This season, no matter how you celebrate, is all about giving and our dogs are worthy recipients.
This year, just like last, has been tough and we want to encourage pet owners to do their best to buy local and support small businesses.
Irish businesses (like us) have had a really tough couple of years. We are a teeny tiny and very independent Irish business and many of our graduates also run small businesses, doing their best to help dogs & their humans.
We are also Irish pet owners and want to do our best to support other Irish businesses. With Brexit continuing to cause changes and challenges to business here, we want to make a special effort to build support for Irish pet product manufacturers and retailers.
We’ve been taking suggestions on our social media channels:
Here are your wonderful suggestions so while I am sure you have got your Christmas shopping under control (?), please do think of these small, Irish businesses in the New Year, when things will be seriously more difficult.
Happy Hounds Pet Store & Groomers
Shauna’s Pet Shop (plus they have an Irish-made section on their website listing lots and lots more!)
Shop In Ireland also has a large range of pet product companies too!
Collars, Treats, Toys & Accessories
Handmade by Golden for awesome snuffle toys
Beds & accessories
In general, when it comes to products in almost all categories, manufacturers will add some gimmick, marketing trick, or notion in an attempt to stand out with their own USP. But, that doesn’t make it better for you and your pet
We like to understand the mechanisms behind the workings and how that applies to your pet’s behaviour, and to your wallet. We are often more satisfied with simple design, while helping pet owners improve their skill in handling and using tools safely.
Despite the range of harness, with all their bells & whistles, care is required in choosing the right harness for your dog.
This great video, on Facebook, illustrates the criteria for choosing the right harness for your dog’s build. Watch here.
Look for harnesses that don’t restrict your pet’s movement, especially the front assembly (straps that cross the shoulder), when fitted properly. Make sure that straps behind the elbow don’t ride up into the arm pit too.
Just because a design, like harnesses with large panels sitting over the back and shoulders, is popular, doesn’t mean that they are safe and appropriate for most dogs.
We tend to recommend a simple H/Figure-8 most of all:
Take care with fitting and teach your dog, with a system like that shown above, to enjoy having their harness fitted from the beginning.
I’m a self confessed collar-addict, particularly because Decker has little hair so it’s easy to see all the pretty collars I get for him…
Dogs in Ireland must be microchipped (registered, certified) and wear a collar with their owner’s identity when in public. Collars that are worn much of the time and for ID must not be tightening and should be well fitted, and with as little extras added that might get caught.
Take care with collars with snaps as these can weaken over time. Some come with security features to strengthen them, but only if fitted properly as shown in this clip:
Generally, the wider the band of the collar, the more comfortable it will be. There are a huge array of designs and types of collars available to suit almost every dog.
Greyhound collars and martingales, adjusted correctly, are safest to prevent escape.
Break-away collars, or no collar should be used when dogs play, particularly in groups, and when dogs spend time in crates or pens unsupervised.
Leads & Lines:
Use the longest, simplest lead you can manage and that works for the environments you use them.
You probably don’t need all the rings and fancy additions to many leads available now and for the most part, attaching extra weight, such as poop-bag carriers, is uncomfortable for dogs.
We prefer to use long lines when safe, as outlined in this clip:
But know that many people are surgically attached to their extendable lead; learn to use it safely:
Confinement & Beds:
Most dogs will benefit from some form of confinement training and puppies or new dogs, especially, will benefit from having their own safe space where they can hang out safely.
Depending on the dog and the function of the crate, I use soft-sided, wire and plastic airline types.
I love to use baby-gates and pens the most so that access to the dog can be restricted as needed. Baby Dan pens are excellent because their bars are vertical which helps prevent climbing.
Have beds of lots of different types in lots of locations so that your dog can choose how they use resting and sleeping areas. More in Day 10 from #100daysofenrichment.
Toys & fun stuff:
I can’t emphasise this enough: your dog should have lots of fun stuff in their lives.
That means tons of outlets for doggie behaviour and lots of things that satisfy different needs such as things for chewing, sniffing, catching, chasing, squeaking, rolling, manipulating, challenging, thinking….
Not only will you be able to work out their preferences, but also provide items that can allow you both to learn to use them in fun and different ways.
Check out #100daysofenrichment for so many ideas for fun & brain games for you and your dog!
All your dog wants for Christmas is you!
While all the gifts and toys are awesome and very much appreciated by your dog, YOU are the most important part of your dog’s life!
Your time, your company and experiences shared with you; that’s what they want, what they really really want.
Indeed, that’s what they need.
Take some time to just be together, to hang out, to watch the world go by. Remember to help them to get back into the usual routine to prepare them when the post-holidays world starts up again though.
Make this one a Happy Sniffsmas for your dog, working through some #100daysofenrichment challenges with you, their favourite human.