Lickimats are a great source of enrichment for dogs and conversely are also something that can help and hinder our relationships with dogs.
If you Google Lickimats there are many companies who recommend their own and which ones are the best and their reasoning as well as lots of signposting to: "If your dog has separation anxiety give them a lickimat whilst you go out to work."
This can be dangerous because as we know dogs are amazing chewers and leaving an item that is quite flimsy even the hard shell plastic ones can be potentially dangerous if chewed and swallowed. We know when dogs are anxious especially around separation anxiety they tend to chew items.
Another signpost was a lickimat for "dogs who are afraid of thunderstorms and or fireworks."
But again there is no explanation of how to use these items to help dogs nor an assessment to understand if this will work for your dog.
Another understanding we have is when dogs are scared and or over threshold they don't want to eat, some dogs will consume food because it has been presented to them and they want to be biddable or they have become habituated to being presented food in scary situations.
This conversely can become a predictor that if a lickimat is presented something scary is coming.
I love enrichment, all things enrichment and Lickimats are a tool I love. However my dogs enjoy Lickimats several times a week. For no particular reason other than it's a part of their holistic care routines. I love them and I want to see them happy.
So as a part of their holistic care they get puzzle toys, food enrichment, training one on one, walks, decompression walks, training walks, sniffafari walks, they have an enrichment garden, they have a scent wall and access to their toys unconditionally and without limits.
They are also able to sleep undisturbed as much as they like and where they like.
This is an holistic set up and no one action indicates something scary or anxiety inducing is going to happen.
We all have something no matter how confident we are and if we are lucky enough to not suffer with anxiety as a disorder that bothers us. That makes us feel anxious or something we find unpleasant we have to do.
For some people it's talking on the phone, it's social gatherings, speaking to a particular family member, work, paying bills, watching the news.
So if when we had to do something scary we were presented with our favourite food for example we would come to resent that food and see it as a predictor of this food has been given to me which means I now have to ensure this thing that makes me super nervous and uncomfortable.
So to use enrichment as intended and properly so our dogs can enjoy the benefits that enrichment specifically Lickimats for this blog give we have to ensure that we use them holistically and a part of their normal life.
Not because there's a thunderstorm, fireworks or your leaving for work.
For the full benefits of enrichment make enrichment a part of everyday or every other day as much as you can to help your dog enjoy the full benefits of enrichment.
What you are paying for when you hire a Certified, Vetted and accredited Trainer and or Behaviourist
Lots of people think that dog training and behaviourist services are highly priced, which is fair enough. If you don't know enough about the industry of course you think it's over priced.
Many people think it's cuddling dogs or puppies most days.
This is so far from the truth lol. If you have read the about me section pinned to the top of this page you will know I am a part of many accredited memberships and have many qualifications.
As financially accessible the organisations make these memberships and courses they of course have to consider their time, the committees time, the secretary's time, the services that they offer us such as CPD and the entire vetting process annually.
For studies we have to consider the time of the individual or organisation and what they have had to use to access the materials for the course.
We also don't get paid for many of our hours. We don't get paid to study, many jobs pay for training days, we have venue costs, travel costs, wear and tear on the vehicle, costs for perishable items, we don't get paid for travel time, we don't get paid for behavioural notes.
Virtually, we don't get paid for electric, Internet and our time on building courses, making demonstration videos, follow up emails and behaviour notes.
We also don't get paid for liaising with other professionals, we also don't get paid for answering messages and or admin.
Many of us have to state on our contactable details that we aren't available 24/7 and we also need time and space as anyone else working as an employee but for us this isn't to watch TV, go out or chill, this is when we cram in admin and studying.
People get annoyed at us for not answering messages immediately or in unreasonable hours.
For many people in work when they leave the building that's it, there is no further contact or worry until the next shift.
We also don't get paid for annual leave, time off sick compassionate leave etc.
The amazing colleagues that I know who are jot independently wealthy or financially sound from a spouse, are not rich and barely scratch the surface with covering their costs and meeting their bills because they do it for the Dogs and the love of helping people with their dogs.
So when someone says that Dog Training or Behaviourists are expensive, ask them about that individuals credentials, the alphabet soup after their name and their CV because there is a reason the cost is what it is and however expensive someone thinks it is, the cost will only be touching the surface of the actual cost.
Image description: Storyboard layout with one big rectangle, two small squares underneath and a large rectangle at the bottom.
The top image is of a two tone blue sky, with trees and hedges in the background, there is a 7 door kennel, with different shades of grey roof, wooden panels on the left hand side, with stacks of dog food. The kennels have silver mesh doors, a pink mop bucket in front of the third kennel door and a wooden map handle. There is a man crouched tying a yellow toxic waste bag and a poop scoop shovel to his right. There is a woman with short blonde hair to the left bottom of the rectangle walking a Wolfdog on a pink truelove harness and a long black lead.
First left square has an outline of a human cross legged, with two tone pink short messy hair tucked behind her ears, wearing a mint green hoody, rolled at the elbows, blue jeans, black socks with green top toes. She is sat on a red/pink bean bag reading a book. The carpet is a beige brown, she also has a desk behind her with a glimpse of the back of an orange computer chair. The desk is brown and you can just see the right hand side of a computer monitor, there is a red and pink lava lamp on the right of the table. There are 3 shelves above the desk, the two in symmetry hold books and the top shelf holds three green succulent plants. One in a white planter one in a pink planter and one in a dark red planter.
In the right hand square is a computer monitor with the Geek Week Presenters screen, a pink post it note on the top right of the monitor and a white mug with a purple paw on the mug. On the left hand side of the brown desk top. The wall behind is magnolia.
In the bottom rectangle is a cream background with the text in the right hand middle of the screen with Black text with white stroke which reads "It takes a Village to holistically support a dog"
To the left is a woman with dark blonde hair, in a pastel red blouse, with grey trousers and her arms folded, with a fluffy white, brown and caramel Jack Russell sat in front of her.
Under her on the bottom left of the corner is a woman with purple hair two tone, in a purple hoodie, blue jeans, black trainers, sat in a Wheelchair holding a Clicker with a black and white Collie sat next to her panting.
Second to the left is a woman with grey hair in pigtails, her hair is grey and blueish, she is wearing a black full body wetsuit with dark blue patches. She has a golden retriever sat in front of her. The Golden Retriever is an orange and gold colour and is very fluffy and is panting.
Second to the right is a man with blonde hair with a lab coat over a pastel green shirt and blue trousers with white shoes. With a Wolfdog panting sat in front of him. He is brown, dark grey and cream.
In the right corner is a man sitting with a Wolfdog. He has black hair with green highlights, he is wearing an orange t-shirt with black baggy trousers and high top trainers that are white and grey with green laces. He is stroking a Wolfdog sat next to him. The Wolfdog is in a sit pretty pose, with tongue hanging out, brown in colour with a white chest and a black dipped tail and darker brown on the face.
A smart phone in the top right hand corner with 3 notification bars, to the left is a behavioural history form document. In the top middle is the computer monitor again but this time with the apps screen which contains Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.
Preparing your dog(s) for a baby and or Foster child
One of the common questions we get or emergency requests for appointments are when a baby is due imminently.
But we need to begin preparing the dog immediately.
Social services and Foster and adoption agencies request immediately helping the dog to adjust and prepare for the presence of the child at the start of the process and to have a Trainer or Behaviourist on board.
So we also need to do this for expectant babies too.
Allowing the dog to become used to the new furniture and items in the home such as cots, toys, blankets, clothes, moses baskets, dmys, bottles, sterilisers, changing platforms or even a room if there is a room being prepared for the baby.
Letting the dog interact with these items by being around them and becoming used to their presence as well as playing baby sounds on YouTube on a low volume and slowly increasing the sound over time. Here is an example but with fireworks and thunder https://youtu.be/MTw9M94J2_g
Working on the Calm Protocol by Dr. Karen Overall can be very beneficial https://journeydogtraining.com/karen-overalls-relaxation-protocol/ in preparation.
Working out how life will change and managing dog walks, the boundaries if any for the dog for example not having unsupervised access to nurseries or rooms when you aren't present.
So beginning working on boundaries prior to the new addition can help to desensitise them and help them to transition to the new way of living without being flooded by the new addition and then the sudden changes.
We have to be mindful that when there is a new addition in some respects the dogs world is going to become smaller with boundaries and not being able to have your full attention as well as disturbed nights sleep.
Another great resource is the Do No Harm Manual by Linda Michaels MA which can help you with various protocols and any changes in behaviours you may experience. https://gumroad.com/a/1016960115/LAVuz
Another great resource which is also international is KAD - Kids Around Dogs. Not only does KAD have approved and Vetted Trainers but also helpful handouts and courses as well as a book and resource recommendation list. https://kidsarounddogs.co.uk/