Take the Lead – Travelling with your Dog in the Car

In the Highway Code, Rule 57  states that dogs should be suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you while you are driving, or injure you or themselves, if you stop quickly. Suitable methods of restraint are a Seat Belt harness, Pet Carrier, Dog Cage or a Dog Guard. If a Dog Guard is used your dog should also be secured to a fixed secure point. Should you not have your dog suitably secured in your vehicle, you could be liable for a heavy fine and should you have an accident caused by being distracted by your dog your insurance may be invalidated.

On my travels out and abroad I often see dogs sitting unsecured in the front of cars and even hanging out of windows whilst travelling. Why would we allow this, we always put our seat belts on and also ensure our passengers do the same. If you are involved in an accident at 30 miles per hour or more and you come to an abrupt stop, if your dog is not restrained he may become a missile travelling at that speed, either injuring yourself, your passengers or worse being flung through the windscreen and will be unlikely to survive the incident.

I remember some time ago an elderly couple were going for a day out taking teir dog with them. They were involved in an accident, which was not their fault, however, the dog was not restrained, fortunately the dog had not been injured or injured it’s owners. However when the Ambulanceman went to scene of the accident and opened the door to see whether the driver and passenger were injured or not, the dog immediately jumped over the seats and out of the car and into the road and was run over and killed by a passing vehicle.

If you are stopped by the Police and your dog is unsecured and they believe that they have been causing a distraction, you may be liable for a fine of up to £1,000 and 3 Penalty Points for Driving without Proper Control. However, If they believe that you were Driving Without Due Care and attention the maximum fine for this is £2,500 and 9 Penalty Points and in extreme cases may also result in a driving ban and invalidate your insurance.

Top Tips

Use either a Seat Belt Harness, Pet Carrier, Dog Cage or a Dog Guard to restrain your dog in your vehicle.

Don’t feed your dog before a long journey

Take your dog’s favourite blanket and / or toy in the car

Use a Shade on the windows in hot weather to block out the Sunlight

Always carry water with you.

Never allow your dog to hang out of the vehicle window, whether it is travelling or not.

Stay Safe when Walking your Dog at Night

It’s getting to that time of the year where the nights are drawing in and the clocks have gone back and by the time most of us get back from work it will be dark, but our dogs still need to have their daily walks.

The safety of both ourselves and our dogs is paramount and our advice to you at Lincs training – Dog Training Made Easy is to make sure that you and your dogs are highly visible

Both you and your dogs should wear high visibility jackets or light-coloured clothing with reflective bands or patches and your dog should have a reflective collar so that you can be seen by any approaching vehicles, both cars and bicycles, from a distance.

There are also many other proprietary visibility items, such as flashing collars, discs and leads available in all good Pet Shops and now also available in some supermarkets. Wearing these will help to ensure that you can be seen at distance by the traffic.

We are not great lovers of flexi-leads, whereas these may be all right in open spaces, on roads and pavements they can be lethal, as the dog can at any time just bolt into the road, chasing a cat, dog, bird , squirrel, a leaf or even a shadow into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

This is even more critical in the dark, as the oncoming vehicle will probably have less time to see you dog. Walk with your dog near to you , preferably to heel. If you’re walking on your own, keep to well-lit areas and also as another safety precaution, change your route from time to time.

Please remember to be a responsible dog owner and always pick up your dog’s poo, you should always carry a poo bag (and at least one spare) tro cover these eventualities, as dogs do what comes naturally and not always where you want them to.

There are now local by-laws in force, where you can be fined for not being in possession of a poo bag when walking your dog, even if your dog has not done its business. You must pick up after your dog everywhere, except on arable land, in the road where the speed limit exceeds 30mph and of course your own property. If caught, you could be liable to a fine of up to £1,000.

Another concern at this time of year are fireworks – no longer are these confined to the 5th November, they have already started and will be going off and on until the New Year. If you have a nervous dog and there is the likelihood of fireworks, don’t go for an evening walk, go for a walk in the morning or during the day, if you can. It is much better to miss a walk than to have a dog that will be scared to go out for an evening walk in the future.

Fireworks nowadays can be very noisy, so find a place where your dog can settle securely in the house, in his own cage or basket away from the noise if possible and give it all the reassurance it needs.

Not all dogs are frightened of the noise and flashes of the fireworks, within our own dogs we have those who will happily go out to watch the fireworks and others that bury themselves in their cages until the fireworks are long finished. If you are particularly concerned, we would suggest, that you ask your vet if there is any suitable medication available which may help to calm your dog down in these circumstances.

Another hazard that will soon be with us is the salt and other road treatments used to prevent or to de-ice the roads and footpaths. Please remember to wash your dog’s paws and feet after walking, to get rid of these salts, etc. which are toxic to dogs if ingested.

The dog’s natural reaction is to clean themselves up, which could lead to problems and necessitate treatment at the vets.

Please Keep Safe

Love Your Dog as you would a family member

A Happy New Year to you all from Lincs Training – Dog Training Made Easy. During Christmas and over the New Year is a time I look back and reflect over what has occurred not only in the last year but also in the past.

In my job as a Dog Trainer I go to many houses and meet many families who are embarking on a new stage in their lives, embracing their new or even their first puppy or dog. Some people find it easy and take to it like a duck to water and welcome it wholeheartedly into their lives, whereas others find it more difficult as undoubtedly they will have to change their lifestyle to accommodate their new addition to the family.

I was three years old when I got my first dog, a Corgi named Candy, I had pestered my Mum and Dad and at first they bought me a stuffed toy dog thinking that might pacify me into not having one, but eventually they gave in and that little dog came into my life and changed my whole aspect of how I felt and my responsibilities to her.

I looked after her and cared for her throughout her life, Candy gave me a purpose to get up in the morning to feed and exercise her and she was my friend and companion – I hope that you would aspire to do the same. For children, it may be the first time in their lives that they would be introduced to responsibility and eventually loss. It should also teach you the more you engage and put into a relationship, the more you will get back in return. I have had many dogs since Candy, all different in their own ways, but each has taught me so much. To get  the best from our dog we should respect and as a minimum give them the basic Five Freedoms.

Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – provide an adequate nutritional diet and access to fresh water at all times.

Freedom from Discomfort – provide an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

Freedom from Pain, Injury and Disease.

Freedom to Express their Normal Behaviour.

Freedom from Fear and Distress

The above Freedoms are not too much to give in exchange for the companionship, loyalty and love they give back to us.

Investing in the Future of our Pups

As we bring up our children in our families, we try to meet their needs, like teaching them basic safety and hopefully good manners. We try to allow them to socialise with other children by sending them to outside classes or other groups so that they can learn the basic rules and hopefully grow up to be well balanced human beings.

Our dogs need the same time and input. When we get a puppy, we have an idea of what we think we want from our puppy and that it should be part of our family. In addition to its basic safety, health and welfare such as making sure it is loved, that it knows it’s place and has a well-balanced nutritious diet, a safe place to eat and sleep and veterinary care. We should therefore give them the same input as we would our children.

A puppy needs to be house trained, to learn it’s place in the hierarchy of the family, to wait and stay, to walk on a lead without pulling, to sit, stand and stay, how to meet and greet other people and their dogs, and coming back when called.

The above basics are covered in the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme, which we at Lincs Training – Dog Training Made Easy promote. If you take the time to take your dog to a qualified Dog Trainer, you will be taught all these basic skills and even if you only go as far as the Puppy foundation level this will help both the owner and their puppies to give them the best start in their life.

It gives what I believe the bones to train your dogs in the basic needs and a solid base for the owner and handler to understand the same. If you and/or your dog have enjoyed getting thus far, you can progress through the other stages of The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme – Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, where both you and your dogs can reach even higher levels, both on and off lead.

As with our families we would like to think that we can take our children out anywhere, so it should be with our dogs. I was so proud the other day, when one of my clients sent me a photo of them and their dog on the London Underground and another who posted a video of their dog coming back to them every time that they were called on the beach. These are some of the things that can be achieved.

You only get back out of life what you put into life and that is just as true, if not more so, with our dogs. My philosophy is start early and no matter how hard the journey is, to keep going as you are investing in the future.

Don’t give your Dog Conflicting Commands

I often go into homes where people are looking for dog training only to find that one person in the family is saying one thing in trying to get the dog to do something and another person is giving a totally different command for the same thing and probably other family members are giving yet another command… no wonder our dogs get confused and they all wonder why the dog doesn’t listen to them. On my visits I always as for the whole family to be involved. When I ask them to try to get the dog to sit, there are a variety of commands ranging from “Sit”, “Sit down”, “Oi Sit” “over here Sit” or some such other varying commands, all given in differing tones of voices depending on the dog’s reaction or otherwise.

It’s no wonder the dog doesn’t react as it is probably totally confused as to what you want. Remember a dog is a simple creature who needs to be told clearly and simply what to do. All that is required is using the dog’s name ask it to “Sit”, using a short sharp sweet tone, and also using the hand command for Sit.

If everyone does the same the dog will know what you want and will soon learn to respond.

Similarly, with the command “Come”, we gat a variety of commands from “will you come here”, “Come” without using the dog’s name or just using the dog’s name without a command. Are you confused because I’m sure you can see why your dog would be. When the dog doesn’t respond the owner then gets annoyed.

Time and again the owner just calls the dog’s name and gives no command expecting it to do something but does not tell it what he wants it to do. If somebody just called out your name, what would you do? You would probably just stand there wondering what to do until you were told. It’s no different with your dog, if you tell it what you want it to do it has at least a chance of doing it.

When these things are pointed out to the people I visit they generally understand that their dogs need clear, consistent commands and instructions and when I demonstrate these commands to their dog they are sometimes speechless at what their dog can do when asked. All dogs have the capacity to understand and learn and it is us that needs to understand that we must give clear and consistent commands and instructions. Also do not give treats or praise for bad behaviour as the dog will think that his behaviour is okay. Only praise and treat your dog for good behaviour and doing what you want, so that it will reinforce what you would like him to keep doing.

A Well-Balanced Diet is Important for your Dog

The old adage – “you are what you eat” applies to our canine friends as well. Choosing a well-balanced nutritional diet for your dog is very important, not only for the correct growth of puppies, but as it can also alter their mood and behaviour.

The required protein levels for puppies are 0 – 4 moths is 28%, 4 – 12 months is 22% and from 12 – 18 months only 18%.

Low quality protein, preservatives and artificial colourings only create potential nutritional and behavioural problems and affect their aptitude.

Following the correct daily allowance for the age and breed of dog is vital to prevent obesity, lethargy and the animal becoming unresponsive.

Remember if you own a working dog like a Husky, German shepherd or Collie and they only have one walk a day, they do not need a working dog diet, all that extra unburnt energy the food provides could give rise to bad behaviour. The diet you choose fpr your dog can be a complete dry (meaning nothing needs to be added), raw or home-made.

A supply of fresh water should also always be available. Chewing problems in dogs can be relieved by giving a Kong toy filled with frozen Yoghurt inside or a sterilised bone, providing this is suitable for their age. This offers the dog a natural behaviour outlet for them, which can also relieve stress.

Special diets, by a Canine Nutritionist, for food intolerances to certain ingredients can help with allergies, as well as diet manipulation to alter some aggression, over reactivity, separation problems or hyperactivity responses displayed by your pet.

Finally treats, we all like to spoil our furry friends, we all like to give our dogs little extras. However, please read their contents for high protein levels, colourings, artificial flavourings and derivatives – avoid these at all costs.

Good alternatives are sweet potato treats, small amounts of apple and pear or a whole raw carrot.

Helen Maddison DIP. CABT (QCF) and Dog Trainer

DANGER – HOT WEATHER !!!

I make no apologies for bringing up the subject of the exceptionally hot weather again. Although you may not believe it, I am old enough to remember the Summer of 1976 when the sun came out in June and didn’t go back in until October. The recent weather is very reminiscent of that year, the weather may be great for the majority of us but not so for our animals.

Please think about your animals, just last week, whilst driving along, I saw somebody walking their dog on the pavement, in the middle of the day, when the temperature was 29°, the dog was labouring but the owner seemed blissfully ignorant and showed no consideration for their dog. We would reiterate that when the Air Temperature is 25°C (77°F) the temperature of the pavements could be 51°C (approx.125°F). If you must walk your dog do it early morning or late evening during this hot spell.

Dogs have died from heatstroke just playing out in the sun in their own garden for a short period. Make sure that they have cool or shaded areas in the house and the garden so that they can rest out of the sun and make sure that they have access to plenty of fresh water.

If your dog is showing signs of Heat Exhaustion such as panting a lot, wrap a wet tea towel around its paws or on the back of its neck, use tepid not cold water. Do not immerse you dog in cold water as this could have an adverse effect. If you think your dog is in distress, take it to the vets immediately.

Finally, never leave your dog alone in your car in hot weather, even if the windows are open as the heat reached in your car will be like that of an oven.

Please Think Dog.

Christmas with your Dogs

Christmas is a time for Family and Friends and for everyone to enjoy this time of the year. Your Home will be buzzing with people coming and going, but let’s not forget what your Dog’s needs are.

Keep to your normal routine, go for your walks on time, feed your Dogs on time, and don’t give them food that they do not need.

Be mindful that there are many foodstuffs around Christmas that are toxic to dogs, such as Christmas Puddings, Mince pies, Christmas Cake and Chocolate amongst others.

Beware of the hidden dangers, Poinsettia plants, Pine needles from the Christmas tree that may get stuck in and between the paws, trailing electric leads for Christmas lights, Baubles, Chocolate Decorations on your tree etc.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested anything that it should not, do not delay take it immediately to the vet, where it can be treated successfully if caught in time.

This time of year can be mystifying to a young dog, so try to find a quiet place where your dog can relax, such as a crate with a blanket over, put a nice treat in there with him, a Kong filled with frozen Yoghurt. Remember that we all need a bit of time and space on our own to relax.

We would like to wish all of you and your dogs a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Lincs Training – Dog Training Made Easy and please keep it a safe one for you and your pets.

Dog Training Spalding Puppy

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