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, photographed by me / simple trick to how to stop puppy from picking street rubbish on walks / first puppy advice for cocker spaniel puppy parents / published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C)

Simple trick to stop your puppy from picking street rubbish on walks

Teaching a pup to “Leave” takes time… So what can you do now to stop him from picking up everything in sight during your walks?

I’ve come up with this trick after noticing that most cockers love to carry something. So when my pups were young, too excited about life (and everything on the street they could sniff and possibly eat…) and still learning proper “Leave” I used a distraction.

I’d pick up an old sock, shoe storage bag (you know, the one that comes inside the box), glove or small fabric flat toy – anything light and easy to hold would do!

We’d play right before the walk using the said thing, then I’d put it in my pocket to give to the pup during our walk.

They always looked so happy, adorable and proud carrying their trophy! And it kept them busy from focusing on rubbish! After a few walks the rubbish would become a familiar part of the street, so the pups would no longer pay attention to it. By then we’d also had enough practice with “Leave”, so the pups were prepared for the big life (and the sock or toy would be left at home)

Of course, it doesn’t suit every single puppy. But it’s such a simple thing to try, it’s worth a mention.

If you have any tricks or tips of your own, do share them below.

bionda chasten campaign by Dima Hohlov c/o Bionda Castana & Natalia Barbieri / why puppies chew shoes and how to stop them from chewing furniture, shoes and other things when teething / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C)

Q&A | How to stop a puppy from chewing shoes?

“Louboutins or Manolos, they all taste the same…” is a kind of note that should be given to all new puppy parents, especially their shoe-loving mums. Brands aside, the note will serve as a friendly reminder that puppies, whether you like it or not, like to bite things.

Unlike us, humans, dogs don’t see things first… They SMELL them. Then they TASTE them. This simple exercise is their favourite way to learn about life and things its made of. The sights comes useful, of course, but mostly as a navigation device to get the pup from the scent to the source. Presto.

And once they arrive, puppies sink their teeth into whatever they want to learn about. Naturally the damage can be big and turn your possessions into shreds in no time.

To avoid this from happening, here are some simple rules that every puppy parent needs to follow, not even for the sake of saving a pair of shoes, but mostly, for the safety of your pup who can, unfortunately, swallow things he should not.

Puppy-proof the house before you get the pup;
Prevent or stop any bad habit from happening from the start otherwise you will end up with a dog who will be destroying things for the rest of his life because it’s fun;
Put away shoes and things that may look tempting;
Give him plenty of toys (see my earlier post about best chews for puppies);
Stimulate him mentally through puzzle toys and training – and physically, though age-appropriate exercises (walks, training etc.)
During teething, use bitter apple spray on furniture – the taste will discourage him from chewing;
Do not leave the pup alone for hours – first of all, it’s not a good idea full-stop, secondly, he is likely to get bored and end up chewing something; thirdly, cockers can develop separation anxiety and, as a result, destructive behaviour, if you aren’t careful;
If your puppy shows signs of pica (the need to eat odd things like, say, plaster or soil) consult a vet and examine his current diet.

See? Easy enough. Almost tempting to say “Christian Louboutin would approve”, but I guess that would be advertising.

Photo source: Bionda Castana Spring/Summer 2016 campaign (photography: Dima Hohlov) c/o Natalia Barbieri

Fred, my chocolate and tan english cocker spaniel puppy playing with his ball / first puppy training tips and advice / things to teach puppy / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C)

5 things to teach your puppy

Puppy’s mind is like blank canvas. You can paint anything you like on its surface. The better skills you have, the better your masterpiece will turn out. If you leave the canvas untouched & neglected, they’ll lose their pristine qualities & require a lot more effort to achieve the art work you’ve dreamed of…

Now, away from the imaginary gallery and back to the reality of puppy life, so we can use every minute of it to our advantage.

Cockers are naturally very intelligent & easy to train at any age. However, puppy’s brain is information-hungry & still developing, so it’s the best time to mould it.

I teach my pups from day one. Those aren’t really lessons. It’s more like a game. Of course, nothing is forced & the “games” are kept short. And here are the first 5 things the pups learn…

His/her name… because it’s the easiest way to grab your pup’s attention;

“Come”… because right now pup will follow you at all times allowing you to set the foundation for future success;

House training… takes time, so the sooner you begin, the quicker you’ll achieve results;

Wearing collar & walking with a lead attached… because wearing ANYTHING is not natural for any animal. It’s important for the little pup to understand that his collar is not scary & the lead is not a toy. You can also teach him to follow you (while the lead is attached) and build foundation towards successful no-pulling on the lead routine;

“Leave” or “Spit”… to stop him from hoovering up everything in sight (& spitting things out when asked) to avoid obvious problems.

The rest of the lifestyle tasks can be taught alongside or later on

I didn’t include the how-to’s because I’ve described details in my book, Perfect cocker spaniel. And lets be honest, any article longer than 1000 characters can send even the most dedicated puppy parents to sleep…

What things did you teach your pup when he joined you? Which ones are most important for you?

Photo source: Fred, photographed by me

 

We Love | Dug & Bitch Nose #2

My miracle in a jar… I’m sure most girls will understand me when I say that the idea of not having Nose No. 2 available is as heart-breaking as having your favourite shade of lipstick being discounted.

So I hope it’ll never happen…

I discovered Dug&Bitch in a manner of a meg pie. The bird looks for shiny pretty things – I get tempted by chic looking objects, even if they are some ordinary tins.

One day I spotted the Nose balm & decided to get it, just in case.

Back then Fred, still a pup, was suffering from keratosis on his nose. Long story short – aged 5 days Fred almost didn’t make it. His breeder nursed him back from the other side, but the puppy food had to be high in vitamins to do the trick. As a side-effect, his body reacted by overproducing skin cells. And it was my job, as a mum, to fix it.

Shea butter was the answer because it’s healing, packed with beneficial oils, which make it anti-inflammatory, and it’s brilliant for a long list of skin concerns.

Plus Nose No. 2 had the coconut oil. Which is my life-line externally & internally.

After a week of daily applications Fred’s chocolate muzzle went from dry & cracked to shiny & super-kissable.

Since the jar was still full to the brim, I continued using the balm as a maintenance treatment… From there we also moved onto paws, skin, any bug bites & minor scratches, boys bums & tums, the list went on… For example, if your pup has a light-coloured muzzle, you can use Nose No. 2 as the best natural toxin-free sunscreen. And if your dog tends to suffer from mild eczema (but only it was diagnosed by a vet!) or lip fold dermatitis (especially as a preventative measure) the balm may be useful, too.

The tin lasts me almost a year. And I always repurchase this love potion. Star product, 5-star and beyond.

Perfect.

And I haven’t been paid or compensated in any other way to say any of it. Had to say it for the sceptics.

Water Wipes, best wipes for puppies / first time puppy advice and tips on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C)

We Love | WaterWipes

I’ve discovered Water Wipes two years ago when preparing for the arrival of Fred. And now I can’t imagine being without them. I know, it’s #firstworldproblems but hey…

I use them to clean my boys paws after non-muddy walks (I’ve posted about importance of clean paws a while ago, so scroll down for a read)

They are indispensable with young pups – to wipe paws, bottoms & tummies

The wipes can work as a mild disinfectant for your hands during walks, on grooming surfaces, to wipe toys, or wee spots (after you clean them first, of course!)

Unlike ANY other wipes, including the ones sold as “natural”, “organic”, “puppy friendly” etc, these are made with water and some grapefruit seed extract (it has antibacterial properties) only, so they are non-toxic & very unlikely to cause any sensitivity (skin or digestive) reaction in pups as opposed to any wipes made with essential oils, aloe vera, waxes, “odor neutraliser” (whatever it is!), preservatives, polysorbates, flavours, proteins (why?), polyaminopropyl boguanide, dimethicone, PEGs, triclosan, fragrances, parabens, zinc, SLS, DMDM hydantoin etc.

Yes, I like it simple. Because I love my dogs and I hate overloading their bodies with unnecessary chemicals, which ALWAYS carry short- and long term side-effects that go way beyond the skin reaction.

Brilliant product, absolutely brilliant.

This post has not been sponsored or gifted. I simply love this product.
Note: these aren’t biodegradable, so please bin them – don’t flush them down the toilet.

Photo source: Water Wipes UK

how to choose best natural treats and training treats for puppies and dogs / puppy tips and advice / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog (C)

Your cocker will love these good-for-him treats

“What do you feed your dogs with?” is one of the questions I’m asked at least once a day. I don’t usually advise on the choice of dog food because I believe in individuality and the choice of dog food should depend on your dog, his health, age, gender, activity and preferences, and discussed with a knowledgable vet (though I’m more than happy to chat about different brands, ingredients and types of diets)

Treats are a bit different. They are something I give to my boys in addition to their meals – because if I don’t, they will queue in the kitchen forever…  I thought I’d put all our favourites in one post in case you’ve been curious but felt a bit shy to ask.

Remember that any new food must be introduced gradually, these foods below are suitable for healthy active dogs without any diagnosed health problems, any health issues you’re aware of or dogs who take any form of medicine, prescribed drugs or supplements. If you’re in doubt, always check with your vet!

The list below is condensed, but I’ve put a lot more info in my book Perfect cocker spaniel.

DAILY my boys have…
… home-made biscuits;
… natural yoghurt / kefir (they love the taste, plus it’s a tiny dose of some B vits, calcium, magnesium, and good bacteria);
… raw manuka honey (not suitable for dogs under 12 months of age. Full of minerals, antibacterial agents and yummy taste);
… raw organic virgin coconut oil (for fab fatty acids and antibacterial properties);
… raw dried sweet potato (makes a great chew, packed with beta-carotene, B vits, vit C, magnesium, calcium, iron & fiber;
… whatever is in season and always – organic. I limit the quantities to a couple of slices for cucumber/carrot, 1-2 strawberries or 4-5 berries like blueberries. Boys have one option per day, not a salad!

ONCE A WEEK pups also have…
…. a hard boiled egg, usually we use it for training;
… cooked plain chicken or turkey, again it’s a high value training treat;
… salmon (two very small pieces, just as a little treat);
… passata (2tsp, plain passata free from salt, herbs or any other flavorings. It’s not so much for the vitamin value but to keep the plaque away)

What is your dog’s favourite treat?

Photo source: image by katerinavulcova from Pixabay