Is your dog winter ready?

We have all noticed a drop in temperature over the past few days, the rain has started falling more regularly and heavily and it is definitely darker earlier.

We can dig out our coats and wellies but have you thought about your dog and how you can keep them safe and warm over the next few months?

It will, of course, depend on the age and breed of dog as to what you do. A St. Bernard is much more accustomed to the cold than a Chihuahua but thats not to say a St. Bernard will never need a coat.

Some dogs need an extra layer even when they are indoors, it’s worth remembering this as the temperature drops. Doggy jumpers come in lots of different designs and sizes, just make sure you don’t wrap your dog up so warm that they overheat.

There are lots of different coats available and you need to take a few things into account e.g is it waterproof? Can it be easily washed? Is it easy to put on and take off? If you use a harness does it have a slot for the D-ring? Or will it go under the harness? If your dog is noise sensitive will it be comfortable with the sound of velcro?

Vinnie ready for autumn

As well as keeping your dog warm you need to think about keeping your dog safe. You can get coats with reflective stripes, flashing fobs to clip on the harness, luminous collars and bright leads. As the nights draw in and the mornings are darker make sure your dog can be seen.

It is also worth getting a torch for yourself (there’s nothing worse than looking for dog poo in the dark!) and making sure your dog has good recall.

It is also important that your dog has a good ‘leave it’ as conkers and acorns are extremely toxic. Practise this and ‘drop it’ as much as you can as these, as well as recall, are lifesaving commands.

Handle you dog’s paws as much as you can so they get used to them being touched. When it gets really cold people use salt, grit and de-icer and all of these things are toxic to dogs. If you get your dog used to being handled now, when it gets colder they will be happy with you washing their paws after every walk. In my 1-2-1 puppy course I go through how to do a head to tail examination, this doesn’t just help with washing your dog but will help during vet visits and grooming.

If the weather is too extreme don’t feel guilty if you can’t walk your dog. Enrichment in the home can be just as stimulating and doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Ranulph Fiennes once said “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”

Is your groomer force free?

There is so much to grooming that people don’t realise. They are first aid trained? They need to understand a dog’s body language? They can even refer your dog to a vet as they can spot things you don’t.

In the first of my guest blogs you will be hearing from force free groomer Angela Bakun of Short Bakun Tails. She explains what you can do to help your groomer, why it’s important to tell your groomer of any health issues and how your groomer will do the most to make it an enjoyable experience for your dog.

It is important to find a force free groomer as you don’t want your dog to have any kind of aversion. A good groomer will be happy to answer any questions you have, and never feel uncomfortable to ask them!

The benefits of grooming include;

  • Warning signs of parasites can be seen and dealt with properly and quickly to avoid further infection to other animals and people.
  • It is a good way to bond with the dog.
  • If the dog has been injured this can be made more apparent during a groom.
  • Makes the dog more comfortable.
  • The dog’s health and coat can be checked on a regular basis.

In my 1-2-1 puppy course I go through how to conduct a head to tail examination on your dog. Doing this on a regular basis will mean your dog is used to being handled and this will not only help with the vets, but also the groomer too.

Do you want a happy, confident dog?

I’m sure the answer to this is yes but do you know how to get a happy, confident dog?

Socialisation begins before they even leave their mother and breeder. Small things, such as introducing noises all build a dog’s confidence.

To continue building your dog’s confidence it is important you introduce them to lots of different experiences as early on as possible. These experiences must all be positive, if your dog has a negative experience it can cause major behavioural issues.

In my 1-2-1 puppy course I have a section that is purely focused on confidence building and this includes hiding food in piles of boxes. By doing this your dog will get used to the noise and the movement the boxes make as they fall. You can increase the pile, add other materials and vary the surface. Aslong as everything you use is clean and safe it will help.

Others things you can do include playing noises a various volumes, introducing diiferent smells (not strong smells as a dogs primary sense is it’s nose), wear different face coverings e.g hats, scarves, cycle helmets, walk your dog in different placs e.g fields, parks, beaches, industrial estates, past schools etc.

If you click the link below it will take you to a YouTube channel that has lots of different noises you can play. Try and play them as often as possible and gradually increase the volume. With Fireworks night coming up it is incredibly important to start work now. Ideally you should be doing this daily.

Confidence building isn’t just for puppies, I currently have a number of adult dogs that I’m working with that need help.

It is never too late to have a happy, confident dog!

If you need help with any of this or you require information regarding any of my services feel free to email info@theipswichdogtrainer.

Thinking of raw feeding?

Over the years we have become more and more conscientious of what we eat so why not do the same for your dog? Eating healthier will increase life longevity, reduce your vet bills and help raise a happier dog…….it’s a no brainer really!

I often refer my clients to to check the nutritional value of their current dog food. Most are surprised by what they find and often change to something healthier.

With raw feeding becoming more and more popular it is no wonder there are shops popping up everywhere. I am pro-raw and I often have clients ask about the benefits, how to transition, cost, complete diet vs DIY etc. It can be so confusing when starting out so I have written a beginners guide to raw feeding to help make things easier. Feel free to download and share, and if you have any further questions just ask

How is your dog coping with the heat?

It has been so hot in the UK this week that Vinnie has been really struggling. Imagine how your dog must be feeling. It is so important to try and keep them cool, to not walk them in extreme heat or to leave them alone in a car.

Dogs die in hot cars so please don’t leave your dog in a car even just for a few minutes. Even if the window is down it can have severe consequences.

Heatstroke can be fatal to dogs, especially puppies, older dogs and brachycephalic dogs. Signs of heatstroke include a racing heart, red, blue or purple gums, lethargy, extreme panting or drooling and collapse.

If you think you dog is suffering from heatstroke try cooling the area, put your dog on a cool, damp towel, try and encourage them to drink sips of tepid water, rub their legs and paws to encourage circulation and contact a vet immediately.

Thankfully there are lots of things you can do to keep your dog cool. There are products you can buy such as a cooling mat, cooling banadana, cooling vest and cooling jacket. There are also lots of things you can do at home including having a shaded area in the garden, have a cool area in the house, use a fan or air con unit, wet a towel and encourage your dog to lay on it, make sure fresh water is available at all times, put ice in the water to cool it, set up a paddling pool but make sure the water is cool as it can heat up in the sun, discourage physical activity (including walks) and feed food frozen.

Mia wearing her cooling bandana and sitting on her cooling mat.

Walking your dog in extreme heat can be very dangerous so consider doing enrichment in the home instead. You can have short training sessions, set up free work, use brain training games or make puzzle toys with things you have at home.

Some examples of homemade enrichent include:

  • putting food in a toilet roll tube and folding it at both ends
  • putting food in a kitchen roll tube then put papaer in each end
  • putting food in an egg box and close it
  • putting food in newspaper and scrunch it up
  • putting food in a teatowel and roll it up.
Vinnie waiting patiently to take part in enrichment.

You might find your dog enjoys shredding the paper once it has eaten the food too, if so let them do it.

Always supervise your dog when taking part in enrichment.

Whether you love the sun or you hate it, make sure your 4 legged friend is safe.

Adder bites

With the weather getting warmer it’s the time of year when you might see Adders basking in the sun. The Adder is the UK’s only poisonous snake but generally will only bite if feeling threatened. They are easily identified by the zig zag pattern down it’s back.

I live in an area that has quite alot of gorse land so we see them quite alot and there have been a couple of dogs that I know of that have been bitten, thankfully they have all been ok.

Symptoms of an Adder bite are:
puncture wounds (one or two),
swelling in the area of the puncture wounds (this swelling can spread if not treated),
increased heart rate,
pale gums (it’s worth looking at your dog’s gums, only if it’s safe to do so, and take note of the normal colour so you know when they are pale or inflamed).
All or some of these symptoms will be shown.

If you think your dog has been bitten by an Adder it’s important that you get your dog to a vet asap. Try and keep the dog as still as possible to prevent the spread of venom. Once at the vet they will decide on the appropriate medication to administer depending on the severity. Not all vets have the antivenom so it’s worth calling the vets in your area to find out which one stocks it.

In some cases bites from Adders can be fatal but with early treatment the majority of dogs make a full recovery.

Why did I become a dog trainer?

Vinnie at the rescue center.

In July I was lucky enough to secure a zoom call with Jack Fenton. Jack is one half of Make Your Mark Dog Training and a team member of the Pet Professional Network

In the video call Jack asks what I’ve been upto during lockdown, why I became a dog trainer and what some of the services I offer are.

The clip is just over 5 minutes long and gives you a little insight into me and my business.

What is force free training?

You’ve heard of force free training.

You know it’s the modern way to train your dog.

You hear trainers refer to reward based training.

You commonly hear of positive training……

But do you really know what this all means?

Force free training, otherwise know as positive reinforcement is a form of training that focuses on rewarding your dog for the behaviour you want and ignoring the behaviour you don’t want. This type of training is backed by the latest scientific studies and research. This can be done using food, toys, praise or anything else your dog loves to mark the desired behaviour.

Cassie learning loose lead walking using positive training methods

Will it make my dog more fearful?

People sometimes think it can be used to reinforce fear but that’s not true. You can’t reinforce fear. A good example to use is by imagining you are scared of flying but you love cake. If I fed you cake all the way to Spain (apart from making you feel a bit sick!) would that make you more afraid or would you think “actually I don’t mind flying so much if I get cake all of the time!”. It’s the same theory for your dog. It’s a matter of changing their perspective of the situation.

Will my dog put on weight?

A question I often get asked is “will this type if training make my dog overweight?” Not if you do it correctly. Obesity in dogs is very common and it can have major long term implications. You don’t have to use treats, you can use your dog’s everyday food, you can use praise or you can use toys. If you use food you can gradually stop using food as the behaviour improves.

What about traditional methods?

Traditional training would focus on hierarchy in the household, punishing the dog and possibly using aversive tools. These methods and tools will include shock collars, prong collars, pet corrector spray, slip leads, pinning a dog down, being the boss of your dog, and so many other things that could do long term mental and physical damage. Sadly as this training method has been used for such a long time people still believe it to be correct and is still used by some trainers today.

Luckily scientific studies have proven force free training has longer lasting results, is ethical and will result in a better relationship between you and your dog.

Even the pack theory has been discredited by the very man that wrote the original study, Dr. David L. Mech. You can see a short YouTube clip from him by clicking the link below.

How can I be sure a trainer is force free?

Look at their qualifications and credentials, these should all be displayed on their website.

Look at what organisations they belong too. Surprisingly even some of the big organisations use some aversive training methods.

Speak to them. Ask questions. All good trainers will be more than happy to talk you through their methods and training techniques.

I am proud to call myself a force free trainer and I will never use any aversive methods as I believe training should be just as much fun for the dog as it is for the owner.


If you have any questions about this or any of my other blogs feel free to email me

Dog Theft

This is just a few words on how to prevent your dog being the victim of theft. A few simple steps can really help.

It has been reported that dog theft is on the rise.
Please don’t leave your dog outside a shop (even if you’re just nipping in), make sure your garden is secure, make sure they have good recall and keep them well in sight when out for a walk.

Microchip details (by law) should be upto date, check your insurance will cover posters etc, make sure you have an upto date photo and make sure your dog has an ID tag (again this is law). I never recommend putting your dog’s name on the ID tag, if criminals know your dog’s name then it will be easier for them to claim the dog as theirs.

Hopefully you will never have to go through this but you can never be too careful.

That’s it for now

Leanne x