Why the lockdown could be a blessing for your reactive dog

We are now all use to the term social distancing and keeping 2m away from people. It’s a term I would rather not know, however because of social distancing and lockdown it has made it slightly easier walking a reactive dog.

Now as I walk Frank, my own reactive dog, people cross the road and move in another direction. Which to be fair they always use to do because I put a muzzle on Frank. But now they are avoiding me because I might be the problem and not my dog.  What a very refreshing change!

I still pop a muzzle on Frank though.  There are 2 very simple reasons for this.  If he gets over aroused on walks, which can easily happen if we have one off lead dog come too close, then the muzzle saves my knees from being bitten.  When Frank is triggered, he goes into full flight or fight mode.  As I’m anchoring myself down and holding him on a short lead its my knee that gets it.  He has bitten me twice in the past.  I learnt my lesson and now he has a muzzle. 

The second reason is that some people assume that any dog who has a muzzle on is pure evil and ready to attack anyone and everyone.  It’s a far from true assumption but I use it to my advantage to keep off lead dogs away from my anxious, fear reactive boy.

As we are now in lockdown less people are about. I’ve even started to relax more on my walks with Frank because I know there is now a much smaller chance of Frank seeing, let alone, meeting another dog.

I’m only walking locally to me; I’m not driving him anywhere. I’m being selective around what time I take him out, choosing 6/7pm as most people have been out and are likely having their dinner.

It makes me so happy to see him sniffing and peeing up every bush going because he is stress free in our walks. He is just being “dog” like. He isn’t anxious and worried what’s around the corner. It’s a wonderful feeling, and it will be over once we are out of lockdown, but Frank and I are enjoying this newfound freedom for now.

I would rather not be in a lockdown, its temporarily closed my business and stopped me earning, but the silver lining for me is that I can have “normal” walks with my dog.

If you are a reactive dog owner, are you still walking your reactive dog in the same places you always did?  Hands up, I could be found skulking around the industrial estate after dark with Frank.  It was an easy place to take him.  I don’t let him off lead (unless I hire a dog field) so I didn’t need fields, and I didn’t need daylight because he was staying on lead.

But now I’m in a lockdown I’m taking him to new places in my village.  Check him out by the stream the other day.  Look how actual happy he looks! (I take his muzzle of for photos)

I know its hard to break that great, solid, routine you have got set up with your dog.  It was a worry for me too when I started taking Frank out on “normal” walks.  But I didn’t want to flaunt the rules and drive him to our normal walks.  I also wanted to use my one opportunity a day to get outside to its advantage.  I’ve not long moved to the village where I now live with Frank, James (my partner) and Mosie (James’s self-confessed angry cat.)  The lockdown has been a perfect opportunity for us to explore our village.  And Frank is doing it as well.

As I said early on, I take Frank out around dinner time.  By this time of day, he is tired.  If you go earlier give your dog a warm up first. Now you maybe wondering what the hell a warm up for a dog is.  Well its exactly that!  Basically, it’s a way of zapping your dog’s energy before you go out.  I’ve successfully used it for reactive dogs, puppies and excitable dogs on my professional walks.

Things to try:

  1. A game of tuggy. Pet shops are still open so find one that is size appropriate for your dog. Then play tug and let them win sometimes. If tuggy is not there thing then play with their favourite fluffy toy.
  2. Set up a mini agility course in your garden for your dog. Use objects from around the house for your dog to go up and round, washing up bowls, small step, bench, washing line pole. The options are endless. Lure them round with some high value treats and work on one part of the course a day. Once they have mastered that part, move on to the next till you come to a point that they can do the whole mini course. Once at that point, change it up again.
  3. Train your dog. Teach them a new trick. A middle. Target touch. A check in. Whatever you want really. This is the ideal time to help your dog master that one thing you always wanted them to do. Lots of dog trainers will be going online now so you could invest in a one to one session with them and they will talk you through some cool things to teach your dog.

Just be mindful that on the warm up, whatever it is that you choose to do, you do not over reward with food. You won’t normally hear me say that but as you will be taking your dog out for a walk afterwards, you need to avoid them getting bloat (a serious life-threatening condition) or being sick. In this instance you should limit the food reward and use fuss and/or play as the reward instead.

How long should you do a warm up? In my opinion it should be no longer than 15 minutes. Once your dog is calming down and/or starting to tire that is your sign that it’s time for the actual walk.

If you would like some more warm up ideas/brain games, then check out my eBook Engage and Entertain.

 If you are still nervous about trying a new route, take someone out with you.  James’s has described his role in Frank’s walks as being like a member of the President’s security detail! When we get to a crossroad or anywhere a dog could suddenly spring out from, James goes ahead to check that there are no dogs coming along.  If they are, we divert or use parked cars to stop Frank seeing the other dogs.

If there was ever a time to try a new walk with your reactive dog, its now.  Give it a try, do a warm up, take some high value treats out with you and a “bodyguard.” Who knows, maybe, just maybe you will find a route that you can use again and again after lockdown ends that isn’t a creepy old industrial estate late at night.

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

The Woofers Walkies Story

I often get asked by new customers how I got into dog walking.  So, I thought I would share my story with you.

I would love to say that I had been planning it for years, but I would be lying to you. I would love to say that I had been planning it before I left my job, but that’s another lie.

In fact starting my business wasn’t really planned at all.

I worked in food retail for 24 years.  Firstly, in Waitrose and then Tesco’s.  For 2 decades I was a Stock Control Manager.  I was the person in charge of making sure you can buy what you want, when you want.  Yep, the person you probably cursed about when you couldn’t get your toilet rolls!

I was good at it too.  I was constantly top of my region for customers being able to but what they wanted.  I loved having a team to train and being a mentor.

But I was beginning to find the repetitive nature of the job uninspiring.  Coupled with that I had been working in a pretty much windowless building for over 2 decades.  For half the year I never saw daylight and I survived on recycled air. 

Of course, it wasn’t all bad.  I made many friends for life and I even got myself a husband (although he is now an ex-husband!  My ex-husband and I worked together briefly in my early Tesco career and years later we met up again and fell in love.  To cement our love, we got our first dog together, a greyhound called Poppy.  To my ex’s horror he then realised we had to move in together to raise our beautiful girl!

In August 2015, with my ex’s full support, I left my job.  Find out more about the heartbreaking reason I left here. My only plan was to do nothing for 6 months.  That lasted 2 weeks.  I got dismayed looking at jobs and felt like I didn’t really want to work for someone else again.

And one day I got a lightbulb moment after reading that quote “Find a job you love, and you will never work again.”  I love dogs, I love walking.  I’m going to be a dog walker! Woofers Walkies was born on the 1st September 2015! Woofers was the collective name I referred to my then 3 dogs.

Woofers Walkies gave me the opportunity to foster dogs and do home visits for prospective adoptees.  It also meant I could adopt more dogs!  I currently have 1 dog, Frank my 13-year-old rescue lurcher, although at one point I did have 4 dogs and a foster dog.

Since opening I have walked over 150 dogs and looked after the same number of cats.  In 2017 Alan joined my team and Karen.  Alan bought a lot of experience with him including agility and training.

After expanding the team I completely revamped my walks into dog adventures using my unique P•E•T® system; Play, Engage & Train.  

In 2019, with Alan’s help, I set up Woofers Training Academy. Whilst this is still very much in its infancy, we have already run group sessions, masterclasses and one to one sessions.

Whilst running my business I have discovered a love for writing which has resulted in me publishing many blogs, creating newsletters, writing 5 E-Books and I’ve published my first boo “The Lockdown Dog”. I’m currently writing my second book.  Of course, the subject in all these are dogs, dogs and more dogs!  I’ve also written guest blogs for others and appeared on some podcasts too!  You can read my other blogs here and check out my resources page to read previous newsletters and E-Books.

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. Sally is also the author of  “The Lockdown Dog.” You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

How to survive the lockdown on one dog walk a day

So there we have it. We are a nation in lockdown.

And it is a lockdown, make no mistake about that. Our PM may not have used the word in his speech to the nation but the fact that they have brought in legislation to fine you for disobeying the rules makes it very much a lockdown that we must follow.

So what does this mean for dog walks? And your dog walker. 

Let’s answer the latter first. Despite my many customers telling me that having a dog walker is essential to them, dog walkers are not classed a key worker. That means we can not walk someone’s dog for them.

Even if it’s for a person who is a key worker. If you are a key worker and rely on a dog walker then you need to make alternative arrangements for your dog now. 

And if you are a dog walker who is still planning on walking someone’s dog, ask yourself these three very important questions:

  1. Are you prepared to pay a £1000 fine for breaking the rules, as set out by Boris Johnson?
  2. Are you prepared to be personally liable for the dog you are walking if they become unwell or ill under your watch? The fact that we have been put into lockdown will likely make your insurance void.
  3. Are you prepared to give up the one opportunity that you are allowed to have  daily for exercise? This may mean that you can not take your kids out or your own dog/s.

If you are a dog owner and you understand that no one else can actually professionally walk your dog how are you going to survive these new restrictions that have been imposed on us when it comes to your furry friend? 

It’s actually not as bad as it sounds. Honestly.

One walk a day is fine for most dogs, but let’s assume that in the forthcoming days our time outside will be given a restriction on time (it already has, we have been told to limit time outside but going on what has happened it’s likely people will find ways to flout this and so we will no doubt be given a time limit.)

If there are 2 adults in the house and you have a high energy dog you could take your dog out individually. Changes are that you will both appreciate a bit of time away from each other and this way your dog can get out twice. Win, win. This would work well if you have 2 dogs. Anymore than that you will need to team up as don’t forget we still have to practise social distancing.

Whilst out with your dog I would advise the following; unless your dog has exceptional recall, keep them on lead. This is for two very important reasons: 

  1. If they run off there is no resource to help you search for your dog.
  2. If they are off the lead they have a higher chance of having an accident from running around. If they do have an accident they will have to go to the vets. And we are in a lockdown which means that you may have to drop your dog off and return home immediately. You won’t be able to stay with them.

At the moment you are probably thinking that I’ve not offered much help to you and you are right. But let’s face facts, it’s important you know what your obligations are when outside with your dog in this strange and unprecedented time that we have found ourselves in. You only have one pass to go outside every day. 

But I’ve got a hot little nugget for you that will help you and your dog, not only stay safe whilst out, but calm enough to enjoy a gentle short stroll rather than a high speed adventure.

A warm up.

Yes that’s right, your dog needs a warm up. I’ve used this very successfully on high energy dogs, reactive dogs and excitable dogs. 

This basically means you are going to help them get rid of their excess energy before you even leave the house.

Imagine that! 

You may have to play around with what works well for a warm up for your dog but we have time on our hands (3 weeks to be precise) and your dog will love the attention.

Things to try:

A game of tuggy. Pet shops are still open so find one that is size appropriate for your dog. Then play tug, and let them win sometimes. If tuggy is not there thing then play with their favourite fluffy toy.

Set up a mini agility course in your garden for your dog. Use objects from around the house for your dog to go up and round, washing up bowls, small step, bench, washing line pole. The options are endless. Lure them round with some high value treats and work on one part of the course a day. Once they have mastered that part, move on to the next till you come to a point that they can do the whole mini course. Once at that point, change it up again.

Train your dog. Teach them a new trick. A middle. Target touch. A check in. Whatever you want really. This is the ideal time to help your dog master that one thing you always wanted them to do. Lots of dog trainers will be going online now so you could invest in a one to one session with them and they will talk you through some cool things to teach your dog.

Just be mindful that on the warm up, whatever it is that you choose to do, you do not over reward with food. You won’t normally hear me say that but as you will be taking your dog out for a walk afterwards, you need to avoid them getting bloat (a serious life threatening condition) or being sick. In this instance you should limit the food reward and use fuss and/or play as the reward instead.

How long should you do a warm up? In my opinion it should be no longer than 15 minutes. Once your dog is calming down and/or starting to tire that is your sign that it’s time for the actual walk.

After your walk, your dog should be ready for a good nap. Don’t forget this is a strange time for dogs too. If they are use to being on their own during the day give them an enforced break. Pop them in their crate or the room they usually stay in during the day and let them have their 40 winks. A tired dog can also be a wired dog so make sure they have the opportunity to rest rather than follow you round the house all day, 

Ultimately, for our dogs, us being at home with them during the lockdown is heaven sent. Use this opportunity wisely!

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

The perfect holiday home for a reactive dog

I recently went on a long weekend away.

Along with James and myself came Frank, my fluffy reactive lurcher.

Finding somewhere to go on holiday with your reactive dog can be a nightmare. Trying to find a place that “gets” your dog is a challenge.

But I’ve found that place. I’ve struck the doggy holiday jackpot!

Now let me tell you first that I don’t go on holidays that far away with Frank. He can cope with journeys of an hour to two hours but anything more would be a push.

I also like to look for cottages that are rural. When I go on these kind of holidays I don’t spend all day everyday out, so home comforts are important to me too.

What I found was a cottage near Swaffham in Norfolk. It was set in the owners garden and attached to the owners house. The bit that was linked was their entrance hall into their house, so don’t let that put you off.

In the cottage itself was a modern kitchen with a dishwasher. This is a plus point for James and myself as neither of us have that luxury of a dishwasher in our respective homes.

The floor was tiled, ideal for mucky paws. Plenty of room to put down your dog bowls and to dry off said mucky paws.

By the way this is a character cottage built in the 18th century. The cottage is filled with beams and is decorated tastefully to match.

The living room has a sofa, large foot stall, armchair and a table for two. This particular cottage sleeps 2 only, although I imagine you could take a baby too.

On the foot stall were 2 throws. In the welcome manual it stated that these throws are for putting on the sofa for your dogs.

Most dog friendly cottages tell you not to let dogs on the furniture so this was a refreshing change. The manual also said that if more throws were needed to just go and ask.

Frank does love a cuddle on the sofa so this met our needs.

Upstairs is one huge bedroom with a super king sized bed. Built into the bedroom is a luxurious bathroom with a deep roll top bath and a double sized shower.

Now you will need to know the person you are going away with quite well. The bathroom has walls but they do not got all the way up.

And nor should they because the exposed beams demand to be shown and enjoyed. The bathroom walls are plenty tall enough for privacy.

There is more wardrobe space than you can ever dream off, a dressing table and an armchair.

In the manual the owners ask you to keep the dog of the bed but say it’s fine for the dog to be upstairs.

Again, very refreshing.

But let’s head outside, where the magic really happens.

Directly outside the cottage is a communal garden. You are asked to keep dogs on lead in this part.

In the garden is a very old building that is home to a hot tub. A six person hot tub. Lush.

The first time I went in the hot tub, Frank came along too. Not in the tub though, just in the building.

After that he stayed in the cottage by himself and was fine for an hour whilst we bathed away.

The dog wash area
Hot Tub Heaven!

Also by the hot tub is a bathing area for your dog. It even had a clip for you to attach your dog too. Handy for those muddy, wriggly pups!

At the end of the communal garden is a gate leading to the paddock.

You have full access to this paddock. It has got poles for your dogs to weave round, a platform for them to climb up and tyres to jump through. There are also swings for the human children.

If your dog is friendly then they can go in and are welcome to join any of the other guests dogs in there.

If your dog is reactive you put a red pole in front of the gate. This then means no one else is allowed in there. Genius!

This was perfect for us. Frank could have a lovely run around and I felt very safe in the knowledge that no one would come in.

Each house has a very small secure garden, perfect for those late night wee breaks!

I will definitely book to go here again. I can’t recommend it enough as being perfect for Frank.

You view more about the cottage and book it here.

Love, Sally xx

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

What is this Engagement malarkey all about?

One part of my unique P•E•T system is Engage or engagement to give it the full title. I actually believe that engagement between a dog and you is one of the most important things to teach and build on with your dog.

So what is engagement? Engagement is about your dog being aware of you. An engaged dog will always respond when we talk to them or play with them.

An engaged dog won’t be getting distracted by what else is going on because they will be having too much fun with you, or us if we walk them!

A dog who is engaged knows that rewards come from their walker or you and because of this they want to work with you.

How do you get a dog to engage with you though? Well it’s all about payment. That’s right, just like you expect to go to work and get paid, so does your dog. Ok, they aren’t really working but do try and think of your dog having an emotional bank account.

If your dog has done something great and they have been “paid” for it then you have just made a deposit in to their bank account. But imagine if they have done something brilliant and it was ignored. Yep, you guessed it, you have just made a withdrawal from their emotional bank account.

In the dog world, payment is a food reward, playing with toys, an audible reward or a big fuss. Rewarding is not bribing, it promotes a great relationship and behaviour.

A dog that has a healthy emotional bank account is a happy dog looking for more ways to increase their balance.

Still confused? Imagine your boss has asked you to stay late to get a report done. You may not be happy about that. If it was me, I would probably mumble something unspeakable under my breath and curse them for everything wrong in the world.

But if that boss asked me to stay late with the promise of a pizza break later on, well I’m a happy girl. I may well think that my boss is great and I’m wondering what I need to do to get cake. Let’s start paying our dogs!

Love, Sally xx

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

Managing Muddy Mutts

We are still 4 weeks away from the longest day.

Can you believe that, I’m mean how much shorter can the days get. Even I seem to be missing out on daylight.

November is such a dark and dreary month and after all that rain from last week there is mud everywhere.

And if you live at my end of town then you have the added mud caused by the Haverhill Lagoon (just by Boyton Place) and the Anglian water works just before Kedington.

In fact you can’t get away from it and believe me I’ve tried. Mud is everywhere.

I don’t  know if I’ve ever told you, but I’m not really the outdoorsy type. I hate mud. I hate being dirty. Add to that the ruddy cheeks and the windswept birds nest on my head. Yep, gorgeous. Not.

I can’t manage the weather but I can and have managed the mud.

Let’s go through some basics first. There are different types of mud. There are probably scientific terms for them all but let me just tell you about the 3 types I know about. Mud, muddier and mucky mud.

Mucky mud is the worst. That’s the one that sticks to everything. It’s the one that clogs up your boots fast and makes you feel like you are carrying an extra stone or two of weight on your feet.

If you have naturally mucky mud in your garden the only way to deal with it, in my humble opinion is artificial grass. Mucky mud leads you into a false sense of security and just when you think it’s drying out, then wham bam it’s muckier than ever.

And let’s face it no dog is ever going to carefully tread round it.

Some dogs like to roll in it (not mentioning any names) and this is why you need to get your dog a coat if they are guilty of this behaviour. Even if they don’t need a coat because they don’t feel the cold, get them a lightweight coat.I take a portable shower out with me. This is the one I’ve used previously and this is the one I’m using this year.

Whilst talking about coats you can also get drying coats for dogs. 

Basically these work by popping your dog in them and they then dry off. Won’t help with the mud but does help with damp dogs especially if you have to shower them down.

Take out a flask of warm water and you can rinse them down before your dog gets in the car. Pop on a drying coat and you have got the equivalent of bathing your child at whoever’s house you are at and popping them into their pyjamas before you head home. Cute.

You can get boot liners and seat covers for your car. They aren’t that expensive and they do save the upholstery. I also have some vet bed in my car as this helps with wet and muddy paws.

When faced with a muddy dog you do need to work out if they need to be showered off and just given a good rub down with a towel.

Let me tell you that I rarely use my portable shower. Muddy dogs usually look worse than they are if they have been walking in mud or muddier mud. Usually the mud in these two cases is mainly water based. If your dog is covered in muckier mud then it’s shower time. Let’s not also forget that sometimes it’s just as easy to let the mud dry and then brush it out of your dog.  Although I don’t recommend this option if your dog is really muddy. Or hates to be brushed.

The best towels that I’ve used are just old towels. I find these very absorbent and way better than new towels or the micro fibre type ones. The great thing about old towels is that if you ask friends or family they nearly always will have a couple they can pass them on to you.

If you are using coats, dryings coat and towels then you need to be able to wash them quickly. I’ve talked about this washing bag before. It’s a big life changer.

It traps all the dog hair without it staying in your washing machine drum and then infiltrating your next load of washing.

Pick lightweight coats that can dry quickly on a radiator. For myself I do like my towels soft and fluffy but your dog will be happy with a towel dried on the radiator.

Don’t forget to use non bio washing products though, you don’t want to irritate your dogs skin.

There isn’t a lot you can do about wet dog smell, but you can use candles to mask it.

Check out this candle that has been specifically made for that purpose.

We all know that continually bathing your dog’s strips essential oils from their skin and hair. 

So once they are dry using some doggy perfume. This is my favourite, but there are plenty to choose from out there.

I like to deal with muddy dogs before they get in the house but that doesn’t help if your dog has got wet and mucky in the garden. I use these mats. They are washable and non slip.

You can get them in a variety of sizes including a runner. Train your dog to sit on these when they come in from the garden and then work your mud cleaning magic on them.

I love a fabric collar for Frank, but they are not practical for wet and muddy weather. These collars and leads, from local company Bella Bows, are fantastic. Hi-vis, easy to wipe clean, antibacterial and just bloody perfect for mud!

Mud doesn’t have to be your enemy. It can be managed. I know of people who have installed a mixer tap outside so they can hose their dogs down with warm water.

If you have some other ideas on managing mud, please tell me in the comments below.

Love, Sally xx

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

New Year Resolutions for your dog

Do you like to start of the New Year with lots of resolutions?  Maybe you achieve them all or maybe they are broken within a couple of hours?  

How about setting some that you can achieve this year for your dog?  Sounds a bit strange doesn’t it, but as dog loving people we will put their happiness before our own and are more likely to stick to goals to increase their happiness and welfare. Read on for some ideas that you could put into practise:

  • If your dog is overweight, put them on a diet! I know they make puppy dog eyes at you but it’s not healthy for them to carry extra weight. If you can’t bear to stop giving them treats, then cut down their main dinner.  Extend one of their walks and that will help them no end.  You could also try chucking their dinner around your garden, no I’m not crazy! If you feed them biscuits, throw it around the garden and your dog has got to work out where it all is, it helps them to be active with the added benefit of a tiring brain game.  Don’t worry if it’s dark, that means their noses, brains and tails will just work a bit harder. If you are unsure whether your dog is overweight, ask your vet.  Most vets have a weight clinic run by their lovely nurses.
  • Go and explore with your dog. Sometimes we get stuck in to the working week and time is of a premium which means your dog is going on the same walk all the time.  Your dog won’t mind but, just like us, they are stimulated by new surroundings and smells.  You will be amazed at the amounts of public footpaths there are around.  Head out on a day where time isn’t a problem, pack a drink and find a new route.
  • Give your dog some oily fish as part of their diet. Oily fish contains Omega 3 essential fatty acids which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Not only this but it can really help improve your dog’s coat and help with itchy skin.  If the idea of giving them a tin of sardines turns your stomach then you can buy them an Omega 3 supplements from places like Pets at Home. My dogs have always enjoyed sardines mixed in with their food once or twice a week and I’ve really noticed a difference in their coats.  I use to give my eldest greyhound some supplements but I didn’t have to do that once I started giving her some sardines. She was able to run quickly when she choose to and didn’t struggle to get out of her bed.  The great thing about a tin of sardines is they only cost around 40p.
  • Try a class for your dog. Training classes are not just for puppies.  There are all kind of classes from regular training to agility to tracking to flyball and many more.  It can be a fantastic way to mentally stimulate your dog.  They will make new friends and so will you.
  • Set up an ISA for your dog! Let’s be honest, we don’t begrudge our dogs a penny but they can be expensive. Jimmy, my greyhound had an accident that resulted in him being in a leg cast and then a subsequent toe amputation that cost over £1000.  I have insurance, so I didn’t have to find that kind of money. However, some insurers insist you pay first and then it takes ages to get the money back.  Now I’m not suggesting that you cancel your insurance, but what you could think about is start saving in a tax-free ISA and when you get to an amount that you feel will cover any treatment your dog needs then maybe cancel your insurance and start paying in the cost of that instead to your ISA.  It’s also worth considering how you would pay for treatment not covered by insurance like dental work. I’m no financial advisor so please don’t do anything that will put yourself into financial hardship.  If you don’t have insurance maybe starting an ISA now will help you in the future.  Or how about putting an amount in each month that will cover the cost of worming tablets, flea treatment, boosters and your insurance excess.  It could help you have one steady monthly payment instead of differing amounts throughout the year. Or you could just put a lump sum in one.  Who knows what the future holds, what if you lost your job or had to move?
  • I apologise now, this one is a bit gloomy. Have you made any plans for your dog if the worst was to happen and you pass away?  As humans, we often have godparents or close family who will look after children if the parent dies.  Has your dog got a God Parent?  Well Frank doesn’t have one so I need a plan.  So, that is my resolution for the New Year to ensure that he has somewhere to go if the worst happens.  Ideally, I need to find them a home where he will be pampered to within an inch of his life, so if anyone fancies being a dog godparent let me know.  In all seriousness, the Dogs Trust do a scheme.  You become a member for £25 per year and you get 24-hour access to Vetfone, and a Canine Care Card, it’s a guarantee that Dogs Trust will take care of your dog should you pass away.  You also get  3rd Party Public Insurance (if you are considering swapping your insurance for an ISA do get this, if your dog causes damage or injury to another dog, person or property this will cover you up to £1,000,000) Read here for more details.

On that cheery note I will leave you! I hope I’ve given you some fuel for thought.  If you do decide to do 1 or more resolution for you dog, well done, good luck and your dog will love you for it!

Love, Sally xx

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

Dog Tags – The Truth

I’ve been looking online for an identity tag for Frank.  I began to wonder what actually should be on them.  I asked friends and family and everyone had something different to say. People were split on whether you should have your dog’s name on it or not.  Some people seem to think now you have the microchip law you don’t need a tag.  Others would tell me it was owners choice.  I needed something a bit more concrete.  So I researched it and today I am sharing my findings with you.

The Truth

It is the law that every dog must have a tag. If you choose for your dog to not wear a collar you need to ensure that your dog, at least, wears one in public. The Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address (including postcode) of the owner engraved on it, or engraved on a tag.  Your telephone is optional but considering that this law was passed in 1992 and mobile phones were only starting to make an appearance, I would highly recommend you put a contact number on it.

So what about putting your dog’s name on the tag?  Well according to the law its optional.  There are 2 opinions.  The first one is that if your dog got lost the person who found your dog would be able to help it settle if they know its name.  Then there is the flip side.  If your dog was stolen it could easily be sold on as it would react to its name and the potential new owner would not suspect that the dog was stolen.  So it’s your choice whether you put a name on the tag or not.

Did I mention you can be fined if your dog does not have an identification tag?  You can be fined up to £5000.  Dog tags are cheap, you can get them of Ebay, Amazon or at your local Timpsons. 

An example of what to put on the tag (by law) is:

Mr A Smith, No 54, BH17 7TD 01202 232218

Or

Mr A Smith, No 54 Letsbe Avenue, BH17 7TD 01202 232218

I’ve now ordered new tags for all my dogs, they cost me £4.80 each of Ebay,  and I have put the following on mine (but with my details):

IF I AM OUT ALONE I AM LOST PLEASE FIND MY OWNER: SMITH 54/BH17 7TD 01202 232218

Happy tag shopping, and whilst you are getting one done why not get a spare one done at the same time.

Love Sally xx

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

Why I will always adopt a dog

As it is the month of love, I thought I would do a blog about something that is close to my heart.  Adopting dogs or cats.

You probably know by now that I am a big advocate of adopting but I also completely understand that many people have dreams of a certain breed and raising it from a puppy. What I wanted to talk to you about today was dispelling some of the myths and mystery around adopting a pet.

The first thing I want to set the record straight about is you don’t have to say yes to any dog at a rescue place.  Of course, anyone who works there wants the dogs to find a home, but they want to find them the right home.  Never say yes to a dog because you are worried what might happen to it if you say no.  Someone else will be the perfect fit.

Rehoming centres are having a big battle with dogs being returned to them.  Therefore, they do such a thorough check and ask so many questions. When you go to a rehoming centre it’s important that you take all members of the family that live in the same house as you as well as any dogs you already have.  Many rehoming centres will not rehome dogs to homes with small children.  If you have young children ring up the shelter before you go or check their website for their policy.

All rehoming centres will want to do a home check.  They won’t be looking to see if your house is clean and tidy but whether it’s appropriate for the dog that will hopefully be coming to live with you. They will check the size of your garden and height of your fence.  You don’t have to have a huge garden, but it needs to be secure. 

You won’t always go to a rehoming centre.  I’ve had dogs from Norfolk Greyhound Rescue, and they don’t have a centre.  They bring dogs over from Ireland and then you collect the dog (after forms and home checks have been completed). As the dogs were coming from Ireland it wasn’t possible for us to meet them first but that was fine for us because they were exactly what I had been looking for.

More and more rescue homes are relying on foster home for dogs whilst they search for their forever home for them.  This makes is cheaper for the charities rather than the running costs of kennels.  Don’t let this put you off.  You can still go and meet your potential new dog if it’s in foster.

You will always pay an adoption fee.  This covers the dog being neutered or spayed, initial vaccinations and sometimes this will include a collar and lead and food bowls.  Everyone is different but they all have the same rule; every rescue dog must be neutered.  This is important to hopefully slow down the number of abandoned dogs every year.  If your potential dog is too young to be neutered, you will be required to make sure this happens. The adoption fee never covers the full cost to the rehoming centre of caring for that animal.  They may have paid out a lot in vet fees to get the dog ready for rehoming.

If you love a certain breed of dog, then I’m sure there will be a rescue place that deals with just that breed.  It’s also possible and quite easy to rescue a dog from abroad. 

Having a dog that you have brought from a breeder as a puppy doesn’t guarantee a well socialised and behaved dog.  That comes from the way the dog is brought up.  Yes, there are dogs in rescue homes who are reactive, not good with children or cats but with the right home and with lots of love, patience and time they can become a big part of your family.  I promise you as the mum of 7  adopted dogs and 3 foster dogs you won’t regret it!

Love, Sally xx

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

What’s Your Dog’s Dummy?

A little while ago I was a guest on a podcast. Now just in case podcasts are not your thing I thought I would write a blog about what I was talking about on that podcast.

My friend Claire, a mum of 4 dogs, dog trainer, author and podcast host, invited me to come on and chat about something barking related. Barking is Claire’s speciality; she has written 2 books about it and does seminars on it.

Feeling slightly in awe of Claire’s knowledge around barking I decided to talk about the equipment that some people use to deter barking.

I talked about 4 pieces, water gun, fly swot (yes you read the right!) pet corrector spray and shock collars.

But let’s chat first about barking dogs. I used to have a daft greyhound, Jimmy, who loved to bark at the sky for no apparent reason. At the time I had 4 dogs who would join in and bark if one of them started. I now have one dog, Frank, who barks out of fear.

I also have had neighbours with barking dogs. I get it. I know how frustrating, annoying and embarrassing having a barking dog can be.

And yes, I’ve been in the garden saying “Frank, quiet, Frankkkkkk QUIET” or something like that.

We’ve all had a barking dog shatter our tranquillity. If your dog is the cause of that then I can completely understand why you may look for something to stop that barking quickly. Let’s talk about them.

Spraying your dog with a water bottle when they bark has been around for a long time. It’s cheap and easy. Or is it? The idea is that you spray your dog in the face when they bark. It will usually surprise your dog, so they stop barking. Yay, silence! But don’t fill up that spray bottle too soon.

What if your dog likes water? What if it teaches your dog to be fearful of water? What if you haven’t got the spray bottle to hand when your dog barks? What if you are out on a walk and your dog is face to face with another dog barking? Good luck on getting that water on their face.

You could be teaching them to become fearful of water. That could become a real problem come bath time or when they have just rolled in fox poo and you need to hose them down.

Another popular product for stopping barking dogs is Pet Corrector. This is a can, not unsimilar to a can of a very well-known ladies body spray (you can get bigger sizes.) It works by you spraying the can when your dog barks. It will then make a hissing noise which should stop your dog barking. It’s basically compressed air in a tin.

When I was out walking recently, I got to witness first-hand how useless the Pet Corrector is. A lady was walking two small dogs. They saw us across the park. There was a whole green between us. We were not even near.

Now this lady was on the phone and these two dogs began barking. In fact, I think it’s fair to say they were having a bark off with each other.

The lady on the phone delved deep into her shoulder bag whilst holding the two dogs on their leads. Some points should be awarded here for:

a) her ability to carry on her conversation 

b) her ability to take a big shoulder bag on her walk 

c) her ability to not shout shut up at her dogs.

However, points need to be taken away for 

a) talking on the phone 

b) having a ridiculously huge shoulder bag on her walk and 

c) ignoring her dogs

I know you are probably wondering what the hell I’m going on about. Surely the walk is for the dogs and should be about them? If she wasn’t on the phone, then she would be more alert to her dog’s triggers and would be able to distract them.

The big bag maybe a great fashion accessory but when you are out with dogs you need everything to hand. You don’t have time to rummage in a bag to find what you need.

Anyway, I digress. In to the ginormous bag she goes, and after some rummaging (don’t forget she is on her phone and holding two dogs straining and barking on lead) out comes that distinctive red bottle.

Just in case you are wondering whether I have supersonic eyesight, yes, I do! Well I have average eyesight, but I know that red can anywhere.

Once the can was out, the lid then had to be removed. Let’s pop that lid back in the bag. And then, eventually that can is sprayed. I know that sound anywhere.

 

Did the dogs stop barking, well yes after the third squirt. Did they start again when they saw another dog, yes, they did.

Did the pet corrector work? I guess you could say it stopped the unwanted behaviour temporarily, but it didn’t solve the underlying problem.

Even the makers of the Pet Corrector know it doesn’t solve the problem. They have been ingenious with the naming of their product but in the small print it does say it’s only designed to interrupt a dog’s barking.

So not a problem solver in a can then.

And what about that old favourite the electric/vibrating shock collar. Well now there is a monster.

Shock collars are illegal in England although you can still get them if they are to keep animals within its grounds.

Did you know that an electric shock collar will send 6000 volts to your dog when they bark or when you press the remote control?

Then there are the ones that vibrate that cause the dog distress, and not forgetting the ones that release a hideous noxious gas.

The RSPCA did a survey and found that 5% of dog owners have used an electric collar.  Let’s break that down.  24% adults in the UK have a dog which is around 8.9 million dogs. That means that around 400,000 dogs have experienced a shock collar here in the UK. 400,000 dogs. That’s shocking.

Does it solve the barking? Well yes it may stop it temporarily. It will also strip away the life and soul of your dog.

Think I’m overacting? How would you like to wear a collar that delivered a shock to you every time you raised your voice?

No doubt after a while you will learn not to raise your voice. In fact, you will likely give up making any kind of noise as you will live in fear of that collar.

You will lose your sparkle. And so, will your dog if you use one.

Of course, with all the above methods you could transfer the trigger that is making your dog bark.

For instance, if your dog is barking out of pleasure at seeing you, then gets a shock from its collar, your dog may well become fearful of you.

Why? Because every time they see you and voice their delight, they get pain. Can you see what could potentially happen?

Your dog could become so scared of you that they may end up attacking you.

And isn’t that crazy.

I know you are probably screaming at me how do we stop the barking. Well I’m sorry but I don’t have the answer. Because there is no magic answer.

The answer depends on the underlying cause of the barking. It could be a learned behaviour, it could be because your dog is fearful, it could be because your dog is bored.

A dog trainer or behaviourist can help you identify the cause.

If it’s a mild case, you may well be able to retrain your dog. But whether you decide to go it alone or get professional help you do need to invest your time, consistency and have a great reward system in place.

It’s all about finding your dog’s dummy.  What will pacify (see what I did there?) them without causing pain and fear.

Of course, you should buy either or both of Claire’s books to help you.

You can listen to the podcast  here and find out all about the fly swot!

Love, Sally xx

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Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill