dog walks

7 reasons why I won’t use a retractable lead

Retractable leads are really popular with dog owners but can cause serious injuries. I will go through the reasons of why I won’t use one with my dog.

 There was thirty serious hand injuries caused by dog leads last year in Cornwall.

According to British Society for Surgery of the hand, Jillian Tisdale, one of the victims of the retracted lead described her injuries as ‘filleting knife’ causing terrible pain.

She has needed surgery to repair the damage. This is not something you really want to be dealing with after a walk with your dog. Her dog became distracted by another dog and ran off excitedly on the lead.

It is not the first time she has become a victim of the dreaded lead. In the past, she has suffered severe cuts and even dislocated her index finger.  

The 7 dangers of a retractable lead are:

1) Injury – When we had our first family dog, Ben being a German Shepherd he used to herd us like we were sheep, so he keep running around us. The retractable cord dug into the backs of our legs and boy did it hurt!

2) It is not just owners that have received terrible injuries, dogs have too. The sudden jerk on their neck can use neck wounds and injuries to the spine.

3)The handles of the leads are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands.  This could result to their dog running in the road and getting hit up a car or simply getting lost.

4) I’m guessing you would like a well trained dog that doesn’t pull on lead. This lead is not a good training aid at all. By their nature, retractable lead train dogs to pull while on the lead, because they learn that pulling extends the lead. Dogs do what works.

5)I think it makes owners lazy. They are not watching that the lead is getting wrapped around a tree or their dog is too far away. They are too busy on their phones to care. I was out walking  a staffie, the other day. It was obviously bin collecting day so the wheelie bins were on the pavements. The man in front of me had not noticed that his dog’s retractable lead had gone around the bin a few times and was struck. The owner didn’t not realised until he had looked around.

6)The thin cord can break especially when a powerful dog is on the other end, especially gundogs who take off at full speed, the cord can snap. One client of mine, has told me that her dog actually chewed the cord while on the lead, again this is not ideal.

7) As a solo walker, I have found when using one I have no real control I usually walk reactive or  nervous dogs and the last thing they need is to meet other dogs, so if I do want to make the length shorter, the lead doesn’t respond quickly enough or malfunction. This could lead to a dangerous situation and that why I refuse to walk any dogs on this lead now. Safety is my main priority. 

As you can see retractable leads are dangerous.

My advice  to you dear reader, would be throw the bloody thing  in the bin.

Every owner wants to give their dog more freedom to sniff and play. I would recommend the  use of Halti training lead or 3, 5 or 10 metre long line lead. 

I will receive a small fee if you purchase one of these products but it wont affect the price.

If you would like your dog to go on an non- retractable lead adventure with me then book a FREE 15 minute discovery call. 

I’m off to put a lead on it.

 Harriet x


Are you worried your dog might be overweight?

Pet obesity is on the rise in the UK. It is estimated that 60 per cent of dogs and 39 per cent cats are overweight.

And 81 per cent of vets and nurses report seeing an increase in the number of overweight animals.

Overweight animals are less energetic, less willing to play and generally get less enjoyment out of life. It’s a very serious issue.

No one likes to be told they are overweight and this applies to our pets as well.

 I remember feeling rather embarrassed when I took Barney, my parents dog to the vets, the words ‘he’s slighty overweight’.

I wanted the ground to swallow me up.

I knew from my veterinary nurse days, that once a dog is overweight it can be difficult to lose the weight.

He is getting older, which means added pressure to his joints.

In 2018, the animal charity PDSA published an Animal wellbeing report, a shocking 40 per cent of pet owners don’t know their pets current weight or body condition score.

Also, it is worrying that only per cent (89,000) owners never walk their dogs, 16 per cent (1.4 million) are walked less than once a day, 33% dog owners walk their dogs just once a day.

As it’s National Pet obesity awareness day on 9th October, I spoke to Rachel Bean RVN, who has been qualified veterinary nurse for over 20 years for her advice for owners.

 In March 2019, I hosted her Canine first aid course in West Wickham.

She is amazing, passionate about her work and so knowledgeable.

Here Rachel shares her advice on how owners can tackle Pet obesity and ensure their pets are healthy and happy.

How can you tell if your dog is obese? 

Many dogs are correct weight but equally many are Overweight.

It can vary from breed to breed as to how easy they become overweight, Labradors, for example are a breed that are often overweight.

 So the first thing is to look at the breed and what’s normal for them.

Dogs that are overweight will generally not have a waist and you will not be able to feel the ribs easily because of the thick layer of fat.

Overweight dogs may tire easily and get out of breath when exercising too.

What can you do about it?  

The first thing to do is accept and recognise your dog is overweight and then make an appointment with your Qualified Veterinary Nurse.

If your dog hasn’t had a check up in the last 6 months then it is worth getting a check up first with the Vet who will then refer to the Nurse for a Weight Clinic Appointment, these are generally free.

It is better to have a slow weight loss plan rather than a drastic weight loss. The weight is more likely to stay off if it is done slowly.

It is important to stick to it to see the long term results

What’s the best thing to do regarding their diet (make sure everyone in the house knows their eating plan, no treats)

The type of food you feed your dog is a key part in maintaining the correct weight.

 Some diets are not suitable for some dogs and too high in calories, especially if we feed too much.

 Much the same as us really, too many calories or a poor quality diet can lead to obesity.

It is better to spend a little more on a quality diet that gives better nutrition and calorific content.

Equally, cutting the food amount down drastically will not help weight loss as the dog is lacking the correct nutrition and the body will store fat.

You may have to experiment with different foods and amounts to trigger the metabolism and burn calories.

Would measuring daily intake of food help?  

Yes, it is important to measure the portions so intake can be monitored.

 It also helps the rest of the family feed the same amount consistently

What are health implications?

The health implications, like us, are many.

Your dog can develop Diabetes, High blood Pressure, Skin problems, breathing issues, Heart disease, Liver disease.

The other major one is Arthritis, this is very painful for dogs and is often overlooked and not treated with pain relief.

Can an exercise plan help?  

An exercise plan can definitely help.

 The exercise has to be suitable for the dogs breed and life stage.

 If the dog is unfit the exercise has to be built up gradually so the dog doesn’t suffer injuries.

It may be worth consulting with your Vets for a plan.

Activities such as Hydrotherapy with a registered Centre can also help with fitness and weight loss.

Any tips to keep dogs at a healthy weight? 

Regular visits to the Vets will help keep you informed of your dogs health and general fitness.

Always act proactively rather than wait until your dog is overweight or unwell before seeing the Vet.

If owners are worried what’s your advice for them?

If you are worried, then book in with the Veterinary Nurse at your Vets for a chat and they will advise the next step for you and your Dog.

Acting early to prevent weight gain could mean you have a longer and illness free time together

There is plenty of really great advice here from Rachel and I hope you find it useful.

If you are concerned that your dog is overweight the first thing, you need to do is contact your vet.

Exercise is the key in keeping them happy and healthy.

 If you feel your dog could benefit from extra walks. I provide a safe and stimulating. Solo adventure, that brings your dog home better behaved.

If you would like to know more of how I can help you then why not book a free 15 minute discovery call.

You can find out more about Rachel Bean Canine First Aid course and

dog walker

Should you stop training your puppy at 6 months old?

Finn, my handsome dog has reached 6 months old, no longer a puppy. He has lost some of his puppy cuteness. He will now start his teenage stage, but don’t worry I won’t expect him to start slamming his bedroom door in my face and tell me he hates me. Well, I hope not anyway.

What I will expect him to do , is to become a little bit more naughty, pushing boundaries and unwanted behaviour such as jumping up and pulling on the lead. As the owner, this is up to me to sort out. I want to have a well behaved dog so I am going to have to put the time in.

The number of dogs who are put up for rescue because owners can not cope with their teenage tearaway. I believe that if puppy owners were given the right guidance from the start then there would be less difficult dogs waiting to get rehomed.

At this stage, some dogs go through a fear period, he may be reactive or scared of things that haven’t bothered him in the past such as unfamiliar objects or strange people. This is on my mind when I am out with Finn, the other day he was very interested in a mobility scooter he was clearly wondering ‘mum what’s that’, before he had time to react (i.e bark) I gave him a gravy bone, his fav, so he could recognise the positive nice thing of a yummy treat with the scooter and he wasn’t bothered. This could have gone so differently if I hadn’t reacted so quickly.

I have trained and played with Finn since he was 8 weeks old and we have a great relationship and I want that to continue especially as I going to do agility and gundog training with him.

It does piss me off when I hear owners say ‘I don’t have time to train my dog’ well sorry buttercup you are letting your dog down. If you have time to go to the gym, watch a football match or go down the pub. You have time to train and play with your dog. You could even do it while watching Coronation street. Just 10-15 mins a day playing with your dog will improve your relationship with him and hey it might just listen to you,

Dogs are selfish and very clever, they always ask ‘what is in it for me?’ and I don’t blame them but we can use this to our advantage by using treats to get them to do what we want them to do. If you want to keep his attention in a busy park then use high value treats and this doesn’t mean running out to get the most expensive treat you can find. Just some chicken, sausage hot dogs that kind of thing. Carry them around with you and your dog will not leave your side. This is your secret weapon.

To answer the question, you should train your dog the whole of their life. Dogs love to learn and I can guarantee you will have a better relationship with your dog, so get off your arse and spend time with your dog.

If you want your dog to enjoy an adventure while you are back at work then book a free 15 minute discovery call with me to find out how I can help.

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

‘Train your baby like a dog’- yay or nay

Wow it all kicked off this week. Thousands of sensitive snowflakes signed a petition calling for channel 4 to cancel ‘ Train your baby like a dog’ programme before it aired on Tuesday night.

Jo Rosie Haffenden, a animal Behaviourist believes we should apply dog training reward techniques to our kids. To be honest, I have never heard of her until the programme, I was like ‘who’s she’ but I did like her straight talking direct approach. I was googling her and stalking her on social media and Youtube throughout the show, like you do. I found out she has written many books on Dog yoga and ‘Teach my dog to do that’, in my eyes definitely someone to listen to.

Jo had to firstly deal with 3 year old, Greydon , prone to having tantrums, being aggressive and attention seeking. Her thoughts were rewarding good behaviour instead of punishing bad and gave him something to focus on.

I have a 5 year old, Scarlett that is showing signs of autism, if her doctor and her school got their fingers out I could have a diagnosis by now, but anyway full disclosure here. I am guilty of constantly telling her off I sometimes forget to praise her when she does something right. As a dog walker, I find it very easy, almost second nature to praise my dog Finn and client’s dogs I say ‘yes’ ‘good’ because I know I need to do that in order to show them good behaviour I want. If Finn does a spin or doesn’t bark at that mobility scooter that has gone by I want to reward that behaviour because he will more likely do it again. For me, this shows that positive reinforcement can be used for all species.

The second problem was 14 months old, Dulcie from Croydon woo woo! Sorry had to do that I spent some time figuring out where in croydon. Dulcie hates bath time and finds it hard to settle. Jo’s solution was give her more of a choice at dinner instead of chips. At bath time, she’s uses clicker and white chocolate buttons which I think had everyone’s knickers in a twist. Some described it as ‘unethical’ and ‘dehumanising for children’. Just rewards for good behaviour, confidence building and hugs instead of leaving the baby to cry it out. Is that really so awful?

Jo- Rosie wasn’t acting as a child psychologist or even claiming to be. These methods were common sense and showed how dog training methods could be used to solve the problems. It certainty didnt deserve the petition before the show aired. Channel 4 spokesman defended the documentary ‘ explores a new approach to childcare, grounded in positive science- based motivational techniques that are used widely by parenting coaches and animal behaviour experts’.

Jo-Rosie said ‘if everyone parented their child the same way we’re training our dogs, we’d end up with more confident, compassionate and curious human beings’. I couldn’t agree more.

If you haven’t seen it yet, where have you been? I i imagine you can catch it on 4 on demand.

If you want your dog to join Pawtastic’s very own positive enforcer then visit

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

Website has landed!

Last Saturday, I celebrated Pawtastic 5th birthday.  

To mark the occasion, I thought I would share with you, the reason why I started the business.

Now you may be thinking it’s because I love animals.

Well, yes I do very much but there’s more…..

It’s actually because after I had my daughter.

I realised I didn’t want to go back to training to be veterinary nurse.

I didn’t want to work 45-50 hours then study at college one day a week and bringing up a baby.

As you may know, when you have children your priorities change. It wasn’t all about me anymore. I wanted to be a hands on mum so when Scarlett was 6 months old. With some help from my mum. I bravely started the business.

I have always wanted to be a business owner, be independent and make my own money while doing something that I loved.

Everything I do is for my daughter. I hope one day, she will be proud of me.

5 years on, the business has gone from strength to strength.

From first time mum to gundog walker.

I received a great testimonial from one of my cat clients Harriet looked after our cat, Hecate, for 5 days in August.  Hec was poorly a few days before we left and needed medication, and because we had been impressed with Harriet’s knowledge and thoroughness when we met for the initial consultation, we were very comfortable leaving Hec in her care and were far less anxious than we might have been under the circumstances.  I really recommend her service as you know you are leaving your home and pet in safe, competent hands.’

I think it’s a great time to introduce the new logo and website.

Welcome a new chapter to the business, Pawtastic Gundog Adventures.

But setting up my new website was no easy task, alot of swearing and wanting to throw the laptop out of the window. I am sure you have been there before.

I share why in the video below.

I am off to put a lead on it.

Catchya Later

Harriet x

dog walker

Completely useless and unrealistic

Over the past few months, I have been reading alot of puppy books.
Some of them are completely useless and unrealistic.
Like ‘how to toilet train your puppy in 7 days’
News just in.
There is no way, that will happen.
Depends on breed, age of puppy and routine used by owner.
The puppy is bound to have an accident because that’s life.
Shit happens.
So what’s all this reading for, I hear you ask.
well,  I am planning to start writing my own puppy book.
Obviously the more I read, the better I will be able to help my clients.
The one book that has stood out is my very own  business mentor himself.
Mr Dominic Hodgson’s  new book ‘The perfect Puppy Project’.
‘Hodgie’ or the ‘Swearasaurs’ as I call him.
This book is his fourth book and personally I think it is his  best one yet.
It’s simple, easy to read and actionable steps that will work.
It’s also very funny and this makes it very different from other puppy books that I have read.
Here’s my review:
This is the second book from Dom’s street smart series that I have read.
There are so many puppy books out there, full of useless information might as well use them as toilet paper.
Dom’s ‘Perfect puppy project’ is not like the other puppy books. It’s easy to read and funny. First time puppy owners will be able to read this book and then straight away follow the steps to a perfect puppy. I will be getting a puppy in a few week. This will be my bible. I will be following the routine suggested by Dom.
Great tips for puppy biting which I know every puppy owner struggles with.
There’s chapter on trick training which I will be implementing in my puppy visits.
Can’t wait to give a copy to my puppy clients! Thanks Dom, Another cracker of a book!’

You can get a copy in print and kindle version on amazon. Audible version will be coming soon
The principles in this book, is pretty much what I follow with my own clients.
So if you know anyone thinking of  getting a puppy or has a puppy already? Then please do point them to this book and my very own puppy academy visits.
Here’s a  lovely review from one of my clients Nahla’s owner about my puppy visits.
When she sent this to me I got quite emotional.

I liked Harriet as soon as I met her. You could instantly tell how much she loves animals and Nahla loved her very first visit. Harriet is reliable, trustworthy and most importantly, she makes you feel like your pet is the most important in the whole world! I wouldn’t have anyone else care for Nahla. So happy that we found Harriet.’ 


Natter soon

Harriet x


dog walker

Are you legally blonde when it comes to Doglaw?

I will let you into a little secret.

I was once a legal eagle now I walk gundogs for living. I had my heart set on becoming a criminal barrister. I used to enjoy taking part in Mock trials, we got to wear legal gowns and wigs. One Saturday, we were competing in a mock trial finals, a real life court in Maidstone. I was cross – examining a witness. I was asking so many probing questions that the witness actually cried in the witness box. I don’t usually make a habit of making people cry, but I did enjoy watching him squirm. I knew I had a strong agreement and he had nothing. I often get asked why I left the legal profession, well I would rather wipe a dog’s paw than a lawyer’s arse.

I’m going to put my legal hat on now. Potential doglaw issues arise on a daily basis. Don’t get caught out and come to my doglaw seminar that I am hosting on Saturday 1st June. It will save your money. Best not to come a cropper. You will know what to do if the worse happens. It will make you a better owner and your dog will love you for it. If you would like to book then visit

Hope to see you all there
Harriet x


dog walker

Award winning Gundog walking Specialist that’s me

Oh my god, my return journey back from sunderland actually went to plan.
I had such a blast.
It was so great to let my hair down and not worry about being a mum, daughter or girlfriend.
It was just me for the weekend.
I even won an award which I was over the moon about.
Hopefully I will win more in the future.

I did have a blonde moment on the way to sunderland.
I was going down the escalators, I went to put my Oyster card back in my pocket
when I didn’t hold on to my case like a numpty  and it fell down the escalators.
Thankfully a very kind person stopped my case from going any further.
Phew I felt like a rather idiot.
There is something about surrounding yourself with like minded individuals.
I found this out when I hosted Canine first aid Course with Rachel Bean.
I sat there and I looked around and thought ‘I made this happen’
Everyone chatting and enjoying themselves.
I am hoping to do the same on 1st June when Trevor Cooper will be coming
to West Wickham to talk about his doglaw Seminar.
A few people at the weekend were saying how entertaining the Seminar was.
You will be in for a treat.
The tickets are £20.
There are limited spaces. Selling like hot cakes so you need to get  in quick.
It would be great to see you all there.


To book click on

Harriet x


dog walker · Pets

What dangers to Avoid at Easter

We have all done it, haven’t we?
You have a chocolate Easter egg, man’s best friend is looking at you with sad eyes.
Watching every piece of chocolate you lift to your mouth and you feel sorry for him.
Awww those eyes you say to yourself, so you give him some……………………………..
Answer to that, yes most definitely 100%.
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is toxin to dogs. Even a small amount of the stuff can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, increased heart rate, restlessiness and seizures,
The darker, the chocolate, the more potent the level of thebromine and the more
poisonous it is.
If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, please contact your local vets, on the phone let them know what type of chocolate and how much approximately they have eaten.
What I love about easter is a buttered hot cross buns, but this is not something you should share with your doggy friends. Hot cross buns contain dried fruits such as currants, sultanas and raisins which are toxic to dogs. If your dog eats even a small quantity it can cause kidney failure which can be fatal.
It’s the perfect time of the year to give daffodils but make sure you keep them out of reach from your dog especially if he is a little sod who likes to chew or dig the garden. Daffodils are poisonous to dogs if they eat the bulbs or flowers or drink water from a vase with daffodils in. It may cause your dog to have a upset stomach which could cause him to vomit.
Easter causes a problem for cats too. Lilies are a regular feature this time of year. All parts of the lily are extremely toxic to cats. If they brush against the flower and get pollen on their coats. Then later groom themselves and of course ingest the lily pollen as they clean their fur. It can cause vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite and kidney damage.
If you think your pet has eaten or been in contact with any of these that I have mentioned then please contact your local vet.
If you have enjoyed this blog post then join my email list.
Where you get regular tips and I may even get a smile out of you click here