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Caring for Your Pets at Holiday Time

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 1:58:49 PM EST by Cam Day

Holidays are complicated when you have pets. What are you going to do with them? Do you take your pets with you or leave them behind? This car is packed for a good time

There are many effective and easy remedies you can choose when it comes to who should care for your pets when you are away on holiday.

I am sure you won't practice what some irresponsible holiday makers do. Some find a pet too much inconvenience and think nothing of  dumping their cat or dog before they go away.

Certainly leaving your pets unattended at home is also not an option. Such lonely animals often escape when the boredom of solitude hits. These stray pets often suffer injuries from accidents and they can become lost.

Of course most people are very responsible and want to ensure their pets are safe while they are away.

Can you take your pet with you?

Many folk couldn't bear to be without their pets when they go off for some rest and recreation. If you can take your pets with you then they will enjoy the change in routine as much as you.

Be careful if you are going camping and save embarrassment.  Many camping grounds are National Parks where pets are totally prohibited.

Look for a book produced by  Life - Be In It called Holidaying with your Dogs.  It lists a variety of camping grounds and accommodation alternatives which allow dogs.

There are also many farm-stay organisations which are very happy to allow you to take your pets.

Boarding Your Pet

If you are intending to book your dog or cat into a boarding kennel, then ensure you do so months before. Many boarding kennels and catteries book out for the Christmas and Easter holidays months in advance. Other holiday periods are almost as bad.

I always advise pet owners to view their pet's potential accommodation to ensure the facilities are clean and well managed. Boarding kennel owners are usually happy with this but you may have to arrange the visit with them beforehand. In a boarding kennel, there are certain times of the day when the owners cannot allow visitors through due to the potential of noise from the dogs barking and the disturbance visitors may cause to other scheduled duties.

If a kennel owner flatly refuses, then I would go elsewhere.

Home Visit Services

Several organisations offer a home visit service for pets. With such services, the pets are left at home and the care-giver visits during the day to feed and exercise the pets. They will water your plants and also provide other services. For pets with the right temperament, this is a good alternative.

However, be aware that your pet will still be alone for most of the day and many pets will not tolerate this. If your pet is very attached to you it may not be content if you are gone for a long period. Another alternative may be better.

House Sitters

Many folk will have a house-sitter stay in their home when they are away.  The pet stays in its home environment and that can be a very effective remedy.

The pets often enjoy the new face and the small change in routine.

Naturally, the house-sitter needs to have good credentials. I have friends who do this and it seems to work very well for the home owner and the house sitter.

A Holiday With Relatives

Alternatively, having your pets cared for at the home of a friend or relative is a good idea.

If this is your preference, check that the fences will prevent your pet escaping.

Why not take your pet to visit this friend a few times before the holiday so it can acquaint itself with their house and garden?

Identification is Vital

Lastly, no matter the system of care you use when you are on holiday, be sure to fully identify your pet with tags or a microchip. Should your pet roam while you are away, identification will assist in its return to you otherwise, you may never see it again.

Holiday Health Care

Remember that your pet will need to have its vaccinations up to date before being admitted into the kennels. For your pet's protection, its vaccinations should be given at least 10 days before the date of boarding as the vaccines won't cause immunity immediately.

While your veterinarian will advise more fully, a C5 vaccine covers your dog for both of the germs that can cause Canine Cough and those that cause Distemper, Parvovirus and Canine Hepatitis virus. Canine Cough is a contagious upper respiratory condition that can be a problem wherever dogs group together - especially in kennels.

For cats, the F3 vaccine is the minimum needed but you may also like to ask your vet about some of the new vaccines that are now available for diseases such feline leukaemia and feline AIDS.

This is also a good time to have your dog or cat wormed with an all-wormer tablet and to check that their heartworm preventative is up to date.

There are many alternatives for your dog's heartworm preventative, but my advice is to consider the Once-A-Year Heartworm Injection which you can have done at the same time that you have your pet's annual vaccinations.

Don't forget a bath or at least a good flea treatment is essential and if your pet is on medication of any sort, for example for arthritis or anxiety disorders, now is a good time to ensure you are well stocked with medication.

With a little forethought, you and your pets will have a happy holiday and you won't be dogged by the hassles that hound many others.

Back to Holiday Care Pet Pick

Easter Feast

Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 1:46:57 PM EST by Cam Day

Easter eggsEaster is just a few sleeps away with all the fun of the feast and, if your house is like mine, there will be chocolate eggs a plenty. And with every scrumptious egg being unwrapped, there will be a pooch or a puss with a 'Me too, please' expression on its  face.

Now, on occasion, you have to be cruel to be kind, and this is such an occasion. Chocolate and pets are not a good combination. Now a small piece will not cause any damage, but some impatient pets will plan a seek-and-destroy mission and will discover the stash of Easter eggs.  That's where problems will start.

Large amounts of chocolate can be dangerous for pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic.

If your dog eats too much chocolate, it could become over-excited and hyperactive. Due to the diuretic effect, it may pass large volumes of urine and it will be unusually thirsty. Vomiting and diarrhoea are also common but it is the effect of theobromine on your dog's heart that is the most dangerous.

Theobromine will either increase your dog's heart rate or may cause the heart to beat irregularly. Death is quite possible, especially if your dog exercises after the binge.

It is possible for a pet to eat a large quantity of chocolate and not show the effect for some hours afterwards. Death can occur within 24 hours.

Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous.


Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. A 10-kilogram dog can be seriously affected if it eats a quarter of a 250gm packet of cocoa powder or half of a 250gm block of cooking chocolate. These forms of chocolate contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate.

Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous. A dog needs to eat more than a 250gm block of milk chocolate to be affected. Obviously, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat.

The good news is that there are many other ways to help your pet celebrate Easter that don't rely on chocolate and that are a lot more fun for Pooch and Puss.

An Easter Bon-Bon

Easter bon-bon

Use a toilet roll core as an Easter bon-bon. For dogs, fill the core with sensible food treats, fold the ends over and wrap it in colourful paper. Let Pooch do the unwrapping because for dogs, that most of the fun.

Cats are a bit more restrained in their gluttony so rather than wrapping the bon-bon, fold just one end over and place some flavoursome treats inside. Allow the furry paw to explore the toiler roll core.

You can achieve the same with a tooth-paste carton and for big dogs, hide a raw, meaty bone inside a wrapped cereal box.

Frozen Gloup

For another Easter delight, start with an empty margarine container. Fill this will nutritious snacks such as dry food, some liver treats, maybe a chicken wing or an ox tail or a even a lump of teeth-flossing tough steak. Now the finishing touch - poor some vegemite broth or lactose-free milk (pets don't tolerate cow's mBeagle_puppy_whiteilk well) over the whole lot and freeze it!

Present that to your pooch for its Easter surprise and, while you might think the Gloup is revolting, your Pooch will love the puzzle of working out how to remove the goodies and the bone from inside the ice puzzle.

Chocolate Meat Balls

For those of you that cannot resist the temptation to give Pooch or Puss a small amount of chocolate, try this safe delight.

Roll a dessertspoon of raw mince into a ball and freeze it.  Now cover the whole frozen rissole with the milk-chocolate version of Ice Magic and when it sets, give that to your pets!!

They will think all their Christmases have come at Easter!  This small amount of chocolate is quite safe.

But if you want to be really safe, there are many carob-flavoured dog treats that your pooch will love.

Keep yourself safe over Easter!

More information

To Pet Nutrition Pet Pick

Other Poisonous Foods

Easter bon-bon

Eliminating Easter Escaping

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 1:30:50 PM EST by Cam Day

Banish Backyard Boredom this Easter

We ask much of our 21st century canines. We confine and constrict them to a minuscule morsel of mother earth in our back yards, thinking little of their yearning for the freedom of the open spaces that were once the provinces of their ancestors eons before.

We leave daily for work, always at the same time and always in the same manner, with Fido watching every repetitious move. The poor old pooch is left alone, day after day, in the same old back yard, in the same old way, at the same old time.

You probably take Fido for walks along the street, even on a daily basis. Fido will enjoy that for sure, but on your return, you discard Fido in the boring old back yard again. The street is interesting, stimulating and changing, associated with adventure, fun and excitement. The backyard is ..... dull, boring, routine and uniform, associated with the hum drum 'normalness' of life.  Nothing changes, nothing happens, no excitement occurs.

And some dogs even hate their back yard because of the traumas they have experienced.

Escaping from Back Yard Boredom Blues

Considering so many of us work 50 - 60 hour weeks, it is far from surprising that backyard boredom is an increasingly common ill with dogs. It is also not surprising that the wanderlust often strikes and Fido flees for the freedom of the fiords, to explore, have fun and to enrich his own lifestyle!

However, if you allow Fido such freedom, problems are bound to arise. Dogs which are allowed to roam usually Beagle_Pup_escaping-SMLhave a short life span and are never popular. They are often seriously maimed or killed by cars. They are commonly baited or shot because of the nuisance they cause and they often roam so far that they become lost or stolen, never to be seen again.

Good Fences Prevent Escaping

You have several solutions that you can utilise to prevent your dog from roaming the street.  The easiest and most obvious solution is to construct a fence that is secure enough to keep your dog in your own property and out of your neighbour's. However, you should also think about the boring nature of the backyard and do all you can to solve that problem and whether having the pet neutered will help.

A good fence will solve most problems and the rule the 'bigger the better' is a reasonable one.

'What not to use' is the first consideration. Chicken wire is not suitable for a dog enclosure as it is too weak and barbed wire should never be considered. Mesh with wide gaps is also a danger as a dog that has a need to escape can often stretch the mesh sufficiently to get its head and neck caught. The results are often very dangerous.

A chain mesh and pipe fence is the standard type of dog fence, and is probably the cheapest. It should have a tension wire at ground level to which you should securely attach the mesh, and another at the top. Ideally, you should install a horizontal pipe at the top of the fence as this will give additional strength.

A picket fence makes a good dog enclosure, especially as it partially obscures visual access to the street outside, thus reducing barking. However, there is a significant danger with picket fences. Dogs which try to jump fences often get their paws lodged between the pickets at the top of the fence. I have known dogs that have died from being caught in such fences when their owners were away. You can easily prevent this danger. All you need to do is to cover the gap between each picket at the top with a horizontal paling, running the entire length of the fence.

Special Fences for Ballistic Barkers

For dogs that are chronic barkers, a solid fence, usually a wooden one, is well worth consideration. The common 'good neighbour' fence is ideal.

Dedicated 'Pavarotti Pooches' also benefit by being secured away from the boundary fence  facing the main cause of  barking. This is usually, but not always, the street. Such fences commonly extend from the side of the house, leaving a dog-free front garden and a doggy back yard. Having achieved this, enriching the back yard environment is very important. This is discussed later. When distanced from the continual stimuli of the street, many previously noisy dogs become surprisingly quiet and peaceful.

Fences for Escaping Experts

Some dogs are so intent on escaping that they will do all they can to find a weak portion of a fence. If they can't find one, they will create it.

Sad_dog_at_fence-SMLThe problem with such dogs is that the more they escape, the more they are reinforcing their own behaviour. For such dogs, the escaping routine can be very difficult to solve.

For such dogs, a secure fence is vital. A concrete footing at the bottom of the fence is easy to construct and will prevent the dog from digging under the fence to escape. It is ideal if you bury the bottom of the fence in the cement, or for pipe and mesh fences, if you can place a horizontal footing pipe just above the concrete footing.

The best dog fence by far is a solid wooden fence, where the horizontal supporting beams are on the opposite sides of the fence to where the dog is housed. Many dogs are able to use the horizontal beams as a ladder to help them get over the fence.

For those escape artists that jump or climb the fence, sometimes making the fence higher is not the answer as they still manage to jump or climb. The best solution is to construct a 'lean-too' section on top of the fence. This is an attachment, angled at forty-five degrees and facing inwards. You can construct this easily by attaching angled steel to each post and placing chain netting between each angled section.

The effect is that the dog cannot climb the fence due to the angled section, and cannot jump the fence because of the appearance of width the fence now has.

For human safety, ensure that the angled sections are above head height.

More information

Does Neutering Have any Effect on Escaping Behaviour?

 Neutering male dogs is an important consideration. One study has shown that, in 90 percent of entire male dogs, roaming is solved after castration. This is because roaming is often induced, at least initially, by the attractive scent of female dogs on heat in the neighbourhood. The territorial perception male dogs develop by urine marking trees and posts while roaming is also important. The more they roam, the more they mark and thus the more they perceive the neighbourhood as their owned territory.

Relieving Backyard Boredom

The routine nature of a suburban dog's life, as discussed earlier, is a modern day ill. For barking and escaping dogs, providing an enriched lifestyle in the backyard is vital.

Honey sitting with the WobblerOn a daily basis, you should play with your dog in your backyard by giving it daily aerobic exercise, 'brain work' or mental stimulation and also giving welcome cuddles and companionship. This is a formal program I call the ABC's Technique and is available here.

Briefly, throwing Frisbees and balls in the backyard is good and just running and jumping with your dog is good exercise for both of you.

I often advise my clients to use a special dog toy called a Kong Ball. The ball bounces unpredictably and resists a dog's chewing too. It has a hole in the middle in which small amounts of food can be placed to create even more interest. 

But what's better than the normal Kong is the KONG Wobbler. This one is hugely popular, and is weighted on the bottom so that when your dog knocks the toy over to get a treat, the Wobbler bounces straight back up into the standing position popping out food treats at the same time.

Free express post delivery on Kong Wobblers for  short time.

Brain work involves a fun training routine in which you teach your dog to do different things for no reason other than for fun. Teach it to walk along balance beams, to climb over garden furniture and other obstacles, to roll over, crawl and to 'play dead'. Also encourage your dog to play 'hide and seek'. For this game you place your dog in a 'down and stay' position and encourage it to 'seek' you, other members of your family or even tidbits of food hidden around the back yard.

Have you seen our No Bored Dogs Routine yet?  We have developed many cheap cheats to help with boredom relief. More information on that here.

Some Escaping is Abnormal

Some escaping has nothing to do with boredom.  In our world as behaviourist, we see dogs escaping because they are suffering from mood disorders. The commonest of those are separation anxieties, separation panic disorders and noise phobias.  Some escaping behaviour is best described as cause by back yard ghosts.

If your dog is distressed while he or she is trying to escaping that's something you should never ignore. Contact us for advice on that or jump the queue and book a behaviour consultation online here.

Remember, escaping behaviour can be a fatal condition.

A Carton of Magic

Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 12:59:51 PM EST by Cam Day

The pet-toy market is flooded with so many different types and makes of toys. So it can be difficult to choose the right one.

But have you ever considered making your own dog toy using standard throw-away items you would normally put in your recycling bin!

That's where the Carton of Magic routine comes in!

How Can a Milk Carton Provide Hours of Fun for a Pet?

There is one gift for a pet that is the cheapest and best of them all. It's one that you have already but I bet you don't realise its value - the milk carton!

A milk carton, plastic or cardboard, is magic for dogs, cats and even for birds.

The Daily Rabbit

For instance, try the Daily Rabbit for an entrée. 

What self-respecting wolf ever eats its meal from a stainless steel bowl? Their 'daily rabbit' appears at random and the wolf delightfully chases the rabbit, catches it and eats the poor little bunny.

There is a way to mimic that without risking the welfare of any small critter. Use a milk carton with a hole in the side. 

VIEW A VIDEO OF THIS ROUTINE HERE

 So, take a one or two-litre plastic milk carton and, using a knife and a sturdy pair of scissors, cut a nose-sized hole in the side about half way up. Smooth the edges of this cut surface by running a flame from a match quickly around rim.

Now, place a small quantity of your dog's dry food inside the milk carton and give it to your pooch just before you leave for work. Pooch will be perfectly puzzled trying to work out how to get the snack out of the carton.

This mimics the natural tendency of a dog to want to eat their prey animal such as it's Daily Rabbit.

To answer a common question - no this does not cause a dog to develop aggression to small furry animals!

You can do the same for cats, and even for a pet bird such as a Cockatoo.  Alter the size of the hole to suit the size of the pet.

Carton of Magic Extreme

Two and three litre milk cartons can also be made into exciting brain expanders for dogs and cats by hanging them from the rafters of your Pagoda or the beams under your house.

Run a dog lead through the handle of the milk carton by placing the clip end through the hand loop, tighten the loop around the handle of the milk carton then attach the clip to a strong bungee cord or a tension spring that you can purchase for a few dollars from a hardware store.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

The KONG WobblerKONG Wobbler

The KONG company are famous for their brain-expanding toys but they have really excelled themselves with the KONG Wobbler. 

The Wobbler can replace your dog's food bowl and exercise your dog's bored brain in an instant.

We regard the Wobbler as being one of the best behavioural toys currently available.

More Details Here

Paw Propellor

For cats, make a Paw Propeller. Using a milk carton again, stretch a rubber band from the cap to the base and in the middle of the rubber band secure a paddle-pop stick like a propeller so that is just wide enough to catch on the edge of the bottle. Wind up the rubber band and when puss places a paw inside the hole, its paw is likely to activate a few turns to the 'propeller'. That'll keep it guessing.  

The Cunning Carton Cruncher

The Carton Cruncher is another alternative. Place dry food inside a cardboard milk carton with a hole in one side or you can also employ a toothpaste box for small dogs and cats or a cereal box for the big dogs. A toilet roll core is also useful - put food treats inside and fold the ends over like a bon-bon.

Would you like a sneaky way to feed your cats during the day? Try the Tricky Bickie Feeder. Get a one-litre plastic milk carton and cut a 20-cent-sized hole in the bottom edge. Fill the carton with dry biscuits but include a small number of highly flavoured dry treats such as Whiskas Cravers, to add some interest. Secure the bottle upright with a rubber band looped onto a chair leg or similar.

The Perplexed Puss will soon work out that a paw placed inside the hole will scoop out some biscuits. As it learns the technique, make the task slightly more difficult by cutting a small 'door' in the bottom rather than a hole. Make the hinge of the 'door' at the bottom, so that when puss pulls at the door, the spring effect is likely to shoot a biscuit or two into the air.  Puss will be happy!

The Sneaky Leaky Milk Carton

For dogs and cats that are bored during the day, the Sneaky Leaky Milk Carton is a devious treasure.  Use a drawing pin to place a hole in the bottom of a milk carton. It will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes for 250 millilitres of water to leak out of this hole. Place the leaking milk carton on the end of a DVD case high on a ledge where your dog or cat can't get to it. Now place a Milk Muncher or a Carton Cruncher on the other end of the ruler. When enough water leaks out, the leaking bottle will be too light to counter the weight of the gift on the end and the gift will then be delivered to your delighted pet.  

Bucket of Fun

And now for the Bucket of Fun. Make a Sneaky Leaky Milk Carton from a two or three litre milk bottle - one with a handle on the side. Tie a two the three metre length of nylon washing line to the handle and run the line though a pulley secured to a beam on the roof of your pagoda. On the other end of the line, suspend an ice-cream bucket at head height. (The metal clasp from a dog lead serves nicely as a pulley.) Now place some food treats, a bone or your pet's favourite toy in the bucket. In the leaking carton, place 250 millilitres of water to act as a counter-balance. When enough water leaks out, the heavier bucket will slide down to the ground, thus delivering the day's delights to the pooch.  

Water Treat

The Water Treat is also a useful idea. If you want to be sure your dog's water is always fresh, fill a two litre milk carton with fresh water and place a hole, the size of a knitting needle, three to four centimetres from the bottom of the milk carton. Be sure the cap is secured. Place the carton into the dog's water bowl and secure it upright to a post on your deck or pagoda with a belt or rope. When your dog drinks the water below the level of the hole, air will be allowed inside the carton and water will leak out until the hole is covered again.

When using a milk carton, safety is important. Where necessary, remove the lid of the milk carton and the plastic sealing ring in case you pooch tries to swallow it. Be sure the size of any hole you make is not large enough for your pet to get its head stuck inside!  Also, don't use any of these techniques if your pet is likely to chew and then swallow bits of the plastic.

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