Pet Lady Article

Catnip/Car Chasing

1/17/05†††††††††††

 

Q:My cat goes bonkers with catnip, but I was wondering if itís actually safe to give him.People always talk about how cats get high on catnip.Am I doing more damage than good getting my cat hooked on kitty drugs?Can he overdose on catnip?

 

A:Donít worry about turning your cat into a niphead.If he enjoys catnip, let him have it.Catnip loses its punch after about 15 minutes of kitty antics.After that timeframe, cats are no longer receptive to the chemical nepetalactone (the ingredient that gives catnip that kick for cats) until around an hour later.Catnip overdosing is practically impossible.Cats will vomit before consuming too much. Some cats do not respond to catnip at all while others go into all sorts of antics to include sniffing, licking, chewing, head shaking, rubbing, rolling, pawing, scratching, and even salivating.Some people worry that it will make their cat aggressive.Cats do sometimes ďplay fightĒ with others while under the influence of catnip, but this is a short-lived behavior and usually not meant as an aggressive act.Of course, if you find your cat acts out in negative ways while digging his catnip, itís time for kitty rehab and abstinence from catnip use!

 

Q:My Border Collie has a real problem with cars passing by when we walk.She pulls and lunges towards the cars all the while barking furiously.Itís gotten so bad that we just donít walk her anymore because we are afraid she will get hurt or worse pull us in front of a car.Is there anything we can do to stop this behavior?

 

A:Chasing is an instinctive behavior for dogs, especially herding breeds like Border Collies.Obedience classes using positive methods will help you teach the dog some control methods to use while walking. You need to redirect the chase behavior, teach control, and condition the dog to accept traffic.First, I would suggest fitting the dog with a head halter in order to have better control over the dog.Do not pull on the head halter until the dog starts to react to an approaching vehicle.Then gently guide the dog away from the oncoming vehicleónever jerk a dog wearing a head halter.Get her interested in a toy (a ball with a rope usually works well with Border Collies) to distract her from the car and ask her to sit.(You may need to build her interest in this toy before you start working around cars.)Get the dog to look at you and the toy, not the car.Reward the dog with the toy once the car has passed.Repeat this numerous times.The goal is to have the sound of an approaching car be the signal for the dog to sit and look at you.Now instead of chasing cars you have a dog who is looking to you for direction. Remember, training doesnít happen overnight, you will need to repeat this process for days, weeks, or possibly even months depending on how intense the behavior is.Consistency is the key! (Center Hill School is happy to fit head halters purchased at the school or elsewhere for free. Just stop by during our regular hours for assistance.)