What Words Can Dogs Hear The Best?

questioning dog look

What do dogs actually hear when we speak to them?

Isn’t this the single most important question of dog ownership? Isn’t getting it wrong the reason why so many dogs end up unhappy or worse?

I’m not going to solve it, because in 2021 that still isn’t possible. What I can do is show you some tantalising recent science that’s starting show us the way forward.

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Perfect Fit: The Custom Fitted Fleece Dog Harness

dogs wearing harnesses

Not long ago I published a survey of top Australian dog trainers about their favourite harnesses. It was an eye-opener for me.

bernese dog harness

Strikingly, one particular harness stood out from the rest: the Perfect Fit®. At the time, I hadn’t heard of it, and it was hard to purchase due to the need for a custom fitting. Then, an existing Adelaide importer asked me if I could start to stock it.

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A Perfect Fit Harness Measuring Guide

perfect fit harnesses

The following information is taken from the fitting guides produced by Perfect Fit. Tiny harnesses have been removed for simplicity as we do not stock them here in Adelaide..

This information is a guide only and is intended to be used in-store during the fitting process. In almost every case, one or other of the pieces will need to be swapped out to customise the fit properly.

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A Puppy Checklist For The Social Distancing Age

puppy socialisation coronavirus

UPDATE 13 May: Limited puppy preschool places are now available at our clinic on Thursday nights. To comply with current regulations, we request that:

  • only one person comes with each puppy
  • class members wait outside until the start time

For puppies elsewhere in the world, I’m afraid that the puppies of the next few months won’t grow up the same. I fear that this virus will change how they enjoy the rest of their lives. But I also think you can do something about it.

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How To Find A Good Dog Training Class

Everyone has an opinion about what makes a great obedience class. I’ve got a lot to say on the subject, but I’ll start here: obedience has nothing to do with it!

The evidence is clear and consistent. When measured by results, reward-based training outperforms more ‘traditional’ methods. It’s also much less likely to cause pain or anxiety.

That’s why this article is going to help you tell the difference. By the end, you should be able to choose the right class for your dog. I will go through some clues you can use, and then use an example of two very real classes.

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Puppy Preschool: The Evidence

puppy class walkerville

This lovely photo by Julie Wilson shows Jack, one of our Puppy Preschool graduates. It’s the way we like to see them: making the most out of life.

Did his puppy classes help him become the dog he is now? To answer that we need to know not what puppy classes promise, but what they actually do.

You have a right to be shown the evidence behind any veterinary recommendation. Here’s what we know.

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Help! My Dog Is Terrible To Walk On Leash

leash reactive dog

‘At A Glance (Much More Below)’ What To Do

How To Reduce Leash Reactivity

A good start is to accept it for what it is: common and no cause for shame

  • Get help: it’s going to be much easier with expert guidance
  • Discover tricks to keep your dog focused or distracted
  • Avoid interactions with other dogs when on leash or near fences

Now dive deeper…

Do you have a dog who is hard to walk on a lead, but almost never a problem when off it? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve come to realise from my daily conversations with dog owners that we may actually be in the majority. It’s time we stopped feeling embarrassed and started to look into why our dogs behave the way they do on a leash and what we can do about it.

Here is a typical story. I was walking my Loki to school the other day and met another dog walker going the same way. Her dog immediately started barking and yelping in response. Before too long the behaviour turned to lunging and snapping.

She said (a little embarrassed) “he’s not aggressive”. My kids said (in disbelief) “he’s out-Loki’d Loki”. And it was true. The pipsqueak who has made leash reactivity his signature move was completely overwhelmed and confused.

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Help! My Puppy Keeps Peeing In The House

puppy peeing on floor

25 years ago, in my very first week as a vet, a lovely bouncy Cocker Spaniel puppy taught me a hard lesson. Innocently enough, I asked his owner “so, how’s everything going?”

Right in front of me, without another word, his owner burst into tears. Back then I really didn’t know what was going on. I sure do now.

Toilet training, house training or potty training. Call it what you will, but it’s the greatest challenge most puppy owners will face. As vets, we might consider ourselves masters of keeping puppies healthy, but we often look on helplessly at training problems.

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Good And Bad Puppy Training

dog jumping

True or false: early social exposure in a puppy reduces aggression to other dogs later in life. Easy, right?

After all, that’s why vets (like us) push early finish vaccination programs and puppy preschool classes. Get that puppy out socialising in the ‘sensitive period’ before 16 weeks and they’ll get to enjoy the company of other dogs FOR LIFE.

Well not so fast. A recent Australian study has shown the exact opposite. I’m not even that surprised; I’ve been warning puppy owners about this for years.

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Kids and Dogs

child cuddling dog

Most of the time it’s just assumed that modern pets in families will know what to do, have good manners and to be perfect angels.

When it goes bad, it’s usually the children that suffer. Dogs are more likely to bite kids in the head or neck (63% of bites compared with only 13.3% of older people) and kids are more likely to need surgery and to stay in hospital (Ting et al, 2016). You’ve only got to look at the picture of my young son (above) to see why.

Usually the dog gets the blame, sometimes with tragic consequences, even though the causes are a lot more complicated. Usually it could have all been prevented with better understanding.

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