Tilly with the cone

Neutering – making that choice

Tilly wearing her cone

The cone of shame or e-collar

Tilly is Scored

It’s been a sad month for us. We had planned to breed from young Tilly. Such a lovely, bright, happy girl. Full of fun and love for everyone. Having waited for a long time to find a German Shepherd with the perfect nature, we wanted to ensure that her physical health was good too, so we had her DNA tested for DM (Degenerative Myelopathy, also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy – CDRM). Having had two GSDs with this condition, we wouldn’t risk perpetuating such a devastating disease. To our delight, she was clear. Next, we had hips and elbows scored. Her hips weren’t the best at 14, but the big let down was her elbow score of 3. It seems she has elbow dysplasia on the left side. This could be hereditary meaning she could pass it on to her offspring, but we will also have to deal with this painful condition that needs lifelong treatment.

X-Ray of Elbow

Choosing to neuter

Because of this, we made the difficult decision to have her spayed. It’s not easy to send a healthy dog under the knife, but we have two entire males in the house and it was the only sensible thing to do.

She came home from the op looking quite dopey, but we were certain she would brighten up later. Unfortunately, she didn’t and by 11 pm that evening, blood was dripping from her wound. We were told to expect some seepage and weren’t sure if that was what we were seeing.

A sleepless night followed and at 7 am the next morning, the blood was still dripping. By that time, there was a lot of it, so we couldn’t wait any longer and called the emergency vet. Back at the surgery, she was operated on again and the problem resolved. It was a really scary time and the guilt we felt for sending her in the first place was awful.

At the vet with a compression bandage to stop the bleeding

Cone versus suit

Thankfully, she has made good progress since then and it wasn’t long before her sore belly started to interest her. The inevitable cone or e-collar (Elizabethan collar) came out and she had to wear it. Everyone who has ever had a dog operated on will know the misery of the cone of shame. Shins, furniture, other dogs, nothing is sacred. It was a stressful week for all until we remembered a sample suit we had from the makers of the excellent Vetgood veterinary boots.

We used these Vetgood boots on Daisy to protect her feet when she was out and about and they were so brilliant, we decided we had to share, and now stock the full range.

We slipped the protective recovery suit on Tilly and hey presto, instant calm. Although it was a little big for her, it did the job and protected the site of the wound without causing upset to our girl or the rest of the pack and the gentle, constant pressure from the fabric had a dramatic soothing effect on her.

The two-piece design of the suit makes it easy to put on and take off when necessary. The vest and pants connect easily with Velcro. It’s made from 95% cotton with 5% lycra, so it stretches. It even has pockets inside where you can put ice packs, should that be necessary. It helps us humans help our pets heal and recover, and restores peace to a disrupted household!

We shall be stocking these suits very soon.

Tilly in her Vetgood Suit

Modelling the Vetgood Protective Recovery Pet Suit for Dogs and Cats

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Pumpkin and your Pets

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

Last month Daisy was unwell. She had an upset stomach which resulted in bouts of diarrhoea. That is bad enough when you have a dog with four working legs, but for a dog that cannot walk unaided, it is deeply unpleasant. The vet advised a bland chicken and rice diet, which we had already begun, but he also prescribed some paste which did the trick and she was soon back to normal. We were relieved, but of course, the bill followed! Now, we don’t begrudge paying for her treatment, but it got us thinking about natural alternatives. In the distant past, we had given our dogs pumpkin when they were unwell, so since it is now pumpkin season, we thought we would revisit the idea.

Why is pumpkin good for dogs?

Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial vitamins and nutrients:

  • Potassium – an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity
  • Vitamin C – one cup of pumpkin contains at least 11mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects
  • Beta-Carotene – beneficial for preventing cancer. The bright orange colour is an indication of how rich it is in beta-carotene
  • Alpha-Carotene
  • Fibre
  • Zinc – will help improve skin and coat
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A – which is important for your dog’s vision

One of the most common uses of pumpkin is for dogs suffering from diarrhoea. The natural fibre content of the pumpkin helps to slow down digestion by adding bulk to the dog’s stool. Experts recommend adding pumpkin to your dog’s normal dog food and this has widely been reported to act quickly to settle their stomach. We used to keep small bags of frozen pumpkin in our freezer for just that purpose.

Interestingly enough, while pumpkin is a great remedy for diarrhoea, it is equally effective at easing constipation. Naturally increasing the amount of soluble fibre in your dog’s diet will also help move things along in a comfortable way. Pumpkin is gentle, unlike some conventional drugs designed to relieve constipation. Once again, pumpkin can be added to your dog’s normal food in small quantities whilst ensuring that they have plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can have a direct link to constipation and will certainly make a pre-existing condition even worse.

Since we are in pumpkin season, it’s also an excellent opportunity to make some pumpkin treats for your dog, so we have a couple of recipes for you that are as easy as pie! These make great Jackpot treats so you can incorporate them into your training.

Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Bones

Always check your ingredients for Xylitol before using.


  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

or Ingredients for grain-free

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup organic peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted then slightly cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Roll out dough to approx 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Use a cookie cutter to cut out dog bone shapes, or just bake into little circles like cookies.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Treats should have a slightly golden colour around the edges.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Can be stored in airtight containers for up to three weeks.

Carob Icing For Pumpkin Bones

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Unlike chocolate, carob is safe for dogs. You can buy it in various forms such as bars, chips or powder and it will turn your treats into something a bit special. Melting carob can be a little tricky – it doesn’t melt as easily as chocolate. The easiest way to melt carob chips is with a little coconut oil in a double boiler on the cooker.

  1. Fill a saucepan a 1/3 full with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer.
  3. Place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. It should fit tightly on top of the saucepan and shouldn’t touch the water. Make sure no steam gets into the bowl or it will ruin your melt.
  4. Put 1/2 cup carob chips and 1 tablespoon coconut oil into the bowl. After a couple of minutes start to stir them around. Continue stirring until mixture reaches a smooth consistency and has no more lumps.
  5. Dip biscuits into the melted carob immediately.

Make the carob icing when you’re ready to use it because you can’t successfully melt carob a second time. Store iced treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer!

Remember, once Halloween is over, pumpkins will be cheaper than ever. Why not buy a batch, chop, roast, puree and freeze for use throughout the year or alternatively check out these other super pumpkin recipes.

Cats can benefit from pumpkin too

Is Pumpkin good for Cats?

One of the key nutritional qualities of pumpkin is that it is rich in fibre (the material from plants that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the body).  Fibre can beneficial to cats in the following ways:

  • Weight control, fibre promotes a feeling of fullness, even if fewer calories are being taken in.
  • Treatment of diarrhoea. Pumpkin contains soluble fibre, and this can absorb excess water in the digestive tract, reducing or relieving diarrhoea.
  • Constipation. Conversely, a pumpkin’s high fibre content can act as a laxative. The combination of fibre and moisture can be of great benefit in creating bulk that stimulates bowel movements.
  • Hairballs in cats can be relieved by pumpkin through the same mechanism as it relieves constipation.

Fresh roasted pumpkin seeds, without any salts or spices, can be fed to cats. They have been rumoured to help with worm infestations. Although we don’t see as much of it in the UK, you can buy canned pumpkin without additives, spices or sugar which is also perfect for your feline friend. And lastly, you can feed fresh pumpkin that has been baked until soft.

It is advisable to start with very small amounts of pumpkin if you are planning to add it to your cat’s diet and, of course, for expert advice, speak to your vet first, especially if your cat is unwell.

If this has piqued your interest in the humble pumpkin as a superfood, then you can read more about the subject in Did you Know your Pet can Eat Pumpkin?

Light up your Life

Scarab beacon dog safety light

It’s that time of year again when the darker nights and mornings are catching up with us fast. Like a lot of people, we find ourselves walking the dogs at twilight and let’s face it, it’s only going to get worse in the coming months. However, let’s think positively and break out the glowing dog balls, flashing discs, light up dog collars and flashing dog harnesses to brighten up the long nights, or at least, provide us with some much-needed illumination!

So what’s on offer in the world of Lighted Safetywear?

Beacons of Flashing Light

First up we have the powerful  Scarab Beacon rechargeable safety light for dogs. This is one of our personal favourites and it comes in two varieties. There is the Scarab Trio which gives you a choice of 3 colours (red, yellow, and green) all in the one device and 3 power settings depending on your requirement. It is waterproof, has approximately 120 hours run time and 4km visibility. Scarab uses every bit of the lens to ensure your dog’s safety making them visible from any angle. In safety terms, it maximises awareness that you and your dog are present – premium safety when you are outside in low light and the dark! Scarab stands out that’s for sure.

The second offering is the LED Scarab Uno. It has one colour (red), 4 light modes, and 3km visibility. Because Scarab flashes it heightens your dog’s location, on or off the lead this is a valuable feature. If you have more than one dog or walk in groups, you can easily identify your dog when off the lead by changing the RED light modes. The perfect beacon if you don’t need quite so many features or for the budget-conscious.

What’s in the box:

What comes with a Scarab Beacon

Scarab Beacon for dogs, walkers and trekkers, for runners

Our very own Archie is a huge fan of the Scarab as it fits nicely onto his harness, thanks to the Velcro uni-strap.

Archie modelling the Scarab

Orbiloc Dog Dual Safety LightNext, we have the Orbiloc Dog Dual Safety Light which we have been offering for many years now, and have watched develop into the versatile and we have to say, attractive, lighted accessory that it is today.

The design is modern and streamlined with a size of 35mm x 20mm, and it weighs only 19 grams. That means it won’t get in your dog’s way, even if he’s lying down or rolling around on the light itself. The Orbiloc Dog Dual is also very user-friendly. To choose the function you prefer, just turn the Mode Selector Ring to the left or right. It will flash or stay steady-on accordingly. The battery life is approximately 100 hours when steady-on, approximately 250 hours when flashing.

The Orbiloc Dog Dual is 100% waterproof and offers your best friend the opportunity to take a swim or play in the snow.

The Orbiloc Dog Dual has a range of accessories so that you can decide how and where you want to place the light. Included is the Orbiloc Quick Mount Adjustable, which allows for a quick attachment on your dog’s collar, leash or harness. You can adjust the Quick Mount Adjustable to multiple sizes, without leaving a mark on your gear. There are other mounts and maintenance kits available to purchase separately, which also makes the Orbiloc perfect for runners or hikers or dog walkers. Get one for yourself and one for your dog, in matching or contrasting colours!

The Orbiloc Safety Light comes in nine different colours. Five Safety Colours (Yellow, Red, Blue, Green and White), giving you the opportunity to choose the right one for your specific needs, as well as one suited to specific weather conditions. And four Fashion Colours (Pink, Turquoise, Dark and Amber) allowing you to give your gear a personal touch. But don’t worry. Orbiloc Dark isn’t actually dark. It has a bright white light, but with a dark lens for a sleek style!

Or if you have multiple dogs, as we do, get them all a different colour and then you can identify each one in a flash!

Orbiloc Dog Safety Light Colours

Orbiloc’s Five Safety Colours

Orbiloc Dog Safety Light Fashion Colours

Orbiloc’s Four Fashion Colours

The latest colour, Amber, blends perfectly with the autumnal mood at the moment.

Orbiloc Dog Safety Light in Amber

Orbiloc Dog Dual in stunning Amber

Overall the Orbiloc Dog Dual Safety Light has managed to merge safety and fashion, giving a wide range of choice and making safety a lot more fun!

Daisy wearing the Orbiloc Yellow

Daisy wearing the Orbiloc in her pre-wheelchair days!

Be Safe Be Seen in our Light up Dogwear

In addition to the beacons, there is a whole host of Lighted Safetywear to suit your needs and help ensure both you and your dog can be seen.

Safer Life Flashing USB Collars and Safer Life Flasher

Around the neck and clip-on Lighted Safetywear

The Safer Life Flasher is a neat device that attaches to a collar so there are no dangly bits, or what about the Flash Light Rings which slip around the neck, can be easily cut to size and are USB chargeable.

We have items to wear on the body such as harnesses and vests and Safetywear for walking or jogging such as lighted safety belts.

Flash Active Belt by Trixie and Safer Life Flashing Safety Vest

Lighted Safety Wearables

For you, the Flash Active Belt is a comfortable neoprene belt with a flashing strip at the back for safety, but not only that, it has an assortment of pockets which can store keys, mobile phone, pick-up bags, etc. and straps at the front to hold your dog’s lead!

For your dog, the Safer Life Flashing Safety Vest has Velcro fastenings for an easy fit, and is both reflective AND illuminated.  It operates in both flashing and continuous modes and is available in two varieties, either battery operated or USB rechargeable.

And you really can’t forget your cat who would also benefit from being visible on dark nights. It may even help you to spot them when they’re hiding in the undergrowth!

Safer Life Flasher for Cats and Dog and the Safer Life Flash Light Collar

We have the Safer Life Flasher For Dogs and Cats, which hangs your pet’s collar and flashes with 3 small LEDs (Red, White, Blue).  Visible up to 300m and comes in vibrant colours (batteries are included).  And for those that prefer a traditional lighted collar, there is the Flash Light Collar for Dogs. Visible up to 500m, and a great way to illuminate your dog during morning and evening walks with it’s fast and slow flashing and continuous light modes. Plus it’s USB rechargeable.

Playtime Never Ends with our Glowing and Flashing Dog Toys

Finally, don’t let playtime end when the sun goes down; there are plenty of toys that light up in the dark.

HyperFlite Midnight Sun Flying Disc, Chuckit! Light Play Kick Fetch Dog Toy, Hyperflite Jawz Bite Resistant Flying Disc, Chuckit Max Glow Ball for Dogs, The Flashing Bal,The Flash Dog Disc, The Flash & Glow Illuminated Ball for Dogs


From left to right, HyperFlite Midnight Sun Flying Disc, the brightest and longest-lasting glow-in-the-dark disc ever made! Chuckit! Kick Light Play Kick Fetch Dog Toy, large enough to kick, and the contours make it easy for your dog to carry. The ‘glow technology’ charges up in bright light for a long-lasting glow! Hyperflite Jawz Bite Resistant Flying Disc, the toughest and best-flying puncture-resistant disc ever made in a Glow-in-the-Dark option. Chuckit Max Glow Ball for Dogs, a durable, grip-able rubber ball that glows in the dark to allow the game to keep going when the sun goes down.  The USB Light Ball Dog Toy is a robust and fun, silicone toy which illuminates when touched lightly and flashes for approx 45 seconds. USB rechargeable. The Flash Dog Disc is made from soft silicone that is gentle on your dog’s mouth. The centre can be set to continuous light mode, or one of three flashing light modes. The Flash & Glow Illuminated Ball for Dogs is made from a durable plastic which glows after being exposed to light, has a flasher inside that is motion activated and flashes for 25 seconds.  It floats too!

Pampered cat

Happy Cat Month 2019

Pampered cat

A pampered cat is a happy cat!

Happy Cat Month is a time to celebrate our feline companions by showing them extra love and attention. Using this time as an excuse to focus on positive reinforcement for our cats is a great way to promote their happiness and show appreciation for their company. In honour of Happy Cat Month, we’ve teamed up with Sainsbury’s Bank and listed a few tips for pampering your pet that you can find below.

A great gift for the playful cat is cat agility weave poles. These fun toys are simple to use as you can set up them up as an obstacle course for your cats to manoeuvre around.

Cat agility weave poles

Train your cat to weave

Gifting your feline friend with new toys is not only fun for them but stimulates their minds. A catch the mouse game is perfect for the cat who loves to mess around.

Catch the mouse fun cat toy

A game of cat and mouse

Rewarding them with homemade goodies for when they are on their best behaviour is another thoughtful gift idea. Consider making them a yummy personal cat cake filled with chicken. We’ve included the recipe below!

Cat cake:  

Gifts for pets: 

Finding that perfect gift is never easy but here are some ideas that may put you on the scent to finding something to satisfy even the most discerning feline or pampered pup!

For more tips on how to show appreciation for your furry friends, check out Sainsbury’s Bank guide that’s full of unique pet gift ideas.

Vetgood Protective Waterproof Dog Boots

Vetgood Protective Waterproof Dog Boots

Vetgood Protective Veterinary Dog BootsBoots are In! Collars are out!

If you have ever been to the vet for paw or leg wounds, you will know that most of the time you are sent home with a neatly wrapped bandage or even worse a cast or splint and an uncomfortable and hideous Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from interfering with the wound.  Your dog walks into walls or your shins, slobbers in the collar and lets you know by barking or whining that the hot and uncomfortable collar has to go! Finally, someone has thought of an answer!

Vetgood Protective Boots keep your dog's wound clean

Vet wrapping versus Vetgood

Vetgood Protective Waterproof Dog Boots

We are delighted to distribute the Vetgood line of boots for wound care! These lightweight and durable protective boots cover all types of wounds and have so many benefits to us the pet owner. First, you can get rid of the Elizabethan collar-hooray!  Second, you can protect the wound not only indoors, but also outdoors allowing your pet to get the much-needed exercise to heal and to resume his normal routine even with the bandage, cast, etc. And finally, it reduces the number of times you need to return to the vet clinic to get a bandage re-wrapped or re-casted which is so inconvenient for you and a real relief for your dog!

Vetgood offer a range of boots for all your needs

Vetgood offer a wide range of sizes in their protective boots

So which boot do you need?  (See the chart below to choose the right one for your pet.)


The Vetgood Extreme Dog Boot

If they have a cast or splint or a bandaged wound that will last more than 2 weeks? You need the Extreme boot with the durable, moulded bottom.

The Vetgood Extreme Boot for longer-term injuries

Vetgood Extreme Protective Veterinary Dog Boots

The Vetgood Basic Dog Boot

If they have a soft bandage then you need the Basic boot.

The Vetgood Basic Boot for bandaged wounds

Vetgood Basic Protective Veterinary Dog Boots

The Vetgood Slim Dog Boot

There is even a boot for open wounds that have no bandages – perfect for hot spots or lick granulomas – lined in a soft bamboo and nanosilver fabric that has antimicrobial properties to promote healing.

The Vetgood Slim Boot with a microbial lining for open wounds

Vetgood Protective Slim Veterinary Dog Boots

So stop struggling with the E-collar.  Boots are in!

How to size your Vetgood boots

Tested by Daisy!

But we use Vetgood boots as we find they are great protection for Daisy’s delicate paws, whether she’s being carried in her harness or out and about in her wheelchair.

Daisy wearing her Vetgood Slim Boots

Daisy shows us a clean pair of heels in her super smart Vetgood Slim Boots.

Scotland’s Disctastic Show

Google – UFO Throw and Catch World Cup Qualifier Photo Susan Balshaw

The weekend of 27th and 28th July, saw the advent of the first-ever Disc Dog Show in Scotland and what a resounding success it turned out to be. Despite the weather doing it’s utmost to dampen everyone’s spirits, a fantastic time was had by all. Dogs and owners alike.

You can see some of the highlights here and read the full show report below. If this doesn’t w(h)et your appetite for this fun dog sport, nothing will!

A pre-show dip!

What an exciting weekend of Disc Dog Activities this first-ever Disc Dog Show in Scotland has been.

We had sixteen classes over the two days and a fabulous entry of 91 partnerships working in both individual events on Saturday and team and pairs events on Sunday. This was a fabulous entry which exceeded my expectations as the show organizer.

Many thanks to our sponsors – to Training Lines and Hyperflite, Fish 4 Dogs, Dorwest Herbs and to the wonderful Jean Steen who made so many super toys.

Class 1 UK DDA Throw Disc

Nicola Russell and Nessie, Crossbreed – UK Disc Dog Association Throw Disc Photo Susan Balshaw

This was the largest class of the day and the standard was high with many of the competitors being new to the sport. The aim is to throw as far as possible on the marked-out pitch in order to maximize your points and you have a minute to do this.

This class opened the show and provided a lot of excitement with a three-way run off for 2nd, 3rd and 4th places which Susan and Lloyd won clearly, leaving Lori and Jackie to fight it out for 3rd and 4th place on a third run off.

The standard was high, and many good dogs sadly went without a place.

1st   Michelle Porter and Luna, Bearded Collie scoring a massive 8 points
2nd  Susan Balshaw and Lloyd, WSD scoring 6
3rd   Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen, Bearded Collie scoring 6
4th   Lori Buestow and Jet, WSD scoring 6

Class 2 UK DDA Jump Disc

Laura James and casey, Golden Retriever in UK Disc Dog Association Jump Disc Photo Susan Balshaw

This class offered the opportunity to those who have agility experience to showcase a clear round over three jumps prior to catching a disc. The dogs had 90 seconds to complete as many clear rounds as possible which must include a disc catch per round.

Well done to Lori on having taken the top place with ease and after a run off taking the second place too.

1st Lori Buetow and Jet, WSD scoring 6
2nd Lori Buetow and Wren scoring 2
3rd Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen, Bearded Collie scoring 2
4th Laura James and Casey, Golden Retriever scoring 1

Class 3 UK DDA FreeDisc

Heather Smith and Dinky Diva winners of UK disc Dog Association Freedisc Photo Nicole Bowman

This class offered all the tricks and excitement which so many people associate with Disc Dog and it was my pleasure to judge this class alongside fellow Crufts Competitor and qualifier Penny Mansfield and Nicola Cameron of Kirk Dog Training Club.

The places were hotly contended and some of the scores throughout the class were very close. There was however a runaway winner.

1st   Michelle Porter and Luna, Bearded Collie scoring 71 points

What an athletic dog displaying drive and commitment. Such a variety of tricks and use of distances which showcased this dog’s ability to perfection. With a catch score of 50 and an audience appeal score of 13, this partnership was untouchable.

2nd  Jackie McLaughlin and Brachen, Bearded Collie Scoring 58

This routine was funny from the moment they started which was evident from the full 15 marks awarded for Audience Appeal. There was recognizable patterning in the throws which included a fabulous Round the world, there were jumps and an innovative fingerspin throw.

3rd   Susan Balshaw and Lloyd, WSD scoring 49

This new partnership is one to watch. I judged the Creativity section of this routine and it was stand out different as it had a lovely musicality which very much appealed to the Dog Dancer in me. There was a varied content and a high scoring 26 in the catch section.

4th   Sonya Ingledew and Breeze, WSD Scoring 43

Sonya Ingledew and Drizzle, WSD scoring 43

Same handler with two different dog and well-chosen music reflecting the differences in these two dogs. Drizzle’s routine showcased varied distances and tricks. This little dog has so much more to offer she scored 22 very considered catches and an audience appeal of 12. Breeze suits her name as she is both athletic and fast. I liked the attention to detail in the jumps matching the lyrics of the music at the beginning of the routine. With a catch score of 23 and Audience appeal of 13 these two were inseparable.

Class 4 and 12 – UFO World Cup Throw and Catch Qualifier

Flurry in UFO Throw and Catch World Cup Qualifier Photo Nicole Bowman

This class was held by kind permission of the UFO World Series and we are indebted to Chris Sexton for all the help and support we have been given.

This qualifier was held over two days with each dog having eight one-minute runs and the overall score deciding the winner.

The second day brought the challenge of windy conditions which seemed to vary with each run. But there were clear winners in the top three dogs which incidentally include two dogs from the same breeder and from repeat matings. These three dogs are now qualified for the European Championships in the Netherlands and the World Championships

Thank you to our judges Penny and John Mansfield for their hard work over the two days.

1st   Heather Smith and Luna, Bearded Collie                                                        29
2nd  Heather Smith and Google, Bearded Collie                                                    21
3rd   Heather Smith and Flurry, Australian Shepherd                                           18

Class 5 and 13 – UFO World Cup Freestyle

Marie Docherty and Beardie Walter in UFO Freestyle World Cup Qualifier Photo Susan Balshaw

This class is judged on a variety of aspects and has a panel of judges who judge a category of their own and with the top three judges on the list also giving a comprehensive score on each routine.

Thank you to our judges –





Each partnership competed on both days and the top three partnerships are the qualifiers for the European and American Finals.

1st   Heather Smith and Google                                                                              67.4
2nd  Heather Smith and Luna (owned by Michelle Porter                                  61.97
3rd  Heather Smith and Flurry                                                                                 59.3

Google in UFO Freestyle World Cup Qualifier Photo Nicole Bowman

Class 6 – Small Dog UK DDA Throw Disc and Jump Disc Combined

This class only attracted one entry but in the Throw Disc Nessie managed a respectable score of 5. This little dog is very athletic and keen. A valiant attempt at the Jump Disc, I am sure it will come with training and time.

1st Nicola Russell and Loch Ness Monster, Crossbreed, scoring 5

Class 7 – Small Dog UK DDA FreeDisc

1st   Heather Smith and DinkyDiva, Bichon Frise, scoring 29.4

Class 8 – Toss and Fetch Individuals

As Scotland is about to take part in the Toss and Fetch Disc League, which is a worldwide event, the results here are very good news for the Flying Scots Team who took all top four places.

1st   Heather Smith and Google, Bearded Collie, scoring 13
2nd Michelle Porter and Luna, Bearded Collie scoring 5
3rd   Nicola Russell with Loch Ness Monster, crossbreed scoring 2
4th   Nicola Russell with Boston, crossbreed scoring 2

There were a few judges’ specials throughout this class with Awesome Flying awards going to Heather Smith’s Google and Sonya Ingledew’s Breeze.

Sunday brought a sunnier start to the day which was much appreciated since the Saturday evening Treiball competition had ended in a downpour of rain. Team events and pairs were very much the order of the day.

Class 9 – UK DDA Throw Disc Teams

This was a hotly contested team event with the Bearded Collie Team of Team Captain, Jackie McLaughlan, alongside Marie Docherty, Michelle Porter and Heather Smith and their partners Brachen, Walter, Luna and Google Scoring 182.

The Anything but a Beardie team of Captain, Laura James with Casey, Nici Russell and Nessie, Susan Balshaw and Lloyd and Abby and Breeze making 150 points

Class 10 – UK DDA Jump Disc Team Event

It was the turn of the Anything but a Beardie team to take this class with Team Captain Laura with Golden Retriever Casey leading her team of Heather Davis and WSD Flossie, Abby and WSD Breeze, Sonya Ingledew and WSD Drizzle with 10 points to a narrow victory over the Beardies who scored 8.5 points.

Class 11 – UK DDA FreeDisc Team Event

Another victory for the Team of Bearded Collies Captained by Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen with Marie Docherty and Walter, Michelle Porter and Luna and Heather Smith and Google.

A huge well done to the runners up here of Team Captain Laura James and her Golden Retriever Casey, and Abby and Breeze, Susan Balshaw and Lloyd and Nici Russell and Nessie.

There were prizes for the best overall Team which was the Beardie Team and a round of good-humoured Disc Cheerleading!

Class 14 – Small dog UK DDA Freedisc

Only one entry in this class but a resounding well done to

1st   Nici Russell and Nessie, Crossbreed

Class 15 – Toss and Fetch Pairs

The weather was very unkind to us as the rain started during this class. The Bearded Collie sisters were runaway winners with the second and third places being hotly contended.

1st   Michelle Porter and Luna with Heather Smith and Google scoring 13.5
2nd  Susan Balshaw and Lloyd and Abby Sams and Breeze scoring 3ackie McLaughlan and Brachen with Marie Docherty and Walter scoring 3.5
3rd   Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen with Marie Docherty and Walter scoring 3
4th   Nici Russell and Boston with Heather Smith and DinkyDiva

Class 16 – Round the World Challenge

This fun class gave the dogs a lot of fun with the challenge of 90 seconds of drive, athleticism and disc catching.

1st   Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen scoring 27
2nd  Michelle Porter and Luna scoring 17
3rd   Heather Smith and Google scoring 12
4th   Susan Balshaw and Lloyd scoring 6

This brought the Disc Show to a close for 2019. My thanks to all who helped set up for the show, and clear away in the torrential rain, a massive thanks to judges, timers, scorers, DJs and those who gave their time from other Dog Activities to judge in the UKDDA FreeDisc.

We are already looking forward to our 2020 show and hope you may come and join us either by entering or coming along to spectate.

Penny & John Mansfield’s Roxy, Australian Shepherd – part of the wining Treiball Team Photo Nicole Bowman

Rosettes and Prizes Photo Susan Balshaw

Hyperflite Flying Discs

Nicole Bowman Pet Photography

UK Disc Dog Association Event

Train your Dogs with Heather Smith

The Ricochet Electronic Dog Toy

Petsafe Ricochet Electronic Dog Toy

Tilly tests the new Ricochet dog toy

A new type of interactive toy

When the new Ricochet Electronic Dog Toy landed on our doorstep, we couldn’t wait to give it a try. It is, in fact, two toys. As your dog plays with one of the interactive paired toys, a fun and exciting squeak sound is heard from the other toy. When your dog rushes to investigate the second toy, the sound bounces back to the first toy, hence the name. It will keep your dog entertained ping-ponging between the two units trying to capture that illusive squeak!

The paired Ricochet Dog Toys

The Ricochet is made of hard plastic with rubber top

Tilly is a keen tester

We chose Tilly to be the chief tester because she loves squeaky toys. We took her out to the field where we could hide the toys in the grass.

She was a little confused at first and couldn’t quite grasp what was going on, but after a few minutes, she got the hang of the game and was dashing back and forth between one and the other and attempting to round them up!

You can see how she got on with our video of her first encounter.

Product details

While not a chew toy, the Ricochet is durable enough for intense play. Change up the game by hiding one of the toys behind furniture or in a nearby room. The toys have a range of up to 30 feet. When your dog is done for the day, it will automatically turn off after 60 minutes of non-interaction to conserve the battery life.


  • Hide and Squeak – The PetSafe® Ricochet Electronic Dog Toy features 2 paired toys that will have your dog bouncing back and forth as he tries to catch a “moving” squeak sound
  • Surprise Sound – The PetSafe® Ricochet is perfect for single-dog households; when your dog interacts with one of the toys, the other toy makes a squeak sound from up to 30 ft. away
  • Automatic Exercise – Dogs will love to chase the squeak between the toys, and you will love knowing your dog is staying active
  • Mental Stimulation – The moving squeak provides a fun puzzle for your dog, as the sound is never where he expects it
  • Free from Stuffing – The PetSafe® Ricochet has no stuffing or fabric to tear, making it a no-mess toy
  • Long-Lasting Play – Playtime with the Ricochet lasts up to a month of daily use; both toys turns off after 60 minutes of no activity to save battery life
  • One-Year Warranty – The PetSafe® Ricochet is backed by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Each toy uses 3 AAA batteries (not included)

Available now!

Summertime Hazards for your Pets

Daisy dog in the long grass

It’s a jungle out there!

With the arrival of the hot weather accompanied by plenty of wet weather, the grass has shot up. Sadly, because of the rain, we haven’t yet been able to cut the hay, resulting in us having fields of grass up to our waists.

This makes it very difficult for Daisy in her wheelchair to navigate her twice-daily walk. We noticed that she wasn’t showing her typical enthusiasm and decided something had to be done, so we cut her a path.

Daisy in her wheelchair

We think Daisy is pleased with her new wheelchair path

The other dogs are not bothered by it and love leaping through the fields like a school of dolphins although it does put a stop to all their chase games with the Puller. They’d never find them in that grass, and we would end up chopping them into pieces with the mower and then baling them!

However, the warm weather and long grass mean we must be alert for fleas and ticks. Both Jack and Toby had fallen victim to ticks, which we discovered before administering flea and tick protection.

Another attraction is that sometimes they come across bunnies hiding out and that sets them off whooping with excitement as the thrill of the chase sets in.

Rabbit in the long grass

Where are those pesky rabbits?

They haven’t yet managed to catch one of those sneaky rabbits, though!

All For Paws Garden Water Fountain

Toby is a great fan of the All For Paws Garden Water Fountain.

It is essential to keep your pets well hydrated both at home and when you’re out and about. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water available at all times and never leave them unattended in a car, it can take literally minutes for them to succumb to heatstroke, which can be fatal.

Trixie Walker Active Protective Dog Boots

Ensure their paws are protected on hot ground.

Walking your dog when the ground is too hot can cause damage to their paws. Try walking them in the coolness of the early morning or evening. If you’re unsure, press your hand to the pavement for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

Make sure you’ve got all the bases covered with the summer survival guide for pets from the Bluecross, which gives practical information to help you keep your animals safe and happy whilst still enjoying our lovely British summer.

And, of course, there is also a handy guide for cool cats in hot weather!

Training Treats. Which ones deserve a Click?

Training Treats for Dogs and Cats

Left to right, Rattle and Reward Treats for Dogs, Trixie Trainer Snack Poultry Balls, Trixie Trainer Snack Lamb Balls, Pet Munchies Stix, Pet Munchies Training Treats, JR Pure Training Treats, Pet Munchies Natural Cat Treats, Homemade liver and garlic treats, Rattle and Reward Natural Treats for Cats, Davies Puffed Jerky

What not to use

There are a wide variety of ‘training’ treats available on the market and whilst many of them are no doubt tasty and tempting for your dog, not all really deserve that name. We take a look at some of the best-known dog treats and give our honest opinion of them from a training perspective.

Unsuitable training treats

A few years ago, when we ran our own training classes, one of the biggest problems we encountered was owners bringing inappropriate treats to the class. When training a dog, whether it be clicker training or not, a treat must be large enough to be seen, but small enough to be consumed quickly so that you can reward and carry on. Munching on a biscuit for a few minutes is not the best way to achieve results, and large quantities of unsuitable treats can result in weight gain.

But not only must a treat be small, it must also be palatable, tempting and motivate your dog.

From our own experience, we found the very best treats which worked on 99% of our client’s dogs were our homemade liver and garlic treats. We would buy a whole cows liver, cut it into tiny pieces, around the size of a fingernail, sprinkle it with garlic and then nuke it in a microwave until it was dried but not crunchy; you could still squash it between finger and thumb. Where that failed, tuna cake would be the answer.

For those not wishing to go to such lengths, we have tested many of the commercially available treats and with the willing help of our own dogs have come up with the best ones for the job.

Our testing results

Rattle and Reward Natural Training Treats

Rattle and Reward. Actual size of treats compared with a 5p coin

Rattle and Reward Treats for Dogs are now available in both poultry and fish flavours, but whichever flavour you choose, your dog is sure to love them. They are natural, grain-free and come in a variety of sizes. The small bone or fish shapes are actually not a bad size for training. However, the one drawback with them is they are crunchy, so they take a few moments longer to eat.

Handling:  Slightly greasy, hard treats
Ease of Use:  Easy to get a grip on and dispense
Palatability:  Our dogs love both flavours
Motivation:  The dogs are very happy to work for them
Training Treat (TT) Rating 6/10

Pet Munchies 100% Natural Dog Training Treats

Pet Munchies Training Treats. Actual size of treat compared with a 5p coin.

Pet Munchies Training Treats are available in five different flavours, Liver and Chicken, Chicken, Duck, Venison and Sushi. These 100% natural dog treats are low fat. They proved popular with our dogs who were eager to eat them. The pieces are just a tiny bit too big to be ideal, and the Sushi treats are slightly larger than the others, but they are soft and easily consumed.

Handling:  Soft and pliable, flat treats, apart from the Sushi which cube-shaped
Ease of Use:  Not that easy to get a grip on a single treat
Palatability:  The Sushi ones were very popular
Motivation:  The dogs were keen to work for them
TT Rating 7/10

Pet Munchies 100% Natural Chicken Stix

Pet Munchies Chicken Stix

The second offering from Pet Munchies isn’t strictly a training treat, but we have to confess that we used them throughoutToby’s training classes. Pet Munchies Gourmet Stix Dog Treats are 100% natural and tasty too, judging by how keen Toby was. They don’t fit the profile of the perfect training treat, but they are soft and chewy, and we cut them up into very small pieces before every training session. So they do require some work, but if you get the size right, they make an excellent reward worth working for.

Handling:  Soft, pliable treats that tended to dry out if left for a few days after cutting
Ease of Use:  They had to be cut to the right size (this takes some experimentation) before each training session
Palatability:  The Chicken Stix are loved by all our dogs
Motivation:  Toby went through all his training classes using these treats
TT Rating 4/10

JR Pure Training Treats

JR Pure Training Treats. Actual size compared with a 5p coin.

These treats are too big straight from the packet

JR Pure Meat Training Treats for Dogs are 100% meat, a single source protein and grain-free. Great if your dog has allergies as you know exactly what they’re getting. They come in a huge variety of flavours so there should be something for everybody. These treats are a nice consistency, but they are too big for training treats. Cutting them in half, produces a treat around the right size.

Handling:  Firm, dry but pliable and easy to grip
Ease of Use:  Each one would need to be cut in half to be a good size for a training treat
Palatability:  They don’t have a strong odour and we found the dogs inspected them thoroughly the first time they were offered
Motivation:  Once they had the first taste, they were keen for more
TT Rating 6/10

Trixie Trainer Snack Balls in Poultry or Lamb

Trixie Trainer Snack Poultry Balls. Actual size compared with a 5p coin.

The Trixie Trainer Snack Balls in poultry and lamb flavours are gluten-free, with 80% meat content and no added sugar. They are soft rather than crunchy and are the perfect size for a training treat, so can be consumed in a flash. Probably the best size of training treat we have ever come across. Available in 500g tubs.

Handling:  Very small soft treats
Ease of Use:  Because of the round shape, easy to get a grip on and dispense
Palatability:  We’re not sure if the dogs actually got a taste before swallowing
Motivation:  The size of the treat left them eager for more
TT Rating 8.5/10

Home baked liver and garlic treats

Homemade liver treats

There are dozens of different recipes for liver treats and liver cake, and if you have the time and want to create your own dog treats, this is the way forward. Liver cake can be crumbly and difficult to cut into small enough pieces but chopped liver can either be baked in a low oven until it dries out, or in a microwave if you don’t have much time, or better still, use a dehydrator. All the goodness of the liver is retained, and your dogs will love them. A sprinkling of garlic before cooking will make them pungent and irresistible.

Handling: Can be messy and smelly
Ease of Use:  There is effort involved in making them and they need to be refrigerated
Palatability:  99% of dogs love them
Motivation:  Dogs will work hard to earn these treats
TT Rating 9.5/10

Jackpot Joy

Davies Puffed Jerky

Puffed Jerky

One other thing to consider, especially with clicker training is the ‘jackpot’ treat. The one where the dog does so well that a tiny treat is just not enough. This can be larger and can take longer to consume, just to ensure that they know they’ve done really well. We use Davies Puffed Jerky Dog Treat, which is basically dried lungs. This is quite simply the best ever jackpot treat we have come across and our dogs will jump through hoops for it, literally! It is best saved for special moments or to reinforce an outstanding behaviour.

Handling:  Slightly greasy
Ease of Use:  Easy to snap into bite-sized chunks
Palatability:  The dogs adore it
Motivation:  Will encourage and reward the dog in equal measures
TT Rating 10/10

All of these dog treats have been tested on our dogs with differing results. Some were more popular than others, but one thing we did notice was that if one liked them, the others generally did too. It is essential when training to find something that your own dog likes and will motivate them. This may take some experimentation with different treats until you find the one(s)! And if your dog is prone to food allergies do ensure that you check the ingredients carefully. Just because something is called a ‘lamb’ treat doesn’t mean that it is exclusively lamb!

And remember if you are training, do adjust their main meal(s) accordingly to take into account the number of treats you are feeding.

Training your Kitten or Cat

Teach your cat tricks with tasty treats

Train your kitten or cat before mealtimes, as a food reward won’t be so enticing on a full stomach

And don’t just treat your dogs; cats can be trained and treated too. Although training is more traditionally associated with dogs, you can also teach your cat a few tricks and reward them with cat treats! Your feline can learn to recognise their name and come to you when you call them. To help your pet pick up these skills, it’s important to train your kitten from an early age and as soon as possible, but just like dogs, you can teach an old cat new tricks, especially with the right motivation!

Pet Munchies Gourmet Cat Treats

Pet Munchies 100% Natural Cat Treats

These Pet Munchies 100% Natural Cat Treats were a great hit with a cat-owning pal, particularly the Gourment Fish Fillet which proved to be the paws-down winner! The small, bitesize pieces are highly tasty and ideal as a training snack or just for pleasure.

Natural Treats for Cats

Rattle and Reward Natural Treats for Cats

How many times have you been calling your cat at the back door? With Rattle & Reward Natural Treats for Cats, there’s a healthy way of calling them home. Perfect for training them to behave that little bit better or just a delicious healthy treat for any time of the day (or night)! Available in 30g, 270g tins or refill pouches.

Disc Dog by Heather Smith

Getting started in Disc Dog has never been easier than it is now even though this canine sport is relatively new to the UK. I had seen it on videos online and I had also seen it demonstrated when I had been judging Heelwork to Music abroad but it was so very exciting to hear it had arrived here in the UK!

I started two years ago and have since become a UK Disc Dog Association trainer, judge and assessor. I had gathered enough interest here in Scotland to have a weekend seminar and was surprised at how much more there was to this activity than simply Freestyle which was I have to confess my initial interest!

Maddie – Lily the Pink Picture courtesy of Janet Dawn

It’s perhaps no surprise that my interest was in Freestyle as it rather looks like my main activity, also known as Freestyle in Heelwork to Music, the difference lying predominantly in the presence of discs! I have been doing heelwork to music for around 14 years now and was aware that many other top competitors abroad were successfully combining these two activities and I suspected that it added a great deal of motivation to the tricks and sequences of tricks that both activities include.

In the UK Freestyle is known as Freedisc and you’d expect to be putting together a routine which included tricks from your dog with a variety of throws from yourself all set to music of your choice! It is the most challenging of the Disc Dog Activities that you can take part in here in the UK and it is perhaps the most spectacular to watch as the handlers include such tricks as rebounds off their bodies, jumping onto their backs and with the dogs doing flips and jumps there is certainly plenty of excitement. And with the inclusion of different types of throws of the disc the handlers and their dogs have to be very skilled.

Freedisc Training

There are other Disc Activities which make for a more accessible starting point. There are a variety of activities such as Toss and Fetch, Throw and Catch as well as UK Disc Dog Association Throw Disc. There are slight differences in the rules of these activities but they all about speed and distance – so how far can you throw your disc and how fast can your dog go catch it and fetch it. These are always against the clock and are fast, furious and exciting. They make for a great entry point to disc where you can hone your throwing skills and your dog can learn to catch. You can play as an individual or as part of a team and they are highly motivating and confidence building for your dogs.

For those of you who enjoy agility, you may very well enjoy Jump Disc. In this UK DDA activity, your dog must complete a sequence of three obstacles which may include jumps and tunnels or three of either, prior to the disc being thrown. It adds an extra skill to the foundation level Throw Disc and prepares your dogs well for the greater and more challenging jumps involved in the freedisc.

Disc Dog is a very active and physical sport and with this in mind one of the most important issues I can address is keeping your dog fit and safe in taking part in Disc Dog, or indeed in any other canine sport.

With physical fitness in mind, I always recommend that new starts and those with young dogs participate in a Body Awareness or Canine Proprioception Course with myself. The purpose of these courses is to develop fitness through a variety of exercises which promote awareness of body parts and in doing these ensure your dog will be less likely to sustain injury.

Developing body awareness

So many of the body awareness exercises involve trick training which as a Dog Dancer are things I am teaching anyway. Such basics as can your dog lift his paws not just the front feet but the back paws too can form the basis for exercises such as bring front and back paws together or all four paws coming together as the dog becomes fitter and develops a strong core.

There is also a great deal of merit in alongside the paw lifting and placing tricks, teaching your dogs to place their feet with precision and care and to this end teaching cavaletti is a lot of fun for both dog and handlers. You can quickly learn a great deal about your dog’s movement which is also useful as both a warm-up exercise but in recognizing whether your dog may have an issue which may require examination by a vet or physio.

Of course, most of my students love all the ‘sexy’ equipment which a body awareness class includes. So, there are paw pods (and sometimes little bean tins and bean bags!) which the dogs use to learn about paw placement, there are peanuts, donuts and exercises balls which are used to develop balance, core and fitness. We even add some tricks to these such as bowing whilst balancing or perhaps even begging and these then are progressed on to my Gymnastricks class!

Gymnastricks is a unique programme that combines sensible exercises to help keep your dog healthy with great tricks for you both to enjoy

Gymnastricks is a whole lot of fun as in this class we are looking at the tricks that Disc Dogs do onto their humans’ bodies and they are a natural progression from Body Awareness Class. Some dogs are cautious about climbing all over their humans’ others simply see no reason not to! You can expect to be teaching your dog to be jumping into arms or onto your body, begging on your back, balancing on your upturned feet and so much more!

Keeping your dog fit and safe means not progressing too fast, taking time to consolidate all your ‘tricks’ so that your dog has a good basis on which to develop and progress. To that end it is advisable you’re your dog should not be jumping until he is 12 months. We are all very aware that dogs, especially large dogs are still growing and developing and there are so many foundation skills to put into place.

Another thing to consider is how you train. So many injuries are borne out of repetition. For example, I have had two agility dogs who both sustained RSI injuries relating to landing and turning, this is a repetitive activity in agility dogs and since the 1990s I have not had these injuries as I have adapted my training to avoid repetition. So, keep your sessions varied, short and repetition free with all dogs irrespective of age.

A good warm-up routine is very important

A final word – make sure you warm up your dog before any activity and that includes throwing a disc. It’s never acceptable to take a dog straight from a car and throw discs. Consider an active warm-up where the dog is active in this (as opposed to stretched by his or her human!) and tailor this to the activity the dog is doing so turns left and right, small jumps etc. A warm-up can take approx. 20 mins, and a cool down period is equally important with the dog’s activity level, heart rate and breathing slowing down and finishing with a massage. A good class will advise on this or take advice from a qualified physiotherapist.

So, if I have captured your interest, I am hoping you might be asking how do you get involved in Disc Dog. There are a whole host of clubs springing up now throughout the UK.   In Scotland, I am the only person running training at the moment and I have regular classes in Ayrshire with foundation classes in the Glasgow area and of course, I am bookable for day or weekend workshops.

The winning disc team at the Dog Lover Show. Jackie McLaughlin and Brachen, Michelle Porter and Luna, Marie Docherty and Walter and myself and Google

Trainyourdogs with Heather Smith

Gymnastricks: Targeted Muscle Training For Dogs

Hyperflite Discs

Trixie Dog Activity Balance Cushion