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Posts Tagged ‘Mud’

Paddy the Lab/Collie Mix covered in mud

Our Pal Paddy modelling this season’s sensational ‘muddy dog’ look.

Mud. It’s the bane of every dog loving household for months of the year, but just like vet bills, poop and hair on every surface bar the dog, it’s an inevitable part of sharing your life with a canine friend. That said, there are ways of minimising its disruptive influence: here are my favourite top tips.

1) Don’t expect your dog to stay clean 

An obvious one perhaps, but if I had a pound for every time I saw an exasperated owner yell ‘NO!’ at their pooch as they galloped joyfully to the puddle or squelched belly deep into the black stuff I could give up work and write about dogs full-time.  Dogs are dogs and therefore blessedly devoid of the worries that occupy our minds like whether their boss will accept ‘I had to hose down the dog’ as a valid excuse for being late to work  or  whether you’ll ever be able to get the kitchen floor clean again.

If you don’t have time to deal with the mud, then avoid it.  Take them on a longer street walk if you’re pushed for time, play with them at home, do some training or walk them later in the day, but please don’t expect to take the kid to the sweet shop and expect them to abstain in the interests of your agenda; it’s just not fair.

2) Prepare yourself  

When we took Bramble, our Springer Spaniel puppy for his first check-up, the vet told my mother to buy good wellies and a set of waterproofs. It was sage advice. Having the right protection from the elements turns a miserable walk into at least a bearable one.  My wardrobe is now well stocked with all manner of weather and dog proof clothing. My only rule is that all outer layers must be washable because even if your dog isn’t a jumper, you can never guarantee that you won’t encounter an over-enthusiastic greeter at the park.

3) Prepare your dog 

Mini Schnauzer Little Bear in a red coat

Little Red Riding Bear modelling a coat that didn’t quite make the grade

Little Bear has soft fluffy Schnauzer fur that clings to mud and knots. Brushing it out is possible, but not much fun for him (or me) so in the winter his legs and tummy are regularly trimmed. It may not be the Schnauzer ‘look’ but I don’t care as long as he’s more comfortable.

Both Little Bear and Annie have coats. Bear because he hates the rain and has fur that gets quickly sodden (at which point he shivers and refuses to walk) and Annie because she has arthritis and has a coat that takes forever to dry. We use their Equafleece coats most often because you can sling them in the washing machine, pop them on a radiator and they’re dry again by the next walk.

I’m often bemused by people who won’t put coats on dogs.  Maybe it’s a macho thing or a backlash against dressing dogs up as if they’re dolls, but for me it’s both kind and practical. If it’s cold and wet enough for you to have a coat on, chances are your dog would benefit too.  You can even get waterproof onsies to cover their legs as modelled by the adorable Louis and Archie.

Bichon's Louis and Archie in their onesies

Mud? What mud? Bichon brothers Louis & Archie in their mud proof onesies.

4) Mud proof your home 

Okay, if I could do this I’d patent it and make millions, but there are practical ways of minimising the impact on your home. As I wrote in my previous post, Dog seeks human, must love mud,  I’m the idiot who chose cream tiles and white walls so when I’m wiping down paint work and the steam mop is working overtime on the floors, I comfort myself in thinking that at least it’s easy to see and remove this way. Admittedly, it’s a small comfort.

Towels: A huge pile of dog towels is a must. A great way to reuse those that might have seen better days, in our house, they live in a basket in the garage ready for post walk rub downs.  Once there’s a machine load they get a quick wash on a cool cycle, dried on the bathroom towel radiator and are ready for their next round. It’s a pain, but it would be more of a pain without them.

Annie the Labrador sleeping in her bed

Annie snoozing in her bed (and yes, white is a stupid colour for dog bedding!)

Bedding: The thing about good dog beds is the fact that they’re usually soft and comfortable.  The way our two pull for home on a cold wet day leaves me in no doubt that they’re looking forward to snuggling up in their nice warm beds. Beds that will of course, be damp and covered in mud within minutes. So having washable beds and or bedding is a must.  Little Bear and Annie love their crates. Each has a thick waterproof base pad topped off with a washable single quilt.  They wash well and dry quickly which is absolutely essential.

Containment: This may be stating the obvious, but restricting access to the rooms you’d rather not get muddy is one of the simplest ways of containing the mess. If you recall the Christmas Pedigree advert you’ll already have a nightmare scenario in your mind of what might happen (it’s very funny if you’ve not seen it) , but remember, humans are usually the ones with the power to close doors!

5) Remember your sense of humour 

Possibly my most important tip of all. Having dogs is a privilege and one of the great joys in life so try not to let a little mud and mess detract from all the good stuff.  And next time your dog is ecstatically bounding through muddy puddles, try it out for yourself, you never know, you might just surprise yourself!

Do you have some top tips for dealing with muddy dogs? Do please share as a comment as I’m sure we’d all love some more ideas on how to manage the mud.  Thanks!

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Mud Shots

After my last post, I’ve received some wonderful shots of EVEN muddier dogs than Little Bear and Annie!

Do you have a dirtier dog?

Thanks so much for sharing your pictures. If you’d like to add a mud mug shot to the rogues gallery you can email your picture to thelittlebeardogblog@googlemail.com

Bella the Labrador covered in mud

Queen of the Labrapotami, Bella.

Bella the Labrador wallowing in the mud

Bella at the mud wallow

Bonnie the Mini Schnauzer

Bonnie

Paddy the Collie Lab mix gets muddy

Paddy

Paddy the Lab/Collie Mix covered in mud

Paddy looking proud of his paint job

 

Bichon's Louis and Archie in their onesies

Mud? What mud? Bichon brothers Louis & Archie in their mud proof onesies.

 

Lilly

Lilly

 

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Like most aspiring dog owners, before I actually had a dog I used to indulge in the odd reverie about our wonderful future life together.  I had visions of us playing catch in a sun drenched meadow on a warm August afternoon.  I imagined us kicking up a pile of crisp autumn leaves and leaving cute paw and foot prints in the winter snow before heading home to snuggle on the sofa.  

Having grown up with a Springer Spaniel, I wasn’t entirely naive, but I suppose part of me choose to block out one of the not so welcome seasonal realities: Mud.

So long nice clean car

So long nice clean car

Mud magnets

If you’ve not got a dog and you’re thinking about getting one, please, hear me now:  They will get muddy. You will get mud: in your house; in your car; on your clothes and more often than you’ll care to think about, on your face and in your hair.  

You will have an almost daily routine of wiping mud off the walls, radiators and any small children who may happen to walk past. Your pile of dog towels will quickly outweigh the human ones, your washing machine will work overtime and in the winter months, you’ll start grading your walks not on how enjoyable they are, but on how muddy its likely to be. 

Paddling Bear

Paddling Bear

 

 

Who chose the cream tiles?

Our battles with mud are exacerbated by some pretty unpractical home decorating choices.  In answer to the question ‘Which idiot chose cream floor tiles, white walls and a light beige sofa?’ I have to foolishly raise my hand.

In my (feeble) defence, I made those choices when we only had Little Bear and as much as he loves paddling in puddles and rolling in cow pats, he’s not a big fan of deep mud. But then of course, we got a Labrador. 

 

 

 

Annie the Labrador covered in mud

Annie the Labrapotomous

Labrapotomous

Annie is a mud magnet.  She’s the Labrapotomous of the dog world and loves nothing better than getting caked in the stuff from nose to tail.  In the Forest she’ll find the deepest, dirtiest, stinkiest puddle and fling herself into it with the wild abandon of a lemming on a cliff top. She emerges beaming as if she’s just won the lottery and annoying as it is, we don’t have the heart to stop her fun.  But even on a road walk, she has an amazing ability to attract mud and will invariably return home with dirty paws, legs and tummy. 

Adjustments

We’ve made some practical adjustments at home, including installing a new door to give us direct access to the garage from the house.  This means we can bring the dogs in through the garage, avoiding the daily splattering of mud up the walls of the hallway.  It also gives us more room to do the towelling off.

I’d be lying if I said that dealing with constantly filthy dogs is much fun. But here’s the rub: when we took on our dogs it was to give them the life they deserved. And we made that commitment for life. We knew there would be compromises along the way and a pristine home is just one of them. What we get in return though far outweighs the inconvenience and of course, we still have those sunny August afternoons to look forward to.

 

 

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Little Bear hates having a bath. He’s not unusual as I suspect most dogs dislike our penchant for making them sit in warm water while shampooing away all those delightful doggie aromas: mud, stinky puddle water, poop (LB loves the fox variety but will settle for cow pats at a push) and his particular favourite, dead stuff. The day he rolled in a long dead rat is still chillingly fresh in my memory as is the sight of him swaggering home, proud as punch not realising that six baths would be necessary to rid him of the stench.

Bath time blues
Little Bear is now six so I’d sort of resigned myself to the fact that bath time would always be a necessary evil where he turned on the puppy dog eyes with the occasional shiver for good measure and I ended up feeling guilty.

Positive reinforcement
As a big fan of positive reinforcement I’ve tried using toys and treats over the years but he largely ignored the toys and took the treats with a reproachful ‘this isn’t working you know’ glare.
So imagine my surprise when yesterday, LB jumped into the bath on his own!

Bath time Bear
We’d been out for a long forest walk and he was really muddy. But as he’d only had a bath last week I decided to let the mud dry and brush it out. Bear though had other ideas.

While I was hanging up the towels in the bathroom he trotted in, rested his nose on the bath and wagged. Then came the cute over the shoulder look to see if I was looking and another wag. I quietly closed the door, usually a cue for him to dart out of the room, but he just stood there wagging at me.

Now LB loves chasing stones in the ford and over the summer he’s been playing in a paddling pool my mum found for him. He’s so obsessed with the stones I’ve got a handful in a jug in the bathroom in an attempt to make the dreaded bath time more bearable.

I picked up the jug and before I could do anything he had jumped into the bath! What’s more he was wagging fit to bust!

Needless to say he got his bath but not until we’d played stones for a long time – it seemed only fair after he’d asked so nicely!

Lessons learned
Yesterday reminded me of an incredibly valuable lesson: never underestimate the power of a positive reinforcer – they work, but they’re often not the things we think they are.

(Please excuse any formatting issues, I’ve had to write this on my iPhone as he’s fast asleep on my lap and looking way too cute to disturb!)

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We’ve just returned from a lovely Easter break in Wiltshire. Part recce for a future home, part anniversary present from very thoughtful other half, we spent three nights in the lovely Glebe House bed and breakfast in the quiet hamlet of Chittoe. 

Glebe House

Glebe House

Being thoughtful, other half found a dog friendly B&B so that Little Bear could come too.  Now as anyone with a less than perfectly behaved dog will testify, these occasions can fill you with dread.

It’s one thing having a reactive, frequently disobedient dog when home is only a stone’s throw away, quite another as a guest in someone elses’ home for three full days.

My plan B was for LB to stay with his much adored dog sitter, Sharon.  He loves other dogs once he overcomes his lack of confidence on the greeting and at Sharon’s, would have at least four pals to play with.  He’d get three-hour walks in the forest with his friends and after a long day’s playing, would get to sleep on her bed – something he’s not allowed to do at home.

I made the booking reassured that he’d have a lovely time and that we could have a few days respite.  We’d be able to go out to dinner (something extremely difficult with a dog in tow, especially a noisy one), could go into shops and galleries together and best of all, we wouldn’t have to walk everywhere with coat pockets stuffed with tennis balls, poo bags and smelling like a deli.

Typically I felt slightly guilt ridden – I’ve no idea why as I don’t think he gives us a second thought while he’s at the sitters.  The last time I picked him up he made a huge fuss of me then went off to lay on the sofa with his fury friends and refused resolutely to budge.  I had to carry him to the car. He then sulked all evening and was still grumpy the next day.

Unfortunately though, Sharon succumbed to a flu bug and couldn’t take him at the last-minute. So, LB was coming to Wiltshire after all.

Glebe House

Glebe House is beautiful.  It’s a large cottage that feels like a stately home in miniature.  There’s a grand piano and a roaring log fire in the drawing-room and the walls are covered in an eclectic mix of art and family photographs.  The overall effect is stunning and you get the feeling of being very much immersed in the history of an old English family (the Scrope’s have lived in the area for over 500 years).

En route to the house we had stopped off along the way to explore the local forests and LB had found his most favourite thing in the world – a very large, very boggy puddle of thick black mud. 

Apparently, tennis balls require proper ‘seasoning’ in a mud marinade before they’re worthy of chasing.  Throw him a new, just out of the packet one and he’ll spit it out as if it’s been poisoned and even well-loved ones need topping up from time to time.  So back in the forest he had a wonderful time poking said tennis ball deep into the mud and then sticking his nose in after it to retrieve it tail wagging enthusiastically and stopping here and there to give it a waterlogged squeak.  He does the same thing in snow but that leaves him a lot cleaner.

So, we turn up at the beautiful house with a Mini Schnauzer who’s had a hasty spit and polish to try to remove the worst of the mud caked onto his beard and legs.  As I towelled his feet off for the umpteenth time that day my heart sank at the thought of trying to keep him clean (and off the sofas) for three whole days.  My heart dropped another inch as we were shown to our gorgeous bedroom, complete with whiter than white crisp clean bed linen. 

Suddenly, staying home seemed like such a good idea…

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