One thing South Africans from all backgrounds have in common is that we usually enjoy parties, dinner arrangements, celebrations and of course the regular summer braai.
But we seldom consider our pets when hosting such events in our homes, which could result in unintended injuries and distress. So here are few tips that will go a long way in making sure the celebrations do not leave a bitter aftertaste:
*Do not feed turkey bones to your dogs. These may splinter and cut your pet’s stomach and intestines.
*Be careful with ribbons used as collars. These may be choking hazards.
*Do not over-indulge your dog with fatty leftovers. This could lead to pancreatitis.
*If pulling crackers, make sure the pets are not around as the bang is alarming and pets are hyper sensitive to this noise.
*Pick up all wrapping paper and non-degradable items, as pets eat anything and everything.
*If you own a cat, be careful of your floral arrangements. Lilies especially can be toxic.
*Cats love string and streamers as well as sparkly tinsel and fun, so watch that they do not get tangled or eat these items.
*If you are using props and large decorations, secure these so they do not fall on your pets.
*Blow out all candles if unattended. Mischievous kittens will knock and burn themselves and perhaps burn down the house as well.
The constant barking of a dog can be very frustrating for owners and neighbours alike. But barking is the only way your dog can communicate with you, so it would be a good idea to get familiar with the different types of barking and what you can do about it:
Distance decreasing: This type of barking can be considered attention-seeking barking. The dog is barking to communicate with the owner – “pay attention to me!”. This is often in the form of a low-pitched bark, stiffly wagging tail, rigid body posture, display of teeth, growling/snarling, snapping, kicking of back feet, etc.
Boredom: If your dog is barking because of boredom, consider more physical exercise and positive training. Introduce new toys and games e.g., Kong toys, kibble hunts, and chew toys.
Frustration: While some frustration barking is boredom barking, not all boredom barking is frustration barking. Dogs work on schedule and routine, so make it the same daily. Dogs also bark out of frustration when they are not sure what is expected of them – e.g. new environment or not enough training.
Invitation to play: “Hey, I want to meet/play with you NOW NOW NOW!” (puppy barking frequently falls in this category). These barks are generally high pitched, and are often accompanied by wagging “propeller tails”, loose and wiggly body language, play bows and jumping.
Alert barking: This is the bark we are most accustomed to and react to. A bark that tells us something is wrong.
Separation distress/anxiety: if your adult dog is alone for more than eight hours (or shorter periods for puppies), find a dog walker or pet sitter to break the day up, or provide her with mental stimulation through puzzle toys, kibble hunts, etc.
If your dog is injuring herself or destroying your home, urgently seek the assistance of a behaviourist in addressing the issue.
Are you thinking of adopting a pet from your local SPCA or some other place? If so, you may find this article to be of value in making the preparations.
Animal shelters in South Africa are full of pets desperately needing homes. This places a heavy burden on the shelters that can lead to animals being turned away or even being put down. By adopting instead of buying, you can play an important role in solving these problems in a wonderfully humane way and gain a furry friend at the same time.
There are many other benefits in adopting, including the lower cost involved and often finding that adopted pets are already spayed, vaccinated and in good health.
But introducing a new pet can be a stressful experience for everyone involved, so here are some tips in how to do so in the best possible way:
Give the new pet a safe place to live. A climbing cat needs a place where they can climb, look outside and feel safe. Provide a high chair with a warm blanket looking out of a window or door where the cat has a good view of the surroundings. For a cat that likes to be on the ground, creating a garden area for them where they can sniff and explore would be a welcome feature.
Let them explore the home safely. Keep the other pets at bay for a until they have fully explored the area.
Introduce the animals to your home and other animals in a safe and controlled environment e.g. either side of a door or gate. Keep their eating areas separate but in such a way that they still know the other animal is there. (For more information on looking after cats “My cat from hell” gives a loving way of dealing with cats).
Let them first sniff around on a leash, especially the front and back doors. Let them sniff toys of the other dogs, and give them their own toys with which to play.
Get your supplies ready: You will need a food bowl, leash, toys, waste bags, a litter tray.
Pet proof your home by removing dangerous items which a dog might chew e.g. cleaning plastic bottles. Be aware that cats like eating balls of wool which can hurt their insides!
Introduce the family quietly, and one at a time to not overwhelm the pet. This includes the other pets. Always introduce the “dominant” pet first as the other animals will follow their example.
Make sure the existing pets are still given adequate attention to prevent jealousy. Don’t leave the new pets with the other animals until safe, rather keep them in separate rooms if you are going out. Give them an adjustment period for both of you to get to know each other, especially if adopting an adult pet and not a puppy or kitten.
Give the pet a space which is their own, such as a dog bed or blanket and a set area for eating bowls.
Bring the dog straight home from the shelter: Keep away from doing extra errands on the way back as this puts extra strain on the pet.
Stay with the pet for a while, plan time around the pet to be there as much as possible until they are fully settled. Don’t leave a new pet unsupervised for too long.
Keep a routine with daily exercise, feeding times and predictable behaviour.
When greeting the pet, put out the back of your hand where they can sniff you. Avoid surprises and sudden noises while they are around.
During the initial introduction, avoid hugging, kissing, picking up the pet and head petting.