Fred, chocolate and tan English cocker spaniel puppy posing in a wool scarf / Perfect cocker spaniel book and dog blog / cocker puppy tips, advice, how to hand-strip cocker spaniel, cocker spaniel diet, training, best foods (C) Natalia Ashton

Fred. In a scarf.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the boys. So today is all about Fred. In a scarf.

I believe this sort of diary post isn’t something of public interest, but I love this photo so much and I will never forget how we took it.

Initially, I wanted to photograph them together. But Fred, who has never worn any fashion gear before, really wanted a portrait. I wrapped him in my scarf thinking that the boy will protest or run away to play with it.

I was wrong. Fred was a pro! I think he actually felt proud sitting and posing for me. The camera clicked and clicked and clicked, but my beautiful spaniel stayed there motionless until I was happy with the shot.

He is fabulous. Just fabulous. And I love him to bits.

 

Photo credit: Fred photographed by me

 

How to protect and puppy proof christmas tree from dog / Perfect cocker spaniel pet blog / English cocker spaniel book, puppy advice, tips, cocker grooming, hand strip, diet, training tips, cocker spaniel puppies / (C) Natalia Ashton

Q & A | How to protect the Christmas tree from my cocker spaniel puppy?

This was one of the most popular questions I had to answer since the beginning of December, so I thought we need to have a proper conversation about puppy-proofing the Christmas tree.

Christmas trees and cocker spaniels can live in utter harmony most of the time. Admittedly, we never had to worry even though my boys have always been inquisitive about things. Thankfully, Christmas trees were never on their list of objects to explore. I guess they thought that it was just another piece of furniture that we chose to add to the house decor.

On the other hand, and after I was asked the question, there were things that I’ve always done on subconscious level or perhaps because I tried to perceive the tree from the dog’s point of view – and it helped me to avoid any disasters.

And this is why I made the list to document my actions in one place…

Put the tree in a room that your dog won’t be able to access if you have to leave him on his own. Putting a puppy playpen around the tree may stop some cockers, but many dogs will just force their way through any barriers because the prize is way too good to ignore!

Fake it! Choose an artificial tree over the real thing. Just think how tempting a fir tree would be for your pup who lives to sniff and chew! Boys may even mark it… because it’s exactly the same as the  “message boards” they use outside!

Additionally, fir needles contain oils that can irritate the mouth and digestive tract and cause drooling, vomiting and upset stomach. Your cocker cannot digest any needles he swallows, which can lead to additional digestive issues and even stomach punctures. If your dog walks over them, the needles (especially old and dry ones) can cause anything from a mild irritation from the prick to an injury.

Another thing to bear in mind when it comes to the real trees is the water – it can become stale, contain chemicals and oils from the tree and “special solutions” such as pesticides, preservatives and aspirin, which are toxic to dogs.

On the other hand, an artificial tree is not that fragrant even from the canine prespective and is relatively safe unless your pooch chooses to pull the entire arrangement down for the fun of it.

Talking of the latter… Give your dog some time to get used to the tree. Put it up, make sure it’s sturdy and then leave the tree without any decorations for a couple of days. Do not attract your dog’s attention to the tree when installing it. Do not ask him to come and look at branches or sniff it. As soon as you begin to fuss over “the new thing”, it will become something enchanting for your cocker.

Inspect your artificial tree for loose needles and brittle brunches. Some materials can become fragile with age and if they fall off and get swallowed by your dog, the pieces of plastic or metal can be harmful.

Decorations need to be chosen wisely, especially if your cocker is still young. When my boys were puppies I made sure to avoid putting any bubbles onto the bottom brunches and always picked plastic, metal, paper, fabric and unbreakable “glass” decorations if they were within my boys’ reach. They never tried to steal them – it’s was my cautious paranoia that made me do it.

Some dogs do find baubles interesting: the toys move at the slightest draft, they are reflective and sparkling, the pup can often pick the changes in light when staring at them, and they look like his favourite balls… begging to be stolen and thrown around!

The only way you can decide how to avoid any potential disasters is to put a few baubles on the tree and observe your cocker carefully from nearby. If he shows too much attention, reconsider the decor. If his curiosity is mainly to do with the novelty of the object, use the “leave” word and make him forget about the tree decor completely by playing together or doing some training in the “tree vicinity”.

Also most definitely avoid tinsels unless your spaniel is completely oblivious and indifferent to the festivities. Tinsel can cause digestive blockages and injuries when swallowed, so it’s best not to use it.

Make sure that the tree lights are off if you cannot supervise your dog and the tree and there’s a slight chance that he may bite into the cable.

Last but not least are the edible decorations. Chocolate “baubles” and “stars” are toxic to dogs. Spicy cookies can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, and some may contain toxic raisins. Dried fruits may also upset digestion. And just imagine what any normal dog would do if you embellished the tree with any dog biscuits and treats… He is not going to just camp under the branches, that’s for sure.

 

For more useful tips on having the most wonderful peaceful Christmas with your cocker spaniel read my Dog friendly Christmas check list post.

 

Photo credit: image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Cooper and Fred english cocker spaniels / Perfect cocker spaniel book and blog / cocker spaniel tips, advice, diet, puppy tips, cocker spaniel grooming, how to hand-strip cocker spaniel / (C) Natalia Ashton

Best Christmas presents for your cocker spaniel

If you have ever lived with a cocker, you know they are a very special kind of dogs. The pups do appreciate a touch of quality in everything they are surrounded with. And let’s admit, anything of a great quality is the sure way to put a smile on an often moody face of a cocker spaniel.

Today’s post is all about them! Our beautiful, wonderful, funny, adorable, irresistible, huggable and goofy little guys. And of course, the best gifts we could get for them this Christmas.

My guide is more of a curated boutique’y kind, but it’s only because these gifts are the best of the best – and it takes a lot of time, trial and error to discover them. Hope you’ll find something for your spaniel here.

There are hardly any cocker spaniels who would not appreciate a beautiful tennis ball – or any ball, but tennis ones are the ultimate. These balls from Barc London will please both the pooch and the human who, like me, think that a hint of a classic fluorescent yellow in the interior feels like a painful shot to the brain.

Choose among 5 beautiful shades or get the rainbow! Christmas only happens once a year.

Barc London dog tennis ball toy / best christmas presents for english cocker spaniels gift guide / perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Toys are a special story in our house, too. We went through so many, especially during the teething times. Then I shut down my inner Scrooge and bought a “ducky” from Fluff & Tuff. It was a gift for Fred’s first birthday. Fred is now two and the toy, even through it’s been living an outdoorsy life, is still in one piece and looks very “fluff and tuff”, too. They aren’t cheap, but they really are the best and safest soft toys for your cocker whatever the age. Make a good cushion, too.

Fluff & Tuff indestructible soft plush dog toy / best christmas presents for english cocker spaniels gift guide / perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Cockers love to sniff and exercise their brain, so they will appreciate a puzzle game from Nina Ottosson or a food dispensing toy.

Molly & Stitch tan leather Butter collar / best christmas presents for english cocker spaniels gift guide / perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

New year – new collar! I’ve got these two because the tan colour should suit most coat colours. The “Butter” collar in cognac is from Austria-based Molly&Stitch and the “Gerard” is made in England for Maison le Lou.

Maison Le Lou Gerard Tan leather collar / best christmas presents for english cocker spaniels gift guide / perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

If you are after a very special gift, give your cocker a new bed to relax after a good run. Our favourites are made by MiaCara and Hunter. Perfect for any dog without compromising on style.

Cooper relaxing in his MiaCara dog bed / best christmas presents for english cocker spaniel gift guide / Perfect cocker spaniel dog blog (c) Natalia Ashton

If you feel that your cocker may need something extra warm, give him a baby blanket made of natural wool or cotton. The natural fibres will adjust to the body temperature and be kind to the coat unlike any static polyester or fleece. I’ve got these Tartan Blanket & Co baby blankets when my boys were puppies and am currently admiring the striking one by Lillemor.

Pure wool puppy blanket / best christmas presents for english cocker spaniels gift guide / perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Any pampered spaniel will love the natural spa and grooming products from Dug & Bitch, the Scottish company that pups and I adore. We’ve been using and talking about their wonderful whimsical things for years and I was glad to see that now any dog parent can truly indulge their pup by getting the Ultimate Gift Set box.

Dug & Bitch natural organic grooming products for dogs and cocker spaniels / best christmas presents for english cocker spaniels gift guide / perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

My boys have home-baked biscuits as a special treat, but if you want something ready to eat for your food-loving cocker or as a gift for one of his friends, Pooch&Mutt Christmas Dinner mini treats should hit the spot.

Pooch & Mutt christmas dinner dog treats / best christmas presents for english cocker spaniels gift guide / perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

If you haven’t done so yet, don’t forget to check my Gift Guide for dog lovers that I shared earlier. Because you deserve a special treat, too.

And it’s worth to mention that this post has not been sponsored by any of the above mentioned companies and brands whatsoever.

Cooper, sable red cocker spaniel puppy 8 months old / best christmas presents for English cocker spaniels gift guide / Perfect cocker spaniel book and blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Photo credits: Cooper & Fred photographed by me, images c/o Barc London, Fluff & Tuff, Molly & Stitch, Maison Le Lou, Cooper photographed by me, The Tartan Blanket Co, Dug & Bitch by Fetch & Flash Photography, Pooch & Mutt,Cooper photographed by me

Dog paws in snow photo / Salt, grit, antifreeze poisoning and dangers in dogs in winter / signs of poisoning in dogs / Perfect cocker spaniel book and blog / cocker spaniel tips, advice, grooming, diet (C)

Two winter dangers that can be fatal for your dog

“The frost and sunlight! The winter day’s delightl!” Pushing once wrote (and I briefly translated, so no judgment for my rhyming skills, please!) in his “Eugene Onegin” poetry novel.

He was spot on. Winter is a beautiful season to embrace and enjoy. The dogs adore it, too. Mine cannot wait to get outside and do their version of snow angels, which basically involves rubbing their silly happy faces against the frosty grass – bottoms up, wiggling and wagging.

They think everything about winter is fun. But unfortunately there are two serious dangers neither pups nor many pup parents are aware of, so we need to talk about those today.

SALT & GRIT (also called de-icers) appear on our roads and paths at the first hint of arctic breeze. They can be easily spotted as most have a pink or terracotta-like tint. Both can be extremely dangerous for dogs and even cause a fatal outcome. Even though salt seems pretty harmless (we do eat it, don’t we?!) the combination of sodium, chloride and ferrocyanide can cause severe irritation, burning and cracked paws if the dog walks through the grit.

Licking the paws or de-iced surfaces can be life-threatening because the excess of sodium chloride is toxic to dogs leading to a condition called hypernatremia.

The symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, lack of coordination, excessive thirst, frequent urination, tremors, seizures and coma. The paws can look red, swollen, irritated, cracked and excessively dry.

Protect your spaniel by diligently washing and drying his paws after every walk (even if the path and roads you walk on seems grit-free); applying protective paw wax before each walk and, if the gritting is excessive in your area – considering dog booties; stopping your dog from licking his paws and any surfaces that may contain traces of grit.

But what if the path is still slippery? There are a few ways to stay safe:

… invest into non-slip boots;

… use a shovel to clear the path from the snow and thick ice;

… splash the path you use most frequently with a bucket or two of hot water – it’s enough to melt the ice and frost;

… use plain rough sand instead of grit and salts – it will give you the needed grip yet will be absolutely safe for your dog.

ANTIFREEZE is the other danger of winter. The solution contains ethylene glycol that tastes sweet to dogs and a small dose can lead to kidney failure and death. Even if you are incredibly careful when using it for your own car, the antifreeze residue can be often found on roads, parking spaces and snow and get onto your dog’s paws.

Dogs are one of the most susceptible species.

The symptoms of poisoning can appear within 30 minutes following ingestion and include nausea, vomiting, drunken behaviour, lack of coordination and knuckling, excessive thirst and urination, loss of consciousness, coma and death.

Protect your dog by storing antifreeze away from your pooch’s access; using it correctly and cleaning any residue on your car, hands and surfaces; washing your dog’s paws after each walk and, should you suspect anything odd, taking your spaniel to the vets immediately.

Have a safe and enjoyable winter! 

Photo credit: image by petronela from Pixabay

Perfect cocker spaniel book featured in Edition Dog magazine / dog and puppy tips, advice, cocker spaniel grooming, diet, health / dog blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Perfect cocker spaniel featured in Edition Dog magazine

I have tried to digest and get used to the sensation of seeing my book in magazines, but it’s still a pinch-me moment that feels surreal.

I feel proud for completing the mammoth task of writing and editing the book and sending it off into the big world for all to see. And then there is the other part of me that  feels happy yet overwhelmed by the retuning heart-aching reminder of the very reason for writing Perfect cocker spaniel.

So I’ll keep the news short.

Last week the book made it to the Edition Dog, the mag written by the dog experts for the dog lovers. Which makes it one of the ultimate destinations I could only dream of.

It looks beautiful. They’ve given me an entire page. And there is a photo of me and Oscar.

I did a happy little dance. And I did cry a little, too. It felt like an early Christmas present.

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Photo source: cover and page from the digital edition of the Edition Dog magazine, issue 14 2019

Best christmas presents for dog lovers gift guide / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

The ultimate Christmas gift ideas for dog lovers

Looking for a perfect Christmas gift to please the dog lover in your life? Then your search ends here. From whimsical to chic, I have picked the most beautiful, tactile and wonderful things that will make someone’s holiday season extra special.

Let’s start with the ultimate Christmas must-have. The most beautiful Dog Person jumper any dog mum will adore and wear with pride.

Best christmas presents for dog lovers gift guide / Boden estelle cashmere-blend Dog Person jumper / Perfect cocker spaniel / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia AshtonIf you know somebody who loves Frenchies, this t-shirt will make them love you almost as much as they love their dogs! Oh, and it’s organic, so good for the body, mind and Planet.

Best christmas presents for dog lovers gift guide / French bulldog printed art organic-cotton t-shirt / Perfect cocker spaniel / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

Now, pyjamas! And not just pyjamas, but the dog printed pyjamas! Suddenly, that christmas morning feels even more cosy!

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I guess, socks aren’t particularly glamourous, but hear me out! First of all, they have dogs printed all over. Secondly, they are a daily necessity. And thirdly, if you or your special someone have a cocker, chances are he is a sock thief. To sum up – get these socks!

 

Best christmas presents for dog lovers gift guide / dog print socks / beneficial herbs for dogs health issues / home remedies for dogs / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

Any sock-equipped tootsies need some pretty bootsies. So if your dog lover is particularly found of country walks, these will be perfect for her!

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And don’t forget the gloves! Especially as charming as this pair!

 

Best christmas presents for dog lovers gift guide / hobbs dachshund gloves / beneficial herbs for dogs health issues / home remedies for dogs / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

Choose this charming Susan Caplan brooch to please an aficionado of all things vintage – and see her eyes sparkle brighter than the crystals.

Susan Caplan crystal vintage brooch / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

And something the pup’s dad! Especially if he is into crisp shirts and beautiful attire. Inject a bit of humour into impeccably tailored suiting by gifting him a pair of these Scotties Cufflinks.

Best christmas presents for dog lovers gift guide / paul smith scotties cufflinks / beneficial herbs for dogs health issues / home remedies for dogs / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

This minaudière crystal-embellished bag by the one and only Judith Leiber is a proof that “all best things come in small sizes”… The little chihuahua will not only replace any statement jewellery, but protect your precious Tom Ford lipstick and American Express during the party season. For the girl who has everything her heart desires… all but this little bag, of course.

Best christmas presents for dog lovers gift guide / minaudière crystal-embellished Mickey Chihuahua bag by Judith Leiber / Perfect cocker spaniel / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

If you are after a more sensible choice for a bag, the MCM bucket bag is the best to go for. The colour will suit most outfits and the practical shape means that it can be used daily from day to night.

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Charmwell the velvet pup will be responsible for your keys and smiles. So perfect.

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Pug is another pooch that will take care of your belongings, and the financial side of your life in particular, by storing every penny. Now any dog parent can save some cash and treat their beloved dog to something very special.

pug-money-box-best-christmas-gifts-for-dog-lovers-liberty-london-perfect-cocker-spaniel-blog

I love stationery, especially if it comes in a shape of a dog. If your special someone is into stylish office supplies, he or she will adore these dachshund paper clips, trust me on this. Also perfect for a Secret Santa.

Best christmas presents for dog lovers  gift guide /  dog daschhound paperclips / Perfect cocker spaniel / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

Complete the gift with the most elegant handmade dachshund notes by Connor&Thom Browne.

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This sweet tin isn’t just a darling stocking filler, but a perfectly prepared dog walking kit that includes a simple lead, folding water bowl, poop bags and a treat pouch.

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If you are after something tactile and timelessly beautiful that will add a certain something to the interior, Bobby, the walnut dog, is the one. I love him. And have been for years. Also, I think he is a spaniel.

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Candles make any house feel like home, so I simply had to include the iconic Bella Freud Dog candle – my list would not be complete without it. It’s not only extremely sweet to look at, but I am sure the flickering light and delicate scent will definitely bring a moment of sanity for any dog mum who has a crowd to cook and look after during the holidays.

bella-freud-dog-candle-best-christmas-gifts-dog-lovers-presents-guide-perfect-cocker-spaniel

If your dog lover is into crafts, she will adore the idea of crocheting a gorgeous beagle toy! You can also get kits for a labrador puppy and a cocker spaniel.

Best christmas presents for dog lovers  gift guide / TOFT knitting crocheting kit for beagle, cocker spaniel and labrador / beneficial herbs for dogs health issues / home remedies for dogs / English cocker spaniel dog blog, advice, puppy tips, grooming / (C) Natalia Ashton

The nature lover who is particularly found of their garden will be pleased with the Growbar The Dog Bar kit, a seed collection of herbs beneficial for dogs. Now the love can literally grow stronger and stronger as the time goes by. Looks very pretty, too.

growbar-the-dog-bar-gardeners-seed-kit-perfect-presents-for-dog-lovers-gift-guide-perfect-cocker-spaniel-blog

Any house-proud dog lover with a keen sense of style will be pleased to receive Teckel dog that holds toothpicks, salt and pepper! Sweet and brilliant.

toothpick-salt-pepper-shaker-dog-shaped-gift-perfect-christmas-presents-dog-lovers-guide-perfect-cocker-spaniel-blog

And just one more thing for the house…. To keep it warm and toasty during winter. Trust this handsome hound to do the job! And he will definitely deliver! Such a dapper dog! Comes as a door stop, too.

dog-shaped-dachshund-draught-excluder-best-christmas-resents-for-dog-lovers-gift-guide

For the lovers of the printed word who is particularly fond of the English cockers, I’d suggest Flush, the immortal classic by Virginia Woolf…

flush-virginia-woolf-novel-best-presents-for-dog-cocker-spaniel-lovers-christmas-gift-guide

Perfect cocker spaniel, the ultimate guide to the breed and finding and raising an English cocker spaniel puppy by yours truly…

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…and Dogs in Vogue: A Century of Canine Chic by Judith Watt

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No list would be complete without a Christmas tree bauble. Because everyone should have a special decoration to make each year. Here I give you a wool felt Fox Terrier holding a mistletoe. This will bring all the hugs and kisses (and not only puppy ones!) you could wish for.

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Photo source: me & the boys photographed by Elizabeth Clarke of Pink Feet Photography

 

Perfect light grey minimal container for dog treats and dog food / Perfect cocker spaniel dog blog, puppy advice, tips, English cocker spaniel grooming, handstripping, diet, best foods, training, health / (C) Natalia Ashton

We Love | Pet Treat Holder

How long does it take to find a perfect tin for keeping dog biscuits? In my case, and as dramatic as it sounds, over a year.

I knew what I wanted colour-wise, shape-wise, style-wise, lots and lots of “wise”, basically. The problem is that such a tin has never been made.

Until now.

I have been browsing Cox & Cox today looking for a few Christmas-related bits and bobs and suddenly saw it.

The perfect Pet Treat Holder.

Minimal, subtle grey, compact and beautiful. To top it all up, it has the most perfect leather handle!

Seriously, it’s a miracle and I’ve got one on order now. So very much in love…

Oh, and in case you are after dog food storage, there is a large equally-stylish container for keeping your pooch kibble fresh and crunchy.

perfect-grey-minimal-container-for-dog-food-with-leather-handle-perfect-cocker-spaniel-blog

Photo source: both photos are from Cox & Cox website