Animal Behavior College Blog

Where Animal Lovers Pursue Animal Careers

June – Grooming Instruction Program Student Of The Month – 2014


ABC Grooming Instruction Program Student of the Month
June 2014

Rina Causey

Grooming Student Of The Month Rina Causey

Born in Okinawa, Japan, Rina Causey moved to Yakima, Wash., a little more than a year ago when her husband, who is serving in the military, was transferred back to the U.S. She is completing her externship at Debbie’s Pet Grooming in Zillah, Wash. The salon’s owner, Debbie, frequently sends ABC praise and pictures of Rina’s latest groom success. She is very impressed with Rina’s progress and potential as a professional pet groomer.

Was pet grooming your first career choice? If not, what was it?

In Japan, I worked as a hair removal technician and I am also a certified massage therapist.

What animal or person most inspired you to pursue a career in the animal industry?

My husband and my miniature poodle, Marty, inspired me to pursue a career in the pet grooming industry. After I moved to Yakima, I couldn’t decide which grooming salon to take Marty to—and he needed to be trimmed badly. I researched online how to trim a dog’s hair and I decided to give it a try myself. The end result was not pretty and not what I wanted my dog to look like. I wanted to improve my skills. Around that time, my husband told me about Animal Behavior College’s grooming school commercial he saw on TV. So I went to its website and received information about the program. I really liked the hands-on training portion of the program and the ability to have online study, since I had just had a baby.

What knowledge and experiences have you gained from becoming an ABC certified pet groomer?

I have learned a lot of things through both my written stages and externship. I learned about dog’s and cat’s anatomy. I liked this part because you learn how the body moves and functions, so when you move the dogs or cats during grooming, it doesn’t hurt them and is more comfortable. I enjoyed the stage about getting familiar with your grooming tools and how to maintain them. It helped me feel more prepared for my externship. I also enjoyed Stage 9 about Business Building. There was a lot of helpful and applicable information in that section.

What was the biggest challenge you have faced during externship and how did you overcome?

I am really enjoying my externship and learning from my mentor Debbie. I am only about halfway through my hours so far. I am working very hard to learn to groom smoothly and efficiently. As a groomer, you want to make sure you can do a certain number of dogs in a certain time, otherwise you will not make a good living. I am working on picking up my speed without compromising the quality of my work. I pay close attention to my mentor and how she moves around the dogs when grooming and how long she takes at each task. I’ve been paying close attention to the clock, as well, so I know how long I should take for each task.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to gain more experience at Debbie’s Pet Grooming. I hope to master scissoring techniques in the next 12 months. I think mastering your scissoring techniques is critical for producing breed standard trims. I hope to open my own grooming salon in the next 10 years. I can really see myself in the future being happy with my career choices and enjoying owning my own shop.

June Grooming Instruction Program Canadian Student Of The Month – 2014


ABC Grooming Instruction Program Canadian Student of the Month– June 2014

Jade Gibbons

Student Jade Gibbons and her puppy KaliJade Gibbons is one of Animal Behavior College’s star students. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is employed and completing her externship at A Dirty Dog Spa, which is also in Edmonton. Before enrolling with Animal Behavior College, Jade was already involved in the pet grooming industry. She has worked at four different shops and shadowed various groomers as a bather and grooming assistant. Jade took ABC’s pet grooming program in order to strengthen her background and skills, as well as boost her knowledge, ability and creativity as a groomer.

What prompted you to become a pet groomer? Was there a specific event, circumstance or person who inspired you to pursue this career?

I have always loved animals and knew I wanted to pursue something in that field. My very first job when I was 14 years old was at a boarding kennel with a groom shop; I worked as a bather. It was challenging work, but I loved it. From that point on, I knew I wanted to work with animals. At first I wanted to become a veterinary technician, but then found out that groomers make a better living. It sounded like more fun, too, since sometimes you can be creative with your grooms.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

My most rewarding moments are the client’s reactions to how wonderful their babies look when they come to pick them up from a day at the spa. The dogs’ tails are wagging and they are yipping and jumping and everyone is smiling. It feels really good to see how happy pet owners are with how their dog looks. It feels awesome to see how much they like the style and appreciate my hard work.

Have you started working professionally as a groomer yet?

Jades dogs Kali and ThorYes, I am working professionally in a grooming salon. I work full-time at A Dirty Dog Spa, the same place where I did my externship. I work as a bather two days a week and the other three days I get to work as a groomer, which is my favorite. My mentor, Margaret, is a national certifier for Edmonton, so we get to do a lot of fun show cuts and, of course, pet cuts as well. I even had the opportunity to help my mentor get her dogs ready for show. I am having a lot of fun.

What are your future career plans?

My plan is to work at a groom shop for at least 3 years straight to gain more experience. I eventually would like build my clientele and experience, and then open my own shop out of my house. Before doing any of that though, I need to get more comfortable with handling my scissors and mastering how to complete faces and double-coated short bath and tidies.

If you could work style a dog or cat after any celebrity, who would it be and why?

I think it would be really fun to style a Standard Poodle after Elvis Presley. He is a legend and had such classic, yet dramatic style. I have seen it done before and it looks so creative and fun. It would be fun to try to create the personality and style in a dog.

June 2014 – ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA


ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA – June 2014

Manny Guerra, ABCDT

Manny Guerra Dog Training Student Of The Month

Manny Guerra, a recent graduate of ABC’s Dog Obedience Program, resides in Palm Springs, Calif., and works at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. He was inspired to become a certified dog trainer because of his job at the shelter. While there, Manny gained the basic knowledge of socializing and handling but craved more, and that’s why he started at ABC. He has already started training professionally part-time conducting private lessons and assisting with another company’s basic obedience classes. Manny’s ultimate goal is offer classes through his own business. He approaches training with positive energy and intentions, and said that doing so will result in great responses and lead to his success.

What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was remembering that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I am a perfectionist and am always trying to reach new heights. We are all human and we all make mistakes. It is what we choose to do after that makes the biggest difference. I was able to overcome this feeling by being consistent and persistent in achieving my goals.

Was dog training your first career choice? If not, what was it?

Dog training was not originally my first career choice but rather an addition to my overall vision. All the other professions I take part in help to reinforce my success as a dog trainer. I am so happy I found dog training because I could not be more passionate about helping dogs. I suppose I am attracted to it because I am already a teacher. Dog training has since helped me with my own dogs as well. My goal is to set up a perfect world for myself where I spend my time inspiring children and dogs to be the best that they can be.

How did you hear about the ABC program and what convinced you to become certified?

I learned about the ABC program through another trainer who was doing work at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. She suggested I start there because it would give me an excellent foundation to build from. Since I was already searching for something to further my knowledge, it did not take any convincing at all and I jumped at the opportunity to sign up.

What are your plans for dog training? Do you want specialize in particular type of training (e.g., aggression, PTSD, therapy or guide dogs) or in training a particular breed of dog?

My plans are to spend as much time as possible surrounding myself with dogs and training them. I will build a successful business while I’m at it. I would love to work with all types of dogs but I do have a soft spot for scared and nervous dogs, so there will be some focus in that area.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

The most rewarding moment during my externship was definitely having the opportunity to meet wonderful trainers who have inspired me to do great things. I am blessed to have had the chance to work so closely with these professionals. I was given amazing feedback that fueled my drive even further.

June 2014 Dog Obedience Program Canadian Student Of The Month


Dog Obedience Instruction Program
Canadian Student of the Month
June 2014

Laura Rosati

Dog Training Program Student of the Month Laura RosatiSoon to be Animal Behavior Graduate Laura Rosati lives in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada. She decided to become a Certified Dog Trainer for the additional experience and knowledge it will provide for her dog training career. Laura discovered ABC through a Google search. For the past year, she has been training part time at a Petsmart in St. Catherine’s and will become a full time trainer at a Niagara Falls Petsmart location in June. Laura is ecstatic that she will be the Head Trainer and also to have the opportunity to help pet parents, their dogs, puppies and rescues.

What prompted you to become a dog trainer? Was there a specific event, circumstance or person who inspired you to pursue this career?

After graduating Brock University, I decided to take a year off of school and give back to the community. Part of that was volunteering at my local humane society. While there, I fell in love with one of the dogs who had been there for almost a year. I wanted to help her really, really badly. Her name was Maya and it felt like almost everybody had given up hope on her. She was a hyper, rambunctious crazy girl. It seemed as though she was hard-pressed to find anybody who she could genuinely connect with on a positive level. However, it seemed like I had made an impression on her, so I made the decision to go to all of those with authority at the Humane Society to get approval to work with Maya. I had no previous training other than experience with other humane society dogs. They let me work with Maya, so I was allowed to take her off compound and try to socialize her to regular everyday life occurrences. Maya and I connected on a very social and positive level. I firmly believe that our month together played a big role in her rehabilitation, so much so that someone came into the humane society, fell in love with her, adopted her, and now she has her forever home. Maya was my push to make rehabilitation and dog obedience my career goal.

What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?
I have no major complaints about my externship in terms of difficulties to overcome.

My trainer, Jessica Adams, was an excellent source of information and helped me through everything along the way. My externship felt like smooth sailing. The material was fun to learn and teaching was always a blast. My dog Kramer loved every moment of it as well.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

My top rewarding moment was when Kramer completed a series of commands without any preparation. Jessica Adams asked us to demonstrate before for the rest of the class a series of commands in the chain formation that we have never done. I had to ask Kramer to sit and wait on one end of an aisle, walk to the other end of the aisle, call him to me and without touching his leash, get him to go beside me and heel in multiple different directions. Still, without touching his leash, ask him to sit and go to his bed on the floor a little ways away from me. Kramer completed everything perfectly. This really was a testament, not only to how hard we have trained, but also to the bond Kramer and I have built since adopting him last summer from Guelph Humane Society.

What has your experience been like in the ABC Dog Obedience Program?

Nothing but positive; the course work has added to my knowledge while working with customers at Petsmart. I literally hear people saying, “Wow. You really know your stuff.” Once I was called an encyclopedia. Plus, clients whose dogs I train feel more comfortable with me because I can provide them with sound information.

What are your plans for dog training? Do you want specialize in particular type of training (e.g., aggression, PTSD, therapy or guide dogs) or in training a particular breed of dog?

Laura Rosati Dog Trainer collageMy long-term goal is to be a very versatile pet trainer, with knowledge in all regards. However, if there is one thing my rescue dog Kramer, and all other dogs I have built strong bonds with have taught me, it’s that I have a natural gift with hyperactive, eager, looking-to-please-and-learn types of dogs. Those dogs you look at and think “Wow, they have so much energy I could never handle that,” those are the dogs I gravitate most toward. My experience is that these types of dogs can go one of two directions: they either become a dog who falls into the hands of someone who can teach them all the right commands and behaviors; or one who falls into incapable hands, learns incorrect behaviors and winds up in a humane society to be euthanized.

I see so much potential in these dogs that I want to give them the opportunity to become the best they can be in the right hands. And this is why, along with basic, intermediate obedience and obedience, I want to offer courses that provide outlets for these dogs, such as agility and trick training that can be used in everyday life. My main focus will always be to strengthen the communication between dog and pet parent so both parties can have their needs understood and met.

Animal Behavior College Programs are Ideal for Career Changers


A Young Girl Holding A Clock And Making FaceMany people are re-examining their careers and making a change. Some are pursuing their passion for pets in an animal-related career by enrolling in Animal Behavior College programs in hope of either starting a business or working for someone else. Now may be the time to make the move, as the employment outlook appears promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of animal care and service workers in the U.S. will grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

“Pets today are living longer, eating healthier and receiving more services from groomers, veterinarians and trainers,” Said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College. “The College has seen increased enrollment in our programs as demand for these skills   continue to provide excellent employment opportunities for our graduates.”

People spend a lot of money on their pets. In fact, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that Americans will spend $58.51 billion on their pets this year for food, veterinary care, supplies and over-the-counter medicine, pet grooming and boarding and pet purchases combined. High turnover and rapid employment growth is expected to provide excellent job opportunities in the areas of pet training, grooming and veterinary staff.

Animal Behavior College prepares students by offering three certification programs, Dog Obedience Training (DOP), Veterinary Assist Program (VAP) and Grooming Instruction Program (GIP), giving students the education and training necessary to compete. By combining a comprehensive education with hands-on, practical experience in an open-enrollment format that is online and convenient, students acquire essential tools, training and expertise necessary to succeed. The three Certification Programs include:

Dog Obedience Instructor (DOP). This program teaches training techniques using positive reinforcement. Students learn behavioral principles and practical ways to incorporate them into their training regimen. They learn training basics, safety, effective problem solving and pet first aid while gaining hands-on experience and an opportunity to participate in an externship with a mentor. For more information, visit

Veterinary Assistant (VAP). Students learn techniques used for handling and working with animals in a veterinary hospital, as well as situations most often encountered. The curriculum covers office, hospital and examination room procedures, surgical preparation and assistance procedures and radiology and ultrasound imaging to name a few. Students also gain hands-on experience and career building, resume writing, financial planning and effective interviewing skills. This program also provides an externship at a veterinary hospital under the guidance of a mentor. For more information, visit

Grooming Instruction (GIP). Students learn grooming techniques, health and safety, dog and cat grooming, clipper use and scissor control techniques, body styles and breed specific cuts and pet CPR and first aid. Students learn ergonomics and ways in which to perform tasks without causing any strain or damage to their joints and muscles. This program also includes a hands-on externship. For more information, visit

DOP and VAP students attain significant business-building tools to help them succeed in the industry. They learn everything from how to create a business plan to budgeting and marketing techniques. Additionally, they learn skills necessary to work as an employee in the pet industry like resume writing and job searching.

ABC also offers a variety of continuing education programs (CEPs) on several subjects including, cat management and training, pet nutrition, pet massage, pet sitting and training shelter dogs. These programs help students to enhance their skills and increase their knowledge base.

Flea Control – Protect Your Pets from Fleas


Flea Control: When Natural Doesn’t Work

By Lisa King

Anyone who owns a cat or a dog must deal with fleas. They not only make your pets miserable, they bite people, too, causing annoying itchy bumps.

Fleas prefer warm, humid conditions, which means they are seasonal in cold climates but are a problem all year round in the Southeast and Southwest. Dogs bring fleas into the house from outside, but even if you only have indoor cats, be on the lookout for fleas. People can track the eggs in on their shoes.

Natural flea prevention is the safest method (see last month’s article “All Natural Flea Control for Pets” by Stacy Mantle), but sometimes stronger measures are required. If you have a persistent flea problem, ask your veterinarian for advice. Consider the people as well as the pets in your household when choosing flea products—if you live with a pregnant woman or small children, topicals—the spot-on medications that you apply between your pet’s shoulder blades— might not be the best choice. Although topicals kill fleas for a month, it can take a few days for all the fleas to die. In addition, in some areas fleas have evolved to be resistant to certain types of topicals.

If you use topicals on your cat, make sure you are using a product formulated specifically for cats. Many topicals for dogs contain permethrin, which is fatal to cats.

Oral flea medications are an option that will not impact others in your household. Capstar kills all fleas within 30 minutes or so, but has no residual effect. Spinosad (sold as Comfortis) is a fast-acting neurotoxin that can have serious side effects in some animals but is very effective at killing fleas for an entire month. Both medications are approved for cats and dogs.

Sometimes it is worth the risk of side effects to use these strong oral medications. One of my cats is severely allergic to flea bites. He scratches them so hard that he wears off the fur and skin on his neck and face. He has had to take several rounds of antibiotics for skin infections. I finally broke down and gave him spinosad, which he tolerates well, and it has kept him flea-free.

Remember that for every flea you find on your dog or cat, there are dozens more in your home. Here are a few measures you can take to minimize the flea activity in and around your house:

  • Feed your pets a high-quality diet. The healthier your dog or cat is, the easier it will be for him to resist a flea infestation.
  • Bathe your dog regularly with a mild shampoo. If your cat will cooperate (or at least not attempt to eviscerate you), wash him as well, but less often.
  • Use a flea comb on your pets every couple of days during flea season. Drop the fleas in a cup of water with a few drops of dish detergent in it—this will cause them to sink and drown.
  • Wash all pet bedding regularly. Also wash blankets, pillows and rugs where your pets spend time.
  • Vacuum regularly and thoroughly, and not just your floors. Fleas also lay eggs on upholstery and curtains. If you have sofas with slipcovers, you can de-flea them easily by simply throwing the covers in the wash.
  • Keep your pets’ claws clipped. That way, even if they do get a few fleas and scratch, they will do less damage to their skin.
  • Spread beneficial nematodes on your lawn and gardens. They are available at garden stores and some pet supply stores. They not only kill fleas, but many other pests as well.


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” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”


Dog and Equestrian Relationships


Dog and Equestrian Relationships

By Audrey Pavia

It’s difficult to find a horse owner who doesn’t also live with at least one dog. Horses and dogs are a natural combination. If you love horses, chances are you love dogs, too.

Although dogs and horses can often become great friends, danger is inherent whenever these two species come together. The sheer size of a horse, combined with its nature as a prey animal, can mean trouble for even the mellowest dog. Likewise, dogs can pose a great danger to horses as well.

In order to keep your dog safe around horses, it’s important to remember that horses are often afraid of dogs, and will kick, bite or strike to defend themselves. A well-placed kick from a horse can cause severe injury or death.

Conversely, a dog can cause damage to a horse by biting it, chasing it or scaring it to the point where the horse injures itself trying to escape.

Before allowing your dog to be around horses, follow these precautions:

  • Train your dog. Provide your dog with basic training so he will respect your authority when in the presence of a horse. Teach him that horses are not to be chased or barked at. This is especially important if the horse is being ridden.
  • Use a leash. When your dog first meets a horse, keep him on leash so you can control his reaction. Do not allow him off leash until you are certain he will not harass the horse.
  • Teach respect. If your dog has no fear of horses, teach him to stay away from the horse’s legs. Some dogs are so comfortable around horses; they can get underfoot and be stepped on. A healthy fear of horses is a good thing for a dog.
  • Gauge the horse. Before allowing your dog to approach a horse, get a sense of the horse’s reaction to your dog. Determine if the horse seems undisturbed—head and neck are level with the rest of the body, the eye is calm, muscles relaxed—before allowing your dog anywhere near the horse. If the horse is tense, with his head raised and nostrils flaring, or is being ridden, keep your dog away.
  • Watch for pack mentality. Your dog may ignore horses when he’s alone, but could become harassing when in the company of a more aggressive dog. If another dog is present, determine whether this dog might be a bad influence on your normally well-behaved canine.
  • Discourage play. Horses and dogs sometimes like to play together, but this should be discouraged. Horses may find it fun to have a dog run alongside them when they are galloping through a field, but a playful kick from the horse can prove fatal to the dog. This behavior also encourages aggression on the part of the dog, and should not be permitted.
  • Supervise your dog. Never take for granted that your dog is safe around horses. Always keep a close watch on him whenever a horse is nearby.


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

Benefits of Hugging Your Cat


Hug Your Cat!

By Sandy Robins

Did you know that June 4 is officially Hug Your Cat Day? It’s the purrfect oppurrtunity to celebrate the power of the purr.

It’s actually been scientifically proven that cats are good for us. Research done at the University of Minnesota deduced that cat owners are 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack.

There is no question that if you have had a bad day at the office or, for any reason, are particularly stressed, the moment your cat greets you at the door and insists on a game of fetch (as my Ziggy does) or simply climbs on your lap, you begin to relax and benefit from your cat’s slow and gentle purr.

There are many ways to celebrate this wonderful human-feline bond. Sitting and relaxing with your cat on your lap is a no-brainer.

Grooming your cat can be considered “hugging” her, too, because it is a great way to bond. Once you have found the ideal grooming tool, cats enjoy being brushed and it’s a great way to spend time with her, not to mention the benefits of getting rid of shedding fur.

I mention the ideal grooming tool because lots of cats don’t like the feel of anything metal on their fur and skin. They prefer a grooming mitt that offers a simultaneous massage—who can resist that?

Hugging also falls under the heading of playing with your cat. Cats enjoy all kinds of games and will turn anything into a fun toy—such as a cardboard box that you had something delivered in.

However, the best games are interactive ones .In other words, games that involve both you and your favorite feline—just like Ziggy’s endless games of fetch, which we play with a wand toy. Wands and laser tools are a great way for the two of you to interact. Cats enjoy pounce-and-play type games and will often include a couple of head butts during the games. This is their way of hugging you back.

Cats blink at their people and also yawn, which are recognized signs of affection; so be sure to blink back. Your feline will understand the communication.

But the most important thing to remember is that cats enjoy their people every day. It’s not a matter of hugging your cat, but how many times you hug them in a day that really counts!

Hug Your Cat Day is a great idea to have on the pet calendar. Actually, every day should be hug your cat day. Your cat deserves nothing less.

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, and 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


Pet Summer Safety Tips – Heat Awareness Day 2014

Heat Awareness Day 2014 - Keeping Pets Cool in the Heat

Keep Your Pets Safe On Heat Awareness Day 2014

Heat Awareness Day 2014

Several states are already experiencing above normal temperatures and sizzling, record breaking heat. Weather predictors such as the 2014 Farmers’ Almanac indicate that this summer will be exceptionally hot across much of the U.S. Since heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S. (According to the U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Animal Behavior College encourages pet owners to prepare now to ensure they protect their dogs and cats from heat’s devastating effects. National Heat Awareness Day on May 23 serves as a great reminder.

“Summer is one of the busiest seasons for most people,” said Steven Appelbaum. “With so many activity-filled days, it is easy for dog and cat owners to forget that extreme heat can be potentially fatal. Planning and early preparation are key to ensuring pets are comfortable and safe.”

Pet Summer Safety Tips

The college recommends five readiness tips to help your pet beat the heat and other summer safety-related concerns:

Prevent Heat Stroke. As your pet’s body temperature increases, it cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Extreme heat can lead to heat stroke resulting in multiple organ dysfunctions. Keep your pet out of the heat and in a cool, shaded area. Provide access to water.

Prevent Sun Burn. White dogs and cats and those that have thin or no hair are more susceptible to sunburn. Just like humans, they can sunburn. Use pet safe sunscreens and keep your pet out of the sun. Some sun blocks contain potentially harmful ingredients, so consult your veterinarian before applying sunscreen to your cat.

Avoid Dog Walks on Hot Pavement. Pavement can get extremely hot and can cause lacerations, paw infections and burnt pads. Unfortunately, these injuries are often not apparent to the human eye. Walk dogs when temperatures are coolest or in shaded areas on the grass.

Keep Your Pet Safe Around Water. It is a myth that all dogs are good swimmers. Keep a watchful eye on them around pools, lakes or any other body of water. Ensure fresh water is available to ensure your pet does not drink water from the pool. Visit our blog to learn more about Dog Water Safety.

Safely Remove Ticks. Ticks transmit disease, which can cause fatal complications. If you notice a tick on your pet, it is important to remove it immediately and carefully. Visit our blog for tips about properly Removing Ticks.

Ensure your pet has access to plenty of fresh water and a way to cool off. Never leave pets in parked vehicles. If you notice that your pet is in distress, visit your veterinarian right away.

By following these easy heat awareness and safety tips, you and your pets will enjoy a fun and safe summer season.

Pet Summer Safety Tips – Heat Awareness Day 2014

The ABCs of Gardening with Pets


The ABCs of Gardening with Pets:
Safe Natural Flea & Tick Repellants

By Stacy Mantle

The use of herbs as natural pest repellents on pets and in gardens is nothing new, and it can be a very effective way to decrease or eliminate your reliance on chemicals. However, when planting herbs, be sure to consider herbs that add to the health of you and your pet, while naturally repelling fleas and ticks.

There are a number of plants that can help you naturally control pests on pets in your garden and around the house. When the proper herbs are mixed between your plants in a garden, they can help naturally repel fleas and ticks, while attracting valuable insects such as ladybugs and worms.

Beware of Toxic Plants
Some of the most effective herbs used to control insects are not only toxic to fleas and ticks, but to pets as well. Common herbs that are generally recommended for flea-and-tick repellent, but can be toxic to your pet if consumed, include:

  • Flea Bane (Pennyroyal)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella
  • Fleawort
  • Wormwood
  • Tansy
  • Sweet Bay
  • Rue

These herbs should be avoided in the yard and garden when you have pets.

Safe, Natural Repellents

This leads us to some useful plants that not only act as natural repellents, but are safe for your pets if they decide to snack on them while you’re away. (Note that while these will repel fleas and ticks, they might also work to attract other animals.)

Star Anise is a cousin to the magnolia vine, and placing whole star anise pods around your home can help keep cockroaches and termites at bay. Anise is a natural dog attractant, and many canines have been known to react in the same way cats react to catnip. Star Anise is known to promote vitality and the licorice-spiced plant has quickly become one of the most sought after plants in the world for its healing qualities—shikimic acid, the starting ingredient in the human prescription medication, Tamiflu, is extracted from it.

Catnip is from the mint family and is a very safe and highly effective for the control of fleas and ticks. According to Iowa State University, nepetalactone (the essential oil in catnip) is 10 times more effective than DEET. Remember that anything from the mint plant family is very invasive and can easily take over a garden if left unchecked. Instead, consider some well-positioned containers to keep mint under control. As you know, catnip will act as an attractant for most cats, so you may find your favorite feline rolling around in your garden each morning.

Rosemary is a natural pest repellent that works especially well as a flea, tick and mosquito repellent. You may see rosemary as a natural supplement in many herbal shampoos and conditioners due its effectiveness in repelling pests while serving as an invigorating and refreshing scent for pets and people. Since it does well in nearly any climate, Rosemary is a wonderful addition to any garden.

Lavender is a natural calmant for pets and people, and it also happens to be a great option for natural pest control. These are perfect for containers and will keep pets calm as they lounge on the patio. Not only is it a great way to repel pests, it can help heal sensitive skin after a bite. Simple rub some essential oil directly on the bite and the itch and pain will immediately dissipate.

Lemongrass is not only used to create delicious Asian food, it’s a natural mosquito repellent. You’ll find that this herb naturally attracts cats and naturally repels dogs (under most circumstances), so keep that in mind when you plant. Another benefit to this plant is its ability to keep deer from your garden. Generally, the more fragrant a plant, the less likely deer will be interested in approaching. Consider placing in containers as it has the ability to take over your garden.

Sage has one of the longest histories for medicinal and culinary plants. Egyptians used it as an agent against delirium; the Romans used it to stop bleeding; and it is still used to reduce swelling in injuries. Not only does sage have medicinal values, it’s a natural repellent for fleas and ticks. Consider planting some in containers around your garden. Since it’s a desert plant, sage is naturally drought repellent and low-maintenance, doing particularly well in dry desert climates.

Chamomile is not only easy to grow; it makes for some wonderful tea and offers a broad range of medicinal purposes for man and pets. It’s also a natural repellent for fleas and ticks. Steep a tablespoon of in a cup of water, then cool and add it to your pet’s food or water. This can help relieve gas in pets, encourage healing, expel worms and act as a natural calmant. This makes chamomile one of the most versatile herbs around.

Sprinkling food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) around plants can also help stop most pests, especially fleas and ticks. Not ready to start a garden? You can also apply food-grade DE to your pets coat and on their bedding to repel keep fleas and ticks. To obtain food-grade DE, check your local garden store or order Flea Dust directly from DERMagic. Flea Dust is safe for all animals, including birds and fish. (Do not use pool DE or DE that is not food-grade as it is treated with chemicals during processing.)

Stacy Mantle is the founder of, a columnist for many publications, including Animal Behavior College and Pet Age, and the bestselling author of the fantasy novel, “Shepherd’s Moon.” For more information about Stacy, please visit