Newsletter November 2016


Recall Training – Come when called.

I keep meaning to add this in a newsletter and on today’s walk with my own dog I witnessed some classic mistakes people make in this simple to train exercise!  So here is a few of them if you’re experiencing difficulties with your own dog;


  • The dog does not understand the recall command because it has not been taught properly.
  • The dogs “name” is not a command any more than your own name is.
  • When the dog has eventually come back or the owner has had to go and get it – they put it on the lead and stomp off home mistakenly thinking “that will teach him/her!” The dog will view the owner and recall command as a punisher now and it will not be much longer before the owner cannot let the dog off lead any more.
  • A “Dog Whistle” is not a magic wand, just because it’s called a dog whistle does not mean the dog will have any understanding of it unless it’s connected to something, you may just as well click your fingers and whistle Dixie.
  • The owner always recalls the dog when they want to put lead on and go home – dog is enjoying itself and learns to ignore to the recall as it has become a prelude to “fun finished and we are going home”.
  • Owner gets hostile as dog wont obey recall command and when it eventually does they verbally or physically reprimand it – so is it any wonder the dog does not want to return to such an owner.


There are many other reasons, but one of the biggest ones I witness, but which may be heard to hear for an owner is “you are not much fun on the walk”.  Your relationship with your dog maybe great at home, but on a walk it has learnt other things are more fun and exciting, such as chasing birds, squirrels, rabbits, playing with other dogs, sniffing about in the undergrowth etc.  Until you become more exciting and fun on walks with your dog, this will continue.  If you find this difficult perhaps enlist the help of your local dog trainer making sure they use reward based methods for training.




It is that time of the year again that can be so distressing to all animals, not just dogs.  Unfortunately it is not just one or two days, but several weeks now.  If your dog suffers with fear/anxiety to fireworks, depending on how badly they are affected, you really need to work with a positive behaviourist to desensitise and counter condition, but this has to be started months before the fireworks are due to start.


Using prescription medicine from vets, especially those used as tranquilliser so, it has been found, enhance the dogs hearing but render is unable to do anything!


But things that can help are:


  • Close curtains/blinds
  • Put TV or radio on, but not too loudly, just at normal level.
  • Comfort your dog if it needs/wants this
  • Some herbal products such as Serene-Um or Rescue Remedy can help but seek advice before using.
  • A Thunder Shirt helps some dogs
  • A DAP Diffuser from your vet
  • TTouch – this method is based on circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body, check to see if you have a qualified practitioner in your area.
  • Make sure your dog has toileted before it’s get dark and keep other animals in at such times.



DNA in Anti Dog Poo Campaign!

A DNA database is being launched in Spain in order to catch owners that allow their dogs to foul on the pavements and don’t pick up.  Owners have to the end of this year to take their dog to a vet so that a blood sample can be taken free of charge.

Those who fail to register their dog’s DNA will face fines of €300.


Police will take samples of dog excrement collected by street cleaners to a local lab for analysis.  An owner could face a €200 fine for failure to remove their dog’s mess from the pavement.  Be interested to hear if anyone thinks this may help deter owners in this country?



Use the Right Voice If You Want Your Dog to Listen

By Dr. Jennifer Coates

Have you ever wondered why particular dogs respond better to commands given by particular people? Part of the explanation might be related to how those commands are being given.


A new study performed at the Duke University Canine Cognition Centre shows that excitable dogs respond better to a calm demeanour and calm dogs respond better to an excited demeanour. The researchers compared a group of pet dogs to a group of assistance dogs in training who had been bred and taught to be calmer than average. The scientists confirmed the difference in the arousal level between the two groups by measuring the rate at which the dogs wagged their tails. The pet dogs “out-wagged the service dogs-to-be by almost 2 to 1.”


The study is quite simple and easy to replicate with your own dog at home if you’re interested in doing so. A researcher crouched behind a clear barrier and offered a treat to each dog. To get the treat, the dogs had to resist the impulse to try to go straight through the barrier and instead figure out that their only option was to go around it. Each dog was run through this experiment several times, sometimes hearing an excited voice and sometimes hearing a calm voice telling them to “come” and get the treat. The amount of time it took the dog to get the treat was measured each time.


For an absolutely hysterical look at the effect tone of voice can have, watch this video of Charlie Brown, a 2-year-old female cavalier King Charles spaniel. Poor Charlie. Her “aroused” brain just short-circuited when too much excitement came her way.


The paper’s authors say that something called the Yerkes-Dodson law is at work here. “The law posits that arousal level, a component of temperament, affects problem solving in an inverted U-shaped relationship: Optimal performance is reached at intermediate levels of arousal and impeded by high and low levels.”


In other words, when dogs are already excited, more excitement will make it harder for them to make a good decision. On the other hand, extremely calm dogs might just need a little emotional push to rouse them into caring one way or another.


These results don’t really tell people who have significant experience working with dogs anything they don’t already know, but it’s still helpful when science confirms what you thought was true. The next time you ask your dog to do something, take note of his or her personality and current mood and pick the appropriate tone of voice to maximize the chance that they’ll respond appropriately.





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