Monthly Archives: December 2009

Do Dogs and Cats Like to Be Hugged?


By Linda Cole

To us, a hug is a natural human reaction that shows affection. We don’t hesitate to throw our arms around the neck of a special friend or family member we haven’t seen in a long time. Unfortunately, our pets aren’t human and probably have no understanding of what a hug means. When we give our dogs and cats hugs, it won’t ruin a friendship but we might have just ruined the moment for them. Hugs can be a touchy situation for most pets.

Cats and dogs use body language to interpret the intentions of other cats and dogs. Dogs understand social order in the pack and which actions signal dominance and aggression. When one dog puts a leg over the back or shoulder of another dog or mounts him with both legs on his back, this is showing that the dog on top has dominance over the other one.

There’s a similar social order for cats, but it’s defined more by the sex of the cat and reproductive status. A pregnant female has a higher social rank than a neutered male. It’s also more complicated than the dog hierarchy because it can change depending on where the cat resides. For cats who live with humans, we are seen as the alpha if we are providing for their care. The one who cleans their cat pan and feeds them, as far as they are concerned, is the boss. However, cats and dogs view hugs in about the same way.

Cats can be more standoffish than dogs; that’s just their independent nature. Like dogs, cats feel threatened by other cats and even their human standing over them, especially if eye contact is being made. In both the dog and cat world, eye contact can mean aggression and most cats become uncomfortable when we stare at them. When we wrap our arms around our pet’s neck to give them hugs, most pets would prefer that we didn’t, if they had a choice. That’s one area where dogs and cats do agree.

Like dogs, most cats don’t like the confining feeling that comes with one of our loving embraces. A cat will react in the same way as a dog when we drop our hand down toward their head. It’s seen as an aggressive move on our part. A cat will generally let you know when they want attention, and it’s usually on their terms. Plus, very few cats or dogs like to be held down against their will which leaves them with a feeling of no control over the situation.

Of course we want to give dogs and cats hugs, and some pets do seem to enjoy them. The more pets trust and respect us, the more apt they are to “allow” us to wrap our arms around them in an embrace. But since there are no hugs in their world, they are confused about what it is or how they should respond to one. So they react accordingly.

Children should be taught to never hug dogs or cats they don’t know. When hugging a family pet, they need to be careful not to squeeze the pet too hard. For most dogs, the shorter the hug, the better. Like us, they need their space, and when we wrap our arms around their necks, we are violating their space. We don’t like having someone standing with their face close to ours during a conversation and that’s how it likely feels to a dog. You know your dog better than anyone else. It’s up to us as pack leader to help our dogs understand that hugs are not threatening and that we mean them no harm. Dogs and cats who trust their owners are more likely to tolerate hugs.

There’s nothing wrong with giving your dog or cat a loving embrace. I hug mine all the time. Some pets do seem to enjoy a hug now and then as long as we don’t get carried away with our affection. By all means, hug your pet! Just keep it short and sweet because even though we enjoy hugging our pets, for the most part, it’s not their favorite way to spend time with us.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

EmailGoogle GmailBlogger PostTwitterFacebookGoogle+Share

Tips on Finding a Reputable Breeder


By Ruthie Bently

If you’re looking for a new dog or cat and want a purebred, do you know what to look for? Do you know which questions you should ask to help you choose the right pet? If you’re not sure what breed you want, going to a dog or cat show is a great way to find out. At a show you can look at the different breeds, talk to the breeders and find out if a pet you are considering would be a good fit for you. If you have already decided on a certain breed of dog or cat, finding a reputable breeder is fairly easy. The best advice I can give you is to remember to do your homework.

Don’t buy a particular breed simply because your children are begging you for the dog they saw in a movie. You need to make sure that the breed you choose is going to fit into your family and your lifestyle. Many Dalmatians ended up in shelters after the 101 Dalmatians movie came out because people found out that they didn’t have either the patience or energy to keep up with that breed.

Go to your local library and check out a cat or dog breed book and read about the breeds that are available. A reputable cat breeder won’t let you purchase a cat if they know it will be spending its time out in the barn hunting for its food. And no reputable dog breeder is going to let you chain one of their dogs to a dog house and leave it to fend for itself. A good breeder wants their animals taken care of; you should be aware that you are bringing home an animal for their lifetime and need to provide for them in a proper manner.

If any of your friends or family members have a purebred you like, ask them where they got it, how the pet’s health is and what they think of the breeder. Check with your veterinarian and ask them if they know of any reputable breeders. CANIDAE has links to reputable breeders on their website. You can also check the American Kennel Club website for a list of dog breeders. If you are looking for a purebred cat, the Cat Fanciers’ Association website can help.

Beware of “backyard breeders” (also called puppy mills). They breed dogs and list them in newspapers and on the Internet to make an easy dollar. The problem is they are not looking to breed a quality dog; they are breeding for quantity because the more dogs they breed the more money they make. While I have not heard much about “kitty mills” I am sure they exist. These animals can have many genetic and health issues because of their breeding, and that cute bundle of fluff you bring home can cost you thousands in vet bills down the road.

Reputable breeders can be found in the classifieds of your local paper, but they will have a list of qualifications for you; they don’t sell their animals to just anyone. They want to make sure you can take care of the pet you choose in a manner that is up to the standards they themselves will approve of. They also want to make sure you can handle the dog or cat you purchase.

Once you find a prospective breeder, there are several things you should ask them. Such as, are the parents on the premises, and can you see them? How old does your pet have to be, before you can take it home? Does the pet come with a health guarantee? (See my previous article for more questions you should ask a prospective breeder.) A reputable breeder will have requirements for you as well. Will the breeder want you to show this dog or cat? If the answer is yes, and the dog or cat becomes a champion, will the breeder want to breed the pet you have chosen?

I have had American Staffordshire Terriers since 1981. I had a personal relationship with the breeder before I ever considered getting one, and though I enjoyed all the dogs she and her husband brought into my store to socialize, I never thought I would give my life to this breed. Once I had my first one, however, I couldn’t imagine sharing my life with any other breed.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Stop Wool Sucking in Cats


By Julia Williams

I had a gray tabby cat named Binky who was the sweetest, most affectionate feline I’ve ever known. Binky was my kitty companion for 19 years, and I loved her dearly. But Binky had a bizarre habit – she sucked on my blankets and sweaters until they became a soggy mess. Like countless other cat owners confronted with such odd behavior, I thought something must be mentally wrong with Binky. Should Binky see a cat therapist, I wondered? I opted to consult with my vet instead, who informed me that Binky’s behavior was actually fairly common. It even had a name: wool sucking.

What causes wool sucking in cats?

Some cats, like Binky, become fixated with sucking, licking or chewing on fabrics. Because wool is generally the fabric of choice, this behavior became known as wool sucking. Although there is no definitive answer as to why cats engage in wool sucking, it is believed to be a misdirected, compulsive behavior related to nursing and too-early weaning of kittens. Genetics may also play a part. Although many people wonder if there might be something missing in the cat’s diet that causes them to be wool suckers, my vet said this was highly unlikely.

For survival reasons, a young kitten’s drive to nurse is quite strong. Healthy kittens nurse vigorously until they are about six to seven weeks old. After that, the momma cat usually rebuffs the kittens when they try to nurse, until they are completely weaned and eating solid food on their own. As the kitten grows older and naturally progresses to solid food, their drive to nurse fades. But in some cases, when a kitten experiences abrupt early weaning while their nursing drive is still strong, they may turn to non-nutritional substitutes that have the same feel as Mom, such as that soft wool blanket on your bed.

Is wool sucking dangerous for your cat?

Wool sucking is a strange behavior, to be sure. Having spittle -soaked blankets is no picnic either. But is wool sucking harmful to your cat? As long as the behavior stays at the wool sucking stage and doesn’t progress to the chewing and swallowing stage, it may not be a problem that requires intervention on your part. The kitten may also outgrow the behavior in time. If they don’t, and the wool sucking turns to chewing and swallowing, the behavior could be dangerous for your cat because they could suffer intestinal obstruction from the ingested fabric.

What can you do about wool sucking?

As I said, sometimes the wool sucking will subside on its own. It may go away completely, or your kitten or cat may only engage in wool sucking in times of stress or conflict. If your cat engages in wool sucking, the right course of action would be to have your cat examined by your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for the behavior. Then, depending upon what your vet recommends, you may want to consider consulting with a cat behaviorist.

If your vet feels that your cat’s wool sucking is endangering its health, they may suggest one of the following treatments:

Aversion – If your cat only sucks on one or two objects, you can try a pet deterrent spray. Just be sure to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it won’t harm the fabric.

Eliminate or reduce sources of stress for your cat – Some possible stressors include: separation anxiety, conflicts with other cats and dogs in your household, neighborhood cats coming into your yard, rowdy visitors and loud noises.

Redirect the wool-eating – When you see your cat chomping on your favorite sweater or blanket, offer it something else to suck on, such as a fuzzy sock or a soft cat toy.

Drug Therapy – Your veterinarian may prescribe medication such as anti-anxiety or anti-depressants.

Discourage the behavior – If you catch your cat in the act of wool sucking, gently tap them on the nose and say, “No” in a firm voice. You can also help to discourage the wool sucking by not giving them access to the objects they like to suck on. For example, keep all clothes picked up and put away, and always make your bed so the blanket is covered up.

I found Binky in my backyard when she was only about five weeks old, so the theory that wool sucking is caused by abrupt early weaning makes sense to me. Binky never did outgrow the wool sucking behavior completely, but since she did it less frequently as she got older and never progressed to wool eating, I viewed it more as an annoyance rather than a problem which required treatment. As in all cases where your cat exhibits strange behavior, you should discuss it with your vet to determine if treatment is necessary.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Stop Puppy Biting Before It’s a Problem


By Linda Cole

Most puppies gnaw, chew and bite everything in sight, including our fingers, hands and toes. They have an unlimited supply of energy when they are awake, with a playful spirit that only adds to their cuteness. Puppy biting may seem innocent enough, but if it isn’t addressed early, a bigger and more aggressive adult dog could accidentally hurt a family member during play. It’s up to us as the pack leader to set rules and limitations for our dogs, and it’s important to stop puppy biting before it becomes a problem. Luckily, there’s a simple solution that’s safe and harmless for the pup, and easy to learn.

The first step in stopping the behavior is to understand why puppies bite. Each dog has to learn their place in the social order of the pack. Puppies play fight and bite their litter mates in order to determine where they fit in. A more aggressive biter is showing he is more dominant which could make it harder to stop your puppy from biting.

As the pack leader, it’s up to us to teach a dog what our pack rules are as soon as possible. Nipping and grabbing hands or noses during play may seem cute until someone gets hurt. It’s best to correct now what will be unacceptable behavior when the pup grows up. Consistency, patience, staying calm and never hitting the dog is the key to training a puppy or an older dog. We may have a dog’s unconditional love, but we also want his respect and trust. If you lose your dog’s respect and trust, it will be a constant battle every time you try to teach him anything.

It may take some time to teach your puppy not to bite. Normally, this can be accomplished in two weeks up to a couple of months, so don’t give up. The first thing to remember is not to scare the puppy. You want to correct a behavioral problem, not make him afraid of you. Every time your puppy bites or attempts to bite your hand, look directly at him and say “Hey” or “No” in a stern voice. Don’t use your hands to push him away. He thinks your hands are paws and you are still playing. Break eye contact with him and turn your side to him or simply get up and walk away. By ignoring him and leaving the puppy with no one to play with, you are teaching him that biting is unacceptable. This is how he learns what you expect and what behavior is acceptable. When he plays nicely and doesn’t bite, be sure to praise him for good behavior.

For most puppies, walking away from them works well. If you have a more stubborn pup, you may need to be more assertive to stop them from biting. If after a couple of weeks he still bites, continue with the stern “No” or “Hey” and if he doesn’t stop, use a spray bottle filled with water and squirt him on the nose. It won’t hurt him and the sudden spray should get his attention. If he continues to bite, give him another squirt and then get up and leave or turn away from him. He will learn that if he wants to continue playing, he can’t bite. Of course you need to remember that a dog at any age will use his mouth or bite to communicate with other members of his pack and we are considered part of the pack. Sometimes a nip is meant to tell us something important we need to pay attention to.

Any puppy or dog training needs to be done while you are calm and patient. If you get excited, so will the puppy. Just like kids, dogs need direction so they can understand what is expected from them. Consistent and calm repetition is the best way for your puppy to learn. Make sure everyone in the family uses the same method to stop your puppy from biting.

A puppy has sharp little teeth and can do a lot of damage, especially if they chomp down on a child’s hand. The sooner you stop a puppy from biting, the better. Never yell at or hit your pup because this can lead to other behavior problems as they grow into adults, and you risk losing their trust and respect. He’s only behaving like a normal puppy should. It’s our job to teach him that although we love him, there are things we, as his pack leader, won’t accept and biting is one of them. Most puppy biting will cease naturally as they get older. But if it doesn’t, you need to stop it before it becomes a problem.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Breed Profile: Basenji (Congo Dog)


By Ruthie Bently

The Basenji is a small hunting dog native to Africa (also known as the Congo dog). The African natives used it for driving game into nets and for pointing, as well as retrieving wounded game. It was also used to warn about dangerous animals in the forest and as a guide. These traits helped the dog in the field as they were frequently out of the hunter’s sight. Their silence, adaptability and courage, as well as their speed and power, were prized as an asset in a productive hunt.

The Basenji has a short coat. They are known as a barkless dog, but depending on their mood will crow, howl or growl and when they are excited they “yodel.” They are a member of the AKC’s hound group; they hunt by using both scent and sight and were recognized in 1944. The first Basenjis were given to ancient Pharaohs of Egypt as gifts, and a Basenji-like dog has been seen on wall drawings and in Egyptian tombs dated to five thousand years ago.

The Basenji breed has some habits more reminiscent of a cat than a dog, as they are fastidious and can spend hours cleaning themselves. They have also been seen sitting on the back of furniture to look out a window. They lack a “doggy” odor and are a low shedding dog, which endears them to their fans.

Basenjis were taken to Britain in 1895 but contracted distemper and died. In 1937 they were taken to Britain again, as well as the United States. The pair imported into the US was able to have a litter of puppies, but all except one male died from distemper. A female was imported to Boston, MA in 1941; she was bred with the surviving male and their litter lived. In subsequent years more Basenji dogs were imported from Britain and Canada, which helped further the breed in the United States.

Basenjis usually live between ten and thirteen years although one lived to the age of twenty-two. The weight for a male dog is between 22 and 26 pounds (10 to 12 kg) and their height is between 16 and 17 inches (41 to 43 cm). Females should weigh between 20 to 25 pounds (9 to 11 kg) and their height should be between 15 and 16 inches (38 to 41 cm).

The Basenji is known as an independent, curious, alert, energetic and affectionate breed that loves to play. There are cautions about having them in a household with non-canine pets, but they do well in multiple Basenji households. They need to be socialized from an early age, are very intelligent with a desire to please, and are fairly easy to train. They do well with children and will form a strong bond with their owner though will be naturally reserved and aloof with strangers.

When introducing a Basenji to new people you should let the dog make the first overtures and approach them head on and not from behind. They need exercise daily to release pent up energy and do not easily tire when playing. They are chewers and should be provided with lots of options so as not to chew inappropriate items around the house.

They are known as climbers and are not averse to scaling a chain link fence. When curious, a Basenji will often stand on their hind legs, and they’re known to be able to jump over six feet straight up. Basenjis are very smart and need an owner who knows how to be the “alpha” dog, or they can become unruly and demanding. If they are exercised enough, a Basenji can be kept in an apartment or in a house with a small yard and would do well with a long daily jaunt.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Season’s Greetings From CANIDAE!

All of us here at the Responsible Pet Ownership Blog and CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods would like to extend our warmest wishes to all of you and your pets for a Joyous Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!
pictured: From Left Top: Jason, Julie, Carl, Diane, Sarah, Mike. Bottom: Kristine, Johnny, Lois, Beth, “baby” Autumn

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.