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. 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!

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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!

Stages of Puppy Development: Birth to Two Years

Puppy development is fascinating, and one of the most popular dog topics. We got a new puppy last summer, and even now, I’m learning new things about new puppy development. Did you know that the adult incisors (next to the canines) erupt at age 16 weeks? That’s a way to help age your new baby dog.

Along the way, puppies tend to get into all kinds of things–we laugh, but then we might cry if they hurt themselves. Shadow-Pup at nine months takes his delinquent duties seriously. Refer to this post for puppy proofing tips. 

Did you ever wonder about the stages of puppy development? Some of this has to do with the dog breed, but all newborn puppies (whatever the breed) look surprisingly similar. They also develop along the same period of time. Look no further, I’ve got you covered!

newborn puppy

Newborn puppy yawning. Images courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Puppy Development, Birth to Two Years

We consider dogs puppies from birth to one year of age and go through several puppy stages and puppy bookpuppy development periods. However, each dog develops differently, with smaller dogs tending to mature earlier and some large breeds not physically mature before they are two years old.

Newborn puppies vary in size depending on the breed; tiny dogs like the Chihuahua produce puppies sized about four inches long, while giant breed newborns like Great Dane puppies may be twice that size. The rate of puppy development also varies from breed to breed. For instance, Cocker Spaniel puppies open their eyes sooner than Fox Terrier puppies, and Basenji puppies develop teeth earlier than Shetland Sheepdog puppies. However, no matter the breed, all puppies are born totally dependent on the momma dog, technically called the bitch.

You’ll also find all the must-know puppy information in my COMPLETE PUPPY CARE book.

Newborns & Puppy Development

At birth, puppies are blind, deaf and toothless, unable to regulate body temperature, or even urinate or defecate on their own. Puppies depend on their mother and littermates for warmth, huddling in cozy piles to conserve body temperature. A puppy separated from this warm furry nest can quickly die from hypothermia—low body temperature. Cold, lonely puppies cry loudly to alert Mom to their predicament.

Puppies first experience the sensation of being petted when washed by their mother’s stroking tongue. The bitch licks her babies all over to keep them and the nest clean, and also to stimulate them to defecate and urinate.

Neonatal Period of Puppy Development: Birth to Two Weeks

From birth, puppies are able to use their sense of smell and touch, which helps them root about the nest to find their mother’s scent-marked breasts. The first milk the mother produces, called colostrum, is rich in antibodies that provide passive immunity and help protect the babies from disease during these early weeks of life. It’s vital to keep puppies safe from parasites or diseases that can cause devastating diarrhea dangerous for youngsters.

For the first two weeks of life, puppies sleep nearly 90 percent of the time, spending their awake time nursing. All their energy is funneled into growing, and birth weight doubles the first week. Newborns aren’t able to support their weight, and crawl about with paddling motions of their front legs. The limited locomotion provides the exercise that develops muscles and coordination, and soon the puppies are crawling over and around each other and their mother.

puppy growthTransitional Period: Week Two-to-Four

The second week of life brings significant changes for the puppy. Ears and eyes sealed since birth open during this period, ears at about two weeks and eyelids between ten to 16 days. This gives the furry babies a new sense of their world. They learn what their mother and other dogs look and sound like, and expand their own vocabulary from grunts and mews to yelps, whines and barks. Puppies stand by day 15 and take their first wobbly walk by day 21.

By age three weeks, puppy development advances from the neonatal period to the transitional period. This is a time of rapid physical and sensory development, during which the puppies go from total dependence on Mom to a bit of independence. They begin to play with their littermates, learn about their environment and canine society, and begin sampling food from Mom’s bowl. Puppy teeth erupt until all the baby teeth are in by about five to six weeks of age. The babies will want to chew everything. Be careful about swallowed objects at this age.

Puppies can control their need to potty by this age, and begin moving away from sleeping quarters to eliminate. Learn about potty training puppies here.

Socialization Period of Puppy Development: Week Four-to-Twelve

Following the transitional phase, puppies enter the socialization period at the end of the third week of life; it lasts until about week ten. It is during this socialization period that interaction with others increases and puppies form attachments they will remember the rest of their life. The most critical period–age six to eight weeks–is when puppies most easily learn to accept others as a part of their family.

Beginning at four weeks of age, the bitch’s milk production begins to slow down just as the puppies’ energy needs increase. As the mother dog slowly weans her babies from nursing, they sample solid food in earnest.

The environmental stimulation impacts your puppy’s rate of mental development during this time. The puppy brain waves look that of an adult dog by about the 50th day, but he’s not yet programmed–that’s your job, and the job of his mom and siblings. Weaning typically is complete by week eight.

newfoundland puppy laying down - twelve weeks old

12 week old Newfoundland puppy

Puppy Development Week Eight-to-Twelve

Puppies often go through a “fear period” during this time. Instead of meeting new or familiar people and objects with curiosity, they react with fearfulness. Learn about puppy introductions in this post. Anything that frightens them at this age may have a lasting impact so take care you don’t overstimulate the baby with too many changes or challenges at one time. That doesn’t mean your pup will grow up to be a scaredy-cat; it’s simply a normal part of development where pups learn to be more cautious. Careful socialization during this period helps counter fear reactions.

However, they will be better adjusted and make better pets by staying and interacting with littermates and the Mom-dog until they are at least eight weeks old–older is better. Interacting with siblings and Mom help teach bite inhibition, how to understand and react to normal canine communication, and their place in doggy society. Puppies make transitions from one environment to another more easily at this age, too.

Whippet puppy, 6 months old, sitting in front of white background

6 month old Whippet.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Puppy Diarrhea, Home Remedies & When to Call The Vet

We love snuggling baby dogs with sweet puppy breath, Frito-smelling toes, lap snuggles, and then–OH NO, puppy diarrhea! What’s a pet parent to do about dog loose motion? We’ve already had this issue with our new pup, Shadow, and had to deal with it.

Of course, adult dogs also suffer from the occasional loose stool as well. At any age, dog diarrhea can be a sign of something serious that needs immediate attention. This is not about puppy accidents during house training, but an illness your dog can’t control. Knowing home remedies, dog first aid, and when to call the vet about puppy diarrhea could save your pet’s life.

If your dog is also VOMITING, click here to get the free tips sheets.
puppy diarrhea

Puppy diarrhea ranks near the top as a common puppy problem, and being familiar with dog diarrhea treatment is important. Mild cases may be treated at home and get better but diarrhea can be deadly especially for puppies.

When you have a dog, poop happens. Knowing what to do is key, and it’s vital to recognize the difference between an aggravation and an emergency, and what to do with both.

Diarrhea isn’t a disease. It’s a sign of illness and may be caused by many different conditions.

Shih Tzu puppy, 3 months old, sitting in front of white background

Causes Of Puppy Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be associated with viruses such as parvovirus and distemper. It also can be caused by intestinal parasites like whipworms, hookworms; protozoan such as giardia, bacterium like salmonella and E. coli. Some types of intestinal parasites can be very difficult for veterinary tests to detect and it can take many tests over weeks to obtain a diagnosis.

Puppies also may develop diarrhea from a sudden change of diet, or even swallowed foreign objects. The stress of coming to a new home could prompt loose stools or vomiting. Overfeeding or eating out of the garbage also causes tummy upsets. Without knowing the cause, the right treatment can’t be suggested.

sick dogKinds of Puppy Diarrhea to See The Vet Immediately!

Diarrhea can point to conditions that could kill your puppy. Don’t wait—the resulting dehydration can make puppies even sicker.

A couple of years ago, Magic suffered from a bout of explosive diarrhea. I’d been called for jury duty, so I was gone–and discovered his illness when I returned home after the first day of service. Yikes! Magic had been drinking from the water-filled tank (aka man-made pond) on our property, and we suspected the run-off infected him with some type of parasite. It required a couple of weeks of medication for him to feel better. Had he been a baby, the situation could have been life-threatening. See the veterinarian immediately if your puppy’s diarrhea:

  • Looks black with a tar-like consistency
  • Smells extremely foul
  • Contains large amounts of red blood
  • Diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, severe pain, fever, appetite loss or lethargy.

Depositphotos_18034765_originalHow to Treat Dog & Puppy Diarrhea At Home

It’s always best to get a vet check first. But your vet may recommend milder forms of diarrhea be treated at home. For instance, if it’s been less than three days, the dog or puppy still feels and acts well, and the diarrhea has a pudding-like appearance, home care may help.

Make sure that water remains always available. It’s very easy for puppies to quickly become dehydrated. A sudden watery diarrhea can spill large amounts of fluid and important minerals out of the body.

  • Withhold food for 24 hours to let his tummy rest
  • Then offer bland meals (one-part boiled egg with two parts rice or cooked macaroni) in four to six servings for several days
  • Gradually transition the meals to regular food. Mix half/half, gradually increasing to regular food by end of the week.

It often takes a couple of days for your puppy’s tummy to calm down, and a bland diet can help. You’ll find all the must-know puppy-licious info in the book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE (much of it applies to adult dogs, too!).

Are you also dealing with vomiting? Learn more about dog vomiting and what you can do in this post about puppy and doggy vomiting. Or click below to get the quick tips list for treating vomiting at home (or making your dog vomit, in case of poisoning!).

CLICK to get TIPS: TREAT VOMITING AT HOME!

Has your dog ever suffered from diarrhea? Seems like it always happens on a holiday or weekend, too! What did you do? Although dealing with diarrhea stinks, knowing what to do can ensure that everything comes out all right. Literally.

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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!

 

 

Have You Howled Today? Why Dogs Howl & What it Means

Do your dogs howl? Lately, Magical-Dawg has begun howling more often. For northern breeds, dog howling comes very naturally, but for my aging German Shepherd, his howls are more unusual. Oh, he’s always howled when I sing certain notes (everyone’s a critic!), and the coyotes sing a chorus when the tornado sirens sound. This was different.

WHY DOGS HOWL

Magic began a low “ar-ooooo-woo-woo” and slowly cranked it up. This happened early in the morning, before we’d got up. My husband and I figured he needed out–he did–and didn’t pay that much attention to it. But then Magic also howled outside the bathroom door when my husband showered. He came into the room and howled during my shower, too.

This went on for three or four days, just prior to his yearly veterinary exam. We’d been a bit worried about some of Magic’s aging issues anyway (read about his check up in this post). And I now realize I never mentioned the howling to the vet.

But…once Magic was given medication for his achy 10-year-old arthritic issues, the howling stopped. Lesson learned–howling may be MORE than the “usual suspects,” which I cover in the short Ask Amy video, below. Enjoy!

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

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. 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, 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!

Must Know Puppy Care & Puppy Play Tips

NEW-PUPPY-COVER-kindleReminder, gang…for some reason this poor lil’ puppy book hasn’t been widely adopted. So I’m again making it available for reviews. Message me in the comments if interested!

COMPLETE PUPPY CARE is now available for your puppy-licious reading pleasure. I’ve included a brief excerpt below about how to tell when GOOD puppy play tips over into DANGEROUS games. That’s just the tip of the furry info, though. Please share the news about this book with all your puppy and dog loving peeps.

WANT A FREE PDF TO REVIEW?

COMPLETE PUPPY CARE includes more than two-dozen SQUEEE! cute puppy pictures (including Magical-Dawg as a baby), plus all the puppy must-knows. Those who subscribe to my PET PEEVES newsletter (click here & get another book free!) got the news early–and TEN folks won a free copy in exchange for posting an honest review. I’m nervously nail-biting until those get posted!

I’ll make the same offer here–post in the comments for a chance to review a free PDF copy of the book (the first 10 requests get the book!).

ABOUT COMPLETE PUPPY CARE…

Nothing beats a cute puppy for love, but proper puppy care and training prepares you and your new dog for a healthy and long life together. This up to date new guide provides a “Puppies 101” packed with veterinary facts, health care advice, how-to tips, and fascinating information about:

  • Choosing, training and communicating with your new puppy
  • Pros and cons of purebred versus shelter/rescue sources
  • Understanding common behavior problems and how to prevent them
  • Food, grooming and humane training recommendations
  • Tips for introducing your puppy to adult dogs, cats, babies and kids
  • The latest veterinary recommendations for preventive care
  • How to recognizing common health issues, and what to do
  • First aid and home remedies that save you money—and your puppy’s life!
  • More than two-dozen SQUEE! cute puppy pictures
  • Canine legends, myths and fun puppy facts including: Why puppies drink from the toilet, why dogs act guilty, reasons dogs hump your leg, and more!

COMPLETE PUPPY CARE empowers you with all the information necessary for your puppy to grow up into the happy, healthy dog you both deserve.

PlayHERE’S THE EXCERPT…

“Just Kidding” During Play

Dogs use exaggerated behaviors, called meta signals, to tell other dogs all action that comes after is not serious but a game. For instance, the play-bow is a butt-in-the-air with front-end down position where the pup’s forelegs dance back and forth to invite play. When your puppy first play-bows, he’s
telling you that any growls or wrestling that comes after are meant as fun and games.

Adult dogs often “pretend” to be subordinate to a puppy—with play bows or rolling on the back—to build up the pup’s confidence and invite him to play. This “just kidding” game allows lower-ranking pups to practice being in charge with play bites, mounting behavior, and wrestling games. Once the
play is over, the higher-ranking dog again assumes his more “mature” behavior that tells the pup to respect his leadership.

BAD VS GOOD PLAY—KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE

Dogs of all ages enjoy playing. Behaviors for fighting and fun are similar, but you must know how to tell the difference between aggression and play-acting. Watch for “meta signals” which tells participants that whatever comes after is meant in a “play” context.

Dogs commonly drop toys on your feet or lap to solicit a game, and offer toys to other dogs in the same way. A play bow—the dog sticks his butt and tail into the air, and bows forward on lowered forelegs that dance side to side—is the classic signal and invitation for the games to begin. Often, the
“fighting” behaviors seen during such games will be exaggerated to indicate play, or the “fight” behavior sequences may be jumbled.

Play includes inhibited mouth-open bites often aimed at the legs and paws of other dogs. Dogs also paw and bat each other without force to hurt. In appropriate play, all the dogs willingly participate. If you suspect one of the dogs doesn’t like the activity (one dog repeatedly tries to escape or hide),
gently separate the pair to see if they go back for more. If the play session was too rough, one will sneak away.

Inappropriate play results in one or more dog frightened, hurt, or overwhelmed. Bully dogs always end up on top, while in appropriate play you’ll see dogs take turns chasing and pinning each other during wrestling. Mouthing aimed primarily at the head or neck, or uninhibited bites means play has gotten out of hand. You’ll hear yelps from the bitten dog.

Consistent play up on hind legs may indicate problems. Ongoing mounting, clasping and thrusting also can lead to problems, as can resting of paws, heads or whole bodies across other dog’s shoulders to intimidate or achieve social status.

Growls don’t usually indicate problems, but play can be so exciting that the action escalates into aggression. Listen for louder, lower pitched growls,and be prepared to break up the session before they get too aroused.

***

Okay now, what about YOUR puppies and dogs? How do they play? Is it polite, taking turns, or is there some bully behavior involved? At my house, Magical-Dawg’s best play buddy is Karma-Kat and that involves a whole new set of signals.

Don’t forget–post your comment for a chance to review a free copy of the book!

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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!