Dog Behaviour

How to I stop my puppy biting?

You will find the top searched for question on Google is “How do I stop my puppy biting?”

You’ve probably even done it yourself. The reason most people cannot find the solution they’re looking for is that the information out there is actually pretty generic and the truth is there is not a one size fits all approach.

Puppies bite for a number of reasons and it’s not just because they’re teething. Let’s face it, the biggest problem with it is that they have razor sharp teeth at this age and it really hurts!

For you to find the solution for your puppy. You need to know all the reasons and how to help them not feel the need to bite you or your clothes in different situations.

Handling, puppies have to get used to being touched. Puppies do not sit there stroking each other in the litter, in fact, dogs do not pet each other at all. We touch dogs much more than they want to be touched and far more than we would touch each other. Often puppies do not find stroking as rewarding as we think at the start, it takes a while for them to find it enjoyable. Now if you look at it from a dog’s point of view, sometimes we can be pretty annoying when we’re touching them. So one of the reasons they might be nipping hands is to say I don’t like that.

We do of course need to get puppies used to being handled because people are going to touch them with or without consent. But this should be done in a positive way pairing it with rewards, doing it in mini sessions and giving them breaks before they try to nip stroke with one hand only, gives them the choice to move away. Stroke in a calm way. Find the spot your puppy likes under the chin on their chest are normally places they prefer rather than over the head. Try stroking when they’re calm, not when they’re playing or over excited. Otherwise they will just play with you like you’re another dog, with their mouth. Keep it brief initially, always stroke then paused for a few seconds to see if they want more and then repeat.

Frustration is another cause for puppies to bite us. We sometimes are a competitive species, particularly when we’re playing a game of tug. There’s a lot of controversy around playing tug games stemming from outdated advice, one of them suggesting you should always win, firstly where’s the fun in that! This can teach puppies not to trust you around items causing them to feel the need to guard and also it makes the game pretty boring. If you do not release the toy regularly, they might resort to biting you to make you drop the toy sooner or they give up and find something else to do.

When playing tug with your puppy keep them engaged by letting it trail on the floor, bouncing it around like pray and then tug gently when they get it and then let them win, then repeat. This will drive them back to you to play more. It sometimes good to have two toys keeping it interesting for the puppy. Tug toys that are around a metre long helps keep puppies at a distance

If your dog likes to parade around with it in their mouth and not drop it or takes it to chew. This is not an invitation to play and remove it from them. In fact, this can cause distrust, lead them to chew or play with it the way they like.

Managing physically, whilst puppies are young, particularly for smaller breeds, we have a habit of physically removing them and picking them up constantly. Hands can become pretty negative to them. This can again cause frustration, leading them to nip us to say put me down or to make us get off them when putting new equipment like leads and harnesses on puppies, they have no idea what it is. With us leaning over them or grabbing them, it can be pretty scary. When putting new equipment or clothing on them, it’s important to break this process down and pair every step with treats until they’re comfortable having it on and teach a hand target and leave it to get them to move away or come to you, rather than being physically forceful.

Teething, when the biting is related to teething you will find they are trying to get what ever it is in their mouth and generally to their back teeth, fingers feel so good on teeth and for them it can appear you are trying to take their teething toy away. Always have some edible and non edible chews available to hand as they need to chew a lot. You can put toys in the freezer and give frozen carrots finding, what your puppy enjoys chewing is the trick as each puppy is different.

You can get coffee wood chews specifically for dogs that crumble instead of splinter, pizzles, other meat or vegetable based chews and yak milk chews are great, find what’s right for your puppies age. It is vital particularly when they are resting near you to have these within arm’s reach. As chewing is often common when puppies are tired, chewing releases a calming hormone so usually the thing nearest to them will be gnawed on to get them off to sleep.

Teething starts around eight weeks just at the time they’re in their new home and goes on until about eight months. Usually the worst period for teething is between 12 to 16 weeks when tooth eruption is at its highest.

Play, puppies play using their mouth and feet, it’s a little like wrestling. If it moves, puppies investigate and like to pounce on it and mouth it.

All puppies can see is everything below, the knee moving along and it’s fun. Add to this dangling clothing like dressing gown chords and you’ve just made it the best game ever! During this exciting period, prevent temptation by tucking things in, wearing clothes that are not great tug toys and keep the fluffy slippers upstairs until they’re a little older. With children it is important to prevent puppy practising chasing and biting. The long fleece tug toys are good if your child really wants to play with them however it’s also important children do other activities with puppy. Get them involved in designing enrichment activities like; searching for treats, hiding a toys or kong, stuffing boxes or making a towel burrito with treats rolled up in it, this means they’re involved with puppy but not always wanting to pick them up and play with them all the time, getting them over aroused and over tired, where the puppy then constantly bites them. Getting children involved in training is important so puppy doesn’t want to see them as something to chase all the time. Management is crucial. So puppies don’t rehearse the behaviour preempting it is important. If the chasing happens whenever the kids come home, set up an enrichment activity for puppy and children to do together or use pens and barriers when they cannot be supervised to keep them apart.

Witching hour, puppies are crespuscular, which means they’re more active at dawn and dusk. This normally ties in when you’re getting ready for school and work or when everyone is home in the evening trying to relax. It’s important to get the balance right of your puppies routine. Puppies need a lot of sleep between 16 to 20 hours a day, overtired puppies nip, they become restless and they get zoomies which often looks like their biting is more deliberate and is then often made worse because everyone is trying to grab them and there are more people in the house. The biggest mistake new owners make is thinking walking them and playing with them loads tires them out but this does the complete opposite, sniffing, chewing, enrichment activities and training are the things that are more calming not play, which is why it’s important to end play with an activity like this to dissipate their arousal levels. It’s important that they get good quality rest where they are not disturbed, touched or woken, they should wake up naturally where ever possible. If they do not get enough sleep in the day, they can get restless at night too. When they get like this, it’s about getting them in a quiet space providing a chew or stuffed calm to bring their arousal down.

So what do you do when puppies do by first always have toys and choose within reach of you and rotate them to keep them interesting? You can never have too many. Start using a finished signal to let puppy know when it’s the end of training, treats, play or fuss, this helps them learn how to switch off. I will let puppies mouth me a little if it’s gentle and not hurting. I need them to know the difference and what a soft mouth is. If there is firm contact, stop interacting for a second and slowly move your hand or any other part of you that’s in the mix. Teaching them pain means that play stops briefly. As soon as they stop divert to a toy and play with that toy, moving it away from them, getting them to chase it. Do not try and force it into their mouths as this will make them more likely to just latch back onto you. If the puppy is biting continues and the toy is not satisfying them, remove yourself for a few seconds, making sure you take a different toy on your way out and then go back and offer the toy to play with.

If they are overstimulated or tired, they cannot learn anything. So at this stage, you need to calm them down by giving them an activity in their crate, pen or bed to bring them down, remember sniffing, licking and chewing are things that will calm our puppies.

If you need further support take a look at my puppy training page for the services I provide or book a free 15 minute call with me.

Dog Behaviour

5 Tips to Prevent Resource Guarding

This post is for subscribers

Labrador being held in a standing position by a man in a blank and white checked shirted
Dog Behaviour

Did you know the fear response ‘fawning’ is frequently confused with over exuberant behaviour in dogs, would you know the difference? 

“Fawning” is where the brain decides to try and please whoever is triggering the fear response to prevent conflict. 

These dogs and puppies are often excessively jumping up at visitors or lunging when walking pass people or dogs on walks. Along with this behaviour they can sometimes be nipping, humping, repetitive licking, ears back, panting with the dog generally restless and not able to relax in peoples or dogs presence.

You may find you are out with a group of people with their dogs and your dog spends most of their time jumping up at the other people and you, avoiding interacting with the other dogs. This maybe an indication that the dog is feeling uncomfortable with the dogs presence and is looking for a way out of the situation or is trying to avoid conflict. You see the jumping up more towards the other people in the group particularly when the dogs care giver, has wanted to socialise their dog and the dog has wanted to move away but the signals have been missed in the past.

Sadly these behaviours are often punished as jumping up is usually frowned upon, as it can be frustrating for the care givers, particularly when it’s visitors or strangers because it is embarrassing and of course it can put people at risk of getting hurt, depending on the size of the dog. 

You might have worked at asking for sit at the door or when greeting people and it has never worked because sitting is a vulnerable position to be in when you are uncomfortable. It is like putting a lid on a boiling pot, you can get more over the top behaviour when released, as a forced sit is not a relaxing behaviour,  it causes more tension. 

Telling off can then exacerbate an already uncomfortable dog. The dog gets more stressed in the situation because their care givers are agitated, which then increases the dog behaviour further, with the dogs desperate attempts to prevent more conflict, creating a “vicious circle”.

Red and white small dog looking up towards the camera with a finger in the frame depicting the dog being told off

You can often see excessive friendliness when visiting the vets, which could be identified as “fawning” as a fear response to being examined or due to sensing the other animals fear in the surgery.

There is no difference between dogs who use fawning, aggressive behaviour, cowering trying to hide or are frozen when scared, they all need need the same support. 

These dogs generally need space, you need to work at distances that the dogs can relax, being headed at can make dogs uncertain and you will see some subtle signals way before they start jumping up, like suddenly sniffing the ground. You know when you see someone in a shop and you think ‘oh no they will keep me here for ages’, so you try not to make eye contact reading anything close by even if its a bag of frozen peas, this is similar to what you see in dogs trying to avoid people or dogs that are approaching, as they get closer you then see the fawning behaviour. Letting them observe from a distance they can relax will help them process and feel more comfortable, often these dogs just have not had enough time to process calmly the things around them or have had strangers heading at them to stroke them as puppies so preempt people are going to come and man handle them. 

Dogs like this need a safe space away from visitors and to be taught how to relax in the space, trusting they will not get approached or bothered there. The visitors also need to be aware to keep their hands and prevent staring at the dog, giving them complete space so the dog is able to relax in their presence and approach in a calmer state if they wish too. But depending on the dog, the visitor still needs to prevent most of the interaction.

Small white dog lying in grey bed with giraffe print lining, with a green blanket.

If they are not supported this behaviour can eventually lead to them resorting to growling, barking, snapping and biting to increase distance. This is why when I work with adult dog cases that are using what we label as ‘aggressive behaviours’, the clients often tell me the dog used to be all over people when they were puppies would be jumping up constantly and then rolling on their back (another conflict avoiding signal). These are dogs who have had their message over looked and misinterpreted.

One last reason that you may see the fawning response is avoidance of being touched or approached due to discomfort from an underlying condition. As we know dogs are stoic and it is sometimes very hard to diagnose discomfort and pain even in a veterinary situation, which is why a full consultation or dynamic dog assessment is usually required. 

Of course like any behaviour in dogs we observe, observe, observe. This is just one area that I feel should be reconsidered, when you see what looks like an over excited, excessively friendly, totally barmy dog. It might simply be them looking for help and out of a stressful situation.

“First seek to understand before expecting to be understood.”

Dog Behaviour, Dog Equipment, Dog Training, Puppy

Do you take water out for your dog on their walks?

What ever the weather, it’s always important to take water out with you for your dog on walks. Dogs get thirsty the same as us and often are running about more. You might say “but my dog doesn’t drink on walks”, continue reading to find out why that might be.

If you don’t have water with you, dogs can end up disappearing in search of water, possibly drinking from a puddle or worse a stagnant ditch. Now don’t get me wrong some dogs just love drinking dirty water, and different water sources can have different minerals that they could be potentially seeking. However having a fresh safer options on you, is far more preferable. 

Have you ever been training your dog and they stop taking the treats? This could be because they are thirsty and it’s not rewarding, when you have a dry mouth to take more food, especially if you are using the dry biscuit type. Therefore it could become punishing to the dog to perform the behaviour you are actually training at the time.

Water is also another resource you can use as a reward for recall, as we all know if we are thirsty having a drink feels good. What is important however is never withhold water from them for training purposes!

Dogs with anxiety or ones that find some experiences outside stressful, often drink more water. So it’s vital when working on behaviour rehabilitation that these dogs are offered water on a regular basis, or you may find they switch off from treats quicker. 

I have been told on a number of occasions by dog guardians, that their dog will not drink water when out on walks, this maybe the case however the first questions I ask is:

“Has your dog drank from the bowl or bottle that you’re offering them to drink from when outside before?”

“Was enough time given to your dog before the walk to be come familiarised with the item, to enable them to feel comfortable with it?”

You will be surprised how many dogs I see that are actually scared of the water bowl/bottle dispenser that is being offered to them, or the way in which the water is presented to them. For some dogs it can be quite unsettling to be suddenly introduced to a weird novel object, then to have said object enthusiastically thrusted into their face or under their nose, this can appear to be somewhat threatening to a dog.

It’s really important with all equipment, that your dog is actually comfortable drinking from it, so it should be introduced in the house first with them happily using it, comfortable with you approaching them with it and then taken with you on the walk. Always get your dog to walk towards you rather than you moving to them with it in your hand. Normally they drink from a stationary bowl at home, and you are now moving towards them with something odd, sometimes in a forceful way (because you care), as you can see they are thirsty.

Another factor is how much water is dispensed, licking shallow water or dribbles out of a bottle doesn’t quench thirst and therefore some dogs do not bother. Dogs use the back of their tongue like a scoop, lifting the water up and into their mouth see the following video so ensure you have poured enough out before calling your dog over. 

If they generally do not drink outside and also rarely do at home it’s worth considering the following, mains water in different locations can be highly chlorinated which can prevent dogs from wanting to drink it and actually can have other adverse effects. This is why some dogs prefer filtered or natural spring bottle water.

Dogs can also be getting lot of moisture from the the food/treats they are getting, so it consuming it that way.

an option for these dogs not only to take water just incase, but also more watery treats like melon, cucumber any juicy fruit to provide a refreshing alternative, of course that’s if they like fruit, and it’s provided in moderation.

What ever dog you have, it’s vitally important that dogs have the option to drink whilst they are out.

Happy walking.


Dog Behaviour

Slippery floors and dogs

These days it’s common for many houses to have laminate, wooden or tiled flooring. Often people already have it in the house before they have got their dog or puppy home. 

The trouble is dogs really struggle with slippery floors and have to work very hard to stabilise on them. For them it can be like walking on ice on a daily basis. 

You may notice when asking them to sit their feet splay out or worse knees and hips and many end up lying frequently even when they don’t actually want to. This is a real risk with puppies that are still growing sustaining long term joint issues.

It can make dogs restless as they have to fight to stabilise constantly, making micro adjustments as they regularly walk across the floor, this can cause anxiety in some dogs and can impact other fear related behaviours.

More importantly it often causes nagging injuries, strains, joint problems and more. Now your dog may not be showing any signs of pain physically but remember dogs are stoic they often do not show any lameness or limping until their pain level is about a 6 and often only vocalise pain when it’s at its highest. 

Tips to reduce the risks:

  1. Use anti slip rugs and runners strategically placed, when coming in through door ways at the bottom of the stairs and to break large surfaces up. Anti slip tape can be used for stairs.
  2. Make sure their beds are anti slip too as getting on them can cause strains if they move, you can use the anti slip tape to put on the bottom of them rather than buying new beds.
  3. Ensure bowls, snuffle mats etc are anti slip or on an anti slip surface like a silicone tray and the dog is standing on a secure surface when using.
  4. Use paw wax or paw grip spray when visiting venue that have slippery surfaces, this can help some dogs gain traction when walking across the surface.
  5. Have paw hair trimmed professionally, paw fur can make it very difficult to get any grip at all whilst walking and keep nails trimmed.
  6. Do not play on slippery surfaces, play only on carpeted areas or in the garden.
  7. Keep the surface dry and thoroughly wipe dogs feet when it’s been wet.
  8. Do not ask them to sit on an unstable surfaces.
  9. You can get pet safe anti slip surface sprays or paint this coats the flooring so there is more grip. 
  10. If you can afford it for the long term replacing flooring with an anti slip surface would be ideal.

Dog Behaviour, Puppy

How to overcome the puppy blues so you can enjoy your puppy!

Having a new puppy can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster at times, but it’s often the lesser talked about reality of new puppy parenthood. It can leave you feeling a little isolated, frustrated, and even perhaps regretful. It’s the puppy blues in full effect! 

I’m going to let you into a well-kept secret that I think will help you. A large percentage of the issues we see with puppies are not actually training issues at all. 

There are two things that are leading to you feeling overwhelmed, conflicted, and possibly even guilty about life with your new puppy. You might be surprised to learn that they are both fairly easy to overcome once you identify them. 

So what are they, Jo? I hear you cry. 

Expectations and too much information. 

In this puppy blues blog, we will delve into both of these factors so you can recognise them, manage them and come out the other side with your sanity intact and a dog you love deeply and understand. 

So, let’s start with expectations. 

Puppy Blues: Is it normal to feel regret after getting a puppy?

You had a vision of what life was going to look like when you welcomed your puppy or rescue dog home. And this isn’t it. 

You’re exhausted. You’re monitoring your puppy’s toileting habits constantly, you’re sleep-deprived, and you’re frankly covered in bite marks gifted to you by your little shark puppy’s razor-sharp teeth. 

It’s disappointing, upsetting, frustrating, and you might even be feeling like getting your puppy was a terrible idea. Don’t panic! It’s also normal!

Guess what?! Your puppy is more than likely behaving like a puppy. The problem is not you, and it’s not your puppy. He isn’t some devilish spawn that you should never have invited into your life.

The problem is that you weren’t given an honest reflection of what these early weeks and months might look like. It’s not your fault. 

You read all the books and boffed up before getting him home, but now it’s like everything you read was written for someone else. 

I’ll tell you why. There isn’t much out there that highlights the fact that your puppy will not master everything you try and train immediately. And that’s not because you’re not doing it right. It’s because there are developmental milestones that have to be reached before that training will cement. Training takes time. 

Why is my puppy so hard to train? 

Your 9-week old puppy cannot physically hold their wee and poo in. They are not developed enough to do so. Your puppy doesn’t have the capacity to be fully toilet trained until approx 16 weeks old, when he can begin to learn to hold his toileting needs until he’s in an appropriate place. 

That doesn’t mean there’s no point in doing any toilet training. There is. But it means that you can allow yourself to relax a little and enjoy the little successes which are slowly adding up. 

Let go of berating yourself (and your puppy) whenever you find a puddle somewhere you’d rather not. It’s going to happen. Stock up on kind words for yourself and your puppy, enzymatic cleaner to remove odours and stains, and treats for celebrating the toileting that is happening in the right places. 

And trust that it will pay off. These little accidents may be frustrating, but they won’t be forever. 

The puppy biting you’re experiencing is also normal. Your puppy is teething, prone to becoming overtired in the blink of an eye and learning about the world with her mouth. You can do things to help your puppy with their sore teeth, but it is unrealistic to think you can completely eradicate any biting. 

Those sleepless nights or hideously early mornings? Yup, normal! Again, there are things we can do to make it easier on you and your puppy, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be gifted a puppy who sleeps 12hrs straight as soon as they enter your life. 

The fun and joy you expected from puppy life are in there. You will enjoy your life with your dog. The puppy blues will pass! 

You just need some help to adjust your expectations so that you can revel in your training successes and actually recognise when they happen. You might find that your puppy training is actually going swimmingly, you just need a different perspective… and perhaps a couple of small tweaks to help you on your way. 

Who can I trust – there is so much conflicting information

I remember when I first had my son, Logan. Yes, I’m talking about a human child, but stick with me, it is relevant, I promise. 

I drove myself round the bend, worrying about whether I was getting it right. I’d read so many books while pregnant, but my views were completely different when he arrived. 

So what did I do? I turned to Google, of course! 

And I didn’t stop there. I read various books, talked to friends, and tied myself in little knots once I’d acquired a ton of conflicting advice. 

It was overwhelming, confusing, and very unhelpful.  

We all have really good gut instincts, but we go down these rabbit holes seeking information, and we often end up ignoring or even fighting against our gut.

I have clients who have achieved great results using books or videos from YouTube. They have developed amazing skills which have helped them to train their dogs. But there is still something missing. 

For a lifetime of success, understanding, and a strong bond with your dog, you need to not just be able to teach behaviours but to have a clear understanding of your dog’s behaviour. 

What’s beneath the problems you are experiencing? When you understand your dog’s specific needs, what motivates him, what he struggles with and what emotions he is experiencing, you are both set up for an incredible relationship.

That can’t be taught in a generic video or picked up from a well-meaning dog friend because your dog is unique. There will be different motivations, life experiences, breed traits and so much more that affect your dog’s perspective on the world. 

Let’s go back to Logan for a minute. Imagine I told a friend he screamed all night, and I was at my wit’s end. And imagine my friend told me that she had a similar experience, and her baby was hungry, so she gave her an extra feed before bed, and the problem was solved. 

So off I toddle, and I give Logan a huge top up feed before bedtime. Only he doesn’t sleep soundly. He screams even more and for longer. Because the reason he couldn’t sleep was reflux, and the extra milk just made that 10x worse. This is a made-up story, but I just want to highlight how if we seek out information without a two-way exchange, it can quickly lead us into bigger problems. 

Just like children, our puppies and dogs need us to be consistent. And with the best of intentions, when we bounce from pillar to post trying different techniques from various people, it simply doesn’t work. In fact, a lot of the time, it creates bigger problems, because we are now unpredictable to our dogs (or kids), and that doesn’t foster confidence or security. 

What should I focus on with my puppy?

Your puppy is like a baby, he/she needs you. The absolute best thing you can do for your puppy (and your future self) is to help your puppy to grow in confidence. The typical dog training obedience stuff can come later. The early weeks and months are all about supporting your puppy and helping him/her to feel secure and safe. 

This solid foundation will enable you to build a strong relationship with your puppy. And that foundation will make it a million times easier to teach your puppy the vital skills they need to grow into an assured, confident, and happy dog. 

You can begin teaching cues such as drop and leave to help keep your puppy safe, of course. I don’t mean that you should completely ignore all elements of training your puppy. But the area of most importance is your relationship and their feeling secure. 

So, if you’re not going to Google everything and ask every dog owner you know, what’s the alternative? 

“I wish I had got help from the beginning” is a phrase I hear from clients all the time. Initially, they tried using a book or the internet to help them with their puppy woes, but the reality was they became even more overwhelmed. 

They wound up pulling their hair out and making things so much harder for both themselves and their puppy. 

Prevention is better than cure

Don’t put off puppy training until you have a problem. It will be so much harder for you and your puppy. 

Being proactive to prevent problems or getting help as soon as they arise sets you and your puppy up for success both now and in the future. Whether you’re having a tough time or you’d like to try and prevent a challenge from occurring, having a professional you can call on to discuss your individual situation is a huge relief. 

How choosing one to one puppy training support can help you overcome the puppy blues

Group puppy training classes usually teach general obedience training covering things like sit, stay, recall, and drop. And while these can be helpful skills to learn, you then have to take what you’ve learned in a class environment and progress it in the outside world alone. And that can be tricky without someone coaching you through the little hiccups that occur in day-to-day life. 

Choosing one to one dog training support means that we work on your specific challenges and your unique goals. We consider your lifestyle, the things that are important to you, and we work on a bespoke plan for your puppy or dog and support you through putting it into action. 

I’m not just a dog trainer and behaviourist, I support the humans I work with. If you have a safe person to turn to it makes it a million times easier for you to be the safe person for your puppy. 

And it helps you get over those inevitable humps without falling down a Google hole, only to emerge confused, even more exhausted, and utterly fed up. 

Instead, you have one person to reach out to who will give you consistent, tailored advice and support that meets your needs and those of your puppy. Hurrah!

So that vision you had of life with a confident and calm dog by your side that can stride through life with you no matter what happens is your reality. 

If you’re struggling with the puppy blues, then please don’t suffer alone. Reach out and get in touch with me, and let’s banish those puppy blues so you can enjoy your new pup! 

Since you’re here and tackling all things puppy, you might find this blog on socialising your puppy a useful read.

Pug Lying Down in Resignation on Wooden Floor with skirting board in background
Dog Behaviour

How can you help your dog during COVID19 lockdown and after?

Hi Guys so we are in the midst of the COVID 19 lockdown, I have been putting off writing anything about this subject because we was not quite sure how long it was going on but I think unfortunately lockdown will not be ending anytime soon. I have had lots of thoughts running around in my mind that you might have concerns with and what concerns I have regarding when lockdown ends for your dog. Socialisation, separation and concern about overtired/over aroused dogs are all covered below.

Firstly I have pulled out some key points from the British Veterinary Association their info graphics are below too. The current strain of Coronavirus is a result of Human-to-human transmission, there is absolutely no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Current evidence suggests Covid-19 has a wild animal source however this still remains under investigation. It is also thought it might be possible the virus could be carried on fur from humans that are infected/carrying the virus, for a short period of time in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs, this could apply to their harnesses as well. The main advice for animal owners is continue to practise good hand hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly (for 20 seconds with soap and water) after touching your pet and also not letting them interact with other dogs or people that do not live with you. If someone else is walking your dog for you for what ever reason, please carefully still follow social distancing rules and hygiene advice. Have a bag with all your dog equipment in, that you do not need to touch and the dog walker can take and bring back.

All veterinary practices are now required to limit face-to-face contact with clients. This means running an emergency care and emergency prescription service, some are still providing food and doing necessary vaccinations but this is branch dependent. So avoid putting your dog at unnecessary risk.

Pets and corona virus advice from royal veterinary college
RVC Someone walking your dog during COVID 19 advice


If you run out of food dogs can eat human food they did evolve from our discarded food after all! However try and find alternative healthy complete dog foods, if you can rather than making your own, often getting the balance right of nutrients and what your specific dog needs is difficult. It’s always good to add fresh veg and fruit (in moderation) to your dogs dinner a minimum of 3 times a week anyway, this helps with gut health, a healthy gut helps with behaviour too! If you have to change food try and do it gradually if possible, I know this might be difficult don’t worry if it’s not feasible it just to avoid tummy upset. If your dog is on a special diet speak to your vet to see if they can suggest a good alternative. If you are struggling with costs are able to provide pet supplies for people who need it.

Difficult time for all

Lady with hands covering face depicting stress with someone else hands on sides of head

I know this is a stressful time for all of us but believe it or not it will be for our dogs too. Dogs pick up on our mood state so if the behaviour has changed it can be due to this, be mindful to try and take them out when you are feeling not so tense, as handling of the lead can then change the walk and can be unpleasant for your dog and in turn you, as they are likely to pull more or be hyper vigilant to things in the environment if the lead is tense. Some dogs will love you being home but others will be overwhelmed because everyone is there all day, they may not be getting the rest they need. There will be more people interacting with the dog, whether it’s kids constantly playing or teasing them or multiple adults managing unwanted behaviour, if this is not managed right you can have a stressed dog on your hands. Overtired, overexcited or frustrated dogs can lead to bites, statistic are usually higher during school holiday periods so this isolation period will be no different.


Dogs do appear to have an inbuilt time clock seeming to recognise the difference between week days and weekends (our actions and body language is more likely what influences this the most) however if we treat everyday as a weekend when lockdown is over some dogs are going to struggle. Each dog is different when it comes to routine sometimes a strict adherence to routine creates anxiety issues when all of a sudden they have a day where the routine gets thrown out the window, dogs which suffer from separation anxiety or isolation distress, are extremely aware of routine events that predict your leaving, which triggers their anxiety. What I am mainly suggesting is stick to a version of your normal routine for your working week, feeding your dog when you normally would and walking them. Obviously this will be different if you have a dog sitter but you can do activities in the same way without the socialisation aspect. Don’t walk your dogs more than you usually walk them unless you can sustain this after lock down otherwise when it’s over they will find it difficult when you go back to work, this is unfair and definitely do not make them walk more if they are refusing. Change for the future is inevitable things will not be exactly the same when restrictions are lifted, dogs do adapt but their are somethings to consider for getting through this period with ease for both parties.


Ginger and white senior collie x sleeping on bed in sunlight with door in background

I have just posted a very detailed video on YouTube on this specific subject “Is your dog getting enough sleep” but some key points are below. With everyone home everyone may be interacting with your dog more than normal but be mindful sleep is vital to mood state dogs should be sleeping through the night and having regular undisturbed good quality naps in the day. Children and adults should be leaving the dog alone when they are resting or sleeping. Puppies need around 18-20 hours sleep and adult dogs need around 12-14 hours of sleep a day. Lack of rest and sleep can effect behaviour.

Alone Time

If you do not normally work from home, some separation and being unavailable is going to be important for your dog at this time, even for the people that do, you are probably at home more than normal. Absence from your dog is important for the ones that used to it but even for the ones that are not like those of you that have new puppies or ones that have existing separation related problems the following exercises will help:

  • Provide searching and foraging activities in a different room/garden than you are in (safe activities of course) not shutting them in there unless they are comfortable with this, just aiding with a little separation from each other. There is a link further below for lots of ideas but one simple foraging activity is to put out lots of cardboard boxes in a group on the floor or a box filled with safe recycling items in and scatter their dinner or healthy treats, for them to sniff out and find (for nervous dogs make it easy with not to many boxes or items to start with) put out a snuffle mat at the same time, if you have one too and leave them to it no encouraging or cheering them on, the idea is they decide if they want to and they can choose to be away from you.
  • If you have a Kong another option is to put a rope through the small hole end of it and tie a knot. Stuff the Kong with something they have to lick, then tie the long end of the rope to a piece of secure furniture (with no risk to the dog) in a different room again where you are not, I usually suggest having something comfortable for the dog to lie on, near it. If you have a chewer or a dog that gets easily frustrated this might not be the right activity for them.

If you do not normally work from home, some separation and being unavailable is going to be important for your dog at this time, even for the people that do, you are probably at home more than normal. Absence from your dog is important for the ones that used to it but even for the ones that are not like those of you that have new puppies or ones that have existing separation related problems the following exercises will help:

  • Provide searching and foraging activities in a different room/garden than you are in (safe activities of course) not shutting them in there unless they are comfortable with this, just aiding with a little separation from each other. There is a link further below for lots of ideas but one simple foraging activity is to put out lots of cardboard boxes in a group on the floor or a box filled with safe recycling items in and scatter their dinner or healthy treats, for them to sniff out and find (for nervous dogs make it easy with not to many boxes or items to start with) put out a snuffle mat at the same time, if you have one too and leave them to it no encouraging or cheering them on, the idea is they decide if they want to and they can choose to be away from you.
  • If you have a Kong another option is to put a rope through the small hole end of it and tie a knot. Stuff the Kong with something they have to lick, then tie the long end of the rope to a piece of secure furniture (with no risk to the dog) in a different room again where you are not, I usually suggest having something comfortable for the dog to lie on, near it. If you have a chewer or a dog that gets easily frustrated this might not be the right activity for them.

Those of you that have puppies that you are concerned about or a dog that struggles to be alone and you are worried about the impact, this is actually a good time to work on separation. The first thing we as behaviourists would advise is not to leave them alone at all and build on separation within the house and them being relaxed first, working in leaving them for seconds rather than minutes.

As well as the above points other places to start would be:

  • Within the house just going to simple places like the toilet or shower and closing the door. If they struggle and get distressed about this in anyway, have a treat pot in the toilet, pick up a handful, drop treats outside toilet door and shut the door every time you need to go.
  • When you need a bath or shower have a kong/chew ready and ask them to lie down on the bed whilst you go to the shower. If you have a dog/puppy that does get distressed leave the door open building on closing it but giving them an activity to do in another room close to the shower.

The important thing with separation training is you going in casually and come out casually. This is what you eventually need to do when leaving the house, this is not about ignoring them it’s about making it no big deal, so it’s normal. You do not want to be adding to how they feel, if you come out saying “I am so sorry I left you” verbally or in your body language, showing any anxiety yourselves, your dog will get distressed because you are.

Teaching a settle on a bed or blanket is also something that is useful to work on. You build on duration first and them truly relaxing and then build in doing short activities around them cleaning or when cooking building in distractions whilst they are still relaxed there. You would then work on distance but not aiming for the front door first, aim for them being at the kitchen door whilst you are at the cooker. Distance will be first before out of sight, before starting out of sight I always suggest to get a dog monitor or application if you have a smartphone and tablet, this enables you to watch for some of the subtle signals dogs give way before they start panting, becoming hyper vigilant, tense whining, barking or howling, you want to return to them before this whilst they are still chilled and relaxed. Do not force confinement or let them cry/whine/bark until they are quiet, this is outdated information it causes anxiety and high stress levels.

Periods of unavailability are important to, think about an activity you usually do and when you do it you dog often goes and rests away from you. Common times this happens (depending on the dog) are when you are on the phone, computer or reading a good book, you are usually completely unavailable and your dog often knows this because your body language indicates it. No eye contact, often looking away doing something else, so they often settle and rest, some almost relieved. It’s important to do activities where you are unavailable you cannot however fake this, you need to just go and do something else in the house. If you think about puppies we are on their case all the time watching them incase they wee or chew something and because of this some find it very difficult to settle in our company and this happens to adult dogs too, being unavailable sometimes is good to give your dog permission to just chill out.

If your dog is used to you going out if you can go out without them, I know there are limits around this but some alone time is important.


To start with there is such a thing as too much play, contrary to popular belief play often does the opposite to tiring a puppy/dog out, it usually makes the dog or puppy over aroused, some frustrated because of how we play and we often play for far too long particularly with puppies, which can make them over tired, nippy and restless or worse. This lockdown is leaving some people bored, be careful not to over do it with your dog, there needs to be a balance between play, eating, sleeping, resting, mental and environmental stimulation and training. Some of the signs of play has gone on to long or the dog is over aroused are as detailed in the below images from the vet behaviour team, you want to end the game way before these occur:

Obviously yes it is important to make time to play with your dogs for short periods but not at times where you need to work or do stuff or you will have a dog that pesters you all the time. Do not leave kids playing unattended watch how the children are playing with the dog. It’s important if the dog is sitting just chewing on the toy or moving away with it that no one tries to grab the toy off them

Rather than constantly playing ball which can be over arousing, be careful of football too, play other games that provide them outlets for natural behaviours such as:

  • Searching for the ball; if your dog knows a stay ask them stay, throw the ball into long grass, count to 5 then release them to find it. Leave patches of grass to grow long for this game in your garden as well.
  • Hide a toy in the house or garden and then let your dog in/out to find it. For newbies make easy.
  • Tug ensure they win, ensure they are bringing it to you, when you are trying to instigate a game remember to use the toy as if it is prey, don’t waggle it in their face prey doesn’t do that, run it along the floor in zig zag movements keeping it low. Be careful not to make the game frustrating and ensure they are bringing it back to you, don’t grab it off them if they just try to take it away its not an invitation to take it.

Like us, dogs don’t enjoy being teased, nor do they understand the difference between our toys and theirs, so it’s best to keep any toys they shouldn’t play with safely out of their reach.

Outlets for natural behaviours

Dogs need outlets for their natural behaviours and what each dog likes is different. Digging, searching, hunting, foraging, sniffing, chewing, water play are all examples of what dogs need and there are lots of ways this can be done during this period. Searching for treats or scattering their dinner is just one way to tire them out as sniffing is stimulating to some dogs and often very tiring. Enrichment done right is actually what tires dogs out, this also will help prevent your puppy/dog becoming bored, restless and getting up to mischief. Here is a great blog for 100 days of enrichment whatever you choose it should be stimulating and not frustrating, each dog is different always start with easy stuff first particularly for dogs that’s are fearful or lacking confidence.


Each person in the household can go out with the dog once a day but this should only be for the dogs who are used to it or you can continue this in the future. If there are not multiple people in the house make the walk longer and focus on really good quality sniffing and what they enjoy, this is the tiring bit. Dogs that are used to being off lead, avoid situations where they interact with other dog or people as it could mean you break the social distancing rules because you have to go and get them. Instead keep them on lead but clip them on a different point on their lead or change to a slightly longer lead to imitate being off and work on just letting your dog take the lead, as if they are off lead let them take you on an adventure. If you control the snifari walk then you may start to build in frustration and could trigger behaviour problems in the future.


A lot of people are worrying about the lack of socialisation for their dog or puppy at this time but I myself am really not. I think for most dogs this is actually a blessing. Firstly if you have a dog that is anxious or stressed out normally on walks, do not start taking them out more than usual particularly as people are looking different at the moment this will add to their anxiety unless your road is much quieter now. Those of you with puppies social distancing is good and I recommend this in generally anyway for all puppies, for the unsure puppies distance is important to make them feel more confident this allows them to observe at a distance without being overwhelmed and choose whether to investigate, it also allows the over friendly puppies to read people and other dogs body language from a distance when they are saying I am not interested. Puppies that are not used people you can do exercises at home where you dress up getting them used to different out fits, hats, high visibility wear, glasses, fancy dress and of course masks most dogs may find these a little odd. Do take your puppies out at different times of the day.

For those dogs that are socialites and struggle keeping a distance this is the perfect time to really work on rewarding disengaging from dogs, don’t try and get their attention when they see them just wait until they do disengage and pay them a lot with multiple treats to their mouth and ground as you are moving away, no pulling them, even if this takes time, the trick is to stay at distances where they can disengage. Have a really good game after the walk with them, these are the dogs that may need play increased slightly.


For those of you that have a dog that needs regular grooming, ensure you do this daily particularly if you usually rely on a groomer. It’s actually a great time to help them feel comfortable with it giving them short sessions and giving the choice to stop too. Pairing treats at every step even if it’s every brush and a tasty chew at the end, always give them other options when grooming put boxes, snuffle mats and kongs with food around during the session to allow them to have breaks. This is a great way to do regular check overs with your dogs.

My final note is like us dogs will get through this crisis, things will be different and there behaviour might change too but hopefully some of the above will help prevent this. Of cause if you are having specific behaviour problems and would like some advice I and many other trainers and behaviourist are still doing telephone, virtual-video sessions for training and behaviour and I do have a five week puppy course for those who have puppies and are concerned which I am now tailoring subjects to get puppies through this period.

Check out my website for more details.

I am signing off now, really missing seeing and interacting with all your canine companions.

Please keep safe and take care.


Dog Behaviour, Dog Training, Puppy

Don’t leave your dog hanging!


“This is a quick one today but I think it is a really important one because we often leave our dogs in a state of not realising when things are over, which can for some dogs lead to frustration and more desperate attempts to get more treats, play or more fuss. Now I like to teach dogs what I call “The End Signal” which can be named what ever you like but what it means is that we have finished whatever we were doing. I think this is fair because its really hard for some dogs particularly, to understand that now there is no more treats or now we have stopped training and there are some dogs that are particularly more addicted to training, play or fuss even, so its important for our own benefit as well as them to let them know that it is over now and there is no point carrying on trying. Your word can be anything; most people say all gone when it comes to treats, they might say enough, finished, go find or go play, what ever it is it needs to be consistent and I tend say use one word that means that is it, its finished. “Finished” and a hand gesture is useful for your dog, when we would use this is say we were training with them and we have been giving loads of treats and we have been doing some sits, downs and stays and I like to teach a settle at the end so they relax after at the end of the session we say “Finished” with the gesture so they go off and they know that it is the end of training, there is no more treats and we are going to put them away and its clear to them its futile to continue trying. This should apply when you are playing as well particularly for dogs that are ball obsessed but for any dog so they are not just left hanging there like “What happened?” you know we often just carry on, “oh we have done that bit now” and we will carry on doing whatever, we just need to let them know, right that is the end, its all gone you can go and sniff and relax now, so we are not training any more, we are not playing any more. You can obviously use that for fuss and anything where you dog tries to continue to pursue something. Finished means right go and settle down, go sniff if you want to, go an play with your mates whatever but what it should mean from us that it does mean the end. There is no point saying finished and then go and give your dog another treat at the end of that because you then undo what you are trying to achieve, you want your dog to understand that finish means no more now, you can do something else and I am going to do something as well. I cant say enough how important I feel this is for dogs because as i said it just leaves them understanding it is the end and they are not left in limbo. OK I told you it was a short one today so please do the usual like a subscribe and catch me next week take care.”

Dog Behaviour, Dog Training

Ask The Dog

My latest book is out, called ASK THE DOG. What made me write this book? Many things; my now 4 year old son, the adults that go straight up to dogs and stroke without asking because they are ‘dog lovers’, the people that have had dogs for years but are missing the subtle body language that dogs display, when they would prefer to be left alone, the number of children that try to come running up to us, when I am out with a client and their dog and of course the many cases I deal with where dogs have bitten.

Ask the dog by Joanne Hinds cover page mum and son asking a owner and the dog whether they are happy to be stroked

Children below the age of 15 account for a high percentage of all dog bites, with the most vulnerable group being kids around 5 or younger, with this group at higher risk of being bitten in the face and are more likely to require hospitalisation than older children. Nearly 90% of the dogs are known to the children that are bitten. Children unfortunately do not recognise canine emotional expressions like growling for example, very well and sadly boys seemed to recognise fearfulness less in dogs.  These are the many factors why I felt it was important for me to help educate children, parents and people in general, on how to recognise when dogs are saying they do not want to be touched.

Now let’s think about it, how much are we touched on a daily basis by known or unknown people? If we walked down the street stopping and physically touching people unsolicitedly, we would not only get some strange looks and make people feel uncomfortable but we might get someone shouting at us or worse. Now think about how much we physically touch and handle dogs. You could be having a BBQ for your friends and family, and as the family dog (big dogs in particular) moves from one room to the next, it may have been touched by at least 80% of the people in the room, just on the way through. Little dogs can often move away quicker but people often pick them up instead which makes them feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and threatened. Not many dogs like being picked up, an indication of this can be when they start licking your face repeatedly, ears back we like to call this the “Kiss to dismiss” which is often the dogs attempt to stop the interaction, see the following article on this by Family Paws Parent Education, they have some excellent information on keeping children safe on their website too. Yes there are some dogs that are on top of you licking you repeatedly because they do like being close but others only do this when you grab or hug/restrain them as this is not normal in the dog world, you don’t see dogs hugging and stroking each other.

Now it’s not just children that this book is aimed at, its for adults too, we are human and designed to read human behaviour, so we often miss when a dog doesn’t want to be engaged with. It’s a credit to many dogs that they don’t bite, many use the subtle signals like lip licking, turning a way and moving away to indicate that they do not want to be approached, and it’s only when these signals have been missed over and over that they have to use bigger displays like barking, growling, snapping or biting to get their message across more effectively. These behaviours are no different from us shouting, lunging or hitting at someone that made us feel uncomfortable too. The common thing I am told is my dog is so good, he tolerates anything we do to him and my response is but is that fair?

ASK THE DOG is about giving dogs the choice to interact or not, giving them the choice to say “No”, to keep people safe and to be mindful that dogs do not always want to be petted. It encourages children to make sure any dogs they encounter are happy to be stroked, and how to recognise signs that a dog may not want to be approached. The message is delivered in the form of a poem. With colourful, eye-catching illustrations to draw in younger readers and help to underline the points made in the text. 

Available in paper back and Kindle Ebook, get your copy today on the following link and help me spread the word so more people are kept safe.

Bye for now.

Dog Behaviour

Is your dog getting enough sleep?


In my job I go into a number of peoples homes where dogs are not getting enough sleep or even rest, they maybe getting sleep in the night but in the day they get none or worse they are restless at night too.  Over tiredness in dogs and puppies can cause all sorts of unwanted behaviour nipping and biting in puppies, in adults; biting when disturbed from sleep, some labelled “Grumpy” around people and other dogs and more. 

Adult dogs need on average 12 -14 hours of sleep if they are in sync with your own sleep patterns say 8 hours a night, they need to get the remaining hours through the day. Older dogs generally sleep more as they tire out more easily and I believe need rest in order to function properly. Puppies, like babies, spend a lot of time expelling energy while playing and exploring their new surroundings, it can be stressful learning human rules and learning about the world, which means they might need as much as 18 to 20 hours of sleep to recover.

Just like us sleep is vital for dogs, it gives the dogs body time to heal, a dog deprived of sleep will have a weakened immune system therefore more prone to sickness and putting them at risk of serious conditions. Lack of sleep also has a huge effect on mood state. As humans suffer from fatigue and increased risk of obesity, due to lack of sleep, we would be fooled to think this is not a risk for dogs too.

Sleep is also important for learning and retaining information. A study was done by the family dog project and they found sleep did help dogs with memory consolidation. This blog gives us an insight

There are many reasons why dogs are lacking sleep;

Inadequate or uncomfortable bed area

A plastic dog bed or hard floor is not comfortable for a dog and not conducive to having a good nights sleep or adequate sleep or rest in the day. In the wild dogs dig the earth to make it softer or choose the most comfortable resting spot they can find. Yes dogs do choose the floor as-well particularly if they are hot but some move around quite a bit during the night which you would notice if they were on your bed, which mean some struggle in crates for this reason too. If you have wooden, tiled or laminate flooring a moving bed is unsettling to and a nervous dogs won’t want to lay on it. Dogs are social animals and generally like to rest near us, a completely relaxed dependant dog would happily sleep away, a lot of people frequent the kitchen and tell me their dogs pester the visitors constantly, I look round the kitchen and see there is no where for the dog to just chill and calm down. I often ask people to get me a blanket or towel I lay it down near us and carry on talking to the owner leaving the dog be and the dog looks almost grateful and lies straight down.

Underfloor Heating 

This is another problem for some dogs particularly if you have this throughout the house, dog’s over heat quickly so having a place they can go where it is not heated is important. I get complaints about dogs digging up the garden, if your dog digs a hole and then lies in it, the main reason will be because either they have no comfortable place in the house or because they are digging to get to the cool earth underneath, if you don’t like it provide them an equivalent like a cool bed in the shade.

Multiple options

If you are not allowing your dog on the bed or furniture (yes you can by the way, this does not make them dominant), they need multiple options, each dog is different and have different bed preferences, cave, flat, thick, bean bag, beds with lips for dogs like short nose breeds, that need to lift their head to help them breathe, and some like some dogs like being covered up. Before you say it, no they are not “just a dog” and should not “just be grateful they get anything!” Some people who don’t let their dogs on the furniture have a daily battle with their dogs getting up there,  or worse the dogs become aggressive. Think about it, we often appear or become threatening first, Dave the dog is lying there minding his own business, nice and comfortable on the sofa or bed, having a lovely rest and then we suddenly come in telling them to get off, or sadly drag them off by their collar. Over time they start to defend themselves and no they don’t know they shouldn’t be on the furniture, they can just read in your body language that you are angry and this can be as simple as a look, so they either appease you with slinky body language as they don’t want conflict or they use aggression to defend themselves. I know what I am like when I am disturbed from sleep, ask my poor husband! 

Location, Location, Location

Your dog should have at least one bed where there is no foot traffic, away from where your children play loads and the hustle and bustle of a busy household, never located near a cupboard that is frequently used etc. 

Many locations where dogs sleep, like the kitchen for example have no window blinds/curtains these days, which means dogs get disturbed by all the critters that wake up at night, that we are not even aware off. This can make them more anxious or on high alert and no blinds mean it can make them rise when the sun does. Often people tell me their dog doesn’t use the bed that they bought them at all, this is either because the bed is not the right one for the dog, they might not find it comfortable or are not used to the texture, or it is located where the dog is not comfortable, is there a draught, is it to close to the radiator, is it facing the front window where it’s bombarded with perceived threats e.g. people and/or dogs walking by that make them uncomfortable? If they are crated, again there should be a bed or at least a crate mat like the one here. There should be enough room so that your dog can stand up fully, and lie down with their legs stretched fully without touching the crate walls.

Crates ideally should not be forever. Of course some dogs love them and would choose the crate or den area over everything else, that is absolutely fine just be sure they are getting adequate sleep in there.

Let sleeping dogs lie

Never disturb your dog when resting or sleeping, yes if they are on your lap it’s fine to stroke them, although once they are a sleep try not to. If they have decided to sleep away from you on their bed or on the other end of the couch, leave them alone and ensure children do too! Don’t decide I want to play with them and wake them up. I know they look adorable, but don’t be tempted to give them a stroke, it’s annoying. We touch dogs far more than they would touch each other, if we did it to people as frequently it would be classed as inappropriate and irritating, give them a break.  Most people hate being touched in their sleep, it’s startling and unsettling, why are we shocked when a dog snaps or is grumpy when they are woken constantly, if it doesn’t happen frequently then they are less likely to react this way, but lack of sleep in general can trigger snapping and it’s quite common in fearful/anxious dogs that need help in other areas of their life.

The Bed Chewer

For a dog that chews beds, try multiple old towels or duvets, rather than spending a fortune on beds, under supervision of course, particularly if they swallow what they chew. Reintroduce the bed differently focusing on calm activities, encouraging them to lie down in a relaxed position, and giving them Kongs filled with something they have to lick, as opposed to dropping it, or chews that take them a while. Ensure to reintroduce the bed slowly, managing access to it at first. Be sure it’s not on a slippery surface because ones that move, can attract chewing particularly in puppies, as it becomes a fun toy just like puppy pads. 

Visiting other locations

When visiting restaurants, cafes, friends homes etc always take a comfortable familiar mat too, this helps dogs feel more relaxed having a recognised space to go to, this is especially important if you are going to a house where another dog resides. The floor inside and outside a cafe/restaurant, is hard and freezing on a cold day and on a hot day they must have the option to move into the shade as dogs over heat quickly. Ensure they are not trapped with no escape route in these places and ask people to not touch them, the mat should be there safe place, only letting people stroke your dog, if your dog is indicating they want the attention. As mentioned I personally really like these they are designed for dog crates however they are handy to take with you, they have an anti slip surface and double up as a snuffle mat too, win win. Others use bath mats, both can be rolled up. I have also seen some very thoughtful owners put an item of their clothing down, if they have nothing else.


A final point to consider is how comfortable is your dog’s collar. If you can, pop it round your neck, arm or leg and lie down on it, is it comfortable does it dig in. Take collars off at night to give them a break, popping it back on in the morning before breakfast, it’s always advisable to take collars off when puppies are in crates anyway, incase they get their tag trapped which can cause choking and particularly when two dogs are left alone together as there has been many cases, where the dog has caught its jaw in the other dog’s collar, there are always risks they can get hung on things.

As you can see there are many things as behaviourists, we have to consider when looking at a dogs behaviour. It’s important to be mindful and try and think from your dog’s point of view.

Who knew that sleeping can be so complicated hey!

Bye for now. 

Dog Behaviour

Is there such a thing as oversocialisation?

As a dog trainer and behaviour advisor that works on a one to one basis with my clients, I spend a lot of time in areas where people regularly socialise their dogs, whether that’s is a local park that consists of a rectangular patch of grass with a park in like Warrender, the woods, busy places like Ruislip Lido or Rickmansworth Aquadrome, country parks like Black Park, Langley Park, Denham Country Park, Large green spaces like Horsenden Hill or just a local walk round the block. One thing that is for sure is there is a huge dog owning community. As a behaviour advisor I know you have to look at every dog as an individual, every dog I come across or work with have completely different back grounds and upbringings which can also vary between dog to dog within the same household. One type of dog that has inspired me to write this blog is the number of Street Dogs I am now seeing as clients, most of the ones I have seen so far have lived on the streets so it’s vital that they can communicate effectively with other dogs, they mostly avoid conflict as much as possible as they need to stay uninjured and healthy to survive. These dogs come over here I find often have excellent body language but do find our dogs difficult to interact with initially, which can make the Street dog appear unsociable.

Dogs socialisation varies hugely, you can take 5 dogs that have all been to the same socialisation classes but all 5 could have a had a different experience; depending on their own emotional state generally and during the class, how the other dogs were, how their guardians handled them in the class, the guardians emotional state at the time, if anything spooked them in the class, stress that they had been through a few days before the class and so much more.

One piece of bad advice that goes around is, that you should let dogs get on with it “they will sort it out themselves”. This is a massive mistake and hugely unfair especially on puppies that are just finding out about the world of dogs and the different kinds of dog breeds there are, if they go down the park and get in trouble by every dog, do you think that they will continue to want to socialise with dogs. Using an older dog as a stooge dog, putting them in a position which makes them have to tell other dogs to back off is unfair too. Older dogs are sometimes in pain, do not have as much energy to play or interact anymore, which means they are far less tolerant understandably and what about the dog that has been attacked previously should they just be left get on with it with a dog that is intimidating them or over aroused and won’t take no for an answer. I am finding there are lots of dogs out there that play inappropriately and some owners, dog walkers and dog sitters do not recognise what is appropriate and what is not.

Now I can hear some people say they are dogs they will work it out, they will soon learn when another dog has had enough and this may have worked for your one particular dog. Unfortunately this is not always the case, I deal with many dogs thats companions have taken exactly that approach, with regards to their interaction with other dogs. You have the ones in the park that are allowed to run up (or can’t be stopped) to any dog whether the dog is on or off lead, these dogs are usually over aroused and often do not read other dogs body language well or are not sure how to interact so end up over the top. Now firstly if this dog has run up to an owner that has a dog that is not comfortable with other dogs not necessarily one that may fight (which generally stems from fear) but I mean the ones that throw them selves on their back and if that fails tries to get away as quickly as possible. This can be pretty traumatic for both dog and owner, leaving them in a state of stress for a few days or more. The dogs that bark and try to instigate play with every dog not leaving them alone, these dogs usually have played like this or have been allowed to play inappropriately with other dogs that play in the same way, allowing them to practice and be proficient in play that is not suitable with most dogs. On top of this we have breeds that are bred that can be over social, crosses that have low frustration tolerance and more.
What’s not fair is these dogs often can be turned on regularly by other dogs and eventually can understandably get very offended when another dog growls, barks or bite to indicate they don’t want to play. I am then often called in to see the inappropriate player type dogs, as they have now started to understandably react back over time; as they are frustrated that the other dog didn’t play, appearing confused why they keep getting into trouble, they can often appear unpredictable and end up fighting during play due to high stress levels.

Now this is no fault of the dog guardians out there, it is likely that no one has told you what is appropriate or inappropriate, our gut instincts usually do but we often ignore this because of pressure other dog guardians put on us, they might say they are ok leave them be etc.. especially if you are a new owner as you will feel other dog owners know more than you. I will let you into a secret shh “just because someone has had dogs for thirty years, does not mean they have been getting it right or that they are an expert in dog body language” the average dog owners do not know the subtle signals dogs give way before they growl bark and bite.

Let’s have a look at Play and what to look out for:

Questionable Play
Best to call your dog to you positively before things go too far. If you are not careful this could lead to fall out.

  •  If one dog is always being picked on and there is more than one other dog involved, this should be stopped.
  • Tugging and dragging the other by the collar, harness or body parts
  • If the chasing is mis-matched and one dog is trying to hide or get away, this type of play needs to be interrupted, always interrupt positively.

Inappropriate Play
Interrupt positively and move away

  •  Biting of the neck or other parts of the body.
  • Barking at the other dog, especially in their faces.
  • Bullying the other dog to play
    Humping, this is done by both sexes, it does not mean sex, it is often a sign of anxiety
  • Air snaps. This is I don’t want to continue
    Standing with his head over the other dogs shoulders.
  • Stalking
  • Body slamming. NO WAY. Not appropriate.
  • Pinning or mouth round neck
  • Dogs forming a gang
  • Unsupervised play

Sometimes it’s difficult to interrupt as both dogs will be concentrating on where the play may lead so try and wait for natural breaks in the play. The moment you get their attention call them over and then move on with your walk.

If another dog has run over to yours and yours clearly does not want to play i.e. looking away, turning away, walking away sniffing as if they are doing something else try and increase the distance between you and the other dogs owner, by moving in the direction you want to go this will help the dog (and the other owner) get a clear message both you and your dog do not want to engage and don’t be afraid to say “please can you get your dog”.

Play bows are also not always a sign to indicate they want to continue playing, sometimes it seems to be used to defuse a situation that might appear to be getting out of hand.

Appropriate Play
This is reciprocated and there is a give and take aspect. The dogs are having fun. Dogs have relaxed body language and may appear a bit “goofy”. Playing chase is a sharing opportunity, where they may take it in turns. Do a consent test if you are not sure: hold the chaser and see if the other dog still wants to engage in play.

We often leave our dogs far to long playing, which means they become hyper aroused and find it difficult to calm down, if anyone knows what an overtired toddler is like it’s exactly the same. Some dogs even though you can see they are exhausted will not let up. These are usually the hyperaroused dogs or the ones with addictive personalities!

The problem is society put high unrealistic expectations on dogs, that they should get on with every dog they meet. This means we put a lot of pressure on dogs to socialise without really understanding what is appropriate and what is not. We don’t get on with everyone, there are people that can frustrate us or anger us and this is what happens with dogs. The first thing everyone does is tries to expose their puppy as much as possible to as many dogs as possible including going to puppy parties, having friends over with dogs, meet ups, dog walkers and more often this is too much. Some dogs just are not interested in playing with other dogs especially strangers, we don’t chat or play with all the strangers we meet, don’t force dogs to be social if they are not interested if however they are showing that they are uncomfortable by growling, barking or biting seek professional help. All interactions should be about choice and going at your puppies or dogs pace without pressurising them.

What I aim for and I explain to the clients I work with are the nice “hi” sniff butts “bye” interactions where the dogs have a short relaxed interaction like we do, when we politely say “hello” to our neighbours when we pass them by or where we exchange small pleasantries and move on. Standing in the middle of park chatting to other owners, or dog walkers that stand stationary whilst the dogs rough house for long time, is what I avoid, this often causes over arousal if you stand back and look at the group of dogs at least one of them often actually want to move on with their walk not stand stationary, after all there is so much more to explore. Standing in a group is unfair on the dogs that don’t want to be played with or have had enough. This kind of stress can send the dogs back home in a adrenaline filled hyper-aroused state, which means they sometimes find it difficult to relax. Sniffing and interacting with the environment is far more important for dogs for their emotional well being and tires them.

The owners that are naturals have it right you know the ones they just walk their dogs without thinking about it, they will say a brief “Hi” whilst continuing to walk their dog, their dogs often have great body language and interact with other dogs briefly but politely and may have a short brief play, which is much more like the interaction of how dogs are that live on the street and why there often is not as much conflict.

Let’s all aim for short polite relaxed interactions!

Dog Behaviour, Dog Training

10 Reasons why dogs pull

Ever wonder why some people just struggle to stop there dog pulling, even though they have been to many training classes. Lack of time of course is one reason, if a dog has not been taught from a puppy to walk on a loose lead, it take a lot more time, effort and dedication to correct this behaviour and lots and lots of patience!

However there are a number of reasons why dogs pull on the lead:

We pull first

Pulling against a dog that is pulling away from you is counter productive, if you pull them back they will pull forward it is as simple as that. This is why techniques like jerking on the lead or simply pulling them back, makes them pull away from you and sometimes even pull more.

We take control

If we dictate their every move on the lead, insisting on being at heel, correcting the position manually or constantly stopping them sniffing, they again will fight against you to get to the sniff that they want and in fact need, dogs get a lot of information from sniffing and stopping them can cause frustration and even anxiety. There needs to be a compromise between us and our dogs without them having to drag us.

Wants to get home

If your dogs is pulling on the way home, it is could be that either your walk is too long or see point 8 your dog is not enjoying the walk.

To get to something

Is your dog one that walks nicely until they see a cat, squirrel, person or another dog. 9/10 times this is because of how we handle the lead, over time you can trigger the behaviour because by pulling them back, you make the target much more interesting then it really is. Like toddlers you take something away from them they want it even more. We pull the dog away sometimes before they have even seen the stimuli.

Practiced behaviour

If dogs pull and we follow they learn to get where they want to go, this is standard advice because yes of course the behaviour get rehearsed, however I always look at what they are pulling for. Taking your dog out when you are rushed, means you are more likely to encourage pulling as the dogs feel pressured into just walking and can potentially put them in a sense of fight or flight. Pulling to the park gets them to the park is another saying. Often this is also because the park has become more rewarding than the journey to the park or that it’s more relaxing for them there away from busy loud traffic for example.

Too short a lead

If you walk your dog on a short lead, a lead you wrap round your hand or even standard length leads, do not allow the dog enough freedom to explore as much as they need to, so some dogs learn to pull quickly and shoot across you just to get that sniff they are longing for.

Different Pace

Your dog just the same as other people, walks at a different pace than you. Your dog has four legs you have two, your dog has to learn to match your pace and that’s difficult, this is why during lead walking training, they often drift forward to their natural pace. You try keeping up with someone that walks faster or even slower than you, you will not sustain that pace for long!

Wrong equipment

Ill fitted or poorly designed dog walking equipment like harnesses, can cause discomfort due to rubbing or preventing relaxed strides, it is like a pair of uncomfortable shoes this can trigger dogs to pull to relieve the pain. Getting the right harnesses is key see my blog poorly fitted harness blog 

and another two often overlooked reasons…


Commonly these dogs pull on the way home, pull past busy places, pull anxiously when other dogs/people/or traffic is approaching. Dogs that are scared of noises are often ones that pull, like they want to get the walk over as soon as possible. Fear on walks is something that should be addressed professionally, fear and stress can have long term health implications and effect behaviour, seek help from a professional behaviour advisor.


Dogs that have an injury, pain or discomfort can often find trotting or walking fast relieves the pressure. Dogs do not show injury or pain easy, pain has to be at about a 6 to see something like limping and about 10 for them to Yelp. Often the first sign of pain is behaviour change.

You see, pulling on the lead is not just about training, the above points are just some of the many factors that you need to consider when working on lead walking.

This is why lead walking techniques like, jerking, luring them back into position and changing direction, does not work for a lot of dogs. Not all dogs and I would actually go as far as to say most dogs are not happy walking to heel either and you know what it’s not necessary for a dog to walk to heel, or and asking them to be on the same side all the time can cause imbalances in the body as they are always look at you one side and not the other causing tension in the neck back and more and guess what they can be in front of you as well, it does not mean the dog is being dominant. Your walk should be a compromise between you and your dog, learn how to help him cope when anxious and work on a good loose lead walking technique that allows your dog to sniff and explore what they want but with out them pulling/dragging you down the street to do it.

Dog Behaviour

What Dogs Like

As some of you may know, I have recently published a children’s book called “What Dogs Like“, a story in rhyme with an important safety message on bite prevention. Nearly 80% of dog bites are from the family or a friends dog. Written as a read-along-rhyme with informative illustrations, “What dogs Like” helps educate young people as well as their parents, on how to behave around their canine friends.

What inspired me to write this particular book was a few things; my little boy, the news with headlines like “family dog attacked out of the blue” and the many uncomfortable pictures/videos shared on social media on a daily basis, with children sometimes laying on, picking up or maybe even hugging their dog, with the dog using as many signals as possible to indicate it is not comfortable.

Firstly it is very rare for dogs to just bite out of the blue, unless there is an underlying medical condition, dogs give many subtle signals way before they growl, bark or bite. It’s a credit to the majority of dogs that most tolerate us as adults let alone younger children who are often unpredictable and are learning and investigating the world themselves, which often includes poking and prodding the family dog. I work with many dogs that have bitten or are close to that stage and their owners are often shocked that it has happened, commenting that they felt like it came out of the blue, but then when we go back through the dogs history, there has been a number of times the dog had been indicating its fearful, frustrated or just uncomfortable. Even if your dog appears to be ok, tolerates the children and hasn’t ever reacted negatively, does not mean they are comfortable.

It’s time for parents to help educate children and themselves and be an expert on what their dog and others are trying to tell us. Recognising the many subtle signals dogs use, way before they have to even growl. Lets all work together at reducing bite statistics to an all time low in children (and adults)!

Signs to look for:

  • Dog avoids children (not always as obvious with your own) often taking its self into another room when others visit
  • Pulling head back, turning away or backing off, ears back
  • Showing the whites of their eyes cautiously glaring, looking unsure
  • Yawning when not tired
  • Constantly panting
  • Tongue flick when no food is present
  • Hard eyes like they are concentrating or just staring
  • Tense Stiff Body and Tail, with mouth often closed

Common times these behaviours are displayed:

  • When being picked up
  • When approached especially when resting, eating or playing with a toy
  • When patted on the head
  • When being cuddled and restrained
  • When being dressed up
  • When being handled
  • When punishing them
  • When being forced to do something they don’t want to do

What to do:

  • If you have real concerns, seek a qualified dog behaviour advisor please see the following link to find yours
  • Always ensure your dog has somewhere they can retreat to, where they will not be disturbed.
  • Pair the arrival of children with something that the dog doesn’t normally get, a tasty toy or chew but again ensure they have this where they will not be disturbed.
  • Help your dog out, if they are giving any of the above signals, redirect the child away from the dog, so the dog does not have to resort to growling, barking or biting to make the child go away.
  • Teach children the rules:
  1. When eating, resting and sleeping leave the dog alone.
  2. Dog must stay on the ground (No picking the dog up!).
  3. Adults manage unwanted behaviour in the dog, not children (No telling the dog off).
  4. No touching the dogs collar, no leading them around by it or pushing the dog around.
  5. Stroking must be on the dogs terms; ask the child to call the dog over, if the dog comes it probably is happy to be stroked but if it doesn’t come forward, leave the dog alone.
  6. When stroking the dog pause and see if the dog wants to move away, if they don’t carry on stroking.
  7. Stroking must be from collar to tail on the side or a scratch on the chest.
  8. If the children want to engage with the dog, let them hide a few treats or the dogs toy (if he is comfortable with that), around the house and get the dog to “find it”, always under adult supervision.

The Family Dog does some great videos to help children on appropriate behaviour around dogs see

“What Dogs Like” is available in both paperback and digital in many online book stores follow the link to order yours now

Dog Behaviour, Dog Training, Puppy

A Walk to Remember

How stimulating is your dogs walk?

Is it round the block or the same park once a day?

Do you always take the same route?

Has your walks become predictable and stagnant?

The best way to know if your walk has become stagnant is by looking at your dog, does he avoid being put back on the lead, when you reach the car or a certain point on the walk? Along with predictable walks often comes poor recall. Does your dog on the walk, stick there heels in and want to go in a different direction. Does your dog know the route off by heart. If your dog pulls you all the way to the park, again the walk has become predictable as your dog knows you always go there.

Our dogs lives are very much dictated by us humans, we decide when they eat, play, at worse; when they have to sit and lie down and of course when they get the privilege to leave the confinement of the house and garden, and go for “their” walk. You may have a lovely big house with a large garden but it is vital that dogs as well as us get out the house and get stimulation from many different environments too. When we think of walking the dog, the main thing we often think about is exercise. For our dog however it is much more than that. It’s a chance to finally get out of the house, no matter how big or small your home is, it is still the same four walls your dog sees day in and day out, they cannot decide to leave, its all dictated by us, when and if we decide to take them. Think about it from a human perspective, when you are stuck in the house for one reason or another you can end up getting cabin fever. A walk for a dog means a chance to explore, take in new sights, smells, meet people, other dogs and much more. When you walk your dog try and keep one thing in mind “The walk is for your dog and he/she might need it more than you”. How we walk our dogs can have a huge impact on there mood state and can cause all-sorts of on lead problems, lead frustration, reactivity to other dogs, people and more.

When you start taking your dog just on round the block walks, you make the walk boring for your self, in turn the walk then becomes a chore “I have to walk the dog” exercise is important for dogs but so is the quality of walks, if your dog is not allowed to sniff, it’s not being naturally stimulated, studies have revealed that dogs get a lot of information from scent, such as when the last dog was about, what sex they were and more. If we constantly interrupt the sniffing, this makes the walk unpleasant and could make your dog anxious as its is not getting full information about the dogs that are around. Let the walk be about them. Variety is the spice of life, keep your walks interesting go to different places, woods, fields, canals, parks, lidos, journey in the car to different places, go in different directions. Walking in the same direction round in a circle in a park two or three times can be frustrating too, you walk round the path meet a dog, you walk on again then repeatedly meet the same dog, this can be frustrating for both dogs.

Now some of you may have a dog that does not like walks, they are fearful of cars, novelty, busy places, you may have a dog that is reactive to other dogs or people, these behaviours must be addressed for the health and well being of your dog, so please seek professional modern advice. These are behaviours that can be changed with the right person helping you, they should work with you at your dogs pace and help you both enjoy getting out again. If you don’t like the idea of letting your dog sniff because you have a dog that constantly picks things up of the floor, this may be because you have accidentally reinforced the behaviour, by making everything they picked up from a pup a big deal or they are not getting the opportunity to forage naturally see my Banish the Food Bowl blog for some ideas. If your dog is a puller find a good trainer to help you teach them to walk loosely on lead. If your dog has a condition which means it cannot walk for long, drive it to different places, if you also have a condition which means you cannot go far again either drive to new places or hire a dog walker

Don’t make your walk all about throwing a toy/ball for your dog either, this can actually keep their arousal levels high, which I typically hear from owners who says they have played for an hour and the dog comes home with as much energy as they went with. This kind of exercise is like going to the gym, when you have finished your work out, you are full of endorphins, which make you feel good and gives you more energy. Ball throwing can make some dogs obsessive and can stop them doing natural behaviours like sniffing and exploring. This in turn can also make them so obsessed that they pull all the way to the park rather than enjoying the journey too. This can then be a dog that is highly stressed out on the lead and can trigger other unwanted behaviour. Although it is vital to play with our dogs, throwing a ball is overused by us and is generally for our own convenience, to “exercise” the dog by us standing still, it is not a natural behaviour for them to be solely focused on a ball or toy of any sort. It often causes conflict/fights with other dogs in the park when your dog becomes possessive of it. It is normal for a dog to resource guard however it is not normal for your dog to resource aggress. I have spoken to a lot of physiotherapists and they say if they had their way they would ban ball play altogether, as it causes many injuries in dogs, sometimes that their owners are not even aware of, dogs are good at hiding pain. Dogs that are injured can act out of character and be more reactive generally. Now as mentioned it is crucial you still play with your dog, but you can play hide and seek with the ball instead, or hide and seek yourself so your dog has to find you as well, this game is a good way of strengthening recall.

Walks also where you take your dog for a jog/run with you or on a bike ride, also can be unpleasant for dogs, especially if this is the main way you walk them. On these kind of walks they are forced to run with you and can only generally stop when you decide, their arousal levels will also be high from this type of endurance exercise, it’s not particularly relaxing or stimulating, again make sure your dog is getting something out of this kind of walk.

A walk where your dog gets to investigate and explore is much more rewarding than a dog that is marched from A to B in a strict heel, when your dog is looking at you the whole time on the walk, who’s the walk benefiting, this is not the only way to stop your dog pulling their are other techniques out there, in fact in my time working with dogs, just changing the equipment the dog is walked on and allowing them to sniff has made a significant improvement to dogs that usually pull and ones that are reactive on lead. Those of you that know me, will know that for many years I have not taught heel walking and instead have taught loose lead walking, the dog still learns that pulling on the lead gets them no where and they are taught to correct their own behaviour. The compromise is that if they do not pull, they get to sniff what they like pretty much when they like. More about my lead walking technique in my later blog!

Now you can teach two different walks, as I am aware that some times you need to get to places with your dogs, you can teach one where you want there nose off the floor and one where they can sniff until there hearts content however make the no sniffing walk the exception rather than the rule!! Try not to take your dog out when you do not have much time or if you do, make the walk shorter but allowing them to sniff more, they will get more out of this kind of walk than a rushed stressful one.

You may feel you have no time for the kind of walks I am describing but you need to make time for the health and wellbeing of your dog, so miss that episode of Eastenders and make your dogs walk interesting.

Of course for those of you that already provide variety for you dogs, keep up the good work!

Dog Behaviour, Dog Training, Puppy

Banish the Food Bowl

There are many behaviour problems that can be resolved in our dogs by just providing them with mental and environmental stimulation. One way of doing this is by Interactive feeding. For many years we have fed our dogs out of food bowls, as this is the way we eat ourselves off a nice clean plate. Many dogs don’t enjoy eating this way, some may take the food from the bowl and then eat it off the floor, others may regularly go off there food, especially the ones that have one large meal once a day (not good for many reasons) or ones that have their food left down all day, imagine me leaving your roast dinner on a plate all day and expect you to eat it, you might pick at it because you are hungry, but would you really enjoy it! Now if you look back in history at how dogs evolved, you will find that they are natural foragers, eating small quantities up to 12 times a day or more and of course hunting is a strong instinct that we have bred into them too although most dogs no longer consume prey. Although a large number of dogs are now bred to be family pets, they still have these instincts hard wired into them. You see this when they raid the bin, when they watch the floor like a hawk when you are preparing food, just incase you drop a bit, when they pick up everything that looks like food on their walks. Dogs have natural instincts and needs to but we are so busy making them conform to our lifestyle dictating how, when and where they do things, they can often get frustrated as they have no job to do. When dogs are lacking mental stimulation they often go what we like to term as “Self Employed”. Your dog may hunt socks, the remote control, chase shadows or reflections, pace the house looking for something to do, chew, start barking at things and more. Now I don’t recommend exactly encouraging them to use the hunting skills they were bred for i.e. hunting birds, local vermin or the neighbours cat but we can provide them an equivalent.

It’s time to change the way we feed our dogs!

At the very minimum dogs should be fed their daily recommended allowance twice a day, this helps sustain their energy levels, but splitting it down to 3, 4 or more meals is even better. After all how often do we eat if we include snacks.

Use every meal time, everyday for the rest of there lives, as an opportunity to mentally stimulate your dog, there are many ideas out there nowadays  and the good thing about this type of stimulation, is you can do it no matter how old your dog is. Here are a few suggestions:

Please note: It’s important that your dog enjoys it, feed differently at different meal times to keep it interesting and make sure it is not so hard that it’s almost impossible to get the food out

  • The simplest way to start off with (if your dog is on a dry complete food, wet food could get messy!) is by scatter feeding, which literally means throwing the food all over the kitchen floor, out in the garden or even on your walk, just make sure other dogs are not around, alternatively use a snuffle mat you can make your own too see here.
  • Hide some portions of the meal around the house or in the garden in small piles, at first let your dog see where you put it and say “find it” once your dog understands what you are doing make the game more challenging by hiding it whilst they are out of sight.
  • There are obviously the classics like the Kong or the cheaper version Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude, which are so versatile you can put the dry food loose in them to start off with making it easy, then if you have multiple ones you can then hide them in different places around the house. You can soak their dry food, stuff them with it and then freeze them, making a popcicle for hot days or just use feed wet complete food stuffed in it. These are good for when visitors arrive too.
  • There are plenty of other Interactive feeding toys on the market now, like the Kong Wobbler or the Buster Activity Mat, just ensure they are not too over exciting or frustrating. see the following link for many more ideas

Of course the cheaper alternative is to make your own. If your dog likes to chew and consume then some of these ideas are not for them, always supervise your dog and remove the item when empty, and completely if you have any concerns of them choking on or swallowing bits. Again there are some innovative homemade ideas out there:

  • Snuffle mat
  • Refill old marrow bones
  • Fill up Plastic bottles (with lid and ring round neck removed) with there dry food
  • Old slightly split tennis balls can be filled and dotted round the house or garden to hunt and find
  • For your diggers out there; take 1 cardboard box and hide the meal between layers of fleece, towels, plastic milk cartons, toys etc
  • Wrap the food in an old blanket or towel
  • Take one juice carton, remove any plastic, rinse, dry and fill
  • Buy a cheap kids ball pit, scatter the food in with the balls

With some of the interactive toys you might need to help them to start off with, showing them how it comes out. You must then leave them to try and work it out themselves, this is how it becomes stimulating for them. Always make sure the toys are not left down after they have finished with them, to keep them novel and interested the next time. Ensure your dog has opportunities to rest, there should be a balance between mental stimulation which includes sniffy walks as well as ample opportunities to rest and sleep.

Be inventive and share your ideas in the comments below.

Lets make our dogs lives even more interesting.

Thats me for now, will blog again real soon…