Friday, 31 January 2014

Getting set for summer

Yes, we're quite comfortable, thank you.
It's raining yet again - it seems as though it will never stop. Archie and Angel went out for a run earlier and got soaked. Having come back home and been towelled off and fed, they got themselves cosily snuggled under a couple of fleeces and have been there ever since, studiously ignoring all my suggestions that they might like to take a turn around the garden to have a wee.
I think they probably have the right idea, and if it's too wet to get on with anything outdoors, there is still plenty you can do inside in the warm and dry. I've worked out what veggies will be going in which beds in the allotment this year, have sorted out those seeds which are in packets so I don't end up buying duplicates, and made a start on sorting out the loose ones which I harvested last year.
Waiting to be filled!

Rather than putting them in paper envelopes I've been saving up old herb bottles and containers - the sort you buy in supermarkets. The ones with little holes in the tops are ideal for scattering the finer seeds, and you don't end up with the problem of them getting stuck in the corners of envelopes either. And they are just as easy to label - just stick an address label on.
Got any tips of your own to share?

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Friday, 24 January 2014

When it's wet ...

It's been raining a lot lately. You may have noticed ...
And when it's wet, some dogs may lose their housetraining; it's not that they have forgotten where they should be emptying bowels and bladders, so much as that they simply don't want to go out into the wet and cold to do it. I can't say I blame them - it can't be much fun.

Not very nice going out when it's snowing either!
Dogs with plenty of covering will probably be fine, but those with fine, single coats and low body fat which feel the effects of being cold and wet more, will often hang on for as long as possible - and when they can wait no longer and really need to go, will go indoors instead. If pushed out the door into the garden, some will simply come straight back in and then get on with relieving themselves. My two are very good about always asking when they need to go out, but when the weather is really bad they are often so appalled at the thought of spending any time at all out in it that I have met the front end coming back in as the back end is still going out.
So be nice. Put a jacket on your pet - it can make
a big difference to your dog's willingness to go out in the garden and do what he has to do. If you have a small dog, a garden table moved onto the lawn can be a refuge from the rain where he can do the necessary - one of the sort with legs set at the outside so he can get underneath it.
And don't just shove him outside on his own, but actually go out with him (bet you put a coat on too - so maybe you're dog isn't being so wussy after all) so you can check that he really has done what he was supposed to. If necessary, put a leash on him so he can't just hang around the back door demanding to be allowed back in. It does help if you have taught a command to wee, as your dog will know exactly what you want him to do, will get on with it and you can both get back indoors again more quickly. And once he has gone, praise him and offer a reward. Make it as pleasant and worthwhile as possible for him to brave going out!
Okay, we're all done - now let us in!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Strictly for the birds

Although it's very mild at the moment, don't forget to keep feeding the birds ... Just as importantly, make sure that your feeders and birdtables are out of reach of your dogs: not just for the safety of feathered visitors, but to prevent your pet from scoffing the lot! For some reason bird seed has an irresistible allure and my two will make a beeline for the feeders when they go out to check for any fallen seed.
While seed mixes are probably safe enough, some bird food mixes include dried fruit, which is not such good news if your dog snacks on them - as you probably know, grapes and their dried counterparts, in the form of currants, raisins and sultanas, can be fatal if eaten, even in moderately small quantities. To be on the safe side, avoid using mixes that contain dried fruit: and although a little seed-grazing probably won't do any harm to your dog, there have been a few reported incidents of severe gastric upsets following seed-eating.
If you want to be on the ultra-safe side, position your feeders in places where your dog
can't access any seed that is dropped, or use ones which have trays beneath to catch it. 

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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Saving the lawn

It has been so wet recently that the ground is waterlogged and squelches as you walk across it. That is of course, if you are one of the lucky ones who isn't actually suffering from flooding or clearing up after the effects of it - my sympathies if you are, and a soggy lawn is probably the least of your worries.

Sustained periods of wet weather at any time of year means that lawns are going to be more susceptible to damage from your dog if he is the active sort: it doesn't take long for that patch of green to turn into a muddy brown bog which it may struggle to recover from.
The obvious way to minimise the damage is of course, by taking your dog out for walks in areas where he can free run and let off steam. It's not always easy at this time of year though, when daylight hours are still very short and it may not be possible to allow your dog to run safely off leash in the dark before or after work. You could try hiring the services of a dogwalker to ensure your pet gets some exercise during the day - or alternatively, be ingenious and encourage your dog to exercise a little more gently when in the garden. You can do this by setting up a treasure trail for him to follow, hiding treats, doing some training, and providing various problem solving activities and toys - these will all engage his brain as well as his body while protecting your lawn. In the weeks to come I'll be writing about these in a bit more detail.
As well as preserving your lawn, taking things a bit more gently will reduce the likelihood of injury to your dog too, as wet ground will also be slippery, increasing the likelihood of him straining or twisting something running around in a confined space. At the weekends, you can then catch up on a bit of free-running exercise - although remember that your dog may not be very fit, so be careful that he doesn't overdo things.

Dog-friendly gardening- click here for link

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The 12th day of Christmas

And now that Christmas and the New Year are over, it's time
to think about the garden again!