A cat’s emotional and physical well-being is determined by how well pet parents are meeting a cat’s needs. These needs are equally divided among social, eating, sleeping, grooming, and hunting. Cats are both predator and prey and are literally analyzing everything in terms of being safe or being in danger. This includes every time they interact with you or other people, hear a sound, see a movement, smell something different. They are doing this every second of every day. Knowing this, we can provide a safer and more enriching environment to keep our pets healthy and happy. Here are some tips to help:
Play should always mimic hunting styles and include all aspects of the hunt (eye, stalk, chase, pounce, kill) and engage a cat’s senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. There are a multitude of toy choices or activities that are satisfying. Some of my favorites are toys on a pole, wand toys, and laser lights (providing the cat gets the red dot in the end). Interactive play between a pet owner stimulates the brain, provides exercise, combats boredom, and strengthens your relationship. Plus, it’s what cats like to do. Keeping cats inside where they are safe while providing enrichment makes for a happy and healthy cat.
Feeding can be done with food puzzles and slow feeders. Ditch the bowl for something that encourages foraging and hunting. Move the food around the house at different locations so they can search. Where would your cat want to eat? Feed it there! If you have a multi-cat household, spreading the food around gives cats more personal space to eat. Some cat behaviorists believe that how we feed a cat is as important as what we feed them.
Cats sleep 12-16 hours a day. Heated cat beds, perches, boxes or containers, a carrier, quiet places, and a spot in the sun are wonderful accoutrements for a sleepy cat.
Grooming is super important and serves more purposes than you might imagine. It hides a cat’s scent from predators, cleans injuries, removes debris and parasites from fur, and disperses natural oils in the skin. Cats love to be washed and enjoy grooming their housemates as well. One thing we can do for them that they like is wash their whiskers and mouth with a warm washcloth. Cats, being social animals, would enjoy an indoor environment that engages all of the senses. Cats love window perches, vertical climbing spaces, wall shelves, sun beam chasing, catios, cat friendly-music, videos, cat plant grass, fish tanks, and companionship. You can even bring the outside in by gathering leaves and placing them in a box for your cat to explore.
Take a look around your home from your cat’s perspective and see what delights you can add to your cat’s world. Giving your cat ways to display their natural behaviors will help reduce stress and give them more choices. Happy Cat, Happy Home!
An ah-ha moment with my reactive dog, Davy, that led to my new signature offer – Reactive Dog Training. People with reactive dogs have few resources to turn to for help – until now. I saw the need and decided to fill the gap for this small community of pet owners.
Reactive dogs can’t handle being in a class, are turned away from doggie day care, and are difficult to walk around the neighborhood. In fact, pet owners of reactive dogs find themselves doing little of the activities they planned to do with their pup. They avoid walking them, stop inviting visitors over, and grieve for the dog they wanted. I know these feeling as I have gone through this with my own dog – Davy.
I made it my quest to help Davy after he was asked not to return to Canine Good Citizenship Class (Who am I kidding? I knew he wouldn’t handle a bunch of strange dogs in the ring at the same time). My lifetime of working with dogs didn’t prepare me for a reactive one. But my quest to find the solution did. It was a game changer. I knew that there was a small community of dog owners who would benefit from learning the answers I found. It has been several months since I have been trialing this new program, and my clients are happy with the results.
Happy Pet! Happy Home!
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When it’s not safe to be outdoors in the heat, games are a way to keep your pets and children from being bored. And I don’t mean board games! These games are just active enough where you won’t break a sweat, but you will still be mentally engaged.
Hide & Seek – Ask your dog to sit, go to another part of the house to hide, call your dog’s name, reward with a treat when you are discovered. Or your child hides with a handful of treats and then calls the pet’s name. When the pet comes running to find the child it is presented with a yummy treat as a reward. This is a fun way to practice recall and for your pet to learn listen to your child’s voice.
Find it – Use toys instead of treats. Let your child hide your pup’s favorite toy; the one that he knows by name. After it is hidden, have your pet hunt for it by saying their name to get their attention, give the command “Find” and the name of the toy. This is a little advanced so let your pet watch you set up the game first a few times. Then see how he does solo.
Find the treat – You and your child can hide treats throughout the house on different surfaces and varying heights (keep it safe). In addition to treats, you can do this with your pet’s meal instead of placing it in a bowl. Mix a variety of textures (chewy, soft, lickable, or crunchy) and observe your dog finding them. Dogs love this stimulating activity and their preferences may surprise you.
Tricks – You and your child can teach your dog some fun tricks. Start with the easy ones: give me your paw, spin left, spin right before adding more advanced tricks like beg, play bow, leg weaves, go around, and so many more. Click here to see instructions for some easy tricks and keep it fun.
Hide Treats in a box – Have your child place a treat in a box and then ask your pet to find it. When your pet understands the game, add more boxes some with and some without treats. Your dog will love the chance to hunt. This is a calming, fun, activity for dogs of any age.
Children and pets can be a great combo. Games and activities can build confidence in our pets and create a strong partnership with children. How we guide their interactions will them help create fond memories that will last a lifetime for them and us.
Turn reactivity to calm confidence with our new program.
Crockett’s Critter Care is now offering reactive dog training. As I have been working with several pets and their owners, I’ve created an eight week program to take reactive dogs to calm confident companions.
During this pilot program, your feedback will be invaluable to refining this new specialized training. As part of the first session you’ll have input on determining handout effectiveness, communication between sessions, and confirmation of the success of your practice sessions. In appreciation for your contribution this eight-week individualized course is being offered at introductory rate of $600.
The pre-launch session has just a few more spots available for this summer. If you have a reactive dog that you’d like to train to be calm and confident, contact me to learn more and reserve your spot.
It is uncomfortable when you have a reactive dog. I know what it’s like: you peek out the window to see if it is a good time to venture out. Then holding the leash very tightly in your hand, in case your dog pulls, lunges, or barks, you head out the door. You dread it when a bicycle rider approaches, children ask if they can pet your dog, or the mail truck passes you on the street. And worst of all is the cat or squirrel that magically appears and sends you pet into full alert.
Having a reactive dog can be worrisome, isolating, and physically wearing. Walks are a challenge, going to the vets is a nightmare, and you stopped inviting visitors over a long time ago. You love your dog, but sometimes you don’t like him.
I’ve been there. In fact, that is why I am so excited about helping you and your dog cope with reactivity, calm your anxieties, and develop a better partnership.
The program I offer is science-based, positive, fun, and a game changer. My formerly reactive German shepherd Davy and I can now walk in the neighborhood, meet other dogs for a walk in the park, and remain calm when faced with challenges that used to be seen as threats. Take advantage of the pre-launch introductory rate package of $600 for the full eight week program and transform your relationship with your dog.
You and your dog don’t have to swelter in the heat and humidity on hot summer days. There are awesome alternatives to walking your dog that can be done inside the comfortable temperature of your home. After all, why do we walk our dogs? We want them to have exercise, mental stimulation, a chance to rummage around a bit, and have a special time with us. But, when the weather too hot, there are other options.
Exercise can be high or low impact. For an active experience – take them to a secure field, a friend’s large yard, a tennis court, or a dog park. For low impact exercises, ACE (Animal Centered Education) Free Work such as distributing food on different surfaces and at different levels instead of filling a bowl, provides opportunities to seek, find, chew, and eat.
Swimming is a fun activity that dogs love. Games are awesome activities – try a flirt pole, urban agility (rudimentary course on your property – Parkour can even be done in your living room), tug games, playing pattern games (left to right, up and down, circle, figure 8’s), tossing a Frisbee or a ball are all great forms of exercise in place of a walk.
Mental stimulation can be satisfied through games and smell. Consider sniffing games, scent work, sniffaris, hide and seek around the house, snuffle mats, licky mats, food puzzles, and trick training.
Scavenging – snuffle mats, snuffle boxes, ACE Free Work, and peanut better filled Kong toys can delight your dog for longer than it takes to catch a treat!
Companionship – play games, give your dog a brushing or a massage, talk to them or just relax with them.
Davy, my German shepherd, loves attention, being brushed, brainwork activities, and exploring. Ginger, my hound dog, likes sniffing and eating. Both are easy to please without taking them for a walk on a hot summer day. You can keep your dogs safe, comfortable, happy, and content with some new exciting choices. What would your dog choose if they could? I challenge you to include three things besides a walk that you can do with your dog this week. Share your experience with a post and a picture.
Spring has arrived! Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and happy as the weather warms up.
Use pet-friendly products for spring cleaning; follow the directions for cleaning and storage.
Hide the antifreeze. If you suspect your pet may have come in contact with or ingested a poisonous substance – call the Animal Poison Control Center immediately at (888) 426-4435.
Clean up the yard. Pick up sticks and acorns that you pet could chew on. These can cause harm to your dog’s mouth and throat. Remove leaf litter where ticks and fleas could hide. Make your yard and garden unattractive to snakes by keeping them tidy.
Cats and screens: Be careful to use strong and sturdy screens in your windows and have them fit snugly. Curious cats can pry screens off their hinges and storms can blow screens off their frames.
Never leave your pet in a parked car. Travel with pets inside the car (not in the back of a pickup) and in a secure crate or seat belt harness to keep them safe, unable to stick their head out the window, or interfere with your driving.
Watch your pet for signs of seasonal allergies. Pets can be allergic to pollen, dust, grasses, and plants. For many pets, this reaction shows up in skin issues. You may notice itching, minor sniffling and sneezing or life-threatening anaphylactic shock from insect bites and stings. If your pet suffers each spring, see the vet to ease their suffering.
Flea and tick control. Check your pet for these pesky critters regularly – especially after they have been in tall grass.
ID tags will help your pet be returned to you, if they go astray.
Xylitol poisoning: there is a significant increase in pets being poisoned by ingesting this artificial sweetener. A tiny amount can be fatal. It can be found in some sugar-free gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrup, children’s chewable or gummy vitamins and supplements, mouthwash, and toothpaste. Xylitol is also showing up in over-the-counter nasal sprays, laxatives, digestive aids, allergy medicines, and prescription human medications, especially those formulated as disintegrating drug tablets (sleep aids, pain relievers, anti-psychotics, etc.) or liquids.
Prep for storms. Gather your hurricane kit together, teach your pet to go into a crate or carrier, and have important papers handy. If your dog is frightened of thunderstorms, ask your vet about medications that can ease your dog’s fears.
Standing water can cause health concerns (Leptospirosis) so don’t let your pet drink from puddles. Steer clear of communal water bowls.
Blue-green algae – keep your dog out of water sources that have been known to be contaminated with this toxin. Always wash your dog after swimming outside. Last August three pets died hours after swimming in a pond in Wilmington, NC.
Sign up for alerts from Dog Food Advisor regarding pet food recalls.
Take your dog out for a special treat to any of our beautiful parks.
Happy Pet! Happy Home!
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