Resources for Pet-Friendly Travel

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

The following resources provide a wealth of links and information on pet-friendly hotels, vacation rentals, timeshares, campgrounds and RV parks, restaurants and bars, attractions and activities:

PetFriendlyTravel.com Bring Fido
GoPetFriendly.com PetsWelcome.com
Take Your Pet DogTrekker
PetFriendly.Travel Pet Hotels of America
Pet Friendly Travel on Facebook National Geographic’s The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel
AAA Pet Travel

 

 

7 Tips for Safe Air Travel With Your Dog

With that said, if you do decide to bring your pet on a flight, here are some tips to help keep her safe and relatively comfortable:

  1. Make sure your dog is fit to fly — Very young animals, elderly pets, ill pets, pets with a chronic health condition, pregnant animals and brachycephalic breeds are among the types of pets for whom air travel is in my opinion an unacceptable risk. In fact, many commercial airlines have in recent years banned flat-faced pets from their planes due to the significant health risks involved.

Talk with your integrative veterinarian about whether your dog is a good candidate for air travel. You’ll also want to get any required health certifications, for example, pets traveling to a different state by air must have a current rabies vaccination and a certification of veterinary inspection within 10 days prior to travel.

  1. Make sure your dog is very comfortable in her carrier before heading to the airport — Long before your scheduled flight, your dog should view her carrier as a safe place. Purchase it well ahead of time and get her used to hanging out in it at home.
  2. Make sure your dog is wearing a secure collar and a current ID tag — Also keep a photo of your pet on your person to help with identification in case he is lost.
  3. Bring your dog in the main passenger cabin with you if possible — Whether or not your pet can fly in the passenger cabin will depend on his size and the airline you use. Most if not all airlines only allow dogs in passenger cabins that can fit in a carrier small enough to slide under the seat.

Having your dog right there with you, in a climate-controlled cabin, has obvious benefits and is by far the best way to travel by plane with a pet. Book your flights as early as possible since airlines only allow a certain number of pets to travel in the passenger cabin.

You won’t be able to remove your dog from the carrier during the flight, so make sure he isn’t traveling on a full stomach and has an opportunity to relieve himself shortly before you board the aircraft.

  1. Avoid flying in very hot or cold weather and book nonstop flights whenever possible — In warmer months, book morning or evening flights so you’re traveling during the coolest part of the day. In cold weather, try to fly during the warmest part of the day.

Nonstop flights are highly preferable to connections, especially if your dog is flying in the baggage compartment or cargo hold. Keep in mind that direct flights are neither nonstop nor connecting but are preferable to a connecting flight. If your pet will be traveling in the baggage or cargo area, retrieve her as quickly as possible when you land at your destination.

  1. If your pet will be traveling in the baggage compartment or cargo hold, invest in a good-quality carrier — Defective or inappropriate carriers are behind most of the problems with escaped or injured pets during air travel. A suitable carrier will be TSA-approved, have secure construction (for example, locking bolts), metal doors (not plastic), metal rods that fasten the door to the container, a strong and effective lock mechanism, and no wheels.
  2. Reduce your pet’s anxiety with natural remedies — I’m not a fan of sedating pets for travel except in the most extreme circumstances, and only in consultation with a veterinarian. If your dog is so anxious she needs to be tranquilized to fly, she really shouldn’t be put through the experience if it can be avoided.

If your dog must be sedated for travel (usually due to hyperactivity) she must be in the cabin with you so you can monitor her throughout the flight. Never, under any circumstances, sedate a pet that cannot be supervised. Natural calming agents that may be beneficial include ashwagandha, holy basil and rhodiola.

To help reduce your dog’s anxiety during a trip, consider giving flower essences such as Jackson Galaxy Solutions orally before, during and after travel, and mist her carrier with specially blended pet-friendly essential oils such as those from the Earth Heart line. I also recommend homeopathic aconitum for extreme fear, if warranted. CBD oil can also be very effective at reducing stress. Try out the protocol prior to travel to make sure you’re happy with the results.

Diane recommends Rescue Remedy Bach Flower Essence 4-5 drops directly in mouth or on treat throughout the travel to keep your pet calm.  It also helps to have an animal communicator talk to your pet before the journey to explain everything that is going to happen to help alleviate stress for your pets.

If your dog has never flown before, you can gauge her potential response to air travel by how well she travels by other means. If she relaxes comfortably in her crate during car rides, chances are she’ll handle air travel reasonably well.

Most if not all the major air carriers have information about traveling with pets on their websites. If you’re thinking about flying with your dog, I recommend you contact the individual carrier as a first step. Find out what pet restrictions apply, approved carrier/kennel dimensions and other critical information you’ll need for planning purposes.

This is the time of year when many people, weary of winter, start looking forward to the warm months ahead and summer vacation. If you’re a dog parent, you’re probably also facing the question of whether to bring your pet on your trip this year or leave her at home.

Traveling with dogs is commonplace these days, but the fact is, as bonded as we are to our furry companions, we’re much better equipped to handle disruptions in routine than animals are. As much as our dogs love to be with us, they thrive in a familiar setting with a structured daily routine.

Taking your dog away from home and her daily schedule for several days or weeks can generate a level of anxiety even your constant presence can’t overcome. Now, that’s not to say you absolutely shouldn’t bring her along or that she won’t have fun, but you should be aware that her travel experience will be very different from your own. If you do intend to bring your dog with you on vacation this year, plan ahead and keep your pet’s safety top-of-mind.

Traveling Safely by Car With Your Dog

Putting your dog into a crate, carrier or secure harness is for their safety as well as yours. An unrestrained dog or cat can be a distraction while you’re driving and can become a projectile in the event of an accident, which is life-threatening for both your pet and other passengers.

You’ll want to choose a crate or carrier that fits your dog snugly, with enough room to be comfortable but not excess room (which poses a risk in the event of an accident). The crate or carrier should then be secured into the back seat or cargo area of the vehicle — not the front passenger seat.

While you can fasten almost any crate or carrier in your vehicle using elastic or rubber bungee cords, this method may not be secure enough in an accident, putting your pet at risk of injury. In addition, many pet restraint manufacturers claim their products are crash-tested and safe for use in a vehicle, but there are no established test protocols or standards required to make such claims.

Fortunately, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) and Subaru have collaborated to perform crash tests on a wide range of harnesses, carriers and crates on the market. CPS actually provides a list of crash test-certified pet restraint systems (up to date as of November 2018).

The CPS and Subaru also crash-tested pet travel seats. These are portable booster seats for small dogs that are placed on the passenger seat or console to elevate small dogs so they can see out the windows. None of the four tested seats safely restrained the (stuffed) dogs in the crash tests,1 so whil

 

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Training Kitty to Come When Called

 

Training Kitty to Come When Called

by Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

 

Can you imagine your cat coming when called just like your dog?  Well, it can be done and he/she might already be trained to respond you just don’t realize it.

So why would you need to have your cat respond to you when called?  Life and death situations come to mind in the event of a natural disaster or fire.  It’s also important not to use this training to call your cat for anything he might (or will surely) find unpleasant, like giving him medication or taking him for a veterinary appointment. In those situations, says Christensen, it’s better to go find him so that he doesn’t make any associations between being called and a negative result.

You may not realize it, but your cat probably already comes when he’s “called” by any sound that tells him it could be mealtime, such as the whir of the electric can opener. If there’s no sound involved, he’ll be called by the aroma of his meal being prepared. Since he’s already answering these calls, you can easily build on this foundation, says veterinary behaviorist E’Lise Christensen in an interview with Adventure Cats.1 The trick is to pair calling your cat with something he’s already responding to.

First you need to decide precisely how you’ll call him from now on when you want him to come to you. For example, you can call him by his name using a different vocal inflection, or by his name followed by “come” (“Fluffy, come”) or preceded by “here” (“Here, Fluffy Fluffy”). The key is to consistently use the same words and tone of voice each time you call him to you.  According to an animal communicator, it helps the “call” if you visualize the cat coming to you in your head as you call their name.

You can also use high-value treats to train kitty to come when called. Standing next to him, call him to come and then immediately give him a treat. When it’s obvious he’s made the connection between your call and yummy treats, you can start increasing the distance.

Move a few feet away from him, call him, and when he comes to you, give him a treat. Once he’s doing this consistently, gradually increase the distance between you. If things go according to plan, he’ll be reliably responding to your call from all over the house. Keys to successful training sessions:

  • Plan to do several sessions each day to help your cat maintain his training; keep each one short — no more than five minutes
  • Never, ever punish your cat for not coming when you call — it’s ineffective and can cause him to become stressed or fearful
  • Always reward him, no matter how long it takes him to respond to you; remember that you’re asking him to do something entirely unnatural for a cat

9 Things to Consider Before Adopting a Pet

By Dr. Karen Becker with comments by Diane Weinmann

So you are thinking about adopting a pet…good for you!  Now have you thought of these topics:

  1. Do you have time every day to devote to a pet? — Even relatively low-maintenance pets require attention from their humans, so if your life is already very busy or you’re not home much, a pet may not be the best idea.

Many animals, especially dogs, exotic birds, and yes, even cats require lots of daily interaction with their humans. Pocket pets and other animals who live in cages or other enclosures need supervised time outside their habitats each day. Without social interaction and stimulation, pets tend to develop behavior and emotional problems.

  1. Do you have the energy to dedicate to a pet? — In addition to spending time with you, your pet also needs and deserves to be exercised, played with, trained, groomed and cuddled. If you come home every night exhausted, you should think seriously about whether you have the energy reserves you’ll need to offer an animal companion a good quality of life.
  2. Can you afford a pet? — Caring properly for a pet can put a dent in your bank account. You should think realistically about whether you can afford the cost of a high-quality diet, toys, other supplies, obedience training, wellness visits to the veterinarian, etc.

In addition, your pet could get sick or injured, and you should have a plan in mind for how you’ll pay those vet bills in the event something serious happens to your animal companion.

  1. Is everyone in the household sold on the idea of a pet? — It’s ideal if everyone in the family or household is onboard with getting a pet. Otherwise, resentments can build, and relationships can suffer. It’s a good idea to involve all members of the household in the decision-making process, openly discuss concerns and determine who will have primary responsibility for the pet’s care.
  2. Does your prospective new pet come with emotional or behavioral “baggage” you can accept or commit to dealing with? — Behavior issues are the No. 1 reason pets are dumped at shelters. Most of these animals didn’t have the best start in life. For example, they weren’t socialized at the ideal age, were over-vaccinated or endured traumatic events that created behavioral quirks you will need to be prepared to deal with.

Combine a lack of healthy socialization with the potential for negative, fear-based training or a neglectful/abusive first few months, and you have the recipe for a lifetime of dysfunctional behaviors and responses to everyday life in the animal you just adopted.

Are you committed to a lifetime of “damage control” when it comes to positively addressing negative behaviors and phobias that your newly adopted furry companion may arrive with? And can you trust everyone in your household to participate in positive training to correct behavior issues?

Knowing your every response will fuel or diffuse unwanted behaviors can be daunting, so having a positive trainer or behaviorist on hand will be crucial in helping you deal with unwanted behaviors in a way that enhances your relationship with your adopted pet. I strongly recommend low-stress welcoming techniques the minute your new addition arrives home.

  1. Will your existing pet (if you have one) accept a new pet? — You definitely need to plan ahead if you already have a pet and want to add another to the household. Most animals can learn to get along or at least tolerate each other, but there are situations in which it’s just too dangerous or stressful to keep two poorly matched pets under the same roof.

If possible, introduce your existing pet to your potential adoptee in a neutral setting and see how they interact. If it doesn’t go well, I encourage you to consult with an animal behavior specialist before throwing in the towel on adopting a second pet. Often it just takes some time and a few helpful tips to put an existing pet and a new one on the road to a harmonious relationship.

  1. Are you prepared to prioritize your pet over your belongings? — Pet ownership means there will be the inevitable accidents and other messes in the house, furballs on your furniture and bedding, and the random destroyed slipper or other personal belonging.

If you can’t tolerate the thought of a less than perfectly clean house, you might want to reconsider the idea of pet ownership. Even the most well-behaved, well-trained animal companion makes the occasional mess or forgets his manners.

  1. What kind of relationship do you want with your pet? — It’s important to think about how you’d like your new pet to fit into your lifestyle. For example, if you do a lot of traveling and want to take your pet along, a small dog is probably a better choice than a large breed or a cat.

If you plan to jog with your pet, some dogs are better suited to long runs than others. It’s also important to think about what you can offer a potential pet. If, for instance, you’re the outdoorsy type who enjoys hiking and camping, those activities have tremendous appeal to certain dog breeds, such as retrievers and retriever mixes.

Ideally, you do plan to include your pet in many of your leisure time pursuits, so it’s important to give the subject some careful thought.

  1. What changes do you expect in your life in the next five, 10 or 15 years? — While we can’t predict the future, most of us have a vision for our lives that extends years down the road. Regardless of the type of pet you’re considering, you’ll be taking on a multi-year commitment. It’s important to be reasonably sure your lifestyle will be as pet-friendly in five, 10 or 20 years as it is today.

Any addition to the household should we well thought out.  Additionally, contacting an animal communicator for the potential adoptee along with talking with any existing fur family members is helpful for a smooth transition.  Do not underestimate the opinions of your current pets (if applicable).

 

Hug and Kiss your Dog(or cat )!

By Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Scientists who specialize in studying all things canine are building an impressive body of research on the extraordinary bond between people and their dogs. Of course, those of us who share our lives with dogs reached the same conclusion long ago, but it’s still nice to have our suspicions confirmed!

Indeed, studies prove there is true chemistry between dogs and their humans. Daily interactions with your canine companion have a measurably uplifting effect on your biochemistry, thanks to a hormone called oxytocin, sometimes called the “hug hormone” or the “love chemical.”

Oxytocin is a naturally occurring substance in the body that makes skin-to-skin contact feel good. It also acts as a natural painkiller, and lowers stress levels and blood pressure.

It has long been established that human-to-human contact, for example, bonding with children or partners, triggers the release of oxytocin. More recently, studies have revealed that bonding with a completely different species also promotes release of this wonderful hormone.

When You Interact With Your Dog, Feel-Good Hormones Abound

In 2003, a study conducted at the University of Pretoria in South Africa revealed some fascinating insights about the interaction between dogs and their humans.1 Dog parents sat on a rug on the floor with their dogs and for 30 minutes, they focused solely on their pets. They talked softly to them, and stroked, scratched and petted them. The owners’ blood was drawn at the beginning and again at the end of the 30-minute session.

The researchers found that the dog owners’ blood pressure decreased, and they showed elevated levels not only of oxytocin, but also several other hormones. These included beta-endorphins, which are associated with both pain relief and euphoria; prolactin, which promotes bonding between parent and child; phenylethylamine, which is increased in people involved in romantic relationships; and dopamine, which heightens feelings of pleasure.

Interestingly, all the same hormones were also elevated in the dogs, which suggests the feelings of attachment are mutual. Next, the dog parents sat in the room and read a book for 30 minutes. None of the hormones, including oxytocin, increased as much as they did during the session with the dogs.

A decade ago, a Japanese study proved that when our dogs gaze at us, our oxytocin levels increase.2 The study involved 55 dogs and their owners. The people whose dogs gazed at them for two minutes or longer showed higher levels of oxytocin than owners whose dogs gazed at them for less time, and claimed to be happier with their dogs than owners whose dogs’ gaze was only around a minute long.

In a 2011 Swedish study, researchers found that people who kissed their dogs frequently had higher levels of oxytocin than other owners.3 And along with kissing, there were two other factors that contributed to elevated levels of oxytocin. One was that the owners perceived their relationship with their dog to be pleasurable rather than difficult or a chore, and the other was that they offered fewer treats to their pet, preferring to offer attention and affection instead.

Diane feels that what this proves that we should all hug and kiss our pets repeatedly several times a day for long periods of time (at least 30 minutes) in order to maintain good health and happiness!  She is making that her goal although, in reality she probably does it more than that right now!

Another joy she loves is gazing into the big blue eyes of her husky.  In fact, she studies her dog daily for several minutes memorizing his every hair and movement and she could pick out the exact color of her dog’s eyes before she could find her husbands’!  LOL!!!!  The connection between Diane and her dog as they gaze at each other is priceless.  Peace enters her very soul and she knows it happens to her dog as well (she’s an animal communicator)!  Try it yourself with your pet—you’ll feel an immense love and connection that will bring peace and serenity into every fiber of your being.

More Proof of the Bond We Share: Dogs Can Read Our Facial Expressions

Last year, a team of Italian researchers published a facial expression study involving 26 dogs.4 As the dogs ate, the scientists showed them photos of the same two human faces (a man and a woman). The pictures were deliberately positioned to the sides of the dogs’ line of sight, and showed the humans intensely expressing one of six emotions — anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise or disgust. A second face displayed a neutral (non-emotional) expression.

The researchers observed that when the dogs saw facial expressions such as anger, fear and happiness, their heart rates accelerated and they tended to turn their heads to the left. They also took longer to resume eating than when they were shown the neutral face.

The scientists concluded the dogs were experiencing more stress while these three particular facial expressions were displayed, and theorized that the happy face caused stress because dogs instinctively view bared teeth as threatening. Interestingly, when the dogs were shown surprised facial expressions they remained relaxed and tended to turn their head to the right. They showed no “side bias” with their heads when shown pictures of sadness, disgust or a neutral expression.

These study results are further evidence of just how closely connected dogs are with people. According to the researchers, the dogs turning their heads either left or right also suggests our furry companions use different parts of their brains to process human emotions.

The right side of the brain plays a more important role in regulating the sympathetic outflow to the heart, and is fundamental in controlling the fight-or-flight response necessary for survival. Arousing, negative emotions seem to be processed by the right hemisphere of a dog’s brain, and more positive emotions by the left hemisphere.

And Still More Proof: Dogs Respond to Our Communicative Intent

Research shows that dogs track human eye movements, and eye movements are linked with intent. A study published in 2012 in the journal Current Biology compared this ability in dogs to a similar one shown by human babies.5 For the study, 16 dogs were shown videos of a person turning toward one of two identical objects. In one video, the person looks directly at the dog and says in a lively voice, “Hi dog!” In the other video, the person avoided eye contact and said “Hi dog,” in a low voice.

An eye tracker was used to capture the dogs’ reactions, and researchers concluded from the data collected that the dogs were more likely to look at the object in the video featuring the more communicative person. This was the first study to use eye-tracking techniques to observe how dogs interact with people.

The study brought out an additional aspect of dogs’ attentiveness to humans by demonstrating that when a dog’s gaze follows a human, it’s not simply a reflex. It’s linked to the human’s “communicative intent.”

Even though your dog’s brain doesn’t process information the same way a human child’s does, his ability to interact with you at this level helps strengthen the bond you share. And when you consider the biological differences between humans and canines, the fact that we’re able to communicate back and forth is pretty remarkable!

 

Your Kitty Loves This More Than Just About Anything

Written by Dr. Becker and comment by Diane Weinmann

 

As pet lovers, we all recognize that the connection we have with our cats is very different from the way we interact with our dogs. It’s not just a myth that kitties are more independent and self-reliant than dogs — it’s a fact. Cats simply don’t view their humans in the same way dogs do. For instance, they don’t get crazy happy when we arrive home. Their primary attachment is to their environment/territory/turf, not to us, whereas our dogs tend to treat us as if we hung the moon.

Unlike Small Kids and Dogs, Cats Don’t Develop ‘Secure Attachments’ to Their Human Caregivers

Even kittens who were properly socialized to people at precisely the right age and are quite comfortable around humans, don’t form the type of emotional attachment to their owners that dogs do, which was illustrated by a small 2015 study in the U.K.1

For the study, two University of Lincoln researchers used the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test (SST), a tool that measures whether a small child or dog has developed a secure attachment to a caregiver who represents safety and security in strange or threatening environments. They used the SST, adapted for cats, to evaluate 20 kittles and their owners.

Beyond the observation that the cats vocalized more when their owners left them with strangers than the other way around, the researchers found no other evidence to suggest the kitties had formed a secure attachment to their humans. According to the researchers:

“These results are consistent with the view that adult cats are typically quite autonomous, even in their social relationships, and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of security and safety.”

This obviously doesn’t mean cats have no ties to their humans; however, we need to develop alternative tools to better measure the normal characteristics of the cat-human bond, since the concept of secure attachment isn’t among them.

Cats Evolved as Self-Sufficient Loners

If you know much about felines, it’s no great mystery why they’re so different from dogs and therefore, in their relationships with people. Cats evolved as independent loners, unlike dogs, whose wolf ancestors lived in packs with a well-defined social structure.

The domestic cat’s ancestor is the African wildcat, which hunts alone for small prey animals such as mice, rats, birds and reptiles. Wolves, on the other hand, need members of their pack to help them bring down bigger prey. The exception to this rule is the lion, who lives in packs (prides) like wolves, and hunts and eats communally.

In domestic cats, socialization during the first 2 to 8 weeks of life gives them the ability to socially attach to their human, but only on their terms, of course. Once a feral kitten, for example, is over 2 months old, it can be very challenging to try to “tame” him or turn him into an indoor kitty.

But regardless of how well-socialized a kitten is, she’ll retain her independence throughout her life. She can be extremely friendly and extroverted, but she’ll never submit to you as a dog will. She won’t hesitate to set you straight if you do something that displeases her, either.

And because cats evolved to be loners, they don’t have the communication skills dogs do. That’s why it’s so important to monitor your kitty’s behavior for signs she’s feeling stressed, ill or has an injury. If you find her hiding in her covered litterbox or in a closet she never visits, for example, chances are something’s wrong and you need to investigate.

Despite Their Aloofness, Cats Enjoy Interacting With Their Humans

In a 2017 study, a pair of U.S. university researchers concluded that cats actually seem to like humans a lot more than they let on.2 According to Phys.org:

“[The researchers] point out that cats may simply be misunderstood, noting that recent research has found that cats have complex socio-cognitive and problem solving abilities. They suggest further that the commonly held belief that cats are less reactive to social stimuli might be due to a lack of knowledge regarding the things that cats actually find stimulating.”3

The researchers set out to determine what types of things stimulate cats, and to what degree. There were two groups of kitties involved — one group lived with families, the other group consisted of shelter cats. For the study, the cats were isolated for a few hours, after which they were presented with three items from one of four categories: food, scent, toy and human interaction.

The researchers mixed up the items for the cats so they could better evaluate which they found most stimulating, and determined the kitties’ level of interest for a given stimulus by whether they went for it first, and how and how long they interacted with it. The researchers observed a great deal of variability from one cat to the next, regardless of whether they lived in a home or a shelter. But overall, the cats preferred interacting with a human to all other stimuli, including food.

The kitties spent an average of 65 percent of their time during the experiment interacting with a person, leading the study authors to conclude that cats really do like being around their humans, despite how they might behave around them.

You Have More Influence on Your Cat Than You May Think

A study published in 2013 offered further insights into captive feline behavior.4 For example, did you know our cats take on human habits, or that they adapt their lifestyles to ours?

While genetics certainly play a role in feline personality and behavior, it’s clear environment is also a significant factor. “Our findings underline the high influence of human presence and care on the amount of activity and daily rhythm in cats,” says study co-author Giuseppe Piccione of the University of Messina’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.5

The purpose of the study was to explore the effect of different housing environ­ments on daily rhythm of total locomotor activity (TLA) in cats. The cats in the study lived with owners who worked during the day and were home in the evenings. They were all well cared for. The kitties were separated into two groups, with the first group living in smaller homes and in close proximity to their humans. The other group lived in more space, had an indoor/outdoor lifestyle and spent their nights outside.

Over time, the cats in the first group adopted similar lifestyles to their owners in terms of eating, sleeping and activity patterns. The second group became more nocturnal. Their behaviors were similar to those of semi-feral cats, for example, farm cats. Dr. Jane Brunt of the CATalyst Council made this observation to Seeker:

“Cats are intelligent animals with a long memory. They watch and learn from us, (noting) the patterns of our actions, as evidenced by knowing where their food is kept and what time to expect to be fed, how to open the cupboard door that’s been improperly closed and where their feeding and toileting areas are.”6

Indoor cats who spend a lot of time with their humans tend to mimic their eating habits, including those that lead to obesity. And if you happen to keep the litterbox in your bathroom like many cat parents do, you might notice Fluffy often seems to use her “toilet” while you’re using yours.

Feline personalities are often described in terms like “aggressive,” “arrogant,” “curious” or “timid.” These traits apply to people as well, and researchers theorize that cats’ environments may have a greater impact on their personality than previously thought.

Cats Appreciate Reciprocal Relationships With Their Caregivers

Dr. Dennis Turner is a leading expert on the feline-human bond and his research shows that unlike dogs, cats follow their human’s lead when it comes to how much involvement they have with each other.7 Some cat owners prefer a lot of interaction with their pet, others don’t have much time to devote or simply prefer less interaction.

Kitties are quite adaptable to their humans’ needs in this regard and fall into step easily with the pace the owner sets. They do this without complaint, and their independent, self-sufficient nature helps them get along without a need for the same level of interaction their canine counterparts demand.

Even more fascinating is Dr. Turner’s discovery that cats seem to understand the need for balance in their relationship with their humans:

“What we found was the more the owner complies with the cats wishes to interact, the more the cat complies with the owners wishes, at other times. They go up together, or they go down together. If the person doesn’t comply with the cat’s wish to interact then the cat doesn’t comply with the person’s wishes. It’s a fantastic give and take partnership. It’s a true social relationship between owners and cats.”

 As an animal communicator, I have found that cats love their owners very much but are not as demonstrative as dogs based on their physical differences in body types.  They cannot wag a tail and shake paws (usually but I have seen cats do a high five). I also find they are great cuddlers and take comfort in sleeping with their owners and being close to them.  They also like to hear your voice and enjoy when you talk with them.  They like being greeted when you get home and I had one cat client that told me when his mom got home she would yell LEEEEOOOOO (Leo) just like that. He really enjoyed hearing that and would come running.  Many of my cat clients come when called.  Not unlike our canine companions.  They also enjoy treats!

 

How to Stop Your Dog From Barking at Other Dogs

How to Stop Your Dog From Barking at Other Dogs

From PetPav and comments by Diane Weinmann

 

Dogs will bark for many reasons as it is their way to communicate and react.  And we never want our dogs to stop barking as it can help us to understand how our dogs are feeling or if there is a threat nearby.  However, if your dog constantly barks at other dogs, it can be a headache for you and distressing.  There are many things you can do to get your dog to stop barking at other dogs.

Below are some of the things you can try to keep your dog from barking at other dogs.  As always, consistency and repetition is key to stop the barking and/or any unwanted behavior.   You and all family members need to be on-board with the same behavior techniques to keep the training consistent.

Remove the motivation that causes your dog to bark

Your dog gets some kind of reward when he barks. Even if it is just attention from you.  If you can figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it, it’s the simplest deterrent.

If your dog barks at other dogs passing by the living room window, manage your dog’s behavior by closing the curtains or putting your dog in another room.  If you live in an apartment, try keeping the music or TV on to mask the barking sounds.

Block your dog’s access to doors and windows while he is indoors so he can’t see outside if the barking is continuous or put him in another room as other dogs pass by (at least while you are training).

There are also some devices that you can use that create a loud noise when your dog starts barking like the Doggie Don’t Device which are very effective to stop the barking.

Ignore the barking

Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. Which means don’t give him any attention at all while he’s barking; don’t talk to him and don’t even look at him. When your dog finally quiets down, than reward him with a treat or a hug.  The point is that when the barking is done, all is good!

Be patient even if he barks for a very long time…just let the barking session end and then reward your dog at the end.  Your dog will learn that he gets the reward when he stops barking.  In other words –catch him doing something good and reward him!

Desensitize your dog to the stimulus which in this case means other dogs

Gradually get your dog used to whatever is causing him to bark or in this case, other dogs.  Try to get your dog used to the idea that merely hearing and seeing other dogs does not mean (or allow) barking.

A training technique that works is to have someone, a friend, relative who owns a dog to have his or her dog on a leash and walk towards you.  When your friend approaches, let her feed your dog treats.  When the dog walks away, you stop feeding your dog treats and therefore the dog will learn that when another dog is visible and your dog does not bark is a good thing!   And they are rewarded.

This can take some time so be patient and it’s a big behavior to learn.  It could take weeks or months but consistency is key.

Use the “quiet” command when your dog barks

When your dog starts to bark, teach him the “quiet” command.  When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his face. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.  Your dog will learn that “quiet” gets a treat and positive reinforcement.  If your dog masters the quiet command, you can apply it to other times when he starts barking.  Praise and reinforce the good, quiet behavior and don’t yell “quiet”- it will scare your dog and he won’t understand it.  Be aware that depending on the excitement level or stimulus all the training in the world may not make this effective 100% of the time.

Ask your dog for an incompatible behavior while barking

When your dog starts barking, ask him to do something that’s incompatible with barking. Teach your dog to react to barking with something that stops him from barking, such as lying down in his bed or chasing his favorite toy or ball.  In fact, you can even give him a toy or a chew toy to put in his mouth which will certainly stop the barking.  Barking, chew toy – no sound!  Again this will only work in the house or yard verses out on a walk.

Make sure that your dog isn’t bored and gets daily exercise

Make sure your dog is getting enough physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good dog (we’ve all seen the commercials) and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration.  Exercising is important for your dog for so many reasons and it can also help to control the barking.

If none of the above work and you really need more help, it’s best to hire a trainer who can work with you and your dog to stop the barking.   Always keep the training positive and don’t overdue the treats so your dog gains weight.  A hug and a ‘good boy’ is great for positive reinforcement too.

If training doesn’t seem to work you can always call me, an animal communicator to see if we are dealing with a root cause that is just not the normal and expected greetings from one being to another.  Sometimes there is a deeper motivation that we need to understand in order to combat it.  Additionally, if your dog is reactive on walks using bach flower essences before a trip into the public can help curb unwanted behaviors like barking, pulling and jumping.  Again contact me, Diane Weinmann at Dianefortheloveofanimals@yahoo.com if you need a custom bach flower essence treatment bottle.

5 Ways to Help a Hiding Cat

5 Ways to Help a Hiding Cat

By John Gilpatrick

It’s hard to say if Garfield started the stereotype of the mischievous, anti-social cat, but he certainly reinforced it, and to be fair, there’s some basis in truth.

 

While some cats are friendly and cuddly, many others spend their days in dark enclosed spaces and prowl the house at night.

 

“A lot of cats lead nocturnal lives,” says Myrna Milani, DVM, an author and veterinary scholar in the fields of pathology and anthrozoology.

 

If your cat usually spends its day hidden, that’s generally fine and normal, Milani says. The problem arises, however, when social cats suddenly start hiding. This behavior is often indicative of stress, fear, a medical issue, or some combination of these.

 

Continue reading for tips on identifying problematic forms of hiding behavior in cats and what you can do to resolve the underlying issue.

 

Allow Your Cat to Warm Up to Visitors

One of the primary causes of stress in cats is a change in their environments, and one big change that often induces hiding is the addition of a new person to the household.

 

Whether this is in the form of a temporary visitor or a permanent resident, cats are naturally inclined to assume a new person is a threat to their territory. (The same goes for the addition to a new animal.) As such, you might find your feline hiding or marking areas with her scent.

 

Milani says it’s important to give a cat time to adjust to the change and accept the new person on her own terms. “The worst thing you can tell the new person to do is play nice and ‘kissy face’ with the cat,” she says.

 

Instead, short-term visitors can sit near the hiding spot and let the cat come to them, maybe coaxing her out with a treat or a toy that will boost her confidence and make her feel more like predator than prey.

 

Milani suggests longer-term visitors or new permanent residents rub themselves all over with a dry towel or washcloth. Then, leave the towel in the middle of the floor overnight and allow the cat to explore the scent on her own time and at her own speed.

 

The cat should start feeling more comfortable the next day, though if the towel has been peed on, “That’s a message, and you need to keep being patient,” Milani says.

 

Try to Normalize a New Environment

 

Another cause of this type of stress is a move. It might take your cat a while to adjust to the new house, and that’s made worse, Milani says, the more you change things around. Trying to give your cat normalcy in a new house—whether that’s setting up her cat tree by a window or avoiding clutter with empty boxes—will help your cat adjust.

 

“I know it’s not what people who move want to hear, but the best thing you can do for a cat after a move is to unpack everything and settle in as quickly as possible,” she says.

 

Give Your Cat a Safe Space

 

It’s not uncommon for cats to be fearful of visitors or changes in their environments or routines. Fear in cats is often marked by prey behavior, which includes running away and hiding.

 

Dilara G. Parry, a certified cat behavior consultant, says “safe spaces” are an easy way for the owner to make sure that the hiding that’s taking place is healthy and safe.

 

“A sturdy cardboard box, turned on its side with a nice blanket placed inside, can be an alluring hiding space that is safe,” Parry says.

 

Milani adds that cutting a cat-sized hole in an upside-down cardboard box is another great DIY safe space because the cat can face the opening and know nothing is coming up behind her.

 

Monitor Your Cat’s Behavior Changes

 

Hiding behavior in cats could signal an illness or serious medical condition, and owners need to pay attention when this behavior emerges and is out of the ordinary.

 

Milani says if a cat begins hiding, it’s paramount that the owner monitors the cat’s eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating. She recommends blocking off the bathroom to the cat and marking his water dish with a marker so you know exactly how much water is being consumed every day.

 

Other easily observable signs of an illness or condition that’s forcing hiding are discharge from the eyes or nose, limping, and non-specific diarrhea.

 

Make an Appointment With Your Vet

 

If your cat is suddenly hiding, and seems more antisocial than normal, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended to rule out any medical issues. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

“Sometimes, the first indication to the guardian that their cat is sick is hiding behavior,” Parry says. “I have seen this in cases of urinary blockage, which can quickly turn fatal if untreated, so I definitely urge guardians to take hiding behavior seriously, especially if it is not ‘par for the course’ for that particular cat.”