Mar 6

Ruth & RustyWow, I can’t believe that it’s been 20 years since I jumped into the world of pet training.
I’ve been lucky to enjoy the last 15 of those years as a self-employed pet trainer/behaviorist.  I’ve met countless amazing dogs, cats & people along the way.  The true blessing is that they’ve all (humans & animals, alike) been my teachers & inspirations.  But, it’s time for a change.  I’m taking a break from training to follow my heart in a different direction:  writing for my new site, The Soulful Pet.

The Soulful Pet is a creative outlet where I can explore & celebrate the bonds we share with our pets.
Pet guardians know that a life well-lived with animals is a unique one.  Pets are family members.  We learn from them, share with them, care for them, & cry for them.  Of course, we hope that their lives are enriched thru these bonds, as well.

As a writer, trainer/behaviorist, & pet guardian/advocate, I am excited about the endless possibilities of The Soulful Pet.
I hope you’ll join me to create a community where we can share what we love about life with animals, on both the site & the FB page.  I’ll cover all aspects of this sweet lifestyle:  Foodie topics (recalls, recipes, healthy ingredients); product recommendations; social issues & commentary; pup culture; recommended reading (blogs & books); insights & inspirations; entertainment; and much more.  I also hope to spotlight special people who do great work with animals, as well as animals in need.  I’ll invite guest bloggers to tell their stories about how their lives have been touched by animals.

I did consider that there are countless blogs about people & pets.
But that’s a good thing.  The more, the merrier, I say.  It’s a group swim, and I’m jumping in to add my voice to the convo.  What’s changed?  I won’t be writing about the step-by-steps &  how-tos anymore.  They’re important, but talented others, whose works I’ll highlight, quite ably handle those.  Instead, I’ll focus on helping folks understand their pets better by relating to them on a more equal level:  We all share the same world & similar experiences.  If it affects you, it affects your pet – and vice versa.  If you see your pet thru your own experiences, you’re more empathetic.  (I’m keenly aware that we are different species.  Pets are not people, and I honor & cherish those differences.)  Empathy creates understanding, compassion & patience.  In turn, an enlightened human is a better teacher, companion & guardian for a pet.  If an enlightened human pays very close attention, she’ll learn about herself thru her pets.  It flows both ways, folks.

What else makes my voice worth adding to the convo?
In the last year,  I’ve learned that I need to listen to my heart more.  In doing that, I realized that I was ready for something new.  My journey will inform my writing.  In a way, The Soulful Pet is an integration of my spirit & my work that I’m sharing with you.  It will be different:  personal, honest & opinionated, non-PC, quirky-funny, philosophical, possibly political, random & heartfelt.   Dare I say, “smartly soulful”?

The Soulful Pet is an opportunity for all of us to thank & celebrate the animals in our lives.
Let’s collectively spread the word that understanding, compassion and a positive training approach enrich & save lives.  Along the way, we’ll laugh, cry & learn together, from each other.  I’m hoping for many moments where we find ourselves saying, “Huh, I never thought about it that way before.”  Or, “I can’t wait to try that!”   Hmmm……  Does that make me your critter-life coach?  Or you mine?  Or are our pets ultimately our best life guides?  So much to explore!


PS – My little muse, Rusty, will be hanging out with me on The Soulful Pet.  He’s relieved of his duties @ Rusty’s Dog Blog for now.  I’m thrilled to have him as my teacher & friend.  Join us there, won’t you?  Woofs & hugs from us to you!

© 2013 Critter Consulting

Jun 12

We love Kongs.  But we have a Kong conundrum:  They are beloved, classic toys with a million and one uses.  Yet, they are THE toys that our clients complain about the most.  We know that’s partially because Kongs are so popular that nearly every dog guardian has one.  But the main complaint is, “My dog won’t play with it.”  So, we’re writing this post to help you & your dogs love your Kongs again!

Very young puppies will play with almost anything.  They especially love Kongs because they bounce & roll unpredictably.  But as Pup grows, she might ignore any toy that remains stationary, read as boring.  Think about it:  Why do dogs love tennis balls?  Because they interact with you via the ball.  If you put the Kong on the floor & never touch it again, your dog won’t either.  Try turning your Kong into a more interactive toy:  Play fetch with it!

If Pup isn’t impressed by a game of Kong fetch, don’t despair.  Pick the Kong up & put it away.  This recreates it’s novelty value so that the next time you bring it out, you’ll peak Pup’s interest.  A word of warning, though:  A naked Kong that’s been ignored by a dog, even as a fetch toy, is likely to be ignored again.  So don’t reintroduce pup to her Kong until you’ve dressed it up a bit.  How?  Stuff it!

There are endless ways to stuff a Kong and countless benefits from doing it.  Let’s start with the benefits.  Dogs who forage for food from Kongs eat slower, which is healthier for them.  Feeding Pup meals or nutritional snacks from multiple Kongs improves her behavior & builds her confidence, too.  Give Pup her fave food in a Kong before you leave her alone or before/during thunderstorms or fireworks, for example.  Occupy Pup with a Kong when you have guests, on rainy days, or in the evening when you want to unwind.  Use food-filled Kongs to help Pup like her crate or to prevent destructive chewing.  You get the idea.

We’re often asked:  “But isn’t it cruel & frustrating for my dog?”  Not if you present it as a toy with goodies inside, cheering Pup on as she works to empty it.  Dogs are natural foragers & problem solvers.  If given a fun task, involving her nose,  Pup’s confidence can blossom.  But set her up to succeed & enjoy it.  Only gradually increase the Kong’s degree of difficulty as Pup masters the previous, easier-to-empty stuffing style.  Minimize frustration to maximize persistence!

We found a few videos that nicely illustrate the art of Kong stuffing, keeping Pup’s level of expertise in mind.

For the beginner, hesitant or easily distracted dog:

For problem-solving, persistent Pups who’ve mastered simple Kong stuffings:

(Much thanks to eileenanddogs for the above videos!)

One more video that we love.  Rick Woodford, aka “The Dog Food Dude”, focuses on a healthy homemade, low-fat stuffing that’s better for Pup than gobs of peanut butter & cheese.  Check out his quick, easy recipe.  (We also like Rick’s recipe book, “Feed Your Best Friend Better”.)  Bonus tip:  Did you know that Kongs are dishwasher safe?  Awesome!

Related posts & pages:

For summer, puppy adopters & Dad’s Day!

Are you catching us between posts?  Visit us on our Facebook page.

We update it daily with all the latest & best in recalls & other pet-related news; behavior/training tips; & entertainment.  Join us there to laugh & learn.  Stop by & share how you & your pets are enjoying the sun & celebrating Dad’s Day.  We’d love to see your ideas, pictures & videos.  Keep cool!

© 2012 Critter Consulting

Mar 6

Catnip’s wonderful effects are often undervalued and overlooked.

Our clients are frequently surprised when we recommend catnip as part of a plan to resolve their feline behavior problems.  If used appropriately, catnip can help Kitty deal with emotional states that are at the root of unwanted behaviors.  Perhaps you & your cat can benefit from the effects of catnip, too.

Is your cat crazy for catnip?  Find out how to make the most of it in our article.  If you’ve got spring fever & a green thumb, start some catnip in your garden.  Your cats will love you for it!

We’re still laughing @ this highly anthropomorphized video.  Enjoy!

How about a touch of the Irish for Kitty?  We love this DIY clover catnip toy.  Suggestions: Make more than one; follow the instructions in our article for keeping catnip toys fresh; and …. block the space under your fridge!

Are you catching us between posts? Visit us on our Facebook page.

We update it daily with all the latest & best in pet-related news; behavior/training tips; & entertainment.  Join us there to laugh & learn.  Stop by & share how you’re welcoming spring with your pets.  We’d love to see your ideas, pictures & videos.  Let’s celebrate together!

© 2012 Critter Consulting

Jan 30

True confessions time ….  How are those pesky resolutions really going for you?

Now’s the time of year when our good intentions start to fall by the wayside.

Allow us to re-inspire you with this post.   Instead of thinking about your goals as resolutions, consider them to be “lifestyle goals”.  We quit resolutions if we haven’t reached them by January 31.  Don’t give up!  Instead, gradually incorporate your goals into your life so they’re doable & fun.  Ask others to join you to hold you accountable.  For example, if one of your goals was to get moving, let your pet be your personal trainer.  One look @ that adorable face will remind you to get up & walk, run or play.  Just get going, and you’ll be rewarded with personal satisfaction, as well as all the wags & purrs you can stand!

A few fave articles, posts & pages to get you started (again) on the right paw:

  • “Let’s Play!” – Feeling stressed?  Overwhelmed?  Got the blues?  If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then your cat probably can, too.  We have the solution for both of you:  Dust off those cat toys & get busy playing!  (Bonus:  A tired Kitty is less stressed & better behaved.)
  • “7 Resolutions your pet can help you reach”
  • “New year?  New training goals!” – Combine exercise & training to improve mind & body.  We can help you improve Pup’s leash manners & training to get you both going!
  • “A new kind of resolution” – Don’t have a dog?  Why not volunteer with your local shelter or rescue as a dog walker?  Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your mutt match!  (Plus, we list lots of other ways you can feel good while making a difference.)
  • Our toy recommendations – for your dog and your cat.
  • “I workout!” – Our poodle pal, Rusty’s post is loaded with inspiration!

Most importantly, have fun!

And do it with a sense of humor!

© 2012 Critter Consulting

Nov 22

We’re looking forward to spending the holidays with close friends, family & lots of great food!
We’re so grateful for all the wonderful people & animals in our lives.  Our clients are amazing in their dedication to & love for their furry family members.  It’s such a pleasure to do what we do!

Speaking of great food…..  Our clients often ask what they should be feeding their pets.
Our answer is simply:  Feed your pets the best food that you can because they’ll live longer, healthier & happier lives.  What constitutes a high quality diet?  Choose a grain-free, moisture-rich diet packed with protein that your pet’s body can use without metabolic stress.  Watch as one of our fave veterinarian bloggers, Karen Becker, describes your non-kibble options.  Keep in mind that the best diet is one that fits these criteria; is doable for you; & helps your pet thrive, as an individual with unique dietary needs!

Foodie goodness aside, what else are we thankful for this holiday season?

We owe a huge “thank you!” to everyone who selfishly helps animals on a daily basis.  Whether you work or volunteer @ a shelter/rescue; work @ a veterinary hospital; or have adopted/fostered strays or orphaned animals – – – – You make a huge difference!  Touching human & animal lives truly captures the holiday spirit.

Thank you for all you do!

Wishing you wonderful holidays & a Happy New Year!

Related posts & pages:

© 2011 Critter Consulting

Oct 26

We’re huge fans of Halloween. But good, spooky fun shouldn’t come at the expense of your pets’ happiness & safety. Check these sources for tips on a pet-friendly Halloween:

  • A Purr-fect Howl-oween – Our post is packed with great pet tips for before & during Halloween, including DIY treats, toys & costumes!
  • ASPCA’s safety guidelines for autumn and Halloween

Now, let’s enjoy some flicks that are more silly than scary!  First up is last year’s classic.  See what happens when Splash & Kiko take Halloween matters into their own paws!

Not to be left out, these kitties put the fun in Halloween!  While we don’t recommend putting Fluffy in a costume, Jumbo Pillow is so happy munching on boiled chicken breast & plain canned pumpkin that he doesn’t mind a bit!

And, finally, Jarrod demos how to safely trick or treat …… in feline style!

More fun links:

  • Our intrepid poodle, Rusty, monkeys around this Halloween.  Watch!
  • Our Facebook page is the place to be this fall!  Our Halloween film fest continues there, with lots of laughs.  And, as always, our page is packed with timely, helpful info for pet guardians.  Join us!


© 2011 Critter Consulting

Jul 22

As the summer sizzles, we wonder:  Exactly what happens when your pets drink water?  Watch!  (Keep yourself and your pets (dogs and cats) well hydrated in the summer heat.)

Via edyong 209

Via DiscoveryNetworks

Via whiskasnetwork

Via cbaumann

How do cats do that? Fascinating!

Via DiscoveryNetworks

© 2011 Critter Consulting

Apr 12

We love spring.  Unfortunately, we find the call of sunshine, flowers & green grass hard to ignore.  What better time to get out, play & explore with your pets?  But it’s also a busy time for training: puppy & kitten season!  And, as pets & their people heed spring’s call, they’re reminded that a little training would be helpful right about now.  So we’ll let this post reflect our spring conundrum:  To go play or train today?  Why not both?!

  • Contact us for early puppy & kitten training.  We help folks prevent unwanted behaviors, change bad habits & teach new skills to their pets of any age!
  • Want to catch up on all-things-pet related quickly? Find us on Facebook for the latest in pet news; diet & health info; product recommendations; recalls; and training/behavior tips.  We curate our page from the best experts (us included!), so it’s a reliable, timely single-source for you.
  • How are you & your pets celebrating spring? Visit our Facebook page and tell us.  Share your ideas, pictures & videos.  Let’s celebrate together!
  • Be safe as you play.  Spring’s the season for cautions about bees, snakes, fleas/ticks, and Easter risks for pets.

Whew – Can we play now? Rusty’s off & running with a play date & a new toy!  Need more inspiration?  These videos perfectly capture the season’s vibe.  (If you didn’t have spring fever before you watch them, you will after.  You’re welcome!)

Happy Spring!
Related posts:

© 2011 Critter Consulting

Mar 5

What’s new & fresh for spring?  We’re on Facebook! We hesitated until Facebook gave pages new autonomy, and now we’re all over it.  Why?  For the same reasons we hopped on Twitter.  It’s a fun way for us to inform, entertain & stay in touch with you.  We post several times a day; we promise to keep it current & interesting.  So please stop by & follow us.  We’d love to hear from you, too.  (We’re softies for adorable pet pics!)

Not on Facebook or Twitter?  Sign up for our e-Newsletter, and we’ll deliver all the latest pet news to your inbox.  Our newsletter is packed with seasonal tips, recalls, diet info, belly laughs – and much more!

What else is special about spring?  It’s puppy & kitten season, of course! Did you know that your pet starts learning from you the instant you bring him/her home?  Be sure you consciously teach little ones what you really want them to know.  We’re happy to help you start on the right paw via early puppy & kitten training!

How’s Rusty, our playful poodle, celebrating Spring? With toys, of course!  Watch him showoff a new game, and a new toy.

We caught Maru, our fave feline international video star, sporting a new spring style.  Ready for the catwalk, Maru?

Happy Spring!
Related posts:

© 2011 Critter Consulting

Sep 15

OK – We admit we dragged our feet about exploring Twitter. (Why on Earth would we want to waste more time online?)  But, we kept an open mind and dove in.  Now that we’ve seen the light and joined the Twitter-sphere, we’d like to share our experience with you.  (If you’re not on Twitter, bear with us & read on, because you don’t have to join Twitter to benefit!)

Our goal with this website is to provide a fresh, unbiased, informative & entertaining resource for our clients, as well as ourselves. Our new site, Rusty’s Dog Blog, is more on the fun side, with small lessons sprinkled into each of his posts.  Our e-Newsletter lets you relax & receive info from our sites automatically.  It’s also a way for us to bring you breaking pet news, like recalls, between posts.  In all of our publications, you can breeze thru & just watch a fun video – or – dig deeper to learn about behavior, health, diet, products, etc.  Personalize your experience!

How does Twitter fit in? We weren’t sure until we found a widget for our homepage (& Rusty’s) that shows our most recent tweets!  (Funny, we can write “Tweet”, but still feel incredibly awkward saying it out loud.)  So you don’t have to be on Twitter to get the best of the daily updates on what’s happening in all-things-cats-and-dogs.  Just check our site every now & then!  Still not sure?  Don’t blame you.  We’re extremely picky about what we post.  Here are a few of our recent “tweets” (still wincing):

Interesting, right?  Of course, you’re welcome to follow us on Twitter if you like, as well as Rusty. (By the way – Rusty’s becoming quite the melon connoisseur.  Watch him in action!)  Contact us anytime for help with your pets.  We’d love to hear from you!

© 2010 Critter Consulting

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