Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade liver training treats, a how-to tutorial

In training puppies and dogs, there are a few things to remember - consistency, keep the sessions short, a good sense of timing and most of all, use really yummy treats... and just tiny bits of them. In keeping your dogs attention during training sessions - we can use all the help that we can get!

I see many people buy expensive dog training bits and treats, but to me it seems a bit silly. You can use things like hot dogs, sliced thinly and then cut into quarters - or you can make homemade liver training treats for just pennies. Best of all, in the latter case you have control of what ingredients are in the treats and most dogs love liver.

Start with organic calf liver (this is important as the organ acts as a filter to mitigate toxins from the body), boiled for a few minutes in water to cook (10 - 15 minutes), then rinse off to get rid of the scum that accumulates. Dry with a paper towel, then place the boiled liver onto a cookie sheet, completely flat and into a 225 degree oven (depending on your oven, as temperatures vary) for another 15-20 minutes to dry. Cool the dried liver and you can break off tiny pieces as you need them. Since there are no preservatives in these treats, I recommend keeping the dried liver refrigerated in a container for up to a week.

Remember, dogs should not eat too much liver, so keep the number of treats low, and the bits tiny.

Watch an online tutorial here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Take Your Dog To Work Day!

A few days ago, I wrote a piece on with regard to Take Your Dog To Work Day celebrated on June 25 that's been celebrated over the past few years. It is an opportunity to focus on the relationship between animals and humans and additionally, pet adoption.

In preparation for the article, I created a poll, and posed a few questions to clients and friends and they had some interesting things to say about the idea of having dogs in the workplace.

One person working in an office setting indicated,
It would be great for person who gets to bring in their pet and would enhance the environment/well-being of the office at large. having a dog approach me for a scratch behind the ears would be a wonderful way to take a break from the office routine. However, the big downside is that many people are allergic to pets, and if there is even one co-worker who is, the office really needs to respect that and not permit animals in hte office area. Some people are afraid of animals, and that could present some problems as well.

Another, who is a therapist:
These days, I rarely bring in my dog in my sessions, but years ago, I often brought my old dog to work with me, until he was banned by the administrator - and the dog was very helpful!

Will you be lucky enough to be able to have your pet with you at work today? Take the poll:

Friday, June 18, 2010

44 animals seized from Webster Township home following anonymous tip -

When will this kind of thing end? 42 dogs. Wow.

I'm so thankful to the individuals who spoke up and made the call. I always wonder when there is a case like this that comes to light, "How many others are out there, undiscovered?" If you ever see or hear anything that you feel might be questionable, never be afraid to speak up. Animal cruelty is a lose/lose situation.

44 animals seized from Webster Township home following anonymous tip -

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dog park blues

Yesterday, I read this article by Eric Goebelbecker, owner of Dog Spelled Forward. Eric is a certified dog trainer in Bergen County, New Jersey area.

His thoughts on dog parks made perfect sense to me, and is why I do not participate in the whole dog park thing in my business. I find that some dog owners can't even control their dogs on a walk - especially in the city. Some mean well, I think, hover they lack the ability to be able to read their dogs' body language, and sometimes have not mastered basic training and commands with their dog.

I worry about the whole movement toward not getting dogs vaccinated, too. I understand some folks' reasons for not doing so - (health reasons, prior reaction, age) - but generally those dogs are not in a more 'public' setting and there is much less of a chance of spreading disease.

What are your thoughts on dog parks? What is your experience?

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She has extensive experience with animals including dogs, amphibians, exotic birds and cats, and is always interested in learning new concepts in animal behavior and health.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Poll: Do you take your dog to work with you?

With the workplace environment becoming more relaxed, more and more people are able to bring their dogs to work with them. Are you one of them? Participate in the poll and please - leave your comments... how it has changed the way that you feel, your productivity and how it affects your work environment as a whole.

If you work in the Ann Arbor area, I'd be very interested in talking with you personally about your experience.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

'Me again. The dog without a home'.

This guys face just kills me. He really seems to understand the predicament that he's in. If you have room in your life and home to adopt a dog, please consider Hobo. Get in touch with Westarbor Animal Hospital at 734-769-5391

'Me again. The dog without a home'.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Humane Society of Huron Valley needs foster volunteers!

Last week, the cruelty and rescue staff from HSHV rescued 18 dogs, and are mostly small breed.

Due to the increased caseload of puppies - which was exacerbated by the intake of 26 puppies from Mississippi - the organization desperately needs foster volunteers to help out. Are you interested in being a foster? You can make all of the difference!

The dogs were taken out of a hoarding situation, first reported by Tina Reed of

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A cockatoo rocks it

A couple of weeks ago, I talked a bit about my clients life with her cockatoo, Buddy. I touched briefly on the way that Buddy will interact with me, and the world that exists outside of her cage. She is receptive to all sorts of stimuli including the activity of other birds that she observes out the large window in her view - and the tonal variations in my voice, body language and movement, and she'll respond in kind. Interestingly enough, she responds to music too. Buddy's owner, Marlene will leave a radio set on a timer to come on at various times of day in her absence. During the last block of time that I cared for her, some music started to play in a segment of a news story on NPR. Buddy immediately took notice, perked up and cocked her head to the side. The spontaneous music seemed to elicit exaggaterated movement on her part and when I started to bop around and dance a little, Buddy began to get more excited, vocalize and do the same. She seems to recognize and associate the movement with music.

In the book, Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin talks about how the brains of animals and humans differ - and how they are alike. The renowned animal scientist also touched on Dr. Irene Pepperberg's work with an African gray parrot, Alex. Some amazing discoveries have been made about what is known now about the way these birds' brains are wired for language - both receptive and expressive - and cognition. Dr. Pepperberg at one point teamed up with Adena Schachner to study the effects of music on this species.

I am always blown away by the interesting things that animals show us what they are capable of. Earlier today, I saw this video of Snowball, a medium sulphur crested Eleanora cockatoo. He looks like he's having a great time! If nothing else, it will make your day.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular Pets contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting, and has extensive experience with animals including dogs, cats, amphibians and of course, birds.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A happy surprise or planned decision: what's your story?

We all have stories of how our pets came to be in our midst. Participate by taking the poll. Be sure to share your stories in the comments section!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flea prevention options

Since our Gretchen was approaching the big "10" last year, I really started to think seriously about the way her body metabolizes chemicals and drugs at this age. Actually, I've always had concerns with regard to what is used in, on and around my pets. Especially with the frequency of use with lawn care products and cleaning supplies, I've opted to go the natural route whenever I can.

In my knowledge of herbs and naturally based components, I know that there things that help to address fleas, and have employed products and homemade formulations through the years. (I should note that just because something is natural, it does not always mean that it is safe to use on every species of animal. As an example, tea tree oil is an effective all purpose ingredient, but it should never be used on cats. Due to its phenolic activity, it is toxic to them.) Neem oil works well in addressing fleas, and is safe. It's especially great for chemically sensitive pets. However there is one caveat - it smells horrible. I do use a great shampoo made for pets that contains neem oil and the smell is agreeable. It's safe for frequent use, if necessary.

Raw neem oil is available at local natural markets and health food stores. You can add it to your favorite pet shampoo.

After taking our crew in for their annual checkup with Dr. Critchfield of Chelsea Animal Hospital last year, we discussed flea/tick prevention, naturally. I expressed concern with all of the pets, but primarily Gretchen and her age, and inquired about a more natural approach to prevention. The Dr. offered that there was a option that works great, has little or no side effects and uses a naturally occurring bacteria, found in soil. I was thrilled. Since that time, Comfortis has been our preference to addressing fleas on our dogs. One of the best things about it - it's a once monthly pill, so it's easy to administer - no messy topicals! Two caveats with the product, though. It is not indicated for ticks, and is not approved for use in cats.

We look forward to another great year without fleas, and doing it in a safe manner.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She has extensive experience with animals including dogs, amphibians, exotic birds and cats. Contact her at