Tag Archives: pet care

Keep Fido Mentally and Physically Active – Boredom Busters, Enrichment Exercises & More!

What is Boredom?

 

Science has only recently began to look at boredom and understand what makes people bored.  A 2012 review of boredom research entitled The Definition, Assessment, and Mitigation of State Boredom Within Educational Settings: A Comprehensive Review (Vogel-Walcutt, J.J., Fiorella, L., Carper, T. et al.) suggested that boredom is a combination of a subjective psychological state of dissatisfaction, frustration or disinterest and an objective lack of neurological excitement, all of which result from a lack of stimulation. (Kubota, 2016).

Do Dogs Suffer from Boredom?

Animal welfare lecturer Charlotte Burn, from The Royal Veterinary College,  observed dogs left alone at home before publishing an essay entitled Bestial boredom: a biological perspective on animal boredom and suggestions for its scientific investigation, in which she states that Chronic inescapable boredom can be extremely aversive, and under stimulation can harm neural, cognitive and behavioural flexibility.”  She told The Times: “They often yawn, bark, howl and whine. Some sleep a lot – a sign of apathy. Some of this is anxiety but often they are just really bored.” 

Take Your Dog to School

A bored dog, lacking appropriate mental and physical stimulation may get himself into trouble by looking for ways to entertain himself. “Animals in barren conditions seek even aversive stimulation, as if bored.” (Burns, 2017).  Problematic behaviors such as digging, incessant barking and inappropriate destructive chewing may be a dog’s way of alleviating boredom and easing anxieties.

Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation for Your Dog

Some simple changes might go a long way in helping overcome boredom and alleviating anxiety by providing both mental and physical stimulation for the pet.

Here are some suggested ‘boredom busters’:

  • Make sure your dog’s diet is nutritionally balanced. A poor diet may not only affect your dog physically, it could also negatively affect their behaviour.
  • Take your dog to school – Learn how to engage and motivate him!
  • Teach your dog some fun tricks – Check out this A, B, C of Apprentice Tricks video for some ideas!
  • Provide interactive feeding and chew toys.
  • Provide a doggie sandpit – an appropriate place for the dog to dig.
  • Provide a doggie paddling pool – a great place to cool off and have fun in the hot summer months.
  • Play fun games with your dog. 
  • Teach your dog how to relax and provide him with a comfortable place to do so.

    DogSmith Slumber Party – The Perfect Doggy Vacay!

  • Vary your walking routine.  Taking the same path every day is monotonous for everyone.
  • Arrange a playdate with a suitable doggie friend.
  • Arrange a Slumber Party or Sleep Over for when you are away.
  • Hire a certified pet care technician to spend time with your dog while you are out at work – to feed him, take him for a walk, play with him…

Fun Games

There are lots of options for fun games you can play with your dog, many of which can help proof some of your cues.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Practice cues such as take it, drop it, sit, down…. while the dog has fun chasing a soft toy on a flirt pole.
  • Play a game of fetch.
  • Play fun scent games like the Find the Hidden ? Game (Insert word of choice e.g. Treats/Vegetables/Ball/Stuffed Toy/Car Keys). Start by ‘hiding’ food in plain sight and gradually increase the level of difficulty.
  • Enjoy a fun game of hide-and-seek. Simply go hide and then call your dog. Start by hiding in a place where you are easy to find and gradually increase the level of difficulty as your dog gets better at the game. This is a great way of proofing your recall cue. Please, remember the recall word is a very important cue and deserves double reinforcement.  What betterthan a fun game and a high-value reinforcer every time your dog comes, no matter how long it takes him to find you.  Please note, if it is taking a very long time, you should probably make the game easier as you want your dog to enjoy the game and have fun finding you, not get frustrated and give up.  
  • A fun tug session is also a great choice!

Interactive Feeding Toys

Whether you would like to keep your pet occupied while you are out; need your dog to be quiet while you make an important phone call; want a good way of slowing down how quickly your dog eats; want to give your dog a job in the form of an opportunity to ‘scavenge’ for his food; want to provide a suitable alternative to chewing up your furniture or nibbling on your ankles … an interactive feeding toy or appropriate chew toy is going to keep your dog busy while also providing great mental stimulation.  I recommend all pet guardians provide their dog with an interactive feeding toy.  My favourites are the KONG Classic, KONG Wobbler, West Paw Zogoflex Toppl or West Paw Zogoflex Tux. Nylabones are also one of my favourite recommendations for those in need of a good, long-lasting chew. 

KONGS and Nylabones come in a range of sizes and chewing options.  KONG options include the KONG® Classic, KONG® Extreme, KONG® Puppy and KONG® Senior. There are also KONG balls, bones, toys on ropes, rings, tires and many more rubber KONG toys. There are Nylabones for soft chewers and Nylabones for extreme chewers.  They come in a variety of shapes and flavors such as peanut butter, bacon, cheese, chicken, Philly cheese steak and more, so there is sure to be one that your dog loves.  Whether purchasing a KONG, a Nylabone or any other interactive feeding toy or chew, please choose the appropriate size and chewing ‘strength’ for your pet. Puppy teething rings are another ‘must buy’ but something a simple as soaking a face cloth in water and popping it into the freezer, means that you always have something on hand to help soothe a puppy’s sore gums.  Please always actively supervise and, if unsure as to whether the pet might try to swallow something, keep hold of it while they enjoy a good chew.

Stuffed KONGS

Stuffing a KONG is not only good for your dog, it is a great way of using up your surplus (doggie appropriate) groceries!  One of my dogs’ favourite recipes is a mixture of cooked sweet potato and flaked chicken mixed with leftover veggies and kéfir. I simply stuff the KONG and pop in the freezer for an extra challenge!

If you and your dog are just starting out with interactive feeding toys, keep it simply by simply stuffing with some loose high-quality kibble, small chunks of meat and cheese or a few small treats. Encourage your dog to play with the toy and offer plenty of praise as he starts moving it around to get the treats out.

Here’s a favourite recipe – the KONG ‘Summer Picnic’

KONG® Classic

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cream cheese

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Split the mixture between your KONGs and freeze for a greater challenge.

You can find the Kong ‘Summer Picnic’ and lots more stuffing recipes on the KONG website here

Doggie Ice-Cream

Another of my dogs’ favourite recipes is banana ice-cream. I blend the ingredients and pour into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, the doggie ice-cream is served in a West Paw Zogoflex Tux (the perfect size for an ice cream cube!). This is suitable for both feeding toy novices and pros.

Ingredients:
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups kéfir or plain low-fat yoghourt
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (organic if you have it)

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until it’s mixed. Pour the mixture into ice trays and freeze.  Serve in a Zogoflex Tux.

One of my dogs’ and my canine clients’ much-loved low-fat alternative to banana ice cream is fish sorbet.  This is how we make it:

West Paw Zogoflex Tux

  • Three-quarters fill an ice tray with water.
  • Flake in some tuna, sardines, mackerel or salmon.
  • Add 3 crushed blueberries or other favourite fruit such as apple, banana or melon to each cube.
  • Freeze and serve in a Zogoflex Tux.

 

Please note that some food can be toxic or otherwise hazardous to dogs. No onions, sultanas, grapes, raisins, xylitol (artificial sweetener), chocolate, macadamia nuts or cooked bones. This list is not exhaustive.  For more information on foods that could be unsafe for pets, visit the ASPCA’s People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets page.

 

Training Classes

Attending group training classes is a great way of providing both mental and physical stimulation for your dog. If you are new to training, we advise a pet dog manners course – The DogSmith Small Paw Etiquette Puppy Class is a fantastic choice for those of you with young puppies.  The Pet Dog Ambassador programme is a great choice for dogs of all ages. Fun Scent Games and Trick Classes are also highly recommended as both get a big thumbs up from dogs and guardians!  If you or your dog are likely to be unhappy in a group class situation, we highly recommend private training sessions with a qualified force-free trainer.

When Should You Call a Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant?

telephone-dogWhile implementing the above recommended ‘boredom busters’ is going to help provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog, if you have a dog with specific behavioural challenges such as: Aggression toward people; aggression toward dogs or other animals; leash reactivity and impulse control problems; excessive barking or digging; destructive behaviours; growling nipping and snapping behaviours; attachment or separation anxiety problems; shy or fearful behaviours; abnormal behaviors, such as excessive licking, air snapping or obsessive tail chasing; hyperactivity…  we urge you to contact a certified dog behaviour consultant as soon as possible.

 
 
 
 

More Information

The DogSmith

 
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The DogSmith offers force-free, learning-theory based dog training programmes coupled with professional pet-sitting and dog-walking services.

Whether you’re a dog owner looking to solve a specific behavioral problem, a dog lover simply wanting to strengthen and broaden your relationship with your dog, or a family wanting the best care possible for your pets while you’re away from home, the DogSmith is the only call you’ll ever need to make.

Listen to a five minute podcast about the DogSmith and our training and behavior services. There is a difference between the two.  Alternatively you can contact your DogSmith who will help guide you in your choice of services.

You can locate a local DogSmith here.

 

The Pet Professional Guild

The Pet Professional Guild is a membership organization representing pet industry professionals who are committed to results based, science based force-free training and pet care.

You can locate a PPG Professional Member in your area by clicking here: PPG Member Search

 

 


You CAN’T Reinforce Fear, But You CAN Help Take It Away.

 Is your dog afraid of thunder and lightning?

Essential oils can aide relaxation

Jambo wears a bandana sprayed with lavender oil

I have heard and seen people advising pet guardians to ignore their dogs when they are frightened.  They are warned that paying attention to the dog will make them worse and lead to the dog being more fearful in future. This is nonsensical.  As long as you yourself are calm and are not frantically engaging with the dog, but instead are calmly soothing and reassuring him, as well as putting strategies in place to help him relax, you are not going to increase the dog’s fears.

Imagine being in a minor car accident – nothing serious, but something that has shaken you a little.  Your friend puts an arm around you and reassuringly tells you that everything is going to be ok. She takes you inside and makes you a cup of tea.  Is this going to make you more fearful of cars?  No, absolutely not. It might, however, help lower your anxiety levels and make you feel better. You cannot reinforce an emotion!

We recently experienced heavy rain and thunder.   Jambo does not like thunder. You can see this just by looking at his body language in the photo of him eating his breakfast. His ears are back, and his tail is low.  He was, however, calm enough to eat and to then take a nap in his much loved ‘puppy’ bed, in his ‘secure place’ under the kitchen breakfast bar – This is where the bed was placed when he was a little puppy so that he could sleep beneath my feet as I work on my laptop.

I have worked hard to help Jambo overcome the fear he has of thunder, fireworks and other loud noises.  Some of the strategies I use are ongoing and some only come into play when the fear-provoking stimulus is present.

Here are some of the strategies that help Jambo cope, which could also help your dog or the pets in your care:

  • Close all exterior doors, windows, shutters, curtains and blinds.
  • Put on the lights – helping to mask lightning that may sneak through any gaps in the curtains. 
  • Play calming classical music.  Soft rock and reggae are also good options!  In fact, the effects of habituation can be reduced by varying the genre of music chosen. (Bowman, Dowell and Evans (2017). 
  • Put the extractor fan on – providing ‘white noise’ to help block out the sound of the thunder. 
  • Spray a bandana with calming lavender oil and tie around the dog’s neck.
  • Spray the dog’s mattress with Pet Remedy Pet Calming Spray or similar.
  • Plug in a Pet Remedy diffuser.  Adaptil is another good option.
  • Make sure the dog’s crate is available for further refuge, located in a favorite place away from exterior windows and doors.
  • Place a yummy stuffed Kong, sealed with peanut butter (or the dog’s favorite food) in the dog crate. 
  • If necessary, give a Calmex for Dogs tablet.  This is a supplement designed to reduce stress and anxiety in dogs.  Nutracalm or Zylkene are other options.  *Please consult your veterinarian before administering any supplements or medication.
  • Put a Thundershirt on the dog. Please note this should have been previously conditioned to engender a positive emotional response.
  • Apply body wraps – To learn more about body wraps, please refer to the The Use of Body Wraps and Pressure Garments for Dogs,  a three-part program covering the knowledge and skills required to effectively use sensory techniques such as body wraps.

A relaxed Jambo, free from fear, anxiety and stress

My arms are always open for a reassuring cuddle; my hands rubbed with Bitch Balm (a lavender based balm for dogs and horses) to pet, and my calming voice to soothe. 

All of the above management strategies are put into place once the storm has arrived and the fear is present, but I also implemented a behavioral change program to work on actually changing Jambo’s emotional response (his fear).  Before we began the behavior change program, Jambo would shake uncontrollably and run and hide at the first tremor of thunder.  He would not have eaten his breakfast, nor would he have been able to rest in his puppy bed…

Respondent Conditioning

I use classical conditioning (counterconditioning) and desensitization, to help elicit a positive emotional response to things Jambo is frightened of. The sound of thunder, fireworks, gunshots… have all been paired with his favorite peanut butter and/or roast chicken.

If you do not know what respondent conditioning is, please refer to The DogNostics Lexicon  – A Lexicon of practical terms for pet trainers and behaviour consultants  available from DogNostics Career Center.  Click here to purchase.

Putting all of the above measures in place, and giving Jambo my love and attention, helps ease his anxiety.

Please check out this post from Eileenanddogs.  It has some resources for getting your dog through events with loud noises and some general tips about dealing with fear.

 

*Please note: The information in this article, is not designed to replace a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist or accredited force-free behavior consultant.  If a dog is showing signs of fear, anxiety or stress, an appointment should be made with a certified behaviorist who will put an individualized behavioral change program in place. The dog’s veterinarian should also be consulted, who in conjunction with the behaviorist, may deem that anti-anxiety medication is necessary.

 

 

Reference:

Reitzes, D. C., & Mutran, E. J. (2004). Bowman, A., Scottish SPCA, Dowell, F.J., & Evans N.P. The effect of different genres of music on the stress levels of kennelled dogs. Physiology & Behavior Volume 171, 15 March 2017, Pages 207-215. 


10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Pet Sitter or Dog Walker

The world of dog walking and pet sitting is unregulated in most areas so anyone can potentially call themselves a professional Dog Walker or Pet Sitter.

But, much like choosing the best care-givers for your children, it is essential that you make every effort to ensure you find a qualified, trustworthy and professional pet sitter and dog walker. You are entrusting the health and well-being of your pet family members to their care so ask the following 10 questions about Pet Sitting/Dog Walking professionals before you hire them:

 

  1. Can you check their background and do they do background checks on all of their employees? Some Pet Sitters/Dog Walkers may seem great when you meet them and say all of the right things but you are entrusting them with your pets and sometimes access to your home. You should confirm that the Pet Sitting/Dog Walking Company does background checks on their workers and you should look into the background of the company. You can use the internet or get more detailed information by using a background check service. Reputable Pet Sitting/Dog Walking companies will be happy to have you check their background.

Help Us Give You the Best Service Possible…

Help Us Give You the Best Service Possible…
By Niki Tudge

DogSmith Pet Professionals have committed their professional lives to providing you with the absolute best, most informed, force-free, ‘state of the industry’ pet care and dog training available. Not only is each DogSmith fully insured and bonded but the rigorous training and continuing education each DogSmith accomplishes each year sets the standard in our industry. DogSmiths are fully accredited in pet care and pet first-aid and every DogSmith business owner is a certified dog trainer using only force-free training and pet care techniques.

As part of our effort to provide you with the “best care anywhere” we ask that you consider the following when requesting any of our services for your furry family member:

1. Make Your Reservation as Early as Possible:

This assures you won’t be left without the services you require and will give your DogSmith plenty of time to prepare for any special requirements. The last thing we want to do is disappoint you when you need pet care services and we take pride in providing you the services you need, when you need them.
Likewise, if you need to cancel your reservations cancel them as soon as you can. This will minimize any cancellation fees (especially around the holidays) and it will give your DogSmith a better chance to fill the time reserved for you with another client.

2. Give Us the Most Accurate Information You Can:

We know this can sometimes be hard. You may not even notice some of your pet’s characteristics anymore or you may be hesitant to mention certain problems or behaviors. This is natural. But for your DogSmith to provide your beloved pet the best care possible we need the most accurate information on your pet’s health, behavior, fears, chronic conditions, past illnesses/injuries, likes, dislikes, phobias and preferences. Your DogSmith also needs accurate information to access your home. This can be especially critical if you are a regular DogSmith client. Some details concerning your home or pet may change between scheduled DogSmith services that you may forget to update with us.
Having complete and accurate information will help your DogSmith identify any changes in behavior or demeanor should they arise while you are away. Remember, DogSmiths are pet care professionals who are trained and experienced in every aspect of pet care so they will either be equipped to respond to any specific issues with your pet or they will be able to suggest suitable alternatives. So always complete our registration forms making sure that the following is provided in detail:

Pet Information –
1. Complete vaccination history
2. Contact details for your vet
3. Contact details for friends or family in case of emergency
4. Complete contact details for you while you are away including phone number, cell phone number, email address etc.
5. Comprehensive description of your pets behavior, fears, chronic conditions
6. Food and feeding schedule.

For In-Home Pet Care –
1. Complete instructions on how your house works
2. Schedules for any in-home services you may have such as; maid/cleaning, pool,
yard, pest control etc.
3. Any scheduled contractor work or service to be done in your absence
4. Information on any potential houseguests
5. Information on any friends or neighbors who may have access to your house.
6. Keys, alarm codes, community gate/access codes, combinations or little tricks for problematic locks.

3. Keep Your DogSmith informed

Always confirm your travel plans before your DogSmith services are scheduled to begin and keep your DogSmith apprised of any changes, especially your return dates. As mentioned above, update any information concerning your pet or your home with your DogSmith. Do you have a new alarm code, changed your pet’s feeding schedule or has anything else changed that your DogSmith should be aware of?

4. Try to be Flexible

DogSmith Pet Professionals do everything they can to completely satisfy every customer’s request but DogSmiths are in such demand that they may have to adjust their schedule slightly too properly meet the needs of their clients. If you have requested a specific service at a specific time the DogSmith Pet Professional will make every effort to accommodate your request exactly but there may be an occasion where the service may be a few minutes earlier or later than that requested due to other commitments.

Your DogSmith will always attempt to accommodate your every need while you are away but please remember that if you ask for extra services it may not be possible for your DogSmith to always perform these if their schedule won’t allow it.

5. Let Us Know
When you return to your home and pets after being away, if there is anything you are concerned about please contact your DogSmith immediately. We will be much more able to address you concerns when your service has been recent.

If you can think of anything else that we can do to provide you and your pets with the best care possible please contact us. The DogSmith is helping pets become family!


Dog Training & Pet Care in Oxford MS – The DogSmith, Who are We?

Schedule a Free consultation with your DogSmith Today. Providing force-free, fun ethical dog training services combined with personalized, flexible pet care programs. The DogSmith – Helping Pet’s Become Family!. Contact The DogSmith Oxford, MS. Register for dog training classes or schedule a pet sitting service. We are just a call away.  1-888-Dog-Smith (364-7648) or visit us on the web at www.DogSmith.com.



Ole Miss Rebels Football Season – Who is looking after your pets in Oxford MS

Call The Premier Pet Care Facility in Oxford MS, home of The DogSmith, America’s pet care company. Whether you need doggie daycare, weekend boarding  or a game day bath!

 

The Pampered Paws Pet Resort & Spa is a deluxe, full service pet resort proudly serving pet owners in the greater Oxford MS area. The pet resort is also the home of The DogSmith® National Training Center. With the Pampered Paws Pet Care Program you’re never torn between the demands of your job, social life or family and the needs of your pets. Our pet care program is specifically designed to give you the peace of mind that comes from having the best of all worlds. Talk to us today to learn more about how our services can help you through the OLE Miss Rebels Football Season

Make Your Reservation Today – Book Early and Avoid Disappointment

Not sure what dates you may need, checkout the Ole Miss Rebels Foot Ball Schedule

Learn about Dog Day Care

Learn about our Pet Boarding

Do you have a lapdog – checkout our Small Paws Home Style Boarding

 

 


DogSmith Franchise Services and Pampered Paws Pet Resort Merge in Oxford MS

News Release

Contact:             Rick Ingram

DogSmith Franchise Services

RickIngram@DogSmith.com

1-888-Dog-Smith (364-7648)

DogSmith Franchise Services and Pampered Paws Pet Resort Merge

DogSmith Franchise Services National Dog Training and Pet Care Company announces its merger with Pampered Paws Pet Resort & Spa of Oxford Mississippi.

Oxford, MS, April 13, 2011 – DogSmith Franchise Services proudly announces the merger of the DogSmith Training Center with Pampered Paws Pet Resort & Spa, a deluxe full service, luxury pet facility in Oxford, MS -collocated with Pampered Paws Animal Hospital.  The merger combines The DogSmith’s comprehensive group and private dog training services, specialty programs, canine behavior counseling and dog agility classes with Pampered Paws’ exceptional doggy daycare, grooming, luxury services and deluxe accommodations.

Dr. Jennifer Stobbe, DVM and owner of the Pampered Paws Animal Hospital says, “I am excited that the DogSmith has partnered with Pampered Paws Animal Hospital to take the Pet Resort & Spa to the next level.  Not only does the DogSmith bring exceptional new services to our community but also the DogSmith is owned and operated by individuals who are compassionate and dedicated to improving the lives and relationships we share with our pets.  The DogSmith and Pampered Paws share a commitment to excellence for services offered to patients and guests whose care we are entrusted with.”

In 2001, The Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science reported that when people give up their pet animal to a shelter it may “represent a breakdown of the human-animal bond” and that a majority of animals are given to shelters or abandoned because of “behavioral characteristics of the animals.”

According to Niki Tudge, Master DogSmith and President of DogSmith Franchise Services this is exactly what the DogSmith programs target.  “Our DogSmith programs perfectly complement the full service luxury accommodations and amenities offered by Pampered Paws Pet Resort & Spa.  Our mission is to provide affordable and professional care to family pets so that pet ownership is never a burden.  Our programs are designed to improve the bond we share with our pets and to make our pets a joy to live with.  We pride ourselves on ‘helping pets become family.’ Whatever you need, the DogSmith has an affordable program for you.  We also have specialty training like dog agility,” says Tudge.

For additional information on The DogSmith call 1.888.364.7648 or by email; info@Dogsmith.com.  You can also visit their website at http://www.DogSmith,com

About The DogSmith https://www.dogsmithfranchise/

The DogSmith Franchise Services Inc. is a Florida based company whose mission is to enhance the lives of pets and their owners by improving their relationship, and the quality of the life they share, through providing professional support and training to pet dog owners, supporting and assisting animal shelters and rescue organizations to minimize the number of unwanted animals and offering affordable and professional care to family pets so that pet ownership is never a burden. To learn more about the DogSmith or become a DogSmith Dog Trainer, visit www.DogSmithfranchise.com or call 1-888-364-7648.