A mini training session

24 Jul

Most days i like to spend a few minutes like this with the dogs practicing some of their little “tricks”.


Punishment Vs Praise

24 Jul

I don’t know about you, but before i bought Maya into my life, before i even had chosen to bring Maya into my life, i began some research into how to “train” my little newcomer. I found a few books to read, but mostly i spend hours and hours searching the internet and reading different articles, blogs and papers.

So, here’s the thing. I don’t know about you, but i found it all very confusing. Mixing in what i read with what i learnt on my dog behaviour psychology course, what i believed in and what i had grown up with, really made no sense at all.


I’m going to break down some different concepts.


The grandparents method:

If your grandparents, or someone older that you know used to own a dog, or still do, ask them how they went about training it. The chances are they weren’t averse to punishing “bad behaviour”. In the “old days” if a dog was naughty or behaved inappropriately he would receive some form of punishment, often a smack on the rump, a quick tap on the nose or the old tap with a newspaper. I doubt many people would really hurt their dogs, but give a short, sharp shock, just as people would their own children if they misbehaved.

Back in the days of our grandparents, it was acceptable to punish a dog in order to teach him a lesson, just as it was to punish a child. Did it work? Well, it must have done. We don’t hear stories of all older people owning unruly dogs. Somewhere along the line dogs became more and more popular as pets, they became involved in a whole host of “jobs”. This couldn’t have happened if people weren’t able to control their behaviour. So this method must have worked.

Just as opinions changed on bringing up children, opinions changed on training dogs.


My experiences growing up:

This one is a little confusing. We believed in rewards, AND punishment. if our dogs behaved well or did something we asked, they would get some form of reward, even if it was just a cuddle and a well done, or good boy.
This being said, we also gave them a light smack on the bum if they misbehaved (for example our lab would always steal food, and recieve a smack for him) – he continued that behaviour, but i think thats a bit of a lab trait? Food was worth being shouted at or whatever my mum chose to do.

When it comes to house training, i remember the one and only time our year old, new dog peed on the floor. My mum rubbed his nose in it, sent him outside and he never had an indoors accident again. Nowadays you will probably find that you are warned off of that method, and actually in my experience, housebreaking took a lot longer than i had hoped (particularly with Max).

I was also brought up being told that the way to get a dog to walk to heel on the lead is by giving a short, sharp pull on the lead when he pulls to correct the behaviour. I have to say, that never really seemed to make much difference with my puppies now, though it must work because i know of people who swear by it.


Humane reward-based training:

This is the idea that punishment does nothing to teach the dog anything, except for to potential damage its relationship with humans. In this method, bad behaviours are ignored, and good behaviours rewarded. This can also include using tools such as clickers in order to mark the good behaviour, letting the dog know exactly what it did right.

The idea behind this came from Bradshaw who hypothesised that dogs descended from more sociable wolves. The idea of reward based training comes from the idea that dogs learn to and in fact strive to please humans. They will therefore learn best by being told that they are doing something right, something that makes us happy with them.

Here i will say that i use reward based training regularly, and it seems to have worked in teaching my dogs a number of “tricks” in a fairly short space of time. This is a very popular method today, something that i was taught in my course, something that i often see in the media, and something that seems to work.


Cesar Milan:

Firstly, i would like to point out that this is in no way aimed to promote, not slate his methods. A while ago i was very interested in the methods of Cesar Milan, and to some extent, i still am. This being said i have also done further research, gained more experience in my own training and as such, developed my own ideas.

Cesar Milan works on the hypothesis that dogs are descended from wolves, pack animals who have a strict heir achy and need order and balance in order to survive. He says that dogs need a calm and assertive pack leader in order to ensure that they grow up happy, healthy and balanced. This all makes sense, and i agree so far.

His methods however are often criticized, and yet, they seem to work. He is very strict in his actions and though he always points out that he does not hurt the dog in anyway, there are people out there who will argue differently. All in all, i think he goes back to the good old training ideas that our grandparents used, that dogs do not only need to know what they have done right, but what they have done wrong as well.

An idea that i do like is that he stresses that dogs feed off of our own energy. I very much believe this to be true. My dog always seems to know when i am sad, happy or angry. They feed off of our energy and react accordingly. Dogs are our mirrors. If you are not calm and assertive, your dog probably wont take you seriously. Will it become dominant and feel the need to be your leader as Cesar suggests, i dont know.

Confused yet?

Yeah, i was too.

The problem is, i ended up doing SO much research, that i just ended up getting in a muddle and nothing made sense. When i went back to basics and did what I felt was right, things seemed to fall in place and work.
I guess thats what i am trying to say. I dont think there is a right way and a wrong way, but more something in between. You need to do what works best for you and for your dog. That being said, there are things that you should probably not do, but i will leave that for you to figure out.

My biggest tip:
Keep positive and keep things fun for both you and your dog.


Keeping cool in the summer

21 Jul

I know i have already made a post on keeping your pets safe in the summer/heat, but since the UK have been given some heatwave warnings (an because i am lacking in imagination today) i thought i would give you a quick list of ideas of how to keep your dogs cool in this heat.

1. Drinking water:

Make sure that your dog is provided with a constant supply of fresh drinking water. You could even try adding a couple of ice cubes to their water bowl to cool it down that little bit more.

In our home we have two bowls of water in the house which are always kept filled, a bowl outside and then the addition of a full paddling pool, so we know they always have somewhere to get a drink. Then we always take water out with us on our walks.


2. Swimming;

A kiddies paddling pool is a great addition to your garden in the summer. Not only can it act as a giant paddling pool, but it is somewhere for your dog to have a paddle in, sit down and cool off.

When out on your walks (during the cooler part of the day) you could try taking your dog somewhere that he can swim. Perhaps a place with a lake, or the beach. Swimming in the sea on a warm evening is great fun for dogs, and they will love it if you get in with them!



3. Frozen treats:

Find some food that you know is healthy for dogs and try freezing it before giving it to them. Frozen banana is a favourite of Max’s and Maya’s. Another option is filling a kong or a bottle with either food or perhaps some water. This will take a while for the dogs to get into, be fun and cool them down a bit.




4. Shade:

Make sure that you provide a shaded area in the garden for your dog to rest. This could be under an umbrella, by creating a den with some old sheets or anything your imagination can come up with. This year Maya has dug out her own little area behind some plants and under a hedge. The soil is cool and she is in the shade when she lies there.



5. A fan:

If it is really hot and your dog seems to be uncomfortable both inside and out, try setting up a fan for them. I would recommend placing it somewhere out of reach (so that they can’t get into any harm). The dog can lie in the stream of cool air and just relax.


6. Somewhere cool to lie:

If you have a room with laminate, wooden or tiled flooring in your house, consider letting your dog sleep there instead of in its bed or somewhere carpeted. The cool floor will be much more comfortable


The beach can be fun!

17 Jul

At 6 months old, so far Max hasn’t been keen on the beach, and even less keen on swimming! In fact, he hates getting wet. Until today!


First it all started with me getting my feet with. Just as a did with Maya, i took the dogs to the beach when it was calm and warm, took off my shoes and socks and in i went. It never takes long before they follow me and tip toe (or paw) into the sea towards me.


Ok, so he wasn’t sure at first and just hovered around where it was shallow. Each time a wave came he tensed or ran back.


Maya on the other hand, already knows how to swim and loves it! She loves it even more when she has a friend to swim with and seemed to be really happy that i joined her in the sea! Something i’ve not really done properly since she was a tiny pup. She quite literally swam circles around me!Image

So, what was it that eventually got Max to get right in the water and go for his first real swim? Seagulls!

Both of my dogs love chasing seagulls along the beach, and little Max never gives up on a chase, so in he went!

Of course, Maya was there to make sure he was ok!

Top dog

14 Jul

I have discussed the topic of dogs with bad reps before, but what i haven’t discussed is those that are incredibly popular and could perhaps be considered top dog.

I am not sure why, but i am surprised to find that the majority of dogs that made it into the kennel clubs ten most popular breeds are large dogs. So, if you had to chose breed size, what would be your favourite?

According the the UK Kennel club, the ten most popular breeds in 2008 were:

The American Kennel club’s ten most popular breeds in 2008 were:

1. Labrador Retriever

2. Yorkshire Terrier

3. German Shepherd

4. Golden retriever

5. Beagle

6. Boxer

7. Dachshund

8. Bulldog

9. Poodle

10. Shih Tzu

Top dog:

We all know that i absolutely adore labrador retrievers, and it seems so does the rest of the world. Year after year they come out at most popular dog according to statistics, and i find it interesting that in the UK there were over twice as many labrador registrations (2008) of the labrador than the second most popular dog, the springer spaniel!

Why are the so great?

You can check out the breed profile for the labrador in the breed category, but to sum it up, they are very energetic dogs which are aim to please and so can be fairly easy to train (providing you work hard) and make great working dogs in a variety of settings. They are also one of the most loveable, loyal and at times dopey breeds i personally have every come across. Dogs are man’s best friend, but the labrador will quickly become your BFF!


photo (1)

Giving my girl a big kiss. She wins my vote for top dog.



What dog should i get?

When deciding on what breed of dog you would like, you really need to take a lot into consideration. The dog you bring home needs to be the right dog for you, and you the right human for him.

1. Exercise requirements. This is probably the most important factor to consider. A dog that needs a lot of exercise isnt going to fit in somewhere it will be left at home all day to occupy itself. Even small terriers need a lot!

2. Size. This might not be the most important, but you need to make room for your four legged friend.

3. Grooming. Do you want to spend hours grooming your dog, or just a quick brush a few times a month?

4. Trainability. All dogs can become well trained, but some are much more stubborn than others. Whatever dog you get you will want to spend time and effort in obedience training, but if you want a dog that will pick up tricks easily, you might want to choose some kind of working breed over a bulldog.

5. Health issues. Always look into the health issues, some dogs are much more prone to certain diseases or general health problems than others.

6. Reputation. I know this seems a bit harsh, but some dogs just come with a bad rep. That isnt me saying that they are bad dogs, just that people could potentially treat you differently for owning one.

7. Your temperament. Yep, you read correctly. Your personality is just as important. If you are a very highly strung, stressed out or flighty person, you need to think carefully about what effect you will be having on your dog. Dogs are our mirrors. By this i mean that you might not want to bring a breed of dog that requires a great deal of training into your life, if you yourself are not a calm, assertive pack leader. The last thing you want is a 25 or more kg dog picking up on your “crazy” vibes and deciding its time for him to rule the house.

8. Other pets. Some dogs just don’t get on with other small furies. Terriers for example often have such a strong prey drive that bringing one home to live with the resident cats probably isn’t the best idea.

9. Kids. Some dogs are better with children than others. Generally this just comes down to their patience. For example, labradors or golden retrievers will often quiet happily endure all sorts of prodding and pulling by little hands, whilst many small breeds are not so tolerant. Small dogs also run the risk of being dropped if they are picked up by a child.

New things!

10 Jul

Hey followers!


Sorry i havent posted anything exciting this week, i have to admit i have spent most of my time enjoying the sun, if not working or having interviews. Anyway. i’ve decided to kick things up a notch on the blog front.


I now have a new email address, made specifically for anything puppy panic related. This means you can send me pictures, stories or ask for any help by emailing me. I would love to be able to post some of your own stories and experiences and have a look at your four legged friends!


Then there is the new twitter account, which you can follow for any puppy panic news, reminders of when there are new posts to check out and the odd bits and pieces.

or you should be able to find me by searching for PuppyPanic.


I am also about to create a facebook page!


I am looking forward to seeing you follow me and would absolutely love to recieve some emails, tweets or comments with suggestions and stories.


All of the information will be put in the about page, or possible a new page for contact info, ive not got that far yet!



She’s always there

3 Jul


I was feeling absolutely rubbish today but a two hour walk with the e dogs made me feel much better. Maya always seems to know when I need her, today she spent a long time walking right next to me with this smile.