Phantom Pregnancies

This is an excellent article by Kerry Rhodes, following-on from my blog about a puppy coming into her first season and reminds me of my first dog, Pagan, a beautiful GSD X Belgium Shepard. Pagan used to nest-build even after she has been spayed and I remember feeling concerned for her. But Kerry is right; the dogs really need any treatment just your “…patience and understanding”.

Puppy’s first season

I was contacted recently by a client with a 10 month old Labradoodle bitch that I had spent some time with last year when I provided advice and coaching on appropriate puppy life-skills, socialisation and basic behaviour shaping. The owner telephoned me for assistance with her pup who was expressing some novel behaviours that she was unable to rationalise, which included; loss of recall, appearing fearful of her, refusing to come back indoors and barking continuously until very late at night. This enquiry reminded me of a similar, but different, experience I had with a young Collie bitch a few years ago, who was also 10 months old, from Somerset. The dog had been reported to me as having bitten her owner and another family dog which was completely out of character for this gentle natured puppy. The owner had taken her pup to the vet who had recommended PTS (Put To Sleep – euthanasia) as he had “…seen this behaviour in Collies before and PTS is the only remedy”. Through a friend in Somerset I agreed to foster this Collie to avoid PTS and she came to live with me and my three dogs in SW Wales. Within a few days of living with my ‘family’ the Collie pup commenced her first season – much to the interest of my three male dogs. Bizarrely, just a couple of weeks following the cessation of her initial season she had a second season which must have caused the poor little dog such anguish and confusion.

At the time I felt that the Collie’s problematic biting behaviour towards her original owner may have been triggered by the onset of her first season and the current stage of her puppy growth period development. My thoughts were that the Collie had entered her 2nd Fear Imprint Period [This is the period in which your dog may become fearful of otherwise familiar people, dogs and objects as well as unfamiliar circumstances] and coupled with her approaching first season she was being ruled by her hormones and was not acting rationally. I had tried to find information on any similar incidences at the time; but to no avail.

This latest incident with the Labradoodle inspired me to again investigate this arena of puppy development and through Kerry Rhodes-Wilson of Rhodes2Safety I was made aware of the excellent blog on the topic; This blog provides information, support and guidance to puppy owners going through this period with their young dog. My friend Mel Loveridge, The Canine Coach, was also able to confirm my findings with these two puppies and inspired me to write this blog.

My observations are that some female dogs may experience a difficult and challenging time during the approaching weeks to their first season; these dogs need extra patience, understanding and calmness from their owners.   I’m collecting data on any similar situations with pups’ with behavioural issues in the build-up to their first season and I would appreciate any data from dog owners who may be experiencing any out-of-character behaviour from their pups.

My advice is to be patient, remain calm, keep your dog safe and don’t give too much attention to any out-of-character behaviours and help her to get through this life-changing period.Image

Loose-lead walking

flat-coated-retriever-m002Another great success for Loose-lead walking! Gus is a happy, high energy, excitable 13 months old Flatcoat Retriever who has always pulled on the lead; his owners’ Ceinwen and Arwyn, have struggled to control Gus’s boundless energy and Ceinwen has been unable to walk him due to his strength and unpredictability. Gus would frequently rear-up on his hind legs to share his boundless puppy-like energy with every other dog and person he sees which made dog walks difficult, stressful and unenjoyable at times.

I had arranged to meet the trio in the country park to help with Gus’s excessive pulling and to enable them all to enjoy calm walks and I was able to witness Gus’s enthusiasm for life first-hand as they approached me. I selected a suitable, well-padded harness from my collection and demonstrated the no-stress technique for fitting it to Gus. I attached the 5 mtr line and slowly let-out the lead enabling Gus to his enjoy his new-found freedom to explore the environment and display natural dog-like behaviours and practice the essential scent work of a Flatcoat. The transformation was immediate and encouraging; Gus walked calmly to the extent of the lead and then instead of his usual frantic pulling, he maintained a pressure on the lead until he realised that he wasn’t going to make any head-way whilst pulling. Gus then relaxed the lead pressure and turned his head towards me for direction and guidance; with that I was able to put-into-practice the ‘hand-touch’ technique we had ‘shaped’ on an earlier coaching session and then proceeded with the walk in a calm and controlled manner with repeated stops and waits when Gus pulled. The remainder on the initial hour-long walk was a very pleasant and easy walk and Ceinwen was also able to walk Gus calmly for the first time in a very long while. Ceinwen and Arwyn have now equipped themselves with a good quality harness and a 5 mtr line and are now enjoying Gus on calm walks.

I look forward to my next Loose-lead walking assignment which is with two Husky dogs.

Loose-lead walking is a very simple technique and has been effective with every dog I have worked with. The technique requires calmness and patience and an awareness of one’s dog’s needs. With any breed of dog it’s much simpler to have a dog with self-control rather than one that has to be ‘controlled’ at all times. Loose-lead walking is especially effective with large dogs where their innate strength makes it impossible to physically control them

Canine Separation Anxiety

The Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science (SPARCS), of which I am a member, is promoting a study by academics at the University of Lincoln, UK, and the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Kosice, Slovakia, to improve our understanding of dogs’ behaviour in the owner’s absence. Dog owners are being asked to complete a detailed survey to help researchers analyse the various clinical signs and situations in which problems occur. If you’re interested in participating in this project please follow the link below.

Canine Sensory Garden

I’ve been engaged by a dog rescue shelter in West Wales to assist with the design and layout of a Canine Half-way home / sensory garden / enrichment area / Canine Life-skills centre / meet-and-greet facility, which has been a long-held desire of mine since I initiated a similar project when I was a volunteer in a shelter in Somerset. As part of my research into other, similar existing installations I shall be attending a presentation on the Canine Sensory Garden in Bath Cats’ and Dogs’ Home in February. The centre is making a modest charge to attend this presentation with all proceeds going towards the on-going care of animals in their charge; if anyone’s interested in attending the presentation please follow the link below…

Aggressive dogs?

This is a very interesting article published by Bristol University; well worth a read

Calm dogs

This is an excellent article and supports my initiative of suggesting that too much ball chasing can cause Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD) and that simple scent-work games and ‘finding games’ are far better for dogs to live calm and contented lives and enable them to be more dog-like and express natural Canine Behaviours. If you would like advice on calming your dog and reducing their over excitement, please contact me.

Loose-lead walking

I am a great advocate of Loose-lead walking and I’ve been successful in coaching 100s of dogs in the technique of not pulling on lead and instead having the self-control to enjoy quite, calm walks. I have had success with many very large and stressed dogs in rescue including Mastiffs, Great Dane, Rottweiler, Doberman, Labradors and Retrievers as well as the smaller breeds which has included Pekinese, Border Terrier, Japanese Spitz and Border Collies. I’ve even assisted a desperate dog owner with an impromptu coaching session in a pub car park with their huge Rottweiler cross whilst I was on holiday in St David’s.

I recently received the following wonderful comment from a family I met in Burry Port that was on holiday in Carmarthenshire from Spain with their Labrador:-

“Hi we just wanted to say thanks for the class you gave us down in Burry Port with our Labrador Baxter, since we´ve returned to Spain he´s really got the gist of not pulling! It’s amazing!

If anyone else is reading this we seriously recommend Canine Harmony, we found it intuitive, dog centred, reasonably priced and hugely positive. This is your man!

Thanks Claire Davies & Diego Fabra x”

Loose-lead walking is a wonderful reward based stress-free technique to teach your dog good walking etiquette; I’d like to be able to assist you.


New agility class member

This is a photograph of Jilly who recently joined my Fun Agility class in Burry Port. I rescued Jilly from Somerset with a friend as the dog was about to be Put To Sleep (PTS) due to an incorrect veterinary diagnosis.  Jilly was about 10 months old when she came to live with me and my three dogs in Trimsaran during which time I was able to fully assess her temperament and socialise her with other dogs and people. After about three weeks I found the for-ever home for Jilly with a great local family.

Jilly is a very fit and healthy three year old Collie who just loves the energy and excitement of agility; with training and guidance I’m positive she’ll do very well


Dog show – Animal Lifeline Wales

I attended the Animal Lifeline Wales dog show on Sunday with my Road Show. Despite the scorching hot weather the attendance was amazing and the show was very busy; all the judging classes were briskly competed and the Flyball proved to be very exciting and compulsive participation. Everyone took great care to ensure their dogs remained hydrated and shaded, with no dogs left in cars. I enjoyed a constant stream of doggie enquiries for a variety of dogs from Pug to Mastiff, with issues ranging from dog/dog aggression to puppy fear-periods and I gained several new clients. I was able to assist with some simple concerns like how to stop a Springer Spaniel from pulling on the lead and plan some puppy Life-skills Programmes. A great day out.