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Kitty Home Alone

Vacation time is here and you can’t wait to take off. The good news is, you won’t feel as guilty about leaving because you’re the proud caregiver of a cat instead of a dog. Everyone knows how independent cats are. And although they need the same love, they certainly don’t need the same care as a dog.

Not true. Cats are indeed different. But consider, cats DO NOTICE when you’re not around. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, there are some things to consider.

Boarding Facilities
Cats are territorial. As a result, it’s more stressful for them to be placed in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar sights, sounds and scents. So, by placing them in a boarding facility, not only do they not see their parents, they have lost their territory. Consider an in-home pet sitter instead.

Litter Boxes
Litter boxes still need to be cleaned on a regular basis. If not, be prepared for negative results when you return home. They will most likely go outside the box to let you know that it needs to be cleaned. Not a pretty sight.

Stimulation
Cats need some kind of interaction and stimulation. You don’t always have to be present in order for your cat to have fun. Cat trees, paper bags that are open, ball toys and even a bed near a sunny window will give your cat plenty to do.

Routine
Your cat should not be left alone for more than 24 hours without having someone check on their well-being. A pet sitter will not only help with an unexpected illness or injury, he/she will keep your cat on a routine. They are creatures of habit. The pet sitter should check the food and water bowls and refill accordingly. The sitter should also administer any medications, scoop out the litter box and spend, at least, 15-30 minutes interacting with the cat or simply being present in the home.

Even if your cat isn’t the most affectionate creature, he or she will eventually realize you’re not home. By making certain that your cat’s needs are being met while you’re away, you’re actually limiting their anxiety making it easier for both of you when you are home. Like a dog, you are the source of their food and safety. You are their world.

What’s Your Cat’s Personality?

Cats come in all sizes and colors. But did you know they all fall under five primary personality types? See below which personality type your feline friend might fall under:

The Skittish Cat

These are anxious or highly strung cats. Typically, they dart away when visitors call and would rather run underground than face a situation they recognize. They cope with life by avoiding fearful situations. Only when they learn they’re safe, will they slowly retain their self-confidence. The key to working with these felines is to give them plenty of opportunity to hide by providing holes (cardboard boxes or paper bags work fine) throughout the house. Never force these cats to face their fears – this only traumatizes them.

The Outgoing Cat

Or “nosy” in some cases. Outgoing cats love to explore, investigate and generally get themselves into trouble by going where they shouldn’t. These cats need mental stimulation. If bored, they can resort to destructive behavior, such as scratching furniture or house soiling. They may even occupy themselves chasing fellow housemates. The answer is to provide them with plenty of toys and to actively play with them. Chasing a laser or a feather-on-a-string helps them vent energy and express natural behaviors.

The Dominant Cat

Unsavory as it is, the “bully” sums up a dominant cat. These cats are less tolerant of others and liable to hog resources, such as food bowls and litter boxes. They can make a multi-cat household a misery. If you have a dominant cat, provide more resources. Make sure your cat has her own food and water bowl, plus a litter box. Place these resources some distance apart from the rest of the household. This cat also needs regular play to take the edge off her energy levels.

The Spontaneous Cat

This isn’t about spontaneous party throwing so much as acting erratically. A spontaneous cat is known to react differently to the same situation on a different occasion. He hasn’t quite learned to cope with life and, when faced with uncertainty, runs first and asks questions later. He may also have to manage a mix of high energy and anxiety. To ease his erratic behavior, have set routines, such as feedings and playtime, so he knows when something is about to happen (which prepares him to behave more appropriately).

The Friendly Cat

This one needs little explanation. She’s the purry, head bunting, smush-against-your-shins type. These cats are usually well adjusted as a result of superb socialization when they were kittens. Friendly cats are everyone’s dream and are most likely to live in harmony in a multi-cat household. However, if your friendly cat changes character, be sure to see a vet. Many common conditions can induce irritability or pain that can change a cat’s personality

Preparing for your new Puppy!

puppies

So, you want to get a puppy. Congratulations! Puppies can bring you many hours of entertainment and joy. But don’t bring a puppy into the house without adequate preparation. The wise puppy owner will be fully prepared with supplies and equipment, the right service providers and a plan for house rules as well as regular routines.

One item you will need is a crate. Crate training is a great behavior management tool. Not only will a crate help you house train your puppy, it will assist you in teaching your puppy appropriate behavior when it’s in the house. Your goal is to teach the puppy to use the crate as his safe-haven. Crates should never be used as punishment or for warehousing a puppy.

Chances are that your puppy will have potty accidents. Dog-safe cleaning products are good to have around house while you are house training the puppy. I highly recommend purchasing an enzyme cleaner. They’re extremely good at eliminating the smell from the area that was soiled. Remember, dogs have a sense of smell that is up to 1000 times more powerful than our sense of smell. Whereas, you may not smell the post potty accident after you cleaned it up, the dog can smell it, and may try to go potty in the same area again. A good enzyme cleaner will take away the smell completely.

Don’t forget to get a collar and ID tag for your puppy, in case they get loose. Make sure you include your contact information on the ID tag allowing anyone who finds your puppy to help reunite the two of you. You might consider getting your puppy a microchip; something your veterinarian can provide.

You will also need a leash and harness to better control your puppy when you take them on short walks. Since your puppy is young, you don’t want to take them on long walks yet since they’re still growing and learning how to walk properly. Short 5-10 minute walks are long enough until they get older.

Puppies have a lot of energy, which means they will need toys. Toys are a great way for them to expend that energy and entertain themselves when you’re not available. Some toys are interactive, which can help you better bond with you puppy.

Since puppies are teething, they will put anything in their mouth. That means you will want to “puppy proof” your home to ensure they can’t get anything dangerous or valuable to eat.

One thing you will want to consider are dog care providers. These include a veterinarian, trainer and possibly a dog walker and/or pet sitter depending on whether or not you have the time during the day to care for your puppy.

Training and socialization are critical for puppies. Puppies need to be socialized with both people and other animals. This doesn’t mean being overly friendly to everyone and everything that crosses your paths. Some dogs are not well socialized, so you want to manage that carefully. Good socialization means getting used to having others around and how to properly interact.

Particularly in Nashville since it’s such an animal friendly city, it’s great to have a puppy. But know that puppies grow up to become adult dogs. If you’re properly prepared, you and your puppy will have a long wonderful life together for years to come.

 

The Chronicles of Beckett Blue and Jack Daniel

The Tennis Ball

As brother and sister, Beckett Blue and Jack Daniel couldn’t be more Gleeful Beckett with Jack and Balldifferent from each other. Jack, the oldest, is a 7-year-old Miniature Australian Sheppard who has an intense interest in tennis balls. Beckett, a youthful 5-month old French Brittany Spaniel, is a girly girl!  She likes to flit around and get into whatever suits her fancy on any given day. And like any girly girl, she changes her mind frequently. What delights her on Monday, may become extremely boring for her on Wednesday.

One of Beckett’s favorite past times is to tease Jack. It didn’t take her long to realize that Jack lives and dies by chasing and conquering the tennis ball!

And why not? Jack is no different from any dog in the world. All dogs were born to serve a purpose for mankind. Even dogs that are mix breed have dominant behaviors within their own personalities, that serves human owners in some way.

For instance, I own a mix breed Labrador. Labs fall under the sporting dogs group, which makes them perfect for hunting birds and small game. Other dogs might fall under the working group, which makes them suitable for therapy, herding or guarding, and so on. In total, the American Kennel Club recognizes 7 breed groups.

AlthouJack with two Ballsgh Jack technically falls under the “working group,” some might argue that the American Kennel Club should create a new group that would fit Jack’s more down-to-earth, unique personality. An appropriate name for the group might be, the “Tennis Ball Group.”

Jack is one those dogs that lives and dies by tennis balls. His entire purpose in life is to chase, and thereby, conquer the allusive tennis ball. (Chasing squirrels, birds, or other toys simply doesn’t it cut it for him.) If he fails to achieve what he considers, this remarkable feat, he feels as though he has failed to reach the pinnacle of his own personal success.

Beckett thinks that’s hilarious! She loves to watch Jack obsess over tennis balls. Unfortunately for Jack, Beckett is a lot faster, and a lot more athletic than Jack could ever hope to be. Beckett’s legs are three times the length of Jack’s and her stride is more than twice the length. She knows that her athletic abilities are superior to Jack’s. But she also knows that Jack’s dignity as the only male in the family, rests on the ability to “get the ball.”

So, when someone throws a tennis ball during play time, Jack and Beckett will chase it, but with a slight difference between the dogs. Jack runs with intensity. He’s determined to get to the ball first so he can claim it as his own. It’s imperative for Jack to prove to Beckett that he is the HE-MAN-DOG! And as a he-man-dog, he’s superior when it comes to tennis ball retrieval.Beckett Celebrating

Beckett really doesn’t care. She appears to skip towards the ball. That is, until she wants it. The fact is, she knows she can reach it before Jack. But she holds herself back allowing Jack to win the contest.

When Jack gets the ball, there’s a celebration between the two dogs. Beckett congratulates Jack on his wonderful achievement. She’ll even run around, jump with joy, letting anyone who’s watching know how wonderful she thinks Jack is.

But like any bonafide “girly girl,” sometimes Beckett feels it’s necessary to put Jack in his place; to remind him that she too, is important and can also retrieve tennis balls quickly and efficiently.

So, when Beckett decides Jack is behaving a little too uppity, she will display her athletic prowess and retrieve the ball to Jack’s dismay. Of course, that’s only the beginning of her fun. She will literally run circles around Jack holding the ball in her mouth. By then, Jack is totally outraged that this young ingénue has the gall to tease him to his face, running around with a tennis ball in her mouth.

He’ll look aroJack looking at Beckett with ball2und helplessly, almost asking what he should do? In the meantime, Beckett is completely entertained by Jack’s distress. The more he shows his aggravation, the more Beckett will dance around with glee, all the time securely keeping the ball in her mouth.

Recently, however, Jack has taken a more strategic approach. Rather than to fall under her spell and chase her, he has found that by behaving indifferently, Beckett will begin to lose interest.

That’s right. Jack realizes that Beckett is having fun at his expense. So rather than to chase her, bark at her and showing other signs of exasperation, he merely sits and wBeckett on her backaits.

At first, Beckett tests him to see if he’ll chase her. When he doesn’t move, she’ll approach him gingerly, disappointed that he’s no longer willing to play along with her game. The moment she lays down the ball, Jack will spring into action and grab it!

Oh, the joy! Jack now has the ball in his mouth! He has won! But Beckett has also won! She is so happy that Jack has achieved his objective. She celebrates along with her brother at his success by finally retrieving the ball.

It’s the happy ending to a happy story. It’s so good to be a dog in this wonderful household!

Chewie Update

I started working with Chewie when he was 9 weeks old. I fell in love with him the moment I met him. He’s friendly, inquisitive, stubborn and cute as can be! Even as a young puppy, he Chewie7immediately warmed up to humans. If he sees a stranger on the street, all he wants to do is to walk up to the person and greet him/her. He loves men, women, and children. He’s one of the most social dogs I know.

Now Chewie is approaching adulthood (he’s nearly 8 months). I’ve seen the subtle changes of adulthood creep in. He’s a lot more strategic in his thinking. (Yes, it’s possible for dogs to be strategic.) If he wants something, he’ll take the time to think about it first, then he’ll make his move.

He’s still stubborn. Trust me, if Chewie doesn’t want to take a walk, no amount of coaxing will change his mind. He hates the rain and cold. (He’s a true southerner.) And he hates being told to do something that he doesn’t want to do. But I’ve learned that with just a little patience, he ends up cooperating because what he really likes is to please you. He loves praise and he really loves affection!

His mommy, daddy and little brother are so lucky to have Chewie in their family. It’s all about the love. And this dog exudes it!

My Poop Eating Pooch!

I pet sit this beautiful little puppy client on a daily basis. She lives withTongue her older canine brother. In the last few days I noticed that the puppy started to eat the poop of his older, male sibling. They live in a very clean, ideal setting so I decided to do a little research to learn more about why dogs do it and how they can be broken of the behavior.

According to the AKC, coprophagia (the scientific name for dog poop eating) is relatively common. In a 2012 study that was presented at the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior annual conference, 16% of dogs are classified as “serious” stool eaters and 24% of dogs will eat feces at least once.

Apparently, eating fresh stools is an innate predisposition of ancestral dog mammals (canids) living in nature. The stool-eating dog is trying to protect other pack members from intestinal parasites present in feces that could occasionally be dropped in the den/rest area.

From a canine point of view, eating poop isn’t really all that bad. In fact, some dogs consider it haute cuisine. And why not? Dogs evolved as scavengers. They ate whatever they found on the ground or trash heap. According to behaviorist Steven R. Lindsay, “coprophagia may be one of several appetitive survival behaviors that have evolved to cope with the periodic adversity of starvation.” In other words, when you’re hungry, you can’t be picky.

Other facts to note:

  • Coprophagia is more common in multi-dog households.
  • Poop eaters are no harder to house train than other dogs.
  • Females are more likely to eat poop than males.
  • 92% of poop eaters like fresh poop.
  • 85% of poop eaters will not eat their own feces, only that of other dogs.
  • Greedy eaters tend to also be poop eaters.
  • Puppy poop eaters will most likely, grow out of the habit.

The best way to stop the problem is through training and environmental management methods including:

  • Keep the log’s living area clean (including yard, so there will be no poops for him to eat).
  • Cat owners should keep the litter box clean.
  • Supervise your dog on walks and pick up after him immediately.
  • Work on commands like “leave it” and “come.” Teach your dog to come to you for a food treat as soon as he has eliminated.

As they say, dogs will be dogs. They lick their private parts, drink from toilets and sometimes, eat their own poop. They seem to have no shame. And, that’s why we love them so much!

Online Pet Sitting Directories and Apps – Buyer Beware!

More and more pet-sitter directory websites and apps are cell phone dogcontinuing to grow in the market place. As tech companies, they are often backed by venture capitalists whose main objective is turn a quick profit. The last thing on their mind is the safety of your pet. Pet owners need to learn the difference between a local professional pet sitting, dog walking business and this high tech alternative.

Many of these companies have little to no requirements for pet sitters to list their services. They will accept listings from kids, college students and other non-professional sitters.

Often, the site does not differential between professional and non-professional sitters. A professional sitter is insured, bonded and certified. She or he offers the service on a full-time basis and is their primary source of revenue and income.

Pet sitter directory sites have varying limits to insurance coverage. Make sure you understand the fine print including its policies, how complaints and claims are handled and what actions may be considered violations of the site’s rules.

Before deciding to hire a pet sitter from an app or directory website, do your pet a favor and ask the right questions. Don’t base your decision on price alone. Remember, you get what you pay for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I don’t know about your household, but in mine I can almost dog turkey2guarantee my pets will be begging for food during Thanksgiving. Table scraps that consist of lean protein and fresh veggies are great. But also know about the hidden dangers in holiday fare.

Turkey is fine as long as you remove any excess skin or fat. White meat is preferable to dark and make certain there are no bones for them to choke on. Potatoes are also fine to give to your pets. But if your potatoes contain a boatload of cheese, sour cream, butter, onions or gravies, it’s best to refrain. Green beans are pretty healthy. If your pet likes them, feel free to share. Again, it’s better to give them the beans before you load them up with butter and salt.

Stay away from food, which contain ingredients like onions, garlic, leeks or scallions. Small, well-cooked portions can be okay, particularly if your pet is used to it. But ingesting these foods in large quantities can lead to toxic anemia.

Although some experts say that cranberry sauce is fine for pets, I’m reluctant to recommend it. Most cranberry sauce has a ton of sugar in it (unless you make it from scratch). If you do give your pets some cranberry sauce, it’s probably best to only give them a very small portion.

Anything with artificial sweeteners is an automatic no. Particularly, sweeteners containing Xylitol are poisonous to animals, and potentially deadly to dogs.

Stay away from Mac and Cheese. Plain macaroni is safe to give. It’s the cheese, milk and other ingredients that can cause your pets to have an upset stomach.

Chocolate is also off limits. Make sure you keep the chocolate far away so it’s not accidentally ingested.

And please, don’t give alcohol to your pets. It’s not funny and can be very harmful to their health.

Chewie!

Chewie is one of my newer puppy clients. To say Chewie is cute is Chewie5very much of an understatement. When I first met him, he was 9 weeks old. He’s now coming up on 12 weeks and he’s simply a beautiful English Bulldog.

Puppies are a lot like human babies. The first few months of a puppy’s life is all about learning. Not only is Chewie curious, but he’s extremely smart! Already he knows how to fetch and retrieve (mostly). He’s also pretty good at climbing stairs. He still has trouble going down the stairs because his little legs are still pretty small.Chewie4

I can’t say enough about this brawny little guy. His parents have found a gem in a puppy. He’s healthy with a sweet, gentle disposition. I’m sure the family is going to enjoy many happy years with this loving, beautiful dog!

Trick-or-Treat!!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. As a child, I used to dress Halloween1up as my favorite spooky character and trick-or-treat around the neighborhood with my best friends. As a grown-up, I’ve always loved seeing the neighborhood children come to my door all dressed up. I’m always amazed at how creative children are and how they are able to bring out the child in all of us.

Unfortunately, pets often find Halloween pretty scary. The things that make Halloween fun for people – noses, smells, lots of trick-or-treaters at the door – can often overwhelm many pets. And there are some elements of Halloween that can be particularly dangerous.

Steps to Take to Protect your Pets

  1. The safest thing anyone can do if you’re anticipating a busy night, is to put your pets in a quiet room where they will be safe from all the Halloween activity.
  2. Even if you’re just having friends over for a party, keep your pets away from the activities in their safe room. Masks and costumes change how people look and smell to a pet, so even familiar friends may become frightening.
  3. If you are planning on taking your kids out trick-or-treating, leave Fido at home. Dogs can easily become overly excited by the Halloween commotion. A bite or a lost dog will quickly end the evening’s fun.

Treats and Decorations

  1. Keep treats away from your pets. Place the treats in a high cabinet secured with a child-safety latch. Remember, many foods (such as chocolate, gum, xylitol) are hazardous.
  2. Supervise your children when giving them their treats to consume. You don’t want your child to give anything to your dog or cat that might be harmful to their health.
  3. Never leave your pets alone with Halloween decorations.
  4. Some decorations pose threats like lit candles. Other dangerous items might include rubber eyeballs (choking risk), glow sticks, fake blood (possible poisons), fake cobwebs (can choke or entangle pets) and strung lights.

Costumes

  1. There’s no question about it, pet costumes are cute. But in all honesty, most pets are happiest just wearing their own fur.
  2. If you do choose a costume, stay away from masks or anything that covers eyes and ears. You also want to stay away from anything that might tangle your pet’s legs.
  3. Remove anything that might be chewable that could choke your pet.
  4. Finally, if your pet appears uncomfortable, please take the costume off. Signs of discomfort include folded down ears, eyes rolling back or looking sideways, hunching over or a tucked tail.

Please bring your pets indoors before night falls. In particular, cats are always safest inside with you. (Some people have been known to harm cats on Halloween.) In case your pet escapes, make sure they’re wearing a tag with current IDs. Opening the door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters creates plenty of opportunities for escape. At least with proper ID, your pet has a chance to survive.

Halloween is definitely a fun time. Please take the added precautions to keep your pets safe from potential harm.