Fred, my chocolate and tan cocker spaniel puppy with his organic dog toy / best toys and chews for teething puppies / first puppy advice and tips / first published on perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Q&A | What makes a perfect chew for a teething puppy?

There is a piranha in every puppy! Yes, even the sweetest puppy can release the hidden demon that will shred the legs of your sofa or a pair of favourite shoes.

How to avoid this?

Give your pup a chew!

And not any chew, but a puppy-friendly chew.

Here’s a check list that can help!

Pick a chew that has “a give” – you can bend or flex them, and the toy is not rock hard.

Choose toys made of non-toxic rubber, natural cotton rope or suede.

Apple slices and carrot pieces make fab chews.

Avoid any chews made of nylon, latex, plastic, rawhide, or hemp (hemp is ok for playing but a heavy chewer can pull it apart and swallow too much).

Never give your puppy antler chews or rawhide. You can consider antlers once the pup is over 12 months old, but personally I do not recommend them, especially for heavy chewers due to high risk of injuries.

Roots and special wood stick can be an option for pups with permanent teeth. Never leave your puppy unsupervised whilst he’s playing with his treat.

What are your favourite puppy chews?

Photo source: Fred at 3 months old, photographed by me


Easter chocolate toxic poisoning for dogs / signs of chocolate poisoning / what to do if dog ate chocolate / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Easter chocolates & your dog

Chocolate-filled weekend is coming, so I wanted to write a little post about chocolate poisoning (that’s the spirit, right?)

Most people already know that chocolate is toxic for dogs. The darker the chocolate, the less of it is needed to make your dog ill.

White chocolate is not as dangerous as the milk and dark varieties because it contains practically no theobromine (about 0.75mg per 100g vs 1600mg per 100g of cooking dark chocolate). However, white chocolate can still cause diarrhoea and vomiting due to high fat content.

Signs of poisoning can take up to 12 hours to appear and may take up to several days to clear up.

Signs of chocolate poisoning include…
…heavy breathing
…increased heart rate
…increased urination
…anxiety and restlessness
…muscle tremors
…sudden death

If your dog ate chocolate, take them to the vets immediately. Tell the vet how much chocolate was eaten. Take the wrapper with you for extra information. The vet will stimulate vomiting using hydrogen peroxide and give the dog activated charcoal tablets to absorb theobromine (do not try to do it at home unless you know how!)

Avoid the risk by keeping any form of chocolate out of your dog’s reach. Remind your guests and kids not to give your spaniel any chocolate-containing treats.

Carob is a chocolate-like ingredient that can be given to dogs. If you choose to buy carob dog treats, always check the label for unwanted ingredients such as sugar, derivatives of animal or vegetable origin, milk, unspecified fats and oils, just to name a few.

Better still, stick with super safe and nutritious options like carrots, eggs, yummy cooked chicken or dog biscuits. Trust me, your cocker will not complain!

Photo source: image by Vratsagirl from Pixabay

I wrote a book

Three years of my life, two gorgeous dogs and a bucket of tears. That’s what it took me to get from an idea of writing a book to publishing Perfect cocker spaniel.

As surreal as it sounds, I wrote a book. An actual book!

Why? Because it was my way to keep the memory of Oscar alive. Because I love books. And dogs. And simply because I wanted to share everything I knew about English cocker spaniels with both the new puppy parents and absolutely everyone who simply adores the breed as much as I do (and I can talk about cockers 24/7, so it’s practically a disease!)

What is it about? Everything. I’ve complied a massive Theory to encourage cocker parents to understand their dogs and give them the most appropriate care (and all the love they deserve). There’s a chapter about health, and another one – on first aid. There are chapters on grooming and hand-stripping because I get asked so many questions about my boys’ beauty routine. And of course, there’s another huge chapter on dog’s nutrition and diet.

Once you (fuelled by caffeine and inappropriate thoughts of killing me on the spot for torturing your brain) get through the first part, you are rewarded with an easy-to-follow guide for puppy parents. It’s like diving into the world of unicorns and sparkles. Plus a dash of reality. But I promise, you will enjoy it!

The reason I went so deep with writing a guide that, in its physical form, would weight a ton, is my own experience of attending a year-long study course before I had my first puppy. By the time he was born I could discuss anything from dog’s anatomy and physiology, breeds, nutrition and training to breeding and raising puppies. I could cook meals for my dogs and knew how to show them.

In other words, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, so the feeling of responsibility was palpable.

A lot has changed since then but the way I perceive my role of puppy’s mum remains the same. I truly believe that anyone must have a solid knowledge of finding, welcoming and raising a dog. And this core knowledge must be obtained before the puppy is here because puppy parenthood is not an easy ride and the puppy – is not a toy, it’s an actual living and breathing little being who completely relies on his parents to live, thrive and grow into a beautiful and healthy dog!

I wrote this book for Oscar. I wrote it for the love of my beautiful boys. I wrote it for every English cocker spaniel out there because they are simply the best dogs one could have!

If you agree with me, Perfect Cocker Spaniel is the book for you. Do let me know what you think of it. But, please, be gentle.

Photo source: the cover is designed by me, the portrait of Cooper is by Sandra Chiocchetti

Fred, 2 months old chocolate and tan english cocker spaniel puppy / how to help puppy settle in new home / first puppy tips and advice / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Q&A | How to help a puppy settle in his new home?

I may be rubbish at many things but helping my new pups feel happy at their new home is something I’ve never had problems with.

As a list-obsessed person I’ve come up with a set of my own rules. Tick-done-tick-done. Works every time. There are no crying puppies in this house.

And here it is…

… create a calm and cosy house to come to;
… get a toy or puppy blanket from the breeder with the scent of mum & litter mates;
… get a safe & snuggly cleanable bed that pup can’t destroy (plastic ones are best, use VetBed & puppy blankets to make them warm & comfy);
… allow the pup plenty of time to sleep & relax;
… use the food & feeding schedule given by the breeder;
… share the room/bedroom with the pup to start with;
… allow puppy to explore his new home, but limit him to 1-2 rooms for the first few weeks;
… explain puppy do’s & don’t’s to the kids;
… don’t invite visitors for the first few days (even better, wait until the quarantine is over);
… don’t hesitate to phone the breeder for help & advice.

Got any puppy questions? Just ask!

Photo source: Fred, photographed by me


How to find English cocker spaniel puppy adverts online, buy cocker spaniel puppy online / how to find good cocker spaniel breeder / how to avoid puppy farms / first puppy tips and advice / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C)

Q&A | How to find a cocker spaniel puppy online & avoid puppy mills & puppy farms

Lets be honest, even if I tell you 100 times to look for a pup through the Kennel Club, most of you (myself included) are still going to do an online search. It’s quite normal. Internet is brilliant for finding anything. And I’m pretty sure, once you start you will end up on a popular site full of puppy ads. I did once. And I found one of my boys (and one of most wonderful breeders) there. I also came across dozens and dozens of ads that must be avoided at all costs.

The biggest problem with an ad is the fact that once you see photos, you fall in love. And once you’re in love, you cannot think straight.

This is when many people choose puppies who come without pedigrees, from non-tested parents, from parents one of which may not be a cocker, and even pups from puppy farms or stolen litters.

To help you out, I picked an ad you can trust and the one you must avoid (you can zoom on both)

How to find reputable registered breeder cocker spaniel puppy for sale online ad / how to avoid puppy farmers / good puppy advert and puppy breeders to avoid and how to spot them / puppy advice and tips / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C)

YES advert is by a kind of breeder I’d happily get a puppy from. It’s perfect in every way & gives you a peace of mind when it comes to puppy’s breeding history and health. I have included the text to give you an idea what a safe & professional ad should look like.

AVOID any ads that look like this & are from private seller, not licensed by council (current rule is that anyone producing at least one puppy for sale must obtain a license); pups are not KC registered, only one of the parents is health tested CLEAR or neither of the dogs are tested at all; dogs are described as “family pets” as the main reason to breed from them “just once”; breeder offers pedigree certificates even though pups are not KC reg; price for the pups is too low (usual cost is around £1000); dad is nowhere to be seen.

Unfortunately, the AVOID ads take about 2/3 of the site space. Be careful and think with your head when making a choice.

Photo source: image by Katrina_S from Pixabay