Friday, May 29, 2009

Flea and Tick Season is Here - But Here's Something You Should Know!

It's flea and tick season in Northeast PA. And it's important that we know what we're putting onto our pet's bodies, because we don't want the cure to be worse than the problem. I came across this video recently on the serious dangers posed by some over-the-counter flea and tick remedies.

To be safe, avoid using products on your pet that contains pyrethrins or pyrethroids. These are pesticides that affect the nervous system of insects, and have been known to cause serious health complications and even death in some pets. Your veterinarian can recommend flea and tick control products that are pesticide-free, and safe for your breed of dog or cat.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Is A Professional Pet Sitter?

I've been asked more than once, "What is a professional pet sitter?" People wonder about the word "professional" and what that really means. It's a great question!

In the pet sitting industry, we make a strong distinction between professionals and what we call "hobby" pet sitters, as well as KNDs' ("kids next door") So what's the difference?

1. A professional pet sitter carries INSURANCE. This is a HUGE deal! If your pet sitter isn't insured, then you are putting your home and pet at risk. Nobody ever likes to think that things can go wrong. But if a pet is lost, or your valuables are stolen while you're away, or if your pet sitter accidentally leaves your water running or locks your keys in the house, a professional, insured & bonded pet sitter has you covered. Now that's REAL peace of mind!

2. A professional pet sitter is a LEADER. We work together in the industry for the benefit of all of our clients and their pets. We join organizations such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Professional United Pet Sitters to network, learn, and use what we've learned to help those we serve. We share ideas and offer a hand up to new pet sitters in the industry.

3. A professional pet sitter is TRAINED. I am Red Cross Pet First Aid certified, I attend pet sitting conferences and seminars, and I constantly read and learn about proper pet care to make sure I am offering my very best to the pets in my care. Industry magazines such as NAPPS Network help keep me informed on new trends and products to help pets and their owners.

4. A professional pet sitter has SOMETHING AT STAKE. What I mean is that we have business names and professional reputations to protect, so making sure our clients are satisfied is a huge priority. A hobby pet sitter who has no professional reputation to protect has nothing at stake. If they slack off on the job, or only visit your dog once a day instead of the three you requested, well, eh, no big deal, you'll get over it, right? If the kid next door doesn't like the hassle of wiping your dog's muddy paws, or forgets to lock the door on her way out, oh well. Don't get me started on the stories I've heard of college-aged non-professional "pet sitters" who decided that your home would make a great place to party while you're gone! (And sadly, I can relay dozens of these kinds of stories from my own clients, which is why they choose my services!) A professional pet sitter has worked hard to maintain a reputation for excellence, and we know that word of mouth is the best advertisement. We want to make sure you are satisfied.

I hope this illustrates some of the many advantages of hiring a truly professional pet sitter. Your home is your largest asset, and your pets are part of the family. You want to make sure that while you're away, an insured, knowledgeable professional is treating your home and family member with the utmost care and respect. That's why we say: when it comes to pet sitters, GO PRO!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Q & A - Dogs Who Pull on their Leash

In my blog comments I was asked:

"Thanks for the opportunity of sharing information! I have a question regarding the different collars and harnesses available. I have a 10 month old Labradoodle who is 60+ pounds and pulls a lot on walks. I don't feel that choker collars are very humane and I tried a gentle lead which worked for awhile but now he paws at it when we're walking. I just bought a harness that attaches to the leash in front (instead of by his shoulder blades). Do you have any advice on collars and the best use of them - especially for a growing and sometimes ornery puppy?"

Great question! I walk several dogs that are strong pullers. While every dog is different, here are some of the things I learned.

Some dogs seem to have an instinct to pull, and the more you tug the leash, the harder they'll pull against it! In some cases, this can damage a dog's throat, and definitely make the walk much less enjoyable.

I have a few suggestions to help when walking your dog:

1. Loose-leash training: The idea here is to train your dog to walk with a loose leash. Start by holding your dog's leash while he's in the sit position. I recommend starting off with lots of irresistible treats to keep his attention on you. Start to walk with your dog at your side, and if he walks close to you without pulling, praise him and give him little pieces of treat as you walk. Keep walking, praising, and offering treats. If he starts to pull, say "No," (I use a low growl tone for this) and stop walking. Make the dog sit for a minute before trying again. The idea is to teach him that when his attention is on you, and the leash is slack, it's fun and treat time! And when he pulls, fun time is over. While learning, you may find yourself stopping on almost every step. That's okay - it does take time to learn and he will learn if you practice with him every day!

2. Gentle Leader / Halti: I just love these things. :) For those who don't know, a GL or Halti is a halter-type lead, similar to the bridal on a horse, that allows you to control your dog's head (and when you control the head, you control the whole body). This is a very humane way of controlling the headstrong dog. That said, most dogs will resist the gentle lead at first. This can often be dealt with by regular use, letting your dog get used to the new lead, and even using treats and praise to let your dog associate the lead with positive things. I recommend trying it for a few weeks. Your dog will resist (after all, he just wants to pull, pull, pull!) but it is very likely he will adjust after a few weeks.

3. The Pet Sitters Trick: A little pet sitting trick I use when walking a new dog that wants to pull: I will take the dog's leash, run it under their front leg, and then up through the collar, creating a kind of noose around one front leg. This isn't painful to the dog - just a little awkward, and it's usually enough to stop the dog from ripping my arm out of the socket while on our walk. If a dog still insists on pulling, then I discontinue using this method.

I hope one of these methods helps you. And please let me know how your new harness is working, I'm sure others could benefit from knowing as well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Careful with Cocoa Mulch

I recently received an email about the dangers of some types of mulch to pets. Rule #1 - NEVER believe anything forwarded to you by email! Always do your research! So, I did some investigating, and it looks like there has been one documented case of a dog dying from eating cocoa mulch:

This is the season when many of us are using mulch in our gardens, so it's worth passing this information along. If you use cocoa mulch, consider keeping an eye on your pet if he or she is inclined to nibble it. Better safe than sorry!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Welcome to my new Blog!

It's been almost three years of serving the communities of Hamlin, Mount Cobb, Greentown, Lake Ariel, Moscow, and more! I am adding this blog as a convenient way to communicate with friends, clients, and anyone interested in pets. After all, pet care is my passion, and I am thrilled to have a career doing what I love!

As a professional pet sitter, I get asked many questions about pet care. I also get tons and tons of great information that can help make the lives of pet owners easier and safer. I can use this blog to share this information, answer questions, and shed a little light on the life of a professional pet sitter.

Got questions? Ask 'em! Got comments? Share 'em! I'd love to hear from you!