Category: Guides

Backyard Fun: Create a Catio for Your Cat

House cats are natural predators who love to hunt. Just like their ancestors that lived in the wild, they have agile bodies made for hunting as well as keen senses that help them catch their prey. You’ll see it in the way your cat leaps to catch the feather at the end of the wand Read More...

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House cats are natural predators who love to hunt. Just like their ancestors that lived in the wild, they have agile bodies made for hunting as well as keen senses that help them catch their prey. You’ll see it in the way your cat leaps to catch the feather at the end of the wand toy, or how he energetically pounces on a squeaky ball. Interactive play keeps your cat healthy and happy. It can even prevent behavioural problems that stem from boredom. But aside from regular exercise of at least 10 minutes a day, cats can also be mentally, physically, and emotionally stimulated through other means. This is where a catio comes in! 

What is a catio?

Short for cat patio, Animal Planet describes a catio as “an exterior, escape-proof cat house, screened on all sides and overhead, which allows indoor cats to experience a slice of outdoor life without actually venturing beyond your home.” Whether it’s found on your balcony or created on your backyard, a catio gives your house cat the freedom to explore the outside world without you worrying about his safety. The screened enclosure will keep your kitty carefully contained while protecting him from wild predators, free-roaming dogs or cats, moving vehicles, and other possible dangers.

Cats that are curious and playful would enjoy spending time in a catio. Katenna Jones, an associate certified applied animal behaviourist and owner of Jones Animal Behavior, tells PetMD, “If you can never find your cat when you get home with groceries because she’s hiding in a bag with the potato chips, or she gets into your purse all the time, or she comes up to you carrying one of your shoes in her mouth, that cat is a good candidate for a catio.” 

What are the benefits of a catio?

A catio can provide daily enrichment for your indoor cat. The secure space lets him take in the fresh breeze, enjoy the warmth of the sun, and/or witness the sights and sounds of nature such as chirping birds sitting atop swaying branches. More than just providing a healthy outdoor lifestyle, a catio can become a safe hideout for territorial cats who need time apart from other household pets. It can also be an additional area where you can place a litter box, therefore reducing unsavoury odours inside your home.

What do I need to consider before building a catio?

Anyone with basic carpentry or home improvement skills can make a catio. However, there are multiple factors you need to evaluate before building one, namely: location, access point, size, and height. 


Where should the catio be placed? Consider what you want your cat to observe whenever he steps “outside.” Your catio should provide stimulating views of nature and wildlife and have ample sun and shade—giving him the choice to bask in the sun or to snooze in a shaded spot. 

Access point

Think about where kitty will pass through to get to his catio. There should be at least one access point (such as a window, door, or wall) that your cat can freely pass through to and from your home. 


How much extra space do you have outside? Is there an existing patio or deck that you can use? How many cats or even hoomans will be using the catio? Are there large accessories you’ll be installing in it? These are a few questions you might want to answer. 


The height of your enclosure is also important because most feline pets love vertical spaces. Shelves and perches give your cat the opportunity to survey his territory from up above and escape other land-based creatures. But if you can’t build them, cat trees and hanging shelves work just as well.  

What materials do I need to make a catio?

If you plan to build a catio from scratch, you must take time to research on the catio that you want to create. Do you want a long walkway or more perching spots for kitty? How many hiding nooks will there be? Make sure to invest in durable construction materials⁠ that can withstand the seasons such as a two-way cat door or flap, wood framing lumber, escape-proof wire, and a weatherproof roof. Jones advises, “Sturdiness is key. You want something that will keep your cat in, but also keep predators out.” 

Aside from its basic protective features, a catio won’t be complete without cat accessories that would keep your pet entertained for hours. Carpeted perches, cedar shelves, scratchers, water bowl or fountain, and toys (try making these fun DIY toys) are other essentials you can add to make the catio his new favourite spot. Cat-safe plants such as wheatgrass, thyme, basil, and rosemary will also be a hit for your kitty! (Review this list for toxic plants you should avoid.) 

Search for inspiration online to build your own customised catio! You can whip up your own design or purchase downloadable catio plans from Catio Spaces. Choose from a compact, window box-type sitting spot to a bigger, four-sided enclosure with an underground tunnel. The best part is that 10% of each purchase is donated to an animal welfare organisation.

In Australia, you can create your own catio by ordering buildable sets from Backyard Cat Enclosures, Royal Feline, and Catnip Cat Enclosures

Backyard Cat Enclosure’s The Meow Manor is a three-storey climbing annex that protects your cat from the elements
Royal Feline’s Royal Catio is a buildable catio that’s good for two to three cats
Catnip Cat Enclosure’s Climber Module can be furnished with hammocks and scratching posts

What other things should I keep in mind?

  • Once you’ve made your catio, allow your cat to slowly warm up to the new area. Certified cat behaviour consultant and Feline Minds cofounder Mikel Delgado says, “You don’t want to force them. It can take cats a few days or even weeks to test out a new environment, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a while for your cat to adjust.” If your cat doesn’t respond to the catio favourably, you can change some of the components until it strikes his fancy.
  • Another thing your cat will need time to figure out is how to use his cat door or flap. You can entice him with treats and toys or initially tape the cat door open so he can stick his head through it to discover what’s outside. Make sure you don’t lock out your cat in the catio or leave him unsupervised for prolonged periods of time, especially when the weather is extreme.  
  • Though a fresh supply of water comes highly recommended, leaving cat food in the catio is a no-no because it can attract unwanted critters which might try to get into the wired enclosure and harm your cat.
  • Build your catio on even flooring that your cat will not be able to dig through and escape from. Stone, grass, and wooden floors are good options, while dirt should be avoided so that your pet doesn’t come into the house with muddy paws. If you’re building a catio above ground, remember to support it with heavy duty angle brackets screwed into your house.
  • Put into consideration your cat’s age and personality when you build your catio. Your senior cat might not be able to leap up to high perches like he used to (he would probably need ramps or pet stairs instead), while a more energetic kitten would appreciate toys and shelves placed at different heights. 
  • Make sure your cat is healthy and has up-to-date vaccinations, deworming, and fecal testing before letting him explore the catio.

Have fun building a catio! Aside from the physical, mental, and emotional benefits a catio will give your cat, building the enclosure will also give you an opportunity to make something fun with your hands, and test your observation skills in putting together the best catio your pet will enjoy. If you throw in a lounge chair or a wooden bench, it can even serve as an open-air space where you and your cat can make more memories together.

15 ways to take the best pet paw-traits

Full disclosure: Waldo and Salsa are used to fawning photographer entourages every single day – because we can’t get enough of Waldo’s bluey freckles or Salsa’s little mo. How about your four-legged friend? Smiling, running, cuddling, hiding, jumping, snoozing—how many of these types of images have you captured of your beloved pet? Pets are integral Read More...

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Full disclosure: Waldo and Salsa are used to fawning photographer entourages every single day – because we can’t get enough of Waldo’s bluey freckles or Salsa’s little mo. How about your four-legged friend? Smiling, running, cuddling, hiding, jumping, snoozing—how many of these types of images have you captured of your beloved pet? Pets are integral members of a family, and it’s no surprise that animal owners take countless pictures of their four-legged friends to share with their family, friends, and fellow animal lovers. 

Make your pet’s images stand out from the pack by following these 15 quick and easy photography tips. No matter what mood he’s in, what he’s up to, or where he’s currently at, you can capture him in his best form with a simple camera, a few adjustments, and loads of creativity. Trying these tips and tricks will produce beautiful paw-traits that will serve as lasting mementos of your pet.

1 Take pictures when he’s in the mood

The quickest way to produce the best pet photos is figuring out when your pet is most sociable. It could be just before his first meal, right after one of her relaxing cat naps, or as he eagerly greets you when you come home from work. Study your pet’s regular schedule, and in it, you’ll find pockets of opportunities for gorgeous photos.

If you’re really set on taking photos on a particular time or day, make the experience a fun one for your pet by rewarding him with toys and treats once you get your ideal shots.

A kiss on the nose is definitely one sign of cat affection

2 Make use of natural light

Use the sun’s glorious rays to add a shiny sheen to your pet’s fur, coat, or hair. The best time to shoot when you’re outdoors is a few hours after sunrise or before sunset (also called the golden hour). Shooting midday would cast harsh shadows on your pet’s face or body. When you’re indoors, you can add a healthy glow to your pet by opening your shade or window to let natural light stream in.

The sunlight gives this rabbit’s body a warm, healthy glow

3 Bring him to his favourite place

Get ready to see pure bliss on your pet’s face once you take him to his favourite spot, whether it’s by the sea or at the neighbourhood bark park. Give him a chance to run around and explore the spot, and when he’s settled down, start snapping. Be sure to include the background to give more context to the photo.

This happy pooch can’t get enough of the sun, sand, and surf

4 Sink down to his level 

Sit on the floor or go down on all fours to capture your pet at a closer and more intimate level. Do a bit of stretching beforehand, so your muscles don’t cramp up as you sustain that low or awkward position. When you’re ready, move down in a silent and unrushed manner so as not to startle him. You’ll be rewarded with a glimpse of the world through your pet’s point of view, and a stunning direct gaze to boot!

Let the staring contest begin

5 Let him experience something new

A new flavor, a new season, a new toy—all of these can elicit candid reactions from your pet depending on how much he enjoys or dislikes it. Watch his reaction as his paws step over a fresh pile of frozen snow or how he sniffs and licks a homemade treat you baked just for him. 

A smattering of snow adds character to this dog’s face

6 Catch him in his relaxed state

Some animals aren’t keen on people invading their personal space or weird objects (i.e. your mobile phone or digital SLR) thrusted at their face. Make your pet feel comfortable by acquainting him with your camera and letting him feel that you’re just there to enjoy the moment. Refrain from over-exciting him with toys or calling out his name repeatedly. This way, you can capture him at his most languorous state. Watch for slow blinking, relaxed ears, tongue lolling, purring, lying down, stretching, kneading, and/or sleeping.

A cat’s flexible body has inspired some yoga moves

7 Show off what makes him special

Zone in on what makes your pet unusual. Is it his striped fur, her two distinctly coloured eyes, or his extra paw pad? Take pictures of it in varying angles and in different backgrounds to make this trait stand out!

The striped black and brown hair of this guinea pig pops out against the green grass

8 Clean up the setting 

The background also adds to the overall composition of your paw-trait. Before shooting your pet at home, tidy up the area and remove unnecessary objects (no one wants to see a dirty sock next to your pet!). You can choose to include home elements to liven up the space, but make sure they’re pet-friendly. You wouldn’t want your pet to accidentally munch on a poisonous plant!

A white wall and potted plant are all this kitty needs

9 Let him interact with his best friend

Add another animal to the mix and see how playful or sweet your pet gets. The two may engage in playful nips and run circles around each other (until one of them eventually gets tired) or they may opt to sniff each other and sit side by side (a prime photo opportunity!). Whichever the case, make sure the animal is someone your pet is already in great terms with. If your pet and his fur friend are known to be highly active playmates, it’s best to use your camera’s action or burst mode to capture their fun moments together. 

Double Fido’s fun with game of tag with his best fur friend

10 Dress him up 

Take advantage of special seasons or celebratory events to jazz up your pet’s look. You can make use of simple outdoor elements such as freshly picked leaves or flowers to level up your pet’s style quotient, or go full-on costume designer and set decorator in time for his birthday!

A branch of leaves shows spring has sprung
Go all out for your pet’s birthday with gifts, treats, and decors

11 Capture his changing moods

Go beyond the usual happy paw-traits and try capturing your pet when he’s bashful, pensive, or even annoyed. Clue in on his current emotion by observing the way his ears, eyes, and mouth appear, where he places his paws, and his other body movements.

This puppy is feeling shy for the camera

12 Frame him in a unique way

Instead of taking your pet’s photo in front of a plain wall, make use of his favourite nooks and crannies to show different perspectives. Capture your new pup inside his doghouse or let your cat play hide-and-seek with you through her cat tree enclosure. You can also frame your pet using paper boxes, wooden gates, window sills, and more!

Peek-a-boo, he sees you

13 Let him be with his choice hooman

Bring out the big guns by placing your pet next to his all-time favourite human. Expect to generate a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings as you capture their tender moments together. After you take enough pictures, you’re more than welcome to join in on the snugglefest.

Somebunny loves your kid, and it shows

14 Make use of textures and colours

Zoom in on your furbaby when he’s wrapped in a bright-coloured blanket, casually lounging on a textured rug, or standing on a heavily patterned tile floor. The different tints, textures, prints, and designs will be a welcome contrast to his hair colour.

The pink blanket contrasts with kitty’s white fur (but matches her nose and ears!)

15 Tell a story

Join your pet for a fun self-portrait. Instead of simply taking a selfie (a cop-out, in our opinion), take it to the next level and shoot it from a different angle (try taking a picture from a higher angle) and with accompanying props. The result would be something that you would want to print, frame, and display for everyone to see.

Just another day at the park

Which pet photography techniques work best for your pet? Let us know by sharing your comments below!

Buyer’s guide: 6 types of dog collars

Choosing a dog collar is not as simple as selecting a stylish one that catches your eye. It involves assessing your needs as a dog owner, picking the right one that fits your pooch’s size and activities, and most importantly, complying with the pet ownership requirements of your country. This guide will acquaint you with Read More...

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Choosing a dog collar is not as simple as selecting a stylish one that catches your eye. It involves assessing your needs as a dog owner, picking the right one that fits your pooch’s size and activities, and most importantly, complying with the pet ownership requirements of your country.

This guide will acquaint you with the different types of dog collars, their various functions, and some noteworthy dog collar products sold in the market today.

Types of dog collar

1 Flat Collar

Practical and durable for everyday use, the flat collar is the most common type of collar used by dog parents. It comes in a flat strip of material (usually made of cotton, leather, nylon, or polyester), a quick-release buckle or belt closure, and a D-ring loop that can be connected to a leash. Sometimes, an identification tag (to help identify the pet and its owner) or extra padding (to provide maximum comfort) is included.

Sold in an assortment of colours, designs, and sizes, this type of collar is relatively easy to put on or take off your pet’s neck. It is also known to evenly distribute the pressure on your dog’s windpipe when he pulls at his leash. Dogs that stay mostly indoors can use flat collars made out of cotton, while more active, outdoorsy ones can benefit from using flat collars consisting of leather, polyester, nylon, neoprene, or biothane materials.

Up your dog’s style quotient with this multi-coloured leather and polyester webbing flat collar by Blueberry Pet.
Accentuated with spike studs, this Good 2 Go Black Staffy Leather Dog Collar will make your large-sized pooch look and feel stylish.

2 Rolled collar

The rolled collar practically has the same parts of the flat collar except for the fabric strip that goes around your dog’s neck. Instead of a flat strip of fabric, this type features a rounded piece that looks thinner in plain sight, but is actually thicker in diameter. Commonly made out of leather or faux leather, the rolled fabric creates a stronger and more durable collar. 

A long-haired dog will benefit from having this type of collar since it is said to reduce matting, flat spots, and coat damage. However, the rolled collar isn’t recommended for pooches who are known pullers since it applies more pressure on his windpipe when he tugs the leash.   

Circle T’s handcrafted Latigo Leather Round Dog Collars can be worn by dogs with long hair or sensitive skin.
Collar Direct Personalized Rolled Round Leather Dog Collar comes with a customisable ID tag. Up to three lines of  information can be laser engraved on it.

3 Slip collar

This type of dog collar doesn’t have the typical buckle or belt. Instead, you’ll have to insert one end of the collar through a ring that acts as its lock. The ring is then placed at the back of your dog’s neck and connected to a leash. Common materials used for slip collars include braided and rolled fabric, nylon rope, or metal chain.

The slip collar is used by experienced trainers to correct dog behaviour. When your dog pulls on his leash, it should appropriately tighten around his neck without hurting him. The pressure will discourage him from repeating unwanted actions. If you plan on using a slip collar, always use it with proper training and during supervised times, or it may cause strangulation or permanent damage to your dog’s body.

Available in 10 fun hues, Mendota Command Slip Collars are made of braided fabric, leather accents, and metal slip rings.
Measuring at 609 x 3mm, the Animates Chain Dog Collar suits pooches that require more discipline training. 

4 Martingale collar

This double-loop collar was originally created for dogs with narrower heads and thicker necks (such as Greyhounds and Whippets) that could easily slip out of traditional flat collars. The first adjustable loop goes around your dog’s neck, while the second loop holds the ends of the first loop via two metal hoops. The second loop serves as a moving triangular section that tightens and loosens around your dog’s neck when needed. 

The martingale collar is an effective collar to use for dogs that are in the process of learning leash manners or those that are easily distracted by other outside factors. It comes in a combination of materials such as heavy-duty nylon and steel chain. Because of its more complex design, this type of collar shouldn’t be left on your dog when he is unattended or taking an off-leash walk. The collar loop might accidentally get caught on something and cause injury to your pooch.

We’re in full support of Max and Neo, a brand that donates one collar to a dog rescue for every identical collar sold! Their Stainless Steel Chain Martingale Collar comes in five sizes and seven beautiful colours.
An affordable option, the PetSafe Martingale Collar reduces the risk of your dog slipping out of his collar.

5 Smart collar

Invest in a smart collar if you’d like to know more about what’s happening to your dog when you’re not around. With it, you can instantly find out where he’s at (GPS tracking), what he’s up to (activities and behaviour monitoring), or how he’s feeling (temperature tracking). While pricier smart collars have impressive high-tech features, others are presented as affordable add-ons to be attached to your existing dog collar.

The Whistle Go Explore is a convenient health and location tracker for your dog. The waterproof device can be easily attached to a collar and has real-time location tracking, instant escape alerts, and three night light modes.
The Link AKC Smart Dog Collar (in classic or sport design) is a fun accessory that’ll help keep your dog safe and healthy. With it, you can monitor your dog’s location, activities, and vet records from your phone!

6 Elizabethan collar

Not all dogs need medical collars, but it merits a mention because your pooch may need to wear it at least once in his life. Inspired by the ruff worn during Elizabethan times, the Elizabethan collar or e-collar is a truncated cone that is placed over a dog’s head to help him heal faster. It serves as an obstruction that prevents him from scratching his head and neck as well as licking and chewing his body—which isn’t good if he has a major wound, skin allergy, or fresh suture somewhere. Commonly made from foam, nylon, plastic, or cardboard, the cone is secured around your pet’s collar through adjustable strings or straps. It can be worn by your dog 24/7 until he has completely healed.

With a lycra neckline and flexible collar shape, the KONG EZ Soft Collar is a machine-washable e-collar option for your dog.
A great alternative to rigid plastic cones, the All Four Paws Comfy Cone is made with patented foam-backed padded nylon and velcro closures. It comes in XS to XXL sizes.

In conclusion

Talk to your veterinarian to discover the best collar options for your pup! Do the necessary research to make sure you choose the right collar for your dog’s body type, temperament, and lifestyle. Be a responsible paw parent by regularly checking if his collar fits right. Most importantly, make sure to use the appropriate collars that will not harm your pooch in any way.

Animal Talk with Dr Jo Righetti

Pet Problems Solved is an online resource for pet parents that provides practical tips on how to solve common pet behaviour problems. Dr Jo Righetti, the Australian animal behaviourist behind the website, is passionate about helping pet owners enjoy harmonious relationships with their four-legged companions. Stay tuned to her website for enlightening articles about living Read More...

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Dr Jo Righetti with her pet Fire

Pet Problems Solved is an online resource for pet parents that provides practical tips on how to solve common pet behaviour problems. Dr Jo Righetti, the Australian animal behaviourist behind the website, is passionate about helping pet owners enjoy harmonious relationships with their four-legged companions. Stay tuned to her website for enlightening articles about living with dogs, cats, and other animals

Waldo’s Friends chatted with Dr Jo to learn more about her career as an animal behaviourist and to find out how people can be more responsible pet owners in this day and age.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): In a previous Instagram post, you mentioned being around cats since you were eight years old. We’d love to know how this paved the way for you to become an animal behaviourist.

Dr Jo Righetti (DJR): My first and best present ever was a cat! My brother gave me a tabby cat called Tony. I have since given each of my three sons a cat on their eighth birthday! Watching my cat and trying to interact with him (as well as other family pets) gave me a love of animal behaviour. I studied zoology to learn more about this, then specialised in the behaviour of animals. All animal behaviour fascinates me, even humans!

Eight-year-old Jo with her cat Tony

WF: What made you decide to shift from academia/wildlife to focus on pets/animal behaviour?

DJR: When I was studying (a long time ago, in the 80s), people had not even started studying pet behaviour. I chose to study ethology or animal behaviour and looked at hens, mice, penguins, and prawns. My PhD was on native Australian marsupials. After this, I chose to start studying pets. Pets were my passion, and working with them fitted into my lifestyle as I also had two children by then. Plus, I had also completed a diploma in counselling. This was very useful for understanding human behaviour, an essential when dealing with pets.

WF: With pet ownership on the rise, what do you think are the most important things animal owners should always remember when it comes to their pets?

DJR: 1) Be in tune with your pet’s needs such as appropriate food, water, shelter, vet care, and companionship. Get the basics right. 2) Then become in tune with their behaviour. Work out what is normal for the species and for your individual pet. Anything unusual will be a red flag. 3) Add a little extra to enhance your bond with pets, e.g. a new activity together or volunteer to help other animals.

Playing throw with her pet Chilli

WF: What would you say are the most common problems first-time pet parents deal with that they don’t usually address correctly?

DJR: Sadly, many new owners believe that they must discipline their pet. This is not how pets learn. They learn by being rewarded for desirable behaviour. They are not plotting to take over the human world. They are just trying to make their own world work. Pets are opportunistic and their needs must be met. Buying designer goods does not necessarily meet their needs. Giving them your time does.

WF: These days, it’s common for people to live in high rise apartments. What advice would you give pet owners who live in such homes? How can they make their pets feel at home and not go stir crazy within these confined spaces?

DJR: Attend to your pets’ needs. They need exercise and environmental enrichment. Offer views, different activities, and food-releasing toys. Think of what a pet is missing in living in these surroundings, then provide it. For example, indoor cats may enjoy cat grasses. Pets, however, are often happiest with companionship, so you can have a happy pet in a tiny house or a miserable one in a mansion. It’s about attending to their needs and finding a lifestyle that suits you both.

On a related note, I run a free workshop called “Strata Paws” with City of Sydney, giving tips on keeping pets happy in apartments.

Helping pet owners through engaging talks

WF: In a video interview, you mentioned that classical and reggae music can be used to calm down dogs. Do you have go-to songs that you highly recommend? When and how often should these songs be played?

DJR: I like to use lots of different playlists so that I or my pets don’t get bored. Try something new! If your pet needs calming, then Johann Christian Bach is great. Leave them with some music when alone, every day, or every second day (which I do). If you want to dance with your pet (and they with you!), then choose your favourite song. Pets will never critique your singing!

WF: What inspired you to release ebooks on dog and cat problems?

DJR: I keep answering the same questions about common dog problems—barking, anxiety, and aggression—so I put all the potential solutions together in an easy-to-read, inexpensive ebook about each topic. Because I love trying different things, I tackled the most common cat problem, toileting, and published this in hard copy form entitled Cat Toileting Problems Solved. Many people still prefer to read “real” paper books, but ebooks are great for readership around the world.

Dr Jo’s ebooks on dog problems

WF: Over the course of your 20-year experience, what has been the strangest animal behaviour you’ve witnessed or been asked about? What was your advice about it?

DJR: Well, I love the millennials’ questions about pets and love, and sleeping with pets and new partners. Questions like “Will my cat be scarred by watching us in bed?” and “Is it normal that my boyfriend lets his dog kiss him on the lips?” They are so embarrassed and I try not to laugh! Pets generally do not mind your sleeping arrangements, and if they do (dog’s biting, for example), seek some expert help. Questions like this spring from love and that is a good thing.

WF: Let’s talk about your pets. How did they come into your life?

DJR: Mew is my oldest cat. She is almost 20 and was my eldest son’s eighth birthday present. Chilli dog is 10 years old and was chosen three months after the death of my Dalmatian Chilli. We went from saying “Let’s have a break from a dog, do lots of travel, and have an easy life” to saying “Home is empty without a dog! Let’s rescue one!” The younger cats Earth and Wind came after the deaths of two other cats (one of natural, old age causes, and the other with diabetic complications). Wildfire was a nine-month-old rescue cat who was, and still is, a wild boy. A very affectionate, but wild boy! I have worked with and volunteered with Animal Welfare League NSW and I am an Ambassador of Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA), so rescuing animals will always be my main aim. My life is not complete without pets. They keep me busy but well loved!

Just chilling with Earth

WF: Have your current or previous pets ever exhibited difficult behaviour that you’ve had to change?

DJR: All the time! Wildfire could not be patted when I took him on. Now I can touch him almost all over but no one else can! Chilli dog is a red hot chilli dog. No one will ever burgle our home! We have had to teach her to accept certain people, as when we adopted her she had certain dislikes of humans. Rewarding calm behaviour is the key.

WF: How do your pets help you become an even better animal behaviourist?

DJR: My pets help me learn about new behaviours. They help me understand new ways of teaching them. They help me relax at the end of the day—or in the middle, if a cat wants to sit on me!

Follow Dr Jo Righetti on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. Ask for advice about your pet by visiting the Pet Problems Solved official website or Facebook account.

Buyer’s guide: How to choose the right collar for your brand new puppy

Soft collars, faux leather collars, embroidered or patchwork collars – no matter what your pooch’s preferred style is, a dog collar is the top must-have in every puppy parent’s new dog kit. It’s an essential accessory that completes your dog’s look (who doesn’t love a little swag!), as well as a legal requirement in most Read More...

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Soft collars, faux leather collars, embroidered or patchwork collars – no matter what your pooch’s preferred style is, a dog collar is the top must-have in every puppy parent’s new dog kit. It’s an essential accessory that completes your dog’s look (who doesn’t love a little swag!), as well as a legal requirement in most countries.   

This dog collar buyers’ guide for brand new puppies covers everything you need to know about finding and choosing the right collar for your puppy:

  • Why your dog needs a collar
  • Parts of a dog collar
  • Dog collar extras
  • How to choose the right collar for your dog

Why your dog needs a collar

Having a collar instantly tells people that your dog isn’t a stray. It serves as a means of identifying your dog and his pawrent, with his name stated at the front of the ID tag, and your name and contact details placed at the back of the tag. 

Aside from identification purposes, a dog collar is also commonly used when you need to take your dog outdoors. It is attached to a leash so that you can walk or run beside your dog without worrying about him going astray or being too far from you. It also serves as a restraining tool that limits your dog’s movement and keeps him away from other animals, people, objects, and vehicles. 

Collars are also used for medical purposes. An Elizabethan collar, which is commonly known as the cone of shame, prevents a dog from scratching, licking, or picking on his wound. Meanwhile, a flea collar contains insecticide that helps fight off fleas and ticks.

Based on your dog’s personality, lifestyle, and activities, you can choose to have more than one collar for him. Fashionable dogs can don decorative collars for special events, while active dogs can sport waterproof, durable collars that can handle any kind of weather or harsh element. 

Parts of a dog collar

From flat collars to Martingales, there are many types of dog collars available in the market. The most common parts of a collar include the strap, the buckle, the D-ring loop, and the ID tag. 


The strap goes around the neck of your dog so it should be soft against your pet’s fur yet sturdy enough to withstand tugging. Sold in a variety of colours and prints, it can be made of materials such as cotton, nylon, leather, polyester, oilcloth, and/or metal. Make sure to choose the right material depending on your dog’s size. If you have a small dog, chances are you won’t need a collar made out of heavy or tough materials. On the other hand, pawrents with big dogs can invest in collars made of long-lasting leather or nylon.


As for the buckle, a quick-release clasp could be made of plastic, aluminum, or metal. Other collars have a belt buckle-like closure that takes more time to put on and take off. Meanwhile, a breakaway collar has a safety clip that breaks apart when excessive force is applied, protecting your dog from accidental choking or strangulation. 

D-ring loop

Shaped like the letter D, this metal loop is usually included in the dog collar so that it can be easily attached to a leash. 

ID tag

Whether printed or engraved, the personalized ID tag is usually made of a small waterproof stainless steel strip or charm that dangles over your pet’s neck. Some dog tags also feature printed information on the buckle itself. Aside from providing information about you and your pet, it can also share medical information such as your dog’s proof of rabies vaccination or his microchip registry. Regularly check if the information is readable on your dog’s ID tag. Otherwise, replace it immediately or it will lose its purpose.

Dog collar extras

Some collars go the extra mile by having additional accessories such as bells (so that your dog doesn’t creep up on you ever again), camera (so that you can take pictures and videos from your dog’s point of view while you’re creating new adventures together), GPS (so that you can track your pet wherever he goes), and reflective, LED, or glow in the dark straps (so that he can be easily seen when you go on nighttime walks or if he likes hiding in dark corners at home). Depending on your needs and your dog’s habits, you can choose to add any of these features to his customisable collar.  

How to choose the right collar for your dog

In finding the right collar size for your dog, two factors are considered: 1) your dog’s head size, and 2) his neck size. The collar’s strap should be comfortably fastened high on his neck and shouldn’t slip over his head. As a general rule, the collar should feel snug around his neck. To know if his collar fits well, you should be able to slip one to two fingers between his neck and the collar. Also, take note of your dog’s breathing and see if it changes after you put the collar around his neck.

Measure your dog’s neck by using a clothing tape measure. Wrap the tape measure around his neck and add one (for small-sized dogs), two (for medium-sized dogs), or three inches (for large-sized dogs). Verify the size of his neck by measuring his current collar. You should also put into consideration how much fur he loses after his grooming session. Find adjustable collars that can accommodate his fur length and/or growing size. 

Extra small to small dogs with necks measuring eight to 15 inches should ideally wear ¾-inch thick collars, while medium to large dogs with necks measuring 15 to 30 inches can wear 1 to 1.5 inch-thick collars. It’s advisable not to use thick or heavy collars on smaller dogs since the weight of it may not be comfortable around their necks.

To recap

Now that you know why dog collars are necessary, you should definitely get one (or more!) for your adorable little pup. As a responsible pet owner, you should constantly check to see if your dog’s collar fits well (especially since he is still growing) and if its features are working properly (you don’t want your dog to suddenly break free during a walk because of a faulty buckle or a worn strap). Have fun dog collar shopping, and give your brand new pup a big squish from Waldo’s Friends!

9 fundraising ideas for animal shelters

Animal shelters play a critical role in keeping animals safe. They are a haven for abandoned and abused animals. Running an animal shelter is no easy feat. It costs money to cater to the animals’ health, food, and general welfare. So how do you run an animal shelter without breaking the bank? You fundraise. Traditional Read More...

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Animal shelters play a critical role in keeping animals safe. They are a haven for abandoned and abused animals. Running an animal shelter is no easy feat. It costs money to cater to the animals’ health, food, and general welfare. So how do you run an animal shelter without breaking the bank? You fundraise. Traditional fundraisers cost lots of money and take longer to set up, but you can implement other creative strategies to save you both time and money.

Here are some useful and inexpensive fundraising ideas that are worth a try:

1. Dog walk

One of the cheapest ways to host a dog fundraiser is the good old dog walking idea. All you need are a few volunteers plus a clearly mapped out, safe route. Pet owners interested in your cause can bring their dogs and pay to have them walked or you could create a pick-up route and help them take care of the day’s dog walking for a fees. 

Check out how Every Dog – Dog Training and Consulting is doing this to urge dog owners to donate funds while learning something new with their pets. Their special Take the Lead dog walk fundraiser is open to everyone, with an instructor leading the training exercises focused on good leash manners, social skills, and training with distractions.

2. Dog washing and/or grooming

Another easy and fun way to raise funds for an animal shelter is by holding a dog washing and/or grooming day. Just like a dog run, this event is relatively easy and inexpensive to plan. All you need are a couple of professional dog groomers and a clean, animal-friendly space. Pet owners seeking to contribute to your cause can bring their pooches and pay to have them washed or groomed. The pet owners get their dogs cleaned up, and you raise funds for an animal shelter. Win-win for everyone!

See how Canine & Co. is crafting their own dog wash fundraiser to support two charities: Candlelighters and Huddersfield Feral & Strays. Fifteen-minute dog washatons, raffles, games, and snacks are provided throughout the entire day.

3. Sale of merchandise

What things have the potential to trigger impulse buying in pet owners and animal lovers? If you have the answer to this question, then you can have a successful animal shelter fundraiser by selling merchandise.

When selling items, go for items such as t-shirts, bags, and caps that include your rescue’s logo. Selling such wearable merchandise helps creates awareness for both your organisation and your mission. Just make sure that the print is something that resonates with dog owners.

Alternatively, you can sell fast-moving pet products such as dog collars or toys for a higher margin. Most pet owners won’t mind buying from you for a slightly higher price if you make it clear that it’s for charity.

Detroit Dog Rescue has some cool shirts, branded onesies, illustrated hoodies, and calendars featuring their rescues that you can get inspiration from. See more in their shop.

4. Bark park

Besides having a catchy name, bark parks provide the perfect setting for an animal fundraiser. Bark parks are parks that invite dog lovers and their pets to socialise and play. When using a bark park for a fundraiser, you can organise fun games that dog owners can partake in with their pets, and charge a small fee. Most dog owners will be willing to pay a fee to play fun games with their dogs, especially when the funds raised go to a noble cause such as an animal shelter.

Skinner Bark Park offers a safe place for its community dogs to socialize off-leash. Aside from asking for online donations, they hold seasonal events to raise money for the park’s cleaning and maintenance fees.

5. Bake sales

For your next animal shelter fundraiser, why not appeal to dog lovers’ taste buds? Bake sales make for a great fundraising idea because they combine two amazing thingssnacks and dogs! With a bake sale, you can utilise your creativity and sell dog-themed muffins and cakes. All you need is a good baker and a clean, spacious place where pet owners can hang out with their dogs as they enjoy the snacks. It’d help if you can bake to save on hiring a baker. You can supplement your bake sale by selling your muffins and cakes online or even taking custom orders and charging more for them.

To generate funds to sustain their rescue, NANNA Animal Rescue urges their followers to support their bake sale by selling a few of their baked goodies at home or at work.

6. Partnering with schools

School-animal shelter partnerships make for a great fundraising strategy, but they require a lot of planning. How this works is that an animal shelter partners with a school and assigns a pet to each class. Children can then raise funds for pet supplies while bonding with their new pet. This fundraising strategy is beneficial to both the school and the animal shelter involved. The school gets a positive image within the community while teaching children about responsibility towards animals. The animal shelter, on the other hand, gets exposure and funds to cater for the animals.

Get ideas for kid-friendly classroom programs, workshops, and shelter tours from Animal Humane Society, which assists in caring for more than 23,000 animals in need.

7. Raffles

Raffles are an inexpensive and fun way to raise funds for almost any cause. Knowing your potential donors’ need is crucial in raffling since you need to raffle off things that interest them. In the case of an animal shelter, you’d need to raffle things that appeal to pet owners such as dog toys and grooming packages. You can sell raffle tickets at a low price, then announce the winners at a small party preferably in a dog park.

Darna Animal Sanctuary‘s unique raffle appeals to dog owners who would like a tattoo or watercolour painting of their pet. The funds raised will help secure a new sanctuary and build fences that will hold the animals in.

8. Dog sitting services

Most dog owners are in constant need of a pet sitter, which makes pet sitting a great animal fundraising strategy. Whether you run an animal shelter or you are an animal lover fundraising for a local shelter, you can pet sit to raise funds. All you need is some marketing skills to promote your pet sitting services. Alternatively, you can start by pet sitting for pet owners who know you or ask them for referrals.

9. Pet photo shoots

Pet owners love keeping photos of their pets, even more so when the pictures are taken professionally. Why not capitalise on this to fundraise for an animal shelter? To get started, you’d need a photo booth, a digital SLR camera, and some photography skills. If you have access to a park with decent scenery, then you can eliminate the need for a photo booth and turn it into an outdoor photo shoot. Not only will a pet photo shoot help you raise funds for a noble cause, but it will also provide the participating pet owners with something to remember the day by.

Topeka Spay/Neuter Project partnered with a professional photographer to take beautiful photos of pets and their owners in exchange for a nominal fee that would provide food, medical care, and shelter to unwanted kittens.

In conclusion

Planning a fundraiser is not easy, but you can turn it into an inexpensive and fun affair for everyone involved. Whether you are an animal shelter owner or just someone who is passionate about animals, you can implement any of these nine easy ideas. Go ahead and be inspired to fundraise for the animal shelters in your locale today!

Things you should know about adopting a senior dog

Making the decision to adopt a pet can be both exciting and difficult. Choosing which dog to bring home can be overwhelming. There are so many different choices between animal shelters, breeds, levels of obedience, size, gender, special needs, and of course, age. Unfortunately, many people overlook adopting a senior dog for various reasons such Read More...

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Making the decision to adopt a pet can be both exciting and difficult. Choosing which dog to bring home can be overwhelming. There are so many different choices between animal shelters, breeds, levels of obedience, size, gender, special needs, and of course, age. Unfortunately, many people overlook adopting a senior dog for various reasons such as vet bills. The most common reason is that many people simply just want a puppy. In this article, we will discuss what defines a senior dog, what to expect, and why you should consider welcoming a senior dog into your home.

What is a senior dog?

Many think defining a senior dog is as simple as recognizing the age of the dog and multiplying it by seven. However, it’s actually a lot more complicated. Dogs can technically be considered a senior between the ages of five and 10 years old. However, this number varies greatly depending on different aspects such as the overall health of the dog, state of their organs, species, breed, and size.

Outside of these factors, there are other ways that can determine if a dog is reaching his or her senior years. Many of these signs aren’t hard to spot because they are quite similar to people. For example, senior dogs can experience dementia which could cause them to look lost or confused in familiar spaces. Other examples include loss of mobility or not getting excited to go play at the dog park or go for walks. While this isn’t guaranteed in every senior dog, it is just some of the common signs dogs show us when getting older.

It is important to remember that dogs are as unique as we are. The way that ageing will impact them is incredibly unique. Just because a dog is listed as a senior at the pet rescue does not mean they will be having accidents, require expensive medications and frequent vet trips, or that they won’t be able to walk, see, or hear properly. There are dogs that are considered seniors that are more active and in better health than those that are considered puppies and there is nothing wrong with that. The senior label is simply an easy way for shelters and adoptive parents to see where the animal is in their life and what potential special needs you can expect now or in the future when adopting this dog.

What to expect when adopting a senior dog

Senior dogs are some of the most unappreciated and dismissed dogs in animal shelters. This is because many people worry about large and frequent vet bills as well as a shorter life span, which is never an easy thing to deal with no matter how long your companion has been in your lives. While all of these reasons are completely understandable, senior dogs need a loving forever home too.

When adopting a senior dog, there are many upsides you can expect that might even make a senior the perfect match for you. For instance, they’re perfect if you are a quiet person who likes to relax or you have a loud and hectic household full of high energy people. Senior dogs are incredibly mellow, and in a lot of cases, they’re very low maintenance. While they still require regular bathroom breaks, they won’t necessarily require the amount of exercise you would be expected to give a puppy. Speaking of bathroom breaks, senior dogs are almost always potty trained which can be incredibly appealing to those who don’t want to deal with the process of potty training a puppy.

While their age may turn off some people, it can actually be a blessing in disguise. When you bring home a senior dog, you aren’t in for any surprises. You won’t take home a 25-pound puppy and end up with a 100-pound beast within a few weeks. What you see is what you get. Additionally, they are very wise and know all of the rules and what is expected of them. They understand that they should ask to go outside to use the bathroom, they know how to walk nicely on and off a leash, and they almost always understand that chewing should be left to toys and not furniture or personal items. Senior dogs are incredibly good listeners and despite popular belief, you can definitely teach an old dog new tricks.

Another worry people have when adopting a senior is the bonding experience. Many express worry that because the dog isn’t a puppy they won’t bond to their adoptive parent. However, in a lot of cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many senior dogs have been abandoned and have special needs that require a bit more care. This can actually create a stronger bond than you would expect. While it makes more sense that your bond would grow stronger with age, it can also grow stronger with needs. These dogs know they have been saved, they know you are helping them, and they appreciate it.

The most important aspect of adopting a senior dog is that you are saving a life. These dogs are overlooked and almost always end up at the bottom of the animal shelters’ least desired list. Even when they are completely healthy and ready to explore the world, they could end up being unwanted because of their age and that simply isn’t fair. Whether a senior dog has one month or five years left, they deserve to live out their last years as their best years in a warm, safe, and loving home.

Photo by Ruby Schmank/Unsplash

How to take care of your senior dog

Every dog is as unique. They all come with their own individual strengths and weaknesses. When adopting a senior dog, it is important that you are aware of all of his current medical issues and overall state of health. The best way to do this is to talk to the animal shelter and the vets involved. Additionally, it is always highly recommended that you take the dog for a vet check-up as soon you have adopted him. This will ensure that everything is up to date and nothing has happened since the last check-up.

The most important thing you can do to take care of your senior dog is to ensure they get regular check-ups. Check-ups are the best way to find lumps, bumps, and any other issues that aren’t showing symptoms. Senior dogs experience ageing in various ways at different stages in life, so there is no guarantee what your dog will or will not experience. Paying close attention to your companion and truly learning their behaviour is the best way to ensure they are doing okay. Some of the things you can watch out for are abnormal cognitive behaviours such as looking or acting lost and confused. Additionally, older dogsespecially ones that have been surrendered or abandonedcan experience depression and anxiety. This can wreak havoc on your dog’s well-being and should be treated like any other disease or illness.

Monitoring how much they eat, drink, and how frequently they use the bathroom is also important. You want to make sure they are getting enough hydration and nutrition, as well as using the bathroom enough. Discharges, inability to urinate, and abnormal bowel movements are all signs that something might be wrong. Additionally, dental health can tell you a lot about age, history, and health. Dental disease is common in senior dogs and while it isn’t always serious, you should keep an eye on it. Bad breath, inflamed gums, and difficulty breathing can be signs of ageing as well as underlying health problems that should be examined.

Caring for a senior pet involves a bit more than just watching out for abnormalities in their health. In fact, one of the best ways to take care of your new companion is to ensure they are getting clean water, healthy quality food, and adequate exercise. The first step you should take before bringing home your senior companion is to ensure that your home is geriatric proof. This involves making sure that any dangerous spots are guarded such as stairs and pools. Furthermore, if your dog suffers from vision or hearing loss it is important you make the home as safe and easily accessible as possible. Hearing and vision loss can seem like impossible problems to deal with, but dogs actually handle them well once they learn the layout of the home and adjust to their new routines.

The process of adopting a pet can be incredibly stressful, and senior dogs are no exception. But with the right amount of preparation and support, you can adopt a senior dog with the least amount of stress and worry. The next time you are at the animal shelter looking to adopt a pet, consider a senior dog. It is easy to look at the downsides and think they might end up being expensive or sickly, but that isn’t always the case. It is guaranteed, however, that saving a senior dog’s life will be one of the most priceless and rewarding things you’ll ever experience.


20 things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint

Whether we are aware of it or not, we all invariably contribute to the world’s carbon footprint. Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.,” carbon footprint comes from day-to-day activities that require energy. Energy Read More...

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Whether we are aware of it or not, we all invariably contribute to the world’s carbon footprint. Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.,” carbon footprint comes from day-to-day activities that require energy. Energy is produced by the burning of fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas, which then result in greenhouse gas emissions that keep the heat trapped within the earth’s atmosphere.

Be an everyday hero by following 20 of our suggestions below to lessen your carbon footprint! 

1. Walk or ride a bicycle.

Did you know that 15% of manmade carbon dioxide comes from cars, trucks, planes, and other transportation vehicles? If you are going somewhere nearby, opt to take a stroll or ride your bicycle to get to your destination. Not only are you helping prevent global warming, but you’re also getting in some much-needed exercise for the day![/vc_column_text]

Photo by Chris Barbalis/Unsplash

2. Take care of your car.

A well-maintained vehicle benefits you and the planet. By regularly having your engine tuned, checking your oxygen sensors, and inflating your tires, your car emits fewer toxic fumes and improves its fuel use by up to 40%.

3. Drive smart.

To help you avoid traffic jams, use a GPS navigation app such as Waze or Google Maps that shows you the quickest route you can take. Also, refrain from unnecessarily stepping on the acceleration pedal and remove excess cargo (whether it’s on the roof or in your trunk) to increase fuel economy.

4. Combine trips.

Schedule a day to do all of your errands with other family members, or take turns carpooling with officemates. Air pollution will be undoubtedly less with fewer cars out on the streets. Plus, you get to save money on gas and parking fees!

5. Lessen air travel.

On average, a commercial plane produces 53.3 pounds of carbon dioxide for every mile flown. Compare that to a tree that can only absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. That’s a doozy! If you travel for work, why not schedule video chat conferences instead of face-to-face meetings? But if you really need to fly, select non-stop flights (so you have less takeoffs/landings that use up more fuel energy) and economy seats (more seats mean more passengers sharing the plane’s carbon emissions).

Photo by Jordan Sanchez/Unsplash

6. Fix air leaks.

Create a more energy-efficient house by sealing air leaks around doors, windows, vents, and electrical outlets and improving your overall insulation. Doing so can help you save up to 25% of heating costs and maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

7. Regulate your thermostat.

Lower your electricity bill while fighting global warming by keeping your thermostat lower during winter time and higher during the summer season. To stay warm, wear extra layers indoors and invest in rugs and carpets that create a soft barrier against the cold. To stay cool, wear breathable clothes and install ceiling fans that use less electricity (55 to 100 watts) compared to air conditioners (500 to 1,500 watts).

8. Choose energy-efficient appliances.

From refrigerators to washing machines to water heaters, climate-conscious companies like ENERGY Star produce slightly expensive yet highly effective appliances that use less energy to complete a required task. Having them at home or at work will result in an overall lowered electricity bill.

9. Change your light bulbs.

Replace incandescent, halogen, and compact fluorescent light bulbs with low-energy LED or CFL ones that shine brighter, last 15 times longer, and use only one-fifth of the energy of a conventional bulb.

10. Unplug and turn off.

The easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is by switching off the lights (open the windows and let natural sunlight in!) and turning off and unplugging appliances when they’re not not in use.

11. Wash in cold water and air dry your clothes.

The Guardian surprisingly reveals that “washing and drying a load every two days creates around 440 kg of CO2e each year, which is equivalent to flying from London to Glasgow and back with 15-mile taxi rides to and from the airports.” That said, be responsible about washing your clothes. Only wash when you have enough for a full load, choose a cold wash cycle (a 10-degree temperature increase impacts the environment), use concentrated detergent, and skip the fabric softener. When you’re done, hang your clothes to dry on a line or rack instead of using a dryer, which is said to be the third most energy-hungry home appliance.

Photo by Dan Gold/Unsplash

12. Be a kitchen energy saver.

Plan all the meals you want to prepare before you start cooking. Always choose to cook your food on a stove top rather than an oven. Not only does an oven use the most energy, it also raises the temperature of the entire room. And while cooking, cover your pan with a lid to trap the heat. This lessens the amount of energy and time needed to cook your food.

13. Shop conscientiously.

Buy organic and sustainable food that has been harvested from your local farms and fisheries instead of picking imported produce. This provides much-needed support to your agricultural community and eliminates unnecessary transportation of food. Also, choose products with less packaging and bring big, reusable carrier bags whenever you shop!

When shopping for clothes, skip the trends and pick classic styles and durable pieces that you can use for longer periods of time.

14. Only buy what you need.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that 8% of greenhouse gases are caused by food waste, with 20 to 50% of the food we buy just ending up in landfills. Do the planet a favor by purchasing only what you need and storing leftovers in the freezer so they don’t spoil immediately.

15. Go the meatless and dairy-free route.

Meat and dairy products are known to create higher carbon footprints because of the more complicated process it takes to make themfrom farming and processing the animals to packaging and shipping them. Consuming produce that are low on the food chain such as vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts reduces your carbon footprint.  

Photo by Anna Pelzer/Unsplash

16. Go paperless.

Choose to receive your utility bills, tickets, and other paper documents through email. Aside from preventing a stack of papers to grow on your desk, it eliminates the need to print the document and have someone deliver it to you. Plus, it makes it easier to search for your files just by typing in the right keywords.

17. Recycle your things.

Prevent landfills from growing by reusing what you have at home and recycling paper, plastic, glass, steel, and aluminium products. In the US alone, it is said that 29% of greenhouse emissions come from the extraction of resources, manufacturing, transport, and disposal of goods.

18. Try alternative energy sources.

Solar, wind, and geothermal energy are just some of the cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. Do your research and see if there are companies that can provide these in your area. Or if you have the means and time, why not try making your own solar panels?   

19. Reduce water use.

There are so many ways in which you can save water. From skipping long hot baths to collecting rainwater for your plants to limiting the number of times you wash the car, you save gallons of this precious resource that can be used for other, more important purposes.

20. Take your reusables with you.

Say no to plastic! Stash your recyclable drinking bottle and reusable utensils (straw, fork, spoon, and knife) in a tote bag and bring them wherever you go.

Photo by Maria Ilves/Unsplash
Your carbon footprint greatly impacts the environment. Calculate your carbon footprint by logging how much energy your home uses, the car rides and plane flights you take, as well as what you purchase. We all need to do our part in protecting and caring for our planet because it’s the only one we’ve got!

How to make your animal fundraiser material stand out

How to make your animal fundraiser material stand out

Animal rescue fundraisers lie at the heart of communities coming together to look out for our furry friends. However, as much as we’d like to have our hopes and wishes save those we love, running consistently successful fundraisers involves a great deal of effort toward fundraising material. Organising a successful event – online or offline Read More...

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Animal rescue fundraisers lie at the heart of communities coming together to look out for our furry friends. However, as much as we’d like to have our hopes and wishes save those we love, running consistently successful fundraisers involves a great deal of effort toward fundraising material. Organising a successful event – online or offline – can be expensive and time-consuming. While the best of us keep going back no matter how the first attempt goes, it’s always great to get it closer to right than wrong the first time round. So how do you ensure that you pull off your first successful fundraiser? It all starts with effective marketing materials! A successful fundraiser stands out and has high visibility especially to people who fit the description of the ideal donor.

Follow these tips to get started with the best fundraising material you’ll ever create!

Know your audience

Knowing your audience is the first step in any form of marketing. It is no different in terms of marketing an animal fundraiser. Whenever you organise your fundraiser, you need to know the characteristics of the people that you intend to target. Profiling your ideal donor plays a critical role in executing an effectively targeted marketing campaign.

Who would be the perfect audience for an animal shelter fundraiser? Pet owners would be a good fit as your ideal donors. For a dog fundraiser, you’d want to go with dog owners. Animal lovers and animal rights advocates would also make for a good audience.

Create professional posters

A surefire way of capturing anyone’s attention is with the use of beautifully designed graphics. In this case, you will need professionally done posters that speak your message loud and clear.

There are two methods of achieving a professional poster for your fundraiser. The first one is by hiring a professional to design the poster for you. Professional designers charge different rates, but one who knows his craft will probably command a high fee. Hiring a designer is only practical if you have a large operating budget that can accommodate such expense. However, if you’re working with a tight budget, you would need to go for an inexpensive option.

The second, more affordable option is to create your own design using free or relatively cheap resources. One such resource is Canva. Canva allows you to design posters and has templates for all types of posters including fundraising poster templates. Although a resource like Canva requires a monthly fee for you to enjoy its advanced features, you can utilise its free layouts and insert your own images.

This cat adoption poster tugs at the heartstrings by pairing the words “adopt me please” with a compelling image of a kitten in need. By clearly stating the website and details about the animals, the poster urges interested parties to send an inquiry immediately.

Adopt a Dog Poster

Got a dog up for adoption? Sharing an engaging photo and his interesting quirks in a playful format will definitely intrigue prospective pet parents. Don’t forget to include how people can get in touch with you!

This poster succeeds in drawing people’s attention through its bold block typography, eye-catching colors, and a clear-cut message about foster parents saving the lives of countless animals.

Make compelling videos

Videos have become a powerful and versatile medium of communication in the last few years. Visual content is so effective that 70% of marketers from different industries use videos to reach their audience. Judging by these facts, it would only make sense for any animal fundraiser organiser to use visual content to promote their fundraiser. When creating a video for your fundraiser, you will be killing two birds with one stone. You will be using the video to give your cause and mission more exposure, and at the same time, use the video as a call to action.

Videos offer way more opportunities for a broader reach than written content can. For starters, viewers can learn more from watching 45 seconds of video than they would if they spent the same time on written content. Videos are also easy to consume, especially on mobile devices. If you look at most of the content that goes viral, a considerable percentage of it is video content. When you create a compelling video of your fundraiser, there’s a possibility that it will be widely shared and may even go viral.

Sign up for a free account on Clipchamp and edit this animal rescue video template whichever way you want.

After crafting an effective fundraising video, where should you display it? YouTube is an excellent place to start. YouTube has placed itself as an online video juggernaut with millions of visitors each day. Social media such as Instagram and Facebook are also great places to post video content. They both have wide usage across the world and are also well optimised for video viewership on mobile devices.

When promoting your fundraiser using video format, you can create a series of videos telling your story and calling on to donors to help your cause. Besides helping share your mission clearly, creating a video series also builds up your audience as people follow your narrative. 

Get social

Besides being a platform for connecting with friends and family, social media is also an extremely effective marketing tool. Facebook and Instagram have over 3.27 active billion users combined. This is a huge audience to tap into. However, you’ll need to create a page and amass a huge following to have a wide reach with your fundraising marketing efforts.

There are two ways to push traffic to your social media pages, organically and through paid traffic. If you choose to go the organic way, you won’t need to spend any money, but you will need to put in a lot of effort and consistency for your page to get noticed. Growing an organic following also takes longer than using paid traffic. Using paid traffic to build your following, on the other hand, takes a shorter time but costs money. You essentially pay to have your page appear on people’s timelines.

Consistency in social media is crucial. Whether you use organic or paid traffic, you need to be diligent with your postings and interactions with your followers. Daily status updates and replying to comments help keep your engagements up. In addition to status updates, it’s advisable to post videos and photos that tell your story and what you stand for. Social media is a highly visual platform, and high-quality videos and photos will make your fundraiser page stand out.

A pun-tastic themed fundraising event that coincides with the return of a much-awaited TV show is sure to draw laughs and support from animal lovers.

Update followers about your fundraising efforts the way The Smush Foundation does. They encourage people to keep giving by sharing how much money they’ve raised and which animal welfare organisations they’ve helped. 

Share your upcoming fundraiser’s information the fastest way possible—through a social media post! At a glance, The Sato Project’s Spayathon for Puerto Rico poster quickly shares the location of its seven spay and neuter clinics. 

To recap

Marketing is undoubtedly a crucial aspect for any fundraiser. It’s safe to say that a fundraiser’s success is heavily influenced by the marketing plan in place. Lucky for you, you won’t have to use traditional and expensive marketing tactics. Instead, you can use a different approach by implementing the tactics discussed above. Not only are these marketing strategies effective, but they’re also relatively inexpensive and easier to implement. So if you’re planning a fundraiser anytime soon, use these simple strategies to save yourself some time and money!

how to kickstart fundraisers for animal shelters

How to kickstart fundraisers for animal shelters

Raising funds for a worthy cause is a noble gesture, but it can also be a pretty scary and daunting task to take on, especially when you are doing it independently. Getting started on your first independent fundraiser can be overwhelming because of all the activities involved in making it a success. The good news, Read More...

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Raising funds for a worthy cause is a noble gesture, but it can also be a pretty scary and daunting task to take on, especially when you are doing it independently. Getting started on your first independent fundraiser can be overwhelming because of all the activities involved in making it a success. The good news, however, is that there is a first time for everything. By following this detailed guide, you can increase the chances of independently raising funds lucratively, and over time, you would be able to fundraise like the big boys.

Read up on the guidelines and best practices that can help you execute a successful independent fundraiser.

1. Conquer your fear

Let’s face it; it’s natural to have some level of anxiety when venturing into something entirely new. It’s no different when it comes to planning your first independent fundraiser. Sending out your first fundraiser call will probably feel unsettling because asking strangers for money is awkward and embarrassing. However, it hasn’t stopped other individuals and organizations from fundraising, so why should it stop you?

You have to conquer your fear if you intend to become a kick-ass independent fundraiser. How do you do this? Well, there is no particular fix for fear, but there are some steps you can take to manage it. For starters, you need to build your confidence. Confidence is developed through knowledge, practice, and positive thinking. You need to gather lots of information about fundraising by studying how successful charities do it. Knowledge acquisition should then be closely followed by practice. Take part in fundraisers to get the hang of things. And finally, be a positive thinker. Imagine all your leads resulting into fruitful endeavors.

Of course, confidence is not something that you build in a day so it might take some time before you get used to the idea of asking strangers for financial aid. Nevertheless, it becomes easier as you gain experience.

2. Identify your fundraiser’s core elements

Organising a successful fundraiser involves a lot of moving parts, but there are core elements that every fundraiser needs to keep in mind.

You see, the primary objective of a fundraiser is not the money. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive because after all, there is a reason why we call it a fundraiser. However, a fundraiser is about the mission to change or save lives. You need to focus more on showing how you will help improve lives rather than focusing too much on the money you need.

Another core aspect of fundraising is transparency. You need to win and maintain donors’ trust from the moment you contact them, all the way to after they donate to you. It sounds like an uphill task, but it’s straightforward when you display honesty, consistency, and gratitude.

Honesty: Be clear about your fundraiser’s objective. Your donors need the whole scope of what they are donating towards.

Consistency: It helps if you have proof of involvement in other similar fundraisers. If you are running an organisation, you can show evidence of the work that you have done in the past.

Gratitude: Express your appreciation. Don’t take the donor’s money and go silent. It might give donors the impression that they have been duped. Always make sure to send a message of gratitude to your donors after completing the fundraiser.

3. Prospect for donors

After eliminating the fear of fundraising and identifying your core fundraiser elements, you need to prospect for donors by pinpointing people with an affinity for your cause. Your prospect should also be someone with the ability to give. For example, if you are planning an animal shelter fundraiser, your prospect would be someone who loves animals and has money to give.

The next step after profiling your ideal donor is finding prospects. Ideally, the best way to get prospects is through referrals from friends and existing donors. If you don’t have referrers, then you can explore other options like hosting a non-ask event. A non-ask event is an introductory event where prospects come to familiarise themselves with your organisation and its mission. The primary objective of the event is not raising funds, but instead, building relations with your prospects. You can then follow up with the attendees later on and cultivate them.

If you don’t have the budget for an introductory event, you can opt for other cost-effective methods such as an online campaign, direct mailing, and reaching out to donor clubs. These methods might be cost effective, but they lack the personal interaction aspect that non-ask events have. They may, therefore, take longer to get prospects interested in your mission.

4. Turn prospects into donors

Once you’ve made initial contact with your prospects, it’s time to cultivate them, run them through your donor funnel, and turn them into donors. Turning a prospect into a donor is like making a new friend. You need to build a relationship with them and keep them interested before asking for a donation. It would help if you didn’t ask for a donation in your first follow-up message.

Once you’ve established relationships with your prospects, it is time to hold the fundraiser and invite them. Your fundraiser can be in the form of a themed event that matches your mission. You can also go with online fundraising efforts such as a crowdfunding campaign.

Post-campaign tips

When the fundraising is over, don’t just take the loot and run. Maintain contact with your donors and show gratitude by sending them thank you notes. Keep your donors updated on your mission’s progress, so that they can see the impact they made with their donations. For example, if you were raising money to buy medical supplies for an animal shelter, take pictures of the happy animals that benefited from the funds and send an email update to all of the donors. Keeping in touch with your donors after a fundraiser builds trust and increases the chance of the same donors contributing to you again.

By conquering your fear, identifying your fundraising core elements, prospecting people, and successfully turning them into donors, you’ll be able to independently raise funds for your animal rescue as often as needed.