May issue

May issue
May issue

Monday, 26 April 2010

Why do dogs want to smell like Fox poo?

I live near the countryside in Worcestershire and my two year old Border Collie, Max, is always rolling in fox poo when I take him for walks. I can't seem to stop him doing this but how can I keep him clean and how do I get rid of the dreadful fox poo pong that seems to permanently cling to him?  Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks, Jaldi

It was once explained to me that this behaviour shows the dog going back to its roots. Apparently, to be a successful hunter a dog needed to be able to sneak up on its prey, and that's why they have the urge to roll in fox poo, dead fish, anything pungent that we find disgusting really! 
The poor little nervous bunny would sniff the air and think, "can't smell any predators so I can eat a bit more grass." The last thing that probably goes through the rabbit's mind is, "there's a really bad smell of fox poo that seems to be getting stronger, but a bit of poo won't hurt me!"
It can also be that to a dog's nose fox poo smells so very much better than dog shampoo! A dog's sense of smell is about a million times better than ours and it may be your dog is simply saying that stuff you wash him in smells really vile to him and it gives him a headache! A bit like standing next to someone on the Tube who has overdone the cheap scent.
To a dog's nose, fox poo must smell like Coco Chanel Mademoiselle does to us! 
But how do you stop the dog doing this every time you wash him? Or how do you repair the damage afterwards?
I've heard that tomato ketchup or concentrated tomatoes does the trick, but haven't tried it myself. 
Anyone given it a go? Anyone broken their dog from an obsession with Eau de le fox merde?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor 

Puppy Love 7 - what to do with poo and other wee problems!

Day seven of our advice for prospective puppy owners. What to do with poo? No I'm not talking about using it creatively as an entry for the Turner prize, mailing it to people you don't like or making it into a hat.
What is the law, can you put poo in your bin? If so which one - refuse, recycling or food waste (ugh!). Or do you flush it down the loo?
There are some other solutions but if you've just got the one dog, which is the best?
Has anyone tried those clever nappy disposal systems for eg?
Which poo bags are the best and why?
What are the must have accessories so you can avoid the embarrassment of putting a bag of poo in your Chanel handbag.
And if you are very into gardening - how do you train your dog to toilet in one specific area?
And how do you avoid wee burns on the lawn?
And come to think of it, what about products to clean up the house if your dog has an accident? And once a dog has wee'd somewhere they tend to go back to the same spot - what can you do to break the cycle? Someone told me to use a bio clothes washing product so you really do get rid of the smell as dogs can still detect the scent mark long after we can't - but that advice was a few years ago. Anything better been invented since?
And I guess the best plan is errorless housetraining - see the magnificent Dr Ian Dunbar's advice on how to achieve that in our Perfect Pup guide and also in his wonderful book What to do Before you Get Your Pup available as a free download  on Dog Star Daily here.
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Gail Gwesyn-Pryce, Dogs Today GSD Advisor, says...
My chickens seem to sort out the poo that is on the grass - I don't have a lawn. I found lawns and large dogs don't mix, especially in the winter! Other areas I bag it and bin it with the small amount I put out to be collected. I recycle everything else. I wish someone would invent a dog poo recycling plant - I think they would make a fortune! Dog poo should be firm, dark and odourless if the dog is being fed correctly, and one pile per meal fed. I found some really good bio-degradable bags from the Guide Dogs Catalogue.
If you wish your dog not to use your lawn then make a toilet area - a little boxed off area filled with bark chippings - if this is the first place you take the puppy to when you arrive hom from the breeders and he uses it the the chances are that he will continue to go to the same spot. You could also try putting a toilet training pad just under the surface.
And yes, the biological washing powder to clean any accidents still works a treat and put vinegar in the last rinsing water, but make sure it is dry before allowing access to that area again.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Puppy Love 6 -Training

In the latest of our series of advising Liz our ad sales lady of everything she needs to do before he gets her GSD pup, what methodology for training should she follow?
What should she look for in a good puppy training class? Ideal class size? Age of pups? What qualifications/affiliations should the trainer have?
And how many weeks should the course be for? How early can you start and what should you be doing before the class begins?
And what are your view on socialisation before the vaccines kick in?
Anyone found any good puppy slings or other devices to make socialisation easier before you can let the little darling potter about?
What the ideal first thing to wear - a traditional collar or a harness or even a head collar?
Any suggestions welcomed, best ideas will be used in the magazine.

Dog training – some of my best memories of growing up. I was brought up with Pedro, a tricolour collie cross. In his twilight weeks, as he approached his fourteenth birthday, Skip joined us as an eight-week-old puppy and gave Pedro a new lease of life. After Pedro passed away, it seemed so unfair for Skip to be on his own that we found Nan, my first dog. Both Skip and Nan were border collies and therefore had brains which needed work, so we joined a local dog training club.
Soon the bug had bitten and we found ourselves joining the obedience dog show circuit. Pressures of work and bringing up a family have meant that I no longer actively participate in dog obedience. Dog training does not, however, have to mean such a high input, and that it is where ‘lower key’ dog training classes are invaluable. I think it is so important for everyone, human and canine, to share a language and to know the ground rules, so that life runs smoothly.
The important age for socialising a puppy is quoted variously as 6-12 weeks and 7-14 weeks. It is certainly important for a puppy to experience as much as possible in the early formative weeks of his or her life, and to ensure that they are positive experiences which will lay the foundation for a happy life. The practice where I work is not alone in offering puppy classes. Ours are a three week course for puppies under the age of fourteen weeks who have had at least one vaccination. They are run by two qualified veterinary nurses and a dog trainer.
Puppies really enjoy themselves! This is particularly evident from their response when they come into the practice for a different reason other than for the puppy class – they bound in, tails wagging and looking for the fun to start! It makes life so much easier and enjoyable for us vets when our patients enjoy coming to see us!
One regular feature of the puppy class is being weighed on the floor scales. So many adult dogs refuse to stand on the platform which feels unsteady, so an early and pleasant introduction to the floor scales is very important. Again, it makes life much easier and less stressful for all concerned (and takes up less time) when your canine patient willingly steps onto the platform to be weighed.
All members of the family are invited along with their puppy and everyone seems to enjoy themselves. I find it so interesting to see how the puppies progress even within the space of one class, the shy one coming out of its shell, the bold hooligan being put in his place. It is not unusual to find puppies crashed out after all the activity and stimulation.
A puppy class is also a chance for the owners to ask questions, which may well help other owners with similar problems or queries. If mistakes can be avoided at this early age, then problems in later life may never arise.
There is so much for a puppy to learn in his new home, but there is so much more in the great outside world. Puppy classes are a very useful way to start experiencing all that in a pleasant and controlled manner, whilst affording the human family support and encouragement.
Of course, your puppy is learning all the time so joining a class for older puppies is the natural step in his development after a puppy course. The adolescent stage can be challenging so, again, this is where training classes can help both the canine teenager and the human family, so to speak.
Alison Logan, vet

Katrina Stevens, Kesyra German Shepherds, says...
I would suggest going along to watch the class without the pup first, so that the owner can feel happy that the pup will receive only good experiences from it. It's too late if you go to a class and something untoward happens, such as another dog having a go at the pup, which could upset the new pup indefinitely. The training should be reward based and the class should involve some free play for the pups, but this must be supervised and care must be taken that any sensitive pups are not bullied by older, bigger or generally more dominant pups.
I would say a class of around six pups would be ideal and they should be as young as possible and ideally all around the same age and size. I usually advise my owners to go to an APDT approved class that also works towards the KC good citizens tests, as this gives the new owner incentive to work towards something.
I advise owners to take their pups out from the start. They can take the pup out in the car and carry him into some shops. They can visit friends' houses or the local pub or sit with him on a bench, so that he can watch traffic or children go by. The experiences must be pleasurable and it is ideal to have a few titbits handy to reward good behaviour. I give my pups homeopathic nosodes from four weeks and then a supply to my new owners, as I am not a believer in vaccinating too early. (This is due to three very bad experiences, but this is another story!). I am of the opinion that it is fine for the pup to be taken out to 'safe' places before the vaccinations. I take my pups to the end of my lane to see the traffic and school children. I don't let them sniff the grass verges, but they do walk on the pavement...after all I walk on that same pavement and I don't disinfect my shoes when I come back home! Equally, the foxes that frequent most gardens also go in the local park where other dogs go, so I really think that it is a matter of common sense.

Dorothy Cullum, GSD Information Group, says...
I always advise to go to a breed club that knows the breed you have purchased. i.e. British Association for the GSD (BAGSD) to get your nearest training class.
Training starts from day one, NOT at six months when problems have set in. Then when vaccines have been given and kicked in one can sit at the gate to watch traffic etc and socialise with people at the office and park etc BUT do not WALK the dog into the ground. It is growing and is not a marathon runner.
Meet other dogs and get your pup to classes especially when as the club mentioned does the Good Citizens Scheme. Puppy - Bronze- Silver and Gold schemes, fun for both dog and handler.

Gail Gwesyn-Pryce, Dogs Today GSD Advisor, says...
The most important thing to get before your GSD puppy arrives would be Joye Ixer's excellent book on the breed. She has just updated it and if you email her on I am sure she will be able to supply you with a copy. Also make sure you have an indoor kennel, your freezer full of food (if you wish to feed your puppy correctly) and lots of common sense! Very importantly get your name on the waiting list for puppy classes and start as soon as possible.
I no longer vaccinate my dogs conventionally and would expect to be able to take my puppy socialising at seven weeks. Obviously as a dog trainer, I am training him/her at home from that age when they are at their most receptive (7-12 weeks) but certainly training should have started well before the four-and-a-half month period which is when bad habits will start to creep in. With a breed as intelligent as the GSD early training is a must and continued training a necessity to keep their brains exercised. They are not a breed just to be kept as a pet, they need a job of work to do - all mine do working trials. Go and visit some classes and look for a calm atmosphere with a small number of puppies (six if no assistant, eight maximum with). APDT have a list of trainers advocating kind training but there will be others. As a general rule I would want to see that the instructor has trained their own dog to a high (competition) standard if they are to instruct me in basics.
An ordinary buckle on collar and long lead is all you should ever need unless YOU teach your dog to pull. Dogs are not born pulling on the lead, it is something that owners teach them the first time they attach their lead to the collar. I get a lot of clients coming to me with this problem and we then have to use control measure to help with this - I advocate the Gentle Leader - but better still learn how to handle a lead the correct way from day one and you won't need anything else.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Puppy Love 5 - get me back home

Today in our new Puppy Love series we're looking at ID and getting your dog back generally if they go walk about. The best tags - the cutest, the most stylish, the longest lasting and most endurable for active dogs who like to go through hedges and through water, clever devices to stop them making a noise when your dog drinks/eats and clinks against the bowl.
Plus any other ideas and gadgets for helping you feel really secure that you stand the best possible chance of getting your dog back if it's lost.
What would you recommend Liz our ad sales lady buys for her new pup?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

A dog disc, or collar with identification details engraved or written on it, is not only important but a legal part of dog ownership, so it needs considering and sorting out ready for that first foray outside. In fact, it is something we as dog-owners have to be mindful at all times.
For example, we moved house in November, so high on my list of priorities was a new dog disc for Pippin with our new address details. This became a chance to brush up my knowledge on current requirements for the information needed on a dog’s disc. The Control Of Dogs Order 1992 requires your dog to wear a collar with the following information engraved or written directly onto it or bearing; a disc engraved with your name and your address including postcode.
Interestingly, it is optional to include a contact telephone number! Not only does Pippin’s disc have our home number but also my work number which, for me, is the veterinary practice where I work and therefore ensures contact with someone around-the-clock wherever I might otherwise be.
I am often remarking to people that I think it might not be a good idea to include your dog’s name because this will reassure your dog that the stranger talking to him is a friend. By law, your dog’s name is not a requirement.
Pippin’s disc also has ‘I have been microchipped – scan me’. She does wear a separate disc with a similar message, in case she should lose her legal disc whilst lost but, in theory at least, any dog picked up without an owner should be scanned for a microchip if identification information is not otherwise available.
A disc meets legal requirements but, practically, is only going to act as identification whilst it is both on the collar and legible.
Dog discs used to be simply circular but now come in all shapes and colours up to the most fancy. The Internet has, needless to say, widened the choice. After years of going to a local trophy shop, I ordered Pippin’s disc from a web-site and it arrived the very next day – no return trip needed to collect it from the shop. I did, however, have guilty feelings about not supporting a local business but, as you may have experienced, time is at a premium when moving house!
I do think that it is a good idea to go for deep engraving, whether on a collar or disc, because this will last longer. I found a dog in our lane once, but could not contact his owners because his disc was so worn that it could not be read. The barrel he was also wearing on his collar had come undone and the piece of paper inside with his owner’s contact details had, at some point, fallen out (which is probably why this form of identification is not mentioned in the legislation). The split ring carrying the disc is also a weak point – it will readily wear through with the constant swinging of the disc. I have also known the hole in the disc to wear through so that the disc drops off the ring! It is therefore important to regularly check on the state of your dog’s disc and/or ID information on his collar. It is not yet a requirement for dogs to be microchipped. This is a totally different form of identification with its own advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that the chip cannot be lost like a collar or disc. Disadvantages are that the chip can migrate or malfunction, and it cannot be instantly read like the information carried on a disc or collar, needing a scanner to reveal the chip’s number before ringing the central registry. The final pitfall is that all your information registered against your dog’s microchip must, obviously, be kept up-to-date or else it will not be possible to contact you.
Alison Logan, vet

As no one has yet mentioned the excellent Indigo collars I'm obviously going to have to! They don't advertise with us (grrr), so this is a completely altruistic gesture on my behalf - but Indigo please do start telling pet people about what you do!!! The agility world know and love these tags, but they'd be just as great for pet people, too!
They make a really robust engraved tag that threads onto a collar so that it is never going to fall off when your dogs repeatedly jumps through hedges! I used to get so fed up buying new tags for Tess as she was always pulling them off and going around looking like an unloved stray. (Plus they don't tinkle against your dog's bowl when he eats!)
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Friday, 23 April 2010

Has anyone invented solar powered air con yet?

Is there anything out there to keep my car cool while we are stopped? This does not mean I want to leave them in the car routinely, but there are unexpected situations when you need to - for example if you're stuck in a traffic jam on a hot day or even just a way of keeping the car cool so when we get back at the end of a walk it's not boiling hot. Maybe an air condition unit which is solar powered? Does such a thing exist? What do the police vans use as there must be times when their dogs have to remain in the vans?
Beate Rothon

Puppy Love 4 - we're toying with you!

If you are only just catching up with this, our lovely ad sales lady Liz is soon to take delivery of a gorgeous GSD pup which will be coming to work with her. I'll have to have a word with Tess and warn her that this pup will grow up to be quite a bit bigger than her!
We'd really like some suggestions for the best toys  that will hopefully look much more appealing than our computer cables etc!
One office dog (who shall remain nameless) did once eat a desk! Honestly, it was only when it fell apart we'd realised what had been going on!
So what would be your must buy list for a gorgeous puppy shower? Wouldn't that be a great tradition to start for new puppy owners - a party were peoplebring the new pup to be gifts!
If you're a Kong fan - what's the best puppy stuffing recipe and how many do you need? (Think I could have phrased that better! Although I suspect we've all felt like swapping out little bundles of fluff for the stuffed toy variety when they've chewed the kid's school shoes!)
And is there anything new and exciting that should be the pup that has everything's toy cupboard?
Please do share your tips and check back over the first four puppy questions on here and add your best tips. This could be a great resource to really help new owners prepare properly.
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Congratulations on your new puppy! You are about to embark upon a fabulous journey, and no one can blame you for wanting to buy lots of shiny new things for the new arrival.  The first few days with a puppy can be a bit stressful, so it does help to have all the supplies you need to hand.
Sadly, many puppy toy shopping lists are created by pet accessory companies (or indeed by pet shops!) and are designed to make you spend as much of your hard earned cash as possible.
This one is different. It’s designed to make sure that you get all the important things that you need while saving you money at the same time.
Ready? Set? Let’s buy some toys!
The top toys we recommend to every new puppy person are:
  • A Kong (for crate time, and “brain training” time),
  • A Nylabone (for safe chewing and general play)
  • One soft toy (for cuddles)
  • One “Ragger” rope toy or similar (for chewing, or learning to retrieve)
Four toys might sound a bit mean, but by giving your puppy lots of things, you are actually making it harder for him to distinguish what items you want him to play with (YAH KONG!) and those you don’t (YAH REMOTE CONTROL!).  You also don’t know what your puppy would “like” to play with yet, so by giving him just a few things you will get to know his likes and dislikes much quicker than by bombarding him with stuff he couldn’t care less about.

For example, my James HATES Nylabones with a passion– he really doesn’t see the point.  But loves his Kong, so if I have to leave him I give him his Kong as I know that will keep him busy.  If I left him with a Nylabone, then chances are it would be a case of “bye bye Mr. Sofa”.

A few other things to consider when selecting toys.
  • Make sure they are the right shape and size for your puppy, with the rule of thumb being if you think it’s too big, it’s probably the right size (within reason!).
  • Check that all the stitching is secure and won’t easily come away.  There are literally hundreds of types of toys out there, and all are of varying quality.  Some of the cheaper rope toys may unravel too quickly, or some types of plastic toys may shred and pose choking hazards.  Keep your wits about you, and watch puppy like a hawk with any new toy.
  • If at all possible, try and avoid squeaky toys as these can encourage puppy to mouth or bite down on objects too hard, making it more difficult to “untrain” this behaviour if directed at humans.
Puppies need toys, but they don’t need their own toy box, nor should toys be used in place of one on one attention.  Remember, the best thing you can give your dog is your time.
Claire Goyer BA(Hons.), HND Canine Nutrition Therapist, The Haslemere Pet Company

Katrina Stevens, Kesyra German Shepherds, says...
I find most pups like a new toy best. They then grow bored with it, so will look to something else for amusement. You don't need to always buy the most expensive toys. My pups just love plastic bottles (tops etc removed). I expect you will have lots of these if you have lots of tea and coffee in an office! It obviously has to be replaced when the pup starts chewing it. Treat balls are also quite a hit and if you are feeding a dry food, it can be taken out of the daily allowance. Cardboard boxes are also very popular. I usually put all the toys in the box, so they can get them all out and once bored with the toys the pup will enjoy setting upon the box!

Dorothy Cullum, GSD Information Group, says...
Toys should have squeakers removed and be of a size which cannot be destroyed. Balls should be too big. Ropes, mock dumbbells and toys which can have a few goodies in to keep pup amused. Kongs are another good purchase.

Gail Gwesyn-Pryce, Dogs Today GSD Advisor, says...
Lots of toys really are not necessary, but we all like them and I think they are really for us not the dog. Puppies are just as happy with a cardboard box to tear up! Large knuckle bone or beef rib are also useful - my food supplier brings me there by the boxful (Albion Meats).

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Can we be accommodated?

I'd like to arrange a holiday with my girlfriend and my three dogs - who don't mix very well! Is there anywhere out there offering accommodation for us and secure kennels for the dogs, where I can walk them every day but they will be well looked after the rest of the time?
The kennels need to be really secure as my three Northern Inuit Dogs have been trained by Houdini, but they do not come indoors as they find the heat uncomfortable and shed an awful lot of hair.
Alternatively maybe there is a kennels in a scenic area where we can find our own lodgings close by? I'm not prepared to vaccinate my dogs, so any suggestions would be gratefully received!
Mick, by telephone

Puppy Love - Insurance

In the third of our daily series on all you need to do BEFORE you get your pup, we're looking at pet insurance. Which policy should you go for?
Liz will be getting a GSD puppy in a few weeks time.
As with some other insurance policies some will calculate on postcode so for those in expensive counties like Surrey it might be better to pick an insurer that doesn't consider address in their quote. Plus some breeds are cheaper to insure than others - is there a GSD friendly policy?
And do you get what you pay for? If it's too much cheaper than another brand is there a catch? And do price comparison sites really work for pet insurance? After all it's not like car insurance - there are many types of pet insurance and some the most limited are really worse than useless.
Where to start? Anyone done this recently? Which policy did you plump for?
And is there a case for just saving a little each month if you can't afford the premiums for the top of the range cover?
What's the difference between a policy giving 12 months of cover for a condition and one giving a limited spend per condition? Which is better? Why?
And is the six weeks free KC insurance given at the time a sale worth having - or are you better starting full insurance ASAP? Is it still the case that the free cover doesn't cover you for death by illness?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

PS Don't forget to read the first two of the burning issues already published and come back tomorrow for the next one!

There is no question that some level of insurance for your pet is better than no insurance at all and the sooner the better.  Finding the right policy for your pup can be confusing with all the different options
available but the important thing is that you opt for the most comprehensive policy that most closely fits your budget, particularly whilst your pet is young and still very much an unknown quantity.
Comparison websites can offer little help in choosing good quality cover as they are based almost solely on cost and as is often the case, the premium you pay will generally give an accurate reflection of the policy you've chosen so if a company offers what appears to be a good policy for very little cost it's unlikely to be the cover you need.  Pet insurance will normally offer either a limit in vet fee cover per year (Lifetime) or per problem (Maximum benefit).  Both cover for ongoing health issues without exclusion at renewal but a limit per year offers the greatest protection long term as over time you are more likely to reach the limit offered by a maximum benefit provider, particularly in the event of a long term, recurring or chronic condition.  Some pet owners choose to put money aside instead of taking out insurance but even if you have managed to save a substantial amount that pot of money could soon be exhausted in the event of even fairly routine veterinary treatment let alone a serious or long term problem leaving you back at square one.  Many puppies go to their new owners with some free cover which can be useful as a buffer between collecting your puppy and deciding on the right full policy but once that decision has been made start the full cover as soon as possible as puppy cover can be very limited and if your pup develops an illness whilst still on the free cover you would then have to onset full cover with the puppy cover provider to ensure future cover for that illness.  In a nutshell, insure your puppy as soon as you can on the policy most appropriate to his and your requirements,  it's simply about making a well informed choice and being comfortable with your decision.
Neil Flint, VIP Insurance

Katrina Stevens, Kesyra German Shepherds, says...
I send my pups off with four weeks free cover from Pet Plan. They give good cover, but are not cheap! I don't personally insure my own dogs, as I have too many, so I prefer to have money put aside. However I do recommend my pet owners to take out insurance, as I think it is worth it for their peace of mind. The Kennel Club insurance for accredited breeders is now for four weeks. They do now cover for death from illness. However, I did notice a clause that there would not be cover for distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo or Lepto if the pup was not vaccinated. I know some breeders vaccinate before the pups go to their new homes, but I believe that the pups need to be a little more mature (say 10 weeks) before receiving their first vaccination, so I will personally be sticking to Pet Plan. I think it is best to shop around and find a company that gives continuous cover, although it must be remembered that most companies will exclude the first 14 days, so it would need to be done as soon as possible if changing companies. I am also quite a fan of companies that accept homeopathic nosodes (Tesco and Direct Line I believe), as I do have concerns over the effects of boosters on the immune system of the dog.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Puppy Love - feeding

Further to yesterday's first puppy blog, let's jump into the lion's den!
What's the best puppy food for a German Shepherd Puppy - a fast-growing medium sized dog. And what if the breeder feeds brand X and you want to feed brand Y how do you transfer the pup over?
And what if you want to feed raw and the breeder doesn't and vice versa!
Come on - tell us what you would do if it was you that was about to get an adorable bundle of GSD!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Dorothy Cullum, GSD Information Group, says...
I feel if the breeder has taken to time to wean a puppy correctly onto food that they have found suits their stock why should the less experienced person add STRESS to the pup's life by changing it? There are more people who are of the opinion they know better who have a puppy who then has tummy problems as a result who contact the GSD Information Group than I have had hot dinners. Please do not even think this way - the vets earn vast amounts of money from a problem caused by human error than anything else. Then starts the tests and the re-establishing of a correct gut.
I am a great believer in giving something sensible to chew. Large chews, bones (42 years and I have never had a problem, but large not silly sizes.) Teeth then come through and it
saves damage to furniture and hands.

Katrina Stevens, Kesyra German Shepherds, says...
I use Arden Grange Junior (Medium Breed), which I mix with Naturediet Puppy. I advise adding Protexin Bio Premium, to boost the pups' immune system in the early days also. I would always advise staying with the food recommended by the breeder for the first month, so long as it suits the pup. If the owner particularly wants to change brands once the pup has settled in, then I would do this gradually over the course of one week ie: Day 1&2 give 3/4 usual diet and 1/4 new; days 3&4 give 1/2 old diet and 1/2 new; days 5&6 give 1/4 old diet and 1/4 new; day 7 change to new diet.

 “What food should I feed my puppy” is probably the most common question I get asked in the shop, and unfortunately, there are no easy answers as the choices range from commercial dry, to BARF and everything in between.
First and foremost I would recommend keeping your puppy on the same diet he has been weaned on for at least two weeks after his arrival. 
Puppy’s go through enormous amounts of stress as they adjust to their new homes, and a change of diet can increase those stress levels to the point where you may end up with a poorly puppy.
Responsible breeders take great care in choosing what food they feed their dogs, but you may wish to change to a different brand for a variety of reasons including cost, availability or on ethical grounds. 
Most breeders will have a “back up list” of foods they also recommend should their first choice not suit, so it may do no harm to discuss your dilemma with the breeder.
If you are still unsure about which brand to chose, or if you want to go down the BARF route, please don’t let anyone bully you into making a decision that you are uncomfortable with. 
Whether it be a pet shop sales person, food brand sales rep, or any other interested party, at the end of the day this is your dog, and the choice remains solely yours to make. So long as you are feeding the best quality food you can find, or implementing a sound BARF/Natural Feeding plan,  I’m a firm believer that guilt trips play no part in canine nutrition.
Perhaps the best advice I can give is for you to write down all the pros and cons that you see with the various feeding options. Then discuss those points with someone who is not aligned to any food company, or holds a specific agenda. 
Once you have done that, (and you feel comfortable that you have answered all your questions) research the variety of brands/ feeding methods within your chosen area and select the best food/method that suits you and your dog.
Bear in mind that not all commercial dog foods are created equal, and there is an enormous difference between the brands you find in the supermarket, and those that are only available in top quality Pet Shops.  
This is also true of commercially available BARF diet meats/bones, and meat sold in supermarkets or at the Butcher’s. Also, please don’t forget to include your Vet in these discussions, as not all of them are prescription diet pushers.
Best of luck, and keep us posted

Claire Goyer BA(Hons.), HND Canine Nutrition Therapist, The Haslemere Pet Company

Feelwell’s have developed a puppy feeding program based on their Probiotic Puppy Treats and their brand new Low GI Complete Puppy Food. None of Feelwell’s products contain any artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and the products are only made with high quality ingredients making them natural, healthy and hypo-allergenic.
The Low GI Food is made with Duck and instead of rice, it contains barley, oats and peas. These foods are lower down the Glycaemic index and therefore the puppy takes longer to digest the food, feels fuller for longer between meals and also releases its energy slowly. Barley is also very gentle on the digestion. In addition the food contains prebiotics to aid digestion.
The Probiotic Puppy Treats can be fed from 6 weeks old and are the ideal training aid for a growing puppy and contain Omega 6 & 3 to aid the puppy’s development. The probiotics help the digestive system to develop and function properly and when fed in conjunction with the food which contains prebiotics they are particularly effective at ensuring that the puppy takes all the nutrients from its food.
All Feelwell’s products are available from their own online shop and are also widely available in Pets at Home and good pet shops across the UK.
Helen Booth, Feelwells MD

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Puppy love

The Dogs Today offices are shortly to hear the pitter patter of little paws! Liz Dixon, our wonderful ad sales person, is about to get a gorgeous German Shepherd Dog puppy.
Now we've all been bending her ear with our advice, but as anyone about to get a pup knows, the choosing all the goodies to buy before you get the dog is often just so thrilling you've got an endless appetite for browsing!
So the first topic we're looking for your input on is...
Safety – enclosing your garden, building a secure run, containing your dog in the house.
Have you found any brilliant national companies that can make your garden dog-proof? Or any DIY solutions for filling in gaps? We've got a pond and twice Oscar fell in as a pup, so sometimes it isn't just your boundaries you need to examine. If you've got too many hazards what will it cost to erect a secure run so your dog can be off lead at home without constant supervision? Or how about an outdoor puppy play pen or temporary fencing? Where do you get yours from? And stair gates? What's the best for little pups so they can't squeeze through.
Also, a little tiny pup can sometimes wriggle under gates. Any temporary devices to get you over the really tiny phase safely?
Any other safety tips generally? How did you puppy-proof your house?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor 

Katrina Stevens, Kesyra German Shepherds, says...
I have 2/3 acre of garden and I have used stock fencing with chicken wire at the bottom to stop small pups getting through, which I buy from the local farm suppliers. Having said that, I wouldn't leave a small pup to his or her own devices in the whole area, as I have a pond and lots of shrubs. I have a grass run fenced as above which is approximately 5 metres x 15 metres with a willow tree for shade. This gives small pups plenty of room to romp and play without constant supervision, but I do have to keep an eye out for them digging! I also have a large puppy pen, 3-4 feet high from Doghealth (K6) on the patio, which is partly shaded and I have bought extra panels so that is large enough for the pups' needs.
My stair gates were from Argos, although for small pups I tend to use the playpens. The ones I have are Crufts Freedom playpens, but Doghealth do a similar one (K700), which I think is a little cheaper.

Dorothy Cullum, GSD Information Group, says...
A puppy will always want to relieve itself after it wakes, when it plays or feeds just like a baby. I always advise that one accompanies the pup to the garden for toilet training, this is how one gets a puppy who continues to be clean to co-operative, this is also a chance for bonding as well.
One has to remember a good breeder has already started this procedure of toilet training with a phrase or word to help with this very important exercise. One can reward with a titbit or play after one has seen it perform. Basic exercises can also be taught and encouraged at this point - getting used to the collar and lead, the basic come and sit. No stress and plenty of fun.
Have a base in each room the pup is allowed into so that he knows where he may find his bed and always have a reward ready for him. It is important to place hands on so the pup is not wary of being touched.
Do not encourage stair climbing this is not advisable for your growing pet. A child gate is a good item to install to prevent this happening.
Most breeders will play a radio in a puppy-pen, continue to do this when you are not present.

Gail Gwesyn-Pryce, Dogs Today GSD Advisor, says...
Dogs really shouldn't be left outside on their own without supervision, always go with your puppy to teach them where and when to relieve themselves, to make sure they don't eat plants that could be poisonous and of course to bond with them. If you are supplying an outside run make sure the mesh is small enough so that a head cannot get stuck.
My house is puppy proofed by never leaving a puppy loose in the house, always using the indoor kennel even if it is just to go to the bathroom! Baby gates are useful initially but my GSD puppies soon learn to get over them, sometimes as early as six weeks - but they are working GSDs with bags of brain! With an indoor kennel it is also possible to housetrain within 24 hours.

Monday, 19 April 2010

How to stop Moxy geting a bit poxy around grass?

I have a small terrier cross called Moxy, who is fine in the winter but in the summer months she comes up in small red spots that she scratches and makes bleed. We think this maybe some form of grass allergy, because if we do just road walking or beach walking they disappear. The moment we go back to woods and fields the sores appear again. We treat them with a natural antiseptic cream but they still cause a lot of irritation and discomfort. I just wondered if there is any natural remedy that would help prevent the sores appearing.
Thank you for you help, Karen and Moxy McMillan

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Is it okay to spray?

I am shortly getting a puppy which is a retriever breed and often used as a gundog. I was quite shocked to hear that many gundogs are trained using spray collars. Not only that, but many owners of this breed feel the need to use spray collars to get a good recall.
After all I have learned regarding behaviour, I don't think I'd feel comfortable using one with my dog. Are these collars really necessary and are they frequently used?
Tony Cruse, by email

Monday, 12 April 2010

On the ball?

Can anybody help us find a ball like a football that re-inflates itself the more times it gets punctured? We bought one from crufts a few years ago and it was the best thing we bought for our Bearded Collie x Lurcher who is now 13yrs old but loves to chase her football round the field. Unfortunately she has now torn a hole in it and we have been unsuccessful in finding another one for her as we can't remember the name of the stall where we got it from. We would be very grateful for any suggestions as to where we may find one. Thank you.
Stacy Thomas

Wow, a ball that reinflates! We'd like to find that! Anyone got any ideas who makes it? Anyone else got any indestructible toys they'd like to recommend?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Stamp duty

Do you know of any doggie charities collecting used stamps to raise funds? I have a huge pile and would like to donate them to a worthwhile cause.
Mrs Akers, by phone

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Could my dog have hay fever?

My dog has very sensitive skin and this is especially worse in spring and early summer. It goes an angry pink colour and he starts chewing and tugging at his fur. This can happen as early as March and continue into the summer. A friend suggested it might be hay fever but it seems to begin so early in the year that I am concerned that it might be something else. Also, although he sneezes from time to time, he doesn’t suffer from ‘traditional’ hay fever symptoms. Does anyone else notice this in their pet and any suggestions please as to what it might be?
Amy Simmonds, by email

Dr John Howie, Co-founder of Lintbells, says...
It is very likely that if your dog is showing these symptoms from March that it is hay fever as dogs are particularly sensitive to tree pollen – which is about much earlier than grass pollen and the early days of spring are when we usually see it.
Dogs suffer from hay fever, just as we do. However it is much more likely that the reaction to the pollen will be in the skin rather than the sneezing and itchy eyes symptoms that humans get.
Like us, dogs may suffer an allergic reaction when they inhale pollen. However, in animals, the histamines released by the body in response to the pollen tend to show themselves in the skin rather than the nose and eyes. Dogs can also suffer a reaction when pollen comes into direct contact with their skin.
If your dog is suffering from hay fever he is likely to scratch and bite his body, possibly to the extent that he will pull some of his coat out. He may also lick his paws, shake his head and rub his face on the floor or furniture. In extreme cases he is likely to be more sensitive to being touched and generally miserable in his demeanour.
In order to prevent these irritating symptoms it is worth ensuring that your dog’s natural skin defences are working as well as they possibly can. Omega 6 and 3 oils increase the essential fatty acids in a dog’s diet to improve their skin health. Adding Yumega Plus to your dog’s diet will ensure they get the correct balance of these oils, helping to calm sensitivity and irritation in his skin, and will make it more difficult for the pollen to penetrate the skin, which should reduce the scratching. Yumega Plus contains added fresh salmon oil and more vitamin E than standard Yumega making it perfect for dogs with itchy and sensitive skin.
Other things that you should try include bathing your dog with a shampoo designed to reduce skin irritation, although not so frequently that it dries out the skin or you could lose those vital oils in their coat. It’s also very important to keep up to date with flea control and brushing the coat to ensure there is no dirt and debris or trapped pollen in matted hair. At peak hay fever times ensure you brush the coat to remove seeds, etc from his coat and wipe him down with a damp towel after his walk to get rid of the pollen. Regularly washing your dog’s grooming brushes and bedding can help too.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

What's the leading reading?

We are getting a rescue pup in a few weeks and as it is 14 years since we trained a pup, I wondered if you could recommend the latest and best puppy training book.
Krista Barzee (one of your subscribers)

Hi Krista
I'm going to recommend Dr Ian Dunbar's amazing books. They are just perfect and what is even more amazing is they can be free! You can buy them, too - much better having a proper printed version - click here - as they are great to refer to, but you can get them on instant download for nothing more than the price of your own ink cartridges from the excellent website Dog Star Daily.
You need to read Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy.
The house training section is the best I have ever read and is reprinted in our how to have the perfect pup. And everyone should read the bite inhibition section, too - we had to put that in our book too, so sensible!
I'm sure others will have their favourite books to recommend, but Ian gets it just right in these two books. To the point but very entertainingly written and giving you exactly what you need to know, exactly when you need it!
My last two pups were brought up via this method and I can report that the house training was errorless and stress free!
Good luck with your pup!
Best wishes
Beverley, Editor, Dogs Today