Is Kibble killing your dog?

Regardless of what you feed your dog s/he won’t live forever. But, surely, you want your furpal to live as long as their span potentially could be?

In which case, because you love your dog you give them a good quality kibble, maybe one of the grain free varieties – right? After all, Vets recommend kibble, it’s easy to feed, your dog likes it - everyone’s happy.

Except…… there is a sinister side to feeding kibble – one of which I knew nothing until I recently saw this video presentation by Dr Becker. Dr Becker is a highly qualified Vet, she teaches and lectures worldwide to pet parents, progressive veterinarians, industry professionals and students. She is committed to improving corporate transparency and food quality within the Pet Food Industry, as well as the nutritional standards currently utilised for commercial pet food.

During her presentation Dr Becker’s highlights that at a time when we humans are being encouraged to eat better – to eat fresh, whole and unprocessed foods, fruits and vegetables, we are feeding our dogs the opposite – a diet for their whole lives of highly processed meal, Kibble - the fast food of the canine world.

She explains by introducing fresh foods your dog will reap the benefits by being on the way to better health, with less skin allergies, and maybe even avoid cancers and other chronic diseases.

THE STUDY Finnish vets did study on effects of different foods fed to dogs.

Dogs that had only ever eaten kibble in their lifetime were moved to raw food -  in just 3 months there was an 81% reduction in disease markers in their blood stream.

Dogs that in their whole lifetime had only ever been fed raw food were moved to a totally  processed food diet – kibble.  After 3 months they had an ASTONISHING 353% increase in disease markers in their blood stream.

The results of these scientific studies prove irrefutably that dogs fed only on kibble are far less healthy than they might be. Basically, pet parents are unknowingly killing their dogs with the convenience of kibble.

 FYI the presentation is 16 minutes duration, but the facts about diet (which I found most interesting) are to be heard around 8 minutes in. It was then Dr Becker gives the truly astounding facts about what fast/processed foods - in other words kibble - does to your dog’s health.

I believe every caring dog owner should listen to Dr Becker, click here for the full video to decide for yourself.

 https://youtu.be/e37kolQ_-dY

Dr Becker gives good news which is that when even as little as 20% processed kibble is removed, and in its place 20% of fresh raw food added to your dogs bowl, health improvements can be made.

MAKING THE CHANGE TO IMPROVE YOUR DOGS WELFARE

Even if kibble was not doing such harm - you wouldn’t want the same food, day in day out – and there are alternatives.

A home made raw and fresh diet is a great option. The downside is that it’s time consuming to buy and prepare – a factor which could put some people off giving it a go.

The ideal – which is now available - is a top quality raw & fresh diet delivered ready prepared direct to your home. It will work out more costly than kibble, but this way provides nutritious food to give your pet the best chance to achieve optimum health – and it is really convenient and easy too.

Below are three options. Two are commercial raw fresh food companies I highly recommend. (Note -  I have no commercial interest in either company nor do I benefit financially from recommending them).

The third option is an outstanding ‘home made’ raw food recipe which has been kindly provided by on of my clients who owns Bella a black Lab. Bella has the best coat you’ve ever seen which of itself highly suggestive that this diet is a great one.

GOING FRESH & RAW

 OPTION 1 - BARF

"BARF" is an acronym for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”.

The BARF company were one of the first to start making and selling raw food and their product is great. However, I don’t think they deliver and as the BARF brand is not widely stocked in pet shops it can be tricky to find.

http://barfaustralia.com

 

OPTION 2 - RAW & FRESH

 Right here on the Central Coast we are fortunate to have an excellent local raw food company  - Raw & Fresh. This young company was started up by a dog owing family and they have a growing customer base for their great products. The best thing is they deliver to your door weekly - freshly prepared, portion size packs, with recipes you select for your dog. Variety as well as goodness.

https://rawandfresh.com.au

 This is Shadow’s daily pack. Staying with me for a month the company delivered her supply to me so she stayed on her healthy food.

This is Shadow’s daily pack. Staying with me for a month the company delivered her supply to me so she stayed on her healthy food.

 

OPTION 3 - HOME MADE

 Here’s Sandy’s recipe for her beautiful black Lab, Bella:

carrots
zucchini
apples
beans
broccoli
whiz in kitchen blender - 

add cooked rice

add chopped meat of choice

add optional 2-3 chicken necks

You’d need a food processor and make enough for a few days only so the ingredients remain fresh.

PS Dogs can take a while to get used to the veges and you can experiment with amounts and also how finely you whiz it.



HERE ARE SOME OF DR BECKER’S POINTS TAKEN FROM HER VIDEO PRESENTATION.

Over the last 100 years in modern society there has been a dramatic increase in processed food which we and our children eat. Difference between kids and dogs - kids still get some access to fresh food on a daily basis, dogs do not.

There is a $75 billion a year pet industry in America

It’s all about fast food - and Its really fast - open larder door, dump food in bowl - done

Yet humans are told we are told eat less junk food, avoid processed, instead eat 5 fruits a day and eat more vegetables and real unprocessed whole foods.

Yet when it comes to our dogs Vets recommend just the opposite. Dr Becker said vets are taught in vet school to only recommend highly processed foods (kibble) for animals’ entire lives

Vets taught to never recommend fresh or whole foods

Yet animals have never eaten that way in the history - ever - until now

96% people do exactly what they are told and feed an entirely processed/kibble diet to their dogs from the time they are weaned to the time that they die

But what above other 4%?

That tiny 4% represent fasted growing segment of pet food industry  - people buying commercially available frozen fresh food

 This small group recognises their animals need more than highly processed food as they are well aware of the disease epidemic of Diabetes, Obesity and Cancer in dogs - which is mirrored in humans

 THE FINNISH VETS STUDY - a reminder

Dogs that had only eaten kibble in their lifetime were moved to raw food -  in just 3 months there was an 81% reduction in disease markers in their blood stream

Dogs that in their whole life had only been fed raw food were given  processed food – kibble. After 3 months they had an ASTONISHING 353% increase in disease markers

One result was that skin immune resistance better in those fed on raw food

People are now looking to use food as medicine to address myriad of chronic diseases plaguing our dogs

They are choosing to add a little bit of fresh food to restore health or prevent illness occurring in their pets.

DOG TREATS: If buying ready made treats avoid those that have a long ingredients panel, or contain foods you don’t understand or cannot pronounce. Ideally replace commercial treats with your own fresh food versions.

The best foods are found in the pantry or fridge. Here are good snacks:

Blueberries

Sunflower seeds

almonds

carrots

pecan nuts

apples

courgettes

 Dogs are reflections of our life style and it’s our responsibility to choose wisely for them.

Dr Becker’s own website:

http://drkarenbecker.com/Educator/

 

FINALLY, if you are still reading this far (!) for what it’s worth for my own dogs my personal feeding regime would be 80% raw food with just 20% grain free kibble (such as Black Hawk) but only because the kibble will have the vitamins, minerals, and trace elements that a dog needs added into it - plus it’s useful for the teeth to have crunch.

MY TREATS

I  give dogs in my care various treats: –

Cooked chicken, cooked liver/offal and often dehydrate my treats after I’ve first cooked them (recipe is on my website). However, there is one dog food that I use as dog treats - Trade name Ziwi Peak. This is very high quality meat/fish which has been air dried. I would not feed it as full time diet as it is super expensive and high protein, but I think it is outstanding for treats and easy to carry with you.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Until next time, wishing happy health to your hound – and you!

Maralyn



 Bella, Leo, Lady, Hugo,Amber and little Misty - all being rewarded with treats at the end of a fun adventure walk (usually only have 4 dogs but this was a changeover day)

Bella, Leo, Lady, Hugo,Amber and little Misty - all being rewarded with treats at the end of a fun adventure walk (usually only have 4 dogs but this was a changeover day)




The real reason Vets won't tell you your dog is overweight!

Having looked after literally 1000’s of dogs over the years I'd say that, to a greater or lesser extent, over half are carrying too many Kilos. Yet when it comes to devoted dog owners who  only want the best for their VIP, the number who are willing to acknowledge their pooch is a bit of a porker is very small.

If I raise the subject the most common response I hear is  “Oh no, we’ve seen the vet and the Vet said his/her weight is fine” This shut down reply has the subtext:  ‘What do you know - the Vet has to be right, all those years studying etc etc?’

This common answer used to really puzzle me. When a dog is obviously too heavy, why are vets not telling owners to put their dogs on a diet?. One cynic I know said to me that because fat dogs are more prone to health problems they bring more money to their Vet! I think that's unfair. However,  I believe I have worked out the reason some Vets fail to tell owners their dog needs to lose weight.  

Every Veterinary business has a lot of competition and if they upset clients - who then go elsewhere - it hits profits. So Vets have to be careful about telling clients what they don’t what they hear - even though it is for the good of their dog. 

Owners will typically say to their Vets: ‘I don’t think she’s overweight do you, she’s just mature now?’ or ‘I feed him the same as I always did and I don't give him too many treats, he has a good diet’. Vets pick up on cues like this and are quick to realise they have an owner in denial.

A couple of years ago I had a gorgeous but massive Labrador on her first stay with me. She was a sweetie, but in my judgment she was 10 kilos over weight – possibly a lot more. This huge amount of weight was restricting her. She struggled moving around and could not get into my car without help. On our active exercise sessions she found the heat more of a problem than the other dogs and huffed and puffed even just walking.

Given how she struggled physically, when the owners collected her I felt I had to raise the subject. But I was floored when I got the reply that ‘the vet said she’s not overweight’.

Come on! Some dogs are just a little heavy, but this girl was obese. I couldn’t believe a vet would say such an obviously fat dog was OK. Maybe she was just saying that to shut me up. But then again, with the frost that came over the room when I said it to her, it was plain I'd hit a sore spot. She seemed furious with me for daring to raise this which she clearly considered ‘not my business’. If she was the same with her Vet, you could see why they might back off.

Despite the fact her dog had had a wonderful time at the Hound Dog Hotel I never heard from them again. She was lovely so I was sad about that. But I do this for fun and am so busy,  often turning people away, that whilst a disappointment it didn’t matter.

But can you imagine if a vet running a commercial enterprise with big overheads tells 50% of their clients their dog is overweight? They cannot afford to alienate one out of two of their customer base.

These days I still mention it if I think a dog could benefit from being leaner. However, no matter how tactful I try to be this subject still tends to prompt a defensive reaction. The difference is once I have raised it if an owner chooses not to act on it then I say nothing more because it is their dog and their responsibility.

EASY WAY TO MONITOR WEIGHT
One thing I definitely don’t want is a Hound Dog Hotel guest going home heavier than when they arrived. Unlikely as they get so much exercise. However, doggie guests do get regular treats so I adjust their main meal portions (the same food they have at home) by reducing it a little to take into account the extra food they get through treats. 

But for longer stays of 3+ weeks to keep feeding/exercise in strict balance I measure their waist on day one and repeat the measure weekly – a great way of keeping an objective record.

TIP
From the age of around two the puppy stage is over and fast growing has settled. It is usually then when dogs are fully mature the weight can start to increase. But when you see your dog every day it’s easy to miss the weight creeping on.

To monitor when they reach about 2 (assuming they are not already overweight) take your dog’s waist measurement on a regular basis (every couple of weeks or monthly). This way you can ensure your dog is not getting fatter without you noticing.

In the meantime, if you want to know the truth as to whether your dog is overweight, don’t ask a Vet, ask me!

PS Not all owners are blind to their dog being heavier than ideal. Some – Coco’s owner is one - raised the subject with me and asked if I could help them with Coco’s weight. During her 3 weeks stay she had heaps of exercise and her food reduced just a little and she lost quite a few kilos – the family were thrilled.

 Coco is a Cattle Dog x Jack Russell she has traits of herding like a cattle dog and the smart as a whip brain of a Jack Russell

Coco is a Cattle Dog x Jack Russell she has traits of herding like a cattle dog and the smart as a whip brain of a Jack Russell

 Coco at Umina with Izzy, Kuro and Hugo

Coco at Umina with Izzy, Kuro and Hugo

Walk Your Dog To Wellness

Every dog owner will know of a dog left in the garden for days, even weeks at a time. A poor creature alone and imprisoned with nothing to break the boredom, barking or crying in their frustration and misery.  

Owners of these dogs will often profess to love them. They will cite giving their dog fuss, treats and cuddles. But those actions are about giving pleasure to the owner - not of value to the dog.

Sadly there are too many owners failing in their responsibilities to their dog because they neglect to meet the most basic requirement – a dog’s need for quality exercise.

My dog of a lifetime, Harry (a German Shorthaired Pointer) never put a foot wrong and was just perfect in everyway. The only time he ever became destructive was following an injury when he had to be confined to the house for ‘bed rest’ for 2 weeks – at which point I caught him chewing and ripping up the carpet! But he never, ever, did that before and he never did it again once he was recovered and we got him back to his normal long daily outings.

TV programme presenters visiting unhappy or troubled ‘problem dogs’ invariably end up advising owners to exercise their dogs more often and for longer. One TV programme reported how obesity in dogs is dramatically on the increase. Apparently with busy lives more owners are taking their dogs out on leash for less time than ever, often only 20 minutes a day. Unless you are talking about a small, old dog anyone must know this is woefully inadequate.

Blaming Pooches resembling Porkers on lack of exercise researchers did a test to see if they could prove the point. They attached a GPS recorder to a dog allowed to run free as the owner walked. The stats showed the dog covered a distance 5 times further than the owner!  What a difference!

If as many as 90% of all dog related problems could be resolved by regular quality exercise sessions - what constitutes sufficient exercise?

As a guide, 45 mins (ideally 60 mins for medium/large breeds) of leash free exercise should take place every day. But at minimum three/four times a week. An exercised Fur Pal is a happier, more balanced dog. More exercise outside =  more settled, less whining and no longer destructive at home inside.

A dog that sleeps for hours when you get back from exercise is good indicator that they’re getting time appropriate exercise.

*******

At the Hound Dog Hotel active and stimulating exercise sessions are an integral part of the totality of my service - crucial for individual dog happiness and pack harmony.

But our outings are no walk in the park!  Hound Dog Hotel sessions are daily Epic Adventures, full of interaction with other dogs (and me) where there is fun and play. My focus in on challenging all my Dogs’ senses and enrich their experience with smells, water & swimming, ball chasing - and by keeping them on the move.

 GPS recording of the total time and the distance. I send owners these after every outing.

GPS recording of the total time and the distance. I send owners these after every outing.

 

These Epic Adventures are long in time and in distance. My Garmin GPS records I walk between 2 to 2.5 miles. Based on the TV programme saying off leash dogs do 5 times more than a walking human, my doggies guests could be doing 10 miles a day! No wonder they are such happy hounds!

An unexercised dog is stressed and tense. But dogs out running and playing burn off excess energy. Then, when they return to the Hotel, they’re calm and content, ready settle down to snooze as a member of a well adjusted and relaxed pack.  

Exercise sessions at the Hound Dog Hotel are key to the success of my service. The following accolade is taken from a reference from the owner of Ruben, a large and super energetic Boxer. What Lisa said is something of which I am particularly proud as it accurately sums up the exercise component of my service:

The “Walk” that Maralyn takes the dogs on each day is amazing, they get to run, play, swim and meet other dogs. It is NOT a 30-minute walk on a lead around the block. It’s a full on extensive exercise, play and stimulation session rolled into one.

Lisa & Barry owner of big bouncy Boxer RUBEN

Remember my Hound Dog Hotel motto and all will be well :

 A Happy Dog is a Tired Dog  -  A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog    

If you want your dog to be happy, tire them out, they’ll thank you with all their heart.

 

N.B. I place a high priority on dogs staying at the Hound Dog Hotel having recall - so on our outings they can run leash free.

 Golden Retrievers Charlie on the left, Herbie on the right, Kuro Cavoodle in the water plus a random!

Golden Retrievers Charlie on the left, Herbie on the right, Kuro Cavoodle in the water plus a random!

 Charlie the Golden Retriever, asleep the second he got into the car to go home!

Charlie the Golden Retriever, asleep the second he got into the car to go home!

Is Anything Cuter Than a Cavoodle?

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Is anything cuter than a Cavoodle? Read on to find the answer….

In my years as a Pet Sitter, and now offering elite dog accommodation at my Hound Dog Hotel on the Central Coast, I have cared for most breeds including many Cavoodles. And as beautiful little dogs, Cavoodles are wonderfully appealing. They’re not just exceptionally pretty, but cute and intelligent. Enchanting, it’s easy to  fall under the spell of such adorable bundles of fur, especially when you get your new puppy.

 Little Miss Coconut when she was a tiny puppy - who could resist?!

Little Miss Coconut when she was a tiny puppy - who could resist?!

But when a dog is tiny, cute and appealing - one problem is that it can be the hardest thing in the world not to spoil them.

With the best of intention owners heap love and fuss on these little fur baby dogs, yet just like chocolate, there can be too much of a good thing. What starts out as harmless can end up spoiling what can be terrific dogs.

Example, too much ‘protection’ (picking them up the second a bigger dogs comes into view) can create nervous dogs who have no confidence in social situations (see my previous blog on this here) and/or can end up developing separation anxiety. 

But more common with Cavoodles (and other small dogs) is when there are no boundaries or rules and suddenly you have a monster doggie Diva on your hands!

You must have seen them, the dogs allowed to ‘express themselves’ in every situation. Their antics start out amusing and are labeled cheeky. But it's like an ill-disciplined toddler in a restaurant - running amok and not taking any notice of what they’re told. The centre of attention but not in a good way, they end up mini tyrants - ruling the roost whose every whim has to be obeyed by their staff who serve them.

 Tiny Millie & Chloe who are super well adjusted and not nervous or afraid on walks

Tiny Millie & Chloe who are super well adjusted and not nervous or afraid on walks

Here are examples that are often considered normal or even cute in small dogs – but are simply signs of lack of appropriate training:

Jumping up/and or pawing at you for treats or their food
Not allowed – must sit quietly with all four feet on floor

Rushing around your feet and flying at their bowl as you set dinner down
Not allowed – must sit quietly with all four feet on floor and look you in the eye (not look at the bowl) and wait for your signal before they approach their bowl

Mouthing/nipping
Extremely common and very bad. I use various approaches to deal with this to find the one which works with each different dog

Allowed on the sofa or the bed (possibly refuse to get off without nipping)
Dogs inviting themselves onto furniture and Sofas = huge privilege. Dogs on beds think they run the world. I  would not allow dogs on sofas until they know their place. Go down on the floor with them until they are trained and well behaved enough so you invite them up when it suits you

Rushing to the door and/or barking and/or jumping up when visitors knock
Introduce pre-emptive techniques to break the habit

When walking your dog zig zags all over the place when on the lead
Dogs should walk consistently on one side - takes time but can be achieved

Dogs following you to every room in the house
Sorry, but this does not mean your dog adores you so much it cannot be without you for a second! Allowing a dog to be with you constantly and never teaching them to be left occasionally is a contributory factor to Anxiety Separation. Dogs have to learn to be alone sometimes. Time Out technique helpful

Barking/whining in the house or in the garden. Barking at noises outside, or barking at the tv, or for food or treats.
An Airline pilot in the UK killed a small terrier.  He needed sleep and had spoken to the owner and asked for their help to curb their dog’s continual high pitched yapping, but they ignored him.

This tragedy could have been avoided – a beloved pet was killed and the pilot lost his job. But this serves to demonstrate how much of a nuisance barking dogs can be. 

I have very personal experience of the intrusion and stress caused by a barking dog. In the UK I had two German Shorthaired Pointers who were trained to be quiet. My neighbour seeing how good my dogs were fell in love with them and it lead her to buy a puppy. However, as it matured her Spaniel barked so much eventually I could take no more and spoke to her. Her reaction? To say it didn’t bother her!

To her credit after I spoke to her she probably realised that his barking was bad and she did start controlling him and the situation improved..

Basics of good manners in puppies

When a puppy of just 5 months old (Sparky, a very pretty Cavoodle) arrived for a stay his owners showed me him taking a treat – but the second he saw it coming he jumped up and pawed and then snatched the food.

This was not good, so I said to the owners I would work with Sparky over the weekend to get him to sit still with all four paws on the floor before he got a treat. (This is vital basic step as sitting and waiting is the basis from which many other behaviours are trained.)

 This is Sparky now all grown up on one of his recent stays

This is Sparky now all grown up on one of his recent stays

When they collected Sparky they were delighted to see the change. Being a typical clever Cavoodle with the right cues he’d learned what I wanted in just two days.

That's the big plus about Cavoodles - they are smart. With me he learned fast that all the pawing and jumping got him nothing, only by sitting quietly did he get any reward.

There is so much I could write on this subject – but this is a blog and not a manual on 'How to Train your Dog'  So now it’s time to answer the question:

Is anything cuter than a Cavoodle?
YES! A well trained and obedient Cavoodle!

Please take the time to ensure you have a companion who enhances your life not a despot whose every whim you have to obey! Here is a little help:-

5 RULES TO ENSURE YOUR LITTLE DOG DOES NOT RULE YOU!

IF YOU WOULDN’T TOLERATE IT IN A LARGE DOG – DON’T ALLOW IT WITH A SMALL DOG!
By age 6 months your dog should have good training in all the basics.

WHAT I WANT I RE-INFORCE, WHAT I DON’T WANT I IGNORE
Training is not quite that simple, but it’s a good place to start.

BE FIRM AND BE CONSISTENT
Key actions with every dog are an approach which is firm and consistent.
Firm does not mean physical punishment, it is about voice and handling and consistent means not just one person – but the whole family and doing the same things all the time, not just sometimes.

DON’T LET BAD BEHAVIOURS DEVELOP IN THE FIRST PLACE!
However, if they have then what has to happen is the cycle has to be broken.

DOGS SHOULD BE A PLEASURE TO ALL AND A NUISANCE TO NO ONE
The words of the immortal Barbara Woodhouse – words to live by as a dog owner.

 

Cavoodles are fearless and don't know they're small:-

 Rosie putting Hugo in his place 

Rosie putting Hugo in his place 

 Coconut telling Soli this is her sofa and to back off!!

Coconut telling Soli this is her sofa and to back off!!

I love it when Cavoodles come and stay at the Hound Dog Hotel. They can be relied on to be cheeky and fun - but I do reinforce the rules and ensure they are spoilt but also know there are limits!

Until next time, Maralyn

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

A dog bed's not for my dog (s/he prefers sleeping on the floor!)

 Meet Kelly, she didnt used to have a bed - but she loved them all - especailly memory mats which her owner, after her stay here and seeing how comfy she was, has since bought for her.

Meet Kelly, she didnt used to have a bed - but she loved them all - especailly memory mats which her owner, after her stay here and seeing how comfy she was, has since bought for her.

In this Blog I hope to convince you of the vital reasons why every dog should have a dog bed to meet their needs. But first, a bit about us....

WHAT IS THE HOUND DOG HOTEL?

The Hound Dog Hotel on the Central Coast is an elite, professionally run private dog hotel - with not a kennel in sight!  Dog guests live in a home environment- and to keep it simple we offer only one level of care for your dog – the best there is!

Dogs lucky enough to find themselves booked into the Hound Dog Hotel have the time of their lives – their very own holiday! 

A number of factors make our dog accommodation unique.

Firstly,  unlike large, commercial Pet Resorts, we ensure each guest receives VIP (Very Important Pooch) treatment, by limiting numbers to a maximum of only 4 guests.

Secondly, there are no 24 hour ‘lock downs’ that are so common in dog boarding or kennels. Instead, here our VIPs live in, but have free access to our highly secure grounds. And whether in the gardens or inside the Hotel, they receive personal care - attention, fuss, fun and play – all under our experienced and watchful observation.

Thirdly, unlike kennels, invigorating exercise sessions are included within each full days booking. We take daily trips to stimulating locations for long workouts where our little pack interacts, runs, plays, and maybe some have a little swim.

CHOICE OF LUXURIOUS DOG BEDS

 If you've looked at my web site you will often see Leo, he is a regular. He feels it's his duty to try out all the beds - and as you can see he even likes a two tier pair of beds!

If you've looked at my web site you will often see Leo, he is a regular. He feels it's his duty to try out all the beds - and as you can see he even likes a two tier pair of beds!

Yet another area where we excel is with our exceptionally wide variety of super comfy beds and mattresses. Your dog can pick and choose, after all, if a good bed is essential for our comfort - then it’s just as vital for your hound too! 

BUT MY DOG PREFERS THE FLOOR!

Some of my clients have a bed in every room of their house for their dog (you know who you are!!) But it is quite common for owners, especially of larger breeds with thicker coats, to say they don’t have a bed at home because their dog prefers to sleep on the carpet - or tiles to keep cool.

It’s true that in hot weather beds and mattresses can make a dog too warm, so they head for tiles. However, at the Hound Dog Hotel we run air conditioning day and night in the summer when it’s hot - which is why once your dog has discovered the bliss of a beautiful soft bed below and cool air above they can’t wait to get on it!

PROBLEMS OF DIRECT FLOOR SLEEPING

It’s understandable on seeing thick looking fur coat to assume this affords a dog protection against hard floors. However, rarely are dogs’ coats anywhere near dense enough to provide enough protective cushioning against thousands of times during a life of dropping down onto tiles. You often hear their elbows ‘clunk’ when they hit hard floors.

Here are some really important reasons why every dog should have at least one well padded bed (and be encouraged to sleep on it if they don’t do so automatically) rather than leaving them no choice but hard floors.

 Here is dear Twisty, age 14, a big Wolfhound cross breed enjoying the sprung mattress - with a duvet on top as well for even more luxury.

Here is dear Twisty, age 14, a big Wolfhound cross breed enjoying the sprung mattress - with a duvet on top as well for even more luxury.

VITAL REASON ONE:
SCALY ELBOWS/CALLUSES (PRESSURE SORES)

Unless you have owned a dog to maturity you would not necessarily know that with age dogs (and larger breeds in particular) are prone to develop unsightly scaly elbows from both the repetitive action of dropping down to the floor  and the constant pressure as the bone rubs on the tiles.  Friction and pressure from hard surfaces cause rough skin, then scales, and eventually a callus will form as the body tries to protect the bony elbow.  

These ugly, scaly sites can crack, and at worst become infected. If a dog continues to lie on hard floors this aggravates the injury and makes it very difficult to cure.

Dogs can also go on to develop swollen elbows fluid-filled hygromas. These have to be drained at the vets. Both cracked callouses and the hygromas are very painful.

These problems are avoidable by ensuring a quality bed is available – but it has to be one that your dog use, so position matters also. more to come on this....

THE BEST BED FOR YOUR DOG

Owners of dogs that do not have a bed of their own at home always express surprise when they see photographs of their dog sleeping on one of my Hound Dog Hotel beds!

But it’s never a surprise to me. It’s just a matter of finding the type of material and level of padding that each dog likes. And with so many beds to choose from at my Hound Dog Hotel doggie guests, just like Goldilocks, eventually every find a bed that suits them, and it’s wonderful to see them snuggle down happily.

The materials in my beds vary dramatically. Some have fibre of the type you find in pillows, others are more dense with different foam fillings.

For very large or heavy dogs I have an IKEA  child’s sprung mattress. The inner springs are encased on all sides by dense foam which has a thick washable outer material – and over which I also place a further washable cover. This bed is very popular with our big dog guests, Examples are Sulla, a Bernese Mountain Dog and Harvey, a 68kg Dogue de Bordeaux.

Even these big boys find it spacious enough to allow them to stretch out fully and be supported from head to tail. But of course they often like to share it with others as they cuddle down with a friend.

 Puppy Pepper choosing to push 68kg Harvey off the big bed! She didnt succceed, so decided best just to share.

Puppy Pepper choosing to push 68kg Harvey off the big bed! She didnt succceed, so decided best just to share.

VITAL REASON TWO   - A PLACE TO CALL HOME

For humans and animals alike, sleeping is a time of refuge and a bed is more than just a bed – it is a retreat. (This is why when trained to get used to them dogs often like crates, because it is a place of safety they can go to – especially when they want to be left alone).

LET YOUR DOG REST - IN PEACE!

All children – from toddlers to young teenagers -  should be taught from the moment a dog comes into the home that it will need to have its own space.

If a dog is tired, stressed or afraid, it’s only way of saying ‘leave me now please’ is to take itself off to its bed. So they should have a position within the home where they can go to rest and be left in peace -  not bothered, or pestered to play when they want to be quiet.

Position matters – it should be sited somewhere reasonably enclosed to give them a feeling of security (next to walls for example) yet ideally also a spot where they can see people approaching - dogs like to see what’s going. The bed then meets the needs of sleeping, comfort, and refuge all in one.

Once a dog has a bed that suits them you’ll soon see a happy hound snoozing in genuine comfort. You might need to persevere to find the right base they preferbut once you have got your dog to use a bed right for them you’ll be contributing greatly to your dogs health and welfare.

So a bed is more than just a place to sleep for a dog. It promotes good health just as it does in us, and ensures your dog doesn’t develop nasty sores or painful elbows.

Never more apt is the phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’.

 This little igloo bed was used by Rosie the Cavoodle (she also loved being on pillows on the sofa). We used to laugh when Elly used to try to sleep in it. All the more amusing as she had a big bed of her own!  The dogs do play musical beds though and swop around at will. It's very cute especially when they cuddle up to one another.

This little igloo bed was used by Rosie the Cavoodle (she also loved being on pillows on the sofa). We used to laugh when Elly used to try to sleep in it. All the more amusing as she had a big bed of her own!  The dogs do play musical beds though and swop around at will. It's very cute especially when they cuddle up to one another.

 This bed is made of the same material as human pillows and very soft. Some dogs prefer foam which is firmer, but others really like this feel - as you can see.

This bed is made of the same material as human pillows and very soft. Some dogs prefer foam which is firmer, but others really like this feel - as you can see.

 

until the next time, happy snoozing - for you and your pooch!   Maralyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a Pooch has a Paunch problem!

Here at the Hound Dog Hotel on the Central Coast – elite Pet accommodation with 24/7 care for your VIP (Very Important Pooch) - we take your dog's welfare & health very seriously. Diet and activity are important, which is why we ensure quality exercise every day without fail.

Over the years I've personally cared for hundreds of dogs. Now, a bit like the lady who works in a very famous Lingerie Store in Knightsbridge, London, who can tell a womans bra size just by looking at her -  I can instantly recognise a fit dog from a fat one!

To be fair, when you see your dog every day, rather like ourselves, weight can creep up gradually and it’s not easy to notice. This is why not everyone realises their pet is becoming porky, and I feel a responsibility to flag up overweight dogs when I see them.  However, a dog’s weight is quite a sensitive subject with some owners – some even reluctant to accept their pooch has a paunch problem at all!

The problem is, being obese not only puts severe limitations on the quality of a dog’s life, but it can also lead to unnecessary operations. Even worse, carrying excess kilos can cut short the expected amount of years you’d want your companion to be with you.

In the main when I’ve said to a client their dog is overweight they’ve been grateful to hear an independent view. It often turns out they've harboured concerns that their dog could be a bit on the hefty side. But I must confess, I once lost a client over giving my unsolicited opinion when I went on to suggest her dog needed to lose a considerable amount of poundage.

When I said her lovely dog was being hampered by being a chubby chubster what surprised me was how defensive she became (it wasn’t as if I’d said she was fat!)  Her response was their vet had told her their dog was fine (Seriously? When your dog is like a rotund barrel with at least 7 kilos to lose -  and your vet tells you he’s OK – time to change your vet!)  

I was sad about the outcome as he was a lovely dog. But also, I was giving her info that would have helped him live longer. And not least, up to the point when I brought up the subject of weight, she was beyond thrilled with the service and care I’d given to her dog during his stay.

OK, I guess I am at fault as it’s not my business if a client’s dog is overweight and I should keep quiet – but I’m still not going to! Because although I had this one negative experience, other clients have taken my advice to heart, acted upon it, and now have happier and healthier dogs who will be around a lot longer.

If you are looking for motivation to keep your dog slim, below is the true story of Olive (you can see her in my references section).

 Flat Coated Retriever & Slimmer of the Year - Olive with her pal, Australian Bulldog, Turbo at Queenscliff Lagoon on the Northern Beaches

Flat Coated Retriever & Slimmer of the Year - Olive with her pal, Australian Bulldog, Turbo at Queenscliff Lagoon on the Northern Beaches

Olive’s a gorgeous Flat Coated Retriever. Her owners got her as a puppy and meant to exercise her every day. However, events intervened. By their own admission Olive ended up not getting much exercise at all. A year on and Olive was heavily overweight -  and then she began limping badly on her back legs.

The owners took her to the vet who did X-rays. The shocking report was that Olive would need an operation to replace both hips. The owners were devastated. Olive was so young that a double hip replacement seemed drastic, and on top of that the cost was going to be exorbitant.

So Olive’s owners asked if there were any other options. The vet said they could ‘try’ diet and exercise but didn’t seem to hold out much hope that the problem could be fixed that way.

However, the vet had not reckoned with how determined Olive’s owners were!   From that moment they put Olive on a strict weight reducing diet combined with exercise, which they gradually built up over time.

 Olive at her home where I looked after her back in 2013

Olive at her home where I looked after her back in 2013

They began with lead walking. When she could eventually be allowed off the leash they never threw sticks or balls so that Olive did not put undue stress on her joints by fast take-offs or sharp turns and stops.

Over the months Olive slimmed right down, and developed a very good fitness level. The most fantastic thing about this was that Olive was no longer lame and never needed that drastic operation.

I can tell you that family were amazing. They stuck to the regime of exercise and strict diet, also limiting tit bits - very hard when Olive was very food focussed. But they kept Olive slim – and above all away from the Vets!!

Keeping your dog to the right weight means your dog will continue to live a long and active life without the severe limitations that weight related illnesses and injuries bring.

Let’s not forget too, as well as the benefits to your furpal, you could benefit your wallet and save yourself literally $1000 at the Vets over the lifetime of your pet!

Happy dog walking! Until next time…..   Maralyn

 

 

 

 

French Bulldogs: Fiesty, Fun - Fantastic!!

Recently Douglas, a French Bulldog, came for a short stay at the Hound Dog Hotel. He might have been small, but he was mighty – a compact ball of energy and fun - I just couldn’t wait to write about him!

 French Bulldog Douglas - cute right?!

French Bulldog Douglas - cute right?!

The Kennel Club in the UK have announced that French Bulldogs have become so popular they have now taken No 1 place as the most popular dog breed. Fancy that – knocking the ever happy and smiling Labradors from the top spot.

However, having met Douglas I can see why these unique looking little canines have become so incredibly desirable. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a dog that is such super fun and looks so adorable that you laugh every time you look at them?!

 Frenchies just want to have fun - and Douglas knew how to play - always in the thick of it.

Frenchies just want to have fun - and Douglas knew how to play - always in the thick of it.

Being small with a snub nose I might have expected Douglas would not have much energy – WRONG!  Only 16  months old this little guy was like a whirlwind and a real character. He was not afraid of anything and spent his time at the Hound Dog Hotel and on our walks encouraging dogs four times his size to play with him -  bopping them on the nose or leaping all over them.

 Douglas! Pick on someone your own size!

Douglas! Pick on someone your own size!

He was super speedy and would jump, spring and generally had such an active way of moving he would often looked like he was flying.

It was a real pleasure meeting Douglas and I’m sure these Frenchies are set to become as popular here in Australia as they have become in the UK.

But I’ve cared for so many amazing breeds I thought it was time to do a role call. So here below is a list of dogs, pure bred and cross bred, I’ve cared for both in my role as the Perfect Pet Sitter and in the last two years at my very own Dog Pet Resort, Hound Dog Hotel:

 

French Bulldog
English Bulldog
Dogue de Bordeaux
German Shepherd Dog
German Shorthaired Pointers
Wirehaired German Pointers
Labradors (Cream, Chocolate and Black Labradors)
Golden Retrievers
Groodles
Labradoodles
Cavoodles
Moodles (aka Maltipoo Maltese x Poodle)
Spaniels
Kelpies
Border Collies
Old English Sheepdog
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Jack Russell
Pugalier
Lagotto Ramango
West Highland White
Toy Poodle
Boxer Wheaten
Terrier
Miniature Schnauzer
Cavalier King Charles
Beagalier  (Beagle x Cavalier)
Shitzue x Maltese
Lab x Boxer
Lab x unknown!

 

Whatever breed you have they all return the love we give them many times over - a pretty good deal I'd say:-)

Until next time, Maralyn

 

 

Recall matters - Recall really, really matters

Recently I had to inform a fantastic client that I could no longer look after her lovely dog at my Hound Dog Hotel. But if a client is fantastic and her dog lovely - why on earth would I say this? In a word, Recall  - or to be more precise - a lack of Recall.

If you're sending your dog to a kennel where most likely they’ll be locked down 24/7 then whether a dog has Recall or not is irrelevant.

But :

  • what if you want your dog to experience an exclusive service?
  • what if you want your dog to have only the best there is?
  • what if you want your beloved VIP to have a holiday of their own?
  • what if you are seeking dedicated, secure in-home living for your furpal?
  • And - really vital -  what if you want to know your dog is going to be taken out and have terrific fun every single day? Somewhere where they will get real exercise – only achieved by being off leash to run free, fast and play with other dogs.

Because I cannot stress enough the importance of the role of exercise in keeping a dog happy and balanced:

'A happy dog is a tired dog, A tired dog is a happy dog'.

A big reason why dogs are so happy at the Hound Dog Hotel - the ultimate in dog accommodation here on the Central Coast -is due to the ethos we have of providing quality exercise. Believing it is so important we’ve made it an inclusive part of our 24/7 dog care service. However, when it comes to exercise walking a dog on a lead doesn’t count as exercise in any helpful sense and why we focus on leash free outings.

This is why at the Hound Dog Hotel your dog’s daily walks are active and enriching. Your dog is taken to fantastic venues and allowed to play and interact with other dogs, and do what they love – run. Then, to ensure you know what’s happening, included with your daily email reports you receive screenshots of GPS recordings which track every one of our walks. You know where we went, the route we took and how long we were out (almost always an hour or more). As well as that you receive numerous photos of your dog out on each of their outings.

So that is a fantastic benefit to the dogs booking in for their holiday here, comfort and bliss air con inside, great fun and games outside.

 Pepper, Herbie, Sparky & Brodie at McMasters Beach

Pepper, Herbie, Sparky & Brodie at McMasters Beach

However, to benefit from such an exclusive service it is crucial guest dogs have recall. Because there is nothing worse than letting some doggie guests run free, but then having to restrain one of the pack by their lead.  I hate to do this. It’s frustrating for the poor dog being held back and not able to be involved in the fun and games. But once a dog doesn't return to my call, even with permission from the owner to let them off lead, I can’t then take the risk as the safety of each dog in my care is paramount.

There are many reasons to train your dog to recall – and if you want them to come to the best dog care in all Australia – there’s another one!!!

So work on that Recall!! (And if you need any help see my previous detailed Blog on this topic)

Until next time…..

 Brodie, Sparky & Herbie

Brodie, Sparky & Herbie

 Kelly

Kelly

 Herbie, Harvey, Mello

Herbie, Harvey, Mello

Recall Training Made Easy

RECALL TRAINING MADE  EASY WITH  A NEW APPROACH 

I was recently at Avoca Beach with three Hound Dog Hotel doggie guests. Unlike Pet Resorts, Kennels or casual Pet Minders, these type of exercise sessions which are held at exciting venues, are our daily normal activity. The dogs were playing together and swimming in the sea - great fun was being had not just by the dogs, but me also!

 Mello Herbie and Pepper having a great time at Avoca

Mello Herbie and Pepper having a great time at Avoca

As we walked along the beach towards the Lagoon for more water play, I saw a lady with a large puppy on a long lead. 

She’d brought her puppy to the beach, where naturally he wanted to explore and play, yet she constantly pulled him away from everything. It was like taking a child into a Lolly shop and then saying they can’t have anything. It was obviously a frustrating experience for that young pup. In my opinion long leads should not be used used in this way as a restraint - they are a training aid and simply a nuisance when used as an alternative to a lack of training.

Being so constrained the pup was having no interaction with anything - not even its owner. Small wonder if he was allowed off leash he would have run away. 

Missing multiple opportunities to start training Recall, this woman was what I call a ‘Restrainer’. Whereas the key to successful dog training and Recall training, is to become an ‘Interacter’. 

RECALL MADE EASY

Some breeds (Labs for example) are a breeze to train to Recall because their instinct is to keep with you. But it’s not hard to teach any dog if you go about it the right way. 

I have my own method that makes it easy to train Recall – I’ve named  it ‘Extreme Interaction’. When you adopt this you’ll achieve success in a short time.

To be an ‘Extreme Interacter’ means putting into action a mixture of approaches which are meaningful to a dog and give them constant, positive reinforcement through feedback (physical & verbal) and by providing food thus:
1)    terrific treats
2)    encouraging exciting voice
3)    physical reinforcement via touch
4)    play

The above together with a long lead is the starting point.

RECALL – THE BASICS

Attach a long lead attached to your dog's collar. 

Next, before you leave the house make sure you’re armed with ultra tasty treats. NO BORING KIBBLE! We’re talking food bursting with so much flavour that even a dog that is not terribly food focused won’t be able to resist:-

  • Fried Chicken breast
  • Delicious beef steak
  • Liverwurst

THE LONG LEAD – THE WRONG TIME TO RECALL
You’ve got your dog on the long lead. They will be excited (and you will too, keen to start the training) but DO NOT immediately start calling. Instead you are going to watch your dog and look for a very precise behaviour – which I’ll describe - before calling them.  

Patience is vital in this. Initially, and just for a short time, let them do their own thing, a bit of sniffing etc,.  If they want to greet other dogs let them, because your dog heading towards others is the wrong time to Recall as it will almost certainly ignore you, which sets you up for failure. 

Also, just because you have a long lead do not keep dragging your dog away from other dogs. Unless your pup is small and you are genuinely worried about the look of a specific dog, let your puppy greet another canines - a vital part of socialising. 

THE LONG LEAD – THE RIGHT TIME TO RECALL
Ok so if we know the wrong times to Recall – when is it right? 

After your dog has expended some energy pay really close attention to them. Dogs as you know have short attention spans – and what you are looking out for is when your dog seems momentarily aimless – it’s when you notice them stand still for a second as if to say

‘hmm, what can I do next?’  & THAT is the precise moment to Recall. 

I’ll use the example of 3 month old GSP Pepper who I trained for a client recently. Pepper was highly food focused and smart too, so she learned in record time.

When I noticed Pepper having a ‘hmm, what can I do next?’ moment I’d Recall. But I didn’t just flatly call her name. Instead in a projected voice infused with enthusiasm and excitement I’d call. ‘PEPPER! COME!’

At which point there are two possible outcomes.

OUTCOME ONE – pup or dog comes to you

Your dog has come to you -  FANTASTIC! It is vital to have a treat ready and the second - AND I MEAN THE SECOND - they get to you that is the moment to deliver the tasty treat and at the same time verbally praise full of enthusiasm ‘GOOD DOG!!!’ 

At this stage never make them wait for the treat or tell them to sit first. The key here is - IMMEDIATELY THEY REACH YOU – for them to receive intense rewards in the form of a treat, praise and touch.

Also, as you release the terrific tasty treat with one hand, use your other hand to touch them around the neck and on the collar. This is so that they get used to being touched and don’t associate a hand on their collar with having the lead put on and being taken home = which means fun ends.

When a dog I’m training returns to me, from my reaction anyone nearby might think the dog just got a First from Oxford!  But I don’t care! All I care about is that my dog has come to my call -  and my job is to ensure s/he gets a wonderful experience – a flood of rewards and positive feedback.  

A quick way to think about it is being APT

A treat – immediately they reach you give them the treat
Praise  - using an encouraging tone
Touch – touch and fuss with free hand (especially around the neck). 

OUTCOME TWO – dog doesn’t come/ignores you

This is where the long lead as a training aid (not as a permanent restraint) comes into its own.

So, you called your dog in your most enthusiastic voice
Pepper! Come!’
But they didn’t come. That’s OK, it happens. Be patient, don’t keep repeating the command and no shouting or getting cross!

Your next actions are crucial if you are going to condition and train your dog to know what you want. Remember, like all training, Recall ALWAYS HAS TO BE A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE! 

Here’s what you do.

You call again

‘Pepper! Come!’

If they come – great, carry on and use APT as above. But dogs are easily distracted so if they ignore you then you slightly tug the long lead - just enough to get their attention so they see you and the treat. 

PLEASE DO NOT REIN YOUR DOG IN LIKE A COWBOY LASSOOING CATTLE! 

If you are dragging your dog to you this is not Recall! 

Hopefully this second time they will trot or run to you and even if they took their time – still go overboard with APT   
A treat – immediately they reach you give them the treat
Praise  - using an encouraging tone
Touch – touch and fuss with free hand (especially around the neck). 

GOOD DOG! WHAT A GOOD DOG!

This process is repeated throughout your walk. Have plenty of treats and keep looking for when your dog does the ‘hmm, what can I do next?’ stance, because each time you can catch them at that moment is an opportunity for you to practice Recall. 

It will take quite a few outings of long lead training before you advance to Stage Two. 

STAGE  TWO – OFF LEASH RECALL / WITHOUT THE LONG LEAD

Stage Two. When your dog is coming to you reliably on the long lead eventually it’s time to practise outside - preferably somewhere fenced for safety. (A garden is to start but the outside world is the goal).

Remember, everything that has been outlined above still applies. Dogs benefit from a consistent approach and so you continue to use  ‘Extreme Interaction’ throughout APT:

At this second stage you now add a fourth action to giving further reward which is Play 

This time, when Pepper had come to my Recall and I did APT, before she would leave me I’d instigate Play as follows:

As she reaches me I’m giving her the treat and she’s getting praise and touch. But then before she goes off I say, still full of excitement,  ‘Good girl Pepper, come on!’ and then run along the beach, or wherever, and she’d always chase me. 

So what I have done here is to add another level of interaction.

I’d run along with her next to me and then after a little way I’d slow down and  say ‘FREE!’ and that is her word to go off on her own.  

I might go through this Recall routine 15-20+ times on a 40-50min walk.

This is what ‘Extreme Interaction’ is all about - developing a real relationship with your dog which makes you more fun and interesting than anything else. The aim is that your dog will return to you of its own accord because it anticipates great things coming its way when it does so. You are the provider of fun, food and excitement  - not the one that stops its.

Even when I didn’t Recall Pepper and she was roaming free, if she wandered back to me I would often give her one of my irresistible treats. Although she had done nothing to earn the treat, do this to take every opportunity to keep re-inforcing (conditioning) your dog to think of you as 'the best'.  

The aim is for your dog to anticipate terrific things when near you, whether that is food, touch, voice, play – or a mixture of those things. (As time goes on food rewards for coming close to you are weaned off, instead supplement instead praise [enthusiastic] and/or touch). 

Do you see how this works?

 ‘Extreme Interaction’ is ramping up your actions and reactions towards your dog. Deliberately using extraordinarily high levels of enthusiasm and treats -  a quadruple whammy if you like:
1)    terrific treats – irresistible high value foods
2)    praise - with an encouraging exciting voice
3)    touch - which is physical reinforcement
4)    Play ‘Come On, Let’s Go!’

All this is fantastic fun and rewarding for your dog. What it reinforces in them is an association that anything to do with you is good, positive, rewarding – in every way shape and form. It’s a multiple, positive format and magnifies the effect of training on your dog.

And some of you might have noticed how often during this Blog I have repeated phrases
e.g.

‘Extreme Interaction’ 
APT
‘hmm, what can I do next?’

 
Because is we read things more than once they tend to stick. So in the same way if you repeat actions with your dog again and again they will stick!!!! 

If you follow the above and implement the actions with enough enthusiasm I promise you will be amazed that training Recall is actually fun – but most of all you’ll see results.

Let your dog grow in confidence by allowing them to play and interact with the world as well as you. And please, I beg you, don’t be one of those annoying people who constantly calls their dog for no reason. 

If a dog’s name is overused it becomes white noise - like having a radio on the background – you hear a noise but not the song. Constantly call your dog's name and you end up with something called ‘Learned Irrelevance’ Only Recall when it matters.

My approach will get results and pretty fast too, but you won’t get a bomb proof Recall over night.  I read a comment once that said it takes a thousand repetitions of Recall to produce a dog that will come to you in every scenario. 

And a world renowned Gun Dog trainer in the UK said it takes 2 years to train a Gun Dog to a standard that will be good enough for dogs to be taken into the field hunting.

Whilst our pet dogs rarely get to that level of obedience, Recall is so vital because it could just save your dogs’ life - so never give up. 

Your dog flying to you like a rocket is rewarding and a pleasure of itself. And to achieve it all you need to do is a bit of ‘Extreme Interacting’ Good luck!!

(I've posted a short clip of 3 month old Pepper coming to when I call just her name. Despite being about to go in the direction away from me, her obedience to Recall became so good she immediately turned and dashed back. I could have embedded the video but then you get all sorts of ads popping up, so here is the link if you want to view it, paste it in a browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTfLKafZQlk&feature=youtu.be)

 

5 LIFE SAVING TIPS every dog owner must know !

Our many delighted clients tell us the care for their dogs staying at my Hound Dog Hotel is the best they’ve found anywhere (check out references here). And something that makes our doggie guests time so special with us are the exciting daily outings – imperative because quality exercise is the key to keeping dogs in good shape as much mentally as physically.

A Happy Dog is a Tired Dog – A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog!

So at the Hound Dog Hotel we take our guests on varied daily exercise sessions. We go to leash free areas where dogs can run, play, interact with others dogs, and sometimes there’s an option to swim too. I might take balls and toys, but limit ‘high energy’ play.

The reason I prefer to let my guests go at their own pace is that dogs, just like people, can get too much of a good thing. Over-running dogs can be a real health risk to them -  yet it’s surprising how easy it is to inadvertently over-do exercise and in extreme cases put a dog’s life in danger. 

This is why I wanted to share my 5 LIFE SAVING TIPS every dog owner should know......... 

1) BALL THROWING

Most dogs enjoy chasing a ball now and then. But what about the obsessed ball chaser? The dog that has no interest in playing with other dogs, and unless you count staring mad-eyed, totally fixated on the ball thrower, not interacting with their owner much either. All they want is to chase after a ball to the exclusion of everything else.

Throwers can launch a ball a long way and in hot weather a dog continuously pelting flat out over a distance can easily overheat, become dehydrated and develop Heatstroke. Once this happens without fast help they can collapse and at this point recovery is uncertain.

I expect people who have never heard of this will find this hard to believe, and assume a dog will stop when its tired. Yet unfortunately what I have described is exactly what happened to my gardener’s German Shepherd Dog. 

His GSD was anti-social, and in order to avoid other dogs he would take him to quiet places. Then to tire him out he would just keep throwing the ball with the thrower. One hot evening after such a session his dog collapsed.

He rushed his dog to the Vet Hospital where he was immediately put on a drip and kept in overnight as they tried desperately to rehydrate him. When that didn’t work vitamin and mineral infusions were tried. They did all they could yet even after an outlay of $6000 his dog could not be saved and sadly he died the next day. 

Clearly those throwing a ball mean no harm to their dog, but when chasing a ball becomes a ‘conditioned’ response dogs can lose their natural ‘off switch’ and despite being hot and exhausted they keep going (Border Collies & Pointers & Kelpies are typical examples). 

If you suspect your dog has overheated you might be able to help if you catch it early. In fact a few years ago on a 40 degree day my daughter and I were walking to Freshwater beach for a swim to cool down, when we came across a GSD (yes, another GSD with a problem) alone, clearly disorientated, tongue hanging out and pacing all over the place. He was right next to the road and in real danger of getting run over. 

On such an extremely hot day with the wind like a hair dryer set on high, you did not need be medical to see the dog was in the early stages of Heatstroke. I grabbed his collar and walked him the short distance back to my daughters place. This is what we did:
1)    used the garden hose to soak him completely
2)    offered him water (but he was so beside himself from the heat, being lost and with strangers he refused to drink much)
3)    put him in a cool place (with wet towels if they’re keeping still)

Normally a cool place would be an air conditioned room. However, my daughters unit did not have air con. So I started the car and turned on the air con in that. As soon as it cooled we put the GSD in there and then drove him to our local vet and left our details. 

We never heard from the owner so we rang the vet and were delighted to hear the GSD had pulled through. He said our actions had saved the dog’s life, so that made our rescue worthwhile.

Signs of heatstroke

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Wobbly on their feet 
  • Look like they’re drunk
  • Noticeable fluid building up in their body
  • Keep drinking to excess
  • Shaking
  • Fits
  • Unconscious

Something as low key as taking a dog out on a very hot and sunny day can cause Heatstroke in dogs. Therefore, when high temperatures are predicted walks need to be very early, late evening, or in the case of extreme heat not at all.  
 
2) CYCLING WITH A DOG

In cool temperatures with an adult dog (over 2 years old) where stamina has been built up over a long period it might be OK to exercise a dog whilst riding a bike.

But because it’s too easy to cycle at too fast a pace, and/or go too far, I’m against cycling with dogs. Here’s a first hand example of why…..

During 2016 I made a trip to the UK. I was missing having dogs around and offered to walk my friends Labradors, Libby & Bonnie. I took them to a great location called Fishers Green. Dogs are allowed off leash over the whole site and with many, easily accessible and pristine lakes they can pop in and out for a swim at any time. 

It was a really hot day but as the dogs could access the water as and when they wanted it was perfect, really super fun, and the type of outing that makes having a dog so special.

Suddenly, speeding past me, was a man cycling with two black labs running a distance behind him.  Both dogs looked hot and distraught but couldn’t stop to go to the water as they were trying to catch him. 

One of his dogs was just about managing to keep near him by cantering fast. But the older and heavier dog was struggling and lagging a long way behind. Worse still, he was clearly distressed. His tongue was lolling out and there was stress in his eyes. He was unable to close the gap and get closer to his master and this was no dog happy out ‘walkies’. This was the equivalent of a dog being drilled by the SAS.

This happened so quickly by the time I was thinking I ought to say something he was gone. But later that day I regretted that I hadn’t acted fast enough and brought to his attention the danger he was putting his dogs in.

The irony is I imagine this man loved his dogs and expect he thought he was doing a positive thing - giving his dogs ‘a good run’. But dogs can and do collapse after such intensive running and I’ve always wondered what happened to his older dog that day.

 Bonnie enjoying a swim in the pristine lakes of Fishers Green, Waltham Abbey, UK

Bonnie enjoying a swim in the pristine lakes of Fishers Green, Waltham Abbey, UK

3) THROWING STICKS

This is an unpleasant memory and although over 25 years ago what I learned that day is every bit as relevant to any dog owner today - and why I am sharing it. 

We had just got our very first dog, a wonderful German Shorthaired Pointer, Flash, who we rescued aged 2. 

We’d not had Flash long and were at the forest where he was dashing around, all high energy as GSPs are, and mad keen to chase anything. 

In my ignorance I did what millions of people do every day – threw a stick. And it’s a safe bet that just like me many millions also have no idea what could so easily happen. 

We did not seen the actual event, but even to our inexperienced, new dog owner eyes, we knew something was seriously wrong. Because in a second his whole demeanour changed. He stood still, cropped tail not wagging, no stick and with his back arched. He began gagging and we rushed him straight to our vet.

The stick must have caught in the ground and pointed up. In his enthusiasm Flash pounced on the sharp sticking up end which made a hole deep in the back of his throat. 

After an emergency operation the Vet said this was a common injury and why a dog owner should never throw sticks! He said if the stick had pierced a tiny bit deeper it would have killed Flash.  We were completely shocked. Never gave it a thought that such a thing could happen doing something so innocent.

This is a perfect example of WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW UNTIL YOU KNOW – but when you own a dog you’ve got to make it your business to find out where dangers can lie. Or like me you’ll find out the hard way.

These days I look out for sticks that are smooth and dense. I bring them back and saw off the sharp ends. I then push/screw and length of foam swimming pool noodle (the hollow sort obviously) over each end. Voila! my own safe sticks suitable water especially. Dogs love them as they are easy to find, they are safe, and they cost almost nothing! 

 Making a Safe Stick is simple and takes minutes, this is all you need

Making a Safe Stick is simple and takes minutes, this is all you need

 The finished product - how good is that and it's so easy to do!

The finished product - how good is that and it's so easy to do!


4) SWIMMING & WATER DANGERS

One of the best workouts there is, you wouldn’t want to stop a dog enjoying a swim. And lobbing toys into the water for a dog to chase seems harmless enough, yet there are dangers in water workouts too.

Continual ball chasing into water for long periods can lead to exhaustion and dehydration. And although few dogs will deliberately drink salt water, waves can force sea water down their throat - or push water in through their nose which can result in them inhaling it – not good.

Inhaled water, salt or fresh, can lead to fluid in the lungs (pulmonary oedema) The fluid then builds up inside the lungs interfering with breathing. This can cause dry (secondary) drowning which can be fatal 24 hours or even more after the event. 

If a dog does drink sea water this can lead to kidney  problems. So, if you’re taking your dog to the beach do offer your dog fresh water frequently - especially before the drive home.

Having said that, there is yet another - and very little known problem that can happen to dogs and humans when they drink too much fresh water.  This life-threatening condition is called Hyponatremia -  ‘water intoxication’.  OK OK I get it - enough with the scary stories! Except they are not just old wives tales, all these things can and do happen.

A  first class link to learn more about Hyponatremia can be found by clicking here.

More common is a dog not being offered enough water after running around. So at the Hound Dog Hotel as soon as we come back from the beach and salt water and we reach the car, out comes the big water container.

 Herbie enjoying a drink before we head back to the Hound Dog Hotel

Herbie enjoying a drink before we head back to the Hound Dog Hotel


5) FEEDING

Feeding may seem the odd one out when above I’ve been writing about exercise – but feeding too close before or after exercise is one of the factors implicated in causing a truly dreadful and agonising condition – which is nearly always fatal – called Bloat (Gastric torsion). 

If you are unlucky Bloat can occur spontaneously – but that is rare. What you want is to avoid being the cause of Bloat in your pet due to an ill-informed approach to exercise and feeding time intervals.

In over 25 years since I first had Flash and later Harry (my pair of German Shorthaired Pointers and being deep-chested more prone to get Bloat) and in all the 100’s of dogs I’ve cared for, I have never had a single incident of Bloat. 

I’m certain this is because I’ve always kept to the
feeding/exercise
exercise/feeding
routine and time intervals provided below.

ALWAYS LEAVE A 2 hour interval following any main meal before taking your dog for their exercise session. 
WAIT AT LEAST 30 mins when you get back from exercising to give your dog a chance to rest before feeding him/her. If you did a long and/or particularly hard exercise session then let them rest for 60 mins before you feed them.

Bottom line, exercise on a full stomach is a complete NO NO. And another factor is Kibble. Kibble is a really hard for dogs to digest. I’ve seen a dog fed on kibble vomit three hours later – and the shocking thing was that even after so long the kibble looked barely different to when it was eaten. 

Here are a couple of practical examples of feeding/exercise, exercise/feeding. 

If your normal practise is to feed your dog in the morning this means they should then be allowed rest and digest their breakfast for at least 2 hours before any exercise. 

But say it’s a very hot day and you’d normally feed your dog first thing, but instead are taking your dog for an early morning walk. In this case obviously breakfast waits until you get back home. But remember then to leave feeding until at least 30 minutes after your return.

Whilst on the subject of feeding, there are varied opinions regarding the optimum amount of times per day an adult dog should be fed. Some say as in the wild dogs being predators would gorge and starve, so to mimic that they choose to feed once a day.

Others say twice a day. Twice daily is what Vets recommend – and I’m in that camp. Two smaller meals are by far the better option. A huge meal once a day is in fact implicated in causing Bloat in some dogs -  so why risk it? 

Looking after your dog is not rocket science and by feeding smaller amounts of food twice a day with the right interval between feeding and exercise Bloat is extremely unlikely ever to happen to your dog.

FEED KIBBLE? A HELPFUL TIP

If you are going to feed Kibble for breakfast and take your dog out later – soften the kibble (use warm water). You should still wait the two hour interval regardless, but by softening the Kibble this makes it easier for your dog to digest.

Conversely, at the end of the day when my dogs have been exercised is when I am happier to feed hard kibble. The crunch is good to keep teeth and gums healthy. Plus as they are going to be sleeping the Kibble can be digested overnight and help a dog feel full and sated. Like us really, the difference between eating a smoothie or the fresh fruit.

Always observe your dog. If at any time – but especially after an active exercise session - their behaviour is odd, get them medical attention rapidly. Better safe than sorry.

AND FINALLY ….

Remember: YOU DON’T KNOW UNTIL YOU KNOW – but when you own a dog you’ve got to make it your business to find out!

Until next time then,

Maralyn, Hound Dog Hotel (previously Perfect Pet Sitter)