Local and special vets

Bandage dogThe majority of us use whichever vet is closest and most convenient, unless at some point some more specialist service is required. The nearest Veterinary Clinic is Goddards on Kennington Road, part of a group which has clinics throughout London. Out of hours service is provided by  Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital in Wimbledon.

Only slightly further away is Andrew Kirby Vets on Grange Road, which is also open on Sunday mornings. In an emergency they advise that you call the surgery first to let staff know you are coming. Emma Styles runs a clinic from 10am to 2pm each Tuesday and on some Thursday evenings offering acupuncture, Tui Na massage and Chinese herbal medicine. It’s best to contact her directly for information or an appointment.

Visiting the vet is often a highly stressful event for both pet and owner. TV vet Bruce Fogle comes highly recommended by a number of dog owners who needed a more tailored approach to annual vaccinations. His manner in dealing with people and pets is warm and he is responsive to individual requirements. Bruce works from The London Vet Clinic in W1 which boasts a number of specialists in areas such as Dermatology and Diagnostic Imaging.

For those who would like to try a herbal approach to pet care Barrier Animal Care Clinic in Charlton SE7 offer a monthly clinic with Veerle Dejonckheere who is qualified to treat animals using Acupuncture or Herbal Medicine.

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Recommended Books

There are lots of great dog books out there, these are just some that I’ve found useful.

The first one I bought, before my first puppy, was The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey. It answers a lot of basic questions about things like house-breaking and avoiding biting and aggression. It’s a very reassuring book for new puppy owners and covers just about every problem that may come up. There’s even a socialisation programme right at the back, because exposing puppies to new people and places is vital for producing a confident dog. I didn’t read it cover to cover but dipped into the relevant parts and it was good to have on hand as a reference. There are lots of great photos in there – one of the puppies used is a Huskie who used to visit GMH Park.

An interesting free resource is a pdf by Dr Sophia Yin – Lucy Learns to Earn. This is a set of instructions written for her father to train his new puppy. It is well illustrated and gives a step-by-step guide to potty training, crate training and basic good manners. The ideas are expanded in her book Perfect Puppy in 7 Days (Kindle edition) along with information on puppy body language and how they develop before they come home with you.

On days when bad weather makes dog walks less appealing, a good way to engage with your dog and tire her out is to teach a trick or two. 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance shows you how to train a wide range of tricks and tells you what to do when things don’t go to plan. You may not need to be told how to get your dog to shake hands, and she’ll probably never need to imitate a hockey goalie, but your dog will learn something you can both be proud of.

A classic of dog training theory and practise is Karen Pryor’s Don’t Shoot The Dog. It provides a thorough explanation of behavioural training that can be used to train animals or people. The book isn’t very big, but it’s densely packed with information about operant conditioning and how dogs (and people) learn. I keep going back to re-read bits because there’s such a lot to take in. All of the jargon of modern dog training is explained along with the mechanics of how to go about changing your dog’s behaviour. It’s just a pity that my copy met a flask of hot coffee in the bottom of my bag before I got a chance to read much of it.

These are some of the first books I bought – along with Sue Ailby’s manuals mentioned in an earlier post. I’ll post up a few more when I have time.

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Some Background

Training Levels Lola

The classes are based on a dog training manual written by Canadian trainer Sue Ailsby (known as Sue Eh?). I came across her writing while trawling the internet looking for any information on dog behaviour, development and aggression, following the sad passing of my puppy Noodle. I found an article called “A Crateful of Teeth” which led me to Sue’s website. I was very lucky to stumble across her writing at this stage as it led me down the route of operant conditioning – a scientifically proven training method which makes learning fun, fast and stress-free for the dog. Sue’s articles are both entertaining and inspiring, but even better, she has made a whole training programme available for free. Any dog owner can follow this well thought out and comprehensive set of instructions a foundation of behaviours which can lead to any dog sport, or simply an easy to live with family pet.

On their own, the instructions could be a challenge to follow, but support is available in the form of a yahoo group. Members of the group are encouraged to video clips of their training sessions, and any problems encountered, and post them on Youtube for feedback. Some of the other group members are excellent trainers in their own right and have many years of valuable experience to offer. Their advice has led me to other fabulous trainers and useful books which I’ll list in another post.

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