Walking on the lead
Benji had already been used to wearing a small collar but I did want him to wear a harness so I have got him used to sitting on my lap facing away from me and it is then very easy to pull the harness over his front paws and then put him on the floor and clip it on. I think all puppy owners have had this wonderful vision of taking out their pup for the first time and proudly walking down the road with him happily walking by our side tail wagging …… now for the reality! If possible, I do recommend to practise walking your puppy on the lead in your garden. Some puppies just don’t want to move as soon as they feel the lead is attached to them but on the other hand others just ran forward and are abruptly stopped by the lead. I used my best tools to attract Benji’s attention – a small squeaky ball and treats.

Benji the hoover
We have discovered that Benj wants to eat everything in his path and if it’s not there he will go sniffing it out! He will try to eat flowers, grass, weeds, stones, twigs and even a snail (which I managed to prise out of his mouth). The walking out on a lead has therefore been a problem. I never go out without the squeaky ball and use it as soon he focuses on something on the ground (I can assure you this little ball is getting well used)! It is a very slow process and a combination of saying NO when he grabs something into this mouth, picking him up and retrieving it and pulling him away from anything that he is making a “bee line” for! I also talk to him quietly while we are walking and that does make him focus on me but only for a short while. I have just started giving him a piece of baby carrot as this is safe for puppies and he enjoys the crunch which distracts him for a short while. This does help but of course he can only have no more than 2 or 3 pieces of carrot a day.

Toilet training
Benji has been using the newspaper since his arrival and now there are very few accidents. Unfortunately we are not able to teach him to go toilet in the garden as all he wants to do is eat everything within reach. I have therefore started a schedule of walks between my husband and I to get Benji used to not toileting in the house. He is taken out for a short walk at 6.30am, 9.30am, around 12.30pm, 4pm and 8pm. After 10 days of that routine, Benji is dry throughout most nights and the wees indoors during the day are getting few and far between. It is the first time I have had to resort to this schedule as my previous puppies have always been trained to go regularly in the garden – a much easier solution!  Check out these links for methods to toilet train your puppy http://www.perfectpaws.com/htrp.html#.VE580MkSESY and http://uk.pedigree.com/health-and-training/training-your-dog/toilet-training-your-puppy

In the car
We have been taking Benji in the car for very short journeys for the last 2 weeks. As he is now used to his harness, it’s no problem attaching the harness to a car harness strap – initially I would sit in the back with him and just started driving around for no more than 10 minutes. After 10 days I sat in the front seat and Benji has progressed very well. We were able to take him for a 30 minute drive to an area around a lake where he enjoyed a good walk and met up with several other dogs. Benji is very excited when he meets another dog and he does jump up to their face so it is important to check with the owner that their dog is the patient type as not every pooch is keen to have a ball of fluff jumping, pawing and nibbling him! On the journey back, he just laid down and slept all the way home!

Playing and Training
Benji will now sit for a treat or his dinner. With a treat in your hand, tell your pup to sit while your hand is above his head – that will make him look up and then just move your hand slightly further to make him look back a bit more and he will sit. It is then just a question of repetition. Benji loves playing ball so I have started to tell him fetch when you runs for the ball and he now fetches it and brings it back. Once he achieves this on a regular basis, I will ask him to give. To make it easier for him to understand I will keep using the word “give” show him a treat so he drops the ball, praise him and throw the ball. He will soon realise that he gets the ball back when he lets it go. Don’t be tempted to try and prise a toy or ball you want your pup to give as he will believe that this the game tug war is what you want from him.


If you would like to pass on your experiences with your puppy, we would love to hear from you.


From the moment we collected our black German Shepherd puppy and put him in the car, we realised he was very anxious just being in the car and during the journey home he was sick several times.

When a dog really hates the car, it is a slow process as he needs time to understand there is nothing to fear and you need to build his confidence. I t might feel like it will take forever before you can even drive round the corner, but if you go at his pace you might find that you can progress through some stages really quickly.

The first stage was for a couple of days walking him on the lead around the car on the driveway with at least one door open, giving him the chance to sniff and become familiar with the smells of a car.

Second stage: on the third day, with both back doors open I brought Jet to one side of the car and my husband called him from the other open door and showing him a treat and our puppy eventually bravely jumped in and was rewarded with a treat and he was allowed to promptly jump back out of the car. This process needs to be repeated for another 2 or 3 days, then you can have someone sitting on the back seat calling your dog. Once he is in, praise him, give him his treat and push the car door closed quietly, then let him stay in the car for just a couple of minutes. If he shows signs of anxiety such as panting, licking his lips or trying to get out, try and re-assure him and distracting him with a toy or a treat. If he doesn’t calm down, first open the window and if he is still stressed, open the door but try and keep him in the car just a bit longer. Again this stage needs to be repeated over several days.

Third stage: the last stage before the engine is even turned on is your dog jumping or being lifted in the back seat and you sitting at the wheel and speaking quietly to your dog and hopefully by then he should start to feel more comfortable in the car.

Fourth stage: once the dog is coping just sitting in the car, turn on the engine and let it run and watch your pooch’s reaction. Some dogs get very worried and others are fine as there is no motion of the car. After 3 days of just sitting in the car on the driveway, I drove around our block which took no more than 4 minutes and Jet started getting anxious. For the next few days I would start the car up and wait for 2 or 3 minutes before driving around the block and on the third day, he just sat quietly and didn’t appear stressed . He therefore got lots of cuddles and treats when we returned. I then felt brave and took him for a short drive on the fourth day but he was sick after 2 miles. That was still progress as 2 weeks before he was too scared to even get in the car.

After another week of going on short journeys and taking the opportunity to stop and take him for a walk during our short journeys, Jet really relaxed and his confidence grew very quickly.

These days Jet loves the car, so much so that he would happily jump into anyone’s car if given the chance!

If you have had experiences of your canine refusing to get in the car or have any hints and tips, we would love to hear from you.

blogcatsIf you’re thinking about offering a home to a cat or kitten that’s great news. However there are many factors for you to consider before rushing into a decision that you may regret later. The fact is, too often pets acquired by impulse quite often don’t work out so you have to be sure that the cat coming into your life is right for your family and your lifestyle. Adopting a cat for the first time should be a lifetime commitment, so it is important to do your homework first and that will give you the best chance of a long and happy life together.

Cat character traits

It’s very important to be aware of character traits that all cats share. Their qualities include inquisitiveness, cleanliness, affection, patience, dignity, and courage. Cats are very loving creatures, but in order for them to trust and love their owner, they need to be fed regularly, treated kindly and given lots of care, which builds a strong and trustworthy relationship. All cats come fully equipped with retractable claws which are used for hunting and climbing and sometimes help re-design your curtains and carpets. They also come with night-vision goggles in the form of those beautiful green or blue eyes that have more rods and cones than humans do. All cats are born with hunting and chasing instinct, however some will want to hunt more than others. Some cats will want to be out at night and some are happy spending more time indoors. They are predators and you have to be prepared that your cuddly kitty could come home with his dead prey to offer to you as a gift. Remember, although we refer to cat ‘owners’, nobody really owns a cat. They are very independent and can go and find a new owner if they are not happy with the  current one!

These are essential questions to ask yourself before adopting a cat:

About the Cat

Most rescue cats will have had at least one home. Sometimes many more and it is important to find out as much as you can about the cat’s previous home.
• Do you have other pets? A dog for example? If so ensure any cat you are interested in adopting is going to be able to live with your other pet(s).
• If you are an inexperienced cat owner don’t choose a cat that has lots of issues (the rescue centres will work hard to ‘match’ you). No-one wants to see a cat returned because of incompatibility.
• Don’t discount an older cat. Kittens are rewarding but an older cat can be too! And kittens involved more hard work than older cats. Be open minded about your choice.
• Finally be patient. Some rescue cats take weeks before they will trust a new owner.

Are You Financially Prepared for a Cat?

If you have children, you want to care for them the best way you can, and a new cat will be much like having a new child in the family. This means you need to be prepared for the costs of responsibility for a cat.
1. Food of the best quality you can afford
2. Enough toys to keep your cat entertained and fit
3. Cat litter
4. Vet bills including neutering
5. Pet insurance
6. Care for your cat during holidays

Are there children younger than five years old in the home?

Tots usually love kitties, but if you bring a very young kitten into your home you may find them loving it to death–literally. Alternately, the kitten could inflict some painful scratches. You’d be better off either getting an older cat that’s been around children, or waiting a couple of years.

Do you have valuable furniture or flooring?

Face it, cats need scratching exercise so a good scratching post and a good selection of toys are essential to stop your cat heading for your curtains, furniture or carpets. To ensure your kitty uses the litter box, keep it clean as cats do not like using a smelly litter box.

Will an adult be responsible for feeding the cat, keeping the litter box clean, and grooming the cat regularly?

This is a serious consideration. Pets are fine for teaching children responsibility, but there should always be an adult around to supervise and make sure the necessary jobs are done every day.

Will you have time to be “family” to the cat?

Cats are very social animals and love attention from their humans. A lonely, neglected cat will soon find all kinds of mischief with which to amuse herself. 15 minutes a day of play time and petting will make the difference between a happy cat and a nuisance.
Adopting a cat is an immensely rewarding experience and you can really make a difference.

Adopting a cat is an immensely rewarding experience and you can really make a difference. Once you are confident you are ready to adopt a cat, your life will be enriched in many ways. There are countless benefits to pet ownership, and when you know you saved your furry companion from an unpleasant fate, it makes the bond you share that much more meaningful.

Where should I look to adopt my first cat?

Cats Protection www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat

Blue Cross  www.bluecross.org.uk › Rehome a pet

Cats for adoption across the UK www.catchat.org/

RSPCA   www.rspca.org.uk › HomeFind a pet

It is also well worth considering one of your local rescue centres.


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Our First day

Well we’ve made it home with 10 week old Benji!
For his first day we have left this cute bundle to wonder in the lounge and kitchen which for several weeks will be his day time playing/eating and sleeping zone. The lounge is totally puppy proofed with a selection of cushions, pillows, towels and boxes blocking all the areas that can be dangerous for Benji … and in some cases where Benji can be a danger to fragile items! There is even a blanket hanging from the TV stand protecting the DVD player and Sky box! Also look out for and remove any items on coffee tables or low furniture that are within reach and if you forget to put your shoes away, don’t blame your puppy!

Benji will be fed 4 times a day at the same times until 4 months (last meal at 6pm latest) when it will be reduced to 3 meals a day and then to twice a day at 6 month. At this young age he is fed a mixture of wet puppy food and puppy biscuits. I am probably in a minority who believes dried food is not best for any canine, it is only best for the owners. I do not disagree that dried food contains all the necessary vitamins and goodness a dog needs, but how many dog owners would be happy eating every day of their lives a form of say crisp bread that has all the necessary supplements to sustain a human. Dogs are carnivors and just like most humans they enjoy different textures, tastes and meat.

To crate or not to crate
Some people consider it to be a cage or a prison, if properly introduced I believe it can become your puppy’s “doggie den” where he can retreat if he feels overwhelmed or wants to chew his new toy or take a nap. It should not be used if you are out working most of the day, then it does become a prison.
First things first, the crate needs to be big enough for the canine to stand, turn and move around and lay down comfortably. It should be where you can be seen and heard and only used for any length of time when your puppy cannot be supervised or to calm him down so he takes a nap. It needs to feel a place of safety.  Leave the door open and leave toys in the crate along with the odd treat so the puppy has a happy association with his doggie den.
Make sure you start by shutting the door just for a few minutes and make sure he is not whining or barking when you open the door and then give him a treat. Gradually increase the time in the doggie den and make sure he is not only put in it when you go out but at different times of the day.  All puppies will do their best not to soil the crate but if it happens just remove him and do not shout or punish him as he will have no idea why you have reacted in such a way.

Our First Night
WARNING! If you have a new puppy, it’s a fact that you’re not going to get your 8 hours of sleep for a while.
After being woken up at about 5am 7 days a week for 2 weeks or more, the fun of getting up to feed and play with your puppy will be wearing off!
We played with Benji as much as possible during the evening to keep him awake but he “crashed out” at around 8.30pm! I personally don’t believe in leaving a puppy that has just been taken away from its mother and siblings on his own at night. As I carried Benji to our bedroom I say “bed time” and he will hear these 2 words every night and within days he will understand what is happening. As he is used to using newspaper, I have a rug covered with paper for his use during the night. We have a small dog bed on either side of our bed. We left the light on for a while to give Benji a chance to familiarise himself with this new environment and he did pace around the room for a while. However within 15 minutes he had settled down in his bed on my husband’s side. He woke up at 2.30am whining and licking my hand – I didn’t speak to him and just stroked him and within 10-15 minutes he curled up and went back to sleep. However we were woken up at 4.45am and he was wide awake and playful and I knew there was no point attempting to get him to go back to sleep!

For those who want their puppy sleeping in a room on their own, firstly be aware that your puppy will take a lot longer to settle as he will be distressed at being left alone as this has probably never happened to him in his short life. Please make sure you leave a fluffy toy to cuddle up to and leave some soft music playing or the radio on low. You will almost certainly have to leave your puppy in a crate and this means, unless you get up at night, he will wet the crate. Please be very patient as any frustrated outburst will only frighten the puppy and make the whole process of him settling at night a lot longer.

This paragraph from http://www.4pawsu.com/raisingpuppy.htm explains very well about teaching anything new to your puppy.
“What many new puppy owners fail to understand is that “teaching the puppy” doesn’t simply mean teaching them once, or twice, or for a couple of weeks. Mike Bibby’s high school basketball coach didn’t just show him once or twice how to shoot the ball. It took years for him to master the skills necessary to become a professional basketball player. The same is true when teaching a new puppy skills and concepts, many of which go against his very doggie nature.”

It is very tempting to ask friends and family to come and meet your new puppy. However too many visitors can be frightening and overwhelming for a puppy, therefore during the first week in particular, we made sure only one or two persons visited at a time.

Benji has been happy to play with most of his toys although his small rubber ball is his favourite and he is already chasing it up and down the lounge and he has already been given the nickname Dynamite on Legs! He does get very excited when playing so we ensure he is asked to stop and sit so that he calms down and can refocus. This routine can be invaluable as your dog gets bigger to ensure you always have control of play times with you or other dogs.

Benji will not be left on his own until towards the end of the second week when he will be left for just maybe 3-4 minutes while we go outside and test his reaction. We will go back in and if he has been quiet, he will be praised and rewarded. This is the first step of your puppy getting to understand that when he is left alone, you do always come home but the length of this process will be different for every pooch.

Fun is the key
Puppy training and socialisation should be fun for both owner and dog. Puppies can be taught to sit, lie down, and come for rewards. MAKE IT FUN! Don’t be negative and discipline him too much. Your puppy will learn more if he enjoys the lessons.




Crocodiles live up to 70 years and can reach 15 feet in length and weigh 2,000 lbs.
• A mother crocodile can carry her young in a pouch inside her mouth.
• Crocodiles close their nostrils while under water.
• Crocodiles can reach a land speed of 25 mph or 40 kmph. This creature can be also be in the water for about 2 up to 3 hours.
• A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.

A blindfolded dolphin can find a nickel at the bottom of its tank
• There are pink dolphins in the Amazon river
• Dolphins develop their own indiviual whistles that effectively act as their own name
• Dolphins shut down half of their brains when they sleep
• Because dolphins are mammals, they need to come to the surface of the water to breathe.

Hedgehogs are the only British mammal with spines
• A group of hedgehogs is called an “array”
• The hedgehog is born with its spines lying just under the skin. The spines will “sprout” 2-3 days after they are born
• A hedgehog’s heart beats 300 times a minute on average
• If necessary, a hedgehog can run over six feet per second. In fact, many hedgehogs will attempt to escape an attacker before they roll into a protective, spiny ball

Kangaroos are the only large animals that move by hopping
• A group of kangaroos is called a mob.
• Female kangaroos can determine the sex of their offspring.
• A fully grown kangaroo can jump up to 40 feet and bounce along at speeds up to 40mph
• Kangaroos can go months without drinking, and when they do need water, will dig their own water wells to find it.

Meerkats can run at a speed of up to 37 miles per hour.
• Meerkats are immune to scorpion and snake venom
• They get up later on cold or rainy days just like humans!
• The animal is known to have special calls, meant for specific purposes.Some calls indicate the approach of snakes and birds of prey, while others give the signal about the coming of predators.
• Meerkats vision is outstanding. They have a dark band around their eyes, which acts like sun glasses and reduces any glare from the sun so have the ability to see a predatory bird as they look directly into the sun.

A newborn panda weighs as much as a cup of tea
• Pandas have lived on Earth for two to three million years.
• A panda can spend 14-16 hours a day eating bamboo.
• Most of the food a panda eats is not digested. For this reason, they can produce up to 62lbs. of droppings a day.
• Pandas bleat like goats

This great info-graphic has been sent to us by Sainsbury’s Bank. It has some interesting facts as well as great ideas to keep you and your dog fit while having some fun along the way!



Online dating can help you find your perfect match but let’s face it, broken hearts and disappointment are obvious risks. You need to be aware of how to keep yourself and your finances safe.

Don’t panic . . . most people who date online are perfectly normal good people, however it pays to be aware of the risks posed by the minority. This guide will help you stay safe and have a great online dating experience .

 Look out for warning signs

Not everyone has similar morals or outlooks on life as you do. Some folks can do a pretty good job at hiding their true agenda, even if you’ve followed most of these tips. First dates (and second dates and even third dates) are for people to be on their best behaviour, so you may not always see the “true self” behind the person you’re sitting across from. Sometimes, though, people can’t be on their good behaviour for that long and signs begin to appear. Look for:

  • Avoids answering directly to questions, especially those about issues that are important to you. It’s okay if people joke about their answer, but eventually they need to get around to answering the question or explain why they feel uncomfortable doing so.
  • Demeaning or disrespectful comments about you or other people. How your match treats others can be a telling sign into their future behaviours.
  • Inconsistent information about any basics, especially anything within their profile. This especially includes marital status, children, employment, where they are living, but also things such as age, appearance, education, career or the like
  • Is nothing like the way they describe themselves in their online profile.
  • Physically inappropriate or unwanted behaviour (e.g., touching, kissing).
  • Pushes quickly to meet in person.
  • Avoids phone contact.


Protect your privacy

Make sure that you are always in control of what happens. Do not let anyone pressure you into giving away more information than you feel comfortable with. Once you’re on the site and setting up your profile, it’s important to retain an air of mystery, and not just to attract a date!

  • Do not post personal information, such as phone numbers, your address or where you work on dating sites. If you get to know someone, you can of course be more open with your information, but to start with it pays to be wary and only give out personal information on a need-to-know basis.
  • Be extremely wary about removing clothes or doing other things in front of your webcam, that could be used against you – even if you think you know the other party.
  • Use a dating site that offers the ability to email prospective dates using a service that conceals both parties’ true email addresses.
  • As a second line of defence for your privacy, set up a separate email account that does not use your real name. This is very simple and quick to do using such providers as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or gmail.
  • Make sure your phone number is ‘blocked’ to people you contact on dating sites.
  • If you’re using a mobile app to keep up with your dating messages, make sure that your location settings are turned off.
  • Pick a user name that does not include any personal information. For example, “joe_glasgow” or “jane_liverpool” would be bad choices. Whatever you do, don’t use your real name. It’s easy to track people down on social networking sites using just your name and a few details (unless you’re savvy and have the privacy nicely locked down there too).


Be Realistic

Prince (or Princess) Charming may very well indeed be waiting for you online, but you should also set your expectations just a little bit lower. Most of your dates will turn out to be duds. That’s just the statistics! So it helps prepare yourself if you remember that going into the online dating process. Don’t believe that everyone who shows interest in you is worth your time. And don’t get disenchanted if your first date decides they don’t want a second. It’s easy to believe they are rejecting you personally, but it’s for the best. After all, you’re looking for a good, mutual match, not someone to swoon over. (But hey, if you find someone to swoon over, that’s cool too!)

Being realistic also means setting realistic expectations about geography. The Internet allows us to search for and communicate with people from all over the world, regardless of their proximity to us. Unfortunately, that makes a real dating relationship difficult once you have to translate it into the real world. So if you’re not willing to fly to Paris to meet Mr. Frenchie, then don’t look for anybody outside of your local community. Keep in mind, that 50 mile drive for the first date might seem like no big deal, but imagine doing that multiple times a week if things got serious. It can (and has) been done, but know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand.


Report anything suspicious

If you’re convinced that the person who’s been contacting you isn’t genuine, report them to the dating site.  Most dating sites should have policies in place to protect genuine members, and will act swiftly if they find that someone on their site is a fraud.


Don’t rush into anything

It’s tempting to get caught up in the excitement of online dating, but don’t rush into anything. It’s perfectly acceptable to be chatting to a few potential dates at the same time, and it pays to spend time getting to know them before you take things to the next stage with anyone.

Take things at your pace. If the other person is a good match for you, then they will not only understand your pace, but will often mirror it! Always talk to the other person by telephone at least once before agreeing to meet for your first date. Ask for a photo (if they didn’t provide one in their profile) so that you can be assured of meeting the right person. Be on the lookout for inconsistencies in their history or any stories they tell you of their life, background, or growing up. Ask informative questions of the other person to ensure they match what and who they say they are in their profile.

If someone seems a little too keen to take the conversation away from the website and onto text messages or calls, you’re totally within your rights to ask them to slow down. Don’t feel the need to give out your phone number if you’re not comfortable doing so. Instead, ask for theirs and remember to put in the code for blocking caller ID before making the call. There’s no need to be paranoid about your privacy, but at the same time, it is wise to take simple precautions that will ensure you remain safe until you are completely comfortable. There are plenty of options for chatting via the sites. Most online dating services use a double-blind system to allow members to exchange correspondence between each other. This allows members to communicate, but without knowing each other’s email addresses or other identifying personal information. It’s best to use the dating service’s internal, secure messaging system until you feel as though you know the person to some degree. This ensures that when you do run into the inevitable creep online, you remain anonymous and safe. Some of the bigger dating sites even have webcam chat, which is great if you want to be able to see and talk to someone without giving them any personal contact information. Only move onto Skype, personal email or give out your mobile number when you’re ready.

Don’t send ‘sexts’ or pictures of yourself wearing very little to someone you’ve never met or don’t know well. Similarly, be wary of doing anything in front of a webcam that could be used against you…


Keep money out of it

It is very common for fraudsters to start an online ‘relationship’ with the sole aim of scamming you out of savings. Don’t fall for hard luck stories. Despite all the warnings, some people are still being duped into handing over cash via dating scams. It should go without saying that you should never give someone you’ve just met on a dating site any money. If they’ve been carefully weaving a sob story, in a lot of cases you can see it coming; the techniques used are similar across the world.

You’ll build up a rapport with someone, they will usually be very polite and complimentary, tell you everything you want to hear, and lead you to believe they have ‘fallen in love’ with you and that you’re special. Once they’ve reeled you in with flattery and declarations of intent, something terrible will happen to them that involves them needing money. They may claim to be working abroad and lose their passport or money, be robbed, or have some unforeseen mishap.

Usually they will be desperate to ‘meet’ you, but can’t get back into the country without the money they need from you. Don’t even think about handing it over. The same applies for receiving money through your personal bank account, or anything involving giving the person involved any of your financial information. Just back off and put the whole thing down to experience, then report them to your dating site’s administrators before they are able to scam anyone else.


Stay safe when meeting up

If someone you meet online is sincerely interested in you, they will want you to feel safe and they will be happy to let you apply a few common sense rules when you meet:

  • Meet somewhere public. Don’t agree to meet for the first time at one of your homes – not only are you revealing where you live, but it puts your safety at risk if you’re alone with a stranger in your own home or theirs. This is a no-brainer, but sometimes, even the obvious needs to be said. Most people find a restaurant is ideal, as it gives you both something else to concentrate on from time to time to break up the awkward moments. It also ensures that both parties are on their best behaviour, while still allowing you the opportunity to see how your match behaves in a public situation. Be an astute observer during that first date. The purpose of a first date is to not only see if there is a mutual attraction, but to learn more about the other person in their own words and see how they communicate their intentions non-verbally. By paying attention to all of these cues and information, you will learn a lot more about your match.
  • Make your own way to the first date; don’t agree to a lift, however good their intentions may be. Getting into a car with a complete stranger, even if you’ve been chatting for weeks and you think you know them, is never a good idea.  If you need to travel to another location on the date, always take your own car or transportation. Always arrange for backup transportation (e.g., a friend) if you’ve relied on public transportation for a meeting. Let a friend or two know that you’ll be out on a date.
  • Do tell a friend or family member who you are meeting, where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Don’t get drunk. It leaves you open to danger and clouds your judgement.
  • Take your mobile phone and keep it switched on.
  • Your personal belongings can be stolen. Your drink can be drugged. Don’t leave them unattended.


Time-wasters, cheats and catfish

Unfortunately, some of the people on dating sites, although not trying to scam you for your money, really shouldn’t be there. Catfish are the type of dating site user best avoided, but it can be hard to spot them straight away. They may be married or attached, or just wanting to boost their own ego. Either way, they are a waste of your time because you’ll never meet them. If someone you’ve been chatting to makes repeated excuses about why they can’t meet you, or cancels repeated dates, they could well be a Catfish.

It’s common for this type of site member to try and gain your sympathy by faking a car accident, family crisis or illness that makes it impossible for them to meet you. Of course, it’s perfectly possible that something awful could have happened… but if this person seems to be the unluckiest person you’ve ever come across, they might just be making it up.

There have been cases in which people have made up a completely new persona for online dating – sometimes of the opposite sex! A recent case involved an anonymous woman posing as a man who managed to fool three women at once.


Avoiding Stalkers

There are a lot of lovely people online, but unfortunately, just like in real life, some can turn out to be a pest. Cyber stalking is always a possibility when you’re dating online, so keep your personal details private until you know someone better, and stay on your guard. Another tip is to Google your name to find out whether there’s any information online that could be used by a stranger to identify you and track you down.

If you’ve decided you don’t want to be in touch with someone anymore, and they won’t take no for an answer, report them to the dating site and block their emails and IMs. If they persist, try contacting their Internet Service Provider (ISP) – you can find the domain from their email address. If there is any suggestion that you might be in danger, report them to the police.


Be Sexually Responsible

Inevitably, some online dating is going to lead to a sexual relationship. This is not the time to start being coy. Know your partners’ sexual background by asking direct, frank questions about the number of partners he or she has been with, whether protection was always used, how well they knew the people (was it mostly serious relationships or just one night flings?), and whether they have any known sexually transmitted diseases. Yes, it’s not easy to talk about these sorts of things, but it’s important to do so before your first night in bed. When in doubt, definitely use a condom.


Long-Distance Dating

If you’ve made the decision to date long-distance, make a note of it in your profile. Since travel is usually expensive for most people, be realistic about your ability to see the other person. Ensure you feel completely comfortable with the other person before making your first trip to see them. If possible, make all of your travel plans yourself and arrange to stay at a hotel. Get a rental car if you need to get around town with your date. Avoid making dates at your hotel’s restaurant or having your match meet you at your hotel. Only after you’ve met and feel completely comfortable should you share such information with the other person. While some of this may seem a bit silly at first, you need to protect yourself until you are certain the other person is legitimate and you are comfortable with them.


 Be prepared to pay

There are some well-established free dating sites such as Zoosk, Match and Plenty of Fish, but although the sites themselves are reputable, some of the users might not be so trustworthy. You’re less likely to meet a scammer or a time-waster if you’re prepared to fork out a membership fee. If members have to use a debit or credit card to sign up, they are also traceable, which may deter less genuine people from joining.

Many dating sites have free weekends and offers designed to tempt you to join. You’ll get a limited membership and normally have to give the company your credit card details upfront. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as you know that after the free trial is up, your credit card will be charged. This also happens automatically at the end of your initial membership period, unless you stop it in advance.

If you’re not happy with the site, make sure that you cancel your membership before the next set of fees is due or you could be charged for a service you don’t want.

AND SO . . . . .

As the old saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Don’t pin all of your hopes on one person, until you’re sure your feelings are returned. Keep an open mind, an open heart, and most of all, your common sense.


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Selecting the right rabbit hutch will help ensure your pet rabbit is happy and healthy. Rabbits are active, intelligent, social animals; they have complex welfare needs that must be met if they are to be happy and healthy. Providing housing that meets rabbits’ complex environmental and behavioural needs is an important part of responsible ownership. Your rabbit will spend a lot of time in their hutch so it must be comfortable and spacious. You have a legal obligation too. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, rabbit owners are required by law to meet their rabbits’ welfare needs; these include providing a suitable environment.

 First principles in rabbit housing

As an absolute minimum, each of your rabbits should be able to perform the following behaviours within the enclosure and shelter at any time they choose:

1. Stand up on their hind legs without their ears touching the roof [For a medium sized rabbit this behaviour requires a height of at least 75cm].

2. Lie fully outstretched in any direction.

3. Take an unhindered sequence of consecutive hops

4. Turn around unimpeded.

Check that your rabbits, when fully grown, will be able to perform these four behaviours within each section of their housing (both the main shelter and the living enclosure) as an absolute minimum. The RSPCA does not recommend that owners of baby rabbits buy ‘starter homes’ for their pets, but would encourage owners to buy or build a home that will be large enough to house all their rabbits for the whole of their lives.

 How big is big enough?

Most rabbits live in hutches that are too small for them and most of these smaller hutches were bought in pet shops. The result is that some pet rabbits are in worse conditions than laboratory rabbits (Mullan & Main 2006).

In small hutches, rabbits suffer from loneliness, lack of exercise, and sometimes chronic arthritis pain if they spent long hours immobile for lack of space. They may also start developing bad habits such as repetitive hair chewing, head swaying and pawing because they have nothing else to do (Gunn & Morton 1995).

Think BIG when buying your rabbit’s home. Buy the biggest in stock or better still order an even bigger one. Don’t be tempted to buy a cheap rabbit hutch, they probably won’t be the right size or quality!

Your rabbit or rabbits should have plenty of room in their hutch. A hutch for one or two medium or small rabbits should be no less that 180cm wide x 60cm high and 60cm deep. Larger rabbits will need a bigger sized hutch. One or two large-sized rabbits will need a bigger hutch about 180cm wide by 90cm high by 90cm deep.

Exercise run

A rabbit needs a sleeping compartment, and an eating area. As well as this, there should be an exercise run. The bigger the breed, the bigger the house and run. Giant breeds need giant houses. Wendy houses, garden sheds, aviaries, summer houses, dog kennels with runs, or even chicken houses with runs offer more room than the traditional hutch. A walk-in rabbit house will make cleaning easy.

A shameful 18% of UK rabbits don’t have anywhere to exercise (PDSA 2013). So in addition to a hutch your rabbit will need a run. Too many rabbits are given runs that are just too tiny for good welfare (Mullan & Main 2006). Many of these have wire mesh floors which are known to create foot problems for rabbits kept on them for extended periods of time (De Jong et al.,2008). Ideally the run should be attached to the hutch if the rabbit is living outside. If not, then the rabbit should be put in the run for several hours every single day and there should be an area within the run sheltered from sun, or rain, or wind.

 What should it be made of?

We would recommend choosing a rabbit hutch that is made of a timber frame with boarding in between. To stop your rabbits nibbling and gnawing at the timber, the interior can be lined which is also great for insulation. The outside of the hutch should be protected with paint or safe varnish. The inside should not be painted in case it’s unsafe for the rabbits.

 Easy access is important

Easy access to the inside of the rabbit hutch is important. You should always choose a rabbit hutch with doors to both the ‘day’ compartment and ‘sleeping’ compartment. Always double check that the hinges and/or catches are good quality and fitted well!

You should also consider the height when choosing a rabbit hutch. Your rabbit hutch should be raised on legs ideally to about the height of a normal table. This will make accessing the hutch easier and make rising damp less likely.

 Multi-level rabbit hutches

Choosing a rabbit hutch with more than one level can be a good idea as they offer more space. This is especially handy if you are keeping more than one rabbit in the same hutch. Rabbits are social animals and normally prefer to be with another friendly rabbit. The RSPCA recommends that rabbits are kept with at least one other friendly rabbit in compatible pairs or groups. Whilst there are exceptions where an individual rabbit must be housed alone this should only be for a good welfare reason, as advised by an expert, such as a vet or qualified animal behaviourist. When choosing housing for your rabbits, bear in mind the number of rabbits it is intended for. The more rabbits kept, the larger their housing will need to be as they will need space both to interact with one another, and be alone for a while if they choose.

Many multi-level rabbit hutches will have a ramp allowing your little bunnies to flop up and downstairs at their leisure. These ramps can also be used in front of the hutch door to let them stroll down into their own enclosure when they choose.

 Providing safe hiding places

Rabbits are prey animals and therefore need safe hiding places within the living enclosure to allow them to hide, rest and withdraw from their companions when they want to. These hiding places should be in addition to the main shelter. Suitable hiding places can include cardboard boxes and tunnels.

 Protection from predators

Outside shelters should be raised above the ground to help deter predators and to prevent the shelter from becoming damp. Any wire mesh on the shelter or the outside living enclosure should be of a heavy gauge to prevent potential predation and deter rodents, and any fastenings should be strong.

 What should you put on the floor of the hutch?

A deep layer of soft barley straw is the warmest most comfortable bedding for an outside hutch. Rabbits prefer straw or paper bedding to wood shavings or sawdust on the floor (Turner et al.,1992,cited in Boers et al., 2012). However you could put wooden shavings (not bark chippings) below the straw,  particularly in the latrine area (if you are not going to litter train your rabbit) or special rabbit litter. Indoor house rabbits don’t need such a large amount of straw and some people just put a fleece in their sleeping area.

 Does a house rabbit need a hutch?

An indoor house rabbit needs a secure den where he can retreat for privacy and sleep. This must be lockable, so that the rabbit can be locked in at times for his own safety. Depending on the size of your rabbit, a crate sold for dogs might be the ideal. This must be big enough to contain a sleeping box, food bowl, hay rack, water bowl and litter tray. Crates are useful for taking in the car or on visits.  Plastic dog beds turned upside down make nice bunny retreats in rooms away from the bunny’s den.

Choosing the right rabbit hutch is important for your rabbit’s health, happiness and wellbeing. By following this simple guide you should end up with a great rabbit home for your rabbit!


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