My love of animals goes as far back as I can remember, probably about the time I threw out all my Barbies and played tea parties with my stuffed animal collection. Dogs have always held the most of my affection though, not surprising considering they have lived by our side for thousands of years and, during that time, we have shaped each other’s history and behaviours; no other animal has such a close relationship with us.
The understanding of a beings inner thoughts is always going to be mainly theory. Who knows what is going on inside anyone’s head? During my time at university I stumbled across an article that changed the way I thought about dogs. I can’t remember verbatim, but the gist of it was - when humans point, dogs look to the direction we’re pointing, not at our hands. This may not seem like a particular talent to us clever humans, but only a few species hold this special skill. In fact, a study comparing chimpanzees and dogs suggested that, although chimpanzees could also follow directional gestures, dogs understood pointing as a communication cue better. Which is crazy! Chimps have hands and fingers, dogs have paws and yet dogs understand the concept of pointing better!
We all love dogs (if you don’t, you should do!) scientists are no different. Dogs love us back, and their eagerness to please has made them perfect lab partners (no pun intended). Chaser the collie is famous for knowing and remembering the 1022 unique names of all her toys. She can even guess the name of toys she has never seen before by a process of elimination from the names she already knows. Chaser does have a psychology professor for an owner and has trained intensively to gain this knowledge, but your typical trained family pet can have a vocab of up to 165 words. The top 20% smartest dogs can get up to around 250 words, which is the same vocabulary size as a 2 ½ year old child.
Most species of animal are pretty hard to persuade to keep still, dogs of course are an exception.
Brain scans have allowed scientists to get that one step closer to knowing what is going on inside those fluffy noggins.
In particular, one study has shown that dogs do not just listen to tone of voice, rather they pay attention to the words that go along with it. Not to say that a dog won’t wag his tail if you spout utter nonsense in a friendly voice! However, dogs give the best reaction when they understand the words
and the positive tone of voice. This is not a physical reaction, but the chemical reaction in the reward centre of the brain, showing how much they enjoy knowing they’ve been praised! This skill takes both sides of the brain working together to achieve, which is actually similar to the way that humans process language.
Go back 100 years or so, scientists thought that animals were comparable to machines with simple behavioural outputs from simple stimulus inputs. All you have to do is look a little closer to realise it is a little more complicated than that.
Dogs can understand a great deal and language is a fantastic training tool; we can use it to make our dogs everyday lives a bit easier. It can help them understand and make the right choices.
Remember how dogs have the vocabulary of a 2 year old? They also have similar impulse control! Most of our PAWS pack members will do anything for a treat; Aoife the Spaniel eagerly climbs everything she finds for bonus agility treats whilst Willow, the energetic crazy Cockerpoo, will snap to an attentive stand-still.
Skye the Collie is another intelligent PAWS pack member who has deduced that dogs will get a treat for sitting still for a photo. She sees the camera and has linked it to treats; it doesn’t matter who is being photographed, once the camera is out treats are going to happen!
To help Skye, and the other members of the PAWS pack understand sharing we have started using names when handing out treats. Now instead making an opportunistic dash for any treats she will happily sit and wait for her name to be called, understanding that other pack member’s treats are their own.
It’s a small thing, but simple use of language has prevented disruptive behaviour, encouraged good behaviour and eased treat- related tension in the group. This means a happier and relaxed group who can just focus on enjoying their adventures.
So what’s the lesson for today? Talk to your dogs, they’re listening! Use simple, clear instructions and tone of voice to match; imagine talking to a toddler. Dogs are so human focused, their survival as a species has depended on their ability to understand us. Isn’t it only fair we take the time to try and understand them back.
Mrs P.A.W.S. Owner & Chief Adventurer at Paws Adventure Walking Service
It's the end of our first year as a 'Dog Adventure Company' and it's been truly epic. I started dog walking in 2017 and that entailed me and the dogs going to the local park and having what I would call a 'run of the mill' experience. It wasn't quite cutting the mustard though and so with a bit of thinking about my skills, observations of working and owning dogs since a young age and a recognition that dog's are clever beings.......the dog adventures were born in May 2018.
Since that fateful month, I've never looked back and I have expanded....(not my waistline I hasten to add, that has in fact shrunk considerably but that's a story for another day). I have two staff members who are integral to the company as a whole and who I am so proud of, we have a fleet of vehicles to make sure your dog is transported in safety, comfort and ease and we have THE best line up ideas and events for 2019. More and more dogs are joining our adventure PAWS Pack every week and we are looking forward to expanding all the more in 2019!
So all that is left to say is on this eve Eve of 2018, Happy New Year to all my lovely customers and their amazing pooches and all best wishes for more adventure in 2019.
Enjoy our little summary of 2018......
19 Reasons Why YOU Should Adopt a Dog in 2019......
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs come into UK rehoming centres each year and every January see's a massive peak in unwanted puppies and dogs being abandoned or handed over. It is very rarely the fault of the dog, more so it's just a result of their human deciding that it's too much like hard work to care for their pet or their circumstances change and the poor dog is the first thing to go. Contrary to some beliefs, the key thing to remember about deciding to choose a rescue dog is that the dog does not 'come with a set of 'unfixable problems' and issues, rather the rescue dog has many advantages that are both practical, health promoting and heart warming.
So if you're thinking of getting or adding to your family through the addition of a furry friend, before you do anything, make sure you THINK RESCUE, and make rescue your favourite breed. Here's why.......
1. You won't be supporting Puppy Farms- Just this fact alone should make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Instead of choosing to give money to a disreputable breeder, where parent dogs are usually kept in terrible conditions you are instead backing a life saving charity and therefore helping to stamp out the demand for puppy farms.
2. You can find a wide variety of breeds- The UK has a great range of breed specific rescues all over the country where you can locate your favourite, making getting what you want much easier than you think. All it takes is a little bit of research and you'll soon find a dog that melts your heart.
3. You will be saving the life of TWO dogs- It's a fact that each time a person gives a rescue dog a loving home, they are not only saving the life of that dog but the space you leave in the kennel allows another dog to be rescued and hopefully found a new home in the future. So one act of kindness has twice the power when you choose a rescue dog.
4. You might meet the love of your life- I actually don't mean the furry friend that you will fall in love with and bring home, but in fact I'm talking about your human soul mate. It is an absolute fact that having a dog to walk each day increases your chances of meeting another a like-minded, sociable, friendly and attractive human being by 50%! Having a dog makes you more approachable, gives others a reason to break the ice with you, and makes others feel less awkward and more sociable towards you. Plus telling that person that you rescued the dog will just make them think you're a top human being even more. It has a much better ring to it than ' yes I got this puppy from a breeder who just churns them out to any body willing to pay'!
5. Your rescue dog will become the LOVE of your life unconditionally whether you want it to or not- You may actually decide that you don't want to meet a fellow human, but rather fill your days with a much more simple kind of relationship. This is totally understandable, and in fact rescue dogs are renowned for being so full of love for you and having a sense of literally being rescued by you that they think you are the best thing in the world ever! This love is unconditional and will envelop your life forever more. There really is nothing more beautiful than being truly loved by a faithful companion and your love for them will mutually grow as you develop together as a team.
6. Rescue dogs come already vaccinated- So you don't need to spend time sorting that out and keeping your tiny puppy indoors for 12 weeks. You can get on with the fun stuff!!
7. And their spay/neutering is already sorted for you too- So you can start the cuddling straight away! Most rescue centres will ensure they are not adding to the huge numbers of unwanted dogs in the UK by getting their dogs neutered before you take them home, the price of this will be included in the adoption fee but it does take the stress out of having to make that decision once your dog is settled in, this way it's done and dusted asap and the worry of 'putting your dog through' the experience is taken away from you, leaving you to concentrate on bonding and getting to know each other.
8. They can transform dramatically once they get into a loving home and make your heart melt with love and pride- We're all familiar with pictures of dogs looking poorly, skinny, miserable, scared and depressed when they are in kennels and rescue centres. When I visited my rescue dog for the first time in the centre, she was so depressed and listless, sat hunched at the back of the kennel, she didn't even lift her head to greet me. Two weeks later once I got her home she was full of energy, loving, happy and absolutely thrilled with herself. A total transformation in her physical and mental well being.
9. Rescue dogs come with additional benefits- When you rescue a dog, the centre usually provides additional support in helping you look after your dog. They can provide resources and advice that could help you and your new dog, some even give you access to training classes. The centre can act as an emotional and physical support mechanism for you rather than you having to just battle on alone.
10. You can skip that not so lovely puppy stage- This is actually a huge advantage of a rescue dog over buying a puppy. It's a lot harder than people realise to fit a baby fur ball into their busy hectic lives, take time off work to look after them, feed them through the day, keep their socks, shoes, chairs, table legs and skirting boards free from tiny bite marks. Puppies are really REALLY hard work (hence why a higher number of people abandon them in January after having been gifted one for Christmas)!! Rescuing an older dog skips this stage altogether and saves your sanity as well as your shoes, false teeth, hair brushes, car keys and furniture. Some older dogs come already house trained making the transition much easier and pleasant.
11. You have a better idea of what you are getting- Adopting an older dog means that you will be fairly well informed by the rescue centre about the dogs personality and older dogs personalities are more or less set in stone by the time they reach adulthood. Puppy dogs however have more plastic personalities which can be moulded through experiences, training, socialisation etc. Therefore it makes sense that by adopting a slightly older dog you have a better idea of their true personality.
12. You can find your perfect match- Because adult dogs have more or less fixed personalities, they can actually be matched to their perfect family or individual, set around the needs of both the family and the dog, resulting in the likelihood of a much more successful adoption.
13. Rescuing a dog improves your connections with your local and wider community- When you adopt a dog you have to exercise him or her and visit local parks and places where other dog owners are, this gives you an opportunity to chat to people, meet other like minded members of your local community and keep up with local news and events. You will also be invited to community fundraisers organised by the rescue centre you adopted your dog from, opening up a new pathways of community that you were not part of before and that can only be a good thing.
14. Rescue Centres are essential in our modern, throw away society and support local families- By rescuing a dog you are not only helping to keep the rescue centre going and supporting them to rescue dogs in need in the future, you are also supporting a network of employees and volunteers who rely on the centre for their livelihoods and to satisfy their own personal beliefs.
15. Rescuing a dog is good for your mental well being- Having to walk your new rescue dog in all weathers is actually a really beneficial thing to do if you are feeling glum. Not only do you get to see how happy you have made a previously very sad dog, you can also take a lesson from them and start to 'live in the moment' and be more mindful. Your new rescue dog is not walking along thinking 'this time last year I was being mistreated....woh is me' they are actually walking along thinking ' wow my life is fabulous....look at those birds, that grass, that tree, those squirrels'. To feel better mentally we could all benefit from being more dog!
16. Rescuing a dog is good for your physical well being too- Again having to walk your new dog gets your body moving, which in turn gets your heart pumping, which in turn gets your lungs working better, which is turn sends positive, happy feeling endorphins all around your body. And you simply cant argue with that; Enough said!
17. Rescuing a dog will give you a feeling of being able to sleep at night and will give you a sense of fulfilment that will actually change your life- Not only will having a dog present in your home make you feel more secure and safe at night, you will undoubtedly have the most overwhelming sense of happiness and pride each time you see your new furry friend curled up, blissfully happy because of your actions. That level of fulfilment is actually so beneficial to your health and has such a positive effect on your life that every one who needs 'healing' should be given a rescue dog.
18. You may find yourself the new owner of a future star/ internet sensation- Rescue dog stories are huge on social media and the internet now a days and whilst this is obviously not a valid reason to rush out and adopt a dog, it is possible that your new furry friend may pull at the heart strings of so many people, you just can't help but share their story. Everybody loves a happy ending and a cute doggy face to fall in love with. If you don't believe me, search Instagram or Facebook for rescue dogs and see for yourselves!
19. January 2019 is still the Chinese year of the dog, and January 2019 will also be exactly when the rescue centres of the UK will be at their fullest- So if you have been considering getting a dog and just haven't got around to it, then this is the time to do it. Take time out this month to visit your local shelter and have a look at those cute fluffy bundles of love awaiting a new forever home just like yours. I challenge you not to come out in tears. But sadness is not the result we are after, you can bring and spread LOVE, unconditional LOVE throughout your home this new year, and I can pretty much say without any doubt it'll be the best new years resolution you have ever made.
Sarah Marles- Mrs P.A.W.S. Creator of Paws Adventure Walking Service, two beautiful children and this blog post!
It's not often in life you get to meet some pretty inspirational and interesting people who have a love for the same things as yourself. Most recently I've rubbed noses (not literally) with the lovely NIsha Katona of Mowgli Trust Dog Show/ Mowgli Street Food fame, and Dominic Hodgson best selling author of 'How To Be Your Dog's Superhero', soon to be best selling author of his next book 'Worry Free Walks' both of whom I got connected to through a mutual love for dogs. So to add to this by meeting Kate Humble last night, a lady who I have admired and like for years, was a real treat.
I've liked Kate for a long time and her programmes have been an inspiration to me for a decade. She has presented all my favourites over the years from Spring Watch, Countryfile, and my favourite of them all Lambing Live.....a particular highlight. Infact Kate Humble and Adam Henson are one of the key influencers in my decision to up sticks off to the Lake District in 2010 in search of a rural life. I was lucky enough to find that rural life and had four years doing my own lambing live! It was a lot more brutal in real life, I have to admit, the non edited version saw me quite literally up to my elbows in sheep birth and at 4am in the morning it's quite a bleak and sometimes upsetting place to be, nothing like the Lambing Live I was used to watching from the comfort of my own sofa. So fast forward 8 years and I'm now mother to my own little lambs aged 4 and 5, and I'm knee deep in dogs rather than lambs, but the love of being outdoors and amongst animals and nature is always key for me and this is what drew me to Kate's new book.
So last night, I met Kate through her book signing with Linghams Booksellers for her new book 'Thinking On My Feet' which is a celebration of the simple act of walking. It's beautifully written and has a strong message running through it; to improve your health and well being.....walk more. It's free, easy to do and is a brilliant way to escape the daily and increasingly overbearing technological age that we live in.
As a professional dog walker, I walk every day come rain, hail , snow or shine and I absolutely LOVE it. It goes without saying that I love working with dogs but crucially it's the being outdoors that keeps me sane. As a single mum of two young children and a business to run, with two staff members to support and a never ending barrage of to do lists, phone calls to make, social media to see to and a household to run it's pretty tough at times. My head is absolutely full of stuff......what are we going to eat for dinner, what do the children need for school today, what time am I supposed to me meeting that new client, how many emails do I need to reply to today, the list is endless! But, when I am out there walking, putting one foot in front of the other, just like Kate says in the book......my mind is peaceful, clear, almost meditative. I can THINK and have space to de-clutter that head space. I notice nature all around me, the simple things give me pleasure, the air fills my head and I am happy. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, the dogs love it too, they are mindful and see the joy that is right there, they feel the surroundings and immerse themselves in it fully and I'm thankful to say that I do too. OK admittedly, I don't immerse myself quite as much as the dogs as they happily roll in the fox poo and eat shells, but I'm pretty immersed most of the time, and it really is good for me......a therapy and an escape from the busy full throttle life that awaits me once the walk has ended.
So it's clear that Kate's book resonates with me and meeting her and seeing her enthusiasm for the great outdoors, for walking, for nature and animals is contagious. She is as lovely in real life as she is on the telly box. So if you are feeling a bit low, or tired and a bit gloomy now that winter is upon us, grab the book and immerse yourself in a great read and then do something that will really help to raise your mood; grab that lead and tell your dog it's walkies time, wrap up warm and head on out. Look out for nature as you go and embrace the natural world, its a commodity that is free and has so much to offer and even if it's just a little Robin that you stumble across, a Wirral Rock that you find and re-hide, a squirrel looking for his hidden nuts or another dog walker just enjoying the exercise and the inspiration from all that surrounds you. Allow yourself to be humbled by nature and the little joys of being outdoors and return home feeling that little bit better.
For more information on how dog walking can help you feel better click here for read my previous blog.
For more information on Kate's book, click here.
Sarah Marles - Mrs P.A.W.S. owner and creator of Paws Adventure Walking Service, and Gemma Rogers - Canine Fulfillment Officer at P.A.W.S.
It's World Mental Health Day today, and this got us thinking about how our mental health affects everything we do in life, our job, our relationships, the way we feel about ourselves and how we communicate and act when alone and in company. In turn, this got us thinking about how things would be better if everyone was a little more DOG. Dogs are such amazing creatures, full of unconditional love, unquestioning affection and the ability to find joy in everything. In fact, we came to conclusion that just owning a dog has a positive impact on your mental health, and here's how......
For more information on World Mental Health Day, visit the MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION WEBSITE HERE.
Until next time,
By Sarah Marles- Mrs P.A.W.S.
You can tell it's Halloween season with the leaves turning golden, the temperature dropping and the children settling back into school. Pick your own pumpkins are popping up in fields across the countryside and farms are enticing us in with their tractor rides, toffee apples and PYO pumpkin experiences. It's this part of October that I love. As a dog walker this season is my absolute favourite. The crowds have gone from the local beauty spots, the countryside looks stunning bathed in a golden glow with low sunshine streaming through the bronzed and tarnished tree canopies and the wildlife is crazy busy getting all their stores full to the brim before the ravages of winter takes hold. It's a great time for dogs too, as they rustle through the leaves and splash in the streams now full with rainfall after the parched dryness of the scorching summer, and chase the abundance of squirrels from tree to tree, wishing they could climb up and savage the little furry blighters!
Dogs can also benefit health wise from the season by eating the pumpkins themselves, and unusually this is one of the only fruits a dog can eat safely, with lots of health benefits.
So here's 7 health benefits for your dog provided by pumpkin:
1. Pumpkin is great for digestive issues in dogs.
Some dog owners may already know that pumpkin is a good remedy for diarrhea, but it’s also good for relieving constipation in dogs. Dogs that have IBS or require a bland diet may benefit from adding pumpkin to their food on a regular basis. It's easy to digest and the taste is actually enjoyed by even the fussiest eater.
2. Pumpkins are full of healthy goodness that's great for dogs.
Pumpkins contain a lot of fiber while being low in calories, fat and cholesterol. They contain a good amount of beta-carotene along with magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and C.
3. Pumpkin seeds are packed with health boosting vitamins and minerals.
Pumpkin seeds contain plant-based, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants along with other beneficial nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc.
4. Pumpkin seeds are proven to improve insulin regulation in animals (and humans) aiding urinary health (prevention of kidney stones) and in reducing inflammation.
5. Pumpkins are a great way to bulk up your dogs food with fibre without adding too many calories. It is therefore ideal in aiding weight loss in your dog, whilst keeping him fuller for longer.
6. Pumpkin is said to contain oils that help improve a dogs coat making it glossy and shiny, along with easing itchy, sensitive skin conditions.
7. Ongoing research has found that the amino acid cucurbitin, found in pumpkin and pumpkin seeds may be a natural dewormer for tapeworm and other intestinal parasites.
With such impressive health benefits, it would be a shame to limit your dogs access to this super-food to autumn time only. Pumpkin can be found canned in many super markets or online nowadays, to give your dog a natural, health boost all year round. Alternatively, you can simply puree the pumpkin pulp now and freeze them into ice cube sizes chunks ready to thaw and feed as required.
Please remember NOT to feed carved pumpkin that is not fresh as it is likely to have mould etc growing and could lead to stomach upsets. Fresh is always best.
So how much should you feed your dog?
Well, it only takes a small amount of pumpkin each day to treat diarrhea or constipation problems in dogs so it's important not to feed too much pumpkin because it is so high in fibre.
The recommended amount is between a few teaspoons per day for small dogs to a few tablespoons for larger dogs. It’s important to check with your vet first to get the recommended amount for the weight of your dog. Follow up with an appointment if digestive problems persist.
Increase the amount slowly to allow your dog to adjust to the amount of additional fibre in his diet.
So enjoy this autumn and the PYO pumpkin season, have fun and boost your dogs health all at the same time!
Happy Halloween Folks,
Sarah Marles- Mrs P.A.W.S.
I've been visiting a lot of cafe's with the family recently and am impressed with the amount of places that now allow dogs inside the premises and offer dog treats too. As a dog lover I was always a bit naffed off when an eatery refused us entry if we had our dog with us. Part of the pleasure of owning a dog is spending time with them as part of the family, so after a nice walk, if we fancied a bit of lunch I didn't necessarily want to have to sit outside.
It seems that we were not alone, and as a result more and more businesses are accepting our pooches with open arms and making a point of making them welcome. So next time you fancy a bite to eat with your beloved pooch, here's our top 5 places on the Wirral to enjoy!
First up is Kirby Park Cafe in West Kirby, a small and quirky, railway style cafe close to the Wirral Way at Cubbins Green. Open 7 days a week and serving delicious cakes, sandwiches, ice cream and hot drinks, dogs are allowed inside and out in the court yard to the rear. The counter top has some nice doggy treats on offer and the atmosphere is very relaxed. A little sunny gem during warm weather, yet cosy and snuggly to warm the cockles on a chilly day too.
Next is Otto Lounge in Heswall/ Marino Lounge in New Brighton. These two busy little places are brimming with people, children and dogs alike. The reason why? The menu and atmosphere are great, the food is delicious and the variety caters for everyone. Always bustling (particularly New Brighton) and dogs are confined to an allocated area but all in all well worth a visit after an energetic dog walk.
We are very pleased to include the wonderful Claremont Farm Cafe in this list now. A new addition to the old set-up, Claremont Farm have added an inside doggy-friendly section to their already very popular cafe. Always busy with a great atmosphere, the food is sublime, fresh and seasonal and the location is perfect for dog walkers and foodies alike. Thumbs up to Claremont Farm for recognising that us dog walkers are hardy beings but don't always want to sit outside if the weather's a bit pants!
Not far from Claremont Farm, and equally well situated after a dog walk is The Garden Room at Brimstage. This tiny but well set out corner cafe within the Brimstage court yard is full of character and offers lovely sandwiches and cakes to tickle your fancy. Dogs are welcome inside and in the cute courtyard outside and are offered treats upon arrival. A family run place with a nice atmosphere and perfect location.
Finally, it wouldn't be a dog friendly cafe list without the mention of Flossy's in Thurstaston. Originally called GJ's cafe it has changed hands and gone even more (full-on) dog! It always has been a great menu with good quality food at a reasonable price, but now with fresh decor, a dog watering station, dog treats galore and doggy yogurt it's the perfect stop off after a walk along the Wirral Way, Wirral Country Park or beach.
So there you have it, some little doggy eatery gems right on our door step. The list doesn't end there of course. With so many dog owners on the Wirral, businesses would be mad not to improve their dogs-welcome message and it's great to see so many of them doing so.
So get yourselves out there, and make a bit of a day of it. The daily dog walk can be a day out, try somewhere new and enjoy yourselves.
Until next time,
By Gemma Rogers- Canine Fulfillment Officer at PAWS Adventure Walking Service.
We welcome autumn with open arms and fondly greet the crisp mornings and crunchy leaves underfoot. For the PAWS team it’s our absolute favourite season. We are no longer worried about dogs overheating in the summer sun and we’re not getting bitten by mosquitos. We’ve got our wellies on and are ready for some high-energy fun!