I am a Barbet owner, but I am also a Newfoundland owner hence my freely admitted obsession with avoiding dogs overheating (Newfoundlands have one of the heaviest coats around and, unless a Landseer, are dark in colour too - black or brown in this country)!!! Some of you in the UK may remember a terrible, tragic incident involving the death, from heatstroke, of a van- load  of Newfoundlands in a motorway service station car-park, which hit the news headlines in a major way some years ago. I was hyper-concerned before that, but after it, as I say, I am now obsessed and I make no apologies for being so!! First of all TAKE NOTE . . .  dogs can overheat, especially in vehicles, at almost any time of year if certain weather conditions prevail. I am lucky enough to have a van specially kitted out for dogs (although no aircon!!) so it is easier than with some cars to put all this into practice, but whatever vehicle you have. . . take care of your dogs!
1. The sun does NOT have to be shining brightly, in fact it need not be shining at all, for overheating to result.

2. Leaving the windows open, even if they are wide  open, or using a “Ventlock”  will not stop the vehicle or dog overheating.

3. Leaving a bowl of water for the dog will not prevent overheating

4. Leaving the vehicle in shade is not necessarily any good as a) the sun moves round and b) if the ambient temperature is sufficiently high the shade will not counteract its effect.

5. Leaving your dog in a vehicle on a warm/hot day “just for 5 minutes” is not acceptable. Thermal gain (also known as Solar gain) can ensue and while you are detained at the shop checkout  . . .  your dog could DIE!!

Here are some tips I have worked out over the years when travelling all over the country to working test events with Newfoundlands (and other dogs) both as a participant and as a Judge.

1.      Fill  large empty plastic drinks bottles with water and freeze. Wrap in a towel or similar (this is important) and place  with dog in the area in which it is travelling . . .  usually its crate or dog box. These act like hot water bottles in reverse i.e. cold water bottles! There is the added bonus that as they thaw, you will have a supply of very cold drinking water for your dog. You can use wrapped freezer packs, but these don’t have the bonus effect of providing a drink!

2.      Use a crate fan. The best sort are the ones with a detachable freezable cartridge which is placed in the freezer overnight in the manner of those freezer packs for cool bags as mentioned above.
This is what I am talking about - they are available (amongst other places) from Canine Concepts (a good company I have dealt with many times)


3.      Get one or more “dog towels”  - soak in cold water and squeeze out the surplus water. Fold neatly, as flat as you can to a thick pad that will fit into your freezer. Place in freezer  and freeze solid. When embarking on your journey take out of the freezer and place in dog crate under a dry towel so the dog can lie on top of the cold pad. NB Take care with this!! I gave this tip to a friend who carried out the instructions BUT when placing the towel in the freezer had allowed it to “drape” over the various packages therein as it was not folded sufficiently thickly!!. When the morning came she was unable to remove the frozen towel as it was “embedded” in the contents of her freezer!!!

4.      Take with you a large spray bottle (I use one of those pump-up garden sprays) fill with cold water (and ice cubes if you can fit them in through the neck of the bottle) You can then spray your dog with a fine mist at frequent intervals …. Remember your school science!! - evaporation causes cooling!!

5.      To take advantage of the cooling effect of evaporation you can, of course,  also wet your dog’s coat thoroughly, before or during  the journey or on arrival at the destination and at intervals during the day.

6.      Ensure that you have dark tinted windows in your vehicle or good sunshades that cover the whole window (NOT those ones that just cover a patch in the middle. Consider these “Windowsox”, although not cheap, they will function very well even with the windows wound down fully!! http://www.windowsox.co.uk/?gclid=CNm_-ODogrACFY5pfAodsmzujg


7.      If, perhaps, you are travelling in somebody else’s vehicle, without good shading, or do not have tinted windows, you could use a “silver sheet” over the dog crate to reflect any sun falling on it but ensure there is sufficient ventilation if you are using a solid sheet. The "solid" silver sheets are good but the mesh ones (rather more expensive) are MUCH better and are available from here   http://canineconcepts.co.uk/en/cooling-your-dog/3486-proselect-dog-crate-car-solar-covers.html

9.      The "Canine Cooler" : This is another excellent product and I have used a couple of these very successfully. However there is one big disadvantage (apart from the price) . . . once filled with water they are VERY heavy so you would not be able easily to take them in and out of your vehicle, but are ideal if you can leave them in situ. http://www.soothsoft.co.uk/


10.       I have two of these "Miracool Mats" they are very efficient! You have to soak the mat in water for 30 mins in advance and the “magic” crystals absorb the water … again, it works by evaporation. Available from 
It does, however, take a long time to dry out if you won't be needing it again soon and want to put it away somewhere!!

11.      NEVER  put your dog in the back of a hatchback without good protection! I’m sure you’ve seen cars on the motorway with the family pet squashed in the back with the sun burning down on him through the back window. The human passengers may be OK with their windows open and shaded by the roof of the car, but the dog will be suffering greatly.

"COOLING COATS" : There are assorted “cooling coats” available online ranging from the reasonably priced to the downright ridiculous!! Some people swear by them, but generally they are very expensive and unless it is ABSOLUTELY UNAVOIDABLE to have your dog outside in extreme heat which is NEVER a good idea, the solutions I have described above should more than suffice.

Finally there are some novelty ideas …. These are NOT serious ideas for keeping your dog cool, but can be fun for your dog in warm weather!!

SPECIAL ICE CREAM FOR DOGS!!! (although mine quite like "human" ice cream!! ..................

 For strawberry & apple,  apple, banana and carrot flavours http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/ice-cream-for-dogs-goes-on-sale-742268

For Pork & Vanilla flavour  

OR why not give your dog ice cubes to chew or suck, frozen carrots (also good for teething puppies!) are enjoyed by some dogs (especially those on the BARF diet who are used to the taste of raw vegetables.)

Admittedly this photograph was not taken last Friday, but it IS where were training on that day: it is a BIG river and  there was a LOT more water than in the photo, flowing very fast especially in midstream! In case you don't recognise it (and I'd be amazed if you did!) it is the River Severn, the longest river in Great Britain at about 354 kms, it also has the greatest tidal range of any river in Great Britain and is the second greatest in the world (after the Bay of Fundy in Canada) Needless to say, this far up the river, there is no tidal influence! The high tidal range and the shape of the Severn's mouth have led to the phenomenon of The Severn Bore . . . really worth making a journey to see when it's a "good" one. For more information,  and details of the 2012 bores, click here . . .
. . . although sadly there are no big bores in 2012 (not on the River Severn anyway!!)

One of the best exercises of the training session involved sitting-up Nénu about 20m from the water's edge amongst a lot of large fallen trees and vegetation previously washed down by the river when in SERIOUS flood (about three weeks ago!) The exercise involved sending her on a "go-back" with a jump over a large fallen tree, down through the willow scrub to a "blind" (thrown by someone else,) in the river, then returning the same way. She thoroughly enjoyed this and with variations we did it quite a few times. As all this took place at the end of a long trainng session even Nénu was tired by the time we stopped (I was tired a long time before that!!) As usual, I find it impossible to work a dog and take photos hence the photo of the venue and not the dog!
I make absolutely no apology for continuing to pursue the subject of using e-collars on Barbets and Barbet puppies, mentioned in my previous post (below) If you are planning on joining a Gundog Club, training group, online forum , FB group or "Liking" a post, website or forum comment I suggest you check it out thoroughly first and ensure that you investigate and read the equivalent of the "small print" before joining, demonstrating your "Like", support or affinity in public or your credibility might end up taking a knock! For example, it could be very embarrassing to "Friend" a person who turned out to be a puppy farmer, or an advocate of e-collars if you were anti them!!

I have found it necessary to contact a few Barbet owners  recently who see nothing wrong with using an e-collar on a Barbet  . . . even on a Barbet puppy during routine gundog training!! I know that some e-collars have a "beep" or "vibrate" setting and that their use is not illegal in many countries, but that is not the point . . . civilised people with any degree of knowledge, insight and thought for animal welfare have moved on from the bad old days when aversive training methods were often regarded as the norm. It stands to reason that  national governments would not go to the trouble and expense of legislating against the use of these devices lightly or without  good scientific evidence to support their ban.

The Barbet is a "soft" dog . . . it will not respond well to aversive training methods and is likely to become wary and distrustful of anyone it associates with the use of devices such as these. The result will be likely to  be a dog that does not enjoy its work in the field and if it doesn't enjoy it, ergo it will work less efficiently; this is hardly desirable in a gundog, ANY dog working in the "service of man" - indeed ANY domestic companion dog at all.

If you are a Barbet owner training your Barbet to the gun (or even if you're not) please speak out about why you believe the use of e-collars on Barbets is wrong, and condemn those who do so,  OR have the courage of your convictions and put forward a reasoned argument in favour of the practice in this breed!!  I welcome all comments!
NĂ©nu drying in the sun after her bath!

I do not believe it is necessary, or desirable, to bathe dogs on a frequent, or even regular basis; however sometimes it just seems a good idea!  After grooming Nénu had a major trim today so after blasting and brushing out all the loose hair trimmings I decided, as the sun is actually shining, to give her a bath too!! She has always disliked being groomed, but she dislikes being bathed even more! It's the same with Newfoundlands . . . they love water in the sea, a lake, or even a  puddle, but not in a bath!! I have described before, on my website, the virtues of MD-10 shampoo and I'll do so again here: it really is very good and a bonus is that it smells nice (not like some of those strong synthetic chemical, 'natural' or 'fruit scented' show shampoos . . . and I've tried a few of those in my time!) In addition Noriko Brewster, the UK agent, is a very friendly and helpful person always willing to give advice. She owns a SWD, so is particularly interested in Barbets and their owners!

It is pouring with rain .... again .... and your dog, looking like the photo below, needs to come indoors! You don't want her to shake all over your kitchen, hallway, or wherever it enters the house, so what is your best course of action?

Option 1 : You can attempt to dry her by rubbing with many towels on the doormat, or in the porch if you're lucky enough to have one.  This works with some breeds, but I find that it doesn't do much for a Barbet's coat and can lead to felting or tanglng.

Option 2 : You can use a "blaster" on her. This was a disaster in Nénu's case until she got her full adult coat at about 3 years old. Before that it turned her into a nightmare ball of wooly felt!! Nowadays it's  a possibility and if she is drenched I will use the blaster (which I bought originally for my Newfoundlands) rather than having her hanging around damp in cold weather. Her coat can cope with this occasionally and does not felt too much.

Option 3 : .... and the best option!!! Teach your dog to shake on command! This is not as hard as it sounds. When a dog is wet it will naturally shake the water out of its coat. Every time you see your dog doing this (when out and about by rivers, lakes etc or in the rain) give the commands "Shake!" WHILE THE DOG IS ACTUALLY SHAKING. Eventually the dog will come to associate the command with the action and will shake when YOU want it to. 

This is particularly important for working gundogs who should be taught to deliver game from the water BEFORE shaking when YOU give the command to do so! Why?  ... because if the dog  stops to shake after exiting the water and drops a pricked bird, the bird is likely to run off!  In addition, in a competition you will lose marks if the bird is dropped.
You may have no inclination to train your Barbet puppy to be a working gundog, however I would still thoroughly recommend that you read the following slim volume, if possible before your puppy arrives . . . it is a real  revelation! Although written by a gundog specialist the vast majority of the content is applicable to ALL breeds.
"RESPECT AND LEADERSHIP IN DOG TRAINING AND RELATED ARTICLES"   by Anthea Lawrence   ISBN 1-41205478-8 published by Trafford and available from Amazon where, although recently out of stock, it is now available again.

For anyone embarking on training a pup to the gun I can also recommend Anthea's other three book. The writing style in all four books is most enjoyable and the training information is both detailed and extremely helpful . . .  and YES . . . I have read all four volumes several times!!
There was much excitement this morning when I discovered three escaped lambs looking in through our gate at the dogs!! There was much barking on Dylan's behalf but I don't want Nénu acquiring a habit of barking at livestock, as, at present, she is silent and well-behaved in their presence so I called them in quickly. As I approached the lambs trotted off down to the farm so luckily I didn't need to go and round them up!
A few weeks ago WiFi broadband arrived on the mountain so at last I have been able to join the 21st century! By way of celebrating I have also acquired one of these !!!!!!!           >   >   >   >   >   >   >   >   >   >   >   
Having done quite a bit of "serious" training with Nénu over the last few days she was given a more-or-less free run in the forest with the bonus of a few long tennis ball retrieves into the trees and undergrowth this morning. Mainly coniferous forest is most definitely NOT the best sort of area in which to exercise or train a dog with a coat like the Barbet's! The bark of fine twigs which litter the under storey is composed of scales which "grip" the coat at the best of times, but when the coat is wet they are the devil to remove!
I find those long-handled tennis ball throwers a nuisance to take out .. they are awkward to carry to say the least. I have a retractable one which is excellent as it collapses to about 8 inches in length so will fit in a pocket, has a comfortable rubber grip and is very flexible adding distance to the throw.