The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Pet Behavior The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Pet Behavior
Showing posts with label Pet Behavior. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pet Behavior. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Pet Owners Note Behavioral changes in Their Cats and Dogs During the Coronavirus Pandemic

While the impact of this pandemic has ranged from absolute boredom to more serious things like job losses and health issues, some of our pets are coping in their own ways.

A local veterinarian who focuses on animal behavior and stress is not surprised to hear our pets are stressed, too.

Matt O'Donnell spoke with Dr. Carlo Siracusa of Penn's Ryan Veterinary Hospital about Bailey, his generally happy and spoiled 8-year-old Shichon.

To read more on this story, click here: Pet Owners Note Behavioral changes in Their Cats and Dogs During the Coronavirus Pandemic


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Is Your Dog Depressed?

A once perky pooch may now be listless and withdrawn. Or a dog who previously had the tolerance and patience of Job might have turned aggressive, snapping at the kids or destroying furniture.

Could these be signs of depression?

“It’s hard to know for sure because we can’t ask what they’re feeling, and have no tests to specifically gauge depression in dogs,” says Bonnie Beaver, DVM, of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “That’s why it’s important to see a vet whenever your dog experiences any sudden change in behavior — to rule out a possible medical condition ranging from GI upset to cancer. But certainly, there are situations where depression seems to be the only explanation.”

Leading the list, perhaps to no surprise, is loss of a family member. “We definitely can say we see depression in dogs when there’s a death of a person or another pet in that household, or someone moves out,” notes John Ciribassi, DVM, of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and co-editor of the book Decoding Your Dog.

To read more on this story, click here: Is Your Dog Depressed?


Monday, March 27, 2017

iSpeakDog: A Website Devoted to Becoming Dog Literate

An easy way to become dog fluent

I'm pleased to announce a new group called iSpeakDog that focuses on the details of dog behavior, communication, and emotions. I'm also very glad that I was able to do an interview with its founder, dog trainer and journalist Tracy Krulik. Our exchange went as follows.

Why did you form iSpeakDog?

The tipping point for me was the day I saw a man hit his Pointer for growling in a crowded veterinary lobby. The room was packed with dogs, cats, and people, and this Pointer was stationed right next to the door and the reception desk. She became visibly more uncomfortable as each person and dog walked in, and she had no way to hide. So this Aussie walks in and sniffs her, and she growls. I’m thinking, “I can’t believe it took her THIS long to growl,” and, “Good girl! Give him a warning signal rather than biting him.”  But the man hit her and apologized to the Aussie’s owner, saying that his dog can be so aggressive. I nervously (not wanting to get hit myself!) commented that she looked scared to me--pointed out the crowded room, the tucked tail, the massive eye whites showing, the shifting body weight, etc.—and explained that dogs often growl when they are scared, to ask things to back off. The man immediately softened, said that he hadn’t thought of it that way, and then gave the pooch a kiss on the head.

To read more on this story, click here: iSpeakDog: A Website Devoted to Becoming Dog Literate


Humane Rescue Alliance Partners with # iSpeakDog to Bridge the Communication Gap Between People and Their Dogs

Global Awareness Campaign and Website Launch Week of March 27 – April 1, 2017

Washington, DC: To help improve the relationship people have with their dogs, The Academy for Dog Trainers the Humane Rescue Alliance, The Bark Magazine, and The Pet Professional Guild have teamed up to launch iSpeakDog, a global campaign and website designed to help people better understand dog body language and behavior.  The Humane Rescue Alliance is proud to participate as a local partner to provide resources and share knowledge with dog guardians in the Washington, DC region.

iSpeakDog, which will launch as a weeklong campaign March 27 – April 1, 2017, comes at a time when canine behavior is being studied more than ever — revealing that people often misinterpret what their dogs are doing and saying. Sadly, millions of dogs are punished and even relinquished to shelters each year because of ‘behavior problems,’ which are often simply dogs being dogs.

“When people understand and appreciate dogs for the species that they are, that’s when the fun really starts,” says Jean Donaldson, founder of The Academy for Dog Trainers and author of Culture Clash. “Dogs chew and dig and bark and jump because these things are enjoyable to them, not because of some power struggle. With iSpeakDog, our goal is to empower people to separate out all the bad information that floods the Internet and media, and help them learn the truth about their pups so that they can respond more effectively and compassionately.”

To test if there really is a knowledge gap between what people think their dogs are doing and what is really happening, Alexandra Horowitz, renowned ethologist and bestselling author of Inside a Dog, conducted a study in 2009. She tested whether the infamous “guilty look” that many people claim to see in their dogs after they pee on the rug or tear up the couch is, in fact, a look of guilt. Her research found that it was not. Instead, the look represented dogs who were afraid of being punished.

Along those same lines, there are numerous videos online and on TV of dogs ‘being funny,’ but more often than not, the dogs in the videos are actually scared.
“We are proud to partner with iSpeakDog and provide dog adopters with great tools to help them understand the body language and behavior of their canine friends,” said Alexandra Dilley, Director of Behavior and Training for HRA.  “We encourage all dog guardians in our community to use these invaluable resources.”

The website,, will help teach people how to figure out for themselves what their dogs are doing and why. The site will break down the common behaviors shown by dogs that tend to frustrate their guardians (i.e. jumping up on people, chewing shoes and pulling on leash) and explain the different emotional states that can drive such behavior (i.e. growling and snapping is often a sign that the dog is scared).

The iSpeakDog campaign will include dog behavior and body language educational opportunities across the globe — including a free webinar on “How to Speak Dog,” on Tuesday, March 28 at 6 p.m. E.T. ( — as well as social media events including Ask the Expert on Facebook.

More about iSpeakDog
Those looking to participate in the campaign on social media or to learn more should use the #iSpeakDog hashtag and follow iSpeakDog on Facebook ( and Twitter (@iSpeakDogWeek).

About the Humane Rescue Alliance: 
The Humane Rescue Alliance (formerly the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League) has protected and served the animals of the community for more than 145 years and serves more than 60,000 animals annually. The broad range of programs offered include: rescue and adoption, humane law enforcement, low-cost veterinary services, animal care and control, behavior and training, spay-neuter services, humane education, and many others. The organization is dedicated to ensuring the safety and welfare of all animals, bringing people and animals together, and working with all communities to support these relationships. HRA is based in Washington, DC, the only major urban area in the country that has all of its animal protection programs and services unified in one organization, making the Humane Rescue Alliance a model for the nation.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Your Dog Can Read Your Mind and Knows Who You Hate

New research shows your dog can actually read your mind. 

It goes beyond them knowing it's time to eat or go on a walk before giving a verbal command. They know how you feel about others. Buzz60s Sean Dowling has details.

To read more on this story, click here: Your Dog Can Read Your Mind and Knows Who You Hate


Sunday, January 10, 2016

How to Uncover Your Pet's Secret Pain

Six months ago I injured my back while attempting to train for a half marathon. I pushed through for a couple of months as I fell further and further behind my training buddies, until finally it occurred to me that needing to stop every couple of minutes to punch my fist into my left hip was probably not a normal thing.

As far as everyone in my everyday life knew, I was fine. I was still working and lifting things as usual, perhaps stepping a bit more carefully on uneven footing and pausing to brace myself before coughing. When I didn’t get better after a month of rest I wound up in a physical therapist’s office, where she figured out that my entire left pelvic wing was rotated out of whack. After a lot of therapy, ice, and Advil, I’m back on track.

I think about this a lot when I’m working with senior pets. One of the most common things people say to us when they bring in older pets is, “Oh, he’s just old and slowing down.” When we suggest that perhaps there is a painful condition, such as osteoarthritis, the client often replies, “Oh, he’s fine—he’s not crying.”

I would like to state for the record that for all the times I winced as shooting pain went up and down my spine, each gritting of the teeth and slow roll out of bed in the morning while I worked out the kinks in my pelvis, I never once cried out. The times I have cried out in pain? When I shut my finger in the car door and when I dropped the vacuum on my foot. That is the difference between chronic and acute pain.

To read more on this story, click here: How to Uncover Your Pet's Secret Pain


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Did You Know That Your Dog’s Nose Can Smell Things That Cannot Be Seen?

Did you know that dogs breathe in and out through a different part of their nose? This allows them to experience and process more smells than we could ever even imagine. In fact, their sense of smell can pick up things that can’t even be seen at all. How awesome is that?


Bringing Home Baby to a Dog’s World

The scenario is far too common. The happy, expecting couple stroll into the clinic with their four-legged child for her Annual Wellness Exam. The first born of the family is healthy and has a great check-up so I turn my attention to the parents who are expecting their first two-legged child. “Have you starting thinking about how you will introduce your new baby?” All of the sudden, the happy couple becomes the bewildered couple and stares at me with the “deer in the headlights” look. I know it’s time to have “the talk”. Bringing home baby to a pet who has ‘ruled the roost’ for years can be done. We have a few guidelines for you.Many soon-to-be parents don’t realize that without proper precautions and planning, their new bundle of joy will be their pet’s worst nightmare and is even at risk to be harmed by their pet.

It is important that every pet owner who is expecting a child follow a few easy steps to ensure the new addition to the family is a happy addition.

1) Allow your pet to becomes used to “baby stuff” before the big day comes. While babies themselves are terrifying enough for pets, all their stuff can be even worse. Strollers, cribs, toys, high chairs, and car seats are all brand new items for your pet to adjust to. Stock the nursery early and allow your pets time to get used to all the new stuff before their is a screaming child who is taking all your time and energy sitting in them. Even going on walks with the empty stroller or having bonding time in the baby-less nursery can put your pets at ease. If your pet is anxious or scared around new noises, play recordings of baby noises in the months leading up to the delivery. Start at low levels that your pet doesn’t react to and slowly work up to “real life” levels. Do positive things with your pets such as eating, giving treats, brushing, and playing during these noise desensitization sessions to allow your pet to become comfortable with the change.

2)Teach a calm, controlled behavior. Many dogs get excited around new people and like to jump up on them to greet them. Teach your dog to “sit” or “lay” and make them do it before they receive anything (food, treats, toys, affection, etc.). Think of it as teaching your dog to  say “please” before they get something they want. Pets with good manners are less likely to injure children or be scolded by adults who are holding children. Remember, we want having a baby to be a happy experience for the pets and constantly getting scolded because the baby is around will lead to further fear and anxiety for your pet.

To  read more on this story, click here: Bringing Home Baby to a Dog’s World


Friday, December 11, 2015

Woman Climbs Fence in a Backyard and Allowed Herself to be Mauled to Death by Dogs

Port Huron, Michigan -  Although authorities said 22-year-old Rebecca Hardy was intent on killing herself when she exposed herself to vicious dogs, the woman's fiancé is insisting she had everything to live for.
Hardy deliberately climbed a fence to a backyard and allowed herself to be mauled to death last Thursday in Port Huron, authorities said.

 She died at a local hospital with extensive injuries to her face and neck. The death was ruled a suicide from injuries caused by multiple dogs mauling her, according to the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office.

 "These were attack dogs. These were vicious dogs in an enclosed space," Oakland County Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic said. "She obviously was aware of that, because she climbed over the fence to subject herself to this threat."
He said his office's investigation shows Hardy had recently been kicked out of her house and had attempted suicide in the past. A toxicology report is still pending, but Dragovic said it wouldn't matter if she were intoxicated: "If (drugs or alcohol) were a factor in general behavior, it still does not eliminate the purposeful act of climbing into the dangerous area."

After the attack at about 4:45 p.m. last Thursday, Hardy was taken to Lake Huron Medical Center and later flown to Beaumont Hospital, where she died, the Port Huron (Mich.) Times Herald reports. The two dogs, a pit bull and a pit bull-husky mix, were euthanized the next day. A pit bull-husky mix puppy was also euthanized.
Hardy had an 18-month-old daughter with her fiancé, Matthew Grattan. He told The Times Herald on Wednesday that he finds it hard to believe that she would do anything to harm herself.

"I, in no way, shape or form believe that she was looking to hurt herself on that day," Grattan said. "She had a little girl. … She wanted us to be a family."

Dragovic said he didn't immediately know whether there were signs Hardy resisted the dogs' attacks at any point. He also said that she lived nearby and would have been familiar with the area.

"This is not a situation like the kid that was attacked by similar kinds of dogs out on the street," Dragovic said, referring to a Dec. 2 incident in Detroit where a 4-year-old boy was mauled to death after dogs escaped a home. In the Detroit case, the dogs' owner is charged with murder.

Grattan said he's trying not to pay attention to the controversy surrounding Hardy's death.

"It's so much about the pit bulls that it seems like it's not so much about my fiancée anymore," Grattan said.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Did You Know That It’s Not Unusual for Older Pets to Develop Behavioral Problems?

As with people, it’s not unusual for older pets to develop behavioral problems. While it’s easy to blame these behavior changes on age alone, they can also indicate underlying medical problems. Make sure your elder pet visits her veterinarian as recommended, and that you call the veterinarian to discuss any noticeable changes in her behavior! These can be key indicators of underlying medical issues that should be addressed.

Causes of Behavior Changes in Senior Pets
Behavior problems can result from changes in your pet’s routine, illness, disease, senility, or cognitive dysfunction. Any change in lifestyle for a pet can be stressful, regardless of age, and as your pet gets older, she is less equipped to adapt to changes in her environment. Sometimes, simple life changes such as the introduction of a baby to the house, a new family member, or the absence of an individual can drive behavior change.

Medical and degenerative problems can also cause a behavior change in your pet, since changes within the major organ systems can influence behavior in many ways. Diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and endocrine disorders all influence your pet’s behavior and personality. As your pet ages, her hearing and sight are affected. Often, this influences their ability to react, sometimes causing him to become fearful. Additionally, pets, like people, can become arthritic, which causes discomfort and can lead to irritability and a change in attitude.

Your pet’s brain is also susceptible to age-related changes. Degenerative processes in the brain can impact your pet’s personality, memory, behavior and even her ability to learn. Your pet may show varying degrees of cognitive function, from minor changes to significant senility.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Senior Pet

Remember, sometimes small changes in behavior can be an early indicator that your friend is in pain, is ill, or has a degenerative disease. These subtle signs should be reported to your veterinarian right away!

In addition, keep an eye out for the following symptoms, which could be an indication that something is not right for your pet:

  • Increased drinking/urination
  • Loss of bladder control (dribbling urine or bedwetting)
  • Changes in bowel movements or frequent digestive upsets
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Sores, lumps, or shaking of the head
  • Bad breath or drooling
  • Dry, red, or cloudy eyes
  • Coughing, excessive panting, or labored breathing
  • Lack of enthusiasm for normal activities
  • Stiffness or soreness
  • Changes in weight Disorientation
  • Tremors or shaking
Determining the Cause of Your Pet’s Behavioral Changes

If your pet is showing signs of age-related behavioral changes, your veterinarian will take a complete history of her behavior and thoroughly examine her. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend the following tests to rule out organ disease and other age-related conditions that could be the cause of the behavioral change.

These may include:

  • Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
  • Antibody tests to identify if your pet has been exposed to vector-borne or other infectious diseases
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to rule out blood-related conditions
  • Electrolyte tests to ensure your pet isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
  • Urine tests to screen for urinary tract infections and other diseases, and to evaluate the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine
  • A thyroid test to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too little (in the case of dogs) or too much (in the case of cats) thyroid hormone
  • An ECG to screen for an abnormal heart rhythm, which may indicate underlying heart disease
Preventing Behavioral Problems in Your Aging Pet

Many behavioral issues our older friends have can be resolved or controlled. Vigilant attention and early detection, as well as other treatments including medication, supplements, and diets, can help treat or greatly slow the progression of many disease conditions and help our furry friends live longer and happier lives.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

New Research Suggests Petting Might Stress Out Some Felines

If your cats resist cuddling, it may be for good reason. New research suggests petting might stress out some felines.

What's more, cats living in a multi-cat home may be better equipped to deal with the strains of domestic life than their solitary peers, the study researchers found.

A group of researchers aimed to find out whether there is any truth to the assumption that cats kept as single pets are more likely to have a better life than cats that share their home with other felines. 

"Many people keep groups of cats in their home and although they might seem happy together, some people have argued that because this is an unnatural setup, it is not good for their welfare," Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary behavioral medicine at England's University of Lincoln, said in a statement. "Our research shows this is not necessarily the case."

For their study, conducted in São Paulo, Brazil, Mills and colleagues collected data on 23 single-cat households, 20 two-cat households and 17 households with three or four cats. The owners completed surveys about their pets' personalities and behavior, and they also handed over samples of their felines' feces, which contain telltale traces of a stress hormone.

The cats' stress levels didn't seem to vary significantly as a function of their personality type. (The researchers had the owners rate their cats as bossy, timid or easygoing.) But younger cats (those less than 2 years old) living on their own were generally more stressed than younger cats sharing their home, the study found.

The researchers speculate that even if cats living under the same roof don't seem too chummy, they might be able to organize themselves in such a way as to avoid each other, and thus avoid stress.

"Also, and I think very intriguingly, our data suggests that cats who tolerate, rather than enjoy or dislike being petted, seem to be the most stressed," Mills added in a statement. The researchers think this finding suggests the cats that don't like petting can avoid the affectionate hand of their owners if there are other cats in the house that enjoy or tolerate petting.

The researchers warned their results should be treated with caution since there were only four cats in the study that disliked petting, according to their owners, while 13 were put in the "tolerating category" and 85 in the "enjoying" lot.

If anything, the researchers say their results highlight the importance of giving individual pets control over their environment, and cat owners shouldn't impose themselves on their pets.

"If you have several cats you should give them the choice of sharing or having their own special areas to eat, drink and go to the toilet," Mills said.

The results were detailed in the journal Physiology and Behavior.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Why Does Your Dog Yawn?

Picture of dog yawning
(PETS/DOG BEHAVIOR/PUPPIES) Many pet guardians become concerned with the amount of yawning displayed through their dog or puppy’s habits. Is it possible that dogs are that tired all the time? The Dogtime article below reveals the meaning behind dogs’ yawns, and explains how yawning can actually be a form of communication between you and your pet. — Global Animal

To read more on this story, click here: Why Does Your Dog Yawn? FOLLOW US!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Your Pet Says More About Your Personality Than You Might Think

Cat people and dog people really do have different personality traits, new research suggests. People who own cats tend to be more creative, adventurous, and anxious. Dog owners, on the other hand, tend to be more extroverted, secure, and risk-averse.

Those differences were seen in a fascinating new study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley and California State University, East Bay.

To read more on this story, click here: Your Pet Says More About Your Personality Than You Might Think FOLLOW US!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Choosing the Right Pet for You

Sharing your life with an animal has great benefits and can bring you great joy. If you are thinking about adding a pet to your family, it’s best to learn about the needs of different types of pets to find one that will best suit your lifestyle.

Each type of pet is different in terms of care, feeding, behavior, cost, housing and demands on your time. If you know what you’re getting into, you’ll be more likely to have a happy animal, a good relationship with your pet, and an easier time dealing with any challenges that might arise.

To read more on this story, click here: Choosing the Right Pet for You

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Does Your Dog Snap/Growl When You Reach for Their Food/Toy?

Five things to do when your dog guards a toy, bone, treat, or bed.

Resource guarding may be a natural, normal dog behavior, but it’s alarming when your own dog growls – or worse, snaps – at you over his resource. Resist your first impulse to snap back at your dog. Instead, do this:

A fake hand, mounted on the end of a stick, is used to safely assess whether this dog guards his food – obviously, he does! If a dog habitually or intensely guards food or other resources like this, find an experienced, positive behavior professional to help you. And employ scrupulous management to keep everyone safe!

1) Stop. Whatever you did that caused your dog to growl, stop doing it. Immediately. If you were walking toward him, stand still. If you were reaching toward him, stop reaching. If you were trying to take the toy or bone away from him, stop trying.

2) Analyze. Your next action depends on your lightning-fast analysis of the situation. If your dog is about to bite you, retreat. Quickly. If you’re confident he won’t escalate, stay still. If you aren’t sure, retreat. Err on the side of caution. Complete your analysis by identifying what resource he had that was valuable enough to guard, and what you were doing that caused him to guard.

3) Retreat. If you already retreated because you feared a bite, go on to #4. If you stayed still, wait for some lessening of his tension and then retreat. Here’s the dilemma: dogs give off guarding signals – a freeze, a hard stare, stiffening of the body, a growl, snarl, snap, or bite – to make you go away and leave them alone with their valuable objects.

Your safety is the number one priority, so if a bite is imminent, it’s appropriate to skedaddle. However, by doing so you reinforce the guarding behavior. “Yes!” says Dog. “That freeze worked; it made my human go away.” Reinforced behaviors are likely to repeat or increase, so you can expect more guarding next time.

If, instead, you are safe to stay still and wait for some relaxation of tension and then leave, you reinforce calmer behavior. “Hmmmmm,” says Dog. “Relaxing made my human go away.” If you can do this safely, you increase his relaxation when you are near him and decrease his guarding behavior.

4) Manage. Give your dog guardable things only when you won’t have to take them away. Crates are good places for a resource guarder to enjoy his valuable objects. When he’s crated with good stuff, don’t mess with him, and don’t let anyone else mess with him. When small children are around, put him away – for his sake and theirs – since you may not always know what he’ll decide to guard, especially when kids bring their own toys to play with.

5) Train. Work with a good, positive behavior professional to modify your dog’s guarding behavior so he no longer feels stressed when humans are around his good stuff. Teach him to “trade” on verbal cue for a high value treat such as chicken, starting with low value objects and working up to high value, so he’ll happily give you his things on cue when you need him to. Out-think your dog. Resource guarding behavior is not a good place for a battle of wills.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Does Your Dog Bark Excessively? Tips on How to Prevent and Stop The Excessive Barking

Prevent and Stop Excessive Barking

Once you determine the cause of your dog's excessive barking, you can begin to control the behavior. The best way to prevent excessive barking in the first place is to try and remove any potential sources of the behavior. You also want to be certain not to inadvertently encourage the barking. Finally, give her better things to do besides barking.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise so there is not as much pent-up energy to burn by barking.

Avoid leaving a lonely dog alone for long periods of time if possible.

Never comfort, pet, hug or feed your dog when she is barking for attention or out of anxiety - that would be rewarding the behavior, thus encouraging it.

Shouting at your dog to stop barking does not help. It may actually cause her to bark even more.

Avoid punishments like shock collars. They are not only painful and unkind - many dogs will learn to test them and eventually work around them.

Try to get her attention with a clap or whistle. Once she is quiet, redirect her attention to something productive and rewarding, like a toy or treat.

After getting your dog's attention, practice basic commands, like sit and down in order to shift her focus.

DO NOT let your dog bark constantly outside, regardless of the reason. You can hardly train her to stop barking by yelling at her across the yard. Plus, it is one of the fastest ways to turn neighbors into enemies and send an invitation to your local police. Train your dog to Speak and Be Quiet.

Consult your veterinarian and/or trainer if you continue to face barking issues despite your best efforts.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Do You Know These Cat Facts and Myths?

Cats have fascinated humans ever since the day, probably about four thousand years ago, the first domestic cat made himself at home on the hearth by the fire. From ancient times to our modern age, myths and superstitions have surrounded cats. The ancient Egyptians worshiped them as gods, but people in later centuries feared them as harbingers of witchcraft and evil.

In today's high-tech world, we may think we've outgrown such fables. Yet a surprising number of modern-day myths about cats persist.

Did you know that the following are feline fables, not facts?

Cats are "No-Maintenance" Pets:
Because cats are litter-trained, some people think that simply giving their cat food and water is enough. Not so. Cats also need regular veterinary care and, just as important, lots of love and attention.

Cats Always Land on Their Feet:
While cats can often land on their feet after a short fall, falling from heights is another story. Upper-level windows and porches, unless securely screened, should be off-limits to cats, particularly in high-rise buildings.

Cats Can't be Trained:
Cats will, of course, do things their way if left to their own devices. But most cats can be taught to obey simple rules like not scratching the couch, eating plants, or jumping up on the kitchen counter. Repeated, gentle, and consistent training gets results. Also, if a cat understands the rules and has an approved outlet for her scratching impulses, such as a sturdy scratching post, there will be no need to have her declawed, a painful and unnecessary operation.

Cat's Aren't Happy Unless They Can Go Outside to Roam and Hunt:
Cats like to play, prowl, and pounce, and they can do all those activities indoors with you and a few toys -- without being exposed to predators, disease, traps, poison, and traffic.

Cats Become Fat and Lazy After They are Spayed\Neutered:
Cats, just like people, generally become fat because they eat too much and don't get enough exercise. The fact is, cats who are spayed or neutered live longer lives and make better companions. And they don't contribute to the pet-overpopulation problem in this country, where millions of unwanted cats and dogs are destroyed every year. There's no need to wait until a female cat has had a litter to have her spayed; it can be done before her first heat cycle.

Cats Can See in the Dark:
Cats cannot see in total darkness any better than a person can. They can see better than other animals in semidarkness, however, because of their eyes' anatomy.

Cats Don't Need to Wear a Collar and Tags:
An identification tag is a lost cat's ticket home. Every cat, even an indoor cat, should wear a collar with an ID tag to help him come home if he is lost.  Many cat owners believe a collar can injure a cat. But a breakaway collar lets a cat escape if the collar becomes snagged.

Cats Who Disappear for a Couple of Days Are Just Out Hunting; There's No Need to Worry:
The prolonged disappearance of any pet is cause for alarm. Cats are no exception, and as domestic animals, they cannot cope with the dangers posed by the outdoors. For their own safety and well-being, cats should always be kept indoors, but if your cat does somehow become lost, he needs to be looked for immediately -- before it's too late.

Cats Will Suck the Breath from Sleeping Infants:
Curious by nature, a cat may want to climb into the crib to see what new manner of squalling creature her family has brought home. But she won't suck the baby's breath. She may feel a little jealous, however, so introductions should be gradual. Lots of lavish attention will also help reassure her that she's still an important member of the family. Cats can suffer from sibling rivalry, too!

Cats Are Aloof, Independent Animals and Don't Really Want a Lot of Attention from Humans:
Cats are domestic animals because they live in the home. They crave human companionship and establish loving bonds with their human families. They may not always show it, but that's just the feline way. If you toss the cat outdoors, or spend little time with him, you'll never know the rewarding -- and very special -- relationship that comes from making a cat a true member of the family.


Do You Know These Dog Myths That Can Lead to Mishaps?

Why is it that dogs are often at fault and take the blame for human ignorance and/or error? There are some commonly held myths that are simply old wives tales, urban legend, or perhaps a combination of both.

Myth: Petting a Dog Because He’s Cute

Fact: Well, not always. I recall a dog trainer friend asking me one time if I liked strangers to hug me without warning. Apparently, dogs don’t like it very much either. I’ve gone so far as to ask someone if I can pet their dog or if he or she is friendly. Though dogs can behave differently if startled or provoked, one should never pet a dog without asking his owner first and only if the dog is exhibiting proper body language that being petted is acceptable. A dog whose ears are back or whose tail is tucked between his legs is clearly telling you to back off. If a dog feels threatened, he will bite.  Come to think of it, I might, too, if you extend an uninvited hug.

Myth: Letting a Dog in a Car Alone “Just for a Few Minutes” Is Safe

Fact: The key words of “dog in a car alone” speak volumes. Dogs should never be left alone in a car. In the warmer months, a car acts as a greenhouse and can cause harm and even death to pets. During the colder months, dogs can freeze to death even in a short period of time. Cars act as a refrigerator in cold months. A dog alone in a car, no matter the season, is a target for thieves. Just don’t do it.

Myth: Dogs do not absorb antifreeze or harmful chemicals on walks through their paws.

Fact: A dog’s pads are more resilient than other parts of his body, but chemicals can be absorbed through them. In turn, chemicals like antifreeze can be licked by dogs and cause severe problems. Wipe dog pads off thoroughly after a walk, perhaps using some warm water and a washcloth to melt any ice balls that may have formed on the feet.

Myth: I Can Tie My Dog Up Outside the Store While I Shop

Fact: You basically give your dog away to whatever stranger wants him. My grandmother used to say, “If all your friends are planning to jump from a bridge, should you do it, too?” Well, just because a pole is available in front of a store does not mean a dog should be tethered to it. You expose your dog to strangers, those with ill intentions, and those who will take your dog, run far away, and never look back. Just don’t do it.

Myth: Dogs in shelters who cower and seem afraid will not make for good pets.

Fact: If your life has been turned upside down at the hands of people, it makes sense that any creature would shy away from strange humans. Imagine being tossed in a kennel if you never knew the insides of one before. If you came from an abusive situation or fear loud sounds, cowering is likely. Dogs in shelters that exhibit fearful behavior just might need some TLC, proper training, to build trust, and gain confidence that not all human beings are simply bad creatures.

Myth:  I Don’t Have to Brush My Dog’s Teeth if He Eats Kibble

Fact: If you eat hard food, you don’t have to brush your teeth either, right? Wrong! Teeth are teeth no matter if they are attached to a dog or a human. Dental hygiene is as important to a dog’s overall well being as much as plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and a good diet. Brush daily and never with a human toothpaste—ask your pet’s veterinarian for the one best recommended for your dog. Now and then, a professional dental cleaning may be warranted. At the very least, brush a few times a week. Kibble is not a toothbrush.

Myth: Rubbing a Dog’s Nose in Feces Teaches Him Not to Do it in the House

Fact: Not only is this disgusting and unsanitary, but it teaches the dog nothing except that excreting means his pack does a terrible thing to them. Dogs might start excreting in less apparent places of the home, and housebreaking turns into a nightmare. Positive reinforcement is key. Be patient, be kind, and be consistent but not at the expense of gross and bizarre behavior.