14 June 2016

Review dog bed Karlie Ortho Bed Oval

I have had this bed for three years now, I bought it online at Zooplus, and it was being advertised as a very comfortable dog bed specially designed for old dogs and those with arthritis or other disease of the joints. My dog Away does not suffer any of that but since the price was only slightly higher than other dog beds I decided to buy it.

The first impression of the Karlie Ortho Bed Oval Lying Matress quality was realy good, the non slippery rough textile material is strong and it comes with a soft cover that can, and should be removed in Summer. I removed it permanently because that type of cover for furry dogs living in mild climates is an overkill but if you have greyhound or other shivering dog breed he will love the soft warm white sheet.

The top cover is attached to the bottom with velcro, being white, it will quickly get filthy but it can be washed with little effort.

New Karlie Ortho Bed for dogs oval shaped
New Karlie Ortho Bed for dogs oval shaped
Another think I liked about the Karlie dog bed is that it seemed really comfortable and it has memory foam, however not the whole bed bottom is made of memory foam,only a portion from the top, the rest is a normal mattress.
Before buying you should watch out for the size of the bed, my dog Away is medium sized, and to sleep comfortable with no body parts hanging out of the bed he needs the large size of this model.
Inside foam Karlie Ortho Oval bed
Inside foam Karlie Ortho Oval bed
The oval shape is perfect for dogs rolling into a coil to sleep, the small bed fence gives dogs a little privacy and they feel more protected than a flat matress on the floor. Dogs like to have barriers around them when they sleep, it makes them feel safer.

The Karlie Ortho bed is also one of the easiest to clean I have come across, you can have everything in and out with just two zips, it will not take more than 5 minutes to put all together.
Destroyed Karlie Ortho dog bed
Destroyed Karlie Ortho dog bed
 There is only one mistake the designers made with the Karlie dog bed, as you can see from the picture, the tearing appart is not because of bad quality at all. It is from my dog scratching the bed with his claws, he started doing just a few days after giving him the bed (I protected it with a towel).

What I did not know at the time of adopting my dog is that dogs hate sleeping in flat surfaces, you might have seen your dog trying to scratch the floor of your dinning room before lying down, dogs like to sleep in surfaces that are rugged, soft but rugged, it helps them keep warm and safe.

Summing up, the bed is 99% perfect except that the surface is too flat and most likely your dog will end up scratching it like mine has done. This does not only apply to the Karlie bed, it applies to any dog bed.

If you don't want your dog to destroy his bed, place a towel or piece of cloth on top of the surface so that he feels he is sleeping somewhere jagged but without it being too harsh to sleep on.

20 February 2016

Review ForDogTrainers.es dog training equipment

I wanted to buy professional grade training equipment for my dog Away, biting equipment is not something you easily find in pet shops, I only found a couple of shops selling dog training equipment online in Spain.

I liked the material that what ForDogTrainers.es had in stock and prices were ok, I don't usually buy from online shops that do not list any an address or phone number in the contact page but after researching them I discovered that ForDogTrainers owns the domains ending in .fr, co.uk and .com, they ship bite suits, leather collars, leather harness, bite suits, muzzles and much more, all over the world, together with the fact that they accept Paypal, made me feel more at ease, and I took the plunge on them keeping in mind that I could fill in a claim with Paypal if something went wrong.

ForDogTrainers is ideal for those looking dog equipment to compete in IPO (Internationale Prüfungs-Ordnung) the International auditing rules for protection dogs, they also have agility and other dog sports equipment geared towards professionals.

To note that their online store is full of what spam words to attract SEO traffic, taking google by stupid and thinking that by adding some keywords there google will not notice that they don't make any sense and will send rank them higher, this makes navigation a bit harder for the user, they are also using keyword rich domain names like www.arneses-para-perros.es, www.equipo-para-aprender-perros-y-deporte-canino.es and www.bozales-caninos.es, all long and hard to remember domain names that confuse the buyer since you might not realize it is the same shop.

Dog bitting equipment from ForDogTrainet
Dog bitting equipment from ForDogTrainet
I spent a total of €163, going above the €100 threshold to get free shipping, when I made the payment Paypal displayed the name of the parent company, Perzov ADI Ltd, I searched for this name and I came across a wholesale dog training equipment page listing Perzov ADI as owned by Mr. Evgeny Perzov, with a warehouse in Israel, 20 employees and worth from 5 to 10 million of dollars, although another exports page gave a different number of employees and net worth, I guess it is approximate.

ForDogTrainer.es problems

Two days after placing the order ForDogTrainers contacts me by email and lets me know that he jute bite tug I ordered is only available in French linen at the moment and that if I want the jute version I will have to wait 5 days. I tell them that I will wait 5 days and get the jute tug as I am not in a hurry.

Sure enough, 5 days later I get a new email saying the parcel has been posted and I am given a tracking number, a few days later I get a letter from Spanish customs informing that a parcel from the Republic of Belarus is being held by them and that I must pay VAT and import taxes if I want it delivered. I straight away contact ForDogTrainer via email and let them know about the problem since the price I paid was supposed to be final, including all taxes, by the way, in their favour I will say that they have a ticketing system where all communications are recorded and you are given a URL where what is being done about the issue is tracked.

I receive a phone call from abroad at home and a Spanish speaking ForDogTrainer representative tells me that he is sorry about the situation, that ForDogTrainers.es made a mistake and the parcel should have been shipped from Israel and not Belarus and that if I pay the import taxes they will refund me everything afterwards. I refuse to do it because I know that import taxes are not cheap and I know Paypal will not cover me if I don't get a refund since the payment is not handled by them, then the guy at the other end tells me that he is only the translator and he will have to check with his boss what to do, in a few minutes he gets back to me and tells me that if I let them know how much the import taxes are they will pay me the fees in advance, it sounds reasonable so I accept.

I submit all the paperwork to customs, in Spain this can be done online using ADTPostales.com, proving your identity with your passport, sending an electronic receipt of screenshot of what you have bought, filling in a couple of forms saying what the parcel contains and sign a statement certifying its all true, scan the documents and upload them to ADTPostales. It takes a few days to review and they don't work weekends. Finally they give me the exact amount I have to pay to import the dog training equipment, I send a copy to ForDogTrainers and they send me the amount to my Paypal account, so far so good.

Two days later the postman delivers the goods at home, as I had suspected, I read in the label that the parcel had been declared to customs as a "gift". A well known trick that some merchants use to avoid paying any taxes at the border, none of my concerns if they want to cheat the tax man but you really have to be a smart ass to send a huge parcel from outside the EU and declare it as gift in the hope that nobody will notice and that x-raying the parcel will not arise the suspicion that newly minted half a dozen items are not really a gift.

Batura international parcel sent to the EU
Batura international parcel sent to the EU
 And by the way, when in doubt customs can also send the receiver a letter asking him to sign a statement certifying that the parcel is really a gift, if you lie, unlike a foreign company, you can be prosecuted for fraud. It is not wise trying to outsmart the system this way, the tax man is not that stupid, he knows what online shopping is.

Returning to the parcel, one of the items I ordered, an extra French Linen cover for the bite pillow was missing, nowhere to be found, I contact ForDogTrainers letting them know about this problem, to my surprise this time they do not reply to the ticket in under 24 hours like they have done in the past, this time the ticket remains silent for a few days without anybody saying anything until I update it warning that if nobody replies in the next 48 hours I will fill in a claim with Paypal, a few hours after the warning ForDogTrainer gives me a full refund for the missing bite pillow cover.

Summing my experience with ForDogTrainer.es, since they don't appear to have any warehouse in the European Union at the moment, it is highly likely that you could be charged custom duties, make sure that you pay with Paypal so that if anything goes wrong it will not be you paying for the consequences.

I loved the quality of their products, ForDogTrainer.es equipment is resistant and very well designed to do the job, my dog loves all of it too, he loves biting jute stuff, but until I know for sure that this company ships from inside the EU I would think about it twice before ordering again.

Import duties in Spain

Thanks to this experience I learned how much custom duties you pay for imports in Spain, from outside the EU, it currently stays this way:
  1. Anything valued under €22 does not pay any tax, not even VAT (Value-Added Tax).
  2. Parcels valued up to €150 pay VAT (21%).
  3. Parcels valued above €150 pay VAT(%21) plus import duties that depend on the product and country of origin. (I was charged 5% for dog training equipment)
  4. The Post Office always charges you €30 for processing your paperwork if you have to pay VAT.

26 December 2015

How to earn money dog sitting and what can go wrong

I am going to write about my experience sitting other people's dogs so that you can learn from it and not make the same mistakes.

Contrary to what it seems, dog sitting can be difficult and dangerous, it will not be easy money, that was my first mistake, thinking that a dog of whom I know nothing about is going to quickly adapt to a new home and a new owner.

I am currently registered with two websites offering services to dog owners in various European countries. Gudog.com and DogBuddy.com, they are both free to register with.

To set reasonable fees, I looked up on the website what my competitors charge around the area I live in and I priced myself slightly below. The most popular service has been dog sitting, I have not had a single dog walking demand.

If you are thinking about building your own website to cut the middle man, it will not work, you don't have the promotional means to attract traffic like big dog sitting platforms do and dog owners need the reassurance of an escrow service, you only get paid after the service, plus those platforms accept credit cards and Paypal.

My dog sitting has been all around Christmas Season and Summer, I have had to turn down customers because they all wanted to book the same dates and the rest of the year I went without a single booking. Money wise, you will not earn a full time living because it is a seasonal business, unless you get lucky and find a customer that travels a lot.

Dog black eye during dog fight
Dog black eye during dog fight
I have explained the beautiful theory, now I will tell you about the real deal...

 If somebody brings you a well behaved dog, it is very easy money, but if they bring you a dog that pees everywhere, feels anxious and bites your pillows or attacks your own dog, it is not worth it, and more often than not you will have misbehaved dogs.

Two days ago the dog I was sitting, a Great Dane, attacked Away, they had a stupid fight over who would get my attention. As you probably know, Great Danes are huge and strong, it does not take too much for him to kill another dog if he wants to, there can be no mistakes here.

My experience is that it is extremely hard to get a new dog and your own dog to get along well, the main problem is having your dog accept that somebody new is going to share the home with him and to get their energy levels right.

 My dog is quiet as a mouse but the other one is younger and he has lots of energy, that is a clash in motion there. If one of the dog becomes protective of the owner, the other wants to be top dog, they will not share toys or all the above, you are in deep trouble. It is difficult to match dogs characters and if they are the same gender even worse. It can be done, but not in the typical three or four days people normally book for, it needs more time.

This week I earned €100 looking after one dog, how much do you think I am going to have to spend taking my dog to the vet? What about the stress of knowing that a dog fight can break any time? What about the risk of getting bitten yourself breaking up a dog fight in between two big dogs inside a small flat? Price of broken furniture anybody?

Really, think about it very thoroughly before you dog sit at home.

You will also have to deal with time wasters, I had one person contacting me to ask for a discount to look after her dog for a SINGLE DAY, and another woman calling me to ask all kind of questions, which is perfectly fine, but after confirming the booking by phone then she decided at the last minute not to book

It all adds up, I value my time, that is like three hours wasted answering questions so that I can perhaps earn €50 for three days of work. And add the time you spend explaining new customers how to get to your home and basic rules. If the customer can't park near where you live, get ready to go and wait for them.

German shepherd dog with black eye after a fight
German shepherd dog with black eye after a fight
Now, I understand why many dog sitters refuse to have dogs overnight and they only work as daycare or dog walkers, those are safer options.

Perhaps you will get lucky, all I can tell is my experience of a full year of dog sitting and looking back, for the little money you earn, the risk you run and all of the problems you have, think about it, this is not easy money. My dog Away could have lost an eye in this fight and I am going to have to spend all I earned at the vet. It feels like working for nothing

 What I learned from this experience is that I will only have overnight dogs if I trust them, before accepting the booking of a big dog over the Internet, I will ask for a trial daycare at home before a full stay.

I can't risk again a situation like this, it is bad for me, for my dog and for the dog I am looking after, nobody wins. It pays not to get greedy and using your common sense, otherwise you lose. By the way, the pictures don't show the full extent of the injuries, I wiped out blood from Away's chin.

5 October 2015

Review Zoolove Jute Rope Ring dog toy from Zooplus

Zoolove is a new dog toy brand only available in Zooplus, the shop where I buy my dog's kibble, it has been made specially for them and they can not be found anywhere else. Not only the Zoolove dog toy range looked like decent and something that my dog might enjoy, they also give away 10% of the price to an animal charity so I decide to buy Away the Jute Rope Ring to play tug with him.

The first impression I got when I received the ring was that it was made of high quality rope, with a classy small brown label with the words "Zooplus" that was quickly ripped to tiny pieces by my dog.

I have had the jute rope for three months now and still going, in case you don't know, many professional dog training toys are made of jute too, it is a vegetable fibre made that can be spun into coarse strong threads and besides dogs loving it, I am witness of that, it will not damage your dog teeth.

Dog bitting jute rope ring
Dog bitting jute rope ring
I, and my dog Away, were very happy with this toy for the first month, I should say that my dog Away is not a strong biter, he hasn't got strong jaws like a Pitbull or Rotweiller and his tennis balls last him a year, well, the Zoolove Jute Rope Ring lasted him a month....
Jute rope ring toy for dogs from Zooplus
Jute rope ring toy for dogs from Zooplus
After a single month of playing with the ring, he undid it and made it into a a long rope, you can still use it to play games with him but it is not the same as having a ring that is easy to grab, the problem, is not the quality of the jute which remains strong after having been bitten often, the problem lies in how it has been put together, when the ring came apart I saw that sellotape had been used under the rope to keep it in shape.
My advice on this toy, it should last you for many years but don't expect it to keep a ring shape after a few weeks, no way that the shape will last, but, you can tie your own knots and still have fun with it.

Despite everything, I would still recommend this toy if you need a strong thick string, it is the first time I have a jute rope and it looks like the fibres can help cleaning my dog's teeth, I loved the coarse texture and high resistance.

Jute rope ring for dogs
Jute rope ring for dogs

21 September 2015

Review plant based pipettes for dogs Demavic Spot On

Being on a budget, I decided to buy Demavic pipettes for dogs from Zooplus for medium dogs purely based on price, the pipettes from this French company cost less than half price than the better known Advantix from Bayer. I did not read the composition of Demavic dog pipettes because I though I would not understand if the components are acceptable or not, it was when I had the pipettes home that I realised Demavic pipettes are plant based and contain botanical extracts that are supposed to keep fleas, ticks and mosquitoes away.

I have been using Demavic spot on pipettes for medium dogs 15-30kg the whole Summer and it has been an awful experience, not only my dog Away got infested with ticks, he has also been scratching and has irritated his skin forcing me to take him to the vet.

The thing is that I noticed that Away had ticks on him and instead of changing to a better pipette, since I had already bought Demavic, I decided to apply them again within the week, even though they were meant to last for a month, again, this did not work, the ticks never died.

Another side effect is that I have spend time and money washing all clothing at home so that there will be no ticks in my dog's bed or the sofa, or anywhere where Away could reinfect.
Demavic spot on dog pipettes
Demavic spot on dog pipettes

When I arrived at the vet he told me that in a way I was lucky that he could clearly see my dog Away was infested with ticks and that no further analysis would be required to learn the reason for the reddish irritated skin at the end of his tail, he could tell it was from the ticks causing that irritation and it was not dermatitis or any other skin disease requiring expensive analysis. I told my veterinarian the brand of dog pipettes I was using, he had to look them up on the Internet because he had never heard of them, the vet this in front of me and as when he saw in the ingredients that the pipettes were a plant based he told me they were rubbish.

The vet prescribed me an internal de-wormer called Drontal, and some fabulous external antiparasite tablets called "NexGuard", made by Merial. NexGuard tablets are very tasty for dogs, there is no need to force them to eat the tablet your dog will be happy to have it, within 30 minutes I observed all ticks starting to die, it is amazing how good that product is, the vet also prescribed me very expensive pipettes called "Stronghold" he said they were better than Advantix, but having had a past experience of vets trying to upsell me products so that I buy it from them and not from the Internet, I initially declined due to the extreme price of Stronghold dog pipettes, it was around €60 a packet of two or something like that. I tried to find this brand cheaper on the Internet and it has been impossible to do, it appears Stronghold only sells its products through vets.

It bugged me that this same veterinarian had recommended me Advantix pipettes in the past, which I bought over the Internet because they were cheaper than at his clinic, and he was now telling me that the only pipettes worthwhile to buy were the Stronghold brand, and very conveniently, the only place to buy this brand was at a clinic because they are not available over the Internet.

What is clear to me is that Demavic dog pipettes have proven to be very ineffective, I feel I have wasted the money and incurred extra charges in veterinarian fees plus all the trouble of having my dog Away infested with ticks, Demavic has turned out to be very expensive dog pipettes in the end, I will not make the same mistake again.

Antiparasite chewing tablets for dogs NexGard
Antiparasite chewing tablets for dogs NexGard
Since Demavic spot on pipettes are based on plant extracts, I will make sure that I never buy again pipettes based on the same ingredients.

I have returned to Advantix pipettes, double the price, but they work very well for me, not a single tick on my dog Away.

I have also noticed that Advantix dog pipettes come packaged hermetically with quality foil paper and contain more amount of product on each pipette than Demavic does, don't be fooled by tempting Demavic cheap prices, it will cost you dear. I have to say though, I use other Demavic products and they turned out to be fine, this is not a bad brand, just not for pipettes, as for the Stronghold pipettes, I have found very good reviews on the Internet about them but they are far from my price range and Advantix is fine, I have also heard good things of Frontline dog pipettes but never used them myself, they are on the same price range than Advantix.

19 September 2015

Rewarding my dog with Friskies Funtastix from Purina

The best way to train a dog to come when called, sit, stay or advanced agility games is by rewarding your best friend with his/her favourite wish when he obeys. A dog's favourite drive varies from dog to dog, police dogs for example, are rewarded with play time with a toy when they discover drugs.

If your dog doesn't care about toys, there is not much to worry about, there are two other strong drives for dogs, petting and food. My dog does not care too much about petting or toys, but food? he goes so crazy over it, so I am training him with treats on a budget.

Here goes a little trick to acquire cheap dog treats, chop them off in little pieces, in a dog's mind a treat is a reward regardless of size, if it tastes good, it is something that they want.
Friskies Funtastix dog treat cutted to pieces
Friskies Funtastix dog treat cutted to pieces
Purina, a Nestle brand, sells these packets called Friskies Funstatix, I always cut the long sticks in pieces so that instead of 12 treats I have 120 treats, I carry them with me in a small pouch and if my dog Away does well on the street I give him one reward, if he does very well, I give him two or three rewards (3 pieces of chopped Funstatix), this way a small pouch of Funstatix lasts me the whole month. I also use these treats to make bathing and brush time fun for my dog and keep his mind off anxiety or boredom during those activities.

The price is affordable but be warned that Friskies Funstatix treats smells very strong and this kinf od artificial bacon smell is passed onto your hand if you are in contact with the treats for a long time like it will happen if you use them daily.

Another tip I will give you is that, as you can imagine, human food is far better than dog food, my dog will do anything for real fried chicken pieces, that is the top reward he gets, the downside to this is that, besides price, freshly cooked chicken is a perishable product that has to be eaten within a few days and it is also oily, this is the main reason why I use dried dog treats instead of the real deal, as long as you don't mind Friskies Funstastix in your hands and pockets, it is fine but if you usually wear nice clothes, I would not use it, I think that the smell is an overkill.

23 August 2015

Protecting my dog's neck with Nayeco Double Thor spiked collar

I have had lots of incidents where ignorant dog owners put pressure on their dog's leash or shout at their dog or hit them all claiming that they do this to control them, when, of course, as anybody with dog experience will tell you, if you shout and hit your dog you will make him angry and he will bite the first dog or person that is around believing that is the reason why his owner is mistreating him.

I had my dog bitten by a huge peaceful pitbull, and I would like to stress that pitbulls are peaceful because it was the irresponsible owner shouting at him what made the pibull bolt and attack my dog.

There is very little you can do when another owner is ignorant and does not want to invest 5 minutes of his time researching the Internet about why his dog bites other dogs. I mentioned that the other dog was a Pit-bull, not because I believe the breed is any more dangerous than a Collie or an Akita, I mentioned it because pitbulls jaws are very strong and they can pull lots of weight, there is no way my German Shepherd mix stands a chance against that bread and without breaking the dog fight on time, serious injury or death is perfectly possible.

Stainless steel spiked dog collar
Stainless steel spiked dog collar
In case you have not experienced a real dog fight, know that dogs aim to bite the neck, that is the way to kill a prey quickly, there are major arteries on a dog's neck that make them easier to bleed to death than biting on their torso or legs. I am not willing to risk my dog's life again any more, to stop this I have bought two stainless steel spiked collars for my dog to protect his neck if another dog bites him.

I will be sorry for the other dog if he breaks his teeth of course, but it is his owner who is responsible, I can't just stand and do nothing when my dog is attacked by some moron shouting at his dog , besides, if nobody bites my dog on his neck first, I am sure nothing will happen, I see it as a defence, not offensive.

I found cheap spiked dog collars for sale in Amazon but the reviews were pretty bad, citing metal spikes falling off or rusting as the main problems. The best high quality real stainless steel spiked collar with double protection I found were for sale in TiendaAnimal, it wasn't cheap, I paid €60 for it, but, my calculation is that a veterinarian treating my dog after a dog fight would cost me far more, today I have seen the same collar in the same shop for €40 which makes me feel a bit silly having overpaid, but that is life.

I have had this collar, called Double Thor, made by Nayeco, a company based in Catalonia, for one year and the collar still looks like new after using it every single day, I am impressed with the quality. The only mistake I made with the shopping was the collar size, I should have bought a bigger one, the metallic plate on the collar shortens its length, the ideal Double Thor collar length for my 23kg dog, is the 55cm size instead of the 50cm I have, I am on the last notch if his neck gets bigger due to overfeeding I will not be able to adjust his collar any longer.

German Shepherd mixed breed wearing spiked collar
German Shepherd mixed breed wearing spiked collar
Away's neck protected from a mortal bite! :)

And a cheaper version of the same high quality dog collar, without the thin metal bar covering the spikes:

Spiked dog collar Nayeco
Spiked dog collar Nayeco