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