What is Bloat?
Bloat is a condition where the stomach becomes overstretched by excess gas possibly due to a blockage or twisting of the stomach. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is when the stomach becomes twisted as well. The conditions are progressively life-threatening.
What are the symptoms of Bloat?
The dog may stand uncomfortably and appear to be very uncomfortable for no reason. Sometimes their tummy may appear swollen and hard. They may look weak and depressed, with breathing problems and trying to vomit but nothing coming up. Each dog is likely to show different symptoms so if you dog doesn’t seem it’s usual self then please get in touch with your vet for advice.
What causes Bloat?
A twist or something that prevents gas from leaving the stomach through either sphincter (the ring of muscle at the start and end of the stomach) may cause the condition. Different research suggests different causes but it is thought that deep, narrow-chested breeds, increased age, stress and eating drier food may increase the risk of stomach expansion and the condition. Certain medical conditions such as dogs with inflammatory bowel disease may also be more prone to Bloat. When the stomach twists, it changes the blood flow around the gastrointestinal tract which also puts pressure on blood vessels to the liver and reduces blood flow to other important organs such as the heart. This can cause blood poisoning due to the reduced ability of the liver to remove toxins from the body. If not promptly treated then this can lead to toxic shock and death.
How is Bloat treated?
Early Veterinary intervention is needed to increase the probability of a good outcome for the dog. Death can happen within a couple of minutes so it is imperative Veterinary treatment is sought as soon as possible. It can be life-threatening even with Veterinary treatment. Treatment will be determined depending on the degree of stomach distension and what has caused the Bloat. Surgery may correct the position of the stomach as well as checking to see if and other tissue has been damaged during the Bloat.
If you are concerned about your dog getting Bloat or need any further information then please chat to your vet about any specific queries you have for your dog.
Throughout the year we bake a lot of treats for friends and family (and ourselves) but why not treat your furry friends with some homemade dog treats. Here’s some of our favourite recipes:
Easy peanut butter treats
Whose dog is a peanut butter-a-holic? These are the treats for you! Mix together 1 cup of pumpkin puree, ¼ cup of peanut butter and ¼ cup of milk, gradually add 2 ½ cups of old fashioned oats until combined. Scoop and roll the mixture into small balls (you can make 20 from this mixture). With ½ cup of oats, roll the balls in them to coat them and put in the fridge until firm. Once they are firm, your dog can enjoy! Top tip: pop in an airtight contain, in a fridge, and they will keep for up to a week. Also just check that the brand of peanut butter that you choose does not contain Xylitol which is more common in non-UK brands.
Homemade dog biscuits
You have can some fun with these and make the biscuits any shapes you’d like. Firstly, preheat your over at 175 degrees C and then start combining 1 cup of pumpkin, 2 eggs, ½ cup of peanut butter and oil. Once combined, you then add in your 2 ½ cups of whole wheat flour and 1 teaspoon of baking soda and stir until it becomes a stiff dough. Roll out the dough and use cookie cutter to cut out your biscuits and bake for 15 minutes (or until golden). Top tip: to make it even more irresistible whilst up 2 tablespoons of bacon grease (melted) and ¼ cup of peanut butter until smooth and drizzle over our biscuits and pop in the fridge till the glaze is harden.
For the diabetic dog, treats can be difficult for your dog to enjoy. These treats take a little longer to prepare but your dog will love them. Start by preheating your oven at 175 degrees C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place 1 ½ pounds of beef liver into a food processor and pulse until its finely chopped, then add ½ cup whole wheat flour and 2 eggs and pulse until smooth. Spread your liver mixture into the tray and bake for 15 minutes. Once cooled, cut into squares. Your dog will enjoy their liver spongey nibbles.
These little bites will leave your furry friend wanting more. For these you’ll be starting with preheating the oven at 175 degrees C combining 1 cup of wild rice (mashed), 1 cup of shredded (cooked) chicken, 3 tablespoons of rice flour, 1 tablespoon of diced fresh parsley and 1 beaten egg. Once combined, use a spoon to fill a cup cake baking tray, remember to pack it tight. Bake for 25 minutes (or until golden brown) and when they have cooled, your dog will keep wanting more!
Festive Ginger snaps
With these tasty treats your dog won’t be forgotten about when you’re munching on your mince pies. Preheat your oven at 160 degree C and then start mixing in 2 cups of Almond flour, ½ cup of coconut flour, ½ – ¾ of a cup of peanut butter, 3 tablespoons of ground ginger and a ¼ of a cup of water. When combined, roll the dough out flat and use your small cookie cutter to cut out individual treats. Pop your treats onto your baking tray and bake for 25 minutes; turn off the over and leave to continue to cook for 45 minutes (or until crisp). NOM NOM NOM!
Hypoallergenic Almond treats
These tasty treats are for the hypoallergenic furry friends. Preheat our oven at 175 degrees C and start combining 1 cup of rice flour, ½ cup of oatmeal, ½ cup Almond butter and 2 eggs. Once mixed together you can add a teaspoon of water at a time (2 tbsp in total) until your dough has come together. Roll your dough out to ¼ inch think on a slightly floured surface and cut into shapes (dog bones, squares, stars, circles etc.) Pop onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and cook for about 12 minutes so that the bottoms are browned.
Apple and Peanut butter cookies
Here’s another yummy treat for the dogs who LOVE peanut butter. Start by preheating your oven at 175 degrees C and then cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix your 3 cups of wheat flour, 2 cups of quick-cook oats, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup of unsweetened organic applesauce and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Knead your dough and roll out to ¼ thickness and then cut into the shapes of your choice with your cookie cutters. Once cut, pop your cookies onto your baking sheet (leaving space between the cookies) and bake for roughly 25 minutes. Let the cookies cool and then your dog can enjoy!
Apple and cheddar biscuits
Whilst you’re munching on cheese and wine, here’s a delicious treat for your dog. Whilst you’re preheating your oven to 175 degrees C, you can line a baking tray with parchment paper. Mix together 2 cups of barley flour, ½ cup of old fashioned oatmeal, 1/3 cup of grated cheddar cheese, 1/3 unsweetened applesauce, ¼ grated parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roll out your mixture to about ¼ inch thick and use your cookie cutters to shape your biscuits. Once cut, pop onto the baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, turn your oven off and pop your biscuits onto a wire rack back in the oven overnight.
2017 has been our busiest year yet!
There have been some very exciting developments throughout the company. We have welcomed two new managers, Lucy, who took over our fantastic Bristol team and Tamsin, who now runs our new Vale of Glamorgan team. We also welcomed Tash, our qualified Canine First Aid Instructor, who runs educational evenings for owners as well as ensuring our staff and third party pet professionals are up together with their Pet First Aid skills. We are continuing to improve our services throughout all our teams and have some exciting developments planned for 2018! Please keep an eye on our social media pages for all our updates in the new year. We always welcome any feedback so please feel free to get in touch with your local manager or myself on email@example.com as we are always looking for things we can improve on. Rather than sending out ‘card’ Christmas cards this year we have chosen to donate to a charity very close to our hearts to gain awareness for Sepsis, in memory of our Cardiff colleague Rachel Day who tragically died earlier this year. Here is a little e card instead here
Thank you for your continued support with Friends for Pets and we hope you have a restful Christmas and a very happy New Year.
Becca and the Friends for Pets Team x
Introducing our new managers
Bristol – Lucy took over the Bristol team in the summer of 2017. Here are a few words from Lucy:- “I am really excited to have taken over the running of the Bristol area of Friends for Pets! I have known for a long time that I would love to work in pet care and when this opportunity came up, it seemed too good to be true. I live on the outskirts of Bristol with my two mini Dachshounds. I love animals of all shapes and sizes and enjoy nothing more than being out in the countryside with my two, especially at this time of the year when it’s cold and crisp. We have a fantastic team of pet carers covering the whole of the Bristol area and offering an array of pet care services. We always endeavour to tailor our services to our clients and their animals and all of us in the Bristol team are passionate about what we do. Due to the demand for the high quality of our pet services we are looking to expand the Bristol team further adding a couple more pet carers to our amazing team.” For more information on our services or about work opportunities in the area please get in touch with Lucy on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07585 504867.
Penarth and the Vale of Glamorgan – Tamsin took over as manager of the Vale of Glamorgan team in 2017 after working for a short time as a pet carer in the area. Here are a few words from Tamsin:- “I live in Penarth with my husband, three children, Fred the rescue Labrador cross, our chickens and guinea pigs to keep me busy! With a lifetime experience of a wide variety of pets, I gave up a career in the financial services to take care of pets. I love all different breeds and species and have a great team of pet carers in the Vale of Glamorgan to offer a tailored service for your pets”. For more information on how the Vale of Glamorgan team can help your pet please contact Tamsin on email@example.com or 07500 876397.
Awards! Awards! Awards!
We have been very fortunate this year to have been finalists for some very prestigious awards! We are so grateful to our amazing teams who make us stand out amongst the crowds in these categories. Our staff put their hearts and souls into their jobs and these awards represent them and the work that they do for our company.
Working Mums Awards – Best Family Friendly Franchise
Sedgemoor Business Awards – Customer Service Excellence
Somerset Business Awards – Young Business Employee of the Year (our lovely Cheddar and Wells manager, Amy)
PetQuip Awards – Business of the Year
Best Business Women Awards – Best Customer Service
Pet Industry Federation – Pet Service Business of the Year
Pet First Aid!
At the start of 2017, Tash joined the team as our in-house Canine First Aid Instructor. Throughout the year we have been holding ‘Owner Evenings’ to pass on the basic first aid skills and knowledge to pet owners. These evenings have worked brilliantly for us to give owners basic first aid skills that they can use in emergency situations with their pets as well as giving us the opportunity to raise funds for local chosen charities. Needless to say, we will be holding more owner’s evenings in the New Year. Tash has also been teaching the certified Canine First Responder course for dog owners and professionals that want to learn more detailed skills and gain a qualification in Pet First Aid. For dates on both the Canine First Responder Certificate course and pet owner evenings please get in touch with Tash on firstname.lastname@example.org
As some of you are aware, in June we lost our beautiful Rachel Day a member of our Cardiff team. Rachel lost her life at the age of 29 years old to the cruel disease, Sepsis. Like most people, we had not heard much about this disease so decided to raise funds to help gain more awareness about the disease in Rachel’s memory.
Cardiff Manager, Catherine and pet carer, Sally got their heads together and created ‘Rachel’s Day’ a charity dog walk and family fun day. With lots of help and support the event held on the 19th August exceeded their expectations with over 100 dogs attending and £5000 raised! It was so popular the event is now going to be held annually with the next on the 14th July 2018. Please keep your eyes opened for details nearer the time to become involved.
On the 15th December Rachel’s Christmas Ball will be held at St Mellons hotel in Cardiff. Tickets are £35 and it is promised to be a fun filled evening with live music, food, wine, auction, raffle and much more. The girls are working hard to ensure this! If you feel you can help in anyway or wish to donate or buy a ticket please contact Catherine at email@example.com In the meantime #justask #sepsis
Christmas Office Hours
We will be shutting our ‘offices’ from 5pm on 22nd Dec until 9am on 2nd Jan for a little Christmas break. We are continuing to provide pet care to clients over the entire Christmas period to those clients that have requested it. If you do need any pet care and haven’t booked in yet please let your local manager know as soon as possible please.
We have raised funds for a few charities this year through donations and by organising Pet Owner First Aid Evenings. Support of these charities could not have happened without our wonderful clients supporting us so thank you on behalf of all the charities! Charities that we have raised for include:-
Dogs Friends http://dogsfriends.me.uk/
Mutts with Friends http://www.muttswithfriends.org/
Happy Landings http://www.happy-landings.org.uk/
Hope rescue http://www.hoperescue.org.uk/
Dog AID (Assistance in Disability) http://dogaid.org.uk/
Great Western Air Ambulance http://www.greatwesternairambulance.com/
For upcoming Pet Owners Charity First Aid Events please have a look at our Dates for your Diary section below or keep an eye on our social media pages for further updates on upcoming events.
We are looking to recruit pet carers in all our teams to help us with all pet care services. As a member of our team you will be offered the opportunity to take part in our Pet Sitter Training Scheme including dog behaviour, nutrition, health, welfare, Pet First Aid and much much more! We offer competitive rates and the support of a team behind you in times of illness and holidays. For more information please contact your local manager or you can apply online at https://www.friendsforpets.co.uk/dog-walking-jobs/
Dates for your Diary
11th January – Pet Owners First Aid Evening – Just for Pets, Bristol
16th January – Pet Owners First Aid Evening – Cheddar Catholic Church Hall
27th January – Canine First Responder Course, Bristol
20th February – Canine First Responder Course, Shipham
8th March – Pet Owners First Aid Evening – Croscombe Village Hall
14th July – Rachel’s Day Charity Dog Walk and family fun day, Cardiff
21st July – Our 10th Birthday!
Find us on Social Media at:
We have lots of extra info, pictures of our clients and lots of news through out social media pages. If you would like to follow us our details are:-
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsforPets
LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/company/friends-for-pets
Tweet us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/FriendsforPets
Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/friendsforpetsltd
Team Contact Details
Bath – Alison 07474 066361 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Barry – Tasmin 07500 876397 or email@example.com
Bradford–on–Avon – Julia 07766 968397 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bristol – Lucy 07585 504867 or email@example.com
Cardiff – Catherine 07502 316670 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheddar, Chew Valley & Wells – Amy 07584 050544 or email@example.com
Frome – Julia 07766 968397 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hertfordshire – Amanda 07825 777176 or email@example.com
Canine first aid – Tash – firstname.lastname@example.org
Franchise Enquiries – email@example.com
Everything Else! – firstname.lastname@example.org
All the Best from
Friends for Pets
Walking our dogs is great for their exercise (as well as our own) but it can also be a great mental stimulus and needless to say can be super fun for both parties. Although going for walks in different places can be good for the mental stimulus, there’s nothing like playing games with our dogs. Here are our top 10 games to play on a walk (in no particular order):
- Hide-and-Seek: It’s a simple one really but also fun and gets our dog working and using his/her mind. When your dog is distracted by investigating something, you can quickly hide behind a tree, squat behind a bush etc. (you get the idea), wait a moment and then call their name. Call again if they are finding it hard to find you. When they discover you be ready to praise them for their cleverness with a toy or treat reward and lots and lots of praise. Top tip: when hiding, remember to keep your dog in your view in case they need your guidance or become a little panicked.
- Follow the leader: This game can be played either on a long lead or off the lead completely; all you need is your dog’s full attention. With your dog by your side or behind you, and an element of unpredictability, you can vary your speed and make prompt changes of direction. You can try zigzagging, circling, retracing your footsteps a little before going forward again, the options are endless!
- Treasure hunt: Another easy game, but make sure you have lots of tasty treats with you! As you’re on your walk, sporadically throw a treat on the ground around you while your dog is off investigating and then tell your dog to ‘find it’. Your dog can investigate and sniff around to find the treat. To add a different level, you can get your dog to sit/stay whilst you lay a treat trail, let your dog see you do it but sometimes bend down and touch the floor but don’t put a treat down. Once the trail is laid, call your dog and they will follow their nose to retrieve the treats. Top tip: if it’s too tempting for your dog, ask a friend to hold him/her whilst you lay the trail. You can make it more exciting by zigzagging rather than just being in a straight line.
- Obstacle courses: Why not switch up your regular walks by using your imagination to create challenges and obstacles courses. You can use anything with this game, and not only use objects as obstacles (jumps, climbing upstairs etc.) but you can use your dog’s training along with it. For example, if there’s a large log/fallen tree get your dog to jump over it initially, when your dog’s got the knack, make it more difficult by adding a sit and wait, then call your dog to jump over it. You can do this with stairs; get your dog to wait at the top or bottom of the stairs, you go down or up them and then recall your dog to you. Your obstacle course is as big and fun as your imagination, but don’t forget your treats.
- Stop! Start!: Use your ‘stop’ and ‘go’ commands (wherever yours may be; sit, wait, red, go, ok etc.) to play the stop, start game you may of played as a child. You can use your stop command and then when your dog successfully stops, use your go command. When your dog does both command, give lots of praise and rewards. You can use the stop, start commands at various times throughout your walk.
- Homemade Flyball: This game is for those walks with a friend, in a park or wooded areas that have fallen small trees or logs that can be used as hurdles. Once you’ve spread out the logs as your hurdles, you can get your dog to sit and stay whilst your friend is at the other end of the hurdles with a tennis ball. On your command, your dog can jump over the hurdles, your friend can throw the ball for your dog to catch and then your dog has to run back over the hurdles to you to collect its tasty reward. This game is great for exercise but also good for your dog’s eye-paw and eye-mouth coordination.
- Change your pace: This game does what it says on the tin! The idea is to make your walk interesting by changing your pace; switching between walking, jogging and slowing it right down. You can add in commands to the speed that you’re doing (fast, walk and slow) as well as reward your dog when he/she changes their paces and eventually when they change their paces on the word command.
- Toy Time: All you need for this game is one of your dog’s favourite toys (and maybe some treats); but be aware that if it’s wet/muddy, toys may get wet and muddy themselves! It’s a basic game of fetch with your dog’s toy, you can start with just throwing the toy and getting your dog to fetch it and bring it back. Once your dog’s got the idea of the game, you can make it more interesting with adding a ‘wait’ or ‘stay’ before throwing the toy and then a command to fetch it. Always reward your dog when they bring back their toy to you.
- Homemade agility: Agility is a great form of exercise for your dog but it’s also a great way for your dog to engage its brain and for you to continue building a relationship between you and your dog. You don’t need an agility course to enjoy this game; it’s all about improvising with what you come across during your walk. Using objects to jump over as hurdles, using your legs for your dog to weave in and out of, using benches for your dog to jump up and sit on. You can add in your dog’s known commands to make it more challenging and lots of those yummy treats for rewards.
There is always a lot of stories in the news and on social media about specific breeds. Certain breeds tend to get more bad press than others so is it justified or does the dog’s upbringing contribute more strongly to behavioural traits?
Our dogs are intelligent animals and do not react to something without a reason or two. With this in mind, if we’ve corrected a behaviour displayed by our dog within an environment because its seen as ‘bad’ or ‘misbehaving’, we need to have a look at the environmental impact in relation of changing the dogs reaction to the ‘stimulus’. There are lots of factors which when taken into consideration, can influence your dog’s behaviour relationship with the environment. Here are some of them:
These are behaviours displayed depending on how your dog reacts to different stresses in environments:
- Dogs which are considered to be weak-nerved can display fearful based behaviours (behaviours such as shy, timid, fearful bites); these dogs struggle to deal with the everyday environmental stresses.
- Dogs which are solid-nerved can display ‘disobedient’ or ‘dominant’ based behaviours; these are dogs that are confident, curious, distracted, like to explore and get easily bored.
How the dog has been socialised
- This can affect your dog’s behaviours in connection with its social skills and its relationship with its surrounding environment.
- Your dog’s brain is like a sponge during the first 16 weeks; more social interaction and different environmental stimuli and stresses during this period will form ‘good’ behavioural patterns (and how it would react) as an adult dog.
The relationship between the dog, its owner and other humans
- This is so important, whether your dog is a family pet, working dog, police service dog, etc.
- No matter how well your dog is trained, if the relationship between you and him/her isn’t based on trust, fulfilment etc. then the performance will not be good.
- If you have a good relationship with your dog it will be beneficial for your dog when dealing with or coping with different environments; a dog won’t play a game during a stressful situation/environment. If you engage in a game then your dog will have a message from you that there is nothing to worry about because you’re relaxed, therefore your dog relaxes.
The environment which the dog lives or has grown up in
- This can initiate and fuel your dog’s natural drive, although it should be considered when looking at territorial, aggression, fearful behaviours / reactions.
- How you present or even don’t present the environment during the 16 week period of your puppies life will affect how your dog reacts to the environment as an adult.
- The way which your dog reacts in an environment to the distraction depends on the level and intensity of the distraction and how used to a distraction the dog is.
- Your dog will not react the same way with an ambulance siren (the stimulus) going off 100 meters away compared to if the sirens went off right next to it; this is because the intensity of the volume and distance is different.
- By identifying the ‘trigger’ you can work on your dog’s behaviour, desensitise and condition your dog to know how to react the next time it faces that situation.
Waiting till the issue is obvious, or the dog’s behaviour is dangerous before dealing with a less than perfect behaviour can be quite common; however preventing is the best we can do for our dogs.
Preventions can include:
- If purchasing a puppy, use a reliable breeder/owner who obviously cares about the breeding dogs behaviours (selecting good temperaments etc.) e.g. inherited behaviour.
- Start your puppy’s socialisation from day one as this is a small window of opportunity; the puppies brain is like a sponge and are influenced on the environment and situation. Exposing the puppy to many different environments and stimuli will influence its adult behaviours and reactions.
- Build a solid relationship between you and your puppy, this will help them feel secure in different environments and with different distractions.
There are times when the weather can be rather unpleasant to walk in or when you need to keep your dog entertained inside. Coming up with new ideas to get your dog to use their brains can be hard, so we have a few ideas for you. Here are our top 10 rainy day games:-
- Treat Trail: Very simple but most dogs love it! The aim of the game is for your dog to find the treats that are hidden around your house. You can determine the degree of difficulty depending where you hide them. Start off easy and when your dog understands the game make it harder and really get your dog using their nose.
- Interactive feeder: These are a great way to get your dog thinking to overcome a problem. You can get interactive feeders or dog treat puzzles for all different levels of difficulty. Top tip: make sure that you supervise your dog during these games. If they are getting frustrated, help them with shaping the behaviour that is needed to get the reward or showing them where the treat is and then watch them solve the problem.
- Trick time: Rainy days are great for those day to catch up on the things you have set aside for another day; time to get training! You can go over the tricks that your dog already knows or you can teach your dog some new ones. This is great for dogs of all ages and abilities, and your home is a safe learning centre with no (or little) distractions. Make sure you have lots of yummy training treats, the new trick in mind (or old one) and a plan to shape that new trick. Everyone loves a new party trick!
- Indoor fetch: How many times do you play fetch with your dog inside your house whether it’s a rainy day or just a random play time? I bet a lot of you! Your simple game of fetch can be turned into a little training section, without your dog even knowing. Locate your dog’s favourite toy, get your dog to ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ through the toy and on command get your dog to fetch it and bring it back to you. You can make this more difficult by making the duration of ‘staying’ before ‘fetching’ longer but make sure that you do this gradually.
- Kong: Kongs are great for all sizes, breeds and ages; whether your dog has a strong jaw, is a puppy or a chewer. All you need to do is fill the Kong up with safe, tasty treats and your dog will be amused for ages as they figure out how to get those treats out of that small opening. Just make sure that you supervise your dog whilst it plays with the kong and take it away after all the treats have gone. Top tip: during the summer on those hot days, you can freeze the Kong with tasty treats inside to help cool your dog.
- Hide and go seek: If your dog knows a ‘find it’ command (or something similar) then this could be the indoor game for you! To play hide a favourite toy (or even a person) out of the dog’s sight. Once the item is hidden, bring your dog back in and give your ‘find it’ command. Make sure you give him vocal clues if help is needed; such as ‘goooood’ when they are close or ‘ohhhhhhhh’ when they are further away. You can give hints by pointing or walking towards the item. When your dog does find the item, make a BIG deal of how brilliant your dog is. Eventually your dog will become amazing at this game and get faster and faster about looking and finding the hidden item.
- Up, over and through: Learning new tricks is great fun, so why not train your dog to go under, over and through objects. Get a chair, stool or another obstable on legs which is sturdy. Then teach your dog how to crawl under the object and stay there, crawl all the way through the object, walk around the object and jump over it. One way to do this is to use clicker training; using the ‘click-treat’ as a guide. Once your dog has done what you asked, you can ask them to do combinations of obstacles before the reward is given. When you and your dog have the basics, your imagination can go wild! Top tip: Make sure your pockets are full of tasty treats and you always praise your dog.
The list could be endless! Create the obstacle course and guide your dog through each of them. Gradually build up the speed through the course. Top tip: make sure you have lots of treats on you and give your dog lots of praise. Make it super fun rather than working; you can also increase the degree of difficulty if your dog need the extra challenge.
When choosing what to walk your dog in the choice is vast so how do you decide?
- Your dog should be wearing a collar and ID tag at all times.
- If your dog pulls, even lightly, they can injure their neck or cause other health related problems if they are walked in just a collar. Think of a dog’s neck with the same sensitivity to ours.
- Health issues from neck injuries include:- Trauma to the thyroid gland in the neck causing it to not work as efficiently potentially causing Hypothyroidism. A crushed trachea from excess pulling or sharp jerks can occur as well as fractured verterbrae in the neck or spine causing pain related issues such as behavioural problems.
- A nervous dog could slip out of a collar so to have a harness on as well is an extra safety precaution.
- You could choose a back or chest led harness.
- Back led harnesses – Great for little dogs, unreactive dogs and for dogs that do not pull on the lead. Takes pressure from the neck and spine distributing it around the dog’s torso instead. If they are used with too much pressure for a long time then they can encourage dogs to pull through engagement of the dog’s opposition reflex so it is very important that when the dog is walking nicely that a loose leash is used.
- Chest led harnesses – Great to help stop pulling and gives more control than a back-led harness for reactive dogs. If the dog pulls in a chest-led harness they just turn around rather than keep pulling forward.
- Are very popular with dogs that pull on the lead.
- It is highly unlikely your dog will enjoy wearing their head collar so if you choose to use a head collar then it is important that you introduce your dog to it slowly and in a positive manner using it for short periods and using lots of rewards alongside it so that they start to associate the head collar with a positive experience.
- If your dog does not enjoy wearing the head collar then alternative equipment should be used.
If your dog does pull it is important (and very much appreciated by your dog walker!!) if you engage the services of a qualified dog trainer or behaviourist who use positive reward methods to encourage your dog to walk on a loose leash. We have lots of contacts in all of the areas we operate for some excellent dog trainers to help you.
Being able to tell the difference between play behavior and aggressive behaviour is very important for dog professionals if they are mixing multiple dogs. It can be difficult to tell the difference sometimes but key communications between dogs can help differentiate.
Common play behaviours include:-
- The Play Bow – where the dog’s front end goes down and put’s their bottom in the air.
- Sometimes dogs will bounce their front legs up and down too. The tail and bottom are often wiggling as well!
- A big smile – A big, loose, open mouthed smile!
- If the dogs are bouncing around and enjoying themselves.
- Play growling – loud and continuous, sometimes sounds a bit ‘sealion’ like!
- Self-handicapping – where a dog makes themselves vulnerable exposing their tummies and rolling around. Dogs take it in turns to be the vulnerable one when play fighting.
- They keep going – one doesn’t try and run away all the time, they keep going back for more. They take it in turns to chase each other.
Common aggressive behaviours include:-
- Bodies are tense causing various parts of their body such as ears and tail to be tight too.
- The hackles along the dog’s back become raised.
- The mouth is tenser, making the lips curl and teeth are visible.
- The growling is low and warning like.
- Movements are purposeful rather than bouncing around like in play behaviour.
- If one dog is constantly dominating or chasing another rather than taking it in turns then it is unlikely to be fun for the dog being chased or dominated.
Top Tips for meeting and mixing dogs:-
- Give your young, nervous, elderly or disabled dog extra support in social situations. They are more vulnerable and do not want to be injured or traumatized by being ganged up on. Walk them alone if you can’t guarantee an enjoyable experience for them with other dogs.
- Don’t add their belongings ie. Food and toys, into the mix to keep possessive behaviours to a minimum but also use them as a distraction if things get out of hand and you need to move your dog away from the social situation.
- Separate dogs if play gets too rough or you are seeing aggressive behaviours rather than play behaviours.
- To separate dogs safely you must keep yourself safe as dogs can accidently bite you too. For some advice on breaking up a dog fight please have a look at the article by Greyhound Rescue Wales http://greyhoundrescuewales.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Breaking-up-a-dog-fight-V1.0.pdf