During this time of global uncertainty, there are parts of our lives that have been put to the back burner. If you have (or will soon have) a new puppy at home, it is imperative to keep up their socialization during these times of isolation. A puppy's critical (or social) period ranges from around 3 weeks to 3 months of age. This is the time when puppies can readily accept new things or people and still feel safe.
With the following advice I hope that you can start your puppy off on the right foot. Please share this blog with as many puppy owners as you know!
First and foremost, click HERE and download the puppy socialization checklist from Dr. Sophia Yin's website. Near the end of the blog you can click on the link to download the puppy socialization checklist. It gives a good outline of all the different things puppies need to socialize to, and one can tweak these during isolation.
Using a gentle leader can help you keep your puppy's head where you need it to be, looking up at you while sitting.
However, socialization is not just getting your puppy used to meeting other dogs or strange people, it is EVERYTHING in this dog's world. This is easy to do from home without anyone around (you might have lots of free time right now anyway!). Again, refer to Dr. Sophia Yin's checklist.
With everything going on in the world, making sure your puppy is well socialized can seem small. However, this time will pass and when it does, you will feel good knowing that you provided your newest family member with skills that will carry it through its entire life.
Decoding Your Cat
Cats can sometimes seem like aliens from another planet! For those of us who share our homes with these strange creatures, it can seem impossible to understand them. They do however have some common, universal behaviours that can be decoded and I am here to help you decipher them!
Some of these signs include flicking of the tail, skin twitching, tongue flicking, and ear flattening. If she didn’t want to be petted anymore and just ran away, that would be a very clear sign that she was unhappy, but cats are usually much more cryptic. However, if she stuck around then that might mean she still wants contact, just in a different way.
Many cats have “no-touch” zones on their bodies and will react strongly if these are trespassed upon. For example, my cat loves to be scratched around his face and head, but hates to have his belly touched (this is a common “no-touch” area for cats). When cats groom each other, they tend to focus on the head and neck, so it makes sense these areas are where petting is more acceptable.
To better understand, or decode, your cat, I think we need to understand their basic needs. A primary need for cats is the need to hunt. You can help reduce stress in your cat’s life by instituting daily play sessions that mimic hunting.
There are many cat toys available to help with simulated hunting. I like the No Bowl feeding system, but there are many options out there. If your cat doesn’t play easily, don’t give up! Continue to try different toys, you can even get some great ideas for DIY cat toys on websites like Pinterest.
While cats may not be as easy to read as our canine companions, they make a lovely addition to most households. Understanding what they are feeling and thinking can go a long way to making sure that everyone is getting the most out of the relationship.
Dr. Juanita Ashton, BSc, DVM, ACDBC-IAABC is a certified Canine Behavioural Consultant, and one of the owners of the Elmsdale Animal Hospital