Author Archives: Dr. Jack Stephens

5 Tips to Survive Kitten-hood

kitten laying on a blanketBy Arden Moore, a certified cat and dog behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a cat insurance and dog insurance agency.

Welcome to the wonder year – feline style. The first year of a kitten’s life can be fun, fascinating – and frustrating. It is important to keep in mind that kittens aren’t born with instant manners or training manuals. They seem to possess an innate ability to create mayhem, mischief and madness – all in the name of feline fun.

Leaping, pouncing, climbing and diving are built in to a young cat’s genetic code. These supercharged, high-energy kittens spend their waking hours vigorously exploring their environments and testing their abilities.

Here are five kitten-training tactics designed to help you survive the “wonder year” and maintain your sanity:

1. Start behavior training on Day. Don’t delay. Kittens grow up fast and you don’t want bad habits to become permanent ones. Never reward bad behavior – even when it is cute.

2. Strive for consistency. Always use the same voice commands and hand gestures so you don’t confuse your kitten. For instance, always say, “Sit up” and raise your index finger when you want your feline student to stretch up with his weight resting on his hind feet.

3. Avoid physical punishment. Your hand should be viewed as a friend, not a foe to your kitten. Hitting a kitten fosters fear and distrust. You need to be regarded at the benevolent leader, the keeper of all good resources (and that includes high-quality treats).

4. Remember the species. You adopted a kitten, not a puppy. The two species have different motivations for what they do. Don’t expect your kitten to fetch your slippers. Whereas a puppy often strives to please you, a more independent-minded kitten needs to know what’s in it for him to comply.

5. Customize your behavior training. If you have adopted more than one kitten, recognize that each may have a different personality – even if they are litter mates. Strive to meet the individuality of each kitten during your mini-training seasons and keep in mind that some kittens respond to some techniques better than others.

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This article has been adapted from its original version in Arden’s book, The Cat Behavior Answer Book.

5 Steps to Remove Ticks from Your Dog

A cocker spaniel puppy gets inspected for ticks.

By Arden Moore, a certified pet first aid/CPR instructor with Pet Tech, a hands-on training program. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats.

Spring ushers in warm weather and motivates you to spend more time outdoors with your dog. Unfortunately, the great outdoors is home to more than 800 types of ticks capable of transmitting more than a dozen diseases, some lethal. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis, to name a few.

According to veterinarians, your best defense against ticks causing disease in your dog is to keep him on year-round flea and tick control. And, always check your dog thoroughly from head to tail after taking a hike.

If you do discover a tick on your dog’s coat, it’s natural to be a bit startled at first. But take a breath and follow this five-step guide to safely and completely remove the tick:

1. Put on rubber gloves to prevent touching the tick directly and putting yourself at risk for contracting any tick-transmitting disease.Read More…

Breed Guide: Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature SchnauzerDr. Fiona is a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

About Miniature Schnauzers

Height (to base of neck): female 13″; male 14″

Weight: female: 10-15 lbs, male: 11-18 lbs

Color: Black, Salt and Pepper, Black and silver, white

Origin: Germany

Coat: Wiry and harsh when stripped, often clipped close to the body with clippers, and curly when unclipped.

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Energy level: High

Exercise needs: High

Is a Miniature Schnauzer the Right Dog Breed for You?

The mini Schnauzer has been described as ‘spunky,’ verging on aloof, but their intelligence makes them amendable to obedience training.  They are friendly and eager to please.  They can possess a territorial instinct, making them suitable as watch dogs.  Their small size and friendly nature make them suitable as family pets.  They are very playful and if not given enough exercise and stimulus they can tend towards boredom driven destructiveness.  Their wiry coat requires regular grooming, typically with clipping or hand stripping.

5 Common Illnesses, Medical Conditions and Accidents for the Miniature Schnauzer

According to the number of dog insurance claims Pets Best receives

Medical Issue  Average Claim Amount  Most Expensive Claim 
Ear Infection $204 $1,199
Skin Allergies $444 $6,376
Lipoma (Fatty Tumor) $408 $1,954
Gastritis (Bloat) $458 $4,167
Pyoderma (Skin Infection) $200 $860


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5 Tips for Training Your Puppy

lady training a puppy to sit

By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

It’s never too early to learn— especially for your puppy.

Learning should always be fun and engaging. After all, puppies aren’t born with perfect manners. They need to be taught appropriate behaviors by you and a professional dog trainer.

Get your training off on the right paw by heeding this message: Out with the word, “No” and in with the word, “Yes.” Accentuate the positive in puppy training. The “yes” can be verbal or conveyed by using a clicker to reinforce a desired behavior. Break down a new trick or behavior into baby steps and focus on teaching one step at a time. Be patient and you will see positive results.

Here are five key tricks every puppy should learn:


Hold a treat in front of your puppy’s nose and motion up and back at a 45-degree angle. Your puppy will follow the treat, bending her head back until she sits. Say yes or click and then treat. Repeat this a few times. Next, show her the treat, but don’t lure her with it. Wait until she sits on her own, then click and treat. Repeat this until she immediately sits every time you show her a treat.

Leave it

Hold an object in front of you, in the palm of your hand. When your puppy reaches for the object, close your hand and pull away and say, “Leave it.” Repeat this step until your puppy stops reaching for the object. Now, place the object on the floor. If your puppy reaches for it, cover it with your foot or hand. When your puppy consistently leaves the object alone, add the cue, “Leave it” just before you present the object. As soon as she backs off, click and say, “Leave it.”

Lie Down

Start with your puppy sitting. Hold a treat in front of her nose, and motion with it straight down to the floor between her paws. She most likely will follow the treat to the floor, lying down as she does. As soon as she is lying down, click and treat.


Use this in conjunction with the “sit” command. As your puppy sits, hold your open palm in front of her face and say, “Jazzy, stay” while you hold the leash your other hand. When she stays for a few seconds, say, “Good stay” and treat. Repeat a few times. Gradually, extend the time your puppy stays.


Turn training into play time by using the classic children’s game of hide and seek to reinforce the “come” command. Practice this game inside your house.  Have someone hold your puppy while you hide in the house. Then call your puppy by saying, “Jazzy, come!” You may need to repeat her name a few times until she reaches you. Click and treat. This is a fun way to teach the “Come” command, and it also teaches persistence in your puppy’s search for you—definitely a good command to know in case you and your puppy get separated outdoors.

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6 Easter Foods to Avoid Sharing with Pets

An English bulldog wearing bunny ears stares at an Easter basket of candy.Easter is coming up, and much of the day is spent around food, including baskets full of goodies. You may be wondering if you should share your Easter dinner with your pet. While some traditional Easter foods are non-toxic to dogs and cats, they can still cause an upset stomach and lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Here’s a list of commonly consumed foods at Easter and whether or not to share them with your pet.

1. Ham

Easter ham is perhaps the most traditional part of Easter dinner. Ham is high in calories and fat which can cause diarrhea in dogs and cats and also lead to life-threatening pancreatitis in dogs. High calorie foods also cause weight gain in pets. Just 3 ounces of ham is over 25% of the daily calories needed in a 25 pound dog.

2. Mashed Potatoes

Although potatoes are typically harmless in dogs, make sure that your mashed potatoes are not made with any onions or garlic which are toxic to dogs. The butter and milk that are added to mashed potatoes can cause diarrhea in your pets because dogs are often lactose intolerant and cats can be as well.

3. Green BeansRead More…

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