Month: August 2020

Housebreaking Puppies

Methods used for housebreaking puppies actually rely strongly on a dog’s natural behaviors and instincts! Basic housebreaking methods work due to the fact that dogs instinctively like to keep their sleeping and eating area clean of waste. Dogs also control their bowels and bladders when confined to a small space, which makes crate training extremely effective when done correctly.

The Basics on Housebreaking Puppies

When housebreaking puppies with or without a crate, the goal is for the dog to increase bladder and bowel control, and for you as the owner to understand your dog’s elimination schedule. Putting the dog on a regular feeding schedule will also create a fairly predictable elimination schedule. During the training process, write down the times that puppy eliminates–you’ll start to notice patterns.

Housebreaking puppies with the crate training method can be extremely effective, but you must be able to commit a lot of time to the process in the beginning. You’ll need to let him out of the crate every hour for a chance to eliminate. If the dog doesn’t go potty, return him straight to the crate. When he does eliminate in your presence, shower him with affection and praise! Let puppy play inside the house when you know his bladder and bowels are empty, but remember to take him out each hour.

If you don’t have a crate, you can still effectively housebreak the puppy by creating a den or small living space, such as the bathroom or kitchen. Spend a lot of time here with the puppy so that he realizes this is his living area. Although accidents might happen in the beginning, he should begin to avoid eliminating in his den instinctively. You must take the dog out to a toilet area frequently and offer plenty of praise and affection when he eliminates in the proper place. When your dog consistently eliminates in the proper areas, start introducing him to other parts of the home, one room at a time.

Heros Severus
The Green Severum

A long-time hobby staple, the Severum is a laterally compressed cichlid with many physical similarities to the King of the Hobby, the Discus. We’re dealing with a little more attitude in terms of the Severum (which can be good or bad, you can keep them with other boisterous cichlids), but a lot less water maintenance.


The Green Severum is beautiful fish, which when not stressed possesses a freckled green body covered with seven black bands. With age, all but the last of these bands (the one closest to the tail) will disappear, which is also the appearance taken on by stressed juvenile and adolescent Severum. There is also a Gold Severum commonly available which is very popular and less aggressive than the Green Severum. I can testify to their meekness, I tried one of these out in an all cichlid tank similar to the one in which I keep my 3 ½-inch Green Severum, and it was pestered until its death three weeks later. There just didn’t seem to be much fight in this fish. Just when I thought it had fell into a routine where the attacks had subsided, I woke up one morning and found the fish dead.

I have had better luck with Green Severum. I have two, in separate tanks, that were purchased from the same tank two and a half years ago. A bit of information that may or may not be pertinent, but advice I followed upon buying my Severum, so I’ll swear to it: Pick out fish with red eyes, they seem to be the stronger, more aggressive fish in a school of young Severum. I have two strong, healthy fish, so when the time comes for me to find more Severum, I’ll be looking for the red eyes.

The bigger of my two fish is a 5 ½-inch specimen kept in a 65-gallon tank with a 6-inch Oscar, 6-inch Pike, and three 4-inch Pimelodus pictus catfish. The other fish is only 3 ½-inches long and is kept in a 30-gallon long tank with a 5-inch Pike, a 4 ½-inch Gold Acara, a 6+-inch Whiptail Cat, and a 3 ½ inch Geophagus surinamensis (who may soon need to move to calmer surroundings!). When I purchased the Severum each was under an inch and the size difference was truly negligible, though slightly noticeable. At that time the smaller of the Severum was the more aggressive and it was that little fishes attack’s which led to me splitting the pair. As the larger fish grew he also became much more territorial.

Common Harmful Hamster Treats

Most hamster owners like to give their fuzzy friends an extra little treat once in a while, but many people don’t realize that some common treats could be hazardous to a hamster’s health. Check the following list to ensure that the treats you are feeding your pet are keeping them happy and healthy.

Fruits and Veggies for Hamsters to Avoid:

  • Green part on a tomato – Any of the green leafy parts of a tomato can be poisonous to your pet and may lead to death.
  • Lettuce, Beans, or Potatoes – These veggies tend to give hamsters a bad case of diarrhea, which can quickly lead to other health issues.
  • Onions, Garlic, or Peppers – Veggies like these can cause stomach irritation for your pets.
  • Any Citrus Fruits – Citrus is toxic to hamsters so these fruits (oranges, grapefruits, etc.) should be avoided at all costs.

Try Instead: Carrots, Cabbage, Broccoli, or Celery.


Proteins for Hamsters to Avoid

  • Raw Eggs or Raw Fish – Hamsters are, in fact, omnivores, and they will eat meat. Protien is actually an important part of a hamster’s diet, particularly if it is pregnant or nursing. However, raw meat, especially fish, can lead to unhealthy bacteria and can cause diarrhea in your pet. Raw eggs will have the same effect.
  • Fatty Meats – while they may not immediately cause problems, fatty or salty foods should be avoided because they can lead to obesity or diabetes in hamsters. Just as it would in humans, this will lower the life expectancy of your pet.

Try Instead: Cooked Fish, Cooked Unseasoned Chicken Breast, Boiled egg, Unsalted Peanuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Soft Low-Fat Cheeses, and even Crickets, Grasshoppers, or meal worms from your local pet store.

Sweets for Hamsters to Avoid

  • Any Type of Chocolate or Candy – It’s never a good idea to give your hamster large amounts of sugar. As mentioned earlier, this can cause complications from diabetes.

Try instead – Small amounts of dried fruit without added sugar. Try raisins, cherries, or other assorted berries. Even without added sugar, dried fruit has plenty on its own so don’t overdo it. Also remember, no citrus!

Other Foods for Hamsters to Avoid

  • Hay or Other Potentially Sharp Foods – while a hamster may digest these foods just fine, owners should beware anything that could cut or otherwise cause damage to a hamster’s pouches. As many owners know, most hamsters will try to put anything you give them in those cheeks of theirs so it’s important not to give them access to anything they could hurt themselves with.

Try Instead – No Sugar Added Cereals or Dog Biscuits. Dog Biscuits offer the added benefit of acting as a chew toy, so if your hamster chews on the bars of its cage this might be a good option for you.

Dominant Dog Training

There are many dog obedience training resources that offer tips on leash training, crate training, dominant dog training, and much more. Some dog owners enjoy learning these methods in an obedience class to build a strong foundation before using other resources. Dog training books are another excellent resource to start training, or to continue training after taking a class. You can also find many excellent dog training tips online.

Dog obedience training is the best way to establish a good relationship between you and your new pal. Many people assume that because dogs are domestic animals, they will automatically be great house pets. However, many canine instinctual behaviors can come out in ways that are destructive or dangerous when the dog is not trained or socialized properly.

No matter how old your dog is, it is never too late to begin obedience training. Even if your dog is well behaved now, issues may arise later. Some dogs specifically require dominant dog training, which helps dog owners establish a role as the leader without using intimidation. Many dog obedience resources will teach you how to understand your dog’s needs and body language for effective training.

Dominant Dog Training for the Problem Dog

There are times when a dog proves extremely difficult to train because of a strong tendency toward being an alpha dog. Dominant dog training helps the owner establish a human and dog pack relationship, where the human is the leader of the pack. Although this type of training is important for dogs with very dominant personalities, it is also effective for all breeds and temperaments, except very aggressive breeds.

Birds of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico

The Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO) runs like a spine through Mexico, from Southern Arizona to the South of Mexico. It is found closer to the Pacific coast, but in the northern mountains, in Arizona, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Durango, it is interior, occupying an arid region. Some of the most remarkable birds of North America are found in these mountains of Northern Mexico.

Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico: Birding Habitats

The northern mountains are arid, and their higher elevations are covered with pine-oak forest. Dry forest and shrubs are found in lower elevations, and standard desert (most notably, the Chihuahan to the east, and the Sonoran to the west) surround the range. Canyons are cut into some of the rocky hillsides of the SMO, and around them, diverse flora thrives. Conifers, such as pinyons, pines, and firs, as well as several types of oak are found in the mixed forests that blanket the SMO, providing ideal habitat for hundreds of species of birds, some of which are endemic to the mountains.

Birds of North America’s Sierra Madre Occidental: Birds of Prey and Others

The Golden Eagle is the most majestic species of the Occidental range. It is the largest bird of prey in Northern Mexico (the second largest in the nation, after the Harpy Eagle), often weighing over 10 lbs. Golden Eagles feed primarily on rabbits and hares, squirrels, and other small mammals, but they are opportunistic predators, sometimes snatching lizards, snakes, other birds, and even baby deer.

Other birds of prey in the SMO include Red-tailed Hawks, Common black-Hawks, Harris’s Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels, and Crested Caracaras. Owls, such as Whiskered Screech Owls, Great Horned Owls, Barn Owls, Spotted Owls, and a few types of pygmy-owls are the most prevalent nocturnal predatory birds in the mountains. Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures commonly soar the skies above canyons in the SMO. Ospreys and Kingfishers are found in parts of the Occidental range, where they prey exclusively on fish.

Mexican Doves, Fowl, and Water Birds of the Montane Pine-Oak Forests

Several species of doves, such as Mourning Doves, Inca Doves, White-Winged Doves, and many ground doves are found with abundance. Montezuma Quails, Elegant Quails, Gambel’s Quails, Northern Bobwhites, and Wild Turkeys are some of the notable ground-dwelling birds found throughout the montane pine-oak forests of Northern Mexico. Ducks and even some other waterbirds live around the mountains as well.


Woodpeckers, Common Birds in the Mountains of Northern Mexico

Several types of woodpeckers, many of which are found in corresponding environments in the Western and Southwestern United States, such as Acorn Woodpeckers, Gila Woodpeckers, Ladder-Backed Woodpeckers, Arizona Woodpeckers, and the critically endangered and possibly extinct Imperial Woodpecker (endemic to the Sierra Madre Occidental), are found in the mixed pine-oak forests of Sonora, Chihuahua, and Durango.

Songbirds and Other Birds of North America’s Sierra Madre Occidental

Trogons, such as Eared Quetzals, Elegant Trogons, and Mountain Trogons, are found in the SMO, as are motmots, numerous types of jays, crows and ravens, and songbirds like warblers, chickadees, and several species of titmice. Towhees, thrashers, sparrows, shrikes, flycatchers, wrens, bluebirds, finches, cardinals (Pyrrhuloxia and Northern Cardinals), orioles, tanagers, buntings, and several types of hummingbirds are also found in the SMO. Swifts, swallows and nighthawks are some of the aerial insect feeders, and nightjars thrive in the montane forests. Greater Roadrunners are common in the drier parts of the SMO, where they feed on small reptiles. Exotic birds, like parrots are also found in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Northern Mexico.

Wild and wonderful, the Sierra Madre Occidental of Northern Mexico has some of the most diverse and remarkable birds of North America in its forested parts. It is a great place to visit for birdwatching, hiking, and experiencing nature up close.

Happy Holidays to a Fishkeeper

So the Holidays are upon us and someone you love is a fish nut, be it your husband, your girlfriend, or even your little nephew. You don’t quite understand it, or maybe you do, but this loved one’s passion is fulfilled by underwater life, scaled dioramas of the lakes and seas.


Okay, so this column isn’t directly related to Tropical Fish of South America, but it applies. To my regular readers searching for my latest experiences with catfish or cichlids, I apologize, but will do my best to post a second article towards the end of the month related to our more typical fare. This topic has just been on my mind for a couple weeks now since I’ve gone about composing my own Christmas list. Perhaps it will save someone from making a poor decision and head off the possibility of a titanic Yuletide flop!

Here is the rule, follow this and it covers probably ninety percent of all dilemmas: DO NOT PURCHASE LIVESTOCK AS A GIFT!!! Even if you’ve heard him or her griping over a water change, “My tank lacks color, I really need to pick up an Oscar to set things off,” or “The bottom of my tank is filthy, if I only could find a nice school of cories to add to the mix,” “What I would give for an Asian Arowana-alas it’s well beyond my price range” (Thank goodness!).

You do not know how to care for this gift prior to the giving-if you do know how, and I apologize for assuming you didn’t, you still shouldn’t make a fish into a gift. Now a gift certificate to his or her favorite local pet shop-that’s a great gift!

Okay though, you sneer at my words, I can take care of a stupid fish pal, c’mon. Okay, you go to the pet shop looking for an Oscar. Do you know what size to get? Are you guessing? Do you realize that it will eat up all of those little neon fish in his 20-gallon tank, before outgrowing the tank itself in a couple of months, and that what you overheard was just a pipedream? Oh, it’s a hundred-gallon tank and you distinctly heard that they were looking for a four-inch specimen to grow out. The pet shop has a tank with half a dozen such fish-which one do you buy? Do you know what to look for? Okay, hopefully I’ve convinced you, if not you’re a lost cause anyway, and we can move on to safer purchases.

Dog Doors

Dog doors solve the problem of having to be on duty as a doggie doorman at all hours of the day and night. Styles range from a simple hanging screen with a weighted hem to a motorized, installed door that locks automatically and opens with an electronic “key.” They come in sizes to fit all dogs, and can be installed in any material except tempered glass.


Some Factors to Consider When Choosing Dog Doors

Obviously, the first decisions you’ll need to make are where to place the door and what size is needed. Once those basic questions have been answered, you should consider such factors as how well the door seals against inclement weather, what level of security is needed and noise of operation. And before you can answer that questions, you need to decide between rigid or flexible vinyl flaps.

Dog doors with rigid flaps can be easily locked. Most have a 4-way locking system: in only, out only, open or locked. Doors with flexible flaps, however, will need a separate plate to cover the opening. This is all right when you are going away on vacation, for example, but very inconvenient for daily use. Also, be certain that the frame is attached to the wall or door in such a way that it cannot be removed from the outside.

Electronic dog doors make certain that you will not be visited by any unwanted guests. These doors remain locked at all times, and are opened only by a small electronic key that your dog wears on his collar. This is also helpful when you want one dog to be able to go in and out at will, but another may be elderly or ill and should be kept in. Only the dog with the electronic key will be able to operate the door.

Dog Supplements

So you’ve never heard of dog supplements? Well, here’s a scenario: what if you got up tomorrow morning, showered, and brushed your teeth — but didn’t take a vitamin pill? Wouldn’t you feel like something was missing?

It’s common knowledge that dietary supplements are a good idea for people of all ages. What’s less well known is the fact that a supplement is also good for dogs of all ages. This is because different dogs have different needs, and rarely can all a dog’s requirements be met with even premium dog food alone.


Dog Supplements Meet the Needs of Every Dog

Did you know that your average husky needs more zinc than most other dogs? Little needs like this wouldn’t be met by most dog foods. However, add a nutritional supplement for dogs to your friend’s routine and you’ll be taking care of possible deficiencies in your dog’s diet that you never knew existed.

Taking care of all your dog’s nutritional needs is important, because lacking even one vitamin could leave your dog open to disease. Once you start using dog supplements, you’ll be able to rest assured that you’re doing everything you can for your puppy. After all, he’d do the same for you.