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ADVANCE™ is scientifically formulated to help improve pet health.  Read all the latest articles and news, as well as get tips and advice on puppy, kitten, dog and cat nutrition and health care topics.  Brought to you by the experts at ADVANCE™ premium pet food.

Blog posts tagged with ‘behaviour’

We found 22 results tagged with 'behaviour'.

Dogs and children

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This is a picture of children with a dog

Big pet lovers

Australians sure love their pets!  Current statistics show that 40.2% of Aussie households have a dog and 26.3% have a cat. This makes it important to understand the dynamics of pet parenthood and care, especially when the household contains children.

Big pet lovers

Australians sure love their pets!  Current statistics show that 40.2% of Aussie households have a dog and 26.3% have a cat. This makes it important to understand the dynamics of pet parenthood and care, especially when the household contains children.

Our pets fulfill a number of roles including beloved companions, farm helpers and assistance providers. Further research suggests that there are many positives in having a pet in the home. Helping to care for animals is a great way of teaching children responsibility, as well as empathy.

Before acquiring a pet

It’s essential that prior to taking on any pet, a family considers all the reasons for introducing a pet into the household and researches the most appropriate type to meet their needs.  Unfortunately impulse buying can lead to unnecessary problems and a pet should be considered a companion for life.

The choice of pet needs to take into account the environmental and family lifestyle situation, financial considerations and time constraints.  For example, thought needs to be put into the training, grooming and exercise requirements of the various dog breeds, and the family’s ability to meet them.

Best friends

Dogs and children form a very special bond.  A family dog is often a key part of a child's formative years and tends to become their best friend, particularly for the single child.  Children provide dogs with affection as well as opportunities for activity and interaction, and dogs provide children with companionship and loyal friendship.  By living with a dog, children also learn about responsibility and develop nurturing and caring skills. Children with pets generally have higher self-esteem and better social skills.

Supervision & education is essential

While pet companionship provides benefits for the child, parents and caregivers should educate both themselves and their children to offset any risks.  Due to a dog’s territorial nature it's unfortunate that young children can be bitten by a dog that they know.  For this reason, children should always be supervised when around dogs.  

When introducing children to dogs it’s imperative that children understand how to approach dogs, so that they are equipped to better handle themselves and minimise any risk:

  •          Never run towards a dog.
  •          Avoid patting dogs you don't know.
  •          Always get permission to pat a dog from the owner.
  •          Approach a dog at an angle, not from the front or rear.
  •          Slowly extend the back of your hand for the dog to sniff.
  •          Stroke the dog gently on the side of the chest or under the chin (not the top of the head or shoulders).
  •          Don't continue patting the dog if it backs away or doesn't sniff the hand.

Canine body language

It’s equally important for children to be able to read dog behaviour, as dogs can bite when frightened or provoked.  Teach children to leave a dog alone and not run away or kick, squeal or jump if the following behaviours are exhibited.

A frightened dog:

  •          Has its ears back.
  •          Has its tail curled under its legs.
  •          Tries to minimise its size by hunching or lying down

An aggressive dog:

  •          Shows its teeth and/or snarls.
  •          Has its ears laid back but not totally lowered.
  •          Has its tail raised.
  •          Tries to make itself bigger by raising its hackles and standing on the tips of its paws.

By providing children with the necessary education, we can help ensure they have a rewarding relationship and a loyal companion for life.  This will also provide dogs with a comfortable environment in which they will aim to please all family members including any children. 

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Super sniffers

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This is a close up of a dog's snout

K9 Super power

Dogs are famous for their sense of smell, but do you know just how much of a super power it really is?

Read on to learn more about the amazing talent of the canine super sniffer!

K9 Super power

Dogs are famous for their sense of smell, but do you know just how much of a super power it really is?

Often damp, sometimes wriggling but always cute as a button, your dog’s nose helps them interpret their world.  A dog’s ability to smell is nothing short of incredible!    

Superior sniffer design

When we try to smell something, we breathe air in through the nose.  When we need to exhale, the air goes back out the nose, taking the smell with it.  Dogs have thought this through a little better!  They can separate out their inhaled breath into two components – one for breathing and one for smelling.  The portion of air that’s used for sensing smell goes to a specialised lining in the back of the nasal cavity, just in front of the brain, called the olfactory epithelium. Some idea of the importance of their sense of smell can be gained from the surface area of this epithelium, which is 18-150 cm2 in dogs (depending on breed), 21 cm2 in cats, but only 3-4 cm2 in humans.  So dogs have an ability to store smell in their nose, while continuing to breathe in and out. 

The olfactory epithelium is covered by a layer of mucus, into which airborne molecules which cause sensation of odour must dissolve before they can be detected by special chemical receptors. Each receptor is a nerve cell, which transmits information to other nerve cells in the olfactory part of the brain.

Dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to only around 6 million for us. Plus the region of their brain dedicated to interpreting these is about 40 times larger than ours.  This means that your dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than yours!  To put that into perspective, a dog can detect a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools! 

Dogs also have the ability to smell separately with each nostril, which helps them locate the source of a smell.  When dogs deliberately sniff objects, the duration of the sniffs is adjusted to allow optimum exposure of the olfactory epithelium to the stimulus. If a stimulus is weak, dogs tend to increase the rate of sniffing, rather than the duration of each sniff.

Dogs also possess something called the vomeronasal organ, which we humans don’t have.  This organ detects special chemicals called pheromones and comes with its own nerves and specialised part of the brain.

Tracker dogs

Dogs not only have a well-developed olfactory sense, but are also readily trained and this combination of skills has been utilised for thousands of years for the hunting, tracking and retrieving of game.

The tracking skills of dogs depend on their ability to detect the volatile fatty acids found in human sweat, in concentrations which are hundreds or thousands of times lower than our own threshold for smell. Dogs can also detect whole human odours, even those derived from fingerprints, both when fresh and following a week or more of weathering. Perhaps most impressive is a dog's ability to detect features specific to the individual in all the body odours (palm, armpit, sole) from a single person, even though these regional odours smell quite different to us.

The ability of trained dogs to distinguish between different people has been investigated using pairs of identical twins. In tracking experiments, when direct comparisons could be made, the twins could be reliably discriminated, but in successive choices the same dogs indicated that the twins were much more similar to each other than to other humans. In other words, tracking dogs can tell people apart by their smell, about as well as we can by sight.

So next time you notice your dog wriggling their nose, you'll appreciate just how much is going on under the surface!

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Pet safety when entertaining

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This is an image of a dog at a party.

Party time

Got some plans to party at your place? 

While you’re making preparations, it’s worth considering the safety of your pets when entertaining.  A busy house with new people, sights and sounds, as well as tempting human foods and drinks, presents a range of hazards for furry guests.

Make sure everyone enjoys the festivities with our top party tips for pet safety when entertaining.

Party time

Got some plans to party at your place? 

While you’re making preparations, it’s worth considering the safety of your pets when entertaining.  A busy house with new people, sights and sounds, as well as tempting human foods and drinks, presents a range of hazards for furry guests.

Make sure everyone enjoys the festivities with our top party tips for pet safety when entertaining.

Party animal?

Consider each of your pets – how have they reacted to gatherings in the past?  Have they shown any signs of fear, anxiety or aggression?  Even if they’ve previously been the life of the party, it makes sense to provide them with a retreat space in case they start to feel overwhelmed.  

If you think your pet won’t cope well with a party, consider boarding them with a responsible family member or friend, or a professional boarding facility.

Create a pet retreat

Ensure that each pet has their own cosy and secure retreat space, so they can feel safe.  Prepare the space ahead of time, perhaps in a bedroom or laundry, using their crate and some comfortable bedding.  Provide food and water as well as some interactive toys to help keep them busy.  You might like to provide some background noise such as from a radio to drown out any noises coming from the party.

Pre-party exercise

Plan to exercise your pets before the first guest arrives.  This will help them be relaxed and more likely to have a snooze once the party gets going.

Keep decorations out of reach

Kittens and puppies, as well as pets with a curious nature can end up in all sorts of tangles with party decorations.  Plastic and glass items can be chewed and broken causing injury. Fairy lights also pose a choking or electrocution risk, while candles can be knocked over causing burns, or be toxic if eaten.  Keep this in mind when decorating your party space and keep things out of your pet’s reach.

Talk to your guests

As each guest arrives, let them know there are pets in the house.  Your guests can let you know if they have any allergies or are afraid of animals, and you can talk about pet safety.

Security

With guests coming and going, ensure the safety of your pets with adequate security.  Limit the doors your guests can use to help prevent any pets making an escape.  Put signs on doors and gates to remind guests to ensure they are properly closed.  Even if your pet doesn’t normally try to get loose, remember that pets can behave differently if they become stressed by the party.

Tasty temptations

Some human foods are toxic to dogs and cats.  Common party foods to keep away from pets include chocolate, caffeinated beverages, onion, cooked bones, avocado, nuts, grapes, sultanas, raisins, gravy, alcohol as well as any diet foods and drinks (containing artificial sweeteners).

Remind all of your guests (including children) not to feed your pets anything, and don’t give your pets any left-overs.  Regularly walk around the party to gather and clear up any left-over food and drink.  Also make sure that your pets can’t gain access to any garbage bins. 

Sudden dietary changes can cause digestive upset and the feeding of fatty scraps can contribute to the onset of serious conditions such as pancreatitis.  Keep an eye on your pets for any changes to their behaviour or appearance, and if you think they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have it’s best to get them to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Some planning and preparation will help keep your pets safe when entertaining.  That way everyone can relax and have a good time!

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Socialising your puppy

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This is an image of two puppies playing

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your puppy

Dogs that are under socialised may become shy, fearful and sometimes even aggressive.  They may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs or know how to behave appropriately around people.  In contrast, puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.   

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your puppy

Dogs that are under socialised may become shy, fearful and sometimes even aggressive.  They may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs or know how to behave appropriately around people. 

In contrast, puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.   

The socialisation period

Puppies go through various developmental stages on their way to adulthood.  The ‘socialisation period’ lasts from around 3 to 12 weeks of age, and during this time, puppies are more sensitive to socialisation.  The experiences your puppy encounters during this stage, negative or positive, can have a profound effect on their behaviour later in life.

While the socialisation period is a critical developmental stage for your puppy, socialisation should also continue throughout your dog's life.                                       

Positive socialisation

Socialising your puppy involves introducing them to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, dogs, other animals, places, smells and noises.  It’s important that these interactions are a positive experience for your puppy.  Introduce them to new situations gently and reward them for calm behaviour. 

Puppy School training classes are a great way to start socialising and training your puppy.  Here you can get good advice on basic training, puppies can meet a wide range of other puppies of all shapes and sizes, as well as different people. 

Tips for choosing a Puppy School class

Puppy classes should be well structured and organised and not just a free play session for puppies, as this can frighten young or less confident puppies.  Off-lead play should be carefully managed and supervised with just a few puppies off lead for short periods.  The trainer should use positive reinforcement training methods.  In addition, class sizes should be limited to no more than 10 puppies.

Veterinarians can often recommend where to find good puppy classes, and a local veterinary clinic may well run one.

                                          

Socialising with other animals       

Remember that socialisation is not simply a matter of letting your puppy play with other dogs.

It’s very important that you select the dogs that you allow your puppy to interact with and supervise play sessions making sure all dogs involved are behaving appropriately.  As your puppy’s guardian you must make sure there is no bullying occurring either by your puppy or to them.  If either situation is occurring, simply end the play session and try again another day.  

Until your puppy is fully protected by vaccination, they should only mix with dogs whose vaccinations are fully up to date and should not be taken to parks or areas where other dogs have toileted.                                                                                                           

Introduce your puppy to other animals such as cats at an early age.  To a small puppy, an adult cat may be terrifying, so supervise these meetings to make sure they are positive encounters for both your puppy and the other animal.

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Cat doors

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This is an image of a cat coming through a cat door.

Benefits

Cat doors, also known as cat flaps, provide a means for your cat to come and go between the indoors and outdoors.  A basic cat door is generally inexpensive and easy to install.  Learn about the various types of lockable cat doors that are available, as well as how to help your kitty get used to using one.

 

Benefits

Cat doors, also known as cat flaps, provide a means for your cat to come and go between the indoors and outdoors.  A basic cat door is generally inexpensive and easy to install.

Cat doors offer designs with a wide range of features, such as to be able to adjust the access available.  For example, you might only want the cat door open during the day and locked at night.  Or, you might want the cat door to only operate in one direction at a certain time. 

Types of lockable cat doors

• Simple locking cat door – you operate the lock yourself, choosing when to let your kitten in or out.  This type of cat door doesn't discriminate between who can use it.  That means the neighbour's cat might also pay your home a visit!

• Electro-magnetic cat door – activated automatically by a special magnet on your kitten’s collar.  This type of cat door does rely on your cat not losing their collar.  

• Micro-chip cat door – activated automatically by your kitten’s unique micro-chip.  This has the advantage of not relying on a special tag on your cat's collar as their microchip is under their skin. 

Early wariness

Some kittens can be a little suspicious of the cat door at first, and might need your help to gain confidence when using it.  The noise the door makes as it shuts can be scary, as can the feel of the door as it touches the cat’s back on the way through. 

Tips to help

• Fit the cat door at the right height for your kitten to step through – this is usually about 6cm above the bottom of the door

• Let your kitten have a good sniff and explore around the area

• To begin with, prop open the cat door slightly and tempt your kitten through it with treats and food

• Try gently lifting your kitten up towards the cat door to demonstrate what you expect them to do

With a little practice, and lots of positive reinforcement, your kitten will soon be using their cat door.  A whole new world of feline adventures await!

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Make playtime awesome!

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Prioritise play

Playtime is an essential daily activity for all kittens, especially those that live indoors.  Here we offer some great playtime ideas to keep your feline buddy entertained.

Prioritise play

Playtime is an essential daily activity for all kittens, especially those that live indoors.

Play helps a kitten condition their muscles and joints which supports physical health.  It also provides much needed mental stimulation helping a kitten keep their mind sharp. 

When you get involved in playtime, you both get to share wonderful bonding time as well as the opportunity to create precious memories.  By stimulating their hunting instinct, your kitten won't be able to resist joining in by pouncing and jumping. 

 

Great playtime ideas

• Playful kittens adore anything that you can make move, twitch or disappear out of sight! 

• Toys with feathers or anything on a string will bring out your kitten's natural hunting instincts:

Watch as your kitten stalks and pounces, but beware of those sharp little claws!  Be sure to let your kitten catch their 'prey' now and then, otherwise playtime will lead to a build-up of frustration.  This can be an issue particularly with laser style cat toys.  To combat this, ensure your play session ends by allowing your cat to hunt and catch an actual, physical toy. 

• Other toys a cat will love include catnip mice and sacks, bouncy balls and balls filled with toys

• Treat dispensing toys are great and can also be used by cats.  Be sure to account for this food in your cat's daily ration and let your cat 'play' for their meal. 

• Consider cutting a hole in a cardboard box, and see how your kitten enjoys playing and hiding in it.

• A cardboard tube will give you and your kitten endless entertainment, especially if something pops out of the end!

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Indoor or outdoor cat?

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Lifestyle choice

Will your kitten be an indoor cat, outdoor cat or perhaps a mixture of the two?  Here we take a look at the various pros and cons of each living arrangement.

Lifestyle choice

Will your kitten be an indoor cat, outdoor cat or perhaps a mixture of the two? 

Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons for indoor and outdoor living.

Territory

Firstly, let’s define what is meant by a cat’s 'territory'. 

In the wild, a cat's territory is usually divided into a home range, and then extending beyond that, a hunting range. 

For domestic cats, a kitten's home range is your home.  So for indoor cats, their largest range extends to the boundary of where you will let them venture.  For outdoor cats, their territory is determined by a number of things such as the territories of other cats and the availability of resources such as food.  Your cat's territory can sometimes be surprisingly large!

Outdoor living

Pros:

• Plenty of ways to exercise such as climbing, scratching and hunting

• Lots of mental stimulation such as exploring and watching the world go by

• Opportunity to establish their own territory and patrol it

Cons:

• Hazards and dangers in the outside world such as other cats, dogs, cars etc

• May get into fights with other cats and be at risk of injury, as well as disease such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

• May be frightened by weather events such as thunderstorms and become lost

If you’re going to let your cat roam outside, make sure they’ve been microchipped and are equipped with identification such as an elasticated collar with a name tag.  Check with your council to see if there are cat curfews in place.

Thunderstorms, fireworks and loud parties can all be scary for a little kitten.  If you know events like these are happening in your area, keep your feline friend safe and secure inside. 

Indoor living

Pros:

• You are more able to control the environment, which technically should mean it's safer

However, the home harbours its own hazards for curious kittens such as fireplaces and chimneys, unsecured windows and household appliances such as washing machines and tumble driers.  Make sure you check such places regularly and keep them closed when not in use. 

Cons:

• Harder to get exercise, so indoor cats are at risk of obesity and are less mentally stimulated - so you'll need to provide the entertainment! 

Ensure your kitten has plenty of toys (rotated regularly) a scratching post and climbing equipment.  The general rule for the number of litter trays you’ll need is one extra to the number of cats in the house.  So for a single cat home, you’ll need 2 litter trays.

Best of both worlds

If you’d like your kitten to experience a mix of indoor and outdoor living, consider installing a cat enclosure at home.  That way your cat gets some exposure to the outside world, while staying safe.

You can also train your kitten to walk on a harness.

By considering each type of living arrangement, you can make the choice that will best suit you and your cat.

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Hunting behaviour in cats

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This is an image of a cat stalking.

Capable hunter

Your cute and adorable kitten was born to be a formidable hunter.  Stalking and catching prey is a big part of your kitten's natural behaviour.  If your kitten has access to the outside world, there’s a good chance that your feline friend will sometimes bring prey items home.

Capable hunter

Your cute and adorable kitten was born to be a formidable hunter. 

Stalking and catching prey is a big part of your kitten's natural behaviour, and kittens start to perfect these skills early on when playing with their littermates.

In the wild, mothers bring their kittens dead prey to eat.  As their kittens start to get a bit older, mum starts bringing home live prey instead.  This helps the kittens learn how to hunt and kill, setting them up with the survival skills they'll need when they're on their own.

Why is my cat leaving 'presents' on the door step? 

While your kitten can rely on you for their next meal, their instincts run deep.

If your kitten has access to the outside world, there’s a good chance that your feline friend will sometimes bring prey items home.  You might find these on the door step and be tempted to think you're being offered little 'presents'.

However, the main reason your kitten brings prey back home is actually to finish off the hunt.  When a cat first catches their prey, they grab it anywhere on its body they can.  However, to kill it, they need to bite its neck.  Your kitten can’t let go of their prey to do this, because there's no pack to stand guard.

So rather than adjusting their grip in the place where they caught their prey, your kitten carries it back home instead.  That way, if the prey should happen to escape, your kitten has a home ground advantage, and will be much more confident about catching it again.

If your kitten turns up on the doorstep carrying something they've caught, remember that your little hunter is simply following their natural instincts.  They're finishing off their hunt in a place where they feel safe, and won’t be disturbed by other predators. 

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Urine marking in cats

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This is an image of a cat relaxing.

Communication

In the wild, cats are mostly solitary, they rarely meet with other cats.  However, they still need ways to communicate effectively with each other.  Urine marking, or spraying, is one clever they can exchange information.

Communication

In the wild, cats are mostly solitary, they rarely meet with other cats.  However, they still need ways to communicate effectively with each other, such as to establish territory or indicate a willingness to mate.  Cats also try to avoid conflict. 

One communication method they use is via a system of scent-based ‘signposts’ using urine marking or spraying.  

Your kitten or cat may display urine marking behaviour too, and what's more, these signposts are continually refreshed to keep them up to date.

Spraying or a litter tray problem?

It’s important to work out if your cat is urine marking or having an issue with using their litter tray.  Remember that cats who urine mark will also urinate in their litter trays.  However, there are some clues to look for to help you work out what’s going on.

Vertical surfaces

Urine marking usually occurs on vertical surfaces.  A cat about to spray tends to back up to a vertical object such as a wall and displays an erect body posture with tail pointing straight up in the air.  Urine is then sprayed onto the vertical surface.  It’s not uncommon to see the cat’s tail and even their whole body twitch while they’re spraying.

Volume

The amount of urine that a cat releases for marking purposes is usually less than the amount they void when urinating in their litter tray.

Smell

As marking is a form of communication for cats, sprayed urine is particularly strong smelling.  This is because it contains chemicals including pheromones that help to convey additional information.

What should I do if my cat is spraying?

In some cases, urine marking can be a sign that your kitten or cat is feeling insecure, perhaps believing their territory is under threat.  If you’re having to deal with unwanted wee, don’t worry – there are lots of things you can do to help prevent it:

• Have your cat desexed to reduce their desire to urine mark.  Desexed cats of either gender can still spray, but entire male cats tend to do it the most

• Avoid using ammonia and chlorine cleaners as these smell similar to cat urine and may actually encourage marking behaviour

• Try not to clean up the wee while your cat is around as disrupting the scent might make them more stressed

• Clean the affected area with a 10% solution of biological washing powder, and spray it with an alcohol such as surgical spirit

• Soon after you’ve cleaned the area, encourage your cat to play there as this will help them feel more secure

If the problem continues, talk to your veterinarian for further advice.

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Biting and scratching in kittens

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Natural born hunter

Kittens begin to develop play behaviour at an early age, and this includes mastering the use of their sharp teeth and claws!  Here we take a look at the basis for these play behaviours, and what you can do if your kitten’s play is a little overzealous!

Natural born hunter

Kittens begin to develop play behaviour at an early age, and this includes mastering the use of their sharp teeth and claws! 

Young kittens love to stalk, chase and pounce.  They also wrestle, bite and scratch their littermates and mother - all in the name of fun.  This behaviour is helping the kitten learn the hunting behaviours that used to be essential for survival.  Luckily, your kitten can now depend on you for their next meal, but their instincts run deep!  In fact, your kitten's instinct to hunt is so strong that they'll do it even when they aren’t hungry. 

Bite inhibition

Kittens learn to inhibit any overly aggressive behaviour while they are still with their littermates and mother.  If play is too rough, a sibling or mum will let the offending kitten know by way of a growl or a well-placed swipe, and play might stop.  Through this process, kittens learn to control aggressive behaviour.

Proper socialisation

Socialisation helps a kitten learn how to interact appropriately with humans and other animals.  Kittens who are poorly socialised or handled roughly by people may develop behaviours that are aggressive and don’t learn to control their biting intensity.

Help!  My kitten is biting and scratching me

While your kitten is young, all those little bites and scratches are really just playfulness.  But if you find your kitten is coming on a bit too strong, try interrupting the game and ignoring them for a while. 

If your kitten bites you, make a short sharp yelping sound.  At the same time withdraw your attention from your kitten and ignore it.  This shows your kitten that when they bite, the fun and play stops.  When your kitten is calm, gently praise and reward them. 

Make sure that you are consistent in how you interact with your kitten.  Don't allow your kitten to play roughly with you so that you aren't encouraging biting and scratching behaviour.  

Be mindful of the signals you (and others) send if you do play wrestle with your kitten.  Don't let them nip or scratch you just because they're cute and small.  They will grow and get bigger and stronger!  It’s a good idea to encourage your kitten to wrestle with a toy, rather than you. 

Thankfully, most kittens grow out of the aggressive stage and develop into lovely natured cats, more interested to smooch than to bite you.

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