All posts tagged: pets

Pets Corner: Keeping dogs happy and healthy at Christmas

Current reports say that we are in for a cold Christmas and we might even get snow. After indulging at the Christmas table one of the great seasonal pleasures is to take a long family walk and having a dog only adds to the experience. If the weather is really cold or wet, a few precautions will ensure you have a healthy and happy Christmas all round. Slippery snow and ice Many of us seem to go stir crazy in the snow and decide to give our dog the equivalent of a year’s worth of aerobic exercise. We break out the ball chucker and run the dog until he can run no more. If your hound is already as fit as the proverbial butcher’s dog you might just get away with this sudden burst of extreme exercise. However, for those that gently walk their dog a few times a week this way disaster lies. The biggest risk is often to the cruciate ligament and this major injury will not only blow your bank balance but …

Pet’s Corner: Why is my cat weeing around the house?

Cat wee around the home has to be one of the most maddening issues a pet owner faces, not least because it stinks, but also because it can present a seemingly intractable issue that crops up for no apparent reason. Obviously the stakes are higher if you own an indoor cat, but even outdoor cats can start urinating in the home. In such a short article it is impossible to cover all the bases, but here is a brief guide signposting potential reasons and solutions. Adopt the mind-set of a detective and systematically exclude each possibility and solution before moving on to the next. If in doubt, speak to your vet and a feline behaviourist. Spraying or puddles Identifying which your cat is doing can help point to the root cause. Some cats do both. Spray is generally found on vertical surfaces. Close monitoring of your cat’s behaviour may also reveal what is going on. Paw kneading and treading, vibrating an upright tail while backing up to vertical surfaces, usually occur just before spraying. Neuter …

Pets Corner: Can you speak dog?

More than ever before dogs and owners are being forced to live in very close proximity. Some dogs, just like humans, are a little more precious about personal space and problems can arise when both owners and other dogs fail to recognise signs of anxiety, frustration or irritation in another dog. This month I want to focus on some aspects of dog communication and how taking the time to learn a little more about this can help us all get along a bit better. Dogs are uniquely equipped to read the human face and they are exquisitely attuned to our body language and spent much of their time watching us, perhaps owners should return the compliment and take time to learn a bit more about what our dogs might be trying to tell us. Below are three common scenarios where canine signalling is frequently misinterpreted by humans.  You, or someone else, try to cuddle your dog. As you move in for contact your dog slightly turns his face away from you and yawns. What you …

Pets Corner: Pet poo problems

At first glance this might seem an odd choice for an article, however many dogs and cat owners are all too aware that pet poo is becoming a major issue and the focus of many a rant, both on and offline. So much so that some would like to see an end to dog and cat ownership or, at the very least, draconian measures against dogs and owners around public footpaths and green spaces. Perhaps it is time for all pet owners to unite to control the poo problem, before it controls us. I am sure that like me, most of you dog owners religiously ‘pick up’, never venturing forth without the obligatory bag. Sadly, however, there are those who are not so fastidious, and we have all seen owners that suddenly become fixated on their mobile phone or some other urgent business, just as their pooch begins to circle and squat. If witnessed, perhaps a polite reminder and gently proffered bag may prompt said owner to do the decent thing. It might even be …

Pet’s corner: Teaching your dog ‘leave’

The leave command, also known as ‘dog zen’, is possibly the most important command of all. ‘Leave’, as distinct from ‘drop’, tells the dog to disengage from an object, another animal or a human, on cue. The importance of ‘leave’ is that it teaches the dog to control its instinctive urge to move towards things that it wants or things that it dislikes and for owners this can become a powerful and incredibly useful tool. A solid ‘leave’ should be essential puppy training, up there with an instant ‘sit’, beautiful lead manners and an impeccable recall. There are different ways to teach this command and most trainers will have a preference. However, the essential aim is to teach the dog that a tiny disengagement (averting its eyes momentarily or looking away) earns a reward. Once the dog understands this principle the owner can then begin to ask for more of the required behaviour before a reward is delivered. Here is an example of how to teach the first stage of ‘leave’. Hold a treat on …