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Dogs are part of the family and some of the best holiday memories can be of happy times with pets, walking and playing with them on a beach, or taking them for long countryside walks, or simply sharing time together without the stress of a busy work schedule. If you also have children then having happy memories of holidays shared with your pets can be so important for you and your family in future times.
On a Dog website we know how important holidays with pets are and have had many holidays with our dogs over the years, we now have lovely memories and photographs of our dogs on holiday and continue to enjoy time with our dogs that now share our lives.
Beach holidays with a dog bring some of the best memories as most dogs just love being on the beach. While a beach holiday with a dog may not be ideal if you are staying in holiday accommodation as most dogs manage to carry sand back home with them, it also gets everywhere in the car.
If you are used to taking your pets on beaches to walk or play you probably already accept that you will have a problem with sand and have either accepted this, or come up with a strategy to keep it to a minimum.
By drying your dog with a towel, walking them until they dry out and the sand can be easily brushed off, having a dog crate in the car or in the house until the sand falls off. We take several old blankets and towels on holiday to help keep our pets comfortable and dry.
Thinking about the subject of dog teeth cleaning I personally feel very guilty as I am not always consistent with brushing our dog’s teeth. Yet this is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to help keep your dog in good health as most of the problems associated with poor dental hygiene in dogs can easily be stopped by regularly cleaning your dog’s teeth with a good quality dog toothpaste or gel.
The best time as with all regular dog grooming procedures is to start when they are a puppy and make it a fun part of the day. Ideally if you feed your dog twice daily (as we do) then get into the routine of brushing your dog’s teeth after meals, certainly once a day, better still twice a day. This will ensure that tartar does not build up on your pet’s teeth that can lead to tooth decay and expensive vet bills. It will also help your dog have healthy gums, better breath and ensure that they reduce the chances of tooth decay and gum infection.
Another suggestion is that feeding your dogs good quality dried dog food (kibble) rather than wet food will also help maintain your dog’s teeth in good condition. While on the subject of teeth it is worth remembering not to throw stones or sticks when playing with your pet as dog’s teeth can be broken when a dog picks up or catches a thrown stone (yes it has happened to me) and with sticks, they can be caught in your dog’s mouth or throat causing injury and sometimes death. Use a proper dog toy or ball when playing, not stones or sticks.
Back to cleaning your dog’s teeth, all you need is a toothbrush and doggy toothpaste, a human toothbrush can be used for this or you can buy a dog toothbrush from your pet store. Toothpaste must be the one used for dogs as they do not contain additives that can be harmful to dogs. Do not skimp on cost for the dog toothpaste and ensure it is from a reliable and well known manufacturer.
You now have a toothbrush and dog toothpaste and the fun will now begin. Often (not always) your dog will initially show resistance when you try and clean their teeth. This is one of the reasons why your regular health check with your dog should also include inspecting their teeth and gums, as they will then just accept it is part of this fun game you play with them when doing their health check – paws, stomach, ears, leg joints and mouth. To overcome a dog’s natural suspicion of the toothbrush allow them to sniff it, let them have a lick of the toothpaste and when you eventually get the toothbrush in their mouth allow them to chew it. Eventually you will get your dog to allow you to spread the toothpaste over all their teeth (especially the teeth at the back – molars etc) and they will look forward to getting their teeth cleaned twice a day.
If you have an older dog with a build up of tartar on the base of their teeth you may want to start by using a tartar busting gel that is applied directly to the teeth.
Whatever you do please get into the daily procedure of cleaning your dog’s teeth, it will help reduce a number of health problems that can occur when a dog has tooth decay and gum disease. Vet costs to remedy these preventable conditions are expensive as dogs need to be put under an anaesthetic before the vet can repair tooth damage or remove a tooth.
For most dogs a trip in the car is a great experience and they just love going places, for other dogs it is a miserable time and either anxiety or other issues gives them a less than pleasant time in the vehicle. If your pet has anxiety or is prone to travel sickness it is better to discuss this with your veterinary practice to choose the best solution for them. Ideally you should start preparing your dog for a long journey by getting them used to being in your car, making car trips fun (to a forest walk for example) and not just to the vets which may not be the best memories for your dog. Build up good memories of going places they enjoy.
If your dog does suffer genuine travel sickness then medication is available to reduce the symptoms from your vet, or online. You can also help by withholding food before a long journey and by keeping your dog in a position in the car that stops them looking out of the side windows. You may find that a car dog carrier is helpful as well as a dog seat belt.
Keeping your dog out of the front of the vehicle is very important and most car insurance policies will be void if the dog causes a distraction and you have a car accident. To ensure that you do not have any problems with the law in the country you are driving in we recommend that a physical barrier is put between the dog and the driver, a car dog guard is one of the easiest methods to keep you legal, safe and insured while travelling with your dog in the car. Many people find that having their dogs in the rear area of the car is best and a dog guard can keep your dog safely in the car. An alternative is to use a dog travel carrier which allows you to control when your dog gets out of the vehicle when you stop when you open the rear door or boot.
When travelling with a dog always make sure they have access to water, and give them adequate toilet breaks. If possible take them for short walks on a lead (as you do not want your dog to run off while on a journey) every couple of hours. Never leave dogs in a car alone even in cloudy weather as cars can quickly overheat within minutes, this will cause stress in your animals and in some cases your pet can die from overheating.
In all dog training situations, the golden rule is never to hit your dog, use rewards as a way to train and improve dog behaviour, never punishment. A simple “NO” using a stern voice is the best way to tell your dog that they have done something you do not like, or to correct behaviour. When correcting a dog’s inappropriate behaviour, you need to remember that if you hit or smack an animal, they will not understand why you are hurting / smacking them.
By rewarding good behaviour and ignoring bad (where possible) you will find that your dog will quickly learn to do what you want. The reward system can be using positive words, “Good Dog”, “Clever girl / boy”, “Well Done”, spoken with enthusiasm. Some people use a clicker with a small and tasty treat to reward “good” behaviour. or simply giving the dog a tasty treat from a treat bag they carry with them all the time they are out with their dog. Most dogs love an affectionate clap / cuddle and this can be incorporated into training.
Dogs are very easy to train as they are very intelligent animals who aim to please people. While many dog trainers will offer this advice, it is often difficult when you try and put it into practice with your own dog or puppy. In many cases the problem is the person, that is you, and not the dog. This may simply be due to a lack of knowledge, patience or experience and this can be fixed by reading up on the subject (buy a book, or watch a video) or ideally taking your dog along to a dog training class where your dog will also learn to meet and get on with other dogs.
The best time to train your dog will be when they are a puppy. You may find that your vet will offer puppy classes and while these may be more geared towards socialising your puppy with other young dogs, it is a great step towards training the puppy with simple commands, such as sit, stay, heal, come and leave. By encouraging your puppy to understand and obey these simple commands will make your life a lot easier and also help keep your dog safe in the home or outside on a walk.
With many of us choosing to adopt an older dog you can find that your new pet may have missed out on the essential aspects of puppy training and socialisation. By being patience and kind, you will find that most dogs will easily pick up good behaviour even when you adopt an older dog.
Most of us that love dogs also love having a puppy, they are delightful and fun to have yet they do offer challenges as they will often go through destructive phases often linked to teething and simply their desire to explore the world – with their teeth. We have been lucky to have had two puppies and have experienced the destruction of shoes, furniture and electrical equipment, as well as one of the puppies basically eating the seats of a car when I foolishly left him in the car while out shopping. They did grow out of this destructive stage; it did however push my patience to the limit. Forewarned is forearmed and you can try and keep your puppy safe and your furniture in one piece by using indoor puppy pens as well as getting them used to sleeping in a dog cage at night. By making sure that they have safe dog chew toys (rope toys) and other items they can safely chew it will help the puppy not chewing items that are valuable or dangerous. One of our puppies chewed through the electrical cables linked to a stereo system, somehow she did not get hurt, the stereo was ruined.
Buying a puppy can be great fun and the source of much excitement for all the family. It can also be costly so you do need to take care, use your head and keep your heart under strict control. The reason for this is that is due to the unfortunate fact that the puppy industry does have a bad reputation due to scammers, poorly run and illegal puppy farms and people who steal animals to sell. While most of us will be moved when we hear of a puppy needing a home on social media, just remember not all of these adverts will be legitimate or from a reputable breeder.
Never buy a puppy unless you can see the mother with them, ideally also see both dogs to get an idea of their temperament. Good natured dogs will usually produce puppies that will also be good natured. Never buy a puppy out of the back of a van, or in a pup. Always see the home environment and make sure it is legitimate.
Sadly, many puppies bred by people who run puppy farms will be ill and poorly bred, the mum has sometimes not been well cared for, will not have been exercised properly or fed correctly. They may have been kept in small cages all their lives. Why would you want to pay money to criminals who have no interest in their animals, or in the breed. The puppies from these illegal puppy farms will often be ill when you get them, or have genetic problems that can cause them to have short and painful lives. If you buy such a puppy you may end up paying hundreds or thousands of pounds in veterinary bills only to see your puppy or young dog die young, or have permanent and expensive medical needs. While most of us would want to help a puppy, buying from criminals is not the answer.
So where do you buy a puppy? If you want a specific breed then buy from a registered dog breeder. Go online to the official breed club in your country who will have a list of reputable breeders near you. A good idea is to follow the Kennel Club website advice on this. While not every reputable dog breeder will be registered, many of them will be. Most will also provide evidence of their puppies having medical checks and may also offer insurance on the puppy.
If a breeder will not allow you to see the mum and pups together in their normal living area (not just brought into a room for you to see) or does not meet the Kennel Club website advice on buying a puppy then you need to be strong and walk away from the purchase. This can be very hard to do after seeing a puppy, it is however the best thing to do. Whether you are spending £400 or £4000 it is just the start of your ongoing costs to look after your dog, by ensuring you are buying a healthy and well bred puppy your costs will be ongoing. If you buy a poorly bred or ill puppy to start you can easily end up spending a lot more and still end up with a broken heart.
If you are not looking for a specific breed and just want a dog then consider approaching your local or national dog rescue charity. While you may need to wait longer to get a puppy with these charities you will be helping rehome a dog that needs a home and people to love them. You will also need to expect a visit to ensure you and your living situation is suitable for keeping a dog, and especially a puppy. Some dog rehoming charities will only rehome puppies with people who have had previous experience of looking after a dog. If you do get turned down as not being suitable, instead of being annoyed consider carefully the reasons given to you and see if you can change your circumstances before going out and buying a puppy.
Often puppies will not be rehomed with families that have very young children, and for good reason. Children sometimes do not behave well with young animals and this can lead to behavioural problems with the puppy / young dog. If you are given advice not to have a puppy please consider waiting until your family situation changes. The rehoming centre may suggest an older dog that would better suit you and your family.
With thousands of dogs (and cats) each year in dog rehoming centres there is always a wide range of dogs looking for new homes. When you decide to bring a dog into your home and make them part of your family then please consider adopting a dog rather than buying one. Dog rescues are very welcoming and they will do their best to match a dog to your needs. They also do rehome puppies so if your heart still wants a puppy you can always contact your local dog rescues to find your puppy.
When adopting a dog or a puppy from a rescue centre you will be asked to pay a fee towards the cost of the animal. This cost does vary depending on the rescue centre / charity involved and their website will usually tell you the costs involved. You will find that it is considerably less than paying for a puppy. The charges go towards the medical treatments of the dog being spayed or neutered along with other medical needs at the time of rescue.
You can find details on dogs available and your local rescue centres on the following well known animal rescue websites, or do a search on Facebook for a rescue group near you.
Other website resources
These are just a few of hundreds of groups and charities that work towards helping animals and animal welfare.
Hamish, one of our dogs, was a Long Legged Parsons Jack Russell adopted from PADS in Perth
Dogs that are taken into animal rescues and kept in kennels sometimes get very stressed by the experience and I still remember seeing one our dogs for the first time in a kennel. His behaviour was not good and had put off people from rehoming him over several months. My wife saw through the hyperactive dog and knew he was the wonderful dog that he was. Nervous dogs like this are often overlooked by people when they visit the rescue centre and for these dogs, fostering, that is placing the dog within a home rather than a kennel, can make all the difference to the dog’s behaviour. A fosterer provides a safe and secure home for an animal that is in need of a new home. Dogs in this situation often feel less threatened than in a kennel, they are not surrounded by other dogs and the noise around the kennels. In this way they get over the trauma of being rehomed and get to know and trust people again, possibly for the first time.
Dogs in foster homes are still looking for new homes and this is part of the pleasure of fostering, seeing the dog going off to their forever home. It may takes a few weeks to several months before a suitable home is found and in that time you have the task of helping the dog learn new skills, to walk properly on a lead and to socialise with people and other animals.
If you feel you have the patience and love to give to an animal that needs a new home then approach your local animal rescue centre or contact one of the larger, national, animal welfare charities to see if they can use you as a fosterer.
If you do not feel you have the time to be a full-time fosterer then you may simply want to help by volunteering at an animal rescue, helping walk and exercise the animals in their care, or help with fundraising.
If you follow dog rehoming twitter feeds and Facebook for rehoming animals from outside the UK then you will appreciate that animal welfare standards are often less in some other countries. Cultural differences sometimes mean that animals can be looked upon as utilitarian rather than as a companion animal. The pictures of animals that have not been looked after properly can be heart breaking and we often wonder what we can do to help.
Obviously, the easiest solution is to help by donating money to animal rescue groups working abroad. Another way is to adopt one of the rescued animals. A word of warning, just make sure that the website / social media pages are legitimate before sending money and where possible use PayPal for any money sent.
Often these animals have already been brought over to the UK and placed in foster homes prior to permanent homes being found for them. While you heart may tell you to adopt a dog from abroad I would also say to use your head to make sure you are firstly suitable to take on the responsibly of one of these animals, and that any dog you want to adopt will also match your needs.
Where the animal sanctuaries are out with an area where they can bring dogs to the UK then they are nearly always requiring money to help feed the animals in their care and to pay for veterinary treatments. You can help by sending money, by giving your time to fundraise. For the more adventurous you may find that you can spend a holiday working within the animal centre to help look after the animals in their own country.
Dogs do sometimes develop behavioural problems, even dogs raised from a puppy. While you can with a bit of reading, or watching videos learn how to change unacceptable behaviour in your pet in most situations, it does take perseverance and patience. We do not all have the temperament to learn the skills and tools to improve our pet’s behaviour, sometimes it is just too complicated or deep seated for us to do on our own. This is where a pet behaviourist can and should be used to help both you and your pet.
A dog behaviourist will usually have formal qualifications and years of experience, and while they may not be cheap, they can often make the difference between having your dog rehomed or in extreme situations put to sleep. If you feel you need to use a behaviourist to help change your dog’s behaviour then ask your vet for recommendations. They may even have someone within their practice that can provide this service.
Another way to access a dog behaviourist is through your local dog training classes. While the individuals running training classes may not have formal qualifications, they will have many years of looking after and training dogs. Maybe all that is required is a different approach to your pet and you can learn this is a social environment with other people learning to train their dogs.
Older dogs need to be loved and cared for and we can do this in a number of practical ways. By taking them on less demanding walks, being sensible about the amount of running around they do, by helping them into / out of the car so that they do not need to jump down on limbs that may be slightly arthritic, by providing comfortable bedding for them to sleep on. I am sure you realise the list goes on, it simply comes down to giving your older dog, more time and affection as they get older.
Older dogs may need more reassurance and you can do this by talking to them more, showing physical signs of affection by clapping and cuddling them – just let them know you adore and love them. Older dogs may lose some of their senses such as hearing and eyesight leading to feeling insecurity in the dog. Your vet will be able to give you advice on how to look after your older pet and may recommend yearly tests to check out for any underlying illness or conditions. When medical needs are identified early, they are often easier to treat on an ongoing basis.
Ideally if you can make sure your older dog is at the correct weight and is on a good healthy diet, along with regular exercise, will help keep you dog healthier for longer.
The question to spay or neuter you dog is often one that can cause stress and worry. If you adopt a dog from an animal rescue organisation you will nearly always find that before you are allowed to take them home, they will have had the operation to ensure that they cannot breed. The reason is to try and reduce the number of dogs breeding in an unplanned manner as many of these dogs will be cross breeds that are not as desirable or valuable in the eyes of many people. These puppies will often be either given away or sold for very little, and many, not all, will end up in rehoming centres. Sadly, many of these unwanted animals will be euthanised (killed) as homes cannot be found for them. While many UK based animal welfare charities will do their best not to kill a healthy animal, local authority kennels often only give dogs and cats 7 days before they are euthanised. In other countries vast numbers of unwanted dogs and cats are killed as new homes cannot be found in time.
Back to the question, to spay or neuter your dog. While there is no black and white answer to this, I would suggest it is better to have an animal spayed / neutered unless the dog is a pedigree and you plan to breed the dog – while ensuring the quality of the breed to maintained. To do this you need to take responsibility and ensure good quality breeding standards is carried out, not just for the look of the dog, the behaviour and nature of the dogs involved is also very important factors. You then also need to ensure that the puppies are homed with suitable people, not just individuals that can afford to pay the fee for the puppy. This may involve home visits and asking sometimes very personal questions of any prospective “owners”, and the strength to say NO to someone you think would be unsuitable.
If you, like us, just want a companion animal, and do not want to breed then there is no logical reason to keep the dogs intact. In fact, there are many good reasons to have female dogs spayed as it reduces certain types of cancer occurring in the animal. If you want to reduce the chance that your female puppy does not get mammary tumours when they are older, then it is best to get the spayed before their first heat, normally before 6 months of age.
For male dogs it can keep them calmer, stop annoying and sometimes embarrassing behaviour (humping furniture and people’s legs) and reduce the chance that they will run off and chase female dogs that are in heat. By taking the responsible decision to have your male puppy neutered you will ensure that you are not bringing puppies in the world who may not be able to be looked after properly, or involve you, or others, with pedigree female dogs the cost of having veterinary treatment to have unplanned puppies aborted.
Summary: unless your dog is a documented pedigree, with a good temperament and excellent health, and you are willing to ensure all puppies are given wonderful homes (this also means you need to guarantee to take back puppies that are not successfully homed for whatever reason), then there is no reason not to have your puppy spayed / neutered as soon as the vet is willing to carry out the procedure. While your veterinary costs involved in this may be offputting, it is far less than treating a dog for mammary cancer, in the long term your dog is likely to be healthier and you will have less stress and worry regarding preventable illnesses when your dog is older.
Our collie a few months after her mammary cancer operation. She was around 6 years old when we adopted her and the vet confirmed she needed an immediate operation to stop the cancer spreading. We had Tibby for many more years after this and she passed aged 14.5 years old.
The question to have pet insurance must be one of the trickiest when you decide to get a puppy or adopt a younger dog. If you have an older dog then it is often difficult and expensive to insure them, so if you want to have dog health insurance it is best to get guaranteed lifetime pet insurance while your dog is young or a puppy. While the cost will increase annually you do have the peace of mind that your pet is covered into old age. If you adopt and older dog it is still possible to take out pet insurance, it will be more expensive and the number of insurance providers limited. If you can’t get pet insurance for an older animal then it is sensible to save towards the possible vet bills if they get ill or have an accident in the future.
When you buy a puppy from a registered breeder you will often be provided insurance to cover any illness and a this allows you to continue the insurance provided or to shop around for another pet insurance company.
While the question remains, do you need pet insurance? Generally, I would suggest that if you have decided to get a puppy then having a comprehensive pet insurance is a very good idea. In the long term with the increased costs in the insurance policy the decision is a bit more complicated. If you can afford to put the amount into a savings account and have the discipline not to use this money except to cover major vet bills then it may be a sensible approach for the long-term veterinary costs involved in looking after your pets.
If you have the money and security to be able to keep the payments on your pet over a lifetime then pet insurance can provide peace of mind when purchased with a reliable insurance provider. This is just down to the fact that with the advancement in pet care and the increase in sophisticated medical care provided by vets and veterinary hospitals treating a wide range of illnesses; care after accidents; and other wellness treatments – the cost of which can be many thousands of pounds. Having a quality pet insurance can cover the costs involved without the heartache of making decisions based on being able to afford treatment.
The simplest, and cheapest, way of grooming your pet is to brush your dog daily, or at least twice a week, this reduces the build up of old hair and mats that can cause your dog discomfort. While some dog breeds that have long hair do not need to have their hair cut, most do need to be brushed to ensure that hair does not built up into tangles that can turn into thick mats of dead hair. These thick mats often can cause your dog to have discomfort, it holds dirt and may even can lead to overheating in warm weather, in severe circumstances it can even effect a dogs ability to walk and run around.
Mats in dogs (and cats) look awful and is a sign that the animal has not been looked after. While this may not be deliberate (it has happened to our pets), you may simply not realise that your dog needs to be groomed, in the worse cases it may be due to neglect. Over the years I have discovered that all our long-haired pets, including collies, have developed mats and this was with the dogs being brushed. Often the problem increased as the dogs got older and in a number of occasions I have had to cut off the mats and most of the hair to resolve the problem with the mats.
On another occasion we adopted a long-haired Parsons Jack Russel and simply did not appreciate that she needed regular professional grooming. We had her for nearly 9 months before it dawned on us that she needed her hair trimmed. So if you have a pet that has long hair do a little online research and see if the breed you have requires regular grooming, if they do get them booked into a local dog groomer and you will be amazed at how happy your dog will be when it gets rid of the excess hair. In summer months dogs having a hair cut to remove thick and long hair can help reduce the chance that your pet will overheat in warm weather.
How much does it cost to have a dog professionally groomed? I am not sure that can be answered as it depends on where you live and the availability of dog groomers in your area. Where we live a dog haircut and shampoo costs from £30 to £35, and take from 1 hr to 90 minutes, and that is for a small breed. In a town or city, it may cost a lot more depending on the amount of work involved in grooming your dog and the breed grooming requirements.
How often should a dog be booked into a dog groomer? This depends on your dog breed, it also depends on whether the dog breed has grooming to keep a specific style (poodles etc) or if it is to keep the dog comfortable, especially in warm weather. In some cases, it may be every 6 weeks, for other dog breeds it could be every 3 months or more. Most reputable dog groomers will give you an idea of how often your dog should have a visit.
Can I look after my own dogs grooming needs? In many cases you can do many of the tasks involved in looking after your dog’s appearance and comfort. Depending on the dog breed - you can regularly shampoo and wash your dog (if necessary), while daily brushing your dog using suitable brushes. You may find that trimming and cutting of your dog is a bit too challenging and is best to be left to people who have trained to do this.
While it is possible for you to cut your dogs hair, just be very careful and gentle while doing this and take your time. While cutting mats off you dog, especially old thick mats that is just dead hair, it is easy to catch the skin of your dog and this may cause bleeding. When using scissors try and make sure you keep your fingers between your scissors and the dog’s skin to reduce the chance of you cutting the skin of your dog. If in doubt use a recommended professional dog groomer for cutting your dog’s hair.
Do dogs enjoy being groomed? An impossible yet / no answer to this, it all comes down to each dog. Some dogs’ hate being taken to a dog groomer and will require muzzling. Other dogs are very happy to get washed and groomed. You can help make the experience a good one for your dog (and the groomer) by taking the time to get your pet used to being touched and brushed, and by using positive feedback and rewards when you complete brushing, washing or other grooming activity.
As a puppy get them used to being touched and handled. One way to do this is to take them to dog training classes where part of the training will be to touch and handle all parts of your dog – holding and looking into the dog’s ears, their feed and paws, tails and tummy, while also brushing them. After the dog training classes make sure you practice what you have been shown on a daily basis where possible, certainly 2-3 times a week as a minimum.
By getting your dog used to being touched, inspected and handled they will find it less stressful on visits to your dog groomer.