Using a Squirt Bottle on a Cat for Discipline – Good Idea or Bad One?

In this week’s podcast episode, I spoke to feline behavior specialist, Dr. Sarah Ellis,  about how to train a cat. You read that right. Cats CAN be trained – and they learn much more than you might believe – they can be taught things that will make your life easier and increase your cat’s welfare, such as how to make sure your feline likes his cat carrier and how to ease their fears about going to the vet. Listen to the episode here.

Dr. Sarah Ellis doing some initial training to teach a kitten named Batman to be comfortable in and around the cat carrier. (photo credit: Peter Baumber)

Cats learn best using the positive reinforcement method – this is where you reward the desirable behavior you are seeking with a delicious treat, toy or praise. They do not respond well to punishment.

If you have a cat, you know there are times that your cat does things that are less than desirable, such as jumping up on the dining room table that is set for company, waking you up in the morning by rattling papers, or scratching and chewing on furniture. (Oh, yes, my cat Willie did that. Chewed the corners right off of my bedroom dresser drawers that had been left a bit pulled out, in order to get my attention and wake me up while sleeping. )

A method that has become popular among cat owners when their cat is doing unwanted behaviors is to use a squirt bottle to shoot water at the cat to stop or deter them from the negative behaviors – like jumping up on counters and meowing in the morning to get attention.

Because this method is common, the perception is that this is an acceptable way to fix a problem and a good way to train a cat not to do certain things. Actually it is not.

What this technique does do –  is create frustration in the cat, cause them to be afraid of you which can affect your bond with your cat, (she needs to be able to trust you, not run from you out of fear,) and most counterproductive is that punishing teaches the cat to engage in the behavior when you’re not around.

What you need to know is no matter how troublesome a behavior is to you, it has a purpose for the cat. They do not do what they do to make you mad – yes, they may want your attention but they are not trying to piss you off. Take for instance if you squirt them for scratching on your furniture. Scratching is a normal and natural need for a cat, it can’t and should not be trained out of them. If your cat gets punished every time she does a normal behavior that is bred into her, she will continue to do it covertly.

What to do instead? First you’ll want to think about why and when your cat is exhibiting a particular behavior – then you can plan how to manage it.   The best way to preserve your sanity and your cat’s best welfare, is to manage, not punish a situation.

Wrecking your furniture? Do your homework and make sure you have the right kind and placement of a scratching post for your cat. There is much information about this online. You may need to use double-sided sticky tape on the furniture to save the arms of your favorite chair until your cat is happily using the scratching post.

In my case with Willie, his chewing on drawers was a way to wake me up before the alarm clock, which worked for him.  He got my attention, I would wake up to get him to stop. What I had to do, to break this habit, was make sure all the drawers were pushed completely in before going to sleep and then when he attempted the new thing, to bat at papers on the dresser which made a lovely, annoying sound, I had to remove and put any and all papers away,  and leave nothing out that made noise.

Dr. Sarah Ellis’s cat Cosmos, using a home-made puzzle feeder. (photo credit: Peter Baumber)

And most important, I had to start COMPLETELY ignoring him when he made any noise. Listen up, if you have a cat that meows relentlessly to wake you up. You cannot give in at all. Don’t open your eyes, don’t move a muscle, and don’t yell at your cat. This is all a form of attention –it’s negative, yet still attention for the cat. Any response on your part is reinforcing the behavior and they’ll keep doing it.

I had to think about, was Willie too hungry to wait one more hour to eat? I added a bit more food to his diet by leaving some kibble out in a puzzle feeder he could play with in the wee hours and finally, Willie realized I was not going to get up before 7:00 a.m. – waiting one more hour would not kill him, and he finally cut it out. Final REM sleep and dreams restored.

Regarding the cat who jumps up on the kitchen counters, listen to what Sarah Ellis, feline behavior specialist and co-author of the book, “The Trainable Cat,” suggests you do about this. It’s in Episode 43, Segment 2. Raising Your Paws podcast.  

Show Notes for Raising Your Paws Podcast, Episode 43.

Title: The Reasons Dogs Investigate Our Private Parts & Why You’ll Want to Train Your Cat.

Do you get embarrassed when you meet a new dog and the first thing they want to do is bury their nose in your crotch? Why do they have to do that? In this episode, I’ll tell you what the dog is doing – and it’s no different than what they do with other dogs – they’re simply finding out information about you – but not in the way you probably think.

Whoever hears about cat trainers? – And the common belief is that cats can’t be trained. But it’s not true. They can – and the benefits for an owner’s sanity and the cat’s welfare are plenty. Feline behavior specialist, Sarah Ellis, from International Cat Care, and co-author of the book, The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat, talks about why and how to train cats. Find out what to do so that your cat likes its carrier and how to make going to the vet easier.

When you’ve had too much to drink and wake up with a hangover, someone may suggest the “hair of the dog” – meaning take another drink! How did dog hair get associated with curing a hangover?   I’ll explain where this expression comes from.

Please rate and review the podcast. It really helps! Easy links to iTunes and Stitcher at:

Resources for the Episode.

Source for the Story about dog’s investigating our bodies. “How Dogs Think” by Stanley Coren.

Dr. Sarah Ellis.

Guest Speaker: Dr. Sarah Ellis, feline behavior specialist at International Cat Care.

International Cat Care Website.
Here are some links to the various things talked about in the show as resources from International Cat Care.

The handling videos can be found here on the link below:

Their YouTube channel

The advice section of their website can be found at wwww./

In terms of veterinary clinics being more cat friendly – the scheme in the US is run by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and is called Cat Friendly Practice. Here is the link:

Dr. Sarah Ellis Facebook page.

How to order “The Trainable Cat.” By John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis.

Source for story about the expression, “hair of the dog, “A Fine Kettle of Fish and 150 other Animal Expressions”. By Michael Macrone.




What To Do if Your Cat Overgrooms.

Is your cat licking and chewing themselves so much that there are bald spots?

Are you worried that your cat is grooming too much? Spending a few hours a day cleaning and washing themselves is a normal and beneficial activity for your cat but if you have noticed that patches of fur are missing from your cat’s arms or legs, there is a large bald spot on their tummy or your cat constantly bites or chews on a paw, this indicates that something is wrong.

A cat exhibiting excessive grooming (psychogenic alopecia.) Resulting baldness is noticeable around the abdomen, flank and legs. (photo by Steve Browne and John Verkleir)

What could be the cause?

First, it could be a medical issue. Take your cat to the vet.

You want to make sure there is no underlying medical condition that is causing this. For instance, if your cat has fleas or other parasites, it can cause your kitty to chew themselves raw. Hyperthyroidism (a glandular disorder caused by an excess of the thyroid hormone that causes weight loss, hyperactivity, and increased appetite) is another common reason for over grooming. A cat in pain may repeatedly lick or chew one particular area of the body in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. For example, if the bladder is causing pain, a cat can lick their belly stark naked. Excessive grooming can start as a response to fleas, an allergy, a food sensitivity or other skin condition. If your cat is licking itself all over, quite often, this is typical if the cat is feeling itchy. The licking that starts off as a way to relieve itching can become a habit which you don’t want your cat to develop. Because there could be other possible medical reasons, not listed here, don’t delay – get your cat checked out medically.

Or it could be a behavioral – emotional issue. If no medical cause can be found, the overgrooming is probably a behavioral issue and has become obsessive in nature. Constant licking and chewing is an anxiety – relieving mechanism – much like nail biting can be self-soothing for people. Excessive grooming is often a reaction to stress or trauma and the stress builds up so much that the cat must do something to relieve his anxiety – hence the constant washing.

You’ll want to identify what the trigger is for your cat because whatever is causing the cat to feel that anxious is the real problem.

What changes in your life or at home have there been lately? It could be a change in your work schedule, the addition of another pet to the house, the death in the family, other cats in the household or perceived threats from cats outside. It  doesn’t matter if strange cats don’t come inside the house, as long as your cat can smell and see the neighbor cat that keeps coming around, that is enough for yours truly to see the outsider as a threat. Other triggers can be if you recently moved to a new home – or made renovations to the house or the arrival of the new infant.

Think about if changes were made to your cat’s routine or environment because of a move or home construction or the arrival of additional pets or a new baby. Is there anything that has caused you to: feed your cat at different times than before, move the litter box or feeding station, change your cats usual sleeping place. All of these little things can cause stress.  Or…..on the flip side, your indoor cat could be extremely bored – with no activity or stimulation and this itself can trigger overgrooming.

What to do.

Minimize any of the above described adjustments that may have occurred to your cat’s routine or restore them as much as you can.

Provide as much stability and consistency and make his environment as stress–free,  as you can. If the dog barks at and relentlessly chases your cat, make sure the cat has access to safe areas where he can get away from the dog. A cat tree is perfect for this as dogs don’t tend to climb them. Does another cat in the house, torment him? Provide an area to eat and eliminate that is free from possible ambush. To determine if your cat feels anxious while eating, do this: when you place his food bowl on the floor, watch to see if your cat is constantly looking around, frequently stopping to check out her surroundings. If she does, then she is feeling insecure – move the feeding station to an area that is safe, perhaps on top of the cat tree or in a quieter, closed off room.

You may be tempted to try and comfort your cat through more holding and cuddling, but to effectively relieve your cats stress, a cat needs to feel in control of his environment.

Provide a lot more positive activity for your cat than before. Add more interactive playtime as part of his daily schedule. Two or three sessions of play together will help dispel his anxiety as well as building up his positive associations with his environment that might have been soured. And when you leave the house – make sure your cat has opportunities to find rewards and engage in healthy, anxiety relieving behaviors – so put activity toys – boxes or bags to play in and puzzle feeders with tiny yummy treats or kibble to extract,  around the house. Provide plenty of distractions to help your kitty pass the time when you are not home. Move the cat tree in front of a window so your cat can watch the birds.

When home, try to prevent your cat from indulging in the overgrooming habit as much as possible. Pay attention to when she demonstrates the give-away sign that she is beginning to lick herself and redirect her right then, into a short playtime with you. Grab that wand toy and engage your cat’s natural hunting abilities. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, this often can head off an obsessive grooming session before it begins. Bottom line – your cat needs a lot more stimulation from toys and lots of attention and play from you.

What about Medication? The medical term for the behavioral condition we’re talking about is called psychogenic alopecia. In certain cases calming medications along with behavior modification can help mitigate the behaviors. Your vet will advise you if anti-anxiety medication is required. Your vet may also refer you to a veterinary behaviorist, or certified animal behavior consultant (you can seek out their opinion yourself – see links below) in order to establish the most effective behavior modification plan for your cat’s specific circumstances.

To find a professional:

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists (AVSAB)

Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists.

Raising Your Paws Podcast – Episode Number 42.

Title: How a Cat Shows it’s Feeling Uncertain & Stories of Dogs that Apprehend and Detain criminals.

Full Show Notes for the episode.

Dogs lick their lips as a sign they are feeling uncomfortable, but what does it mean when a cat flicks its tongue out when there is no food around? I’ll explain what this gesture can indicate about a cat’s mood.

Then, in part two of my conversation with, Steve Pearson, a former police officer, SWAT commander and owner and trainer at Performance Kennels Inc. he tells stories about the police K-9 dogs that chase down, apprehend and detain criminals. Hear trade talk about how they learn their special skills and what it’s like to work with these special dogs.

What is the secret to dogs being able to sniff out explosives and narcotics even when smugglers commonly hide them in stronger smelling things to mask their odor? The answer has to do with another remarkable difference between canine and human noses. I’ll explain using the example of a pot of stew cooking on the stove.

Additional Resources.
Steve Pearson, Owner, Trainer at Perfornance Kennels, Inc.

Performance Kennels, Inc. Website.

Performance Kennels, Inc. Facebook page.

Source for story about dogs smelling narcotics. “How Dogs Think,” By Stanley Coren.





When Dogs Bark: Pet’s Speaking their Minds and Police K-9’s Alerting to Finds.

During a number of the Raising Your Paws podcast episodes, I’ve been talking about the different types of barking dogs do – how they sound, their meanings and solutions for dealing with the barking. In this last episode, Number 41, I was talking about frustration or boredom barking. (segment 3)  Listen to this episode here. Title: Training And Working with K-9 Police Dogs & Recognizing and Quieting Frustration Barking.

In the podcast, I promised that I’d let you know which episodes you can find the descriptions of the other kinds of barking. You’ll find that list to the episodes, in the resources section below.

But first, as a follow up to last week’s blog, about what dogs hear, one reader wrote in and told me about her dog, Baxter.

Bobbi writes,

“I read your article about noise and how dogs hear more high pitched sounds than humans. This must be why my puppy can’t hear me call him loudly, but can hear the sound of his NutriSource dog food bag being opened from several rooms away and comes running as fast as he can.”

Ah, full tummy, a good morning of playing hard, comfy couch. Time to relax…life is good.
Bobbi sent this photo of Baxter eating his NutriSource dog food. Must be tired after playing with all these toys- both paws and jaws in the food.  Yep, don’t be shy – get right in that bowl.  Why not?

For writing in and sending the photo of Baxter, Bobbi won a few free bags of our new Jerky dog treats. Congrats, Bobbi and thanks for sharing.

You could also be selected to receive some free treats. Let me know what you think of the podcast or the blog. You can leave a comment on any blog article and for sending a photo of your pet, dog or cat,  write me at




Do you know about the working Dogs – the K-9’s that help our police officers?


In episode 41, I also had a really cool guest, a former police officer and SWAT team commander who worked with K-9 ‘s (the name for patrol, narcotic and explosive, detector dogs ) as his partners over the years. Steve Pearson, now owns Performance Kennels, Inc. a company that selects and trains patrol narcotic and explosive detector dogs for law enforcement.  You’ve got to hear his stories about dogs that search for drugs and explosives, and apprehend people targeted by the police. He also talks about what it takes for a dog to be a K-9 and what its like to work with these special dogs.

Here are some photos of the K-9’s.

K-9, Diesel.

A bit about Diesel. 

After over 8 years of service to the Brooklyn Park Police Department, K-9 Diesel is pulling the pin after his last shift tonight. Diesel and his handler, we’ll call him “Jason” did an outstanding job serving the citizens and visitors of Brooklyn Park, MN. Diesel was a certified narcotics detector dog, a certified PD-1 (Patrol) dog, and was one of a few who earned a tracking Exceptional certification through the U.S.P.C.A. Diesel will live out his retired years with his family in their plush gated community that he is so used to. Outstanding job boys. Nothing else that can be said.


A Belgian Malinois. (not a K-9)
Here is one of the dogs from Performance Kennel’s Facebook page, a Shepherd/Malinois mix.

The two breeds of dogs that Steve Pearson, most commonly  utilizes are German Shepherds and a Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd cross.

To the right, is a Belgian Malinois, one of the Dutch shepherd dogs.






The dogs and the people who become their handlers go through extensive training to learn their craft.








Here are a few patrol K-9’s and the jobs they did.

Stearns Co. S.O. (MN) K-9 Gordo had a nice find the other day. “Routine” traffic stop and good police work lead officers to believe that illegal narcotics were concealed inside the vehicle. Gordo was deployed on a sniff and he alerted on the passenger door. Subsequent search yielded over 2 pounds of meth & a bunch of ecstasy. $1,100 of cash & a 2004 Audi were seized. 3 depressed occupants went to jail. Sad. Way to go Gordo.
K-9 Deekon (AKA Prancer) with the Clay Co. (MN) S.O. conducted a vehicle sniff a couple nights ago on I-94. The State Patrol had a vehicle stopped with a couple “dudes” in it from the left coast. (That’s California) Deekon alerted on the vehicle. Deekon then went into the vehicle and alerted to a bag containing clothing. The clothing had a heavy odor of marijunana however no marijuana or other narcotics were found. What the officers did find was $14,643 in cash, a pistol, and ammo. The cash was wrapped in foil. Deekon later alerted on the cash during a sniff back at the office. The cash, gun, and ammo were seized. It seems as though these dudes sold all of their dope in the Fargo – Moorhead area and were on their way home for more product when the State Patrol and K-9 Deekon interrupted their journey. Take THAT Stalker!
Moorhead P.D.’s K-9 Milo had a nice find the other day. Narcotics officers in the Fargo – Moorhead area developed a lead that suspected narcotics dealers were setting up shop in area hotels. K-9 Milo alerted to the presence of illegal narcotics in a particular hotel room. The subsequent search of the room lead to the recovery of $17,000 in cash, 13 pounds of meth, and 3 suspects going to jail. Excellent police work and fantastic utilization of a well trained K-9.







You can see many more photos of the dogs and handlers and the results of the finds the K-9’s made on Performance Kennels, Inc. Facebook page.  Enjoy!  I have. Please leave me a comment below, about the podcast and/or the blog. Thank you.

Resources for this Show:

Here’s where you can learn about the different kinds of barking I’ve covered so far.

Listen to the Raising Your Paws episode to hear the story about:

The Excitement bark – Episode # 11

The Fear bark – Episode # 19

Guard Barking – Episode # 27

The Warning bark – Episode # 12

The Growl – why you don’t want to stop your dog if it feels the needs to do this. – Episode # 15

Easy way to get to these episodes (and subscribe for free if you haven’t already) – scroll back up to top of blog page, see box with links to iTunes or Stitcher or google play.

Full show notes for Episode 41. Title: Training and Working with K-9 Police dogs & Recognizing and Quieting Frustration Barking.

When you take your dog’s photograph or bend over to pet him you might notice that your dog turns its head away from you. Your dog also does this at times when other dogs approach. This is not a random meaningless motion, it’s a signal. I’ll explain what your dog is saying through this gesture.

K-9 Police dogs and their handlers, assist law enforcement by searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding crime scene evidence, and apprehending people targeted by the police. What does it takes for a dog to become police dog and what is it like to work with a K-9? My guest today, is Steve Pearson, a former police officer and SWAT commander and owner and trainer at Performance Kennels Inc. a company that selects, and trains patrol, narcotic and explosive detector dogs for law enforcement. He tells on-the-job stories, and describes why German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois make such good detection dogs.

Then, how do you identify if your dog’s barking is about boredom or frustration? What can you do to address the problem and stop the barking? I’ll explain this and tell you the story of how my family inadvertently caused my beagle to bark continually.

Additional Resources for the Episode.

Resource for the story about a dog’s head turning: “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals” by Turid Rugaas.

Steve Pearson, owner and trainer, Performance Kennels, Inc.

Performance Kennels, Inc. Website.

Performance Kennels, Inc. Facebook page.

Resource for the story about frustration barking: “Barking, The Sound of a Language” by Turid Rugaas.




Why Your Dog Dislikes the Vacuum Cleaner.

Your dog hears things that you do not. Regarding some sounds, their hearing is hundreds of times better than yours, other sounds, you hear similarly. Where they excel is in the high-frequency range of sound. Dogs inherited this ability from their wild ancestors. Wolves, for instance add to their diet, by often preying on small rodents, like mice, voles and rats. They all make high-pitched squeaks and as they move around in their world of leaves and grasses on the ground, all that rustling also makes high-frequency sounds that alerts canines to their presence.

Our ears are tuned to sounds that are significant in our lives – the frequencies that correlate to hearing and decoding human speech, they fall in measurements of between 500 – 4,000 Hz and the peak sensitivity of your ear is adapted for a frequency right in the middle of the speech range – about 2,000 Hz. The maximum sensitivity for a dog is tuned much higher, at about 8,000 Hz. You are most likely well aware that your dog hears things you do not, when all of a sudden, they get up and go to the door or window looking for who is approaching the house, minutes before the doorbell is rung or the mail is dropped in the box.

In the book, “How Dogs Think,” by Stanley Coren, he makes a nice comparison of the difference in humans and dogs hearing abilities using a piano as an analogy.  If you wanted to get an idea of the highest notes a young person might be able to hear, you would add 28 more keys to the right–hand side of the piano, (the higher note side) however the majority of people would not hear those highest keys.  “As we age, the pounding of sound waves against the mechanism in our ears, cause mechanical damage and we lose the ability to hear higher-pitched sounds first.” (from “How Dogs Think”)

Hearing much higher pitched sounds than people, dogs ranges are between around 47,000 and 65,000 Hz. depending upon the dog. Getting back to that imaginary piano, that means you’d add 48 more keys to the right side of the piano to reach the top note a dog can hear.

The fact that dogs have a greater sensitivity to sound than humans do, especially in the higher frequencies explains why your dog may leave the room when you turn on the vacuum cleaner.  Common appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, motorized lawn mowers, and many power tools, cause distress for your dog.  Many of these machines, have rapidly rotating shafts on motors that run the fans, blades and bits which produce high frequency, “shrieks,” which can be painfully loud for your dog. With our less sensitive human ears, we remain blissfully ignorant of these shrieking sounds, not being able to hear the high pitched noise.

Another example of their sensitive hearing, I’m sure you are familiar with is, if you rip open a new bag of treats or food, no matter where your dog is in the house, they come running to the kitchen  to see what you’ve got.

Speaking of which, NutriSource Pet Foods, has a brand new treat available now – Jerky treats for dogs.

In the NutriSource line, it comes in four flavors with over 95% of meat with multiple proteins for yummy variety.

Lamb, Beef, & Kangaroo
Beef, Salmon & Turkey
Quail, Duck & Chicken
Wild Boar, Turkey & Salmon







And in the Pure Vita line, which is a single ingredient protein, it also comes in four flavors.

Salmon Jerky
Venison Jerky
Turkey Jerky
Beef Jerky






All of the jerky treats, have pumpkin in them which is naturally rich in fiber, and vitamin C and contain organic apple cider vinegar which naturally preserves and keeps the treats moist. Best yet, there are no added sugar ingredients in the treats.

If you’d like a free bag of the new jerky treats, write me at,and send a photo of your dog.


Listen to Raising Your Paws Podcast Episode 40.

Title: Reasons to See the Vet if your Dog Suffers Nighttime Anxiety & Why Cats Suck on Clothing.

Full Show Notes for the Episode.

In this episode, I’ll look at three instances where looks can be deceiving – the theme for this week’s show.

Does your cat pad her feet up and down on your chest or stomach which is called kneading? And/or ever suck on you or your clothing? Even though you know you are not a cat, and couldn’t deceive anyone, you don’t fool your cat. To them, you resemble its mother well enough that they engage in those behaviors with you. In this episode, I explain why and how.

Anxiety in a dog at night, can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease and often by the look of your dog, it results in this diagnosis – but it can also be something else. Don’t be fooled by appearances. My guest for this show, is veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Nicolas Dodman, author of two books spoken about during the show, Good Old Dog” and “Pets on the Couch.” He explains other reasons for your dog’s night time jitters and impresses on you why it’s so important to take your dog to see the vet.

Have you heard people say the dog attacked totally out of the blue – for no reason? Mostly, there are three very distinct reasons – the causes for dog aggression. Although most of us, don’t recognize the signs nor understand the triggers. In this episode, I tell the circumstances in which dogs actually do attack with no provocation at all. It does come from out of no-where that we can see – but not being visible is the clue for what is happening to cause a dog to go berserk. I’ll relate the experiences of Dr. Nicolas Dodman, from his book, Pets on the Couch.

 Please tell your friends about the podcast and subscribe for free on i-Tunes, or your favorite podcast app. Subscribe on Stitcher, for android phones here.

Additional Resources for this Episode:

Amazon link to: Good Old Dog: Expert advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy and Comfortable, Book by the Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Edited by Dr. Nickolas Dodman with Lawrence Lindner.

Source for the story about seizures in dogs: Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry. By Nicholas Dodman, DVM.

For more about Dr. Dodman. – Center for Canine Behavior Studies –





Title: Reasons to See the Vet if your Dog Suffers Nighttime Anxiety & Why Cats Suck on Clothing.

Do Humans and Pets Share the Same Emotions?

Yes, according to world renowned, primate behavior researcher, Frans de Waal, who I spoke to in this week’s Raising Your Paws podcast episode, number 39.  Dr. de Waal talks about many animals that experience empathy and that make up with one another after a fight.

During the conversation with Dr. de Waal, he talked about a video about an ape and a man that gave rise to the title of his latest book, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves.

Here is the famous video of the Chimpanzee named, Mama, close to the end of her life, greeting a man, Jan van Hooff, that she knew  throughout her life – for the last time.

Full Show Notes for Raising Your Paws Podcast Episode 39.

Title: Do Humans and Pets Share All The Same Emotions? & How to Tell When Cats Are Anxious.

When your dog raises its hackles does it always mean they are angry and upset? No, it does not. In this episode, find out what else your dog may be feeling when you see that distinctive sign.

Then, as a pet owner, you know your dog or cat has emotions such as fear, anger and happiness. But what about anxiety, shame, empathy, gratitude? Do dogs and cats feel all these? World renowned primatologist, Frans de Waal, author of, “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves” talks about the creatures that experience and act on the same emotions that you and I do.

Next, could your cat’s unusual behavior be due to an emotional problem? Regarding their emotions, cats can be surprisingly anxious. Here are some of the symptoms and signs to watch for.

Plus, have you ever wondered where certain animal expressions, such as “it’s raining cats and dogs”? come from? In this new feature, you’ll find out – and I’ll start with that one.

Additional Resources for the Episode.

Source for the story about raised hackles: Why Does My Dog do that? By Sophie Collins.

Amazon link to Fran De Waal’s book, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves”.


Dr. Frans de Waal.









For more information about Frans de Waal: Living Links: Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution.

Fran de Waal’s facebook page.

Blog Article: What Are Cats Saying?

Since we were talking about animal emotions, let’s explore what cats are saying through their numerous vocalizations.

A feline’s vocal apparatus differs from our own and is not designed for actual speech which is obvious, or your cat would certainly tell you the exact kind of litter he prefers to dip his paws into.   However cats do communicate with other cats, other animals and with us, their human companions. Cats “speak”  through body language, communicating feelings and intentions through their body postures and facial expressions as well as the sounds they make.

In 1944, American psychologist and cat lover , Mildred Moelk, wanting to better understand the cat’s vocal language, made a detailed study of cat vocabulary and found sixteen meaningful sounds, which included consonants and vowels. She produced a definitive list of 16 sound patterns made between cats and between cats and people.  She divided cat-sounds into three groups:

  1. murmurs made with the mouth closed
  2. vowel sounds made with the mouth closing as in “iao”
  3. sounds made with the mouth held open.

Moelk organized the vocalizations based on how cats formed the sounds and what she believed they most often expressed, which loosely translates to: “hello,” “pay attention to me,” “give me,” “please give me,” and “I like” or “I don’t like.”  Yep, that about sounds right to me from my experience with my late cat, Willie. And regarding the “Meow”, sound an adult cat uses pretty much for our sake, Moelk, identified, 6 different basic ones that convey: friendliness, confidence, anger, fear, pain and annoyance. I’ve heard that one!

Although emphasizing that these sounds are not words, Moelk said cats routinely change the duration, intensity, tone, pitch, speed and repetition to communicate their goals, desires and emotions:

Here are some interpretations of the various noises and vocalizations cats use: See which ones you recognize.

Kitten sounds:

  • Mew (high pitched and thin) – a polite plea for help
  • MEW! (loud and frantic) – an urgent plea for help

Adult cat sounds:

  • mew – plea for attention
  • mew (soundless) – a very polite plea for attention which is often a sound pitched too high for human ears and barely heard
  • meow – a plea for attention
  • MEOW! – a command!
  • mee-o-ow (with falling cadence) – protest or whine
  • MEE-o-ow (shrill whine) – stronger protest
  • MYUP! (short, sharp, single note) – righteous indignation
  • MEOW! Meow! (repeated) – panicky call for help
  • mier-r-r-ow (chirrup with lifting cadence) – friendly greeting
  • silent meow. Cat opens mouth and produces a sound so high pitched that you cant hear it. The guess is it could be a sign of affection.

Cats on the Prowl:

  • RR-YOWWW-EEOW-RR-YOW-OR – caterwaul – a yowl uttered by the male or a female in heat calling out to the tomcats.
  • merrow – challenge from one male to another male
  • meriow – courting call to a female

Mom cats:

  • MEE-OW – come and get it!
  • meOW – follow me!
  • ME R-R-R-ROW – take cover!
  • mer ROW! – No! or Stop It!
  • mreeeep (burbled) – hello greeting to kittens and disarming greeting to adult cats (also used between adult cats and humans)

Seventy years later, since the work of Mildred Moelk, experts agree that cats are communicating something to us –  although what,  is somewhat unclear. The most widely-held theory, developed over a decade ago by Michael J. Owren, PhD, is that cats use vocalization to influence or manipulate humans, not to deliver specific information.

“Cats produce meows to get attention and rely on the owner to infer what the cat wants,” explained Owren, a psychologist and professor who studied animal vocalizations until his death in January 2014.

“A person can pretty readily figure out what’s going on from the cat’s body posture — whether staring or other behaviors — so the cat doesn’t need to have a particular acoustic meow” for each situation, Owren said. “This is communication because it is using a non-linguistic signal to affect the behavior of others. The human response gets the cat what it’s seeking,” although it’s unknown whether the cat plans for specific reactions.

Loud, repetitive meows resemble general distress cries and do not convey emotions, Owren believed. “Cats are not producing distinct sounds that stand for individual emotions, but these sounds are triggered by the cat’s level of arousal. Like a child’s cries, it’s crude and sometimes counter-productive. It depends on the parent having an inherent level of caring,” he said.

Cats succeed with their vocalizations, whether the sounds are pleasant or unpleasant, Owren added. When cats purr, “which is very appealing to humans, [cats] want the humans to continue doing whatever they’re doing. When cats get excited, their loud meows are so annoying that people will do whatever they think the cat wants,” just to stop the noise.

Besides the meow that a mother cat uses to communicate with her kittens or the meow your cat makes as a  general all purpose attention seeking sound, here are some of the sounds cats make to communicate their state of mind. As cats all have individual personalities and will make up their own sounds as needed, you can probably add to this list.

  • Caterwaul – the cat wants sex!
  • Chatter – excitement, frustration e.g. when prey is out of reach or escapes (involves rapid teeth-chattering jaw movements). There are also other theories for this sound. The jury is still out on this one.
  • Chirrup – friendly greeting sound, a cross between a meow and a purr! (friendly greeting sound with rising inflection; familiar to most cat owners)
  • Cough-bark – alarm signal (rare in pet cats); like us, cats can cough both voluntarily and involuntarily)
  • Growl – threat, challenge, warns others to go away
  • Hiss (with or without spit) – threat, fear, warns others to back off
  • Mew (of kittens) – distress, hunger, cold (to attract mother’s attention)
  • Purr –   Purring is caused by vibration of structures in the throat. Although not strictly a vocalization, the purr is an important means of communication, and depending upon the cat’s situation, it can convey contentment, relaxation, pleasure or be placating  behavior (i.e. “I am not a threat to you”).  A loud purr invites close contact or attention. As well as purring when happy, cats also purr when severely injured, in pain, frightened or giving birth. A cat may even purr when close to death. At the vet, when cats purr, and are being restrained for procedures such as blood samples or X-rays, the cat may be indicating that he is easy to control, co-operative and does not need to be forcibly handled. This purr is likened to the behavior of a submissive cat attempting to avoid conflict with a larger, more powerful animal or human.
  • Scream – fear, pain, anger, distress
  • Squawk – surprise, shock (somewhat strangled sound)
  • Yowl – a threat, offensive or defensive, but also used in a modified form by some cats seeking attention when owner is out of sight
  • Squabble – a series of short and long meows and grunts made in a complaining tone that occur when a cat is moved or made to do something it would rather not do

The exact meanings of all of these sounds may be modified or emphasized by facial expression, tone/volume, frequency and body language depending on the current situation. Cats will use these sounds in different ways when communicating with humans and only your familiarity with your own pet will tell us for instance that a certain type of growl is a playful noise and not warning of an imminent attack.

One feature common to both cats and people is the use of a slightly raised tone of voice to indicate friendliness and a lowered tone of voice to indicate displeasure, aggression etc. Friendly chirrup and food-seeking miaow are usually uttered in a raised tone of voice while the low-pitched growl of a cross cat is undeniably unfriendly.

Volume is sometimes used for added emphasis (e.g. a strident miaow for urgency, a gentle “burp” for contentment). Cats which simply feel compelled to add their personal point-of-view to a conversation often do so in a neutral tone of voice to indicate that they are not being particularly hostile, nor unduly friendly, and that there is no great urgency about the subject matter.

Is your cat very talkative?

Oriental breeds, such as Siamese and Burmese cats are well known for being quite vocal and more talkative than others.  Siamese vocabulary includes “a very long mew of medium pitch” which is often emitted soon after the cat is let into a room. This is possibly purely conversational, serving to inform those in the room that it has arrived and is passing the time of day. A far more plaintive sound is made when cats wish to be let in or out, or to attract attention to themselves if they feel they have been unjustly ignored.

One Siamese cat I knew, named Shalom, could sustain his meow from the top of the stairs he had just climbed all the way down the long hall to my boyfriend, Steve’s bedroom. All without taking a single breath. It was one continuous, loud, monotone, plaintive  sounding merowwwwwwowwwowwwwwwwwowwwwwwowwwww lasting endless minutes. I think he was announcing to Steve – Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, I”ve had a rough day……all the mice got away………….where are you, need to lie dooooooooooooown, hope there is foooood in there……..I’m tired. You better open the door and let me in the room by the time I get to the end of this damn hallway, rrrrowwwwwwwwwww.

In cats attempts to communicate with us on our own level – we are quite vocal after all, talking to our cats like they are human, some cats even put together full “sentences” of noises and pauses. They might simply be joining in, encouraging and inviting you to talk back to them as most  domestic felines really enjoy this sort of attention and interaction from their owners.


Why Feed Bison to Your Dog.

Have you eaten bison? I had a bison burger and found it to be very yummy and since then have made spaghetti meat sauce with it a number of times. This meat has become very popular with people because of its rich taste and health benefits  in the red meat category.

Dogs love it too! In fact, the bison/chicken formula of dry kibble, named “Heartland Select”, made by NutriSource Pet Foods, had been stocked by many of our family owned and independent dealers and it used to fly off the shelves and into the eager mouths and tummy’s of dogs nationwide. Then, due to the high demand of bison for human consumption, the supply to the pet food industry rather dried up.  No matter how hard the Nelson family (who manufactures NutriSource/Pure Vita pet foods) looked, they could not get enough bison to make that particular bag of dog food. Perhaps, you were disappointed when you couldn’t find it anymore in the stores, and we’re sorry for that.

But, I’m happy to tell you, IT IS BACK. There are now more ranchers in the United States raising Bison and the company has a plentiful supply. It is being manufactured again in the family’s own plant so that you can once again find “Heartland Select” in the Ma and Pa, stores with which we partner. See the dealer locator here on our website, to find the stores near you where you can buy it.

Why is Bison a desirable protein?

Before we get to that, first, who is this animal?

American Bison.

Bison are a species of humpbacked, shaggy-haired wild ox that are native to North America and Europe.

Are bison and buffalo the same animals?

No, buffalo and bison are NOT the same animal. Early European settlers to the western United States referred to the large beasts as “bison” and “buffalo” interchangeably, and the name “buffalo,” though scientifically wrong,  stuck. Typically, the big shaggy animals that people call buffalo are actually bison, while true buffalo look more like large bulls. They are related – both are bovines, large, cattle-like animals,  but bison are in a different genus from buffalo and they have striking physical differences that tell them apart.

The American bison, is our continent’s largest land animal which can weigh up to 2,000 lbs. and is found only in North America.

It has an unusually massive head and a considerable shoulder hump, both of which are covered with thick, woolly fur. By comparison, the buffalo of Africa and Asia have no hump whatsoever, and their skulls are smaller than those of bison.

Bison is becoming recognized as a healthy alternative to beef as it is a leaner meat with similar taste and texture although bison tends to be somewhat richer, and sweeter.

The benefits of Bison as a source of protein are:

It has one of the highest protein contents of all meats. 

But it is still considered to be “lean” since it’s relatively low in saturated fat. That’s a result of the body structure of bison themselves as well as the practice of having them roam freely outdoors. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid — known as the “good fats.”

Bison is high in B vitamins (vitamin B2 and niacin.) 

These vitamins help convert the nutrients from foods dogs eat into the useable energy needed for their bodies as well as supporting multiple metabolic functions and overall brain health. 

It fights inflammation. 

Selenium is a necessary mineral that acts as an antioxidant and eating bison is another great way to boost your dogs intake. Selenium, a necessary mineral, acts as an antioxidant that fights inflammation, and helps prevent the oxidative stress that causes cellular damage and the aging process. 

It supports a strong immune system through zinc.

Bison meat is a great way to naturally acquire zinc. Zinc is critical for proper immune system and cellular functioning.

It helps prevent iron deficiency.

Bison meat is high in iron. It’s what gives the meat its bright red color that makes it noticeably different from beef or poultry. The iron in animal products is more absorbable than the kind found in plant foods and more effective for preventing low energy and other anemia symptoms.

A herd of Western Bison.

Finally, If you care about how meat is raised, you’ll be please to learn that bison are grass-fed, allowed to roam –  spending the majority of their lives grazing at home on the range, and are not given growth hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals. (It is illegal to use them).

The Bison used in Heartland Select is from Colorado, United States and some of it comes from Native American producers. Heartland Select also has humanely raised chicken as the second ingredient after bison.

The chicken we use is humanely certified  –  which means the food comes from farms where Humane Farm Animal Care’s precise, objective standards for the humane treatment of farm animals are implemented. This encompasses how the chickens are treated from birth to death which includes their safety and their food source. These standards include; space, no antibiotics, no animal by-products, no hormones, the ability for the animals to engage in natural behaviors and to go to their ends peacefully.

Would you like to try a free sample of Heartland Select ?

Write me at, let me know what you think of the podcast and we’ll get those samples out to you.

Full show notes for Raising Your Paws Podcast Episode 38.

Title: Signs Your Older Dog May Have Alzheimer’s & 4 Poisonous Foods for Cats.

It’s well known that certain human foods are poisonous for dogs – but what about cats? Are there human foods that are dangerous for them? Here are the top 4 foods cats should not consume.

Do you have an older dog? Do you know what healthy, normal aging is supposed to look like? World renowned veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Nicolas Dodman, and editor of Good Old Dog, Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy and Comfortable, talks about what you can expect and what to do to help keep dogs healthy in their old age.

In a “Why Does My Dog do that” feature, I’ll share a common behavior that lets you know your dog is trying to work off stress.

Resources for the Episode.

Amazon link to: Good Old Dog: Expert advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy and Comfortable, Book by the Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Edited by Dr. Nickolas Dodman with Lawrence Lindner.

The website Dr. Dodman mentioned: Center for Canine Behavior Studies –






The Five Subtle Warning Signals Dogs Display – Before They Bite.

In the last two episodes of the Raising Your Paws podcast, we were talking about how at times, dogs can see you as a competitor for something they want – like the hotdog they stole from the kitchen counter, or your favorite hat, or your child’s toy. And there are ways a dog communicates they just may bite you in order to keep it.

A key for preventing getting bitten or attacked in these cases is to learn and recognize the signs dogs use to let us know a bite or attack is imminent. 

Besides the slightly raised lip, this dog is using  three other warning signs to communicate, “back away from my chew toy or I may have to get physical with you to keep it.” Do you know what they are?

My guest, on the latest two shows, was dog aggression expert, Bryan Bailey, and the author of the book, “The Hammer: Why Dogs Attack Us and How To Prevent It.” He talks about the major reason dogs get aggressive towards people and the signs to watch for in episode 36. You can listen to this, but I have listed the signs for you to remember, below.

In episode 37 hear how a dog can quickly switch from defending an object to thinking they need to defend themselves and why this becomes deadly and then what to do to survive if you are attacked by a dog.


The 5 Subtle Signals Your Dog Uses to Warn You Before They Bite. 

Wolves use a series of ritualized body postures, facial and vocal signals to communicate their intent to attack –  before they actually do, in the hope that their warning, will be heeded by potential adversaries. The goal of those signals is to keep the food or protect the territory, or drive the competitor away etc., without having to resort to actual combat – which is a risky physical confrontation that can be hazardous to their health and life.

Your dog has the same inherited behaviors and survival strategies of wolves. Here is an example of how this could play out with your domesticated pooch and you.

Your dog is lying on the floor, happily chewing on a new bone that you gave him as a special gift. You figure the dog has had it long enough and its time for you to put it away.  You get up and start walking towards your dog. Your dog is on to you – in his mind –  just your approach  towards him demonstrates your obvious intent to take the prized bone away, but he does not know that you don’t want to eat it yourself or that he’ll getting it back later on.  In your dog’s eyes, you have just become a competitor for this highly valued item.

Since your dog, desperately wants to keep the bone to himself, but also wants to avoid physical contact with you, he will begin to systematically display a series of warning signals going from very subtle ones to increasingly ferocious ones if needed,  to tell you it’s MINE, you can’t have it and you’d better back off and go away or I might have to fight you for it.  Your dog is trying not to bite or fight!

You don’t even have to be meaning to take an object away.  One evening when I had friends over, my dog Rosy, displayed warning signs when one friend walked near her as Rosy lay on the floor gnawing on a dried beef tendon.  She calmed down when she realized Ivy didn’t want her treat – she only was on her way to the bathroom.

It is the subtle signs and signals that we tend to miss or not recognize,  and because we don’t notice them, we continue our behavior, like petting the dog that doesn’t want to be touched or reaching out a hand towards a strange dog or moving close to a dog with a coveted item that we want to take away and that’s what gets us into trouble.  Do yourself and your pet a big favor and start watching for what your dog is telling you.

The subtle warning signs that give notice of an impending bite or attack are:

Note the crescent moon shape of the white part of the dog’s eye and the ears pinned back. This dog is communicating possible aggression towards this cat.
  1. The body or torso of the dog may become stiff or rigid.
  2. The dog looks at you out of the corner of their eye. Called the “crescent moon” because this is the shape of the white part of the eye you can see.
  3. The ears have suddenly moved back.
  4. The tail has risen as fully high as it can go or dropped down below the parallel line of the dog’s body.
Notice the high tail position. This dog obviously is showing its teeth but may not always exhibit both signs at the same time.
Notice the base of the tail that falls below the parallel line of the dog’s back. This may occur without the more obvious barking and showing of teeth.









5. The eyes show a hard stare – sometimes described as “lifeless” eyes.

If these signals don’t work to make an opponent stop and back away, a dog will raise the stakes and display increasingly more aggressive actions.  These are the more noticeable and dramatic behaviors you expect from dogs.

  1. A deep growl, with fangs exposed.
  2. When guarding a valued item, the dog may straddle the object and increase the viciousness of the growl.

Any additional advance on your part towards the dog after seeing these last signs, will most likely result in an attack.

All of the above signs and signals are also used by your dog towards any other animal, dogs or cats that threaten them. By paying attention to this language of dogs, and responding in ways that will alleviate the conflict instead of increasing it, you can help protect yourself and others from dog bites that occur, all too often, from ALL sizes and breeds of dogs.

Full Show Notes

Raising Your Paws Episode 37  Title: How to Survive a Dog Attack and Why Your Cat Should Wear Glasses.

Do cats see in color? How does your cat’s eyes show you its mood? You’d think that cats have really good vision – but the truth may surprise you. I’ll take a closer look at those large, beautiful eyes feline eyes.

Then, if your dog picks up garbage to eat when you’re out walking, do you try to take it out of their mouth? To avoid getting bitten in the process, Dog aggression expert, Bryan Bailey, author of the book, “The Hammer: Why Dogs Attack Us and How to Prevent It” offers this caution. You’ll also hear exactly what to do if you get attacked by an aggressive dog, in order to survive.

I’d love to hear your feedback about the podcast and at the same time you’ll be helping us grow the show –  by rating and reviewing it.

It’s best to do so at i-Tunes. Here is the link to the page. Click, “View in i-Tunes” and then “Ratings and Reviews.” Thank you so very much.

Resources for this Episode.

Source for the story about cat’s eyes. What Your Cat Knows, by Sally Morgan.

Bryan Bailey’s Website.

Bryan Bailey.










Amazon link to order The Hammer: Why Dogs Attack Us and How to Prevent It.

Bryan Bailey’s “Taming the Wild” Training and Boarding Company.

When A Dog’s Sweet Tooth And Cars Collide & How Feb. 26 Has Meaning for Pets Worldwide.

Dogs like sweet things. If they grab a cookie or two, no big deal. But Canines commonly become poisoned – dangerously so,  when they consume automobile antifreeze.  

In this week’s Raising Your Paws podcast, episode 36, Title:  How Good is a Dog and Cat’s sense of Taste & Why Dogs Attack People and How to Prevent it,  you can hear  all about your pet’s taste buds and what they taste compared to you.  

Both you and your dog can taste sweet things and unfortunately the ethylene glycol in antifreeze tastes very sweet to a dog and they like and are attracted to it. Have you seen those green colored puddles of liquid under cars or left in parking spaces? I used to see them all the time, in the parking lot, when I lived in my condo with Rosy. We steered clear of them.  Leaks from the car’s radiator or coolant system leaves those puddles of antifreeze on driveways, on the street and on the floor of your garage. By the way, dogs that are housed  in garages, even just part time, are at greater risk of antifreeze poisoning.

Most dogs that are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze, will lick it directly from the containers or puddles they find but other dogs can become indirectly poisoned as they clean up their soiled paws and fur.  A cat is not attracted to the sweet taste but if it gets on its paws, it will lick it off when they are washing themselves. It is more common for dogs to become poisoned than cats. As little as ½ cup can kill a small to medium sized dog but one teaspoon can kill a cat.  Studies in U.S. suggest that between 10,000 and 30,000 dogs die each year of this type of poisoning and the cases seem to increase twice a year as people add antifreeze in fall and remove it in spring. 

Signs of Antifreeze Poisoning:

Early signs are drunken looking behavior such as wobbling and staggering then vomiting and diarrhea can follow.  The symptoms do go away within 12 hours…but this does not mean the danger is passed. It gets worse, the digested antifreeze travels to the liver where it is broken down into toxic by-products.  Those by-products then travel to the kidney which causes it to shut down and the dog and cat will no longer be able to urinate.  Once this happens, the pet can go into a coma and die.  As you can tell, this is serious, scary, stuff.  The fatality rate is high and so if your pet laps up any amount of antifreeze, take immediate action –  even if you only suspect they got into it.   

What To Do First:

Call your vet immediately or the ASPCA poison control center – 888-426-4435  to determine if you should induce vomiting. You only want to induce vomiting if your pet is fully conscious and in complete control.  Woozy “drunk” pets can inhale the vomited material when it’s on the way up and suffocate.  If your dog is acting drunk or depressed, just get to the emergency vet right away.

To induce vomiting: Use a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution.  You can buy hydrogen peroxide at any drug store or the drug departments in grocery stores.

The dosage is about 1- 2 teaspoons for every 10 pounds of your pet.  Use an eyedropper or cooking baster to squirt the mixture to the back of your pet’s tongue.  The foaming action and taste is what triggers the gag reflex which causes the vomiting. Your pet should vomit within 5 minutes – if not, repeat 2-3 more  times allowing 5 minutes between doses.   

Then Get Medical Attention Immediately.

Remember,  the symptoms go away but the damage is still going on in your pet’s body.  There is effective treatment that the vet can do if it is started soon enough.

 A Safer Antifreeze Alternative/Preventative to Use.

Purchase and use the less harmful type of antifreeze -a propylene glycol-based one for your car.  Propylene glycol is not totally non-toxic but is considerably less poisonous than ethylene glycol. It’s also not as sweet tasting so it is not as attractive to dogs.  And great news for the car, there appears to be no performance differences between ethylene and propylene glycol antifreeze, so it’s a no-brainer choice  to keep your dog’s love of sweet things and habit of eating from off the ground, free from harm.   

 What is so important about the month of February for Pets? 

It’s February 26 as I’m writing this blog. Is it raining cats and dogs? No, but there are wild dogs and cats on the streets –millions of them, world wide.

A group of homeless cats on a city street hunting pigeons.

Have you seen groups of feral cats living by you or when you travel? Do you have populations of homeless dogs roaming the streets where you live? Pet overpopulation is an issue all over the world.  In the U.S. alone, 30 million puppies and kittens are born each year. This means there is the  ratio of seven pets born for every human birth. At this rate, there will simply never be enough available homes for all these companion animals. Estimates now suggest that only one out every 10 animals born will find a permanent home. The current estimate of homeless dogs worldwide is over 500 million, with the number of homeless cats likely even greater.

Street dog overpopulation occurs in many countries around the world. A few examples to give you a more worldly view: if you were watching the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi you may recall coverage about the overwhelming pet overpopulation problem that exists in Russia, and stories of many athletes that attempted to bring pets home to their own countries.

Feral dogs foraging in rubbish on a Mumbai, India beach.

On the popular paradise island of Mauritius, there is an estimated quarter of a million of dogs, most of whom are owned,  but are free to roam the streets and beaches and in certain places such as the hotels, they are sometimes considered a nuisance. Thousands of puppies are born on the streets of Mauritius each year because most dog owners don’t sterilize their dogs. The people of Mauritius are known to love their dogs, but many simply don’t have access to local veterinary care to prevent the endless number of puppies being born, and responsible dog ownership has never been taught in many communities. This is changing now. Thousands of dogs and puppies are being spayed and neutered as part of the animal charity, Humane Society International’s mission,  to help the government humanely reduce the number of dogs roaming the streets, beaches and hotels. Education and awareness talks are also being provided.

Companion animal overpopulation is a complex problem spanning issues of human health due to the potential spread of zoonotic diseases to financial burdens placed on nations worldwide to the millions of domesticated cats and dogs globally, surviving without homes.

Due to the complexities, many governments and local authorities implement sporadic mass culls where dogs are killed. As well as being cruel, culls are ultimately ineffective because although they produce immediate results, over time they simply provide a vacuum in the local dog population to be filled by more breeding and other dogs moving in to the area.

So what is the solution? Currently, it is well accepted and supported that the only long-term effective and humane means of pet population control and decreasing the number of homeless animals put down in shelters or living on the street worldwide, is through targeted, affordable spay and neutering programs

Today is World Spay Day. (Feb. 26) It kicks off a month of awareness and the promotion of dog and cat spay/neuter programs. Preventing litters reduces the number of animals for whom resources such as homes, constant food and care are not available.

Most people support spay/neuter, but affordable services are out of reach for many pet owners, and funding is always needed for street animal surgeries.

To this end, veterinarians are well-known for passionately supporting such programs, often offering discounted procedures and organizations such as World Vets run programs for volunteer veterinarians and technicians to travel to countries such as Nicaragua and Paraguay to perform large-scale spay and neuter programs.

Then there are local, organizations, who are helping, such as Minnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program, (MN SNAP) whose mission  is to end the suffering and death of Minnesota cats and dogs due to overpopulation by providing both high-quality, affordable and accessible spay and neuter services to those in need, and animal welfare education in the communities they serve. 

One of MN SNAP’s clients. A sweet  cat, Moo Moo.
Another one of MN SNAP’s clients, a pit bull puppy. 










They provided the materials for this article. Thank you, MN SNAP.

Besides addressing the overall pet population problem, there are other physiological benefits to spaying and neutering our pet dogs and cats, which is why vets, breeders and adoption agencies suggest or require it.

Here are few of them from the MN SNAP website.

*   Neutering male cats and dogs decreases urine odor and marking behaviors.
*   Neutering male dogs decreases the tendency of roaming and aggression.
*   Spaying and neutering decreases the risk of dog bites.  (* regarding dog bites, Listen to the second segment of Raising Your Paws podcast episode 36 – Why dogs attack people. Time stamp: 11:33. One of the reasons has to do with this photo below.)

*   Spaying and neutering pet’s decreases behavioral problems.
*   Spaying and neutering reduces the number of pets killed in shelters.

For more information about MN SNAP, and to see the numerous links they provide if you’d like to read more, please see Minnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program’s website.

It is good to know that many countries, states and cities offer free or low cost spay/neuter programs for the public. Check your local listings or on-line for agencies near you that can help.

Full Show Notes for Raising Your Paws Podcast Episode 36.

Title: How Good is a Dog and Cat’s sense of Taste & Why Dogs Attack People and How to Prevent it. Listen to the episode here.

You know your pet loves food but have you ever wondered what they actually can taste compared to you? I’ll explain the similarities and differences between your taste buds and dogs and cats. Did you know that there is a fifth identified taste detector on your tongue that you share with your pets?  Find out what it is here.   

Talking about dogs biting people is a disturbing issue.  Contrary to what many people think and you may have experienced, there are very specific reasons that dogs bite and attack people. Dog aggression expert, Bryan Bailey, author of the book, “The Hammer: Why Dogs Attack Us And How to Prevent It” will explain how dogs have retained the survival strategies of wolves, the subtle signs that dogs give that an attack is coming and how you can prevent dog bites and attacks.

 Resources for this Episode.

 Source for the story about pet’s taste buds – How Dogs Think by Stanley Coren.

Bryan Bailey’s Website.

Bryan Bailey.


Bryan Bailey’s “Taming the Wild” Training and Boarding Company.

Amazon link to order The Hammer: Why Dogs Attack Us and How to Prevent It.



For Training with Food Rewards, Use Yummy And Nutritious Treats.


Photo credit: Can Do Canines.

In the latest episode of Raising Your Paws podcast number 35, my guest, Alan Peters, the executive director  of the organization Can Do Canines, talked about how they train assist dogs to do highly specialized jobs in order to live with and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. Wait until you hear about the skills these dogs know how to do. Wave a magnet over the neck of a woman so that her seizures stop? Cross the legs of a small boy who can’t move them himself? Yep, and there’s much more they can do. It puts my training of Rosy to jump up and stay on a platform to shame. And I still don’t even get a consistent “drop” from her – I’ve got to get serious after learning what dogs are really capable of doing.  Listen to the episode below. For hearing the segment about the assist dogs go directly to timestamp:  09:07

Anyway, the majority of how the “Can Do Canine” dogs  are trained to do such things like going to get the phone and bringing it to their person so that they can call for help when they fall or alerting their person with hearing loss that there is some important sound they need to know about, is accomplished through positive reinforcement training and using food treats as the reward.

Photo credit: Can Do Canines.

At NutriSource pet foods, they have been busy making a greater variety of  delicious and highly nutritional treats for both dogs and cats that are perfect for training your pet. Yes, you can train a cat.

Ok, not saying we’re going to train your kitty to do this.

Let me know in the comment section of this blog, if you’d like me to do a podcast segment about that topic- cat training.

One of the latest new treat products they are making is the tasty,  freeze dried treats for both cats and dogs that come in a wide selection of different meats.

Its always helpful to know exactly what ingredients are in a food and what the source of the good nutrition happens to be. Since there are a number of nutritional benefits to these treats besides being a really handy size and texture for training your dog to fetch the TV remote, let’s get to it.

Firstly, these treats are made with a single source protein. Only the one meat that is clearly indicated on the package. This is good because if there are some proteins your pet cannot eat or does not like, it’s isolated for you and you can choose another one. If Barney the beagle is so allergic to chicken he breaks out when just seeing a picture of one, no problem – there is venison or duck or turkey or beef or wild boar or Alaskan salmon as options. Is Caterina the cat, finicky about anything with beef in it? Perfect, try the minnow, ahi tuna, Alaskan salmon duck liver or turkey. 

Having a single meat, not a mixture of proteins also offers your pet a variety of distinct tastes. Its boring tasting the same thing over and over and over again, don’t you think?  It’s more fun and a pleasurable experience for your dog to savor a salmon treat one time and then your cat devour a duck tidbit the next. Hey, pets have a good amount of taste buds too!  Rosy, my dog has eaten the duck and the venison treats so far, and both were winners. We’ll try all the rest of the flavors soon.

A treat that combines a yummy taste and high quality meat is fabulous but lets not skip nutrition. These treats are made using a process  – they are flash frozen, and slowly freeze dried ( that was a mouthful) that preserves the ingredients nutritional integrity and thereby delivers optimal bio-availability.









Okay, whats that?  Bioavailability is the ease and effectiveness with which any nutrient makes its way from the food you or your pet eats into your or your pet’s body.  It’s a journey  every nutrient takes that involves first, being digested or broken apart so that the nutrient can be freed from the food that contained it.  Once the nutrient is released then the second part of its journey involves the absorption of the nutrient from the digestive tract into the rest of the body so that is it able to have an active effect.

When a nutrient is highly bioavailable, it can be digested and absorbed a high percentage of the time and in a dependable way.  Poor bioavailability means the digestion, absorption or both can be difficult and much less predictable. The ability of the body to effectively absorb and use all the possible nutrients from a food  is the corner stone of optimal nutritional bio-availability. And it follows to reason that foods with good bioavailability are the most desirable and these treats are!  A big yum to health!

Ask your local pet supply store for NutriSource/Pure Vita Freeze Dried treats.

And, learn more about them at our website: Click here for the dog treats. Click here for the cat treats.

Look at the ingredients in the treats. You will see they contain only the meat listed on the package and then in some of the treats, you will see the ingredient, mixed tocopherols. No mystery here. This is essentially a form of vitamin E and being mixed provides a combination of the different kinds of necessary tocopherols which are simply anti-oxidants that stabilize cell membranes. increase immunity, and reduce disease.

Happy and healthy training or snacking.

 Show Notes for Raising Your Paws podcast episode 35.

Title: How to Help Dogs Terrified by Thunder & Stories of Canines Whose Specialized Job Skills Save People’s Lives & the Best Way To Play With Your Cat.  

 Have you ever wondered why many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms? I explain what your dog hears compared to you, reveal the most important role you play during storms and then offer a few things you can do to help calm a petrified dog.    

Then, we’ll hear more stories from Alan Peters, the executive director of Can Do Canines, an organization in Minnesota that trains dogs to perform customized, one-of- a-kind skills that make all the difference in the lives of people with certain disabilities. In part two of our conversation (part one is in episode 34) you’ll hear about the astonishing things dogs do, such as helping a wheel bound boy move his legs, and saving a woman from the constant need to call an ambulance to stay alive.  

Did you know that how you play with your cat can have a big influence on its happiness and in preventing or remedying behavior issues? The secret is having a particular type of toy and then knowing the best way to move it so that it engages your cat’s natural hunting skills. I’ll explain how to activate this most important “prey sequence” so that you both reap the benefits

If you enjoy the podcast, please tell your friends about it. They can subscribe for free and the easiest way to do this is to go to the podcast website,

 Resources for the Episode.

 Check out the website for more information on The Tellington TTouch – a method for calming your pets.

Can do Canines website.

Guest, Alan Peters, with his dog Sam.








Source for the story on thunderstorms: The Secret Lives of Dogs by Jana Murphy and editors of Pets: Part of the family.

Source for the story on a cat’s prey sequence:  The Cat Whisperer by Mieshelle Nagelschneider.


Why Your Kitten Attacks Your Ankles.

Does your kitten bite your ankles? My cat Willie used to do this to people- mostly when my guests or sister would come over to visit.  Willie would lay in wait until the person walked by  him, and then with no warning or provocation, he’d pounce and land on their feet with the clutching of his paws and the biting with his jaws. Ouchh!  would cry my visitor. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” I’d say time and time again. “I don’t know why he does that.” This happened, especially to my sister –  whose shoes were enemy number one for Willie. He’d attack them with military precision and regularity. Willie’s been gone a long time now, and after researching and reading a lot about cats, I have a good idea of what that was about. If you’ve heard  my story of how Willie came into my life,  you’ll know I raised him from being a few days old. He never had a feline mother and no cat littermates. He grew up with cottontail rabbits. I was his mother. Listen to the story here – (episode 30, third segment, timestamp: 34:55.)

Normally, a cat spends his first 2-3 months with his mother and siblings, and spends a lot of time play-fighting, and pretend hunting. His mother and littermates, teach the kitten the rules of cat etiquette, when it’s being too rough, when the play is getting out of paw, and when it’s time to stop all the nonsense.  

Mom will discipline kitty with quick sharp, nips and the siblings will stop playing, if the kitty gets out of control. This way the kitten learns what is and what is not acceptable behavior. I did not know this. I was not a total loss at teaching rules. I did teach Willie not to jump on counters, to drop that chipmunck in its mouth and to come to me when I called even it he was outside on an adventure. I just didn’t know about teaching bite control.

Did you get a kitten when they were just a few weeks old? Many times, kittens are taken away from their mothers too soon and they did not have the time to learn to control the rough housing that the mother would have taught. So then, if you have a young 6 week old kitty, when they play fight with you, of course, their tiny little teeth and claws don’t bother you too much as they chew on your feet and hands, and we tend to ignore it. How would we know that a real cat mother would discourage it!  We don’t – and to the kitten, when we let them do this, without realizing it, we are teaching them that nipping and scratching is allowed.  Then as they grow bigger and their claws and teeth get stronger, those ambushes and bites start hurting a lot more and they are capable of drawing blood, as I can attest to from Willies’ surprise attack missions. A kitten can even start to associate someone with fighting behavior, and so the sight of them can trigger the prey drive and an attack. After all your feet and ankles are highly attractive moving targets.

I think this is what happened with my sister and her feet.  Every time she came over, it became a habit. There was Willie, latching on to her shoes with his teeth as she came in the doorway. Then he’d break away a bit as she walked into the living room, circling to get the best angle for the next launch and grab as she slowly made her way to sit down. It was all great fun or a threat or who knows what was really in his mind. But as his mom, I had never redirected him away from this continual onslaught.

So, when you have a kitten and it is biting you, be the mom! Teach your kitty to control its bite. Kittens that are allowed to bite when young, are much more prone to bite when they are older.  Being a cat mother and practicing discipline can be trying but start teaching them right away.

Every time your kitten bites, look at her and say “no”. You don’t have to yell or shout. Say it quietly, calmly yet firmly. If you do yell in anger, your kitten will just run away, scared, and you’ll lose the teaching moment.

If she does not stop, either tap her on the nose or place your hand on her head and hold her somewhat tightly which is similar to what the mother would do when she immobilizes the kitten with her paw.

When your cat stops biting, praise her in a gentle voice.  You will get many chances to practice this often. Just like human babies, kitties like to bite and mouth things.

When your cat is very excited and seems about to bite, stop all your movement because any moving will just excite her further.

And what can you do when your cat has a hold of you and is ripping up your ankles or your arm?  First, if your cat has its paws wrapped around you and its teeth are sinking into your skin, do not pull away or run.  Gently push your leg or arm towards his mouth and then keep still.  This movement confuses the cat and causes him to release the grip.  Once he lets go, continue to stay still and ignore him until he moves away. You are teaching that biting flesh is an immediate end to the fun.

Finally, make sure you are giving the cat enough other, external stimulation – plenty of opportunity to play with and hunt things –  that are not you. I know you know this, but you’ve got to play with your cat – they need to burn energy – so engage your cat with interactive play sessions twice a day. Get them moving with the stick or pole type toys that you swish around  that have the fake bug, bird or mouse at the end.

Raising Your Paws Podcast Episode 34 – Full Show Notes.

Title: Stories of Dogs with Very Special Jobs –Helping People with Disabilities & How Gazing into one Another’s Eyes Is Good Chemistry for You and Your Dog.    

 Is there such a thing as good chemistry with a dog? Science is proving that both you and your dog’s brain chemistry is changed for the better by certain interactions. Find out which chemicals are involved and when this happens.

Does your dog fetch your newspaper for you? Wait until you hear what specially trained dogs can do to help individuals living with challenges, such as hearing loss or childhood autism. Alan Peters, the executive director of Can do Canines, an organization that provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities, tells stories of people’s lives that are transformed by these dogs.

Does some of your cat’s behavior baffle you? In this “Why the cat does that” fun facts feature, you’ll hear the answers to why your cat makes a chattering sound when seeing birds out the window, why your cat gets the zoomies – running around like crazy at times and why your cat sticks his rear end up in the air and raises his tail near you when you pet him.

 We’d like your feedback. Please write me at to comment on the podcast and if there is anything in particular you’d like to hear in future episodes. Thank you.

  Resources for the Episode:

Source for the story: Chemistry with your dog: How Dogs Think: Inside the Canine Mind. Time Special Edition

Can Do Canines website.


Alan Peters, and his dog Sam.