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Fetching--Good Fun!

Want a simple and fun game to play with your dog? Try fetch. As natural "chasers," most dogs love this game.

A Simple "How To"

1.   Choose an item that is easy to carry, safe to throw and canít be swallowed, such as a tennis ball. 
2.   Rub meat on the ball to spark your dogís interest. 
3.   Stand in one place, and as you throw the object a few feet, yell "fetch." 
4.   Throw the ball father as she catches on and understands what "fetch" means. 
5.   Now comes the hard part. Tell your dog to "come" and make him sit (while still holding the object). 
6.   Gently take the ball from his mouth as you say "drop it." 
7.   When she follows these steps, heap loads of praise on her. 

Some Words Of Advice

  •   Donít chase him - If you do, heíll only learn the fun of being chased by you. Stick to your guns, and your dog will soon realize that he has to give the object to you or the game will end. Once he knows that fun will follow, he should eagerly drop the object again and again.

  •   Teaching Puppies - Fetch can even be taught to puppies as young as ten weeks old. At this age, youíre better off rolling a ball only a few feet away, since puppies get easily diverted.

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Home Alone

If you own a dog, youíre one of at least 63 million Americans who share their lives with canines. However; most of these households are also empty during the day, leaving the family dog home alone.

Why does my dog act aggressive?
Dogs are not naturally solitary animals, so when theyíre left alone, they may exhibit annoying or destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging, or excessive barking. If she behaves this way when you leave the house, she has separation anxiety.

What can I do?

  1. Donít punish her. Animals associate punishment with what they are doing the instant it is administered. She will not understand that you are mad about her actions earlier in the day. 

  2. Change your behaviors or routine. To get your dog accustomed to your leaving, pick up your keys and walk towards the door; but donít leave the house. Do this several times until your dog no longer exhibits anxious behavior. 

  3. Leave the house for a few minutes at a time. Gradually increase these planned absences so that your dog never has a chance to show any separation anxiety. 

  4. When you return, greet your dog briefly (donít gush) and return to normal activities. This training may take some time, but itís a worthwhile effort. 

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Cat Games

Because cats donít run up with a ball in their mouth, many people assume that they donít want or need to be played with at all. On the contrary, cats need exercise and lots of mental stimulation. Without it, they can get bored, and the end result can be behavior problems.

Hunting Games
Cats like to chase things, because they are natural hunters. So why not invent games in which they can hunt imaginary prey will challenge and excite them?

The best toy to use is a fishing pole-type apparatus with feathers, streamers, or other toys attached with a string. Make sure the object does not have any loose items the cat can choke on. Mimic the movements of a bird or insect flying overhead or a small animal scurrying across the floor by moving it in short, jerky motions. Make sure you allow your cats to catch the "prey" now and again. Otherwise, they could lose interest in the game.

Play with your cats as often as you can for about ten minutes at a time, perhaps while youíre talking on the phone or watching TV. Youíll both enjoy this fun, silly time together; and it will help to create an inseparable bond between you and your feline friend.

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Every Dog Needs A Den

Why Use A Den?
Dogs are den animals. They need their own sanctuary that is just large enough for them to fit inside. They need a "home away from home" that they can go to when they are stressed. If you donít provide your dog with a "den" of her own, she may make do with whateverís around--a chair that just fits, the narrow place behind the couch, or the wedge of space between the bed and the wall.

Use of the Den
A crate is an indoor doghouse that is used for brief periods of time. Its primary function is to serve as a bed or den. It can also be an ideal tool to housetrain your pet or keep those canines who suffer from separation anxiety from destroying the house while you run a few errands. However, the dog is not suppose to live in the crate. Endless hours in the crate can lead to severe social and isolation problems for your dog--and he will no longer see the crate as a special retreat. When you are home, your dog needs to be out with you. In fact, the crate should be kept in the room where the family spends most of its time. That way, your dog can seek refuge from the hubbub of household activity, yet still feel like a part of the family.

Once your dog realizes that the crate is a sanctuary for him, and that no one can bother him while he is in his "den," he will begin to seek out the crate on his own. For more information on crate training, call your local shelter.

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The Litter Box Blues

Finding puddles around the house? Something may have happened to stop your cat from using her litter box. With a little detective work, you can find out why and correct it.

Steps to Correcting this Behavior

  1. Visit the Vet to be sure she is not ill. Urinary tract infections and other diseases can cause cats to quit using their boxes. 

  2. Watch her behavior 

  •   If she is urine marking her territory, it has nothing to do with the litter box itself. Whether male, female, spayed, neutered, or intact, any cat at any age can start spraying urine to "mark" their territory.

  •   Puddles just outside the litter box are not from spraying. The problem is more likely the box or its surroundings.  Your cat may no longer like where the litter box is located, how it feels, or she may have been scared while using it. Or it could be a combination of these things.

  1. To solve the problem 

  •   Change the type of litter

  •   Change the location of the box

  •   Change the litter more often

  •   Use a combination of all of the above

  •   Donít loose patience

If you follow these steps, you will eventually discover the right combination of things to get your feline friend feeling safe and comfortable again. And if you need advice, call your local shelter.

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Punishment Doesnít Work!

Your dog tips over the kitchen trash can whenever sheís left alone. You scold her when you get home, but she continues to dump the trash. Only now she cowers and has that "guilty" look when you arrive home. Well, she obviously knows sheís doing wrong, right? Wrong.

Animals Live in the Present
Dogs do not associate your anger with actions that he did earlier in the day. If you yell at him when he is excitedly greeting you, he will soon associate your anger with the greeting and not the unacceptable behavior.

Then Why Does She Look Guilty?
She doesnít know why you are angry. This is submissive behavior to show you she knows you are angry, but she doesnít understand why.

To Punish or Not to Punish
Punishment is such an impractical and sometimes damaging way of training your pets. For punishment to be effective, you have to catch your pet in the act every time she does it. And thatís not easy to do.

So, What Can I Do?

  1. Move the trash can, so your pet canít reach it; or put a lid on it, so he canít get into it. 

  2. If your cat is scratching your favorite couch, change the texture (if it is rough, put something smooth over it) or make it smell bad to your cat with muscle rubs or perfumes. Then put her scratching post next to the couch and reward her whenever she uses it. 

  3. If your cats are chewing your houseplants, coat the leaves with a bitter; pet-safe substance. Then give them their own plants to chew on, and reward them for eating those. 

Instead of stopping "bad" behaviors, start thinking about how to get your pet to do "good" behaviors, so you can reward her. If you need advice, call us.

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Last modified: August 21, 2012