Archive for May, 2011

22 May 2011

Camping With Dogs

No Comments General

Camping with dogs can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Going on holiday is far nicer if you do not have to put your dog into the kennels and worry about him or her. The solution to this is to take your dog with you, camping is the best and cheapest way to do this.

First off is finding a campsite. Most campsites do take dogs, but do check, there is sometimes an extra charge for your dog or a limit to how many dogs you can have. Then, you need to look at where it is, whether there is a set place for dogs to run around or whether they will need to be on the lead the whole time. Lastly, if your dog has a tendency to bark, go for a campsite where noise is tolerated, as opposed to finding your dog is too noisy.

Next is planning your time there. Few if any shops and restaurants will allow dogs inside, so remember when you shop for food, or other items one person will have to wait outside with the dog. If you are not going for a long trip, take enough food with you to make it easier. The same goes for recreational places, you will not be able to go into stately homes, museums or galleries. However, there are many things you can do, cycling, walking or viewing stately homes from the gardens. Beach holidays would be fantastic for dogs to have a play in the sea, although be careful when doing this.

There are some things it would be helpful to have with you when camping. If your dog has to be on a lead for the entire time you won’t want to be holding a lead for that length of time. You have some options here; you can attach a long lead to a car wheel or tie two leads together to do the same thing. If you have a smaller dog who will not pull something up out of the ground, you can use a stake to put into the ground, which a lead can be attached to. These can generally be bought in most pet shops. Your dog ay be content lazing around in the sun watching people go by, but if not, it may be worth taking a chew toy to pass the time.

Depending on your dog, your tent needs to be right for him or her to sleep in. I would suggest a separate compartment from your dog to you unless you normally sleep with them in the same bed. If they are in a tent that does not close up along the bottom, it may be worth checking your dog cannot crawl underneath the gap and escape to cause mischief at night. Just remember to take in your dogs food at night to stop the birds waking you up to try to eat it!

The positives of camping outweigh the negatives, all of which can be resolved by careful planning, to allow you to have a fantastic and fun holiday with your dog who will enjoy every minute.

Happy Camping!

22 May 2011

Nina Ottosson’s Interactive Treat Games

No Comments Reviews

I am going to discuss the interactive games Nina Ottosson has designed for dogs. They are designed to give dogs a mental workout, something they need to keep them busy and even tire them out. So, these toys keep your dog active when you have run out of ideas for them to do. Sounds great in practice, but do they work? I am going to discuss three of Nina Ottosson’s toys, an easy, medium and hard, all available from Pets at Home. I personally have the Dog Tornado Interactive Dog Treats Game, which is the hard game; I will give a review on this. For the other two, I will look at other reviews online to get a picture of what they are like.

Dog Magic Interactive Dog Treats Game

This is said to be the easiest of the three interactive games available from pets at home. The idea is that your dog removes the bones on top to reveal a treat below.  At £19.99, it is the cheapest of the three. Having never used it, I have been searching the Internet to find a variety of reviews to get a good idea of this toy. The game is dishwasher proof and has non-slip feet so it will stay where you put it. The majority of customers, including animal behaviourists, recommended this game. The dogs seem to get a lot out of this, unless, as one customer pointed out, the dog has no sense at all, in which case, the games do not work. On the other end of the scale, a few comments have been that it is not enough of a challenge for the dog; it only takes them a couple of minutes to figure this out. For this game there is a real mixed bag of reviews. However, I think the overall comments are good, including for breeds such as Labradors, Border Collies, toy Poodles and Pomeranians. I am sure it is good for many other breeds as well. It is described as built well, tough and well worth the money.

Dog Brick Interactive Dog Treats Game

This is the medium of the three in Pets at Home. Your dog has to slide the bricks to reveal the treats. Like the others, it is tough, non-slip and dishwasher proof. At £27.99, the medium game is the most expensive. The medium toy seems to entertain dogs a bit more than the easy toy; this is of course to be expected. This game is equally as recommended by customers, all of which appear to have had dogs for a long time. One customer writes that it is great for older dogs and younger dogs that can’t go for long walks but still need mental activity. One customer who owns a Jack Russell said her dog could not quite do the bricks with his mouth but learnt to do it with his feet. This sounds great to challenge dogs further. This sounds like a good game, which is more challenging than the first. Although a couple of dogs have had to move onto the harder game to keep their dogs entertained, this seems like a good tough product,

Dog Tornado Interactive Dog Treats Game

This hard game is £26.99 from Pets at Home. This is the one I have bought and used on my German Shepherd. He was about 1 and a half when we started using this toy. The game is based on three rotating bone shaped compartments; your dog has to move the compartments around to find the treats inside. It is tough and won’t slip, and I found I could almost get his entire dinner into it in one go, which is a good way for him to work for his dinner. Personally, I do not like this game. I found that it did not mentally stimulate my dog at all, without any instruction from me; he nudged the compartments with his nose and ate the food within seconds. After looking at reviews online, I have found other people have similar issues to me. The dogs just don’t find this game hard enough and after doing it a couple of times, they know exactly what to do and it has no mental stimulation for them. Because of this, I do not think this game is worth the money you pay. Overall, this product has three stars on the Pets at Home website. I would not recommend it, but others do. I think these products depend a lot on the dog you have, it’s size, age and breed.

I would love to hear about your experiences of the Nina Ottosson toys.

Becca

22 May 2011

How to Get a Pet Passport – It is Easier Than it Seems

No Comments General

Wouldn’t you love to take your dog with you on holiday instead of putting him in the kennels? Or maybe you are moving, but will want to bring your dog back to the UK. The only way to do this without a quarantine is to get a pet passport. Many government and official websites make the process sound long, confusing and complicated. However, travelling with your dog could not be simpler.

The process starts with a lengthened vet appointment. During this appointment, a microchip is inserted into the dog if he doesn’t already have one. At the same appointment, the dog is given a Rabies vaccination. A couple of weeks after the vaccination comes the blood test, this is a simple five minute appointment. After this you need to wait for the results, this normally takes 3 – 4 weeks, but it depends on how busy the lab is. If your dog’s results are ok, then you get your passport, if not, you repeat the vaccination and blood test step. All this costs around £200 but that depends on the vet.

You can now take your dog out of the country, but cannot bring him back in until 6 months has passed since the blood test. When you do bring your dog back, you need a qualified vet to treat your dog for worms and ticks 24 hours before you enter the UK. This treatment needs to be put into the passport.

So, as long as everything goes smoothly, you can have your passport in time for the summer.

Becca

22 May 2011

Dentastix – As Good as They Claim?

No Comments Reviews

With a German Shepherd, finding balls that do not fall apart easily is tough. I find the best way to tire my pup out is by using a ball launcher, available at Pets at Home for a very reasonable price. These ball launchers are becoming more and more popular, I see many people on dog walks with them. They launch balls far further than you would when you would throw them by hand. Using the ball launcher also keeps your hands relatively clean and not slobbered on. So, then comes the question, what kind of ball is best for this ball launcher?

The ball that comes with the ball launcher is a low quality tennis ball. With one throw and fetch this ball was ripped to shreds, so I had to start looking for other kinds of balls right away.

Squeaky Balls

This for me is a definite no, besides the fact that I cannot stand the squeaking noise; Bo will do his best to rip the ball apart to find the squeaker and kill it. So, we have only used these once and never again!

Solid Rubber Balls

I really enjoyed using these; Bo can chew them to his hearts content but still cannot destroy it. They are nice colours so can be found easily in long grass. The only reason I stopped using these was because of their weight. These balls are far heavier than tennis balls so don’t fly as far through the air. Launching these balls also becomes a good workout for the arms after a while.

Tennis Balls

Higher quality tennis balls were my next choice. I picked a few that were bright colours. I have found the bright colours to be so useful, the dog can find them easier when they are brighter and a completely different colour to the grass and when he really can’t find them, I can generally find them. Tennis balls did not last long. A few throws in and there were teeth marks in them. Even when Bo wasn’t trying to chew them, his teeth would inadvertently go through the balls. Once the tennis balls were punctured, the ball launcher would launch them, but they would not bounce or roll once landing. Because of this, I gave up on tennis balls fairly quickly.

Sponge Balls

These balls are available from Pets at Home in packs of 3 for £3 or 6 for £5.59. They are fantastically bright and they are light. In the ball launcher they can go very far making your dog run further and faster to get them. Bo’s teeth often get stuck in these balls, but a few shakes of his head and they are off again. These balls last for a while before they have holes in, but even then, they can still be thrown. For me, they last for months, making them very good value for money. The only draw back to these balls is that if your dog is a chewer and gets hold of one, it will end up in small pieces.

So, I have now settled for the sponge balls, I think they are great colours so easy to find, fantastic value for money and do the job well. These are what I would recommend to any ball-throwing enthusiast!

Becca

22 May 2011

Which Balls Are Best?

No Comments Reviews

With a German Shepherd, finding balls that do not fall apart easily is tough. I find the best way to tire my pup out is by using a ball launcher, available at Pets at Home for a very reasonable price. These ball launchers are becoming more and more popular, I see many people on dog walks with them. They launch balls far further than you would when you would throw them by hand. Using the ball launcher also keeps your hands relatively clean and not slobbered on. So, then comes the question, what kind of ball is best for this ball launcher?

The ball that comes with the ball launcher is a low quality tennis ball. With one throw and fetch this ball was ripped to shreds, so I had to start looking for other kinds of balls right away.

Squeaky Balls

This for me is a definite no, besides the fact that I cannot stand the squeaking noise; Bo will do his best to rip the ball apart to find the squeaker and kill it. So, we have only used these once and never again!

Solid Rubber Balls

I really enjoyed using these; Bo can chew them to his hearts content but still cannot destroy it. They are nice colours so can be found easily in long grass. The only reason I stopped using these was because of their weight. These balls are far heavier than tennis balls so don’t fly as far through the air. Launching these balls also becomes a good workout for the arms after a while.

Tennis Balls

Higher quality tennis balls were my next choice. I picked a few that were bright colours. I have found the bright colours to be so useful, the dog can find them easier when they are brighter and a completely different colour to the grass and when he really can’t find them, I can generally find them. Tennis balls did not last long. A few throws in and there were teeth marks in them. Even when Bo wasn’t trying to chew them, his teeth would inadvertently go through the balls. Once the tennis balls were punctured, the ball launcher would launch them, but they would not bounce or roll once landing. Because of this, I gave up on tennis balls fairly quickly.

Sponge Balls

These balls are available from Pets at Home in packs of 3 for £3 or 6 for £5.59. They are fantastically bright and they are light. In the ball launcher they can go very far making your dog run further and faster to get them. Bo’s teeth often get stuck in these balls, but a few shakes of his head and they are off again. These balls last for a while before they have holes in, but even then, they can still be thrown. For me, they last for months, making them very good value for money. The only draw back to these balls is that if your dog is a chewer and gets hold of one, it will end up in small pieces.

So, I have now settled for the sponge balls, I think they are great colours so easy to find, fantastic value for money and do the job well. These are what I would recommend to any ball-throwing enthusiast!

Becca

22 May 2011

Harness or Gentle Leader Head Collar?

No Comments Reviews

There are many different opinions on what is the best way to control your dog on a lead. Many people with smaller dogs, or larger dogs that a good at lead walking can just use a collar. But what about those of us who have a dog that tugs, or a dog that when he wants to cross the road, will go, taking you with him? Both harnesses and Gentle Leaders or Haltis claim to solve these problems but, which one is best?

Both the leaders and the harnesses have positives and negatives to them.

The Gentle Leader

I would recommend the Gentle Leader as opposed to the Halti, purely because it is made better and will stay on longer without breaking.

There are three main benefits to having a leader. First, from where it is on his head, you have full control of your dog, big or small. If you need to turn round you can with ease, taking your dog with you. Second, when you tighten your lead, the leader closes around your dog’s mouth, this is handy if you need to close his mouth if he is being aggressive towards another dog or person. However, it is important to note that the leader is NOT a substitute for a muzzle. The last benefit is that in a situation where you need to get your dog somewhere and fast, you can. For example, if he wants to run out in front of a car, you can stop him without being dragged out with him.

However, with these benefits come some negative aspects. Dogs take a while to get used to the leaders and will try anything to get it off. Unfortunately, this means scratching their noses with their paws or along the ground. This can lead to your dog’s nose becoming cut. This can also lead to your dog’s attention decreasing. Whilst trying to get the leader off, they will not listen to you. The main drawback to the leader is that it can come off if your dog pulls backwards out of it. Because the lead is only attached to the leader, your dog will roam free if it does come off.

The Harness

Harnesses come in all shapes and sizes, you won’t know what is best until you try some on in a pet shop. The harness is great because it won’t cut your dog’s nose. It sits easily around his body, if fitted correctly and your dog will not even notice it on. This means more attention on you when walking. With the harness, if you need to grab your dog to move him away from a situation, you can hold the harness and literally pull your dog out of harms way. Even with Bo, a 50kg German Shepherd; I can lift him up with the harness enough to get away from something and I am almost the same weight as him! Your dog will not be able to get out of the harness due to the way it encompasses his body, another positive on the leader.

The downside to the harness is that your dog can still tug on it, so you will need to teach him some manners. However, this tugging is manageable in comparison to just having a collar. The harness is not as controlling as the leader. Because the leader maneuvers your dog using his head, it is very good at turning. The harness just can’t do that.

Having used both, I prefer to use the harness; Bo never got used to his leader and did cut his nose on numerous occasions. Although he is a bigger and strong dog, I prefer to have his attention using the harness than not have his attention with the leader.

I have given you the facts of using both a harness and a leader. Your dog may react very differently to mine, so have a try of both and see what you think!

Becca

22 May 2011

Dog Beds – Which One is Best?

No Comments Reviews

Finding a bed or mattress for our German Shepherd has been a difficult and lengthy process. We have been through many mats, which have been destroyed through chewing or the washing machine. But, we now think we may have found the ideal mat for our dog.

When he was a puppy we had a nice plush bed for him. A generic mat, available from pet stores that was comfortable and made him feel nice and warm. He chewed it, a lot, which we thought he would grow out of. So, once he had chewed his way through that mat we had to decide what to get him next. Our options were limited, another plush cushion mat or a vet bed.

Plush Beds

These can come very cheap or very expensive. I went for a middle priced one, I didn’t have high hopes for its survival. After Bo had gone through his first mat, I felt he needed a mat that would be soft; apparently he did not think the same. Our first problem with this mat was washing it. Bo would come in from walks, and being a big dog, it’s impossible to wash and dry him, so I make him lie on his mat until he is dry and then wash the mat. But, he would come in, wet and muddy and make him lie on his mat, the mat too would be wet and muddy. So, following the instructions on the mat, I washed it at a low temperature before allowing it to dry outside. Here came the first problem. All the fluffy inside of the mat had separated and clumped, it looked uncomfortable and was thin on one side and fat on the other. I tried to sort it out as best as I could, Bo didn’t seem to mind anyway. Next thing I know, Bo has taken to chewing his mats and whining as he does it. It is his favourite hobby. This mat, being one layer of thin material, leading to a lot of fluff on the inside, did not fare well. Neither did my living room. The whole room was covered in fluff from the inside of this mat; at least Bo didn’t eat any. So, it had to go, which left us wondering what mat next?

The Vet Bed

We have heard so many good things about the vet bed we had to try it. We went to our local pet store who assured us he would not be able to chew on this bed because the fluff on the outside tickles his throat causing him to stop chewing. They clearly hadn’t met our dog. The mat came in different colours, much to Bo’s disapproval I bought pink! It looked very comfortable and nice and fluffy. The mat lasted a few days before he started chewing it. Not only did he chew it, he ripped holes in the middle of the thing and stuck his head through the hole. While he thought it was great fun, we realised we had just wasted £30. I decided to let him chew on it a little while longer, leaving me some time to figure out what bed to get next. The vet bed was getting muddy, so I did decide to wash it; we were told it would wash easily. They were right in this, it did wash and dry very easily, but it did leave a lot of hair in the washing machine, as washing any dog bed would. It wasn’t as fluffy, but nothing ever is once washed. It definitely washed better than any other mat I have tried. But, unfortunately the life of the vet bed was over.

3 Peaks Crash Mat

We had heard of a new brand coming to Pets at Home called 3 peaks; we were a bit dubious at first because nothing has ever lasted very long with our dog. But, we looked at the mat and thought it was alright, if not a bit expensive. The outer layer is vey tough; Bo cannot get his teeth into it and now does not even try which is such a relief. The mat gets dirty, but because of the material I can hoover off the mud that dries onto it. We have had the mat for about 6 months now and that is the longest we have ever had a mat by far. This is our favourite mat of them all and we would recommend it to anyone.

If you have a dog who doesn’t chew, or a small dog who doesn’t get that dirty, or a dog who you can get clean, any of the above beds will suit you fine. But, if like me you have a dog who chews, gets dirty and stays dirty, then a 3 Peaks Crash Mat is the best bed I have found so far.

Becca

22 May 2011

Cycling With Dogs

No Comments General

Cycling with dogs can be a fantastic way to give your dog a good run and really tire him out. But, you need to make sure you don’t over do it and injure him. There is a lot of controversy over cycling with dogs, but if you do it right then you have nothing to worry about. Victoria Stillwell has even used cycling for dogs on her programme to calm a dog down who had a bit too much energy.

So, the first question is, can my dog run alongside a bike? I cycle with a 2 year old German Shepherd, he has a lot of energy and is a working dog, he is built to do the running. But, even with him, I would not cycle with him before he was 18 months old so as not to do any damage while he was growing. Even after that time, I am careful. Smaller breeds and breeds without as much energy are clearly not as able to run alongside a bike as breeds such as Border Collies and German Shepherds. If you are worried, ask you vet.

When cycling, I take lots of water with me, they need it. And I stop every 30 minutes to allow my dog to have a drink and go to the toilet if he needs to. I also stop every hour for a bit longer, to allow him a well-deserved lie down. I do not go to fast, I cycle at a speed that he is running, but not sprinting, to get this speed, cycle with your dog and find a speed he is comfortable with. I only do this a maximum of once a week.

To begin with, your dog may not be used to running alongside a bike. I had this issue, my dog tended to run in front of the bike. So, I started cycling with him on a lead next to me, just going slowly, when he tried to cross over, I said no, and praised him when he was next to me. He soon figured it out and we were able to go faster on the lead and then eventually with no lead.

There are some products you can buy that attach to the back of your bike. This enables you to cycle with the dog on the lead without you having to hold the lead yourself. With regards to safety, this is a very good idea. I am very lucky, I have had no problems with Bo cycling off the lead so I have had no use for these products. But, if your dog will not cycle next to the bike, or has bad recall, or you are simply cycling in a place where you can’t let your dog off the lead, these products may be ideal.

Having never used this, I cannot recommend you this product. However, it is one that I have found to show as an example. Please look around to find the best one for you.

http://www.k9active.co.uk/epages/es114990.sf/?ObjectPath=/Shops/es114990_es122303850613/Products/B41B01000WDA&ViewAction=ViewProductViaPortal&Locale=en_GB

I never cycle on the road with my dog. I have always thought it dangerous to have a dog next to a bike, especially on busy roads or windy lanes. I always ride on a bike track, in the woods, this is also ideal as it is easier on their pads.

The most important things to remember are, don’t go too fast, carry water, breaks are needed and consult your vet before starting to make sure your dog is up to the challenge.

If you have done all of these, happy cycling with your dog. I recommend this as an enjoyable exercise for both you and your dog, an exercise, which will tire him out completely!  I have found that now when I get the bike out to go for a ride with Bo, he gets far more excited than when we go for a walk, a sure sign that he is enjoying it too.