12 March 2016

It's in the bag! Show offers from Crufts

One of the great things about Crufts is the 'show offer.'  Many brands and stands offer visitors 'exclusive' Crufts deals to entice them to try products they may never have tried before, or to stock up on old favourites.  But what's actually in those bags that you see being carried around the show?

Well, with the final day of Crufts approaching (tomorrow's Hound & Terrier day plus Best in Show), meaning only one more shopping day left, I decided to take advantage of some of this year's offers.  I've a mix of freebie and paid for bags, and here are their contents....

'In the pink' - the Crufts' Show Guide

The bright, you can't miss it, pink bags are what contains this year's Show Guide. 

They're available to buy in the atrium and at stands throughout the halls.  If you want to know what's happening when, the show guide is a 'must'.  

It will set you back £8 but, hey, you get your first bag to put some of your first purchases in!

Doggy & Kitty bags from Lily's Kitchen

I'm a huge fan of Lily's Kitchen food and treats, for both my hounds and cat.  They produce an organic and 'natural' range of wet and dried dog and cat food, with a number of tempting recipes such as Hungry Hunter's Hot Pot (cat), Chicken Dinner (cat), Chicken supper (dog), Fishy Fish Pie with peas (dog) and Wild Campfire Stew (dog), to name just a small selection of them.

£5 bags:

These paper bags are packed full with goodies and great value for money.  My Doggy Bag contained:
  • A 200g can of Beef, Potato & Vegetable Dinner
  • A 150g Natural Range Herby Chicken tray
  • A 60g sample of Lovely Lamb with peas & parsley dry food 
  • An Eat Your Greens snack bar
  • A 50g sample of Calming biscuits
  • 25 compostable poop sacks
  • Note pad
The Kitty Bag didn't disappoint, either, and contained:
  • 6 x 100g trays of the Natural Range cat dinners
  • A 40g sample of the Delicious Chicken Crunch Nibbles (dry cat food)
  • Cute cat toy/ball
  • Note pad

£10 bag:

If you've slightly more 'cash to splash' the £10 bag proves to be fantastic value.  Everything comes in a lovely linen bag, which contains:
  • Your choice of 1Kg dried dog food (I chose the puppy food for Sherlock's sensitive tum)
  • 2 x 400g cans of dog food (I chose Venison & Wild Boar Terrine and Recovery Recipe)
  • Sample of Delicious Baked Biscuits (I chose the Calming biscuits)
£10 bag

You can find Lily's Kitchen stand in Hall 1 - stand 116

Companion Dog World magazine

Companion Dog World is the sister magazine to the weekly Dog World newspaper.  I have to admit that I'm a tad biased (as I am their resident 'Ask the Expert' for behaviour and training and questions) but it's a great magazine that is available both in print and online.

The Companion Dog World goody bag is a free bag and my bag contained:
  • Latest copy of Companion Dog World
  • A 150g tray of Butcher's Choice Simply Gentle food
  • A sample of Eden Holistic Pet Foods, Country Cuisine - dry food
  • A trial size sample of Fish 4 Dogs, Sea Jerky Tiddlers
All in all, not a bad 'haul!' A great read (I'm on pages 40-41, in case you're interested) and the dried food and sea jerky can be used as training treats.  You'll find Companion Dog World in Hall 4 - stand 78

Companion Dog World

Your Dog magazine

I subscribe to the monthly Your Dog magazine and as I remembered to bring along my 'voucher' (which was included with the latest issue), I received a free goody bag, which contained:

  • A packet of Adventuros Nuggets in Boar flavour
  • 7 x Simply Dental, Joint Care sticks
  • 100g sample of Vitalin Adult, Chicken & Potato dry food
  • 50 g sample of Platinum Adult, Iberico & Greens, dry food
  • 1 mini Webbox Dream Bone
  • 180g packet of Hi Life Treat Me! training treats
If you don't subscribe, never fear, you can subscribe for 4 magazines (I think) for £10 + get a goody bag.  You'll find Your Dog in Hall 4 - stand 34

What's in your bag?

We'd love to know what's in your bag. So if you make it to Crufts for the final day, do let us know!

23 February 2016

Last 'Tongue out Tuesday' of February

Celebrating 'Tongue out Tuesday'

Plus another chance to win tickets for Crufts 2016

In honour of today being the last 'tongue out Tuesday' of February, here are 3 pics of my happy hounds - all with their tongues out!

Happy Ava

Derping Jasper

Smiley Sherlock

In case you don't know what #tongueoutuesday is - it all started over on Twitter, with people sharing photos of their hounds with their tongues out!  It's a bit of fun and in the case of Jasper, who only has one tooth, it's very difficult to keep his tongue in his mouth!

Win a pair of tickets to the 125th Crufts

Don't forget, to be in with a chance of winning tickets to the 2016 Crufts, simply comment on this, or any of our blog posts that are published during February 2016.

*The giveaway ends at 12:00GMT on Tuesday 1 March 2016 and Terms & Conditions apply.

PS. If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me @sukesu

08 February 2016

Win a Pair of Tickets to Crufts 2016

The countdown to Crufts 2016 & our giveaway has begun

This year, Crufts celebrates its 125th anniversary.  To help celebrate this, the lovely folks at Crufts have provided me with a pair of tickets* (day passes) to giveaway on my blog.

It's fair to say that over its 125 year history, Crufts has experienced its fair share of ups and downs.  However, love it loathe it, Crufts is here to stay and it is now much more than a best of breed show (although that does remain at its core).  I'm not a huge fan of the showing element of Crufts, but I do love watching the various demonstrations of dogs competing in sports such as agility, heelwork to music and competitive obedience.

The 'must-sees' at Crufts

One of my favourite areas of Crufts is the Discover Dogs section.  In this section,  you get a chance to meet over 200 breeds of dogs and find out what living with a particular breed is really like. If you're thinking of getting a pure-bred dog, this is the first place I'd check out.

Discover Dogs - photo of Borzoi
Me, meeting a beautiful Borzoi at Discover Dogs

There is also the chance to meet some great breed rescues, many of whom have stands at the show as well as canine ambassadors.  The Retired Greyhound Trust is a regular at the show, and a charity that is close to my heart - this year, you'll find them in Hall 1, stand 10.

The 'marketplace' is where you need deep purses, and even deeper pockets or bags to take all your purchases home! The shopping is fabulous and many companies show-case new products at Crufts and provide 'show specials.'  So, no matter what you're looking for, you're likely to find several dog-inspired purchases to tempt your purse strings.

A 125 years in just under 5 minutes..

Did you know that it was a greyhound that won the first ever Best in Show and that Crufts was originally started by a dog biscuit salesman, Charles Cruft?  To find out more about Crufts, watch the video below, or see the facts and figures page on the Crufts website.

Win a pair of tickets to the 125th Crufts

To be in with a chance of winning tickets to the 2016 Crufts, simply comment on any of our blog posts that are published during February 2016.

*The giveaway ends at 12:00GMT on Tuesday 1 March 2016 and Terms & Conditions apply.

02 January 2016

Dog Training, A Year in Review & Unexpected Learning

So, today, in a damp and drizzly field in the wilds of Lincolnshire, it became all too apparent that Sherlock Saluki puppy’s adolescence was kicking in!  I haven’t blogged since Sherlock joined us (in fact, I hardly blogged at all during 2015), so let’s get the introductions and updates out of the way…

Events of 2015:

In a nutshell, 2015 had its fair share of ups and downs.  Here are some of them:


Ava discovers TDS
TDS Scentwork - I was lucky enough to host Pam Mackinnon of Talking Dogs Scentwork (TDS), for a scent 1 workshop. Where Ava was introduced to the joy of scentwork.

Rescue Me - I took part in the first ‘Puppy School – Rescue Me’ course, where I got to spend a week at Cheltenham Animal Shelter and work with a dog to help them achieve their Kennel Club GCDS bronze award.  I got to work with the lovely Cookie – a Saluki cross – and we managed to achieve both bronze and silver.  And the icing on the cake was that he was adopted!

RIP Tula
RIP Tula – After coming back from the Puppy School course, I was brought down to earth with a bump.  My beloved Tula (the cat who was named thanks to Twitter), died very suddenly.  She developed saddle thrombus – a fatal blood clot – and passed away in minutes.  My heart was broken.

Speaking & Scentwork
Scentwork demo with Roo
On 29 March, I spoke at the GRWE annual conference and provided a demonstration of scentwork – it was lovely to be with so many like-minded people and to see the interest that my scentwork demo generated in TDS.


Dissertation Deadline! I finished my dissertation “Impulsivity in retired racing greyhounds (Canis familiaris): Is racing status a predictor or increased levels of impulsivity?”  and handed it in, just before going on a well-earned break to Europe.


Morris Minor -  On June 15, we gave a home to Morris – a beautiful tabby and white kitten.  Little did we know it, but Morris’ time with us was very short.  I had to make the heart-breaking decision to say goodbye to him on 23 June.  He spent the last few days of his life at the vets, extremely poorly, but was certainly well-loved in the short time he was with us.

Trying something new with Ava-  I went on the APDT,UK activity weekend with Ava. We both learned loads.


Introducing Dennis – On 4 July we welcomed Dennis, a stunning tabby kitty, into our lives (our home isn’t complete without a cat).  Dennis soon earned the nickname of Ninja Kitty.

Learning about Life Skills - I attended the week-long Life Skills for Puppies, train the trainers, course at the University of Lincoln.  Great week, great course, where I added more skills to my repertoire and got to work with and train some red-footed tortoises.


Saluki Sherlock joins the family - Yep, after years of admiring Salukis from afar, a 13 week old Saluki puppy joined us.  Born with the rather posh name of Fernlark Birra Moretti (named after an Italian beer), this (then) little bundle of coffee and cream coloured puppy joined us (and threw up in the car journey home).  And, wow! What a learning curve I’ve been on since then.  More of which, later…


University Degree -I finally received the final notification of my university degree marks.  It was official, I was a Bachelor of Science, with Honours, in Canine Behaviour and Training – woohoo!


Graduation – In the historic surrounds of Beverley Minister I was very proud to receive my degree and had the privilege of giving the students’ vote of thanks speech (in which I acknowledged the role that Mina had played in my education and journey).  I was also very honoured and proud to receive the BSc Best Student Award – rounding off a hard 5 years of part-time university study.

2016 and the point of today’s post!

December whizzed by, and before I knew it we were in 2016 and more precisely, on 2 January, Sherlock provided the inspiration for me to break my blogging hiatus.

Today I found myself uttering the words that many dog owners hate to hear, especially if their dog is on a lead.  What are these words, I hear you cry?  I hate to say it but I uttered the infamous phrase:

 “It’s ok my dog is friendly!”

Now, before I’m shot down in flames about being an irresponsible dog owner, do let me explain…

Off-lead training and management

I exercise the hounds in a local playing field.  It’s ideal for the hounds as it is flat, enclosed, fenced in and I can see other dog walkers coming, so have time to pop the hounds back on the lead.  It’s where most of my off-lead videos are filmed and in our village, there’s a tacit (yet unstated) agreement between most dog walkers, not to come into the field if there are dogs off lead.  Hmmmm

So, today, it’s damp, it’s drizzly and I’m up the top end of the field with my hood up (obscuring my view).  Ava and Sherlock have been happily playing fetch and Jasper’s been ambling along in his inimitable style.  Suddenly, all three hounds stop and in a split second, Sherlock shoots off at 30mph across the field. I turn and my heart sinks…Across the field is a farmer with his on-lead, German Shepherd Dog (GSD).

Oh b*gger! I think. I hurriedly put Jasper back on his lead and call Ava back to me, as she’s started to follow Sherlock.  Ava’s recall is great, so she’s back in a flash and back on her lead.  Then I find myself haring across the field, 2 greyhounds in tow, calling Sherlock back and uttering the dreaded words “It’s ok, he’s friendly” to the farmer.

The uncrowned Queen of Reinforcers

Now, Sherlock is a true training challenge. We’ve been to several puppy training courses and follow-on classes, and I continue training at home and around and about.  However, Sherlock is not food motivated in the slightest and by not food motivated, I mean you could wave Wagyu steak under his nose and he wouldn’t be interested.  He loves to play and I’ve certainly been using a lot of toys in our training but in the ‘real world’ not many toys ‘cut it’ either.

It's fair to say, that the best reinforcers for Sherlock are those with a heartbeat (he certainly doesn't live up to the Saluki breed standard of being 'aloof').  I have to be creative in my reinforcers and often find myself using Premack/Life Rewards in everyday situations.

A small selection of reinforcers
I have become the uncrowned Queen of Reinforcers in my quest to find the one reinforcer that Sherlock would ‘sell his soul for’ (and I’m still looking)!  Fresh meat, dried meat, liver cake, dried liver, special dried treats, dried fish, leanlix, cheese, hotdogs, cocktail sausage, tubi dog pastes are just the tip of the reinforcer iceberg that I have tried.  Rabbit skin toys are generally the ones that work but on this occasion, all the rabbit toys in the kingdom could not match the allure of the young GSD.

Sherlock just wanted to play.  He ran rings around the GSD and farmer, and me and the hounds. Trying to catch a flying Saluki who thinks this is the best game in the world and to which no reinforcer can match the thrill of chasing, play-bowing, jumping and barking at the GSD, is a challenge to say the least.

I used all the tools in my training toolkit to encourage Sherlock back and eventually, after what seemed like hours – but in reality was only a few minutes (if that), Sherlock came back and I was able to pop his lead back on.

Training & Honesty (aka Sh*t happens!)

So what have I learned from this?  Does it make me a cr*p trainer? Am I an irresponsible owner?  The short answer is no!

It makes me honest.  Life happens and no matter how hard you try to manage your training environment, there will be occasions where the training goes awry.  Rather than beat myself up about it. I’ve chalked it up to experience and made a mental note to work even harder on Sherlock’s recall, and plan in more one on one training sessions.

All too often we focus on both our and our dogs' failures and forget about the successes.  I may not be interested in competing in or training for any dog sports, and I have and love breeds that many people (some trainers included) like to think of as un-trainable and 'stubborn.'  Some things may take longer to train but I focus on the successes.

I train my dogs for the life I lead, and for what I feel is important, as well as ensuring that they have an enriching environment to live in and the tools to cope with life as a dog in the 21st century.

Training Challenges

And, as for Sherlock? Did he have an inkling that he had done anything wrong? Was he told off or corrected? No! He had a whale of a time!  Nothing bad happened, the number of deposits going into his training bank account rocketed (off lead running and play are huge reinforcers), it was ‘just another day in the park’ as far as Sherlock was concerned. Playtime was over and his lead went on.

On the flip side to this, I should also add that the GSD was not fearful or aggressive, his body language suggested he wanted to play too – although I suspect that there was some frustration as the lead was restricting him - but he managed his frustration. The farmer was also very understanding and calm throughout the process.

Sherlock is a challenge and not all puppies are blank slates.  However, I promise that (when time permits), I’ll share the details of our training challenges – warts and all – and end with one of my favourite sayings:

"Remember, there’s no such thing as a mistake/failure.  It’s all unexpected learning”

Here's to all the unexpected learning that 2016 will bring and the adventures we'll have on the way.
Here's to Sherlock & training challenges.

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