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Archive for April, 2011

Porch Potty Benefits The Elderly

Apr 29, 2011

The Porch Potty is the only self-cleaning canine grass litter box on the market. Available in different sizes for different breeds, it provides a clean grass area on the porch, patio, or even indoors. Not only is the Porch Potty ideal for apartment dwellers, it’s also great for elderly dog owners and canines.

If you’re an elderly person who cannot take your dog outside or if you have a senior citizen pooch that has difficulty walking long distances, the Porch Potty is the perfect solution. With the Porch Potty, there’s no need to head outside every time Fido has to go to the bathroom. There’s also no need to wake up early or go for a walk late at night.

photoThe Porch Potty comes with realistic, synthetic grass and a scented fire hydrant that will encourage your dog to use the box and give him something to aim at. The built-in drainage system includes a removable catch basin for indoors and a 14-ft. drain hose for outdoors.

Cleaning the Porch Potty is easy and hassle-free. For the Standard model, simply pour two gallons of water over the grass 2-4 times a week. This minimal routine is enough to keep the grass fresh and free of odors. The Premium model makes things even easier by offering a fully automated rinse and drain system that employs embedded sprinklers and an optional water timer.

Having the Porch Potty means not having to take your dog out several times a day and not having to spend hours cleaning up. Fido simply has to walk a few steps to the Porch Potty and relieve himself there whenever he pleases. The Porch Potty is the most convenient potty box for elderly owners and dogs.

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Over The Top Active?

Apr 27, 2011

Adult dogs that are noisy and hyperactive are that way because they are untrained and have been unintentionally encouraged to behave like that. Unfortunately, they’re also punished for being energetic and enthusiastic, which is unnecessary. Hyperactivity in your dog can be photocontrolled and channeled through proper outlets.

Helpful commands

Basic commands like sit and lie down are very effective solutions for almost all canine behavior problems. Instead of telling him, “No, no, no!” whenever he does something that annoys you, ask your dog to lie down, then praise and reward him for doing so. Lying down and misbehaving
are mutually exclusive; your pet cannot do both at the same time.

Instead of feeding your dog from a bowl, weigh out his kibble in the morning and use individual pieces as rewards and lures during plenty of five-second training breaks throughout the day. Practice in every room of your home, in the car (while stopped), and on walks. Pause every 25 yards and ask your puppy to perform a series of body positions, e.g. sit, down, sit, stand, down, stand. You’ll have a completely different dog in only a couple of days.

Reward and reinforce

Simple reward training strategies work wonders with uncontrollable canines. Hold a piece of kibble in your hand. Don’t give it to your dog; just stand perfectly still and watch what he does. He’ll most likely go through his entire range of behaviors, but eventually he will sit or lie down.
When he does, praise him and offer the kibble. Then take a huge step to “reactivate” your dog and stand still with another piece of kibble in your hand.

Repeat the process until your dog sits or lies down immediately after you take a step, and gradually increase the time delay before giving the kibble. Do this exercise room to room. When walking your pet, stand still every 25 yards and wait for him to sit or lie down, then praise him and continue walking. Soon your dog will be calmer and a lot more attentive.

To be fair to your pooch, make sure he has sufficient opportunity to let off steam in an acceptable manner. Enroll him in flyball or agility classes. Play fetch with Frisbees and tennis balls in the park. Have an official block of “crazy time” – train your dog to jump on cue or play tag with him around the house.

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Welcoming Spring With Your Pooch

Apr 25, 2011

photoAt last, spring has arrived! Depending on where you live, you’re either about to enjoy or already basking in sunshine and warmer weather. Aside from your annual spring cleaning tradition, now’s also the perfect time to get to work on your pooch’s spring checklist of activities to prepare him for the seasonal transition.

Bust those pests

If your dog is not on flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives all year round, the warmer weather is your cue to start administering them. Book an appointment with your vet to make sure your pet is free of heartworms, which is a prerequisite for a prescription. Additionally, check his entire body for ticks after coming in from outside so they can be spotted and removed right away.

Safety first

Put together a canine first aid kit or replenish your current one so it’s always ready for outdoor excursions. Also check with your vet to ensure your dog’s rabies vaccination is up to date. Furthermore, some spring flowers and plants are hazardous to pets, so read up on pet-toxic vegetation and pet-safe gardening.

Freshen up

Give your dog a thorough spring cleaning of his own. Schedule a trip to the groomer or set up a doggie spa at home. Try a different canine shampoo and conditioner, or get a new grooming tool to help remove any loose hairs. If you don’t have one yet, begin a grooming routine to keep your pet feeling and smelling great. Don’t forget to clean his ears, give him a good brushing, trim his nails, and keep his teeth spotless.

The same thing goes for your pet’s stuff. Since you’re already in cleaning mode, wash his bedding and toys, and repair or throw them away as needed. Go through his treats as well and discard those that have already expired.

Wardrobe update

Get your pooch a new colorful spring collar, as well as update any hard to read or incorrect information on his identification tags.

Take a trip

Prepare for a spring or early summer weekend break with your dog. With several dog-friendly accommodations and dog-friendly travel websites to help you plan your getaway, the choices are endless.

Try something new

Participate in fun activities you’ve never tried before, such as a training or agility class, hiking, or dock diving.

Give

Keep your local animal shelters in mind as you go about your spring cleaning routine. Set aside commonly requested items such as carriers, kennels, pet beds, towels, bedding and blankets, and cleaning supplies. To find out exactly what they need, give them a call.

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Open the Door and They Bolt? How To Work With Dogs That Run

Apr 22, 2011

photoSome canines are just born to run, and while their reasons for leaving are not always the same, there are two common themes. Dogs run away to either (a) reach a better location where something rewarding may occur or (b) escape from an actual or perceived danger.

Keep in mind that wolves, dogs’ living ancestors, roam for a living. For them, roaming is a natural behavior that involves exploring, discovering, scouting, and hunting. A wolf’s or wild dog’s home range usually covers several square miles. Additionally, nature has equipped them (and domestic canines) with a built-in navigation system that lets them create and store mental maps so they never get lost.

With these amazing skills, all they need is a good reason to leave and they’re gone. However, this can be a problem in the urban jungle. In our society, roaming dogs get into plenty of trouble and many of them end up in pounds. Wandering dogs are not happy dogs – if the cars and trucks don’t get them and they don’t bite or get bitten first, the animal control officer will eventually find them.

What then are some of the causes of roaming?

Boredom. Sometimes some dog owners go to work and leave their pet tied up or wandering in the yard because they’re worried the animal might ransack the house if left inside. An active, curious dog in a small backyard is a potential recipe for disaster as he is a natural candidate for escape.

Reproductive impulse. An intact male canine roams when he senses estrogen in the air. Why, though, would a neutered male or a female develop a desire to wander? That’s because sexual urges come from the brain, not the loins. Although castration eliminates testosterone in about eight hours, a neutered male is still a male. While castration reduces roaming in 90 percent of canines, there is the remaining 10 percent that behave as if nothing has changed.

Social reasons. Some dogs have secondary homes or dens just like wolves. Unless physically restrained, they will leave one home and go to the other every so often.

Predatory drive. This is another very strong, almost magnetic force that draws canines away from their home. Seeking and finding prey is one of their most powerful natural behaviors that come with intrinsic rewards. We may give our pets all the food they need, but it does not get rid of their drive to hunt.

Fear of thunderstorms. Some phobic dogs express their extreme displeasure by trying to run away from what troubles them. If such a dog starts to run and run, he will eventually learn that the storm dwindles. Therefore, running away during storms occurs more often as it apparently stops something bad from happening.

What can we do about roaming?

Make sure your dog is neutered. While it’s not a panacea, neutering is the best way to reduce the chances of roaming in an intact dog. In addition, unneutered, wandering canines just add to the already overwhelming number of unwanted puppies.

Surround your yard with a sturdy, solid fence to prevent your pet from escaping and neighboring dogs from visiting. Runs, ties, and electric fences are not recommended as they don’t keep other animals out and seem to boost territorial aggression in some dogs.

Make home as rewarding a place as possible. Put your dog on a long line and give him small meals frequently by the back door. Enrich his environment by providing him with some company while you’re away, plenty of daily aerobic exercise, and a sensible diet. Also see to it he has a meaningful job to do when you’re together.

For dogs that run away due to a phobia, it’s important to tackle the source of the fear through a specific behavior modification program.

Make sure your dog is properly identified with identification tags and collars, a microchip, or tattooing so he can be safely returned in case of an escape.

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Four-Legged Physical Fitness

Apr 20, 2011

photoIf you had intended to get fit and shed a few pounds this year, forget going to the gym or hiring a personal trainer. You’ve got your own motivating workout buddy at home – your dog! It’s likely that he’ll benefit from the exercise, too. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that 45 percent of canines are overweight or obese, and that extra weight can affect their health negatively. Proper exercise and diet will result in weight loss for both dogs and humans.

Why should you exercise with your dog? First of all, most canines are more than eager to spend time with their owner and outdoors. A study called People and Pets Exercising Together also found that dogs make great and reliable workout partners. And finally, the time you and your pet spend together will make your bond stronger.

Here are some ideas for getting fit with your canine companion. If either of you are new to exercising or stepping up the intensity and duration of your workouts, consult your doctor and/or vet first, and remember to move at your own pace!

Walk It Off

A study by the University of Missouri-Columbia revealed that walking your dog regularly can help you lose weight. Participants in the study began by walking 10 minutes a day, three days a week, and slowly worked their way up to 20 minutes a day, five days a week. Consistency is key here, as those who followed the program for 50 weeks lost an average of 14 pounds, while those who walked 26 weeks did not see any significant results.

Go Hiking

If your pooch loves his daily walks and going to the dog park, try hiking! He can explore the new surroundings while you take in the great outdoors and wide open spaces of national forests and local state parks. You can search for dog-friendly trails and parks online.

Work It Out

Did you know there are exercises that people and pets can do together? Instructions and videos are available on the Internet for workouts such as power walks, obstacle courses, squats, fetch races, and more.

Be Seen

For short winter days, bring along some nighttime canine gear and toys to stay safe and visible in the darkness.

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Sounds of the Season and Your Dog’s Fear

Apr 18, 2011

photoThunder claps and your dog immediately bolts to a dark corner or under the bed. Even if you have a so-called mean breed, he may turn into a scared little puppy whenever there is thunder.

Fear of thunder and other loud noises is actually common in pets. Fear, which is a natural reaction to a threatening situation, is designed to guard the animal from harm, while a phobia is a persistent, irrational, and extreme fear response. Both fears and phobias can develop in any breed regardless of age.

Generally, fears can either develop after a single frightening incident or gradually over time. They are reinforced if the stimulus is frequently present. Canines that are scared of loud noises often do not learn to tolerate those sounds. In fact, they usually become more fearful with each exposure, and the fear may grow to include other similar sounds. For example, a dog that was initially only afraid of thunder may eventually become scared of sonic booms, cars backfiring, or fireworks as well.

A fearful pet may seek human company, pace, freeze, tremble, pant, salivate, hide, bark at the noise, or attempt to escape. In severe cases, a dog may even injure himself trying to get away.

Diagnosis

It’s important to bring your pet to a veterinarian for a complete physical examination as it will rule out any medical conditions that may aggravate his fear as well as verify his health. You may also want to consult with a veterinary behaviorist.

Most of the time, diagnosis of noise or thunder phobia is obvious. However, if the noise happens when you are away, you may come home to discover destruction, inappropriate elimination, or your dog on the loose. In such cases, audio or video recordings can help you determine exactly what triggers the unwanted behavior.

Treatment

Treatment may be as simple as providing a safe hiding place for your dog, bringing him indoors, or turning on the radio, television, or fan for some white noise.

If your pet’s symptoms are more severe, a counter-conditioning and desensitization program may be useful. This involves replicating the fear-inducing noise via a recording and then exposing your dog to it at a low volume when he is relaxed. You can then increase the volume slowly, taking care not to scare him. A vet or behaviorist can help you design a suitable program.

Desensitization to thunder is tricky because other factors that are difficult to recreate are also present in an actual storm, such as darkening skies, changes in barometric pressure, and even certain odors. A real storm will usually precipitate the phobic reaction even after desensitization.

Your vet or behaviorist may also recommend medication to combat anxiety.

Home Care

If your dog’s fear is moderate and the noise does not occur frequently, simple methods may be sufficient. Try to anticipate your dog’s exposure to the noise and avoid them if possible. Talk to your pet in a light, happy tone that tells him the storm is not a big deal. Encourage him to find a quiet place to rest and wait out the storm.

Don’t try to reassure your dog with soothing words, petting, or extra attention as these can reinforce his fears and make the problem worse. Also keep in mind that canines are sensitive to people’s moods so he can be influenced by how you react to the noise. It is best to act cheerful and upbeat or to redirect your dog’s attention to another activity in order to distract him.

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Marking Your Pet

Apr 15, 2011

photoIdentification is an important aspect of pet ownership, whether you have a cat or a dog. Cities and states require it in order to reduce the number of strays on the streets.

There are several methods of pet identification, one of which is a municipal tag. You can purchase a municipal license tag from your city, and your pet will be assigned a number that is entered into a computer database. The advantage of a license tag, which is attached to a pet’s collar, is that when an animal goes astray, an animal control officer can check the tag number, look it up in the database, then notify the missing pet’s owners.

Pet identification tags are available in plastic and metal. You can choose the color and design just as you would with a collar. Most pet owners prefer reflective tags so the animal can still be seen in the dark. However, these tags sometimes fall off and get lost.

If you would like a more secure method, you can opt to have your pet’s identification information tattooed on one of the ears during the spay/neuter surgery. Tattoos are visible and more permanent, so there is no need to be concerned about tags or collars falling off. Tattoos fade though, so it may have to be retraced from time to time.

With today’s fast-paced technology, microchips have emerged as another means of pet identification. These chips can be embedded in the animal, implanted behind the ears. Each microchip contains all the data about your pet, similar to municipal license tags. The information is saved on a computer database, which an animal control officer can retrieve by scanning the animal’s body.

Pet identification is not just for aesthetics. Having some form of identification on your pet is crucial as it ensures you have a better chance of finding your pet should he get lost. By carrying out this simple but essential task, you can prevent the pain of losing a beloved pet. So if your cat or dog does not have any identification on him yet, what are you waiting for?

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April is National Pet Month

Apr 13, 2011

What?

photoDuring National Pet Month, thousands of people across the UK will be celebrating life with their pets, sharing information on responsible pet ownership, or holding events to raise money for their favorite charity.

Every year, the message of responsible pet ownership is conveyed by running the events under a central theme. For 2011, the theme is “Happiness is…time with your pet”.

Why?

The objectives of National Pet Month are to:

* Encourage responsible pet ownership
* Spread the word on the mutual benefits of living with pets
* Inform people about the role of pet care specialists
* Increase awareness of the significance of working and assistance companion animals

When?

This year, National Pet Month will be celebrated from April 2nd to May 2nd.

Who?

National Pet Month is a registered charity that brings together animal welfare groups, professional bodies, schools, pet businesses, youth organizations and pet lovers, with the common goal of improving the welfare of pets. Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), and Pet Care Trust (PCT) are the trustees.

How?

If you’re interested in holding an event for National Pet Month, you can visit www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk to register your event and get a free events pack.

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Hearing Loss and Your Dog

Apr 11, 2011

photoDogs can lose their hearing or even become completely deaf when they get older. You may start to notice that your once alert pet stops responding to the ring of the doorbell or seems to be ignoring you when you talk to him. To deal with his hearing loss, you will have to find other ways of communicating with your pooch. You will also have to take additional safety measures as he can easily miss dangers in his newly “quiet” world.

When you have a dog that’s hearing impaired, it becomes more important than ever to keep him on a leash whenever you go outside, as he may wander off and not be able to hear you when you call for him. Worse, he can wander into traffic and not be able to hear car noises or horns honking.

Hence, you will also need to find new ways of getting your dog’s attention. Sometimes a sharp sound such as clapping your hands works when you’re near him. Otherwise, you will have to get his attention either visually or by touching him. Your pet may be easily startled if you touch him, so it may be best to catch his attention visually first. Each dog is different, so you will have to figure out how yours reacts.

It’s a good idea to use hand commands that your pooch may already know. Or you can come up with some hand signals that work for you both. You will need hand commands for sit, come, lie down, and anything else you want your dog to do. Exactly what you do with your hands is up to you. Find the gestures that work for you, and be sure to use them consistently and praise your dog (a yummy treat or a good petting will do) whenever he responds correctly.

Remember to be gentle and understanding with your pet’s hearing loss. He is adapting to a new, silent world, and it’s certainly scary for him to suddenly notice someone at the door when he didn’t hear the doorbell or see you speaking but not hear your voice. Maintain a positive outlook when you communicate with your dog via hand commands and keep supporting him – you’ll find that your bond with each other will deepen even more.

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Emergency Evacuation Plan for your Pets

Apr 8, 2011

photoDuring emergencies, it’s important to not forget about the family members that are entirely dependent on you – your pets.

People are not always ready for emergency evacuations, and unfortunately this often means that pets get left behind. Be sure to include your pets in your family emergency plan. Here are some simple steps you can take right now to prepare for a possible crisis:

* Have an appropriate pet carrier on hand. It should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around inside. This is priority number one because owners are usually forced to leave their pets behind due to lack of suitable transport materials. You can purchase a basic and inexpensive carrier at a pet supply store or large retailer.

* Put together an emergency pet care kit. It should include: at least a three-day supply of food and water; food and water bowls; collars with ID tags and leashes; any medications your pets are on; medical records, which are required for admission into most emergency animal shelters; registration, adoption and vaccination documents; and familiar items such as treats, toys and bedding to relieve stress.

* Create a family emergency plan. Determine who in the family will assemble you and your pets’ belongings in the event of an evacuation and where you will go. It’s also a good idea to check if the emergency shelter or evacuation site you’re going to accepts pets. Otherwise, you might have to board your pets.

* Find a trusted caretaker who can look after your pets if needed. Additionally, designate a specific meeting point in case of an emergency.

* Stay informed and try to know as much as you can about the present emergency sites and warnings in your area.

For more information, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website and check out their booklet Saving the Whole Family, which can be downloaded for free. It discusses disaster preparedness for pet owners in greater detail.

Emergencies and evacuations – no one really wants to think about or actually encounter them, but it’s always best to be prepared. Remember, your pets are counting on you!

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