Archive for November, 2011

Free stuff: dog and pet training advice, resources

Having teamed up with an artist (Charley from LabraDOODLEZ) recently, I am very pleased to launch my information sheets! These are visual aides designed to help dog and cat owners  learn a bit more about their companions behaviour and body language in an easy and effective way. Combining a small amount of text and colourful illustrations these sheets are handy guides to build into a portfolio you can refer to again and again. They will be available for absolutely free for anyone who wants one and if it helps prevent just one dog bite or one senseless waste of innocent life then I consider that payment enough.

These sheets are downloadable from my websites trainabull.com and verypets.co.uk  We aim to produce one of these a month.

Preventing bites with children              Pulling on the Lead visual advice

Feline Body Language 101

Canine Body Language 101                      Enjoying Walks on the Lead

BEFORE You Get YourPuppy ebook pdf           AFTER You Get Your Puppy ebook pdf

The illustrator I worked with was a wonderful, talented lady called Charley from Labradoodlez.com she worked on lots of sketches and helped me compose the final posters, thoroughly professional in addition to being amazing with art! We have come up with so many ideas for these sheets and beyond so I am really looking forward to working with Charley in the future. Charley takes commissions for pet portraits and caricatures so please visit her website to see and learn more of her artwork and packages plus her passion for deaf dogs.

I’d also like to thank April (known as @Lilacsky215 on Twitter) for putting me in touch with Charley, April is an upcoming dog-trainer. Thanks April!

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Question for you: Why does my dog…

I have a challenge open to anyone; to give me an answer which explains exactly why my latest rescue Bull Terrier Tallulah seeks out dock leaves and cries while she eats them. The seeking out I can partially explain via zoopharmacognosy or just plain ‘she likes them’ but the crying has me stumped.

Tallulah does cry a fair bit. She cries to be let out for a toilet break, she cries when she espies someone walking along our road or when she is feeling playful/hormonal/attention seeking. But to cry while eating a plant which has no obvious sharp edges, spines, nodules, venomous qualities.

Having scoured all my literature and sifted through my large pile of research papers and even dared Google to find me the answer I have to admit to drawing a blank. Maybe she is “special”. Like me. I’m “special” too. Crying is obviously part of the canine communication repertoire and while it has no dramatic effect on my relationship with her nor does it impact on her life in general (although she will drag me toward the plants’ location should we happen to go that way on a walk) I’m still interested to learn WHY she does it.

So feel free to inform me I’m interested to hear everyone’s thoughts!

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Holistic therapy or should that be wholelistic therapy?

My Bull Terrier Cassini is about 9 years old and came to me via Bull Terrier Club Welfare Trust. She had been used as a breeding bitch in a Welsh puppy farm and was in a right state, covered in sores, welts and serious damage to her teats to the point where mastitis was suspected. Poor girl. Yet she watched me quietly while I was at the kennel and didn’t make a sound. It was love at first sight for us both; she came home with me that day and I’ve not regretted a single day since. She has taught me so much and is what you might call a mummy’s girl.

It took a long time to re-train her, not only how to live as a pet in a home with a family but also normal dog like behaviour. My mini Bull Terrier Koda played a big part in her training, with his determination after 6 months she picked up a ball and dropped it at his feet in an invitation to play. I literally cried with joy. She had been working with me from the first month but she never liked working with reactive dogs, always preferring to go home or point of safety; she was and still is a sweet, friendly and non-confrontational girl.

In my haste to train her though I made a rookie error and incorrectly trained her to be obsessed with balls in order to teach recalls with distractions. Cassini would crash through anything to the point of physically injuring herself in order to get and play with a ball. She would turn somersaults (a 29kg muscle-bound Bull Terrier turning somersaults!), skid, slide, go through fencing, thorn bushes, doors, furniture, dogs, people until she exhausted herself. At some point she must have hurt herself internally but never let on. Until now.

She always been tight in the hips, Cassini waddles like a goose when she walks but over the last 12-18 months especially the last few months it’s become obvious she is feeling sore in her hip area-if one of my other dogs or even one of us humans leans on her while she is lying down she barks, winces or growls in warning. This from a dog which rarely barks, seriously she only barks in her sleep! I began to think about prevention of old age infliction such as arthritis like using glucosamine and checking her into the creaky club at my vets. Then I met Maddy Casey a Canine and human Bowen Therapist at an event I hosted back in June 2011. Maddy invited me to bring a dog to her to see how she worked in more detail, I chose Cassini.

Cassini loved it! Initially she spent a long time relaxing and greeting Maddy and not letting Maddy do too much Bowen moves. Bowen is a holistic treatment, based in science, using specific hand movements on the skin and underlying tissue, the body shows you where it feels stress or pain and Bowen helps rebalance the body as a whole. Maddy allows the dog to dictate the flow of a session and over the next few sessions Cassini would offer different parts of her body for Maddy to work and for longer, except her left hip area.

Cassini’s self-confidence and ability to demonstrate what she likes and disapproves in her typical gentle way made my observations of these sessions so compelling, I am still learning from this dog which I have lived with for over 6 years; what an awesome tutor she is!

Maddy’s understanding of dogs is wonderfully respectful and I enjoy the sessions just as much as Cassini. During a recent session Cassini offered her sacred spot, the left hip which Maddy worked for just a few moments before calling the session to an end, to end on a good note and left us both feeling something powerful had just occurred. We will continue seeing Maddy, Cassini appears to be more energetic in the days after her Bowen treatment, life in my old girl yet! I’m sure once she has more Bowen treatment in her hip area she will feel less sore; it would be interesting to see a heat image of before and after sessions to see the difference that Maddy can feel while working her.

Have a look at Maddy’s website, she works on vet referral and also draws wonderful greetings cards for sale!

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Zoopharmacognosy: Another way forward for dog & animal training?

Today I once again had the pleasure of watching Caroline Ingraham working with her plant oils on a dog. This dog was a 4 month old SBT cross puppy surrendered to Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary in Bristol with demodectic mange infesting her entire body and was going septic from lack of veterinary intervention. Caroline has previously worked with my own dogs so I  have seen her work first hand. Caroline is a zoopharmacognosist; zoo-animal pharma-medical cognosy-self. In other words Caroline helps animals self select the secondary compounds and oils they need. Having worked with Sarah Fisher of Tilley Farm UK TTouch team, Wood Green Animal Shelter, Battersea Dog Shelter, Horseworld and many others including overseas, Caroline has amassed over 25 years of experience with this fascinating subject and gained a considerable reputation.

Caroline at Holly Hedge

Having first met Caroline earlier this year when I invited her to join in at an event I hosted, I have since introduced her to Holly Hedge where I’m behaviourist. I’m so interested in this subject, it’s natural, non aversive and helps with physical and behavioural problems at a chemical level so is grounded in proven science. Hopefully Caroline can teach me more. Much more. I have applied what little I have learned to my dogs, a recent foster Bulldog and with clients dogs too, mainly on dogs with Separation Anxiety symptoms with amazing results. So is this another way forward for the positive training movement? Should more research be done?

Have a look at Caroline’s video’s on her website Ingraham.co.uk and see for yourself what an awesome topic and way of working with animals this is. Incidentally, the puppy we worked on today showed improvements after just an hour and her hot skin had already begun feeling cooler to touch. The compounds we left should be enough to make her feel more comfortable and work on her immune system from within, helping her to recover and maybe not need pharmaceutical products at all. Staff at the sanctuary will monitor her and of course treat her mange topically immediately as required.

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