A taste for not just food.

We all love the film Marley and Me. It’s pulls at our heart strings and although sad we appreciate that he had an amazing enjoyable life.

For those that have never seen the film (after reading this you certainly should!) it’s about a dog named Marley. Marley is a Labrador who, as a puppy, was sooo cute. This cuteness soon dissipated and Marley became an adorable nightmare. Getting up to  the sort of stuff that we can laugh about because it’s not happening to our house. He soon develops a taste for almost everything, from the rubbish bins to the sofa. 

Now, when I say it’s funny because it is not happening to you, that for me has now changed. My beloved rescue dog Max has decided to follow in Marleys footsteps. I should never have let him watch it! Saying that, he hasn’t developed a taste for my furniture as of yet. 

He has had a good go at some of the plasterboard walls, the wooden floor in the kitchen (which now has a fashionable hole), black bin bags that has just been filled with old filler powder and cardboard. That created an eventful mess and powdered footprints all over the sofa, the lounge and up the stairs.


Now back to the film. Despite all the damage that Marley caused, and the close shaves, the family support and persevered with Marley. It also showed; Marley was one of the happiest dogs you would have ever seen. Family was everything to Marley. And it is the morale of the story really. My 8 year old boy watched the film with me and got really upset at the sad scene towards the backend of the film. And let’s face it we all did. All have shed a tear for Marley, whether internal or external.

I said to my boy that despite the fact that Marley had just passed away and it is sad, that he has to look past that and see the life that he had. It’s a celebration of Marleys life, that ultimately culminated in his passing. He was loved, cared for and became an integral part of their family. As all dogs around the world crave.

No matter what Max does, I never appreciate him less. He pushes my patience at times, but this is part of the joyous experience.

With all the blog posts I have sent out into the world so far, it is evident that I champion the correct behaviour in dog ownership. That these posts are designed to help you appreciate what it means to be a dog owner. 

The responsibilities. The joys. The ups and the downs. Ultimately providing your pooch with a fulfilled life.

Let’s be honest, they don’t want an awful lot. Food. Love. Toys.

Feedback is always welcomed, as I’m still getting to grips with blog writing and the correct way to word things 🙂 bark on world!!

The not so guilty look

All dog owners can share that one moment, the time you walk through the door and your pooch has got hold of something he shouldn’t have. A good pair of shoes. Rolls of toilet paper. Or an unfortunate mistake.

As a result of this we have all seen the look that we took as ‘yes I’m guilty, but so sorry’. Head down, eyes up. Yeah you know it as well.

Well, after all this time, it turns out that we have been interpreting these signs all wrong. It is not a sign of guilt, or being sorry. According to Alexandra Horowitz, this is actually a sign of fear or being scared. It’s more of a reaction to your body language than them being guilty of their actions.

The theory by Horowitz states that it is very unlikely that dogs can actually show or more importantly understand the complex emotion of guilt. My interpretation of that would be that a dog does not necessarily understand the difference between what’s good and bad in our world. Their training by humans is based on reptition and reward. This is not incorporating emotions such as guilt.

They can show emotions such a happiness, because that is a natural instinct with all species, and not something they have to be trained.

You can find the Link to Alexandra Horowitz’s work here https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Dog-What-Dogs-Smell-ebook/dp/B002NT3B52/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1487263265&sr=8-3&keywords=alexandra+horowitz .

This has certainly changed how I react to the stuff Max does. I no longer punish him for things done retrospectively. He does not understand what I’m trying to ‘tell him off for’ nor does he understand that what he’s done is wrong. I maintain a calm posture and no anger/disappointment in my voice. He doesn’t need it and will only stress him out with no positive outcomes.

This doesn’t mean he never gets corrective training for things I do not want him to do. For example if I was to be in his presence when he went for a pee in the house, I would incorporate positive training to encourage him to go outside to conduct his business.

Positive training is the only way to get results.

It’s understandable though, and we have all misinterpreted this ‘guilty look’. We would have also continued to do so without Horowitz’s report. When you look at what has been said in the report it does strike a chord and make you think ‘now I get it’. 

The reason we misinterpret this as a guilty look is probably because we associate it to a human emotion and expression. The only way for us ‘normal’ unscientific dog owners to decipher what our dog is thinking is by having a reference point. The only thing we have to reference emotions with is ourselves. What we assume we’d look like if we was a guilty dog. A happy dog. A sad dog. It’s quite normal for us to get this wrong, because it’s not a simple thing to figure out.

What we do know from this though is that our dog is a lot more complex than we give them credit for. They can’t show guilt about what we consider negative actions, but I still believe that in a natural setting they would understand guilt in the presence of their mother, or hurting a sibling. 

It can be flipped on its head. Put yourself in your dogs shoes. You have what we consider a guilty look on your face. Do you think you would be able to decode that as guilt? Or just prick your ears up and turn your head to the side?

It has for one opened our eyes, and hopefully more people will be mindful of how their dog is actually reacting to a situation. Thus improving relationships and a happy balanced pooch.

Let us know your thoughts. Do you believe that dogs can show guilt?

Thank you for reading and bark on people.

Ready for commitment

Let’s start with a quick recap so far. You have read about the inevitable costs of dog ownership, the crazy world of dogs and the joys that they can bring to your life.

After all that you have decided you are ready for the commitment, but wait; what breed do you go for?

This is where your research really needs to come into play. There are certain breeds that can suit certain lifestyles/family structures. You really need to consider the following main attributes from the new addition to your family.

Temperament

We are all well aware that different dogs have different temperaments. This can be generalised by breed, however, not forgetting that each dog is individual. For example if you have a young family you will want a breed that is calm, tolerable and affectionate. The temperament is the basis of a dogs personality.

Size

Size is often something people forget about when looking at breeds. A lot of people see a dog, fall in love with it and go for it. Finally getting him/her home only for 18 months down the line they realise they have brought home a malamute which can grow to the size of a small child. This makes your home that little bit smaller.

Fitness levels

Each breed will have its natural state of fitness or energy levels. For example a husky (of any creed) will have a very very high energy level. Requiring many many miles of walking daily, remembering their natural instinct is to pull as a pack. I had a friend with two huskys that had to build a sled with wheels to take them for walks, just to wear them out and heed to their instincts.

Have a steady head when deciding on the level of natural fitness you are looking for in a dog, and be realistic with yourself. This, however, does not mean you are going to find a lazy dog that requires no walking, all dogs require a good daily walk.

So what’s next once you have created the attributes you are looking for? Well it’s to nail down which breed matches such attributes. Thus starting your many visits to breeders or rehoming centres. 

Picking your pooch

You can’t just visit a breeder/rehoming centre just once. Even if you meet a dog you fall in love with. It is important to introduce the family to the dog, especially kids if you have them. This is to make sure that your potential new family member gets on with all members of your current family; it will save awkward situations in the future.

After the initial introductions you want to visit a couple of times after that. You could have caught him/her on a good day. Take them for a walk. Play with them and judge how they are responding to you. This is up there with being one of the most important times of your puppy selection. Get this wrong and it could cause some serious problems later down the line.

Rehoming or puppy

I personally support rehoming a dog and giving them a chance of living in a happy home after potentially not having the best of times in the past. Giving them a brighter future. It is however, personal preference. The advantage for some by getting a puppy is they get to impart some of their personality onto their dog. Also early training and training how they want. Don’t forget though the concept that you ‘can’t teach old dogs new tricks’ is false. Dogs learn from repetition and reward, this does not switch off when they get over a year old.

If rehoming I would highly recommend that you a/ rehome from a reputable charity and b/ make many visits during your selection phase. There are benefits and rewards in either approach.

It’s home time

I mentioned previously that selection and spending time with your potential new addition was up there with being one of the most important aspects of dog selection. Well this stage is the most important between you and your puppies relationship.

Whether you have decided to get a puppy or rehoming an older dog, this can be a very traumatic time for them. In essence they have just been dragged from their current home/situation and brought to your strange unusual house. They do not know where they are. They do not know who is going to feed them. It’s a brand new world.

Take it slow. Let them take the time they need to settle in. Step 1 let them explore the areas of the house you are going to let them roam in. Some people limit this to the first floor, which is fine; there’s no harm in boundaries. Step 2 give them somewhere comfortable to lay their head and what will become their bed space. Do not overwhelm them, especially a rehomed pooch. Over the first couple of days get a family member at a time to re-introduce (they would have already met all of you during the selection phase, of course) themselves and have a stroke and a little play. This can then slowly increase to more and more.

As you can imagine if they are overwhelmed or rushed in their first couple of days they could recluse and try hide away, which has the potential to be a permanent aspect of their personality. Not too much in puppies but definitely more so in older dogs; you never know what they have been through.

This is also a good time to set out feeding times. Dogs like a little bit of a routine. And obviously feeding time is an important part of a dogs life. Personal recommendation is taking your dogs daily recommended intake of food (brand dependant) half it and feed your pooch twice a day rather than once. This will increase in puppies.

All settled

After a week or so they will have settled in nicely and you will really start to see your new best friends personality really come through. They’ll be bouncing around the house, sleeping in the same room and protecting the family before you know it.

Once again thank you for reading. If you have any further questions about this then please do not hesitate to comment and ask away. 

Also I do not claim to be an animal behaviour specialist, I’m going by personal experience and all the research I did before I ended up with Max. One of the main purposes of this post is to try and eradicate the stigma surrounding the rehoming of an older dog. It’s all based on negative reports where there are many other positive reports that people do not hear about.

Next up we will take a look at dog breeds and examples of what breed is good for families etc. 

Thank you for reading and Bark on.

The summer is here, and Max is about!

So this will be the first summer I have spent with Max. In case you have missed previous posts (and you should go check them out by the way) Max is my 10/11 month old Staffie x Lab. Who is a crazy ball of energy, and never stops; even in his sleep he’s still going.

So those of you that have been fortunate, here in the UK we have seen a slight hike in temperatures, a mini heatwave you could say. This has brought out some quality time in the garden with the pooch and my 8 year old, Rhys. I’d like to say relaxing but it was far from it, time to get the garden ‘summer ready’.

Back tracking slightly to the first points I noticed about Max. This is that he does not really pay much attention to things that walk on the ground, but is blown away by things that can fly. From birds to flies. Which poses its own challenges for the dog (any dog), no more so than the fact he is never going to catch any of these flying objects. He doesn’t necessarily possess the ability to be stealthy. There’s no sneaking up on a bird. It’s bounding out of the house as fast as he can, paw spinning on the wooden floor scaring the bird off before he even leaves the threshold.

Bless him, it’s certainly not from lack of trying. 

Second point, he’s never really shown me a desire to dig in the garden, until this week. This could be down to the fact that the garden prior to this week was all shingle, not a great medium to dig in. That has now been lifted and I am left with mud/sandy garden. Which has brought out a who new animal in Max. 

Hes bounding around the garden digging in many different spots, doesn’t stay for long at one hole before moving to the next. He did this solid for about 2 hours, there really was no stopping him. His digging style is what had me and Rhys in stitches, switching between alternate paw digging (the usual dog digging style) to double paw I’m so excited I can not control myself digging. And there’s the sniffing, before he starts digging he is burying his nose and just sniffing the ground, getting right in there, it’s so funny.

I may find all this adorable and comical at the moment, I’m sure that will change when my turf goes down and these antics carry on. There maybe a new fence being errected around said grass so I can monitor his time on the new lawn.

What it has helped me remember is how much joy a dog can bring to your life. Without even trying they can bring more natural humour than any human. From the times he leaps in the air and misses his feet when he lands, to just running up and down the stairs like he is possessed. It’s all moments that I got a dog for, that my boy absolutely loves.

That was our Friday moments.

That was also without mentioning the fact that Max also pee’d up my dads leg. He suffers from uncontrollable excited peeing. When he gets that excited that he can not control his bladder, and it just spurts out. Not full streams, just constant little spurts. This is quite hard to manage at times as I have to make sure he’s going out at least every half hour to make sure his bladder is empty during the day when we are all playing with him. Not so much in the evening because he is normally catching up on sleep and no over excitement experienced.

Once again I digress, let’s go back to when dad visited us earlier today. It was about midway between garden visits, we had not long had lunch so was in the house. He comes in and Max bounds to the door. Before I can utter the words ‘go straight into the garden and say hi’ he’s already up seeking attention and letting loose down his leg. Dad blissfully unaware, it was one of those ‘awks’ situations.

This is not the first time he has done this as you can imagine. There’s the time he done it up my grandads leg.  My sisters boyfriend. My brother. My good friend Lee. Rhys. Me. The list goes on. Fortunately it has yet to be a stranger, I’m guessing those situations are a little bit more awkward than those that are close to you.

Never a dull life in the world of Max.

Once again a completely different aspect of read compared to my previous posts, this was a little catch-up on my end of week roundup. A little bit about what we have been up to as a family. And the wonderful world of Max. More pictures will soon follow.

For now, thank you for reading. We hope you have had a wonderful week and have a spiffing weekend.

Keep on barking ya’ll.

*images are subject to copyright from their original owners.

A dog is for life.. not just for Christmas

The title of today’s post is something we have heard a lot. Through charity campaigns and being a general saying. It is amazing however, that you still find so many dogs in care waiting for their forever home because families and individuals have forgotten that simple fact.

I was saddened and disappointed at how many dogs/family members that I saw in homes when I was looking for Max. Obviously I wasn’t looking specifically for Max but when I was looking to adopt unfortunately the options were endless. Hundreds of dogs given up by their owners for a multitude of reasons.

One reason I can understand is a sudden change in someone’s circumstances. By this I mean a huge change in someone’s circumstance, a serious life changing injury, crippling old age and worst of all (but fact) a death of an owner. All hard things to deal with and the dog becomes the unfortunate sacrifice. In all these circumstances though, the owner hopes and prays that they can get to a home that gives them what they need.

What riles me is the poor pooches that have been put up for adoption because their owners family has got ‘too big’ or the children have allergies, or worst excuse of all because they can’t afford their dog. Now as mentioned in the previous posts, researching and understanding your dogs needs, especially financially is the first major step you make before giving a dog false hopes. If you fell you cannot afford a dog then do not get one, do not let your desire get the better of you because it will not end well.

Ahchoo

As for children and allergies, make sure your family has spent time around dogs to ensure that your new addition is not dragged from their home and into kennels because they cough and sneeze. The allergies exist that of course is fact, but it should not become a reason your pooch is going up for adoption.

But my family is too big

Now, the families getting ‘too big’ issue. This should never be an issue. Would you get rid of child one because by the time you have child four the family has got too big, nope of course you wouldn’t. So why should your dog be pushed out for that exact reason, it’s not a viable reason and should not result in adoption.

Once again you can get the overwhelming sense that I have strong views on this. On the notion that despite the vast bank of information and reviews that the internet holds that people are not fully clued up about the responsibilities of a dog owner. 

Fashion

I have even heard of people ‘changing’ their dogs because of fashion changes. Their dog breed is not longer fashionable and they want another breed, or a micro pig. This should never happen, and should go down as animal cruelty. They are not a purse. They are not a handbag. They do have feelings, personalities and character. And they should be treated as such.

Stats… hard hitting stats

The dogs trust charity counts 110,000 dogs looking for homes in the U.K. Over 100 thousand, yes that’s thousand, dogs are looking for a loving home. That’s 110 thousand dogs that have either been abandoned, removed from someone’s care through neglect and just given up for adoption. This is resulting in roughly 21 dogs being put to sleep every single day. That’s 21 dogs a day that were brought into this world hoping for a happy loving life, that’s 21 dogs that got their life taken away from them because if people, a person, a poor excuse. 

One of my posts in the coming weeks will be discussing animal cruelty and mistreatment. It’s a hard subject for an dog lover and any morally sound person. The reason I want to mention it is to encourage those who witness any kind of mistreatment to come forward and report it so we can stop it happening. However, for now, that will wait until the next post.

Bit of a rant post today because it is something that gets under my skin. I see dogs with their loving owners, tails wagging, some times a pain in the bum and can’t help but think why could anyone do something that will take that away. It’s people forgetting that these creatures are more than fur, more than tongue and slobber. They are real leaving things with more feelings than we have. Simple understanding of the world, with an uncanny desire to be happy. Please remember this next time you consider ‘rehoming’ your loyal friend.

And to all those that fall into the loving families, on behalf of all happy dogs around the world, thank you. You are what all dogs when born are after, on how they all want to live their lives. Keep being that great home. Keep those tails wagging and keep sweeping up that dog hair. For you are dog lovers, and that is so much better than being a cat lover 😂

Thank you all for reading. Please do leave me a comment and let me know what you think. I know each one of my posts is something slightly different and reads different, hence why I am keen to know your opinions.

Bark on people.
*image rights to their prospective owners. Quotesgram.com

**we love all animals, and jibes towards cat owners is heartfelt 😋

Fridays antics.. video included 

As promised in yesterday’s post here is the video of last fridays antics. This was my ‘Greeting’ home.

Little bit of a background to this situation. The kitchen where Max stays on the days he does not come to work with me consists of two doors. One near the front door and one near the back.

What’s happened here is I’ve left the door near the back ajar. Meaning that whilst I was out working he was having a field day in the house. This video shows a good day; oh yes dear readers, this has happened before. Last time, however, he managed to go through not one, not two but three pairs of trainers and one pair of shoes. Now that was a rather devestating feeling as I walked through the door.

To be fair though, both these situations were my fault and Max just happened to reap the rewards. I hope you enjoy this video from last Friday, I have no doubt there will be many more down this road of dog commitment.

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Bark on.

The beautiful side to commitment

So in the last edition I put the fear of god into you, and told you briefly how expensive your new addition to the family was going to be. Now, although extremely important to remember the financial impacts, there are so many more positive points that you are going to get from this commitment.

Nothing compares to the love of your dog. It is totally unconditional. To a certain extent; we all know they momentarily love you that little bit more when you have a tasty treat in your hand. These fascinating creatures are so much more than just a pet.

Sixth sense

Let’s touch on the sixth sense, intuition. Dogs have a way to sense things us mere humans can not. It has been known that dogs can’t sense a storm, feel badness in a person, be fearful of depression and understand an owners need. I see this in Max all the time. On days that I feel a little bit low and out of the ordinary Max is a completely different dog. He snuggles more and he constantly wants cuddles; he knows something’s not quite right. 

Don’t get me wrong, they do not necessarily know what’s wrong, they just know something is. They will then try and comfort you. 

They have even been known to know when someone is pregnant or when they are about to give birth. This is brilliantly recorded in Marley and Me. 

The Greeting

Next is my favourite by far, and one of the reasons I got Max; the greeting. That moment you walk through the door from a rubbish day at work and to greet you is this bouncing, over the moon for joy and ecstatic little bundle. Worries of the day just fizzle out, your attention is back in the room, back in the building, you are home! Your family is waiting. It’s time to forget the 9-5 your worked today, it’s time to be with your family. And the pooch is the first to remind you how great it is.

I’m a single guy and I have the joys of Max for when I get home. But the laughs (and head in hands moments) that this guy has given me is brilliant. There is a video from last week I really do want to show you and will post it up after this,

Emotional Support

As you can see I’m quite enthusiastic about the emotional support your dog will bring to you. I believe this will far outdo the fears of the financial side of the commitment. 

On a side not with regards to emotional support provided by dogs. They are known to improve people’s morale, Heath and happiness. Dogs have been and do get used by charity groups who take them into hospitals to encourage the ill. To war zones to lift the morale of soldiers. And to people who suffer from depression as emotional aide. You really can’t look at these guys/girls and think ‘it’s only a dog’ because it’s really not just a dog. They are family members. They will make you laugh. They will make you cry. However, you will share a bond that is like no other. Loyalty that you very rarely experience.

So hopefully this second instalment will swing you back away from financials and back on track with your ideals of owning a dog. We all have our own reasons.

Once again if you liked today’s post then please do leave a comment below.

Look forward to the video of my arrival home last week, and more stories of the random world of Maximus.

Keep on barking guys.

Let’s meet Maximus

We all know the saying that a mans best friend is his dog. This is undeniably true. No matter how much of a douche you are they will continue to love you, you can never embarrass them and you can never be in the dog house with them; can’t always be said about the other loves in your life.

Let’s introduce Maximus aka Max. This beauty is a 10 month old Staffordshire bull terrior X black Labrador. Looks just like a Staffie but with the never ending appetite of a Lab; this includes many many pairs of trainers, that’s another chapter that we’ll cover later.

IMG_0022.JPG

So why am I introducing you to Max? I’d hesitantly say it’s a heads up to the trials and tribulations of being a dog owner. A reminder that you have to take the good with the bad, and that a dog is not just for Christmas. This is evident in the world of Max.

Max came to be in my life after a quick search on preloved (a website that doesn’t quite seem right in its name). I decided that I wanted a bouncy smiling face when I walked through the door after a long day at work. He was advertised by a family who’s numbers had got ‘too big’ to provide Max with the life that he deserves. Now there was no new members of the family when I was there and their youngest being 2 ( Max was about 7 months at the time). So it was rather the family had grown past the initial honeymoon of having a dog and could not be bothered to carry on providing for the commitment they signed up for; a touchy subject which I could bang on about, and trust me, I will soon.

Chapter 1 – A dog is not just for Christmas

Ok, so the name of this chapter is a phrase which I have use once before in this post, and it’s a point I want to drive home. It can, however, also fall into many other categories;

‘A dogs not just for birthdays’

‘A dogs not just for valentines day’

‘A dogs not just for fun’

As you can imagine that list could go on. So firstly let’s look at what you are signing up for when you decide you want a loving family pet. After discussing whether you go for dog or cat (and obviously choose dog) what’s next?

First things first, consider the costs of owning a dog. This can vary from pooch to pooch but can range from vet bills to ongoing food costs. Not to put you off the decision it’s just important to understand.

If you, for example, get a puppy. You will need to get inoculations. This can range from £30-60 depending on the size. Not too much of a cost I’d imagine you’ll be thinking. Then after a few months you will need to look into castration or neutering depending on the gender.

Let’s stop there. Max is a man pooch and in the coming weeks will be having the snip. As a man myself I have put this off for a couple of months because the thought doesn’t sit well with me or my own genitals. Can’t help but to feel a twang of guilt every now and then for even considering it. It’s chopping off his man bits. Upon reflection, it actually opens up the doors for further opportunities. Big one being, allowing him off the lead without fear that he will run to the hills because he can smell a bitch in heat (the scent travels up to 2miles!!!).

So the cost of neutering is heavily dependent on the size of the dog, as the cost is generally worked out on the amount of drugs it will take to knock them out for a few hours, Max for example is about 16kg and in total his castration will cost £160. Now the costs are rising a bit.

We all love good food, but not more so than mans best friend. I do not think I’ve ever met a dog who has stopped eating because they are full, their pits are bottomless!! You will also want to feed them decent quality food to enrich their lives. So if we consider James Welbeloved (I choose this because that’s what Max likes) it works out at about £6 kg. Max would chomp through a kg a day if allowed, however, this would result in one round pooch. So he’s limited to the recommended 250g a day over two sittings. It’s about £1.50 a day, £10.50 a week £42 a month. So the same as a basic phone contract.

In our first episode I have briefly covered the fact that a dog is not just for Christmas, and the average ‘running cost’ of pet ownership. It’s not all doom and gloom. Over the next few weeks I will show you the agonies, joys and rewards of dog ownership.

Chapter 1.2 – The good side to the commitment you’re signing up for.

Please leave comments below if you enjoyed this first instalments or for any advice you would like to pass on. I would like to hear whether you would be interested in a second instalment.

Keep barking people.

Max’s loving, slightly greyer, owner/friend.