Thursday, 31 July 2008

Pooch & Mutt: CLA Game Fair

Pooch & Mutt: CLA Game Fair

Pack your picnic, parasol and pooch - its holiday time!

The effect of the credit crunch has lead to an increasing number of Britons choosing to holiday closer to home. This means good news for our pooches who now get to avoid pet sitters and boarding kennels and can enjoy a break with you.

According to a recent survey conducted by Tripadvisor, 25% of pet owners say that animal stress was their biggest concern about travelling with a pet, yet over half of them have travelled with a pet before. It seems that the holiday industry has finally woken up to the fact that yes, we love spending time with our pets and more places now cater for dogs, eureka!

So if you’re one of many planning a staycation this year (that’s holidaying from home) then fear not as there are plenty of decent places you can go with your dog.

The paws-ibilities are endless. You can spoil your mutt to a luxury hotel break or just settle with the traditional outdoor holiday which will leave you with a bit of spare change.

Milo and I sniffed out a few dog friendly holidaying options.

Camping canines - This is a great idea especially for larger families with active dogs. The great thing about camping, besides being one of the cheapest ways to holiday, is that you can always be outdoors and you can move around as often as you like without being tied down to one place. Check out Dog Friendly Britain for a full directory on where to go camping and caravanning around the UK you will find some great places in picturesque Snowdonia and Yarmouth.

Beach breaks – Many UK beaches are closed to canines during the summer season so the last thing you want is to end up somewhere where your dog will be barred. Make sure you check that the beach you choose allows access to your dog. There are many beaches that do but they also come with strict poop scoop and lead regulations so don’t let your mutt run amuck. Designated beach areas of Bournemouth, Cornwall, Weymouth and Pembrokeshire will allow dogs to roam freely.

Countryside retreats – If you prefer to cut back on the pooch pound this summer and avoid 5 star hotels then a traditional rural cottage break is paw-fect for you and your canine companion. You can rent a cottage to get a good dose of flora and fauna whilst enjoying plenty of fresh outdoor walks and without having to worry about avoiding flocks of beach goers. Welcome cottages allow pets to stay free through a new Dogs Trust partnership so as well as booking yourself a holiday including your pet you will also be raising money for the trust.

In the lap of luxury – If you can justify a luxury retreat for you and your VIP (that’s very important pooch) then you can splash out on a dog friendly hotel for the weekend. There are plenty to choose from online. Most will typically charge a fee between £10 and £20 per dog per night. The Summer Lodge Country House in Dorset is a prime example of a place to get your paws onto for the ultimate short break. You can expect dog sitting and walking services, a range of pet beds to suit size and even an a la carte dog menu with room service included, how ruff can that be?

Next week Milo and I will be enjoying our very own doggy break so see you on the Pooch & Mutt blog when we get back!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

'We're all going on a summer howliday'

If, like the mayor of London, you intend to flee the UK to catch a few rays this summer and you aren’t fortunate enough to depend on someone close to look after your prize pooch, what do you do?

There are several boarding options available for dog owners, but remember that selecting the right place for your four legged friend is paramount to his wellbeing. It will not only mean returning home to a happier pet but will also help prevent any nasty behaviour creeping up later on in life.

It’s also important to bear in mind that like us humans, dogs can experience depression and separation anxiety when their owners leave them behind. This is particularly true for dogs that become attached to their owners. Dogs that thrive on being in packs, like dachshunds, tend to whine for company if left alone.

Amongst other physical problems moving a dog to a different home is often the cause of dog diarrhoea.

So if fido doesn’t have a pet passport then there are a number of responsible boarding options which will give you peace of mind whilst you sip your cocktails in the sun.

Here is a quick guide with a few places you can leave your dog if he can’t travel with you this summer.

Home sweet home

The ideal scenario for any pet owner is to leave your dog at home and hire a reliable pet sitter. Although this may be the priciest option it is the most comfortable as your dog won’t need to adapt to any strange surroundings or new companions.

There are several ways to find a professional pet sitter, the best option is to ask a friend to recommend one otherwise you can search on the Internet (always check that the person is registered and insured to take care of your dog in their or your home). If in doubt use a bespoke pet sitting agency such as Animal Aunts.

Kitsch Kennels

If you feel that your dog’s requirements are less needy then you can opt for traditional kennel boarding. If you are new to leaving your dog in a kennel then go and check out the property before you book it and ask if you can trial it by leaving your dog overnight to see how he adapts.

These days most kennels have some excellent facilities including webcams which allow you to see how your dog is getting on whilst you are away!

There are plenty of quality boarding kennels which will board your dog at a reasonable fee whilst still providing all the care needed.

Training trips

If you have a young dog or you want to improve your dog’s behaviour whilst you are away then look into selecting a kennel which provides on site training. This is wonderful for anyone how feels particularly worried about their pet’s behaviour in their absence.

The Royvon Dog Training School, for example, is perfect if you think your mutt could do with whipping those paws into shape whilst you are away. They offer on site behaviourists and trainers to guide your dog on a daily basis and even give you a recommended activity schedule according to breed and ability standards.

Pampered pets

However, if you want to spoil your pooch with a pampered retreat you can select one of the UK’s deluxe dog hotels. You may have to travel that extra mile however if you are keen to avoid boarding kennels altogether it pays to invest a little more time in finding that perfect canine holiday package.

A fabulous option is The Paw Seasons, a family run retreat which caters specifically for dogs and welcomes them into the home as their own pets. The Canine Country Club is another great option. The hotel offers 15 doggy suites equipped with single beds, furniture and under floor heating they even go as far as hanging pictures and ticking clocks in their suites to make your mutt feel right at home.

Don’t forget that your best friend deserves to be treated with the best care wherever you go this summer! Wherever you decide to leave your pooch this summer consider all your options carefully before you make your final decision.

However if you don’t want to leave your dog behind this summer you can opt to holiday in the UK and take your pooch with you. There are a number of dog friendly holiday options scattered around the UK and Ireland. Milo and I will be looking at some options for you next week.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Pooch & Mutt: The long and short of sausage dogs

Pooch & Mutt: The long and short of sausage dogs

The long and short of sausage dogs

Apparently, dachshunds are the most aggressive dogs in the world according to a recent survey in the news. Come on, how can a dog no taller than a foot harm anyone? Sausage dogs are safe pets provided they are trained properly.

I am the proud owner of a miniature dachshund, Milo, and when he is not busy helping me write this blog, he has the power to convert anyone into a dog lover, needless to say I still have all my fingers and ankles!

For those of you who aren’t hugely familiar with the breed, sausage dogs are far from dangerous and are definitely not inclined to bite their owners, or anyone else for that matter, unless they are provoked.

If they did then how bad could it be? Personally I would rather be bitten by a delirious dachshund than a raged rottweiler. There seems to be some sort of confusion between aggression and danger. However its important to remember that if any dog, regardless of its breed, is not properly trained by its owner, then it will be more prone to act unsociably.

Everyone knows that small dogs like dachshunds and Chihuahuas are noisier so they will naturally come across as more aggressive.

Dachshunds can be very loud but its all yap and no action. I like to think that what they lack in size they make up with their confident bark. For this reason these little mutts make excellent watchdogs, they just don’t realise their actual size (Milo still thinks he is a Doberman). Their alert ears make them excellent gate keepers to any household especially in the city where a typically larger guard dog would be harder to accommodate.

I admit that I am no breed expert, however having lived and breathed dachshunds for the last few years and by running my own dachshund dog club, I can certainly speak for most owners in London when I say that these dogs make devoted family pets.

Dachshunds are playful and energetic with a feisty demeanour, which is often compared to that of a terrier. These dogs were originally bred to hunt hence their shape and size, which can also cause them joint and back problems in old age.

From experience I can tell you their stubbornness can get the better of them at times but they are such comical characters and they really thrive on companionship which ultimately makes them wonderful four legged friends.

So, the long and short of it is that if you are a responsible dog owner you will discipline your dog and it will not be inclined to bite anyone.

Here are some tips to maintaining some doggy discipline so your pooch doesn’t make the headlines:

1. Combat clicker training - Learn how to clicker train your dog. This is proven to help with unsociable behaviour such as the door bell jitters

2. Leash discipline - Teach your dog leash discipline and avoid retractable leashes which allow the dog to walk at its own pace

3. Back to basics - Teaching your dog to understand basic commands such as sit, down, stay and heel will establish you as his alpha dog and teaches him to respect you and listen to you

4. Feed a supplement such as bionic biotic that can help relieve the digestive discomfort that could cause their aggression and contains magnesium, a natural calmant

5. Finally, if you are worried about your dog’s general behaviour its best to seek the advice of a professional dog listener or attend a local dog training school

Lisa and Milo reporting from Pooch & Mutt petquarters

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Pooch & Mutt: Dog Day Afternoons

Pooch & Mutt: Dog Day Afternoons

Dog Day Afternoons

This is the season of parks, picnics and parades and the best time of year to get your dog to drag you down to one of the years long awaited canine affairs.

Dog shows are a great way to socialise your best friend with other breeds and whilst your dog has a field day sniffing around you can pamper your pooch and indulge in some pet shopping.

If you are feeling confident enough you can even try your four paws at one of the many pet talent competitions which seem to be the craze of the moment.

And if your dog can’t dance then you can always opt for the waggiest tail or best looking mutt competitions. There are also lots of demos to watch so you might just discover a new sport for your best friend.

The summer is lined up with dogtastic days out for you and your mutt.

Next Tuesday The Macmillan Trust is holding a Dog Day in Chelsea to raise money for the charity. You might even catch a glimpse of some dog owning celebrities.

If you are looking at a weekend event, The Cold Wet Nose Show in Guildford is taking place on 12 July and is jammed with training sessions and canine entertainment.

On 2 August you can descend upon The Wag and Bone show in Windsor Great Park. Here you can visit the Pooch and Mutt stand and rub shoulders and paws with Britain’s Got Talent finalists, Kate and Gin!

And if you miss the earlier ones then you can always catch the last show of the summer, Paws in the Park which takes place on 13 September in Kent. Another popular dog show equally packed with agility shows and trade stands to get your paws onto.

However, before you venture out to enjoy some quality time with your pooch this summer here are a few tips for you so you don’t end up dogged out:
  • If you travel to any of these events by public transport try avoiding rush hour times to give your pet a more relaxing journey.
  • If you have a small dog and want to be extra cautious when you travel by car then invest in a dog car seat.
  • If you are planning on making quite a few trips this summer use a natural dog supplement that will help them cope with stress and any digestive problems.
  • Once you are at an event make sure you keep your dog’s lead on at all times (this is a standard requirement anyway).
  • Avoid staying in the sun between 12 and 3pm during the day and if you are spending most of the day outside then make sure you find some shade for your pooch or apply pet sun screen to sensitive areas.
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to bring some fresh water with you. You can buy portable dog water bottles at many pet stores and camping shops.