I was lucky enough to attend this year's dog behaviour conference. I've thoroughly enjoyed the talks and have learnt allot from it!
The Dog Behavior Conference is an interactive online 3-day virtual conference experience which brought together experts and leaders in the field of animal training & behavior with dog lovers, dog trainers, groomers, pet sitters, dog walkers, veterinary professionals, animal shelter workers and other animal care specialists from all over the world to learn, share, connect and inspire.
This year's speakers included Alexandra Horowitz, Clive Wynne, Sarah Fisher, Victoria Stilwell, Lisa Radosta, Sarah Heath, Michael Shikashio, Joshua Leeds, Dr. Kathy Murphy, Andrew Hale, Lisa Waggoner, Irith Bloom, and more!
Well covid-19 will be the decider as to when we can get back to training. I am going to be starting 1-2-1 zoom sessions for new clients in the next few months. These will be available at a discounted rate to start with. As soon as lockdown lifts there will be a couple of slots available for private 1-2-1 socially distanced outdoor training sessions.
Myself and my family have recently recovered from covid. Thankfully we are all well and had only minor symptoms. Sadly as a family we have known 8 who have lost their lives so far to covid and another 2 extremely unwell that are in our prayers. I now know more people who have / have had covid than who haven't caught it.
During these tricky times, our dogs are keeping us entertained and enjoying us being home more. Libby is missing Kaiser terribly, as we all are, but she is still relatively cheerful. I am taking some further online courses provided by the American Kennel Club Canine College. The courses cover subjects such as genetics, breeding (I have no interest in becoming a breeder b- it's just a good topic to understand when working with dog behaviour), whelping, anatomy and health issues. This website is going through some well overdue updates, the help sheets are being redone and some new features will be added in the next few months.
Last night I lost the most amazing companion I've ever loved. Kaiser didn't eat his dinner (very unusual) and seemed quiet. We rushed him to the vets, expecting a bad diagnosis (gut feeling). We weren't prepared for just how bad it would be. Kaiser had cancer, a huge tumor in his abdomen the size of a football. Being a big, deep chested dog, it was hidden except slight bloating. Internally the damage was catastrophic. His vital organs were crushed and he was starting to bleed internally. He had been his happy, crazy self entirely before skipping his meal. He had biopsies a year ago for possible cancerous growths on his stomach (came back all clear) and we thought we were in the clear. Sometimes dogs are suffering or unwell and show no signs. Kaiser had been on a strong dose of CBD since Akiva passed away and his arthritis was getting bad so he may have been in allot less pain than if he'd not had CBD. We'll never know.
I made the heartbreaking, but right choice to end his suffering. He was in increasing pain despite morphine and my 10year old 'baby boy' was unhappy. I cuddled him as the vet helped him on his way. I will never get over the loss of my boy but I am blessed with 10years of brilliant memories that I am so grateful for. For now I am finding comfort in watching his many, many videos and photos. It's hard to believe he is gone. My daughter is almost 4 and it's her first loss that she can try to understand. She is dealing with it well and the innocence of her many questions is helping me to come to terms with never seeing him again. Libby is sad, she looks for him and has been quieter. We are supporting her the best we can.
After further deterioration, our vet referred Libby to a neurology specialist at Davies. Covid means that we could only send evidence via videos, photos and our vet's report. The specialist believes she may have idiopathic peripheral vestibular disease. She does not need any treatment currently and will be under our close eye for a few weeks to rule out a stroke, middle ear disease, or a cancerous disease. An inflammatory disease would be less likely in her age.
Akiva has been shown extra love over her last few weeks. She's had visitors from throughout her life come to say their goodbyes. Today she gained her wings in the comfort of her home with her family holding her close. Pain relief was no longer enough and we would never let her suffer. Thank you Akiva for the many years of companionship, love and fun. You have been the most gentle and sweet dog I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. I hope you have fun with Angel in heaven until we meet again X
We are devastated to say our worst fears have been confirmed. Akiva has cancer in her leg. It cannot be operated on and even if they did, it would be allot of pain for maybe only a couple months extra life at best. We have decided to look into the best palliative care. We will let her guide us until she is not longer comfortable. For now we will cherish every day with her.
My second child is now a week old. I get asked allot about maternity leave. I have had to take extra maternity leave (as I did when I had my daughter) as I suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy for many months (EXTREME sickness, I've been in hospital many times because of it). I don't have a nanny so all childcare for my 2 children completely falls on me. Occasionally family can baby sit or my husband can spare some time between his busy work schedule for me to go out to clients. My life has changed tremendously since having my children and it took a while to adjust. Pregnancy isn't a magical 'glowing' time for me - it's basically 9months of me being horrendously unwell, fainting episodes and awful back pain )from an old ice skating injury) that leaves me unable to walk at times. Having my healthy happy kids at the end make it all worthwhile.
So when will I be back? I'm not sure yet. I plan to take a few months out and will slowly contact clients when I feel baby is ready for me to leave him with his grandmother. I'm in no rush. I can be contacted by email or phone for current clients but I am not taking on new clients currently. I can recommend local trusted and experienced force free trainers on request.
Thank you all for your messages, we are all doing well and enjoying being a mum of 2!
With age, my dogs have started to sadly loose their eyesight and hearing. at this time of year, fireworks are a big problem for our household. Due to their senses being less sharp, some of the old dogs struggle with the unpredictable and unsettling loud bangs and sudden flashes of light in the sky. In their younger days, the dogs were completely unfazed by the noise. While walking my rottweilers on lead in Tottenham, North London one year, a couple of fireworks were set off on the other side of a garden fence fence (about 2meters from us) and it caught me totally off guard (it was February!). I let out a little shriek and my dogs just calmly stood there watching the fireworks. This summed up their attitude to fireworks for many years. As working security dogs, I'd built up allot of training to desensitise them to loud noises and to remain calm in stressful situations. As animals however, there is always a certain amount of unpredictability.
To help my dogs from a young age we'd do regular noisy training.
- Walking my noisy main roads while on lead
- Exposing them to police sirens, fire engines etc
- Encouraging them to explore anything they were inquisitive / unsure about
- Banging pots and pans (starting quietly and building up)
- Playing noise CDs of fireworks / thunder / babies crying from puppyhood
- Teaching an EMERGENCY RECALL
When the dogs became old and their fear of fireworks was inevitable we...
- Closed the curtains at home earlier during firework season
- Kept the dogs on lead on all walks
- Made sure all ID tags and microchips were up to date
- Never attached the dog lead to their ID collar (in a panic, collars can come off with the ID)
- Brought forward their routines so they weren't going out for their last toilet late at night
- Added natural calmers to their food (CBD is something we have been using for Kaiser's arthritis and also calms him for stressful events)
- Put the TV on all evening
- Put the radio on all day with either reggae, classical or a talk station
- Made dens for each dog to retreat to if they wished (under the dinning table for the rottweilers)
- Encouraged relaxing activities such as kongs, safe chews and searching games
MOST IMPORTANTLY - IT IS GOOD TO COMFORT A SCARED DOG if they want to be comforted. It used to be said that you shouldn't give a dog attention for being afraid, like you're somehow validating their excuse to be scared. Instead - imagine you're terrified of spiders. Being comforted might not make the spider go away but being comforted (in the right way) will not make you more afraid of the spider. If anything you'll appreciate the distraction and reassurance.
I hope all of your dogs are having a stress free time but if not, and you need some advice - please get i touch.
Thank you to everyone for their patience. I am returning to work 3 days a week for now. I currently have a really bad cold and keep losing my voice so I'm trying to complete phone call assessments when possible. Unfortunately, I'm struggling to keep up with every single email, phone call, voicemail, text, Facebook message and online submission, I apologise to those that are getting left out but along with myself and my daughter being unwell it's a crazy house! I look forward to doing more events and meeting new dogs and owners this year :-)
I had a baby! My daughter was born in January and has understandably taken up ALL of my time. I will be enjoying maternity leave for a while longer and due to popular demand may start an online 1-2-1 and group training service meanwhile.
During my months off I've managed to focus on my dog training theory and dog rescue work in the little spare time I get. I've helped reunite 6 lost dogs and their owners this year and hope to increase that number shortly.
Today I said farewell to the biggest inspiration in my life and one of my best friends. After 12years of love, Angel has now gone to heaven to join our family, friends and dogs. It is because of Angel that I gained my interest in dog training, had the courage to start my own pet care company and start Elite Dog Training. Rest in peace my beautiful girl, it has been an honour to have known you ANGEL XXXXX
So this weekend we held another Agility Event at Paws at The View in Chingford.
It was a brilliant success and thanks to the many lovely dogs and their owners who used our agility we managed to raise £100 for The Cinnamon Trust ! A big thank you to Primo Pet Services for their invaluable help!
Something I tell all of my clients is that they MUST continue training with their dogs - not just in training sessions with me but at home. I too have to regularly work with my dogs to keep their training current.
Dr. Ian Dunbar is a veterinarian, animal behaviourist, and dog trainer who received his veterinary degree and a Special Honours degree in Physiology & Biochemistry from the Royal Veterinary College (London University) plus a doctorate in animal behaviour from the Psychology Department at UC Berkeley, where he researched the development of social hierarchies and aggression in domestic dogs. So when I got the opportunity to watch his online lectures in my time off from work I jumped at the opportunity!
Dr. Dunbar’s SIRIUS® Dog Training Academy
Day 1 (6 x 1 hour lectures): Business, Promotion, People Training & Games
Day 2 (6 x 1 hour lectures): Behavior Counseling
Day 3 (6 x 1 hour lectures): Adult Dog Classes & Home Training
Day 4 (6 x 1 hour lectures): Puppy Classes & Home Training
Dr Dunbar's GROWL Workshop
Day 1 - (12x half hour long lectures) This workshop is intended for dogs that are reactive, but not especially dangerous, towards other dogs. They must also be friendly towards people.
Although I'm not new to these techniques I believe it is important to keep up to date on other force free trainer's methods and refresh my memory. Ian Dunbar is highly amusing and his GROWL workshopI would highly recommend.
With any dog, it's a good idea to keep their training up to date even as they get older. My youngest dogs are turning 6 this year and are happy and healthy. My Eldest dog is turning 12 - she is completely blind, has arthritis and has a few old age problems. The basic control training that we've kept up with my dogs means that we can all live in harmony a bit easier. If the blind dog is about to walk into something - we simply tell her to 'wait' and we direct her physically. If one of the younger dogs is in her way we can call them out of the way. It really does help especially in a multi-dog household.