Dogs have needs!

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Domestication has done wonderful things in producing an animal that likes to live with us and is pretty tolerant of us and our human ways.

Our dogs don’t have much choice in most of what happens to them – they don’t choose to be born, they don’t choose the human they go home with, they don’t choose to live a life of virtual social isolation while their humans work long hours or they are confined to kennel accommodation for chunks of time, they don’t choose to have such limited access to their world especially their olfactory world, they don’t choose a sedentary life; they don’t really get to choose too much of the things we expose them to in our human world.

Because of just how awesome dogs are, they appear pretty tolerant so we often assume they are living a good dog-life and that we are meeting their needs.

But, are we?

What is a good dog-life?

I often say that dogs are here for a good time, not for a long time. We can help them live every day to the fullest and have the best dog-life by prioritising their needs.

Before we can consider “obedience”, before we can achieve success working on behaviour ‘problems’ and before we can expect them to live up to our human ideals, we first consider the dog’s needs. No point going much further without this.

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Dogs must have:

  • social contact and interaction with humans. We have spent many many thousands upon thousands of years making dogs like us more than other dogs.
    The best company for a dog is human company and it’s especially important for young dogs to just be around human life. That’s how they develop appropriate social skills, which is pretty tricky if they are socially isolated for much of the day.
  • dogs need to be able to interact or not, having the time to choose, and have safe spaces for relief from interactions.
    Humans often assume social interaction means contact and human-like contact such as hugs and petting. Dogs like to be close to their nearest and dearest and the ultimate in bonding is to lie in contact with you – no petting or hugging required!
  • appropriate challenge through mental and physical enrichment is always our central focus – if you get that right, the rest of it falls into place
  • functional spaces are important to dogs; they, like humans, prefer to have specific areas for feeding, sleeping, resting, hanging out, playing, toileting and so on.
    They don’t need a “den”, because they aren’t denning animals but will appreciate their own space and choice to interact.
    An enriched environment makes sure that the dog has access to and choice in functional space.
  • predictability and controllability are the ultimate in stress busters; “I know what’s about to happen to me” AND “I have behavioural solutions to deal with it”
    One or the other isn’t enough, for a stress-less life, your dog needs both.

    Welfare is assessed from the animal’s point of view. Dogs have needs that we must meet and might have to make specific efforts to meet because these needs might not be a normal part of our human life, with which we expect our dogs to cope. Think dog so you can give your dog the best dog-life.

    #100daysofenrichment does just this – it meets dogs needs by helping pet owners with ideas, plans and supports. Join in, dip in, have fun!

Take care of yourself.

Recently, I saw a meme saying something along the lines of, if you died, your job would replace you by the end of the week but your family will never replace you so spend your time wisely. Something like these:

These feel good memes make us feel warm and fuzzy for a split second as we scroll by. But rarely do they offer any actual usable and applicable advice or guidance.

This one got me thinking, though; I’m often thinking about time and how little I have and how poorly I prioritise and look after my time.

I know that, while my clients and students might miss me, they will be able to source suitable resources or another professional to help them achieve their goals. I am under no illusions!

I love my job and I really do aim for 100% commitment to bringing my clients and students the best support.
And in doing that, my nearest and dearest are definitely the ones I eek time from to give to my job. An unwilling compromise, perhaps.

I am sure many many self employed people will find this familiar and as so many in our industry tend to run their own businesses, this is likely something that is experienced by my colleagues, my students and other members of my community.

Professional Boundaries & Self-Care

There is a lot of talk about burnout and compassion fatigue in our industry, and, I am sure, many others. And rightly so; in animal care, we are notoriously bad at setting boundaries and prioritising our own care.

Self-care is presented and often thought of inaccurately and this piece does a great job of clarifying what it should be: Self-Care is not an Indulgence. It’s a Discipline.

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This in-depth piece from HBR shows that Burnout is about your workplace, not your people.
This piece reports on a Gallup survey of 7,500 employees, finding the top reasons for burnout are unfair treatment at work, an unmanageable workload, lack of role clarity, lack of communication and support from management, and unreasonable time pressure. These are organisational issues, rather than being under the control of the individual.

But this becomes more difficult when you are both your workplace and your people!

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Boundaries.

What are your boundaries and how do you set them? Be clear about both personal and professional boundaries and commit to them.

Things will pop up causing you to feel like you must compromise. Knowing your boundaries is one thing but it’s quite another to have the where-with-all to stick to them. Write company policies that help support you in committing to the boundaries you have set.

In the modern office-anywhere-and-everywhere, it’s important that you clarify and communicate boundaries in relation to hours of business, availability and responsibilities.

Use features on phones and messaging apps, such as setting to “do not disturb”, using automatic replies and redirecting communication to a more convenient medium, for example, instead of calling, please email.

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Setting boundaries can seem daunting; be clear in what you can realistically do. Decide what your priorities are for a time period – what are the no-go areas? This might mean your phone is turned off or put out of sight during family time, for example.

Have a plan for when you feel your boundaries are being pushed. Take a step back and consider your course of action, rather than just reacting. Maybe you need some time to consider how you will respond.

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Last minute appointments are not vital. Don’t squeeze them in if it doesn’t work for you. Remember, commit to what you can realistically do.

Giving free advice can be risky. First, know your worth and know that free advice is often not valued. But, offering advice without appropriate information gathering may be dangerous and ultimately damaging at a number of levels. We have responsibilities in our profession and gathering information appropriately before advising is important for safety and efficacy.

Make sure to communicate boundaries with your behaviour, and not just words. If something is not possible, it’s not possible. If you’re not available, you’re not available.

No is a complete sentence.

You can say no. Be polite about it and don’t hurt someone’s feelings or cause them to feel bad for asking. Redirect their behaviour and their request.

At the same time, you don’t need to be overly apologetic. Reframe problems into solutions; this helps your approach and that of your clients.

You can take time to think about how you say no, or whether you want to say no. Consider scheduling and define priorities.
Let the person know that you are considering their request and that you will revert as soon as possible. Don’t leave ’em hanging!

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Define your role and responsibilities.

What is your job description? Define your role.

List out your responsibilities to your clients. To their pets.

That’s what you can do and that’s all you can do.

In our world, we are all about the animal and its safety and comfort. We can find it hard to compromise on this, but if we are not caring for ourselves, we won’t be much good in caring for others.

But, we must also be all about the humans, and the human-pet relationship. Sometimes, we find it difficult to put the same emphasis on applying our skills to the human end of the leash. It takes practice, for sure, and unfortunately many trainer education programs don’t emphasise this understanding, but we do. And we are. Here and right now.

You can’t control other people. You can only do your best and you must commit to that. Be honest about your skill set and knowledge. And be your best.
You can’t take personal responsibility for others’ behaviour. Your roles are based in supporting, teaching, educating, mentoring, coaching, counselling. Be your best at those; that’s where your energy needs to go.

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Expectations.

How do you communicate the expectations that clients can realistically have of you?

They can’t understand your expectations unless you tell them!

What do they need to do to prepare for your session, how will you contact them, what are the sales T&Cs, what are your policies about cancelling, rescheduling, refunding?

What can they expect from you?

Be clear and communicate your expectations early on, before everything is booked and paid for. Before there will be confusion or disappointment. Before there is drama and distress.

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Policies policies policies

A big part of business planning must be defining policies, and related procedures, for your business, your company and the day-to-day running.

Define boundary-breaking behaviours that stress you out, or could potentially stress you out. Have clear policies within your business for these to avoid them becoming a problem.

Update your policies based on feedback from your business performance. Record data and adjust and refine regularly.

The biggest challenge for new business owners, is that you are afraid to let anyone down or turn away business. I get it. But, before you even start, you need to erect those boundaries and have your business policies reflect them. And stick to them.

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Stop celebrating exhaustion and over-work.

Compared to self-employed people, employees have a lot of provisions and protections in place to make sure they get appropriate breaks and have time off.

Do you know the legislated breaks and holidays for employees?
You are an employee in your business and it’s time you looked at making sure you have adequate breaks and holidays. Establish boundaries and policies and stick to your guns.

What do you need to do during down-time?
Sleeping, eating well, relaxing, taking time for other activities, hanging out with your nearest and dearest, having fun, resting. These are important for self-care so schedule time for them and don’t compromise.

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Take time. At work.

We can harp on about self-care, but as we spend most of our time at work, that’s where we need to start. If you don’t take that time at work, doing lots of self-care at home just might not cut it.

Work will become a lot more enjoyable, doable and successful when you define, communicate and stick to your boundaries.
Having a breather between sessions will not only allow you to reflect on your last interactions and plans, but also put your best foot forward for your next session.

Taking breaks is not a reflection or your commitment and nor is working yourself to the bone.

Don’t be a hero; take your break.

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Schedule smarter.

We can’t change the sleepless nights, the pressure, the buck always stopping with you, but we can schedule smarter.

Schedule time during which you do all the business essentials, including breaks and self-care.
Give these vital activities enough time and don’t just squeeze them in.

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What are the barriers to taking breaks or time off?
Collect data to investigate when is the best time, business wise. This helps you to best enjoy that time without too much worrying about what you might be missing out on.

Have specific time set aside to do admin and especially remote communications like emails and social media. It’s very easy to allow remote online communication and activity to encroach on all parts of your day.
That phone we carry around all the time allows us instant access to work and instant availability; even though it’s just one email here and one message there, it soon adds up, eating in to time needed for other work or self-care activities. This puts you under pressure, adding to feeling overwhelmed.

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Market smarter.

Market for the clients that you want and that your business needs. Charge appropriately to cover your costs and make sure pricing is reflective of the service you offer and expertise you provide.

Market for the clients that you can help best. Market your special skills and set yourself and prospective clients up for success.

Say yes to work that will enhance your skills, boost your confidence and provide a healthy level of challenge.

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Take time to debrief.

Schedule time.

Reflect on the challenges of the case, the humans, the dogs. Your performance.

Review one challenging aspect of the day, of the session, of the interaction. Learn from it and let it go. Acknowledge the things that went right, that you can build on.

Audio-record while you drive to save time.
What three priorities are you emphasising for that client? What challenges are you experiencing or foreseeing?

Talk to colleagues who will understand the challenges you face and who may be able to see the wood for the trees, when you can’t. This can be a tough business as we spend so much time alone, with our thoughts.

Make time to chat with colleagues who share your experience and can support you. If you must, vent, but don’t live there. Get it out of your system and move on – learn from it if required, but leave it behind.

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Take time to respond to things that wind you up. Don’t respond when you are upset. Let it sit for twelve, or even better, 24 hours.

Acknowledge when you feel overwhelmed before you approach the point of no return. Stop and consider why it’s happening, and how you can move forward.

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Understand cognitive distortions

Recognise the potentially damaging tricks your mind might play on you. When you feel yourself engaged in all or nothing thinking, catastrophising, succumbing to negative bias and impostor syndrome, stop and reflect.

You need a break to consider why you are feeling this way. Seek support from a colleague to help you analyse how you feel and decide on the best way to proceed.

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More on compassion fatigue, for animal trainers and behaviour consultants, from Dr Vanessa Rohlf here.

Although compassion fatigue is most certainly something that many in our field will experience, if you are feeling overwhelmed or down, there can be other things that might be happening.
This is important to address and this piece does a nice job of outlining alternatives: The Myth of Compassion Fatigue in Veterinary Medicine.

These emotional challenges facing us in our work are, thankfully, becoming more and more recognised, which is excellent. Check out excellent resources and support:

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Challenges in animal care

Although veterinary workplaces are discussed frequently, lots of other pros in other areas within animal care may experience burnout, feeling overwhelmed and exhaustion. These industries tend to have less structure and fewer professional programs in place.

As animal lovers and carers, we are drawn to professions that challenge our abilities to cope, making us more susceptible to taking on too much.

We have spoken about dealing with these challenges as dog trainers before: Somewhere In-between.
And this is a great piece, from Comfort At Home Pet Services, on considerations for walkers and sitters: Are you emotionally ready to be a pet sitter?

Build your skill, concentrate on foundations and be the best dog trainer you can be: What the world needs now…

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The awesome thing for dog trainers is that we already have skills in modifying behaviour. Human behaviour is just that, it’s just behaviour. Don’t take it personally.
Call upon your skills: use management, redirection, differential reinforcement, make feedback available and meaningful, shape behaviour, and collaborate with the people you deal with. It’s just people training!

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Top Ten Tips for New Year’s Eve Fireworks

With New Year’s Eve fast approaching, many dogs will again suffer terror and stress at fireworks and displays ringing in 2020. It’s become so normalised that many pet owners feel helpless, thinking there isn’t much they can do.

But, starting now, there are lots of things you can put in place to reduce the effects of fireworks on your pet, like these top ten tips!

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Top Ten Tips

Tip 1: Plan & Prepare
Start putting these things in place now!
Think about where you will hang out with your pet, think about where your pet will be, plan for toilet breaks and exercise.
Put together a shopping list or to-do list based on our recommendations here and tips that help your individual dog.
Bring your dog out for exercise early in the day, in daylight, while all is still calm and quiet. Don’t prioritise high-octane exercise that might contribute to your dog remaining wound up for the evening. Instead go for a sniffathon and make your dog’s day about rollercoasters.

Tip 2: Safe & secure
Make sure your dog’s microchip details are up to date and that they are wearing a collar and tag with current details. It’s a good idea to check fences, gates and boundaries too.
When out with your dog, have them wear their normal walking equipment, plus back-ups. An extra lead on a collar, along with their normal lead and harness, for example. A slip lead or martingale collar and lead along with their normal collar or harness, to prevent escape from a slipped collar.
Walk your dog on lead around times associated with fireworks, just in case there is a stray firework let off and your dog flees.

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Tip 3: Toilet break safety
Your dog will need to go out to toilet, probably several times so start to plan for that now. You might be lucky and be able to avoid fireworks displays by going out at quiet times, but fireworks are unpredictable as not just official, public displays will be on during the festivities.
Start taking your dog out to the garden, on lead, to toilet. If your dog doesn’t like to toilet on lead, use a long line with no tension. You will need to start practicing now so that it’s not another weird thing on an already scary night for them.
Have your dog drag a lead from a regular flat collar in the house so that you can step on it and restrain them should they attempt to bolt. Only do this while they are supervised though, otherwise they might chew the lead or become tangled.

Tip 4: Where will you set up for the night?
Ideally, you are there with your fearful pet but that might not always be possible. Think about setting up for your pet in a room that is closer to the centre of the building, with a person with whom your pet is comfortable.
It’s best to have one secured door between this space and the comings and goings.
Even though you might still have Christmas decorations and lights up for all to see, close blinds and curtains to minimise noise from outside.
Practice spending time there, with your dog, now too.

Tip 5: Stock up on your pet’s favourites. 
Get your dog’s absolutely irresistible favourites and have them ready. I am not talking about any run-of-the-mill treats, I mean the hottest of the hot like meats, cheese, pate, cream cheese, tinned fish. The yummiest!

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You might try these Lick-e-Lix treats that I have seen used recently and have tried out:

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Get your dog’s favourite toys too; toys that really keep him busy like squeakies and toys for dissection.

Start practicing presenting your dog’s favourite foods in toys or devices that require them to lap, chew and sniff. These are calming and engaging behaviours for dogs so will help to keep them occupied and happy.

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You’ll find lots of ideas in our #100daysofenrichment program and more specifically, lots of info on stuffables, lappables & lickables, sniffing & snuffling, and chewing activities.

Tip 6: Play music and TV louder
Start playing everything louder now to help drown out outside sounds. Playing music with lots of bass and lower frequencies might be more helpful so using good speakers and good quality recordings may be better.

Tip 7: Treat Party for Loud Sounds
Carry chicken, cheese, hotdog or something really yummy in your pockets at all times. Every time, you hear a noise outside, no matter what it is, talk excitedly and toss treats onto the floor –  a treat party!
For this to be effective, it doesn’t matter what your dog is doing, even if they are barking and even if they didn’t appear to respond to the sound. Get the family involved too so there will be plenty of treat parties happening between now and New Year’s.

Tip 8: Set up a safe bunker
Maybe your dog has a safe place where they take refuge but if not, set one up now and start to use it.
Throw a blanket or towel over a chair or table,  or over their crate to make a blanket fort. Give your dog a yummy stuffable or chew there a couple of times a day to make it a pleasant place for your dog to be.

Tip 9: Talk your dog’s vet
Have a chat your dog’s vet about calmatives and medication that may help make fireworks more bearable for your dog. There’s lots of further information on medical contributors and help for fireworks fear, with more complete detail on our Dying of Fright piece.

Tip 10: COMFORT YOUR DOG
Contrary to popular belief, you can and should comfort your dog when they are scare. But, do so in a manner that is actually comforting to your individual pet. Not all dogs will be helped by hugs and petting, even though that’s what we think will work.
Ask your dog!
For some dogs, it’s just enough to be in the same room as you. So, be there.
Sit in the room, and calmly invite your dog to join you. If they don’t approach, leave them to decide what they would like to go next.
If they do approach, that doesn’t mean they want to be touched. Sometimes, just leaning against you or resting close to you, is enough.
Pet your dog for a three count, withdraw and see what they want next. Them staying close to you, doesn’t mean they want petting or hugging, necessarily.

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Be Prepared!

Although we won’t miraculously “cure” your dog’s firework fear, implementing these tips might just save the day!

For a full covering of fireworks fear and preparing your pet for Halloween and other noisy celebrations, check out Dying of Fright.

There are lots of other safety issues presenting themselves during the festivities. Prepare your pet with our Christmas Bites.

Christmas Bites: What’s Santa Paws bringing?

Christmas and this season is all about giving! Here’s some of our favourite dog-products that Santa Paws might bring!

These are tried-and-true and things we use and recommend every day.

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The Boring Necessities

To your dog, these are probably pretty run-of-the-mill, but they can be essentials!

In general, when it comes to products in almost all categories, manufacturers will add some gimmick, marketing trick, or notion in an attempt to stand out with their own USP. But, that doesn’t make it better for you and your pet 😉
We like to understand that mechanisms behind the workings and how that applies to your pet’s behaviour, and to your wallet.

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Harnesses

While it’s great that there is such a range of harnesses available in every petshop and stockist, that can make choosing one that is safe and comfortable all the more difficult.

Look for harnesses that don’t restrict your pet’s movement, especially the front assembly (straps that cross the shoulder), when fitted properly. Make sure that straps behind the elbow don’t ride up into the arm pit too.

Harnesses, that have become very popular, with large panels that sit on the dog’s shoulders and back, make it more comfortable for the dog to pull, and most worryingly, are very easy for dogs to learn to escape from. I know they’re popular, but we don’t like them, and many dogs find them unpleasant to fit.

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We recommend a simple H or Y-front harness that’s properly fitted; like this one from Zooplus.
These harnesses tend to be the best tolerated in terms of fitting them. This clip shows you how to fit one using a stuffable toy so that, from the first time, the dog associates having their harness fitted with yummies:

If you feel you need more control in preventing pulling, you attach your lead, or add a second lead, to the ring at the front. Show here in this clip:

My favourite of the modern harnesses is the Blue9 Balance Harness for its versatility and fit, but recognise that they are expensive and difficult to get here.

Collars

Hands up, I have a total collar addiction and my dog has so many collars from all sorts of places that serve all sorts of functions, but really, most just look pretty!

Dogs in Ireland must be microchipped and wear a collar, with their owner’s details, in public.

My absolute favourite ID tags are the plastic tags from Identi-tag – you can fit lots of info on  there, they come in teeny sizes and big, they are super hard-wearing (most of Decker’s are almost 8 years old and are as good as new) and very reasonably priced. Love them!

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Collars that dogs wear for ID and that they wear most of the time should not be tightening, and just with regular buckles. When dogs are unsupervised, playing in groups, or confined, it’s best to use safety break-away collars or no collars at all.

Take care when using collars with snap buckles if you are attaching a lead and check how secure the buckle on your collar is regularly.
Some collars come with safety adjustments, like this in this clip here, with instructions for use and fit:

Martingale or limited slip collars are best for dogs with lots of coat, with narrow heads and with wide necks to prevent slipping. This is one of Decker’s martingales:

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Or using a collar, like a Sighthound collar, with a wider side, which also helps to prevent slipping or the collar coming over the dog’s head. This is one of Decker’s:

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In general, the wider the collar band, the more comfortable it will be, so choose the widest band you can find.

Lots of collars, to suit your dog and specifications, can be found in stores and online. Measure your dog’s neck with a string at the point you want them to wear their collar, and then measure that.

We love Swaggles collars; based in Ireland and GORGEOUS!

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Leads

Go for the simplest lead you can find – generally, you don’t need all the bells and whistles. I like a plain five or six foot nylon or leather lead, with a safe trigger hook. Nothing more, nothing less.

Simple leads like this 200cm lead from Zooplus are suitable for most dogs and owners.

I don’t like poo-bag carriers attached to the lead because they weigh them down and fall/hit the dog. But, choose biodegradable bags and always dispose of them appropriately; do not leave them on the street, hanging on a tree, in a ditch or anywhere livestock or wildlife might access them.

Swaggles do matching leads too!

Long Lines

I am a big fan of long lines but careful, safe use is required. More in this clip:

Long lines are just really long leads and most people do well with a 5m or 10m line – longer than that, becomes harder to manage.

You can get long lines in lots of places including online, e.g. Zooplus and in stores; I particularly like the Maxi Zoo range of long lines.

I much prefer long lines over extendable leads, but recognise that people love their Flexis! Here’s more on how to use them appropriately and safely:

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Coats & Clothing

Before we go any further with this one, it’s important to note that LOTS of dogs don’t like to wear coats, clothing and for some, even harnesses.

Clips that are often shared online, showing dogs freezing, having difficulty walking, refusing to walk or struggling to get away when a coat or clothing is being fitted or worn, actually depict a dog experiencing high distress levels.

Unless your dog needs a coat or clothing, it might be better to skip it, unless you can be sure they are comfortable with fitting and wearing.

Clothing that opens so that the dog doesn’t need to put their head through it might be tolerated better; these coats from Petstop open at the front so can be placed on the dog, rather than them having to pass through an opening, are reasonably priced and really good quality.

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Confinement

For safety and for training, some form of safe confinement will likely be required at some point in a dog’s life. The best way to prepare them for that, and help with other training exercises, is to confinement train. This means to make being behind a barrier a pleasant experience for a dog and to use confinement, particularly in crates, appropriately.

Get started with Crate Training 101 and then begin to build comfort with hanging out in confinement while you move about, with Level 2 crate training.
From there you can build comfort incrementally; working in a release routine can help you build duration in confinement, without a food toy or chew to work on.

Wire crates are often most convenient as they can fold away flat and are sturdy. To reduce the noise, wrap the tray in a towel or blanket and then add the dog’s bedding. Savic crates are great, long-lasting and sturdy; you can get them and a more budget friendly line from Jeb Tools.

Plastic travel crates are required for airline travel and can be handy, if you have the space. Zooplus offer a variety but if you are travelling, check the requirements before you purchase.

Soft-sided crates are great because they fold flat, are lightweight and quiet, but a dog who chews or is looking to escape will not be safe with this crate.

Crates are not for every owner or dog so where confinement, management and safety are required, gates and pens are a great addition.

Regardless, when confinement is expected, the dog will need help to learn to settle comfortably behind a barrier so spend some time on that too.

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Beds

Before you splash out on a new bed for your dog, do some research and ask your dog about their sleeping and resting preferences. See Day 10 of #100daysofenrichment for more!

There is a lot of variety in beds available for dogs, with lots of choices. I really like the Beddies range in Equipet and we have several, but there are lots and lots of awesome beds to suit every budget and every pet.

Don’t invest in expensive soft bedding if you have a chewer or a young dog but getting some VetBed will tie you over until you can splash out.

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For fun and brain games

Now we get to have some fun!

We talk a lot about Kong toys and the Kong range, so of course Kong toys will feature here too! They are available from all sorts of outlets and have toys that offer all sorts of different challenges. The full Kong range can be viewed here.

There are lots of stuffable options out there, and not just Kongs! Try K9 Connectables to offer different challenges and enrichment outlets with these versatile toys.

One of my current favourites is the Toppl; it’s pretty durable and is a straight forward solve for dogs who experience frustration or are new to puzzle feeding.

It can be transformed into a more challenging feeder by combining a small and a large size, but it’s still a great stuffable toy on its own.

My other favourite is the Qwizl – as a straight forward puzzle toy it’s great for kibble or wet foods, can be lined or frozen. I use it with dogs who have a tendency to gulp and swallow the last bits of long chews, like pizzles, so that it’s safer and easier to grip.

We get our Westpaw Zogoflex toys from one of our favourite outlets, Tough Enough for Charlie.

There is a wonderful variety of chews, both edible and non-edible, available and we have a whole LONG list here for Day 11 Chewing of #100daysofenrichment.

Stuffables can be some of the most versatile toys so investing in a couple of different types.

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While I love to use my dog’s regular foods in stuffable toys, treat foods feature too. I prefer to use real meats as treats like chicken, turkey or cheese. But, you gotta have some special treats too and I love these dried meats from RiRaw:

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When it comes to choosing toys, think what your dog might get out of it; what sort of behaviours will these toys provide outlets for? Toys are enriching for dogs when they allow them to practice natural dog behaviours like chasing, biting, catching, chewing, dissection, tracking; play allows for practicing these behaviours.

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Having a range of toys for your dog will allow them to try out different behaviours – your dog can’t be wrong, what behaviours they decide to use in toy or item manipulation is what they find enriching.

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Tug toys from Tug-E-Nuff offer a wide range to tempt most dogs, providing lots of opportunities for tracking, chasing, tugging and even dissecting. Decker LOVES an oversized ball to chase and bite like Jolly Balls:

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For literally hundreds of ideas and a ton of inspiration for choosing entertainment and fun for your dog, check out #100daysofenrichment and pick from challenges that you think you and your pet will enjoy.

All your dog wants for Christmas is YOU!

Certainly buy your pet gifts and items that make their life more comfortable and enjoyable, but, don’t forget that YOU are the most important part of your dog’s life.

Take time, lots of time, to just be and hang out with your dog, especially over the holidays when the chaos is swirling all around.

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If you are taking some time off from work and your normal routine this holiday season, maintain your dog’s comfort by trying to keep some features of normality in their day to day. It’s especially important to keep a little separation and alone time throughout the holidays so that when everything goes back to normal and you leave again, the bottom of their world doesn’t fall out.

Prioritise time to just be with your dog and make sure to go for lots of SNIFFS! rather than walks – making sniffing possible is the biggest gift you can give your dog.

Run through the Sniffing Saturdays from #100daysofenrichment and try to include a little sniffing everyday for your dog.

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REBOOT: Day 100 Challenges

WOHOO! You’ve made it…all the way to 100!

Day 100, here, is the same as Day 99 because you don’t get a Sunday Fun Day to repeat – this way you get to re-do and revamp Pockets Puzzles!

Well done and thank you for taking this journey with AniEd. Please let us know what you have learned, what you have loved, what has challenged you or your beliefs and, most importantly, how your pet has benefited throughout.

Developing the next generation of animal care, training and beahviour specialists in Ireland.