Quarantine has been a boon for pet shelters. Many people have found that adding a dog or cat to their household relieves boredom and loneliness during Covid-19. The challenge with having a new pet is that your training options are limited since in person obedience classes for dogs are on hold. And cats, being cats, need special one-on-one training to make them good family pets. While there are lots of books and online tutorials, with everything going on at home, pet training may be necessary but it can be low on the to-do list and that can have negative consequences.
If you have a dog that likes to jump up on people, pull on their leash, and misbehave around other canines, Crockett’s Critter Care now offers Walk &Train. In addition to walking your pooch for exercise, potty breaks, and mental stimulus – we will include Fear Free better behavior training to address common pet concerns. While you’re taking care of your children, attending to Zoom meetings or conference calls, we can give you a break and your pup the attention it needs to be a charming companion.
Jeanne Crockett recently achieved Fear Free Elite Status which she earned after three years of Fear Free Training. Fear Free promotes awareness of the animal’s emotional welfare. Fear Free professionals are trained to recognize and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets. Through calming techniques and gentle guidance things like giving medication, trimming nails, and visiting the vet can become hassle-free happy experiences.
These techniques work with cats as well as dogs. Click the links to learn more about Walk &Train and the Fear Free methods on our website, or call Jeanne at (252) 635-2655 to see how she can help you have a harmonious household.
Happy Pet! Happy Home!
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Dogs love your companionship so it is a great way to strengthen your dog-human relationship. It’s an easy thing that you can do together. Do you notice how many times your dog looks pleadingly at its leash and back at you? It’s waiting for you to attach his leash and spend some quality time with each other. Most of the time, all you have to do is step out the front door.
Sometimes a vigorous walk is great for exercise but not always what your dog wants. A slow and steady walk gives your dog a great chance to read the environment. Their sense of smell is so powerful that they know who was here, which way they came from, where they went, and how long ago they passed through. Let them read the stories that the environment offers them.
Dogs would love to have more control over where they go. After all, we control every aspect of their life so why not let them pick and chose the direction they want to go? We just need to make sure the direction they are selecting is safe and allow them to lead the way.
Slow down and listen to what your dog is saying to you. Sometimes you can just stop and observe what they are doing. Give them a moment to do what they are interested in. We don’t need to pull them away from something they are attracted to every time. How would you feel if you were reading the newspaper and were constantly interrupted before you finished the article?
They want to explore different surfaces so vary your location. When it’s convenient, walk them on a sidewalk, at the park, on a hiking trail in the woods, down a path by the river, or on a sandy beach. Many dogs love to take in new experiences.
Dogs love a routine. Walking them at the same time every day calms them. Just like our morning routine gets us off to a good start – the same is true for your dog. Consistency is calming.
My Davy cues me when he wants to walk. He looks at his leash and back at me until I oblige. He loves tracking and looking for squirrels, bunnies, deer, and reading who else was visiting his world. He knows where the neighborhood cats are hiding and which trees the birds are perched in. He stops to look down along the common grounds to see if any other critters are in sight. He is alert and interested in everything. He reminds me to live in the moment.
Ginger, on the other hand, is content to meander on the front yard and across the street and back. She can sniff the same spot for five minutes and then walk a few feet away and then back where she was. She is excited to meet up with her friend, Max, but ignores the other critters that are around.
I walk Davy and Ginger separately. They have different styles of walking and I want to spoil them both on their walk. They trust me and enjoy our relationship. Each one is special and different. Both are allowed to be dogs and are happy pets.
I would be happy to walk your dog too. Contact me to get started.
We expect that a Halloween mask can set off a pet’s defense mechanism. Dogs may growl and cats may hiss at the site of something they perceive as scary. Imagine how we must look to them now that our new protocol is to wear a face mask?
Our pets may get anxious when they can’t see our full face whether we are with them daily or just showing up on occasion. They don’t know if, behind the mask is a smile or a scowl. They hear us speak, but they don’t see our mouths move.
Peek-a-Boo without the BOO!
Make it easier for your pets, especially your canine companion, by getting them accustomed to seeing a mask on their household members. To get started at home, go slow and make sure your dog is relaxed.
First cover your mouth and nose with your hand and give your pet a treat. Repeat this several times until they expect the treat and look forward to the training exercise. Your pet is creating a good association with having your face covered and getting a treat. Now try it with your mask of choice and repeat the exercise (and reward) while wearing the covering for longer intervals.
Get Everyone Involved
Walk around your house, wearing a mask while talking to your pet and offering treats. Also have the other members of your household do the same. This will help your pet get used to seeing a mask on people in general. Once your pet is comfortable in the house, you are ready to do the exercise outside.
When someone walks by with a mask give your dog a treat. The treat is now a reward for learning how to take masks in stride. The key to success is keeping your pet undisturbed at each phase of learning. If your pet starts to get anxious – go back to the last step where it was calm. There is no hurry. Masks are going to be around for a while.
After this training, your pet should be a little more comfortable to the visit the veterinarian, unconcerned about walking past other people wearing masks, and happy to see their favorite pet sitter and dog walker.
Let me know how the training goes or contact me if you have any questions about keeping your pets happy and relaxed as we start to venture out into our new world.
My dogs, Davy and Ginger, and I have been spending a lot of time together since mid-March when COVID-19 rocked our world. I’ve been free to walk them more often and hang out with them. They have been great companions throughout and are practicing their obedience training and learning some fun new tricks while I catch up on a lot of reading.
I’ve also noticed some subtle differences in their behavior. Davy, my German Shepherd is more content to stay in the yard without me. Ginger, my Walker Hound, is more nervous on her walks because of all the extra people enjoying the outside. To lessen her stress, our walks have been shortened.
Nice to see you, now go away.
I did an informal survey of my friends with pets to see how their households are holding up. Many reported that their pets are confused about the humans being home so much. One cat servant noted their pet gives them a look that says, “Don’t you have someplace to be?” Other fur babies are clingy, and since pets are tuned in to our emotions, that could be because they are picking up our distress along with the change of routine.
Another pet owner reported, “My dogs DEMAND a long walk every day now. They’ve had more walks in the last 7 weeks than they have had their whole lives. My cats can’t get enough of us. I am grateful for this time with all of them.”
What do you mean you’re leaving?
In every case the pets and their humans have had to make adjustments from the dogs becoming personal trainers to cats who yowl when left alone in a room. And there will be readjustments when we’re allowed to go back to business as almost normal. This is especially problematic if your dog is a puppy, a young dog, or one that you recently adopted. It will be easier if you start preparing your pets now instead of letting them work it out on their own.
If your pets are already having separation anxiety just when you step out to get the mail, it is time to start retraining them to have confidence that you will return. Other forms of misbehavior like busting through the baby gates or taking over your bed and furniture need to be addressed before they get to be bigger problems with tougher solutions.
Go back to their basic training, change up your routine, and start to desensitize your pets to separation. If you find this retraining to be challenging, give me a call 252-635-2655 or drop me an email and I might be able to suggest some options for you. After all, we are all in this together!
It’s easy to get caught up in the fear, anxiety and stress of the Covid-19 pandemic but, I have decided to take a life lesson from my pets; I am focusing on the now. While I am being safe, following the CDC guidelines and social distancing, I am keeping informed but not glued to the deluge of information about the virus. I am watching informative webinars, listening to uplifting Ted Talks, assembling jigsaw puzzles, and spending time with my pets. Honestly, this pandemic would be even harder to endure if I didn’t have Davy and Ginger to keep me company and to set a good example.
They are consistent in their routine; they wake me up at 5 a.m. for breakfast every day. (There is no such thing as a weekend in my house.) After breakfast and their backyard outing, we get some exercise with our routine walk – first Davy and then Ginger. Each dog sees this neighborhood stroll differently. Davy wants to experience all the sights and smells and has a keen eye for the possibility of saying “Hi” to someone he knows. Ginger is happier with her nose to the ground – always on the alert for a new scent.
MIX IT UP
To keep the walk interesting, we vary pace with slow, medium, and fast gaits. Once we’re back home, I’ll ask them to do spins, sits, stays, go arounds, and come to keep their obedience training sharp. Now to keep our mental acuity up and to add some fun, we are going through the AKC trick dog list. Davy is learning to crawl on command and Ginger is learning to give me her paw. There are a lot of fun items on the Trick List that will take a while to get to and I have the extra time right now, so why not?
All day long they keep me engaged and out of my mental mess. They remind me when it’s feeding time, snuggle time, and when I need to take a break from my office work. Davy will lay his head on my lap and Ginger will do her dance at the door. They are great companions and provide unconditional love. Davy is in charge of security and is quick to let me know if a stranger is getting too close to the house. While Ginger is responsible for reminding me to slow down and savor life. She demonstrates it by enjoying a peaceful rest in a sunny spot.
KITTENS & BIRDIES & HORSES, OH MY!
Other pets are also a wonderful source of comfort and activity during these odd times. Cats are social animals that love to be around their humans. Many enjoy playing with toys, being brushed, bird-watching from their favorite windowsill, or chasing a laser light. Cats can learn tricks, too. Some cats fetch as well as dogs. Just be patient!
Horses can certainly help take your mind off your troubles and provide a lot of activity. Grooming is a great way to quiet your mind, a trail ride is perfect for spending time outdoors, and just being around horses is good for your soul.
If you have a bird at home, now is a great time to enrich your bird’s cage. Our avian friends are intelligent and get bored with life in a cage. In the wild, they are constantly searching for food, discovering something new, and staying active.
By offering new and colorful toys, perches with different textures, adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to their diet you can bring a lot of that excitement to their cage life. Don’t forget some yummy pine nuts for a treat. You can also add some pleasant sounds by playing music they like to hear. I know a bird who loves Enya. Experiment and observe them enjoying their upgraded environment.
Fish and reptiles are a great distraction, too. Watching fish swimming and meandering around an aquarium can be soothing and hypnotic. The slow pace of your pet tortoise or lizard is what helps them have a long life. Keep that in mind as we stay home and slow down.
CUDDLES & COMFORT
Pets can bring people comfort and calm during these trying times. I have seen more people walking pets in my neighborhood than I have ever seen before. They must be feeling the same benefits that I am feeling. It’s going to be a long few months. If you are feeling anxious, spend some quality time with your pets to help you cope and mimic their ability to focus just on the moment.
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As the owner of Crockett’s Critter Care, I want you to know that you can reach out to me directly with any question, compliment, or concern you have about the care of your pet.