Cat Colds & Curing Kitty Congestion

When cats have the sniffles, you worry about curing kitty congestion. Cat colds are one of the most common health problems of kittens and adult cats. Feline upper respiratory diseases, sometimes called cat flu, often affect shelter and rescue cats. My cat Seren-Kitty also had a couple of severe bouts with kitty snorkles.

For more information about cat colds and dog coughs, see this post.

So far, Karma-Kat has only had sneeze-attacks one time. I’m always alert to any change in behavior, so even a normal amount of A-CHOO makes me pay attention.

I also recorded this post on YouTube if you’d prefer:

While there are preventive vaccinations available to help protect your cats, many kittens and cats become infected very early before they receive vaccines. Once infected, a cat may develop sniffles any time they become stressed. These tips can help relieve the sniffles and cat cold problems.

cat colds

Cat Colds & Curing Kitty Congestion

Has the annual outbreak of flu, sinus infections, and general creeping-crud attacked you this season? Hopefully, you’re safe from the COVID-19 virus that causes similar symptoms in people. Thankfully, the COVID virus and variants don’t routinely cause cat flu symptoms.

I’m washing my hands constantly and staying home with the fur-kids as much as possible. That’s one more positive about working alone at home–less contact with contagious folks. I’ve been told that the flu vaccination (always a good thing!) works well when given in advance, but of course, that depends on the type of flu. The dang bug keeps changing. *sigh*

A stopped-up nose and crusty eyes are not only miserable for humans, these signs in cats also cause a wide range of health problems in cats. Discharge that’s runny and clear usually goes away in a couple of days by itself. But any time it continues longer than that, or the discharge is cloudy or thick and clogs up the eyes or nose, a virus could be the culprit. Upper respiratory infections in cats (URI) also cause mouth and eye sores.

Complications of Cat Colds

Cats have more problems with congestion than dogs. The bugs that cause kitty congestion usually aren’t lethal in adult cats. But cats won’t eat unless they can smell their food, so they starve if they get a stopped-up nose. Home care not only keeps pets more comfortable, it often decides whether they recover or not. Learn how to encourage sick pets to eat in this post.

While we often fall in love with that poor little sick shelter kitten, an upper respiratory infection (cat cold) as a baby could mean relapses for the rest of the cat’s life. Just be sure you’re aware of all the facts when you adopt your kitten. 

Curing Kitty Congestion from Cat Colds

Just like with people, there’s no real “cure” for colds, but supportive treatment can help speed up recovery. It’s important for the comfort of your cat, too.

  1. Use a vaporizer to help unclog the nose. Put your cat in a fairly small room with a cool-mist humidifier and use it just the same as you would for a child a couple of times a day. That not only helps break up the congestion, it moistens inflamed or tender eyes and nostrils and make them feel better.
  2. If you don’t have a vaporizer or humidifier, a hot shower can work. Take the pet into the bathroom with you and run the hot shower so that the air becomes filled with steam. A 10-minute session several times a day works great. Don’t go for longer than that, though, because heated air for too long can be hard for some pets to breathe, especially short-faced Persians.
  3. If the nose is crusting over, or the eyes are sealing shut, use warm wet cloths or cotton balls to soak and soften the secretions and clean them off. Don’t peel dried matter off, because that can hurt or even form scabs.
  4. To soothe sore tissue after you’ve cleaned off the mucus, dab on a bit of plain saline solution, or some baby oil. That can also make it easier to clean away any more crusts that might form. I’ve also used Udderbalm (for cows).
  5. When thick secretions fill up the lungs it can be hard for pets to breathe even when their nostrils are clear. A technique called coupage helps break up the clogged matter so the pet can clear his lungs. It’s a French word meaning “thumping on the chest” and is often used to help children with Cystic Fibrosis breathe more easily. Hold your hand in a cupped position, and gently thump on either side of the cat or dog’s rib cage to break loose the mucus. Use coupage two or three times a day along with humidified air to ease the pet’s congestion.

FOLLOW-UP CARE FOR CAT COLDS

Refusing to eat can make cats sicker or even threaten their life. Wiping away the crusts and mucus to keep the nasal passages open helps, but offering pungent and more tempting foods can cut through congestion and spark the sick cat’s appetite.

Warm the food for five seconds in the microwave to just below cat body temperature—about 95 to 98 degrees. That not only makes the treat more alluring, it also unlocks the aroma so the food smells more pungent and penetrates even a stopped-up kitty nose. Moisture also helps enhance aroma, so try adding a bit of warm water, chicken broth, or tuna juice from the can to the cat’s regular food. Run it through the blender to make a mush, and there’s a good chance that will tempt his appetite.

In the past, many veterinarians recommended supplements with L-Lysine to help reduce the chance of URI flare-ups. More recent studies argue these supplements offer only marginal benefits and may even make symptoms from feline herpesvirus worse.  Ask your veterinarian for the latest recommendations. You can ask your vet about an off-label drug Famciclovir that’s shown promise in treating the condition. Meanwhile, supplementing your cat’s diet with a probiotic like Fortiflora can help by keeping digestion healthy.

Have your cats suffered from upper respiratory issues? How did you manage them? When vaccinated early as a baby, some of these bugs can be prevented but once they’re in the cat’s system, stress can cause an outbreak. Cats also are tough customers when it comes to “pilling” and medicating (although compounded medicine can help with that). What are your tips for nursing a sick cat? Please share!

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

How to Choose the Best Herbal Medicine for Pets: What’s Safe, What’s Dangerous for Dogs and Cats

In today’s world of cutting-edge medicine, we consider herbs for pets and herbal medicine to be old-fashioned. But holistic veterinarians continue to use herbs for pets because many of these plants are the foundation of modern drugs and medications, but don’t cause the same side effects.

Chinese herbal medicine has regained popularity for both human and pet care treatments. I learned a lot about them while researching my book NEW CHOICES IN NATURAL HEALING FOR DOGS AND CATS. And when the vet diagnosed Bravo-Dawg with hemangiosarcoma, I learned about I’m-Yunity, a Chinese herbal medicine treatment shown helpful in veterinary studies of the herb.

herbal medicineWhy Medicine from Herbs Works

Chemicals derived from herbs get isolated to a single ingredient that works quickly but can sometimes be too harsh. The original plant, though, has other components that buffer these effects. For instance, willow bark contains a chemical that works similarly to aspirin. But while aspirin can predispose to gastric ulcers, willow bark protects against them.

Most herbs contain active ingredients within their bark, seeds, roots, and leaves so a single plant could be effective in multiple conditions. For example, slippery elm not only can ease diarrhea, it also will soothe a sore throat. Because they have many active ingredients, but are relatively safe, herbs may be effective even when the veterinarian hasn’t been able to pinpoint what’s causing the problems.

Herbal Medicine and Drugs

Herbs are rarely used by themselves. They work well alongside conventional treatments. However, the chemical components of the herb may interact with the medications your cat or dog already takes. It’s always best to check with your vet about any herbal products before giving them to your pets. Sometimes, using herbal medicine allows the veterinarian to reduce the dose of conventional drugs (chemo, for example), because the herb increases the effectiveness of the medicine.

pet holistic medicine

Available as Ebook, print, and audiobook.

Be cautious with OTC products, as they’re not as well regulated as FDA-approved drugs. The strength of a given herb may vary and be much weaker—or even triple the strength—of the exact same herbal medicine from another company.

Here’s another dangerous scenario. A common drug given for heart problems is digitalis. The herbal remedy for heart problems is hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). If you give them together they can amplify the effects of both the drug and the herb and create an overdose that could potentially kill the pet.

How to Choose the Best Herbs for Pets

Herbs also come in many forms—fresh, dried, concentrated, or packed into capsules—and the form may be chosen based on the best way to administer to your pet. Even when the active ingredients are the same, herbs have different effects depending on how they’re prepared and packaged.

Bulk Herbs

Apothecaries sell bulk herbs as fresh green plants, as dried or as powdered. Fresh and dried herbs don’t last forever. Look for expiration or harvest dates on the label and give them the sniff test. If they smell dry or musty, they’ve probably given up their essential oils and won’t be as effective.

Store herbs in a cool dark place or they lose strength when they’re exposed to light and heat. Some herbs will react with chemicals in plastic containers, so it’s better to store them in glass, instead.

Liquid Herbal Medicine

Extracts and tinctures are concentrated liquid forms of herbs absorbed quickly by the body. You make teas and tonics by steeping bulk herbs in boiling water or sometimes in alcohol. Once prepared, the liquid herbal medicine easily mixes in a glass of water to pour on your pet’s food or administered directly into the mouth.

Tinctures made using alcohol taste bad, though. Alcohol preparations can be potentially dangerous (especially for cats!). For that reason, only a vet should prescribe herbal tinctures made using alcohol.

herbal pillHerbal Pills, Capsules, and Tablets

Herbal capsules and tablets are just as effective as fresh herbs but are absorbed less quickly by the body. When speedy action isn’t an issue, these are convenient to give to pets easy to pill.

What Else to Know About Herbal Remedies for Pets?

The strength of herbs varies from batch to batch due to differences in climate, soil conditions, and which fertilizers were used. The only way to be sure you’re getting the best quality every time is to rely on a reputable supplier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cataloged over 80,000 herbs. Choosing the right ones for your dog or cat challenges even the smartest among us. Think of herbs as medicines, so you MUST have a veterinary diagnosis to choose the best herbal medicine for your pet. Then you can ask your vet for a recommendation or seek a reputable source like PawHealer to ask for recommendations for a specific herbal remedy.


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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pet Vacation Options: Boarding, Pet Sitters, Stay-Cation?

Good pet vacation plans depend on the individual pet and your special circumstances. This past fall, when my mother became ill and then passed away, we need to find a pet boarding place for Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat to stay. Does your dog love riding in the car, meeting new people at the boarding kennel, hide from pet sitters, or become hyper around strangers? Maybe you’d like to learn about traveling with your pet.

Perhaps Chance the cat enjoys riding in the car but your brother’s dog hates kitties, or Grandma is allergic. Are pets more comfortable at a kennel away from your nephew’s hair-pulling fingers? Or does your pet go on a hunger strike if boarded?

vacation with pets

PET VACATION?

I can’t remember the last time that my husband and I had a vacation together, but I do remember how boarding my dog led to a broken arm (read on for that story!). Since that time, we make an effort to not be gone at the same time. There are times, though, when we must leave them behind, maybe not for vacation but other reasons.

Of course, if your dog suffers separation anxiety, you’ll want to address that as well. Cats aren’t immune to feline separation anxiety, either. And many cats seem to hate vacations and act out during your absence, or after you come home.

I’m very particular when it comes to who I trust to care for my furry wonders. Most pet parents are. It can be tough to find the RIGHT pet vacation service that doesn’t cost a furry arm-and-a-tail or that you don’t have to travel a great distance to find. Here are some options to consider for your cats and dogs.

Generational Difference Impact Pet Parents (And Pets)

A new-to-me company, Trusted Housesitters, conducted a recent survey that revealed surprising results. They compared Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen X & Z generations in how they relate to their animal companions.

Guilty Pleasure-ers: Millennials and Gen Z most willingly give up their guilty pleasures (social media, alcohol, coffee, sleeping in, and their favorite TV show) instead of leaving their pet in an overnight kennel for a week.

Excuse-Makers: Gen X and Boomers are 2x less likely to use their pet as an excuse than Gen Z and Millennials. Gen Z and Millenials are more likely to use their pet as an excuse to avoid social gatherings with friends.

Entertainment Ease: After their pet’s favorite toy, Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to play music to calm their pets, whereas Gen X and Boomers are more likely to turn on the TV. The most popular song mentioned as a pet favorite is “Who Let The Dogs Out?” (not a particularly calming piece of artistry!).

Helicopter Parents: After spending two years watching their pet’s every move, nearly one third of Millennial pet parents have taken to GPS/Activity collar devices to obsessively track their fur babies as they may head back into the office and social scene. I’ve heard from may pet lovers they now use cameras and apps to interact long-distance with their furries. You can learn more about the company to find out if you’d like to become a TrustedHousesitters Member!

pet vacation

“Don’t leave me!”

CATS WANT TO STAY AT HOME!

Some pets enjoy traveling with you on your vacation. Here are tips for teaching dogs to love car rides, and more tips on how to travel with pets here.
Cats typically hate vacations. The best choice for cats, paws down, is a pet sitter. That person can come into the home at least once a day, sift the cat box, check the food and water, and make sure Kitty hasn’t picked the window lock with his rabies tag and escaped into the great beyond. A pet sitter for your dog’s stay-cation works well, too. Learn more about pet sitter options here.

WHEN STAY-CATION WON’T WORK FOR DOGS

Veterinarians may have kennel space available for dogs or cats with health issues that need monitoring. Even if they don’t, ask your veterinarian for recommendations regarding boarding facilities.

Reputable kennels require proof of adequate health care, so get vaccination proof from your veterinarian in advance. The best of these boarding facilities offer home-like environments with sofas, playtime with other dogs, cat trees, videos of squirrels to watch, or even internet access for you to check in on them from the road. Of course, the more they offer, the higher the $$ too, so sometimes it comes down to whether you’ll fund holiday gifts for the rest of the family, or a stay-cation for your pet.

Some dog boarding facilities require animals to be neutered. That’s especially true for facilities that include doggy daycare options for pet interactions. Check everything first.

dog travelBE A RESPONSIBLE PET PARENT, TOO

Whether pets stay in your home or have a pets vacation at the kennel, be sure to leave caretakers detailed information. That should include each pet’s care needs, veterinary contact information, and emergency phone numbers where you can be reached. Leave your pets’ leash, medications and other “must-haves” in an easy access area and show the pet sitter where to find them, or provide them in the kit that accompanies your pet to their home.

Alert the neighbors that a pet sitter or family friend will be coming and going from your home so they won’t be alarmed at strangers in the neighborhood, and give the pet sitter your neighbor’s name and phone number. Talk with your veterinarian about signing a “just in case” authorization for medical care (you can designate the dollar amount). That way, emergency care is available and funded even if you are unavailable to give your okay in person.

I BROKE MY ARM BOARDING MY DOG

You think I’m kidding? Au contraire!

Years ago, we didn’t have many options when we traveled, other than to board our dog at the kennel. He always came home smelling funky like the kennel, too, and needed a bath. Today, of course, many facilities offer bath options before you pick up your furry wonder. That would have changed the outcome.

My first shepherd hated the kennel! Wish we’d had another alternative… Image Copr Amy Shojai, CABC

I gathered materials and persuaded my 70-pound Shepherd to get into the tub of sudsy, warm water. No sooner had I got him standing in the several inches of warm, sudsy water than the phone rang in the next room. Yes, this was long before cell phones…

I told my good-boy to “stay” and turned to go answer the phone. He wanted to follow me, dripping water and suds. Quick-like-a-bunny, I whirled to stop him–

And slipped on the wet linoleum, fell, and landed on one outstretched hand, and BROKE–MY–RIGHT–WRIST!

Now I’m on the floor, screaming (I’ve never felt such pain). A kennel-stinky-dripping-suds dog climbed on my lap, also crying, licking my face, probably thinks I’m dying Finally, I managed to wriggle out from under him, lever myself upright, get to the phone that has since stopped ringing, and call my husband at work to take me to the ER.

CHOOSE VACATION OPTIONS WISELY…

The dog never got his bath. I wore a right-angled cast for six weeks. So boarding my dog not only broke my arm, it killed several writing deadlines. These days, if we ever choose to board Bravo-Dawg, I’ll make sure to include a bath in the services before pick up.

How about you? What do you do when you hit the road? Do you board your dog? Take him with you on your travels? Engage a pet sitter for your kitty? Have you ever broken your arm bathing your dog? Do tell! Rover pet sitters may be a good option!


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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? 

NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Kitten Play Aggression: Stop the Madness!

Did you adopt a new kitten over the holidays? It never fails when a new kitten arrives. We oooooh and ahhh and the lil’ snuggle baby seduces us with purrs and sweet whisker kisses, and looks so darned innocent when she falls asleep on our lap. But all of that pet play antics means kitten play aggression is on the horizon.

kitten play aggression

Kitten play aggression can be relentless.

Yep, that wide-eyed wonder turns into the DEVIL CAT with claws out ambushing ankles and launching from hidden spots. When Seren was a baby (gosh, that was 21 years ago!) she used my legs as move-able scratching posts. Now Karma-Kat does the same thing, Ouch!

KITTEN PLAY AGGRESSION

The latest crop of kittens by now has reached the age when kitten play aggression takes over. If you don’t have other cats for her to learn better claw-and-teeth manners, you’re in for a rough few weeks. But she WILL outgrow the behavior. Learn more about how cats play on this post.

And remember, the way cats play greatly differs from the way puppies and dogs play.

Meanwhile, the Ask Amy tips below will help you keep your sanity.

I’ve lots more kitten care tips in the book Complete Kitten Care as well as the ComPETability: Cats behavior book. Your turn. I know a number of very cat-savvy folks follow this blog. What tips can you share about managing the kitten’s juvenile delinquent behavior? Do tell!



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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Puppy Temperament Tests: Understanding Puppy Testing

Many breeders and shelter workers swear by puppy temperament tests–or they swear AT them! Learn what puppy temperament tests offer, and how best you can use them to find the pup of your dreams. If a new puppy figures in your 2022 plans, take a look at what you need to know about puppy temperament tests.
FearChihuahua_1541404_original

What Are Puppy Temperament Tests?

When Magic was a baby, his breeder conducted a series of puppy temperament tests to better predict his future personality. Many professional breeders do this best match each pup to future owners. We won that lottery, in part because Magic was an opinionated, head-strong, smart-aleck pup with test indications predicting he’d make a great Schutzhund dog. Because we’d had a German Shepherd in the past, and my background in behavior, the breeder figured we’d know how to channel that drive. Even so, Magic still nearly drove us crazy when the normal delinquent behavior began! That’s when many dogs lose their homes.

Inappropriate expectations by prospective pet owners are a major risk factor for relinquishment. Owners fall in love with a barking bundle of joy, or a needy shivery stray. They dream of the Lassie-beneath-the-fur, but end up with a headstrong aggressive delinquent, or a clingy anxious pooch that eats through doors. That’s where temperament tests can help, not just for professional breeders, but also shelters and rescues.

Yorkshire terrier

ARE PUPPY TEMPERAMENT TESTS VALID?

Temperament testing strives to be a canine crystal ball to identify personality tendencies and predict potential problems. They measure different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness, and the pup or dog fails if he exhibits unprovoked aggression, panic without recovery, or strong avoidance. Once tested, puppies or shelter dogs are matched with owners. Better matches save dog lives and preserve loving relationships.

No test is entirely predictive of behavior in the new home because there are so many variables involved. Personality and temperament aren’t cast in stone at birth. Nature and nurture work together, making predictive tests even more difficult to measure. Early experience, socialization, development and the consequences of learning will all have an impact on behavior. Even the development stages of pups can change the outcome.

When Are Puppy Temperament Tests Conducted?

Temperament tests are typically conducted on puppies between seven and ten weeks of age. But a number of behaviors of personality might not emerge until the puppy matures. For example, a pup born with a slightly anxious temperament develops fearfulness shaped by the environment and experience. This suggests that testing for behaviors such as dominance, activity levels in novel situations and fearfulness might, therefore, have greater predictability after three months of age. The later the test, the more likely you are to get an accurate reading. Of course, by that time the puppy often is already re-homed.

Shelter dogs or others that repeatedly exhibit aggression when touched or approached in a nonthreatening manner, aggression to other dogs, possessive aggression and fearfulness on the screening tests, are at risk for continuation or re-emergence of these problems in the new home. They may develop separation anxiety, for instance.

Testing in a shelter environment adds stress that also skews the results, depending on how long the dog has been in the shelter, age and health of the dog, and more. There may be risks involved to those conducting tests, too, when the dog being tested lashes out–but designing tests that are safe for the tester may skew results as well.

Cute dog kissing a woman - isolated over a white background

How-To Guide for Puppy Temperament Tests

Here are some of the typical tests conducted on the 7-10 week old puppy:

  • Cradle pup on his back like a baby, place a hand gently on his chest and look directly in his eyes. Pups that accept this handling are considered biddable, while those that resist are more likely to be independent-minded.
  • Hold pup suspended under her armpits with hind legs dangling, while looking directly in eyes. Again, those pups that submit are said to have a low score for willfulness, while those that struggle may want to do things their own way.
  • Drop keys or tin pan to test him for noise sensitivity.
  • See how pup reacts to a stranger entering the room–or to being left alone in the room. Does she run and greet, or cower and cry?

Common Puppy Temperament Tests

Tests such as the AKC Canine Good Citizenship Test, STAR Puppy Program, the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT), and American Temperament Test Society are often used to assess temperament of family pets. These often are adult dogs in which the character has already formed. As of August 2019, the American Kennel Club also authorized its own AKC Temperament Test. Such evaluations might include:

  • Accepting a friendly stranger’s petting
  • Walking on a loose lead including through a crowd
  • Basic obedience–sit, down, stay, come when called.
  • Reaction to another dog
  • Reaction to distraction such as dropped chair or jogger running past

More specific tests might then be added to assess a dog’s suitability as a therapy dog, such as how he reacts to wheelchairs, people with canes, or unexpected body postures and movements.

Shelter Puppy Temperament Tests

Shelters often use behavior assessments to determine whether a dog can be re-homed. Failure can mean death to the dog. Although emerging evidence supports the premise that shelter dog assessment tests have some predictive value, many of these tests have not been adequately validated.

The ASPCA uses the SAFER assessment program developed by Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Dr. Emily Weiss, along with the Meet Your Match adoption programs. Mary Burch, Ph.D., a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, evaluated existing behavior assessment protocols and helped create the ADOPT shelter protocol–Assess Dogs on Practical Tasks. Such behavior assessments often rate such things as:

  • In-kennel and approach behaviors
  • Leash/collar and on-leash behaviors
  • Reactions to petting, handling, play and distractions
  • Reaction to other animals (e.g., dogs, cats)
  • Guarding of food or possessions

Some tests for aggression involve provocation–for instance, using a stuffed boxing glove or Assess-A-Hand (Sternberg protocol) to determine if the dog might bite. A child-like doll or Assess-a-hand may not accurately predict the dog’s response to the human hand or to children, but is safer for the staff during testing. In other words, dogs may willingly attack a fake hand or doll because they know it’s fake–but refrain from biting a real child or human hand.

SmilingPetDog_12329574_original

VALIDATING PUPPY TEMPERAMENT TESTS

Several years ago, child psychologist Margaret Shunick conducted two studies on temperament tests that did validate certain predictive generalities. In the first investigation, she chose a group of puppies that tests indicated would be bossy, willful adults. Half of these pups were given to new owners who were offered no comment or instruction about their personality. The owners given the remaining pups also received advice to teach them to behave with respect by requiring the pups to work for rewards such as sitting for a treat or a meal. The first group of owners given no instructions ended up with pushy, dominant-aggressive dogs. The second group developed into nonaggressive, respectful dogs.

Shunick conducted another temperament test project in conjunction with acquiring her master’s degree at the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy. She used the “Strange Situation” test originally for assessing temperaments of small children, and applied it to puppies. Children and their mothers–in this case puppies and their owners–are placed in a room with new toys. Shunick recorded puppy reaction when owners left the room, and found the pups fell into three broad categories:

  1. Couldn’t care less when owners left or came back perhaps indicating a tendency toward more independent, willful behavior or improper bonding
  2. Superneedy who whined and ignored toys when owners left and clung to owners when present, suggesting overattachment predictive of future separation anxiety
  3. Middle of the road paid attention to owners’ coming and goings, but not traumatized and enjoyed toys, suggesting a healthy attachment and easygoing personality without need of either firmness or coddling.

This work implies there is a way of singling out more pushy puppies, and those that probably would go on and develop separation anxiety. Even when you accurately predict the predisposition for separation anxiety, once in the new home the separation anxiety may fade away–or get worse. That has to do with the OWNER’S temperament.

Should You Perform Puppy Temperament Tests?

NEW-PUPPY-COVER-lorezSo even if you know what the dog’s doing, how can you predict the way that the owner’s going to be able to respond? Should this “driven” puppy be matched with a tough owner, or a kind owner? What about the shy pup? And how do you test the people to make sure? Predicting puppy temperament is only half of the equation, and the human half has life-and-death power over the partnership.

Temperament testing is effective to pick up the main tendencies of a dog especially if they’re extreme. But this also depends on whether people are testing properly. These tests can be abused, or misinterpreted, so the results can be wrong. In the final analysis, temperament testing is only as good as the tester.

Learn more about choosing and raising your perfect furry wonder in the book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE!

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!