Walking Equipment Options

Training your dog to have lovely lead manners can be made a lot easier if you have the right equipment, especially when paired with some lovely treats and rewards for loose leashes. All of these options come in different colours and styles, so with a little experimentation you’re bound to find something to suit you both.

Flat collar – the most popular for a reason, these traditional buckle collars can be made of cotton or leather, and are simple and easy to use. Fuzzyard dog colours have a variety of patterns, from space invaders to pink cupcakes, and have a secure locking buckle to prevent breaks and escapees.

Martingale – these are like a flat collar but with a chain link or separate material section that will tighten a certain way, and then stop, if the dog pulls. These are ideal to stop canine Houdinis slipping out of their collar, or for a little extra control with high-spirited hounds. Rogz half-check collars are good quality and come in range of basic colours.

Harness – these were originally designed for sled and tracking dogs, and were intended to encourage pulling against the lead. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use one; some dogs will pull less when put into a harness. It is simply a case of trying and seeing. In particular they are perfect for low energy or well trained dogs, or for those with back or neck problems. Ezydog have a range of options for different body shapes and preferences.

Front Attach Harness – ideal for medium pullers, these are designed to turn the dog around to face you if they forge against the lead, allowing you to regain control and bring the dog back to you. Although chronic pullers will find a way to brace against it after a while, when paired with training and treats they can be just the edge you need to have a loose lead walker. Gentle leader ezywalk is a nice example.

Head-Halter – for strong pullers, these are designed to sit around the dog’s face just like a halter on a horse. Generally they are used for dogs that can pull you off your feet when they tug, or for dogs that bark and lunge whilst on the lead. They do stop pulling completely, but many dogs can find them invasive and will need to be taught to enjoy wearing one. Try a halti head-collar if you have a particularly exuberant dog.

Check chain – a thin metal link chain that will tighten when the dog pulls, these are designed to be used with a jerk on the lead to issue corrections to the dog. Check chains should only be used on the advice of your qualified trainer, and be a high quality chain in good condition. If you are looking for a check chain try Grizzle Four Legged Wear.

Prong collar – illegal in NSW anyway, these are not necessary except in very exceptional circumstances.

Activities to Try

If you and your dog are getting bored of simply walking around the block each day, there are many fun activities you can do to add a bit of spice.

  1. Swimming – there are plenty of dog friendly beaches in Sydney, and some swimming pools even do special dog days. Get a lifejacket and some floaty toys such as the Amphibious Duck Diver or Wubba, and get in the water!
  2. Running – fitness is as important for your dog’s health as it is for yours, and beginning a fitness plan together can keep you on track and be very rewarding.
  3. Biking – if you struggle to wear your dog out, try riding a bike with them. As long as you make sure to use a spring or special detachable lead hook to attach them, you can really cover the miles.
  4. Rollerblading – this is lots of fun and very impressive if you have some spare time to teach your dog to rollerblade with you safely. You’ll need a bombproof stop command, and ideally go right and go left to avoid embarrassing tangles with passerbys. Use a stretchy leash such as the EzyDog Zero Shock lead to prevent sudden tugs that pull you off your feet.
  5. Circuit training – liven up your training routine by taking your dog along with you. You can even teach them cute tricks like sit ups whilst you do your own.
  6. Dog classes – there are so many options these days that you’re bound to find something to suit you both. Don’t be intimidated, most people are just there with their pets looking to have some fun. See our ‘dog sports’ article for ideas, such as discdogs or doggy dancing.
  7. Ball play – a classic game of fetch is always a favourite, and will have your dog tearing back and forth without you having to move an inch. For something different try the Chuck It Erratic ball or Rogz Asteroids. For dogs that aren’t so keen on a ball, you can use low calorie treats to hurl across the park and have them streak after it.
  8. Indoors – try a doggy treadmill. You can rent time on them at doggy daycare centres or invest in one yourself. Make sure to start slowly and build up their endurance over time.
  9. Train and walk – keep them on their toes and practise your cues as you walk. Randomise your requests and have them listening and waiting for their next task. You’ll need a treat pouch to keep things clean and easy, such as Doog Training Pouch.
  10. Group Outings – the best way to keep you both excited about getting out the house, organise walks with other dog owners in your areas. Being social for the both of you, time will fly.

Swimming

Safety First

First off, invest in a quality lifejacket. Accidents can happen even to the most aquatic of dogs, and having them floaty and safe will give both you and him some peace of mind. (…) is a good example. Taking your dog to the store with you in order to get a nice and secure fit is a good idea.

Believe it or not, not all dogs instinctively know how to, or even can, swim. This can be true of short legged (such as dachshunds), squashed face (such as pugs) or skinny dogs (such as whippets). Some dogs will even sink like a stone if thrown into the water for an instant ‘lesson’, such as greyhounds and bulldogs. Don’t worry though; all dogs can learn to love the water, with the added flotation of a lifejacket and a bit of quality time.

Fun in the Sun

Start by teaching your dog that water can be fun, and doesn’t necessarily mean bath-time and a sponge. It’s best to begin somewhere that gently slopes into the water, so that your dog can gradually walk deeper and deeper without having to take a sudden plunge. If you don’t have access to that luxury, a child’s paddling pool is a good way to begin the introduction.

Arm yourself with lots of their favourite treats and toys, and begin to lure your dog into the water. Just paw deep at first is fine; you just want to build up a positive association. Have some good games or food rewards, even tossing them into the water for your dog to fetch out. Some good floaty toys include (…)

Doggy Paddle

Over time, you can start to move the fun deeper and deeper. With a lifejacket on they may not even notice as their paws leave the floor. If your dog is struggling, support underneath their stomach to encourage them to kick with their back legs. Many dogs paddle stronger and stronger with their front paws and forget about the back, causing their bottoms to sink.

Keep encouraging and rewarding your newly paddling pooch, and pretty soon they will be diving in and out to retrieve their toys and food rewards, or to cool off out of the sun.

Drying Off

Remember to thoroughly wash and dry your dog after they have been swimming, to remove any algae, toxins or chlorine from their coat. Don’t ever throw your dog into the water either; if any gets into their ears it is difficult for them to get out and makes them very prone to ear infections.

Home Alone

Gotta leave him alone while you go to work, school drop off, the gym?? Returning home to a ruined house and garden is no fun for anyone (except maybe the dog!)

Avoid the hassle and expense by playing it smart and giving your pup a job while you are out.

“Find it” searching for his meal is a great way to entertain his body and mind. Freeze Vets All Natural into a Cow Hoof or a Kong and hide them in your yard making a fun game of search and his prize is a yummy meaty hoof or Kong that can be chewed at for hours.

“Dog Popsicles” fill a Hollee- Mollee with chicken wings, lamb brisket or chicken necks and freeze it over night. Leave it in the garden with your pooch the next day for hours of fun. Once the food is eaten the ball remains for playtime. Fill it again and again for days of summer fun.

Digging pit or wading pool. Either fill a kiddies wading pool with water or sand (depending on your dogs preference) and bury / float his favourite toys in it. Teaser balls, Kong Wubba and Jolly Egg Ball are all great water options, while Busy Buddy Bouncing Bone, Gorillas and Nylabones are all great for burying.

Bucket of fun – pack a layer of aromatic treats such as Sea Jerky in the bottom of a bucket, pack your dogs favourite toys, Nylabones, Tretkon (spelling), Everlasting Ball etc on top to cover the treats. Sprinkle another few treats in, then another layer of toys, repeat until full. This is great fun for puppies of all ages. Ensure you only leave safe, durable toys with your dog.

Food ball –Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble is a favourite food dispensing ball for any dog, there’s not a dog alive that couldn’t figure it out. Fill the ball with his normal food and add a couple extra tasty treats like Fit n Flash Liver and set ‘em loose. My dogs take roughly ¾ of an hour to eat one cup of kibble this way!

Mazes and Puzzles – foodies be warned – these toys are addictive! Puzzle and Maze toys encourage your dog to problem solve to find their rewards. Start with really aromatic Sea Jerky until he gets the idea and then try using less aromatic treats to test his skill level and make the problem more complex.

Games To Play With Your Dog

Playing games is the best way to create a bond with your dog and tire him out.

Hide and Seek

This game can strengthen your recall skills and creates the opportunity to reward him with his favourite treats. Start with a small handful of Chunky Liver. Give a couple of pieces to your dog on the floor, while he eats it, sneak away. Once you’ve hidden, call your dog. When your dog finds you act very excited and give him half of the Chunky Liver treats, and go hide again. When you run out of treats, end the game or reload for round two!

Can you bring

This a name-association game. Have a handful of Liver treats and a couple of toys that are different visually for the dog. Use a tug rope and a tennis ball to start.

Say “Can you bring the … ball?” and then bounce the ball for your dog to catch. When he brings the ball, give him some liver treats.

Now try the rope. Say “Can you bring the ….rope?” and toss the rope. When he returns reward with treats.

As he progresses sit each toy on the floor at an equal distance away from your dog. Say “Can you bring the …..ball?” When he is successful reward heavily with Liver! If he is unsuccessful, quietly take the toy, thank him for trying, and place that toy back on the floor and try again, once he is correct, go crazy with praise and liver treats.

Follow the leader

Begin with your clicker and by filling your pockets up with small tasty treats like Fit n Flash Chicken pieces. Walk slowly away from your dog, as he follows “click” and feed him some treats. As his confidence grows, walk more quickly, as he matches your pace, “click” and reward. Gradually add challenges like changing directions suddenly and halting. For each success “click” and reward.

 

Sport for Dogs

Looking for more to do with your dog? Sports are fun for owner and dog alike, you can be as casual or as competitive as you like with most of these fun activities.

  • Agility – derived from Equestrian Showjumping, Dog agility is an obstacle course for the dog to negotiate, with you as the navigator. Including tunnels, jumps, climbing frames and weaving poles.
  • Flyball – a relay race for the dogs over a series of five jumps to a Flyball box. The dog triggers the box to release a tennis ball and race back with the ball over the jumps to their owner.
  • Herding – traditional sheep herding within the confines of a large pen. There are classes and weekend training camps that you and your working breed can attend to learn and participate in actual sheep herding techniques.
  • Treiball – this is sheep herding minus the sheep. The urban “sheep” is a large gym ball which the dogs are taught to “herd” through a goal post. Great fun for many dogs and owners.
  • Dockdogs – long jump into water! Using a your dogs favourite water toy the dogs launch off a dock into a pool to retrieve their toy. The dog that jumps the greatest distance wins.
  • Nosework– (scent work) any dog that likes food can enjoy this sport. It involves teaching your dog how to search for food in various locations and in, under or around obstacles. The most thoughtful and methodical dogs often do well at this game.
  • Lure Coursing – not just for Greyhounds, this game involves chasing a “lure” or fake rabbit around a course. Any dog that likes to chase will love this sport.
  • Canine freestyle – often called “Dog Dancing” is a series of heelwork patterns and tricks that are performed to music to look like dancing.
  • DiscDogs – Frisbee lovers favourite sport! There are different classes involving Distance Throwing or Tricks / Flips to earn points against the clock.
  • Obedience – competitive Heelwork, Scent Discrimination and Stays are a large part of this sport, suitable for any breed to show case his obedience skills and learn new ones.
  • Rally-O – this is a less formalised version of competitive obedience involving less complicated heelwork and some stations where different activities are performed. This sport is also timed, giving the handler a sense of urgency as well as accuracy to be successful.

Washing

Everyone knows that doggy smell that starts to hover around your pet after a while, and it’s not pleasant, no matter how much you love them. Although they don’t need bathing as much as we do, the occasional dip in the tub does some much needed good for you and your nose, particularly after a delightful roll in the mud.

How Often?

Dogs only need bathing if they look dirty or are beginning to smell. Once a month is perfectly adequate; they have oils in their coat that keeps them looking shiny and nice between times. If you have a dog with difficult skin your vet may advise you otherwise.

Which Shampoo?

There are a variety of shampoos available – choose one that suits your dogs needs. Shampoos with oatmeal such as Aloveen Oatmeal can soothe itchy skin, whilst others will kill ticks and fleas, such as Dermocare Malaseb. If you have a black or a white dog, you can buy special shampoo to really make their coats shine, like Fido’s Black Gloss or White and Bright.

Make sure not to use human shampoo. It is too harsh for their sensitive skin; and you can end up with an itchy, sore dog or a dry and brittle coat.

Before You Start

Make sure you have everything on hand. Lots of dogs deeply dislike the indignation of being soaked in water, so it will make the process easier if you are pre-prepared. You will need a shampoo, several towels, some cotton wool, several brushes and combs and lots of treats or toys. Remember to reward them for tolerating their cleaning both during and after!

Before wetting your dog, place the cotton wool into their ears. Do not push in it with your finger, just place it in just far enough that it won’t fall out. This stops water getting into their ears, which can cause infections and nasty smelling ears.

Brush First

Begin by brushing your dog’s coat. This removes lots of dead hair and dirt, and will prevent tangles becoming even more matted once they get wet. See our article ‘brushing your dog’ for tips on how to. A good quality combination brush is a good place to start, such as the one from PetOne.

Washing

Next, soak your dog in lukewarm water. It will be cooler than you would like your own shower, equal to a warm room temperature. Too hot and dogs will find it uncomfortable, as well as being bad for their skin.

Use your chosen shampoo to massage into the coat. Make sure to gently wash their bottom and genital areas. To wash their face, use a wash cloth or your hand to rub small amounts of shampoo in. Do it slowly and take extreme care not to get it in their eyes, ears or mouth.

Rinsing

Rinse your dog thoroughly with clean water; don’t use the same water with shampoo already in it. Leaving any behind in the coat can cause itchiness and bad skin, as well as making the coat look tacky and dull. Rinse until the water runs completely clear, and they rinse again just to be sure. Use another clean wash cloth or cup your hand with water to rinse their face.

Towelling

Once they are completely rinsed, let them have a shake off in the bath or shower, and then remove the cotton wool and begin to dry them with a towel. Rub them gently, starting from the bottom of their back and working forward. With so much hair the towel will get wet quicker than drying human skin, so you will need several to thoroughly dry them. Fuzzyard MicroFibre towels are highly absorbent and will soak up more than a human towel.

Don’t use a human hair dryer on your dog; most will be frightened by the noise and feeling, and they run much too hot to use on dogs. If you want to dry your dog quickly, you can purchase specific air-dryers for dogs.

Finishing Off

It is normal for dogs to run around like a lunatic and rub themselves on the carpet and furniture after a bath, or more frustratingly outside in the grass and bushes. Keep them somewhere safe, and where they can’t dirty themselves or wet the furniture. Also, wait until they are bone dry before brushing them again.

Remember that many spot-on tick and flea prevention products such as Frontline and Advantix won’t work if applied up to 48 hours after a bath.

Teeth

A lovely smile and fresh breath is a great attribute to a healthy dog. Dogs’ teeth need brushing just like our own to avoid dental disease, and it prevents doggy breath too.

Gum and periodontal disease can be extremely sore, even though most dogs will tend to hide their pain due to their wild ancestory. Cleaning their teeth is the best way to keep their mouth healthy and pain free, although there are other options.

Brushing

You will need: a double sided toothbrush designed for dogs’ mouths, and some pet-friendly toothpaste, such as the ones by EzyDog. You can get liver, peanut butter and many other flavours to make the whole process a lot easier for you and tastier for your dog, but make sure not to use human toothpaste. It can be toxic to them if swallowed.

How to:

  • It is important to start slowly as your dog learns to have his teeth brushed. Start by simply using a finger to touch the outsides of his teeth, and his lips and gums. You can place something tasty on your finger for him to enjoy as you do so.
  • If your dog is accepting of this, you can move on to gently touching his teeth and mouth with the toothbrush. Remember to move slowly, and only start for a few seconds at a time. Practise this in several short sessions a day, gradually increasing the length of time you expect him to put up with it.
  • Once your dog is happy to stand and have his teeth touched in exchange for a treat, you can begin to use the toothpaste. Just use a little at a time, and start with only small periods of time, as he acclimatises again. It is a strange taste and experience for him to get used to. You can experiment with different flavours to see which one your dog likes best.
  • In the same way, you can progress to gently opening his mouth and cleaning the insides, as well as his back teeth and gums. Remember to increase the difficulty for him very slowly. If cleaning his teeth has become a battle, it is because you have moved too quickly through the steps.
  • Eventually he will learn that cleaning his teeth does not have to be a negative experience, instead a necessary, if perhaps boring, time with a nice reward at the end.

Alternatives

If cleaning their teeth is too traumatic or time consuming for your lifestyle, there are other options.

  1. Buying specially designed dental food will play a large role in maintaining teeth health. Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care or Royal Canin Dental kibble are designed to clean their teeth as they eat, through the use of large, cross woven pieces that clean the tooth as it enters, or with specially added enzymes to remove plaque build up. Try to avoid feeding soft foods, as these get stuck in even the smallest holes, and contribute to the build up of bacteria.
  2. Use chews regularly, especially after feeding anything soft. Although more expensive than tooth brushing, it is a much easier way to rid their teeth of plaque. Try Dentastix, Greenies or Zukes Z-Bones. Raw bones will also help in cleaning of their teeth in a manner similar to the chews.
  3. Teeth cleaning products can be added to their drinking water, such as Plaque Off. It contains special enzymes that will break down plaque in the mouth, and is a convenient way to help with dental hygiene.
  4. A professional cleaning by a vet once a year will keep their mouth in top shape, but it can cost upwards of $300 and usually requires an anaesthetic. It is wise to get a dental check done with their annual check up, to keep on top of any problems that may develop.

Nail Trimming

It is all too common for even the sweetest pooch to turn into a wild ball of rage at the slightest hint that you’re going to cut their nails. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil for most dogs, to avoid them splintering or snapping as they get too long, although many active dogs will wear down their nails themselves.

Ask For Advice

It is a good idea to ask a vet or a groomer to help you. Dog’s have a quick just like humans, that runs through the centre of the nails. In pale coloured dogs it can be seen as a pink blood vessel in the middle of the nail. If you trim too far and accidentally nick it, it will hurt the dog and bleed profusely, and can be difficult to stop without an astringent powder. In dogs with black nails it cannot be seen at all, and it can be tricky to know how far to trim without practise.

Choose a Clipper

There are many options for choosing a nail trimmer, so try out a few and find one that suits you and that you find easy to use. JW Grip Soft have a range of options.

  1. Guillotine – these are best for small to medium dogs. They are very easy to use, but do not have the force for larger dogs. There is a small hole to line the nail up in, and then squeezing the handles brings the blade across the hole and through the nail.
  2. Scissors – working just like a pair of scissors but with a rounded blade to more accurately cut the nail. These are the least expensive, but again are most suited to small dogs.
  3. Pliers – ranging in size and strength for different breeds, these are spring loaded, similar to a pair of hedge trimmers. They are still easy to use and have a bit more strength, but can fray very small nails.

Trimming

Take it very slowly and carefully when you begin to trim their nails. By pairing gentle touching of their feet with treat rewards, you can avoid all the drama that commonly accompanies a pedicure. Over time, you can start to trim small amounts off their nails gently, one at a time so that they aren’t overwhelmed, and not forgetting to reward them plentifully for their cooperation.

If your dog is particularly frightened or struggling, it may be a good idea to ask a groomer or vet to help you. An ill-timed wiggle can result in an accidental cut too high up the nail, and the resultant pain may put them off for life. Alternatively, ask a positive based trainer to help you desensitise them to having their feet touched.

Most dogs have five claws, four on their pads and one further up inside the leg, called a dew claw. Generally they only have dew claws on the front legs, designed for gripping objects, but there are exceptions and some will have hind dew claws as well. These are particularly prone to curling around as they grow, so it is important to remember to trim them. Being up the leg they are often forgotten about.

Hair Cuts

Even if you aren’t one for a poodle clip, lots of dogs need their hair cuts just like we do, whether for hygiene or ease of maintenance. The easiest way is to take them to a professional groomer at our Brookvale or Annandale stores. They have lots of experience and the right equipment to avoid all the trauma of doing it yourself.

Common Cuts

  • Hygiene clip – the hair around the eyes, bottom and feet will be trimmed to avoid dirt becoming trapped, but the rest of the coat will be left. Good if you love your dog’s long fur but don’t want to have to bath them all the time.
  • All over clip –your dog will be trimmed all over to the same length, varying from as short as 1mm to up to 5cm. The easiest and cleanest clip.
  • Breed specific – you can look up the breed standard for your dogs to see what it looks like, but groomers will know the breed specific clip for your pet. This can make them look very tidy and professional, but depending on the breed will require some upkeep from you as well.
  • Requests – discuss with your groomer exactly what you would like, and they can do pretty much anything. If you like their long tail and beard but want a shorter clip on the body for cleanliness, then simply ask for it. Experiment until you find something that suits both you and your dog.

Doing it Yourself

If you don’t mind the time and effort it is possible to buy clippers and do it yourself. Not as easy as you might think, it might be wise to invest in a grooming school. Although your dog won’t mind, a silly looking haircut will take a while to grow back!

The Clippers

Invest in some good quality clippers, and take good care of them. Buying cheaper ones or leaving them clogged with hair and oil will lead to dulling the blades and getting them caught in the coat, and it makes everything a lot harder. Have them regularly sharpened and oiled to keep them working well.

Wash First

Always brush, wash and dry your dog first. A dirty and oily dog will blunt the blades extremely quickly, and clippers cannot work in damp fur.

Keep Them Cool

The blades can often get very hot without you realising, and begin to feel uncomfortable or hurt your poor pooch. A lubricant/cooler can help to lengthen the time they can be used. Make sure to regularly check the blades aren’t too hot.

Safety

It is easy to trap the skin of the dog between the teeth of the blades, so never trim towards the eyes or around the edge of the ears with electric clippers. You can use blunt ended scissors with your fingers covering the skin, instead.