If you've ever trained with me then you will know how much I go on about treats and their value to your dog. I know exactly that to use with Luna when I need her to stay focused on the training task ahead, you won't catch me offering her a dry biscuit for giving me an amazing recall in the park. If you're looking for that ultimate high value, yummy, amazing and irresistible treat for your dog, look no further, step away from the treat section at Pets at Home and get into your kitchen. I can guess what you're already thinking, yuck, chicken liver but I promise you, your dog will thank you for it. This treat is not only quick and easy to make but you can freeze it to use at a later date too. If you don't fancy giving it a go with Liver then you can also use tuna.
RECIPE Preparation: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 30-45 minutesINGREDIENTS 1 lb (450g) raw liver (450g) Wholemeal Flour 3 eggs One teaspoon of vegetable oil Dash of milk
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.Blend the liver, milk, eggs and oil until smooth.Add the flour to the blended mixture and mix until it's sponge like consistency.Empty mixture into a grease proof baking tray and place in the oven.Once cooked remove and allow to cool. (The cake should be bouncy to touch)Once cooled cut into little cubes, get your clicker out and off you go!
Is your dog microchipped? Are the details up to date? Recently I've seen lots of Facebook posts of dogs that are lost who either are not microchipped or the details are not registered to the correct owner. In the horrible event of your dog getting lost or being stolen, please make sure that your dog is microchipped and that the details are up to date.
A Kong is quite simply one of the best dog products out there. The idea behind a Kong is that you can fill it with yummy, irresistable food and give it to your dog for them to get the food out. It's an enrichment toy that can be made as easy or as challenging as needed, depending on the dog. A Kong is a great interactive feeding toy to leave with your dog when you go out of the house.
My Top Tips Kongs aren't just for using in your home but even better take them with you when you take your dog with you to a friends, to the pub. Make a challenging Kong that will keep your dog entertained while you enjoy yourself too.Introducing A Kong To A Puppy Or Dog I always recommend when first introducing a puppy to a Kong, fill it with something paste like that the puppy can lick and enjoy. It has to be a fun, easy and a pleasant experience for the puppy. It's important that puppies see the Kong as something worth sticking with, filling a Kong with big dry biscuits may actually frustrate a puppy and they will likely give up on the Kong all together. Fill the Kong and sit with your puppy or dog and allow them to explore the goodies inside while you are holding onto it. To help encourage your puppy, you can pop a little bit on your finger to show them what is on offer. Once your puppy is happy with you holding it then pop it on the floor and allow them to continue on their own. Supervise! Safety first! Always supervise a puppy or any dog that is new to a Kong. Stuff The Right Size! Buy the right size Kong for you dog. Kongs come in 4 sizes, each designed to suit the size of dogs mouth and tongue.
Sardines in Olive Oil or Tuna in Spring Water Low Fat Cream Cheese Chopped Up Green Beans
Pop cling film around the kong, leaving the top free. Place in a cup and fill the Kong with fruit & veg chunks, pour in water, add your stick and pop in the freezer to freeze. Remove once frozen and remove the cling film.
Chop Up Different Fruits & Veg (blueberries, Strawberries, Watermelon, Carrots) Stick Ideas: Dental stick, Pizzle
If I counted, I think Luna would have around 30 toys, excessive I know and I can probably count on one hand which toys she actually plays with. Obviously when she was a puppy she would put everything in her mouth so she was a lot more curious and interested in any toy but not so much now. Luna is massively play driven, she loves to play and I was struggling to find a toy that would really hold her attention especially outside. So the middle of last year I came across Tug-E-Nuff and now I’m addicted to buying their toys over any other brand.
Tug-E-Nuff is a family run company based in Devon, Matt and Teresa are not only great toy creators but they are agility champions and professional dog trainers. The fact it is a family run business makes me even more supportive of their products. Tug-E-Nuff ships to over 36 countries and their delivery is super speedy meaning you don't have to wait long.
My top tips to get the best out of your Tug-E-Nuff toy is to never leave it with your dog unsupervised, if your dog is anything like Luna she skins it if she’s left to her own devices. I also keep these toys away from her to create a bit of novelty; I have one I take to the park and a different one that I use for agility. The second I show it to Luna you can see her eyes light up with excitement.
Here is our top Tug-E-Nuff Toys
Rabbit Skin Chaser Toy
This is a perfect toy for puppies, I bring it to all my one to one training sessions and so far it’s the only toy that every puppy is interested in. I suggest to owners that they literally attach one to their belt loop so that they always have a toy to offer the puppy instead of the puppy chewing the back of their ankles or their feet. I also love the length of the handle, another great reason to use it with a puppy; it gives your hand a lot of distance from their sharp little teeth.
Luna’s favourite, it’s a perfect size for her to tug and hold on to and the bungee part of the handle is perfect to reduce any risk of injury to human or dog whilst tugging.
A pocket sized toy that not only can be used as a ball but even more genius you can pop a couple of treats inside. It’s made of two halves with a velcro centre; the gap is big enough for a dog to get their nose in but small enough that the treats won’t fall out. I use this in sessions to help a dog find their motivation to play, I put a really smelly treat in the middle and make the toy come to life and it works, all dogs then can’t resist chasing it to find the goodie in the middle. This can also be used in agility to reward your dog at a distance, this I have yet to try.
Another favourite of Luna’s, not only can we play fetch but it’s also a great tug toy too. It’s made of durable rubber, which is proving indestructible, which is great for a dog that skins a tennis ball. The lattice design means the ball doesn’t roll in a straight line; it may change tilt and fall in another direction, keeping it unpredictable and fun for the dog. I like to attach a fleece tug rope to this to mix up how we use it. This toy is perfect for dogs of all ages and size, with the open lattice design it means they can easily pick it up and carry it.
Flexi leads are so popular in the dog owning world, and if you own one then I am hoping after reading this blog post then you’ll throw it straight in the bin. For those who are not familiar, a flexi lead consists of a plastic handle, which inside contains a retractable cord or ribbon. They are advertised to give your dog more freedom whilst still having complete control. While I agree it does give your dog more freedom than being on a regular 6ft lead, it does not give you more control of your dog.
As a dog trainer, one of my most frequent enquiries is regarding loose lead walking, and 9 times out of 10 the then client has resorted to using a flexi lead because their dog is pulling too much. The reality is that a flexi lead is quickly undoing any loose lead training that you have tried with your dog as in fact is it teaching the dog that it is okay to pull ahead. It can be very confusing for a dog to go from having a long line, to a short line and back to a long line and so on, meaning they will never be able to generalise the loose lead walking behaviour.
Walking your dog should be an enjoyable part of owning a dog, and believe me I know how frustrating it is to have a dog that’s pulling your arm out of your socket on every walk but flexi leads should not be your answer.
Walking your dog is a chance to engage and have fun, play games and get some attention from your furry friend. How much focus do you think you can get from your dog when they are 10 metres ahead of you, you guessed it, very little indeed. If already you have a dog that doesn’t listen to you whilst on the lead then you’ll probably find that it’ll be even harder to get your dog to listen to you when they are off lead in the park.
Flexi leads give you little control over your dog, your job as a dog parent is to look out for your dog and keep them safe at all times. When the lead is fully extended your dog could run into all kinds of trouble, they could dart across the road to chase something, they could tangle themselves round a tree or worst of all another dogs lead. At that distance from your dog you have very little control and in turn it is just not safe. How quickly can you react if an aggressive dog confronts your dog whilst they are 10 metres ahead of you? It’s a very unfair position to put your dog in.
Flexi leads can cause injuries to both dogs and humans. I have several clients who have had some nasty injuries from getting caught by the cord of ribbon of either their flexi lead or another dog owners. Only today I was told of a horror story regarding a flexi lead, where someone got such a bad cut from the cord that you could see bone. It just isn’t worth taking the risk.
My view as a trainer and dog owner is that flexi leads should be ditched. To give your dog a little more freedom in the park then invest in a long training line and use that when appropriate. If your dog is pulling on walks then find a positive dog trainer to help you out.
South East London boasts some amazing walks for you to enjoy with your dog. Here are my top picks.
Foots Cray Meadows- DA15 5AG Foots Cray Meadow is a mix of parkland and woodland with the river Cray running through it, where the dogs have access to get in to the water for a swim and play. It's a nice easy circuit to walk, it can be very muddy in parts, so wear appropriate shoes. Foots Cray Meadows has free parking.Oxleas Woods- SE18 3JA A large meadow sandwiched between two ancient large woodlands. Oxleas woods has two cafes and free parking. It does have a couple of steep hills and it does get quite muddy during the wet weather.
Jubilee Country Park- BR5 1BYJubillee Country Park is a local nature reserve with a sign posted trial running through it, so it's easy to follow. The walk takes about an hour to get round with options to cut corners to make a shorter walk. It's a flat walk, with a mix of woodlands and open fields. There is a free car park and two entrances.
Scadbury Park- BR7 6PT Scadbury Park has over 300 acres of woodlands, open grasslands and ponds to explore, it is home to the ruins of Scadbury Manor. Dogs need to be kept on lead for some of the walk as there are horses near by in the fields. There is a dog friendly pub right on the doorstep too and a free car park.
Greenwich Park- SE10 6QY Greenwich park boasts one of Londons best views. It has a coffee shop, coffee hut and a large car park, however this can get very busy and you do have to pay. There is a road that runs through the park, that is open at certain times of the day. It's a short walk to the centre of greenwich which has lots of Dog friendly pubs and shops. It's a good walk for a rainy day as there are concrete paths to follow. The downside is that it has quite a few steep hills.
Joyden Woods- DA5 2EJ
Joyden Woods has two circular routes that you can follow, it's an ancient woodlands with lots of nature to admire. Its a popular place for mounting cyclists so keep your eyes open for them. It doesn't have a car park but there is limited free street parking surrounding the woods, there is a picnic area and a local shop near the entrance to the woods.Hawkswood- BR7 5PS Hawkswood is has two trials that are easy to follow and It is owned by the National Trust. It's a beautiful walk and you really do feel like you're not in London anymore. Free street parking with limited spaces.
It’s easy to assume that our dogs are choosing to ignore us in certain situations. We slap the disobedient label on them and we feel frustrated because ‘they should know better’. However the truth here is that your dog is not ignoring you, he or she is actually just distracted. Dogs are faced with so many different distractions all the time. Just think about your regular trip to the park, there are lots of exciting distractions for your dog including squirrels, trees to smell, other dogs, kids playing football or a river to jump into. Try to imagine it from a dog’s perspective; it would be like asking a 12-year-old child to sit a difficult maths exam in a lively circus tent full of performers. Training your dog doesn’t stop as soon as you graduate from puppy school or finish your programme of one-to-one lessons. If you want your dog to listen to you in all kinds of situations then you must continue to train your dog to do this. Just because they know sit in your living room, that doesn’t mean that they’ll sit in every environment unless you have trained them to do so.
TIPS 1. Write a list of what you think distracts your dog; rate them as not too distracting to very distracting. Begin training with the lower distractions first and only progress when you are happy that you’re dog is listening and responding well.
2. Take a selection of treats out with you of different value. Giving your dog variety will keep them interested and more willing to work.
3.What makes your dog tick? Once you find it then use it. It may not be a piece of chicken, you may have to use higher value treats such as chopped up liver. Sometimes it’s best to give your dog a smaller meal so that they are still interested in food during your training session, or even better use their meal to reward the during training.
4. For some dogs food isn’t always the best tool to use to keep their attention. If your dog is more toy orientated then maybe a squeaky ball or a tug toy will be your best tool.
5. Teach them to pay attention to you: looking at you always results in lots of yummy treats or a fun game.
6. Train! Train! Train! Turn your walks into fun training opportunities. Set yourself little challenges for you and your dog to complete.
7. Play! Play! Play! It’s all about interactive play with your dog; teach them that playing with you is more fun than chasing other dogs or rolling in fox poo. I recommend that you read Craig Ogilvie’s Interactive Play Guide to help you learn how to get the best out of playing with your dog.