My Pet Hates My Date! Teach to Accept Babies, Toddlers & Lovers

Pets are considered a part of the family, but what do you do when your kitty interferes with love and romance? When your dog hates your date, but you’re smitten, what’s a caring pet owner to do? Or perhaps you’re pregnant, and your longtime “fur-kid” acts jealous, or you worry Grandma’s pets aren’t used to toddler antics. The stress put on family relationships can make animal behaviors and communication go sideways, and turn a once loving pet bond into a dysfunctional relationship. Cats and dogs often lose their homes or lives when the bond breaks, unless you teach them to accept babies, toddlers, and lovers.

My two newest publications–currently KINDLE EXCLUSIVES–pack prescriptive advice into a short how-to guides that offer step-by-step instructions how to improve family relationships between babies, toddlers, kids and adults, and your furry family members. You’ll learn how to CREATE A FURRY LOVE-CONNECTION!
CatHatesDate

  • Why Cats and Dogs (Sometimes) Hate New People
  • Tips to Solve Pet Jealousy
  • Ways Cats and Dogs Show Love
  • The Health Benefits of Pets & Why Kids Benefit Most!
  • Pet-to-Baby Introductions
  • Pet-to-Toddler/Kid Introductions
  • Why “Acting” Like Your Cat or Dog Makes You a Great Romantic Catch

With a fun conversational tone and easy to use proven techniques, MY CAT HATES MY DATE! and MY DOG HATES MY DATE! helps ensure your loving bond remains strong and intact.

NOTE: If your sweetheart wants you to choose between him/her and your beloved dog or cat, suggest they read this book…before you show ‘em the door. :P Use the book as a “pet test” to teach dates how to win affection from your furry family members! And when you hear about concerns when a new baby will join the family, point ‘em to these tips.

What about you? How do you deal with your pets (or family member fur-kids) and the two-legged humans? Has anyone ever suggested you “get rid of the pets” for…whatever reason? Do tell!

DogHatesDate

 I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

How Pets Play, Why Cats Play, and What Dog Play Means

KittenJumpHow pets play and why dogs and cats play games fascinates the people who love them. Cat play, dog play and kitten games are exactly the same–only different–with identical purposes but variation in styles. :P These days, I have a front-row seat with the “old lady” Seren-Kitty doing her best to keep order, while Magical-Dawg and Karma-Kitten wreak havoc.You can’t help but smile or laugh out loud when the fur-kids throw a play-party.

Oh, and that picture (above) of the kitten vaulting over another? That’s Karma’s latest favorite hiss-inspiring activity. I call it his “drive by” when he races across the room, and LEAPS over top of Seren, creating feline angst and prompting her to chase-to-chastise the furry miscreant. Of course, that’s what Karma wants, to get the old girl to chase him. When she catches the big guy, he immediately flops on the floor while she yells cat curses at him, and paw-swats his face.

When that doesn’t work, Karma simply tackles Seren, using his 13 pounds to pancake her petite 6-pound frame to the carpet. You can almost see him smile as she yodels her outrage.

Karma is in kitty heaven.

He does something similar with Magic. Karma saunters up to my 90+ pound German Shepherd, crouches for a moment, makes sure the Magical-Dawg is watching, and then SPRINGS away to duck under furniture. Magic takes the bait and invitation, and sprints after him. It makes me tired to watch.

IS IT PLAY, OR AGGRESSION?

It can be hard to tell sometimes what’s “real” and what kind of play is “just fooling around.” In fact, both dog play and cat play can tip over into dangerous aggression if the pets get too wound up.

Dog and cat play use the same behaviors as hunting, attack, and aggressive behavior, but the pets use “meta signals” to let the other party know it’s all in good fun. For instance, dogs use the “play bow” with butt-end up and forepaws down to signal that everything that comes after this signal is not serious. Cats also can use a play bow, or roll on their back to solicit attention or a game.

Here’s a BIG clue. Doggy play includes growls, whines and barks. Cat play typically is silent. If your cats become vocal during play, it’s time to stop the games. And if both of the pets keep coming back for more, they’re likely just having a good time.

WHY PETS PLAY

In years’ past, the experts often ascribed play to be only the means by which juvenile animals practiced skills they’d need later as adults. Kittens played to hone hunting ability, while puppies played to strengthen muscles and practice various doggy techniques.

They neglected to mention that play, quite simply, is FUN! Cats stalk toy mice and kittens attack ankles for the pure joy, as an outlet for energy, stress reliever, and potent relaxation technique. Dogs steal socks and dance away out of reach, and play “tag” with owners, other animals, and even the reluctant cat. If you believe cats and dogs don’t laugh, just look more closely at your furry companion in the throws of blissful play.

Karma-Seren

Now 13 pounds and a year old, the play has slowed down, and 17-year-old Seren is grateful!

KITTEN PLAY

By four weeks of age, kittens practice four basic play techniques: play fighting, mouse pounce, bird swat, and fish scoop. The first play displayed by kittens is on the back, belly-up, with paws waving. Feints at the back of a sibling’s neck mimic the prey-bite used to dispatch mice (toy or real). Kittens also practice the simpering sideways shuffle, back arched high, almost tiptoeing around other kittens or objects. Soon, the eye-paw coordination improves to execute the pounce, the boxer stance, chase and pursuit, horizontal leaps, and the face-off where kittens bat each other about the head.

Karma has decided “riding” a towel dragged across the floor is great fun. Kitty sledding, anyone?

PUPPY PLAY

Puppy play can be similar, but while kittens use paws to tap-tap-tap objects and manipulate/test their surroundings, pups mouth–everything. By five weeks, puppies often carry things around. This ensures owners must be good housekeepers or risk losing wallets, underwear, and other important valuables. About the same age, pups begin playing tug-of-war with your pant leg, each others’ tails, and anything within reach.

Magic still loves to play keep-away. Thank goodness he only targets doggy toys and human socks these days, rather than (urk!) puppy poop.

Puppy and kitten play offers endless entertainment to them as well as watching humans. The awkwardness, intensity, and abandon of these antics give way to greater finesse and dexterity as the pet matures.

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ADULT PET PLAY

While adult pets play less than rambunctious babies, all dogs and cats play to some extent through their entire life. It’s not only fun for you both, but healthy as well. Keeping dogs and cats active and moving ensures they stay lean, and interested in the world around them.

At age 17, Seren still races laps around the living room and up and down the stairs. While she’d deny it, chasing the Karma-Kitten has brought a gleam back to her eyes and Seren really seems to enjoy the tag-team matches they play.

Now eight years old, Magic could play “fetch” literally for hours, with his ball, a stick, a stuffed toy–anything at all that fits into that grinning mouth. Frisbees are a favorite. In the summer, hose-tag keeps him happy. And of course, rolling on his back with a squeaky-chew in his mouth is right up there with treats. His most favorite game of all, though, is sniffing cat butt. Ahem.

Play is serious business for our dogs and cats. Take a lesson from them, and find time to play every day. In a stress-filled world, we all benefit from a daily dose of giggles. Play with your pets–and watch them smile from both ends. Just for fun, here’s a kitten fix, below!

So what special games do your cats and dogs play? Seren used to love to play “chase the feather” as it disappeared underneath a pillow. Are doggy (or kitty) games learned from each other? Do tell!

Find out more about kitten play and behavior in the book COMPLETE KITTEN CARE. And stay tuned for more puppy-licious info in the forthcoming book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE!

 I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Bunny Slippers With Teeth, Thrillerfest & Michael Palmer Tribute

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I had the most comfortable feet at the after-party!

I’m just back from Thrillerfest where my bunny slippers with teeth were again a hit–and one of my fav authors was honored in a Michael Palmer Tribute (scroll down for the video). As always, feeling revitalized, energized and writer-ized (is that a word?) for the future. Kathleen Antrim calls the event “Summer camp for thriller writers” and this year, the week-long event boasted Craftfest (for aspiring writers) including a Master Craftfest and insights from FBI experts; Pitchfest (where writers could “pitch” their book to agents); and culminated in Thrillerfest with still more panels for fans and authors to meet and greet, get books signed, and more.

After getting up at 4 a.m. Thursday to catch my plane, I was delighted to pick up my registration materials and discover no less than FOUR free books in the bag as a give-away. Wow. Then I attended a great add-on session and learned more about Apple and the iBookStore. You’ll notice I’m now an Affiliate and there’s even a nifty widget on my book page listing iBooks available. Or you can just click here and go directly to the iBookstore.

Thursday evening at the opening reception is a terrific time to reconnect with friends and meet new ones, and I had a lovely time. Much of networking takes place in the bar (ahem!) even if one doesn’t indulge in beverages.

Now, I planned for this trip for a year, plotted which sessions to attend, and prepared to “stalk” (in a good way!) all my favorite writers and readers. I got to meet Aubrey Hamilton from an online readers list when we decided to share room expenses (hey, she loves cats, too!). And then all my plans went sideways–and I was sick all day Friday, able to only attend one session, URK! Oh, how frustrating! I found out later that I wasn’t the only one afflicted with this–whatever it was. I even had to bail early during a meeting with my awesome editor Jen Talty–but we did have a great conversation then and later as well, and I’m eager to get plans ramped up.

Fortunately by the end of Friday, I’d finally recovered enough to go out to dinner with my thriller-gal-pal Paula Lanier, and new friend Stefanie Stolinsky at the Beach Cafe. Seriously, this is a fantastic restaurant and owner Dave Goodside makes everyone feel so welcome.

photo 1

Thrillerfest Panel: “WHAT MAKES AN ENDING UNFORGETABLE?” L-R (back row) Tom Young, Joanna Penn, Sean Lynch, Amy Shojai (front row) Ward Larsen, Donald Bain.

Saturday morning I felt great! The 8 a.m. Debut Breakfast was inspiring, this year with 24 new authors (and that many more in the program present in spirit). Just last year it was me up there in the dais, wearing my bunny slippers, and scared to death I’d never get my second book done. Steve Berry’s “second-book-itis” talk got me over the hump–check out the new review on HIDE AND SEEK!–and now I’m working on my third thriller, whoda-thunk-it? This year, Brenda Novak was the Silver Bullet Award Winner and speaker at the breakfast.

I had to slip out early to prepare as Panel Master for my 9:30 talk, WHAT MAKES AN ENDING UNFORGETABLE? Check out the picture, above, with the best possible lineup of author speakers ever! Wow, they made the time go fast, with great discussions and comments. Incidentally, those unable to attend can purchase audios of the presentation and I have to say this is one panel you won’t want to miss. :)

photo 2The author signings have to be one of the highlight of the event. Literally hundreds of authors sit elbow to elbow and sign books together, with Barnes and Nobel host bookstore providing the support. The one downside is the crowds at this time but it’s worth it to actually get to speak with your fav author, meet new ones, and share the love of reading with fans. I ended up with so many purchased and donated books that I had to ship them home, to keep the plane from being too heavy.

photo 3

Thriller buddies Kevin Singer, Paula Lanier and Jon Land.

photo 4The final Saturday evening reception leads to the Awards Banquet where the Thriller Awards are presented. I was honored this year to be on a preliminary panel to help choose the best Ebook original and urge you to make a point of reading ALL these winners! What a lineup! Read the list of winners here.

And the AFTER party goes on for hours and hours–and yep, that’s where I re-introduced the bunny slippers.

But the most moving event of the weekend for me was Daniel Palmer’s funny and poignant tribute to his father, Michael Palmer–authors and readers everywhere miss him, too, and we ALL want to be like him. I missed getting the first few seconds of the song, but here’s the rest of the tribute.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

Getting Cut: Bleeding Is Good For Writers & Pets

SunBirdBathLast week my writing routine (and income) took a major hit. Getting cut from my puppies.about.com site and getting cut or fired, in effect told you’re not wanted or needed, is pretty dang high on the suck-isity scale but BLEEDING IS GOOD FOR WRITERS — and by extension, bleeding is good for pets (figuratively speaking, of course!).

Anything truly beautiful and worthy of our passion has the power to cut. And anyone truly open to change and growth must be willing to sacrifice for their art–and yes, bleed.

SunBirdBath2It’s very easy to fall into a routine *cough* RUT *cough* and for creatives, that’s deadly. For me, time is the most precious commodity in both my work life and outside life. Wait, who am I kidding? My work life and “outside” life are joined at the hip and that’s not always such a good thing. There is always MORE to do. Those who are FB friends are familiar with my to-do lists, and self-promises of “once THIS is done, then THAT will happen” and…as long as the About-puppy-schtuff demanded more and more time, those reward-end-goals on the list wouldn’t have ever happened.

My husband commiserated with me about the lost opportunity and then surprised me by saying, “I’m glad it happened. You never would have quit. Now you can…(all those things on my list).” After about 10-seconds of surprised silence, I took a breath and simply said,

“You’re right.”

So what has happened this last week? Did I get through all the “wanna-do” wish list?” Not really. In fact, not much happened on the writing front other than a few more to-do lists (I now have a list of the next 6 books to write!) I messed around with SEO, wrote a blog post and newspaper column, read a lot of blogs, a couple of wonderful books, and finally–finally–admitted the need for a REBOOT.

TableTopThose who regularly read this blog know I love shiny objects, so it should be no surprise I love art glass. My home is filled with stained glass panels and lamp shades, and even the rose garden boasts half a dozen glass mosaic pieces.

GlassNookI even created a character in my Lost And Found and Hide And Seek suspense thrillers who works in stained glass. You know that stained glass table in September Day’s kitchen? It’s in my kitchen, and yes, I made it. By the way, the latest stop on the Hide And Seek Blog Tour posted here today.

PedestalTableThe garden and the mosaic work has been neglected. It also needed a reboot. So I spent the past several days cleaning, repairing and re-cementing a couple of bird baths and garden table and I count that as valuable writing time. I’ve found over the years that any creative endeavor feeds across into other aspects of my life. Playing music inspires acting endeavors, designing glass feeds the writing muse, playing new games with the fur-kids offers a rich abundance of song material. So over this past weekend, I wrote nothing–instead, I heeded the call of shiny-brilliant-glass, and ended up bloody but smiling for my efforts. When working with glass you must expect to be cut.

Magical-Dawg doesn’t hesitate to go all out to chase down, leap high, and snatch Frisbees from the air. He’ll turn eight years old this month, and I fear he’ll injure himself and so keep the toys low to the ground. Seren-Kitty at 17 weighs less than half as much as the kitten, and could be severely injured by him, but her newest joy is teasing and then reprimanding the young whippersnapper. Karma-Kitten has discovered the joys of (eeek!) stalking, chasing, leaping to catch WASPS, and again I try to get to ‘em first. Magic, Seren and Karma risk bleeding because the rewards outweigh the potential cut.

Hell, our cats and dogs take risks every day, just by loving clueless humans who may leave their hearts broken and bloody with disappointment — but oh, the risk is worth it when they can celebrate that Gotcha Day connection when dreams come true.

BrownBirdBath2Yesterday I spent all afternoon putting together fun bios and questions for this weekend’s Thrillerfest when I’m a Panel Master on Saturday, and get to paw-tograph my dog viewpoint fiction next to best selling thriller authors. (stay tuned for video & pictures!). Meanwhile, all the getting cut and bleeding over the past week has done its job–sores are still a bit raw but healing commenced, and with it, oh-so-much new energy, inspiration and joy to come!

BrownBirdBath3Maybe September Day needs a stained glass bird bath–or perhaps Macy and Shadow should deal with a new kitten in the next book SHOW AND TELL. Hmmnn.

Do you “bleed” for your passion? Have you had to do a career (or life) RE-BOOT? Do tell!

Magic-Karma

(All images Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC)

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

 

 

Dog Fears Fireworks? How to Fix Pets Noise Phobias

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Even patriotic pups can be frightened of fireworks. Copr. Lisa Calvert/Flickr

When a dog fears fireworks, it can destroy your fun July 4th celebration, so it’s vital to learn how to calm thunder phobias and noise fear in pets. More cats and dogs–and even livestock like horses–become lost on this day than any other when pets panic, go through windows, break tethers and leap fences.

Even safely contained pets shiver, moan, and feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy cats when they dive under the bed, but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior.

Ideally, pets can be counter-conditioned to the scary noises by exposing the fearful dog or cat to recorded sounds of fireworks played at a very low volume, and rewarding him for staying calm. Gradually, you increase the noise level, to help the pet “get used” to the noise and learn to tolerate it. Desensitization programs can take weeks and sometimes months to work, though. And for many of us, tonight will be the BOOM-ICITY deadline. So what can you do? And how do you know your pets are affected?

Fireworks

Image Copr. Bayassa/Flickr Commons

My mom’s Shelties used to act like furry jello as they quivered and dove for that dark safe spot under the bed. They’d squeeeeze between the sofa and the wall, or push faces into your armpits to hide.

But the Magical-Dawg could care less. Part of that, I think, has to do with the PUPPY-PARTEEEEE! WOW, WAS THAT LOUD, WHAT FUN! reactions I’d offer him each time the thunder boomed during his socialization months. Now, if a particularly loud thunder-clap startles me and I jump, he does look at me with eyebrows raised–ready to get wound up if I so much as “say” he should by my body language.

Karma is a bit different. The first loud thunderstorm we had, he RAN and then slowly ever-so-slowly crept out. And he watched what Magic did–nothing. And what I did–PARTEEEE! and treetz. Today he’s much less reactive.

Pets do read us. You have to be a really good actor around dogs (and cats) because they read our silent language with little effort. Do you speak dog? What do all those tail wags and woofs mean? Do you know what a doggy laugh sounds like? Different dogs “speak” in unique ways–how do your fur-kids tell you what they want?

PHEROMONE HELP

An innovative product designed specifically to help dogs deal with fear—especially noise phobias—employs a natural pheromone that dogs recognize on an instinctive level. Pheromones are chemical substances made by the animal’s body that act as a form of communication that, when inhaled by your pet, talks directly to his brain.

The product Comfort Zone with D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone) is an analogue of the pheromone mom-dogs produce to calm nursing puppies. It calms the fears of dogs of any age, from puppy to aging oldster. The veterinary version, Adaptil, is available from your vet while the Comfort Zone can be purchased from local pet product stores or via the Internet. Cats benefit from Comfort Zone with Feliway, an analogue of the cheek pheromone that tells cats their environment and territory is “safe.”

Both products come as plug-ins from pet products stores, but it won’t “drug” your dog or cat into a magic cure. It instead helps put a damper on fear long enough to “think” so that your behavior modification/training techniques can work. You’ll need to have these plugged in for several days in advance for it to offer your dog or cat the best benefits. They also come as a spray or impregnated collars for immediate use, and can be sprayed on bedding, for example

COVER THE NOISE

There are a number of things you can do. Cover up the “BOOM” or the thunder and rain sounds by playing music–harp music actually has a sedative effect (it may put YOU to sleep, too!). Turn the radio to static for white noise. At my house, we could pound the piano or play the cello or …SING and have a howl-along. It’s hard for a pet’s brain to do two things at once–be scared and have fun–so find something your pet loves that has some noise to it. Hey, isn’t a squeaker less obnoxious than hearing your baby-dog whimper and moan?

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Magic models Thundershirt…and thankfully, doesn’t need it. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

COMFORT CLOTHES

A number of products are available that are said to help out with fear issues. Thundershirt for dogs is one of the best known and most effective. I also have the Thundershirt for cats and it helps Seren-Kitty enormously during fearful events–like vet visits. Storm Defender Capes are another option, as well as Calming Caps. Some of these products will be available at your local pet products stores.

GIVE DOGS A JOB

Dogs can’t panic when using their brain for something else such as “work.” Drill him on obedience commands and special tricks, or ask him to play fetch and carry around a favorite toy. That engages his brain into productive activity rather than thinking about the scary noises. Giving him treats and positive rewards for remaining calm also reinforces the benefits of controlling his emotions. For instance, puzzle toys stuffed with fun treats the dog–or the cat–must manipulate to get at the goodies can go a long way toward keeping their mind off the fireworks.

Yep, at my house a treat or game of fetch or chase-the-feather goes a long way toward building confidence and rewarding good behavior.

Are your pets fearful of loud noises? What do they do? Have they ever damaged your house–or injured themselves or others during a panic attack? Is there a special way you handle the kitty or doggy panic attacks? Please share! Many more tips on dealing with fear in the books ComPETability (Dogs) as well as ComPETability (Cats).

Being scared kills the fun. Help your pets turn the fearful whimpers and scaredy-cat hisses into joyful purrs and wags, so your whole family (furry and otherwise) enjoy the 4th of July howliday. And have your fur-kids tell thunderstorms to “hiss off!”

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.