Sunday, 14 December 2014

Top tips for surviving Christmas with your dog.



If you asked people what happens at Christmas many would tell you that they eat too much and they get stressed out by visiting family.

That’s a good starting point for what to consider for your dog.

Food


We tend to overeat at Christmas and also eat lots of rich food.  Giving your dog a few extra treats will not do him any harm but obviously don’t go crazy. He may be a canine dustbin and therefore be okay with most foods or may be a little more sensitive. Remember what goes in must come out so don’t forget to give him lots of toilet breaks.

Some food is positively dangerous for your dog.  Most people now know chocolate is poisonous but dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is particularly toxic.  You may think about sharing a little Christmas pudding or mince pies but did you know that grapes in the form of currents, raisins and sultanas are also poisonous to dogs? 

You may enjoy working your way through your turkey but don’t be tempted to give your dog the bones since cooked bones can easily splinter inside of his digestive system.

Be careful of what the kids may be feeding your dog and of what may be just within his reach.

Visitors


Your dog may be the life and soul of the party or a little more sensitive.  Either way there is a good chance he will want the option to get away from the action and retire to his bed or crate.  Let your visitors know that they should leave him alone when he goes to his bed.  This is especially important for children who may not read the signs that he has had enough and so need adult supervision to keep everyone safe and happy.

Gifts for your dog


There is no reason for your dog to miss out on all the fun.  You may choose to give him a new bone, chew, or toy but don’t expect it to still be under the tree if you leave it there or for the tree to still be standing!  

Perhaps you could buy small gift for a local rescue dog so he can also enjoy a Christmas treat. Check out these Wish Lists: 


Behaviour problems


Your dog may have specific problems around people, food, or toys in which case it may be best to just let him chill out and have a quite Christmas at home. Your new year’s resolution could be to consult a qualified and experienced behaviourist to help you both work through these problems.

Buying a puppy


Are you thinking of buying a puppy as a Christmas present?  Giving a home to a puppy should be a planned and well-informed decision with thought given to the next 15+ years of the puppy’s life.  This might be the right decision for you in which case wait until the commotion of Christmas is over and give him the best start in life.


Merry Christmas from Mike Garner of Rainbow Dogs Brighton!


Thursday, 4 December 2014

My dog pulls! What should I do?

Where to start

If you go to your local pet shop or search online you will find a hundred different types of special collars, harnesses and head collars which can make choosing the right one really difficult.

The first question I ask someone is Why is your dog wearing that equipment?  The answer is usually Because he pulls or sometimes Because I thought they were supposed to wear it or even Because my trainer sold me it!

I will let you into a trade secret... the best piece of equipment to walk a dog on is his regular collar and lead!  Okay I appreciate that does not help me sell you equipment but there is a qualification to my statement, which is your dog needs to be trained to walk nicely on lead first.

The time spent training your new puppy to walk nicely on lead is a good investment unless you want 15 years of being pulled down the street.  Dogs that are already established pullers may need greater time and dedication on your part to learn to not pull.  You may be helped in this process by using specific training equipment.

Let’s look at the options:

  • Simple flat collar and lead – made of fabric or leather.  This is the perfect solution for a trained dog.
  • Choke chains.  These do what they say, they choke your dog!  This will be uncomfortable for your dog however he will eventually learn to ignore the pain.  Unfortunately long term this can cause damage to his throat, neck, and spine.
  • Check chains.  A marketing company realised that choke chains sound horrible so re-branded them as check chains.
  • Half-choke / half-check chains.  These only half choke your dog.  They are limited to stop choking him to the point of turning blue!
  • Prong collars and spike collars.  These are more common in the USA that the UK but still used by some.  They look like chock chains but have prongs or spikes that cut into the dog’s neck.  These are nothing short of barbaric!
  • Harnesses with a back clip.  These on the surface seem like the perfect humane solution to a pulling dog.  The dog will no longer choke but will often pull more due to the reflex (opposition reflex) to pull against things.
  • Harnesses with a chest clip (e.g. Easy Walk harnesses).  These are humane yet discourage your dog from pulling since they take him slightly off balance.  The disadvantage of any harness is you don’t have control of the dogs head so these will not be suitable if your dog has problems with other dogs.
  • Head collars.  These are also humane yet discourage your dog from pulling since they turn his head towards you.  These are more suitable when you need to control your dogs head.  These can be fiddly to put on and some designs can ride up the dog's face into his eyes.  I have found the Gencon to be not only easy to put on but also much less likely to ride up into the dog's eyes.  They can also clip back onto his regular collar for added security.  Head collars can take time to get used to for some dogs.  

Summary

There is no one piece of equipment that is suitable for every dog.  The best solution often is to just use a regular collar and lead and to train your dog to walk nicely.

Easy Walk Rainbow Dogs Brighton Training
Easy Walk
Gencon Rainbow Dogs Brighton Training
Gencon

The Easy Walk and Gencon can be purchased from Amazon together with other useful products that we recommend.

Rainbow Dogs are based in Brighton, Sussex.  Contact us for specific advice on training your dog to walk nicely on lead.