Talk to the Paw - March 11
Advice for the pet owner!
I just got a new dog and she is fun and playful and gets along well with my other dog pretty much, until it comes to toys. She always wants the toy he has — sometimes she will run up to him and take it and sometimes she will run up to him and growl. I am afraid it is going to cause fights. What should I do?
Kansas City, MO
Dear Wanting Harmony,
It sounds like she is just being a toy hog and a bully. If she waits until he turns his head, say to scratch an itch, then grabbing the toy is fair play (like a fumble in football), but if she is just grabbing the toy or making rude gestures to get it, then as the referee you have to throw the flag. That is foul play. If you don’t intervene, they may scrap and she may get told in no uncertain terms that she was being rude. However, he may always be a gentleman and never tell her, leading her to believe she is right, or it may turn ugly and cost either or both of them a trip to the vet. If you are going to throw the flag, then you need to bring her back to the spot before the foul and give her an equal value toy. I’m sure at first this will not satisfy her need to have “his” cake and eat it too, but you can up the ante by offering her something more valuable as long as she leaves him alone, and continue to redirect her attention and reward her when she makes the right choice. If she doesn’t make the right choice, you should remove all toys for a little bit and get her or both of them involved in another activity, then bring the toys out again later (watching for her behavior and intervening before she strikes, redirecting her attention to another toy and provide a high value reward for making the right choice). Unless she is part cat, she will learn through reward. Meanwhile, keep the toys picked up until she learns to share and play nice.
My cat Misty is very finicky about her food. She has always been a little picky, but lately she seems to be turning her nose up at several things I have offered including wet foods with tuna, shrimp, and mackerel. What should I try
Lee’s Summit, MO
I am not sure why pet food manufacturers thought we cats like fish. It is stinky yet enticing, I’ll give you that, but aside from a few of my cousins who live in Key West most of us don’t live anywhere near the ocean. If you let me loose on a farm for just ten minutes, I can tell you I would head for the chicken coup before I would jump in the pond looking for a fish. But back to the matter at hand — the first thing I would do, much to Misty’s dismay, is take her in for a vet check up and make sure there is nothing physically wrong with her. The next thing would be to offer her fresh whole sources of food. You might try cooking some ground chicken or turkey for her, or offer her some canned chicken. There are also some other novel protein sources available (such as rabbit or duck), and she may be a candidate to try raw food options, but check with your veterinarian. I know I personally like an occasional mouse or black bird that wanders into my yard. The most important thing is to make sure Misty doesn’t have any health issues, and then the possibilities are endless (beyond the fish!).
I have a new boyfriend and Peaches my Sun Conure, who is normally sweet with everyone, doesn’t seem to like him and she bites him. He is a soft spoken man and he likes animals. I am not sure why she is hostile to him. I could just leave her in the cage when he comes over, but the more time we spend together the less time she would be able to be out. What would you suggest?
Perplexed, Overland Park, KS
Often we prefer either men or women, and you know sometimes we can be “nippy”. It is our prerogative. I am sure your boyfriend is a nice man, but she may just not want to interact with him or something about him may make her fearful (i.e. a ball cap, mustache, glasses, etc.). I am sure you could let her out and give her a toy, some fresh fruit, or a treat on her cage, where she would be happy to stay as long as she is included in the activities, and that still give her time out of the cage. You could also save those special treats (fresh fruit, nuts, something you know she likes) and have your boyfriend offer them to her, keeping at a distance and offering them from his flat palm. If she takes them nicely, then you can entice her with those types of treats to come up his arm to get them, until she will sit nicely on his arm. The key to this training is to take it slow and let her participate at her own pace.