Over 10,000 Dogs A Year Are Unwanted Pets

dog-in-poundChoosing to buy or adopt a dog is not a decision that should be taken lightly, yet it seems people are still not taking the implications of dog ownership seriously as over 10,000 dogs are handed in to pounds each year because they were unwanted pets.

Shocking new statistics show that of the 17,477 dogs and puppies that entered the pound system last year, 10,574 were voluntarily handed over by their owners as they were no longer wanted.

It is said that the average cost of keeping a dog is £1,500 a year and that the rise in the number of dogs voluntarily handed in to pounds could be down to the recent economic downturn but is this a good enough reason for giving up your pet? Surely when you decide to become a dog owner you should consider cost of dog ownership above all else?

According to the executive director of the Dogs Trust, Mark Beazley most of the dogs handed in are put down the same day, or within a few days of arriving at the pound.

“When a dog is picked up by a dog warden and enters the pound system as a stray, the pound has a legal obligation to keep the dog for five days in case the owner comes forward in search of their pet,” said Mr Beazley. “But when a dog is handed in by its owner there is no legal obligation to keep it for any length of time.”

However the Dogs Trust, whose policy is to ‘never destroy a healthy dog’, works to re-home as many of the animals handed in to the pound as possible. They also ensure checks are made to ensure the adoptive families are aware of all implications of dog ownership and are able to provide the long-term commitment dog ownership brings.

According to the Department of the Environment, 29 dogs enter the system on a daily basis. So please, if you’re planning on becoming a dog owner think carefully and ensure you are fully aware of the commitment and finances involved and if you are still sure that you want a dog then why not visit your local Dogs Trust or RSPCA branch and give a new home to one of these unwanted dogs.

Dogs Trust: http://www.dogstrust.org.uk

RSPCA: http://www.rspca.org.uk

Oh No! Not the Snow Again

Yorkshire has been hit once again by another wave of snow. It’s a whiteout, and while our children rejoice from the schools being closed and the fact they can spend the weekend sledging and building snowmen our pooches may not be quite so happy.

The cold snow and frost can play havoc with their paws causing cracking, drying and in more extreme cases frostbite. Make sure you winter proof your dog’s paws by adding a layer of Vaseline or similar petroleum jelly brand to the pads of their feet before they venture out into the cold. It’s great for protection, moisturisation and prevention of more serious pad-related complaints.

Summer and the Snow

But it’s not just our dogs paws that can be affected by the snow. For dogs with long hair the snow can stick, as demonstrated by my own beloved pooch, Summer (left).

These snow clumps can be uncomfortable for your dog and the only easy way we have found to remove them in by popping our dogs under the shower. If you do know of any preventative measures then please let me know!

If you just find this an issue around the paws then you can reduce this happening by keeping the hair under the paws trimmed short so there is no hair for the snow to cling to.

Whatever your plans this weekend, if the snow hasn’t disrupted them, enjoy yourself and don’t forget that a pot of petroleum jelly is not just a girls (and possibly and man’s second) best friend (for lips and eyes) but also a great friend for your dogs feet too!

 

Top Tips for Choosing a Puppy

Schnauzer PuppiesChoosing a puppy can be the hardest decision ever. As you turn up to take your pick from the litter that consists of four or five adorable, tiny bundles of fur your head soon becomes overruled by your heart as you coo over these sweet and innocent creatures stumbling around uncoordinated. Hey, we’ve all done it right?

So here are my top tips for making sure you choose a healthy puppy who will give you years of loyalty and love.

Meet Mum and Dad – Seeing the parents of your pup-to-be can give you an indication of what their temperament may be like. Are the parents loud and aggressive, shy and timid or friendly and welcoming?

Interaction with peers – You want an active, playful pup but not one who ‘bullies’ his siblings or recluses from the others.

Confidence – Is the puppy confident enough to come strutting over to investigate you further, with head high and tail wagging?

Body Shape – The puppy should be nice and round (not skinny, no matter what breed as all puppies are ‘rounded’ until around four months old when they begin to take the shape of their breed – such as greyhounds).

Eyes – Should be bright with no discharge or gunk

Ears – Should be clean with no dirt, debris or discharge

Gums and Teeth – Gums should be a nice pink colour; teeth should be clean and white.

Bum – Yep, it’s not just dogs that check each other’s bums out; you’re going to have to take a peek too! Check pups rear end to make sure it is clean with no signs of worms or discharge/diarrhoea.

Hearing – Wait until your chosen puppy is distracted playing with someone else or with his siblings then drop your keys or stamp your foot. He should react by either looking around to see where the noise came from or may jump; if he shows no reaction then he may have hearing problems or be deaf.

Touch – Is he happy to be touched? Can you pick him up and cuddle him or does he struggle to get away? A puppy should be happy and enjoy human interaction; if he struggles to get away then you may face problems in the future.

What Breed is Best?

There are so many sites out there giving advice on what breed of dog to choose, even breed selector tools, but with over 300 different breeds of dog in the world, it’s no wonder deciding which breed is the best can be such a difficult task.

However, it’s not just looks and names you should be considering when buying a dog. You should also take a look at your own lifestyle and circumstances, as these will also have an impact on the choice of dog that would be best for you.

The following are things you should consider when making your decision:

  • Size – Are you looking for large and fluffy or small and dainty?
  • How much time can you commit to exercising your dog? – Are you at work most of the day, or are you available to take your dog for 3-4 walks a day? Some breeds need far more exercise than others, especially the large working dogs such as German Shepherds and Border Collies.
  • How often will you be able to groom your dog? – Long haired dogs will need grooming daily.
  • Are you looking for a dog that won’t shed fur? – Some breeds, like the Miniature Schnauzer don’t moult, which is especially good for those suffering from pet hair allergies.
  • How long will the dog be left alone each day? – Dogs like company and may get bored if left alone for long periods. A lonely dog can become a destructive dog!
  • Is the dog going to be a family pet? – Some breeds are notorious for not being the most child-friendly; they can be big and clumsy or a little jealous and snappy, whereas others make excellent family pets.
  • Noise Levels – How much noise can you (or your neighbours) tolerate? Small dogs tend to be known as ‘yappy’ dogs – I know ours are!

You can get more advice on the different breeds here: http://uk.pedigree.com/health-and-training/are-you-ready-to-own-a-dog/which-breed-of-dog-or-puppy-is-right-for-you

Or you can try out a selector tool here: http://www.purina.co.uk/content/the-right-pet-for-you/choosing-a-dog/dog-breed-selector

Time To Train Your Dog

Congratulations!  If you’ve been adding a second a day to your dog’s down stay you have a dog who can stay in the down position for seven seconds between treats.  Good job!  One of the most important things you will learn with the down stay is patience.

If they mess up, remember, don’t scold them.  Ignore them for thirty seconds or so then go back to training.  Since your puppy isn’t completely sure what you are asking of him, it does no good to scold him and can be damaging to your relationship.

So, back to work.  This time, I want you to put your dog into a down stay.  Keep him there for seven seconds and give him a treat.  Then count three seconds and give him another treat.  The next time go for ten seconds before offering the treat.  By doing this, you are not allowing your dog…

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Time To Train Your Dog

A down stay is when your dog is in the down position on the floor and they are required to remain in that position until you release them from it.  While you are teaching your dog to do a down stay it is imperative that you do not allow yourself to have unrealistic expectations.

This is a more difficult task and you must take time to increase the amount of time you intend to have your dog hold the position.  For your first experience, you will only require a few seconds.  Over the course of the week, you can raise it by a few seconds at the time.

To Get Started:

  • Get your treat bag and fill it with some yummy puppy treats.
  • Get your dog.
  • Get comfortable on the floor with your dog.

Now, you are ready.  Ask your dog to “down.”  If you haven’t taught the

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With the Winter Weather Comes a Warning for Dog Owners

Man walking dog in snowWith the return of the snow comes a warning from Animal Charities to protect our dogs from the dangers of rock salt and anti-freeze.

With the snow upon us once again roads are being regularly gritted which is good for motorists but not so great for our dogs, or cats, as hundreds of pets are becoming seriously ill and in some cases dying because of the rock salt and antifreeze being used.

Animal charities say the public should take extra care when using anti-freeze and mop up any spillages. Pet owners were also advised to clean animals’ paws if they have been outside or walking over gritted roads by washing their paws down in clean water once home and also to clip the fur to keep it short.

The danger comes when dogs and cats who have walked through the substances left by gritters trying to clear roads and car drivers defrosting their windscreens begin licking the residue from their paws thus ingesting the chemicals and becoming ill.

The symptoms of ingesting anti-freeze include vomiting, seizures, appearing sleepy and a heightened breathing rate.

Symptoms of consuming rock salt – which contains the same ingredient as table salt, sodium chloride, but also has harmful chemicals such as magnesium – include burns to the mouth and throat and excessive salivating and drinking.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: ‘Owners should contact a vet immediately if they suspect that their pet may have been in contact with these substances or if they see any warning signs or symptoms.

‘The sooner they are treated, the better their chances of surviving.’

For the Love of a Dog

Schnauzer SleepingI often watch her as she sleeps. Watching how her chest rises and falls with every breath. This tiny being is so precious to me and has filled my life with such joy. My baby, Summer. Yet Summer is not a human baby, she is my 2-year-old Miniature Schnauzer.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way about their dog. We are a nation of dog lovers and enthusiasts, with 1 in 3 households owning a pet dog. We welcome these four-legged creatures into our homes, buying them toys and beds and pretty clothes. But are we guilty of humanising our pets to suit our own needs?

Posh PoochA 1995 survey of pet owners, carried out by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) showed that 21% of us dressed our dogs, and 33% of us talked to our pets on the telephone. Over the years we have approached new extremes as our dogs can now indulge in spa days and are regulars at the dog grooming parlour. We carry their pictures in our purses or wallets, and are forever taking snaps of them on our mobile phones. Even our weekly magazines have pages dedicated to the love of our pets. In many case, we treat our dogs better than we do our partners. Shockingly a 2011 UK survey carried out by M&S Pet Insurance revealed that almost half of us would choose our pets over our partners. With two thirds of us cancelling our plans if our dogs fell ill.

The saying that a dog is mans – and woman’s – best friend has never been further from the truth. It is this level of friendship, and the bonds we build with out pets that makes us choose dogs as our long term companions. Eighty percent of those surveyed by the AAHA said their main reason for pet ownership was due to companionship, with 72 percent saying affection was their pets’ most endearing feature. Research supported further when a 2011 UK survey carried out by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) discovered that 39% of Londoners choose a dog for companionship even though London has a population of approximately 7.5 million.

Woman and DogIt appears that dogs are no longer just a family pet, with more and more single people choosing a dog to share their lives. Two thirds of who had replaced their estranged partner with a canine. Well, I guess they won’t leave the toilet seat up! So what do dogs offer us that humans can’t? Consider when you come home from work, does your dog run to the door to greet you with their tail wagging and their eyes shining with excitement? Such actions can make an empty house much more appealing. Our dogs display undeniable signs of affection and loyalty. Summer often wants picking up for a kiss and cuddle when I get home. She also spends most of her time cuddled up beside me, or curled up on my partner’s chest with her head buried into his neck.

Dog LoveTo us, these are displays of her affection towards us, one of the many visible forms of emotion identified during a canine behaviour study carried out by Professor Marc Bekoff, of the University of Colorado. He also discovered that along with affection, other emotions displayed by our four legged friends are a love of company and friends, anxiety and fear, embarrassment and remorse, grief and loss, and jealousy and resentment.

All of these are traits we can identify and relate to with our pets. Jealousy can often be seen when cuddling with your partner and the dog will often step in between to separate them. Tales can be heard of boyfriends having to sit on different sofas to their dates due to the dog giving warning growls of jealousy!  Fear can often be displayed through aggression by barking at passers by, or by seeking out reassurance on Bonfire Night when the fireworks are going off.  They show signs of remorse when they have done something wrong, and we usually identify this by their sheepish look and tail between their legs.

There is also another emotion I would like to add and that is moodiness, a trait often displayed by my own dog. When she has what I call “the hump” she will sit on the opposite sofa to me, sighing loudly and looking up at my from beneath her long eyebrows when she thinks I’m not looking. When our gaze meets she quickly looks away and resumes the loud sighs. These quirks are just another side to their lovable personalities and are what make our dogs so unique and special to us.

Dog CuddlesAs dog owners we form great bonds with our beloved pets, with many modern day couples opting to own dogs instead of have children. The AAHA found that 55 percent of pet owners consider themselves as mum or dad to their pets, and 58 percent of American dog owners are comfortable calling themselves nicknames such as “Mommy” and “Daddy” when referencing their dogs according to a Pet Parent Survey released in May 2011 by Milo’s Kitchen™. Seventy-seven percent also owned up to talking about their pups as if they are a human family member. I am guilty of all of the above!

So perhaps the humanising of our pets is down to our nurturing instinct. We want to care for and protect our dogs, as though they were our children. This would explain our urge to dress them in seasonal costumes, and sparkly collars. We are spoiling our pets like we would our own offspring. So whether or not we choose our dogs as companions or children, it is apparent our treatment of them is more that of equals than master/owner. We rely on our dogs to be there when we need them, to give us cuddles at the end of a hard day and to always love us no matter what mistakes we may make in life. Our dogs offer us unconditional love. Is it any surprise we offer the same back?