Pet Resorts

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)