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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Keep dancing!

My 13-year-old daughter has really enjoyed teaching our collie, Rose, the Singin’ in the Rain routine you’ve had in your recent magazines and is really keen to find a Heelwork to Music class.
Please can you tell me the things I should look out for in a class? Rose is very bright (she’s a collie!) and she’s done well with the routines, but I want to ensure her legs aren’t put under too much strain. Is there a children’s club or something similar my daughter could join?
Mrs Dunn, by email

Chewing it over. And Over. And Over.

Please can you help?
I’m at my wits’ end trying to combat my four-month-old puppy from chewing everything in sight, including my hands! We puppy-proofed our house before bringing him home – everything that needs to be is up high, and electric cables have extra cabling around them – it’s like having a toddler in the house again!
I’d prefer it if he stopped chewing my furniture! I’m around all day, so it’s not an anxiety thing I don’t think as I only leave him to go to the supermarket etc and he chews when I’m there. I do remember past pups chewing, but not this much!
Hope you can help!
Mrs Baker, by email

Gentle help for Degenerative Myelopathy

Dear Sir/Madam,
I have a Dobermann cross, who has been my best friend for 13 years. She has just recovered from a stroke, and has now been diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, which is so heartbreaking.
I have read about three biological therapies – Coenzyme Compositum, Psorinoheel, and Galium Heel. Could any of these help with this awful condition?
Also, would hydrotherapy help?
I will do anything to help my dog, to make it easier for her to cope with this debilitating disease.
Any advice at all would be very much appreciated.
Miss M. Huggins, Sunderland

Richard Allport, vet, advises...

Degenerative Myelopathy, known as DM for short, is a slowly progressive degenerative disease of the nerves in the spinal cord which is generally believed to be caused by an auto immune condition. The affected dog becomes weak and wobbly in the hind legs and as the disease progresses can also lose control of bowels. Dogs with DM usually appear perfectly fit and well in other respects, which is why it is indeed so heartbreaking. Eventually more or less complete loss of use of the hindquarters occurs and the affected dog can no longer stand or walk. DM is painless, but is naturally distressing for dogs that have the condition.

There are no drugs that help this problem, but natural medicines and therapies can often help slow down progression, sometimes give periods of stability, and occasionally give short term improvement.

I find acupuncture very beneficial, and high doses of Vitamin E seem to help (1000 iu per day for large dogs). Supplements of Zinc and Selenium can be of benefit for some patients, and the amino acid Dimethylglycine (DMG) can be helpful too.

Homoeopathic medicines often give good results. Of the ones you mention, Psorinoheel is more useful for skin disease and liver problems, Coenzyme Compositum is more effective for chronic fatigue type illnesses where total energy levels are low, as opposed to DM, where general energy is normal, and only one small part of the body is physically affected. Galium Heel may give some benefit – it is used for auto immune and other immune system diseases, but I find Dimethylglycine more effective. The two homoeopathic medicines I have found most useful are Conium maculatum and Lathyrus, and these will work particularly well if given alongside the dog’s personal constitutional homoeopathic medicine (which you would need a qualified ho0moeopathic vet to prescribe).

A good diet is also important – good quality ingredients, no preservatives or additives, and as much fresh food as possible.

And finally support therapies such as hydrotherapy, massage and physiotherapy can be of benefit too.

Good luck with your canine best friend, I hope she still has a long and happy time with you.

For more information on any of the treatments detailed above do contact the Natural Medicine Centre on 01707 662058 or e mail (giving a phone number we can call you on if possible)

Year-round risk

Is there the same risk of my dog getting fleas in the winter as there is in the summer? I didn’t think there was but a friend said I should be giving my Bulldog a flea treatment all year round.

Thank you,

Linda Small, by email

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Knitting needle in a haystack

Does anyone know of any knitting patterns to make German Shepherd toys? I am involved with GSD rescue and would love to make some Shepherd toys to sell to raise funds.

I know Alan Dart has patterns for lots of breeds but I can’t find one for the German Shepherd. It would need to be at least 10 inches or more, ideally.

Thanks very much,

Michelle Bingham, by phone

Monday, 19 November 2012

Surviving bed rest

How do I keep my Lab cross puppy from going crazy in the time after she has been spayed?

She's awful without a good walk!

Loralys, via Twitter

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Dread-ful locks

Can anyone recommend a shampoo/conditioner which will help stop my Lurcher's fur matting?

Bella's got a mixture of soft/course hair and gets brushed three times a day, yet I'm having huge problems with dreadlocks. I don't want to have her shaved if at all possible.


Elspeth Winter Rose, via Facebook

Loud and clear

Please can anyone help?

I have two dogs who, while not being the most well trained dogs on the block, will come back when called and are fine around other dogs.

However I have recently gained a second hand Ray - too male to be a Rose - who was 18 months when I got him. He had never been allowed off a lead and had never been socialised with any other dog or many humans either. The excuse I was given was that his previous owners had taken him to a puppy socialisation class but he had been attacked by another dog so they never went back, and their answer was to not let him near other dogs, so now he thinks that all other dogs are frightening creatures that he must bark at to make them go away.

When I said I would be prepared to take him on I stressed it was subject to him getting on with my original two, and I agreed to meet on neutral territory and walk them all together to make sure they got on. However when the dog turned up - who has now been renamed Buddy - I was informed that this was the first time he had been in a car, this was all his stuff, good luck on the walk and they had to go.

It took us about three days before he stopped barking at the other two dogs indoors. Thank heavens for understanding neighbours. I called in a behaviourist who got us to join her class by at first walking him round the outside of the field that she was holding her training classes in and gradually moving him nearer until we were able to join the group, and he did calm down considerably but then she lost her training ground and gradually all Buddy’s old habits started creeping in.

After about three months I contacted another behaviourist who came out and walked Buddy with me and gave his recommendations, which were to take him to a park and let him 'bark it out' until he stops of his own accord and looks back at me and then to praise him. This trainer thought he would be bored of barking within two weeks. Unfortunately he never gets bored. I even enrolled him in a six week growl class which really doesn't seem to have done him much good back in the real world.

I now even have to take him out on his lead to go into the back garden as he barks out there. I still cannot walk him with my other two dogs and am at my wits end as to what I can do now with him.

Can anyone offer any help/suggestions?

Rebecca and Buddy, by email

Monday, 12 November 2012

Neighbourhood watch

Hi, can someone suggest a solution to this problem, please.

Someone down my back alley has a young dog that they seem to put out in the back yard an awful lot. When they do this, he barks and yelps, sometimes for hours. It is absolutely heart-rending to hear. I've worked out which house it is and would like to call round and tell them. However, I would like to turn up with some kind of solution, not just a complaint. I was thinking maybe if they put him (her) out with a stuffed Kong? I live in a rough area and have no idea if this family will be a drug-dealing, gun-toting family, but if I call the RSPCA I know they'll do nothing at all because there have been worse cases of cruelty round here and they haven't bothered.

Ideally if someone could point me to a website where I could print out a list of suggestions about separation anxiety that the family could follow. Maybe I could chicken out and just shove it through their letterbox and run!

Tracy Neil, via Facebook

Dave Griffiths, Senior Policy Adviser, National Dog Warden Association, advises...

Dear Tracey,

I think every organisation or individual involved with dogs would agree that this is not an ideal scenario. However, unless the dog is left out without any water or shelter, this is not strictly a matter for the RSPCA. Remember that their officers are inundated with cases of cruelty and mistreatment so they can’t often deal with calls that are outside their remit.

Your local District/Borough/City Councils have Environmental Health departments that contain both Dog Wardens and officers who investigate noise complaints. If the noise is unreasonable, excessive and is adversely affecting your enjoyment of your own home, it can be investigated by that department for you under sections 79 to 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Although this does not directly benefit the welfare of the dog, the dog owners will be informed that a complaint has been made and will be offered help and advice if they ask for it. Why not give your local Council a ring and chat through the options with them?

However, you are quite right in that it is always better if neighbours communicate and try to resolve problems amicably before bringing in the authorities. The dog owners may be a little defensive at first but usually come to appreciate that you haven’t reported them and will value the help you are offering.

Separation anxiety is a difficult problem to solve and there isn’t usually a quick fix solution. There is a lot of advice out there but the RSPCA and Dogs Trust both have sections on their website that may help and that I have used myself in the past;

However, working through these problems take a lot of time and patience and, even then, there are times when the solution is a recognised dog behaviourist or trainer.

Dave Griffiths

(Senior Policy Adviser, National Dog Warden Association)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Gift of charity

I'm hoping to find a nice T-shirt or hoodie as a Christmas gift which supports a doggy charity, any ideas anyone?


Amy Skilton, via Facebook

Back in the harness

I wonder if any of your readers have any good recommendations for harnesses for a Greyhound and a little Whippet-sized Lurcher?

I've used a few harnesses, but I have found none of them are long enough from the front to belly, meaning they rub under the front legs.

I want a decent quality one, something comfy for them both, because they have to stick with harnesses as they are experts at getting out of collars!

Sarah Bell, via Facebook

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

When is it best to spay?

My vet is advising I spay my eight-week-old pup at six months old before her first season, as it reduces the risk of mammary cancer by up to 85%.

With my previous dogs I have always allowed a number of seasons before spaying but does it matter whether a bitch has come in season or not before spaying? Are there any psychological issues with spaying a bitch who hasn't had a season?

This is causing me a real dilemma because I want to do what's best for the health of the dog.

Thanks for your guidance.

Dianne Evans, by email

Afraid of the dark

Does anyone have any tips for a dog who is now scared of the dark after being spooked by fireworks?

Bruno is a 19-month-old Bichon, and this is his second fireworks season. He's normally such a toughy.

Delyth and Bruno, via Twitter

Monday, 5 November 2012

Brushing up on grooming


I hope you can help. We’re new to the dog world but hoping I’ve come to the right place as we’ve just had a homecheck and been approved to adopt a rescue dog from a Greyhound charity.

I’m emailing for a few tips on grooming and what the best products are as we’d like to do the majority at home, but will take our new dog to a professional when he or she needs it.

Mr and Mrs Porter, by email

Homeward bound

Hi Dogs Today,

Can you help?

Now the weather is becoming foul, I’m remembering just how long the smell of wet dog stays in the car after a walk and how much more cleaning is required. 
We strap Snoopy in so he travels inside the car. I do take a towel with me to dry off muddy paws and fur after my crossbreed has had a swim, but I’m wondering if there are any products that might limit the wet dog smell so human passengers aren’t subjected to such a stink and the seats don't get quite so muddy? 

Hopeful thanks,

Mrs D’Souza, by email

Foxed by an odour problem

Like many, many other dog owners, I have an odour problem!
Madi, my five-year-old crossbreed, likes a good roll in fox poo when she comes across it in the woods where we live. Worse, Ruby, the Golden Retriever we often look after, is an expert at hunting it out. She can find fox scat anywhere within a three-mile radius! She's had four baths in as many days - and still smells.
I’ve tried using tomato sauce, which has often been recommended to me. It helps, and the residual vinegar smell masks the stench a little, but it doesn’t take long for the waft of eau de fox to win through after a few hours.
Any suggestions?
Claire Horton-Bussey, Dogs Today

The Eco Dog Company sent me its special Fox Poo Kit (£17.99), which includes two wash pads (one for the dog and one for cleaning the dog’s mucky collar and the bath afterwards!), fox poo shampoo, and a baby-powder fragrance spray.
The shampoo is described as being “For dogs that don’t want to smell like something the fox left behind!” It smells delicious – and is eco-friendly, containing no SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate), parabens or artificial fragrances.
To be honest, I didn’t need the fragrance spray afterwards – the shampoo did what it promised – but I did find that the spray was useful for the times when I couldn’t immediately bath the dogs after a walk. It was a good stop-gap until I was free to get them in the tub!
A great gift for dog lovers – and to yourself – this kit is a must-have. Highly effective and leaves your dog smelling fragrant and clean. And it smells a lot better than ketchup!
For more info, visit