August Newsletter 2016

DOG BEHAVIOUR A QUICK FIX?

When I am called to solve a dog behaviour issue, such as dog aggression, separation anxiety, fear related issues etc., I am sometimes amazed by people that are looking for a “quick fix”.  In today’s world we are becoming expectant on “quick fixes” such as;

Got a headache – take a tablet

Need a fast diner – get ready prepared or takeaway

Got a dog problem – wave a magic wand!

We often get frustrated if we have to wait in a cue, stuck in a traffic jam, and can’t get our dog to come when called.

Many dog owners even go down the route or trying electric shock collars, spray or sound aversion collars and devices in the hope of curing a dog problem with little or no effort on their part.  Most of this fails miserably and causes extreme stress and often pain to the dog and leaves me wondering “are we the dogs best friend?”

Recently I met a client with a lovely small breed dog that was running up to all dogs are barking with its hackles up.  The owners worked full time so had employed a dog walker that walks 6-10 dogs at a time and this small dog had become anxious when some of the other dogs had become over boisterous and rolled it. It became clear during the appointment that the owner did not want to have to do anything, they really thought a trainer could come in and “flick a switch” to stop the behaviour ever happening again!  Now that leaves me wondering “Are we the most intelligent species on the planet?”

Our dogs are our responsibility, just as our children are.  We have to guide, encourage and reward them for them to become well-adjusted adults later in life.  If a problem surfaces we have to work at that for a positive outcome.  There are no “quick fixes” and if someone offers you such, the saying “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is (too good to be true).

 

Taking your dog on holiday?  The top ten beaches that dogs will love!

1.Sandymouth, Cornwall

Welcomes dogs year round. Easily accessible with good parking and facilities, this is a great spot for a long leisurely walk or a fun-filled day at the beach.

 

2.Perranporth, Cornwall

Dog-friendly all year round and offers 3 miles of golden sands. Dogs on holiday during July and August need to be kept on a lead between 10am and 5pm.

 

3.Westward Ho!, Devon

Doggy heaven, offering miles and miles of open sand to run on, shallow water to swim in and a fresh water tap to drink from at the end of a long walk. Even when restrictions are in place during the summer months, there is still a huge area of beach and grassland for dogs to enjoy known locally as ‘The Burrows’. Here ponies and sheep roam freely so doggy guests must be on their best behaviour or on a lead.

 

4.Babbacombe, Devon

Small sheltered shingle and sand beach, great for a quiet walk with your four-legged friend. There is a small car park near-by and slipway access to the beach. Dogs are welcome all year round and there is a cafe/pub within walking distance.

 

5.Berrow, Somerset

Part of a seven mile stretch of sand running from Burnham-on-Sea to Brean Down, Berrow Beach is one of Somerset’s most picturesque beaches. Its flat wide sands, backed by sand dunes, make it a very pleasant place for walking. Avoid the shoreline at low tide where a dangerous area of soft sand and mud is exposed.

 

6. Holkham Bay, Norfolk

Part of the Holkham Estate, this is one Norfolk’s most beautiful beaches. Here you could walk for absolutely miles along pristine golden sands with your pooch. At low tide, the sea pulls back revealing the untouched sands with the water, often almost half a mile away which makes a great short stroll if your pooch likes to paddle their paws.

 

7.Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire

One of the few all-year-round dog friendly beaches in Hampshire, Milford-on-Sea is popular with locals and visitors alike. Parking and toilet facilities are near-by as well as a cafe. The beach backs on to a nature reserve and the Land Fouling Act is enforced so carry your poop bags as always.

 

8. Lepe Country Park, Hampshire

Lepe Country Park in in Hampshire, offers acres of beach and woodland walks for you and your dog. There is no entrance fee to the park as you only pay for parking. Walk along the cliffs or beach for fantastic views towards the Isle of Wight and see the many boats sail across the horizon. Also on-site are a children’s play area and a cafe. Follow the signs to the dog friendly section of the beach during the summer season.

 

9. West Wittering, Sussex

West Wittering beach in Chichester, Sussex is an unusual type of beach – privately owned by a group of shareholders dedicated to preserving the environments and providing a clean and enjoyable place to relax. Between September and May, the entire beach is open to dogs but certain areas are restricted during the summer. With miles of sand and 20 acres of grass lawn, this is a great place to explore on two feet or four!

 

10. Climping, Sussex

Climping beach near Littlehampton in Sussex is a great place for a quiet stroll.

 

 

Mental Stimulation for your dog.

I often have owners come to dog training class having given their dog an extra-long walk to ware it out beforehand, then find its even more boisterous than ever!  This is due to the production of adrenaline and cortisol when out for a walk/run and heart rate/breathing/blood pressure are increased.

But giving mental stimulation, think of it as “chess not rugby” does not tap into adrenaline and tires a dog out just as much.  It also relieves boredom, especially in a dog that for physical reasons cannot be allowed to run around off lead.

Many mental stimulation games can be masterminded by you, but you can also buy toys and games for such.  Make sure you don’t get anything too hard for your dog so it does not become frustrated and start with only a few minutes, building time in as your dog gets good at the games – it should be enjoyable.

The Cup Game

Put a treat under a mug on the floor, allowing your dog to see you do this.  Encourage him to nose or paw the mug to get the treat.  Once he is good at this, have 2-3 mugs, put treat under one and shuffle them around, now he has to find it.
Hiding

You can use a treat/s or a favourite toy for this game.  Start by making it easy, have your dog stay/wait and hide the treat/s or toy, let him see you do this, then encourage him to find it. Reward your dog big-time for his success in finding the hidden treasure.

Once your dog understands the game, ramp up the difficulty. Hide the treat or toy in another room, or someplace where other scents mask the treat or toy, like the bottom of the laundry bin or under the food dish. You can also make the game really hard by using cardboard boxes. Set up 10-20 cardboard boxes of different sizes and, without your dog seeing, place the reward in only one box. Let your dog investigate all of them and provide the reward or a jackpot treat when he selects the correct box. There are so many variations on this game that it will have the two of you playing different versions for years to come.

Trick Training

Any trick trained positively (I like to use clicker training for this).  Roll over, shake a paw, fetch a named toy, walk backwards etc.

 

Some games involve you “shaping” a behaviour, the slightest new thing can earn a treat. For example, set a box next to your dog. Click and treat your dog for looking at the box, for touching it with a paw, for touching it with his nose, for stepping on it, for walking around it, for just about any vague interaction with the box. But don’t reward the same action twice. Your dog touching the box with his nose earns a reward once, but the second time earns nothing. Once your dog gets the grasp of the game, expand it to other behaviours like sit, down, crawl, spin, sit up, and so on. Pretty soon, your dog will be going through your entire repertoire of tricks and coming up with new ones just to earn that treat for creative thinking.

 

Games you can buy for mental stimulation are vast, but here are just a few:

 

Kong – This can be stuffed to give your dog something interesting to chew on, good idea when you have visitors and want your dog to settle.

 

Nina Ottoson toys – type her name into Google.

 

Dogit mind games

 

Hope you have enjoyed this newsletter and if you have any comments or ideas you would like featured please drop me a line to Gill@takingthelead.co.uk

 

 

 


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