Pets

Sports to Keep Your Dog Active

Many of us enjoy walking with our dogs to get some exercise and fresh air. It not only benefits us and our overall health but our canine companions’ health as well. Exercise stimulates the mind of each species. For us, it frees our minds and lets us have a moment to take everything in stride. For dogs, the smells of the world outside their yard are exciting. Walking the dog can get a bit tedious though. Same path, same trail, same neighborhood, it becomes mundane, then we look for excuses to stay indoors – especially when it gets too hot or cold outside! But what if you could enjoy something that is not only fun but also competitive?

In the dog world, many sports exist, tailored to each dog’s specific talents, and that list seems to expand each year! They have sports for each lifestyle and fitness level. Some of these include:

Dock Diving – this is a sport that involves water, so it is perfect for summer. Many people already have dogs that have mastered the basics of this event during regular play sessions. In dock diving, the handler throws a toy into the water. The dog is then measured on the height and length of their jump when they dive after it. Many dog breeds, such as Labradors, excel in this sport.

Agility – arguably the most popular dog sport, agility is all about speed and athleticism. This includes the handler. There is a lot of running involved! In agility, dogs must complete an obstacle course under the guidance of their handler. It takes a lot of discipline and focus on the dog’s part and is best suited to obedient and high-energy dogs.

Lure Coursing – do you have a speed demon that chases everything in sight? Then this is a great sport for you and there is no running on your part! It all comes down to the dog and their natural drive to chase. Many breeds such as greyhounds and Ibizan hounds are masters of this sport however any breed with speed can excel. It involves a white flag placed on a motorized line. The dogs are judged on their speed. It’s a wonderful outlet for their need to chase without the potential of harming another animal!

Rally – if you have a focused obedient dog, this is great for them, no matter the age, breed, or size. This goes for people too! Rally is about the team of dog and handler working together to follow obedience prompts. These prompts are placed on signs that the owner must read then direct the dog to do. Your marks reflect your swiftness and correctness in obedience.

Nosework – do you have nothing but a hound dog? Are they crying all the time? Then this is a great sport for them! This appeals to a dog’s natural instincts and comes in many different forms. There is tracking, which mimics search-and-rescue. Nose or scent work requires the dog to find a scent and alert their owner. This one is an easy one to do at home by hiding hot dogs in boxes and rewarding your dog when they locate them. Finally, there is Barnhunt, which is a trial involving rats (humanely protected in carriers) hidden in hay bales. The dog must hunt the rats as their ancient ancestors did, tunneling and climbing to find them.

In all dog sports, any breed can compete, whether a mutt or a purebred! Blue ribbons aside, the main goal of these events is to bring joy to dogs and build the bond shared with their owners. If you’re interested in participating the best place to start is by taking an obedience class at your local dog training club. Below are a few nearby locations here in Little Rock. Having practiced some of these myself, I highly recommend it.

  • Little Rock Dog Training Club
  • Off Leash K9 Training
  • Conway Canine Companions
  • The Pine Hill Ranch Canine Center
Pets

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, a campaign started by the ASPCA in 2006 to celebrate protecting our animals from harm. 

During this month we need to learn how we as human beings can prevent cruelty and take action against it. Sometimes the laws are unclear and different between counties and cities, but there are Arkansas laws that encompass the entire state. You must learn your local and state laws regarding domestic animals and livestock so that you can know the steps to take to stop the abuse.

In Arkansas the following laws apply statewide:

(1) Cruelty to animals ARK. CODE ANN. § 5-62-103 

(2) Aggravated cruelty to dogs, cats, horses ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-104

Aggravated cruelty is the physical abuse or overworking of an animal – a malicious act that causes harm or unnecessary suffering. However, what is the definition of “cruelty” when it comes to the law? These are the following categories of cruelty to animals.

– Neglect – not providing proper food, water, or shelter. 

– Abandonment – such as dumping of animals or leaving them behind after moving.

– Leaving Pets in Hot or Cold Cars

– Dogfighting

– Animal Hoarding (certain cities have pet limits in place to prevent this)

There are also city-specific laws, for example, the City of Little Rock prohibits keeping your dog chained for extended periods.

So, what do you need to do if you witness animal cruelty? 

If you see a dog locked in a hot car or witness a person inflicting pain on an animal, you should call 9-1-1 so they can advise you, but other situations are less clear-cut. 

  1. Assess the situation and try to gather evidence such as photographs and videos. DON’T trespass or try to take animals from the property as this is illegal and could land you in trouble, but the evidence is crucial to investigations.
  2. Contact your local animal control. If you’re unable to find information for your area, contact the police. They will be able to direct you to who you need to contact. Local rescues may also be able to help by providing info and resources. 
  3. Help investigators, but don’t interfere. Though you can report cruelty anonymously, being willing to give testimony can help a cruelty case exponentially. 

If you witness cruelty report it and follow up if you don’t see results. Research your local laws and stand up for the creatures that don’t have voices.

Here are some resources to research your local laws:

Animal Law Resource Center

Animal Legal and Historical Center

Arkansas State Animal Control Association

Municode, Pulaski Co.

City of Little Rock Animal Services

If you are unsuccessful with your local organizations below are links you can also use to report animal cruelty and find more info about the steps you can take to stop it:

HSUS – Report Animal Cruelty

Animal Humane Society – Report Animal Cruelty

Please share any info you feel will help people learn their local laws. Do your city laws differ from others? The more we learn, the more we can do.

Pets

Cat Scratch Fever

Like a lot of cat owners my furniture aesthetic ranges from moderately maimed to utter annihilation. There is just something about a couch that gets a cat’s claws itching for destruction.

Here are some methods I’ve used in my attempts to keep the demolition at bay.

Step 1

The first step is to trim your cat’s nails. It’s not a fun task, but dull claws mean less damage to your home.

Step 2

The most important step in correcting this behavior it providing scratching surfaces for your cat. This allows them to scratch that natural itch to use their claws.  

So how do you get them to use a scratching post?

Cricket found the cat nip enticing – Teighlor C.

Place the scratching post in a prominent location. Though tempting to put the post where we like it best, cats use scent and scratch marks to communicate and they like their messages to be loud and proud.

Use catnip to lure your kitty over to where you’d like them to scratch. When your cat uses the surface reward them with play and treats!

That all being said my six cats have two scratching posts and a $200 cat tree and still attack my couch at every opportunity. So how do you deter them from your furniture and carpet while you train them to use a scratching post? Here are some methods I’ve tried with mixed success.

Deterrent Sprays

Not to be confused with squirting a cat with water, which doesn’t do anything but make your cat upset and your furniture wet. Deterrent Sprays come in many shapes and forms, from using scents cats find unpleasant to sprays specifically designed to train your cat. While having to reapply daily is a downside and the odors can be quite strong, sprays are affordable and can be found at most pet supply stores. (I can try to get an image of the spray mist, but worried about showing labels). 

Feliway or other Synthetic Cat Hormones

As a standalone Feliway is not a solution, but I included this one in the list because it has been successful in helping with various behavioral problems amongst my six. Synthetic hormones help to promote a calm environment making anxious cats feel more secure, which leads to less territorial marking in general.

Tape

A lot of professional behaviorists recommend this method and there are two kinds of tape suggested. Double-sided tape, which creates an unpleasant sticky surface that cats hate, and a thick tape like SmartyKat Scratch Not Tape. The problem with double-sided tape is that it’s unpleasantly sticky for everyone, not just the cats, and getting your arm hair or clothing caught in it is not pleasant – trust me. It’s also easy for cats to find cracks in your defenses and before you know you’ve covered your couch in so much tape it looks like it has a plastic slipcover from the 1950s. However, it was the most successful method for me. The one-sided tape only needs to be replaced every few months and the cats left the couch alone where it was taped.

Check out the links below for more information to help curb the clawing habit: 

https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-grooming-care-trimming-nails-claws-ask-a-vet

https://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=666

https://www.purrfectpost.com/train-your-cat-to-stop-scratching-your-couch-in-7-days-or-less/

https://www.purrfectpost.com/how-to-train-your-cat-or-kitten-to-use-a-scratching-post/