Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Pet Lovers

Thanksgiving celebrations have almost arrived once again which means we must take extra care to keep our furry friends safe. With visitors coming and going and all types of foods surrounding the home it is important to keep a close eye on pets to make sure they stay out of trouble and enjoy thanksgiving too. This month's article gives you the top ten thanksgiving tips to make sure you know the do's and don'ts to keep your pet happy during all the festive celebrations!


  1. Festive treats can harm pets
    Owners need to be aware of the festive treats that their pets are eating. A number of foods that are found on the table at this time of the year can be very dangerous to our pets. Leftover fat and other various fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, a very serious and occasionally fatal disease.


  2. Bones can be dangerous
    Although bones may seem to be a favorite among pets, it is important to keep turkey and ham bones right away. These bones can splinter and become lodged in an animal’s throat or intestine as well as cause severe constipation.



  3. Nut warning
    Different forms of nuts have been found to produce muscle weakness and paralysis among pets. Macadamia nuts are found to be the most dangerous. Paralysis tends not to be permanent, with pets usually regaining full use of their legs. If you think that your pet may have eaten any nuts, then it is important to seek veterinary advice immediately.

  4. Strictly no alcohol
    Alcoholic drinks are a popular part of the festive season, but it is important to remember to keep them far away from any animals. Dogs and cats are highly susceptible to the poisonous affects of alcohol due to them being much smaller in size than humans.


  5. Chocolate can kill
    Even the slightest ounce of chocolate can be fatal to a small dog. The substance theobromine found in chocolate, particularly in dark and unsweetened forms, is extremely dangerous to pets. Vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, hyperactivity and seizures are all the major symptoms of poisoning. In some cases, dogs may not show any signs of poisoning for several hours, with possible death occurring up to twenty-four hours later.

  6. No turkey stuffing
    The chemical thiosulphate can often be found in turkey stuffing, which is made up of onions and garlic. This chemical can cause a pet’s red blood cells to weaken and even rupture.



  7. Pet friendly treats only
    With all the food dangers that your pet may be faced with, it doesn’t mean that they have to miss out on indulging in any special treats altogether. There are many treats on the market such as Aristopet's Healthy Pet Treats that you can give them so they don’t feel left out. These treats are tasty and provide your pets with a reward while also contributing to a healthy balanced diet.

  8. Pet safety zones
    When it comes to parties and celebrations it is often a good idea to consider setting up a pet-safe retreat so your pets can relax away from all of the excitement. The retreat could be in a spare room or quiet corner of the house with all of the necessities such as food, water and a few toys to keep them entertained. You should also remember to regularly check on them to ensure that they are not stressed.

  9. Shut doors and gates
    With people coming and going and lots of strangers around, it is very important to check that doors and gates are shut tight. Pets should be supervised or kept on a lead to avoid them escaping. It is also a great time of the year to get your pet micro chipped for extra caution.


  10. Put rubbish away
    Rubbish and leftovers can be very tempting for pets to eat, but they can also be very dangerous for them. Be sure to dispose of any leftovers and waste to avoid your pet getting hold of anything that might be harmful. It is important to dispose of trash properly and to make sure that garbage cans are secured properly so that curious pets can't get into them or knock them over.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teach your puppy simple commands

Teaching your  puppy a few basic commands is an essential part of dog ownership. By using positive reinforcement it's simple to teach a dog basic commands. .

I want to make you happy!

A puppy is a great friend because all she wants to do is make you happy. During training reward her good behaviour with pats and cuddles.

How long should training sessions be?

Keep puppy training sessions to about 10-15 minutes and start by working on one command at a time. Keep it simple and be patient, persistent and consistent!

The three basic commands

“Come”

You may need a long lead with this one:
  • Say the puppy’s name first, to get their attention and then the command, “Come”
  • If your puppy responds and does come, praise him/her and then give them a treat
  • Repeat several times
  • If your puppy starts to ignore you, attach the lead and reel the puppy in towards you and again praise and treat
  • Always use an encouraging tone of voice, because if you use a threatening tone your puppy will prefer to not come to you

“Sit”

“Sit” is a little more difficult because you first have to teach your puppy what “Sit” means:
  • Hold a treat just above your puppy’s nose and head. As this grabs their attention, they will look up at the treat.
  • When they look up, move the treat very slowly further over their head
  • As your puppy follows, their rear end may lower a little
  • As this happens, put some gentle pressure over your puppy’s rear, gently push them to the floor and say the command, “Sit”
  • As soon as your puppy sits, offer praise and give them the treat
  • Repeat this several times
  • With persistence, you won’t need to put pressure on pup’s posterior and eventually they’ll respond to just the verbal command.
There are many times you should ask your puppy to sit to help avoid potential behaviour problems:
  • When they get to a kerb before crossing a road – so they are less likely to just rush from the pavement across a road
  • Before you give them a meal - this is just good manners for a dog, and it re-emphasises that you’re the boss who controls what they eat and how they must behave before being fed.
  • When visitors arrive – again good manners and less chance of your guests being jumped and slobbered all over as they walk through the door

“Stay”

Once your puppy has mastered the art of “Sit”, then you can teach them to stay:
  • Stand in front of your puppy when he or she is sitting and give the command, “Stay”. A good visual cue for this one is using your hand in a ‘stop’ action
  • Take a couple of steps back, say the command again and hold up your hand
  • Return to your puppy immediately, praise and reward them for staying
  • Be sure to present the reward to your puppy while they are still sitting
  • Gradually take more steps away from your puppy, and then work on increasing the amount of time that you are asking them to “Stay”
  • It will probably take several days to weeks of daily training to get pup to stay for more than a couple of minute
As with the command “Sit”, “Stay” can help prevent and manage potential behaviour problems.
At meal times, you can ask your puppy to sit and stay, then put their food on the floor and have them wait until you release them from the stay command. This reinforces your leadership in the relationship.

We hope you enjoyed this simple guide to how to teach a puppy to sit, how to teach a puppy to stay and how to teach a puppy to come. With these simple commands to start with, you're puppy will be easier to handle and both of you will have more fun.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dog Training Methods to Avoid

Bad Dog Training Methods Go Against a Dog's Instincts
Last week we discussed some of the best dog training methods, but we also get asked about what dog training methods should be avoided.

A well trained dog is  happier and safer, but also easier to keep healthy, because he or she will be easier to handle when its time for regular parasite control or a visit to the vet. Unfortunately a poorly trained dog can be a danger to himself and others, so bad dog training techniques should be avoided.

There are various levels of bad dog training, but the worst are those that use physical abuse or punishment. This is both cruel and ineffective, and so you should never allow anyone to try and use these sorts of methods with your dog. The goal of dog obedience training is to establish a positive, loving relationship with your dog so physical punishment is NOT how to do it.

Training the Dog Should Involve the Whole Family
Another dog training method to avoid is having only one person in the household taking responsibility for training the dog, either because they think they should be the only one training the dog, or because no one else wants to train the  dog. If you have a multi-person household and are serious about training your dog then this just doesn't work.

If only one person has responsibility for training a dog, no matter how great their training skills are, this makes it hard for the dog to listen to everybody else. The dog will realize that it needs to behave around one person, but know or think it can get away with bad doggy behaviour in front of the others.

A good example of this is when dogs jump on people. This is not good dog behavior and one person could be training them to stop this but at the same time, someone else in the house thinks it’s cute and rewards them with attention.

Another bad dog training method is having no method at all, and just "following your gut". Unfortunately dogs are complex animals and sometimes you may inadvertantly be re-inforcing bad behaviour. There are lots of great dog training books and DVDs available, so if you plan to train your dog yourself  find one that suits you and follow it.


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As well as bad dog training methods,  there are dozens of other dog training approaches that don’t work or don't work well. If this is your first dog, get advice from friends with dogs about what has worked for them, and of course, don't be afraid to ask your vet which method she recommends.