Top tips to keep your dog calm at Christmas

Top tips to keep your dog calm at Christmas

Christmas is bound to be very different this year, but hopefully we can still enjoy some of the seasonal festivities. Fingers crossed we can spend the big day itself, with friends and family. 

Christmas is a huge time for our dogs. People coming and going, decorations inside and out, tempting food everywhere and just lots of excitement.

For some dogs this can be too much. Especially if you add other family members dogs into the mix. I’ve got 5 top tips to keep your dog calm at Christmas.

Tip 1. Make a plan

This sounds obvious, but you need a plan. Ask yourself do you need to take your dog with you. When will they be walked. Where can you put their bed that will allow them some peace and quiet and be their safe space. Have you ordered your dogs food/medication etc.

Making a plan will help you keep in control of your dog’s physical and mental well being.  From little things such as bagging up their food into individual bags, if you are going away, will ensure that anyone can feed your dog and save from any of those conversations about the portion size of your dogs meal.

plan for christmas

Tip 2. Get your dog ready in the days beforehand

You might have a tradition of a long dog walk after Christmas dinner or you may not find the time to walk your dog on Christmas day. 

You dog will survive without a walk one day. There is no need to feel guilty about it, Christmas Day is hectic enough! But in the lead up, take them on some longer walks. A tired dog is a calm dog.

Not only that, but it is a great way to enjoy some stress free time with just you and your dog.

As well as walks you can use Kongs, snuffle mats, lickimat and any other brain/food games for your dog.  Again these will help to tire your dog out.

christmas dog walks

Tip 3. Sleep time

The other key to your dog being calm is that they get enough rest. Ideally they need a good sleep the day before. You know what works best for your dog. A combination of a long walk and some brain games should help them have a long sleep.

A tired dog is a calm dog but an over tired dog can become boisterous, anxious or destructive to name just a few traits.

Dogs can get just as over excited as children who don’t have enough sleep. Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. 

calm dog at christmas

Tip 4. Meet any new dogs outside

If there is a new dog in the family/household and you dog hasn’t met them yet, then arrange to do so outside. This should be done on a lead and the dogs should meet parallel to each other. Avoid face to face as their first meet as this can be quite confrontational for them.

Start off in a field on opposite sides and gradually move closer.  If your dog is showing signs of stress then take a step back or two.  This could take a while, so don’t expect two strange dogs to be best buddies within minutes.

Allow them space and time to meet.

meeting a new dog

Tip 5. Relax

Your dog picks up on your stress, so relax and have a glass of bubbly or sit down and enjoy the Christmas film.

If you are anxious then your dog will pick up on it.  Some dogs will become very anxious themselves others won’t leave you side and will struggle to settle.

Christmas really isnt about perfection, it’s about spending time with your nearest and dearest.  So get your family and guests involved and let them takecare of some of the workload.

calm dog at christmas

If you would like more of my top tips to keep your dog calm at Christmas tips you can purchase my online course.

There are 12 videos to take you through more of the above plus another 7 tips.

You can find out more by clicking this button:

Lastly I would just like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, stay safe.

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, Woofers Dog Services,  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” and “Dazzle Your Dog” 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

Your guide to keeping your dog safe at night

There is no getting away from in, the nights are starting to creep in.  At the end of this week the clocks go back, and we will all probably have to walk our dogs in the dark at some point.  Dark dog walks bring their own pros and cons.  Personally, I love a crisp frosty walk early in the morning before the sun has risen, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea!

I’m lucky that I don’t have to walk my dog, Frank, in the dark.  I’ve also worked my business so that I don’t walk any of my customers dogs in the dark either.  For me personally, I can’t keep a dog safe if I can’t see all around me.  As I walk dogs that are reactive (including my own) it’s really important to have a clear view so that I can distract the dog I’m walking, if need be, or move in a different direction.

If you walk your dog off lead, then this makes dark walks a bit more challenging but not impossible.  There are plenty of hi vis coats, collars and leads available for your dog.  There are also lights that you can clip on to your dog’s collar.  It might also be worth putting an extra tag, or something that will make a noise when your dog is moving round so you can at least hear them. 

If you are going out for a walk with just you and your dog at night, try and always let somewhere know where you are and how long you will be out for.  There are different kind of apps for your phone so that it can be tracked if that makes you feel safer.  It is best practise to walk in an area with street lights, but always worthwhile popping a small torch in your pocket or think about a head lamp (I know what you are thinking, sexy!) This is also a time when you should not have earphones in.

Although you may not be able to walk your dog off lead, when it is dark,  it’s much better to be safe.  Your dog can and will benefit from a walk on lead.  Keep the long walks off lead to the weekend or when you can get out in the daylight.

If your job means that you won’t see daylight during the working week, now is the perfect time to think about a dog walker. A dog walker can get your dog out in the daylight and let your dog off lead, if applicable. Yes, it will cost you some money, but you will be giving your dog an adventure rather than just a stroll round the dark pathways.

We have already talked about what you can buy for your dog to be seen, but what about you? You could wear something that has got reflective material on it.  Lots of sportswear has this on. Think about appropriate footwear for dark walks.  You may not always see what is on the ground so footwear that is flat and has a grip on will help.

Here are some links to reflective dog collars, collar lights and hi-vis jackets for dogs just for ideas, always do your research for what is best for your dog. The ones shown are just a very small selection that are available.  Many retailers sell similar products.

Reflective dog collar

Reflective coat

Lights for dog collars

Please keep you and your dog safe.

Love Sally xx

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

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.

Why you need to stop walking your dog in the afternoon heat

Hot weather brings out the worst in people in my humble opinion.

We are all feeling hot, sweaty, had enough of the bugs and tired because it’s too hot to sleep which makes some of us a bit grumpy. Me included.

However what the heat also does to some people is that it fries their brains and renders them unable to make a sensible, informed decision.

This is now my fourth summer as a professional dog walker and I’m still seeing the same stupid and irresponsible actions taken by some dog owners.

On my page earlier this week I talked about a woman walking her long haired German Shepherd dog in the afternoon. And it was hot, bloody hot let me tell you.

However, playing devils advocate I suggested that the woman was under the belief that the hottest part of the day was between 12 and 2. Doctors and sun cream makers have been ramming it down our throats for years to stay out of the sun during those times. So it stands to reason that we may believe that to be the hottest time.

In fact it’s the time the sun is at is strongest. The hottest part of the day is actually between 3-4pm. If you think of the sun as an portable heater, go on just for me! Now that heater is on full whack. It’s at the top of the stairs.

You are at the bottom of the stairs. It’s warm but it’s bearable even though it’s on full whack because it’s way above you.

Now imagine that heater on full whack on the fourth step from the bottom. Chances are that you are going to be feeling pretty hot now as it’s in your face.

As the sun moves from its midday position it warms the ground up more. By 3-4pm the temperature is at its hottest. The sun’s heat has been building up since midday and more heat is present at the surface than what is leaving it.

So potentially you could be causing your dog more damage on an afternoon walk than a lunchtime walk, depending on the overall temperature of course.

What should you do then?

How about not walking them? I know it’s a crazy concept isn’t it, especially from someone who earns her living from walking dogs.

And yes I have lost money this week. It’s a fine balance between the welfare of the dogs and earning enough money to pay the bills.

Keep your knickers on though. Of course, dog welfare comes first. I take into account things like owners going on holiday, being ill and extreme weather, and I charge my prices accordingly.

Some dog walkers don’t and maybe that’s why they still walk the dogs in the crazy hot heat. Devils advocate again. I need to stop making excuses for them, they have obviously lost their minds. 

I’ve heard some dog walkers say that the owners haven’t asked them not to walk their dog. Well big fat face slap to them idiots. 

Yes they are idiots. And not very business savvy. I have it in my contract with my owners about extreme weather. Unless an owner cancels their dogs walk then it will be my decision on whether that walk goes ahead.

I don’t lose one bit of sleep over it either (mainly because it’s too hot to sleep, but you know what I mean!)

For me it’s simple, I treat my owners dogs like I treat my own. You must realise how attached we become to the dogs we regularly walk. I talk all the time about relationship building and it’s not just the dog being comfortable with us. 

For that half hour, 45 minutes or 60 minutes that dog is mine. My mate, my companion, my responsibility, my everything. 

So it stands to reason that I’m going to do right by them. I’m lucky that I have a great relationship with my owners as well. Not one of them has ever had to ask me not to walk their dog.

Because I’ve already made that decision and they respect that I’m doing it out of care and welfare for their dogs.

There are plenty of blogs and articles out there about how to keep your dog cool. 

I have to be different. The message isn’t getting through. 

For me it’s about realising that you don’t need to walk your dog in this heat even if you or the dog wants it.

I grew up on that saying “I wants, don’t gets.”

It’s all about the dogs needs, and they can happily survive without a walk.

If I’m prepared to lose money, and I’m not talking the odd fiver here, for the welfare of a dog then you should take my advice and keep your dog at home.

They won’t die. They literally won’t die from not walking. If you do decide to walk them please set your alarm and take them out real early. 6am is a beautiful time to walk your dog on those toasty days. And don’t forget to take plenty of water with you. For your dog. They might let you have a slurp if you give them your best human eyes!

Love, Sally xx