How to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated

While you might think your dog loves lounging all day, dogs need to be kept stimulated, both mentally and physically.

If your dog isn’t getting enough stimulation, this is when you are likely to start seeing unwanted behaviour, which can make living with your dog very hard and can impact your life more than you might imagine.

Here are a few tips with give our clients for keeping your dog mentally and physically stimulated.

Play
It’s as easy as throwing a ball (do be careful throwing sticks as they can damage your dog’s mouth) or a toy, and making your dog fetch it and bring it back. You could also play tug of war, but be aware dogs are cheats, and will tug from just below your hand!

If you want to make things harder, you can hide treats around the garden and get your dog to sniff them out and find them. Don’t do this in the house under any circumstances; your house should be a quiet place for your dog at all times.

Make your dog work for treats – puzzle toys
Something that’s really fun for your dog is to make them work for treats using puzzle toys.

Puzzle toys have holes and openings in them which you can stuff with treats and food. To get the reward, your dog has to shake the toy, push it around, rattle it, and lick it.

To vary the difficulty, you can get puzzle toys with adjustable holes to allow you to change the size. To start off with, keep the hole completely open to make it easy for your dog, and then the more they do it, the smaller you can make the hole to make your dog work hard.

We use and recommend Kong toys, fill with treats or even peanut butter.

Give your dog something to chew on
It’s natural for dogs to chew; it’s something they enjoy doing. To prevent any unwanted chewing and to keep your dog busy, give your dog some toys they are allowed to chew on and encourage them to do it.

It’s best to only allow your dog to have a chew toy inside its crate. There needs to be a clear distinction for your dog regarding where they can and cannot chew. Allowing your dog to chew when loose in the house may blur the lines as to what is an acceptable chew toy and what is not.

If you catch your dog chewing something they shouldn’t be, tell them no, and if the dog persists you may need to correct the dog in some way.

Exercise

dina-jumping-with-ball
Exercising with your dog doesn’t stop at taking them for a walk. There are plenty of activities you and your dog can do together, to keep you both stimulated, and fit and healthy.

Some of the most popular exercises to do with your dog are: walking, running, playing, cycling with your dog, hiking, and agility training.

To find out more about how to keep fit with your dog, read our recent blog post, how to keep fit with your dog.

Training
Training is a great way to ensure your dog is obedient, and keep any unwanted behaviours at bay.

If your dog is already obedient, it’s important to make sure you continue training to make sure your dog behaves the way you want him or her to, and doesn’t develop any bad habits.

If your dog isn’t trained or you’re seeing specific behavioural problems, our residential training can literally be life-changing. We understand the frustrations many dog owners face each day living with a disobedient dog.

The four-week course will teach your dog obedience, and take care of any specific problems you’re having. When the course is complete, we will teach you all the commands you need to know to continue training your dog at home.

Dog sitters / dog walkers
If you’re at work during the day and are unable to take your dog to work or pop back during the day, consider hiring a dog sitter or using a dog walking service.

Borrow My Doggy, a partner of DogsTrust, is a service that’s well worth looking into. Borrow My Doggy matches you and your dog to people in your area who want to spend time with a dog.

It’s a win-win situation because your dog gets exercise and spends time with someone, while someone who can’t have a dog (perhaps due to their job or home) gets to spend time with a dog.

What do you do to keep your dog stimulated?

10 reasons why dogs are good for your health

Being a dog owner has many benefits, most of which relate to improving your health.

Stroking your dog can reduce your blood pressure, your furry friend gets you out and exercising, and they can even save your life.

Read on to discover 10 reasons why owning a dog is good for you, and your family.

Health & physical benefits

Exercise

Dogs require daily exercise, which means you will get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day when you go for ‘walkies.’

We know that it’s hard to stay motivated when it comes to fitness, but your dog is one of the best motivators you will find because they love going out. Try convincing your dog that it’s better to stay in and watch TV; he or she will not agree.

If you’re looking for something to do with your dog, other than walking, take a look at a blog post we recently published which looks at six fun activities and sports you and your dog can do together.

Allergies and asthma

A study carried out by the University of California San Francisco found that children who are exposed to dogs in early infancy are less likely to develop asthma and allergies than those who were not exposed to dogs early in life. The study found that ‘dog-associated dust’ helped to protect the airways.

Dogs lower your blood pressure

Studies have also found that dogs can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. One study found that being in the presence of a dog can lower your heart rate and blood pressure more than being in the presence of your friends or partner.

Dogs can be life savers

Dogs are incredible. They are so much more than family pets. They can give blind people their independence, they can reduce anxiety, they can predict seizures, they can ‘smell’ low blood sugar, and they can even sniff out cancer.

Is there anything dogs can’t do?

Social

Dogs are natural conversation starters

No, we’re not trying to suggest they can talk – unless you’re the owner of this Husky.

Many people love dogs, and owners are often approached by friendly strangers and fellow dog owners who ask about the dog’s breed, and want to give him or her some attention. (Come on, we’ve all done this at least once.)

Our clients often receive comments about how well-trained and well-behaved their dog is!

There’s a reason dogs are man’s best friend

Own up; how many of you have ‘conversations’ with your dog? Dogs provide great companionship, and can offer the same level of friendship as a human being.

Emotional

Dogs make us happy

As well as making your dog happy, stroking your dog makes you happy by releasing dopamine and serotonin. These are nerve transmitters which have a pleasurable and calming effect, and it’s for this reason that dogs can be very beneficial to people with autism or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Dogs decrease feelings of anxiety

Continuing from our point above, the hormones released when you stroke a dog can decrease feelings of anxiousness.

It’s also been found that owning a dog can be helpful for those suffering with depression for a number of reasons, including companionship and having a routine.

Safety

Dog owners feel much safer in their own homes, or out in the evening, because their furry friend provides a sense of security.

Many dogs will alert their owner to a stranger at the door, and we can train and provide dogs to protect you, your family, and your home.

Dogs alleviate work stress

If your company allows it, taking your dog to the office can alleviate work-related stress. Having your dog at work also forces you to take regularly breaks which you may not take otherwise, which means you return to your desk feeling energised and refreshed.

We are also able to incorporate obedience training in an office environment into your dog’s training so that your dog is well-prepared to go to work with you.

Bonus: funny dog photos

Most dog owners are guilty of having a few photos on their phone of their dogs doing silly things, or having funny expressions on their faces. And without man’s best friend, we wouldn’t see gems like these.

If you are considering getting a dog, get in touch to find out about our pre-trained family dogs.

Meet some of our international trained dogs

Here at WKD we have trained and supplied a number of dogs who have gone off to live wonderful lives abroad.

Last year we supplied three Labradors, Marley, Charlie and Alfie, to a charity in Switzerland who have undergone further training to become Guide Dogs.

The charity was so impressed with our services and the temperament and obedience of the dogs that we supplied, that we are currently training a further two Labradors, Susie and Albie, to join them.

Taking into account the specific criteria from the charity, we have specifically selected confident, sociable and biddable dogs and carried out our temperament testing to ensure they would be a good fit for the role as a Guide Dog.

The chosen dogs were then x-rayed for hip/elbow scoring, as well as eye-tested and issued with the relevant vaccinations for a pet passport to live abroad.

Our team then commenced training with the dogs, which took two months. The training included general obedience, good house manners and socialisation in a variety of real-life situations with a mix of different people, all using Swiss commands.

Soleil looks like she’s have a great time in the snowy mountains.
Soleil looks like she’s have a great time in the snowy mountains.

In October 2014 we trained Golden Retriever ‘Soleil’, who has gone on to live with a retired couple out in the snowy mountains in France. They regularly send us updates and pictures, it looks like she is having a great time!

Winston
Winston is going to live in sunny California.

This month we have trained Winston, the Hungarian Vizsla, who will travel to his new family in California later this week.

Winston will be living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He will join a family with ‘almost’ 3 young children. He will enjoy long walks on the beaches around Half Moon Bay and all along the San Francisco Peninsula. His new home is in an area populated with horses and deer.

Our training services aren’t just restricted to the UK and as you can see, we are able to offer trained dogs to people around the globe. If you live outside the UK and are looking for a trained dog get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Do you really need to rehome your dog?

There are many reasons why you may feel you need to rehome your dog, but it doesn’t always have to end in rehoming.

At WKD Trained Dogs we put out ‘wanted’ adverts for the popular breeds that our clients desire and if a dog is suitable, we will train them and match them up to a new loving family.

In doing that, we’ve discovered a few common reasons why people feel they have to rehome their dog.

If you are planning to buy a dog, we encourage you to think about the future, and any reasons why you feel you may have to rehome the dog.

Here are the five most common reasons we see for people rehoming their dogs, and steps you can take to prevent it.

Behavioural problems in the dog
This is probably the most common reason for rehoming a dog. Living with a dog with behavioural problems can be frustrating and upsetting.

There are a multiple reasons why a dog might have behavioural problems, and the most likely reason is that you and your dog didn’t receive adequate training in the first place.

We offer a four week residential training course, where your dog will come and stay with WKD Trained Dogs. We will teach your dog general obedience to ensure they behave correctly in your home and out on the lead, and we can target any specific issues your dog has, such as chewing, or aggression.

Once training is over, we will hand your dog back to you and teach you all the commands, and give you all the information you need to know to ensure your dog’s behaviour doesn’t lapse.

Family demands
When people come to us for a family dog, we encourage them to think about the future and anticipate any changes that may result in them feeling they have to rehome the dog. Most commonly this is a new baby, or a new job.

If your job is preventing you from spending as much time as you want to with your dog, consider doggy daycare, hiring a dog walker, using Borrow My Doggy, or ask if you can take your dog to work. More and more offices allow their employees to take their dog to work now, if they are well behaved of course.

When you have a baby, you may be concerned about how your dog will behave around the baby, and adapt to a huge change in your household.

There are some basic ground rules you can set to make yourself feel more comfortable and relaxed about your dog and your baby:
• If your baby is on the floor, the dog must be in its bed
• Do not allow your dog to jump up when you are carrying the baby
• Always supervise your dog and baby – never leave them alone in the same room
• Make sure your dog has a den / safe place (such as a crate) before the baby is born, where you can put them when you inevitably have lots of visitors in the first few weeks
• If your dog’s routine will change, establish this before the baby arrives so that the dog is used to it. For example, your dog’s meal or walk times might change, and get your dog used to walking next to a pushchair.

All of our dogs are sociable animals, who are great with children as most of them go on to become trained family dogs, and will meet children that visit our site.

If we are aware that client is expecting a baby, or planning to have one in the near future, we can do number of things, such as:
• Train the dog to walk alongside a pushchair
• Ensure the dog only plays with their toys; they won’t pick up dummies and the like
• Play soundtracks of a baby crying so that they are not alarmed by the noise

Relationship breakdown
The breakdown of a relationship can be incredibly stressful, and can result in people rehoming their dogs. The most common reasons for this are the dog’s energy levels being too high and the owner feels they cannot manage it, or the owner doesn’t feel they can give the dog the time he or she needs.

If it’s a case of your dog’s behaviour being too much to handle, our four-week residential training course can vastly improve their behaviour and correct any specific issues your dog has.

If you feel you can’t give your dog the time and attention he or she deserves, consider using a dog walking service, or doggy daycare. If you still feel that it isn’t enough, it’s probably in the dog’s best interests that he or she goes to a new home.

Moving abroad, or to a pet-free property
If you are renting, you may find that a lot of properties say they do not allow pets. The DogsTrust run a scheme called Lets With Pets which can help you find a pet friendly landlord, and gives you tips on finding accommodation for your dog.

It can also be useful to make up a ‘CV’ for your pet to give to potential landlords, explaining their behaviour and personality, and listing any training courses your dog has done. If you can prove that your dog is well behaved, a landlord is much more likely to look favourably upon allowing your dog to live in the property.

Taking your dog to live abroad with you is not as hard as you might think. We regularly train dogs in the UK, and send them to live with families all over the world.

When we send dogs to their new loving family by airplane, we have to:
• Get a fit-to-fly letter, which will be issued by our vets no more than 10 days before travel
• Ensure the dog has had a rabies vaccination, and has proof of it in their pet passport (a pet passport is usually around £100)
• The airline will send us documents to complete, along with a travel crate with water trays, and stickers that we have to apply

You will be able to get further information about travelling abroad with your pet from your vets.

Owner’s ill-health
Unfortunately there may be a time in yours, or a family member’s life, where you feel you can’t look after your dog anymore.

If it’s a temporary issue, consider finding a dog sitter, or using Borrow My Doggy.

If it’s likely to be a permanent issue, then it is probably in the dog’s best interest that he or she finds a new family.

If you want to find out more about our residential training course, or have a popular breed of dog that you are looking to rehome, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

What happens when you pre-order your perfect, trained family dog?

2015 has got off to a great start for us and we’re busier than ever, taking pre-orders for four months in advance.

We only ever have a few dogs available for sale at any one time and they often have a loving family waiting for them shortly after being advertised.

The majority of our clients pre-order their dog from us and our pre-order questionnaire makes sure that we find the perfect companion for you and your family.

Our questionnaire covers things such as;

  • If you have a particularly breed, colour, gender, size, energy level (calm dog or active dog) and any other details, such as undocked tailed, athletic look etc, in mind.
  • Where you live, who lives in your home, whether children live in / visit your home, whether you have any particular needs, the size of your garden etc.
  • Your lifestyle, family hobbies, whether your dog will socialise with other dogs and look at a typical day for your dog.
  • Any specific things your dog needs to be trained to do, such as; stay off furniture, not allowed upstairs, alert you when there’s someone at the door, run alongside you when you’re jogging, walk alongside a pushchair or be used to travelling on the train.
  • The name you have in mind for your dog – our trainers will teach your dog their name at the beginning of training.

Once we know what kind of dog you’re looking for we will begin the search for your perfect dog.

When we’re confident that we’ve found the right dog for you, we will send you photos of the dog and details for you to approve. You and your family are free to visit the dog in person, if you cannot make the journey we will send you videos of the dog during training instead.

If, for some reason, you do not feel the dog is right for you we will begin the search again, taking on board any comments / additional criteria at no extra fee to you.

When training is complete the handover can be carried out at our site or at your home (for an extra fee) and we will show you what your dog can do and teach you all the commands you need to know.

You can pre-order your dog via telephone or in person at our site. Regardless of which method you choose, we will have a detailed conversation with you about your needs and any queries you may have.

While we are currently taking pre-orders for four months ahead you can place a pre-order for further into the future at no extra cost.

If you any have questions about pre-ordering our trained dogs or want to place an order, please call 01785 761 441 or fill in our contact form.

Why should I train my dog?

Dogs become part of the family and we’re all guilty of spoiling them a little bit. As an owner though it’s your responsibility to make sure your dog is well trained.

It’s more than them knowing how to sit or stay, you need to make sure they come back when called and behave correctly while out in public and in your home.

Your responsibility

If you are going to own a dog it’s your responsibility to make sure he or she is well behaved in public.

Some dogs may show aggression towards people or other animals so it’s important to make sure that issue is dealt with quickly.

As well as the safety of people you need to consider the safety of your dog. If your dog will not come back when called, he or she could get injured.

For the happiness of your family

A badly behaved dog can wreak havoc on family life.

Whether you’re living in fear that your dog may bite you, your dog is aggressive towards other animals, won’t come back when called, suffers separation anxiety or something else, it isn’t fair on you, your family or your dog to live with that.

Many of our clients who’ve brought their dog in for residential training tell us that their lives have literally been transformed.

For example; they can take their dogs for a walk knowing that their dog will come back when recalled or they can invite guests round knowing that their dog will be well behaved.

A trained dog is a happy dog

If your dog is well behaved he or she will be happier than if they were badly behaved and were constantly being shouted at.

Imagine how confusing and scary it must be to be shouted at all the time when you don’t what you’ve done wrong or how to behave instead.

If your dog is badly behaved our residential courses can work wonders and change your life. Our courses generally last between four and six weeks, depending on the issue, and we will accept any dog, of any age with any issue.

If you are thinking about buying a dog but are worried about training them correctly get in touch with us to find out about our trained dogs. We offer trained puppies and trained adult dogs and list some of our dogs for sale on our website.

To find out more about residential training or our trained dogs for sale, fill in our contact form or call us on 01785 761 441.

WKD Trained Dogs trained and supplied for a guide dog charity

We recently waved goodbye to four lovely Labradors who boarded a plane to work overseas with a guide dog charity.

A few months ago we were approached by a guide dog charity when a few of their young adult dogs, who they had raised from puppies, failed their final assessment due to hips and elbow scores or their temperament.

After finding our website and chatting to us they booked a flight and came to visit us. On the day of their visit they placed an order for four dogs, one of which was our very own Wally.

We sourced the remaining three dogs and carried out the same temperament test we use for all dogs we source, to make sure they have the correct temperament.

The dogs were trained to our obedient family dog level, were socialised more often than usual and encountered public transport on a regular basis.

After months of hard work, the four dogs went overseas at the end of April and have begun specialist training with the charity.

The charity have since ordered another two dogs from us, which will join them later this year.

The cost of training a guide dog is around £80,000 per dog and the charity believe that with our input they can half the training time from 12 months to 6 months.

We’re so happy to be able to help a charity and wish our dogs the best of luck abroad!