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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Box of 'Chocolates' for cats and dogs

Quick and easy homemade cat and dog treats, grain free, hypoallergenic



This a super simple way of making your pet treats for a special occasion. I got the idea for these because it was my friends dogs birthday and thought it would be cute to give a unique present. The great part about these treats is that you can alter them to suit you pets needs, taste and dietary requirements.
Below I'll give an example of the ingredients I used for both cats and dogs. 




Basil the Pom and Boots Wayne






For dogs you will need:

  • Empty box of chocolates 
  • Half a banana
  • Their normal wet/dry food
  • Coconut oil 
  • Peanut butter (100% peanuts)
  • Carrot/apple



Empty tray for cat and dog treats



Coconut oil and peanut butter treats for cats and dogs





For cats you will need:

  • Empty box of chocolates 
  • Their normal wet food
  • Coconut oil
  • Treats/dry food
  • Pinch of grated mozzarella 

Hodor the cat waiting for treats



How make these treats:

  • Combine your chosen ingredients in a bowl.
  • Spoon the mixture into the empty tray.
  • Decorate the treats with carrots, apple or treats/ dry food.
  • Leave in the freezer for at least 3 hours or overnight.
   


*Tips*-  You can hide things like supplements inside the treats as long as freezing or chilling does not compromise /alter the nutritional value. 
            - Adding hot water to the mixture or heating coconut oil in the microwave will help with mixing.



Homemade pet treats, healthy DIY treats





Homemade treats for cats and dogs, box of 'chocolates'


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Training cats



Yes, cats can be trained just like dogs can. People have been so shocked when I've told them  that my cats can sit and give the paw.
They are all desperate to know how I taught them, the answer is pretty boring.... 'Just like dogs'.
In truth you can teach pretty much any animal using the same techniques I talked about in my Training Basics post


Hodor the cat window gazing


It's no well kept secret or anything you just need to know a few basics like what motivates them  to work/learn. I've taught other animals like goats, donkeys, guanaco and even a turkey and chickens to do tricks. Believe it or not even goldfish can be taught to do tricks( and remember them lol).



So why do people think cats can't be taught?
Well because we had dogs. Dogs have a much longer history with us and nearly every breed originally had a job, which involved some degree of training/teaching.
Cats on the other hand starting hanging around us to kill rats and mice for food, which we appreciated so we kept them around, now we keep cats for companionship for the most part. Things are slowly changing for cats, and we are even starting to see them as service animals. This is something I'm excited about as it does wonders for changing peoples conceptions of cats as 'disloyal' or 'sneaky' etc.



Hodor the cat all snuggled up





If you enjoyed this post please feel free to subscribe for posts about cats and dogs.
Can your cat do any tricks? Leave me a comment down below.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Peanut and Banana dog cookies

Homemade dog cookies, peanut butter and banana




Ingredients:

  • 3 teaspoons of coconut oil 
  • 1 teaspoon of parsley
  • Half a mug of white rice
  • 6 tablespoons of oats
  • 2 bananas
  • 3 teaspoons of peanut butter (100% pure peanuts)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of uncooked rice
Leave it, dog zen, malamute
Leah exercising self-control




Recipe:

  • Boil the kettle
  • Add half a mug of rice to a pot
  • When the kettle is boiled, fill the same mug with hot water and add to the pot
  • Turn to a high heat and when it reaches boiling point turn off and leave to cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 200° C /390° F
  • In a large bowl add the coconut oi, peanut butter, parsley, oats, peeled bananas, uncooked rice- mix and mash all the ingredients together. 
  • Line a baking tray with tin foil
  • Melt some coconut oil in the microwave and pour/spread over the tin foil
  • Add the cooked rice to the bowl and mix.
  • Shape as desired and put on the baking tray.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
  • Leave to cool
  • You can 'ice' the treats with peanut butter if you like. 

Pawprint shaped peanut butter and banana dog treats


If you have large dogs and small dogs/cats then the shape I used for the treats could serve as a great portion size. The heart shaped part of the paw for large dogs and the 'toes' for small dogs/cats.

These homemade treats are fairly healthy for dogs, the coconut oil has many benefits including promoting a glossy coat and it could even help with arthritis.
The parsley could help with 'doggy breath'.
Peanut butter is a source of protein and contains vitamin E.
The oats are a good source of fibre.


Use a peanut butter that is low in sugar or and ideally sugar free and that does not contain xylitol (this is toxic to dogs)

Remember when feeding this cookies that they are a treat, and to feed in moderation.





Check out our Youtube video of when we made these treats and see what our gang thought of them: https://youtu.be/_mXkknsql80

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Thursday, 26 January 2017

Whiskas Denabite review. Do they improve feline dental health?


Black and white cat yawning


I have seen a fair bit of advertising for Denabites and they are in tons of local shops and pet stores.
So I decided to purchase some to see if they would help Hodors teeth (which have a minimal amount of tartar, I'd like to keep it that way).

He was definitely excited by the treats and loved the taste, but to my disappointment he didn't even chew a single one. Yep, he just swallowed them whole. This automatically rendered the treats useless in terms of dental care. Now I did use them for training and put some in his food dispensing toys as they are bigger than regular dry cat food, so they make for a bit of more a challenge/brain game to knock out of the toys and keep him busier for longer.


Whiskas dentabite packaging and price


On the back they of the packaging they recommend that you feed 16 pieces per day, which is a lot in my opinion, so if your cat does chew them make sure to adjust how much you feed them in order to prevent weight gain.


I did contact Whiskas via Facebook and told them about what happened and they suggested that I feed several pieces at once to encourage chewing, this was something I had already tried and unfortunately it didn't work. I also tried them out on my other cats Boots and Marie and neither chewed them.


Lets have a quick look at the ingredients:
  • Cereals are the first ingredient, meaning that the treats contain more cereals than any other ingredient, cats are obligate carnivores meaning they require high amounts of meat/animal sources in their diet.  Also they do not say which cereals they contain which means they might change it from batch to batch depending on what is cheapest at the time, it also means that if your cat has any dietary allergies or sensitivities you probably won't be able to use these.
  • Meat and animal derivatives are the second ingredient listed including 15% chicken. It doesn't list what other meats the treats may contain, it also doesn't clearly state which form the chicken was in before processing i.e chicken meal, fresh chicken, chicken hearts or liver etc.
  • The rest of the ingredients(oils, fats, herbs, seeds) follow the same pattern, non specific, which again means they likely change it up from batch to batch. 


Whiskas denabites packages and ingredients




Overall I was fairly let down by Whiskas Denabites as they didn't serve the purpose for which I purchased them. The ingredients are not really something I want to feed my cats if it only serves as a treat and would it would be cheaper to buy other, more nutritional food as a treat. I don't think I will be repurchasing theses again anytime soon I'm afraid.




Black and white cat grooming itself

Monday, 23 January 2017

Training basics

Methods of teaching/ training

Luring

  • Can be used  to teach things like sit, lie down, spin and jump.
  • Luring involves using food (usually) to guide the animal to perform the desired behaviour or trick. For example holding food and raising your hand over the dogs head so that they back into a sitting position.

training cats and dogs
Hodor and Basil sitting like pros for coconut oil 

Capturing

  • Can be used to teach things like speak, eye contact, be quiet and tricks like lip licking.
  • Capturing is almost like taking a picture of the behaviour you want repeated. It means that it is the full behaviour and one that the dog/cat does 'naturally'. For example, if you wanted to teach your dog to 'speak', you would reward them for barking, after several trials you would introduce a cue for this, we will talk about adding cues and timing later on.
Training cats to lick their lips
You can easily teach pets to lick their lips on cue, which is easier if you have tasty treats on hand, Boots agrees...


Shaping/free-shaping

  • Can be used to teach almost anything.
  • You can start with an end goal/ trick/behaviour in mind. For example teaching you dog to play fetch.
  • Move in small increments& take your time when using this technique.
  • If you wanted to teach you dog to play fetch you would start off by rewarding your dog for picking up a toy, then teach them to drop it, and build up the difficulty by throwing it a short distance and when they bring it back to drop it, reward them, and continue and to build on this.
Malamute holding a toy
Leah being a great demo dog  





Adding cues 

  • When teaching your pet to do something you obviously want a way to tell them to repeat what you just taught at a later stage or to progress through what you are teaching at that moment.
  • For example you are teaching sit via luring . Before you give the hand signal(or even move your hand) you would say 'sit' then followed by the hand signal.


Tips for the most effective training

  •  Use something that really motivates your pet. This will be different for every pet but in most cases something that smells good, like chicken or cheese will get the job the job done.
  • When choosing to teach something new, practice in a low distraction area, like your home at a quiet time, when you've both mastered it there them move onto other places with increasing the distraction level gradually. 
  • Only use small amounts of a reward to avoid over-feeding. Pieces of food like cheese only need to be half the size of your finger nail. This is better for training, your pets waistline and your pocket!
  • You don't need to spend an hour on a training session, this will only become a chore for you and will likely decrease your pets motivation and will probably frustrate the heck out of them. Do a few 1-3 minute sessions throughout the day, practice new tricks while the kettle boils or when ads come of the TV.
  • Be patient, remember  your pet has no idea what you want unless you show them in a way they understand. If you are having trouble teaching something new reexamine your set up, reward value and how fast you are moving through an exercise. You might need to go back a little or up the quality of the reward you are using.
  • Remember to have fun, training can just be a game for cats and dogs (and you) if you let it.
  • Everyone has has an opinion- people will tell you all sorts of ways to train your dog, mostly based on myth and misconception. 
  • If your pet is hard to motivate, then try training before their meals i.e. when the are a little hungry.
  • If you pet is almost too motivated by food then try feeding them before training sessions or using their meals or more 'boring' food as rewards.
  • Some people think that by rewarding your dog for good behaviour spoils them, but this isn't the case. Remember you probably wouldn't work for free so don't expect pets to, they are easily bought after all 💗

funny cat, hodor
Put your best foot forward....

Markers

  • Using a marker will help speed up your training  and reduce an animals confusion as a marker lets them know know exactly what it was they have done to get the reward
  • If you've heard of clicker training then you already know what a marker is. After an animal does the right thing you would 'click' and then reward.
  • If you are a beginner don't worry about having a clicker, using a certain word like 'Yes' or 'Good' is pretty much the same thing and means you have both hands free for training.

Adding cues

  • Adding a cue basically means just introducing a word (verbal cue), a hand signal or a physical gesture that lets your pet know to repeat a trick/behaviour.
  • When luring you want to fade the lure before you add a verbal cue i.e. moving onto a hand signal first. This is easy enough you just need to fade the use of the lure, you would do this after luring the behaviour/trick 5-10 times and then reduce how often you actually have the food in your hand. When you have reached this point  mark the do with a click or a 'Yes' then reward them from your other hand.
  • When you want to add cue whether it be verbal or physical, (lets go with a verbal cue for sit for this example) you would say the word  'sit' just before the dog sits, make sure you know your dog is 99.9% likely to sit before you say it otherwise the word can loose meaning for them. Saying the word while they are in the process of sitting is confusing them and again decreases the meaning of the word.
  • It will take lots of practice before your dog learns the meaning of the new cue so don't loose heart just keep at it :) 


Happy Training! 

Funny pom picture