Blog

Is Your Child's Behavior Dangerous To Pets?

ID-10069537.jpg

My friend Linda recently told me that she has some concerns about how her son is treating their cat.  She said that her son locks the cat in cabinets, and plays too roughly with it.  I told her that most cats will tolerate some roughhousing, and then when enough is enough will fight back.  I suggested that she continue to put a stop to any mean behavior she sees, and keep telling her son that he must always be kind to animals.  I also told her to watch and see how the relationship changes when the cat decides she’s had enough, and her son comes crying with a bite or a scratch.  At that point things can go two ways, her son learns to treat the cat with kindness and respect, or he punishes the cat further, and if the latter happens, she should be very concerned.

It made me wonder though, when should a parent be concerned that their child has crossed the line between being rough with a pet, and being intentionally cruel.  If your dog or cat is ok with roughhousing, or being dressed up like a doll, you don’t need to worry.  You should always discuss how your child may be making your pet feel so that he learns compassion, and learns when to back off and give your pet a break.  Your pet is also very capable of putting a stop to harassment, though in the case of a dog, this could be dangerous.  Most dogs are incredibly tolerant of their human companion’s behavior, but if they feel frightened, their reaction can turn violent.

It is important that you put a stop to cruel behavior immediately.  Children don’t usually grow out of this kind of behavior, and the natural progression is that they move on to human victims.  Always set a good example in how you interact with pets to teach children to be compassionate and responsible pet guardians.

Watch For Signs

Signs that your child needs intervention to correct cruel behavior before it escalates:

If your child won’t release a pet that is struggling to escape or continues to chase it when it is obviously running away in fear.

If your child becomes more and more secretive about his cruel behavior after being told to stop.

Putting the pet in dangerous situations to terrify it, like dangling it out a window or over a balcony, locking it in a washing machine or dryer - even without turning it on, leading it out to the street.

Restraining the pet in any way, like locking the pet in a closet or cabinet to hear it cry in distress.  Tying it up near something that scares it like fire.  Binding it’s tail or paws tightly with rubber bands or string.

If your child appears to enjoy watching a pet in pain or frightened.

Obvious signs like cutting or burning a pet.

Getting Help

If discussing the problem with your child isn’t working, the next step is getting some professional counselling.  Talk to your child’s pediatrician about getting a referral to a counsellor or psychologist.  Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about getting help for your child, it is absolutely imperative that you put a stop to this kind of behavior to prevent it from doing permanent psychological damage to your child.  

 

Danielle Nottingham is a veterinary technician and writer at DogTrainingCollars.com who often writes about bad pet habits, or bad pet-owner habits, and ways to correct them.

ID-100163565.jpg

Your Canine Escapee - Understanding And Preventing

ID-100196249.jpg

If your dog happens to be a runner, he will most likely get very creative when plotting his escape. Dogs that do exhibit the characteristics of a runner will escape by climbing the fence or digging an escape tunnel underneath the fence. Unfortunately, you may be harbouring your own little Houdini of the canine world.  Dogs can escape from their yard in any manner that they possibly can, and for a number of different reasons.  Understanding the cause of those daring doggy-breakouts goes a long way to curbing the behavior and keeping your dog safely within the confines of his own yard.

A well looked after dog does not run away from home because he is unhappy.  Any can feel the need to escape just to satisfy his natural instincts to explore his environment.  Sometimes, the boundaries of the yard and an occasional walk around the local park on a leash aren’t enough to satisfy the urge to investigate the smells and activity that are just beyond his boundaries.

Reasons your dog may try to escape your yard are:

  • Social contact – if your dog has been left alone for a long time, he may go looking for some company.
  • Search for a mate – entire dogs will do whatever it takes to get to a female in season.
  • Bored – a lack of play toys in the yard will encourage your dog to look for toys elsewhere.
  • Energetic – if your dog needs more exercise, he may take himself for a walk.
  • Separation anxiety – dogs with this debilitating condition will escape to search for their owner.

The problem for dogs, when they escape is that they have no concept of the dangers they may face in the wide world.  They have no understanding of the difference between roads and pathways, or the injuries they risk by stepping in front of a moving vehicle.  What does concern them however, are the distractions such as socializing with other dogs; chasing smaller animals, and raiding garbage bins in a quest for leftover food.  These positive rewards only reinforce your dog’s desire to escape, making it difficult to break the habit once it takes hold.  

How to Escape Proof Your Fence

Obviously, ‘plugging the leaks’ goes a long way to stopping the escapes, as does an understanding of the underlying causes listed above. Your fence may need to be reinforced both above and below, and any gates with loose latches will need repair. Move any items that your dog could climb on well away from the fence.

If you are struggling with your dog’s need to wander, there are several things that you can do to reduce the number of escapes, or even prevent them altogether. These include increasing the level of physical and mental stimulation through walks, games and interactive toys, providing clean and comfortable bedding, initiating regular feeding times with a well-balanced diet, obedience training to keep your dog’s mind active, and ensuring that all gates are locked and obvious escape routes blocked. If your dog is not neutered, then this would be a good way to reduce his efforts to woo a lady dog.

The sooner the reason for your dog’s escaping is identified and managed, and the more secure your back yard, the less you’ll have to worry about him. You will have peace of mind when you’re not home, knowing that your canine best friend is safe in your yard and not at risk of coming to harm.

Amanda Davis is a service dog trainer and a freelance writer. Amanda uses her love and talent for writing to share dog training and behavioral tips for dog owners.

How To Keep A Pet-Friendly Home Clean

We all know people who own a couple dogs or a few cats whose house reflects that. Either their house is covered in pet hair, or there is a strong pet odor right when you enter their home.

So, is it possible to share a house with your pet(s) and still be able to maintain a clean and tidy home? Fortunately, if you lay down a few ground rules, it shouldn’t take too much extra work. Although it would be nice to get your pet to follow along with house rules, these rules aren’t for your pet, these rules are for you:

  • Decide what parts of the house you’re willing to share with your pet and be consistent about it.

  • While most of us consider our pets apart of the family, don’t allow your pet to sleep in your bed.

  • Groom your pet regularly to avoid dog or cat hair all over your furniture.

  • Give your pet the attention it needs. Take it out for a walk or to the park. A bored pet is likely to tear into things or chew things up. 

Feeding Your Pets

Try to find a place in your home where you won’t mind if your dog knocks over the water dish or if catnip is spilt on the floor. Consider an outer room like your garage or a utility area. Most utility areas have sinks where you can clean out dishes, you can also store your animal’s food in this room.

Keep food and water dishes in a plastic container or tray to protect your floor from spills. Wash the tray or container every week with hot water and bleach. Avoid feeding your animals on carpet floors.

It’s important to get in the habit of cleaning out your animal’s dishes right after they are done eating. Teach your animal to eat right when you put their food out so you can clean the dish immediately after. If you have to work all day, leave a water bowl out for your pet.

Battling Animal Fur

A shedding dog or cat can be one of the biggest hassles about owning a pet. A good vacuum is a necessity when you have an indoor pet. Use the upholstery tool on your vacuum to get hair off furniture. For chairs, beds, and blankets, use a wet rubber glove to gather pet hair. If anyone in your home has bad allergies, groom your pet outdoors to keep dust particles and hair out of the house. If you have a pet that tends to shed a lot, make sure you change your vents regularly to keep pet hair and particles out of the air. 

Bedding For Your Pet

While flannel bedding may look nice, it accumulates pet hair and can be a pain to clean. A wicker bed is a better choice because you can easily wash down the basket. Whatever bedding you choose for your pet, make sure you clean it once a week. If you don’t clean your pet’s bedding, it can become a home for fleas and mites.

No matter how easy to clean your home is, when you own a pet, it will take a daily and weekly effort to keep your home clean. The key is to prevent as much mess as possible and your home will be both clean and pet-friendly.

Trisha Banks is a blogger for Steamer's Carpet Care in San Antonio, Texas. Trisha just bought a cat and wanted to learn ways to keep her home fresh and clean while still keeping it pet-friendly. 

5 Ways That Pets Can Help With A Child's Development

Somewhere along the line of a child’s development, he must learn about the world outside of his own individual needs and wants. While he can be left alone to find things and explore his surroundings, under adult supervision or care, he needs assistance for the most part. Pet animals can help in this instance if the child cannot have adult help.

More specifically, animals can help in the child’s development in the following aspects.

Physical development.

To strengthen and develop his muscles the right way, a child should exercise them through vigorous movement. Interacting with a frisky pet, the child will be encouraged to experiment with his motor skills, learning along the way. Aside from being fun, the child-animal interactive activities are never monotonous, though they may look routinary. In other words, running with the dog in the park will be more enjoyable than jogging alone around the neighborhood, no matter how pretty the area is.

Emotional development.

In many instances, pets that serve well are first given friendly attention, then lavished with loving affection. There are millions of stories about people considering pets as members of their families, to the point where the animals were endowed with inheritance and similar actions normally given to human relatives.

For a child, an animal may give unconditional loyalty and affection, so that it almost becomes a surrogate sibling when such is absent. Thus the child learns emotional reciprocity, responsibility, kindness and, yes, love and loving. The animal becomes the object as well as giver of affection that becomes a vehicle for emotional growth.

Furthermore, by learning that animals also have feelings, children may also learn to understand the animal better and therefore by extension, himself.

Social development.

A pet can serve as the focus or bridge of relationship between socially less open children, as well as become a social companion for the child in lieu, and even in spite, of the presence of peers. This latter becomes more important in instances where the child must have less social criticism and more acceptance. Animals give singular attention and often affection that the child can be less inhibited in expressing his feelings, resulting in better self-esteem.

Intellectual development.

A child will wonder why his pet acts one way and not another, obeys a command or not, responds to one way of calling and differently to another, so that he starts to associate a result to a previous condition, encouraging rationality. This post hoc, ergo propter hoc logic he can thus apply to other things in life and may serve him well later on.

Therapeutic service.

A child who does not understand human behavior ---often temporarily, as when Mom scolds him—may well turn to an animal to vent his feeling and express sadness. Because a pet is never judgmental, the child experiences total acceptance and no discouragement which lessens his hurt and raises his self-respect. This can be a positive factor whose influence on the child can never be quantified even later.

In short, a child’s humanity is enhanced by his constant association with a friendly, affectionate pet animal. Children who grew up with a pet tend to become better adults in many ways afterwards. 

Featured images:

This article was written by Claire from Easipetcare - nationwide low cost vet centres. When Claire isn't blogging she loves spending time with her 2 kittens while tucking into her favourite book. 

How To Foster An Animal

ID-10099976.jpg

If you love animals but are not certain that you will be able to commit to caring for one for the rest of its life (perhaps for financial reasons) then you might be just the person needed to foster an animal on behalf of animal rescue centres run by the animal charity RSPCA.

Many animals that are rescued or handed into animal rescue centres remain there until a ‘forever’ family adopts them.  Whilst in the shelter each animal is carefully assessed by staff so that they know what sort of home each animal would be best suited to.  They are also fed, groomed and exercised by the specially trained staff (who are often volunteers).   As a charity, the money needed for all of this (plus vets’ bills) is donated by members of the public.

Keeping animals in shelters is expensive though, and the environment in a shelter is not as natural as a home environment.  It can be difficult for some animals to get used to being around other animals in an institutional setting and it may be very difficult for staff – and potential adopters – to get a good idea of how those animals would behave away from the shelter.

Most dogs that arrive at animal shelters having previously lived in home environments.  Those environments might not have been very healthy or very caring and it can take considerable time for dogs to adapt to being properly cared for in a non-threatening, loving home.  They cannot do so prior to adoption if they are kept in a shelter. 

Foster carers are therefore ideal for any animal that needs a home until it can be placed with its adoptive owners.  This might be for a few days, weeks, months … or even years.  Some animals are difficult to place because so few people want to adopt older animals or certain species, breeds or even colours.  Some have very shy or nervous temperaments that adoptive owners may not find appealing.  Some dogs may be waiting for their owners to be prosecuted and found guilty or not guilty of their abuse or neglect before being allowed home or allowed to be adopted.

If you have enough time and energy to care for a dog as a fosterer then please contact your local RSPCA to ask how you can help.  Even if you have children or other pets you may still be able to foster.  If you are an experienced dog owner you may be asked to foster animals that would otherwise find it difficult to be rehomed permanently because of health or behavioural issues which you could help to resolve before the animal were advertised for adoption.   Alternatively you could be asked to foster a dog under the RSPCA’s PetRetreat scheme which exists to help families with pets who are suffering domestic abuse.

Search the RSPCA’s website for fostering vacancies or contact your local branch to see if you could help and make a huge difference to an animal’s life and future.

Featured images:

This is a guest post by Claire Chat a new Londoner, jewellery passionate and animal lover. She blogs about Jewllery, Pets and Travelling in Europe. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).