Thursday, 26 November 2009


It's amazing how many dogs won't respond to the word 'No'. Why not? Is it because:

a) they hate me
b) they enjoy making me look like I can't handle a small number of friendly mammals?
c) they think it means 'carry on what you're doing, but faster?'
d) they think it means 'stop doing that fun thing and do a boring thing instead'?
e) well, you get the idea.

So I make it my business to spend a few minutes with each dog, at the end of the walk, demonstating that 'No' really means 'stop what you're doing and do something else and I'll make it worth your while'.

Here's Smudge, 19 weeks old, getting a head start.

We're working on 'stop trying to take the food and do something else' and his 'something else' is a sit and stare. This also works with 'stop eating that boring dog biscuit that you found under the cupboard and have this tasty bit of chicken instead'.

So 'No' can be used for 'leave' and 'drop' as well.

With Smudge I'll be moving on to showing him that he won't always get a treat for responding appropriately to 'No'. Sometimes he'll get a game, a toy, sometimes nothing, but I'll save up all the nothings and he'll get something of equal value randomly.

It does mean at some point I'll have to give him a suckling pig.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Local Dog Walker's Dog is a Cover Star (Press Release)

Linda Ward, a professional dog walker and cat sitter running Boredom Busters Pet Care Services, celebrates the publication of a new book for dog owners. Linda's dog, Fred, is not only included within the book itself, but has the place of honour on the front cover.

"Fred was a rescue dog, unwanted by his first owners, and left with me as a 'foster mum'. He proved difficult to rehome, as he was very unsettled and anxious, and unable to trust humans. In 2006, after nine months of caring for him, and trying to solve some of his behaviour problems I adopted him. As part of his rehabilitation I investigated a system of massage called Tellington Touch, and was lucky enough to find myself in touch with Sarah Fisher, the UK's leading practitioner who has had a lot of success with rescue dogs.

"Sarah felt Fred could be helped and invited us to visit her at her premises near Bath on the day of the photo shoot for her new book. Sarah worked her magic, and because Fred was so well-behaved and charming after she had relaxed him, she continued with the photo shoot and chose Fred for the cover." Linda Ward, proprietor

From Sarah Fisher's website:

"The Tellington TTouch is a teaching method for dogs and other animals that incorporates body work, and ground exercises where appropriate to improve co-ordination, balance, and athletic ability whilst deepening further communication and understanding between the animal and its owner/carer."

The book is called '100 ways to Solve Your Dog's Problems' ISBN-13: 978-0715332078 and is published on 29th November, 2009.

Fred now accompanies Linda on all walks with new dogs to help her assess their temperament before matching them with a compatible walking group or bringing them into her home for boarding.

There is more information about Linda's dog walking and boarding services, plus cat sitting, on her website - - and blog - - or Linda can be contacted on 07726 265848 or

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Time for Bubble Wrap

If you've got rabbits out of doors, they may need some extra help with some bubble wrap, or other insulation around their hutch. My own rabbits lived outdoors all year round, out in their runs every day, and only coming into the shed or house if it snowed. Couldn't have made it without bubble wrap though, so if you haven't been saving it from packaging materials all year, it's an ideal time to nip out and buy some. Storage companies often have a good supply. A windbreak can be put up around the hutch to keep things a little snugger.

Hutches should be raised off the ground (ideally it would be on legs), bedding materials should be increased so the rabbit can snuggle themselves right inside it if they need to, and make sure water is always available. Keep a spare bottle indoors ready in case the outside one freezes, and seriously consider a thermal covering for the bottle. If you use a bowl instead of a bottle, it shouldn't be on the floor, but raised so bunny can't sit in it and get wet fur. A wet rabbit will find it very hard to stay warm, plus without water it won't eat food, and it needs to eat more food than usual to keep warm.

If you don't already clean the litter every day, make sure to do so now, it will be cold and wet and not nice for bunny to sit on! Just because it's cold outside, your bunny should not be neglected.

Don't panic! Rabbits can survive the winter, they just need a little help.

I don't have rabbits anymore, but I've been bubble-wrapping one of my wormeries. It's in my north-facing front garden, so could do with some help.

Both wormeries are doing well, the worms in my much warmer back garden shed are munching their way through quite a lot of poop. Slower in the front, but there were less worms to start with. I'll move a few around early next spring! They aren't able to manage all the garden poop just yet, but these things take time!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Rain Doesn't Stop Play

We don't care if it's torrential rain or not. I take extra care when driving, try to persuade the dogs to stop steaming in the van so I can see through the windows, and carry lots of towels, but otherwise, it's business as usual.

The rain made the tiny stream (so tiny it dries up if it doesn't rain for a few days) on our usual walk not only very fast, but it burst its tiny banks in a couple of places!

Very refreshing! Although it was raining, it was quite warm once we got moving.


Another video, this time it's Henry demonstrating how to 'alf-inch' apples off the tree, including the quick look behind him to make sure the farmer isn't coming.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


There are chestnuts everywhere in Brentwood at the moment. The dogs are fascinated - either they're tip-toeing through them all over the floor, or they are attempting to eat or play with them.

Some dogs do this even when they are in their burrs (as I am led to believe the spikey things are called). There is a correct, and an incorrect, way of doing this.

Correct way: Carefully, as demonstrated by Lola.

Incorrect way. As demonstrated by my dog.

Ram it on the end of your nose...

Then carry it about, wondering why your lips hurt.