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

Jan 25

We’re so excited about the year to come!  What exactly gets us wagging & barking for joy?  We love bringing pets & their human guardians together via positive training.  We live for those “light bulb” moments where guardians suddenly understand where their pets are coming from & why they do what they do.  And the “ah-ha” moment crossing a dog’s or cat’s face when they finally get what their people have been trying to teach them all along?  It’s priceless.  Essentially, we bridge communication gaps between species to improve relationships.  Along the way, we meet and learn from amazing animals & people every day.

Want to get started on the right paw with your pet this year?  Why wait?  We’d love to hear from you!  We help people have happy, well mannered dogs & cats.  Got a  new puppy?  Or an older dog that needs to learn new tricks?  Is Kitty stressed?  We work with all ages, breeds, and issues via in-home consultations in Sonoma County.

As always, we’ll continue to inform & entertain via this site, our Facebook page, our newsletter, and Rusty’s Dog Blog.  After all, it’s much more fun to learn when you’re laughing.  So dig in & stay in touch.  Woofs & wags to you & your pets!

Related posts:

© 2012 Critter Consulting

Nov 8

We’re taking a brief break between posts.  In the meantime, you can catch up with us on Facebook.  We update our page daily with timely, educational & fun info for pet guardians.  We’d love to see you there!  And, if you need help with your pet’s behavior & training, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  

We do have a purrfect excuse for our paws between posts:

Related posts:

© 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

Aug 16

Our clients ask great questions about dog-dog play:  Is that play, or are they fighting?  How do I know my dog’s having fun?  Should I break it up or let them work it out?  Of course, the best answers are given while observing dogs in action.  But we think these general tips will set you on the path of understanding pooches @ play.

Good play is a lot of give & take, where dogs take turns with toys & chasing/being chased.  If one dog isn’t comfy (retreating, tail tucked, belly up, ears back, yelping) and is feeling bullied because the other dog isn’t letting up, it’s time to step in.  Happily interrupt & redirect the dogs from each other.  Keep calm, with no tension in your voice or body.  Decide if the dogs can resume playing after a short break, or if  their play styles are a mismatch.  We love this video.  Whether your pup is @ a dog park or having a play date, you’ll learn how to recognize happy, healthy play.  Watch:

Dogs usually pace the play by taking breaks along the way.  Notice that one pup might walk away, shake as if drying themselves, drink water or lay down.  This signals the other dog that they are pausing.  In nice play, the other dog will respect the break and relax, too.  Here’s a great example of how intense play could be mistaken as fighting.  But notice that the dogs’ play styles are well matched, and they use breaks to pace the play:

Some dogs don’t pace themselves well and/or they don’t respect another dog’s break request (calming signals). They get overly excited during play.  Often these are young puppies & adolescents with unrefined social skills.  You can help your dogs enjoy longer, calmer play sessions by initiating proactive play breaks.  Teach them that a phrase (like “all done!”) means head to you to sit for treats.  Reward their calm sits by releasing them to play again:  “Go play!”.  Keep it fun so the dogs don’t mind interrupting their play for you. (Of course, @ a dog park with other dogs, you shouldn’t use food. A calm pet or praise will do.)

Speaking of social skills, it’s OK for dogs to fairly & clearly define their personal boundaries with each otherHere’s a lovely example of a tolerant, socially skilled adult dog calming & setting boundaries for a bouncy puppy:

(Much thanks to the folks @ Castor & Pollux for sharing this adorable video of Walter and Charlie the puppy with us!)

Recommended reading – from the best of the pack!

Article:   “Dog Park Etiquette” by Pat Miller

Blog posts:

Video:  Turid Rugaas on Calming Signals  (a must-watch for all dog guardians!)


© 2011 Critter Consulting


Jul 22

What’s better than a swim in the summer heat, right?  Your dog may agree – or he might have an aversion to water.  Perhaps somewhere in between, like this creative canine?

Ideally, prevent your dog’s access to your pool when you can’t supervise,  just as you would your kids.  Teach your dog how to swim and how to get in & out of the pool, even if you don’t want him to be in your pool.  That way, he’s less likely to panic if he falls in, and he’ll know how to get back out if you can’t get to him in time.  Watch:

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We love the products mentioned in video above: Skamper ramp; Safety Turtle pool alarm; and Outward Hound’s swim vest. Wendy Diamond has more details on teaching Pup to swim, via the Today Show. (Does the pool in this video look familiar? It should if you follow Rusty’s Dog Blog! It’s a perfect pool substitute for small and/or water-timid pooches.) Watch:

Got it? No force; go @ Pup’s pace. This isn’t a sink-or-swim lesson, after all.  Show Pup how to get in & out.  Go in with him to help him float. (The Outward Hound vest has a handle on top in case you need to lift or guide your dog.)  Relax & wait until you feel Pup relax.  You’ll know he’s ready for more when he starts to paddle on his own to explore the water.  Word to the wise: If you’re getting in with Pup, wear a t-shirt & board shorts! Until he relaxes, he may grab on to you or paddle frantically. Clothing will protect you from his nails. Have fun with it & stay safe, but don’t go overboard.  Your dog will thank you for respecting his dignity.

Enjoying our summer film fest? We can’t leave Kitty out of the fun. This kitten’s having a blast in the tub…. who knew?!

© 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.)

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Via DiscoveryNetworks

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How do cats do that? Fascinating!

Via DiscoveryNetworks

© 2011 Critter Consulting

Jun 30

Is your pet an escape artist?  No?   Are you sure about that?  Watch these hairy Houdinis in action, and then we’ll hook you up with a few ideas for deterring daring escapes.

We’re inspired by these fence amendment ideas:

A quick word about the holiday weekend: Shelters are crowded with escaped pets brought to them every July 4th weekend.  Don’t underestimate how determined a scared dog or cat can be to escape, often injuring themselves.  Keep pets indoors during the fireworks.  (Know that your pet can hear fireworks & music from neighboring towns.  Here’s the Sonoma County fireworks schedule, for your planning purposes.)  And, our pal Rusty’s got more tips for relaxing pets this weekend in his latest post….

On a lighter note,  Simon’s Cat has a unique look @ what happens “beyond the fence”.  Happy 4th, everyone!

© 2011 Critter Consulting

Jun 14

At the risk of dating myself, remember when “Seinfeld” coined the term “close talker”?  Watch these quick, funny excerpts to see what I mean:

Notice how each character has a different reaction to the “close talker”? Now apply this to your pets: From their points-of-view, we humans are all close- talkers! (Your pet’s tolerance of our “rude” human behavior depends on her temperament, socializing history & social skills.) Before you rule yourself out as a close-talker, consider this: We live in a society that respects eye contact & a firm handshake. We learn to interact with fellow humans this way, so it’s natural for us to interact with animals in the same manner. And then there’s the group of well-meaning people who are the worst of the human close-talkers, from Fido & Fluffy’s perspective: The folks who insist on interacting with your pet, saying, “I just love animals” – or – “animals love me”.  On the other hand, dogs reduce social pressure by avoiding face-on approaches & direct eye contact.  Watch this video:

What’s a pet guardian to do? Protect your pets from well-meaning “close talkers”.  Here are a few general ground rules to follow to properly socialize any dog, or to relax a nervous pup. Keep in mind that many of these guidelines will help shy Kitty, too:

  • Space & time: All interactions between well-meaning people & pets should be initiated by Pup.  Let her relax @ a comfortable distance until she’s ready to approach.  Never insist; never force.  If folks can’t respect that rule, they shouldn’t meet Pup.
  • Don’t play “Pass a pup”:  Small pets who are passed from person to person aren’t necessarily willing or happy participants.  Encourage folks to sit down & wait until Pup approaches them, as above.
  • One @ a time:  Never put Pup in the position of being surrounded by people (especially children), all petting @ once.  It’s overwhelming, and it can make her feel trapped.  Only one person meets her @ a time, following the above rules.  If Pup wants to leave, let her.
  • Leash law:  All the above rules definitely apply to leashed dogs.  Unless a guardian gives you permission to pet and Pup happily approaches you, walk away.  Many dogs feel trapped & defensive on a leash because they aren’t ready to approach people or dogs they encounter.
  • Listen to little dogs:   If a small dog barks or growls @ you, respect that.  Walk away.
  • Never punish a growl:  If a nervous dog is growling, it’s a very helpful warning that can save someone from a bite.  If you teach Pup not to warn by punishing the growl,  she becomes more dangerous.  She’s learned that bad things do happen when she’s nervous, and that she should skip the growl.  She’s likely to bite sooner rather than later.
  • Patience, socialize & trainFearful pets are behaving defensively, not dominantly.  Drop your ego, take a deep breath, and teach your pet she can trust people.  Contact me for help with your fearful pet, sooner rather than later.  Most aggression is fear-based.  I can help you understand where Rover & Fluffy are coming from, and how to help them relax & trust.  This goes a long way toward preventing and/or treating aggression!

Need a great example of a fearful pup turned around via understanding, space & time? Look no further than our fave poodle, Rusty.  The day we adopted him, my hubby, became a “close talker”.  He greeted Rusty a little too enthusiastically.  Rusty felt trapped because he was on the couch, & his new “dad” got on his level, eye -to-eye, to say hello.  Rusty moved away & fear grimaced, showing his teeth.  What would you have done?  My hubby sat on the floor, with his back to Rusty.  Rusty approached, and all was forgiven.  For the next week or so, we let Rusty make all the 1st moves.  It went so well that Rusty raves about his “dad” in his latest post!

© 2011 Critter Consulting

May 28

We welcome the holiday weekend and a wonderful summer.  Need a jump-start on summer smiles?  This video should do the trick!

Related posts:

© 2011 Critter Consulting

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