Monthly Archives: October 2014

Bad Attitudes


It may not be the catchiest or most appealing of titles, and yes we all have them – even our pets – but this post is not about your moody moggy or your bad bunny or even your naughty newt! This is about our species, the human species, and our bad attitudes towards animals generally and their welfare.

A lot of people, a lot of the time, think about what they can get from their animals; not how enriching animals can be and how we can care for them. Animals are not given enough credit, and are often underestimated in their abilities. However, this is not my gripe; my gripe is how with certain species – we want them for our own reasons (not nice fluffy reasons).
Dogs for instance are used for fighting, for bait, as status symbols, as active guard dogs by people who cannot and do not attempt to control them, they have behavioural issues caused by us because we want them for selfish reasons.
Many wild species have been hunted to or near extinction because selfish humans thought their head would look better mounted on a wall than attached to their body, or that their tusks/horns/antlers would make a better walking stick or ornament than provide an actual function for the animal.

Then, when we’re done, we just dump them in a shelter (and that’s the lucky ones). Some are given free to a “good home”; how do you know that animal is going to a pleasant place where it’ll be cared for? Do you care?
Others are tied up, or “set free” in an unfamiliar place and left to fend for themselves, or die. Why do we do this? What did our pets ever do to us except love us and want love in return?
Others are put to sleep or left to die after we have taken what we want.
If you cannot take on the responsibility of a particular animal species or breed, then either choose a pet you can manage, or wait until you can take on the responsibility.
Wildlife needs just as much protecting from the bad attitudes of our species too.

Unwanted dog, in an animal shelter
Unwanted dog, in an animal shelter

Yesterday, in Southport (England – where I currently live) a beautiful German Shepherd male dog was tied to a fence and left. Skinny, but otherwise in good health. If he hadn’t been rescued he may have died; unless he had the strength to break loose of the metal check (choke) chain that was around his neck.

Dogs are not the only species to be mistreated or abandoned. But just think, this person won’t be punished for leaving this beautiful ‘bear’ to die at the side of a road, tied up to a fence. I wonder if they will even feel guilt for this? I hope so.

What of other animals that are abandoned and not found? What happens to them? They do not deserve to be mistreated or abandoned; we ought to care for them. Thankfully this German Shepherd was rescued by a friend of mine and he’s doing well – relaxed enough to snooze with a new roof over his head…

Snoozing Rescued GSD
Snoozing Rescued GSD

He’s one of the lucky ones. But he shouldn’t have to be deemed “lucky” it shouldn’t be a common thing this cruelty, lack of care, this selfishness towards these beautiful creatures. All animals deserve our care and respect. I think as a species, humans, we can do better for our furry, feathery, scaly (all our animal) friends!

What shocks me most is that animals suffer like this, and worse on a daily basis all over the world. The UK has the some best animal welfare and animal protection laws in the world! But even these are so shocking that we cannot keep our animals safe. That’s scarier than anything you’ll see this Halloween…

Love the animals in your life, your own or not. Keep them safe, and protect them and love them – this is our duty towards all animals, to love and not abuse.

Common Behavioural Problems: Fireworks Anxiety (dogs)


Behaviour Banner

I have come to the conclusion over the years that I do not in fact have the pleasure of having a dog. My dog does not exhibit many stereotypical dog behaviours – has no interest in chasing cats, never plays fetch (or anything except ‘chase me!’ really…), he HATES water – jumps over puddles, sulks if he has to go out in the rain, and won’t willingly stay in the bath! You get the picture! This time of year I am always reminded of another way in which my dog is not a dog – you see my little Barney jumps at almost everything! But fireworks… He LOVES them!
*BARK*BARK*BARK*
Yea, you tell those fireworks Barney… ??!
If we do fireworks in our garden the dog is not allowed outside, for his own safety, except on a short lead. He’s only allowed to bark at the one’s he can see/ hear from a distance.

Well, most dogs are not like that. Studies have shown that around 45% of dogs exhibit fear/ anxiety toward fireworks. So, I thought I’d cover some helpful tips to help your canine friend through the fireworks this bonfire night.

1. Ensure your pet has somewhere to hide; somewhere they feel safe. Dark/ covered areas, and enclosed spaces are good as they help calm your pet and make them feel secure. Under furniture, in (clear) cupboards, an enclosed/hooded pet bed, even a cardboard box with something soft and familiar smelling inside – just ensure your pet has access to it at all times so that they can escape the moment they feel the need to.

Zzz Alfie

2. Walk your dog during daylight hours – there is no sense in attempting to walk a frightened dog when it is dark with fireworks going off left, right and centre! Walk them during the day so that they can enjoy the exercise, and you can care for them safely, indoors when the scary fireworks are lighting up the night sky. This reduces the possibility of fireworks being set off during ‘walkies’ and your dog becoming anxious/fearful.

3. By November I assume there are not many people who leave the windows and doors open around their house, due to the cold autumn evenings, however, this point still stands – ensure that windows and doors are shut, and blinds and curtains are also closed, this will help to muffle the sounds of the fireworks outside. Turning on the TV or radio (some noise) will also help to distract your pet from the noise of the fireworks.

Fireworks

4. One of the most important things you, as an owner, can do is to behave completely normal and ignore the fear/anxiety behaviour your dog is exhibiting in response to the fireworks. Unless your pet is self-harming due to the stress/anxiety or going to accidentally cause itself harm, do not give your pet attention (positive or negative) as ‘reward’ for the behaviour. If you are anxious about your pet becoming anxious, they will pick up on it and it will increase their anxiety.
This applies to any irrational fear/anxiety behaviour. If you comfort your pet every time they exhibit fear/anxiety, they feel that there is a reason they are being comforted, and that fear/anxiety is the correct response to the stimuli. Ignore your pets anxiousness; especially toward normal things that will not do them harm – such as the vacuum cleaner, recycling bins, furniture (yes, our pets can become anxious easily over mundane things).

5. Do not leave your pet alone, if you can help it, to ensure their safety. Ensuring your dog is microchipped (and wearing a collar and tag) will be beneficial if your dog somehow escapes.

6. Toys and chews are helpful for distracting your dog and keeping them occupied during the fireworks. A new toy, their favourite toy, a treat toy, a rawhide chew, their favourite chewy treat – whatever will be the best distraction for you.

Barney nomming

7. Adaptil supply a great pheromone diffuser, spray,  and collar for dogs. There are also Adaptil non-pheromone tablets.
The diffuser is a plug in and emits the pheromone throughout your house and works to soothe and comfort your dog.
The collar needs to be in close contact with the skin at all times, the body heat from the animal stimulates the collar to work.
The spray should not be sprayed on the animal! The spray can be sprayed on bedding, in kennels, in the car… ensure you and your pet stay away from the sprayed area after it has been sprayed, for 15 minutes (spray it 15 minutes prior to your dog needing the affects) to allow the spray to take affect and not cause harm to anyone.
NB. Adaptil is specially designed for use with dogs only.

Fear of fireworks doesn’t just affect dogs; many pets are scared of fireworks – the noises and the colours. Most of these tips can be applied to your pet species.

If you are concerned about your pet, seek the advice of your vet and/ or an animal behaviourist.


If you have any questions or comments, or would like any more information or advice regarding this post; or if you have anything specific you would like me to cover in a future post, then either contact me through this site or leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
. Google+ (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AnimalFreak24)
. LinkedIn (Ali Holloway)

Ali Holloway – BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Picking a Pet


There is plenty to consider when you think about getting a pet… I doubt I will cover anything but I hope to get across some of the main things in this post. So I’ll just dive right in…

What kind of pet is right for you?
Species, breed, age, lifespan, lifestyle requirements, environment – these are all important factors to consider when thinking about a pet.
– what sort of pet would fit in with your lifestyle?
– is your home suitable for the pet you want?
– what type of pet is your home suitable for?
– do you have time to give the pet the attention and care it needs?

Chilean Rose

Think about what pet you want. Think about whether or not you can commit. Can you commit to…
–  walking a dog daily, often multiple times daily?
–  ensuring a cat is exercised daily?
–  cleaning the glass, substrate, decor and filter of a fish tank?
–  cleaning a rodent cage multiple times a week?
–  the lifespan of the pet you desire?
If you cannot commit, either choose a different species or consider waiting until you are in a positions to commit fully to the pet you desire. If you do not have the time or the space for the kind of pet you want; then you may need to look into either waiting, or consider a different species/ breed.

Horses

There are many things to consider before adding a pet into your family.

Consider your finances – can you afford the pet you want? – Not just the one off payment for the pet and accessories; but the regular payments towards food, healthcare, replacement bedding, etc.

Space – Where will the pet live? Does it require specialised housing? Will it have free run of your home/ garden? Is your home suitable for the pet you want? Does this pet require large housing building/ buying? Do you know what housing type is best for the species you want?
Consider the positioning of any specialised housing – not near busy thoroughfares, or in direct sunlight/ under bright lights,  anywhere too dark, too cold, too hot, etc. Does the housing need to be outside? Do you have enough outside space to accommodate the animal?

Socialisation – Do yo need to buy more than one due to the animal being of a social species? Does the animal need socialising outside of the home? What is the best way to socialise the species?

There are many things to consider! So do some research, ask a professional (nb. not every person who works in a pet store, etc. is a professional!), check out a few different individuals of the species you want, and be as prepared as possible before diving in to pet ownership!

 


If you have any questions or comments, or would like any more information or advice regarding this post; or if you have anything specific you would like me to cover in a future post, then either leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
. Google+ (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AnimalFreak24)
. LinkedIn (Ali Holloway)

Pet Travel Safety


People don’t think about safety during travel with regards to there pets, as much as they should; especially with dogs in cars. Travelling with our pets is something we almost all do at some point – even if it’s just a trip to the vets.

Safety is important when travelling – smaller pets ought to be in a safe, secure pet carrier; suitable for the size of your pet. Someone ought to securely hold the small pets in the carrier, or the carrier ought to be secured in your vehicle; so that the carrier does not move about too much or tip over.

Hamster in carrier

Larger animals can be in larger pet carriers and crates/ cages, and secured in your vehicle. This can be a carrier that is mobile, or fitted in your vehicle.

Dog in crate
Dog in crate

Alternatives for larger pets, such as dogs and cats, are pet seat belts. These consist of harnesses and some way to fasten them into the seat belt buckle; some plug straight into the buckle plug, others have a loop in which the seatbelt goes through and plugs in as normal.

Dog Car Harness (loop)
Dog Car Harness (loop)

What is important to remember is that it’s not just your pet you put at risk by leaving them loose during travel. They could be a distraction and cause an accident without meaning to, and they are a weight that can be thrown into a person or out a window/windscreen if you get into a crash. Now my little Bedlington, in the image above, is 17″ to the shoulder and weighs upwards of 10kg – if he was lose in my car and there was an accident, 10kg slamming into a person could kill them; 10kg shooting out the window/windscreen could kill your pet too…

It is one of my biggest pet peeves (no pun intended) is seeing pets loose in a vehicle – the danger for the pet and people is greater than we tend to give credit to.

World Animal Day


4th October 2014 – World Animal Day

Also known as International Animal Day or World Animal Lover Day. World Animal Day is a day for remembering all animals; by the people who love and respect them.

So enjoy the following animal images…