FAR FROM HOME? How to make sure your pets are well cared for | Lifestyles

One of the hardest parts of planning a trip is finding good care for your pet when your dog or cat can’t go with you. Options include hiring a professional pet sitter to come to your home once or twice a day, boarding your pet in a pet sitter’s home, dropping animals off at a kennel or veterinary clinic or exchanging pet care with a trusted neighbor or friend. All have advantages and disadvantages. Here’s what to consider.

Pet sitters are not legally required to have certifications – anyone can print business cards and offer pet sitting services. But professional pet sitters meet qualifications set by national associations such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (petsitters.org), Pet Sitters International (petsit.com), or Trusted House Sitters (trustedhousesitters.com). These organizations may require their members to carry liability insurance, be bonded, have current pet first aid skills, or pass a certification course, either the theirs, or that of organizations such as Fear Free Pets (fearfreepets.com/fear-free -overview-of-the-pet-sitting-certification-program). Some pet sitters are registered, licensed, or certified veterinary technicians or have certifications in dog training or animal behavior.

Whether to have a pet sitter come once or twice a day or have the pets on board with the sitter depends on the personality of the pet as well as the concerns of the owner. Cats generally prefer to stay in their own familiar home and accept someone to pick up the litter box, feed them, and offer playtime before leaving.

Some dogs’ needs can be met with daily visits, but many people prefer to have their dogs in a situation where someone is with them most of the time, including at night. Pet sitters can stay in your home or keep pets in their home. Find out how the pet sitter ensures harmony and security if he takes care of other animals than yours.

Some birds, such as cats, may prefer to stay at home, but others are more social. Our deceased African Ring-necked Parakeet, Larry, appreciated the attention he received during his stay at the specialist veterinary clinic that provided his health care. Bird shops that house feathered animals may require certain health tests before accepting your bird as a customer.

Many kennels these days look like resorts, with wading pools, agility or other canine sports, and supervised playgroups. They may have pet cameras so you can monitor your pet, luxury suites, and an on-site or on-call vet 24/7. Some offer massages or other therapeutic treatments. Pet-friendly music and aromatherapy can lull them to sleep at bedtime.

Places that house both dogs and cats should keep cat and dog areas well separated so that cats cannot hear and be frightened by the sound of barking.

Get recommendations from friends, your vet, or your dog’s groomer, and look beyond Yelp or Google reviews. Choose a facility with staff members who have training or care certifications such as those described above, or credentials such as Fear Free Boarding and Daycare certification. Visit the kennel first and ask for a visit, says veterinary behaviorist Debbie Horwitz. “You should get one. Otherwise, don’t go. »

And while you may not choose to board your pets regularly, Horwitz recommends that all pets be comfortable with a boarding situation in the event of a disaster or unexpected hospitalization. “You never know when you’ll need it,” she says. To gain boarding experience, pets do not have to stay overnight. “A day stay is also worthwhile.”

What about care by friends, family or neighbours? It can be inexpensive and convenient, especially if you take turns caring for pets, but friendships and family relationships can crumble if something happens to a pet while you’re away. Make sure they know and agree to all your safety and care routines and ask yourself if saving money is worth losing a friendship if something goes wrong.

Stop nipping in his tracks

Q: When my children run, my dog ​​runs after them and nibbles on their heels. How can I stop this behavior?

A: The dogs think it’s a fun game, and when the kids scream and try to run away, the dogs think it’s even more fun. This can cause them to get worse, pinch harder or more frequently, or jump up to catch a sleeve.

Early intervention is important. To put an end to nipping, you need to prevent it while teaching your dog a new action to perform instead, such as walking on your heels, staying on the ground, spinning, or rolling over.

To avoid this behavior, keep your dog indoors if the children are playing outside. This can be a good time to start teaching the alternative behavior because he won’t be distracted by them. Work on a leash, indoors or outdoors, in a low distraction area. If heeling is the behavior you are teaching, start at a slow pace, gradually increasing to a brisk walk, then a slow jog or even a run if your vet is okay with this type of activity for your dog.

As your dog gets good at the alternative behavior, gradually add distractions such as someone walking by or the noise of children outside. Then up the ante with distractions like someone jogging or jumping up and down. When these distractions don’t prevent him from concentrating, move to an area where he would normally hunt, such as the garden, and practice there.

During training, reward your dog with treats, toys, and praise him for adopting the new behavior and sticking by your side. Anytime your dog gets overstimulated and tries to run and ninch, freeze in place. Release your workout at a point where it was successful and get back to work. — Mikkel Becker

Do you have a question about pets? Send it to [email protected] or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

The winning cat books are now available

• The Cat Writers Association recently announced the winners of its annual writing contest. Among the winning books were ‘Claw and Disorder’, by Eileen Watkins, in which cat groomer Cassie McGlone must solve the mysterious death of a cat hoarder, and ‘The Complete Guide to Adopting a Cat’, by Laura Cassiday , feline behavior consultant. , who draws on his experience working at the Maryland SPCA — along with input from other shelter and rescue experts — to help adopters choose the perfect cat and integrate their new friend into their home. home. In “Kitty Sweet Tooth”, a children’s book by Abby Denson and illustrated by Utomaru, a purple cat who loves sweets opens a theater. Bold line art and vibrant illustrations complement clever and entertaining text. Library Journal calls it “a sweet tidbit of a story.” Younger children will be delighted to learn their alphabet and numbers from the double winners “ABC Cats: An Alpha-Cat Book” and “123 Cats: A Cat Counting Book”, both by Leslea Newman and Isabella Kung. The School Library Journal describes them as “good feline fun.”

• A Subaru ad, titled “Feel the Wait,” helps bring the emotions of shelter animals to life while awaiting adoption and shines a light on older, mobility-impaired dogs, who often wait longer than others to find a home. Help them spread the love by encouraging the adoption of pets with special needs or bringing one into your home.

• Dogs never live long enough, but Céline Halioua, founder and CEO of Loyal, a veterinary medicine company, hopes to develop drugs to delay dog ​​aging and extend their healthy lifespan. If it works, she would like to create similar drugs for humans. A Wired article examines the outlook: wired.com/story/the-search-for-a-pill-for-dog-and-human-longevity. — Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

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