Dances with Dogs at Lafayette Rec Center

I will be hanging out with trainer Brittany Fulton of Dances with Dogs at the Lafayette Rec center on Saturday, June 2 from 10am – 12pm.

Please join us for some training tips, to learn about Brittany’s training philosophy, and for an opporunity to win a discounted training session and/or dog walk/pet sit visit. Coffee and light refreshments will be served.

Brittany Fulton proudly owns and operates Dances with Dogs, a positive reinforcement dog training business in the DC Metro Area.  She offers private sessions, day training (training in your home or at her studio office), and training walks. Brittany primarily, serves NW DC and Montgomery County. She addresses behavioral concerns including reactivity, aggression, and fear, as well as basic obedience.

Brittany has a degree in psychology with an emphasis on animal behavior. She is certified with the Academy for Dog Trainers, a highly-reputed positive reinforcement education provider.  She has been training dogs for over 6 years. Brittany has trained and worked with many respected organizations including the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and Best Friends Animal Society.

Brittany truly enjoys approaching canine behavioral modification with compassion and science-based methods.

Lafayette Recreation Center 5900 33rd Street NW, Quesada Street NW Washington, DC 20015



The Ant Can’t…

…get to your pet’s food if you place the food bowl into a dish or pan with some water in it (apologies if you had high hopes for something that rhymed).

Basically, build a moat across which the ants are unable to swim.

I learned about this little life hack recently from a friend who had to employ it with her own cat down in the Dominican Republic, and then I got to test it out on a pet sit assignment when I came in one day to find ants beginning to swarm the cats’ food bowls. It worked brilliantly.

With summer coming on, I figured some of you might find this helfpul, but hope that you don’t have to use it!

We haven’t had any ant problems yet this year, and Archie is determined to keep it that way by making sure he polishes off every…last…bit.


Laser Pointers: A Lesson Learned

Image by Chris Winsor/Getty Images

Recently, while doing some research on whether or not it’s OK to use laser pointers when playing with dogs (not really, it turns out), I learned that many animal behavior experts are now recommending that they be used with caution when playing with cats as well.

Basically, the red dot stimulates our pets’ hunting drive, but the inability to ever be able to “catch” the prey can result in frustration, leading to obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

The following article has some tips for how to safely incorporate a laser pointer into your cat’s play routine (summary below link):


Guidelines for Laser Pointer Playtime

  • Please don’t let the laser pointer become your cat’s only toy. You need a range of toys, such as wand toys, that your cat can paw at and capture.
  • During playtime, have on hand some stuffed cat toys that your cat can easily grab or paw. You might even put a little food in some of the toys for kitty to retrieve as a reward.
  • Once in a while, let the red dot of the laser land on one of these other toys and watch your kitty “capture” it. Be sure she has a firm hold on the toy before you take the light away.
  • Never shine the light directly into your cat’s eyes. You can cause serious damage to your pet’s eyes by doing this!


We Have a Winner!

Although no one who played our trivia name game in April guessed correctly as to which name is most common among the pets of Northwest Pets DC, I really wanted to give away a t-shirt, so I put the names of all those who played into a hat and drew from that pool. And the winner is….. (drumroll):

Leslie Scott!

Leslie, along with the majority of folks who played, guessed that Chloe was the most common name.

In fact, the correct answer to the trivia question is Ziggy. I have three kitty clients who all go by this name. Interestingly, there is no duplication of names among the rest of my furry clientele at this point!

The Ziggys


And because so many people answered with her name, here she is – the one and only – Chloe:


The MuttMix Project

I stumbled across this interesting project via the FACE Foundation’s blog, and invite my readers to participate if they’re interested (or to at least just read about it, even if they don’t want to take the survey/quiz).

From the “About the MuttMix Project” page of the International Association of Animal Behavioral Consultants:

“The idea of breeds and pet dogs are intimately connected…”

“What does this mean for mixed breed dogs? Since these breed categories are so strongly ingrained in our notion of “dog,” naturally our brain tries to put any new dog we meet into one or more of these categories…”

“We take individual characteristics that match our notion of breeds and use those traits to build a box to mentally house our mutt. And, since we have notions about breeds and behavior, we now also have a mental box of behavior we expect from this dog, all based on appearance.”

“Are we actually any good at this? First of all, can we do a good job of judging the mix of breeds in a mutt by looking at them? Second, do our preconceived notions about behavior and physical traits hold true?

This experiment aims to answer the first question. Using genetic markers, and a panel of known pure-bred dogs, we can confidently determine the ancestral mix of breeds represented in an individual dog. All of the images you will be asked to judge in this experiment are of dogs that have been tested, so we know what mix of breeds they represent.

Now, we need your help in finding out how well people are able to guess these breed mixes based on appearance.”

Click here to take the survey



Trivia Time: A Name Game

According to Babycenter.com, the most popular baby names in the United States so far in 2018 are Emma and Liam.

Can you guess which pet name is most popular among Northwest Pets DC’s clientele?

Below is a list of names of all the pets I’ve had the privilege to care for since the inception of NWPDC in late summer 2017. One of these names belongs to three of my pet patrons. Guess correctly and be entered in a drawing to win a Northwest Pets DC t-shirt!

One guess per person.
Drawing will be held on May 1.
You can reply in several ways:  in the comment section of this blog; by emailing northwestpetsdc@gmail.com; in the comment section after any post mentioning this contest on Northwest Pet’s DC’s Facbook page; or via private message on the Facebook page.

And without further ado, here are the names from which to choose:

Aida Grace Oskar
Annie Gracie Otto
Antonio Growley Pal
Atlas Harley Pax
Belle Isabel Pepper
Billie Josie Peshak
Birala Juju Plata
Bitty Keo Poki
Boots Kira Poppy
Brooks Langston Potato
Buster Lilac Promise
Buttercup Linus Regals
Celementine Little Bit Ringo
Chloe Louisa Rocky
Claude Lucia Sandra
Claudia Lucky Skookumchuk
Ellie Lucy Snowshoe
Emmett Mango Tommy
Fergus Matty Tubman
Frankie Midnight Tupelo
Fryja Milo Violet
George Nigel Wallace
Gizmo Oliver Ziggy

Three’s Company

I wanted to hold off on announcing the newest member of the household until I knew for sure that there would be felicity among the felines, and I’m happy to say that after three weeks, it looks like things are going to work out.

Archimedes – also known as Archie and formerly known as both Piddles and Juneau – has made himself quite comfortable since being given run of the place after the initial introduction period, during which he was sequestered in the living room so that he and the incumbent kitty Alex could slowly get used to the idea of each other.

While I took care to do all the things the experts suggest when introducing a new kitty to the home, I think Alex’ good nature deserves a fair amount of credit for things going so well; Archie has a lot more energy than I anticipated, and Alex has been incredibly patient with this younger cat’s playful antics. He occasionally gives Archie a well-deserved smackdown when he’s had enough, and Archie respectfully backs off.

Because I think it would be a mistake to take this peace for granted, Archie sometimes gets to stay in “his room” – the living room – overnight, so that Alex can enjoy sleeping in the bed with me without fear of ambush. Luckily, Archie is chill enough that this doesn’t seem to bother him.

Anyway, I just wanted to use this introduction to Archie as a reminder of how important it is to take things nice and slow when introducing a new cat  to the home. I found the following material from Fancy Cats Rescue (the folks who took such great care of Archie while he waited for his forever home) to be useful, and recommend it to anyone who will be introducing a new kitty to a home that already has other pets.

Introducting Your New Cat

Alex lets Archie lounge on everyone’s favorite scratcher/lounger.
Archie wonders if there’s any chance he can attack that tail without fear of reprisal.


Archie says his goodbyes to the volunteers from Fancy Cats, who will miss him very much!


Cat Food Review

If you’re the kind of pet parent who occasionally angsts-out as to whether you’re providing the healthiest possible diet for your furry friend, you’re not alone. But it can be really tough to find the right food, with all the options available and all the differing opinions on what types and brands of food are best.

So I was pleased when someone from Reviews.com sent me the following article with their research into the best cat foods currently on the market. There’s a lot of information here, but I appreciate the methodical way they’ve broken it down and presented it (there are some great infographics in here) and would encourage anyone who is interested in the topic of feline nutrition to check it out, and to let me know what you think.

Update April 20, 2018: One of my clients purchased the #1 recommended wet food on the Reviews.com list, and her cats won’t eat it. I purchased the Merrick Before Grain dry, and my cats seem to like it so far. As kitty palates vary, if you do decide to try any of the foods on this list, I would recommend buying a small quantity first to see make sure your kitty likes it.

The Best Cat Food