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Annabell Dennis

Water safety and your working dog

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments

Whilst many dogs enjoy swimming as a form of exercise, not all dogs are confident swimmers, and many can’t swim at all.

Don’t be mistaken, your dog may sport a thicker coat, webbed toes and a sturdy build, which enables him to swim with stamina, but even so, he may not enjoy swimming out of his depth.

Teaching your dog to be a competent swimmer

Swimming can be great at building your dog’s muscles and strength, it can also be good for stiff and painful joints and can help cool your dog down on a hot day.

Even if your dog seems keen, he’ll need to learn how to swim. Be prepared to take it slowly when introducing your dog to water. Initially keep your dog on his lead and allow him to get his paws wet, staying in the shallow area at first.

It may be an idea to use treats and toys to make splashing in shallow water fun.

If your dog is reluctant, use a positive tone of voice and lots of verbal praise to encourage his progress. Observe his body language to make sure that he’s happy and confident, before gradually moving into deeper water.

Once ready, encourage your dog to move out of their depth to start paddling, you can use an arm to provide a little extra support under your dog’s belly if he needs it. This gives him the incentive to paddle his rear legs along with the front legs – paddling with front legs alone will mean he tires easily and splashes excessively.

After a few minutes, encourage your dog back to the shore so he knows how to get out of the water. If at any point he appears to be panicking, back up into the shallow water and let him calm down before trying again.

Never leave your dog unattended around water or push him to do anything that he doesn’t want to do, even if he is a strong swimmer. 

The best and worst swimming spots

Some places are much safer for your dog to swim than others.

The Best

There are good swimming spots that pose little or no threat to dogs, assuming that your dog is able to swim. These include:

  • Lakes
  • Sea swimming
  • Slow moving rivers
  • Private swimming pools
  • Paddling pools.

All of the above offer calm waters. Lakes often have plenty of safe, shallow areas for your dog to swim in too. Dog friendly beaches can provide an enjoyable way for you dog to splash and stay cool – be sure not to visit when the sand is too hot for their paws though. Shallow, slow moving rivers can be safe but always check for hidden dangers, such as fallen trees and rubbish in the water.

If you have access to a private pool then firstly, we’re very jealous, and secondly, providing the water doesn’t get too deep and cold (be sure to watch your dog in the water), these are fabulous places for your dog to enjoy a swim. Wash any chlorine off their fur when they finally climb out.

If you opt for a paddling pool in the garden, this can be a great way for your dog to both have fun splashing in the water and cool down on a hot day. You may want to look for one with hard sides to prevent tears from claws.

 The worst

Other areas of water can pose serious dangers to your dog. These are:

  • Canals
  • Reservoirs
  • Rough seas
  • Fast flowing water or flooded rivers.

Canals can contain stagnant water and also hidden dangers, such as rubbish, which can also be found in reservoirs. Reservoirs can also be very deep and therefore the water can be extremely cold, which can shock your dog.

Both reservoirs and fast flowing water or flooded rivers can have fast flowing, strong currents that can sweep your dog away quickly and hinder their ability to get back onto dry land safely. Rough seas similarly have strong waves and fast water, posing a high risk to your dog.

Gundogs and water on shoot days

If you own a working gundog, you may not be aware of water dangers until the day of a shoot.

Any unnecessary dangers should be avoided on shoot days. If you feel that water could pose a threat, speak to other members of the picking-up team and also the Shoot Captain. If risks are considered responsibly and you are confident that you can control your dog, should he go near to or enter the water, then there is no reason not to proceed with the shoot as planned, assuming you have trained your dog to be a confident swimmer.

You must, however, proceed on high alert and be confident that your dog will respond immediately, should you need to abort the retrieve for safety reasons.

Additional dangers in the water

There are some diseases and poisons that can affect your dog if they’ve been swimming. You can help keep your dog safe by picking a good swimming spot and staying up-to-date with their vaccinations:

Leptospirosis is an infection spread through rat wee and contaminated water. There’s a vaccination to protect your dog against leptospirosis. You can also reduce the risk of your dog catching this by avoiding stagnant water and canals – some lakes can contain stagnant water too, so be cautious, even in safe places.

Blue-green algae is also found in stagnant water and looks like a blue-green sheen on the surface. Sadly, these algae can be very toxic to your dog – if you think they have come into contact with blue-green algae, prevent them from licking their fur, rinse them down if you are able to but most importantly, get them to your vet immediately. Lakes in community spaces and natures reserves will generally have signs up to inform dog owners if blue-green algae are present, so be sure to look out for any warning signs on show in these areas.

Top Tips

Give your dog a good wash when they return home from a swim to be sure their fur is clean of anything they might have picked up in the water.

If your dog gets into trouble in the water, don’t go in after them, as tempting as this will be. Ring 999 instead and get help from the professionals – don’t put yourself in danger.

To summarise

With a little patience, you can teach your dog to be a strong, confident swimmer.

There are plenty of safe places for your dog to splash and enjoy the water and some spots that you should avoid altogether, if possible. Both may have hidden dangers and toxic diseases and poisons present so be cautious when assessing a water spot and always watch your dog whilst they are in the water.

As long as you are confident water is being considered responsibly on a shoot day and that your dog will respond immediately to your recall, if necessary, then there is no reason not to proceed with your day.

Always wash your dog thoroughly after they have been in water and never jump in after him if he gets into danger – you may put your own life at risk in doing so.

A Guide to ferret breeding

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baby ferret feeding from bottle

We are now entering peak ferret breeding season. If you are considering breeding your ferret, you must ensure you are prepared to do so responsibly. This is a big commitment, financially and in terms of time spent nurturing and training your young ferret.

If you own working ferrets, you may be considering line breeding to maintain the quality ferret that you currently work with. With ferrets becoming increasingly popular pets, some argue that their natural ability for rabbiting is on the decline, so line breeding for working purposes could maintain the fearless ferret with the strong prey-drive that proves so effective.

Maybe you keep show ferrets, in which case you want to mate the animals that have the best shape, best proportion and in general have the best qualities that a judge is looking for. A friendly nature is also worth consideration as they will need to be handled by judges. If you’re new to breeding, you could decide to simply use two ferrets who have done well in previous shows. Line breeding does come into play here so be sure to check the quality of grandparents too.

Be Prepared

Before allowing your Jill to become pregnant you must do your research to ensure that you are fully prepared for what ferret breeding entails. You should only breed ferrets if you are experienced and confident with handling and nurturing ferrets – only an experienced ferret owner will fully understand the commitment required for successful breeding.

Preparation also means understanding that any complications during labour could mean losing your Jill, resulting in the need for you to hand-rear her kits. If your Jill is a prize winner or an amazing working ferret, you must consider the balance of producing more ferrets to potentially losing your current one.

It is also advisable to be sure you can offer a good home for all kits born. Although the average litter size is eight, Jill’s can give birth to up to 14 kits. Do you have ample room in the event of a larger kit size? Do you have homes lined up for these kits if you cannot keep all of them once they have been reared?

Responsible breeding

Some people choose to breed ferrets for a particular colour. Although fundamentally there is nothing wrong with this if done responsibly, inbreeding to ensure the perfect colour can be irresponsible and lead to genetic defects. If a ferret is severely inbred it will die young after living an unhappy life.

Generally speaking, two ferrets of the same colour will more than likely produce kits of the same colour also. Take caution with breeding silver ferrets however, as although many are successful, silver to silver mating can also produce genetically deformed kits.

Breeding practice

OK, so you’ve done your research and you’ve committed to breeding your ferret.

The first thing you must do it wait until the Jill’s vulva is completely swollen before you allow her to mate. If she isn’t ready when the Hob is introduced, it could lead to a fight and one or both being harmed. It can be hard to tell whether your Jill is indeed fighting off the Hob but if you suspect she is, remove her immediately to prevent any harm being caused to the ferrets.

To ensure mating is successful, ensure no other ferrets are present and only allow the act to happen in the Hob’s hutch.

Mating ferrets is not for the faint hearted. It can be a rough process; the Jill will usually squeal and get dragged by her neck around the hutch before the Hob takes her into his nestbox. This is unbelievably quite normal, so try not to panic.

Mating can be a lengthy process so be sure to feed both ferrets prior to introducing them as you will need to leave them alone for roughly 24 hours.

Once you’ve taken the Jill out, her vulva will dry and shrink to normal size within 1-2 weeks. This is a good indication that mating has been successful.

Feeding your ferret

Once weaned, ferrets will require adult nourishment. When young, their teeth may not be sharp enough to manage food initially so you will need to soak food in warm water for 5 – 10 minutes to soften it.

Because kits have a very short intestinal system and a rapid intestinal transit time, meaning it takes some time for the food to pass through the stomach and into the intestines, kits need reasonably high levels of fat and protein. When you are looking for the right food product to buy, look at the label and see to it that this contains roughly 35% protein and 20% of fat. These levels should be maintained into adult life.

Ferrets also need a balance of meat and poultry products as this will decrease the risk of urinary tract obstructions later on in life. You must ensure that water is always available too.

Alpha Ferret Feast

Alpha Ferret Feast is the ideal way of feeding your ferrets throughout all their life stages. Our premium food is nutritionally formulated to provide a complete and balanced diet to keep your ferrets in optimum condition.

Our Ferret Feast contains chicken & fish, which are easily digestible sources of protein. It is easy to feed, removes the odour of more traditional feeding regimes and contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals that your ferrets need in order to remain in the very best of health.

Overview:

  • High quality chicken & fish proteins
  • Fish meal and linseed for essential omega 3 oils – Aids healthy skin and coat condition
  • Crunchy extruded nugget to help clean teeth
  • Nutritionally formulated for health and vitality
  • Easy to digest and highly palatable
  • With Taurine added
  • 36% Protein
  • Wholesome ingredients – No added artificial colours or flavours

Alpha Ferret Feast should be fed ad lib to ferrets as they have a very fast metabolism.


If a ferret becomes overweight, either increase its activity levels or reduce the amount of food to 5% of the ferret’s body weight. If you have provided moistened food for a kit,
remove any uneaten moistened food after a few hours and replace it with fresh.

Gradually introduce kits to dry food after 5-6 weeks.

To find your nearest stockist of Alpha Ferret Feast visit https://www.alphafeeds.com/online-stockist/.

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

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black and white dog

Although hip dysplasia can go undetected in dogs who are fortunate enough to experience a milder form of the condition, it can present itself quite early on in a dog’s life and cause considerable discomfort too. So, what is it and what are the signs that your dog has it?

Put simply, the hip joints are designed to fit together perfectly to enable easy movement. When these joints don’t fit together as they should, the hips become unstable and hip dysplasia becomes apparent. Hip dysplasia causes pain, swelling, stiffness and eventually arthritis so it is essential that you recognise the symptoms early, before your dog experiences the pain and discomfort that unfortunately accompanies the condition.

Early detection

Dogs with hip dysplasia usually begin showing symptoms at a young age, typically around 5-6 months old. Unfortunately, the condition tends to be worse in medium – large breed pedigrees including Labradors, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Newfoundlands. Dogs who have been over-exercised when young, dogs that grow at a rapid rate and also overweight dogs can experience worse symptoms of the condition.

Typical symptoms and early signs include stiffness, limping, a wobbly walk and showing difficulty in getting up, lying down, jumping or using the stairs. Your dog may also lose interest in exercise, including just a short walk, and may move both back legs together when running. You may also notice skinnier hips, which are a result of weakened muscles in the hips and back legs.

Treating Hip Dysplasia

If you notice the symptoms of hip dysplasia in your dog, you should seek advice from your vet, who is likely to suggest some daily management measures such as weight management (to reduce strain on joints), Anti – inflammatory medication, rest and controlled exercise, meaning their life as a working dog may be questionable.

If your dog responds well to these treatments at home, they may not require surgery. If, however, their hip dysplasia is more severe, your vet may suggest surgery. There are a few different surgical options, which can unfortunately be quite costly.

A lifetime of care

Whether your dog responds well to daily management measures or undergoes surgery, it is unlikely that treatment ends there. Hip dysplasia, more often than not, is a lifetime condition that requires ongoing care. You may want to consider Physiotherapy and

Hydrotherapy to build up your dog’s strength. Joint supplements can also help slow the onset of arthritis.

It is important to note at this point however that although this is a lifetime condition, your dog can still lead a happy life if their medical and nutritional needs are met.

Keep exercise to a sensible level when your dog is a puppy and if you have an aspiring gun dog on your hands, find out more about training your gundog, not to forget the delicious Alpha training treats we have to offer on our website.

The importance of the right nutritional diet for your working dog is also essential. You should always read food labels to be sure you are feeding your dog the right amount of food that is specific to their size and age. Dogs are more likely to have problems later in life if they don’t have the correct nutrition both as a puppy and throughout their life as a whole so providing the right balanced diet is crucial.

To find out more about Alpha’s nutritional range of dog food, designed with working dogs in mind visit www.alphafeeds.com or call 01522 778000.

Caring for your working dog during the Coronavirus crisis

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments
dog on sofa

As the world faces a crisis and we enter the unknown in terms of our health, our community, the economy and the lasting impact it will all have on our future, we would like to take a minute to consider our working dogs and the impact it is having on them, their health and their welfare.

We have now had time to adjust to social distancing and stricter measures with regards to venturing out of our homes (as per Boris’ announcement on March 16th 2020.)

Your working dog however is likely to be used to a regular daily routine, plenty of exercise and stimulation and working alongside and socialising with other dogs on a regular basis – the changes we have experienced and adapted to are really not dissimilar to those your dog has also faced.

Current advice and guidance

So, what actually are the guidelines that you need to adhere to when it comes to your working dog?

A new coalition, made up of several UK pet charities and experts, has now been formed to help answer this exact question.

The group has provided useful advice and guidance, laid out it easy to digest graphics. This includes tips on what to do if you are self-isolating, how to protect one another and avoid the spread of coronavirus, how to responsibly practice social distancing and areas in which we can look to help and support one another.

Chris Laurence, chair of the Canine and Feline Sector Group, said: “We are concerned that rapidly changing and conflicting information was leaving pet owners confused and worried. Those of us who work with animals are concerned that this information could leave animals at risk as pets could end up abandoned by anxious families unsure if they pose a risk or how they can care for them in isolation.

“We have come together to reassure people that there is no evidence that pets can get sick from coronavirus so not to panic or worry. We have also written some clear and simple tips about how to continue to care for them through this crisis.

“Like many others, the animal welfare sector is facing huge strain, with reduced staffing, loss of volunteers and pressure on resources. We need to reassure owners

with good advice so they can continue to look after their pets and this will help prevent rescue centres being overwhelmed at this challenging time.” Visit www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus to read the advice and guidance and find a full list of all the charities and experts involved.

The dog food industry

It is important to note that that there is a good supply of dog food available within the UK and this is not likely to change in the coming months.

Alpha’s manufacturing plant is located in North Nottinghamshire and most of our natural ingredients are grown by local farmers and shipped directly to the factory. We are therefore confident in guaranteeing not only the continued production of our food but also that the exceptional quality of our feed is maintained.

To find your nearest stockist or to order online, visit http://www.alphafeeds.com

Togo – the husky sled hero who inspired a Hollywood movie

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Today, husky sled racing around the world is a highly popular sport. Intense, exciting and requiring incredible teamwork and skill, it draws in a vast crowd.

But you don’t need to live in Alaska or Siberia to enjoy this fantastic sport. Here in the UK, the BSHRA (The British Siberian Husky Racing Association) exists for one reason only – to deliver the annual BSHRA British Husky Racing Championship. Formed by a determined group of Britain’s leading Sled Dog Drivers; it’s now enjoying its 24th season. There is no membership fee, just a commitment to keeping the UK’s racing scene thriving!

With all the thrill and excitement of today’s modern sport, it’s easy to forget the brutal and intense work these fantastic dogs once undertook, and the lives they changed. Here’s one particular champion with a story so epic it inspired a Disney film.

Togo and the 1925 Serum Run

Nome, Alaska, USA; In January 1925, child mortality was at an alarmingly high rate. Infected with diphtheria, each day, another son or daughter was struck down by the deadly respiratory disease. Nome’s solitary physician, Dr Curtis Welch, feared an epidemic was unfolding. He ordered a quarantine but knew in his heart that only an antitoxin serum could halt the rapidly-spreading disease.

The nearest batch of the life-saving medicine was more than 1,000 miles away in Anchorage, and Nome’s frozen harbour meant that sea transport was impossible. Moreover, the closest train station was 700 miles away, and the open-cockpit planes of the time couldn’t fly in Alaska’s brutal subzero bitterness. The best hope for the children of Nome was its dog teams.  

Sledge dogs regularly battled the snow to deliver the mail, and knowing this, the territory’s governor, Scott C. Bone, recruited the most skilled drivers and dog teams to attempt a frantic relay to transport the serum from Nenana to Nome through the most brutal of conditions.

On the night of January 27, 1925, the first team left from Nenana. Musher “Wild Bill” Shannon bound the precious parcel to his sledge and pushed on his nine malamute pack. 

With temperatures plunging to 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, by the time Shannon handed the serum to the second team, he was already showing signs of frostbite hypothermia, even though he had run by the side of his faithful dogs to keep his body temperature up.

Illuminated by the northern lights the country’s most renowned musher, Leonhard Seppala, took the next leg. He left Shaktoolik on January 31 on a substantial 91-mile run, the longest and most intense leg of the entire journey.

Seppala’s lead dog, 12-year-old Siberian Husky Togo – our hero – was by now an old dog and had run tens of thousands of miles in his life. But this would be his last, and most significant. Togo, born the runt of a litter, was from birth deemed too small, and far too naughty to join a sled team. He was so cheeky that Seppala gave him to a pet store to sell on. However, Togo had other ideas. Breaking out of the store, he made his way home to a surprised Seppala. Noting the dog’s loyalty, Seppala saw him in a renewed light – and the rest is history.

Togo and his 19 fellow dogs skidded and slipped across the sheer ice face underfoot – struggling for traction. Togo, with incredible instinct, strength and fearlessness led them with staunch determination.

Charlie Olson took the baton from here. Charlie, after 25 miles handed over the serum to Gunnar Kaasen for the second-to-last leg of the relay. Kaasen’s team went on the battle through severe blizzards, delivering the vital antidote to the desperate town.

The aftermath

The teams involved saved the lives of thousands, and the media frenzy alerted the rest of the world to the dangers of the deadly virus. Although more than 150 dogs and 20 drivers shared the poignant relay, with numerous dogs sacrificing their lives to the cause, it was Balto, who led the final miles that became a superstar. Togo, who had undertaken the most dangerous and arduous leg of the journey, sadly only received his recognition and celebration years later. Would he have ever imagined he’d be starring alongside Oscar-winning William Defoe, in his own Disney movie? Who knows? He died happily of old age, at the age of 16, in 1929.

So, from delivering life-saving serum’s, all the way to taking their mushers across the finish line of the race track, Huskies continue to thrive as a popular breed in a modern world. At Alpha, we’re proud to sponsor The British Siberian Husky Racing Association – keeping this incredible working dog thriving in what he does best – being a champion.

Gundogs as family pets

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Good working gundog traits include a positive disposition, sharp intelligence, high energy, and trainability. Funnily enough, these factors translate perfectly into making gundogs fabulous family pets.

However, there are a few things to consider before bringing your working dog into the home, or vice versa. Here are our top tips for making the transition;

When does a working dog transition into becoming a family pet?

How many days a year does a dog have to work to be classified as a working dog? Is a dog who sleeps outside a working dog? If my dog works 50 days a year but naps in my bed and enjoys movies on the sofa; does that make her a pet? The questions are many, and the lines blurred!

The answer is simple; your working gundog CAN also moonlight as your family pet. As long as she qualifies in both disciplines, i.e., sporting and sofa training, she should live an incredibly happy life, living the best of two worlds.

Possible issues

Although gundog varieties are keen people-pleasers, many families can experience problems with their pet gundogs. These difficulties arise due to the breeds instinctual hunting drive, explosive energy and independence.

Another red flag is a lack of house-training and ‘pet-dog’ discipline, leading to destructiveness in the home. A lot of these unfavourable behaviours often come down to a lack of exercise, and confusion. The rules have suddenly changed, and your dog can’t make head nor tail of it, which results in a stressed animal.

If you’re choosing to bring a highly intelligent animal into your home, you need to honour her needs. A gundog breed kept as a family pet requires long walks, proper training and an active lifestyle. A dog who knows her place in the family and is mentally and physically content means a happy home, left in one piece!

Summary

Although the answer to the question of whether your gundog can be a family pet, is yes, the result isn’t always completely black and white. If, for example, your trained gundog, freshly introduced to the family home, becomes distressed – it’s best not to force your agenda. Alternatively, if your gundog is happy living the couch-potato family life, while working simultaneously, and seems glad to switch off its hunting instinct when necessary, it can comfortably double up as a pet.

For information on our range of working dog food, which offers a variety of feeds for when your dog is both busy working and when resting, speak to your local stockist, or get in touch with us through our website.

Spotlight on Lurchers

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The Lurcher originated from bygone times where aristocrats dominated the field of hunting with hounds. Only the elite set was entitled to own greyhounds, deerhounds and whippets; and the punishment for a ‘commoner’ caught in possession of these breeds was death.

In time, the ordinary folk, in need of a hunting dog of this calibre, found a cunning way around the problem. By cross-breeding a sighthound with a pastoral working breed such as a Border Collie, or a terrier, the result was an exceptional hunting dog cleverly disguised as a pauper!

Fact file

  • Life Span: 10 to 15 years
  • Height: Ordinarily 27 to 30 inches at the shoulder but can be smaller
  • Weight: 35 to 100 pounds
  • Temperament: Affectionate, loyal, intelligent

Movement

The Lurcher was the first British designer, cross-breed. Quick as a flash, agile on the turn and gloriously elegant in motion – the Lurcher is a marvel to observe. Be thoughtful where you let your dog run free, a Lurcher at full sprint is best suited to open spaces, rather than woodland areas where collisions are a risk.

Exercise

Contrary to popular belief, the Lurcher doesn’t need masses of activity, although they require slightly more than Greyhounds. A couple of 40 minute runs a day is sufficient to keep your lovely Lurcher calm, happy and fulfilled.

Temperament

Like border Collies, Lurchers are incredibly intelligent; so much so that they worked as messenger dogs in both World Wars. Lurchers are loving, loyal and very affectionate. After an extended play and run, they like nothing more than to curl up on the sofa with their faithful person. They adore human company, and due to their super-smart nature, shouldn’t be left alone for long periods.

Cats

The simple fact is, no matter how many centuries pass, the prey drive instinct within lives on with a burning ferocity! If a lurcher pup grows up with cats, he or she may grow up to recognise they’re off-limits for hunting. Otherwise, unfortunately for kitty, she’s fair game.

For information on our range of working dog food, including our High Performance and Adult Maintenance feeds, speak to your local stockist, or get in touch with us through our website.

Spotlight on: Gundog directional training

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gun dog standing to attentionA well-trained gundog in action, slinking elegantly to retrieve, and stopping, statue-still – at the pip of a whistle, is a marvel to observe, and something a working gundog owner endeavours to master. The good news is, this unwavering connection between trainer and dog is far easier to achieve than you may think.

The purpose of training

Directional control enables the handler to present his dog with the information she needs to perform efficiently. Sometimes your input isn’t necessary, and your dog can complete the task solo. However, at other times your assistance and guidance help things run more smoothly.

Starting from scratch

Using a combination of hand signals and whistles; the handler communicates to his gundog from a distance. For this partnership to work, his dog must be willing to pay undivided attention and to respond to his cues swiftly.

Directional training

  • There are two main components to directional training; the brakes, and the steering. The ‘brakes’, AKA stopping when necessary, can be taught with a ‘stop whistle’.
  • Once you and your dog have forged a strong connection and mastered the stop whistle, it’s time to move onto the ‘steering’ part of directional training. A paddock or large park works well for practice purposes.
  • Begin with left and right. What you ultimately want to achieve is your dog running in a straight line, at your command.
  • Keeping your dog stationary and with eyes fixed on you, throw one ‘dummy’, or ball to the left – not too far away in the beginning.
  • Using your arms; signal to the ball on your left. Use exaggerated motion as you’ll be working at far greater distances in the future, and your dog will need to identify your signal. When your dog returns the dummy, reward her with a pat, or a small treat.
  • Bring her quickly back to sitting and focused on you. Next, signal – with exaggerated motion – to the right and when your dog returns the dummy, reward her once again. Repeat.
  • When you’ve mastered left and right, try two dummies at once. You want to avoid your dog second-guessing you – so exercising the unwavering focus is essential. With both dummies set out – left and right – make your commands
  • Continue this training with the addition of the ‘back’ command (sending her directly away from you). For this command, you will raise your arm high, up and away from you.

In a nutshell

This communication and understanding is teamwork in action and makes working at great distances, and in unfavourable conditions possible. Once mastered, you and your dog will be the envy of many!

The Right Diet for Your Working Dog

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Dog runningActive dogs like working, sporting, and hunting dogs, burn a serious amount of energy – up to four times more than that of your average dog. To counteract and support this extreme athleticism, they require a suitable high-energy feed.

Joint health is also crucial to your dog’s longevity, be it farming, policing, sporting and so on. Your active dog is invaluable to your team, and a carefully thought out diet will mean a long, happy, healthy and action-packed life.

When deciding on your dog’s diet, ensure it covers the following;

  • The food should be doggy-delicious.
  • The feed should provide your dog with enough energy to work hard, play hard and thrive.
  • Your dog’s food should support a healthy digestive system, help build lean muscle and aid in muscle recovery after strenuous athletic activity.
  • If your dog is extremely active, his feed may need additional nutrients to support joint health and mobility.
  • Your working dog is an athlete; his food will need fortifying with essential vitamins and minerals.

When to opt for high energy food

If your working or sporting dog is exceptionally active, chances are he’ll need a high-energy feed to match his energy outputs. Fat is your dog’s primary source of energy. Specialised high energy foods – alongside additional minerals, vitamins and highly digestible ingredients – possess a high fat content to meet this requirement.

Keeping weight on your sports dog

Highly active dogs are prone to weight loss. The correct feed will nourish your dog, help maintain a healthy weight, and provide all the energy he needs to perform. However, if your dog seems to be losing weight without cause, speak directly to your vet; they may need to conduct a complete physical exam to rule out any underlying health issues.

Joint health

For working and highly active dogs, joint ailments can be a real problem. Dogs that were once performing athletic movements and covering vast distances can begin to feel pain and discomfort – leading to slowing down and disengaging from the sports they once loved. When pain is obvious, and you see a decline in your dog, veterinary advice is required ASAP.

Hypothermia in dogs

By | Dog Welfare | No Comments

St Bernard working dogAfter a shoot day, it is imperative to ensure your dog goes to bed well-fed, warm and thoroughly dried. Although it is unusual to witness dogs with hypothermia in the mild winters of late, a dog left wet, and already tired after a hard day’s work, is especially vulnerable to it.

Using a heat lamp to dry off after a day’s shooting ensures your dog goes to bed properly dried off and warm. If your dogs live outside during the winter, raise their house off the floor at least four inches, make sure it has a sloped roof and is well insulated. If they live in an outhouse or barn, provide closed-in beds with warm and dry bedding.

Recognising the signs

Identified as intense shivering; the onset of hypothermia will slow your dog right down. With this reluctance to keep moving comes more significant danger of deterioration. Muscular stiffness and a visibly escalating lack of co-ordination will follow. Left untreated, the dog’s heart and breathing rates will decrease, the pupils will dilate, and it will collapse into a coma.

As hypothermia is an emergency, you should call your vet immediately.

What to do if you think your dog has hypothermia

A rapid response could save your pet’s life. It’s essential to call your vet immediately and follow their instruction.

In the meantime, you can do the following;

  • Do not place your pet anywhere hot. Warming them up too suddenly can send them into shock. Get them out of the cold, to somewhere warm and sheltered. Warm them up gradually with thick blankets, under and around them.  
  • If your dog is wet, dry them gently with a towel. If the dog is conscious, try and encourage a drink of lukewarm water. 
  • Regardless of your opinion regarding the severity of the situation, get your dog to the vet for assessment.

Dogs more susceptible to hypothermia

It’s essential to recognise that some dogs are much more vulnerable to the cold than others. These include dogs that live outside for long periods with inadequate shelter and space to run around, wet dogs, puppies, dogs with diabetes, smaller breeds, and shorthaired dogs.

How to keep dogs warm in an outside kennel

By | Dog Welfare | No Comments

Working dogs, when cared for properly, can thrive in outdoor kennels. Providing you have a dry outhouse, barn or well-built kennel, your dog should stay cosy, happy and well through even the harshest of winters.

If you have a doghouse, the floor should be raised at least four inches off the ground. Ensure it is well insulated too. Shredded paper or cardboard boxes under the bedding will block the ground-cold from reaching your dog. Secured to the floor; the house should also have a sloped roof.

Here are four more tips to keep your working dogs warm in an outdoor setting;

Provide ample bedding

If you have more than one dog, they will often nestle together for warmth, while some dogs prefer the space to spread out. Provide enough bedding space for everyone.

Use a closed-in bed

Closed-in dog boxes or beds are much warmer than an open bed. Teamed up with some warm blankets, or even shredded paper, which doesn’t hide pests and rodents as straw does, they’ll keep your dog happy and well through blizzards and gales.

Keep your dog dry

After a day of shooting, your dog will no doubt be muddy and wet. Toweling them off is an essential measure; however, a heat lamp ensures your dogs go to bed warm and perfectly dry.

After a day out in the elements it’s also good practice to check your dog’s paws; In icy or snowy conditions, painful ice balls can build up in between their toes.

Keep dogs hydrated and suitably fed

Make sure your dogs have access to unfrozen and clean water. There are heated bowls designed especially for outdoor living, or a cheaper version is to check and refresh containers, daily and diligently.

Dogs that live outdoors in a warm, dry and safe space are less likely to burn off valuable calories in efforts to stay warm. However, if your dog is expected to get cold, it may need more feed to help keep their metabolism up.

Alpha Working Dog Food – Champions of Sustainability And Independent Retailers

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments

spanielFounded over a century ago, Alpha is a family business, forged on a passion for optimising the health, vitality and performance of your pet with world-class quality foods.

Located on the North Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire border and firmly established within the pet food industry, The Alpha brand is a trusted and highly reputable name – one synonymous with science, nutrition, excellent service & outstanding value.

This fiercely independent company champions local producers and distributors, with regional farmers growing most of the natural ingredients and shipping them directly to the factory. This firsthand contact with the growers ensures in depth knowledge of our ingredient’s provenance.

Take a walk around Alpha’s manufacturing plant, and you’ll witness the enormous investment made in their team, research, development, factory, packaging and operational systems to ensure that Alpha products dominate the market and continue to deliver excellence.

With a highly dedicated team of skilled people, who are passionate about the quality of their products and the service they provide – Alpha products are now more in demand than ever.

Moreover, not only is this brand consistently providing the market with their innovation, duty of care and flavours; they’re also enormous advocators for sustainability. With an unwavering commitment to the environment; packaging materials used are sourced from sustainable forestry and are 100% recyclable.

Furthermore, Alpha sticks firmly to its values as an autonomous brand and continuously supports independent retailers. You won’t encounter Alpha on the shelves of big-name supermarkets.

Since the first bag rolled off the production line, until now, Alpha continues to ceaselessly champion and cherish their legacy of honesty and quality. Your animal’s health and vitality are their life’s work and with a longstanding commitment to producing nutritional excellence – Alpha products guarantee a healthy, happy and thriving working dog.