2018 at 21:55 Comments comments (3)

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Some dogs enjoy having a bath but for the vast majority bath time is a little stressful and for some, it is something to be avoided at all costs. To make giving your dog a bath easier and less stressful it is best to avoid these common mistakes.


Not getting organized first

Have everything you are going to need organized and within reach before you start. There is nothing worse than having a soaking wet dog in the bath and you can't reach a dry towel. It is guaranteed that you and the room are going to get wet.


Not brushing first

It is important to give your dog a brush before you bath them. Any knots or tangles will absorb the water and tighten making it much higher to remove them once the dog is dry. With a double coated dog remove as much of the dead undercoat as it will take a lot longer for them to dry, will leave a lot of fur in the bath making for more mess to clean up and may also cause matting. Avoid brushing your dog when they are wet as this is more likely to cause brush burn and damage to the skin. Once they are fully dry after the bath give them another brush to ensure there are no tangles and it will help to remove any remaining undercoat.


Bathing too often or not enough

How often you bath your dog will depend upon a number of factors such as how dirty or smelly they get and the type of coat. Bathing too often can strip the natural oil from their coat causing dry and sensitive skin. If you are bathing more often than every three or four weeks I would recommend using a shampoo that is formulated for frequent bathing such as a natural or soap free shampoo. Not bathing often enough results in your dog not getting used to the whole process and probably not meeting their grooming requirements are probably not being met.


Bathing your dog while over excited or energized.

Give your dog a walk and some exercise with a period of relaxation before the bath to ensure they are calm and not over-excited. While doing the bathing talk to them in a calm relaxed manner to give them reassurance. Talking to your dog in a high-pitched excited manner will reinforce and give energy to an already excited or anxious state.


Using a human shampoo or conditioner.

You should never use your own shampoo on your dog as dog fur has a different pH level than human hair and the harsh chemicals in a lot of human shampoo can irritate the skin.. Select a shampoo that is suitable for your dog's needs. For more on shampoo selection refer to bathing section.







Wrong water temperature

The natural body temperature of a dog is higher than that of a human so you don't want to have the water as hot as you would for your own shower. The ideal temperature is lukewarm around room temperature. If the water is too hot or even too cold it will create a negative experience for your dog making bath time even less fun for them than is probably already is. Test the water temperature on your forearm first to test it as this area of your skin is more sensitive to temperature than your hands.


Harsh water pressure

If using a hand-held shower head to bathe your dog, which is probably the easiest way the sound and spray of water can frighten and unsettle your dog. If you shower has an adjustment to decrease or increase the water flow set it at a level that is sufficient to wet the coat but not so full on that water is hitting your dog and spraying everywhere. If you don't have this adjustment compatibility with your shower you can use allow the water to hit your opposite hand before hitting the dog.


Getting shampoo in your dog's ears, eyes or nose.

Having their face and head wet is often the most unpleasant part of bathing for your dog. Some people avoid washing the head altogether. It is important that this area is cleaned as it often is the smelliest part of a dog as we often pat them around the head with odors and oils from our own skin transferring to them along with food and water making the mouth and chin area smell.

It is important to not get shampoo in the eyes as this can sting causing irritation and harm to the eye and even something called dry eye. To avoid this I use a tearless shampoo which allows me to give the face a good clean without this being a problem.

To avoid getting water in the ears you can put cotton balls in the ears before the bath. Just remember to remove them after the bath. Ensure that you cover the ear up fully before running water over the head by using your thumb to lay the ear flat with the head directed downwards and wetting just that side of the head.

When rinsing under the chin hold your dog's muzzle up and carefully wash shampoo from this area to avoid water going in the nose.


Wetting the head first.

The best place to start wetting your dog is at the rear to avoid giving them a fright and work your way up the body to the back of the head. Many dogs will try to shake once their head is wet. If your dog is prone to shake water everywhere perhaps leave wetting and washing the head until the end.


Poor soap application

It is important to distribute the shampoo even and all through your dog coat including giving the paws and rear a good clean. Many shampoos are highly concentrated so it often a good idea to mix in a separate bottle with water with a mix of around 10 to 20 parts water to 1 part shampoo dependant on the individual shampoo. Work the shampoo into the coat by going with the lay or direction of the coat. Repeatable going against the coat may cause the coat to stand up or lay backward when dry and can even cause ingrown hairs. Actively work the shampoo into the coat all over for a couple of minutes or more. Then thoroughly rinse all the shampoo out


Not rinsing properly

Ensure that you make sure to fully rinse all the shampoo out. If not fully rinsed you will often see a residual on the coat and it may irritate your dog's skin. If your dog gets wet again it will reactivate the shampoo and start to lather.


Harsh drying technique

A lot of dog owners quickly towel down their dog but it is important to get the coat as dry as you can. Use the towel to gently squeeze the fur and pull out as much of the water as you can. Your dog should be damp but not dripping wet. If you are going to blow dry your dog ensure that the air temperature is not too hot by having your opposite hand there so you can feel the heat. Start at the lower back of your dog so as not to frighten them with the dryer starting and work your way around dry drying each area to near dry before moving to the next. This is more efficient than randomly moving the dryer all around. Once all areas are mostly dry go over the dog again just to ensure that all dampness is gone.

If you are wanting to groom you own dog at home check out" target="_blank">Barkhow.co">http:// or tips.





DIY Dog Grooming at Home

Posted on 6 February, 2018 at 18:05 Comments comments (6)

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Dog owners often confuse the process of clipping with dog grooming but dog haircuts are  just one part of dog grooming which can include bathing, brushing, cleaning ears and clipping nails, parasite control and dental care. Grooming is not just about appearance  but is crucial to health and hygiene. You can pay a professional dog groomer to do the work or you can do some or all yourself. 

The advantages of paying a dog groomer are that it saves you having to do the work and clean up the mess but can be expensive and going to a dog groomer can be a stressful experience for your dog. It can also be difficult to find a dog groomer your dog and yourself are comfortable with.

The advatages of doing some or all the dog grooming tasks yourself are it will save you money, strengthen your dog's bond with you and you can notice any changes or health concerns.It will require some investment in grooming equipment, shampoos, etc.Some dogs may play up more for their owner yet be more co-operative for an experienced dog groomer.

Here are some of the dog grooming taks you can undertake yourself if you chose to do some or all of your dog''s grooming requirements.


Even if you do use the services of a dog groomer you do need to brush your dog between appointments to prevent matting and tangles which can be uncomfortable for your dog and cause problems like skin infections and sores to form. The key here is regularly. It is better to brush him or her every day or every few days depending on the breed and coat type than to do a big session once in awhile. Over brushing your dog can cause brush burn to their skin and damage the coat if down in one big session

Other benefits of regular brushng include:

Removes excess fur and significantly reduces the amount of fur you have to deal with on your furniture, car or clothing. Who wants to do more house work than necessary?

Brushing removes dirt and any items such as leaves and twigs caught up in their coat keeping them cleaner and smelling nicer longer between bathing.

It helps distribute the natural oils in your dog's skin and coat keeping there coat healthy, shiny and looking it's best.

It is a great way to monitor your dog's health as you may discover any lumps and warts, fleas and ticks, cuts, grass seeds, skin irritations and anything that looks unusual.

Removes tangles and matts which can be uncomforatble for your dog and may cause broken blood vessels, skin infections and may cause sores to form.

Brushing aerates and hydrates your dog's skin and fur and stimulates circulation which enables to coat to perform it's natural function of regulating body temperature.

Promotes bonding between you and your dog and builds trust as they get use to be touched in various places and being handled without feeling anxious about it.

If you want to keep your dog's coat longer it avoids disapointment when being told by the groomer that it needs to be clipped off as it has become too matted.

Saves money on dog grooming as the groom will last longer and avoids being charged more for any extra work the groomer may need to do on a dog that has not been maintained.


Bath time may not be fun for your dog, but it’s extremely important to keep your pooch clean! How often your dog needs to take the plunge depends on the hair/fur type, lifestyle, and shampoo. As a dog groomer I recommend bathing every 3-4 weeks. Make sure you use a special dog-approved shampoo. Human shampoo has a different pH level and can dry your dog's skin and coat and lead to skin issues particularly if they have sensitive skin. I would recommend using a gentle or soap free shampoo as it doesn't matter how often you bath your dog.

Another hack I use is to use tearless baby shampoo to wash the face as it is not so important to prevent shampoo going in the eyes and allows you to give the head and face a really good clean. This area can often be the most smelly part of your dog.

It is also important to brush your dog before bathing as once knots and tangles become wet they tighten and become worse.

Ear cleaning

You can give your dog's ears a regular wipe around the visible area to prevent ear infections and smell. If you want to put ear drops in your dog's ears I would recommend checking with your vet as you can't see what is going on inside and if there is an infection or damage to the ear drum you may make things worse.

Nail clipping and filing

Unless your dog is regularly walking on concrete there nails will need regular triming. Filing your dog's nails will remove the sharp edge preventing them scratching you. If you hear your dog’s nails tapping on the floor when he/she walks then it’s definitely time to grab the clippers and trim those nails. When a dog’s nails tap on hard surfaces, it pushes their nails back up into their nail beds, which can be extremely painful. Not only can it put pressure on the toe joints, it could also force the toe to twist to the side, resulting in soreness or even arthritis. Most dogs can go about a month in between nail trims (this will vary depending on your dog’s lifestyle).

Teeth Cleaning

Brushing your dog’s teeth should become part of your daily routine. Unfortunately, more than 70 percent of dogs and cats will suffer from periodontal disease (AKA gum disease) by the time they’re just two years old. Unless you take action early on, your dog’s teeth will just worsen with age. Dog toothpaste is available. Obviously never use human toothpaste as  your dog can't rinse it is toxic to your dog.

Chewing also helps with dental health so provide your dog with dental chew toys and treats.

Full Haircuts

You can give your dog a full haircut instead of using a dog grooming service but there will be  some investment required for equipment and abit of gaining the knowledge to do the job. Human clippers are not suitable for cutting dog fur as human hair is much finer and you will just be hacking at the coat causing discomfort for your dog and making a real mess of things. You will also need a good pair of dog grooming scissors.

You will need a steady non slip surface to groom your dog so and investment in a grooming table may be needed.


Doing some or all of your own dog's grooming is a great way to save money, strengthen your bond and to be aware of any health issues.

If you are keen to do some or all of your dog's grooming check out" target="_blank"> for helpful information and tips.

Good luck with your dog's grooming and have fun.

Why brush your dog?

Posted on 1 February, 2018 at 1:10 Comments comments (0)

No matter the type of coat your dog has - long or short, thick or thin, non shedding or low sheeding or double coated (ie breeds that shed their undercoat), regularly brushing your dog is crucial not only for apperance and vanity but for your dog's overall health. The key here is regularly. It is better to brush him or her every day or every few days depending on the breed and coat type than to do a big session once in awhile. Over brushing your dog can cause brush burn to their skin and damage the coat if down in one big session



Here are more reasons to brush your dog.


Removes excess fur and significantly reduces the amount of fur you have to deal with on your furniture, car or clothing. Who wants to do more house work than necessary?


Brushing removes dirt and any items such as leaves and twigs caught up in their coat keeping them cleaner and smelling nicer longer between bathing.


It helps distribute the natural oils in your dog's skin and coat keeping there coat healthy, shiny and looking it's best.


It is a great way to monitor your dog's health as you may discover any lumps and warts, fleas and ticks, cuts, grass seeds, skin irritations and anything that looks unusual.


Removes tangles and matts which can be uncomforatble for your dog and may cause broken blood vessels, skin infections and may cause sores to form.


Brushing aerates and hydrates your dog's skin and fur and stimulates circulation which enables to coat to perform it's natural function of regulating body temperature.


Promotes bonding between you and your dog and builds trust as they get use to be touched in various places and being handled without feeling anxious about it.


If you want to keep your dog's coat longer it avoids disapointment when being told by the groomer that it needs to be clipped off as it has become too matted.


Saves money on dog grooming as the groom will last longer and avoids being charged more for any extra work the groomer may need to do on a dog that has not been maintained. If you are interestedin doing part or all of your dogs grooming yourself click the banner below to learn more.

For more information on brushing and doing some or all of your dog's grooming at home check out" target="_blank">" target="_blank"> for helpful information and tips


Does your dog manipulate you?

Posted on 26 November, 2017 at 22:15 Comments comments (1)

We all love our dogs to pieces, but many of us don't release just how good our dogs are at getting what they want from us. A  study published in the journal Animal Cognition lead by Marianne Heverlein has found that dogs are able to deceive us in order to get something they want and can figure out how to do this very quickly.




Marianne Heverlein's night time routine with her dogs was to let her dogs out before going to bed to relieve themselves. Once they came back inside she would give them a treat. One day she noticed that one of her dogs would pretend to go toilet in order to get the treat. This prompted her to conduct an experiment in order to study this behaviour. Her research team from the University of Zurich set up the experiment using 27 dogs in a three way choice test to see if the dogs where able to fool a human competitor. During the test the dogs experienced the role of their owner who was cooperative and two unfamiliar humans, one acting cooperatively by giving food and the other being competitive by keeping the food for themselves.


Three boxes were set up, one containing a  favoured tasty treat, the second a less value treat and the third box was empty.After having lead one of the handlers they had the possibility of leading their cooperative owner to one of the food locations. The dog would have a direct benefit by misleading the competitive handler since it would have another chance to receive the preferred food from their owner. On the first day the dogs lead the cooperative handler to the treat more often than the competitve handler. On the second day they lead the competitve handler to the box containing the preferred treat less and more often to the empty box. The results showed that the dogs distinguished between the cooperative handler and the competitive handler and had the flexibility to adapt their behaviour and use tactical deception. This ability was learned very quickly compared to similar studies involving primates which took upward of hundred trials before they made this association and acted accordingly. The dogs showed they have the cognitive capacity to use such a stratgegy and benefit themselves and had good social reasoning abilities. They were actually solving the problem and not just learning by simple association.


With my own little yorkie, Asia, I have seen the same ability. I keep her treats in a cupboard by the door. She will go to the door indicating that she is wanting to go out. Once I stand up to open the door for her she sits beneath the cupboard and looks at me licking her lips. If you have seen similar tactical deception in your dogs behaviour mention it in the comment. I would be interested to see the different ways this ability shows itself.


How to reduce shedding

Posted on 10 October, 2017 at 22:25 Comments comments (0)

You can't stop shedding altogether, but ensuring your dog is healthly and with regular brushing and bathing it can be reduced significantly.


The main thing you can do to reduce shedding is regularly brushing your dog. Brushing helps to remove excess and loose fur and redistributes your dog's skin oil into the fur helping it to stay in place. The best brush to use for your dog will depend on the type of coat they have. For short haired smooth coat breeds such as pointers and dalmations a bristle brush similar to you use on your own hair or a rubber grooming tool such as a Zoom Groom or similar. For many breeds from sherperds, spaniels or other medium to long coat breeds a slicker brush. These brushes have tiny tightly packed short wire pins. These are good to loosen undercoat and to remove any tangles before using a deshedding tool. There are a few differrent types of deshedding tools such as Furninators, shedding blades and undercoat rakes. Be very careful when brushing your dog not to press to hard or do too much at once as you can cause brush burn on your dogs skin. A good stainless steel 50/50 comb or dematting comb is ideal to run through your dogs coat after brushing to get any remaing dead undercoat the brush may not have picked up. Speak to your local pet store to find out which would be best for your dog's particularly coat.


Regularly bathing will also help to loosen dead undercoat. I recommend using a soap free shampoo as you don't want to dry out your dog's skin and strip out the natural oils in your dog's coat. Alot of the fur will come out in the bath instead of on your furniture. Towel dry your dog with firm but gentle rubbing which will also help remove dead fur. Finally blow dry your dog using a low heat setting. You can give your dog a good brush once dry and you will find it is easier to brush a clean coat they a dirty one. If you don;t have the time, energy or facilities to bath and brush your dog regularly use a grooming service. Also, keep up to date with flea treatment for your dog as constant scratching will also make coat come out.


The second most important thing you can do is to ensure your dog's coat remains healthy and they shed less is through high quality diet. These may cost a little more in the short term but will improve your dogs overall health and save on vet bills in the long term. Dogs with food allergies or sensitivities are particularly prone to diet-related shedding. You may need to experiment with a few different foods before you find one that's right for your dog.


In addtion your can add Salmon oil,olive oil or flaxseed oil to your dog's food. One teaspoon (5 mL) per 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight is a good place to start.These oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that help calm inflamed skin, decrease dandruff, and improve overall coat texture.

You can also increase your dog's omega-3 fatty acid intake by feeding it salmon, tuna, or other fish rich in these fatty acids. Finally remmeber to ensure your dog has access to fresh water at all times.Dehydration can lead to dry skin, which can cause excessive shedding and even illness. Make sure your dog always has access to as much clean, fresh water as it wants to drink..

Check out" target="_blank"> for more information




How to Massage your Dog

Posted on 19 September, 2017 at 3:30 Comments comments (5255)

Massaging your dog is a great way to bond with your pet and spot potential health problems, like tumors or sore spots, before they get out of hand. Massaging a dog is different from massaging a person; instead of doing a deep tissue massage to loosen muscles, the aim is to use gentle motions that help your pet relax and feel comfortable. Consider pairing massage with a grooming session to help your dog feel healthy, happy and loved.

Begin with gentle petting. Pet your dog in the spots you know he likes best. This will help him settle down and get relaxed enough to enjoy the massage. Pet him on the head, tummy, back, and other spots using gentle strokes.


Let your dog sit, lie or stand in a comfortable position.

Have a calm, relaxed demeanor and speak to your dog in soft tones to help him destress. You can use your fingers or a canine massage mitt.

in conjunction with special canine massage oil incorporating aromatherapy into your session.

Massage the dog's neck. Use the tips of your fingers to make a circular motion just below the head. Apply gentle pressure, but not so much you make your dog uncomfortable.


If you have a small dog, use smaller motions. For a larger dog, use larger motions.


Don't press your dog's body so hard that he flinches. Remember, you're not trying to do a deep tissue massage. You just want to rub his body to help him feel calm and bond with him.


Move down to the shoulders. Slowly work your way down the neck and to in between his shoulders. This is usually the dog's favorite spot, because it is one of the only places he can't reach himself, so spend extra time there.


Next do the legs and the chest. Some dogs don't like being touched on the legs; if your dog flinches, remove your hands and move to the next part of the body. If he likes it, see if he wants a paw massage, too.


Massage your dog's back. Work your way back up to between the shoulders and slowly travel down the back. Use small circular motions with your fingers on either side of the spine.


Finish with the back legs. Continue massaging until you end up at the base of the tail. Gently massage down the dog's back legs. Continue to the paws if your dog enjoys having his feet picked up.

Helping Your Dog Feel Comfortable

Massage at a peaceful time of day. Do it during a time when you and your dog are already in a relaxed state of mind, like at the end of the day after dinner. This will make it easier for your dog to relax under your touch.


Don't massage your dog when he's worked up for some reason or another; it's better to wait until he's already pretty calm.


Don't massage right after an exercise session; give him a half hour or so to rest first.


Don't massage your dog if he's not feeling well; simple petting will do, but he might not be up for getting massaged.

Work your way up to a five or ten minute massage. Your dog may not like the massage at first, and it could just be that he's not used to it. See if your dog likes being massaged for about a minute, then work your way up to longer massages. As long as your dog enjoys it, there's no limit to how long you can massage him, but five or ten will give you enough time to massage his whole body thoroughly.


Stop if your dog doesn't like it. The point of a massage is to help your dog feel happy and relaxed, so don't do it if he doesn't like it. If he's happy being massaged, he'll stretch out and breathe easily. If he doesn't like it he may do the following -

Stiffening when you move from simple petting to massage



Biting at your hand

Running away


Consider grooming your dog as part of your massage session. Since your dog is already calm and relaxed, it might be a good time to brush or clip his nails as well. Only do this if your dog actually enjoys the process of being groomed. Otherwise, he'll come to associate massage time with discomfort and anxiety. It is also an ideal time to apply a topical paw pad and elbow cream to sooth dry and cracked pads and elbow areas.


Help ease your dog's arthritis pain. If your dog is on the older side and suffers from arthritis, massage can help. Very gently massage around the area that's affected, using a kneading motion to help relieve the pain. Do not press too hard, and do not massage directly over the affected area

You can also gently bend and stretch your dog's legs to help ease the pain.

Some dogs enjoy this, while others do not. If your dog flinches, don't continue massaging. Forcing it could cause your dog to feel worse instead of better.


Feel for lumps and areas that are inflamed. Massaging your dog regularly is a great way to examine his body for sore spots that might need attention from a vet. Take note of lumps or bruised areas that you haven't noticed before. Pay special attention if your dog yelps when you touch him in a certain spot. If you notice something alarming, take your dog to the vet to have it checked out

The best way to feel for lumps is to run your hands over your dog's body in a smooth, long stroke. Feel the stomach, legs, chest, and back. Make sure you don't miss any spots.


Leave deep tissue massage to a professional. If you think your dog could benefit from a good deep tissue massage, make an appointment with a trained animal massage service. Deep tissue massage can be beneficial for animals, but if you're not intimately familiar with dog anatomy you could actually end up injuring your pet

Other Tips


Taking the collar off can make it easier to get all of the neck areas.

Dogs love having their tummies scratched, take a bit of time to just pat them and love them up too.

With smaller dogs just use your finger tips, but still apply pressure as needed.

Dogs also love having their ears massaged too!

It's key to give them the massage in a quiet area, it sets the mood for them and it calms them down.


How to Reward your Dog

Posted on 7 September, 2017 at 1:25 Comments comments (1)

When training your dog or just in general it is important to reward them for the wanted behaviour not just to reinforce that behaviour but to also continuely grow your bond. Rewards should not be limited purely to giving treats and machine gunning treats down your dogs throat can do more harm than good. Firstly, obviously it is not in the best interests of your dogs general health and treats should be less than 10% of there daily calorie intake. Secondly you may find yourself with a dog that will only do what you ask if they think there is a treat in it for them. Also, it is not the best way to strengthen your dogs bond with you. It is also important to note the difference between a reward and a bribe. A reward is given after the desired action by your dog where as a bribe is held in front of the dog like a lure before the desired result.

Rewarding your dog generally falls into three methods:- Gift, Verbal or Touch

 Gift is fairly obvious. It is giving something to your dog such as treat or a toy. It can even include "life rewards". For example if your dog loves going for a walk have them sit and be calm before leaving (the wanted behaviour) and then go for the walk (the reward). These life rewards can easily be incorporated in to everyday life.

As mentioned excessive use of treats can have some negative results so if using treats it is important to reduce the treats as quickly as possible eventually not needing the treat to get the behaviour. This is best done by using other reward methods in conjunction with the treat so that when the treat reward is phased out the behaviour continues to be reinforced.

Using a favourite toy and having a quick game is a good way to reward your dog as it also helps to release energy making your dog calmer and builds your bond at the same time. Playing with your dog can be a powerful relationship builing tool, as well as a potent reward.



Verbal reward is also fairly obvious. Giving praise such as happy talk or a simple "good boy or girl". Some dogs find praise naturally rewarding, but even dogs who don't seem to can become praise seekers if you frequently pair your praise with another reward such as a treat or fun game.


Touch is probably the most underated of the three reward methods. There are numerous places on your dogs body that have a large concentration of nerve endings that if patted or rubbed release endorphins to the brain such as dolpamine (the reward chemical) and serotonin that give your dog that natural high feeling. Examples of this are between the front legs under the chest or were the ears joins the head. Other areas are rubbing them on the side or at the top front of the rear leg where they have the skin fold. Quite often your dog will lift up the rear leg so you can hit the spot they like. If you experiment with your dog you will find other spots that they respond to. It is important to be aware of your dogs feedback when trying different touch techniques as they may enjoy some places being touched and be uncomfortable in other areas. For example, your dog may enjoy being rubbed on the chest but may shy away from a head pat. If your dog ducks or pulls away it is probably not rewarding. If they engage, come towards you or asks for more, then it probably is rewarding. Another touch spot that makes your dog calmer is on the stop (between the eyes on bridge of nose). If your dog is showing signs of being nervous just rub here with your thumb and notice how it calms them. Another way to calm a nervous dog is the "calm hold" which is to simply go down on one knee and firmly but gently put your hand on your dogs shoulder to reassure them.

Timing of rewards is also very important. For best results it is crucial to reward or praise your dog the instant they respond to the command at least wthin a few seconds. Additionally it is important to cut down on the rewards slightly when your dog starts to follow the command regularly, especially food reward. This is important as you risk watering down the effectiveness of your rewards, which can make future training sessions more challenging when it comes to holding your dog's attention and making them feel suitably rewarded. You can still give occassional food rewards to keep them on their toes and thinking they might get a food reward next time, but soon enough your dog will be content with satisfaction of verbal or physical rewards.

Tailor the reward your give according to the difficulty of the action your dog has performed, using a lower value one for behaviours that are well established and when there are little or no distractions. When learning anything new or in more challenging situations the reward will need to be more motivating. Examples of different level of reward may be using a more bland treat such as their normal kibble as lower value and a more desirable treat such as cooked chicken as a higher value treat. Or using simple praise as the lower value reward and a combination of rewards such as praise, a pat and a fun game with a favourite toy.


In summary

Rewarding your dog falls into one of three categories, gift, verbal, touch. Gift is giving something to your dog such as a treat or toy. Verbal is happy talk and praise. Touch is using a touch that your dog enjoys.

Timing of the reward is important and should be immediately after the action is performed. Tailor the level of the treat to suit the situation. Higher value rewards should be given for learning something new or under distraction and for behaviours that are well established a lower level reward is fine. Having a variety of different ways in which your can reward your dog makes it easier to select the right incentive for the situation.


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Not All Dog Toys are Created Equal

Posted on 27 August, 2017 at 5:15 Comments comments (401)

If you take a trip to your local pet store you will see that there are an overwhelming number of different dog toys.Most dog owners will simply just get a selection of toys that look interesting or think their dog may like. However, if you understand the three main catergories of dog toy you can develop a strategy to use the various toys to develop your relationship, teach important skills and behaviours and help to make your dog calm, balanced and happy.

The three catergories are Chew Toys, Interactive Toys and Plush Toys.

Lets take a look at each of these dog toy types and how you can implement them starting with:

Chew Toys

These are designed to be chewed, punctured, gnawed on and beat up on on a regular basis. These should be available for your dog all the time. Some people may say that their dog isn't interested in chew toys as they prefer their ball or stuffed toy. It is important to condition them to want to use this type of toy as the benefits are huge. You can achieve this by smearing a small amount of peanut butter or similar on the toy or you can encourage them by rewarding them for showing interest in the toy by way of treats, verbal encouragement or pats.

Chewing releases endorphins that calm your dog down and produce feeling of contentment. A chew toy trained dog is comforable being alone and tends to stay out of trouble when unsupervised and is less likely to chew items that they shouldn't eg shoes, slippers or even your neighbours pet rabbit.

Also included in this catergory are dental chew toys and Kongs or similar toys that can be stuffed with food. Dental toys have ridges, knobs and fins on them and  have the benefit of cleaning teeth, they massage gums and promote blood flow. In addition you can put dog toothpaste on them for better cleaning and breath freshing. Never use human toothpaste as your dog obviously can't rinse and will ingest the toothpaste which is not good.  It is also important to check these regularly for damage to ensure that bits are not coming off that your dog may swallow or choke on. In fact this is true for all chew toys and they should be disposed of if showing too much damage.

With the Kong or similar toys you stuff with food is is important to ensure you are not using junk quality foods. You can buy the paste and treats that go into these but generally they are low quality calories.These type of toy don't hold as much food as you would think, so I suggest selecting the toy you think is right for your dog and buying the next size up. Your dogs diet should not consist of more than 10% treats so it is a good idea to use there normal balanced diet for stuffing. If you dog eats dry kibble you can soak it in water, stuff into the toy and freeze until you want to give it to your dog. If you feed a raw diet simply stuff the toy with this food and again freeze until you are ready to give it to your dog. You can even use there regular food as training treats and save the special treats for a bonus reward.

Food stuffed toys are great to help speed up crate training as they keep your dog mentally stimulated making alone time more enjoyable and circumventing the destructive behaviour associated with boredom and isolation distress. You can also tie a rope through the toy and hang from a tree to add another level of challenge.

Ultimately chew toys are great for funnelling your dogs energy into something and helps to cope with stress keeping them calm while not destroying things they shouldn't.

Interactive Toys

Interactive toys are toys that have more interaction they just lying around and chewing. These toys are great for building your bond with your dog, providing mental stimulation and burning energy In this category are included everything from balls, frisbees, tug toys and even puzzle type toys. These are best brought out when you want to initiate a play session with your dog. This way you decide what game to play and when. This way you can leverage the toy and activity as a training reward. Rewards don't always have to be treats and toys are a great way to phase out treats altogether. There are three main ways to reward your dog. Gifts such as treats or toys, verbal praise and touch. Touch is a very powerful reward as by rubbing your dog in certain areas such under the chest between the front legs or where the ear joints the head you are stimulating a concentrated group of nerve endings. This produces endorphins such and dolpamine (the reward chemical in the brain) and serotonin (the love chemical) which strengthens the dogs bond with you.

Many people may say you should never play tug with your dog but as long as they know how to release when you say and knowthe rules of the game it is fine. It also teaches your dog bite inhibition and soft mouth knowing not to bite your finger by accident while playing. Tug toys withourt squeakers are probably better as the sound can trigger high levels of arousal and may encourage your dog to destroy them to get to the squeaker.

Puzzle type toys are also a very valuable training aid as they stimulate your dog mentally and teach them problem solving skills.

Plush Toys

Many dog owners buy their dogs plush toys and simply give them to their dog to destroy. This is not a good habit to encourage. Remember your shoes, slippers or the neighbours pet rabbit. If your dog doesn't destroy plush toys it is ok for them to have them all the time, otherwise bring them out only when you can supervise your dog. These toys are a great opportunity again to teach soft mouth and how to be gentle. You can start off with a game of tug or similar and them give them the plush toy rewarding them for being nice with the toy. If they start to get to rough take a five minute break with the toy and continue with the interactive toy. Repeat the cycle until you get the desired result. It is not necessary to use treats as a reward in this situation as the reward is the activity and fun they are having with you.

In Summary

The three types of toy are chew toys which include food stuffing toys and dental toys, interactive toys including tug toys, balls and puzzle toys and plush toys. By understanding the differences it will enable you to use each type of toy as a training tool to teach important skills, to provide mental stimulation for your dog and release energy and to help strenghten your dogs bond with you. I hope this guide as been of value to you and you may never see dog toys the same again.

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Home Cleaning Hacks for Dog Owners

Posted on 17 August, 2017 at 23:05 Comments comments (2)

Having dog is a true joy but the reality is that keeping your home clean requires alot more work. Here are some clever ideas that may help and are low cost.

1. To help eliminate and neutralise odours pour some white vinegar in a bowl or glass and hide around the house eg behind ornaments or pictures.

2. Use a rubber dishwashing glove to remove fur from your furniture. There are two ways to do this - the dry method and the wet method. With a dry glove rub your hand over the furniture which pulls the fur to the surface and vaccum off, or the wet method half fill a bucket of water, dip your hand in water and run over furniture and redip hand in bucket to remove fur from glove.

3. Use a window squeegy to lift fur from carpet and vacuum off. You can also spinkle baking soda (bicarbonate soda) on the carpet, leave for 10 minutesor longer then vacuum to elimate ordour in the carpet. The longer your leave it the more ordour it will lift from the carpet. Alternatively, put white vinegar in a spray bottle and lightly spray evenly over carpet and allow to dry. I promise that your home won't smell like fish and chips.

4. Wash your pets bedding and blanket regularly as you will be surprised how much dirt they trap. Put a spoonful of baking soda (bicarbonate soda) in the wash to effectively eliminate pet odours.

5.  Bath and brush your pets regularly. I would recommend using a soap free or gentle shampoo to avoid stripping the natural oils from their coats. Regular brushing will remove alot of dirt from the coat and help to reduce shedding. You can also go to a groomer and ask for a deshedding treatment. You can also vacuum your dog as long as they don't mind. Some dogs are frightened of the vacuum and it is best not to stress them.

6. A teaspoon of olive oil on their food each day will also help to keep your pets coat healthy and reduce shedding

7.Put a place matt under your pets food and water bowl to keep the floor cleaner. Alternatively, feed them outside. If you don't want to attact ants draw a chalk line around bowls.

8. Put an old towel or have a mat inside the door to reduce the amount of dirt your dog tracks in, or give their paws a wipe before entering.

Hopefully you have found some useful ideas to make cleaning with a pet in the home easier. If you know of anymore feel free to add in a comment.

Happy Cleaning