Monday, 22 June 2009

Back in dear old Blighty!

It is so good to be back home again. The holiday was good in places, but there was too much driving. We rented a motor home (so we could bring the dog with us) and drove over to Gothenburg, Sweden. We have been camping in France, Holland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden along the way. It took 3 days just to get to Sweden and that was 3 days of almost non stop driving for my partner, Paul. I don't drive, so couldn't help out at all.

The good bits were the nice camping sites by the ocean or by huge woods. Toby much prefers the beaches and sand dunes to the woods, so the beaches were the favourites.

He looks like a puppy when he gets sand under his feet and he just rushes around madly, slinging seaweed up in the air. It is fantastic to watch!

I can highly recommend going on a motor home holiday, but I would suggest you keep the driving down to a minimum. It was lovely to have everything with you, including a kitchen and bathroom (we even had a shower in the van!) and it was very comfortable. We rented the motor home from Just Go in Luton and they've been very good. Took me 4,5 hours to clean out the motor home of all dog hairs though... (otherwise you get fined a couple of hundred pounds!).

We also had a much better experience with the Pet Passport Scheme this year. Last year the vet in France swore to me that he was giving Toby the right treatment (I asked him 3 times, just because it was the first time we travelled abroad with him and I was so worried we wouldn't be able to bring him back into the UK), but at the Pet Check at Calais they said Toby wasn't allowed back into the UK until he had a different tick treatment, so we were stuck in France for an extra 24 hours, having to give Toby a second set of tick and worm treatments.

So even though I would highly recommend Noirmoutier in France as a holiday place, I would strongly advice you against going to the local vet on the peninsula!

But as I said, this time it was all smooth sailing. We had been camping in a place just outside Dulmen in Germany and the closest vet, Nicola Horstig, was a star. Not only could we come straight in without an appointment, she knew what she was doing, was great with Toby (who is a wuss around vets) and we were out of there within 5 minutes. It took even less time at the Pet Check in Calais this time, they just looked at his Passport, had me scan him for his microchip and wished us a safe trip!

My tip for you if you are going to travel abroad with your pet, is to check with Defra which tick treatment you need to be able to bring your pet back with you to the UK. It will save you a lot of stress if you can check with the vet that they are giving your pet the correct treatment.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Dog fighting in Barton Hills

Today's blog is written by someone else. I've had an email from a client about some awful people who set up dog fighting in Barton Hills, so I thought you should all be warned. This is what she wrote:

"While I was taking the dogs to Barton Hills the other day, a lady approched me and warned me about a chap with 2 white dogs that were out of control and had attacked her dog. Having spotted him we changed direction and went headed down to the spring. While we were sitting down having a picnic, we could hear alot of shouting and barking coming from the spring. After hearing this barking a few times, my sister went over to investigate.

The white dogs were being encouraged to fight each other by the owner and several other men. One dog had been particularly savaged, even one of the men commented that it needed the vet. Blood was all over the dogs and the ground. My sister ran back and told me to get our dogs out of there as the dogs werent in control. I took off with both dogs vertically! (straight up the hill) as I knew they would try to leave along the normal footpaths and I had a chance of seeing where they were heading. My sister and several other people that saw what was going on called the police.

Apparently the police did turn up and were questioning the men down by the Church. However, the chap who owned the dogs didnt seem to be questioned. Im not too sure of this, as I was still hiding up the hill at the time (2 hours later) wondering which direction the man and the dogs were heading!

So please be warned. If you see a man with two large white dogs (pitbull type but larger) and two other smaller brown dogs (pitbull type) please do not go near them. They are fighting dogs and the man has little control and is basically scared of them.
Hopefully the police have taken the matter further."

Scary stuff, isn't it?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Funny dog world

Ah sunshine and bird song... what a lovely day it has turned out to be, huh?

Yesterday we had a really fun Agility class with Penny Labrador, Macy ShihTzu and Tilly CKCS. I had forgotten how much I enjoy these little garden agility lessons. Very relaxed and lots of fun! After all these years I'm still amazed at how clever dogs are...

Speaking of clever, I was sent a link to a blog today, that I wanted to share with you all. A real feel good blog, written by a lurcher! Isn't it amazing what dogs can do? Have a look at It is very entertaining...

I particularly love the little comic where the dog is in a meeting and has gone 6 days without licking his balls...

More people have signed up for the Fun Day on the 16th of May now and we still haven't had any of Pam's clients sign ups, so should get quite full on the day. You have until Sunday to sign up for the games, after that it will be too late!

I will start the extra training sessions for the dogs that will be competing for DogBasics soon. Recall, Stay, Leave and fast Sits and Downs... and lots of it! I'm determined that we will win on the day. Competetive? Me? You are kidding?!

Hope you are all enjoying the weather and that we'll have a day just like today on the 16th...


Monday, 13 April 2009

Have they considered the other side?

A perfectly nice evening destroyed because of one irresponsible dog owner...

We set out for a short evening walk after dinner and everything was still and beautiful with the sunrise making everything glow. Everyone was happy, tummies were full and the pace was leisurely. I let the dogs off in the field and they had a good sniff around, a little bit of running, but mainly just pottering around.

As we were heading back home we saw a person with a large dog in the distance, so I put Toby on lead. He didn't seem to care and carried on with his sniffing. A few paces on and I hear Toby growling. The other dog is approaching us at a fast rate and it is making Toby very nervous and agitated. Jasper and Lottie start running towards the other dog, but I call them back without any trouble.

I keep walking away with Toby, who is now all stiff and growling loudly. The dog owner started walking towards us, but there is still no calling the dog back, not a word from this lady and she is taking her time walking across the field. The dog is now right behind us, so I ask Paul to go and shoo the dog away (we can now see it is a big chocolate Lab boy with a cocky body language). I keep pushing on with Toby on lead and chatting to the other dogs to keep them with me, as they are still off lead. The lady is still not calling her dog in.

My heart rate is now right up, as I'm getting ready to protect Toby from this dog, that clearly has never learned that some dogs are not friendly. I shout out to the lady 'please call your dog in. Not all dogs are friendly!', to which she doesn't reply.

Paul has now blocked the dog and managed to grab it (big sigh of relief from me). When the lady has walked off with her dog on lead I ask Paul what she said and she apparently said 'he'll have to learn the hard way one day'.

I take a great disliking to people with that attitude for 2 reasons.

1. They are willing to let their dog suffer possible injury so that they learn not to go up to unknown dogs (so that the owner doesn't have to do the hard work of training her dog to come to recall!). Not only is that cruel and irresponsible, but it also carries so many follow up issues, I don't even know where to start. Their dog can turn into an antisocial dog too (quite likely). They might get seriously injured. I'm pretty sure that if her dog DID go up to a dog that fought hers and her dog got injured, that her attitude would change to 'that dog should be muzzled! Why would they walk such a vicious dog in a dog area?', completely missing the point that the so called vicious dog was under control, on lead, whilst her dog was not under any control and the whole thing was her fault in the first place!

2. Does any of these people ever think of the consequences for the other dog? Or the other dogs owner? The stress that Toby goes through when he sees an unknown dog approach is tremendous. He's not growling and snarling because he thinks he's the king of the castle, he's doing it because he is THAT insecure about having other dogs in his space. He's telling them to back off because he's nervous about them approaching. He's not inviting them to a fight, he's trying to stop them coming up so he doesn't have to get into a fight. Big, big difference!

Then there is the stress that I go through when I see my dog react with the panic that he does. The feeling of helplessness, when I can't always protect my dog from these situations, because I can't control other people and the way they keep their dogs.

Do they ever consider the consequences of their dogs approach, how much work they are undoing for us, the owners of anti social dogs? The closer the dog gets without me being able to shoo it off, the more of my dogs confidence in me, as his protector, disappears.

We've spent years getting him more relaxed around other dogs and we finally seem to be getting somewhere and he's so much better in general.

Have they ever stopped to think what even an almost fight with their dog would do to my dogs social skill set? It would wreck every single stone of trust that I've built up with my dog, every bit of trust he has in me, to sort these situations out.

So to those dog owners out there who let their dogs run around willy nilly, without a care in the world, even when they can see other dog owners putting their dogs on lead and clearly walking away, not interested in interacting with their dog, I say this:

Get your heads out of the sand and spend a little time thinking about the effects you have on other people and their dogs, not just about what your dog experiences. Just because your dog is a lovely sweet dog, doesn't mean that he should be allowed to rush up to everyone and everything. You have a responsibility as a dog owner to have your dog under control. If you don't have control, take a dog training class, or two! I could recommend a few good ones...

Not just for other people and their dogs sake, but for your dogs sake too! You are supposed to protect them from bad situations, not send them crashing into them, so they can 'learn a lesson'. Would you send your child into the road in front of an approaching car just to teach them to look both ways before they cross?

Am I wrong? I will be interested to hear your responses to this. Maybe I'm not seeing it from every ones point of view? Am I looking at this from the wrong perspective because I've had anti social dogs for the past 17 years?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

DogBasics site has had a face lift

The idea was to change the entire design of the DogBasics site into a CSS based layout, but after several days of tearing my hair out, I've gone back to my trusted html tables. Have a look at the new design and tell me what you think. Better now or did you prefer the old layout? Do you like the colours? Did you prefer the links at the top of the pages in tabs rather than by the side? Any thoughts at all?

And when are you all going to book in for the DogBasics Day? I'm getting worried I won't have more than a handful people on the day... and I was so sure we'd have a much bigger day this year... is it the date? Is it too early in the year? Do you not like fun days?

Monday, 30 March 2009

Having fun on a walk

Writing to a blog is harder than I thought. Trying to come up with something interesting to say is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Thus my lack of blog entries for the past few weeks...

But... this morning I got inspired, whilst walking my pack of 6 dogs. Yesterday we went out for a 2 hour walk, after my lessons had finished for the day, and the dogs were shattered afterwards (we also did almost 2 hours in the morning before my lessons). Toby ran after a hare at a pace that his old body just couldn't cope with, so he screamed as he got off the sofa last night and when he got out of bed this morning, so his muscles must have been very sore. Even though he limbered up a lot after a massage, he still wasn't up for much walking today, so I decided to take short walks and concentrate on search exercises for them to do instead. We had a great time!

I tied the dogs up that haven't got reliable stays (Pippa, Leo and Frida) and left Toby, Jasper and Jax in a stay, then walked out over a large field with tall grass and chucked out bits of dried sausages, dried venison tongue and heart, burns duck and fish flavoured pebbles (you can get all these treats at, over half the field (it is a big field!). I then returned to the dogs, rewarded the ones that had stayed without leads and then sent them all out to search together.

It is so great to see them all running around, excitedly wagging their tails, noses to the ground. It is by far my most favourite thing to do with dogs and they love it too. Haven't met a dog yet that doesn't love to search.

What kind of fun do you have with your dog when you are out walking? What kind of games do you play and how do you keep yourself interesting to them, when there are distractions like rabbits, hares, deer, dead things, etc out there?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

What has happened since last?

Well, the gorgeous Jax has come back to us for another long stay, until 14th April. Jiipii! Jax and Charley have been enjoying each others company so much today. I think Charley has missed having a friend to play with here.

Saturday we finished a puppy class that Katie Aquilina has been running and they are now moving on to a Basic Obedience course, also run by Katie (and me assisting). We just have to find a 4th dog to join their little group.

Pictures of their finale lesson and the other puppy classes that day are now up on the DogBasics Dogs gallery

We had the first special Basic Obedience training session on Sunday and I really enjoyed that. It was a big group of 9 dogs of different sizes, but it worked out very well. I liked the fact that we could move on very quickly from one exercise to another, because everyone knew what was expected. I might even put these sessions in a bit more often than just once per month. Watch this space!

Today I've been made aware of the WWF's Earth Hour campaign. I don't know how I could have missed it before now, but no harm, I've signed up and I've put a link to the page on all my web sites. Here is the same link for you, so you can sign up:

I've added a couple more video's to my YouTube account. Both are from socialising sessions. One is from 2005 with Jez Beagle, Frankie Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Treacle Labrador, Humphrey Dandy Dinmond Terrier. The other one is from a social last year (2008) with Eddie Akita, Molly Springer and Sydney Golden X.

That is it for this time. Take care.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Jumping and nipping puppies

Recently I've had lots of questions about puppies that jump and nip. For those of you with new puppies and who haven't had puppies before, please let me reassure you that this is perfectly normal for puppies. It might seem full on and sometimes even deliberate, the way they charge at you and bowl you over, but it is just play on their part. If they had done the same to another puppy, they would most likely have got a great chase game out of it, but when they do it to a human the response is usually not very positive.

So how do you solve the problem? It is a natural behaviour for them, but we can't live with them behaving like that...

For the jumping up, I would set up as many training sessions as possible, with as many different people as possible, to help your puppy generalise that you should greet all 2 legged creatures without jumping.

Set the training up at home, where you can work with one person at a time. When they come through the door they should be prepared to turn their back on your puppy, if he/she jumps up. They should turn their back and make sure they don't talk to, touch or look at the puppy until he/she has all 4 paws on the ground. Lots of fuss if they puppy comes up with all paws on the ground from the beginning. You can alternate this with setting your friend up with a bag of treats before they come through the door and instruct them to be ready to drop a handful of treats (can also be the puppy's dry food) on the floor, before the puppy reaches them. This will give the puppy a chance to stay on all 4 paws, eating the treats, while the guest gives them a gentle stroke over their backs and moves along into the house, settling into a chair. This will teach the puppy that they don't have to greet guests by jumping up. Dogs often jump up to get to the corners of our mouth, to lick us there. It is their way of showing us that they are not a threat, that they are submissive. That is why it is so hard to get rid of the jumping up issue. The more aggressively you try to teach them not to jump up, the more need they feel to jump up! Poor things will be utterly comfused...

Friday, 6 February 2009

Snow, snow and more snow!

Well, it has been a very quiet week. No day dogs on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Well, Pippa did manage to come over on Wednesday, but she only lives next door. Leo managed to make his way up here today, but I fear he might not be able to go home tonight... it just won't stop snowing! We've got about 2 if not 3 decimetres of snow up in Offley now.

We did manage to go ahead with the Basic Obedience class on Wednesday, but Rufus's car ended up stuck in the snow and it took 4 of us to get it out. We did search exercises and recall mainly, so the dogs wouldn't have to spend too much time on their bottoms in the cold snow. They had a fantastic time playing around in the snow though.

For those of you with long haired dogs, I can give you a tip on how to get rid of the snow balls they get stuck in their leg and belly fur. Use a dog brush with thick metal pins (not the little bent pins) and brush their fur with when you get home. It will break up the snow balls and then you can just dry them with a towel! Saves an awful lot of time and saves the dog the pain of us trying to drag the snow balls out of their fur.

I've managed to work out how to add the YouTube video's to the blog, so you can see them above now. Not all the DogBasics videos are showing at once, so if you go to, you'll be taken to the YouTube site and you can not only see the video in a larger size, but you can also see ALL the DogBasics videos (they are saved under the username of LocalPetPeople). Maybe your dog will be in one of them? We've got Buster Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Bramble Lab, Amber Boxer, Lola Golden, Milo Boxer, Rosie Bulldog, Dillon Golden, Rosie Lab, Frida Golden, etc.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Life after tax returns...

I'm sorry I haven't written anything for quite a while, I've been trying to concentrate on my tax return. I'm one of those people who need the panic to set in, when I realise I have less than a week to complete it, to actually get it done. For the first time ever, I manage to finish it about 24 hours before the deadline!

We had a great weekend with all the dogs in both puppy classes and Basic Obedience classes doing really well. Shame it was so windy and cold though!

I've got some really nice groups running at the moment and they are all doing so well. I must remember to bring my camera with me, so I can take pictures of all these gorgeous dogs, especially when they are training. If you've brought your camera to class at some point and have pictures of the training, please send them to me. You can see the playing pictures of your dogs on

Just had a discussion about training in the snow with Pam Haynes ( She's hoping it disappears by the weekend, but I would rather it stayed. My personal experience is that the dogs are easier to get into sits, downs and stays in snow, than it is to get them to do it on wet muddy ground. What is your experience with your dogs?

I hope you can all enjoy the snow while it is here. Today is a glorious day for dog walks!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Emma has won sausages!

Emma Andrews has won the first bag of sausages for her suggestion of the game What is the time, Mr Wolf? Well done Emma!
We'll be playing it in class on Wednesday, so I'll let you know how we get on...

The competition continues, so if you can think of any other games that we can use in the Basic Obedience classes to work on sit, down, stay, leave or walking on lead, that we are not already playing (see the Competition! blog on the 24th of Jan 09), you will win a bag of sausages!

Oh what a day...

It has been one of those days today. It started out well, we had a really nice long walk, the sun was out and the dogs were behaving themselves. Then we got back from the walk to discover that Jasper had a cut on his thigh. Thankfully enough Paul was back by the time we got back from the walk, so he took us down to the vet (I don't drive!). They said they wanted to stitch it up under sedation, so we left Jasper there. We'd only been home 30 minutes when they called and said he was done and we could pick him up, so another trip down to Hitchin. I can't say I envy Jasper's owners the bill of £140!

Home for a couple of hours and then Dot and Bruna arrived for our usual afternoon walk. I was bragging to Dot about how good Toby had been off lead at the weekend and subsequently thought I should give him a bit more off lead time than he normally has. Of course he ran off and was gone for a good long while! The little so and so... :-(

So all in all, not the best or most productive day I've ever had. And there was me planning to start on my tax return this morning!

At least the weekend was good, despite the weather on Sunday. We got totally soaked during our morning walk, but it was only the odd drop of rain during my 3 Basic Obedience lessons, so that wasn't so bad. I looked a bit of a mess though, after having several big dogs jump up at me, spraying me with mud water! They were all really enjoyable lessons though and I am really chuffed how well they all got their dogs focused on their first lesson.

Saturday, 24 January 2009


Ice, mud, water puddles everywhere and sunshine... quite a mixed bag today. It was nice first thing, when it was icy, although that caused poor Pam to drive off the road, very scary! She's alright though and amazingly enough her car didn't get a scratch on it. How she managed to hold all her classes despite such a scary start to her day, I dont know...

In the afternoon we had a lovely walk around Offley with quite a large group of dogs and owners. Angela with Dennis Cocker came all the way from Cambridgeshire!

What else has happened today?

Started a new puppy class today, with 4 Labs, 1 Boxer and 1 Rottie. As always the first lesson was a bit manic, with some puppies being very boisterous and others being quite shy, so lots of running around trying to protect the nervous ones. By the end of the lesson it seemed even Briar, the tiniest puppy, was rearing to have some fun! It will be interesting to see how they are next week.

I'd like to ask you all for some help... we keep using the same games in the classes, to make the training a bit more fun, and now I'd really like to have some more games to choose between. The games we are currently using are all based on childrens games, so maybe there are some more childrens games that could be adapted to dog training? If you can think of any, please let me know. For every game that is usable in class, I'll give you a bag of sausages! We want games where we can work on sits, downs, walking on lead, recall and stay. Not necessarily all those in the same game though.

We currently play Shark (musical chairs), Red Light (Red light/Green Light), CopyCat (same for children), Spoon Race, Simon Says. If you can think of any other childrens games that could be adapted, please let me know.

Keeping my fingers tightly crossed that we won't get the rain tomorrow, that the weather people have threatened us with. We've got enough water as it is!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Why do dogs have to heel?

Pam Haynes ( and I had an interesting discussion yesterday, about why so many of our clients expect their dogs to heel when out on a walk. What is that all about? It is like asking a bloke to sit with a straight back and only sip tea when he's the pub...
(I know, a bit of a weird allegory...)

The whole point of taking your dog for a walk is surely to allow him to do doggie things, such as sniffing the ground, marking up the area, meeting doggie friends, etc. Your dog can't do these things on a tight lead, walking right by your side and why should he?

Is it another remnant of all the dominance training on TV? Dogs should never walk in front of you, a la Ceasar Milan? Or is it something else?

The way I see it, your dog should be able to walk next to you in a controlled maner (work on a focus exercise!) if you are going through town, in a crowded space, etc, but when you are out on a walk with them they should be allowed to sniff on a nice long lead (go to and get yourself a canal lead - they are the best!) or they should be off lead.

Consider this, why do you take your dog for a walk? Is it for your benefit or for your dogs? I sincerely hope the answer comes back 'it's for my dog'...

In class we train walking on a slack lead, but we don't really train heel. Heel is something you do in competetive obedience. It looks great, but it is very hard for the dog to sustain for a longer period of time, which is why you see so many of the highest ranking competetive obedience dogs dragging their owners around when they are out of the show ring. Teaching your dog to heel in a very specific environment (the show ring) is VERY different to teaching him to heel in an every day situation.

What do you think? Do you expect your dog to heel? If so, when do you expect your dog to heel?

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Bia beds in colour!

Having handed off the business to Alison Milner yesterday (thank you Alison!), I've been changing things on the site for her today and sending her addresses to suppliers, etc. Whilst doing this, I managed to find a site for the Bia beds that I haven't seen before, which is obviously much more updated than the one I usually look at, and am now so very excited... the Bia beds come in all kinds of funky colours now! Look at to see what I mean...

I'm usually not very fond of pink, but the pink one is rather gorgeous... I now realise that instead of having a shoe fetish or bag fetish, I've got a dog equipment fetish! Anything new that I haven't seen before... gotta' have it!!!

So Alison... will you be buying in some Bia beds in flashy colours? Could I have one please? :-)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

ActivateYourDog online shop moves on...

So I'm packing up the ActivateYourDog shop for good this time... Alison and Paul Milner will take over from here on out. You can find out more about the Milners on their web site

I can still supply you with Naturediet, dried sausages, tripe sticks, rawhides and pigs ears, but I will only stock enough for myself and a bit more, so I can never guarantee stock and you will have to pay cash.

DogBasics has a blog!

I've been meaning to add a blog to DogBasics for years, but never got around to it until now. I will try to write every day.

I hope you will help me with the blog by commenting on the site, blog, videos, pictures, training, etc.