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Advantages of puppy training classes

Posted on: January 12th, 2011 by

A puppy with pet insurance learns to shake.

Once you have welcomed your new puppy home, you should begin investigating pet insurance and look into signing your pet up for behavior training. Enrolling your puppy in a dog obedience training class will help make them well rounded and adaptable.

Puppy obedience classes are an ideal opportunity for you and your dog to bond. Creating a strong bond between you and your new puppy will help build a stronger relationship in which you are the the leader. Being the leader in your puppy’s life will help to ensure they follow the rules your have established.

Another advantage to enrolling your puppy in puppy obedience training classes is socialization. Your puppy will get a chance to socialize with a variety of other breeds. Exposing puppies to other dogs early in their life is crucial for future experiences with dogs. Puppies need to learn how to play and get along with other dogs. In addition to socializing with other dogs, puppy obedience classes allow your puppy to socialize with other people.

It is important to take advantage of any instance where you can socialize your puppy and introduce them to different settings and situations. Experiences that puppies have when they are young help shape them into the type of dog they will be when they are adults.

Other benefits of puppy classes include learning commands such as sit and stay. Puppies also learn how to walk properly on a leash. The trainers will also offer dog training tips to help make training your puppy easier.

Q&A with pet expert “Ask Tracie”

Posted on: January 12th, 2011 by

Two pets make their owners laugh.

Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

You asked, she answered! Pets Best Insurance solicited questions from our Facebook page friends relating to baffling pet behavior. Pet expert and author of The Dog Bible and the Cat Bible, Tracie Hotchner, weighs in! Read on to see if your question was answered:

Question by Kathleen: How to keep Curious Kitty off of the kitchen counters!! I’ve tried every suggestion I can find, and he still jumps up there regularly.

Tracie: Hi Kathleen- I’ve selected your question to answer on the episode of my radio show DOG TALK® which will be podcast on January 14th so be sure to sign up at to hear the answer. My guest on the show is cat behavior consultant Jackson Galaxy, who also owns Spirit Essences. The short answer is that you need a way to send your Curious Kitty a reminder 24/7 that getting on the counter is a No-No.

To do this you might try a product like SSScat, which is a compressed air device with an electric eye. Be sure to turn it on whenever you are not in the kitchen and the harmless blast of air will convince your kitty to stay off the counter.

There are other products like this – Critter Gitter is another – but you basically want to throw away that squirt bottle if you have been following the mistaken advice to spray your cat, which only teaches your cat to hate the water bottle and fear you! Good luck

Question by Rajnish: Does my cat understand what I speak to him or he picks on my tone and gestures? I ask him to “come sit here” and 90% of time he does. At other times he goes like humans “hmmmnn” as if he contemplates on what I said. Of course then there are times when I talk to him he will just keep looking at me and then fall asleep in my lap. I wish I could understand his language but sometimes I am totally baffled as to what he wants.

Tracie: Hi Rajnish – Like all cats, yours wants to keep you wrapped around his little paw! Of course he can understand what you are saying – cats are very clever at hearing a tone of voice and body language or signals. As you describe yourself, it’s not a question of comprehension, it’s a matter of willingness. The fact that you are not sure what he wants means that you have made his day! Keeping you guessing and off-balance means you are eating out of his little paw, which is just how he likes it.

Question by Dawn: How did get my 70lb 1 yr old puppy to stop play biting? She doesn’t seem to get I am not her 80lb. litter mate!

Tracie: Hi Dawn- I think you have a misconception that many people have which is that there is ever a time or age when it is okay for a dog to put her teeth on you: WRONG! There is no such thing as “play biting” except between dogs, who have an even advantage as they each have a very big set of teeth!

Your year old dog is not technically a puppy anymore, but starting when she was an 8 week old puppy she should have been taught that placing her teeth on human flesh was off limits. You needed to do what another dog – starting with her mother and litter mates – would have done: squealed or yelped when they were bitten and then stopped playing immediately. This is exactly what you need to do now: make a loud startled noise when she puts her teeth on you and stand up and walk away. Ignore her completely.

The message is that when her mouth touches your skin, all fun stops immediately. At this point when you have let this go on for so long, you need to be 100% consistent in never accepting teeth on your skin again. In addition, I would get a lot of stuffed dog toys (the fuzzy bones are a good size and shape) and keep them all over the house. When she starts to bite you, put the soft toy in her mouth instead and praise her for taking the toy, giving her a way to safely express her mouthiness.

Question by Andy: Heres one for ya. I have a 15 month old American Bulldog. He gets uneasy around new people. He has never bitten anybody but comes real close. He can’t be trusted when my young sons has friends around. It seems to be more of a fear thing than an aggresive thing. We have had him since he was 3 months old and have done nothing to harm him. I almost think he is being over protective of me. He seems to only act this way when I’m around
Tracie: Andy- You have a very very serious problem and need to get professional help ASAP. The signals you are picking up of the dog’s discomfort – and overt signs of aggression like “coming real close” to biting – are HUGE flashing danger signs. No dog should ever display his teeth or any “pre biting” behavior. You can be certain that this dog is at a tipping point and somebody is going to get bitten – you must protect yourselves and everyone who comes in contact with the dog from this possibility.

You need to find an experienced trainer – who uses positive methods, not any fear-based or force-based styles of management – and have the dog evaluated by a professional. Please take a look at THE DOG BIBLE so you can better understand what is going on with your dog’s behavior – and how easily things can go out of control and end with a tragedy. Your suggestion that this is “fear” not “aggression” tells me that you need to learn some more about dog behavior (my book condenses many topics into easy to follow ideas).

A large amount of aggression and attacks by dogs are fear-based – from dogs who have not been exposed to enough different people and situations and bite out of fear and feeling overwhelmed. If what you have is a purebred American Bulldog that you got from a breeder(?) then you should have been told or researched that this breed has an especially strong need to be socialized to all sorts of people and situations from a very early age.

This breed also needs to be trained with a firm attitude, you need to set and maintain boundaries for the dog. The fact that the dog behaves like this only when you are around is something a good trainer can observe and reach conclusions about – if the aggression is about being protective, then the dog needs to be immediately re-educated about what his “job” is and taught that no aggressive controlling behavior will be tolerated.

For more information about Tracie, visit

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Posted on: January 11th, 2011 by

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’d like to talk to you today about the importance of keeping your dog’s toenails trimmed and the proper way to do it.

Keeping your dog’s toenails short is important so that they don’t snag or become torn or infected, especially if your dog has dewclaws. Those dewclaws can actually grow around and curl into the pad and become painful.

When you trim the nails you’ll want to use a trimmer that looks like a pair of scissors. This size would be good for a dog like Tula. Something larger, like this, would be appropriate for a larger dog.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how far to go on the nail. Tulah has really nice white nails so you can see where the pink part is. That’s the quick and it’s alive. So for her I would want to take only where the white part is, making sure not to nick the pinker part.

It may be a two-person job for you; someone to hold the dog and to comfort them, while the other person uses the toenail trimmers.

So for Tulah, we will go just about to there. If you do trim too much and you start to get some bleeding, don’t despair. Put gentle pressure on the end of the tip of the nail. You can use a little cornstarch or a warm cloth to provide some pressure. Typically, that will stop the bleeding.

If you’ve got questions or concerns or are wary about trimming your dog’s nails, contact your veterinarian. They should be able to assist you.

I’m Dr. Caldwell, and that’s how you trim nails.

The Pets Best Insurance guide to litter boxes

Posted on: January 11th, 2011 by

A cat tries to climb out of a toilet.

By: Alex Fascilla
For Pets Best Insurance

If you’ve seen the popular comedy Meet the Parents, you certainly remember Jinx, Jack Byrnes’ beloved Himalayan cat. Why does Jinxy Cat stick out so firmly in our minds? Well, aside from Greg Focker’s carelessly concocted plan featuring Jinx’s impersonator with the spray-painted tail, we probably remember the same thing: Jinx was toilet trained!

But why would Jack Byrnes go to so much trouble to toilet train his cat? For the same reason we’ve all thought about it: to avoid the smell and unsightliness of a litter box.

Now, as just a partial stakeholder in my neighborhood’s stray cat, I’m certainly not the expert on litter box obstruction. However, in a recent Pets Best Insurance Facebook poll, we asked, “Cat owners, how do you hide the look (and smell) of your indoor litter box?”, and discovered some great answers. So, before you give puss the boot, review some of our best contributions below:

The top 5 ways to reduce litter box odor:

1. “Clean your litter box every day.” – Jennifer, Pittsburg, KS
While it can be time consuming, cleaning it regularly might be the best way to prevent the odors and waste and keep an eye on pet health. Often, irregular bathroom habits can be the first sign of illness.

2. “Baking soda on the bottom of your litter box, kitty litter, another layer of baking soda, and litter again.” – Danielle, Holly, MI
Quality cat litter and baking soda combine to form one powerful odor-destroying team!

3. “Febreze/air-freshen in between each usage. – Jesse, Temple, TX
Many air fresheners available today will trap airborne particles that contain odors and reduce them on contact.

4. “Cover your litter box with a lid.” – Stacey, Newark, NJ
Covered litter boxes trap many of the odors that escape with open-air models. In fact, some manufacturers even include a lid with a built-in air filter!

5. “Place it in the bathroom or a laundry room, away from things like carpet or furniture that can absorb the smells.” – Cherol, San Francisco, CA
Cherol makes a great point here. Carpet, furniture, pillows and curtains can all absorb cat odors. Be careful if you hang clothing in your laundry room, however. You don’t want your clean clothes absorbing those smells!

Once odors are under control, the other thing cat-owners might worry about is the unsightliness of the litter box itself. Here are the top 5 ways to conceal a litter box:

1. “Place your litter box in a basement area.” – Jennifer, Somers, CT
As long as your basement is low-traffic/single-purpose, this is a great way to obscure your cat’s litter box. Remember, though, out of sight, out of mind: don’t let your litter box become overfull as pet health can be negatively affected.

2. “Use a litter cabinet to disguise your litter box.” – Teresa, city unknown
Many companies now make furniture specifically designed to hold litter boxes. Where visitors to your home might see an end table or small hutch; on the inside is kitty’s toilet.

3.“Build a ‘cat house’ that contains food, water, and a litter box all-in-one” –Shianne, city unknown
A similar idea as above, with the additional convenience of having all of your cat’s needs centralized in one disguised place. This is also handy for pet owners with dogs as well, who may try to steal kitty’s food or enjoy eating “kitty roca”.

4. “Place your litter box outside.” – Emily, Gary, IN
If hiding your cat’s litter box in your home or apartment is just simply not an option, there is always the great outdoors. Consider installing a cat door that your cat can escape through so they aren’t forced to rely solely on you—you’ll be glad you did to avoid those midnight interruptions!

5. “Don’t have one at all—toilet train your cat!” – Wesley, city unknown
Alright, you had to know that was coming! But it’s true; it is possible to toilet train your kitty. All you need is quite a few weeks, lots of patience and a toilet that can be off-limits to humans during the training period. Perhaps we’ll blog about it in further detail–or have Wesley–blog about it next time!
Add your ideas on our Facebook page, or learn more about Pets Best Insurance or cat insurance plans specifically.

How to compare cat insurance companies

Posted on: January 10th, 2011 by

A woman holds her cat after purchasing cat insurance.

When choosing a cat insurance plan, it is important to ensure that you compare each part of the plan. Some companies may offer better rates, but they often lack in the coverage they provide.

Some companies have a per incident deductible. This is the amount of money that you will have to pay out of pocket before the cat insurance will begin coverage. Policies with lower per incident deductibles will usually have a higher monthly premium, and vice versa.

The next thing you will want to look at is whether the company has a per incident limit. This is the maximum amount the pet health insurance will cover per incident after the specified deductible is met.

The lifetime limit is the maximum amount the plan will cover for the lifetime of the pet. This is important to look at in the event that your pet becomes sick with an illness that will need treatment for the rest of the pet’s life.

Other services that plans may cover can include hereditary conditions, behavioral conditions, pregnancies, and even cremation. Other treatments can include acupuncture and chiropractic services.

When you compare pet insurance companies, you also want to consider how much of the actual bill they pay after the deductible. The amount a company pays can vary depending on the condition being treated. Pets Best Insurance covers 80% after the deductible, while some other companies operate on a benefit schedule or a “usual and customary fee schedule.”