Where Animal Lovers Pursue Animal Careers

Dog Training

Cold-Weather Safety for Pets

Cold-Weather Safety

Keep your pets warm, dry and healthy.

By Lisa King

Right now much of the East Coast and Midwest is suffering record cold. We’re all familiar with the dangers this kind of weather poses for people, but pets are even more vulnerable. A simple rule to follow in extreme cold is to keep your pets inside with you as much as possible. Here are some tips to keep dogs and cats safe.

  • Cats should be kept inside all the time, but especially in very cold weather. They tend to seek shelter when it’s cold, and can crawl into dumpsters or other spaces and become trapped. They can also suffer frostbite or hypothermia, become lost or freeze to death.
  • Your dog’s susceptibility to the cold depends on many factors, including age, health, length of coat, breed and weight. If you have a healthy Alaskan Malamute or Siberian Husky, he will love an occasional frolic in the snow. Small, thin or shorthaired dogs feel the cold much more acutely and should wear dry doggie coats or sweaters and possibly booties when venturing outside. These sorts of dogs should go out only to relieve themselves when temperatures fall below zero. Very young or very old pets and pets with chronic illnesses cannot regulate their body temperatures as well as healthy adult dogs. Hypothermia and frostbite on feet, ears or tailcan affect any pet.
  • When you do take your dog outside in the cold, stay with him. On walks, keep him on leash at all times. Dogs can lose their way in the snow because scents they depend on to find their way home are muffled. Make sure your dog has a current ID tag on his collar and has been microchipped. Don’t let your dog walk on frozen water, such as a pond or lake. If he falls through the ice he might die of hypothermia.If he gets wet, use a blow dryer or towel to dry him.
  • If your dog must stay outside for any length of time, provide plenty of unfrozen fresh water. A heated water dish comes in handy. Also provide a sturdy shelter with soft bedding, such as straw. Make sure the floor is raised off the ground and that the door faces away from the wind. A door flap will help him retain heat.
  • If your dog begins shivering or whining, or otherwise appears to be in distress, get him inside immediately and warm him up.If symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian.
  • If you plug in a space heater or light a fire, don’t leave pets near them unattended. Use screens in front of all fireplaces.
  • Antifreeze is very toxic to pets and de-icing salts and other chemicals can get on your dog’s feet and cause irritation. Clean his feet after he comes in from a walk.
  • Cold weather is just as dangerous as hot weather to a dog left in a car. A parked car can turn into an icebox after too long in freezing temperatures.
  • If you park your car outside, check under the hood and make plenty of noise before starting it to make sure no feral or other outdoor cats have sought out the warmth of the engine.
  • Never shave a long-haired dog or cat in cold weather. It may be easier to groom a shaved Persian cat, but she needs her fur to keep warm. Brush your long-haired pet’s coat regularly to prevent mats. If your dog has longish hair between his paw pads, trim it to reduce snow and ice buildup.
  • Make sure all your pets have warm, draft-free places to sleep. Pet supply stores carry heated mats and beds that your dog or cat will appreciate when temperatures are low. Arthritis is aggravated by the cold, so a warm, soft bed can help an arthritic pet stay comfortable.

As the arctic blast that is slamming most of the U.S. recedes and temperatures rise to a more typical winter range, you and your dog can spend more time outside enjoying the snowy landscape. But please leave Kitty indoors.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea.”

Is Your Dog A Snow Dog?

Snow Dogs

How to keep your canines happy during wintertime romps.

By Audrey Pavia

 

Snow has been plentiful so far this winter, which is good news for dogs who romp in the white stuff. Not only is playing in the snow fun for dogs, but it also helps get rid of excess energy.

Before you bring your dog outside to run in the snow, take some precautions. Snow and cold weather can be hazardous to your dog’s health if you’re not careful.Frostbite is a distinct danger for most dogs’ ears, and snow and ice can cause plenty of discomfort on bare paws. It can also reduce traction, causing your dog to slip and fall.

The best ways to protect your dog during snowy weather include the following:

• Keep nails clipped. The shorter your dog’s nails, the less likely he’ll be to slip on the snow and have ice buildup in his paws. You should have your dog’s nails clipped regularly anyway to help him maintain healthy paws. If his nails are overgrown, cut or grind them yourself, or have it done by your groomer or veterinarian.

• Trim paw hair. If your dog grows a lot of hair between the pads of his paws, take a pair of scissors and cut the hair so it’s even with his pads. This will help attract less snow and ice to his foot. Be careful not to cut your dog’s pads as you are trimming. Make sure your dog is comfortable having his feet handled before you attempt this. If your dog struggles, ask your groomer or veterinarian for assistance.

• Try dog boots. If your dog still has trouble with ice and snow building up in his paw pads, consider rubber or nylon dog boots. These will protect his feet while he walks through snow. If possible, take your dog with you to the pet store when you buy the boots so you can try them on to make sure they fit. It will also give you a chance to see if your dog will actually wear them. Some dogs won’t tolerate boots and will pull them off. Expect your dog to walk funny the first time he wears them. In time, he should get used to the feeling of having something on his feet.

•Dress him warmly. If you have a shorthaired dog, a toy breed with not much hair, an older dog, a young puppy or a dog with health issues, consider dressing him in a sweater or coat before you take him out to play in the snow. If your dog plays rough-and-tumble in the white stuff, check the garment periodically to make sure it’s not soaking wet.

• Give breaks.To avoid frostbite, give your dog plenty of breaks when he’s out in the snow. Have him come inside to warm up for a bit before you let him go back out to play. Keep an eye on the tips of his ears, since these are most sensitive to developing a problem. If your dog’s skin begins to turn pale and feel cold to the touch, get him indoors right away. If the skin becomes red and swollen after it warms up, take your dog to a veterinarian right away for treatment of frostbite.

 


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visitwww.audreypavia.com

Dog Obedience Training Program Graduates 2013

Animal Behavior College
Dog Obedience Training Program
On-Site Dog Obedience Training Program
Graduates 2013

This is the second on-site classroom of dog obedience trainers who graduated from Animal Behavior College. Every one of the 10 graduate dog trainers is a U.S. veteran who fought for and served our country overseas. Many of the students have given up time away from their families to complete the on-site classroom Dog Training Certification during the last 6 months.

Each and every student, along with their instructor Beth Harrison (A Paw Above Dog Training), participated in the Best Friends Animal Society “Strut Your Mutt” event. Together, spearheaded by Jackie and her classmate Hailey Ulrich, the students were able to raise over $1,200 to donate to BestFriends.org. The entire class spent a minimum of one day per week for the last 6 months volunteering at Best Friends A.S. in Mission Hills, Calif. The students held numerous play groups with the shelter dogs. They also worked with the dogs in terms of training, socialization and behavior. Many of the students went above and beyond their duties, assisting Mike Harmon and the staff at Best Friends in cleaning the kennels.

Jackie had read a poem that Animal Behavior College shared on Facebook a few weeks ago, and she decided she was going to write her own poem to share at graduation.

The Untrained Human
Poem by Jackie McKenzie

We saw the puppy in a happy pet store.
I said I’d have to have it, and I wanted nothing more.
The first day home we played and played.
And, I laughed at the little poo-pooh the puppy made.

We allowed the pup a care-free life to run the house and chew everything in sight.
It’s so cute to see my old sheets in shreds, the puppy is even allowed in my bed.

But then something happened, it grew so big; and now it’s poops are larger than a pig.

My couch is now gone, along with the rug.

What happened to that cute little game we called tug?

I got this number from a friend at the store, she said call this trainer, they’re a dog trainer galore. They went to a school that can train any fool.

That’s right, we went to ABC (Animal Behavior College), a place that loves dogs, and had the education to fix any wrongs.

Now let’s go handle the untrained human one dog at a time.

Jackie also left the fellow graduates with some words of encouragement.

“Go forth and save dogs, my fellow classmates. Let your training never fail you. Dog Trainers always remember, Why, How, Show, Try…l’chaim.”

We wish all the graduates of the On-site Dog Obedience Training program a wonderful, happy and successful career as Dog Trainers.

Find out more about Jackie and the work she and fellow students did helping shelter dogs at Best Friends Animal Society: http://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/blog/animal-behavior-college-student-loves-animals-best-friends-animal-society-volunteer/

Watch the entire ceremony: School for Dog Trainers

Animal Behavior College – Student Loves Animals – Best Friends Animal Society Volunteer

One Volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society forms a bond with Pit Bull named Chad

Training Shelter Dogs

Jackie McKenzie is one of the 14 Animal Behavior College students in the On-site classroom program for Dog Training this semester. This specific On-site Dog Training class is held at the Animal Behavior College Valencia, Calif. campus. Every week Jackie and her classmates volunteer at Best Friends Animal Shelter in Mission Hills, CA. Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity for the student dog trainers to receive real-life training experience. Each student works with different shelter dogs that need to improve socialization skills, house training, and better manners. During Jackie’s time at Best Friends she has built a strong connection with Chad.

Chad is an America Pit Bull that Jackie describes as really awesome and sweet. In the past few months Jackie has trained Chadwig (her nickname for the dog) to heel, lay-down, sit, stay, and circle. “He is very easy to work with and he learns fast.” Her first impression of Chad was that he is a bit intimidating. But, Jackie says “once you get to know him he is a lovely dog.” She would love to see Chad get adopted and find his forever home. Jackie admits that working with Chad has opened up her mind to American Bully breeds. Before the experience at Best Friends she did not know how kind and loving the breed can be.

Back in September Best Friends held a fundraiser in Los Angeles called Strut Your Mutt. Jackie and several other students including Hailey Ulrich all participated in the event representing SGT. Mack’s Bully Pack. Together they were able to raise over $1,200 as a team, to donate to Best Friends Animal Society. All the students love Best Friends and really enjoy the opportunity to help train shelter dogs. It is an awesome way for them to gain experience, and it increases the chance that someone will adopt one of these wonderful pets.

Jackie has been a member of the Army National Guard for over 8 years. Her job title has been Military Police since her enlistment. Jackie has done three deployments and visited many countries around the world. During her service Jackie was stationed in Iraq twice and Afghanistan once.  She said that deployments were always something that she looked forward to.  She enjoys the service so much that she recently enlisted for another 6 years. Jackie has always been an animal lover, ever since she was a child. She grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan. She has a knack for working with dogs. Shortly after she returned from her last deployment her wife suggested that she pursue a career in dog training.

Jackie decided to Google “how to become a dog trainer?” That is how she found Animal Behavior College. Jackie knew that she had the talent be a dog trainer, but wanted the education as a way to add credibility to her future career outside of the National Guard. Her next goal is to develop the hours, time, and case studies needed to become Canine Good Citizen certified. Jackie McKenzie says the skills she has learned in school like: back chaining, patience, and motivation, makes dog training a breeze.

After graduation at Animal Behavior College Jackie plans on moving back to Salem, Oregon. She would like to begin training service dogs for Veterans. Maybelline will be her first service dog. Jackie said that she loves her so much, she couldn’t see not having her forever. Back at home she has 2 other dogs (SGT and Ralphie), 3 cats (Layla, SMAC, and Zumiez), and a snake named Cocooi.  She loves to do anything outdoors like fishing, shooting, and camping. Jackie also spends some of her free time playing PlayStation 3 games like Grand Theft Auto or Assassins Creed; and she loves watching Law and Order SVU.

Jackie plans on going back to visit her parents farm for the holiday season. When asked what was it like growing up on a farm? Jackie said “It was one of the best experiences anyone could have.” She has truly done some amazing things in the short time that we got to know her here at Animal Behavior College. We salute you for all your hard word, service, and sacrifices. Great work Jackie. Keep it up.

Visit our website to find out more about becoming a dog trainer.
Help train shelter dogs by volunteering at BestFriends.org

 

Agility Dog Team – Richard Frejomil II & Rocky Roosta

Agility Dog Team – Richard Frejomil II &
Rocky Roosta Win Grand Championship Dog Agility Team of the Year in Long Island, N.Y.

Richard Frejomil II began training dogs as a hobby in 2008. With practice and basic experience, he developed a knack for training dogs. When the economic downturn hit, Richard decided to use his new found skills in dog training as a means to supplemental his income.

“I was able to get some work but not as much as I wanted,” he said. “People like to see some form of degree or certification before investing their hard-earned money.”

That is what led Richard to Animal Behavior College (ABC), which he began attending in January 2010. Richard really enjoyed going through the whole experience of the dog training curriculum.

“The best part of it was the externship,” he said. “I had to bring my pit bull Rocky to Mike Rueb at the Bideawee Pet Welfare Organization in Westhampton, N.Y., to demonstrate that I could train a dog. In Mike’s own words, ‘everything you have done with him is nothing short of amazing.’”

To this day, Mike continues to refer clients to Richard. By 2011, Richard’s reputation as dog trainer in the local area was growing. Port Jefferson’s mayor put Rocky in some of the town’s advertisements. Rocky was even featured in Newsday for his exceptional behavior in public.

In July 2011 Richard applied for a dog trainer position at the Rocky Point Petco, which had just opened up. During the interview, the regional dog training manager said to him, “Wait, I know you. You’re richedisdaman (Richard’s YouTube name). I saw your dog get a beer from the fridge. He then told the store manager about all the shows Richard and Rocky had done at local stores. Needless to say, Richard was hired on the spot.

 

Richard and Rocky Start an Agility Dog Team

After becoming an established dog trainer, Richard became interested in agility dog training. One day at a park, he had Rocky jump over parking rails, run along benches and weave between his legs. Not only did Rocky do it well but, he did it fast and enjoyed every minute of it.

“I always thought it would be cool to do; I just never thought my dog would have the drive for it,” he said.

After that, Richard purchased a beginner dog agility set. In one week, Rocky was performing the obstacles independently without any luring. Seeing the great promise and enjoyment agility training offered, Richard bought books on building agility equipment and beginner agility handling. Clearly, he was bitten by the agility bug.

In a month’s time, Richard decided to seek training from a seasoned agility handler. He went from knowing very little in the beginning to entering in an intermediate off-leash dog agility class at Canine Form and Function.

Richard and Rocky entered their first dog agility competition with Canine Performance Events (CPE) in June 2012. Rocky was, and still is, Long Island’s only pit bull agility dog—he was a big hit. The pair continued to compete on a monthly basis with CPE.

In May 2013, they went to Jean Jacobsen, the trainer at All Fur Fun Agility, to further increase their skill level. Jean specializes in distance training. Everything was going great until late June 2013. Rocky became ill; he kept falling over and began to develop facial paralysis. Richard pulled Rocky from training and competing. After seeing an holistic veterinarian, Rocky showed signs of improvement, and by September, Rocky was ready return to the agility ring.

Rocky returned to the agility ring even better than before. He scored a near perfect weekend score, which put the pair in the top eight for agility team of the year. The next level of competition was the October trial. In the last run it came down to two teams.. When it was all said and done, they won grand champion team of the year. Rocky is now in line to earn his first Canine Performance Events championship next summer. One more win for the pit bulls.

To view some of Richard and Rocky’s YouTube videos, go to richedisdaman. To see picutres of their agility trials, team achievements, titles and videos, visit them on Instagram.

Karen Kennedy – ABC Graduate Passes CPDT-KA Dog Training Cert.

Karen Kennedy, Animal Behavior College Graduate Dog Trainer, CPDT-KA Certified

Become a Dog Trainer

Karen Kennedy graduated from the Animal Behavior College Dog Training program in April of 2012. After 300 hours of dog training under her belt, Karen decided to become CPDT-KA certified. The CPDT-KA is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessment exam offered by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).

Karen sent us an email letting us know that she just received information that she has passed the CPDT-KA exam. Karen boasted that all she needed to do to prepare for the exam was review the Animal Behavior College Dog Training course materials. She is confident that her 300+ hours of training and the ABC Dog Training text books were the right source for her success in this achievement. Becoming a Dog Trainer is something Karen was very passionate about. She tells us “I read it cover to cover… it is a really good manual!!! What a treasure.” Karen has 6 five-star reviews on Yelp for her Dog training business KK Good Dog Training. http://www.yelp.com/biz/kk-good-dog-training-dallas

We look forward to seeing Karen at the ABC Dinner being held during the APDT conference on Saturday October 26, 2013 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Spokane, WA. See you at the show!

Forever Warriors Founder – Training Service Dogs While Changing the World for Vets

Jason Young puts Animals & Soldiers First in His Quest to Change the World for Veterans.

Training Service Dogs in Los Angeles

Jason Young Founder of Forever Warriors. Now training service dogs with Big Paws Canine in Los Angeles, CA.

Young, a graduate of Animal Behavior College’s Dog Obedience Program is now Training Service Dogs While Changing Veteran Lives.

ABC Graduate Dog Trainer Jason Young

Jason Young served in the Navy Seabees Construction Battalion.  After coming home from his tour, Jason Young was in school to complete his education in Computer Networking. During his program training he was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  His doctor recommended that he consider a new career while going through the rehabilitation recommended to heal his TBI.

“Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities,” according to http://www.traumaticbraininjury.com.

“One moment the person diagnosed can be seen as normal and the next moment life has abruptly changed. Brain injuries do not heal like other injuries. Recovery is a functional recovery, based on mechanisms that remain uncertain. No two brain injuries are a like and the consequence of two similar injuries may be very different. Symptoms may appear right away or may not be present for days or weeks after the injury.  Most often, these body structures heal and regain their previous function.” says  traumaticbraininjury.com.

After considering his options Jason again consulted with his doctor. He mentioned that he may want to pursue a vocational career that involved peer counseling. Young’s doctor recommended considering a career in training service dogs. Jason liked the idea of rehabilitation training that could benefit the lives of soldiers and veterans using Dog Training as the tool to heal himself and others.  He loves working with service dogs and highly recommends Animal Behavior College to other veterans as a great place to learn Dog Obedience Training.

Jason graduated from Animal Behavior College in September 2013. Before completing his final exam and externship he was offered a position as a Dog Trainer at Big Paws Canine Academy and Foundation, Inc.

We had the chance to ask Jason Young why he chose Animal Behavior College and specifically the dog training program? Here is what he had to say:

“The course was great! I loved the externship and working at the shelter. My main goal before I started the course was to learn to train Service Dogs for Veterans. Myself being a veteran wanting to help other vets I had thought about becoming a peer counselor, but I didn’t want to bring that home with me every day. After one of the VA doctors asked me if I had ever thought about training service animals. It was the perfect idea, considering all the service dog providers there are popping up all over the country very few people are looking at becoming a dog trainer. I have been communicating with numerous providers in the last year like: Pets for Vets, TADSAW, Battle Buddy and many others. I would refer veterans to whichever one that was closest or fit the Veterans needs best. About a week before I received my certificate in September, Big Paws Canine Academy offered me a training job training Veterans and their dogs at the VA hospitals. It is the perfect fit for me. I can help other veterans alleviate anxieties caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) naturally and possibly lower the doses of mood altering medications that some veterans are becoming dependent upon for every day life. It’s a win, win{situation}, for me. I get to work with animals and help heroes.”

Jason’s passion truly shows that it is not about the money. He actually turned down a paid position at Big Paws Canine Academy and opted for working as an intern so that Big Paws CA could afford to hire more trainers. Together Jason and Big Paws CA are on a mission to make rehabilitation available to more vets returning from war.  They are not the only ones. Jason is also participating in the Battle Buddy Run, a 5K fundraiser to assist the placement of service dogs with soldiers who have PTSD. This event is taking place in Fresno Calif. on October 26th.  https://www.facebook.com/battlebuddyrun

Service Dog Obedience Training by Jason at Big Paws Academy

Jason teaching Service Dog Obedience class at local Lowe’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his spare time Jason enjoys speaking with other soldiers and vets.  He assists injured soldiers and vets by pairing them with an organization that would best suit their needs. He also posts content about service dogs, service dog news, and information needed on his Forever Warriors page. https://www.facebook.com/WeAreForeverWarriors?ref=stream

 

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

October is
National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
Adopt A Shelter Dog Month

Shelter dogs and cats deserve a forever home. By adopting or fostering a shelter pet, you are saving an animal’s life. Even if you can’t adopt a new pet, there are several great ways you can help save a dog or cat who is currently living in a shelter.

Use Social Media to Raise Awareness
Share with your friends and followers that October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. By doing so you become a part of the saving lives formula. Help raise awareness by using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, 4square, Tumblr, and Instagram. Consider using #hastags such as #welovedogs, #savedogs, #fosterdogs, #traindogs, and #dogs in your posts. This helps them be found by people searching for industry-related articles on social networking trend walls and blogs, as well as RSS feeds.

Volunteer to Train Shelter Dogs

At Animal Behavior College (ABC), our students and employees have been training shelter dogs since 1998.  It is a fact that a trained dog in a shelter is far more likely to be adopted then one who has not had behavioral training. Since 2004, ABC’s dog training students have collectively donated more than 93,000 hours to animal shelters. This program is called Students Saving Lives. The success has been revolutionary in the fight to save animal lives.
Read more about Students Saving Lives.

Animal Behavior College also offers a Continuing Education Program called Training Shelter Dogs. This program is a great way to help certified dog trainers establish themselves in the dog training industry while doing their part in assisting shelter dogs by providing the behavioral training they need.

Foster Pets from Shelters like, Best Friends or Unwanted NYC Pets

If you love pets but aren’t ready to adopt, opening your home as a foster parent is a great way to help out. Many foster programs make it as easy as possible, giving you the support you need. Here’s how it works:

You provide a temporary place to crash, water, exercise and love.
You receive food and supplies, veterinary care, any support and guidance you need, endless love from your foster pet, and the satisfaction of helping an animal in need.

Best Friends will work with you to find the best match possible for your home and lifestyle. If at any point the foster situation is not working out, Best Friends will take the animal back into its care and find another that will work for you.

Take the Pledge
Join the more than 100,000 people who have already taken the “No Pet Store Puppies” pledge to help fight puppy mill cruelty by refusing to buy anything—including food, supplies or toys—at pet stores and from websites that sell puppies.

Animal Shelters & Rescues in the U.S.

Best FriendsBestFriends.org

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national nonprofit animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. An authority and leader in the no-kill movement for more than 30 years, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals (at its headquarters), regional centers in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and New York, as well as life-saving programs in partnership with rescue groups and shelters across the country.

Did you know that more than 9,000 dogs and cats are killed each day in America’s shelters? More than 4 million lives are lost each year simply because they don’t have a safe place to call home. These pets deserve to be saved. At Best Friends Animal Society, they believe no animals should have to die in shelters when solutions exist to save them—solutions like adopting, fostering, spaying/neutering and Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR).

Unwanted NYC Pets - UnwantedNYCpets.org
Unwanted New York City Pets or Unwanted NYC Pets is spearheaded by Betina Wasserman and her team of close knit animal confidants. Together they rescue pets from the kill list and save dogs and cats from all across New York City’s Tri-borough area. Betina is also the founder of Unwanted NYC Pets, a 501-C3 non-profit organization. The Unwanted NYC Pets team is determined to help make the world a better place by saving the lives of dogs, who would otherwise be put down if not rescued. Betina’s message: Don’t buy dogs, please adopt them! Read More

Animal Shelters & Rescues in Canada

Animal Rescue and Outreach Society (AROS) is a charitable, non-profit organization serving the Alberta Capital Region. Their mission is to rescue and rehabilitate displaced pets, and to provide education and support to pet owners.
Learn more about Animal Rescue and Outreach Society

Keeping Indoors Cats Properly Exercised

Keeping Indoors Cats

Properly Exercised

By Sandy Robins

Indoor Cat Exercises

Enthusiastic playing does more than stave off boredom, it also provides exercise and helps hone a cat’s natural behaviors.

Indoor Cats Need to Play, Too

There’s no question that cats who have an indoors-only lifestyle are much safer and better protected from environmental dangers, such as flea and tick infestations and predators. But at the same time, they miss out on exercise opportunities the great outdoors has to offer. Therefore, it’s important to compensate by instituting play times that offer both exercise and a chance to hone their natural instincts to hunt, pounce and play.

Cats are not supposed to be decorative couch potatoes. Those who spend a lot of time curled up sleeping do so because they are bored and lonely. In fact, felines enjoy short bursts of playtime throughout the day. If you are working, consider splitting your mini-feline workouts to before work and again in the evening.

For interactive play sessions, laser toys are great. They also allow you to multitask by enjoying a cup of coffee and possibly even reading a book while manipulating a laser dot to fly around the room and shimmy across the floor. Lasers rev up a cat’s prey drive. You need to let the beam rest in a spot long enough for your feline to pounce and try to capture her prey. Never get the beam in her eyes. Also, because laser play isn’t really a fair game—after all, your cat will never catch anything—give her a treat at the end of each session. And make sure the next toy you bring out is one she can actually capture and kick around with her paws.

Wand toys are also great fun and really allow cats to pounce and hone their natural hunting skills, too.

Cats are really smart and many enjoy playing games of fetch. They can be trained to bring toys to you to engage in more play. Small material mice are great for such interactive play, as are feline stationary items—the latest post-it notes and other paper products infused with catnip and make wonderful crinkly noises when batted about. Some cats will even bring you their favorite wand toy to encourage you to play more.

To help stave off boredom while you are out working, a “treasure hunt” comprising of her favorite toys and treats will keep her actively engaged during your absence.

The idea is to hide her favorite toys in different places around the home. Focus on places you know she is likely to seek out,such as her favorite scratchers and snooze zones. Hide treats, too. If you are worried about putting out too many treats, you can take a portion of her kibble allowance and put it out instead. Apart from simply placing the treats next to catnip toys, consider placing small amounts inside special feline treat balls and puzzle toys. These will help keep her both mentally and physically stimulated.

If your feline is one of those cats with a reputation for the nighttime crazies—rushing around the house at 2.00 a.m. when you are trying to sleep—consider scheduling your last play session together just before you go to bed. It should tire her out and induce her to come and cuddle in and sleep, too.

By getting involved in feline fun and games, you are also spending real quality time together. It’s a great way to strengthen that wonderful emotional bond you share with your cat(s).


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Award

AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Award

By Audrey Pavia

Sit and Stay, German Shepherd Dog, AKC Good Canine Citizen Award

A Good Canine Citizen is capable of maintaining a Sit-Stay until called by his owner.

If you’ve got a purebred or mixed breed dog who listens when you tell him what to do, is good with other dogs, and is just a joy to be around, he’s a perfect candidate for the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) award. And if your dog’s behavior leaves something to be desired, start working on fixing it, with the CGC as your goal.

In order to earn a CGC award, your dog has to pass a 10-step test that consists of the following:

  • Accepting a friendly stranger. While you have your dog on a leash, a person will approach you, say “Hello” and shake your hand. Your dog is expected to stay calm and ignore the person. Your dog is not to jump on the person or show any aggression.
  • Sitting politely for petting. The stranger who approached you will bend down to pet your dog. Your dog is expected to stand calmly while being petted. He’s not supposed to jump on the person or shy away.
  • Appearance and grooming. Your dog will allow someone to groom him and examine him (touch his ears and lift his front feet) while you are holding his leash.
  • Walking loosely on leash. You walk your dog across the examination yard on a loose leash. Your dog doesn’t pull on the leash, or refuse to follow.
  • Walking calmly through a crowd. At least three people will stand in the examination yard while you walk your dog through the group. He is expected to walk quietly past without jumping on people or straining at the leash.
  • Performing the sit and down on command, and staying. You will ask your dog to sit. You will then ask him to lie down. Once he has performed these commands, you can keep him in the down position or put him back in a sit, and then tell him to stay. You then step back away from him. He is expected to stay in place for several seconds.
  • Coming when called. Someone will hold your dog while you walk away from him. Once you are 10-feet away, you turn around and call your dog to you. He is expected to return to you immediately.
  • Reaction to another dog. Someone with a dog on a leash will approach you and your dog. Your dog is expected to ignore the handler and the other dog. He is not supposed strain on the leash, act aggressive or behave in an out-of-control way.
  • Keeping calm during a distraction. Your dog will be asked to act confidently during two common distractions, such as dropping a large object nearby or having a jogger run past.
  • Waiting calmly for his owner while being supervised by a stranger. You will hand your dog to someone and then walk away and hide out of sight. Your dog is expected to wait quietly during the three minutes when he can’t see you. He is not to bark, whine or act unruly.

If your dog doesn’t sound up for all this, simply enroll him in one of the many CGC preparation classes being held all around the country by dog clubs, pet stores and private trainers, such as an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer or ABCDT. In this class, your dog will learn to do everything required of him on the test.

Once your dog passes the test, he receives a certificate from the AKC in the mail and the right to wear a CGC tag on his collar. If he’s a purebred, he’s ready to tackle any other AKC performance event, such as obedience, agility or rally. If your dog is a mixed breed, he can still compete in these types of competitions through non-AKC clubs.

For more information, visit the CGC section of the AKC website at:
http://goo.gl/BvDS3r


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.