January, 2014

Pet Circkles.

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as
human rights. That is the way of a
whole human being." ~ Abe Lincoln.

Pot-Bellied Pals: Pigs as Pets.

By Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com.

You may or may not have heard the story about the family pet pig who saved his family from death when their house caught on fire in the middle of the night and he went to their beds and woke them up. Pigs are known for being just as smart as a dog, some people claim they are smarter.

Pot-bellied pigs are cute. I thought about getting one a few times in my life. If you've toyed with such an idea of having a novel pet pig, you may want to read our pros and cons list, but the first thing to consider before getting a pig is do the zoning ordinances for your area allow them?


Pros Cons
Pigs are intelligent and have been placed fourth on the intelligence list (humans, primates, dolphins/whales, pigs). Because of their high level of intelligence, pigs that are kept as full time house pets can become bored easily and are often destructive when finding ways to entertain themselves. It is not uncommon for them to root up carpeting or linoleum floors, eat drywall, overturn house plants and root through the dirt.
Pigs that have been neutered or spayed are generally sweet natured and sensitive animals. In fact, pigs are so sensitive that you can hurt their feelings. Pigs are herd animals and have a pecking order similar to that of chickens. Each member of the herd has a particular standing in a pecking order and a pig will usually vie to be "top pig" in the herd. When raised in the house the family members will become the pig's herd. At around 18 months of age, the struggle for "top pig" will begin. To determine the order standing, pigs fight. They will charge their opponent, snapping and swinging their head. When the opponent is a family member or a guest that has come to visit, this can be quite dangerous. There is no approved rabies vaccine for a pig.

Pigs can be litter box trained. Outside pigs generally use one corner of the yard as the bathroom

Pigs do root. Anyone desiring a perfectly manicured lawn should not have a pig. Placing a ring in their nose is cruel as rooting is a natural instinct for pigs. By rooting, they obtain necessary vitamins and minerals from the ground as well as food. They have been known to eat worms and grubs and also will root to find acorns or truffles.
Pigs generally enjoy hardy health. Pigs should receive hoof trimmings, and a yearly physical. Due to the size and difficulty in transporting, a vet willing to make house calls is recommended. Pigs are very susceptible to pneumonia. The biggest cause of pneumonia is weather, but it can also be brought on by stress. Pigs can "stress out" quite easily. Because of their small lung size, bronchitis or pneumonia can kill a pig quickly.
Pigs have bristle like hair. People allergic to dog and cat fur may have no reaction to the hair of a pig.  Finding a vet knowledgeable in the health care of potbellied pigs can prove difficult. Vet care can be expensive, depending, of course, on your particular area and the health condition of your pig. Emergency treatment and/or specialized surgery can be especially expensive. Pot bellied pigs should not be treated as domestic farm hogs. Also spaying a pig is quite different from a dog or cat.
Pigs are generally clean, odorless animals At around 12 to 16 weeks of age, a female pig will go into her first heat. She will then go into heat every 21 days and can become quite moody. An intact male (not neutered) has a strong, foul odor and becomes sexually active at six to eight weeks of age. Spay and/or neuter your pigs.
Caring for a pig can be about the same as having a dog because they have similar needs and behaviors.

Local zoning laws may not allow pigs as pets.

Pigs need a pool or puddle for cooling off in hot weather. They do not sweat and must have a way of lowering their body temperature when they become over heated. They need plenty of bedding in their sleeping area during the colder months. In the winter, they love to bury themselves under straw and blankets


Please consider rescuing a homeless pig instead of purchasing one from a breeder or pet store. For more information on homeless pigs, please feel free to contact  PIGS, 1112 Persimmon Lane, Shepherdstown, WV 25443 or phone/fax: 304-876-6766. You can also e-mail them at FarmManager@pigs.org.

Also check for pig rescues in your area online. You may be surprised how many there are.

© 2013 Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com



Training a Stubborn Breed.

By Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com.

You may wonder how some people manage to handle a giant breed dog like a 300 pound male mastiff or great dane when they often outweigh their owners. It helps a great deal to get them as pups, but what if you want to adopt one that's already mature, or you didn't take the necessary preliminary time to train them as a pup and now they are out of control and don't listen? All dogs and any breed can be "stubborn" if not trained properly, but mostly because they have no respect for you. Remember, you are not doing your dog any favors by not training him properly or letting him always have his way because he could get injured by doing so and so could you.

It can be a real challenge depending on what circumstances your adopted giant or stubborn breed has come from. If they were abused or neglected, prepare yourself to put in some extra time to win their respect before they will listen to a word you have to say. Not all stubborn breeds are large however. Shar-peis - because they are a mix of mastiff and chow - can be extremely stubborn and willful, as can many small breeds such as terriers. A sign of stubbornness does not mean you have a "bad" dog or one that requires obedience school necessarily. Usually a stubborn dog comes from an owner they don't respect, and earning their respect DOES NOT come from forceful or abusive training. Quite the opposite. If you hit or threaten a stubborn dog, they are more likely to turn against you and one day bite or attack because they fear you not respect you.

With Mastiffs, it's a matter of being more determined and clever than they are. When in a stubbornness match with a mastiff, you will never last as long as they can. They have a tremendous amount of patience when it comes to standing their ground to get what they want, and they are very intelligent and so know exactly how to play us humans. And usually, the only way to get them to do what you want - because they know they outweigh you and there's nothing you can do about - is to out-trick them or you could be standing there all day in a staring contest with one.

First and foremost, you have to establish yourself as the alpha dog of the pack. Do NOT give in to your dog's every whim and fancy without making them work for it. If you give them a treat, make them sit first, or come in the house first if they are outside and won't come in, or whatever you are trying to get them to do. Make them work for it every time until they get into the habit of doing it with just a voice command and no treat. And be on the lookout for them trying to play you to get treats. Once they figure out that they have to do something to get a treat, or praise, they will keep doing it just to get that reward. However, a dog that won't come to you, or come into the house without a treat doesn't respect you either. They are playing you. If you use a firm voice with a mastiff, they will likely still ignore you and hold out for that treat, so you have a choice to make: either have a treat ready every time you let them out to do their business and can't get them back inside, or, put a collar and leash on them and go get them every time. See what I mean? Stubborn is a mastiff's middle name.

Most dogs understand a simple, firm "NO" pretty well. If they don't respect that, then you are not doing it with enough authority in your voice. And the threat has to be that if they won't do something on command on their own, you will make them do it on a leash. Take away their liberties or freedoms if they don't listen to you. This may seem harsh to some people, but a dog that doesn't listen to you can be a danger to you both. If you have to cross the street with them, if they get away from you, if they are about to get into something that can hurt them, they have to be willing to listen to you. Dogs will listen if they believe and respect you enough to know that you are trying to protect them from danger and aren't just ordering them around to be head dog. If you speak about dangerous situations when they are in one in a warning tone, they will eventually be able to tell the difference between you warning them for their own good and you just wanting them to do something. If a dog thinks you know better than they do, they will respect your warning voice. In order for this to work however, you have to wait until a dangerous or threatening situation arises for you to take advantage of it to use your warning voice on them. When a dog slips on the ice, say to them, "Be careful" in a warning, but not threatening or angry voice. If they fall or hurt themselves on something, use your "be careful" voice. It only takes one or two incidents for them to associate your warning tone with them getting hurt and that they should watch out and listen to you when you use that voice.

Also, make sure you recognize the difference between stubbornness and fear. Take the two photos above for example. The dog laying in the snow that the man had to shovel around because he/she won't get up is just being stubborn and knows he/she can take advantage of the man. You can tell just by looking at the man's stance that he has no respect from this dog, a person wouldn't even respect him in the manner he is approaching this dog.

The dog doing the splits over the tub has a genuine fear/hate for baths. Most dogs don't like baths because they are completely helpless and lack control in a potentially dangerous situation (they could drown or they hate water) and they have to trust you 100%. That's asking a lot of anybody, especially another species who doesn't understand your actions or words. Showers work much easier for dogs. If you take them in the shower with you, it's more natural for one thing, and if you're getting in there too, (go in first) it helps reassure them that there isn't any danger in there or that you are not trying to trap them.

It's really all a matter of tone and body language; the tone of your voice and your actions speak to animals much more than your words - which don't mean a thing to them. Knowing a little about wolf behavior can help you understand how pack animals like dogs function in their society and help you to speak THEIR language because they don't speak yours. You can read a little about wolf behavior in this month's Backyard Biologist column on our Green Circkles Page.

© 2014 Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com.








Pets who look like their owners:

Find more pet articles are in our Archives, and pet home remedies are in The Hangout. But you must be a Circkles.com member to access those pages.



If a dog rubs his butt across the carpeting or ground after defecating, they may have worms. You can try to look for them in the dogs feces, but some are so small you won't be able to see them. If your dog is exhibiting the behavior mentioned above, the best way to determine if they have worms is to have a veterinarian test their feces.

Black walnut hull extract is very good and safe for expelling worms in pets, but it can be a challenge to find it in a non-alcohol form. If you can find dried herb capsules they would be better for getting passed a pet's nose. If you have to use the alcohol tincture or extract, try hiding it in their favorite food, but that still may not be enough to get them to eat it because they will still smell the alcohol. They make glycerin-based extracts, but we have not found them to be very effective and you are better off using the dried herb or capsules.

Pumpkin is also a very safe and effective remedy for worms in pets and fresh pumpkin can easily be added to their food. Most pets like the taste of it and the pumpkin seeds are very effective.

Both remedies require diligent usage for a period of time in order to work because worms are stubborn and difficult to get rid of. Use both remedies for a minimum of twice a day for 2 weeks.

For more pet remedies, Circkles.com members can follow The Hangout in the main menu tabs.


DOG BREEDS: Characteristics and Concerns.

(We will get to cat breeds later.)


The Basenji is considered one of the most ancient dog breed; although the modern Basenji is from central Africa, at some point long ago its ancestor arrived there from eastern Asia, having evolved from either Chinese or southeast Asian wolves

The Basenji produces an unusual yodel-like sound commonly called a "barroo", due to its unusually shaped larynx. This trait also gives the Basenji the nickname "Barkless Dog".

The Basenji is alert, energetic, curious and is somewhat aloof with strangers, and tends to become emotionally attached to a single human. Basenjis may not get along with non-canine pets. Basenjis dislike wet weather, like to climb, can easily get over chain wire fences. Most Basenji problems involve a mismatch between owner and pet.
Basenjis often stand on their hind legs, somewhat like a meerkat, by themselves or leaning on something; this behavior is often observed when the dog is curious about something. Basenjis have a strong prey drive. According to the book The Intelligence of Dogs, they are the second least trainable dog. However, Basenjis are extremely intelligent and respond to training that is consistent and positive with plenty of treats. Basenjis do not respond well to punishment, such as yelling and hitting, which can cause them to utter a warning growl.

Health Concerns: There is apparently only one completed health survey of Basenjis, a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey.
Basenjis can suffer from PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), which causes blindness; and Fanconi syndrome, which can cause kidney failure. Besides Fanconi Syndrome and PRA, Basenjis can also suffer from Hypothyroidism, IPSID (immunoproliferative systemic intestinal disease), and HA (Hemolytic Anemia). Basenjis are also sensitive to environmental and household chemicals which may cause liver problems.

Lifespan: Basenjis in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey had a median lifespan of 13.6 years (sample size of 46 deceased dogs), which is 1–2 years longer than the median lifespan of other breeds of similar size. The oldest dog in the survey was 17.5 years. Most common causes of death were old age (30%), urologic (incontinence, Fanconi syndrome, chronic kidney failure 13%), behavior ("unspecified" and aggression 9%), and cancer. (9%).

Size: Ranges from 16 to 17 inches tall at the shoulder and 22 to 24 pounds.

Looking for a Basenji? Use our Pet finder tool below and search for an adoptable dog that needs a home in your area now.

To view breeds we've already written about, view our Dog Breeds on The Hangout. (Must be a Circkles member to view The Hangout.)




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