Richard Whately, 19th century Oxford academic and Bishop of Durham, taught his dogs to climb trees on the banks of the river Cherwell, and jump into the water from the branches.
Fortunately, there are much easier ways of getting your pet dog used to taking a dip. But the key word in the previous paragraph is ‘taught’. Dogs are not born swimmers – they need teaching to a certain extent, even though most of them can stay afloat and doggy-paddle their way back to shore if you throw them in. But this is certainly not a recommended way to introduce pooch to the pond!
Many of them need no persuasion at all, and jump into rivers, ponds and the sea at every opportunity. Others are less eager to take the plunge, and some breeds are simply not built for the doggy paddle.
Sorting the Water-Dogs from the Non-Swimmers
Dog breeds with no snout, such as the Boxer, English bulldog, French bulldog, Pekingese and Pug, have great difficulties keeping their noses above the water. Their squashed muzzles – ‘brachycephalic’ is the proper term – means they are simply not built for swimming. Similarly, breeds with large heads and muscular upper bodies such as American bulldogs and Staffordshire bull terriers are not able to swim well, or at all.
Dogs with short legs find it hard to get very far in the water, even though they are capable of holding their heads above the surface. This applies to such breeds as the Basset hound and Dachshund.
Taking the First Dip
For dogs that can swim in theory but are a bit nervous, or simply not yet used to taking a dip, there are a few tips and tricks that should turn them into water dogs in no time.
- Choose a location with water shallow enough for you to easily rescue the dog if it starts to panic. Somewhere with a slope is ideal – a lakeside, a gentle river, or a coastal pool. A paddling pool at home is where many dogs take their first swim.
- Try to choose a quiet location, to minimise distractions and enable the dog to concentrate on the swimming lesson.
- Keep the dog on a long lead during these early dips.
- Take a stick or toy to tempt your dog into the water. If you go in first, the dog will be more inclined to follow. Some will leap in at once, others need more time to get used to the idea. Never drag, throw or otherwise force a dog into water.
- Doggy lifejackets can be bought, if your pet is particularly nervous, or if you’re not sure whether he will be able to swim very well, based on his body shape.
- Once the dog is used to being in the water, wade further out (tricky in a paddling pool!) and encourage him to follow you. It’s all about building confidence.
- To help a nervous dog get used to having its feet off the bottom of the pool or river, hold him by the middle for reassurance. Paddling with the front paws will be instinctive, and you can encourage use of the back legs by raising the dog’s back end slightly. He will instinctively kick his hind legs to regain equilibrium.
- Once the dog is paddling at the front and kicking at the back, he’s cracked it. You can now let him test his new skill – but stay close and be prepared to hold him by the middle again, in case he tires or suddenly panics.
- It’s a good idea to take a towel to dry the dog once it’s emerged from the water. Smaller ones in particular can get cold very quickly. Be prepared for a gentle soaking as your wet pet shakes the water from its coat!
For many dogs, the so-called training process will be over in a couple of seconds. Many hounds swim as naturally as they woof – breeds such as Newfoundlands, Poodles, Otterhounds, the various Retrievers, Spaniels, Setters, and – surprise surprise – Portuguese and Spanish Water Dogs, for example.
And rest assured – you don’t need to teach them to climb trees as well!
This entry was posted in Dogs
When we got our Miniature Schnauzer, we had already had a catflap in the garden door for years. We soon realised that our little dog would easily also fit through the cat flap, and this would allow her to go in and out of the garden whenever she liked. We decided to pin it open to see if she would even use it at all, and it turned out to be a hit. It worked perfectly and in the summer it was nice to have a light steady breeze from the door. But we all know, summer must come to an end one day. And it did.
Winter came and with that freezing air blowing through the cat flap every day, all day. Unpinning the door meant having a sad little furry dog staring at it in disbelief “This used to be open all the time! Why is it locked now? And since when can the cat walk through walls?” The surprised look on our dogs face every time the cat appeared and vanished in the door was adorable and yet a little upsetting. How she wished to have the cats ability of passing through closed doors. And I wished that too. The comfort of going in and out whenever she wanted proved to make for a demanding dog, that needed help to open and close the door. Countless times a day.
Something had to change. As she didn’t understand how the door worked, we would have to show her and help her a little. I had used clicker training with other dogs before, and it was not only fun for me but also for the dog. Somehow we had never started training our newcomer with it, but now I dug out the clicker from the ominous corner drawer in the kitchen that hardly ever gets opened these days and made a plan.
Teaching my dog to use the cat flap!
My dog got the concept in a matter of hours and used the door by herself on the next day. Now she is young and very intelligent, but older dogs should also be able to learn this trick in no more than a few days.
Dog Clicker Training for flap doors – let’s get started.
Four essential things you need:
- A clicker
- Small dog treats or favourite toys
- A cat flap
- A dog (any dog will do…)
If you’ve never heard about clicker training, then I will try to quickly introduce you to it. In short, clicker training conditions the dog through positive reinforcement to repeat certain behaviours. There is no such thing as active punishment in this training – “punishment” is shown in a passive manner by ignoring the dog. Dogs thrive on attention, they mostly don’t mind if it’s positive or negative attention – they often might not even be able to tell them apart. As long as their favourite humans interacts with them, that’s great news. Nothing is worse for a dog than being ignored. This is very useful when it comes to training.
A click tells the dog “That’s exactly what I wanted you to do!”, then a treat follows. Click means treat – that is very important. Never click without it being followed by a treat – even if you click by accident. Click and treat go hand in hand. For most dogs, food treats work great, it is possible though to offer toys as a reward instead. Depending on the dog or the situation – I don’t take the clicker on walks for example, but I use the same method of “Do well and something good happens” to train my dog to, for example, stay sitting while I walk away. If she waits for my release command and comes running, we play with her toy. If she runs towards me without the command, we don’t play. That way she realises that, even though staying put might not be the most fun thing to do right now, but when that’s done, there are better things to come!
But let’s go back to the cat flap. If your dog already works with clickers, then great, skip this paragraph and read the next. For everyone who has never used a clicker with their dog, you will want to get your dog accustomed to the clicker, what it does, how it works and how he/she can actually “make it click” to get to that tasty treat.
I admit, I am very impatient and extremely lucky with my dog. I have done all this in fast forward mode, but generally it is best to take some time and be patient… Start with teaching your dog what the noise means. With your dog in the same room, click the Clicker. Your dog will most likely look up at the noise, but even if he doesn’t, make sure to click and immediately offer him a tasty, small treat.
Click again, give the treat.
Click again, give the treat. Repeat.
Click again – does your dog already look a little excited about the noise? Good, he is starting to realise that a treat follows the click every time he hears it.
This stage shouldn’t take long at all, and it’s soon time for the next step.
I thought about what skills the dog would need to open the door. To go through the door she would have to push it with her nose. So my next goal was to get her to touch the cat flap with her nose. The direct approach didn’t seem to be very successful, so I got a colourful Post-It note out of the cupboard. Maybe this isn’t necessary if you manage to make your dog touch the door with its nose. However, I wiggled the bright pink piece of paper in front of her nose and the first thing she does is give it a quick sniff. As soon as her nose touches the paper – CLICK! and treat.
Move a few steps away and show the paper, have the dog follow you, trying to touch the paper with its nose.
When the dog touches the paper reliably, you can now introduce a command such as “Touch” every time the dog does the action. Your dog will soon connect the motion of touching the paper with the word.
Keep this up until she touches the paper with her nose every time she sees the paper. Once this works well, phase three can begin – stick the Post-It on the flap door.
With the Post-It on the flap and the dog knowing the “touch” command, the next step was quite easy.
Ask your dog to touch the paper. Click when they do. Your dog might not push the door yet, so start to encourage him to touch it harder. Stop clicking if the nose only just touches it, instead click only when the dog put enough pressure on the door and the door slightly wiggles.
Does the door wiggle a little every time now? Great, then take away the click again until your dog starts to push the door harder.
This is a gradual process and encourages the dog to think about what you want it to do. When he figures it out himself, he learns a lot faster. Teach him gradually to not just make the door wiggle but to push so hard, that he has to stick his head through – at this point he will usually have realised that he can walk through as the door actually reveals what’s behind, and eventually you will be able to gradually change the slight door touching to actually walking through. Like magic!
My dog was finally able to make her way in and out of the house whenever she wanted – and we could finally take off the second layer of socks.
This entry was posted in Dogs
Wedding season is in full swing, and many couples are choosing to include their treasured four legged friends in their nuptials, giving their dogs a prominent role to play in their big day!
If you are planning your wedding and want to include your pooch in the celebrations there are a few important things that you should consider…
1 – Check your wedding venue is pet friendly
Some wedding venues do not allow animals, so remember to check that they will be allowed into your venue if you plan to include them in your ceremony.
2 – Decide what role will they play
Will they have a role in the ceremony? Perhaps they’ll be pup of honor and walk the bride down the isle? They could be flower dog or even ring bearer (if your dog can be trusted not to run off with the rings!), or perhaps they will just turn up for a few pictures after the ceremony?
3 What will they wear?
Most weddings include a colour theme so your may wish to dress your dog in a collar to match the bridesmaids, or a bow tie to match the groom!
4 – Agree how long they will stay at the wedding
Would you like your pooch to stay for the whole day and evening or perhaps arrange for a dog sitter or friend to take your dog home before the evening celebrations commence? All of the excitement, food, music and noise may be too much.
5 – Consider incorporating your pet into your cake design or wedding favours
Wedding cakes come in all shapes and sizes, so you could ask the person that makes your cake to incorporate your beloved pet into the design.
6 – Pick your flowers carefully
Some flowers are toxic to dogs, so be careful which flowers you choose for your bouquet if your dog is joining you on your special day. Daisies, Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodil’s and Lilys are extremely poisonous to dogs.
7 – And finally – don’t forget to include them in some of the photos!
Remember to pack a few treats in your bridal handbag or the grooms pocket to help encourage your dog to pose for a few photos to create memories that you can look back on for years to come!
This entry was posted in Dogs
Did last Friday’s Bring Your Dog To Work Day not quite go to plan? Did your dog show you up in front of your colleagues? Maybe your dog was an angel and ticked everything off your to do list?
Get your dog office-ready in time for next year with Omlet’s Head of Pups’ top tips for dealing with the 9-5…
Who let the dogs out?
If Friday was your dog’s first day at the office it would likely have been incredibly overwhelming and therefore, would have influenced their behaviour and potentially made them act strangely. Try introducing your dog to the office and colleagues again but in short bursts, slowly building up to one whole day in the office. This will help your dog become familiar with all the faces, sights and smells and they will be better equipped to handle whatever is thrown at them.
Maybe your dog’s day at the office highlighted some gaps in their training or social skills, take the time to focus on these areas.
If you missed our preparation post for Bring Your Dog To Work Day you may not have thought to bring this and that with you on the day. Write a checklist of things you wish you had taken with you so you are ready for your dog’s next trip to the office!
Was your dog missing a secure space to hide when it all got too much? If your dog has been previously crate trained, taking a portable travel crate to the office with you and placing a blanket over the top will create a quiet, dark space for them to rest when the bright lights of the office are too distracting for a nap.
Bring Your Dog To Work Day
Omlet is a proud sponsor of Bring Your Dog to Work Day, an annual event that raises money for charities dedicated to making a difference to the welfare of dogs. Visit their website to read more and make a donation!
This entry was posted in Dogs
Try out these delicious homemade frozen treats that dogs will go crazy for! These are super quick and easy to make, and kids will love getting involved with different fruity creations…
You will need…
An ice cube tray – (moulds to make larger ice cubes are available on Amazon)
500g Greek Yogurt
200ml of water
A selection of dog-safe fruits, such as apples, bananas, blueberries, mango, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.
We used an ice cube tray which makes large 2 inch square ice cubes. This quantity made approximately 8 at this size ice cube.
Prepare the fruit and cut up into smaller bite size pieces.
Depending on the size of ice cube tray, fill the molds up to a third high with yogurt, followed by a small splash of water. Pop a few small pieces of fruit into the moulds, before continuing to fill the molds with yogurt, splashes of water up and pieces of fruit up to the top.
Pop in the freezer for at least 4 hours depending on the size of the ice cube moulds.
Allow the treats to thaw for 5-10 minutes before feeding to your dog.
Other Frozen Treats…
If your fruit bowl contents are on their way out and unlikely to be eaten by the humans in the house, you can also freeze cut up pieces of the fruit, like apples and bananas, to give to your four-legged friends directly.
Remember to give your dog treats in moderation, alongside a healthy diet. Supervise your dog when eating these frozen treats and remove at any sign of distress. These frozen fruit cubes should be given to your dog as a treat, with other solutions in place to keep your dog cool, such as access to shade in the garden and the coolest room in the house, fresh water, walks at the coolest time of day etc. Consult your vet if your dog is showing signs of distress or potential heatstroke.
This entry was posted in Dogs
Did you know that dogs in the office has been shown to boost morale, and employees who come into contact with dogs at work have higher job satisfaction than the country average? Having a pet in the workplace can also reduce stress levels, and stroking a dog can lower both your heart rate and your blood pressure!
This Friday, 21st June, is Bring Your Dog to Work Day, and a few of us might consider bringing our dogs to the office for the first time. If you’ve got the go ahead from your manager, read our list of things to think about to make sure the pup’s introduction to the workplace goes smoothly.
Consider if your dog can handle it
Not all dogs are suited for a day in the office, and to make sure you both enjoy it, you will need to consider if your dog will be able to stay calm and quiet all day. Do you think he or she will actually enjoy the experience, or are they better off at home? If there are other dogs in the office you will also need to take these into consideration.
Make sure your colleagues are okay with it
Even if you’re confident that your dog won’t cause any problems around the office you might have colleagues who are afraid of or allergic to dogs, and bringing in your pooch unannounced might not go down well. If people seem hesitant, let them know that you will make sure to keep the dog by your desk at all times, and that they won’t have to interact with the dog if they don’t want to.
Choose a good day
If it’s the first time your bring your dog, make sure it’s on a day when you haven’t got lots of meetings or when you are too busy to have a proper lunch break to take the dog for a walk. The pup will probably feel most comfortable if you’re around most of the time, and the office is relatively calm and quiet.
Make sure you have time for breaks and walks
Your dog will do much better if he or she gets a good walk at lunch time and a few shorter breaks during the day to stretch their legs and have a pee. This will benefit you as well, as taking a break and getting some fresh air will improve both your mood and your productivity.
Have a plan B
You know your dog, but a new environment might bring out sides you were not expecting. Barking, or other ways of marking their territory, can be really annoying and distracting, so make sure you have a getaway plan. Also keep an eye out for any sign of stress, like panting and licking lips. Are you able to take your dog home if needed? Or has the office got a meeting room that the two of you can retreat to if the pup is causing problems?
Bring everything your dog will need
Make sure to pack a comfy bed for your dog that he or she will feel comfortable in and that smells of home, and place it somewhere quiet and close to you. If you’re planning to bring your dog in regularly, you might want to buy a separate bed for the office. Bring water and food bowls, and treats. Puzzle toys like Kongs are perfect for keeping your dog occupied while you make a phone call or when you really need to focus on work.
Take full responsibility
You definitely don’t want the dog to be a reason your colleagues start to get annoyed with you, so make sure that you never leave someone to take care of your dog unless they have clearly said that they are happy to do it. Never assume that someone will want to take the dog out for a toilet break, or watch him or her when you pop out for a meeting.
Omlet is a proud sponsor of Bring Your Dog to Work Day, an annual event that raises money for charities dedicated to making a difference to the welfare of dogs. Visit their website to read more and to get involved with all the fun!
This entry was posted in Dogs
Everything you need to do before the big day to guarantee your pawty is a success!
- Send invites to all your dog’s favourite pups and people
- Buy and set up decorations, e.g. number balloons, animal balloons, bunting, dog-friendly party hats.
- Bake a delicious pupcake
- Buy and bake other party treats for both human and canine guests
- Prepare your party games
- Set up a playlist
- Fill a few bowls of water, and have poo bags on hand
Of course the birthday boy or girl deserves a birthday treat. This grain free peanut butter pupcake contains only 4 ingredients, but will no doubt impress both two and four legged friends!
3 tablespoons peanut butter (make sure it’s sugar and salt free and contains no xylitol)
1/2 apple, grated or finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl
- Grease a muffin tin or a ramekin and pour in the batter
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes
- Let cool in the container for a few minutes, then remove. Let the pupcake cool completely before serving to your dog.
Decorate with your dog’s favorite treats. How about some greek yoghurt? Maybe some more peanut butter? Finish off with an apple slice or sprinkle some dog treats on top.
Recipe from http://www.spoonfulofsugarfree.com/2012/05/01/grain-free-peanut-butter-apple-doggy-cake/
EASY DOG BISCUITS
Impress your guests with another delicious homemade treat, that won’t take you all day to make!
3 cups of all purpose flour
⅓ cup of water
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and form a stiff dough with your hands.
- Add more water if necessary to achieve dough-like texture
- Dust some flour on a clean surface, and roll out dough to a ¼ inch thick
- Cut out desired shapes (we used bone shaped cookie cutters) and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
- Place in oven for 15-20 minutes
Why not try adding some finely chopped apples, bananas or carrots to your biscuit dough before rolling and baking?
Recipe from: https://theblondcook.com/simple-dog-biscuits/
Even if running around and playing with friends will probably be enough to keep your pup happy you might want to plan a few games that both dogs and owners will enjoy, and that will hopefully keep four-legged party-goers out of mischief.
CATCH THE TREAT
If possible, make the dogs stand in a row with their owners a meter or so in front of them. The owners will throw 10 treats to their dogs, and the dog that catches the most wins.
For this one you will need a judge to decide who’s got the best party trick up their sleeve. Alternatively you can chose a few commands and see who will get the most right in a minute, or who will finish the commands first.
Place mats or similar markers in a circle, one less than the number of party pups. With the dogs on the lead, the owners walk around the mats while the music is playing. When the music stops, owners will need to bring their dog to a mat and make them sit nicely. The couple without a mat is out of the game. Remove one mat at a time until you have a winner!
This game is best played outside with plenty of space. Owners stand with their dogs and throw a toy on a given command. The first dog to return with the toy is the winner.
Cut a cross in old tennis balls and put a treat in the ball. Give the dog one ball each. The first one to work out how to get the treat out wins.
All the best hosts give their guests a little something to remind them of the fun that was had and thank them for coming! Take a look at our favourite party bag suggestions for canine guests…
- A little bag of your homemade dog biscuits
- A lovely soft toy
- Tennis balls
- A balloon
- A stylish doggy bow or bowtie
- A frisbee
- A bone
A party isn’t complete without the perfect playlist for your guests to enjoy. From the party favourite “Who let the dogs out” to anxiety-reducing melodies, take a look at our dog-lover’s Spotify playlist here:
This entry was posted in Dogs
Introducing a new puppy to your home is very exciting, but it is also important to remember that this can be quite a frightening experience for a young dog. Take a look at our top tips for setting in your new furry family member below…
1 – Take some time off work
When you have been informed of the day you can collect your puppy, it is wise to take at least a week off work to stay at home with your new four-legged friend, to settle them in to your home. If you work full time, you will also need to make suitable arrangements after this time for letting your dog out for toilet breaks and exercise during the day.
2 – Start in one room
To avoid overwhelming your puppy with new sights and smells, keep them in one room to begin with. This will preferably be a room with direct access to the garden for them to go outside for toilet breaks, and will also be the place where you intend to keep their bed, food and water bowls in the long term. Unsurprisingly, your puppy will be very excitable and full of energy, so take them outside to become familiar with their surroundings and have a run around!
3 – First interaction
The first few days with your puppy are crucial for establishing a strong and positive relationship with your pet. You should take the time to interact with your dog; playing, cuddling, stroking. Introduce them to a couple of toys and begin playing and rewarding any good behaviour with treats.
Your new puppy may also be a little weary of you to begin with. Be very gentle when you are handling him and slowly you will be able to develop their trust in you and become familiar with your touch, voice and scent.
4 – Feeding
To maintain as much consistency as possible while your puppy goes through a confusing change to their environment, it is wise to follow the same diet as the breeder was feeding to the litter. Find out as much information as possible before you go to collect your puppy, so you have time to research and purchase the appropriate food. Once your puppy is home follow the diet as closely as possible, and if transitioning to a different type of food, do so gradually to avoid upsetting their sensitive stomach.
5 – Playpen/crates
While excitably exploring their new space, your puppy may be able to injure themselves or damage items in your home, if left unsupervised. Obviously, you will be unable to monitor your puppy’s every move day and night, so it may be wise to consider a puppy playpen or dog crate to use for short period’s of time and at bedtime to keep them out of harm’s way when you cannot be with them. Dog crates are also a very useful training tool, and provide nervous puppies with a safe den they can call their own.
Add a bed, blankets and a couple of toys to your puppy’s crate to create a warm, cosy space. Puppy pads are also advisable for potential accidents inside, but make sure you are letting your puppy outside regularly to go to the toilet and stretch their legs.
Omlet Director, James, who recently adopted a Cavapoo puppy named Pip, said that getting a puppy “was like having another newborn child. It’s wonderful but you’re also nervous because you want her to settle in really well and be happy. In the first few days, she spent a lot of time curled up on my feet or on my lap. I slept downstairs for the first week to keep taking her outside to go to the loo while she was being puppy trained.”
This entry was posted in Dogs
One of the best things about being a dog owner is coming back home to be greeted by a happy (and pretty crazy) dog. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gone to the shops for 10 minutes or have been at work all day, your pup will act like you’ve been gone for days – jumping, dancing, licking and tail wagging. This is quite clearly a sign that your dog loves you and is happy that you have returned to them.
We know that yawning is contagious between humans, but did you know that studies show that dogs are more likely to yawn simultaneously with their owners than with someone they don’t know? It is suggested that this is a way for dogs to show empathy, and that yawning together with their owners is a sign of affection.
Does your dog wake you up with wet kisses in the morning, or does he or she lick your face when you’re playing together? This is one of the absolute strongest signs that the dog feels truly comfortable around you, as it’s a version of the grooming that they would have spent time doing with their parents and siblings in the pack.
You might think that your dog only wants to play when they bring you their favourite toy. Wanting to play is also a strong sign of love, but by giving you their beloved possessions they are showing that you’re the pack leader and that they’re fully dedicated to you.
Loving Your Scent
You might get a bit annoyed when your pup steals your underwear and runs around the house with them, but try to remember that this thievery is actually a strong sign of affection. It means that the dog wants to feel close to you even when you’re not right next to them. If you see your dog doing this you might want to leave an old T-shirt in their bed when you’re out of the house to make them feel safe.
If your dog looks you in the eye when you’re talking to or playing with them, they’re telling you that they love you. Eye contact releases the hormone oxytocin in the brain, which triggers feelings of comfort and affection and creates a stronger bond between you and your dog. An interesting fact is that dogs don’t use eye contact in the same way within their own species. In fact, prolonged eye contact between dogs can be a sign of aggression.
Relaxed Body Language
There are several ways your dog can use body language to show that they feel completely comfortable in your presence. A wagging tail is one of them, but you might also see relaxed facial features with a slightly open mouth and lolling tongue, blinking eyes, raised eyebrows and a tilting head, as well as rolling over for a belly rub.
In the wild dogs sleep huddled with their pack, and as you are your pet dogs pack, he or she might choose to snuggle up next to you for a nap. If they’re allowed to, dogs will sleep as close to their beloved humans as possible, both to feel protected and to protect the people they love the most. In a similar way you might also find that your dog stays close to you and sometimes leans against you when they are feeling stressed or intimidated.
This entry was posted in Dogs
For most pet dogs meal time isn’t very challenging time of the day. Typically owners only put the food bowl down and leave them to it. If this suits you and your dog that’s absolutely fine, but they would without a doubt not have been served food in this way in the wild. Instead they would have had to scavenge and hunt for their meals, keeping both mind and body active. If you feel like you would like to challenge your dog and enrich their daily routine, then making some changes to their meal times can be a good start.
Adding more mental stimulation to your dog’s life can have several benefits. It keeps them busy and tires them out in a similar way to a long walk. Many dog owners forget about challenging their dogs mentally, and when they encounter problems with boredom and linked behavioral issues like chewing, pacing, jumping and barking, they just presume they need to increase the physical exercise. This helps, but it doesn’t satisfy your dog’s hunger for mental stimulation.
Mentally stimulated dogs are not as hyperactive, and they tend to adapt more easily to stress. This is useful if you’ve got a very worried pup who shows aggression towards other dogs walking past the house, struggles with separation anxiety or gets stressed during thunderstorms or fireworks.
Brain games are therefore a brilliant way of tiring your dog out for the evening, or before you leave for work in the morning. By combining this with their normal feeding time, it won’t take much longer than normal, and your dog will love the extra challenge. Additionally you don’t have to worry about giving your dog too many treats as they are rewarded with food they would have eaten anyway.
So what are some fun ways of mentally stimulating your dog during meal times?
The aim is that it should take your dog 10-15 minutes to finish their food. Make sure you supervise your dog the first few times you’re trying a new way of feeding.
Our first tip is nose work. Using their nose comes naturally to dogs, and searching for their food will definitely add stimulation to their daily routine. Scatter the food in the garden so that your dog will have to sniff around to find it. You can also do this indoors, but it might be good to choose a room that’s easy to clean and where the pieces of food won’t get stuck under furniture. If you want to make it even more challenging you can hide little heaps of food under a bush, on a window sill or behind some flower pots. If your dog doesn’t get the game, start with something that smells a bit more than their normal dry food.
Our second suggestion is puzzles and food dispensing toys. The Classic Kong is the most well known food dispensing toy, but you can also find treat balls and complicated puzzles that provide your dog with a harder challenge before they are rewarded with food. The idea with most of these is that your dog will have to move the toy around the floor or press certain parts of the toy to make the food fall out. Dogs absolutely love this, and as they get rewarded again and again it can keep them entertained for hours.
If you don’t want to buy toys you can make some yourself. Try putting the food in a cereal box and taping it shut, in a toilet roll with folded sides, or in a plastic bottle with some holes cut out where the food can fall out. This can get a bit messy, and definitely noisy, but it’s worth it when you see your dog running around trying to get into the box, tail wagging with excitement.
You can also use mealtime as an opportunity to practice tricks and teach your dog new ones. Don’t ask your dog to do the same tricks every meal time, as it will just become a part of the routine, and not challenging or mentally stimulating. By using this time for training you are able to give your dog more than just the one treat at a time, as it’s the food he or she is supposed to eat anyway. This will form a stronger positive association, and your dog might learn faster.
Another thing you can do to change the daily routine is to change the texture of the food. If your dog normally gets wet food, try freezing it into little discs or cubes that they will love crunching on. If your dog gets dry food you can mush it up with a bit of yoghurt or water. It’s all about novelty and enriching your dog’s daily routine!
This entry was posted in Dogs
You’ve seen it on some TV programmes or driven past small-holdings and seen canines and chooks living in harmony. Maybe they are a working dog? Maybe they are a family dog? How do they do it? We have put together 7 expert tips to help you introduce your new dog to a flock of chickens.
Understand How Dogs and Animals Learn
Our canine companions, on the whole, are super intelligent and trainable, providing we know how they learn and what we need to do to train them. Introducing them to our chooks can be done and co-habiting harmony does exist. It’s through this small thing we call desensitization. Stay with us for a short Psych 101 and we promise it’ll be worth it.
Desensitization is a process where, through graded exposure, an emotional response is diminished and adapted to a specific stimulus.
Now, what the heck does that mean I hear you yell?
In short, you expose your dog to your chooks, from a distance. As he behaves how you expect him to, you gradually move him closer to the chooks. You eventually get to the stage, that through the gradual exposure, he’s not that interested in the chooks after all. His emotional response has diminished, and he has adapted which results in a calm response.
Start with your chooks in their coop or a fenced in area. Keep your dog on leash and feed him treats, providing he is ignoring the chooks. If he is paying too much attention to them, move to a greater distance. The aim is to find a distance where he is not having any emotional response towards them.
Grade the Exposure
Providing your dog is ignoring the chooks at a certain distance, you can move gradually closer to them. Say you start at 50 feet away, slowly reduce to 45 feet, 40 feet and so on. Continue to praise and reward him for ignoring them. Remember, you want his emotional response to diminish. Keep training sessions short, you don’t want to over tire your dog. Some dogs get hyper-aroused just by being over-tired.
The Big Moment!
You’ve finally made it to near the chicken coop or fence, providing he is still pretty chilled out in ignorance of the chooks, ask him to sit next to the fence or coop. Praise and reward. If he behaves how you expect him to, lengthen the leash, so he can move around the border of the coop or fence, he can sniff and explore. If he’s calm, the chooks may even come over to investigate. Stay calm. If he starts getting excited or lunges/barks at them, remove him to a safe distance where he will ignore them again. You may need to do this a few times. What he learns is that to be around the chooks, I must stay calm. If your chooks will stay in a coop or fenced area, this may be where you spend the time repeating the behaviour and praising and rewarding. You may sit with him with a chew or just work on some commands. Again, the aim is to encourage him to ignore the chooks.
If you plan on having free range chickens, and canine and chooks will be mingling daily, read on.
The Great Escape
When you feel confident that your dog has so far, happily ignored the chooks and not shown any aggression or heightened arousal towards them, you can let them out of their coop/area to roam freely. Keep your dog on his leash. Ask him to sit or lay down if this makes you feel more comfortable. As the chooks are roaming, providing your dog shows little interest, praise and reward him. Again, you may want to give him a chew or even a slow feeding puzzle game. He just needs to learn than he can co-exist with the chickens without interacting with them a great deal.
Patience Is A Virtue
You may have to spend a significant amount of time working through these steps, but done in the right way, it will be worth it. Whilst on leash you can walk him through the chooks, he may sniff, they may also show interest too. The only behaviour you don’t want to see is aggression, lunging or chasing. If this happens, go straight back to beginning and work on the gradual exposure again.
The most nerve-wracking part will likely be when you feel he is ready to be let off leash to mingle on his own. Again, take your time. You may pop the chickens back in the coop and let him explore off leash around a fence. You may prefer to put him on a long line (50ft) when in with the free-range chooks. This way, he feels like he has more freedom, but you still have control if it goes pear shaped. Be realistic though, some dogs just never quite make it to being able to mingle unsupervised with chooks, so watch the behaviour of your dog and make the call.
Chooks to dogs are super-interesting, like most things. The long and the short of it, successful introductions mean the chooks are no longer that interesting and your dog learns that to be around them he simply just needs to be calm. Arm yourself with some high value treats, chews and any other slow feeder puzzles; start from a distance and encourage the behaviour you want to see. Praise and reward when you do. Grade the exposure. Always stay calm and in control and don’t be afraid of going back to square one if things don’t go as you’d hoped. It may take time, but it will be worth it when you have canine and chooks living in harmony.
This post was written by John Wood at All Things Dogs.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Pancake Day is coming up on the 5th of March, and while you might be thinking about what fancy pancake toppings you are going to try this year, we are thinking about what our dogs will want. Priorities.
Don’t leave out your furry friend this Shrove Tuesday, treat them to this dog-friendly pancake recipe with all the trimmings. This is also a delicious, healthy option for humans, too!
All you need for the pancakes are –
- 2 eggs
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- Coconut oil spray for frying pan
Eggs are a great source of protein for dogs, and are full of vitamins which can benefit their diet. Bananas are also rich in vitamins and minerals, and they also help boost your dog’s immune system and skin health.
Mash up the bananas in a bowl or food processor. Add the eggs and mix. Thicken with flour until the mixture forms a batter-like texture. Spray the frying pan with Coconut Oil Spray on a medium temperature. Add a tablespoon of the mix into the frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side. Allow the pancakes to cool before giving to your dog.
Suggested toppings for your dog’s pancakes –
- More bananas!
- Greek yoghurt
- Peanut butter (check there is no xylitol in ingredients)
- Cottage cheese
- Small cubes of cheddar cheese
- Their own treats!
Flipping fantastic! Join the fun on Instagram and tag us in videos of your dog attempting to catch their pancake using the hashtag #FlippingFido.
Remember dogs should only have treats in moderation so consider the portion which is appropriate for the size of your dog to avoid overfeeding.
This entry was posted in Dogs