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Thoughts From FairyDust Services

June the start of summer. Summertime and the living is easy comes from a song that always makes me feel like it is time to slow down and enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. A wonderful time to spend with friends and family at picnics, barbeques, outdoor movies…so much fun!! Pets are welcome in so many places now that they can enjoy almost everything we wish to do, on top of their favorite outdoor fun or our kitties spending more time on the lanai. Happy beginning of summer, and remember the importance of you and your pets staying hydrated.

Why Does My Dog Ignore Me? Am I Invisible?

This is one of the most common questions we hear from dog parents. We've all been there... you call your dog, and he heads the other way. Or you tell him to stay, and he jumps right up. Many of us repeat the command and sometimes even threaten our dog, "If you don't come by the count of 3, there will be big trouble, Fido." That never really works, and all those words confuse him.

Contrary to what some people think, your dog is not challenging your authority or getting back at you. The bottom line in dog training is that the behaviors that get rewarded are the behaviors that get repeated. Your dog wants to make you happy but often can't figure out how. Here are some ideas to help you become a better dog trainer.

Dogs communicate visually; with their posture, tails, ears, and eyes. Yet, with us, they need to learn to communicate verbally. It's not their natural communication style, so it takes practice. It is best to teach only one or two words at a time. For example, "sit" is easier for your dog to understand than, "Rover, will you please sit right now."

The next important idea is timing. Our dogs live in the moment, so timing is critical to their learning. When your dog responds like you want him to, you only have a second or two to let him know he's on the right track. For example: imagine you ask your dog to sit, and he does. Then it takes you a minute to get the treats out, so Fido gets bored and lays down. When you give him that treat, he thinks he's getting it for laying down, not sitting. It's essential to be ready with praise and treats so you can give them to Fido immediately.

Here is where it gets harder - when Fido does the wrong thing. Let's say you let Fido out in your fenced yard to potty. After 10 minutes or so, you call Fido, and he doesn't respond. You call some more, and he continues to dig or play with his toys. Now you're getting angry. You try to lure him with a treat, but Fido is still doing his own thing. So when Fido finally moseys over, you grab his collar and take him inside, telling him he's a bad dog.

Fido just learned: "I came over to my mom, and she's yelling at me." In truth, you should have rewarded Fido for coming, even if it's 5 minutes after you called him, because the behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.

Remember, dogs are more likely to learn with high-value treats (cheese or bits of turkey). Some dogs are more motivated by a special toy, so if that works, use it! The bottom line is the reward has to be fantastic when training.

These ideas are actually simple; you need to think more like your dog. And once you understand a few basic ideas, your dog training will be so much easier for you and Fido!

Spice Up Your Next Dog Walk

We can all get stuck in a rut once in a while, which happens with dog walks. Walking the same route can be monotonous, to say the least. Mix it up now and then! Your dog will be happier, and you may enjoy the walks more. Here are some ideas:

Location - change your course! Head in a different direction or drive to a new spot for your daily walk. Rover will love the new sights and smells he finds along the way.

Change sides - teach your dog a new game while walking, but be sure you have treats. Say change and move your pup from your left side to your right side. Give him a treat when he gets there, even if you had to help him change sides. Soon he'll switch sides without missing a beat! This game helps focus his attention on you, and it comes in handy at times if you need to put some distance between your dog and a distraction, such as another dog or a squirrel.

Find it - use a treat and make it easy at first; toss it right in front of him and say, "find it." Once Rover gets the hang of it, make it harder by throwing treats farther or in the grass, so he has to use his nose to find them. If it gets too difficult to find, point out the treat, and he'll soon enjoy this game. This game also puts the attention on the treat instead of potential distractions.

Fast, Slow, Sit - mix up the pace and reward your pooch for keeping up. Say "fast" and walk quickly, and reward him for matching your speed. Then say "slow" and reward him for slowing down. Say "sit" in random places and reward with treats. This is a fun way to teach your dog a new skill, reinforce basic commands he already knows, and keep the focus on you!

Buddy Walk - take your daily walk with a friend and their dog (as long as the two dogs get along). This will help them learn a new set of manners, like not crossing in front of you and the other dog. Both dogs will have another level of enjoyment - hanging out with a buddy.

Unleashed Walking - let your dog have some off-leash time if you can; try a fenced-in dog park or a Sniffspot (www.SniffSpot.com). Some dog parks have multiple fenced areas; we've seen a few that have a smaller fenced area for training or for dogs that don't play well with others. Sniffspot is a website where people rent out their fenced-in yards for a small fee. Check each yard before you unleash your dog to ensure all gates are closed and solid. If you have a friend with a fenced yard, you may be able to use that occasionally.

Walks and training should be fun for both you and your dog. These ideas should help keep you and Rover interested.

How To Choose A Cat Carrier

If you are going to be on the go with your cat in tow, you'll need the right cat carrier. Besides being safe, you want to make sure it is easy to load and unload, looks cute, has good ventilation, and is easy to clean. 

Safety: If you need a carrier for visits to the vet, you still need a safe way to transport your kitty, and having Fluffy loose in the car, isn't safe. Look for one that is crash tested and that you can secure with the seatbelt. If it's not securable, put it on the floor of the backseat. Both hard and soft carriers need to lock - check them carefully to ensure your cat is secure. We've seen many cats open a zipper! If you're traveling by plane, check with your airline to see what they recommend.

Material: Kitty carriers come in both hard and soft styles. Hard is very sturdy, but they tend to take up more room. However, many cats seem to feel safer in a hard carrier with walls. Soft carriers are often more comfortable on long trips; many come with a padded floor and fleece pad for comfort. Be sure the fabric and windows are sturdy.

Size: If you're only going to use a carrier for vet visits, it really only needs to be large enough for your cat to lay down, stand up, and turn around. If you're taking a road trip or a trip that involves a plane flight, Fluffy's carrier should be roomier, with more space for her to stretch. It will also need an attached water and feed bowl.

Ventilation: Thankfully, most carriers are designed with airflow in mind; however, keep in mind that some cats find too many windows a bit intimidating and may like a dark, quiet corner to relax in.

Openings: The type of door is an important feature. A carrier with a top opening is often easier to "drop" your cat into instead of trying to stuff a reluctant kitty in a front door. Some carriers have front and top doors, the best of both worlds! Make sure the doors have secure latches.

A few other considerations: Consider how easy the carrier is to clean. Check out what sort of handles or staps it has for you to carry it with. If you're traveling by plane, your carrier should be airline-approved. Think about style in regards to how you'll use it. There are oodles of design options like backpack style, carriers with wheels, or stroller style carriers.

No matter what type of carrier you've chosen, get your cat used to it. Open all the doors, put in a toy and a few treats, and let Fluffy investigate it. Don't try to coax Fluffy into it; let her take her time. Soon you'll be all set to go somewhere with your kitty!

Great Pet Links!

June is:

Adopt a Shelter Cat 
Microchip Month
National Pet Preparedness

June 4: Hug Your Cat Day
June 8: National Best Friends Day
June 20: Take Your Cat To Work Day
June 24: Take Your Dog To Work Day

Cat Agility, Make Your Own Course
Too Cute Hamster Pictures
Is A Little Honey Ok To Feed To My Dog?
Walking Your Pet At Night? Check Out These Products

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June 2022 Newsletter