Do you really want a dog?

There are many reasons why people decide to get a dog (or any other pet). It is important to think it through before making a decision. Although this article focuses on dogs, it applies to any type of pet.

Consider the following:

  1. Do I have the time to care for a dog? Training, housebreaking, exercise, grooming and daily interaction.
  • Can I afford the cost of the dog throughout its lifetime? Costs include purchasing or adopting the dog, food, veterinary bills, grooming, spay/neuter, boarding, possibly fencing and space for the dog.
  • Do I have time for the extra housework a dog will cause? Some breeds shed a great deal, muddy paws, accidents.
  • Is it OK to have a dog where I live and will live in the future? Does my job require frequent moves, if I rent, am I allowed to have a dog, do I travel a lot, what about vacations?
  • Are any family members willing to help care for the dog? Are there family members who would be hindered by a dog running around the house?
  • Am I willing to make the commitment to care for the dog for its lifetime? Nothing is worse than abandoning a family pet, isolating the dog or neglecting its needs. Dogs are social animals and suffer mentally the same as a person would if they are neglected.
  • Be sure you understand the type or breed of dog that you want. Not all dogs will fit into your lifestyle or home. Know what training requirements, grooming, exercise, and medical issues that are involved with that type of dog.

If you decide to add a dog to your home, it is important to be educated about where to get the dog.

  1. Animal shelters or rescue groups

These are often the first place a person will look for a dog. Keep in mind that neither of these agencies may know the history of the dog(s) that they have for adoption. A dog that is housed in a shelter or rescue group will not behave the same as when it is adopted. It takes about six months for a dog to adjust to a new home. The first six months is the “honeymoon” period and the dog’s behavior may change after six months. Also keep in mind that some people do not tell the truth about why they have given the dog up for adoption. They believe that someone else will be able to fix the dog’s behavior issues. That being said, it is possible to get an excellent pet from these agencies.

  • Friends, neighbors, newspaper ads, pet shops or the internet

These are the riskiest places to get a dog. A good, quality breeder will not allow their puppies to be sold through these venues. Most breeders have waiting lists for puppies. The above-mentioned sources are often backyard breeders or commercial breeders who have little or no knowledge about breeding quality dogs. Pet shops and newspaper/internet ads often get their dogs from puppy mills where the dogs are bred at every heat, forced to live in horrible conditions, receive no socialization or handling by people, are not tested for genetic diseases, are malnourished, are not true to the breed and are often not purebred.

That means the dog may not behave or look like it is supposed to. The latest trend are designer dogs which are cross-bred dogs. These do not adhere to any standard and there is no proof other than a DNA test to ensure that they are the mix advertised.

Some of these sources will provide AKC or other types of “papers” with the dog but papers are often forged or misrepresent the dog they are issued with. No registry organization guarantees that the dog is a quality dog or even that it is pure. Often pet shops purchase their puppies from a broker who is a middleman. The price is inflated and the poor-quality puppy may cost more than a well-bred dog from a reputable breeder. The other disadvantage of getting a dog from these sources is that the seller is in the business of making a profit, therefore they will sell a puppy to anyone without discussing the characteristics of the breed or try to match the buyer with the right type of dog.

What about papers?

         Many people think that if the dog is registered that the papers ensure that the dog is top quality. The reality is that few dogs bred by quality breeders are show quality. Some breeders only produce working lines but even then, there is no guarantee that the dog will perform as expected. Some people can falsely report the number of puppies in a litter and then give an unrelated puppy registration papers. Unfortunately, there are registries that specialize in registering puppy mill dogs and dogs that did not have papers to begin with.

These registries help breeders that cannot meet the national registry requirements or have been banned from registering dogs because they are puppy mills. Papers on a dog are only as good as the information reported to the registering body, the registering body does not check the breeder or dogs.

Puppy Mills

         Some people do not understand that puppy mills exist throughout the world. All puppy mills operate under the same basic conditions.

  1. Dogs are bred indiscriminately without regard to health, breed characteristics, temperament, and physical type for the breed. Often the puppies are not pure. Many of these dogs are inbred for many generations causing severe health issues.
  • After a lifetime be being bred every six months in horrible conditions, such as overcrowding, poor shelter, living in their own waste, lack of good food, water and veterinary care, these dogs are killed when they cannot produce puppies.
  • Many of the puppies are shipped through a broker and suffer the stress of a long trip, often in the back of a hot or freezing truck/van, and suffer physical and mental health issues as a result.

Getting a purebred puppy

         Be sure to research the breed or type of dog that you want. Understand the physical aspects of the breed, (for example some breeds drool a lot), the health issues, exercise requirements, training requirements, and grooming needs.

         Once you have narrowed down the type of dog you want, find a good quality reputable breeder. Nationally recognized registries are a good place to start. Some breeds such as the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie have their own internationally recognized registries. Each country has its nationally recognized registry such as the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club, and so on. Some states have a Federation of Dog Clubs which is another excellent source of information. (If anyone wants a free brochure that I have written about how to select the right dog and breeder please feel free to contact me for a copy).

         It would be to your advantage to hire a certified canine behavior consultant (iaabc.org) to help you evaluate a potential litter/puppy. It is true that puppies go through developmental stages, but a good behavior consultant can often pick out potential problems if any exist.

         Be wary if a breeder has multiple litters at the same time or the dogs live in a kennel and do not receive much attention. These breeders may keep their dogs in better conditions than a puppy mill, but the dogs are still neglected in a number of ways. Also avoid situations where the dogs are bred by people who put out a handmade sign advertising puppies for sale. There are religious groups who run puppy mills as a source of income.

Getting an adult dog

         Some people do not have the patience or desire to go through the first year of raising and training a puppy. The advantage of getting an older dog is that what you see is what you get for the most part. Many adult dogs are in need of a good home because of their owner’s situation, not because the dog has a major problem. Often breeders retire dogs after their show career and when they are too old to breed any longer. A good breeder may retire a bitch after two or three litters. That means that the dog is still young. A potential show dog that did not make it may also be available for adoption.

In many cases if a dog’s owner cannot keep their dog, they will return the dog to the breeder to be placed. And again, a shelter or rescue group may also have wonderful dogs for adoption. It is a great kindness to adopt a senior dog who may have been given up because the owner had to retire to a facility where they could not have the dog. This will ease the pain of separation for both the owner and the dog if the dog finds a loving home.

Contracts

         It is not unusual for a breeder or an organization to require that you sign a contract to purchase or adopt a dog. Make sure that you read the contract carefully and better yet, take it to a lawyer for review. Some commercial breeders will give you a bitch at no cost if you promise to let them breed the dog a number of times. Often the dog’s owner must pay for all of the expenses and then they cannot have a puppy from the breeding to sell to recoup the cost of birthing and raising the litter. What happens is that after the dog’s owner has met the required number of litters, they will breed the bitch themselves to make some money. At no time is the bitch evaluated to be worthy of breeding or are the puppies judged to be a good quality. It is simply a way to mass produce puppies and claim that they are “home raised.”

         Another clause in a contract may say that the breeder will withhold registration papers until the dog is either neutered or spayed. This is to ensure that non-show quality puppies are not bred. This is actually a good thing to promote the breeding of quality dogs only.

         Be careful when reading a contract and look for empty guarantees. They will look something like this: “We guarantee that this puppy (fill in the blank).” There is no statement as to what the breeder will do if the puppy does not turn out as it was guaranteed. While it sounds nice on paper, it is an empty guarantee. Or the guarantee will require that you return the dog to the breeder for another puppy. The breeder knows that most people will be too attached to their dog to give them up, therefore they get out of their guarantee. If the dog develops a severe problem, would you want another puppy from that breeder? I would hope not. The bottom line is that no breeder can honestly guarantee anything about a puppy since genetics is not that exact and the breeder has no control about how the owner has treated or taken care of the puppy/dog. The breeder can guarantee that at the time you receive the puppy it is healthy. Make sure to take the puppy to a veterinarian within days after bringing the puppy home.

         Almost all shelters and rescue groups will require an adoptive owner to sign a contract that guarantees that the puppy/dog will be neutered or spayed and often, if you cannot keep the dog, that it will be returned to the agency that adopted it to you. This is a good thing.

Training the dog

         Regardless of how old your dog or puppy is when you bring him home, you should take him for training. If you have adopted an older dog, the training may not be necessary for the dog, but it will help you and your dog bond and learn to understand each other. Everyone handles a dog differently so your dog needs to learn about you as much as you need to learn about the dog. Puppies of course, need training. The best time to start a puppy is about two weeks after you bring him home. You can start teaching a puppy basic rules until he is old enough to go to a puppy kindergarten class. Do not wait until your puppy is six months old to start training. Even if you do not formally train your dog right away, your puppy/dog will be learning anyway and often he will make up the rules to suit his own needs and desires. 

With careful thought and consideration, getting a dog can be one of the most enjoyable things in your life. It would be wise to review this article each time you want to add a pet to your household. Feel free to ask me any questions.

What you feed your puppy can cause adult skin problems

A team of researchers from the University of Helsinki have studied over 4000 dogs to determine how the food a puppy eats influences their likelihood of having skin allergies as an adult dog.

They found that a diet that does include raw tripe, organ meats and human meal leftovers resulted in the adult dog being less likely to have skin issues. Puppies that ate only prepared food such as kibble, heat dried meat, canned food, sausage packed food and fruit had a tendency to have more adult skin problems.

According to the research, it only takes adding 20% of raw food and human leftovers in a puppy’s diet to help protect the puppy from adult skin issues.

While the study did say that sweet fruit is included as a negative for puppy’s, it does not mention vegetables. I personally have always fed my dogs raw vegetables and some fruit as well as leftovers. No pet food has the human grades prime meat that humans eat, so leftovers are healthy for a dog to eat and should be added to the diet.

It is also very important to feed you dog and any other pet the highest quality food that you can find. I personally like Wysong and Annamaet.

Cats often get a bad rap

Many people think that cats are asocial. Quite the opposite is true. Cats are very social animals but their way of showing it is quite different from dogs. Because people are used to dogs, they do not recognize the social behavior in cats. Also, many cat owners have just one cat, therefore they do not see cat to cat social interaction.

            From studying feral domestic cat populations, we have learned quite a bit about the cat’s social structure. Female cats, known as queens, will help each other raise their young. They even act as midwives to a queen giving birth. For example, they will help clean the newborn kitten and nurse them if they are lactating. They will groom and guard the kittens as well. Males, or tom’s will also help defend kittens in their colony.

            Cats will sleep together, touching, even if it is hot, which rules out some assumptions that they only sleep close to each other for warmth. Cats will form special friendships with each other, having preferences in the colony. Cats are very family oriented and are closer to relatives than a stranger. Although the colony will accept a strange cat after a period of time. This takes weeks to months, depending on the situation.

            When cats groom each other, it is almost always in areas that are hard to reach, such as the head, face and neck. It is considered bad cat manners to groom below the shoulders.

Another way cats communicate to each other is by rubbing. Anyone who has owned or seen cats would have seen head bumping, body and tail rubbing. Sometimes cats will wrap their tails together, which is a form of rubbing.

            Adult cats will also monitor the play between kittens. If the kittens get too rough, the adult will break it up. The kittens always listen and will stop their play.

            Cats do not hunt in groups. This is because each cat needs the equivalent of three mice a day to survive. Their hunting technique is to sit quietly, slowly stalk and then pounce. This does not lend itself to sharing the food. It is very rare for more than one cat to hunt together but it has happened, for example when trying to catch a squirrel. Cats will spray to mark their territory so that other cats, even those in the colony do not hunt in another cat’s area.   

Pluskat and Sunshine (budgie) who are friends

            Kittens need to stay with their litter until they are at least 12 weeks old. They go through developmental stages similar to other animals. They learn how to behave and how to interact with other cats while they are young. If they are taken away from the litter too soon, they do not know how to act like a cat. If the cat owner decides later to get another cat, the resident cat will not know how to accept or interact with the new cat. This is one of the reasons why people have trouble introducing a new cat to the home. It is always better to have two kittens instead of one, and if possible, adopt litter mates. Family is very important to cats.

Mimi

            Like dogs, there are many breeds of cats and there are breed traits. Despite the breed of mix of a cat, each individual will have its own personality. Some cats act more like dogs and some are very aloof. Some cats are bold and some are timid. All cats are different due to breeding, family involvement, early training and experiences. It is important to keep this in mind and not label all cats as having the same personality and temperament. By understanding your cat’s natural social behavior, you can make the quality of life for your cat much better.  

Parrots as pets

Many people have parrots and parakeets of all varieties as pets. However, if you go to a bird rescue organization, you will see many, even hundreds of birds that were given up for adoption. Some of the birds will constantly squawk, or pluck out their feathers, some to the point where they have no feathers left. Some pace or sway back and forth or bite their cages. These birds are suffering from mental illness which was brought on by an unstimulating environment. It is similar to keeping a person in solitary confinement. The research by Dr. Georgia Mason, director of U of G’s Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare has determined that the more intelligent parrots and other highly intelligent mammals, need an enriched environment to maintain mental health.

Sweet Pea

If a person wishes to have a parrot for a pet, be sure to research which bird will fit into your lifestyle. Some birds do not require as much stimulation as others. Also realize that birds are flock animals that need companionship. If a potential parrot owner plans to have a solitary bird, be prepared to meet the bird’s needs. Not doing so can cause the bird to become mentally ill and the owner will be forced to give the bird up for adoption or to a bird rescue organization.

If you have a bird and are having difficulty with it, or you are not sure which bird to get, please contact the parrot division of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants at iaabc.org.

Canine hookworms resistant to treatments

            Hookworms are a common problem in dogs. These worms have a hooklike mouth that attaches to the dog’s intestinal tract. There are serious consequences if a dog in highly infested. Currently the most prevalent breed to have hookworms are Greyhounds. The conditions that they are raised and raced in is conductive to the spread of hookworms.

            Because of the widespread adoption of racing greyhounds’ hookworms are spreading to other dogs as well. A dog does not have to ingest the worms to become infected. The larvae live in the soil and can burrow through the dog’s skin and paws. Also, a female can pass the worm to their puppies through their milk. Hookworms also can infect people.

            What is upsetting is that veterinarian researchers have found high levels of hookworms in dogs that were treated. It is important that dogs are retested after a treatment to ensure that all of the worms have been killed.

            The most upsetting thing about hookworms is that they are becoming resistant to the three medications used to deworm a dog. The researchers are concerned that only the drug resistant hookworms will be left and will spread. Right now, the only deworming medication that is successful in killing the resistant hookworms is emodepside. However, that medication is only approved for cats.

            What a dog owner can do is avoid dog parks, where hookworms can live. Have your dog tested for worms frequently, especially if it is an adopted Greyhound, and make sure if your dog has hookworms, retest after treatment.

Behavior and personality traits identified in cats

With cats being the number one pet, there is surprising little research about their personality and behavior traits, especially in relation to cat breeds. This study has managed to explore the world of cats. They studied 4300 cats in 26 breed groups. Their study was the most extensive and significant to date and opens the door for further research.

By using questionnaires in an efficient manner, the researchers at the University of Helsinki have identified the following:

  • Activity/playfulness
  • Fearfulness
  • Aggression towards humans
  • Sociability towards humans
  • Sociability towards cats
  • Litterbox issues (relieving themselves in inappropriate places, precision in terms of litterbox cleanliness and substrate material)
  • Excessive grooming
Turkish Angora – Bonnie

 According to the study, “The most fearful breed was the Russian Blue, while the Abyssinian was the least fearful. The Bengal was the most active breed, while the Persian and Exotic were the most passive. The breeds exhibiting the most excessive grooming were the Siamese and Balinese, while the Turkish Van breed scored considerably higher in aggression towards humans and lower in sociability towards cats.”

The result of this study coincided with a previous study, giving it more validity.

Author’s Note: It is just as important for anyone who plans to add a cat to their home to be aware of the personality traits of cats as it is for future dog owners to select the right type of dog for their living arrangements. Even if a cat is a mixed breed, certain physical characteristics can give the potential cat owner an idea of the breed group it comes from, helping them make a selection.

4 Tips for Tackling a New Business With a New Pet by Brandon Butler

Image via Pixabay

You’ve decided to take some big steps in your life, pursuing your home business dreams and welcoming a new pet into the fold. It can be difficult to balance the needs of a new pet with those of a new business, but with the right knowledge, it can be done. This blog post, presented courtesy of Susan Bulanda, presents some resources and tips that you need to keep in mind.

Establish a Schedule

Pets, like humans, thrive with a regular schedule. Especially when your attention will often need to be on your business, it is important that your pet knows when to be able to expect to interact with you, exercise, and eat.

Depending on the kind of pet you have, your schedule might have to work around it. If your dog requires regular trips outside to use the bathroom, for example, you have to prioritize those when developing your daily routine. In the beginning, you may need to devote extra time in the day to train your pet on bathroom habits. Use one of the many time management apps to help give your business and pet the attention they deserve.

Keep in mind that if you decide to get a puppy, you’ll need to devote a lot of time to training them. According to the American Kennel Club, there are five basic cues that you need to teach your puppy, including how to come when called and how to walk on a loose leash. Positive reinforcement is the key here, so get some of their favorite treats and reward your pup throughout the training process. Getting the basics down will definitely help when you’re trying to establish a great work/pet life balance.

Utilize Technology

Time isn’t the only thing apps can help you manage. There are apps designed to help you keep track of your pet’s medications and veterinarian appointments and apps to help you train them. If you find yourself in need of a caretaker, the right app can connect you with pre-screened pet-sitters and walkers to ensure your pet is safe and taken care of while you tend to business.

If you have to be away and don’t require a sitter for your pet but would still like to check in, dozens of excellent pet camera systems are on the market. These allow you to check on your animal while you are otherwise engaged.

Protect Yourself and Your Business

As technology has progressed, so has the ability to treat animals experiencing medical issues. This has caused a steep rise in costs for veterinary care, as the equipment and expertise necessary to treat advanced issues can be expensive. It may be in your interest to purchase pet insurance to ensure medical expenses won’t be an unexpected burden on you and your business.

Another way to protect you and your assets is by forming a limited liability company. By doing so, you create an extra layer of protection between your business and your personal property. An LLC also has tax advantages and affords you more flexibility than other business setups. You can file for yourself online using an online formation service, saving you the expense of hiring a lawyer. Rules vary between states, so check out your state’s regulations before filing.

Give Yourself Time

Like starting a new business, getting a new pet is a big undertaking. Each animal is different, with personality and needs different from one to the next. Schedules and other tricks help, but it will take time to build trust and love between you and your pet.

Big changes require time and effort, but they can pay off big-time when done correctly. Embrace scheduling and technology, protect yourself and your pet, and give you and your animal some grace. Having the newest member of your family beside you when your business succeeds will make it all worthwhile.

Breeding Dogs Part Two – Registries

The following is the second part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to a dog, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.

Part Two

Understanding registries is important because who a dog is registered with will give you a clue as to its legitimacy. There are a few types of registries.

  1. Nationally recognized registries. These are established organizations that register purebred dogs. In the United States it would be the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club. In some cases, there are breed registries that are legitimate. The way to determine if a registry is recognized is if other countries or registries accept a dog registered with the organization.
  • Non-recognized registries are those that anyone can establish. In the United States there are registries that cater to puppy mill breeders so that the AKC cannot shut down puppy mill operations.
  • Breed registries are those that are recognized but are designed to register certain types of working dogs. An example would be some of the working stock dog registries.
  • Anything goes registry are those that will register any type of animal for any reason.

Most people who own a pet dog feel that their dog is worth more if it is registered. They only understand that the dog has “papers.” They do not understand the value or uselessness of the papers. The non-recognized registries have used this lack of understanding to legitimize dogs by giving them “papers” that are not recognized by any national or international recognized registry.  

It is important to note that no registry can guarantee the quality of a dog or puppy. They can only guarantee that as reported to them the records have been accurately kept. If the breeder owns both the sire and dam, they can list any dog as the sire and dam of a litter. For example, I had a client who made an appointment for training and told me that he had a Rottweiler. When I questioned him, he assured me that he had AKC papers. When his breeder found out that he was coming to me for training, he admitted that the dog was a Rottweiler/German Shepherd cross, the result of an accidental breeding. Yet the dog had recognized registration papers because the breeder owned both the male and female. The real ethics depends on the honesty of the breeder.

Ethical breeders will only register their dogs with recognized registries.

Breeding dogs (and cats)

The following is the first part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to dogs, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.

Dempsey

Part One: The Bitch

First it must be said that only the best bitches and males should be bred. The only reason to breed is to better the breed.

Often in my career I have had clients tell me that they wanted to breed their pet dog. In most cases, they have no idea what is involved. It is much more than simply introducing a male and female.

Here are some of the reasons why they feel they want to breed their dog.

  1. To make a lot of money. Often people will pay a substantial amount of money for a puppy. They feel that if they breed their bitch, they will earn eight to ten times that money.
  • It will be good for the children to watch. Whelping puppies is pretty gory and most children cannot handle what is involved. In some cases, it can traumatize a child and if the child is a girl, make her afraid to have children of her own.

If you still want a child to see this, it is better to find a breeder who will let your child get up in the middle of the night to watch the birthing of a litter.

  • We love our dog so much we want another like him/her.  The chances of reproducing your dog are slim to nothing. Genetics is not an exact science and if breeders could control how a dog turns out there would be many more champions and exceptional dogs.
  • Everyone who meets my dog wants a puppy like him/her.  As soon as the litter is born most people find that all of those friends who said they wanted a puppy have excuses as to why they cannot get one now. Breeders who have dogs that are breeding quality have waiting lists for a reason. A home bred or backyard bred dog has no special qualities to warrant the cost.
  • We really love puppies. Raising a litter of puppies is a lot of work and if done right, is very costly.

Touch is important for pets and people

A recent study conducted by the University of South Australia explored how important touch is to humans and animals. This phenomenon was recognized in early studies of children in orphanages who fared better with as little as ten minutes of cuddling. Pets fill the need for touch for many people.

The researchers found that during the COVID19 restrictions, more people have adopted pets of all kinds. Even breeders having long waiting lists. Many people have reported that touching a pet gives them comfort. They have even stated that their pets seem to know when they are depressed or sad and will comfort them.

The isolation caused by the virus has brought to light how important touch is to people. In the study lead author Dr. Janette Young stated that physical touch is a sense that has been taken for granted and often overlooked. The isolation due to the virus has brought to light how important touch is to people, their pets fill the void.