Blog Dog Training ~ Speaking Dog the Bark Busters Way!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Bereavement: Coping with the loss of a dog

Bereavement - Coping with loss of dogDogs are with us for just a short period of our lives and yet, during that time, they become a major part of our family. Many people would describe the attachment they feel towards their dog as just as strong, if not stronger, than that felt towards some human relatives. So when it is time for our beloved pet to leave us and cross over the "Rainbow Bridge", the sense of grief and loss can be overwhelming. What is worse, many other people, those you work with or those you know socially who have never owned a dog and never experienced that particular bond of love and affection, simply cannot comprehend the depth of your grief.

As well as affecting you personally, it will also affect the whole family and your other pets if you have them. So whilst you are grieving, you also have the difficult task of dealing with the grief of the rest of the family, and the change in behaviour of your surviving pets as they try to cope with the loss of a member of their family group and the changes in your emotional state. This can leave you in a maelstrom of emotions, and make coping with the loss of your pet even more difficult as you struggle to maintain your day-to-day life amongst those whose sympathy is limited. For those who lived alone with their dog, the sense of loss is particularly heightened as their beloved dog has been their full-time companion and friend.

People who comment that “it’s just a dog” are not going to be any help or support to you during this traumatic time. They are probably not wishing to be harsh, but they simply to do not understand the bond of family and friendship that a dog brings. So, although there will be those who will not comprehend the depth of your grief, this does not mean that should not allow yourself to mourn the loss of your dog. It is important not to feel ashamed or guilty about the grief that you are feeling. You need to go through this process in your own time so that you can eventually move on from it.

Coming to terms with the death of a dog is a process that can take some time. The duration and unfolding of this process will vary from person to person and can last from weeks or even years. The process will be as individual to you as was your relationship with your dog. Waves of emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt or even depression will bring emotional lows that will last for varying lengths of time. Accepting that these emotions are a normal part of the grieving process, and allowing them the freedom to come and go will mean that, eventually these emotional lows will become shorter and less painful as time goes by.

Accepting that your feelings of grief and sadness are normal responses, that should not be denied, is the first step in your healing process. Don’t try to tell yourself how you should feel, and certainly don’t allow other people to do so either. Where you can, reach out to other people who have shared similar experiences and are willing to share on social media, forums, or on-line support groups. These people will be helpful and supportive to you, won’t judge you, and will share their own experiences too, allowing you to feel less alone. Also, by listening to their stories, you can draw some comfort from the knowledge that you are helping others along their journey of mourning.

During the process of mourning, it is also important that you try to maintain your physical health and well-being. Your emotional energy can drain your physical reserves so it is important to try to maintain your eating, exercising and personal hygiene habits. For those in employment, maintaining the regular routine of going to work can be beneficial. It is probably a good idea to let your employer know what has happened to you. They may not be able to offer much in the way of structured support, or time off, but alerting them will help to avoid potential criticism of your commitment and/or concentration levels. Also important is to try to maintain the regular routines of any surviving pets. Make sure their feeding routines are maintained, and also maintain or Increase the amount of exercise and interaction. This can help re-establish your relationship and break the overwhelming mood of sorrow that you all share.

Holding a funeral, or remembrance service is something that can allow time for the family to come together to grieve and share their personal feelings and experiences about your pet. You will probably experience many tears and overwhelming grief at such a ceremony, but there will also be laughter as people share their stories from the dog’s life. Laughter and joy are ways of celebrating your dog’s life and are as valuable as sorrow throughout the grieving process. You may also want to think about creating a memorial, whether that be in a pet cemetery, pictures around your home, a book of memories, or by planting a tree or erecting a bench in your dog’s memory. All of these things are positive actions that allow you to invest your emotions into a physical activity, and may help you to process your grief.

Of course, the manner of your dog’s passing can also contribute to the emotions you are feeling. When a dog is put to sleep by a vet, the decision is one that has been taken with the advice of the vet, and is in the best interests of your dog. In other words, you have been guided into an informed choice that reflects your love for your dog. Sometimes a dog’s passing may be sudden and completely unexpected due to an accident or an attack. These latter situations can prove more challenging as you may blame yourself or start to think ‘if only’. If only you hadn’t left the gate open, if only you hadn’t taken him to the park at that time. These types of thoughts will bring feelings of guilt and even self-loathing into the mix of emotions, and can be very difficult to deal with. If talking with people who understand and empathise with your emotions is not preventing you from slipping into despair and depression, then you should speak to your GP to help you seek professional help.

If you are thinking about getting another dog, don’t do it too soon. The decision is personal and yours to take, but rushing into the next relationship with another dog may not be the best thing for either you or the dog. You may find that you constantly compare the new dog to the old one, and the new one will not come out on top. Allow yourself to mourn your old dog and, only when you feel emotionally ready, then allow yourself to love another. Also, consider your age; Are you fit enough for a large dog? What is your life expectancy? Be honest with yourself about what type of dog you will be able to handle.

During this difficult time, and if you don’t have any surviving dogs, do allow yourself to appreciate the benefits of not having a dog. Try to have days out, holidays, evenings with friends where you are not tied to the needs of a pet. Constantly repeating all of the behaviours that you used to do when you had a pet will not help you move on.

The journey through grief can be a long and difficult one, and you may feel that you are making the journey alone. Allow yourself to be present on the journey, don’t allow other people to try to direct you or try to speed you through it. Allow those who are willing, to support you as you move through the stages of your grief until, ultimately, you are able to move on.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Introducing a new puppy or dog

Introduce a new dog or puppyIf you have decided that the time is right to add a new dog to your family, you will probably be feeling really excited to introduce the new addition to the rest of the family. There will be reasons why you felt that this was the right dog for your family…right age, right size, right temperament, good with children, good with other dogs etc., so you are confident that this new dog will easily slot in to your family group.

Whether you have decided on a puppy, or an adult dog, you should take time to consider that your resident dogs may not be quite as excited as you are about the prospect of a new dog moving in. In fact, this change in the family group can prove quite stressful for your dog, so it’s worth taking care to manage the introduction and so minimise potential problems.

We’ve put together a few tips to help you:
If you are adopting from a dog rescue centre most rescues will ask you to bring your existing dog to the centre where you can all meet your potential adoptee. The staff, and you, will then be able to see how the dogs interact with each other before agreeing that you should take your new dog home. Even if you aren’t adopting through a rescue centre, it is still a good idea to allow the dogs to meet on neutral territory first, as your dog may react to a new, unknown, dog arriving on his territory. Also, if you already have more than one dog, it’s worth introducing them singularly to the new dog so that you don’t overwhelm the new dog with an already established group.

Once in your home, ensure that the new dog has its own sleeping area, and its own food bowl. Don’t expect your existing dog to be willing to share its bed or food bowl with the newcomer. Feed the dogs in separated areas, and remove food bowls after each meal time as dogs can be possessive over food bowls even when empty.

Use a crate or safety gate to ensure separation. Allow your existing dog to roam freely, but secure the new dog. This gives the existing dog time to get used to the new dog being there, and to accept that he has not lost his place in the family group.

Never leave new your new dog unattended with your existing dog until the dogs have got to know one another, as the situation can sometimes deteriorate quickly. At times when you do allow the dogs together in one room, make sure you are on hand to deal with any issues as the situation can change very quickly. Also ensure that any prized possessions and toys are removed so that these don’t cause any sort of potential rivalry. The dogs should have their own toys that are only brought out for them to play with when they are separated.

Always remember that your existing dog needs to be confident in his status and where he fits within your family group in order to accept the newcomer. Treat him the same way as you always have done, and be fair about sharing your attention. In fact, share everything equally, including your time and attention, as well as treats and toys. Never favour your new dog over your existing dog. Your new dog will learn a lot from your existing dog about how the household works, so doing your utmost to maintain routines will help both of them as they adapt to each other.

Introducing a puppy to an adult dog.
Not all dogs will welcome a new puppy into the home. Puppies are notorious in looking for attention and can easily overwhelm your existing dog. Supervision is needed when introducing so as not to get them off on the wrong foot.

Very young puppies may not understand and pick up on your existing dogs body language that says he's had enough. A well-balanced adult dog may growl to tell the puppy to back off and to say he's had enough. This can be a natural behaviour and establishes the ground rules and helps the puppy learn the boundaries. However, an adult dog with poor social skills may not growl and can snap out and harm the puppy. Try to observe the body language of your existing dog and if the situation looks to be uncomfortable remove the puppy for a period of time. Don't leave your dog and puppy unsupervised and unattended. Be mindful and respect your existing dog's need for a puppy free time and also spend some one-on-one time with your existing dog too.

Handle the puppy-to-dog introduction with care as you would when you introduce two adult dogs. Observe their body language, allow brief sniffs, ensure they don't overwhelm each other and place them on leads if you feel it's safer. Don't forget to praise them when they are calm and they are well behaved.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Dog Bite Prevention | Avoiding Dog Bites

Dog Bite Prevention Week 2016Dog bite prevention week takes place on the third week of May annually and aims to educate people in how to avoid being bitten by a dog. It's a sad fact that dog bites, in the UK, increase more and more each year. Over the past 10 years, dog bites have increased by over 40%. The latest NHS figures appear to show that there has been an increase of over 6% on 2014 compared to 2013*.

Thousands of people in the UK are bitten by dogs every year, and many of these bites result in the need for medical treatment and admission to hospital. Children between the age of 0 and 9 years are the most likely to be bitten, with the injuries being on the face and shoulders. Their bites often occur whilst the child is playing with a " familiar" dog too.

Bark Busters believe that the vast majority of dog bites or attacks can be avoided. To minimise the risk, dog owners should take care to train and socialise their dog and feed a good quality diet. They should also educate children in the appropriate way to behave around dogs. Below are some guidelines on child safety in the presence of dogs:

  • NEVER leave children alone with a dog.
  • Educate your child about dog safety just as you would about road safety. To get you started, you could ask your child to visit our Dog Safety for Children website to watch our "Dally Says" video with an important message.
  • Don’t allow your child to approach a strange dog. If the owner is present, you may ask the owner if it is ok for your child to approach the dog. Only then, and under the guidance of the owner , you may supervise your child in a gentle approach to the dog. Allow the dog time to sniff you first before any attempt to stroke the dog. You should only stroke the dog if the owner is confident that it's ok to do so. Unless you supervise this greeting, children often rush up to dogs whilst asking the owner if they can stroke the dog, but are often reaching out to the dog before the owner has registered the question.
  • Never allow a child to approach a dog whilst it is eating or sleeping, and don’t allow children to feed a dog as dogs can be protective of food. Furthermore, don’t allow a dog to take food out of a child’s hands.
  • Never allow a child to approach a dog with puppies. She will be very protective over the puppies, and may bite if she feels that her puppies are at risk.
  • Don’t allow children to approach a dog who is tied up. If a dog is frightened or scared it has two options, fight or flight. If they are tied up, they have lost the option to flight and may bite if they feel threatened and can’t escape.
  • Children should never be allowed to run around or scream around dogs. This can excite the dog and can lead to heavy play or may alarm a dog and can lead to a bite.
  • It goes without saying that children should never be allowed to pull a dog’s ears, mouth or tail etc. Dogs feel pain, children can be heavy-handed and although they don’t mean to, can cause pain which may result in a bite. Children should never sit or lie on a dog. Even hugging a dog should be discouraged.
  • Ensure that your dog has somewhere to go where he can escape the attention of a child. A crate can provide a place of safety or a quiet area under a table. Children should never approach the dog in his crate or area of safety, and should certainly never try to enter the crate.
  • Whenever you have children over to visit, make sure that your dog is under control on their arrival, giving you time to explain your rules about approaching your dog. Be vigilant and be ready to remove your dog from a situation where you are uncomfortable, or where your dog appears uncomfortable. This may mean that you need to learn to observe your dog’s body language . We have resources to help you with this on our website.
     

* NHS statistics

 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Springtime Dog Training Tips

Now that we have made it through Easter, the days are getting longer, and the fields, hedgerows and gardens are bursting into life, no doubt you can hardly wait to get out and explore the countryside with your dog. So we thought we would put together some tips and advice to help you and your dog stay safe and healthy this Springtime.

Make sure you check that your dog is up to date with preventative treatments for fleas/ticks lungworm and heartworm. Fleas and ticks can cause many problems including flea allergy dermatitis and Lyme disease. Both fleas and ticks can cause dangerous levels of blood loss, especially in young dogs. There are many treatments available that are effective and easy to use, but speak to your vet if you are unsure or feel you would like more advice.

Try to prevent your dog from eating plants and flowers. Unless you are knowledgeable about which plants your dog should definitely not eat, it is best to try to prevent the risk by stopping him from eating any plants. It's also worth remembering that lawn treatments contain herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers that may be harmful to your dog, so don’t allow dogs onto treated lawns until the treatment has dried completely.

Should your dog have allergies to blooms or grasses, you may notice that he develops itchy skin which he persistently scratches, licks or bites. If you are aware that this condition only occurs during three months of the year, you can try oral medications to help. It’s a good idea to speak to your vet who can perform a skin test to pinpoint the allergy and recommend suitable treatments.
Take advantage of the longer days and warmer temperatures to rebuild your relationship with your dog by committing to exercise and training that will re-establish your communication and give your dog a chance to get his brain active again after the long winter months. Practise your lead work, your recall and your basic obedience… the more interactive you are, the more fun your dog will have with you.

Please also be aware of the changes to the laws, rules and regulations covering dogs and their conduct in public places. These may have changed since you last visited the great outdoors. Check whether dogs are allowed to be off-lead in certain areas, take poo bags so that you can clear up after your dog, and make sure that your dog is under your control at all times. We have produced a separate article covering compulsory microchipping which comes into effect on 6 th April this year, but you must also ensure that your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag that identifies you easily.

Springtime is a very important time for farmers. NEVER allow your dog to run free on agricultural land, especially where there are sheep and lambs. You can gain further information from the National Sheep Association website.

Did you know that a farmer whose livestock is under threat because of an uncontrolled dog is within their rights to shoot your dog. We recommend that you keep your dog on a lead in any area where there may be livestock. During lambing season, sheep can miscarry their lambs if worried. It's also not uncommon for sheep to die as a result of stress caused by worrying.

Be prepared…the weather can change quickly at this time of year so make sure you have equipment to cover a sudden change in climate. You might want to take a dog coat, blankets, or waterproofs in case of rain, but also take water in case the weather warms up, and never leave a dog in a car, whatever the weather. What may seem to be mild temperatures outside can soon turn into oven like temperatures inside a car. It's important to remember that a dog cools down differently than humans and having a fur coat can make for a lethal combination in the car.

Whatever you do, stay safe and have fun with your dog!

Further Information:  
Artile: Gina Hinsley - Bark Busters Home Dog Training Bristol
Bark Busters trainers, who have trained more than 1 MILLION dogs worldwide, are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters Home Dog Training is the only service of its kind that offers a worldwide guaranteed lifetime support. With over 350 offices in 7 countries, Bark Busters is continuing its mission to enhance the human-canine relationship and reduce the possibility of maltreatment and abandonment. For more details, call freephone 0808 100 4071 or visit www.BarkBusters.co.uk

Practice Recall with your Puppy or Dog

Does your dog come when called?
Now that we are into Spring, and the weather is warmer, many of us enjoy the chance to take our dogs out and allow them a good run off lead. If your dog comes every time you call him, that’s great. But if you find that your dog consistently ignores your recall, then you could try improving your technique, and putting some training into place for your dog.

First of all, you need to set yourself up for success. You need to retain some control over the situation whilst you are training your dog to come to you consistently. A 25ft soft lead is often the best place to start as you can then allow your dog some extra freedom whist retaining the ability to show and guide him as to what you want him to do.

You must also ensure that your voice tones are working for you. If you shout your dog in an angry voice, he is possibly going to think twice before coming to you. You need to call him in happy, light tones that encourage him to want to come back to you. Use lots of praise when your dog comes to you. As Bark Buster trainers we often find that a common reason for problems with recall is that owners only recall their dog when there is either a problem, or when it’s time to go home. This doesn't encourage your dog to want to come back to you. It is far better, when training recall, to keep recalling your dog, lavishly praising him and then releasing him again. Doing this several times when you are out trains your dog to understand what you want from him, shows him that there is a reward for this behaviour, and also shows him that your recall doesn’t mean that his fun is over. Doing this also has the effect of making you more interactive, and more interesting to your dog, and will help him to keep focused on your whereabouts.

When you praise your dog for coming back to you, the praise must come as soon as he starts to move towards you. Whilst he is learning recall, praise him immediately he starts to make his way back to you so he understands why he is being praised. If you put in a ‘sit’ command, and ask him for his paw before praising him for returning to you, he will think he’s being praised for giving you his paw, and not for the great recall.

Once you have consistent recall on a long line (without you having to reel him in), you can progress to recall off-lead, but be sure to start in an enclosed area such as a tennis court. Once recall off-lead is consistent in the enclosed area, you can progress to open areas.

When exercising your dog off-lead, be mindful that there will be dogs who are on lead for a reason. They, and their owners will probably not appreciate your dog approaching, so be ready to call him back before he reaches them, and put the lead back on if you need to as this is respectful of the needs of others.

As a final point, calling just your dog’s name is not a recall command; his name is just his name and he most probably knows that already! You must put in a command such as "come", so “Rover, come!” or “Rover, here!” will work much better.

As in everything with dog training, practice is the key. Consistency in your commands and your praise, will help speed up the process.

Good luck and enjoy your Spring-time walks.

Further Information:  
Artile: Gina Hinsley - Puppy & Dog Training Bristol
Bark Busters trainers, who have trained more than 1 MILLION dogs worldwide, are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters Home Dog Training is the only service of its kind that offers a worldwide guaranteed lifetime support. With over 350 offices in 7 countries, Bark Busters is continuing its mission to enhance the human-canine relationship and reduce the possibility of maltreatment and abandonment. For more details, call freephone 0808 100 4071 or visit www.BarkBusters.co.uk

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