There's a lot of talk about dogs in hot weather when we are lucky enough to be graced with sunshine in Britain so I'm sharing some beneficial hot dog advice and other information. If you already own a dog or are thinking of getting one - there's still time to teach an old dog new tricks :)
I met up with Alison Samways of Pittville Pets and asked her for some dog-friendly tips...
ALISON'S DOG FRIENDLY TIPS
1) In hot weather, return from your early dog walk before 11am. If temperatures reach around 19/20 degrees it's time to start thinking about replacing walks with other activities in a cool environment. Some dogs like paddling pools in the garden - if your dog isn't a fan of a full body soak you can cool its belly and chest with a wet cloth instead.
2) Dogs instinctively know when enough is enough with sunbathing and will usually return to the shade or a cool floor when they've had a good bask in the sun but sometimes it's best to coax them inside when they feel silly-hot to the touch.
3) Avoid letting kids pet hot dogs. Sometimes heat can make pooches snappy and short-tempered and they just want to be left alone. It's not fair putting them or the kids in this position and then blaming them for getting aggressive.
4) Don't take them out in the car if they would have to be left in it at all. There are guidelines and charts of how long it will take for a dog to overheat and die if left in a hot car but Alison says to be on the safe side just leave them at home if possible. If you have to take them out, get them out of the car whenever YOU get out of the car. Let them hang out somewhere cool (wearing their shades at a hipster hangout?!) and always provide them with water. There is heaps of evidence that leaving a dog in a hot car can be fatal even if it doesn't seem like a long time to you.
Leaving a window open isn't enough! Read up on the facts, be even stricter than the guidelines, then you won't get it wrong and end up with a broken heart and a suffering or dead dog.
5) Always have more than one bowl of fresh water available in your home for the dog and any other pets. (When it comes to bunnies, Guinea pigs etc their upside-down bottle can sometimes malfunction so it's essential to have the backup of a normal bowl of water. They like drinking that way as well.)
6) If you're getting a dog do consider adoption in the first instance because there so many dogs wanting homes. A surprisingly high number of people give up on a pet not long after getting it and others give up later in a dog's life when they can't afford the vets' fees or deal with the dog's decline in health and toilet habits. Some people don't realise what a huge and long term responsibility it is being a dog owner and find some of the tasks, such as poo-picking-up, to be more than they wanted to take on.
If you do go to a breeder Alison's advice is to make sure you follow Dogs Trust guidelines.
7) For your first time dog it's advisable to get a young adult dog rather than a puppy for house-training reasons. When you bring home this lovely new family member be sure to constantly look for signs of needing a loo break in the garden and take them out regularly until you have established a routine and know when and how many times they usually need to go. Always be patient when there are accidents and praise your dog when it does its business in the right place. A positive affirmation is more effective and much kinder than cross words.
I also asked Alison what breed of dog she would recommend for a first time dog owner and she suggested a spaniel, although she pointed out that they do need regular grooming.
Alison Samways started her dog walking business because she loves animals and grew up with them. The job choices at school if you wanted to work with animals seemed pretty limited: vet or veterinary nurse. Having her own dog, a rescue called Dougal, and her housemate's assistance dog, inspired her to start Pittville Pets so that she could spend all her time with animals. She loves the flexibility of the work and currently has 20 clients. Alison considers these dogs and their owners as her bosses. She also looks after Guinea pigs, cats and rabbits. When she goes on holidays and out for meals Alison chooses dog friendly destinations. (For a dog friendly Gloucestershire pub we recommend The Royal Oak at Gretton - wonderful Sunday roasts.) With at least five walks a day Alison doesn't need a gym membership and gets plenty of fresh air. Her own dog Dougal, a Heinz 57 variety, accompanies her and the other dogs on some of the walks.
Alison is a member of Pet Professional Network - every member strongly believes in and adheres to force free methods in all areas of pet care and training.
The Royal Oak at Gretton - 'Muddy Boots, Kids and Dogs Welcome '
Subsidised Support for Pet Owners - Keeping People and Their Pets Together
There's a social enterprise in the pipeline which should be coming in the next 6 months - pet care to support people with health issues including mental health, new parents, getting old and long term chronic conditions, but may not be covered by The Cinnamon Trust.
Rather than using volunteers this subsidised support will be from professional dog walkers.
Alison believes that having a dog can be so important and in many cases they really are man/woman's best friends and wonderful companions. People shouldn't have to give up their beloved pet friends because of health conditions preventing them from changing litter trays, keeping the garden clear of poo or providing regular exercise. She has some funding and is also looking for sponsorship as well as offering a pay-it-forward scheme where you can donate a walk. She doesn't plan to take a wage herself any time soon but anyone she recruits will be paid from the outset. The service will be subsidised rather than free. To get involved or sponsor this venture please message Alison Samways.
Visit Pittville Pets to find out more about Alison's pet services.
Love Sal x