Category Archives: Product Reviews

Daisy and the HyperDog Ball Launcher

Daisy enjoys a workout with the HyperDog Ball Launcher!

It’s no secret that Daisy likes toys she can chase, so we gave her a try with a HyperDog Bal Launcher from Hyper Pet.

Unlike more conventional tennis ball launchers that you swing in an overarm fashion, the HyperPet launchers work more like a catapult. You place the ball in a ‘sling’, pull back on the strong elastic, and let go (of the ball end)…

We used a Single Ball Launcher, but a larger, 4 Ball arrangent is also available.  It has the same sling and elastic, but there is space underneath to carry 4 HyperDog tennis balls, and it also has a support that sits over your arm for stability.

Daisy had a fantastic time, as you can see below!

Clicker Choices

 

What to look for when selecting your training clicker.

If you are new to clicker training or even if you’re an accomplished trainer, the wide range of clickers now available can be confusing. They come in all shapes and sizes, have different sounds and there are a variety of different attachments that can be used with them.

How do you choose which one is right for you?  Every individual is different and has unique requirements so we explain here the pros and cons of the most popular varieties.

Clicker

Volume

Extras

Tab

Use with
Gloves

Ease of Use

Guide

Box

5

Yes

Not easily

Medium

No

i-Click

3

Yes

Yes

Easy

No

QT Clicker

2

Yes

Yes

Easy

No

Quick click

4

Yes

Yes

Easy

Yes

Dogsline Push Button Clicker

2

FL

Yes

Yes but not loop

Easy

No

Dogsline Button Clicker

3/2

Yes

Yes

Easy

No

Dog Activity Soft Clicker

1

WC

Yes

Yes

Easy

Yes

Clix Multi Clicker

3/5

Lan

Yes

Yes

Easy

Yes

Clik R

4

FL

Yes

Yes

Easy

Yes

Dog Activity Finger Clicker

2

FL

No

Yes but not loop

Easy

Yes

Mikki Clikka

5

FL/

Lan

Yes

Yes but not loop

Easy

Whizz Click

4

WS

No

Yes

Medium

Yes

Duo Click

Click 2

Chime 3

FL/

Lan

Yes

Yes

Medium

Yes

Key: FL – Finger Loop; Lan – Lanyard; WC – Wrist Coil, WS – Wrist Strap

Please note:  Clicker volume can be subjective and will differ slightly between clickers of the same type.  Please use as a guide only.

Before you choose, you may want to consider a few things: where you will be using the clicker, will you be wearing gloves, whether or not your dog is sensitive to sound.  If this is your first clicker you may also require some basic instructions.

Box Clicker

Shaped like a small rectangular box with a metal tongue.  This is probably what some may call the original clicker.  You hold it in your hand and depress the metal plate with your thumb.  It gives a lovely, clear and loud click which is its big plus point.  However, there are some minuses.  It’s not very ergonomic, so doesn’t fit in your hand comfortably, only one end of the metal plate moves so you have to ensure you are holding it correctly as it’s very easy to miss that perfect moment.  Excellent for use outdoors or in a noisy environment, it comes in a wide range of colours and usually has a small tab on the end so you can attach it to a wrist coil or lanyard.

i-Click

Developed by perhaps the best known clicker trainer, Karen Pryor, this clicker is the perfect shape to fit into your hand and instead of a metal plate it has a raised button.  This button is easy to locate without having to look and it minimises the chances of you missing the click.  It can be used with a variety of attachments.  The click, although clear is not quite as loud as the box clicker.

You could also use this clicker with your foot, if you put it on the floor and press down gently.

QT Clicker

Very similar in shape to the i-click, although slightly quieter.  However, for those of you who are fashion conscious they come in pastel or neon colours.  Push button action and an ergonomic shape, complete with tab for attachments.

Quick Click

The quick click is another clicker with a button, however, the click is louder and crisper than the i-Click, but not quite as loud as the box clicker.  It is a tear-drop shape and fits comfortably into the hand.  Again, attachments can be used with this clicker.

 

Dogsline Push Button Clicker

Very similar in shape and design to the Quick Click having an ergonomic shape with a in-built button which is not prominent and therefore less likely to be pressed by accident.  It has a softer click but it does have an extra feature which can be extremely useful, a finger loop.  This ensures that the clicker is always to hand and ready for action.

The Dogsline Button Clicker

This clicker comes in two slightly different tones, you can choose from a muted or crisp click.  The button itself is prominent and easy to find and press, and the clicker shape is comfortable to hold with a tab for use with the attachment of your choice.

Dog Activity Soft Clicker

An ergonomically designed push button clicker, with wrist coil and detachable strap.  It has a more muted sound than all of the other clickers, but is still perfectly audible to your dog and may be more suitable for sound sensitive animals.  Probably best used in a quieter environment.

 

Clix Multi-clicker

This is the only clicker that actually has a volume control so it can be matched to your dog’s sound sensitivity.  It has a large raised button on a metal tongue which makes operation easy and underneath there is a sliding switch to change the volume.  Comes with a wrist strap.

Clik-R

This clicker was created by Terry Ryan.  It is quite large but ergonomically shaped for a comfortable fit in your hand. The button is prominent for ease of use and it also has a stretchy finger strap on the back.  Other attachments can be used if required

Dog Activity Finger Clicker

This small clicker is again, ergonomically shaped, and comes with a soft plastic loop on the back to slip on your finger.  This loop is not stretchy and would be difficult to fit over gloves.  There is no tab on this clicker for alternative attachments.

Mikki Clikka

This slightly larger clicker has a big easy to use click button and a stretchy finger band, it also comes complete with a neck lanyard and training guide written by professional behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith.  It feels robust and has a good loud click.

 

WhizzClick

The WhizzClick is unique in that is combines both a clicker and whistle in one device.  It has a flat plastic button which can only be depressed at one end, so, rather like the box clicker, you have to ensure it is the correct way round before clicking.  With the built in whistle it does offer additional training options.  Comes complete with a wrist attachment and training guide.  Developed by Stephen King.

CLIK-R Duo Dog Training Clicker

Developed by Peter Neville, this is the most expensive clicker available at this time.  It is digital rather than mechanical and is capable of making dual sounds so that you can train more than one pet.  The sounds available are either a traditional click or a triple chime. Its ergonmic shape sits well in the hand and both its raised buttons are different so, with practice, you should be able to tell them apart by touch.  It comes with a stretchy finger loop, lanyard and full instructions.  Requires batteries.

Daisy loves her Bionic Toss n Tug!

The Bionic Toss n Tug flying dog toy is a hit with Daisy!

Our white German Shepherd Daisy is a connoisseur of flying dog toys, and has tried several of them for us over the years (including Jawz Flying Discs, Fling a Rings, and Easy Gliders), so when the Bionic Toss n Tug arrived,  no-one else could be better qualified than our Chief Product Tester.

This little gem looks deceptively unexciting at first glance, but one throw and its true potential is revealed. Not only does it fly effortlessly through the air, but if you hold it vertically when you throw it rather than flat, on landing it continues to roll at a rapid pace.  Everything Daisy looks for in a chase toy!

 

It is also incredibly durable. Daisy has been hunting this toy daily for several months now, and there is barely a mark on it.  She’s not a chewer but she does like to clamp her jaws onto it as she brings it back, and it has lived to tell the tale almost unscathed.

Although tugging isn’t really Daisy’s thing, she does tend to engage if she thinks the game is about to end. The Bionic Toss n Tug has retained its shape perfectly throughout these encounters.

This brings us to another interesting and surprisingly good feature. By folding in a certain way, the Toss n Tug twists into a full blown tug toy, giving you two for the price of one!

But that isn’t really Daisy’s cup of tea. As far as she’s concerned, tug toys are for the boys – she prefers a jolly good chase!

Bionic Tug n Toss:

The Bionic Tug-n-Toss is a fantastic 2 in 1 dog toy. The orange colour makes it easy to see, and it flies and rolls extremely well making it great fun for retrieval games.  Twist it inside out and it becomes a fun tug toy too!

Two sizes available.  Extremely durable.

Choosing a treat bag

We always recommend using a treat bag when training with food. How do you choose which one when there are so many?

If you train your dog using food treats/rewards, whether clicker training or otherwise, we always recommend using a treat bag. Not only do they keep your pockets clean, they really help to minimise the distraction of using a rustling plastic bag (a nuisance in any training class), and signal to your dog that training is in session. With so many bags to choose from, which one is right for you? Here are some of the key points to look for:

Bag Size/Capacity

Consider the length and regularity of your training sessions, and how many treats you may need to use. A bag that is too small will need to be constantly refilled, not ideal as it breaks concentration, and one that is too big can spread your treats too thinly making them difficult to grab in the bottom of the bag.

Bag Opening/Ease of Use

It is important to be able to get to the treats easily and in a timely manner, so think about how and where the treat bag will be used, and the kind of opening you might prefer. Bag openings include zips (such as the Training Lines Treat Bag, or Hip Bag Baggy Belt), drawstrings (Deluxe Baggy or Maxi Snack Bag), and ‘snap openers’ (Terry Ryan Treat Bag, Petsafe Treat Bag Sport, Dog Activity Goody Bag), and some may be more suitable for you in certain situations than others.

Drawstring bags will keep treats secure but if you need to move around or run during training they can be a little inconvenient. Snap opening bags are great for opening and closing quickly, but are usually larger.

Attaching the bag

Typically, treat bags have either a belt clip to attach to your clothing, or their own belt which you wrap around you or place over your shoulder, and some may have both, such as the Hurtta Motivation Pro Treat Bag. If you are likely to be training in, for example, a coat or long jacket, a belt clip may not be ideal unless you can clip it onto a convenient pocket. Belts are usually long enough to go around your outer clothing, but you should measure first to be sure.

For those ‘Lara Croft’ moments, the Dog Activity Hip Bag also has an additional leg strap for added stability.

Extra features

In addition to carrying treats, many bags also have handy extra features. More pockets for example, or hooks/rings for holding your training accessories.  If you are choosing a treat bag for the first time, these extras may not seem very important, but established trainers often choose a bag for these additional features and consider how they might enhance their training sessions.

For example, the 2 in 1 Baggy Snack Bag has a small outer pocket on one side, and a bag dispenser pocket on the other, the Petsafe Treat Bag Sport has a ‘pocket within a pocket’ feature, which allows you to separate high value treats easily, and the Maxi Snack Bag has a removable insert for easy cleaning.

However you dispense your training treats, there is a treat bag available that will make things easier.  Our comparison table below shows some of our more popular bags, or you can see the full range on our Training and Behaviour page!

 

Example treat bags:

Bag

Size

Opening

Attachment

Extra Features

Hip Bag Baggy Belt

17x12cm

Zip

Belt

Extra pocket and pouch, ‘D’ ring

Deluxe Baggy Treat Bag (Large)

14x10cm

Drawstring

Belt clip

None

Clix Pro Training Bag

15x22cm

Magnetic Popper and Drawstring

Belt clip

Rear pocket, front pouch, velcro strap

PetSafe Treat Bag Sport

19.5x16cm

Metal Snap Opening

Belt and Belt Clip

‘Inner’ pocket, outer pocket, elastic loops

Mini Treat Bag

9x7cm

Drawstring

Trigger Hook

None

Hurtta Motivation Pro Treat Bag

23x15cm

Metal snap opening

Belt and belt clip

Extra pockets (one with poo bag ‘pull through’, Metal Caribiner

Maxi Snap Bag

18x20x14cm

Drawstring

Belt

Additional pockets, D-ring, removable insert

Terry Ryan Training Bag

16x22cm

Metal snap opening

Belt and belt clip

Extra front pocket

Dog Activity Goody Bag

11x16cm

Plastic snap opening

Belt clip

Extra front pocket

Training Lines Treat Bag

17.5x21cm

Zip

Caribina

None

Lexxie puts safety first

Lexxie wears her Flashing Safety Vest

Like most dogs Lexxie loves going out for a walk in the park, but her dark coat makes it very difficult to see her even when she is quite close by.  To complement her lighted collar, she now wears a Safer Life Flashing Safety Vest which has a lighted band and reflective detailing and paw prints.

The lighted band is situated right across the back of the dog, giving it a wide angle of visibility.  Plus, it prevents the hair on long coated dogs from obscuring the light, as can occasionally happen with lighted collars.

Lexxie’s mum is pleased with the result.  “We are delighted with the vest and would have no hesitation in recommending the product. It has actually encouraged me to get out more on those dark nights, I can let Lexxie off in the park and see her, the reflective motif is also highly visible along with the light.”

Lexxie looks pretty happy too, and very dapper indeed!

The Chase

Daisy test drives the new Ring Catapult by Trixie!

Daisy loves a good chase.  When it’s not the swallows, it’s Archie. When it’s not Archie, it’s the cars driving past the croft, and she tries to time it so that she reaches the end of the field at the same time as the vehicle to give a triumphant bark!

We rarely get people walking down our lane but we do get the occasional cyclist and she will canter along next to them on her side of the hedge shouting loudly all the way.

One of her favourite toys used to be the fling-a-ring (a thin plastic ring which is great for rolling). We taught her to hand it to us so that we didn’t need to bend down to pick it up but it was usually covered in slobber or other unspeakable substances, given that the sheep often have access to the field. When we saw the Dog Activity Ring Catapult, we just had to try it.

We weren’t too sure about it at first, as the catapult itself didn’t look too capable, but just one fling and we were converted immediately.  As was Daisy.  The ring flew really well, and even when it landed it bounced on for a while.  It probably would’ve gone even further if the grass was shorter, but sacrifices have to be made for our hay crop.

If you can get the ring at the right angle, you can slide it back into the catapult without even touching it (hooray!).  It can be a bit fiddly at first, and small feet are probably an advantage here, but with practice it would get easier.

The ring, a fairly lightweight vinyl, is probably not suitable for dogs that like to chew as they retrieve, but thankfully Daisy doesn’t really do that provided she is encouraged to return it straight away and to release it.  If left to her own devices it would probably suffer a little.  Thankfully there are replacement rings available in case of accidents…

Click here to see a video of Daisy in action (our first session)!

Alternatively, see it at YouTube here (opens in a new window).

The Great British Bark Off!

You can’t beat a bit of home barking, sorry I meant baking….

I love a baking challenge and when Oggi’s Oven Baking Mixes arrived on our doorstep, I couldn’t resist the temptation, much to the delight of our hungry dogs!

There are 3 varieties available, Scones, Biscuits and Cakes.  It’s great to hear that they are all free from artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, made from human grade ingredients and 100% British.

The packets contain the mixes ready to go, all you need to add is water and/or vegetable oil and the Biscuits and Scones come with their own cutters.  Full instructions for all are included on the box so now there’s no excuse not to get baking.

Scones (with paw cutter):  No need to use a mixer, I stuck with a bowl and spoon as suggested and was pleasantly surprised to end up with a lovely soft dough and less washing up!  I rolled it out to what I guessed was about 6mm and found that I didn’t have quite enough to make the 14 scones stated on the box, instead I ended up with 12.  Luckily that was enough to divide evenly between our 3 dogs.

They cooked quickly and rose slightly.  When I took them out of the oven, they smelled delightful.  The dogs were hanging around hoping I may drop one or two but no such luck.

Biscuits (with bone cutter): Once again it was easy to mix straight from the packet but this time it was a much stiffer dough to roll out.  At first I wasn’t sure about the cutter as the bones seemed to stick inside, but a firm tap was all that was needed to release them.  I managed to get 24 bones from the mix rather than the 20 stated on the box and they were nice and chunky just the way the dogs like them.

Cakes:  For the cake mix there are a couple of suggested options, either a 12 bun tin or a 7″ cake.  I chose to use cup cake cases in my bun tin. These need to be removed before serving as I’m sure our dogs wouldn’t bother and would wolf the whole lot down.  I thought that the cup cakes cases were a bit on the big side, our dogs have to watch their waistlines, just like us, so I used some of the mix in petit four cases.   They were more bite size and would make a better training treat.

I was a bit confused by the mixture, expecting it to be of pouring consistency like a normal cake mix.  Instead it was like chewing gum.  I thought maybe I’d not added enough liquid but I’m sure I followed the instructions to the letter.  I carried on regardless and dolloped the mix into the cases safe in the knowledge that the dogs wouldn’t complain if they weren’t perfect (unlike some critics I know, no names mentioned!).  Despite the thick mixture they cooked OK, apart from the fact that I didn’t get the domed rise you would expect to see on a cupcake, instead they remained rather “rugged” looking, more like a muffin.

The verdict:  All three mixes were quick and simple and cooked perfectly – no soggy bottoms there.  Since they state human grade ingredients, we were keen to taste them ourselves.

The scones we found slightly sweet, despite claiming to be savoury on the box.

The biscuits I thought tasted a bit meaty but this may just have been my imagination.

The cake, again was rather sweet and very “cakey”. As suspected the smaller ones were better as quick bite.

Overall, I think they are ideal for a bit of a doggy treat.  The bones would be the better choice if you were going to use them for training, you could always add a bit of smelly cheese to the mix to give them some extra incentive!  Good fun and an ideal gift for any dog loving friends.

And what did the dogs think?

Well there were no turned up noses, they were keen to try all three, although Daisy was reluctant to let anyone else join the tea party.