How To Take Great Fall Photos With Your Pets

No matter the species, we can all agree that our pets are family. We raise them, we adore them, and we want to hold onto the timeless memories that we've shared with them. Luckily, we live in an age where every phone has a camera attached to it, so you don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a professional photographer. 

However, you can get the same eye-catching pics by applying these simple, effective methods.

Polly Want a Cracker?

Dogs aren't the only animals that are motivated by food. Cats, birds, horses, and just about any rodent can be persuaded through the prospect of a tasty snack. Don't waste time trying to capture 0.003 seconds of your pet listening to the screech of some nearby katydid; the best you'll get are a few questionable, blurry photos once they become distracted again.

Instead, capture their attention by holding their favorite treat or toy up to where you want them to focus. For example, if you want your dog to look directly at the camera, use your other hand to hold the morsel just above the shutter. Once you've got the shot, give them the treat!

Pro Tip: Cut the flash. It’s usually counterproductive and frightens most animals.

It’s All About the Angles, Honey

Don't let the Instafluencers trick you into thinking that it’s necessary to travel to exotic lands, or even outside of your neighborhood to find a fantastic backdrop for your pet. You can take something as simple as an old brick house and make it beautiful with a few props. Using the wall as your canvas, add some "antique-like" items to the foreground. This could be a pair of boots, an old cowboy hat, even a small wooden chair. Placed in between the wall and the props, your pet becomes the focal point. 

Move items around as needed, and don't be afraid to get eye-level with your animal. Both owners and photographers tend to lean on shots from above, but experimenting with juxtaposition will give your photos a more unique look.

Pro Tip: Too many additional elements can turn an otherwise beautiful photo into a cluttered mess. Keep it simple.

Keep it Natural

There's no need to try to force your pet to recreate something you saw another owner do on social media. Allow your dog to sniff as they normally would. Throw a toy or have them perform a trick for you while someone else takes the photo. 

The best pictures are the ones that make us smile. Sure, the artificial situations and setups we see on social media are certainly cute, but they won't provoke the same kind of emotions or memories that a walk in the park or a swim in the lake would. Keep your camera on guard, and be ready to snap a pic when your dog looks up at the sky and smiles.

Pro Tip: If you can't find an extra person and the timer on your camera is too short, you can also use your phone to record a video. Then, screenshot the stills you like and have them edited!

National Dog Day

Your dog has been there for you through the best of times, and the worst of times. They've given you loyalty and unconditional love since the moment you walked into their life. Don't you think they deserve a special day to celebrate all the amazing memories you've created together?

Well, it just so happens that you can make one more, because August 26th is National Dog Day! Here are some fun ways to honor your furry best friend on this wonderful occasion.

Take Your Pup Shopping

Everyone likes surprise gifts, but who wouldn't love a surprise shopping spree? Hit up your local pet shop or pet store and let your dog browse the toy aisle. Allow them to take a good long gander and sniff the objects that interest them. If your pup gives you mixed signals, just grab the first couple of items that make their nose wiggle the most.

Don't forget to pick up a few yummy snacks along the way!

Get a Puppuccino

You probably love your regular Starbucks coffee, and you know that your dog loves their car rides. While you're in the drive-thru, add a delicious puppuccino to your order. It’s just a bit of whipped cream in a small dixie cup, but it’s free and your pal will think they're getting an extra-special treat.

Have a Date Night

Between working to take care of bills and making time to take care of our own needs, it can be difficult to live in the moment. Since today is all about showing appreciation for your best bud, set up some one-on-one time. Head out to a dog-friendly bar or social setting where you can show everyone how cool your pup is and let them meet and greet.

If you'd rather have a "Just the Two of Us" kind of evening, cook up a tasty feast that you and your pet can enjoy. Canines can actually eat quite a bit of the same ingredients we use in our meals. Steak, carrots, celery, potatoes, peas, green beans, and broth all fine to serve. While you're hanging out, be present! Take a few pics for your Snap and IG, then put the phone away and get back to your dinner date.

Give Your Pet a Spa Treatment

Anyone who's been to a spa, or seen a spa on TV, knows that it’s all about getting pampered. After a day of facials, foot massages, back rubs, and aromatherapy, you walk out feeling like a whole new person. Recreate this relaxing environment for your dog! 

Set up some soft music, warm towels, and put some home-made treats in the oven for "aromatherapy" purposes. While they're baking, take the time to massage your pup's legs and paws. For the canines who don't particularly like people touching their feet, move on up to the head, neck, and shoulders. 

It won't take long for your little buddy to doze off into dreamland. Once they wake up, Fido (or Fida) will be ready for their Dog Day snacks.

Cat Sounds and What They Mean

As adorable and bubbly as they are at times, our feline companions are still highly intelligent, athletic, hunting machines. In their transition from feral to domesticated, the roar of a lion has dwindled down to a meow. However, that tiny meow serves a purpose. 

Since our cats have sort of gotten used to life indoors, they've also figured out how to use their voice as a means of letting us know what they're thinking, how they're feeling, and what their needs are. 

Purring

We all know how much our kitties love to be stroked and pet by the gentle humming sound that it produces. Happiness and comfort aren't the only reasons that cats purr, though. While scientists are still testing this theory, it is believed that felines emit a low-frequency pitch of 25 to 150 Hertz that discourages osteoporosis.

This could be why cats are able to sleep for 17+ hours a day without losing strength or bone density. Perhaps, it is an evolutionary response to a more sedentary lifestyle. Cat owners may benefit from the sound of purr as well; statistically, they're less likely to suffer from a stroke!

Chirping & Chattering

You've probably seen your kitty click or chatter at birds, squirrels, and other small prey. They might even make a chirping sound toward you every now and again. So, what does it mean? Currently, the most accepted theory is that it could just be their internal predatory hunting instincts kicking in. 

When hunting, felines use a grinding motion to sever the spinal cord of the animal they've caught. The prey is dispatched quickly, and the cat can eat without a struggle. Some owners notice that the chattering is accompanied by flicking of the tail or repositioning of the ears.

However, mother cats use clicking as a means of getting the attention of their kittens while on the move. If your cat appears to be chattering toward you, they may just be hungry or wanting to play. 

Yowling vs. Growling

For the most part, growling is a pretty universal sound that we as humans recognize as "stay away." Cats growl too, and when they do, it’s best not to disturb them. That said, if your kitty appears to be more agitated or grumpy than usual, it could be a signal that they're in pain or not feeling very well.

Yowling is a bit different and sounds more like a distress call. Think of it as a long, drawn-out, higher-pitched growl. It’s usually not a good sign, especially when coming from a cat that's typically on the quiet side. Yowls are often a representation of pain, injury, confrontation, or a call for help when felines find themselves stuck in tight places.

Now, keep in mind that it’s not always an indicator of trouble. Siamese cats in particular are extremely vocal about what they want, and they're not shy about yowling to the top of their lungs to get it! Caterwauling is also used to find potential mates in the area.

Your Kitty is Special

Sure, the sounds that our feline companions make have somewhat of a universal meaning. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't have a unique set of meows and yowls that indicate something other than what's listed here. The only way to know for sure is to spend some time with your cat and observe their "talkative" ways. Who knows, you might be meowing back soon enough!

Keeping Your Puppy Happy & Well Adjusted Outdoors

One of the great joys of raising a puppy is being granted the opportunity to guide their journey through life. Since a good chunk of that time will be spent outdoors, it’s your job to ensure that they get familiarized with their surroundings before they reach their adult years.

Once you've got a full-grown dog on your hands, you'll want to take them to the beach, the park, and to public places without a struggle. Here are some things you can do right now to help ease your little pup into this big, crazy world.

Start Socializing Early

The first few months of social integration are pivotal. It’s not impossible to teach an old dog new tricks, but it is much easier to do while their life experiences are still fresh. From eight weeks of age and beyond, expose your pup to new people, dogs, cats, and children. 

They may be a bit apprehensive at first, but encourage your puppy to welcome sniffs from other animals and strokes from other humans. Allow new people to gently handle, pick up, and touch your pet. Some puppies adore attention, they're happy and relaxed, gladly returning the affection. Others might take a little more time to adjust.

As you're observing, correct unwanted behaviors such as nipping or excessive barking. An adult dog that plays nicely, respects boundaries, is non-reactive, and well-balanced is the end goal.

How Much is Too Much

Those of us who have been roaming the planet for a few years have acclimated to the constant stimulation that we live with. However, we all need a break sometimes, and that includes your puppy. Ease into unfamiliar situations starting with a lower intensity and slowly take it up a few notches.

If the sound of a garbage truck or a busy road sends your pup into Fight or Flight mode, it’s probably best to stick to neighborhoods with less traffic on walks. If they feel uncertain or appear anxious around new canines, schedule a play-date instead of heading straight to the dog park.

Allow your pup to move at his or her own pace; once they dip their toes, they'll see that the water is just fine!

Master the "Come" Command

Much like a small child, you are responsible for your dog, their behavior, and the consequences of that behavior. If they were to run up to someone today, the person might say "aw, what a cute puppy!" 

However, that response could turn into "uh-oh…that's a big dog coming my way" in just a few short months. 

Teaching your pup to sit, stay, and come will prevent years of frustration going forward. Even if they're friendly, greeting another dog that is anxious or territorial can rapidly ignite an altercation. Should you plan on taking your pup to off-leash parks, keep in mind that most policies require pets to stay within a certain range of their owner.

You know your furkid best, so it’s up to you to determine whether or not a situation is appropriate for them. Breeds with a natural inclination for chasing prey will likely have difficulty on loose-leash hikes where rodents are roaming free. On the other hand, they might fare well chasing a ball or a frisbee in a fenced-off area. Either way, it’s never too soon to start command training!

9 Garden Plants to Keep Away From Your Cat

Not all things are edible! Here are plants to make sure your cat stays away from indoors and out.

 Our cats seem to love to rub up against houseplants and those that grow in our gardens. They even chew the leaves of many of them. But did you know that some of the plants you may have around the house may be toxic to your cat?

Lilies. Among favorite plants are members of the Lilium and the Hemerocallis families. The primary concern is nephrotoxicity (toxicity in the kidneys). Other lily plants can cause cardiotoxicity (toxicity in the heart) or irritation to the mouth. All parts of the plant are toxic and can cause severe toxicosis and acute kidney injury (AKI). Even just the pollen can cause AKI.

Sago Palm. The ancient sago palm has been around since the dinosaurs and makes a potted plant. But every part of the plant is poisonous. The seeds are the most toxic and eating just one or two seeds can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and liver failure. As beautiful as these plants are, they have no place in a home where a cat lives.

Tulip and Narcissus Bulbs. People love to see tulips pop up in the spring and to send bouquets as gifts. Before you bring one home or plant those bulbs in the fall, consider the problems they can cause if your cat nibbles, especially on the bulbs: intense gastrointestinal irritation, loss of appetite, drooling, central nervous system depression, convulsions, and heart abnormalities.

Azalea/Rhododendron. Substances called grayantoxins in these plants produce vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and depression of the central nervous system. Azalea toxicity can even lead to coma and death.

Oleander. In the Nerium oleander, every part is toxic. Cardiac glycosides cause gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia, or death, in cats and humans alike. Definitely admire the beauty of the oleander from afar and keep it away from your house and garden.

Cyclamen. The beautiful leaves and blooms of the cyclamen make it a favorite houseplant, but Cyclamen species contain cyclamine, which is toxic especially at the root. Intense vomiting is typical of the significant gastrointestinal irritation it causes, and fatalities have been reported.

Amaryllis. Another plant from a bulb is the amaryllis, popular around Easter. One of the two varieties is called belladonna, which should send shivers up your spine as it is toxic even to touch. Keep this one far away from your cat!

Autumn Crocus. This autumn-blooming plant is not a true crocus, but a very popular houseplant that when ingested can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure.  Don't be fooled because you saw your cat eat the plant and nothing happened. The effects can be delayed and deadly. Best practice? Don't have one in your house.

Chrysanthemum. This highly popular flowering plant contains pyrethrins. If your cat eats these lovely blooms, gastrointestinal upset, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea may follow. Ingestion of enough of any part of the plant can cause depression and loss of coordination.

If you are in doubt about a plant in your house or garden, do your research. Anytime your cat eats any part of any plant, consider it toxic until you know otherwise. Call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center, to find out if your plant is toxic to your cat.