As a cat lover, I’ve come across more than my fair share of crazy felines. You know, those cats that constantly freak out, run around or scurry away every time someone who isn’t their owner nears them.
My boyfriend’s cat Athena happens to be like that. She’s a lovable and ridiculously soft little furball, but she becomes pretty agitated when someone she isn’t familiar with tries to approach her. It actually took her a few months to even get used to being around me.
Luckily there’s an easy way to calm an anxious kitty: grab it by the scruff of the neck. Yes, it sounds harsh, but it’s not. Cats are grabbed there as kittens by their mothers, so they are used to the feeling. I tried it the other day on Athena while she was running around panicked and it worked. I approached her slowly, then knelt down and grabbed her firmly (but not roughly) by her scruff. She immediately seemed more at ease and relaxed. She didn’t try to claw her way out of my arms, unlike the previous times I tried to grab her while she was nervous. She was fine as long as I held her gently in one arm and used my other hand to grip her scruff.
So the next time you notice your cat flipping out, try this technique. Be careful though. Stay calm and be as gentle as possible when you approach. Walk up to them slowly and gently to calm them. That’s what I did with Athena, and it was much more effective than those times when I chased after her as she ran away. Extend your arm toward them and immediately grab the scruff. Hold it firmly, but don’t squeeze incredibly hard, just enough to get a solid grip. Most cats will then calm down and remain that way for as long as you hold them. Also, be prepared for the cat to jump away from you the moment you let go.
Here’s a quick youtube video of a variation of this technique. A veterinarian discovered that applying a large office clip to the scruff of a cat’s neck eases agitated cats.
It’s the new year and you know what that means: time for resolutions! It may sound strange to do them with your pets, but why not? They are an important part of your life, and it can be a good idea to incorporate them in your own resolutions. It serves as a way to hold yourself accountable to your resolutions, since you’re not only doing them for yourself, but for your furry pal too. Here are a few ways to include your dog in your resolution:
1. Exercise with your dog. Who hasn’t wanted to exercise more as part of a new year’s resolution at some point? Make it count this time by including your pet. Instead of going on leisurely dog walks with your pooch, jog with him. If you walk your dog multiple times a day, change one of those walks to a run. That way, you and your canine pal will squeeze in some quality exercise time.
2. Make healthier meal choices. If you’re like most people, eating can get a bit out of hand around the holidays. What better time to kick start a healthier meal plan than at the beginning of the new year? The best part is that you can do the same for your dog. When you make the switch to healthier food, start your dog on more nutritious food and treats. There are several healthful brands of dog food made with all-natural ingredients that are great for your pooch. If you are trying to eat less by implementing better portion control, do the same for your dog. Many dogs love to eat and will happily over-eat if you over-fill their dish. Consistently choose better food and smaller portions for you and your pet, and you both will be down a healthier path.
3. Take it easy. The days leading up to the holidays can be stressful. Take the new year as an opportunity to relax, especially with your pet. Sure, you’ll probably always be busy, but make it a point to regularly schedule time for yourself. Do it with your furry pal too. Make it a point to unwind each day by reading for a half-hour, taking a nap, watching TV or whatever your favorite relaxing activity is with your dog. While reading, have your pooch sit next to you and pet him. If you’re napping, let him lay on the couch with you and catch some Z’s. It’s a great to way de-stress while spending quality time with your pet.
New year’s resolutions don’t have to be complicated. These are just a few examples of simple, positive changes you can make that benefit both you and your dog. Try one or all of these and see how both your life and your relationship with your dog improve.
With the holiday season in full swing, you probably have your Christmas tree set up, presents wrapped and your home decorated. And if you’re a cat owner, you’re likely familiar with the havoc your feline friend can wreak on your festive decor. With all the shiny, flashy adornments all over the place, it’s impossible to keep him from swiping, swatting and jumping on your Christmas display. So what are some holiday items that your cat may get into, and what can you do to deter your kitty?
1. Low-hanging Christmas tree ornaments. It’s a guarantee that if your cat is drawn to shiny, flashy objects, he will knock low-hanging ornaments off the tree and possibly break them. Keep ornaments toward the top of the tree, especially delicate ones. The higher they are, the less likely it is your cat will reach them.
2. Dangling decorations. The Christmas tree isn’t the only thing vulnerable to your cat’s pouncing and swiping tendencies. Any decorations that hang or dangle are a prime target for your kitty to bite, swipe or jump at. If you do want to hang items like stockings, wreaths, beads, ribbons, etc., make sure you put them in a high place that your cat can’t reach or climb to.
3. Christmas tree. A lot of cats love to climb and some are daring enough to try this on a Christmas tree, which can be disastrous if your pet manages to knock it down. Put a pet gate around your tree so your cat isn’t able to get near it.
4. Gifts. Your kitty’s claws can do a number on presents under the tree. Not only does it ruin the surprise if your cat shreds already-wrapped gifts, but it could damage the actual presents too. Use the aforementioned pet gate to help in this instance too. Just make sure that all gifts are inside the gate tucked under the tree, out of your cat’s reach.
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First, “dummies” and “bumpers” are used interchangeably. Both names refer to those plastic, canvas and foam items used to train gun dogs. While they all share the same name, plastic, canvas and foam dummies all perform differently in the field. Choosing the right dummy can help your dog improve in his training.
Most canvas dummies consist of a durable canvas material around a foam core. These are a great choice for starting out young puppies. The solid foam core provides a little resistance, and is pleasant for puppies to grab onto. You can also inject the core with a training scent, to introduce puppies to game birds. Some foam dummies will float, but you should check the manufacturer’s specs to verify. And always make sure the dummy is made with non-toxic materials.
Plastic Dummies Plastic dummies have a couple of advantages: they are durable, they float and they aren’t as pleasant for dogs to pick up. (Give me a second, it does make sense). The ideal gun dog listens to and follows all of his handler’s commands, not just the ones he feels like. If dogs become used to carrying the hard plastic, they’ll have no problem with a downed bird. (If your dog really doesn’t like plastic bumpers, work with them until they overcome their dislike. Skipping over basic skills lays a poor foundation for more advanced commands.)
Plastic dummies are primarily available in three colors: black, white or orange. These aren’t random options; the color of a dummy has an important function. Dogs can’t see colors very well, but they can see contrast. White dummies stand out against dark backgrounds, and black dummies stand out against light backgrounds. Visible dummies are easier for dogs to find, and a good choice for building foundation skills. Orange dummies are a little more challenging. Dogs see orange as a shade of gray, and it blends into almost any background (think of orange as bumper camouflage). Because dogs can’t see the dummy, they must rely on scent and/or cues from their handler. Orange dummies are preferable for teaching more advanced dogs blind and forced retrieves.
Foam Dummies Foam dummies are less common than the canvas and plastic varieties: they tend to be more expensive and less durable. But foam dummies also have a few unique benefits. Most are shaped like specific game birds. Ducks are most common, but you can also find quail, dove, pheasants, etc. The realistic shape and softer material help dogs transition from hard, plastic cylinders to soft, lumpy bodies. Several models also feature loose necks and dangling heads which will bang against a dog’s face if the dummy is handled too roughly. This design feature helps dogs develop soft mouths and proper handling technique.
One of the advantages of foam dummies is also one of their drawbacks: they are excellent at retaining scent. Injecting a dummy with training scent makes them more appealing and easier to find. The foam bodies also retain the smell of pond water and dog slobber, and they can start to stink after awhile. Regular cleaning with a baking soda solution and storing them in a well-ventilated space seems to keep this problem in check.
Choosing a dummy frequently comes down to personal preference. Some people are committed to a particular type of plastic bumper or foam dummy. But considering your dog’s needs when purchasing a bumper can make the training process easier and more rewarding for both of you.
Are you a bird lover who wants to see more feathered visitors in your yard? No worries, it’s relatively easy to get a variety of wild birds flocking to you. All you need is a bird feeder and some bird seed. Yes, it sounds like a no-brainer, but the kind of bird feeder you buy and the type of feed you put in it are crucial.
First, figure out what kind of birds you want to attract. It would be wise to research the different species of birds that are common in the region where you live. Once you find that out, focus on one or two species. Then get a bird feeder that is specially designed for that type of bird. It may sound silly to have a different feeder for different bird types, but it’s not. Many feeder shapes and designs are based on the sizes of birds, the amount of seed that can be held, etc. For example, some feeders are designed specifically for smaller species to keep out larger birds that could eat their food. So think carefully about the types of birds you want in your yard and get the appropriate feeder for them.
Then purchase some quality bird seed. You can find feed mixes that are made for specific bird species. Each one has a different blend of seeds and nuts that is best for whatever type of bird it is. Sure, you can throw in whatever generic seed you feel like and birds will probably eat them, but if you want a certain species regularly frequenting your backyard, opt for a special mix. This will help maximize the number of a certain bird species that visit you.
These are some pretty general guidelines, so if you’re in need of more specific information about birds, hop over to the For the Wild Birds blog. There you’ll find loads of helpful information about different bird species, feeding tips and other valuable tips.
Are you a bird lover who wants to turn your backyard into a wild bird sanctuary? Then check out our selection of bird seed from For The Wild Birds!
This line features a variety of different bird seed to attract various species. All of the For The Wild Birds seed that we carry is packaged in bulk so you have more than enough to feed your feathered visitors. If you’re in search of a specific seed blend, we’ve got you covered. Blends feature cracked corn, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, milo and millet. Plus, many of the blends are specially formulated to help attract specific bird species. So if you want to see more finches, cardinals, blue jays or woodpeckers, we have feed that will keep them coming back for seconds. Or if you want to concoct your own special mix, we also have bulk packages of individual seed so you can make whatever you want. For The Wild Birds carries only the freshest, high quality bird seed, so you can rest assured knowing the birds that frequent your yard are consuming the choicest ingredients.
So for all you bird fanatics out there, get to shopping and find the seed wild birds will love.
As a pet lover who doesn’t actually own any pets, I often dog walk for friends and acquaintances. Doing this has taught me how to be somewhat of a dog whisperer. Now, just as a disclaimer, I’m no Cesar Millan—he employs some very serious training and techniques, while I simply implement small tips that work for me. I’m not a pet expert nor do I have any professional training. But from my years of dog walking, I have learned a few tricks to help dogs behave better.
1. Walk ahead of the dog. I’ve heard many dog owners and pet experts say you should always stay ahead of your dog while you walk him. I never really thought anything of it, but lots of people claim doing this helps establish your position as your dog’s owner and leader, which compels your pooch to obey you. Before hearing about this, I let dogs stay ahead of me on walks, so I figured I’d give it a try the next time I dog walked. Admittedly, it was difficult for me to implement this with all the dogs I walked. Some responded very well to it. I noticed that when I positioned myself ahead of some dogs (I do this by shortening the leash length), they were happy to follow me, and seemed more relaxed and obedient. But there was one dog, an overly enthusiastic beagle puppy, that always wanted to race ahead when I walked him. It was a bit more challenging to deal with, but I tried. I gave him enough leash to walk slightly behind me. I only walked him a couple of times so it wasn’t really long enough to see a significant change in behavior. He was still quite excited and wanted to walk ahead, but much of that was probably because was an excited puppy. But if you establish yourself as the leader every time you walk your dog, it works. I noticed it during just a few dog walks, so just imagine how effective it is when owners implement it consistently.
2. Tug the leash. One of the dogs I take care of gets pretty anxious when he walks near or next to other male dogs. He doesn’t get violent or try to attack them, but he’ll pull on his leash and bark at them. I’ve noticed that if I gently but firmly tug on his collar while making a loud “shh!” noise the moment he notices another dog, his agitation subsides. It helps him refocus, reminds him that I’m in charge and that he needs to follow me. Also, if you remain calm, your dog will too. I noticed that whenever I felt nervous at seeing another dog approach, he would also become nervous, which would set off his barking. But if I stayed calm and continued to walk confidently, he would follow me without hesitation. I practiced this several times and after awhile, I could tell the difference. Try it on your next walk if your dog is the easily agitated type. Remember to remain calm and assertive, and give him a gentle tug on his leash while making a clear definite sound when you first notice his anxiousness. Don’t tug too hard; just an assertive pull on his collar is sufficient. Repeat the tug as many times as you need to. You may have to do multiple pulls the first few times you practice this with your pooch, but the more you do it, the more he will get used to it, and the less trouble you will have.
3. Don’t get too excited. Have a dog that gets jumpy and enthusiastic the moment you walk through the door? I deal with this a lot as a dog walker, and admittedly it can be hard quell an overly excited pooch. But I noticed that if I stay calm and don’t respond to the dog’s jumping and excited behavior, he calms down. Usually I will gently but firmly push the dog off if he tries to jump on me when I enter the house, continue walking and let him follow me. It sounds a bit harsh to act so indifferent when you greet a dog, but it works. If I remained restrained, the dog realizes that there’s nothing to be excited about and he calms down relatively quickly. The moment he relaxes, I’ll pet him. This seems to reinforce this calmer behavior, and it has worked with several dogs that I’ve watched.
Whether you’re a dog owner, dog sitter or just spend a lot of time with dogs, try any or all of these tips. Again, I’m no expert; these are just techniques that have worked for me. It depends on the kind of dog you have and how often you employ them. But if they’ve worked for me, someone who is around dogs only occasionally, they could work very well for dog owners.
Our blogger Jessica explains why dognappings should be at the forefront of dog owners’ minds.
A recent NPR story is a great reminder to all that we keep our dogs safe and make safety a priority. We see our dogs as members of our families, but others sometimes view them as property with a high resale value. According to the American Kennel Club, dognapping has risen 49% in the United States during 2011. That boggles my mind! Aside from the cruelty of it all, I can’t imagine dogs are easy to traffic (“hey buddy, wanna buy a poodle?”). But if a crook thinks he or she can sell a dog, I guess that’s all the motivation needed. The NPR story is fairly general, but I believe there are two groups of “high-risk” dogs.
Expensive and Popular Breeds:
Expensive breeds: People will always pay top dollar for English Bulldogs, French Mastiffs, Great Danes, etc.
Trendy/popular breeds: Dalmatians aren’t an unusually expensive breed, but when Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” movie captured audiences, people wanted a Dalmatian of their own. Right now, I think “designer breeds” are tempting targets, including Puggles, Golden Doodles, Cockapoos, Labradoodles. If you throw an “oodle” at the end of the breed name, most likely the dog will sell.
Puppies are easier to handle than adult dogs; you would have to be really motivated to steal an unwilling Doberman. Besides, people are more likely to buy puppies than adult dogs, as any rescue organization can tell you.
In addition to dognappings, NPR overlooks an important factor. As dog owners, we have a responsibility to know where our dogs come from. Rescue organizations are fairly safe, but if you get your next dog through a private breeder, make sure it is legitimate. Any “breeder” with just one expensive puppy and no evidence of the parents could be considered suspect. “We just don’t have time for this puppy” is a great cover story for fencing stolen dogs. If possible, try to track down the original breeder to confirm you are NOT getting a stolen dog.
All in all, it is up to us as dog owners and lovers to be aware of dognappings and be sure to do our best to not take part in an illegitimate operation.