I’ve seen so many questions about choosing the best “first pet” for a child. Lots of families have a “family dog” and “family cat,” but when we’re talking about a pet that your child will be personally responsible for, a guinea pig is my favorite pick.
Continue reading “Why the Guinea Pig Makes a Kick-Ass Pet”
Taking care of a kitten seems easy, right? Litter box, food bowl, water dish, and a few toys, and you’re set, right?
Well, yes–if your only goal is to keep the kitten alive. To raise a well-adjusted kitten, it takes a little bit of planning and making good rules from the beginning. I’m going to use my Master Kitten Raising Guide to teach you how to raise a well-mannered, friendly, and fun cat.
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Most people keeping cats desperately fear the day their cat won’t use the litter box. Thousands of cats find themselves homeless after refusing to use the litterbox and instead urinating or defecating in any number of places. Many cats choose the bed, or the laundry. Others choose the bathtub, or defecate just outside the box itself.
Sometimes their owners don’t even know that they’ve stopped using the box–they just smell an odor and eventually find a mess. Maybe they punish the cat–but the cat has no idea why. The cat had a specific reason for refusing the box, and punishing only means they must try harder to hide their mess.
Most cats stop using the box for one of these major reasons. Most problems resolve quickly if treated quickly.
Continue reading “Seven Reasons Your Cat Won’t Use the Litter Box”
I love writing about puppies. I started writing to help families have great relationships with their pets, and a new puppy is always the beginning of a fantastic relationship. Picking a puppy, the right puppy, gives the relationship the best foundation possible. This guide for picking a puppy walks through the steps to pick the best puppy for your family out of a litter.
Some families choose a rescue puppy, and gamble a bit more than families that choose a breeder puppy. My advice differs depending on where you find your puppy, but should lead your family true.
Continue reading “A Step-by-Step Guide for Picking a Puppy”
Do you think your dog might be bored? Dogs need more than physical stimulation. Regardless of their intelligence, all dogs need mental stimulation to stay active and happy. Most dogs love to use their nose to solve problems, and these great puzzle toys for dogs will help your dog keep his mind sharp.
These toys also work great for dogs that eat too fast or are prone to bloat. They have to work to get the food, so they can’t gulp it all down in one bite.
Continue reading “Five Great Puzzle Toys for Dogs”
Genetic testing isn’t just for breeders. Pet owners–even those with mixed-bred dogs–can learn valuable information with a simple DNA test. While responsible breeders are often early adopters of genetic testing, pet owners should participate in the process as well. Genetic tests tell everyone more about the health of their pets–and knowledge is power.
Continue reading “Why You Should Discover Your Dog’s Genetic Heritage”
Cats scratch furniture, and unfortunately most humans hate this particular trait. Many cats lose their claws as a result of this very natural behavior, when retraining and rearranging the household could prevent almost all furniture destruction.
As with many other behavior issues, getting ahead of the problem is key to solving it. A cat that’s been allowed to scratch the couch for years (because it’s old) will have trouble learning not to scratch the new couch. But cats learn quickly what they may and may not scratch, and the solution to scratching is easy.
Continue reading “How To Stop Your Cat From Scratching Furniture”
Lots of families will dress up their dogs this Halloween. Some of them treat their dogs like their kids, others want the dog to match the kid for maximum candy-getting possibilities. These are the best dog Superhero Halloween costumes out there!
Continue reading “The Best Dog Superhero Halloween Costumes”
Many families choose to get a pet to teach the kids “responsibility.” In the end, the “responsibility” for the pet falls on Mom or Dad, with a bit of resentment on the parents’ part.
Kids need pets for many reasons, not just to teach responsibility. Pets provide huge emotional outlets, improve the health of the family, and might even help your child earn better grades in school. Barring allergies, most kids do better with a well-cared for pet in the house than without.
Continue reading “Why Kids Need Pets”
Congrats! Maybe you’re here because you’ve decided to add the first exotic pets to the family, or maybe you just saw some cute baby gerbils on the Internet and want to learn more. I’m here to outline the top five rodents kept as pets, their differences and similarities, and how to choose the right species for your family.
The top five species of rodents have strongly differing characteristics. Gerbils are energetic, hamsters nocturnal. Mice are friendly, guinea pigs not very bright, and rats are highly intelligent. Each requires a different perspective on pet ownership, but all entertain in their own way.
Continue reading “Comparing Exotic Pets”
Welcome to Halloween Season! I searched high and low for the best Halloween costumes for dogs. These top Star Wars Costumes go with your own theme costume, or stand-alone for the dog that loves watching movies. The best part about these costumes? No DIY–just take them out of the package and put them on your dog.
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You just got home from work, and your dog is acting weird. You’re not sure what’s going on, but he seems sick. He’s cheerful, wags his tail, but just seems off. You probably should call the vet, but it’s after hours and there’s an emergency fee. You’re not sure if this is a dog emergency, or if your dog just ate too many cat box crunchies.
This happens to every pet owner. Something’s off, you don’t know what, and you’re not sure if this is an emergency, an EMERGENCY, or your pet is just being weird for a few minutes. While this article cannot replace solid veterinary advice, I have outlined when I think it absolutely is necessary that you contact a vet. Call your vet any time you think your dog is sick.
Continue reading “Dog Emergency: When You Need the Vet”
After being involved in animals for over twenty years, I recognize that in the United States, we have a huge problem with unneutered pets. The problem isn’t just that they aren’t neutered–it’s that their owners don’t understand the consequences of having an intact dog.
I’m not talking about the pet overpopulation problem. Neutering all male dogs would affect the overpopulation problem, but many other valid reasons exist to neuter.
Most pet owners I’ve talked to about neutering feel that their dog “deserves love” or “should get some” or, if male, unconsciously reach in the general direction of their crotch, thinking about having things cut off. The fact that a product called Neuticles even exist tells us a lot about the human element.
Continue reading “Why Neutering Your Dog Makes Him Happier”
I’ve joined a few Facebook groups for pet owners, and every few days someone asks about the care of newborn pups. Ideally, you should research this before you have a newborn puppy, and before you breed your female. But some people come into it accidentally–either they adopted a dog from someone else who was pregnant, or they didn’t know their female was pregnant.
Many newborn puppies do die. Even the most conscientious breeders lose newborns. Newborn puppies die for a number of reasons: cold, heat, infection, failure to thrive, matricide, suffocation, disease. Many, if not most, newborn deaths are preventable through simple supervision.
I wanted to talk about the basics of neonatal puppy care, not from a veterinarian’s perspective, but an overview of the very basic things you can do at home to keep your puppies alive and safe.
Continue reading “How to Keep a Newborn Puppy Alive”
A few weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to attend a dog show again. I used to show my Labradors in conformation and obedience, and even dabbled in agility and working certificate tests. My son and his father are allergic to dogs, and neither can live with them in the house. It was a heartbreaking necessity to place my pets.
I miss this part of my life, so I went along to hang with the old crowd. The Ann Arbor Kennel Club put on the event, and over a thousand dogs entered the show. The show is held outdoors, under a large tent, with smaller breeds inside. As I was standing under the tent, they handed me a leash to hold, with the warning that “Walker is naughty.”
I stood under this tent, with this “naughty” dog, and began thinking about the huge divide in “naughty” between breeders and pet owners. This “naughty” dog occasionally pulls on his leash or tries to play with other dogs. He was engaged with me and my requests of him, and actively looked for direction.
Wouldn’t you love for your definition of “naughty” to include those behaviors? “Wants my attention.” “Occasionally checks out other dogs.” “Mostly stands around waiting for something to happen.” We’re standing under a tent, with hundreds of other dogs, and can’t hear any barking. No dog fights. Every dog in the place behaves, except one little English Springer puppy that doesn’t want to be brushed.
I was amazed by this realization.
Continue reading “How to Get Your Dog’s Attention”
Today I want to talk about the very best dog breeds for families with kids. It’s pretty easy to decide to get a dog–but a lot harder to pick the perfect breed for your family.
I took several factors into account on this list. Each breed’s temperament will shine in a family setting. Most of these breeds would be thrilled to join someone on a morning jog.
I also looked at trainability. While not every breed on the list tops the charts, all five breeds work for food, praise, or play. Most members of all these breeds easily graduate basic obedience courses.
I also list pros and cons for each breed. While they all make great family pets, each breed’s unique characteristics require consideration.
Ready to see them? Here we go!
Continue reading “Best Dog Breeds for Families with Kids”
Dog crates are often seen as a “necessary evil.” Many pet owners feel squeamish about locking up a beloved companion, especially for hours when the pet is alone. I’m here to assure you that a dog crate is not only helpful, but nearly necessary for helping your dog maintain a positive relationship with the human world.
Continue reading “7 Important Reasons Why Every Dog Needs a Dog Crate”
You just love your dog. He’s smart, funny, and energetic. But you work a 9 to 5, and every day he destroys the house. Garbage everywhere. Scratches at the windows. Pillows de-stuffed. You don’t want to know what he did to your daughter’s stuffed bunny.
Some destructive dogs suffer from separation anxiety, but before assuming your dog suffers from a medical condition, he may just be bored.
Think about it. He sits at home, alone, for 9-10 hours straight. He has a few toys, but they don’t really do anything without a friend. He can’t play tug by himself, or keep-away, or fetch. So, he entertains himself with what’s available.
Implement just a few of our boredom-busting tips, and soon he’ll be too tired to destroy the house.
Continue reading “The Destructive Dog: Combating Boredom”
A few weeks ago, I posted this great article about Baby-Proofing your Dog. Dog safety is hugely important for me, because even though we can’t have dogs due to allergies, everyone else in our social circle has at least one or two.
Dog safety doesn’t just come from the dog, it’s super important to teach your kids how to behave around dogs. Your children will have friends and acquaintances with dogs. They will play in the same parks as people with dogs, and they will meet dogs all the time.
Continue reading “Dog Safety: Dog-Proofing Your Child”