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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.


Have you recently adopted a rescue pup or adult dog?

Here are a few must know tips:

Enroll in Obedience Class:

Assume your new dog has never had training.  Treat your shelter dog the same way you would a new puppy coming into your house. Assume he has never had any training. Even if he has had obedience training in the past, he may need a refresher after all he’s been through. Your best bet is to expect that he knows nothing. This way you’ll be pleasantly surprised if the dog already knows some basic cues or is already house trained, but you won’t be setting him up for failure with expectations that are too high.

As the responsible adult one has to be very careful in selecting classes for your dog that use modern, up-to-date, scientifically proven training and positive reinforcement.

First and foremost- make sure the training class you consider for your new dog focuses on POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT techniques.  

Positive reinforcement is reward based training scientifically proven and up-to-date research shows that dogs who are trained with this method lead WELL ADJUSTED lives, learn better & quicker and the wanted/desired behaviours are “better established” and you end up with a HAPPIER DOG and a far more stronger, healthier, TRUSTING RELATIONSHIP with your dog.   

Do some research before enrolling in just any training school.  

Ask the school what will happen if your dog gets it right and what will happen if your dog gets in wrong?

To answer the above, if your dog gets it wrong be very wary of the following:  Punishment ( like spray bottles, pinning your dog to the ground, choke chains, shouting at the dog, hitting, yanking the lead, pinching, shaking things in your dogs face are all part of negative reinforcement training- the effects of which can lead to often permanent damage, fall-out behaviours, “shut down”- often mistaken as “calm or submission” by misinformed or new owners.  This can also lead to latent aggression ( the silent biter) & recurring unwanted behaviours).  

Many self claimed trainers or unqualified behaviourists make use of the pop culture meme of “pack theory”.  This method is becoming less popular in the rest of the world as the methods are proven to have disastrous long-term effects, they make use of aversive, negative techniques and are very stressful for both the owner & the dog. 

The correct answer to the what will happen if my dog gets it right, should be that they are rewarded through praise, a game, a treat or affection.  If they get it wrong- you ignore the undesired behaviour.

“Without a doubt, the most dangerous effect of pack theory is that it encourages dog owners to take a competitive or antagonistic attitude towards their dogs – the owner must always be ready to let the dog know who is boss and to ensure that the “ambitious” dog never wins or gets the better of him. No matter how much it is sugar-coated, this is not a healthy, loving relationship. Furthermore, some dogs will react extremely negatively to such forceful handling and may become increasingly aggressive towards their owners. If someone grabbed you, threw you on your back and yelled in your face what would you do? Are we really surprised that dogs bite people?” {Blyth,T(}


So Where To Now:

So handle them with POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT methods and realise that reward based training methods are not only scientifically proven to work, but are HUMANE and ETHICAL.

Training should be FUN for both you and your dog…like reward based training, exercises involve a positive approach and you are encouraging the dog to THINK FOR HIMSELF– it’s both mentally & physically stimulating. Clicker training classes also come highly recommended. Do your research- just like you wouldn’t enrol your human kids in a school where the teachers scream, hit or yank them when they don’t listen…so too should you make sure your dogs end up at registered and qualified trainers that use MODERN techniques.

Class, trainer & behaviourist LISTINGS:

These following pup schools, dog training facilities and qualified behaviourists come highly recommended:

* puppy, kitten schools as well as beginners/adult classes & qualified behaviourists: Thinking Pets Class Listings around South Africa:  THINKING PETS TRAINING EXCELLENCE

* puppy school Steenberg/Tokai: PUPPY TRAINING WITH JOANNA

* training school for dogs of all ages: from puppy socialisation classes and Canine Good Citizen Test to advanced and competition obedience training: KOMMETJIE CANINE COLLEGE or TARYN BLYTH

*puppy, beginners, adult training Rondebosch/Wynberg: DOGHUBSA

*puppy, beginners, adult, agility training Constantia: DOG DYNAMICS BEHAVIOUR AND TRAINING

Want to study?
Interested in studying animal behaviour or doing a short course on understanding your newly adopted dog or cat : COAPE SA


Expect a Period of Adjustment:

Even though it may take a little while for your shelter dog to get used to his new home, that doesn’t mean you should put off starting an obedience program. Do not molly-coddle your pooch in the first few days- get straight into a routine. Dogs thrive on a happy, predictable daily routine. On the contrary, regular training sessions can help get him into a routine.

Starting a training program can also help you to establish boundaries for your dog right from the beginning. It can be tempting to coddle him for the first week out of empathy, but it is best to set rules asap! If you allow your dog to engage in certain behaviors when you first bring him home, such as eliminating on the carpet, or chewing on table legs, it will be much harder to train him to stop doing those things later. Starting an obedience class sets him up for good behavior, and makes it easier for him to become a happy and healthy member of your family!

When you adopt a puppy or dog from a shelter, he comes with a history, sometimes not known even to the rescuer or to the shelter. Keep in mind that the stress of this, along with whatever the dog has experienced in his past, can make him less than confident in new surroundings. Plan on giving him some time to adjust to his new home and family. Dogs can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to get used to living in a new place. Be PATIENT!

Pet overpopulation is a people problem and not an animal problem. And, as thinking, feeling people, the solution starts with us people and an appointment at the spay/neuter clinic. It continues, but does not end, with care, compassion and the same unconditional love that our pets give us.

“The biggest contribution to pet overpopulation is people not spaying and neutering their pets,” says Bretta Nelson, PR manager for AHS. “That’s the only effective solution. If people don’t spay and neuter their pets, the [euthanasia] rates go up.”

 As animal lovers say, adopt, don’t shop—every pet bought denies a home to one in a shelter.

We read about and often witness these tragedies daily: people who abandon their pets; colonies of feral cats left to scrounge for themselves and their offspring; families leaving litters of puppies and kittens dumped..abandoned..; puppies for sale in pet stores and by backyard breeders online or through personal ads, with potential owners unaware that they’re purchasing offspring of ill, overbred mothers living in conditions in which you wouldn’t house felons. All of these pets are victims of or contributors to pet overpopulation.

Virtually all puppies sold at pets stores come from puppy mills, where dogs live miserably in tiny cages with little or no opportunity to exercise, play or socialize. Although there are many responsible breeders, there are far more irresponsible ones who are breeding for profit without regard for good health and temperament or the pet overpopulation problem.

While acquiring a puppy, kitten or adult animal from a friend, neighbor or Internet ad might seem innocent enough, in reality you are contributing to the pet overpopulation problem by creating demand for irresponsible breeding or enabling owners to have a convenient, guilt-free and often profitable outlet for disposing of unwanted pets. In many cases, these people will go on to become repeat offenders, engaging in a continuous cycle of irresponsible breeding or pet acquisition and disposal because they know they can easily find a new home for the animal(s).The majority of pets acquired this way are not spayed or neutered, which also perpetuates the cycle of overpopulation. The only way to break this cycle is to choose not to participate in it.

By choosing to adopt, you will not only save a life, but you will also ensure that your adoption fee is going to help the next unwanted pet that comes in the door of that shelter. The adoption fees at most shelters include spaying or neutering, vaccinations, microchipping, deworming etc.

What you can do to combat pet overpopulation:

*Always spay and neuter your pets.

*Always adopt your pets from a legitimate shelter or nonprofit rescue group.

* Consider all the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership before deciding to get a pet and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet.

*Educate your children, friends, family members and co-workers about pet overpopulation, adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering.

Some helpful info on introducing your kitty to his or her new home:

Bringing Your Shelter Cat Home:

Your new cat has most probably experienced a lot of stress and changes of environment, and will probably be nervous/unsettled by the time you bring him home. He is most likely used to the environment of a shelter kennel/garden, so it would be best to keep him confined in a small safe room for the first few days, especially if there are other cats/pets in the house. Usually 2 weeks is ample…slowly allowing him into the various rooms of the house to sniff and explore, all the while keeping the other pets separate so as not to increase the level of stress he may be experiencing.

Let your cat set the rules at first. Don’t be surprised if the cat hides under the bed for several days. As long as he or she has food, water, a litter box, a place to sleep, and a toy or two..some catnip..he will be okay. Chances are when you are not in the room, he will be coming out to eat, use the litter box, or to explore by sniffing his new environment.

Gradually increase your together time. Talk to your cat when you are in the safe room. You may want to sit in a chair and read a book. He’ll come around when he finally feels safe with you, but don’t rush it. Count your victories in small increments: the first time he peeks out at you from under the bed; the first time he plays with a wand toy with you; the first time he takes a treat you offer him. When he finally jumps up and settles in on your lap, you’ll know that he has settled and he realises he is home…your life long companion…


Be patient.. these things take time… set your kitty out for success by not adding too much pressure too soon.


Integrating Cats and Dogs:

When first introducing a cat into a dog-only household (or vise-versa), keep the following in mind:

* Always supervise the animals until you know how they will get along.

* Separate the cat and dog during mealtimes.

* Separate the animals physically when leaving your house. Make sure to provide each with fresh water, resting beds, toys and/or a litter box.

* Consider using a baby gate to allow the animals to sniff each other without coming into full contact.

* On introduction, make sure the cat has an escape route, or a highplace to jump to, whilst keeping the dog on a lead at first. Keep treats with you and distract the dog’s attention from the cat by rewarding him a treat for good behaviour ie: ignoring the cat.

* Remember not to punish the dog for barking or wanting to chase the cat- it’s his natural instinct and he’s possibly curious.

* Take puppies/dogs to obedience classes to learn basic cues such as “sit,” “stay” or “down.”

Just as with humans, friendships take time to develop; don’t be upset if your animals don’t become pals right away.

It takes time, dedication and patience.

Always consult a qualified behaviourist or ask your local vet for more info.

 Dog And Cat Relationships:

Relationships between cats and dogs are possible, depending on their personalities and their owners’ patience and understanding. And while the initial introductory period can be tricky, this unique relationship can be quite rewarding to both species.

Dog and Cat Behaviour:

By nature, dogs are predators and often chase things smaller than them—including cats. However, this doesn’t mean that dogs and cats are not able to live in harmony. As the two most common household pets, the way dogs and cats relate to each other have a lot to do with their temperament, and whether either have had any adverse reactions to members of different species in the past.

For example, a dog raising his paw to a cat may mean he wants to play, but a cat can take it as a sign of an attack, prompting the cat to swat her paw at the dog, sending her into a hissing fit. Likewise, a cat that tries to rub up against a dog may be acting friendly, but a dog can interpret that as a threat—especially if the cat is near his toys or food—and can cause the dog to growl or bark.

However, getting a puppy and a kitten at the same time and raising them together is an option: that way neither has previous fears of each other, as early socialisation occurred.

Be responsible and spay or neuter your pets.

 Sterilizing dogs and cats has been hailed as the most effective method for pet population control. Neutered dogs have less desire to roam or mark territory and sterilisation reduces health risks too.

 At DARG, sterilisation is included in the adoption fee. If the adopted animal is too young on adoption, it is booked for sterilisation when it is of age ( 6 months ) with our vet.

Benefits to your female pet:

Female dogs experience a “heat” cycle approximately every six months, depending upon the breed. A female dog’s heat cycle can last as long as 21 days during which your dog will leave bloodstains in the house and may become anxious, short tempered and actively seek a mate.

Female cats can come into heat every 2 weeks during breeding season until they become pregnant. During this time, they may engage in behaviours such as frequently yowling and urination in unacceptable places.

Both female dogs and cats benefit from spaying which eliminates their heat cycles and generally reduces the negative behaviours that may lead to owner frustration. Early spaying of female dogs and cats helps protect them from serious health problems later in life such as urinary infections and cancer of the mammary (milk) glands.

 Benefits to your male pet:

At maturity (6-9 months of age) male dogs and cats are capable of breeding. Both male dogs and cats are likely to begin “marking” their territories by spraying strong-smelling urine on your furniture, curtains, and in virtually any part of the house/property. Also, given the slightest chance, males may attempt to escape from home in search of a mate. Dogs seeking females in heat can become aggressive and may injure themselves and people by engaging in fights.

Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the need to breed and can have a calming effect that makes them less inclined to roam and more content to stay at home.

Neutering your male pet also improves his health by reducing the risk of prostate disease, testicular cancer and infections.

 Sterilisation myth:

Another myth is that spaying and neutering cause weight gain. Dogs do not get fat simply by being sterilized. Just like humans, dogs gain weight if they eat too much and exercise too little or if they are genetically programmed to be overweight. The weight gain that people may witness after sterilization is most likely caused by continuing to feed a high energy diet to a dog that is reducing its need for energy as it reaches adult size.



 Getting a pet just to teach a child responsibility is not a good idea. Pet experts recommend that young kittens are not appropriate for children under age five and suggest a child should be at least six years old before having a pet introduced as a new family member.

Young kittens are not always the best choice for homes with an infant or toddler as young children usually don’t have the patience or maturity to handle kittens responsibly.

 The best way to teach your children how to be responsible pet caregivers is to be one yourself. This should start before you even get a pet by selecting the right animal for your family at the right time. Please take the time to consider whether a young kitten is the best choice for you and your family.


Caring for a kitten is like caring for a baby. They require significantly more time to supervise and care for than an older cat. The first six months are vital to the development of a kitten. Many households are not able to provide what is needed during this time of learning and growing. Kittens that aren’t properly taught and cared for may not grow up to be well-adjusted adults. If you have a young child that already requires a lot of care and time, you should ask yourself if you will have enough time to properly care for a kitten as well. The kitten’s developmental years are crucial in his/her well-being.


A kitten in not a toy!! Young kittens are fragile creatures that may be too delicate for an exuberant toddler. Small children are often too rough on kittens because they have not yet learned how to treat creatures smaller than themselves.

A young child may inadvertently cause serious harm to a kitten. A kitten’s tiny body can be easily broken or crushed. A common injury in kittens is broken bones from rough play and death from being squeezed too hard.

There is no way to predict how a kitten will react to a child that wants to constantly pick him up, hug him, pull on his tail, ears, feet, or whiskers. If frightened, held too tightly or forcibly restrained, a kitten may view this as a threatening gesture and react with scratching or biting the child.

It’s important to help your child see the world through your pet’s eyes. How would you child feel if someone poked at his eyes or pulled his ears. Even the most docile pet has limits, and all animals must be treated with caution and respect. To protect both your child and your pet, it’s critical that an adult supervise all pet-child interactions to insure the experience is a positive one — for both kids and kitten.


Kittens have extremely sharp teeth and claws. Biting and other rough play is natural play for a kitten. A rambunctious, teething kitten may not be suitable for an infant or toddler. If a child plays too rough with a kitten they could get scratched or bitten. Kittens also tend to climb on small children and accidentally scratch. Punishing your kitten for inappropriate behavior will not help. If he learns that being around children results in “bad things” happening to him, he may become defensive in their presence. Cats are natural hunters and this rough play and stalking and play time is essential and is crucial to their development as well adjusted adult cats- they learn how to be cats in their first few weeks & months.


A cat about one year old with an established personality is the perfect pet for families with young children. A one year old cat is barely out of kittenhood with plenty of spunk and energy. A one year old cat is better able to cope with children and their fast, unexpected movements and loud noises. It will be more patient with young kids, and best of all, knows when to walk away from interactions that are too much for either of them.

If you are wanting to adopt a feline friend into your home and do have small human kids, then consider an older cat, ie: an adolescent over 1yrs +.

NB: Always supervise children when interacting with animals.

Cats, being rather independent creatures, occasionally wander off, much to the alarm of their owners. While this can be a distressing event, there are ways to make sure you get your cat back home safe and sound.


1:Remain calm. It is natural to feel upset but getting into a panic won’t help you or your cat and can cause delay as you try to recollect yourself instead of searching for your cat. Action is the best antidote to worry, so get active as quickly as possible and try not to think of negative things.


2:Don’t delay looking for your cat. The longer a cat is gone, the further away it may be. Statistics show most owners don’t start looking for their cat for several days. It’s important to get the word out immediately to the veterinarians, animal-shelters and your neighbors, (especially your neighbors), so that these people know to search for or retrieve your cat before it has traveled far. Call your local animal shelter, welfare, SPCA ( all of them! ) and report your cat has gone missing along with all the relevant details (sex of the cat, color, and your contact information/microchip number). Visit them every day or two until your cat is found, as sometimes shelters have many cats and have a difficult time matching your description to what they have.


3:Think like your cat. If your cat is normally indoor-only, and has escaped outdoors, in many cases it is normal for the cat to stay very close to where he got out. The unfamiliarity of the outdoors, along with strange sounds and smells, will keep your cat close to what he knows. Likely hiding spots include the nearest place the cat can see, so try to think like a cat and crouch down.Cats will hide in places such as under a porch or deck, garages, rooftops, inside a shed or garage or inside boxes/barrels/pots, etc. that are large enough to hide them securely.Unless chased or forced to leave by hunger, your cat will stay put in the chosen hiding spot.If you can’t find your cat during the day, go out at night. Most times cats will hide until after dark, when things are quieter.


4:If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, be prepared for a possibly enlarged search. Cats used to the outdoors are curious and active creatures, so it’s not uncommon for them to go astray once in awhile, of their own accord. It’s possible that your cat is nearby and is just preoccupied.If something chased your cat away, your cat will be scared and has likely gone into hiding somewhere.


5:Call in reinforcements to help the search. Warn anyone searching that if they do spot the cat, remain quiet and avoid sudden movements, lest they spook the cat away again. It’s usually best for the owner approaches the cat, especially if the cat is skittish to begin with.


6:Call your cat. Tempt your cat out of hiding or back home by calling him and shaking the normal box of dry food or treats. Make the sounds that usually get your cat to come to you, however, be aware that most cats in a state of distress will not break cover to come to your calls. Try doing this in the late hours, once it is quiet outside and your cat is less likely to feel intimidated returning to you.If you have dogs, keep them in a room inside while trying to find your cat. Their enthusiasm may frighten the cat.


Stop and listen regularly. A cat that is trapped, hurt or hungry will likely “meow,” so whether you’re searching by yourself or with a group, take a few minutes in every area you search to listen quietly and attentively for the cat calling out.


If possible, leave your cat’s litter box in front of your house. Your cat will be able to pick up on the scent and might hang around longer.To help encourage your cat’s return via odors, you might even put a piece of your clothing recently worn by the door. Use an article that you wear next to your skin, and that has not been washed. This method, while eccentric, can help your cat a great deal in tracking your scent and deciding to stay near a familiar place.


7:Leave bits of your cat’s favorite cat food out. But only do this if you can monitor the food station. Remember, there are most likely other cats in the area and your cat may be pushed away from the territory if there is a dominant cat nearby (especially if this dominant cat has chased your cat away).Put the cat’s food bowl outside, then put a baby monitor near it. An alternative to a baby monitor is to get a portable wireless motion sensor and receiver pair (also known as a “driveway alarm”), and set the sensor at a low height and facing the bowl. Placing the receiver in the bedroom so the alarm will be loud enough to wake you up when motion is detected.Tuna is an attractive bait for many a hungry cat.If your cat normally goes to food, put food in possible hiding spots; the comfort of both a hiding spot and food may attract your cat. If you spot a furry creature eating there, be sure it is yours, approach slowly, then take it back home.


8:Retrace the steps. Think back to when you last saw your cat and recount what events have taken place since then. Did you open the door at all? Did you open the doors to any rooms that you’ve since shut? Ask anyone in the house, as well as your neighbors, when and where was the last time they saw the cat.


9:Narrow the search. Look in and around the areas the cat was last seen. It’s particularly important to look for hiding spots. When cats find themselves in unfamiliar places, they usually become scared and hide.If you’re looking outside, check underneath nearby cars or other nice hiding spots, like underneath barbecues, and patios. Unfortunately, on occasion a frightened cat may climb underneath a car or climb onto the engine of a warm car. Cats are also known to climb trees and get stuck.Indoors, look underneath beds, or in boxes or other accessible hiding spots,if your house has stairs, search under the stairs and under the porch. You may have to crawl around the area if he’s hiding in the darkness. Use a flashlight. Likewise, check the back of the house if you have a basement crawl space or any basement window areas. In attic spaces, look at the join between the roof and the walls; small cats can crawl into this gap and become stuck; meowing may be a good giveaway that this has happened.For more outdoor places: Look in piles of leaves and any debris near your house. Look around the garbage cans. If you have any brush around your house, areas of thick plants and tall grass, check those areas very carefully. Look behind tall plants and trees, especially those growing near your house. Move the tall grass around. He is more likely to be in there than in open areas like lawns.


10:Wait for the new morning to arrive. The cat might come out from its hiding spot. This may be due to the cat becoming scared of something. If scared, the cat may even be afraid of you.


11:Distribute fliers in your neighborhood. If your cat is missing for more than a few hours, talk to your neighbors and make fliers to put in their paper boxes or under door handles. Put your name, phone number, and a photo of your cat on the flier. Describe any distinguishing marks (such as, “triangular white spot on shoulder”), and write the coat color if you’re distributing black-and-white fliers. If your neighbors are aware your cat is lost, they’ll know to contact you if they see it around.Don’t be afraid to appeal to emotion (such as, “He is very loved!”).Include relevant information about any specific dietary or medical conditions your cat might have.Ask neighbors to kindly check their sheds, garages and basements. If they have been working on a project with doors open and your curious cat wandered inside, it is possible that a neighbor shut the cat in without realizing. Closest neighbors that the cat is reasonably familiar with are good places to check with first.It’s best to post as many fliers as you can within a 1-mile radius of your home. There are online templates for brochures and posters if you’re not sure how to make your own from scratch.


12:Give fliers to local vets. If someone finds your cat injured, or thinks he is a stray and wants to take him on as a pet, they may bring him to a vet, who can then identify him from the flyer or microchip.If your cat is microchipped, make sure that the contact details are up-to-date. Most vets will check this before all else and can then contact you direct.


13:Post a COLOR picture online. Many finders of pets search for owners online; think about posting a picture of your pet or searching for it on one of numerous pet recovery websites. Twitter and Facebook can be used to spread the word among your network of friends. Be sure to include a photo or two.If your neighborhood association has an email news digest or web site, post a Lost Cat notice. Remember to include the cat’s name, description and temperament(some people are afraid of cats). Include some of the advice above: speaking softly, offering treats etc.


14:Try to stay home, or have a family member home, to keep an eye out for the cat. Cats are highly territorial and are likely to come home from time to time but if there’s no one home, they may wander off again.Don’t get discouraged. Stay focused and positive and search for at least 3 to 6 weeks.Check the newspaper’s “found” section, and look into posting a “missing” ad there, as well. Sometimes they are free. Check online sites that have lost and found sections too. Many animal shelters have websites that show pictures of captured, stray animals. Check the website at least twice a day. There are various national or locally based sites that help with finding pets too; do an online search for your area.If it’s night time, hold your flashlight near your head and shine it into all the likely hiding spots of your cat. If the cat is there, it’s probably looking at you, and you’ll see the light reflecting off of its eyes.If your cat has a favorite toy on a string or wand, like a stuffed mouse or feather, take it with you while you search and make it very visible, like you want the cat to play with you; that frequently allays fears and brings them out of hiding.Take future measures to prevent loss of your cat situations from occurring. If your cat is an indoor cat, make sure there are no loose screens or doors open for a long period of time. Make sure your cat has a collar with contact information if there’s a chance they’ll go missing outdoors. Alternatively or additionally, you can have your cat implanted with a microchip which will contain its information if it is turned into the SPCA or similar.If your cat is stuck in a tree or other tall place, try placing an open can of tuna on the ground at the base. The smell is irresistible and encourages cats to quickly find their way to the ground.Make a catnip bait. Sprinkle catnip around your front door and surrounding area. It can help entice her if she is a fan of this herb.Take action to assist in your pet’s recovery by taking steps to ID your pet in advance. A collar with up to date information including your pet’s name, home address and phone number is crucial. Microchip your loved pet through a national pet recovery service which will substantially increase the odds of a safe return and may allow vet clinics/shelters immediate access to your pet’s medical records if necessary.Everyone searching should be carrying a cell phone (to stay in contact with one another and to alert the others if the cat’s been spotted or found) and a flashlight, which can be used to search in dark nooks and crannies even in the daylight hours. Don’t yell at or chase a cat that may already be scared. If you can see it, sit quietly – bring the cat’s favorite toy, speak in a normal voice. Drag a piece of string or yarn through bushes where the cat may be hiding. Don’t send a mob of children (or adults) noisily running after the cat only to scare it farther away.

Here are some handy tips for you to help keep you and your dog happy and SAFE over the festive season

( for ALL ages of dogs…cats too )

 Fun, parties & visitors over the holidays:

Some dogs will enjoy extra people around, for some it can be very stressful-just because you are enjoying ‘festive fun’ it, doesn’t mean your dog must too.

 If you’re hosting a party/get together:

Some dogs will become over excited or frightened when around unusual noises such as children toys, balloons popping, party bangers, flashing lights etc and intoxicated visitors can also cause a dog to feel uneasy – being grabbed, cuddled and told your a good boy over and over is not some dog’s idea of a fun day out, so plan in advance to help keep your best friend relaxed. If your dog is known not to cope well with these types of situations, or you haven’t had your dog long enough to find out, don’t take chances, be ready with your dog’s ‘retreat area’:  Make sure your dog(s) has a retreat somewhere familiar where he can go and relax away from all the noise and excitement if he needs to or you need to put him somewhere safe, for example a room upstairs or in a room with his bed somewhere familiar and quiet. Provide some favourite chews, or a stuffed Kong ( chew toy ) to help keep him occupied,where he likes to be, leave the radio/TV on to help block out some of the party’s noise! Exercise your dog in advance to help him settle down whilst you get on enjoying yourself!

Some foods can be harmful:

Many festive foods can be harmful and toxic to dogs. These include fatty or spicy foods, breads and dough, fresh herbs, alcoholic beverages and sweets of all kinds—especially those with chocolate or artificial sweeteners. Chocolate is POISONOUS and the results can be FATAL- ie: DEATH.  Keep all human food away from your beloved pets!

Particularly dangerous are cooked bones. Cooked bones easily splinter and the bone shards can cause choking or get stuck in your dog’s gums, throat area. Instead, give “dog bones” specifically designed for dogs to chew. Ask your veterinarian or pet shop for suggestions.  It’s natural that you’d want to share treats with your dog. While a little taste of turkey/chicken or sweet potatoes can make your dog happy, don’t overdo it—too much of a good thing can make him very, very sick.

 Visitors, Visitors… :

Extra people in and out increases the risk of your dog being let out of your home by mistake; always make sure doors are closed and that you know where your dog is – safely inside. Each year dogs go missing during the holiday period – is your dog wearing a collar and ID tag, is your dog identi-chipped/micro-chipped? Are your details up to date- these are crucial to your pet, if he may lose his way.

Christmas Presents:

Your goodies: Many dogs will be intrigued by the sudden appearance of wrapped boxes and who could blame them, so if you don’t want yours unwrapped by Santa’s little helper, keep the boxes hidden! Wrappings, trimmings, tinsel etc, can be very dangerous if chewed or swallowed, so keep safely away when not in use & bin after.

Doggie presents: Make sure your dogs own Christmas present(s) are ’dog proof’ – suitable for your dog, robust enough and safe for use.  Always supervise a dog when playing with toys/bones,chewies etc- when he’s done pack them away to bring out later again.

Christmas Trees & Decorations:

Once a year some of us fill our rooms up with trees, dangling objects, lights and even hang food around in odd places. We know what is going on, but our dogs probably just think we have gone a bit nuts in the nicest of ways!  Make sure your dog doesn’t try chew any of these as they can be a serious choking hazard!


Make sure you keep your tree lights and any other electrical decorations safely out of your dogs reach-especially if your dog is inclined to investigate or chew through exposed electrical cord. Electrocution can easily be caused.


If you have a real tree, the needles which fall daily can become stuck in your dog’s paws and are also dangerous if eaten, vacuum daily and keep your dog (and other animals) away from them. Don’t let your dog drink the tree water. Some dogs like to mark out against them (why else did human bring a tree indoors?) so bear that in mind too!

Tree Decor:

From a dogs point of view – the Christmas tree with its dangling goodies is pretty tempting and begging to be investigated, trees can easily topple over especially once weighed down with decorations and lights etc so try to secure the tree down so it does not fall over so easily if bumped into by your dog (or wagging tail). Trees do tend to look better by the window rather than being worn round the house by your enthusiatic dog!Dogs can easily be caught up in tinsel and find hanging decorations particularly appealing and ripe for pulling off. Life will be a lot easier and safer if you limit your dog’s access to the area if you need to and don’t leave tree and dog unattended! Puppies are especially inquisitive – avoid hazards- puppy proof!!


If you are visiting and taking your dog with you – don’t forget to pack his bag too! Check in advance that your dog is welcome, exercised beforehand to help him settle down when you get there, take a bit of his bedding, water bowl, own food, toy etc.  If he needs medication, check you have enough whilst you are travelling on holiday.  Have emergency vet numbers for the area with you in case you need them.  Check that his vaccinations are up to date as some areas in SA are prone to higher risks of rabies, parvo virus etc.  A quick checkup at the vet before travelling will ensure your pooch is vaccinated and up to date for the areas to which you are taking him or her.

Leaving him behind:

Have you organised a trustworthy family member or friend to look after & feed, water, exercise and care for your pet while you are away. Leave all contact details & vet emergency numbers with them. Have you checked him into a reputable boarding facility in advance- they get booked up very quickly- you wouldn’t leave booking accommodation for yourself or child to last minute, so don’t do the same with your furry family member!

Remember, your dog is part of the family too, so make sure he feels comfortable and is safe at all times!

The name “AfriCanis” refers to the native dogs of Africa.

Contrary to modern breeds, the AfriCanis is a land race, a dog that through natural selection has come to be an intrinsic part of our African continent.  They have not been selectively bred for appearance like other breeds, but through natural adaptation both physically and mentally to a variety of many African ecological niches and environments.

The dog’s appearance ranges from medium to large builds, naturally lean and athletic.  They have brown or tan coats or black and tan with either pointy or floppy ears.  Some have ridges on their backs whilst others do not. The dogs have developed a natural resistance against internal and external parasites, hardy immune systems.

They make wonderful, loyal companions and family members.

There are benefits to having two cats, but they apply only when the two cats are well matched and have enough physical space to live together comfortably. One benefit is that the two cats provide each other with exercise, social interaction, and other forms of mental stimulation.

Cats housed together have more opportunity to “be cats” by socializing and playing with each other, and this means they are less likely to be destructive or engage in other problematic behavior. For example, some single cats annoy their owners by trying to wake them during the night for play. Two cats might still wake the owner by tearing around the home, but at least the owner isn’t getting up out of bed to entertain the cat. Another benefit of two cats is that they are sometimes cleaner than a cat living by itself. Cats will groom each other’s ears and coat, often getting at places the cat can’t reach on its own!

The positive impact of having multiple cats can be negated by “cohabitation anxiety” if the cats do not get along. Adult cats with a history of living alone are better off remaining solitary unless you can provide so much space that the cats essentially live alone in the same home. It’s also important to be aware that cats can take a LONG time to learn to like each other. Dogs usually decide to be friends, or not, within a few hours or days. Cats, on the other hand, can take as long as a year to stop squabbling and start hanging out together.

Individual cats differ in activity level and sociability, primarily because of age differences and previous experience and exposure to other cats. These differences must be considered when making a match. Kittens, adolescents, and young adults can satisfy each other’s need to play by engaging in stalk-chase and wrestling games. Other suitable matches include pairing a kitten with an experienced adult female, so the female can take on a “motherly” role, or pairing a “bratty” adolescent with an older, more experienced cat. In some cases, a calm mature adult with a history of maternal or social behavior can tolerate the inappropriate behavior of a younger cat with limited social skills, and in the process “teach” more socially acceptable behavior.

Space is an absolute necessity for multiple cat homes. The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition found that cats housed in groups are less likely to exhibit aggressive or anxious behavior when each cat has at least 1 m2 of floor space and 2 m of vertical space, such as window sills and shelving. Providing access to an outdoor enclosure also significantly increases living space, except during the colder months when cats have little desire to be outside. Indoor cats do best with multiple sites for resting and hiding, so each cat can control how much it interacts with others. Cats need to have spots for hiding so they can be alone and undisturbed. Multiple litterboxes are also advisable so the cats can feel safe while eliminating. The number of litter boxes should equal the number of cats you have, plus one. So, for example, if you have three cats, you need four boxes. And, of course, provide plenty of scratching posts and toys to keep everyone happy. Food and water can be placed in a common area, as cats seem to enjoy congregating to eat. However, if you have a particularly timid cat, you may need to provide extra rations in a secluded area.
Realize that multiple cats are not likely to be best buddies immediately. There are no guarantees and it’s always best to be super-cautious when introducing cats to each other. Refer to the ASPCA’s guidelines for introducing cats. If you are adopting a cat that has already lived in a group at the shelter, consider adopting one of his/her friends. Introducing two friends to a new home can ease the transition, and you’ll be much more likely to have a successful merger.

© 2004 ASPCA

Adult & older cats often get overlooked in shelters…they too need good, loving homes.

Adult cats require less attention and supervision. They’re quiet companions. They have well-developed manners, use the litter box / house trained and the scratching post without constant reminders.

Many adult cats end up in shelters due to no fault of their own. Separated from their loved ones, surrounded by other cats, confined, confused, and sometimes frightened, many are emotionally devastated by their misfortune. Sadly, most people gravitate toward the cute, bouncy, big-eyed kittens. Older cats sit by and watch, as one loving family after another passes them over for a cute kitten. Adopting an adult cat is a way to say to a deserving animal “I believe in you.”

Kittens will always be popular, and most have no trouble attracting admirers. But for the abandoned, forgotten, and heartbroken adult cats, you just might be their last chance to have the love and warmth of a home where they can live out their years in comfort. When properly cared for, cats often live well into their late teens, and sometimes into their early twenties. Typically, they will remain active and even playful throughout most of their lives. Some may need a little extra patience while adjusting to a new home, but once they feel safe and secure again, they’ll offer years of faithful companionship and unconditional love.

DARG has plenty of beautiful adult cats in their care, all needing homes to suit their individual needs & personalities.

Why would you want to adopt an older dog?

For those of you who need convincing, here are just some of many reasons you should consider adopting an older / mature or golden oldie dog

1. What You See Is What You Get

Older dogs are open books—from the start, you’ll know important things like their full-grown size, personality and grooming requirements. All this information makes it easier to pick the right dog and forge that instant love connection that will last a lifetime. If you’re not so into surprises, an older dog is for you!

2. Easy to Train

Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hogwash! Older dogs are great at focusing on you—and on the task at hand—because they’re calmer than youngsters. Plus, all those years of experience reading humans can help them quickly figure out how to do what you’re asking through positive reinforcement.

3. Seniors are Super-Loving

The emails we get from pet parents with senior dogs seem to all contain beautiful, heartfelt descriptions of the love these dogs give you—and those of you who adopted dogs already in their golden years told us how devoted and grateful they are. It’s an instant bond that cannot be topped!

4. They’re Not Too Demanding

Grownup dogs don’t require the constant monitoring puppies do or the constant puppy schools, house training, 24/7 watchful eye. Older dogs have matured, mellowed leaving you with more time to do your own thing, yet still include them as part of the family. They’re more settled and less demanding of your every minute..quite happy to snooze in a warm place in the sun or go for a casual trip to the park or long mountain walks.

5. They Settle in Quickly

Older dogs have been around the block and already learned what it takes to get along with others. They’ll be part of the family in no time! Find out though before hand whether they’ve met other animals before- like cats etc or whether they get on with small or more mature kids. The shelter will provide these details. Some dogs have come from previous homes where perhaps they were a single pet or perhaps they were rescued from dire situations. Remember whatever their past, they will need love and patience to adapt to their new home environment and may have specific needs.

6. Fewer Messes

Your floors, shoes and furniture will thank you for adopting a senior pooch! Older dogs are likely to already be housetrained—and even if they’re not, they have the physical and mental abilities to pick it up really fast (unlike puppies). Remember always assume your newly adopted pooch has never had housetraining, so as to get right on schedule & routine and set him up for success. The stress of a new home environment can make them a little less confident, so patience & routine are vital! With their teething years far behind them, seniors also are much less likely to be destructive chewers. Provide your pooch with his own chew toys, like a Kong.

7. You’re providing a home to a dog who deserves a second chance

Older dogs also deserve second chances…no matter their reason for ending up in the shelter ( divorce, relocation, abandonment etc ) they too deserve a second chance at LOVE and happiness. Good karma for you too! By providing an older animal with the care & love they need you’ll also be helping more animals out there who need rescuing.

8. They Enjoy Easy Living

Couch potato, know thyself! Please consider a canine retiree rather than a high-energy young dog who will run you ragged. Not that older dogs don’t require any exercise—they do—but they’re not going to need, or want, to run a marathon every day.

9. Save a Life, Be a Hero

At shelters, older dogs are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized ( kill shelters ). Saving an animal’s life offers an unparalleled emotional return on your investment, and you’ll feel the rewards every day you spend together.

10. They’re CUTE and deserve every ounce of respect & LOVE

How to Potty Train a Dog With Positive Reinforcement

One iron rule of dog training will always serve you well: The most effective way to train your dog is also the most pleasant method for both of you. It’s called Positive Reinforcement. Here’s how to potty train a dog using this method:

Key Concept
The key to the Positive Reinforcement method is the use of praise, affection and rewards to give your dog a strong incentive to behave appropriately. You want your puppy to be eager to do the right thing, because she wants to be rewarded for it. ALWAYS REWARD GOOD / WANTED BEHAVIOR.

For potty training this means praise, affection or rewarding with a treat when your puppy goes where you want, and withholding any reward or praise when the pup has an accident.

An incentive to get rewards and pleasure from doing well is always more powerful than fear of punishment. This principle works just as well on older dogs too.

Dogs as a whole thrive on attention- (whether it be negative or positive) Really what we want is to reinforce all GOOD behaviors – i.e peeing outside on grass.

Applying Positive Reinforcement
When your puppy successfully goes outside, or in the place you’ve designated (such as on a mat / newspaper’ed floor area in kitchen), give her a healthy treat and say “good dog” or some other words of praise. Overact a little, and show real joy over it. (I used to pretend she won the Olympics- yay!!! good girl wooohooo good puppy!!!! – the tail starts to wag, they really excited and pleased with themselves)

If giving a treat is not possible, then remember the importance of affectionate touch. Rub your puppy’s head or give her a good belly rub. Love your puppy up enthusiastically when she does well. My dog is now 3yrs old and still every morning after peeing outside comes bounding up to me for praise!

When the little tyke has an accident, you deliberately withhold affection and praise. IGNORE ALL UNWANTED BEHAVIORS. Ignore and ignore only- you are merely cutting off “attention” thereby not reinforcing the behavior/mistake.

If you catch dog peeing in bedroom / somewhere you don’t want, gently interrupt her (clap hands) pick her up and take her outside- even if she makes one drop on the grass- “yay!!! good girl..woohooo!!!! – by doing this you are rewarding her for peeing on grass and not for peeing in bedroom. You have successfully ignored the unwanted behavior and praised the good behavior.

Remember the Importance of Timing
Both your rewards and your denials must be immediate so that the puppy always associates reward with the good behavior, and denial of the things he or she wants with bad behavior. Dogs have a short term memory for association and therefore punishment after the fact does not work. Punishment cause anxiety, nervousness, reactiveness and has many fall-out alternative behaviors both in the short term & long term.

DO NOT hit your dog with a rolled up newspaper or rub its nose in urine or feces after you discover the waste. These forms of “discipline” are actually Negative Reinforcement. Your puppy cannot associate his mistake with your punishment, because too much time has elapsed between the two. This confuses your puppy and anxiety will make the whole experience of going to the potty unpleasant. Consider the possibility that an anxious dog may be more likely to have accidents.

Be Consistent
You must reward and withhold rewards in the same way each time. Use the same phrases in the same tone of voice in each situation. Don’t be casual or slack off when praising or rewarding, and don’t fail to withhold reward when it’s appropriate.

Useful Tips
Puppies up until the age of 6months cannot control their bladders (like babies) and therefore you need a routine. Take them out first thing in the morning to pee, after meals, before bedtime – a solid routine must be followed. Look for signals from puppy that they want to pee- circling an area, sniffing, looking uncomfortable.

Dogs think with their noses – they select spots where they smell dog waste for going to the potty. Therefore always take puppy to the same place to pee in the garden.

Avoid using ammonia as a cleaner in your house, since dog urine smells of ammonia. Use a cleaner specially designed to eliminate odour when you clean up after your dog has an accident. You can find these products in any good pet store. Always clean up messes without puppy seeing you do it- you do not want to add attention to the unwanted behaviors.

A happy pup is a happy adult dog

Dogs adopted from a dog rescue or animal shelter make the BEST pets. No matter the reason they landed in the shelter, with a little time, PATIENCE, and training, shelter dogs can become happy, well-adjusted FAMILY members.

The following are some tips for training a shelter dog

Expect a Period of Adjustment

When you adopt a puppy or dog from a shelter, he comes with a history, sometimes not known even to the rescuer or to the shelter. Keep in mind that the stress of this, along with whatever the dog has experienced in his past, can make him less than confident in new surroundings. Plan on giving him some time to adjust to his new home and family. Dogs can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to get used to living in a new place. Be PATIENT!

Assume Your New Dog Has Never Had Training

Treat your shelter dog the same way you would a new puppy coming into your house. Assume he has never had any training. Even if he has had obedience training in the past, he may need a refresher after all he’s been through. Your best bet is to expect that he knows nothing. This way you’ll be pleasantly surprised if the dog already knows some basic commands or is already housebroken, but you won’t be setting him up for failure with expectations that are too high.

Get on a Schedule

Dogs like having a routine. A dog who has spent the last few weeks or more in a shelter or rescue may have been stressed out in part because his life had become so unpredictable. By establishing a routine for feeding, walking, and playtime, you can begin providing some stability for your dog. In most cases, this will help with his adjustment to his new home.

Enroll in Obedience Class

First and foremost- make sure the training class you consider for your rescue focuses on POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT techniques. Positive reinforcement is reward based training scientifically proven research shows that dogs who are trained with this method lead well-adjusted lives, learn better & quicker, the wanted behaviours are “better established” and you end up with a happier dog. Do some research before enrolling in just any training school- punishment ( like spray bottles, choke chains, shouting, hitting, shaking things in your dogs face are all part of negative reinforcement training- the effects of which can lead to often permanent damage, fall-out behaviours and even latent aggression & recurring unwanted behaviour).

Even though it may take a little while for your shelter dog to get used to his new home, that doesn’t mean you should put off starting an obedience program. DO NOT MOLLY-CODDLE your pooch in the first few days- get straight into a routine. Dogs thrive on a happy, predictable daily routine. On the contrary, regular training sessions can help get him into a routine.

Starting a training program can also help you to establish boundaries for your dog right from the beginning. It can be tempting to coddle him for the first week out of empathy, but it is best to set rules asap! If you allow your dog to engage in certain behaviors when you first bring him home, such as eliminating on the carpet, or chewing on table legs, it will be much harder to train him to stop doing those things later. Starting an obedience class sets him up for good behavior, and makes it easier for him to become a happy and healthy member of your family!

Housetraining Accidents

Even if your dog has been housetrained before, don’t be shocked if he suddenly “forgets” his training. Remember everything is exciting, yet stressful for your new pooch so show him where he needs to eliminate. Remember, that a habit, once formed, is very hard to break. You’ll probably need to work on remedial housetraining for a while after you bring your dog home- set exact times ie morning, after meals, just before bed- a ROUTINE.

Patience is vital in helping your new found companion adjust to his new “forever” home environment.

It is a known fact that rescue dogs love ten fold in return…an eternal gratefulness at being rescued … we just need to show them the steps to allow them time to adjust to their new home..and the LOVE they give in return is priceless..don’t you agree?!