Monthly Archives: November 2015

10 Reasons Your Dog Needs to Go to Stores

By: Carol Bryant, Fidose of Reality

 

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Do you take your dog to PetSmart for retail therapy? Does he or she get excited on arrival like our dog does?

“I train German police dogs. They send them to me, with all this formal training, they are prepared to defend and protect, but they are clueless when it comes to walking into a pet supply store. So I take them to PetSmart® to start getting them used to everyday life, the feeling of the floor on their paws, and how to socialize with people in the general public.”

Those are the words of an acclaimed nationally known dog trainer, who a few years ago, shared those words with me during an interview on how to properly socialize a dog. There are at least 10 reasons that all dogs need to go to stores like PetSmart, and the aforementioned is but one of them.

The folks at PetSmart are celebrating the arrival of the complete line of Natural Balance® products in their stores. My dog shops at PetSmart at least weekly (and takes me along to pay the bill), so we headed to our local store for some treat scouting, socializing, and fun with a Mommy and Me day. It is a fun way to bond with your dog, but there are some serious reasons, too, that going to stores like PetSmart is good for your dog in general. How many of these can you relate to?

(1) Getting Acclimated to Car Rides: Few things are more disheartening on a dog-friendly vacation or road trip as when a dog is fearful, has gastric upset, or becomes nervous far from home. Slowly adjusting your dog to how fantastic a car ride can be is the key to success. Never force or make a travel fearful dog to “face their fears.” This will only reinforce fears, can lead to extreme anxiety, panic, and cause an accident. Using Pavlov’s principle, if the only time a dog experiences the car is to see the vet, both vet and ride can become unpleasant experiences.  Slowly increase the amount of time a dog spends in the car. I started with Dexter many years ago by riding to the end of the street and back and then celebrating with treats and play time when he did it. Do the same thing at PetSmart: Upon arrival and once in the store, be happy and make it a positive experience. Take treats with you.

(2) Potty Training on Various Surfaces: Prior to entering any establishment, I make sure my dog does his potty routine and at least does a pee break. By training your dog to urinate on a variety of surfaces, including grass, gravel, rocks, wood chips, and even cement, it really will benefit you and the dog in the long run. Take it from a page in this dog journeywoman’s diary: There is no greater joy than pouring rain, no rest stop in sight, and a slab of concrete readily available ala roadside. My fur-boy and I even have a code word to initiate: go-go-go. When he hears those three magic words, I know the process shall begin and both mama and son can take shelter from the storm or snow.

(3) Learn About Treats and Food: By visiting PetSmart, you can ask associates about the various treats and dog foods available to ensure the formulas and ingredients are right for your dog and his or her needs. Case in point: My dog has some food sensitivities, so I appreciate having someone on hand to answer any questions I might have. Dexter tends to pick his own treats out, as you can see below, but he may not always know what he can and can’t eat. In fact, he would sometimes love to just rip into a treat bag right in the store. Uh, clean up: Aisle two?!

(4) Socialize with Other Dogs: The more community and socializing you can do with your dog, the better. Dogs who see other dogs, in a controlled environment, can sniff each other and say hello are more inclined to accept those dogs, not bark at them, not be fearful, and learn to be kind to fellow canines. PetSmart is usually a hub of activity on weekends, so while you stop by for treats and food, walk the aisles and say hello to fellow dog moms and dads.

(5) Try Before You Buy: How many toys have you purchased for your dog that end up in the “I no longer play with it pile?!” By taking your dog with you to the store, your dog can give a toy a trial run, so to speak. I squeak toys, rattle them towards my dog, and see if he has a genuine interest in them.

(6) Interact With Strangers: Do you want your dog to be wary of people or social and unafraid of new people? Being immersed in the sights, sounds, and hubbub of a retail experience are great ways to get a dog used to strangers.

(7) Train for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC): My dog was awarded Canine Good Citizen status by the AKC  and it happened purely on a whim. He never took a class to train for it, we didn’t practice the specific elements of the test previously, and only on prompting of family and friends did we decide to try it. The fee is $10 to test. Normally there are no distractions in the vicinity when the dog is being tested. However, since the testing occurred at a very busy pet expo, there were a lot of distractions. What better way to get a dog used to passersby, other pets, and noise than at a store like PetSmart?

(8) Bonding Time: I am a dog mom. I like love it when folks call me a dog mom and I never grimace, furrow a brow, or correct them. In fact, a sense of pride swells over me. I am not alone.  Dog moms should celebrate and dog dads, too. Want to bond with your dog? Have a mommy/daddy and me day: Do all the things that make your dog happy. On our recent visit, we picked up a bag of Natural Balance Duck and Potato Limited Ingredient Treats and Dex loved having the goodies! The Wall Street Journaleven revealed “PetSmart Thrives Treating Owners Like Pet Parents.” We’re not losing our marbles, we’re being embraced and converted to dollar signs, for wag’s sake! Continue your dog with a romp in the park, a drive-through for a quick burger, a ride around the area, and maybe even a picnic for your dog and his friends.

(9)Photo Ops: Purely fun, but I admittedly get some of my favorite photos while having a retail therapy time with my dog.  Yes, I take photos with toys and fellow dogs, and when the holidays roll around, I love interacting with the other pet parents. Santa photos last year took a twist and we even got photos in store with a Frozen theme.

(10) Give Back: The fundraising arm of this blog is Wigglebutt Warriors®, and year round we encourage dog lovers to give back. PetSmart registers are equipped with a feature to give back to pets in need. We generally pay for our purchases and then when prompted, give a few extra dollars to pets who are not as fortunate. While in store, there are always folks gathered around the cat adoption area, and friends of ours even adopted a cat from PetSmart. There are some things that money cannot buy, but giving to a pet in need is one of the most feel-good things you can do.

 

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ComfortGroom

Professional “PhoDOGraphy” Tips

By: Jaime Hall

Getting a portrait of your dog
Anyone who owns or works with dogs knows the struggle of trying to get them to sit still for a photo, a near-impossible feat. Many might agree with us that dogs just seem to know when there’s a camera present, and often begin to misbehave accordingly. Well, that struggle is now over with thanks to Elias Weiss Friedman’s new book, “The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs” in which Friedman portrays some of the most alluring “phodography” to date and also outlines professional tips for taking the perfect shot. Below, we have excerpted these tips from The Dogist so that you, too, can get the perfect shot.

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10 TIPS FOR TAKING PERFECT PHOTOS OF YOUR DOG

1. “Establish basic trust between yourself and the dog. Let the dog smell you.”

Approach all dogs with an open-palm stance and underhand gestures to let them know you have friendly intentions.

2. “Get down to the dog’s level.”

Going along with the tip #1, approaching dogs from a level closer to their own will also help them identify friendly intentions.

3. “Have something the dog wants, like a treat or toy.”

We’re pretty sure last night’s leftover steak will do the trick.

4. “Move that thing around the lense.”

Creating an association between the treat/toy and the camera lense will get them looking in the right direction.

5. “Learn to bark and make strange noises to get different facial expressions.”

We promise that perfect shot will be worth all of the odd looks you will receive.

6. “Underexpose for black dogs.”

Our darker furry friends often get hidden in a photograph because they blend in with the darker background. Solve this by simply underexposing for these pups!

7. “Have patience. Every dog is different and some may require more time.”

Just like us!

8. “Practice, practice, practice. I still learn something new everyday.”

Over time, these tips will become habitual.

9. “Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want a dog toenail to go through.”

This one’s a given.

10. “Reward a dog’s efforts with a pet or a treat.”

Don’t forget to reward yourself too!

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ComfortGroom

Grooming For Cats: Do cats really need to be groomed?

By Green Acres Kennel Shop

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Many cats do keep themselves quite clean, the exception often being obese or geriatric cats, however all cats, even short-haired ones, can benefit from some grooming assistance. Long-haired cats, which are designed by humans, not nature, must be combed regularly to prevent matting, particularly on their backsides and undersides.

If you have a kitten, getting them accustomed to being brushed will most certainly payoff in the long run. You should start right off by introducing them to brushing for very brief periods of time, interspersed with play and treats. This will help them to adjust to and tolerate being combed and handled. Remember, it is always important to end each session on a positive note!

How do I comb my cat?

There is no question that combing a cat can be a challenge, particularly if they were never habituated to it as kittens. What is important to remember is that you do not have to comb your entire cat in one sitting. Just do a section a day until your cat becomes comfortable with grooming. You must vary the sections however as the whole cat does need to be groomed.

The type of tool that you will need to brush your cat will depend on your cat’s coat length. Typically we recommend a comb for short-haired cats and a comb and slicker for long-haired cats. It is important to speak with your groomer or pet care professional to determine which tools are necessary for your particular pet and to learn how to use them properly. Cats have very delicate skin and may be easily scratched if grooming equipment is used improperly.

What about bathing cats?

While it is typically not necessary to bathe a cat, occasions do arise such as illness or fleas that make bathing essential. With the exception of the Turkish Van, most cats do not enjoy the water, which can certainly make it more difficult to bathe a cat as compared to a dog. That having been said, many cats do learn to tolerate it. There are a couple of tricks to the trade. First, know your cat. It is important for you to be aware of how your cat is likely to react. Also, always trim the cat’s nails prior to putting water on them and be able to bathe quickly; a cat will not tolerate you taking your time. And be very careful not to get water in the cat’s face, as this will surely create a negative experience for both you and your cat.

Do cats get cold more quickly after being bathed?

It does seem that cats get cold easily after a bath, possibly because of their lower body mass. For this reason, you should always have a towel handy to immediately wrap the cat in. Also, this towel can help to prevent your cat from leaping out of your arms and hiding somewhere. We do not recommend trying to dry the cat with a dryer, rather be sure to have the house or a room very warm and use the towel to absorb as much water as possible. A nice sunny spot in a warm room is ideal. Be sure that your cat remains in a warm place until it is completely dry.

Does my cat need its nails trimmed?

Nail cutting is a personal preference. We typically do not recommend clipping the nails of an outdoor cat, as they require their nails for protection and to aid in climbing. If your cat has adequate places to scratch, they will often naturally shed their nails, however this is not true for all cats and if you have one that has a tendency to catch their nails in the rug as they are walking along you may need to cut their nails periodically.

Cutting a cat’s nails is not as difficult as it sounds. Typically they have clear nails with a very distinct hook so it is easy to see the location of the vein thus making it avoidable. Gently squeeze your cat’s foot to expose the nails and, using cat nail clippers, simply clip off the tip of the nail.

If you are considering declawing please visit our website on Inappropriate Scratching.

When I tried to cut my cat’s nails I made her bleed, what happened?

If you cut too deep into your cat’s nail you will hit a vein, more commonly known as the quick. If you hit the quick you can use styptic powder or cornstarch to aid in clotting. Quicks can bleed excessively at times but it is rarely a serious matter. If you are concerned that you cannot stop the bleeding or about infection you may wish to contact your veterinarian.

As animals age, do they need more frequent grooming?

We do find that as our pets age they no longer shed as efficiently and do need to be brushed more often. This is true for short-haired cats as well as long-haired ones. Another thing that we observe is that animals that are overweight also do not seem to shed properly.

How often should my cat be professionally groomed?

The frequency of grooming varies depending upon the breed of the cat and the amount of time spent at home in grooming activities. Some cats never need to see a professional groomer in their entire lives. Others need grooming every four to eight weeks. What is really key here is how much you are willing and able to brush your cat at home. You should discuss this with your groomer or breeder when you obtain your cat and make a decision as to how you wish to proceed. If you do not want to maintain your cat’s grooming needs at home you can schedule regular visits to the salon.

What do I do if my cat is matted?

The first thing that you should not do if your cat is matted is attempt to cut the mats out with scissors. Frequently the mats rest on the skin and cats’ skin is very thin, thus easy to wound. Often cats are left with gaping holes where people attempted to cut out mats. If however you have determined that there is space between your cat’s skin and the mat, you can try to gently work the matt out using a comb. A severely matted cat will most likely have to be shaved. This can be done by a professional groomer. The goal however is to get your cat in before things get to this point.

Do cats ever need to be sedated for grooming?

Unfortunately some cats do require sedation for grooming and if this is the case, your cat should be groomed at your veterinarian’s office. Any time an animal is sedated, there are other risks involved and should they have an adverse reaction to the anesthesia your veterinarian will be equipped to handle the situation.

If you have already taken your cat to a groomer and sedation has been recommended, it may be worth scheduling some time to talk to a different grooming facility to get another opinion. Anytime that sedation can be avoided it should be.

When a cat is extremely matted and is very difficult to handle sedation may be the only course of action. Behavior is a huge reason for a cat needing sedation for grooming. Unlike most dogs, it is very difficult to “work” a cat through a grooming. Once they have had enough, they are done. For this reason, it is even more imperative that these cats are not allowed to get into this condition in the first place.

How long will it take to groom my cat?

The length of time that it takes to groom a cat varies on an individual basis. It really depends upon the breed of cat, the condition of the cat, the behavior of the cat and what the grooming is to entail. We typically have people drop their cat off in the early morning and they are usually ready to go home in the early afternoon.

What if my cat has fleas?

If while being groomed we determine that your pet has fleas we will give them a flea bath. It is very important that a shampoo specific only for cats is used and under no circumstances should a flea shampoo for dogs be used on cats because they are much more sensitive to the toxins in flea products than dogs. For more information on fleas, please refer to our website on this topic.

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ComfortGroom