Felines on High!

Cats on High

We’ve all seen our cats perched in high places. In fact, if we don’t create environments for our cats that are rich with vertical territory options, they will often create their own, sometimes knocking down potted plants in the process. When you come home from work to find your cat on top of a shelf, your favorite books scattered on the floor beneath him, he’s giving you a hint that his territory needs some vertical enriching.

At the Barkery, we’ve got some great options for cat towers, but this article from Moderncat.com also gives a few ideas on how to give your cat a good perching space.

Though your cat is domestic, his need to perch can be traced back to his wildcat ancestry. Even when he is safe and happy in your home, his wildcat instincts are still ingrained in him and determine many of his actions, including avoiding potential dangers. In the wild, cats climb trees to escape predators and to gain a good vantage point to look for prey. The need to climb is so deep-rooted in your cat’s genetic makeup that he will seek out high places even in a home where he knows he is safe and well cared for.

cat-279032_640Jumping—along with scratching—is a cat behavior people like to discourage, but in fact these behaviors are natural and should actually be encouraged—just in more appropriate ways than allowing your cat to jump onto the stove while you’re cooking dinner or scratching the side of your expensive sofa. Providing spots to jump to encourages exercise, which is sorely lacking for many indoor cats, and scratching helps cats to shed a sheathe from their claws, a necessity for health. Vertical spaces, such as cat trees, help your cat to be able to safely climb, jump on, and scratch furniture that has been designed for that very purpose. The more appropriate places you provide, the less inappropriate places he will seek out.

In a multi-cat home, having a variety of vertical spaces plays a critical role in how well your cats will get along. When cats live together, they develop their own systems for timesharing resources such as water, food, toys, and yes, even perching areas. Providing a variety of vertical resting areas throughout your home will decrease territorial and competitive thinking and will help your multi-cat home be more harmonious.

These days, there are a lot of options to consider when thinking about incorporating vertical spaces into your home. Cat trees are one of the most popular options because they can be purchased in any pet store and are easy to assemble. Many cat trees are multi-tiered, which allows several cats in a multi-cat home to closely share the resource without anyone feeling threatened. To cover two bases at once, look for cat trees that have scratching posts incorporated into them. Cat trees are traditionally large, heavy, and ugly, but more chic options are available if you search around, albeit for a larger price tag. Some cat trees are even designed to look like pieces of art.

Cat shelving and catwalks are also popular options. The pre-made versions of these are a bit harder to come by and will require more of an effort to assemble and install, but they will make less of a footprint in your home since they attach to walls and can be placed towards the ceiling. This type of vertical space can be simple or elaborate, depending on your budget, skills, and imagination.

Window perches are easy to install and give your cat some extra stimulation by providing a front row seat to all of the action outside. For an extra treat, add a birdfeeder just outside the window and watch your cat go nuts as the birds flutter around outside.

Many people choose to simply create vertical space with the furniture they already have in their home. A properly secured bookshelf or table can go a long way in creating valuable perching space. Despite my own home being filled with plenty of options, my cats still sometimes prefer an everyday breakfast counter stool!

In nature, where your domestic cat’s wildcat instincts come from, he would have a whole jungle’s worth of options. When choosing vertical space options, think about what you can do to create the best landscape inside your home to help your cat thrive. It will benefit your cat physically and emotionally to have multiple perching spots throughout your home just like he would out in nature.

Understanding Your Rescue Dog’s Behavior

Fixing Rescue Dog Behavior Problems

He seemed so sweet and docile at the animal shelter, but now that you’ve got your rescue dog home, disturbing behaviors are surfacing. He growls and snaps when anyone is near his food, urine and feces litter the floor upon your return home from work, and your couch looks like a bomb went off on it. Even more disconcerting, he’s displaying aggression toward strangers and small children. Why is your rescue dog so unfriendly, and how do you fix it? PetMD  explains everything you need to know.

Reasons for Unreasonableness

Irritating as it may be, there are reasons for your rescue dog’s behavior that make sense to him and simply putting yourself in his paws can help you fathom his behavior. For one thing, chances are good that your rescue dog has not come from the most loving, attentive, and understanding of homes. Such an environment promotes the development of defense mechanisms that help the dog feel safe. They also help prevent future infringement upon his rights, as he sees it. These are also things people do, as any adult who’s been abused as a child can attest to.

Let’s Talk Specifics

So what does all this hippie talk mean? Basically, your rescue dog was probably mistreated, remembers it, and is trying to keep it from happening again. For example:

Being territorial with food Your rescue dog probably had malnutrition, either because he was underfed or had to compete with other animals to get his fair share of whatever food was available. He came to associate people or other animals around his dish with having his food taken away, and that makes him want to protect it. If this began in puppyhood, the conditioning of aggression in order to keep food runs deep.

2015-02-18_1731Biting when cornered Often rescue dogs have spent much of their pre-you lives outside instead of indoors around people. If someone approached him, he could run away to deal with invasion of his personal space. With the great outdoors as his disposal, Fido isn’t accustomed to people coming close to him for positive reasons and reaching their hands out to pet him, rather than to beat him.

Not housetrained Neglectful owners can spend significant time away from home, denying the dog a reasonable number of opportunities to take care of his “business.” Another viable explanation is that the rescue dog’s pleas to be let outside were ignored until he just couldn’t hold it any longer. Dog housetraining takes consistency and time, which your rescue dog’s prior owners probably lacked.

Destructive behavior Dogs are pack animals with a need for company that’s ingrained into their DNA. Without a companion, human or otherwise, to play with, they become bored. Boredom leads to creating their own fun activities, like ripping your sofa to shreds. Notice how his tail is wagging and he looks like he’s smiling when you discover his destruction? He doesn’t hate you; he was simply looking for something to do to pass the time until you got home.

Anything Else? One exception to behavior caused by abuse and/or neglect is an organic condition called dominance-aggressive syndrome. Like epilepsy and Tourrette’s Syndrome in humans, it is a mental condition manifesting in inappropriate behavior — in this case, unprovoked vicious attacks. Unfortunately, there is no medication available to curb these tendencies, which can strike out of nowhere, for no reason. A dog with this condition is best surrendered to professionals (dog trainers, veterinary behaviorists) who can provide a safe environment while keeping their own safety intact.

Stop the Madness

Now that you have an explanation for your rescue dog’s behavior, you can take steps to undo his damage. For instance, keep him well-fed and give him a wide berth of space while he’s eating to gradually gain his trust. Don’t ever corner your rescue dog and gradually introduce him to new people of all ages and sizes, asking them not to reach for him but to let him come to them. Take a stay-cation from work to invest a week or two in dog housetraining or install a doggy door. Provide adequate stimulation for your rescue dog while you’re away from home, like leaving the TV on, giving him lots of toys to play with, letting him chew on a bone. Confining him to a safe area with indestructible items, like the kitchen or bathroom, is also a good solution. The point is to understand why your rescue dog is behaving inappropriately and taking concrete steps to overcome it.

Rain Cleanup Time!

With all the rain we experienced recently, you may be wishing you had ways to keep your house clean from muddy paws and damp coats. We’ve got just the products to keep your dog and your house clean!

Stop in and check out our wide variety of items:

  • The Paw Wash and Paw Plunge – no more ruining nice towels and clean floors with muddy paws!
  • Dirty Dog Doormats – a mat perfect for wet dogs that absorbs all the moisture
  • Several Shampoos and Scented Sprays
  • Safe Cleaning Sprays
  • Self-serve and Full-serve Baths on site
  • Skilled Groomers
  • You can even take home your very own Barkery towel – which can be scented with essential oils!

Come in and treat your four-legged friend to a bath and stock up while you’re here – you’ll be glad you did!

 

 

 

4 Things to Help Your Senior Dog

Is your dog getting older and slowing down? During this time it is important to keep him healthy and happy. Here are four tips from Modern Dog Magazine on helping your senior dog.

1) Help Your Dog Get Enough Exercise. Just because our golden oldies are content to spend most of their time curled up on the couch doesn’t mean we can shirk our responsibilities where their (at least) twice daily ramble is concerned. It’s paramount to our aging dogs’ physical and mental health that they get out there everyday—albeit it at perhaps a slower pace—to move those bones and experience a change of environment to stimulate their senses. We too could spend all day lying around but it certainly wouldn’t be good for us!

2) Keep Them Slim. Don’t allow your dog to pack on the pounds as she becomes less active. Extra weight is incredibly detrimental to our dogs’ health, putting extra strain on joints and organs. Obesity is linked to all manner of canine disease, cancer among them. Make sure your senior is eating the best food you can afford, in a scaled back serving size that reflects his current level of activity. And as treats are one of our dogs’ chief pleasures, save some room for those—just make sure they’re low calorie and small (dogs would rather have ten teensy treats than one large one they scarf down in a millisecond).

3) Help Your Senior Get Around. Lots of older dogs can get a bit wobbly. If you have hardwood floors, seriously consider a runner carpet for added traction. It makes a big difference. Pet steps to get up to a favourite spot on the couch are also a great idea. If your dog has a weak backend, a mobility aid like the GingerLead can be beyond helpful. Inspired by their dog Ginger (that’s her in the inset—isn’t she a cutie?), the folks at GingerLead created a dog support and rehabilitation harness ideal for aging or disabled dogs needing some assistance with their balance or mobility. Its soft, padded belly sling with a leash and handle lets you help dogs with weak hind legs walk (from $36, gingerlead.com).

4) Don’t Neglect Those (not so) Pearly Whites. Unchecked tartar build up can cause gingivitis, which can cause bacteria to circulate through your dog’s blood stream and harm her internal organs. Bad teeth and inflamed gums are no joking matter; good dental health is so important for overall wellness. This means it’s essential to keep up with the daily tooth brushing—we know, it’s no one’s favourite thing, but maintaining good dental hygiene is very important to the health of your older dog. Also: If your senior is suddenly turning up her nose at her dinner, don’t immediately chalk it up to a reduced appetite—it could be joint or tooth pain! Talk to your vet to get to the bottom of it.

Proper Etiquette at the Dog Park

Now that the weather is nice, spending an afternoon at the dog park is great for providing your dog with exercise while allowing her to socialize with other animals. While the experience can and should be fun, it can also be a challenge if Daisy’s bad manners are allowed to go unchecked. Here are some basics from PetMD for a fun, trouble-free time at the dog park.

Before You’re Out the Door

Your dog should be in good health and old enough to have had her entire series of vaccinations. It’s also helpful if your dog has been through basic obedience training. A city license and/or rabies tag should be on your pet’s collar, as well as proper identification. In fact, in some parks these tags are a requirement for admittance. Be sure to pack waste bags for picking up after your dog, as well as water. You can use a resealable bowl, a collapsible bowl, or a water bottle with a special dog spout. And don’t forget to take your dog’s leash for walking her to and from the entrance of the dog park.

At the Park Entrance

When you first arrive, observe how many dogs are present and how they are behaving. Walk in slowly and let your dog calm down before letting her off leash. If your dog is behaving fearfully, or if any of the other dogs behave aggressively toward her (or she toward them), be prepared to leave right away.

When Other Animals Approach

You are responsible for your dog’s behavior in the park. As the owner, you don’t want to be too sensitive to how she is playing or being played with, but you don’t want to be negligent either. Leave the phone on silent and the book at home. It helps if you are already familiar with normal dog play before you introduce your dog to playing with other dogs.

Play is normal when dogs are relaxed and the actions are non-threatening. Barking, some growling, pawing at each other, wrestling, bowing, and chasing are all normal behaviors. You might also see some mouthing, sniffing, and even humping.

There will be episodes where an older dog will have to put a younger dog in its place for being too pushy and it appears as though the older dog is going to bite. As long as skin has not been broken, you can be sure that it was all for show. This is just one of the ways in which dogs teach each other boundaries and social behavior. Basically, as long as the dogs don’t take it too far, it’s all in good fun.

If you see several dogs acting as a group or another dog crowding or chasing your dog, it’s time to break things up. If a serious fight does occur, it’s time to call your dog over and move to another play space, or leave the park entirely. If the aggressive dog’s owner is nearby, you can also have them call off their dog and take charge of the situation. And of course, if it is your dog that is being aggressive, you will need to remove her from the park immediately.

 

As long as everyone is playing nice and the animals have been properly socialized, your dog should have a great time, even if she has to be put in her place by a dog that does not want to play with her. It’s all part of learning how to play nice with each other — and it’s proper dog park etiquette.

 

Natural Food for Your Pet

At the Barkey and Bath we are proud to carry natural and organic dog and cat food because we want the best for your pet too. Most likely you have heard of the term “natural” recently when referring to either pet or human food–but do you actually know what it means? Does natural pet food and organic pet food even mean the same thing? PetMD answers all your questions regarding natural pet food. Still wanting to know more? Stop by the Barkery and ask one of our specialists which food is best for your pet.

What is natural pet food?

According to the Pet Food Committee of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), natural is defined as “A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”

The AAFCO also provides suggested guidelines for pet food manufacturers to follow when referring to a natural product. These guidelines state that the term natural should only be applied when all of the ingredients and components meet the complete definition provided by the AAFCO. For example, the term “natural” does not apply if there are any chemically synthesized ingredients present in the pet food. This includes propylene glycol and butylated hydroxyanisole found in some pet foods. Under certain circumstances synthetic vitamins or mineral additives may be added to a natural product with the exception of being used as a dietary supplement.

What is the difference between natural vs. organic food?

The terms natural and organic are often used interchangeably. However, there are many recognizable differences between natural and organic pet foods. Organic pet food must abide by stricter guidelines than natural pet food. Unlike natural food, organic food is regulated by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) to guarantee there is no use of artificial ingredients. Moreover, organic pet foods are prohibited from using most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, sewage sludge fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, growth hormones, irradiation, antibiotics, and artificial ingredients during production. Unlike organic pet food, natural pet food production does not have legal or federal supervision. Pet food should be grown in its own environment to qualify as natural, but there is no guarantee that the product is completely natural.

How do I know if the pet food is natural?

The best advice is to use your own discretion when searching for a natural pet food. If you see the term “natural” on a pet food label it merely means the food was minimally processed and grown in a natural environment. The food may still contain grains, glutens, and soy.

7 Signs Your Cat has Spring Fever

Spring is here and cats love frolicking in the warm weather just as much as their human companions. These seven surefire signs from PetMD will let you know spring fever has hit, along with some tips for how to ease your kitties through the seasonal transition.

She Wakes Up Early

With the warm weather, your cat no longer needs to use you as a human furnace. This means she’ll be waking up at the crack of dawn, pawing your face and scampering across your sleeping body. She wants you to play. Immediately. Your cat is just responding to nature’s call, and unfortunately, there is no snooze button.

The Fix: Cats are like kids—they need to be worn out before bed. Any excess energy will turn into the nighttime crazies and an appallingly early wake-up time for you. In the evening, try playing hunting games with your cat and feed her afterwards. She’ll likely groom herself to relax and unwind and then fall asleep. Be aware that her demands for attention, regardless of the time of day or night, are signs that she needs more interaction during waking hours.

She Seeks the Sun

During the winter, when the sunlight is minimal and indirect, Fifi would prefer to snuggle up with you or rest in her warm bed to keep her temperature at a comfortable level. With spring sunlight filtering through your windows, your cat will seek out any spot and lay down to sunbathe.

The Fix: Apply UV film to your windows to protect her from potential skin damage. If kitty happens to be lying in your spot on the sofa—move over. Like you, she’s been waiting a very long time for those sunny spots.

She is Glued to the Window

When the outdoor wildlife show was on hiatus during hibernation time, there was nothing for your cat to see. Now, she’s dying to teach all those delectable birds and squirrels to stay off her turf. Hunting is a year-round activity in the southern states, where bugs and lizards are always out in full force, but felines who live where snow shoos them away eagerly anticipate the return of critters.

The Fix: Unless your cat is allowed outdoors, do not block her view of the window. Think of her like the furry equivalent of a football fan that will physically remove any obstacle in front of the TV. You may want to consider showing her a looping cat video of nature entertainment featuring butterflies and tasty wild animals during the lean winter season. The Animal Channel is also a good substitute.

She Becomes a Wrestling Star

If Fifi has a kitty companion (or even a dog with whom she’s friendly), she will engage in wrestling contests that rival the WWE. These contents will come complete with snarls, pinned back ears, growls and yelps that make you wonder if it’s time to break it up. It’s not. She’s just getting out her energy. Be warned—a cat without a partner may use you as her opponent. And she’ll expect you to let her win.

The Fix: Keep a close eye on the wrangling furballs to make sure no one gets hurt. If they’ve been together for enough time to get to know each other, their fight is most likely posturing. If your feline uses you as her playmate, teach her to keep her claws to herself and discourage biting. Cat scratch fever and puncture wounds will surely ruin the fun.

She is Getting Bigger

Springtime brings on growth spurts for most living things, including kittens. Chances are your grown cat won’t be putting on weight, though, since hanging from the chandelier burns lots of calories.

The Fix: Take lots of pictures. Keep your camera handy for every possible cute moment, and video all of her cute adventures—especially when she’s trying to get out of that grocery bag. Like children, kittens grow up shockingly fast. Enjoy her kittenhood as much as you possibly can.

She Gets the Crazies

Her high-speed dashes on the surface of the walls rather than on the floor make your house seem like a velodrome. Kitty has all day long to run laps, yet she chooses to do it at night when you’re trying to sleep. Why? Because she is a nocturnal creature. She works the night shift.

The Fix: While it’s tough to beat biology, it is possible to train your cat to adapt to your sleeping schedule. However, it won’t happen overnight. As mentioned earlier, give her plenty of exercise before bed to encourage exhausted, lasting sleep.

She Wants to “Get Busy”

While the weather was cold, she could care less if any boy kitties were around. But with the arrival of spring, she begins that familiar howl accompanied with rolling around and carrying on. The commotion is so loud that it carries down the block. Before you know it, male felines might be stalking your yard to get in on the action.

The Fix: Although you might have been trying to keep all of your cat’s parts intact, one too many heat seasons can weaken even the most convicted pet parent. If her call of the wild is too much for you to handle, march your cat to the nearest spaying and neutering center pronto. Besides keeping her quiet and clearing off your lawn, cancer risk is significantly decreased without your kitty’s hormone-producing parts.