Dog Tech (2) . The Furbo

Dogs and technology….the Furbo.

Have you ever wondered what your dog gets up to  when you’re not around ? Some  just nap and chill whilst others get up to mischief like climbing onto the kitchen table or other pieces of furniture that they would never go near when you are around . 

Twenty  or so years ago I used to leave a camera and video recording system with clients to review their dogs behaviour problems such as separation problems or excessive barking…Once , for a court case about neighbour’s complaints, I  reviewed 18 hours of tape to find that the dogs barked for a total of 12 minutes !

Now modern technology has been brought into the home where you can not only watch what your dog is doing but also talk to him and also reward any behaviour you like by remotely triggering a reward. Once you have wifi (and who hasn’t?) its a very simple process to connect  your device to your wifi and then to your smartphone and away you go.

Just before Christmas I was asked to review one of these types of cameras, called FURBO. This is a well designed piece of technology which looks somewhat like a piece of designer appliance  so it wont look  out of place in the kitchen.

What is  Furbo ? 

Basically it is a wide angle camera system with microphone and speaker system which allows you to watch and listen to your dog and be able to talk to and issue instructions , commands and  praise , followed by the giving of a treat by simply pressing an onscreen button on your connected phone. 


What does it come with?

The basic unit arrives well packaged and contains the Furbo unit, charging lead (usb cable) with relevant plug for your country . It even comes with a small package of treats so you can start right away.

Once plugged in the unit indicates it’s ready  by a series of coloured lights. You will need to download the Furbo app to your phone and once the Furbo  and your phone are connected  you are ready to go.The whole process took less than 5minutes . 

The App

Once downloaded  from the appropriate site for your phone , which does’t take long even with a poor wifi connection, the app proves to be very intuitive and I was firing treats within minutes ,much to Mary’s consternation as there were no dogs present in the kitchen and neither was I , so she was wondering where the little bits came from . I was able to apologise remotely from a safe distance as well !

You can watch a live feed on your phone , take pictures or record video to your phone and save them . That would be a bonus for those dogs with a behaviour problem which could then be recorded  and discussed with your behaviourist . This would help rule out patterns of behaviour which might lead to a misdiagnosis of the actual problem.

The app says that some dogs require training  to accept the Turbo and a training curse and help is provided via the app. Before each treat is fired there is a little chirrup to indicate to the dog that a treat or reward is coming , though our two German Shepherds  quickly discovered this fact  within  two firings  and were quite happy to run and get into correct place as to  where the treat / reward would come from or land.


The system also has a barking monitor which signals your phone when your dog is barking. Speaking into your phone you can easily talk to your dog and the sound from the speaker is clear and audible. The microphone  on the unit is sensitive and you can easily hear ambient sounds  from the room in which it is placed , so it could easily double as a home / room monitor. With suitable dry kibble the Furbo can also be used with cats .

A wide viewing angle

A wide viewing angle


More than one person can use the Furbo by adding their phone, but Furbo can only have two users connected at the same time.However, to protect your privacy, Furbo can only be linked to  one Email account and password. If there are multiple users, it is recommended to share a family group account and password and I would also suggest a rota system for treating otherwise everyone will be giving the soon to be overweight  dog his treats!


The unit is plastic , easily wiped clean  and so far has functioned with no problems . The treats need to be small enough to feed through the hopper and would I suggest need to be dry so that they do not  soften or block the feeding mechanism .

So do you need it ?

If you are a techie dog lover is this worth the money? It’s difficult to know as everyone is different but you can certainly have fun watching what your dogs get up to when you are away, though whether  your boss will be happy that you are watching your dog rather than working  may be consideration. If you are thinking of a house camera / intruder warning then this may be ideal as it serves the extra function of being your dog’s “next to best friend”. Some people who I’ve  discussed this with were really taken with the idea and wanted one straightaway whilst one or two others felt their dogs would be driven mad looking for them having heard their voice remotely. For the latter there would need to be a bit of training to introduce the dog to the remote voice. Certainly I can see areas in behaviour work where the use of the Furbo would be beneficial as an adjunct to behaviour work  and where the “chirrup” sound could, with training, replace the clicker, as a signal for a correct response .

Recent research into technology has looked at how dogs react to such machines and remote  toys   and came to the conclusion that many of the recent innovations are made to assuage the guilt of owners leaving their dogs behind at home, rather than being designed from the dogs point of view .At least the Furbo allows for two way communication between dog and owner, unlike  toys with which dogs lose interest quite quickly. With time and effort you could train your dog to find objects  hidden around the house on command and then reward  with a food pellet.

If you do decide to try the Furbo we have a pleasant surprise for you. If you visit either of the Furbo websites and use code wendenkennels159 or wendenkennels50 you can get a your Furbo for a discounted price ! for a £40 discount code wendenkennels159 for a €50 discount code wendenkennels50

Dog tech (1) : The internet of connected things .

Just before Christmas I was sent a “Furbo” to evaluate and comment upon. In case you haven’t heard of  the Furbo this is a wifi  enabled remote controlled camera and treat dispenser through which  you can hear , speak to and see your dog and with a swipe of a button on your smart phone  fire a treat to your pet from anywhere in the world. After  less than two minutes our two GSDs had learnt that the whistle emanating from the Furbo presaged the arrival of a piece of kibble fired at a random distance  across the  room.

For more information on the Furbo please see part two of the Dog tech blog

 Other similar makes include a laser pointer  with which to interact with your dog though I suspect this would be of more use to the cat owner than a dog owner. This led me to wonder what else is in the tech world for dogs and their owners and what we can expect in the future  which will benefit  ourselves and our canine companions.

Tech toys include a remote controlled  bone which includes a camera  and moves randomy around the room  and can be switched on or off by smartphone or else left to roam all day. These toys are meant o entertain our bored dogs  whilst we are out at work, but I feel are really to assuage our guilt at leaving them alone. Technology offerings for dogs are significantly increasing, for example wearable pet technology is projected to grow by 16% by 2020 (Technavio, 2017). Crowdfunding dog technology, such as for PlayDate , a wifi enabled play ball highlights considerable consumer demand for tech toys. Broadly speaking the category of tech for dogs  can be divided with some overlap into three categories: Tracking, Monitoring ,and Interactive Play.

GPS monitors can be worn on collars  and can enable lost dogs to be found  or even to set alerts for owners to be notified if they go beyond  a selected boundary. Microchip sensors can be programmed for entry systems to give or deny access to areas, indeed one Swedish company  now have their workers “chipped” to allow keyless entry to specific areas and therefore it would be possible to use the implanted chip in a dog for similar access. Imagine that access for assistance dogs and their owners  could be read automatically in public buildings or transport hubs ? Gone would be the perennial problem of the bogus assistance dog claiming access. Perhaps the information on chips could be broadened to include training levels  whereby passes at Good Citizen awards etc  could give access to being off lead in public parks ? Simple RFID chips and  readers such as those used in contactless payments  could be used  for a whole range of services for our dogs. Some tracking technologies incorporate health and activity monitoring, enabling the owner to monitor their dog’s activity levels and health (Whistle, 2017). Fitbark (Fitbark, 2017) provides the dog’s ‘health’ profile, monitoring activity levels, quality of sleep, distance travelled, calories burned, and overall health and behaviour 24/7. So just like you, your dog can have their own quantified self, with the opportunity to share data with clinicians. On a societal level if a disease such as rabies broke out then it would be critical to know which dogs had already been vaccinated. Again this type of information could be recorded on the chip and be easily read, stored and retrieved . Real time monitoring of blood pressure , temperature , weight and activity , chemical analyses of blood and other secretions are already technically available for different farmed species and it surely can’t be too long before their introduction to companion animals allowing “real time” monitoring . Alerts via text messaging to owner and or vet could lead to early interventions or in the case of assistance dogs or Guide dogs allow the charity to identify the interruption of use  of a valuable asset either by non-use or incapacity of the user. Interactive play technology for the bored dog ranges from the passive Furbo  to  the learning theory based Clever pet system which uses a ‘keypad’ providing a game-based approach for dogs where treats are provided in response to game-winning actions, based on the use of lit touch pads. The games range from the dog selecting any pad to following a longer complex sequence as pads light up. Again, this is for the dog that is home alone with the owner able to get live updates of whether the dog is engaging, resetting games levels through their mobile device.

However, the drawback to these interactive toys such as the ball or bone and  are simply that experience shows that for the dog, toys themselves stop being rewarding after a few minutes of play unless the owner is also involved. Play levels with toys  by lone dogs tends to fall off rapidly after 6 months , and older dogs in general produce toys etc  in order to stimulate interaction with their owner . This is often rewarded by the owner playing with the dog or more often patting and stroking the dog. Down the line may come the Hapatic coat for dogs which would allow the dog to be petted remotely ( it already exists for chickens!). At the  moment some service dogs are wearing such coats and have been trained to perform certain behaviours  controlled by differing vibrations on different  parts of the body. Coats with different interactive sensors  have been produced with which the dog can communicate remotely with its handler : a search and rescue dog out of sight of its handler can bite or pull a sensor on its harness when it finds a body which in turn signals the position of the dog and body. Similarly seizure alert dogs  can be trained to activate  the correct sensor to link to an owners  mobile phone to text emergency services or relative with location and details. By adding different trigger points a service dog can communicate a range of information to its handler by choosing  the relevant  sensor site.

As miniaturisation of sensors and battery  life improves the future for wearable or implantable  technology for our dogs will undoubtedly lead to developments which we can hardly contemplate at the present. Training your dog may be computer guided, with  accuracy of behavioural response is assessed by microprocessors and  the critical timing of reward computer controlled . We may yet see another meaning to the phrase “Byte Control” !

Mancini, Clara; Lawson, Shaun and Juhlin, Oskar (2017). Animal-Computer Interaction: the emergence of a discipline. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 98 pp. 129–134.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: A Qualitative Study of the Potential for Dog-Owner Technology Lynne Hall Sharon McDonald Shell Young  University of Sunderland

Lee, P., Cheok, D., James, S., Debra, L., Jie, W., Chuang, W., & Farbiz, F. (2006). A mobile pet wearable computer and mixed reality system for human–poultry interaction through the internet. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 10(5), 301-317.

Jackson, M. M., Zeagler, C., Valentin, G., Martin, A., Martin, V., Delawalla, A., Blount, W., Eiring, S., Hollis, R., & Starner, T. (2013). FIDO-facilitating interactions for dogs with occupations: wearable dog-activated interfaces.

Alabama ROT

Alabama rot found in dog walked in Massey's wood last year in 2017.It appears that people are again concerned about this disease. This disease ‘idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV)’ aka Alabama rot damages the blood vessels in the skin and the kidneys and is 90% fatal in most cases. Signs are ulcerated sores on feet or limbs . lethargy, loss of appetite. Found in dogs walked in muddy forest areas. Best advice is to wash feet and legs of dogs after walks As the cause of Alabama Rot is still unknown, there is no known way to prevent your dog from contracting the disease, although there have been cases of closely associated dogs becoming affected. . see also for more information


St Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching. Shamrocks, rainbows, beer, leprechauns, green rivers, and everything lucky — this holiday has it all. Named after Saint Patrick, the most recognised patron saint (and snake remover) of Ireland, However for pets, St. Patrick’s Day can sometimes  become unlucky and even dangerous for a number of reasons. Here are some guidelines for keeping your pet safe:
A little green beer on this holiday? Dogs should absolutely never be allowed access to beer or alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is toxic to pets and can make them extremely sick or even worse. If your dog insists on joining in the festivities, you can buy or make your own doggie beverage. Or, if you want a 6-pack beer-bottle feeling, buy a doggie-beer such as Dog Beer or Bowser Beer. These non-alcoholic, non-carbonated treats can be a fun novelty for the human family, and won’t harm the family dog. In general it’s best to always be on the lookout for natural, organic and chemical-free ways to keep your pet healthy and happy. 
Wear green or be pinched! We do not recommend dyeing even the most Irish of Wolfhounds green, but if your leprechaun insists, make sure to use non-toxic, all-natural, non-permanent vegetable dye. Be certain the coloring won’t affect sensitive skin and is safe if your dog licks the fur after it’s dyed. Use a baby shampoo or formulated dog shampoo to wash that green right out of their hair. 
At this time of year, there seems to be no shortage of St. Patrick’s Day costumes to adorn your pooch.After  dressing your pet for the occasion, take a cute photo as soon as the outfit is on. Then if the costume becomes uncomfortable, you can undress your little shamrock and show the photo instead. Animals can become overheated when wearing clothing/costumes. Signs of overheating include panting, acting lethargic or looking anxious. Overheating occurs more rapidly if the pet is in the sun, on a hot day, or in a warm room. Offering plenty of fresh water, and a cool place in the shade can help, but if your pets seem hot or uncomfortable, let them get naked. 
Special Events
Parades and parties will be happening all around town. They can be overwhelming and even hazardous to your pet. When taking your pet to parties, communicate with the host or hostess to determine (a) if your pet is welcome and (b) if there will be a “no disturb” area or room for your pet if she becomes agitated. Make sure other guests aren’t tempted to offer unhealthy treats, foods or drink to your dog.Keep a sharp eye out for dangerous fatty foods like sausages

 Remember that other houses may not be dog-proofed. Table surfing or bin  picking in a bathroom or kitchen may be dangerously appealing to a dog. Pets at holiday parades should be leashed and properly restrained at all times for a parade of reasons.

Are all dogs the same ? Behavioural differences between pedigree and mongrel dogs

There is a wide held belief that Cross breeds are “healthier” than their pedigree counterparts. Peoplethink that such crossbreeds / mongrelshave inherited the best of whatever breeds are in the mix ( so called hybrid vigour). However, data suggests that mixed-breed dogs can inherit many of the problems associated with each of the breeds that goes into their makeup and that mixed-breed dogs are no more or less likely to have health issues than their purebred counterparts. However, what about behavioural differences?

In most countries mixed-breed dogs actually outnumber purebred dogs. For example, a national census showed that 53% of the dogs in the US are mixed breedwhilst here in Ireland the number of IKCregistered pedigree dogs isapproximately 250,000 out of almost 700,000 dogs ( some of which may be non- registered pure bred breeds). Is the behaviourbetween these classes of dogs different? Obviously there are the breed differences which through selective breeding have strengthenedparticular traits producing for example sight hounds, herdingor gun dogs , but what of behaviours such as excitability, trainability , aggression etc 

One of the PETA websites claims, "Mixed-breed dogs are wonderful compared to purebred dogs who have a greater tendency to be nervous, neurotic and excitable." However no supporting evidence for this statement is provided. Now a recent study from Hungaryhas looked at the issueand has provided some interesting conclusions on the behavioural differences between pedigree and cross breed dogs. (1)

Data was collected from owners of over 14,000 dogs (7700 pedigree dogscomprising200 breedsand 7691 cross breeds) by surveyvia a magazine and website using the C-barqquestionnaire. Analysis of the data showed the following differences between the two groups :

  • The mixed-breed dogs were significantly less calm than the purebred dogs. Calmness is demonstrated by a dog who is cool-headed and emotionally balanced versus one who is anxious, or appears to be stressed.
  • The mixed breed dogs were also considerably less sociable toward other dogs. Sociability is shown in dogs which are judged to be friendly and willing to share toys as opposed to dogs which are apt to be quarrelsome and are rated as being bullying.
  • The mixed breed dogs were also more likely to show behaviour problems. These include dogs that frequently pull on the leash, jump up on people, don't respond when called, show dominance behaviours etc 
  • However, mixed-breeds’ owners walked their dogs for longer than the owners of purebreds.
  • However, pedigree and mixed-breed dogs showed little or no differences in terms of their trainability. 

There was no difference between the groups in how much time the owners spend with their dog in general, or with playing, for what purpose the owners keep the dog, whether they buy gifts for the dog and whether the dog is allowed onto the bed.

Genetic Factors

So why should there be such a difference ? Is it genetic or are there other influences such as environment, husbandryand owner type which impact ? An obvious difference is that mixed-breed dogs are for the most part the result of random breeding rather than planned matings. Purebred dogs are usually subject to careful selective breeding. Even if breeders are most concerned about the appearance of their dogs, they also tend to pay attention to temperament. 

It is less likely that an ill-tempered and excitable dog with behaviour problems will be bred. This is because, in part, that breeders know that this will not be good for the breed in general, for a show career and the possibility that a badly behaved dog will be returned to them by the purchaser. Therefore differences between mixed-breed dogs and purebreds could be, at least partially, attributed to genetic factors.

Owner influence

However the research team also found that there were a number of environmental factors having to do with the demographics of the dog owners and the way the dogs were reared which might have an effect. For example, the study found that mixed-breed dogs were more likely to be owned by women, and these women tended to be younger, with a lower level of education, and had less previous experience with dogs than the owners of purebred dogs.

Dogs with more training experiences displayed fewer behavioural problems (according to the owner). More educated and more experienced owners also reported that their dogs had fewer behaviour problems. Finally, owners who had longer walks with their dogs reported fewer behaviour problems, but that might be due to the fact that a well behaved dog is likely to have longer walks a result of its behaviour.

 Another factor was that mixed breed dogs tended to receive less formal training than purebred dogs. This is important because the amount of training affected how well the dog scored in terms of calmness and sociability and also dogs that have received training were reported to have fewer behavioural problems.

Mixed-breed dogs were also more likely to be the only dog in a household, and tended to be kept indoors most of the time. These dogs also tended to be brought into the household at an older age than were purebred dogs. This fact is important since the researchers found that dogs brought into the home at an age of less than 12 weeks were calmer overall.

Neutered status

A further interesting factor was that mixed-breed were more likely to be neutered. These investigators found that dogs which had been spayed or neutered will had lower scores in terms of their calmness and were more likely to show behaviour problems. This is consistent with other research which shows that neutered dogs are more likely to be aggressive, fearful and excitable


Thus this research team concludes that there are real differences between mixed-breed and purebred dogs in terms of their personality and behaviour. They also suggest that these differences are not only genetic but also may reflect the environment in which the dog is reared, the training that the dog receives, and the characteristics of the dog's owners.

(1) Owner perceived differences between mixed-breed and purebred dogs

Borbála Turcsán , Ádám Miklósi, Enikő Kubinyi

Spring watch : Dogs and Gardens



A Safe Garden for Your Dog


As an update to a previous blog on dogs and gardens. A list of plants that are poisonous to dogs can be found there:

Water and Shade 


It’s essential to provide water and shady areas for your hairy companion so he doesn’t overheat on hot days, and a dry spot if he’s likely to be out in damper weather. Make sure any sharp edges or other pointy things are covered over or kept out of reach, as inevitably an inquiring nose will find them with potentially disastrous results.


Secure boundary

It goes without saying that a secure boundary is an essential part of a dog-friendly garden. Its height will depend entirely on your dog’s jumping ability and his Houdini tendencies. A bored dog is more likely to escape in search of entertainment, so make the garden an irresistibly fun place to be by providing free access to toys, chews, and don’t leave him alone for extended periods. Some peopleoffer uncooked bones and chew but you mustpick them up each evening so they do not attract rats and mice which can carry diseases which can prove fatal to dogs 

Sometimes we forget the simplest things! Put your pets inside when mowing or strimming the lawn. A lawn mower can make a projectile out of a stick or rock that can injure your pet. Strimming wire can hurl objects many meters with disastrous results to your pet.


Paint your garden tools a bright colour such as red or yellow so you can see them out in the yard. Many pets step or trip on sharp garden implements. Store your chemicals out of reach and in their original containers. Don't assume your pet will not be interested in consuming these products. If there is a toxic exposure or consumption, call your veterinarian immediately with the information from the product label. Keep your pets inside when applying any chemicals to the lawn or garden. With a little planning you and your pet can enjoy a safe and beautiful garden.


Cocoa Shell Mulch: A Little-Known Danger


Most people don’t realise it, but those increasingly popular cocoa shell mulches used for landscaping can also pose a serious risk to dogs in the same way that chocolate does. Theobromine, the “poison” in Chocolate can be removed from cocoa mulch pretty easily, and some manufacturers do this and others do not but at the moment there is no way for the consumer toknow if the mulch they are buying has been treated.


Ask your Garden centre or supplier to ensure you won’t inadvertently poison your dog.




Puppy Farming . :Revised Draft of Dog breeding Establishment guidelines.Your views required

The public review on the revised draft of dog breeding establishments guidelines is open for all comments  until 28th February. The Guidelines cover the running, inspection and licencing of commercial dog breeding premises including the health and welfare of the dogs contained. 

Given Ireland's poor reputation as one of the PuppyFarming capitals of Europe this is your chance to increase the welfare of the dogs in these  breeding centres. Ireland has 77 registered Dog breeding establishments with a trade worth millions of Euro.

A very good article on welfare and puppy farming can be found here

A copy of the revised guidelines can be obtained from:-

Keeping the Wolf from the door...and the mammoth !

Recent work carried out by scientists into the DNA genome of the dog has led to a revision of the theories of canine domestication. This in turn should be of benefit to our treatment of our present day dogs.

It was once believed (and sadly still is by some “experts” in dog training) that the dog was a domesticated wolf   which was  domesticated  as a deliberate action by mankind as they settled into an agrarian lifestyle and stopped being hunter gatherers. As wolves  approached human settlements  to scavenge they were tamed and the dog developed from the Grey Wolf through a series of separate domestication events  throughout the world, some 10,000 years ago.

Now however, A new genetic analysis of modern dogs and wolves suggests that man's best friend was domesticated before agriculture somewhere between 11,000 and 34,000 years ago which is supported by archaeological evidence.

But the origin of this domestication remains stubbornly mysterious. Researchers analyzed the genomes of wolves from three likely sites of domestication (the Middle East, Asia and eastern Europe), and found that modern dogs were not more closely related to any of the three. In fact, it seems that the closest wolf ancestors of today's dogs may have gone extinct, leaving no wild descendants. This suggests that modern dogs and grey wolves represent sister branches on an evolutionary tree descending from an older, common ancestor. The results contrast with previous theories that speculated dogs evolved from one of the sampled populations of grey wolves.

A new analysis of European archaeological sites containing large numbers of dead mammoths and dwellings built with mammoth bones has led to a new interpretation of how these sites were formed. It is suggested that their abrupt appearance may have been due to early modern humans working with the earliest domestic dogs to kill the mammoth. Alongside the mammoths are wolf and fox remains , which further support the hypothesis that  Man and dog worked in combination to defend the mammoth prize from these other canids.

So if we know the ancestry , how will this help “Rover”, asleep in front of the fire  ? Well  it means that the myth of the Alpha male and female can finally  be put to bed. Dogs are not wolves  and therefore pack leader ideas should be erased from the “training manual”. Indeed this  idea of a pack hierarchy came from the study of captive , unrelated wolves  rather than the wild pack of wolves which display no such behaviours and instead act as a cooperative related pack sharing hunting and offspring nurturing duties.

Wooly mammoth.jpg

From a dietary perspective the fact that wolves are unrelated to dogs blows a huge hole in the popular dietary fad of Biologically Appropriate  Raw Food  (BARF) as being more “natural” and “better” than dog food. The same research indicates that the first dogs were domesticated whilst people were hunter gatherers. However, when humans settled and became farmers  there was a change in the physiology of the dog in which those dogs with a higher ratio of amylase were able  to better exploit a starch-rich diet as they fed on refuse from agriculture. Thus dogs could benefit from agriculture more than wolves, whose habitat and fauna were under pressure from the spread of agrarian cultures.

Dogs and Gardens

Dogs and Gardens

Now that Spring has finally arrived and the winter snows have thawed revealing the work that needs to be done in the garden, don’t forget that your garden is also shared by your dog who will always be on hand to lend a helping paw to dig up the lawn or to pull out the newly planted  bulbs that would look much better somewhere other than the place you decided.

Can you and your green fingers live successfully with canine gardener ?

Read More

Christmas Hazards and your dog's safety

Hazard Awareness and Prevention

Age, temperament, and your dog’s energy level all play a role in how much mischief s/he might get up to during the Christmas period. Even the most well behaved canine can succumb to the temptation of a Christmas tree and its trimmings. Short of constant supervision and who can do that during the Festive season, your next best defence to ensure their safety is to take precautions that minimize or eliminate the risks. :

The Christmas tree

·                                 Needles: Don’t let the dog  chew or swallow fallen Christmas tree needles. They are not digestible and can be mildly toxic depending upon your dog’s size and how much is ingested. The fir tree oils can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach and cause the dog  to vomit or drool excessively. Tree needles also can obstruct or puncture the gastrointestinal tract.

·                                 Water: Tree water can poison your dog. Preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers and other agents, such as aspirin, are commonly added to tree water to keep the tree fresh. Treated water can be harmful to a thirsty dog -so use a covered tree water dish to be safe.

·                                 Lights: Don’t string the bottom of your tree with lights; some types can get very hot and burn your dog. Firmly tape electrical leads to the wall or floor and check them regularly for chew marks or punctures. Dogs who gnaw on electrical cables and lights can receive electric shocks and mouth burns. Chewing on wire also can cause pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) which can be fatal

·                                 Ornaments: Avoid decorating your tree with edible or glass holiday ornaments. Your dog may knock over the tree trying to get to one, or injure itself trying to play with a broken one. Swallowing an ornament also can cause a gastrointestinal blockage. Some ornaments may be lethal depending upon the materials or chemicals used to create them.

·                                 Hooks: Use ribbon, yarn or lightweight twine to hang your ornaments – not traditional wire hooks – which can snag an ear or swishing tail. If swallowed, they can lodge in your dog’s throat or intestines.

·                                 Tinsel: Don’t trim your tree with tinsel. If swallowed, it can block the intestines causing decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and weight loss. Surgery is often necessary to remove the tinsel.

·                                 Gifts: Keep the area around your tree free of discarded string, ribbon and small toys or toy pieces. These can be swallowed and cause a bowel obstruction.

·                                 Artificial trees: Be extra vigilant if you use an artificial tree, especially as it becomes more brittle with age. Small pieces of plastic or aluminium can break off and cause an intestinal blockage or mouth irritation if ingested by your dog.


Prevention is Key

If possible, put your Christmas tree in a room that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Another option is to install a baby gate in the doorway to prevent entry to the tree room .When you are not at home or unable to supervise her, confine your dog to its crate or a separate room to keep it safe and out of mischief.

I would recommend confining your pets away from the tree when you are not home. This will allow you to be able to "supervise" any tree or plant eating activity.


Other plants and dangers

Mistletoe and Hollly are also poisonous.

Lilies are highly toxic to cats and the Daffodil bulbs which you might get as a present are also highly toxic to both cats and dogs.

The sap of Poinsettias is considered to be mildly toxic / Irritating, and will probably cause nausea or vomiting, but not death. It is better to err on the side of caution, though, and keep pets away from this plant.



If your pet has chewed on the Christmas tree or other plants, monitor for any changes of behaviour (excessive licking, salivating), appetite, activity, water consumption, vomiting and diarrhoea. If you notice that your pet is reluctant to eat, drooling or showing signs of a painful mouth (i.e. not wanting to play with regular toys) be sure to rule out electrical burns in addition to dental and other diseases.



 The stray drink put down by a guest can be very harmful to dogs .Depending on the size of your dog even small amounts of alcohol including beer can be fatal. Signs of alcohol poisoning include  an alcohol smell on the breath, neurological depression, hypothermia (low body temperature), hypotension (low blood pressure), seizures and respiratory failure. Therefore , keep a watchful eye on those drinks on the floor to keep Buddy from the Bud !

Fatty Foods

Fatty foods can be dangerous to dogs, causing pancreatitis which can be life threatening and expensive to treat, so keep the leftovers to a minimum as treats and remind guests and family not to be giving those cocktail sausages to the dog . Again keep a watchful eye on stray plates on floors or low tables  from which your dog may snack .




Make note of when your vet is open and closed over the holiday period and what emergency cover is available  should the need arise. With sensible precautions you won’t need to be using the vet and can safely enjoy the Festive season.



Scent and Sensibility

Scent and Sensibility

Disaster dogs

In the recent days we have become accustomed to the role of dogs used in scenes of disasters, searching for survivors in the ruins of buildings following earthquakes, typhoons, floods or building collapses. Flown into disaster areas these dogs help locate the trapped and buried using their keen sense of smell and discriminatory training  to save lives. Cadaver dogs are then used to find the bodies of those unfortunates who do not survive .

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Bangs whizzes and things that go bump in the night...

Halloween will soon be upon us when the ghosts and ghouls are abroad. Trick-or-treating, partying, bonfires and fireworks all make for the festive celebration. However, spare a thought for our four-legged friends, many of whom do not relish the prospect of sudden noises.Many dogs are upset by the noise and flashes of fireworks. Loud, sudden  bangs can cause fearful reactions such as cowering, trembling, flight from  area, loss of toileting habits, destructive behaviour and excessive barking.

Dogs and Fireworks:      Behavioural first aid

  • Dogs       should be kept indoors and, where possible, in a room without windows or       with curtains drawn.
  • A radio,       music  or TV will help overshadow the occasional noise outside,       especially if the music has a steady, rhythmic beat.
  • Anxiety in       the animal can be reduced by altering feeding regimes. Feeding later in       the evening will encourage the animal to eat during what are       anxiety-creating periods.
  • Licking       objects such as Kongs filled with peanut butter will help reduce stress.
  • Increasing       the level of carbohydrate in the animal’s food and adding Vitamin B6 will       also help; This should be done a week or more before Halloween
  • Make earplugs out of  moistened cotton wool. Squeeze out excess water and roll into a long thin  cylinder and twist into dog’s ears so as to pack the ear canal. Care must be taken that the cylinder isn’t too thin and goes too deeply or so  fat that it cannot be secured.The plug should be  secure and firm but not so tight as to irritate the dog.
  • Certain       drugs can be useful but must be given early so they take effect before any       noise occurs. Your vet should be able to advise.
  • The use of       Dog Appeasing Pheromones (Adaptil) has been shown to be very effective in firework       phobias.
  • Consider putting your dog into Wenden Kennels. All the indoor sleeping areas are soundproofed with rockwool sound insulation and being boarded by a golf course we are one of the quieter areas at this time of year.

Contact us if you require more details 

Future Work 

If  your dog has severe reactions to fireworks or other noises then a  programme of desensitisation and counter-conditioning is required, once the firework season is over. CDs of firework noises are available for use in such programmes so that you can carry out the work at home.

Often pheromone and /or drug therapy is required as an adjunct to  the behaviour modification.

Contact us and Jim will be happy to discuss the appropriate  regime with you.