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Fun-Loving Pet Behaviour and Training Centre in Falmouth, Cornwall

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Blog

Is your dog’s BED causing anxiety in you dog?

Sounds a bit crazy doesn’t it?

This…..Alternate View

Causing this…

Image result for scared dog

Whilst its not necessarily ’cause’, it is most definitely an influence, and to understand how all this can make sense, we need to take a step back into understanding anxiety…

Definition of Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

Dogs can become anxious for various reasons, and most of the time it is genetic or has occurred during the VERY early puppy stages, which is where a dog’s temperament is formed determining how they will show up in the world. Now with right puppy classes, socialisation and training, then a puppy can curve that anxiety patch by building resilience to the things it finds scary…

Otherwise, they adapt and respond to the emotions they are feeling, and unfortunately, the behaviours that are attached to those feelings can be difficult to watch and live with. For Example,a dog who feels anxious around big dogs may behave by continuous barking, growling or chasing them off, other dogs may cower and submit to the ground.

Anxiety both in humans and dogs is SHIT. It requires undertanding of where it started,its triggers and actually some therapy around changing the FEELING of the emotion, and without that it can heart breaking to watch, more so if you don’t know what to do to help fix it..

When i am helping my clients, or anyone in fact who has anxious dog, i ALWAYS talk about where the dog sleeps and what they eat.

For this post, we are focusing on WHERE they sleep..

I don’t know about you, but in my house we have 4 dog beds, 2 sofas and 2 sofa chairs.. guess where Rosco sleeps?

On the Sofa.

Where does he predominately sleep for long restful periods? The sofa.

The sofa is his SAFE place that is also COMFORTABLE, which in turns increase his quality of sleep.

So what makes the sofa safe and not the beds?

Height? Possibly..

But it is more its field of vision, he can see everything from the sofa: the front door, people walking up/down stairs,the corners of the living the room, the drive way,he can HEAR way more too!- Because there are literally no restrictions..

This is SO important when we are thinking about safety we want our dogs to be FEEL safe to AVOID feeling anxious.

So starting by placing the bed  in a ‘safe’ place, it helps our dogs to feel more safe and secure in their homes and out, AND allows them to have a better quality of rest (WIN_WIN)..

Here’s what i mean by ‘safe place’

  • Free from traffic (i.e.people constantly walking past, door ways, near coat closets, bottom of stairs etc)
  • Not in a blind spot ( where the dog’s view is restricted)
  • In corner with vision to the open space
  • With a bed that the dog LOVES.. this is very breed specific so remember to know your breed! For example, Dachshund and Terrier loves to borrow so it might be worth getting a Cave Bed.
  • Easy to get to – the last thing your dog wants do do is climb over 4 different pairs of shoes and under a desk ( unless it likes to hide away)

The safety element really comes from their ancestor the wolf in the den making part to find out more about this then head to my FREE webinar about Understanding your Dog, CLICK HERE.

An easy way to remember where to put your dog’s bed is always have teeth and eyes pointing forward from a corner! #corners-are-the-best

So lets quickly over view how the WRONG bed position can cause anxiety:

Anxiety= Increase Cortisol = Stress

  1. No Place of Safety= Anxiety =Cortisol = Stress= Behaviours
  2. Lack of rest due to traffic= anxiety inside and outside= Cortisol = Stress=behaviour
  3. Anxiety increases arousal = more fearful behaviours + lack of energy + no rest= Cortisol = Stress

It can actually be horrific cycle especially when arousal sets in, and to find out more about that head HERE

Do i still sound crazy? …probably, that’s me though!

It might sound crazy, but put yourself in your dogs paw’s… what would make you feel safe, comfortable and happy?  WHERE in your house would that be? and importantly why would you chose that place?

If you need a support with this one then I’d LOVE to help! Just send me a quick message or picture if you like and we can get everything on the right tracks!

Have fun! <3

 

 

 

Contact | Praise and Paw

Why Recall Doesn’t Work

Recall is a cue that can be very scary for some of us, it is a fear of potentially loosing our dogs into the massive woodland and never seeing them again. Or anxiety sitting on our gut whilst our dog runs to other dogs who may or may or not be friendly.

Its like a minefield! The annoying thing is that our dogs are the most well-behaved dogs in the world when they are indoors, but as soon as we are outside it is as if we don’t exist. Constantly bellowing ‘here’ or going through a list of words in the hope that our dog will respond.

Here’s the TRUTH: Dog’s won’t respond to recall because they don’t like (well they might), but it is because the thing they are doing when they aren’t responding is TEN times more fun and enjoyable.

This can be chasing squirrels, playing with dogs, meeting people or sniffing and tracking scents.

When we get a puppy, the recall training consists of providing a treat when they come to us, and to a puppy who hasn’t quite found his feet yet its the best thing ever. What happens when the puppy finds doesn’t come back to us and instead chases another dog?

lets think about this….

Imagine something you really LOVE to do, exercise, cooking, reading…

For example, i love to eat creams teas.  I receive a massive rush of happiness when i spread the jam and clotted cream over the scone,  followed by the heaven sensation in my taste buds, it provides me with a hormone release of endorphins make me feel amazing and happy.

Then imagine  a friend calling you, informing you to stop what you are doing and go to them. Rude right?

Why would i leave my delicious cream team to follow orders off my friend, who feels like miles away.  Although, i probably would run over after a couple of minutes out of guilt.

Its a similar question to be asking ourselves about training recall, why would are dogs stop something amazing to come back to us? If my friend offered me a boring digestive biscuit, i still wouldn’t come- why? because cream teas are way tastier to me- i would take the digestive biscuit afterwards though ?

And for some of you, you may not be imagining food, you maybe imagining doing a sport or lying on a sun bed with Spanish sun heating your skin- what would MOTIVATE you to respond to that friend?

Go back to imagining your favourite thing to do, for me i am still eating cream teas

This time when your friend calls you, they are going to GIVE you the thing your imagining. MY friend is offering me THREE cream teas that are freshly baked with homemade jam an cream – OF COURSE i am going to run to her, no doubt about it.

This is the same process for our dogs.

Cream teas are all very well but how does this apply to dog training?

Understanding what motivates your dog and what they LOVE to do is how you build a  stress-free, fear-free and anxiety-free recall.

If your dog loves to chase, then incorporate chase into your recall cue.

If your dog loves to play, then incorporate play into your recall cue.

If your dog loves to eat, then incorporate food games into your recall cue.

If your dog loves to herd, then incorporate herd games into your recall cue.

If your dog loves to sniff, then incorporate sniffing games into your recall cue.

Some dogs enjoy all of those, which means you will need  incorporate all of them or finding your dog’s absolute favourite and these will change, so don’t panic if your dog decides to chase one day but wants food the next. When we apply these ‘dog loves’ into our recall training then our dogs will be sprinting to us back like a mouse to its hole.

ALTHOUGH this sounds simple, there are few things to also incorporate and here are my five top recommendations.

Kayleigh’s Five Recommendations…

  1. Use a long line lead (15 metres) when training recall, this prevents the dog running off to experience the listed ‘dog loves’ and gives you control to provide them yourself.
  2. Take a rucksack and make sure its prepared before training, being prepared is key! In this rucksack you will have dog treats that the dog back flips for, a long line lead, a whistle (if that’s the recall you want your dog to respond to) and any games to motivate your dog, e.g ball, flirt pole, tug of war or a box of scents!
  3. Start training in a place with low distractions and a lot of space, dogs are unable to focus in highly distracted places, so your local dog park may not be appropriate but perhaps a field via footpath or hiring a local exercise field.
  4. Find a unique recall cue, this needs be something that no-one else is using and you feel comfortable shouting. ideally, you want to be able to shout this in a high pitch tone as this travels better across long distances- perfect for those sniffers and trackers!
  5. Seek help and advice, if you are unsure how to even get started or don’t understand your dog’s motivation then seek your local dog trainer and they can support you through the initial stages.
  6. LAST ONE, i nearly forgot- HAVE FUN! Dogs love to play games and always seeks positivity – so if anything, make sure you enjoy training as much as your dog!

My Dog is Friendly – What You Need to Know

‘My Dog is Friendly’…I hear this phrase a lot with clients, friends and family and it is often paired with lots of frustration as these ‘dog friendly’ owners are allowing their dogs to roam wherever they want and invading the other dog’s personal space.

There are many ways that we react to this phrase, the main two being polite, or angry.

I have owned various dogs with different temperaments including dogs with aggression, reactivity, nervousness and a dog that gets waaay too excited when it sees another dog. They all have their own unique struggles and i have reacted differently to the ‘ my dog is friendly’ phrase  with each dog.  When i rehomed Rosco from the research centre , i didn’t have strict a training plan as i wanted him to build his confidence in a world he has never lived in, we often walked in quiet places just me and him.  After a month or so i started training for obedience, but this had its struggles. The  first time i let him off lead and he ran to a bunch of dogs with me bellowing  behind ‘he is friendly’ whilst running to fetch him. That’s right, i was that owner everyone shames upon.  I should of been prepared but there was no conflict between me and the other owner, which i was anxiously anticipating. No one is perfect but its the lesson you learn from mistakes that make you close to perfect. Most importantly, everyone has their own journeys with their dogs…

Let’s look at the aggressive and reactive dog, picture this, a lady in a yellow raincoat and blue wellie boots walking _WYM3273a lurcher in the local woodland walk. She plans her walks early to avoid bumping into dogs off lead as she fears her dog would rip its throat out, she feels that she has NO control over her dog and NO way to stop or control a potential dog fight. When she sees a another dog, she is immediately haunted by thoughts of a dog attack, sending anxiety down her fingertips, down the lead and absorbed by her lurcher. This lady has adopted the mindset of ignoring those thoughts, which works when there are no dogs around, but when a dog does appear- that mindset doesn’t work.

This lady got up at 7am and did her normal walk with her lurcher, THEN she spotted a labrador darting towards them both- those haunting thoughts are now real! Her mind is in a state of panic and fear, almost like a magpie flying into your kitchen and not knowing how to get out, it will lose control and let its body’s system take course. The labrador’s owner from the distance ‘shout’s its okay, he is friendly’ …This lady is not reassured and is currently struggling to keep her dog against a tree whilst shoo-ing the labrador past and her lurcher, well he is just a all teeth and hackles at the end of the lead.  Once the owner catches up, the lady says he isn’t friendly and the Labrador owner apologies as he was unaware. After most incidences like this, the body and mind reflects on the situation, this lady was looking for blame, she did everything right, her dog was on lead and muzzled- the man’s labrador was off lead, in the eyes of the Dangerous Dogs Act, she was being responsible. So, her anger is now at the labrador owner who should of had his dog on lead when he saw her dog was on lead.

Now lets imagine the labrador owner, this man walks this labrador for elderly neighbour who cannot walk as much as he used it, and this man loves dogs so he jumped at the opportunity. He tried to  train this labrador too, but some days it is easier just to let him off lead to get rid of his built up energy. Despite some flaws, this labrador is dog friendly as he won’t interact with other dogs unless its mutual, this is because the elderly neighbour invested lots of time and money into the labradors socialisation and training.  So, when this man encounters a dog on a walk, he has full security that his dog won’t react or engage unless its mutual from both dogs, providing him with the up most confidence- but what he struggles with is having the labrador on a lead- hence why he is off lead!

Can we see a clash? Neither the man or lady have control of their dogs in certain situations, similarly there isn’t any communication and understanding between the people and dogs involved.  The only communication between the man and lady, is war.

It is probably impossible to communicate with dog owners over a distance, unless there is a course in being telepathic. But there are things we can do to convert combat into concord….

  1. Be Prepared…

Whether the dog is reactive, over excited, or even a puppy, preparation is key. Preparation covers a whole bunch of things including controlling the dogs arousal levels before leaving the home , and having a protocol to follow if there is an encounter with an unwanted dog. Following an effective protocol in combination with a positive and confident mind set will take away the panic, fear and anxiety and instead restore confidence, control and remove the STRESS! Which, in turn will give the dog a healthy mind set too!

Protocols, preparation and a healthy mind might sound a bit wacky, but trust me, it is not! The great thing is they can be easy if we understand, practice and implement them. These will be individual to each dog and owner but i would be happy to help create one for you, just drop me a message!!

2.   Communicate

This is a tricky one if the dog/dog owner is not visible- so going back to being prepared- know your blind spots and follow the protocol! If the owner is close by then you can verbally communicate with them by stating

‘ Hi there, please can you put your dog on lead whilst you walk past me, my dog is (behaviour problem) and needs space’

The other owner may repeat the ‘phrase he is friendly, its okay’ If this happens, then become more authoritative whilst securing your happy mind set: ” Thank-you, i appreciate that but my dog is very (behaviour problem) and is following training program, which means interactions NEED to be minimal, so please can you put your dog on a lead”. In my experience, i have often exaggerated the behaviour problems but most of the time people will respond accordingly. Treating  and communicating on a mutual level also encourage people to be more co-operative.

If the ‘my dog is friendly’ runs to a dog on lead and there is not any time to correct this behaviour, then apologise in an empathetic manner, such ah “I am so sorry my dog ran to yours and sorry for any stress caused because of this” – THEN get cracking on training recall and connection training- and again follow a protocol!!

Top Question: The Red Lead, the Yellow Bow- why they don’t work…

First of all, they are not visually attracting. I walked Rosco with a red lead last week and a week later with a yellow ribbon, only  1 out of 8 walkers put their dog on a lead.

Why?

Red does resemble danger and text on a lead stating ‘space needed’ communicates a good message but only at short distances. From a long distance, it is not easy for owners to read the text off on the  lead or distinguish if the lead is red or patterned. and what if owners are colour blind?! who knows…

In my mini experiment, i found that owners were not scouting or observing  other dog owners, they were in fact purely  walking their dogs, absorbing the environment or  they were actually on their phone…which to me indicates that as a dog owner population we are not educated or supported enough in colour code system.

As a dog owner and trainer myself, i find the colour code system, printed harnesses and the yellow ribbon a massive misunderstanding- it is a minefield! It baffles me to why we need them, surely if every dog owner was educated in obedience and the importance of respecting fellow dog owners, then we wouldn’t have such a conflict with each other. Perhaps, sticking to one system and maximising the supportive information to every dog owner could increase the likelihood of the adopting the system.

I also think there is a simple solution, see a dog, put a lead on the dog. Regardless of how perfect they are and how they never react, it is respect. I can guarantee everyone by following that solution, it will make a happy owner and happy dog, 100%.

So, what does attract human attention? This is very individual as we are all attracted to various things, some of us will see a dog on lead and automatically put our dogs on lead, others assume that unless it has a muzzle it is friendly – There is one cue, a muzzle

Simply seeing a muzzle can grab peoples attention and they will usually put there dogs on a lead, mostly out of fear/anxiety. What i have found is this pretty cool yellow tabard from Neon Dogs, which my friends with reactive dogs say it works a treat! And it comes in a small bum-bag so perfect when you spot an owner from a distance. I am trialling this out my self soon.

 

 

This advice may not solve your problems and battles with other dog owners and there will be those people who won’t listen and carry on,  but being prepared and knowing 100% how to handle your fears is the step in the right direction, particularly when training but also in day to day life!

Here are you take home messages:

  • Create a protocol- understand arousal, master the art of confidence.
  • Communicate, be honest and stand up for yourself…
  • See dog, put dog on lead.
  • Seek training from a professional for support and guidance.

 

Enjoy your walks, be prepared, communicate, be confident and walk happy!

EASTER 101: Your Chocolate Guide

It is not unsurprising that we see a massive spike in chocolate poisoning during the Easter holidays. According to Statista  80 million Easter Eggs are sold each year in the United Kingdom, and a survey from 2017 found out that there is roughly 10,800,000 dog owners and roughly 8,100,00 cat owners in the United Kingdom, but does everyone know  how to prevent chocolate poisoning?

 

NO DOG’S WERE HARMED IN THESE IMAGES, ROSCO WAS FED A NORMAL TREAT AS THIS WAS A TRAINING EXERCISE.

First, let’s understand why chocolate is poisonous to both dogs and cats. 

The toxic element is theobromine, this a molecule which is made by plants and it is one of the many compounds that is found naturally in chocolate.  Now, if you know your Periodic Table you might believe the element of bromine contributes to compound, but it doesn’t! In fact, theobromine is made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen! The name was invented by biologists who visited cocoa trees and plants in Central and South America, they came up with the name “Theobroma”  and this relates to the family of all cocoa plants and trees.  So where did the ‘ine’ come from on the end? Scientifically speaking, Theobromine is an alkaloid, which is a group of  naturally occurring chemical compounds that all contain nitrogen. Alkaloids share  the ‘ine’ at the their end of their name as it resembles their chemical group, like a chemical nick name!

Theobromine is the toxic element, it is made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, which is a compound in Coffee and Chocolate

Why is it toxic?

Theobromine is toxic and it can be extremely dangerous for dogs, this is because their digestive systems cannot process it efficiently compared our human guts, which is why it’s relatively easy for them to be poisoned. Cats are also at risk, but most cats are very fussy to what they will eat so, are therefore are less likely to eat sweets and chocolate! The amount of theobromine your dog ingests will determine the severity and toxicity, a small amount will cause vomiting and an upset stomach, whilst large amounts of theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to something fatal!

There are a lot of research, blogs, and horror stories that be very scary! Whilst this may sound scary, i am purely providing you with everything you need to know about the toxicity! When Rosco ate a whole box of Thorntons chocolates and a fruit cake whilst i went food shopping, i was panicking he was going to die! When i phoned the vet in emergency hours, she provided me with a toxicity calculator, this identified the ‘toxic level and ‘ what treatment he needed. Luckily, it had only been an hour and half since Rosco indulged in his feast, which meant the chocolate hadn’t been digested, this means that the theobromine did not enter his system (yet).

The vet advised on a drug to make him vomit, along with a charcoal supplement for 2 days.  As you can imagine, the highlight of my weekend was watching Rosco cover three consult rooms with vomit. It wasn’t nice, but it was vital, so if your dog ever eats chocolate- always consult with your local veterinary practice!

But, the annoying thing is the box of chocolates and  the fruit cake was stored on top of a 5ft8 bookshelf, completely out of reach. And with Rosco’s arthritis, we did not expect him reach it!

Regardless where you hide your chocolates, how you can guarantee your dog won’t sniff them out? Just because your dog won’t try it when  you are present in the room, doesn’t mean that they won’t seize the opportunity to indulge as soon as you are out the door!

Remember, dogs are opportunists, they will take opportunities and seek positive rewards and resources.

The other issue with chocolate and theobromine, is that it won’t make your dog immediately sick. So, when you dog is eating the chocolate (unaware of toxicity), it is a pleasurable experience, and they will want to repeat it and keep eating it! IF chocolate made dogs immediately sick when eating it, then dogs will less likely want to eat as it made them feel unwell! This is the principle of operant conditioning, a learning theory which suggests a positive or negative experience will predict an animals behaviour.

This is  impossible to do and i don’t recommend trying it either!

HOWEVER…This is what you can do….

Teach Impulse Control

By teaching impulse control, your teaching self-discipline, which means your dog will develop the ability to control his urges and desires that we find inappropriate! Mastering this, will mean your dog will have the perfect Etiquette!

In regards to eating chocolate, you need to use the methods of ‘do this’ and ‘not that’. Dogs learn best in black and white and no grey areas, and will repeat the number of appropriate behaviours a lot more with positive rewards!

So, here is how we trained Rosco to not interact with the Dairy Milk:20180330_115832.jpg

We put the chocolate bar a feet a way from Rosco, if he went to interact with it, we used the cue ‘Eh-Eh’, which in translates to “don’t do that, try again”. As soon as he retracted   his nose, we gave the marker‘ yes’ and gave him tasty treat! We then increased the distance between Rosco and the chocolate with the same method, to the point where Rosco did not care at all about the chocolate bar and got bored!

Remember to start slowly and be patient, depending on your dog’s motivation and arousal, it may take longer to conquer, if you dog is finding if difficult then increase the distance or have the chocolate bar in your hand: If he interacts with it, move your hand away with the cue ‘Eh-Eh’, wait 3 seconds and present the chocolate again- if he ignores it then mark that behaviour with a ‘yes’ and provide with a reward!

Behaviour Jargon:

  • Marker/Mark: identifies for the animal when it is doing the right thing, this can also a clicker
  • Cue: is a hint, and guide to help the dog perform the correct behaviour that you will mark and reward.

Provide a command

We used an empty Easter Egg box to teach the command of ‘bog’, there is no meaning behind this word, its a word Kaylee likes to say and is easy for dogs to understand as it less likely come up in conversation and it is simple syllables. Be creative!

We created this super amazing box, which is filled with:

We placed the Easter box on the floor, using the same method, ‘do this’ and ‘not that’, when Rosco approached or attempted to interact with the box we used the cue ‘Eh-Eh’, the behaviour we wanted was a calm and relaxed sit- once he did this then we marked it with a ‘yes’ and then said ‘Bog’ and gave him the box, which was the reward! and he loved it!  With some dogs you may need to hold the box if they are  super excited and have a high arousal level!20180330_121003

However, the ‘bog’ commands needs repetition and consistency for dogs to understand what it actually means, which can be achieved between 3-10 sessions depending on the dog!

Behaviour Jargon:

  • Command: is seen as a direct order and is given before a behaviour is learnt.
  • Arousal: This is the level of energy a dog has, which is linked with behaviour outcomes and emotions.

Our top tips for this Easter:

  • If your bedroom door can close, then hide your chocolate Easter eggs on the top shelf in your wardrobe and ensure your bedroom door is locked. This will also save the Easter Bunny time hiding them for his Easter Egg hunt.
  • How about in an indestructible container? Check this out 
  • Do you have a trusted friend or family member who don’t have pets? Maybe ask a favour and see if they can look after your eggs!
  • Set boobitraps! take your chocolate eggs out of the boxes and leave the empty box. If your dog gets the box down, then he won’t get anything out of it, and (hopefully) it can decrease the likelihood of him jumping up in the future. 20180330_115719

As always, ensure your dog is receiving a sufficient amount of exercise, mental stimulation and play, as well as a balanced nutritious diet for their breed, age and life stage!