Pet Care Tips: 3 ideas to train your chinchilla

by Rekha Nair

Furry fluff and cute looks aside, the small chinchilla is intelligent enough to understand verbal commands and even be toilet-trained! Read on to find out how you can equip your chinchilla with these 3 basic skills!

1) Name and short-phrase recognition
Chinchillas are creatures of habit by nature. Therefore, by repeatedly calling them by their names, you're training your chinchilla to identify that name as his own after some time. You can take it a notch higher by repeating a phrase and watch as your pet responds to it. You might ask how this is possible. That's because chinchillas are observant of our habits and are intelligent enough to anticipate what you're trying to communicate.

2) Litter-box training
How? By placing a box in the area where they usually like to pee. If that doesn't work, you can place some of their soiled, urine-soaked litter near the litter box so that their scent would be strongest there. This encourages them to soil in the litter box.

3) 'Come' command
Getting your chinchilla to "come" requires the chinchilla to hop forward towards you. Use both a hand (visual) and word cue (the word 'come') when training. Practise this several times a day (they're creatures of habit, remember?). Also keep in mind to break your treat into small pieces so that they don't end up ingesting too many treats by the end of your training. As with every training session, remember to end it on a positive note! That will encourage your pet to look forward to the next training session.

As you train your Chinchilla, remember to be patient and loving towards them. Give them time to learn what you want them to and you'll have a chinchilla that not only you love, but also one that loves you back!

3) 'Come' command
Getting your chinchilla to "come" requires the chinchilla to hop forward towards you. Use both a hand (visual) and word cue (the word 'come') when training. Practise this several times a day (they're creatures of habit, remember?). Also keep in mind to break your treat into small pieces so that they don't end up ingesting too many treats by the end of your training. As with every training session, remember to end it on a positive note! That will encourage your pet to look forward to the next training session.

Resources: Chin Care, Small Animal Channel

Images: Animal Everyday, Tiffany's Chinchillas

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Meet Pet Central’s new writer, Rekha Nair from Ngee Ann Poly!

Hey readers!

My name is Rekha, and I am a student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic. I am currently doing my final year project as part of my Diploma in Child Psychology and Early Education's writing and publishing track.

I will be contributing to some of the weekly blog features like Beat the Monday Blues, Pet Care Tips and Pet Adoption Friday. Apart from these you can get to see more animal-themed book and movie reviews from me under the Good Reads and Couch Pawtato features which are coming up real soon.

Like many of you, I too am an avid pet enthusiast! Though I have only taken care of both dogs and hamsters, most of my friends own other pets like cats, birds and fishes too.

I hope you guys enjoy reading all the interesting articles posted up on this site as I too look forward to creating unique stories for you all! Cheers (:

Couch Pawtato!: Marmaduke


Marmaduke is a 2010 American live action film adaptation of Brad Anderson's comic strip of the same name. The film centers on a rural Kansas family and their pets-a Great Dane named Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson) and a Balinese cat named Carlos (voiced by George Lopez)-as the family relocates to California.

The film revolves around Marmaduke who obliviously wreaks havoc in the lives of his owners and is always found to be the source of the family's worries. As the family moves along to Cali, we see how Marmaduke learns what it truly means to be a top dog- and that the definition is far from what he thought it would be.

My thoughts:
Marmaduke is definitely a family movie worth watching as it has lots of fun, action and a genuinely happy ending. Besides being just a movie about a dog, it also teaches pet owners the importance of listening to the needs of your dog and spending time together with it.

You definitely wouldn't want to miss this movie and have a good laugh along the way as you find out just how crazy yet amazing having a dog can be. And as the saying goes- a dog will always be a man's best friend!

Images from: The Train Line, Movie, Actually

Just caught a really good pet-related movie, tell us on our "A Pet is For Life" Facebook group or mention us on Twitter and we might just feature it in our next movie review!

RPO Roadshow 2013 @ Changi City Point on 9 & 10 November (Updated 8 November)

Join us at AVA's "Animal & Our Community" Responsible Pet Ownership Roadshow at Changi City Point Mall on November 9 and 10!

Conveniently located next to Expo MRT Station, the two-day event will feature animals for adoption put up by Animal Welfare Groups, lots of highlights including on-the-spot grooming lessons, pet training tips and other informative talks. There will also be fun activities galore for the young at the children's playground.

Do take note:
The mall management will not allow pets in the shopping centre

Relive the moments from last year's RPO Roadshow @ Singapore Expo!

Read our Pet Care Tips Special article!

What's in store for you? Check out Activities Galore!

Stick around as we bring you more updates as we get closer to the event!

See you there!

Keep updated with the latest news and information by joining us at our A Pet is for Life Facebook group and follow us on Twitter!

Beat the Monday Blues: Sweet Dreams

by Rekha Nair

Ever wondered what exactly your cats were dreaming of when they are sound asleep? Well, this video might give you just the clue!

A kitty's world, just like ours, is made up of sweet dreams and fanciful explorations. Have yourself a happy kitty by showering them with lots of love, play and affection.

Be part of the community. Join us at A Pet is For Life and follow us on Twitter.

New Beginnings: Imperfection

Michael Kwok and his wife are not your usual pet owners; they intentionally adopted a half-blinded rabbit and took in a dog despite its matted and dirty fur. Read all about Michael's tale in this week's "New Beginnings".

My wife and I try to take in animals that will most likely be "left behind" because of certain defects or conditions that may cause the animal to be deemed as "imperfect".

For instance, Tiffany, our very first rabbit that we adopted from SPCA in 1999, was not only blind in one eye, she also had a skin condition.

While there were other rabbits that were put up for adoption, we decided on Tiffany because we felt that the other rabbits were healthy and would be more readily adopted, whereas Tiffany would most likely be left without a home. Under our care, Tiffany thrived and lived a long and comfortable life with us until she passed away due to old age.

Some of the animals we have adopted have also suffered neglect under their previous owners. Snowy, our Maltese, was of these cases.

In 1999, we adopted Snowy, a female Maltese puppy who was put up for sale over the internet. Her owner no longer wanted her and she had been neglected most of the time. She was unkempt, her fur was matted and face was brown with tear stains. We paid the owner $200 and Snowy became part of our expanding family of animals.

Lucky for us, Snowy took to her new home well and she even got along with Tiffany. (However, Snowy frequently snuck into Tiffany's cage when Tiffany was out hopping around to the house so that she could snack on Tiffany's carrot slices!) Snowy has been with us since then and we recently celebrated her 15th birthday.

Besides dogs and rabbits, we also rescued a pair of kittens who had been left at our doorstep. The kittens were only a couple of weeks old and were malnourished and weak. We named them Goldie and Bear and slowly nursed them back to health. Within two weeks or so, they were busy clambering around, exploring every nook and cranny of our house. They had also started to take a liking to the food that we left unattended on our dining table! As they were fully nursed back to health, it was time for us to start finding suitable homes for them.

Since they were found together, we decided that they should be adopted as a pair. There were several cat lovers who asked about them and we interviewed them to determine if they were suitable owners for Goldie and Bear. A new home was eventually found for them and although we had by then grown attached to the two kittens, we were happy that we could give them a fresh start in life.

Very often, people are hesitant to adopt rescued pets because they perceive these animals as defective or second-hand. While some of these animals may have accompanying health conditions as a result of abuse or neglect, with proper care and attention, they are just as capable in providing us with affection and companionship as those that are bought from pet stores.

Pre-Event Highlight: Bishan East Pets & U Family Carnival 2013

What: Bishan East Pets & U Family Carnival 2013
Where: Bishan Community Club
When:
Saturday, 26 October 2013 (3pm - 9.30pm) and Sunday, 27 October 2013 (9am - 5pm)
Admission: $3 (for both days)

Join us this weekend for two days of fun as we celebrate our furry friends at Bishan East Pets & U Family Carnival 2013! Pop by our booth and test your memory skills in our Mix and Match and Jigsaw Puzzle games. Get it right and our friendly officers will reward you with exciting goodies!

Programme highlights:
- Pets for adoption
- Colouring and drawing contest for children
- Talent pet performances

and many more!

Click on the poster for more details!

See you there!

For all the latest news and updates, join us at our A Pet is For Life Facebook group and follow us on Twitter.

Pet Adoption Friday: Bobbie and Girl Girl from Save Our Street Dogs

Bobbie

Name: Bobbie
Age: 4 months
Gender: Female
Colour: Black and White
Sterilised: No
Good with other dogs: Yes
HDB-Approved: No

"Bobbie is one of the three puppies we rescued and tried to rehome some months back. Sadly, her brother passed away and her sister is now undergoing rehab.

Under the loving care of her foster parents, Bobbie has transformed into a playful, happy 4-month-old girl who craves for attention like all young puppies do. She enjoys going for walks and meeting the other dogs at the dog run. She"s since learnt to sit, stay and paw.

Playful as she is, she is quite an introvert and needs time to warm up, spend time with you, smell and lick you before she lets you love her back.

Bobbie is looking for a family who"s had experience with dogs and a handler with a firm hand. But we have no doubt, that she will also bring you much joy, satisfaction, affection and love once you step into her special Bobbie world."

Girl Girl

Name: Girl Girl
Age: 3 Years
Gender: Female
Colour: Brown
Sterilised: Yes
Good with humans: Yes
HDB-approved: No

"Girl Girl's life started out like any other factory dogs - the cold, harsh conditions of the factory was the only home she knew and kindness only came in the form of a single compassionate soul working at the factory. When the new owners shifted in, Girl Girl was chased out of the factory when she had just given birth to a litter of 9 pups. She eventually made her way back to her newborn litter, only to find 3 girls and 2 boys left. The rest did not make it.

Only three years old, Girl Girl has many more good years ahead of her and twice as much love to share. She is still slightly timid due to her past encounter of living with dominant dogs in the factory. However, she is one sweet and mild-tempered dog despite all that she has been through.

Take a chance on a street dog. Show her that there's a kind and gentle world out there and whatever she's gone through previously is not going to ever happen again."

If you are keen to bring Bobbie or Girl Girl home, please email SOSD at rehoming@saveourstreetdogs.com.

Be part of the community and join us at A Pet is For Life and follow us on Twitter.

Pet Care Tips: Play with your gerbils

Social, interactive and inquisitive by nature, the tiny gerbil is a fantastic pet for the small critter enthusiast.

This little dynamo requires sufficient stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Playtime is extremely important and should be part of the routine and not a special treat. Each playtime should last at least 15 minutes, more if your gerbil lives alone.

How you play with your pet gerbil is only limited by your own imagination. Fill a big cardboard box with many smaller boxes? Sure. Or how about a DIY maze? Fantastic!

How you play with your pet gerbil is only limited by your own imagination. Fill a big cardboard box with many smaller boxes? Sure. Or how about a DIY maze? Fantastic!

May you have a gerbil good time!

Resources: Small Animal Channel

Images: Supreme Pet Foods US, Pet Health Info, Science Daily

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Beat the Monday Blues: Mice oh Mice

Curious and inquisitive, mice are known to be great escape artists. Thus, it is very important to give them a secured housing. Learn more in the video below.

To always ensure our pets grow well and healthy, it is important that their needs are taken good care of. These include food, housing and even careful handling so as to avoid injuries.

Check out our entire library. Be part of the community. Join us at A Pet is For Life and follow us on Twitter.

Pet Adoption Friday: Benji is still waiting for his forever home!

Gentle Benji is still waiting for the special owner who's looking to adopt a big and friendly boy like him. He's a really young and healthy, dashing 1 year old Singapore Special. He will make a fantastic friend for a lifetime!

Name: Benji
Gender: Male
Breed: Local-crossed
Age: 1 year old
HDB Approved: Not HDB-approved
Microchipped: Yes
Sterilized: Yes

From an orphaned tiny street pup found at when he was just two months old, Benji has since blossomed from a timid baby to a confident boy! Benji is able to walk well on a leash, toilet-trained and he's good with cats too!

For more information, please send an SMS to Ms Madeline Chia at 9270 8612.

Do also check out Noah's Ark CARES blog and their official Facebook page.

Join us at our "A Pet is For Life" Facebook group and follow us on Twitter.

Pet Care Tips: How to carry your guinea pig safely

I watch and wait to see if you're near enough...
Your hands come in to scoop - Dash!
Today I'll be too fast for you!

Guinea pigs are frightfully nervous creatures by nature. Whether you've had yours for some time now or you are a new cavy owner, you would know exactly what we're talking about. Though they seem calm and collected as they laze around in their cages, it takes a while for new pet guinea pigs to get used to the human touch.

Does this mean that carrying your new guinea pig will become a next-to-impossible task? Fret not! We have some tips for you and your furry pal! Have yourself seated near your "cavy" as you begin your 'task'. Place a cushion on your lap. This is to ensure that even if your guinea pig manages to squirm out of your hands, even if it should fall, it will be a soft landing.

Before scooping your cavy up, you can gently talk to and stroke him, so that he will stay calm.

Next, place one hand under the guinea pig's chest and the other hand near his back to support his hindquarters and bring him close to your chest. Keep a firm but gentle grip so as to not injure his fragile limbs.

Also, it would be good to offer him his favourite treat to keep this a pleasant affair.

With enough practice and bonding time spent with your guinea pig, we're sure that you'll have him up in your arms in no time!

Resources: Jackie's guinea piggies

Images: Vet West, WikiHow, Paw Nation,

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Beat the Monday Blues: Dora reunites with family after seven months

Losing a pet is every pet owner's nightmare. There are chances that the owner and the pet may never see each other again. But with the help of a little microchip, a dog gets reunited with its family. Sit back and watch today's Beat the Monday Blues video and see how Dora the dog was reunited with its owner after waiting at the shelter for seven months.

Be sure to have some tissue ready as you may shed a tear or two.

Dogs are required to be on a leash when it is brought out in public. This helps to prevent the dog from running away and causing disturbance to others who may not be comfortable with dogs. Be a considerate pet owner and live harmoniously with the community around you.

For the latest news and information, join us at our A Pet is For Life Facebook group and follow us on Twitter.

[Event info] Dog Adoption Drive @ Torte

Do you have a soft spot for local doggies?

If so, then swing by Exclusively Mongrels' adoption drive this Sunday at 96 Waterloo Street, from 11am to 3pm. There are many lovable pooches up for adoption so be sure to drop by!

Join us at our A Pet is For Life Facebook group and follow us on Twitter.

New Beginnings: Sweet Celeste of Mine

While pet ownership is a positive and beneficial experience, it also comes with responsibilities. Sometimes, that means having to make decisions that are in the best interest of the animal and not yourself.

Today's "New Beginnings", Ms Kim Hapin shares why she chose not to get a dog and how she eventually ended up with Celeste, a rather dog-like kitty, from Animal Lovers League.

In 2009, when I moved to Singapore from Australia, I brought with me my two big dogs - Emily (a Rhodesian Ridgeback Rottweiler cross) and Ziggy (a Boxer English Bulldog cross). Unfortunately in 2011, I lost them both to illnesses. Being so used to having and loving two dogs, finding myself in a situation where I did not have any pets was devastating for me.

By this time, I was living on my own in an apartment. As I was working long hours, getting another dog was not feasible. It would not be fair to leave a dog in a small apartment for long periods of time. However, a cat would be more suitable for my lifestyle, especially an adult cat that sleeps most of the day. I started looking at local shelter websites to see if I could find a cat. The websites were quite limited, so I decided to visit the Animal Lovers League at Pasir Ris.

Gentle Celeste

I must admit I was quite overwhelmed by the number of animals they had in their care. They directed me to one of the cat pens and in I went. A number of cats were very needy and climbed all over me. It was going to be hard to decide which cat I should adopt, as they were all looking for love and attention. But then I noticed a female cat, sitting on the top of a bench, being very affectionate but in a gentle way. I decided she was the one for me.

Celeste was her name. I soon realized that Celeste was both a cat and a dog. She has very dog-like behaviours. She needs to be close to me at all times and would follow me around the house like a little dog. She also watches TV with me on the couch, helps me do work on my laptop and snuggles in bed with me at night.

Following me around

Celeste has some Siamese in her and can be very "talkative". She is constantly "chatting" to me. Sometimes she asks for food, but other times, she just tells me what she has been doing. She also has a kink in her tail (i.e. it looks broken). But this is a genetic mutation which is peculiar to cats on the Malay Peninsula. Charles Darwin wrote about this when he was exploring this part of the world. I tell her that she is my living souvenir of Singapore!

Celeste is very contented in her new home. I think she is so happy to have a home of her own, she has no interest in straying. I have been told that Celeste is seven years old. She was surrendered to the ALL when she was five, and she spent two years at the shelter. I don't know how anyone could give up a cat like Celeste - she is just too sweet!

Pet Adoption Friday: Tobi and Hana from Humane Society Singapore

Tobi

Name: Tobi
Gender: Female
Age: 1 year old
Good with People: Yes
Good with other cats: No

Tobi, also known as the Picasso cat, was rescued from the streets before she was taken to Humane Society Singapore. Now, she's looking for a forever home.

"Don't you stare. Don't you snicker. My painted face is a work of art!" - Tobi

Hana

Name: Hana
Age: 4 years old
Gender: Female
Outdoor-trained: Yes
Sterilised: Yes
Microchipped: Yes
Vaccinated: Yes
Good with people: Yes

A special message from Hana herself:

"Hi! My name is Hana. It means "flower" in Japanese.

I was rescued off the streets by a kind-hearted lady and her daughter. I'm pretty easy-going, attentive and love outings. Sometimes I do get overly excited but I'm undergoing training with a lovely Japanese trainer (that's how I got my name). She has taught me some basic commands and I've even learnt how to weave!"

If you wish to find out more about Tobi or Hana, please email to Ms Judie Chang at judie.chang@humanesocietysingapore.org or call the Humane Society Singapore hotline at 6583 7371/ 6583 7372

More information can be found at Humane Society Singapore's Official Facebook page.

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Pet Care Tips: 3 playtime ideas with Hammie

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Guess what? Our hamster friend would raise two paws up as well if all he does each and every single day is stay cooped up in the cage!

Hamsters love to play and interact with people once they're comfortable with being held. It'll do your hamster a lot of good if you take him out at least once a day for some exercise to stimulate his mind and muscles. As they're more active after sunset, it may be better to arrange playtime after your very own dinner.

Before bringing Hammie out for a cuddle, wash your hands clean with soap! Not only do you not want to pass him any germs but it also helps this little adorable rodent from not mistaking your fingers for food! Hamsters have poor eyesight but an excellent sense of smell.

It's also good to make sure that the room where you're letting Hammie roam is safe and escape-proofed.

Exercise Ball
Besides letting him move from palm to palm, you could also get an exercise ball for Hammie. Keep the session short (no more than 15 minutes) and let him head back to his cage for a rest afterwards.

Playpen
Build your own hamster playpen as an alternative play site for Hammie! You could fix up a pretty one with a thick cardboard box or purchase one from the pet shop; the choice is really yours! Make sure the cardboard is thick enough because hamsters are experts at biting holes in cardboard and escaping! Besides a second play area for your hamster, it can also act as a holding area while you clean Hammie's home. It's dual purpose - how cool is that!

DIY Maze
We found this really cool DIY maze that a hamster aficionado has done for her hamsters. It may have been an idea of yours too but you may be too busy to figure how to get one done for Hammie. Well, we hope sharing this with you helps!

We enjoyed watching this video of another maze done by a different owner. We think you'd like it too.

With such a doting owner and so much fun playing outside the cage, we're sure Hammie will have a good slumber for the day!

Resources: Hamster Club, Hamster Hideout and Small Animal Channel.

Images: Love These Pics, Hamster Trouble, Flickr 1, Flickr 2 and Hamster Bungalow

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[Event Info] 2013 Cat Adoption Drives by Cat Welfare Society (October)

Day, Date: Sunday, 6 October 2013
Venue: The Pet Safari @ VivoCity
Time: 1pm to 6pm

Cat Welfare Society's 2013 Cat Adoption Drive will return to The Pet Safari @ VivoCity this Sunday. Here's your chance to get up close with adorable kitties that are longing for forever homes.

With just three adoption drives left, you wouldn't want to miss it! =^_^=

Potential adopters will be screened for suitability and commitment. Successful adopters will each receive an exclusive starter kit worth $50!

For more information, visit Cat Welfare Society's Facebook page.

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Pet Adoption Friday: Glory and Bliss from House Rabbit Society Singapore

Bliss (left) and Glory (right)

Name: Glory
Sex: Female
Age: Approximately 2.5 years old
Breed: Lop
Colour: Brown
Health Condition: Good
Sterilised: Yes
Litter-trained: Yes

Name: Bliss
Sex: Male
Age: Approximately 2.5 years old
Breed: Lop
Colour: White with shades of brown
Health Condition: Good
Sterilised: Yes
Litter-trained: Yes

Both Bliss and Glory are good and well-behaved bunnies who love having toys around to chew and play with. They do not like to be picked up too much but enjoy being petted on their heads. Bliss is more outgoing than shy and little Glory. Glory has a thick fur which will require regular brushing. The pair will make a great addition for a family who's ready for some fur and fun!

Glory and Bliss will have to be adopted together. If you wish to bring them home, send in your email to info@hrss.net.

For more information, visit www.hrss.net and 'Like' their Facebook page.

Do also join us at our "A Pet is For Life" Facebook group and follow us on Twitter.

Beat the Monday Blues: Out-of-this-world facts about guinea pigs!

For many of us, we can only dream of flying to outer space. But did you know in 1961, there was a guinea pig that accompanied a team of astronauts to outer space? Today, we shall get to know more about a member of the rodent family - the guinea pigs!

Caring for a pet takes a lot of commitment. Always make sure that you are prepared and can look after it for the rest of its life.

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Pet Care Tips: Toys for bunnies – 4 DIY projects you and your rabbit will love!

Long gone are those days when we assumed rabbits are boring and low maintenance animals. Any rabbit lover out there can guarantee you the amount of work required to take care of these lagomorphs. If you've truly spent some time with a rabbit, you'd also know how gregarious they can be! The ultimate showcase of happiness would be the binkies.

Let's continue the joy you've showered Floppy by DIY-ing some fantastic and inexpensive toys for him!

Project 1: Roly-poly Paper Mache Bowl

Tools: toilet paper, balloon, a bowl

Blow up a small balloon and put it on the stand. Wet a bunch of toilet paper and wrap it around the balloon, remembering to leave an opening (it's a bowl!). Create an opening that's bigger you're your rabbit's head so it does not pose a hazard to him. Continue coating the 'bowl' until you've achieved a suitable thickness that you want.

Leave it to dry for two days or blow-dry to quicken the process. Remove the balloon and replace it with lots of yummy hay for Floppy!

Project 2: Veggie Roll
Tools: Toilet rolls, natural fibre strings, scissors

String two to three toilet rolls through the natural fibre strings and stick some of Floppy's favourite vegetables inside. You may hang the veggie roll under a chair so Floppy can reach it. Do not let your bunny play this without your supervision.

Project 3: All wrapped up
Tools: toilet paper roll, natural fibre string

Like wrapping a gift, fold the two parallel sides of the toilet roll so they overlap each other. Insert Floppy's favourite treat/s and close the other end the same way.

Tie a string over the little present and present it to your rabbit!

Project 4: Home in a box
Tools: big cardboard box, marker, cutter

Using a marker, draw out a door and perhaps a window for Floppy's new hide-out. With the cutter, carefully craft out the parts and viola! Please be extra careful when using the cutter.

Now that all the work has been done, it's time to try out the toys! We hope these DIY toys enrich your play time with Floppy!

Resources: Bunny Approved

Images: Bunny Approved, Cutest Paws

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