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What kind of trainer should I get for my pets?
Crate Training: Good or Bad?
Why Should You Choose Pet Parent Paradise?
How To Get Your Dog To Stop Jumping On Guests
"Real Life" Training

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Choosing a pet sitter
Declawing your pets
Jumping dog
Lost Pet
pet
Potty Training
Training, Dog Training
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What kind of trainer should I get for my pets?

1.  I would suggest getting a trainer that focuses more on positive reinforcement than negative.  Positive reinforcements TEACHES a dog instead of using fear or consequences.  
Example:  Yanking on a leash in order to get your dog's attention - doesn't really teach your dog anything other than to not have as much of an enjoyable walk because they are too focused on making sure that they are not going to do whatever it was that made their handler yank on the leash.  It tends to take longer for them to learn what it is you are asking for so it isn't necessarily training that the handler is doing.
A trainer that uses positive reinforcement may use treats and praise instead to grab their pet's attention and give them such items when they do what is requested at the exact moment therefore it creates a learning experience.

2.  You should look for a trainer or behaviorist that is also great with people.  This is because they are training YOU as well. You have to learn everything and pass it along to your pet on a regular basis.  If the trainer is condescending, indifferent to your presence or just plain rude then you as the take over trainer are not going to feel comfortable and are not going to soak in as much information.

3.  Be wary of "Too good to be true" tactics.  Training your pet is an ongoing process.  While your trainer may be able to teach you the tools to the trade if they are more focused on getting you to sign up by offering gimmicks or sales pitches then it may not work out.  Some clients have found that individuals who offer gimmicks or sales pitches such as, "If I can't do it, then no one can!" or "Specializing in military canine training" or "Training done in one session or your money back" tends to offer more of a quick fix approach.  Your pet is most likely not military or police and needs to be treated as a member of the family instead of a working canine.  

When your pet is actually learning what you are asking instead of just reacting to certain stimuli and tone it is a beautiful thing to see.

Let me know who you like in the area!  I personally have found Dawgma Animal Services to be top notch and go above and beyond.  They have helped a few of my clients who had nothing but good things to say.

What has your experience been like with local area trainers/behaviorists?

Crate Training: Good or Bad?

If it is done correctly I would have to say that crate training is definitely a good thing, especially with puppies or juvenile canines.  

I get asked pretty often about potty training and dealing with destructive dogs. Here is what I typically respond:


Potty Training
You want a crate that's big enough to let them stand up and turn around and be comfortable, animals typically won't potty where they sleep so that's why it works but they should not be kept in the crate for extended periods (puppies need to go potty every 2-4 hours depending on age, adults can hold it longer). 
If the puppy messes in the house, never correct or rub their nose in it because they don't understand why you're mad and can actually create bladder/urinary tract/intestine issues by thinking that potty at all is bad. If they potty inside with you seeing it (if you see it after the fact just clean up well and ignore) while it is happening - clap your hands once sharply, say "no" and then pick it up and take it outside. 
Every time the puppy potties outside give tons of praise and or little treats so they learn that is the correct place for it. Hope this helps and enjoy your new best friend!

Chewers/Destructive Dogs
Dogs (especially young dogs) can be destructive out of boredom and that is usually the case.  If this sounds like your pup, then crate training may be in your best interest.  The crate needs to be big enough where they can stand up, turn around and lay back down comfortably.  Put in a "indestructible" toy with them.  I put "indestructible in quotes because I have seen some of the larger breeds still be able to tear them to pieces.  I like the Kong toys that you can put peanut butter (or apple sauce) in and freeze.  It gives the pup something to keep them occupied. Do not leave your dog in there for an extended period.  Make sure you never act like their crate is a bad place or a punishment for something they may have done - their crate should be their happy safe place!  Give a treat when they get it, put down a throw or something similar that you don't mind possibly being torn up.

Crates should not be a negative experience and you don't have to feel bad for using one - dogs are naturally cave dwellers!

Why Should You Choose Pet Parent Paradise?

There are a lot of reputable pet care choices in this area.  

First I am going to go over what each type does for you....
A professional pet sitter (like yours truly) comes to your home.  We bring in your mail, bring up your trash can, alternate lighting and do perimeter checks to ensure a "lived in" look so that your home is more protected while you are away.  We also water some plants. We take care of your pets in the comfort of their own home in the way that is normal to them as to not disrupt their normal lives.  
A professional boarder cares for pets in the boarder's home (you bring your furry crew to them).  They will typically be around other animals so a well socialized animal is a huge plus if not a must.  Also they will ask for shot records to be up to date.  Your pets get to stay in "sleep away camp" if you will and typically the only time they are crated is when the boarder isn't home or for bed time - although some boarders are just fine with their charges sleeping where ever they like as long as they aren't destructive and are house-trained.
A professional kennel is a place that you bring your pets that are good with loud noises and socializing.  Some kennels let their charges out of their crates several times per day and exercise them and give tons of attention.  Some kennels let their charges out of their crates twice per day and don't put water in with them.  Kennels sometime second as "doggy day cares".
Whether choosing a kennel or boarder:  You need to ask questions and ask for a walk through.  The smell of the place and the way the animals act are usually a good sign of whether your pets will be happy at this kennel.
When choosing a pet sitter:  You need to ask if they have business liability insurance, are bonded and if they have references (or reviews on their facebook or other pages). This is a minimum - pet sitters have access to all of your belongings and your beloved pets.

So why choose Pet Parent Paradise?
Ummm...because you are absolutely brilliant.  ;)

I'm kidding (not really).  The reason you should choose Pet Parent Paradise is because we have a very large following, lots of references, all the things listed above, are honest and trustworthy and more. We show initiative and will go the extra mile to ensure your pet's safety and comfort.  And if we are not the right company for you or if we are booked I will gladly give you a list of other pet care professionals that may be able to assist you.  That's a big thing...we network with our competition.  We understand that there is a heck of a lot of people in this area and we can't help them all.  So instead of offering sub par service running around like chickens with our heads cut off (you are so welcome for the visual) we will point you in the right direction if it isn't us.

What else?  We try to help our animal community several times per year.  We have done fundraisers and needed-items donation drives.  We care.

While there are several good pet sitting companies out there, we sincerely hope that you choose Pet Parent Paradise to help you with your pet care needs and if we cannot, we will gladly point you in the direction of someone who might.

If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns please do not hesitate to call us between our office hours of 8am-6pm Monday through Saturday.  Outside of those hours will be replied to during office hours.

Thank you so much in believing in us!

How To Get Your Dog To Stop Jumping On Guests

Does your dog(s) get a lil jump happy when someone new comes over?  Are you afraid that your precious pups might inadvertently knock someone over?  

This is something that can be easily remedied through patience and training.

Why do dogs jump up on people?
Your dog more than likely isn't trying to hurt anyone, they are just super excited at this newcomer and all the smells they brings along with them!  They may get amazing head scratchies from this person and maybe even a belly rub if they act super duper friendly!

This is how many dogs think but there are other things that dogs sometimes think when someone comes over..."Should I be protective right now?  I'm so nervous!"
These types of feelings can also lead to jumping from dogs because they are filled up to the brim with nervous energy and this is how they can get it out.

Pack mentality is a thing.  Have you ever noticed that your super laid back dog will all go all jump happy when someone comes over - if they see their best fur bud in the whole world doing it, then they are most likely to follow suit,

How can we adjust this type of behavior?
-If you have highly active dogs and know someone will be coming over in the next hour you can try exercising  your dogs prior to that person's arrival.  The goal is to wear them out.  You're going to want some calm down time in between exercising and the knock on the door.  Maybe fifteen minutes or so.

-Make sure that when someone does knock on the door not to exacerbate the situation by getting your dogs excited...you'd be surprised how many people do this and then yell at their dogs when they start jumping all over the place and the person who just walked in.  This means no, "Oh Pooky, I wonder who could be at the door??!!"  Nothing like that.

-Treat all dogs the same.  This is easier said than done.  People who have little dogs AND big dogs typically let their littles get away with far more stuff that they tend to frown at if the big dogs try.  Don't do that, it's confusing for the big dogs.  This means that if you don't want 80lb Rufus jumping up all over people without permission, then you shouldn't allow 6lb Tinkerbelle to do it either. 

-Remain calm when you answer the door and tell your guest beforehand to remain calm. Make your dog sit before introducing to your guest and wait until your dogs are calm.  This may be awkward at first, having your guest wait outside the door.  You may want to test this at first with a friend or neighbor that is okay with your dogs.  When your dog sits in a calm fashion reward with tasty treats.

-Ignore the bad behavior and praise the good.  This can be difficult at first but any attention when your dog is begging for attention is good to your dog.  Let me explain, if your dog is jumping up on you and you are pushing him away - you are giving him what he wants: attention.  If your dog is jumping up on you and you throw a treat or toy to distract him - you are giving him attention.  If your dog is jumping up on you and you are giving him any contact whether verbal, eye contact or physical contact then guess what?  You are giving him attention and that is exactly what he wants.

-When your dog is jumping up on you (or tell whoever he is jumping on) then you cross your arms and turn away.  Don't look at him.  Don't say anything. Remain calm.  He will keep jumping for a little bit and you just keep on doing what you are doing which is ignoring him,  Eventually he will sit down.  When he sits all the way down and is calm then you can praise him but do so calmly.  You will be surprised how quickly this works.  Eventually your dog will come to realize that sitting and being calm will get him more attention than being obnoxious to you and your guest.  A relaxed dog is a happy dog.


The bottom line is that you want to not reward bad behavior and you want to be patient enough to recognize good behavior when it happens and reward it accordingly.

  

"Real Life" Training

One of the mistakes we often make with our dogs is thinking that dogs see training classes in the same way that we often see being in school—in other words, that learning is reserved for the classroom! In truth, dogs (and people) are constantly learning every second of every day. To have a truly well-mannered dog, you need to reinforce the behaviors that you want during the course of your daily life. “Use It or Lose It!” is a good maxim to follow when teaching your dog new behaviors. Here are some ideas on how you can involve “real life” in your training practice:

Take your dog with you when you go shopping.There are many stores that allow dogs. Always call first to make sure of their dog-friendly policies. Examples of stores that allow dogs in are garden/nursery stores, camping/outdoor gear stores, home improvement stores, pet supply stores, some restaurants and coffee shops with outdoor eating areas, and “specialty” pet food stores such as dog treat bakeries. Once you are in the store, you can practice walking nicely on leash, sitting politely for petting and no jumping, and even stays in the aisles or under your chair or table if you are sitting and having a cup of coffee. You can also practice having the dog stay before getting into your car and before jumping out, and while you are loading any goodies you’ve purchased from the shopping cart into your car.

Take your dog on car rides. Even if you have a quick errand to run, such as to the bank or to a drive thru restaurant for food, take your dog along! You can practice stays with the dog getting in and out of your car, and going out is always a good socialization opportunity for the dog. Some drive thru establishments even keep jars of dog treats on hand to say “hello!” to new canine visitors.

Practice sitting politely when guests come over every time a friend or relative visits. Practice sit stays when the mailman drops off your daily mail, when the garbage collection truck comes by, and when the newspaper deliveryman drops off your paper.

Practice sit and down stays while you are watching TV, on the phone, cooking, eating dinner, working at home on your computer, or while your children are doing their homework. The dog learns to be quiet and relaxed during times that you are busy and need to work, and it doesn’t require much extra effort on your part to train the dog while you are doing other things.

Practice stays when you go to pick your children up from school or from extracurricular activities. Arrive a few minutes early and take your dog out on leash and have them stay while watching the busy parking lot full of children. This is a highly distracting atmosphere for the dog and it’s great practice for stays, as well as walking nicely on leash.

Use the recall command in your house in the course of your daily activities, such as when you want the dog to come to eat his or her dinner, or when your dog runs to the front door or a window to bark at a squirrel or the mailman.

Use all of your dog’s behaviors to earn him “what he wants.” Make getting anything that your dog desires a learning opportunity! If your dog wants to go out, he has to sit for his leash to be put on, or lay down at the door, or do a trick instead. Do the same when your dog wants his dinner, or to play or be petted or get attention. It doesn’t really matter what behavior you ask for, as long as you ask the dog to do “something” in exchange for a valuable “life” reward.

This blog was written by Brennan Autry, local dog trainer and behaviorist for South Mississippi.  His contact info is:  
Dawgma Animal Services
WEBSITE:  www.dawgma-animalservices.com
CALL:  (515)329-4625
EMAIL:  brennan@dawgma-animalservices.com

To Declaw Or Not To Declaw? That Is The Question.

Until the last couple of years there wasn't much research on the subject so most people just weren't aware or told of the common problems that come along with declawing your feline friends but lately it has become a hot topic and luckily more and more people are coming to realize that this barbaric surgery just isn't worth it.

Pros of declawing your cat
Protection of your furniture/curtains/etc
Not having your cat scratch you accidentally or in self-defense.

That's it.  And here is the thing:  there are all kinds of ways to remedy both of these situations so that you don't need to mutilate someone's digits.

How to protect your furniture/etc from the claws of cats
-Buy cat scratching posts and introduce them to your new cat each time they are about to use the corner of your couch as a nail grinding session.  Never be mean to your cat for doing what nature tells it to do.  Don't yell.  Teach them like you would want someone to teach you.  At the most you could use a squirt bottle and gently squirt when they go to scratch something that you don't want them scratching
-Double sided tape on things that you don't want your cat putting their paws on including counter tops, etc - they will learn to avoid those areas
-Supervision
-Plastic Nail Tips - you can usually find these at pet supply stores but be forewarned that these don't work for everyone and have been known to pop off but some of the better brands can last up to 6 weeks
-Herbal spray deterrents such as "No Scratch" that you spray on scratch prone areas

How to prevent cat scratches to humans
The obvious answer is to obviously not be rough or mean to your cats but the not so obvious answer is that when spending time with cats, your hands should only be used for affection and not for play time.  If you use your hands to play with your cats they will scratch them, not to be mean but that is how they "latch" on to their play things and prey.  You should be using string toys or something comparable to play with and your hands should be used for affection only.  This teaches your cat that hands are to be treated gently because they do the same.

Sounds so easy, right?!  It is.  So you may be wondering, Why have so many people declawed their cats then?  Well not so long ago, pet owners weren't told what it takes to declaw a cat and the things that can occur afterwards.  Veterinarians were more than willing to do the procedure because it was money in their pocket.  Word of mouth from people who had not yet seen or noticed the side effects of declawing was the main component.  

It is easy to understand why so many cats have been declawed.  We were told all the positive things and none of the negative.

Presently however, there are countries that have actually banned the declawing of cats and in areas that have not yet done so there are many veterinarians who no longer offer declawing as an option.

Why are people speaking out about declawing now?

To put it in terms that you can picture for yourself and place yourself in the cat's ummm...shoes:  If performed on a human being, declawing would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. A third procedure is the tendonectomy, in which the tendon that controls the claw in each toe is severed. The cat keeps his claws, but can't control them or extend them to scratch.  So look at your hands.  Now imagine someone taking an instrument and cutting your finger down by a third.  This is not an elective procedure that you wanted for yourself.  This is a procedure someone is doing to you to protect the corner of their sofa.  Now how do you feel?  Scared, mad, wondering why someone would do that to you.  

I don't think that people who declaw their pets are bad people, I think that they are uninformed.  I have had so many people ask me if I think they should get their new kittens declawed and when I explain the procedure and what it could cause down the line, they tend to change their mind.

Some other reasons to not declaw
-Clawing or scratching things is an important and natural behavior.  Cats do not do this to be mean to you, it is in their nature.
-Cats need to be able to defend themselves.  I hear all the time, "Oh, well my ccats are indoor only"  And then those same people unfortunately left the door open for too long and the cat skidaddled out the door out of curiosity.  And now this cat has no way to defend itself or climb trees to get away from those that may cause it harm.  
-Declawed cats can turn aggressive.  They have more of a tendency to bite because they don't have claws.  A cat's mouth is full of bacteria (ever notice how they are constantly cleaning themself?) and if that bite is deep enough you are going to the hospital guaranteed.
-Pain continues after the surgery.  Cats can be very stoic and you may not even notice they are in pain.  It isn't like they can just look up at you and say, "Hi...my feet are killing me".  Aside from this, a lot of cats get arthritis in their paws because of this procedure.  Do you have arthritis in your back?  I do.  I can just imagine how much more it would suck if it were in my feet.
-Due to the graininess and texture of cat litter, declawed cats are more likely to go outside the litter box.  Many people think the cat is just being mean or is mad at them for some reason.  This is not how cats work.  If your cat is going outside the box there are many health related reasons (declawing being one of them) and you need to get them checked out by their vet.  
-Declawed cats have to relearn how to walk.  How sad is that?  So imagine someone cut your toes off.  Your balance is all over the place.  You need to relearn to walk...for a couch.

So after all this the short answer:  No, you should never declaw your cats.
If you still decide to declaw your cats or if you adopt a cat that has already been declawed please don't think that when the above mentioned things start happening it is because your feline friend all of a sudden dislikes you.  Be gentle and be patient, they didn't ask for this.


How To Catch A Lost Or Stray Dog

Have you ever been driving and seen a lost dog and saw how scared or hungry it looked but kept driving because you knew that you would probably do more harm than good trying to catch it?  

Or what about the loose dogs that roam your neighborhood that nobody seems to know or do anything about?

I'd like to help you remedy this situation.  

Sometimes it is a dog whose owners allow to roam the neighborhood while they are at work (insert stink eye and growl here - I hate that, don't you?!) but sometimes it is a dog that has accidentally gotten away from his/her human parents and it is frightening for everyone involved - the terrified dog, his/her terrified owners and you because you care deeply about helping this dog in need.

I asked around to some local rescue people and here is what I've learned:

1.  NEVER CHASE!  This is only going to frighten the poor dog because it's is going to go into prey mode and run for it's life.
2.  Stay still and if weather permits, lay on the ground and make whimpering noises - no eye contact.  Sometimes the dog will come up because 
    A) he/she is curious 
    B) he/she is wondering how to console you because let's face it - DOGS ROCK
    C) you are no longer a scary predator and he/she feels more comfortable
3.  Make sure you have a slip lead - this is a type of leash where a collar is not needed

What about if this is your dog?
    A) If your dog is still visible - DON'T CALL OUT FOR HIM/HER - I know this sounds wrong.  By "ignoring" your dog (not hollering out his/her name and sounding frantic) your dog will be in a much more calm state and come back to you.  Try squeezing his/her favorite toy or something that would make him/her calm and happy - you don't want to put them in a "Oh, crap I'm in trouble" kind of mood.  Bring out their favorite treats and put a trail leading back to the house or back yard.  Don't punish your dog when you catch him/her - that is just going to make your dog not trust you if it happens again.  REMAIN CALM.
    B) No sight of your dog anywhere?  If you live in a safe area you could put some worn clothing in your garage and leave the garage door open with some stinky food so your pup can hopefully find his/her way home.  Make sure to check frequently to see if your dog is chilling inside.  
    C) Put up signs with your pets picture including a sign in your own front yard so that if a neighbor sees him/her, that neighbor can know where to locate you
    D) Contact your local shelter and Animal Control to see if a dog meeting your dog's description has been picked up by Animal Control or dropped off by a good Samaritan to your local shelter.
    E) Contact local veterinarians - sometimes people (like me) will go to a vet office first to see if there is a microchip that can be scanned to find the owner

What if this is a dog that won't let you catch him/her?
Feed stores and places where you can get hunting supplies often sell humane (non-injury) traps that you can use to place in an area where the animal has been seen.  Place some smelly good food in the trap and check often - you don't want this more animal dehydrated because you didn't check the trap for a long time.

Ways to help insure that you don't lose your dog
    A) Dogs are companion animals and not meant to be yard ornaments.  If your dog is in the yard and not getting any attention aside from you throwing down food - there is a much higher chance that he/she will find a way to leave.  Wouldn't you?
    B) Make sure fences are strong and durable and have no weak spots
    C) Microchip all your pets!  This has saved so much heartache!  You can usually get this done at your vet or your local shelter for a very reasonable price.
    D) Have current photos of your pets.  If they do get out, this is how you will let people know what he/she looks like.


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