Millions of people live with dogs across England, and for good reason. Dogs are man’s best friends. But although cats will likely leave home if they are not being treated well (not always), dogs are pretty passive and will often put up with abuse, as they are so loyal. So along with training, socialising with other dogs in the park, and other issues, it’s a bit of minefield on dog welfare. But dogs are wonderful, so here are links to posts within the site and a few other places.
See companion animals tag for help on pet food, vet care, lost pets and shelters. Make your garden safe for pets to avoid toxic plants (just brushing a tail against houseplants like lilies or sago palm an harm). Avoid cocoa/pine/rubber mulch (and fresh compost) near pets.
- See this book to keep your dog safe, which covers toxic foods and plants, hazards to avoid, info on safety collars (that break in emergencies but keep safe on the lead) and an illustrated first aid guide. Best used with flush tags (hanging tags can get caught).
- Both at home and on walkers, see how to train your dog with kindness. Most cases of disobedient, runaway or aggressive dogs can be rehabilitated, using kind and positive methods.
- Although essential oils are often more dangerous to cats, many are toxic to dogs. Never use essential oils (beauty, cleaning, candles) near pets. Air rooms before allowing pets back in (don’t use aromatherapy oils, if pets sleep on your bed).
- See how to find good dog walks (info on safety and the Countryside Code, to keep dogs and livestock safe). Or if you can’t walk dogs yourself, find out where to find volunteer dog walkers.
- See resources to help senior dogs.
If your dog does not mind wearing a coat, Ruffwear Sun Shower Raincoast is one of the better brands (have your vet help you fit it). Designed with PVC-free waterproof fabric, it has an over-sized storm collar that folds up for added protection, a reflective trim and side release buckles. Wash in cold water, gentle cycle and hang to dry.
- See clothing brands that help animals. Buy your tees, hoodies and beanies from here, to fund charities that help street dogs and dogs/cats used for the meat trade abroad.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
Puppy mills are in the process of being banned, thanks to Lucy’s Law, which recently came into effect, after the rescue of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who was born into a Welsh puppy farm (she was rescued after being poorly treated). Puppy mills are like factory farms for dogs, with a grim life for pups who are not vaccinated, loved or cared for. The law was thanks to vet Marc Abraham, founder of PupAid, who launched a 10-year campaign that is now inspiring others across the world.
The simple truth is that when you buy, a shelter animal dies. Shelters are full to bursting with over-bred dogs, yet 25% of them are purebreds (just google your breed choice, to find specialty shelters who can help).
Read Rescue Dog Tales (the story of 16 dogs who found forever homes (written by the author of Arthur, about an Ecuadorean dog who followed a Swedish adventure racing team, and eventually became adopted, where he rolls in the Scandinavian snow). The book led to the author founding Arthur Foundation, which is helping to bring better animal welfare laws in Central/South America. Also read 101 Rescue Puppies, the story of one mighty foster mum!
Tips to Keep Children Safe Near Dogs
These tips to keep children safe near dogs, are just a precaution. Children & dogs get along just fine most of the time. But of course there are issues with uneducated children pulling tails, and a few tragic cases of dogs attacking children. Nearly all of these cases involve dogs who are left chained outside, unable to learn to socialise. Here are some helpers, from learning how to teach children how to respect a dog’s boundaries, to how to prevent dog bites and tragic dog attacks.
The Blue Dog offers information packs for parents and professionals, developed by a team of vets, dog behaviourists, paediatricians, child psychologists, teachers, artists and accidental prevention professionals. Half of all dog bites go unreported and their research indicates that in most cases, it is a known dog where the child misinterprets snarling for smiling. There is no evidence that particular breeds (ie. staffies or pit bulls) are more likely to bite, than others.
- Most dogs do not like to be kissed and cuddles, so don’t let your child do this. Some find it annoying, others find it threatening.
- Ensure that your dog has a safe den to go to, if he or she is feeling anxious or upset around crying babies or toddlers having tantrums.
- Teach your child never to wake a sleeping dog, nor take a food bowl away. Always feed pets when children are not around.
- Teach your child not to approach strange animals. Let animals come to you in the park, crouch down at a diagonal angle, so they don’t feel threatened. Dogs don’t like to be stared at, head-on.
- If you are pregnant, play sounds of babies crying in the background, to get canine friends used to it. It also helps to let them smell new blankets and baby clothing.
- No matter how docile your dog, never leave animals and children alone together, even for a second.
- Goes without saying: don’t leave dogs chained up in yards or without company. If you do this, then find someone who can adopt and give them the company they crave, and the ability to socialise with other beings. This is by far the main cause of dog attacks.
- Cat usually don’t get jealous, but they often like the warmth of a cot, so use baby gates to ensure felines don’t sleep on babies, to avoid crib death. Also don’t let other animals sleep with babies.
- Wash hands thoroughly after touching any pets, especially if you have reptiles, as they may carry salmonella. Don’t let babies touch any poo.
To naturally give your dog a bath can be stressful if he or she does not like having mud and stinky stuff removed. But it’s important to do this if dogs get mucky, as river water can harbour bacteria and sea water dries off as salt. Rock salt can cause burns, so paws need to be hosed or washed, after walking in snow.
In the garden, clear snow with a shovel or use EcoGrit (cereal waste – they suggest also straw or sand). Keeping claws trimmed and using paving (over stones or travel) helps to stop rock salt getting stuck in paws.
Holidaying with Dogs suggests that dogs prefer being washed with lukewarm water (around 37 degrees Celsius for medium/large animals: a little lower for older/smaller pets, who are less tolerant to heat). Cold water is uncomfortable and can cause hypothermia. If your hose spouts cold water, you may need to come outside with a bowl of lukewarm water.
These dog shampoos are natural, but only use unscented versions for sensitive/allergic dogs (avoid rosemary oil for epileptic dogs). And never use essential oils on cats. Avoid shea butter for dogs with latex allergies. Keep bars on a slatted soap dish.
Pointy Faces Organic Dog Shampoo Bar is ideal for sensitive skin as it has no scent (avoid use on the head to avoid contact with eyes and ears, and they recommend gently wiping in the direction of fur with a clean damp flannel). These items were produced in response to a rescued greyhound/whippet cross, was found as a stray and covered in kennel sores with a bald raw tail that had to be partially amputated within days.
But with love and care, comfy bedding, gentle grooming and supplements, she recovered in no time. Also in lavender versions that has neem to help itchy sore skin and deters ticks/fleas. This company also sells collars, see this book to keep your dog safe, with info on collar safety. Quick Relaease collars for Martingale dogs.
- Zero Waste Path Dog Shampoo Bar (olive, coconut, castor, jojoba & neem oils, shea butter, lavender & lemongrass) is made with renewable energy.
- Sintra Naturals Pet Shampoo Bar was developed over months with neem oil to repel ticks and fleas. The Pet Wonder Balm is for dry or crusty noses, and cracked paw pads.
- Trevarno Dog Shampoo Bar (olive & coconut oil, cocoa & shea butter, oils of rosemary, sweet orange, lavender – and bran to lift dirt).
- Jungle Paws dog shampoo bar (castor & lavender oil).
- K9 Organics (sunflower, coconut, lavender oil), in plant-based bottles
- Wild For Dogs (aloe vera, argan oil, lavender)
Natural Dog Balms
- Paw Protect (for sensitive skin & minor wounds, developed to help bacterial infections. This company also makes paw protection balm & ear sanitiser (check ears after walks in long grass, to check for embedded seeds).
- Ollie & Co Paw Balm (with natural oils for chapped paw pads). Also makes Nose & Paw Balm (blackcurrant, cranberry, raspberry & shea butter – not for dogs with latex allergies)
- Pointy Faces Organic Neem Paw & Sore Balm is made with organic neem oil, coconut oil, organic shea butter and organic sweet almond oil. Designed to nourish dry, rough and tiered paws and dry skin, apply sparingly and distract your dog from licking their paws, while the balm absorbs. Repeat once or twice weekly, until cracked pads improve, then use as required. Good for dry patches on ears and elbows. They also sell other items but do check the safety details, as some coat supplements must not be used for certain dogs with medical conditions, pregnancy, allergies etc.
- Dogs Adored Organic Paw Butter is made by a small family company in small batches. It has simple ingredients of organic shea butter and organic olive oil, along with vitamin E oil and lavender oil (avoid for allergies and never use essential oils on cats). Just a tiny amount can be rubbed into paws, lick-safe. Made in Essex and sold in a metal storage tin. The full range can be found at Dogs Adored.
Natural Dog Grooming
This dog grooming mitt was chosen by the store after a lot of research. Some dog brushes are too harsh and can even hurt. Most vets sell Groom Zooms which are good (also for horses and cats), and this also uses gentle rubber nodule mitts to be gentler on bonier breeds, yet still effective at removing loose hair and dandruff, and good for giving a nice massage on moulting coats. Includes soft rubber tips, and a hook and loop fastener for a secure fit. Suitable for short, smooth and fluffy coats, and shiny top hair without base coat. Nails are best clipped at the vet, as it’s rare for amateurs to be able to do this well, without causing harm or bleeding.
Dogs live in the moment, and we already know they are wonderful creatures. Here are books that take this notion out of the box, to explore more. For practical ways to help dogs, see the companion animals tag.
Life Lessons from Dogs
- Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog is a lovely guide by London illustrator Emma Block, showing how dogs can teach us woofs of wisdom on friendship, romance, work and self-care. Find 100 essential lessons, with gorgeous images from this talented artist.
- Life Lessons from a Dachshund offers wisdom from a sausage dog. Dhillon has bags of personality and is not afraid to adapt to modern life. In this funny book, he imparts his wisdom: from how to handle yourself in an argument to surviving in the big city.
- Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home is the true story of a dog in Ecuador, who when thrown a meatball by a member of a Swedish adventure racing team, tagged along with them through jungles and mountains. Try as they might, they could not lose him (which they tried, for his own safety). After following them through the world’s toughest terrain and crossing the finish line, Arthur now lives with Mikael and his family in Sweden, where his favourite game is rolling in the snow.
- Max the Miracle Dog is the tale of a man near suicide, after suffering an accident that left him with terrible injuries. From cycling over 600 miles as month to becoming a prisoner in his own home, his wife suggested he take a short walk to the shops. He meets an adorable yard dog called Max, who peers through the railings with his soulful brown eyes. The chance encounter changes both their lives, and now (after plucking up the courage to ask if he could take Max for a walk), he eventually adopted him.
Spiritual Wisdom from Dogs
- The Dharma of Dogs shares the reflections of Buddhist writers & teachers on the wisdom beneath the furry surface of our four-legged friend. Explore themes of unconditional love, connecting with nature, and facing our fears.
- My Dog, My Buddha offers 100 life lessons including ground yourself, the power of a good walk, respect personal space, the power of a good stretch and naps are not just for cats!
- Upward Dog is a wonderful book by yoga teacher Edward Vilga who realised that despite being able to fold himself into a pretzel and meditate, his brown dog Bella knew more than any guru in a mountain cave. So with a wag of her tail, she presents her 7 lessons of life including being overjoyed at the slightest gift, and sleeping the sleep of the righteous!
- Guardians of Being is a collaboration of cartoonist Patrick McDonnell and spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle. Together they offer a heartwarming collection of charming drawings & wisdom, to convey a profound love of nature, animals, humans and all creatures.
Wisdom from Dog Walks
- How to Walk a Dog is by Mike, who has been walking his rescue dog in New Zealand’s dog parks for 10 years, and become part of a remarkable community.
- Walking Wisdom is the story of a man whose family dogs taught him about curiosity, wisdom and passion. He wanted to pass this wisdom on to his own child, just like his father did to him. The difference is that this book is by Gotham Chopra, son of Deepak Chopra.
- Walking with Peety is the story of Eric O’Grey, who was overweight, depressed and sick with diabetes. After a lifetime of failed diets, his doctor prescribed adopting a shelter dog. So in came Peety, who was overweight, middle-aged and like Eric, had seen better days. So the two adopted each other. And over a year of walks, play and good food, both lost their excess weight, and Eric reversed his diabetes and married his high-school sweetheart.
More Dog Wisdom
- My Dog is the Best is a wonderful story for young children, teaching the patience and friendship of dogs. The young child in the book has an overactive imagination, and constantly tells all his friends about how his dog is better than all the others, and all the things he can do. In reality, his dog is likely the laziest dog in the world. But no worry, as he and the boy have a special bond.
- Be More Sausage is a beautifully written book about what we can learn from dachshunds, who are sweet, soft and a little bit silly to look at. They may only be ankle high, but that does not stop them living life to the full. They don’t care that they look more like a wind-up toy than a fierce guard dog. Being more sausage is about breaking free from restraints, overcoming physical and emotional hurdles and chewing up the social conventions that conspire to hold us back.