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Old 03-20-2011, 03:24 PM   #31 
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In regards to birds, pellets are better than seeds. Birds prefer the seeds and some owners find switching them over to pellets to be difficult; however, the bird will be better off in the long run on pellets. Seeds should be offered as an occasional treat. Household birds do not need grit, they are able to fully digest their food without it. Some birds actually eat too much grit and become impacted.

Newspaper works just as well as any cage liner the pet store sells. The only drawback is that some birds love to shred the newspaper for fun.

Prospective owners need to understand how loud birds can actually be. While they may seem tolerable or even quiet in the pet store, even small birds can reach a high noise level. Being able to handle and respond to screaming birds in an appropriate manner is vital to ending the undesirable behavior. Just like any other pet, birds should be researched before someone purchases them. Biting and screaming are habits that often come about due to owner's lack of knowledge. One of the most common reasons why people get rid of their birds is because they are too loud. Conures, cockatoos, and macaws have a reputation for being quite loud.

Perches need to be an appropriate size for the birds feet. Rough perches are fine for a bird cage but they shouldn't be the only perch available. Having a few perches of different widths is also good for the bird.

Cockatiels and cockatoos have dust feathers. This excess dust can irritate people who have sensitive allergies.

Not all birds can learn to mimic. Male birds tend to be more talkative than female birds but sexes need to be determined by DNA tests. Some birds, such as cockatiels, are better at mimicing whistling than talking. Even though some birds can mimic words, they may be difficult to understand.

Birds can be very affectionate pets when they are well trained and handled. My bird loves to be scratched on the head and he will always come over to me when I come by him. When I come downstairs in the morning, he greets me with an enthusiastic "Pretty bird" or wolf whistle. Other birds enjoy being stroked on the back or cuddling.

Trimming a bird's wings makes a bird more dependent on you, which makes training it easier. If you chose to get more than one bird and put it in the same cage, the birds are more likely to bond to each other rather than the owner.

Many birds enjoy coming out of their cage and playing on a small play-place. Regular wing trims makes it easy for owners to train birds to stay on their play-place when outside of the cage. This allows birds to have a change in scenery and an opportunity to play with different toys than what they have in their cage. Toys are important for keeping birds occupied and stimulated.

That's quite a long post but since no one else had said anything on birds, I just found a lot to say.
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Old 03-20-2011, 05:45 PM   #32 
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Originally Posted by Rhondabelle View Post
Hi all :) I'm a newbie to these forums. I'm going back from maternity leave to my job at the local pet store (not Petsmart, Petland, etc), and the assistant manager position is opening up in the fall. I'm next in line for a promotion, and I figure that I should get my facts straight before I go back to work (I admit I'm guilty of lack of knowledge, I was hardly in the fish section... pls don't flame, I'm working on rectifying the lack of knowledge).

So. What are the top things that I should be telling my customers? Obviously I won't be telling them that bettas are happy in little jars. And it doesn't have to be just about fish, either. Anything that I can do to increase my knowledge and my customer's knowledge!

Thanks in advance!
Wow... I could give you SO much info!! I'll try and keep it short

I think everyone here will basically cover the fish part!

I would suggest looking at to get an idea of brands of food, contents, what will be good brands to recommend, etc.

Do not offer pigs ears--they are LOADED with sugar and can easily break into sharp pieces that will cut the inside of their dog's mouths.

Chocolate, onions, and grapes are poisonous to dogs, and garlic is questionable.

Even in winter time dogs need flea/tick prevention if where you live has fleas/ticks.

A crate should be large enough for a dog to stand up in and turn around and stretch out comfortably, not much larger. If someone with a new puppy comes in looking for a crate, I would HIGHLY suggest offering them one with a divider so as a puppy they can block off part so the puppy can "grow into" the crate rather than coming back to buy another.

Most commercial brand dog training treats are SO bad for dogs because for training you feed large quantities and these are not meant for that. Offer them freeze-dried liver, "natural" dog treats, etc. Maybe give them the idea of cooked carrots (w/o any seasonings and such) or frozen plain yogurt drops.

A leash should generally be around 6 feet long, unless it is a leash meant to walk in large crowds with.

Collars should fit snug at the TOP part of the neck, but you should be able to fit 2 fingers underneath it comfortably. (That means without it heavily squeezing and you feel like your fingers are losing circulation.) Smaller dogs SHOULD have a harness, NOT a collar. Chihuahuas, pugs, dachshunds, etc. They can have collars for indoors, but for walks and such, HARNESS!

ALWAYS tell people to get heavier bowls if they are separated, as in, not in a tray or wire holder or something. If not, those things will FLY all over your floor. If they get one in a holder, make sure that you can get each individual out or it will be one big pain.

Raised food dishes have NOT been scientifically proven to prevent bloat, some even believe it CAUSES it. Be careful about spreading this advice.

Highly recommend people to micro-chip their dogs. It can be done for under $50. It is completely painless, and is injected into the dog's neck. Your dog doesn't need to be put under, it's very quick and simple. It is smaller than a grain of rice! It will hold ALL your contact info and now nearly every shelter and vet office scans new dogs. You can even change the info that comes up if you move.

Dogs simply do not need supplements into their diet if they have a healthy diet. Period.

Every single dog owner should have grooming supplies! Even a short-haired dog should be brushed. They may not need it, but it is a bonding experience. TOOTH BRUSHES TOO.

I highly recommend steps for dogs with longer bodies (such as Dachshunds) to beds or frequently visited places. Every single Dachshund will have 1 back surgery in its life. (Not proven, but likely.) By not allowing your dog to jump up and down off of things, it will not break its back. $20 steps are worth it!

Stuffed toys are never any fun. Ever. Hardier, sturdy, durable toys are! Always offer toys to fit the dog! What I'm saying is, would you offer a Great Dane a 2" squeeky ball? NO. Would you offer a Maltese a rubber tire? NO. Ask about the breed of dog, the dog's preferences, and the dog's behavior BEFORE offering a toy. If a dog is a chewer, definitely don't offer a stuffed toy.

Even though it is a cat, cats DO need carriers. They need to go to vet visits and sometimes get groomed, things like that. It is safest for the cat to be put into a carrier.

Their bowls should be waited, too. And I would recommend a mat, some cats are MESSY eaters. (Like my one male!)

Cats should be micro-chipped as well, and if not, have tags! Cats are sneaky little things.

Cats generally do not like collars, and while bells are nice, I would get one without it. Also, break-away-collars for the outside cat is a must, or else it can easily get caught on something and the cat will choke to death. (This is why MICROCHIPPING IS IMPORTANT!)

They most definitely need to be groomed. Any kind of cat. Ears, teeth, claws, coat, they NEED it. Look up some good quality grooming tools and tips, this will help you out a lot!

Automatic cleaning litter boxes are nice, but will scare most cats. I've tried these personally, and one of my cats in particular refused to use it at all and decided going on the carpet and her bed was better.

Cats can and will mark, just like dogs. Don't put it past them. This also "spray".

Never offer a yarn type of toy or a small toy. Balls and toy mice are always great things to offer!

Soft Claws or Soft Paws whatever it is, is a load of crap!! It does NOT work by any means, I swear they drug those cats in those commercials and even if your cat was good for it, they fall off within an hour. Oh, and your cat will rip them off themselves!

Cat food is just as important as dog food, research things that go in it. Cats are straight carnivores and should be fed so!

Never ever ever get frayed rope toys. A bird at my local pet store almost choked to death in one. They can get caught in there very easily.

Sand paper bottoms are great! But you can use newspaper.

Seriously, just stay away from noisy toys. Every person regrets it the next day, especially those bells.

The seeds you feed your bird needs to be watched. A lot of times the shells and cases and such will fill up their container, and it's not unheard of for birds to choke on these things.

You see those large, gorgeous parrots in those small cages? SOO NOT THE CASE. Prepare a potential buyer that they will need a very large cage and stand for that bird.

Finches and such love to be with many of their kind, and they will breed in captivity in your own home.

I know there are a LOT of things harmful to birds, I suggest you Google that because I honestly can't remember. (I haven't owned birds in years!)

I know so much more about animals, of all different kinds, so if you would like to know more about certain animals that you carry/supply for, feel free to PM me or just ask in this thread and I'll provide more info. I could go on forever, but I'd rather just tell you about the animals your store DOES provide!! I know about rodents, sugar gliders, some reptiles, a bunch of fish types, horses, and other live stock.

Good luck on that promotion!!
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Old 03-20-2011, 06:11 PM   #33 
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I hope you don't mind if I toss in my 2 cents as well.


make sure you familiarize yourself with compatability. Some things to keep in mind is temperature, size, agression, etc. Will X fish go well with Y fish? Do they come from similar habitats? If yes, then is X fish going to grow giant and eat Y fish? if no, then are they both agressive? etc. A good example would be gouramis and bettas. Seeing as they are practically cousin species (and agressive) it's good to be better safe then sorry.

Also, clean water is the solution and prevention to almost every illness in fish. Before selling meds to a customer, make sure you know what sort of tank they are keeping. If it sounds bad (like a 10 gallon with 3 goldies a betta and a sucker fish) advise that they seperate the goldies into a bigger tank and try upping water changes. If it sounds like meds are really needed, once again, make sure you know what sort of other tankmates there are. Copper, salt and other things can kill senstive fish, snails, shrimp, etc.

You might want to read up on cycling so you can help your customers with stocking. In general, a cycled tank will be able to support more fish than a non cycled tank. However, that is by no means an excuse to stuff an excess ammount.

Know size requirements and schooling tendencies. In my opinion, most fast schooling fish like zebra danios, harlequin rasboras, etc need at least 20 gallons and to be in schools of at least 4-5. This is because they move so quickly and are so energetic, that anything less than that size would be restricting their movements.

Learn your aquatic plants: I know a lot of stores try to sell non aquatic or semi-aquatic plants to people, not knowing that the plants will die within a few months under water. So, research and figure out what some common false aquatic plants and what some true ones are.
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Old 03-20-2011, 06:49 PM   #34 
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mywingedhorses, that was an absolutely EXCELLENT post regarding birds!!!

Years ago I used to raise pet birds in my home and everything you said is right on the money, IMO! I still have four pet birds - 2 Blue Crown Conures (20 years old & 18 years old), a Green Cheek Conure (1 year old) and a parakeet (no idea as to age since he was found in somebody's yard last June & they called me. His family never came forward, poor guy).

The only thing I do differently than you is I DO give my birds seeds and pellets. I have tried the 100% pellets, but, while they will eat them, they aren't all that enthused about it. However, when I give them some seed in the morning and then add their pellets to their dishes in the afternoon, they act like it's the BESTEST treat EVER - LOL!!! They even take them right out of my fingers, the goofs!!! :) It's a system that works for us, thankfully.

Besides, IMO, and it IS just my opinion - I REALLY think parrots need the cracking & shredding of seeds. But, that's just me.

One more thing about food - fresh fruit & veggies for maximum health!! Sometimes it can be a challenge to get them to eat the stuff, but bird owners should stay with it & sooner or later they will eat it.

Food & water dishes need to be dumped, cleaned & refilled DAILY. Often, water especially needs to be replaced multiple times a day.

A large parrot can be a life long companion, so it certainly is NOT an animal to purchase on a whim!!!!

Last edited by Lion Mom; 03-20-2011 at 06:51 PM.
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