Newsletter March 2018



Issue 1 – March 2018


In this issue:

Adolescent Dogs – no longer a puppy

To make you smile – Dog Pictures

Harness reviews for 2018

Reel it in – retractable leads


  1. Adolescent Dogs (starts approximately at 6 months of age)






This can be a challenging period in a young dog’s life just as it is in human teenagers.  The dogs body looks fully grown, but the brain is still developing & although hormones have a lot to do with this stage, it is not the only thing responsible for some of that quirky behaviour as even neutered dogs go through it, but it is perfectly normal.

Here are some important tips to help you through it:
a) Bonding – This is very important if you have an adolescent dog as without it the dog/human relationship can suffer. If you got your dog as a puppy, you have probably got a good bond already, but if you have just taken a rescue dog on in its adolescent stage it’s important to work at getting a good positive bond as soon as possible.

b) Chewing – Yes you heard me right, most people think they are over this stage when the dog was a puppy. The molar teeth erupt between 4-6 months of age, but the chewing can go on for 7-9 months and for some dogs it’s so enjoyable it can last for life. Now you need to look at the chew toys again, ones you gave as a puppy may now not be suitable at all, for example as a puppy a bully stick (Pizzle) may have taken him an hour to get through, but now it takes just ten minutes!

c) Energy – The adolescent dog seems to have boundless energy and the poor owner tries to cope but taking the dog on long walks in the hope of a quiet, peaceful evening, only to find the dog could do it all over again. Although physical exercise is important, it can make dogs more “wired” due to adrenaline & other hormones being activated, but an hour walk on lead just isn’t going to dent that energy, so perhaps look at things like games with toys, swimming, opportunity’s to explore new areas, but be careful to avoid any physical activity such as sudden stops/turns/jumps/bounces as your dog’s skeletal structure is still growing & taking shape, so you need to protect his joints until at least 12-18 months of age, depending on his breed and size.

You may have noticed when your dog was a puppy he/she never wandered too far away from you or would be hesitant when venturing too far from home, often slamming on the brakes and not  moving, which is quite normal in puppies.  But as adolescents they are driven more to explore their surroundings and new places (see training below)

d) Training – If, as a responsible pet owner you attended good, positive training classes you were probably & rightly very proud how quickly your puppy learnt sit, down, focus, come etc. But now your puppy has hit adolescents it all seems to have been lost (don’t worry it hasn’t) the training is all still in his rapidly developing brain, he/she is just having trouble concentrating on it at this stage. But it’s vital to keep practicing & rewarding, even if you have to go back a few stages in doing so, it will all come together again if you do so and remain patient.  Make training FUN and mix lots of play into your training to keep your dog focused.  Reward your dog generously when he makes good choices that you want/like.  Rewards don’t have to be just about food as treats, each dog is an individual just as we are and will prefer some rewards over others, such as a favourite toy game, lots of attention, sniffing, running together, all of these can be used as rewards.e) Socialising – You need to continue socializing your dog even at this stage in his/her life. In adolescents some dogs can suddenly become wary or fearful of things he/she never had an issue with before, this is normal, but you must handle them correctly with calm & patience. The dog can’t control its emotions well at this age, don’t push him to confront these fears as that can make it much worse.  Never scold him for being wary/fearful and maybe barking at that plastic bag blowing down the road or at that dog that last week he seemed friendly towards.  He/she may need time to process what scared him, he may want to turn away or go away from it and that’s fine also – with a gentle voice try to calm him and move on.

Keep carefully socializing your dog to different places, people, other dogs and other situations like riding in a car, on a bus, whilst making positive associations with these things i.e. car journey leads to a walk.

f) Impulse Control – This helps teach your dog how to control his/her emotions. Behaviours such as sit, down, stay, stand and even teaching tricks can help with this.

g) Mental Stimulation – Don’t do this until the dog gets bored and wanders off, build up time slowly and make sure it is not to frustrating to your dog. But mental stimulation will go a long way to tiring your dog out quickly, without tapping into those pesky hormones! Any positive training, playing games that involve him working his mind, such as “find a treat under a cup” once he gets good at this offer 3-4 cups with a treat under one.  Nina Ottoson does mentally stimulating toys if you search on the internet.

h) Resting – They need rest time also and that’s particularly important if you live in a busy household or have children, make sure he/she has a quiet place to go and rest and that the children are praised for leaving him alone if he is resting.


2.     Just to make you smile.



3.    Harness reviews 2018

With the ever growing proof that collars & head collars can cause physical damage in a dog that pulls, the harness seems a much kinder way of walking the dog, but which one to choose is a question I am often asked.  So here a few in review this year.

The Perfect Fit Harness


four paw rating




The “Perfect Fit” harness lives up to its name. Each of the three component pieces that make up the harness can be purchased in a different size, ensuring comfort to dogs of any dimensions.

This harness has two clips, one on the dogs back for attaching the lead but also one in the front. These products can be used with a leash that has clips at both ends; the handler can use pressure on the back attachment point to guide the dog when she’s not pulling, and control her pressure on the front attachment point if she begins to pull. There are many harnesses on the market that offer a front clip, but unless it is a good fit it can cause injury or discomfort.

Straps come in three different width fitting, with four sizing in each width.  Six colour choices for top (rest is black).  Five adjustment points.  Easy to put on and clips round rather than having to put over dogs head or put legs through, which many dogs dislike.  The front connection point sits lower than most other brands, making function better in controlling pulling & it also gaps less.

The Balance Harness


    four paw rating





Well-designed, well-made harness a lot. Made by Blue-9 Pet Products, it offers two nice, large rings as attachment points, one in the front and one on the back, and adjusts in six places – more than any of the other products we reviewed. Every single strap that connects one piece of hardware to another adjusts individually: the left and right sides of the neck, the left and right sides of the chest, as well as the straps that connect the “collar” of the harness to the “girth” (one on the back of the dog’s neck and one that goes between his front legs); this enables an owner to get the fit just right.

To put it on the dog, you put the “collar” section over the dog’s head (which some dogs dislike), pass the lower straps through the dog’s front legs, and snap them on both sides to the top strap (which is easy to identify and position, given its contrasting colour). It’s super easy.

Good-quality materials, simple design. Very minimal sideways shifting of chest ring when leash pressure is applied. Girth strap can be adjusted far enough back to be well clear of armpits to avoid chafing.

Front Range Harness

  three paw rating.




Like all of Ruffwear’s products, their Front Range Harness is very attractive and well made, with heavy-duty hardware and double

stitching throughout. It offers two leash-attachments points (front and back) and adjusts in four locations. It’s very easy to put on; just slip the collar section over the dog’s head, draw the straps between his front legs, and click the two long straps into the plastic buckles on eitherside. The XXS size option makes this the best harness for small dogs reviewed. The nylon straps are actually a bit thin, but because so much of the harness is well padded, this should not present a chafing issue. This was the best padded dog harness we reviewed.

We love the two places where a dog’s identifying information can be located: there is a pocket for the dog’s ID tag, and a write-on spot onthe inside of the chest piece.

The front ring is small, and looks like a possible weak point; it looks vulnerable to failing due to pressure from a strong-pulling dog.

No straps across the shoulders. Straps adjust easily. Nicely padded for comfort, including padded tabs that insulate the dog’s skin from the plastic buckles to reduce chafing.

Walk in sync harness



three paw rating.


Comes in six sizes from XS – L & four colour choices.  Five adjustment points, no straps across shoulders.  Sits further behind armpits, so less chance of rubbing.

Works well to control pulling with very little slipping.

Sure Fit Harness


  two paw rating.




Four sizes from XS – L.   Five colours & five adjustment points.

Works reasonably well to control pulling but the attachment point moved off centre easily, but moved back again when pulling ceased.

Walk your dog with love harness


  one paw rating






Seven sizes & eight colour choices.  Three adjustment points and one leash attachment point.

Works reasonably well to control pulling, but the worse sagging of all the harness.


4. Reel it in





Yes folks I’m talking about the dreaded retractable lead!  I think most dog trainers hate them, but a lot of pet dog owners think they are a great idea. I get how convenient it is to be able to walk along with your dog on leash and have your dog stop for a moment to smell something or take a quick pee, and you only have to slow your pace for a moment, rather than stop dead. When he’s through or he hits the end of the retractable line, he can trot to catch up, and you don’t have to scoop up all that line the way you would with a long leash, you can just allow the spring-loaded retractable thingy to wind it up.  But the many reasons dog trainers hate them are;

  1. They teach a dog to pull on a lead as to make the lead longer the dog needs to move forward, pulling, to get the line to extend, so therefore pulling is rewarded. Yes, a person can lock the handle and prevent the dog from pulling the line out of the device, preventing him from getting this reward. But then, you may as well just have a fixed-length leash.
  2. You see a loose dog that looks a little aggressive coming your way, fast & your dog is near the end of the lead so you can’t get it to you quickly enough.
  3. Someone walks quickly out of a storefront, in between you and your dog.
  4. Your dog suddenly sees a cat/squirrel/bird on other side of road and bolts into the road to chase it.

There are many other situations apart from these but they all mean the same thing “you dog is a couple of feet away from you and you cannot get control quickly”.  If you grab the end of the nylon lead you can end up with serious rope burns.

Ouch that’s going to hurt!




And to retract the slack when there is a chaotic situation brewing, like when that loose dog – or even one on leash! – is squaring off with your dog, and they are spinning around? Lock to prevent the dog from getting farther away, release to retract, lock, release, lock, release . . . it’s darned hard to do in calm circumstances.

Whilst I’m training a dog to recall or to have better control in a distracting environment I always use a longline of 25-30 feet in length, rot proof so it does not become heavy when it gets wet.  I only use this in safe places that I would normally let a dog off leash once trained, never a road or street.


Hope you have enjoyed this Newsletter & if you have any ideas of what you want featured please feel free to email me at


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