Balance Harness Review

Mrs Chew’s 2nd harness was a Balance Harness. There are several other versions available, but ours is Australian-made by Black Dog. This is advertised as a No-Pull, front-leading harness.

Mrs Chew’s first harness was a step-in, back-clipping one that only had her pulling even harder. See previous post.

The Balance Harness works in a fashion, but we don’t like the way it gapes open at the shoulder when Mrs Chew pulls to one side. It looks like an unruly bra strap that needs pulling back into place – women readers will understand 😉.

It is quite easy to put on, you just have to remember that the black strap goes across the dog’s chest. You then clip your lead to the front ring on the black strap. For added control, you can clip another lead to the dog’s collar. 

There is nothing connecting the back of the Balance Harness to the dog’s collar at the back. You can however buy a “Connector Strap”, which is simply a short strap with a snaphook attached to one end, which you then slip through the Balance Harness’s back strap and clip to the dog’s collar. 

Here’s an illustration by Lori Stevens showing how the Balance Harness works:

Black Dog‘s Balance Harness packaging:

And here’s Mrs Chew wearing the harness:

You can see in the last photo how the black chest strap is gaping at the shoulder. 

Opposition Reflex

​Flashback to just over 8 months ago, when Mrs Chew first started walking with a Harness. This was her first Harness, a step-in which clips on the back. Dogs have an instinctive “Opposition Reflex” which means they will pull or push in the opposite direction to where the force of pressure is. So, if you’re holding them back by pulling on the harness, their instinct is to pull forward even harder. Think sled dogs. 

We had to use 2 leads to control Mrs Chew’s pulling. One was a standard nylon webbing lead, clipped to the harness. The other was a shorter, chain lead, clipped to Mrs Chew’s collar. And we had to “steer” Mrs Chew using both leads, as she was pulling really hard. It did not make for a very pleasant experience for anyone involved. Needless to say, we were soon casting about for a better Harness system. 

Tomorrow we’ll tell you about Mrs Chew’s 2nd Harness. 

#MrYipAndMrsChew #AlyZenMoonshadow #harness #dogbehaviour #caninepsychology #dogwalking #dogharnesschallenge #dogsofinstagram #dogsofperth #staffycross

Climate Change for Dogs

Mr Yip is a scruffy terrier cross, and came from indeterminate origins in Ireland. That doesn’t detract from his cuteness one iota, of course 😉. Mr Yip’s fur is coarse, wiry and thick, mostly white with grey and black and a smidgeon of brown, and he also has black ticking underneath all that white. In a word, he’s Unique!

Now, Ireland is in the Northern Hemisphere, as we all know, and Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere. The seasons therefore are reversed. 

When it’s Winter in Ireland (December-Feb), it’s Summer in Australia. 

When it’s Spring in Ireland (Mar – May), it’s Autumn in Australia. 

When it’s Summer in Ireland (June- August), it’s Winter in Australia. 

When it’s Autumn in Ireland (September – November), it’s Spring in Australia.

Well, no one told Mr Yip that. When he first arrived in Australia in December 2010, it was from a below-freezing Minus 10 degrees in Dublin, to a scorching 35 degrees in Perth. Mr Yip was in his full winter furcoat, and he must have suffered in the sudden change in temperature. A month spent in Quarantine did not make him shed his winter coat. 

In fact, in the 6 years that Mr Yip has been in Australia, his fur habits have never adapted to the Australian climate. Hypoallergemic he most certainly is Not! True to his Northern Hemisphere nature, he sheds the most in Australia’s Winter, when he really should be at his fluffiest. And he’s a real fluffball at the height of the Australian Summer, when he should be thin and lean. 

So, if you’re reading this and are considering a tree change from one end of the world to the other, spare a thought for your pets. They may not necessarily ever change their shedding habits. Speaking of trees, we have also observed that some European trees planted in Australia also appear to Not acclimatize, even after many years…we have seen trees shedding their russet leaves in Spring instead of Autumn, or flowering in Winter. 

Dogs from cold climates with very thick coats, especially Huskies and Malamutes, suffer in the stifling Australian Summers, and a swimming pool or even a clamshell paddling pool, or regular showers to cool down, will help tremendously. 

So, if the Aussie lifestyle appeals to you, do spare a thought for your dogs and other pets, before buying that (very expensive) one-way ticket! 

Bite-sized Advice: Getting more than 1 Dog

​Thinking of getting more than 1 dog? The best combination, to avoid conflict, is:

1)different breeds 

2)different sizes 

3) different sexes 

4)different ages. 

Mr Yip is 8 years old and a medium-sized Terrier X, Mrs Chew is nearly 4 years old and a large Staffy X Mastiff. 

And yes, we are very different, but we love each other all the same! ❤🐾❤

Now all we need is … a new puppy! 😄

Dog Biscuits vs Dog Kibble

Recently we saw a post on Facebook where someone mentioned receiving donations of dog biscuits. The accompanying photo showed a mountain of bags of a well-known Australian brand of dog food. However, these were carelessly called “dog biscuits” by the person thanking the company for their kind donation.

We, Mr Yip and Mrs Chew, would just like to politely point out that that person is either not a real dog person or just ignorant of the BIG difference between dog BISCUITS and dog KIBBLE.

Dog Biscuits are like human biscuits – made as treats, containing dubious nutritional value, to be eaten sparingly. 

Dog Kibble, on the other hand, when made by reputable brands, is a Complete Dog Food. Dogs can subsist and thrive on just eating Kibble and drinking water (but it would be a very boring diet, indeed, and dogs do like variety in their food!). A Complete Food simply means it provides all the nutrients a dog requires to keep it in optimal health – all the essential vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates etc that a dog needs to grow or maintain its health. 

These are Dog Biscuits:

This is a typical Nutritional Content listing for Dog Biscuits:

Yes, we know…not much there, right? Basically, the same as you’d find in a box of biscuits made for humans. 

This is a bowl of Dog Kibble:

And here’s the Nutritional Content of a typical bag of manufactured Dog Kibble:

When reading a pet food label, always start with the “Guaranteed Analysis” list. That will give you a good idea of whether the product is excellent, good, mediocre or just plain rubbish. 

Depending on the dog’s age, size and energy requirements, the protein content in dog kibble should be between 21-24 percent. Older dogs will require less protein. 

Next, read the Ingredients Label. This is not to be confused with the Nutritional analysis of the product. The Ingredients List merely states, in descending order of occurrence, everything that constitutes the product. We can tell from the list of ingredients that the product below is of excellent quality.

If you really want to know more about what’s good or bad for dogs to eat, read this enlightening article by Roger Biduk. It’s a real eye-opener!

Oh, and remember this also – stay away from products with food colouring. They have no nutritional value whatsoever, and if you’ve read Roger Biduk’s article above, you’ll know that they’re also known culprits for making human children hyperactive and for causing allergies. The same goes for dogs too! So, if you MUST give your dogs cake, please don’t give them Chocolate cake (it makes dogs very ill and can be fatal!), and if the cake has coloured icing or frosting on it, please remove them first! 

Mr Yip And Mrs Chew would like to thank you for reading their BiteSized Advice. ❤🐾❤

Stormy Weather Tips for Pets

​Here it’s wet and windy out today, so we’re just gonna camp out on our Human’s bed! 

Remember, if the weather is wild, keep your beloved pets indoors, maybe in a secure and quiet room or crate, close the curtains/blinds, turn the radio/tv on for soothing background noise, or try softly playing music. 

A thundershirt or DIY anxiety wrap also works for very stressed dogs. 

Or try a few drops of Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets in their water dish, or rubbed around their ears and cheeks to help calm them. 

Play and treats can also work as distractions from the sound of stormy weather. 

If static in the air is bothering your pet, try rubbing their bodies with a fabric conditioning sheet or even a slightly damp soft towel, to neutralize the static buildup…nobody likes frizzy, crackly hair! 

Dog Rescue – 27th July 2016

http://wp.me/p3JNYN-5uI

Our Human had quite an adventure this afternoon. She rescued a dog! Read about it here http://wp.me/p3JNYN-5uI

Oooh, it was so dramatic! Our Human tells us she was just sitting on the bus thinking about how other people always seemed to be finding stray dogs or sighting missing ones, yet she’s never come across any excitement like that, when BAM!! That dog comes on board the bus, and her whole life changes! She says she feels so good inside that she really, really wants to rescue more dogs. So she’s going to do some more research into that. 

Pokemon Go? How about Pokemon NO!

Very recently it came to Mr Yip and Mrs Chew’s attention that the world at large had taken up playing a mobile phone game called Pokemon Go. The object of the game is to catch Pokemons, a portmanteau word for “pocket monsters”, and train them virtually to fight others?!! To catch a Pokemon, players have to physically walk around looking at “augmented reality” visuals on their smartphones i.e where the game’s graphics are overlayed with the player’s surroundings in real life.

This phenomenon has seen hordes of players congregating at hotspots where Pokemon can be caught. It has led to accidents and near-accidents happening due to players paying no attention to where they’re going, so intent are they on looking at their mobile phone screens. The game was only released a few days ago in America and Australia, and already there have been fatalities due to the stupidity and recklessness of players. Or players simply forgot they could not really fly in real life. There have been robberies, stabbings, attempted kidnappings, and crooks have set up “lures” to get unsuspecting players to go to shady, dangerous areas, where they then commit their crimes. Players have even been spotted playing Pokemon Go while driving their cars! Police in America and Australia have started posting warnings for people to exercise intelligence and caution when playing the game. Tourists have begun complaining that certain beauty spots are now spoilt from being crowded with zombie hordes of mobile phone-gazing people.

All the above are verifiable online and in newspapers. Here’s one from the West Australian:

On the plus side, Pokemon Go has gotten people off their couches and beds, and out into the fresh air, and getting exercise. Which is great, only Mr Yip and Mrs Chew can’t help but wonder if they’re really enjoying their surroundings or are just intent on catching a rare Pokemon. Apparently, people are starting to talk to each other and to total strangers, about the game. It’s been seen as bringing people together, but would these people have anything to say to each other if their mobile phones were switched off, or if Pokemon Go did not exist?

But here’s what Mr Yip and Mrs Chew really want to talk about today. An Animal Shelter in Muncie, USA recently advertised for volunteers to walk their dogs while playing Pokemon Go. Here is the ad, from Google:

We were Very concerned when we saw this, and even more so when we saw that it was being lauded by many as a “brilliant idea”, “great initiative”,”innovative”. It seems everyone with a Social Media presence has jumped on the bandwagon and endorsed this idea without considering all aspects of it. The most important of which is of course, the welfare of the Shelter dogs themselves.

We are quite possibly the only canine voice of reason in this sea of Madness the world is currently awash in. We know there are other people out there who feel just as strongly against Pokemon Go, and they have their own valid reasons. As dogs, however, and speaking from the viewpoint of dog welfare, Mr Yip and Mrs Chew feel compelled to write this very long post in response to the whole idea of walking dogs while playing Pokemon Go. Just DON’T do it!

Shelter dogs aren’t like household pets. They can be timid, or have fear aggression, be aggressive, reactive to other dogs or humans, be car chasers, have behavioural issues, etc. 

Your dog at home knows you, is familiar with you and loves you. A Shelter dog when being walked by a Volunteer may not have had much socialisation if at all with the handler. 

Your pet dog knows its boundaries. You’ve trained it to understand what it’s allowed to do or not. It knows your expectations. You know your dog and how it behaves, and you know how to handle it. This is from months, if not years of living with the dog. A Shelter dog has no such luxury with a Volunteer dog walker. It can therefore be unpredictable, likewise the Volunteer too. 

A dog that has been cooped up in the home all day looks forward most eagerly to going for a walk. It’s the highlight of the day. Mr Yip and Mrs Chew will attest to that! A Shelter dog will want to get out of the kennel environment too, it will be looking forward to being able to run around, sniff at all the posts and trees and leave its own signature by pee-mail. There may be interesting animal scents to track, muddy patches to roll in. Or even just the freedom of being able to stretch its legs and relieve itself. 

Add Pokemon Go to the equation, and all logic and caution fly out the window, it seems. Yes, a responsible Shelter trains its Volunteers before they’re allowed to handle any dogs. But that training is basic and does not cover how to handle dog reactivity, or what to do to prevent fights or redirection – these are advanced techniques taught to more experienced dog walkers and handlers, and sometimes can take months/years to fully be au fait with it. Even experienced handlers and Trainers get bitten sometimes. A rookie Volunteer dog walker would panic and freeze, no doubt.

Those who say they don’t need to watch their mobile phones while walking a Shelter dog, because all they need to do is walk a certain distance in order to “hatch” a Pokemon Egg, are only lying to themselves and others. If you know there are going to be Pokemon in the area you’re in, of course you won’t be able to resist whipping out your phone and searching for them. And if you see a whole bunch of other players heading for the same area, you know there’ll be Pokemon there, and of course your natural inclination will be to hurry there…with your Shelter dog in tow. 

Imagine this scenario then…a dozen inexperienced, rookie Volunteer Dog Walkers, walking dogs they are not familiar with, converging at one spot. What do you suppose will happen? As we’ve mentioned earlier, Shelter dogs may have issues, the Volunteers here are inexperienced, walking unfamiliar dogs and furthermore, are incapacitated by having only one hand holding their dog’s leash, while their other hand, and their eyes, attention and concentration, are glued to their mobile phones.

Here’s what could happen:

– dog leads get entangled

– dogs start fighting

– Volunteer dog walkers try pulling their respective dogs away from each other

– dogs redirect towards their handlers out of frustration because they can’t escape from the melee, or because their handlers are physically trying to prise them off the other dog. Redirection means the dog is frustrated by being thwarted from its intention and instead latches onto the next closest thing to it, usually its handler

And we all know very well what happens when someone gets bitten by a dog. Usually the reason the person got bitten is not considered, just the fact that the dog bit someone is. 😢

Another scenario: players are happily walking their Shelter dog and playing Pokemon Go without mishap. Then they suddenly realise they’ve been out for 3 hours, it’s baking hot, the dog has been dragging its heels for the last 2 hours, it hasn’t had any water or shade, and the Shelter is oh so far away. The Volunteer decides there’s no point walking 3 hours back to the Shelter, because the dog won’t make it, and besides, all the Pokemon that way have already been caught. And so, what do you think may happen?

The Volunteer unclips the dog’s leash and lets it run off. And then he/she finally stops his/her Pokemon Go game…only to phone the Shelter and report that “I’m so sorry, the dog escaped from its leash and I’ve been trying to find it for the last 2 hours”.

An improbable scenario? Don’t underestimate some people! Mr Yip and Mrs Chew would certainly hope that this scenario NEVER happens, and that people retain enough common sense to NOT volunteer to walk Shelter dogs just so they can play Pokemon Go!

Walk dogs because you feel compelled to. Don’t use it as an excuse to play a game. The whole idea looks good on paper, but the motive behind it is just wrong. Surely the welfare of the dogs is more important than some stupid mobile phone game?

Just because everyone you know is playing the game does not necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do? Are you a human being or a sheeple? Please, for the sake of all dogs in the world, be they Shelter dogs or household pets, DO NOT play Pokemon Go while walking a dog, and DO NOT walk a dog while playing Pokemon Go! Keep the two separate, always, PLEASE!

Here is a video of comedian Mr Bean, that some clever person has turned into a “Mr Bean meets Pokemon Go” parody. He’s holding a compass in his hand (the original Mr Bean comedy series was aired years before mobile phones were the norm), but the way his concentration is fixed on what’s in his hand, and the obstacles he bumps into or the near misses with traffic, etc…that is exactly what a Pokemon Player looks like to an onlooker. Can you imagine if a dog was attached to Mr Bean’s other hand?

https://youtu.be/pI9hAFl_QRE

Mr Yip and Mrs Chew say Pokemon NO!! 

Pet Communication: Dogs And Cats

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Found this cute infographic on dog and cat language for you, dear animal loving folks. Worth a read, to better acquaint yourselves with your beloved pooches and moggies. 

Mrs Chew: As dogs, we may not say much, in fact we say nothing at all, but our bodies speak volumes. So, next time you’re playing with us or taking us for a walk, do take a few minutes to observe our behaviour. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you can learn! We DO communicate, both to other dogs and to humans. But because we lack the same kind of vocal chords humans have, we can’t articulate the same sounds. And because we lack opposable thumbs or indeed any real fingers, we can’t communicate using Deaf Sign Language like Koko the gorilla can. So it’s up to You humans to learn how to read and interpret OUR language. 

Mr Yip: Pay attention to our barking. Not every bark says the same thing. Also tail wagging – not every wag is a friendly gesture! Children especially should learn more about dog body language, as not every dog likes to be rushed upon and hugged straight on, or even patted on the head. In fact, those are a real No-No in polite canine society! Little dogs may look cute and cuddly, and naturally little young humans are drawn to that, but try to remember also, that little dogs have teeny tiny razor sharp teeth. So please, kids, don’t go running up to strange dogs in the street and wanting to stroke them. You don’t know them, and they don’t know you, so let’s get introduced first, okay? 

Infographic : Doggy DNA

Mr Yip is a Terrier Cross, otherwise of indeterminate breeding.

Aka a “mutt”.

Mrs Chew is a Staffy X Mastiff. By Staffy I mean probably American Staffordshire Terrier, rather than the smaller, squatter English Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Also a “mutt”.

Two beautiful mutts with distinctively different personalities, and characters that in no way represent their breed or mixture of breeds.

All dogs are individuals. You cannot label any dog simply by its breed designation, and expect it to conform and behave exactly like it says on the tin.

Mr Yip and Mrs Chew are testament to that. Mrs Chew can easily pass for a Pit Bull Terrier, but if you didn’t already know, there is no such thing as a Pit Bull Terrier breed – it is a conglomeration of various different breeds known collectively under the “Staffy/Bully” umbrella.

We hope this Infographic, found on Google, will help you further understand the genetic make-up of dogs. And that the days of judging a book by its cover, or a dog by its breed name, are numbered.

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