Monday, 26 June 2017

Hiding from thunder, drooling as the rain batters down

If you dread the sound of summer thunder storms, or come home early from work around Bonfire Night so your dog can toilet before it gets dark, you probably live with a noise sensitive dog.

Loud noises can be downright terrifying for some dogs, and it's an insidious problem as the fear spreads from gun shots or fireworks to include thunder, loud rain, slamming doors and more.

It was one of the biggest problems I had to work on with Finn (my first ever rescue collie). He went from being worried about fireworks to panicking over thunder, low flying jets and at one point refusing to toilet outside in the dark for over a month. You could say it was a steep learning curve!

There are no quick fixes for this kind of problem, and if there were I promise I would share them with you.

But there are some tested strategies that can really help your dog to cope better. That might include supplements or even medication, but simple preparation and training ahead of time can make a big difference too.

If you want to help your dog be less scared of loud noises, and release that knot of tension in your own stomach, come to our evening workshop on Wednesday 5th July at 7pm, Wigginton Old School Hall.

There are just 7 places left, and you'll get practical action tips plus a goodie bag, discount vouchers and refreshments!

Don't wait till November to try and fix the problem - get help now.

Morag and the collie girls

Noise Fears & Phobias - How to Help your Dog
Wednesday 5th July 7pm to 8.30pm (Wigginton)
Book your place now as we have limited spaces
Ring Vets4Pets York on 01904 658 201 to book and pay
Tickets cost £10 per family (max two people) includes refreshments + a goodie bag

Monday, 19 June 2017

Your dog wants you to work from home in hot weather

Working from home means you can keep doors and windows open, replenish the ice in water bowls, re-soak cooling coats and swop out cool mats.Oh, and maybe do some work too!

I’ve decamped downstairs to my dining table as the upstairs office is stifling. We’ll be having ice lollies (for me) and frozen chicken feet (for the collie girls) this lunchtime.

Don’t forget that dogs are smart, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still try to chase a ball in the hot sun! Instead use frozen kongs for their meals (cooling and challenging) and try out TD Scentwork in the cooler mornings or shady spots of your garden.

And although it might feel like a million years away on a sunny afternoon, it’s only four months until Bonfire Night.

Four months until the quiet evenings turn into a barrage of bangs, shrieks and screams from fireworks...

If you dread November just as much as your dog, don’t panic.

You can do a lot in four months to help your scaredy dog cope better with those terrifying noises.  

Come along to our evening talk and create your own action plan to start helping your dog right now.

Wednesday 5th July 7pm to 8.30pm (Wigginton)
Book your place now as we have limited spaces
Ring Vets4Pets York on 01904 658 201 to book and pay
Tickets cost £10 per family (max two people) includes refreshments + a goodie bag

Monday, 12 June 2017

When to stop talking (to your dog)

Watching a group of dog trainers and owners struggling to stop talking to their dogs in a full day workshop was the highlight of my weekend. It’s harder than you might think!

Clare and I travelled down to Worcestershire to teach “Living with and training a deaf dog” for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers activity weekend. Some people brought their own deaf dogs, but many were taking the challenge of training their hearing dog without using any spoken commands.

Once everyone chose and practiced a marker sign (the physical version of a clicker), we worked on attention, check-ins, tapping, targeting and then only Rally, Obedience and Agility skills.

What did they learn?

The delegates with hearing dogs could clearly see how much more focused and attentive their dogs were to silent training (apart from the laughter when it went wrong!).

Deaf dog owners came away really thinking hard about consistency with their signs – do they look the same if your dog is by your side versus standing in front? Timing is so important, but so is where you place your hand to make the marker sign.

A wee challenge for you

I want you to try training without talking, really no talking. Hand signals are fine and you probably use them a lot anyway. But no telling your dog to lie down, or to heel, or to give paw. See what happens – does your chatter make any difference? Does shutting up actually improve your dog’s concentration?

I’d love to know how you get on with the challenge.

Have a great week

Morag and the collie girls

PS the marker sign I most commonly teach gained the affectionate name of “spasming starfish”, just ask me to demonstrate next time I see you…

PPS If you want to sharpen up your training skills, I have just two places left on our Dog Training Fundamentals one-day workshop on Saturday 8th July


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Why canicross is more than just running with your dog

Canicross means running cross country (on trails) with your dog. 

Sounds straightforward enough, right? 

You could just grab some shoes (and a harness & leash) and head out the door with your hound. But just like with regular running, starting without preparation or wearing badly fitting kit can quickly lead to injuries and spoil your fun. Worse still, it can turn your dog off the idea altogether.

I’ve been canicrossing with my own dogs for over ten years now, and along the way I’ve qualified as a professional dog trainer, community running coach, remedial human & canine massage therapist and more. 

Here’s some of my top tips on what to think about BEFORE you dash onto the trails:

1. Assess your fitness levels, and those of your dog. What kind of condition are you both in right now? Do either of you need a health check? Remember that running at human speed, in a harness and at a constant pace can be much harder for our dogs than you might expect. Consider starting with a simple couch or pooch to 5k programme to avoid injury.

2. Get fitted for proper kit. Don’t look for cheapo options to get started with especially if your dog is a strong puller. You want a supportive waistbelt (or you risk lower back injury) that won’t ride up and put pressure on your kidneys. You’ll also want decent running shoes with good grip – essential for slowing down on steep descents! Take the time to visit a proper running shop for gait analysis and avoid early injury.

3. Choose the right harness. We spend a lot of time teaching our dogs not to pull – but now we want them to pull hard and consistently! Choosing a running harness that feels very different to any other equipment helps your dog learn the difference. There are so many different harness options around now, we might need to try a few styles to find the best fit – allows free shoulder movement, doesn’t slide around and no restriction on breathing or rib cage expansion.

4. Choose a quiet narrow trail to get started on if you can. The narrower paths help your dog get up front in a straight line rather than circling back to look at you in bemusement. If your dog is keen on rabbits or squirrels then take advantage of their interest in pulling ahead. Avoid hard surfaces and tarmac especially early on.

5. Do some short practice sessions with a trainer or helper who can run or bike ahead to encourage your dog up front. Odd though it sounds, lots of dogs need to learn it’s ok to pull up ahead so keeping a gentle tension through the bungee line and moderating your pace to suit your dog is essential.

We’re not just asking our dogs to run with us or near us, we’re asking them to learn a whole new set of skills and behaviours. So it makes sense to train these carefully, and not just concentrate on getting fit and running!

More technical skills to help you descend tricky slopes, accelerate up hills and take corners all come in later. Again this is as much about training you in good biomechanics and posture as it is about training your dog.

North Yorkshire folks - can’t wait for our autumn classes and want to book a kit fitting + intro lesson now?  You can share your session with up to one other person + dog!

Email Morag to book your session