Why buying cat toys can be a waste of money?

The pet market is huge!! But what you don’t realize is that there are several objects in your home that are just as entertaining as a store bought toy and a whole lot cheaper.

I realized early on with my own cat that she is happy playing with so many different things. I have bought her so many toys and scratch pads but these are the alternatives and cost me nothing!

I leave my bike in my house and my cat loves to use the tire as a scratching post. She doesn’t destroy the tire and it has completely eliminated her urge to scratch. Even our scratching board we bought has been forgotten. Not everyone will like there cat scratching at their bike but if you don’t mind this is awesome and entertaining to watch.

We also bought all these floor toys so instead use old sports equipment . Tennis balls are great. My cat plays with my old tennis balls for hours. She also enjoys the rumba ( cleaning robot). I turn it on in my house (and on my cat camera ) I can see her following it around and playing. It is great to entertain her all day at home. Another great object in your home are boxes. Ever time we receive gifts or packages in the mail I give all the wrapping paper and boxes to my cat. She seems to really loves boxes. She sits in them, hides in them , pushes them around the house. It is funny for us as it is for her, and the nice thing is now when we do get these packages she knows and she anticipates the excitement. The whole family is happy !

Other great home-made toys involve using a wire hanger and unravelling it so it is straight. Then attach a sock or wrapping paper to the wire hanger and then dangle in front of your cat. This is a great replacement for the store bought dangle toy.

The one store made toy I love though and would not replace is my circle interactive scratch toy. My cat plays with it everyday and I have even trained my cat to come to the noise it makes. To recall me cat, I say her name but she doesn’t always reply so to encourage her to come I spin the ball in the toy. She runs to control every time !!

No matter if you buy toys or you make them yourselves, know that toys are an important part of an animals mental and physical stimulation. But if you do not want to feed into the billion dollar pet toy business, get creative and make a toy special for your animal that you know they will enjoy.

Remember you do not have to be rich to own an animal you just need to be loving and creative to give them what they need !!


How to give your dog attention

Do you know when to give attention to your dog or cat? Most people would say yes but you would be surprised how wrong they are!

Give attention to your dog or cat when they are quiet and laying down. So if you are watching tv and your dog is just sitting there reinforce that behavior with love, praise or treats! Don’t ignore this good behavior and then when your door bell rings and your dog barks give him attention. This happens all the time people don’t give attention to good behavior and then when an undesired behavior occurs that is what gets their attention . This tells the dog that being quiet and calm is less rewarding then being loud and barking . Thus increasing the possibility of undesired behaviors.

This works for ever animal scenario.

Lets say in the morning you know that your cat loves being fed. He is quiet and you haven’t got out of bed just to put food down in the bowl. You wait in bed and now your cat meows or scratches . So you get up, talk to your cat and feed him, and this is how a loud annoying cat behavior starts. Instead of feeding a quiet cat you wait till they make noises and then you feed them .

You always want to set yourself up for success so anticipate poor behavior and give attention to your animals when they are good and ignore the bad behaviors and then just watch your lives improve just from this simple change.

Happy Training


How do I stop my dog from eating poop?


“Coprophagia”, meaning the act of a dog eating poop, can be one of the more disgusting habits dogs acquire. Not only is this a gross habit but it can cause an upset stomach to your dog resulting in diarrhea or other bowel problems.

But this is not an uncommon occurrence. Many dogs eat their own or other dog’s droppings, but why?

Before dogs were domesticated, they were living in the wild fending for themselves. These pack animals had natural predators and to keep safe dogs would eat their fecal material. This consumption help keep predators from finding their dens. Now that dogs have had hundreds of years of domestication this instinct has greatly diminished. However, if you find that your dog has begun eating their poop this can be due to boredom or because they find it reinforcing.

But how do I stop it!?!?

To stop coprophagia, here are several helpful tips to rid your dog of this habit.

1) You can buy a chew tablet or pill from your vet that makes their fecal distasteful and unappealing. Dogs under 40 pounds usually only need 1/2 a pill to 1 full pill. So be observant to determine the dosage.

2) pick up poo in your yard or pee pads. Removing the poo helps to avoid and eliminate further problems .

3) place an aversive on the poop! Hot sauce has been a common product. This helps your dog to associate fecal with a negative feeling and thus will help to stop the problem .

In my opinion, if you have multiple dogs or indoor dogs that use pads the pills and chew tablets are a great help. Many clients have reported success with this product .

Remember that this a fairly common problem and it is not actually harmful to your dog but it is a dirty habit that can be treated.


How to stop a cat from peeing on your rugs…

When a cat stops using the litter box, there’s always a reason. Your first impulse could be to shout at the cat, but remember that will just frighten and confuse your cat. Despite common belief, cats are not vengeful, and they  are not going outside his box to get revenge. We always want to end positively with our animals. So if mistakes happen and you can catch them or you see them on the carpet, put them on the litter and if they go, use praise.
In turn we need to analyzed and understand what may have triggered this change from your cat using to the litter to not using the litter, such as adding another cat, loosing a cat, declawing your  cat, or something terrorizing them may have inadvertently caused the problem.
Remember the longer the behavior persists, the more likely it is to become habit. If you have more than one cat, you may want to use a color stain to see what cat is going where.  Your vet can give you a special non-toxic stain given by mouth that will show up in the urine( if you want).
Since there is a type of surface upon which your cat eliminates soft rugs or tile you can modify your litter to match it. If she likes soft surfaces like carpeting, buy a softer, finer litter, and put a carpet remnant in her box. If your cat likes tile then put tile in the litter box with some litter over it.
Make sure your litter boxes  have a 360-degree view. This will give them confidence while they are in the box and make them less prone to ambush. Also, place the box so that he has more than one way out (i.e. don’t have the box surrounded on three sides). Finally, place multiple boxes in multiple locations to give your cat more options.
Cats may dislike the litter you use, especially if you’ve recently and suddenly changed brands. If you must switch brands, do so gradually, adding more of the new litter to the old with each cleaning. Most cats prefer their litter unscented, and an inch or two deep.
Finally, give as many boxes as there are cats in the house—plus one.This decreases competition and gives each cat a box of their own. This great for the cats and make sure that where their litter  stays it is in a calm, quiet and safe place.
If the dog scares your cat and they were in the litter, the litter can be seen as negative now and they wont use it. If your cat was declawed the feeling of harsh litter can also be a huge reason they are not using the litter. Finally the main reason besides sudden changes in the household is medical reasons.
If your cat has suddenly  stopped using their litter look to see if they are having trouble urinating or crying while urinating. This could be a UTI (urinary track infection). Common in male cats and something your vet needs to take care of. Also if your cat has a history of kidney or liver disease that can cause them to consume more water and thus pee more.
Finally spraying can be the last culprit. Even though unspayed cats are usually the one to spray 10% of neutered males and 5% of spayedfemales can spray. Spray is usually on vertical objects and can begin due to multiple cats in the home or feral cats outside.
Cats not using the litter is a hard and common battle but if you can pin point why your cat is uncomfortable then the solutions get easier.

Aversive Conditioning (Good or Bad?)

This week is all about aversives, or a way to help avoid an undesirable behavior by helping the client to associate that activity with a negative outcome.

These people and dogs are not associated with my training or company, but have allowed me to see different types of aversives that they use on their dogs.

I always train animals behaviorally, by understanding the root of the problem behavior and having the dog learn and fix this problem or fear on their own. Now not every trainer uses positive reinforcement training and thus they revert to shock collars, spray collars, or punishment to help stop the undesired behavior.

This experiment will give me and in turn my readers insight into these pros and cons of aversives.

Spray collars

Today I am observing a small breed dog with a spray collar. I am taking into consideration the duration of the barking period in response to the aversive spray.

Does the dog indeed stop barking? For the small breed dog, who barks regularly we saw a very quick response. He managed to bark twice. Twice the spray offered an unpleasant mist and once the dog realized that the spray was only occurring when he was barking, the barking stopped. He barked 30 mins later once again the spray went off. Immediate silence.

Now was the dog comfortable. My observations say “no”. Being alone was still uncomfortable for the dog but the barking was no longer the way to express the feeling. Instead there were quieter moans and whimpering followed by a long-awaited relaxation period nearly 1 hour later.

This owner seems pleased with the spray despite the fact that her dog’s coat smells like the spray and the actually problem behavior which was a separation anxiety is not cured but merely masked.

Since I don’t use aversives in my training it was interesting to have a comprehensive understanding of what these devices do.

Tomorrow a medium breed dog will be analyzed for the same spray collar. Results to follow


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