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Ten Tips for a Successful Doggy Playdate

Playdates for dogs are an increasingly popular calendar fixture for dog owners. The fact that these most sociable of animals like to socialise should not come as a great surprise. But there is, of course, far more to a successful get-together than simply unleashing a kennelful of canines into your back garden!

Our ten tips will help ensure that your pooch party goes with a woof rather than a snarl.

1. Don’t Invite Enemies!

The guest list is possibly the most obvious party-success factor of them all, but it is one that often gets ignored. For example, your friend might have a Jack Russell that your Labradoodle simply hates. And yet inviting your friends and their dogs is an obvious thing to do when arranging a doggy date. A territorial or bad-tempered dog that doesn’t get along with your pet is not going to be the life and soul of your doggy date. And, of course, your own dog needs to be a sociable hound host, too.

2. Avoid Chalk-and-Cheese Syndrome

Dogs tend to play best with friends of their own size and of a similar age. An older dog doesn’t want to be harassed by a bunch of excitable puppies, and a small terrier doesn’t always want to be stalked by an enthusiastic pack of Retrievers. An overweight or arthritic dog may suffer, too – they may want to keep up with the others, so as not to miss out on the fun, which may result in more harm than good.

The exception to the chalk-and-cheese rule is when dogs already know each other. If you know they’re friends already, invite them – although you still need to watch out for the reactions of the other guests.

3. Keep the Numbers Down

The difference between a happy group of dogs and a rowdy pack is a fine line. As a rule of thumb, keep the number of dogs to six or below on a doggy date, to keep things under control.

4. Invite Humans Too!

A doggy date isn’t an excuse for owners to leave their dogs in a crèche for a couple of hours. It only works if the owners are present; and an owner who brings more than one dog should, ideally, bring more than one human too.

5. Make Sure the Space is Suitable

There are all kinds of places you can hold a doggy playdate, whether indoors or outdoors, and the guest list should match the space. Six Huskies in a kitchen isn’t going to work, and open gates or gaps in a fence are just asking for trouble. You will also need to dog-proof the room or the garden, removing access to anything that’s fragile, toxic, edible or out-of-bounds for whatever other reason. The host dog and its guests should not have their own toys or bones lying around, either – all available toys should be neutral. If the host dog is very territorial, it simply isn’t going to work unless you arrange the playdate in a neutral space.

6. Meet and Greet

The dogs should all be formally introduced before the doggy date begins, even if they have met before. Owners should have their pets on a lead, and the dogs should be made to sit, in a semicircle so they can all see each other. They can then mingle on loose leads. Only when everything is looking sociable should the dogs be let off the lead completely. Any dissenters will have to be kept on a lead until they get into the spirit of the party. If, for whatever reason, one of the doggy guests falls out with another, it should be led quietly away on a lead until the situation has calmed down.

7. Allow Downtime

Some dogs have more energy, patience or bravery than others. On a doggy date, it always helps to have a hidey hole where a dog that needs to catch its breath can take time out. For smaller dogs, this can be the owner’s arms. Larger dogs will need a quiet corner, indoors or out. In a larger garden, they will be able to find their own space to chill. Dogs are very good at body language, and the others will recognise that the resting dog is doing just that, and not playing hide and seek.

8. Provide Refreshments

Busy dogs will need to drink, so one or more drinking bowls is essential. A supply of treats will keep the edge off their appetites, too.

9. Play Some Party Games

Games of fetch, hide and seek, sit and wait, agility tests or obstacle courses are all great ways to keep the party happy and active. Treats can be used as prizes!

10. Avoid Too Much Sun

If it’s a really hot day, an outdoor doggy date will needs lots of shade, lots of water and should involve only the very fittest dogs. Heat can be a health hazard for weaker animals. Remember – you can always postpone.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


9 Things Humans Do That Annoy Our Dogs


Photo by Matthew Foulds on Unsplash

1. We talk too much

Dogs don’t know English, and they won’t understand syntax and grammar however much you try to teach them. As you can imagine, it will be extremely frustrating having a human shouting incomprehensible noises at you.

Dogs like learning spoken commands and connecting them to actions, but won’t be able to understand anything longer than a short sentence, and will be very confused when you start using new ways of telling them to do things. If you’ve taught them the command “Drop” to get them to give you a stick or a toy, then “Leave” or “Let go” or “Give me that, you silly sausage!” won’t be of much use.

2. We let other people into our territory

Humans think it’s normal to go to other people’s houses, and to let individuals from outside the pack come into your and your dog’s territory. This will annoy some dogs immensely, and can actually make them really stressed, so don’t be surprised if they treat visitors with suspicion. 

If you want to invite other dogs into your house, it might be a good idea to let the dogs meet on a walk beforehand, on neutral grounds. Most dogs will be absolutely fine with sharing their space, but it’s always best to minimise the risk of arguments. 

3. We stare at them

We think that eye contact is something beautiful that is needed for bonding, and with both our own dogs and new ones we meet we tend to look into their eyes as we’re saying hello. Most dogs don’t appreciate this. While loving gazes between you and your pup is often accepted, being stared down by a stranger can be extremely stressful for a dog. They see the focused stare as a challenge, and might consider you a threat, so try to avoid eye contact with dogs you don’t know.

4. We hug them

This is a slightly contentious topic, but many people mean that while dogs accept our hugs, they don’t like them. It depends on the dog, but some feel very nervous and stressed when we interfere with their personal space, and placing your arms around a strange dog’s neck can be seen as a threat. 

Most dogs like cuddling, and nearly all love scratching, so if you want to be sure you can show your affection with a belly rub and shared sofa rather than constraining your pup with your weird human arms. 

5. We don’t let them sniff on walks

For dogs, walks are not just about exercise. While we humans can stop to enjoy beautiful scenery, dogs explore the world much less visually, and prefer to snuffle around for interesting smells. This also provides them with great mental stimulation that will tire them out just as much as the actual walking, so try to be patient with your dog and let him or her stop, sniff and mark as much as they like on a walk.

6. We change our shape and smell

Dogs change their coat roughly once a year, whereas humans change clothes every day, use different hand soaps, spray themselves with perfume and use cleaning products in their homes. Dogs might get to grips with this unusual behaviour after a while, but they will definitely not see the point, as they would probably prefer it if we never washed and walked around in the same clothes all the time.

7. We’re inconsistent

Dogs get very confused with inconsistency. They don’t understand “just this once” or “only when mummy is on a work trip”, but will much prefer to for example always be off the bed rather than having to constantly try to interpret your varying signals. 

8. We leave them alone

To dogs, some of the strongest pack animals around, leaving the group seems absolutely pointless and stupid. That’s why they can get confused and annoyed when we leave them alone to go to work or to the cinema. 

Train your dog to be by themselves from an early age to avoid bad separation anxiety, and try to never leave an adult dog alone for longer than four hours a day.

9. We get frustrated when they’re being dogs

To dogs, sniffing, barking, digging and scavenging for scraps are all natural behaviours, and they can get very annoyed if you get upset with them for doing what comes natural to them. This doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to do exactly what they want all the time. Try to redirect and encourage desirable behaviour, but it’s also worth remembering that dogs are dogs, and that’s part of why we love them so much.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

When choosing a dog – especially if it’s your first one – the key is to find a breed that complements your lifestyle. Like us, some dogs are happy to spend most of their time relaxing indoors, while others want to run half marathons every day.

So, think about your lifestyle, and then find the dog to match. Here are some helpful lifestyle and dog breed matches to help you narrow down the field.

Dogs for Sofa Lovers

Being an evening couch potato doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lazy – it probably means you’ve had a busy day at work, and need some downtime. Plenty of dog breeds fit this ‘couch canine’ lifestyle, including:

  • Dachshund – these loveable ‘Sausage Dogs’ can actually damage their spines if they’re forced to take too much exercise. They will still need a morning walk, though!
  • Greyhound – this one surprises people who don’t know the breed well. “Greyhounds?”, they say, “Surely all they want to do is chase hares at breakneck speed all day?” Well, yes, they can run fast; but their preferred lifestyle is actually long, lazy days, with a couple of short runs in the park.
  • French Bulldog – they’ll be hyperactive for 20 minutes on a walk, and then they’ll be worn out. Lacking endurance, this makes them perfect for anyone who lacks time for long walks every day.

The popular lapdog breeds fall into this category too, including Chihuahua, Pug, King Charles Spaniel, Pekingese, Shih Tzu and Yorkie.

Dogs for Busy Outdoor Lifestyles

If you do lots of hiking or running, there are plenty of high-endurance dog breeds that will just love keeping up with you every step of the way.

  • Dalmatian – these loveable hounds will find 101 reasons to run and play all day. Whatever you’re doing outdoors, they’ll be with you every step of the way.
  • Border Collie – possibly the dogs with the busiest work ethic, they will happily be hyperactive from dawn to dusk. If there’s no work on offer, they’ll find it for themselves. That ball game isn’t just a game, it’s a job, and the Border Collie will make sure it’s done properly – all day long, if needs be!
  • Husky – a breed that was developed to pull heavy sledges for hundreds of miles is not going to be content with anything but a busy lifestyle. These dogs need lots of exercise – as many miles a day as you can give them. Not for the faint-hearted!

Many other larger breeds suit active lifestyles, including German Shepherd, Pointer, Boxer and Labrador Retriever. Some smaller dogs pack an energy punch, too, and the Boston Terrier and Jack Russell, for example, will be able to keep up with you no matter how long the journey home is.

Child’s Play – Best Dogs for Kids

Although children should not be given full responsibility for a pet dog, there are plenty of breeds that are very child friendly.

  • Labrador retriever and Golden retriever – these are probably the perfect family dogs. Retrievers are gentle and loving, and treat children with a mixture of respect and parental care. They’re incredibly soft and good natured.
  • Irish (or Red) Setter – this breed seems to have been developed to play with children! Playful, but gentle, children often form very tight bonds with this wonderfully handsome dog.
  • Old English Sheepdog – these dogs love nothing better than chilling with the kids. They’re gentle giants.

There are plenty more dogs in this category. The Newfoundland, for example, is even more giant than the Old English, and just as gentle. Boxers and Beagles are good with the kids too – as long as they’re well trained from an early age.

Dogs for People Allergic to Dogs!

Don’t despair! Your pet-induced sneezing and asthma doesn’t mean you can never be a dog owner. The thing you’re allergic to is a protein found on animals’ skin, and/or shed hairs. Although no breed is officially hypoallergenic, the commonest ones in families where allergies are a problem are:

  • Poodle (both full size and Toy)
  • Schnauzer
  • Basenji
  • Bichon Frise
  • Samojed
  • Shih Tzu

This is not a precise science, and some people are definitely more “allergic” than others. Many people who sneeze and wheeze at most dogs find that they are okay with Yorkies and Westies, even though these have longer hair than the average hound. At the same time, the short-haired Boxer can cause strong allergic reactions in many sufferers.

The key here is to spend some time with the breed before making the decision to bring one home.

The takeaway message is clear – there are many dog breeds out there, with many different personalities and requirements. Matching those traits to your own lifestyle and circumstances is the sure path to finding the perfect pet.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


20 Signs That You’re Spoiling Your Dog

  
  

Whether it’s homemade treats, new toys or a long game of fetch that makes you late for work, there are many ways to show your dog how much you love them. But are you spoiling them? Probably. Does it matter? Probably not.

These are 20 tell-tale signs that suggest you’re spoiling your furry friend.

1.

There’s nothing in the snack cupboard except dog treats. That’s good, as it means you’re not feeding all the treats at once; but it’s not so good if you were looking for a crafty snack of your own…

2.

You’ve gone to the pet shop with your dog, and you’re letting them ‘choose’ the toys and chews they want. So far, you have a very full basket!

3.

You buy a bigger, better sprinkler for the garden just because your dog had such fun with the old one. The lawn doesn’t actually need the extra water at the moment, but your dog does!

4.

You buy a new squeaky toy to play tug-of-war with, even though the old ones are still in good shape. After all, this is the first time your pet has had a toy shaped like a lobster…

5.

You realise you’re looking forward to your dog’s day at the Puppy Spa next week as much as you’re looking forward to your romantic stay in a spa hotel the following weekend.

6.

Your bags of dog treats have healthier ingredients than your own treats – all organic, sustainably sourced, and packed with vitamins and minerals.

7.

Your afternoon dedicated to DIY has disappeared, dedicated instead to giving belly rubs, playing with sticks and balls, and going for a long, leisurely walk in the park to say hello to the ducks.

8.

The freezer has lots of yummy frozen doggy treats, but no ice creams or lollies for you and the kids.

9.

You’ve spent two hours in the kitchen baking. The result? Several trays of dog biscuits for your pet and all his doggy friends in the neighbourhood.

10.

You’re sitting on the not-very-comfy chair, because your dog is curled up on the comfier one.

11.

You’re not particularly enjoying the show on TV, but you keep it on because it’s your dog’s favourite.

12.

You buy toys and treats for your dog’s birthday or for their Christmas stocking – and hide them away on a high shelf to keep them secret until the big day.

13.

You phone home on a business trip, and your first question is “How’s the dog?”

14.

You’re an expert in dog massage and essential oils for dogs, but don’t know much about massage and essential oils for humans.

15.

You give your dog its dinner slightly early so that you can both sit down and watch the new Scooby Doo or Lassie film together later.

16.

Your dog’s annual hairdresser bill is bigger than yours.

17.

You have a list of all the local dog-friendly restaurants in your neighbourhood, and compile one for all the places you visit with your pet.

18.

Your dog’s ‘room’ under the stairs was planned and decorated with more care than your living room.

19.

You decide not to offload your bad day on the dog, because you don’t want them to worry.

20.

You’ve taken a trip to the seaside with your dog yet again. You hadn’t intended coming back so soon, but the dog insisted…

As long as it doesn’t involve overeating, over-fussing or over-exercising, there are all kinds of ways to spoil your dog. And the great thing is, the dog won’t feel spoilt at all, just loved.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Snow Safety Tips for Pets

Snowy weather can bring great fun for all the family, but when it comes to our pets we need to take extra care to keep them happy and healthy (even if they love it!) Take a look at our snow safety advice, and make sure you’re prepared for whatever winter may bring…

Dry off damp fur and feathers

Check on your outdoor pets a few times throughout the day during periods of snowy weather and check they haven’t got too wet. Damp fur and feathers will take longer to dry during colder temperatures, making it difficult for them to warm up again. Indoor animals should also be dried off with a towel after being outside or going for a walk. 

Clean paws of ice

For dogs and cats in particular, snow can get compacted into their paw pads and turn to painful cubes of ice. Use a towel or drying mitt to dislodge any chunks of snow and dry off their feet. Also take care when walking your dogs in snow, as salt used to grit the roads can be poisonous. Watch that they don’t stop to eat snow at the roadside and clean their legs and paws of any snow or dirt after their walk. 

Extra food 

Pets of all kinds will use more energy to keep themselves warm in winter, particularly in super cold, snowy spells, so they will benefit from some extra food. Although they will appreciate more treats, don’t be tempted to overfeed on these. Something nutritious will help them the most.

Extra bedding

Outdoor pets will need more dry bedding in their coop or hutch for them to snuggle into and keep warm. However, make sure their home is still well ventilated to keep fresh air moving through and prevent health problems. Read other ways you can get your coop winter-ready. Indoor animals might also appreciate an extra blanket or a cosy den for bedtime. 

Potential risks

If you have a cat who still likes to go outdoors whatever the weather, be wary of the potential of antifreeze poisoning. Look out for symptoms such as vomiting, seizures or difficulty breathing and call a vet immediately if you think your cat may be ill. An outdoor enclosure could also provide a solution for letting them play outside in safety.

Don’t forget about the wild birds in your garden! 

Place a wide bowl or tray of water in your garden with something inside to float around (e.g. rubber duck!) to keep the water moving and prevent freezing. Extra wild bird food will also be appreciated!

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This entry was posted in Cats


Doggy Sleeping Positions and What They Mean

On the side

The most common sleeping position for dogs is on their side with the legs pointing straight out. Sometimes dogs will fall asleep in a different position, but as soon as the muscles relax and the dog starts to dream, they will automatically roll onto their side. 

This position exposes their vital organs, so a dog who prefers to sleep on its side is likely relaxed and comfortable, and feels safe with his or her surroundings. 

As the legs are free to move in this sleeping position, it is likely that you will see the dog’s legs twitch and kick as they dream. 

If your dog favours this position, make sure that their bed is big enough to accommodate their whole body, including the outstretched legs. 

Curled up in a ball

This is a common sleeping position for wild dogs, who are much more vulnerable than our spoiled pet pooches. The vital organs are protected, the body heat is retained, and the dog can move quickly if needed.

Dogs that are in an unfamiliar location or experience something that is worrying them will often sleep in this position. However, if your dog prefers to roll up like a fox for nap time it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is worried or uncomfortable, they might just like being snuggled in. 

Super Pup Pose

In this position, the dog is on its tummy, with all four legs stretched out. This is very common with puppies who need regular naps, but also always want to be ready to play at any given moment, as it’s very easy to get up and going. 

The Super Pup is almost completely limited to napping; very few dogs spend a whole night in this position. It’s also much more common with smaller dogs like terriers and toy breeds, possibly because their limbs are shorter.

On the back, legs up in the air

If your dog is cold, they will curl up into a ball. In a similar way, exposing the belly and spreading out will cool them down. Exposing the tummy, where the fur is much thinner, as well as the sweat glands on the paws are two of your dog’s best tools to stay cool. 

Comfortable as it may be, it is however a very vulnerable position. The vital organs are exposed and it will take the dog much longer to get up and go in case of danger than if they had their legs on the ground. If your dog chooses this position even when it’s not boiling hot, it is likely that he or she feels extremely relaxed and comfortable.

Close to a human or other pet

Many dogs love falling asleep next to another living thing, preferably really, really close. This behaviour comes from their time as puppies, before they could regulate their own body temperature and had to snuggle up to their siblings to stay warm. 

Although grown dogs don’t need you (or the cat) as a heat source, they have come to associate sleeping next to something warm and breathing with comfort and security. You can be sure that your dog is completely relaxed in your company if he or she decides to sleep right next to you.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Fido Nook vs. Fido Studio – Which One is the Best For You?

Having a crate for your puppy or dog has many advantages. It creates a space that is more than just a bed on the floor, a place the dog can return to when he or she gets tired that they know is just theirs. This is perfect for those moments when a small puppy feels a bit overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of the house and would just like a moment of rest. A crate will also keep young dogs safe if you need to pop out someplace where puppies are not allowed. Additionally, crating leads to better sleep, is great for puppy training, and allows the dog to be more independent of its owner. And of course most importantly, most dogs absolutely love it!

Omlet has two great solutions for those who are looking for a crate for their existing dog, or the new puppy they’re expecting: the Fido Studio and the Fido Nook. Both come in two sizes to fit most dog breeds, and with the option of a wardrobe to store all of your dog’s things. The wardrobe can be further organised with shelves, hooks and a clothes rail, and a fitted mirror so your pup can make sure their outfit looks pawfect before hitting the park!

Both the Fido Nook and Fido Studio are stylish, modern crate solutions, but what is the difference between them? Here are the main things to note when choosing the one that best fit your needs:

  • With the Studio, the crate is a completely integrated part of the piece, whereas it can be removed on the Nook. The easy release mechanism on the Nook makes it possible to lock the crate in place when you’re using it, and remove it when your puppy is fully grown.
  • The Nook does not only fit in seamlessly with your home interior, but the possibility of unlocking and removing the crate means you can take it in the car to keep your dog safe during travel, or if you’re spending the night somewhere else.
  • Both the Studio and the Nook come in a stylish white that will look great in all interiors. The Studio is also available in walnut.
  • As the Fido Nook you can only open the door to the crate on the front. If you choose the Fido Studio however, the dog can access the crate at either the front or the side. This is useful if you want to place the Fido Studio in a narrow space.
  • If you decide to remove the crate from the Nook when your dog is fully trained and you feel he or she no longer needs it, the Nook will still offer a secluded spot for your dog’s bed.
  • Without the crate on the Nook, you can further customise the unit with these luxurious curtains. This will create a cosy barrier between the dog and the world outside, which will provide them with some extra, highly appreciated, privacy.
  • Although the two are quite similar, they do look slightly different, and perhaps you just prefer one over the other. That’s okay, you don’t have to explain yourself – we won’t judge!

Whether you decide to go for a Studio or a Nook, we’re absolutely sure your dog will appreciate a place in the home that is just theirs, and that you will love the look and feel of Omlet’s dog products, as well as the opportunity to store all your dog’s things in the integrated wardrobe!


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6 Dog Breeds You Might Have Never Heard Of

Azawakh

The Azawakh originates from the Saleh area south of Sahara, where it’s still used by nomadic people to guard herds of sheep and goats from predators and enemies. It has also previously been used to hunt gazelle and hare across the arid desert lands.

The Azawakh is a very lean and large sight dog with long legs, and the muscles and bones are clearly visible through the thin skin. 

It’s a loyal family dog that forms strong connections to their owners, and must get used to being by themselves early on to minimise the risk of separation anxiety. The breed needs to run freely, so make sure they can do so in a safe area. The hunting instinct can be strong, but they are intelligent and relatively easy to train, so it’s possible to take them from walks off the lead. 

Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard Dog was originally bred in the state of Louisiana, and was initially used to hunt large game, and later feral pigs in the swaps. It’s still used as a working dog with several purposes, including herding, as it’s known for its agility, intelligence and strength. 

It’s a medium sized dog with a short coat that is normally recognised for its many varied coats, eye colours and patterns. Catahoula Leopard Dogs can make great pets as long as they get enough stimulation. It’s also important to train and socialise them early, as they run the risk of getting territorial and overly protective otherwise.

Caucasian Ovcharka / Caucasian Shepherd Dog

As the name suggests, this giant dog breed originates from the Caucasus, an area between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, where it was first used to herd livestock. 

It’s an extremely independent, fearless and intelligent dog that can get very territorial and protective, so requires an experienced owner that can give them consistent handling and accurate socialisation throughout their lives. This will counteract potential aggressive behaviour, mainly towards other dogs. 

Caucasian Ovcharkas require plenty of both mental and physical stimulation. When not working, the dog will enjoy sleeping the day away, so it’s important to prevent the high risk of obesity by going to plenty of walks and playing fun retrieving games. 

Schipperke

Schipperke means small herding dog in Flemish, which is where the dog breed was first seen. It’s also got a history as a guard dog and ratter on the Dutch and Belgian canal boats. Today the breed is mainly kept as a pet, but it still makes a great guard dog, as you’ll struggle to find a more loyal companion. 

As the Schipperke was bred to work, the breed will need to be kept stimulated and active to prevent destructive behaviour, but it’s relatively easy as they will be happy with most things as long as they are with their owner!

Berger Picard

The Berger Picard is easily recognisable thanks to the large pointy ears, the wavy brindle coat and the hooked tail. The name comes from the breed’s home region of Picardy in France, and it’s one of the oldest French herding breeds.

They are extremely active dogs that will be the perfect companion for owners who enjoy long runs and hikes, sports and mental stimulation in the form of obedience training. If you can only give your dog a short walk around the block every day, the Berger Picard is not for you!

The breed was recognised 1925, but had almost disappeared after the world wars. Keen enthusiasts recreated a strong breeding stock, but it’s still rare.

Pumi

The Pumi is a result of selective breeding of the other famous Hungarian sheep dog, the Puli, and French and German herding dogs and terriers. This has given the breeds it’s lively, intelligent and active temperament. 

Pumis love working, but also to relax with their family. It’s a generally happy breed that will make a great pet for an active family that can keep the dog busy during the day and shower it with love and snuggles on the sofa in the evening.

The curly coat, normally grey or black, requires a bit of work, but doesn’t shed.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Discover These Amazing Facts About Dog Tails

🔹 The main purpose of the tail is communication, and to spread personal information in the form of pheromones. Dogs have anal glands right under the tail which release scents that can be detected by other canines. When the dog wags its tail, the muscles around the dog’s bum tense and press on the glands, sending out lots of information. The sweeping motions from the tail can also help spread the scent even further. 

🔹 In a situation where the dog wants to be more low-key and not get noticed, maybe if they are feeling scared or hesitant, the dog will tuck its tail between the legs to minimise the spread of their scent. 

🔹 Dogs that have very small tails, or no tails at all, have a limited ability to use this body part to communicate, and will have to use other modes of communication. Ears can for example be very useful to show other dogs who you are and how you are feeling. 

🔹 Different types of tail movement signify different emotions. A slight wag when meeting someone new can be seen as a tentative greeting, whereas a wider more sweeping movement is very friendly and non-competitive. A dog that makes short back-and-forth movements with the tail held high is possibly showing signs of uncertainty, assessing potential threats.

🔹 Puppies don’t wag their tails when they are born. The first month and a half is spent mainly eating and sleeping, and they have no real interest in their surroundings. However, as soon as they start socialising, around 49 days old, they will start wagging.

🔹 The tail can be seen as an extension of the spine. Just like the backbone, tails are made up of 5-20 vertebrae, separated by soft discs that enable movement and flexibility. The vertebrae are wider at the base of the tail and get smaller toward the tip. 

🔹 The shape and form of the tail of specific dogs has been determined through selective breeding. The Dachshund’s long, sturdy tail is for example believed to have worked as a handle to pull them out of badger burrows, whereas a Beagle’s tail has a white tip to make it easier for the hunters to locate it in the distance, and labradors have a so called “otter tail” that is thick and round and can act as a kind of rudder when the dog is swimming. 

🔹 Dogs do not only use their tails for communication, it is also useful for keeping balance. If you watch a really fast dog run, like a Greyhound or a Whippet, you can see that the tail sticks out straight behind them. It works as a counterweight and helps the dog to accelerate, break and turn at high speeds. 

🔹 According to studies made on dog tails, there is evidence that the direction a dog wags its tail can tell you something about their feelings. Positive stimuli (food, or seeing their owner) made the dogs start moving their tail to the right, whereas negative stimuli (e.g. a threat in form of an aggressive looking dog) causes the tail to start wagging to the left. 

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This entry was posted in Dogs


New Puppy Shopping List

You’re getting a puppy – congratulations! Bringing home a puppy is an extremely exciting experience, but it can also be pretty full on, as your new friend will require almost constant attention and care. To minimise the stress of not having the right things at hand when the dog is already in your home, make sure to tick off these puppy essentials before he or she moves in!

✔️ Crate

Many breeders will have crate trained the puppy from an early age, and most dog trainers recommend this method as a way of making the transition into a new home as smooth as possible.

The crate acts as an enclosed safe space for your puppy, a place they can return to when they are tired or worried, that they know is just theirs. The Fido Nook 2-in-1 Luxury Dog Crate and Bed is a great solution for this. Put the crate in the beautifully designed den, and make it nice and cosy for your dog. When the puppy is fully trained, you can decide if you want to remove the crate or keep it in. The Fido Nook is also available with a super convenient wardrobe where you can store all of your dog’s things in one handy place, and it looks great in any room of the house. 

Remember that puppies grow quickly, so get a crate that will also fit your pup when they are fully grown. 

✔️ Bed & Blanket

Growing puppies spend most of their days sleeping, so they will need a comfortable bed to rest on. Choose a bed that will support your puppy and is big enough to fit him or her when they are fully grown. It can also be good to get a bed with a removable cover that is machine washable, so you don’t have to worry about puppy accidents or muddy paws.

Make sure you also provide your puppy with a super soft blanket to curl up on. Having a blanket in the crate means the puppy will associate it with home, and it can then be used as a comforter when you’re out and about seeing new sights and trying new things!

✔️ Food and bowls

You will probably have been given some instructions from the breeder on what to feed your puppy the first weeks, and it’s best to stick to this to avoid upsetting their delicate little tummies. After a while you can gradually start introducing the food you want to give your dog. Make sure it’s a high quality feed suitable for growing pups.

Get bowls for food and water in a suitable size that are deep enough to not create lots of mess, but stable enough to not tip over. It’s also a good idea to have a few travel sized bowls that you can bring on adventures.

✔️ Training treats

The key to a well behaved and well rounded dog is to encourage and enforce all good behaviours. Make sure you have plenty of small treats around to give your puppy when they are being a good boy or girl. The world can be rather intimidating for a small puppy who is learning new things, and knowing that you will provide them with praise and love – and a yummy treat – when they return to you will make the bond between you strong from the beginning. 

✔️ Chew toys

Puppies love to chew, and anyone who’s been around a puppy knows that those sharp teeth can do some damage, whether it’s on your sofa cushions or your favourite pair of leather boots. Give your pet some appropriate chew toys to ease the itch and blow off some steam. You might have to try a few to find one that’s the right size and hardness for your dog, so make sure you have a selection at hand. 

✔️ Collar & Lead

As soon as your puppy is ready to go out into the real world they will need a stylish collar to put their ID-tag on. Match with a lead or harness, and you’re ready to go!

These are the most important things to get before you go to pick up your puppy and bring it home. You will probably find that there are plenty of other things that are useful to have, like grooming equipment, nail clippers, cleaning products, and even a dog jacket or a jumper, but the above essentials will see you through the first weeks with your new family member, without any emergency shopping trips! 

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The Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds

All dogs are smart. That’s because their ancestor, the wolf, is very clever, so dogs’ brains had a great starting point. Even the breeds fondly described as “lovably clueless” are still relatively clever compared to most other animals!

The question of why wolves, and therefore dogs, are clever is simple. They hunt, in packs, using various strategies including herding; and they live in hierarchies of ‘top dogs’, alphas, and various layers of underlings. All in all, it’s a complex business being a canine, and only a top-notch brain is going to succeed.

The cleverest domestic dogs, then, tend to be the ones that retain an element of ancestral wolf instincts. That instinct comes in two forms – the herders (including all the sheepdogs), and the out-and-out hunters.

What Makes a Clever Dog?

Being human, we tend to judge other animals on our terms. Therefore, dogs that respond well to human training and learn to be obedient are the ones we think of as super-smart. What this means is that those dogs that have been bred to rely on us, listen to us, and interact with us, seem to us more human in their responses. More independent breeds, or ones that will still run after a rabbit years after you first told them not to run away may be judged more harshly (step forward all Beagles and Foxhounds!)

Also, when it comes to brain power, it appears that size really does count. The large breeds are the ones with the greatest grey matter (with the exception of that diminutive genius the Papillon). This, again, is all down to breeding.

Many small dogs have genes associated with dwarfism (e.g. Pekingese, Shitzu, and Pug), and these tend to have small brains to match. Most of the other small dog breeds are terriers (such as Jack Russell or Scottie). These have been bred ‘down’ from larger versions – they are miniature large dogs, if you like. Like the rest of the dog, their brains are more miniature than small, if you see the subtle difference.

Bearing in mind all these considerations and complications, the breeds in the following list are widely agreed to be the top 10 Canine Einsteins.

Best in Breed, Brainwise

The dogs in this list, when properly trained and socialised, can take on board a new command after hearing it for just the fifth time (and we’re not sure there are many young kids who can do that!). In general, these dogs will obey at least 95 percent of the commands given to them.

The word you’re looking for here is “Wow!”

The list is in no particular order, but the first three breeds mentioned are often credited with being the best of the bunch, when woof comes to shove.

  1. German Shepherd
  2. Border Collie
  3. Poodle
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Labrador Retriever
  7. Papillon
  8. Rottweiler
  9. Shetland Sheepdog
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

Almost all the herding breeds are nudging the top ten. The Belgian Tervurens, Bernese Mountain Dog and – perhaps surprisingly, given its size – the Pembroke Welsh Corgi deserve special mention. Away from the herding breeds, the Bloodhound and the Alaskan Husky have amazing brains too.

And it’s not all about purebreds. Your Labradoodle or Cockapoo could well be every bit as bright as the dogs in our top 10 list. A mixed breed dog whose ancestry isn’t obvious from appearance may also be a bit of a doggy genius.

As we said earlier, dogs are all clever. Full stop.

Which Wolf?

Returning to the smart brains of those ancestral wolves mentioned earlier, science recently stumbled upon an intriguing fact. Genetic analysis of domestic dogs and Eurasian and American wolves came up with some dog genes that are not present in the modern wolf. This has led biologists to conclude that man’s best friend is so old that it was actually developed from a now-extinct wolf species. Perhaps something like the Dire wolves (of Game of Thrones fame).

So take another look at your incredibly clever pet dogs. There’s a lot more to them than meets the eye!

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Why Do Some Animals Have Paws?

Have you ever looked at your pets’ paws and wondered why? Why don’t they have hands and fingers like us? The answer dates back thousands of years and is the result of our pets’ ancestors adapting to the independent and wild lives they once lived in an environment which was very different to your safe, warm home. 

The History of the Paw

Before our pets were domesticated, they had to defend themselves to stay alive while hunting for their own food. Many of the traits that helped them do that haven’t changed, staying with the species’ throughout evolution. This includes the paw

Dogs and cats are the main paw-ed animals that may come to mind. But before we had house cats and dogs, there were generations of wild cats and wolves. The purpose of the paw is largely related to sound and shock absorption. The fatty tissue inside the pads helps animals jump and land without pain or noise, especially helpful for silently hunting prey in the wild while protecting limbs from impact. 

A dog's paw pad

The paw pads are also much rougher when the animal is subject to extreme surfaces day in, day out. This assists with grip in treacherous or slippery conditions, working in a similar way to human shoes. For our domestic pets, the paw pads are often much smoother as conditions are easier underfoot. Some dog breeds still have webbed feet to help them swim, an adaptation that wolves passed on and still benefit from.

While paws are well adapted for walking and jumping around, debris can sometimes get stuck in the paw pads and cause pain. If you spot your pet chewing at their paw or limping and lifting it off the ground, carefully check their paw pad for any stones or splinters that may need removing. If your rabbit or guinea pigs paws look sore it could be a sign that their bedding is too scratchy. 

What can the paw tell us?

Did you know, that some animals use their paw pads to keep cool and release sweat? So damp paw prints could mean your pet needs some help cooling down.

Pet’s paws can sometimes tell us a little bit about how they are feeling, too. For example, cats will knead blankets, beds, pillows and even humans with their paws when they are feeling happy and content. There’s lots of reasons why this may be; it might remind them of nursing from their Mother, they could be trying to create a cosy spot to sleep, or they could be using the scent glands in their paw pads to mark their territory. 

Have you also noticed your cat doesn’t like their paws to be touched? This is because the pads are extremely sensitive to touch, but some cats can be trained to tolerate their paws being touched, often easier if done from a young age, so if your cat does let you touch their paws it could be a sign of trust. 

More info here and here.

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This entry was posted in Cats


How to Decorate your Nook for Christmas

Incorporate your dog’s Fido Nook into your Christmas homeware and transform your pet’s den into a festive haven with these seasonal decoration ideas…

Fairy lights

Everyone loves the sparkle of lights at Christmas time so why not beautifully frame your Nook with battery powered fairy lights. If using with a puppy, place the lights across the top of the Nook so you still have a lovely glow, without the chewing risk! 

Mini wreath

Stick a Fido Hook to the outside of the Nook’s wardrobe door for a mini Christmas wreath. You could even make one yourself so it matches your festive decor perfectly, and add subtle puppy touches, like some decorative bones or a paw print ribbon.

Christmas curtains 

If you have added a curtain pole and Fido curtains to your pet’s Nook, why not try your hand at sewing your own Christmas curtains with a festive fabric.

Christmas tree

No need to sacrifice your Christmas tree, for puppies and frequent chewers use shatter-proof or soft baubles and keep any that are fragile or precious near the top! 

Fake candles 

Battery-powered candles give the same warming glow as real ones, without the risk to pets! If you are concerned about chewing, keep the candles on top of the Nook. 

Stocking

Get a cute dog themed stocking for your dog, perfect for hanging up in the wardrobe ready for Santa Paws!

 

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This entry was posted in Christmas


Involve Your Dog in the Christmas Celebrations

Take Photos Together

Set the timer on your phone, get a friend to help, or hire a photographer to take a family portrait with your doggy. The sky is your limit when it comes to ideas for this shoot. Maybe you want to get a photo of you all out on a walk, or posing in front of the tree. Matching Christmas jumpers are not mandatory, but definitely encouraged!

Send Out Christmas Cards

Print some copies of your family portrait to send out to family and friends. If you have children, get them to decorate the cards with glitter and stickers, and the dog to sign them with a cute paw print. This will no doubt get the best spot on the mantelpiece at anyone who receives one!

Dress Them Up in Holiday Outfits

If your dog is happy to get dressed up, there are few things cuter than a pup in a bow tie or some antlers, or a festive jumper that’s matching yours. Make sure the dog is comfortable and that nothing is too tight or might hurt them.

Go For a Walk to Look at the Lights

There is always someone in the neighbourhood who goes crazy with the Christmas lights. Take your dog for a long walk and check out the decorations. Most dogs will be fascinated by all the bright blinking lights, but keep an eye on them and take them home if it gets too much.

Visit a Christmas Market

Most Christmas Markets will be outdoors, perfect for when you want to bring the dog along to listen to carol singers. Dogs will love the smells from the food stalls, but you’re probably best of bringing some dog friendly treats from home to distract them if they get too excited. 

Watch a Christmas Film

There are few things better than curling up on the sofa to watch those Christmas movies you’ve already seen about a million times. Make yourself and the dog comfy and nap your way through a festive favourite. We suggest choosing something featuring a dog, like The Grinch, or The Holiday.

Bake Dog Treats

We all allow ourselves some extra treats over the holidays, and even though you should not change the way you’re feeding your dog just because it’s Christmas, it might be nice to give them a special homemade treat. Why not make these healthy Apple and Cinnamon Dog Cookies, perfect for the stocking!

Buy Gifts

If your dog has been a good boy or girl all year, they deserve a present or two under the tree. We have plenty of fun toys and delicious treats for dogs in our Christmas shop!

Make sure they stay safe

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it does involve some things that can pose a danger to dogs. Read our blog post about how to keep your pets safe during the holidays, to make sure you can celebrate without any accidents. 

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This entry was posted in Christmas


Gift Guide – For the Crazy Cat People & The Dog Lovers

Is your friend or someone in your family what some might refer to as a crazy cat person? Or are you struggling to find something to give a dog, or a dog owner, for Christmas? Fur-tunately we have some paw-fect gifts for all budgets! 

Fido Nook

Everyone knows that a dog is for life, not for Christmas, but if you or someone close to you are introducing a four-legged friend to the family in the new year you will be able to give the dog the warmest of welcomes with a Fido Nook, the world’s most luxurious dog bed. The Nook will be a safe spot for your dog to return to for a nap or just some peace and quiet, and you can add the removable crate if you’re planning to crate train your puppy. 

The neat freak who gets stressed about mess in the house will fully appreciate the Nook’s integrated wardrobe, which allows you to store all your dog’s things in one place. No more treats in kitchen drawers, tennis balls under sofa cushions or leads on the hallway floor! The pawfect present for both human and canine!

Are you buying for someone who’s already got a Nook for their dog? Fill the wardrobe with any of the Nook accessories: the bed, clothes rail, storage box, shelf, bowl or mirror, now all with 25% off

You could also get them some other bits and bobs to decorate the den for Christmas, such as fairy lights or a mini wreath. Read this blog for some inspiration, but we’re sure you can personalise it even further.

Indoor Cat House Maya Nook with wardrobe and curtains

Does your mum come down to breakfast in the morning complaining about how the cat kept her up all night moving around on the bed? If you treat her to the luxury indoor cat house Maya Nook this Christmas, the cat will get a secure den of their own to sleep in, and your mum’s beauty sleep won’t be disturbed. The optional curtains are not just a beautiful decorative touch, they also provide the cat with a secluded space to fully relax in. Choose the stylish charcoal grey fabric, or use our custom made pattern and a Christmassy fabric of your choice to add a festive touch to the home.

The practical wardrobe for the Maya Nook can be used to store all things cat, like toys, food, treats and grooming products, so that clearing up for that Christmas party will be quicker than ever. 

Outdoor Cat Run

Not all cats are able to roam the streets at their leisure, whether it’s because of old age, illness or some particularly nasty neighbours. Does your cat loving friend however still want their cat to breathe fresh air, hear bird song and feel the breeze in their fur? Then Omlet’s Outdoor Cat Run might be the best gift they have ever received. This run provides a fully secure and escape proof space for the cat to enjoy, fits all types of gardens or patios, and is big enough for your friend to spend time together with their cat outside in the sunshine.

Buy the cat run, now with 10% off in our Star Buys! 

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This entry was posted in Cats


10 Common Dog Training Mistakes

It’s a fantastic achievement to transform that over-excited, jumping, weak-bladdered puppy into a trained and trusted friend and companion. The transformation isn’t automatic, but comes about through persistence, organisation, and a few simple dog training tools.

You can find several training tips on our Omlet Dog Guide. Here, we’ll highlight a few things that can slow down the training process.

1 – The training sessions are too long.

This is definitely rule number one. Training takes a lot of canine concentration, and if you overdo it, the dog will become bored and/or impatient. And, frankly, so will you. A training session should be between five and ten minutes. After that, it’s time out. You can resume the training with another 10-minute session an hour or so later.

2 – You’re getting impatient.

You might think your dog is the cleverest pet you’ve ever met. But he’s still a dog, and not a human, so you shouldn’t expect miracles. A dog has to concentrate to learn new commands, especially ones that go against his natural instincts to run, bark, eat, and jump up to greet people. Many owners lose patience when, for the umpteenth time, the dog fails to respond to a command, lies down instead of sitting, forgets to wait when you tell him, and so on.

As soon as you lose your temper, your dog will sense the hostility and begin associating training with human anger. Understandably, he’ll not be too keen on taking part in future sessions.

3 – You’re on auto-repeat.

If your dog fails to get the hang of a new command or trick on the third attempt, let it go. The mystified mutt will have made three incorrect guesses, and getting it right after ten attempts will not make the training stick. Revisit these ‘fails’ in later training sessions. Review your approach – was it too vague, too similar to another command, or have you fallen into the traps mentioned in points 1 and 2 above?

Similarly, if your dog fails to lie down when you say “lie down”, don’t repeat the command endlessly. It will tell the dog he doesn’t need to respond immediately, or it might make him think that the command for ‘lie down’ is actually “Lie down! Lie down!  Lie down! Lie down! Lie down!…etc.”

4 – Everyone’s moody.

If a dog is tired, grumpy, hungry, or expecting his regular walk, a training session isn’t going to go down well. The same applies to the human trainer – if you’re not in the best of moods, the dog will know, and neither of you will be in the best frame of mind for a training session.

5 – The default approach is punishment.

There are two ways of training a dog – the old-fashioned correction-based method, and the much better ‘positive reinforcement’ method. The old way involved punishing a dog for getting things wrong, while the modern way is to reward him when he gets it right. Some owners mix and match the two methods, which can be confusing. The poor dog doesn’t know what’s coming next – a tasty treat or an angry gesture.

You should never shout your dog’s name in anger or as part of verbal punishment either, or he will come to associate his name with negative things.

6 – The training is inconsistent.

Always use the same command words for each action, and make sure the dog performs the required action once he’s learned it. If you give the command and then let it slide if the dog doesn’t bother responding, you’re undermining the process. When training a dog you’re establishing sets of rules, and consistency is the only thing that’s going to make them stick.

If using a dog clicker, make sure the clock is reinforced with a treat. And don’t click loads of times for a single training action or behaviour, or the click will lose its meaning for the dog.

7 – The training is tailing off.

If a dog learns new tricks and performs well in early training sessions, it doesn’t mean the behaviours will stick in his head forever. They need reinforcing every day over the dog’s early months, otherwise he will get rusty (a bit like you trying to recall those school French lessons 20 years later). Some owners make the mistake of thinking a paid-for training session can replace a year of regular and patient training. It can’t.

8 – Bad behaviour is being rewarded.

If a dog is misbehaving, it can be tempting to shout his name angrily, and then reward him with a treat or attention when he comes. To the dog this means bad behaviour = reward. Ignore the bad behaviour as much as you can, and draw a line by distracting the dog by asking him to sit or lie down (without using his name). You can then reward the good behaviour.

9 – You’re overdoing the treats.

If dog treats are given too frequently or the portions are too large, the dog may decide, later, that he will only listen if there is food involved. There are also health issues involved with overdoing the snacks too. Praise, play and affection are just as important as food treats when training.

10 – A bull terrier can’t be a sheepdog!

There’s no single ‘best way’ to train a dog. It depends on breed and temperament. So, don’t rely on previous experience or the advice of another dog owner, if the dogs in question were completely different characters. 

No dog is born pre-trained. But by avoiding these 10 common mistakes you’ll make the training much more effective, ensuring that everyone involved – human and dog – has a great time during the process.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Fruity Frozen Yogurt Treats for Dogs

Try out these delicious homemade frozen treats that dogs will go crazy for! These are super quick and easy to make, and kids will love getting involved with different fruity creations…

You will need…

An ice cube tray – (moulds to make larger ice cubes are available on Amazon)

500g Greek Yogurt

200ml of water

A selection of dog-safe fruits, such as apples, bananas, blueberries, mango, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.

We used an ice cube tray which makes large 2 inch square ice cubes. This quantity made approximately 8 at this size ice cube.

Method

Prepare the fruit and cut up into smaller bite size pieces.

Depending on the size of ice cube tray, fill the molds up to a third high with yogurt, followed by a small splash of water. Pop a few small pieces of fruit into the moulds, before continuing to fill the molds with yogurt, splashes of water up and pieces of fruit up to the top.

Pop in the freezer for at least 4 hours depending on the size of the ice cube moulds.

Allow the treats to thaw for 5-10 minutes before feeding to your dog.

Other Frozen Treats…

If your fruit bowl contents are on their way out and unlikely to be eaten by the humans in the house, you can also freeze cut up pieces of the fruit, like apples and bananas, to give to your four-legged friends directly.

Don’t forget!

Remember to give your dog treats in moderation, alongside a healthy diet. Supervise your dog when eating these frozen treats and remove at any sign of distress. These frozen fruit cubes should be given to your dog as a treat, with other solutions in place to keep your dog cool, such as access to shade in the garden and the coolest room in the house, fresh water, walks at the coolest time of day etc. Consult your vet if your dog is showing signs of distress or potential heatstroke.

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10 Top Tips For Camping With Dogs

Hitting the great outdoors on a doggie camping trip is a great idea… in theory! But what if the dog keeps everyone awake all night, barks endlessly at a field full of strangers, and runs off at the first whiff of someone else’s barbecue?

The fact is, some dogs are born campers, while others tend to get frustrated or freaked out. Our ten dog camping tips should help you find the right pitch for you and your canine companions.

1. Think about your dog’s personality.

A chilled-out dog who enjoys lying down after a walk just as much as he enjoys the walk itself will probably love camping. So will a sociable hound who likes meeting other dogs and new people. On the other hand, a skittish, nervous or aggressive hound will find it all a bit stressful. That doesn’t mean you can’t go camping with a less sociable dog. If he’s always aggressive to strangers, it’s best to forget it; but otherwise you just need to do your campsite homework. Somewhere small and quiet might work better than a busy camping village at the height of the season.

Having said that, many well-trained dogs are able to tolerate the hustle and bustle, as long as they also have the opportunity to get away from it all on regular walks.

2. Research the camp sites before setting out.

Lots of places do not allow dogs on site, and many more have a ‘Dogs on leads at all times’ policy. The ones that do encourage dogs tend to be very proud of the fact, boasting of their dog-friendly facilities. The non-dog-friendly ones outnumber the others, so do your homework.

3. Take all the dog accessories with you.

You’ll need food and water bowls – including light, portable dog bowls and water bottles for hikes and day trips – food, leads, harnesses and muzzles, poo bags, beds, towels, favourite toys, tick- and flea-collars, tick-removers, and anything else that will ensure a trouble-free trip. You might want to consider a light-up dog collar too, for those dark nights.

4. Don’t forget the dog ID.

In case of emergencies, or AWOL dogs, you should have all your pet’s details on a dog ID tag, or printed out (and laminated, ideally – wet camping trips can soon make slips of paper illegible). This includes vet’s notes and vaccination record, and contact info. Your dog’s microchip records need to be up-to-date too.

5. Settle in.

After the journey, before doing anything else, let your dog acclimatise. He’ll need a wee and will enjoy a good, long walk around the immediate area to get used to the sights, sounds and smells of his new surroundings.

6. Keep your dog under control.

You don’t want to be looking over your shoulder every other second to make sure your dog isn’t making a nuisance of himself in the shower block or attacking the neighbours’ sandwiches. Unless your pet is very well-trained indeed you’ll need to put him on a lead – a long one, if space allows – tied to a ground spike or tree. That way he can nose around without sneaking off while you’re not looking. You could also take a travel dog crate with you, if your pet has been crate-trained. Doggie tents are available too.

7. Clean up.

Take poo bags to dispose of your dog’s trips to the toilet. Remove all food bowls and dog toys after they’ve been used, to prevent other dogs sniffing around and potentially leading to doggie disagreements.

8. Discourage the woofing.

If your dog is barking, distract him or move him somewhere else to take his mind off whatever has been winding him up. A walk is ideal. Remember that children and many other people on campsites go to bed early, so impose an 8 o’clock woofing curfew. This may involve taking the dog into the tent or crate and encouraging him to settle down for the night.

9. Go easy on the snacks.

It can be tempting to feed your dog lots of picnic and barbecue leftovers, or to overdo the treats due to his good behaviour in strange surroundings. Too much food can upset a dog’s stomach, which means nasty doggy smells at best, and runny poos at worst. Limit Fido to his usual food, with just the occasional treat – and make sure he doesn’t make lots of new ‘best friends’ on the campsite based on the fact that they feed him their leftovers!

10. Enjoy yourselves!

A simple but vital point. Treat the trip as a holiday rather than a trial. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your dog will be.

Once your dog has caught the camping bug, he’ll relish the trips every bit as much as you do. And those happy family holidays with the dog become cherished memories when you look back over days gone by. 

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This entry was posted in Dogs


The Best Pets For Older People

Elderly pet-owners will need a little help looking after their furry or feathered friends. Shopping for pet food, training, grooming, and cleaning out cages and litter trays are all factors to be considered.

If a pet falls ill, it will need taking to a vet, or medication may have to be given. Lack of transport and shaky hands can suddenly become problems in these circumstances.

The level of assistance needed will, of course, depend very much on the physical and mental health of the pet owner.

But in spite of these considerations, pets and older people are a perfect match – as long as you get the right pet!

Pets to Avoid

For many older people, owning a pet is all about companionship. So, although an iguana, goldfish or tarantula may be low maintenance, they don’t exactly exude personality and friendship. Reptiles, fish and insects can therefore be placed in the category ‘Dedicated Enthusiasts Only’.

Rodents are not ideal choices, either. They are fast moving, and can easily escape from an open cage. Some, such as the hamster, are largely nocturnal too, losing several points on the ‘companionship’ scale.

The Best Bird Companions

Small cage birds make good pets for seniors. Larger species such as parrots are long-lived, and this can present mounting problems if an owner becomes increasingly frail with the passing years.

A budgie is a good option. These birds are intelligent, easily hand-tamed, and once trained they will return to their cage unassisted after playing and flying indoors. Some also learn to talk, which reinforces the companionship enormously. Add to this the fact that their cages can be kept on holders at shoulder-height, with easy access for cleaning and feeding, and you have the perfect pet for older people.

Canaries and other pet finches can be good choices too, but it has to be said that they lack the big personality, trainability and talkativeness of budgies. There are other plus points, though, notably the beautiful song of the canary.

The Best Cat Companions

In many ways the cat is an ideal pet for seniors. But it isn’t just a question of arriving at Gran’s door with a kitten and expecting everything to be fine!

A kitten will need to be house-trained, and won’t instantly be the placid lap-loving cat that many elderly owners will be looking for. An older cat, on the other hand, will have ‘grown in’ to its personality. You could choose a placid, indoor-loving coach-potato breed such as the Persian, Russian Blue or Ragdoll if laps and cuddles are the priority.

Ideally the cat should still be given access to the outdoors to prevent the chore of cleaning a litter tray every day. In this respect one of the ideal breeds is the Abyssinian. Super-friendly and incredibly tame, they are also lovers of the great outdoors, mixing and matching house and garden perfectly.

If a cat is being adopted from a previous home, you will be able to find out all about its personality. Many ‘moggies’ of a non-specific breed turn out to be the perfect pet for seniors, after a little investigation into the animal’s background.

Bear in mind, though, that cats can live up to 20 years – a big time commitment if someone is already worrying about health and mobility in later life. But once again, this is where the animal’s independence becomes a great asset. Most cats, even though they love their owners, can pretty much look after themselves.

The Best Dog Companions

For an elderly person with mobility, dogs are a great pet choice. Several breeds thrive with just a little daily exercise. Many of these are at the smaller end of the scale – dogs such as the Miniature Poodle, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Bichon Frise, and good-natured individuals from the West Highland and Yorkshire Terrier families. Smaller dogs have smaller appetites too – a major consideration if money is an issue.

However, some smaller dogs can be very yappy or snappy – not a great combination. Breeds to beware of for these reasons include Chihuahua, Jack Russell, and Dachshund.

If the owner is still able to walk a mile or two a day, a Golden Retriever makes a great choice. But with all breeds you need to bear in mind longevity – a dog that needs walking at six months old may still be demanding walkies at 15.

Pets For Therapy

It’s a well known fact that pets are therapeutic. Some care homes hold regular pet therapy sessions in which residents spend quality time with cats, dogs, and other tame animals.

Pets bring positive benefits for mental health across all age groups, and can also prevent loneliness becoming a problem. We all need affection, and pets deliver it with no questions asked!

However, having a pet-handling session in a care home is a different proposition to an elderly person keeping a pet in their own home. All animals need a certain amount of looking after, and if mobility is an issue, even a simple chore such as cleaning a cage can become difficult. In these circumstances, seniors will need a little assistance.

But if you get it right, a pet can bring so many positives into an elderly person’s life – companionship, stimulation, stress relief, and that most important human need of all: love.

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How Old Is Your Dog Actually in Human Years?

Curly Coated Retriever

As a dog owner you’ve probably wondered how old your dog would be in human years. And you’ve probably came across the rule that one year for your dog equals seven human years. But this rule is actually far from accurate and the math is not that simple. Dogs mature at a different rate to humans and also the size and breed have to be taken into consideration. Smaller dogs generally mature faster and live longer than larger breeds, and cross and mix breeds tend to live longer than purebreds. The exact reason why small dogs live longer than large dogs is still unknown (generally speaking, large mammals tend to live longer than small ones). Scientists did conclude that every 4.4 pounds of body mass reduced a dog’s life expectancy by about a month.

Compared to humans, dogs age more quickly during the first years of their lives and slower toward the end. Calculating your dog’s age relative to humans is a bit tricky, but more or less possible with this figure:

The four stages of a dog’s life

Emotional and physical maturity occurs over an extended period of time and in stages, although every dog develops at his or her own rate depending on their size, breed and personality. Here’s an overview of what you can expect during the different phases.

PUPPYHOODUsually ends between 6 and 18 months of age

Puppies of smaller breeds develop into adults clearly faster than puppies from larger breeds. Small dogs are fully grown at the age of 10 – 12 months, while larger dogs can still be considered puppies for eighteen months, even up to two years. All puppies are born deaf, blind and unable to regulate their own body temperature. After four weeks, puppies are weaned from their mother’s milk gradually over a period of 2 – 3 weeks and start to eat puppy food. When their senses develop, puppies gets to know the right way to interact with humans, other dogs, and other pets. Socializing and the socialization process are extremely important during this period. A puppy should spend the first eight to ten weeks of its life with his mother and siblings.

ADOLESCENCEStarts between 6 and 18 months of age 

Adolescence is probably the most challenging period in a dog’s life. In this stage of the life cycle hormones start to kick in. If not spayed/neutered, your dog may begin to act like a teenager, reluctant to pay attention and more likely to exhibit undesirable behaviour. Your dog will start to grow in his second set of teeth at between six and eight months of age. His teeth will be sore and he will do anything to help ease the discomfort. This means chewing on… everything! Make sure you give your dog suitable chew toys at this stage. Your dog will also lose his puppy fur and experience significant growth spurts. Adolescence is the perfect time to start with obedience training.

ADULTHOODStarts between 12 and 36 months of age 

Generally speaking, small dogs hit adulthood in about a year, large breeds in two and giant dogs in three. Adulthood usually marks the end of a dog’s growth and your dog’s height and size have reached a point that’s typical for an adult of his or her breed and sex. Visible signs of adulthood in male dogs is when they starts to lift their leg while urinating and in a females when they go into heat for the first time. During adulthood dogs are usually in the best shape of their lives and they will need plenty of exercise and stimulating activities to keep them engaged. An adult dog is emotionally and physically mature and behaviour will be more difficult to change.

SENIORITYBetween 6 and 10 years of age

At this point in your dog’s life, you most likely have noticed signs of him getting older. Your dog may still enjoy a long walk, but he is not quite as bouncy as he used to be and it may take him a bit longer to respond to your commands. Just like us, dogs get older gradually and the ageing process affects dogs in the same way that it affects humans. Older dogs may need more rest and it’s important they have their own quiet place with a soft, comfortable bed away from draughts where they won’t be disturbed. It is important to know when your dog reaches this stage of life because of the changes needed to, amongst other things, its diet and exercise. Your veterinarian can help you identify when it’s time to make these adjustments.

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This entry was posted in Dogs