Back with an update with what’s going on with That Fish Place – That Pet Place. As always, these blogs discuss what’s happening in our retail store and with our web distribution operation over the last month!
IN STORE EVENTS ARE BACK – SORT OF…
Starting in October, we have begun having limited, in-store events again. So far, these have consisted of animal rescue meet and greets only. Over the last few months, we have adjusted our event policies to allow for better cleanliness and virus mitigation when visitors come to our store. We’ve carried over these procedures and expanded them to further allow for safe events for staff and customers alike. We are relieved and excited, albeit cautious, to be able to provide this visibility to rescues again and would encourage you to monitor our events page for what’s coming up. Unfortunately, we are still canceling large-scale events like Centerville Pet Rescue Santa Photos for the season.
OUR STORE IS GETTING A FACE LIFT!
That Fish Place – That Pet Place’s retail store has been here a long time, so it was high time we gave it a facelift! Working with Two Dudes Painting, the front of our store is getting our brand orange and blue added! Check out the new colors on the roof awning as well as the light poles around the store. In addition, we’re getting much needed external facility painting and patching as well. We love the results – what do you think?
A NEW REGISTER
If you’re a regular to our store, you probably noticed that we removed the register with the wall right as you enter our store. Well, it’s back, but on the other side! In an effort to further comply with social distancing guidelines, our team migrated our largest register to the other side of the register area. This allows us to accommodate busy days just as well as before, while still allowing us to keep the store more open and spread out. Win-win!
Please enjoy the next blog in our series to talk about our point of view on various items from the top. If you have any questions, you’d like us to answer in this column, please feel free to submit them in the comments section.
I’ve noticed that there aren’t as many big display tanks in the store – what’s going on?
This is a question we’ve gotten a few times recently – what happened to all the really big display tanks in the store? First, let’s just say that there are more in the works! We’re hoping to roll the cylinder tank – the big one that used to sit by the freezers – back out again soon somewhere in the middle of the store. We also have some thoughts on on an even LARGER one in the 1,000 gallon range coming over the next few months. Why did we get rid of a few of the ones we had? Really it’s a combination of factors from leaky tanks to creating more space to allow for a safer shopper experience during the pandemic. Rest assured though, there are more on the way – making TFP/TPP a fun shopping experience is key to us.
The Small Pet Area Is LARGER! What’s coming next?
Yes! The Small Pet Area expansion has been in the works for some time. As one of our most popular areas, creating more space here made a lot of sense for us. We’re hoping to use the additional space to help create a more easy-to-navigate experience for you – as well as an area where our associates can more closely interact with you if/when you’re considering taking an adorable small pet home with you!
The Plant Room – Whoa What a Makeover!
We’ve received lots of not necessarily-positive feedback from our aquatic area over the years: poor looking stock, low stock, not a ton of variety. Recently, out team set out to improve all of these! In addition to a new shoppable waterfall area that is just plain cool, our staff replaced many of the tanks and their lighting. In addition, we’ve committed to holding more inventory in there. So, even more than before, our plant room is new and improved and ready to serve you!
Thank you all for reading and talk to you at the end of next month!
There are over 42.7 million cat owners out there according to a survey conducted by the America Pet Products Association (APPA). Many of those owners have multi cat households. Now, out of those millions of cats living in homes, more than 10% of them will exhibit litter box issues. That’s a lot of cats.
One of the number one reasons cats are surrendered to animal shelters is because of inappropriate elimination. As many cat owners can agree, accidents in the house are difficult to clean and often these behaviors are frustrating to understand and repair. While we could write pages and pages of information on feline behavior, below you’ll find the four big things to check when troubleshooting your litter box woes.
Rule out a Medical Cause
Cats are masters at masking illnesses and often do not begin to exhibit issues until they have been suffering for some time. If your cat begins to have inconsistencies using the litter box, a trip to your regular veterinarian is in order.
A urinary, bladder or kidney infection can all affect your cat’s ability to “make it” to the litter box in time, as well as causing your cat discomfort. Often these infections can easily be treated, and your cat will resume normal litter box usage.
Has your older cat stopped using the litter box? Sometimes it isn’t an infection but can be discomfort. Possibly your older cat has begun suffering from arthritis and it’s no longer easy for him to climb in and out of the high sided litter box he has used for years.
Litter box Placement
Cats are sensitive animals and do not enjoy having their litterbox placed in high traffic areas. It is important to make sure your litter box is placed somewhere easily accessible to your cat but also in a quiet and low traffic space. If you live in a multi floored house, it is recommended to keep your litter box on whichever floor your cat spends most of their time.
Do you have multiple cats? You should have multiple litter boxes! The rule of thumb is the number of cats + 1. If you have 2 cats, you should have 3 litter boxes. This allows your cats to have options. It is also ideal to have a variety of types of litter boxes if possible. Some cats prefer uncovered litter boxes instead of the covered variety.
Just like us, cats have preferences. Many cats do not like when their cat litter is abruptly changed. Just like with food, if you’re changing your cats’ litter it is recommended to do it over time to limit any sort of avoidance behavior.
Cat litters come in a variety of textures, materials and sizes. It is up to you to see what your cat prefers! Often cat that have been front declawed develop “substrate preferences” likely due to how the litter feels to them. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out Dr. Elsey’s cat litter. Their litters come in a variety of particle sizes AND they even offer a litter that has additional pheromones designed to “attract” your cat.
Last, we must consider that cats are finicky creatures. They are sensitive to changes in their environment and often slight changes can unsettle a kitty. If you’ve ruled out all the above issues, started thinking about your cats living area. Has anything changed? Did you do any serious furniture moves? Is there something new in the house that might be scaring your cat? Did you get a dog? Is there a stray cat visiting the porch? Is there a new person living with you? Your cat might not be happy about it and is showing that by their litter box usage.
Environmental factors can be tough to figure out and even once you’ve figured out the cause sometimes it isn’t always an easy fix. Addressing your cat’s anxiety might be the key here. Considering adding a pheromone diffuser to your cats main living space. Spend more time interacting with your cat but grooming, playing with toys or even going outside (only if this is something your cat is already accustomed to).
Cats are part of our lives and we’ll do everything we can to make sure they’re happy and healthy, but to maintain our sanity, litter box issues should be addressed ASAP to avoid creating a habit. Hopefully one of the tips above can help you out. If not, try visiting the Cat’s International to check out their in depth guide!
I don’t know about you, but my canine children are part of as many of my summer festivities as possible! Picnics, pool parties and cookouts are some of the big ones that come to mind, but in today’s “pandemic life” those are a thing of the past. Even though we cannot gather, it doesn’t mean we can’t find fun and enriching things to do with our canine companions! Check out 5 canine friendly destinations!
1. “The Dog Park”
We only say “the” dog park because there’s a few. Before we mention them, we have to say, dog parks aren’t for everyone and they aren’t for every dog. It’s important that your dog is up to date on vaccinations, spayed or neutered and socially experienced before you consider venturing into one.
Lancaster County is home to two popular dog parks, Beau’s Dream Park at Buchanan Park and Overlook Dog Park. Both places allow for dogs to run and play off leash while also allowing owners to properly socially distance.
2. Outdoor Dining
Many restaurants are offering outdoor seating now. Weather permitting, you may even be able to bring your well-behaved pooch along! Springhouse Brewpub has its very own dog patio! Sit outside, enjoy a snack and drink while meeting other like-minded dog owners. Be sure to check ahead of time before bringing your dog. Due to some city ordinances, dogs are not welcome at every outdoor dining space.
Lancaster is home to MANY parks! Lancaster County Park is the biggest, playing host to hundreds of pet friendly trails in addition to an off-leash section! (be sure to check that you’re in the designated area before setting your pup free). Buchanan Park, Musser Park, Reservoir Park and Long’s Park are just a few options that are open for picnicking and allow for dog friendly walking areas.
4. Walking Trails
In addition to a variety of dog friendly parks, our county is home to several walking trails that are welcoming to our canine companions! The Conestoga Greenway Trail allows you to have a shady and easy going walk along the river. Noel Dorwart Park is a green area allowing you and your dog to visit wetland areas. Finally, Landis Woods Park is a neighborhood park with plenty of green area for a leisurely walk with your dog.
5. Dog Friendly Retailers
Some days it is just too hot to walk your dog. So, what do you do?
Visit a dog-friendly retailer! Always check first to verify that the store is welcoming to your leashed and well-behaved dog. That Fish Place- That Pet Place (shameless plug) is always air conditioned and provides plenty of square footage for your dog to walk around and explore, while doing a little shopping! There are also non-pet store options that allow your pet! Lowes, Home Depot, AC Moore, Michaels and Tractor Supply are just a few.
Overall, finding opportunities to get your pup outside of the house and exploring the county are ways to keep those cabin fever behaviors at bay! While we’re all staying home and staying safe, we can find safe ways to get outside with our dogs!
Please enjoy the next blog in our series to talk about our point of view on various items from the top. If you have any questions, you’d like us to answer in this column, please feel free to submit them in the comments section.
I noticed that you’re not shipping fish from your website right now. Why is this and when are they coming back?
Yes, for much of the last few months, we have not been shipping livestock from our website. For those who are not aware, thatpetplace.com ships aquarium livestock to most of the lower 48 states from our store in Lancaster, PA. Unfortunately, when COVID-19 hit, we could no longer rely on our shipping partners to meet their arrival stipulations, so we decided to suspend shipments. Rather than risk fish, coral, or other livestock reaching your doorstep days after it was supposed to, we opted to pause delivery. This then became coupled with the shortages we, and most businesses, are seeing on livestock and other goods during this time, and we decided to keep shipping closed through the month of June. HOWEVER, at this point, we are hoping to re-open shipping on July 8th, 2020, stay tuned! When we are up and rolling, you can see the details HERE, and check out our selection HERE.
Our Store Has a New Cart Corral – and Boy are We Excited About it!
So, it seems like a minor thing, but we’ve redone the front of the store to contain a new cart corral. Though a minor move, and not as cool as a new display tank or something, this move opens more for us to do. BECAUSE we moved the carts to the corral, we’ve freed up space to:
2. Redo the register area to create more space both for safety and convenience
3. Make the entire store more visible – no big wooden wall – as soon as you enter the front doors. We always thought it was tough to see the fish room WAAYY over there, so we’re hoping this helps! Check back for updates on future posts.
Building YouTube Stars – One Video At a Time!
Over the last month, we’ve worked to develop a few basic, regular video series with a few of our in-store pet experts. One features Gabe from the Fish Room discussing things like his favorite fish, our procedures for acclimating and doing water changes. Another features one of our pet experts, Stacy, going over some of our store pets, housing Pacman frogs, ferret baths, and other interesting topics. We’re hoping to continue these series moving forward and to cover things our visitors would be interested in. If you have any topics, you’d like to see us cover, please don’t hesitate to mention them in the comments! You can check out our YouTube channel HERE.
Thank you all for reading and talk to you at the end of next month!
Going to the doctor is stressful. Putting your ten-pound ball of angry fur with razor-blades for fingernails into a box just a smidge larger than said ball of angry fur sounds, impossible? This is the reality for many cat owners trying to take their cat to their veterinarian for an annual visit, or if you’re not so lucky, a “sick” visit.
Cats, by nature, are creatures of habit. If you think about it, the only time your cat ever sees the outside of the house is for these visits and there’s not regularity to them. This is one of the many reasons going to the vet can be so stressful for them. So, we ask ourselves, what can we do about it?
Carrier Desensitization – Getting your cat used to the carrier
Step one of going to the vet is usually getting the carrier out. How many of you have cats that are gone and in hiding just from the sight of the carrier?
Carrier desensitizing begins by making the carrier a regular part of their lives. Hard plastic carriers are the best option because they come apart easily. You can take the top off your carrier and place a blanket or a cat bed inside of it, ideally use something your cat is accustomed to laying on. Make this “carrier bed” a regular fixture for them.
Once your cat regularly starts napping there, you can add the top. Make sure the door is either absent or tethered so that it cannot accidentally close your cat in.
If you’re lucky, your cat will start using his carrier as a safe sleeping space and then when that dreaded day comes, you can gently close the door and go on your way.
Seems too simple.
Pheromones – Using your cats “language” to help calm them
Simply desensitizing your cat to the carrier may not be enough. Many cats will vocalize and even have accidents during the actual ride in the car. The decrease on their anxiety you can use pheromone sprays. Cats communicate with a variety of pheromones. Specifically, mother cats use “harmony messages” that are appeasing and calming to cats of all ages. There are products such as Feliway and Comfort Zone that mimic these pheromones and can be sprayed into your cat’s carrier or bedding to make the trip easier for them.
Pheromone sprays should be used BEFORE the cat is in the carrier to allow it time to dry, about 10 minutes. The spray should last about 4-5 hours and then should be reapplied if necessary.
The Ride and the Arrival
Working on desensitizing your cat to every aspect of the trip is the key to a stress-free vet visit! Once your cat is accustomed to the carrier you can start taking short car trips. Just a few minutes around the block and home is enough! Doing this regularly can teach your cat that not every carrier ride and trip in the car means poking and prodding. In additional to working on the car ride. Think about your arrival at the vet.
When you arrive at the vet, if you’re able, keep you carrier up high so that your cat is not eye level with any dogs in the waiting room. If you’re lucky, and your veterinarians waiting room allows for it, try to wait separate from any dogs waiting. Having dogs walk up to their carrier and sniff or barking and undo any of the calming steps you’ve taken!
Overall, it’s slow going and patience is key but having a cat that will easily go into a carrier and travel for you will not only make their health visits easier on them, they’ll be easier on your too! Happy cat, happy owner!
Much to our disappointment, dogs do not speak our language and because of this fact our dogs are often misunderstood, leading to behavioral issues, distrust and accidents. The only way to truly comprehend and communicate with our dogs is by understanding and appreciating what their body language is trying to tell us. By learning how to read our dogs, and those we encounter, we are setting ourselves up to be better dog parents, better friends and, let’s be honest, potentially saving a dog from rehoming.
Dogs speak with their bodies and have a complex assortment of conscious and subconscious behaviors to relay how they are feeling and as mechanisms for dealing with stressors. I am not saying you must be a behavior specialist to “understand” dogs but by understanding the basics of canine body language you are taking the rights steps toward a more rewarding relationship with your dog and those your meet!
When dogs are seeking attention from us or from other dogs, they use a variety of behaviors; muzzle/ear licking, jumping up, body curving (aka the wiggles), blinking, exposing teeth “smiling”, lowering their ears and play bowing. As dog owners, many of you probably nodded while reading through these because you’ve seen them a time or two when returning home or if you have a particularly fun toy. These types of behaviors are also used when one dog is trying to appease another dog. Socially experienced, or well socialized dogs, will also use these behaviors to avoid confrontation. Very often we see dogs that do not understand these cues that will take the opportunity to be aggressive.
One of the biggest misconceptions in the dog world is that a wagging tail means a happy dog. Tail wagging signals arousal. With our favorite breed having a shortened tail it can be difficult to determine exactly what your dog may be doing. The position of the tail can also be an indicator; above the spine or erect is associated with assertiveness, confident and even aggression, tail down can mean fear or stress and last a tucked tail shows a high level of anxiety. Lastly, studies have shown that the speed and direction of the wag can also tell us something! A tail wag, mostly to the right is seen when a dog is happy, like when it sees its owner and a tail wag mostly toward the left is seen with negative stimulus. This, of course, is difficult for the untrained eye to see.
When dogs are stressed or nervous there are many different behaviors that dogs use to show that they feel threatened or to calm themselves. These are the signs that are often overlooked that can lead to escalated or unwanted actions from our canine companions. To the inexperienced owner these actions seem normal, but they may not be.
Yawning. While dogs, like us, yawn when they are tired, they are much more likely to yawn when they are upset or stressed.
Lick lipping. Lick lipping does not always mean your pup is hungry, it is also an indicator of nervousness.
Brief of complete body freezing. A freeze is a dog’s way of avoiding until they can decide if they should flee or fight.
Panting, drooling or curved tongue indicate stress. The curve of the tongue is caused from tension.
“Whale eye” is seen when a dog turns his head away and you see the white of their eyes. They do this to turn away from what they’re afraid of, or what is causing discomfort.
Dogs are amazingly tolerant and often will do all these behaviors without moving on to a more negative reaction but in our rescue lives we often see dogs that simply are not as tolerant. This is one of the many reason giving your dog ample time to settle into their new home for several weeks or months is encouraged. The time allows you to learn about your pups’ special quirks are and how these behaviors translate into your dog’s language. I hope that by educating and teaching as many people as we can how to “read” their dog we can avoid scary situations that change how we look at our beloved pets!
Welcome to That Pet Blog! As we work to help relaunch this blog – we wanted to start injecting more posts directly related to some of the things going on in our Lancaster, Pa retail store – both behind the scenes and in our day to day. We hope these posts help people who are interested in our business glean more insight into why we operate the way we do. Please feel free to ask any questions and we’ll try to be as transparent as possible. We may also answer your questions in a future installment of this column.
This Blog Hasn’t Been Updated in Years – Why Now?
We have found, particularly in the current health crisis, that it has become more and more necessary to communicate, in a longer form, to our customers. In addition, we have more team members now capable of providing interesting content. With those two items combined, That Pet Blog came back to life.
Your Store is Out of A lot of Stuff Now – What’s Going On?
Yes, you’re 100% right, we’re experiencing a lot of shortages right now. First of all, let us assure you, we are attempting to order as much as we can to fill the missing items. This being said, lots of things happening right now are impacting our (as well as other stores you frequent) inventory levels:
COVID-19-related production and delivery delays. Namely, factories are impacted on the production side when individuals get sick. The same is true for delivery companies
Still COVID-19 related, but shortages on goods from other countries due to their exposure to the pandemic
Demand is really high. More people are home, and many are turning to their (or new) pets for support.
A more recent phenomenon we’re seeing are businesses impacted by protests nationwide impacting their production and delivery capabilities
If you have any questions on this or are looking for alternatives to products you normally purchase, please, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team on social or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Noticed the Touch Tank is Closed, and there are Restrictions on How Many People can Be in The Small Animal Room, Reptile Room, and Fish Rooms at this time. Do you have a Goal in Mind to Open these Back up Unrestricted?
The short answer is that – no, unfortunately, we do not. As an essential business through this pandemic, we have worked extremely hard from day one to make our store as safe as possible for our employees and our customers. Given the uncertainty about the COVID-19 virus, we will only adjust back when we feel the health of everyone is reasonably and sustainably, safe when visiting our store. As a destination for folks, in addition to being a retail store, we feel a very high responsibility to be cautious and careful to not encourage a large amount of visitors until the coast is clear.
Thanks for reading! Please check back for future Q&A posts as well as other excellent pet articles from our wonderful team here!
You know the adage, “a tired dog, is a happy dog”, but did you know that mental stimulation can be as important to your dog’s overall wellness as a long hike?
As our dogs become ingrained in our lives, routines and structures it is important to focus on their mental health as much as their physical. Keeping them engaged and interested mentally is a powerful tool to decrease the likelihood of nuisance behaviors and bad habits!
Below we’ll discuss 5 of our favorite options for “brain games” with your pup! These options can benefit all breeds and all ages of dog.
The Licki Mat
The Licki Mat is an awesome boredom buster that combines a tasty snack with a fun game. The behavior of licking is a mechanism that dogs use to release calming endorphins. Licking also enhances taste and can even aid in digestion from increased saliva production.
Coming in a variety of surfaces, it’s likely to appeal to the most forward or passive treat seeker! You can use a variety of tempting items on these mats. Peanut butter, cream cheese, yogurt, canned food, mashed sweet potatoes and more can be used! Simply spread and offer. If you want to make it a bit more challenging, you can prepare your mat ahead of time and freeze them. Licki mats are also a great tool to use when introducing your dog to crate training or confinement.
Puzzle toys require a little bit more hands-on activity from you but these can make for a fun scent based activity for your genus pup! Most puzzle toys have draws, flip hatches or spin. Your dog gets to use their nose to figure out these various steps to find the treats hidden inside! It’s important for these activities to use something that is smelly and high value. Soft, small training treats work well for this! As your dog learns how to do these, he or she can up their game to the harder level varieties!
Treat Dispensing Toys
There is a wide variety of treat dispensing toys out there! We’re partial to Kong and Petmate’s “Busy Buddy” line because the of the variety of shapes, sizes and methods of dispensing they allow. Treat dispensing toys are often self-entertaining for your dog! Simply fill them up with your dog’s favorite treat or even a little extra kibble and hand it off. Treat dispensing toys are the best of both worlds. They provide the same mental stimulation that a puzzle toy does, and it can continue to be played with as a normal toy!
Filled Marrow Bones
Marrow bonescome with a variety of fillers direct from the pet store! The bones take your dog time and focus to lick all of the goodies out! Once they’re done, they still have a tasty bone to chew on! Empty marrow bones can also be refilled with peanut butter, canned dog food or other items and frozen! They function as at treat that keeps on giving!
Our final favorite enrichment toy is a snuffle mat! These bring out your dog’s natural instinct to sniff and root with their nose. They can also be a fun arts and crafts project for you at home. Snuffle mats are often made of soft fleece fabric. Simply toss a small amount of kibble or training treats onto the mat, move the fabric around a little and let your dog start sniffing!
Many of us have been forced from the work office into makeshift home-work spaces. Dining room tables are now makeshift desks, couches are now for conference meetings and our only co-workers are our pets.
Many of our pets are enjoying the luxuries of having their humans home all the time. They’re enjoying more exercise and attention than ever before. Long hours lounging with Mom and/or Dad while they work is the new normal for them. But wait, what happens when mom and dad head back to the office?
While we may seamlessly head back in to work for the nine to five shifts, our pets don’t understand that their new “normal” isn’t actually, normal. Many of our pets, even those who have never had an issue before, may begin to exhibit separation anxiety behaviors.
Separation anxiety in dogs is a severe panic attack that is brought on by being left alone. According to the American Veterinary Association between 20% to 40% of all dog owners report issues with separation anxiety. The symptoms can range from barking when left alone to urine or feces accidents, destructive behaviors to as severe as jumping through windows. Most of the time your dog will begin to show symptoms before you even leave the house, becoming anxious as you put on your shoes or pick up your coat. The process of “getting ready to leave” can begin the stress process that causes an attack. Separation anxiety is treatable and surmountable, but it takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication to help.
So, how can we avoid throwing our dogs into fits of anxiety as we return to work?
Your first order of business is to establish a routine. Ideally a routine that can seamlessly take you back into your work schedule. If your dog has never had an issue being left alone in the past you’re already on your way.
Start by determining where your pet is going to stay when you’re gone. If your dog is not experienced having free roam of the house, it is not advisable to allow it until they’ve been properly trained. You can confine your dog several ways: crating, in a spare bedroom, behind a baby gate or using an exercise pen. Start the training process by asking your dog to enter this space, offer them a treat and then let them out. Your goal is to show them that great things happen there and by remaining nearby there is no reason for them to begin stressing. Repeat this until they easily enter the space for you.
Once you’ve set up your area of confinement, it’s time to start leaving. At the start, only leave for short periods of time, leave for 10-15 minutes and return. As your dog becomes comfortable with these time periods you can begin increasing your time away. Leaving a minimum of three times a week for at least an hour is ideal. Always make entering the space a pleasant experience for your dog and never as a punishment.
Make it Count
One of the keys to success with integrating your dog to their confinement space is, high value enrichment items. Enrichment items are things that take your dog time and brainpower to consume. Filled Kong’s (see below), filled marrow bones, puzzle toys, puzzle bowls, Licki mats and long-lasting chews are a few options that are a tasty snack while also taking time and focus for your dog to complete. You can prepare these items ahead of time so that when you get them out it’s the beginning of your routine of putting your dog away!
We never hope to have issues with our dogs when we leave but it’s an unfortunate reality that many dog owners will face and as our time home expands, the likelihood of our dogs experiencing some form of stress is more and more assured. Setting up a plan and seeking out resources for help ahead of schedule is also advisable. Whether it’s starting to work with a dog trainer or joining a network of other dog owners it is a wonderful tool to have someone to experience this with. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to enjoy those extra dog snuggles and get all the “walkies” in while you can!