Covid 19 and the Painted Dogs of Africa

Dee4dogs is proud to continue supporting the work of the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) at the Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) project in Zimbabwe.

These beautiful animals are already endangered and under even greater threat due to the disastrous effects that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the income of local people. Poaching is on the increase. Snares are being set to catch bush meat such as antelope, unfortunately as these animals are part of the painted dog diet they often get caught and horrendously maimed or killed.

The APU work has never been more important (see newspaper report below) and their dogs are vital members of the team who need care and attention, such as regular treatment for flea and tick infestations (each pack costs £30). If you would like to make a small donation it can be made via this link:

Newspaper report: NOVEMBER 9, 2020

Four poachers who were arrested over the weekend for killing 5 buffalo and 2 kudus were sentenced in Hwange court to an effective 18 months each, plus restitution to the (ZimParks) of US$48 000 for the buffalo and US$ 4 500 for the kudu.

The poachers were arrested after they were tracked by a combined team of PAINTED DOG CONSERVATION Anti-Poaching (PDC) rangers, Bhejane Trust Rhino Monitors and National Parks.

The poachers had hidden their kit and meat at their base camp hidden in the hills in the Deka Tail concession, bordering the Sinamatella area.

However, the poachers had left the camp, so the team continued to track them. For the next 5km, the poachers were anti-tracking, but when they thought they were clear, they headed straight for their home village.

The team followed, and some 28km from the base, they came to the poacher’s home village – by now it was getting dark.

They waited until everything in the village settled down and went to sleep, and then raided the houses – by now PDC HAD BROUGHT IN A K9 SNIFFING DOG to help.

They arrested four of the poachers, but another three escaped, but are known and are on the run. They recovered meat and various incriminating items.

The four poachers confessed to the poaching, led the team to their snare lines which were removed, and gave a lot of valuable information on all the poaching syndicates in the area.

How to find a good trainer for you and your dog

Finding a good dog trainer can be a bit of a lottery unless you know where to look. There are some brilliant people out there doing excellent work to help families and their dogs to enjoy life together. Sadly there are still those who are out of date with their knowledge and talk about dominance and being a pack leader. They use unkind and unpleasant techniques which can often worsen the problem behaviour.

They are wrong, they cause unnecessary suffering to dogs and their families.

Vets and personal recommendations can be useful sources of information but my Google analytics tell me that most people look for a ‘dog trainer near me’. So how do you choose the right one?

Google and Facebook can be your friends. They give you access to the language the trainer uses to talk about their work e.g. reward, positive reinforcement, trust, relationship and so on. If you browse their background it should tell you something about their professional development and qualifications. Reviews can be useful, but as we all know they can be manufactured.

Dog training is strewn with acronyms, some hard-earned and some simply paid for. Usefully the Animal Behaviour & Training Council lists accredited organisations who regularly assess and monitor their members’ skills and CPD.

You could give the trainer a call to help get a feel for how they work, whether they sound genuinely interested in your dog and helping you.

Some time spent on research and getting the right trainer is well worth it, for you and your dog.

When Lockdown ends

We don’t know what changes the near future is going to bring to our lives.

What we can be sure of is that many dogs will find the loss of near constant companionship distressing and it may trigger a range of behaviour problems.

Research quoted by the RSPCA found that 8 out of 10 dogs don’t cope when they are left alone but most don’t show obvious signs such as chewing, barking or toileting.

Coping when left alone doesn’t come naturally to dogs so what can we do to prepare them?

  • begin to leave them alone for short periods of time
  • give them an enjoyable activity to occupy them e.g. stuffed Kong, snuffle mat
  • make sure to return before they have finished their activity or become distressed
  • yo-yo the time, leave them for e.g. 3s, 5s, 2s, 7s, 10s, 4s and so on
  • repeat this as many times in a day as you can manage

Consider what your daily routine is likely to be and begin to alter your dog’s activities to fit. For example, if you are home schooling your children, your dog could learn to be left alone during lessons.

Try to work with your dog so that their confidence increases and NEVER punish them for showing you that they are distressed. It will make matters worse. If you need help and advice please contact me on 0794 1122737 or you may find the links below helpful:

Social distancing and your puppy

Reward your puppy for watching the world go by with a a treat or praise.

Since my last blog, the scares about our pets potentially carrying Covid 19 have vastly reduced the opportunities to socialise our puppies with strangers in the traditional way. Many people will not want to interact with a puppy even if we maintain our own social distance. So we have to be a little bit more inventive.

In addition to the suggestions made previously, teach them to sit and wait as people maintain their social distance and pass by. In this way we can teach puppies to sit to greet strangers more easily when restrictions relax. Look for signs that your puppy may be nervous such as, hanging back, lip licking, yawning, scratching. If so move a little further away and sprinkle several, small, very tasty treats on the floor for your puppy to sniff and find.

Whichever technique we use we are teaching puppies that people approaching mean good things are coming from us. As pups mature they naturally become more fearful of new things in their world and we can counteract that by making sure they have lots of positive experiences when they are very young. For ideas of activities to help your puppy, see my previous blog Covid 19 and puppy socialisation.

Covid 19 and puppy socialisation

We all know that puppies need to get out and about to learn about the world.

We all want our puppy to grow into a friendly, confident dog

The current restrictions on social distancing are making this more difficult but not impossible

It is vital to give our puppies as much appropriate socialisation as we can in these early months

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Your puppy needs to learn about their new home and to trust their new family through gentle encouragement, handling and play
  • A houseline attached to your puppy’s collar can help you manage them easily when necessary. You can use it to prevent jumping up, chasing the cat, etc so you can reward them for doing the right thing
  • Your puppy doesn’t have to be vaccinated to go for ‘walks’, carry them along the street, take short car trips to new places where they can sit on your lap, watch the world go by and have some snacks
  • As your puppy becomes more confident, introduce changes in your appearance and new things at home using, for example, hats, rucksack, mask, wig, umbrella and so on. Give them safe packaging to explore and play with, put some of their food in as encouragment
  • When your puppy is able to walk away from home you can use the houseline or a 2m Double Ended lead (e.g. Halti®)to allow them a 3 second meeting with any safe dog you meet (if they want to) while maintaining social distancing recommendations. Make sure you reward them well for coming away with you
  • Let your puppy interact with as many people as possible using equipment which will allow you to maintain social distance. Some may be nervous of this, in which case sprinkle a few treats on the floor for your pup to find and eat as the person passes by

Adolescence has arrived!

Over the last 3 months Sully has continued to visit beaches, sheep, woods, horses, shops and fields, meeting people and friendly dogs. He has also had a lovely house-sitter take care of him, and Braccy, for 2 weeks while I was away. He is very handy round the home as he loves biting water from the hosepipe, sweeping leaves and mowing the lawn. Very recently he tried his paws at garden landscaping!

At 7 months Sully is no longer a biddable puppy but an adolescent with his own ideas which may not always coincide with mine! For example, coming indoors used to be easy but he has learned that mostly it means that I am going out so now he is reluctant to do so. Not even for food

It is easy to become frustrated especially if time is tight, but getting cross won’t fix this. So firstly I call him in my normal recall voice, in the vain hope he will respond, then I go part way down the garden, turn and call ‘ready, steady, run’ and we run into the house together. Then his reward will be waiting on his bed

On a positive note I can see the handsome and lovely boy he will become and it makes my heart swell with love and pride – just before I discover another hole in the lawn!

4 months old already

Sully has now lived with me for more than half his life! The last month has been a whirlwind of learning how to manage his new experiences, rest, exercise and play which are changing as he grows up. I try to ensure a new experience each day along with at least one 10 to 15 minute walk in fields or woods. His walks consist of a lot of stopping and sniffing, listening and looking and not a great deal of walking. Puppies have a lot to learn about the world and I believe it is important to let them take their time.

Sully started Puppy School last week, practising the skills he has learned at home and meeting other puppies. The group is real mixture of breeds; Boxer, German Shepherd, Border Terrier, Cocker Spaniel x Poodle as well as Sully, which is great experience for all the pups.

He has also generally became more likely to bite for no obvious reason. That told me that he is teething and has some discomfort from his adult teeth cutting through. Whenever I notice him chewing something I quickly offered him a suitable item. As I feed my dogs a raw diet Sully has been gnawing on bones straight from the freezer. (Some puppies enjoy frozen vegetables or you can freeze their food in a Kong®) His need to chew will continue for the next few months as he grows and his teeth settle into his jaws so I need to make sure I have a good supply of bones and chews. I DO know where I can get some great chews from, if you need some get in touch!

Sully 3 weeks on

Life now has a routine based around Sully and his needs, my work and caring for Braccy and Bingo. He’s still on 4 meals a day but supper will no longer be served after the weekend.

He has several very short training sessions each day so he’s learning to stay still for handling, grooming and toweling. Also sit, down and stand. We also play the follow me game which is basically a baby version of walking on a lead nicely.

Sully loves to play tug and fetch. I try to change the toys he plays with each day. Much of this is from the recycling bin, cardboard boxes or tubes with treats hidden inside, milk containers with stones/water/rice or nothing inside. Once he’s finished with them they go back into the bin.

He has met some very nice dogs and played, visited pet shops, watched some horses grazing, sat on a bench and watched traffic and people pass by, yesterday he went to Go Outdoors. We have just returned from his 3rd visit to the vets to be weighed. Over the next few weeks I will continue to broaden his positive experiences with the outside world.

Sully’s first day

The journey to collect Sully, my 8 wk old Border Collie puppy, from his breeder was one of mixed emotions. I was excited to bring him home and start our new life together but still grieving for the unexpected loss of my young dog last year.

That face!

I prepared his travelling crate with fleecy bedding from my house and his breeder’s. I used Pet Remedy, a natural product which has a calming effect on cats, dogs and other species. Despite this, he spent half the journey telling everyone he had been kidnapped. Every time he looked like he was falling asleep he cried again.

I carefully introduced him to my older dog (Braccy) and cat (Bingo) using a light collar and houseline (see earlier blog) to manage him and keep all of them feeling safe. We explored the garden together. He went to the toilet, had his dinner and supper.

At bedtime it took a while to settle him in his pen and all seemed well. I got up the next day to find he had climbed out the pen, eaten the cat’s food and litter tray contents and was asleep in Braccy’s bed!

What does puppy socialisation mean?

Many owners believe that socialisation is allowing their puppy meets as many dogs as possible.

But it is so much more than that

Puppies need to learn about the living world, people, cats, cows, sheep, dogs, swans, horses etc. There are different shapes and sizes in all of the above

They also need to learn about ‘stuff’, wheelie bins, doorbells, vacuum cleaners, hot ovens, stairs, cars, smoke alarms and so on

Good breeders raise puppies in their home and help them to gain confidence with daily, gentle, new experiences so that they are more likely to slot into their new home with few problems.

Their early environment can be crucial for some pups, if they have had limited experiences, maybe living in a kennel or stable, then moving to a new home can be a difficult time for them. They have so much more to cope with than a well-raised puppy.

But you can help by building their confidence with new experiences which can be as simple as putting their food into several pieces of scrunched up paper in a cardboard box or taking them out to sit on your lap to watch the world go by. It could involve a car trip to a local pet shop or sitting in a car park watching vehicles and shopping trolleys pass by.

The most important thing is that your puppy enjoys the experience. If you watch they will show how they are feeling.

It is good sign if your puppy has a relaxed face and is taking treats happily. Yawning and mouth-licking usually mean that the puppy is anxious not, as many people think, tired and hungry.

Particular care needs to be taken with puppies when meeting other dogs to make sure that they are not worried or have a bad experience. Make sure that the dog wants to meet up, ask the owner to have them on lead so that you can allow your puppy to approach as close as is comfortable for them. Keep the meeting brief and move on. Protect your puppy from bouncy, friendly dogs as well as aggressive dogs. Early scary experiences will have a lifelong impact and sometimes can cause pups to grow up to be aggressive when on the lead.

If you think enrolling on to a puppy party might be useful then visit without your puppy so that you can be sure that pups are carefully supervised and it is not a free for all. If you decide to take your puppy and you are concerned for them then intervene, help them out if they need it.

Try to make sure your puppy has one new enjoyable experience each day.

Finally do make sure they get plenty of rest; learning about the world can be exhausting.

And have fun!

Meeting a new person means getting a treat from them, you will need a good supply with you