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November Newsletter 2018

Vital Visits News, Tips, and Fun!

My Dog Doesn’t Come When He’s Called!

One of the most important things you can teach your dog is to come when he’s called. A reliable recall is critical for both their safety and your peace of mind. So, how can we get our dogs to respond to our calls? It’s not that hard to teach, but it’s a hard command to keep reliable. Why? Because we use our dog’s name all the time in other ways, so they get bored or immune to it!

Here are some points to remember:

Be consistent – You may mix it up with, “Rover come” “Rover, here boy” “Rover, get over here.” However, these are not the same to your dog; all 3 sound like different things to him. You have to pick a phrase and use it every single time. Most people say: “Rover, come.” Keep in mind we tend to overuse our pet’s name: “Rover is so cute.” “I love you, Rover.” “Did you do that Rover?” “Rover no.” So, it doesn’t hurt to come up with something else to indicate you want him to come. We know a rescue dog that probably had bad juju associated with his name, and he wouldn’t come to it. His people decided just to say: “Treat!” Guess what? He comes every single time when they say it. If they call his name… not so much. For that reason, maybe consider something other than their name or come. (do?i means come in Croatian!)

Train with High-Value Treats – Don’t use a plain old dog cookie, since they get those regularly. Make it super special, real chicken, cheese, or real jerky can be very motivating! Start calling his name (or your designated word) with him sitting in front of you. Call him and give him a treat, then move back a few inches. Call again and when they come, treat. Be sure to treat every single time. Don’t increase the distance too quickly. After you treat your dog, have a party too. Pet them and tell them how smart they are, jump around a bit. Make it fun! Remember, one day their life could depend on them responding without hesitation.

Keep it short – you’re better off to train recall 3 times a day for 2 minutes each time then to go at it for 15 minutes straight. You don’t want them to get bored with it.

Suspicion – Think about the term you use: do you ever use it and scold them, or get angry, or have stress in your voice? Do you use their recall term and grab or yank their collar? If you do these things, you won’t ever get a reliable recall because you’ve essentially trained your dog not to come!

Practice, practice, practice – all the time even if you’re sure they have it down pat. Reinforcement is your friend. Remember – treat every time with a high-value treat. You want your dog to know that when you call them, it means food. If your dog is not food motivated, use a favorite toy that they only get to play with when training recall.

Be patient, go slowly, have fun, and soon your Rover will come running when you call him!


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The Benefits of Growing Up With a Pet

Not only is a dog man’s best friend, but they will undoubtedly be your child’s (or grandchild’s) best friend too. Here are some reasons that a pet makes a great addition to a family.

Pets give unconditional love, and they will help teach your kids what that means. Pets listen when your child is lonely, sad, angry, or afraid. They attend tea parties, lick away our tears, and even keep our secrets. Who wouldn’t want a best friend like that?

Kids can help with pet care and learn responsibility. Give your child an age-appropriate task for your pet, such as keeping the water bowls fresh and full. Or, have them help with feeding. These tasks help your child bond with your pet and learn about commitment. Gently make them keep up their task. Contributing to the care of a family pet helps them develop compassion, empathy, and self-esteem.

Your kids will get more exercise. In this day and age when kids are spending so much time with electronics, a pet (especially a dog) is a great way to get them outside and moving. They can take the dog for a walk, toss a ball for them in the backyard; even playing with the cat takes them away from the iPad!

Children who live with pets are sick less often. Many studies have proved this. Better yet, children that are exposed to pets around birth have fewer allergies. Children that are exposed to pets early on are also less likely to have eczema.

Believe it or not, pets help kids develop their reading skills.There were studies done about this too! Young children love to read to their pets, which encourages them to practice reading, learn new words, and gain confidence.

Learning to love and care for animals helps to encourage the next generation of animal advocates. Sadly, we all know that some animals are mistreated, and there are just too many pets in shelters. Kids that grow up with a pet are more likely to rescue an animal in need; it teaches them respect for all living things.

So consider a new friend – because these benefits aren’t just for kids, pets benefit your entire family!


Are These Buggers Bugging Your Cat?

The most common external feline parasite is a flea. You may be saying, “Oh my cat is an indoor cat.” Well guess again, indoor cats get fleas all the time. Fleas are good hitchhikers; they most often ride in on you, your guests, or another pet. Once in your home, a single flea can produce 600 new fleas in a month! If your cat gets fleas not only will they be miserable, but fleas add up to more than just an itchy nuisance. They can cause allergic dermatitis, anemia, tapeworm, and in kittens, they can be deadly.

Here is how to spot an infestation on your pet:

  • Constant scratching
  • Constant grooming
  • Red or irritated skin
  • Hair loss
  • Skin infection
  • Seeing the fleas on your pet
  • Visible flea “dirt” on your cat’s skin (it looks like dirt but is actually flea poop, gross!)

If your cat has fleas, be sure to treat all the pets in your home, because fleas don’t play favorites! What to do if your home is filled with unwanted guests? There are a number of products on the market, from oral flea medications, topical flea treatments, and even flea collars. The best bet is to discuss it with your vet.

The most frequent internal pest your cat can get is Tapeworm.Tapeworm is spread by ingesting the larvae, usually from fleas or by catching and eating outdoor rodents or scavenging in trashcans. Tapeworm can be spread to humans (usually to children), so it’s something you want to take care of right away. They are generally not considered dangerous to your cat, but they can cause weight loss and tummy pain.

The most common symptom of tapeworm in cats is small cream-colored segments of tapeworm in your cat feces or on their fur under their tail. Your cat may lick or bite at their bum more often or drag their hindquarters on the floor to combat the itching.

If your cat has Tapeworm symptoms call your vet, take in a stool sample, and your kitty will get a shot or medication that will quickly take care of the problem.

Keeping your cat indoors does cut down on the possibility of parasites but doesn’t eliminate them completely. So keep an eye on your cat, and you’ll both be itch free!

(A flea is about the size of a poppy seed! Way smaller than this one.  ?)


Great Pet Links!

Here are some interesting pet articles, pictures, and videos we’ve found on the net this month.

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