City Dog Etiquette: 7 Rules To Follow

 


Living in a city is a wonderful thing, and I should know; I lived in New York City for 6 years and I’ve been soaking up sunny Los Angeles for the past 3 years. What do I love about living in a city? So many things, including the diversity, access to art and culture, amazing food, and always finding a new bookstore, coffee shop, or hidden corner to explore.

As a dog owner, I also know what it means to live in the city with a pooch. For one, I don’t have access to a fenced-in backyard, so that means that my dog Wade and I spend a lot of time pounding the pavement. Secondly, we’re surrounded by lots of people — and dogs! On our walks we are always crossing paths with new and familiar faces, and when we’re hanging out at home it’s not uncommon to hear a furry neighbor “greeting” the mailman with a bark.

While I’ve made an effort to become a responsible and courteous urban dog parent, I often see less-than-polite behavior from the people and pets around me. With that in mind I’ve put together a list of city dog etiquette rules that will make living in a metropolis with your pup safer and more pleasant for you, your dog, and your fellow residents.

Rule #1: Keep Your Dog On A Leash

Even if your dog is perfectly content to amble along behind you, you should still use a leash. It will not only keep your pal safe from traffic and prevent them from running off to investigate other dogs, playing children, or spilled trash, in many cities it’s also the law. Keep your leash to six feet in length or less.

Rule #2: Train Your Dog To Walk On A Leash

A dog who is pulling, lunging, or jumping while on a leash can be a danger to themselves, to you, and your neighbors. Train your dog to “heel” by your side so that you can walk safely and comfortably past other walkers and dogs. Other useful commands for walks? “Sit,”“stay,” “leave it,” and “come.”

RELATED STORY: 3 Ways To Be Safer Walking A Dog At Night

Rule #3: Ask Before Letting Your Dog Interact With Other Dogs

It may be tempting to let your dog approach, sniff, and say “hello,” to other dogs, but you should always ask first. The reason for this is that you never know the other dog’s situation; maybe they were recently bitten, and they are feeling a little gun shy around other dogs; maybe they are sick; maybe they are aggressive. For your dog’s safety and the other dog’s safety, always ask the other owner if it’s OK to say “hello.” This rule is true for people, as well (see Rule #6).

Rule #4: Pick Up After Your Dog

No brainer? You’d be surprised. I regularly come across abandoned dog poop on my walks, many times smack-dab in the middle of a sidewalk. This is not only inconsiderate to other walkers and frankly, a bit gross, it also poses a safety hazard to other dogs and people as diseases and parasites are often shed in dog feces. Pick up your dog’s poop, put it in a bag, knot the top, and toss it in a trashcan.

Rule #5: Make Sure Your Dog Is Allowed Where You’re Going

City-dwellers love to take their dogs everywhere — coffee shops, clothing boutiques, even restaurants, where I’ve often seen dogs posted up under tables while their owners dined. While it’s great to socialize your dog and take them out and about in the world, make sure that your dog is allowed where you’re going before you leave the house. Leaving your dog tied to a lamp post puts them at risk for being stolen or getting injured, and you should never leave your dog unattended in a car.

RELATED STORY: 5 Steps To A Safe Drive With Your Dog

Rule #6: Remember That Not Everyone Likes Dogs

If you own a dog, it might be hard to imagine that someone wouldn’t love them as much as you do. But the truth is that some people are afraid of dogs, some people are allergic to dogs, and some people just plain don’t like them. If you’re in a public space with your dog, you should remember this. Don’t allow your dog to say “hello” to strangers without first asking if it’s OK. If you’re in a crowded space, keep your dog by your side; don’t let them jump up, sniff, or otherwise bother the people around you.

Rule #7: Don’t Let Your Dog Bark Excessively

I’m always amazed when I learn that a dog who is barking excessively in a yard is doing so with their owner right inside the house. (FYI: I’ve learned this because I’ve confronted those owners before!) Living in a city means that you are probably living pretty close to your neighbors. A dog who is barking excessively is not only a public nuisance, it may also mean that the dog needs some help or attention. Dogs bark for a number of reasons, including boredom, anxiety, fear, hunger, illness… the list goes on. Train your dog not to bark, and if you ever hear a dog barking excessively, go and check-in on them. If you see that no one is home, don’t hesitate to contact your local animal control; the dog may be in trouble.

Do you live in a city? Do you have any etiquette rules to add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. Check it out at PetPlus.com

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Hi-Tech Gear to Help Search and Rescue Dogs Save Better

 

Search and rescue dogs are becoming an increasingly popular and effective resource in terms of locating survivors after a disaster. However, there are still a number of improvements that could be made. As such, researchers at North Carolina State University have been looking into ways to help them work more efficiently.

Ideally, the entire search and rescue process would be automated through drones and robots, thereby putting the fewest amount of lives at risk. However, because robotics has yet to match the cognition and sensory abilities of dogs, we still rely on our canine companions to help us sniff out lost hikers or people buried during a natural disaster.

RELATED STORY: Help Aide the Rescue Dog Heroes of the Oso Mudslide

But just because we must continue to send our furry friends into the fray, doesn’t mean we can’t make an effort to keep them safe. Giving a search-and-rescue dog the ability to monitor their vitals, collect footage of the rescue, communicate remotely with a handler, and take reading of the immediate area is going to change the way we use dogs during a rescue mission, making them incalculably more useful, and safer to boot.

HOW SCIENCE IS HELPING

Because of the various advantages and hang ups about using search and rescue dogs, the researchers are hard at work developing hi-tech harnesses and vests that could vastly improve a search and rescue dog’s efficacy. Add-ons like radios, microphones, cameras, environmental sensors, and heart-rate monitors are all being tacked on to vests and harnesses in hopes of making our rescue pups safer and more effective in the face of danger.

 

“We have developed techniques and technological platforms to improve the efficiency of search-and-rescue dog training and to augment the current capabilities of search-and-rescue dogs in the field,” said Alper Bozkurt and David Roberts, researchers at North Carolina State University.

When a rescue dog is sent out to scope out a possible gas leak, having a monitor on their harness that can signal when gas is detected or when the dog’s vitals begin to drop could save countless service dogs’ lives.

RELATED STORY: 3 Tips for Pet-Friendly Emergency Preparedness

With a camera and microphone on a rescue dog’s vest, we can now get a dog’s-eye view of a disaster area, as well as communicate with them remotely. This means that we will now be better able to detect when a dog enters a dangerous situation, and give us the ability to call them back from the safety of a remote location. Also, we will be able to give them commands from a safe distance, no longer requiring a handler on the scene.

What do you think about making rescue dogs more technologically advanced? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 

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How To Stop Your Dog From Barking: 5 Tips And Tricks

blog-barking


Barking is a natural means of dog communication. Why and how much a dog barks, however, can depend on a number of factors.

Genetics is one of them. Some dog breeds just bark more than others. Hunting dogs, for example, were bred to bark as a way to signal a target.

Common Reasons Dogs Bark

Another reason dogs bark is to communicate physical and emotional needs. If a dog is hot, cold, thirsty, hungry, sick, or otherwise uncomfortable, they might bark as a way to say, “Hey, how about a little help over here?” In addition, if a dog is bored, anxious, excited, or understimulated, they might bark in order to request attention, or they may develop a barking habit as a way to release energy and frustrations.

And of course, a dog may bark if they are scared, threatened, or trying to warn you of danger, like if an intruder were to come onto your property or if another dog were to threaten them.

Many times, barking is conditional, meaning that it is in response to a situation and stops when the situation changes. Other times, barking can be excessive and become a real problem.

Here are some tips on how to stop your dog from barking. If you need additional help, don’t hesitate to contact a trainer or animal behaviorist.

Tip #1: Cultivate a lifestyle that will minimize barking.

The best way to stop barking is to prevent it. Create a lifestyle and environment for your dog that will reduce their likelihood of becoming anxious, bored, scared, or otherwise needy.

  • Make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise. Dogs who are understimulated or have excess energy are more likely to develop a barking habit.
  • Offer your dog a safe and comfortable place to rest. Leaving your dog in a cramped crate or a cold backyard may induce anxiety and barking.
  • Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water at all times, including when you are out of the house. You should also ensure that you are feeding your dog the correct amount of food; check with your veterinarian.
  • Socialize your dog. A well-socialized dog who is comfortable around people, other animals, and new environments is less likely to feel anxious, threatened, overexcited, or respond to stimulus with a bark.
  • If you need to be out of the house for long hours, leave stimulating toys, turn the radio on, and consider buying some dog-friendly DVDs. You may also want to hire a dog walker or sitter to offer your pup a break from the isolation, which can promote barking.
  • If your dog barks only when you leave the house, teach them that it’s no big deal. You can do this by practicing coming and going for short periods of time and gradually increasing the time that you are gone. You should also avoid making a big deal about coming and going; don’t offer long, emotional goodbyes or hellos. If you do, your dog will assign a great deal of significance to your absence and presence, which can promote separation anxiety when your dog is left alone.

RELATED STORY: OCD In Dogs

Tip #2: Don’t yell at or punish your dog for barking.

A lot of barking is attention-seeking behavior, and if you yell at your dog (or acknowledge them at all, really) it shows them that hey, it worked! And hey, maybe I should do that more often! When your dog barks, try to ignore it. Avert your eyes, walk out of the room — whatever it takes. Then give your dog attention and praise when they stop barking on their own. You should also be careful about using the crate as a way to punish barking; the crate should be a safe and happy place for your dog, not one that they associate with punishment.

Tip #3: Teach the “quiet” command.

To teach your dog “quiet,” approach them when they are calm and not barking, say “quiet,” and then offer a treat. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times a day. Then, when your dog is barking, wait for them to stop, say “quiet,” and then offer a treat. Repeat this whenever your dog barks. After a couple of weeks, you can begin using the “quiet” command to instruct your dog to stop barking. Be patient, though, and put in that early work. If you try to stop barking with the “quiet” command too soon, your dog is likely to get confused and think that you are actually rewarding them for making a ruckus.

RELATED STORY: Products To Improve Your Dog Training

Tip #4: Teach the “speak” command.

Once your dog knows the “quiet” command, you can teach the “speak” command. That’s right; we’re suggesting that you teach your excessively barking dog to bark. Sound crazy? What it actually does is teach your dog when barking is appropriate (which is when the command is given by you). It also gives you another way to reinforce the “quiet” command.

To teach “speak,” wait until your dog is barking, say “speak,” and then give them a treat. Repeat this as often as necessary until your pal learns the command.

Tip #5: Talk to your veterinarian about alternative methods.

If your dog is barking due to severe anxiety, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications. You can also ask your veterinarian about herbal anti-anxiety food drops and citronella collars which release an unpleasant odor when your dog barks.

Do you have a dog who barks excessively? Tell us your story below, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.

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6 Diseases You Can Catch From Your Dog or Cat

 

As cuddly as your pet may be, there are a few sicknesses that can spread from felines or canines to humans and it helps to be careful. Any infection that can spread from an animal to a human is referred to as “zoonotic.” Here are the details, and how to protect both your pet and your family from these diseases.

1. Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis in an infection caused by salmonella bacteria; it can infect cats, dogs, and spread to people. Dogs and cats who are immune-compromised, or who are very old or very young, are most at risk of picking up this gastro-intestinal distressing bug.

Feeding your pet raw or undercooked meat can cause the infection, or they can catch the disease from another sick animal. If your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea, then thorough cleaning, disinfecting, and hand-washing are all important precautions you can take to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

2. Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis, a parasite, is problematic for those with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy. “Don’t clean the litterbox!” many an obstetrician has told pregnant patients who are cat-parents.

Although millions are infected and don’t even know it, Toxoplasmosis is most known to humans due to the increased risk it poses to pregnant women in the form of miscarriage or birth defects to the fetus.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Truth About Toxoplasmosis in Cats

3. Cat Scratch Fever

You might have heard of Cat Scratch Fever due to the popularity of the Ted Nugent song by the same name. Also known as Cat Scratch Disease, Cat Scratch Fever is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the saliva of infected cats. While mostly asymptomatic in cats, swollen lymph nodes are the main symptom of the disease in people.

Cat Scratch Fever is normally mild and resolves on its own, although it’s possible to experience other symptoms such as a slight fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, rash, sore throat, or general malaise. To keep your cat from being infected, make sure you use a good flea preventative, since cats catch the disease from fleas.

 RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Common Skin Issues in Dogs, and When to Worry

4. Roundworm

Roundworms are parasites that can infect a dog or cat’s intestinal tract and cause malnourishment as the parasites consume the pet’s food and block the intestines. Diarrhea is the most common symptom as roundworms latch onto the intestines. When the worms travel through the lungs and throat, dogs and cats can exhibit coughing.

If your pet shows symptoms, take them to the vet to get diagnosed and treated with a deworming medication. If transmitted to humans, most cases of roundworm won’t cause severe symptoms.

RELATED ARTICLE: Parasites and Worms in Dogs and Cats

5. Hookworm

Hookworms are intestinal parasites that feed off of your pet’s blood. Prevention is easy! Keep your pet on a once-monthly preventative medication like Heartgard to prevent hookworm, heartworm, and other parasites. There are some great treatments out there for hookworms if your dog or cat is already infected.

While hookworm in humans is uncommon and generally clears up on its own, it can cause an itchy skin disease called “creeping eruption” (ew!)

RELATED ARTICLE: How Parasite And Worm Treatment Works

6. Ringworm

Scaly or inflamed circular bald patches on your dog or cat can signal ringworm, which is actually a fungal infection. While it’s not technically serious, ringworm is highly contagious and should be treated immediately to avoid infecting other pets or people.

Has your pet ever come down with a yucky infection and then given it to you? Let us know in the comments! Prevent and treat infections by signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.

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How To Pick The Perfect Pet Name


Bringing a pet home for the first time is one of life’s greatest joys. To prepare for your new pal’s arrival, you’ll need to select food, toys, a veterinarian, household supplies, and oh yes, a name! The sooner you begin using your buddy’s new name, the sooner they’ll learn it and start feeling right at home. So how does one come up with a good pet name? Check out these useful tips.

General Tips For Choosing A Pet Name

When it comes time to choose a pet name, consider these basic guidelines:

  • Pick a name that your pet will easily understand. One or two syllable names tend to be the best.
  • Avoid names that sound similar to command words. The name “Bo” might be too close to “No,” for example.
  • Avoid names that sound like the names of other people or animals living in the house. Is your son named Jack? Don’t name your dog Max.
  • Don’t change the name of a shelter pet or pre-owned pet. Trying to a force a new name on your pal may confuse them and make them feel anxious.

RELATED STORY: How To Adopt A Dog Or Cat: Every Question Answered

How To Come Up With A Pet Name

Ready to start brainstorming names? Need a little inspiration? Here are some ideas:

Pull From Pop Culture
Are you a movie buff? TV fanatic? Music enthusiast? Bona fide bookworm? Why not take inspiration from your favorite form of entertainment? If you’re a David Bowie fan, you could name your furball Ziggy. Do you love the Star Wars movies? How about the names Obi, Yoda, or Leia? The possibilities are endless when you look to what you love.

Answer The Call Of Nature
Nature is filled with loads of lovely names for pets. If you have a fluffy Chow Chow dog, you could name them Bear! Or how about a gray kitten named Pigeon? There are plenty of great flower and plant names, too. We like Aster, Quince, Fig, and Tulip.

Explore Other Cultures
Consider your breed’s heritage when choosing a name. Do you have a German Shepherd or German Pinscher? Check out some German human names, such as Wendel or Bamey. Bringing home a Persian cat? Look up Persian names like Gita, Ebi, and Lila.

Pick From The Most Popular
Looking for a name that is a guaranteed winner? These are the top dog and cat names of 2013 according to Vetstreet.com.

Top 5 Female Puppy Names:
1. Bella
2. Daisy
3. Lucy
4. Molly
5. Sadie

Top 5 Male Puppy Names:
1. Max
2. Buddy
3. Charlie
4. Rocky
5. Cooper

RELATED STORY: The Most Popular Dog Breeds

Top 5 Female Kitten Names:
1. Bella
2. Lucy
3. Kitty
4. Luna
5. Chloe

Top 5 Male Kitten Names:
1. Oliver
2. Max
3. Tiger
4. Charlie
5. Simba

RELATED STORY: The Top Cat Breeds In The U.S.

Once you choose a name for your pet, start using it right away, but only when you want to get your pet’s attention. If you use it too often at first — for example, in conversations with your significant other – your pet may simply think it’s just another common word.

When you do use your pet’s name, offer them praise, attention, and treats when they look at you. Eventually, your pet will recognize their name and you can stop rewarding every acknowledgement.

How did you come up with your pet’s name? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.

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How to Make a Great First Impression on a Dog

 

It’s a common tactic to try to decode a pet’s body language, but what if we want to talk back? How does the way we hold and carry ourselves communicate to a dog we don’t know well? Here are a few tips to get your messages across loud and clear, without saying a word.

1. Keep your hands to yourself.

When meeting a dog for the first time, it might feel natural to extend your hand, whether it’s to let the dog sniff it or to offer a friendly pat on the head. However, many dogs, and especially a dog who isn’t familiar with you, would really rather you kept your hands to yourself because extending your hand can be perceived as an invasion of space or an act of aggression.

Instead, let the dog come to you and sniff at their leisure. Dogs love to sniff hello, so just relax and let it happen.

RELATED ARTICLE: Reading Dog Body Language

2. Avert your eyes.

When you look a dog in the eyes, they perceive it as a sign of hostility or an attempt to dominate them. If you’ve ever tried to make eye contact with a dog, you might notice that they look away. They are either being polite or submissive to your gaze. It’s best to give the dog the once over without locking eyes.

3. Pet strategically.

While it’s normal to think dogs don’t mind a pat on the head, it’s not quite right, especially as you’re getting to know a dog. As your hand travels above their eyes and out of sight, many dogs start to feel pretty nervous. Instead, keep your hands in plain view, and pet a pup where they can turn their head and see your hand. Many dogs enjoy a good scratch on the rump.

RELATED ARTICLE: 20 Dog Commands You Need to Know

4. Get on your forearms to play.

If you know a dog’s owner well enough to engage in some physical play with their pup, then ask permission first just to rule out the chance their dog has some issues with aggression or rough behavior. If it’s okay, then get down on your forearms with your tush in the air. This is the signal for “Let’s play!” in the dog world. Get ready to rumble!

How do you communicate with your pet? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 

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Dogs Can Do Math

 

People often think that dogs are not capable of reasoned thinking, but recent studies prove that many dogs are capable of fantastic feats. One of the more miraculous tasks dogs are now undertaking happens to also be taught in schools to children across the globe — math!

While these dogs are not learning how to calculate the hypotenuse of an isosceles triangle, or how to solve for X, they are surprising handlers with their ability to perform some basic arithmetic (albeit VERY basic).

Meet Poco, The Counting Labrador

Poco is a Black Lab with one of these exceptional skills — he can count. And though he can only count to five, for a canine that is still a pretty remarkable feat. Poco shows off his ability through a modified game of fetch.

How it works is his handler holds out up to five identical toys, shows Poco how many toys he has, and tosses them all across the yard. Once the toys are all strewn out, Poco begins the hunt, bringing back one toy at a time. “Poco, fetch!” says Poco’s handler every time he returns with a toy, and Poco heads back out to search for another toy. Once the number of toys is reached, the handler repeats the command “Poco, fetch!” to which Poco replies with a knowing bark, signifying that all the toys have been collected.

So, if the handler tosses out three toys, the fourth time he says “Poco, fetch!” Poco responds by heeling and barking “No more toys, dummy!” proving that Poco can, in fact, count up to five.

Doggies Doing Math

In another study, dogs were given a test similar to one given to infants, used to determine whether babies are capable of grasping basic arithmetic. Pinning itself on the principle of “preferential viewing,” or that we have a tendency to focus longer on something unexpected, in this test, the expected would be 1+1=2, and the unexpected being 1+1=1 or 1+1=3.

The test works like so:

The experimenter shows the dog a treat on the table. He then puts up a screen, blocking the treat from view. Then, he shows the dog a second treat, placing it down beside the first treat, still out of view. Finally, he removes the screen.

The test (or trick, depending on how you look at it) comes into play when the results are revealed. Sometimes, behind the curtain there are the two treats, side by side, just like one would rightfully infer. No surprise there. Other times, just one treat would be there, causing the dog to stare more intently, as if to question, “What happened to the second treat?” Or, in some tests, the curtain will be removed to reveal three treats, causing the dog to focus in the same way, asking, “Where did that extra treat come from?”

The fact that the dogs responded to the test in much the same way as babies shows that they have a capacity for understanding the basic principles for addition. Not exactly groundbreaking, but for a dog, still pretty impressive.

Source: Modern Dog Magazine — Mutts Doing Math: Not So Far Fetched

PetPlus is a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.  

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5 Ways To Cure Your Cat’s Boredom

 


Many people assume that cats are independent creatures who have little need for stimulation. The reality is that cats are social and complex animals who can bore just as easily as dogs, and if left with nothing to zap their energy or exercise their minds, they may become anxious, aggressive, or destructive. Whether you are looking for ways to occupy your cat when you’re away from the house or activities that will reduce attention-seeking behaviors when you are home, check out these five cures for a bored cat.

1. Rotate Stimulating Toys

Has your cat’s fuzzy mouse been collecting dust in the corner for a week? Has their squeaky bird fallen silent under the sofa? The best way to keep your cat engaged with and stimulated by their toys is to switch them out regularly and introduce new toys when you can. In addition, you should save your cat’s favorite toys for times when you really want to keep them occupied; for example, if you have to be out of the house for several hours or need some uninterrupted time at home. Look for toys that will tap into your cat’s desire to hunt, and consider trying a puzzle toy that will require your cat to problem solve in order to catch their “prey.” You can even make your own puzzle toy at home out of a cardboard box — check out our DIY instructable!

RELATED STORY: 14 Essential Products For Every Cat Parent

2. Cat Scratchers and Condos

Cat scratchers and condos are two of the most popular products purchased by cat parents, and for good reason; they satisfy two of a cat’s natural instincts: their desire to scratch, and their desire for privacy and security. Cat scratchers keep your cat from shredding the sofa or drapes by giving them a surface especially designed for nail dragging, and cat condos offer your cat a cozy place to curl up. Try making your own scratchers and condos at home, and if your cat gets bored of those after a while, make new ones! After all, variety is the spice of life.

3. Captivating Critters

Cats love to watch animals, whether it’s other cats, dogs, squirrels, birds, or fish. Give your cat a show that will last for hours by setting up a bird or squirrel feeder outside of their favorite window. An aquarium filled with fish can also fascinate your cat; just make sure to set it up in a safe place where your cat won’t be able to go fishin’ or accidentally tumble in.

RELATED STORY: Crack The Cat Language Barrier: Learn To Understand Your Cat

4. Meow-Worthy Media

Have you ever caught your kitty peeking over your shoulder at the TV? Or maybe your feline’s furry ears perk up when the radio turns on? Just like people and dogs, cats are often amused by television and tunes, and if left alone, having some visual or auditory stimulation can ease their anxiety, too. There are even DVDs on the market made especially for cats that include videos of animals such as rodents, birds, and fish.

5. Wear Them Out With A Walk

A tired cat is less likely to be bored, and one way to wear your cat out is by taking them on a walk. Yes, that’s right; plenty of felines have learned the satisfaction that comes from taking a stroll, and yours can too. All you’ll need is a leash, a cat harness, and an ID tag. It may take a little practice to get your cat used to walking on a leash — and used to the great outdoors if they’ve always been an indoor cat — but with consistency and tasty treats, your cat will eventually hit their stride.

How do you cure your cat’s boredom? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 

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4 Must-Read Twitter Feeds of Hilarious Cats

I’m lucky. My husband works from home, so when I wonder what our cat, Vera, is up to, I can easily find out. The answer is usually that Vera is napping in a sunbeam, although sometimes my husband will catch her staring forlornly at the refrigerator in hopes of wet food, or running maniacally up and down a long hallway in our apartment for no apparent reason.

RELATED STORY: Find the Right Cat for Your Personality

Even with my knowledge of her daily activities, Vera remains somewhat impenetrable, in that way of cats. If she knew how to use Twitter, I’d love to read Vera’s 140-character updates to find out what she’s thinking. Fortunately, I can turn to these four cat tweeters to satisfy my urge to know the deep thoughts of felines:

@sockington: Perhaps the first of the cat tweeters? Sending 140-character bulletins from Waltham, MA.

@angrykittysays: The musings of an opinionated and sometimes grumpy cat.

 

@ChoupettesDiary: The tweets of Karl Lagerfeld’s cat.

 

@HenriLeChatNoir: The musings of an existential cat.

 

 

RELATED STORY: Best Creative Cat Toys

So those are some my favorites! Do you know of any good pet twitter handles? Leave a comment below and let us know! Consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. Check it out at PetPlus.com

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One Woman’s Mission To Help Homeless And Needy Pets

Financial hardship doesn’t only affect people; it affects their pets, too. Lynn Molnar realized this back in October 2011 when she noticed people around her struggling to keep their pets and began hearing stories of abandoned pets.

“I remember being at the dog park and a woman who was a realtor came in with her dog, and she shared a story about going to a house to look at it and finding a Golden Retriever abandoned inside,” Lynn said. “I think this was the clincher for me, because I have a Golden Retriever, and I know how much they love and want to be a part of a family. I couldn’t imagine the anguish that dog went through to be left alone, then my heart turned toward the people — imagine their pain, their fear, their tears.”

Lynn decided to start Thankful Paws. Thankful Paws is a pet food bank located in Bel Air, Maryland that serves financially needy people, with a priority given to veterans, the homeless, and the elderly. Thankful Paws delivers pet food and supplies once a month to homes and a homeless resource center.

“Anyone is eligible if they fall within the Federal Poverty Guidelines,” Lynn said. “But we are small and deliver food personally, and try to keep our client base to the elderly, veterans, and the homeless. We help those we can. The first year we were in full operation, we delivered 12 tons of pet food. Last year that number jumped to 20 tons! The need is great!”

Paw Sign

 


Fulfilling The Needs

When delivering to homes, Lynn and her team take food right up to the door. Because delivery is once a month, they try to offer a month’s worth of food and supplies. When delivering to the homeless resource center, the provided supplies are based on a sign-up sheet where homeless pet owners can list what they need.
“Homeless populations go through leashes and collars at a much faster rate than non-homeless because of the constant wear-and-tear,” Lynn said. “We usually bring a big box of such supplies and let them take whatever they need. I believe in totally respecting a homeless person. Can you imagine living in a tent with your dog — rain, snow, heat? It would be so easy to abandon the dog and go to a shelter, but many take the harder way because of love. We serve them because of love, too.”

In doing this work, Lynn has seen some extraordinary compromises made by financially needy pet parents.

“Last year, an elderly woman shared with me that before we came to deliver food, she stopped taking her medicine because she couldn’t afford the medicine and cat food,” Lynn said. “Now, she is healthy and so is her cat! It may seem like a small thing – cat food – to but some it is like bars of gold!”


Most of the food and supplies that Lynn delivers come from PetValu, a pet food and supply store. Thankful Paws also receives donations from the Maryland Food Bank and individuals. While food donations are great, Lynn says that Thankful Paws is in need of financial donations, too.

“We are growing and need to hire staff,” Lynn said. “So far it has been all volunteer, but the workload is too demanding and we need a warehouse, trucks, and some paid positions. In the first quarter of 2014 we already picked up 7 tons of food!”

The Value of Giving Back

Despite all of the hard work, Lynn says that her job brings her tremendous joy. As a pet parent herself, she is familiar with the unique love that pet parents feel for their pets, as well as the value that a pet can bring to your life. She has a cat named Happy and a Golden Retriever named Hero.

 

“I knew early on that something was special about Hero, and it taught me that universal love — the unconditional love of a dog — is something we all need. People need love and to be accepted. People should do that for one another, but somehow we are forgetting to do so. Dogs represent that love and never judge us and always welcome us. We can learn a lot from dogs!”

Just last week, Lynn put those beliefs into practice when she saw a homeless man standing on a median with his dog. She stopped her car and talked to the man, and found that he’d fallen on hard times. She offered him a bag of dog food and a box of Milk Bones that she had in her car for Hero.

“After I left him and I was waiting for the traffic light to change, one of the man’s homeless friends came over to him and asked about the bag of dog food,” Lynn said. “I couldn’t hear everything, but what I did hear warmed my heart. He said to his friend, ‘I don’t know, this lady came out of nowhere and gave me the bag.’ That’s all I could hear. The light changed and Hero and I went home. I chuckled to myself, ‘this lady came of nowhere…’ I kind of felt like a superhero for a minute.”


We definitely think that Lynn is a superhero, and to thank her for all that she does, we are giving her a free trial of PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.

If you want to support Thankful Paws, head over to the website to make a donation or volunteer: http://www.thankfulpaws.org

 

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