Mary

/Jog My Dog

About Jog My Dog

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So far Jog My Dog has created 69 blog entries.

Anger Management: 7 Day Challenge (day 1)

Grizzle’s 7 Day Challenge started on Thursday 4th August. I picked this day as the first one where my partner was away … and you know what they say: there’s nothing like taking responsibility when there’s simply no one else around to blame. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, so much about our pets behaviour starts with us – their owners, carers and dog walkers. It’s easy to blame the dog for what they’re doing wrong, yet in their mind it isn’t wrong at all, just normal behaviour that they feel is appropriate in relation to the threat they are encountering at the time (by threat I also mean just the given situation, it may not seem “scary” or “threatening” to us as humans but in a dogs world it may well could be). Important to remember as well, when dealing with a reactive dog, is Trigger Stacking. Put one stressful situation on top of another, on top of another and then BAM you have a dog who suddenly explodes for no reason at all. Well there is a reason (in fact it’s many little reasons) but the final straw may have been nothing at all, and under different circumstances would have caused no reaction whatsoever, however in culmination with all the other events results in a dog who is taken way over his comfortable stress levels and reacts defensively (or aggressively).

For more info on Trigger Stacking check out this great article available here >  https://woofliketomeet.com/2016/03/trigger-stacking-how-we-set-our-dogs-up-to-fail/

trigger stacking

 

The schedule for day 1 was pretty quiet which was great. We had just two dogs in day care and one walk mid-day. One of the dogs in day care is Molly (a puppy who Grizzle has always been fond of), we also had Del (a young female dog who is reactive but very friendly with Grizzle), finally our walk was with little Boycie a teeny tiny Dachi who is scared of his own shadow. Walks with Boycie are no issue whatsoever, he wouldn’t hurt a fly! ūüôā

I decided to pick Del up early so we could do a woodland walk before picking up Molly – as a puppy she can’t really walk far yet and play time sessions don’t give a dog who likes to walk everything he needs. So we were up at the crack of dawn and over to Woburn Sands for young Del. You’d thick there wouldn’t be many people in the woods at 7am but we did bump into one just as were entered the wood. I saw her and the dog in the distance before Del or Grizzle did so brought them to one side and tossed some cheese onto the ground and asked them to “Find It” (this is their queue to put noses to the ground and search out the morsels of cheese). What a result, they didn’t even spot the dog or owner and we were able to carry on our merry way. I felt on top of the moon with how I handled the situation and kept fussing over Grizzle as we walked back to the van and drove home.

The next step was getting out of the van and back into the house. Waiting for the bridge to be shut and crossing the canal with a few dogs is always a bit tricky, most of them love to react to all the people sauntering about and there are usually a few dogs on boats or waiting for their owners so it can be chaos. Had I taken Grizzle and Del out into the house together would have meant we failed the no outburst challenge on day one so I’m glad I made the decision to bring Del across first and then go back for Grizzle. Having just one dog means you can focus on distracting them (the Mark and Move training being used here!) and get them into the house without much fuss. It was worth the extra trip, Grizzle stayed focused on me and was able to settle down for a nice long nap.

Once they woke we did the same but in reverse to get them back into the van and over to Brogborough. Though Del is reactive I chose to bring her with us as the location we walk is so remote we never see a soul. We picked up Boycie and headed out for another hours walk; however, typically someone was coming up the lane as we were headed back and they had a dog with them. I used the same tactic of distracting them with cheese scattered on the ground but this time Del wasn’t buying it and lunged barking at the dog and person. Not necessarily aggressive but loud and a bit over the top nonetheless. I’m proud to say that Grizzle didn’t react at all, he was very keen on finding that cheese and didn’t seem to notice what was going on. We’re lucky I guess in how food motivated Grizzle is, he’s obsessed with treats – especially sausage and cheese – so will do pretty much anything for some.

That was our day over with, he settled down for a snooze while I brought the doggies home. I couldn’t believe how well he did and how focused I seemed to be too. Was it the fact I had called it our 7 Day Challenge or did I finally see just how important this all was to him? Either way … I was excited to see how we’d do on Day 2 .. !

 

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Jog My Dog is a small, friendly and professional company offering home boarding, puppy visits, doggy day care, cat visits and dog walking services in Milton Keynes and the surrounding villages of Bow Brickhill, Brickhill Sands, Little Brickhill, Great Brickhill, Aspley Guise, Woburn, Woburn Sands, Brogborough, Linslade, Stoke Hammond and Soulbury.

Registered, Insured, Knowledgeable and Experienced, we take the job of pet care seriously. So whether you’re looking for a cat sitter for your weekend away or regular runs for your dog while you’re at work, we can help! Get in touch to book your pet sitter and dog walker in Milton Keynes today.

Anger Management: Background and Lessons Learned

I haven’t posted about this yet but I felt now was the time. My own dog, Grizzle, came to us as a puppy – 9 weeks old to be exact. He was from a superb breeder over Norfolk way and was in a litter of 4, with mother present along with a number of other breeding bitches and dogs. He was of good health and a superb temperament, in fact it was his confident assertive nature which drew my partner to him and …. the rest they say is history!

We live in a cottage on the canal right next to the lock so from the minute he got home he was faced with all the noises and disturbances you could wish for with regards socializing a young pup. There were dogs galore and he saw twenty plus daily. As soon as he was old enough he was out and about sniffing, barking at and playing with the dogs passing by. Only once was he “attacked” as a youngster and though the other dog did grab hold of his fur there was no broken skin and it didn’t dampen his spirits, nor stop him from running up to play with every dog in sight. So much did he want to play that we really found it quite a nuisance from time to time, letting him off the lead always meant we’d be chasing him down the path as he tore off after a dog in the distant horizon. Never did he growl, attack or in any way cause a fight with another dog. We thought we’d done him proud and sat back to enjoy the next 14 years together. Indeed, it was at this point that I felt certain in my decision to start Jog My Dog, not only was it a long-standing passion, here I had myself a superbly friendly dog who thrived on being with his kind, what more could you ask for. No more long lonely days for my little man, soon he would be out and about with me playing with a new dog (or six!) each day.

I should interject at this point that in March 2016 Grizzle was approximately 18 months old. He was never a ‘humper’ nor did he run off after females in heat particularly. He was still going out with the previous dog walking company, however, there was a change with the walkers and I could observe on the webcam a change in him. He was nervous prior to the visit with wide eyes and ears back. When my partner returned from work he would find him shaking on the couch. We will never know what happened during this final month and I am conscious not to lay blame on the new walker for his behaviour (then and now), yet I mention it as it forms an integral part to the story which is being told.

At this same point in time Grizzle used to play with another local doggy named Hamish. He was a French Bulldog and would have been coming up to five or six months old. His owner would walk past our property so they could play … and boy did they! In and out of the house, chasing each other, picking up sticks and wizzing around the canal happily. One day, however, after ten minutes of such antics Grizzle went mad at young Hamish. This happened more than once as the owner was keen to “make them get along” – truth be told we were all a bit surprised and did much mulling as to what the cause could have been. The decision we made was to get him neutered by way of chemical castration. This is essentially an implant which mimics neutering as it reduces the levels of testosterone in the dog. It took awhile to take effect but after approximately six weeks Grizzle’s balls shrunk and he cocked his leg less. However, he still disliked Hamish!

It was May now and business has begun with lots of dogs coming over for day care and boarding. Although none of them were aggressive in nature, a fair few were dominant and, in reflection, made Grizzle feel nervous. You always look back with 20/20 vision and see things that were completely oblivious to you at the time. For instance, I had two lovely little male (miniature) Schnauzers over to board for a week, I joked at the time that they were “little furry sergeants” because of the way they stopped any playing going on by charging up to the dogs and barking in their face. One of the other dogs that also stayed in May was huge and every time he wagged his tail it would slap poor Grizzle in the face. While this is all going on Grizzle’s hormones are flying all over the place and with new dogs coming in and out of the house, joining him for walks, etc he must not have known what was going on.

I feel dreadfully selfish and ignorant in how I handled the month of May and June. I was blind sighted by the need to accept all the customer inquiries and assumed that my dog who loved dogs would carry on loving them and be fine with his new life. But he wasn’t fine. He’s not an early riser and loves nothing more than quiet snoozes on the couch. Yes he loved to play but what I hadn’t considered is what he loved to do when not playing. He likes routine, he likes his walks to be about swimming and chasing sticks. That’s it! He’s not a “normal” dog in that he won’t just trot down the road and go for a walk because that’s what dogs do … no, he likes his walks to be about games and entertainment. I didn’t cater to this in that first month or two either. He was brought along on all the walks because I thought he was enjoying himself. How wrong was I.

The result of my mistakes is what we are now dealing with: a dog who adores playing with the dogs he knows (all those around where we live and any he met between 9 weeks and June this year), yet hesitant, wary and scared of a lot of new dogs. I say ‘a lot’ and not ‘any’ because he does still get on with dogs he meets out and about but it’s 20/80 I would say, with more winding him up than making him feel happy and relaxed. He doesn’t even give them, or him, a chance to sniff and meet on neutral terms. He’s straight in with a bark in an attempt to scare them off. It’s like he just doesn’t want them near him. In my head I saw it as his way of saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH MOM!!

We got the picture and brought in the big guns by way of a 1 on 1 behaviour ¬†training session with Ellie Haines from Haines Hounds (if you’re struggling with training your dog do give her a ring, she’s fab). Having my reflections confirmed by an outsider just brought the whole thing home even more. This was a creation of my own doing, yes I think something happened with the new dog walker back in March … yes doing the chemical castration couldn’t have helped but importantly I hadn’t considered the emotional and physical needs of my own dog and that’s pretty bad. I am a huge animal lover and thrive on seeing them happy and healthy, animal welfare is such a huge part of why I started the business, yet here I was neglecting the needs of my own dog.

Ellie suggested we reduce Grizzle’s time with all dogs, unless they were bombproof and not reactive in any way. Did you know that reactive doesn’t just mean aggressive? Your dog is reactive if they lunge and bark at a cyclist or jogger, if they bark excessively at the postman or just random people walking by, if they charge up to any dog in the park circling it and barking (tail wagging or not). Most of the dogs I walk, board or have in day care are reactive in some way. This posed a little challenge and I did find myself taking Grizzle out on walks he shouldn’t have joined us for and the other dogs barking and lunging – friendly or otherwise – seemed to compound the problem for our little man, in his head it was reaffirming that these “others” (in this case dogs) were some kind of threat, he felt it and the dogs he was being walked with must have too which is why they were barking like mad. Let’s all bark … and lunge … and cause mayhem!

I think it took the problem getting worse for me to see it for what it was and take it really seriously. I also turned 32 on the 1st August and did a fair bit of soul searching as to what these last couple of months had been about and decided that it was time to stop worrying about what’s around the corner but instead to focus on providing a top notch service in the remits of what I could physically do with having a dog who is reactive of new dogs both in his territory and out on walks. I started to look for help with day care and boarding as the safety and happiness of our client’s dogs is of paramount importance. I moved some dogs from day care over to walks and am no longer taking home boarding clients into our own cottage until further notice. Grizzle doesn’t join all the walks, in fact he goes on very few now. Instead I, or my partner, wake up early to take him on an individual walk first thing in the morning, doing all those things he loves so much. The same in the evening. During the day he takes long lazy naps alone in bed or on the couch. And do you know what? Instead of missing the doggy activity he seems grateful for the peace and quiet. He takes himself up to bed when we come back from one of our little group walks, even if he enjoyed being out with a particular pack, he does seem to just want to get away and be alone.

This new arrangement has taken a huge weight off my shoulders. It’s not what I had originally planned, or indeed wanted for my dog, but it’s the situation we’re in and I’m going to make the best of it. Business is booming and I get to not only spend hours in the day playing with my clients dogs, cats and other small furries, I’m also able to give individualized attention to my own pets; instead of his issues getting me down I now see them as an opportunity to truly observe canine behaviour and practice what I learned in my Foundations course earlier in the year. I’m also more in tune with the emotions of dogs and believe more than ever that pet care is more than providing food, water and a daily walk. Owners, and critically us pet care professionals, have a duty to be paying due attention to what’s going on WITHIN the animal. Emotions, feelings and states of mind impact the physical health of the animal so if they are awry and skewy we can expect things like frustration, fear-based anxiety and aggression to present themselves, along with a host of other physical symptoms of stress. I’m dissapointed in myself that I didn’t get to this place without all of the above, however I am simultaneously grateful that I did grasp it in time. I am confident Grizzle will improve and come to love all new dogs again one day, yet importantly I’m not worried even if he doesn’t. We have come up with a system that works for the business, for us and for him and we will continue to love him as we always have done.

I have titled this blog post as Anger Management as this is the new way I describe the rather odd behaviour we practice when we see another dog (we’re doing Mark & Move from Grisha Steward – essentially Grizzle see’s a dog, we click and move away from the target (i.e. the dog) and treat him with a really high value snack. This helps him associate the trigger with moving away and something good – the treat!). People always look at us and shout out “oh don’t worry, my dog is friendly” … instead of feeling stressed by it (as their dog continues to approach us) I now laugh and say “well mine might not be, he has Anger Management Issues which we’re working through”. Everyone chuckles and it lightens the mood. It’s easy to get frustrated with the behaviour of your own dog, people or dogs in general … forever throwing pebbles in our way tripping us up. I don’t want to feel bad on behalf of my dog and I don’t particularly want to make others feel bad because of theirs. So I turn it into a joke and we all have a bit of a laugh at our dogs expense. Isn’t that a far better way of behaving? I like to thick so.

To end this rather long blog post I should say that on Thursday last week I decided to take Grizzle up on a 7 day challenge. His ‘dad’ (my partner) is away on holiday and I felt it was as good a time as any to see if we could make it through 7 days without him lashing out or growling at another dog. If you’re interested in following Grizzle’s journey (out of curiosity or perhaps you have a reactive dog yourself) make sure to look out for all blog posts titled ‘Anger Management’ …

I look forward to sharing more of our journey with you!

 

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Jog My Dog is a small, friendly and professional company offering home boarding, puppy visits, doggy day care, cat visits and dog walking services in Milton Keynes and the surrounding villages of Bow Brickhill, Brickhill Sands, Little Brickhill, Great Brickhill, Aspley Guise, Woburn, Woburn Sands, Brogborough, Linslade, Stoke Hammond and Soulbury.

Registered, Insured, Knowledgeable and Experienced, we take the job of pet care seriously. So whether you’re looking for a cat sitter for your weekend away or regular runs for your dog while you’re at work, we can help! Get in touch to book your pet sitter and dog walker in Milton Keynes today.

The difference between pet care professionals

The pet care industry is booming! The UK is a country mad about pets. In 2015 the UK pet population is estimated at 7.4 million cats and 8.5 million dogs with 1 in 2 households owning a pet (fish not included). This equates to approximately 20 million pets owned in the UK. So it’s no wonder pet business after pet business seem to be springing up.

It’s important to understand, however, the difference between “a love of pets” and a knowledge of feline and canine behaviour, an appreciation for animal welfare, customer service and business acumen. This is the cornerstone that makes a true professional pet care business stand out from all the other run of the mill operations out there, be they one man bands or those with 15+ sitters.

Anyone can pick up a lead and head out for a walk. 9 times out of 10 nothing out of the ordinary happens. A walk is a walk is a walk. Dogs¬†usually¬†get on. They¬†usually¬†come back when called. They¬†usually behave normally and don’t present with symptoms of illness or stress. However, what happens if they do? Does your pet lover know what to do in all of these scenarios? Have they thought of what to do if your dog runs away when out on a walk? Can they spot the signs of stress? Are they equipped to break up a fight?

Many people start up pet care businesses with genuine intentions: they love pets and believe that walking a few dogs or feeding some cats would not only give them a supplemental income but allow them to play with all those lovely animals they adore. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this concept, indeed it works for many a household across the UK, it fails to consider the disastrous consequences that can occur when something goes wrong.

What should you look for in a pet care professional?

  • The “Reason” –¬†I put this as point number one because to me it is the most important. Ask your pet care professional WHY they are doing what they are doing. Are they looking to fill a few hours in the day? Are they walking dogs till something better comes along? This will help you decide on whether the company is the one for you. Often businesses, or individuals, who don’t have a “meaty” answer will be the same ones who let you down a few days before your holiday, having cancelled because something else has come along. If they don’t take their own businesses seriously then there’s a good chance they won’t take the care of your pet seriously
  • Business Values – What values do your pet sitters stand by? What’s the ethos of the business? What are they passionate about? It could be anything from rescues to training to behaviour to nutrition. But I think it should be something. Pets are family to so many of us and I don’t know about you but if I’m going to have someone looking after my pets then I want to know what makes them PASSIONATE about it – what makes them tick, why are they doing what they are doing. If they cannot display a drive and enthusiasm for pet care¬†then think again. This job is more about passion than money: it’s a dirty job, a tiring job, a thankless job (yup, those dogs and cats can’t talk yet!) so your pet care professional needs to be doing it for something else –¬†you, the client, should find out what that is
  • Systems – What systems are in place to deal with situations that occur. This could be a dog getting lost, fights breaking out, illnesses, cancellations and scheduling. A professional pet care company will have considered all these scenarios and have plans in place to deal with them. Systems are what ensure your pet is visited on time every time, they are what gives you peace of mind, they are how we communicate effectively with you … so don’t be afraid to ask what your pet care business has in the way of systems and if you are not comfortable with the answers then move on

Jog My Dog have a directory on file of all the professional pet carers in Milton Keynes. Drop us an email to learn more.

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Jog My Dog is a small, friendly and professional company offering home boarding, puppy visits, doggy day care, cat visits and dog walking services in Milton Keynes and the surrounding villages of Bow Brickhill, Brickhill Sands, Little Brickhill, Great Brickhill, Aspley Guise, Woburn, Woburn Sands, Brogborough, Linslade, Stoke Hammond and Soulbury.

Registered, Insured, Knowledgeable and Experienced, we take the job of pet care seriously. So whether you’re looking for a cat sitter for your weekend away or regular runs for your dog while you’re at work, we can help! Get in touch to book your pet sitter and dog walker in Milton Keynes today.

 

The Joy of Keeping Hens: setting up home

So you’ve chosen your hens and now need to think about where you will keep them (if you haven’t read my previous blog on choosing your chooks you can catch up here).

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve had two lots of hens. Back in the day I believed that the hen coops sold in garden centres, pet shops and the like were robust enough to keep out predators (i.e. foxes!) and actually they did, for a couple weeks.

wooden hen house

We originally purchased this wooden variety, it looked “cutsie” and fit the space. Perfect. We ear marked a section of the garden for the hens and that was that. It didn’t end well. The fox had a very easy time sliding the wooden tray out which sits on the bottom of the coop and merrily munched his way through all three of our little hens. It was the most horrific thing to wake up to the next day, feathers everywhere and bits of our precious pets found in neighbouring gardens.

Our mistake is really the purpose of this blog. Hens may come cheap but their lives should not. If you decide you want to keep hens then you need to give due consideration to their wants and needs.

What a Hen Needs to Thrive

  • Feed: hens should be given good quality layer pellets as their main source of food. Don’t skimp and get the cheapest one out there, if it smells off to you or is dusty and fine then chances are it is a substandard product. Not only will your hens not enjoy eating it (yes they do know what good food is!) their eggs won’t be good quality. What goes in to your hen comes out in her egg. Remember that.
  • Supplements: if you keep hens you should endevour to mimic their natural environment as much as possible. Allow them access to, or provide within their coop, additional ‘extra’s such as insects, grass, seeds, berries, and herbs. Corn and wheat products should be kept to a minimum
  • Scatter food: hens naturally forage, that’s what they do for the majority of their day; however, it’s important to keep the ground free from faeces otherwise you will very quickly have worm infested chooks
  • Ample space and clean ground: if you don’t give your hens sufficient space to explore, grass to munch and dusty patches for mud bathing you will have unhappy and unhealthy hens. Hens who are left to wallow in a small muddy area are not happy, never mind thriving. They will no doubt begin to fight, feather peck and get sick

These pictures show some of my happy hens, they have wanted for nothing and thrive to this day. I cannot express how much joy hens can give you, how individual their characters are and how much they love their little comforts: mud bathing, scratching for worms, eating all the best vege you’ve attempted to grow along with the finally ripe berries. Mine like a lush breakfast of natural yogurt, a mid-day snack of worms and an evening meal of canned corn and perhaps a bit of leftover rice (both these in moderation!).

hens

Choosing Your Chicken Coop

If you are serious about keeping hens then you need to be serious about their welfare, and that means investing in a proper coop for them and hen proofing the area you plan to allow them to free roam.

“Free roam you say? I was planning on keeping 4 of them in a little igloo run, what’s wrong with that?” SO MUCH! Keeping hens in a tiny enclosure is not what animal welfare dreams are made of (and frankly I believe it to be downright cruel).¬†Hens are foragers and thrive on being able to explore their environment, picking up tasty morsels as they go along. If you are unable to give them a safe place to sleep at night, and plenty of garden or land to explore, then you shouldn’t be keeping hens. Period.

So back to where we went wrong.

The fox got our first batch of hens and we were distraught with our poor choice of hen coop – we learned the hard way but it was the hens who had to pay the price. We thought about using our shed, but even that is not really secure as a fox can dig underneath the, often loose, wooden floor panels and get to them. Eventually we found Woodenart, a company who specialise in hen coops, hen runs, cat enclosures, dog houses and more. Their creations are bespoke and can be designed to suit your specification.

The Woodenart hen coops don’t come cheap. Truth be told we had to save up for a bit before we bought the coop and our next lot of hens. However, the investment was totally worth it. We went for the James Cooper Extra, retailing at ¬£560, back in 2010 and it is still faultless to this day (after numerous position changes and house moves). Our hens have been 100% safe all these years and when we’ve had to leave them locked in for a day due to garden works we could rest easy knowing they had enough room to walk around comfortably.

The mesh is fox proof and that, along with the base of the coop and run, is the most important element. You can of course make your own coop similar to this design but if you do ensure that you buy chicken mesh and that the gaps are small as shown in the picture below. These coops are designed this way for a reason and they keep foxes out up and down the country because of it.

hen coop james

The James Cooper Chicken House with large walk in Chicken Run by Woodenart is suitable for keepers who are unable to let their Chickens free range due to predators or garden restrictions, an easy clean fox proof Chicken Coop

  • Fabulous woodenart quality and innovation
  • A very easy to clean Chicken House with the floor and nest boxes set at the perfect working height
  • The House is a very spacious 3 feet wide x 3 feet 6 inches deep, is well ventilated and suitable for 6 – 8 Chickens. The House stands 5 feet 6 inches tall at the highest point , has 2 removable perches for cleaning and there is a large door at the front for easy access and cleaning. The additional Chicken Run underneath the House is meshed as standard
  • The sliding pop hole door is a very neat system that slides on internal runners and is operated outside of the Chicken House by a pull cord
  • The roofed Chicken Run is 5 feet 8 inches long and is 6 feet deep. The Run roofing stops the run becoming a mud bath in the Winter and is of Onduline and matches the Hen House roofing.
  • The Run extends underneath and at the back of the Hen house to give an effective Run length of 8 feet 8 inches , the Run stands 5 feet 6 inches at the front giving easy access into the run. 2 mid height perches are fitted to the Run
  • The Chicken House, Chicken Run and Nest Boxes all have Onduline roofing which is the preferred roofing for Poultry as it does not harbour parasitic red mite unlike felt plus it wears much better than felt roofing, it also allows vital air circulation through the Housing
  • The Nest Boxes are each ¬†a huge 15 inches wide x 14 inches deep with access outside of the House for egg collection via a drop down door and are set at a height that makes for easy egg collecting and inspection
  • The Chicken House and Chicken Run assembled together gives a footprint of 8 feet 8 inches long x 6 feet deep, the Nest Box overhangs by another 14 inches. The whole assembly is mounted onto tanalised bearers
  • All framework is smooth square planed Redwood and is screwed together for strength and durability
  • The House Run and Nest Boxes are treated with minimum of 2 applications of a high quality preservative in a beautiful rich Golden Brown colour as standard
  • The mesh used on the Chicken Run is 19 gauge galvanised weld mesh for strength, durability and fox protection

6 Amazing Health Benefits of Walking in the Woods

There is something deeply magical about walking in the woods: it is tranquil, quiet, peaceful and mind-clearing; so it’s no wonder the Japanese coiled the term¬†Shinrin-yoku¬†or “forest bathing” to describe the practice of spending more time in the forest to improve their health and sense of well-being. This is something we should all do more of because walking in the woods boasts a number of health benefits for us and our four-legged friends.

dog walk bow brickhill

In Milton Keynes we are really spoiled for choice with woods dotted across the city within easy reach of all of us. I often take the dogs we walk to Shenley, Hazely, Linford, Howe Park, Salcey Forest and Marston Vale ; however, my personal favourite for weekend dog walks with my own little guy (Grizzle) is Bow Brickhill / Aspley Wood.

Although popular with the locals, these woods always feel empty. Perhaps that’s because you can access them from different points which means you get a new view and empty trails almost every time.

My Top 6 Health Benefits of Walking in the Woods

  1. Lower your blood pressure. Japanese researchers measured the blood pressure of a group of busy city workers before and after a 2 hour walk in the woods. The result? The group had lower blood pressure after walking through nature than before.
  2. Help your brain work better. Walking through a green area with trees has been found to aid learning and memory, so much so that kindergartens are beginning to pop up across Europe and the US as teachers slowly begin to appreciate what nature can do to boost their curriculum and student learning and engagement. In fact, if you are based in Milton Keynes, Northampton or any of the surrounding villages you will want to check out Fire & Air Рin a nutshell they explore learning and well-being using the forest as their school, really amazing work!
  3. It may help with depression. How many times have you felt a bit rubbish before heading out for a long walk only to come home at the end of it feeling far better than when you set out: more alert, fresher and positive. In fact, studies suggest that city dwellers living near trees were found to have better mental health, with lower rates of prescriptions for antidepressants, than those with no greenery around them.
  4. Getting your dog back to nature.¬†Is a stroll through the neighborhood, endless games of ‘fetch’ or hanging around a park what your dog would do in the wild? When looking at keeping your dog in tip top health you should always try to mimic nature where possible (and safe to do so). Hiking and walking on trails is an excellent form of activity for your dog because it is similar to what they would do in nature.
  5. Walking up hills to keep strong. Just like us, our dogs fitness levels can plateau so to keep them strong and healthy into old age we need to keep challenging our dogs and ensuring they engage in lots of stimulating walks and hikes in varied surroundings, which will also keep them mentally active too! All dogs should walk up hill regular to keep strong, even your senior pooch.
  6. Moving on uneven terrains (rocks, logs and dodging other obstacles found in the woods) is my final important tip for maintaining strength and balance Рfor both you and your dog. When you discover a new walk there is a sense of excitement as you set out to explore the unknown and the health benefits are real here too: think unused muscles, balance, coordination and concentration.

So go on and get out to your local woods more often. Grab your dog and clamber over hills, splash in streams, stumble over rocks and trip yourself up over a log РI guarantee you both will love it!

aspley woods

Home Made Dog Treats: Meaty Eggy Yogurt Iced Treat

It was 24 degrees in Milton Keynes today so we were all about keeping cool and eating iced treats! While I got myself a cheeky Magnum, the day care doggies had the following frozen iced treats – home made, really quick to make and chuck full of nutritious ingredients you will have at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tbps natural yogurt (not flavoured)
  • 2 tbps natural instinct raw meat (this was minced and I used it for flavour and because it was in the fridge)
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 handful of blueberries

home made ice cream

Directions:

  • Pop everything bar the blueberries in the blender and wizz for 30 seconds
  • Pour into molds
  • Pop your blueberries in (they won’t all sink so long as you leave the mixture a little ‘chunky’)
  • Put your molds in the freezer
  • Wait till frozen

I put little wooden sticks in the molds as I intended to take them out like ice lollies; however, the dogs couldn’t wait to get tucked in so I just let them go for it.

Why these ingredients?

Blueberries are full of antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals

Eggs are one of the most complete sources of the building blocks of protein: amino acids

Yogurt is high¬†in calcium and protein, acting¬†as a probiotic it is good for your dog’s digestive system

Raw Meat is the natural food choice of dogs in the wild who forage on meat, bones, skin, organs, stomach contents, and an array of other parts

Don’t forget: Dogs are well equipped to handle the bacteria in raw foods.

dog ice cream

Holistic Solutions for your Itchy Dog

There are numerous reasons why your doggy may be scratching and before looking to treat the issue it’s important to understand what you’re dealing with. The below 4 point list is not exhaustive but may help you assess what’s going on:

  • If dog is licking, biting or chewing at his paws excessively then suspect a yeast issue. Yeast most often affects paws, ears, groin, belly and armpits and occurs more in humid environments
  • If your dog is suffering with pimple-like spots, open sores or appears to be shaking his head a lot then you may have a skin infection on your hands
  • Dandruff could be to blame if your dog presents with large flakes on his fur, or if his fur is thinning over time
  • If itching is linked to warmer weather or is all year long then allergies could be what your dog is suffering with

Before rushing off to the vets I would recommend trying some holistic treatments at home. Combating health issues with natural foods, supplements and home-based care is, in my opinion, always preferable than pumping your pet up with pills and antibiotics from the vets.

Under or Over Bathing Your Dog

How often and with what you bath your dog is an important contributing factor to the overall health of their coat and skin. If you wash your dog too often you may be contributing to the problem as many shampoos (doggy or human) are chuck full of synthetic ingredients which strip your dog’s skin of natural oils which results in dry skin and … you guessed it: lots and lots of itching!

For dogs prone to dry skin I would suggest that bathing once a month is enough (unless they have rolled in stinky stinky stuff!) To this end I would add that if you have a dog who loves to roll in yukies, and you are combating a dry skin issue, then you could always pop a light weight jacket on him when going out for those walks which end up in a shower. No dodgy smells to deal with and no extra showers either ‚Äď just more laundry loads, ¬†no big deal ūüôā

The best type of shampoo to use on dogs with dry skin is a natural one containing Colloidal Oatmeal. Bio Groom do a natural shampoo which is available on Amazon for just £6.49. If you can follow this up with moisturizing rinse then even better! Think of it as a conditioner treatment for your hair, it’s basically doing the same for your dog’s skin. Finally, give your dog a good brush daily to stimulate his body’s natural oils and help keep his skin in tip top condition (again, just like you would do for your own hair, or by body brushing before a shower).

Diet Deficiencies

For optimal coat and skin health, your dog needs essential fatty acids in their diet. Omega-3 (typically found in fish oil) is a terrific source of fatty acids and a lack of them is an extremely common cause for flaky dry skin. Good news though, because the cure is so simple! Simply try adding fish oil to your dogs diet (1 teaspoon per day). PetAmazed Best Salmon Fish Oil is easily available on Amazon and though not particularly cheap it’s worth it in my opinion. A word of warning: make sure to use the oil up within its shelf life, out of date oil should not be fed to your pets.

Why should you add oil to your dogs diet?

Many processed dog foods are heated to such high temperatures that any fatty acids they may contain will no longer be active (i.e. of any use!) once they make their way to your dogs bowl. Supplements work best when given over a long duration; and because it can take a few months to properly get into your pets system, and actually begin to work on supporting the skin and healing it, don’t give up if you don’t see results in a couple weeks.

Egg-tastic!

The mighty egg: in its tiny shell the egg is a great source of:

Vitamin A

Vitamin B12

Riboflavin

Folate

Iron

Fatty Acids

Selenium

Eggs help prevent itchy, dry and flaky skin and provide a thriving home for hair follicles, along with giving your dog’s coat a nice shine! The additional fat, protein and vitamins may be just what your dog needs in addition to your new bathing and oil supplement regime, so crack a raw egg into your dog’s food bowl a couple times a week (shell and all) and let him lap the goodness up. Warning: too much raw egg could cause an upset stomach so keep it limited to two or three times a week.

Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs

I can’t stop promoting the benefits of turmeric for dogs and therefore need to list it here as another option to try when looking to address the cause of the itchy flaky skin. If you are interested in giving your dog turmeric then check out my blog post on Golden Paste available here.

  1. Anti-inflammatory
  2. Antibacterial
  3. Protects the liver from toxins
  4. Assists in detox
  5. Promotes heart and liver health
  6. Reduces blood clots that can lead to strokes and heart attacks by thinning the blood
  7. Promotes digestive health
  8. It can help prevent and even treat cancer
  9. Offers allergy relief
  10. Helps prevent cataracts
  11. Has been used in the treatment of epilepsy
  12. Natural pain relief
  13. Natural treatment for diarrhea

Home-Made Itchy Dog Spray

You could also try making your own home-made ‚Äėanti-itch‚Äô spray. With just three ingredients, this DIY solution could not be easier! If you cannot get your hands on a dog rinse then you can spray this on them instead.

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My 6 Point Check List to Treat Your Dog’s Dry Skin

  1. Brush your dog daily
  2. Add essential fatty acid supplements to your dog’s diet (fish oil, coconut oil on its own or via Golden Paste)
  3. Bath only once a month where possible and use an oatmeal shampoo
  4. Finish your dog’s bath with a moisturizing rinse
  5. Make your own home-made itch spray
  6. Antihistamines (if severe)

If your dog’s coat is no better within a month to six weeks then the cause is probably not nutritional and you may want to investigate with your vet for another potential underlying problem.

Update: A holistic pet group recently recommended Dermacton as a great product for itchy dogs …

DERMACTON: STOPS ITCHING FAST ¬†…. CALMS SORE SKIN ¬†…. NATURAL & STEROID FREE!

I haven’t tried it on Grizzle myself but because of the rave reviews I thought it worth a mention here. Available from Aromesse Natural Healthcare (online) you are able to stock up anywhere in the world – UK shipping is free if you spend over ¬£30.¬†The range includes a cream a spray and a shampoo.

If you try it please let me know what you think in the comments below.

The Big Doggie Do 2016 Raffle for Hula Animal Rescue

On the 28th May 2016 The Parks Trust held their annual Big Doggie Do at Willen Lake in Milton Keynes. The event, which has been going since 2007, is popular with families and dog owners alike with numbers reaching over 1000 on the day.

Jog My Dog wanted to get involved in the event this year and chose Hula Animal Rescue as the local charity to raise money for. We wanted to do a raffle and sell home made cakes and bakes; and with Hula very kindly offering us the use of one of their gazebo’s and The Parks Trust giving us the stall for free we were off to a great start!

With Special Thanks:

Over a 6 week period we contacted loads of companies, restaurants and businesses in Milton Keynes and had some very generous donations towards the raffle prize list. With special thanks to:

 

 

hula raffle prize list

Jog My Dog also got involved in the prize list and two lucky winners on the day won a voucher for 2x running sessions or 2x doggy day care days, valued at £36 and £50 respectively.

With special thanks to Mel Biago and Majbritt Moulding for the design of the raffle prize list and for getting all the amazing prizes sorted for the day, along with baking the delicious lemon drizzle cake and shortbread! Milton Keynes Creative Print also gave a big discount on the banner print cost and we are very grateful.

What we raised:

We had an amazing result on the day selling all of our baked goodies and over 1000 raffle tickets – raising a total of ¬£411 for Hula Animal Rescue. With a great turnout and warm weather it really couldn’t have been more perfect.

Thank you to all those who contributed on the day by purchasing a raffle ticket (or six); Hula are very appreciative, as are we. You made all the hard work worth it!

big doggie do mk 2016

Big Doggie Do Event Information

Date: 28th May 2016 Time: 12-5pm

With numerous charities and stalls selling dog paraphernalia, there was also a fun dog show with a £1 entry. This years class listing was as follows:

Class 1 Best Golden Oldie (over 8yrs)

Class 2 Cutest Puppy (6mths ‚Äď 2yrs)

Class 3 Prettiest Bitch

Class 4 Most Handsome Dog

Class 5 Best Rescue

Class 6 Most Appealing Eyes

Class 7 Waggiest Tail

Class 8 Best Cross Breed

Class 9 TBC MK Vet Group Category

Class 10 Dog the Judge Would Most Like to Take Home

With free entry this is a fun day out for the family and any furry companions.

Come and join the fun in 2017!

Minimize Stress When Home Boarding Your Dog

With the holiday season fast approaching many owners are on the hunt for a caring alternative to kennels, a home-from-home environment. Meet: Home Boarding.

With this arrangement your dog stays with an individual or family throughout the duration of your time away. It is assumed that by opting for home boarding your dog will not suffer the same anxiety often seen in dogs put into kennels, along with receiving more individualized attention. While the latter point is no doubt the case, dogs that are put into any new and unfamiliar environment can, and do, suffer stress. This is because, regardless of the home you have chosen, everything is so very different to what they are used to that it is natural for them to undergo some stress during your time away. I have actually just witnessed this myself with our current home boarding guest – Henry.

Henry comes from a home where he’s his mum’s main man. They have dogs come to stay all the time for day care and holidays, so it’s safe to say he’s used to lots of companionship and noise. This was obvious during the afternoon and when it was time to all settle down for the night. Henry was panting excessively, circling the kitchen and had a very fast heartbeat. Henry was tired out – we had gone for a long walk and had over three hours of garden play; so this wasn’t an excessive energy situation we were dealing with here, rather stress.

Signs of Stress in Your Dog

It’s important to be aware of what the stress signals are in your dog, and I would also recommend questioning your chosen home boarding service provider. If you are leaving your precious pooch in their care you want to be confident that they too are on the look out for stress in your dog and know how to reduce it.

Lip and Nose Licking – this is different to the type of licking you see your doggy display when he’s just eaten something tasty. Lip licking often takes place in conjunction with some of other stress reducing behaviours such as yawning or head flicking

Yawning – if your dog is really stressed he may yawn excessively, this will be a more pronounced drawn out yawn than the one you may see when your dog is tired

Ears Pinned Back – regardless of ear type, if your dogs ears are pinned back he may be feeling stressed. This is often accompanied by a ‘wide eyed’ look and perhaps a tail which is tucked low

Panting – of course all dogs pant but if it is not a particularly hot day and the panting is excessive then this could be a sign that your dog is experiencing stress

Other Signs of Stress in Dogs

  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Excessive vocalisations / whining
  • A hunched body posture
  • Tension around mouth or eyes
  • Excessive sniffing
  • Looking away / head flicking / eye avoidance
  • Slow or tense movement
  • Dilated pupils

Why Stress Should Be Reduced

If your dog is experiencing excessive stress it will make him more susceptible to:

  • Illness due to a compromised immune system. Ever have a dog come back from kennels poorly? Perhaps it was due to stress
  • Depression. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to snap out of so it’s worth preventing
  • Upset Stomach. A dog who is stressed may not eat and suffer dietary disturbances as a result

How Home Boarders & Owners Can Reduce Stress Felt by Dogs

  1. Where possible you should get your dog used to his holiday environment in advance of going away. At a minimum I would recommend visiting the home with your dog for a few hours so he can get to know the environment with you around to build his confidence. Got more time? Then my suggestion would be to book your pooch in for day care and possibly an overnighter too! This is a great way to get him used to the arrangement and give you peace of mind
  2. On the day, allow plenty of time for the drop off. Don’t be rushed and stressed as your dog will pick up on it and in turn feel stressed himself. You want to leave him relaxed and happy – and why not start your holiday as you mean to go!
  3. Take your dog’s usual supply of food with you. The feeding routine should already have been discussed with your home boarding host, and where possible ensure that the supply you provide covers the entire trip so as to prevent upset stomachs from dietary changes
  4. Bring your dog bed and some fabric, or a blanket, that smells of you. Dogs find their little home comforts reassuring and this is an easy way to help them settle in their temporary home
  5. Ensure you have completed all the necessary paper work. At Jog My Dog we like to obtain detailed notes on chosen vet, medication and ailments, your dogs likes/dislikes, phobia’s, allergies and we always take emergency contact details
  6. Be happy when you leave. When it’s finally time to say bye to your dog and head off on holiday do so in a confident, matter-of-fact manner. Remember, your dog will pick up on your emotions so if you’re feeling anxious they will too. So keep it casual as you leave with no over the top fussing. Leave that to your home boarder ūüôā

What happened with Henry?

The solution was to stay up with Henry on his first night away from home. By just sitting near him in the front room till gone 2am he was finally able to relax and get some much needed sleep. Today he’s already much more settled and took himself off to the couch for zzzz’s by 8pm.

henry in day care

 

Doggy Day Care Diaries: deer and falling trees

Hey Guys, it’s Grizzle again reporting back on our day care adventures and today was a lot of fun.

We set off first thing to pick up my pals, it was raining and usually this means I stay holed up in bed as I really do hate getting wet! But mom said I had work to do so after sighing a bit I put my gear on and off we went.¬†Our first stop was Woburn Sands because I was kicking up a fuss in the van because it was poo’oclock (when will she learn!). After doing our business and peeing on every leaf in sight we kept driving to Aspley Guise because apparently it’s easier to park here, I don’t know anything about this technical stuff but it’s what I hear….

dog day care milton keynes

Dog Walking in Aspley Guise

We usually start our walk near the church (MK17 8HN is the post code of the church if you’re interested in doing the same walk as us) because there are nice little spots to park, and if you keep on that side of the road you can just follow the public footpath which has been nicely marked out for you. We love walking here as not many people know about it so it’s usually just us. I had to stay on my lead for some of the walk because I spotted myself a deer early on and felt that the world wasn’t safe until I caught him. Lucky for mom – but unlucky for me – she read my mind and quickly secured me. What a shame, I came SO close to getting across to that cheeky deer, can you see how it just stares back at us?

deer in aspley guise

Anyways, after that we was hyped up: there was lots of rabbit poo to eat and smells galore as it had been raining. And that’s not all! We also watched some trees being cut down, massive massive branches were being thrown in the road and we had to stand still for absolutely ages waiting for them to let us cross. Sometimes I don’t think people remember we are dogs and have exploring to do.

Doggy Day Care Woburn Sands & Group Dog Walks in Brogborough

We were pretty wet by this point so mom packed us back in the van and brought just me and my pal Freddy to Boycie’s house. Apparently he was a bit scared to go out last week but he didn’t seem shy today. In fact, I couldn’t get him away from me, he kept following me around and smelling my bottom – I hadn’t eaten any tripe or raw egg today either so it couldn’t have been that :/

He showed us his favourite local walk in Brogborough and this place is even BETTER than Aspley Guise and the woods over there. Brogborough is only tiny with 150 houses and the area feels really remote. We took a left behind the Community Hall and just followed the path; you can go a few different ways actually but we just followed little Boycie because he seemed to know where he was going. There are just endless fields to walk through and explore, along with an old ruin right in the middle of them. There are little signs with arrows but I think it would be easy to get lost here, we walked for about 40 minutes before turning around and sure enough it took us ages to get home as we didn’t really know where we were going. Mom said we’re going back there later in the week as it was hard to take good pictures because it was raining so much.

We then all took a really long nap together on the couch because we were tired, cold and wet. And now it’s late, I can’t really remember what happened after that, oh Henry came over to see if he’d like to stay in our house next week and I didn’t stop licking his mouth and jumping up at his owner – yup I know how to be annoying!

That’s it for today, till next time …