Training a Cat

otisblueeyesThere’s a lot of cat stuff on our minds these days as we’ve recently adopted a 10 year old Himalayan cat.
So many people think that cats don’t need anything – we hear this all the time. They seem to understand that dogs need interaction, exercise and mental stimulation, but cats, (especially indoor cats) need these things as well. One thing we hear a lot from the people who think their cats don’t need anything is how horrible their cats’ behavior is and how destructive these cats are to their home!
We needed to teach Otis a lot of new things when we brought him in, as we were turning him from an indoor/outdoor cat to an entirely indoor cat, so making sure he was good at a litter box and scratching posts and keeping him stimulated enough to make up for his outdoor time was all important. I thought it might be fun to share a few videos with you.
Cats can certainly be trained through positive reinforcement techniques to follow commands. He’s got a pretty good recall and he sits like a champ on command. I also needed him to get the heck out from under my feet in the kitchen – I decided to use the threshold of the kitchen as a visual marker; something easy for him to understand. Get over the threshold and stay there and the treats you seek will come to you:
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It’s been working well. First I lured him with a treat into the spot, while I said the command, then I started saying “get in your spot” and then luring and rewarding him, and then I would say the command and pause before luring him. It took longer than it would have taken a dog, but he eventually had that “Aha moment” and did it himself. Now, he needs to stay in the spot for longer and longer periods to get treats.


He had a history of being brushed and liking it in the past (you have to brush a Himalayan!) but when he came to us he didn’t tolerate it much. Mostly he wanted to play and bite the brush, and forget about brushing anything but his cheeks and back. So, we started with what he would tolerate, and just when he was doing a nice job, we’d stop and get a treat. Of course over time he’d tolerate a bit more and a bit more. I’d try to reward it when he did a slightly better job than usual, and if I pushed it too long and he got cranky/silly about it, I just stopped and left.
Each time he rolled over on his back (even when he wasn’t being brushed) I’d use the word “belly” while I talked to him, and if he let me touch and later rub the belly (without snapping the bear trap shut – our name for the attack we’d often get if we touched it) I’d give him a treat. We’ve gotten pretty far and I was impressed when he started making the connection for giving up the belly when I asked for it:

Any pet can learn to tolerate and eventually enjoy things they don’t like using this same process. Nail trims, handling body parts they don’t like touched, and being brushed are just three practical examples. You have to start with something they do tolerate or even enjoy, even if that means that you have to start with something that hardly looks like the behavior you want to achieve. Building up slowly is the key – even the tiniest progress is worth rewarding, and never ever forcing something they’re uncomfortable with. Here’s another post about this process. It’s worth working on! If you ever want to talk to me (Christine) in more detail about your specific challenge, please do come in and I’ll try to help you with some tips

Chicken Necks for Cats and Dogs

Otis came to us at 10 years old with quite a bit of plaque on his teeth (pretty normal for a cat that only eats kibble) and during his dental cleaning, the vet noticed that he has a few abnormalities in the design of his mouth that  could cause trouble if not kept clean (pretty normal for a Himalayan). So, I’ve been working on acclimating him to having toothpaste rubbed on his gums with the hope of brushing them someday, etc. Another strategy we’ve employed is that we’ve started giving him chicken neck treats and have found it so interesting to watch him process them, as he chews and chews them on both sides of his mouth. Truthfully, I had recommended them to my customers, but before we had Otis, we have never had a cat that I could give them to – our last was in her 20s before we thought about giving her necks and she wouldn’t have done well with them at that point. I thought it would be interesting to people to see how they process them, so I took this video.  It also seems so stimulating for his mind – it takes him a while to figure out how he’s going to pick them up (I edited out a lot of that at the beginning of the video) and you can see him really thinking and giving it great effort, and he seems so satisfied all night on the nights we’ve been giving them. In fact, we’ve linked it to a game to make it all more exciting for him: There’s a great toy called “Da Bird”, whose feathers spin as they fly through the air, really simulating a bird in flight very realistically. When he makes an especially spectacular catch, he runs with it in his mouth to the kitchen and we give him his 1″ piece of neck, so it’s like he’s hunting, catching, and eating a bird. We adopted Otis because he had proven he could not remain safe outdoors (hit and badly injured by a car once and stolen at least once and luckily recovered). We wanted him to be safe and to protect the wildlife he was hunting during his 10 years as an indoor/outdoor cat, and we knew that turning him into an indoor cat meant that we would have to meet his physical and emotional needs to remain content indoors. As an indoor cat, this activity is very very exciting and satisfying for him, it’s supercharged the game making him exercise more strenuously, and no songbirds were harmed! We started with a piece of neck once a week, and have moved to about 3x a week. We believe that though he will continue to need regular dental cleanings, these yummy meat tooth scrubbers have helped his mouth stay cleaner. To create his treats, I buy half dozen whole chicken necks at a time, remove the skins, rinse them briefly and cut them into 1/2″ pieces with kitchen shears. I put the whole batch on a tray in the freezer so they freeze individually, and dump them into a freezer bag. On the nights we’re going to give one, we thaw it in a bowl of cool water – it takes very little time. Chicken gizzards also make a great cat chew/treat when cut into smaller pieces, though it takes less time for him to chew them than the necks


For dogs, you can choose from chicken necks for puppies or small dogs, duck necks (medium sized) or turkey necks for larger dogs. These can easily replace a meal for dogs. If your dog has never had one, perhaps hold it for them at first so they get the idea that it’s for chewing (I suppose I should say to be careful of your fingers, which are also made of meat and bone).  The benefits are great – so delicious and interesting to chew, and they really use their back teeth for crunching them up, making for a good toothbrush. We met a holistic vet recently who told us that he recommends feeding 3 raw poultry parts per week for dogs, in place of commercial joint supplements, due to the high levels of natural glucosamine and chondroitin and other joint supporting nutrients in the collagen and connective tissues of necks in a highly bio-available state.

Another nice benefit for dogs with anal gland issues – several chicken necks a week can make nice firm stools that help to express the anal glands more effectively.

That photo above links to a great video that shows how valuable poultry necks are for cleaning dogs’ teeth.

Feel weird about giving them? We did too a bit at first, but as long as poultry bones are raw, they can be fed to pets – never ever ever EVER cook poultry bones (or other kind of bone) and give them to pets – cooking makes the bones brittle and very dangerous. Raw poultry necks have smaller more pliable bones and lots of collagen. Our holistic vet thinks raw chicken necks are great! Think of all the hundreds of thousands of feral cats out there eating whole mice and birds – crunch crunch crunch! (Their presence is a real disaster for wildlife as a result – please see this link!)  However, for those that question whether cats can and do eat larger prey, and whether the tiny bones in a chicken neck could be unsafe for a cat to eat, here’s a video of a cat chewing the head off of a fairly large ground squirrel (of course this also illustrates what a risk cats are to wildlife. Not for the squeamish, but the point here is to show what their physical ability is to process meat and bone):
When feeding necks and other bones regularly to your pets, try to source organically fed/grass fed meats and bones to cut down on environmental contaminates. Try and buy them fresh from the best place you can (meat meant for humans to eat in supermarkets likely has a higher bacterial count than one sourced directly from a local farm (as supermarket meats are being sold and handled with the understanding that it’s meant to be cooked), or those from an Independent pet supply store, processed and handled carefully for the purpose of pets eating them raw. This is more of a concern for the safety of the humans handling them than for the pets, who aren’t as vulnerable to sickness from things like salmonella as we are.

The Completely Healthy Pet Food Your Vet Probably Vilifies

By Dr. Karen Becker, DVM:
Today I’d like to discuss the reason why dogs and cats can, and should, eat raw meat.

This is one of the most frequent conversations I have with startled visitors to my home who say, ‘My gosh! You feed your pets raw meat?’ as well as clients at my Natural Pet animal clinic who already feed or would like to feed their pets raw, but are getting an argument from their own veterinarians about raw food diets for dogs and cats.

The whole debate about raw food doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Dogs and cats have consumed living, raw meats for thousands of years.

To this day barn cats catch and kill mice, and no one calls poison control. Farmers also don’t call poison control when their dog finds a litter of baby bunnies and pops them in their mouth like little Tootsie Rolls. In these cases, no one thinks to induce vomiting or say, ‘Oh my gosh! My pet just ate raw meat!’

The truth is both cats and dogs are designed specifically to consume raw meat. Their bodies are adapted to process raw, living foods.

Fast Food is Bad for Pets, Too

The first bags of commercial pet food entered the market about a hundred years ago. From a historical perspective, processed dog and cat food is a relatively new phenomenon.

However, your pet’s GI tract has not evolved in those hundred years to make good use of an entirely kibble-based diet — and it never will.

Fortunately, the bodies of dogs and cats are amazingly resilient and therefore capable of handling foods that aren’t biologically appropriate, like most dry pet foods. Unfortunately, this adaptability has led to a situation of ‘dietary abuse’ among the veterinary community.

Commercial pet foods — especially dry bagged foods — are so convenient. The majority of vets recommend them to all their patients. Processed dog and cat food is convenient, inexpensive, and there’s no preparation or cleanup required. You stash the bag in the pantry, scoop out a portion at meal time, drop it into your pet’s food dish and you’re done.

Because commercial pet food has been so successfully marketed (dog and cat food products are a multimillion dollar industry, after all), and because pets’ bodies are resilient and can survive, if not thrive on the stuff, we have been lulled into a sense of complacency about the food we feed our precious four-legged companions.

Most veterinary students don’t learn about species-appropriate pet diets in vet school. The only food discussed is processed, commercial pet formulas.

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The concept of feeding a living food diet is foreign to many vets. If a client mentions he feeds raw, the vet will ask, ‘Why don’t you just feed your cat regular cat food, for crying out loud? Why do you need to make food? Why do you need to feed living foods?’

It doesn’t take much research to uncover the fact that dogs and cats are designed by nature to eat living foods — unprocessed, raw, nourishing foods. Feeding a commercial formula is a bit like deciding your child can be healthy on an exclusive diet of meal replacement bars. No real food, just meal replacement bars.

A meal replacement bar is fine now and then, but no sane parent would ever consider raising a child on just those alone. Yet that’s what we’re doing when we feed our pets nothing but commercial, processed foods.

Living foods in your pet’s diet are necessary for successful overall immune and organ function.

Eliminating Parasites

It seems the biggest problem most people have with a raw meat diet revolves around parasites.

Parasites — roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms — are passed up the food chain and wind up in the guts of animals.

We don’t feed guts to our pets! If you buy a commercially available raw food diet, you will not find guts in the formula because guts contain parasites.

If you prepare a homemade raw diet for your dog or cat, you don’t include guts. Do not feed the stomach and small and large intestines. Those are the parts of the prey we get rid of, because those are the parts that harbor parasites.

Muscle meat — the part of the prey used to prepare raw food diets — is sterile except in rare instances when parasites escape the GI tract (guts) and travel there.

Certain parasites, like toxoplasmosis, that get into muscle meat can make your pet sick, which is why you should freeze raw meats for three days before feeding them to your dog or cat.

By freezing meats three days before serving (a lot like how sushi is handled), and by removing the guts of prey species, you can successfully avoid exposing your raw fed pet to parasites.

Salmonella and Your Pet

The second most frequently asked question I get about raw meat diets is, ‘What about salmonella?’

The most important thing to understand about salmonella or any other potentially pathogenic bacteria is that contamination absolutely does occur. It’s a fact of life.

Salmonella is the reason for most recalls of dry pet foods (and human foods as well). When a salmonella outbreak occurs, there has been contamination in the food chain.

The word Salmonella is used to describe over 1,800 serovars (species) of gram-negative bacteria. This bacteria lives in many species of mammals. The most common bacteria riding around in your dog or cat is Salmonella typhimurium.

I want to quote from an article titled Campylobacter and Salmonella-Associated Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats: When Do I Treat? It was written by Stanley L. Marks, BVSc, PhD, DACVIM (Internal Medicine, Oncology), DACVN, Davis, CA, for the Veterinary Information Network (VIN):

“The clinical significance of bacteria such as clostridium and salmonella causing diarrhea or illness in dogs and cats is clouded by the existence of many of these organisms as normal constituents of the indigenous intestinal flora. The primary enteropathogenic bacteria most commonly incriminating in canine and feline diarrhea is Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter, and Salmonella.

Veterinarians are faced with a quandary when attempting to diagnose small animals with suspected bacterial-associated diarrhea because the isolation rates of these pathogenic bacteria are similar in diarrheic and non-diarrheic animals, and because the incidence of bacterial-associated diarrhea is extremely variable.  Salmonella species are commonly isolated from both healthy and hospitalized dogs and cats.”

What this is saying, in a nutshell, is dogs and cats naturally have some Salmonella in their GI tracts much of the time — it’s not some unknown foreign invader but rather one their bodies are familiar with.

If you’re familiar with reptiles, the situations are similar. Reptiles are known to naturally harbor Salmonella in their GI tracts.

In an article written by Rhea V. Morgan DVM, DACVIM, DACVO for the VIN, the doctor asserts the following about illness resulting from salmonella:

“Factors that increase the likelihood of clinical disease from Salmonella include the age of the animal, poor nutrition, the presence of cancer or neoplasia, and other concurrent diseases and stress, as well as the administration of antibiotics, chemotherapy or glucocorticoids [which are steroids].”

The bottom line is potentially harmful bacteria reside in your pet’s GI tract whether you feed raw foods or the processed stuff. In other words, your pet is already ‘contaminated’ with Salmonella.

Dogs and cats are built to handle bacterial loads from food that would cause significant illness in you or me. Your pet’s body is well equipped to deal with heavy doses of familiar and strange bacteria because nature built him to catch, kill and immediately consume his prey.

Your dog’s or cat’s stomach is highly acidic, with a pH range of 1-2.5. Nothing much can survive that acidic environment — it exists to keep your pet safe from potentially contaminated raw meat and other consumables.

In addition to the acid, dogs and cats also naturally produce a tremendous amount of bile. Bile is both anti-parasitic and anti-pathogenic. So if something potentially harmful isn’t entirely neutralized by stomach acid, the bile is a secondary defense. And your pet’s powerful pancreatic enzymes also help break down and digest food.

Keeping Your Pet’s GI Tract in Good Shape

To help your pet’s digestive system remain strong and resilient enough to handle a heavy bacterial load and to support overall immune function, there are several things you can do.

  • Number one, minimize stress by feeding a species-appropriate diet, the kind your dog or cat is meant to eat. It’s important to feed vegetarian food to vegetarian animals, and meat-based food to your carnivorous dog or cat.
  • Minimize the drugs your pet takes, such as antibiotics. Reseed the gut during and after antibiotic therapy with a probiotic.  (Green Dog Note: For dogs, check out “Protect” probiotics which can actually be used during the time your dog is on antibiotics). It’s also a good idea to maintain your dog or cat on a daily probiotic to balance the ratio of good to bad bacteria (gut flora).
  • A good-quality digestive enzyme will help promote your dog’s or cat’s body to get the most out of the food you feed.

Providing your favorite pooch or feline with a balanced, biologically sound diet, a healthy lifestyle, digestive enzymes and probiotics, will nourish your pet, support healthy immunologic function, and bring overall vibrancy to her body.

This is in direct contrast to feeding a commercial formula of highly processed rendered byproducts, chemicals and grains — the typical mainstream pet food sold today. The sooner you transition your dog or cat to the kind of diet they were designed to eat, the sooner they will be on her way to vibrant good health.

Update on the rescue of 48 dogs

Many of you that shop in our store have been following the story of 48 dogs that were seized near the Gorge from a “breeder” who was not giving them food or water. In a perfect example of why you should never buy a dog off the internet, this woman had a beautiful website showing glossy well muscled dogs, living in a family setting. In reality, a mixture of 48 dobermans, rottweilers and shepherds were living in a terribly neglected state, some living in such confinement that they couldn’t stand up or walk properly. They were emaciated and dying. There were injured lactating females with no puppies…
Our friend and longtime Green Dog customer, Bobbi,  has her own small dog rescue (recently becoming a nonprofit org), as well as being involved with Dogs of the Gorge, a small nonprofit that helps to support the efforts of the tiny shelter in Goldendale Wa. When these dogs were seized, they went to the Goldendale shelter, which comfortably houses about 15 dogs. With 48 more, in desperate shape, their situation was dire. <! — more — >

These animals could legally be fostered, but could not be adopted, or even transferred to other shelters as the seizure was involuntary and the court case had not yet been decided against her. We did the best we could to rally donations at our register and through Facebook and by trying to get the word out to other rescue groups that foster situations were badly needed (one of these organizations made a generous donation of $$ to have them all spayed and neutered). We donated more than 600 lbs of food and 20lbs biscuits, as well as a variety of donated items from our great customers who dug out old stainless steel bowls, beds, shampoo, etc to help out, and a few that donated bags of food.  I believe we raised over $1000 at the register (thank you to everyone that chucked your change in there – it really added up, combined with a very generous $500 donation from one of our regular customers!). Meanwhile, the owner had hired a lawyer to try and get the dogs back (!) and we eagerly awaited the decision. The good news is, the case was decided against her, so the dogs can now be adopted out.

Here’s an excellent update from our friend Bobbi:

In follow up to the 48 dog rescue…….. thanks to the outpouring of donations, due in large part to Green Dog’s connections, networking and their devoted customers, the dogs have received the care, food and attention that they so desperately needed.  Many of the dogs were placed in foster homes and most of those foster parents have adopted the dogs into their forever homes.  There are approximately a dozen dogs still available for adoption.

Of the 48, there were two more challenging dogs that I’ve brought into my pack at home, for rehabilitation.  There was a small white female shepherd, who upon arrival could barely walk, due to severe muscle atrophy of her hips/back leg….. I assume from a life spent crated.  She refused all human interaction, running and hiding in fear.  When a lead was placed, she would attempt to escape at all cost, even if it meant choking herself to pull away from the human. After 24 hrs at my place,  with one of my “therapy” dogs, I discovered that this shepherd is a puppy, likely not more than 12-18mths old.  “Shimmer” has been with us for 5 wks now, and is fully integrated into the pack.  She is a hilarious goof-ball…… full of play, personality, attention to her human and endearing affection.  She is entirely off lead now and acutely responsive to verbal cues.  While she is beauty from the inside out, gaining weight and pain free, she will need lifelong supplements to preserve her bone and cartilage integrity.  Her spine appears more level and aligned all the time, however there is obvious deficit that is noted when she runs…..the hind legs moving in unison, like a bunny hop.  It doesn’t slow her down nor infringe on her delight of being.

The second dog, a female doberman, between 2 & 3 yrs old, was labelled a “human aggressor” upon arrival and after a couple of weeks at the shelter, she was still considered a high bite risk and potential  liability.  I named her Angel, in an attempt to shed the negative connotations.  This dog struck me as a forgotten one, left behind who had withdrawn into fear and emotionally shut down.  After a couple of sessions with her at the shelter, she was accepting my touch, but with apprehension.  It was as if she’d lost consciousness with how to be in a body …. always statuesque, stiff and catatonic-like, when not cowering in a corner aggressing at human approach.  I transported her to my place for rehab approx 3-4wks ago.  It’s been a gift to gain this girl’s trust and watch her awareness open up and her life unfold.  She’s quite the athlete, hiking and running by my side.  Her internal battle between fear and courage was so tangible, as she’d waffle back and forth, but she made daily strides in her progress.  An unexpected derailment occurred in her rehab with me.  She’d been spayed on Monday, 8/23/10 and by the following Friday she was hemorrhaging to death internally, not from any surgical complication but from Von Willbrandt’s disease.  In simplistic terms, it is a congenital bleeding disorder, akin to hemophillia.  Dobermans have a propensity for this disease and it’s usually discovered when they have surgery (spay) or suffer trauma.  I live in the foothills of Mt Adams, so it became quickly apparent that a local veterinarian having the necessary supplies or surgical team if needed was out of the question at midnight.  I gave her fluids to buy us time, and drove her into Dove Lewis Emergency Hospital in Portland.  They suspected Von Willbrandt’s immediately, though were still not certain that they wouldn’t have to do surgery to find the source of the bleed.  They gave me two estimates:  $3000.00 at the least, and $7000.00 at the most.  They supported any decision, particularly since she’s a dog in rehab, that I’d only brought home a couple weeks earlier.  There was no decision…… she was my responsibility now, had given me her trust over the preceding weeks and up to this point, every human in her life had given up and quit on her in one way or another.  Learning from the veterinarian that beyond this crisis, she could lead a whole and healthy life, I asked them to proceed with transfusions of blood and clotting factor, and was grateful that I got approved for Care Credit as I waited in the hospital’s lobby.  She remained in ICU over the next 2 days and was discharged to me on day 3 with her blood counts holding.  Since this ordeal, Angel has broken through many barriers….. she’s tapped into relaxation and  joy, can’t get close enough to her human, has discovered toys and is learning to play with the pack.  While she still has a challenging  journey ahead in her on-going rehab, she’s been quite the inspiration, with amazing courage, and a sweet innocence. As I can no longer put off the inevitable and apply for non-profit status for my own formal rescue, it’s name shall be “Angel Eyes Dog Rescue.”

What I want to express to you, by imparting Angel and Shimmer’s stories, is GRATITUDE.  Everyone who gifted these 48 dogs with food, money, treats, supplies, time or energy in any form is a part of their story, and a part of the turning point in each of their lives when humans no longer quit, but care.

From Truth about Pet Food:”EPA document proves euthanized dogs and cats are rendered”

It’s a frustration that there is so little regulation as to what is allowed in pet foods, and so much regulation preventing better manufacturers from stating that the quality of their ingredients is sound. This means that companies using condemned meats are protected from having to reveal the content, source, or grade of their meats, even though the origins of these meats can be linked to very unethical sources and contain many chemical contaminants.

If you or someone you know is feeding a pet food that contains any of these ingredients: “Animal Fat”, “Meat and Bone Meal”, By-products”, or “Animal Digest”, it is likely that they are using 4D meats (animals that are not allowed to be used for human consumption as they are diseased, disabled, dying, or already dead. These meats are often “denatured”, meaning toxic chemicals are added to prevent them from being allowed back into the human food chain, treated with chemical preservatives to combat rancidity, and contain traces of the drugs used to euthanize the animals, like Pentobarbital (these chemicals do not “cook out”). Heres’ an article from The Truth About Pet Food website that further exposes some of the issues that some grocery store quality foods have.

Birds need stimulation – why not try training?

cortezMost of my posts are about cats and dogs of course, as that is our primary focus at Green Dog. But I know some of you have birds out there, and today I ran across a few videos about bird training that seemed to really have value – I thought I’d pass along a few to you. (and anyone that enjoys training any species at all can learn from these videos, as the concepts of positive reinforcement training are remarkably similar between species. I’ve trained a lot of animals, from orangutans to rhinos using these exact same techniques, and they work like a dream on dogs and even cats).

Though I wouldn’t personally choose to own a parrot, my work with parrots in the wildlife show/education dept at Zoo Atlanta taught me so much about the value and the mechanics of positive reinforcement training, and it made me respect the intelligence of parrots and especially their great need for mental stimulation. Parrots don’t do very well with down time – they’ve evolved to live in very complex environments, and their diet is incredibly varied, seasonally fluctuating, spread out over great distances. Not only that, but items in their diet are often difficult to process once they find them (hard shells, fruits with varying rinds and spiny protections, seeds embedded in plants, etc). Sitting around and eating chopped foods out of a bowl is certainly not how parrots are wired, and many difficult behavioral problems are born out of this sort of boredom. At the zoo we used enrichment techniques to introduce variety in their lives when they had down time in their cages, but most importantly we utilized positive reinforcement training programs. This was not only to develop behaviors that would ultimately help us bring educational messages to the public about parrot conservation in the wild, but more importantly to challenge and stimulate the minds of the parrots in our care.

First a fun one: Here’s a video of someone who has taught their parrot a fantastic array of tricks using positive reinforcement:

Even dog and cat trainers can use most of these tricks as inspirations for the types of behaviors you can train at home – pick up items and put them in specific places, position their body in unique ways, target objects, open and close doors,  even match colors. (I once met a trainer who had taught her dog to sort light and dark laundry into two different baskets):
Then the mechanics of it all. I stumbled upon this woman that seems to really have made some good basic videos that would help to get a person started.

Here’s a link to the dos and don’ts of parrot training
Here’s a link about Target Training for birds

Target training can be the foundation for training lots of new tricks with any species of animal. I wrote an article about how we zookeepers used target training to introduce many species of animals to positive reinforcement training to help us care for them better. Click here

Training any animal is a perfect way to stimulate their minds and to develop a closer, more positive relationship with that animal. Animals with behavioral problems can truly be helped with positive reinforcement training, both indirectly by providing more stimulation, and directly by allowing you to address issues like handle-ability, food or object guarding, learning to choose calm behaviors over impulsive ones, etc.  If you want tips about clicker training, the internet is loaded with them, and we also have some great books at Green Dog that will help you get started.

It’s Healthier to Feed on a Schedule

Photo By Anna Shephard, Photo Property of Green Dog Pet Supply

We at Green Dog strongly believe that both dogs and cats do better physically with scheduled feedings as opposed to leaving food in the bowl all day. I know that many of you groan when we say this, as cats especially can be difficult to convince that this is an OK way to be fed. However, if you stick to a schedule (perhaps twice a day at the same time every day for dogs, and ideally several times a day for cats, dividing their daily amounts into 2 or 3 ), pets will learn that it doesn’t work to complain at 2 pm if they always are fed at 8 am and 6pm (for example). Stick it out, and it will result in healthier, leaner pets. When there are multiple pets in the household, scheduled feedings with discreet portions that disappear after a short time helps to ensure that the fatter animals aren’t able to graze on the food the others leave behind. All of them will quickly learn that there is a window of opportunity available to them for each feeding, and if they don’t eat then, their opportunity vanishes until the next scheduled feeding.

It’s perfectly OK and even desirable for carnivores to fast a bit in between meals.  In the wild, carnivores work to find and/or catch their food, their body spends time digesting it, and then a period of time might pass before they are able to secure their next meal. They’re not built as grazers, and constant small amounts of food constantly diverts energy to the digestive process. Every time they eat, they stimulate insulin, keeping it at a constant higher level. This fools the body into thinking it’s always hungry.

Of course, if there is a geriatric animal in the home, or a pet who is underweight or suffering from a health issue, it may be advisable to separate them for additional feedings during the day. Just remember – like humans, weight loss can’t occur without portion control or additional exercise (or both). Higher protein diets can help your pet feel more satiated (full and satisfied) in between meals. Combine this with a bit of extra exercise and you’ll see your pets get slimmer and have more energy!

Green Dog is on the Move!


Giant counter takes a ride down the street. Photo Property of Green Dog Pet Supply

Note: this post was created several years ago – we finished renovations and moved into the new space in July 2010!

That’s our sales counter, on its way to the new location! We were told by the guy who built it that it shouldn’t be moved, as it would likely crack (it’s more than 1000lb and the top is concrete that was poured in place.) Luckily, we found a mover that specializes in moving heavy fragile things (printing presses, etc). So, they used jacks and wheely carts and rolled that thing out to the curb where they picked it up with a forklift, put it on a flatbed, and drove it down to the new place. Again with the forklift, then the wheely carts and jacks, and it was in place! Pretty fun morning actually, and trippy to see our counter outdoors. The day didn’t end there though – the big built-in that was at the end of the store was deconstructed and taken down the street as well to be rebuilt. Luckily our contractor (Alpine Designs) is the same guy who built it in the first place 6 years ago and it went really smoothly – we were even able to reuse a good bit of the drywall, which means less painting for me. Check out lots of fun photos of the renovation and deconstruction, as well as more photos of the counter move on our Facebook page at this link.
Our move is still scheduled to take place on the 4th and 5th of July 2010, and we very much hope to be open the morning of the 6th, if the computer is up and functional. Come check out the store this week to see how different it looks, and score some deals on clearance items!

Beware of Cocoa Mulch

Photo by Katie Backus, Permission given to Green Dog Pet Supply.

I covered this a few years back, but it seems lots of people are forwarding us the warnings about cocoa mulch, and I thought it was definitely worthy of a blog post.

There is a mulch sold by garden stores that is made from cocoa bean shells. It really does look good, has a lovely fine texture and smells fantastic, just like chocolate. The trouble is, just like chocolate, it contains both caffeine and the chemical that is toxic to dogs called theobromine. Though deaths from eating cocoa mulch are not widely reported, there have been a number of cases of dogs becoming ill from ingesting it. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, muscle seizures, and possibly death. The concentration of theobromine in the mulch is actually quite high, making it more dangerous than something like milk chocolate, and since it does smell so delicious, there is a risk that some dogs might eat it.  So, if you have an indiscriminate eater, try to be vigilant on walks if you see your dog really nosing around a mulched area.  If you really want to use cocoa mulch, look for a variety that states that it is theobromine free (though it still might contain caffeine, which could also be harmful to pets), or just consider some of the old favorites like tree bark.

(photo borrowed from the ASPCA website)

She’s at it again! 4th nest at Green Dog


Photo Property of Green Dog Pet Supply

There’s a new nest, high up in the planter closest to our door. This one is cute, with 2 branches sewn together in an X. Lots of spider webs on this one – the last one was lots of lichen. Eggs laid Wed and Thurs (April 21 and 22 – Happy Earth Day!!!)


Photo Property of Green Dog Pet Supply