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Deciphering Between Old Wives Tales and Real Pet Training

By NinaCole. | Dog Info

In the eighteen years that I have worked in the pet care industry, some clients never fail to amaze me.

Only recently, while chatting to a new client about her newly adopted cat, she proceeded to inform me how it was imperative that the sitter continued to rub butter into her cat's paws in order that she could find her way home! Trying desperately to stifle a giggle, I respectfully answered that while there is some truth to certain wives' tales, this was certainly not one of them. So let us look at this rationally. 

Firstly, apart from leaving buttery footprints around your home, dunking a cat's paws in a butter carton is hardly conducive to having a happy cat! Indeed, you would probably be better off arming the poor creature with an A to Z, overlooking the fact that he cannot read!  Or perhaps you should try a Cat Nav!  In all seriousness, you should never allow your new or adopted cat outside until they have fully adjusted to their new surroundings.  This can take a few weeks, or until the cat is fully settled in their new home. I would also suggest for their first venture outside, they should do so on an empty stomach and under your supervision.  Should they stray outside of your property, they will then be more likely to return to the sound of a shaken biscuit tin. 

So what of other old wives' tales and do they really work? 

Rubbing a puppy's nose in poo 

Years ago, it was believed that rubbing a puppy's nose in the poo would discourage them from defecating in the house again.  REALLY, is this before or after you smack him with a rolled up newspaper! 

This is an ignorant and draconian method of training that should have ceased years ago.  Sadly, this sort of punishment is still carried out today. So how is the poor pup to make the connection between his punishment and pooing or peeing in the house! 

It is much kinder to teach your poor puppy the house rules via a good and kind training program, rather than frightening the poor pup senseless for a natural and necessary behavior.  Dog training is not about punishing bad behavior, but rewarding good, so please do your homework before bringing a puppy or rescue dog into your home. 


This brings me to the odd superstition of saluting and addressing Magpies

I have lost count of the many Magpies that I have both saluted and asked, ‘How is your wife and children’, which has raised many a giggle when done walking Mrs. Jones' Little Dachshund. As I understand, seeing one single Magpie is thought to bring bad luck and even death, while two is considered to be good luck

Do people still believe that money spiders really do bring wealth, or that arsonists spend their time looking for a ladybird's home to ignite and in all the time that my mouth has been open, contrary to my great grandma, I have yet to catch a fly!. 

So while an apple a day may keep the doctor away (now a well known fact that vegetables and fruits are good for us), please remember that although some wives' tales are harmless and even true, most are outdated and at best, darn right dangerous.

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Nina Cole

My name is Nina Cole and I am the founder of Nina's Nannies for Pets, which I formed in 1998, following my recovery from a brain hemorrhage which occurred five months after my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 

I have always been passionate about animals and their welfare and my childhood was spent caring for a menagerie of pets including rabbits, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, cats and dogs.  

Following my husband's MS diagnoses and my own recovery from brain surgery, I decided to realise my dream of working with animals. 

Pet sitting in the late nineties, was largely unheard of in the UK. but I wanted to offer a more personal service and offer an alternative to kennels and catteries, which allowed pets to stay within the comfort of their own home while their owners were away. 

Following much research, I contacted our local newspaper, who helped with our launch, distributed copious amounts of flyers, visited numerous veterinary establishments, training centers and pet sho

ps and within six months of trading, my husband left University where he was studying to be a microbiologist, in order that we could meet the demand of our ever- increasing workload and our partnership was formed. 

I am now an established author writing for various magazines and often appear in the media regarding both my business and animals in the news.  I am also a regular contributor on BBC radio where I am called upon to comment on animal welfare issues.



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