Thursday, July 25, 2013

Who’s the Most Pampered of Them All?

What’s the craziest thing you do for your pet?

All over the country, the phrase “pampered pets” is being taken to a whole new level by pet owners and enthusiasts looking for the very best for their furry friends. At Morris Animal Inn, we pamper our pets with cat and dog services like luxury kitty suites with televisions and our indoor pool and aqua center, and we are always excited to hear about new pet amenities. Here are some of our recent favorites!

In New York, one family has made the most of the space in their small Brooklyn home by creating what they call “Kittyloft”; an indoor cat playground that runs up and down their walls. Both interior designers, homeowners Bill Hilgendorf and Maria Christina Rueda told Forbes Magazine that they put their design skills to the test by creating a shelf-like, brightly colored obstacle course that leads their cats up and down sets of stairs, over doorframes and across kitchen cabinets. Their cats are known to run the loop at top speed! 

San Diego International Airport now offers unisex bathrooms… for pets! As reported by and Huff Post Live, the airport hosts a number of “Pet Relief” stations, which consists of an indoor room with fresh turf, a fire hydrant for pet pit-stops and even includes a bag dispenser for easy clean up and a hand-washing station for pet owners. Though all airports are required to have pet relief stations somewhere on site, this airport has given pups some first-class perks by moving stations to easily accessible indoor areas of the terminal. 

Rural Pennsylvania may be filled with woods for your dog to play in, but at one home in Newton Square, you’d never have to worry about muddy footprints on the carpet. The home, according to Forbes, devotes one of its four and a half bathrooms to the dogs with a customized dog “mudroom,” complete with a deep farmer’s sink, plenty of cabinet space and a built-in canine shower with a mosaic of pets running around the walls.

Though we can’t claim to have a “Kittyloft” of our own, our kitty playroom offers multiple climbing poles, laser light toys and even a kitty wheel! Do you have any crazy ways that you pamper your pet?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Does YOUR Dog Bark? Train Away Barking by Recognizing its Cause

All dogs can bark. Even the “barkless” dog, the Basenji, lets out a yodel-like howl that could put some barking dogs to shame. Regardless of when and where it happens, most pet owners are keen to put a stop to repetitive barking. In this case, training is more about controlling and stopping a behavior than it is teaching the dog to do something new.

Controlling your pet’s barking involves a lot more than just teaching your dog a “quiet” command. Our sister facility Morris K9 Campus, and professional dog trainer Christine Hibbard, delve into the different causes and types of barking on their blogs, “A Dog’s Life” and “Behind the Behavior.” The first step in training this behavior, they both agree, is to figure out what triggers the barking. Once you figure out what category your dog fits into, you can proceed to train them around that particular type of barking.

Alert Barking: Say your dog sees something out the window or hears a knock at the door and starts to bark. This is your dog’s way of alerting you to something out of the ordinary that they see or hear. This type of barking is often the least frowned-upon by pet owners; we all want our dogs to let us know when someone is approaching, right? Instead of scolding your dog, you can thank them for the initial bark but reward them for quietly coming to your side afterwards. Christine Hibbard elaborates on her blog with more on this type of alert barking training.

“Give Me That” Demand Barking: Whether they want you to play, feed them or take them for a walk, some dogs try to get your attention by barking. Responding to this at all, even with a punishment, actually enforces the idea that barking for attention works. Instead, you can ignore your dog’s barking or give them attention before or after barking starts and stops. Read more on “Give Me That” Barking on the Morris K9 Campus blog.

Separation Anxiety/Distress Barking: If your dog barks when left home alone, they could be experiencing a type of separation anxiety. The first thing to do is set up a camera or webcam to record and watch your dog’s exact behavior. Then you can try using a puzzle toy to feed them while you are away instead of feeding them in a dish when you get home. This may prove a distraction for your dog, as would many other toys, like a treat-stuffed Kong.

Fear Barking/Conflict Behavior Barking: Dogs will bark in an uncomfortable situation when they are confused or unsure. Whether the cause is a person, strange environment or other dog, move away from whatever it is that caused the reaction. This helps teach your dog that they don’t have to respond in an emotional or angry way in order to get their point across.

Frustration Barking: A squirrel, a neighbor’s dog or a car driving innocently down the street can all set a dog off. More than out of distress, this type of barking is how your dog expresses frustration at their inability to “get” the thing that they can see. This type of barking is best addressed once you know the exact cause. Training at a facility like Morris K9 Campus can pinpoint your dog’s frustration and help teach them to turn away from the stimuli if you give them a command.
We also have manners training here at Morris Animal Inn to help reinforce commands like sit, down and stay. A well trained dog will respond best to all of the barking training methods, and will lead to a peaceful, nearly “barkless” home!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pet Fire Safety Day

Curious pets may like to explore the house when left alone, but this can become life-threatening if your pet’s investigation accidentally leads to a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 1,000 house fires every year are started accidentally by pets.

July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety day, and in preparation for this day of recognition, Fire Department Network News offers a series of tips for helping prevent your pet from starting a fire in your home:

  • Extinguish open flames. A curious pet will surely investigate a candle flame, a dwindling fireplace fire or even left out cooking utensils. Make sure that all open flames are completely extinguished and stovetops cooled before leaving your pet alone in the house.
  • Remove stove knobs. Knobs on the front of a stove can easily be turned on by a jumping pet. Remove knobs or cover them before leaving the house so your pet can’t accidentally turn on your stove. It also can’t hurt to be sure that nothing flammable is near the stovetop, just in case.
  • Buy flameless candles. For the ambiance without the risk, flameless candles are a good option to prevent a fire started by the flick of a cat’s tail. 
  • Don’t leave water bowls on wooden decks. On a hot, sunny day, it makes sense to leave a bowl of water outside for your pet. Make it a stainless steel or ceramic bowl instead of a glass bowl, however, as the sun’s rays when filtered through the water and glass can heat up a deck below it and potentially set fire to the wood.
After making these precautions, you can do general pet proofing in your home by looking out for loose wires or other potential hazards. In case a fire does catch in your home, you can also take steps to keep your pets safe:

  • Keep pets near entrances. A pet with the run of the house may be hard to find should a rescue team need to run into the house. Keep your pet in areas close to entrances so that firemen could easily find and rescue your pet. Young pets especially should be kept in confined and easily-accessible areas where they cannot access potential hazards. 
  • Practice escape routes. Always keep collars and leashes ready should you need to make a quick escape with your pet.
  • Invest in smoke alarms AND smoke detection services. Smoke detectors can add an additional layer of protection for monitoring the environment around a pet that is home alone.
  • Hang up a pet alert window cling. Perhaps the most important precaution you can take is to make sure firefighters know that you have a pet inside by hanging up a pet alert window cling in a front window of your home. Label the cling with the number of pets, so a rescue team knows what to look for should you have a house fire or other accident. Morris Animal Inn is giving away free Fire Stickers to our clients on Monday, July 15 in honor of Pet Fire Safety Day. Stop by for your sticker to hang up in your window, and make sure your home is fire safety pet-proofed!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Couch Potato Pet – TV for Cats and Dogs?

Bouncing balls, birds and squirrels and flying Frisbees can all do wonders for capturing your pet’s attention. But what if these stimuli are on a TV screen?

DogTV, a subscription-based television channel made just for pets, offers a series of relaxing, stimulating, and even behavior-improving video segments for pets to watch from the comforts of home. The channel, launched in 2012, aims to provide distraction and entertainment for pets that tend to get into trouble when left home alone. At Morris Animal Inn, we play Critter TV in our luxury cat suites, where curious cats can watch birds hop around on the screen.

With all this modern technology going to the dogs (and cats!), we can’t help but wonder; do our pets really watch TV?

There is a range of opinions on the effectiveness of DogTV, as discussed on New York Times’ Well Pet blog. DogTV spokeswoman Bonnie Vieira explained that the show may serve as a calming tool. “For dogs who suffer from separation anxiety, DogTV is a tool that might help ease them, so maybe they’re not getting into trouble, and they’re happier, more relaxed, when you get home,” she said. 

The calming tool may be more for the humans than for the dogs, however, explained Dr. Ann E. Hohenhaus, a staff veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. “I think a lot of this is to make us feel better as opposed to making the pet happier,” she said, acknowledging that leaving DogTV on for a pet left at home alone may help give owners peace of mind that their dog will have something to do. 

Just like with humans, pets watching TV may be a simple matter of preference. Some dogs could enjoy watching television, while others might just not be interested. The chances of your pet tuning in are highest if the channel is played on a high-quality television and at the dog’s eye-level.

As for cats, a lot of our feline guests just can’t get enough of Critter TV. Watching becomes an interactive experience for the pets who swat at the screen to catch what they think are pesky birds.

What do you think? Could your furry friend be a Couch Potato Pet?