Here's the Straight Poop....

Are You Well Matched To Your Pet

Are you and your pet made for each other? Yes, according to 80% of pet owners who answered a new poll, believing that their star signs are well-matched to their pets’ signs.

The online survey, conducted by veterinary charity PDSA, revealed several startling variations between owners belonging to different star signs. For example, Librans answering the survey own an average of 3.4 pets each, compared with 2.1 pets per person among responders generally. And Leos - whose star sign is a lion – owned 1.8 cats on average, compared with just 0.5 dogs, whereas cat and dog ownership rates are very close among the population generally.

PDSA vets however believe that practical considerations, rather than astrological signs, form a more solid base for selecting a pet:

“Many people clearly feel they were destined to own their particular pet,” said PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon Elaine Pendlebury. “Our advice, however, is not to rely on the stars but to make sure you only have pets that are well suited to your circumstances and lifestyle.

“However much you may want a particular pet, the fact is that they can only be really healthy and happy in an environment that meets their welfare needs. Some types of dogs, for example, require up to two hours exercise every day. Some people cannot provide this, so may be better suited to a pet that requires less exercise, such as a guinea pig or rabbit.

“All pets need care, love and attention from an owner so it’s important to find out as much information as possible about a pet’s needs before getting one. Making an informed decision is much better for you and a pet rather than just acting on a whim.”

PDSA has devised a simple computer-based formula, ‘Your Right Pet’, to ensure the health and happiness of pets. The four-step ‘PETS’ formula helps prospective pet owners consider the main issues before taking on any companion animal. This is based on the key elements of Place, Exercise, Time and Spend. All need to be considered to ensure owners and their pets are well matched.

•Place – which type of pet is appropriate for where you live?

•Exercise – can you provide the type and amount of daily exercise required?

•Time – can you devote enough time to your pet?

•Spend – can you afford the lifetime expense of your preferred pet?

Elaine added:“‘Your Right Pet’ is a key part of our ‘Long Live Pets’ campaign, PDSA’s biggest ever pet health initiative, designed to ensure a healthy life for all pets. This tangible, easy-to-use computer tool reinforces our messages about choosing pets in a highly creative and engaging way.”

Always Screen Potential
Pet Adopters
By Judy Vorreuter -

Craigslist is the latest place bad pet owners are dumping their animals.

Newspaper or PennySaver classified ads are also risky unless the advertiser is very careful to screen people who respond to the ad.

One kind and responsible way to find a home for unwanted pets is with the help or advice of one of the many animal shelters or rescue groups, or via Any legitimate way to rehome a helpless pet does require patience (it may take awhile) and the use of an adoption questionnaire or at least the name, address, e-mail and phone number of the adopter or buyer. And these must be checked. A few other questions to ask the potential adopter: Where will this animal be kept? Will the pet be spayed or neutered if it is not already? What restrictions will be put on the children? Will the animal be allowed to run free? Will there be an annual vet visit and who is your vet? These questions can attempt to make sure the animal is going to a good, kind home.

Animals given away for free can, and unfortunately often do, meet gruesome fates. They can end up in the hands of a sicko whose aim is the torturing and killing of animals. Don’t think that people like this are easy to spot. They often bring children with them so people would be comfortable handing over their animal(s).

Then there are those “bunchers” who obtain animals illegally from random sources to sell to research facilities for profit, and who often acquire animals by answering “free to good home” ads. Small animals advertised as “free to good home” are sometimes acquired by individuals who intend to use them as bait in training other animals to fight. Gerbils, rabbits, hamsters and young kittens are often acquired to be used as snake food.

Animal dealers (again, not easy to identify) who may come to your home are the source for about half of the animals scientists require for experimentation.

Rescue groups are starting to monitor Craigslist, which allows people in 450 cities to post classified advertisements for merchandise and jobs, as they’ve been noticing ads for “free” dogs, often purebreds. Some of these animals turn out to be old or sick.

If people monitoring the site even suspect you are selling, they will flag your ad and it will be removed without question. One can, however, put a small rehoming fee in the ad, but the same screening applies to those who answer the ad as described above. Give some thought to the fact that dog fighters can afford a dog advertised for anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars and can also afford to buy bait dogs and other animals of all kinds and sizes.

In 2005, nearly two dozen Bay Area shelters and pet rescue groups asked the Craigslist online bulletin board to ban postings that advertise certain animals for sale, saying casual transactions encourage backyard breeding and irresponsible adoptions.

Animal advocates led by the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were monitoring Craigslist postings for several months. In one month they found at least 183 unneutered pit bull puppies for sale. Pit bulls are often used by drug dealers as well as dog fighters.

They believe Craigslist’s free classified section is fertile ground for uncertified breeders who are trying to sell pit bull puppies for anywhere from $50 to $2,000 with no accountability for how they’ve bred the dogs or who they sell the pups to.

Backyard breeding can be tragic for dogs and humans. People who end up with difficult dogs often abandon them or drop them off at the shelter, where they may be euthanized.

Many area shelters have more pit bulls than other breeds. In Berkeley, they account for as much as 90 percent of the shelter population.

Craigslist does ban sales or other transactions involving illegal animals, such as endangered species. eBay, a more tightly regulated online marketplace, does not allow animal sales on its site.

Anyone who wants to have an effect on these ads can go to Craigslist in their area or any other area and flag ads that don’t seem right.

Judy Vorreuter is the founder and director of Animal Advocates of the Finger Lakes. Contact her at

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Dog Training Tips
for the Beginner
David Ward -

Owning a dog can bring much fulfilment to your life, however if you’re unlucky you may be faced with a burden rather than a companion who is pleasant to be around.

One of the best ways of having a fun, loving and obedient dog is to train the dog (preferably when they’re still a pup).

Now training your dog isn’t as difficult as it may sound, it’s quite easy really. Dog training just requires you to be patient, not only with time, but also with the dog.

There are many areas of dog training but today we are going to be discussing the basics. However, keep in mind the basics are probably the most important in the grand scheme of things, so listen up.

Good Dog
Before going into specific training tips, you need to work on a few behavioural issues, which will make training your dog more pleasant and more likely to work.

--Make training as fun as possible for both you and your dog

--Never use any form of physical contact

--Reward your dog with treats and/or praise when appropriate

--Tell your dog off when he/she does something wrong. Raise your voice and say either no or bad dog

--Be consistent with your demands

--Be confident with your demands

--Be patient, you may not see results for several weeks

Safe Dog
With all the news reports of dog attacks over the years, it would definitely be devastating if your own dog were responsible for such behaviour. Some instances of attacks are inadvertently caused by the person who got attacked, however most cases occur due to the dog being unfriendly in nature. Please take note of the following advice so you can minimise the chance of your dog ever attacking someone:

--Always keep your dog on a leash when out in public

--Never harass or let others harass your dog

--Don’t wrestle or play fight with your dog

Train your dog in as many ways possible, so it develops into an obedient dog who knows its place with humans.

Sit Dog
Teaching your dog to sit on command is one of the most basic forms of training you can attempt. It’s not the easiest trick to teach your dog if you don’t know what you’re doing, but with the use of patience, praise and treats, you will have your dog sitting its rear end in no time.

The following steps will teach your dog how to sit:

--Stand in front of your dog

--Hold one of your dog’s favourite treats in your hand

--Place the treat near your dog’s nose

--Say the word sit

--Without holding the treat too high, place the treat directly above your dog’s head

--To reach the treat your dog should sit down

--Praise him saying excitedly good dog, pat him/her and give it the treat.

Keep repeating the above steps until your dog doesn’t require a treat to sit. To achieve this, each time you repeat the sit process, use smaller pieces of the treat.

Remember being a responsible dog owner will not only help your dog but also help your family life. A dog may be a man’s best friend, but that may not be the case if that dog hasn’t been trained. Please look into training your dog to get the best out of each other.

David Ward is an author who writes articles on many topics. For further information on dog training visit: http://www. mycaninepal. com/ace. pl/veterinary-tips-cleveland. html

Dog Tips: Train Your
Children How to Handle Dogs

Being a responsible dog owner, it is a serious concern to know about getting a new dog with small children around. In my previous post, we’ve learned how to handle dogs and children. As an adult, we must understand that dogs and children must never be left unattended. Unless you want disaster, you must never assume that a child knows how to handle a dog responsibly. Accidents may happen so always keep an eye on your kids and your dogs.

Just as a puppy needs to be trained when it joins the family so are the children need to learn how to handle them. You must teach your kids the following:

•To respect the dog from the beginning. A puppy is a living thing, and not a toy you can do what you want with; handle the dog calmly; learn to understand the dog’s language; what is it saying when it growls or wags its tail?

•A child must also learn to recognize when a dog is frightened; never to hit or pester a dog; if a dog feels pain, it will bite; how to cuddle the dog; to leave the dog in peace when it’s asleep or in its basket; not to call commands or to call the dog’s name when it’s not appropriate; to let the dog come to it, rather than walking towards the dog; never to run up behind a dog; never to run towards a strange dog to hug it or give it something to eat. A dog may perceive a child running towards it as a threat, so approach it calmly. Always ask the owner first if your child can hug the dog or give it a treat.

Children are always proud of their newest acquisition. Before you know it, all their friends have been invited to come around and admire their puppy on the first day. However understandable their enthusiasm is, you must temper it. Prepare the child properly for the arrival of its new housemate, and make it clear that the new member of the family is of flesh and blood, and not a cuddly toy. It’s vital for the puppy to get the chance to get to know its own family first, so wait a few days with all those visitors. Children can be wild and agile, and a puppy can easily get frightened. Teach children to behave as calmly as possible with a puppy. Even if patience is not always a strongly developed feature of a child’s nature, they must use it with their puppy. They have to learn that the puppy needs to learn too. Hitting and shouting are out of the question (not only for the children!).

Somewhat older children can help to feed and care for a dog. An adult must accompany this, as a child is not in a position to take care of bringing up a dog alone. You can add tasks, as the child gets older. Of course, children will want to flaunt their new dog, but a word of warning is due here: a child must be mentally and physically stronger than a dog before it can take it out without an adult!

Adults that are afraid of dogs often transfer their fear to their children. They will then hide screeching behind their mother or father, and then be consoled for the fact that they’re afraid of that awful beast. It is better, though, for parents to suppress their own fear and teach their children how to approach a (strange) dog. This also helps safeguard the child. A child running away from a dog shrieking in fear can make a dog aggressive or awake its hunting instincts, but if a child behaves normally and calmly (hands always held low!) nothing will normally happen.

I am not an expert when it comes to this matter, just using my experiences and lots of common sense. I will gladly appreciate any comments and suggestions so we can all have a wonderful family with dogs and children around.

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The Essential 5 Dog
Behaviour Training Tips
Steven James -

Hello fellow dog trainers and people alike. Now, a lot of people have contacted me recently to ask me to cut down my detailed articles on dog training and to just give the main key points that they need to get going with dog behaviour training in a relatively quick period of time. It should still be noted that successful dog behaviour training requires some time and patience at the best of times, but all the same you should find the following definitve list useful, it contains the top 5 tips to any successful dog training that you ideally need for maximum success. Please take some time to read this article and you should find it makes a huge difference to your dog behaviour training success. Here we go:1. Get your dog’s attention

Before you can start training your dog you first need to get its attention, this may sound like teaching grandma to suck eggs to you but you would be surprised how many people overlook this and just carry on trying to train a dog who isn’t really even paying attention to them in the first place! There are some easy ways to get your dogs attention such as simply talking to him and offering him a small treat in reward for his attention – dogs soon get to know and catch on quickly to this and you will notice this working very quickly. 2. Give praise

Time and time again it is the simplest and most obvious things that people neglect to do when training their dog, and surprisingly one of the most common (and most essential of the lot) is to give your dog praise when he does something right,as this helps to complete his association between your voice pattern and whether he has done good or bad. Whenever your dog obeys you and does something correct, make sure you give him plenty of praise and you will soon notice a change in his behaviour, even over just a short period of time, it’s that effective!3. Reprimanding

When it comes to successful and effective dog behaviour training, giving a stern reprimand is just as important as offering plenty of praise as both are required to complete your dog’s association between your tone of voice and his behaviour. People come to me all the time with the issue that they just feel too horrible when they tell their dog off and they shy away from it. This is not good as if a dog is not told when he has done something wrong, then he will continue to do it knowing no different. You need to reprimand when needed to make all this work. Now, just to clear something up that is not always understood so well, to reprimand does not mean hitting your dog! This is totally wrong and will not help your dog behaviour training at all. Instead. , any time your dog is engaging in bad behavior, use the opportunity to teach him the ’stop!’ or ‘no!’ command. Using the ’stay!’ command can also be effective in these situations and is good to use. 4. Use the right dog behavoiur training tools

There is no good trying to train your dog if you don’t have the necessary tools and supplies to do the job, you wouldn’t really try to train a dog to obey your ’sit’ commands without taking him out on a lead for a while would you? No, of course you wouldn’t and it’s another key factor in any successful dog behaviour training program. If you have a well behaved dog, then a 6 ft lead and a regular collar will easily suffice and will do the job nicely. However if you have a dog that is slightly more uncontrollable and unpredictable, then you should use a special training collar. You also need to make sure the collar is the right size (an uncomfortable dog is much less likely to play ball!) which you can do by measuring the dogs’ neck and adding about 2 inches, this should give a pretty good estimate of which collar you need to buy for your dog. 5. Do a little dog behaviour training every day

Don’t rush dog training. Trying to fill a dog’s head with too much information will more than likely end up working against you just in the same way a child would trying to learn the entirety of a subject in just one lesson, it doesn’t work. Teach your dog one command at a time and don’t move on until he gets it, keep at it and persistence will pay off.

Well there we go, I have listed the 5 most important and most essential tips you will probably ever learn when it comes to successful dog behaviour training. So please take them on board and make sure they are a firm part of your dog behaviour training program today and you will see dramatic improvement in your dog’s behaviour and how quickly your dog’s behaviour training improves. Please check back soon as I post regular dog training updates and articles that should really make a difference to you and your dog, or you can easily subscribe to my RSS feed at: dog behaviour training RSS feed.

Steven James is an experienced dog trainer who has set up a dog behaviour training website to offer free tips, techniques and methods to quickly and easily train your dog.

Dear Abby What to Do
With Bag of Dog Excrement?

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I were walking our terriers one evening when one had to answer nature’s call. Being responsible dog owners, I picked up the “deposit” with a bag we carry for such occasions.

It was garbage pickup day and the neighbors’ trash cans were out at the curb, so at the next house I placed the bag in the trash can. My wife, family and co-workers all think this was not appropriate — that I should have carried it home and disposed of it in our trash can.

Abby, we were 15 minutes from home, but given the choice, I would rather not carry that bag and figured a garbage bin is a garbage bin. I’ll abide by your answer and admit I was wrong if you say so. — Pooped Out in North Carolina

DEAR P.O.: As long as the bag was securely sealed, I don’t think adding it to someone’s trash bin was a social no-no. But I do have one suggestion: Keep your water cooler conversation at a higher level and you’ll get less poop from your co-workers. Your wife is another story.

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Advice on Dealing With
Extra Toes on a Cat

Q: My new kitten has six toes on each front paw and five on each back paw. Is this normal, and what should I do about it, if anything?

- Ryan Foy,

A: Cats with the genetic trait for extra toes are called polydactyl. Dogs more rarely have extra toes.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Fla., is famous for its population of polydactyl cats.

The extra toes are not functional and can cause some problems. Since the cat cannot extend its claws to use them on a scratching post, they can grow around and into the pad of the toe. Since your cat is still a kitten, I would advise you to have your vet remove the extra toes when you are having it spayed or neutered to prevent problems later on.

Q: I just got a 12-week-old miniature pinscher, and I am having such a hard time house-training him. We keep him in a crate when we are not watching him, but when we take him out to potty, he just runs around and plays. When we bring him back in the house, he goes as soon as we put him on the floor or even if he is back in his cage. We scold him every time he does this, but nothing seems to work.

- Denise Carman, Ridge

A: House-training is a combination of patience, timing and luck. There are two behaviors hard-wired in a dog's brain - always go to the bathroom in the same place, and don't go in the bed where you sleep. However, this sometimes takes a few weeks to kick in - especially in small breeds. This is where patience is important.

Never scold a puppy for a toilet accident. He or she has no idea what in the world you are yelling about. You may as well chastise the dog for blinking.

It helps to divide the crate so that it is very small - just big enough for the puppy to lay down in. This helps to reinforce the instinct of not soiling where he or she sleeps, although some puppies may still soil such a small cage.

For such puppies, the best bedding is a layer of shredded paper. That way, the puppy will stay clean in case of an accident. Once the puppy gets older and has self control, you can replace the paper with a bed or blanket. When you think the puppy has to "go," open the cage, lift the puppy out, attach the leash and collar and take the dog outside to the one spot in the yard or front of your building where you want the puppy to go for the rest of its life. Keep the puppy in that spot for 10 minutes or so and give a simple command to hurry up and go. If the pup does not go after 10 minutes, bring him back in the house.

Now this is where the timing comes in. Put the pup back in the crate, then in 5 or 10 minutes take the dog back out to the spot outside. The idea is to get the pup to that spot before he is forced to soil the cage. Do not put him on the floor of your house if he has not eliminated outside. If he never gets the opportunity to soil on your floor, he will never think this is an option available to him. The luck part of all this is that, hopefully, the patience and timing will combine so the puppy only gets to "go" outside. None of this can happen unless you and everyone else in the family is consistent in all this.

Q: I found some fish food in my closet that is about 5 years old. Can I still use this for my fish?- Lawrence Mineo, Freeport

A: As long as the food is still dry and has not clumped together and has no mold or fungus growing in it, then I am sure it would not hurt your fish. Most likely, it has lost a lot of its nutritional quality, though. Fish flakes are pretty inexpensive. I would just throw them away and buy fresh.

Saltwater Aquarium Plants...
Here's What They're About...

Saltwater aquarium plants add color and interest to your marine tanks and form part of any well thought out marine tank. But that’s not all they do. Macroalgae and marine plants will also make the ecosystem in your tank healthier. Macroalgae are particularly beneficial as they provide a natural form of filtration in the saltwater tank.

Saltwater aquarium plants take in nutrients from the water in order to carry out their biological functions and growth. This action reduces the accumulation of toxic nitrates and phosphates and other impurities in the water. When you use plants in your marine tank the idea is to reproduce your fish and other organism’s natural habitat. A tank that contains saltwater aquarium plants is likely to be a healthy one.

Here are some examples of saltwater aquarium plants that you can choose for your marine tank:

Halimeda or cactus algae are hardy saltwater aquarium plants and won’t be fed on vigorously by most marine fish. It is also non-invasive so it won’t damage nearby corals or invertebrates. It does need good light to grow in however as well as enough calcium for growth. Halimeda are sensitive to high nitrate and phosphate levels and don’t like to be pruned.

Penicillus or “shaving brush” are saltwater aquarium plants that do a great job at absorbing excess nutrients like nitrates and phosphates from the water. They are usually not fed on by most fish and invertebrates except sea urchins. Plant the pencillus in the substrate and make sure the area is well-lit. If you add an iron supplement and trace elements regularly your pencillus should thrive. Pencillus has a hard calcium carbonate skeleton like halimeda an coralline algae and will do well across a range of conditions.

What about macroalgae? Macroalgae are saltwater aquarium plants that come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. They are to be found in a range of colors – red, green, brown and blue. These saltwater aquarium plants are able to photosynthesize. This means they use a pigment called chlorophyll to make their own food for growth and other functions.

In general these saltwater aquarium plants get most of the nutrients they need from the water in the marine tank. These include nitrates and phosphates. This makes them good allies in keeping your tank clean. You will need moderate to strong light for the growth of macroalgae. The way to avoid macroalgae growing out of control is to control the environment in which it lives. This means the water chemistry and amount of available light.

So are there ‘bad’ saltwater aquarium plants? Certain kinds of algae can become problematic in a marine tank.

Bubble algae is one of the most common pest saltwater aquarium plants. Bubble algae forms green bubbles on any hard surface, for example live rock. It can occur in masses of bubbles or single or in small groups of big bubbles. The bubbles might be smooth or rough. Bubble algae look nice, BUT they aren’t!

These saltwater aquarium plants grow fast and can take over your tank. Once you discover it the best thing to do is remove it and keep it under control. It can damage other plant species. You can usually remove it by hand. When you do, try not to break the bubbles as this might cause it to spread.

You can try to introduce certain types of fish like the Sohal Tang or Red Sea/Indian Ocean Sailfin Tang (Acanthurus sohal) to eat bubble algae. The best means of control, however, seems to be the “Emerald Crab". These crabs won’t damage your corals but will eat the bubble algae. It is a good idea to learn about other such interactions between saltwater aquarium plants and herbivores as they might save you time and trouble in the future.

The emerald crabs are a great idea for the reef aquarium where they won’t fight with other inhabitants. There are even coral farmers who use emerald crabs to control algae around their hard corals! So you can protect your saltwater aquarium plants by stocking some of these little helpers.

So what’s your next step? Now that you know a little bit about the good and the bad kinds of saltwater aquarium plants, it’s your job to make sure you learn more. Your local aquarist will be able to tell you more about which saltwater aquarium plants are most suitable for your tank, level of expertise and the other species you want to stock.

You can also do more research on the Word Wide Web, visit your local library or buy books on the subject. Don’t ever buy your saltwater aquarium plants on a whim because you like the way they look. Always make sure you know as much about their nutrient, environment and lighting needs as possible. That way you can avoid making mistakes that cost time and money or even threaten the health of your tank in the long term.

Do choose saltwater aquarium plants that you find attractive as this is part and parcel of keeping a marine tank but never let your desires cloud your common sense. Once you have all you plants set up you will be able to enjoy the animal plant interactions that are so much a part of the marine ecosystem. The purpose of any aquarium is to provide both the fish and you with hours of pleasure and enjoyment. A healthy tank is a happy tank so do take the time to do your research.

Saltwater aquarium plants are very beautiful to look at and interesting to grow so make sure that you take the time to enjoy the plants in your tank. Find out if it is possible to propagate any of these plants from, how to increase or decrease their growth and what nutrients they need to stay healthy. Never share plants between aquariums unless you know they are 100% disease free and always put the health of your tank at the top of your list of priorities! Have fun and enjoy your saltwater aquarium plants!

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