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Friday, 28 November 2008

Barking mad

I have two dogs, one Parson Jack Russel who is five and one 11 month old Yorkshire Terrier cross, the problem is with the Parson Jack Russel, she is well behaved when in the house, but when we take her out and she sees another dog, she just won't stop barking, even when she goes up to the other dog and meets him/her, she will bark really loudly in their face, the Yorkshire Terrier cross is well behaved out, she loves meeting other dogs but has started picking up bad habits from my Parson Terrier and tries copying her when she barks at other dogs, any advice please on how to cure this embarrassing and very annoying behaviour, so that it can be more enjoyable when going out.
Emma Rich, by email

Can anyone suggest anything to help Emma?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Can you calculate COIs?

While I love Apple Macs there are times when having one does mean you are discriminated against.

For example, I would very much like to be able to calculate the coefficient of inbreeding for a particular dog. If I lived in Sweden I simply could turn to the Swedish Kennel Club website and type in the name of the dog and instantly I would have the COI. Well I would be able to if I had a PC. Even Sweden isn't Mac friendly.

As our KC is not that evolved no matter what type of computer you have, I needed to source the software to calculate the COI.
Guess what - it's all PC-only!

So I have a choice - buy a new computer just to calculate
COI and the software. Or learn how to do cross platform stuff on my already creaky Mac - scary.
Or appeal through this blog for someone who might already have the software and a computer that can handle it to please, please, please calculate the
COI for this one particular dog.
We need to use the maximum number of generations as all the inbreeding seems to concentrate on the fourth generation onwards.
My manual research shows that 11 out of the 16 dogs in the 4
th generation are all line bred to three siblings! And of the remaining 5 dogs many of them feature one or other of those siblings parents.

Be very grateful for any help anyone can offer!If you manfacture COI software and could run this one out as an example we can give your product a plug for all those normal people who have PCs!
Do pass on if you know anyone who can help!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Can you tame this tiny terror?

Hi Beverley,
I would be really grateful for any advice on my Yorkie x JRT's behaviour. She's coming up for 6 years old in December and her problem is she's dog aggressive.
I've been trying to contact a behaviourist for the past couple of weeks but I'm not sure whether there's a problem receiving my emails as there's been no reply so far.
Missy was originally the dominant pup in her litter, she bullied her siblings and was basically the bolshy one, however I fell in love with her and thought no more of her being a dominant pup etc. We attended Puppy Parties at our local Vet's and then went on to Training classes where she did well. However now I look back, the early signs of her aggressive nature were showing through already. She had to have many "time outs" as she got to rough with the other puppies and used to corner them, not letting them move. The trainer at the time just said it was puppy development and that being a Terrier she was naturally more "pushy" then the other pups.
It didn't help that all the dogs we were meeting out and about on our walks were quite rough with Missy, she really only had two doggy "friends" that were gentle with her. The rest would pin her down, chase her, snap at her etc. Just before she was a year old she was snapped at by another JRT and it all escalated into a fight, I had abuse off the owner and cross words were exchanged between both of us. Missy has never been the same since. Things have just got gradually worse. I know if she was let off lead around another small dog she'd kill it, needless to say I do not allow her off lead unless there are no dogs around.
Funnily enough, she accepted my Lab x pup into the home when he was a pup and she's been fantastic with him, but he is extremely laid back and would never challenge her.
She has drawn blood on another dog before and walking her is a nightmare! She pulls, barks and tries to grabs dogs if they come to close to her and only the other day caught an old Labrador by the cheek which understandably distressed the dog. She's a complete Jekyll and Hyde and outside a dog that people avoid, which is a shame as I did everything possible to socialize her.
My question is, can she be changed? A lot of people (behaviourists I've written to on on-line forums) have said that if she has a dominant character she might just be that way inclined. But surely she's not inclined to kill every dog she meets? By reading her body language I wouldn't say she's fearful but I'm no expert. Can anyone please advise me on anything they think may be helpful.
Louise Nichol

Over to you!

How much is your vet charging for prescriptions?

One of our readers has just told us that her vet has just started charging her a whopping £10 plus VAT for writing out prescriptions for her rescued Great Dane which has heart problems.
We'd be interested to hear how much your vet is intending to charge you?
For the last three years vets have been able to give clients prescriptions to get their drugs elsewhere they have not been allowed to charge for this service. But since the beginning of the month vets can now charge an admin or "medical determination fee" for writing out a prescription.
Our reader phoned the office of fair trading who told her to shop around and she phoned all the vets in her area to see what their admin fees were. Her vet was the highest, there were a few at £6 plus VAT and one very near that is only £2.50 including VAT. She said it would
be interesting to see and compare what people are paying around the country. She is in South Devon.
Many people are still not aware that they don't have to buy their medication from their vet surgery and can buy online at half the price.
So how does your vet rate? What are they charging?
Can you post where you live (by county) and the cost and whether it includes VAT.

Monday, 17 November 2008

In need of a bone-us?

I have a diet question and am hoping you can help. I own four dogs from one year to seven years old. All are very active. Some of them have food allergies and after years of trying to find a natural food that they will eat, I have decided to try a raw diet, of sorts. They have a third of their daily food in the morning which consists of either puffed rice or a wholemeal mixer with manuka honey and live yoghurt. Then, the rest in the evening is meat and supplements, most of which are by Dorwest Herbs and recommended for natural feeding. Below, is their diet sheet showing the rough amounts that are altered for each dog:

1oz-2lb body weight daily
Ruby 6kg = 13lbs = 6.5oz total daily
Barney 9kg = 19.5lbs = 9.75oz total daily
Pearl 27kg = 59.5lbs = 29.75oz total daily
Jasper 27kg = 59.5lbs = 29.75oz total daily

Ruby 60g dry & 122g meat
Barney 91g dry & 182g meat
Pearl 277g dry & 556g meat
Jasper 277g dry & 556g meat
Total: 705gm dry, 1,416g meat daily

Mon: Fish, Tue: Lamb, Wed: Banquet nuggets, Thur: Tripe, Fri: Beef, Sat: Chicken,
Sun: Offal

Supplements: Plaque Off, Easy Green, Keepers Mix, Tree Barks Powder, Cod Liver Oil in the Winter, Garlic Granules, Wheat Germ Oil in the Summer and Glucosamine & Chondroitin (not Ruby).

The meat is all from Natures Menu frozen range. They have natural treats and chews to exercise their teeth and gums with the added Plaque Off. I really don’t want to add bones to the diet and was wondering if maybe a bone-meal supplement would be needed? They also have a small amount of the Natures Menu fruit and veg frozen nuggets added to their meat.
Mrs Sam Gallie

Can anyone steer Sam in the right direction? Any comments about this diet?

New problems will be added shortly. If you have a question you'd like answered please email it to me on and put "Dogs Today Think Tank" in the subject line so I don't lose it. If you find it difficult to post your replies to a current question you can email your response to me instead and I'll post it for you.

Rocky and Rambo on the rampage


I have had three behaviourists advise three different things about my dogs. One even said to put them on sleeping pills during the day!
I have two boys. Rocky is six and Rambo is five. I've had them both since they were 12 weeks old. I had a few problems with chewing but over come that and I think them being neutered helped. Over the last few months they have trashed my house each day when I leave them, whether for a few minutes or hours. Nothing has changed. We have the same routine as ever. No change of food either. I took them to the vet and they are in good health. I have to lock them in my kitchen and barricade the door so they can’t enter the main house or go upstairs. They have cost me over £3,000 in replacement carpets, walls, sofas…you name it, we've replaced it. I bought a Staff cage but they broke out and cut themselves - (they were okay, I took them to the vet).
I tried another cage but again they broke out of that.
Can you suggest anything that can help me and my boys?
They are so loving and great with people & kids. I love them so much, so why do they hate me?
Mrs Tania Day

Some more info from Tania:
I asked Tania some more questions after the first comment requesting more details . I asked if her neighbours say her dogs bark much while she's out - I guess I wondered if they did bark someone might be winding them up by shouting at them to be quiet. I asked how long they are left, what they are like when she returns and what the three behaviourists had said. If you want to know more, please do post a comment.

Dear Beverley
No they do not bark at all. Not sure if they enjoy wrecking as I'm not there to see, but when I get home the are very sheepish and go into a corner - as if they know they have done wrong,
I don't smack them at all , once I said "Who did that?" and they both wet themselves.
I have now employed a dog walker, so I take them at 0600hrs for 30 mins, she comes in during the day for 1 hour, then I take them again at night. This has helped, in the fact they are not chewing the walls anymore, but now they chew the kitchen chairs and are scratching the flooring, looks like a war zone. I paid over £400 for an iron gate to stop them from getting into the living area which works.
One behaviourist said a plug in spray would help - the smell reminds them of their mother!
Another said something on the lines of Prozac for dogs - which is a no no. Another said don't leave them alone - hence dog walker and my elderly neighbour who goes in four or five times a day to let them out and play. When someone is with them it's like butter would not melt... left alone they are devil dogs from hell
They continue to chew. I spoke to a Kennel they want over £110 per week to have them 0800-1800 these days that a lot of money .
I am still at my wits end - any help will be great.

I have to say I'm getting involved now and can't help asking more questions myself - here's my latest email to Tania who is having trouble getting on this site - she says it comes up in German. Has this happened to anyone else?

Hi Tania
Do the two dogs play together – I have two dogs also a year apart in age and they play together all the time, like pups. Could chewing have become a communal game – and could you replace it with one which is even more rewarding?
What is their relationship like – is one in charge or not? What are they like with other dogs and other people? Are they always confident or are they ever fearful?
When you are home do they follow you from room to room and even to the loo? If so does one do this more than another?
Have you tried leaving them stuffed Kongs? Chewing something that tastes nice may be more fun that chewing a chair. The neighbour could bring a fresh couple in for example. There is an art in stuffing a Kong – use something to die-for and stinky squashed into the top – for eg bacon or chicken skin, then wedge in bigger biscuits that are hard to get out and then fill up with smaller bits of kibble or treats that will spill out easily without too much effort. You can use cheese, peanut butter, liver cakes - cat food even, you can even use tasty liquids and freeze them, so the dog has to lick them for hours to get the treats out.
You can also get a device that releases a new stuffed Kong every hour or so on a timer – although with two dogs you might find you have to separate them if they are going to be competitive over food.
Do they behave well at night – do they sleep in the kitchen? Do you leave on some background noise when you are out, a TV etc so it feels like you are home even if you’re not.
Do the dogs ever lose their housetraining when left?
Are they exercised off leash – do they ever get tired by exercise or are they always still raring to go when you get home?
What do you feed them? Have you tried changing the diet at all? Are they fed once a day or more?
Sorry to ask so many questions!

Hi Beverley
They are so close, always together. Rambo is the leader, they eat together. All the years I have had them they have never had a fight.
They are great with people and children. Rocky is ok with other dogs really, he just ignores them. Rambo will ignore them to until they come over to him or Rocky or me, then he lets them know to go away. He has never bitten anyone or a dog, we walk at night with another dog
but we walk behind, after a few minutes he is fine. They are always confident unless they have done wrong then they cower down.
Yes when I am home they follow me everywhere loo, bath etc. Rambo is the one who will come with me, then minutes later Rocky will be there not sure if he follows Rambo or me.
Each day I stuff Kongs with treats, cream cheese bacon ham chicken, Neither of them are foodies, they have one each.
Rocky will chew on a treat, Rambo you have to break up small or he will leave it, he will not have a bone, where as Rocky will.
Rambo likes small bite size things where Rocky will chew for hours if I let him - he swallows big chunks, then I have to help him get it unstuck from his throat so I don't leave him alone when he has one. They are not competitive for food If Rocky has something he will either take it to Rambo or if Rambo wants it he will just walk away.
They are so good when I'm home, they sleep in my bedroom on a massive pillow I cant trust them alone downstairs. During the day I leave a the radio on, not too loud. They are clean dogs, no mess from them while left alone, only when they have had a upset tummy which cant be helped. Yes they do exercise of lead when we go to the park, when they get home they
go to the loo in the garden , then water then sleep for a while.
Food was a big issue they will only eat a handful of dry food. I have to pick out the green and yellow pieces - they have half dog food in jelly only not gravy with a pack of fresh liver or kidney or hearts that's at night. For breakfast, dry food and dog food. This is the only food they will eat, they were on fresh tripe but they got to big and over weight (they vet said).
I have to get a new floor in the kitchen, they are down to concrete now
Thanks for your help and suggestions.

Okay - folks lots more information now! Any food experts out there? Could the protein levels be too high? Itching to pitch in, but there are people with a lot more behaviour knowledge than me who could make some suggestions. But I'm thinking these are two very attached dogs...

More info:
Hi Beverley
Just seen a few comments
Video footage is my next option but I have to get a camera may take a little time though.
Yes my dog walker is CRB checked and I have a copy of her certificate. I have her home address and I popped round unannounced!
Not sure about going down the route of a behaviourist again, how can they help when they only trash when they are on there own.
If it is a case of "just playing" how can I stop this? They have a box of toys which they have during the day, and only a few of them at night.
I have tried not to be so loving and distance myself from them a little bit but its hard we all need love and affection

Hi Tania
It is tricky sorting these probs – but it may be that you’ve not yet found the right behaviorist. Where are you based?
There are so many people calling themselves experts, it’s hard to spot the good from the bad and even the bad usually mean well!
You have shown considerable dedication in trying to solve these problems already. That’s half the battle - not giving up.
As to becoming less loving – don’t think that’s the key. It just maybe the boys are hooked on attention and even being bad puts them in the centre of things.
My instincts are they are enjoying being destructive and it may need channelling and being used as a reward.
It may be you get loads of cardboard boxes for them to trash as a reward, maybe a digging pit outside to get those urges out of their system.
I do think you probably need to look at the diet, there’s a lot of protein going on and that can influence behavior. There were some studies on some dogs that were only fed fresh meat and they changed so much when a more balanced diet was introduced. What were they like on tripe? Any different?
I have a feeling on a healthy lower protein diet these dogs could calm right down. You know how food can affects kids' behaviour, it’s more intense in dogs as we make all their decisions for them.
Fingers crossed we can find someone to help sort this

Hi Beverley
I am based in Langley - Berkshire, Nr Slough & Windsor
How many more behaviourists do I need to pay before I find the right one, money should not be a issue when it comes to my dogs but they have cost me hundreds of pounds believe me.
They won't touch cardboard boxes even if I play with them and try to make them chew them they won't chew in front of me at all. I have a large back garden they can dig if they want, but they don't like getting wet or dirty. If it rains outside they won't go out for a walk I have to pull them out even the dog walker comments if it's wet out they don't want to walk but want to go home. When they are in the garden, I shut them out to go to the loo the scratch the door to come back in. I think I will put them back on tripe, they loved it but got big and the vet said they were overweight but they did not behave like this.
Sometimes my emails sound negative, but I've tried loads of things. I will keep trying anything as I am sure they are not happy by the look on their faces when they have been bad.

I was not at work for 3 days then we had weekend off. My dogs we really good, on Friday I had workmen round to tile the floor in the kitchen.
On Saturday I went out for three hours and my husband took them out for a
walk for over a hour. They were shattered when they came back. We left them for 1 hour 20
mins came home to utter chaos they had chewed all the boxing-in work I had done, ripped off a
metal corner edge, chewed a hole in plaster board. Blood every where but I could not see where the blood came from - I checked them both.

We have now had no choice but to put them into a large cupboard, it's like a larder cupboard over the stairs. With a gate so they can see out. It is a large space I can walk into it
then it slopes down. It sounds bad, but we have no other choice if we want to keep them and I do. But we can not go on like this. I am so upset, yesterday all day they slept, so why can't they do that when we are not there?

Every week they cost us money, sometimes just a few pounds, replacing rugs or mats things like that I don't mind really but it is getting to much, I dread going home at times.

I am upset that they are unhappy.

I have more picture of the damage if you want them.


Dogs Today Think Tank behaviourist Amy Hatcher has been to see Tania, Rocky and Rambo.
Here's an update.

Dear Beverley
Happy new year to you, things are going okay, I have been off work for two weeks so I have had time to spend with them and put into practice what Amy has told us to do.
Sometimes they are good, but still when we leave them Rambo does chew a little we still have not left them out to have to run of the house as Rambo pulled all the cushions of the sofa when I left him for 10 mins only.
Amy suggested putting tin foil on the sofa's which would stop them from jumping on them, I did this but came downstairs to find them curled up and asleep on the foil!
I have photos for Amy of this which I will get to her soon.
They do seem a lot more mellow this is a change of food I think, they still play as normal, but must admit they have calmed down
Today is the first time they will be left a full day in four weeks as I am at work and my husband is away until this weekend, so this week will tell.
All in all I think the change of food has made a difference, but like I said I don't think I can keep them out have the run of the house yet - which is our goal.
I will keep you informed
Thank you & Regards

Might be Fox mite... might not

Can you help me with the problem I have with my dog George. He is an 8-and-a-half-year-old Airedale. About two months ago he started scratching his front legs and badly biting his paws. As he would not go into the car, I sought help from the internet. I purchased products called Stop It All and ear drops. As this did not clear the problem I had to get my passenger seat taken out so that I could get George to go in the car. I took him to the PDSA and asked the vet if it was fox mite which she said it wasn’t and cleared his anal glands instead and gave antibiotics. After one week he had bad diarrhea and I had to stop the antibiotics and take him back to the vet. His anal glands were emptied again and different antibiotics and steroids were prescribed. On the third visit his glands were okay but he was still scratching and biting. I asked if his ears could be checked as he was rubbing them a lot. On doing this the vet said that he was suffering from fox mite. She applied a pipette to the back of his neck and I am to take him back in four weeks if the matter has not cleared. The vet said he will have to be bathed, like a sheep dip. I am very worried about this. Is there any alternative? As he has suffered for the past two months I have been advised to give him Protexin to boost his immune system. Can you please give me any advice on this problem.
Mrs L Clowes

Any idea for Mrs Clowes? What a very understanding owner taking her car apart!

I am glad you took George to be examined by a vet, even if it meant removing the passenger seat from your car! Fox mite, or sarcoptic mange, can be hard to diagnose because it simply causes areas of skin irritation, classically on the ear flaps, elbows and hocks. These patches of skin are incredibly itchy – rubbing an affected ear flap will provoke kicking with a back foot in an attempt to reach the itchy skin!
A definitive diagnosis needs identification of the mite in a scraping taken from a suspect area of skin, but more often than not no mites are seen. A diagnosis is then reached through exclusion – eliminating bacterial infection with an appropriate antibiotic, and allergy through steroid treatment, leaving specific treatment for sarcoptic mange, which is what your vet has done.
If the itching all stops and the skin heals up after the spot-on, then sarcoptic mange is the diagnosis. A second treatment a month after the first is often recommended, depending on the spot-on preparation used. I know you say that your vet wants you to go back if it has not gone away, but if it does clear up I would ring to check that a follow-up spot-on treatment is not needed.
I really hope that the spot-on treatment has worked. If not, then a dog biting at his paws and rubbing at his ears does sound as if he is reacting to something, although signs of allergies generally become apparent from a young age. Have you used a carpet cleaning solution recently? Returning him to your vet for further examination would be sensible because it is distressing for him to be itchy, and for you to see him in discomfort – I do hope you have not replaced that passenger seat yet!

Alison Logan, Vet

Naturally repellant

I am keen to find a natural supplement to give to my two Border Collies to help repel fleas and ticks. I have recently bought CSJ Billy No Mates which is great but one of my dogs will not eat it as it has Mint in. The smell puts him off totally. I have heard that Neem is very good, but I am finding it difficult to find out the best way to safely administer it. I also give my dogs other supplements, for example; G-Paws for joints and Beau Oil for coat and skin. I've even considered baking my own dog biscuits and adding Billy No Mates that way but I am unsure whether the cooking will devalue the strength of the supplement? Please can you advise on anything suitable for this problem.

Gosh - I must look up Billy No Mates, never seen that product before! Any one got any hints for Emma?

Two out of four cats getting bullied!

Roxy: Guilty of cat crimes

I have a one-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Roxy. She is a lovely friendly dog but she has started to bully our two cats. She barks at them and chases them every time she sees them and when she starts to bark at them my other three dogs start to bark too. But as soon as I take Roxy away the others stop barking. It isn’t fair on my two cats as they have to stay in one room. I do have two additional cats but Roxy doesn’t bully them because they are quite confident cats whereas the other two aren’t. I would love any suggestions to get the problem sorted so we can be one happy family.

Any advice please?

Monday, 3 November 2008

Problem number two!

I am hoping you can inform me as to what is the exact legal situation regarding the following.
Adjacent to one of the walks that myself and other dog walkers in the village use is land that belongs to a property where two Mastiffs and a Rottweiler live. These dogs are constantly loose and roaming over their owners land - which is only enclosed by post and rail fencing - and also over the land that the public footpaths are on. This has resulted in us dog walkers turning back and retracing our steps, which when you have an elderly dog such as mine, means a much too long walk. So far none of the dogs have made any attempt to attack us, though it appears that we have seen them before they have seen us so avoided the situation. We do not know if they are aggressive but three large dogs together are very intimidating.
This has been going on for a number of months and number of us have contacted the dog warden - who said they are always receiving calls about the dogs roaming - at the local council who has said if they are on their own land then the owners could construe it as harassment if the warden asks them to keep the dogs in.
Surely these people are obliged to keep the dogs under control as much as I and my fellow dog walkers are, and by letting them roam on land that is not securely fenced then they are not doing so.
I read with interest the True Case History in the October issue of Dogs Today regarding the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act and that if a person feels threatened by a dog in a public place even if the dog does not actually do anything then it is a matter for the police.
Is it possible for you to clarify this as on going on to the web site and reading the DDA it does not make it very clear. These dogs are spoiling the walks which are surely there for all to enjoy.
Hoping you can help in this very awkward situation.
Doreen Hoyle, by email

If you have a helpful advice for Doreen please do post a comment. A selection of the best replies will feature in a future magazine.

A new problem will be added shortly! If you have a question you'd like answered please email it to me on and put "Dogs Today Think Tank" in the subject line so I don't lose it. If you find it difficult to post your replies to a current question you can email your response to me instead and I'll post it for you.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Any suggestions?

I wonder if you can help, my friend’s 22month old German Shepherd called Cairo has recently been diagnosed with allergies to beef, pork, wheat, gluten and dairy products. Getting alternative food for him was not a problem but we cannot seem to find anything that he can actually chew! He can still be a bit destructive if being left but loves a rawhide chew bone which keeps him occupied for ages obviously he cannot get these anymore. We have tried him with a Kong but he looses interest in this very quickly. Do you know of anything similar that he could get?
Sheena Dickie, by email

If you have a helpful suggestion for Sheena's friend to try please do post a comment. A selection of the best replies will feature in a future magazine.

Just had this email:
Re. Sheena Dickie's note to you about alternative chews for Cairo the
German Shepherd with alergies, I am Cairo's Mum. I wanted to post a
thank you to everyone for their suggestions, but was unable to do so.
If you would pass this on for me I would be grateful. I am going to
give the ostrich chews a try. Fingers crossed!!!

Margaret & Cairo

A new problem will be added shortly! If you have a question you'd like answered please email it to me on and put "Dogs Today Think Tank" in the subject line so I don't lose it. If you find it difficult to post your replies to a current question you can email your response to me instead and I'll post it for you.