Introducing a new tool to your dog can feel like uncharted territory. While some dogs will readily accept whatever is thrown their way, others will become stressed or anxious when presented with something new. Unfortunately, if you are in a position where a muzzle is necessary for the safety of your dog or others around you, forgoing a tool because your dog appears to be uninterested in it isn’t an option. So, what do you do? How do you train your dog to wear a muzzle? This guide will dig into the importance of conditioning when planning to muzzle your dog. This includes explaining what conditioning is, walking you through the process step-by-step, and sharing some helpful tips to set you up for success. What is Muzzle Conditioning? Before expecting your dog to wear their muzzle, it is recommended that you take the time to focus on muzzle training, also referred to as muzzle conditioning. This is the process of introducing the muzzle alongside positive rewards. If each time your dog sees or interacts with the muzzle, they get “good things,” it will create a positive association. Over time, they will not only tolerate the muzzle but happily accept it. Why? They recognize that wearing their muzzle means they will receive good things like verbal praise, pets, and their favorite treats. How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Get Used to a Muzzle? There is no one guaranteed timeline when working on muzzle conditioning. While some dogs will quickly take to the muzzle, adjusting in just a few days, others will take longer. Some factors that can impact this include your dog’s personality, trainability, previous experience (positive or negative) with a muzzle, and their trust/bond with you as the person introducing this tool to them. It’s important to keep in mind that the time it takes does NOT mean you are doing better or failing at your training efforts. We have three dogs, all of which have been muzzle-trained. While two of our dogs took to the muzzle relatively quickly, Lucifer’s nerves and anxiety made the process more challenging. This doesn’t mean it was impossible. With time, patience, and consistency, he is now the dog that is most comfortable in a muzzle out of the three. We just had to move at his pace.
It’s every dog parent’s nightmare. 14-month-old service dog in training Nova Riley slipped out of her harness and bolted out of a Safeway parking lot in a panic. After several sightings by the community as they searched tirelessly alongside owner Robynne Simons-Sealy, Nova continued to run in fear from anyone who attempted to catch her. After two long months of worrying and searching, Simons-Sealy was reunited with her beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. Nova was discovered injured in the woods of Meyers Ranch Park by two hikers on November 19th. The hikers recognized that she was injured, frightened, and needed help. They tried to carry her out to safely, but due to her high anxiety (understandable, given the situation), she bit one of her rescuers. Refusing to leave the poor dog behind, they decided to bring in help. One hiker stayed with Nova to keep her calm and assure her they weren’t giving up on her. The other hiker descended the trail to ask the park rangers for help and guide them, along with Animal Control Officer Kylie Rupe, three miles back to her position. “When we first got up there, I had brought treats and food up with me, knowing she would probably be very food-motivated at that point,” explained Rupe. “I used food to make friends, and she was very friendly but skittish.” With the help of both the rangers and animal control, Nova was carried to safety on a tarp. One of the rangers had recognized Nova from a lost dog poster, allowing her to be reunited with her worried and ever-grateful owner.
With the news of the recent American Bully XL ban in the UK, conversations around dog muzzles have been popping up all over social media. The growing discussion has opened the door for dog owners in the United States to consider the benefits of using a muzzle for their own dogs for many reasons, including scavenging, reactivity, and even short-term use for veterinary and grooming appointments. But with so many different styles of muzzle on the market, how do you choose the best muzzle for your dog? We have you covered! In this guide, we will discuss the different muzzle types available, what each type is best suited for, and the proper fit of a dog muzzle. Plus, I will share which muzzle we currently use with our reactive dog, Lucifer, and why. Let’s get started… Things to Consider When Shopping for a Muzzle for Your Dog When selecting a muzzle for your dog, there is no singular “best option” that will work for every dog and situation. On one hand, this can be frustrating as it leaves you feeling overwhelmed navigating the wide assortment of options. On the other hand, it means you can purchase a muzzle uniquely suited for your dog’s needs. Here are a few key factors to consider when making your decision: MaterialThere are several materials to consider when shopping for a muzzle, including metal, plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather, Biothane, fabric, silicone, and more. To determine the best option for your dog, there are a few critical deciding factors: Do you need a muzzle that can prevent a determined dog from biting? Will your dog be wearing the muzzle outdoors in the elements? Is weight a factor for your dog? Does your dog engage in “muzzle punching” when wearing a muzzle (ramming into people with the muzzle)? Will your dog likely shove the muzzle into the dirt while trying to smell the ground? It is important to note that most muzzles are not considered “bite-proof.” This means they shouldn’t be relied on to prevent a bite from occurring. If you are muzzling as a safety precaution due to a bite risk, the best options are vinyl or wire basket muzzles. Ease of Use Like harnesses and collars, some dogs make fastening a muzzle easy, while others can make the process a challenge. This doesn’t necessarily mean they dislike the muzzle or aren’t properly conditioned to the muzzle. For example, if our boy Lucifer is overly excited about going somewhere, he sometimes gets the zoomies. He usually will stand still to let us buckle his muzzle, but it’s hard to control the zoomies when they hit! A muzzle with a quick-release buckle will be your best option if that sounds familiar. This is faster to secure than a traditional threaded buckle. Airflow One primary concern for those considering muzzling their dogs is the airflow that they will offer, and for good reason! This is especially important if your dog is going to be active while wearing the muzzle. Wire basket muzzles are often a favorite for high-energy dogs, allowing for uninterrupted airflow and making it easy for your dog to drink while wearing it. In comparison, leather and Biothane muzzles, especially those designed to prevent scavengers from being able to pick up “goodies” on their walks, generally limit airflow. Carefully consider your dog’s lifestyle and the situations where a muzzle may be needed.
If you are a dog owner in the United States, you have likely already seen the news reports about the mystery illness responsible for the deaths of several dogs, prompting veterinary professionals to caution pet parents about taking their pets out to public spaces. But we may finally be able to spot the light at the end of the tunnel… Dr. David Needle, pathology section chief at the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire, reported that scientists have finally identified the cause of the illness. While this doesn’t mean that life for our dogs can return to normal immediately, it does mean that they are one step closer to finding a cure and moving past this nightmare. The research article has yet to be published, but the team is sharing their initial findings to provide hope for pet parents and the veterinary community. The pathogen responsible for the mystery respiratory illness is described as “a funky bacterium.” “It’s smaller than a normal bacterium in its size and in the size of its genome,” explained Needle. “Long story short, it’s a weird bacterium that can be tough to find and sequence.” Searching for the cause of this illness wasn’t easy for researchers. Initially, there were no known bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens, meaning they were searching blind. However, after testing 30 samples from New Hampshire, genetic material from an atypical bacterial species was discovered. The next step in understanding the cause of the illness and working towards a cure (and possible preventative) is to compare these findings to samples from dogs in other states to verify that it is, in fact, the same pathogen in all reported instances. States with possible cases of the disease include: CaliforniaColoradoFlorida Georgia IdahoIllinois IndianaMarylandMassachusettsNew HampshireOregonPennsylvania Rhode IslandVermontWashingtonOne challenge faced by veterinarians is the fact there is no test to confirm that all reported cases are, in fact, the same illness. What Are the Warning Signs?Common symptoms resemble respiratory infections like canine influenza and kennel cough, conditions usually seen in higher numbers at this time of year. Luckily for the human members of our family, there are currently no reports of the illness being transferred to humans. Veterinarians recommend watching out for the following symptoms: Coughing or sneezing WheezingDifficulty breathingNasal or eye dischargeDehydration Loss of appetite Weight loss FeverLethargyHow Can You Keep Your Dog Safe? Until a cure has been identified, dog parents are encouraged to focus on preventative measures. Ensure your dog’s vaccinations are current, protecting them against known respiratory problems. Avoid public spaces like dog parks, doggy daycare, and grooming establishments where dogs may be exposed to the illness. If you must go to a public space, steer clear of shared food and water dishes. Your dog will be just as happy to spend this time playing with you as they would with another dog!If you notice any signs of respiratory trouble or illness, don’t panic. Contact your veterinarian to share your concerns and make an appointment.
Pets can be an incredible addition to any family, but they can also come with a bit of stress. In fact, a recent study revealed that nearly half of pet parents shared that caring for their pet was more stressful than caring for their partner or even their children! What is it about our pets that worries us the most? That was the goal of the recent survey conducted by OnePoll and ElleVet Sciences. They polled 2000 pet owners, asking them questions about their relationships, their pets, and the stress that they experience in their role. The answers revealed that the top three sources of stress in most people’s lives include their finances (54%), their job or career (49%), and their ability to care for their pets (42%). The survey went on to discuss reasons for being stressed about our pets, and there was one concern that the majority of respondents shared – as pet parents, we worry about our ability to provide the care our pets will need in their senior years. As our pets get older, their needs often change. We can see this in the way they act and the activities they engage in. A once hyperactive, high-energy dog may start to slow down and sleep more. A dog that easily jumped onto the couch most of their lives now requires stairs or a ramp to get up for cuddle time. Not all changes that come with aging are inherently bad, but 68% of parents say watching their pet age and suffer would be more hurtful to them than losing their job (61%) or breaking up with their partner (61%). “Supporting your pet through all stages of life can minimize their stress, allowing you to create more happy memories together,” shared Amanda Howland, co-founder and CCO of ElleVet Sciences. “As your pet gets older, it’s important to be proactive in identifying the signs of aging, such as difficulty moving, trouble sleeping, and social isolation. It’s all about more time, and more quality time with your pet, and for them, aging and stress are intertwined so taking care of discomfort-related aging and cognitive decline can reduce their stress significantly.” The concern shared by the survey respondents (and other pet parents nationwide) clearly illustrates how important our pets are in our lives. While 73% of those surveyed described their pet as their “protector,” they serve many other vital roles in our lives – our best friends, sounding boards, cheerleaders, motivators, and companions. Your senior pet may require some changes around the home. Throw rugs can be used to provide traction on slippery floors. Safety gates are key for blocking off unsafe areas like staircases that could lead to injury. Caring for our senior pets may be stressful, but it’s also an opportunity to repay our pets for everything they have given us throughout their lives. Even just setting aside time in your schedule each day for a walk around the block followed by a short cuddle on the couch can positively impact their lives, reducing stress and promoting better health. “Just like us, pets’ needs can change as they age, so their daily routines, diet, and exercise may need to be adjusted to improve their quality of life, as well as adding high-quality supplements,” Howland explained. “Small adjustments can ensure your pet’s golden years are less stressful for both themselves and their human companion.”
With an estimated 3.1 million dogs entering U.S. animal shelters every year, the need for funding and support is evident. For many, this is a call to action to find ways to make a difference – including for Guardians of the Galaxy actor Dave Bautista. Starting today, November 28th, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is launching a new fundraising and awareness campaign with 54 Bautista and his four rescue pit bulls in the spotlight. The campaign was created as part of Giving Tuesday, a global response to the corporate focus of Black Friday (as well as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday). Rather than highlighting sales and taking advantage of deals through your favorite stores and brands, Giving Tuesday encourages Americans to take a moment and consider how they can make a difference in the lives of others – including, of course, animals in shelters and rescue organizations. Bautista’s involvement in the campaign is motivated by his experiences with animal rescue and its impact on his life. “My home is where my dogs are because there is just such a sense of love,” Bautista stated. “I feel like wherever they are, there’s this sense of normalcy, which is hard for me to attain these days.” He went on to explain, “My first rescue dogs were Ollie and Maggie, and I’ve had them for about five years. I adopted them, and after becoming so connected with them, I started to be more aware of how many dogs are just waiting for someone to give them good, loving homes. You get so much in return when you adopt a pet, and I’m going to preach adoption for the rest of my life.”
Cats are often stereotyped as being aloof and independent. But beneath that mysterious exterior lies an intelligent and curious being capable of great things – you just have to learn how to tap into it! Whether you’re interested in trick training your cat as a form of mental enrichment or strengthening your bond and creating lasting memories, we have you covered. In this blog post, we will explore the world of cat trick training. This includes debunking common myths, breaking down the process of training a cat, and sharing a list of fun tricks to help you get started. Is it Possible to Train a Cat? Yes! Your cat is just as capable of learning how to perform tricks as your dog. However, there are some differences in how you approach this process. Dogs are often motivated by their bond with their handler and the praise they will receive for performing as expected. This is far less likely to work for your cat. Instead, you will need to find the right inspiration. For many, this comes in the form of high-value treats like diced chicken, sardines, or low-sodium tuna. The smellier the treat, the better. With the right motivator and a lot of patience, your cat can learn a wide variety of fun tricks and useful skills. How Long Does It Take to Teach a Cat a Trick? The time required for a cat to learn a trick will depend on many factors, including the difficulty of the trick, the cat’s eagerness to learn, and the way you approach the training session. We have two cats in our house, and they fall at very different ends of the spectrum. Pippen is highly trainable and quickly picks up tricks, while Jinx is much more stubborn and takes longer to come around. Several of these factors can be influenced by you directly. Have you found the right motivator for your cat? Are you experimenting with different training approaches to find the one that works best? Are you trying to move through the training process too quickly? However, some factors are beyond your control. If your cat is uninterested in training, even your best efforts to motivate them may fall short. Is it Too Late to Teach My Cat Tricks? There is an old myth that states: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” This has been proven to be false by many trainers, with dogs even in their senior years. But what about cats? Is there an expiry date on when your cat can be taught to perform tricks? The best time to start training a cat is when they are young, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only time! Your older cat may be slower to learn or a little more reluctant to get started, but with a little patience and the right motivation, you can train cats of all ages.
Discovering a bald spot or missing fur on your cat can be both perplexing and concerning for any cat parent. A change in your cat’s coat could be nothing, but it could also be a red flag of behavioral issues or medical problems. Understanding the underlying cause is the first step to addressing the problem.In this post, we explore the mystery of cat alopecia, including possible explanations for cat hair loss, what you should do if you notice your cat has a bald spot, and how to prevent this problem from happening.Let’s get started…6 Reasons Your Cat May Have a Bald SpotThe first step to addressing your cat’s hair loss is to identify why it occurred. This will mean paying careful attention to other signs and symptoms, both physical and behavioral. Here are a few of the most common causes of significant hair loss in cats:Allergies and IrritationDoes your cat suffer from food allergies or environmental allergies? While most allergies won’t directly cause your cat’s hair to fall out, they trigger dry, itchy skin. As your cat scratches the area, trying to soothe the itch, they may damage the skin or hair follicles.Identifying the allergens can be difficult. You may wish to do allergy testing or try an elimination diet. But the good news is that once you know the trigger, eliminating it will solve the problem.OvergroomingCats are well-known for their careful attention to their grooming needs, licking themselves to keep their fur clean and shiny. However, there are some behavioral situations when a cat may start grooming excessively, causing damage to their coat or their skin, resulting in bald patches.The most common causes of overgrooming are stress and anxiety. Take a moment to reconsider your household and any recent changes that may have occurred. Did you move? Are you renovating your home? Did you add a new pet or family member to the household?Another potential behavioral explanation for overgrooming is obsessive-compulsive disorder. This may have started as stress or anxiety, or it may be genetic. OCD in cats could result from neurological conditions or other medical problems.
As the temperatures drop and winter approaches, many pet parents face a common question: Should my dog wear a winter coat? It’s a valid question! After all, we bundle up before heading out into the ice and snow. Why shouldn’t our dogs? This article will explore the considerations, benefits, and potential downsides of winter coats for dogs. Plus, we’ll share the coats we use to keep our pups warm and cozy. Let’s get started… Do All Dogs Need a Coat in Winter? The short answer is no. Not all dogs need a winter coat to stay comfortable in the colder temperatures. In fact, some dogs will be more comfortable without a winter coat. That leaves us with one more question – how do you know if your dog will need a coat this season? Here are a few factors to consider: Breed & Coat LengthWhat breed or breed mix is your dog? Some dogs, like the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Keeshond, were specifically bred to handle the colder temperatures. These dogs have thick double coats, including a water-resistant guard coat and a plush, warm undercoat. If you own one of these dogs, you may see them relaxing outside, happily napping in a snowbank. They thrive in cooler weather but struggle when the temperatures climb. On the other end of the spectrum, some dogs were bred to live in warmer climates. These dogs have short coats, offering little protection from the winter cold. Age Your dog’s age could make them more sensitive to changes in temperature, both heat and cold. If you have a young puppy or a senior dog, they may need a little extra care and attention. Not only do they feel cold faster, but the low temperatures could worsen the discomfort of a senior dog’s arthritis or other joint problems. Even if your dog once thrived in cold temperatures, they may struggle in their older years.Disease or Illness If your dog is currently living with a disease or illness, it can compromise their ability to regulate their body temperature effectively. Your dog’s condition can impact many aspects of their well-being. It may weaken their immune system, causing dehydration or interfering with proper circulation. Contact your veterinarian if you’re unsure whether your dog’s illness could impact their ability to handle the cold. Activity LevelAre you heading outside to hang out in your yard, or are you planning to engage in something more active like a hike or skijoring? As your dog’s muscles are engaged and working, they are producing heat that raises the body temperature. If your dog occasionally needs a light jacket, they may not need one during heavy activity. On the other hand, if your dog is usually okay when you’re going for a walk, they may need a light jacket or sweater if they are going to be standing around.
Cats are often known for their laidback and aloof personalities, lounging around the house like true couch potatoes. But just like us, our kitties need regular exercise to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. That’s where your job as a cat parent comes in! In this article, we will explore the importance of exercise for your cat, including how much exercise they need, the benefits of being active, and fun ways to include more physical activity in your cat’s daily routine. Whether you have an energetic young kitten or a calm senior cat, understanding their exercise needs can make a significant difference in their overall well-being. How Much Playtime Does an Indoor Cat Need? When choosing the perfect pet for your family, you have likely heard about how laid back and easy to care for cats can be. After all, they just lounge around the house all day. Right? The truth is that your cat needs daily activity to stay healthy and in shape. The exact amount of exercise your cat needs will depend on several factors, including their age, breed, lifestyle, and individual health needs. For example, a cat that is obese and needs to lose weight to improve their health may need more physical activity than a cat that is already of a healthy weight. That being said, the general rule of thumb is that a healthy adult cat should be engaging in 30 to 60 minutes of active playtime every day, split into shorter 10 or 15-minute play sessions. If you are unsure about your cat’s specific needs, contact your veterinarian. They will be able to provide insight into how exercise and playtime can improve or help to maintain your cat’s quality of life at this stage and as they continue to age. How Do I Know My Cat is Getting Enough Exercise? There are several behavioral signs that a cat isn’t getting enough exercise that you can watch out for. Cats that don’t engage in regular physical activity often suffer from boredom, depression, or anxiety. While our cats obviously can’t speak to tell us this, we can pay attention to their body language and behavior to catch any signs of trouble. Some key signs to watch out for include: Destructive Behavior: One of the first signs people notice when a cat is bored is that they start to exhibit bad habits and destructive behavior. This could include scratching your furniture, tearing apart the toilet paper, ripping curtains or screens, or stealing items they know they shouldn’t. It’s like a young child. They are bored and looking for ways to keep themselves entertained. Excessive Vocalization: Do you have a naturally vocal cat? If so, they may be trying to tell you that something’s wrong verbally. Some cats, when bored, will cry out for attention. This is a behavior we see in our two every time their morning playtime is even 5 minutes late. Change of Appetite: If they are feeling anxious or highly stressed, some cats will stop eating. Others, like humans, will turn to food during times of boredom. Any unexplained changes to your cat’s diet should be considered a sign of trouble – whether it’s a need for more exercise or something health-related.Over-Grooming: Cats are masters of self-grooming, but if a cat is stressed, anxious, or bored, they may take their grooming too far. This can often lead to the development of bald patches or skin irritation. Aggression or Irritation: Some cats become irritable or upset when experiencing stress and anxiety. This could result in uncharacteristic biting or scratching directed towards you, other family members, or other pets in the home. Loss of Energy or Lethargy: This may come as a surprise as most people will associate not enough exercise with having pent-up energy just begging to come out. However, a cat that isn’t getting enough physical activity can become depressed, which may present as being lazy, uninterested, or more aloof than usual. Another important sign to watch out for is unexplained weight gain. Just as humans will gain weight if they aren’t getting enough exercise, so will your cat. Sure, they likely aren’t concerned with “how they look” each morning – but obesity is a growing problem in the United States and can introduce serious health consequences!
Join the PetGuide community. Get the latest pet news and product recommendations by subscribing to our newsletter here.
Cats are well-known for their independent and aloof nature. It’s part of their mysterious and majestic presence. But what do you do when your once docile companion suddenly becomes angry or aggressive?Understanding why your cat may have shown such an abrupt behavior change is important. Why? This could be a sign of much bigger trouble that demands your attention. There are many explanations for this type of change in demeanor, including physical pain or illness. The best solution to create harmony once again in your home is to get to the bottom of it!In this article, we will look at the most common reasons for a cat to suddenly exhibit aggression and what you should do to help your furry best friend.What Does Aggression Look Like in Cats?If you are a first-time cat owner or have never encountered an aggressive cat, you may wonder what aggression looks like. Our feline friends aren’t always as outwardly friendly and affectionate as their canine counterparts, but aggression refers to behaviors that go a step further. Rather than being aloof or disinterested, an aggressive cat outwardly expresses upset, anger, and frustration toward a trigger.Cat parents who seek help with an aggressive cat often refer to their cat biting or swatting, causing physical harm out of nowhere. But there are often other signs of trouble that are overlooked or unnoticed.Early signs of aggression include:Thrashing or fast twitching tailDirect stareDilated pupilsEars flattened back against the headStiff or crouched postureRaised hacklesHissing, growling, or yowlingWhen these warning signs are ignored, a cat may feel they have no choice but to react further to protect themselves from the perceived threat or trigger. It is at this moment that a cat will swat or bite. Learning to recognize the early warning signs will help you prevent the situation from escalating to the point that someone is hurt.How Do You Tell if a Cat is Playing or Being Aggressive?Some cats, especially young kittens, may play in a way that is similar to or mimics the signs of aggression. This can make it harder to identify if your cat is truly upset or simply playing around. Luckily, there are a few minor differences that can help you differentiate between the two.When a cat is being playful, they usually have their claws retracted. This means they may swat at you during play, but they aren’t scratching or causing harm with that action. The same can be said when they pounce on you – landing on you with their paws, nails retracted. If your cat is biting at your hand during play, they often have a threshold they won’t cross. They may bite hard enough that you feel some discomfort, but they aren’t trying to break the skin.There is a grey area that shouldn’t be overlooked between play and aggression, where a cat either didn’t learn where that line exists or fails to acknowledge it. This is known as play aggression, which we will touch on later.