Tag Archives: Dogs

Sport_bulldog

The culture of canine care – is the UK lifestyle damaging our dogs?

Spike's World

Moving from the UK to Slovakia was sure to be a culture shock – the language barrier, the weather, the crazy traffic; it’s easy to think that life in Eastern Europe may be more stressful than back in the UK, but what about life for Slovak dogs?

When I first moved here I was amazed at how relaxed and well behaved the dogs are. Many pet parents walk the wide pavements with their dogs off the lead, or on a very loose lead. There is little to no barking, no dog aggression, no pulling on the lead, no jerking of leads, just lots of very chilled canines.

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I can’t help wonder why there is this massive cultural difference between Slovakia and the UK… Now, I’m not saying that all dogs in the UK are crazed canines, but we certainly have a generation of dogs that in all honesty, are under exercised and under stimulated. The ‘weekend warrior’ pet owner with a dog that only sees the outside world at weekends (if it’s lucky) can be spotted a mile off buy conscientious dog owners.

Pulling on the flat collar attached to a lead can damage a dog’s delicate trachea

Here in Slovakia, it’s common to see dogs being walked at all times of the day and joining their pet parents in the local bars for drink or accompanying them to the market (even helping by carrying a basket!).  Could this greater integration of dogs into family life be the key to their well mannered behaviour?   It certainly is food for thought.

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This beautiful German Shepherd was carrying a wicker basket to the market. Note the way it walks on a relaxed, loose leash.

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Review: There’s nothing fishy about these treats

Finding healthy yet tasty treats can be very tricky for pet parents and many are  attempting to dehydrate their own treats at home.

However, after trying to dehydrate some tripe I soon learned that this isn’t for the fainthearted, or anyone who may have guests arriving. The smell was pungent to put it lightly!

I was therefore really excited to get my hands on some of the new dried capelin treats from Seatreats. After being lucky enough to review some of the fab treats from this sustainable pet food company in the past, I knew I was in for a treat!

Capelin are commonly used to make fish meals, and feed on plankton and crustaceans. Being lower on the food chain reduces the risk of the bio-accumulation of toxins that can occur with many larger predatory fish such as swordfish.

The treats are just air dried fish, nothing more, nothing less. Being so minimally processed it is fantastic to know there are no hidden ingredients, which is especially important for anyone with an allergic dog or a one that is on a limited ingredient diet.

Because these treats are so fresh, they do have a strong odour so I would recommend they are kept in a plastic container. However, this string odour makes them super high value for many dogs which means they are invaluable for many training scenarios. They also contain healthy the omega 3 oils I mentioned in my earlier post!

So how do they taste?

Today’s taste tester was the gorgeous Molly the Labrador. Molly suffers from atopic dermatitis and therefore her parents have to be extremely cautious with the food and treats she is given.IMG_0409

 

Before I had opened the bag Molly was bursting with excitement at the smell of these fishy treats and as you can see, she loved every bite!

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For more information on these fantastic treats and to see the entire range, please visit Seatreats online at www.seatreats.co.uk

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Omega 3 – the super oil for brainy dogs

Omega 3 oils are the new trendy supplement in both the pet food and human market, but unlike many dietary fads, Omega 3 oils are a true ‘super supplement’.

Dogs are facultative carnivores and evolved from wolves (in fact they now share the same name, Canis lupus). Their wild ancestors would have thrived on a diet of wild game that had in turn lived on a diet of wild grasses. Omega 3 oils are made by grasses and algae and therefore, such grass fed animals are a rich source of the Omega 3 oil which dogs cannot manufacture on their own.

Fast-forward to today and sadly many of our farmed animals do not have access to pasture and therefore their own level of Omega 3 is limited.

What are Omega 3 oils?

Omega 3 oils are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid and come in many forms.  Of these forms, ALA, EPA and DHA are the most talked about. People can convert the form known as ALA to the healthful EPA and DHA but dogs are not as proficient at this process and ideally need to consume EPA and DHA directly for optimum health.

Why are they so important?

Omega 3 oils have a host of health benefits but of key importance is its role in reducing inflammation, maintaining a healthy skin and coat and aiding brain function.

Many dogs suffer from the pain and of arthritis and a study of omega 3 supplementation found that arthritic dogs were better able to weight bare (Roush et al. 2010).

Many dogs, particularly Labrador retrievers can suffer from the uncomfortable skin condition, atopic dermatitis.  Studies show that enriching the diet with omega 3 oil can be beneficial in managing this condition (Gueck et al. 2004).

Omega 3 oils are great for brain development and can give a puppy a head start in life – it has been shown that puppies with high DHA levels were more readily trainable than those with low levels.  We all want a well behaved dog and it seems supplementation can be a simple way to make those formative months more productive (Kelley et al. 2004).

I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Sea Treats cold pressed salmon oil which contains both Omega 3 and Omega 6. The ever enthusiastic Roxy was chosen as a taste tester.

While most would mix this oil in with their pet’s food, I opted to see if it was tasty enough to be eaten from a spoon.

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I think this picture speaks for itself!

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For more information about Sea Treats Cold pressed Salmon oil, please visit, www.seatreats.co.uk

References

Gueck T., Seidel A., Baumann D., Meister A. & Fuhrmann H. (2004). Alterations of mast cell mediator production and release by gamma-linolenic and docosahexaenoic acid. Veterinary dermatology, 15, 309-14.

Kelley R., Lepine A., Burr J., Shyan-Norwalt M. & Reinhart G. (2004). Effect of dietary fish oil on puppy trainability. In: Proceedings.

Roush J.K., Cross A.R., Renberg W.C., Dodd C.E., Sixby K.A., Fritsch D.A., Allen T.A., Jewell D.E., Richardson D.C., Leventhal P.S. & Hahn K.A. (2010). Evaluation of the effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 236, 67-73.

 

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Sea Treats – Making waves in the dog treat market

As facultative or scavenging carnivores, our canine companions have evolved to eat a diet of primarily meat and choosing a wholesome, species appropriate food for your pet can be one of the best ways to keep them fit and healthy.  But what about treats?

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There are many treats on the market that contain unhealthy ingredients and while as people we have the choice to consume unhealthy treats, our dogs do not.  Luckily for them there are also some incredibly wholesome treats that are both tasty and healthy and I was recently thrilled to learn about the Sea Treats range of fish based dog treats.

Having a background in zoology and conservation, I was extremely pleased to learn that the Sea Treats products have full Marine Stewardship Council Certification. This certification guarantees the fish used to make these treats comes from sustainable fisheries.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on three of their products  – Premium fish skin and kelp seaweed treats, Salmon, whitefish, potato and seaweed biscuits and Small fish skin cubes.

Firstly, I was extremely impressed to see each product contained very few ingredients:

The Salmon, whitefish, potato and seaweed biscuits contain (as the name suggests) just salmon, whitefish and  potato.

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The Fish skin and Kelp seaweed treats also contain just whitefish skins and Irish kelp seaweed.

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The Fish skin cubes contain just fish skin!

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It is a wonderfully refreshing change to discover a range with such wholesome ingredients and the fish skins in particular and perfect for those who choose to raw feed their pets.  Knowing the protein source we feed our pets is very important, particularly if a pet is on an exclusion diet or if a pet is on a protein rotation diet.  Many pet parents choose to rotate protein sources, for example, feeding fish for a few months and then turkey for a few months. There is a train of thought that feeding the same food for an extended period of time can cause food sensitivity, therefore, changing proteins regularly can be helpful.

But the key question is, how do they taste?

Today’s taste tester is the beautifully quirky Roxy. A Cornish dog through and through, she knows her seafood (it’s hard to avoid it when your daily walk includes running on beautiful beaches and exploring rock pools!).

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All three treats went down a treat (excuse the pun) but Roxy’s favourite was the Salmon, whitefish, potato and seaweed biscuits.  All three have a satisfying crunch that can be tricky to perfect if using a home dehydrator to make homemade treats.

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All three have a wonderfully fishy smell which for many dogs makes them super high value. Many training scenarios, such as recall require super high value treats and the fish skins in particular may be perfect for persuading wayward canines that coming when called is far more rewarding than chasing squirrels!

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Not only are these treats tasty, they also contain Omega 3 and 6. Omega 3 has been shown to have a host of health benefits, from being anti-inflammatory in older animals, to aiding in puppy brain development. Puppies fed Omega 3 were even found to be more easily trained (Kelley et al. 2004).

With all these benefits, there’s nothing fishy about these treats and it’s clear that Sea Treats are making waves in the vast ocean of unhealthy pet products.

For more information and to order online, please visit www.seatreats.co.uk

References

Kelley R., Lepine A., Burr J., Shyan-Norwalt M. & Reinhart G. (2004). Effect of dietary fish oil on puppy trainability. In: Proceedings.

 

Hundefutter

Do you really know what’s in your pet’s food?

Spike's World

 

 

 

 

Deciding what to feed your pet is one of the most important decisions pet parents can make. As humans, we have the freedom to choose what we put in our bodies, and as such, food labeling is strictly controlled to ensure we have all the information we need to make informed choices. Our pets on the other hand, rely on us to make this decision for them, and thankfully there is a huge array of pet foods on the market to choose from.

Dog food

Do you know what goes into your own dog food? Every pet parent should read the ingredients list to see exactly what they’re feeding their pet

However, it would appear pet food labeling may not be as transparent as its human counterparts, as was highlighted on a recent episode of BBC’s ‘Rip Off Britain – Food‘.

This show reported the difficulty many pet parents have with identifying exactly what ingredients go into the pet foods we see on the shelves. For example, a food may be advertised as ‘chicken and rice’ but in fact, may contain just a minimum of 4% chicken.  That leaves a whopping 96% of the food that can be composed of any number of animal and plant proteins.

This flexibility helps to keep costs down for the manufacturer and potentially the customer, by allowing the recipe to be changed depending on which meat and meat meals are cheapest at that time. However, for diligent pet parents that want to control the protein source they give their pet, such foods may be totally unsuitable.

Pets with a range of conditions, may need to be placed on an elimination diet to discover if they are sensitive to consuming a particular substance, and such foods may be purchased in all good faith, without the knowledge that ‘chicken and rice’ doesn’t necessarily mean the food is composed of just those two ingredients.

Many pet parents prefer to give their pet a varied diet by rotating the protein source they feed to their pets. In doing so, it is believed that the development of food sensitivities can be avoided.  There is a train of thought that if an animal is fed one food for a long time, the body can become sensitised to those ingredients and therefore by offering for example, chicken for a few weeks, and then fish for a few weeks, and so forth, food sensitivities can be avoided.

Thankfully there is hope, and I was so pleased to come across two foods that totally buck this trend.

AATU dog foods contain a single animal protein source, either free run duck, chicken or fish and an amazing 80% meat. As facultive carnivores, this high meat content is evolutionarily appropriate for our canine companions.  It also contains some great herbs and botanicals.        

Challenge pet foods have a great range of single protein salmon based dog foods that allow pet parents to be confident in the source of their dog’s nutrition. Their sister company, Sea Treats offers MSC certified fish treats so even your pet’s treats are free of unknown ingredients.

That both of these companies have such clear, transparent labeling is a sign that the pet food market is changing and I hope that pet parents will start to demand clearer pet food labeling information.  In the meantime, I believe we should all show our support by voting with our pockets!

 

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Grounding your puppy the fun way!

Spike's World

The Tellington TTouch is a unique and rewarding way of working with all animals, however its name can be a little deceiving.  Many people believe the TTouch to be a form of massage; however this is not the case.  As well as the specific ‘TTouches’ there is also a whole array of ground exercises or ground work as it is known which can have a dramatic effect on mind and body.

Developed over 30 years ago by Linda Tellington Jones, TTouch offers ways to help animals overcome a wide variety of behavioural problems without the use of dominance, fear or force.  Using a combination of bodywork and ground exercises the TTouch aims to improve the physical balance of the animal, as physical balance is achieved so mental and emotional balance follows.  The behaviour of an animal can be linked to its posture in many ways, animals with tension through the hindquarters can often be afraid of loud noises such as fireworks, they may be reluctant to being picked up and placed on a veterinarians table and may be badly behaved in the car.  With the use of TTouch these patterns of tension can be removed along with the unwanted behaviour.

What is ground work and what does it do?

Ground work can be used for many species of animal to improve confidence, coordination, focus and physical, emotional and mental balance.  With the use of various, gentle obstacles which are taken at a slow pace, very often even the most hyperactive animals can be calmed and gain a willingness to learn and cooperate.

How does this work?

Every animal and person uses a sense known as proprioception; this sense gives them and us knowledge of where our bodies are in space.  For example if we close our eyes it is still possible to place your finger on your nose without having to look, for you know where both are.  The sensors for proprioception are located throughout the body, mainly in the joints, muscles and tendons.  By the use of slow, concentrated movements, these receptors are stimulated giving feedback to the body.  With this feedback comes a greater knowledge of the animals own body.  As they say, knowledge is power, and with this knowledge the puppy is able to choose a balanced posture and is far more aware of how it relates to its surroundings.  The body posture of growing puppies is seemingly ever changing, especially in the larger breeds.  Different body parts are growing at different rates, leaving the dog not knowing how it is supposed to walk and having to move in all number of ways.   It is also known that this proprioceptive input actually releases Serotonin, one of the happy hormones as they are known which in turns brings about a calm mental state.  The Ground exercises help in the stimulation of both brain hemispheres, which is so useful for a growing pup and can help to bring about a very well balanced individual.

Walking at whose speed?

Puppies and dogs in general, have a faster walking speed than we do; to walk with a loose lead is in fact very hard for dogs.  If you try walking very slowly, you will find yourself having to think much more about the placement of your feet.  Dogs are just the same except they have four feet to coordinate not just two!  With the use of various exercises it is possible to teach the puppy how to coordinate its legs and to move them independently and mindfully. Often a puppy’s challenging growth can cause areas of tension to appear as the puppy needs to weight its limbs differently, this in turn can cause anxious behaviour from the puppy often resulting in more tension, often around the jaw.  This tension will usually be shown with mouthing and chewing which the puppy is often scolded for, again causing anxiety and more tension.  When you look at this vicious circle as a whole, you can see that the puppy in fact had very little choice in what it was doing and that their can be a relationship between a growth spurt in one area of the body and a seemingly unrelated behavioural problem.

Here are two simple exercises to try with your puppy.

Different surfaces

This puppy is being led slowly over a variety of different surfaces, in this case the laminate surface of the desk, carpet tiles, and white plastic sheeting.  The non-habitual feeling of the new surfaces gives the puppy new sensations through its feet (which are more sensitive than you would expect) the more grounded the puppy is on its feet the greater confidence it will have in life, especially when it comes to new or unusual situations.  Notice how the puppy walks tentatively over the surfaces, placing each foot very carefully.  These exercises should be fun and he is being encouraged with toy, to him this is one big game!

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Walk over poles

The use of walk over poles encourages greater coordination and proprioceptive input, it is essential that they are step over poles and NEVER raised into jumps, for this could damage a puppy’s delicate bone structure.  What you use us is up to you, pieces of dowel, rolled up tea towels, cardboard tubes anything, just use your imagination but keep it safe.

We are all familiar with the mental experiences we need to give puppies in order to encourage them to become well balanced adult dogs, however with the use of the TTouch a whole new avenue of physical stimulation is being opened up.  By using the exercises shown, your puppy can be helped to mature quicker and with less of the issues so commonly experienced.

The walk over poles being used here are a piece of TTouch equipment known as a wand (though you can use almost anything as long as it is safe)  The puppy here is learning to carefully place each foot in turn.  As puppies have very short attention spans, it is important to make sessions short so as not to overexert them.

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Many people are amazed at the differences the TTouch can make to adult dogs; indeed it is proving invaluable to many rescue centres across the country.  If puppies can be offered this simply and revolutionary work from a young age, the possibilities are endless.  Breeders and rescue centres with newborn young can make huge changes to puppies and their future development.  In rescue centres, where socialisation of puppies can be hard to the risk of catching diseases, the TTouch work offers an opportunity to safely develop their minds.  Above all TTouch should be a fun and enjoyable way for every one of us to positively affect the dogs of the future.

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Giving your puppy the Magic TTouch

Spike's World

Everybody loves puppies!  With their playful ways and cute appearance you can’t help but want to wrap them in cotton wool with many of the maternal feelings we have for our own children.  However in all too short a length of time they grow to become adult dogs and it is our duty to give them as good a start as we can.  In addition to puppy classes the Tellington TTouch can be extremely helpful in raising a well adjusted adult dog.

The Tellington TTouch is a unique and rewarding way of working with all animals. Developed over 30 years ago by Linda Tellington Jones, TTouch offers ways to help animals overcome a wide variety of behavioural problems without the use of dominance, fear or force.  Using a combination of bodywork and ground exercises the TTouch aims to improve the physical balance of the animal, as physical balance is achieved so mental and emotion balance follows.  The behaviour of an animal can be linked to its posture in many ways, animals with tension through the hindquarters can often be afraid of loud noises such as fireworks, they may be reluctant to being picked up and placed on a veterinarians table and may be badly behaved in the car.  With the use of TTouch these patterns of tension can be removed along with the unwanted behaviour.

Puppy brains are like sponges yet are beginning to show adult brain waves by the age of 8 weeks. Socialisation not only helps to influence emotional responses but also has been shown to increase the numbers of neural connections made within the brain, thus increasing the dog’s potential for learning.  A study was carried out with horses whereby their brain wave pattern were measured whilst being TTouched, consistently it was shown that all four brain waves (alpha, beta theta and delta) were produced when being TTouched.  Petting, stroking and brushing produced no change, only the circular TTouched produced this amazing change in the animal’s brain waves.  It has been proven that puppies raised in a stimulating environment have an increased ability to cope with stress in later life, so if we are able to stimulate our puppy’s brains with TTouch then the potential to increase their ability to learn is enormous!

Just like children, puppies have little idea of what the world expects of them and how to behave, ‘bad’ puppies are often showing signs of worry or anxiety or possibly reacting to pain or discomfort in their own bodies.  These behaviours are reactive and instinctive; nature governs how each animal will respond to the situation.  Some puppies will roll over in a submissive type gesture others will run away while others will mouth or bite.  By using TTouch it is possible to bring animals into a state of awareness whereby the animal is brought into a thinking state rather than the instinctive reactive mode normally seen.  This ‘thinking’ state does away with the need for the harsh, negative behaviour modification methods we are all trying to move away from.

As well as learning all about the world around them, puppies are also on a voyage of self discovery, if one considers how long a human baby has to learn how to coordinate its limbs of it’s own will it is amazing that a puppy can do all it can in such a shot space of time.  It is no wonder therefore ,that in the process some body parts get left behind of forgotten about, resulting in rather bumbling gangly puppies!  With the use of TTouch bodywork we can give the body feedback as to what is where allowing the animal to achieve a much more balanced posture and mind from day one.

Ear TTouch

Taking the ear in the direction it grows (Upwards for pointy eared dogs or horizontal for floppy eared dogs) and gently stroking from base to tip, with each stroke covering a different part of the ear you can soon help to calm an excitable or nervous puppy.  This is especially useful when you first take your puppy home to calm it without promoting an unhealthy attachment which will prove hard to rectify later in life.

Ear TTouch

Notice how this puppy is being settled with another hand, the use of the second hand helps to give a feeling of containment.  It is very important not to hold the puppy down at any time as it should always have the opportunity to move if it wishes.

Mouth TTouch

Many puppies will be mouthy or licky and most will go through a chewing stage.  Licking and mouthing are often emotional responses to fear or anxiety as can chewing objects. Mouth TTouches involve making small, light circular movements of the outside of the dogs mouth, with persistence you should soon be able to make the same light, circular movements on the INSIDE of the puppy’s mouth on the gums (Your fingers may need to be moistened with a little water first) This helps to calm to anxious, emotional behaviour commonly seen in new puppies.  The mouth TTouch also helps reduce the irritation caused during teething, reducing the puppy’s wish to chew every hard object you own!

Mouth work

This puppy is lying down enjoying the Mouth TTouch; however she still finds it rather unusual.  The Mouth TTouch is very light and not uncomfortable; dogs will often push you away to start with simply because it’s a strange sensation.  The Mouth TTouch is all the more important for puppies to learn to accept having their mouths handled for tooth brushing and vet visits.

Tail TTouch

As I sad puppies have to learn about their bodies in a relatively short space of time, often they are still unsure where they start and where they end!  By using the Tail TTouch we can give a puppy information as to where it is in space not only helping the puppy to balance but helping to prevent the usual clumsiness so common in adolescent dogs.

The tail TTouch involves very gently moving each vertebra from the base to the tip. I can’t stress enough how gentle these movements are as the tail is very delicate.  The Tail may also be gently circled at the base.  The aim isn’t to see how far the tail can be moved but to gently give the body information as to where its tail is and what it does!  It is also said that certain endorphins, or ‘happy hormones’ are released when the tail is moved in this way, helping to calm a puppy.

An overly anxious puppy with a continually wagging tail can be calmed by gently holding the tail, causing the dog to stop wagging, rather like a hysterical person made to sit to calm down, stopping the movement of the tail often results in an instantly calm puppy.

Tail TTouch

After an initial confusion, most puppies love the Tail TTouch, this puppy has become totally relaxed at the gentle movements.  When the Tail TTouches is being done, it is useful to feel for kinks and bumps as these can indicate levels of tension in other places.

Belly lifts

Have you ever noticed how you get ‘butterflies in your stomach’ when you feel worried? Puppies can suffer the same, often holding a great deal of tension in their abdomen often resulting in vomiting especially in the car.  Ideally we would like a puppy’s experience of the car to be as positive as possible to prevent problems in later life.  By using a small towel or your clasped hands to make slow, gentle lifting movements, you can work to reduce the tension through the abdomen.


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This puppy is having gentle Belly lifts with a piece of kitchen towel, the lifting movement is tiny, only 10mm of so.  Notice how, in picture two, the puppy has relaxed his spine allowing his back to be much more flexible, also he is now standing more squarely with both hind feet being level, as apposed to having one foot behind him as in picture one.

The TTouch offers a fun opportunity for the whole family to have a positive influence of the life of their new family member.  Children take to the TTouch movements with ease and it can be a fantastic way to teach a young child to interact with a puppy, counteracting their instinctive need to grab and cuddle!  Each TTouch movement is complete and every TTouch will make a difference.

Above all remembering that your puppy is often behaving instinctively and knows no other way,  with guidance, a lot of patience and the power of TTouch we can work to make the puppy phase run as smoothly and be as fun as possible, with a well adjusted adult dog at the end of it!

Crufts

Crufts – breed perfection or form and function?

Spike's World

It’s that time of year again, Crufts, the world’s largest and probably the most controversial dog show.  It seems dog lovers fit into one of three distinct camps:

  • Those that love Crufts and the concept of judging a dog against its breed standard
  • Those that despise the concept of judging dogs based on appearance
  • Those that enjoy Crufts as a means of celebrating the joy of dogs but are uncomfortable with the current state of pedigree health and confirmation

While the current concern for the health of many breeds has been growing for some time, it was back in 2008 when the BBC show Pedigree Dogs Exposed, directed by Jemima Harrison was aired and gave a warts and all account of many of the horrendous health issues that have become all too commonplace in many breeds.  Of particular shock to many was the upsetting footage of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from the painful condition, syringomyelia; a condition in which the dog’s skull is in effect too small for its own brain.

I’m sure all parties agree that such horrendous genetic conditions are unacceptable and drastic work needs to be done to ensure dogs are health tested before being bred so ensure dogs with such conditions are never bred from. It was great to hear a DNA test has been developed to discover carriers of the gene that can cause Primary Open Angle Glaucoma in the  the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. however, of equal concern are the current breed standards that the dog are judged against.

In a nutshell, a breed standard is a particular set of characteristics that a ‘perfect’ example of a breed should display.  Concern has been raised that many breeds have become of such an exaggerated form that breed ‘perfection’ has become dog ‘imperfection’.

The Kennel Club has since gone on record to say “In the absence of legislation, there is no obligation on breeders to take note of the Breed Standards which promote healthy dogs.”  This statement suggests that the kennel club sees its current breed standards to be ‘healthy’ therefore dogs that conform to these breed standards must also be ‘healthy’ in their eyes.

It would take many blog posts to analyse each breed, so the following is not designed to single out any one breed above another, but it was concerning to see the confirmation of this year’s winning German Shepherd.   This particular dog was deemed closest to the breed standard of the 145 entrants but sadly its gait was so loose and its back so loped that its hind legs appeared to wobble as it walked.

In my opinion, if this wobbly gait and sloped back is not only acceptable but sought after then the kennel club needs to seriously reconsider its own breed standards.

The video below shows the judging of the 2014 German Shepherds; it’s easy to see why they’ve gained the nickname ‘half dog, half frog’ from the unnatural way their hind legs articulate.

In comparison, this video shows a typical German shepherd used in the police force. Note it’s fluid gait, straighter back and much stronger hind legs.

From these two videos alone it’s clear in my mind which represents the more functional dog. This is where the current breed standards are failing our canine companions.  True form and function appear to be playing second fiddle to a set guide to breed perfection is that is no longer fit for purpose.

With the kennel club appearing to talk the talk but not making strides to rectify the problem, as is evident from the 2015 breed winner what is the future for Crufts?

For many, Crufts represents a celebration of all things dog with agility, heelwork to music and fly-ball among the myriad of amazing non-conformation events and competitions it hosts.  Such events highlight the amazing bond between human and dog. So should these events decouple themselves from the confirmation aspect of the show and become a true celebration based on talent, rather than looks?

As such a drastic change is very unlikely to happen any time soon, should Channel 4 cease its television coverage until Crufts becomes a true celebration of happy, handsome, yet above all, HEALTHY dogs?

It would seem the jury is still out on this question for many dog lovers, but with the disappointing lack of real strides in the improvement of many severely comprised breeds, I must sadly agree that the mainstream broadcast Crufts should be reconsidered.

Dr Sophia Yin

It was with a heavy heart that the world learned of the tragic passing of Dr Sophia Yin. Dr Yin was a true ambassador for evidence based dog training and her work in teaching stress free handling for dogs and cats should be high on every veterinarian’s reading list.

It is true that we all too often impose our will on our animal companions through force, simply because we can and because our animals are forgiving enough to allow us to do so. However, Dr Yin’s philosophy of developing a relationship with our animals based on trust is one that can benefit both veterinarians and their patients.

As an example, here we see desensitisation to used to make the process of nail trimming a far less fearful experience. It would have been just as simple to muzzle this dog and perform the procedure yet it would have likely resulted in a greater battle in the future.

Dr Yin was known for her tireless effort in educating the public on the misconceptions surrounding dominance theory. Most modern dog trainers and behaviourists understand that the classic view of pack theory and a strict dominance hierarchy has been disproved and her work was likely instrumental in developing the huge community of evidence based dog trainers we have today.
In the below documentary we are fortunate enough to hear her valued thoughts on this emotional subject.

Dr Yin’s passing also highlights the pressure of working in a compassion-hungry environment in which veterinarians must care for both their animal patients and their human guardians. While the world mourns her passing we must all strive to continue her mission in every human/animal interaction we are lucky enough to be involved with.