Archive for the ‘Seasonal’ Category
By night, it’s easy to keep the dogs off the master bed with perseverance and self-discipline. To a dog, something can only be owned if it is within his vicinity, so when you are in bed, he can be taught to respect that. Once you’re up and away from it, your bed can become the dogs playground!
One option (often the best) is just to shut the door with them out. For many this isn’t going to work, or just isn’t viable, and that’s where this idea comes in.
I currently have three dogs in the house, one is brand new and we’re only sitting her for a week. She is used to being permitted free access to all furniture. Retraining her for just a few days of clean bed sheets just isn’t going to pay off. Instead, we need another solution. I can’t shut the door at the moment as due to space, all dog beds are in the bedroom and I don’t want dogs fighting over the limited space and one remaining bed in my office next door. On occasion, I foster dogs from our local animal rescue or babysit for friends (hoping they will one day do the same) so I always keep a spare sheet under the bed. In the morning I simply wake up, air the bed while we go out for a walk, then cover the whole bed in the spare sheet. When they do decide to jump up and rub their saliva drenched faces across the bed, and try digging under the pillows, all mess gets stuck to the new sheet which can just be peeled off later.
The keen eyed of you will notice the hygiene consequences of this. By adding another sheet you’re restricting airflow in the part you physically sleep in, it is therefore even more important to ensure it has a good airing before and after covering to ensure completely dry and that you do change the sheets a little more often than usual to avoid nasties building up in the dark.
Spring is here, the weather is hotting up and we’re taking our dogs further afield on breaks and adventures. Sometimes it seems necessary to leave our dogs in the car for short periods, but how long is too long?
You know that feeling, there’s still a little chill in the air, and as you get into your car, the warmth brings summer to life! it’s that same effect that can put a dog to death.
We have sweat glands all over our bodies, as we get warmer, they secrete a little water which evaporates and keeps us cool. In very hot temperatures, this is obvious, but even when mild, this sweat helps to regulate our temperatures.
Dogs keep cool in a completely different way, while they do lose some heat through their bodies, they do not produce sweat to keep cool. Instead they pant. By doing this they pull cooler air over their tongue, right through their bodies, and exhale the hot air inside. They also drink water which helps to quickly cool their tongues and insides. So we cool from the outside in, they cool from the inside out.
In terms of evolution, this cooling system means that most dogs can survive in much colder temperatures than us as they can have heavier coats with no skin exposed for cooling which was essential in their colder wolf habitat. Humans come from warmer climates so we can withstand higher temperatures.
So back to the question. Cars are amazing, they are secure, insulated to keep engine and road noise out. They have large windows for clear visibility and nice compact interior… in fact they make fantastic greenhouses. Even today, when the temperature in Swansea is about 12 degrees C, when I got into the car this morning, it was lovely and warm. To a dog, this can already be painful.
Remember what we said about a dog’s cooling system? To cool down he has to breath in cold air, and out hot air. In a car with the windows up, he is forced to breath in warm air, this prevents him cooling down and could cause him to slip into unconsciousness within just a few minutes. This morning I read the first report of a dog dying in a car, so don’t let your guard down just because it’s not yet T-shirt weather!
So what about when you leave a window and the sunroof open? It cools the car by a few degrees but the car is still blocking most of the wind an will still heat up. No greenhouse is airtight, and most have open windows, but the greenhouse is still hot inside. When you get into a hot car, how long do both doors have to be open before it’s comfortable to stick your bum on the hot material? The window idea works when you’re moving, or when there is a gale force, cool wind to circulate in the car, but this is rarely the case.
Won’t he just stick his nose out of the window to breathe the cold air? Some dogs do, but to sniff the air, not to cool down. They aren’t as smart as we sometimes think and will continue to die in the heat.
What about if I leave a bowl of water? This will help a little in the first few minutes but in a parked car, it will also quickly heat up and prove useless before long. Dogs tend not to die of thirst, but overheating.
So question: How long can you leave a dog in the car?
A: You can’t. Depending on the temperature, a dog can take minutes to an hour to die, but the time in the middle is immense pain and suffering, even if he’s still alive when you finish your shopping, it doesn’t mean he was comfortable, relaxed or pain free. You’re also taking a gamble, what if you’re detained? What if you become injured? What if you spend ages in the queue waiting to be served? All the time your beloved pet is suffering, i not dying.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, you have a duty to care for your dog and to not put his life at risk. An unattended dog in a vehicle is classed as risk, and you can be prosecuted.
If you see a dog left in a car on a warm day, the RSPCA advises you dial 999.
If you have to leave your car, and you do have a dog, take him with you, if you need to go somewhere where dogs are not allowed, consider tethering him in the shade with water instead. Don’t tie him to you car in case it gets bumped, stolen or just tries to roll away. It is up to you to make sure he has a wonderful life, don’t ruin it just so you can get a packet of crisps.
Christmas is here again where the host of the evening traditionally cooks enough food for four or five families which one family will try to eat. No sooner are we feeling sick and uncomfortable, someone suggests bringing the heaviest dessert ever… and places a huge slice of Christmas pudding in front of you.
As a result, there are always plenty of leftovers.
Did you know however that while some of it is ok most of the food on your plate can kill a dog?
Turkey necks are a BIG no no. I’ve spoken to Hannah Richards at Penybryn vet who says that most emergency calls over Christmas are caused by someone thinking it’s a wonderful idea to give the dog the turkey/goose/chicken neck to munch on. These tough, bony, reinforced wind pipes aren’t edible (hence why we don’t eat them) and cause blockages, discomfort, suffocation and death in a dog. Put these straight into the bin to avoid anyone getting any bright ideas!
Raw bones (larger bones) are usually ok and do so at your own risk, but NEVER feed a dog (or cat) cooked bones. Cooked bones are more brittle and will slice up your dogs insides causing internal bleeding, infection and death.
Cooked bones are a no as above. (hi-lighted in bold to reiterate the point)
Nuts are best avoided, some are toxic while others are ok. All are a choking hazard so avoid all just in case. Just six Macadamia nuts for example can lead to complete paralysis in the average dog. While it’s nice for him to settle down, he’ll be settling down in the vet’s kennel.
Sausages, Bacon and other salty foods cause a dog to be thirsty which could lead to him drinking too much water causing bloat. In VERY small quantities ok, but if every one at the table gave a small quantity… you do the math.
Clementines and other seeded fruits contain traces of cyanide, safe enough for humans in small quantities but enough to kill a small animal, for example a dog.
Chocolate causes heart arrythmia which can lead to almost instant death. This can be in any quantity so like the turkey neck, never feed this to a dog… ever!
Alcohol and alcohol drenched foods (i.e. christmas pudding) are a no go too. Alcohol before the age of brewers originally came from fermented fruits so most fruit eating animals can handle trace alcohol without any issue. We’ve had millions+ years of practice. Dogs however are carnivores and can’t handle even a small amount. Dogs can easily succumb to alcohol poisoning and death.
Christmas pudding is also very high in another ingredient besides alcohol. Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are highly toxic to dogs and can cause instant kidney failure in relatively small amounts.
So what can my dog eat at Christmas?
Most other leftovers are ok, the general rule is meat and veg are ok, many fruits and most chemicals aren’t.
Left over turkey without the bones will be a lovely break from the normal dried dog kibble, vegetables and potatoes will add some vitamins and fibre while gravy will infuse into the added dry kibble creating something more appetising.
Keep it balanced to keep out of trouble, and if you’re in doubt about an ingredient, leave it out.
I also found a wonderful recipe if you fancied treating your dog this year to a balanced and healthy Christmas meal. Thanks to Joe Inglis for this one: Christmas dinner for dogs
I tried it myself, prepared the mash before our own dinner and slotted it into the oven. It smelled amazing, I even tasted it myself, the dogs wolfed it down so thumbs up from me.
As it’s Christmas, also watch out for
Sticky tape, plastic toys from crackers, baubles, Christmas lights, candles, cigarettes, overly affectionate children (these love annoying the dog)
And don’t forget to walk your dog on the day! Without that energy drain, he’ll start the day agitated and could be big trouble when the family arrive.
Have a VERY Merry Christmas from me; Simon, Jake the Greyhound, Beci the Cavalier and of course my lovely wife Yovina who has supported me in everything I’ve decided to drag her through with very little complaining.
This is Jake’s first snowfall. I opened the back door while making coffee for him to relieve himself, he took one look and stepped back. I tried to encourage him out, push him out, but nothing.
Do I let him stay afraid of nothing? Of course not, I’m a dog trainer. He’s never had a bad experience with snow so I don’t want to give him a phobia by allowing him to be scared and closing the door.
I took a handful of his favourite treats and performed a number of ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’ taking a step back each time and rewarding heavily all movement forward. I carried on straight into the garden and after a short hesitation, he followed me out to let out the chickens.
Now, like all dogs, he loves the snow, but fears are easy to create, be careful.
Oh, and if your dog does the following snow or not, he’s not burning energy, he’s desperately full of energy and needs a walk! Don’t leave him in the garden, get him out properly!
Wrap up warm, stay safe, only drive if ABSOLUTELY necessary. At time of writing, the gritters hadn’t cleared some major routes. If you dog is old, small, ill or would otherwise benefit from a coat, use one. Boots are fun too to protect their pads from the ice, I’m not sure they’re completely necessary, but it’s a good laugh watching a dog trying to walk in them.
Stay safe and have fun!
Ok a little treat from the Swansea Dog Trainer. How to wrap a dog for Christmas :)
There are a couple of ponds and lakes in Swansea, and at the moment most are frozen over. This is bad for dogs, especially those who are used to drinking from or swimming in these streams and ponds.
Keep your dogs away from these ponds completely! This includes the Lily pond in Singleton park, the boating lake, and some of the water ways around Clyne Valley woods. Clyne gardens seemed mostly unaffected but I’m heading there today and will update if I find out otherwise.
If your dog does end up under the ice, call the fire brigade. They would rather come out to fish your dog out than fish you AND your dog out which is the likely outcome if you try taking it upon yourself to retrieve him. If the ice didn’t support your dog, it’s unlikely to support you.
The good news is that dogs are generally better at self rescue than humans are. There have been several cases where paramedics are taking away dead people while the live dog just needs minor vet treatment.
Dogs have strong claws which can grip into the ice much better, and are often better swimmers (even those who have never swam before). If his head is above water, do what you can to help pull him out, but do NOT go into the water yourself.
If he has gone under the ice, use stones and sticks from the bank to break through the ice around him. Again once his head is above water, he will probably be able to help himself.
Once your dog is out, wrap him up as warmly as possible, some stronger dogs may be happier warming up by running, but any shivering may be the onset of hypothermia and coughing could mean he has water in his lungs. Both require urgent vet attention. If in doubt, take him to your clinic who will be able to give him a once over.
Don’t become a casualty yourself! Very few people have launched an ice water rescue attempt and succeeded.
Bonfire night is a wonderful experience for children and adults alike. Ok some grumpy adults feel it should be banned but I still love to see the sky lit up in amazing colours and patterns in both home displays and the bigger commercial ones.
Pets however can be a problem, the loud bangs and flashes of light can be scary for all animals, fireworks are a major cause of death for pet chameleons who are particularly nervous creatures.
But it doesn’t have to be stressful for all animals. Any pets that you can lock indoors, do. Cats, rabbits, guinea pigs etc. Dogs however are unique in that they will look to you for reassurance and understanding. Some owners will start shouting at a barking dog (see my dog barking page for why this doesn’t work), some owners crawl under the dining room table with them or pull them over for a hug. Some owners will lock their dog in a quiet room, some play loud trance music… which of these works?
The loud music will contribute to the fear, shouting confirms that there is something to bark at, nurturing your dog at this time is nurturing the fear confirming that there is something to be afraid of.
For the first few bangs, your dog will look to you and your job is to show him how to react. Stay calm and don’t do anything to suggest there is anything wrong. Initially allow him to bark and ignore all ‘normal’ behaviour. 99% of dogs in this situation will begin to calm down and you can speed things along by distracting him with a game of tug or some sit/down/spin training with some tasty treats. By treating your dog in this way, you’re rewarding him for ignoring the flashes and bangs rather than rewarding for behaving negatively towards them.
There are some ways to help before the event too. Before sundown, take your dog on an extra long run. Of leash chasing balls, frisbees etc. You’ll find plenty of dog owners you’ve probably never met doing the exact same thing, this will ensure your dog doesn’t already have pent up energy before the events. Give your dog the chance to relieve himself in the garden right before they start too, initially he may be reluctant to go outside, especially if the neighbours are having a display. As the sun sets close curtains and windows and turn on the TV or music if you do so normally. Turning it up just a little louder can help give him something else to focus on but don’t start playing loud trance or heavy rock music through the whole house if you normally settle down to repeats of ‘Songs of Praise’, this will be just as scary.
Last year we had a young pup who had never experienced a firework display. Our neighbours next door had a home display so there was plenty of noise. After an hour or so we went into the garden together, just as he came out of the door, next door lit a rocket which scared the heck out of both of us. Shadow looked at me for reassurance, I stayed calm and called him out… after a little hesitation he wandered out and watched the light display with me. He was still unsure naturally, but he was calm and watched me for guidance which was absolutely great.
If the night goes on and your dog doesn’t start to settle, consider taking him for a drive, the engine noise will drown out the worse of the fireworks and you can both go somewhere peaceful.
If you are having a display at home, let him settle with the new noises before starting. Allow him into the garden if he wants to be with you but DO keep him on a leash. (Perhaps the only time when a flexible leash is ok). If he’d prefer to stay inside, let him. Today’s the day he’s not kicked off the bed or sofa if he jumps up for comfort.
You’ll often read ideas such as medicines, sedatives and herbal remedies. Sedatives will no doubt work but unless your dog is at risk of dying of fright, this is not the way to go. Herbal remedies are unproven and generally overpriced so I would recommend avoiding these too. The best thing you can do is keep as much as you can the same. It’s just a bit of noise but everyone else in the family is calm and happy.
Good luck and please feel free to share your tips and advice below.