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Category Archives: Dogs

Where Is The Best Place For My Dog’s Bed?

Dogs like having their own beds. There is, however, a big difference between an old blanket in a drafty corner and a proper bed in an optimum position.

When it has no official bed or bedroom, if left to its own devices a dog will try several different parts of your home in search of a good place to sleep. It’s only when you give them something proper to sleep on that they begin to settle down. But even then they might still be restless, always looking for a better spot. If your dog wanders around a lot in the night, slumping in different places, it is a sign that he needs a proper bed.

The first step, then, is to buy the bed itself. There are several good ones available, including the Fido Dog Sofa Bed, the Fido Dog Bed and Crate and many more. These have all the good design necessary for the perfect dog-nap, but you’ll still need to think about where the bed will actually go.

The Best – And Worst – Places To Put A Dog Bed

  • Your dog crate may be the obvious choice, if that’s where your pet tends to chill out.
  • If the dog has already chosen a favourite snoozing place in the house, simply put the dog bed there, if that’s practical.
  • The bed should be away from drafts, and also away from hot radiators and fires.
  • A corner, or at least against a wall, is usually the best location. Dogs like to feel safe and closed-in when settling down for the night, and wide open spaces don’t make for a good night’s sleep.
  • The bed should not be in the middle of the room or in a noisy corridor. Dogs like to stay close to their human friends, but they don’t want to be interrupted by constant commotion when they’re trying to sleep.
  • At the other extreme, a room where no one usually goes is not a good choice either. Dogs like to stick with the pack – or at least to have them in the immediate vicinity.
  • If the dog is used to sleeping in your bedroom, put the new dog bed there. The only thing you have to do now is persuade him that his bed is a better place to sleep than yours!
  • If your dog is in the habit of catching 40 winks outside, you could put a spare bed in a shed, kennel or other garden building. It shouldn’t be on a wet lawn, though.

The main compromise when finding the best spot for a dog bed is to balance your pet’s need for peace and quiet with his equally strong need to be near you. Some breeds are more ‘clingy’ than others. If you opt for a spot in the bedroom, though, always discuss it first with your nearest and dearest – not everyone is happy with the idea of a midnight mutt snoring in the vicinity!

So, the best place for a dog bed depends on the nature of your home, the whim of your dog, and the practicalities of keeping everyone happy. One thing is for sure – the sight of your contented hound chilling out in his own comfy bed is very satisfying.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Does my dog really need a bed?

It’s true that dogs can sleep pretty much anywhere. But, when you think about it, so can we – in a tent, on a long train journey, or in front of the TV. However, by choice we would rather be tucked up in our own beds, waking up comfy and refreshed rather than grouchy and with a crick in the neck. Dogs are just the same.

A dog bed work on two levels. It provides consistent comfort for a good night’s sleep (and all those daytime doggie naps too), and it also gives a dog a sense of security. Dogs are territorial – they claim certain places as their own. Their most special places – the ones where no one else goes – are the most important parts of their territory. A dog bed is the ultimate safety zone for your pet.

If you don’t provide an actual bed, your dog will improvise. A favourite spot on the rug, a comfy corner away from all the noise, or an old towel or blanket. These can all be roped in as beds, and the dog will retire there whenever he needs some downtime.

The spot your dog chooses, given half a chance, may be your own bed. Unless you’re firm with him, he’ll be there to stay! This is yet another reason why buying a comfy dog bed makes sense.

Finding The Ultimate Dog Bed

Incorporating the bed in a dog crate makes sense. The crate then becomes an all-purpose safe place and chill-out zone. This is the inspiration behind custom-made kit such as the Fido Studio dog crate and Fido Nook.

A crate also provides a frame for the dog mattress, rather than just having it free-standing on the floor. As a sense of security is very important for a dozing dog, this is an important detail.

Another great option is a dog sofa bed. It provides a frame for the mattress to rest on, just like a human bed, and it raises the dog from the ground to minimise draughts. You can also replace the dog mattress if it becomes worse for wear, while the frame will last a lifetime.

Dog beds can prevent sores, callouses and bald patches – things that may afflict dogs who sleep on wooden or stone floors, or rough carpets. As a dog gets older and its joints become stiffer, it will appreciate the comfort of a good dog mattress.

It’s A Bed, Not A Naughty Corner!

One mistake some owners make is to send a naughty dog to its bed as a punishment. Needless to say, this makes the poor dog associate the bed and mattress with bad things, and that isn’t going to give it a good night’s sleep! A bed in a crate should not become a lock-up, either. A dog who spends all day in the crate will come to view it as a prison cell – and the same goes for the bed, too.

If you have more than one dog, they will usually insist on their own, separate sleeping arrangements. It’s therefore important that a dog’s bed is not treated to the canine equivalent of sofa surfing. A dog that shows interest in another dog’s comfy mattress should be firmly discouraged.

A comfy bed isn’t much to ask. It provides warmth, security, and the ultimate in doggie comfort. We definitely draw the line at doggie pyjamas, though…

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This entry was posted in Dogs


How to Decorate your Nook for Christmas

Incorporate your dog’s Fido Nook into your Christmas homeware and transform your pet’s den into a festive haven with these seasonal decoration ideas…

Fairy lights

Everyone loves the sparkle of lights at Christmas time so why not beautifully frame your Nook with battery powered fairy lights. If using with a puppy, place the lights across the top of the Nook so you still have a lovely glow, without the chewing risk! 

Mini wreath

Stick a Fido Hook to the outside of the Nook’s wardrobe door for a mini Christmas wreath. You could even make one yourself so it matches your festive decor perfectly, and add subtle puppy touches, like some decorative bones or a paw print ribbon.

Christmas curtains 

If you have added a curtain pole and Fido curtains to your pet’s Nook, why not try your hand at sewing your own Christmas curtains with a festive fabric.

Christmas tree

No need to sacrifice your Christmas tree, for puppies and frequent chewers use shatter-proof or soft baubles and keep any that are fragile or precious near the top! 

Fake candles 

Battery-powered candles give the same warming glow as real ones, without the risk to pets! If you are concerned about chewing, keep the candles on top of the Nook. 

Stocking

This super cute dog stocking is perfect for hanging up in the wardrobe ready for Santa Paws!

For the dog

Get your pup ready for the party season with a super cute Christmas jumper or festive red collar they can wear with pride. 

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This entry was posted in Christmas


Involve Your Dog in the Christmas Celebrations

Take Photos Together

Set the timer on your phone, get a friend to help, or hire a photographer to take a family portrait with your doggy. The sky is your limit when it comes to ideas for this shoot. Maybe you want to get a photo of you all out on a walk, or posing in front of the tree. Matching Christmas jumpers are not mandatory, but definitely encouraged!

Send Out Christmas Cards

Print some copies of your family portrait to send out to family and friends. If you have children, get them to decorate the cards with glitter and stickers, and the dog to sign them with a cute paw print. This will no doubt get the best spot on the mantelpiece at anyone who receives one!

Dress Them Up in Holiday Outfits

If your dog is happy to get dressed up, there are few things cuter than a pup in a bow tie or some antlers, or a festive jumper that can add some extra warmth on the darkest nights of the year. Make sure the dog is comfortable and that nothing is too tight or might hurt them.

Go For a Walk to Look at the Lights

There is always someone in the neighbourhood who goes crazy with the Christmas lights. Take your dog for a long walk and check out the decorations. Most dogs will be fascinated by all the bright blinking lights, but keep an eye on them and take them home if it gets too much.

Visit a Christmas Market

Most Christmas Markets will be outdoors, perfect for when you want to bring the dog along to drink some mulled wine and listen to carol singers. Dogs will love the smells from the food stalls, but you’re probably best of bringing some dog friendly treats from home to distract them if they get too excited. 

Watch a Christmas Film

There are few things better than curling up in front of the fire and watch those Christmas movies you’ve already seen about a million times. Make yourself and the dog comfy on the sofa and nap your way through a festive favourite. We suggest choosing something featuring a dog, like The Grinch, or The Holiday.

Bake Dog Treats

We all allow ourselves some extra treats over the holidays, and even though you should not change the way you’re feeding your dog just because it’s Christmas, it might be nice to give them a special homemade treat. Why not make these healthy Apple and Cinnamon Dog Cookies, perfect for the stocking!

Buy Gifts

If your dog has been a good boy or girl all year, they deserve a present or two under the tree. We have plenty of fun toys and delicious treats for dogs in our Christmas shop!

Make sure they stay safe

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it does involve some things that can pose a danger to dogs. Read our blog post about how to keep your pets safe during the holidays, to make sure you can celebrate without any accidents. 

 

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This entry was posted in Christmas


Gift Guide – For Dogs & their Owners

Are you struggling to find something to give a dog, or a dog owner, for Christmas? Fur-tunately we have some paw-fect gifts for all budgets! 

Fido Nook

Everyone knows that a dog is for life, not for Christmas, but if you or someone close to you are introducing a four-legged friend to the family in the new year you will be able to give the dog the warmest of welcomes with a Fido Nook, the world’s most luxurious dog bed. The Nook will be a safe spot for your dog to return to for a nap or just some peace and quiet, and you can add the removable crate if you’re planning to crate train your puppy. 

The neat freak who gets stressed about mess in the house will fully appreciate the Nook’s integrated wardrobe, which allows you to store all your dog’s things in one place. No more treats in kitchen drawers, tennis balls under sofa cushions or leads on the hallway floor! The pawfect present for both human and canine!

Are you buying for someone who’s already got a Nook for their dog? Fill the wardrobe with any of the Nook accessories: the bed, clothes rail, storage box, shelf, bowl or mirror, now all with 25% off

You could also get them some other bits and bobs to decorate the den for Christmas, such as fairy lights or a mini wreath.

Beds

Any dog owner knows what dogs will not settle for anything but extreme comfort. If their bed is old and smelly, or just not comfortable enough, there will be no stopping them from napping on the sofa or under the covers in your bed. So why not take the opportunity to upgrade your pup’s bed in time for Christmas? From Cloud7 to Buster & Beau, we stock luxurious beds from all your dog’s favourite brands.

Accessories 

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to treat your dog to some new toys, but also to get those things that you have put off getting for ages. Maybe your dog’s collar is looking a bit worse for wear after hundreds of walks and a few dips in the mud? We have plenty of collars, harnesses and leads in our Christmas shop that will make your doggy the most stylish canine in the neighbourhood. How about a new Christmas Jumper to complete the outfit? 

Stocking

Fill this super cute dog stocking with treats, toys and more for your own dog this Christmas, or as a thoughtful gift for a friend and their pup. You will find lots of great bits and bobs to put in the stocking in our Christmas Shop, such as this Christmas Cookie or the luxurious Candy Cane Rope Toy. 

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This entry was posted in Christmas


10 Common Dog Training Mistakes

It’s a fantastic achievement to transform that over-excited, jumping, weak-bladdered puppy into a trained and trusted friend and companion. The transformation isn’t automatic, but comes about through persistence, organisation, and a few simple dog training tools.

You can find several training tips on our Omlet Dog Guide. Here, we’ll highlight a few things that can slow down the training process.

1 – The training sessions are too long.

This is definitely rule number one. Training takes a lot of canine concentration, and if you overdo it, the dog will become bored and/or impatient. And, frankly, so will you. A training session should be between five and ten minutes. After that, it’s time out. You can resume the training with another 10-minute session an hour or so later.

2 – You’re getting impatient.

You might think your dog is the cleverest pet you’ve ever met. But he’s still a dog, and not a human, so you shouldn’t expect miracles. A dog has to concentrate to learn new commands, especially ones that go against his natural instincts to run, bark, eat, and jump up to greet people. Many owners lose patience when, for the umpteenth time, the dog fails to respond to a command, lies down instead of sitting, forgets to wait when you tell him, and so on.

As soon as you lose your temper, your dog will sense the hostility and begin associating training with human anger. Understandably, he’ll not be too keen on taking part in future sessions.

3 – You’re on auto-repeat.

If your dog fails to get the hang of a new command or trick on the third attempt, let it go. The mystified mutt will have made three incorrect guesses, and getting it right after ten attempts will not make the training stick. Revisit these ‘fails’ in later training sessions. Review your approach – was it too vague, too similar to another command, or have you fallen into the traps mentioned in points 1 and 2 above?

Similarly, if your dog fails to lie down when you say “lie down”, don’t repeat the command endlessly. It will tell the dog he doesn’t need to respond immediately, or it might make him think that the command for ‘lie down’ is actually “Lie down! Lie down!  Lie down! Lie down! Lie down!…etc.”

4 – Everyone’s moody.

If a dog is tired, grumpy, hungry, or expecting his regular walk, a training session isn’t going to go down well. The same applies to the human trainer – if you’re not in the best of moods, the dog will know, and neither of you will be in the best frame of mind for a training session.

5 – The default approach is punishment.

There are two ways of training a dog – the old-fashioned correction-based method, and the much better ‘positive reinforcement’ method. The old way involved punishing a dog for getting things wrong, while the modern way is to reward him when he gets it right. Some owners mix and match the two methods, which can be confusing. The poor dog doesn’t know what’s coming next – a tasty treat or an angry gesture.

You should never shout your dog’s name in anger or as part of verbal punishment either, or he will come to associate his name with negative things.

6 – The training is inconsistent.

Always use the same command words for each action, and make sure the dog performs the required action once he’s learned it. If you give the command and then let it slide if the dog doesn’t bother responding, you’re undermining the process. When training a dog you’re establishing sets of rules, and consistency is the only thing that’s going to make them stick.

If using a dog clicker, make sure the clock is reinforced with a treat. And don’t click loads of times for a single training action or behaviour, or the click will lose its meaning for the dog.

7 – The training is tailing off.

If a dog learns new tricks and performs well in early training sessions, it doesn’t mean the behaviours will stick in his head forever. They need reinforcing every day over the dog’s early months, otherwise he will get rusty (a bit like you trying to recall those school French lessons 20 years later). Some owners make the mistake of thinking a paid-for training session can replace a year of regular and patient training. It can’t.

8 – Bad behaviour is being rewarded.

If a dog is misbehaving, it can be tempting to shout his name angrily, and then reward him with a treat or attention when he comes. To the dog this means bad behaviour = reward. Ignore the bad behaviour as much as you can, and draw a line by distracting the dog by asking him to sit or lie down (without using his name). You can then reward the good behaviour.

9 – You’re overdoing the treats.

If dog treats are given too frequently or the portions are too large, the dog may decide, later, that he will only listen if there is food involved. There are also health issues involved with overdoing the snacks too. Praise, play and affection are just as important as food treats when training.

10 – A bull terrier can’t be a sheepdog!

There’s no single ‘best way’ to train a dog. It depends on breed and temperament. So, don’t rely on previous experience or the advice of another dog owner, if the dogs in question were completely different characters. 

No dog is born pre-trained. But by avoiding these 10 common mistakes you’ll make the training much more effective, ensuring that everyone involved – human and dog – has a great time during the process.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


10 Top Tips For Camping With Dogs

Hitting the great outdoors on a doggie camping trip is a great idea… in theory! But what if the dog keeps everyone awake all night, barks endlessly at a field full of strangers, and runs off at the first whiff of someone else’s barbecue?

The fact is, some dogs are born campers, while others tend to get frustrated or freaked out. Our ten dog camping tips should help you find the right pitch for you and your canine companions.

1. Think about your dog’s personality.

A chilled-out dog who enjoys lying down after a walk just as much as he enjoys the walk itself will probably love camping. So will a sociable hound who likes meeting other dogs and new people. On the other hand, a skittish, nervous or aggressive hound will find it all a bit stressful. That doesn’t mean you can’t go camping with a less sociable dog. If he’s always aggressive to strangers, it’s best to forget it; but otherwise you just need to do your campsite homework. Somewhere small and quiet might work better than a busy camping village at the height of the season.

Having said that, many well-trained dogs are able to tolerate the hustle and bustle, as long as they also have the opportunity to get away from it all on regular walks.

2. Research the camp sites before setting out.

Lots of places do not allow dogs on site, and many more have a ‘Dogs on leads at all times’ policy. The ones that do encourage dogs tend to be very proud of the fact, boasting of their dog-friendly facilities. The non-dog-friendly ones outnumber the others, so do your homework.

3. Take all the dog accessories with you.

You’ll need food and water bowls – including light, portable dog bowls and water bottles for hikes and day trips – food, leads, harnesses and muzzles, poo bags, beds, towels, favourite toys, tick- and flea-collars, tick-removers, and anything else that will ensure a trouble-free trip. You might want to consider a light-up dog collar too, for those dark nights.

4. Don’t forget the dog ID.

In case of emergencies, or AWOL dogs, you should have all your pet’s details on a dog ID tag, or printed out (and laminated, ideally – wet camping trips can soon make slips of paper illegible). This includes vet’s notes and vaccination record, and contact info. Your dog’s microchip records need to be up-to-date too.

5. Settle in.

After the journey, before doing anything else, let your dog acclimatise. He’ll need a wee and will enjoy a good, long walk around the immediate area to get used to the sights, sounds and smells of his new surroundings.

6. Keep your dog under control.

You don’t want to be looking over your shoulder every other second to make sure your dog isn’t making a nuisance of himself in the shower block or attacking the neighbours’ sandwiches. Unless your pet is very well-trained indeed you’ll need to put him on a lead – a long one, if space allows – tied to a ground spike or tree. That way he can nose around without sneaking off while you’re not looking. You could also take a travel dog crate with you, if your pet has been crate-trained. Doggie tents are available too.

7. Clean up.

Take poo bags to dispose of your dog’s trips to the toilet. Remove all food bowls and dog toys after they’ve been used, to prevent other dogs sniffing around and potentially leading to doggie disagreements.

8. Discourage the woofing.

If your dog is barking, distract him or move him somewhere else to take his mind off whatever has been winding him up. A walk is ideal. Remember that children and many other people on campsites go to bed early, so impose an 8 o’clock woofing curfew. This may involve taking the dog into the tent or crate and encouraging him to settle down for the night.

9. Go easy on the snacks.

It can be tempting to feed your dog lots of picnic and barbecue leftovers, or to overdo the treats due to his good behaviour in strange surroundings. Too much food can upset a dog’s stomach, which means nasty doggy smells at best, and runny poos at worst. Limit Fido to his usual food, with just the occasional treat – and make sure he doesn’t make lots of new ‘best friends’ on the campsite based on the fact that they feed him their leftovers!

10. Enjoy yourselves!

A simple but vital point. Treat the trip as a holiday rather than a trial. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your dog will be.

Once your dog has caught the camping bug, he’ll relish the trips every bit as much as you do. And those happy family holidays with the dog become cherished memories when you look back over days gone by. 

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This entry was posted in Dogs


How to Make a Cosy Den for your Pet

 

Have you ever found your dog or cat curled up in some tiny, enclosed places around the house when the weather gets cold? Perhaps under the bed, behind the sofa, or even in an empty box? This is because when the temperature drops, most of their usual snoozing spots become very cold and are exposed to chilly drafts. You can help your pet find a more comfortable and warm space for naps in winter by creating a snuggly den that they can call their own. Read on to find out how…

Find a cosy corner of your home

Keep an eye on your pet’s favourite places to curl up for naps, they will probably be showing you their preferred spot for feeling secure so they can completely relax without keeping one eye open. This should be in a warm room in your house where they will have some company, but not so much that they will be kept awake or interrupted frequently. If you have young children in the house, you might want to consider a room that the little ones have little access to. 

Find the perfect bed

Sleeping on your bed or sofa might be your dog or cat’s usual spot for comfort and cosiness, but unless they sneak under the covers, they will likely still be exposed to those pesky drafts, nevermind the fact your bed will be victim to muddy paw prints! Placing their bed within something else to create a ‘den’ is an ideal solution.

The Fido Nook Dog House and Maya Nook Cat House offer just that. Designed like a piece of furniture, the Nook offers a much more secure space where your pet’s bed can be slightly raised off the ground and concealed further by the roof to limit drafts and maximise comfort. The Nook is also available with curtains which can be attached to the front and back for further warmth and cosiness. For more anxious pet’s who may get worried by loud noises and fireworks, the curtains provide extra security and the feeling of being hidden, without your pet needing to get stuck behind the sofa!

To complete your pet’s new den, you need to carefully pick the perfect cosy bed for them. You probably already have some idea of what your pet does and doesn’t like to sleep on. The Classic Fido bed offers a simple, mattress-like bed for your pet to relax into without feeling enclosed or overheating. For pet’s who like a little more structure to their bed for leaning and burrowing into, we recommend the Buster & Beau Dawlish Square Bed or Dream Paws Cosy Bed. For those who demand a life of luxury, the sumptuously soft mattresses found in the Cloud7 range of beds are a cut above the rest.

Add the finishing touches

A cosy den isn’t complete without blankets and cushions. Finally, pop your pet’s favourite cuddly toy inside to make the new den really feel like home!

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This entry was posted in Cats


How Old Is Your Dog Actually in Human Years?

Curly Coated Retriever

As a dog owner you’ve probably wondered how old your dog would be in human years. And you’ve probably came across the rule that one year for your dog equals seven human years. But this rule is actually far from accurate and the math is not that simple. Dogs mature at a different rate to humans and also the size and breed have to be taken into consideration. Smaller dogs generally mature faster and live longer than larger breeds, and cross and mix breeds tend to live longer than purebreds. The exact reason why small dogs live longer than large dogs is still unknown (generally speaking, large mammals tend to live longer than small ones). Scientists did conclude that every 4.4 pounds of body mass reduced a dog’s life expectancy by about a month.

Compared to humans, dogs age more quickly during the first years of their lives and slower toward the end. Calculating your dog’s age relative to humans is a bit tricky, but more or less possible with this figure:

The four stages of a dog’s life

Emotional and physical maturity occurs over an extended period of time and in stages, although every dog develops at his or her own rate depending on their size, breed and personality. Here’s an overview of what you can expect during the different phases.

PUPPYHOODUsually ends between 6 and 18 months of age

Puppies of smaller breeds develop into adults clearly faster than puppies from larger breeds. Small dogs are fully grown at the age of 10 – 12 months, while larger dogs can still be considered puppies for eighteen months, even up to two years. All puppies are born deaf, blind and unable to regulate their own body temperature. After four weeks, puppies are weaned from their mother’s milk gradually over a period of 2 – 3 weeks and start to eat puppy food. When their senses develop, puppies gets to know the right way to interact with humans, other dogs, and other pets. Socializing and the socialization process are extremely important during this period. A puppy should spend the first eight to ten weeks of its life with his mother and siblings.

ADOLESCENCEStarts between 6 and 18 months of age 

Adolescence is probably the most challenging period in a dog’s life. In this stage of the life cycle hormones start to kick in. If not spayed/neutered, your dog may begin to act like a teenager, reluctant to pay attention and more likely to exhibit undesirable behaviour. Your dog will start to grow in his second set of teeth at between six and eight months of age. His teeth will be sore and he will do anything to help ease the discomfort. This means chewing on… everything! Make sure you give your dog suitable chew toys at this stage. Your dog will also lose his puppy fur and experience significant growth spurts. Adolescence is the perfect time to start with obedience training.

ADULTHOODStarts between 12 and 36 months of age 

Generally speaking, small dogs hit adulthood in about a year, large breeds in two and giant dogs in three. Adulthood usually marks the end of a dog’s growth and your dog’s height and size have reached a point that’s typical for an adult of his or her breed and sex. Visible signs of adulthood in male dogs is when they starts to lift their leg while urinating and in a females when they go into heat for the first time. During adulthood dogs are usually in the best shape of their lives and they will need plenty of exercise and stimulating activities to keep them engaged. An adult dog is emotionally and physically mature and behaviour will be more difficult to change.

SENIORITYBetween 6 and 10 years of age

At this point in your dog’s life, you most likely have noticed signs of him getting older. Your dog may still enjoy a long walk, but he is not quite as bouncy as he used to be and it may take him a bit longer to respond to your commands. Just like us, dogs get older gradually and the ageing process affects dogs in the same way that it affects humans. Older dogs may need more rest and it’s important they have their own quiet place with a soft, comfortable bed away from draughts where they won’t be disturbed. It is important to know when your dog reaches this stage of life because of the changes needed to, amongst other things, its diet and exercise. Your veterinarian can help you identify when it’s time to make these adjustments.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


How To Minimise Pet Stress When Moving Home

Moving home can be very stressful. Not just for you and your family, but for your pets too.

It’s less of an issue for smaller animals kept in cages or enclosures. But even pet rodents and birds will need to be transported to the new residence, and none of them will enjoy the journey.

Of all the pets, though, it’s cats and dogs that take the brunt of the stress when moving. Everything they’ve come to know and rely on in terms of safe places, personal spaces, territories, and familiar scents and sounds disappears.

Here are a few tips to help your furry friends chill-out at this most disruptive of times.

Helping Pets Move Out

There’s a shortcut to a stress-free move: put your dog or cat in a kennel or cattery, or hand them over to a dog- or cat-sitter. That way they can ride out the chaos in relative peace and quiet, and you can collect them once the dust has settled at the other end of the moving process.

If you decide instead to let your pet ride out the storm with you, there are several things you can do to make it easier on them.

  • Put your pet in a safe space – a quiet room in the house away from the main activity of boxes, moving furniture and sweaty removal men. Put familiar things in the room such as bowls and favourite toys, and make sure your pet spends time there in the weeks before the move, to get used to it. This applies not just to cats and dogs, but to small mammals and cage birds too.
  • If your dog has a crate, that might be an even better option. Similarly, if your cat is happy chilling out in a cat crate or box, let them.
  • Nominate one member of the family to be responsible for pet wellbeing throughout the move.
  • Some owners recommend spraying a cat box or basket with calming pheromones (available from vets or pet shops). The calming effect can be increased by covering the crate with a sheet to keep it dark.

Pets On The Road

Some pets enjoy travelling. Others hate it. Highway blues can be minimised in the following ways.

  • If your pet is already used to travelling in a car, great. If not, introduce them to the inside of the vehicle in the weeks before the move.
  • Dogs should be secured with a doggy seat belt, or installed in a crate if that’s possible. Cats should always be transported in cat crates, and ideally they should be used to these before making the journey. Never let an animal remain loose in a car during the move; and don’t make a dog travel in the strange and scary surroundings of the removal van.
  • For smaller cage pets, the journey is bound to be stressful. If possible let them remain in a covered cage and put plenty of soft items around it to prevent it moving around during the journey. If you need to transfer the animals to carrying boxes, make sure these are placed somewhere dark, with no chance of moving around. Never put the box in the glove compartment – there’s a chance of noxious fumes building up in there.
  • If the journey is long, take breaks to allow your cat or dog to drink and, in the case of a dog, to exercise and relieve itself.

Helping Pets Move In

It takes time for pets to settle into new surroundings. But the first few hours are likely to be the most stressful, so, again, make it as painless for your pet as possible.

  • Choose a quiet settling-in room, put the pet’s basket or blanket in there, along with some other familiar items, and then close the door for as long as it takes for your stuff to be relocated from the removal lorry to the new house or flat.
  • Once everything is inside and the doors and windows are all closed, let your pet out for an exploration of the new place. Keep close, to reassure them. Most pets will relax within five minutes after a good sniff around, and will happily accept a tasty treat.
  • If you have a cat, rub its head and cheeks with a cloth, and then rub the cloth on surfaces and skirting boards around the new place. This will transfer the cat’s natural pheromones.
  • Put the pet’s bed in the place you intend it to sleep in, rather than letting it spend a few nights here, there and everywhere. Routine and familiarity are what it’s all about.
  • When outside, keep your dog on a lead in the first few days, to prevent him chasing new scents and getting lost, or attempting to head for his former residence, which for a short time will still be ‘home’ in his brain.
  • Keep cats indoors for at least one week, otherwise they will wander away. This is very likely to happen if you have not moved very far. Only let them out after dark once you’re confident that they have properly settled in.
  • Make sure your pets are microchipped and have IDs on their collars, in case they stray.

Pets soon settle into a new home. All they really need is a little time, the reassurance of your continuing presence, and the sight and smell of familiar toys, food and bedding. 

It’s these things, rather than a mere accident of geography, that means ‘home’ to a happy pet.

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This entry was posted in Cats


Introducing A New Baby To Pet Cats And Dogs

The arrival of a baby in a household turns things upside down. That’s certainly how it can seem to your pets. A dog may find there’s less time for walks and playing, and a cat may suddenly be ousted from her favourite sleeping places in the bedroom or on your lap, due to the presence of the baby.

It’s important to get your pets used to the idea of having the newcomer around, along with the changes in routine that go with it. And ideally the preparation needs to start before the baby is born.

Prenatal Pet Training

In the months leading up to the birth, spend slightly less time with your cat or dog – particularly if they are used to lazing in your lap or sitting by your feet demanding attention.

If your dog is not fully trained at this point, fill in the gaps with some training sessions. Get an expert in to help out, if necessary. Your dog needs to know the basic ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave it’ commands, at the very least. It’s essential that the humans in the house reinforce their roles as Alphas in the pack.

A new baby will bring new sounds and smells to the house. You can get your pets ready for this by inviting mums and dads with babies or toddlers to call in for coffee. Play a recording of a crying baby to acclimatise pets’ ears, and switch on any noisy new toys, mobiles, swings or other baby-related apparatus. Let your pets sniff a nappy and a cloth with a few drops of baby oil on it. Familiarity is half the battle.

Get Your Pet Vet-Ready

A neutered pet is a calmer pet, and less likely to bite. This is especially true with males. When neutered, they are less likely to view the baby as a rival. Arrange for a vet to perform the operation, if the pet is not yet neutered. And while you’re there, make sure Puss and Fido are up to date with their vaccinations, worm-free, and generally in tip top health.

Reset Schedules

Babies bring lots of unpredictability to a household, and old routines soon break down. There’s nothing wrong with this, but a pet who’s set in his ways may not take kindly to sudden change. Break him in by varying feeding times, blocking off no-go areas with a baby gate, or perhaps hiring a dog walker.

If the human mum-to-be has always been the pet’s chief companion, it’s handy if you can introduce another ‘favourite’ into its life. This could be a partner, older child or friend – anyone able to spend quality time with the animal.

Introducing the Baby

Before letting a dog or cat see the baby, let them sniff a blanket and a soiled nappy. Try not to show any nervousness when bringing the baby into the house for the first time, as pets will pick up on the bad vibes.

To make the first introduction, sit with the baby in your arms – ideally in a ‘neutral’ room, one where the pet doesn’t usually go – and let the dog or cat approach in its own good time (and one at a time, if you have multiple pets). Don’t force the issue. Have some treats ready to reward good behaviour.

You can reinforce the positive associations by treating a dog whenever it’s around you and the baby. That way your pet will come to associate the baby with good things (i.e. food!) A cat will need less fuss in this respect, and will simply equate the baby with you, logging it as something not to worry about.

Whenever there’s any interaction between baby/toddler and pet, make sure there’s an adult around to keep an eye on the situation.

Special Notes For Cats

A docile cat needs to get used to the new baby, and to keep away when it’s asleep. A more flighty cat should simply be kept away. Toddlers seem to have an instinct for grabbing handfuls of pet fur, and a nervous cat may react by scratching. A cat flap with a lock can be handy in the early days, to keep puss outdoors at key times.

Many cats dislike a baby’s crying, and will disappear when the screaming begins. This is very handy! Make sure there’s a quiet, safe spot for them, away from the mayhem. The Maya Nook is a perfect solution to give your cat some privacy. 

Cats feel exposed and nervous when they eat, so you should keep a toddler away from the place where your pet is feeding. It should also go without saying that you should prevent young ‘uns from rummaging in the litter tray too!

Special Notes For Dogs

All dogs will need to be well-trained, in a situation where trust is so fundamental. Some dog breeds are very rarely going to be friendly with children, though. A dog bred over hundreds of years for aggression is NOT a dog you should have in the family home. ‘Snappy’ breeds such as Jack Russel, Dachshund or Chihuahua can be problematic too, but you probably know your dog best.

A treat-based puzzle toy such as a Kong ball is a useful distraction. You can give it to your dog while you spend time tending to the baby, to divert the pet’s attention.

It’s important not to abandon dog walks, as that will lead to doggy stress and frustration. It’s a case of ‘business as usual’, where ‘usual’ has simply undergone a few changes.

The dog/child relationship is a two-way process, and youngsters need training too. Teach them to be gentle with the dog, and they will have the basis for a good relationship.

And the importance of that relationship shouldn’t be underestimated. Children learn lots about friendship, respect and responsibility from interacting with animals. There is also evidence that allergies are less of an issue in kids who have been brought up with pets.

So – you’ve replaced your ‘pet baby’ with the real thing. That means big change. But when handled properly it’s a positive change, the beginning of a new chapter in the happy family home.

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This entry was posted in Cats


How to Deal with the Loss of a Pet

Those who have lost a beloved pet will know the pain can be as heart wrenching as the loss of a family member or friend. For many couples, the family pet becomes another child, just one with four legs and a tail who doesn’t answer back. Many of us also find comfort and friendship in our pets throughout the highs and lows of day to day life, so the passing of a pet can be extremely painful.

It’s okay to be sad

Take the time to process what has happened and allow yourself to be sad. This is especially important if you have children who may be experiencing this kind of loss for the first time and might struggle to understand.

Pet owners often have to make the difficult decision to have their pets put to sleep when their health deteriorates too far to be helped. This adds another aspect to the grief as some may feel guilty for having to make that decision, or as though they could have done things differently. Discuss the events with your vet, as they will be able to reassure you that you did the right thing.

Don’t feel ashamed for any sadness you feel. Many people may not understand or be sympathetic towards the sadness when we lose a pet, but that doesn’t mean you are not allowed to feel upset. If you think it would help you to take a couple of days off work to grieve, do so. Pets who have been in your home for years leave a big hole, and feelings of loneliness and emptiness are completely normal.

Confide in your family and friends about how you feel, but if you do not think they understand, seek the support of organisations such as Blue Cross and Cats Protection who provide grief support helplines.

If they were your only pet, consider moving your pet’s bed, food bowls, toys and other belongings into a garage or shed so they are out of sight. Throwing these in the bin straight away can be difficult so don’t rush, just put them away so there is one less reminder in the home.

If you have another pet, keep a close eye on them for signs of depression and loneliness. Consult a vet if you believe your pet’s behaviour has changed drastically and shows no sign of improvement.

What next?

Some people choose to rescue or adopt another pet soon after the loss, as the home can feel empty without them. However, others find this feels too much like attempting to replace them. Consider rescuing a different type of pet, e.g. if you have lost a dog, why not rescue a cat instead. That way you are not at all replacing your previous pet, but you are offering a cat in need a happy home.

We are all guilty of taking lots of photos of our pets, and this is the time to put those photos to use. Find your favourites and prepare a photo album, or get a canvas printed, so they can still be a part of your home. Other things you could do in memory of your pet are plant a tree or flower in their favourite garden spot, read or write a poem, make a donation to a pet charity which means a lot to you, or volunteer at a local rescue shelter.

 

Pawprints Left By You – By Vayda Venue

You no longer greet me
As I walk through the door,
You’re not there to make me smile,
To make me laugh anymore,
Life seems quiet without you,
You were far more than a pet,
You were a family member, a friend,
A loving soul i’ll never forget.

It will take time to heal,
For the silence to go away,
I still listen for you ,
And miss you everyday,
You were such a great companion,
Constant, loyal, and true,
My heart will always wear,
The pawprints left by you.

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This entry was posted in Dogs