The countdown to Christmas – Keeping your dog safe & happy
With the countdown to Christmas beginning, it is important to consider our four-legged friends and how they may cope with the festivities. It is never too late to start preparing, so see how you can help keep them safe and happy below:
Dangers! Ensure toxic food or plants such as chocolate, mince pies, Xmas cake, onions, Poinsettia, grapes, alcohol, nuts, cooked bones, ivy & mistletoe are kept out of your dog’s reach.
Hazards – Additional decorations, gifts and festive goodies bring extra hazards. Keep electrical cables hidden, keep candles out of reach & blow out when unattended. Ensure dogs cannot chew or swallow wrapping paper, tape, bows & tinsel. Small gifts may make tempting chew toys, so be mindful of where your dog is during that frenzied present opening and beyond!
Remember, if it is in your dog’s reach, it is a potential danger.
Puppies, Christmas trees and decorations – If your tree is set up in an area that pup has free access to, then a top tip is to use a puppy pen and place this around the tree and presents when you are not able to supervise. Why make add more stress to an already stressful time. Make life easy for yourself!
Fancy dress – Some of us love to dress up for all occasions, however, ensure you check your dog is comfortable with wearing any outfits you add to their wardrobe. Some dogs wear their outfits with pride, whereas others may be happy to stick with their furry winter coat. Watch your dog closely for early stress signals such lip licking, yawning, whale eye, not wanting the item to be put on in the first place or maybe stillness or unusual behaviours when it is on.
Safe Space – Ensure dogs have a safe space to retreat to if things get too much. Use additional stair gates, room dividers or ‘dog only’ zones. Ensure visitors know not to touch your dog when he is in his safe space. If you have visiting children, remember never to leave children and dogs unattended regardless of how friendly your dog may be.
Supervise puppies at all times If you cannot keep an eye on him, then make sure he is safe & happy in a pen, crate or puppy proofed room.
Routine – Try to keep to your dog’s routine as best you can. This will mean they still get their physical and mental enrichment, to keep them happy and content throughout the excitement.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! Plan ahead – Have plenty of natural, long-lasting chews, stuffed Kongs & enrichment games ready to keep dogs entertained on Xmas day.
Start introducing a ‘settle’ or ‘on your mat’ cue now, to help pup practice before the big day.
Management – If you dog becomes over excited when guests arrive or leave, or maybe they are uncertain of new people, pop them in another room or behind a barrier while your guests enter. You can then reward for calmness and manage the greetings in a calmer manner.
Teaching you dogs door manners and to keep 4 paws on the floor, prior to the day, can also help to keep the greetings more manageable.
Travel – If you are having to travel to visit friends and family, then remember the journey may be a stressful event for your dog. Give them time to decompress when you arrive at your destination. Make sure you pack all you need for your dog including beds, treats, toys, medication, and enrichment activities. Remember, a new house, new decorations and low-down goodies may just be too tempting for your dog, so ensure you set them up to succeed.
Don’t forget to take your vets phone number or know where the nearest vet is if you are staying out of the area – Just in case!
Have Fun – Despite all the additional considerations, make sure you have fun with your dog. Make memories, take photos, and enjoy your time at home with them.
Jules Harrison 01.12.2022
Why Choose Online Puppy Classes and their benefits?
With the current Covid 19 pandemic, lockdowns and everything being put on hold, the last thing we want is for our puppies to be missing out on early training. During 2020, businesses have had to adapt, and many have had to move their training online. Dog trainers have had to postpone group training and although limited one to ones are still available, online training is a fantastic way to give puppies and their owners a way to continue learning.
Why choose online puppy courses and their benefits?
Older dogs may be better suited to postponing their training, but those early weeks and months are so important for puppies. Postponing their training could be the difference between a happy and contented adult dog and a dog who may struggle in later life.
You may have a few questions about online training and wonder if it is for you? To help you decide, I have answered a few of the most common questions below.
I don’t think online training is for me as I want my pup to socialise.
Although, group puppy classes can be good for socialising if done carefully, not all classes have this available, even during normal times. Socialising your pup, with other pups is important, but it is only a small side of your socialisation process. Choosing appropriately matched pups is vital to help them learn the skills they require.
You certainly want your pup to learn to be happy around other dogs. This is important; however, this can be done in your day-to-day walks. As you learn your puppy’s play style and which dog’s they are happy to mix with. The online course will talk you through how to manage these interactions and what to look for when your puppy is around other dogs. Therefore, the online course can still assist you with this side of the training and ensure you know what to look for when your pup is making new friends.
I don’t have very much space in my house to do the training
Most of the exercises that we do online need very little space. For exercises that require more space, such as recall and loose lead walking, you will be given training videos to assist you. These can be watched at your leisure and you can then practise in your own time, in a more suitable space. It is then a good idea to film yourself and your pup while practising. You can upload these to the safety of the private Facebook group where I can give you feedback on your training.
Can I ask questions in the session?
The sessions are run live, so you can ask questions as they arise. If you have any questions that require a more tailored answer, then these can be asked via email or at the end of the session.
What content is included in the online course?
During the course we will look at various exercises to help you and your puppy progress in those early weeks and months. We will look at ways to help pup with focus & impulse control, how to teach the basics such as sit and down. We will cover recall and lead walking exercises, but as above some of these will be given to you as training videos for you to practice in your own time. We will also cover socialising methods, not jumping up, door manners, teaching a puppy to settle along with additional exercises.
What extras are included with the course?
Not only do you get the six-weekly live, online training sessions where are you and your pup will work through the exercises. You will also receive access to the full six weeks of the Pawsitive Pups online training videos for the duration of the course. This will be accessed via a Dropbox link.
In addition, you have support via email for the course duration, you can join the private Facebook support group where you can ask questions and upload training videos as you go. I can then offer you feedback as you progress. This group will also be a place to make friends with other puppy owners who will be in the same situation as yourself. Finally, you will receive a certificate and rosette in the post on completion.
Are there any benefits from training at home?
Whenever we begin any form of training with a pup, it should be in a place of least distraction. This usually means at home in a quiet room or in your garden. Although outdoor group classes are fantastic, puppies can often become overwhelmed with the new environment and many struggle to concentrate. By starting at home, you can gain your pups full focus and therefore the exercises can begin straight away. When you are ready, you can take your practice out to work around increased distractions and build at your puppy’s pace. Therefore, online classes actually give you an advantage because you are beginning your training in a place where you and your puppy are happy and comfortable.
Are there any other advantages to online training?
- As much as working outdoors with the puppies is great. Training in the Winter weather can sometimes be miserable, so online training saves you and your puppy getting cold, muddy and wet!
- If you are shielding, are unwell or cannot drive, then you can still access the course
- The whole family can attend. There have been limits to the number of people attending face to face courses, so this is a huge bonus at present.
- Face-to-face courses are always fantastic, but online sessions are equally as good and, in some ways, more beneficial for the younger puppies.
How do the sessions work?
The sessions will consist of both practical and theoretical exercises. You will be shown an exercise and then given a short time to practice with pup. You can ask questions and I can advise you on any struggles, as I will be able to watch via the video link. There will also be parts where I talk through the theoretical side and you pup can chill.
Who can attend?
The whole family can attend and watch the sessions. This helps everyone to be consistent and teach pup with the same methods.
The move to online training has complimented dog training and has ensured that the pups who have been born during lockdown are not disadvantaged. Training cannot be put on hold and pups need to be given all the help they can in this difficult time.
I am blessed to have my own puppy here at home at present, so am having to ensure she too has the help and support she needs. I love the idea of taking her to outdoor classes but will not be postponing her training while I wait. This will carry on regardless, then once outdoor sessions can return, she will be much more prepared for them.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the online courses or would like any information on alternative one-to-one E sessions, then please message me via Facebook or email me at Jules@TalkToTheHound.net
Do not put your puppy training off while you wait for the end of restrictions. Your pup needs you now, so get started and help them be the best dog they can.
Jules Harrison – Jan 2021
Puppy Biting – Why is it happening?
Puppy biting is a perfectly normal behaviour, but while this is happening it can be a very challenging time for new owners. At the minute I’m talking first hand, as Tilly is very mouthy at certain times of the day. I have seen many clients with cuts and scratches and despite our best efforts to manage here, we too are not immune to these. I thought I’d give you a few pointers on what to look out for during this difficult time as it can feel like it goes on forever! Many things may be causing your puppy to bite and in order to help alleviate the problem, the whole picture needs looking at. If there is more going on behind the scenes, then this will need to be addressed in order to reduce the behaviour. We have learned now that Tilly becomes extremely mouthy when she is tired, when she needs the toilet or when she’s over aroused. Knowing this, means we are able to manage the situation and enable her to satisfy these needs, while we keep ourselves out of reach of the sharp end! Here are a few reasons why your pup may be biting:
Is your puppy getting enough sleep?
In those early weeks, puppies require between 15 to 20 hours of sleep per day. Often, in a busy household, especially during these times of lockdown, sleep may not be easy to achieve for our pups. If there are people around all day or the children are home, puppies may struggle to get that all important rest. Try to make time to settle your pup during the day, ensuring they have a quiet place where they can go to sleep. You may have to help your pup, because if they become over tired, they may struggle to settle and therefore giving them a place to rest with something to chew may help them to calm .
Does your dog need the toilet?
We have found that when Tilly needs the loo, she becomes overly mouthy and difficult to be around. Therefore, at toilet time, she’s given time out in the garden, which she is loves. (Often she chooses to sleep out there rather than the house!) She will then have a crazy moment of Zoomies, before she goes to the toilet. This may not happen with all pups, but it is certainly worth checking to see if your pup needs to eliminate if their biting is becoming more frantic. Be aware these zoomies can also happen after elimination.
Is your dog hungry?
Sometimes biting may be down to hunger. As pups grow they’re going to require varying amounts of food and it may just be that your dog needs a bit extra to eat. Check out how much your feeding them and see if you may need to increase their portions or add an extra meal. Depending on the food you are feeding, will depend on the speed it gets digested. Therefore fresh and raw food will go through the digestive tract quicker and pup may need more frequent meals.
Is your dog teething?
Puppies have to replace their 28 baby teeth, with 42 adult teeth. This means your pup will have a fair amount of teething pain during this time. Pups like to chew on various items and providing various textures for them to chew on, will help. This means they can choose what they like to help sooth any discomfort. Pups will usually have their adult teeth by the age of 6 – 7 months, however teething may peak at about 12 to 16 weeks. During these times, you should never punish your puppy for biting, instead you should use management in the form of crates, pens, gates, chew toys and redirection where you can. Punishment will do nothing other than ruin your bond with your pup and teach your pup that you are unpredictable. They need to be able to chew and as owners, we need to provide appropriate outlets for this.
Is you dog being over handled?
Often, puppies may bite when you try and pick them up, when you are trying to put their harness and lead on or maybe just when they are being stroked. If this is the case, initially ensure your pup is not in any discomfort or pain. Once this is ruled out, ensure that you work on some gentle handling techniques to help your pup be more comfortable in each situation.You can spend time rewarding pup for staying calm, while you do some gentle handling practice. Check that you or your family members are not over handling your pup or playing games with their hands. Often the smaller breeds get picked up too much. Whether to manoeuvre them from place to place, if you just want a cuddle or just because they are cute. Constant picking up removes the pups freedom of choice and often biting can occur as pup does not feel comfortable or may not be in the mood for affection.
Often not enough time is spent getting pups used to their harnesses before they go out for the first time. If pup bites when you put it on or runs away when it comes out, then it is time to build a new association with it. This can be done by gradually introducing it to pup and teaching them to love it. Also, check it is fitted correctly.
Is your pup over aroused?
Biting can also be caused by over arousal. Sometimes during play a pup can lose control and become over aroused. When this happens it is hard to deal with the mouthy behaviours. To help avoid this happening , keep play sessions short and avoid getting pup too excited.
Other things to consider
Is your dog in pain or discomfort?
Have you set boundaries for your pup?
As you can see there can be so many reasons why our pups could be biting and it is our job as owners, to work out why it is happening. By spending time finding out the cause, you are much more likely to reduce the biting and make this challenging period more bearable for all. If you are struggling with any issues then you can contact me to see how I can help.Checked out my Facebook page for more information on my services https://www.facebook.com/TalkToTheHound/
Jules Harrison 05.01.21