Traveling can be exhausting when you’re on your own, but traveling with a cat can be a bit more stressful. But sometimes you need—or want—to fly with your furry friend! Here’s how to get to your destination, stress-free.
General Rules for Flying with Cats
Each airline is different when it comes to pet requirements, so planning ahead is the first step to reducing stress when flying with a cat. These are some general rules of flying with pets:
- Many airlines do not allow pets if you are making a connection.
- Most airlines restrict your flights to 12 hours or less if you are bringing a cat.
- Some airlines don’t allow you to fly internationally.
- Snub-nosed cats, such as the Persian, are generally not allowed to fly.
- Kittens should be about 8 to 12 weeks old, but some airlines ask that they be older.
- Each airline has restrictions on kennel size.
- You may be allowed to bring two cats in one carrier as carry-on luggage.
- Some destinations bar pets or have very specific guidelines about bringing them in. Check with your destination to ensure everything is in order before you fly.
Checking In with Your Airline
Although airlines all have the same job, they don’t all have the same rules, especially when it comes to pets. If you’re looking to fly with your cat, carefully review all airline pet policies before purchasing tickets. This list provides links to the major airline companies in the United States and their individual pet policies:
It’s always important to notify the airline as soon as you know you’ll be traveling with your cat. Many planes restrict the total number of animals that can fly on a single flight, so you want to book your spot before the flight fills up. Fees and documentation may be required by the airline.
If your flight isn’t on one of the airlines above, you can find their pet policies by Googling the name of the company along with the phrase “pet policies.” If you can’t locate the information online, call their customer service directly.
What to Bring on a Flight with Your Cat
Have these on hand when you’re getting ready to check in:
Documentation and Vet Records
It’s always a good idea to have your cat’s vet records when you travel with him, especially a record of his rabies vaccination. In some cases, this documentation is required by the airline or your final destination. It may also come in handy if your cat has a medical emergency during your trip.
A proper kennel is absolutely required to bring your cat with you on a trip. In addition to being properly ventilated, the kennel must meet the size requirements of the airline and allow your cat to move comfortably inside it. If you’re planning on bringing your feline friend as carry-on luggage, his carrier has to be able to fit under the seat in front of you.
Each airline’s kennel size requirements are different, so it’s important to review its pet policy to determine what you need. In the case of Delta and JetBlue, you can buy properly sized kennels straight from the airline.
In addition to size restrictions, there may also be weight restrictions. For cats, you won’t run into this issue often, but it’s good to double-check. If you have a particularly heavy cat, you may have trouble with American Airlines, which requires the kennel and pet to weigh less than 20 pounds.
To determine kennel size, first consider if you will be bringing your cat as carry-on or checking him.
Food, Water, and Treats
It’s likely your cat will get hungry on his trip, so food, water, and treats are a must. Pack enough for both before your flight and when you land.
Vet Tip: Cats should be fed within four hours of check-in, but not within four hours of take-off to help avoid kennel accidents.
Even if you followed the food and water rule, you may run into an accident with your cat mid-flight. If he happens to go to the bathroom or throw up in his kennel, having paper towels on hand will allow you to clean it up right away.
Lowering Your Cat’s Stress
Cats can be naturally anxious and skittish, so flying can be a bit much for them. Preparation can help ease their fears, so take these important steps before you get in the air.
Try to Take Your Cat Onboard as Carry-On
In most cases, as long as you book your cat’s spot early enough, you should have no problem bringing him as carry-on luggage. This allows him to be by your feet for the duration of the flight. This method of flying is less stressful on cats than flying cargo.
Gather the Items You and Your Cat Need
If your cat is wary of his kennel, take it out a few days before take-off, so he has a chance to become more accustomed to it. Keep the door open, and place treats inside to make it a little more enticing.
Gather your documentation, your cat’s ticket, his food, and other supplies, so you’re not scrambling with them and a potentially frightened cat when it’s time to head out the door.
Visit the Vet
It’s always a good idea for a cat to get a checkup well before his flight. While you may want to fly with your feline, it’s important to know when it’s not a good idea. For severely anxious kitties, the flight may be too much, causing stress-related reactions, including vomiting. Cats with health issues or trouble breathing should also stay on the ground. Your vet can make a final recommendation.
Some airlines and destinations also require recent vet records.
The first step to flying stress-free with your cat is preparation. Never skip a visit to the vet’s office. Your veterinarian can clear your cat to fly while also giving you documents that may be required by the airline or your final destination.
If your cat needs to stay home, consider boarding him in a comfortable, reliable facility or leaving him with a family member.
Ready to make an appointment for a pre-flight checkup? Call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.
Your cat licking himself is a normal part of grooming, but if he’s constantly cleaning or is licking the same spot over and over, it could point to a bigger problem. Find out why this behavior is so bad for your cat and how you can help him.
Why Excessive Licking Is Bad for Your Cat
Grooming is an absolutely normal behavior for a cat, and it’s a must for his overall health. If he crosses over into excessive grooming, it could become a serious issue for him, causing hair loss or skin irritation, and making him more susceptible to injuries.
The abnormal behavior almost always points to another, underlying issue, which can sometimes be serious. It’s important to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible to help your cat overcome his licking obsession.
There are several reasons a cat may excessively lick his fur or skin. Some are easier to treat than others, but a vet can diagnose the underlying problem.
Cause #1: Fleas
Fleas and other parasites are no fun for your furry friend and can be tough to get rid of if allowed to get out of control. One sign your cat may have fleas is excessive or frantic licking because these parasites can cause itchiness, swollen spots, and other irritations from their bites.
There are other signs of a flea infestation. Here’s what you should be on the lookout for:
- Flea dirt – This is actually flea poop. You can find it by looking for brown or black flakes in your cat’s fur or on spots where he spends time laying or sitting.
- Flea eggs – They look like white circles, and, just like flea dirt, you can find them in the fur or on the floor.
- Sneezing – Some cats are allergic to flea saliva!
- Constant scratching
- Restlessness or lethargy
- Hair loss
- Small black or red insects on your cat – These are the fleas!
How to Help Your Cat
You can help control your cat’s obsessive licking due to fleas by controlling the fleas themselves. Allowing a flea infestation to continue can result in even more issues for your cat, such as worms or anemia. It’s important to get control of the parasites as quickly as you discover them.
If you notice any of the signs above, use a flea comb on your cat. Running it through his fur can help you find flea eggs, flea dirt, and even the fleas themselves, so you can confirm the problem.
If you discover there are fleas, there are plenty of options regarding medication and relief for your pet. Some topical medicines will provide month long relief and prevention, while others may be shorter and only work for 24 hours. There are also soaps and other products you can use to prevent fleas from living on your cat or in your home. Talk to your veterinarian about the best options.
Cause #2: Stress or a Compulsive Personality
Some cats require more exercise than others. Other cats become anxious easily. Stress, boredom, and compulsiveness can all result in excessive licking for your kitty. Causes of stress or anxiety include:
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of interaction
- Changes in the environment – Such as a move or a new baby
How to Help Your Cat
When the underlying cause of excessive grooming is stress, boredom, or a compulsive personality, the remedy depends on the exact issue. If he’s bored and licking (psychogenic alopecia):
- Extend playtime
- Purchase new toys
- Add a cat tree to the window
- Get puzzle toys that keep him entertained and rewarded with treats
If your cat is home alone most of the time, you may also want to consider adding another pet to the family. Loneliness can result in boredom and compulsive behaviors. Before you do, weigh the situation carefully, and make sure a new pet is the right solution for your whole family and your current cat. A new family member could cause the stress to get worse.
To ease stress, make sure your cat is comfortable and loved. If there are changes occurring, like a move or a new baby, calm your cat with treats. There are also calming products available, like special treats and scents, that can help a cat that’s feeling stress or dealing with changes at home. Your vet can direct you to their recommendations.
Cause #3: Environmental or Food Allergies
Just like people, cats can have allergies! Their skin can get itchy, resulting in obsessive licking. Your cat could be allergic to something in his diet or something within the home. Common allergens are:
- Prescriptions medications
- Cleaning products
How to Help Your Cat
First, to stop your cat’s excessive licking from allergies, you need to find the root cause. If food is the suspect, cut that food out of his diet for six weeks. It may take some trial and error to find the culprit. Ask your veterinarian for advice on how to approach your cat’s new diet.
Some cats are affected by their environments. Cleaning your home regularly (with tolerable cleaning products), vacuuming, dusting, and changing your HVAC’s air filter can help.
Cause #4: An Underlying Health Problem
Excessive licking can point to a number of other health problems, from dry skin to pain. For example, cold weather in winter can result in dry, irritated skin (just like for people!), or the area may be causing your cat some discomfort from another health issue, like cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).
How to Help Your Cat
If the cause of your cat’s licking isn’t obvious, like fleas, take him to a vet. Health issues like cystitis can be life-threatening if not treated, while other problems—like wounds—can become worse without medication.
Generally, if your cat is licking himself excessively, it’s a good idea to bring him to your vet. Your veterinarian can talk to you about your cat’s behaviors and help you pinpoint the exact cause of the issue. They may recommend behavior changes or medication, like steroids, antibiotics, topical solutions, or antihistamines, to help control the discomfort. No matter the cause, seeing a veterinarian could finally help your cat find relief from the constant itchiness.
If your cat is displaying symptoms like excessive licking, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to rule out any serious causes. You can get to the bottom of this compulsive behavior by visiting Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX. Give us a call at 281-593-7387 to schedule an appointment!
One of the most commonly asked questions by cat owners is how to stop their cat from scratching the furniture. It’s a frustrating side effect of the wonderful experience that is cat ownership! Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep your cat from scratching your furniture. Read on to learn more.
Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?
To solve the problem, it helps to know why it happens. Here are four of the main reasons cats scratch furniture:
1. She wants to stretch.
Scratching allows your cat to stretch her entire body, from toe to toe. It also gives her the chance to flex her feet.
2. She’s maintaining her claws.
Claw health is essential to your kitty’s overall health. Overgrown claws can embed themselves in her paws. Scratching allows your cat to get rid of the dead outer layer of nail.
3. It’s a stress reliever.
Just like playtime, scratching allows your cat to work off excess energy.
4. She’s marking her territory.
Scent glands can be found in your cat’s paws, and the act of scratching helps her mark her territory around the house. If you have several cats, it’s a way of communicating, but even one-cat homes tend to find this behavior.
How to Prevent Your Cat from Scratching Your Furniture
There are several ways to keep your feline friend from her destructive scratching:
1. Introduce Cat-Scratch Posts and Toys
If your cat doesn’t currently have any cat scratch posts or toys, she will naturally be attracted to your furniture! It’s important to give her her own space for scratching, or she will quickly turn on your couch for the reasons above. Even if you use the other tips in this list, this one is a must.
Scratch posts and trees are wonderful solutions and can provide your cat with extra enrichment too, like dangling toys and cozy places to sleep. Another option is a cardboard box specifically designed to be a scratching tool. It can be placed on the floor or hung from a doorknob.
Placement absolutely matters when it comes to introducing cat-scratch toys, especially if your furry friend has never tried them. Try adding them in front of her favorite furniture spots, so she associates the new items with scratching. Don’t hide them away. If your cat scratches to mark her territory, she’ll want to scratch something that’s in the middle of it all.
If your cat seems especially wary of the new household addition, encourage her to use it by putting cat nip on the post or toy. But be patient: It may take time for your cat to begin using the cat post or toys. Consider rewarding her with treats when she does use the correct item, rather than your couch or chair.
2. Use Products like FELISCRATCH
One item we recommend at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital is FELISCRATCH by FELIWAY®. Scratching posts, as recommended above, can be extremely helpful to redirect scratching, but some cats are a bit reluctant to use them.
FELISCRATCH works by encouraging your cat to scratch in the correct places and will help her understand exactly what the scratching post is for. Application is simple, making this a very easy way to help keep your pet away from your expensive furniture. If you’re having trouble getting your cat to use the scratching post, talk to us about FELISCRATCH.
3. Deter Your Cat with Tape or Aluminum Foil
Cats tend not to be fans of tape and aluminum foil. If you’re working on getting your cat to stop scratching the furniture, enlist the help of one of these household items!
Place double-sided tape or tin foil on your cat’s favorite area. She will not enjoy the sticky feeling or the texture and may start to avoid the area.
4. Protect Your Furniture
Consider covering the tempting furniture with sheets you don’t mind getting hairy or ripped while your cat learns to use a scratching post. Tucking the sheets in tightly to prevent your cat from getting under them and scratching away anyway.
5. Spray the Surfaces
Just like tape and aluminum foil, cats turn their noses up at some scents. Using a scratch-deterring spray can help keep her clear of her favorite upholstery spots. Always use a cat-friendly spray, as some sprays and scents can be harmful to your pets.
6. Trim Your Cat’s Nails
Trimming your cat’s nails can help reduce her need to work off the dead outer layer of her claws. Using the right tools (Never use human nail clippers!), you can trim off the sharp end of her claws every week or every two weeks.
Getting your cat to stop scratching your furniture is a process; it won’t happen overnight. Declawing your furry friend may seem like a quick and easy solution to your furniture-scratching problem, this procedure is actually detrimental to your pet. The process involves amputating her digits to their first joint, which is comparable to cutting off your fingers at the last knuckle. This procedure has the risk of complications during and after and could even change your cat’s behavior and habits.
Thankfully, there are many effective and humane methods to stop your cat from scratching! The first step is always to introduce a cat-scratching post or toys and encourage her to use it. Combined with other tricks, such as double-sided tape, trimming her nails, and scratch deterrents, you can work towards getting your cat off her couch-scratching addiction.
If your cat’s nails need a good trim, our professional groomers can help! Call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387 to make an appointment. We can trim your companion’s nails, make sure she’s in good health, and offer suggestions for cat-scratching solutions.
If your dog barks at the mailman or even a falling leaf outside, she no doubt barks at the door every time she hears a knock or the doorbell rings. The upcoming holidays bring trick-or-treaters, Thanksgiving guests, and New Year’s Eve party-goers—and lots of barking.
Good news: You have time to work on breaking your pup’s noisy habit!
Why Do Dogs Bark at the Door?
There are two common reasons dogs bark at the door:
- They’re scared.
- They’re excited.
The right way for you to correct your dog’s behavior depends on her reason for barking, so first you have to recognize it.
A Scared Dog
If your pup is scared of a knock at the door or the doorbell, common signs are:
- Tucking her tail between her legs
- Ears down
- Lowering her head
It’s common for dogs to be afraid of the doorbell ring as it can be painful for sensitive ears, and sudden loud noises can be startling.
An Excited Dog
If your dog is excited, you might see her:
- Pacing in anticipation
- Full-body tail wagging
3 Ways to Stop Your Dog from Barking at the Door
There are several ways to go about stopping your dog from barking at the door. You can try one or a combination, but it’s important to remain consistent and not give up after a few attempts. Breaking her of her habit takes patience and persistence.
1. Ignore Her
While your first reaction when your dog barks may be to tell her to be quiet or yell at her for misbehaving, remain silent instead. Yelling can make your pup’s barking worse as it adds on to the noise she’s already responding to. Giving your dog any kind of attention could also encourage her behavior.
If silence is your tactic, act like she doesn’t exist when she starts barking. Don’t look at her, touch her, talk to her, or allow any other interaction to happen between her and you or anyone else. Only give your barking dog attention once she has quieted, or consider giving her a treat when she has completely stopped barking to encourage the silence.
2. Train Your Dog to Understand New Commands
Just like your pup learned “sit” and “stay,” two commands you may want to teach her are:
Start with speak. When your pup performs it correctly, give her a treat.
Once you’re confident she has learned “speak,” it’s time to start on the quiet command. Tell your dog to speak. When she does, say, “Quiet.” As soon as she stops “speaking” (making noise or barking), she’s earned a treat! Continue this process until she understands both commands as well as “sit” and “stay.”
3. Exercise Her
Dogs can tend to bark more if they are full of energy. Lots of exercise can keep their energy levels low at home and keep them from becoming bored. When your dog is tired, the doorbell or a stranger at the door may not seem as interesting as it once did.
Make sure you’re playing with and walking your dog enough. Do some research on her breed to understand if she needs more physical and/or mental exercise to stay happy and healthy.
Pro Tip: Training sessions don’t have to wait for someone random to come to your door. Ask friends or family members to help out! Have them ring the doorbell or knock on the door at different times of the day that you know about but your pup doesn’t. These give you the opportunity to practice her training.
Extra Help with a Barking Dog During the Holidays
During the holidays, like Halloween and Thanksgiving, traffic to your front door is likely to increase. This can be frustrating if your dog barks every time someone shows up. Even if she’s trained, this time of year can be overwhelming.
If your dog isn’t quite trained with the tricks above, consider doing these things to prepare for knocks at the door:
Set Up a Quiet Room
For Halloween in particular—when strangers come to your door one after the next—create a quiet room for your dog away from the front of the house. Set up her bed, crate, and a radio or TV—if she likes that low hum of noise.
Have Someone to Stay with Your Dog
While a quiet room can be great, some dogs may not take well to staying alone in a room all evening. You may want to have someone, like a dog sitter, stay in the room with them.
A dog that barks at the door is stressful for you and for the dog as well! Approaching your dog’s behavior with understanding and proper training can help her relax and learn to quiet down even when guests arrive. Starting as early as possible in your dog’s life and ahead of the holidays, in particular, can make everyone’s experience more relaxed.
If you recently brought home a new puppy or have a dog who has issues like separation anxiety or aggression that causes them to bark at the door, come see us for behavior counseling. Call 281-693-7387 to schedule an appointment!
Want to take a trip with your dog this year? If you’re planning on flying, you may be wondering how you can bring him along, without all the stress. It can be done! But preparation is key.
Here’s a quick outline on how to fly with a dog, so you and he have the best time possible!
1. Know Your Airline’s Rules and Regulations
Bringing your dog on vacation may seem like a dream come true, but it’s important to plan ahead and know what to expect before you get to the airport. Each airline has its own rules about flying with dogs, but, in general, you should know:
- Dogs are not always allowed on flights with connections.
- Pets are usually only permitted on flights of 12 hours and fewer.
- There are kennel-size restrictions, for both carry-on and cargo.
- Puppies should be at least eight weeks old, but some airlines request that dogs be older.
- Some breeds, such as bulldogs, are not allowed to fly.
- Certain destinations have restrictions and rules regarding pets.
Already know which airline you’ll be using? Carefully research what is and isn’t allowed on the flight. Here are links to some of the most well-known airlines’ pet policies:
If your airline is not one of the examples listed above, you can usually find pet policies by searching online for “Name of the Airline’s Pet Policies.” Certain companies, such as JetBlue, offer specialized programs to make flying with your dog easier.
Each airline has rules about how many total pets are allowed as carry-ons or in cargo, and how large your dog’s kennel can be. When booking your flight, mention your dog as early as possible to ensure he gets a spot on the plane. You’ll be asked to pay extra fees, and further information about your pup may be requested.
Never show up to the airport with your dog without booking his spot and carefully researching pet rules. You don’t want to begin your trip disappointed!
2. Bring This to Make Your Dog Comfortable
Flying with your dog can be a fun experience you won’t forget. Make those memories good ones by being properly prepared!
Here are a few items you should definitely bring along:
Documentation and Vaccination Records
Some airlines and even some destinations require you to bring documentation and vaccination records along with your pup. For example, JetBlue requires vaccination records, and American Airlines requires pet documentation in specific situations. It’s important to research both your flight and your destination to ensure you’re prepared in the paperwork department.
Regardless of requirements, it’s generally a good idea to bring these items with you, so you’re prepared for any medical emergency or situation that could arise.
Each airline has different requirements when it comes to kennel size, depending on whether you’re bringing your dog as a carry-on or checking him as cargo.
If your pup will be onboard with you, his kennel should fit under the seat in front of you. Bringing two pups along? That’s fine by some airlines, as long as they are the same species and fit in the same kennel.
While his kennel generally has to fit under a plane seat, size allowances vary from airline to airline, so make sure you know the exact rules for your flight. For example, Delta requires kennels to have proper ventilation, but sizes allowed vary from plane to plane. Spirit states that carriers must be 18” l x 14” w x 9” h, but for Frontier, kennels should be 24” l x 16” w x 10” h. Some airlines, like Delta and JetBlue offer kennels for you to buy that meet their restrictions.
The kennel you choose depends on how you’re flying with your pet (carry-on or cargo), your pet, and the airline. Research is essential to avoid problems, as airline requirements may change. You can find approved carriers through airlines’ websites or by searching online for “airline friendly kennels.”
Flying with your dog can be a stressful situation, but treats are almost always welcome! Give your pup treats throughout flight preparation (like packing), boarding, and during the flight to ensure he’s comfortable and knows his good behavior will earn him more.
Stick a favorite toy into your carry-on, and let your dog have it whenever possible. This is another great way to lower his stress because it’s familiar and comforting.
Food and Water
While you generally can’t feed your dog during your flight, you definitely want to have food on hand for afterward. Your pup will be hungry and thirsty, so it’s best to feed him as soon as you land.
If your dog is traveling as cargo, he should have water and food at least four hours before takeoff.
Baggies and Paper Towels or Wipes
It’s quite possible your pup will have an accident at some point during your travels. New situations and unfamiliar places like airports and planes can be confusing to a pup. When you have baggies and paper towels or wipes on hand, you can be a polite traveler and clean up the mess before one of your fellow passengers steps in it!
3. Reduce Your Dog’s Stress While Flying
Flying is stressful for many humans, so there’s no doubt it can be anxiety-inducing for our fur babies. There are steps you can take, both during and before the flight, to help him feel more comfortable.
Get Prepared Early
A few days before your flight, take your dog’s carrier out. He may already be anxious about the carrier, but having it out before your trip can help him get a bit more comfortable before travel day comes. Leave treats inside, so he associates it with yummy things.
Gather everything else that your dog will need, like his documentation, your tickets, his treats and food, etc.
Schedule a Checkup
Many airlines or destinations require that your dog has a checkup prior to take off, but it’s a good idea regardless of requirements! It can help ensure your dog is ready to fly comfortably, free of any potential health issues.
As you get ready for your flight, it’s smart to fit some exercise in. Walk your dog, throw ball, or do some agility. Your dog will be cooped up for a while, so it’s important he works out some of that pent-up energy for a more relaxing flight—for both of you.
Groom Your Dog
Grooming your dog, which includes trimming his nails, is recommended to ensure he stays cool and comfortable throughout the trip.
Fly Your Dog as Carry-On If Possible
Flying your dog as carry-on is recommended over checked baggage. Just being near you can reduce his stress. Give him treats regularly to reward him for good behavior and calm his nerves.
When Not to Fly with Your Dog
Not all dogs are cut out for airplane rides. If your pooch is particularly anxious, you may want to leave him at home with a friend or family member, or board him with a trusted facility.
It’s also recommended that certain breeds do not fly. Dogs with snubbed noses, for example, may have difficulty breathing in the cargo area or during stressful situations. Many airlines don’t allow these types of dogs to fly. If your dog has trouble breathing due to breed or health issues, it’s best not to take him on a plane.
Taking a trip with your dog can add a whole new, fun layer to the experience. But it does require preparation and research, so you can ensure your pup has just as much fun as you do!
Taking a trip with your dog in the near future? We recommend a checkup! You can schedule your appointment with us by calling 281-693-7387.
Have you ever seen a dog faithfully walking by her owner’s side—with no leash in sigh—and wished you could train your pup to do that? It may be possible! Here’s what you need to know about training your dog to walk off-leash.
- A 10- to 20-foot leash
- A head collar or harness (depending on your dog’s behavior)
A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You Started
1. Begin early.
The earlier you start to train your dog off-leash, the easier it will be. Many training programs encourage you to train your puppy without a leash, making the transition to walking by your side smoother.
2. Get the right equipment.
If your dog already walks on a leash but doesn’t have the best leash behavior, get a head collar or harness. When your dog doesn’t pull on the leash at all, she may be ready to advance to off-leash training.
3. Get silly!
Playtime is the perfect opportunity to start training your dog off-leash. While you’re fooling around, reward her with treats for following your commands. Start in a comfortable area, such as your backyard, and leashed her to start.
4. Create boundaries.
If you prefer your dog to walk on your right or left, reward her when she does so.
5. Create stellar on-leash behavior.
Walk around your yard, watching your dog’s behavior. If she wanders off, say a command she knows to come to, like, “Come” or, “Let’s go,” and slap your thigh. Reward her when she returns to your side quickly.
If she doesn’t return, stop walking, and apply gentle leash pressure. Release it when she comes to you.
As she becomes more comfortable, transition to a shorter leash. Reward less for correct behavior. Practice running, walking, and jogging to ensure she stays by your side.
Head out on neighborhood walks to practice your commands, even with the distractions of neighbors and other animals. Reward your pup for returning to your side.
Allow her to have “sniff breaks” because she’ll be curious about the world and have to use the bathroom, of course! Just make sure she returns to your side when called.
6. Create off-leash opportunities.
Find a safe space to practice your pup’s stellar on-leash behavior in an off-leash environment, like your backyard. Then transition to a dog park, where there are more distractions.
Training varies from dog to dog, so follow a guide that works for you and your pup. How long this training takes depends on your dog; go at her pace! Adjust your training methods appropriately to ensure she doesn’t wander off, get lost, or pick fights with other dogs.
Bonus Tactics for Walking Your Dog Off-Leash
- Make sure she understands “emergency commands.” If you say “sit,” she should sit immediately. If you use a recall word, she should return to your side right away. Reward her, but don’t go further in training until she understands this.
- Distance-control is part of ensuring your dog doesn’t wander off. If she walks more than 10 yards away off-leash, turn around and walk the other way.
If you find your pup doesn’t mind you or even pay attention, hide. This works best on puppies, as they will panic a little and attempt to find you. You may not want to do this if your dog is easily distracted or runs off regularly.
Some Dogs Train More Easily Than Others
The first step to understanding if you can train your dog off-leash is knowing if her breed easily grasps this exercise. Some breeds are much better at walking off-leash, but it depends on the individual dog in the end.
Labrador retrievers have been trained for years and over generations to retrieve. Reliable and obedient, they return to your side. Golden retrievers are similar.
Australian shepherds are a hyper bunch, meaning walking off-leash could be the perfect exercise for them without wearing their owners out.
Doberman pinschers are “Velcro dogs,” even if they do have a higher prey drive than others. Early training is essential for them.
Shetland sheepdogs are also “Velcro” pups. On-leash or off, at home or outside, they’re rarely far from their owners.
A few other breeds that do particularly well training off-leash are vizslas, German shepherds, and border collies.
Don’t see your dog’s breed here, or have a mix? Don’t worry! That doesn’t mean she can’t learn. It depends on her personality and how she takes to training.
Know the Law of the Land When You Walk Off-Leash
One of the most important aspects of training your dog to walk off-leash is understanding the rules wherever you are. The state of Texas doesn’t have official leash laws, but it’s not uncommon for specific cities and towns pass their own rules. In Houston, for example, it’s illegal to walk your dog without a leash.
Laws vary from place to place, and there are sometimes exceptions.
Okay at the Dog Park
One of the most common places dogs are allowed off-leash is the dog park. Before you unclip, ensure you’re at an official dog park; not all qualify!
Okay on Your Property
In general, your pup is also allowed to be off-leash in your yard, as long as the yard is fenced and not accessible to the public.
Okay on the Trail
Hiking trails are another great place to walk your dog off-leash. Just like laws in public spaces, the rules for these places vary. Check them out before you and your best friend head off for a hike.
Remember: If you’re planning to travel with your dog, check the local laws before you unclip her leash. Walking off-leash where you’re not allowed can result in a fine. In Katy it’s $500 for each offense.
Understand the Risks
No matter how well you train your dog to walk off-leash, accidents can happen, even if you’ve followed every guideline and suggestion. The environment can be unpredictable, your dog could become startled, or another dog could start a fight with yours. To minimize the risks, proper training is vital.
Before attempting to walk off-leash, be sure your dog understands basic commands, like, “sit,” “stay,” and “come.”
For the safety of your dog and the animals and people around you, never walk your dog off-leash unless you are positive she is ready, well-trained, and follows your commands immediately. And don’t feel bad if your pup doesn’t seem to get the hang of off-leash walking! A stroll at the end of a leash can be just as rewarding.
If your dog is exhibiting behavior problems that make it difficult to walk her—on- or off-leash, give us a call! We offer behavior counseling for both dogs and cats.
Bringing a new puppy into your family is an exciting time! In between the treats, playtime, and walks, you’ll soon find proper training is necessary, especially potty training. But how do you potty train a puppy? Sometimes it can feel like quite a task. Turn to our step-by-step guide to training your pup right! You’ll find tons of tips, plus two tried-and-tested tactics.
Before You Start to Train Your Puppy, Know This!
Potty Training Is Crucial
A pet that doesn’t know where to go to the bathroom can ruin carpets, floors, walls, furniture, and other items, and lead to frustrated owners. It can also make traveling or boarding your dog tricky. Poor potty training is one of the top reasons puppies are brought to shelters.
Potty Training Takes Patience
This stage in your puppy’s life takes time. You’ll have to draw on your consistency, patience, and commitment. If you don’t follow through on what you know about the training, you’re likely to experience plenty of household accidents, and potty training could take longer than it would have otherwise.
Keeping a schedule is one of the best ways for you to keep track of your dog’s behavior and make sure you’re on top of what your dog needs. Try tacking bathroom breaks onto:
- Meal times
- Other behavioral training
This will help your pup learn their routine and that of your family too!
“How Do I Potty Train My Puppy?”
There are a few different ways to potty train your newest family member. You may want to use a combination of techniques that work for you and your dog. The supplies you’ll need for each tactic will vary, but you should definitely have at least two things:
1. A collar and leash
2. Treats for encouragement!
No matter what tactic you use, follow these seven tips:
1. Keep a schedule for meal times, removing food when your pup is finished eating – This will help regulate his bowel movements.
2. When outside, always take your pup to the same spot to go to the bathroom – He’ll soon learn what going to that spot means.
3. Even in your yard, early on, stay outside with your puppy as he uses the bathroom – This will help him feel safe and stay focused.
4. Have treats ready to give your puppy when he goes to the bathroom in the correct place – Rewarding positive behavior reinforces positive behavior!
5. Never yell at your puppy, punish him, or stick his nose in his waste if he has an accident – This will only cause him to associate you with fear.
6. If you catch your pup in the act inside the house, make a loud noise, such as clapping, to distract him from what he’s doing. Then quickly carry or lead him to the appropriate spot.
7. Regular exercise is a must for any dog, but it can make it easier for them to do their business as well.
Step-by-Step: Crate Training
Experts regularly recommend keeping your puppy in a smaller space than your entire home, such as a room, until he’s comfortable in his new atmosphere and trained to go to the bathroom outside. A crate is the perfect solution for this because dogs are den animals and love the comfort of their own space.
Dogs don’t like soiled homes, just like you don’t like your home to feel cluttered or dirty. After time in his crate, your puppy will see it as his “home” and be reluctant to relieve himself inside it.
Supplies for Crate Training:
- The appropriate crate for your dog
- Cleaning materials to clean up any crate accidents
- Bedding for the crate, so your pup is comfortable
- Fresh water
Choosing the correct crate for your puppy is essential to this strategy. It should be the perfect size for him. He should be able to lie down, stand up, and move around to get comfortable. If you have a puppy that will grow quickly, you may want to consider getting a crate that can be adjusted in size. If the space is too large for your puppy, he could easily pick a corner to use to go to the bathroom, which undermines the entire process.
5 Steps to Potty Training with a Crate
1. Introduce your puppy to the crate. Ensure he has bedding, so he’s comfortable, and fresh water. Add his favorite toy to keep him occupied.
2. When your dog whines, circles around his crate, or starts barking or sniffing, it could be a sign he needs to use the bathroom. Open the crate, and take him outside right away. Don’t wait!
3. Once your dog is comfortable with this process and scratches or whines at the door of his home to use the bathroom, start leaving his crate unlocked.
4. Clean up any accidents your pup has in his crate (or your home) immediately.
5. Reward him for every successful trip to use the bathroom outside!
Tips for Potty Training with a Crate
- Never leave your puppy in his crate for more than four hours at a time—even less time for younger puppies.
- If the crate is the right size and your puppy is still going to the bathroom there, stop using the crate as a training tool.
- If you aren’t comfortable using a crate, use gates to confine your puppy to a smaller space inside your home.
Step-by-Step: Puppy Pads Training
Puppy pads can be a good tool if you are against the idea of crating or confining your family member and someone is home all the time. Puppies generally shouldn’t be unsupervised outside of a crate because they can easily sneak off and have an accident that may take you a bit to find. This method lets your dog know he has the option of going on the pads or outside, so it may take longer to teach your puppy to go outside only (if that’s what you want).
Supplies for Puppy-Pad Training
- Puppy pads or newspaper
That’s it, though it’s a good idea to have cleaning supplies ready in case your pup misses the pads.
6 Steps to Potty Training with Pads
1. Choose a space or corner of your home you feel is a good spot to lay down puppy pads or newspaper. This space should be easily accessible to your dog. Tile or another hard surface is easier to clean if your pup misses the paper.
2. When your puppy goes to the bathroom in the house, pick him up and move him to the pads or newspaper.
3. Once you have an idea of his bathroom schedule, take him to the pad around that time—regularly. Set alarms to help you remember.
4. Use commands to help your pup associate the pads with going to the bathroom. Many people use, “Go potty.”
5. Give rewards when your puppy goes on the pads or outside.
6. Once your puppy has fewer accidents, it’s time to start training him to only go outside. Over time, slowly move the puppy pad toward the door and then completely outside.
Tips for Potty Training with Puppy Pads
- Regularly change the soiled puppy pads or newspaper.
- Clean up any accidents immediately.
- If you are ever away from home for an extended period, a crate is a good idea to prevent accidents, especially early on.
“How do I potty train my puppy?” is one of the most commonly asked questions by new dog owners. Using these tips and strategies can help you and your new family member adjust to your new puppy’s bathroom schedule. Remember that consistency and commitment will take you far!
If you need help or have questions about potty training or any of your puppy’s other behaviors, schedule an appointment with Cinco Ranch Vet at 281-693-7387!
Some cats are very confident. They are friendly to anyone who comes into your house, they run to the door when there’s a knock, and they don’t even shy away from the vacuum! But just like humans, every kitty is different. For every gregarious cat, there’s a skittish cat that jumps at the smallest noise or shies away from strangers.
If your cat is skittish, don’t fret! There are things you can do to help your furbaby come out of her shell. First, it’s important to understand why she might shy away from people, things, noises, and smells.
Why Is Your Cat Skittish?
A cat can be skittish simply because it’s part of her personality, but sometimes outside factors make a kitty skittish or cause her shyness to be worse.
1. She’s in a new environment.
This is the number-one reason a cat is anxious. When you bring home a new cat, she needs some time to get used to the house, family, and any other pets you have around—with all their sights, smells, noises, flavors, etc.
Bringing a new member of the family home is an exciting time as you get to know each other, but your cat may not feel as overjoyed as you right away. She’ll need her space as she explores her new home.
2. She doesn’t know how to act around humans.
Socialization is essential to overcoming your kitty’s anxiety, but bad socialization can have a negative effect. Mistreatment by a previous owner takes time to overcome.
3. She has a medical issue.
This could be the case if your cat’s anxiety started recently and wasn’t a part of her personality before. Behavioral changes and problems could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Take your fur baby to the vet to rule any serious issues out.
Tips to Help Your Skittish Cat Come Out of Her Shell
If your cat is a bit anxious and you’ve ruled out underlying causes, here are some tips to help her come out of her shell:
Tip #1: Prevention
If your new cat is a kitten, prevention is the best way to avoid or reduce the chance that she’ll grow up into a skittish cat. Early socialization is essential. Introducing your kitty to new people, sights, objects, sounds, etc. while she’s young will help her be more comfortable with those things and new things she encounters as she ages.
Ensure your cat meets a wide variety of people in your life, especially family members, friends, or neighbors who come over often. Cats that grow up without meeting men early in life, for example, could make a trip to a male veterinarian or technician difficult for you!
Tip #2: Provide a Calming Atmosphere
An important step in helping a skittish cat overcome her anxiety, whether she’s young or old, is providing a calming atmosphere. In general, but especially in known stressful situations, avoid loud music, ask your children to quiet down, and turn down the TV a bit. Try not to yell at your cat, a family member, or another pet.
Be sure nothing chases your cat, like children or other animals. Although kids are naturally curious and excited about a new pet, chasing your cat could create lasting negative effects. The outcome could be scratched arms as well as more fear for your furry family member.
If your cat has a favorite place to hide, spend time with her in that space. Speak softly, and show her that everything is okay and she’s safe with you. An occasional treat or two can do wonders as well!
Tip #3: Give Her a Place to Go
Cats, whether they’re normally skittish or not, do not like their escape routes being cut off. Suddenly being trapped is distressing. Make sure your cat has easy access to her favorite hiding spots.
If you don’t have one already, consider buying a cat tree. Cats love to be up high. It helps them feel at home, comfortable, and safe because they can see their domain. This could be a great compromise for you and your cat: She’s in the room with the company that normally stresses her out, but she gets to be there on her terms.
Tip #4: Play
Relaxing play (and treats!) can also help your skittish cat come out from under the bed or her favorite hiding place. A feather wand or laser pointer is a quiet toy that may pique her interest. When playtime is over or she’s emerged from her lair, reward her with treats and praise.
If your cat isn’t taking the bait, try giving her more space with the toy. Allow her to smell it and investigate. Don’t rush her. Stay low to the ground to appear less threatening. Perhaps sit on the floor, speak in a soothing voice, and show your kitty that play and treats can be a great time for both of you.
Tip #5: Be Patient
The best thing to do for any skittish cat or kitten is to be patient. Their behavior is not going to change overnight. You never want to force your cat to sit with you or be around strangers. This will only reinforce her anxiety about her environment.
A soft voice, a gentle hand, and plenty of time can go a long way in calming your kitty.
Is Your Cat Shy Around Strangers Specifically?
If your cat is perfectly fine around the family, but runs when a stranger comes to the door, you can help her overcome her fear. This takes time and patience and shouldn’t be forced (Never lock her in a room with a stranger.), but it is possible!
Start with distance. When a new friend or neighbor comes to call, see what distance your cat is most comfortable with regarding the stranger. Don’t have the human get any closer than that. Practice this every time the stranger comes over. If your cat ever gets too anxious about how close they are, have your friend back up until your cat is comfortable again.
As you work toward progress, reward your kitty with treats and praise. Playtime may also help her associate the stranger with positivity.
The most valuable piece of advice when it comes to a skittish cat is: Be patient. Whether she’s new to your home or just afraid of strangers, giving your cat time and space to overcome her fears can do wonders. Forcing her to socialize can only do more harm than good.
If your kitty is suffering from anxiety and is still skittish after you’ve worked through these steps, give us a call, so we can rule out medical causes. Once that’s done, we’d be happy to talk through options for behavior counseling, so we can get your furry friend feeling fancy free as quickly as possible!
Nothing can wake you up at night (and keep you up) much like a cat meowing. If it’s happening every evening, it could have serious effects on your sleep, your cat, and your life. Here’s a look at why your cat might be meowing so insistently at night and some solutions to handle it.
4 Reasons Your Cat Won’t Stop Meowing
There are a number of reasons your cat may be meowing throughout the night instead of sleeping. Here are a few of the more common causes!
1. Your cat is in pain or discomfort.
The very first thing you want to do is rule out medical reasons for your cat’s crying. This is especially true if your cat has cried all night in the past or if it also meows insistently during the day. Pain or discomfort could be causing your kitty to cry out, unable to sleep.
If you suspect a medical issue, it’s important to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet can test for deafness and other issues. If nothing medically is wrong, you have at least ruled out this possibility, giving yourself peace of mind and your vet other avenues to explore.
2. Your cat is bored.
Boredom is a very common reason a cat will meow nonstop in the night. Even though cats’ ancestors were nocturnal, modern housecats do tend to sleep throughout the night like their humans. Still, they will wake up occasionally. This may be to take a walk around the house, grab a snack, or go to the bathroom.
If your cat doesn’t get enough attention or playtime during the day, it may be wide awake and bored come nighttime. Meowing might wake you up, and your kitty will get the attention it wants and needs! This is especially the case with younger cats and kittens that don’t get long enough workouts during the day.
3. Your cat is anxious.
Anxiety is another reason why your cat may cry while you’re trying to sleep. Changes in its environment—like if it was recently adopted—can be startling for a cat! Your furry friend may be:
- Seeking reassurance
- Calling for litter mates
Besides meowing, other signs of anxiety in cats include:
- Excessive grooming
- Urinating outside the litterbox
- Increased aggression
With time, as your cat becomes comfortable, the nighttime meowing for the reasons above may stop.
4. Your cat wants attention.
The nonstop meowing your cat is exhibiting may just come down to an attention-seeking behavior. This could be due to boredom, but your feline could also be used to getting what it wants when it meows. If your cat has a more demanding personality, this may be the root cause of the cries.
Tips for Breaking the Habit of Nighttime Meowing
Don’t worry! There are a few ways to tackle your cat’s nighttime cries.
1. Don’t encourage the behavior.
You should never encourage or reward nighttime (or excessive daytime) meowing. Your cat is smart and will quickly learn that a meow can get results, whether it be food, playtime, or cuddles. The less you react to the crying, the less it will be used against you.
During the night, try wearing earplugs while you wean your kitty off this behavior. During the day, try not to respond to excessive meowing; walk away instead. You can give your kitty attention when it’s calmed down!
But make sure you stick to your plan! Giving in even one night can undo all your progress.
Pro tip: Don’t yell at your cat for meowing—day or night. It could cause behavioral issues in addition to the crying.
2. Stick to a routine.
Cats prefer routine, like knowing their food bowl is filled at 8 AM and 8 PM. Do the same with playtime and attention, and make sure you’re spending time with your furry companion every day. With enough playtime, you can work out that pent-up energy and reduce the midnight meows. You may also want to consider playing with your cat just before you go to bed.
Cats also tend to fall asleep after a big meal. Feeding them dinner just before bedtime can ensure they stay asleep for longer. To prevent nighttime calls for food, consider using a timed feeder. Your cat will learn this schedule quickly and won’t wake you up!
3. Reduce your cat’s anxiety.
If your cat’s nighttime cries are due to anxiety, you’ll want to take steps to reduce its stress. Plenty of attention and playtime during the day goes a long way, but you also don’t want to leave your cat all alone during the night. If your kitty is a new addition to your home, for instance, it may not know it can go upstairs with you!
Your meowing cat could be lonely, especially if you work during the day, and it’s an “only cat.” Adding a second kitty to your home could be the answer, but make sure to take proper steps to introduce them correctly.
4. Take a visit to the vet.
If none of these solutions work or you suspect a medical issue, it’s time for a trip to the vet. As stated before, insistent meowing at night could indicate an underlying issue that’s causing your cat pain or discomfort.
In addition to testing for medical problems, your vet can provide additional advice and/or remedial products for your cat’s anxiety or stress.
You love your cat, but no one wants to be kept up all night by their furbaby’s cries! Understanding the reasons behind your cat’s yowling can help you better understand the steps you need to take to reduce this behavior and help your furry friend be more comfortable.
If you think the cause of nighttime meowing may be an underlying medical issue or you just want advice, don’t hesitate to call us at 281-693-7387 to make an appointment!
As the holiday season approaches, you probably already have in mind all sorts of festive getups for your pup. What better way to get into the spirit—of Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.—than to throw a costume on your four-legged pal and take some adorable holiday photos?
Dressing up your dog for the holidays—or any time of year—can be a fun way to bond with your pup. But if you’ve ever tried to dress your dog, you may know that they tend to shy away from clothing and accessories.
How do you safely and enjoyable dress your dog, so it can join in on the holiday fun safely and comfortably?
The first thing that you’ll want to be aware of when choosing an outfit for your dog is whether or not it’s safe for your furry friend to wear. Here are some tips to ensure the safety of your dog’s wardrobe!
Fit is very important when it comes to wardrobe safety. Clothing that is too large or too small is likely to be uncomfortable for your dog and poses safety issues:
- Clothes that are too tight might constrict their movement or breathing.
- Clothes that are too large could cause them to trip or become tangled in the fabric.
Before you purchase anything or force your pooch to be in a costume for long, put the clothing on your pup to test the fit. The clothes should be snug against its body, but it should still have full range of motion.
You’ll also want to check the collar of the costume. Ideally, it should be loose enough that you can fit a few fingers between the fabric and your dog’s neck.
One very common hazard of dog clothing is add-ons, like buttons, pins, sequins, etc. These have the potential to come loose and become a choking hazard for your pet. Or your dog could figure out how to chew the accessory while it’s still on!
Make sure add-ons to your dog’s costume are securely attached and/or are too large for your pup to swallow.
While fabric choice doesn’t have a direct effect on your dog’s safety, stuffing it into an uncomfortable material may cause it to act out and potentially injure itself. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton to make sure your pup feels safe and comfy in its new outfit.
…signs that your dog is unhappy
If your pet is in danger or feels unsafe in its clothing, it will act accordingly. Watch for signs that your dog is struggling with the garment, like excessive coughing due to a too-tight collar or not interacting with dogs or people the way it normally would. If your dog is showing signs of distress, immediately remove it from the clothing.
Fur-tastic Ideas for Dressing Your Dog!
Now that you know how to keep your dog safe and comfortable, you can start putting together a doggy wardrobe that will make your pup the envy of the dog park and your family gathering. Here are some must-have additions to your pup’s closet to help it ring in any holiday in style:
1. An Ugly Holiday Sweater
Ugly holiday sweaters are all the rage with humans, so why not get one for your four-legged friend? Snap a photo of the whole family decked out in silly sweaters—Fido included—and use it as your holiday card!
2. Themed Costumes
The holidays are a perfect time to make your dog extra-festive! Whether you want to dress your pup up like bacon for Halloween, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, or just a cute little reindeer, the holidays are a great time to experiment (safely) with your pup’s look.
3. A New Coat
Both stylish AND functional, a warm and cozy coat is a staple for a puppy’s wardrobe, especially in cold climates. Look for something plush and warm to shield your pup from harsh winter weather, keeping it nice and toasty through holiday storms.
Boots are also a must for harsh holiday weather. Ice, snow, and salt used to clear roads can damage your pet’s paws; boots add an extra layer of protection. Just make sure they fit correctly; ill-fitting boots can be extremely uncomfortable for your pup.
If you just can’t get your dog to stay in a sweater or costume, don’t worry! It can still embrace the holiday spirit with some pet-friendly sparkle. Pet jewelry is all the rage, and there’s no better time to add a little bling to your pup’s life than the holidays. A bedazzled necklace or a collar with holiday charms is a great way to add some personality to your pup if it doesn’t prefer clothing.
Where Can I Find Clothing for My Dog?
There are a ton of resources for finding adorable, appropriate, holiday-themed clothing for your dog. As Halloween, Hanukkah, Christmas, and more approach, many local pet stores–and even vets’ offices–stock up on holiday-related clothing, so check in and see if anything catches your eye. The benefit to buying your pup’s clothing in a store, rather than online, is that you can bring your dog with you and make sure the clothing fits properly before committing to a purchase.
But you’re likely to find the best selection online. Large shopping websites like Amazon and Overstock have entire departments dedicated to outfit and accessory options for your pet. There’s even pet-clothing-specific online retailers like BaxterBoo that exclusively sell items for your dog’s wardrobe. With holiday shipping options, you can have a costume delivered with time to celebrate!
Everyone loves getting dressed up around the holidays. Bring your dog in on the fun! With these tips for safely and enjoyably dressing your dog, you’ll have the happiest, most stylish pup on the block.