Tag Archives: Animal Coalition of Delaware County

My Cat Has What?

By Betsey Cichoracki

Herpes. Ever since high school health class that word has prompted “ewws” and “gross!” in the minds of many. So when our vet informed me that our cat Coal has herpes, I thought “ewww” before even learning what feline herpes really is. Turns out a herpes virus means many things among many species. Continue reading


Filed under ACDC News, Adopted Animals, Animal Rescue, Animals in our care, Foster Parents, Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Cats, Uncategorized, Volunteers

ACDC Teams Up With The Spayed Club to Offer Low-Cost Clinic

Animals receive the best possible care at The Spayed Club in Sharon Hill, PA

It is exciting for the Animal Coalition of Delaware County to be able to provide subsidized payment to the residents of Marcus Hook and assist in a Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic collaborative effort with The Spayed Club who performed the veterinary care.

For the past three years, volunteers from The Spayed Club and the Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) have been coordinating low-cost spay/neuter transport clinics for cat owners in Delaware County. We have been successful in Clifton Heights, Upper Darby, Chester, and Marcus Hook in past years. This year, we held a low-cost spay-neuter clinic in Colwyn on February 25, with the help of Mayor Rutland to spay/neuter 27 resident cats and most recently, on November 4 in Marcus Hook with the help of Mayor James D. Schiliro to spay/neuter 27 resident cats that might not otherwise have this service.

“Concentrated sterilization is the most efficient use of time, money, and effort to end animal homelessness and euthanasia” says Stephanie Swanton, who has been coordinating clinics for ACDC since 2005.

Community based efforts of providing education of the pet over population problem, offering reduced sterilization fees through subsidized clinics like this one in Marcus Hook, and having pet owners do their part by having their companion animals spayed/neutered assures that we are certainly making a dent in the pet overpopulation problem and reducing the number of stray and unwanted pets that may be euthanized at shelters due to overcapacity.

If you are interested in ACDC continuing to offer low-cost spay-neuter clinics like this one, consider making a tax-deductible donation to ACDC and indicate ‘S/N Clinic’ or ‘TNR.’ Your continuous support is deeply appreciated and enables the organization to continue its efforts to help homeless animals.


Filed under ACDC News

Life Is Like A Song

After two years in ACDC's care, Charlie found his forever home, where he is clearly quite content!

By Nikki Senecal

Two years is a long time to wait, but Charlie (aka Charlie Choo) has, at last, found his forever home!

When Charlie came to the Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC), he was diagnosed with Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), a blood disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and kills its own red blood cells. At diagnosis, Charlie weighed just over seven pounds, was severely jaundiced, and was not eating. He went home with Kim Butler, ACDC’s cat director, because she, unfortunately, had direct experience dealing with her own cat’s IMHA.

Cats with IMHA have to get blood drawn regularly to check “packed cell volume” (PCV). Normal cats fall into the range of 37-44, Kim explained. Charlie’s PCV was as low as 19; while not good, he wasn’t a candidate for blood transfusions. With medication, paid for through donations to ACDC, Charlie’s numbers eventually fell into the normal range.

When he was adopted he had been off all medication for three months. Still, Kim says, “he will still need his blood checked every few months to make sure he’s holding at a stable pace.”

At Last
Enter Melissa Lane, a volunteer at the PetSmart at Marple Crossroads. Melissa became involved with ACDC after her feline companion of 10 years, Alice, passed away due to kidney failure. At that time, she was moving in with her boyfriend, Stephen Hostetter, and his dogs, and says, “I pretty much gave up on the idea of having a cat because of the dogs.” So she decided instead to volunteer to help find homes for cats to satisfy her desire to be around cats. “At first, volunteering made me sad, but after a few times, I really enjoyed getting to know the cats there.”

Melissa came to know Charlie during her shifts at the adoption center. “I knew that Charlie was a sweet, mellow, beautiful cat. I also felt a lot of compassion for Charlie because I knew that it would take him longer to find a permanent home because of his previous health problems.” Melissa felt he deserved a good home. She even knew of one: hers. But she worried about mixing dogs and cats.

One Sunday afternoon, that changed. “Karen Bates was in the center trimming Charlie’s nails and cleaning his ears, and we got to talking about the possibility of having a cat in a house with two young huskies. She told me about having the dogs cat-tested and the rest is history!” In order for Melissa and Stephen to adopt a cat, the cat would have to be an adult with previous experience with dogs. Fortunately for Charlie, he fit that description and all the pieces fell into place for an adoption.

Melissa didn’t have misgivings about adopting a cat with such a rare medical condition (it’s more common in dogs than cats). “Charlie was given a clean bill of health, and I knew that if he had any other health issues, they would be addressed immediately.”

A Thrill to Press My Cheek To
Because Charlie has such a loud purr, Melissa and Stephen joke that “he has a V8 engine in his chest.” He’s also quite a talker, “He has one drawn out meow that sounds like ‘heellloooooooooo!’” Melissa explains. At five, Charlie still plays with the energy of a kitten. He also enjoys company when he eats. “Sometimes he’ll meow at me until I join him,” Melissa reports. “Charlie is not exactly a lap cat yet, but at night, he curls up to sleep next to my head on my pillow or sleeps belly up, legs up nestled up to my torso.”


Filed under ACDC News, Adopted Animals

JoJo Comes Home!

Lynette and JoJo

U.S. Airways Flight Attendant Lynette Siple arrives at Philadelphia International Airport with JoJo in hand!

Earlier this month, the Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) learned that JoJo, who had been adopted through ACDC two years ago had been surrendered to Cumberland County Animal Services in Fayetteville, N.C. The shelter contacted ACDC after scanning JoJo for a microchip. The microchip’s registration had never been changed and thus, JoJo’s owner came up as ACDC.

ACDC is incredibly grateful to Danielle Dumas and all of the staff members at Cumberland County Animal Services for not only taking the time to scan JoJo, but to also contact and work with ACDC. The shelter could only keep JoJo for 10 days. ACDC wanted to ensure JoJo had a long and happy life and knew they had to do something. But what? They put an e-mail plea out to all of their supporters for help.

Enter Lynette Siple of Drexel Hill, Pa., a U.S. Airways Flight Attendant and animal lover. Lynette offered to fly JoJo home with her! On her day off last Thursday (October 7), while in-between flights, Siple picked JoJo up at the shelter in North Carolina, took him to a vet for vaccines so that he would be cleared to fly, and then boarded a U.S. Airways flight bound for Philadelphia with JoJo! JoJo even got to fly first class with Siple in some very comfy seats.

Kim Butler, ACDC’s Cat Department Director, met Siple and JoJo at the airport, where there was great celebration! Though JoJo was a little spooked from his busy day, he came through with flying colors. Butler took JoJo to Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital, where he was given a full examination and brought up to date on his vaccinations. JoJo will soon be reunited with Karen Chaya of Drexel Hill, who was his ACDC foster mom two years ago before he was adopted. JoJo will be available for adoption in two weeks. This time, he truly hopes to find the family that will care for him forever! Thank goodness for JoJo’s many guardian angels, especially Lynette Siple, Danielle Dumas, and Cumberland County Animal Services!

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Filed under ACDC News, Animals in our care

ACDC Adoptables Strut Their Stuff at Seventh Annual Animal Law Conference

By Loren Ellis

The Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) recently participated in the Pennsylvania Bar Institute Animal Law Conference for the third year. Gail Griffin and I, ably assisted by Joe Boyle and Lori Busch on their breaks from work, manned the ACDC table. We brought three wonderful black kittens with us, as well as Curly, our senior cocker spaniel.  

Jimmy flirting with a conference attendee

Jimmy was the most vocal kitty. While the presenters were talking about hot topics for shelters and Pennsylvania wildlife law, Jimmy purred so loudly he turned heads half way across the conference room. Gail took him out of the crate so as not to disturb the speakers. He ate up the attention.

Then a woman from Buzzy’s Bow Wow Meow asked to hold Jimmy and actually held and played with him at her table for much of the morning. After an afternoon nap, another exhibitor asked to hold him. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jimmy is a very bright kitty who knows how to work his magic and get attention.

Chevelle and his sister Corolla kept each other company in a crate of their own. Chevelle wasn’t quite sure if Corolla cleaned up enough for the special event, so he gave her a tongue bath during the early part of the conference. She was looking good by lunchtime when everyone came to see her. Gail took each kitty out of the crate for a little while, and they worked the crowd.

Curly behaved perfectly at the Law Conference!

Curly was a big hit at the conference. He greeted everyone and got along fine with the other dogs and cats, never once barking. He seemed intrigued by little Lucy the poodle from PAWS and pulled toward her a few times.

Curly helped us keep the room clean by picking up all the crumbs off the floor. He was a big fan of the muffin crumbs and bagel crumbs but did not care much for the all-vegan lunch. He was not the only one. Curly rode a freight elevator, probably for the first time ever, to get outside and do his business and was not deterred by what felt like an amusement park ride or the lack of grass in Center City. 

All in all it was an educational and fun day. Each of the four animals behaved incredibly well during this all-day event. We had the opportunity to showcase some of our great animals available for adoption, tell the public about ACDC, and spread the word about our upcoming bingo event.

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Thinking “Inside” The Box…Which Litter box Is Right For Your Cat?

 By Kim Butler and her cat….

“Hey folks, Stinky Cat here: The Tidy Cat Whisperer (TCW) is exhausted from scooping and is taking a nap right now, so I’m going to write this blog post for her. I know the topic very well since I’m the one who uses the stinkin’ thing. I just wish people would ask us cats first before they start messing with our stuff.  I mean, let’s get real: I’m the cat and I’m the one who has to sit in it, so in the future could ya just ask us for OUR opinion first before you design these things?”

In a previous post, TCW mentioned the fact that there are more litter box designs now than Imelda Marcos had shoes (or was it Michelle Obama’s sleeveless dresses? Whatever). Anyway, let’s start at the beginning. Litter boxes have come a long way in the past 50-60 years. Back in the “day” (circa 1930-1940 era), many cats were indoor/outdoor cats, and simply did their “business” outside. Along the way, some kind soul thought that providing a container for cats to relieve themselves indoors was a great idea-especially when living in Minnesota where the temperature is below freezing more often than not. Many of these containers were homemade, certainly not fancy, and filled with sand or ash from recently burnt wood so that cats could “cover up the evidence,” as is their natural instinct. Cleaning a litter box filled with sand or ash however was quite a messy adventure, and as a result not many cats were strictly indoor cats-until the advent of “kitty litter” in 1947.

With the invention of “kitty litter,” cats moved indoors and their popularity soared. And, as a result, a whole new opportunity opened up for entrepreneurs: the design and manufacturing of litter boxes. Nowadays, it’s just not enough to present your cat with a plastic rectangular tray filled with litter-no sirree, we now have an entire section of the store devoted to nothing but litter boxes. It’s like ordering take out from a Chinese restaurant: there are just too many items to pick from. Well, TCW has done some of the legwork for you, and once she wakes up-ooh, well there she is, “well Good Morning Tidy Cat Whisperer, do you have any words of wisdom on litter box choices for us? While you were napping I took the liberty of filling the masses in on the history of the litter box as we know it….”

“Thanks, Stinky Cat I think I can take it from here.”

 Yes, we have an enormous selection of boxes in so many shapes and sizes. Some boxes look like furniture. Some look like plastic igloos (“Nanook of the Litter Scoop”). Some boxes look like a Rube Goldberg invention with so many twists and turns you wonder how the cat will ever extricate itself. I do have a few I can recommend, having personal experience with them.  The most important factor is: if the cat is happy and is using it. All the other factors (is the owner happy) are secondary.

The most basic litterbox may be the one my cats are the most happiest with. It is made by Rubbermaid, is not covered, and has a high back and sidewalls to keep litter from flying everywhere. And it’s inexpensive, at around $17. My 3-legged cat especially loves it, as it has a scooped out entry way making it easy for her to get in and out of. I have six of these currently in use. They are easy to clean and manage and worth every penny.

I have also tried the “Booda Clean-Step” (The one that looks like the Igloo). At $34, it’s getting up there in price. While the concept is nice (keeping the litter from being tracked/kicked all over), the reality is that it is difficult to clean and manage, especially the “stairway”.  The lid is especially hard to clean, and when the urine gets in the crevices, it will smell no matter what you clean it with. Unless you like to work extra hard, I would stay away from this one.

The other litter box that gets the most use in my house is the Clevercat. I have a couple of cats that like to get in the litter box, then not bother to turn around and urinate towards the back of the box like normal cats do-they prefer to urinate towards the front of the box-which means it sprays out of the box.  With The Clevercat, it’s a top entry box-they climb on top of it then climb down into the box where they can do their business in total privacy-and WITH NO MESS. It’s easy to clean-and the lid doubles as a mat! Everyone in my house loves it-my 17-year-old cat uses it, even my three-legged cat uses it with no trouble at all. It’s around $34, which is up there-but trust me, if your guys like to make a mess, it’s well worth it. I have four of these.

Of all the litter boxes I have tried, the two I most recommend are the Rubbermaid and the Clevercat. In my book, everything else would be a waste of money. And that’s it from The Tidy Cat Whisperer. Happy Scooping!

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Filed under Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Cats

Does the Fourth of July cause your pet to panic?

By Nikki Senecal

When I was growing up, we had a 125-pound Doberman Pinscher. Many people were scared of Humphrey, but there was only one thing he was frightened by: thunder. At the first sign of a summer storm, he would huddle under the dining room table shaking pathetically. It made you want to crawl under the table to hug and reassure him.

That, it turns out, is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Animals who are frightened by loud noises—like thunder or 4th of July fireworks–shouldn’t be babied; that can reinforce the fearful behavior. Nor should you punish an animal for his fears.

Finding A Place to Feel Safe
Letting your dog or cat find a place where they feel safe, however, is one of the many things you can do to help ease phonophobia, whether the cause is thunderstorms, fireworks, or the vacuum cleaner. Allow your cat to hide out under the bed or in a small space. Perhaps put a bed in a closet and let them know it is there. Leave your dog’s crate open—and throw a blanket over it to create a more cave-like space. Rabbits and guinea pigs should be given extra bedding, so they can burrow for comfort.  Wherever your pet finds comfort, don’t try to lure them out; it could increase their stress.

When you know loud noises will occur, like the upcoming 4th of July holiday, your pets should be inside. Make sure the doors and windows are closed, in case the stress causes your pet to attempt an escape. To prepare for this possibility, make sure Fluffy and Fido’s tags are attached and up-to-date.

You could try turning on a radio or television loudly to drown out the outdoor sounds. Your pet is used to having strange sounds come from these devices.

Desensitization training may work for your dog. This technique involves exposing your dog to low levels of the anxiety producing noise while performing positive activities, like obedience training or playing games. However, trainers usually recommend starting this training before you need the dog to behave. Dogs who are afraid of fireworks, should be trained during the winter, for example.

Find a recording of the noise that your pet is afraid of. While playing the sounds at a barely audible volume, engage your pet in an activity like obedience or trick training. Give food or other rewards during the activity when the pet accomplishes what he is supposed to. If your dog shows signs of fear, stop and try again later, playing the recording at an even lower level. It is important that you don’t reward your pup while he is fearful or anxious. Sessions should last about five to 10 minutes.

As training progresses, gradually increase the volume for each session. Because dogs aren’t good at generalizing, you should repeat the exercise in various rooms. When your pup does not show fear when the recording is played at a loud volume, you may want to try playing the recording when you are away from the house for a short time. When Fido appears to have lost his fear, the sessions can be reduced to one per week. These sessions may need to be repeated at regular intervals over the course of your time together. Finally, during a storm or the Fourth of July, use the same activities and rewards you used in the training sessions.


  • Appeasing pheromones are available for both dogs (DAP) and cats (Feliway). These chemicals mimic the pheromones produced by lactating mothers that give puppies and kittens a sense of well-being. The result is a calmer, less stressed animal.
  • Melatonin can be used in both dogs and cats. Several articles published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association show that melatonin has a sedative effect. One trainer I know uses it for her German Shepherds who are afraid of thunderstorms.
  • Other medications, like xanax, can be prescribed by your veterinarian if your pet has more severe anxiety.

Although some of these treatments are available without a prescription, you should discuss all of these options with your vet.

Alternative Therapies
Anxiety Wrap – According to some experts, pressure applied to large areas of the body can be comforting. Although no scientific studies have been done on this therapy, T-Touch and Temple Grandin’s “Hug Machine” are both examples of this theory put in practice. There are a number of “maintained pressure” jackets available on the market.

Whatever you do, project a calm attitude. Your pet looks to you for guidance. If you show no fear, it may be calming for your rabbit, guinea pig, dog, or cat. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!


Filed under Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Cats, Pet Tips - Dogs, Pet Tips - Guinea Pigs, Pet Tips - Rabbits

How Do I Know My Pet is Sick?

Knowing what to watch for in your pet's behavior can help catch illnesses early.

By Nikki Senecal 

There are many times I wish my dog could talk, but that feeling is compounded by worry when she seems to be feeling ill. (Talking animals would make the vet’s job easier too!) 


If we remember that we’re mammals too, diagnosing our pets can be a little easier. How do you know you’re sick? Vomiting, diarrhea, appetite changes, abnormal bleeding, and lethargy signal something’s wrong in humans. It turns out many of these symptoms signal problems for our pets too.      

Guinea Pig     

  • Bloated abdomen
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Labored breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss


  • Loud tooth grinding
  • Very hot or very cold ears
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Labored breathing
  • Drooling or a wet chin
  • Loss of balance or head tilt
  • Abnormal fecal pellets (smaller, irregular shape, droppings laced with fur)
  • Loss of appetite or lethargy


  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Stops using the litter box or strains upon elimination
  • Develops puffiness or a lump under the skin
  • Hides for more than a day
  • Becomes ill-tempered or doesn’t want to be touched
  • Increased head shaking
  • Changes his routine or loses interest in his favorite games
  • Stops grooming
  • The “third eyelid” (nictitating membrance) emerges from the corner of his eye


  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased drinking
  • Vomiting or unproductive retching
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or bloody feces
  • Unexplained, sudden weight loss
  • Seizure
  • Pale gums or tongue
  • Increased panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Straining to urinate, decreased urination, or bloody urination
  • Inflamed ears or skin, or smelly ears
  • Discharge from ears, eyes, or nose
  • Difficulty walking or lameness
  • Head shaking

Take notes on changes in your pet’s habits and health and take him/her to the vet at the first sign of concern. Your vet will want to know details of your pet’s symptoms, including when they began. Until animals learn to talk, your pet needs you to speak for her.

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Filed under Pet Insurance, Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Cats, Pet Tips - Dogs, Pet Tips - Guinea Pigs, Pet Tips - Rabbits

The Stinky Cat Goes “Green”

By Kim Butler

Solving Your Most Challenging Litterbox Issues: The Tidy Cat Whisperer is at it again!

I know, I know, I’m a little late to the eco-frenzy that has swept the nation. I’m still driving a non-hybrid vehicle-although it IS a 4- cylinder instead of my old gas-sucking Jeep; I just replaced my old, rusty oil-fired hot water boiler with….a brand new, oil-fired hot water boiler. However, it is Energy-Star certified and, even though it consumes fossil fuel it will at least consume less of it. And I did replace all my incandescent light bulbs with those squiggly bulbs that are supposed to last into the next millennium and use less energy. So I should get some points for that.

Believe me, I would have loved to have replaced my electric supplier with a row of solar panels on my roof, but at $30,000 it’s a little out of my league. That’s how much I spend annually on cat food, for pete’s sake. Plus I wouldn’t have any money left over to buy the five tons of litter I need to buy every week. The cats glared at me for even thinking such a thought. Which made me think: what if I could get my cats to go green—without telling them?

Since I usually write about litter and litterbox issues, let’s focus primarily on that area, since that also appears to be the biggest area we can make an eco-difference, starting with the litter itself. If we didn’t have cat litter, we would have to either let all of our cats outside, leash them up and take them for walks, or train all of them to use the toilet. The first option is an absolute no-no if you want your cat to live a long life without winding up as road kill on the side of the street. The second option? My cats are laughing their whiskers off. The third option will probably lead to an increase in the number of people attending 12-step programs.

The Invention of Cat Litter
Cat litter is generally credited as being invented in the mid to late 1940s by a genius named Edward Lowe as an alternative to packaged ash from burnt wood or sand, which was also commonly used. Lowe’s concoction consisted primarily of Fuller’s Earth, an absorbent clay which was used as an industrial absorbent. In 1947, he began selling the clay concoction from the back of his car in five pound bags as he traveled around the country, and in 1964, he founded the Tidy Cats brand of “kitty litter.” The first clumping litter was invented by Thomas Nelson, a biochemist, in 1984.

Ever wonder what it is that makes the litter “clump”? Sodium bentonite, which expands when wet and forms a “clump.” Sodium bentonite is so absorbent it’s used to seal stock & recreational ponds, dairy and sewage lagoons, and landfills. Wait, somebody call the EPA—we have the answer to the BP oil spill—just throw clumping cat litter down there! We can suck up all the oil, all the ocean, AND plug the leak! WOW! (The cats are yawning and eyeing me sideways as if to say “well, we could have told you THAT.”)

The downside of traditional clumping cat litter is the dust factor, which not only you, but your cats inhale—and the fact that when your cats lick their paws they may be ingesting a certain amount of litter—and sodium bentonite. However, there are litter alternatives which may not only be a little healthier, but also a little greener.

  • ExquisiCat, manufactured for PetSmart and sold in their stores, markets an enviro-friendly pine litter, made from recycled pine—so that new trees do not have to be cut down.
  • Yesterday’s News is made from recycled newspaper, another excellent eco-friendly choice.
  • S’Wheat Scoop is made from wheat—although my cats weren’t sure whether to pee on it or eat it.
  • World’s Best Cat Litter is made from totally organic ingredients, primarily whole kernel corn.
  • Nature’s Miracle Odor Control Litter is made from corn cob, plus it has natural enzymes which help break down the odor which normally accompanying a “session in the restroom.”
  • Feline Pine is perhaps the best known pine litter.
  • Arm & Hammer markets their “Essentials Naturally Clumping Cat Litter” which is made of corn fibers combined with their trademark baking soda. Personally, I also like the fact that it weighs about half of what a typical bucket of traditional clumping litter weighs. No more blown rotator cuffs or cranky backs for me!

So there are quite a variety of choices to make when considering to “green” your cat’s bathroom habits. But what about the litter boxes themselves? Unfortunately there aren’t as many eco-friendly options. Just about all litter boxes are made from plastic of some sort. However, Petmate, the company that makes a variety of pet products including bowls, feeders, and waterers, also makes litter boxes and many of their litter box designs are made from 25% recycled content. Aside from disposable cardboard litter boxes, that’s about it.

I have a friend whose cat has decided that the best way to be eco-friendly is to use her tub as a litter box, which completely frustrates her, but I say “hey, look at all the money you save on litter, you don’t have to buy any litterboxes, and all you have to do is run the water and wash it away.” (oops, forgot what a mess #2 makes) Oh well, can’t have everything.

So my friends, hopefully we’ve provided some good information for you. There is also an excellent website/blog which has a wealth of information on more eco-friendly options for your cat including a 30-day program on “greening Fluffy.”


Filed under Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Cats

Fun & Games

By Nikki Senecal

Stella has wonderful parents who have found ways to channel her high energy!

Our Stella is part border collie. You can’t really tell by looking at her, but her high energy level gives her heritage away! We’ve had to come up with some ways to help her burn off her energy when the weather prevents a visit to the dog park or the sun has gone down (and her energy level has gone up).

  • Obedience Class – You can (and should!) continue to review the exercises you do in obedience class at home. A few sessions of 10-15 minutes each day will help redirect some energy. Start with exercises that require more movement like “touch,” “heel,” and “spin.” (Spin is very easy to teach. This link provides good direction.) Move on to less physical tasks like “leave it,” “sit-stay,” and “down-stay” once some of their energy has been released.

  • Hide and Seek – Once your dog has reliable recall, this game can be fun for the whole family. One family member holds the dog while the other(s) hides somewhere in the house. The hider then calls for the dog, “Stella! Come!”—or if your dog knows other commands, alternate. (We use “treat, treat, treat”—but if you use this one, you always have to have a treat!) Dogs have a harder time establishing where a sound is coming from than humans do, so if your dog seems confused call her name again or say “here” so she can locate you. Don’t repeat the command. Give her a small reward when she finds you. Two or more family members can move about the house hiding in different rooms. Hint: if you have a second floor, be sure to get the dog running up and down the stairs as much as possible! (Also, if your dog is afraid of the bathroom, she will still be afraid of the bathroom while you are playing this game. Don’t hide in there!)
  • Fun Agility – You may not have the time or inclination to compete in agility trials with your dog, but that’s no reason you can’t practice agility. All it takes is a couple of buckets and a leftover piece of quarter round to make an agility jump for your dog (ask me how I know). Teach your dog “over,” and she’ll have a new trick to keep her occupied. A hoola hoop can substitute for a tire jump (depending on the size of your dog). A 40” square table from the thrift shop can function as a pause table and some stakes can make a weave course. Click here for more details.
  • Three Card Monte – Dogs are the only other mammals besides humans who reliably understand pointing. Place a treat under a cup and put it in a lineup with other cups. Point the dog in the right direction and see if he can “find” his treat. Of course, the nose knows! (In this case, unlike three card monte version humans play in the street, spread the cups apart so that it’s easier to locate the smell of the treat.)
  • Working Hard for Her Dinner Treat dispensing toys offer an intellectual—and physical—puzzle for Fido. Anything you can do to get pet dogs thinking will help transfer their energy. Two that you can find at our house include the Kong Stuff-a-Ball and the Omega Tricky Treat Ball. The BusterCube comes recommended as well.

Recommended Reading
Two books that are in our library include:


Filed under Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Dogs