Finding the perfect present for your pet

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More Than Insurance have launched a handy pet present finder. Just choose between dog or cat and select your budget to view some special and unusual gifts for your favourite pet this Christmas.

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I have recommended the Pets Pyjamas Personalised Treat Box. It’s a firm favourite in our house for treating Lupo when we’re buying presents for everyone else. Scroll through to find my name here! www.petpresentfinder.co.uk

RSPCA shakes up Christmas

If you thought 2012’s ‘The Snowman and the Snowdog’ was a tear-jerker, the RSPCA’s brand new video ‘The Snowglobe’  will leave you in more of a puddle than a snowman.

Sadly, the run-up to Christmas is not always a joyful one for animals and the video highlights the fact the festive period means a sharp rise in calls to the RSPCA’s animal cruelty hotline.

Last year saw the highest number of calls ever to the RSPCA over the festive period, with 11,089 calls between Christmas Eve and New Years Day- with 1,140 of those on Christmas Day alone.

“The film may be a hard watch for some, but it’s cleverly designed to awaken people to the scale of the issue,” said Emily Munford, RSPCA head of digital media.

“This is something that isn’t going away, but with the help of this video and the support of the public, we believe we can make a real difference,” she added.

The film is part of the RSPCA’s winter campaign. In December alone, the RSPCA are expecting over 70,000 calls to their cruelty hotline, with as many as 23,000 animals in serious need of help.

To support the RSPCA’s winter campaign text RESCUE to 84010 to donate £3*

Experiencing Autumn with your family dog

Enjoy Autumn Mornings

You really can’t beat an autumn morning, can you? Air so crisp and fresh you can see each breath. Golden leaves falling from the trees, giving that satisfying crunch under your boots. Bright sunshine, but chilly enough to wrap up in a warm coat and soft scarf. It’s my favourite time of year, especially when it comes to walking with my dog in the local forest. Plus, the photos you can capture make hauling yourself out of bed when it’s just getting light, so worth it.IMG_0054

If your dog is anything like mine, other dogs prove somewhat of a distraction on walks. So get up and beat the other dog walkers to it. Forget that lie in this weekend, get yourself out to your local park, grab your camera and some dog treats and capture the magic of an autumn morning with your best friend.

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You may be thinking dogs are not capable of playing hide and seek. Well my friend, I would ask you, have you ever tried with your dog? On many occasion you will find me darting behind a tree on a walk with Lupo as he edges slightly ahead. Autumn is the perfect time of year for this game, as there is still enough cover from trees and plants to give us owners a head start against those super senses your dog boasts. Our game of hide and seek started as a way to make him stay close to us as a puppy, but nearly five years later I’m still hiding from him just to see the two seconds of pure joy on his face when he finds me.

Hide and seek with your dog can be played with multiple players or just one. If I hide, my husband will tell Lupo to find me. If I’m on my own, I’ll just wait for Lupo to turn around and wonder where I am. Sometimes we don’t have to say anything, just hold two hands out in front of us – the universal dog sign for ‘where is it?’ and Lupo will be off searching behind every suitable tree he thinks the other person may be crunching behind. I hold my hand out when he’s clocked me, so he bashes his nose into that like a Dobermann version of tag.

The only downside is, he’s pretty rubbish at hiding himself…

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Making Memories

Let’s face it, dogs force us to get outdoors, even on those days we’d really rather stay on the sofa with just Netflix for company. Now we have a child, it’s a military operation just getting out the door with all hats, boots, coats and dog all present and correct. But exercise is important for our dogs mental well-being as well as their health, so before heavy rain, snow and ice hit in the depths of winter, we’re enjoying autumn walks as a family.

We’re lucky enough to live right next to 500 acres of ancient woodland, that I’m pretty sure Lupo considers his extended back garden. The enjoyment for him begins right at this moment. Being let of the lead after the weekdays of lead road walking, has got to feel really good. Here he is filmed in slo-mo, and looking not too dissimilar to a racing greyhound…

Every walk brings the same view for me, but each walk through your dogs eyes is an adventure. The enemy (Squirrels) often step out of line and need reminding they belong in trees. There are new smells to be sniffed, sticks to be chewed and balls to be chased (and not brought back).

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But now there is someone else to protect on your walks. Someone who laughs the hardest as you run as fast as the wind. Someone who wants to give you every stick she sees just to see you crunch it to bits. Someone for whom you’ll be a fond memory in years to come looking at photos. Someone who’ll be playing hide and seek with you, for as long as you want to find her.

IMG_1674This post is my contribution to Forest Holidays 30 autumnal experiences feature.

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Guilt and Making Changes

For a couple of weeks every year, we send Lupo on his holidays. Most of the time it’s because we are abroad, but there is also a time when our dog walker goes on holiday. So with no family in the same city and not really wanting to trust neighbours with walking our first baby, Lupo is packed off to my in-laws home. He loves it, as they no longer work he has someone at his disposal 24/7 to follow around and get fussed over.

We are lucky they love him as much as we do, as I do recognise he is hard work and not everyone’s cup of tea with his fondness for human company. As we dropped him off, Lupo timed a long drink of water, followed by a sharp shake of his head, chops slapping and drool flying…straight into my father in law’s cup of tea. Graceful and elegant, this dog is not.

Usually every morning I come downstairs and receive, what is affectionately known as, being Dober-Poked. When his big wet nose is planted on my jeans, with some force. He also curls his top lip up and smiles at us. So it’s a strange time and as I sit here on the sofa without Lupo leaning on me and trying to nick my blanket. I am led to imagine what life would be like without him around.

I remember losing family dogs and the first thing I could think of was regretting any time I had ever shouted at the dog to get out the way/stop eating what they shouldn’t or not doing what I ask (obviously due to lack of training on my part, never the dog). This is what runs through my mind every time Lupo tests my patience. That if something were to happen to him, I’d regret every minute I didn’t spend appreciating him as just a great dog.

When I first had to leave Lupo and go to work, after us taking a month off work between us as puppy paternity leave, I felt incredibly guilty leaving him. Perhaps I shouldn’t have a dog if I can’t be there all day? Perhaps he’ll hate us for leaving him? Perhaps he’ll love the dog walker more than me?! Owning a dog can make you feel terribly guilty for a lot of decisions you have to make. But it’s never too late to change things.

I’ve been thinking about Lupo’s food for while. I feel guilty we feed him tinned meat and dry food that contains a small amount of real meat and all manner of animal parts that aren’t fit for human consumption – so why am I feeding this to my dog? Sure it’s very easy for us to buy, store and give to him readily, but is it really best for him? There are all manner of ‘premium’ dry dog foods, but we’ve tried them and he, understandably, gets bored very easily with them. After a lot of reading recently, I’ve come to agree with the evidence that suggests dogs aren’t built for this over processed food we give them.

So this is going to be the first post in our journey of switching to raw feeding. I’ve no idea how it will pan out, but while he’s not here I can start making plans, reading more and preparing to start feeding him a mixture of bone, meat and organs. The food a carnivore is supposed to eat. There are multiple benefits to raw feeding, which I will share in more detail as I go, but I hope to see in Lupo an improvement in muscle tone and his body shape, a reduction of the dry skin he gets on his back and the smaller and less frequent end product of feeding him raw food. Oh yes, we’ll be talking poo, people.

I hope you’ll join us on our journey and at the very least I hope it makes you consider making a change with your dog, whatever that may be. Stroke them instead of shouting, walk them instead of watching Eastenders or feed them a juicy bone because you love them. Remember, you may regret it if you don’t.

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How to make your dog happy

Some dogs are happiest in the great outdoors, others cosy on the sofa. Your dog may love the company of other dogs, but someone else’s may prefer human company. Mine is, as his nick name goes, is happiest when he is glued to my side and following me from room to room. When he’s had enough of me, there are his beloved blankets of course. He’s also partial to our corner sofa with a view of the street, for his afternoon nap… dobermann Like us, every dog is different, but there is nothing better than a happy dog. I’ve been inspired by things I’ve read and watched online these past few weeks, so here are my top five ways to make your dog happy (OK they may inadvertently make you smile and laugh too, but that’s cool). 1. Take your dog to the beach, but don’t forget to strap a GoPro camera to him first. The end of this video is the best bit, you can see the pure joy this dog has for swimming!   2. Fashion your dog a giant spider costume and let them be the star of their own horror film. This is the best video I’ve seen for a long time.   3. Always thought your dog has super powers? Turn him into a real hero with a white sheet and a few Sharpies. Check out the Instagram account below for more fab drawings with Jimmy Choo the English Bull Terrier.

4. Dogs love to play and dogs love food. Blow their tiny minds and combine the two with an interactive feeder game from Swell Pets. Lupo has one of these and I need a towel on standby when he’s playing due to the drool! A great sign of course.   5. You may think your dog is badly behaved if he doesn’t come when you call him, but what if he hates the name you chose for him? Give your dog a name that won’t see him hiding in the bushes in shame when you shout it in the park. That means you, Paris. ‘Prince Hilton Mr Amazing’ is not a suitable dog name.

Velcro Dog’s September Favourites

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Christmas came early for Velcro Dog this month and this post shares our favourite treats and toys to give you some inspiration for shopping for your pooch.

Lupo’s new best friend is a soft toy duck, that came in the first ever Pawsome Box (£19.90 a month), a subscription treat service for dogs. This duck doesn’t have any stuffing and has lasted a good few weeks without me having to throw it out in disgust!

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The rest of the box contained some banana treats which didn’t excite him as much as I thought they would, as he loves real banana. The raw hide bone was gone in an instant (and is only a rare treat as they aren’t vey good for their insides). There was a dog whistle, ear drops and a yellow plastic bone. Whilst this bone doesn’t have the appeal of a Nyla bone with him, it’s good to have to bring out on rotation – anyone else rotate toys for their dogs or just me? Also a good tip for kids!

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We’ve also been trying a new product from the Beco Ball family. The solid ball we have from them, made from rice husk, is still going strong and surviving being left in the garden most days. This new ball is hollow so you can place treats inside for the dog to move around to free them. A similar concept to the Kong, and Lupo enjoys food based games! My only concern is this Beco Ball is a little small for him. If we need a King size Kong, I’m afraid most other things must also be giant size.

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Those are our favourites from this month, have you found any new products you think we should check out?

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

A few months ago I shared with you details of a competition FRONTLINE Spot On are running on their Facebook page, to find the UK’s most dedicated pet owner.

This is a reminder that entries close on the 10th September, so head on over to their page and get your entry in www.facebook.com/frontlinespoton

It is quite timely that just this week was the first time Lupo caught fleas, and I found myself Googling how to get rid of them on a sunday night when all the shops are closed and I hadn’t thought ahead and bought FRONTLINE (I have now!).

It all starts with one person saying, ‘the dog seems to be scratching a lot’, watching said dog and repeating phrase until you think you’d better check it out in the manner of a chimpanzee helping out a friend in need.Thankfully Lupo’s short coat means fleas are easily spotted. I don’t know what you long haired dog owners do apart from reach for the clippers. I only saw two fleas on Lupo, which he must have picked up on a weekend walk in the woods, as it wasn’t an infestation or anything.

After some internet based top tip searching, I picked both fleas from his coat with my thumb and forefinger and filled a bowl with water. Now this is the clever bit (I’m actually getting geeky over fleas, I know) If you put a flea in water it will simply float to the edge and jump out – yep, they are good at that. So you need to give the bowl a good helping of washing up liquid or other soap based product, swill it around and then dunk the flea to it’s death. The soap means they don’t float and drown a slow and possibly painful death. but don’t let that put you off hey.

If you’ve got a bit more than two of the little beggars setting up camp on your furry friend, there are loads of ways you can coax them away from their host over night. My favourites were the soapy bowl as detailed above, left in front of a TV in a dark room over night. Apparently they are attracted to light and heat and will navigate towards the TV and fall to their death in your soap water. The same premise works with lighting a candle, but obviously don’t leave this over night, unattended.

These tips are to fill in the time before you can get to the shops and buy FRONTLINE of course and then if you keep the treatment up, you shouldn’t need to be mixing soapy water at all hours of the night like I did. Learn from my mistakes people!

Good luck if you’re entering the competition, can’t wait to find out who’s won!