Category Archives: AniEd

Use Food. Generously.

Wearing one of my other hats as vice-chair of IVBA, we held our annual conference & AGM recently.

We were lucky enough to have Dr. Gary Landsberg speak about reducing stress for pets during vet visits.

His promotion of the generous and extensive use of food during veterinary interactions struck me, and inspired.

Using food has always been controversial in dog training, with traditional beliefs dictating that dogs should do our stuff out of their love for us 🤮. I am a proud user of food, as reinforcers and otherwise, in a lot of my teaching and interactions with others. But sometimes, it can feel more effective to downplay food use, at least a little, in some contexts when attempting to get our message across.

Food is a tool, and like any other tool its use is sometimes very effective and necessary, and at other times may contribute to issues or be applied improperly.

Dr. Landsberg unashamedly recommended the use of food across every stage of the dog’s vet visit, and before and after.

Can you count how many food rewards are given to this dog during his blood draw procedure?

While there might be some classical/respondent benefits, as in the dog associates the veterinary context with yummies, the real benefits, in the examples we discussed during his talk, came from redirecting the dog’s attention away from procedures.

Essentially, procedures, interactions, and their surroundings, pale into the background as the dog is “distracted” with yummy foods and absorbed in eating behaviours.

Here’s an example with a then foster dog, having her ears cleaned and treated:

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Can’t Eat/Won’t Eat


In some situations, a dog can’t be given food due to preparations for anaesthesia, for example.

Dr. Landsberg argues that more recent evidence supports shorter fasting periods and that food, carefully introduced and used, may offset stress that could be even more damaging in terms of sedation and anaesthetic. The small risks may be outweighed by the careful use of food, particularly lappable foods which pass through the body more rapidly (Westlund 2015).

Stress can inhibit appetite:

For many dogs, the vet-experience is sufficiently stressful that they do not want to eat, even the tastiest treats.

Where a dog can’t eat due to stress or illness and nausea, employ other tools to prevent them experiencing any further stress associated with the veterinary context.

Food, glorious food

This might include anxiolytic medication, sedation, environmental or olfactory redirection, and time. Give them more time.

Simultaneous conditioning may lead to overshadowing, so while the dog isn’t learning new skills, we are prioritising maintaining their comfort. This may lead to improved comfort for subsequent visits and help facilitate more efficient learning of new skills (Riemer et al, 2021).

A sufficiently and significantly aversive experience can also impact other stimuli present. Including food. Feeling scared and the veterinary context may ‘poison’ the presence of food (Murrey 2007). Often when dogs are this distressed they may not eat but care should be taken in introducing food, that’s refused, and that food being associated with this stressful context.

Use high value foods, but not completely novel foods. Make food available rather than attempting to lure directly or encourage them to eat.

Fun with Food at every stage

Prepare for vet visits not just so you are ready to go, but also so that you have a plan in place. Run through each step of the entire process and prepare in advance for what you’ll need and your approaches, including your Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and so on.

For more see Vet Ready!

Practice run throughs with Happy Visits so both you and your dog are well-rehearsed at movements in and around the veterinary environment.

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Use food scatters & breadcrumb trails, taught targeting behaviours and even toys when moving into and through, including on and off the weighing scales.

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Food lapping is a nice way of keeping your dog busy, and possibly calmer, during examinations, diagnostics and procedures.

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By practicing clear communication, your dog learns they are being listened to. When your dog moves away from lapping or snuffling, stop. They learn that stopping with eating leads to a pause in the proceedings and they don’t need to struggle or aggress to take a break.

Have some play and fun at the end too. This allows for releasing some tension and helps form positive last memories of their time there.

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There are lots of caveats to all of this because of the individual nature of behaviour, and these contexts. But using food appropriately should be at the top of our list of tools with the primary goal of redirecting the dog’s focus to make the veterinary experience just not such a big deal.

Teach your dog the What’s This?! game

This is a game from our Adventure Class. On this course we spend much time observing and learning from our dogs’ preferences, their choices.

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Instead of thinking that so-called distractions are enemies to training, we become participants in our dogs’ curiosity and exploration. Viewing their world through their lens and their experiences.

Learn about the things that interest your dog, that engage their nose, that they enthusiastically orient toward and approach. I know Decker will be interested in thicker, longer clumps of grass, for example, as that’s likely where other dogs have marked. Drawing his attention to these provides sniffs, social outlets, and over-marking opportunities.

When you spot things, draw your dog’s attention to them by excitedly cueing “What’s this?!” and indicating the area of interest.

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Not only is this fun and relationship building for you both, but also a simple way to redirect your dog’s attention from goings-on that might be stressful. Turning them away and engaging in an enjoyable activity can help to manage their behaviour, and help prevent and recover from stressful interactions.

Lots of practice when there’s nothing going on, and just for fun, helps to change your mindset, in participating with your dog. And shows your dog that you won’t be nagging them to move on or ‘pay attention’, and instead that you’re their team-mate and partner in exploring your world together.

No one tool ‘works’ for every context, and sometimes it’s not possible or safe to use environmental redirection. But when it is, try the What’s This?! game, even if just for fun

Ya know how you help others out? Put your dog on leash…

In response to our recent post about ways to help other dog owners out, the resounding difficulty people reported was the behaviour of off leash, out of control dogs. We agree, this cultural oddity is a scourge, for sure.

While you might think or like to think that your dog is being ‘friendly’, nobody else needs to interpret that behaviour that way. Indeed, that’s because it’s not “friendly”. Imagine unfamiliar people running up to you, unsolicited, trying to touch you or engage you in an interaction. Would that be considered friendly? Nope…and possibly unlawful.

It’s not even friendly dog-dog behaviour. But because it’s become normalised, the wider dog owning public might think it’s ok or acceptable, and not recognise the need to provide their dog with help, support & guidance.

Recently, Decker, who is 11, was jumped on, from behind and unexpectedly, by a large adolescent dog whose owner was several hundreds of metres away. This young dog landing on my older boy’s lower back has resulted in some stiffness and tightness, particularly to his TTA knee which is fully recovered and in great shape other than some minimal arthritic change, as to be expected. He’s been on pain relief and appropriate rest so it isn’t exacerbated.
While there will be no behavioural fallout for Decker from this, if this had happened to the dog I was working with just after this incident, it would have sent us backward at least six months in our program.

Allowing this to happen, is not “socialisation”, it’s not benefitting your dog, and it’s most certainly damaging to other dogs and their humans. If your dog can’t manage the distance or situations at which you expose them to other dogs without lunging, pulling, staring, running up to, getting excited or anything other than some glances, some sniffing and information gathering and moving on, your dog needs help.

You might not be aware and that’s ok. But, you need to understand that there are physical and behaviour implications to your dog’s behaviour…and for your dog.

If your dog approaches another dog, and that dog snarks, that’s on you and that tells you that your dog’s approach was inappropriate. The other dog is allowed to say NO!.

Even if your dog is a ‘puppy’, even if the other dog is off-leash, even if you own a “friendly” breed (that’s not a thing!), if you are allowing your dog to approach other dogs when that other dog did not solicit that interaction, your dog’s behaviour is the problem. And may put them at risk too. It’s up to you to step up, and you can, of course, do this to help your dog.

Another dog just being present isn’t license for you to allow your dog to approach. If your dog can’t just go on with their lives in the presence of other dogs, it’s up to you to put measures in place to control your dog, prevent them being a nuisance, to keep them safe…at a minimum.

Here’s the bottom line. We have disrupted dog-dog relationship development to suit us which means we have to take on extra responsibility in ensuring they have appropriate social guidance. It’s part of your meeting their needs.

Help your dog out!

  1. Recognise there’s an issue and that your dog’s behaviour is telling you they need extra support & guidance.
  2. Learn to use a long line and think carefully about where you bring your dog to better meet their needs.
  3. Meet your dog’s needs and that shouldn’t include high octane and random interactions.
  4. Get engaged with your dog, get off your phone and have fun together. Be the fun, make the fun happen, nurture your relationship.
  5. Teach your dog that other dogs exist…and that’s no big deal!
    For puppies, teach them that other dogs are “look, no touch” and teach adolescent & adult dogs that other dogs are none of their business.
  6. Support your dog developing stable friendships with appropriate buddies, rather than random, high-octane and casual interactions.
  7. Go Adventuring! Facilitate lots of sniffing and lots of dog-led fun.
  8. Set up regular and appropriate neutral-dog-meet-ups and/or playdates with well-matched individuals. Provide guidance to nurture their developing social skills.

Get help!

We can help you help your dog in developing more appropriate social skills and in you meeting your dog’s needs, social and otherwise.

Reducing the Impact of Stress in Veterinary Behaviour

IVBA (Irish Veterinary Behaviour Association) is having a CPD day and our first AGM!

Anne from AniEd is the vice-chair of this exciting and young organisation. We can’t wait for this wonderful event, all about stress!

While we are always concerned about the stress experienced by the animals with whom we work, and we are covering that, but we are also looking at ways to improve our own management of stress in our work.

We have been tricked into thinking that “self-care” means jacuzzies and massage, and while those may certainly form part of your self-care provision, it’s really about your workplace.

Self-care starts with our workplaces; being paid properly, taking out breaks, establishing personal and professional boundaries, improved working conditions, skills and knowledge to cope with stressful situations. We’ve written about this before and really try to live it (here).

And that’s what our CPD day is for! We are exploring the management of stress in our animals, but also stress management skills for ourselves!

This is a great opportunity for all in veterinary and behaviour to come together, network and collaborate on gaining valuable skills relating to stress management.

Download the event brochure here, and share with all those who may be interested.

Promoting IVBA is important for the animals of Ireland and the veterinary and behaviour industries. Help us spread the word!

It takes a village

Recently, Deck & I took a detour for some adventuring in a new spot that we had never been to before. We found the beautiful Kiltennel Bay & forest walk, with a beach, lots of forest trails, streams and pond.

Decker sampling all the surf & turf!

When we go to an unfamiliar place, I take care with Decker’s access to water until we better understand his swimming comfort. And we also take care to get to know the dog walking and handling culture in a new area.

Decker is very environmentally sound and super-neutral with other people, dogs, animals and goings-on, so that’s not really my concern. But I want to advocate for his comfort so that we can maximise our enjoyment of this natural beauty spot.
We don’t approach or harass anyone else, and don’t allow anyone else do that to us. We just want to fun in our world together!

As we wandered around for a couple of hours, we met lots of dogs out with their humans. And who could blame them?! Such a wonderful adventuring destination!

When another dog, person or anybody appears, that’s a cue for Decker to return and engage with me.

To help maintain the comfort of others, when another dog appears, he returns and we leash up. And then we politely move aside or make it as easy for the other dog to pass by in peace.

Some of the trails were just a couple of metres wide so making space wasn’t always possible.

As a group of walkers approached with a little dog, Decker returned to me and they leashed their dog. I cued “Go Find It!” and tossed a couple of treats into the ditch, turning Decker’s back so the dog could pass.

The little dog’s owner commented, in surprise, that her little dog didn’t make a sound. The little dog quietly passed, glancing at Decker’s back end, and their human continued to marvel at her dog’s performance.

I cheered them on and wished them well, and was happy that our polite-dog-routine helped this little dog out.

And we can all help one another out!

By developing some awareness in how we can help one another out, without judgement, we can maintain everyone’s comfort.

Behaviour isn’t “good” or “bad”; behaviour is information from the dog telling us about their experience of the situations to which we expose them.

Judging other pet owners is a go-to in real life and online. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The notion that “there are no bad dogs, just bad owners” is inaccurate and damaging.
Dogs, and their people, are responding to environmental conditions and other dog walkers and passersby are part of that too! By changing our own behaviour, and attitudes, toward other dog walkers, we can help everyone experience improved comfort while out and about.

There are lots of ways to help, be polite, and most of all, be kind.

Asking your dog to jump up on a higher surface, such as this ditch can create space for others to pass.

Teach your dog these behaviours when there are no distractions around, so that your dog learns the patterns when they’re most comfortable.

Practicing lots to establish “middle” and “Go Find It!“, and then cueing those games each time a distraction appears, will have your dog orienting to you cued by the appearance of another dog or distractions.

We can be polite even when out without our dogs. Our behaviour can have a big impact on other dogs’ comfort.

With a little compassion and less judgement, plus some behaviour change, we can support and encourage other dog owners. We’re all in this together and, we never know when we might need that same compassion, support & kindness.

Sniffing is for seniors too!

As someone who owns a very special and much loved senior dog, the promotion of improved enrichment for seniors is near and dear to my heart.

My silly senior. 11 years old, which is pretty old for his breed, but he continues to be nutty…long may that last!

I feel it’s important that we don’t pathologise aging or our aging dogs. While there is certainly discussion as to how far we treat aging as disease, I don’t want my default to helping them be the assumption that they are frail and failing.

The dog’s behaviour is information, including that of our aging dogs.

Aging is a multifactorial process, leading to decline right around the body, it is an individual process, requiring individual interventions.

Just like enrichment.

While dogs appear to be living longer lives, they are still here for a good time, not for a long time. Let’s make it a GOOD time!

Effects of aging such as the dog slowing down, sleeping more, appearing stiffness, are often normalised. Just because the dog is aging, doesn’t mean they should be in pain or experience discomfort.

It goes without saying that older dogs should be comfortable, living an enriched life, without pain!

Senior Dog Behaviour Matters too!

The current canine lifestage guidelines define senior dogs as those in the last quarter of expected lifespan (Creevy et al, 2019). 

Healthspan refers to the period of good health across life. Little is known about maximising canine healthspan.

Pet owners often recognise the common physical signs of aging, such as a greying muzzle, but subtle behaviour changes may be the first indicators of cognitive aging and be more challenging for us to spot (Landsberg et al, 2011).

In research, quantifiable measures of healthspan are not consistently established or applied.
Often assessments of liver, brain, heart, muscle, kidney & endocrine organ health, and of cancers, are included.

Cognitive performance, behaviour & QoL must be considered too…right? 

Future proofing

While future proofing is important, and often an automatic consideration, for puppies and young dogs, behaviour markers are still relevant to appropriately adjusting conditions to support older dogs.

We can prepare dogs for what’s to come, while also making sure that we don’t age them via our attitudes toward them.

Sensory and cognitive changes occur over life, and declines are particularly associated with aging.
Early diagnosis, and appropriate action and treatments, are important to maintaining the QoL for older dogs experiencing cognitive decline.

Keep a diary or log of your senior dog’s daily habits, behaviour and abilities. It’s tricky to spot changes in your dog, with whom you interact and see everyday.
Reviewing your log every week or two allows you to make more objective observations.

See an overview of cognitive aging in dogs here, from Chapagain et al, 2017.

Enriching their world

To help them, we might be implementing plenty of changes according to their current and future needs.

As they age, dogs become increasingly sensitive to change and day to day stressors (Fast et al, 2013).

Providing them with predictability and controllability, while creating change in tiny increments, will allow for better coping.

Develop predictable routines.

This doesn’t mean everything happens at the same time each day, but rather, that sequences of events have predictable outcomes for the dog and they can choose how they interact with that event.

When the dog does behaviour, there are predictable outcomes. Their behaviour matters and they have some control over what happens to them.

Feeling helpless and out of control may be experienced by aging humans, their behaviour becoming less meaningful often as result of good intentions on the parts of others (Minichiello et al, 2000) (Salarvand et al, 2007).

Along with changes we might be making, seniors dogs often experience changes that might impact daily routines.

For example, toileting routines.
Older dogs may need more regular toileting opportunities.
Make toileting more accessible and safe. Monitor them carefully so that you can get them out efficiently.

For example, change to eating patterns.
Feed smaller and more frequent meals, warm food and choose food dispensers that allow for the dog to comfortably pick up food.
Older dogs might require more palatable food so choosing softer feed might more yummier and more comfortable to eat.

Think “puppy proofing”, but for seniors.

Audit your car, home and garden, and consider places you take your dog, for accessibility and safety.

(These images are screengrabs from our webinar on senior dog support,
for training/behaviour pros.)

Senior dogs need more, not less

Senior dogs are often presumed to not do so much, to be lower maintenance, and to not need a lot of walks.

Enrichment provision, for any and all dogs, must be so much more than mere walks, and indeed may not include walks at all. So even if walks need to be adjusted, that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook!

Because pet owners often report their senior dogs sleep more, they believe less exercise, interaction and enrichment is required. Not true!

Aging certainly leads to changes to sleep/wake cycles, with senior dogs sleeping more during the day. They tend to wake more over night and wake earlier in the morning (Takeuchi & Harada 2002).

Indeed none of this means they need less of anything…there now needs to be more consideration for making sure they have good sleep, and that all the components to good sleep are provided appropriately.

Senior dogs need more consideration for enriched sleeping & resting.

Consider more choices for resting and sleeping locations, for bedding, and for comfort. They benefit from clear bedtime routines.

Facilitating safe and comfortable resting spots close to their humans during day to day routines helps with relationship building and comfortable resting.

Many older dogs may seek distance and seclusion, so provide comfortable & enriched choices for them.

Make observations about your senior’s resting choices and then provide an array of suitable options.

Senior dogs require more emotional support and assurance.

Provide seniors with more social interaction according to their preferences. That doesn’t mean that we coerce dogs into interacting…it means we be with them as they like it.

Talk to them more, hang out close to them more, bring them more places, do more things with them and close to them. All according to their comfort.

Aging dogs must have more appropriate challenge & enrichment in their lives!

Seniors benefit from:

They need more to maintain and improve their physical and cognitive health.

100 Days of Enrichment is absolutely suitable for aging dogs…for all dogs! Adjustments are individual, not age related.

Think about some of the behavioural and cognitive changes we might expect as dogs age and adjust challenges according to each individual.

More sniffing for seniors!

Aging coincides with cognitive and sensory decline. Olfaction tends to be the least and last affected, so sniffing can facilitate cognitive work-outs and encourage exploration into old age.

Cognitive decline, more so than age, is associated with reductions in exploratory behaviour (Rosado et al, 2012).

That’s why sniffing is a lifeblood for seniors.

Teach them sniffing games and make sniffing happen every day, many times a day.

It doesn’t need to be elaborate or complex. Here I simply toss food rewards into long grass for Ollie (from A Dog’s Life) to snuffle.

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Can old dogs learn new tricks?


Dogs are not too old to learn and be taught.
But adjustments to how we teach them and what we teach them will be necessary…the dog’s behaviour is information (no matter their age!).

They might need more reps and finer splitting of criteria…ya know…better teaching from us….

Dogs may become less efficient at  responding to cues that are delivered by sound or sight, and might find it hard to locate reinforcers on the ground, closer or further away.

This is no big deal, it just means we have to adapt and be better teachers.

Keep ’em lean!

Weight management is one of the most effective factors in mitigating age related changes and effects on health.

Obesity compounds aging in dogs, presenting as a form of accelerated aging (Tam et al, 2020). Being overweight shortens the life of dogs because it causes the production of many of the same metabolic abnormalities associated with age (Salt et al, 2018).

Caloric restriction, ideally through life, and maintaining healthy body condition extends lifespan and healthspan for dogs (Lawler et al, 2007) and other species too (Kaeberlein 2015). Maybe even giving us about two years more with our dogs (Kealy et al, 2002) (Lawler et al, 2008)…now that’s priceless!

Keep ’em moving!

Appropriate physical exercise slows body damage due to aging by influencing metabolic dysfunction (Gremeaux et al, 2012). It helps to maintain lean mass, strengthen and tone, and provide behavioural outlets.

Aging dogs require physical exercise (Pop et al, 2010) appropriate to their health.

As for all dogs, their responses and behaviour are information about what they need. Recognise the effects of physical exercise and adjust accordingly.

Consider adding supportive physical therapies to the aging dogs’ routine too. I recommend Canine Conditioning Coach, and she has an excellent
senior program.

Pet Owners Need Support too!

Many challenges affecting the human-dog relationship are presented as humans and dogs age.

Culturally, we have funny attitudes to aging. The relative rapidity with which dogs age not only provides us with an understanding of aging, but reminds us of what lies ahead for ourselves!

Senior dogs show greying hair, loss of body condition, reductions in activity and changes in attitude to their world. They may show increases and changes to vocalising behaviour, toileting, appetite and may appear confused at times.

These changes, and the rest, can exert considerable pressure on the human-canine relationship, leading to significant requirements in terms of emotional and financial resources on the part of owners.

Monitor your senior pet’s health & behaviour. CAM provides a useful guide to monitor changes here; although relevant to OA, is also useful in monitoring other age related changes.

For a further understanding of the impacts of age on the human-canine relationship, McCune & Promislow, 2021, provide a lovely overview of mutual aging among our species’. provides plenty of guidance for pet owners with aging dogs.

“Care-giver burden” has been identified in owners of dogs with chronic illnesses, using models designed for human patients and their carers, (Spitznagel et al, 2019) (Spitznagel et al, 2019) (Spitznagel et al, 2017) as the strain or load borne by carers of aged and/or chronically ill loved ones.

Maximising healthy aging in dogs is not just good for dogs, but also contributes to improved quality of life for their humans.

Why sniffing?

Sniffing ticks so many boxes for dogs and they already do it really really well. We don’t have to teach them to sniff, or teach them to life it. It’s kinda their thing!

We might need some adjustments to make sure it works for the individual, but we’re doing that for dogs of all ages anyway.

Here we have sniffing and snuffling on some soft, non-slip blankets for senior, Benny:

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#100 Days Of Enrichment provides so many ideas and ways to enrich your dog’s life, each one is adjustable for suit individuals as they age.

Maybe we have to alter puzzles so that the dog can do them lying down, maybe we need to bring the fun to them rather than them going to the challenge.

Try Day 76 Sniffari or Day 81 Bringing the Smellside Inside!.
Most challenges have a sniffing component so any and all will add more fun for your senior.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

— George Bernard Shaw

Keep ’em young

Aging is inevitable. But how they age, doesn’t have to be. Keeping them active, lean, challenged and their world enriched helps to keep them young.

Don’t get caught in pathologising their age, or mourning for times gone by. Start increasing sniffing games and opportunities today. Add more not less for your senior.

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Almost all the photos in this post, of Decker, are since his 11th birthday and all the rest are since he was 10.5. Am Staffs are not long lived (average 10-12yo) so I’m conscious we are living on borrowed time. He remains very active; hiking off leash for 6-10km 3-5 times a week and swimming 30-60 mins in the ocean 3-5 times a week. He busted his cruciate in a traumatic injury when he was nine, then suffered intussusception & impaction soon after so has never recovered his original fitness or condition, likely due to age. So while he’s fit for his age, he probably would have been better without that drama.
I am making sure he lives every day to the fullest so if today is his last day, it was such a good day, filled with all his absolute favourites and absolutely no regreats.

Barkside of the Moon

Do you podcast?

My awesome trainer buddy, Graham, has an excellent podcast called Barkside of the Moon (available where you get your podcasts!) (@barksidepod)

We started talking quite regularly about this time last year, so this is a bit of an anniversary posting!

We started with a series looking at supporting dogs as we moved into a post-COVID world with episodes covering:

  • Car Travel
  • Separation Related Behaviours
  • Visitors to the house
  • Working from Home

And then we dived into a long list of episodes looking at all things dog:

  • Adolescence
  • “Socialisation”/Dog-Dog Interactions
  • Preparing for the Arrival of a Baby
  • Managing Children & Dogs
  • Enrichment
  • Managing Multi-Dog Households
  • “Dangerous” Dogs

We have also produced a series on everything puppy:

  • How does a puppy become a great dog?
  • Before puppy comes home
  • Puppy’s home. Now what?
  • Toilet training
  • Sleeping at night
  • Play & Mental Exercise

…and soon to come episodes on Management & Passive Training and Resource Guarding & Handling Comfort.

This has been a really fun project to have been involved with, with all kudos going to Graham for his energy and efforts. I just tune in and talk!

We’ve had lovely feedback from listeners and welcome your ideas for topics we can talk about, as we’ve plenty more to say!

Tune in and let us know what you think.

April Courses Ready For You!

We have two courses available to apply and book right now!

Our new Safe Dog Handling & Interactions online course plus our very popular Online Canine First Aid course is back for another run, starting later this month.

We have lots of other courses that you can start any time too! More here.

Safe Dog Handling & Interactions online course

We are excited to get started with this new format and now applications are open!

Apply here!

Online Canine First Aid Course

This is one of our most popular programs ever and it’s back for another run, starting at the end of April.

You might wonder how this works in an online format, and truth be told, we were worried about that too. But, there was no need to worry at all as it has been overwhelmingly successful with wonderful and full participation and feedback from our participants.

This two part online workshop is packed full of vital information, discussion & questions, and lots of practical demonstration and practice. Yep, we practice skills even though we’re not in the same room!

More about this workshop here.

Our next start date is Saturday 22nd April for Part 1, followed by Part 2 on 6th May.

Please do get in touch should you have any questions about our courses. We would love for you to join us and certainly, every pet owner and pro needs to do our Online Canine First Aid workshop!

Take care for Easter!

Human holidays often present extra risks for dogs simply because humans are distracted and busy, routines are out of whack and management often slips through the cracks.

All completely normal but can lead to pretty serious issues for dogs, and other pets too.

Veterinary personnel continue to be over-run with emergency chocolate ingestions all weekend, with so much emesis induction and a lot of chocolatey messes to clean up!
Despite this being such a well known hazard, the extra excitement of the Season, and our entire approach to hiding chocolate eggs before the day, and on the day, leads to lots of accidental exposure.

Of course, we can’t really expect to be able to hide anything as yummy as chocolate from our dogs’ noses so much extra care is required when we think we are putting them away from prying eyes. Think about those prying noses too!

While chocolate is certainly star of the show, raisins/sultanas in hotcross buns, lilies (all part of the plant) and Easter treats and decorations can be dangerous if ingested. Have your emergency vet’s details to hand this week!

Extra excitement, and a general raised background level of stress that so often comes with human celebrations (particularly ones involving so much chocolate!), requires extra attention to child-dog supervision and management.

More separation before there’s tension is best for Easter!

Dogs don’t need to participate in Easter Egg Hunts, given that excitement and the ‘hiding’ of possibly dangerous chocolate treats.

Costumes and pressure to pose can ramp up the pressure even more, increasing dogs’ sensitivity and discomfort.

Think about using emojis and filters instead to create those perfect snaps!

You can have doggie fun for Easter too! Scavenger hunts are great fun, even without chocolate eggs! Hide their favourite treats and toys.

Don’t forget Easter Egg boxes; they are great for puzzles!

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Have some wonderful (& safe) Springtime celebrations, no matter how you celebrate!

New Online Course: Safe Dog Handling & Interactions

As much as we love dogs, we must recognise that they can inflict serious injury, especially where our goals and theirs are in conflict. Developing an awareness for how we interact with and handle dogs, particularly unfamiliar dogs, is vital for our safety, and also the welfare of dogs for whom we care.
Dogs who display behaviour we may feel is unsafe, or behaviour that presents risks to human safety, are most often experiencing strong responses relating to stress or fear, for example. And those behaviours are usually in response to ours.

Register here or email and we will add your name to the list.

Our new online Safe Dog Handling & Interactions course emphasise developing a good understanding of canine stress related behaviours, which are commonly misinterpreted, so as to reduce their stress, improve welfare and maintain safety. 

We have offered this in-person workshop to County Councils, dog wardens, pound staff and park wardens, as well as lots of dog-pros, around the country for many years, and continue to do so. And now, we have an online course too to make it more accessible and convenient! 

Right now, we are taking registrations and places are limited. We prefer to keep our groups very small so everyone gets all the support and guidance needed, that are an integral part of our courses.

Register here or email and we will add your name to the list.
Once applications open, in the next week or so, we will send out application information to all those registered.

Goals of this course:

  • develop knowledge, skill & awareness to devise policies and procedures relating to safe handling and interactions with dogs
  • understand the relationship between canine stress behaviours and human safety
  • recognise environmental contributors to changes in canine behaviour
  • build on awareness of the dangers associated with handling and interacting with dogs
  • emphasise awareness of our own behaviour in maintaining safety & comfort
  • use tools and strategies to prevent causing canine aggressive responding and in diffusing aggression
  • maintain safety and avoid serious injury 
  • build safe behaviours and procedures in interactions with dogs
  • maintain canine comfort to avoid escalations in stress responses through environmental modifications, awareness of your own behaviour and the application of appropriate tools & techniques
  • become empowered with skills and understanding that contributes not just to personnel safety, but also health
  • prioritise maintaining canine welfare and human safety

You get:

  • 24/7 access to the course online area, from anywhere, for six months
  • multi-media learning resources for viewing and downloading
  • all content presented as mini-lectures (written presentations for reading) covering a wide array of related topics presented in small-ish bites so that you can take time to process and analyse
  • video demos so that you can view and practice practical skills regularly
  • comment facility at the online course area for participation, enquiries, interactions
  • access to a private Facebook group for real-time feedback and guidance
  • regular live online meetings
  • ongoing online interaction with fellow-students and your tutor as we take this journey of discovery together
  • tons of tutor feedback, guidance and support

Register here or email and we will add your name to the list. Once applications open, in the next week or so, we will send out application information to all those registered.

Course Details:


Our new Safe Dog Handling & Interactions online course starts on Saturday 15th April, at 7pm. There are four online meetings on this course, and each meeting is recorded for review. You are encouraged to attend live, particularly to the first meeting to get the best value from course content. 
Dates for the four class meetings: 

  • Saturday 15th April, 7pm
  • Sunday 14th May, 7pm
  • Saturday 17th June, 7pm
  • Sunday 9th July, 7pm 

Each class is two hours long but will run longer with questions and discussion. All times are ROI (Republic of Ireland) times. 


All classes are online so you can participate from anywhere!


This really is vital information for ALL dog pros including trainers, behaviour pros, groomers, walkers, sitters, boarders, day-carers, kennel carers, rescue folks, petshop peeps…everyone who works with or hangs out with dogs! Pet owners and dog-hobbyists will also benefit, developing a thorough understanding of canine comfort and of our behaviour in maintaining their welfare. 
It’s accessible for all, it’s sustainable and most of all, you can participate from the comfort of your own home, with your pets by your side. 

How long? 

Each online class is two hours long and will run longer with discussion and questions. 
Assessment work will be discussed and started after each live class, and then reviewed during our next meeting. This gives you about a month to work on starting relevant assessment and then troubleshoot when we meet. After our online meetings have ended, you will have until 2nd September to complete your assessment portfolio and submit. 
While deadlines are important to provide guidance, we appreciate that individuals may find that daunting. Please don’t worry about these timelines as we will work with each learner flexibly to support you in gaining the most from course work (and for some, that might not mean the completion of formal assessment work!). 

How much?

The full course costs €180.00 which must be paid in full before the first meeting. Payment plans are available and you are encouraged to discuss your needs with us. 

What will I learn about? 

  • relevant legislation & professional responsibilities
  • policy & procedure development
  • environmental assessments
  • professional & challenging environments
  • home environments
  • public settings
  • recognising & understanding canine stress & its effects on behaviour, welfare & safety
  • preventing escalations & diffusing stressful interactions
  • understanding the conditions under which stress-related behaviours occur
  • environmental supports to maintain & improve the welfare of dogs in your care
  • handler behaviour & skills
  • interacting with dogs safely & sensitively
  • maintaining human and canine welfare
  • considerations for human mental health
  • practical handling skills & tool use

Assessment work is compiled as a portfolio of works that are directly applicable to interactions with dogs. You will include works in your portfolio relevant to your areas of interest.

Please see more about studying with AniEd here. You will be asked to agree to terms & conditions at application, and before you pay. Please get in touch should you have any questions about this course.

Register here or email and we will add your name to the list. Once applications open, in the next week or so, we will send out application information to all those registered.