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Breed Guide: Cocker Spaniel

Posted on: May 5th, 2014 by

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

About the Cocker Spaniel

Height (to base of neck): female 14″, male 15″

Weight: female 24-26lbs, male 26-28lbs

Color: Black, cream, red, brown, part-colored and tan pointed.

Origin: England

Coat: Long, silky, and fine coat is straight to slightly wavy.

Life Expectancy: 13-16 years

Energy level: Moderate to high

Exercise needs: Moderate

Breed Nicknames: Cockers

Is a Cocker Spaniel the Right Dog Breed for You?

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5 Reasons Dogs Expose Their Belly

Posted on: May 2nd, 2014 by

puppy showing his bellyBy 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.

When it comes to communicating, canine “talk” is always clear and consistent whether they are communicating with people or other dogs. They “speak” by using postures, tail positions, tail movements, eyes and expressions.

One of the most common canine postures a dog displays is to flop on his back with all four legs hoisted up and swaying in the air. It is vital to consider the circumstances as well as to check the whole body first to really deduce the silent message being conveyed by a dog going belly up.

Here are the five main reasons dogs expose their bellies:

1) To garner love and attention from you. Happy dogs who go belly up at your feet when you return home may be doing their best to let you know that they adore you. The entire body is relaxed.

2) To seek assistance to scratch a hard-to-reach itch. Dogs are very flexible, but they lack opposable thumbs and may count on you to scratch an itch for them. This is a sign of trust in you.

3.) To convey a sense of feeling secure in his surroundings. Confident adult dogs in their own homes roll on their backs and get into a relaxed posture when taking naps – usually on the sofa or your bed.

4.) To catch a cool breeze on hot days. Although dogs attempt to regulate their body temperature by panting, some may park themselves next to circulating fans or air conditioner vents on hot days to catch the cool breeze on their bellies where there tends to be less hair in an attempt to cool down.

5.) To show respect to a higher-ranking dog or a person. Hierarchy is important in the canine world. A lesser-ranking dog may drop, plop upside down and avoid making any eye contact with a dog who is deemed to rank higher. By purposely exposing his vulnerable underbelly, this dog is communicating to the dominant dog that he comes in peace and has no intention of challenging his authority. Resist petting the bellies of a fearful dog as this action may unintentionally trigger a fear-bite response. Instead, speak to the fearful dog in an upbeat tone and reward him with a healthy treat or praise when he pops into the safer “sit” position.

One caution: Beware of dogs who make direct, hard stares and display tense bodies when exposing their bellies. Some cunning canines use this belly-up posture to lure a person or another dog closer to demonstrate dominance by growling or snapping or worse, biting. These are not relaxed dogs waiting for TLC. They are setting a trap. These dogs need to be reschooled in the basic cues of “sit,” “stay,” “watch me” and “down” to demote their status below that of you. Consider enrolling in an obedience class taught by a professional dog trainer certified in positive reinforcement training techniques.

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8 Tips for Taking a Road Trip with Your Pet

Posted on: April 30th, 2014 by

dog sitting in carBy 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 pet insurance agency for dogs and cats.

Imagine driving for three days, staying at two hotels and covering 1,383 miles with a 60-pound dog and a meow-happy cat. And, then a week later, repeating this trek to return home. Does that sound like your dream road trip? Surprisingly, it was for me!

Latest national pet surveys indicate more than 70 percent of people take their dogs – and yes, even some travel-savvy cats – on road trips.

To keep your sanity and to keep your pets safe during those long hours of drive, here are 8 tried-and-tested tips:

1) Pack with a purpose

Keep pet travel essentials in your vehicle. My must-have list include a water bowl, bottled water, extra leash and collar with identification tags, poop bags, an old towel, pre-moistened wipes, a basic first-aid kit, necessary medications, a copy of health records, bedding, treats, one or two favorite toys and at least a 3-day supply of food inside resealable plastic bags or containers.

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Breed Guide: English Springer Spaniel

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 by

English Spinger SpanielDr. Marc is a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

About the English Springer Spaniel

Height (to base of neck): female 19″, male 20″

Weight: female 40lbs, male 50lbs

Color: Liver and white, black and white, tricolor, blue and liver roan.

Origin: England

Coat: Double coated with medium length hair that is flat to wavy. They have feathering on limbs and chest.

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Energy level: High

Exercise needs: High

Breed Nicknames: Springers

Is an English Springer Spaniel the Right Dog Breed for You?

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5 Tips to Survive Kitten-hood

Posted on: April 25th, 2014 by

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.