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World Rabies Day - September 28

September 28th is World Rabies Day, an international event established by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to raise awareness of the deadly virus. And this year in particular is special because it marks 10 years of the holiday. The theme for 2016 is "Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate." With this in mind, it’s the perfect time to take a few minutes to educate yourself about rabies prevention and treatment.

World Rabies Awareness Day

Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through exposure to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal, and is nearly always fatal without proper treatment. Rabies kills over 59,000 people per year; nearly 60 percent of those are children under the age of 15 who are unaware of the risks of rabies. In 95 percent of human rabies cases, the cause was a bite or a scratch from an infected dog.

Rabies is not always visible to the naked eye. However, the following symptoms are common in infected animals:

  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Unprovoked aggressive behavior or overly friendly behavior
  • Foaming at the mouth

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control recommends that all mammals that are in frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated, but especially dogs, cats and ferrets. Additionally, vaccinations should always be kept up to date to ensure their usefulness.

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, the Alliance recommends that pet owners feed and water their pets indoors, as even empty bowls can attract wildlife. Garbage should be securely covered, as the smell from an open garbage can will attract stray animals. Wild animals should never be kept as pets, and should never be approached, even if they appear friendly.

If you’re bitten or scratched by an animal that is unknown to you, you may have been exposed to rabies. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Once symptoms of rabies appear, survival is very rare.

If your pet is bitten by an unvaccinated animal, consult your veterinarian immediately to see if your pet needs booster shots. You should also keep your pet away from other animals, and watch your pet for signs of illness or unusual behavior for at least 45 days.

More Information
For more information on rabies and to find out about World Rabies Day events, visit the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website at

Attention-Seeking Behavior in Dogs

It is perfectly normal for our dogs to engage in a little attention-getting behavior from time to time. As long as the behavior stays within acceptable limits, there is nothing particularly wrong with it. Many times your dog will communicate with you by barking at you, indicating a reason to take notice of him. Also, if you are engrossed in conversation, for example, and your dog paws at your leg to solicit your attention, it would not be inappropriate. What you must remember is that your dog quickly learns which behaviors work and which ones do not according to how you respond. That being said, it is necessary to set reasonable boundaries from which your dog can learn which behaviors are acceptable to you.

There are a number of ways a dog can look for attention. The most common actions are barking, whining, gagging (or actual vomiting), feigning lameness (limping), jumping, and pawing. Keep in mind that some dogs go above and beyond if they think their behavior will be rewarded with attention, so this list may seem fairly tame. It is important to note what your reaction is to certain behaviors in order to determine which one your dog has employed to get your attention. If you ignore your dog when he barks but yell and/or touch him when he jumps, you are more likely encouraging him to jump whereas his barking is a normal communication.

The main principle involved in treating attention seeking behaviors is to ignore it. It is not a fast-acting solution, but one that generally produces the best results. In fact, the behavior may get worse or even more intense before it eventually fades away. Keep in mind that if you give in intermittently or after a lengthy period of trying to "tough it out" before the behavior has been squelched, you will reinforce the behavior more firmly. Your dog will learn that if he keeps it up, the attention he wants will eventually come his way.

Another way to solve the problem is to use a "bridging stimulus." A bridging stimulus is a neutral sign (or cue) that brings about a particular consequence (i.e. it forms a "bridge" between a behavior and a consequence). It could be a duck call or a tuning fork, or the sound of striking a note on a piano. The noise is sounded at the time the dog is engaging in the unwanted behavior to signal the owner's imminent withdrawal of attention, perhaps even leaving the room. What the bridging stimulus does is to focus the dog's attention on that point in time when attention withdrawal is about to happen. It is not intended to be aversive, but rather a consistent signal. The specific behavior should dissolve more consistently and rapidly if a bridging stimulus is used rather than if attention withdrawal is employed without such a signal.

If your dog is still performing the same behaviors after employing the above mentioned strategies, there could be other factors involved. It is possible that your dog is not receiving ANY attention or he is spending too much time alone or in a crate. It may be that he is getting insufficient exercise or mental stimulation. Excess energy could also be an issue. It is extremely important to address these issues as well rather than just trying to stop the dog from bothering you. It could be that YOUR expectations are not conducive to normal dog behavior and care. Some questions you may ask yourself are:

• Does my dog get enough exercise? The minimum is 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.

• Is my dog eating a sensible diet?

• Is my level of communication with my dog adequate? Have I trained my dog? You should be striving for 85% responsiveness to a one word command such as sit, down, come, watch, etc.

• Is my dog being rewarded with my attention (petting, praise, etc) when he is doing something I like? If not, begin indicating my approval of desired behaviors.

• Does my dog have a "job?" For certain breeds having a job or something to focus attention regularly helps curb unwanted behavior. Retrieving the paper every day or accessing his food is an example.

The bottom line is that dogs need attention. What you give your attention to (whether good or bad) generally teaches the dog how to achieve that attention through certain behaviors. As an owner, it is your responsibility to let your dog know which behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not. Any behavior can be reinforced. It is up to you to decide what kind of relationship you want with your dog.

Training Your Dog To Come

It will be to your benefit to start using this command when your puppy is seven weeks old. The earlier you start letting him know that when you say "come" and he does, the better. Always encourage your puppy to come with enthusiastic praise and lots of encouragement. Keep in mind that no two dogs or puppies are alike, so you will have to adjust your training methods according to the individual dog.

Here boy!

Coming to you when called is a very important command for your dog to learn. The “come” command can prevent your dog from getting hit by a car and allows him or her an opportunity for freedom. Once your dog learns this command, you know you can call him back—in the park, on hiking trails, or anywhere.

Training your dog to come to you every time when called is much more difficult than it sounds. You dog learns very quickly that he can outrun you and that it's more fun to run away. To train your dog, you have to convince him that you're more attractive than even temporary freedom. Training sessions should be short and rewards should always be given.

Until you are confident that your dog completely understands and obeys the come command, it's best to limit his off-leash experiences to places where you won't find it necessary to call him back. A fenced-in yard or small fenced-in park area is ideal, since there's no risk of escape or injury if your dog doesn't return when called.


It's best to begin training your dog at a very early age, before he becomes fimiliar with total freedom. Restraint and positive reinforcement are the keys to behavior modification.

Since you need something for capturing your dog, should he decide to run away, a lightweight check-type lead is useful and can be purchased at almost any pet supply shop.

Begin training at an early age

Food is an excellent positive reinforcement for most kinds of training. The treat should be given immediately, in order to reinforce the positive behavior. When you feel that your pet is reliable about coming to you, give the reward intermittently. There should, however, be some kind of reward each time your dog successfully completes the command, such as praise, hugs and food.

Gradual Training

Begin by kneeling on the ground and calling your dog's name. Call his name cheerfully, never shouting his name in a hostile manner. Try taking a few steps away from him and see if he follows.

Each time your dog comes, reward him, increase the distance, and start over. Keep these sessions short and fun. Sessions should last 5-10 minutes and they should end on a positive note. Don't get frustrated (your dog will pick up on this immediately) and don't expect too much for the first few days. If your dog seems to be losing interest, stop the session after an easy success. Eventually, when you feel your dog is doing well, try him out in the park or another new place. Remember, don't remove your dog's lead unless you know that he will definitely return to you.

Training Tip

If you scold your dog for not coming, he can associate your impatience with you losing your temper. You need to remain cheerful and enthusiastic because if you don't, coming to you is the last thing on his mind.

Hairballs in Cats

Hairballs, also known as furballs, are very common problems in cats - particularly the longhaired breeds. They are an inevitable consequence of a cat's cleanliness. About 80% of cat owners report that their cats vomit furballs on a monthly basis.

Fur is very hard to digest. Usually it passes into the intestine if it doesn't first mat in the stomach. When fur mats in the stomach, it can fill this organ, causing food to be displaced. Because furballs are too large to pass into the small intestine, they are generally vomited up.

Have you ever looked at your cat's tongue? The top of a cat's tongue contains numerous hard barbs or spikes that point backward into the throat. These spikes are great for cleaning and grooming themselves; however, due to the direction of these spikes, the only way to get the fur off the tongue is to swallow it. Normally the non-digestible hair passes through the stomach into the intestines and is expelled in the cat's feces. Problems occur when the swallowed hair combines with fat (and sometimes food) forming a dense "hair ball" that usually stays in the stomach because of its size.

Hairballs are actually one of the most common reasons why cats vomit. The hacking or retching that you hear is the cat trying to vomit up the furballs. While it is normal for a cat to have them occasionally, large hairballs can be dangerous. Fortunately, most hairballs are eventually "coughed up" before they pass into the intestines and cause a serious digestive tract obstruction.

To reduce the frequency of hairballs, you should regularly comb or brush your cat. Long-haired cats and cats with thick coats particularly benefit from regular combing. In order for hairballs to pass more easily into the stool, an occasional dose of an oral lubricating agent is recommended. For cats that are particularly prone to furballs, special high fiber diets are available. The extra fiber in these diets help move the excess fur through the cat's digestive system. The most up-to-date dietary technology uses a natural soy lecithin emulsifier in combination with fiber. The combined action of the emulsifier and fiber helps break down existing hairballs and allows them to pass more easily through the cat's digestive tract.

Puppies From Birth To 9 Months Old

This is one of the most exciting times for you as a proud new puppy owner! Now that you've chosen your puppy and brought him or her home, you're starting one of the most satisfying relationships in your life.

Your New Puppy - From birth to 3 months

A puppy at birth.

A Puppy At Birth

He's round, he's soft and very cute, but don't let looks deceive you. Inside even a very young puppy - from birth to 12 weeks - there are already important social developments taking place. According to top breeders, there are two distinct stages for a puppy: socialization with dogs and then socialization with humans.

Stage One

The first phase, from roughly four to six weeks of age, is when interaction between your puppy and other dogs is of greatest importance. During this time, puppies learn how to socialize with dogs, as well as learn not to soil where they play, sleep or eat. Your puppy will also be weaned and moved from mothers milk to a quality brand puppy food.

Stage Two

From five to 12 weeks, your puppy begins to socialize with humans, so he should be handled by different people everyday and groomed weekly to become familiar with human touch. House and basic "manners" training can also begin during this period. Your puppy may also experience "fear/avoidance" behaviors between eight and 10 weeks. Even happy puppies may temporarily react to you with caution or alarm and react strongly to stressful situations, so don't let your puppy's fear scare you.

Your puppy's fear is a natural part of socialization and lasts for several weeks. By treating your puppy with patience and protecting him from stressful experiences, your puppy will emerge from the fear state to a trusting relationship with you.

Puppy Adolescence - 3 to 6 months old

Puppies From 3-6 Months.

A 2-Month Rotwieler Puppy And A 3-Month Golden Retriever Puppy.

Puppies grow up fast. In fact, from the time you adopt your puppy to the time he is six months old, your puppy will complete 75 percent of his growth! As you can imagine, this is a critical time in puppy development and by knowing what to expect, you can relax and be certain that your puppy is growing up on schedule.

What to Expect

  • Many puppies become more independent and occasionally ignore their owner's calls during this period. It's wise to continue your established training routine; this will help your puppy grow through this phase.
  • Your puppy will get all new teeth and chewing will begin. Use appropriate chew toys in order to keep your property and puppy safe.
  • Establish yourself as the puppy's leader, mirroring wolf-pack behavior. Dogs are pack animals and need to know who's in charge. If you don't lead, they will.

Training the "Teenage" Puppy

A 9-month old border collie.

Border Collie At 9 Months

6 to 9 months old

A puppy's "teenage years" - the time between 6 and 9 months - can be quite a challenge to a dog owner, but with consistent and thoughtful training, you can build on your puppy's early experience to turn your young dog into a great companion.

Although your puppy will not physically grow as quickly as he did between three and six months, important developments are taking place. During this time, your puppy will probably achieve sexual maturity and breeding or pregnancy will be possible. If you don't plan to breed your puppy, have him neutered or her spayed as close to the six month mark as possible. Pet overpopulation is a major problem in the U.S., with only one in four dogs having a proper home.

By the age of 6 months, it's best if your puppy is able to "sit" and "stay" on command and "come" when called. If you're not there yet, it's important to instill these good manners immediately.

Correction and Praise

Reprimanding your adorable puppy is frequently a stumbling block to training for new puppy owners. But, correcting your puppy is the only way to get his attention for training. That's why leash correction is so important. Correctly used, a leash gets your puppy's undivided attention so he can respond to your request. Just pulling on the leash is not enough - it only results in a tug of war.

Proper leash correction includes the following elements, which must work together:

A training (slip) collar of soft braided nylon. It should be snug going over the puppy's head, rest high on his neck and be positioned so the leash clips to the live (moving) ring on the back of your puppy's neck.

A comfortably-held leash, with slack so your puppy has enough room to make a mistake. A taut leash creates constant pressure on your puppy's neck, which will make him resist and is counterproductive to what you're trying to do.

A three-part correction of 1) verbal "no"; 2) leash tug/release; and 3) verbal "no," plus praise. In all of this work, it's important to praise your puppy consistently and appropriately. Giving praise at the right time will reinforce good behavior. Do not confuse your puppy by trying to reason with him or explain things. Your puppy will truly be happiest with clear commands and loving praise.

Puppy Playtime - The Good Stuff

Play is important to your puppy's development - that's why he needs at least 20 minutes of it every day. It develops coordination, stimulates his brain and relaxes him in social situations. Without play, your puppy won't develop into a happy, well-adjusted companion. So, here are several ways to make playtime a rewarding experience:

  • Choose toys that stimulate active, entertaining play, like weighted balls that roll in unpredictable directions and rubber chew toys in various shapes.
  • Rotate your puppy's toys each day so he always has "new" toys.
  • If you have an enclosed outside run or yard, set up old tires or large clay conduit pipes for your puppy to explore and play in.
  • Puppies love clean, used plastic bottles, old tennis balls, cardboard boxes and squeaky toys made for dogs. Squeaky toys help desensitize puppies to unusual noises.

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