Monthly Archives: June 2013

How to Teach Your Dog to Play Red Light, Green Light

By Linda Cole

Training is an essential part of a dog’s education. Teaching basic commands helps you control your pet and keep him safe. Teaching your dog isn’t difficult if you are committed, remain patient and stay consistent. Plus, if you make it into a game, it’s more fun all the way around. Dogs and kids love to play games, and by teaching both of them how to play Red Light, Green Light, you’re showing them how to behave around each other.

One major lesson children can learn from playing the Red Light, Green Light game is how to react to a dog that may be chasing them or jumping up on them during play. It doesn’t take long for a dog to become so excited during play that he ends up nipping at the kids when they’re running around or jumping up on them, all the while barking his love of the game he’s playing. Unfortunately, that’s when it’s time to slow the play down before someone gets hurt. The dog isn’t being bad; he’s just gotten too hyper to continue playing. Another good lesson for kids to learn is what to do when they meet an unfamiliar dog. By playing this game, kids are able to see firsthand how stopping and standing still can make a difference.

Before starting a game of Red light, Green light, your dog should know how to sit on command. But if he still needs to work on that, you can always practice with him during the game. Put a nice supply of CANIDAE dog treats in your pocket and be ready to reward him for sitting during the “freeze frame” part of the game.

The rules of the game are simple and easy for both kids and dogs to learn, but most kids probably already know how to play. Everyone starts out walking or running around the yard. A judge, which should be you to start with, suddenly shouts out “red light.” Everyone stops and freezes in position and the dog should sit down. To help him learn what you want him to do, run or walk with him on leash. As soon as you call out red light, stop and have him sit. Reward him with a treat immediately when he complies. Don’t let him move until you yell “green light.” That’s the signal to release everyone and the game continues.

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Photographing Dogs and Cats– Which is Easier?

By Langley Cornwell

As you might imagine, I am one of those people who takes crazy amounts of pictures of our dogs and our cat. Now that so many cell phones have decent cameras, it’s easy to capture those precious moments.

What got me thinking about this was an article I read in Catster. The writer volunteers as a photographer at her local animal shelter. In the article, she chronicles her change of mind – at first she preferred photographing dogs but eventually came to enjoy cat photography more. With dogs, she liked the camaraderie and thought her photos were better with natural lighting and nice outdoor backgrounds. When she ventured into the cat room to take pictures, there was too much commotion. She couldn’t get a cat to sit still long enough to snap a good shot. And, when she got lucky and captured one of the elusive creatures on camera, the backgrounds were cluttered with litter boxes, cages, supplies, and maybe a few bags of CANIDAE Life Stages cat food, all lit by severe fluorescent lighting.

Then one day the shelter manager hung up a donated blanket and two heat lamps in an effort to spiff up the cat photos. The photographer mentally rolled her eyes, thinking there was no way a cat would sit in front of that thing long enough to have her picture taken. She was wrong. In fact, she now believes that cats intuitively know what she is trying to do and pose for the camera.

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How Long is Your Pet’s Memory Span?

By Linda Cole

Some people assume that dogs and cats aren’t capable of retaining memory over the years. Most people believe both species can only remember for a few minutes, at most. However, experts say that how long a dog or cat’s memory span is depends on whether you’re talking about short-term memory or long-term memory – associative memory or real memory.

Associative memory is when a dog or cat remembers by associating a specific activity with what they see, smell or hear, and whether they have a positive or negative memory of it. For example, my dogs associate the sounds my computer makes when it’s shutting down with going outside one last time at night. But if I mute the computer’s volume so they can’t hear the beeps, they have no idea why I’m getting up from my chair. Pets pay close attention to every little thing we do, and their associative memory kicks in when something triggers it. Yet when there’s nothing to associate an action to, their real memory kicks in and they don’t remember what happens next.

Associative memory is the reason why you can’t punish a dog, left alone, for tearing up a pillow or getting in the trash. By the time you get home, he has no idea why you’re yelling at him, but will associate your reaction with unfair discipline, and will remember it. When a pet associates something negative with an activity, it can be hard to change their behavior. If you only take your pet in the car when it’s time to visit the vet, he may associate being in the car with something unpleasant. If your cat has a negative experience in a specific room, she may be reluctant to go back. So it’s important for your pet to experience positive things in the car or the room, like going somewhere enjoyable or having fun playing in that “scary” room. However, you need to tread carefully to make sure you don’t reinforce a negative association your pet will remember.

Cats aren’t as excitable as dogs. They have to maintain their “coolness” after all. Felines do associate sights, sounds and smells, though. If they didn’t, the electric can opener would never be successful at training a cat to come running when “it” calls out. A cat’s memory is thought to be at least 200 times better than a dog’s. But as any cat owner knows, felines are more selective, and remember what they think is useful to them.

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Understanding Dog Show Terms

By Suzanne Alicie

Many dog lovers enjoy watching dog shows. We get to see the “top dogs” of each breed, but a lot of us may find ourselves wondering exactly how the judges choose the winners. There are many terms and standards that “show dog” owners are aware of and work to achieve. Let’s take a look at a few of these and what they mean, so the next time you watch a dog show you’ll understand more about the process and have more insight into the final results.

Breed Standard

The breed standard includes several areas of the dog’s appearance which are dictated by the AKC for show dogs. This means that dogs of a specific breed which are the wrong color, have any irregularities or are too large or small for the breed standard won’t be competing. The dogs which have shown that they fit the breed standard will be further evaluated to find the best example of the breed in the show.

Stacking

Stacking is how the dog stands naturally and when placed in position. This is something that the handler or trainer will teach the dog. Stacking helps the judges see all areas of the dog’s structure to evaluate against the breed standard and to allow the judges to feel the dogs bone structure and muscles. The breed standard stacking position differs from breed to breed. While evaluating the stack, you may hear judges and announcers talk about angulations, soundness and pedigree.

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Coping When Your Pet Is Sick

Annabelle

By Julia Williams

I was originally going to title this post, How the Internet Makes Being a Pet Parent Better. I changed my mind when I realized that it wasn’t really “the internet” that I meant, but the people a pet owner can meet there through various online avenues. For me, those avenues are primarily a pet blog and Facebook. There are many others that one might choose as their favorite “virtual water cooler,” but in the end it’s the interactions we have with other pet owners and the friendships we form that matter more than where we choose to gather.

Some people, including me, have a hard time remembering what life was like B.I., or Before Internet. My virtual water cooler visits are an integral part of my day. It’s how I stay connected to others while enjoying the solitude and freedom of a work-from-home career. Yet it’s become so much more than that to me, and I only realized just how much more when my beloved cat, Annabelle, recently fell gravely ill.

I was cycling through all of the “downer” emotions that besiege us when our fur kids are sick: anxiety, fear, sadness, dread, helplessness. Mostly, I was just very worried about Annabelle and terrified that I would lose her. I do have people in my “real life” who understand the turmoil that having a sick pet creates, but only a precious few. I really needed an army, because I was trying to be strong, for Annabelle…and I was failing miserably.

I found my army on Facebook, where my friends’ list includes many good-hearted souls who love their pet as deeply as I do. I also participate in a Facebook group that’s comprised of crazy-about-cats people like me. One thing I especially love about Facebook is that no matter what you might need from others – support, opinions, answers to questions, knowledge that only comes from personal experience – you can post a status and get what you need immediately. It’s like a real-time lifeline, a metaphorical tow rope thrown to a drowning man.

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Teaching Pet Safety Rules to Kids

By Langley Cornwell

The dogs we share our lives with now have never been around young children. The one time that my sister-in-law brought her grandchild to our home, our dogs cowered in the corner of our bedroom during their entire visit.

If we are out taking a walk with our dogs and a young child runs towards us, we step between the child and the dog and divert the kid’s attention. We’re just not sure what would happen. Since we aren’t around kids often, we have not properly socialized our dogs in that area, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones.

In order to avoid any potential issues, why not err on the side of caution? If you are a parent of young children, it’s important to teach them sound pet safety rules.

If your child is approached by a strange dog

In these circumstances, it’s important to teach your kid to:

• Stand tall and firm, like a tree.
• Keep her hands down at her sides.
• Stare straight ahead. Don’t look at the dog. If your child looks into the dog’s eyes, the dog may interpret that as an invitation to fight.
• Stay still, never try to run away. Dogs have a prey drive and love to chase moving objects, even children.
• Keep quiet. Calling for help or screaming out of fear may scare the dog.
• When the dog loses interest, back away slowly, one step at a time.

If your child follows these steps, most dogs will simply take a few curious sniffs and then turn away. Still, it’s important to let your child know what to do if she is ever attacked by a dog. If the unthinkable happens and a dog attacks, your child must curl up in a tight ball and cover her face with her hands.

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