Archive | June, 2013

Summer Safety

30 Jun



I think i have made this post before, or something similar, but after a day or so of the British summer arrival (yes, today in Suffolk it was HOT, and i was at work) i thought it made sense to make another summer safety post.

Summer time is great for us, and our dogs. Its the time when we most look forward to getting out and about with our dogs and having some fun in the sun, but we need to remember that dog’s dont handle the heat in quite the same way as us, and we need to make sure that we keep them happy, comfortable and safe.


Would you want to wear a fur coat in the summer?

Fur can be problematic when its hot. Whilst it does provide some protection from the sun, it also prevents heat from escaping and therefore can be a factor in overheating. Keeping your dogs coat short can help reduce the risk of overheating, but you must be aware that too short can also cause the risk of sunburn.



Dog’s die in hot cars

We’ve all seen the adverts and the posters, but every year people make the same mistake. Studies have shown that within the space of 30 minutes, the temperature in a car can become lethal (even if the outside temperature feels fairly cool). Cracking the windows really doesn’t do much in the way of stopping the temperature from rising.

Think of it this way? Would you leave a child alone in a hot car? Probably not. Statistics also suggest that approximately 30 children die in parked cars each year. That’s bad, isn’t it? Dog’s overheat more quickly than children, they are also left in cars more frequently.

Hundreds of dogs die in hot cars every year.



Emergency prepared

When you are out for a drive or heading somewhere, make sure you back an emergency kit. Some water is key to help prevent your dog from getting too hot. You could also bring items such as a battery powered fan to help keep your dog cool if the air con breaks.




Not the time for exercise

When you are preparing taking your dog out for a run or even a walk, bear in mind the temperature. Exercise should be done at the coolest times of day, first thing in the morning and at night. Walking in places where there are areas for him to have a dip in cool water is also a good idea. Remember the drinking water! Be aware of walking on hot tarmac as well. We’ve all stood on the pavement in bare feet and had to hop around because our feet got hot. Dog’s paws are sensitive, and of course very important!



Home comforts

Make sure that your dog has somewhere in the shade where they can rest. The garden can get pretty hot and if they don’t have any shade, they have nowhere to cool off. Paddling pools are a great investment as it gives them somewhere to cool off as well as a large supply of water they can drink from. A breeze is great for keeping them cool. This can be accomplished outdoors or inside the house by aiming a fan at them. Of course, you need to be aware of the electrical parts etc.



The lobster look

Like us humans, some dogs worship the sun. My Maya is a great example of a dog who will absolutely refuse to lie anywhere but in the sunshine until she absolutely has to (or is forced to) move. Like people, dogs (especially those with light skin) can get sunburn and melanoma. Using some sunblock helps prevent this (especially on the belly and top of his nose).



Sink or swim

Swimming is a great way for your dog to have fun and to cool off, but beware, not all dogs can swim! Some breeds really are not able to swim, for example bulldogs and pekingese. Even those who are good swimmers could have issues in pools where they cannot find an exit route, or in the sea where there are strange currents.

Chemicals in the water is something else you need to be aware of. Chlorine for example can irritate the dogs skin and cause stomach problems.



Cooling a hot dog

If your dog becomes too hot, you need to cool them off slowly and gradually by placing him in cool water or draping a wet towel around him. They need plenty of water to drink to re-hydrate, but if possible try not to let them gulp it down too quickly.

Try to cool him until his temperature reaches about 39 degrees Celsius as it will continue decreasing from there. ALWAYS get your dog to a vet if he has become overheated as even those who appear to have recovered can have delayed and deadly effects later.



Barbecue season

Keep an eye on your dog if he is around a barbecue or camp fire. It isn’t stealing the sausages that is the problem, but stealing hot sticks or burning themselves. Lighter fluid is a poison, so keep that out of reach.




Trying our hand at agility

28 Jun

Agility is something that i always thought seemed like a fun idea, for both myself and my dogs. What i didn’t want to do (at this stage at least) is sign up for agility classes. The first reason being that they cost a lot, and we wouldn’t be doing it competitively anyway, just for fun. The second reason being that classes cost a lot. 

Instead. i went on amazon and for thirty quid bought myself a set of six weave poles which also convert into three jumps (you can vary the height, which is handy). 






So, out in the garden we set up our poles, and had our first attempt at weaving! 



For a first effort, both Max and Maya did great! Max was speedy but not overly accurate, and Maya was slower but accurate.


So, ive never done any agility before, and although i have read up a tiny bit about it, i kind of just went along with what i felt like. Starting at the end, i guided my dogs through the weaves, starting at the left (i seem to remember that you always start at the left). Instead of putting my dogs on the lead to guide them through, i just tempted them with food. Food always works when you own a labrador!



The jumps were the best part, and actually tired out the dogs before me! (bonus)!












In between agility training we took breaks where i got the dogs doing some of their tricks and obedience training and also spent time playing with them. 



All of that running and jumping about tired us all out. The sun was shining so we all laid down and sunbathed before it was time for our walk. 




Stormy sky, rough sea, sandy beach

23 Jun


Oh, and two dogs.

It’s just a dog

19 Jun

“From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog”, or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog”.

They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog”.

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog”. Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog”, but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog”, then you will probably understand phases like “just a friend”, “just a sunrise”, or “just a promise”.

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person. Because of “just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day. I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a human.”

So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog”, just smile, because they “just don’t understand”.”


A dog’s dinner

16 Jun

Now, we have all been in pet stores and walked down the aisle past what seems like hundreds of variety of dog food. Some people seem to spend lots of money on dog food, others spend very little. Some dogs get a truly exciting diet of nothing but the same flavour of dry food day in day out, whilst others are fed home cooked food! The question is, what is actually good for your dog? And what do you need to look out for.



First thing is first, your dog’s dietary requirements will differ depending on his age. A growing puppy needs a special diet to aid growth, as does a pregnant bitch. The age at which puppies can be moved onto adult food varies upon breed, with larger dogs (which take longer to grow to their adult size) tending to be on puppy food for approximately a year. Older dogs will also often require a special diet that includes supplements to aid their general health.

Food types:

Dry complete foods: 

These dry foods come in a range of prices and ingredients. Sometimes they may seem expensive, but ultimately you feed less so the cost equals out. in my opinion you also have the added bonus of having no mess (a spaniels ears are long and get in the food bowl).

Tinned foods:

Tinned foods and semi-moist foods also come in a range of price and quality. Many people chose to mix in a small amount of wet food in with the dry food, giving it more flavour.

Home made food:

Some people feed their dogs home made food. This can be good, providing the dietary requirements are met. Some people make the poor decision to feed their dog like they would their children.



What the food needs:

So, when you pick up a bag of dog food, you need to take a close look at the ingredients. They should list the main ingredient first, and ideally you want this to be protein. The higher the protein, the better the food.


In general, animal proteins have a higher value than vegetable proteins. So, if you see dog food which contains “55 % chicken protein” – then you know you have a good quality food.


Fats provide energy as well as helping to maintain a healthy skin and coat. Whilst some fat is important in any animal’s diet, you need to be careful of how much fat your dog is consuming.


This will come from the vegetable matter in the dogs food. This is a direct source of energy.


Most dog foods will already contain the vitamins your dog needs, but many people do provide extra supplements. Vitamins are necessary for many of the body’s chemical reactions.


Again, these should already be found in the right portions in good balanced and complete dog foods. If you are providing supplements you need to be careful not to over do it.




The feeding routine:

Now that you have chosen what food to feed your dog, the next thing you need to consider is how much, how often and when to feed your dog.

How much:

If you read the packets of dog food you buy, you will see that they provide guidelines on how much to feed your dog per day, usually based on the size of the dog and sometimes the age as well. You do need to take these guidelines into consideration, but remember, they are  guidelines. For example, if your dog receives treats throughout the day, you probably want to reduce the amount of food they receive slightly so as to remove the risk of overfeeding. You will be able to visibly see if your dog is not receiving enough food or too much food and can adjust accordingly.

How often:

My old dog used to be fed once a day (in the mornings). This worked well enough, but he was also a pro at scavenging. We later gave him one meal in the morning and one in the afternoon, and this actually reduced (slightly) the amount of food he would thieve during the day.

Some dogs are prone to bloat, something that can occur through eating too much too quickly. This can be reduced by feeding your dog a small amount of food at spaced intervals throughout the day. Puppies are usually fed three or four times a day, whilst adult dogs are often fed once or twice.

Leaving food out for your dog all day is not a good idea. Where some small mammals such as rabbits and even cats, can have their food left out all day and will just eat a little at a time, and only when they are hungry, dogs will just eat. They will eat more than they need just because they can.


Fitting in the feeding around walks is something that i have seen many opinions on. Some people say to feed their dogs before the walk (my parents used to do this so that the dog could then do his business whilst on the walk, and not in our garden). Others, (like myself) like to feed the dogs after their walk, the food then acting as a reward for the walk activity. I have also seen it mentioned that you should wait a certain amount of time (an hour or two) between feeding and walking (another thing linked with reducing the risk of bloat).

I have recently gotten into the habit of feeding the dogs when we sit down to eat. This way they are in their kennel eating their food, and not hovering around the table trying to get to ours.

The routine:

This varies from person to person. Some people probably just plop the food bowl down in front of their dog. Others make them work for it first. Some dogs will share from a bowl (not the best of ideas),  others will be fed individually, one at a time, in separate areas.

My routine:

I always leave the house first to go into the garden (something Max has not yet come to understand, but that Maya knows and respects). I then fill their bowls, wait for them to sit and make eye contact. Put the bowls down and then give them the go ahead to eat. They only eat when i say they can.

Why is food important:

Not only is the type of food you give your dog important for his health and well-being  but it can also have a major impact on their behaviour. Just like giving sugary sweets to a child is a bad idea, giving a dog the wrong type of food can make them overactive and hard to control.

Final note:

I was recently told, “don’t be fooled by the pretty packaging or the fun adverts, those are usually the food that you want to avoid”.

Happy Holidays for your dog

12 Jun

Hey everyone, I am really sorry i missed out on Sunday’s post after promising to post on a regular basis. First i suddenly became quite ill and needed bed rest and then i spent the weekend gallivanting around Paris so never got around to preparing a post. 



Anyway, i thought this would be the perfect opportunity to look at what you can do about finding care for your dog(s) whilst you are away on holiday. 


1. Take your dog with you:

I’m sure this is an option that many of us would like the opportunity to do, and of course, there are places that are dog friendly. There are also things you need to consider before making the decision to take your dog on holiday with you:

1. Where are you going to stay?  (is the hotel dog friendly? will you be in a caravan?) 

2. What will you be doing on your holiday? (will the activities be dog friendly? or will you end up being restricted because the dog cannot join in?)

3. Are you going abroad? (taking a dog abroad obviously is a lot more difficult, and you probably wouldn’t do this unless you were moving abroad)

4. The location (it isnt just where you are staying that needs to be dog friendly, but also the location)

5. The journey (will your dog get too hot travelling by car for a long time?)

6. Laws and local “rules” (you need to be aware of any areas that your dog MUST be kept on lead for example). 




2. Stay with a friend:

If you have a family member or friend that would be able to house your dog during your holiday this could be a great money saver as well as a much nicer experience for your dog. Things to consider:

1. The behaviour of your dog (if your dog is a bouncy, out of control hound with no idea of boundaries, it might be unfair to expect other people to take him into their home) 

2. The members of the family they will share the house with. ( are their children? Elderly people? People with allergies? Other animals?)

3. The dogs requirements. (can your friend provide enough exercise, something that is important for the dog but will also prevent boredom and destructive behaviour). 

4. Where will the dog sleep. (is he used to sleeping in a kennel but would now have to stay in the living room?) 


3. Stay at home:

This could either be with a friend or family member coming to stay in your home with your dog, or perhaps someone who will pop in throughout the day to entertain your dog. Things to consider:

1. Will they get enough attetion? (popping in before and after work for half an hour each day isnt really enough). 
2. Keeping up with house rules. (your dog will already know its house rules, but will probably try to test them under the supervision of someone new)
4. Kennels:
Our dogs have always been put in kennels when we have gone away on holiday, and i have to say, most of the time this has worked out just fine for everybody. There are different types of boarding establishments out there and a lot that needs to be considered when picking one:
1. The type of establishment. (some boarding kennels are just kennels, others allow dogs inside the house)
2. Socialisation (is dog-dog socialisation allowed and in what way?)
3. Human interaction (i know that some kennels provide very little human interaction, whilst others will dedicate much of the day to spending time with the dogs, and not just mucking out).
4. Qualifications (do the people working there have any qualifications? In this i would also include how long they have been running) 
5. Prices (boarding your dog can be expensive, but i would suggest that cheaper isnt usually better)
6. Walks (you should ideally look for a kennel that will walk your dog at least twice a day, some dont at all)
7. Reputation (listen to word and mouth, people will recommend a good place)

There are probably plenty of other ways of keeping your dog happy and safe, and also plenty more to consider. Let me know how you give your dog a holiday when you go away. 

Shine on

5 Jun

Thank you so much to The Canine Companion ( for nominating me for the Shine on Award.


As i have said once or twice before when nominated for these awards, i am again unsure of what this actually is (are they real awards?) but i am also thrilled to have been nominated for one. It is a great feeling knowing that not only are my posts read occasionally but that people appreciate them. I know that i haven’t blogged as much lately, but i really do enjoy making these posts, (hopefully) passing on information to other people and also learning a lot from my research.

The Rules are as Follows:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. State 7 things about yourself

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.

5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award requirements.

Seven things about me:

1. I tend to not be much of a “small dog person” but i am fascinated by dachshunds. Basically i see one and i just can’t work out how they make any sense in their body shape, funny little creatures.

2. The only animal i will openly admit to not liking is a spider! ick!

3. I would love to be a dog trainer, but knowing that it is very difficult to make a career out of, i have decided to work with children, possibly as a teacher (one day).

4. I have finally made my dentist agree to send me to hospital to have my wisdom teeth removed.

5. I love to travel and have been abroad at least once nearly every year of my life (im 22) – i have been to very few places within the UK.

6. I’m obsessed with tattoos.

7. My favourite superhero is spider man (yep, that’s right, SPIDER man).

My nominees (in no p[articular order):






(ill keep adding to this list when i am less ill and tired, sorry guys!)