Rabbit Care

 

Rabbits may be easy to love, but they are not quite as easy to care for.  Rabbits are social creatures and wonderful companions to people who take the time to learn about their needs.  Below is an outline of how to care for these adorable creatures.

 

Read more: Rabbit Care

Feline Aggression

ButtersHiRes 2 WebGot a feisty kitty that plays a little too rough (with your feet, perhaps)? Here are some tips on getting better behavior.

Playtime

  • Increase the amount of interaction playtime you have with your cat. (These type of toys can be purchased at Tri-County Humane Society’s store; all the proceeds go back to the animals.) Interactive toys should always be kept out of the animal’s reach if it’s unsupervised.
  • Always use a toy to distract the animal. If you can predict the cat’s attacks, toss a toy in front of you to attract the cat’s attention away from your feet.
  • All family members should avoid rough play with the cat.
  • Consider a young feline companion to help give your older cat some exercise. Two is better than one!

Overpetting

Have you ever been petting a cat, enjoying the interaction, then all of a sudden the animal nips (or worse) at you? This isn’t uncommon, and usually the cat gives you a warning that he or she is about to strike:

  • The look. Most cats stiffen a bit, twitch their tails or turn their heads quickly as you’re petting them. Their pupils are often dilated.
  • Good with the bad. If your cat’s threshold for petting is low, try combining a meal or treat with the petting. If your cat can handle very little attention, only pet him or her once or twice before offering the snack.

Physical Pain

Cats can lash out when they’re in physical pain, which is why some veterinarians take special measures to ensure their safety.

  • If you need to medicate an infected ear or change a bandage, you may choose to use a towel restraint or similar tool.
  • Ask an expert. If your cat is acting unnaturally aggressive, schedule a vet’s visit right away.

Anxiety Around Strangers

  • If your cat is nervous around strangers, have the guests slowly enter a room – maybe they can poke their head in first. Ask them not to look directly at the cat. If the cat doesn’t appear stressed, offer a treat. Then the strangers (aka your guests) can move closer into the room, and you can repeat the process.
  • If your pet continues to be anxious, consult your veterinarian. An anti-anxiety medication or product may be necessary.

Redirected Aggression

  • A cat may become intensely aroused by a loud, startling noise, the sight, smell or sounds of another animal, or unfamiliar people or places. That could lead to yowling, growls, stares and more unpleasantness. After one of these incidents, it’s best to put the cat in a dark, quiet room. If handling the animal is impossible, the owners may need to leave the home for a few hours. The cat needs time to calm down.
  • If the cat has multiple episodes of redirected aggression, the owner may need to consult a behaviorist or vet for information. Or call Tri-County Humane Society at 320-252-0896.

Momma on Edge

  • Momma cat can be particularly protective of her new litter, especially against unaltered males. Maternal aggression is most problematic the first three to four weeks after birth.
  • Manage the aggression by leaving Momma Cat and her kittens mostly alone for the first few weeks if all are healthy. Later on, Momma Cat can be lured out of the nursery to be entertained with food or play while others socialize with the kittens.
  • Don’t forget to spay Momma Cat after the kittens are weaned.

Guarding One's Territory

  • If your cat gets aggressive when other people visit, consider asking your guests to wear freshly laundered clothes so the cat doesn’t smell the other person’s animals on his or her clothes.
  • If the cat still gets upset when visitors come, he or she may need to be confined during the visit.

Source: Adapted from information by Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

Stop Jumping Behavior

Jumping problems are most often found with adolescents (dogs 6 to 18 months old). Toy, terrier and sporting breeds such as Italian Greyhounds, Poodles, Jack Russells, and Labrador Retrievers are notorious jumpers. Dogs jump up because they want to get closer to someone’s face.

For most, peak jumping behavior is observed around mealtime, when you come home, walk time, out on the walk itself and when friends/relatives come over to visit. This problem can be solved by training. The proper amount of exercise for your dog’s breed type is of great help, too! Lack of exercise results in out-of-control whirlwinds who lack the ability to focus.

What to do:

  • When you see your dog rev up to leap, say “No, off!” and turn away from the dog. Removing your attention (a reward to the dog) is a gentle, effective way to correct the dog. As soon as he has settled either with four feet on the floor or in a sit/down-stay, turn back around, drop to your knees and quietly praise the dog.
  • Give the jumping behavior a name so you can turn it on and off (“leapin’ lizards,” “paws up,” or “feet up”). Teach your dog how to jump on command, then add “no” as in “no paws up” to let the dog know when you don’t want him to jump.
  • Give the dog something else to do. Obedience training is a strong plus when trying to get a jumping problem under control. A dog holding a sit or down-stay is not a jumping dog. When attempting the sit down or down-stay, avoid pushing, shoving, flapping your arms or other fast, excitable movements. Use a lure-reward method rather than physically manipulating the dog. Avoid raising your vocal tone or whining. All extra movements and excited vocalization will incite the dog.
  • To aid the dog in holding his sit or down when visitors arrive, put him on a leash before opening the door.
  • For an unfocused bouncing maniac, give him just enough leash to do a sit or down-stay and step on the rest. When the dog attempts to move, he will correct himself. (This may not work for a 100-pound person with a 200-pound dog, but it works well for most handlers.)
  • Be consistent. Never let the dog jump up without being directed to do so. A dog cannot distinguish between dirty, old blue jeans and a designer suit. He cannot tell which days is it OK to jump on you by what you are wearing or what the weather is like.
  • Be consistent with strangers, too. Don’t let someone confuse your dog by stopping you in mid-correction by saying, “It’s OK, I just loooooove dogs” while stroking him and rewarding him for his misbehavior. There is nothing wrong with not allowing people to pet your dog unless he is on a stay command. Guests to your home are no exception. Warn them beforehand (“I’m training my dog not to jump up unless commanded. I could really use your help. Please don’t pet him or even acknowledge him unless he’s holding his stay.”)
  • For the slow learner, jumping setups are in order. On a weekend or vacation day, arrange for a friend, neighbor or relative to ring your doorbells every 10 to 15 minutes for a couple of hours. Each time, put your dog on a leash, command him to down or sit-stay and open the door and greet your visitor. Sometimes giving the dog a distinct place such as a small foyer rug helps him to focus on his job (go to your place and lie down). Your visitor can give your pup a treat or a tickle if he is behaving, but should ignore him if he is not. Once the dog is under control, the visitor leaves, only to return again in another 10 to 15 minutes. This goes on until Rover understands his job is to stay put until he is told to do otherwise.

What not to do:

  • Remember that your dog is your friend and companion. There is no need to knee him in the chest, hit him on the head, squeeze his front paws or step on his back feet. By teaching him the acceptable behavior and rewarding him for carrying it out, you become the fair, humane leader every dog needs.

Source: Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

Microchipping: What You Need to Know

pet-microchip

*All cats and dogs adopted from TCHS are microchipped.

Microchips have been particularly useful in the return of lost pets.  They can also assist where the ownership of an animal is in dispute.

How Microchips Work:

A microchip with a unique ID number is inserted into the animal.  It is very small, about the size of a piece of rice, and is inserted under the skin with a syringe just like a vaccination. It is not a tracking device but a source of identification.

All lost pets that are found and taken to animal control facilities, animal shelters or veterinary clinics are scanned to see if a chip exists.  If one is detected, a code appears and the microchip recovery service may provide the owner's name and contact information to reunite the lost pet with their owner.

Cat Socialization

MickeyHiRes for webDoes your cat go into hiding whenever guests arrive? There are steps you can take to help boost their comfort with socialization. Remember: All socialization should be based on one principle: Reinforce social behavior; ignore asocial behavior. Here are some tips:

  • Consider a cattery cage. Cats learn by watching, and they feel secure in a large cage in which they can view the world without people getting in their space.
  • Keep it calm. Put the cattery in a room with moderate traffic. If the animal is super stressed, put it in a quiet room.
  • Get the cattery set up. Place a covered cat bed or a cardboard box with a hole for a door in the cattery along with a small litter pan. No room for a bed? Drape half the cage with a towel so the cat can hide.
  • Everything in its place. Put the cat’s water opposite the litter plan. Feed regularly, at least three times a day. Leave the food in the cage for 15 minutes, and then remove leftovers. Don’t interact with the cat during the feedings.
  • Act natural. Go about your day like normal; if you live alone, talk to yourself so the cat gets used to your voice.
  • Attract the cat. Do “cat-enticing behaviors” in front of the cattery such as folding laundry. Pique their interest, but keep the activities low key.
  • Feeding, bonding. Once the cat is comfortable eating, try leaving your hand a few feet from the dish. Move it closer, slowly with each feeding, until the cat eats comfortably with your hand nearby. Or try putting a small amount of tasty food such as tuna oil or anchovy paste on your hand and place it near the cat nonchalantly. If the cat licks you, softly praise him or her; don’t blurt out, “Good kitty!”
  • Treat trade. When the cat consistently comes to your hand for a treat, try putting your hand in the cattery without a treat. If the cat comes, give him or her a treat with your other hand.
  • Exploring the home. Once the cat is comfortable taking treats in the cattery, the door to the cattery can be opened. Make sure the door to the room is closed. The cat should explore one room at a time.
  • Always remember patience. Socialization can take a while. Just remember to reinforce good behaviors - with a treat!

Source: Adapted from information by Elizabeth Teal, former ASPCA animal behavior counselor

 PRINTABLE  Feline socialization.pdf

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