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Friday, 23 September 2011

How do you select a good dog trainer?

If you have a problem with your dog how do you find someone reliable to help you solve your problems. Having watched the One Show I now realise that anyone can call themselves a dog trainer! Is there a checklist of questions I can ask to reveal whether the trainer knows what he or she is doing?
Patrick Farnsworth, by email

So how should it really be done?

Having watched the Jack Russell on the One Show guarding his food bowl I now know how not to train a dog, but how should you do it properly?
What should you do if a dog growls when you attempt to take up its food bowl?
Holly Dixon, by email

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Keeping vampires at bay

Hi Richard, wondered if you might be able to help.

I am interested to know how 'safe' garlic is for dogs - I have been using it for about three years - tiny bit in the food each day to ward off bugs and help with immune system. I constantly get told 'oooh you shouldn't do that, it’s bad for your dog blah blah', but I did hear that although from a similar family, garlic does not have an ingredient/layer that onions do which is what is toxic to dogs. Do you have any further info on that at all by any chance?

Thanks guys!

Donna Saunders, by email

Richard Allport, vet, advises...

Hallo Donna

Garlic is very safe. It is a member of the onion family, and onions are indeed toxic to dogs – they contain a chemical called thiosulphite which can damage red blood cells, causing serious anaemia. However, even in the case of onions, a dog weighing 55lbs would need to eat between three quarters and a pound and a half of onions at one go to be poisoned. Garlic does contain the same chemical, but much less of it, and is probably less than half as toxic – so our same dog would need to eat two or three pounds of garlic to be poisoned.

So small amounts of garlic are fine – but as the toxic effect can to some extent accumulate with repeated doses, I usually recommend having a break from continuous dosing now and then – so one week on, one week off is fine, or two weeks on, one week off would also be perfectly acceptable.

Garlic is such a health giving supplement – its anti infective, helps clears respiratory congestion, can strengthen the circulation, boosts the immune system, and helps keep parasites away – don’t stop giving the garlic!

Richard Allport

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Holiday dilemma

I am hoping to go on holiday next year with my three year old Sheltie. I have not been on holiday for over 15 years. As I don't have my own means of transport and am not currently in receipt of any income I am looking for fairly cheap travel and accommodation in either Paignton or Scotland and wondered he you could give me some advice.
Susan B, by email

Monday, 19 September 2011

Boredom busting


We currently leave my dog in her crate when we're out (for short times), as she seems to prefer it to being loose in the house, but that leaves her with nothing to do but dwell on her woes.

What toys can I leave with her that are safe and stimulating for her to play with when I'm out, as all the toys I've seen say that they are for supervised play only?

Thanks very much
Clare, by email

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Change in behaviour


I own four dogs, two pairs of sisters, and all rescues. My first two I adopted, Poppy & Jasmine (Beagle/Jack Russell crosses), were rescued from a puppy mill. They were six months when i got them and spayed shortly after. The first few months with them were spent getting them comfortable around humans and other dogs, and by the time they reached a year old they developed in to confident, social, happy-go-lucky dogs.

A year later I rescued another two sisters while working at an animal shelter. A litter of nine newborn puppies was brought into us after their mum got the last pup stuck while giving birth and died in transit. The nine pups were sent to a foster home and hand-raised for eight weeks, I decided to adopt two, Abbey and Kensington.

Their mum was a pit bull/mastiff mix, dad unknown (Lab or Rottweiler I suspect). They were spayed at two months and I brought them home a week later. Abbey was always a little anxious as a pup, but as with Poppy and Jasmine, the first four months was spent socialising with other dogs and people.

At six months old, both the puppies developed canine acne (within two weeks of each other) and shortly after, their personality changed. They both seemed overly anxious every time they were brought into a new environment and began showing fear towards the unknown, including humans and dogs. Kensington tends to back away when feeling unsure, however Abbey is more aggressive in her behavior and will growl, show teeth and become very unruly. She is very reactive and has a high chase drive too.

I have been working with her one on one now for almost five months and have had little success improving her behavior. The behaviour is linked more to new situations than human and dog aggression. I have been taking her to my husbands very busy construction site and after the second time she was very well behaved.

Could it be hormonal related with the behavior changing around the same time as developing acne? Results of being spayed too early maybe? Can hormonal imbalances be tested for? Or could it be other factors leading to their behavior, being hand-raised for instance or breed personality? I have spoken to my vet about this on several occasions and have been told its genetics, and to carry on working with their behaviour.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Nikki, by email

Monday, 12 September 2011

Rewarding on a raw diet

Dear Dogs Today Team,

Having experienced excellent results feeding my current adult dog a BARF diet for the past two years, I am keen to start my next puppy on a raw food diet. However, I would like to incorporate the puppies daily food allowance into reward based training and would appreciate advice on how I can do this using raw food.

All the literature I have read regarding reward based training uses kibble which I would rather avoid. I have considered using a combination of ORIJEN (an organic kibble) with raw food for the first year, gradually phasing into a complete raw diet.

Many thanks

Bev Lewis, by email

Monday, 5 September 2011

Surviving bed rest


I hope someone can give me some suggestions. My three-and-a-half-month-old Smooth Fox Terrier puppy broke her leg last night. She is in a temporary plaster until Monday when she will be operated on and given some pins to hold the leg together. The vet has advised us to keep her in her crate for the following six weeks for it to heal properly and limit her movement, what I would like advice on is if anyone has any suggestions to keep her amused for the six weeks as she is highly intelligent and will become bored very quickly?

Secondly are there any supplements or homeopathic treatments or herbs I can give to ensure a good recovery? In humans I have heard that placing a comfrey leaf in the plaster can give very beneficial results does anyone know if this can be done for dogs? She is fed on Natural Instinct complete raw dog food so she should be getting enough calcium but should she have more?

Any help would be gratefully received as we are in for a trying six weeks!

Kind regards
Sam Salter-Rafferty, by email

Friday, 2 September 2011

Will home cooking help my dog's acid reflux?

Can anyone help me with home cooking for dogs (as opposed to providing a raw diet)? I am anxious to try this with a poorly Keeshond with acid reflux. I am having difficulty on finding guidance on the best balance of food and supplements to feed.

My Keeshond's reflux problem was identified after an endoscopy with a camera which showed the problem in the oesophagus.

I'd be very grateful for any information on home cooking, and also to know if anyone has any experience with treating acid reflux in their dog.

Thank you,
Dennis, by email

Isuru Gajanayake BVSc CertSAM DipACVIM MRCVS

American Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine

Small Animal Clinical Nutritionist

Willows Referral Service

Solihull, West Midlands


Dear Dennis,

I am sorry to hear about your unwell Keeshond.

I hope I can answer your questions about home-cooking for dogs. This is not as straight-forward as it may initially seem but it is possible. The difficulty in cooking a balanced home-cooked diet for dogs lies in that dogs have different nutrient requirements (compared to people) and for this reason making a diet using human supplements invariably results in a dietary imbalances. To provide a balanced home-cooked diet for dogs, you will need dietary supplements specifically designed for dogs and a veterinary nutritionist to balance the diet.

Not knowing the details of your dog and his/her problem it is difficult to speculate, but your dog may have a medical condition that may be the underlying cause for the acid reflux. We typically investigate a problem like this with an ultrasound scan of the abdomen and by taking biopsies from the stomach and intestine (using a scope). Some of the underlying conditions (such as inflammatory bowel disease) are treated with modified diet and medical treatment, whereas other conditions may require surgery. I appreciate that this may raise more questions than answer them but I hope this is nonetheless useful to you.