Thursday, 1 October 2015

Desensitising Your Pets to Fireworks

Fireworks can cause a lot of stress among family pets.  The majority are far more sensitive to noise than humans are, so what sounds like a loud bang to us sounds like an almighty explosion to many pets.  While some happily sleep through the noise, others live with weeks of anxiety as the fireworks season approaches.

If your pets are among those that live in terror in the weeks surrounding Guy Fawkes, it is worth investing time helping your pet(s) to become less sensitive to the sound of fireworks.  It will make the fireworks season much less stressful for your pet and much more enjoyable for you.

Desensitisation is a process where you gradually introduce your pet to a sound or other stimulus that they are fearful of.  While introducing the stimulus (in this case the sound of fireworks), you help your pet to feel relaxed rather than afraid by introducing something they love such as food or a toy.

Here's how it works:

1.  First, identify something your pet absolutely loves.  Do they have a favourite food?  A toy?  Do they love being groomed?

2.  Next, jump online and locate a fireworks sound file.  We particularly like this file which provides fifteen minutes of fireworks sounds, plus accompanying lights.  DO NOT play this file with your dog around you at first.  We'll introduce them to the sound shortly.

3.  With your pet's favourite food, toy or brush on hand, begin playing the file on the lowest volume setting you have.  The volume needs to be at a level that your pet can barely hear.  Each time you hear the sound of fireworks played, get your pet's attention.  If they appear relaxed, give them the treat, toy or a brush.  If they appear nervous, give them a pat and talk to them in a reassuring voice.  As soon as they relax, reward them with their treat.  Allow the track to play for a few minutes, then stop.

4.  Later in the day, increase the volume a tiny bit and start the process again.  Allow the track to play for several minutes while rewarding your pet with their treat as soon as they appear relaxed.

5.  Each day, increase the volume a tiny bit more and add another minute to their session.  Keep an eye on your pet's reaction.  If they suddenly become fearful, try to hide, or lose interest in the reward you are providing, reduce the sound again.  Leave the sound at this volume for a few days before increasing it a notch.  It is important not to rush this process.  Increasing the volume too quickly can result in your pet becoming even more frightened.  Your dog's reaction will tell you whether you are moving at the right pace.

6.  Continue the process, increasing the sound and adding another minute to each session each day.  The time it takes for your pet to become desensitised to the sound will vary depending on how great their fear was to begin with, but the majority will be capable of tolerating the sound within a few days or a few weeks.  Many may even look forward to the sound as you've taught them that it's a sign that their favourite treat is on its way.

If your pet is still showing signs of fear by the time Guy Fawkes rolls around, follow the steps in our fireworks safety guide.  With a little bit of time and patience, you should find your pet's reaction is less severe if it has not gone completely.


1 in 3 pets go missing.  Inspector Spot finds them.  If your pets are not registered with him, visit www.inspectorspot.co.nz to get them signed up today.


Pet Safety During Guy Fawkes

More pets go missing during fireworks season than any other time of the year.  While it’s usually a night of celebration for humans, the kaleidoscope of colour and sound is often terrifying for furry and feathered creatures.  Animals’ hearing is far more acute than our own, so a simple bang will sound like an explosion to them.  This can lead to them running away or injuring themselves in an attempt to escape the noise.  Each year rescue organisations receive reports of pets jumping through glass windows, jumping fences, or being hit by cars as they try to escape.  Here is our guide to keeping your pets safe and comfortable during Guy Fawkes:

1.  If your pets are particularly nervous, print out our guide to desensitising your pet BEFORE the season kicks off.  If you have subscribed to our Fireworks Safety Kit you can access a copy through the link provided.

2.  As soon as fireworks go on sale, print out copies of our Fireworks Safety Poster and display these around your neighbourhood.  These will help to encourage your neighbours to use fireworks more considerately.

3.  Err on the side of caution and ensure all pets are indoors by 6pm – even confident pets.  If your cats are difficult to lure inside, consider locking them inside up to 24 hours in advance.  Don’t forget your outdoor pets either – bunnies and guinea pigs should also be brought inside for the evening.  If you own livestock, ensure they’re in a securely fenced paddock, or preferably locked in a barn.

4.  Make sure your pets are wearing a collar and a tag, in case they manage to escape.  Ideally, they should be microchipped AND registered with Inspector Spot as well.

5.  If your pets are particularly nervous, consider starting them on Rescue Remedy or plug in a pheromone-based device such as Feliway 24 hours in advance.  If your pet has previously had a bad experience during Guy Fawkes, consider asking your vet to prescribe a sedative.

6.  If you have dogs, take them for a good run earlier in the day.  This will help to tire them out and hopefully put them to sleep.

7.  Close all windows, curtains, cat flaps, interior and exterior doors.  Pop a cover over your bird’s cage.  This will help to block out as much sound and light as possible.

8.  Try to stay at home with your pets, or if this is not possible leave a TV or radio on to help muffle the sound of the fireworks.  Keep your pets occupied with lots of toys and treats. 

9.  Stay calm.  If you fuss over your pets, they’ll wonder why you’re worried, and begin to worry too.

10.  If your pet is frightened, their natural inclination will be to run and hide – potentially under a bed or in a small, enclosed area such as a cupboard.  If this happens, do not attempt to lure them out.  Just sit with them, pat them, and speak to them calmly until they feel confident enough to come out.  A frightened pet may lash out at you in fear, so it’s best to let them sit in the space they’ve chosen for themselves.

11.  DO NOT take your pets to a fireworks display under any circumstances.  Displays are a great event for humans, but NOT for pets.

12.  Remember that fireworks may land on your property.  Prevent your pets from eating something dangerous by checking for the remains of fireworks the following morning.  

13.  Finally, a pet that is scared during Guy Fawkes may show signs of anxiety for days, weeks or even several months afterwards.  If your pet does not return to normal within a few days, make an appointment with your vet to help them to calm down again.



1 in 3 Pets go missing.  Inspector Spot tracks them down.  If your pets are not registered with him, visit www.inspectorspot.co.nz to get them signed up today. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Pet Name Tags vs Microchips. Do You Need Both?

Microchipping has become increasingly popular over the last few years, but there is a lot of confusion over the role that microchipping plays in reuniting pets with their owners.  If a pet is microchipped, does it need to wear a name tag?  If a dog has a council registration tag, does it need a name tag as well?

Our view is clear: all pets MUST HAVE BOTH.  But why?

1.  Microchips do not find missing animals.  They have no GPS capability, so like a pet tag they simply store an owner's details.

2.  But a microchip requires a fair amount of work for a member of the public to retrieve these details.  They need to:

  • Recognise a pet is missing
  • Pick it up
  • Take it to the vet
  • Get it scanned
  • Get the vet to check both the NZ and Australian microchip databases
  • Retrieve the owner's details
  • Give them a call
That is a lot of steps to go through.

3.  A council registration tag also requires a fair amount of work.  A member of the public needs to:
  • Recognise the pet is missing
  • Pick it up
  • Phone the council
  • Negotiate the release of the owner's details (which many councils will no longer hand out)
  • Either ring the owner or wait for the pound to collect the animal
Again, that is a lot of steps to go through.

4.  A name tag is a comparatively easy tool for a member of the public to use.  A well designed tag will have the owner's contact number on one side, so a member of the public can ring or text them straight away.  There's no need to take the pet anywhere, make multiple phone calls or negotiate the retrieval of personal details.

5.  But a name tag does have several limitations.  The first is it can be relatively easy to lose.  Tags can come loose and be lost in a dog park, and collars can be removed either by the pet or a human.  In this instance, a microchip is a good backup option.  

6.  Microchips are also a great option in instances where there's uncertainty over a pet's true owner.  A microchip is much more difficult to remove, so Police will typically rely on a microchip to determine who owns a pet if there is ever a debate.  This is especially important if your pet is stolen or accidentally re-homed.

But a microchip is not a solution on its own.  A microchip AND a name tag are essential tools to ensure your pet(s) are returned to you as quickly as possible.  If they don't have both, they really shouldn't be allow out of the house.  


1 in 3 pets go missing.  Inspector Spot tracks them down.  If your pets are not registered with him, visit www.inspectorspot.co.nz to get them registered today.




Your Dog Could Star in Auckland's Pride Parade!


Does your dog fancy a life of stardom?  Here's their chance!

We're on the hunt for a pack of dogs to join us in this year's Auckland Pride Parade.  If chosen, your dog will join our resident drag queen, Kita Mean, and will sashay the length of Ponsonby Road in a sea of colour and celebration.

Interested?  There are a few things your dog will need to bear in mind:


  • They need to be available on Saturday 21 February
  • The Parade begins at 7.30pm but your dog will need to arrive by around 6.00pm
  • They must be well socialised with other dogs and humans.  There will be a lot of people viewing the parade, so if they're nervous little creatures they probably won't fit the bill.
  • They must be capable of walking the length of Ponsonby Road.  We travel at a pretty slow pace over a period of around 90 minutes so older dogs or teeny tiny dogs may struggle with the distance.
  • Finally, each dog will be fitted with a very special costume.  If your dog is particular about their wardrobe, they may prefer not to join us.

Each doggy participant will be accompanied by a human minder who will keep them on a lead, keep them watered and pick up after them if anyone decides to do a public poo!

Interested?  Email your dog's name and photograph to spot@inspectorspot.co.nz

Applications close on Sunday 15 February at 11pm.


1 in 3 pets go missing.  Inspector Spot helps to track them down.  If your pets are not already registered with him, visit www.inspectorspot.co.nz today.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Which Dog Breeds Are Most Likely to Wander?

A whopping 1 in 3 pets go missing, but there is a tremendous amount that you can do to prevent your pets from becoming a statistic.  When it comes to dogs, the particular breed you choose can play a huge role in the likelihood of your dog going wandering and becoming lost.  In general, those breeds that require the most exercise or are driven by their nose are also more likely to go wandering.

Here are the most common wanderers:

  • Afghan Hound
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Australian Terrier
  • Basset Hound
  • Beagle
  • Bloodhound
  • Border Collie
  • Boxer
  • Bull Terrier
  • Dalmatian
  • Dachsund
  • English Setter
  • Golden Retriever
  • Greyhound
  • Hungarian Vizsla
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Jack Russell
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Samoyed
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Siberian Husky
  • Welsh Terrier
  • West Highland Terrier
  • Wheaten Terrier

1 in 3 pets go missing.  Inspector Spot helps to find them.  If yours aren't registered with him yet, visit www.inspectorspot.co.nz today. 


Which Rabbits Make the Best Pets?

You could be forgiven for assuming that one rabbit is pretty much the same as another.  But when it comes to their suitability as pets, some are much better than others.  When it comes to determining suitability as a pet, we take several factors into account:


  • Temperament - Do they enjoy human company?  Are they good around children?  Or are they cranky little creatures?
  • Hardiness - Are they robust enough to be handled easily?  Are they healthy enough to last the distance?
  • Grooming - Do they require a weekly wash and blow-dry or are they happy to groom themselves?

These are the breeds that we recommend considering as pets.  Note that "lilac", "silver" and "tan" refer to breeds in this instance, not to colours:

  • British Giant
  • Californian
  • Chinchilla 
  • Dutch
  • English Rabbit
  • Flemish Giant
  • French or German Lop
  • Harlequin/Magpie
  • Havana
  • Himalayan
  • Lilac
  • Miniature Lop (although like the Netherland Dwarf, some mini lops can be a little bit stroppy;  we have one of those in our office!)
  • New Zealand Red
  • New Zealand White
  • Rex (all types)
  • Satin
  • Silver and Silver Fox
  • Tan

1 in 3 pets go missing.  Inspector Spot tracks them down.  If yours are not registered with him yet visit www.inspectorspot.co.nz today.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Just How Many Pets Go Missing?

At Inspector Spot we specialise in locating animals when they go missing.  But do that many pets really go missing?  Here are the things you need to know:

  • 1 in 3 pets go missing
  • As few as 1 in 10 missing pets are found
  • The percentage of cats that go missing is roughly the same as dogs
  • However, the rate of recovery tends to be higher for dogs
  • Only 15% of pets are reunited because they were microchipped or wearing a tag

Shocked?  We were too.  And that’s why we do what we do.  The problem with lost pets is typically not figuring out WHO they are, it’s figuring out WHERE they are.

Inspector Spot is an expert at finding missing pets.  If your pets are not registered with him yet, visit www.inspectorspot.co.nz.