The latest from our blog

Preparing clients appropriately for firework period

October 11th 2018

(Featured in Vet Nurse Times, October 2018)   Fear responses to noises are a common problem and represent a serious welfare issue for dogs. It is customary for veterinary practices to produce displays outlining advice to owners for the firework period sometime close to the season. At this stage, advice typically includes building a den, plugging in an Adaptil diffuser and ignoring the dog if it seeks attention. But how useful are these tips just a few weeks before fireworks usually begin? How can these standard instructions be adjusted to maximise success in reducing fear responses and improving coping strategies […]

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Multi-dog households: Introducing a new dog to a home with one or more existing dogs

October 11th 2018

(Written for the International Association for the Protection & Welfare of Animals http://iapwa.org ) The initial introduction between a rescue dog or puppy to a household with an existing dog (or dogs) is so important yet is often overlooked, with the new addition being taken straight into the home to meet its new housemate(s). Everyone tends to assume all of the dogs involved will just sort themselves out. However, the reality is that the newcomer has a) just been taken away from everything familiar, b) experienced a journey of variable length, c) met new people, d) encountered an unfamiliar environment – and […]

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Ask The Expert

October 10th 2018

(Featured in February 2017 veterinary publication ‘Companion’) Fear aggression in the vet practice.   Personally I have seen how socials can make a massive difference especially in a young dog.  What is the best way to carry out a social and any top tips?    When dogs are brought into the veterinary practice they experience some or all of the following: Invasion of personal space and restraint by unfamiliar individuals; unusual and aversive smells, noises and floor surfaces; pain (either delivered to them or already in pain when they are brought in); being placed up high on a table where […]

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The link between pain and behaviour

August 20th 2017

Recently I was referred a case of a fearful dog. The referring vet was suspicious that the dog had something medically abnormal and had run some bloods but wanted the client to receive some behavioural advice whilst waiting for the results. Laika the young rescue dog was a little joy when I met her. A tiny little Staffie-cross who quickly requested some cuddles. She was adorable.   Laika was tiny because she was underweight. The owners struggled to get weight on her and this was the vet’s main concern and reason for investigation. Although Laika was initiating cuddles during my […]

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PUPPIES!

February 15th 2017

Following on from my last two blog posts about owners who decided to obtain a rescue dog instead of a puppy, this blog post is all about how we can help reduce the number of dogs that end up in rescue in the first place. I have no qualms with admitting that both of my dogs were obtained as puppies. I researched the breeders thoroughly. I ensured that the parents were of sound temperaments. The puppies were reared in an enriched, domestic environment. Socialisation was well underway by the breeders. I selected my breed choices carefully. I then ensured that […]

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Play is good for the body & brain

February 8th 2017

(Published in Your Cat magazine, January 2017) Lots of scientific evidence shows that – in both human and non-human animals – play is good for the brain. Grizzly Bears that play the most, survive the longest. Rats that play more with other rats develop bigger, more complex brains. Play stimulates nerve growth in the portions of the brain that process emotions and executive function. The International Society of Feline Medicine and the American Association of Feline Practitioners state that providing toys and opportunities for play is one of the five pillars of a healthy environment for cats. Indeed, it has […]

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Part 2 – Getting a rescue dog vs a puppy

January 6th 2017

In the second part of this blog, I wanted to ask an owner of a rescue dog some questions about their choice of a rescue over a puppy, and the journey they have been on. Here is Gemma’s story:   Why did you choose a rescue dog over a puppy?   Despite having dogs from puppyhood when I was growing up, I realized the issue relating to over-breeding of dogs with so many unwanted dogs in shelters and being put to sleep. I simply felt that getting a puppy was wrong! We started trawling the websites of rehoming centres, through […]

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Part 1 – Getting a Rescue Dog vs a Puppy

November 15th 2016

Many people dismiss the idea of getting a rescue dog due to the paranoia of ending up with a dog with “baggage”, or because they don’t want to miss out on the cute puppy phase of development. It is often assumed – or hoped – that obtaining a puppy means it can be shaped into the dream dog. But the realities are quite different: 1 in 5 people who buy a puppy don’t have that puppy 3 years later. Even well-researched puppies with experienced owners are not immune from developing behavioural problems. Many rescue dogs are looking for new homes […]

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Legal responsibilities of all dog owners

September 1st 2016

As a responsible dog owner, it is important you understand dog laws in order to protect yourself, your dog and others around you. Many dog owners may not realise there are so many laws relevant to them, or will feel that the risks associated with these laws are low in terms of consequences. It is worth noting that there are many solicitors dedicated purely to Dog Law and many behaviourists offering their services as Expert Witnesses due to the number of reports made, and Dog Wardens are inundated with calls reporting irresponsible dog ownership. More than 35 acts of parliament […]

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Spreading the message on dogs & children

August 28th 2016

Recently I was contacted by BBC Points West and asked to produce a short film summarising my advice on interactions between children and dogs. With 20 minutes’ notice and a large glass of wine already consumed (well, it was Friday night), the recording was made and off I went to bed. It was live on the BBC Points West Facebook page by midnight… and by the morning it had 16,000 views. Within 5 days it had been seen by 200,000 people. Imagine if two minutes of simple advice could prevent even 1 child from being bitten? Imagine if the message […]

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Musings of a behaviourist (after one of those weeks)…

June 5th 2016

It is well-known that professionals working in the care industry – whether that be animal care or human care – have one of the highest rates of burnout, compassion fatigue and even suicide. Recently the manager of an animal rescue shelter in Taiwan took her own life due to receiving so much hate-mail for having to euthanize some of the animals that came into the centre. In 2014, a internationally renowned veterinary behaviourist, pioneering in low-stress handling techniques, tragically took her own life. I have yet to meet anyone who works in the animal care industry that isn’t completely passionate […]

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