Psssst…Correcting bad behavior is as simple as that.

As a resent gift, we received on DVD, Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan. While this is not a review of Dog Whisperer, I did find his methods of correcting bad behavior very interesting. The one point he stresses repeatedly is the need to maintain dominance and control. To be the pack leader and act like the pack leader. He uses a psssst sound as a signal of displeasure or disapproval. This usually gets the dogs attention and if it doesn’t, he will poke several fingers in the dogs neck and make the psssst sound at the same time. He says this simulates dog’s teeth and for a dog, biting is a natural method of correcting bad behavior.

Pearl is a hound mix that became a resident of RiverRest after showing up as a stray last summer. Opie is our retriever mix and she has been the only dog for several years now, at seven years she is not a young pup any more. Problem is Pearl does not realize this and wants to romp and roll and play tug-a-war with Opies neck. The psssst method has been very effective in correcting this behavior. It has also been successful in teaching her to sit and wait while Opie goes out the door first. I find this much more effective than shouting “NO”.

If you haven’t seen the Dog Whisperer I do recommend it. Cesar Millan is informative and entertaining with his methods of behavioral training.

Senior Pet Care

Even with treatment, arthritis makes animals less able to deal with the physical challenges of their world, whether it be the chilly climate, slick floors or steep steps, As your pet’s human “parent,” however, you can make some of these challenges easier for your faithful companions. A few alterations around the house can help your arthritic pet move around more easily and confidently.

Read the rest of this story in The Holistic Pet Journal

Natural Cat Care Tip: Cat Litter Alternatives

I remember when clumping cat litter first came on the market. I was working at a boarding kennel. We thought it was well… the cat’s meow! I also remember it was expensive compared to the old clay litter. You still had to scoop it every day. The advantage was you didn’t have to change it as often.

All you had to do was scoop and keep adding more litter to the box. However, no matter how much baking soda or magic crystals they add to the clumping litter, when used it still has an unpleasant odor to it. I also have a problem with the dust it creates. I just don’t like commercial cat litter and I don’t like the cost.

Over the years I have tried a lot of alternatives to store bought kitty litter.

My criteria for cat litter are:

  • the cat’s like it
  • it’s absorbent
  • it’s lightweight
  • it’s a natural and renewable material
  • it’s cost effective

I have tried materials like shredded up newspaper (too much work) & potting soil (too heavy to empty). One day I was filling our dog’s house with Cedar kennel bedding when it hit me. This would make a great cat litter. So I tried it out in one of the cats’ litter boxes. It worked pretty good. It is absorbent. It is lightweight and it’s a natural, renewable material and it smells really good. It costs about $5.00 for a huge bag that will last forever.

But, like a lot of things, I’m always looking for better ideas. I was thinking about chickens one day and it hit me again. I wonder how corn cob litter would work as cat litter. It’s used for other animals. Well I never got a chance to try it because I couldn’t find it in a large enough bag to make it cost effective.

What I did find was Cedar shavings cousin, Pine Shavings. I came home with a huge bag of Natural Pine Shavings. The cost was about $5.00, the same as the Cedar. The difference in the two is that Pine shavings are smaller & softer than Cedar shavings. Perfect! The cats love it. Even my most finicky feline will use it. So I guess, unless “it” hits me again, my cats will have good ole natural Pine in their boxes.

Have you found an alternative to commercial cat litter? Please share it with us. Leave a comment.

Chained Dog Pet or Prisoner?

dogs-deserve-better-log-chainIt breaks my heart to see a dog on a chain. It makes me wonder why their people even have a dog. To be tied up and alone 24/7, what kind of life is that for a dog? Most dogs that are chained get very little love and attention. They see their people briefly maybe once or twice a day when they are (hopefully) brought food and water.

Chained dogs cannot run if attacked by other animals. Their living area usually becomes a muddy mess in a rain. The dogs themselves become dirty and smelly, making them less desirable to pet and interact with, making them even lonelier. They live in what ever extremes the weather can bring.

A chained dog can become a dangerous dog. They are afraid and Dogs Deserve Betterdefensive, a very dangerous combination. The Dogs Deserve Better website states, “Chaining is not only inhumane for dogs, but has taken a severe toll on this nation’s children as well. In the period from October 2003 through January 2008, there were at least 196 children killed or seriously injured by chained dogs across the country.”

Dogs are our fellow Earthlings. They deserve respect just like any living creature, including humans. If you have a dog on a chain I encourage you to please take steps to act responsibly toward your pet. Get rid of that chain. Fence in your yard or put up a kennel enclosure where your dog can spend a few hours a day in safe environment. Another alternative is Invisible Fencing. You dog can be free to roam and will stay in the area that you designate. I think you’ll be surprised at the change in your dogs’ attitude. Heck, you might even start to like him & actually spend time with him. Take him for walks. It will do you both good. I guarantee he’ll be happier and I’ll bet you will too.

dogs-deserve-better-doogieI encourage everyone to visit the organization called Dogs Deserve Better. Read about the rescue of Doogie, a dog that was chained and left to die. Learn how you can help Doogies’ rescuer and founder of Dogs Deserve Better, Tammy Grimes. She was arrested after rescuing and providing medical care to Doogie.

Tammy Grimes, founder of Dogs Deserve Better, was arrested September 11, 2006 for helping a dying chained dog named Doogie who could not stand… Read & see the rest of Doogie and Tammy’s story

Stray Cat Flea Remedy

Do it yourself pet careOne evening last November, I was outside rounding up all of our “children” to put them inside safe & sound for the night. There was one cat that I couldn’t find so I started calling her name. I heard a faint meow & shined the flashlight in that direction. Coming up the driveway I saw our dog with a cat walking beside of her. Doing a double take, I saw that it wasn’t one of our cats!

Our dog had brought home a stray kitten. This kitten was very friendly & looked in need of help. She had raw spots all over her head. Upon close examination I saw that she had fleas. I knew two things. 1: I had to get rid of the fleas and 2: I had to keep her from scratching her head until the sores healed.

I dusted her with Diatomaceous Earth for the fleas. Now how was I going to keep her from scratching? If I had an Elizabethan collar that would work. But alas, I’m 15 miles to the nearest vet or pet supply store. So like any self-respecting home-insteader I made my own!

Here’s how you can make you own Elizabethan Collar:

Take a paper plate (Chinette works pretty good) and cut a hole just big enough to slip over the cats head. This will last a day or two. I just made up a few ahead of time & keep replacing them as needed. I also recycled some of those large mailing envelopes like the USPS & FedX use. Any paperboard like cereal boxes will work. Just cut them to the size of a paper plate & cut the hole in the middle.

This size worked well for my kitten. You may have to adjust the dimensions so that the animal can eat & drink water. For larger animals you’ll need to use your imagination. Try an ice cream bucket for instance.

Do it yourself pet care

Sometimes you just have to take pet care to a simpler level. Oh, and by the way, the cat I was looking for that night? I found her already comfortably snoozing on our bed.

©2008 Susan Hoke