For The Humans

Questions you should ask a potential dog sitter

questionspotentialdogsitterdogdaycare

What is their experience?

This should be your #1 question. You want someone who will know when an emergency is dire or can be waited out until you get home. They should also know the signs of, and how to break up a dog fight. You don't want someone whose only experience with dogs is that they love them and had a family pet growing up. Bonus points if they are going to school for, or work/ed in veterinary medicine.

what times they are available to check on your pet?

The potential pet sitter should be willing to work with your pet’s regular routine and come at the specific times you request. Don’t be too strict and ask them to be there right at the 15 mark, but give them up to an hour before and after to get to your place. Also, check if they charge extra for early morning or late night visits. Don't forget a dog should be let out to go potty at least three times per day minimum, preferably four! 

are they insured?

A responsible company will be fully insured and have that information available to share with you. If they are an individual sitter working alone, at least get a copy of their driver’s license. I have had so many owners ask to make a copy of my ID and I am always more than happy to provide it for them!

are they comfortable with your dogs and their breed?

Always, always, always have the person come by and meet your pets first! Check that your animals like and feel comfortable around them. Bonus points if the sitter owns or has specific experience with your breed or mixes. I’ve been to many dog shows and have met and worked with (on some level) almost every single breed in the U.S. Owners really loved this and found comfort knowing that I wasn’t a stranger to their Afghan Hound/Coton de Tulear/Nova Duck Tolling Retriever and so on.

are they okay with your list of instructions?

If you have a sitter who negatively reacts to specific instructions you ask them to do - such as administering medications, run. They should be taking excellent care of your pet, that’s literally their one job.

Do they have good reviews or referrals?

If other people seem to have good things to say about the sitter, then they probably are trustworthy and can take good care of your dog. If the dog sitter or company has even one negative review… don’t be afraid to reach out and ask both the owner and sitter what happened in that scenario to get both sides of the story. Sometimes it could be something as trivial as the owner being upset the sitter charged a holiday fee. Just makes sure to ask and get as much info as possible!

I could go on and write a novel about what to look for in a good dog sitter, but here is a good place to start! Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and openly communicate any concerns or specific requests with your potential pet sitter before hiring them.

Owner and Dog workout ideas

Nothing is more satisfying than getting a workout in and knowing your dog is tired and happy, too!

Try exercising with your dog to build a stronger bond and work off some of their energy at the same time. Also, go for something more exciting than just a walk to mix it up and challenge both of you!

How to make an anxious dog feel more comfortable (5).jpg

Here is a list of some exercises both dog and owner can enjoy:

Swimming

If your dog doesn't know how to swim, you should try it with him because this is hands down one of the best workouts for dogs. It’s also fun for owners to enjoy some time outside, feel free to jump in and swim also. This is a great way to tire your dog out quickly without putting a lot of stress on their bodies. One minute of swimming is the equivalent to four minutes of walking. So keep this in mind and don't accidentally overwork them. Please use a life jacket to help keep their heads above water, otherwise they can ingest too much which can cause water intoxication or other issues. 

 

Paddleboarding

Your dog will need to know how to swim first, but it makes a swimming session even more fun if you can be paddling alongside them. Use the paddle board as a floating dock for you and your dog to rest on and jump off of. Don’t forget life jackets!

 

image from Google

image from Google

Hiking

This is a great exercise for those who enjoy spending time in the outdoors. The altitude will help build your dog’s endurance compared to a normal walk. Start slow and short though, you can do more harm than good if you work your dog too hard in high altitude, especially if they aren’t used to it. Watch out for wildlife!

 

Play tug

This is perfect if you're stuck indoors due to weather or health reasons. If you have a strong dog prepare for a tough game that will also leave you sweating! Make sure you use a proper tugging toy that won't damage their teeth or easily break apart. 

 

Hide and Seek

A fun game we play with our boys! Hide treats or toys around the house and watch them go crazy looking for the items. This is a great way to give them some mental stimulation, similar to if they were hunting a small critter in the wild. You can also do this in your backyard with their food bowl!

 

image from MaineToday

image from MaineToday

Skijoring

I have always wanted to try this! Your dog must already be fit and have good endurance (goes for you, too), they should also know some directional commands. This is probably the hardest exercise for both dog and owner on this list, but you will both sleep great that night from being so worn out.

 

Biking

Note: Do not start biking with your dog unless he is already used to running!

Use a special harness and rod that connect to your bike so he can safely run alongside you. If you have access to dog-friendly biking trails you can let your dog run off-leash, but make sure they have a good recall! When we would take Ruger mountain biking, we made sure to bring a squeaky toy in case he got distracted and wanted to take off. Fortunately, he would usually be so focused on the bike it wasn’t necessary! Take breaks and don't bike at your normal pace or you can injure and overheat your pup.

 

Sledding

If you have bigger dogs and live somewhere where it snows, this is perfect for you both! Let your dog pull you or run down the hill with you. If he is doing the pulling - use a harness rather than a flat collar, and don't go down too steep of a hill that you could accidentally run into your dog. 

 

image from Google

image from Google

Take a class together

The options are endless! If you have a fast dog you can try agility or flyball. If your dog loves to swim perhaps try dock diving. Or, if you have a herding breed you can try treibball; which uses large exercise balls your dog can "herd" on command by pushing with his nose! 

 

Play date

This one is more for the dogs, but you can chat with the owners or run around with the pups! This also provides great socialization opportunities, just make sure all dogs participating are vaccinated and that everyone is playing nice with each other!

 

Note - You must gauge how tired your dog is when exercising him. Most dogs do not know when to stop and will push themselves to a dangerous point. Make sure to take breaks and check on their breathing. If your dog is frantically panting, it's time to stop! Also, make sure temps aren't too extreme and always consider your dog's breed and their limitations.

Why you should be talking to your dogs

Do you talk to your dog?

I totally do! I can't help it, they're just so cute.

Even though our dogs don't understand the actual words we are saying, they pay attention and are sensitive to the tone we use when talking to them. If you feel like you might be a little crazy for talking to your dog, I'm here to tell you that science says you're actually not and that’s it’s good for both of you!

talktodogbenefits

 

1. Strengthens your bond

The more you talk to your dog, the stronger your bond will grow… easy as that! They may not understand your language, but they do understand your facial expressions, mannerisms, and tone of voice. Through these different cues they get the gist of what you're trying to communicate to them. Eventually, they will learn some of the words you repeat through association, and pretty soon you two will have a language of your own! 

 

2. helps puppies & rescue dogs feel more comfortable

Again, they don't understand exactly what you are saying, but they can tell if you have good or bad intentions. Using a calm voice can be very soothing and help them to feel more comfortable in their new environment. The more you talk to your new friend, the more they will come out of their shell!

 

3. dogs are social creatures

Dogs do not enjoy being isolated - they need attention and interaction to thrive. They are very social animals and need to form a bond with other creatures to flourish. If you have more than one dog, you'll notice that they have their own way of interacting with one another - whether they play nonstop or prefer to quietly lay next to each other, they like to know someone else is there. So talk to them and let them know you're there. 

 

4. You will love it!

Nothing makes me happier than a dog wagging its tail back at you when you’re talking to him. One thing I love that Boomer does is when he decides he would like some attention. He will randomly look over at me and let out a little noise like "hey, over here!" and I’ll happily talk back to him. A fun little exchange like this will help lighten your mood and show you how wonderful it is to share a bond with an animal that loves you!

What is xylitol? And why you must keep it away from your dog

dogxylitolharmfuldeadly

Most foods or ingredients that are toxic to dogs have to be eaten in a certain amount relative to the dog's weight to be seriously harmful or deadly. Unfortunately, even a small amount of an ingredient called xylitol can do serious damage to a dog of any size. 

WHat it is

Xylitol (pronouced zye-leh-tall) is an artificial sweetener that works as a substitute for sugar, its use in everyday products is increasing quickly. It's most commonly used as an ingredient in foods that are labeled "sugar-free" or oral care products, such as toothpaste. Xylitol causes no harm to humans, but can be detrimental to dogs. As a pet owner, pay attention to all of the human food products you give to your pups. A big one to keep in mind is peanut butter - sometimes they contain artificial sweeteners and it would be fatal if, for example, you gave your dog a couple spoonfuls in their Kong toy.

 

What it does

When dogs eat xylitol, it causes a rapid decrease of their blood glucose levels. This causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can lead to liver toxicity and damage. 

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur within 30 to 60 minutes of xylitol ingestion with levels as low as 0.1g xylitol/kg body weight. - Dr. Dana Brooks

That is scary to think about because that is a fairly small amount... and if a dog is getting into something they're not supposed to, they're obviously not going to limit themselves... Most dogs will probably eat as much as possible before they get caught, and that can get them into some serious trouble. 

 

What to do

Obviously, keep these products out of reach from your pets. After you read this article, do me a huge favor and proof your home of anything with xylitol in it!

If your dog does ingest some they will become lethargic and seem very weak, they may even collapse and have trouble walking. As soon as you see any of these signs, take them to the vet immediately. Don't waste time trying to google info about how much they have to eat or what symptoms to look for, etc. I'm telling you now - just put them in the car and start driving. The longer they have it in their system the more fatal and irreversible the damage is! If you're able to, bring the packaging of whatever your dog ate to the veterinarian so that they are able to see a complete list of the ingredients. The sooner you take your dog to the vet, the better their chances are after ingesting xylitol! 

 

These foods must be kept away from your dog

toxicdogfoodsxylitolgrapeschocolateonions

 

It's always scary when your dog eats something they aren't supposed to, but the good new is most toxic foods have to be ingested relative to the dog's weight to be deadly. A handful of Hershey Kisses might not be as big of a concern to a giant Great Dane than to a little Pug. However, there are some foods where even the smallest amount can really harm or kill a dog so it's important to know these as an owner.

 

Xylitol 

This is the artificial sweetener found in products like gum, toothpaste, and soda. An amount as small as .1 grams can cause serious issues in a large dog. If you haven't already, quickly check that your dog does not have easy access to anything with xylitol in it, or any sugar alcohols for that matter.

 

Bones

Never, ever, ever, give your dog your leftover steak bone! Choking is always a concern with this. Cooked bones break and splinter differently than raw bones. They can internally scratch or pierce the digestive system as they make their way through the body. Some raw bones are okay, but they shouldn't be machine cut (since they can be sharp), or weight-bearing bones (since these are too hard and can break teeth).

 

Grapes and raisins

The general rule is that dogs usually have to eat a specific ratio relative to their weight when it comes to grapes and raisins. But, the toxic components in grapes is still somewhat unknown, so there have been reported cases of dogs dying from eating even a small handful of raisins. For this reason, grapes and raisins should be completely avoided since we don't know what triggers death in some dogs. 

 

Chocolate

The exact ingredient that causes toxicity to dogs in chocolate is theobromine. Baking and dark chocolate have the most concentrated amounts of theobromine so do not let your dog near these. Milk chocolate has less levels of the toxic ingredient so it's not as big of a concern as dark or baking chocolate. White chocolate has almost none, so it is somewhat safe for dogs to eat.

 

CaffeinE and Alcohol

I put these two in the same category because it's (hopefully) common sense not to let dogs ingest either of these substances. These are not even that great for humans, so they are definitely not good for dogs (again, common sense). Caffeine is bad for the central nervous system, and alcohol causes breathing and the heart rate to slow down. 

 

Onions and garlic

Always check foods like chicken broth since these are usually prescribed for ill or picky dogs. Many broths contain onion or garlic ingredients in some form. These are both toxic raw or cooked, so make sure you don't give any human food leftovers that contain onions or garlic.

 

If your dogs eats any of these foods, it's always a safe bet to call your veterinarian. Watch your dog very closely, if they have any changes in behavior or start to vomit or have diarrhea, take them in to a vet ASAP! 

Tips for cleaning in a home with dogs, what cleaners to use and where

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Cleaning your home exposes pets to many types of chemicals that can be harmful to them. I have some tips to help keep them safe while keeping your home clean!

 

how to use 

I suggest using cleaners with harsh or toxic chemicals like bleach on countertops, bathtubs and other surfaces your pets do not directly touch. The reason I do this is because I do believe food surfaces need to be properly sanitized and since dogs don't (usually) have access to surfaces like countertops, sinks, or bathtubs, they are mostly fine to clean with stronger cleaning products.

For places dogs do have access to, such as toilets and floors, use natural cleaners that are fine if ingested. This way, if they lick something off the tile or take a drink from your toilet they don't accidentally ingest something toxic that can harm them. 

*Toilet bowl cleaners must be nontoxic, too many dogs die from drinking out of toilet bowls that use cleaners with ingredients like bleach.

 

Best Nontoxic Products to use

Here are some of the biggest brands that are pet-friendly. Many you can find in large box stores like Target or Walmart. And always remember to store cleaners where they can't be reached by curious noses!

*These are not affiliate advertisements, click the link to go directly to their website*

  1. Method Products - what I use!
  2. The Honest Company
  3. Seventh Generation
  4. Nature's Miracle
  5. Greenworks
  6. Simple Green

Why you shouldn't pick a breed just for looks

dalmatian unique spots
Left: Dalmatian, Right: Siberian Husky

Left: Dalmatian, Right: Siberian Husky

How gorgeous are Siberian Huskies with those big blue eyes? Or how unique are Dalmatians with all of their spots?

I know it's tempting to get a beautiful dog like a Husky or Dal for their looks, but so many people forget to consider breed temperament and needs when choosing a pet. 

A Husky and Dalmatian might look really cool when you're walking down the street, but are you able to physically and mentally exercise them to their specific needs every day? If not - be prepared for excessive barking, destructive chewing, stubbornness, and other naughty behaviors you won't want to deal with.

These are just two popular examples of breeds that owners usually pick for their looks, but there are so many other breeds (and rescue mixes!) out there than can still provide you with a loyal friend, even if they don't have spotted coats or blue eyes!

 

Be Realistic

Unless you are willing to mold yourself into the owner that a specific breed needs, let go of the aesthetic you like and admire them from afar instead. You must be honest with yourself and where you are at now as a dog owner - don't say you will start running once you get a specific breed, if you don't even run now and are somewhat of a couch potato. Instead, look for a dog who can be a couch potato with you - then you don't have to force yourself to exercise! And if you all of a sudden become an avid runner and you two happen to become fit together, even better!

 

Do research

Picking a breed takes a lot of research, but here are some fun places to start! These quizzes can give you a good starting point for which breeds to do even more research on past your results on these quizzes, and remember to be honest with where you are at now as an owner - rather than where you want to be. 

I took a handful of quizzes and these two seemed the most accurate and realistic regarding the questions asked and results!