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! 

Everything you need to know about feeding wild birds

Feeding Wild Birds

Feeding wild birds is a good idea for a number of reasons; not least because the wild bird song in your garden is a lovely soundtrack! But, did you know, they eat a lot more than the nectar, suet and seeds you know. Wild birds also love to feast on spiders, snails, worms and other insects nesting in your garden, not to mention the natural food sources like weeds. That said, there are a few things to be aware of when feeding wild birds…

1. Things to avoid (types of foods) 
There are a lot of household foods stocked in our fridges and cupboards that birds love to nibble on, such as leftover (cooked) rice, boiled potatoes and soft fruits without any seeds eg bananas & berries. Other foods however such as milk, chocolate, fruit pits, seeds and avocado can be really dangerous to birds.

Milk, for example, can result in serious health problems when fed to birds. It’s also not uncommon for people to try feeding chocolate to birds as they assume they’ll find it just as delicious as we do, but chocolate can cause the birds to experience seizures, diarrhoea and, in some cases, it can be fatal.

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 (peanuts that are unsalted, fresh and sold for either human consumption or by a feed shop are fine, but they must be put in a wire mesh feeder to avoid choking.)

2. What you should feed wild birds
In addition to leftover foods from our kitchen cupboards (uncooked & unsalted bacon rind, porridge oats, cheese and sultanas), there are other foods stocked in pet stores, like Rooke’s, specifically for wild birds that they just love.

Fat balls & suet balls, mealworms & waxworms and grains & seeds (millet, sunflower & nyjer) are all favourites among wild birds and can be a great way to attract lots of visitors to your garden every day.

3. When you should feed wild birds
Not only do you need to consider what to feed wild birds, but it’s also worthwhile thinking about when to feed them. Food shortages can happen at any time of the year which is why all-year-round feeding is best. That said, winter feeding does tend to be the most beneficial as this is when most food shortages tend to occur.

Wild birds tend to roost at sunset so the earlier you put food out for them, the better.

By feeding birds all-year-round, you will give them the best possible chance of surviving food shortages, whenever they may happen. We have a range of wild bird food at Rooke’s which you can find out more about here.

4. How to feed them
Hanging up a seed or peanut feeder is the best way to attract a large number of birds to your garden. There are a lot of different sizes and types of feeders to choose from, commonly made from either plastic or metal. Some feeders have a cage around them to discourage larger birds and squirrels taking all the goods in one go.

You can get hopper-type feeders with flat surfaces (or trays) which are well suited to standard mixes, although any type of seed mix can be used.

Be sure that the feeder you choose drains well and remember to check for a build-up of unwanted, spoilt food as this can be a health risk to birds – which is the last thing you want!

5. Things to be aware of
It’s a good idea to feed birds little and often; it’s better to top up your bird feeder gradually rather than leaving lots of food out all of the time (it will stop the food from spoiling).

If possible, create a few different feeding sites in your garden as this will stop overcrowding and hot competition amongst the birds. When cleaning your feeder or bird table, be sure to use a mild disinfectant – nothing too strong.

If you want to learn more about what & when to feed wild birds, why not pop in store for a chat with one of our helpful members of staff? We have our very own range of Rooke’s branded bird food in store for you to browse.

When should you feed wild birds?

Feeding Wild Birds

We shouldn’t only think about what to feed wild birds, but when to feed them too. Is there an ideal time of year to feed wild birds? Should we avoid feeding them during any specific months, or is there a set time of day when its best to feed?

If you can, it’s definitely a good idea to put food and water out for the birds year-round. There is no denying that winter feeding is the most beneficial as this is when food shortages are most likely to occur. Nevertheless, if you feed birds throughout the entire year, you are going to give them a much better chance of surviving the tough times in the colder months.

Autumn and Winter

Rooke’s recommends putting out both water and food on a regular basis. As the weather gets darker and a lot colder, put food out twice a day if you can i.e. during the morning and in the early afternoon (as birds tend to roost at sunset).

You also need to consider the type of food you are going to put out during the winter. Birds demand foods that are high in energy at this time of year to maintain their fat reserves and to help them survive the frosty nights.

The quantity of food provided should be adjusted to suit the demand. Once a feeding routine is established, try not to alter it, as the wild birds in your location will become used to the schedule. Do not allow uneaten foods to gather around the feeder as this can cause health issues to the birds that do eat it.

Spring and Summer

When feeding birds during the summer months, they are going to need sources that are high in protein, especially while they are moulting.

Some of the foods that are good to feed on at this time of year include waxworms, mealworms, mild grated cheese, currants, raisins, soaked sultanas, pinhead oatmeal and black sunflower seeds.

Some people use soaked cat or dog food which is perfectly fine, but you do risk attracting cats, crows and magpies.

Avoid bread, fat and peanuts as these can be harmful if the adult birds feed them to their nestlings. You should also try to avoid homemade fat balls as they can go rancid and soft during the warmer weather.

Natural food shortages

Should a food shortage happen when birds have their young in their nest (breeding season is February – August), they could be tempted by the leftover food on the bird table. If so, this food will be fed to adult birds initially, but if the situation gets grave enough, they will also take the food to their nest for their young chicks.

This is why you need to make sure you are very careful about the food you provide. If the food available is not suitable for the young chicks, it can end up causing a lot more harm than good.

We have a range of wild bird food at Rooke’s which you can find out more about here.

Of course, give us a call or pop in store to see us if you need any advice on how to keep birds well-fed and safe.