Tag Archives: Dog

Titbit: Bertie the Miniature Schnauzer


So recently I’ve started clicker training with my new friend Bertie. As you can see from the photo above, Bertie is a (young) Miniature Schnauzer. He is such a lovely little pup – so friendly and so smart! But, as with all pups, quite mischievous too!

Bertie is quite fond of the clicker as he has quickly learned to associate the noise with the reward. They key in any kind of training is to find what motivates your dog to use as the reward – with Bertie it is most definitely treats! But with your dog it may be a particular toy or ball, or even just a big fuss!

Bertie responds well to the puppy treats i have been usuing. He is lovely to train as he responds really well to the clicker. He learned “down” in about 10 minutes one afternoon.

As he’s young we (his owners and I) are going to do the basic training, as well as a few fun tricks! I know Bertie will pick it up quickly.

The other week I was dog-sitting so used the opportunity to do a little recall training with Bertie on my own. It’ll be an eye opener to see how well he does this for other people; for a first go he was very good for me, and spent a good amount of time off lead as a result.

Before we left the park he made friends with a Husky cross – even if she was a little unsure of the small dog at first!

I am looking forward to doing more training with little Bertie, and seeing him become a model dog/ student! 😉

Prepping for your Pup!


So you’ve picked your pup and soon (s)he’ll arrive, and make a lovely addition to your household!

Boston Terrier puppy

We love our pets (as per my first ever website post), and part of that love comes before we’ve even brought them home – in ensuring we are ready and able to properly care and provide for them.

Dogs are a very popular pet; preparing for an adopted adult dog and preparing for a puppy are different things. This post will focus on preparing for a brand new little puppy.

Preparation depends a lot on the breed you have chosen – the attributes belonging to the breed of dog you have chosen. Choosing a breed should tie in with your lifestyle – don’t get a breed of dog that requires what you can’t provide. For further information about specific dog breeds, pop me a message or check out my posts covering A-Z of Dog Breeds.


Food, Water and the Bowls that hold them!

Bowls should be the appropriate size and weight for the breed you have chosen; a large dog breed will require larger, heavier bowls than a small dog breed.
If your pup will grow into a tall dog, you may want to invest in bowls that will fit into a stand as your pup grows bigger! A large dog will strong, and move small items (such as food/water bowls) around easily, so heavy duty bowls may be more suitable, to prevent your pup pushing them bowls (and spilling the contents) as they eat/drink.
Small dogs are suited to smaller bowls, and medium dogs to medium bowls, etc. The weight of a smaller bowl will depend on the breed – if it’s a stronger/heftier breed (e.g. British Bulldog) you have chosen you may wish to opt for a weightier bowl, than if you have chosen a petite/lightweight breed (e.g. Italian Greyhound).
The depth of the bowl should reflect the length of muzzle and shape of the head/face of your chosen breed – a short-snouted dog will struggle to reach the bottom of a deep bowl. You can even get bowls specifically designed to keep long, floppy ears out of the dish and nice and clean!

Food will size specific and often age specific, and breed specific too with some brands. Do your research into top brands – don’t compromise with a poor diet for a bargain! There are plenty of top-notch foods out their that won’t break the bank, as well as the ones that will stretch your wallet a bit further! Depending on how quickly the dog breed you have chosen will reach maturity, will determine how long your pup should stay on puppy food – this should be indicated on the packaging (in my opinion, any food brand worth their salt will provide this information). Between 6-18 months old, your dog will have reached sexual maturity (at this point dogs often get neutered), but they may continue to grow to full size for some time after that. Small dogs tend to reach maturity closer to 6 months and are often full grown at 12-18 months; where as larger breeds tend to reach maturity later and can take 2 years to become fully grown.


Beds, crates and safe spaces

As mentioned above, the breed and size of your dog plays a big factor in getting ready for them. If you plan on crate training your pup (which I personally would recommend) think about the best option – if you plan on keeping the crate throughout your pets adult life, for travel or holidays or “just in case!” (like we did with our family dog) then buy for an adult dog! Don’t buy a little crate for the pup, buy the size you will need in the future to accommodate the size of dog you will have. In my experience, crates don’t tend to differ too significantly in price as the sizes go up, so it’s more advisable to spend a tenner or so more for the correct adult size than end up spending the X amount now and then X+ amount again in the future.
Post on Crate Training to follow.

Beds – sizing being the obvious factor here, but also take into account where your pup will be sleeping and what characteristics the breeds is known for. Some breeds are known for chewing through anything – you don’t want your pup chewing their way through nice pillow stuffing that can clog up their gut, just for the sake of wanting them to have a soft bed they can snuggle into. Dogs are brilliant and keeping themselves warm, and you’d be surprised how insulating a lining of newspaper under the bedding can be!
The bed and/or crate will be your pet’s “safe space” – this is where teaching children and others comes in. If your dog takes themselves off to their bed and/or crate, do not disturb them or harass them but leave them to it; they need to know this is their space and it is safe for them to have peace from children and from excitement and anything else.

You should be able to stroke your pet, to handle them if necessary in their bed – they shouldn’t be possessive of their “safe space” to the extent they may get aggressive. Do stroke your pet in their bed and/or crate but not for long, but often enough so they allow you into their “safe space” when necessary.


Collars, leads and “walkies!” related titbits

Get your pup used to a collar – puppy collars are gentle on the new skin and new fur of a young pup. Put the collar on for 5 minutes a day at first, and build up the amount of time over a few weeks. Once your puppy is ready for their first set of vaccinations you can try a collar on for a few hours building up as you see fit until their second set of injections, when you can take them for a walk. Before they can go out into the big, wide world you can take them around your garden or home on collar and lead (or harness or whatever you will use to walk them).

Puppy collar modelled by Tilly


Teaching your pup to walk well on a lead is essential – especially if you plan on walking with just a collar and lead. If you plan to use a harness or a gentle leader (personally I’d advise against using a Halti) get them used to this also with the collar and lead. If you do plan to use a harness, do your research and get the best type of harness for your breed – I would advise against a harness that goes round the chest and over the shoulders as this restricts movement; go for a hardness that goes from the chest, around the shoulders. Do not use a harness on breeds designed to pull, as this will encourage pulling. If you plan to use a gentle leader, ensure you fit your pet with the correct size to ensure full control and that your pet will not slip out of it. Alternatives are check chains and half-check chains – I personally would never use a check chain, and certainly if you are unsure how to set it up for safe use as you could choke your pet; half-check chains are a lot safer, as they do not require set up as they are half chain and half collar. I personally do not prefer either but if you insist on one, go with the half-check.

Gentle Leader


Once your pup is big enough for “walkies”, keep walks short and interesting until they’re big enough to walk further an explore more. If you plan to walk your dog off lead in any location, then off the lead training should be done before hand, in a safe area, to ensure your dog’s safety when out and about off the lead.
 For further information on the above section check out my Loose the Leash! post.

On a related note, for travel in the car I suggest getting a suitable harness or travel seat/carrier. Do not let your dog loose in your car whilst driving – you may have a well behaved dog, but good behaviour won’t stop your dog flying out the windscreen or into a person (or worse) in the event of a crash. My little pooch (pictured below in his car harness) weighs around 10 kg – just imagine the damage 10 kg can do loose in a car in a crash… safety first, for you and them!

Please do check out my other website posts or send me a message via any of my contact details below for further information on any of the above, or advice for walking equipment and/or on and off the lead training.

(Car) Harness – note straps go around the shoulders, not across.




All images are WordPress supplied, open source Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Fun Times

Life has been pretty busy recently, and a blog post done in a rush or without my full attention is not something I want to do. I enjoy my blog posts, and I hope anyone reading them also enjoys – so I won’t post something not done properly.

Instead, check out some fun animal-related videos on YouTube. Please note that I am in no way affiliated with any of these videos; they are not mine, or posted by anyone I know. I am just guilty of watching them too often online!

I love this video, “Cat-Friend vs Dog-Friend” – I think is a a funny (and kind of accurate) depiction of dogs and cats in the home.

I also love this video, “Dog wants a kitty” – apart from the owner of this frustrated pooch being scarily accurate in matching his voice-over to the dog’s behaviour and mouth movements, I think it would be just ace to be able to have conversations like this with your pooch! Wonder what voice your pet would have? Also check out the related video, “Ultimate Dog Tease” – poor thing is just hungry!

And one for the musically inclined, “Hamster on a piano” – not quite sure what I love more in this video; the fact the hamster is nomming popcorn, or the fact that (s)he is just so not bothered about what’s going on because (s)he has popcorn!

Have you got any fun animal-related videos I have missed, or you just feel the need to share? Please post a comment below, or via one of my social media pages…
. Google+ (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AnimalFreak24)
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Loose the Leash!

We get dogs as companions; as pets.  Our pets rely on us to live – they trust us with their lives, trust us to take care of them. We love our pets, and we take pride in training them and teaching them things. We like to show off the fun tricks we have taught our new puppy or even our older dog! But we often neglect to keep up with, or even do, basic training – we all toilet train, and at least attempt sit, stay, and recall.

Teaching your dog not to pull on the lead is often not done, and not kept on top of. This training not only to make things easier on us, especially with larger breeds, but is good for your dog’s health. I go nuts when I see people yanking their dog back on the lead – especially an extender/ retractable lead, because they are designed for your pet to roam – don’t want him to roam, don’t use the extension or use a normal lead! Unfortunately this seems to happen more with small breeds, because we are strong enough to lift them of their feet via their neck… doesn’t mean we ought to.

Harness

If you do this, you may seriously damage your pet’s neck – and surely that’s not why you got a companion animal, to cause harm?! If the dog is pulled up sharply to a hard stop, just one jerk can cause lasting damage – permanent damage that will stay with your pet for the rest of his life.

Extender/ retractable leads are more likely to cause this reaction from us – they are harder to get your dog back with, without jerking the lead. Teach your dog simple commands, to walk to heel and come back when called.

If you still have issues with your dog pulling on a lead, then for both your benefit and your dog’s, try a gentle leader or a harness – not a “check” or “choke” chain.

Gentle Leader
Gentle Leader

Take into account the breed of dog you have – for instance, a harness will cause a dog breed such as a Husky to pull more, as their instinct to “mush” and pull will kick in. If you choose to use a lead and collar, as I do personally, ensure that you train your dog to come back when called and walk to heel on command to avoid any (accidental) jerking of the lead – remember that just one jerk can cause permanent damage to your furry friend.

Collar & Lead
Collar & Lead

Moulting in Dogs

Pet owners are obviously interested in their pets and how to properly care for them, things that their pets do and/ or go through are also of interest. One thing that pet owners often wonder about, is moulting – particularly in dog owners – especially when it means bringing out the vacuum cleaner more often than usual!

Your Dog’s Coat

In order for dog owners to understand the moulting of their pet’s coat, it is helpful to understand the coat of a dog. The canine coat is made up of of two layers. One is the longer outer layer known as the overcoat; the other being the dense, insulative layer known as the undercoat.

This requires the hair growth cycle to be looked into. All of the hair on your dog goes through three cycles; these phases are the anagen (or active growth) phase, the catagen (or transitioning) phase, and the telogen (or resting) phase.  Although not all the hair will be in the same cycle at the same time, at particular times of the year the telogen phase is most dominant, causing more shedding to occur.

Anagen Phase

This is the active growth of the hair follicles, the cells of the hair root are diving rapidly. This is when the hair will actively grow under the surface of the skin, and then reach full length above the skin’s surface. Full hair length is genetically determined, so different breeds will have a different length of time for this phase of the hair growth cycle.

Catagen Phase

This is the transitioning phase at the end of the the anagen phase; the end of the active hair growth. During this stage the hair root and hair shaft (top portion of the hair, coming up out of the skin) detach from one-another – preparing for new hair growth.

Telogen Phase

This is the resting phase of the hair. The hair does not grow during this stage. At this stage the hair stays attached, however it could be pulled out (i.e. via grooming) at this stage, but tends not to fall out. Approximately 15% of al hair is in this stage at once.  Towards the end of this stage, as the hair cycle is coming around again to re-enter the anagen phase – the old hair falls out as new hair comes up and pushes the old hair out – this is your pet moulting.

 

Dog Coat Type

Dogs, such as my Bedlington Terrier (Barney, photo below) and Poodles, that do not moult have hair that is predominantly in the anagen phase. They require extra grooming to keep a nice coat and to pull out the old hairs as the detachment stage occurs less.

Barney, Bedlington Terrier
Barney, Bedlington Terrier

Dog breeds that do moult, such as Old English Sheepdogs (see Daisy, photo below) and most other breeds to be honest, have hair that is predominantly in the telogen phase. This is why you get a lot of hairs all over your furniture, clothes, carpet… Well let’s face it, EVERYWHERE!

Old English Sheepdog
Daisy, Old English Sheepdog

But Why?…

Daylight and temperature

These cycles are largely influenced by the amount of daylight, and a little by temperature – often people think that seasonal shedding is due to change in temperature, but in actual fact it is the length of daylight that has the main effect. As the seasons change and the day-lengths change, the daylight triggers the shedding of one coat and the growth of the new. This often occurs bi-annually, but in some breeds only occurs annually.

Breeds that shed annually are breeds built for colder temperatures (such as the Alaskan Malamute), and in the wild would need their coat thicker for longer. The majority of breeds shed bi-annually, losing their thick winter coat in favour of a lighter summer coat; losing their light summer coat in favour of a thick, warm winter coat. However, with dogs nowadays living inside with a lot of domestic comforts their wild counterparts lack, shedding can occur all year round, or at least more often than once or twice a year. Artificial lighting seemingly lengthens the “daylight” and can cause your dog to moult more.

Hormones

Bitches and dogs also shed slightly differently. After coming into heat or season, a bitch often sheds as part of her body cycle due to the hormone changes; pregnancy, gestation and birth can also cause hair loss with the changes in hormone levels and with the female pulling out fur for nest making.

Obviously, males are not affected by this kind of hormone change – however, male or female, thyroxin (the hormone from the thyroid gland) contributes to hair growth and rate of growth. This means that any pets suffering with hyperthyroidism, being deficient in this hormone, can lose hair more rapidly than a dog with a healthy thyroid.

External Factors

Food and water, environment, and grooming can all contribute to hair loss too.

Ensuring your dog is on the right food and has a healthy coat and skin will help ensure a normal hair cycle and moulting. Ensuring your dog has plenty of fresh water, easily accessible will also help with normal moulting – dehydration can cause problems (not just with moulting and coat but to your the general health of your pet).

Changes in environment can cause stress – noise, boredom, fear, a new pet/ child, moving house, redecorating, etc. – can all be stressors to your dog. Not all of these will affect every dog, as all dogs are individuals, different, and have had different life experiences. In cases of daily stress, moulting problems can occur.

Poor grooming, or lack of grooming, will affect the health of your dog’s skin and coat condition – affecting the hair cycle and moulting. Ensure you bathe your dog, as a dirty coat encourages bacteria growth and prevents hair growth; however, do not bathe your dog too often as you can wash away the natural, protective oils in the coat – again causing problems. Brush your dog regularly too, especially if it is a breed with curly or wavy hair, or a breed that does not moult, as hair can become tangled and matted and will be problematic in shedding.

 

Last Thoughts

If you suspect your dog is moulting excessively, take it to the vet to ensure their is no underlying issue. Check into the diet and nutrition of your dog, as sometimes the problem can be solved with a change in diet. If you are not comfortable or confident in grooming your dog yourself, find a reputable dog groomer and book your dog in regularly to keep their coat in tip-top condition!

Just groomed Westie, on grooming table
Just groomed Westie, on grooming table

“Catty” Cats (and Aggression)

I was lying in bed last night listening to some resident cats somewhere on my road have a “catty” show-down! This is a fairly regular occurrence, more so when a new cat moves in close by. This time, it did not escalate into a fight (fortunately) – the aggressive displays were enough to solve whatever this dispute was between these cats.

This got me thinking about the different types of aggression shown by animals, and why they do it. So here are my brief thoughts on animal aggression…

Firstly, there are two types of aggression:

  • Inter-species aggression – aggression between two or more individuals of the same species (i.e. cat on cat)
  • Re-directed aggression – aggression caused by one factor, being ‘taken out’ on a neutral thing (such as your brand new shoes, your lovely curtains, or your expensive dining room chairs!)

Secondly there are 3 reasons for the aggression

  • Fear – being aggressive due to feeling threatened or scared
  • Status-related – for dominance over another individual
  • Territorial – defending their area

I figured that what I was listening to last night could be one, or all, of those reasons!

Fear Aggression is the most common, and the most likely to occur – and it can also be the most dangerous to a person. A fearful animal will often panic and attack as they are unsure what else to do, and instincts kick in, in the form of the “fight or flight” reflex – stay and fight or run away. If the latter is not an option (e.g. an animal backed into a corner) then the first is the only option the animal can perceive.

Dominant or status-related aggression, which is what most people think of when thinking of aggression, is displaying aggressive behaviour to intimidate and make whoever the display is being done at, back off or put up a fight. This can occur in multi-pet households (to establish a hierarchy), not just with adult animals but even between litter-mates  growing up. Dominant aggressive behaviour is to state “I am the boss, and will accept a fight with any who challenge me!”

Territorial aggression is often seen by guard dogs displaying this behaviour in defence of their territory. It is also common when cats cross-over into someone else’s territory at the wrong time…
The display is a warning to say “if you come into my territory, I will be aggressive, so keep out!”, however the likelihood of attack from this is minimal if the distance is kept!

It is quite likely this “cat-fight” going on outside my bedroom window was territorial – however, whichever way aggression is displayed, it is not a nice behaviour; one to be avoided if and when possible! It was safe to be in bed whilst this “catty” dispute was taking place for me, I only hope the cats involved got away unscathed too!

Dangerous “People-Food” for Dogs

My 9 year old Bedlington Terrier has always been a good little dog; never being overly naughty – no interest in chasing cats, never chewed shoes or stole food… until this past Christmas season! Still generally a good little dog, however the temptation of all the tasty treats we had around the house apparently proved too much after 9 years of being a good boy! He got into various sweets and chocolates, thankfully vomiting afterwards and being okay, but it was still cause for concern until he had vomited and gotten back to his normal self.

All this got me thinking – there are plenty of human foodstuffs that are bad for our dogs, but what are some of the more serious foods to keep your dog away from?
Chocolate – an obvious and widely known human food to not feed your dog. Garlic and onions, grapes and raisins – not necessarily commonly known human foods to keep you dogs away from.

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Chocolate
Everyone knows not to feed chocolate to dogs, however a lot of us still do it! Feeding your chocolate may also encourage stealing chocolate too.
But what is it that makes chocolate toxic to dogs? Caffeine and theobromine. These are also found in more dangerous quantities the darker the chocolate, whereas white chocolate contains quite low quantities – so as a general rule; the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is.
If your dog does ingest chocolate the affects may vary from vomiting and digestive discomfort, to seizures and death. A small amount of chocolate usually causes mild digestive discomfort, and often vomiting – which clears the digestive tract of the toxin. If this does not happen, and you dog has ingested a fair amount of chocolate, veterinary attention should immediately be sought!


OnionandGarlicOnions and Garlic
Garlic is more toxic to dogs than onions (gram for gram), but both garlic, onions and related foodtuufss are toxic enough to cause serious health problems in your dog.
Sulfoxides and disulfides can be found in these types of foodstuffs which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia. It is quite uncommon for dogs to eat enough onion or garlic  for this to happen (raw is more toxic), although these foods should be kept well away from your hungry dog!

 

grapes-and-raisinsGrapes and Raisins
Vomiting, lethargy and diarrhoea can be caused by your dog eating grapes or raisins (and related foods), as well as more severe toxicosis causing kidney problems and possibly kidney failure (resulting in death).
It is unknown what exactly it is in grapes and raisins that causes these toxic effects. Some dogs can eat grapes and raisins with little or no ill effects, and others do not experience ill effects until a later date – so it is best to keep your dog clear of them!

My little Barney wouldn’t touch fruit or veg with a barge pole, so I don’t worry too much about that  (still keep them away from him though)! However, with his newly acquired sweet tooth I am having to be more mindful of where I leave my tasty treats so that they don’t end up being eaten by him! This means remembering to put chocolates and sweets back into cupboards or the fridge (preferably high up ones) so that he cannot reach them, and he cannot open any doors to get at any!

Bedlington Terrier