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.
Having a dog in your life is much like gardening.
During the winter you need to prep and research which plants you want to grow, which plants you will be successful in nurturing, depending on their needs. Of course check out the reviews from previous buyers and their opinions too because there's nothing worse than seeds that don't germinate.
Then you need to consider your planters and the housing for your seedlings, the compost, the fertiliser and whether or not you will need seed starter pods dependent on the species of seed.
And of course because of caring about the environment and the whole purpose of growing plants consider whether your going to have ethically sourced seeds, recycled cells and containers or whether your just going to go for standard plastic and the cheapest seeds on the market.
Then come late winter you need to begin sowing your seeds, and pretty soon your house begins looking like a British Garden Centre. Because they have to stay indoors whilst germinating and wait for the last frost.
Then your met with more problems of careful planning because some seeds need soaking for 12/24 hours before they can be sown.
Once the last frost has come and depending on the seed and how strong they are, you then need to prick them out and transplant them to a larger pot or a grow bag, or a pot and then onto a grow bag later and consider if the plant will need training, so then you need to work out a frame or bamboo sticks and twine to hold them whilst they grow.
And it still isn't over after all of this, you have to prune dead leaves to encourage more healthy growth and for fruit based plants to encourage the fruit. Water them, ensure they are in the correct lighting position or move them if needed and care and nurture your beloved plants.
Just like dogs some seeds and young plants will need more support and care than others, some will be independtly strong from sowing and thrive. Some will produce fruits and flowers and some will not.
However, when you see the weak seed you don't give up or write it off, you keep plugging away trying to maintain and establish this seed that seems to be struggling.
You may need extras, like fertiliser or special plant foods or liquid gold to help this weaker plant. Because your determined to see your project through.
Just like raising a dog.
It can be so easy to become disheartened, feel like you have failed or that your not enough for your dog. It's easy to think that your dog is taking over your home, just like the seedlings before they can move outside.
However, the relationships which are nurtured and the ones that challenge us and make us work harder, research more, consult Professionals are the ones that will give us the most.
I know its a strange analogy to refer to growing plants in comparison to dogs but some people like analogies and comparisons in an easy and relatable way to understand the situation.
I'm growing all of these plants for my dogs and animals to have home grown vegetables in their foods and also for enrichment. And throughout the process and including the Dogs in the process, it's easy to see comparisons in something that seems so drastically different but also the same.
Image description: first photo is a 24 cell seed tray, each cell filled with compost and white labels down the left hand row of the tray.
Second photo is of a tupperware tub with water and seeds in soak in their packets.
Third photo is of a tupperware tub with water and seed starter pods in soak, some beginning to expand.
Why are we being advised to have a Vet check there's nothing wrong with the dog…
It's just a behaviour change…
It's just a dominance thing…
They don't respect me as a leader/alpha…
They haven't been sick…
They're eating and drinking…
They haven't yelped….
They aren't acting ill or in pain…
These are just some of the responses we hear daily.
Every Pet owner from Dog to Horse to Hamster has a duty of care under the
Animal Welfare Act 2006 UK
Animal Welfare Act 1966 under federal law in the USA
Animal Welfare Act 1976 France
Animal Welfare Act 1972 Germany
Animal Welfare Act 2011 Netherlands
Animal Welfare Act 1985 Australia
… to meet the animals welfare needs. This means any behaviour changes must be seen by a vet to rule out pain and illness first and then ensure that steps are made to ensure the dog's welfare needs are addressed.
CAMs Arthritis Management on Facebook strives to educate owners on this issue. Arthritis for example can hit at any age not just old age!
Due to this they have set up #hollysarmy and #yourdogmoreyears because too many people leave it until it is too late. Canine Arthritis Management
Dogs are the best tricksters, they hide pain and illness from us so well. Sadly dogs see it as a disadvantage to show pain and feel vulnerable. This is why they hide pain so well.
We are not being horrible or it isn't that we can't be bothered to help you. It is because as Professionals we have a duty of care to support the Welfare of your dog!
Yes, your dog, as an individual who we have never met, we care about! We don't want to see your dog suffering. We study for endless hours and we have the knowledge to help you.
Here is a fantastic article from Dr. Sarah Heath concerning the behavioural effects of pain https://m.facebook.com/groups/664027960470508/permalink/1631858417020786/
My own Dogs have had several vet checks and the youngest is only 2 years old! This is because if I suspect pain or illness I want to eliminate it or support them as needed!
What exactly is a Vet check?
So when we recommend vet checks, quite often people think this is a booster appointment.
When you book an appointment for a vet check for pain and or behavioural changes you need to be specific when booking the appointment. Some vets will offer to do blood tests, x rays or refer on to a Canine Chiropractor or Hydrotherapist for example.
I also have a Chiropractor for maintenance.
So if we also recommend a Canine Chiropractor this is nothing we do not actively do ourselves.
We have to accept we do not know it all, even us Professionals which is why we are a team and all specialise in different areas, work together and study endlessly.
You for example could be a mechanic, an engineer, a Nurse or a Teacher for a living and if we came to you for advice we would listen to what you say. As you are a Professional and an expert in your field.
Please know we have your dog's best interest at heart. So please don't think we are fobbing you off or can't be bothered as we care too much if anything and this is why we recommend these courses of action.
Image description: light pink background with the title Vet Checks in brown.
Under in handwriting: why are we being asked to book a Vet check?
There is a Vet with blonde short hair, a green shirt, a white doctors coat and mint green scrub trousers with white trainers standing, with a Wolfdog in front of her.
There are bubbles of text surrounding them.
Displays of fear: this can be Cowering
Avoidance, Soiling, Growling
Displays of aggression
Your dog is a Rescue or Rehome and history is unknown
Waking through the night
A non - typical behaviour but known to have been a medical issue with other dogs
Changes in weight, appetite, appearance, thirst etc
These are only some of the reasons but all reasons are valid
Last week I was talking to Becky from BPawsitive (who is wonderful and we share the same ethics) about a chat I had with one of her mutual Clients.
The couple have a German Shepherd rescue and are wonderful owners. Doing everything that they can to support their dog.
It's completely normal to feel that you're not doing enough or not doing enough for your reactive dog. Because we love them and we are human and many humans feel guilt, stress and worry that they are not enough or have failed their beloved companion.
One thing that affects most owners of reactive dogs is that they want their dog to have doggy friends.
And its sad for us to hear this from dog owners as we know from Scientists and extensive research from observing dogs for endless months in third world villages that dogs aren't sociable animals and they don't move in groups or hang out. The most they found dogs to collectively join together was through scavenging at the same time at dusk. https://www.researchgate.net/.../37692202_Dogs-A...
As the world becomes more dense with dogs and more and more households own dogs its not uncommon to see dogs reacting to other dogs or showing fearful behaviours.
Does this mean the owners have failed the dog?
No, not at all. Because we know that this is an unnatural environment, we have a greater understanding of dogs all of the time. That genetics can play a big role in dog behaviour as well as exposure to environments.
Dogs don't actually need dog friends to thrive and in a lot of dogs cases, this can actually be the complete opposite.
Instead like the mutual Client, meeting the Dogs needs through enrichment, mental stimulation, training sessions, playing in the garden, scent driven walks and an enclosed field to run is meeting all of his needs to make him happy.
What doesn't make this dog happy is other dogs and he is really scared of them. So instead of seeking a solution to have dog friends the solution instead is to aid the fear and help him to cope when he sees other dogs. Not that he has to play with them, but changing his emotional feelings towards other dogs is the goal.
We as humans don't like all the other humans that we meet, some of us hate socialising with a passion and or are also unable to do this due to anxiety and other mental health issues which prohibits us from socialisation and some humans just find this too scary and uncomfortable.
Dogs have been Hollywoodvised for lack of a better word or Disneyvised, projecting unrealistic ideologies and expectations of dogs.
Lassie being a great example or Beethoven, or animated dogs saving the city and falling in love.
It does sound silly typing this out too, but we as humans do look to the ideologies we grow up with and are taught about how animals live and of course look to Google for solutions too.
But you and you alone are enough for your reactive dog and the goal shouldn't be to play with other dogs but to change the emotion and the fear of the presence of other dogs, humans, cars or whatever the trigger is.
These protocols are especially helpful for doing this:
Dr. Karen Overall Calm Protocol
Control Unleashed Reactive To Relaxed https://www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_fabc...
Hunting Together: Harnessing Predatory Chasing in Family Dogs through Motivation-Based Training (Predation Substitute Training) https://www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i...
Grisha Stewart: Bat 2.0 https://amzn.to/37iAgev
Fulfilling your reactive dogs life is about helping them with their fears and how they cope within the environment.
As well as the protocols you can also look at: sniffy walks, enclosed dog fields to hire, scentwork, tricks, conditioning, rally - o, enrichment, brain games, disc, canicross and so much more.
As well as online classes to avoid your dog being in a stressful environment surrounded by other dogs. As well as many more activities you can do with your dog one on one and let them enjoy life and you enjoy them equally.
Don't let the media and other sources put pressure onto you and your dog, meet your dog's needs as you see them as an individual.
Because we guarantee that your dog appreciates all that you do for them.
It's really hard but the reality is that dog owners, new and current, need to forget what they think they know about socialisation.
Science, teaches us that dogs as a species in the wild do not socialise, we know another Disney lie and certain dog TV programmes showing a unit with dogs running wild and lots of on camera splitting up of dog fights as well as in the news.
We know from Scientists and extensive research from observing dogs for endless months in third world villages that dogs aren't sociable animals and they don't move in groups or hang out. The most they found dogs to collectively join together was through scavenging at the same time at dusk. https://www.researchgate.net/.../37692202_Dogs-A...
There is a lot of misrepresentation going around at the moment, perhaps to further business or just because others do not know any better. But socialisation classes, puppy classes etc should not be about playing with other puppies.
What a lot of people do not realise until the dog is older is that pulling, barking, spinning, twisting and letting the entire area know that they are indeed out on a walk is that this too is reactive behaviour.
Because reactive behaviour is not limited to being frightened or aggressive to other dogs. Reactivity is a reaction within that moment and dogs who pull and shout at other dogs to "play" or refuse to relent until they have approached the other dog are in fact reacting.
The sad thing is that dogs are not taught socialisation in the way that Scientists, Behaviourists and Trainers mean.
Correct socialisation is socialisation to new environments, noises, the vehicles, being able to pass people and other dogs calmly as well as cats. Children, children running, on bikes, scooters, skateboards etc.
Lots of dogs are unable to cope with the world who were born or purchased through covid not because there wasn't an opportunity to socialise because there was for at least once a day through the main of the lockdown.
The problem indeed lies with off lead play and the humans keeping a distance, but a puppy with no recall or understanding of how to interact led to quite a few incidents on social media and the news daily.
This is something my colleagues and I do agree on and something we share in common. We are all pushing for correct socialisation opportunities and teaching, this is something especially highlighted to us all through covid.
NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour BPawsitive
Teaching your puppy or dog regardless of age super socialisation skills are not just limited to the above suggestions but you will also find further help from these sources.
The Do No Harm Manual https://gumroad.com/a/1016960115/LAVuz
Control Unleashed https://www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i...
Hunting Together: Harnessing Predatory Chasing in Family Dogs through Motivation-Based Training (Predation Substitute Training) https://www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i...
Bat 2.0 by Grisha Stewart https://amzn.to/3uwVs8u
Learning properly will not only help your dog but other dogs you and your dog meet. Not all dogs are wanting other dogs near them and you can do so much damage with an unruly pup or dog just as much as you can with a reactive dog who barks.
It's also really important to be aware of your local dog bylaws, if a dog is on lead and there is a dog attack or fight it is the off lead dog's owner who bears the responsibility for the incident.
If a dog is wearing yellow this also helps to distinguish them as needing space from other dogs. More can be read concerning dog specific law here by the wonderful Yellow Dog Charity guided by the very respected Trevor Cooper of dog law: https://www.yellowdoguk.co.uk/legal/
Image description: Stress Scale by Grisha Stewart
Play is something that a lot of Dog guardians struggle with. Whether it is playing with the dog out of embarrassment or not being play orientated or whether it is struggling to encourage the dog to play.
Dogs love play and enrichment and play is a big part of development for dogs and something they do within the litter well before leaving to go to a new home.
We often find dogs and puppies give unwanted behaviours such as chewing and destructive behaviours because of lack of stimulation.
Play also helps us to have a unique bond with our dogs and many trainers centre their training techniques around play as this also helps dogs to learn when they associate positive experiences with training.
Play is so important for impulse control, resource guarding, and being able to give natural behaviours.
Image description: a field with a sunset backdrop, two trees to the right hand side. A Wheelchair user holding a disc and a black Spaniel and grey and brown Wolfdog ready to play. To the left a dark grey and cream Wolfdog is holding a partially chewed purple Teddy in their mouth. A man in a green t shirt and blue jeans is stood facing the field throwing a tug toy for a Wolfdog leaping into the air to grab the toy.
Puppies and dogs in general
Lots of people become infuriated and or enraged when a puppy or dog chews an item, furniture etc and get cross at the dog or puppy. I personally got cross with myself for leaving items within reach, not supervising more, but never getting cross at them because they are babies and they were doing behaviours that are species appropriate. Chewing.
But something we as Dog Trainers and Behaviourists as a collective are guilty of not spreading enough education.
So first of all the best investment you can make today is the Do No Harm Manual by the fantastic Linda Michaels MA founder of the Do No Harm Dog Training Group you can grab a copy here and it will be the best investment you make for your dog regardless of where you are in your journey https://gumroad.com/a/1016960115/LAVuz and go join the Do No Harm Dog Training Group immediately for daily learning!!
Dog Trainers and Behaviourists are pre occupied with fights amongst eachother or trying to educate on why their method of training is the best instead of putting it out there to you, the general public.
Sadly, free information is limited and it is on TV you don't have great choices of where to learn about your dog. Google is a total nightmare and contradictory and YouTube can be awful and mentally draining.
The best advice I can give any dog guardian, owner, staff member is to join the Do No Harm Dog Training Group to learn the best way to work with any and all behaviours!
Trainers and Behaviourists are guilty of getting cross about particular tools and punishments. But as I found out from speaking to someone, there are people out there who genuinely do not know that there are kinder methods. But who want the best for their dog and also love their dog wholeheartedly.
I already have a YouTube channel full of instructional videos for lots and lots of training with over 1400 videos which you can access here for free https://youtube.com/channel/UCu00vAsiN-H8FmUombV3eBg
I share a ton of information on this page and will continue to do so, but if you use a rolled up newspaper, if you use aversive tools, if you physically punish your dog or rub their nose in it, then please reach out or join Do No Harm Dog Training which is free. You can join here https://www.facebook.com/groups/664027960470508/?ref=share
Always look for a Dog Trainer or Behaviourist who is Pet Professional Guild approved or IntoDogs or ICAN approved, look for the logos on their websites and social media's.
Don't be afraid to be totally honest about your current methods and ask how to change, because many of us are ready to help you in a none judgemental way and get you and your dog on the right track.
Image description: pink pastel background with white, purple and black spots. The top right has a black bubble which reads: Need help? Check out the Do No Harm Manual by Linda Michaels MA.
Under this is another black bubble with the text: These guys hold no responsibility. It is always the humans fault.
To the top right there is a Wolfdog doing a sit pretty with a sppech bubble with the text: "As a puppy I chewed a £200 Garmon watch"
A Wolfdog sitting with the speech bubble with the text: As a puppy I chewed the bed posts.
To the bottom right is a black and white Spaniel with the speech bubble "As a puppy I chewed the carpets"
To the bottom left is a Wolfdog in a play bow with the speech bubble "As a puppy I chewed the skirting board."
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/
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