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DON’T Hug Your Dog on National Hug Your Hound Day! Here’s Why

DON’T Hug Your Dog on National Hug Your Hound Day! Here’s Why

Several years ago when I wrote for the puppies.about.com site (now TheSprucePets) I took issue with a promotion advertised by a big-name pet food company that encouraged people to post pictures of themselves hugging dogs. Hoo-boy…Oh dear heaven, by the comments I received you’d think that I said cute babies are evil, apple pie is poison and advocated BEATING YOUR DOG! Part of that has to do with folks reading only the title and ignoring the content of the message. Oh well. That drives home the importance of titles, I suppose.

The promo really struck a chord with pet lovers. After all, who doesn’t love a hug? Hugs mean love, hugs mean happy happy happy, hugs are tail-wagging expressions of the joy we share with dogs. Right? RIGHT?!

Uh, no. And glory be, the promotion lives on. Today, September 11, has been named “National Hug Your Hound Day.”

national hug your hound day

WHY HUGS CAN BE DANGEROUS

There’s a reason that veterinary behaviorists, dog trainers and savvy owners blanched when they learned about this promotion. Why is that? Because while hugs are a natural HUMAN expression of comfort and love, they can send the opposite signal to your dog.

Children get bitten in the face as a result of inappropriate dog interaction (often hugs). Learn ways to help prevent dog bites here. There are other safer, more appropriate ways to show affection to dogs that the dog actually prefers!

“Oh no, you stupid, clueless person–you’re wrong wrong wrong, because MY DOG loves hugs, and every dog I’ve ever had loves hugs and everyone that I know has dogs that hug them back and loves hugs and…” 

Good. In this case, I would LOVE to be wrong! If you have a dog that loves hugs and hugs you back, bravo. But that also begs the question, how do you know your dog “loves hugs?”

hug your houndDEFINING “HUGS” & WHY DOGS HUG

A hug is an embrace, right? Arms go around the body and squeeze–that’s a hug. When do dogs clasp forelegs around another creature and squeeze? I can think of three scenarios:

  • Mating/Dominance displays
  • Prey capture
  • Fights/play fighting

So when your dog “hugs” you, what is he saying? And what do your hugs tell him? As a vet tech years ago, I was taught the “hug-restraint” technique to immobilize dogs for treatment. I suspect the dogs were not fooled into thinking that expressed affection. Today, of course, we know better ways to reduce fear and anxiety in dogs so we don’t have to hold ’em down.

How do dogs actually show love? Here are common ways dogs show love.

Thank heavens our dogs for the most part are very flexible and forgive humans our sometimes clueless nature, LOL! I know that I’m grateful Magical-Dawg made allowances when I didn’t understand what he tried to tell me. At least with people, you can explain your intentions. That can be a challenge with dogs.

hug your dog

FORCING HUGSIS IT FAIR?

I don’t have two-legged children. But I’ve witnessed gatherings where babies and toddlers get passed around to strangers who hug, pinch cheeks, bounce up and down, and ooh-and-aw over the cuticity. I think we’ve all seen kids wail in protest or fall silent with fear while a clueless relative or acquaintance—or a pediatrician?–insists on continued “loving but unwanted attention.” When you were a kid, do you remember that certain relative who caused no end of angst because, as a kid, you had no choice but to put up with the hugs, smooches, and cheek pinches? At least with older children, parents can explain what’s going on and help guide the adult (hopefully) into less scary interactions.

As much as we want to believe they read our minds and understand our words, dogs misunderstand a lot—and we misunderstand an equal portion of what they say. Hugs are supposed to express affection and love. So if a hug causes stress, fear, discomfort to the dog you adore, is it fair to inflict those feelings because it “feels good” to the owner?

hug your dog day

BUT—MY DOG LOVES HUGS!

Yes, many dogs can learn to tolerate–or even love hugs from a trusted human. For those who have taken the time to do this, BRAVO! Many dogs also can learn to tolerate or love tooth brushing–so is it responsible for a company with dental products to promote sticking your hands in the dog’s mouth, or is it better to explain how to do so safely?

Magical-dog loved close contact. He often pushed his head and shoulders into my lap or squeezed his face under my arm. Was he asking for a hug? Shadow-Pup does the same. I suspect it’s this type of behavior that confuses many of us–but see, he controls that interaction. My arms haven’t come down around him to capture/hold/prevent movement. So some of the confusion, I suspect, has to do with semantics and how people define a hug.

How do you know your dog “loves” hugs? What does your dog do when s/he receives a hug? Do you know what each of these signals mean? Are you sure? Click on a link or two to see if you’re right!

Sorry—Not Sorry

Perhaps your dog loves hugs. That’s great. But my entire purpose with these blogs, my books, pet advocacy and more is to EMPOWER PET OWNERS TO MAKE INFORMED CHOICES.

To stand silent and do nothing hurts my soul. I was an expert witness more than a decade ago in a trial where a dog tragically attacked and severely injured a child—and they adored each other. We don’t know why (no witnesses to the attack), but I remember this case every time a clueless cute-and-fuzzy promo makes the rounds. Read about that in this blog post.

If hissing off some readers saves one child from the trauma of a bite, or one family from the heartbreak of losing a beloved dog by mis-reading intent—I’m fine with that.

Now then, I’ll don my flame-resistant sparkles and prepare for comments. Do your dogs like hugs? How do you know? For trainers and behavior folks out there, how do you help people understand safe dog handling? 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? 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!

Furry Fountain of Youth & Dog Senility: Reversing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Furry Fountain of Youth & Dog Senility: Reversing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

I’ve been blessed to share my life with two senior dogs, but only Magical-Dawg showed signs of dog senility, also known as canine cognitive dysfunction. Yes, both dogs and cats can suffer from a form of dementia, that some might described as a type of canine Alzheimer’s disease. Dogs aged 11 to 16 are most likely to develop Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), sort of the doggy version of Alzheimer’s Disease. CCD is a medical condition in which a starch-like waxy protein called beta amyloid collects in the brain and causes behavior changes. Here’s what you need to know and ways to slow down potential dog senility.

senility

Magic’s canine senility signs reversed for a time with the right diet.

Signs of Dog Senility

Dogs cared for throughout their early years live longer than ever before. It’s not unusual for Toy-breed dogs to live into their mid-to-late teens and even big dogs today enjoy a decade or more of happy life with a loving owner. A longer life, though, can leave your dog befuddled when canine brains turn to mush.

Affected dogs become disoriented, wander, cry and pace, and can become lost in the house when out of your sight. Their behavior can change from confident to frightened, and the awake/sleep cycles may turn upside down. Dogs can forget house training, how to find the door or be unable to tell you when they need to “go.” And most heartbreaking of all, senile dogs lose interest in petting, ignore their beloved owners or furry friends, and might not recognize you.

Treating Dog Senility

While there’s no cure for CCD, the drug Anipryl (selegiline hydrochloride) is FDA-approved to treat cognitive dysfunction in dogs. According to veterinary researchers, about 1/3rd of treated dogs return to normal, another 1/3rd improve, and the final 1/3rd aren’t helped at all. There also are special diets designed to help turn back the clock on canine senility. Bright Mind dog food helped Magic a lot! Sadly, even improved dogs eventually revert and again develop senility signs.

A longer life is not necessarily a better life, especially if your dog no longer recognizes you. But there are ways to help your dog stay connected with the world and ward off signs of CCD, simply by exercising his brain.

Brain function studies in dogs proved that problem-solving activities kept them sharp, connected to the world around them, and even extended their lifespan. Just as with people, canine mental and physical stimulation drastically improves your dog’s cognitive function.

dog senility7 Tips To Keep Canine Brains Youthful

“Use it or lose it” applies to dogs just as it does to humans. Don’t delay. Keep dogs both mentally and physically spry from puppyhood on. That helps prevent or at least slow brain aging changes. Here are tips to keep King mentally spry into his old age.

  1. Make Play A Daily Treat. Interactive games keep your dog engaged with you and reward him for responding. Toys don’t need to be expensive, either. Old socks become tug toys and used tennis balls work great for fetch. They’re even more attractive if old and they smell like the owner. Read more about how pets play.
  2. Slim Pudgy Pooches. Overweight dogs have trouble exercising and avoid moving which can allow joints—and brains—to rust. Ask your vet for a slimming program that’s safe for your overweight canine. Fortunately, our current dog, Shadow-Pup hasn’t had a weight problem and continues to have a waist. I just wish that I had the same metabolism! Learn more tips for slimming pudgy pets here.
  3. Adopt Another Pet. Proper introductions of a playful younger cat or dog can serve as a furry fountain of youth to an old-fogey dog. Even if he’s irked at the young whippersnapper, keeping Junior-Pet in line can keep your dog sharp. When we brought home Magical-Dawg, he helped keep Seren-kitty active. Yes—cats can also suffer from senility, and by the time Seren reached 21 years, she displayed signs of kitty dementia.
  4. Practice Commands. Just because he’s old doesn’t mean he can’t perform. Practice the pleasures that make King’s heart leap for joy—for obedience champions, put him through his paces. If he has trouble, adjust the Frisbee toss or vault heights. Make necessary accommodations so he can still succeed and feel like the champion he is.
  5. Treats for Tricks. Teach the old dog new tricks using healthy treat rewards. Make treats smelly so he won’t have to strain old eyes to see.
  6. Give A Challenge. Puzzle toys that dispense treats turn meals into fun games. For food fanatics, puzzle toys encourage activity and brain-teasing challenges that exercise problem-solving abilities.

Planning For What-If…

We can’t predict any dog’s lifespan. Our beloved Bravo-Dawg succumbed to bone cancer before the age of three and never had the chance to reach senior status.

But when a special dog reaches senior citizenship, we treasure our time together even more. My first GSD lived just over 13 years, and Magical-Dawg barely made it to eleven before we lost him. Keeping your dog mentally active helps keep dogs connected with life—and us. And that ensures their golden years sparkle.

How do you keep your older dog’s brain nimble? Are there special games or activities that you enjoy doing together? In one of my thrillers, a tracking dog still has the “nose” despite his age—and I based that on an interview with a tracking dog Bloodhound (profiled in the Aging Dog book) who continued to track even though he’d gone blind! Of course, you can find all the must-knows about old dog care in the book. But many tips are common sense–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?  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!

Is Your Puppy Chewing? Here’s How To Stop Dog Chewing

Is Your Puppy Chewing? Here’s How To Stop Dog Chewing

FCC noticeChewing is normal behavior for dogs—and for some cats. You can’t stop dog chewing, and shouldn’t try. Puppies and kittens test their world the same way human infants do. Everything goes into the mouth. Teething youngsters chew objects to relieve the discomfort, but adult dogs rarely outgrow the habit the way (we hope!) people do.

I last wrote about canine chewing when Bravo came to live with us as a new pup. He chewed everything within reach (Oh, my poor coffee table!), including chew toys. We still have Magic-markers on the baseboard and plaster from our last beloved dog. Now we have to re-do flooring in the laundry room, courtesy of Bravo-Dawg.

These days, we THINK we have a handle on Shadow-Pup. We have to really watch him, though, because Shadow likes to chew sticks–yikes!–and has already got one piece caught across the roof of his mouth. When you have a baby-dawg, or even adult canines, it can be a constant struggle to monitor them for safe chewing.

Dog chewing is a fact of life and learning how to stop puppy chewing can save your relationship, and sanity. If you have a new puppy, or even an adult dog with a chew -aholic habit, a primer on chewing basics may be welcome about now!

Puppies begin chewing very early in life. It helps those baby teeth come in, and later, feels good when the permanent teeth erupt. But even adult dogs chew for recreation. It just feels good! Learn more about puppy development here.

What’s the worst thing your dog ever chewed up and destroyed? Some items may seem funny–like stealing socks–until Monster Pup eats it and it takes emergency surgery to get it out. Our first dog chewed my husband’s brand new steel toed work boots that had cost a mint–not funny. And Magic  left teeth marks on the windowsills. I call them Magical-Markers! Urk.

chewing

This Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy loves army boots

How To Stop Puppy & Dog Chewing Behavior

You can’t stop puppy chewing because it’s normal dog behavior. Puppies don’t chew your prized possessions because they’re mad at you. They instinctively use teeth the way human babies reach out with tiny fists. Your puppy chews to explore the world, to manipulate objects, to relieve boredom, and because it feels good.

Destructive chewing still makes owners howl. Years ago I hobbled for weeks when my pup gnawed a quarter inch off just one of my high heels.

He also chomped my husband’s favorite property—the TV remote. He targeted items that smelled like us to feel closer to us, and soothe puppy loneliness, but we still didn’t appreciate the compliment!

Dog Chewing Dangers

Chewing gets pups in trouble when they aren’t provided with legal chewing opportunities, and forbidden objects are left within reach. Puppy chewing can break teeth, result in dangerous swallowed objects, or burns and electrocution if Junior bites an electrical cord or eats a poisonous plant. If your dog swallows something he shouldn’t, hopefully, he’ll vomit. Teething increases the urge to gnaw because it relieves sore gums, but dogs usually continue the habit into adulthood.

Don’t try to stop it. Instead, prevent puppy chewing problems by removing temptation, and offering lots of better (legal) opportunities. Refer to these 8 tips to manage your puppy’s gnawing habit.

dog chewingTraining Tips to Stop Puppy & Dog Chewing

      • Puppy Proof the House: Getting a new puppy forces us to become better housekeepers. Keep tempting objects like shoes, handbags, tissues, and your child’s favorite stuffed toy safely out of reach.
      • Confine the Pup: When you can’t supervise, provide a “safe” room that has no dangerous or forbidden temptations. Baby gates work well to control puppy access and can block off a hallway, stair, or room.
      • Use Repellants: Products that taste nasty can keep puppy teeth at bay. Bitter Apple applied to electrical cords helps train pups to leave dangerous items alone. Many dogs find the scent of Vicks Vapo-Rub offensive. Paint Vicks on wooden baseboards or apply to cloth draped over other forbidden targets to keep puppy teeth at bay.
      • Don’t Confuse Him: Puppies can’t always tell the difference between your new designer sandals and the “legal” old slipper. It’s best to offer chew toys he won’t confuse with forbidden objects. Nylabone makes some popular puppy teething toys.
      • Make A Trade: Chasing a pup to retrieve your stolen wallet becomes a great game of keep-away, and can teach your smart-aleck pup to swipe things to invite a tag marathon. Instead, when you catch your pup chewing a forbidden object, tell her “no.” Offer an irresistible legal chew toy (maybe filled with liverwurst?) as a trade. Make the chew good for the teeth, to help with dental health.
      • Offer Puzzle Toys: Rubber chew toys with openings stuffed with healthy treats keep puppies interested and on target. Some are mint or peanut butter scented to be more appealing. Fill up puzzle toys like Buster Cube, and Kong products with soft food, peanut butter or commercial treats designed just for puppies.
      • Provide Chewies: Healthy chews or edible “dental” chews come in all shapes and sizes, complete with a variety of powerful scents and flavors. Soak rawhide in warm water and zap in the microwave for ten seconds to soften the leather and make it more pungent for tiny puppies. Monitor rawhide fun, though. Larger pups gnaw off and swallow pieces, and eating too much rawhide spoils appetites and may prompt constipation or even blockage. My Shadow-Pup loves dehydrated fish skins–pungent, tasty, and digestible. Bully Sticks are usually a good option.

  • Rotate Toys: Puppies get bored with the same-old every day. Provide at least three to five “legal” options for your chew-happy baby and rotate a couple of times a week. That keeps puppy happy, your precious belongings undamaged, and your fur-kid safe despite himself.
Dog chewing is normal, so don’t blame the dog! And today’s Ask Amy has advice, too. How have you managed your chew-aholic dog?

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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? 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!

Celebrating Valentines Day the Furry Way: Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers

Celebrating Valentines Day the Furry Way: Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers

FTC disclosure

Happy (early) Valentines Day! Do you have anything special planned–for the cats and dogs, that is? What do they have planned for you? 🙂 You’ll want to avoid the Valentine’s day pet dangers, of course. How do your pets show love?

I get a boatload of pet products at various events, conferences and through the mail from folks who ask me to try them out. I’m very grateful, even if I’m not always able to review them–it’s best NOT to send unless you ask first. At times, it looks like a pet toy box exploded at our house.

Valentines for pets? Of course!

Sort of embarrassing, but past dogs like Bravo preferred dirty socks to high dollar toys, and Karma thinks the 15-year-old peacock feather is da bomb. Cheap thrills, right? Pets don’t care what you spend, as long as it’s TIME with them! But here are some of my favorites and maybe your cats and dogs will enjoy them, too.

Climate Changer Quick Drying Fleece zips up the side for a snug fit, and available for $49.95 at Amazon. It comes in four colors — I think Shadow looks great in blue! (Click picture to go to the site).

Valentines Gifts for Dogs

PLUSH KISSING BOOTH TOY: Shadow LOVES hide-and-seek toys. He inherited a squirrel-treehouse one from Bravo-Dawg but I think this Frisco Valentine Kissing Booth Plush dog toy from Chewy has his name all over it. Measuring about 10″ x 8″ it works well for medium to large dogs at $16.98. And hey, it squeaks! ‘Nuff said.

COATS & SWEATERS FOR DOGS:  Ruffwear for Dogs makes some of the most stylish and useful outdoor equipment for dogs. If you love to go camping, play dog sports, or just hang out with your dog in the great outdoors, check out the offerings. They sent Shadow-Pup a couple of coats. Our Texas weather rarely requires extra coats, but for those who must deal with extra ice, snow, or rain, check them out. They’re also available from Amazon.

The Ruffwear Quinzee Jacket comes in four colors, and is $74.95 at Amazon (click picture for the site). Easy on with click-release side buckles, an elastic gusset for better sizing, and leash/harness opening in the back.

Dog Treat Dispenser for Dog Valentine Gifts

Planet Dog Orbee Tuff Snoop Treat Dispenser: Oh my doG, just rediscovered these! I love the Planet Dog products–made in the US out of recycled materials. Many years ago, I got a bunch to review with Magic as a puppy, and they lasted forever. Now, I need to get a fresh supply, because Shadow-Pup would adore them. They come in all kinds of fun shapes and sizes (fruit and veggies, for instance). This one’s new to me, but has nearly 500 great reviews at Chewy.

You can fill the Snoop Treat Dispenser with over a cup of dry food or treats, and even add a small ball inside to provide more challenges. Great to keep dogs occupied when bad weather keeps them confined inside.

KONG WOBBLER: I’m a big fan of the Kong line of products. Shadow-Pup inherited Bravo’s Kong Wobbler, the same one that Magical-Dawg used. It’s like the kid’s toys that “wobble but they don’t fall down.” The weighted bottom holds it upright, while you fill the screw-on top with treats or regular dog food. And the dog “wobbles” the feeder to knock yummies out the small hole. Some genius dogs (like Magic) learn to unscrew the top and get everything out at once. So far, Shadow hasn’t managed that. And here’s a bonus: It sorta-kinda looks like a football…and the Superbowl (and puppybowl) are the day before Valentine’s this year!

Valentines Gifts for Cats

STRAWBERRY CATNIP DELIGHT: Here’s a basket filled with catnip-infused strawberries (four of them) that looks good enough to eat. Don’t worry, it’s fake chocolate, and crinkles with Kitty grabs and rolls on the toys. Another cute plush toy from Frisco, the Valentine Strawberry Basket is $8.98. Karma-Kitty loves catnip, so this would get his purrs rumbling.

GREENIES TREATS FOR CATS: Karma-Kat’s favorite treat helps keep his teeth nice and clean. The last time he had his vet checkup, Dr. Clay couldn’t believe his age and said Karma’s teeth looked like a one or two-year-old cat. I love Greenies (for dogs, too!)

OSCILLOT CAT-PROOF FENCE: Karma-Kat doesn’t get to go outside. And he wants to join Shadow. We take him outside on a harness and leash from time to time.

leash train cats

Karma wears the Puppia Step-In Harness (for dogs, but great for cats!).

But I now have a wish-list for the future to make sure our fenced back area is cat-proof. If you haven’t seen this Oscillot Cat-Proof Fence Kits, it’s worth taking a look! These are rollers that attach to the top of your existing fence to keep kitty from jumping out (or other animals from jumping in. The video below gives you a taste.

Pet Bed: The Furhaven Bed (below) currently ranks #1 for both dogs and cats on the amazon store, with 72,793 reviews averaging 4.5/5 stars. I’d say there’s enough room there for Shadow and Karma to share … aww, who am I kidding? They’d argue over who got dibs on it, the same as they do for prime sofa spots! It comes in 12 colors and 5 sizes with cost from about $36 to $105 (depending on size of the bed). Some reviewers note that the foam can collapse with use, especially for heavy dogs. Shadow would probably chew up the bed, but for older, more sedate dogs and cats, this could be a lovely Valentine’s gift.

Valentine’s for Pet Lovers

If you want to please the pet lover in your life, get ’em something for the dog or cat. And what if your cat or dog HATES your date? Well, there are some things you can do to woo their furry love. But you might also want to package up something in a red bow (or red bottle?) for the pet-loving human to soothe bruised feelings. Here are a couple of fun suggestions.

Oh, and don’t forget the books! Y’all know I got ya covered on the book front. For gift books, my recommendation would be Cat Life, or Dog Life (or both!).

dog life cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What About The Pets’ Valentine’s Gifts?

We don’t wait around each year to have a special day to gift Shadow-Pup or Karma-Kat.  And they gift us every single day with their presence. I dare ya to argue that’s not so! I’ve written before about how pets show love. But how do you return the favor? It goes beyond a Valentine gift for pets.

For the furry-centric folks, I suspect every day is Valentines Day, with pets returning the love with snuggles, wags, and purrs. In no particular order, here are some ways that the Shojai’s show Valentine’s Love all year long to the pets, and how Shadow and Karma reciprocate.

AMY’S (incomplete…) LIST

  • Nutritious food for Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat (and puzzle feeders from Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting system to keep Karma’s table muscle in check).
  • Yummy treats cuz they’re both such good boyz.
  • Grooming for good health and feel-good scritches
  • Vet care for routine, preventative and even ER visits. I love the Chewy Online Pet Pharmacy, makes auto-ship easy.
  • Exercise, aka PLAYTIME with stuffed squeakies, catnip, feather wands, paper bags, Ping Pong balls and more
  • Schmooze time…the best of all!

SHADOW’S LIST OF LOVE

  • Barking–at strangers, strange noises, the new cat, for treats, during vet visits–all to protect his people
  • Sniffing–to protect his people from dangerous squirrels, rats, bunnies, cats and dirty socks
  • Peeing & poop marking–to warn away dangerous coyotes, rats, bunnies, cats and dirty socks
  • Playing fetch and tug–to teach his people how to have fun by sharing joy with slimy balls and tattered stuffed toys
  • Killing squeakies–to demonstrate a good-dog’s ferocious ability to protect
  • Sleeping with his people

KARMA’S LIST OF LOVE

  • Teeny-soft-mews, to get attention and admiring glances
  • Scratching cat trees–to tell the world he’s home
  • Playing with Shadow–to declare his trust and affection
  • Chasing–toys, feet, dog tails, anything, to show what joy looks like
  • Snuggling with purrs & paw-neck-hugs

Now, it’s your turn. Add YOUR list in the comments! What are YOUR cats and dogs getting for Valentine’s Day this year?

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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!

Scared Cat? Teaching Shrinking Violet Shy Cats

Scared Cat? Teaching Shrinking Violet Shy Cats

scared cat

Is your kitty shy? How do you bring her out of her Shrinking Violet shell? (Image copr. Missi Hostrup via Flickr, a picture of Tiger Lily)

Working with fearful and scared cats can be a challenge. Does Sheba hiss at strangers? Does Tom dive under the bed when the doorbell rings? Do your kitties attack other pets (or humans)? What can you do to stop bad behavior if even a mild correction sends the cat into fearful meltdown? Alexa posted her Ask Amy question to my Facebook page, and the answer is in today’s video.

Helping Shy & Scared Cats

We often feel that our fur-kids must have been abused and feel bad to make THEM feel bad. But they still need to know limits. One of my favorite ways to train is using positive rewards. Instead of waiting for kitty to scratch the wrong object and then interrupting the behavior–why not REWARD her when she scratches the RIGHT object?

Using kitty clicker training can also build confidence in shy cats by teaching them what happens is in their paws. Here are more tips for dealing with scared cats.

Stranger Danger & Fearful Felines

While a normal dose of caution keeps cats from becoming coyote kibble, extreme fear makes cats miserable and disrupts your happy home. A hiding cat may not bother you, constant anxiety increases stress that can make cats sick. For instance, stress can aggravate bladder inflammation (cystitis), which prompts hit-or-miss bathroom behaviors from feeling pain. Even when the bladder doesn’t hurt, anxious cats use potty deposits or will increase scratching behavior to calm themselves—sort of the way nervous humans bite their fingernails. Noises can scare cats, and this post about dog noise fear may help kitties, too.

scared catMore Tips for Helping Shy Cats or Stressed Out Kitties

Do you have a shy cat? How does s/he react to strangers or new situations? What tips have you used to bolster confidence? You can use scent enrichment to help reduce your cats’ stress. Are you concerned (like Alexa, below) about damaging your pet relationship during training? How do you avoid that?

Of course you can find lots more fur-kid care tips in the pet books. Many of the tips in MY CAT HATES MY VET! will also help. But I hope anyone with a burning furry question (or heck, ANY question! *s*) will share in the comments and perhaps it’ll be a future Ask Amy feature!

Ask Amy Shojai: How Can I Teach My ...
Ask Amy Shojai: How Can I Teach My Shy Cat Right from Wrong?

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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!

Why Won’t My Puppy Potty On Grass? & How to Stop Neighbor Dogs Pooping in Yard

Why Won’t My Puppy Potty On Grass? & How to Stop Neighbor Dogs Pooping in Yard

I’ve had several questions about puppy potty behavior and house training dogs, plus bad neighbor behavior, too! So I’ve combined a couple of topics in today’s blog post. Both questions have to do with dogs pooping on the lawn–why dogs go on grass, why puppies won’t go on grass, and also how to stop dog pooping in yard if your neighbor lets them “go” willy nilly.

Whew–that’s a lot of crappiocca! You can read about why dogs like to eat grass in a different post, here.

dog won't go on grass

DEAR ASK AMY…Why won’t my dog go on grass?

“Hey Amy! I’m pretty stumped and you’re the only dog expert I know. I recently rescued a Husky/Australian Shepherd that was kept 100 percent inside. He’s a super sweet puppy-named Loki–about five months old. They never let him out and he eliminated on a “trashcan lid” according to his owner. Now, he won’t eliminate outside unless it’s the last resort. He doesn’t go in the house… only on my concrete porch. Would you have any ideas on how to get him to make the transference from porch to grass? Dave”

Puppies Like Familiar Routine to Poop & Pee

The short answer to why dogs won’t go on grass and instead eliminate other places is … they’ve never gone on grass before, and it’s scary! This happens a lot with backyard breeders and puppy mill dogs. Dogs raised on cement kennel runs, or in wire cages, simply “go” when the need arises. They may never have seen, sniffed, or felt grass beneath their paws before, poor pups. Other dogs may associate pottying on the grass with feeling bad, if they had a case of diarrhea, for example.

Dogs also associate a particular smell with a safe or acceptable bathroom spot. If he’s pooped or peed on the grass before, the scent remains behind so he’s reminded what deed to do. That’s also why pet accidents in the house require proper odor elimination.

In this case, though, the Loki may also have been punished for eliminating anywhere but on the trash can. Some poor pooches have no experience “being creative” on a proper surface, and they can become terrified and traumatized when faced with a new-to-them surface. Just imagine having to “go” so badly but being scared to do anything about it.

How to Train Dogs to Go On Grass

The key here for Loki is two-fold. First, reward Loki for performing the behavior you want–eliminating in the right spot. To do that, figure out what he likes best. Maybe that’s a special treat? or perhaps a favorite toy? Basically PAY him with a reward to empty himself in the right spot.

puppy bookSecond, make sure you transition slowly. Instead of forcing him onto the grass, give him some options so he naturally makes the choice you want. For instance, get a trashcan lid and place it first on the concrete porch–something familiar he already accepts. That way, he gets to be a “good dog” for going in the right place. And after that, gradually move the lid across the porch and eventually onto the grass in the yard. Once he’s in the yard, you can transition to the grass, maybe putting some grass clippings on the can lid. You may even try to make the trashcan lids smaller and smaller so he “goes” outside of the barrier of the trash lid. Actually, if he’s going to be a big dog, as he grows this may happen naturally.

Another thought, you could get some “puppy pee pads” used for house training. They smell “right” to the dog, and use those first on the porch and slowly move to the grass. Whether you use the trashcan lid or the pee pads, be sure Loki only gets the treats when he’s creative on the grass. Of course, there are many more puppy potty (and other) tips in the book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE. 

How To Stop Dog From Pooping In Yard

One of my Facebook friends tagged me on a post. Her neighbors walk their dogs early in the morning, and more often than not, end up leaving their “creativity” on the grass in front of her house. She’s tired of picking up poop from other people’s pets. And unfortunately, the dog owners weren’t cooperative when asked to be more responsible. Yikes!

Of course, it’s always best to work things out with the neighbor. But if that doesn’t work, you can encourage the dog to avoid your yard with doggy repellent. There are both liquids and sprays that work well. I would recommend those designed specifically to shoo away dogs (so they’re also SAFE for dogs…you don’t want to hurt ’em, just keep ’em at bay). Products like Critter Ridder from HavaHart can help.

Also, if you also need to shoo away two-footed neighbors 😛 then a sprinkler system that triggers via motion sensors can help. There are a number of versions priced from low to high, but this one gets pretty good reviews.  Of course, if you know the specific time of the dog walks, you can set up just regular sprinklers to run during those times.

Ask Amy: How Do I stop dog pooping in the yard?

So folks, what about your suggestions. Have you ever had this situation of a dog refusing to use a designated area? How have you managed training for your new pups? Or perhaps you’ve had to deal with a nasty neighbor — please reassure me that YOU don’t let your dogs do the dirty next door!

Please share your tips in the comments–and feel free to add some SQUEEE! cute puppy pix, too. Of course, my Complete Puppy Care book will include many more details on all-things-puppies. But here are the basics in this Ask Amy. :)

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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!

Why Dogs Bark & How to Stop A Dog from Barking

Why Dogs Bark & How to Stop A Dog from Barking

Do you know how to stop dog barking? “Will you please, for the love of doG, stop barking!” When Shadow-Pup joined our family, he and Bravo-Dawg egged each other on. Now that he’s the only dog, he and the cat tease each other and prompt bark-fest and meow-athons.

We love our dogs, but when noisy dogs get revved up, dog barking can drive us nuts. Shadow has a “demand attention” barking problem that shatters glass. He also loves barking at squirrels and tells on Karma-Kat when the cat gets on a counter, and at us when we can’t read his mind.

So what’s the answer–how to stop a dog from barking? The key to stop barking includes understanding why dogs bark.

Learn what canine howls mean here. And refer to this post on doggy (and kitty) tail talk.

Dogs bark to communicate--so what's he saying?

Dogs bark to communicate–so what’s he saying?

A Fun Dog Barking Poll

How to stop a dog from barking got the most canine topic votes on my informal Facebook poll (stay tuned for a cat-centric one, too!). See, I want my next big project (an on-demand pet behavior course) to answer YOUR must-know questions.

So here’s your turn. Fill in the blank in the comments: “I wish I knew how to fix my cat/dog’s (…..)”

WHY DOGS BARK

On Facebook, some of the comments were very specific. Some of these included barking at:

  1. motorcycles and skateboards (bicycles are a biggie, and so are joggers!)
  2. doorbells
  3. TV doorbells
  4. other dogs
  5. in the backyard (squirrels!)
  6. when (known) visitors arrive

The key to stop dogs barking is to understand why the dog barks. There’s no single answer, but in all cases, the dog is REWARDED (gets something s/he wants) out of the barking. It’s a simple cause/effect situation. Take a look again at the above complaints, and see where they might fit in this list of some common barking reasons. Ask yourself–how do I respond to the barking?

KINDS OF DOG BARKS

  • Play bark (“Gotta shout about the game!”)
  • Howdy-do bark (“Nice to see you.”)
  • Defensive bark (“I’m scared, go away.”) Refer to this post on dogfighting for more information.
  • Offensive bark (“It’s MY property, don’t come near!”)
  • Fire alarm bark (“warning, Will Robinson!”)
  • “Look at that!” bark (strangers, friends, garbage truck, your new hat, SQUIRREL!)
  • Boredom bark (“Come entertain me…”)
  • Lonely (“Poor me” or separation anxiety)

Personally, I want my Shadow-Pup to bark. You should want YOUR dog to bark, too–at the appropriate times. I don’t want him silent when that burglar prowls outside. So after several barks, he gets praise and then a treat (and it’s hard for dogs to bark while chewing).

HOW TO STOP DOG BARKING

How do you stop barking? It sounds counter-intuitive, but to teach dogs to SHUSH you must first teach them to SPEAK on command. Here’s how.

  1. Set up “trigger” situations with the doorbell, a friendly visitor, or whatever gets the bark-aholic going.
  2. Just as the doorbell rings, say “SPEAK.”
  3. When the dog barks, praise him and offer a toy or treat or whatever floats his boat as a reward.

It will take several repeats before your dog recognizes that the command SPEAK means permission to yap. Practice this (even without the doorbell), and for the first several days ALWAYS reward the dog with a yummy or fun game he loves. Once the lightbulb goes off in his furry noggin, and he recognizes he gets PAID to bark on command, he’ll be eager to win your approval with this new skill.

TEACH BARKING DOGS TO “SHUSH”

Once he will SPEAK on command, it’s time to teach SHUSH. That’s easy–after he’s barked, do NOT give him the reward, but instead say SHUSH…and hold out the treat in your closed fist. Dogs stop barking to sniff and chew, so that typically stops the noise mid-yap. Give him the treat, while repeating GOOD SHUSH, while he chomps the yummy.

Again, it will take several repeats, but that’s the basics. You’ll slowly expand the amount of time he must SHUSH in order to earn the treat. Once your dog knows both SPEAK and SHUSH, you’ll be ready to move on to practice in the specific circumstances that are most bothersome.

I’d love to help you stop your dog barking, with more prescriptive how-to tips. Meanwhile, don’t forget to get YOUR biggest pets peeves on my list. Fill in the blank in the comments: “I wish I knew how to fix my cat/dog’s (…..)”


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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!

Dog Bites & Kid Safety: 9 Tips to Prevent Dog Bites (and Keep Dogs Safe, Too!)

Dog Bites & Kid Safety: 9 Tips to Prevent Dog Bites (and Keep Dogs Safe, Too!)

In March 2011, I served as an expert witness in a dog bite case in which a child was mauled, and the child’s grandmother who owned the home where the Pit Bull mix lived was prosecuted as responsible. I learned a lot during this trial, one of the biggest lessons having to do with the many misconceptions regarding dogs, dog language, and dog bites. In fact, I address quite a lot of these issues in my thriller SHOW AND TELL, that includes Pit Bulls, dog fighting, and misconceptions about dogs.

Angry aggressive barking dog in a steel cage

How to Stop Dogs Biting

You can’t. All dogs bite. In fact, canine jaws easily tear flesh and break bones. Don’t be fooled by size, either. They may be tiny but even Chihuahua-size pooches expertly use their choppers. And when they’re big dogs like this Belgian Malinois below, the damage can be severe.

portrait of a very angry purebred belgian shepherd malinois

Dog Fights & Dog Bites & Child Dog Bite Safety

All dogs squabble just as all people sometimes get upset and argue, but that doesn’t mean dangerous bites always results. That also doesn’t mean the dog is aggressive. Dogs have exquisite control of their jaws and know exactly how close they can snap without making contact. Pugs don’t miss unless they mean to. Consider air-snaps and bites that DON’T break the skin as calculated warnings. Learning to master the power of their jaws—bite inhibition—allows dogs to make important points and resolve differences without hurting each other, or you.

Children suffer dog bites more often than anyone else. Dog bites injure nearly 5 million people every year. Half of all kids in the United States get bitten by age 12, and five-to-nine-year-old boys are at highest risk. Scary stuff!

Curious chained dog on a pile of wood.

These statistics, though, are somewhat skewed. Every bite is cause for alarm, but did you know that the numbers include ALL dog injuries that break the skin, even “bandaid” situations. That is, if the puppy’s nail scratches the infant, technically it’s reported under bite stats. Bites from working K-9 (police) dogs also are included in the report. Bites to a medical person rendering assistance to an injured, in pain dog also are bundled in these figures.

However, if your child is bitten, he’s 100 percent bitten and it can be a tragedy—one that doesn’t have to happen. Dog bites not only hurt you or your kids, they result in pricy medical bills and insurance rates. Dog bites can lose your dog his home or even his life.

That’s what happened in the dog bite case referenced in the opening. There were no winners–oh, the little girl survived, with scars; her grandmother was acquitted. Buddy, the dog, was killed. You can read details of the case here.

Don't tempt fate! How stooopid is this?

Don’t tempt fate! How stooopid is this?

Most dog bites result from inappropriate interaction with the family pet, with a neighbor’s or a friend’s dog. But you can teach yourself and your kids ways to be safe with these 9 easy tips.

9 Tips To Prevent Dog Bites

  1. Respect Doggy Space. Children should not approach, touch or play with any dog who is sleeping or eating. NEVER approach a tethered or chained dog, which restricts the dog’s movement and elevates his potential for arousal. Mom-dogs caring for puppies are especially protective. Even friendly dogs may react with a bite if they feel their food or toys might be stolen by a playful child.dog tied to a tree
  2. Ask First. Always ask permission of the owner before petting. Not all owners recognize danger signs, though, so when in doubt, decline the petting. Before touching, let the dog sniff a closed hand. Remember that petting the top of the dog’s head can look threatening from a pet perspective, so instead scratch the front of his chest, neck or stroke underneath the dog’s chin.
  3. Supervise. Accidents happen even with friendly dogs. In the court case, above, the dog knew and loved the toddler. Kids, toddlers, adults and dogs make mistakes. An adult should always be present when kids and dogs mix.
  4. Nix the Hugs and Kisses. Kids get bitten on the face most often when they try to hug or kiss the dog. It’s much safer to show your puppy love with a scratch on the chest or side of the neck.
  5. Alert Adults. If a child sees a dog off-leash outside, he should tell an adult immediately. Also alert adults to multiple loose dogs. Groups of dogs egg each other on into a “mob mentality” when individuals in that same group likely would never offer a threat.
  6. Look Away. Eye contact with a dog can be interpreted as a threat or challenge, and set off an otherwise calm dog. Young kids at eye-level with big dogs may pose a challenge without being aware of the danger.
  7. Be A Tree. Teach your child to stand still and quiet around strange dogs—be a tree. Trees are boring, so the dog will go away or at least not be excited. Walking, running, arm-waving and high-pitched loud talking, giggling, and laughing excites the dog even further and invites dogs to play chase-bite games. Even friendly dogs may bite out of enthusiasm, just as well-behaved children might accidentally strike out and hurt a classmate during play. That also works to calm down a puppy that gets too excited during play.
  8. Be A Log. If a puppy knocks the child down, teach her to roll up in a ball and be still—like a log—until the dog goes away. Movement encourages the game of jumping, tugging and wrestling and can escalate the dog’s excitement and tendency to bite.
  9. Train the Puppy. Teach your puppy with love. Dogs bullied or hurt during training can get pushy or aggressive to weaker family members—the kids. Teach kids to enjoy and respect dogs, and socialize puppies to kids so they grow up to enjoy and love each other.

You can learn more about puppy socialization and teaching dogs bite inhibition in my book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE.

Have you ever been bitten by a dog? What were the circumstances? I have…when I was a vet tech. Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine! What did you learn?

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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? 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!

How to Crate Train Puppies & Kittens

How to Crate Train Puppies & Kittens

SQUEEE! It’s puppy & kitten season, and just in time for YOUR big adoption gotcha-day celebration, during March local PetSmart® stores will have crate, kennels, carriers, and accessories on sale. There are many kinds of crates and carriers, from soft sided to hard plastic to wire, and in a variety of shapes and sizes.

MagicPupCrate

Magic at 8 weeks old and 11 pounds. Can you see the “divider” in this crate making it puppy-size? Crate train pupies and kittens for life long benefits. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

FCC noticeIS CRATE TRAINING CRUEL?

Why would you want to “cage” that new baby? The way Junior-Dawg howls and Kitty-Kins yowls you’d think they’re being hung up by their furry toes!

Actually, it’s not cruel, but without proper introduction, it can be a wee bit scary. In my Complete Kitten Care and Complete Puppy Care books, I call this LIBERATION TRAINING. Teaching your new pet to accept the kitty carrier or puppy crate is a pet safety issue, but also means they get a ticket to ride…and travel beyond the confines of your house and yard.

That doesn’t mean your new puppy or kitten automatically understands the concept, though, so this blog post not only explains the benefits of crate training to YOU, it also helps you purr-suade your kitten and convince your canine that the notion is a CRATE IDEA. (sorry, couldn’t resist…)

Shadow-Pup accepted the crate right away when he arrived! Of course, he only got fed inside. *s*

BENEFITS OF CARRIERS & CRATES

Most puppies and kittens–and even their adult counterparts–feel more secure in a small, enclosed den-like area. That’s not to say your new baby should be in the crate for outrageous lengths of time. A youngster should be gradually introduced to the crate or carrier and never left unattended longer than he’s able to “hold it” for potty training.

Prime Nap Spot. A crate works well as a bed. And when a pet claims the spot for naps, it’s no longer scary, but becomes a happy, familiar place he feels secure.

Private Retreat. Because it’s enclosed, the puppy crate or kitty carrier also serves as a safe retreat to get away from other pets or pestering children. Don’t you want a private place of your own where you won’t be bothered? Pets are no different.

Safe Confinement. A crate also can be the safest place to confine that rambunctious baby to keep him from pottying in the wrong spot or cat-climbing to dangerous heights when you can’t watch him.

Ideal Travel Buddy. All pets need to travel by car to the veterinarian from time to time. That’s a STRANGER DANGER moment especially for cats, so already feeling safe and comfy in a familiar carrier puts your kitten or puppy at ease at the vet.

Potty Training Tool. For pups, it’s one of the best tools available for potty training. They don’t want to mess where they sleep, so just turning it into a bed prompts Junior-Dawg to let you know when he needs a potty break. Here are more tips on puppy potty training.

You can go plain, or fancy as with this ecoFLEX Pet crate.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CRATE

The perfect crate or carrier should be just large enough for a pet to go inside, turn around, and lie down to sleep. It can be a solid hard plastic container, wire mesh cage or soft-sided duffle-type carrier (for cats). While soft-sided pet carriers work great for transport, they may be too small and prove too tempting for chew-aholic pups to work well for safe confinement.

This standard “plain Jane” crate has served us well for three dogs now. The Frisco Fold & Carry is available at Chewy and several other outlets.

Of course, puppies and kittens grow, so especially for larger dog breeds, consider your pup’s future adult size before investing in a pricy dog crate. Large crates are available with partitions for you to “shrink” to puppy size, and then enlarge the area as your puppy matures. You can also purchase an adult-size crate, and insert a barrier like a plastic storage box that shrinks the space to puppy proportions until your pet grows to full size. That’s what I did with Magical-Dawg. He arrived at our house weighing about 11 pounds, and grew up to be nearly 90 pounds. Our dogs don’t the crate at all, because it doubles as an enormous doggy toy box!

The key to training pets to accept the carrier or crate is creating familiarity. You do that by introducing him to this new situation in a series of non-threatening, gradual steps.

5 Tips to Crate Train Pets

Make It Familiar. While well-adjusted puppies and kittens tend to be curious, some tend toward shyness. Anything new prompts suspicion. So make the crate or carrier “part of the furniture” and set it out in the family room for your new pet to explore. Leave the door open or take it off, and let him sniff it inside and out. Don’t make a big deal out of it.

KarmaCrate2

Karma Kat decided on his own that sleeping among soft toys that smell like his best buddy Magic is a VERY-GOOD-THING! He also likes playing with lure-toys while inside. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Make It A Happy Place. Place a snuggly kitty blanket or dog bed inside. Or you can toss a toy inside, to create positive experiences with the crate. For kittens, Ping Pong balls are great fun inside the hard crates. Karma actually LOVES hanging out inside Magic’s crate because of all the fuzzy toys. Both Karma-Kat and Seren-Kitty have smaller duffle-style carriers (set on top of Magic’s crate), and take turns sleeping in them–they’re out all the time, with doors open.

Offer A Treat. For puppies, find a puzzle toy that can be stuffed with a smelly, tasty treat. This should be a treat your puppy loves, but he ONLY gets the treat when inside the crate. Show it to him, let him smell and taste the treat, and then toss it inside the crate and shut the door—with the puppy outside the crate and the treat on the inside. And after he’s begged to get inside, open the door and allow him to chew and enjoy it for five minutes but only with the door shut. Catnip can work well with cats, but youngsters won’t react until they’re 6 months old, so getting kitty tipsy only works for more mature cats.

Teach Him Tolerance. If your puppy fusses let him out—but lock the treat back inside. You’re teaching him that wonderful things can be found inside the crate. Most pups learn to tolerate the door shut at least as long as they have something to munch. Praise the dickens out of him! He should know that staying calmly inside the crate earns him good things. Do the same with your kitten, using healthy treats or fun toys like chase-the-flashlight beam, but only inside the crate. Repeat several times over the next few days, each time letting the kitten out after five minutes.

Extend Crate Time. By the end of the week, you can begin increasing the time the pet spends in the crate. For small pups and kittens, pick up the carrier while he’s in it and carry him around, and then let him out. Take him in the carrier out to the car, sit there and talk to him, then bring him back into the house and release him—don’t forget to offer the treat. Soon, you should be able to take him for car rides in his carrier, without him throwing a fit. He’ll learn that most times, the carrier means good things for him—and the vet visit isn’t the only association it has.

Cat Crate Training, Too!

For older cats, it can take several weeks to teach crate acceptance. Check out this PAW-some video from Catalyst Council on how to help your cats accept carriers. You–and your cats–will be glad you did.

So now it’s your turn. How are you teaching Junior Dog and Killer-Diller-Kitten to accept their carriers or crates? What about older pets–are they already crate trained? What worked best for your furry wonders? Please share tips to help out other pet lovers in the comments section!

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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? 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!

STRAYS THE MUSICAL STAGED READING PERFORMANCE

KarmaStraysTonight our cast gathers at a recording studio to create a cast album of the songs from STRAYS, THE MUSICAL. Stay tuned–I’ll post some samples here on the blog as soon as they’re available!

TOMORROW NIGHT is the big day! Saturday at 7:00 pm, please join us for the FREE staged reading of STRAYS, THE MUSICAL! My co-author Frank Steele and I have lined up a stellar cast to present the complete script and 11 original songs (with full orchestration). The actors portray cats and dogs, and that’s enough to get purrs rumbling and tails wagging, dontcha think? (Your kids will love this, too).

A staged reading (with script in hand) allows the playwrights and cast to figure out, with the help of the audience, what works and what needs finagling, so the show can be improved when it’s finally performed. That means YOU can be a part of the process. Besides that, it’s free!

Here’s a taste of one of my favorite songs, in which cats and dogs alternate singing verses that describe NORMAL behaviors that aggravate owners–it’s a jazz number with RAP section about how to fix the problems!

NORMAL

“Gonna match that scratch
Make my mark, mark, mark.
While they snatch to catch me
In the dark, dark, dark.
Can’t stop my paws–
From making claws.
Ba-a-ad kitty!
Tha-a-at’s Me-ee-ow!”

“Gonna start my diggin
Cuz I been figgerin’
How to dig a hole,
Cuz I been tol’
Ya need to do it,
So the bone’ll fit it.
Yea! Dig-gin'” . . .

So…if you were performing as a cat or a dog in the above lyric, how would you show the audience your character? No “ear and tail” costumes allowed…the actor must do the job and channel his/her inner pet :).

For the staged reading, our actors double up on parts with some playing cats in one scene and dogs in another, and even human owners in the final song. But the fully mounted show likely will include a larger cast including a chorus, and is appropriate for any age actor (or audience). We will mount the full show this fall and will hold open auditions for local performers to join the furry throng.

Thank you to Webster Crocker, the Administrative Director of Sherman Community Players and director of the Theatricks program. He’s opened up the calendar to give this original show its debut.

Please join Frank Steele, Amy Shojai, Gil Nelson, Johnny Flowers, Diana and Aaron Adair, and Lacey Wesson (running audio) Saturday evening March 22 at 7:00 pm at the Honey McGee Playhouse, 313 West Mulberry Street, in Sherman, TX.

Please SHARE this post with anyone who loves cats and dogs and theater. Hey, you may want this show to visit YOUR animal shelter fundraising event in the future!

UPDATE: Open auditions will be held to cast the full production this fall, with performance three nights October 23, 24 & 25th at the Honey McGee Playhouse. See you there!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, 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!

Dog Viewpoint HIDE AND SEEK Releases!

It’s here! My dog viewpoint thriller HIDE AND SEEK “officially” releases–and those who subscribe to my PET PEEVES newsletter got this info last week (yes, there’s perks to subscribing *s*) but I couldn’t hold in the SNOOPY-DANCE-‘O-JOY! any longer. This is the SEQUEL to my first thriller, and brings back the characters you love plus some new ones.

There’s still dog-viewpoint (yay, Shadow!) and now more cat-centric stuff too (go, Macy!). I hope you’ll enjoy the book, post reviews, and recommend to your pet-loving, thrill-seeking friends.

My deepest gratitude to those who reviewed ARCs for advance looks and reviews. Y’all make my virtual tail wag and purrs a-rumble. And without further delay, behold the latest thriller.

******

A mysterious contagion will shatter countless lives unless a service dog and his trainer find a missing cat . . . in 24 hours.

FireHIDE AND SEEK on Amazon (Kindle & Trade Paperback)

A STALKER hides in plain sight.
A VICTIM faces her worst fear.
AND A DOG seeks the missing—and finds hope.

Eight years ago, animal behaviorist September Day escaped a sadistic captor who left her ashamed, terrified, and struggling with PTSD. She trusts no one—except her cat Macy and service dog Shadow.

Shadow also struggles with trust. A German Shepherd autism service dog who rescued his child partner only to lose his-boy forever, Shadow’s crippling fear of abandonment shakes his faith in humans.

They are each others’ only chance to survive the stalker’s vicious payback, but have only 24 hours to uncover the truth about Macy’s mysterious illness or pay the deadly consequences. When September learns to trust again, and a good-dog takes a chance on love, together they find hope in the midst of despair–and discover what family really means.

WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT HIDE AND SEEK!

HIDE AND SEEK proves Shojai’s masterful skill at blending ripped-from-the-headlines urgency with an emotional story of real characters in escalating dangers. Add in revelatory dose of animal psychology and behavior, and you have a thriller that had me turning pages deep into the night. Here is a novel written with authority and with a deft brilliance that any lover of animals or nerve-jangling thrillers will cherish.” James Rollins, New York Times bestseller of “The Eye of God”

“Recommended for anyone who likes a ‘bite-your-nails hold-your-breath’ kind of  thriller.” Dr. Lorie Huston, Cat Writers’ Association President

“Featuring a young animal behaviorist struggling to regain her bearings after a shocking betrayal, a reality TV show gone horribly wrong, and a series of murders and disappearances seemingly related to an unthinkable cause, HIDE AND SEEK is a mystery/thriller you won’t be able to put down!”
Alan Leverone, best-selling thriller author of “Mr. Midnight” and “The Lonely Mile”

THE STORY BEGAN WITH THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED

LOST AND FOUND

An autism cure will kill millions unless a service dog and his trainer

find a missing child . . . in 24 hours.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, 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!

Ask Amy: What To Do With Sniff-A-Holic Dogs

nose

I’m traveling today and may not be able to reply as quickly. But I wanted to share this fun new ASK AMY and find out how y’all handle your “nosy” dogs.

Dogs are lead around by the nose throughout life, and it starts early–as in this Ask Amy “rude” puppy behavior! What about your furry wonder? Has your dog’s nosy behavior ever gotten him or her in trouble? Created embarrassing moments? (Once our Magical-Dawg puppy stole underwear from the laundry basket and brought it out to show guests…sigh). Your turn, do tell!

In my forthcoming thriller HIDE AND SEEK, the dog hero character has been trained to track lost pets. So Shadow’s nose actually saves the day–with the help of Macy the Maine Coon cat. In these cases, savvy dogs may detect very important info that humans miss, and it’s up to the person to trust the dog’s nose. Shadow even laments the fact that scent-blind humans should pay closer attention to good-dogs able to smell important stuff. What do you think?

Here’s an article about a dog’s nose structure and sense of smell that explains a lot of what’s going on. What have I missed?

http://youtu.be/B0gYAtvvDbw

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, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

Monday Mentions: NAME THAT CAT, NAME THAT DOG!

HeroDog2013That’s Elle (pronounced “Ellie”) in the picture and yes–she’s a Pit Bull. She’s also the hero dog of the year! Click the picture to find out about her and the other doggy heroes.

I got NEWS…the next thriller HIDE AND SEEK is done! Well, I’m heavy-duty-head-down in revisions, but I’m very pleased with this book. There’s more dog viewpoint, more cat involvement, more September and her friend Teddy…and some new characters (and villains). Those gnashing their teeth over the first book’s unanswered questions will find out the secrets September must keep.

NAME THAT DOG, NAME THAT CAT!

Oh, and there are a couple of dog and cat characters that need names. Yes, it’s time for NAME THAT CAT and NAME THAT DOG contest! As before, I’d love to include the name YOU choose (and perhaps description, too) in this next book. The winners will have that pet name/description in the book, get an acknowledgement in the book, get an ARC of the book (advance reader’s copy) before  anyone else, AND a paw-tographed print book once it’s released. So what do you have to do? It’s easy…

Post your suggestion in the comments, and whether it’s for a dog or a cat (or both). Tell all your friends. I’ll narrow down the suggestions to the top 5-10 (depending on numbers) and then YOU get to vote on the ones you want. Here’s the furry characters and how they figure in the plot:

DOG CHARACTER is a resident therapy dog in an Alzheimer’s unit.

CAT CHARACTER is a barn kitty, with several half grown kittens, cared for (on the sly) by a nine-year-old girl whose mom won’t let her have cats.

So ready…set…NAME THAT CAT/DOG!

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo writer links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Check out the THRILLERFEST video at the bottom, too.  For new followers to the blog, welcome! and you can expect more cat and dog specific schtuff later in the week on Wednesday and Friday.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

The Importance of Self Publishing–Top of the Heap?

The Fussy Librarian a new “match making” service (similar to BookBub) for authors and readers launches today! And yep, one of my books is on the schedule. Check it out, sign up, and get your “read” on!

 Robotic Surgery and another blog on the subject could give y’all some fiction-icity ideas!

Prepare for NaNoWriMo! and yes, this year I’M IN!

 Bloomsbury & Author Solutions, urk…

Merchandising for Apple advice from Mark Coker (and if you have to ask who he is well…

PET-CENTRIC SCHTUFF

Dogs Vs Cats, Which Is Better?   Hoooo boy, here we go again…

 ACL & Dogs, Dexter’s Journey See what you can learn from my friend Carol’s experience with her dog

 8 Ways to Get Your Dog Stolen another great post from Carol Bryant

2012 Thrillerfest Panel

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, 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!

Catnip Clues & STARE-‘o-DEATH!

Okay, my blog “burped” last Saturday…and posted this blog early. So if you already read it, sorry about that.

I’m repeating this blog covering catnip and why dogs stare from 2011 because…well, I’ve got a whole bunch new followers, AND the schedule for fiction-ing leaves me little time these days. Besides, it’s my blog and I make up the rules as I go along. So there! Also, I figured the blog needed a serious influsion of sparkle-icity to keep with the “bling” theme. I’ve not posted any “new” Ask Amy videos in a while but that’s on my to-do list so please offer suggestions for topics in the comments.

To start things out on the right paw, today I’ve posted two. Here’s one about cats and catnip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW_mRGjqTGM

And just to offer equal fair play, here’s an Ask Amy about doggy eyeball communication:

Please share–do your cats carry the “catnip gene?” How often do they get a kitty fix? Did you get ’em on film? *snicker*

And for the dog-matic followers, have you ever experienced the canine stare-‘o-death? Of course my Magical-dawg also stares at me when he wants me to read his mind….  “Time for a car ride, yes yes yes???!”

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, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, 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!

Lost and Found: THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

Welcome to the NEXT  BIG THING blog hop.

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way that readers can discover new authors, because with bookstores closing and publishers not promoting new authors as much, we need to find a way to introduce readers to authors they may not see in their local bookstore. So I get to give a shout-out to the wonderful author who invited me to this “dance” and then invite (and highlight) five more terrific authors at the end of the blog.

Debut thriller author Donna Galanti invited me to join the “hop” and I’d met her first by email and later in person at Thrillerfest last summer. Her paranormal suspense novel, A Human Element, is a spooky, thrilling read–don’t take my word for it. NY Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry calls her story, “an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart.” See the links at the end for to five other authors you really MUST check out. Check out Donna Galanti’s website here, and you can buy A HUMAN ELEMENT at amazon or B&N or even iTunes.

Magic homecoming 3

What’s going on inside that furry head? …my answer is in LOST AND FOUND.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My dog Magic inspired me to write this book. For years I’ve looked for a book that I wanted to read, one that included thrills and made the hear trace, a story that incorporated medical issues, and above all, one that respected animal characters as ANIMALS and wrote them from that perspective–not as little humans wearing fur. Finally I wrote the book that I wanted to read.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The story is science based. Yes, there really are drugs given to children without having been tested on the children. And yes, dogs CAN learn vocabulary just as quickly as Shadow does in the “name game” scene. And finally yes, cats can be trained–and Macy’s “hero cat” scene where she “nails” the bad guys at the end is also based on something that really happened.

Below you will find authors (in no particular order) who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

  1. Clea Simon writes awesome cat-centric mysteries and I know her through membership in the Cat Writers Association. Check out her great blog at Cats, Crime & Rock & Roll
  2. Arden Moore, America’s Pet Edu-Tainer, writes terrific cat and dog care books, one of which was ranked #3 of ALL BOOKS on amazon!  In a former life Arden was my editor, and we share a birthday (one month apart). She has some new books in the pipeline and blogs at Four Legged Life
  3. Carol Shenold has been in my writers group for more than 20 years and is one of my dearest friends and a talented tech writer and novelist. She writes paranormal mysteries. Learn about her work and check out her Monster Under The Bed blog.
  4. Check out Michael W. Sherer blog here. He writes terrific mysteries AND thrillers. I met him through Thriller Writers, and he invited me to participate in an AWESOME Kindle Fire give-away (plus some autographed books from famous thriller authors).
  5. Victor DiGenti (writing as Parker Francis) publishes mysteries and has also written award-winning YA cat fantasy. Like Clea, we also met through Cat Writers Association.

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, 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!

Lost And Found Thriller: Dog Viewpoint Excerpt

12:21 p.m.

Shadow howled frantic harmony to September’s cries. He didn’t know how he could hear her in the car. She wasn’t here. And she couldn’t hear him, though he barked loud and long.

His fur stood at furious attention. He showed his teeth, snapped and snarled, eager to defend. She was his person. A good-dog protected his people. He had to find her. Shadow keened and paw-punched the cage.

“Stop it.” In the front seat Teddy clapped his hands over his ears. “Shut up. Be a good-dog.”

A good-dog obeyed people. Shadow paused and flattened his ears. He licked the wire of the crate and whimpered. September screamed, and Shadow threw himself against the wire again. The latch jiggled. So he did it again. And again.

“Quiet, no, no, no, no. Bad dog.”

Shadow ignored Teddy’s growls. He didn’t care. He’d be a bad-dog on purpose. How could he ignore September’s screams?

“Shadow, please stop. You’ll hurt yourself.” Teddy turned around in the car seat and his brow wrinkled. His eyes rained wet.

Shadow paused. He whined. Maybe Teddy did understand. His tail wagged the hopeful question, and he tap-danced in place. He willed Teddy to understand.

“I called the police. They’re on the way.” The old man made no move to open the door. He just sat there, and ducked his head each time September screamed. “We just got to wait.”

Yelping in frustration, Shadow bit the wire mesh of the door, growled, and snarled. Tugged—like with Bear-toy. His gums split on the sharp wire. Salt-copper tang raised his arousal. His tail churned the air and battered the cage, a drumbeat counterpoint to the tug-contest.

The old man’s scent chemicals choked the stale air, and cried “uncle” louder than puppy pee. Teddy had given up.

Shadow grabbed the wire and shook it. Bloody drool spattered the floor of the crate.

Teddy covered his ears. He surged forward, fiddled with something, and September was silenced.

Shadow cocked his head. He licked his lips, shuddered at the copper taste, and stared at Teddy. Shadow woofed, yawned and whined, the most persuasive tone he could. He pawed the door. Two claws had torn loose, and added to the blood on the floor. He couldn’t make it any clearer. He needed out.

The old man waggled his head. That meant no. Shadow furrowed his brow, cocked his head. But he was right. He knew it. To protect Steven, he’d learned to think for himself, to make right choices, no matter what. It was a good-dog’s job to know when to disobey. That time was now.

Shadow laced back his ears, lowered his head. He hurled himself against the front of the crate. Backed up and did it again. He’d force the door open. Get out. Go to September. Because he belonged with her. Because they belonged together. Because he must.

His body battered the cage like a furry mallet, and jiggled the clasp open increments at a time. The fastener worked like his kennel at home. He’d get out. He didn’t need Teddy. Shadow wasted no further breath on howls.

“Please stop. I can’t let you out. Be a good-dog, shush, just calm down.”

Shadow knew the man was staring at him, but didn’t pause. Each grunted impact moved the hasp closer to opening.

Teddy swiveled, flung open the door, and lurched out of the car. Shadow redoubled his efforts. He pawed the hasp. It moved in his favor. Another claw caught, and he yanked it free with a yelp. But the latch almost opened. He uttered frustrated whines, and he switched paws to continue the onslaught.

Teddy rushed to the back of the car and opened the tailgate. “Damn dog.” He reached to secure the fastener. “Hell, it’s nearly open.”

Shadow roared.

The old man flinched and yelled, “Back off!”

Teddy’s sudden command stopped Shadow dead. He watched, suspicious but hopeful. The man stared at him.

“You convinced me, dog. It’s your choice. And your grave.” His voice caught. “So okay, you crazy sonofabitch, you want out?” He reached for the crate door.

Out, yes! Shadow didn’t wait for Teddy. A final body-slam rocketed open the latch. The metal grate whipped into the man’s glasses and sliced open his cheek. Teddy toppled backwards into the snow.

Shadow vaulted from the car, and cleared the sprawled figure with one joyous leap. He found September’s scent, and hop-scotched and bulldozed through snow so deep it scraped his belly. But the bloody paw prints left in his wake spelled a message of fear, hope, and determination only good-dogs could read.

Read a new review of this book here!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. CLICK the above BOOK TOUR icon to learn about the next blog tour stop and how to enter for your chance to win paw-tographed pet books including LOST AND FOUND.

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, 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!

Oh Behave!

puppy licking dishes in dishwasher

Dogs aim to help us out–whether we want them to or not! Image Copr. Claire Hodkinson

In reality, pet-loving owners can have unrealistic expectations. Few of us speak “dog” or understand “felinese” at least without practice, and people easily misunderstand normal pet behaviors—and may actually encourage bad antics without even knowing any better. So what do you do?

HELP IS AVAILABLE

Too often, these socially inept cats and dogs (and owners!) means the pet ends up in shelters! Yet there is help available that can literally can save your pet relationship or even the dog and cat’s life. To promote that idea, the Keep the L.O.V.E. Alive Behavior Express Tour sponsored by Ceva Animal Health and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists may be coming to a city near you!

Dr. Marty Becker, America’s Veterinarian, is a spokesperson at the September 8, 2012 Dallas event (THAT’S SATURDAY, GANG!) where you’ll find free behavior tips, shelter pet adoptions, behavior demonstrations, giveaways and more. My friend and colleague Dr. Amanda Florsheim, a veterinary behaviorist, will also be on hand to field your dog and cat questions. For a preview, check out this hot-off-the-virtual-press radio interview with Dr. Marty at Pet Peeves Radio.

FINDING PET BEHAVIOR HELP

You really can’t separate pet behavior from their health and well being. For instance, the kitty that gets “creative” outside the box may, indeed, be a behavior problem to you but due to a health condition–or a combination of both. Getting the dog checked by the veterinarian can help pinpoint an anal gland abscess, for instance, that makes him snarl when approached from the rear.

The vet can also direct you to the best person for helping you with a potential behavior issue. Some puppy problems can be fixed with training from a reputable dog trainer. Kitty angst prompting frenzied furniture scratching may be soothed with some help from a cat behavior consultant’s tips about enriching the environment. And veterinarians are the ONLY folks able to prescribe medication (for physical or emotional issues) that may be the tipping point for solving big-time problems. Learn about some of the professional behavior organizations here.  You can learn more about questions to ask to find a dog trainer in this article. Of course, your local veterinarian should know who might be available in your neck of the woods. Many of my referrals come from veterinarians.

ComPetability: Dog Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Cat Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Dog/Cat Behavior Problems

MAKING IT PURR-SONAL

Have you ever needed the help of a pet professional like a dog training specialist or a cat behavior consultant? Where do you go for behavior advice? Yes, you can find some solid, helpful tips on the Internet or even in my books–that first one on dog behavior problems is brand new!–but honestly, it’s a toss up how good “free” info might be, and it could do more harm than good. Your pets rely on you to get the best help possible. And the longer a behavior gets “practiced” the more time it will take to un-learn. Just sayin…

What are your top kitty or doggy behavior complaints? How do you manage them? Please share! And if you’re in the area, say “howdy” to Dr. Marty Becker and the other behavior experts at the event. They truly do want to help your pets behave!

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Dog Shows & Putting On “The Dog”

Golden with owner

Have you and your dog ever competed in a dog show? It’s some of the most fun you can have with your canine companion, and isn’t a new activity by any means.

The earliest record of a dog show dates to June 1859 in England, with only 60 hunting dogs (Pointers and Setters) shown. Today the sport of dogs has grown to include more than 200 separate breeds, and expanded beyond pedigree-only dogs to embrace mutts in a variety of shaggy competitions.

DOG SHOW BASICS

I am NOT an expert in purebred dogs or the show fancy. In fact my Magical-Dawg isn’t the right “type” to do well in conformation, although he has the drive and talent to be extraordinary in tracking or other performance sports. It’s not him–it’s me. It takes lots of time and energy and I just can’t manage that right now. If I look the other way and Magic swipes the keys to the Magic-Mobile, no doubt he’ll be heading off to a show of his choice.

clumber spaniel

This gorgeous fellow was one of the first Clumber spaniels shown at Westminster!

A group match features all the breeds that belong to a general “type” of dog–say, the Toy group, which includes the Chihuahua, Pug, Pekingese, Yorkshire terrier and Toy poodle (to name only a few). The American Kennel Club (AKC) divides the groups by function and purpose for which the dogs were bred, or by size.

Sporting Group consists of Labs, Setters, Spaniels, pointers, retrievers; Hounds includes Greyhounds, beagles, foxhounds, etc; Working group includes the sled dogs, draft dogs, Doberman, etc.; Terriers consists of nearly any breed with ‘terrier’ in the name; Toys are by size–the little guys; Non-sporting includes Chow chow, Dalmation, Bichon, Lhasa Apso, etc.; Herding are all the shepherds, sheepdogs, cattle dogs, etc; and the Miscellaneous Class is an odd catchall category for dogs that don’t fit in any of the others. A terrific book to find out more is Cheryl Smith’s The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Dog Shows . . . I believe she’ll soon bring it back into print.

FUN SHOWS

Is your pooch a show-stopper? There are lots of summertime dog-centric events that you and your dog may enjoy. For instance, this Saturday September 8 can compete and win prizes locally at a fun Bark and Paw Dog Show in Denison, Texas. For the second annual event, Downtown Denison’s Bark & Paw show has certain requirements and “groups” –but your pooch does NOT have to be a purebred.

Register your dogs for free—and then sign up for a variety of contests for $1 each at Heritage Park beginning at 9:00 for the day’s events that run from 10 am to 4 pm. All dogs must be up to date on rabies vaccines and stay on leash for the event (except for specific off-leash contests). Anyone can purchase $1 tickets for fun door prizes, too.

I’m one of the judges—but I don’t know which contest yet. It promises to be a dog-gone fun event! Weinie Dog Races leads off at 10 a.m. followed by a retriever contest, most obedient, best trick, and even contests for the biggest, littlest, ugliest, oldest, and one that traveled farthest.

Don’t miss the 11:00 Pet Parade that travels from Forest Park to Heritage Park with Parade Grand Marshal Luke Robinson, founder of 2 Million Dogs and the Puppy Up walks for dog cancer research (2milliondogs.com). The theme is patriotic so owners can “put on the dog” with matching costumes.

Off leash events are at Forest Park while vendors are located on Burnett next to Heritage Park. You’ll find chair massage, pet massage, veterinarian, groomers, trainers, pet adoption, tee shirts, dog bandanas and munchies for both four-legged and two-legged attendees. You’ll even have the opportunity to drool over and then bid on some awesome custom doghouses at 12:30.

Have you ever participated in a doggy “fun show” event? How’d that work out? Do you dress up your dogs for parades, Halloween, or other holiday events? Do tell!

Remember that all dogs are winners when they have someone to love them. Be sure your dog enjoys events where other dogs and people are present, because some pooches prefer to be home-bodies. Please be especially mindful of the weather and keep your hot dogs safe as cool companions. If your dog loves the spotlight, you’ll all have a howling good time.

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Monday Mentions: Lee Child, Reacher & Speeding To Publish

.The long promised short clips from the 2012 Thrillerfest finally will be posted–and here’s the first, with the awesome Kathleen Antrim interviewing Lee Child about his Jack Reacher novels–and the movie. Honestly, I can’t imagine having written so many novels. It’s waaaaay different than writing nonfiction, and my first thriller has just about done me in.

I’m gasping, filled with Sisyphus-icity as the launch date draws near for my thriller. After screwing up my courage and sending out oh-so-polite requests for well known folks to read and maybe offer a kind word about the book, I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest dreams. But I can’t slow down. This hamster wheel is on a roll and speeding up.

So this past week, Dr. Marty Becker, D.P. Lyle and James Rollins kind words were included with polite invitations to savvy book reviewers to take an advance look. For a book to be successful it must be found, so authors can’t afford to be shy.

In the days and weeks ahead, I’ll post some of my efforts in the hopes it might also help others traveling similar publishing journeys. Fair warning–I may ask for your help because it takes a tribe to get folks to notice a new book. And I know y’all have the power to get schtuff noticed, especially thrillers with bite. 🙂

On to our regularly scheduled Monday Mentions, the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all. The second short video of SQUEE! cute cats is sure to relieve stress (it did mine, anyway!).

WRITER-ICTY SCHTUFF

Agent as Publisher–Sorta-Kinda

New Kindleboards Blog this is something to watch, Indies!

Bonfire of the Straw Man an awesome post from David Gaughran that debunks some of the strangest arguments AGAINST indies

5 Keys to Writing Success from social media maven Kristin Lamb

Panic Attacks and help for writers and other creative folks from Kristin Nador

8 Easy Social Media Tips from Jenny Hansen

The Science of Disgust who knew it was a protective mechanism?

How To Self Pub and Ebook some good general info

NetGalley for reviewers finding great books

FAKE Reviews? Say it ain’t so!

50 Shades of Grateful a peek into new (old) realms for writers from Tameri Etherton

PET-ICITY SCHTUFF

Recalled Metal Pet Bowls …can you say RADIOACTIVE?! Sheesh

Call for Winn Feline Foundation Research Grants

Readers Raise Funds to Save Bookstore Cat Awwwwwwwww…

Dog Training Controversy–Or Not? Great blog for those with questions!

TNR Pilot Program Success!

Video of Mugsy-Cat Fighting Gators wow

Keeping Puppy Feet Clean

Scary Coyote Encounter

Pet Population Shrinking?

Kitty Cams what the cats do–but is the evidence skewed? Check out this one that proves not all cats are killers and then decide.

Wonderful fun video below the Lee Child interview, sort of a cat’s eye review of a new cat tree, from Janea Kelly. Enjoy!

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Monday Mentions: Birdy Dancing, Co Dreaming & PUB DATE!

.

Maurice, the dragon wordsmith of all things writerly.

All this inspiration worked. My thriller LOST AND FOUND was conceived, plotted and finished during previous trips and I just found out the pub date:

September 20, 2012!

I will let you know just as soon as pre-orders are available. It will be published in print and all Ebook formats, woot! I just got my copy edits back in time to input the results of the “name” contest–will it feature your cat or dog favorite name? You’ll want to check out the voting for NAME THAT DOG and NAME THAT CAT polls. So far the dog names Dakota and Bruno are nearly neck-and-neck, while cat names Macy and Karma are top contenders. Votes close July 31.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Social Media Vs Big-A$$ Book Reviews which sells more books?

Bloomsbury Ebook Sales Up 70%

James Scott Bell Writer Workshop in Nashville Aug 11-12

Top 10 Brain Myths fun stuff!

Facebook “Page” vs “Profile” some good info and tips

Ebooks Now Dominate Fiction Sales

Penguin Buys Author Solutions   will they continue the program or kill the competition? Hmnnn.

Job Opening: Senior Editor Petside.com

Discoverability & Marketing Conference

CRITTER SCHTUFF

Cat Is The Mayor

Behavior Express Tour “Keep LOVE Alive” coming to city near you? Solving pet behavior problems, expert help.

Hero Dog Awards Announced! wow, what amazing canines

Feline Husbandry the book by Neils Pedersen now available in PDF (free!)

The Ecology of Disease scary and true! Bats to pigs to people? Oh my…

White Nose Syndrome in Bats

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Don’t forget to vote for your NAME THAT DOG/CAT character choice in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Monday Mentions: Packing, Parenting & Problems

On Thursday I depart for THRILLERFEST! Yay, I can’t wait! I have a bunch of postcards printed with information about my debut thriller Lost and Found and plan to hand ’em out to readers interested in an “advance look” with an eye toward reviewing the story. If you’re interested, let me know–I’ll keep a list of emails/contact info from the comments section on the book page.

Just so’s ya know, the month of July also will be head-down busy dealing with some angst-icity challenges. One of the problems with being passionate about causes and organizations is that sometimes folks don’t agree with each others’ opinions. That’s perfectly understandable. But it can cause hurt feelings when intentions and/or responses are misinterpreted and unexpected hurtful reactions come from people you respect, admire, or even believe to be friends. Treat Sweet Tweets Right–er, Write, the Hospice Way from awesome blogger Piper Bayard really helped me with this–and maybe it will help readers if/when you find yourself in similar situations.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. And I’m nobody’s parent–except for the fur-kids, of course. But after some public “doing what’s ethically right” stands in three very different recent situations and being misunderstood,  I’m taking a break from angst long enough for the bruises to fade and am reevaluating such things. Meanwhile, I’ll be busy brainstorming next thrillers–make believe thrills appeal to me at the moment!–as well as preparing for the next play production(s) (yes there are TWO in the works!), so stay tuned.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Lots of fun videos today, too, including some PARENT stuff! Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all. PLEASE add your suggestions to the “Name That Dog/Cat” contest because next week the voting begins!

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Designing From Bones on cannibalism, awesome post from Gene Lempp

CJ Lyons Indie Success! and you can’t even hate CJ, she’s an awesomely nice person!

WORST Book Covers EVER! a hilarious blog from Colin Falconer

Marketing for Romance Writers with some free online classes, too

Publishing Predictions Score, an interesting evaluation

New Suspense How-To Blog from the awesome Rebecca York, something for all writers!

The Perfect Blog Post template anyone?

Top 25 Free Mysteries & Thrillers from iTunes

Authors Guild & Writers from David Gaughran

Global Book Awards Finalists

Neato writer conference over Labor Day (see video below) and my publisher Bob Mayer (plus many others!) will be there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu2jcSFw5kc

PET SCHTUFF

Dog Nurses Orphan Kitten

Pets In Nursing Homes–lower infection risk!

Ape Intellect another great shared link from Jane Miller

Pet Funeral Industry Changes

Dog Memoirs…but where are the cat books?

Kangaroo Paw Preferences–are they right-pawed or left-pawed?

Top 25 CAT Bloggers of 2012!

A couple more videos on ‘parenting’ enjoy!

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter . Don’t forget to check out the NAME THAT DOG/CAT character in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Woof Wednesday: Name That Dog!

Uschi with toy
Some of y’all know that my debut thriller LOST AND FOUND will be published this fall. Last night I sent back edits to my publisher and now we’re working on cover design. It’s a challenge because–well–it has to be right!

Why do I talk about thriller fiction in a Woof Wednesday blog? Because a main character in the book is Shadow, a nine-month-old German shepherd being trained as a service dog for a young boy. Like most authors, I truly KNOW what my characters look like, how they talk and act, and what they feel.

Even Shadow, the dog. Especially Shadow. He is, in fact, one of my viewpoint characters. At a recent writer’s seminar on pitching (a shorthand way of describing the book) I described the book like this:

“In LOST AND FOUND an animal behaviorist and service dog must find an autistic child lost in a blizzard in this adult thriller with the medical tension of Robin Cook and the heart of The Art of Racing In the Rain.”

Hey, I can dream that readers will agree!

Meanwhile, tomorrow I have a photo shoot with a potential cover-dog model for the book. You see, many of the stock photos available of German shepherds either aren’t the right color (black) or the wrong age. And nope, Magical-Dawg is too big/mature for the right look (shhhh, don’t say that out loud or you’ll hurt his doggy feelings!) but one of his relatives might have the right look. Get a load of this gorgeous GSD, already with a tracking dog title at 6 months old, wow!
Chew toy

My blog followers, Facebook friends, nonfiction book readers and pet writing colleagues have been so much a part of this fiction journey, I want to include YOU in the book, too. Shadow is already a main character in the story. But there is a second tracking dog featured, as well several other “relatives” of that canine that are mentioned.

I’d like to give y’all the opportunity to name those dog characters–name them after YOUR furry wonder, for instance, or a beloved pet that has passed on, or a friend’s dog or even a human relative–your choice. Many of y’all already subscribe to my Pet Peeves newsletter, which hasn’t gone out in a while due to other deadlines 🙂 . I’ll post a reminder in the next several blogs about this to subscribe to the newsletter for your chance to NAME THAT DOG in the forthcoming Lost And Found thriller.

Those who win the naming opportunity will also receive a free copy of the book, and a mention in the acknowledgements. Oh, and let me know in the comments–have you ever won a similar “naming” contest? How’d that work out? I know that the Thrillerfest folks auction off naming characters as ways to raise funds for charity but this time around, I want it to be free–and fun for you, too. How should I pick the winner? Please weigh in with your thoughts.

UPDATE

Here’s how I’ve decided to choose the winner(s). Depending on the response, I will select (random drawing) 10-15 dog names and 10-15 cat names, and YOU WILL VOTE (get your friends to campaign for you!) to select the final names to appear in the book.

Those who win the naming will not only get furry bragging rights, and an ADVANCE FREE COPY of the book, but also an acknowledgement in the book itself with a tidbit about your pet who shares that name. Sound good? Be sure to post your suggested name asap–I’ll need to send final edits to my editor probably by the end of July!

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter for your chance to NAME THAT DOG character in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Thrillerfest, Pet Whisperers & Veterinary Hospice

After an exhausting but exhilarating opening weekend of the show Fiddler On The Roof, I’m ready to return focus to the writer-icity schtuff. Oh, the show runs every weekend this month so I’ll have that to look forward to.

But meanwhile I only have a bit more to go on the thriller edits before sending back to my editor. AND I got my panel assignments for Thrillerfest where the awesome Allison Brennan will again be panel master. Our topic focuses on HOW DO YOU CREATE A SPELLBINDING SERIES CHARACTER? Other folks on the panel include:

Allison Brennan (Panel Master) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 18 romantic thrillers and multiple short stories, and the author of the Lucy Kincaid series.

Jan Burke is a critically acclaimed and national bestselling author of fourteen books—twelve of crime fiction, a supernatural thriller, and a collection of short stories.

William Dietrich is the NY Times bestselling author of 15 books, including the Ethan Gage series of Napoleonic adventures that has sold into 28 languages.

Jack Hoban served as a US Marine Corps officer and is a subject matter expert on close combat who “trained” Nick Heller of the Joseph Finder thriller series.

Avalon Books published Victoria M. Johnson’s fiction debut. As a filmmaker, Victoria writes and directs short thriller films. Her upcoming thriller, The Sea of Cortez, introduces Connie and Jeff York.

Sharon Linnéa is the author of the bestselling Eden Thrillers, featuring Army Chaplain Jaime Richards.  These Violent Delights is the first of her new Movie Mystery Series.

Amy Shojai is the award winning author of 24 pet care titles, and channels her “inner bitch”  to write in dog-viewpoint in her debut thriller LOST AND FOUND which introduces series character animal behaviorist September Day and Shadow, the service dog she’s trained.

Debra Webb is a multi-published, best-selling author who writes spine-tingling romantic suspense and has just launched her first thriller series, the Faces of Evil, with the debut novel OBSESSION.

Yes, I’m feeling seriously outclassed and hope to learn a LOT from the other panelists. I’d encourage y’all to post any questions you might have for the panel and I’ll pass them on to Allison, and give a recap after the conference in July. Incidentally, the Craftfest classes and Agentfest (speed dating with agents!) will again be awesome this year.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

WANA INTERNATIONAL LAUNCHES! the brainchild of Kirsten Lamb, this is a community of and for artists with more than 40 online instructors, a great resource for stay-at-home writers who can’t attend conferences. I’ll be teaching “virtual” classes here in the future.

What Does “Content Abundance” Mean and should you care?

BlogPaws Registration, a social media marketing conference especially for pet writers (do you channel your inner fur-kid?). And don’t miss voting for your Petties (pet blogger awards)

Facebook Counts “Viral” Shares

Pinterest-Friendly Blog Posts from the terrific August McLaughlin

Whispering Prairie Press contest info

How Amazon Saved My Life a great essay from a traditionally pub’d author (and daughter/co-author with mom Susan Conant of the dog lovers mysteries)

Self Pub’ing with Book Baby

KOBO Self Pub’ing Program Launched I understand this is similar to the Kindle program

Interesting Survey of Self Pub’d Authors, who does it, what’s the success rate, and more

10 Facebook Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

PET SCHTUFF

The Dog Whisperer Show Cancelled

Dogs In The City trainer a fraud? hoo boy…is it too much to ask for the “experts” to really be experts???

CATS.About.com Franny Syufy Interview, now here’s a REAL expert!

Feral & TNR Facts interesting schtuff here

Pet Requiem offers house call veterinary service and end-of-life care for pets, what a compassionate and innovative practice!

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Writer-icity & Pet Talk

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.

Awesome Shirt Folding Tips! from Margaret Miller’s Blog, this is amazing, you gotta see!

Own Your Beauty–It’s Contagious from the awesome blogger Myndi Shafer

Facebook Timeline Tips from Lorie Huston

WRITER SCHTUFF

Kansas Writers Association “Scene 2012” Writer Workshop, and yes, I’m a speaker offering sessions on “kindle-ization” and “media training for authors.” Come say howdy…I’ll be wearing the sparkles (surprise!)

AgentFest, a part of Thrillerfest with some awesome opportunities for writers (yes, I’ll be there)

Branding For Sissies Hey if I can do this so can you. Just sayin’ . . .

Book Club for Authors/Readers a fee-based sign up for authors to get works-in-progress in front of readers for feedback.

RWA®’s Kiss of Death Chapter presents~~ The 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery Suspense

Heightening Suspense from Guest Blogger Jodie Renner

Gorgeous Mousepads! for spiffing up you office decor (yes, I want one of these…)

Writer Beware on Trusting Sources (or Not)

Turning Author Site Into A Store tips from Jen Talty

Tribr How-To from the awesome Jenny Hansen

PINTEREST SCHTUFF

Pinterest for Biz

How Pinterest Engages Better than Twitter Et Al,

How Random House Uses Pinterest

Pinterest Boo-Boos to Beware

Embrace Your Inner Doberman from Sonia Medeiros, good info for anyone including writers

PETS & ANIMAL SCHTUFF

VAFA Shelter Now on PetFinder yeee-haw! This is the FIRST animal shelter in Iran, and dogs fostered in the US now can find their forever-homes via PetFinder connection. Here’s a video you MUST SEE of two rescue GSD-mix pups on grass for the first time.

Pet Industry Estimates $53 Billion Spending

9 Dental Issues You Share With Pets, my latest at Huffington Post

Zero Odor Wins Product of the Year Award! If you haven’t tried this product, check it out

A Beloved Horse Lost–and Found! this is a 3-hanky story you’ll love!

Lost Woman’s Cat Never Leaves Her Side

Australia’s Love-Hate with the Dingo

Greyhound Races Thing of the Past?

Animal Sounds Around the World you say toMAtoe, and I say meow…

NPR Transcript Discusses Animal-Human Bond Benefits

So…what’s the cat saying? And does the toddler understand? Are both “learning” from the communication?

http://ww.www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpYyTeQhX48

Totally tongue-in-cheek how animals talk (or beak in feathers…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUyKNMBOh8I

Westchester Cat Show Interview

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

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