medicine online

Category: “Pet Care Tips”

Introducing a New Cat to a Resident Dog

Dogs and cats that are not familiar with each other will require some extra time to become accustomed to each other. Dogs usually want to chase and play with cats, and cats are usually afraid and defensive. You can use any of the techniques described in “Introducing a New Cat / Kitten to Your Current Cat.” In addition:

  1. If your dog does not already know the commands “sit, down, come, and stay,” you should begin working on them. Little tidbits of food increase your dog’s motivation to perform, which will be necessary in the presence of such a strong distraction as a new cat. Even if your dog already knows the commands, work on obeying commands in return for a tidbit.
  2. After the animals have become comfortable eating on either side of the door, and have been exposed to each other’s scents, you can attempt a face-to-face introduction in a controlled manner. Put your dog’s leash on, and command him to either “sit” or “down” or “stay,” using food tidbits. Have another family member enter the room and quietly sit down with the cat on his/her lap. The cat should also be offered some special tidbits. At first, the cat and dog should be on OPPOSITE sides of the room. Repeat this step several times until both the cat and dog are tolerating each other without fear, aggression, or other uncontrollable behavior.
  3. Next, move the animals a little closer together, with the dog still on a leash and the cat gently held in a lap. If the cat does not like to be held, you can use a wire crate or carrier instead. If the dog gets up from its “stay” position, it should be firmly repositioned, and praised and rewarded for obeying the “stay” command. If the cat becomes frightened, increase the distance between the animals and progress more slowly. Eventually, the animals should be brought close enough together to allow them to investigate each other.
  4. Although your dog must be taught that chasing or being rough with the cat in unacceptable behavior, your dog must also be taught how to behave appropriately, and be rewarded for doing so (e.g. sitting, coming when called, or lying down in return for a tidbit). If your dog is always punished whenever the cat is around, and never has “good things” happen in the cat’s presence, your dog may redirect aggression toward the cat.
  5. You may want to keep your dog on a leash and with you when the cat is free in the house during the introduction process. Be sure that your cat has an escape route, and a place to hide. Keep the dog and cat separated when you aren’t home until you are certain they will both be safe.

Precautions: Dogs like to eat cat food because it is very high in protein, and therefore very tasty. Keep cat food out on the dog’s reach (in a closet, on a high shelf, etc.). Why dogs like to eat cat feces is not well understood but it is a relatively common behavior. Although there are no health hazards to the dog from this habit, it is usually distasteful to the owners. Attempts to keep the dog out of the litterbox by “booby trapping” will also keep the cat away as well. Punishment after the fact will NOT change the dog’s behavior. Probably the best solution is to place the litterbox where the dog cannot access it – such as behind a baby gate, or in a closet with the door anchored open (from both sides) just wide enough for the cat. Always feed your dog alone. Cats should not eat dog food as it may cause dietary deficiencies.

Written by Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D., Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, Denver Dumb Friends League (Humane Society of Denver)

Spay and Neuter to Save Lives

During puppy and kitten season animal shelters and rescue groups are overwhelmed with litters of puppies and kittens looking for homes. While ARFP is a no-kill rescue group, not all rescues and shelters are. This year, an estimated four million animals will be euthanized in shelters around the country, simply because they don’t have a home. You can help prevent this tragedy by having your pet spayed or neutered. Not only does spaying/neutering help with the pet overpopulation problem, but it also has many health and behavioral benefits for your pet. Consult your vet today, or contact one of the organizations listed below for information on their low cost spay/neuter programs.

Piedmont Communities Spay Neuter & Wellness Clinic
4527 West Wendover Ave.
Greensboro, NC 27409
299-3060

Triad Spay/Neuter Clinic
3163 Hines Chapel Rd.
Greensboro, NC 27405
375-3222

Low Cost Spay Neuter Clinic
2780 West Mountain St.
Kernersville, NC 27284
723-7550

Jumping Up on People

Most normal young dogs have the tendency to jump up on people they greet. Many of us have  unintentionally conditioned our dogs to want to be near our faces by picking them up and holding them up to our faces when they are young. This causes problems later on when the dog is large and insists on jumping up on us in an attempt to be closer to our face. This jumping up to greet is seldom appreciated and can be dangerous when small children are involved. Since the majority of serious dog bites are to children’s faces, it is important to teach the dog not to instinctively reach for the child’s face for attention.

It is wise not to let your puppy lick your face, and children should be taught not to get right into a puppy’s face. Dominant/submissive roles are often expressed this way in canine behavior, and the dog can misinterpret an action and become aggressive when not handled properly by children.

When calling your puppy to you, greet him while crouching down and pet him while he is in the sitting position. Do not let him jump on you to be petted. It can be cute when small puppies run up to you and jump up to be petted. However, if you allow or encourage this behavior, you are unintentionally training the dog that jumping up leads to affection. Never pet or praise the puppy while he is jumping up or immediately after he has done so. Simply put, If he learns that jumping up leads to affection, he will continue to jump.

If your puppy or dog has all ready developed a jumping up habit, you can help him break it. First of all, make sure you are not unintentionally encouraging the dog to jump with your hand motions. If you wish to use a command, such as “Off” or “No Jump,” be sure to use downward hand motions. Most people pull their hands to their chests and yell “Get Down!” when a dog starts to jump. For several reasons, this actually makes it more likely that the dog will jump. First, the upward hand motion encourages the dog to jump on your chest. Second, the yelling excites the dog’s adrenal system, making it more hyperactive and less likely to respond calmly in its attempts to secure your attention. Finally, your reaction definitely gives the dog the attention, and though its negative attention, the dog gets what he was after.

We have found the most effective and humane way of reversing the jumping up habit is to try to replace the behavior with a “Sit” command. If you have trained your dog to sit this should get him off of you. Try to keep treats in your pocket and use the “praise – pat – treat” method of reward for sitting. If your dog will not sit when you give the command then completely ignore him while he is jumping up – – do not even look at him. Your dog will soon tire of leaning against you, especially if if he is not receiving any attention and he will get off. Then, tell him to sit, and if he does, use the “praise – pat – treat” method. If he gets excited and jumps up again, completely ignore him. most dogs will learn in 5 – 10 days that sitting is a more effective way of getting attention than jumping up. Make sure you acknowledge your dog when he comes up and sits in front of you. Give lots of positive reinforcement for good behavior.

Until your dog understands that jumping up results in ZERO attention, you must be patient and ignore the jumping up behavior.

Traditional training methods of kneeing the dog in the chest and stepping on his feet are usually not effective and can be dangerous to the dog. Plus when you make intentional contact with the dog, you are giving him exactly what he wants — attention! Dogs prefer negative attention to no attention at all!

Jumping Up on Children

If you have children old enough to understand, have them practice telling the dog to sit for praise and treats after you have already taught the “Sit ” command. The most important thing in teaching a dog not to jump on children is teaching the child how to react when they see the dog coming. Tell the child to say “Sit” very cheerfully (but not yelling); also, tell them not to run, and not to yell “No” at the dog, and not to pull their hands up toward their chest or face. Instruct them to push their hands downward as they say “Sit.” This will help them teach the dog that he receives attention when he is in the correct position.

No puppy is too young (or dog to old) to learn an acceptable way of greeting. Starting your relationship with your new puppy or dog by establishing a good family routine will help prevent and deter the undesirable jumping habit.

The above information was furnished by Melanie Schlaginhaufen and Judy Allen of Best Friends Bed and Biscuit. Reprinted with permission. For more information or a consultation contact Best Friends Bed And Biscuit @ (336) 643-9096.

Crate Training

The most talked about new method of training dogs is crate training. More and more dog owners  and their pets are learning the benefits of starting puppies on crate training as soon as they arrive in their new home. Crate training is the use of a plastic airline crate or a wire cage to confine a puppy when the family is not home or is unable to supervise the puppy’s activities. The crate in effect, becomes the puppy’s bed. Other terms used interchangeably with crate training are den and kennel.

You may feel that it is cruel to confine a dog to a crate. It would be cruel to just close him in the crate and leave. But if you introduce him to the crate properly, you will find that your puppy will quickly come to prefer it for sleeping and quiet time. Too many dogs are surrendered to animal shelters because of the damage done while they are unattended. Since over 85% of these puppies are euthanized, it is kind, not cruel, to crate train a puppy to prevent behavioral and housebreaking problems.

Why Crate Training is Recommended

Dogs in the wild live in dens. The den provides wild dogs protection from predators as well as the elements, and it allows for a feeling of security. That’s why you often find dogs curling up under a table, chair, or bed. By giving dogs a secure place that is all their own, pet owners can take advantage of a dogs’ natural instincts to help the dog feel safe, thus reducing isolation-induced stress.

Crate training, if done properly, is a wonderful training tool with many benefits. Apart from the obvious uses for transporting dogs, a crate can be used for short term confinement –to keep your puppy out of mischief so he does not develop bad habits when you cannot give him your undivided attention. A crate can also be used to develop good habits –to housetrain your puppy, to establish a chew-toy habit, and to reduce inappropriate barking and digging. Also, if your dog ever injures himself or becomes ill, the crate will be invaluable during recovery. If you move, your dog’s adjustment to a new home will be quicker and less stressful if he is crate trained. If you stay in motels or visit relatives, your dog will be “damage-proof” if he travels with his crate. If you travel by car, placing the dog in the crate will keep him out from under your feet, away from the driver, and more safe in case of an accident.

Who Should Crate Train

Owners of new puppies and any adult dogs with destruction and/or housebreaking problems should crate train. The only time crate training would not be advisable is in a situation where a puppy will be left alone for an extended period of time and a family member cannot come home to let the puppy out during the day. It is a dog’s natural instinct to keep his crate/home clean, so he will “hold it” as long as he can before eliminating in the crate. The maximum time an 8 week old puppy should be in his crate without a break is 4 hours. Puppies younger than 8 weeks have to “go” about every 2-3 hours so they should be given a crate-break at those intervals. Except for overnight sleeping, crate confinement approaching 8 hours is strongly discouraged. As the puppy gets older (4-6 months) you can gradually leave him in his crate for longer periods of time, but you should never exceed 8 hours for any dog.

If a family member is unable to come home midday to let the puppy out, there a couple alternatives. The most desirable would be for a pet-sitter, relative, or neighbor to come by the house and let the puppy out while he is young. If this is not an option, leave the puppy in a confined area with his crate with the crate door open. This way he can sleep in the crate and come out of his crate to use the bathroom. A collapsible wire barrier called an “exercise pen” (or X-pen) can be used to create a damage proof, safe inside area or a small bathroom can be used. However, using this type of set-up will lengthen the housebreaking process because the puppy will be learning to eliminate in the house. Also, some puppies can quickly learn to climb out of the X-pen.

When You Should Crate Train

Owners of all age puppies and dogs can start crate training at any time. It is best to start puppies immediately, so they do not have the opportunity to develop bad habits. Most adult dogs can be taught to like using their crates if they are introduced to it properly. In most cases, it will take an adult dog longer to adjust to a crate than it will a puppy. The key is to let the dog get comfortable going in and out of the crate on his own. Never force the dog into the crate. To get your canine interested in the crate, you can put his food dish inside so he has to go in to eat. Also, you can make going in the crate a game by throwing treats or his favorite toy inside for the dog to retrieve.

What Type and Size of Crate to Use

There are two basic types of crates: a plastic “airline kennel” and a wire cage. Each has certain advantages. The plastic crates are usually more portable than wire cages and are more “cozy” for the animal. Wire cages typically have more width and height space than plastic cages of approximately the same size. The angled design of the plastic crates makes their width at the base more narrow than the box design of wire cages. You can buy wire cages that are easily collapsible and can be carried like a suitcase, which is helpful when traveling. Most wire cages have removable pans that can slide out for easy cleaning. If you select a wire cage, cover the back completely and top and sides 1/2 way down with a towel to create a den-like atmosphere. If you do not cover a portion of the cage, the dog may not feel safe and secure because of the openness of the cage.

The ideal situation for housebreaking is to use a size crate that is 2 times the puppy’s body length and big enough for the puppy to stand-up, turn around, and lie down in. However, for most people, it is not feasible to purchase new crates as the puppy grows. The best alternative is to buy a crate that will be large enough for your dog when he grows up. As an adult, the dog should be able to lie down comfortable on his side as well as stand, sit, and turn around without difficulty. For housebreaking a puppy, the crate should can be made smaller by using a partition (made of a safe substance) or a divider panel to limit space. If the puppy has too much room, he will eliminate in one area of the crate and sleep in another, thus increasing the time it takes to housetrain the puppy.

Plastic crates and wire cages are available at most pet stores and by mail order from companies such as wholesaler R.C. Steele (800) 872-3773 and Doctors Foster & Smith (800) 826-7206.

Where to Keep the Crate

Keep the crate in a lived-in part of the house (dogs are pack animals and prefer to be with their pack/family); a bedroom, kitchen or family room is good –not a garage or unused basement! When the puppy is young it is recommended to have the crate near the door he will be going out to use the bathroom. Having the crate close to the door will help prevent any elimination accidents as the puppy leaves his crate and heads for the door to go out.

How to Crate Train Your Dog

Your dog should thoroughly enjoy spending time in his crate. This can be accomplished by introducing him to the crate properly, making it comfortable and fun to go into the crate, and by giving him something entertaining to do in the crate. Below is a step-by-step outline of the recommended process:

Set-Up

  1. Set up the crate with the puppy out of the room, so as not to startle him.
  2. Use old blankets, towels or sheets as bedding. Note: many puppies will chew bedding which can be very dangerous so take time to observe if he is trying to chew his bedding. Do not make the bedding material too absorbent because the puppy needs to be severely inconvenienced if he urinates in his crate.
  3. DO NOT use housebreaking pads in the crate because this will attract and encourage the puppy to eliminate in his crate.
  4. DO NOT put a water bowl in the crate because it will spill and wet the bedding.
  5. DO put 1 – 2 safe chew toys in the crate with the puppy so he has something to occupy his time — a Tuffy Kong toy is one of the best and safest toys to leave a puppy alone with. Stuffing a Kong toy with freeze-dried liver or a biscuit can keep the puppy entertained. Do not leave a puppy alone with a toy that can splinter or break off in small pieces, such as rib bones and rawhide bones. These are chew toys that should be supervised as they may cause the puppy to choke.
  6. If you are using a wire crate, place an old blanket or sheet over the top and sides in order to create a den-like atmosphere. Tuck the ends of the covering under the crate so that the puppy cannot pull them inside to chew on them

Introduction and Use of the Crate

  1. When it is time for the puppy’s meal, place the bowl just inside of the crate so the puppy has to stick his head into the crate to eat.
  2. Between feedings, you can make going into the crate a game by tossing in treats or toys. Allow your puppy to come and go at will — do not force your puppy into the crate.
  3. When the puppy gets in the crate on his own or because their is a treat inside, this is your cue to start associating a command with the action. You can use statements such as “kennel up” or “go to bed.” The most important thing to remember in giving commands is to be brief and consistent.
  4. Always leave the crate door open when your puppy is out of the crate so he can get in it when he wants.
  5. When you are home, make going in the crate a game. Give your chosen command, such as “go to bed,” and throw a treat or toy into the crate. Let your puppy walk in and out of the crate at will. Whenever your puppy goes into the crate on his own, lavish him with praise!
  6. Each time the puppy enters his crate for confinement, give him a tasty treat such as Bil-Jac Liver Treats, jerky treats, cat treats, or a small piece of hot dog or cheese.
  7. ALWAYS use your chosen command when calling your dog to the crate for confinement. DO NOT simply call him to you, as he may become wary of approaching you when called.
  8. NEVER USE THE CRATE AS PUNISHMENT! Your dog will pick up “vibes” from you if you put him in the crate when you are angry. The puppy’s crate should be his secure place. It should not be associated with punishment, fear, or anything negative. If you treat the crate as a wonderful, gentle, lifesaving tool to prevent accidents, destruction, and behavior problems, your puppy will feel positive about the crate, too.
  9. Every time you let the puppy out of his crate, even if he has only been confined 30 minutes, take him straight outside to his “potty” area and give him your command such as “go potty” or “hurry up.” Praise him when he eliminates outside. If the puppy does not eliminate within five minutes and you know it is time for him to do so, put him back in the crate. Wait approximately 30 minutes and then take him outside again. In the morning, be sure to take the puppy out the minute he starts to fuss.
  10. If the puppy eliminates in his crate, clean it up immediately and thoroughly. After cleaning up the urine, wipe the bottom of the crate with a pet odor eliminating product or a solution of vinegar and water. It is necessary to clean up the odor completely so the puppy does not smell it later and urinate there again.
  11. During all unsupervised times, the puppy should be in his crate with the door closed. Normal, healthy puppies will generally get into mischief if unattended. The tendency of puppies to “learn” about their surroundings is too strong for them to control — learning means chewing, scratching, and digging. If the puppy is unable to get into trouble, destructive habits will not be formed.
  12. As your puppy gets older (probably close to 1 year old), you can start leaving him out of the crate unattended for short periods of time. When you first leave him unattended and out of the crate, restrict him to one or two rooms in the house. If the puppy behaves in your absence, gradually increase his time out of the crate with the ultimate goal being never having to close him in his crate. However, he should continue to have access to his crate whenever he wants. If the puppy gets into mischief in your absence, begin to crate him again whenever he is unsupervised and try again later.