Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Creative Feeding Part 1 - Fillable Rubber Toys and Boxes!

Dogs love to work their minds, and they love food. Mix the two and it makes a fantastic activity for your pet!

There are 3 main types of creative feeding games -

  1. Fillable Rubber Toys and Boxes
  2. Puzzle and Interactive Toys 
  3. Scatter and Hide-and-seek Feeding
These three methods are all suitable for pets of all sizes and ages, but must be scaled up or down to make sure you use a safe sized toy or box for your pet. Too small a toy can be choked on by a larger dog, or too large a toy could get stuck on a smaller pets head, which may sound funny but could be fatal. Always make sure the size you choose is the right size for your pet, and is undamaged before giving it to them.

In part 1, I will focus on the fillable rubber toys and filled boxes.

Stuffed Rubber Toys and Filled Boxes

The most common stuffed rubber toy is a Kong. This is a pyramid shaped, rubber dog toy with an opening at the bottom, and a small opening at the top to ensure air flow for safety. You can get other brands but Kong is the most popular. They have several different types, but the main ones are -
  • Puppy Kongs, which come in blue or pink, and are softer rubber to allow for chewing when puppies are teething. This is also perfect for dogs who enjoy working for their food but do not chew their toys.
  • Senior Kongs, which are usually purple and also made of the softer rubber to make sure older dogs teeth and gums are not harmed, as some veteran dogs can have weakened teeth due to their age or health conditions. This is also ideal for light chewers.
  • Red "Classic" Kongs, which are their main ones. It is made from tough red rubber, and comes in multiple sizes to suit different breeds. This is their oldest and most popular type for adult dogs. Most dogs find this is the ideal pick when choosing a fillable toy.
  • Black "Extreme" Kongs, which are designed for adult dogs with powerful jaws and those who are strong chewers. These are ideal for breeds like Staffordshire Bull Terriers, German Shepherds and other powerful chewers. If you are worried your dog will chew their Kong, try the Black rather than going for the Red for that added toughness.
Puppy, Senior, Classic Red, Extreme Black.

Kongs come in a massive range of sizes from XS which is perfect for a Chihuahua puppy, all the way up to XXL for extra large breeds like Mastiffs and Great Danes!

You can buy similar toys by other companies which should work as well, however I personally prefer Kong as they have been reliable for me for years. We had a red Kong that was still in excellent condition after 7 years of regular use and was only replaced as it was lost during a move.

Black Kong Extreme and Red Kongs - XS to XXL!

How to use Fillable Toys

Fillable toys are very simple - you stuff them with something yummy and put them down for your pet! You can buy specially made pastes and biscuits designed to be used with them but you can use just about anything!

I have used tuna, chunks of cooked chicken, cheese paste, grain-free biscuits, banana, peanut butter, raw mince, tripe, canned dog food, and all sorts of other yummy treats. I often use them to give my dogs their dinner, especially when they have their raw minces. All the different flavours make Kongs a real favourite as they never know what they will find in them next.

You can also freeze filled Kongs to make them last even longer, or as the perfect summer treat to keep your pet cool. Just remember whatever you put in them, to reduce their main meals by that same amount so you don't end up overfeeding.

Fillable Rubber Toy Alternative - Boxes!

A good alternative to filling a Kong or other rubber toy, is to find small cardboard boxes, put dry foods and treats inside, and re-seal so your dog has to get into the box to get to the treats. Most dogs decide to shred the box and make a big mess, but its a simple clean up and the dogs love it. When first attempting this, you should use strong smelling treats in a thin box so they can smell that there is something interesting in the box. 

Once they understand that this is a fun game, you can then use thicker boxes and food or treats that don't have such a strong scent. You can even stack boxes inside each other or use several boxes to make it more challenging and more fun for your pet. 

Boxes are not recommended for wet or raw foods as the food sticks to the cardboard and can be eaten by the dogs, but is pefect if you feed dry food (kibble) or for treats. It is excellent mental stimulation so an ideal game for when its cold and wet out! 

We play these games very often with our dogs and teach them to any new fosters that come in. We even fill boxes with vegetables and hay for our rabbits, so if you have other small pets you can try this game with them too!

Shelby with her favourite Kong

Friday, 12 January 2018

Trick Dog Training - Do More With Your Dog

Trick Time!

Our beautiful little chihuahua Maisie has been working hard all year on her new favourite type of training. She has been adding Trick Dog to her list of abilities!

So far, Maisie has passed her Novice, Intermediate and Advanced titles, and is 1 trick away from passing her Expert title. We will be working towards her Champion title soon.

She is earning her titles at Fun Trick Dog Training classes, run by Kathleen Tepperies. If you are in East Sussex, I highly recommend joining up through her! She is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor, and knows how to help you get the very best out of your dog. In her Trick classes, you work towards to Do More With Your Dog titles.

Trick Training is a lot of fun. You work together with your dog to learn new skills, strengthening the bond between you. Most dogs love learning new things, and love spending time with their owners, so combining the two makes this a very fun and interesting thing to do with your dog! 

Because there are so many different tricks you can learn, there is something for all dogs, no matter how big or small they are, even puppies and senior dogs can learn new things. It's a fantastic way to keep your pet active as well as providing mental stimulation.

Some of the tricks Maisie now knows are - 
  • Spin (Novice)
  • Crawl (Novice)
  • Roll out a carpet with nose (Novice)
  • Barrel Racing (Intermediate)
  • Opening the Door (Intermediate)
  • Back-up (Advanced)
  • Double Balance Beam (Advanced)
  • Ringing a Bell (Advanced)
  • Peanut Rolling (Expert)
  • Box Search Game (Expert)
And so many more too! These are just a few examples of what she has learned over the past 12 months, and your dog can too. 

These tricks are so much fun for Maisie to perform, and she loves her classes too. Make sure to pay your pet well in treats and praise, and they will enjoy their training sessions even more. 

This is a PDF list of the different tricks for all the different levels, and books and DVDs you can get to help you towards them. Check it out if you are interested in earning any of these titles with your pet!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Preparing a foster dog for his new home!

If you are fostering a dog, there is much more to it than just finding another home to go to. This is some of the things we do to make sure the dog is ready for their new home.

  • Vet Care - We make sure the dogs health is ok. In some dogs, there is nothing needed to be done, in others there may be health conditions that need treating, they may need their teeth cleaned or need some extractions, and they will be spayed or neutered if this hasn't already been done.
  • Micro-chipping - If the dog comes to the charity without a microchip then they will be micro-chipped. If they already have a chip then their details will be updated.
  • Training - Many dogs come with some training but we try and make sure all the dogs we foster know the basics at least. Learning to Sit, Wait, Walk on a lead, Give back a toy/chew etc. This ensures that when they go to their new home they know what is being asked of them, and also allows them to bond with their new family through the training.
  • Socialization - If the dog isn't socialized with other dogs, with people etc then they will be taken out and socialized with as many people and friendly dogs and animals as possible. Even if the dog is well socialized this is all done to ensure they keep it up.
  • Grooming - Every dog needs grooming of some sort. Their nails are clipped, they are given a bath, dried, and combed through if they have a long coat. If they are a breed who needs it, they will also be clipped to keep their coat short and in manageable condition. If the dog comes in with a matted coat, this will all be shaved off as matting is very painful for them and can also cause sores, cuts and infection of the skin, and harbor parasites such as fleas and more. If we can get the dog used to grooming and handling, then it makes things much easier for new owners or a professional groomer if you use one.
  • New Items - Any dog I foster is given a new collar or harness, lead, blanket or bed, and toys. This makes sure they go to their new home with familiar items with their own scent on. This helps the transition and is less stressful for them.
These are the main things that a foster carer has to do for each dog in their care. No matter how long the dog is with us, how well they are, or what special needs they have, they always have the very best of care as if they are one of my own pack. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Crufts 2017!

Maisie had a fantastic time at the Worlds Biggest Dog Show. She got lots of cuddles, New toys, treats and grooming items, and loved being center of attention and meeting so many of her fans. (Photo above is from 2016 - My favourite one of her there!)

We went along on Toy and Utility Day, where there were lots of other Toy Breed dogs, as well as Utility breeds, Flyball and Agility dogs, and of course lots of PAT dogs and other dogs with very special jobs! 

Both varieties of Chinese Crested compete together in the same classes. The Powder Puff has a long flowing coat, and the Hairless has just small amounts of hair on its body. Otherwise, they are judged against the same breed standard.

We watched several breeds being shown including Standard Poodles, Shih tzus, Chihuahuas (both Longcoats and Smoothcoats), and Dalmations. Maisie got a little jealous that she wasn't able to go in the ring when she saw others of her breed, but she was there to work, not to show.

She spent most of the afternoon meeting some of her fans, shopping, sampling new treats and food, and taking lots of photos! When it came to home time she was exhausted, and slept almost all the way home (a full 5 hours travel!) on her new Vet Bed. It was such a fun day and Maisie still gets excited if she hears the word "Crufts" so I think she wants to go back next year too!

Friday, 3 March 2017

Another surprise foster dog!

Today we had another little dog come to us as an emergency foster case.

This sweet little long legged Jack Russell Terrier is called Mutley. He is about 9 years old and the poor baby was found alone with his human dad, who had sadly passed on suddenly.

His body is in fairly good condition however his nails were extremely overgrown to the point of his toes being damaged from the length of them and for how long he must have had them like this. This photo doesn't show off how bad they actually are, his nails were snapping, breaking, and generally in poor condition, along with being extremely overgrown. This would take years to get to this point and shows he hasn't been walked properly in a very long time either. They have of course been clipped now and he is already much more comfortable. We hope there wont be any long lasting effects from this.

His teeth are in awful condition. Not only do they have an extreme build-up of tarter, but he also has such inflamed gums that the slightest touch makes them bleed. This would be extremely painful for him too. This little dog has been suffering for a long while sadly. He was clearly well loved but didn't have the all care he needed.

We have been told he has an esophagus (throat) problem that means he can only eat mushed up food, but he has managed a couple of tiny bites of chicken without any sign of a problem, so maybe the issue is not as bad as we were told. His vet check will tell us more details.

Mutley will be booked in to have a dental, neutering, and if needed, any other veterinary care he requires. Once this has been done and he has had a proper assessment, he will be available for adoption through the rescue.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Crufts is coming!

Very excited - Crufts 2017 is coming! 

Maisie has received her Crufts pass so she get go and review it for us again for both Pretty Pooches and for her Instagram account Maisies Adventures (@MaisiesAdventures) - We are all very excited to be back at the worlds biggest dog show!

Last year we went and had a lot of fun shopping, meeting some lovely people, talking to some of the exhibitors, and generally having an amazing time. Pretty Pooches aims to go every year, and Maisie loves all the attention she gets there too. Our lovely friend Claire is coming too which just makes it even better!

Anyone else coming along - if so let us know what you are looking forward to most! Are you competing? Let me know and feel free to post a photo of your dog getting ready! 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Foster dog - Update! And new foster bunnies!

Foster Dog Update! 

This is the update I have been waiting to write. Very pleased to say the lovely little dog we were fostering has been adopted by a lovely family and is now living with a wonderful family, including a very sweet Staffordshire Bull Terrier who is her new best friend! 

She has now been settled happily in her new home for several weeks and I get updates on her progress. She is doing very well, and her training is being continued. We couldn't ask for a better home for such an adorable little dog. 

Since a few weeks ago I also have been fostering 2 rabbits. They belong to a family member who is currently unable to care for them so we now have 4 little rabbits hopping about!