Monthly Archives: January 2012

Household Items That Can Stress Out Your Cat Or Dog

Did you know that regular household items that we use every day or hear every day could be stressing out our furbabies?  Many things that we can block out, our pets can’t and thus, they must deal with it.  There are common things that we can do to stop them from stressing out, and changing our bad habits and ways so that we can learn to live peacefully together!

The first item that could be stressing out your furbabies is noise pollution.  You know, all that static background noise and such that we can tune out, our pets cannot.  Items such as florescent lightbulbs, tvs, video games, etc.  can really stress a cat out because they can hear about 1.6 octaves higher than humans.

Do you fight and raise your voice?  That can also really bother pets not only the sound, but they can feel the emotion and realize that something is wrong.  They cannot fix it and therefore they will feel stress.

The next item is intense odors.  These are things like disinfectants, scented litters, air fresheners, perfume.  A cat’s sense of smell is 14 times better than a human’s, and a dog’s sense of smell is said to be about 1000 to one million times better than our sense of smell.  Toning down our scents in the house and not using scented cat litter can help immensely.  Getting rid of the source of the smell is the first step.

The third item is visual overload.  Bright lights on the tv, or loud and lots of commotion tv.  In order for our pets (and even us) to get a restful sleep, it is wise to turn off our computers and tvs, have peace and quiet and a safe space for our pets to sleep so that they can relax and destress from their day.

Some people swear by playing soft, classical music for pets when they leave the house.  There are studies done that claim there is a huge benefit to animals who have this music on while alone.

There is a great article written by a vet about all the stress our pets face.  It is probably best to help our pets destress and feel safe, loved and happy.  I know I have changed many things that I do (such as scents and turning everything off at night, and leaving classical music on when no one is home).  I have noticed a difference in the two weeks since this was started.  Try it, it will be beneficial not only to your pets, but to you as well!

Weekly Trick – Crawl

This trick is great for beginners, both beginner dogs just learning tricks, and beginner humans teaching their dog a trick.

 

It is very simple.  Make sure that your dog knows the “down” command.  Some dogs don’t go into the down position easily, so your dog should know the command “sit” as well.

You should crouch down next to your dog with a treat.  Have a command word ready so that they can learn this trick, whether it’s “crawl” or “wiggle” or what have you.

Now wave the treat back and forth in front of the dog’s face slowly so that they can see it.  At the same time start moving backwards so that the dog has to come to you to get the treat.  Most of the time your dog will try to get up and walk over to the treat, but you want them to crawl, so use your command word to keep them crawling.  If the dog makes any movement, give them a treat and praise them profusely.

Keep on doing this for short intervals, until your dog starts to move forward on his/her stomach, thus crawling towards the treat.  Make sure to give a lot of praise.

Once your dog gets this trick, you can start to stand up and do the trick while you are standing up.  In order to perform the trick standing up, your dog should be able to do the trick easily, moving several feet at a time.  That’s it!

Here is a video of the trick in action.  It is NOT ME in the video.

 

Recipe Friday – Frozen Dog Treat

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s the middle of winter, why would I want to give my dog a frozen treat?!?  Well, when I give Sasha a frozen treat, it tends to last longer and she has to work at it to get it eaten.

Now, onto the recipe:

Ingredients: 
  • 2 ripe banana
  • 3 T. peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 24 oz. low fat vanilla yogurt
Instructions: 
Microwave the peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl until melted. Blend all of the ingredients together thoroughly, then freeze in ice cube trays or cupcake tins depending on the size of your dog. Once frozen, remove a treat from the tray and feed to your dog.  I prefer using an ice cube tray, as I think that cupcake or muffin tins are too much of a treat to feed (remember you want to give treats in moderation only).
Enjoy!

What Do Different Dog Barks Mean?

If you have a dog, we all have heard them bark from time to time.  Sometimes it is a long and loud incessant bark, other times a short, staccato type bark, and other times it is a longing low bark.  Do you know what each one means?

Dogs bark for various reasons, sometimes it’s because they are bored, other times they have been left outside alone for too long and want to be back in with their “pack” (or people).  Dogs are pack animals, they like the company of others for the most part.

Dogs sometimes bark because there is a stranger invading their territory (usually a lot of loud short barks and sometimes a showing of the teeth or growling).  Usually if it is a person invading the territory, they will back off lest they may be attacked.

A dog will also bark when they want to play.  Usually Sasha will bark more high pitched and short barks.  This also leads to her going down into a submissive bow and then she’s ready to go play!

Some people will train a dog to bark to signal when they need to go out to and do their business.

After a while, once you have had your dog for a while, you will figure out what their bark means.  Almost like when a child cries, you quickly will know and understand what your child is crying for.

In the mean time, here is an interactive quiz from NOVA to see if you understand what each bark means.  If you click on the link that says “LAUNCH INTERACTIVE” (right beside the picture of the dog growling), you can listen to the bark and then choose which bark you think it means.  Have fun and learn at the same time!

 

Housetraining a PUPPY

So you decided to add a puppy to your forever family?  Great!  Is he/she potty trained/housebroken?  No?  Well now is the time to teach them proper potty methods.

First and foremost, you will need to be CONSISTENT and PATIENT.  Puppy’s do their business wherever because that is what they do, it’s not something that they know that there is a place to do their business until YOU teach them where you want their business done.

Never ever slap, hit, or rub the puppy’s nose in his business if he goes inside.  There will be mistakes, as it is a huge learning process for any puppy.  In using physical punishment, you are teaching your puppy to be fearful of doing their business in front of you or doing their business at all.  That is not what you are trying to accomplish.

First make sure to choose a spot outside that you want your puppy to use, kind of like having their own toilet.

Have a command word ready when you want them to finish up, something like “Go Potty” or “Hurry up”.

Know that a puppy should be taken outside about six times a day to do their business.  They should be taken outside about 15 minutes after they finish eating.  Puppies do not need to be free fed, they need to have a schedule and you need to be consistent with that schedule.  Talk to your vet about a good feeding schedule and how much to feed.

Always praise profusely when your puppy goes outside.  Also, a puppy cannot physically hold its waste until morning, so you will have to take your puppy outside at least once a night so that they can eliminate.

If you are unable to commit to a schedule like this, perhaps a puppy is not the first choice of a pet.

Dogs are able to handle a different schedule and do not require being let out as often.

There is a great article here about how to successfully train a puppy and then how to teach them to ring a bell every time they need to go out to do their business.

Good luck, be patient and soon you will have a fully housebroken pup!

Black Dog Syndrome?!?

When we first adopted Sasha, the people at the shelter were very surprised that we would want to take on such a dog.  We were informed that black dogs are usually the last to be adopted and most people associate them with evil and meanness.  It couldn’t be further from the truth with Sasha.  She is extremely loving and sweet and quite a little character.

I went online recently and found a website called Black Pearl Dogs (Black Dog Syndrome).  I was horrified and astonished at just how big an…epidemic this really is.  Some shelters actually euthanizing black dogs (specifically black labs or lab mixes-which is what Sasha is) at an alarming rate.  Thankfully the shelter we adopted her from is a no kill shelter.  I fear for the lives of other black dogs in high kill shelters.

This kind of discrimination doesn’t stop at black dogs, black cats are also treated the same.  It is disheartening that people would be this closed minded about a dog or a cat, simply because of their coloring.

Please be advised if you do visit that website, clicking on some of the links will take you to some graphic and disturbing pictures, but please visit that site and see how you, one person, can change the way that black dogs are viewed in society.

Black dogs did not ask to be born the way that they are, they were just born, and they love, even people they probably shouldn’t.  Please take a chance on adopting a black dog or a black cat, they will change your life.

 

 

Weekly Trick – Back Up

Fairly easy trick, as long as your dog knows the command “down”.

You should also have a tennis ball handy and some treats your dog really loves.

First get your dog into the laying down position, while you are holding the ball and the treat.

Next, walk toward your dog a few steps at a time while saying “back.”  Make sure that your dog starts to move backwards a few steps.

Once your dog takes several steps back (it may look like he’s hopping backwards), give the dog the ball and the treat and make sure to praise your dog for doing such a good job.

Always be patient and keep being consistent in trying.  Your dog may get it right away, or it may take time. Don’t practice this trick for more than ten minutes at a time.

Another point to mention, it would probably be a good idea that your dog knows to bring the ball back to you in exchange for the treat.  Some dogs will take off with the ball and not come back, so that’s a point to think about.

Again, I have a video of the trick in motion.  It is NOT me in the video, but it will give you a better idea of what the trick should look like.

 

Recipe Friday – Breath Freshening Parfait

This yummy treat can be shared by dogs and their humans alike!

As always, if you have a small dog, make sure to make a much smaller size recipe for your pal.

Ingredients

  • 1 container (8 oz.) plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup granola (without raisins, since raisins are toxic to dogs)
  • 1/2 cup berries, such as raspberries and strawberries,  chopped
  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 pinch cinnamon

Directions

Place half the yogurt in a dog food bowl and sprinkle half the granola on top. Top with half the berries, banana and mint. Repeat. Top with the cinnamon.

Hope this helps freshen your doggie’s breath and will satisfy your sweet tooth as well as your dog’s sweet tooth!

 

Teaching Your Dog NOT To Jump

I’m sure we’ve all been there before – our wonderful little doggies are so excited to see us (or any company that comes over), they will jump up on you and scratch at your leg, beg for attention and jump some more.

This is undesired behavior and needs to be nipped in the bud.  There are several methods to stop this from occurring every time you come home or company pops over for a visit.

Method #1 Ignore 

If your dog is in front of you and they are getting ready to jump, the moment their feet leave the floor, turn your back on them.  Dogs crave attention and crave positive attention and when you are not paying attention to them, they start to figure out that if they do the bad behavior, they won’t get any praise or attention from you.

If the dog continues and starts to paw or scratch at your legs, or runs around in front of you to try to jump again, turn your back on them again.

Keep on doing this until the dog decides he/she is going to do a more desired behavior such as sitting.  Once the dog sits or does another desired behavior, praise them emphatically.

If this causes the dog to jump up and down, repeat turning your back on them until they resume the desired behavior and then praise them again.

Repeat until the dog is doing the behavior that you desire.

 

Method #2 Stop

Not my favorite choice, but it will work for some I suppose.

As your dog is jumping up, hold out your open hand palm facing down and push down on their face/nose and say “DOWN” as you gently push them to the floor/ground.  Dog’s noses are sensitive and will not like the pressure you put on it and if you are consistent and do it every time the dog jumps, it should be successful.

 

Method #3 Sit

Make sure your dog knows the “sit” command.  Whenever your dog goes to jump on you, tell him/her to sit.

If they continue to jump, turn your back on them and ignore them.

If the dog sits down, turn around and praise them highly.  If they start to jump again, repeat saying “sit” and if that does not work, turn your back, until they understand they will not get praise or attention until they sit.

 

Method #4 Leash

Not a favorite method of mine, but it will work for some, I suppose.

Take your dog outside, leashed.

If your dog starts to jump up on you, in a firm voice say “NO” (but not too harshly, the dog will wonder why you are so angry so quickly).

With your dog facing you, put the leash on the ground and step on it, so that the next time the dog jumps, he will only get a few inches off the ground.

If the dog does not jump, make sure to treat them and praise them.

 

As always it is very important to be patient with your dog and not to harm them or hurt them.  Give as much positive attention to them when they do something right.  Have some of their favorite treats handy to moderately treat them when they do something good.

 

What a Scare! Toxic Plants for Dogs and Cats

The other day my good friend bought me an Aloe plant.  It is a wonderful healing plant for almost any kind of ailment whether skin wise or internally (great for those with stomach issues, pancreatitis, ulcers, etc).  I have digestive issues and drink the aloe juice to help heal my stomach.

I had the plant for a few days, Isis kind of checked it out but I would always shoo her away from it.

Well one night while we were sleeping, someone chewed and left holes in the plant branches…ahem.

I didn’t think anything of it at first and then, Isis wasn’t acting like her usual self.  Then the vomiting started…all over the house.  Soon after came diarrhea, and a change in her urine.

The last straw was when she started to tremor, slightly. It was time to get to the vet, fast.

I then was told that Aloe can be very dangerous for cats.  I know many plants are toxic to cats but I had NO idea something that is so healing to humans can be so lethal to animals.  I felt absolutely horrible, like I was a horrible pet parent.  I cried and cried.

Isis had fluids pumped back into her and was kept at the vet’s for 24 hours to make sure she was back on the mend.

Luckily she made it through with flying colors and is a happy cat once again.  My vet gave me a link to the ASPCA page which tells you which plants are toxic to not only cats, but dogs and horses as well.

There are just so many out there to watch out for.  Please, if you have plants in your house, make sure your pets are not around something that could potentially kill them.

Some symptoms of a poisoning that are common among most cases are: vomiting, diarrhea, listlessness, depression, change in urine.  If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, you can call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.  There may be a $65 charge for consultation.  Otherwise, call your emergency vet and get it checked out immediately.  Time is of the essence in these cases.

I have learned my lesson, I do not keep plants in my house just to be on the safe side.  I am not taking any chances.  My furbabies are like kids to me and I cannot take a chance of something horrible happening to either one.  I have forgiven myself for what happened with Isis, but I will never forget it.