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My Pet World: What would cats and crows talk about?

November 23, 2010|By Steve Dale

Q: Between 8:30 and 9 each morning, there's an unusual rendezvous at my home. At first, I thought it was a coincidence, but this happens every morning unless there's heavy rain. Our indoor-only cat sits on the window ledge. Within minutes, a crow arrives. The crow, crows. (I'm not sure what you call it when crows "talk.") Whiskers meows back, chirping like a songbird. The two have a 2- or 3-minute "conversation." Could it be they've become friends? And what are they "talking" about?

A: This pair may, in fact, be "friends." They certainly are communicating.

Sometimes, our friendships are dependent. For example, some friendships are dependant on work or another friend. This friendship seems dependent on the pane of glass separating the two. Still, either participant needs to voluntarily show up. I wonder what would happen if you took your cat outdoors on a leash and harness for those meetings.

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For your cat, these encounters offer wonderful enrichment. However, exactly what each participant derives from the relationship — not being a crow or a cat — I'm not qualified to say. Feel free to e-mail me a video of a meeting.

Q: We need a new suggestion for teaching our dog not to pull on the leash. If the dog pulls on the leash, we stop walking and stand still, hoping the dog will return to us. Instead, our 7-month-old dog goes forward and just keeps pulling on the leash. Any advice?

A: There's nothing wrong with what you're doing. The technique you describe is the first step in teaching a dog to heal, or at least not to pull, says Michelle Douglas, of West Haven, Conn., president of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. However, not all dogs respond to the same techniques.

First, set yourself (and your dog) up for success by using a head halter or body harness instead of a collar. There are three other training techniques you could try. Douglas says that instead of using just one, rotate between them for the greatest effectiveness. With all these techniques, Douglas likes to praise for a good job and use occasional treats or a toy as an additional motivator:

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