Archives for May 2015

Seven New Puppy Solutions

Those New Puppy Woes

That new puppy is sooooo adorable until he …

  • chews your favorite pair of shoes
  • poops on the carpet
  • digs up your flower bed
  • keeps you awake all night.

If that sounds familar or you simply want to avoid those woes, read on.

Seven New Puppy Solutions

Plan ahead.  Bringing home a new family member is very important.  It requires some thinking ahead and should not be an impulse decision.  We all know what happens when we look into those big brown puppy eyes and just melt. puppy_eyes-2Once you meet the puppy it is next to impossible to leave him behind. Decide if your current lifestyle can accomodate the needs of a puppy. If not, consider adopting a slightly older dog or postpone your dog parent days until later.

Decide what size and breed puppy you want. Do you have   your heart set on a specific breed?  Do you want to adopt a mixed breed dog? What activities do you want to do with your dog?  If you want a dog to take on hikes a Chihuahua is probably not the right dog for you.  If you want a lap dog, it’s best not to choose a German Shepherd.  What about shedding?  Do you or your family members have allergies?  These are all important considerations when choosing the right type, size, temperment and breed of dog for your household. Dog Time provides an easy and short survey to get you started on the process.  Just for fun I took the survey. The closest match I got to the dogs that own us was the English Cocker Spaniel. We have a Brittany and two English Springer Spaniels.  But it got me thinking about my preferred characteristics in dogs for my later years when my lifestyle changes.

Prepare your home and yard.  Now that you have decided on the right type, size, temperment and breed dog you want, prepare your home and yard for the new puppy.  Take a good look around and think sort of like a new human parent. Pick up all the clutter that is laying around.  You don’t want to have to replace cherished items and certainly don’t want your puppy eating something dangerous to her.  Will you need to install puppy gates on some doors?  What rooms have tile or hardwood floors?  That’s important when considering puppy ah, er, eh…elimination! Where is the best place for dog beds and crates?  What kind of toys will your puppy need? Where will you feed your puppy? Does your yard contain plants that are dangerous to dogs?  Is your yard fenced or will you need to always take your dog out on leash?

best-way-to-house-train-a-puppyLearn how to house train your new puppy before you bring him home. This tip applies to any age dog that you adopt. Even if the dog was previously trained, he has to learn the boundaries in your home. Remember that puppy bladders are small and that they have to not only develop physical control but also learn where it is ok to go potty.  Depending on the size puppy, previous history and environmental conditions it takes between 4 months and a year to fully potty train a new puppy.  You can begin the process around 12 weeks of age when your puppy has developed bladder and bowel control. Dog Care Knowledge  offers great suggestions on how to house train your new puppy. Remember to take your puppy out after every nap, after he plays, after he eats, just before bedtime and as soon as he wakes in the morning.  If you are using a crate, the maximum length of time your 2 months old puppy can “hold it” is 2 hours; at 3 months he can “hold it” for a maximum of 3 hours and at 4 months he can “hold it” for a maximum of 4 hours.

The Housebreaking Bible has a nifty housetraining schedule you may want to adapt.


Research what kind of food to feed your growing puppy.  It seems there are a million choices of nutritional plans to adapt for your new four legged family member.  You can feed your growing puppy homemade food, frozen raw food, canned dog food or manufactured kibble.  A good rule of thumb is to use the best food you can afford. Opinions vary on what is best but for the most part we know the least expensive brands of kibble contain a lot of fillers.  Those extra fillers create a lot of waste which you will see in your dog’s poop. You will most likely have to feed more of the lower quality foods so will not save as much money as you might anticipate.  Be sure to remember that a highger quality diet will result in fewer illnesses for your dog and thus less costly vet bills. A great place to research and compare dog foods is the Dog Food Advisor.

Jade loves her walks

Jade loves her walks

A tired dog is a happy dog and a good dog.  It’s unrealistic to expect a puppy to occupy himself all day while you commute to and from work, take a lunch hour and actually work 8 hours.  And remember our notes above on how long a puppy can “hold it.”  So know ahead of time you will need to share the “letting out” tasks with someone. Perhaps you can take an early lunch time and someone else in the household can take a later lunch time so you can both come home to take the puppy out.  Maybe you can staggger your work hours to accomplish those same tasks.  If you have a reliable neighbor that’s another idea.

Pet sitters and dog walkers offer their services so you may want to research the Pet Sitter Locaters offered by Pet Sitters International or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.  Choosing a professsional who is reliable, trustworthy, bonded and insured will likely save you money in the long run.  Most pet sitters offer a variety of services including daily dog walks and vacation pet sitting services. What starts as a puppy potty break may very well grown into a daily dog walk and vacation pet sitting servivces too.  Patricia McConnell, noted applied animal beaviorist offers her opionion on hiring a dog walker.  We liked her article and commented on her blog post discussing our services.

If your puppy is to be an only dog you may also want to consider taking her to doggy day care one or two days per week to assure she has good socialization skills with other dogs. Patricia McConnell, offers an excellent view regarding how to evaluate if your dog is suited for a doggy day care and how to find the right doggy day care.

No matter what choice you make, assure that the person or people taking care of your dog are meeting her physical needs for a potty break and a snack, getting some exercise and enjoying some one on one brushing, stroking or play time. Be sure the care giver is familar with dog body language, is mature and responsible, reliable and capabe of using good judgement.  Pet first aid and CPR training is a must too.  It’s important that any one who takes care of your dog shares your philosophy on how to treat your dog. We prefer positive based training and interactions and are very clear with prospective clients about our methods.

clicker training your puppyWho will teach you to train your dog?  That’s right, we said who will teach you now to train your dog, not who will train your dog. It’s your responsibility to do the training and oh so rewarding when you see your bond deepen as your dog learns to trust you.  Training is best done in tiny little “bites” of five minutes or so multiple times during the day.  Incorporating training into play time and meal time and bed time and all the “times” works great to have a positive dog-human bond.

While we don’t advocate board and train schools, we do recommend that you participate in at least a puppy class with your new puppy and in a family companion type class as your puppy gets older or if you have adopted an older dog. The Association for Force-Free Pet Professionals offers a directory of trainers who use postive reinforcement methods.  An excellent resource for finding a good dog trainer is the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Note that you will need to research if these professionals use force free methods only or also incorporate other methods in their training.  We heartily endorse clicker training.

Now go out there and enjoy the next decade or more with your new family member!!


Meeting the Needs of Your Cats

What Do Cats Need?

In mid April I had the pleasure of traveling to Atlanta to attend a two day conference of the Cat Division of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).  Presenters provided information on a wide range of topics including cat nutrition, successful dog – cat interactions, handling aggressive cats, social organization and communication in the cat, compulsive grooming issues, understanding medications veterinarians prescribe and using humane handling and behavior therapy to reduce stress among cats in shelters. In a nutshell, attendees learned about meeting the needs of your cats.



Steve Dale, who delivered the keynote address reminded us that there are more cats in US households than dogs, yet their needs are often overlooked. More cats are given up to shelters than dogs, yet fewer are adopted from the shelters. The most often cited reason for giving up a cat is behavior issues including litter box issues and negative behavior between the cats in a household.

For a long time we humans have believed that cats are independent and non social.  This is just not true. We need to learn to watch for the more subtle cues cats give off when they want to interact and just how they interact.  It’s important for cats of all ages to have toys to play with and to have your home arranged in a welcoming manner for cats.  No, you don’t have to do over your entire home, but consider putting a cat tower in a room, a couple of scratching posts near the furniture you want to protect and some tunnel like areas for your cat to use to satisfy his hunting instinct.

Cat Scratching Post

Cat Scratching Post

When was the last time you took your cat to the vet? Feeling a little uncomfortable with that question?  If you are among the very many cat owners who dread the thoughts of taking your cat to the vet, start thinking like a cat. Instead of only bringing out her carrier when you are going to the vet, leave it out and open so it becomes a part of her every day life. If your cat likes treats, toss a few in the carrier from time to time.  If your cat is stimulated by catnip, place a catnip infused toy inside his carrier.  A trip to the vet will be much easier if you and your cat are not traumatized by the actions necessary to just get in the car.

You might also want to consider using a veterinarian who specializes in the care of cats. If you don’t have a nearby cat specialist, consider using a vet that has a separate entrance and waiting area for cats. All of these steps can ease the stress on you and your cat and go a long way in meeting the needs of your cats.

Curious Cat

Curious Cat

Professionals Who are Interested in Meeting the Needs of Your Cats

Neither Billy nor I have ever lived with a cat, so admittedly we had a great deal to learn when we opened our pet sitting business.  That is the main reason I attended the cat behavior conference  last April.  As we have cared for cats, I have grown increasingly fond of them and have learned a great deal about their needs.  It was time to expand my education and I thoroughly enjoyed doing so.  In addition to continuing education I enjoyed the company of 4 other pet sitters that I regularly “talk with” on line.  We were all interested in learning as much as we can.  These pet sitters know and understand cats and in Rita Reimers’ case, specialize in providing care only for cats.

Rita is also known as The Cat Analyst  and offers cat behavior consultations so look her up if you are experiencing behavior issues with your cat.

Want to Know More about Meeting the Needs of Your Cats?

The IABBC posts a blog that many of you may find helpful.

We also recommend the related articles referenced below.  Happy cat reading!

How to Prevent Dog Bites

How often have you heard someone say, “There was no warning, the dog just bit him!” ?

But the truth is, there were likely lots of warning signals that the humans failed to notice or “read.”  As adults who care about children and dogs it’s our job to pay attention to the signals dogs send out and to monitor the interactions between children and dogs.  As humans we can alter the way we interact with dogs and keep pets and humans safe.



According to the American Veterinary Medical Association more than four and a half million people in America are bitten by dogs each year. Nearly twenty percent of the dog bite victims require medical attention and nearly half of the ones receiving medical attention are children. Children experience the most severe injuries. Most dog bites occur when children are interacting with dogs they know in typical everyday activities. Senior citizens are the second most common victims of dog bites.

So what can we do to prevent dog bites?

First of all with your own dog, be responsible. Properly socialize your dog by exposing him to typical sounds, sights and smells in the home and community. Teach your dog basic commands including sit, stay, come, leave it and drop it. Step up your training with teaching your dog the “look at me” cue.  Assure that your dog has ample opportunities for exercise and play.  The old adage of “a tired dog is a happy dog is a good dog” is true. Keep your dog healthy with routine veterinary care and as good a diet as you can afford. When looking for a trainer hire one that uses positive reward based skills.  4Paws University offers guidelines on choosing a dog trainer.

Teach your dog to walk nicely on a loose leash.

loose leash

Use a regular leash, four to six feet in length.  Avoid retractable leashes.

If your dog does not do well interacting with others consider putting a yellow or “caution” bandanna on your dog.  If your dog does like to be petted, instruct those who ask permission how best to approach your dog.  For instance, approach your dog from the side, avoid staring into your dog’s eyes, and offer the back of their hand to your dog to sniff.  Tell others to avoid bending over your dog and patting her on the head.  Instead, suggest they scratch her under the chin.


Educate yourself and your children about how dogs react and about the types of interactions that stress them. Remember, any dog can and will bite if presented with the wrong cues.  Always ask permission before interacting with someone’s dog and teach your children to do so.

Learn dog body language.


For instance, dogs will look away, lick their lips,  yawn or adopt a stiff body posture when uncomfortable.  The next stage may well be growling or a warning “soft” bite.  Take heed when the dog first shows his discomfort and disengage.  

Modern Dog Magazine also offers easy to interpret illustrations of dog postures ranging from relaxed to aggressive.

Together we can all prevent dog bites!  Let’s put National Dog Bite Prevention Week to work for all of us!

Part Time Employees Needed: Professional Pet Sitting and Dog Walking

We will be hiring two part time employees in the near future.  Currently we are developing the employee handbook, dotting i’s and crossing t’s and generally setting up the legal structure to hire the right employees to help us take care of your pets.

If you meet our qualifications (or know someone who does), please contact us. It goes almost without saying that the right person loves animals, but there is a great more to it than love. Basic qualifications are as follows:

  • Honest, trustworthy, reliable and mature
  • Able to pass a background check including drug screen, criminal record and driving record
  • Have reliable transportation
  • Able to use technology (on line records, on line scheduling, email)
  • Detail oriented
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Flexible, friendly and courteous
  • Willing to learn pet first aid and CPR (no cost to the employee)
  • Physically able to provide care for cats, birds, small caged pets, fish tanks, small outdoor fish ponds and all breeds of dogs (scooping kitty litter boxes, walking dogs, picking up dog poop, feeding all pets, playing with pets)
  • Available two weekends per month (Saturday and Sunday) and at least one weekday per week
  • Available for a portion of all major holiday weeks (New Year’s, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas)
  • Available from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM or from 1:30 PM to 9:30 PM
  • Acknowledges there are no guaranteed number of pet sitting visits during any shift

Jade loves her walks

   If you are an awesome professional pet sitter/dog walker  or know someone who is an awesome professional pet sitter/dog walker contact us now.      email


Heartworm Prevention or Heartworm Treatment: What Will It Be For Your Pets?

We confess to having only learned about heartworm disease approximately 10 years ago. Both of us grew up in an era and culture when pets were kept outside year round. Our families at least provided outside shelter and maybe brought pets into the basement or barn if the weather was extremely cold. But by and large we were of the belief that pets belonged outside.  Our pets rarely visited a vet and that was primarily at a rabies vaccination clinic.  Most of our pets died at a young age, usually from being hit by a car. Knowing what we know now, I suspect the others died from complications of heartworm disease.

We have forgiven ourselves, learned a great deal and moved forth. Lots of things in life have changed. Just as today we have flat screen TVs, computers, smart phones and cars with cruise control and electronic windows, things have improved for our pets. Now, out pets live indoors, have a fence containement system when outside, sleep on cushy beds, have toys other than sticks, see the vet on a regular basis, get a host of vaccinations, take dietary supplements, eat premium food and sometimes even go on vacation with us!

Preventing heartworm disease is very simple.  All it takes is a monthly pill. If your dog or cat will not take pills you can ask the vet to give your dog a heartworm preventative via injection that is only required every 6 months. Your cat can be protected with a spot on treatment if she is difficult to pill. Pets in all fifity states are suscepticle to heartworm disease. The infected larvae is transmitted from one infected animal to another by mosquitos. There are over 22 types of mosquitos in the US and they are active at various times throughout the year.

Depending on what brand of heartworm disease prevention you use, the cost for a six month supply can be as low as $35.00.  Treatment for heartworm disease in a dog varies from $500 to more than $1000. Financial cost alone is a significant issue. But more importantly we should note that there is no safe treatment for heartworm disease in cats.

For dogs, the treatment regimen is difficult.  There are three very painful injections given between the shoulder blades. During the 120 days of treatment your dog must be on strict confinement because activity increases bloodflow.  When that happens the dead worms can cause blockages or blood clots leading to death.

As many of you know, when we fostered Trooper he came to us HW+.  He was three years old at the time and was and remains such an active little joyful boy. But we had to keep him leashed when we took him outside.  He wanted so badly to dig and we could not allow that. He and Daisy Mae wanted to run and play, but again we could not allow that. When we were in the house with all three dogs awake, Trooper had to remain in his crate or tethered to Billy or me to prevent overactivity. And of course, there were those very painful injections.  It took a while after his treatment was over before Trooper could go to the vet’s office and not cringe.



Because we fostered Trooper prior to adopting him, English Springer Rescue America (ESRA) paid for the financial costs of his treatment, but Trooper is the one who paid with pain and restricted activity. Fortunately, today he is a happy, energetic, active boy, but it could have been so easily prevented.

Please choose prevention!!