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Liver Cake Recipe

Teaching a Small Dog to Pivot

Creating Variety in HTM Class Activities

Modified Wendy Volhard Diet

Choosing the Right Dog Food

Training Tips


LIVER CAKE RECIPE - a highly nutritious training treat made from human quality ingredients

1 lb Liver (preferably Lambs)

1 lb Flaked Oats

2 Eggs

2 cloves Garlic or 2 tsps garlic puree

A couple of tablespoons of milk

Put the liver, eggs and garlic into a blender until well mashed up. Add about a quarter of the rolled oats. If you have a heavy duty blender you can add the rest of the oats. If not, then put the blended mixture into a mixing bowl and gradually fold in the remaining oats. If you try to do this in a small domestic blender the motor may overheat. If you find it is too dry to mix then add a couple of tablespoons of milk. Press the mixture into a greased 12-inch baking tin and place in the oven (Gas Mark 4, or Electric 180頦or around 30-40 minutes. You can line the baking tray with tin foil and grease that 䯠make it easier to remove once cooked. Leave to cool and cut into bite size pieces (鮣h square). They can then be placed in small bags and frozen ready for use over a couple of weeks. It may be easier to cut them initially into ꠠ inch squares, otherwise they crumble a bit, which you will then need to cut up into the smaller pieces just before use.

TEACHING A SMALL DOG TO PIVOT Ჴicle written by myself and first printed in the PnM Newsletter

Little dogs have one distinct disadvantage when it comes to doing any sort of work where they are supposed to remain close to their handler೩de. They can೥e their handlerডce. So what do they do? They move slightly to the side so they can look up more easily. This problem may well have been mastered when teaching normal heelwork by, for example, clicking and rewarding when the dog adopts the correct position. However when teaching a new move, such as the pivot, the dog will frequently move out to the side again or keep its head close but with its back end sticking out, as it tries to understand these new instructions. With a big dog a lot of handlers overcome this tendency to move out by putting slight tension on the lead or touching the dog튠 side. You can certainly do this with a small dog but it involves the handler in a lot of bending down and turning of their body at the same time which is not particularly ergonomically sound.

How about doing a bit of lateral thinking? Forget about the dog being at your side ᴠleast initially. Make a platform about 4 inches high out of a pile of magazines. Using basic clicker techniques teach your dog to stand with its front feet on the platform. You could either start by using food as a lure to the platform or sitting back and seeing how many different things your dog can do with a pile of magazines. If you try the second approach, I suggest you tie them firmly together to start with unless you want one of the creations to be magazines in every corner of the room. Once your dog is comfortable with standing on the platform, stand in front of your dog and move a couple of step sideways round the platform. Hopefully, especially if you have a lure in your hands, your dog should keep its front feet on the spot and move its back feet sideways thus starting to pivot in front of you. The speed with which you can move on depends very much on how quickly your dog gets the message but basically you are aiming for a complete 360 degree pivot on the platform 㴩ll using click and reward principles.

The next stage involves reducing the height of the pile, one magazine at a time, until your dog will carry out the exercise on just one magazine. At this stage I suggest you replace the magazine with a same sized piece of cardboard ॲhaps a panel from a breakfast cereal box so that it will be coloured and therefore not too dissimilar to the magazine cover. You could actually use the pivot in this position as a move in its own right, in which case you would simply gradually reduce the size of the cardboard until the dog becomes so familiar with the move that it is no longer necessary. This might be a good point at which to introduce a temporary or permanent cue (command).

However if you want to transfer the move to your side try the following. Cut the cardboard into a circle, about 3 inches in diameter and get your dog used to doing the pivot on that. Incidentally, the smaller you can make the cardboard circle the better since this enables you to almost swivel your foot on the spot. Then with your dog standing with its front feet on the circle, stand beside your dog with your left foot adjacent to the circle. This is assuming you are starting with an anticlockwise pivot (left about turn), if you are starting with a clockwise one then obviously you need to reverse the positions. Give your pivot cue and move your left foot a couple of inches forward round the circle. Fingers crossed, your dog will move its back feet around and pivot. You might need to be quite patient here and click and reward for even the smallest of back feet moves. Some dogs catch on really quickly others seem to need to be taken back to the ront௳ition, as a reminder, quite frequently. Once you have the back feet moving sideways reliably though you should be able to move on relatively quickly to doing a 360 degree pivot.

All you have to do then is sort out your permanent cue and have a go at doing it in the other direction 宬ess you have already been doing this simultaneously.


It튠 very easy to get stuck in a rut when running any type of training class, and heelwork to music is no different. The following list of suggestions should help to keep everyone involved, on their toes and actively developing new skills. If you donವn or attend a class many of the suggestions are still applicable if you train alone or with a friend(s).  

  1. Get everyone to set themselves targets or objectives to be achieved each week ᠢit like Celebrity Fat Club on the TV. The targets must be realistic so that everyone should be able to demonstrate their achievement to the group the following week.
  1. Think of how many ways there are to do certain moves e.g. weaving, heelwork, poses. Write a composite list between the class and start working towards teaching yourself and your dog the variations. You could either do this by a ⯵p thinkﲠby allocating the moves to individuals who would then return the following week able to lead the group in learning the moves.
  1. How about an activity for getting everyone involved and moving 粥at if it࣯ld. Have a good selection of music available. Play one to two minutes of each piece with everyone independently having a go to see what might work. After each piece everyone must state a move that they think goes with the music. Play it through again with each person in turn demonstrating their selected move. For the next piece, each person must think of a different move.
  1. Prepare a number of cards with a different move written on each. These can be used in a variety of ways. Give a different card to everyone and then, working in pairs, get them to demonstrate the move to each other. The partner acting as observer can make helpful comments. Swap cards around and repeat the exercise. Alternatively you could get people to show the whole group how they do the move on their card at the moment and explain what their next stage will be in developing it. This can be quite a useful way of generating discussion.
  1. Have a selection of prepared audio tapes with, say, 30 seconds of music on. Either pre-warn people to bring Walkman੮, then you could allow, say, 20 minutes to develop short routines or give out the tapes the previous week and get people to work on the routines at home. Run a mini competition with the rest of the group scoring the routines. This is also a useful exercise in developing assessment skills.
  1. Get a different class member each week to prepare a different / novel activity lasting, say 10 Ⱐminutes, for the whole group for the following week. Itࡠgood way to get everyone involved, thinking and hopefully creative.
  1. Give everyone a copy of a different piece of music. Get them to bring along to the next class an item of clothing / prop (or whole costume) that could be used to reflect the music. Give prizes for e.g. most creative, most ingenious.
  1. Get people to work out what is the best type of music for themselves and their dog. Do this by listening to selected pieces of music and working out the beats per minute. Match this against the handler튠 preferred moving speed and the dogലotting speed. I have included this suggestion and the following one as a result of the recent training session for Assessors run by Annie Clayton at Ryton. It made me realise how important it is to find music that reflects your own natural pace and your dog஡tural trotting movement in order to appear to work in harmony as a team.
  1. Develop the skill of moving to the music using different rhythms so that you are not restricted to a ᬫɴ is also essential if you want to enter Dances with Dogs.
  1. Get a dance teacher to come along, or failing that get someone to enrol at a dance class and then try and teach the rest what they have learnt.
  1. Video tape individual moves or routines. This suggestion needs a video camera and also access to a TV / video for ease of playback so everyone can watch and comment on both their own and other peopleథrformances. Seeing yourself in action is an excellent way to find out what you need to work on.
  1. This suggestion and the next also need TV/ video. If you can৥t these to your training venue perhaps you could go to a volunteer튠 house to watch and get them to provide the coffee as well! Use one of the training videos as a guide to help you develop moves. Watch short excerpts, discuss them as a group and then have a go at doing them yourselves. If you tried, say, one or two per week this would gradually extend your repertoire of moves. Another way of doing the same thing would be to circulate the video round the class and for a different person each week to watch the excerpt themselves at home and then come to class prepared to show everyone else how to teach their dog the moves.
  1. Pick out a routine from one of the show videos. Get everyone to identify moves they can do 䯠develop confidence in their present abilities. Identify those that they would like to be able to do, and are potentially achievable by them and their dog, then start working towards them. The really adventurous might try to get a copy of the music and try to emulate the video performance ᳳuming you have picked a good one. Or perhaps they could do it even better.
  1. Get everyone working towards a Progress Award. This involves developing a short routine, selecting appropriate music, polishing up moves, ensuring all the required elements are included. This could be done over a number of weeks with all the group helping one another. If people can৥t to an assessment session, why not video the routines and send them in for assessment.
  1. Develop individual dance routines in a similar way to the Progress Awards but including perhaps a wider range of moves, more attention to audience appeal and donযrget the costume. If people aren튠 yet ready for, aren੮terested in or can৥t to competitions, use something as an excuse to develop themed routines e.g. Christmas, Valentines Day etc.
  1. Provide atmosphere by borrowing an audience 峥ful to provide distractions like clapping and to give people a chance to get used to the 岶esᳳociated with live performance. You could do this by inviting another club or take your group he roadꠠ to another club. Another way would be to have a party night and get friends and relatives to come along. The provision of prizes and / or rosettes makes it more realistic.
  1. Develop a group routine that could be used if you are asked to do a demonstration. Or you could actively seek out a venue such as a church fete to show off your skills.

WENDY VOLHARD DIET - as modified by me for my personal use

WENDY VOLHARD DIET (for a 50 lb dog) - further details on www.volhard.com

(my modified version of her option based on commercial dog food and is the lazy / busy person's way of feeding a more natural diet)


 Commercial dog food, as per its directions for the weight / age of your dog. Try to choose a dog food that has 2 animal proteins listed in the first 3 ingredients and ideally select a food that is not made from meat and animal derivatives and / or derivatives of vegetable origin. Also try to choose one that is preserved naturally with vitamin C or E and that does not contain artificial colourants.

 Vitamin C - 125mg in the form of calcium ascorbate. I give a quarter of the contents of an Ester C capsule (from Holland & Barret).

Vitamin B complex - 1 tablet (from Holland & Barret or Tesco)

Fresh vegetables - 2 tablespoons. Some of these can be fed raw e.g. carrot or broccoli stalks however dogs cannot easily break down plant cellulose so it is better to put them through a food processor or lightly cook them. Choose from anything your dog likes, but try to include green leafy vegetables. Try green beans, parsnips, potatoes, sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, peas etc.

Fresh or dried fruit - 2 tablespoons. Try bananas, plums, apples, pears etc.

ONCE A DAY (rotate these choices through the week)

On 4 days - Raw meat - half a cup. I tend to buy supermarket economy packs of beef, lamb, chicken or turkey mince. Occasionally substitute chicken or lambs liver for about one third of the meat. Fish would also be OK instead of the meat but it tends to be more expensive.

On 1 day - A soft boiled egg.

On 1 day - Cottage cheese.

On 1 day - Unflavoured yoghurt containing acidophillus.


A bone such as large beef one or raw chicken neck or wing. Do not give cooked bones. Feeding raw bones will help to keep your dog's teeth clean. Too many may result in constipation. Make sure that your dog is left in peace to eat his bones.


It is thought we need to ensure that dogs today receive adequate amounts of Vitamin B complex in order to counteract modern environmental stresses. The B complex should be given rather than individual B vitamins to ensure a correct balance. Supplementation is advised since it is quite fragile and can be destroyed during the processing of commercial dog foods. Some of the B vitamins are also destroyed on exposure to light and air, so food left on the shelf for any length of time can be deficient. Wendy Volhard maintains that the B vitamins work more efficiently in the presence of Vitamin C. Although dogs manufacture their own vitamin C she recommends that more is added. I don't give as much as she actually recommends. Both these vitamins are water soluble and if not utilised by the body are excreted in 4 to 8 hours so they need to be given twice daily.

A deficiency in B complex vitamins may show up as a variety of effects e.g. excessive moulting; hair loss; flea and other skin allergies; chronic ear problems; motion sickness; constipation; kidney, liver or various metabolic disorders; pigmentation changes; epilepsy and behavioural changes such as aggression, timidity, anxiety, stress, an inability to think and act clearly.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT DOG FOOD - General Advice to Help You Read The Label

The old saying "you are what you eat" not only applies to you but also to your dog. The better the quality of the food you use the more likely it is that your dog will lead a healthy life. But how you go about choosing a food that is healthy and also within your budget can be very difficult. Dog food manufacturers don't make it easy for you as their labelling isn't always as helpful as it could be and they often use ambiguous terms for their ingredients so it can be hard to determine exactly what is in the bag (or tin). It may not be necessary to buy the most expensive food however a better quality food might in the long term cost you less because you can probably feed less and you may spend less on vet bills dealing with your dog's health problems. Cheaper brands are cheaper for a reason and poor quality food can lead to problems such as diarrhoea, constipation, scratching, dull coat, hyperactivity, lethargy, bad breath, obesity or underweight. 

But you need to learn to read the labels as you will find that even some heavily advertised, mid-price range brands contain ingredients you might want to avoid such as Meat and animal derivatives, EC permitted antioxidants / EC permitted additives, Ethoxiquin / BHA / BHT, By-products of vegetable origin / derivatives of animal origin, Poultry by-products, Animal fat, Meat by-products, cereals (without stating which ones).

Looking at some of these in more detail:

Cereals - When this general term is used as a dog food ingredient, the actual grain used can vary from batch to batch. This means that manufacturers can take advantage of market prices and use whichever grain happens to be cheapest at the time. So you donࡣtually know what is in the food and it can change from batch to batch possibly causing upset to your dog. Cereals can be used to provide bulk to food and can sometimes have very little nutritional value. The less easily digested cereals also tend to be cheaper. This doesn୥an that all cereals are bad but it is wise to choose products that name the cereal used such as rice or oats which are highly digestible. Avoid foods that use the general terms 'cereals' or cereal derivatives' and if possible also try to avoid maize (corn) which is not easily digested. Wheat is a grain often used as a carbohydrate in dog foods because it is relatively cheap, however it is reported to give rise to allergies in some dogs. Some of the more recent entrants to the dog food market (often pricey) are now producing grain free foods where the carbohydrate is sourced from a variety (specified) of vegetables and fruit. This allows the manufacturer to avoid contents leading to possible allergies and produce a highly digestible food.

By-products of vegetable origin and derivatives of vegetable origin are generic terms covering anything that is not classed as a cereal but broadly comes from vegetable sources. It may be waste material from the human food preparation industry, often processed at high temperatures, and can be used as another bulking agent with little nutritional value. 

Meat and animal derivatives ᳠with cereals, unspecified sources could be whatever is cheapest at the time and may vary from batch to batch. These may be by products, not selected for their quality. If your pet is intolerant of certain proteins then there would be no way of knowing whether it is in the bag you have just bought. So avoid foods labelled as containing e.g. meat and animal derivatives, meat by-products, chicken by-products, and poultry by-products. It is always advisable to choose dog food containing a named meat source such as ⩥d chicken meatﲍ 詣ken meal쯳pan> Most named meat protein sources are satisfactory however beef can sometimes give rise to intolerances so should possibly be viewed with caution. Another problem can arise with fats  - cheaper foods can use the generic term 'animal fat' which could be sourced from a variety of animals, their by products or even restaurant grease. Because of its nature it is difficult to stop it going rancid without recourse to artificial preservatives. So always look for a named fat source e.g. lamb fat or chicken fat.  

Artificial additives 䨥se can include antioxidants (preservatives), flavourings and colourings. Colourings are used to make the food look more attractive 请ever this is for the benefit of the owner not the dog. Flavourings are used to make the food more palatable 鮥. taste better, and some of both these additives have been blamed for increasing hyperactivity in dogs (in much the same way that they are blamed for hyperactivity in children). In order to increase the shelf life of pet food manufacturers need to use some sort of antioxidant. Cheaper foods tend to use synthetic ones, often listed as EC permitted antioxidants, the commonest ones being BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. There is considerable disquiet about these however related to their links to cancer when fed in large amounts. Better quality foods are preserved naturally by a blend of vitamins C and E, sometimes in conjunction with rosemary. These may be labelled as tocopherals. 


In heelwork have you ever tried clicking as you set off? Done just occasionally it might add a bit of pep to the first few steps as your dog anticipates its reward.

If you are trying to get your dog to trot nicely, rather than pace, it can help if you click to mark the trot but then donಥward immediately. Get your dog to continue trotting for a few seconds and you should find that, in anticipation of the reward, the trot will improve even further. This can work for some other moves as well.

Do you have a dog that puts its nose down to look for dropped food the moment itਡd its treat/reward? It might pay to sometimes give a second treat and hopefully your dog will be more inclined to keep its nose up in anticipation of another treat.

During training do you have a problem holding a lot of treats in your hand at the same time? Use a rolled up slice of chicken (Tescoॣonomy) and let your dog take a small bite from the end each time. You might finish up with a very wet hand but it should stop food dropping onto the floor.

Teaching your dog to 鰥 its face⹠using a bit of sticky tape on the muzzle to trigger the foot coming up to the face often works really well. However the tape can get slobbered on so it stops sticking, you get through a lot of pieces (and the whole roll finishes up wet), it can get eaten or it finishes up stuck to the foot and causes a totally different action to the one you wanted. Try using a plastic bag (a thin, large size freezer bag  a crinkly supermarket one) to make a ring which you can slip loosely over your dogயse. It should trigger the same action and can be used again and again.

A problem common to both HTM and other dog disciplines is that of too early reinforcement. What handlers sometimes do, in an effort to motivate their dogs, is give them lots of praise, encouragement, and bribes (food lures) in order to get the required behaviour e.g. walking at heel. The result of this though may be that the dog is unintentionally reinforced for the very behaviour they are trying to reduce e.g. lagging. So if you are 襥r leading鯵r dog it might be worth re-thinking your tactics.