4 Alternatives Positive Reinforcements To Treats
Leave a comment

No more pocketfuls of treats!


One of the big fears for would-be dog trainers is that after using treats to positively reinforce their doggy students, they will be forever reliant on having a pocketful in order to keep their canine responsive.

Not only can some dog treats set you back a lot of money, if you overuse treats as rewards you run the risk of tainting the working relationship with your pet, leading to them constantly begging or performing tricks unbidden in order to get their chops around some more food.

There’s a good reason why most dog trainers will start out using food to reinforce behaviour – for most canines, food comes at the top of the list of their initial ‘desires’. There are other ways that you can positively reinforce your hound, so that you won’t be forever faking a dip into your pocket in order for them to perform the simplest of tasks.

Try using one of these alternatives to avoid to treats and get on the path to streamlining your training technique:



dog-644111_1920Depending on the space that you are training in, a good alternative to giving your dog one of the things that it wants most (more food!) is to give it the next thing on its ‘most-wanted list’: a bit of freedom! Although it might seem counter-intuitive to let your dog off the leash (and out of control) half-way through a training session, this may well be just the thing to get him excited to perform the next trick.

This might not be the best method of reinforcement if you’re attempting to teach basic commands such as ‘Stay’ or ‘Heel’, but works just fine for tricks.


dog-1561011_1920It may sound cruel, but controlling how much your dog plays with his favourite toy can be a good strategy in the long term. As long as the dog is focused and keen on reclaiming the toy, then you will have leverage over them. Use the favoured toy in the same way that you would use a dog treat, allowing them to have free use with it for a few minutes after successfully completing an action.

You might well find that you run through dog toys a little quicker, but this problem can be solved by buying your pet sturdier toys and swapping them out with dental sticks from time to time.


dog-1736466_1920Every owner wants to think that their pet is always having fun but, in truth, our dogs are more similar to us in respects of how often we ‘play’. If we spend all our time playing then the physical act of it no longer becomes appealing, there needs to be a significant portion of our time not playing so that we can appreciate the joy of it all the more.

Try engaging your dog in specific ‘play games’; these are activities that you know that he enjoys but only employ after he’s performed a desired action.


golden-retriever-1342252_1920There’s no reason why a good pat on the back can’t work just as well a tasty treat. The key to using physical contact instead of food is finding the right form of petting. If your dog has learned a difficult, physically demanding task then he’s not likely to appreciate a terse pat.

Pay attention to how your pet responds to your petting and utilise the ones they favour most when they complete tasks that are particularly difficult.

As with all training techniques, you may find that you’ll have to try a few methods before you strike on the winning formula – just try not to despair. Remember: Every dog is different!

Food For Thought..
Leave a comment

Have you considered changing your dog’s diet?


You might think that because your dog eats all their food that they’re happy with what they’re getting, but there might be a better type of food for them!

There aren’t many people that grow up eating the same food for their whole life, but some dogs can end up doing just that. Experienced dog owners will often think that they know the best dog food for their pets and, as a result, will tend to feed their pups the same product for the entirety of their lives. Although it’s not been proven that dogs will necessarily get depressed from eating the same food everyday, there is always the chance that your dog could be healthier and happier if it ate different food.

Different dog food, whether it’s a dry biscuit, tinned meat or home-prepared meal will have a different impact on your dog’s biology, effecting everything from the glossiness of their coat to their temperament, so it’s important to make sure that your pet is getting the very best food for him.

Before you settle on giving your furry friend the same meal on a day-to-day basis, consider switching it up for one of these alternatives:

Home-cooked Meals

For some people this might seem like a step too far, but today more and more dog owners are deciding to prepare their dogs own food. This doesn’t mean quickly frying off a bit of beef either, when you choose to cook your dogs meals, you can take advantage of hundreds of recipes online and cherry pick the best ones with the help of online forums. There are a number of foods to avoid when feeding your dog but as long as you provide a good variety of nutrients, you can easily become your dog’s private chef!

Complete Foods

This is one of the most popular form of prepared dog food in the UK and convenience is really the main reason why. They are called ‘complete’ because they provide your dog with every single nutrient that they need to lead a healthy life, all you need to do is drop the right amount in their bowl each day! You can buy Complete dog foods in a variety of forms: dry, wet and raw – either way you can be satisfied that your dog is getting all the nutrients that he needs.

Raw Foods

Lastly, this is one of the fastest growing dog food trends in the UK and has seen the dog food industry change significantly. Raw dog foods can be picked up at a wide range of retailers and usually come in the form of frozen nuggets. The downside of this kind of food is that you must remember to defrost it the night before, however those that have made the switch swear by raw foods, claiming it to be the most natural way to feed your dog. You can purchase raw food in complete or complementary form, in case you wish to mix up your dog’s diet.

Our dog’s, just like us, are creatures of habit – they’re happier when they know what they’re getting and when.


With that in mind, you should always take time to consider the effect that changing your dog’s diet might have on them. Any change that you make to your dog’s diet should be made with their health in mind – so, when making a change to his diet, it’s best to make the change gradual. Introduce the new food type slowly and reduce the old type at the same rate, so as to give your dog’s digestive system a chance to adapt to the change.

Keep Him Guessing – Mixing Up Your Dogs Routine
Leave a comment

Has your dog been exhibiting signs of doggy boredom?


We often expect our canine companions to remain the same throughout the years.

Regardless of how turbulent or unstable our lives become, we can always empathise with our loyal companions, whose blissfully predictable existences are solely orchestrated by us. Although it is tempting to envy our dogs’ simple lives, is it possible that we do not consider the monotony that could set in after years of living out the same day over and over again?

We anthropomorphise our dogs on a daily basis, assigning them their own personalities, but if we wanted to afford them a semblance of intelligence then we would consider how their day-to-day lives may well have a bearing on their overall mood.

Although each and every one of our dogs is different, there are a few tell-tale signs that they are not getting the stimulation that they are in need of. Many of these fall under the ‘not-so-subtle’ category, such as demand barking or even toy presenting. However, many breeds of dogs are also capable of exhibiting subtler signs of despondency that may be easier to miss. Dogs who don’t finish their meals; who show a lack of interest in activities that they would usually enjoy (such as regular walks or training games) may well be suffering from boredom.

If you feel that your dog may well be growing tired of its routine, why not shake it up with one of these ideas?


New Toy

retriever-1865260_1280Where some pooches may well go to town on every new toy that they’re given, tearing it to shreds within moments (if this happens frequently then there may well be an underlying issue) some dogs, for whatever reason, will choose a toy as their favourite. However, all toys have their day and buying your dog a new one may well be just the thing to bring them out of their funk. You might have to try a few designs at first, you’ll know when you’ve found the right one!

Dog Holiday

dog-1149964_1920Although there are people who have taken their pets across the globe with them (we’re looking at you Loki the Wolfdog!), taking your furry pal overseas may well be more effort than its worth. Thankfully, there are now more dog-friendly destinations than ever, right here in the UK. If you’re looking for a destination that will suit both your dog and your family then North Wales is well worth a look – this site here has some great ideas on things to do whilst you’re there.

Change Their Mornings

dog-1517133_1280A dog’s morning routine is arguably the most important one of the day. Their start to the day, from waking you up with a bark to their first drink of water, shapes the way that they go on to enjoy the day, so why not change it once in a while? Try waking them up for a change and taking them on a morning walk somewhere different – consider changing their food once in a while or giving them a special meal once in a while.

Meet New Friends

dog-2039354_1280If your dog is walked on the same route at the same time each day, then the chances are that he doesn’t get to meet as many new friends that he would like. Dogs need their social time as much as we do, so try taking your dog to an evening agility class to get them out and about. If there aren’t any nearby then you can always try looking up popular dog walking parks in your local area and taking him their in the mornings or evenings, when they are at their busiest.…

Breeders Face Closer Scrutiny Under New Laws
Leave a comment

The Government is cracking down on Dog Breeders


Here’s what you need to know to breed dogs in 21st Century Britain.

Dogs have never been more popular – but is this necessarily a good thing? It may well be a very lucrative time to be a dog breeder, but this success still comes at a price. At one point, during 2014, there were an estimated 110,00 stray dogs roaming the streets of the UK, leading to 21 creatures a day being put down by Local Authorities. Although there’s no record of this number rising since then, councils are still being forced to euthanize creatures that have been found abandoned by their owners.

In recent years, the number of ‘puppy mills’ that have been discovered in the USA and UK have grown. These business are usually run by amateur breeders, who have little care for the dog’s pedigree or their well being. Due to the high demand for puppies, these opportunistic sellers have created intensive puppy mills so that they can produce as many puppies as quickly as possible. Because of the relative ease with which sellers can contact their buyers, using social media and other forms of advertising, these operations can exist under the radar with relative ease, avoiding any interference from the police or RSPCA.

However, Environmental legislators have already made some good progress this year in improving the lives of million of dogs. Earlier this month, the city of San Francisco passed legislation to outlaw the sale of non-rescue puppies (and cats) throughout its 15 or so pet stores. With this move, San Francisco joins the likes of Los Angeles (whose stray dog population was the focus of a Louis Theroux documentary in 2014), Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston in banning the sale of animals under 8 weeks old. Following San Fransico’s lead, the UK’s Environment Secretary, Angela Leadsom, has stated that the government will be bringing its own version of the law to hopefully curb the efforts of backstreet puppy sellers.


If you’re thinking about becoming a dog breeder, here are a few tips that will put you in good stead:

Dog Breeding License From Your Local Council

Although the price of this license varies depending where in the country you are working, you will always need to apply for a Dog Breeding license from your local authority before you start breeding dogs. Once you’ve registered as a breeder, its a good idea to visit one of the government recommend sites (such as Dog Advisory Council or Kennel Club) so that you can get the lowdown on your responsibilities.

Internet Know-How

Where and how you sell you dogs is important, and will no doubt settle whether your new business is a success or failure. Try and avoid advertising in cheap spots, such as Newspaper Classifieds or Notice Boards. Instead, focus on targeting niche buyers, so you know that your puppies are going to a good home. You can either start your own website, a digital marketing company can help you get going, or sign up to a trusted online selling forum.

Plenty Of Space & Bedding

Before you even think about starting wit breeding, you’re going to need to section off a large amount of space in order to raise your dogs. Whether you choose to breed with one bitch or five, each Mother needs her own space, with plenty of room for her to move around. There are some great tutorials online that give you an idea about how much space you’re going to be needing (hint: a lot!). Plenty of spare bedding is an absolute must too – no one said breeding puppies was going to be easy!


This is perhaps the most crucial of all requirements. Breeding animals is a responsibility that cannot be taken on lightly. In order to treat the animals with the respect they deserve, it is crucial that you have the entire day at your disposal so that you can look after the Mothers and provide with the care and treatment that they need. Make no mistake, breeding dogs is a full-time job and if you’re caught not treating your animals with respect, then you could be facing a hefty fine or even time in prison.…

Walk Your Dog Somewhere Beautiful
Leave a comment

Don’t get stuck in a rut with your mutt!sad-looking-dog-with-separation-anxiety

Explore somewhere beautiful with your canine companion.

Routines can be the death of stimulation.We’re all guilty of indulging in routine behaviour, it’s comforting for both us and our dogs – but it simply isn’t healthy. Office workers who walk their dogs in the morning and evening (All dogs should be walked twice a day, regardless of age or fitness) are often limited by time restrictions.

They have to get up, eat, shower and walk their dogs – all before jumping in the car to get to work. You can’t blame them for taking the easy out. When the day’s done, they’re tired, so the dog gets taken on the same work as he went on in the morning. Two walks a day, what more could a dog want?

sad-manWell, your dog needs a variety of stimulation. Not just throughout the day but throughout the entirety of the week and their lives. A dog’s world is much smaller than ours.

All that exists for them is your home and your regular walk. Imagine being trapped in a just a few square metres of land each day, the only real freedom you get is the same stretch of land – your life is rigorously scheduled and each day blurs into one. Sound familiar?

If it does, then there’s a good chance that you’re in need of some simulation too. If you’re trapped in the same 9-5 grind, walking the same walk and living in the same spaces, then you’re going to feel just as unstimulated as your pet. Routine can lead to boredom, boredom can lead to depression and depression can lead down a very dark path indeed.

Don’t let yourself slip into a routine. Life is about change. Without it, we can’t progress as individuals and we lapse into a state of stasis – whilst the rest of the world surges forward without us.

Have you ever felt that you’re being left behind in life?

Like your friends/colleagues/family are moving on through life without you?

When was the last time you made a change in your life?
There will be those that say you’re fine.

You’re doing great.

You’ve got your job/house/money/wife/husband/kids what more could you want?

Don’t listen to them. ‘Fine’ is not OK.

‘Great’ is not OK.

Why stop reaching for more, just because you’ve attained the trappings of a conventional lifestyle?

Contentment is not the goal of life. Never stop pushing yourself. Don’t stop reaching for the next rung on the ladder. Will yourself to be better with each passing day.


Paddling Paws…
Leave a comment

When a dog likes to swim, it seems, a dog loves to swim. A swimming dog can seem to be really having a hell of a lot of fun. And I believe them! I believe that they are enjoying themselves and enjoying themselves a hell of a lot. As humans grow older we tend to rid ourselves of joy, we tend to numb ourselves to simple pleasures, we tend to get rushed and goal orientated, we stop appreciating things for their immediate pleasures. Pleasures that last only in their moment. Pleasures that do not accumulate into profit. Moments of joy do accumulate through, they accumulate into a good life, they accumulate into happiness.


And happiness is the goal surely. I mean whatever, it’s not for me to prescribe a goal onto anyone else’s life, but when you see these rich old people who are still tirelessly (by which I mean they are in denial about there complete tiredness that is eating them away from the inside) still adding to their wild accumulated wealth you just think: what is this for? Where is this going? You are going to die soon! You’ve just come into this world and been a vessel for money to pass into and out off and now you will deflate and die and the money will remain. Because the money isn’t ‘your’ money, nothing is ‘yours’ its definition is not ‘the money of Paul’ or whatever. The wealth you accumulate exists entirely independently of you, you are just sucking on its teet, you are a Limpit on the bottom of a ship. When you die and peal yourself off the hull and sink to the ocean floor the ship will be none the wiser. It will keep ploughing on just as capital keeps ploughing on. Your an insignificant passenger on your wealth, not a master of it.


When you die all that wealth will sit there without you. All your accumulated moments will sit there, useless to you now. But what if you spent those moments achieving joy? What about swimming with your dog and laughing and huffing and puffing and seeing the look in their eyes when they jump in? Now that is fun! That is living in allowing a moment be there in your life just for itself and just for you. That’s living.


When it comes to swimming your dog there up some guiders you should follow. Dogs can get into trouble in water just like anyone else, so you might want to consider a doggy life jacket. You should also take it easy the first time and let your dog lead you in what its ready for. Also, if you have a pool you should make sure you get the best safety covers for swimming pools available, as a dog falling into a swimming pool is a very different thing to a dog going swimming with a watching owner. So yeah, be careful, but most of all have fun!

WEB-Photos-026-small Look After Yourself, Look After Your Dog
Leave a comment

“What is to be human? What is to ache? What is it to be alive? Each person you speak to has had a day, some of the days have been good, some bad. Each person you speak to has had a childhood, each has a body, each body has aches. Look for what is special in each individual, focus on that. Remember there is someone out there for everyone.”

From ‘Anomalisa’ written by Charlie Kaufman


There is someone out there for everyone. And for everyone else, there’s a dog. Your dog can be your someone, my Rowan is certainly my someone these days, and that is just fine by me. I love him and he loves me back. I care for him, and he cares for me in so many ways.

Each person you speak to has had a childhood, each has a body, each body has aches

My body has aches. Literal aches, I have bad knees and a bad neck, when I wake up I feel stiff and awkward, uncomfortable and pained. Recently I found my self a physiotherapist, it turns out that in Liverpool Physiotherapy is pretty competitive, and there are some great people out there doing fantastic work, my new physiotherapist works out of a gym that I also use, and it is going really well.


Self love is important. And your dog is important. And loving your dog is important. What does your dog need? Well, I noticed Rowan walking a little strangely in the morning recently so I thought to myself: Why aren’t there physiotherapists for dogs? And, it transpires, the answer to that is: There are physiotherapists for dogs! How fantastic is that! Now I can get Rowan the real care and attention than he needs and deserves. I just need to find one who comes well recommended. So I’m on the look out!…

Leave a comment

Hi guys, and welcome! Let me tell you a story….


A story of a relationship, a story of a friendship, a story of companionship. A story of a woman, a dog and a whole load of happiness. For many years, my best friend was a beautiful dog called Rowan. Rowan was my closest companion and helped me get through some of the hardest parts of my life, after while of our time together I realised that I wanted to do more than just go for walks or sit on the sofa with Rowan, I wanted to pursue other activities with my beautiful Rowan. I wanted to get out there and have fun!


So, I set about finding new and exiting ways that me and Rowan could enjoy our time together. I wanted Rowan to have a whole new world, and this was a gateway to a whole new world for the both of us. So this is what ‘Rowan’s Gate’ is all about. It is Rowan opening the gateway for all pets and their owners to enjoy life in a new way.  Rowan loved his life, and he loved meeting other dogs and other people. I think that there’s space in our lives for this gate to be opened to all pets and all pet owners.


And that is what Rowan’s Gate is all about! It’s going to be me and as many other contributors as I can find talking about new ways you can enjoy your time with your pets, as well as other pet news, views and reviews.  I loved Rowan, and I love all my new pets. And I think that there can be so much more to the relationship most people have with their pets. You just got to think creatively! And keep checking up on what we’re going to be suggesting here on Rowansgate!