Browsing "Pet Care"
Jul 10, 2014 - Pet Care    1 Comment

How Much Goes in to Teaching Our Pets?

In an opinion piece a few days ago, one of our favorite people, Ken Ramirez,* had some strong words for the importance of training pets:

“Saying you do not have time for teaching, is like saying you do not have time to feed an animal. One part of the cornerstone for humane and ethical care for animals falters if you do not include teaching.” 

Reading into Ramirez’s quote, one could infer that a person is starving their pet by not training them. Does this sound severe to you? Perhaps, but when it comes to a pet’s mental and emotional well-being, by denying them knowledge and tools they can use to function properly with their human owners, it inevitably lowers their quality of life and weakens their bond with us. Of course a pet cannot live without air, food, water, and shelter, while they may survive to old age without any training, but who wants their pets to simply survive?

An oddly familiar triangle.

 

Take failure to housebreak as one of the most basic of basic examples: it creates more work and health hazards in the home, while fostering resentment from the owner (even though housebreaking is their responsibility), and possible confusion and anxiety from the dog who senses the owner’s frustration.

Would quality of life be higher and the human-animal bond stronger if a routine were in place, and the pet understood the very simple concept of where not to go? Of course it would, and this is but one of the lowest benchmarks in a pet’s training: just consider how many more aspects of our lives are improved by training, by teaching our pets how to properly navigate and cooperate in the homes we share with them?

There are countless news pieces out there telling  us the billions of dollars Americans spend on their pets’ food, toys, beds, even spas and masseuses, and it is great that people care so much! What is harder to track is how much pet owners invest in training. If you are reading this, you are probably an “animal person,” understand its importance, and consider it a high priority — but for pet owners as a whole, what do you think the average investment in time, effort, and dollars is?

No, this is not a trick question.


 

* NAIA Conference attendees may remember him from his informative and spirited presentation in Denver a few years ago.

Jul 2, 2014 - Pet Care    No Comments

Hot, hot, hot!

It’s already been a hot week, and in many U.S. cities the temperature is expected to go over 90 degrees Fahrenheit today. How are your pets holding up?

Are they staying hydrated? Do they have a safe, shady place to cool down? What about limiting exertion and keeping paws off of hot pavement (and for heaven’s sake, no “quick” trips to the store with the dog left in the car)? Are you staving off boredom with games and training/mental exercises for your pets?

When activity has to be limited due to heat, it can be an opportunity to engage your pet's mind with basic obedience commands, such as "sit," or "stay." Looks like she has the "stay" part down already.

Oh, so you got it covered? OK great… but where’s your habitat pool?*

There, now that should do the trick. Looks like the elephants at the zoo have the right idea.

 


* special note for science and progress enthusiasts: while these shots are cute, they pale in comparison to what is currently being built. Come back in 2015 for a much more impressive pool — state of the art, 50 feet wide, 10 deep, filtrating 160,000 gallons of water several times a day, that all 8 of the zoo’s elephants can enter at the same time!

Jun 19, 2014 - Pet Care    No Comments

Spaying, Neutering, and New Paradigms

Everybody knows that responsible pet owners spay or neuter their animals.

Everybody knows that responsible pet owners do their best to ensure their pets live long, healthy lives.

The above statements are part of a paradigm we have been following for decades: in many parts of the country, you almost never see an intact animal unless somebody is specifically planning to breed their pet.  And pet owners strive to ensure their companions’ long, healthy lives, each year spending more and more time and money on medical treatment, new food options, toys, even psychiatric prescriptions.

So what happens as more and more new information is uncovered that says spaying and neutering animals may not be the best way to ensure the longest and healthiest life possible? What are responsible pet owners to do when this cognitive dissonance has been foisted upon them?

Joint disease, cancer, and behavioral issues? Ovaries might mean a longer life for my pet? This does not jibe!

This is an issue that only pops up around the edges of pet ownership right now: you generally only hear about it from people with an interest in veterinary medicine, the “granola” crowd, or trainers and agility enthusiasts with an interest in structural health. But it is not going away,* and is an issue that will have to be addressed and reconciled by casual pet owners eventually.

Finding the best way to transition from the paradigm of “Everybody knows that responsible pet owners spay or neuter their animals” to “Everybody knows that responsible owners manage their pets to ensure that they do not create unwanted litters” is going to be an important task in the years ahead.

Running Boston Terrier

No paradigms here. Just a good romp in the field!

 

* in fact, “Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs” which was published in 2007 is one of the most visited pages on our website, and continues to grow in popularity.

Jul 30, 2012 - Pet Care, Shelter & Rescue    3 Comments

The Trendiest Pet?

A recent  Arizona Republic opinion piece suggests that we should view rescued pets as the new “high-end option,” that:

Taking one home gives you bragging rights in addition to a friend for life.

And it’s trendy.

It’s amazing how fast trends change nowadays. A few short years ago, everyone had to get a doodle mix so they could be just as unique as the rest of their Generation Y friends. Then along came the dog-as-purse-accessory. Remember that? But we’re so over it — the next big push for trendiness is, apparently, rescue pets.

Trendy Dog, circa 2009: in return for pampering, Gazoo provides valuable mascara warming services.

It should go without saying that getting a pet because it is the “cool thing to do” is a pretty awful idea. Whether doodle, purse dog, that purebred you just saw in a movie, or even a rescue pet, becoming a pet owner at the urging of an emotional twinge or desire for status decreases the chance of a positive outcome for all parties. Let’s say it again together for good measure: bad idea.

A realistic assessment of your ability to properly care for a pet over a lifetime and the pet’s suitability to your lifestyle should be the first, and most important considerations. If you’re seeking out a furry (or scaled or feathered) friend for life because you want something to brag about, something to win you points with your friends — sorry, but you’re doing it wrong.

If there absolutely must be a “trendiest pet” to brag about, why can’t it be that joyous companion — friend, clown, jogging partner, bacon-beggar, protector — who is chosen with careful research and foresight, who is properly and lovingly cared for his entire life? Now that kind of lifelong commitment and bond is something to be proud of.