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What's the Difference between Cats and Dogs?

Posted: Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 11:55:58 AM EST by Cam Day

What's the Difference between Cats and Dogs?

Why is it so difficult to train a cat to COME or to SIT - a behaviour which a dog learns with ease?

Your dog learns this in five minutes but it could take you five weeks or more to do the same with your cat.

Nevertheless, cats will learn to use a litter tray with almost no training but to train a small dog to do the same takes more persistence than most owners can invest.

The reason for such differences is that 'what's important' to dogs is not the same as it is for cats. For a start, dogs are group animals and cats are not.

Dogs are social, gregarious creatures and are most content in a pack situation. For pet dogs, the most important pack members are usually their owners and owners who provide proper leadership for their dogs are usually viewed as pack leaders. This is the reason why dogs left alone during their owners' working hours commonly develop separation anxieties even to the extent that, when several dogs share the same household, one can still develop a severe separation anxiety in its owner's absence that is not solved by the presence of its canine buddies.

Leadership is not the same as dominance. Leadership is a compassionate, progressive process based on reward-based training. Dominance infers aggressive encounters and is mostly based on punishment-based techniques.

What's important though, is that a dog's attachment is to its group and much less to its territory. For example, a dog taken to his or her owner's work place to be with its owners will be just as happy as when it is at home. By comparison, a cat taken to its owner's workplace is usually very fearful and anxious.

Why does this difference exist?

Cats are not, generally, gregarious and do not develop strong pack structures where leadership is an important function. Wild or feral cats are mostly solitary creatures, hunting alone. While they will form groups, this is more a sharing of a common territory than the establishment of a cohesive pack.  Cats are extremely territorial and, when fights over territory occur, the result is that the loser learns to avoid that successor but not to leave the territory. Leaving the territory only occurs if aggressive encounters continue.

A Cat's Attachment is to Its Territory

So a cat's attachment is to its territory not to its group. How often have you heard the turmoils of a cat owner attempting to establish his or her cat in a newCats attachment is to its territory. home which is in the same neighbourhood as the old home? Commonly, the cat will return to the old home repeatedly.

So, dogs learn from observing and interacting with other pack members to which they are bonded. For wild dogs, such as wolves, the interactions generate a cohesive pack that hunts together successfully. Similarly, dogs learn by interacting with, and being close to, their owners. Thus, when reward-based therapies are utilised by owners for behaviours that 'group the pack' such as 'COME' (closer) and 'SIT' (close to me) - the dogs respond readily. It's part of their innate behavioural coding.

For cats, that's just not important.

Wolf cubs also learn what behaviours to avoid by the growls and snaps received from higher-ranking pack members, so punishment can be effective as a training tool but rarely will punishment drive a wolf cub away from the pack - the lure of group dynamics is just too strong. For this reason, a dog continually punished by its owners shows appeasement behaviours where the dog is effectively saying 'don't hit me again'. Sadly, most people assume this is 'guilt' response and the punishment continues.

Punishment should be avoided. When your dog does something 'wrong' look for the 'invisible' behaviour - the one your dogs should be showing in that situation.

Then create that, reward it, and then re-create the same behaviour several times. That way the wanted behaviour will grow and the unwanted behaviour will wilt.

There is another difference between cats and dogs. Cats live in a three-dimensional world because they can jump and climb, whereas dogs exist more in two dimensions. So the concept of 'flight or fight' becomes important.

Cats climb to hunt and to escape. Dogs can't do this well so hunting mostly requires a pack to be effective. For the same reason, dogs use assertive forms of aggression (fight) because flight is more difficult. By comparison, cats tend to develop flight responses to harmful stimuli because they are agile enough to escape.

What does all this mean?

To establish the correct pack environment at home, an owner should provide his or her dog with proper leadership.

Cats are more attached to their territory than their group, so provision of a secure and comfortable territory is more important to them. Food provided helps!

Dogs learn readily when leaders do things that enhance attachment (such as the 'COME' command).

Dogs will learn from punishment but it confuses them.

Cats don't learn from punishment - they avoid the source, for example their owners.

Achieving behaviour change with cats is often a compromise - find out what the cat wants, provide it first and then try to progressively change the established behaviour to fit your needs.

Despite all of the above, the real difference between cats and dogs can be summarised easily; 'My dog looks at all the things we provide for her and says to herself  'You must be God'.

My cat looks at all the things I provide for him and says to himself 'I must be God'.


 

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Brain Games for Smart Puppies

Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014 at 5:07:59 PM EST by Cam Day

Brain Games for Smart Puppies

How clever is your puppy?  Do you think you have a Canine Einstein or does your pooch have an IQ that is surpassed by that of a plank of wood?

There are many canine IQ tests in books and many appear on the internet and because of breed differences and testing variables, it could well be impossible to create a scientifically valid IQ test for dogs - but who cares? It's fun seeing how inventive your pooch can be.

You will note that, in some of these tests your pup's body length is used to standardise test distances used with each assessment. This is an attempt to cater for pups of different sizes and to give better consistency with the results.


Set Up and Qualification

  1. Mark a 'start' line on the ground by using a piece of chalk or similar.

  2. Measure the distance of your puppy from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail (where the tail joins the spine) and ask your assistant to hold your dog four puppy-lengths from the start line.

  3. Let your puppy smell its favourite food treat, then place the treat on the ground on the start line. Encourage your pup to 'SEEK' the treat. Repeat three times.

  4. If your pup picks up the food each time within five seconds, your pup has proven it is a pig and has thus qualified to compete in the test!!!


Test 1 - Toilet roll turmoil

You will need three toilet-roll cores, a small quantity of food treats or liver treats and an assistant (and your dog!).

  1. Place the three toilet roll cores, side by side, on the start line.         

  2. Place one food treat in the centre of one of the toilet roll cores.

  3. Your assistant releases the puppy as you encourage it to 'SEEK' the food.

  4. Use a stop watch to time how long it takes your pup to retrieve the treat from inside the toilet-roll core. Start timing at the moment your pup crosses the start line.

Repeat three times, noting the time for each.

Download a video of this test  6MB MPEG


Test 2 - The Puppy Cup

This test is similar to Toilet Roll Turmoil except that the pup can see the food, not smell the food. It is a more difficult test.

For this test you will need three disposable see-through plastic cups of the type commonly available from supermarkets for party supplies.

1.   Place the three cups, side by side, on the start line.

2.   Let your pup see you place a food treat under one of the cups.

3.   Your assistant releases the puppy as you encourage it to 'SEEK' the food.

4.   Use a stop watch to time how long it takes your pup find and then to retrieve the treat from under the cup. Start timing at the moment your pup crosses the start line.

Repeat three times, noting the time for each.


Test 3 - In the News

For this test you will need several sheets of newspaper and your dog's favourite food treat.

Teaching the Routine

  1. Place a sheet of newspaper opened flat on the ground on the start line. Have your pup held by your assistant.Small Lab White Pup

  2. Drop or place a food treat in the middle of the piece of the newspaper and use the word 'SEEK' to encourage your pup to get the food. Repeat three times

  3. This will teach your pup to expect a find a food treat on the newspaper.

Testing Your Pup

  1. Now place the food treat in the centre of the newspaper but fold the newspaper in half to hide the treat.

  2. Again encourage your pup to 'SEEK' the food treat and time his or her attempt starting at the moment the pup crosses the start line.

Repeat three times, noting the time for each.


Test 4 - Carton Quiz

For this test, you will need a clean three-litre plastic milk carton. Cut a large, round, oval hole in one side of the carton, essentially cutting out the label. Do this by inserting a sharp knife into the side of the carton to create a slit and then insert a pair of scissors into the slit to cut the hole. Be sure there are no sharp edges on the rim of the hole. 

Teaching the Routine

  1. Place the carton on the ground, cut surface down on the starting line.puppy_jack_russel_white200

  2. Place a food treat onto the surface of the carton and encourage your pup to 'SEEK' the food treat.

  3. Repeat three times to teach the new routine.

Testing Your Pup

  1. Now stand the carton vertically with the cut surface facing away from the pup.

  2. Place a food treat inside the carton and encourage your pup to 'SEEK' the food treat.

  3. Time your pup's attempt but don't distract the pup with your laughing!

Repeat three times, noting the time for each.


Test 5 - Hide and Sneaky

For this test you need yourself, an assistant and your pup.

Teaching the Routine

  1. Your assistant holds your pup at the end of your hallway.

  2. Walk off into your bedroom and hide behind your bed.

  3. Call your pup enthusiastically and when your delighted pup finds you, praise it and give it a food treat. 

Repeat three times.

Testing Your Pup

  1. Now hide in a different location in your bedroom such as in your wardrobe.

  2. Call your pup.

  3. Use a stop watch to determine how long it takes your pup to find you in the new location.

Repeat three times, noting the time for each.


How Clever is Your Pup?

Now let's determine if your pooch has the intellect of a Canine Einstein or door mat on a bad hair day!

For each test, take the fastest score of your three measurements. You will have five scores.  Add them together to get an overall score.

Overall score below 15 seconds - You have a Canine Einstein. Contact the Guinness Book of World Records for inclusion in the next edition!

Overall score between 15 and 25 seconds.

Your pooch is a Mensa Mutt. Enroll him or her at University - it's a scholar.

Overall score between 25 and 35 seconds.

You have a normal pet with normal intelligence. Give it a big hug.

Overall score between 35 and 60 seconds.  

Well cerebral dexterity may not be its strong point but it has enough intelligence to find a food bowl at 10 paces and that's all life requires!

Overall score longer than 60 seconds.

You were testing the door mat. Now repeat the test with a real dog.

Panic Disorders in Dogs – The Ghosts of Traumas Past

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 2:31:03 PM EST by Cam Day

Panic disorders in dogs

The 'ghosts of traumas past'

In the last two weeks I have seen some interesting panic disorders in dogs, all of which have had the theme of ‘back yard scary ghosts’.

What is a panic disorder?

A panic disorder is the ugly parent of an anxiety disorder and is easily recognised. (More information)

Panicking dogs show severe signs of distress and almost always include:-

  • hyperventilation
  • trembling
  • excessive salivation
  • hypervigilance and hyperactivity
  • dilated pupils
  • posturing signals of ears being tucked back, tail tucked  and tenseness of facial musculature.

If the owners are present, the dogs usually demonstrate profound comfort seeking (which is different from attention seeking) usually by

  • climbing onto the owner’s lap
  • nuzzling
  • distressed vocalising
  • frantic clawing of the owners.

If the owners are absent, the dogs will often attempt to escape from the area they are confined in (usually the garden or backyard) or will try to ‘inscape’ into the home. The damage to fences or to back doors can be immense.

This is an attempt to flee from the ‘ghost’ causing the trauma.

But it’s the damage the dogs do to themselves that distresses the owners.

Sometimes the ‘ghostly cause’ is obvious – thunderstorms and firework events are common traumas. However, in many cases the cause is not at all obvious and impossible to determine.

The latter we call ‘back yard panic disorders’ because we don’t know the ghost that’s causing the problem.

Here is an interesting case study  that will help if your dog is showing signs of panic.

Molly - back yard panic disorder of unknown originstaffordshireterriers

Molly is a 5 year old purebred Staffordshire Bull Terrier living on an acreage property with another male Staffordshire Bull Terrier of the same age. The owners are retired and mostly home.

The dogs are allowed to free-roam the property at night via an always-open dog door.

Molly’s panic is nocturnal only starting at about 1am.

During this time she comes into the owner’s bedroom and practices extensive comfort-seeking with clawing of the owners to wake them up. At such times she is hyperventilating, hypervigilant and inconsolable.

This behaviour started suddenly, three weeks before the consultation.  For years previously she has not demonstrated this behavioural problem. The panic did not occur during the day and was not shown by her in-contact Staffordshire Terrier.

So, what was the cause?

Simply put, we don’t know.

The features are that Molly is allowed garden access during the night, the panic disorder is only expressed at night and it started suddenly rather than being of slow and gradual onset.

So a ‘ghost of the night’ is affecting the dog and it appeared to be of a traumatic origin.

While there could be many causes,  our thoughts were mostly centred around interactions with nocturnal wildlife and particularly snakes.  Carpet pythons were known to be present.

A diagnosis of a post-traumatic panic disorder was made.

Treatment

In the absence of a defined cause, the dogs were prevented from accessing the garden at night to determine if the ‘ghost of the night’ was a ‘garden ghost’ or an ‘inside the house ghost’.

The dog was already being treated with routine doses of two different anti-anxiety medications.

An Adaptil diffuser was added to the bedroom to provide additional comfort.

The owners were asked to ring to report progress in 7 days and at 14 days.

Follow up

At 7 days, the owners reported a complete cessation of the nocturnal panic which occurred from the first night of confinement.  Caming medication was being used nightly.

Because we were not convinced the nightly calmative was needed, that was stopped at this time. The second anti-anxiety medication was continued.

At 14 days the owner reported the panic disorder was eliminated apart from one minor issue of attention seeking on one night which was easily diverted.

A plan was implemented to review the need for the second anti-anxiety medication and the Adaptil in eight weeks but in the interim the owners were planning to test some garden access at night to see if the problem re-occurred with that change.

Conclusion

For this case the cause of the trauma is unknown. The concept of testing if the trauma was garden-related or ‘inside-the-house’ related was considered important.

If the panic had continued with night-time in-house confinement, further investigations would be needed to determine if there was a cause. Common ‘inside the house’ causes are high-pitched burglar alarms and smoke alarms and also home invasions. However none of those seemed to be the cause in this case.

We therefore concluded the trauma was an unknown event that occurred in the garden only.

We have a similar case we have just started working with involving a Staffordshire Terrier cross with panic-related escape behaviour. It is likely this dog is suffering repeated bite wounds from backyard insects. We are three weeks into the remedy and the dogs is remarkably better - likley the problem has now resolved. The remedy was as simple as using insect repellant.

More information

Anxiety disorders in dogs
Noise phobias in dogs
Escaping behaviour
Separation Anxiety

How to get good behaviour from your dog

Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:49:10 PM EST by Cam Day

howling_dog_200How to get good behaviour from your dog

From Imperfect Pooch to Canine Einstein 

"My dog doesn't do a thing I tell him. He jumps all over me and is constantly annoying me with his pawing and nuzzling for attention. And he drives me crazy with his barking - no matter how much I yell at him, he doesn't obey."

I hear complaints like this continually but, by following a few simple strategies, your dog will soon be a canine Einstein.


All you have to do is to:-

  • Talk Like a Dog and convert your 'English' concepts into 'Doglish' language
  • Use the Two Command Rule and the lure of the liver treat rattle to stop unnecessary English
  • Ensure you are consistent
  • And roll it all together in the Circle of Commands, a speed-teaching system which you can use to teach your dog all it needs to know in the shortest possible time.

Talk Like a Dog

Talking to your dog in language it understands is the first step. So many dog owners berate their dogs with a cascade of ineffective English words. 

'Come over here, Rover, come on, good boy, come here now, come on, Rover. What is wrong with you - come -come on - come - good dog. Why don't you ever listen to me, Rover?'

The words are background music and mean nothing to your dog. That's because you are talking in 'English'.

The 'Talk Like a Dog' Principle refers to the use of a COMMANDING voice to get a dog to do something.

This is a firm but pleasant voice but it's best to consider the words as 'mini dog barks' rather than English language.  So, your 'English' words then have a 'Doglish' accent!

For instance if you want your dog to come to you, use the word COME but  make it a short, sharp, almost 'spitty' sound rhyming more with the word DRUM than, for instance, the word HOME. 

Then you need to reward its response.

To do that, you should use the GOOD DOG voice which is much higher and very joyful. For some dogs, the GOOD DOG voice is better done as a whisper which in many cases has a calming effect on an over-active dog.  Either way, said correctly your English words, to your dog, will sound like puppy squeaks!  That's good!  That's 'Doglish'.

Here's a cheat!  rattle a liver treat container and you will suddenly become so much more attractive to your dog.  That rattle is 100% 'Doglish'  - no more vague English imprecision!


Here's another trick of the trade - the 'Laser-Lock SIT'.

Whenever you command COME - almost always you should finish that with a SIT.

But not a normal SIT.

You need to create the Laser-Lock sit where your dog:-

  • Sits for five seconds...
  • Looking laser-like at the liver treat in your fingers...
  • And you are silent.....
  • Until the end of the five seconds when you praise your dog for a further 5 seconds with a soft 'puppy-squeak' voice (Doglish revisited)
  • And then give your normal 'ok to eat it' word which for us is the word SEEK. 
  • You can then either throw the liver treat along the floor or place it into your dog's mouth.

That Laser-Lock focuses the main reward on you and your voice and the liver treat is a bit of 'sloppy desert' which you throw away.

You are the main focus, not the food.

laser-lock-sit-one-dog laser-lock-sit-two-dogs
Laser-Lock Sit One Dog Laser-Lock Sit Two-Dogs


If you need to punish your dog - then pause.

Most people over-use punishment and the less you use it the better you will be.

If you need to use voice punishment then use the BAD DOG voice which is deep, dark and loud, but punishment is NEVER to be encouraged. It confuses dogs and cripples their ability to learn.

If you are finding you are using the Bad Dog voice more than the Good Dog voice then you need help as your imperfect pooch is not getting your message and you are using the wrong techniques.



The Two Command Rule

Now that your voice is toned and terrific, you need to use the Two Command Rule. Simply put, when you want your dog to respond to you, expect is to Commands for good behaviourrespond to the first command.

If necessary drop to your second and last command BUT don't ever get to the third request.

For instance, if you want your dog to come to you, issue the command COME, using the commanding voice. Wait five seconds to TEST your dog's response.

What happens?  Either your dog comes to you - or it doesn't. It's simple because now you only have TWO roads to travel.

If it is coming, finish with a SIT and then praise it with the GOOD DOG voice. Then do a series of Sequential Rewards (see later).

If it is not coming rattle a liver treat container as you command COME and your pooch is so much more likely to respond.

Thus, you have used the Two Command Rule to gently show your improper Pooch there is a limit to a non-response.

Using the Two Command Rule like this, the dog is gently encouraged to comply and you set a definite boundary to its non-response.

To really tone up the grey matter now do a series of Sequential Rewards.

Having won the first COME and SIT, your dog may not be totally focused on you.

So, fix it.

Do a series of COME - SIT - GOOD DOG! sequences by just walking a short three to five steps after each sequence.

COME - SIT - GOOD DOG! - 5 steps - COME - SIT - GOOD DOG! -5 steps -COME - SIT - GOOD DOG! -5 steps- COME - SIT - GOOD DOG! -5 steps -COME - SIT - GOOD DOG!.

At the end of  a sequence of rewards like that, your dog is much more likely to have the YOU focus rather than THE THING THAT CAUSED THE BAD BEHAVIOUR focus. 

The Sequential Rewards also mean that your dog is being rewarded for a sequence of good behaviours rather than the old fashioned focus of punishing your dog for just one bad behaviour.


Precision Timing 

Using perfect timing is also essential to stop your dog doing something you don't want it to do. Taking action immediately a behaviour start brings the end of the behaviour up to the beginning and the problem middle bit evaporates.

For example, as soon as your dog issues the first WOOF, immediately command your dog to be QUIET.  Don't wait for the second, third or fourth woof as you will then be allowing the middle of the behaviour to develop.

But that's not the important bit. After getting silence - reward a more appropriate behaviour.

Mostly that's a COME and then SIT.


Be Persistently Consistent 

Now we can really tighten things up by ensuring consistency. If every occurrence of a behaviour is corrected (correctly), the behaviour will disappear. For instance, if your dog barks ten times per day, reward silence every time and get ten out of ten.

However, some behaviours occur too frequently for every incidence to be won in every case. In this case, Cone Down on the problem.

That means that you shouldn't allow the behaviour (such as barking) to occur when you can't deal with it.

Alternatively, set up two sessions per day, say one in the morning and one in the evening,  when its suits you to deal with the behaviour and when ALL occurrences will be corrected.

For barking, perhaps you should only allow your imperfect pooch near the front fence twice per day when you are with it to correct it and keep it inside with you when you are not wanting to deal with the behaviour. 


The Circle of Commands  

The circle of CommandsThe last piece of this good behaviour jigsaw is to train your dog the meaning of the words you use to stop unwanted behaviour when it is not doing the unwanted behaviour.

Using barking as an example again, if you want your dog to COME and SIT instead of running at the fence and barking, why pick on it when you have the problem and you are likely to fail? 

Instead, take your dog to the fence when there are no bark-inducing stimuli present and train it to respond. To do this, use the Circle of Commands.

 

 

  1. Firstly, throw a food treat towards the fence and command your dog to SEEK the food treat.
  2. As it is doing this, walk off a few paces.
  3. When it gobbles the food, command COME and then SIT.
  4. Your dog is very likely to respond because of the food.
  5. Then repeat the circle again - SEEK - COME - SIT. 

This is just another version of the Sequential rewards.

It should only take you five minutes to repeat this circle fifteen times in the morning. Repeat the sequence again in the evening. That makes thirty times a day you are practicing perfect behaviour control of your previously wayward pooch.

NOW do that for seven days. Do your maths. That make 210 repetitions of a perfect routine. This is speed teaching

How many dog owners would EVER think about teaching their dogs to be perfect 210 times per week. NONE - except for you!!

Using the Circle of Commands, you are picking on your dog at times when it is calm and concentrating and, therefore, when it is able to learn.

Trying to correct a behaviour when the dog is immersed in the emotion of the behaviour is picking on it when it is freaky and frantic and when it has very little ability to learn.

The Circle of Commands is a valuable tool that can be applied to many problem behaviours including aggression, attention seeking, boisterousness and bossy behaviours.

The Circle of Commands is also part of the Leave Routine - a routine I use regularly for problem behaviour management.

Information on the Leave Routine is contained in another facts sheet.

So, getting good behaviour from dogs involves using the correct voice, consistently and as soon as the behaviour is about to begins. Couple this with the Circle of Commands and your dog will soon be a Canine Einstein.

More information for well-behaved pooches:

Dog training pet pick
Talk Like a Dog

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How to do surveillance on pets

Posted: Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 8:59:05 PM EST by Cam Day

How to do surveillance on pets

and how to spy on your pets when you are not home

catlookingoutwindow200Spying on your pets when you are not home is not only interesting and fun, but it's also very useful if you are researching 'home-alone' behaviours.

Spying on your pets allows you to determine when, where and how often unwanted behaviour occurs. It also allows you to determine the other side of the argument - when, where and how often wanted behaviours are occurring.

That means you can amplify the wanted behaviours and dilute the unwanted ones.

Because we have found some excellent free or low-cost means of spying on your pets, you can found out all you need about your pet's home-alone behaviour by following the links that appear below.

Barking and excessive vocalisation when you are not home

One of the main reasons pet owners need to spy on their pets is because they have received complaints from their neighbours or their local council about their dog's excessive barking.howling_dog_200

In Australia there used to be legal limits to how much barking is allowed. While this has now changed, most Councils still use the '6 minutes per hour' guide as a yardstick. The details for the Brisbane City Council can be found here.

Councils usually consider barking a nuisance if it occurs for more than:

  • six minutes in any hour between 7am and 10pm on any day 
  • three minutes in any 30 minute period between 10pm and 7am on any day 

You should not regard that as being a defined limit because most Councils will favour neighbours if they have special needs such as shift workers or those will illnesses that require adequate rest.

Behaviourally and considering the welfare of pet dogs, we always advise dog owners to limit their dog's barking to:-

  • two minutes per hour of 'normal' barking
  • one minute per hour for vocalisation that involves distress such as howling, crying or screaming.

Mostly that's achievable when the reasons for the barking are determined.

Solving Other Home-Alone Behaviours

airedalechewingonboot75You will also be interested in measuring your pet's home-alone behaviours if your pet suffers from:-

  • separation-related problems
  • noise phobias
  • escaping and roaming behaviours
  • destructive behaviours
  • inter-dog aggression that occurs when you are away
  • self-injurious compulsive behaviours

Measuring your dog's distress or alternatively, his or her contentment while you are away can greatly speed the cures of such home-alone hassles.

Contents of the next page (membership required)

The Following Magic Methods Include :

1. Simple Spying Strategies

2. Sound-Activated Recorders

3. Webcam Software

4. Mobile Phone Surveillance

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Heat stress in pets

Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 2:42:50 PM EST by Cam Day
 

Hot Dogs and Cool Cats

Preventing Heat Stress in Pets

We have wonderful weather in this Sunshine State in Australia and over the holiday period we are likely to be out and about more with our pets.

However, the sunshine can cause another state - heat stress.  You need to be careful that you don't put your pets at risk over the next few months.

Helping your pet to keep its cool this summer is vital and there are some 'tricks of the trade' that will help you to do just that.

The Basics - Shade and WaterProvide water aplenty

Stating the obvious, be sure your pets have adequate shade and water.

Water bowls should be emptied and refilled at least once a day.

When the weather is hot as it is now, provide twice the number  of water bowls.

Be sure the water bowls cannot be tipped over - placing a clean rock in the bowl may help with that.

The water bowls need to be in the shade.

Cats love running water - consider a table-top fountain available from hardware stores but watch the hygiene of these as there is no filter.

Better still buy a Drinkwell Pet Fountain for them.

  • If your pet is outside be certain it has adequate shade in a breezy spot. 
  • If you have a caged bird ensure its cage is not in the direct sunlight as the day wears on.

The Hair of the Dog

It's easy for us to shed unwanted clothes in summer but not so easy for long-haired dogs and cats to shed their coats.

Having your pet clipped now is a good idea and there are many grooming parlours around town that will do the job for you.

Most pets are shedding their coats at this time of year and daily grooming to remove unwanted hair will make your pet more comfortable and will help it to shed excess heat.

Grooming aids, such as Slicker brushes, that are designed to strip loose hair from your pet's coat, can be found at your pet shop and veterinary surgery.

A Cool Abode

It is essential that your pets have adequate shade to rest in at this time of year. It's the afternoon sun that's the killer and therefore you should ensure that a shady spot is provided on the eastern side of your house so that the house itself provides shade. Kennels on the western side are nothing but hot boxes.

The coolest area in your home is underneath the house, and thankfully our Queenslander and Colonial houses provide just the spot for a pet's afternoon snooze.

This is the spot where your pet's water bowls (more than one) should be situated so that they remain cool.

Icy Solutions

To help your pet keep its cool while you are at work, provide some frozen treats for it.

It's a good idea to freeze a cup or two of water and place them in your dog's water bowl in the morning to keep the water cool.

Also, in a plastic lunch box, margarine container or similar, make a nutritious soup by placing a pet multivitamin mixture into some Vegemite broth. Then throw in some chunks of fresh meat, some liver treats and a few veges and freeze the whole lot.

When you go to work, remove the frozen delight from its container and place it into your pet's bowl. It will provide your pet with a stimulating and nutritious boredom blaster during the day that will also keep your hot dog cool.

Pooling Resources 

A clam shell sand pit in a shady spot is a great summer treat for a hot dog. Fill one half of the sand pit with sand and wet the sand in the morning. This will give poochie a cool bed to snooze on. Fill the other half with water and poochie can drink it, sit or paddle in it or play in it, just like a kid at the beach.

Heated Arguments Dogs die in hot cars

Apart from keeping your pets cool at home, be very careful about their care when they are out and about with you because mistakes are too easy to make.

The saddest mistake of all is when a dog dies in a hot car.

The rules are simple. At this time of year, your dog should not travel with you if you are going to stop anywhere other than at your final destination.

Many say "But I'm only going into the shop for a litre of milk - I'll be just a minute". The 'just a minute' extends very quickly if the shop is busy or if you happen to meet a talkative friend.

The highest temperatures are reached in cars of dark colour and with large glass areas. Hatchback cars are the worst, with temperatures quickly exceeding 70 degrees centigrade. This is lethal for any living being, including children, as we have seen recently.

Short nosed breeds of dogs, such as Bull Dogs, Pugs and the Pekingese, are very susceptible to heat stress.  Obese dogs and cats are at risk too, especially 'small fat' dogs. Dogs or cats with poor circulation and dogs with any respiratory disease are also susceptible.

Jogging Dogs Be careful jogging dogs

I cringe when I see people cycling or jogging with their dogs struggling behind. A dog is so faithful that it will try to keep up when it should stop and rest. The owner knows when he or she is getting too hot. However, the dog is so faithful it will ignore the messages from its body that say 'stop'.

The dog's tongue is dangling in a futile attempt to cool its body and it is obviously struggling to keep up. Dogs like this often collapse from circulatory failure.

Heat stress is a major concern over summer but a little common sense is all that is required to help your pets keep their cool. Please be careful.
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