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Clicker Training for Your Chihuahua

Recently, an entirely new training method has emerged and gained rapid popularity for training certain types of dogs like Chihuahuas. Using a clicker, and the old principles of conditioning and positive reinforcement, a pet can be trained to perform a task for a reward in a fairly brief period of time.

Each clicker training session makes use of positive reinforcement, wherein the dog is given some kind of treat as a reward for accomplishing the task. The clicker is a small handheld device made of metal, which is encased by a plastic coating. Each time the dog trainer depresses a strip of metal on the device, it generates a ptopping sound which sounds exactly the same every time it’s done.

The point of using the clicker in this training technique is to convey to the animal the precise moment when a task is to be performed, and if the dog reacts appropriately to the sound, positive reinforcement is provided in the way of a reward.

The thing that makes this technique so effective is that the clicker designates a precise moment in time, and it is exactly the same every time, so there is no possibility of misinterpretation or confusion on the animal’s part.

During ordinary training which involves human voice commands, this kind of misunderstanding is possible, because there can be minor little differences in tone and voice fluctuation which the dog could easily misunderstand. From the standpoint of the dog, it’s a very simple situation – the same clicker sound is made, a task must be performed, and a treat gets provided.

Controversy About the Training

Some detractors point out that this training method has some drawbacks, in that it won’t work if the trainer does not have a reward ready to give to the dog. If the clicker is not visible, or for some reason is inaudible, the dog will miss the signal entirely, and not realize that a task should be performed.

Other points of contention are that it may cause the dog to gain excessive weight, when sessions are extended to include multiple rewards for multiple tasks, which is, of course, common at the beginning of the training routine. It has also been pointed out that if the dog becomes too old to adequately hear the clicker, or of any other environmental distractions interfere, the signal could be missed, and the training would be voided.

 

A Chihuahua responds to a audible cue and looks up at its owner during a clicker training.

Chihuahuas are very good at picking up on audible and visual cues in their trainers making clicker training so effective.

Converting Clicker Training

One way to avoid some of the potential pitfalls of clicker training is to gradually phase out the clicker routine after it has been sufficiently learned by your pet so that a similar routine could be implemented with the same results. For instance, the clicker itself could be replaced by a simple hand gesture or a verbal cue, and the concept can even be extended to phase out the reward part of the training as well.

Granted, this will take a bit longer with most dogs, but it has been shown to be effective in situations where the dog first understood the concept of the clicker routine very well. Transitioning to cues other than the clicker are readily adopted by many dogs once they have an understanding of the process, although the absence of a reward may take a little longer to impress upon your trainee.

How the Training Works

Before you begin your first training session with the dog, you have to convey the notion that each time he hears the clicker sound, a reward will be forthcoming. This is the critical component of the training, and it is very important that the association is made in the dog’s mind.

It won’t take long before a dog quickly learns to perk up or react to the sound of a clicker, because it sounds like nothing else in nature, and it means something special is coming. In the first phase of training, the most important thing is to establish this association, where clicker sound equals treats.

In phase two of the training, the desired task needs to be introduced to your Chihuahua, and the first tasks that you choose should be things that your dog is likely to do anyway, such as laying down or sitting. When your dog successfully completes the task, immediately follow up with another click sound, and then a reward.

The reward aspect is also very important, because it will provide motivation for your Chihuahua to complete the task, and it’s also critical that the reward is immediately forthcoming, so it is directly associated with the sound of the clicker, and the completion of the task.

Something you should not do during training is to make extra body gestures or any other sounds which might cue the dog to perform an action without the clicker sound. You don’t want the dog performing the action simply because he expects to hear the clicker.

The whole point is to trigger the proper behavior from the dog only when it hears the sound of the clicker. Keep in mind that Chihuahuas and dogs, in general, are extremely good at picking up on body language and voice fluctuations, so all these need to be filtered out during your training sessions.

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Keeping Chinchillas as Pets

Chinchillas are a rather unusual pet for most people, but they can be wonderful little companions if you’re not bothered by having a relatively high-strung creature as a pet. They’re a bit like squirrels in their quirky, active natures, but they don’t emit any loud or obnoxious noises, they don’t develop any unpleasant odors, and they have relatively long lifespans, so they’ll be with you a while. You will also love picking them up and holding their luxuriously soft fur. Here are some of the things you need to consider if you’re going to make a chinchilla your next pet at home.

Getting the Right Cage

You could make your own cage if you have those kinds of skills, but most likely you’ll want to buy one online, or simply go to the local pet shop and pick one up. The only real characteristics you need to allow for are making sure that it’s roomy enough to accommodate your new pet, and that it can be comfortable when it’s looking to relax.

As a general rule, it would be better to get a bigger cage than you think you need because they’re very active little creatures that do a lot of climbing, jumping, and running around. It’s a good idea to purchase a cage that has several levels to it and is taller than it is wide.

Air Temperature

Once you’ve got your cage picked out, you should figure out where in the home you’re going to position the cage, so that the temperature is right for your new pet. Obviously, you should not place it next to a door or a window, because temperatures have a tendency to fluctuate in those situations.

If you can situate your cage in a spot that has a steady temperature between 60 and 75°, that will be just fine. Don’t allow the temperature around the cage to exceed 80 degrees, or it will be subject to heatstroke, and humidity should be kept below 60%. If you see your chinchilla’s ears starting to turn red, that’s a telltale sign that overheating is in progress.

Installing Cage Bedding

Some woodchips are harmful to chinchillas, so it’s very important that you get the right kind of bedding to put at the bottom of your chinchilla cage. Avoid any kind of bedding that includes cedar or conifer chips. The ideal chips to use for your chinchilla cage are those which are non-treated, preferably of a type like Appletree, Willow, Birch, or Aspen. At least once a week you should clean out your chinchilla’s bedding, and replace it with some fresh material.

Accessories for the Cage

One of the first things you should buy as a cage accessory is a large wheel because exercise is very important to the chinchilla’s health. Most of the time, it will be sleeping through the day and will be more active at night, so it will be best if you have some kind of appropriately sized den for them to sleep in throughout the day.

Little plastic dens are perfectly all right, and you can even make your own by just poking a hole in the side of a container that’s large enough for them to pass through. Make sure to include a few chew toys and a few sticks for your chinchilla to chew on, because their teeth require constant gnawing in order to keep them correctly sized.

A chinchilla is feds a delicious snack that chinchillas enjoy that keep it healthy and happy.

It’s important to make sure you get the proper food for your chinchilla so they remain healthy.

Food for your Pet

Chinchillas are unable to digest most kinds of green plants, and they don’t do well with protein or fatty foods either. In fact, the only kind of food that a chinchilla really does care for is hay, so if you can supply them with some fresh timothy each day, that will be all they really need.

If fresh timothy is not readily available all the time, you can also supply your chinchilla with hay pellets in a bowl, and they’ll be munching on these contentedly throughout the day or night. If you want to mix things up briefly sometime, you can give them a treat consisting of lettuce leaves and nothing else.

It’s better that you don’t mix up their diet much at all, because even small variations tend to give them digestive problems. In short, feeding your chinchilla is going to be one of the easiest aspects of its care, because there isn’t really anything that they like to eat other than hay.

Chinchillas Baths

The first thing you need to know about chinchilla baths is that you should never get your chinchilla wet because their fur is so thick, it’s literally impossible to ever get it dry again. Since this is the case, fungi can start growing in their fur, or it can begin to rot away.

If you happen to accidentally get your chinchilla wet, you should dry it off immediately to the best of your ability, making sure that you use both towels and a hairdryer which blows no heat.

The chinchilla baths that you purchase in a pet shop actually hold dust, which is necessary to soak up the oils and dirt which are on their skin and on their fur. Most chinchillas will do this at least a few times a week on their own if you leave the chinchilla bath in place in their cage, but some enjoy it so much, that they’ll do it several times daily without being prompted.

Cat Toys: Giving Your Feline Something to Play With

Cat playing with cat toys on a cat scratch stand.

Does your pet have any cat toys?

Cats are interesting house pets to have. They move to their own tune and have such quirky personalities. Often, cats can seem like they want to be left alone. While they are quiet and keep to themselves, they do need some love and attention. One of the great ways to interact with your whiskered friend is to buy cat toys.

Cat toys are a great way for you and your pet to bond. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are also designed to keep your cat’s attention as these pets are naturally attracted to these items. Finding the right ones will get them active and improve your relationship with your cat. Here are a few cat toys you should be on the lookout for.

Scratching Posts

A scratching post is an old favorite. Over the years, they have taken all sorts of shapes and sizes. What you want to look for are height and sturdiness. The tall, the better. Cats are compelled to fully stretch out and work to explore every inch of a scratching post. They will be happy climbing and trying to reach the top.

Cats also love to mess with posts to no end. Between climbing, scratching, and putting the extent of their full weight on a post, you’ll need something that can take punishment and is sturdy. Otherwise, the post will just end up toppling over every time your feline friend messes with it.

Another aspect of the post that you want to focus on is the material. With so many different types to choose from, it can be hard trying to find the right one. We suggest something that is satisfying for your pet to scratch on but lasts for a long time. You’ll also want to avoid anything that resembles carpet. It will make your pet feel like that material is okay to scratch on.

Cat Wands and Charmers

Have you ever held a piece of string in front of your cat? It’s fun to see them jump up and down as they try to grab it with their paws. Well, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of cat toys that provoke the same reaction and do it better.

Cat wands and charmers are simple. It’s essentially a stick or wand with a piece of fabric or toy hanging off at the end. They are far more intuitive to use than a piece of string. You hold the wand or stick in front of you and wave it at your pet. They play with it and have a great time trying to grab the fabric or toy.

What makes the wand or charmer a better option is that it minimizes your risk. Cats are a bit reckless when it comes to playtime. When you wave something tempting in front of them, they are ready to pounce. With items like a short piece of string, your cat can accidentally claw and grab onto your hands, leaving cuts and scratches. These products allow you to have fun together and keep you safe.

Catnip Stuffed Toys

Cats love nothing better than catnip. They are instantly attracted to the substance and will go anywhere it goes. You’ll often find that their personality completely changes when they are exposed to the oil. If you want to keep your pet preoccupied, buy cat toys stuffed with catnip. The ones shape like mice are the usually the best. Cats love playing with mice and a toy shaped like one will astonish them with delight.

Cat Tunnels and Tubes

While cats generally stay indoors most of the time, they do like to explore. If you pay attention, you’ll often find them in the strangest places of your house. Some cats even favor squeezing themselves into tiny boxes and spaces. Cat tunnels and tubes are a great way to facilitate that need. Some of these structures even come with a toy inside, helping your cat to make the most of toy time. When searching for options, look at the ones that best fit for your cat and your home.

Buying Cat Toys

You can buy plenty of cat toys at the Pet Shop. Just come down to our location in Allston, MA and our team will be more than happy to help you out. We guarantee that you’ll find the right deal for you – we even have cat food. Plus, your cat will look forward to all the new toys you bring them. Don’t wait, call us at (617) 787-0857 and find out what we have available.

Picking a Small Pet at the Pet Shop

Veiled chameleon on a branch, which is a small pet.

What small pet will you bring home?

Pets come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s usually the little ones that grab our hearts. Most small pets are adorable and fluffy, which only add to their appeal. You’ve probably thought about stopping by the Pet Shop and grabbing a small pet of your own. Before you do, find out your options.

What Type of Small Pet Do You Want?

If you are having trouble finding the right small pet, we think we can help. At the Pet Shop, we have a whole catalog of small and wonderful animals to choose from. There are plenty of pets out there, and you should consider the ones that fit your lifestyle. We guarantee that you can find your new best friend here!

The Lovely Pets at the Pet Shop

  • Rodents – All types of cute rodents come here. That includes domestic mice and rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, and hamsters. That’s not all. We even have some of the more exotic animals. For example, we have chinchillas with the softest of fur and degus with the cutest eyes.
  • Sugar Gliders – These tiny marsupials are usually confused for rodents, and it’s hard not to see why. A fun fact is that they are more closely related to kangaroos and koala bears. The advantage of having a sugar glider is that they are smart ones. They’ll bond with you, learn new commands, and bring joy to your life.
  • Hedgehog – What’s not to love about these spiky friends. Hedgehogs are known for the spines on their back. While they are prickly, they are equally adorable and adventurous late-night creatures. You’ll even love the moments when they curl up into a ball and turn into a spiky little ball.
  • Birds – There is nothing more majestic than seeing our avian friends fly through the air. If you are fond of our feathery friends, we have a whole selection of birds. When you come down to the Pet Shop, say hello and find the right one for you.
  • Reptiles – They’re scaly, they love the sun, and they’re the coolest friend you’ll make. Reptiles are quite awesome with their colorful scales and wonderful personalities. They also have the best smiles. Our selection of herptiles will liven up your live as you try to figure them out and pet their scaly back.
  • Fish – Fish swim to their own tune and make great small pets because they are quiet, easy to take care of and keep you calm. If you want peace in your life, a fish is the way to go. You’ll also love buying their aquarium, decorating it with all types of rocks and plants.

Visit the Pet Shop

As we said, the Pet Shop is the best place to find your new friend. As a bonus, we offer new and exciting deals every single month. If you are located in the Allston area in Massachusetts, then come down and give us a visit. We are open every day. Mention our latest online order, and you’re sure to find your pet and everything you need for the right price.

How to Play With a Pet Chinchilla

A cute pet chinchilla in its cage.

Have some fun playing with your pet chinchilla.

At the Pet Shop, we can’t deny how easy it is to fall in love with some of our smaller animals. In fact, one tiny critter, the chinchilla, seems to draw the attention of many pet lovers. It’s their soft skin that makes these rodents irresistible. If you decide to make this adorable little one a part of your life, you are going to need to know a few things.

The first is that a pet chinchilla is a small creature, but full of energy. These animals will crave your attention. The second thing you need to remember is to approach your chinchilla with care; they are very different from other animals. When it comes to playtime, make sure they are comfortable and enjoy your bonding experience.

They Love the Night Life

By nature, chinchillas are nocturnal animals. These pets are active and move around once the evening begins. You can’t force them to play in the middle of the day as you’ll only interrupt their sleep schedule. Take time during every night to play with your pet chinchilla for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Make Sure Your Pet Chinchilla Is Safe

We cannot stress enough how important it is that you take precautions with your pet. Chinchillas can be a bit curious, which can get them into all sorts of trouble. Have their play area prepped by placing cables, wires, and electrical out of their reach. If you can’t move these items, cover them in protective tubing. You should also look for certain spots in your home where your chinchilla might hide. You’d be surprised by how many small spaces like cracks and gaps they can fit into. Cover those spots and quarantine them somewhere they cannot get lost.

Toys Make Them Happy

There are plenty of pet toys that you can buy for your chinchilla. In fact, you don’t even have to go to the pet store to find something for them. Chinchillas like playing with the same chew toys as parrots. You can also use the cardboard rolls from paper towels.

Give Them Something to Climb On

It’s important to keep track of where you chinchilla is at times. As we mentioned before, these pets tend to find themselves in small spaces. A chinchilla is also very active and playful, meaning they will climb, jump and bounce off of everything in sight if they get the chance. We suggest buying a small step ladder or doggy steps. You can let them play on the couch or stairs in your home, just carefully watch them and make sure they don’t get into space they should not be.

Play With Them

You can’t force your chinchilla to play with you. Have some patience and wait for your pet to come to you. You can encourage them to play with you by talking with them. When your little friend makes their way over to you, pet them. Over time, your chinchilla will become more and more accustomed to being around you and come to you on their own.

Fun Ways to Play With Your Pet Parrot

Exotic colorful pet parrot, beautiful close up on bird face over natural green background, bird watching safari, South Africa wildlife

Keep your pet parrot happy with some recreational time.

Bringing a special pet parrot home is always the first and easiest step towards becoming a great pet owner. The second step involves providing them the right living environment and taking proper care of them. Finally, your last step is to show them all the love and care that they deserve. You can do this by finding a variety of interesting ways to interact with your feathery friend.

Parrots are fairly active creatures. You’ll find that they will quickly bond with and consider you a part of their flock. It’s actually quite sweet. Playing with them won’t be too hard either as they like to show affection by nibbling on your chin or messing with your hair. As far as how they act apart from you, they generally curious and intelligent. This means they tend to mess with things that they are unfamiliar with and they will feel the need to explore their surrounding outside of the cage.

Before You Let Your Pet Parrot Out of Its Cage

You may want to take precautions before you decide to let your flying friend free. They tend the go for the expensive stuff when they want to nibble on something. It is wise to put them somewhere secure and safe from their beak. Otherwise, you’ll have a mess of broken objects.

Keeping Them Preoccupied

There is a way to prevent your pet parrot from breaking any and everything they see. That involves distracting them. Look for parrot toys that they will have fun with. There are plenty that they will find endless enjoyment messing with.

One thing that you will notice that parrots like to do is mess with doors and latches. They will constantly try to figure out how to open objects as if it is some sort of puzzle. Place several durable puzzle-type toys around the house. They will mess with them for quite a while, in an attempt to figure out how it works.

Activities That You Can Do Together

If you want to interact more with your feathery friend, set aside a time for the two of you to play together. The best part is you don’t really need toys to have fun with your parrot. Playtime can be as simple as grabbing a cardboard box and throwing some crumbled newspaper inside of it. To add to the fun, take a metal object (like a kitchen appliance) and tap the side of the box while your pet is inside. They will enough the mystery of the noise.

Another fun game you can play with your parrot involves sitting him on your hand. While they are securely perched on your hand, start moving it around in an up and down motion, like a figure eight. You notice as that they will begin flapping their wings as you move them up and down. You’ll see that they enjoy this very much. While fun, this game can get tiring, so remember to take breaks every once and a while.

Hopefully, this gives you plenty to do with your special friend. If you have any trouble finding toys for your pet parrot, then contact a representative at the Pet Shop for help or visit us at the store.

Everything You Need to Know About a Cockatiel

An adult gray Cockatiel in front of white background.

Owning a cockatiel is a pleasant experience.

Some of the best pets give us endless joy, laughs, and good times. In your search for a new companion friend, might we suggest looking into the cockatiel? These animals are quirky and lots of fun to be around, especially if you are a bird lover. Before you run out to the store to pick one up, here are a few things that you need to know about this wonderful bird.

They Talk!

Cockatiels are more closely related to cockatoos than parrots. However, they carry the distinctive trait of being able to mimic human speech. They are a bit shy when it comes to talking, so be patient. You have a better chance of hearing one talk if you bring home a male cockatiel. They are more lively than their female counterpart.

The Difference Between a Male and Female Cockatiel

You’ll notice that these are beautiful birds. Most cockatiels have feathers with a rich gray color. If you want to spot the difference between a male and female, then you have to look at the face. Males tend to have brighter yellow and orange colors on their face. With female cockatiels, the colors are less apparent and more muted by the gray colors.

Taking Care of This Bird

You and your companion pet will have to take the time the get to know one another. At first, they will be a little wary of you and their new surroundings. Take the time to gain its trust. Interact with it positively, feed it treats, and then try to pet and touch your cockatiel.

You will also want to spot the signs of sickness. Cockatiels like to move around, eat, play, and talk. If you notice that their behavior patterns have changed or they just seem down, it might be time to take them to a vet.

Are you ready to see these exotic birds live and in person? Then come down to the Pet Shop. We have a large selection of birds. Find out if we have the right cockatiel for you.

Why You’ll Love Hedgehogs as Pets

The woman one of the African hedgehogs in hand.

Fall in love hedgehogs and bring one home today.

Hedgehogs are the best. It’s amazing how delightful these spiky little companions are. However, we know how hard it can be to introduce a new pet into your life. That’s why we came up with this handy guide for you. Find out why bringing a hedgehog home will be the best decision you will ever make.

Wonderful Personalities

Hedgehogs are similar to hamsters when it comes to how they act. At first, they will be hesitant to do anything because they are adjusting to a new environment. If you learn to be patient and give them positive attention, the both of you will grow to have a positive relationship. You’ll find them to be shy at times but willing to interact with you if you are kind.

Hedgehogs Are Unique Creatures

There are plenty of reasons to love hedgehogs. They are cute, adorable, and their mousy little faces will melt your heart. They are also the perfect pet to show off to friends and family. People love to pet and look at their unique spines. The spines are what protrude out of their back, giving them their distinctive look.

Easy to Manage

Usually, most pets are troublesome to manage. However, you will find that hedgehogs are quite easy to maintain. For instance, they make very little noises and are less likely to cause mischief. Other small pets like rodents or hamsters love to chew on any and everything. You won’t find the same problem with a hedgehog.

Allergy-Friendly Pets

Another great aspect of hedgehogs is that they are allergy friendly. They don’t leave any pet dander around to trigger allergy symptoms. You’ll be able to hold them, play with them, and clean their cage with no issues.

We hope this convinces you to come down to the Pet Shop and bring home your very own spiky little friend. In fact, we are offering $100 off of all hedgehogs this month! Just mention our online pricing offer when you visit.

What to Look for in Your Cat’s Pet Food

A gray cat walking on a window sill and looking at his pet food.

Choose your cat’s pet food wisely.

Taking care of your pet is a lot like taking care of a child. You will always want the best for them. More than showing them tender love and care, you have to feed them right. For your furry feline friend, their pet food is extremely important. What’s in their food can make the difference between them being healthy and them having a poor diet.

Stick to Wet Pet Food

Wet food is just easier to eat for your pet. While dry food may look enticing because it requires less clean up, they are high in carbohydrates. This can cause tartar and plaque to grow in your cat’s mouth. Avoid it and stick to the old, reliable can.

Look for Foods With Better Nutrition

Just like humans, your little kitty needs to eat the right nutrients. First, avoid pet foods that use grain as an ingredient, as this has a high concentration of carbohydrates. The reason you want to avoid giving your pet a lot of carbs is because it is harder for them to digest.

The next thing to look for is protein. Cats should be eating the same kind of meat we eat. This is where they will get their necessary intake of protein. It comes from real beef, chicken, and turkey. And the food that they eat should be all natural. This means no GMO’s and the food is organic.

Scale Back the Fish Food

When you think of cats, you think of fish. Their love for fish is as old as time, but believe it or not, they shouldn’t have it all of the time. Some fish has high amounts of heavy metals, toxins, and phosphorus. These can cause your pet to develop health issues. So, stick to feeding them this type of food only once of month.

Enjoying Time With Your Pet Rabbit

An image of a pet rabbit laying on a log in an open field.

Find out how to safely play with your pet rabbit.

Rabbits deserve as much attention as you can give them, especially if you have one as a pet. After all, their energetic and playful personalities keep you happy. So, how about you return the favor. Here are a couple of tips for you to safely have fun with your pet rabbit.

Buy Your Pet Rabbit A lot of Toys

If you want your furry friend to enjoy themselves then find them a lot of stuff to play with. Pet rabbits don’t get out too often. Keeping them busy with toys prevents them from feeling cooped up in the house. You can also have some fun yourself by engaging with them in a game of fetch or passing a ball around.

Take Them Out Every Once in a While

Rabbits are naturally outdoor creatures. If you are truly worried about them feeling trapped inside the house, you should take them out. However, you have to be safe about it. While they need to run around in order to stay healthy, you don’t want to lose them or for them to get hurt. When going outside, either keep them on a harness or in a fenced-in area.

Pet Carefully

Who can resist petting a furry little animal? They are fluffy, soft, and love physical attention. Rabbits love to be pet as well, but they are fragile. When you want to hug, or pick up a rabbit, do it slowly and gentle. Most hold rabbits by the rear with one hand and by the front with the other. If they are not enjoying it, put them back down.

Enjoying time with your pet means that they enjoy themselves as well. That what makes a happy family for pets and their owners. Now, that you know how to properly play with them, go out, have fun, and play with your pet rabbit.