Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Importance of Enrichment

If you were wondering why there were no posts for the past 5 months....

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I actually left  my comfort zone and took up a job with a zoological facility in Singapore recently in a bid to understand more about animals, particularly mammals such as big cats and bears. It was like a childhood dream came true. A tick added to the bucket list. That's my only excuse for the lack of posts and I am truly apologetic. :)

Today, I am going to share something about enrichment activities for your pets. Throughout the course of learning at the zoological job, one thing that struck out the most to me was that animals gets bored easily. An animal becomes bored due to a lack mental and environmental stimulation. Boredom affects the animal's weight, diet, health and mental well-being.  One thing that we keepers (yes, I am an animal keeper there) do to prevent that from happening is to do enrichment activities daily for the animals.

A zoo animal's situation is fairly similar to our pet's (companion animals such as dogs and cats). They are kept at our homes for the most part of the day while we are at work. Some of us may bring our dogs down for a short walk in the park when we come home. Some of us may even take out 30 mins to an hour's time to engage in some form of play with them. Is this truly enough for them? What happens to them during the rest of the 8 to 10 hours when we are not at home?

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They will sleep, stare into space, day dream and some mischievous ones will do some wreckage to your furniture. That's something I imagine a prisoner in jail does.

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So what are the usual solutions pet owners have? Some would say, "Go for obedience training!". "Agility classes for dogs!" , or " Bring them to the dog run parks and let them spend their energy!".

I agree that obedience classes for dogs are important, but in reality, the training is for you, not the dog. Its about training you to work together with your dogs. Back breaking but totally worth it.

Agility classes, on the other hand, are for owners totally into drilling your dogs to do the obstacles like a recruit doing SOC. Drills are the fastest way to get someone to follow your orders. In essence, drills teaches obedience and discipline. They are both useful tools and avenues to spend their energy. You'll get a good workout too.

How about going to the dog run? Factors we need to consider would be the weather, the crowd there, your doggie's mood and personality. For example, Peanut (our chihuahua)  is an extreme introvert. Going to the dog run means that he will be sitting under then benches with you the whole time. Total time needed to prep for this activity would take like 30 mins and another 15 mins drive to the nearest park. Too much to do.

What can we do to avoid all this blood, sweat and tears to make our pets happier? The simplest things are often the most useful.

Enrichment activity is the key.

For this post, I'm just going to introduce a simple game you can play with your pets. we often do it with the Serval cats. I shall call it  "Magical Bowls". You will need the following items:

  • 3 bowls or cups
  • Your pet's favorite treat

How to play?

  1. Overturn 3 bowls
  2. Place one piece of treat in one of the overturned bowls. Make sure your pet witness you in case he accuses you of cheating his feelings
  3. Shift it as how you watch people play magical cups
  4. Let your pet sniff out where the treat is, and give praise as and when needed.
  5. Lastly, if he finds it, don't be a loser and let him have the treat!

Watch this video 

What was achieved 

There's a total of five aspect of enrichment activities that are achievable. 
  • Social - Relating to the social behavior of the animal
  • Sensory - Relating to the five senses of the body
  • Physical - Relating to the physical environment that the animal has been placed 
  • Nutritional - Relating to the dietary habits of the animal
  • Occupational - Relating to how they would react and think in a particular activity
The simple activity you have done for your pet would have achieved Sensory, Nutritional, Physical and  Occupational aspects. All that would have taken probably 15 mins of your time, and it provided a valuable bonding session for the both of you. You can carry on playing for a good 30 mins, with variations like 6 bowls instead of 3, or increasing the amount and value of the treats hidden.

Everything will be done indoors, with minimum sweat, minimum hassles for the working class pet owners like you and me.

Call me lazy. Mission Accomplished. Happy dogs, Happy me.

More activities to be posted and experimented. Have fun trying it out!


Friday, October 10, 2014

A Little Secret at Sembawang

The Little Secret in Sembawang

Where can you find a park, a beach, colonial era houses, and a hot spring in the North of Singapore? 
Sembawang loh!!!

What's the newest addition to this 15 hectare park? A dog run! 2700 sqm worth of free space for the doggies! It was even featured in the newspapers in September. I guess its still not quite famous like Bishan Park Dog Run, judging by the crowd there at 5.30pm on a weekend. 

 It is placed nicely in a corner of the park, away from the beach. One of the front gate latches was damaged when we were there, but it is still secured as there were two gates before you can enter the dog run. Always remember to lock up behind you!

The grass at the dog run is still lush and green, so do make a visit before the greenery starts wearing down! As you can see the length of this rectangular shaped dog run, you can do some serious running and dashing with your doggies. From the paper's report, it is as large as 21 basketball courts.
Here we have Peanut and Sasha having fun walking and sniffing around this new found land.

"Time to mark my spot!" - Peanut
 They even have sand pits made for the doggies to do their businesses, whatever it may be.
There's still room for improvements. For example, there's only 2 sitting areas that can accommodate 8 people. There's plenty of room for you to stand though. The whole area's pretty empty.
 There are no street lights in the area. The only form of lighting would be from the shipyard and the jogging track outside the dog run. You can still continue to walk your dog in Sembawang Park. There's also a beach and plenty of space for you to do a picnic with your doggies.

If visiting, please park your vehicle at the first carpark you encounter along the road to Sembawang Park. It is the nearest one and walking to the dog run would be a down sloping track, Less sweat LOL.

This dog run, in my view, has certainly made Sembawang Park a gem in the North. ( to dog owners )


Monday, October 6, 2014

My Poor Mat

Kelly and I recently bought this memory foam mat that felt incredibly plushy. Stepping on it almost felt as if your feet had sunk into the ground. It is the most prized piece of mat in the house, and so we positioned far far away from our two rascals.

However, our efforts were in vain. Their fur were already making their way to the new mat. It's almost like how plants and flower pollinate the Earth. They follow you under your feet, and then lay to rest on our precious carpet. Pet owners know what it's like to remove fur from clothing and mats. To put it bluntly, it's simply a pain in the ass.

It was then that I recalled about an item we bought from the Taiwan Pet Expo this year, solely to fight the spreading of fur that's taking over our fabrics.

Though there's already many similar products in the market in Singapore, what caught my eye were the words "Washable & Reusable". We haven't actually gone through all our loot from the Pet Expo. With a short prayer, we unpacked it and put it on, pinning all our hopes on this untried product.

 It wasn't anything fanciful at first glance. Plain o'l gloves with a fabric feel at the back. However, something was different at the palm area. Its made of this synthetic material that doesn't stick like lint stickers does. So now, its time to get it to work!

A picture says a thousand words. A video, is a whole different level. Lets watch.

The glove did exactly what it was made for, to remove fur. I haven't tried it on clothes yet, but I believe it will work as good as lint removers or stickers. The difference between lint removers and this glove is that you can easily use it to dig deep into edges and corners of your sofas and beds to remove those irritating furs that has been stuck there for centuries, simply because it takes the shape of your hands and fingers.

 Apparently there are already tons of demo videos on Youtube for the SwiPets gloves. It really works!

We are always looking out for better pet products at PawMart. Many more tests and reviews to come!

All videos are recorded via our smartphones, thus the slight grainy video texture.

That's all we have to start off the month of October. Oh my it's almost the end of the year. 

Time flies, doesn't it?


Monday, September 22, 2014

Odor odor odor... Gone!

We recently tried out Odorgone, an air deodorizer by Halo Pet Products. The results were amazing. We are truly impressed!

How it works

Odorgone is made up of bio enzymes and essential oils (the kind humans uses). When sprayed into the air, It then seeks out organic wastes and eliminates any odor causing bacteria.

Its anti bacterial effect also helps to prevent future bacterial growth and the recurrence of bad odor. Best of all, its eco friendly, and safe for your family and pets.

The Test 

We tried it at our doggies' sleeping area, which were situated in our bedroom. Yes, they have managed to steal their way in years ago, taking up a quarter of the space. We have to get past them before reaching our own beds everyday. Naturally, there will always be a kind of odor lingering when you have two dogs and humans in the room. I'm not saying that it smells, but there's certainly room for improvements. Leaving the windows opened didn't help much too. Without any wind, the air in the room is quite poorly circulated. Furthermore, with the recent haze, we're probably better off leaving the windows closed.

We used our first two sprays and what greeted us was a fragrance like no other. Odorgone was not like your everyday commercial air freshener. It has a light and soothing taste to it, somewhat like lemongrass mixed with vanilla. If my mind didn't play tricks on me, it brought a kind of freshness to the surroundings, I felt a tinge of a stress relieving effect at that moment.

You know how commercial air fresheners that you buy at the supermarkets is like. The air will instantly smell like a man with heavy cologne that just exited the lift. Everything goes back to normal in less than 10 minutes Sometimes the freshener's flavor will mix badly with the odor in the room and make everything worse. We wanted to see how effective Odorgone was, and we left the room to carry on with the day's business.

It was only until night when we returned, and we have totally forgotten about our little experiment in the day. While brushing my teeth, I suddenly recalled about the product test. Breathing in hard, I really can't smell anything funky in the room. The doggie odor did come back a little the second morning, so I tried Odorgone again. Same gentle fragrance, same effect.

It has been five days since we tried our Odorgone. Its smelling lesser like a dog house and more like ourselves. The only way to eliminate the dog odor totally was to remove the two of them from the room. Every time we tried, Peanut will be whining outside and Sasha would be scratching at the door asking to be let in. The heart wavers, and everything goes back to square one.

Other areas to use Odorgone

We had some ideas on where we could utilise this product to its fullest. Some other areas we thought we could use Odorgone were:

  • Toilets
  • Grooming Areas
  • Cat litter boxes
  • Shoe Racks
  • Store rooms

We were thinking of using it on shoes and stuff, but that's another trial for another time. Just to add on to what was said above, We were using Odorgone for Cats. The Cat and Dog series are of different formulas, and we found the Cat's series had a more appealing fragrance.

Do remember that this product should not be used directly on your pet's!

Do try out Odorgone by Halo. As a fellow pet owner, we recommend it from our own user experience. Please approach us at PawMart for a sample today if you wished to try it out. It only costs $26.90 for a fresher smelling room. Totally worth it!

PS: Just to add on to what was said above, We were using Odorgone for Cats on our doggie bases. The Cat and Dog series are made of different formulas. We simply found that the Cat's series had a more appealing fragrance. Information from Halo was that both series are interchangeable, and has no adverse effects on either species. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

XX Crossing out Ticks.... XX

Hi Everyone!

It was the season of doggie parasites last month due to the hot and humid weather. Lots of doggies that came for grooming had ticks and fleas on them. We had a few busy months getting rid of these pests for the doggies, thus the lack of posts... ( Excuses...)

With the abundance of ticks, we decided to do an experiment with some de-ticking products we had on hand. The two that we tried were BioX d'Bug Spray and Remove Tick & Flea Biocontrol Powder.

Just a slight introduction on these two products.

BioX d'Bug

Safe and Ecofriendly is their tag line. This product is claimed to be safe for mammals and birds. Non staining and non flammable. Targets effectively at ticks, fleas and mites.

I have been using BioX d'Bug for almost a year. I would apply on a tick infested dog before even the deticking process starts. The reason for doing this is because the ticks would immediately fall off the dog once the spray touches them. It is that amazing. The ticks must really hate the solution for them to do that.

It would have normally taken me another thirty to forty five minutes to remove them as they are often found latched on the skin, refusing to budge. Though effective, the remainder of the ticks would still have to be removed one by one. A de-ticking process would normally take two to four hours, depending on the state of infestation.

Alot of customers who had tried to remove the ticks themselves often left the insects' heads still embedded on their pet's skin. This would eventually cause skin irritation to your pets. What's worse? If you have accidentally squeezed the tick before removing it from the skin, bacteria from the parasite would flow back into your pet, causing a possible tick fever. Each tick would have to be removed wholly by a groomer or vet with utmost care.

Remove Tick & Flea Biocontrol Powder

Uses naturally found microbes to target pests like ticks and fleas. It paralyses ticks and fleas and kills them within a week. Safe and non toxic and contains only natural materials. Effective on larval, eggs and adult stage of pests.

It was my first time trying out this naturally made powder. Personally, I was skeptical about it. It was similar to Diatomaceous Earth, a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that can be made easily into powder form. Damn "Chim" (hard to understand) ... The layman way of explaining how it kills pests such as fleas and ticks? Just think of a powder that's so fine it goes into the carapace of the ticks and kills them from the inside out, piercing through their innards...

Ok ...  too descriptive there.

From my observation, the tick in the video looked irritated with the amount of powder around it almost immediately. It was observed to be moving away from the powdered area. Activity weakened after 30 mins, and by day 1, the tick rolled over and died. The same thing happened to the other 15 ticks I put in. Smaller ones dies faster. The largest tick died after 4 days.

End Note

The purpose of this post is not to compare the two products, but to offer other alternatives to flea and ticks removal other than the usual Frontline, Spot On, Flea collars etc.  You can have the strongest and most effective pet pesticide in the world applied on your pets, but how many of them are truly made for the animal's well being? Would it kill your pets along with the pests?

You will never know.

Travis @ PawMart