Fearful or Defensive Aggression in Cats

Is your cat fearful when it feels threatened by a new person in their environment?  A good way to know if this is the case is by body posture – crouching, flattening of the ears, hissing, spitting or hair standing up on backbone.  Most likely this cat will not attack unless approached.  Here are some tips to help your fearful kitty get used to a new Pet Sitter.

When your Pet Care Providers arrive for the Meet and Greet let them know that you have a very fearful cat.  They will know to avoid interacting with your cat right away.  This may take several visits, but it can be accomplished during the course of care of your pet. Your Pet Sitter will not approach your cat or attempt to pick it up to comfort it, but allow your pet to approach in it’s own time. [Read more…]

5 Dog Training Do’s and Don’t’s

Let’s say you just came home with your bundle of joy from the local animal shelter and they immediately take their first steps in your apartment to lift a leg to your couch.  Maybe you stare in horror as the golden baptism takes place, maybe you whip out your phone for a First Picture, but the result is the same: you’ve been initiated into the world of dog training.  Congratulations!  If you’ve owned pets before you may know where to look for resources, or maybe this is your first foray and you are at a loss.  Either way, we are here to give you a few guidelines before starting the training adventure.   [Read more…]

How to Talk to Dogs, and How Much They Understand

The most exciting part of bringing your fluffy new best friend home is building a relationship with them, and the most important part of any relationship is communication.  We all have that one friend who will train their dog with long conversations about what is good and bad behavior.  Sometimes it is even funny listening to their well-reasoned arguments.  These friends (and if you are brave to admit it, sometimes this is you) are mortified to turn around and finding Fido eating another pair of slippers five minutes later.  Dogs speak another language, and we’re here to help you build a relationship in their language as well as yours.  This will require a few steps: first; finding out how they are biologically best suited to understanding us, and second; how much do our dogs understand about our actions and theirs?

Dogs and humans have been working together instead of against each other for an estimated 32,000 years!  This means, in many cases, our ways of naturally expressing ourselves will mirror our dogs.  This includes facial expression, tone, words, and muscle movement.  For instance, studies have proven that our dogs have more facial expressions when we are looking at them than at any other time.  Dogs have even been proven to both recognize your face and to have different reactions to your facial expressions.  Additionally, dogs listen to commands better when given by owners as opposed to strangers.  Contrary to popular belief, dogs can tell the difference between both tone and words if the phrase is both simple and commonly used with them.  In other words, if you are laughing as you scold your puppy for tearing up the newspaper, they will pay less attention than a stern admonishment.

All of this information means that our dogs are more likely to receive training from people they are most familiar with and will respond to signals you may not be aware of.  If we are upset, typically we will show this on our face, which our dogs can pick up on.  If we tell our dog how good they are with a sharp and unusually deep voice, they will be confused.  Most importantly, our dog can understand short phrases when used often with them, but cannot understand compound sentences or complex ideas (like guilt and persuasion).  A long explanation of how you will feed your dog later will not get them to stop begging, a stern “No.  Lay down.” will be more effective.  To communicate with your pet the best way so they understand, make sure they can both see your face and use short phrases they are used to (“Good Dog!”, “Bad Dog”, “Let’s Go!”) in a tone of voice that reflects the phrase.  
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