Reactive Collie

I recently met a woman in the park with a very nervous and reactive Collie. As she saw me approaching with my pack of four, she calmly put her dog on a lead and stepped to one side of the path to enable me to pass without putting too much pressure on her dog. My dogs, being very calm and well socialised, passed without any fuss and I asked if her dog had a problem with other dogs, she explained that her rescue dog Meg had been attacked previously and had now become very defensive and had taken to ‘air-snapping’ at other dogs  if they got too close. We talked for a while and I suggested that she might like to try ‘parallel walking’ or similar technique to enable Meg to have choices when seeing other dogs and I explained about body-blocking and using naturally occurring objects as ‘blockers’. As she was open to my ideas I suggested that we try a ‘following’ technique as this would provide Meg with the opportunity to sniff where my dogs had been and she would retain the option to follow or distract. I set-off with my four whilst she followed at a distance to suit Meg. After a while Naomi let Meg off the lead and we both observed Meg begin to investigate my dogs at a safe distance, then Meg became confident to approach the tail-end of my little group and retreat back to the safety of Naomi when needed. As the walk progressed Meg became bolder with ever deeper penetration of my group and less need of Naomi’s support. By the end of our short walk of less than a mile Meg seemed quite happy to wander through my group without any sign of distress. Naomi was elated and near tears as her beloved Meg had never been able to do this previously and she had always sought to avoid other dogs.

Just by chance I met Naomi and Meg the next day; Meg appeared to remember my dogs and quickly assimilated into my group of dogs with my Boyz paying very little attention to Meg again. The whole walk was relaxed and Meg just fitted-in and all dogs just calmly went about their business of sniffing and checking-out the ‘newspaper’; wonderful!

I never cease to be amazed at how quickly dogs are able to apparently overcome a trauma and begin to enjoy the company of other calm and respectful dogs. It’s this that gives me the thrill of working with dogs and committed owners.  Image


Dog show

I have a trade stand and I’m sponsoring a judging class at the Animal Lifeline dog show on Sunday 14th July. Hope to see you all there

Vaccine damage

I was very interested to hear holistic vet Michael W Fox categorically state on the SPARCS web-cast that dogs can contract auto-immune diseases due to vaccine damage. My GSD, Pagan, died of Auto Immune Haemolytic Anaemia 11 years ago at the age of 6½. Pagan had been a very fit dog as she had always accompanied me on my regular 15 miles training runs and hiking expeditions, but following her ‘annual booster’ she suddenly became ill and died two weeks later. The vet, although sympathetic, offered very little assistance as to the cause of the sudden death of my otherwise healthy dog. I did some research and found a lady in the USA who was studying these unexplained deaths of healthy dogs and had established that the annual booster was unnecessary and led to the over-vaccination of dogs. My own research led me also to Catherine O’Driscoll and her organisation Canine Health Concern Although I strongly believed at the time that vaccine damage had been the root cause of Pagan’s death it was not until watching the fascination SPARCS web-cast that I now have confirmation of my own beliefs as to the cause of Pagan’s premature death.


Reactive Pekinese

I’ve been working with a delightful 16 month old Pekinese who displays behaviours to suggest she’s reactive, but not aggressive, towards other dogs. Initially she barked at every dog she saw and loved nothing more than too rush up to all dogs to engage in play. The problem with that of course is, not all dogs want, or know how, to play – so this activity has the potential to get her into trouble.

My clients had attended a puppy training class but were asked to leave because their dog was barking too much and disrupting the class; surely a dog that is reactive and showing signs of stress when in the vicinity of other dogs needs support, perhaps on a one-to-one basis, excluding the dog only serves to alienate the dog owners’ and for the dog never to gain the basic canine social skills essential to all dogs.

To help this young Pekinese overcome her ‘reactive behaviour’ I initiated a strategy of ‘loose-lead walking’ with a harness and a long-line (7 mtr) and identifying her ‘critical distance’ i.e. the distance at which she doesn’t react to another dog and walking her on a parallel route with other dogs at this distance. When she’s able to observe another dog yet remain calm, i.e. not bark and pull on the lead, she’s given a reward, be it a treat or just a “Good girl”. As her ability to accept a reducing critical distance increases we can walk her on a converging path or in a following pattern, enabling her to gain confidence in varying scenarios. This strategy is proving so successful that a recent walk on Cefn Sidan beach exceeded our expectations when she walked past three calm dogs just 15 mtrs away without any reaction at all, and then later when we walked into the surf close to an exuberant, barking young Yellow Labrador she was able to remain calm and not react, I was so pleased for her to have the first calm walk without all the usual stresses of reactive barking.



Heatstroke – early warning signs

Heatstroke can be fatal. Do everything you can to prevent it.

Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs with short snouts, fatter or heavily muscled dogs and long-haired breeds, as well as very old or very young dogs. Dogs with certain diseases are more prone to heatstroke, as are dogs on certain medication.

If dogs are unable to reduce their body temperature, they will develop heatstroke. There are some signs to look for:

•Heavy panting

•Profuse salivation

•A rapid pulse

•Very red gums/tongue


•Lack of coordination

•Reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing



•Loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances

 Heatstroke – first aid

If your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him/her to a shaded, cool area and ring your vet for advice immediately.

Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency.

Dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature gradually lowered:

•Immediately douse your dog with cool (not cold) water, to avoid shock – you could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, or use a spray filled with cool water and place your dog in the breeze of a fan.

•Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water.

•Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle – never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver.

 Once you have cooled your dog down you should take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery.


Dog Agility Taster Session

i’ll be holding a ‘Free, Dog Agility, Taster Session’ in Burry Port this Sunday. Come along and have some fun with your dog.


Cefn Sidan beach

At last a lovely day for a beach walk. Trying to get our four dogs in a photo together is like trying to herd goldfish. 


Two Staffies

I’ve just started working with two Staffies who, although quite excitable, are very loving and ultimately calm dogs. My initial task is to teach them self-control and not to jump-up at visitors; that’s going to be an on-going project as the older dog has been practicing the art of jumping-up for the past three years and is a master at it, and of course he has taught the younger dog the technique. With calmness and persistence these two intelligent dogs will soon grasp the ability to resist over-excitable greetings. I also initiated shaping the hand-touch game which can be the foundation of a reliable recall. On this occasion the younger, one year old Staffie, proved to be one of the quickest dogs I’ve ever shaped this behaviour with and was soon touching my hand on cue. Our next meeting with be in the Country Park where we shall introduce the dogs to the harness and long-line and see if we can begin to shape the loose-lead walking technique and if appropriate I’ll introduce some basic nose-work games, can’t wait.



I am pleased to announce that I recently re-homed Tai (formally Tyson), a Staffie cross, to a family in Burry Port, SW Wales. Tai was rescued from an uncertain future with a strong possibility of being surrendered to a dog fighting syndicate in London or PTS. I was asked to assess his temperament by a local dog rescue for possible re-homing. During my time with Tai I found him to be an amazing ambassador for the wonderful nursery dog breed that Staffies are. Tai calmly and readily took-too his new family’s children and with the crate training I did with him, he was remarkably calm when he went for his castration op. Tai was a very quick learner; he rapidly grasped the hand-touch game and was soon an accomplished loose-lead walking dog. I wish Tai well in his for-ever home.



I attended a great networking meeting today at Machynys Peninsula Golf Club During the breakfast meeting we had one-on-one meetings with selected delegates to discuss business opportunities. Lyn Griffiths has agreed to take-on my income tax problem and Rhiannon Boyce of Machynys has inspired me to pursue my idea of offering Canine seminars in the Llanelli area in her conference suite and Barrie Hughes and I discussed his plans to get his delivery vehicle ‘wrapped’; a very inspirational day.