Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Laughing Labradors and an Avalanche of Afghan Hounds

Currently I’m in the UK visiting relatives and experiencing an extraordinary Indian Summer. The comforting thing for me is being away knowing canine guests at our outstanding 5* Boutique Hotel - a true Pet Resort - continue to be looked after to the same standout care my many clients have come to expect. This is as in my absence my daughter is there providing continuity and our unique service.

Whilst it’s good to visit my family, I must confess I’m missing looking after doggie guests.


So imagine how happy I was on getting out of the car when two Labs, Libby and Bonnie, came bounding along the pavement to say hello. They had been outside with their owners but on seeing me draw up had to investigate. With broad smiles on their faces as Labs so often have, and furiously wagging their tails, they were irrisistible.

We are lucky to have Epping Forest close by, but for me a walk anywhere is not the same without a dog (or two) by your side. So on hearing that Libby and Bonnie are alone during the day, I immediately volunteered to take them out.

We’ve been out for our first walk and they were good as gold, free and off leash yet staying with me the whole time. 


A win, win all round, great for the lovely girls, but equally great for me as I am now getting my missing doggie fix!





When you love dogs you’re always on the look out for one to say hello to. So imagine how delighted I was last week during a wander through Bournemouth on the south coast when I came across an rare sight – an Avalanche of Afghan Hounds! Actually I make the Avalanche bit up – but there in the town park were about 10 stunning Afghans Hounds. The owners had come from far and wide for a meet up. As the owners compared notes the dogs behaved with great dignity, all lying calmly on the grass.

My experience of owners of spectacular dogs is that they can be friendly but sometimes standoffish. So I was thrilled to find the owner of Charlie - a superstar stunner of a dog – was more than happy to talk about his white wonder.

Charlie was apparently only two but had already won some best in show awards – hardly surprising.

I joined in as lots of people took photos of his handsome hound. But it wasn’t just that Charlie was such a wonderful canine specimen - his whole manner was regal – like a person born to high birth.

This encounter got me thinking I can’t recall the last time I saw an Afghan Hound in Australia. Maybe this is for practical reasons with their coats being so labour intensive from the grooming point of view. Maybe more of a concern in Oz is the heat and nasty Ticks that could be a problem hiding in such luxuriant coats.

It was enjoyable being bowled over by an Afghan Avalanche, but for an everyday happy and smiling companion you’d go a long way to beat a lovely laughing Lab (or two).

Looking forward to taking out Libby & Bonnie many more times before my return!

Hard to tell apart even though they are a year different, this Libby














Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Is your canine a Diva or Miva? (male Diva!) TAKE OUR QUIZ!

Here at our 5 star Boutique Pet Retreat on the Central Coast (just 75 mins from Sydney) when your VIP - Very Important Pooch - comes stay they have first class pet accommodation and a great holiday of their very own.

Caring for your pawfect pooches is an honour and we love the many dogs that stay with us, sometimes here for many weeks at a time.

Our canine guests are as varied and fascinating in their personalities as they are in appearance. Some are beautifully behaved and well mannered. But occasionally, just when we think we’ve seen it all, a guest arrives who’s the doggie equivalent of Kim Kardashian or Kanye West – a real  Drama Queen Diva or Monstrous Miva (male Diva!) and then the fun begins!

Divas and Mivas come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But big or small, male or female, one thing always applies:
Dog Divas and Mivas aren’t born - they’re made – turned into bossy hounds by the people who love them most – their owners!

So, are you going to be brave and find out if you have transformed your dog into a Diva or Miva?
WARNING! DON’T TAKE THIS QUIZ IF YOU HAVE A SENSITIVE NATURE AND ARE EASILY UPSET!!!

12 SITUATIONS – SEE HOW YOU SCORE

No 1  "BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE"
Your dog jumps up on your lap uninvited.
OWNERS SAY: Yes and I think it's cute s/he is just showing they love me and jumping on my lap proves it – we both adore our cuddles so why shouldn’t my dog be on the sofa with me?

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
Close contact with a dog is know reduce human blood pressure and helps human and dog bond. And sharing the sofa or cuddles is one of the joys of dog ownership. But every time you let your dog get jump up on the sofa before you invite them, you are putting them in control and into the 'dominant' role. By default you relegate yourself to the subordinate role. It seems like a small thing, but when you inadvertently put your dog in 'top dog' position, you also unintentionally put them under huge pressure to take care of the pack – including you! This can encourage a range of unwanted behaviours.  

No 1    Diva/Miva rating A


No 2  "BEST ROOM IN THE HOTEL!"
Your dog is allowed to sleep on your bed whenever they want
OWNERS SAY: Best ever - all together on the bed – family cuddle time. They like being on the bed when we’re out as it has our scent and comforts them.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
Sharing the sofa is a big privilege – but sharing your bed – you might as well curtsy or bow and call your dog ‘Your Majesty’ because you have elevated them into leader of the pack.

No 2    Diva/Miva rating C


No 3  "NOT BEFORE I CHECK THE GUEST LIST"
You dog barks and flies at the door when visitors call, knock or ring. As our guest comes in the dog jumps up at them – possibly barking or just wanting pats.
OWNERS SAY:  That’s my dog, doing what they should  – guarding me and they are just being friendly.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
Again an issue related to pack position. Your dog feels it is their role to have to make the decision about who can and cannot be allowed in. (If they were on your lap sleeping and someone knocked you can be sure they’d be off in a heart beat).

It’s not your dog’s job to fly around barking, rushing the door and ‘deciding’ who can enter. It may not be obvious but your dog is under stress because it does not consider you are in charge and feels pressure to control the situation, and visitors!

No 3    Diva/Miva rating A


No 4  "LET ME  GET THAT DOOR FOR YOU"
Your dog barges past your legs dog and rushes ahead of you to get through in pole position whenever you open any door.
OWNERS SAY:  Well they want to: go on their walk/visit to the garden/say hello to whoever, etc, etc.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
It’s easy to teach your dog to wait whilst you open a door and go through first (then call them to come). Each repetition reinforces your rightful position as pack leader.
Many people don’t think about doing this as they simply don’t realise it’s important. (Naughty, naughty those of you who know but can’t be bothered!)

No 4    Diva/Miva rating A


No 5  "HOW LONG IS MY FOOD GOING TO TAKE?"
When preparing their food,  your dog rushes around and almost knocks your hand out of the way as you put the bowl down.
OWNERS SAY: my dog just LOVES his/her food!

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
This is quite similar to barging through doors – a lack of good manners training. Controlling your dog around food is one of the key ingredients in a recipe for a happy, balanced dog that knows their pace in the pack. Plus it's good for dogs to have good table manners...  no snatching, stealing, or sneaking food. We teach our children table manners, to wait to start their meal until the rest of the family do. Dogs must learn to sit and look at you – not the bowl – and wait until you give the ‘Good Dog!’ before they are free to eat it. 

No 5    Diva/Miva rating A


No 6  "ATTENTION FIEND! ME, ME, ME... YES, LOOK AT ME!"
Dog jumping up at you, and/or scrabbling your legs and/or nipping.
OWNERS SAY: My dog is excited to see me and just wants some attention.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
Jumping up is very, very common in dogs large and small. It’s particularly understandable in small dog as all they are level with are boring ankles, shins and knees and they want to reach the fun bits – the hands – the bringers of pats and treats!

Jumping up represents an overly excited state of mind in your dog. It's far better if they feel relaxed, calm and reassured. A basic part of dog training is to keep "four on the floor" and not allow unconstrained jumping up. 

No 6    Diva/Miva rating B


No 7  "THE LOUDEST WOOF IN THE WEST"
Barking/yapping dogs.
OWNERS SAY: I understand what my dog wants, they talk to me with their ‘little noises’.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
‘Little noises’! Living next door to a yapping or barking dog is one of the main causes of argument between neighbours! Some owners find the barking or yapping cute and it doesn’t bother them - so that's OK then! But it is not - who can stand it when in a supermarket a child is being vocal and screaming or crying to get their own way? So it is with yapping or barking  dogs.

Some barks matter – like an initial ‘alarm bark’ to notify you of a knock – but once you say ‘good dog’ (telling your dog their ‘job’ is done) they should hush up.

If you are constantly interpreting and responding to each yap or bark you've become a personal servant! Dogs need to learn just like the rest of us that they are not the centre of the Universe!

No 7    Diva/Miva rating B


No 8  "ME & MY SHADOW"
Dog follows you everywhere, never leaves your side, even wants to be with you when you go in the bathroom.
OWNERS SAY: this shows how much my dog loves me, they cannot be away from me for a second.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
Fact is it can be very flattering to our ego to have our every step dogged by our pooch! But reality check – and here is where I get unpopular – this is often about the owner’s needs who enjoy this situation if they are honest.

Following you every second and not being able to be alone is not something to be happy about  - it is the behaviour of a dog with separation anxiety. If your dog left you to live with another person they would then take that same behaviour and follow the new owner continuously because it has become a conditioned habit – and not a good one.

When dogs left on their own sleep and relax this is excellent.  Far from meaning they don’t care about their owner, it shows you have a well adjusted and confident canine.  Establishing a level of independence in your dog is kinder to them - and you’re less likely to trip over them!

No 8    Diva/Miva rating C


No 9  "TALKING A BIG GAME"
At the park your dog sometimes rushes other dogs – even much bigger ones – and there have been a few close calls.
OWNERS SAY: (these will be more ‘relaxed’ owners) That’s what dogs do – they play and my dog will learn.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
This is how little dogs get themselves into very big BIG trouble! Some owners are unaware that their small dog may have a dominant mind set because of bad habits which have been overlooked or misunderstood (see Q1 above for an example). 

Some owners do not realise that it is, in fact, their small dog who is the one instigating trouble because they fail to see the bigger picture or miss the signs. All they see is the outcome: a big dog attacked their little one. Yet often it was the big dog retaliating simply because it was threatened. Of course a small dominant dog is always going to come off second best when he pokes a pin in big dog - with bigger jaws and teeth.

No 9    Diva/Miva rating C


No 10  "BODY GUARD IN THE ENTOURAGE"
(THE BIGGEST SMALL DOG PROBLEM)
Picking up your small dog up when any other bigger dog comes even a little too close for comfort.
OWNERS SAY: (apprehensive owners - different to the laid back types No. 9) Of course I pick up my dog! I have to protect my angel and make sure they don't get bitten - you can’t be too careful.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
I see this far too often - and it takes all my will power not to go over and interfere! Because by stopping your dog interacting with others this behaviour turns small dogs from what they could be - confident, happy & balanced into the opposite - neurotic and scared.  And an overanxious dog will suffer from all sorts of phobias which carry through to many other areas.

When you have a small dog (or puppy) it’s natural to be careful and owners pick up their dogs with good intentions  - to protect them. But there’s a very big difference between being ‘on the ball’ and watching out for potential danger and mollycoddling your dog, being so afraid of what may never happen that your dog is stopped from learning how to be a dog.

Dogs feed off our energy and when we are feeling worried and constantly picking them up it teaches them to be fearful. And by not allowing them to mix & play on the ground with other canines means they miss out on a huge part of their essential natural development.

A particularly destructive aspect of this is that as your little dog becomes increasing fearful other dogs sense this. Then you will end up with real trouble on your hands - literally. It's a negative spiral as the nerves your dog has developed will encourage other dogs to jump up at them (and you, as they're in your arms) to find out what the problem is. 

The more an owner picks up and holds their dog the more nervous, fearful and likely to be attacked it becomes. The owner ends up causing the very thing they wanted to avoid. A perfect example of the 'Self Fulfilling Prophecy'.

No 10  Diva/Miva rating C


No 11  "DON’T EXPECT ME TO MOVE"
Your dog lays on the floor in an awkward spot and you have to step over them to get past.
OWNERS SAY: It’s mean to move them they’re not doing any harm and I don’t mind stepping over/walking around him/her – it’s no big deal.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
This is another opportunity to show you dog that you are top dog. It is not cruel or mean to tell your dog to move out of your way. By doing so you are simply demonstrating you are pack leader.

No 11  Diva/Miva rating A


No 12  "TURN TO ANOTHER CHANNEL OR THAT TV’s GONNA GET IT!"
All is peace and calm when your dog spots something with 4 legs appearing on the TV and flies at the screen, barking and growling.
OWNERS SAY: I must say it used to be funny once but it’s wearing now, but what can you do? I can’t see how to stop it.

WHEN THE TRUTH IS
With modern TV sets dogs can see other creatures clearly on the screen. In their world they think an intruder has come into the room – hence the barking and general hullaballoo. Of course as soon as the scene changes and the ‘intruder’ disappears, your dog links their ferocious show of aggression as the reason the animal ‘ran away’.

This is yet another example of your dog thinking it is their job to control who comes into the house. The sooner they are confident that you are the Alpha dealing with these matters the sooner this type of behaviours ceases.

No 12  Diva/Miva rating B


QUIZ RESULT

No A’s B’s or C’s? Your dog is pawfect and you must be a trainer! Either that or you’re a very fortunate, one in a million owner, who has the world’s most easy going, calm and well adjusted dog. Good on you - you paragon of virtue!

If you are a mere flawed human – here’s your dog’s Diva/Miva rating

Mostly A’s
Diva/Miva rating is pretty good. You have a balanced relationship and your dog who knows their place – most of the time!

A’s and perhaps one B
Diva/Miva rating is climbing. Your dog might throw a Tantie now and then when it doesn’t want to listen to you. Be careful as they may be heading towards controlling you rather than you being the pack leader

Mostly B’s
Diva/Miva rating suggests you are no longer in control! Some of your dog’s antics which might have seemed amusing once are no longer so funny

Any C’s ?
Oh oh! You have a Diva Kim Kardashian & Maria Carey rolled into one (not sure what the human male equivalent is but you get the picture!) Your dog is either neurotic bag of nerves or a bossy boots who expects you to wait on them – and you do.  Make a change or resign yourself to a life of servitude in bondage to your dog!


ON A SERIOUS NOTE - A FEW POINTERS 

What starts out as a demonstration of love for our dogs is the very thing than can end up ruining them. Instead of being Pack Leader, without realising, we turn ourselves into ‘fans’ (aka servants) and our dogs become sun around which our lives revolve.

Our dog doesn’t learn right from wrong, and/or we think we have to protect them from every risk - and by doing so turn them into Demonic Divas or Mischievous Mivas. 

Dogs must have canine interaction to understand their world. We must not get in the way of their socialising with our good intentions. We can’t help them by being a ‘helicopter parent’.

With a small dog your role is not be be a human shield. Sure, stand near and be alert and pay close attention to the surroundings and to other dogs. By doing this you can observe your and other dogs’ body language and learn to interpret ‘dog speak’. You can soon tell whether another dog is friend or foe. Most are friends! (see my previous blogs about little Millie and Chloe ('Cavoodles, Pampered or Protected' and 'Is anything Cuter than a Cavoodle?').

Re puppies – even the bigger breeds start off little! So just as with small dogs you do have to be careful when young puppies are meeting and greeting older and bigger dogs.

Most well adjusted adult dogs know how to play gently with pups. Although that’s if they're willing to play with them at all as older dogs often find puppies annoying! This is why puppy play dates are a great idea... pups playing with pups.

When approaching mature dogs it’s normal for a puppy to get barked at and 'told off' occasionally. But to become well adjusted, they have to go through these introductions and learn how to respond and make their way in the doggy world.

Even when you only have the best of intentions it’s easy to make mistakes. I know this from first hand experience because I was close to turning my first dog into a Miva – and all I did was love him to bits. However it was not love he needed. Yes he needed affection and kindness - but even more he needed security and structure– which are different.

So don’t take it personally if your score was not what you wanted to see! You can change the situation and improve your dog’s behaviour by finding out what they need and in the words of one well known trainer, give them rules, boundaries and limitations.

Once you have a calm assertive dog that knows and accepts it’s place you can allow him or her to do things that otherwise would not be advised. It’s a matter of degree and commonsense!

This Quiz is not a ‘HOW TO’ but do keep in mind the 3 rules of training:-
Consistency
Persistence
Repetition

Lots of good training tips can be found on this blog: Is-anything-cuter-than-cavoodle.html

If you have a specific question on any of the above and I’ll be pleased to answer. Email me :- 


Perfectpetsitter@hotmail.com