ROMANIAN RESCUE DOG – 5 ways to help them settle in

Congratulations! You have just adopted a Romanian Rescue Dog, you are a superstar! You have saved that dog from a life on the streets or even worse the kill shelter.

But are you really prepared for them to join your family in your home?

Because let’s be clear, they aren’t the average rescue dog that you will find in our rescue centres here in the UK. A lot of those dogs have never lived in houses before.

Most Rommie’s haven’t ever known a home. They have never known dinner time. It’s unlikely that they have never experienced being loved and cared for. They may have been beaten. Quite probably, they may have been starved.

I’ve got 5 sure-fire ways to help your new Romanian rescue dog settle in their new home.

1. A safe place for their bed

Romanian Rescue Dog safe

Your new dog may never have experienced a plush dog before. Whilst they are getting acclimatised to living in a home and all the soft comforts it brings I recommend buying a single quilt and cover and fold it into half and half again.

If your new dog has a toilet accident it’s easy to wash. It will also provide cushioning for them if they are on the thin side.

It’s also relatively cheap in case your Rommie decides that they would like to chew it up and destroy it.

Remember you don’t know yet how your Romanian rescue dog is going to react to the situation they have found themselves in.

But the bed you choose for your dog isn’t as important as where you put it. It needs to be somewhere that will purely be for your dog and your dog alone.

This could be a space under the stairs or a quiet corner of a room. It shouldn’t be anywhere near where you are walking in and out of a room. A crate is ideal, and again should be placed in a quiet area of the house.

Whatever you choose it needs to be a sanctuary for your new dog. It needs to be somewhere quiet, away from any other dogs or small children.

2. Leave your Romanian rescue dog alone

Romanian street dog

I know it’s exciting to have them home and you want to stroke, cuddle and play with you new arrival but let’s just think about it.

If your dog has come direct from Romania then they have had a hell of a journey. Seriously, they have been travelled for ages.  They would have been crated, apart from comfort breaks all that time.  They would have endured being handled by different people and been on different types of transportation.

They are going to be very tired, and likely to be a shell shocked.  It’s also unlikely that they have never been inside a home before so imagine having to deal with that too.

Not only that but you will undoubtedly be talking to them in a language that they may not have heard before.  They may have a name, but it would have been given to them when they were put up for rehoming.  They won’t necessarily associate the name with themselves.

Basically, they have been through a huge ordeal and they need time to decompress.  Time to rest from all the stress of their journey to you. So leave them alone, if they come up to you wanting fuss then that’s great, give them some fuss.  Be led by them.

3. No visitors

Sad romanian dog

Ok, I know you have been patiently waiting for your new dog to arrive.  No doubt you have been sharing photos and the news of your new arrival.  But just ask everyone to stay away for a few days.

As I previously said your dog needs time to decompress.  They are shell shocked.  The last thing they need is umpteen people coming through the house petting them and calling them over.

There will be plenty of time for that.

And just from a safety point of few it’s good to keep people away whilst you are getting to know your dog.  The rehoming charity may have prepped you with what characteristics your dog has, but be warned, some have not spent any real time with your dog.  They have made a call on what your dog is like with little time spent with the dog. 

Your dog may have been advertised as dog friendly but could be reactive to others.  They could have been described as child friendly but in fact they jump up at everyone.

Use this time to get to know your dog, everyone else will have their time at a later date.

4. No walks yet for your Romanian rescue dog

Rommie dog

I know that you can’t wait to get your new family member out and about.  I bet you have got them a really smart collar and lead for the occasion too.  But, as I mentioned earlier, they have had a stressful journey to get to you. 

For some it will be more stressful than others, but either way your dog needs time to rest and get over their journey to you.  They need time to get to know their new surroundings and work out who the hell you are.

It takes a dog at least 72 hours to decompress.  They will be feeling overwhelmed.  Of course they could be feeling scared.  They may not be relaxed enough to be their selves.  Possibly they may not want to eat or drink.  They could completely shut down as a way to help them cope with the stress they are going through.

So the last thing they need is the stress of a walk and potential situations that they have never encountered before like traffic, reactive dogs, screaming children or squirrels.  In fact they may have never been on a lead walk before so even just putting on a lead or harness could be a huge ordeal for them.

Give them that time, or more if they need it to chill out and relax.

5. Leave the lead on

Romanian Rescue Dog

Most newly adopted dogs are at risk of escaping in the first few weeks in their new home and environment.

For Rommies that have survived on the street, they will be very skilled at getting out of places.  That 6ft fence may be no issue for them.  Honest.  I know it’s hard to believe that the little dog you have just rehomed could possibly get over that 6ft fence, but a stressed dog is capable of many things if they feel threatened.

So, the best thing to do is to pop a lead on them whenever you take them into the garden to reduce that risk till your dog is feeling safe in their home.

FREE Brain Games eBook

If you would like to work towards building an awesome relationship with your dog you can sign up here to my free eBook, Engage & Entertain,

In it you will find games that not only work your dog’s brain, tires them out but also really helps them focus on you.

Originally written to help owners with their dogs during the first Lockdown when we we were limited to going out once a day, this eBook has also been beneficial to owners of newly adopted dogs.

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” and “Dazzle Your Dog” You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

4 ways to protect your puppy from dog theft

Dog theft is on the rise - is your dog safe?

One of the things that has been on the rise as we come out of lockdown is dog theft. In particular puppies are being stolen in high quantities.

Lockdown saw a huge demand for puppies. For many prospective pet owners, it was the ideal time to welcome a puppy into their homes.

Most people were at home, either working from home or on furlough which meant puppy wasn’t on their own for too long, which is ideal when you are teaching puppy a new routine, toilet training and generally how to be a good pup!

Sadly, this meant that some unscrupulous people saw this as a way to make money. And lots of it. Prices of puppies ridiculously increased due to the demand, simultaneously causing dog theft to rise.  In fact, according to Dog Lost there was a 65% rise in dog thefts during lockdown compared with last year.

So, what can you do to protect your puppy?  I have come up with 4 ways for you to help keep puppy safe.

haverhill puppy

1. Don't splash them all over social media

I know they are incredibly cute, and you want everyone to see your beautiful fur baby but you could potentially put your pet at risk.

Instead, why not set up a private Facebook group. You can invite trusted friends and family to see your puppy’s adventures that way.

Or set up an Instagram page for your pet. Just make sure your location is never shown on the post and be careful about giving away your location in photos. Of course, you could always make your account private.

And be careful with hashtags. If you are wondering what hashtags are, they are basically an easy way to find what you are looking for on the internet. So if you use a hashtag such as #newpuppy you could be making it easier for them to be targeted.

dog theft haverhill

2. Make sure you never leave your dog unattended in the garden

Yes you want them to go out as they need to but you have to keep an eye on them.  Always. A lot of dog thefts are opportunistic. You could be busy on the phone, puppy is in the garden and suddenly they are gone.

Gardens are the most likely place for dogs to be stolen for. Which is just awful. The Pet Theft Census reveals that 52% off dogs are stolen from gardens.

Likewise make sure your garden in secure. Don’t just rely on a bolt at the top of your garden. Put a padlock on it. Then add another bolt and padlock further down your gate where no arm can reach over to.

Whilst you are making it secure make sure that you have got lights in your garden to.  Security camera can get on your nerves by keep going on and off, but they do that for a purpose.

If you have a low fence, then now is the time to invest in a 6ft fence.

Puppy security

3. Set up a security system

I know it seems a bit drastic but you have no doubt paid a lot of money for your puppy so pay out a bit more to keep them secure.

Set up a security camera on the approach to your house. Depending on what sort of house you have then you certainly should consider adding more cameras to the side and back of the house.

At the very least put up some dummy cameras and out notices up on your back gate and fence to say your property is protected but take down any that say you have a dog.

dog theft suffolk

4. Be vigilant on walks

As I said earlier most puppy thefts are opportunistic so walks out are just as much of a threat.

Make sure puppy has a dog tag on (it’s the law – you can read more about that here.) It maybe an idea to have a couple of tags so that you can hear puppy jingling when they move.

Only let puppy of the lead if they have unquestionable recall. Can they resist the lure of steak from an unknown person?

Take your puppy to a secure dog field for off the lead fun. Go to local classes to work up to that awesome recall. In the meantime use a long lead for a bit of leeway.

Our duty of care to our dogs are to keep them safe. Especially more so to a vulnerable, unworldly young puppy. Yes you may have to invest to keep your puppy safe, but wouldn’t you rather they were with you all their life than just for a few weeks?

We cover recall in all our puppy and adult dog classes.  It’s never too late to work on recall.  Find out more about our classes here

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

Social distancing for life

Why I will keep social distancing long after it's lifted

Social distancing with dogs has been something I’ve been doing for years. And when social distancing was implemented back in March, it was something I found relatively easy to do.

You see I have never been one for close contact with people. Hugging is not my thing. Kissing someone on the cheek that I hardly know. Hell no. Although if someone instigates either then I do reciprocate, I’m not a rude person.

However if you happen to be a dog that I know that wants kissing and hugging, then I’m first in line. Obviously

For years I’ve been preaching to dog owners about giving dogs on a lead a wide berth.

As the owner of a reactive dog and a professional walker of many reactive dogs, I know they need space. It’s not just reactive dogs that need space, they should all be able to have it.

So when the lockdown and social distancing rules were brought into place, I was relieved for the owners of dogs everywhere.

Yet I wonder why some dog owners can be so thoughtless. Why they feel the need to barge in to you or demand that their dog says hello to the one you are with.

social distancing

As a car driver I give way to other cars. I’m considerate, I don’t drive right up their backsides. When I stop at a zebra crossing, I happily stop before someone has stepped on the crossing.

And you know what, I’m mostly rewarded for it with a thank you.

I don’t sit at pelican crossings revving up my car with over exaggerating sighing as someone quickly runs over as the bleeps go.

I repeat, I’m considerate.

Horses get plenty of space

I’ve recently moved to a village near Newmarket in Suffolk. If you don’t know Newmarket, it’s famous for one thing.

Horse racing.

As I drive through the town in the morning, I often see the horses on their way to the gallops for their exercise. They gently trot from their relative studs and make their way across the town.

Now in Newmarket, everybody gives way to the horses. It’s the unwritten law of the town.  And it is strictly obeyed. The town has been set up to make this easier, but people still have to stick to that unwritten rule.

The horses have their own pelican crossings. There are flashing lights at another crossing to alert you that horses are about to cross.

They even have their own path, and get this, us humans have to walk on the outside closest to the road.

The jockeys are very considerate too. Most of the horses exercise with other horses from their studs so they often travel through the town in groups.

Every single jockey puts their hand up to thank you for giving way. To both directions of traffic.  They really appreciate you giving the horses space as it keeps the horses calm and safe.

These horses are worth a fortune so the last thing anyone wants is for them to get upset and start bolting.

social distancing

Give me space please

I just wish people were as considerate to dog walkers and in particular to the dogs.

One thing I always do is to  give way to pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers and joggers when I’m walking with dogs. I know that they can scare dogs. A cyclist suddenly going past you at speed can upset a dog.

The appearance of a jogger who doesn’t want to slow down their pace can be intimidating. A pedestrian who is striding along in the middle of a pathway, oblivious to their surroundings.

Good job I’m giving way then.

And I have to say I rarely get a thank you. Which makes me sad. But I can live with that.

I just wish more people would allow plenty of space when out and about. So for me I will keep practising social distancing when out and about long after it’s lifted.

Will you be joining me?

Check out my corona support page for ways to help you and your dog during this pandemic.

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

Barking dog driving you crazy?

One of the things I’ve noticed since being at home because of the lockdown, is that I seem to be surrounded by a barking dog at every angle.

And to my horror, sometimes it is Frank that is setting them all off barking. Thanks Frank.

Too be fair as I’m walking round that is sometimes all that is needed to set some dogs off.  I can always hear when the postman is approaching too.  Bark, bark, woof woof.  Yep that postie has his own personal calling card.

I live next door to a beagle.  He seems to be fine, except for his penchant for howling.  I know it’s a breed thing, but he only does it at night, usually around 11pm.  Which is annoying as it sounds, let me tell you.

The thing is I’m quite a relaxed neighbour and I let that go because it’s not incessant barking.  It’s just the one howl (takes me back to reading 101 dalmatians as a child and the howling hour!)  But if that dog was to repeatedly bark when she was, out or all the time in the garden, then I would say something because it would be impacting on me.

And you may well have a barker, and you may even be quite accepting of your dog’s barking. It’s their breed, oh he is quiet inside, she doesn’t like men, he doesn’t like the postman or even she’s ok. But is it really ok to leave a dog barking?

Some bark out of boredom, others out of fear.  But with time on our hand, now is the perfect opportunity to start working towards resolving that barking problem.

So, I got hold of my good friend and barking specialist Claire  and put some of your questions about barking dogs to her.

DOG BARKING

Barking dog Q & A with Claire Lawrence

1) Since lockdown my dog has started barking in the house but not outside. Why are they barking and what can I do about it?

You’re not alone! Even my dogs have been testing barking in the house and here’s a couple of reasons why it could be happening. 

Attention. With more people around and interactions to be had, dogs (especially more barky breeds) can learn to use barking as a secret weapon to get that eye contact from you. That’s all it takes to tell them its worked! If your dog is barking and it’s in your direction, chances are its attention based. 

Most attention seeking barking comes down to a lack of mental stimulation. So increase those sniffing games and make sure your dog is having some down time away from you throughout the day when you’d normally be at work. 

Has it really just started? Or have they been alert barking to things passing your front window for longer than you’ve realised? Dog who bark out of the window are normally either alerting you to a potential threat they’ve spotted. Or perhaps they’re bored and find the barking at things fun to do. 

The best thing to start doing with either of these is to prevent your dog from being able to see out of the window/where they’re barking. Again teach them to come into that room and lie down in their bed or perform another behaviour you deem acceptable. 

2) My dog has always been a barker, and I’ve worked really hard on minimise this. I’m really concerned about that all going to pot when lockdown is over and the world and its wife are out and all our good work is going to be gone. What can I do to minimise that?

Depending on why the barking was/is happening will determine the best approach to take. All I can really say here is if what you were doing before the lockdown was working to reduce or at least manage the barking, then I’d say to continue doing what you were doing. If at any point it starts getting work, don’t hesitate in seeking out a trainer. This will dramatically increase your chances of it not escalating with the right professional. 

3) Now I’m home all day and the weather has been nice my dog has turned into a barking maniac. He starts barking at other dogs in the garden, which sets off all the other dogs in their gardens. I don’t want to keep the door shut in the nice weather, but I don’t want to be responsible for the barking hour either. What can I do?

I can understand not wanting to shut the doors to the garden, but in which case I’d recommend moving your dog into a room where he can’t go in and out at his own leisure. Otherwise the barking will escalate. 

I would recommend that when your dog needs to go out, you pop his lead on before you go out, give him a treat and show him you’ve got some more. Go outside with him and keep his attention on you. Rewarding and telling him he’s doing a great job keeping his focus on you, opposed to the distractions. 

DOG BARKING

4) My dog is barking more and more for my attention now I’m home. I try to ignore her. I take her to her bed without interacting too much. When she stops barking, I will try and give her something to do like a kong. However, it’s not working. I need about 50 kongs to keep her quiet.

I’m afraid even taking her to the bed has already highly likely rewarded this attention barking behaviour. Keep a diary for a week of what times, and when she kicks off barking at you. Then you will start to see some patterns which can aid in your following weeks training of getting the Kong or treat training time in before she starts barking. 

There are usually clear signs or what we call ‘triggers’ that are encouraging her to bark. 

5) My dog is a big barker. Now I’ve got some time on my hands I want to see if I can get his barking under control. What’s the best place to start?

Firstly, I wish I read many more of these statements. Lockdown has pretty much given us a barking dog training gift. If you aren’t using this time to put extra work into helping your dog with their barking issue, you’ll have missed a massive trick. 

Start with your treats, toys and relationship building. Get your dog to have all eyes on you with whatever it takes reward wise to get there. Start in a low distraction environment and build it up week by week. 

I’d also be being modest if I didn’t say to check out more of what I offer. So, be sure to take a look at the three barking dog books I’ve written. I also host a weekly podcast show with a sh*t tonne of information in relevant to barking dogs. Find out more here.

Claire Lawrence is an ADTI SCDP Dog Training Instructor, author of books ‘3 Steps To Silence’ and ‘You’d Be Barking Mad Not To!’, UK events speaker and winner of ‘IMPACT’ Pet Business Of The Year Award 2019.

If you would like to hear more from Claire, then book a ticket to her 3 Steps to Silence Barking Dog seminar.  Claire will be delivering this seminar in Haverhill, Suffolk on Saturday 12th September this year!

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 Separation Anxiety affects your dog

How separation anxiety affects your dog and how to avoid it

Last Friday I had what could only be described as an unremarkable day.

Like a lot of people at the moment, there isn’t much going on that marks the days as anything other. Except apart from those odd days when you become a published author!

So back to Friday. I am struggling with what I was actually doing. Possibly my cat first aid course.

James was decorating. It was hot and we had planned to have a BBQ but in the end the clean up of the said decorating took longer than expected.

Yes it’s all coming back to me now.

We had pizza instead for dinner and we watched House as we wanted to get season 5 finished. No other telly had been watched that day. I don’t even think we had the radio on.

Why exactly am I telling you about Friday? Well it’s to show that it was a very average day. But it was far from an average night. 

No, not like that. Minds out of the gutter please!

I had a nightmare. Yes, at the grand old age of almost 46, I had a full on, nightmare.

I woke up scared out of my brain. My heart was thumping, I felt panicked. It was horrible.

James got woken up because I needed to try and calm myself. Because even though I was awake I could still feel the nightmare. And the thing was I woke myself up from my nightmare to escape it, but I was still very much trapped by it.

The time was 1.30am.

Once I got over the initial fright. I tried to go back to sleep. Except I was too scared. I was too scared to sleep at almost 46.

So, I went downstairs and made some tea and toast and popped the telly on. I needed to forget about my nightmare. I watched a couple of episodes of New Amsterdam (I really do like medical dramas!) and then decided it was time to sleep again.

By then it was 6am. And I was still petrified to sleep.

But I fell asleep for about an hour and a half. And when I woke up all I could think about was that nightmare.

In fact, it makes me uncomfortable writing about it now 5 days on. And yes, I’ve had more sleepless nights around it.

My nightmare, my reaction and my thoughts after it are actually remarkably similar to a dog who is suffering separation anxiety.

Imagine you are a dog who has had mum and dad always at home with them.

Then one day mum and dad say goodbye and tell you to be a good boy and then they close a door. Hang on you can’t find them. You look for them. You call for them.

You realise mum and dad have gone out without you. You are panicking. If you are shut in a room you may start trying to escape (destruction.) Or calling (barking) for help.

Hours later mum and dad are back. You stick to them like glue. Then the next day it happens again. That very thing that made you petrified has come round again.

This time it’s worse because you know what had happened the day before and you are already feeling anxious about it. You are even more distraught than the day before.  

And so it gets repeated and the anxiety in your dog grows till it becomes such a problem that you have to find a way to not leave your dog alone.

That’s not as easy as it sounds because we have to work, we have to shop, we have relatives to care for, kids to pick up from school.  But those 5 minutes that you just pop out to get a loaf can become so detrimental to your dog’s well being.

The thing is we have completely screwed up our dog’s routine by being at home because of the lockdown.  Of course, we can’t help it, we are doing it for the greater good after all.

We shouldn’t expect our dogs to just bounce back into that old routine either.  It takes us as humans between 21/28 days to establish a new routine/habit.  21 days of going to the gym, 21 days of not smoking, 21 days of drinking 2lt of water a day till it becomes the “normal.”  Till we do it without thinking. 

The same thing applies to your dog for a new routine, although timings may be a bit different.

Whats next?

Well how are we going to solve the problem of our dogs having us around 24/7 to suddenly gone for hours?

How about watching the replay of the webinar I did back in May? In it I give your tips that you can put in place now to ensure your dog does not get distressed when things go back to normal.

It’s completely free so you have nothing to lose but everything to gain for ensuring your dog is calm when you do finally have to leave them for a period of time. Just click here to get the details to join.

You can also find tips in my book “The Lockdown Dog” and on my Corona Support  dedicated web page

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 is the author of “The Lockdown Dog” book, 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 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

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

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