Understanding Your Labrador

Body Language

Body language is an important means of communication between dogs, which they use to make friends, to assert status, and to avoid conflict. It is important to get on your dog’s wavelength by understanding his body language and reading his facial expressions.

  • A positive body posture and a wagging tail indicate a happy, confident dog.
  • A crouched body posture with ears back and tail down show that a dog is being submissive. A dog may do this when he is being told off or if a more assertive dog approaches him.
  • A bold dog will stand tall, looking strong and alert. His ears will be forward and his tail will be held high.
  • A dog who raises his hackles is trying to look as scary as possible. This may be the prelude to aggressive behaviour, but, in many cases, the dog is apprehensive and is unsure how to cope with a situation.
  • A playful dog will go down on his front legs while standing on his hind legs in a bow position. this friendly invitation says “let’s play!”
  • A dominant, aggressive dog will meet meet other dogs with a hard stare. If he is challenged, he may bare his teeth and growl, and the corners of his mouth will be drawn forward. How ears will be forward and he will appear tense in every muscle.
  • A nervous dog will often show aggressive behaviour as a means of self-protection. If threatened, this dog will lower his head an flatten his ears. The corners of his mouth may be drawn back, and he may bark or whine.
  • Some dogs are ‘smilers’, curling up their top lip and showing their teeth when they greet people. This should never be confused with a snarl, which would be accompanied by the upright posture of a dominant dog. A smiling dog will have a low body posture and a wagging tail; he is being submissive and it is a greeting that is often used when low ranking animals greet high ranking animals in a pack.

Secret Weapon

Building a strong recall

You can build up a strong recall by using a form of association learning. Buy yourself a whistle, and when you are giving your Lab his food, peep on the whistle. You can choose the type of signal you want to give for example, two short peeps or one long whistle. Within a matter of days, your dog will learn that the sound of the whistle means that food is coming.

Now after a few days your Lab should be ready to take the lesson outside. Grab yourself his favourite treats and the whistle. Allow your Lab to run free in the garden Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 17.38.22and after a few minutes of free roaming use the whistle. The dog has already learnt to associate the whistle with food, so he will come to you. Now immediately reward him with a treat and lots of praise. Repeat this task a few times in the garden to ensure you are confident before trying it in the local field. Remember – make sure you always carry treats with you when out on walkies, and your dog will quickly learn how rewarding it is to come to you!


Why do Labrador Retrievers love water?

It goes without saying, nearly all Labradors love water! Whether it’s a little paddle to a full blown swim. So why is this?

Labrador Retrievers assisted English fisherman in Canada back in the 1800’s to early 1900’s. They helped retrieve fish that had fallen overboard and haul heavy nets. With their large paws which power them through water and an otter-like tail which acts as a rudder it’s no surprise they are great swimmers.

We believe overtime they have homed their swimming skills and passed them down through generations just like their retrieving abilities.

Here’s a quick video of our resident Labrador, Barley, loving a big SPLASH!


A Dog Harness Or Collar?

It’s often asked what is better for your dog. The dog harness or the leather dog collar…

The Dog Harness

Pros of the dog harness:

  • A properly fitted harness will give the walker much more control over the dog particularly over pulling, lunging or jumping behaviours.
  • Large dogs that are difficult to control should always be walked on a harness.
  • Dogs which have not been trained to walk, or who have not been socialised with other people and animals, should be walked on a harness.
  • A dog harness is best for use in brachycephalic dog breeds – which have flattened facial features – as these dogs can develop respiratory stress if too much pressure is put on their throat and neck area.
  • A harness should always be used to walk miniature and toy dog breeds as injury to their delicate esophagus and trachea may occur through collar pressure.

Dog Collars UKCons of the dog harness:

  • A dog harness can be difficult to put on and take off, and a harness should not be left on a dog for long periods of time.
  • Practice taking the harness on and off your dog a few times, once you – and your dog – are more comfortable with how the harness fits, it should be easier to use the harness in the future.
  • A harness should be removed after walks or training exercises are over; for this reason, rabies and identification tags should not be placed on a harness. Instead, many pet owners use a small light collar to hold their dog’s tags so the tags remain with the dog at all times.

Leather Dog Collars

Leather is a great choice for clothing and accessories that receive a lot of wear. It comes in many varieties, ranging from soft, supple leather to tough, durable varieties. Leather also works for dog collars, since it is robust yet gentle, and will last a long time if correctly cared for. When owners reside in regions that are not too damp, leather dog collars can be some of the most durable accessories for any dog. Good quality leather collars can last for the lifetime of your pet, so it is worth the outlay advises Pete from a dog collars UK based company. He suggests that:

Labradors owners should choose collars that are about 1.5 inches wide. The right size should be loose enough so the width of two fingers can fit between the neck and the collar. Young Labs will grow quickly so it is important to regularly check this.

Dog Collars UKPros of leather dog collars: 

  • Stocked in virtually all stores, can be worn most of the time (always keep an eye on your dog though).
  • Quite affordable in price.
  • Durable
  • Ideal for attaching ID tags.
  • Some collars feature a ”quick release” option similar to luggage strap fasteners which allow owners to get them on and off readily with no hassle.

Cons of leather dog collars:

  • Adjust this collar too loose and your dog may slip out of it, adjust it too tight and your dog may cough and gag.
  • Some small and delicate dogs may get a collapsed trachea from wearing a buckle collar and pulling with too much force.
  • Some dogs learn how to back out of this collar when frightened or excited.

Overall verdict

We believe that for walking dogs it is beneficial to use a dog harness rather than a leather dog collar. The harness has the extra capability of controlling your dog and will protect them against damage to the throat area.

Dog collars UK


5 things to do on your dog walks!

1) Hide & Seek

As well as enjoying chasing and tuggy games using toys, encourage your dog to use all his senses to the full by playing hide-and-seek with him. Wait for a moment when he’s busy investigating something else and slip behind a tree or bush, or squat down in a patch of long grass next to the path. Although hiding yourself from his view, make sure you can see him so you can call him again if necessary to help guide him to your hiding place, or to reveal yourself if he becomes panicky when he thinks he’s lost you.

Wait a moment or two and call his name; call again if he’s having trouble finding you to make it easier for him. When he discovers you he’ll probably be highly pleased with his cleverness, but be ready with a toy or tasty treat and plenty of praise. As well as being fun, this game can often help encourage your dog to keep a close eye on you and improve recalls.

2) Practise off-lead walking

Practise a little off-lead close control work when in a safe area where you can safely let your dog run free — never when near roads or walking on pavements which run alongside them. Keep such sessions short as they require a lot of concentration and self discipline, and make them as exciting as possible with lots of changes of speed and direction. View it as a game as much as an obedience exercise and your dog will enjoy rising to the challenge as much as you. Make sure you have some really tasty treats or a favourite and highly desirable toy to help you motivate him, especially if there are lots of other distractions and interesting things happening — he could, after all, be off doing his own thing rather than staying by your side.

3) Lead by example

Keep your dog’s attention on you and add an exciting element of unpredictability while walking on the lead by varying your speed and by making rapid changes of direction. Try zigzagging, circling, or retracing your footsteps a short distance before going forward again.

4) Take a toy

Letting your dog loose to run around off the lead doesn’t mean you need to stop interacting with him until it’s time to clip the lead back on and go home again. By all means allow him some time to himself to run round, sniff at bushes, and do other doggy things, but don’t leave him entirely to his own devices. Rather than just being the person who takes him to and from the off-lead area, become the really important companion who adds to the enjoyment. Take a favourite toy along, and from time to time invite him to join in a short but very exciting game with you — stop while he’s still interested in it and wanting more and send him off to do his own thing again. You’ll find it also encourages him to keep a close eye on you in case the toy comes out again, so he’ll be less likely to stray too far.

If your dog likes chasing after balls, it can be tempting to use a ball launcher or tennis racket to send it a long distance, but shorter throws by hand keep your dog closer to you and involve more exciting chases. Never throw sticks as they can be very dangerous — you can buy substitute rubber sticks, or use a piece of old hosepipe as an alternative.

If your dog likes chasing after balls, it can be tempting to use a ball launcher or tennis racket to send it a long distance, but shorter throws by hand keep your dog closer to you and involve more exciting chases. Never throw sticks as they can be very dangerous — you can buy substitute rubber sticks, or use a piece of old hosepipe as an alternative.

5) Do some training 

Include a few training exercises while out on walks, both when on and off the lead. As well as keeping you both up to scratch, it’s important to do the work while out and about in all sorts of different places — it’s no good having a dog who only does what you ask when at home or in training classes! Include sits, stays, downs, heelwork, and any tricks your dog knows, rewarding him between each exercise with praise, a treat, or an exciting game before releasing him for more free running. Even though he might know and be able to perform an exercise really well at home, it can be much harder for him when he’s out in a distracting environment with lots of fascinating sights, sounds, and smells, so be prepared to use high-value rewards to help motivate him. Include lots of recalls: if you only call him to you when it’s time to go home he’ll understandably be inclined to keep his distance so the fun can continue for longer. A good recall is essential if you’re going to be able to safely let your dog off lead.


Get Your Lab Into Agility

Have you tried dog Agility?

Agility was first introduced to the UK at Crufts 1978 and the structure of the competition has not changed very much over the years. It’s a comparatively new form of dog competition, where the animal’s fitness and the handler’s ability to train and direct the dog over and through certain obstacles are tested.

It is fast, furious and a great favourite with competitors and spectators alike. Your dog does not have to be a pedigree dog to take part, but it must be registered with the Kennel Club on either the Breed Register or the Activity Register.

If you decide that Agility is a suitable activity for you and your dog, your next step is to receive some expert training.  Whatever competition you choose, your dog will be a happier pet for being trained.

Getting Started in Agility

Agility can become a real addiction. It’s fun, friendly and keeps you and your dog in tip-top shape. Most people’s first view of Agility comes from the coverage of Crufts each year and the agility competitions held in December in conjunction with Olympia Horse Show. However, there are more than 300 licensed Agility Shows held annually, not to mention the numerous special sponsored events which take place nationwide.

Agility Shows are fun competitions designed for the enjoyment of competitors, and to appeal to spectators. All sorts of dogs can take part. Your dog does not have to be a pedigree but it must be registered with the Kennel Club either on the Breed Register, or the Activity Register.

The formal requirements for competing in a Kennel Club licensed Agility show are quite simple:

  • Your dog must be registered with the Kennel Club, either on the Breed Register or on the Activity Register.
  • Competitors taking part in any Kennel Club licensed event must familiarise themselves with the Kennel Club Rules and Regulations beforehand. The Agility Regulations can be found in the Agility and Flyball Regulations booklet.
  • Dogs can only enter Agility shows when they are 18 months of age or over and have been officially measured and placed in the correct height category.
  • You will need to have an Agility Record Book (available from the Kennel Club online shop) in which to record your dog’s height category and all your competition wins and clear rounds.

– See more at: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/activities/agility/new-to-agility/