866-699-3463    info@petkey.org

Get terrific tips, training solutions, interesting pet FAQ’s, pet product reviews, lifestyle, events, pet wellness and help a missing pet find their way home.

December is Cat Lovers’ Month. Many people say cats don’t get enough attention. Everything is all about dogs. So, cat lovers, this is your month.

Over 36 million households in the United States share their homes with over 74 million cats. That’s an incredible number of purring kitties.

To help you share your love for cats, we have compiled a list of a few ways to celebrate. And, we’d like to share a little bit of history with you.

The Gift of Time

It’s no shock this comes in to our discussion before anything else. There’s no gift that replaces the gift of time. The difficulties of every day life have us running around like crazy people. So much so that it’s difficult to spend time with our families (our human and furry family).

For the month of December, make an extra effort to carve out some spare time or all members of your family.

Volunteer Your Time

If you don’t have any cats of your own, but you’re still a cat lover, there is still a way to dedicate your time. Nearly every humane society has a shortage of volunteers. Whether you’re comfortable helping cleaning up their mess or just want to socialize, the gift of time to your local shelter is incredibly appreciated.

Get Her Painted

Every proud pet parent has something they have done to memorialize their pet whether it’s a framed photograph, a Christmas ornament, or a bumper sticker that says, “I love my cat.”

Did you know you could hire someone to paint you a portrait, though? This is becoming increasingly more popular, but we have found there are still many pet lovers who aren’t aware of this special gift.

Simply choose your favorite photo of your cat and visit Etsy.com. There are many artists to choose from to create the perfect painting you can hang on your wall for years to come.

The History of Cats

To give you a deeper appreciation of that furry kitty wandering around your home, we thought it would be a good idea to explain where she came from.

The Smithsonian Institute shares a popular quite in their article regarding cat history. And, that is, “As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat” and “A dog is a man’s best friend. A cat is a cat’s best friend.” If you have a cat, there is a high chance you know exactly what these quotes are meaning.

The domestication of cats has been quite puzzling to scientists. Wild cats and domesticated cats are more similar than one would think.

A revelation came in 2004, when a scientist found a cat who had been purposely buried with a human, in Cyprus. This led scientists to guess cats were first domesticated about 12,000 years ago.

The Use of Cats?

When discussing domestication, there’s no surprise the domestication of dogs would have been beneficial in many ways including hunting and protection. But, what could cats have to offer so long ago?

One guess. What are kitties good at still to this day?

Mice!

When people began to settle down, and there started to be extra crops, grain stores began to open. With the opening of grain stores came the mice. Scientists believe the wild cats wandered into town and found a ton of mice hiding in these stores.

The cats thought they were in heaven and the people were happy with the pest control.

The rest is history!

How Does Doga Improve Mental, Physical, and Emotional Well-Being?

Hello, everyone! This week we’re switching it up and talking about something that’s fairly new to the dog world. Although it’s fairly new, it can be extremely beneficial to both you and your dog.

Doga. Yes, you heard right. Doga. Dog yoga. We hadn’t heard of it either until recently when a professional trainer had approached us to give us some details.

Read on to find out more!

Instead of doing yoga with your friend (or you can include him or her if your dog is comfortable), start implementing yoga into your dog’s daily routine.

The meditation involved in yoga is calming to everyone, dogs included. That’s not really shocking though, is it? We discovered quite long-ago meditation helps relieve our dog’s stress and anxiety. But, we hadn’t exactly thought about teaching our dogs to do yoga with us.

The music involved also helps our dog relax (and ourselves).

Note: Starting this at home is probably the best idea. Your dog might not be ready to enter your regular yoga session with an overwhelming number of people and distractions in the room.

The Benefits of Doga

There are quite a few benefits to implementing doga into your daily routine with your pup. We’ll talk about a few of them today, but we highly encourage you to do some research for yourself if this is something you’re interested in.

Understanding Your Dog Even Better Than Before

Dr. Danni Shemanski, a leading influencer in dog yoga, has discussed how feelings of importance increase when you include your dog in your yoga experience. The love and the bond shared between the two of you is also likely to increase when this is implemented into your daily schedule.

While performing doga with your dog, you’re spending quality time with your dog. And, as you know, time is all your dog asks for. If your dog has been craving attention, this could very well be the solution.

If your dog suffers from anxiety, you may see a decrease in the anxiety she is feeling after a few doga sessions. The meditation, the physical exercise, the mental stimulation. All those factors assist in preventing anxiety.

The mind exercises involved in yoga may also increase the connection your dog has with you. This will help you understand your dog like you may never have before.

Improved Behavior

When researching Doga, scientists have found doggy yoga improves the focus of dogs as well. And, it can greatly improve their obedience.

Patience is another area you may see improvement. Your dog is likely to be more patient… as are you. Why not, right? With all this relaxation, physical, and mental stimulation, it’s not shocking that you’ll feel more patient and be able to stress less.

Reduced Anxiety Levels

Yes, we did already talk about doga reducing anxiety levels. But this is an area which needs emphasized heavily. The majority of clients taken by canine behaviorists experience some type of anxiety.  

Between the yoga, the music, and the time spent with you, your dog is likely to find her mind, body, and soul freed during each doga session.

Weight Loss

Whether you’re healthy and fit or have a little work to do (same with your dog), both of are you are going to benefit from your session’s calorie burning benefits.

You’re going to be stretching. You’re going to feel muscles you didn’t even know you had. You’re really going to be working at this.

Those who have never tried yoga will say, ‘that’s way too easy for me.’ It looks simple, but there’s much more to it than you think. And, it truly works your body.

Doga is Fun… and Funny

Many dogs will try to imitate you. You can count on her looking a little silly. That’s part of the fun of it.

Among all the fun and exercise, you will forget how much time has passed. You’ll notice each session seeming shorter and shorter as your mind and body become accustomed to the sessions. Yet another reason to implement yoga into your routine.

Social Skills for Your Pup

Once you’re both ready, you might want to start looking for other people and their dogs to join you. You may even consider offering your own doga class.

Dog parks provide a huge opportunity for you to meet other dog lovers and socialize. This could be the perfect opportunity to ask around, share what you have learned, and see if anyone would like to join you in this activity. There are many who don’t believe in the benefits of yoga or doga, but you would be surprised how many people do believe.

Once other dogs and people are involved with your doga class, your dog will enjoy the benefits of socialization. Your dog will not only have the opportunity to bond with other people but other dogs as well. And, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new friends, too.

The Bottom Line on Doga

Doga can be the perfect opportunity for both yourself and your dog to get fit while spending some good quality time together. There’s not a significant amount of information out there about doga yet, but there’s definitely enough to get you started.

Use Your Leftover Turkey for Your Dog: Doggy Meatball Recipe

Homemade Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Makes 24 pieces

Are you wondering what to do with all that leftover turkey? Why not make your dog a healthy, delicious treat! Or, add these meatballs to their regular meal (be sure to reduce the amount of kibble if you choose to do this). These meatballs are good for about five days in the refrigerator or you can freeze them for future snacks.

Meatball Ingredients:

·        1 pound of leftover turkey (skinless, boneless)

·        2 eggs

·        ½ cup of rolled oats

·        1 cup of mixed veggies

·        2 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt

·        ¼ cup of fresh parsley

Cooking Directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400º

Step 2: Place leftover turkey into the food processor and pulse to break up the meat

Step 3: Add the rolled oats to the mix and pulse into there are no longer any large pieces

Step 4: Add the egg and yogurt pulsing until the mixture holds together

Step 5: Transfer mixture from food processor to a large bowl

Step 6: Add the cup of mixed veggies and parsley; mix with your hands

Step 7: Roll into 1” balls

Step 8: Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet

Step 9: Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown

Step 10: Wait to cook and serve (or refrigerate/freeze)

You may think it’s good to add seasonings to this mix, but seasonings could result in stomach upset or illness. Your dog will love these treats just as they are.

Enjoy!

This week, we want to share an emotional, heart-wrenching video with you that shows all of the trials and tribulations our soldiers (men, women, and canine) go through every day. 

Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you for serving our country! 

5 Winter Care Tips for Your Dog

Some dogs love winter whereas others would rather cuddle up with you under a warm blanket by the fireplace. Either way, she must go potty at some point. And, you should be ready to protect her from the bitter cold outside.

The Risks During Winter

Most pet parents believe the common misconception that a dog’s coat is enough to protect them from the cold. This isn’t always the case. Some dogs can handle the winter weather better than others, but all dogs should be protected and observed carefully during the winter months.

If your dog stays out for too long, there’s a risk of her getting frostbite. Frostbite begins when your dog’s body gets cold. Once your dog’s body (ours works this way too) gets cold, blood is pulled away from her extremities to maintain warmth at the core of her body. As your dog continues to be outside, her ears, paws, and/or tail could then form ice crystals and damage the tissue.

Frostbite is a scary thing because it’s not immediately recognized. You can watch for pale or grey skin and feel her skin to check to see if it feels cold.

The other life-threatening condition you need to worry about is hypothermia. Hypothermia sets in when your dog spends too much time outside in the cold temperatures. Dogs who are wet, senior dogs, and dogs with health conditions will likely be affected sooner.

In mild cases of hypothermia, your dog starts to shiver and her ears, tail, and/or feet get cold. As hypothermia continues, she might appear sleepy, depressed, and weak. Her muscles will begin to stiffen, and her heart rate will drop.

The general guideline is, if it’s cold to you outside with your coat on, it’s too cold for your dog. We’ll talk about more tips to keep your dog happy, healthy, and warm this winter below.

Tip 1: Let the Sun Shine

Avoiding times where the sun isn’t shining is a helpful tip. Take your dog for walks when it’s a little warmer and the sun can reflect off her coat. Plus, on top of keeping her warmer, you’ll both soak up some Vitamin D.

Tip 2: Is the Floor Cold?

If your floor isn’t carpeted, or you don’t have heated floors, the floor could become quite a cold place for your dog to sleep. Choosing the right bed can help your dog stay warm while indoors. A nice, comfy bed is just what the doctor ordered on those cold winter days.

If you have an older dog, you may want to consider purchasing a heated bed. Senior dogs may have aches in their joints which will worsen when they’re cold.

And, finally, make sure you don’t place her in a ‘draft-zone.’ Usually, this is next to a door or an old window. Make sure you pick out a warm spot in your home.

Tip 3: Avoid the Heaters

You don’t want your dog in a drafty area of the house, but your also shouldn’t put her bed right next to the heater. If she’s too close to the heater, she can easily get burned and/or overheated.

Tip 4: Moisturize Her Skin

You may have noticed when it’s cold and dry outside (like many days in winter), your skin also dries up and you need to go grab the lotion. Your dog’s skin is the same way. To prevent dry, itchy, flaky skin, you can rub her with coconut oil on an as-needed basis.

Tip 5: Take Care of Her Paws

We don’t know about you, but many people develop ‘foot cracks’ in the winter. Just as people do, dogs can develop cracks in their paws.

If your pup has furry feet, trim the hair that grows between her pads to prevent ice from building up.

The salt laid out in the winter can also become a huge problem for your dog’s sensitive paw pads. Winter salt is toxic and will burn your dog’s pads if it’s not washed off. If you go for a stroll around the block, be sure to wash her pads off afterwards. Or, if your dog will accept them, doggy booties can be worn to protect her pads from the cold temperatures and winter salt.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to enjoy winter with your dog but keep these tips in mind to make sure your dog is safe. And, don’t forget winter time is the best time for snuggles!

Keep Your Dog Safe on Halloween!

Hello, everyone! This week we must discuss Halloween. It’s coming fast. Only a few more days and the time will be here.

Usually, we’re so wrapped up in finding costumes for our children and getting them ready, we don’t have time to stop and consider our pets. But, many pet lovers aren’t aware of the dangers their dogs face on this creepy crawly holiday.

Some adults absolutely love this holiday. Other’s don’t. But, our children sure love it.

Our dogs usually aren’t the biggest fans, though.  

Don’t stress. We will review a handful of safety tips to keep your doggy safe, happy, and healthy during the October 31 celebration.

Rover Doesn’t Need Candy

This one you may already know. All forms of chocolate, especially baking or dark chocolate, can be dangerous or even deadly to your dog.

If you’re worried your dog may have eaten some Halloween chocolates, take her to the veterinarian and keep a close watch on her behavior.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and/or seizures.

You might ask now, “my dog can’t have chocolate, but can’t he have a few pieces of candy?” Nope.

Most candies contain an ingredient that’s toxic to our dogs, too. Xylitol! Even the smallest amount of Xylitol can cause a severe, sudden drop in blood sugar followed by loss of coordination, seizures, coma, or death. That’s a serious risk.

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

While small amounts of pumpkin can be fed safely to many dogs, ingesting uncooked, potentially moldy Halloween pumpkins can cause big problems.

Gastrointestinal upset is a potential result of your pup eating the ‘wrong’ pumpkin or too much pumpkin. And, intestinal blockage can occur if large pieces are swallowed.

Another danger with pumpkin? Some types of mold produce mycotoxins which can cause neurologic problems in dogs.

You might be a bit confused right now because pumpkin can be good for dogs. Learn how much is too much and what types of pumpkin your dog can have by clicking here.

Keep Your Pup Confined

Keeping your doggy indoors is the best idea on Halloween.

But, if you’re staying home to hand out candy, your door will be opening and closing nonstop.

Plus, not only are strangers coming to your door, they’re strangers in all kinds of different costumes.

There’s no big shock that your dog may become uncomfortable, territorial, or even aggressive on Halloween with the chaos and confusion.

Putting your dog in her crate for a little while, or in a room she’s comfortable in, will significantly reduce your dog’s feelings of stress and anxiety. 

Keep Your Dog Safe on Halloween

With all the chaos and people coming in and out in their costumes, you may be tempted to find an alternate location for your dog.

Some dog lovers may be tempted to put their dog on a runner out back away from all the trick-or-treaters. Or, in a fenced in area in the back yard.

Unfortunately, our world is not the nicest sometimes and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Pranksters have been known to tease, steal, injure, or even kill pets on Halloween. I hate writing that. But, it needs to be said to keep your loved furry family safe.

If You’re Going Out with Your Pup

If you do decide to dress Rover in a costume and go out for the evening, make sure it isn’t dangerous or annoying to your doggy.

Costumes shouldn’t restrict your dog’s movement in any way, hearing, eyesight, or the ability to breathe. 

Your dog must always also be supervised when the costume is on to prevent any accidents from happening.

Dressing Rover for Halloween

Don’t wait until Halloween night to put your pet in a costume for the first time.

Remember, any time you want to introduce your pup to something new, it’s best to go slow.

Be sure to grab your pet costumes early and put them on for short periods of time (piece by piece, if possible).

Make this a positive experiencing by showering your dog with praise and treats. If, at any time, your dog appears to be distressed, anxious, or uncomfortable, immediately remove the costume.

If you don’t want to try the costume idea, you could always try a festive bandana for your pup to walk around with while you’re trick-or-treating.

Don’t Forget His ID Tag

If your dog were to escape and get lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that she will be returned.

Collars and tags are helpful if your pup finds someone who is willing to help him find his family, but microchips offer permanent identification just in case their collar or tag falls off.

If your dog has a microchip, make sure the information is up-to-date in the recording system. If she doesn’t have a microchip yet, this may be the right time for you to get this done. Not only is Halloween almost here, the other holidays are approaching quickly.

The Bottom Line on Your Pup’s Halloween

This article isn’t meant to worry you but rather to prevent accidents from occurring. And, make you aware of the dangers lurking near your furry family member(s). Keep your doggy safe this holiday season.

My Cat is Spraying and I Don’t Know What to Do!

The most common behavior problem in cats, as reported by pet parents, is going potty in the wrong areas. 10% of cats eliminate in an area that’s not their litterbox at some point in their life. These cats are usually urine marking which isn’t a litterbox problem (fortunately and unfortunately). Urine marking is a form of communication used by cats.

Exactly Why is My Cat Urine Marking?

Animals who live in social groups and depend on one another to survive have sophisticated communication skills. It’s important not to think of a cat’s behavior as like a dog. Cats have a unique social structure and are extremely different from dogs in their social life.

If give the opportunity, cats go off on their own and claim certain territories. They are independent animals, and although they may share their territory with other cats, they avoid one another whenever possible.

Cats are unlike dogs in that they don’t defend their territory (most of the time) with a fight. Instead, they mark their territory in a different way that leaves a message.

Most times, this is where the urine marking comes in. By urine marking an area, the cat is letting other cats know of his presence. He wants other cats to know where his ‘property lines’ are, how long ago he was in that particular area, and how long he’ll likely be away.

Cats can also leave a message like an advertisement, ‘I’m looking for a mate,’ with their urine.

Although our traditional cats who live in our houses don’t have to hunt for their food or search out a mate, they still look at their world the same. They don’t fully understand they’re in a house where ‘this isn’t permitted.’ They use the instincts nature has provided to them.

They will set their instincts aside in certain situations, though. These are situations you, as their pet parent, have to make possible for them. If they feel their world is predictable, and without conflict, AND they’re spayed or neutered, they don’t really have a reason to mark. But, if they are stressed about something, or they want to find a mate, that’s when you run into problems.

How Do I Know if my Kitty is Urine Marking?

Okay. This is the hard part. Cat who urine mark also use their litterbox to go potty. That’s where the confusion comes in.

There are certain ‘hints’ or clues you can consider when determining if your cat has a communication problem, doesn’t like his litterbox, or is truly urine marking:

·        Urine marks are generally deposited on vertical surfaces. If you have ever heard of a cat who ‘sprays,’ this is what we’re talking about. When spraying, a cat usually backs up to an object like the side of a chair or a wall, and stands with his body erect and his tail extended straight up in the air, while spraying urine onto the targeted object.

·        Urine marks usually contain less urine than your cat would generally pee into their litterbox.

·        The odor of the ‘marking’ urine is extremely strong. Not only does the spray contain urine, but also contains extra communication chemicals.

There are also certain qualities that would make your cat more likely to spray in your home including:

·        Being an unneutered male. 

·        Multiple cats in the household. 

·        Any change in the household that could cause stress.

·        Cat to cat conflict

Treating Urine Marking in Intact Cats

There are a few things you can do to reduce urine marking in an intact cat:

·        Neuter or spay your cat. 

·        Prevent your indoor cat from seeing other neighborhood cats.

Treating Urine Marking Caused by Conflict in a Multi-Cat Household

Before treating the issue as a behavioral problem, you must rule out any medical problems by visiting your veterinarian. Although there’s no medical problem that would specifically result in urine marking, if your cat is in any sort of pain or experiencing any medical issue, this could lead to stress which may lead to urine marking.

Once your veterinarian has cleared your kitty, it’s time to figure out which cat is marking. If you aren’t sure if your cat is spraying, or you’re not sure which cat is spraying, you can ask your veterinarian about something known as fluorescein which causes urine to glow blue under a UV light.

More tips include:

·        Be sure to provide enough litterboxes. The general rule is one litterbox per cat in the household. And, if you have a two-story home (or larger), be sure there’s a litterbox on each floor.

·        Make sure litterboxes are placed in low-traffic areas.

·        Scoop the litterbox at least once per day.

·        Play with your cats to reduce stress and conflict.

·        Thoroughly clean any accidents with an enzymatic cleaner specifically designed to neutralize pet odors. If you clean it without an enzymatic cleaner, and you can’t smell it, that doesn’t mean your cat can’t.

The Bottom Line on Urine Marking in Cats

Although this is extremely frustrating (and disgusting to us), remember to be patient with your cat. Remember he’s not doing this to hurt you in any way but rather following his/her instincts for survival. You should never punish your cat, rub his nose ‘in it,’ or throw things at your cat to get him to stop if you catch him in the act.

And, absolutely never clean up with ammonia. Ammonia attracts your cat to the same area because urine contains ammonia. Don’t forget to grab an enzymatic cleaner.

5 Ways to Socialize Your New Kitten

Everyone always talks about how to socialize your new puppy, but we don’t often hear about how to socialize a new kitten. Socializing your kitten is important, too.

Leaving the litter can be traumatic for a little kitty. Even when a kitten is over eight weeks old and fully weaned, a new environment is still new. And, it can be overwhelming.

Before Your Bring Your Kitten Home

Before you bring you adorable little kitten home, you want to make sure she will have a smooth transition into her forever home. A smooth transition requires many factors to be in order including introductions to other humans, other cats, and other dogs.

In this article, we’ll talk about five ways to ensure your cute kitty has a smooth transition into your home.

Socialization Tip 1: Don’t Overwhelm the Kitten

When your kitten first arrives home, don’t introduce her to a bunch of new people. You can introduce her to one or two people at a time to avoid overwhelming her. Don’t worry if she still appears to be overwhelmed. Remember, this is all completely new to her.

Choose a quiet place for your introductions. Let each person who sees her cuddle her for a decent amount of time. And, don’t forget the kitty treats. She will likely feel more comfortable associating new people with yummy snacks.

Socialization Tip 2: Introducing Pups and Cats

When introducing your kitten to another kitten or a dog, have someone who she trusts hold her from a distance. Offer her treats while you’re introducing her. Gradually decrease the distance from your other furry companions as long as your kitten feels comfortable.

Your other pets should also be provided with treats and obedience commands (for dogs). Don’t forget, your kitten is new for them too. Don’t forget your other furry loved ones while caring for your new kitty.

You want them to form positive associations to one another. Making sure you aren’t making any of your furry family members uncomfortable during this process is crucial. Repeat this process for each of your furry babies one at a time.

Socialization Tip 3: Give Freedom

Once you know everyone is safe, you should give your pets the freedom to approach one another if desired. Don’t forget to reward for good behavior.

P.S.- Make sure none of your furry family members feel as if they can’t escape the situation. Your dog should be able to walk away. And, your cat(s) should be able to hide or get away if they want to.

Socialization Tip 4: Confine Your Kitty

In the beginning few days, if you can’t supervise, your kitten should be confined to a specific area. Usually, this is the bathroom since it’s easy to clean up and large enough for your kitten to walk around.

You want your kitten to feel safe. Make sure she’s in the bathroom by herself so she has time to relax. She will become accustomed to new sounds, new smells, and new sights, as she is spending time to herself.

If you have other cats, don’t forget to grab another litterbox, too. Generally, the recommendation is one litterbox per cat. Some cats don’t like to use other cat’s potty areas.

Socialization Tip 5: Your Kitten Cuddling with Visitors

Most people absolutely love kittens. What’s not to love, right? Take advantage of your tiny kitten’s adorable face to socialize him or her with others.

Once your kitten appears to be relaxed in your home with your current pets and family members, you can allow your friends and other family members to come in and cuddle your new addition.

Ask your friends or family to hold your kitten, give her treats, and play with her. If possible, allowing both men and women to do so is recommended so your cat doesn’t have a gender preference when she gets older.

Allow your kitten to play with children also (ensuring children are acting appropriately with the kitten).

If your kitten forms positive associations with all different types of people now (all ages, both genders, etc.), she is more likely to hang onto those impressions throughout her life.

The Bottom Line on Kitten Socialization

Socializing a kitten doesn’t take too much effort, but you’ll notice the positive effects from socialization for her entire life. A socialized adult cat is friendly, confident, and happy to be in the company of others.

Make a point to hold your kitten multiple times per day. Touch her toes, ears, and tail, not only to ensure she is comfortable with others handling her but the veterinarian as well. This will mean less stress for both you and the vet.

Finally, don’t forget to be patient. Just as all dogs are unique, all cats are unique as well. Each cat has his own personality. Some cats are outgoing whereas others are shy and take more time to warm up.

Teach Your Dog to Stay in 5 Steps

Training your dog to stay is a useful command and it’s a part of the ‘general obedience’ guidelines for a well-rounded dog. A dog who knows the ‘stay’ command is more likely to have manners when you have guests, while you’re eating a meal, and during travel.

Like other commands, ‘stay’ may time some time. It’s important to remain calm, patient, and consistent while your dog is learning.

Don’t forget, positive reinforcement methods should be utilized to prevent behavioral problems and increase the bond you share with your dog.

What Do I Need for this Training?

You don’t need much to train your dog how to stay. All you need is a quiet area free from distractions and a handful of kibble or treats (don’t forget your dog’s diet should not be over 10% treats).

Before teaching your dog to stay, be certain she understands the ‘sit command.’ This won’t work if she hasn’t learned how to sit on command yet.

Step 1: Teach Her to Sit

As stated above, be certain your dog knows how to sit. If your dog doesn’t know how to sit, you’ll need to teach her this before moving onto step 2.

Step 2: Grab the Treats

Step 2 involves those treats we asked you to grab earlier. Place the treats in your pocket or cup them in your hand for now.

Then, tell your dog to sit when you’re ready.

Take a few steps back while saying the word ‘stay.’ You’re going to have to sound a bit like a broken record during this step. Repetition is important.

If your dog doesn’t move, say “okay” to let her know it’s acceptable to get up. Once she returns to you, give her a treat. She’s done a great job.

If your dog starts to follow you rather than stay put, simply say “no.” Walk your dog back to the same location she was sitting in before and try again.

Some dogs may catch onto this immediately whereas others may take weeks to learn. Every dog is different and learns differently (and some dogs are a bit stubborn, right?).

Step 3: Repetition is Critical

Be sure to repeat step two multiple times per day until your dog has mastered the command. Once a few days go by (or longer) you can move onto step 4.

Step 4: Increase the Distance

Now that your pup has mastered all the steps mentioned above, we’re going to move onto increasing the distance between us and our dog.

Increase the distance by taking a few more steps backwards than you did before while repeatedly saying the word ‘stay.’ If your dog isn’t quite ready for you to go that far away, bring her back to her sitting area and try again just as you may have before.

Step 5: Moving to Different Areas

Once your dog has mastered the ‘stay’ command inside the house, you can move onto different areas like your fenced-in yard, dog park, or other area where you know your dog is safe. Bringing your dog away from your home is also important as your dog will learn how to listen to you with distractions.

The Take-Away

Don’t forget to be patient with your dog while she’s learning a new command. To help her learn, you should bring her for a walk first so she’s calmer and better able to pay attention to you. You want your dog to be in a peaceful state of mind, so you know she’s listening attentively.

If you notice your dog having a hard time concentrating, don’t worry. Wrap it up and call it a day. Try again tomorrow.

Adopt a Black Dog, Save a Life

Today, October 1, is National Black Dog Day. This may sound a bit ‘odd’ at first. But, researchers at animal shelters have uncovered an upsetting truth.

When a dog lover is searching for a furry companion, dogs who are black or dark in color are passed by without the slightest consideration for adoption.

The adoption rates of black dogs is so low, the problem has now been coined ‘black dog syndrome.’

The phenomenon has also been coined as ‘dog racism.’ And, has inspired ‘black dog’ campaigns showing adorable professional photographs. The photographs are designed to show the beautiful features black dogs have and capture their personality in the portrait as well.

There are a few different reasons dog lovers may choose to pass that adorable, black lab mix.

Features Are Hidden

The color black absorbs light. Since black absorbs light, a black dog’s features may not be as apparent is a light-colored dog. This makes our adorable family friend harder to take pictures of.

The other aspect of this component is black is associated with evil. Dogs in horror movies are also generally black. People may unconsciously pass by that black dog due to misconceptions in their lifetime.

And, some dog lovers think black dogs are simply too plain. There is nothing ‘special’ about them. Dark-colored dogs are thought to be bland and ordinary.

Black Dogs Aren’t Appealing

Researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted a study where members had no idea what was going on. The participants didn’t know the purpose of the study.

The main researcher, Stanley Coren, selected 60 colleagues and students and showed each of them photographs of black, brown, and yellow Labrador Retriever.

The results were just as expected. Black labs had lower ratings regarding attractiveness, adoptability, and friendliness.

Are Black Dogs Mean?

The previous section leads us to this one. A study conducted by three psychologists from Penn State supported Coren’s findings that ‘black dog syndrome’ may truly exist.

Sixty-five participants were chosen for this study. After the participants were recruited, they were to look at pictures of dogs and cats from various breeds and colors. The participants were asked for their impression of each animal as a pet.

Not only was ‘black dog syndrome’ confirmed in this study, but ‘black cat syndrome’ was as well.

Black animals, dog or cat, ranked at the bottom of the score chart for perceived adoptability and friendliness.

Black dogs were also perceived to be more aggressive than dogs of other colors.

You Can Help: Take Action and Make a Difference

Even if you already have dogs in your household and aren’t interested in adopting another, there are other ways you can help spread ‘black dog’ awareness.

First, if you know of anyone searching for a puppy or adult dog, share a bit of information about how the black dog is least likely to be adopted.

Share as much information about Black Dog Syndrome as you can. Lets spread the word!

And, of course, if you are searching for another furry family member, remember this article and go back to the low chance of adoption. We’re not saying you absolutely need to adopt a black dog, but recommend providing them the same consideration provided to lighter-color dogs.

We always hear about how to prepare your family for a photoshoot. But, rarely do we hear how we can prepare our dog. 

All of us here at Petkey understand how much you love your dog. And, we want to share a few tips with you about how to make the most out of your dog’s glamour hour.

Most of us take photographs of our dogs with our smartphones. But professional photographs can provide an excellent way to grab shots in high-quality you may not have captured yourself. And, a professional photoshoot allows you to get in the picture, too!

Let’s Find a Good Photographer

We want to spend our money wisely. Photoshoots aren’t cheap. Make sure you choose the right photographer to get the job done.

The first place you can search is your veterinarian’s office. Sometimes, veterinarians can point you in the right direction when it comes to a professional pet photographer.

You can search the web for ‘pet photographer in Buffalo, New York’ for example and see what comes up.

Or, here’s where Instagram can come in handy. Type in the hashtag #petphotographer, #dogphotographer, or similar. You’ll likely come up with hundreds of amazing photos.

Pay close attention to the style of each photographer. This will help you narrow down your options. Which photos do you like best? Which poses? Which photographer captures not only the beauty of a dog but the personality as well?

Where Should the Photoshoot Take Place?

This is the next question. Location.

Where should we go to have the photos taken?

Your photographer may have suggestions, but she will probably recommend an area that offers plenty of sunlight in a certain time of the day.

After this point, it comes down to where your dog is completely comfortable and can be himself.

Be Flexible: Go with the Flow

When it comes to a dog’s photoshoot, flexibility and patience is critical.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, don’t panic. Plan a different day.

If your dog isn’t cooperating, don’t panic here either. Photos taken in your backyard could be the best photos you could capture.

The best photos are going to be taken when your dog is completely herself.

Don’t Forget the Treats

Even if the weather is a little on the ‘cooler’ side, don’t forget to bring plenty of water and treats for your pup.

The treats could serve as an excellent (and enticing) reward for your dog during her photoshoot.

Finally, Allow Her to Be Herself

Allowing your dog to be herself is critical and emphasized in several areas in this article. It’s tempting for us to try to make a photoshoot as perfect as possible.

But, that’s not really what we want.

We want our dogs (and ourselves) to look as casual and real as possible. And, let’s face it. We’ll end up quite disappointed if we walk into a photoshoot expecting our dog to be still the entire time.

Your dog might not want to stare directly into the camera or stand exactly where she’s placed. That’s okay. Understand that is to be expected. And, any professional pet photographer already knows this.

Let the photographer take the worry off your hands. All you need to do is stay happy and be calm. If you’re frustrated, your dog will sense that frustration and it could turn the photoshoot into being a loving act into an upsetting one.

All in All: The Take-Away

Let your dog be a dog. If you take nothing else from this article, simply take that statement. If you allow your dog to act exactly as she does when she’s not being photographed, you’ll be surprised at how fantastic the photographs turn out.

If you have any professional photographs or end up taking some with the advice of this article, we would love to see them. Feel free to share them on our Facebook page for the world to see!

My Puppy Needs to Sleep... And So Do I!

Yay! You adopted a dog. And, not just any dog. A PUPPY! Adorable. Fluffy. Perfect.

You, your family, and your puppy are so excited it’s hard to contain the happiness you’re feeling. Adding a pup to your family isn’t something to take lightly. And, oh. The life you will have sharing experiences with your dog will be priceless.

But, you’re exhausted. Your puppy isn’t sleeping through the night. She’s staying up barking, whining, and crying. She doesn’t want to be without you. And honestly, she probably has no idea what she wants either.

Can’t blame her, right? Dogs are social animals and they enjoy the company of others. On top of all the other changes she’s gone through, she has been taken from her mother, too.

There are a few tips to help your pup sleep through the night, so you can once again get that sleep you need so badly.

Play During the Day

If you play with your puppy during the day, she’s much more likely to sleep through the night. They’re tired out. A tired dog is a happy dog. And when they’re worn out, they want to sleep as badly as you do.

Even if your pup is too young to go for walks (due to not having all her vaccinations yet), it’s still important to make sure she gets enough mental and physical stimulation. You shouldn’t give up on exercise all together simply because she’s a little pup.

If you have a fenced-in yard, that makes it so much easier for you. If you don’t have a fenced-in area for your dog, this may be something worth looking into.

Play with toys.

Play fetch.

Chase one another around.

Make the most out of her training.

Walk her around the yard on the leash.

Grab some puzzle toys for mental stimulation.

All of these can help tremendously. You’ll be surprised at her change in behavior once you implement one or all the above activities.

Potty Breaks are Crucial

Puppies can’t ‘hold it in’ for long periods of time. Their little bladders don’t have enough control to prevent an accident if they aren’t taken out regularly (not their fault).

Your pup could wake you shortly after you fall asleep because they have a dire need to go outside and do their business.

To prevent this from happening too soon, be sure to take her out right before bedtime. By taking this simple step, you have just bought yourself more sleep time.

Get Comfy and Cozy

When bedtime arrives, you should truly make it feel like bedtime.

This might sound like a ‘given’ but you would be surprised at how much we do around the house once we realize it is time for bed.

If you have kids, you’re probably getting everything ready for school the next day. This also may be the time you sip your cup of tea. Or, have some quiet time to yourself to calm down from your busy day.

If you are around the house finishing things up for the day at bedtime, be sure not to bother your puppy while doing so.

To help your dog relax and fall asleep, dim the lights, put on some relaxing music, and give your puppy a nest that smells like you. They may not be directly next to you but will feel closer with your scent near their body.

DAP, or Dog Appeasing Pheromone, can also help tremendously with this process. DAP releases the hormone your dog once ‘smelled’ by their nursing mother.

Try Not to Switch it Up

Before you pick up your new puppy, look around your home for the best place to allow her to sleep.

Prepare your puppy’s bed in advance. Pick a spot for her bed that’s going to be comforting for her. If you’re not sure where that could be, just think of where you would want to go to relax in your home. It’s probably the same for her.

Or, maybe you want her to sleep with you.

It’s important to note here, if you let your puppy sleep with you in the beginning, the chances of her wanting to do this every night are extremely high.

There’s nothing wrong with your puppy sleeping with you but make sure it’s a choice you’re comfortable with. This will be hard to change later if it’s not what you want.

Crate Training Could Help

If you don’t want to sleep with your puppy, crate training or confinement are two options to consider.

Crate training can be the best choice for your puppy if they’re struggling to hold their bladder. If you don’t want to put your pup in a crate, simply choosing a confinement area may work.

If you’re using a confinement space rather than a crate, place a puppy pad right next to your pup’s bed just in case she feels the need to go potty while you’re sleeping.

If you decide on crate training, your puppy will need a middle-of-the-night potty break. Puppies can’t hold their bladder for more than a few hours. It’s not their fault, their bodies are just not made to hold it yet (P.S.- This is repeated multiple times on purpose. It’s common for humans to punish dogs for having accidents- especially puppies- don’t do this as it can hurt the bond you share with your dog for the rest of her life and it doesn’t help their bladder become larger either).

As a general guideline, if you don’t have a toy breed, a pup can hold their bladder for approximately as many hours as they are months old. For example, if you have a four-month-old puppy, she should be able to hold her bladder for up to four hours.

Don’t panic if your puppy doesn’t make it this long. And, don’t think they’re having accidents to spite you. They’re still learning.

Ignore the Whining

Yes, this is near impossible. Not only are we frustrated with the continuous whining and/or barking, but we usually feel terrible for leaving them in their crate as they’re crying.

But, guess what happens if you acknowledge this? Your puppy will learn to get what he wants by crying for it. If they make this connection, you’ll never sleep through the night.

Every time your pup wants something, if you tend to her every time she cries, she will be asking you for things all the time.

Get Some Beauty Sleep

Overall, there are ways to get more rest. But, you aren’t going to get that ‘full rest’ for a few months as your pup continues to grow. If you have someone helping you take care of your puppy, you can take turns letting her outside to go potty. Then, you’re not thoroughly exhausted every day.

My Puppy Needs Her Vaccinations But I’m Worried...

Yay! You have a new puppy! She’s adorable. You’re thrilled to have her in your family and her health is your first priority. This means taking her to the veterinarian for a check-up and probably some vaccinations (unless she’s up-to-date).

Before we go on to discuss vaccinations for puppies, we need to include a disclaimer here. This article is not designed to be a substitute for professional veterinary help. The purpose of this article is simply to help you understand vaccinations. And, make you more comfortable in making your decision of whether to vaccinate.

When you’re considering vaccinations for your freshly adopted, furry family member, you may be nervous or scared of reactions to vaccines. That’s perfectly understandable.

There are risks and benefits as with everything else. In this article, we’ll discuss adverse reactions/allergic reactions to vaccinations, what to do if you notice a reaction, and the pros and cons of vaccinating.

What Is an Adverse or Allergic Reaction?

The USDA, who licenses veterinary vaccines, describes an adverse reaction as any event that’s undesirable or unintended. Adverse reactions are those reactions which cause a negative effect to your dog’s health. This also includes failure of a vaccination where your dog’s body doesn’t reaction to the vaccine thus leaving her unprotected.

No Side Effects, Mild Side Effects, and Severe Side Effects

First, we’ll discuss the risks to the vaccinations.

Vaccines are generally considered to be safe, so you should just expect your puppy to be her normal happy self.

But, just as a precaution, we want to educate you on all possibilities.

‘No side effects’ is what is most commonly seen. Just like when you have received your vaccines as a child, you probably didn’t notice any changes in your health.

To the same extent, your dog’s behavior and health should not change following her vaccinations. If your dog is feeling a bit under the weather (sore and sleepy), that’s generally nothing to worry about as this effect only lasts a short period of time.

Mild Side Effects from Vaccinations

This is less common than ‘no side effects,’ but if your dog is experiencing mild side effects, you may notice a decrease in his physical activity and a little swelling where the vaccine was injected.

Keep in mind your dog’s body is fighting an invasion in an effort to create antibodies. Basically, the vaccination is injecting soldiers into our dog’s body. Our soldiers fight the soldiers the vaccine brought in. So, swelling is generally considered normal.

For example, the ‘soldier’ in the rabies vaccine is actually the rabies virus… the killed rabies virus.

After the vaccination, your dog’s immune system wakes up to make antibodies to the killed rabies virus (the foreign soldiers) so that if it ever sees it again, your dog has protective immunity. In essence, there will be no war because the war was already won by your dog’s own soldiers.

If your dog is experiencing soreness, swelling, or fatigue from the vaccines, you should see this disappear after a day or two.

When You Should Worry and Call Your Vet

There can be serious reactions to vaccinations, but these are highly uncommon. Still worth discussing though just in case, right? Better to be safe than sorry.

If you notice any of the symptoms below, you should call your veterinarian immediately. If your veterinarian isn’t open, contact an emergency veterinarian near you.

·       Continuous vomiting (if your dog can’t hold anything down)

·       Continuous diarrhea

·       Inability to stand or lack of consciousness (falling over, fainting)

·       Any swelling on your dog’s muzzle, face, or eyes. The swelling may look like puffy eyes squinted eyes, and/or a ‘swollen’ appearance to your dog’s head

·       Any type of rash or hives

·       Difficulty breathing

All the above reactions could be due to an allergic reaction to the vaccines and can occur anywhere from minutes to hours following the visit to your vet.

The signs of a severe reaction are easily noticeable. The moment you notice any of these reactions, don’t panic as your dog can feel your emotions, but contact your veterinarian immediately.

If your puppy is one who has experienced a reaction and you’d hoped to have her vaccinated, the veterinarian usually has other options available.

If your puppy does experience a reaction, stay positive. Your veterinarian will have other options for you in the future to keep your puppy protected. These can include individualized booster vaccines tailored to your dog’s lifestyle, providing anti-inflammatories and/or observation for the next round of vaccines, and more.

The Good of Vaccinations

The good is obvious. Your dog is less likely (or has close to zero chance) of contracting the virus she is vaccinated against. Rabies, Parvo, Distemper, etc.

This may seem as if it’s not really a big deal after discussing all the risks. But, just think about if your dog were to contract one of the conditions vaccinations protect them against.

If your dog were to contract rabies from let’s say, a raccoon, he would experience paralysis of the throat, jaw muscles, foaming at the mouth, lack of coordination, paralysis of his hind legs, seizures, and the list goes on. That would be terrible. And, that’s only one condition out of the list.

When it comes to vaccinating your puppy, the benefits generally outweigh the risks. After your pup is vaccinated, he will be protected from a list of preventable dangerous diseases, thanks to you.

But, before you make any decisions for your dog, make sure you’re educated. Learn as much as possible about your dog’s health and how vaccinations could impact it. Discuss vaccinations with your veterinarian. Every dog is different.

Can Essential Oils Help My Dog?

There’s so much talk about essential oils these days. We’re trying to live healthier, longer lives along with our pets. We’re learning as much as we can about all of these natural ‘things.’

There are so many essential oils companies showing up, too. DoTerra, Melaleuca, Young Living. If there’s so much growth here, then there has to be something good going on here.

Onto the big question, though.

Do they really work? And, what can they be used for? We’ll discuss this and more in today’s article.

Calming Oils: Oils to Reduce Anxiety and/or Irritability

Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): This oil helps to provide a calming ‘mood’ for dogs who are feeling anxious or nervous. Roman chamomile can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.

Hops (Humulus lupulus): Hops can help calm a dog who is anxious, nervous, or irritable. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically on your dog.

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis): Valerian root is a relaxant and mild sedative. It offers calming and soothing support for your dog when she is experiencing anxiety, panic or some sort of tension.

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans): Nutmeg can help a dog who is anxious or hyperactive with scattered energy. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): This oil has many uses, but most commonly, lavender can be used to soothe and comfort a dog who is experiencing distress and/or anxiety. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog. (P.S.- This oil can also be used for allergies, burns, ulcers, and insomnia).

Oils for Fearful Dogs: Dogs Who are Feeling Stressed Out

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii): On its own, or with the support of other essential oils that help reduce a dog’s fearful emotions, Frankincense can help reduce extreme stress. This oil is used in severe cases of fear to help a dog ‘come back to the ground.’ This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Violet Leaf (Viola odorata): If a dog is shocked or hesitant toward a situation, violet leaf can be used to reduce feelings of nervousness by providing a feeling of comfort and safety. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Linden Blossom (Tilia cordata). Linden blossom can assist in providing a sense of safety and trust. This oil is commonly recommened for dogs who have a history of abuse. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum): Sandalwood provides support on a physical and emotional level. Dogs who have emotional imbalances, worry, or uncertainly of situations are among those who can benefit from this oil. It can be very effective on its own, or in combination with other essential oils. And, can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Oils for Aggression: Let’s Provide Some Comfort

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia): Vanilla has comforting and nurturing qualities for dogs who experience nervous tension, irritability, and/or anger. Dogs who have been known to bite are among those who this oil is recommended to. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea): This oil is generally recommended for female dogs but can also be used for male dogs who are experiencing feelings of anger, frustration, and/or mood swings. This oil has been found to have soothing effects. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Yarrow has not only shown the ability to heal physical imbalances, but emotional imbalances as well. This could be a dog who has experienced trauma, neglect, and/or abuse… or a dog who is over-sensitive. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Rose Otto (Rosa damascena). Rose Otto is recommended for dogs who have a history of neglect, abuse, or suffering of some kind. This oil is also recommended for dogs who are displaying any sort of aggression. It’s important to note that alternative veterinarians have a disclaimer with this oil… a dog may continue to display aggressive behavior in the beginning of the use of Rose Otto but you may see positive results once your dog has been exposed. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides): Vetiver provides comfort and reassurance for an anxious dog showing aggression. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Oils for Sadness: Relieving the Depression

Neroli (Citrus aurantium): There are many dogs who do not particularly care for this oil. But, if your dog will accept this oil, it can be used to support a dog who is experiencing depression, grief, or loneliness. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use).

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint has been known to have a calming effect on dogs (and humans!). And, can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Don’t Stop Here… There’s More to Learn

This article just brushes the surface of essential oils.

It’s not meant to be a ‘you’re ready to do this’ type of article. You must do your own research before using any essential oil on your dog.

Print this out for reference- and ask a holistic or alternative veterinarian if your individual dog would benefit. Remember, every dog is different. And, depending on the health of your dog, some may be acceptable whereas other aren’t recommended.

And, not all oils should be treated equal… make sure the oil you are purchasing is of high-quality.

There are hundreds of ‘fake oils’ out there. You want your first impression to be as good as it can be. If you try out a ‘bad’ essential oil first, you won’t know if it’s really helpful for your dog (or for you).

You should never place an essential oil on your dog’s skin (or let them inhale/ ingest) without first fully understanding the oil you’re using.

Bottom line… be sure to do further research before implementing essential oils into your dog’s routine.

What is Holistic Pet Care?

August 30, 2018 is National Holistic Pet Day. Since many dog lovers are new to this, we would like to share some information about what holistic health truly means.

To put it simply, holistic health is an approach to wellness that incorporates a dog’s body, mind, and spirit. Holistic health is about living a preventative lifestyle.

Rather than waiting for a condition to happen, the goal with holistic medicine is to prevent that condition from occurring via various wellness techniques.

The number of dog lovers who wish to learn about holistic health is increasing significantly each year.

Once you have made the decision to learn about holistic health, you can then learn how to strengthen your dog’s food, body, mind, and spirit.

Let’s Eat Healthy

As you may have already guessed, nutrition plays a key role in your dog’s health and wellness (and ours, too!). By feeding your dog a diet that’s natural and organic, you provide your dog with a potentially much-needed immune boost thereby reducing the risk of developing health conditions.

Our dog’s body (nor ours) is designed to handle the dyes, preservatives, or chemicals that are put in all kinds of food each day. Most dog food (and human food) is overly processed and truly not good for a mammal’s body.

Feeding a high-quality dog food can also help your dog fight allergies (one of the main causes of allergies in dogs has to do with their commercial diet). Not only does high-quality dog food help fight allergies but also reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, intestinal problems, and other food-related health conditions.

If you’re having trouble determining what is best to feed your dog, you can search for an alternative veterinarian or holistic veterinarian who has extensive knowledge in this field.

And, the water. Don’t forget about the water. You know that water that comes from your city source? You know, the one you probably drink daily and provide to your dog? That water often contains fluoride, chlorine, and other chemicals to keep it ‘clean.’

Don’t panic if you have been drinking this and allowing your pet to drink it. Most people don’t know those chemicals can be found in city water.

You can keep your dog (and yourself) safe by using filtered water, never re-use plastic bottles to fill their water bowl (the plastic bottles really aren’t good either) and be certain to use stainless steel dog bowls rather than plastic doggy bowls.

Work the Body

When you think of keeping your body healthy, what’s the first step that usually comes to mind other than diet? YES, exercise. Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand.

Not only does exercise reduce excess weight, but it lowers cholesterol levels, reduces anxiety, reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces the risk of diabetes, and can even help reduce the risk of developing various types of cancer!

Don’t let exercise get boring, either. Usually, we start off strong and slowly go back to our normal sedentary lifestyle. Of course, walking is the most common form of exercise. But, games like fetch also provide your dog with some healthy fun.

Fleas and Ticks are Terrible

Fleas and ticks are horrible… especially in the summer. So, what do we do? We grab that flea medicine to place on our dog’s skin. That absorbs and kills the fleas. Right?

If you want to take a holistic approach to your dog’s health, those aren’t really labeled as acceptable. Dog lovers practicing a holistic approach use natural grooming products. And, natural flea and tick preventatives. Usually, this consists of a mix of essential oils.

The Mind and Spirit at Peace

We have discussed nutrition and taking care of the body physically. Now, let’s move on to the mental side of the spectrum.

Mental stimulation is a crucial puzzle piece in your dog’s wellness puzzle. A healthy, well-balanced brain is critical. Don’t forget to stimulate those brain cells.

If you take a walk through your local pet store, you will see there are several toys designed to do just that. Take a look at the puzzles your local store offers… or take a look on Amazon. This might take some ‘testing.’ Each dog has a different preference as to what they call ‘fun.’

If you grab one puzzle, and your dog isn’t a fan, don’t give up just yet. That puzzle may not be for her. Try another.

Most dogs also need social interaction with other dogs. Find a compatible dog and go on a doggy playdate. Or, if none of your friends have a dog, take a trip to your local dog park. Let your dog play… a tired dog is a happy dog.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself

We know that’s a lot of information to take in at one time. We just discussed literally every aspect of your dog’s well-being. If you don’t think you can handle all of this at once, take it step by step. Start by ensuring your dog’s mental health is met and move on to their nutrition… for example. And, if you need help, don’t forget your veterinarian is there to help you.

Bark, Bark, Bark... What?

Most dog lovers will tell you, “I can hear differences in my dog’s bark. My dog has a different bark for individual situations.”

At first, we might look at them like they can’t possibly tell. But, they’re right.

Your dog does have different bark styles to let you know what they are talking about. This is one of the ways they communicate with you.

Each bark serves a different purpose.

Isn’t that interesting?

BARK #1: TERRITORIAL BARKING

Territorial barking is that bark that says ‘this is my territory,’ and ‘stay away.’ Their territory does not only mean the area they’re in… it could also be a person (like you), another dog, or even their entire walking space.

Does your dog take the same walk each day? Maybe you go from one street to the next, then around the block, each and every day. This could easily become their ‘territory’ if they feel necessary.

BARK #2: ATTENTION-BARKING

An attention-bark is just what it sounds like. The attention bark is the sound your dog makes when she is trying to get your attention (or someone else’s).

This bark says ‘look at me, pet me, love me.’ Or, it could just mean ‘play with me!’

BARK #3: ALARM BARKING

The alarm bark says… “HEY, HEY, HEY!”

“Uh-oh!”… “Family, look!”

When you hear this, your dog is likely barking at a certain sight or sound.

BARK #4: FRUSTRATION BARKING

When your dog enters a frustrating situation, you’ll likely hear a ‘frustration bark.’

This bark isn’t always a response to something frustrating to him. This could just be in response to an upsetting situation.

If you don’t want your dog to enter a certain room and you put a gate up, this could lead to a frustration bark. Your dog is wanting to get into that room, but there’s an obstacle in his way he can’t get through.

Another example could be when you’re in an argument with your significant other. This isn’t directly affecting your dog. But, dogs are able to sense our emotions and this could lead to frustration.

BARK #5: GREETING BARK

Yay! The greeting bark! Yay! My family is home!

The greeting bark is emitted when a dog is excited to see you! When he is greeting barking, his tail is likely wagging and he’s displaying playful body language.

He’s missed you tremendously while you’ve been gone… even if it’s only been a few minutes.

BARK #6: SEPARATION ANXIETY BARKING

Finally, excessive separation anxiety barking generally happens when the dog’s guardian is away from the home. Or, just separated from you in general.

This is the type of barking your neighbor would probably complain about when you leave the house. Why? Because the separation anxiety bark is continuous. Your dog is essentially screaming ‘come back, come back, come back, come back’ repeatedly. And, sometimes won’t stop until you return.

The separation anxiety bark also lets you know your dog misses you… as frustrating as this may be sometimes.

BARK, BARK, BARK

Every ‘bark’ your dog makes means something. It’s important to pay close attention to the way your dog barks. You’ll learn how your individual dog communicates his feelings. And, this will help you build a greater bond with your dog.

You’ll understand her wants and needs.

Understanding why she is barking will also help you should she ever need behavior modification. And, help you understand if there is something wrong whether that be she’s hurt, there’s an intruder in the home, or otherwise.

Is a Dog Training Class Really Worth it?

If you’ve adopted a puppy or an adult dog recently, you might be wondering if you should invest time and money into dog training? Is dog training truly necessary or should you just train at home instead?

Whether you’re struggling with reinforcing training with your resident dog, or interested in your newly adopted dog being trained, general training (and training all together) has a huge number of benefits to both you and your dog.

Dog training services don’t only train your dog, either. There’s so much to learn when you enroll your dog in an obedience class.

SAFE AND SOUND

The first point, and the most important point, is training ensures your dog’s safety and well-being.

If your dog is obedient, respects you, and listens to you, she is much less likely to run away and is more likely to come when called. She will escape dangerous situations simply because you asked her not to.

Socialization is also key in the process. A trained and properly socialized dog is often significantly less aggressive toward other dogs and people (and even cats!).

Not only does this ensure your dog’s safety, but the safety of other people and pets as well.

If you have a puppy, start early. If obedience classes are an experience you’re interested in, start as quickly as possible.

BUSY OWNERS: TOO MUCH ON OUR PLATES

Sometimes families enroll their dog in obedience classes simply because they don’t have the time to fully train their dog. Dogs in training require an extensive amount of time spent. And, let’s face it, it’s ridiculously difficult to juggle work, family, and everything else going on in our hectic lives. Heck, we might not even have time to shower ourselves some days we’re so busy.

If you do have time, it is recommended you train your dog yourself, though. You’ll see why in the following section.

CREATE A STRONG, LASTING BOND

Most families don’t adopt a dog simply to say they have a dog in their household. We want to build a strong bond with our dogs and continue to keep that bond as strong as possible.

Research has shown trained dogs have a better bond with their family.

Now, that’s a bold statement right there.

Positive training encourages communication between your dog and yourself therefore opening the lines for clear communication among one another.

A dog who is trained understands respect, rules, and other priorities in your home. This allows you, and your family, to experience the most amazing love.

TRAIN TO PROTECT, RETRIEVE, OR ALERT

Once you lay down a basic framework of obedience rules and commands for your dog to follow, you may decide you want to teach him or her a special skill.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

It’s completely up to you.

As your dog moves further throughout formal basic training, he or she will be able to learn more advanced commands that involve protecting you, retrieving important objects you need when you are unable to, or even alerting you to danger.

Your dog is a part of your family, and you know her best, so be sure to do what’s best for her and yourself. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us here at PetKey!

Wait, Don’t Pee There!

Let’s look at this scenario… and you can let us know if this has ever happened. You have been away from home for several hours. You left your dog at home because she couldn’t accompany you while you were at work. You walk in the door. She’s so excited… acting as if she hasn’t seen you in years. All of a sudden… there’s a little yellow puddle of a pee on the floor.

You’re overwhelmed, frustrated, and upset. You didn’t want to come home to clean up pee.

Don’t worry. If this has happened to you, please know that it’s a common occurrence.

This article will address what excitement urination is and how to manage it. Even if your dog isn’t going through this phenomenon, this article is still worth the read. You never know when you’ll get that new pup (or doggy) who will experience this.

Excitement Urination: What is it?

Excitement urination generally occurs when greeting your dog. You may also notice some pee puddles during playtime when your dog is getting all wound up.

It’s important to note, your dog will not be showing any submissive body language if he’s peeing due to excitement. He won’t be giving you the whale eye. He won’t look scared. He won’t have a hunched back or his tail tucked between his legs.

He’ll just appear to be happy.

He will probably be jumping around, tail wagging, with those excited eyes staring at you ready to go!

Does Age Matter?

Excitement urination most commonly occurs in young dogs and puppies who don’t quite have control of their little bladders.

Don’t worry, most dogs get rid of this behavior with time (after one year of age).

In some cases, this behavior continues because it’s being reinforced. You may not know you’re encouraging the behavior.

If you pet and talk to your dog in an excited manner while she’s excitement peeing, you’ll be letting her know all is well and the likelihood of the behavior continuing is high.

What Are the Recommendations?

Before you do anything, you must visit your veterinarian. Yes, this could be a behavior issue, but it’s important to rule out any medical problems before working on the behavior side.

The medical side always comes first. Get the clearance and go from there.

In the meantime, greeting and playing outdoors is recommended until you have resolved the problem. Then you won’t be picking up pee puddles (or not cleaning up as much).

Be sure to take walks frequently. Take long walks. Take short walks. Mix up the ‘path’ of your walk.

Make sure your dog can empty her bladder as often as possible.

When your dog goes pee on walks, be sure to praise her and don’t forget the treats. If you feel you’re giving too many treats, you can grab a handful of her daily kibble to give her for being a good girl.

Keep your greetings normal. Don’t talk in a baby voice or act overly excited when you get home. We know it’s hard not to. After all, we have missed our pup. But, it’s important. We want our dog to get back on track for our dog’s behavioral well-being (and our own sanity so we aren’t cleaning up pee all the time).

Once your dog calms from your return, you can show him some love and give some cuddles.

The final point, and the most important point, is not to punish your dog. This is extremely important. If you don’t take anything else from this article, we hope you take this point with you. Punishing your dog severely damages the bond you share. Punishment may work, but it’s not worth breaking the trust you share. And, it could damage your relationship with your dog for the rest of her life.

The Bottom Line on Excitement

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the situation, don’t feel bad for walking away for a few moments to take a breath. Calm down. Then return to the situation and think about what’s best.

Of course, if you’re feeling extremely frustrated, you may want to book a consult with a canine behaviorist.

Be patient. And remember, if your dog is under one year old, this is a behavior that could simply be due to her bladder not being ‘ready’ to hold much urine.

Let’s Talk in Cat Language

Everyone is always talking about a dog’s body language. But, what about cats? Cats have a language of their own, too. They’re clearly more independent than most dogs so they’re harder to understand. Paying attention to their small cues will help you understand your kitty more, though!

The Cat’s Tail: Wagging and More

Your cat’s tail alone can give you some insight on how she’s feeling.

If your cat’s tail is up, this generally indicates she’s feeling happy. She’s ready to be approached. Go ahead and walk up to her to show some love.

If your cat’s tail is down, you probably don’t want to approach. The tail down generally means your cat fears a certain something or is feeling threatened.

Like dogs, cats also wag their tails… but it’s not a good thing. If your cat is wagging his tail quickly back and forth, there’s a good possibility he’s extremely irritated.

If the tail wag is slow, your kitty is trying to figure out how she should feel about the situation she’s in. Her ‘mood’ can go any direction at this point.

Finally, if she’s rigid with her tail straight up (often known as the Halloween cat pose), she’s not in a fantastic mood. She could be on the verge of completely losing it and you don’t want her to ‘lose it’ on you. The Halloween pose is your cat’s way of making herself look bigger than she is to defend herself.

Paying Attention to the Ears

Your cat’s ears can tell you what’s going on in her mind, too (to an extent). If your cat’s ears are slightly forward, he’s feeling happy and could be waiting for your loving hand to run through her silky fur.

When your cat’s ears are ‘standing at attention’ straight up, she’s alert and paying close attention to her surroundings.

When his ears are turned back, this kitty isn’t in the mood to have anything to do with anyone. He’s feeling irritated, frustrated, and/or plain out angry.

This leads us to the next ear position… sideways ears (or back, still). Ears that are sideways or back can also mean your kitty is feeling anxious or nervous about something.

Finally, if her ears are flat against her head, she’s feeling scared and/or defensive. This ‘ear stance’ is also an indication of aggression in some cases.

Eyes Tell All

You look into your cat’s beautiful gazing eyes nearly every day. But, did you realize there is a TON of information that can be gained from the eyes of your kitty?

Take a look at her pupils.

If her pupils are dilated, your cat could be ready to play, scared, or surprised. If your cat’s pupils are constricted, this could be a sign of aggression.

Now, you’re probably asking how you know what your kitty is thinking based on her eyes. It’s important to remember that you need to look at body language as a whole.

Have you ever had your cat stare at you? We don’t mean look over quickly and look away again. We’re talking a full out stare contest. If you have noticed this behavior, you have been in a ‘challenge’ with your cat.

Sllllooowwww blinking. Your kitty is slow blinking… not staring you down. In this case, your cat feels safe in your company. This is one way of letting you know she trusts you and you’re her ‘safe place.’

If your cat’s eyes are half closed… well. What do you think that means? What does it mean when we (as humans) have our eyes half closed? Yes! Those droopy eyes show your cat is relaxed, trusting, and probably ready to take her nap.

Take a Step Back

Now that we’ve reviewed a cat’s body language, the next time you see your kitty, take a step outside of the box and observe her behavior. By paying close attention to your cat’s body language, you’ll develop a better relationship. You’ll start understanding her language and be able to better communicate with her.

Don’t panic if this seems extremely difficult at first. Understanding body language in dogs and cats takes quite a bit of practice in many cases. Most pet parents don’t immediately understand how to read their kitty especially.

Take the time. Be patient. You can even keep a journal!