Wednesday, 31 December 2014


  1. The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. A dog on a retractable leash is often able to run into the middle of the street, for example, or make uninvited contact with other dogs or people.
  2. In the above scenario, or one in which your pet is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises. It's much easier to regain control of – or protect -- a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he's 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string.
  3. The thin cord of a retractable leash can break – especially when a powerful dog is on the other end of it. If a strong, good-sized dog takes off at full speed, the cord can snap. Not only can that put the dog and whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and injure the human at the other end.
  4. If a dog walker gets tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash, or grabs it in an attempt to reel in their dog, it can result in burns, cuts, and even amputation. In addition, many people have been pulled right off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the leash and keeps going. This can result in bruises, "road rash," broken bones, and worse.
  5. Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the leash, including neck wounds, lacerated tracheas, and injuries to the spine.
  6. Retractable leashes allow dogs more freedom to pull at the end of them, which can look like aggression to another dog who may decide to "fight back."
  7. The handles of retractable leashes are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog.
  8. Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are terrorised by the sound of a dropped retractable leash handle and may take off running, which is dangerous enough. To make matters worse, the object of the poor dog's fear is then "chasing" her, and if the leash is retracting as she runs, the handle is gaining ground on her – she can't escape it. Even if this scenario ultimately ends without physical harm to the dog (or anyone else), it can create lingering fear in the dog not only of leashes, but also of being walked.
  9. Retractable leashes, like most retractable devices, have a tendency to malfunction over time, either refusing to extend, refusing to retract, or unspooling at will.
  10. Retractable leashes are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven't been trained to walk politely on a regular leash. By their very nature, retractables train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.

If your dog is well trained, gentle mannered and smart enough to master a regular leash and a retractable leash without being confused, you could be one of the rare guardians that can walk your pooch on any kind of leash without increasing risks to either one of you. 

extract from the Healthy Pets website with Dr. Karen Becker.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014


How many times have I heard that? As a reward based trainer I am often asked, “but what do you do when your dog refuses to comply when he clearly knows the command”. I usually reply like this. 
There are many reasons why a dog may not comply to a cue that he already knows. Stubbornness, Dominance, and wilfulness are rarely the reasons. Whilst it is clearly very frustrating when your dog “ignores” you, its worth the time, effort and saves your sanity to try and take a step back for a moment and work out what the cause might be. This is often easier said than done in the heat of the moment. Its worth remembering that even though your dog may have learned a behaviour and performed it solidly many times before it doesn’t mean that in certain situations it may not remember what the behaviour is to the cue that you give. Let me liken it to a human example. I walked into a shop last week and was greeted by a woman who smiled and began talking to me like we were old friends. she asked me had I had a good xmas and even asked how my wife was. I recognised her face but at that moment I could not remember her name. I knew that deep in the recesses of my mind her name was there but at that moment she had caught me off guard and I could not make the association of where I knew her from and her name. An hour after I met her and long after I had left the shop her name came back to me. And at that point I realised why I couldn’t make the connection. I normally see this woman in a working environment away from this social environment and because it was out of context I had at that moment not put two and two together. I am sure you have all done this at one time or another. Well your dogs are no different. Just because they can perform a solid ‘come when called’ in the house and even in the garden both on lead and off doesn’t mean they can do it outside when they are in a different environment. Another reason they may not respond immediately to a cue is that there may be more powerful distractors going on at the time. Again if I liken it to a human example. If you have kids and they are busy playing video games and you call them in to the dining room for dinner they may not hear you at first time of calling because they are so engrossed in the video game. Your dog may be just as engrossed in whatever he is doing when you give a cue. Like chasing a bunny or sniffing something really interesting. So when you give the come command he may be to distracted to respond. You owe it to yourself and the relationship you have with your dog to take a step back the next time he doesn’t respond right away, and think, what reason might there be for my dog not responding other than just plain ignoring me.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


In a recent address at the Vatican, Pope Francis issued a statement that is sure to comfort those of faith who have lost a beloved pet. He stated that all animals go to heaven.
"The Holy Scriptures teach us that the realization of this wonderful plan covers all that is around us, and that came out of the thought and the heart of God," Francis was quoted  as saying by the Italian News site Rsapubblica. "Heaven is open to all creatures, and there [they] will be vested with the joy and love of God, without limits."
Francis is a known animal lover. He adopted his papal name Francis, in honor of the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi. 
Over his term, the Pope has demonstrated his love of animals. He has given an impromptu blessing to a guide dog of a journalist and also welcomed the dog of a homeless man to celebrate his birthday. Source Blog “Welcome to DogHeirs, where Dogs Are Family.

The French Philosopher Renee Descartes must be turning in his grave. His idea about dogs was that they had no degree of intelligence and merely related and reacted to their immediate environments. And they did not possess the ability to problem solve or reason, Biological robots if you like. This view was borne out by religious beliefs of this time that held that ‘with intelligence comes consciousness and consciousness meant having a soul. Any being having a soul had to be admitted to heaven and the thought of dogs being admitted to heaven had an influence on Descartes point of view with regards to the intelligence of dogs. It wasn’t until Charles Darwins theory of evolution that it was the degrees of intelligence that separated all species. And that all species possessed some intelligence. The difficulty was in measuring that intelligence. Measuring intelligence in dogs is not easy. We could point to how quickly a dog can learn. But if during training the reward is not perceived to be high enough then a dog may take longer to learn the behaviour. For the best results we not only have to match the reward with the behaviour but possibly also the type of dog. Is he a chaser, digger, herder, guarder? Unfortunately training is not a “One size fits all” thing. But then thats what makes it interesting.  See you soon……..