Monday, November 29, 2010

A New Trick #1

In previous blogs I have covered how to teach your dog basic obedience such as 'sit', 'down' and 'stay'. In my New Trick series I will teach you how to teach your dog a new trick! (Yes, even if you have an old dog!)
Please make sure that your dog DOES know their BASIC commands before starting a trick!

Today's trick will be: SHAKE, PAW or Give Me Five!

It really doesn't matter which one you call it (I like give me five...) it only matters that you are consistent. So pick one and stick to it!

To teach this trick, place your dog in the 'sit' position. Hold out a treat in front of your dog with a closed hand. Let your dog sniff, smell and lick your hand but do not give up the treat. Eventually your dog should try using a paw to open your hand, when they do, open your hand and say your chosen command word. Then repeat.

If, like me, you do not have a dog that likes to use their paws, simply pick up a paw (gently please!) with one hand, say the command word, give them their treat with the other, and place the paw back. Repeat.

Once your dog has mastered this, use it sparingly and not always in the same order. (Sit, shake down...sit shake down...etc...) Do not reward a paw you haven't asked for.
Good luck and happy training!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving

It's that time of year again. When we spend money we don't have to eat a ton of food we don't need. We give thanks for our family and friends, and all the while our dogs are wondering: "What's with all the food, and strange people and why isn't there a plate for me?"
It is important to supervise both your dog and your house guests during this holiday. People mean well, but don't always put your dogs health or digestive tract first when offering you pooch a morsel or two.

Your dog should NOT have: Chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, bones or turkey skin. They can have sweet potato, pumpkin and turkey meat. IN MODERATION!

Keep that in mind and please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

First Time Parents 4

Welcome to the final instalment of First Time Parents!
I'd like to start this one out with a big word: Anthropomorphize. Do NOT Anthropomorphize your pet. This means do not attribute human feelings or characteristics to your pet. Your dog did not pee on your carpet because he hates you! (He just had to go!)

Always, always, always socialize your pet. Most behavior problems, including fear and aggression stem from under socialization.

Common toxins/poisons/hazards for dogs include:
Chicken Bones

Dog food is very bad for cats and both can be harmed by plants such as mistle toe, poinsettias and holly.
Make sure to keep your pet away from cords, garbage, medications and socks! (Dogs cannot process them!)

Dogs LOVE:
Sweet Potatoes
Beef Hot dog

Cats LOVE:
Cat nip

Developmental Stages:
0-2 years
Puppy/Kitten hood
Have patience and set rules now!

2-5 years
Sexual Maturity
Active and Healthy

5-9 years
Slowing down
May begin to see some medical issues

10 years and up
Slow down
Increased medical problems
Decrease in hearing and vision

(Indoor) Cats have a longer life expectancy than dogs. They can live 16-20 years. Dogs live between 8-15 years depending on size. (Small dogs tend to live a bit longer than large breed dogs.)

When the time is right your pet will most likely stop eating and drinking. They will be unable to get up, or use the rest room by themselves. It is important to have a good relationship with your vet to insure that they will be there when you need them the most. Some will even come to your home. Stay with your pet. Don't make them do it on their own! You owe it to them!
Afterward you can bury them or cremate them.

You can begin again when the time is right for you. Don't give up. It is selfish to say you don't want to put yourself through the heartache again. You can, they are worth it, and a homeless pet out there needs you!

Remember, all you need is patience, consistency and a sense of humor and you'll do fine!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

First Time Parents 3

Welcome to the third instalment of "First Time Parents!"
I'd like to start out by talking about grooming. Grooming needs will depend on what type or breed of pet you adopt. For example; Persian cats require much more grooming than a Domestic Short Hair Cat; an English Bulldog, more than a Labrador.

Your dog should be bathed about every 2-3 weeks. You do not want to bathe a dog too often as they need the oil their skin produces for a healthy coat. Cats bathe themselves, and dogs need their teeth brushed, but both cats and dogs require their ears cleaned and nails trimmed.

If you do not feel comfortable doing these things yourself, I recommend bringing in the help of a professional. In time you may feel more comfortable.

When clipping your dog or cats nails it is VERY important not to 'quick' them. Dogs and cats have a vein that runs through their nail, so we must be very careful not to cut it. It is very painful for the animal and it's almost impossible to stop the bleeding. (Get Quick-Stop.)
Do not use 'human' toothpaste on your pet. Buy pet specific paste and brush.
Ears should be cleaned with cotton balls and an ear cleaning solution.
Make sure you see your veterinarian at least once a year for yearly vaccinations and tests. Your dog should be on a heart worm preventative that they take once a month to prevent heart worm disease. (Cats can have this too.)
Also make sure that your pet is on appropriate flea prevention.
Cats will want to be on a hair ball preventative. Most actually like the taste, but if they don't just smear it on their paw and they will have to lick it off!

Get your new pet set up with some training. Decide how much or how little. Will you do your training in home or at a class? Make sure to get the whole family involved, be open to new ideas and know when to ask for professional help.
Make sure to train using only positive reinforcement. (See previous Blog on the subject.)

Come back next time for common household toxins/poisons and developmental stages in the final instalment of First Time Parents.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Time Parents 2

Welcome back! Let's get right into it!
I want to start out by talking about food. Choose a high quality food for your pet. Do NOT free feed dogs! This can lead to an over-weight dog, plus you are unable to properly monitor your dogs eating habits. Always provide your pet with constant access to water. Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Dogs and cats cannot decide to go to Burger King for lunch so there is really no excuse for having an obese animal.
Prevent food aggression in dogs by dropping handfuls of their food into the bowl a little at a time.

Exercise is super important! A tired dog is a happy dog and a sleeping dog or cat cannot get into mischief. Cats enjoy 'prey play'. Prey play is when you allow your cat to 'hunt' (chase a fake bird on a string) 'kill' (catch and shake the fake bird) and 'feast'. (Follow this activity with a high protein treat.

Most dogs love long walks. Some like runs, others like to chase a ball or a Frisbee. Some even like to hang from trees or pull heavy things. Find out what you dog likes and wants to do, or what your dog may have been bred to do, and focus their exercise towards those things.

Mental stimulation is also very important. When you leave your home, your pets can become quite bored. Kong toys are great distractions! Fill them with everything from peanut butter and baby food to cottage cheese and sweet potato!
Cats enjoy indoor gardens of wheat grass, and scratching posts.

Come back next time when we'll talk about grooming, vet care and more!