Brandon Butler

11 04, 2019

Boredom Busters: Keep Fido Entertained

By |2019-04-10T15:02:47-05:00April 11th, 2019|Guest blogger|0 Comments

A Blog by Guest Blogger Brandon Butler

Photo By: Pixabay

Snow, sleet, rain, or shine, when your pooch follows the same monotonous routine day in and day out, boredom is bound to creep in. Unfortunately, along with that boredom might come some unwanted behaviors. Rather than fuss and plea with your pooch, why not fight the boredom and enjoy some quality time with man and woman’s best friend?

Is Your Pup Bored?

Last time you checked, your pooch wasn’t able to verbally express his boredom, unless of course you are Dr. Dolittle. However, there are several signs to look out for that point to a restless pooch.

You may notice your dog using his words in the form of barking at everything and everyone. Perhaps your pooch is suddenly misbehaving such as getting into the garbage, turning over food/water bowls, ripping into treat bags, or suddenly engaging in a behavior that he has been trained not to do. Pay attention to how your dog reacts when you get home, too. He is excited to see you, of course, but all the energy that has built up throughout the day is being unleashed upon you.

Explore Indoor Options

The weather isn’t always cooperative, which means you’ll have to find some ways to entertain your pooch indoors. Have an epic game of hide-and-seek by hiding treats, tennis balls, or other toys around the house to not only get your pup up and moving, but give him some mental stimulation, too. You can even take it a step further and hide yourself. Call out to Fido and suppress the giggles as he sets out on a mission to find you.

Perhaps you could set up an indoor agility course, or play a game of fetch using a soft toy. Since you are already stuck indoors, why not spend some time preparing for future outdoor fun by brushing up on your dog’s public etiquette, leash walking, and basic commands.

Get Out When You Can

Once the weather starts to cooperate, it’s time to head outside for some outdoor fun. There are plenty of dog parks in the area, offering Fido an opportunity for an off-leash romp as well as some canine socialization. Make it a day or overnight trip by heading out for a beach day, hike, or camping trip. If you’re going camping, make sure you’re prepared and that you bring along a pet first aid kit and collapsible water bowl. You can even have your pup help shoulder the load with dog backpack (read reviews before making a purchase).

You could bring some of the indoor activities mentioned above outside by playing hide-and-seek in a fenced-in area or play fetch in a wide-open space. The truth is, there are plenty of dog-friendly activities in your area. If you aren’t sure where to start, sites like BringFido will point you in the right direction.

If Fido is bored, it’s time to do something about it. Entertainment options abound no matter what the weather is like outside, giving both of you an opportunity for fun and bonding.

6 12, 2018

Dog Problems: Keeping Your House Clean on a Budget

By |2018-12-04T11:01:08-06:00December 6th, 2018|Guest blogger, Pet care|0 Comments

Welcome guest blogger Brandon Butler. He’s is a dog lover and vet tech, who loves helping pet owners. You can find more of his wisdom on Fur and Feathers.

Dog Problems: Keeping Your House Clean on a Budget

For dog lovers, one of the best parts of the day can be the time they spend with their beloved canine companion. After all, a pet’s unconditional love and affection is calming. It can be tough to relax, however, when errant fur tumbleweeds, slimy slobber, and muddy paw prints surround you. If you don’t have the cash for a cleaning lady, what can you really do?

Don’t fret. Here are some ways you can maintain a cleaner, healthier home (and pet) without spending a fortune, so you can truly enjoy your time with your pet.

Control the Odor by Cleaning Often

The first thing you’ll need to control is the odor of your home. Many otherwise-spotless homes have a particular smell attached to them, thanks to their dog. There are several major causes of home odors; first, your dog may have gone to the bathroom indoors.

While prevention is the best way to keep the odors from spreading, if your dog has used the bathroom indoors, it may be in an unexpected or hidden place. Seek out the spot and immediately clean it with powerful cleaners so that the effects will not be long-lasting.

If you find that the odors still stick around, it may be time to do a thorough cleaning of your house. Focus on surfaces that may hold on to odors, like carpet and upholstery. Natural cleaning solutions, such as apple cider vinegar and baking soda, will rapidly remove odors and leave your house feeling fresh without running the risk of harming your dog with dangerous chemicals (plus, natural solutions are less expensive).

Follow the same set of principles if your dog drools a lot — if you notice drool, clean it up right away. You may want to consider putting a towel down on your dog’s favorite spot to make cleanup a breeze.

Thoroughly Clean to Improve Air Quality

You probably will still need to improve the quality of the air inside your house, though, by removing the dander already present. Use a good air filter to remove dander and other particles from the air, and light some natural candles to help improve the smell of your home.

Cleaning can also help solve this problem; use a bagged vacuum to make your cleaning even more effective. The bags help you trap the dirt and debris that vacuuming gathers and allow you to seamlessly transfer it to the trash can. Remember to always compare different models of vacuum cleaners to find one with the features you need that falls under your budget.

Improve Your Dog’s Health Through Regular Grooming

The final way you can keep your home clean is to keep your pet clean. The battle between pet parents and their pup’s hair is one of the most well-known. Regularly grooming with a brush designed for your dog’s particular coat will help to remove loose fur from their coat, preventing it from flying around the house, catching on the legs of chairs, and gathering in the corners.

There are also steps you can take between regular baths. Keep paw wipes by the door to prevent your pet from tracking in mud and other unsavory substances from outside, and use a spray-on deodorizer to combat your pet’s everyday smell. As an added bonus, these sprays are made with ingredients that naturally soothe your pup’s skin to prevent scratching, which just spreads more fur.

Keeping your home clean is just as important as keeping your dog happy. However, many of the best ways to maintain your home, such as regularly grooming your dog, are equally good for your dog’s health.

By keeping your house fresh and clean, you will be able to take full advantage of time with your beloved pup, and all the benefits that come with it.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

13 09, 2018

Two Etiquette Tips to Help Your Dog Be A Better Neighbor

By |2018-12-04T11:01:44-06:00September 13th, 2018|Guest blogger|2 Comments

Welcome guest blogger Brandon Butler. He’s is a dog lover and vet tech, who loves helping pet owners. You can find more of his wisdom on Fur and Feathers.

Two Etiquette Tips to Help Your Dog Be A Better Neighbor

According to polls, 74 percent of Americans like dogs a lot, while two percent of respondents professed to hate dogs. Even those who like dogs don’t usually like obnoxious dog behavior.

As a dog owner, you probably love everything about your pet. You accept your dog, muddy paws and all. You accept his faults because he loves you unconditionally. Sometimes, adoration for your dog means that you ignore some of his behavior that may be bothersome to others. 

We’re a nation of dog lovers, but… it’s up to owners to teach their pets to be good neighbors. The good news is that you can address most problems yourself.

  1. Correct excessive barking

You may be numb to his barking, but your neighbor probably isn’t. If your dog is an excessive barker who howls at every pedestrian passing your home or just goes off on a yelping rant whenever home alone, there are steps you can take to stop or minimize the yapping.

The first rule is to resist the inclination to yell. Your dog doesn’t know what it means when you raise your voice to him, and if he’s barking, he’s just going to think you are joining in on the noise. Instead, speak to him in a confident, authoritative voice. Here are some tips to curb barking:

  • Remove the barking stimuli. If your dog barks all day at people walking by the front of the house, make it so he cannot see out that window. Restrict access to rooms that face walkers and other activity.
  • Desensitize your dog to things that would cause barking. For example, if your dog barks at other dogs, incorporate socialization with other dogs and reward him for not barking around those that he meets.
  • Train your dog to be quiet when you command. Just like other problem behaviors, your dog is only barking because he hasn’t learned that it’s inappropriate. Again, you accomplish this training goal without yelling, but by rewarding your pup with training treats for stopping barking on command.

 

  1. Calm your dog through adequate exercise

Problem behaviors often arise in dogs who are bored from inactivity. A dog may jump on a visitor, chew on furniture, and even have accidents in the house because of pent-up energy and nervousness. If you provide frequent interaction and activity your dog will be less likely to engage in a destructive stress-relieving behavior. Try this out: double the frequency and duration of your current walking schedule. In most cases, you’ll be hearing more snoring than barking, and your well-exercised pup will be a lot less likely to engage in other inappropriate behavior.

Dog walking provides benefits for owners in addition to controlling bad canine behavior. The activity gives owners exercise and has been shown to reduce stress. It also is a wonderful way to connect with your dog.  If your busy schedule limits your available time for walking, consider hiring a dog-walking/dog sitter service. These services can help make sure your dog gets frequent attention.

Today’s gig economy makes finding dog sitters and walkers easier than ever, but ask some essential questions before hiring a service. For instance, ask how they would handle an emergency situation. Insist that they provide a reference list of current and former clients, and make sure that you give the service clear instructions and have an open line of communication.

Through basic obedience training and frequent exercise, you will find that many of your dog’s problem behaviors disappear. You, your dog, and the entire neighborhood will appreciate it.

26 07, 2018

How Your Family Can Eat Healthy All Summer Long

By |2018-07-24T10:35:25-05:00July 26th, 2018|Guest blogger|2 Comments

Today I am hosting Brandon Butler, one of our regular guest bloggers. He’s sharing four great ways to encourage healthy eating this summer.

How Your Family Can Eat Healthy All Summer Long

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 Think you don’t have an influence on what your kids eat? Think again.

Research suggests that parents have a significant impact on what kids eat — particularly in their early years. While the best solution is to nip bad habits in the bud, it’s never too late to institute a healthy regimen.

Summer can present multiple temptations, but you can still enjoy the season without sacrificing your family’s health.

  • Be Mindful Of Snacking

Despite the fact that it’s a debatable topic amongst pros in the health industry, mindless (and unhealthy) snacking can upend healthy eating habits. Aside from weight gain and the possibility of consuming an unbalanced diet, other risks include memory and learning problems, increased risk of dementia, inability to control appetite, chemical changes that lead to depression, and the risk of uncontrollable cravings.

However, between road trips and summer activities, craving a snack is not out of the realm of possibilities. With that in mind, opt for healthy alternatives, such as a gut-healthy guac (with yogurt or sauerkraut), chopped veggies and hummus, fresh (or grilled) fruit kabobs, whole grain crackers and string cheese, low-fat yogurt, etc.

  • Create Healthier Versions Of Summer Favorites

Everyone loves a grilled burger and ice cream cone come summertime, but there’s no doubt that the calories can add up quickly when consuming such warm-weather delicacies. Instead of denying yourself—and your family—these culinary pastimes, opt for making healthier alternatives.

If unconventional recipes such as sweet potato salad aren’t your thing, consider small changes, such as swapping out highly-caloric mayonnaise, fatty ground chuck, kettle chips, and full-fat ice cream with lower-calorie versions — but don’t’ be afraid to treat yourself and your loved ones once in a while. Experts agree that occasional splurges prevent a decrease in metabolic rate, prevent binges, and help maintain a healthy lifestyle for the long term.

  • Head To The Farmers Market

Aside from the visual stimuli that are incomparable to a grocery store, taking your kids to the farmers market teaches them what real food is, the importance of seasonality, and what goes into a meal.

Allow your kids to choose specific fruits and vegetables that appeal to them visually and taste-wise so that they can get excited about eating healthy foods. Talk about the origin of the produce, different preparation methods, and how such foods help in their daily activities, from sports to sleeping to functioning at school.

  • Cook Together

Not only is cooking an important life skill every youngster should know, it’s also a fun family activity to do together. Combine the two previous points (healthy food alternatives and the farmers market) to teach your kids how to make healthier preparations of their favorite dishes while speaking to them about the difference between the original and your newfound creations.

Cooking is also a good opportunity to point out the importance of eating whole, quality foods versus goods that come out of a can or a box in the frozen section of the grocery store. Give your kids age-appropriate tasks to complete during the prep and/or cooking process so that they have a sense of satisfaction when the meal is served.

Eating is only half the battle. Staying active with your family is a key component to staying healthy, too. There are copious ways to have fun with the family, including day trips, walking in your neighborhood after dinner, dancing, riding bikes, hiking, strolling around the zoo, going for a picnic, and simply horsing around in the backyard by camping out or playing kick ball.

15 02, 2018

How to Show Love for an Elderly Pet

By |2018-02-13T16:15:48-06:00February 15th, 2018|Guest blogger|0 Comments

Today’s guest blogger is Brandon Butler, a dog lover and vet tech. Welcome back,  Brandon. In keeping with February’s emphasis on love he’s sharing tips on how to show love to an older pet.

All animals have a story and not all of them are happy. But if you have chosen to open up your home to an elderly dog or cat, you can give them a happy ending.

In all my years as a pet owner, I have found caring for aging animals particularly rewarding. They are not puppies, however, and require a little bit of TLC beyond an afternoon walk in the park.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you open your home and heart to a pup (or kitten) past his prime:

Dogs and cats get cold, too.

“Both cats and dogs have slightly higher resting body temperatures than humans, so when it is colder outside make sure they have a blanket in their bed and an area to sleep in the sunlight during the day. Also be sure to dress your dog in booties and a sweater when taking them outside to potty, because extreme changes in temperature increase risk of illness.” That quote, taken from the Redfin website, sums it up quite nicely.

There is such a thing as dog flu – and it can be deadly to an older pet.

Older animals are more susceptible to illness, injuries, and infection. With the intensity of the current flu season, I’d like to point out that canine influenza is real and has many of the same symptoms as those currently floating around human hospitals. Sneezing, fatigue, and fever are all common. If you notice any of these symptoms in your elderly pet, call his or her veterinarian immediately. And it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, according to USA Today, dog flu isn’t seasonal.

You may have to get creative at dinnertime.

Like older humans (most of us anyway), an elderly pet may have a little less luster for life when it’s blustery and cold or hot and muggy out. PetMD suggest literally playing with your dog’s food to encourage them to eat and exercise. You can also help a food-motivated mutt stay mentally stimulated by packing his food in a treat dispenser that offers a tasty reward when he’s solved a puzzle.

Senior pets make great bedfellows.

Because older dogs are less destructive and usually less active, there are a great option if you like to sleep with your pet. Healthy Pets’ Dr. Becker notes that senior animals probably won’t chew your favorite shoes or “shred the handmade quilt your grandma gave you.”

And because they won’t run and play as often, older dogs are great at snuggling which, according to science, can actually help you reduce stress and anxiety.

While many people prefer to adopt a young puppy, there’s really no reason not to fall head over heels for an older dog. Despite popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

And though your years together may be few, the quality of those years will leave a lasting impact on your entire family.

19 10, 2017

Embracing Change: How a Breakup or Divorce Can Help You Create Positive Habits

By |2017-10-05T09:08:26-05:00October 19th, 2017|Guest blogger|0 Comments

A Guest blog by Brandon Butler

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Changing jobs, getting divorced, having a baby, and moving to a new city are all major life changes. Some are planned; others are not. While some are happy experiences, others aren’t.

Regardless of the circumstances, major life transitions shake up your routine. Routines and habits go hand and hand, so take advantage of the shake-up, and change your life for the better.

A breakup or divorce often means having to move to a new place. You’re going to be single again, but don’t look at it as a negative. Take this time to learn to value your own company and alone time. Make a habit of making time for yourself, whether it’s doing yoga, exercising, meditating, or participating in your favorite hobby.

Not only are these activities good for your health, but the simple act of being alone can spark creativity, boost productivity, increase relaxation, and clear your mind. A blend of alone time and social time can actually help fight depression, and doing activities alone can be just as fun as doing them with others.

After your divorce, you’ll likely need to make new living arrangements. This is an intimidating situation, but you can make it more pleasant and use it as an opportunity to change your habits. When planning a move, choosing a location and a home size are the most important decisions and the best starting points.

Downsizing is common, and for many divorcees, it’s the perfect opportunity to go through your belongings and let go. Not only can you move forward from the relationship, but you can also work on becoming less cluttered, which can improve your overall energy and mood and make you feel more focused, optimistic, confident, and motivated.

Purging items that remind you of your ex may be liberating, but don’t be too hasty; items you detest when the divorce is fresh can serve as nostalgic memories later. When in doubt, place an item in storage instead of tossing it.

Moving requires planning, start by determining where you’ll move. The longer the move, the sooner you should start planning and the more help you’ll need. Arranging how to handle the move so it’s not as taxing as other decisions is important and fairly straightforward. Plan the logistics of packing, unpacking, transporting items, and arranging furniture.

A quick and simple move is important for your sanity and your children’s welfare, so consider hiring moving professionals to achieve this and to allow you to focus on supporting your children instead of focusing on moving logistics.

If you’ve been guilty of not focusing enough time on your children or not communicating well with them, change that now by keeping the doors of communication open—something with which many parents struggle.

Talk to them about what they want in the new home and take them with you to look at homes if they want to go. When you purge belongings, remember that items that don’t matter to you may be sentimental to your kids. If you don’t want to keep an item, but your child does, compromise and let the item stay in his or her room.

While getting a head start on moving is important, it’s also critical to keep the lives of your children as normal as possible during a divorce or move, so don’t get too ahead of yourself.

Divorce and moving are major transitions, but any big change can spark an opportunity to swap bad habits for positive ones. Whether you need to stop smoking, start recycling, improve your diet, or make a better effort of staying in touch with friends, a variation in your routine may be just what you need to get started.

However, be aware that the window of opportunity is limited to the first three months after the transition, so don’t wait too long to seize the opportunity.

8 06, 2017

How Pets Help People Cope With Mental Illness

By |2017-06-02T08:09:52-05:00June 8th, 2017|Guest blogger|1 Comment

Today I am hosting guest blogger Brandon Butler. Brandon is a dog lover and vet tech. He loves helping pet owners by sharing advice on Fur and Feathers.

After you read this blog, you’ll truly appreciate the benefits pets bring to our lives.

Photo via Pixabay by Foundry

A Guest Blog by Brandon Butler

Studies done on the human-animal bond and show many benefits for people with mental illness. Pet ownership or therapy sessions with animals can be an excellent alternative or supplement to medications. This method can cut back on the possibility of substance abuse by the mentally ill, who tend to be more susceptible to addiction due to the desire to self-medicate.

Dogs especially can reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. They encourage playfulness and exercise and introduce joy and unconditional love to those in need.

Physical Benefits

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can play a major role in easing symptoms of PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, stress, autism, and other mental illnesses. Having a pet to care for helps people focus on getting out of bed and finding a purpose for their day.

Walking a dog is a daily routine that helps both the owner and the dog get exercise. Spending time with your pet solidifies the bond between the two of you, and getting outdoors can make your body feel better. Fresh air and sunshine are healthy and joy-inducing, and you may even have more positive social interaction by getting out of the house and meeting other pet owners along the way.

Try taking your dog to a dog park and see how contagious your dog’s happy social interactions can be. You will likely have some nice conversations with other dog owners while you are there.

Playing with and loving your pet will elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which calm and relax. Having a pet can lower stress levels and anxiety, which in turn lowers blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure keeps you healthier, helps you avoid heart problems, and can add years to your life.

Mental Health Benefits

People struggling with mental health issues see their pets as the central support in their lives, and often, even over family and friends. A pet offers unconditional love on days when you are feeling good and on the days you are feeling terrible. They will never judge, and that can be a powerful support system when you need it.

Isolation (felt by many with mental illness) is alleviated by having a furry companion. The structure and routine of pet ownership can help the mentally ill not withdraw from society. Knowing that their pet needs and depends on them can also deter them from having suicidal thoughts.

There are many people who cannot or do not work due to their mental problems. Having a pet that they care for and treat well can also be a source of pride when they feel like they have nowhere else to contribute to society.

Ultimately, pets increase confidence, comfort, safety, and peace when dealing with mental health issues. They offer loyalty for life and could be just what those suffering from mental illness need.

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Great insights, Brandon. Thanks for sharing with us today.