The Omlet Blog

Date Archives: March 2020

Rabbit Run Checklist for Spring

Spring might be the best time of year for rabbits! The sun is returning, the grass is fresh and luscious, and they can finally spend most of their time outdoors without you having to worry about rain storms and cold spells. 

That wonderful time of year is nearly here, so now is the perfect time to look over your pets current set up and make sure they have enough space to play on and that it’s safe and stimulating enough to keep them entertained and relaxed. 

RUN

If you already have a run, go over it and make sure it’s holding up and will keep your bunnies safe. You might need to replace some run clips, grease some locks or possibly change a panel.

If you’re new to keeping rabbits or looking to extend, it’s important to find a safe and spacious solution that suits your garden. The Omlet Outdoor Rabbit Run is a great alternative if you want to create a large, secure area where rabbits can spend their days. It can easily be connected to your Eglu Go Hutch, so that your rabbits can nip into their cosy home for a nap or a snack. The generous height of the run also allows you to go in and spend time with your pets.

The Zippi Runs are also a great solution for rabbit owners. These secure runs give your pets more exercise space, and they can be customised for your needs with two heights and optional roof panels and underfloor mesh. 

PLAYPEN

You will most likely be spending more time in the garden as the weather gets warmer, and if you have kids they will want to join in and play with the rabbits. The Zippi Playpens are super easy to move around the garden and allow you to spend quality time with your rabbits. 

ZIPPI TUNNELS

If you have a hutch and a run but are tired of having to carry your pets between the two, the Zippi Tunnel System might be the perfect solution for you. By connecting the tunnels to the different areas you allow the rabbits to move between their different habitats at their own pace. They can be locked at the end of the day to secure your pets in their hutch.

You can adjust your Zippi Tunnel System to fit your garden by adding connectors, corners, hay racks and lookout towers. It is also super easy to add extra tunnels at a later date if you want to make your pets’ playground bigger!

COVERS

You can make sure your rabbits stay dry from those inevitable April showers by adding covers to the roof of your run. We have got plenty of different kinds of covers to suit your setup and protect your pets from the elements. The clear covers are perfect for early spring days as they let in light on the run even in rain, whereas the heavy duty versions will provide your pets with a shady spot in warmer weather. 

SHELTERS & PLAY TUNNELS

Next step in creating the perfect run is to add some entertainment for your pets. Designed to mimic an underground rabbit warren in the wild, the Omlet Play Tunnels are the perfect accessory for your run. The rabbits will love chasing each other through the tunnels or stretching their long legs and jumping over their toys. Thanks to the anti-chew rings at both ends of the tunnels, they can also be securely connected to the Zippi Shelters. 

The Zippi Shelters are another fun and practical addition to the run that allow rabbits to live out their natural instincts. They can use the shelter as a place to relax on the run, or hop on top of it to get a better view of their surroundings. 

CADDI

Another way of providing your rabbits with entertainment and stimulation is to make snack time slightly more challenging. The Caddi Treat Holder can easily be filled with nutritious veg or hay and then hung from the top of the run. It will slowly swing as the rabbits nibble away at their tasty greens, adding an interactive element that is also more hygienic than putting the food straight on the ground. 


If you want to make sure you have everything sorted for the outdoor months ahead you can print screen the list below and tick off all rabbit run essentials!

🗆 Permanent, safe run

🗆 Moveable runs and playpens

🗆 Weather protection

🗆 Tunnels

🗆 Other toys

🗆 Fun feeding solutions

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This entry was posted in Rabbits on March 30th, 2020 by linnearask


Hamster Vs. Guinea Pig – Which Is The Better Pet For You?

Choosing a small pet is a big decision. Although their needs differ, hamsters and guinea pigs require equal amounts of planning. Where will the enclosure go? Is there enough space? Who is going to carry out the daily feeding and weekly cleaning? Can you afford all the equipment – and all the food the pets will nibble through?

Small mammals of the rodent and rabbit families may all look cute, fluffy and vaguely similar, but there are important differences in the needs and personalities of each species. There are two broad groups – animals that spend all their time indoors, such as hamsters; and those that spend part of their time outdoors and therefore need runs and tunnels, such as the guinea pig.

Hamster keeping – simple, but brief

There’s no doubt that hamsters suit people who want a pet that can pretty much look after itself. But it’s important to have some kind of interaction with your pet, otherwise there’s little point in having it in the house in the first place.

The defining feature of the hamster is its nocturnal lifestyle. This means hamster owners only get to interact with their furry friends in the evening, or early in the morning. Waking them up in the daytime will only make them confused and irritable.

These night-time habits mean that bedrooms are not the ideal location for a hamster cage. Busy little hamster feet, squeaky hamster wheels, rattling water bottles and gnawing rodent teeth are the kinds of sounds guaranteed to disturb a good night’s sleep. This is an important consideration for a child – if the hamster cage is not going to be in the bedroom, will it still be appreciated and looked after?

The answer might still be yes, if the kids are happy to interact with the hamster just before bedtime. The animals can be hand-tamed, and perhaps half an hour each day is exactly what the children are looking for. They can replenish the food and water each morning before school while the hamster settles in for another day’s deep sleep.

But if your kids want a pet who sticks around during the day, a hamster isn’t the best choice. With a lifespan of just two years, their pet won’t be around for very long, and children may feel they hardly had time to get to know their little friend.

Guinea pigs – garden lovers

Guinea pigs require lots more attention than hamsters, and that’s what a lot of pet owners are looking for. Getting to know a pet GP takes time, as they are nervous little creatures, but once you’ve gained their trust, you have a friend for life.

Children will have a real sense of being part of the animals’ community. There’s a lot to be done in GP upkeep, including replenishing hay – lots and lots of it – and chopping up veg for the food bowl. Hutches, runs and tunnels need weekly maintenance. If you have a good tunnel system such as the Zippi as part of your set up, the animals can freely move between their hutch and one or several runs or playpens at their own will. Watching the animals in action will give everyone hours of fun.

A guinea pig that is well taken care of can easily live for five to eight years, so it’s a long term commitment that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

Guinea pigs are active in the day time, so their waking, eating and sleeping patterns match those of their human neighbours.

10 questions to decide: Hamster or Guinea Pig?

Still undecided? Answer the following questions, and then total up your score, H vs. GP. The higher number reveals the ideal pet choice for you!


1. Is someone around during the day to look after the pets?

Yes – score 1 GP

No – score 1 H

2. Is the pet for a child?

Yes – score 2 GPs

No – score 1 H and 1 GP

3. Do you have some space in the garden for an enclosure or run?

Yes – score 1 GP

No – score 1 H

4. Does anyone in the household have a pet allergy? (This may mean keeping the pets outdoors)

Yes – score 2 GPs

No – Score 1 GP and 1 H

5. Do you want to keep just one pet?

Yes – score 1 H

No – score 1 GP

6. Is someone prepared to prepare fresh veg each day for the pet?

Yes – score 1 GP

No – score 1 H

7. Do you only have room for a small cage?

Yes – score 2 Hs

No – score 1 H and 1 GP

8. Is the pet owner ‘late to bed, late to rise’?

Yes – score 2 Hs

No – score 1 GP and 1 H

9. Is the cage within earshot of your bedroom?

Yes – score 2 GPs

No – score 1 H and 1 GP

10. Are you looking for a pet as a long-term companion?

Yes – score 1 GP

No – score 1 H


More GPs than Hs, or the other way round? Either way, you will hopefully now have a firmer idea of which pet will best suit you and your household.

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This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs on March 27th, 2020 by linnearask


A Message from the Omlet Team

We have received many questions in the last few days regarding orders and delivery. We would like to reassure you that our distribution centres are fully open and all our office team are now working from home. 

There was a sudden increase in demand for some products and there may be slightly longer delivery times than normal as a result.  We have lots more products already on their way and you can pre order online now. Next to the buy button you will be shown an estimated dispatch date and it’s also shown in your basket.  

We will email you again when the order is dispatched and you can always check in with our brilliant customer service team anytime to modify your order.

Please note that once your product has been dispatched you should use the courier companies tracking services to keep up to date with your orders progress. We will always email you your tracking details. Deliveries are sometimes taking a little longer than normal as the couriers have to react to any changes to their ability to deliver. Please also note that you may receive your order in more than one delivery on two separate days.

The Omlet Team is here for you! We will still be running our usual promotions and competitions (check our social media channels and newsletter for latest) and we’ll be doing our best to keep you and your pets entertained throughout the next few weeks. 

The Omlet Team

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This entry was posted in Pets on March 24th, 2020 by chloewelch


Five Reasons Why Budgies Make Such Great Pets

The budgie is the world’s most popular pet bird. When the first specimens were brought to Europe from Australia in the 1840s they were an instant hit. The reasons for their popularity are clear to anyone who has spent time in the company of these wonderful little birds. They are pocket-sized parrots, with all the personality of their bigger cousins – clever, colourful, and with the seemingly magical ability to learn human words… sometimes!

1. Budgies don’t require much

Budgerigars are also easy to look after, and being small birds they have modest appetites, so they’re an inexpensive addition to the home. Their diet is based on seed, and as long as you source a good mix, without added colours or chemicals, the birds will thrive. They will also enjoy some fresh greens and other vegetables, but only in small quantities.

This reflects the birds diet in the wilds of Australia. They gather in large feeding flocks and seek out grass seeds. Most of these are fresh, of course, and in captivity the seed should be as fresh as possible too.

In terms of equipment, a good cage and basic accessories are all you need. You can give them simple things to play with, too, like ping-pong balls and bells. All very cheap, and incredibly cheerful.

2. Budgies Have Fantastic Personalities

Beautiful as a pet canary or finch may be, you can’t train them beyond the basic perching-on-a-finger level. Budgies, however, can take on board an amazing variety of skills, from coming to your hand when you call, to negotiating tunnels, skateboarding, and manoeuvring a ball around obstacles.

The key to these skills lies in bonding with your budgie. It’s more than simply taming – it’s a human and bird friendship, the kind of connection you can only form with an intelligent animal. Budgies are not alone in this, of course – the whole parrot family is renowned for its grey matter. But in a bird as small as a budgie, intelligence appears even more remarkable.

3. Budgies Can Talk To You!

Budgies talk, pretty much all day, with various moods that you soon come to recognise. Not all the ‘talking’ consists of recognisable words – in fact many, if not most birds, never master human words. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s great fun if your bird takes on board a few words and phrases, but even without them budgie sounds are a source of great pleasure.

Female budgies are less inclined to speak than males. Of these, around half may pick up human words. They have more chance of learning if you start teaching them in their first nine months. Some require lots of time and effort, while others seem to soak up words with relative ease. Talk-time tends to be after a good feed or a spot of exercise. The budgie will settle on his favourite perch and begin to chatter. The bubbling, clicking, whistling babble of speech sounds voice-like even when there are no human words in the mix. It’s a lovely, soothing backdrop to the day.

4. Budgies Don’t Like Vets!

In other words, budgerigars are generally very healthy and robust birds. As long as they have a super-healthy diet and a clean environment (cages should be spruced-up once a fortnight), they will be strangers to the vet.

Budgies also let you know on those rare occasions when they’re not feeling well. They will stop chattering non-stop, will sleep during the day, and will look sad and ‘droopy’ on their perch. Because, of course, there are potential illnesses, as there are with any animal. Give them a daily visual check – if they’re looking as happy and chirpy as usual, all is well. If you have any doubts, run through our checklist of possible problems, and have a word with a vet. Chances are they will never have met your budgie before!

5. Budgies Come in Endless Colour Patterns

Although there are just three basic colour combinations – green and yellow, blue and white, or a mixture of these – the variety of patterns within this mix is incredible. In some birds the white dominates, with other colours bursting through like flowers in a snowy meadow. Some birds have striking primary colours, while others have pastels, sometimes fading to just a hint of translucent colour. There are all-yellow budgies, all-white ones, birds patterned in just greys and blacks, and, of course, classic green and yellow budgies looking exactly like their Australian wild cousins.

Whichever variety of budgie you bring home, you are guaranteed a bird packed with enough personality to fill a dozen birds twice its size. And this will be a long-lasting friendship, as a healthy and well fed budgie can live up to 15 years. Enjoy your time together!

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This entry was posted in Budgies on March 21st, 2020 by linnearask


Why Budgies and Other Pet Birds Love to Bathe

It’s a dusty business being a pet bird, in a world of sawdust, seed husks and the dry atmosphere of the great indoors. The dust gets lodged at the base of the feathers, and the skin starts to get itchy. This is why most birds absolutely love taking a wet bath.

This doesn’t apply to all species, though. Every chicken keeper know how much their hens love a good dust bath – making things drier and dustier than ever. You may also notice wild birds such as blackbirds and sparrows dust-bathing too.

Many birds happily mix and match these two different bathing techniques. But in general, it is thought that the preference for one method over the other depends on where the birds originate. Land-based birds with access to water tend to bathe in it; while those in more arid habitats favour dust-bathing. The dust helps maintain the correct oil balance on the bird’s feathers, and also deters parasites such as lice.

When a bird mixes and matches, it is both cleaning itself (with the water) and then de-lousing (with the dust).

Budgie Baths

During hot weather, budgies may take a dip several times a day, given the chance. Their bath can be fixed inside the cage, or can simply be a shallow bowl on the ground outside the cage. Keeping the bath external to the cage helps keep things dry and tidy. There’s a lot of flapping and splashing involved in bathing if you’re all hot and bothered and covered in feathers!

The bath serves at least three purposes. It helps the birds get clean; it helps them cool off; and it provides a lot of fun. Some birds can’t get enough of it; and yet some owners report that their bird baths are never used. This lack of appeal is a bit of a mystery. Given the chance, most budgies relish the chance to splash around, and will use their drinking water as a mini-bath, if possible. Some, however, never get the bath bug. This is probably due to early exposure – if a bird hasn’t been given the opportunity to enjoy a soak during its first nine months, it may never acquire the taste.

An unbathed bird isn’t a problem – the budgie will still preen and ruffle its feathers to clean itself of dust, and it certainly won’t become smelly.

Budgies – most of them – also enjoy what is known as a ‘bird shower’: bunches of edible greens and herbs freshly dipped in water. These act like a budgie carwash, and the bird will enjoy rubbing and rolling in the moisture before shaking itself dry – and probably taking a bite or two from the shower to round things off!

Finch Baths

Everything that applies to budgie baths applies to finch baths too. Always make sure the ‘bath tub’ is secure – either fixed to the cage, or broad-bottomed so that it cannot be tipped over. Finches tend to be a bit nervous, and a wobbly bath will shake their confidence.

Some species, notably the canary, also love a spray-shower. Tepid-to-lukewarm water in a mister-spray is their version of a luxury spa session. Once your bird is hand-tamed, introduce the spray and see how the finch reacts. If it becomes scared, don’t continue, but try again later. In 90% of cases, your pet will come to love this form of pampering.

Parrot Baths

Like budgies, most larger parrots enjoy the opportunity to bathe. The water is thought to fulfil several different purposes, from cleaning the feathers and softening up dried-on dirt for easier removal, to assisting moulting and helping the respiratory system.

Many parrots enjoy the spray-mist shower too, and some of the large species even acquire the taste for joining their owners in the shower room! This is not without its hazards, though. Parrots’ respiratory systems are sensitive to chemicals found in tap water, such as chlorine and fluorine. If your parrot is to be your shower companion, you will need to fit a shower filter that removes these chemicals

A wide dish is a more conventional bath for a parrot, though. The birds will use the dish for drinking as well as bathing, but that’s fine.

General Bird Bath Rules

Whatever type of birds you keep, their bath will become dirty very quickly, and the water will need replacing at least once a day. Many owners impose bath time on their birds, only introducing the water at certain times. In smaller cage set ups this is the best method, as it avoids everything getting very wet very quickly, and staying that way.

In a larger aviary, the bath is usually installed as a permanent cage feature. It’s always interesting to see which of the birds become ‘bath addicts’, and which ones prefer a quick preen-and-shake, no water required!

Whatever your set up, always make sure the water is at room (or ambient air) temperature. Allow cold tap water to cool first – a bird that takes a cold dip may suffer shock to the system and become ill.

Above all, bath time is fun – both for the bird, and as a spectator sport!

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This entry was posted in Budgies on March 16th, 2020 by linnearask


Why Do Some People Dislike Cats So Much?

We’ve all been asked the age-old question at some point in our lives… “Are you a cat person, or a dog person?”

For those who reply “cat person” you will likely have had the confusing but unsurprising reply of “No way! I HATE cats!”

But why? So many people have strong feelings against cats, and most of the time can’t even justify their negativity. While some reasons can be understandable, others are just plain unreasonable! Here are a few reasons why our feline friends gained so many haters…

Myths and history

If we look back into Ancient Egyptian history, we will see that cats were considered magical beings, protectors and a sign of good luck by the Egyptians, and they even worshipped a Cat Goddess, named Bastet. 

So how have we become a world completely split over whether cats are good or bad? 

Throughout history, other countries have had mixed thoughts on the symbolism of cats. The main myth that has been carried through to the present day is most damaging to the reputation of the black cat. Some say if a black cat crosses your path you will have bad luck, others believe black cats are actually witches in disguise. Despite neither of these conspiracies holding any weight in truth, they still impact black cat adoption rates to this day, and may go somehow in explaining why so many people feel uneasy around cats of any colour.

Bad experiences

A common reason for the hate towards cats is related back to bad experiences that may have happened as early as childhood. It normally follows a story of visiting a family or friends house as a kid, and being swiped, bit, scratched or hissed at by the resident cat, with rarely any mention of what the disrespectful child-self may have done to provoke said cat.

Some people fear dogs for the same reason too so it definitely isn’t the main cause of hostility. We can only hope that someday these people may come around to the fact that it is very rare for a cat to attack for no reason, as an adult you are going to be better at reading the signals of a cat who would like some space.

Independent creatures

Yes, okay, sometimes cats aren’t as affectionate as dogs but this is because they are typically more independent. However, the notion suggested by some cat-haters that cats aren’t capable of loving their owners at all, is just plain silly. 

Some cats who have bad experiences with humans, may be more wary or even fearful of us, and will likely have got used to their own company and learnt to fend for themselves. But even the most frightened and isolated cats learn to enjoy human company again, after lots of love, care and affection.

There are lots of fascinating ways that cats show they love their owners and you can read all about those here.

Neighbour’s cat

If your neighbour’s cat is causing a mess in your garden or terrorising your chickens, it is understandable that some anger may develop towards the whole species. However, that behaviour is not a reflection on all cats, so don’t paint them all with the same brush!

You might, however, like to place the responsibility on the cats’ owners and suggest solutions to prevent upsetting neighbours, such as an outdoor pet enclosure for cats to spend time outdoors without getting up to mischief. Some people even walk their cats on a lead when they are new to an area to show them where they can go – whether this works or not is debatable.

“Dogs are cuter”

Some people are just die hard dog fans and we have to accept that, but the argument of which pet is “cuter” is entirely subjective and shouldn’t be taken as truth. If you think cats are cuter, then good for you! Cats should have as much chance as any other pet in finding a happy and loving home for life, and if you give them everything they need to be safe and content, they will love you right back.

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This entry was posted in Cats on March 15th, 2020 by linnearask


Which Chicken Breed Are You? Take Our Test!

Do you like travelling and seeing new places?

A: “Home is where the heart is”, as I always say. That’s where I feel the happiest.

B: I love exploring new places, and I’m always looking for a new place to visit. 

C: I like the occasional holiday as a treat, but I prefer going places where I’ve already been.

D: I love going somewhere warm, but while there I mainly spend time by the pool.

How do you feel about children? 

A: I LOVE children, they are so CUTE. And they say the funniest things!

B: Kids are like small adults really: I like some and find others quite annoying.

C: I don’t love babies, but once you can talk to them they are quite fun to be around. 

D: Honesty, I don’t think they are worth the effort.

What’s your role in a group?

A: I normally stay in the background and let other people decide – it’s easier that way. 

B: I tend to bond with the people who I have the most in common with and stick to them. I’m not really a people pleaser. 

C: I often get the leader role without actually asking for it. Maybe I give off assertiveness? I don’t mind though, I quite enjoy it.

D: I’m normally the loud one who tries to make sure everyone is happy and that there is no awkwardness. 

Would you say you’re friendly?

A: I get on with most people, and it’s important to me to be liked.

B: Yeah I suppose so. I’m extremely generous to people I like, but I don’t spend time and energy on being nice to people who I don’t like.

C: Yes, definitely. I’m curious, so I like meeting new people.

D: I can be a bit suspicious in the beginning, so maybe I don’t always come across as the friendliest of people. 

How clean and tidy are you?

A: I really don’t like being dirty, and I keep my home spotless. 

B: I’d say the perfect amount, but I think others would probably say I’m on the slightly messy side.

C: Can I say medium? Medium.

D: I’m not super fussed, mainly because there is always something more fun to do than to clean.

What would you say is your greatest quality?

A: I’m very easygoing. 

B: I stand up for what I believe in.

C: I’m very friendly.

D: I’m ambitious and proactive. 

How would you describe your sense of style?

A: I’m quite interested in fashion, especially shoes. You could say shoes are a bit of an obsession of mine.

B: The most important thing for me is that the things I wear are comfortable.

C: Elegant and classic.

D: I like big bold patterns, but my wardrobe is mainly black and white with a few colourful additions.


Mostly A: You’re a Cochin

Just like the fluffy Cochin, you are humble and appreciate the simple things in life. Because of your friendly demeanour you tend to get on well with most people and pets, but just like the Cochin sometimes becomes the submissive breed in a mixed flock you need to work on standing up for yourself to make sure no one takes advantage of you. You’re not particularly adventurous, but prefer to spend time at home with family and friends over crazy nights out, just like the Cochin. These rather lazy chickens stay close to the ground and prefer not to get their feathered feet dirty. They also have a strong maternal instinct and run the risk of regularly going broody.

Mostly B: You’re an Old English Game

These beautiful small chickens are one of the oldest breeds around. Just like you they are active and confident, always on the lookout for new things to explore. You are family orientated and very generous to those close to you. This can however mean that you find it hard to forgive people who have hurt you or the people you love, and you are quite happy to fight someone who you don’t agree with. Old English Game are hardy and quite noisy, and don’t do well with confinement. They are small and very friendly to humans, but especially roosters have an aggressive side to them, probably due to the fact that they descend from cockfighting birds.

Mostly C: You’re a Leghorn

You are an ambitious and hardworking person, and you tend to be the center of attention in any situation. Just like the Leghorn you’re not fussy and can handle most things life throws at you, but don’t like losing control. Due to their independent nature, Leghorns are difficult to tame, and if given the opportunity they will roost in trees. They are not natural sitters, but will care for their own children. They produce plenty of eggs and will be assertive but friendly towards humans.

Mostly D: You’re an Ancona

Just like these beautifully spotty birds you are independent and assertive, and will always be busy with something. You are open and friendly and take the role of the joker in a group,  but it can take a while to get close to you as you only open up to those who you really trust. Anconas are happiest if they get to free range and forage for food during the day, but then return to the safety of a comfy coop. They produce a good amount of eggs, but are notoriously famous for their inability to sit on the eggs – just like you they don’t find babies that interesting.

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This entry was posted in Chickens on March 12th, 2020 by linnearask


How to teach your dog the command ‘Go To Bed’

Dogtor Adem, founder and owner of Dog-Ease, is a dog behaviourist and trainer with over 15 years experience working with dog owners and their canine best friends. In this blog post, Adem shows you how to teach your dog the “go to bed” command. 


Using their fabulous new Bolster Bed, I have teamed up with Omlet to guide you through the basics of how to teach your dog the ‘Go to Bed’ command. ‘Go to Bed’ is a useful exercise for dog owners and can be used in a variety of situations, from being able to answer the front door knowing your dog is safely on their bed, away from external risks, or to allow guests to enter the home, to encouraging your dog to settle on a blanket or bed whilst visiting family, friends or even the local coffee shop!

Furthermore, whilst teaching this command you can also start to teach the basics of the commands ‘sit’, ‘heel’, ‘down’ and ‘leave’. All in all, it’s a great all round training exercise that can help you to be able to communicate with your dog effectively as well as helping our dogs to understand a range of commands that can be useful in our everyday lives in a variety of situations.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

  • A comfortable dog bed (we can vouch for the Bolster Bed!)
  • Some tasty treats your dog likes
  • Your dog on a lead and collar
  • A clear area where you can walk at least 5-10 paces away from the dog bed

HELPFUL TIPS FOR BEGINNING YOUR TRAINING

1) To teach your dog the command ‘go to bed’, follow the steps outlined below. Start slowly, taking your time with each step. Your dog will need time to understand each step and master it. The training is designed to be carried out, repeated, and built on over time. Your dog will not be able to learn the command within a day! Just like us, dog’s need time to process, practice and fully learn new skills. It’s even harder for them to learn a skill when they speak ‘dog’ and we speak ‘human’! Our job as teachers is to help them to understand our language. This will take time and patience.

2) Use your tasty treats to reward your dog when they achieve what you are guiding them to understand.  Give the treat as your dog carries out the command you are saying e.g. sit, helping them to associate the word you are saying with what they are doing at the time.

3) Carry out the training positively. Avoid telling your dog off and never force them into positions. They will not understand what this means and can form negative associations as a result. If your dog is not understanding, this is because they haven’t made the relevant connection between what you are saying and what they are required to do. Go back a step if this happens. It is your job to be a good and patient teacher!

4) Practice little and often. A good guide is to aim for 10-15 minutes of training at least once a day.

5) End your training sessions positively and on a ‘good note’. Accept small wins and small amounts of progress over pushing too quickly for too much from your dog, resulting in them not being able to do what you have asked of them. If the latter happens, go back to what they can do confidently and end there. You can come back to the next step another day. You want your dog to feel positive about what they have learnt and achieved, even if this is small, encouraging them to make the connections between what you are saying and what this means they should be doing at this time. This will also help them to want to participate next time!

6)  Once you have mastered steps 1-5, repeat again using the ‘HOW TO PROGRESS’ tips to advance your training.

7) Finally, please do not attempt this training if your dog is showing signs of possessive or aggressive behaviour around food or items as this could put both yourself and your dog at risk. You should seek advice from a qualified behaviourist if this is the case.

And now to begin…

STEP ONE: Set up your bed area and, with your dog on a lead, walk towards the bed

As outlined above, ensure that your dog bed is laid out in an area clear of obstacles. Ideally, you need to be able to walk 5-10 paces away from the bed in a relatively straight line. Put your dog on a lead and have your treats ready – preferably in a treat bag or easy access pocket so that you can access them quickly, ready to reward your dog for their achievements and cooperation!

Once your area and dog bed is set up, you have your tasty treats ready, and your dog on a lead by your side, walk up to your dog bed. You don’t have to walk far at first, 5 paces is sufficient at this early stage!

If your dog does not understand the ‘walk to heel’ command, hold a tasty treat to their nose as you walk to encourage them to walk on a loose lead by your side. Give the treat as a reward as you say the command ‘heel’ when your dog assumes the desired position by your side. You may need to hold the treat close to your dog’s nose to begin with if they don’t understand this command, helping them to stay close to your side as you walk.

HOW TO PROGRESS

  1. Increase the distance between you both and the bed so you have to walk further.
  2. When teaching ‘heel’, start to bring the treat away from their nose so they walk loosely on the lead without having to be directly lead by the scent of the yummy treat. Once your dog starts to understand they need to stay by your side, you can then progress to walking to ‘heel’ with the lead in your pocket, then to dropping the lead and the lead trailing on the floor, then finally to taking the lead off entirely! Take this slowly if your dog doesn’t know the heel command already.

STEP TWO: Ask your dog to ‘sit’ in front of the bed

Stop in front of the dog bed and, holding a treat to your dog’s nose, guide your dog into the ‘sit’ position. As they place their bottom on the floor, say the command ‘sit’ so that they associate this word with the action of sitting. You can give a treat for assuming the sit position if they do not already know this command.

TOP TIP: If you haven’t already taught them, your dog will not understand the command words such as ‘heel’ or ‘sit’ at the beginning. It is your job as their teacher to be clear and help them to learn.  Always and only say the command words when your dog is physically doing the action you desire so that they can learn to understand what you mean. Ensure the treat you give as a reward follows within a couple of seconds.

HOW TO PROGRESS

  1. Once your dog is sitting on command each time using the treat and word ‘sit’, start to complete STEP 2 without offering the treat so your dog begins to further understand what this word means when you say it.

STEP THREE: Place a treat at the back of the bed and walk your dog back to the start position

Holding your dog’s lead in one hand, use your other hand to place a treat at the back of the dog bed.

Using a second treat, guide your dog away from the bed and the first tasty treat that you have placed at the back of the bed. As you move away from the bed and first treat you could also say the command ‘leave’. Remember, as with ‘heel’ and ‘sit’, say the command ‘leave’ as you move away and your dog assumes the correct action, following you rather than advancing towards the treat on the bed. To encourage your dog to move away from the bed, place the treat close to your dog’s nose to begin with to help them to understand what you are asking and to incentivise them to follow you.

Move back towards your start position by using the command ‘heel’. Remember to guide your dog with your treat, as before, back to the start position. Keep the treat close to their nose to begin with to help them walk closely by your side until they start to understand this command.

TOP TIP: As you guide your dog away from the treat, make it easier for them to leave the treat and follow you by turning into your dog, placing yourself in between them and the treat as you move away. This helps to limit the ‘temptation’ factor of advancing towards the bed and treat, helping them to understand what you mean!

WHY TEACH THE LEAVE COMMAND?

The ‘leave’ command can be useful in everyday life, from teaching your dog to leave a child’s toy that is not suitable for them to play with, to asking them to leave a piece of food that you have dropped on the floor or they have found whilst walking that might not be suitable for them to eat. It is useful not only for helping your dog to understand what is his or hers, but also useful in keeping them safe from ingesting harmful objects or food items.

STEP FOUR: Turn to face the bed and ‘send’ your dog back to the bed using the ‘go to bed’ command

Once back at your start position, turn to face the bed and continue to use the treat to guide your dog into the ‘sit’ position once again. Give the treat as you say the command to once more positively reward the action as your dog carries it out.

Next, walk your dog back to the bed whilst saying ‘go to bed’ as the dog advances towards the bed (and the tasty treat you have placed there!)

HOW TO PROGRESS

  1. As with teaching the ‘heel’ command, you want your dog to eventually be able to complete this off lead. Start by dropping the lead on the floor and sending your dog to their bed whilst saying ‘go to bed’. You could add a hand signal, such as pointing at the bed, at this stage to help your dog to understand.
  2. Complete this step with your dog off lead and say ‘go to bed’.

STEP FIVE: Allow your dog to find the treat, say their name so they turn towards you, and then ask them to sit whilst on the bed

After walking or sending your dog to their bed, allow them to find and eat the tasty treat you placed on the bed earlier. Next, call their name to get their attention and, using another treat if necessary, ask or guide them into the ‘sit’ position. They should now be sat on their bed and, as a result, they have completed ‘go to bed’ in it’s simplest form! Move to your dog’s side (so they don’t advance forwards and off the bed) and give them the tasty treat for sitting on the bed.

HOW TO PROGRESS

  1. After you are consistently able to achieve a ‘sit’ on the bed, use a treat start to guide your dog into the down position instead of asking them to sit on the bed. Say the word ‘down’ as they assume the correct position. Reward as before by the dog’s side rather than in front to encourage them to stay laying on their bed.
  2. Once your dog is confidently laying down on the bed each time you say down, increase the distance from which you ask them to assume this position. If your dog is doing well with this, increase your distance from them each time by a step or two. The eventual aim is that you will be able to say the command from the other side of the room and your dog respond appropriately! As before, always go back to your dog’s side at the end of the exercise to reward them with a treat for laying on their bed.

So there you have it, the five steps to teaching your dog to ‘go to bed’! Over time, the repetition of this training along with your clear giving of commands and timely rewarding of their actions in response should help your dog to understand exactly what you are asking of them.

Let me know if you give it a go!

Dogtor™ Adem
Top UK Dog Trainer and Behaviourist
Owner of Dog-ease Training
www.dog-ease.co.uk

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This entry was posted in Dogs on March 11th, 2020 by linnearask


New Puppy Shopping List

You’re getting a puppy – congratulations! Bringing home a puppy is an extremely exciting experience, but it can also be pretty full on, as your new friend will require almost constant attention and care. To minimise the stress of not having the right things at hand when the dog is already in your home, make sure to tick off these puppy essentials before he or she moves in!

✔️ Crate

Many breeders will have crate trained the puppy from an early age, and most dog trainers recommend this method as a way of making the transition into a new home as smooth as possible.

The crate acts as an enclosed safe space for your puppy, a place they can return to when they are tired or worried, that they know is just theirs. The Fido Nook 2-in-1 Luxury Dog Crate and Bed is a great solution for this. Put the crate in the beautifully designed den, and make it nice and cosy for your dog. When the puppy is fully trained, you can decide if you want to remove the crate or keep it in. The Fido Nook is also available with a super convenient wardrobe where you can store all of your dog’s things in one handy place, and it looks great in any room of the house. 

Remember that puppies grow quickly, so get a crate that will also fit your pup when they are fully grown. 

✔️ Bed & Blanket

Growing puppies spend most of their days sleeping, so they will need a comfortable bed to rest on. The Omlet Bolster Beds have a memory foam mattress that will sculpt itself around the dog’s body, providing support and comfort after hours of play. As an added bonus the cover can be removed and is machine washable, so you don’t have to worry about puppy accidents or muddy paws.

Make sure you also provide your puppy with a super soft blanket to curl up on. Having a blanket in the crate means the puppy will associate it with home, and it can then be used as a comforter when you’re out and about seeing new sights and trying new things!

✔️ Food and bowls

You will probably have been given some instructions from the breeder on what to feed your puppy the first weeks, and it’s best to stick to this to avoid upsetting their delicate little tummies. After a while you can gradually start introducing the food you want to give your dog. Make sure it’s a high quality feed suitable for growing pups, like this one from Arden Grange that is packed with fresh chicken.

Get bowls for food and water in a suitable size that are deep enough to not create lots of mess, but stable enough to not tip over. It’s also a good idea to have a few travel sized bowls that you can bring on adventures.

✔️ Training treats

The key to a well behaved and well rounded dog is to encourage and enforce all good behaviours. Make sure you have plenty of small treats around to give your puppy when they are being a good boy or girl. The world can be rather intimidating for a small puppy who is learning new things, and knowing that you will provide them with praise and love – and a yummy treat – when they return to you will make the bond between you strong from the beginning. 

✔️ Chew toys

Puppies love to chew, and anyone who’s been around a puppy knows that those sharp teeth can do some damage, whether it’s on your sofa cushions or your favourite pair of leather boots. Give your pet some appropriate chew toys to ease the itch and blow off some steam. You might have to try a few to find one that’s the right size and hardness for your dog, so make sure you have a selection at hand. 

✔️ Collar & Lead

As soon as your puppy is ready to go out into the real world they will need a stylish collar to put their ID-tag on. We have plenty of different types in our shop, so you’re sure to find one that suits you and your new pet. Match with a lead or harness, from the simple and stylish Urban Pup leads to the luxurious soft leather leads from Cloud7

These are the most important things to get before you go to pick up your puppy and bring it home. You will probably find that there are plenty of other things that are useful to have, like grooming equipment, nail clippers, cleaning products, and even a dog jacket or a jumper, but the above essentials will see you through the first weeks with your new family member, without any emergency shopping trips! 

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This entry was posted in Dogs on March 9th, 2020 by linnearask


If You Buy Your Chickens One Toy This Spring…

…make it the Peck Toy!

Here’s why the Peck Toy is the perfect choice for your chickens…

  1. The Peck Toy ensures a slow rate of feed release which is perfect for use with treats to prevent your chickens having too much at once, while keeping them satisfied throughout the day. 
  2. The Peck Toy is also a great way of keeping your chickens entertained throughout the day, especially ideal for wet or windy days when they would prefer not to leave the protection of their run, or if you are unable to let them out to free range. The Peck Toy offers an interesting, reward-based game for them to play with all day long.
  3. Available in 2 designs to suit your coop requirements and chickens, the Peck Toy can either be hanging from your run so it swings as your chickens peck at it for treats, or free standing, placed in the ground in their run or anywhere in your garden.
  4. Use for any of your chickens’ three nutritional needs – treats, feed or grit. The number of Peck Toys you need will vary depending on the use, for example 1 peck toy is suitable as a treat dispenser for 4 medium sized chickens, or as a feed dispenser for 2 medium sized chickens. 1 peck toy is also enough for 6 chickens if used as a grit dispenser.
  5. Placing treats or feed in a dispenser also helps to improve run hygiene as it prevents the ground being covered in more treats and feed than your chickens need or want. This is most beneficial for preventing rodents becoming interested in your coop and run.
  6. You can save 50% on the Peck Toy this weekend only when you sign up to the Omlet newsletter. This is an eggcellent opportunity to snap up a great deal and treat your chickens to a new toy for the spring. Get your unique discount code on the Peck Toy page here

Now available from £7.99, or £3.99 when you sign up to the Omlet newsletter.


Terms and conditions
This promotion is only valid from 05/03/20 – midnight on 09/03/20. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a unique discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. This offer is available on single Poppy and Pendant Chicken Peck Toys only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs or Twin Pack with Caddi Treat Holder. Offer is limited to 2 Peck Toys per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

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This entry was posted in Chickens on March 5th, 2020 by linnearask


50% off Peck Toys when you sign up for the Omlet Newsletter

Time to revamp your chickens’ hentertainment? Get 50% off the Peck Toy when you sign up to the Omlet Newsletter for a limited time only. 🐔

Terms and conditions:
This promotion is only valid from 05/03/20 – midnight on 09/03/20. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a unique discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. This offer is available on single Poppy and Pendant Chicken Peck Toys only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs or Twin Pack with Caddi Treat Holder. Offer is limited to 2 Peck Toys per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

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This entry was posted in Chickens on March 5th, 2020 by linnearask


The Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds

All dogs are smart. That’s because their ancestor, the wolf, is very clever, so dogs’ brains had a great starting point. Even the breeds fondly described as “lovably clueless” are still relatively clever compared to most other animals!

The question of why wolves, and therefore dogs, are clever is simple. They hunt, in packs, using various strategies including herding; and they live in hierarchies of ‘top dogs’, alphas, and various layers of underlings. All in all, it’s a complex business being a canine, and only a top-notch brain is going to succeed.

The cleverest domestic dogs, then, tend to be the ones that retain an element of ancestral wolf instincts. That instinct comes in two forms – the herders (including all the sheepdogs), and the out-and-out hunters.

What Makes a Clever Dog?

Being human, we tend to judge other animals on our terms. Therefore, dogs that respond well to human training and learn to be obedient are the ones we think of as super-smart. What this means is that those dogs that have been bred to rely on us, listen to us, and interact with us, seem to us more human in their responses. More independent breeds, or ones that will still run after a rabbit years after you first told them not to run away may be judged more harshly (step forward all Beagles and Foxhounds!)

Also, when it comes to brain power, it appears that size really does count. The large breeds are the ones with the greatest grey matter (with the exception of that diminutive genius the Papillon). This, again, is all down to breeding.

Many small dogs have genes associated with dwarfism (e.g. Pekingese, Shitzu, and Pug), and these tend to have small brains to match. Most of the other small dog breeds are terriers (such as Jack Russell or Scottie). These have been bred ‘down’ from larger versions – they are miniature large dogs, if you like. Like the rest of the dog, their brains are more miniature than small, if you see the subtle difference.

Bearing in mind all these considerations and complications, the breeds in the following list are widely agreed to be the top 10 Canine Einsteins.

Best in Breed, Brainwise

The dogs in this list, when properly trained and socialised, can take on board a new command after hearing it for just the fifth time (and we’re not sure there are many young kids who can do that!). In general, these dogs will obey at least 95 percent of the commands given to them.

The word you’re looking for here is “Wow!”

The list is in no particular order, but the first three breeds mentioned are often credited with being the best of the bunch, when woof comes to shove.

  1. German Shepherd
  2. Border Collie
  3. Poodle
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Labrador Retriever
  7. Papillon
  8. Rottweiler
  9. Shetland Sheepdog
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

Almost all the herding breeds are nudging the top ten. The Belgian Tervurens, Bernese Mountain Dog and – perhaps surprisingly, given its size – the Pembroke Welsh Corgi deserve special mention. Away from the herding breeds, the Bloodhound and the Alaskan Husky have amazing brains too.

And it’s not all about purebreds. Your Labradoodle or Cockapoo could well be every bit as bright as the dogs in our top 10 list. A mixed breed dog whose ancestry isn’t obvious from appearance may also be a bit of a doggy genius.

As we said earlier, dogs are all clever. Full stop.

Which Wolf?

Returning to the smart brains of those ancestral wolves mentioned earlier, science recently stumbled upon an intriguing fact. Genetic analysis of domestic dogs and Eurasian and American wolves came up with some dog genes that are not present in the modern wolf. This has led biologists to conclude that man’s best friend is so old that it was actually developed from a now-extinct wolf species. Perhaps something like the Dire wolves (of Game of Thrones fame).

So take another look at your incredibly clever pet dogs. There’s a lot more to them than meets the eye!

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This entry was posted in Dogs on March 4th, 2020 by linnearask


Feather Pecking – why it happens and how to avoid it

Chickens have a well-defined hierarchy. Every hen knows who’s boss. This, indeed, is where the phrase ‘pecking order’ comes from.

In everyday chicken life, the occasional peck and minor tussle is perfectly normal. But when the pecking gets out of hand, you will soon have semi-plucked chickens looking thoroughly miserable on their perches.

Bullying will always break out when new birds are introduced to a flock. This is all part of sorting out the new pecking order, everything will be calm and back to normal in a few days, usually.

Hens may peck themselves, too, with the same result – feather loss. However, you’ll be pleased to hear that in both cases – self-plucking and plucking others – the problem can be addressed and solved quite easily.

Overcrowding in the Chicken Shed

Whenever there is insufficient space, hens will begin pecking each other. The only time they’re content with cramped conditions is when they’re settling down side by side for a cosy night’s sleep. Overcrowding causes stress, and stress leads to violence. It begins with the pecking and general bullying of any chicken that sits lower down in the henhouse pecking order.

Providing more space is always the answer here. The minimum space required per chicken depends on the size of the breed; but it is always best to give the birds as much room as possible. As a general rule of thumb, you will need 2 to 3 square feet (0.18 to 0.28 square metres) per chicken in the coop, and 8 to 10 square feet (0.74 to 0.93 square metres) per chicken in a run. This is the bare minimum, though. If you own an Eglu Go that accommodates up to four hens, six is clearly too many. Two, however, is absolutely fine.

An overheated chicken shed may also cause pecking and plucking, as the high temperatures make the birds’ skin itchy and uncomfortable. Too much light has the same effect; although this is a problem that only really afflicts birds kept in artificial light to boost egg production.

When Chickens See Red

A hen may become the victim of pecking if she is unwell. Sometimes the other chickens will turn on an ailing companion. She will usually find a quiet spot to hide, and you will be able to intervene before things get out of hand.

If a wound is involved, however, the other hens will literally see red. Blood acts as a magnet for the birds, and they will pursue and peck at the wound, plucking surrounding feathers and making the injury worse, with obvious dire consequences. Deaths are not uncommon in these circumstances, and if the wound is combined with overcrowded conditions, cannibalism can occur.

The injured chicken must be isolated from the rest of flock until her wound is healed and she’s in top shape again. If you have a Walk in run for your chickens, partitions is a great solution that will prevent the other chickens from bullying the injured hen.

You can assist the healing process by applying anti-peck and healing lotions and creams. There are many types available in the Omlet shop.

The Chicken and the Vampires

In 99% of cases, a hen who pecks and plucks herself has parasites. The culprits are usually mites, tiny vampires who leave the chicken’s skin scabby and itchy. Lice and fleas have the same effect. An infested hen will not only look untidy and threadbare, she will also have a drooping comb and will be listless.

One type of parasite, the depluming mite, eats away at the roots of the feathers, causing them to fall out without any intervention from the hen. All these chicken-nibbling nasties can be deterred using spray-on or rub-on medicines.

If your chickens’ diet is low in protein (which will never be the case if their food revolves around good chicken feed pellets), they will look for it elsewhere. Insects and other invertebrates are good sources of protein; but so, too, are feathers. If feather pecking afflicts your flock, diet is another thing to add to the checklist when getting to the bottom of the problem.

When Pluck Runs Out

If your hens lay brown eggs, evidence suggests that you may have more problems with pecking and plucking than someone whose birds lay white eggs. This sounds bizarre, and the science is not conclusive, but observational studies have come to this conclusion. It is, however, largely a problem among chickens kept in large numbers for commercial purposes, and not a consideration the average backyard hen owner should worry about it. It’s certainly intriguing, though…

In most cases of pecking and plucking, you will be able to solve the problem by simple intervention. Give the hens enough space, and keep the chicken-sucking creepy crawlies at bay, and in most cases the problem is solved.

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This entry was posted in Chickens on March 3rd, 2020 by linnearask