FAQ’S – Frequently Asked Questions about Didga, Boomer, cat training and me.

May 28, 2018

I get a lot of questions about the cats, training, and (sometimes) me.

Here are the Q & A’s

Q: If I come visit The Gold Coast area, how can I meet the cats?

A: If you’re ever in Coolangatta Australia, unlless I’m out of town or construction going on (details below) OR the coronavirus, a good chance to find us is across the street from the Reflections Towers (McDonalds) along the bike path, usually 3 times per week. Wednesday, Friday & Sunday late afternoons from approx 1700 to 1830’ish QLD time. Because of the construction, we have been hanging out by the escalators in front of “The Strand” a Mall on Griffith street (near Coolangatta Hotel) Please email me and let me know when you’re coming at

A little about me: I’m an American now dual citizen, living on the Gold Coast of Australia. I moved here from Los Angeles/Ventura area. I’ve been a professional animal trainer / behaviourist for over 38 years. Trained police dogs in the US Air Force, trained animal actors in Hollywood, then had my own business in Malibu (for over 28 years), with clients like Pam Anderson, Olivia Newton John, Mel Gibson, James Cameron, Dick Clark, Penny Marshall to name just a few.
Once arriving in Australia, I continued my business “Malibu Dog Training” over here – conducting private one-on-one lessons. I had extra time on my hands so I started making YouTube videos using my clients dogs. It was during this time I was longing to get another cat and start another YouTube channel “CATMANTOO” (I’m a dog person/trainer but I’m a CATMANTOO) to educate people about cats. I was hoping to dispel many of the myths associated with cats, i.e. like they can’t be “trained”, they need to roam to be happy, they need to be declawed so they don’t scratch the furniture (unfortunately declawing is still practiced in the U.S.) and many other myths. The cat I was looking to adopt was going to be an ambassador for shelter cats, so I needed a confident cat to teach amazing things to, this will help bring attention to my channel and the causes. At the shelter I looked at many kittens but this cute little energetic and confident 13 weeks old kitten caught my attention the most, she was just the cat I was looking for.

Side Rant: Finding an amazing cat like Didga + my experience + living in this part of the world, is the “purrfect” storm for what I do on CATMANTOO. So please DON’T “try” with your cat many of the things you see Didga and Boomer do, and understand that lot’s of time, weeks, months, even years of practice may have to happen before filming even starts. I would feel bad if your cat got injured or you “forced” them to do something they didn’t like. Even something like walking a cat on the leash requires patients and a specific teaching technique that needs to be followed. If you’re expecting immediate results when teaching animals, especially cats, then you’re doing it wrong.
If you would like to learn how to teach your cat, I have a few tuts on my YouTube channel, OR sign-up to my patreon page where you’ll find a whole library of tutorials. YOUTUBE:



How old is Didga? [Did-ja] 8 years old. Born January 1st, 2012

Is Didga a boy or girl?  A GIRL. FYI – In many Countries, if the first name ends in an “A” it generally means female/feminine

Why the name “Didga”?  Didga is short for Didgeridoo (Australian musical instrument). I came up with the name while on my way to pick her up at the shelter. There’s a breathing exercise I learned while learning to play the Didgeridoo, the exercises went like this, “DIDGA, DA-DIDGA BREATH”. (repeat several times). that’s when it came to me.

What breed is Didga:  Domestic shorthair/Tabby

(About ‘Boomer’) short for Boomerang,  born May 9th. 2015  He is a “Bengal”.  One of several breeds considered “high maintenance” and let me start off by saying, they don’t make good pets, and if I didn’t do what I do, being home most of the time, dedicating almost all of my time to my cats, I would NEVER have any hybrid cat (like a bengal). They are wild (even if just a part of them) it’s not fair for them to be kept in the confines of a home, even with a few walks per week is a cruel place for these wild natured animals. Especially not recommended for “cat people” as they are way too much cat, more like a siberian husky, an animal that needs TONS of stimulation, requiring lot’s of your time & energy than most other domestic cats. They also need space to run off their energy or you won’t be getting much sleep, OH! and they do this screaming meow ritual several times a day, you’re sure to get a notice from councel/animal control on your door.  But you can’t just let them roam freely outside because they have an additional 20 to 30%  killing success on the local wildlife than most other domestic cats, and THIS IS NOT GOOD.  Note: I have A LOT more to say about the breed (pros and cons), so if you’re thinking about getting one, definitely read my blog FIRST. (On this site) “Is the Bengal Breed right for you?”

Bindi & Jeb were foster kittens, I noticed great potential within the first week, I didn’t want to separate them so I adopted them both. Their mother was a domestic shorthair/tabby like Didga, she was found on the streets, pregnant, so we don’t know what breed/mix the father was. a long haired breed of some sort. I smile many times a day at how amazing and cute they are individualy and when they’re togehter. I’m very lucky to have such wonderful cats


Are cats ever too old to learn?
A: No, cats can learn at any age. obviously there are things you should be aware of, like physical limitations on young kittens and older cats (geriatric), also mental memory limitations. the optimum age for teaching them is between 5 months to 3 years Adjust the training accordingly. What’s more important than age is technique (Follow my tutorials to learn the right technique)

Can any cat be trained?
A: Pretty much yes, but cats with higher “food drive” will learn faster. Younger cats (under 2.5 years) are more active and generally have a higher food drive and are generally less fussy about what they eat. Older cats (over 2.5 years) generally are less active and will eat less, and are generally fussy about what they eat. Less training sessions = slower rate of learning. With older or food finicky cats you need to raise the value of their rewards to keep their attention.

How do I get my cat interested in food/treats?
A: Even the most finicky eaters eat something, try a gamier meat to entice them, and most important make “training” times the only times they eat. you’ll notice your cat is more active and will start to pay attention during training sessions.

What kind of food/treats do I recommend?
A: I can only tell you what I use for Didga and Boomer. 60% RAW concoction, 20% raw meat and the rest a high quality holistic can food with occasionally some air dried kibble. Cats are meat eaters, the gamier the meat the better. Raw being best,  “human grade” in moderation because I noticed a behaviour change after feeding it to Didga for 6 days. Her energy level went down.
High quality raw foods may be a little bit more expensive but I always say, pay for it now in high quality food or pay for it later in vet bills.
There is a raw dog food company out there called B.A.R.F. Biologically appropriate raw food and I had Didga on that for a year until I found a a raw mince that Didga went crazy for and is what I still feed today.
Because I do a lot of training, I buy the food frozen, measure out portions in individual bags (bio-degradable bags) and freeze for later use. I place the bags in my “bait bag” and use a spoon to deliver smaller bite size rewards.( It’s weird to be vegan but then feed your cat raw meat.) In summer hot months or for cats that don’t drink a lot of water, add water to the raw food.
NOTE: Whenever abruptly changing an animals diet, it should be done gradually over a two week period.

Are some breeds easier to teach than others?
A: Sort of, but there can be other reasons ‘known’ teachable breeds aren’t as teachable. “BOOMER” (a bengal) known to be one of the most teachable cat breeds isn’t as teachable as Didga, especially once we get outside with all the distractions. (At this stage of his life, things can change as he ages?) or it could be I’m just spoiled from having a special cat like Didga? (from the shelter).  What’s probably more important than a particular breed is “high food drive” cats with it can learn faster and can learn more things. This is a big factor of Didga’s amazing talent.

Do I let my cats roam free (unsupervised) at all?
A: NO WAY! They are indoor/outdoor leashed or supervised. Because they’re trained, or when I’m filming, they’re allowed off the lead to explore in safe areas (supervised of course),

Do I answer people’s training/behavior questions on here or other social media pages, i.e. Facebook, etc.?
A: Sorry, not that often because I get many questions, and there is no time to answer them, besides I shy away from answering because as a behaviourist Its important to get a lot of other information about their home environment before determining the best course of action to take. When I did home lessons, I needed to spend about and hour and a half with the clients, so a quick email with a question isn’t professional, besides, that’s why I make tutorials and answer questions for people on my Patreon page.

How do you get two animals to get along?

A: I made a video tutorial with tips for a dog and cat relations (video on my YouTube channel and on Patreon.) For introducing a cat to an existing cat(s), look for the written post on my Patron page

Why are your cats so comfortable outside and not afraid like other cats?

A: It helped that they were all confident, fearless kittens, then I taught them tricks using lot’s of food reinforcement, practicing in the same places,  for many months. This all help to build their confidence even further. Clicker training is a great way to creates a more positive association to scary things. exposing them gradually to those things they fear using the clicker and high value food (or play) to reward them, if they don’t eat or play when exposed to the fearful thing, you’re probably trying to hurry up the process. FYI – it can take many many weeks of practice to get them over fear, and that’s if you’re doing everything right. NOTE: First I took them around in their pet carrier, getting them used to the sites and sounds of places, usually the same places everyday. while there, I practice their training (outside the carrier) behaviours that were first taught in the home, As I noticed them improving and showing less fear, they more time would be spent out of the carrier, until I only needed the carrier on occasion (eventually not at all). Be aware that the carrier idea only work if they love being in their carrier, I’m sorry but I don’t have a tutorial on that… yet.

Good news! I’ve made a few cat and dog training video tutorials available (free) on my YouTube channel. and I have many more tutorials for patrons on my Patreon page. I’m hoping people value my advice, my time and want to help me help cats and other animals around the world. Become a patron. To learn more>

You can find other training advice by visiting my website, and other social media pages. Follow/subscribe  Facebook      and Instagram @catmantoo

How do we help spread the word about your cats, and the catmantoo page?

A: “Sharing” it’s the best way to spread the word about us, you can also share our content with the pages you follow (or messenger)   🙂 Clicking the “likes” button and making comments, all is appreciated and I really do try to read them all. (POSTING TIP) To increase the chance of your friends seeing your posts (you may already know this?) is to “like” your own posts, and if you comment on your own post fb see’s this as activity on the post which gives the post priority to be seen by more people.

If we see one of your videos on another page with no visible tag to your page (catmantoo) what can we do to alert you to it?

A: you can tag us in the comments @catmantoo or send us a link to the page. or take a screen shot? basically I just need the name of the page and date of post. It doesn’t happen “as” frequent, but my videos used to get stolen all the time, especially Didga skateboarding at the skate park, OMGoodness! Every week for over a year I found at least 5 stolen copies of my videos, most were the skateboarding video.

That’s all for now, I do add new Q & A’s on occasion so keep checking back.

If you’re still reading this, comment below with a “hello” and where you’re from?  or if you have anything to add, maybe a question you think should be answered above. again sorry if I don’t answer your question.

Thanks for listening

Robert, Didga, Boomer, Bindi and Jeb

California is 1st State to ban puppy mill sales at pet shops

October 15, 2017

Assembly Bill #485 has been signed!

This is great news, hope other States get on board with this. JUST BE AWARE the puppy mill industry has seen this day coming, which is why they have been moving their operation online or in newspapers, so DON”T BE FOOLED – RESCUING an animal is the best thing EVER! and I encourage everyone to find their new member of the family there. However, If you absolutely must have a “pure breed” dog/cat or other? go to local dog/cat/rabbit shows where the REAL breeders are there to answer your questions. Just be warned, it’s a fact that “pure breeds” do come with inherited genetic defects. it’s true that the better the breeder the less problems you should have. with that said it’s not uncommon to pay top dollar for the breed you want, then after just a few short months or years, you could be spending even MORE MONEY on vet bills because of heart problems, breathing problems, hip problems, skin problems, etc. Having a mix breed doesn’t exclude you from problems, it just makes it less likely to happen.

DETAILS ABOUT THE BILL: This bill would prohibit, on and after January 1, 2019, a pet store operator from selling a live dog, cat, or rabbit in a pet store unless the dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group, as defined, that is in a cooperative agreement with at least one private or public shelter, as specified.

The bill would require all sales of dogs and cats authorized by this provision to be in compliance with laws requiring the spaying or neutering of animals, as specified. The bill would require each pet store to maintain records sufficient to document the source of each dog, cat, or rabbit the pet store sells or provides space for, for at least one year, and to post, in a conspicuous location on the cage or enclosure of each animal, a sign listing the name of the entity from which each dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained, and would authorize public animal control agencies or shelters to periodically require pet stores engaged in sales of dogs, cats, or rabbits to provide access to those records. The bill would make a pet store operator who violates these provisions subject to a civil penalty of $500, as specified. The bill would also exempt a pet store operator who is subject to these provisions from certain requirements relating to the retail sale of dogs and cats, except as specified.

To learn more, visit the California Legislative Information website AB485

What are your thoughts?

CATMANTOO STORE – Didga and Boomer wear

July 29, 2017

Thanks for visiting,

People were asking, so we finally did it.

“> 24/7 store, with Didga and or Boomer on shirts for both women and men, different styles, colors, and different items. (a few more to come)

Teespring is the best T-shirt company we know, not only do they have good prices but their shirts are super good quality. Also, they have the lowest overseas shipping prices I’ve seen.

A portion of sales goes to help animals, and also helps to support our channel to keep the animal welfare causes on everyones mind, like adopt don’t shop, spay and neuter, keep cats indoors, Never declaw a cat, feed a species appropriate diet, and other important causes that need our attention.

We have been in partnership on and off (mostly off) with Teespring for a few years now and have never heard any complaints, but If you have any problems or questions, contact me directly

Thanks for visiting, here is our store link CATMANTOO STORE (Here is a sample of the shirts.)


Want to teach your cat to ride in a Bike Basket?

April 5, 2017


I guess by now you’ve seen the videos of both Didga and Boomer riding in my bike basket, they love it. but it wasn’t just a thing they did naturally, well not for us. it took some time and lots of food reinforcement to have them enjoy riding, and to stay in the basket. I’m so glad I taught them because nothing is more fun than to have your cat ride a long with you on a bike ride.

That’s why I make a video tutorials on my Patreon page, so you at home can learn the proper way to teach your cat all sorts of things.

The bike basket tutorial was just uploaded, so go check it out

But before you attempt something like this, I recommend this for confident cats. or cats that when enticed with food can adapt to new situations. Going through this training can greatly improve on your cats confidence level. Give it a try, your cat just may love it, like Boomer. he thinks it’s the greatest thing ever!

Video tutorial now available on my Patreon page 

Feel free to comment, but if you have direct questions you’ll need to ask them on Patreon page.

Thanks for following


Robert, Didga and Boomer


March 19, 2016

VIDEO – Cat Surfs Swimming Dog!
It’s a hot day in the land Down Under but Didga and Ice know how to keep cool… A little “Ice surfing” anyone? Follow at catmantoo & Thanks for subscribing and sharing our video  ICE SURFING



INTRODUCING A NEW CAT to your current cat(s)

February 17, 2014

  No matter the age of the cats or how much you think/want your cats to get along, you can’t force them to like each other. Putting them face to face or putting them in a room to let them “work it out” is not how you properly introduce cats, that’s how you ruin a relationship, and in some cases the cats may never fully get over that bad experience. Doing it the right way however will greatly increase the likely hood of a positive relationship, but be prepared as it can take several days to several weeks (maybe longer) for cats to adjust to each other.

How long depends on several things… how patient you are, whether you’re introducing a kitten to an older cat or an older cat to an older cat, if the cats have any history of being around/playing with other cats, or how their first few encounter are with the new cat (and a few other reasons.)
Follow the advice as close as possible, listen to your cats, they’ll let you know when you can move to the next steps. If you get impatient and they have a bad 1st, 2nd, 3rd experience, this could leave a lasting impression and could effect their relationship from then on, it’s better to stop the session and try again another time/day, than it is to get impatient with this process.

Think of every behavioural issue that you want to stop or manage being exactly like a person that has a phobia they want to cure. Let’s say it’s a fear of spiders, well, on day one, you wouldn’t place a bunch of spiders on the person to make their phobia go away. The first few sessions might be just talking about spiders in a positive way, once you’re comfortable with that, maybe looking at picture of a spider, then when you’re comfortable with that, maybe a spider in an aquarium at a far distance, and so on step by step. There could be weeks or months of this process to help desensitise you from your fear, and even if you do everything right, it usually doesn’t go from 100% disliking spiders to 100% liking them. after following all the steps there may just be a 50% improvement to your phobia.

We’re going to use a systematic desensitisation approach while at the same time do our best to create a positive association whenever the cats smell each other, look at each other, and as they get closer and closer to each other.

A crate/pet carrier is your friend, make sure you teach your cats (at least one of them) to love being in their crate/pet carrier.

Keep them separated for the first 2 to 7+ days, letting them explore the house separately which will get them used to each others smells.
Next, when allowed, and for short amounts of time throughout the day. carry one cat at a time around the home, like one would a new baby, sitting occasionally (far from the other cat at first),  just do things you might do normally. All animals are wired to recognise and eventually except a new addition to the family/group/pack etc.  Practice a few times per day and everyday until you notice less negative (if any) reactions and a more “curious” demeanor starts to develop, the one not being carried may start to come over to investigate. Stop the exercise whenever hissing happens.
Note: If a cat doesn’t like being held, you can try to create a positive association with being held through practice sessions of picking up (holding) the cat and feed, or have the cat in your lap and feed. This technique can some time to sink in, but the more you only feed your cat in your lap, the more the cat will tolerate being picked-up/held (for short periods) (At least that’s what’s supposed to happen) your results will vary. Or use the pet carrier to carry your cat around.

The goal here is to see the cat who’s not being held behaving less afraid and becoming  more and more curious, coming closer to investigate (sometimes there’ll be a little hissing with each new level of progress)

IMPORTANT: At or around this same time, you can mix in the following things.

  1. Have your cats eat a meal on either side of a doorway or sliding glass door (or child gate)
  2. Have them interact/smell and or play with each other under a closed door or separated by a puppy/child gate/sliding glass door, etc..  use a toy in this case to create a positive association when each other is around. (Only advance when there is little to no sign of aggression.
  3. Using a toy, have them play with each other through a barely open door.
  4. Using no barrier, but with the cats comfortably separated, play with a cat using a feather toy (or other type) while the other cat watches from afar, This is a great way to keep them both focused on the toy and in a good mood which will help build their confidence being around each other. Note that during the play try not to cause them to jump at each other and risking them getting too close. if they both want the same toy, try using two toys. This is a great sign if they can play or eat while the other cat is nearby.
  5. Teach your cats (separately) other tricks, having them first learn what the “clicker” is, so you can move onto other behaviours like shake, stay, high five, how to walk on leash, etc. Watch all the tutorials on my YouTube channel. @catmantoo

AT this point, unless your cats are playing with each other and you have no aggression problems, I would strongly suggest doing this last very effective bonding exercise.

  1. Hold one cats in one hand and a spoon with a little super high value food  in the other hand – ‘gamey’ raw meat (or can) food is best.  Note: CATS MUST BE HUNGRY AND YOU MUST USE HIGH VALUE FOOD) – Walk up to the cat on the ground, try to feed them at a long arms length away. If your cat runs away, that’s okay, it happens. stop then try the same thing an hour or two later. (Make sure your cat doesn’t have access to food elsewhere). Practice 4 to 6 times per day. You may have to postpone this exercise and feed them using one of the other suggestions, then start up again the next day. Eventually the cat won’t run and will eat from the spoon, if the cat continues to eat while the other cat is in your arms (or in pet carrier) keep feeding. With each session crouch lower & lower to the ground until you can put the cat in your arms on your knee, allow your cats to take turns eating off the spoon (if they stop eating, they may be full or you’ve gotten too close. LAST STEP before using the clicker – Try placing the cat on the ground, (again, take turns feeding them both).

The goal is to get the 2 cats on the ground within reach of you. This will free up your hands so you can immediately  add clicker training, this will really help speed the process up and continue to create a positive association with each other. AGAIN DON’T TRY THIS UNLESS THEY ARE HUNGRY. if they are hissing or running away, you might be getting ahead of yourself. stop the session and try hours later or the next day.

USING THE CLICKER – Whenever your cats look at each other, get closer to each other, walk towards each other, are not hissing at each other while they are close, CLICK & FEED. If it seems that you have one friendly cat and one aggressive cat, focus mostly  on the aggressive cat making sure they get the clicks and treats.

END the session Once your cats start turning away from the food (getting full),  try again later. Anytime there is a negative confrontation stop the session and try again another time, you’ll be AMAZED at what gets carried over to the next session, that’s why you have to have patience. If you push this process and they fight, then your chances of them getting along becomes less realistic.

FYI – When Didga and Rascal, Didga and Boomer were at this point, there was never any hissing while I was clicking and feeding. I hope you’re getting the same results.

When you feel like they are ready to meet, pick the room that has cat tree’s or something they can climb on if they need to get away from the other cat. Be involved in their meeting, don’t just put them in the same room and stand back and watch, I don’t want you to get hurt but if one is a young kitten, I might get right in-between them and pat, tease play and or treat while they are close….

Let me reiterate, please don’t push them into a relationship, patience is the key. WITH THAT SAID, there are cats that no matter what you do, they will not 100% tolerate another cat(s). If you’re following my advice, step by step, over days, weeks or months but not seeing the change/progress I’m talking about,  then you may have one of those cats that just never will get a long. then it becomes a situation of just managing their behaviour, OR if the stress on both the cats is too much and it’s been months and months of trying, finding a home for one might be best for all involved.

If you read this post and/or found my advice helpful, please let me know in the comments below, that way I’ll be encouraged to give more advice. and maybe, if I get enough interest, I’ll make a video tutorial to REALLY show exactly how to do this cat introduction thing.

…. Happy training.

Robert, Didga and Boomer

Top Tweets

November 10, 2009

I’ve posted over 1800 tweets on twitter and have over 5000 followers.  The 10 tweets listed below are ones that other people have either responded to or re-tweeted to their followers.

1. NEVER use laser pointers as a chase game for dogs! It may be entertaining 2 U, but it literally drives dogs crazy! Really!..Warning About Laser Pointers

2. If you’re wondering if you should get a dog or not? I say, Don’t Get A Dog ….(DON\’T GET A DOG)

3. You’re saying “goodbye, be a good doggy”, they hear nah nah I’m leaving you all alone, all by… (NO EMOTIONAL HELLO’S)

4. Pointing only gets them to look at your finger, it’s not until they’re trained do they know what your pointing at.

5. Around 5 MILLION dogs and cats (in U.S.) are euthanized each year. Leave breeding 2 professionals. Spay /neuter your pet!

6. Dogs are unaware of the dangers and social expectations within the human world. It’s your job to educate them

7. It’s just a tennis ball to us, to them it’s NIRVANA!

8.  Your dog’s mind is a terrible thing to waste, educate, don’t dominate

9. For many years I’ve questioned the veterinarian immunization schedule for dogs because I believe immunizations can…(SHORTNING A DOGS LIFE)

10. Why the pack leader mentality 4 training and living with your dog is out of date and inappropriate. The dog training…(Old vs. New)

A few of my favorites:

Little dogs don’t know they’re little but owners keep trying to convince them they are.

A dogs “G” spot is behind the ears, the chest or tummy and right b 4 the tail on their back.

A dog living in the backyard will only learn things that will keep them there.

Follow me @ MalibuDogTrainr

It’s us, not the dog

October 7, 2009


Puppy Mill Awareness Day

September 17, 2009

This past weekend, was Puppy Mill Awareness Day in a few cities across the U.S. and Canada. Actually, everyday should be Puppy Mill Awareness Day. If you haven’t yet, please read my blog Pet Shops and Puppy Mills. Also below is a link  to a news story about this past weekend, where Victoria Stilwell  (whom I like better than any other trainer on t.v.) of Animal Planet It’s Me or the Dog fame, celebrated Puppy Mill Awareness Day in Intercourse, Pa. Other Puppy Mill Awareness days are scheduled over the next couple of months. Please lend your support when one comes to your town

Blog Pet Shops and Puppy Mills.

News story from Paw Print Post Puppy Mill Awareness Day

Boarding a Dog part 2

September 10, 2009

All my friends

All my friends

This is a continuation to Boarding your dog, part 1

Part 2:  As the manager of a Pet Hotel for several years I have some insight and tips to help you save money and find a good safe place for your pet to stay.

There is an airborne virus called Canine cough but many people refer to it as Kennel cough, because dogs can catch it while staying at a kennel. However, dogs can catch it anywhere, even in a vet office. Just like us catching a cold from a co-worker or a child catching something from a classmate, dogs can catch things from other dogs. In my opinion, the less your dog is around other dogs, the more susceptible they are to getting sick, that’s because their immunity is not as strong as the dogs that get out and around other dogs, but it also can depend on the individual dog and the strength of their immune system. This is why kennel operators require the Bordetella Vaccination. It’s best your dog gets it several days before boarding but be aware that having the shot doesn’t always protect them against every strain of the virus. If your pet was exposed to the virus, it could take a few days for them to show the symptoms. I’m not telling you not to seek attention from your vet if they start making a gagging or coughing sound,  I’m just saying if your dog is eating and playing (on their own) somewhat normally, I wouldn’t rush them to the vet. If however, they weren’t eating, showing a temperature and frequently gagging and coughing, then by all means seek medical attention. The antibiotics the vets gives don’t cure the dog from what they’ve caught but help avoid any secondary infections. Just like a child with a cold/flu, rest, lots of fluids (low or no temperature) the virus will run it’s course. FYI- Symptoms usually run their course in 3 – 7 days but can last as long as 14 days. (Use common sense, so when in doubt, seek medical attention.)

note: if your dog gets sick, in most cases, it’s not the kennel or managers fault, just like it’s not the Principles fault if your child catches a cold from another student. It is part of being a dog owner.

Boarding dogs can get very expensive, if you have more than one dog or you are a frequent boarder ask for a discount. You never know unless you ask. I would give discounts to military, seniors, students or people who were going to causes I thought were worthy of a discount.

Ask what dog food they feed, or ask if you can bring a special diet and do they charge extra for that? Buying a good dog food in bulk can get very expensive, so don’t expect the best quality food at the kennel, although kennels are now paying attention to what the costumer wants.

With some dogs, switching dog food abruptly can cause intestinal problems. In our facility we had a great track record with No bloating problems and only a small percentage of dogs having loose stools because  of the food change. If your dog has been on the same food all it’s life, you probably want to bring your own food. If your dog is accustom to a variety of foods, or a variety of high quality food, they probably wont have a reaction. My perceptions is, going from a low quality food to a high one usually causes the loose stools, I don’t find it happening as much the other way.

Do they do anything to help calm dogs nerves like having a T.V. on during the day (not animal planet). Air fans or a ticking clock during the day or night which helps drown out other dog or outside noises.

Does the kennel accept Titer verifications: You can get a blood test instead of giving a shot. The blood test is called “titer”. I believe over-immunizing can shorten your dog’s life. Read my blog “shortening a dog’s life”

A few other questions you might ask is what Vet do they use, is someone there at night and do they have an evacuation plan?

If you have any questions or comments for me, please fill out the comment form.

Boarding Your Dog

August 17, 2009

doginrobePart 1:  As the manager of a Pet Hotel for several years I have some insight and tips to help you find a good safe place for your pet to stay.

Referrals are best; find a friend who likes a particular place, or ask a Vet or any dog business.

When you first call a boarding facility, make sure you ask what the business hours are. I only mention this because many people would arrive at our place after business hours and never called or checked our website to find out. I guess some people just thought because the dogs are there all the time the facility must be open to humans all the time.

Price: Some places charge by the night some by the day; some places have specific  check in and check out times. If they charge by the day, they usually throw in a free bath or at least they should. Some throw in a free bath with several nights stay.  Charging by the night is the best, that way you don’t have to worry about specific check in and out times and your dog can have fun all day before picking them up. Just make clear what your being charged for  before any bookings. The facility I managed charged by the night and no check in or out times. We also offered (for a small fee) after hours drop off and pick-up as late as 9pm.

I used to laugh when clients would tell me other facilities needed to meet their dog before allowing them to board. What are they Dr. Doolittle? Having to meet your dog would only be if your dog was going to be socializing with other dogs, and you can’t tell a dog’s aggressive nature just by meeting them. Usually just a few questions over the phone is enough a knowledgeable dog person needs to determine a dogs aggressive nature, as long as owners were being honest. I could usually tell if something didn’t sound right. If we still had doubts about the compatibility of the dog, we would require them to come stay for a doggy day care session (minimum 5 hours). The fact is some dogs are overly assertive once they get there and then mellow out. Other dogs are really mellow when they first arrive but get more aggressive as the day goes on. There’s a process to determine which dogs are aggressive (or not) without any dog getting hurt, but you can’t tell in all cases just by “meeting” the dog.

If the facility offers doggy day care, it might be a good idea to bring them a few times or for an overnight stay. This helps them get used to the place and people before a longer stay.

Ask the manager if they can show you around. They may not be able to show you the full facility but if they have nothing to hide they should be able to show you enough to satisfy you.  I’ve heard of places that say because of their insurance they are not allowed to let people in. We never had problems with our insurance. I would just ask those people, “You expect me to leave my dog here, without seeing what the conditions are?”

On your dog’s first day of boarding, when you first arrive at the facility, don’t read into your dog’s reaction. Our facility was a great place for a dog to socialize and build their confidence, but occasionally when a new dog came in, they appeared so frightened we practically had to carry them inside. After an hour or so they were running around having the best time. Dogs do adapt quickly to things, especially if the owners aren’t around. It also helps if you find a place with a knowledgeable staff and great clientele with great dogs. Hopefully the managers has a lot of experience working with dogs like a trainer, behaviorist, veterinarian and not someone who just thought it would be nice to open a kennel.

If the facility states they walk the dogs on leash twice a day and when you’re there inspecting the place, you should see dogs being walked. It’s a very time consuming process. Especially if it’s around a holiday weekend, facilities usually double or triple the amount of dogs they have, so walking dogs on leash is almost impossible during those times. Some places will still charge you for the walks but don’t walk the dogs! Our facility had 5 one hour long (off leash) group play times, even a late night play session between 8 and 9pm. It didn’t matter if it was a holiday or not. The dogs all got out and by the end of the day, they were all pooped out.

Keep in mind that the reality of group dog play sessions, on occasion, a dog can get hurt, just like kids at a playground. One dog pushes a dog who bangs into another, like when kids play, every once in a while someone gets a scraped knee.

I will post part 2 at another time.  If you subscribe with just your email you will be notified when I post something new.

Boarding your dog part 2 BOARDING PART 2

Pet Shops & Puppy Mills

August 3, 2009


Many reputable breeders will not sell their dogs to pet shops. Why? Because breeders take pride in their work and absolutely care where the puppies are placed (homed).  Breeders want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, they don’t want their dogs offspring to end up being abandoned or given to a shelter or worst?  Many Pet shops only care if you have the money to pay for the over- inflated priced dogs. I’ve read up to 95% of Pet shops in the U.S. get their puppies from puppy mill type operations and big corporations are backing puppy mills. The sad fact is these operations care more about the money and not about the living conditions of the dogs.  Big Corporations are getting into the action and making lots of money because people don’t think things through before buying a puppy and mostly buy on impulse. Some of the pet shops show what appears to be legitimate paper work from a reputable breeder but you can trace it back to a puppy mill operation. Many new regulations have made it more difficult for pet shops to buy puppies from puppy mills but like everything, they find a way around it.  So unless you have time to do the research I would stay clear purchasing a puppy from a pet shop.  Here’s some advice on what to do and what not to do if you want a puppy.

Don’t be spontaneous! I know that puppy in the window is cute, but all puppies are cute and you dont know without research where that puppy in the window came from.

Do your homework. Getting a dog is a big responsibility and you need the right breed to fit your lifestyle.

Take the family and go to a dog show. There you will learn about the breed you are interested in. Talk to the breeders who know the breed the best. They may even tell you about a litter of puppies that are due in a week or so.

Here are some more reasons to buy directly from a reputable breeder:

1. Puppies are in better living and health conditions.

2. Puppies stay with the mother and litter-mates through the crucial imprint period 6-8 weeks.

3. Most Breeders make sure the puppies are handled by adults and children. They also become familiar with household sounds.

4. Breeders introduce the puppy to the concept of housebreaking; they may have been introduced to a crate. This will make housebreaking much easier for you.

5.  Breeders have a health history of the puppy’s parents. Good sound and healthy parents produce good sound healthy puppies!

Problems that could arise when buying from a pet shop:

1. Puppies may be taken too early from the mother and litter-mates, this can have an affect on their temperament latter in life.

2. In pet shops, puppies can be confined for sometimes weeks. Eating, playing and going to the bathroom all in the same small area, can make it extremely difficult to housebreak them.

3. If the pet shop is getting dogs from puppy mills, those dogs are not the best of that breed. Health risks are usually inherited by parents. The puppy may look healthy, but problems can arise later in the dog’s life. Sick, genetically defective or ill tempered dogs reproduce the same.

Another option instead of a breeder or pet shop, you can always adopt a dog from a shelter. When I trained animal actors we would rescue dogs from the shelter and make them working actors. Adopting a pure or mix breed from a shelter is a good thing.  Mix breeds tend to be more intelligent and have less health issues than pure breeds.

My experiences about this subject is primarily directed to the U.S.A. I am not aware of other countries practices, although I’ve heard from one pet shop owner, that Australia has strict guidelines for pet shops who sell puppies. Let’s hope they all adhere to the rules. (oopps I guess they dont either, read comments below)

Here is a group that works very hard to get the word out about puppymills

DNA Breed Identification Test

July 28, 2009

dogSince I’m around dogs and dog owners a lot, I find they are really curious about what exact breed or mix their dog is. The question is would they be willing to pay to find out? There are several DNA dog breed testing companies you can find on the Internet and a few pet stores. It’s a painless procedure, just cotton swab a little of your dog’s saliva, send it through the mail and within a few weeks you’ll get the answer.

Although knowing might help alert you to some potential health risk common in particular breeds, would there be anything you could do about it and because mix breeds don’t always suffer the same health risks as the pure breeds, would it just be  a lot of worrying for nothing? So from my perspective, the only advantage knowing is well, knowing.

If you just gotta know, DNA kits are available here DNA BREED TESTS

Top 10 Smartest Breeds

July 10, 2009

bordercollieSome of the more-trainable breeds were tested to determine which breeds might be smarter. The tests judged how quickly they learned obedience commands and how quickly they solved problems. Regardless of who’s #1 a lot of our dogs potential depends on us, the more active we are with them, the more knowledge we have, the more training we do, our dogs will become smarter.  So keep reading from blog sites like mine and your dog will be competing for a spot in the top ten. However, don’t get your hopes too high as I think the breed in the #1 spot has nothing to worry about.

10. Australian cattle dog

9.   Rottweiler

8.   Papillon

7.   Labrador

6.   Shetland Sheepdog

5.   Doberman

4.   Golden Retriever

3.   German Shepherd

2.   Poodle

1.   Border Collie