Pit Bulls and Other Dogs

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Never trust a dog not to fight. Dogs of any breed can exhibit intolerance toward other dogs.

Dogs may fight over hierarchic status, food, toys, or rawhides. External stimulus or excitement can also trigger a fight. Remember that any canine can fight, regardless of breed. If you frequent a dog park, you’ve surely seen a fight occur among a pack of dogs for reasons not discernible to humans. Owners should separate their dogs if they cannot closely supervise them.

Dog aggression (that is, aggression shown by dogs towards other dogs) is a complicated matter. Like most things in life, it is not a black-and-white issue. We should not think of dog aggression as a binary (dog aggressive/not dog aggressive) but as a spectrum: dogs can exhibit zero dog aggression, dog aggression only in some situations, a high level of dog aggression, or dog aggression that falls somewhere in between these points.

The graphic below provides a helpful visualization of this concept:

Given their historical circumstances, pit bulls can be less tolerant of dogs than other breeds. Pit bull owners must understand that their dogs may not get along with all other dogs. There are several levels of dog tolerance. Many dogs are great with other dogs and enjoy the company of fellow canines. Some dogs do well only with dogs of the opposite sex. Some are fine with dogs they were raised with but intolerant of new dogs. Some dogs are tolerant of other dogs except for in limited circumstances, such as when greeting a new person. Others cannot accept any other dogs. All of this should suggest that dogs are individuals and should be treated as such.

Owners need to understand their particular dog’s acceptance level of other dogs and manage their dog appropriately when around other animals.

A dog’s tolerance level can change during its lifetime, and owners need to be aware of these changes so they can properly manage their dogs while in the company of other dogs.

Some dogs become less tolerant as they mature from puppyhood to adult, while others become more accepting as they mature into the senior years. Some can become more tolerant with socialization and training.

Regardless of breed, there are many dogs that do not like other dogs, and all dog owners need to be responsible. This means following the basic rules of dog ownership: keeping your dog on leash at all times, not letting your charge unfamiliar dogs, and supervising your valued companion at all times (i.e. not leaving your dog in the backyard without supervision).

For pit bull owners, the stakes are always higher. While pit bulls may not instigate a fight, they often won’t back down from a challenge. Inevitably, no matter who “started it,” no matter what the circumstances, the pit bull will always be blamed. Each incident in which a pit bull gets blamed jeopardizes our right to own these great dogs. Keep your dog out of trouble!

That said, many pit bulls get along great with other pets and may live happily with other dogs without incident. We simply cannot assume that this is true for all of them. We also cannot take for granted that pit bulls who get along with other pets today will do so tomorrow. None of this should suggest that, in the language of popular myth, pit bulls are more likely to “snap” or “turn.” It only means that their attitude toward other dogs may change as they mature.

Pit bull owners must show common sense by ensuring that they don’t set their dogs up to fail by putting them in inappropriate situations. It is every dog owner’s responsibility to ensure that they are managing their dog’s needs and looking out for their dog’s safety at all times.

Please remember that, as we note throughout our previous articles, animal aggression and human aggression are two entirely distinct behaviors and should never be confused. Pit bulls are, by nature, very good with people. They are, in fact, one of the most loving, loyal, friendly, and dedicated companions one can have.

Breed Information: Pit Bulls and People

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Perhaps the most important characteristic of pit bulls is their amazing love of people. Many people are surprised by the loving personality of these dogs the first time they meet one. Pit bulls are remarkably affectionate and truly enjoy human attention. They are wonderful cuddlers and love nothing more than a belly rub. In fact, most pit bulls think they are lap dogs!

As Dunbar (1999) writes, “Today, a properly bred pit bull is so exuberantly happy upon meeting her owner’s friends (or even friendly strangers) that new owners sometimes worry that their dog is too sweet and fun-loving to protect their home and family… A multi-talented companion, the well-trained pit bull is suited for a variety of exciting activities. He excels at obedience, agility and weight-pulling competitions, events which showcase intelligence, trainability and strength. In addition, the pit bull’s pleasant nature makes him an ideal candidate for therapy work with people.”

Traits like human aggression, severe shyness and instability are not typically found in the breed, nor are they acceptable. Dogs with these traits are not good representatives of the breed and we do not recommend that they be placed into adoptive homes.

Those who wish to label these breeds as “dangerous” are often quick to insist that the dogfighting aspect of their history somehow means that they are inclined to “fight” humans. This is simply wrong. A central fact of pit bulls’ history is that their lineage actually makes them less inclined to be aggressive toward humans. For over 160 years, they have been systematically bred away from human aggressiveness.

As Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers) explains in an article published in The New Yorker in 2006: “Pit bulls were not bred to fight humans. On the contrary: a dog that went after spectators, or its handler, or the trainer, or any of the other people involved in making a dogfighting dog a good dogfighter was usually put down. (The rule in the pit-bull world was ‘Man-eaters die.’)”

So while human aggressive pit bulls were actively culled from bloodlines, traits such as gentleness, temperamental stability, and the desire to be handled by humans were emphasized. These qualities are the foundation of the “pit bull” breeds. It explains why footage of pit bulls being rescued from horrific circumstances usually features skinny, scarred-up dogs with wagging tails and happy tongues joyfully greeting law enforcement officers. “A pit bull is dangerous to people,” Gladwell concludes, “not to the extent that it expresses its essential pit bullness but to the extent that it deviates from it.”

What is “essential pit bullness?” It’s difficult to express the personality of any breed in words, but for pit bulls it comes down to a certain joie-de-vivre and a magnetic attraction to humans. First, pit bulls have a constant desire to be close to humans, even if that means lying by your feet as you use the computer; they are not overly independent dogs and want nothing more than to be active members of your “family.” Second, pit bulls are outgoing, eager to meet new people, and generally trusting of strangers. Finally, this innate desire for human contact and outgoing nature adds up to the ultimate “people dog” — pit bulls are truly in their element when snuggling on the couch, hopping in the bed on a cold morning, getting rubbed on the belly or scratched behind the ears, showing off a trick, going for a car ride with their family, or playing a fun game.

Contrary to myths propagated by the media, human aggression occurs in all dog breeds. Canines can exhibit many kinds of aggression: human-, dog-, territory-, and food-aggression, to name a few. These are independent behaviors. For example, feral dogs can be good with other dogs but highly aggressive toward humans. By the same token, a dog with dog aggression isn’t by default also human aggressive.

Pit bulls test well above average in temperament evaluations. To date, every shred of empirical evidence we have suggests that pit bulls are the same as, if not better than, other breeds when it comes to human interaction.

Each year, the American Temperament Testing Society holds evaluations across the country for dog breeds and gives a passing score for the entire breed based on the percentage of passed over failed within total number of the particular breed tested. As of 2011, pit bull breeds achieved a combined passing score of 86.7 percent. To put these figures into context, the combined passing rate of all breeds was 83 percent. The Collie, an icon of obedience, passed at a rate of 79.9 percent, and the beloved Golden Retriever scored at 84.9 percent. As you can see, by these measures, the pit bull breeds make fabulous family pets!

Pit bulls are wonderful, loving, and very loyal companions; however, it is important to understand the breeds’ nature, to provide a structured environment, and to establish a positive leadership role. In order to do so, pit bull owners must understand the original purpose of the breed, respect its limits, and help it fulfill its tremendous potential. This is sound advice for dog owners of any breed.

Pit Bull – An All-American Dog: Breed History

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Humans have created dog breeds by emphasizing desirable traits and eliminating unwanted ones. It is no different with pit bulls. In the same way that Labradors were bred to retrieve birds, pit bulls were originally bred for dog fighting and bull and bear baiting.

This does not, however, mean that fighting is the sole purpose of these breeds or that this component of the breeds’ history somehow makes them abnormal or negates their positive traits and well-known gentleness toward humans. For example, Greyhounds and Whippets were (and still are) bred for “coursing,” chasing and killing small prey like rabbits and squirrels. Like pit bulls, these dogs still make excellent family pets.

While some pit bulls may carry the potential for dog aggression, the vast majority of pit bulls are very far from the “fighting lines” of their ancestors, and may not be dog aggressive at all. It’s not accurate to say that pit bulls are “fighting dogs,” because such a designation fails to describe such a diverse animal population, most of which are very far from “fighting stock” and will never be involved in fighting of any kind.

From their inception, these dogs have been bred for general human companionship, and since the 1900s, they have been bred for conformation showing as well. From the very beginning, pit bulls have been used as farm dogs, family dogs, military mascots, and all-purpose companions. In England, the Staffie Bull is affectionately known as “The Nanny Dog” or “The Children’s Nursemaid” because of their placid and nurturing demeanor toward children. (Regardless of how gentle your pit bull is with kids, dogs of any breed should never be left alone unsupervised with children.)

Throughout their history in America, pit bull dogs have been valued as beloved members of the family. Their negative media image developed only recently. (Some suggest that an absurdly sensationalistic Sports Illustrated cover started the hysteria in 1987.) In fact, pit bulls have fulfilled important roles throughout the last 160-plus years of American history. In the nineteenth century, pit bulls were family pets of settlers crossing the United States. They were trusted to watch the children while the adults worked in the fields. As the years passed, pit bulls achieved a position of reverence among Americans, and they appeared in advertising campaigns such as Buster Brown and Pup Brand. A classic children’s television show, The Little Rascals, featured Petey the Pit Bull. Pit bulls have even graced the cover of Life magazine three times.

In 1903, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson hit the road with co-driver Sewall K. Crocker and a pit bull named Bud, who wore goggles, just like his master, to keep the dust from his eyes. Together, the three made the very first road trip across the US. Bud drew almost as much public attention as his fellow travelers. While it is unclear as to why Jackson and Crocker picked up Bud about halfway through their trip, one story suggests that Jackson rescued him from dogfighters.

In the early twentieth century, pit bulls were so respected for their loyalty, determination and bravery that they were chosen to represent America in WWI posters. The first decorated canine war hero was a pit bull named Sergeant Stubby. He was, until his death, a guest of every White House administration.

Many highly respected historical figures have owned pit bulls: President Woodrow Wilson, President Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, and Thomas Edison, to name a few.

Today, pit bulls are respected and dearly loved by those who know them for what they truly are and not the monsters the media has created.

Pit bulls still loyally serve society in many roles:

  • Search and rescue (Christina Ridge and Doc appear to the left)
  • Therapy dogs visiting hospitals and senior communities
  • Working in law enforcement as narcotics and bomb detection dogs
  • Educational dogs teaching children about canine safety
  • Service dogs

Pit Bull is not a breed

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Breed Information: Introduction & Basic Breed Overview

Introduction

  • AJpetsupplies is against the cruel “sport” of dog fighting, past and present. There is NO justifiable reason to throw two dogs in a pit and watch them tear each other apart.
  • does not support any form of breed specific legislation (BSL), which targets specific breed(s) for restrictions or bans.

The following pages describe basic breed information for anyone interested in acquiring a pit bull*, for those who already have one or more and would like to learn more about the breed, or for anyone who would simply like to understand these affectionate, extraordinary dogs a little better.

 

We will discuss the traits common to pit bulls, from their great love for people to their potential for dog aggression and what that means. You will learn that pit bulls make wonderful and loyal family companions. Like all dogs, they require intelligent, responsible and dedicated ownership.

This is not to suggest that pit bulls are “different” or “unique” in a way that makes them dangerous. Each breed, by definition, has its own traits, and pit bulls were not the only ones historically bred to fight other animals. No matter what kind of dog you have, understanding its breed is the first step toward being a good dog owner. By nature, pit bulls are intelligent, fun loving, and affectionate.

It’s our job to help them fulfill that potential. Adopting a pit bull, loving it, and training it as a breed ambassador are the most important things any of us can do to combat people who still want to use these dogs for their own cruel purposes.

AJpetsupplies hopes this article will help people understand why so many of us are deeply dedicated to these wonderful dogs. Pit bull dogs need more help, compassion, and understanding than many other breeds, but they will pay you back with more love, loyalty and fun than you ever thought possible.

*”Pit bull” is NOT a breed. It’s a generic term often used to describe all dogs with similar traits and characteristics known to the public as “pit bulls.” When we use the term “pit bull” here, it should be understood to encompass American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and mixes of those breeds.

Remember: In most cases, we usually know little about the background of rescue dogs. Since there is no way to know for sure, we recommend following the advice offered for any pit bull-type dog. Most of our guidelines are simply basic rules of dog ownership.

Basic Breed Overview

Pit bulls are wonderful, loving animals that deserve the chance to have a good life.

Pit bulls have physical and mental characteristics that make them excellent partners for responsible, active and caring owners. These same outstanding qualities can, however, be challenging for people who don’t have a lot of experience with dog ownership or have limited understanding of the breed. Luckily, pit bulls are intelligent, very responsive to training, and, above all, eager to please. Therefore, pit bulls should be enrolled in obedience classes as soon as they are up-to-date on their shots. (Pit bulls are susceptible to parvovirus, so it is important that they receive all their vaccinations before coming into contact with other dogs or entering areas of high canine traffic.) A well-behaved pit bull is the best way to fight breed prejudice and misconceptions.

Pit bulls can do well in an urban environment, provided they have enough exercise and other positive outlets for their energy. Many pit bulls are easygoing couch potatoes, but like all terriers, they can also be somewhat rambunctious until they mature. Maturity can come relatively late with this breed (two to three years old in some cases). Pit bulls remain playful throughout their lives and have a great sense of humor. True clowns at heart, these dogs will make you laugh like no other.

 

Pit bulls are energetic, agile, and strong. They are also very resourceful and driven. Determination is one of their most notable traits: They put their heart and soul into whatever they set out to do, whether it is escaping an inadequately fenced yard to explore the neighborhood, destroying your new couch if left home alone without a proper outlet to combat boredom, or climbing into your lap to shower you with kisses!

As Stahlkuppe (1995) writes: “The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), or the AmStaff, is certainly not the right pet for everyone. Being a powerful dog, it will require sufficient and adequate control. Some prospective elderly owners or children will not be able to supply that control…

“An insecure person who wants only an aggressive dog to bolster some personal human inadequacy should never become an owner of one of these dogs. An uncaring or negligent person should not buy an AmStaff or an APBT (or any other dog for that matter).”

FINCH DIETS

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FINCH DIETS!

 

Over the past few years ‘things’ have certainly changed dramatically for the better in regards the availability of foods for our finches. Fortunately, gone are the days of a dry seed mix that abounded in 3-4 types of seeds and supplements limited to a couple of brands of egg and biscuit mix – usually heavy on biscuit and light on egg! The average finch keeper can now help themselves to a huge selection of supplements, additives, medicines, wormers and seed varieties. Companies such as Womboroo, Vetafarm, Avione, Mavlabs and Pretty Bird – to name but a few – have given the aviculturist a wealth of products designed to create the best ‘lifestyle’ for the bird species that we keep. One still needs to be aware of the differing dietary requirements of the birds they keep but the work being done by Debra MacDonald and others is making that easier. For example the dietary requirements of Lorikeets and Finches would differ considerably and we can now seek advise in creating an ‘ideal’ diet for either species rather than relying on a ‘blanket’ diet hoping we supply their nutrients in the correct levels!
 

A Range of Products!

Soaked/Sprouted Seed.

Coop cups & Other Feeders.

As an example the provision of countless brands of lorikeet food (both wet and dry) has made the difficult dietary requirements of Lorikeets, Lories and Swift parrots relatively stress free. Gone are 400 different products that we used to mix together to provide the bare basics for these species! Admittedly a lot of the products available are aimed at the ‘hookbill’ keepers but enough has filtered through to keep the finch keepers happy too! In cahoots with a couple of friends from the world of finches it has been possible to present as varied a diet as possible to assist our finches during periods of movement and breeding type stresses.


Having been a long time advocate of any work I could lay my hand on by a renowned English Aviculturist, I was interested, to say the least, when I heard that he was moving to Australia and was set to produce his Herbal Seed and Softfood Mixes and make them available to the local market. Suffice it to say I was able to broker a deal with Birds R’ Us and obtained a quantity of these mixes to trial. As much has been written about the logic behind both products and their contents I shall leave that to far more knowledgeable people and stick to my own observations where appropriate!


However, it is great to see that some of the ‘hookbill’ keepers have ‘seen the light’ and more are including Softfood Mix into their parrots diet- couldn’t resist that one!

Veldt Oats. Milk Thistle. Pit-Pit Grass.

I would like to present a few thoughts to you on what we use with our finches in the hope that it can help someone out there in maintaining their finch stocks. But first a little background information. We are from a cold part of Australia and much of our obsession with supplements and food mixes stems from the winter hardships that our birds must endure. To this end I had an excellent conversation with the English Aviculturist on the return trip from The Canberra AFA Conference in 2004 concerning the much debated austerity diet/period. I have always felt loath to limit our finches’ access to many of the oilier and rich softfood additives and livefoods during the long winter period lest they freeze to death!! Despite this personal bias I have often pondered the need for an austerity diet and have heard many arguments both for and against. I was soon put straight that my obsession with an austerity ‘diet’ should have been more focused on an austerity ‘period’ instead! He felt that the long winter and cold conditions imposed a natural austerity period upon the birds whereby they had a climatic separation from breeding to non-breeding conditions – sometimes lacking from more temperate conditions where birds can be bred for 12 months of the year. If you keep your birds in temperature and humidity controlled conditions then by limiting their access to certain food items combined with varying the photoperiod you possibly achieve the same results as Mother Nature does for us down here! Guess I might have been 50% right then!!
Many breeders from ‘warmer climes’ will probably find some of this material superfluous given their far more ‘temperate’ conditions. But, who knows, there still may be something of use!

SEED:
During one of my trips through NSW I was astounded to see the variety of birdseed mixes that were available. Where I come from I had the fattest Rosellas in Tasmania given the amount of seed that I threw away that my finches would not eat. No Red pannicum and no Siberian millet were in any of the mixes that were commercially available here. After lusting over several mainland mixes we took the punt and ordered a pallet load of finch mix. The results speak for themselves. From emptying an ice-cream container of waste seed out of the hopper catchers we now have less than half a cup of seed!! This tells us that the birds MUST be finding the seed far more palatable. The Rosellas are not amused! Many local commercial mixes are fine for Zebra finches and marginal for the larger Australian finches but are severely lacking for the waxbills and allied smaller Estrildid finches. To test this ‘hypothesis’ I conducted an experiment by filling one half of a large hopper with Red pannicum and the other with finch mix. The aviary contained mostly Cordon bleus and Orange breast waxbills. The Red pannicum was depleted twice as often as the straight finch mix. But trying to get the local seed suppliers to alter their seed mixes were to prove impossible. Hence we now get a mix from NSW made up to suit the finches we keep and our suppliers are such that they even send down bags of harder to get seeds when they are available in NSW. This arrangement is of great benefit to our finches and a sad comment on the merchants down here. Well worth the freight.

Range of Goodies! Hopper & “Special’ Seeds! Pepper’s Finest Mix!

The mix that we prefer is roughly in these proportions:

20% PLAIN CANARY
30% RED PANNICUM
15% WHITE MILLET
10% PANORAMA MILLET
10% JAPANESE MILLET
15% YELLOW PANNICUM and/or SIBERIAN MILLET

Obviously not all of these seeds are available at the same time and we try to maintain a balance between these in the mix that we feed all year round. Our supplier is fantastic in catering to our wishes though, at times, I bet he wishes we would go back to keeping Zebra finches! The only seed we strive to maintain stocks of at all times is Red pannicum.


This is the ‘normal’ mix fed to our finches the year round. It would be great to be able to present a finch mix specially designed for a particular finch species but pressure of work and other matters determine otherwise, so what we have striven to do is create a mix that will be palatable to all finches with minimum waste.


If you keep any of the members of the Siskin family you will need to provide them with Niger seed all year round to maintain them in their best condition. There used to be only irradiated Niger seed available on the market but recently there have been small quantities of domestically produced Niger about. If you are fortunate enough to get hold of this local Niger you will notice the difference in the way your birds consume it. When I obtained some I placed 2 bowls in the aviary – 1 with irradiated seed and the other with the ‘fresh’ product. The birds literally emptied the fresh seed before they were even interested in the irradiated seed. And we call them ‘dumb’ animals!! Best to look at the extras we feed on the basis of the seasons – namely winter and the breeding season!

WINTER –
During the colder months down here it is fairly (!) important to ensure that you supply seeds that are richer in oil content to ensure your birds have sufficient reserves to see them through the winter. We put out separate bowls containing Hulled oats during the winter months. In a separate bowl is also fed a mixture of cracked Sunflower seeds, Rape, Maw (poppy) Phalaris and Cracked oats that are very popular with the Singers, Siskins and Greenfinches. Small quantities of cracked sunflower and oats are fed during the breeding season as well.

BREEDING SEASON –
At the start of this we feed out a product called Greens n’ Grains which consists of a huge variety of grass seeds and bird seeds cut when they are still not fully ripe. The gusto with which the more herbivorous finches attack this has to be seen to be believed! I saw this product at the Gunnedah Bird Sale and saw that most of the bigger finch breeders that I knew of only by name were purchasing large amounts of this product. I purchased a small ‘party pack’ of this product to test and soon put in an order for a pallet load!! Birds such as Diamond sparrows, Emblemas, Bloods, Plumheads, Song sparrows, Blue-face parrotfinches and Gouldian’s live in this seed and many wait on the aviary bowls for you to put it out for them. My Red strawberries love it but I know of other breeders that have said the opposite. Dybowski twinspots and Orange-cheek waxbills also appear to relish this mix. The more insectivorous species such as Blue caps, Melbas and Pytilias appear to show little interest in these green seeds. Perhaps, to me at least, the most interesting aspect of this seed mix is how the grower came to recognize its potential importance. His farm is heavily populated by wild Zebra finches and, as he explained to us, he noticed that when the birdseed was ripe the Zebs headed not for it but rather to the patches of wild seed that he had been trying to eradicate!! He shook his head and told us how much he had spent trying to get rid of this wild grass and how that he now had acres of it growing for his Greens n’ Grains – thankfully for us he took notice of the Zebs!!


With the recent arrival of the Herbal Seed Mix we were able to combine the two products and, if empty bowls are any indicator, then they are a double smash hit with the finches. Now all I have to do is get the Pytilias and Blue-caps to eat them – wish me luck!

SOAKED and SPROUTED SEED –
Throughout the year all the aviaries are supplied with soaked seed every second day and every day during the breeding season. Any uneaten seed is immediately trashed the following day or that evening. There is a huge debate that ensues whenever soaking seed regimes are discussed and the closer to the equator you get the more negative that people tend to become! Many of our northern colleagues cite examples of fungus and bacterial growth and choose not to use this seed for those reasons, which to me, seems a great pity based on the relish that most finches show for soaked/sprouted seed. But if I’d lost birds to fungal disease spread from this seed I would probably think differently! Suffice it to say that here it is one of our staples and, to date, we have not suffered any outbreaks of disease from it – but we are ever alert. Our climate does not tend to have the humidity that northern climates have so I guess that is one thing to be thankful for! Our mixes are served partly sprouted and partly soaked so as to provide for all finch tastes.
Given the finches relish for this mix we often use it as a vehicle for introducing the birds to new supplements. Firstly the new product is mixed with the soaked seed and then, when they accept it, it is fed in a coffee lid by itself to gauge their reaction. This was how we initially fed the softfood mix but now we are flat out keeping the coffee lids full! As a word of warning, beware that adding anything to their soaked seed may cause some finches to avoid it for a few days so be prepared to ‘wait them out” – give them time, keep presenting it and they’ll come round just like ours did!

PREPARATION of SOAKED SEED:
1. Place required amount of seed in small ice-cream bucket and fill container to top with water.
2. Add small amount of one of the many brands of chlorhexidine solutions available to the water.
3. Leave on top of fridge or somewhere warmer for about 24 hours -or basically until the seed has swelled with water.
4. At end of 24 hours wash through a sieve with clean water and place sieve onto a sponge to draw the water through. Make sure that you DON’T take all of the moisture from the seed.
5. Place somewhere warm (mine into the mealworm room at around 25 degrees Celsius) until seed is beginning to sprout or is at the stage that you wish to feed.
6. Place unused portion in fridge until required. Some may frown at this last step but that is ‘what works for me’.
7. Before serving place a multi-vitamin powder over the seed.

The seed used is the finch mix previously mentioned with extra Red pannicum added. During the breeding season we also supply soaked Grey sunflower which is relished by the cup nesting finches and, perhaps surprisingly, by a wide variety of ‘normal’ finches. This soaking is also reputed to lower the oil content of the seed if you have any such worries. The Sunflower seed is soaked using the same technique as outlined above. The only variation to this feeding regime is the supply of pine nuts to the Himalayan greenfinches – given the cost of these seeds it is to these ONLY!! They appear to love them especially when feeding young.

EXTRAS:
1.Winter warmers
I was given a recipe for a substance that was called “German Paste” by someone I once knew. His mother used to feed it to wild blue wrens when they were feeding young on her property. It varies from the ‘original’ German Paste much favoured by older canary breeders in the absence of hemp seeds from the recipe!! I feel sure he won’t mind my sharing the recipe with you. You need:

· 1 container of dripping.
· 2 cups of brose meal (chick pea flour)
· 2 cups of rolled oats
· 2 tablespoons of honey

Method:
Melt the container of dripping in a saucepan on moderate heat and stir in your honey. When everything is liquid stir in your brose meal and rolled oats. Stir well and pour into desired containers – ice cube moulds make excellent and convenient sized portions. Make sure that you continue stirring until it begins to set then place it in the fridge – but don’t put in fridge too early as all the oats will sink to the bottom. Can be stored in the freezer until needed. Probably not going to be a winner in warmer climes as it has a real tendency to run in hot weather. Cup nesters are quick to consume it with other finches learning from their example.

2. Egg and Biscuit
There is almost an unlimited supply of different brands available but the one we use goes under the name of canary starter. This is fed all year round in the dry form in small coop cups and mixed with hard-boiled eggs during the breeding season. Eggs are simply hard-boiled, usually for 20 minutes, then mixed with canary starter until a crumbly consistency is reached. The mix is stored in the freezer and fed out when required. All leftovers are disposed of the next day – usually to the quail!

3. Supplements –
At the commencement of the breeding season all aviaries are given a course of water-soluble vitamins and vitamin B complexes for about 2 weeks. The solutions are replaced daily. Just to ‘fire them up’ for the (hopefully!) big event. In a number of large coop cups I place a mixture of a finch soft food, finch crumbles, dry canary starter and an insectivore mix which finches relish as they begin to contemplate breeding. Different aviaries show varying degrees of consumption of this mix – from relish too completely ignoring it. Experimentation with the ingredients of this mix will provide you with something that your birds will enjoy.
We have found that most finches eagerly seek the Passwells Finch Soft Food of all the pre-prepared foods we have come across.

In a separate coop cup a dry lorikeet mix is provided which the majority of birds will eat. Be careful of these mixes if you have Song sparrows, as they appear to be a prime site for ‘dust bathing’! I was also using a product called Bevo from Belgium but, unfortunately, customs in their wisdom have banned it from entering Australia. It is supposedly very good for highly insectivorous finches.

About twice a month we add Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to the water as a cleansing agent and this product is very popular in the United States and Europe. The birds don’t appear to relish the taste but it’s good for them so what else would you expect!!


The recommended dose rate is 5-10mls per litre depending upon whom you listen to! We use the 10mls/litre rate. Yet another aside here, make sure you get the non-pasteurised ACV and the thicker the colour the better!!
The only other non-medicinal agent that enters the water is lime – usually mixed at the rate of a spoonful to a bucket of water. What sized spoon you ask? I’m afraid that will depend on the purity of your water but only a small amount of lime will dissolve in a bucket – trial and error! This has long been used as part of a preventative program for egg binding.

We have also commenced mixing a number of softfood mixes that we feed to the finches, which I feel sure we can share with you in a future edition of Just Finches & Softbills.

4. Vegetables and Fruit –
A friend in Gunnedah showed me a vegetable called the Lebanese cucumber that he feeds to his birds on a regular basis. Knowing that everybody has their ‘secret’ tip for success I filed it away for future use – especially after I saw the price of these in Hobart! Not long after this I was fortunate enough to hear Mike Fidler address the local bird society and he began to extol the humble cucumber as a powerful aphrodisiac. Out to the produce stall and a number were purchased but they preferred the Lebanese variety – of course, being the dearest! If you scoff at this try a piece with your Parrotfinches and you will come back to a shrivelled piece of green skin, that is all that will be left! Remains to be seen if it improves their ‘prowess’ but I feel that Blue-faced parrotfinches require little prodding in that direction!
Apple and oranges are fed in some aviaries and, as a rule of thumb, if there are cup nesters in the aviary they will eat some apple and the other finches will follow as “monkey see, monkey do”! On this topic, if you can’t get your birds to eat something you feel they should try putting a Canary (or Red-faced parrotfinch!) in with them to ‘show the way”. That is as long as you haven’t got a beautiful planted aviary – at least as for a Canary!

I know of a number of breeders that feed large amounts of broccoli to their birds and have witnessed them feasting on this, especially when the broccoli is put through a blender. But I have always remembered the amount of ‘additives’ that are used to grow broccoli in northern Tasmania and wondered whether these might not affect the finches. Silverbeet is supplied when available and is fed suspended on the aviary wire to avoid the birds feeding on the ground. A good stand bye when no seeding grasses are available or during winter. To be brutally honest I only use green vegetables when seeding grasses are not available. Many breeders favour Endive but its supply in Tasmania is highly erratic – from $2 a tonne to unavailable in the same month– which does make it a tad difficult to ensure a regular supply of. Doug in Sydney assures me, as he is often wont to do, that it is always $2 a sugar bag full there – yeah, right Doug! However, that does lead to the statement that it is pointless commencing feeding a product to your birds if its supply cannot be maintained when there are young in the nest!

5. Green Food (grasses, chickweed, thistles…etc) –
Again the feeding of seeding grass heads can be a contentious issue depending upon where you live. Whilst recently in NSW I spoke to a number of breeders that had horror stories of feeding seeding grasses in the wet, humid weather that existed there last year. Fungal diseases where traced back to feeding green grasses and many a grass patch was ‘turned in’. Again personal preference and common sense will dictate what and how you feed green grasses. I am aware that an increasing number of aviculturists are now relying more and more on the dried Greens n’ Grains type products rather than feeding seeding grasses fresh.
However, in the more temperate zones there is a greater margin for error when feeding green grasses as long as you avoid obvious signs of rust. A staple is the Chickweed (Stellaria media), a prostrate spreading weed with little white flowers that contain a number of tiny brown/golden seed (sold as Gold of Pleasure I do believe!) that most finches relish. Most finch keepers will be familiar with this plant. Be careful when picking your chickweed because another nasty little weed enjoys lurking amongst it. This is poisonous milkweed which resembles the former but has small yellow flowers and a more robust stem and when snapped oozes a milky white sap which is a powerful neurotoxin and can be fatal if eaten. We used to call it ‘wart killer’ when kids.

A couple of staple grasses are the small Veldt oats and green panic (Ehrharta sp.), both of which originate from South Africa. The variety that we have here is, usually, less than 500cms in height but I have seen similar panic grass in Queensland that was way over my mere 183cms of height! Many finches consume the seeds then construct the outer part of their nests from the green stems. My birds also relish the small seeds from swamp grass (November grass, blown grass) if you can supply it fresh. Another favourite that grows throughout Australia is rye grass, Lolium perenne, – your typical lawn seed grass. If you can afford the dried seeds you will find them avidly consumed by most finches plus diamond sparrows, song sparrows and the like love the green stems to build their nests with.
Coupled with these are the green seeds from any of the ‘normal’ bird seed varieties, (pannicums, millets…etc) fed just as they start to turn brown and dry off. Over here when you see the wild Goldfinches eating the heads of the Phalaris (Phalaris sp. – wild-type grass related to canary seed) you give it to your own birds.

If you are keeping siskins or other Cardueline finches then you will probably be feeding them with the flowers and the seeds of the milk thistle. This plant comes in a variety of species and forms, most of which are palatable. You can tell that someone is using the milk thistle by the cloud of seed ‘fluff’ that erupts from their cages every time they open the door! As a rule of thumb, if the stem is ‘hairy or covered in stiff bristles’ then the finches are generally not interested in it. If you are feeling particularly brave you might like to cut some Scotch thistles and extract the large purple seeds from them as the Cardueline species are really fond of them – greater devotion and all that!
I also feed Sunflower seed heads scavenged from anywhere I can and have helped collect the small tree-like sunflower heads that are favoured by NSW breeders that grow along the side of the road. Perhaps a final warning on picking grass seed would be that ‘if in doubt don’t’! If you are picking it from the side of the road it is critical to ensure that it has not been sprayed by the council, or at least not by local canines! Most local councils will tell you where the spraying is to take place and it is better to make the call to the council than a call to the vet.

Red, Siberian & Niger. Fresh Water! Winter Grass

Hopefully that gives you some ‘food for thought’ in regards to what some people are feeding their finches. An obvious omission is the feeding of live food but that would be a tome in its own right! Given that we are told that variety is the spice of life it must be important to ensure that the species under our care are presented with as diverse a diet as possible. Giving some thought to implementing a well-constructed dietary regime could well mean the difference between an average breeding season and an excellent one. Remember, next time you are visiting an aviculturist make sure you see how he feeds his birds as we can all learn from one another. So don’t just sit there reading this and say “what a load of rubbish”, get out there and get to work and flood us with your thoughts!

How to apply Frontline to your dog

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How to apply Frontline to your dog.

How to apply Frontline to your dog

Leave a comment

How to apply Frontline to your dog

How to apply Frontline to your dog

 

 

How to apply Frontline to your dog thumbnail
Frontline helps protect your dog from fleas, ticks and other pests.

Frontline provides long-term protection against fleas, ticks and other pests if applied monthly to your dog’s skin. This product usually kills 100 percent of fleas in the first day of application, according to its manufacturer. Frontline prevents the eggs of fleas from hatching and causing future problems. The active ingredient, fipronil, is stored under your dog’s skin and is distributed steadily to other parts of the skin and hair from its initial application between the shoulder blades.

Things You’ll Need

  • A box of frontline from ajpetsupplies.com; make sure it’s the right strength for your dog. A pair of scissors. Paper towels to dispose of the tube.
 

Instructions

 

    • 1

      Open the package and remove an applicator package. Lift off or cut the plastic tab so that you can see the foil. Peel this down to access the applicator.

    • 2

      Bend down the tip of the applicator as you hold it upright. You should bend the tip away from your body so that you do not accidentally splatter any of the solution on you.

    • 3

      Smooth out a spot on your dog’s hair between the shoulder blades so that you can see the skin. Place the tip of the applicator in this location.

    • 4

      Squeeze the applicator. Apply all of the solution onto your dog’s skin in this one spot.

    • 5

      Dispose of the empty tube in the garbage can, and allow the dog’s skin to dry for a few hours before touching the area where the Frontline was applied as it can be toxic to humans.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not apply anywhere on the dog except between the shoulder blades.

  • Ask the vet for direction if you have any questions — be sure to be safe.

  • Do not use at the same time as other flea and tick products.

  • Do not ever put the fluid where the dog can lick it off and ingest it.

  • Always wash your hands well after applying to the dog.

  • Do not use Frontline for dogs on cats.

 

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