• The Trainer’s Pouch

    ‘Treat bags… it’s time to renew and I’d like a really good one this time.’ I asked for recommendations on Facebook group with like minded dog-training-mad people like me. I got 63 replies…

    Up to that point I’d been a Terry Ryan loyal, I was on my second one in four years. It was getting seriously smelly, and the hinges had never felt as flexible as on my first one. So I decided to try something new, and having seen so many people with Doggone Good products, I went for one of theirs. It was a similar experience and quite good also. Though again the problem was it not washing properly (and taking forever to dry). I often use raw treats for my dogs and it can get messy.

    So messy that one day late August I discovered that the seams of my beloved treat bag had come to life! I was tempted to drop it in the woods right there and run, but felt sorry for the person who’d think it was a good find. I threw it into the nearest bin and went home to re-start the search. I needed one that was not just easy to use, but also easy to clean.

    I stumbled across my first silicone pouch, a Great & Small ACTIVE pouch. I thought it was neat to use, easy to clean and the magnetic closure was a clever idea to prevent its content from falling out – or slow down dog noses wanting to go in. But it wasn’t perfect. For one, it wasn’t large enough. But its biggest fault was the clip… it didn’t allow it to be fastened securely, so it would keep falling off. This sparked another Facebook conversation where it turned out I wasn’t alone with my dilemma. What I’d just got was similar looking, but better than Dexas Popware Pooch Pouch a few of my friends were disappointed with. But still not right.

    At this point somebody suggested The Trainer’s Pouch… Coincidentally somebody wore one at one of our interactive play workshops, so I could look at it. It seemed a little ‘boxy’ and not as slick looking as the one I’d just bought, but I couldn’t fault its functionality. Fast forward a month or so and I got used to its looks… I’ve been happily using a black one, daily. I’d even like a pink one, although I’m not a pink kind of girl!

    It holds enough treats, and sometimes I sneak in a ball too. It sits securely with a good belt that has a loop so the end of the belt doesn’t dangle. Treats don’t fall out, as one of our tracking workshop participants has found, leaning forward with it repeatedly while laying a track. And most of all, it’s easy to clean, dries faster and doesn’t smell.

    It comes in a few colours. I have a black one and have seen it in all other colours, pink, purple and blue too (the latter not in the photo). They’re nice, strong colours.

    If I’m to be really sensitive, I’m finding the belt slightly clunky when the pouch is on the table – you have to be careful where you put the pouch when you take it off and how you position it on the table, or the weight of the belt could drag it to the floor. But this isn’t at all about the performance or usefulness of the pouch when worn. Yes, this pouch doesn’t have separate compartments for different sort of treats, but you could put a bag inside. And no, it doesn’t have a hook for poo bags etc, but I personally prefer to carry those elesewhere and keep my treat pouch for rewards. The shipping from Australia can get expensive, but if you want one, they are available in the UK from Yell Dog.

    Would I recommend it to a friend? Definitely.

     

  • Puppy Photography

    Guest blog by Alice Loder

    Photographing puppies can be a challenge. Just like children, puppies are easily distracted, extremely hyperactive and have short bursts of energy before they get bored and need a battery recharge. However, puppies are one of the most rewarding subjects. Not only because they change so quickly, giving the images a quality and timelessness, but also because the challenge really does pay off when you successfully capture all of that cuteness in one image.

    Puppies are not like dogs. Whether you are a photographer or a pet owner wanting to photograph your new arrival, no matter how much experience of photographing, you cannot apply the same techniques to puppies as you do adult dogs.

     

    1.Safety

    Puppies have delicate immune systems. Whether the owner chooses to vaccinate their puppy or not, it is important to be careful where you do the photo shoot. Very busy public places can be a higher risk of passing on nasty bugs and diseases, so go for a quieter and less populated location for puppies who haven’t had adequate exposure. Be also careful putting the puppy where it can jump off or get hold of things they can chew (including your equipment).

     

    2. Don’t set the bar too high

    Puppies are not accustomed to the same things as dogs, so taking a puppy out can create unpredictable reactions. Be aware that your puppy may find props, backgrounds, or something as simple as standing on a log scary. Whilst it’s great to have ideas of what you’d like to create, be realistic. If your puppy wants to run around instead of crossing its paws and tilting its head then go with it, save yourself frustration and the puppy a negative experience.

     

    3. Don’t do too much too soon

    It’s one of the biggest mistakes people make. Puppies, whilst they have a lot of energy, only have short bursts of it. So if you do action shots or play don’t do too much, or when it comes to getting the puppy to stay still or pose they will be tired and fed up.

     

    4. Use a longer lens

    Anything in a puppies face is edible. Therefore distance is your friend; it is also great for getting puppy to run back to you for some quick action shots!

     

    5. Be patient

    Puppies very rarely understand what you want. Whether it’s getting them to sit still, hold something in their mouth or run towards you, you need to expect to have to try a few times before you get the result. When it comes to making noises to get your puppy’s attention it’s important to not overdo it when one works. If you find a noise that makes puppy tilt his/her head save it for when you have the perfect shot lined up.

     

    The most important thing to remember, have fun! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and puppy to perform and you will find that with patience and fun you will get some creative shots to cherish before they get too big.

    Alice Loder is an international multi-award winning photographer specialising in canine and equine portraiture. Her passion is creating natural portraits capturing the essence of an animal’s character, challenging stereotypes and exploring the unknown. Alice is based in the UK travelling worldwide offering both corporate and private photo shoots, workshops, one-to-one tuition, branding and one-off original prints.

    One of her awards is Kennel Club Dog Photographer Of The Year 2014.

    Web: Alice Loder Photography | Facebook: Alice Loder Photography | Instagram: @aliceloderphotography

    Look up Alice’s photography workshop at Enjoy Your Dog on our Events page.

  • A Dozen Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Rescue Dog

    Guest blog by David Ryan

    1. She will not be grateful for you adopting her. Why should she? You are just one more thing that has happened to her over which she had no control, some of which have been worse than others. She may come to love you and her new home in time but don’t expect gratitude for “rescuing” her, because she doesn’t understand what you did.

    2. Adopting an adult is not easier than adopting a new puppy. Okay, she may be house-trained (but not necessarily in your house) and not need to toilet through the night, but you are dealing with a dog that already has expectations of how you will behave towards her and re-learning how to respond is more difficult than first learning. Initially you should be prepared to put in at least as much time and effort as you would with a puppy.

    3. She does not know your rules. She has lived with some human rules before (maybe – maybe not if you import a street-dog) but they won’t be the same as yours. Where is she allowed? On the carpet? On the sofa? On the bed? On your knee? When, where and what is she allowed to eat? Food dropped on the floor? Free wild-food (horse manure and squirrels)? Your petunias? She will do what she has done before and, again, re-learning is harder than first learning.

    4. She does not know you from Adam (especially if you keep wearing that fig leaf). Why should she do what you say? Because you rescued her (see 1 above)? She may take time to love you and maybe six months before she trusts you (if ever, depending upon what has happened to her previously). She won’t necessarily want to come back to you when you call her – especially if something more interesting/edible/worrying/fun is happening over there.

    5. She will not automatically get on with your other dog/ cat/ hamster/ child/ husband/ hair-dryer/ vacuum cleaner/ traditional training methods… Dogs are individuals with personalities. Many dogs can accommodate changes and adapt accordingly but this will need time and effort. Sometimes some just can’t.

    6. She is not your last dog. She may have the same number of legs and cute floppy ears, but she is not a replica of any dog you have ever had. She can replace the place in your heart that your last dog left empty, but she cannot replicate them – even if she is the spitting image – so don’t expect her to.

    7. She will have odd habits (perhaps amusing, or disgusting). People allow or encourage their pets to do the weirdest things: taking food from her bowl and bringing it into the living room to eat one piece at a time, licking the plates in the dishwasher, licking her bum then your face (kisses for mummy!) or re-eating vomit (more kisses!) –  and the dog might consider these normal.

    8. People lie. Or at least are economical with the truth. Do not believe everything on the form the previous owner filled in. They were trying to get their dog adopted and may have glossed over what they think might be her faults – especially if they feel embarrassed about them. Q. Where does she sleep? A. In the kitchen (for the first five minutes until she sneaks upstairs and spends the night in bed with me). Q. What does she eat? A. “GoodBoy!” dog kibble (after I’ve mixed minced beef and gravy with it and fed it to her on a spoon).

    9. Rescue societies aren’t perfect. They do their best to match dogs with owners, but might not know that the dog you’re adopting has a tendency to howl the house down when left (the previous owner might not have mentioned it) or that she chews shoes, or hates postmen, or humps cushions or… You might need to work with her a bit…

    10. She WILL be stressed when she arrives. The most stressful life events for humans are the loss of a loved one and moving home. She’s just experienced both at once (regardless of how bad they were). She is in a new place with odd rules, which she worries about getting wrong. This will make her nervous and less tolerant of being pestered (for example by dogs on walks or by visiting children). She will feel apprehensive and defensive. Give her a break. Be hyper-attentive of her needs. Does she need to walk away from that yappy dog? Does she need a treat to reward her for coming away? She needs guidance (Guide & Control). Provide it for her before her stress levels tip her into using problematic behaviour. In time her stress will ease as she becomes used to her new situation.

    12. She may have a Honeymoon Period. No, not giggly holding hands with flowers, champagne and chocolates, but because she stressed and everything is new, she might not do anything at all for a while (varies but about a month isn’t unusual). Then, when she’s sussed out the new place and folks, she will revert to how she has behaved previously. This might be some forms of problematic behaviour that resulted in her being given up for adoption in the first place. Don’t be another human that gives up on her – work with her.

    12. Treat her right and she will bring you joy. There isn’t a day that will pass that she won’t make you smile – probably when she tries to help you rebury the daffodils she has just proudly dug up for you. Or when the postman pats her on the head and says, “What a nice dog, where did you get her?”

    David Ryan was a police dog handler and Home Office accredited instructor for 26 years, helping to lead the revolution in professional dog training out of the ‘push, pull and shout’ methods. He was the first police dog instructor to be awarded Southampton University’s postgraduate diploma in companion animal behaviour counselling and also the first to be accepted as a full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, serving as Chair from 2009 to 2012. He is certified as a Clinical Animal Behaviourist by the independent Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour and has a unique blend of practical experience and theoretical knowledge of canine behaviour.

    Now retired from the police service, he helps local charities with their more problematic dogs. He has presented educational study days for the Companion Animal Behaviour Therapy Study Group and the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors and has lectured at the Wood Green Animal Shelter, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and to BSc animal behaviour students at Myerscough College and Bishop Burton College. He is currently a visiting lecturer on Newcastle University’s MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare.

    David appears as a legal expert witness in canine behaviour in civil and criminal cases and has been an independently verified member of the Register of Expert Witnesses since 2008. He is regularly instructed in cases involving alleged pit bull terriers, dogs alleged to have been dangerously out of control, cases of negligence and those involving the 1971 Animals Act, and cases where interpretation of police dogs and their handling are required.

    David has written and published four books and contributed to a fifth: Guide & Control Your Pet Dog’s Behaviour, Dogs that Bite and Fight, Dog Secrets, “Stop!” How to Control Predatory Chasing in Dogs and Chapter 2, Our relationship with dogs in David Appleby’s The APBC Book of Companion Animal Behaviour.

    David’s website: Dog Secrets

    You can book David’s Dogs That Bite and Fight seminar at Enjoy Your Dog on our Events page.

  • Black Dog Photography

    Guest blog by Alice Loder

    Black dogs come in different colours! Varying amounts of hair, size and physical characteristics, environment, light conditions and the dog’s nature all contribute to making black dogs a photographer’s nightmare.

    This doesn’t have to be the case. Go out armed with these tools and have fun!

     

    1. Avoid direct sun

    Don’t assume that because a black dog is dark, more light will show up all those gorgeous tiny details. In bright direct sunlight your camera will be unable to expose both the highlights and the lowlights. You’ll end up with a high contrast, blocky image that shows little more than a black dog with no eyes or tone, against a garish overblown background.

    Tackle this by bringing your black dog into a large shaded area i.e. under a big tree, under softer light, which will evenly light your dog allowing all of the tonal detail and coat shine to appear. Indoors, use a window with netting that will diffuse the light creating gorgeous soft highlights.

    Top tip: find an area where the light changes in the background, with ‘light rays’. Put your dog a few metres in front of them, to create a lovely sense of depth and shape in the background, drawing the attention to the dog.

     

    2. Choose your moment

    In the summer most photographers favour early morning and late evening. The 20 to 30 minutes after sunrise and before sunset (depending on the season and latitude) are referred to as ‘the golden hour’ (or ‘civil twilight’), when the sun is lower and therefore illuminates the atmosphere creating stunning colours. Just after sunset, the colours of the sky change most rapidly. Clouds in the West are illuminated by orange-red sunlight, while the ones in the East remain blue and indigo.

    Aside from the obvious gorgeous colours in the sky, the light becomes diffused and soft. During the summer months when you’re already battling hard light and it’s too hot for your black canine friend, photographing during just before sunset or sunrise means you are not restricted to shady areas. Your dog won’t overheat so less wagging tongues and more action shots!

    Top tip: Take advantage of the colours that the sun can create. If a gorgeous red appears, find colours in the background to compliment or even contrast against this. Fern, sand and tree bark are brilliant backgrounds to use during a warm golden summer sunset as they bring out all tones and textures around the dog.

     

    3. Add water

    We have covered how to manipulate light from above and to the side. But you might still end up with a nicely lit face resting on a big black blob and no definition in the chest or body. Interesting but subtle ‘bibs’ or other white markings can easily be lost.

    The choice of background can have a huge effect on the overall success of an image. Nature gives us many tools and one of them is water. A nice reflective puddle can be your best friend. Water not only creates gorgeous reflections, which can be artistic, quirky and unusual but is a natural reflector.

    Top tip: use a small puddle to one side of the dog and crop the legs out to create a nicely lit portrait where you can’t see the light source. Or go to town and take advantage of the atmosphere, shape and colours that water can produce. Not to the mention the lovely shine that a wet coat can create on sleeker breeds.

     

    4. A great pair of eyes

    An owner of a black (or dark) dog will know just how much those eyes can tell you, the simplicity of black and gold when put together is a colour combination that gets everybody excited. Many of the most emotive portraits of dogs are done using a simple background and a black dogs because when you take out all of the ‘clutter’ and distraction of colour and setting and you just focus on the expression and charisma that a dogs eyes can give you, you can create simple, beautiful art that gets every owner feeling goose bumps.

    So how do we go about getting those eyes bright and twinkly? We have covered light from above, from one side and from below. For a dog with a lot of hair or much smaller eyes, when light still can’t quite get to the dog, use extra light. Wear white, use flash or add a light from a torch, iPhone etc, to create a reflection and get that ‘twinkly’ look.

    Fun fact: a study, by Miho Nagasawa of Azabu University in Japan, 2009, found owners and dogs sharing a long mutual gaze had higher levels of oxytocin (the ‘cuddle drug’) than owners of dogs giving a shorter gaze.

     

    5. Consider stereotypes and breed specific characteristics

    ‘Black dog syndrome’ is about black dogs believed to be the ones less likely to be adopted from shelters and rescue charities. Studies conducted haven’t confirmed, but haven’t disproved the theory either. They showed however that location and surrounding areas have a lot of influence on the success rate of black dogs. Why?

    Films, stories and songs hugely influenced the creation of stereotypes and superstitions around dark faces. Many films use dark-faced dogs with pointy ears and wolf-like features for negative effect. In animations, certain dark-faced breeds portray the ‘baddies’, while the softer faced, floppy eared breeds are the ‘good guys’. Some cultures believe dogs to be evil, and there is reason to believe that the inability to distinguish the eyes can create negativity around facial expression, body language and general subconscious assumptions.

    To draw attention to the positive qualities of darker faces, remove negative characteristics as much as possible. Panting and showing teeth, ears back tightening the forehead and causing eyes to look sharper or low head poses with a strong eye contact can all create a dominant or imposing impression. Looking up at the camera, lying down, heads tilting, or looking past the camera can draw attention to more subtle characteristics of stereotyped breeds.

     

    6. Take perspective

    This involves doing anything other than what you would usually do.

    Extreme angles are more aesthetically pleasing than ‘in between’ angles or those we are used to seeing with our own eyes. Lie on the ground and look up at the dog, to create a fun artistic silhouette and use the dark canvas to your advantage. Look directly down at the dog to create a different perspective and add a nice reflection of the sky in the eyes.

     

    7. No tongues!

    Tongues mean kisses when it comes to your pet, but in a photograph only lead to big blobs of pink and maybe slobber and drool. With a black canvas any vibrant colour stands out, so dogs will look extremely ‘mouthy’. Drooling black dogs are even less appealing, dribble and slobber reflect light creating a sparkle where it’s not wanted.

    Keep your dog hydrated and have a hand tissue when out and about to rectify this.

     

    8. Brown or blue? 

    Using the colours around the dog carefully can either compliment or distract from the natural colours of that individual dog.

    When it comes to complimentary lighting and backgrounds, dogs with more of a brown hue can have less shine to their coat and can benefit from contrasting colours such as green or blue. Dogs with a silvery blue tinge to their coat can really compliment golden and red colours around them. If a black dog with a slightly browner coat is put around warmer colours it accentuates the brownish red tones in their coat and can make them look almost liver coloured.

     

    9. Position your dog

    This will help you create more perspective and detail.

    Getting a dog to lie down can cause the body to become one big shape, while a sit or down with paws on something helps to break up the overall shape and allow light to show up the different curves and lines of the dog’s body. Instead of looking head-on at a dog with a white chest try sitting the dog at an angle with its chest facing diagonally towards you and the white area creating a break.

     

    10. Prepare

    You can make a difference without expensive equipment or a whole team of lighting technicians around you.

    Wear white or light clothing. A simple white top can help to reflect enough light to get a twinkle in the eye on a nice day, just make sure you wash out the muddy paw prints afterwards!

    A piece of cardboard covered in foil will also act as a good reflector to pop under the dog to reflect light under the chin and onto the chest, or to prop against something to reflect onto the dog.

    Make sure your dog is clean, dirty dogs don’t shine. No need to bathe your dog every time you take them out, but a simple brush over will push the oils down the hair and make the ends a little shinier. For dogs with longer hair that can naturally be quite dull you can buy simple products for creating shine and sparkle. Make sure these are dog friendly and brush them out afterwards as they can be quite oily.

    Black dog photography is just like all photography: reduce the unwanted factors and increase your chances of success.

    Alice Loder is an international multi-award winning photographer specialising in canine and equine portraiture. Her passion is creating natural portraits capturing the essence of an animal’s character, challenging stereotypes and exploring the unknown. Alice is based in the UK travelling worldwide offering both corporate and private photo shoots, workshops, one-to-one tuition, branding and one-off original prints.

    One of her awards is Kennel Club Dog Photographer Of The Year 2014.

    Web: Alice Loder Photography | Facebook: Alice Loder Photography | Instagram: @aliceloderphotography

    Look up Alice’s photography workshop at Enjoy Your Dog on our Events page.

  • A Little Win from Everyday

    Guest blog by Craig Ogilvie

    As dog lovers we all have a set of goals that we would like to achieve as a team with our canine companions. Our goals will naturally vary depending on our lifestyle and aspirations.

    Whether your goals are to work together with you dog to earn a first place or to help your dog become your perfect companion, here are few guidelines to help you map out your path to success.

    Firstly, become very clear and specific on the goals that you would like to achieve with your dog. Once you are clear on your goals write them down on a piece of paper and stick the piece of paper in a place so that you will see them every day. This will give you a clear set of goals to work towards.

    Secondly, take each one of your goals and separate it in to as many little steps as possible. Often if we just have one huge goal that we strive towards with our dogs we can become overwhelmed by the task at hand and lose focus. Breaking your goals down in this way will give you the ability to work together as a team with your dog towards a part of each of your goals every day.

    Thirdly, be sure to take a little win away from every day. What do I mean? By following this plan your goals will be laid out step by step. You will not have to spend hours at one-time training with your dog to work towards your goals. Instead you can structure short positive training sessions at times of the day to suit your lifestyle. Try not to focus on the duration of your training sessions, instead focus on the quality of what you have covered during the session.

    Focus on taking a little win away from each training session in the form of a positive step forward. This will mark a positive end to each little training session and leave you both eager to start the next session.

    Big goals are achieved as part of a process that involves lots of little wins. If you and your dog take a little win away from every day together there will be no stopping you.

    Craig Ogilvie makes you the centre of your dog’s world. Having spent a great deal of time training and testing working dogs in locations all over Europe, he very quickly went on to achieve unique accreditation. He is the first and only person from the UK to be licensed to test and train dogs internationally in the working dog sport called Mondioring, which consists of Obedience, Agility and Criminal Apprehension. He is one of the very few experienced and qualified civilian Police Dog Training instructors in the UK, a dog behaviour practitioner, seminar leader, author, and public speaker. His passion and study of training, interacting and communicating with dogs led to his discovery of the Interactive Play Experience and How To Become The Centre Of Your Dog’s World. He has been delivering his systems worldwide via sell out workshops, seminars and online training, helping dog lovers all over the world to achieve their goals.

    Web: Love for Dogs  |  Facebook: Craig Ogilvie | Instagram: @craigogilvielfd

    See dates for Craig’s talks and workshops at Enjoy Your Dog on our Events page!