Dog Walking – Hints, Tips and Advice

Dog,Waiting,For,Walk.,Labrador,Retriever,Standing,With,Leash,In

As the weather warms up, there is no better time to take your dog for an adventure in your local woodlands. Taking your dog for a walk always requires a little forethought, especially if it’s somewhere new. Take a look at our hints, tips and advice to help you when taking your furry friend for a walk.

Leads and collars

When choosing a lead for your dog, it’s easy to get confused over which one would work best. There are many leads and harnesses, especially for dogs who tend to pull.  If your dog struggles with self-control, avoid retractable leads as they won’t give effective control and can lead to dogs getting tangled, running up to other dogs or, even worse, into traffic.

When choosing a harness, go for a soft, comfortable fabric that’s easily adjustable and won’t hurt your dog or cause damage. If possible, look for one that has light reflectors for dark evenings or dusky walks. Visibility is one of the most important factors, especially if you are walking in poorly lit areas.

In terms of which collar to use, again, comfort is key. Ensure it’s not too loose on your dog’s neck. If it tends to slide, then it’s a good indicator that it’s too big. When deciding on which one to buy, check if you can place two fingers comfortably between the collar and your dogs’ neck – if you can, you are good to go.

Lead etiquette

If you are in a public area, it’s best to keep your dog on a lead. Ask permission if you would like your dog to socialise with other dogs. Not all dogs are friendly or appreciate the attention of other dogs. Some can become nervous and upset if they feel their space is being invaded.

Pick up after your pooch!

It goes without saying, but always pick up after your dog. You don’t want a fine! No one likes to happen upon, or even worse, walk in another dog’s mess so take care to always bring bags for picking it up. There are lots of biodegradable bags on the market, so there are plenty of environmentally friendly bags to choose from.

If it’s suitable, you can stick & flick when you are in a country environment. However, always be careful as doggy waste contains harmful organisms that can cause harm to other’s dogs or humans. If not picked up, it can also make its way to the water supply.

Safety

When on a dog walk, safety is of utmost importance for both you and your dog. Try to stick to footpaths where possible. Keep your dog on the opposite side of on-coming traffic to ensure their safety and to prevent accidents.

Avoid letting your dog drink from drinking muddy or stagnant water puddles as there is a risk of contracting leptospirosis risks. Instead, take a collapsible water bowl with you and a fresh water supply. Dogs can get dehydrated quickly, so always be prepared.

Watch out for snakes, such as adders in spring, especially in areas where they are known to hang out. The warmer temperatures mean they will start to look for mates. It’s also a good idea to have a dog first aid kit to hand for instances such as this. Accidents can happen so it’s always good to be prepared.

Watch the weather and look out for signs of stress. If the footpaths get hot, so do your dogs’ paws. Instead during hotter months, choose a walk in a wooded or country area if possible. If not, consider little boots for your dog to protect sensitive paws.

It is the law to Microchip your dog, but make sure their details are up to date. This is a safe way to make sure that your pet is identifiable should they wander off while off the lead. It is also a legal requirement for all dogs to wear an ID Tags with a phone number.  Should your dog decides to go on his own adventure, a quick call can get you reunited in no time.

After your walk

When you get home from your walk, always wash mud off, especially if you have been walking in woodland. Alabama Rot is a rare, but deadly illness which can cause skin, kidney damage and small blood clots. It is thought to be contracted in wet and muddy woodland areas and general advice is to ensure dogs are properly cleaned when they return home to avoid the risks.

Whether you are taking your dog on a long trek or a short walk, it is always wise to consider all aspects of safety both for you and your dog. Remember the basic good etiquette when walking ensuring you keep distance from other dogs, traffic while using the correct leads and collars.  Bring water and always clean up after your dog.  But most importantly, remember to have fun and enjoy your time out in the fresh air with your best friend!

And, as always, if you need help or guidance when choosing any pet products, some and see us in store.

 

 

 

Puppy Training – everything you need to know

Puppy Training – everything you need to knowWhether it’s praise, food or toys, Rookes Pet Products believes all training should be reward-lead.

We will cover all basic areas of Puppy Training, from basic obedience and manners to crate training, tricks and toilet habits.

Right now, your new puppy is susceptible to learning, but has a short attention span so it is important to keep training efforts brief but regular. Training your puppy is a great way to bond with your pet but will also create a strong foundation for a happy and safe dog. Most training is learnt through play and is enjoyable for both dog and owner but at what age should you teach your puppy new tricks?

8 weeks

Toilet Training – Hone in on your puppy’s way of showing he needs to relieve himself as soon as possible and immediately teach good toilet habits. Appearing anxious, sniffing the ground and circling are all ways your puppy could be telling you it’s time to pee. Take your puppy outside to the bathroom every 2 hours during the first few weeks.

Crate training – Creating a den for your puppy will allow them to feel safe and comforted both at home and when you travel with their crate. To start with, allow your puppy to explore the inside of the crate with you sat close by. Move on to feeding them in the crate, opening the door as soon as they have finished and gradually increase their time inside as the weeks go by.

10-12 weeks

Good Manners – Nobody wants a puppy that bites or jumps and now is the time to start putting a stop to any bad habits they are developing.  Nipping should immediately halt any games or attention. By drawing the puppy’s attention away from you and towards a chew toy they will quickly learn where they can and can’t gnaw.

Lead Walking – Walking to heel is the end goal but initially introducing your puppy to the collar is the best first step. With treats and encouragement the puppy will gradually warm to both the collar and leash, enjoying the association between the pleasure of walks and their lead.

First ‘Trick’ – 10-12 weeks old is a great time to teach the “sit” command. This simple instruction teaches manners and control. All tricks require patience and persistence but can be great fun for dog and owners.

How to: “Sit” 

With a treat in-between your fingers, slowly raise your hand from the top of your puppy’s nose above their head whilst commanding, “Sit.” Naturally, dogs will follow the direction of the treat, lower their bottoms and sit down. Reward your pet straight away.

How to: “STAY”

Ask your dog to “Sit.” Rather than immediately treating your puppy, follow up with a second command. Raising your hand, with the palm facing towards your pets face say, “Stay.” Reward your pet. Repeat the process whilst leaving longer in between the new “Stay” command and the reward.

Training is most successful before a puppy reaches 12 weeks old. At this age they develop a fear response so any training you can offer your puppy during the first few weeks will be beneficial.

Early socialisation and puppy training doesn’t just improve their manners; it’s a fun and rewarding way for you to spend quality time together and really helps strengthen your bond.  Most dogs love training – it’s a chance for them to challenge their brains, earn rewards and get lots of praise and attention!

 

 

7 things you need to know when getting a puppy

7 things you need to know when getting a puppy

You have picked out a name, selected the spot for the dog basket and worked out the best local dog-walking routes, but what else do you need to know when buying a puppy?

1 in 4 pandemic puppy buyers admit they could have ‘inadvertently bought from a puppy farm’, and a fifth don’t know whether their dog will always suit their lifestyle.

At Rookes Pet Products, we want to help you make an informed decision so let’s delve into some key areas a little further. 

1)   The right dog 

How have you chosen which type of dog is best for you? Different dogs lend themselves to different lifestyles, so it’s important to make sure their breed blends well with yours. Devote time to learn about different breeds. The Kennel Club encourages you to consider a dog’s size, specific needs, hereditary health issues, common health tests and where you can find suitable breeders. What about you as the owner? Are you allergic to long-haired dogs, want a dog to run with or can’t stand excessive vacuuming? With over 200 pedigree dog breeds to choose from it is important to consider the typical characteristics of that breed.

2)   Choose your breeder carefully

At Rookes, we believe that dogs which live healthy and happy lives tend to come from reputable and trusted breeders or trusted rescue centres. Known as “Lucy’s Law”, April 2020 saw new legislation in place ensuring that anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy under 6 months ‘must either deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehoming centre.’

Puppy farming is illegal. Backyard breeders work illicitly to breed and sell puppies for a profit without any consideration for the wellbeing or welfare of the dog. Pandemic Puppy purchases are on the rise and it is crucial to look out for signs of unscrupulous breeders. Your breeder should be as interested in your character as you are in your new potential pup. A decent breeder will not let their puppy leave any sooner than eight weeks old. By the time you take your puppy home, the veterinary records should show evidence of injections and worm tablets. Ask questions and expect answers whilst greeting the parents of the puppy and looking at the environment they are being raised in.

3)   Costs Considerations.

The Kennel Club recently found that costs relating to insurance, food and vet bills were a concern to 15% of new puppy owners, so what bills will you face? One-off and on-going costs for equipment, microchipping, worming, flea treatment, insurance, vet fees, training classes and of course food are to be expected. Puppies need to be fed little and often, but you can make sure you know everything about feeding your puppy here.

4)   Puppy Training

We have missed out on so many social occasions during the pandemic and so have our pets. Between the age of 3 and 12 weeks, puppies naturally feel confident and safe around people, so this is an ideal time for them to learn basic socialising skills before they become more cautious. On arriving at their new home, these social skills can be bettered as they continue to be receptive to learning new skills. Try to curb the excitement to play with the new puppy all day by remembering this simple Puppy Playtime calculation. ‘5 minutes of exercise per month of their age for the first 12 months.’ So at 12 weeks old, 15 minutes of exercise and training will prevent any damage to their growth plates that are yet to fuse and reduce the risk of injuries in later life. It’s not just about teaching your puppy to sit, socialise and walk well on a lead, we previously discussed potty training your puppy here.

5) Travelling with your Dog.

When it comes to thinking about travel, a secure option for your puppy will prevent you from being distracted and ensure your puppy is safe in transit. Crates and harnesses are both ideal travel systems and come in varied sizes to guarantee a suitable fit for your dog. Investing in your pup’s travel safety is imperative – and please always remember to deactivate the airbag if your pet is harnessed to a seat.

6) Pet Insurance

The vaccinations, worm tablets and health check-ups all add up and, although many vets have ‘fit clubs’ which enable you to spread the cost, you should think about pet insurance too – it could save you from a large unexpected vet bill. Covering costs of illnesses and accidents can be expensive, but paying a small monthly fee can mitigate these charges.

When buying a puppy we must always remember we are committing to a lifelong relationship with a dog. Dogs Trust UK, the largest dog welfare charity in the UK, predicts that over 40,000 dogs will need help or rehoming following the impact of Covid-19. Our four-legged friends can bring us such enjoyment but are a big responsibility.  It is important to remember a dog is for life, not just the pandemic.

 

How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

When it comes to looking after our canine friends, we all know that they need a good diet and plenty of exercise and love, but how do we care for their teeth? This article will talk you through the importance of looking after our dogs’ oral hygiene. 

How to take care of your dog's teeth

Dogs use their mouths for more than just eating; they use them for play, exploration, and tasting their surroundings. It is important that, as owners, we take the time to look after their teeth. Looking after our dog’s teeth properly helps to prevent dental issues such as plaque build-up, tartar, gum inflammation, or bad breath.

One of the most important things for dog owners is keeping their dogs healthy. However, many dog owners will tend to overlook the important area of dog health that is their oral hygiene.

What is Canine Periodontal Disease?

Canine Periodontal disease is something that can often go unnoticed by owners, as the first thing sign is bad breath. You may believe that dogs tend to have bad breath anyway, but a persistent bad breath in dogs shouldn’t be ignored.

Untreated periodontal disease may potentially cause some serious health issues in dogs. This includes tooth loss, painful abscesses and infections that could potentially cause heart disease and permanent jaw damage.

A dog owner can help to prevent this from happening by keeping their teeth clean.

Here are some tips to help you to do this.

Get Hold of Some Dog Chews and Treats

Regardless of what they get hold of, the act of chewing helps to maintain your dog’s oral health. The act of gnawing helps to scrape the plaque in the same way that brushing would. There are lots of different types of dog chews on the market made from either dried meat, bones, rubber, or nylon.

Some dog chews such as Purina Dentalife and Pedigree Dentastix are loved by dogs and their owners as they are delicious and convenient, as well as helping to promote good oral hygiene in dogs.

Regardless of what you choose, with so much choice on the market, you are all bound to find something your dog enjoys!

Brush their teeth

If you ever thought that dogs take good care of their oral hygiene alone, then the idea of brushing their teeth may seem a bit out of the ordinary. However just like us humans would do, brushing your dog’s teeth is an excellent way to help to prevent plaque buildup. You won’t need to brush them every day, although the more regularly you do it, the better.

At first, the act of brushing your dog’s teeth may seem like somewhat of a challenge, but you can train your dog to have their teeth brushed in the same way you would train them to have their claws clipped. Make sure you find a toothpaste that is suitable for dogs. Never use toothpaste formulated for humans, as the ingredients are toxic to dogs.

Dog toothpaste is also available in a range of flavours that they enjoy – such as peanut butter, chicken, or beef. There are also a range of toothbrushes that are suitable for dogs, depending on the size of your animal. Some can be worn on the tip of your finger, or larger, more manual toothbrushes. It may take some trial and error to establish which style of toothbrush is best for your dog, but it will be worth it.

Get them professionally cleaned

One of the best ways to ensure that your dog has optimal oral health is to take them in for professional cleaning at your vets.

During this dental procedure, your vet will remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and polish them. Following this, they will use a dental probe much like a dentist will use on human teeth to search for other potential tooth and gum issues.

Taking your pet for a professional tooth clean will allow the veterinarian to be able to check properly for any other potential issues in your dog’s mouth, as well as being able to advise you best how to take care of your pet’s teeth.

 

The Importance of Routine for your Dog

The importance of routine for your dogDogs, like us, are creatures of habit.  We might not be able to function without our daily coffee and, similarly, our pets might get stressed if they don’t go for a walk at a similar time each day.  A daily routine will give your dog a sense of structure, helping them to feel happy and confident.

Here are a few Rooke’s Recommendations for creating a routine and the benefits of sticking to it:

1. Set Meal Times

Providing a structure to mealtimes will help regulate your dog’s metabolism so they can consistently burn calories throughout the day.

Feeding your dog in the morning will boost their energy ready for a walk later on in the day, and feeding them again in the evening will enhance their nutrition after that period of exercise.

Maintaining a routine for their mealtimes helps you to ensure they don’t become too heavy and therefore at risk of diabetes, arthritis or other health-related complications.

In addition, feeding your dog at set times will prepare them for other activities that might pop up such as play time or visitors, and allows you to plan your day around them.

2.  Working to a Routine

Setting a schedule that aligns with your daily routine will help to keep your dog on the same cycle as you.

Letting them out first thing in the morning to go to the toilet and to have a quick leg stretch, before their breakfast, means there’s less chance of accidents.

Try to keep their breakfast at the same time each day, before following up with a walk.  This way, your dog will have another opportunity to do their business and burn off some energy before you go about your day.

Sticking to a routine should also free up some time for you to play with your dog – they’ll be happy, relaxed and ready for some ad-hoc playtime as they get to spend more time with their favourite human – you!

Ultimately regular meal times and exercise will help prevent your dog from getting bored, reducing the risk of bad behaviour as they’ll feel mentally stimulated and ready for a well-earned rest each night.

 3. Active Dogs are Happy Dogs

There are a lot of pros for regular exercise for dogs:

  • It keeps them mentally and physically engaged as they can stretch their legs in a different environment and find new smells and trails, so there’s less chance they can become overweight and lethargic
  • It can prevent health complications such as diabetes, arthritis, obesity and heart disease
  • Combined with a well-balanced diet, you can prolong their life with regular exercise and improve their overall quality of life
  • They’ll feel more relaxed and confident with a sense of structure
  • Burning excess energy can help prevent boredom which could result in poor behaviour

If you work during the day and feel your dog might be missing a walk then it may be a good idea to invest in a dog-walker.

Providing your dog with a routine to support a balanced diet and regular exercise will benefit their metabolism and help them feel engaged and stimulated as they display positive behaviour.

And don’t forget, matching your daily schedule with your dog’s routine allows you to spend some much-needed time with them for play, licks and fussing!

 

Lite Food Options for Dogs

Lite food options for dogsYou might think it’s not possible to love your pet too much. But if you’re finding that bestowing your dog with delicious treats is leaving them a little unfit and, dare we say, on the heavy side, then perhaps now is as good a time as any to consider changing their diet to a ‘lite’ option.

Keeping Your Dog Healthy

If your dog is overweight, you’ll notice their breathing becomes heavier as their stamina drops, and they’ll be a little slower out on walks than what they once were.

Switching their diet to a lite food option can help your dog lose weight and reduce the risk of potential weight-related health problems such as arthritis, diabetes or even heart disease – all the same health problems that plague us as humans.

If your dog has a well-balanced diet to suit their unique requirements, combined with regular exercise and interactive play, the more likely they are to having a longer and better quality of life with you.

Choosing A Lite Food Option

Dry dog food, otherwise known as ‘kibble,’ is a great food option for dog’s who need to lose some excess weight.

Specifically prepared lite foods from brands such as Seven Dog Food or Royal Canin offer healthy, lean diet options with a balanced, nutritional intake.  James Wellbeloved, Arden Grange and Autarky also have lite options tailored to the age and size of your pet.

It’s so important that dogs continue to receive the nutrients they need from their food especially while trying to shed a few pounds. Remember it’s weight they need to lose, not nutrients that support their overall wellbeing (we don’t want them feeling lethargic in any way).

As a guide, a dog should be fed 2 – 3% of its bodyweight each day; so your average sized medium dog at 12kg will need about 300g per meal.  Of course, this rule of thumb may alter slightly for dogs needing to lose a few pounds so we recommend seeking advice from your vet in the first instance (nor is this a set rule for puppies who generally require a much larger percentage of their overall bodyweight in food each day whilst they grow and develop).

It’s not all about the food…

Just like us, dogs need to amalgamate a balanced diet with exercise to ultimately lead a well-balanced life.

Making sudden changes to diet or exercise routines could cause some issues especially in older dogs such as stomach upset, difficulty breathing or a negative effect on their overall happiness.

Switching your dog’s food to a lite option, while gradually increasing the frequency and duration of walks, will help to ensure that your pet pooch can handle this lifestyle change without suffering any discomfort.

It’s also worthwhile investing in some interactive dog toys so your dog’s activity levels are boosted in a familiar environment and at their own pace.

Remember, all dog owners should seek advice from their vet before making a significant change to their pets’ diet and/or lifestyle – it’s for their benefit.

 

 

How to keep your dog active

How to keep your dog activeLike all pets, our dogs rely on us to keep them well fed, exercised and mentally stimulated to ultimately lead a well-balanced lifestyle.

Here are a few Rooke’s recommendations for keeping your dog active:

Exercise… it keeps ‘em happy!

An active dog is naturally happier and less likely to develop weight-related issues such as diabetes or joint issues.  Energising your dog, both mentally and physically, has numerous advantages for their wellbeing. A mentally engaged and well exercised dog is a calmer dog, less likely to get bored and act out.

Rooke’s recommends walking your dog at least once a day, every day of the week.  The breeding and fitness of your dog will depend on how long you should walk for (in general most dogs benefit from between 30 minutes to 2 hours of physical activity per day – which averages out to 3.5 to 14 hours of walking per week).  Depending on your lifestyle and daily routine, and the needs of your dog, you might find it easier to break that time up into 2 or 3 walks each day.

Taking your dog for regular walks is one of the best ways to keep them active (walkies anyone?).  Most canines are excited by the new smells and trails that come with a walk in the great outdoors, and it burns calories for dogs and owners alike.  Dogs can use up their excess energy resulting in better behaviour at home, while humans are more likely to stick to their exercise plans when they have a responsibility to their four-legged friend.  You and your dog can embark on a new-found fitness journey together!

Dog walking accessories

There is a wide range of dog walking accessories on the market today and it’s important they not only keep your dog entertained, but safe too.  If you’ve been thinking of introducing some new activities or products, why not consider the following:

  • Ball chucker’s – A hand-held device enabling you to throw a ball for your dog over longer distances.  These are great for more energetic dogs that need to stay outdoors for longer. But be sure to warm your dog up first as sending them running after a ball when they’re not ready could cause joint pain. Also avoid repeating this activity throughout the walk. Dogs can also suffer from repetitive strain injuries from this sort of chasing activity.
  • Headcollars – These are handy if your dog is stronger and harder to control on walks. The neck strap applies gentle pressure to the back of the neck rather than the throat, and the nose loop controls the head without discomfort.  The combined effect works in conjunction with your dog’s natural reflexes to produce a calming effect on excitable dogs and a subduing effect on dogs who are more commanding.  
  • High-vis – Light up dark evenings and keep you and your dog safe and seen with a high-vis coat, collar or lead.  LED lights are a good idea and really easy to use – just attach them to your dog’s collar.

Let’s play!

Dogs love interactive games like obstacle courses, fetch and tug of war. Whether you’re playing at home or in the park, why not introduce some toys?  Ambling along on a lead has limited calorie-burning potential compared to running after a ball, jumping or grappling with a toy. Toys help dogs achieve mental stimulation which they may not experience sitting at home or going for a walk in a familiar location.  Toys can also help your dog burn off any excess energy – perfect for helping them relax in the evening with you.

Combine daily walks with play and you and your canine companion will no doubt benefit from a well-balanced lifestyle.  Remember to always take your phone with you whenever you and your dog go out for a stroll and, if it’s dark, remember to take a torch and use an extendable lead rather than allowing your dog to run off into the dark.

 

3 Ways to Keep your Dog Happy and Healthy in the New Year

Dog and owner keeping fitDog owners tend to feel happier and healthier with their pet pooches around – why wouldn’t we with the endless walks in the fresh air, making fun out of a game of fetch and the belly rubbing evening rituals (for the dogs, obviously!)

Our four-legged friends help us feel more optimistic and less stressed, but how can we ensure our pets are just as happy, healthy and feel as much love from us as we do them?

Here’s 3 tips to help keep your dog happy and healthy this year:

1. A Balanced Diet

If you’re not sure what to feed your dog then fear not as we’ve reviewed the best foods for dogs from complete kibble to wet/tinned to raw and bone fed (BARF).

Your dog’s age, weight and overall health will affect what you should feed them, for example puppies will need feeding more often than older dogs, and larger breeds will need a lot more food than your average terrier.  But no matter what size, age or breed your dog is, it’s important they receive key nutrients every day.

-       Wet food is a hit with our furry friends as it’s often found to be tastier particularly in dogs with low jaw strength and sensitive stomachs.  Wet foods generally have a higher meat and moisture content which helps keep dogs hydrated, but it can be expensive and some cheaper products aren’t always as nutritional as they could be.

-       Dry dog food, otherwise known as kibble, is a great food type for most dogs.  It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours and is a little more friendly to your budget.  It does however contain lower quantities of meat and less water content than wet food, and it’s worth noting there is a different between complete dry food which is served on its own, and mixer kibble which should be served alongside another food such as a small portion of wet food.

-       Raw foods are increasing in popularity and considered to be a more natural choice for dogs.  Raw foods can be bought at pet stores (Rooke’s included) or made at home (but your Vet may recommend store-bought raw foods as they’re usually specifically made to contain the right nutrients based on the needs of your dog.

2. Staying Active 

The breeding of your dog will have a considerable influence on the frequency and intensity of exercise they need, for example golden retrievers are more physically active and tend to enjoy longer walks where smaller dogs like pugs and chihuahuas aren’t built for speed and might benefit from a slower-paced and shorter walk. Greyhounds on the other hand love short and fast bursts of exercise.  Regular walks will keep your dog active and occupied, preventing boredom and outbursts of poor behaviour.

Dogs also love to play!  Showing them attention and interacting with soft play toys encourages positive behaviour.  If you’re out of the house a lot, it might be worth investing in a dog walker or pet sitter so they get an extra bit of love and attention.

3. Routine, Routine, Routine 

Like us, dogs benefit from a routine; set feeding, walking and sleep times provide structure, helping prevent feelings of boredom and laziness.

Rooke’s recommends letting your dog out first thing in the morning for a leg stretch, then giving them their breakfast before taking them out for a walk before work or school.  In the evening take them for another walk if you can and then let them relax with you.

Your faithful friends are just like you in that they need good food, exercise and a routine to keep them happy and healthy. Remember to keep their water bowls topped up too – their hydration is just as important as yours.

How to feed the wild birds

How to feed the wild birds

It’s obvious to say, but winter and early spring are the most important times of the year to put food and water out for birds. At these times of year, natural food sources are in short supply and they need an extra helping hand.  As wild birds roost at sunset, the earlier you feed them the better. A bird can lose up to 10% of its body fat keeping warm on a cold winter’s night, so ensuring they have a good feed before bed can really make a difference. But what else can we do to help keep birds fed? 

 

Bird Tables 

Bird tables are really versatile. They suit many different species of wild birds and can be used for most types of food.

A straightforward tray will do the job suffice and you can opt for one with or without a roof (if you go without, then you must have a raised rim as this will help to keep the food on the table).

There should be small gaps at each corner of your bird table to help rainwater drain away (this also comes in handy for cleaning the table too as there may be droppings and unwanted, spoilt food).

There are a few bird tables on the market with quite elaborate designs, and whilst they look quite funky, you might want to stick to more of a traditional table as they are much (much!!) easier to clean.

Feeders 

There are many different types and sizes of feeders available, typically made from either plastic or metal. Feeders with cages around them will deter larger birds and squirrels, so keep that in mind when thinking about what wildlife creatures you want to see in your garden. When using a feeder for peanuts there are 2 things to keep in mind:

1) always use a rigid mesh style feeder (large pieces of nut will choke small birds, potentially killing them)

2) any peanuts you put out must be free from aflatoxin as this is poisonous to birds.

Choosing the Right Feeder 

1) Seed feeders – these are round, transparent and with lots of holes to help birds easily reach their food.  They’re designed for sunflower or mixed seeds and prove very popular with siskins, greenfinches and tits.

Niger on the other hand is a finer seed (popular with goldfinches and siskins) and needs to have a special type of seed feeder.

2) Peanut feeders – these are usually made of a steel mesh to prevent birds from biting off more than they can chew (literally!).

3) Hopper type feeders – these are trays or flat surfaces suited to cereal-type mixes of seeds (although any general seed mix can be used).  These feeders generally attract a similar range of birds as a bird table, but make sure it drains properly as you don’t want old food to build up.

4) Be creative and make your own – it’s easier than you think!  You could use half-coconuts (or something of a similar shape), hang it from a tree, bird table or bracket on the wall and sit back and relax as house sparrows, tits and greenfinches flock to your garden.

Peanuts and fat balls are often sold in mesh bags. It may be tempting to try and put out bird food in a mesh bag, however you should never do this as it could cause the bird’s feet to get trapped. Rather use appropriate feeders or simply place on a hard surface. Just make sure to change your fat balls in warmer months as the contents can go rancid if it gets too hot or is left out for too long.

What are the Alternatives?

If you don’t want to invest in a table or fancy hanging feeder, you can always scatter food on the ground. Birds such as thrushes and dunnocks prefer to feed from the floor.

You can scatter food directly on the lawn or use a ground feeding tray with its own hopper. Make sure you change the area where you scatter the food every few days and avoid putting out more food than needed as spoilt food can easily upset the stomach of a wild bird… or you could end up attracting rats!!

Wherever you feed and however you feed, do make sure that you consider predators. Bird tables or feeders too close to bushes could offer the perfect hiding place for a hunting cat for example. However, placing feeders near thorny or spikey plants – like Holly bushes could offer the perfect protection.

As always – if you need any help and advice, please feel free to pop in store. Not only do we have a fantastic selection of products at reasonable prices, we have a team of knowledgeable and friendly staff to boot! 

What to feed wild birds

What to feed wild birdsFeeding birds can be as rewarding for you as it is for them. By using feeding tables or hanging bird feeders you can bring flocks of birds to your garden, helping them get all the nutrients they need.

When the weather gets colder and the nights get darker (and longer!) we spend our time thinking about when we can exercise the dog, or when we can run the food out to the rabbit hutch. Or has the cat come back yet?  But quite often we forget about the wild birds – and they really need our help at this time of year.  Did you know they can lose up to 10% of their body weight in just one night trying to keep warm?

What should you feed wild birds?

If you want to attract birds to your garden then you will need to put down a mixture of different foods and, by regularly topping up your bird feeding, stations you can be sure to get lots of visitors every day.

Here are some ideas of tasty treats that wild birds can’t get enough of:

1. Fat balls or suet balls.

2. Mealworms or waxworms.

3. Grains & seeds (millet, oats, sunflower & niger)

4. Peanuts (make sure they’re unsalted, fresh and sold for human consumption or by a feed shop. To stop younger birds from choking you should put the peanuts in a wire mesh feeder.)

5. Cooked rice or pasta, boiled potatoes, uncooked & unsalted bacon rind, cheese, sultanas & raisins, pears, apples & other soft fruits (yes, really!)

Remember if you’re feeding wild birds, put out bowls of clean water too (they’re just as thirsty as they are hungry).

What do different breeds like to eat?

There are many different breeds of wild birds and you may find that your garden attracts lots of them at any one time, but the type of food you put out really can affect who comes to visit and who doesn’t.

Small seeds such as millet will attract dunnocks, finches, house sparrows and collared doves. Feeding niger seeds on the other hand will likely attract goldfinches, blue tits, siskins and great spotted woodpeckers.

Crushed peanuts are great for attracting robins, coal tits, and nuthatches (coal tits and nuthatches tend to hoard their nuts).

Believe it or not, but cooked rice can be a tasty treat to a range of wild birds, particularly during the winter months. Larger birds such as pheasants, doves, and pigeons will all eat uncooked rice, however this is not likely to attract any other types of bird.

Birds such as wrens, dunnocks and robins can eat fermented dairy products such as cheese, so putting out grated mild cheese is a good way of getting their attention.

Mealworms will attract blue tits, robins, and may even bring in pied wagtails.

What should you avoid feeding them?

Just like us, there are a few foods that birds either cannot or shouldn’t consume.  Any seed mixtures that contain beans, split peas, dried rice or lentils are only deemed suitable to larger species of wild birds.

Do not use salted or dry roasted peanuts as they contain a natural toxin called aflatoxin. And you should never give milk to birds either. They cannot digest it, giving them a serious stomach upset (it may even kill them).

How much does it cost? 

Birdseed and other foods such as suet balls are relatively inexpensive. Mealworms are a little more expensive so you may only want to use these as a treat.

At Rooke’s we’re proud to offer our very own range of wild bird food for various budgets:

  • Premium Grain Free Wild Bird Mix 2kg – £2.69
  • Sunflower Hearts 2kg - £3.49
  • Wild Bird Peanuts 2kg – £4.99
  • Premium Wild Bird Fat Balls (Tub of 50) – £5.99
  • Suet Block Value Pack 10pk – Mealworm & Insect – £7.99
  • Dried Mealworms 1.5kg – £24.99

Why not pop in to see us in store for advice on keeping the wild birds fed and watered?