Making Bonfire Night Safe for your Dogs & Pets

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Making Bonfire Night Safe for your Dogs & Pets

Having lived in a small coastal town called Rye in East Sussex for many years, the tradition of bonfire night has always been a huge event for me.

There is huge tradition behind Bonfire Night, from the history of Guy Fawkes and the Houses of Parliament plot, through to the local stories of the gangs of smugglers that roamed in the darkest along the Kent Coast in the prohibition years.

Rye Bonfire Night

The Hawkhurst Gang, the Lewes Gang and many more gangs of smugglers are commemorated in Rye, during bonfire night and it’s quite an event. From the thrill of the procession, marching to the beat of the drum, the flaming torches, through to the dramatic cannon fire and bangers from the smugglers, trudging through the cobbled streets before reaching the recreation ground and igniting the huge monolith of a bonfire.  Then once the flames are raging and the heat of the fire is scorching your cheeks, a dance of what can only be compared to morris dancers around a campfire commences, with bangers being thrown into the fire, before the sky is set aglow with fireworks lighting up the Romney Marshes.

It’s quite spectacular.

And has quite an impact. The booms echo off the cliff face and roll out across the marshes toward the sea.

As much as I have always loved the spectacle, I have to confess, our family pets haven’t always been so keen.

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe on Bonfire Night

There are some great ideas you can adopt for keeping your pets safe this bonfire night. Here are just a few:

  • Walk your dogs early, well before dark. Give them a longer walk than normal and help wear them out so they are more likely to settle.
  • Find a calm space for your pets. Create a safe space deep in the house for your pets that is quiet and warm. Keeping pets away from windows and doors and areas like the explosions of fireworks is likely to echo.
  • Keep the curtains closed. Closing the curtains and internal doors will soften the sounds even further.
  • Break out a box-set. Why not use the time to catch up on a box-set, a netflix marathon, or tune into your favourite talk radio station. TV and Radio have been proved to have a soothing effect on pets and their owners.

A musical balm for terrified terriers.

This year Classic FM is producing a special radio show for pets on Bonfire Night. You can tune into Bonfire Night Bach, from Classic FM, which will be broadcast on Saturday evening of November 3rd.

RSPCA Pets & Fireworks

Take a look at a short video from the RSPCA on Pet Safety and Fireworks and ‘How to build a doggy den.’ 

Halloween Safety for Pets

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Halloween Safety for Pets

Are you turning the kids into ghosts and ghouls?

Do you have a Halloween costume ready for the dogs?

However you are celebrating Halloween this year, there are some really great things to remember this year.

Halloween can be a really fun time for all of the family including your pets if everything is planned the right way. The noises, sights, and smells can all make for a frightening night for our four-legged friends.

Dressing up for Halloween

If you are going to dress up your dog for Halloween, then think carefully about the outfits you choose. Make sure the fabrics and embellishments are safe, non-flammable and non-toxic especially if your pooch decides to chew what they are wearing. Avoid items that restrict movement, breathing, and your dogs’ vision.

If your dog doesn’t feel comfortable in a costume or becomes stressed, then don’t force it upon them.

Halloween Hazards

Take really good care to ensure that all foods that could be harmful to your pets are kept well out of reach. Ghoulish sweets and chocolate are great fun for the kids, but they pose a real hard to your pets along with sweet wrappers.

There are lots of fun toys the children have around the house, from toy pumpkins to glowsticks. They are all really great fun to get hold of and chew. Glowsticks contain dangerous chemicals if broken, so keep these safe and away from your dogs. Always keep an eye out for chew and choking hazards.

If your dogs aren’t taking part in Halloween, then be sure to give them a nice long walk well before dark. Provide them with a nice warm comfortable place to settle down and feed them nice and early.

By providing that safe refuge and distractions for the dog, like turning the TV up you can reduce the risks of the dog bolting if the door is opened.

It’s not a great idea to leave your dog alone in the garden, you never know what a trick or treater might do, and as always there’s a real threat of dog theft.

Most of all, don’t force your dog to receive any unwanted attention and do your dog a favour, leave them at home if you go out trick or treating yourself.

Halloween Safety for Pets

 

Will this year be your year of change?

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Will this year be your year of change?

One of the best things about running a small business is that you can adapt and change quickly, yet being honest, its easy to get comfortable and do things the way you have always done, until you need to take drastic action.

I can hold my hands up and admit there are plenty of times that I should have taken action in my last business but I delayed, and it cost me.

But this year I’m really starting to notice a culture of change.

Maybe it’s crept up on me, but it’s a revolution that is definitely changing pace.

I grew up on a farm in Kent. I love my gas guzzling 4×4’s and the practicality and adaptability of them. Whether full of friends and the dogs for a day at the beach, working on the farm or making sure I can get to work whatever the weather.

Landrovers have been in my heart since I was 5 years old. They are part of my make up – from an amazing 101 Forward Control to the tough bumpy ride of a 12-seater County Station Wagon if I’m at the wheel or in one there’s a smile from ear to ear.

But things start to change. As you get older, you start to become wiser. The last few months I’ve started to notice more and more waste and more things in my world that need to change. We need to adopt an attitude that welcomes change. Embrace change.

With my background in electrical engineering, I saw the introduction of solar panels, electric cars, wind turbines, ground source and air source heat pumps, all expensive technology that had a small uptake.

Yet visionaries like Elon Musk pushed hard for electric cars and little by little, more and more hi-tech chargers are popping up. The rules of measure, analyse and reduce that we adopted in engineering are starting to move into the home with the introduction of Smart Meters, allowing us to see where we can make changes at home.

I have to be honest; I’m not the best person at recycling. I always forget the bags for life when I’m shopping (with the excuse I’m too busy). I drink a whole lot of take away coffee and my car footwell normally has rubbish waiting to hit the nearest bin. I’m a consumer. I’m wasteful.

But it wasn’t always that way.

That wisdom you get when you are older? It’s actually the ability to look back on your life and see where you did better and where your life needs to change.

I grew up in a village with a Butchers and a Greengrocer. The fruit was taken home in a brown paper bag. The meat was wrapped in greaseproof paper and then placed in another paper bag. We didn’t waste food. I’m 35, but the wartime mentality was still fresh in my grandparents and my parents’ generation were resourceful.

Generation Y have had it good. The Millennials.

We had credit cards and a consumer mentality. Living for today and instant gratification, and now you start to realize the cost on your health, waistline and the planet.

We are starting to become aware of the damage we are doing. How much waste we create.

Have you seen Ben Fogel’s documentary on the waste in the Oceans? When I grew up, you believed this was some far away place. Ben’s documentary was based in Malta. 1,294.43miles as the crow flies. A four-hour flight.

Take a look here if you haven’t had time to see it.

But you know, that’s Malta, you can watch the documentary and it will give you a little bit of guilt but in general, you will forget it after a little while. Harsh but true.

Closer to home, each day I walk Harry at the moment, another epidemic is becoming more and more obvious. Little black sacks filled with dog poop. Everywhere. In the trees, in hedges, in long grass.

Dog Poo Bag Change

In 2018 there are about 8.5 million dogs in the UK, in 1983 the year I was born there were around 4.8 million. So along with the baby booming generation, and the millennial’s blossoming, the pet population nearly doubled in the 30 years that passed.

The culture change to pick up after your pooch has come, but it’s also brought some selfish habits and some environmental issues of picking up.

How long does a dog poo take to biodegrade? Dependent upon the weather, the faeces can have dissolved within a few days, the biological effects can often take up to a year.

ScienceFocus.com reports that a dog poo bag can take three to six months to biodegrade, dependent upon light, temperature and conditions. But they still come from petrochemical processes which have another level of impact. Then again, lots of people use nappy sacks and otChangeher cheaper products which could account for the hundreds of bags still not degrading on my morning walk.

High street coffee chain Starbucks is predicted to sell over 2.9 billion cups of coffee each year, that’s nearly 8 million disposable coffee cups from one chain, worldwide each day. Waitrose is one of the chains starting to face the change, becoming an early adopter. Encouraging people to purchase a reusable cup for their complimentary coffee in store.

It’s one of the changes I will make this month, remembering those bags for life and taking my coffee cup with me wherever I go. I will also aim to reduce the plastic bottles I use daily, water, coca-cola, etc.

David Katz recently produced a great Ted Talk on an innovative social project to introduce The Plastic Bank.

Putting my engineer head back on I’ve always wondered why we don’t have a shredder for our recycling in the home, so that transported waste takes less space at the point of disposal. Think about how many more bottles you could get in the bottle bank if each bottle was chewed as you put it into the bottle bank.

Now, I’m not going to go out and start hugging tree’s, it’s highly unlikely I’m going to change the world, but I am going to start to make wiser choices, its part of my responsibility now I’m getting older 😉

I will be trying to consume less, buy smarter, re-use and recycle more.

Will this be the year you start to change too?

Dog Sports for Your Dog – Part 2

Dog Sports For Your Dog (Part 2)

Back to Part One.

Do you enjoy watching Purina’s Incredible Dog Challenge?

Have you seen the big diving dogs?

The name of the sport where the Labrador Retrievers go leaping into the pool is actually called Dock Jumping. You don’t have to have a Labrador Retriever to compete. Any water-loving dog can take the leap.

This ‘big splash’ is lots of fun for dogs that love the water. Don’t feel bad if your dog can’t leap 20 feet after a training dummy. It’s all for fun and small dogs can splash, too.

There are a number of local and regional clubs for the sport but there doesn’t seem to be a national governing body at this time.

If your dog loves to play Frisbee there is a sport for catching the flying disc. Disc Dog is fun and exciting for both dogs and spectators. Dogs have the fun of chasing and catching the disc and on-lookers can oooh and aaah over the spectacular catches. Mixed breeds and purebreds can both play.

There are competitive trials for Disc Dogs.

They can span everything from accuracy and distance to freestyle and team trials. Several organisations hold tournaments in the United Kingdom.

Earthdog trials are a lot of fun for Terrier breeds and other dogs that love to go to ground. If you have a breed that was originally bred to hunt rats or other vermin then he probably loves to dig and hunt in the earth. If he’s born to rat then you may want to check out Earthdog events for him.

Earthdog events usually use tunnels that have been dug underground and which are supported by wooden sides. They have exits dug at the ends so the dog can be brought out when he finishes the course. The tunnels are laid with the scent of the dog’s natural prey (such as a rat) and the dog is turned loose to go in the tunnel and navigate his way around. (The prey is not in any danger during the test.)

If your dog has natural earthdog instincts he will probably find these tests very fulfilling since they let him do what he was originally bred to do. AKC Earthdog trials offer titles for purebred dogs just as other AKC events do.

If you have a dog of a herding breed, such as a Border Collie or a Sheltie, then you may want to try them out in herding competitions. Herding dogs often have a natural instinct to herd and round up sheep, ducks, chickens, or anything else they can move around. If you’ve noticed this tendency in your dog then your dog may enjoy a herding trial.

There are events ranging from basic instinct tests to advanced herding work. Events are offered by the Kennel Club and by several breed organisations which seek to preserve herding instincts in working herding dogs.

Many people in the United Kingdom enjoy hunting with their dogs and the dogs enjoy it, too. Sporting dogs have been bred for at least 1000 years to hunt birds, while sighthounds such as Greyhounds have been used to hunt rabbits, small game and, in some cases, wolves, for over 4000 years.

Scenthounds like Bloodhounds and their smaller cousins Foxhounds and Beagles have been used to hunt rabbits and small game for hundreds of years. The Bloodhound goes back to the time of the Roman Empire. With so much inborn instinct dogs like Pointers, Setters, Greyhounds and Beagles love to have a chance to do what they were bred to do.

If you have any interest in hunting you may wish to give your dog a chance to see what the real thing is like. The Kennel Club and other field organizations offer various events for hunting dogs. The KC has hunt tests which test a dog instinct.

The British Sighthound Field Association also offers similar events and titles for lure coursing. TheBritish Sighthound Field Association also offers events and titles. Lure coursing simulates hunting conditions for the sighthound breeds, usually by using a plastic lure on a fishing line for the dogs to chase. Coursing in field events is more like actual hunting since the dogs are allowed to chase real prey.

Do Dogs Have Feelings?

Do Dogs Have Feelings?

People have been wondering if dogs have emotions for thousands of years. Philosophers have debated the subject, lining up on different sides. Most of us who have dogs agree that dogs have feelings.

Aristotle believed that animals were without reason but believed that they did have ‘sensations’ — they could feel if you cut them or hurt them. But as far as having human-type emotions? No. Likewise Plato and St. Augustine believed that animals did not have human-type emotions. You should be aware that in classical times what we call the emotions today were not very highly thought of. Passions were considered suspect in people. To give in to one’s emotions was a bad thing. Therefore, for a person to display emotions was undesirable. Being emotional was a bad thing. It certainly wasn’t something that philosophers would want humans to have in common with animals. Animals were held in generally low esteem. They were beasts.

In classical times the dog was considered noble, loyal and faithful but he was still a dog — an animal. There was not the least effort to endow him with human qualities such as emotions. Instead, dogs were admired for their achievements as dogs: how well they guarded the house; how well they hunted; how well they tended flocks of sheep, etc.

The utmost praise for a dog among classical writers comes from, perhaps, Homer, who describes Odysseus’s old dog Argus who would not die for 20 years until he saw his master safely return home. He was the only one who recognised Odysseus, an old man and in disguise, when he finally returned from the Trojan War. The old dog saw his master, let out a whimper, wagged his tail and died on the spot. He was considered a great dog.

The philosopher Descartes denied that animals had feelings, but then he was hard-pressed to prove that he himself existed. John Locke argued that animals do have feelings. Rousseau argued that animals are sentient beings, so therefore would have feelings. Bentham seemed to argue that animals can suffer, so they must have feelings. Schopenhauer believed that animals had feelings.

Do our dogs have feelings? Dogs have not changed from Aristotle or Homer’s time yet our ideas about emotions and feelings have. Today we honour feelings more and we look to find them in our dogs. We are pleased when we believe we see evidence that our dogs love us. Perhaps we encourage our dogs to show more emotions. We may raise dogs to be more affectionate with us. Dogs today seem to show happiness, sadness, affection and many other feelings that humans have. A mother seems to care for her pups in the same way that human mothers care for their children.

But are they the same feelings that people feel? We may have no way of knowing if they are the same feelings. They are the dog version of these feelings. We don’t know if a dog’s feelings are as complex or as rich as a human’s feelings. We don’t know if their feelings are as intense, or more intense or less.

Do they have emotions? The answer seems to be a definite yes. But whether those feelings are the same as the feelings that a human has may be unknowable.

Let Hound Dog Photography help capture the feelings and emotions of your dog, whether its a Whippet or a Yorkshire Terrier. Come along to one of our location day sessions find out more here.

Have Fun with your Dog

All About Pugs

All About Pugs

The Pug, one of the top twenty most popular dog breeds in the United States, is an ancient breed of Chinese origin. They date back to at least 400 B.C. when they were prized by Chinese emperors of the Shang dynasty. At that time they were known as Lo-Chiang-Sze, “Lion Dog” or Foo (Fu) because of their resemblance to the Chinese guardian lions called Foo, which were considered guardian spirits. They share this term with the Pekinese which was also called the Foo Dog.

From these earliest times the Pug’s sole function was to live in luxury as a companion dog. Because of the breed’s popularity they spread to Tibet where they were kept by monks in monasteries, and then to Japan and later to Europe.

It wasn’t until the 16th and 17th centuries that Dutch merchants brought the first Pugs back to Holland. The little dogs quickly became the official dog of the ruling House of Orange which later came to rule in Great Britain.

History reports that in 1572 the Prince of Orange’s life was saved from an assassin because of the barking of his Pug. William of Orange, who became William III of England and his wife Queen Mary II of England took Pugs with them when they left the Netherlands for England in 1688.

Pugs became popular throughout Europe in the 17th century. They appeared in paintings by Goya and were dressed in clothing and rode with the coachman in Germany, Italy and elsewhere.

In France the Empress Josephine enjoyed the company of Pugs. She used her Pug, named Fortune, to carry secret messages in his collar to her husband Napoleon Bonaparte when she was temporarily imprisoned.

The English painter William Hogarth owned several Pugs and was devoted to them. He painted his self-portrait with his Pug named Trump in 1745.

Pugs were called Mopshond (to grumble in Dutch) in Holland and Carlin in France, but they picked up the name Pug in England. The name probably comes from their facial expression which resembles the marmoset monkeys that were popular pets in the early 18th century. The monkeys were also known as Pugs.

Pugs reached new heights of popularity with the dog lover Queen Victoria on the throne.

Queen Victoria bred Pugs herself Her involvement with the breed, and with dogs in general, helped found the Kennel Club in Britain in 1873. Queen Victoria preferred fawn and apricot Pugs while another early fancier, Lady Brassey, brought black Pugs back from China in 1886, making them highly sought after.

The Pug was brought to the United States in the 19th century and recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1885, making it one of the earliest breeds recognised by the AKC. The Pug enjoyed great popularity only to dwindle in numbers by the turn of the century. Dedicated breeders kept the breed alive and gradually interest in the breed returned.

The Pug Dog Club of America was founded in 1931. At the current time the Pug is enjoying a renewed growth in popularity.

Only one Pug has won Best In Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show: Dhandys Favorite Woochuck in 1981. At the World Dog Show in 2004 the Best In Show winner was the Pug Double D Cinoblu’s Masterpiece.

Dog Sports for Your Dog

Dog Sports For Your Dog (Part 1)

Some dogs enjoy being couch potatoes and love bugs more than anything in the world. But, there are other dogs that seem to have a calling in life. They can have hidden talents, or not so hidden talents.

Does your dog get a kick out of playing frisbee?

Does he live for diving and retrieving things in the water?

Is he great at jumping over objects or catching a ball on the fly?

Or maybe your dog can dance like Fred Astaire?

There are numerous sports and activities for dogs with special talents or simply for dogs and their owners who enjoying doing things together.

Agility is the fastest growing dog sport in Europe and North America with thousands of dogs and owners competing each year. The sport calls for the dog, with on-course supervision by the handler, to complete an obstacle course.

The dog agility course is usually comprised of such obstacles as a teeter-totter, weave poles, jumps, a tunnel, and other objects.

The dog with the fastest time wins.

Penalties in handling the objects add time faults to the score. Agility is a fast-paced, exciting sport that continues to grow in popularity.

There are several organisations that offer agility competitions from the The Kennel Club to The Agility Club , in which mixed breed dogs are welcome to compete.

Flyball is another very popular sport for dogs and their owners. Flyball pits relay teams of dogs racing against each other.

The dog streaks down a short course over small hurdles toward a box, touches the box and makes a ball pop out, grabs the ball and then races back toward his teammates so the next dog can set out on the course. Fastest team wins.

The sport is fast, exciting and lots of fun for all of the dogs and team members.

In Great Britain the sport is overseen by the British Flyball Association. There are flyball teams found virtually everywhere these days or it’s easy enough to start your own group with some friends.

Canine Freestyle is what many of us call dog dancing.

It is basically a choreographed performance of dog and owner with music. Itís also known as heelwork to music and this is how the training is often done for this sport. If you can teach your dog to heel and follow basic commands then you can teach him the moves required to dance to music.

Canine Freestyle is often presented as a demonstration but the World Canine Freestyle Organization also holds events for judging so dogs can receive titles. The Musical Dog Sports Association holds workshops and demonstrations, as does the Canine Freestyle Federation. Canine Freestyle can be a beautiful event to watch as the dog and human move together in choreographed steps to carefully chosen music.

Schutzhund is German for ‘protection dog’ and it refers to the training which develops and evaluates the canine traits that are important for that work.

There are three parts to Schutzhund: obedience work, tracking and protection work such as that used by police dogs.

Schutzhund as a sport demonstrates a dogís intelligence and utility. Schutzhund was originally developed to test German Shepherds but it is now applied to other breeds which seek to do the same kind of protection work. Many people enjoy training their own dog in Schutzhund. It allows them to improve their own training abilities and to bond more closely with their dog.

Schutzhund is mentally and physically challenging for both dog and owner. It also provides owners with the chance to form friendships with other people training in Schutzhund. A list of Schutzhund clubs is available here.

Hiring A Professional Handler to Show Your Dog?

Hiring A Professional Handler to Show Your Dog?

The American Kennel Club offers about 15,000 dog events each year in the United States. The UK Kennel Club offers around 3,200 events across the United Kingdom.

All ‘intact’ KC-registered purebred dogs are eligible to be shown at these KC-sanctioned dog shows. (Intact means that the dog is not spayed or neutered).

Dog shows evaluate dogs for potential breeding purposes so it would defeat the purposes of the dog show to have the dogs spayed or neutered.) There are Kennel Club member kennel clubs throughout the country which put together dog shows. Chances are that there is a show near you once or twice a year.

If you have an KC-registered purebred dog and you are interested in showing your dog at dog shows, do you need a professional handler to show it for you? That all depends.

There are some good reasons to use a professional handler but it is by no means a requirement. Many owners do show their own dogs and win, but it takes a lot of hard work and practice.

Reasons to use a professional handler:

1. You would like to have your dog evaluated by an objective observer.

KC registration guarantees you that your dog is a purebred but it does not guarantee you that your dog is ‘show quality.’ Not every dog born is capable of being a Best in Show winner or even of becoming a show champion.

A professional handler who is familiar with your breed can look at your dog and evaluate his conformation. He or she can tell you if you would be wasting your money by trying to show this particular dog. Most handlers are honest enough to tell you the truth. They are not lacking for clients and they don’t want to handle dogs that will make them look bad in the show ring.

If you do have a dog that they think they can win with, they will tell you that, too. If they don’t see show ring potential in your dog they may have connections with other breeders who have litters with show potential puppies.

2. If you do have a good dog you may not have the grooming skills necessary to make him look his best.

This can be particularly true if you have a longhaired breed or a breed that requires specialised grooming, such as a Poodle. A good handler can take a good dog and make him look great.

3. You may be new to showing and still learning.

A good handler can be very instructive and you can learn from him or her as they show your dog. Or, you can ask for some private lessons from a handler, either with handling or with grooming.

4. You may be a good enough handler to show your dog in small shows or to put points on them to finish their championship but your dog is better than you are.

If you have a great dog you may want to use a handler to help your dog go as far as he can go. You can use a handler to show your dog at big shows, where the competition is especially tough. You can earn the small wins but with a handler your dog could have a shot at Group wins or even Best in Show.

Of course, there are plenty of owners who develop their skills and compete against professional handlers. You can attend handling classes offered by local kennel clubs or, as mentioned, you can pay for lessons from a professional handler or ask for handling tips from other exhibitors. There are also some good books and videos available about handling, as well as some good seminars offered by former handlers.

The key to success is to pay attention to even the smallest detail of your dog’s appearance and to practice everything you will do in the ring until you can do everything smoothly. It’s an adage that good handlers do not draw attention to themselves. Everything they do puts the focus on the dog and accentuates his good qualities.

Remember that whether your dog wins or loses, whether a handler thinks he’s show material or not, he is still the same wonderful dog he always was. Shows are only a small part of your life or your dogís life. If you decide that shows aren’t for you there are many other fun things that you and your dog can do together.