Monthly Archives: January 2014

How to Help a Senior Cat Find His Inner Kitten

By Julia Williams

The age a cat is considered “senior” varies depending upon who you ask. Even the so-called “cat experts” disagree. Some think an 8-10 year old cat is a senior, others put the age between 10-12 or 12-14, and some say as young as 7 years old. In their Senior Care Guidelines, the American Association of Feline Practitioners puts it this way:  “There is no specific age at which a cat ‘becomes senior.’ Individual animals and body systems age at different rates.”

My cat Mickey is almost 15; Rocky and Annabelle will be 11 in July. So they’re all seniors, but still alert, active, playful and at times (overly) rambunctious. They may not always act like youngsters, but they do have moments where their inner kitten comes out to play. That’s a good thing, even though at 5 a.m. it might seem otherwise.

Play is very important to all cats, perhaps even more so to senior cats because it can keep them “young in spirit” which helps combat the effects of aging. We see this in older people all the time – those who are active not only live longer but have more vitality. I let my inner child come out to play as often as possible, and try to help my senior cats find their inner kitten, too.

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Do Pets See Us As Their Family?

By Linda Cole

When we accept the role of caring for a pet, we have the responsibility of providing for their needs. Many pet owners view their dog or cat as a valued member of their family, lovingly referring to them as their furry kids. I’m sure pets have no concept of what “family” or “parent” means, but in their eyes, our role is one of provider, protector and educator, which are the chief duties of a parent, even in the animal world.

As responsible pet owners, most of us worry about our pets when they’re home alone. We buy winter coats and boots to keep our dogs warm, provide pets with their own beds, give them toys and puzzle games, make sure they have a high quality food like CANIDAE, and include them in family activities. We share a bond – an emotional bond similar to that of parent and child.

Lisa Horn and a team of researchers conducted a study at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, to see how dogs reacted to their owners. According to the study, the way dogs interact with their owners is much the same as children interacting with their parents. Canines have done an amazing job of adapting to us over the centuries, and from a dog’s point of view, we are social partners, replacing other animals of their own species. If you’ve always felt your bond with your dog is special, you’re right. Dogs have a deep connection with owners they share a bond with, similar to the connection parents have with their young children.
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How to Teach Your Dog to Clean Up His Toys

By Langley Cornwell

There are days when I take a break from my home office, walk into the den and shake my head at the mess. And it’s not a human mess. You see, we have a chest full of dog toys in the den and on cold, wet mornings or insufferably hot days when the dogs don’t want to play outside, one of our pooches inevitably empties the entire contents of the chest onto the floor. The result? Our den is turned into a Doggie Toyland!

I had to find a way to remedy the situation. A local dog trainer suggested I teach my dogs to pull their own weight around the house. Here are the basics for teaching your dog to clean up his toys:

Toy Container

• Consolidate your dog’s toys in a container with a wide mouth; an open plastic tub, cardboard box or giant basket will work. Make sure the toy container’s sides are low enough that your dog can simply drop a toy into it.

• Place the container in a location that is easy to access. Put some thought into this step because you need to keep the chest in that location so your dog will always know where to find the toy chest. Moving it around will confuse him.

Training Basics

• Begin this exercise when all the toys are scattered on the floor.

• Get a fistful of your dog’s favorite treats. Right now we’re using CANIDAE Bakery Snacks with Turkey, Quinoa and Butternut Squash. Slyly drop a few of the treats into the empty toy chest.

• Locate your dog’s favorite toy on the floor and call him to you. Coax him to take the toy in his mouth and walk with you to the empty toy chest.

• Point at the treat inside the chest and encourage the dog to take the treat. As he is reaching for the treat his mouth will open. If he successfully (accidently) drops the toy into the container, say your command simultaneously. We use the words “clean up.” If you clicker train your dog, click as you say the command. Then praise your dog for a job well done.

• Repeat this portion of the exercise (in short spurts, over several days or weeks) until your dog understands that “clean up” means getting a toy, carrying it to the basket and finding a hidden treat inside.

• Once he’s solid on that, stop hiding treats inside the basket. Start handing the dog his treat after he puts away each toy. Then slowly draw that out, offering a treat only after he puts away two toys, etc. Your goal is to get him to put away all of his toys and then get his reward.

Alternative Training Methods

If your dog is already solid on fetch and retrieve, you can build from there.

• Reinforce the basic fetch-and-retrieve exercises.

• Strengthen the “drop it” command when your dog brings the toy/ball to you. Work on linking fetch, retrieve and drop it. Our dogs know they have to drop the toy at our feet for the playtime to continue so they do it automatically.

• Once your dog is clear on the fetch- retrieve-drop exercise, stand behind the chest and toss a toy for your dog to retrieve. When he brings the toy back he should theoretically “drop it” into the chest. Practice this exercise until the dog understands that the toy in the chest equals praise and a treat. While giving praise and treats, say “good clean up” to reinforce your command words.

• When your dog clearly understands he gets a treat when he drops the toy in the chest, move further away from the chest and issue the command. Continue to move away from the toy chest and offer enthusiastic praise when the dog drops a toy into the chest.

You may want to practice variations of this, including pointing to toys and instructing your dog to “clean up.” Your dog should eventually be able to put his toys away with a few simple commands.

Does your dog do his share of the housework? We’re still working on all of this, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Next, I’m going to teach our pups how to mop.

Top photo by lindyi
Middle photo by star5112
Bottom photo by Alden Chadwick

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

Should You Put Your Dog’s Name on Their Collar Tags?

By Laurie Darroch

The safety and security of a beloved dog is a priority for any responsible loving dog owner. Dogs are not just pets; they are family members. They have tags for three purposes. Tags are used to identify the dog and locate the owners of a dog in case they get hurt or lost, to show verification of shots and licensing, and simply as an adornment to proudly show their name. The choice of dog tag styles is varied, but should your dog’s name be included on their tags or not?

Some dog tags simply have the animal’s first name. The tag should include some form of contact with the human guardian. If you are hesitant to put your address on the tag for anyone to see, use a phone number and possibly an email address for contact purposes, but do have a tag of some kind. It is security for them and peace of mind for you. Losing an adventurous, curious or naughty dog can be heartbreaking and frightening. Searching for them can be a heart wrenching nightmare.

The issue of putting the dog’s name on the tag is something to take into consideration. It may look nice, but there are reasons to think about whether or not you want their name and yours on their tags.

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What’s the Best Motivator for Dogs?

By Linda Cole

Before you can begin to train your dog, you need the right kind of motivation. Some dogs love food more than anything else, some enjoy being stroked/petted, and some will learn a command to play a game of fetch or tug of war. All dogs love to receive praise for doing a good job. But is one reward better than the others when it comes to the best way to motivate your dog?

Over the last several years, I’ve had opportunities to talk with many people who work extensively with dogs. Among them: an officer from the Denver Police Department who works with canines trained to detect explosives; a dock diving dog owner who uses the sport to raise awareness for K9 cancer; and another dog owner who trains his dogs for Schutzhund competitions. Each person emphasized the importance of knowing your dog as an individual to find out what motivates him to learn. Most dogs need more motivation than just praise, and some dogs look forward to playing as a reward after training sessions.

There is a debate among dog trainers concerning the use of treats versus praising as a reward. Some believe giving treats is a form of bribery, and once you start rewarding with food it means if you don’t have a treat the dog will stop obeying commands. On the other end of the debate are trainers who say just petting and praising a dog isn’t as effective of a reward for the majority of dogs.
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First Lines of Famous Novels, Rewritten by Cats

By Julia Williams

Ever since I could hold a book, I’ve been a voracious reader. That adoration for the almighty book evolved into a career of working with words, and although I’ve never written a novel, my love affair with words continues to shape every day of my life. I have even succumbed to digital books, and my kindle is now so full I could read a new novel every week for the rest of 2014.

Trolling the vast book offerings on Amazon, one trend simply can’t be ignored: cats are fast becoming some of the most popular authors of our time. Yes…cats. Those furry creatures previously content to sleep the day away, have now become prolific word chasers.

Cats have dipped their paws into many genres including self-help, humor and fiction. One day as I was reflecting on this, I asked myself “What if cats had been writing novels all along? What literary classics written by cats would sit on my shelf next to the timeless tomes of famous novelists?”

This led to pondering some famous first lines of novels, imagining what cats would have written instead. Then I thought, why not make a little quiz for you all, just for fun? See if you can guess which novels these 10 “catified” opening lines are  from. To make it easier, the names of the novels are below (scrambled). Answers are at the end – no peeking!

1. He was an old cat who trawled alone in the murky waters off the California Coast. He had gone an excruciatingly long half hour without catching a single fish, and starvation was imminent.

2. All kittens, except one, grow up to be cats who would rather spend their day napping on the couch instead of flying around with fairies in a fantasy world.

3. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a middle aged single woman in possession of a house full of felines, must be a crazy cat lady. Or maybe, she’s just crazy for cats.

4. In a hole in the ground there lived a gopher. This particular gopher had been taunting Fluffy for nigh on thirty days or so with his oozy rodent aroma, which wafted across the grassy meadow on the wind. Fluffy dreamt of nothing but getting that juicy gopher between her teeth, once and for all.

5. Boots McMillen was high on catnip. He was eloquently wasted, lovingly and pugnaciously blitzed on the nip.

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