Winners of 'Public Choice' Award

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Introducing a 2nd dog to the family

I've seen a few of our followers on Twitter who have recently got themselves a new puppy & in doing so have had to introduce their new bundle of fluff into their family - which also includes their existing dog/s.

Photo from @MarkyDoggett with his new & existing dog

We've gone through our fair share of dog introductions during our time, a situation which can cause a few teething problems. Fortunately for us our pet dog Taylor is absolutely golden with other dogs, in fact I could bring 99% of any dogs into my house without Taylor causing a problem. We're also extremely lucky in that we've been able to practise introductions lots & lots of times. However, for people getting an additional dog it's not so easy & very often it'll be the first time they've ever had to do it. They get one shot to get it right, so there's lots of pressure attached to bringing a new dog into the home.

Amazing what a bit of time can do from @MarkyDoggett

Doing what we do means we have dogs & puppies coming & going regularly, so Taylor has just got used to new dogs popping up & disappearing. As I said, I don't think you'd find a better dog than Taylor for accepting a whole host of other dogs into his home (I know I might be a little biased!)

That said, we always do whatever we can to make the introduction as smooth as possible. It's a massive thing for a dog to have to welcome a fellow four legged friend into their house, along with the natural competition for attention that goes with it - especially when you're bringing in a demanding 6 week old puppy.

Is this one hanging around?? Taylor meet PD Arragon

We also do a lot of work with the handlers who have our puppies. Very often they will have their 'old' dog & will have to make sure the new dog gets along with their existing dog too.

Suffice to say we've had to introduce different dogs to each other on many occasions. Fortunately it's always seemed to work out . . . . . except for one of our pups - yes you've guessed it . . . . .PD 'Mad' Ozzy. Sadly he never managed to get on with his handler's pet dog. Sometimes, just like humans, the dogs just don't mix & get on with each other, however there are a few things which can make a really big difference when introducing two new dogs to each other.

I will give Ozzy his due though & in his defence he was bitten quite badly by a Spaniel when he was a baby which required a few stitches to his chin. Never underestimate the effect a bad experience can have on a puppy.

Taylor meet PD 'Mad' Ozzy

These are not the only ways nor is this Blog the "complete guide to introducing a new dog", however here's a few little hints & tips that have worked really well for us over the years.

I did a bit of Google research on the subject & saw one piece of advice . . .
"Take a piece of food in each hand. bring one dog into one hand, the other dog into the other hand & then slowly bring the 2 hands together & as such the 2 dogs together"

As they say . . . please do not try this at home. If there was ever a situation that could potentially end in disaster - it's this method - especially if you have a dog a little bit possessive over food!! One of the most common causes of problems with dogs at home is over food or toys. Even Taylor & the pups can sometimes have a little pop at each other if there's food involved!!

Great care needs to be taken when food or toys are around

I've also read 'help' which went something along the lines of "just throw the dogs in together & let them sort it out for themselves." WRONG - again please do not try this method under any circumstances. Once a dog has been attacked it's very, very difficult to get the dog over it 100%.

The first and most important thing, as with anything dog related, is time. It can take time for dogs to adjust & get used to anything - especially having to welcome a new dog into their home. Never, ever try & rush anything. Always try allow the dogs enough time & space to adjust to each other in their own time. It can take a matter of hours, days, weeks or months for dogs to finally come round to sharing their home with another dog. There is no definitive guide to the length of time it will take. So it's vitally important not to rush. You'll spend many years (hopefully) with your dogs together, so why rush?

PD Arragon meet PD Cooper

The process is pretty much the same whether you're introducing a puppy or an older dog. It's all about getting the dogs used to each others scent & them becoming acquainted.

If we're bringing a dog to our home we'd try & get some of their bedding. Just a little cut off that carries the other dog's scent. By bringing this home & putting into Taylor's crate it's getting him used to the scent of a different dog in his crate.

We'd also get a towel, rub the other dog with the towel - especially around the dog's back end - & then take it back & rub the towel around the neck of Taylor & also vica versa. Get the towel, rub Taylor & then rub the other dog.

As well as this cross contamination of scent, when we're handing our dog's over to a handler. We will go for a walk around a neutral field, let the dogs see each other - but not interact - at a distance. We slowly move the dogs together but still without interacting. Just so they can get the scent of each other. The dogs don't need to be right next to each other in order for the scent to drift across. It's always important not to let the dogs interact straight away - because any bad reaction could do some really serious damage to the process.

The key when walking together is to keep moving. Keep the dogs focus on the person walking.

Once the dogs have been for a walk, we'll very often put the dogs in the other dogs car crate. Again, cross contaminating the scent between dogs. For example when we introduced Bandit to Pace, we went for a walk then at the end of the walk I put Bandit in Pace's car crate, and Pace's handler put Pace into Bandit's car crate.

PD Bandit was 5 months old when we got him

Ideally go for a walk a few times just to get them used to each other & gradually bring them a bit closer each time. Maybe allowing them a quick sniff of each other now & again.

Obviously if it's clear there aren't any issues we can allow more interaction between the two of them sooner. But certainly at the beginning it would be very calm & slowly bring them together in very small steps.

Once they got used to each others company it's time to bring them home together. This is where things get interesting! The biggest thing I could ever recommend is a crate. Using a crate is an invaluable tool whether you've got one, two or 22 dogs. Each dog should have their own crate.

Being able to use a crate has enormous benefits. Again, you can swap the dogs between crates to mix their scent up & the crates obviously act as a 'time out' zone for the dogs when things get too much.

My views on Crate Training can be found here:-
Crate Training
Benefits of Crate Training

Taylor & PD Sear didn't quite grasp the swapping of crates

If there are any teething problems in the home, take things slowly. Keep rubbing the two dogs with a towel & keep putting them in each others crates. Try to give them as much space & distance between themselves as possible. Don't push them together.

There's a whole host of different things you can do to help make the transition easier. Hopefully this Blog gives you a quick couple of things which may help make the process a bit easier. I'd always say, if you are having serious problems don't panic, don't rush anything & if it's really difficult seek professional help.

Friday, 28 June 2013

An Award Winning Blog!

I must admit we're still a little bit shocked that we've managed to win an award at the highly coveted Midlands Media Awards tonight - and it's all down to all of the people who took the time to jump onto Twitter & Facebook to vote for us in the 'Public Choice' category.

We were nominated alongside & were competeting with some real big names in the Media world including the Express & Star and Free Radio to name just a couple.

The Awards, presented at a black-tie event attended by more than 250 guests, were sponsored by Birmingham Airport, with further support from Barclays Bank, Birmingham City University, Bournville College, Drayton Manor Theme Park, East Midlands Airport and Staffordshire University. The Awards were organised on behalf of Birmingham Press Club by Event Management Company Cloud 9.

Photograph by Emma Trimble

Peter Lowe, Managing Editor of Sky News, who chaired the final judging panel, commented: “Chairing the group of expert judges for these awards was an interesting and gratifying experience - both because of the quality of work that was entered and the obvious effort that entrants had made to submit their portfolios and compilations. We matched this by putting a lot of care into the judging process, because the work deserved our serious attention.

“Having worked for the first half of my career in the Midlands, it was a reminder of the rich tradition of tireless investigation, campaigning and story-telling in the region. We were particularly struck by the way in which local newspapers -- among the most hard-pressed institutions in the ever-changing media landscape -- are still delivering sharp and original journalism for the benefit of their readers. Long may it continue!”

It's A BIG & heartfelt thank you to everyone who took the time to help support us & vote for us in the awards. We really do appreciate your support.

I still chuckle at a comment I saw on Twitter about our entry into the Public Choice award, where I saw someone Tweet something like "that dog doesn't know it's RSS feeds from it's tags" or something similar! I do love Twitter & Facebook - it's a great source of entertainment to us sometimes.

To us, creating the Blog was never (& will never) be about gaining as many followers as we could, blowing our own trumpet or making the Blog page as 'pretty' as possible. I've always maintained, right from the very first Blog post, that the Blog is there to (hopefully) help people.

No, we don't use RSS feeds (in fact I don't even know what an RSS feed is!! ;) ), we don't use tags & I must agree that our page could look a lot better however . . . .

If by writing our 'Dogs & Child Safety' Blog it stops just one child being harmed by a dog, or our 'Whislte Recall' Blog saves just one dog from running off & getting lost, or our 'Dog CPR/First Aid' Blog saves just one dog's life - then for us the Blog has done exactly what I wanted it to do when I penned it.

We started the Blog initially to give our fellow puppy walkers somewhere where they could try & find the answer to the very common questions & issues puppy walkers have. However, following the fantastic response we had from our wonderful followers on Twitter & readers of the Blog, we started to develop our content a bit more to reflect the comments & messages we were getting.

Hopefully everything we write is readable, enjoyable and ultimately helpful - whether it's our training articles, our recommended equipment or the general great things we come across like our stays at Moddershall Oaks.

The overall aim of the Blog is to help people & if one Blog helps just one person then I'm happy. We're always willing to help people & we will go out of our way to help someone. So we hope the Blog fits that criteria!

Photograph by Emma Trimble

We just want to say a huge thanks to the people who have let us review their products/services & publish our views on their products/services for our Blog, which I know is always a gamble for them! Without their help we wouldn't be able to offer such a diverse range of Blogs, so we really appreciate the people who have helped us make our Blog a little different.

I must also thank everyone from the Dog Section at West Midlands Police, from the Inspector all the way through to the wonderful kennel staff who let me hound them & bleed them dry for knowledge! I've been really lucky that everyone has really helped us with what we're doing & we've learnt so much from everyone at the Dog Section who really go out of their way to help us.

We've also made some really good friends via Twitter with a number of handlers & instructors at other various forces across the UK, all of whom have been really great in sharing their knowledge whenever we've asked for it. What we do with our pups is a collective effort from everyone who has helped us, given us advice & been on hand whenever we have a question. We really do appreciate everyone's help & advice!

And finally, once again, it's a BIG thank you from us to you guys - because ultimately we have won the award down to everyone who took the time to vote for us - regardless of our lack of RSS feeds ;)

Photograph by Emma Trimble

We really do appreciate your support & would now ask you to support something which is very close to our hearts - the Retired WM Police Dog Benevolent Fund.

We've got a really exciting & busy 12 months ahead - the Benevolent Fund is a massive project for us & something we're extrememly committed to making a success, we're about to launch our brand new private Dog Training company - Sarvid Canines, we have our wedding to orgainse for April next year & of course we have the small matter of turning little P-Dizzy into a Police Dog!

For a more 'non dog Blog' you can also check out my brand new 'Grooms View' Blog I'm writing for Ultimate Wedding Magazine. Something a bit more personal & I've been TOLD that I've got to post pictures of us on this Blog too . . . .

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Muddying the Alpha Dog Myth

When we posted our 'Dispelling the Alpha Dog Myth' Blog, the general consensus & view from our readers made it clear that many people now come round to the understanding that dogs are in fact dogs.

The response to our Blog was great, however given the stats on our Blog I think it got a bit of a hammering over in the States!

That particular post is getting loads of hits from a Dog Forum in America & I can't actually track down where it's being discussed. Suffice to say, given the material on the forum, I would image we're getting a bit of a hammering on there!! I could be wrong though, so if anyone can point me to where it's being discussed I'd be very grateful. I always like reading people's opinions & views on what we write - positive or negative.

What was really interesting, just after I posted the Dispelling the Alpha Dog Myth Blog, was that I was on a 5 day John Rogerson course. During the course we talked about 'old school' beliefs & we actually got onto the subject of the "don't allow your dog on the sofa" stuff - and I must admit it was a really interesting & informative session.

Based on those discussions something really interesting came out. It would appear that the waters became slightly muddied surrounding the Alpha Dog Myths. . . . 

My understanding, following our course, was that the waters got muddied between these 'rules' & the people preaching the 'pack' theory. Around the time the 'pack' theory was at it's height of being discussed, Dr Roger Mugford, Dr Ian Dunbar & John Rogerson were all involved in dog behaviour & were (& still are) helping owners who were having trouble with their dogs.

They saw a very common trend in the cause of poor dog behaviour. . . . . .inconsistencies. Different members of the family allowing, encouraging or stopping different dog behaviours to another family member. The husband would allow the dog on the sofa, the wife would tell the dog to get down etc etc.

The key to all successful dog training is consistency & repetition. It's very very simple - do the same thing often & reward success.

When we're dealing with dog behaviour issues it's vital that families all stick together & apply a consistent approach.

What those behaviourists decided was that the only way for families to do this successfully & consistency was to apply a set of 'rules'. Something which EVERYONE in the house had to follow.

It seems, that at the time Dr Roger Mugford, Dr Ian Dunbar & John Rogerson put together a set of behavioural rules, the message somehow got crossed with the Wolf pack dominance theory which was rife at that time.

If you perhaps consider the rules in isolation - away from any thoughts about 'Alpha Dog' stuff - then you can kind of understand where they might fit in.

For example, if a dog is showing signs of 'resource guarding' when he's on the sofa - then you could understand someone implementing a family rule which said "No dogs are allowed on the sofa at all" etc etc. By not allowing your dog on the sofa you're helping remove the resource guarding of the sofa. Especially if the husband was giving the dog big cuddles on the sofa, whilst the wife came & tried to remove the dog sternly from the sofa!

It's an interesting slant on the Alpha Dog Myths & I suppose it's easy to see how the waters could become muddied. People will use anything they can to back up an argument, so maybe at the time of the Wolf/Dog studies it was easy to misinterpret a different kind of message?

I always say it's interesting attending seminars, no matter who is doing them. I firmly believe that you can get something out of every single seminar, training session, book etc - even it is just a tiny snippet of something.

It certainly makes reading the 'advice' which still bangs on about the 'Alpha Dog Myths' interesting, as they use these 'rules' as evidence that the Alpha Dog Myths are still a relevant & a vital piece in the dog training puzzle.

As Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow once said . . .
"Well there’s three versions of this story mine, yours and then the truth
And we can put it down to circumstance, our childhood, then our youth"