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Dogs are our link to paradise

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't (2)

Yes that is so true. Dogs do not carry "complicated" feelings of jealousy, spite or evil. Dogs do what works, and what is safe for them. They do not think of the world the same way we do, they just enjoy the moment, and do not carry grudges. So with a world view that is so uncomplicated, what can we do to make them even happier?

Dogs are a different species trying to live in our human world, so as their guardians we have the responsibility to teach them to live in this world safely. This starts the moment the little, cute, fluffy puppy enters our home. The first thing most new puppy parents teach for the new family member is to go toilet outside. Toilet training can be very easy, especially if the breeders have done the grown work. Sometimes there can be "obstacles", but with supervision and consistency you will succeed.

After toilet training comes the very important part, socialisation! This is the time when we introduce the puppy to the world and all the marvels of it. This can be quite scary, so it is immensely important to take these new experiences at your puppy's pace, make them positive, and not at any time force interaction. Socialisation needs to include people, animals, places, surfaces, sounds, smells and so on.

Socialisation is also about where you live and if you are going to live in that place for the rest of your dogs life. Why? Well, if you live in the countryside and are happy to stay there for the length of your dogs life, most likely there is no reason to get your dog used to heavy car traffic and the noise of it, traffic lights, big buses etc. Whereas if you do live in the city, it is very important for your dog to be able to cope calmly to all this. But in the city you do not encounter livestock as you would in the countryside. So for the country dog living side by side with all these wonderful cows, bulls, sheep, alpacas, chickens to name but a few, is more important than traffic.

Well what then? We have introduced the big wide world to our new puppy, and he seems quite happy with all the new experiences. Next it is good to teach your dog how to behave in this human world ours in a way we find acceptable. So teaching basic manners of what we expect the dog to do in any upcoming situation is essential. This could be sit and wait before crossing the road, walk nicely on the lead, come when called, be happy to be handled by vet staff, enjoy car rides, and be happy to settle when we need a bit of own time. When teaching behaviours to your dog, you will get what you put in. And please remember dogs are not robots, but living, sentient beings, so even if you have taught them well, mistakes can happen. But like humans, dogs learn throughout their lives. It can be a bit harder to learn the older we and our dogs get, but we are still learning.  Be patient, consistent, positive and make it fun for the both of you!

The more work you do with your dog with socialisation and basic manners, the bigger your dogs world will become! The dogs can come with you on holidays, enjoy walks in new wonderful areas, happily join you for a cup of coffee at a cafe and even a walk in a busy market place saying hello to a multitude of new people. A dog that is not socialised and have not been taught how to live in the human world, can be scared of the world. And as a result the world becomes very small: walk in the same area, smelling the same stuff and looking at the same scenery day in and day out. Being worried about the strange looking person walking towards them, about that strange sound, and that awful smell... Not much of a life... So remember, dogs are our link to paradise, but we are their link to the world!

Physical and mental exercise

Physical and Mental Exercise

enrichment 2Mum, I’m bored…                            

Dogs are a lot like children. If you don’t give them something fun to do, they will make their own fun—and often not in ways you approve of.

Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise, and you get a happier, healthier, better-behaved dog. Well-exercised dogs bark less, chew less, sleep more, and rest easier if left home alone. They are also much less likely to rummage through the trash or attack the couch cushions.

What about leash walks?
Leash walks are great brainteasers because of all the sensory information dogs get from them, but they don’t count as aerobic exercise. Your dog needs to run, swim, or do something else that gets his heart pumping for at least 30 minutes every day.

Workouts for the body.
Chasing a ball or Frisbee. Swimming. Playing tug. Active play with other dogs. Off-leash romps or hikes.

Workouts for the brain.enrichment 3
Work to eat. Biologically speaking, your dog is not supposed to have a bowl of kibble plunked down in front of him. He is a hunter by nature, meant to work for his keep. Mimic this by serving your dog’s food in a Kong or treat ball. Your dog will spend the first part of the day figuring out how to get at his food and the rest of it recovering from the mental effort. Perfect!

Toys galore. Toys are a great way to engage your dog’s brain. Dogs have distinctly individual toy preferences, depending on the day, time, and situation. Do some detective work and find out what truly tickles your dog.

The best toys have a purpose. They deliver food, present a challenge, squeak, or make themselves interesting in some other way. Some classics to consider: Rope toys, plush toys (with or without squeakers), Hide-A-Bee (Squirrel, Bird), tricky treat balls, soft rubber toys (vinyl), and hard rubber toys like Kongs and nylabones.

Once you have a good selection, develop a toy strategy. Designate a popular toy for use only during alone time, like when you need to leave your dog in his crate, confinement area, or a spare room. Then, rotate the other toys daily to keep the novelty factor high!


The Kong

The Kong

A Kong is a hard rubber, snowman-shaped toy with a small hole on top and a large one on the bottom. A stuffed Kong can keep your dog occupied when crated or when you have visitors. It can provide mental stimulation and provide an outlet for your dog’s energy. And this wonderful chew toy can go a long way toward alleviating mild separation issues and boredom—just give a stuffed Kong to your dog as you leave or hide it so he has to find it and then excavate. (Be sure to provide stuffed Kongs randomly, not only when you leave, so they won’t become associated only with your absence.)

KONG-Classic-KONG-Dog-Toy-SizesBe sure to purchase a Kong that is big enough to stuff. Tiny dogs get a small Kong, but most small dogs get a medium Kong, medium dogs, a large or XL, and large dogs, an XL. There is even a size above XL for very large dogs. Kongs can be stuffed with anything that is safe for your dog to eat. (Never feed chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, or spicy foods.) Just plug the small hole with a chewy treat or peanut butter, flip the Kong over, and stuff! The stuffing should be well-packed so that your dog must work for it, but not so tightly stuffed that your dog will give up. For inexperienced excavators, make it easy at first by packing loosely and leaving a cookie sticking out of the large hole.

To feed your dog’s meal in the Kong:dog-kong-toy-by-OakleyOriginals

1. Measure out your dog’s kibble.
2. Fill the small hole with peanut butter, cheese or a soft dog treat. Flip the Kong upside down.
3. Scoop a teaspoon of canned dog food into the large hole. Then, add a layer of your dog’s kibble.
4. Repeat step 3 until you reach the top, ending in a layer of canned food.
5. Pour leftover kibble in a dish and place the stuffed Kong on top.
(This is also helpful for dogs who eat their food too fast or eat theirs and then try to steal another dog’s food.)

Suggestions for frozen Kongs that last even longer… Kongsicles!

frozen kong• If you have a puppy, moisten his kibble with water, stuff it in the Kong, and freeze it overnight. He’ll have a fun, energy-expending breakfast the following morning.

• Try various combinations of canned food, gravy, noodles, rice and mashed potatoes mixed with kibble, and freeze.

• Put a dab of peanut butter in the small hole. Turn the Kong upside down in a cup. Fill full of water, chicken broth or fruit juice and freeze. (Liquid-only frozen Kongsicles recommended for outdoor use.)

If you’re in a rush, a fast and easy way to stuff a Kong is to fill it with dog cookies and hot dogs. Squeeze the large opening so it elongates, then stuff with hot dog bits and cookies. The cookies should be just big enough to fit through the elongated hole. If you wish, finish with a bit of peanut butter smeared around the inside of the opening.

So have fun and enjoy the Kong!!!


puppy close up
Socialisation is the developmental process whereby puppies familiarise themselves with their constantly changing surroundings. Socialisation is the process of positively introducing your puppy to places, people, animals, sounds, objects and obstacles. It is how they work out what is safe and good as opposed to what is dangerous and not-so-good.

Socialisation is also time sensitive. The older your puppy gets, the harder preventing behaviour problems becomes. Up until 3-4 months of age your puppy’s brain is very open and accepting of what he comes across – socialisation window. After that, your puppy is genetically preprogrammed to become wary of new things, making it harder to shape him into an easygoing, friendly adult dog. Anything you want your puppy to cheerfully accept as an adult—people of all kinds, animals, things, and situations—you must introduce him to often and in a positive manner early!

socialisation new

When it comes to socialisation there unfortunately is no “one formula fits all”… Socialisation must be tailored to your puppy. It’s critical that you go at your puppy’s pace when socialising him, and never force him to interact with something. Creating positive associations to new experiences is essential. While simple exposure does play a role, it is not enough. Make a habit of linking your puppy’s new experiences to food or play.


Empower your puppy by ALLOWING HIM TO CHOOSE what he does and does not want to interact with.

OK, so how to socialise your puppy?
• Think about the things your puppy will see every week as an adult: Visit those places, see those people, or experience those things now.

• Help your puppy form positive associations: Cheer and praise him when he encounters something new. Offer a treat/play whenever possible.

Step 1. If your puppy seems even a bit nervous, move a little distance away, give him treats, and then walk away—anything he is unsure about should be encountered in short bursts.

Step 2. As soon as your puppy seems more relaxed, try again. As he sees or hears the thing that scared him before, start your cheerful praise and break out the treats.

Step 3. If your puppy did not seem nervous with the new thing or acts curious about it after he has been treated, go back and let him investigate a little more. Again, praise and treat.

Under-socialised dogs are at much greater risk of developing all sorts of behavioural problems stemming from fear—aggression, agoraphobia, and reactivity towards certain people and animals, for example.

Teach your puppy that the world is safe and prevent behaviour problems in the future!


No longer wanted...

No longer wanted…

I recently read an article about one of UK’s oldest dogs – 23 year old Charlie. He was given up by his “original” family in 2010 when he was 16 years old. And the reason for this was “family was expecting a grandchild”… I am flabbergasted… After Charlie had been part of the family for 16 years, he is tossed aside without explanation. Can you imagine how he felt when he found himself in a rescue centre? He had no idea why he was suddenly in this unfamiliar and (most probably for him) scary place. And for older dogs the chances of getting a new home are very slim!

Thankfully Charlie was lucky and caught the eye of family Stuart, who gave him a new home with lovely siblings. With the new family doting on handsome Charlie, he has flourished and given them so far 7 wonderful years! You can read Charlie’s full story HERE.


Another very common situation is giving up the dog when you can no longer be bothered… An approximately 4 year old golden retriever cross who is very reactive to other dogs, and has also bitten a child. The family say they have done everything they can to try and help their dog, but the behaviour has not changed. They feel that the best thing is to “put the dog down” as rehoming a dog that has bitten a person would be irresponsible. How did this happen? What has happened that this dog ended up loosing her life?

Well… Let’s start from the beginning! The children had been wanting a puppy for a looooong time, and finally the parents gave in. They got a puppy from a friend, whose dog had an “accidental” litter, and this made the children so happy. YEY! But as the summer is over and the school is back on again, the kids start to loose interest in the puppy. The parents also work full time, so the now adolescent dog, is left free to roam while the family is at work / school.

So left on her own devices during the day, this golden retriever cross finds her own fun in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately she has a couple of not great experiences with other dogs, and quickly learns that when she barks and charges at dogs walking past with their owners, they will go away. Threat avoided and mission accomplished!

Outside this dogs house is also a green area where there is usually a few kids playing. huggingShe enjoys the human company, so has joined in a few times. Unfortunately not all kids have been kind to her, but grabbed her collar quite roughly and also pulled her tail and ears… She has done her best to politely communicate to the kids that she does not like it, but the kids have not understood her. Finally when a kid once more grabs her collar and pulls her, she tells him “NO” by nipping the kids hand. And it works, as the boy immediately lets go. “OK, so that is how I get them to stop when I don’t like something!” Pretty quickly after the incident, the dogs family is informed of what happened on the green. And once they learned about it, they give the dog a good wallop on the head. The poor dog has no idea why her family is screaming at her and what she did to deserve the hit on the head…

A year or so passes,  and a similar incident occurs. And once again, when the family finds out about it, the dog is punished. But even after the second incident, the dog is still left free to roam during the day…

Eventually a year later, I was contacted to get help. I offered some ideas of how to help the situation before I got to meet the dog as well as the family. I told them how I work and what my fee would be. I also explained that helping their dog would require work from the whole family. The family did not hire my services.

The next I heard is that this golden retriever cross has been put down. I was dumbfound and so unbelievably sad for this poor dog. And the saddest thing about this all is that the family now has a new puppy…

Please understand that dogs are living, loving, feeling beings and not property (no matter what the law says!!!). Treat your dog with loving kindness, compassion and respect as well as take the time to learn their language. Remember that including a dog in your family is a commitment for life – the dogs entire, natural life, no matter what!

dog choose

House Training Your Puppy


There are two main rules to toilet training success;
1. Prevent Accidents: Supervise your puppy in the house. Use a crate when you are not sure if your puppy is "empty".                                                                                                                

2. Reward your puppy for going outside: Praise at the right moment, i.e. the second he starts “going.” Reward with a treat after he is finished.

Sounds simple! So how to go about this? Keep on reading to find out.

So lets start with number one, preventing accidents. This is were long-term and short-term confinement comes into the picture.

Long -term confinement is a place for your puppy to stay when you can’t provide 100% supervision. In other words, when you are out, or busy around the house, and can’t keep your eyes on him the entire time. It prevents chewing accidents, toilet accidents, and teaches your puppy to be alone.

"Confinement? Surely that’s too strict?" Not at all. It is the best possible start for your puppy in your household. People often give a new puppy complete freedom right away. Then, when he has an accident on the carpet or chews on the legs of the coffee table, they confine him, and confinement becomes a punishment.

Instead, give your puppy a safe place from the beginning, and let him make a gradual and successful transition to his new home. He will be much happier and your furniture will be intact.

"When do I use it? And how would I set it up?" Use a long-term confinement area if you will be gone longer than your puppy can hold it. The ideal confinement area is easy to clean and easy to close off with a door or baby gate. It should be mostly free of furniture and non-puppy related objects. The best places for a confinement area are the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, or an empty spare room. Furnish with:

• A puppy pad or litter box
• Your puppy’s crate (with the door open)
• Water and food bowls
• A chew toy or Kong

So you have now  everything set up, and next step is getting your puppy used to his confinement area:

Step 1. Take your puppy out for a walk or bathroom break.

Step 2. Give him a chew bone or a stuffed Kong. Leave him alone in the confinement area while you go about your business in the house.

Step 3. After 5 minutes or before he finishes his chew, let him out but don’t make a big deal about it or make a fuss over him.

Repeat steps 1-3, gradually increasing the time you leave your puppy in his confinement area without leaving the house. Vary the length of your absences, from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and repeat them throughout the day.

Leave your puppy in his confinement area (or crate) at night. It is normal for him to try a little crying as a strategy to get out, so brace yourself for that. He has to get used to alone-time.

Step 4. Within the first day or two, start leaving the house for really short intervals like just stepping outside or taking out the trash. Gradually work up to longer absences, like running errands.

Next we get to short-term confinement and that means crating your puppy. A crate is a terrific training and management tool. It is useful for house-training, brief alone-time, settling, and any form of travel. Most importantly, a crate teaches your puppy to hold it when he has to go to the bathroom. A crate helps your puppy in many ways—and saves your carpets.

"Is using a crate cruel?" Absolutely not. A crate can be your puppy’s favourite place in the world. Think of it as his crib. Use treats, praise, and toys to make your puppy love his crate. Just remember never to use the crate for more than 3-4 hours at a time, except for bedtime.

General guidelines for crating puppies:

8-10 weeks up to 1 hour
11-12 weeks up to 2 hours
13-16 weeks up to 3 hours
Over 4 months up to 4 hours

As getting puppy used to the long-term confinement, getting your puppy used to the crate also goes in steps.crate-happy

Step 1. Begin crate training right away—preferably the first day your puppy is in your home.

Step 2. Throw small tasty treats into the crate one at a time. Praise your puppy when he goes in to get the treat.

Step 3. When your puppy is comfortable going into the crate, practice closing the door for 1-2 seconds, then treat him through the door. Let him back out. Repeat this step many times, gradually building to 10 seconds.

Step 4. Stuff a Kong with something very yummy or use a special bone that will take a lot of time to chew. Put the chewies in the crate. Shut the door. Move about the house normally. Let your puppy back out after 5 minutes or when he finishes his treat. Don’t make a fuss over him. Repeat this step several times, varying the length of your absences from 1 to 20 minutes.

Step 5. Next, leave your puppy in the crate with something delicious while you leave the house for short errands, like getting the mail or watering the garden. Gradually build your absences.

Now we get to the next part, how to house-train;
Step 1. Take your puppy outside on leash. Take him to the same place every time.

Step 2. When he goes, praise. Offer him a treat when he is finished.

Step 3. If you are in a puppy-safe place, let him off the leash for a little playtime.

If he doesn’t go within 5 minutes, put him in his crate for 10-20 minutes, then try again.

A house-training checklist
• Take your puppy to his toilet place first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, shortly after meals, naps, or play sessions, when he comes out of his crate, and generally every hour or so.
• Until your puppy is perfectly house-trained, always go outside with him so you can cheer and reward at the right moment.
• Supervise whenever your puppy is not crated, especially if he is full. If you must take your eyes off him, even for a minute, crate him or put him in his confinement area.
• If you see your puppy sniffing and circling in the house, take him out immediately.

"What about if my puppy has an accident?" Interrupt mistakes as they are happening. Don’t be too harsh or your puppy will be afraid to go in front of you. After interrupting your puppy, hustle him outside to the toilet area. Praise if he finishes there. Clean up the indoor mess with an enzymatic cleaner to remove protein residue that might attract him to the same place again.

toilet-puppyRemember: Never punish. If your puppy made the mistake one hour or five seconds ago, you are too late. Don’t rub his nose in his own mess or smack him, this will simply make him afraid of you, and he won’t understand why you do it. You must catch him in the act for the interruption to work, and again, you can’t do it too harshly or your puppy will be afraid to go in front of you.

Wishing you happy training with your puppy! 

Feel free to contact Make Your Dog Smile if you need help with any aspects of your puppy training !

Learning to love visits to the groomer

Learning to love visits to the groomer

grooming-6Grooming can be a stressful experience. Think about it from your puppy’s perspective: She will be left with a stranger for a good part of the day. That stranger will handle her a lot—holding her still, touching her all over. There will be new objects like scissors and nail clippers. Also a bath. And loud, potentially scary things like clippers and hair dryers. In short, unprepared, a puppy might find the grooming salon alarming. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you want your puppy to grow up loving every visit to her groomer—instead of stalling out and refusing to enter, and then shaking and shivering the rest of the day from the experience—you need to get her ready before her first appointment.

Handle your puppy, and get others to handle her, too.

Think about all the ways the groomer will need to handle your pup: holding her feet, ears, and tail, touching her all over, and restraining her. Do these things yourself on a regular basis. Teach your dog to love this kind of handling by noting any areas of discomfort (when she shies away, pulls her paw away, tries to leave) and pair them with treats

  • Get treats ready.
  • Touch the body part for a second, give a treat. Repeat.
  • Gradually increase the time and firmness of your touch, continuing to pair with treats.
  • Go at your pup’s pace, only increasing time and firmness when you can see your puppy is actively enjoying the game.

Introduce your puppy to the equipment.

Don’t let the first time your puppy sees nail clippers or hair clippers or hears the hair dryergrooming-7be at the groomer’s. Introduce her to these things gradually at home. For example:

  • Get treats ready, but keep them out of sight.
  • Show your dog your hair dryer, then give her a treat. Repeat several times.
  • Pull the dryer a good distance away—3 meters, say—turn it on and off quickly, toss her a treat. Repeat.
  • Gradually come closer with the dryer (or, better yet, let your puppy come closer to you), continuing to treat. Then give her a break from the dryer and stop the treats. When you turn the dryer back on, start treating again.
  • Gradually leave the dryer running longer, continuing to treat whenever it’s turned on.
  • When you finally blow a bit of air her way, go back to a single second, treat, and then slowly work up from there.

Make bath time fun.grooming-5

Of course, a big reason you are taking your puppy to a groomer is so you won’t have to bathe her yourself. But doing so a few times before the professional takes over can go a long way toward successful grooming trips for the length of your dog’s life.


  • Get out some treats. Really fabulous ones. Think leftovers from dinner last night—something truly special.
  • Put your puppy in the tub or sink. Give her a few treats and lift her back out. Do this enough times that she is visibly excited to be getting back in—eagerly looking out for those treats.
  • Turn the water on for a second, away from your dog. Give her a treat. Repeat many times. Eventually let the water run a little longer before you give a treat.
  • Spray your dog’s feet for a quick second and give her a treat. Repeat.
  • Slowly work your way to getting your puppy a little wetter, continuing to treat.

Before you take your puppy to the groomer it is also a good idea to visit them and that way find out about their practice. If you then are happy with the place and the groomer, ask if they offer introductory puppy grooms. This is a great help in getting your puppy to love grooming, and to grow up to be a dog that enjoys being pampered!


How dogs learn


Yes, your dog is always learning, whether you like it or not. But how do dogs actually learn in this human world of ours? The following is something shared on Make your Dog Smile’s Basic Manners Dog Training Class, and we hope it will help all of you to understand the world of dog learning! (Thank you also to dogtec!)

Dogs learn in two ways; by association (classical) i.e. emotional response and by consequence (operant) i.e. by doing.

Let’s look at learning by association from a human point of view:

We humans learn by association, too. For example, when we meet someone for the first time we come away with an association—either positive, negative, or neutral. If we really enjoyed our interaction with the person, we are likely to be really happy to see them again. If we found them to be difficult or argumentative and then we see them again, we might get that little pit of dread in our belly—we have formed a negative association with that person.

And how about the dogs then?

Dogs experience the world this way, too, only they rely on this learning far more than we do. They are constantly forming associations—safe, dangerous, neutral or good for me, bad for me, neutral. These associations inform the decisions dogs make and the reactions they have to various situations and stimuli.

Here is a dog comparison:

A common example of associative learning in dogs is their reaction to the site of a leash. Dogs love leashes! Pull out a leash and the average dog will jump of joy. This is because dogs have come to learn that leashes predict walks, and walks are fun so we love leashes. In other words, dogs associate leashes with fun walks.

The amazing thing is that we can manipulate dogs’ associations to things. For example, most dogs would find a chair to be of no consequence to them; they would form a neutral association to it. But we could teach a dog to LOVE this object.

We could place a screen between the dog and the object. Every time we lift the screen the dog gets treats until the screen goes back down. Pretty soon the dog figures out that the presence of the object is predicting the arrival of the treats and you have a dog that loves the chair.

We could also reverse this association; we could teach the dog to hate or fear the chair we mentioned earlier.So instead of giving treats every time we lift the screen from in front of the chair, we punish the dog by giving a leash jerk, shouting or in other way punishing the dog. What do you think is the association to the chair now? Yup, quite quickly the dog will learn to dislike / hate  and even fear the chair…

The implications of this are enormous. We have to recognise that what we do influences the associations the dog is making while in our presence. Here’s an important example: Say we are walking a dog and he has a reaction to seeing another dog that we don’t like. It could be just that he barks in excitement, for example, but we don’t like it. We shout, “No!” and give him a leash correction. This happens each time we see a dog. Pretty soon our dog’s reaction to other dogs is terrible—he barks and growls and lunges and snaps because we have built a negative association: dogs equal pain. We have taught the dog to dislike or fear other dogs. We actually have the potential to take a dog who either likes others or doesn’t yet know how he feels about them and make him fear aggressive, aggressive, or fearful around other dogs. This is the main drawback to using punishment —it has a lot of side effects due to learning by association or emotion. And not to forget that one of the negative associations is with the punisher, which can affect the bond between person and dog.

What might we do instead if a dog is having a reaction to another dog? Say that every time the dog we are walking sees another dog it starts growling and lunging? Our dog has a negative association with other dogs and we have to reverse it. Treats are a good way to do this. But what if our dog is so upset that he won’t take the treats? If we are  afraid of spiders and one is put right in front of our faces, or we are shut in a room with loads of spiders, it’s going to be hard for us to listen to any instructions to sit down and stop screaming. But if the spider is held 10 meters away, and only brought in for short periods of time, and maybe we are being distracted by some conversation or chocolate, things are going to go better for us; we’ll be able to hear when asked to take a seat and compose ourselves. We need to do the same things for dogs who are afraid of something
or upset by it—we need to desensitise using the Three D’s: distance, duration, and distraction. We move the dog farther away from the upsetting object, try to keep the situation brief, and distract with our cheerful voices and treats. Remember, we’re not rewarding the dog for his ugly display because he is too upset to control his behaviour. We are trying to affect his emotional state so that we can then ask for different behaviour.

And then there is the way that dogs learn by consequence. And to start of the human example:

We can tell a school-age child that we will take him out for an ice cream when we see him next week to celebrate his good report card. When he eats the ice cream, he will understand that he is being rewarded for grades he got a week ago, which he got because of work he did over the course of a period of months.

A dog could never understand this—it’s way beyond their ability to connect events over time like this. Dogs learn by consequence like we do, but for dogs the consequence has to be immediate; it must occur right on the heels of the action that caused it.

For example, say we lure a dog into a sit with our hand. Then we rummage around for the treat, trying to figure out where we put it. By the time we deliver the treat five seconds later, the impact is lost; the dog may not realise it got rewarded for sitting. In the five seconds between the sit and the treat, the dog sneezed, sniffed the ground, and looked left. All of a sudden there was a treat. As far as he’s concerned, he got it for looking left. We’ll eventually teach that dog to sit, but it’ll take a while. Or, we might end up with a dog who sits and looks left as a matter of course.

This is why we use a marker word “YES” (or clicker if you so wish) —this allows us to tell the dog the precise moment he won the treat. Once we’ve used the marker word we buy ourselves a few seconds to get the treat out of our pocket because the dog knows what it’s getting the treat for. The word YES is a reward marker—it marks the moment the reward was won. To teach the dog to know that the YES means a treat is coming we use learning by association—we pair the YES with treats. Every time the dog hears YES he gets a treat. Pretty soon the dog understands that YES means treat, that YES predicts a treat. So even when we’re working with learning by consequence associations are constantly being made.

There are two main concepts to take from these ideas:

• One, that dogs learn in two ways—by association/emotion and by consequence/doing.
• And two, that because of these two ways of learning, dogs see the world in two ways: What’s safe/good for me and what’s dangerous/bad, and what works and what doesn’t.

The safe/dangerous outlook on life comes from learning by association or emotional response. When a dog is punished for peeing on the carpet in front of us, they don’t learn inside/outside—they learn that it’s not safe to pee in front of us, but it is safe to pee when we’re not there.

The what works/ what doesn’t work outlook on life is from learning by consequence or by doing. A dog tries staring at the refrigerator. After a while he gives up and doesn’t bother trying again because staring at the fridge doesn’t seem to work; it never opens. Dogs also might try staring at their people at the dinner table. Every once in a while someone gives in and gives them a bite. Staring at people while they eat works, so dogs continue to do it.

The important point here is that dogs world is safe/dangerous and works/doesn’t work, NOT right/ wrong. Dogs do not have the capacity for those abstract thoughts. Dogs don’t do things we don’t like in order to get back at us or be stubborn or naughty. This is a myth. Dogs just do what’s safe and what works. That’s all. If a dog barks at us to throw the ball and we throw it, rest assured they’ll do that again. If we ignore the barking they’ll eventually give up and try something else. They’re not trying to be obnoxious, they’re just doing what works. If we ask a dog to sit and it doesn’t sit it’s not being stubborn, we just haven’t trained him well enough yet. So we have to be patient with them and be careful what we pay attention to and what we ignore, and the ways in which we do so.

Wishing all happy and joyful training!

Valentines Day with your dog

It is year 2016 and Valentines Day, so time to show your dog how much you love him! Here are two simple ways to make this day special:

1. Make an extra special breakfast
This is an easy and nutritious recipe for dogs of any ages!
Rice and egg omelette
You will need 1/2 mug brown rice 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cube chicken stock 1/2 mug green beans
1 clove garlic 1/2 mug peas
1 carrot 4 eggs

Place the rice and stock cube in a pan, cover with boiling water and simmer until cooked. Strain and put the rice on the side. Chop the garlic. Wash and finely chop the carrot. Heat oil in a deep-sided frying pan and add the garlic and carrot to the pan for several minutes, before adding the green beans and peas. Stir fry until cooked through. Add rice and heat through. Whisk eggs and add to the pan. Cook for 4 min, the carefully turn and cook on the other side. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before serving to your dog. (Recipe by Elaine Everest)

2. Have a TTouch moment with your dog
Here is a simple TTouch to help your dog relax and to release tension.
The Inchworm  
This is a slow, mindful TTouch that works equally well on dogs, horses, and humans alike! It is an amazing tool to help release tension and promote relaxation.  Remembering to breathe, pause, and use your positive intention will help you achieve some amazing results and connect with your dog. 
Here is also a link for "how to" by wonderful Robyn Hood

Enjoy Valentines Day!

Christmas puppy...

christmas puppyAAAAAWWWW..... What a sweet and adorable image, Christmas puppy! Who would not love one? Just think about all the joy and cuteness and mischief and fun and sweetness and playfulness and love that comes with the puppy. So YEY whatever could be better?Eddie_Crane

 When choosing a dog more often than not, dogs are chosen based on appearance—whichever breed or size or colour appeals to us. Or maybe you loved Eddie on the TV show Frasier and thought "Adorable! I would love a Jack Russell Terrier!"

But as with human relationships, outward attraction alone can be a poor predictor of long-term happiness. What’s a better criterion? Compatibility.

To get the right dog, first consider life-style. Do you run 5K every morning or enjoy the occasional Sunday stroll? Do you want a dog that can come along when you go camping? On holidays? Or maybe fishing? What level of training and mental exercise are you ready to provide your dog with? Is competitive agility something you are planning on or would you be happier with a couch buddy?

Next, consider personal preferences. Are you tolerant of barking or does it drive you crazy? Is shedding okay or a big no-no? Do you find exuberance charming or exhausting? And so on.

Compiling a shopping list (…short hair, medium-sized engine, good with cats…) may strike as too businesslike. But factoring in lifestyle and temperament compatibility drastically increases chances of having a happy, life-long relationship with your dog.

You are still sure you want a dog for Christmas and you have done the homework and found the perfect match. Well there are still some things to get done. Before bringing your dog home, set up a confinement area. This is a place for your dog to stay when you can’t provide 100% supervision. For example, when you are out or busy around the house and can’t keep your eyes on him the entire time. It prevents chewing accidents, toileting accidents, and teaches your dog to be alone.

‘Confinement’ may sound harsh, but having a confinement area is the best possible start for your dog in your household. People often give a new dog the run of the house right away. Then, when he has an accident on the carpet or chews on the table legs, they confine him, and confinement becomes a punishment.

Instead, give your dog a safe place from the beginning, and let him make a gradual and successful transition to his new home. He will be much happier and your furniture will remain intact.

Next are the must have supplies: Food; everyday meals, chews. Equipment; long and short leash, flat collar, head halter or harness for walking, ID tags. In-home management;  crate, Kong, treat ball. Toys; a variety - rope, plush toys, soft and hard rubber toys. Dog care tools; canine toothbrush & toothpaste, nail clippers, brush. 

It is also good to find out about different dog services around your area; is there a force free trainer who could help you with the training? What about dog walkers for the days that get so busy that time runs out? And also reputable boarding kennels or dog minders when your dog cannot come with you... 

A dog is a living, loving being that requires a commitment for the next 10 to 15 years. So it is all well and good to decide that for yourself and your family, but it is not a decision you should make for someone else. So please, please, please do not give a puppy or a dog as a Christmas present!

Xmas puppy

The above great poster by Mighty Dog Graphics!

Are you and your dog ready for Halloween?

Halloween is just a couple of days away, so soon the door bells will be ringing, trick or treaters showing up in strange looking costumes and in the background noisy fireworks... This time of human fun can be a very scary time for your dog, so please keep him safe.

If your dog is not used to "heavy traffic" at your door, you can already today start getting him desensitized to the door bell ringing or knocks at the door, to make it easier for him on the night. Even if your dog is well mannered and a great greeter it is safer to keep him away from the door during the time you have trick and treaters visiting. Halloween costumes are not everyday occurrence and the strange looks of these can scare your dog. And also take to account that not all these visitors are used to dogs and could also be equally scared. Also make sure that the candy you are giving to the trick or treaters is out of reach of your dog!

Fireworks are also connected to Halloween, and if your dog was worried about them last year, chances are he will be even more so this year. During the night (and even before if fireworks start early in your neighbourhood) close the curtains as soon as it gets dark to keep the lights out. A good idea is to cover the windows with blankets which dampens the sounds as well as the lights. Inside the house leave internal doors open not to trap your dog. Make a den where your dog can feel secure and go hiding when the going gets too tough. A crate, big cardboard box or a blanket over a table can make great safe places. Distracting the noise from outside by putting on the TV or playing calming music (check out Canine Lullabies and Trough a Dog's Ear) can have a good effect on nervous behaviour. 

A brilliant help for noise sensitivity in dogs is TTouch. What a lot of TTouch practitioners have noticed is that tension in the back end goes together with noise sensitivity. So doing gentle TTouches on these areas can help before - as well as - during the night. Thundershirts are also a great tool to use on the night. Thundershirt applies gentle pressure on the dogs body, making them feel more secure and therefore more calm when loud noises are around. To find out more about Thundershirts check out their website

Other things to try is for example Adaptil that can be helpful for reassuring dogs during new experiences and fearful situations. The special scent (odourless to people and other animals) that Adaptil utilises is a replication of the pheromone that mother dogs naturally emit to their puppies just after birth, to comfort them and reinforce the attachment between the mother and her offspring. These products come in forms of plug in diffuser, spray and collar. 

Halloween is also a time when a good few pets go missing, so make sure your dogs microchip is up to date. Don't leave your dog unattended in the garden (or anywhere else for that matter), as a sudden firework or strange looking trick or treater might scare them and as a result they could run away. So please keep your dog safely indoors during this time. A good idea is also to exercise your dog before it gets dark and fireworks as well as trick or treaters are around. This is especially important if you have a dog that is noise sensitive!

Wishing you and your dog a safe Halloween!


All about the poop...

Having a dog is great fun and brings so much pleasure, enjoyment and love into our lives. Dogs are companions and family members who love us even when we have had a bad day and feel grumpy. Their existence in our lives so easily brings a smile on our faces!

So, as  dog owners we get plenty of joy, but there are also responsibilities to this companionship. We need to love and care for our dogs and provide for their basic needs of food, water and shelter. We also need to help them to be able to live in our human world and this is easier when we train them. We are also responsible for our dogs actions in the world, so the more help we provide them with training, the better they cope.

pick upOf the responsibilities we as dog owners have, there is one that if not taken care of, will get the dogless peoples “hackles” up. And this is picking up the poop! After our dogs have done their business, it is our duty to pick it up. Every dog owner should carry poop bags whenever out and about with their dog. Picking up the poop is not a glamorous job, but needs to be done.

Due to irresponsible dog owners a lot of places have implemented fines, so if you get caught not cleaning up after your dog, you can be faced with a fine up to €3000. Other places are doing their best to help dog owners out and provide poop bags and plenty of bins in  areas that are popular exercising areas.  And still there are owners who seem incapable of picking up the poop!

no dogsIf we dog owners still continue to fail in picking up the poop, communities might conclude that the above mentioned measures are not working, and the next step could easily be that dogs will be “banned” from certain areas. So PLEASE be a responsible owner and PICK UP THE POOP!

Getting a dog?

Getting a dog?

Research by University College Dublin (UCD) from 2009 found that 36 percent of homes in Ireland have a dog. And now you want to join this special dog owning group? Maybe you have children who have been begging for a puppy for years, and you decided finally to give in. So what next?

Whoever said you can't buy happinessPUPPIES!!!! I want a puppy!!! OK, so a puppy it is. Have you researched what breed would suit you, your family and your life style best? Do not be seduced by the appearance of the dog alone, you need to consider what the dog was bred for. For example if you live in an apartment a lively border collie needing a good bit of exercise and mental stimulation might not be the way to go. Maybe a better choice would be one of the companion breeds like Cavalier King Charles  or Shih Tzu, who both are smaller in size and do not require the same amount of exercise as a border collie.

Breed of puppy decided it is time to find a reputable breeder. You can check with national kennel club and also local breed clubs to find a breeder. Once you find one, please visit them to find out what environment the puppies are brought up in. The new puppy will be a part of your family living in the house with you, so getting a puppy that has been brought up in a shed away from normal home sounds, smells and experiences, means you will have much more work to do in getting the new family member  used to and happy with the normal family life. It is also important to see the parents of your puppy,especially the mother. If the mother of the puppies is nervous / fearful / reactive, chances are that the puppy will have inherited at least some of the behaviour.

A good read to help you with things to get sorted before you get your fourlegged family member is Ian Dunbar’s book “BEFORE_You_Get_Your_Puppy

seniorsPuppies are great fun, but also need a lot of work. So if this is your first ever dog, have you considered getting an older dog? As a first dog, a mature dog can be so much easier, and still give you tons of enjoyment, fun and love.

Here are top ten reasons to adopt a senior dog (by Pets N More,


Older dogs do need to toilet more often than their younger colleagues do—but at least they know that they’re supposed to do their business only at certain times and places. By adopting a senior dog, you’re bypassing the tedium of house training.


The mature dog has probably lived for many years in one or more human homes, so he knows that he’s not supposed to get into your stuff. In other words, you need not fear coming home to find that your dog has trashed your home in a fit of boredom, loneliness, or panic.


Puppies—even purebred puppies—are a little bit of a mystery. A person can’t know for sure if that little dog butterball will grow up to be undersized, over sized, light in color, or darker in color. (Coat colors can vary widely even within a litter)

A dogs temperament is not always predictable either; the puppy who was a shy little darling may grow up to be Mr. Hell on Wheels, especially if he doesn’t have appropriate training.

A senior pet is exactly who he appears to be, which means that you don’t need to worry about unwelcome surprises.


Even if he hasn’t had all that much training, a senior isn’t likely to indulge in very many antics, if any. He’s too dignified to jump up on people, and counter-surfing may be too much of an effort for him.


Adolescent and young adult pets certainly love their people, but they have additional priorities. After all, there’s a whole world out there for them to explore! Consequently, if you let a younger dog off leash in an unprotected area, that dog may decide to take off on an exploratory expedition.

Youthful dogs are surprisingly speedy—they have no problem outrunning their humans.

However, the older pet not only doesn’t possess such speed, but he isn’t at all unhappy about it. He’s no longer beset with wanderlust; his idea of a good time is to hang out with you.


The counter-surfing, garbage-raiding, paper-shredding, sock-stealing  young adult or puppy is a total hoot—but boy, he’ll keep you busy dealing with such antics. The senior pet is way beyond such mischief; it’s beneath his dignity—and the more dignity he has, the more rest you get.


Although an older dog will tend to stick closer to you than a youngster will, that doesn’t mean that the oldster is a pest. As long as he knows where you are, he’ll be cool with whatever you’re doing. If, for example, you’re playing around on your computer, a senior will be perfectly happy just taking a snooze at your side.

Such discretion can be a welcome alternative to dealing with a puppy who relentlessly tries to get you to play, gets himself into trouble when you won’t play, or just can’t settle down while you update your Facebook or Twitter page.


Adolescent and young adult dogs don’t always appear to hear what you’re asking them to do. They may be guilty of a kind of selective deafness: They don’t seem to hear you tell them to get off the couch or to come when called, but they magically appear before you if they hear words like “cookie” or “treat.”

With seniors, such hijinks are a thing of the past. They’re happy to hang onto your every word and, if possible, do what you’ve asked. If a senior dog appears not to hear what you’re saying, the reason may be real deafness, not the selective kind.


Puppies and young adults are the cutest, most infectious beings to grace the planet, hands down. That said, their cuteness doesn’t always extend to being affectionate. Instead, they entertain us with their playful behavior and their unabashed joie de vivre.

They are too busy enjoying life in general to pay a whole lot of attention to you in particular (although spending time training and socializing a young pet can help change that). But a senior is different—especially if you’ve adopted him as a senior from a Shelter or Rescue Group. He knows how good his life is with you.

He’s grateful for cuddle time, an extra treat, and—most of all—extra attention. Many adopters of rescued or shelter pets strongly believe that their dogs know how fortunate they are and that they greatly appreciate the second chance at happiness that their adopters have given them.


Milan Kundera wrote “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.”

Crazy, active youngsters certainly contribute to the glory of an afternoon; there are few things more beautiful than seeing a dog run with the afternoon sun shining on his coat.

But real peace and joy come from sitting down in that afternoon sun with a senior pet. The older dog is much more likely to settle down enough to enjoy that activity (or more accurately, inactivity) than his younger counterpart is.


senior love

Giving up your dog?

funny faceA dog is a lifelong commitment and whether you adopt a dog from a rescue or get a puppy from a breeder, this step should not be taken lightly. You are committing yourself to a living and loving soul, who is relying on you to take care of him. So think hard about your life, circumstances and how these circumstances might change. Will these changes in your life make you give up your dog. If yes, please do not adopt a dog or get a puppy. This might sound harsh, but if you offer a home to a dog, there should be nothing that makes you give him up! If it was your child, would you give him up because you adopt a puppy or move house or get divorced?

I do volunteer work for a few animal charities, and a part of this work is doing checks to homes of potential new owners of a rescue dog. Some charities have a good few questions for the new owners before adoption is considered. Of all the different questions on all the different charities forms, the most interesting I find to be the following: “Under what circumstances do you feel you would have to give up your dog?” Now honestly think about it. How would you answer this? Did this question even enter your mind before you got your dog?

I personally feel that once you have taken a dog in, you will care for it no matter what. If issues emerge that you do not know how to deal with, you get help. If there are things your dogs does and you are not sure how to handle them, you get help. If it was your child, would you not get help? I am not saying that a child and dog are the same, but is the commitment not the same?

interview with dog


You get a dog and you do your everything to give him a happy and content life. And oncesenior-doghe gets older you still love, support and help him. Giving your dog up because he is old… What does it say about you? And just think about it,  what kind of example do you set up for your children?

When you get a dog, the dog might not be your everything, but YOU ARE HIS EVERYTHING! Please remember that and love, cherish and respect the time you have together with your dog.

What’s in it for the dog?

Motivation (1)

If you control what motivates your dog, you give him good reason to pay attention to you, i.e. to want to do what you want him to do. It’s the equivalent of saying to your dog, “I’ll tell you what: If you sit, I’ll throw your ball” or “If you stop pulling on leash, I’ll let you go smell that tree trunk.” You use what naturally motivates your dog to get the behaviors you want most. Simples!

My dog pulls on the lead!

For many dog owners the joy of walking the dog is diminished by the fact that the lovely furry friend, who gives so much pleasure, just does not seem to understand how to behave while on the lead…

Equipment, while out, plays a big role in the comfort of the walk for both you and your dog. A good few people walk their dogs on a collar,  which puts a lot of pressure on the neck, especially when pulling. The following picture by shows you what happens;

Why a harness

So, if pulling on the lead hurts the dog, why do they still do it? Turid Rugaas, in her book “My dog pulls. What do I do?”, looks at the variety of reasons;

  1. The dog pulls because when he does so, you follow. In other words: you must follow!
  2. You have previously taught your dog by using corrections. The dog has learned to pull because of the timing of your correction: The dog pulls… you decide to teach him not to pull by jerking or checking (pulling back) on the leash. To be able to jerk or check, you have to slacken the leash for a moment, then comes the jerk or check. For the dog, this means pain, and he learns that the slackening of the leash means that pain will follow. Your dog will now try to avoid the loose leash in order to avoid the pain that he knows will follow, and consequently he  is even more likely to pull on leash.
  3. Walking on leash hurts his neck. He finds  it difficult to breathe due to a tight collar, so tries to escape by getting as far away as possible.
  4. You are using an extendable leash, which is designed to always be taut. Whatever the dog tries to do, the leash is always tight and makes him feel uncomfortable. The dog gives up trying to keep a slack leash.
  5. You are irritable. You often yell at the dog, grabbing him by the neck or anything else that is unpleasant – so the dog tries to get as far away as he can – pulling away from your side. In other words: stop being the one the dog wants to keep away from, no worthwhile relationship can come of this, and he won’t learn to walk comfortably with you either.
  6. Your dog generally has too high a stress level. It will make him much more active and erratic and he will have a hard time walking more slowly and concentrating on what he is doing.

So what to do…

Some dog owners have changed to walk their dog on a head collar; usually gentle leader or halti. These are fitted around the muzzle with a loop attaching around the neck.

head collar

And how do these work? The following is from an instruction manual by the Gentle Leader©: “The gentle leader is scientifically  designed to direct your dog’s entire body by controlling his head and nose. And wherever his nose goes, his body must surely follow! The gentle leader dissuades your dog from pulling on the lead by transferring the pressure of  his efforts to the back of his neck via the neckstrap, while the pressure of the noseloop communicates your natural leadership.  Your dog’s instinctive resistance to these redirected pressures causes him to stop pulling to relieve the pressure at the back of the head and to relax and walk easily by your side.”

No matter how the head collar is explained above, it is still a useful tool when working with a dog that pulls. It is important to introduce the head collar positively and get your dog use to it. Chiraq Patel has done a great video about getting a dog to love a muzzle, and these same principles can be applied to introduction of the head collar. Click here to watch.

My favorite equipment for walking any dog, is a well fitting harness with a choice of contact points. A well fitting harness allows free movement of the dogs body and divides the pressure more equally in comparison to collar or head collar. Using a longer lead with availability to attach on two points on the harness or on the harness and collar or head collar, brings you more control over your dog and more balance to your dog.

two point harness

All the above mentioned equipment can be a help with a dog that pulls on the lead, but to train your dog to walk on a loose lead is the best remedy.

How to train it:
• Step 1: Your dog learns to stand calmly next to you without pulling away.
• Load one hand with treats.
• Praise and treat when your dog is calm and/or looking at you.
• If your dog pulls away from you, don’t yank the leash and don’t reel him back in. Stand still and wait until he returns to you. If he is very distracted, call his name.
• When he comes back to you, praise and treat.

Step 2: Your dog learns to stay close to you while walking.
• With your dog standing calmly next to you, say his name and, “Let’s go.”
• Praise and treat after the first step, as long as your dog doesn’t dash forward.
• Keep walking and praise/treat every other step.
• Gradually increase the number of steps in between rewards.
• If your dog starts pulling, stop and wait until there is some slack in the leash again. Then take a step with him and reward him quickly for walking near you.
• Keep him guessing. Sometimes reward after 1 step, sometimes after 5, then again after 2, then after 7.

Tip: Try practicing loose-leash walking after your dog has had some vigorous exercise. He will be much easier to work with then.

Defense, defense, defense!

A lady is walking a small dachshund cross in a fairly busy park. The dog is showing clear signs of being uncomfortable with the environment; tail tucked, tense body with the whites of the eye showing and constantly scanning surroundings. The lady seems oblivious to her dogs experience of the park, and happily walks along sometimes dragging the dog with her.

A child walks over to the lady and politely ask if it was ok to greet the little dachshund cross.  The little dog tenses up even more and tries to back away from the child as much as the lead allows.  The lady happily obliges: “Of course my dog loves children!” As her little dog is doing his best to get as far away from the child as possible, the lady grabs him and lifts him up so the child can pet him. The dog is rigid with tail tucked even further between his legs, and doing his best to look away from the child. The child pets the dog with enthusiasm and the lady encourages saying: “Oh, he really likes that!” At this point the dog has started to shake. Luckily something else has now caught the child’s attention and she runs away from the dog, which ends this encounter. The lady puts her dog back on the ground and continues her walk happy as ever.

This scenario, unfortunately is an everyday occurrence for many dogs. Many dog owners are not aware or do not understand their dog’s body language.  As we expect the dogs to learn at least some of our language, should we not return the favour and learn some of theirs? They share our lives and our homes, so would you not like to know how they feel?

Next time you are out for a walk with your furry friend and you are approached like the lady before, please check with your dog to see if he is happy to say hello. It just might be that he would prefer to have a good sniff from a distance and walk on without physical contact. Remember you are your dogs defense and he relies on you!

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