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January 2016

Essential Rules of Dog Obedience Training

 by petbucket on 21 Jan 2016 |
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Obedience training can prove frustrating and overwhelming. When your puppy refuses to relieve himself outside or Lassie keeps snatching food off the table, it can be easy to give up and view the whole ordeal as hopeless. Rather than blowing a gasket and losing control of the situation, rely on a few simple rules to ensure you see obedience training through to the end.   The key to training any dog is to always remain calm. No matter how dire the situation, if you react in a collected manner, your dog will respond leagues better than when you're frazzled and shouting. Aggravation will only serve to further excite the dog, resulting in an escalation of their undesired behavior.   Cover the basics and work up from the foundations. Before you try anything else, train your dog important commands such as sit, down, stay, come, heel, off, and leave it. These seven commands cover a wide range of scenarios, from ankle biting, to food stealing, to barking at the doorbell, and equip you with the basic tools to control your dog. Coupled with a calm attitude, your dog will listen to whatever you have to say.   Positive reinforcement will teach your dog that good behavior is a happy thing correlated with love and tasty food. Praise and affection delivered at the appropriate time -- when the dog is relaxed, paying attention to you, or following commands -- will encourage continued obedience. Treats can be used to associate tricks, grooming, walks, and relaxation with feeling good and being happy. Food can also be used to distract dogs from bad behavior, such as leash pulling and barking, by preoccupying them with something much more worthwhile.   When disciplining your dog, only ever issue corrections when you catch him in the act. If you scold a dog an hour after he's soiled the rug, he may look guilty, but he'll have no idea why he's being punished. Calling a dog and proceeding to reprimand him will only cause confusion, as from the dog's point of view, he's being punished for coming over. Never shout at or strike your dog. Such actions may traumatize the animal, incite aggression, or damage the partnership bond between owner and pet. Short leash jerks and other physical corrections should only be used when absolutely necessary, such as cases of aggression or biting, as positive reinforcement can achieve the same results in a more pleasant way for the dog.   Training dogs can be vexing, especially when one step forward feels like two steps back. But so long as you remain calm and upbeat, your dog will respond in kind. Results may not be instantaneous, and some dogs are more problematic than others, but a few simple rules will ensure any dog can become obedient given time, hard work, and lots of love.

What To Do About A Cat Scratching Furniture

 by petbucket on 14 Jan 2016 |
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Cats may be the most popular kind of pet in the world, beloved for their companionship and antics. Unfortunately, a common issue that arises from owning a cat is destruction of furniture. A cat's claws need maintenance, and they do this by scratching. In the wild, feline ancestors would use tree bark for this. In the home, they need replacements of some kind, and furniture often comes under attack as a result. There are ways to prevent or change this behavior, and here are some of the best ideas for protecting your furniture from a cat's claws.   Ensure An Alternative   As mentioned, a cat needs to maintain her claws. They do not scratch out of malice but out of necessity. Though they are not 'sharpening' their claws, they do need to shed the nail sheaths. Such activities also help mark territory, as they deposit scents on the object. Scratching is also good exercise, helping the cat to stretch almost like a yoga routine.   A cat does not have the choice to not scratch. This means that you have to provide alternatives to the furniture. The scratching post is the obvious one, but scratching beds are great as well. They can also enjoy thick ropes, tree branches, and similar things. It is best to provide many pieces of cat furniture, especially if you have several cats. You should still provide such scratching furniture if the cats may go outside.   Help the Cat Understand the Alternative   Cats are famous as creatures of habit and these habits can be hard to break. Some will instinctively use the provided scratching posts. Some will need to be shown where it is and what it is for. It can help to place the new scratching post near the furniture you wish to protect. You may also show the cat what it is for by taking her forepaws and gently rubbing them against the post -- she will often get the idea. You can then move the post by degrees to the desired location.   Encourage your cat with praise, petting, and treats when they use the proper places to scratch. Cats are stubborn creatures who respond better to the carrot than the stick. Rewarding them for good behavior is effective. Punishment for bad behavior rarely works.   Discouraging Scratching   One of the quirks of cat behavior is that they understand the world in a different way from humans. A cat will identify that a person has sprayed them with water, for example. But they will not learn that the behavior is bad. Instead they will learn to do it when they won't get caught. On the other hand, if a cat thinks she has been punished by 'the universe' in general, she is more likely to stop. This makes it more effective to set up a trap of sorts.   You can still discourage the behavior somewhat by squirting a cat with a water gun or a gardening spray can. However, it is more effective to use a motion-sensing air can and place it next to the object you wish to protect. These are available for a low price. When the cat approaches, the sensor will see them, and a harmless puff of air will be blasted at them. This will cause great surprise and usually a hasty retreat. And because it is something that 'just happens', the cat should soon learn not to attempt to scratch.   Armoring the Furniture   You can protect your furniture in a couple of other ways as well. A plastic cover of some sort will prevent damage while you help your cat adjust. You can also apply double-sided sticky tape to the furniture. Most cats strongly dislike the sensation of stickiness on their paws. This will lead them to seek other places to scratch, which you should have provided for them.   Claw Caps   If your cat proves determined to scratch the furniture no matter what, there is another option. Claw caps are small plastic covers which are affixed to the pet's front claws with the use of special glue. Usually you would trim the cat's nails (always be careful to avoid the quick of the nail!) before applying them. These soft objects ensure she cannot harm the furniture or indeed your skin but do no harm to her. The claw caps will fall off in time so be vigilant for when they need replacement.   Avoid Declawing   Declawing cats used to be a popular way to protect furniture, but it has begun to fall out of favor in recent years. This is because it is now often regarded as a cruel and mutilating procedure. The operation is the same as removing a human's fingers from the middle knuckles. It does far more than just taking away their claws. It can lead to psychological distress, an inability to defend herself against other animals, and chronic pain. Declawing leads to much more misbehavior than it prevents. In many countries the procedure is banned except where a vet deems it necessary for the cat's own health.   No matter how bad your cat's scratching might be, they should never be subjected to this procedure. There are always alternative ways to change their behavior.  So no matter how bad your cat's scratching might be, they should never be subjected to this procedure. There are always alternative ways to change their behavior.   Remember that your cats are unique, living beings. They have their own mannerisms and habits, and changing these takes time and effort. Use gentility and encouragement to help them learn what you do want them to do instead of trying to teach them what you do not want them to do. You can also use various things like spray bottles and claw covers to help protect your furniture while you and your pet work on their furniture scratching. As long as you are patient and caring, your cat will soon come to learn what to use for their claw care.

Dangerous Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat

 by petbucket on 06 Jan 2016 |
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Many dog owners are unable to resist those pleading eyes at dinnertime and give in by feeding their pooch scraps of human food. What you may not realize is, some foods that are perfectly healthy for humans could be dangerous or even toxic to your dog. Here are some foods your dog should never eat:   Apple Cores   The casing around apple seeds contains a chemical that releases poisonous cyanide when eaten. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include dizziness, breathing problems, hyperventilation, unconscious collapse, seizures, shock, and coma.   Always remove the core and seeds of apples before feeding them to your dog. Incidentally, the seed casings in peaches, pears, and apricots also contain the same poisonous compounds as apple cores.   Avocado   Avocados contain persin, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, breathing difficulties, fluid in the lungs, and heart congestion in dogs.   Caffeine   Coffee contains a stimulant known as methylated xanthine, which stimulates your dog's nervous system and causes vomiting and heart palpitations.   Chocolate   Chocolate can be toxic to dogs, as it contains theobromine and theophylline. Some brands may also contain caffeine. Signs of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, muscle tremors, abdominal pains, irregular heartbeat, elevated body temperature, seizures, and damage to your dog's heart and nervous system.   Cooked Bones   Cooked bones can easily splinter as your dog chews on them. Splintered bones can lacerate the mouth, gums, throat, esophagus, stomach, or intestines, all requiring expensive veterinary treatment.   Garlic   Garlic is part of the onion family, so it contains toxins that are dangerous to dogs. Garlic can cause anemia and damage to red blood cells in dogs. However, some vets may tell you that small amounts are OK to give your dog. It's best to discuss this with your vet if you're unsure.   Grapes and Raisins   Grapes contain a specific toxin that can cause severe liver damage and kidney failure in dogs. Other symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and lack of appetite.   Hops   One of the ingredients used to make beer can be toxic to your dog. Signs of hops poisoning include increased heart rate, fever, seizures, and death.   Macadamia Nuts   Macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can cause damage to your dog's digestive system, nervous system, and muscle systems. Other signs of macadamia toxicity include weakness, tremors, and swollen limbs.   Onions   Onions are extremely poisonous for dogs, no matter what form they're in. Raw, cooked, dried, or powdered onion all contain disulfides and sulfoxides, both of which can cause anemia and damage red blood cells.   Always check the label on any foods you intend to feed your dog, such as baby food, to ensure it doesn't contain onion powder or other forms of onion.   Stone Fruits   Any fruit containing a stone or large pit can be highly dangerous to your dog. Fruit such as apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, or nectarines can all cause gastrointestinal blockages or bowel obstructions if the pit is swallowed by your dog.   Xylitol   Xylitol is an artificial sugar substitute often used in candies, baked goods, pre-packaged weight loss foods, chewing gum labeled as 'sugar-free', and some other foods. While it seems to be safe for people, even small quantities of xylitol can be extremely harmful to your dog. Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include weakness, loss of coordination, trembling, seizures, hypoglycemia, liver failure, and death.     Use Caution: Peanut Butter   In most cases, peanut butter is completely fine to give to your dog. Peanut butter is ideal for disguising tablets or for creating homemade tasty dog treats. However, some brands use artificial sweetener, so it's important to check the label and be sure the brand you buy is xylitol-free.   Use Caution: Raw Fish   Some types of raw fish can be infected with neorickettsia helminthoeca. The bacteria can sometimes be found in raw salmon or trout, and can be fatal if not treated properly. However, cooked salmon and trout are safe.   Use Caution: Dairy Foods   Dogs are lactose intolerant. They simply don't have the enzymes required to break down lactose found in dairy products.  Feeding your dog milk and cheese won't cause life-threatening illnesses, but it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems.   Use Caution: Human Snacks   Flavored potato chips can contain garlic or onion powder. Likewise, some cookies could contain raisins, chocolate, caffeine, or macadamia nuts. Keep your human snacks to yourself and get your dog his own doggy treats instead of sharing yours.   Keep this list of foods in mind when you're feeding your dog. Even if you're making homemade dog food, read through the recipe carefully and make your decisions about which ingredients to use accordingly. If you're concerned about something your dog has eaten, call your vet and discuss the situation promptly.
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