Properly Introducing a New Dog to Your Pack

Congratulations!  You’ve made the decision to welcome a new adult dog into your home.  Properly introducing a new dog to your pack will set a good tone for the rest of your lives together.  There is too much to lose if you get it wrong, so we’ve put together some tips to help you get it right the first time. 

Status Woes

Dogs are social creatures and any changes (i.e., the addition of a new dog) will disrupt the hierarchy among resident dogs.  Despite the variables, it’s essential that you’ve established ground rules (your authority).  All parties must respect you and trust that you will will provide for them and protect them from harm.  Even the sweetest dogs are capable of behavior that would surprise the novice dog owner, so situational awareness and the ability to read body language will serve you well throughout the process.  If either dog exhibits fear or aggression at any point, stop immediately and seek professional help from a certified and experienced dog trainer or behaviorist. 

Finding Neutral Ground

Dogs are also territorial by nature and will defend their claim to anyone they view as an intruder.  What would you do if a stranger waltzed into your house, sat in your La-Z-Boy and ate all of your Cheetos in front of you?  Now imagine meeting that same person over coffee in the park.  The latter sounds like a much better way to start a friendship, doesn’t it? The “park” in this scenario could be any safe open area that neither dog is familiar with. 

The Introduction

Once you’ve chosen the location, you will need a steady helper.  It’s best to introduce one dog at a time unless you have a team of experienced handlers.  Begin by walking the dogs parallel to each other keeping a loose leash at all times- this is especially important when it comes time to make contact.  If either dog becomes excitable or nervous, increase the distance between them until both parties are relaxed.  Experiment with allowing each dog to sniff the other’s tracks, crossing paths, and let things to progress naturally so long as everyone remains calm. 

Often times, one dog will show more interest in the other.  In that case, they may be allowed to approach and sniff the hind end of the other dog.  This is much less confrontational than a nose-to-nose greeting and offers the handlers more time to gain control should things go awry.  Even if the first contact goes well, it’s still important to separate the dogs to prevent excitability.  Part ways, and encourage the dogs to engage with their respective handlers in an obedience exercise or other structured activity (on leash).  Food may be offered at this time, but limit reinforcement to praise when the dogs are actually making contact. 

Another method is to crate the dogs where they can see each other but not touch.  If either is vocal, a cover may offer a calming effect.  When both dogs are calm, let one dog out of the crate briefly to sniff the other dog.  Put him back in his crate, and repeat the process with the other dog.

Happily Ever After

A successful first meeting is a relief, but nurturing a budding relationship shouldn’t stop there.  Never leave unfamiliar dogs unsupervised, especially when resources (food, toys, and other coveted items) are present.  Provide separate sleeping, eating, and time-out areas and gradually increase the time spent together if things are going well.  If tensions rise, separate the dogs before a fight occurs and remember to never, ever get in the middle of an active fight.  Instead, distract the dogs long enough to separate them and regain control; loud noises and water work well! 

The initial meeting and coming weeks will lay the foundation for the rest of your lives together.  No matter the method you choose to introduce a new dog to your pack, keep sessions short and positive.  Don’t get discouraged if several sessions go by and minimal progress is made- some of the best friendships take time to blossom.  To help you along the way, we’ve included some suggested reading and local resources.  Cheers to your happily ever after!   

Local Dog Training:

Mighty Pet: Meghan Smith, CPDT-KA

Tri-County Dog Training Academy

Emilee Biehl and Abby Podjaski

Suggested Reading:

Ginman, L. (2013).  The art of introducing dogs: A guide for conducting dog-to-dog introductions.  Bloomington, IN: Balboa Press.

London, K.B., & McConnell, P.B. (2008).  Feeling outnumbered? How to manage and enjoy your multi-dog household.  Black Earth, WI: McConnell Pub.

McConnell, P. B. (2007).  How to be the leader of the pack: And have your dog love you for it.  Black Earth, WI: McConnell Pub.

Why Hire A Professional Pet Sitter

We often hear: “why should I hire a professional pet sitter to care for my pets when I can have my
neighbor/friend/relative do it for free?” In order to make the best decision, it’s necessary to understand
the differences between an amateur pet sitter (hobby sitter) and a professional.

Professionals Have Quit Their Day Jobs

A professional pet sitter has chosen pet care as their career path and has an unwavering commitment to practicing their craft. This means that there will be absolutely zero distractions (another job, social plans, etc.) that could take away from their ability to focus on your pet and their care. Another advantage is that a professional pet sitter will be available 365 days a year. That means you can schedule your vacation or other plans when YOU want. In the case of the unforeseen, a professional can accommodate that too! Finally, what would happen if your sole sitter canceled or became ill? When you hire a professional pet sitter, there are several backup plans in place at all times.

Professionals Are Prepared

Murphy’s Law is inevitable, and a pro will be the Boy Scouts of the pet world! If it can be imagined, it’s probably happened and a professional will have a protocol in place. Would the kid down the street know what to do in the event of a pet or home-related emergency? Would they even be available or have the ability to handle it if you couldn’t get home in time?

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the price tag that comes along with a professional service. Although it’s a labor of love, there are still costs involved. Professionals remain legally compliant, belong to professional organizations, adhere to a strict code of ethics, and protect clients with liability insurance and bonding. Employees are thoroughly screened before hire and undergo regular training to safeguard pets and ensure their health, safety, comfort and beyond. Peace of mind isn’t free when it comes to any other service, why should a qualified and responsible pet sitter be any different?

Still Not Convinced?

If you’re still on the fence, check out some of these stories. There’s nothing wrong with trying to save money, but you have to ask yourself if you are willing to risk your pet’s welfare in order to do so. As a professional pet sitting company, The DOG Nanny Group has many clients in your shoes that came to us AFTER they’ve had an unsatisfactory experience with someone less than qualified. Why not skip the risk and choose a Pro first? Getting to know you and your pets (i.e. the consultation) is free with your booking and requesting future service via our online scheduling software is a snap! Give yourself permission to fully enjoy your next vacation or focus on your work knowing that your pets are in safe and capable hands. Your pets (and you!) deserve it so stop by our website and get to know us at

Best Pet Travel Tips

slider dogVacations are a welcome break from a Wisconsin winter. Warmer weather, adventure, and the chance to recharge are worth the hassle of making personal travel arrangements. Then it hits you- what about your pet? If the guilt of leaving them behind is too much to bear, read on for our pet travel tips to make the journey a breeze. `


First of all, it’s important to consider your pet’s health and personality and to be honest about the decision to bring them on vacation. Some animals can become agitated and stressed easily while others simply can’t physically handle the rigors of travel. Your vet can offer insight into your pet’s fitness for your particular travel plans.


In the end, no one knows your pet better than you. If you decide a vacation without your furry family member just wouldn’t be the same, it’s important to prepare them. Examine your itinerary and accommodations carefully and try to simulate that in the weeks or months leading up to your trip. For example if you’re traveling by car, start with short trips. Gradually increase the time as your pet becomes accustomed to it. Air travel is harder to mimic, but you can control the time of year you fly (airlines will not accept pets on the tarmac outside the temperature range of 45-85°F) and teach your pet to accept a crate beforehand. Basic obedience training will go a long way as unruly pets pose safety hazards to other people, pets, and themselves no matter the mode of travel.

Keep Them Close

Invest in a quality and well-fitting collar and leash, crate, and current I.D. tags. Keep pets on leash or safely confined at all times as it only takes a moment for a pet to cause a traffic accident or go out of sight. Unfamiliar surroundings can cause a pet to become disoriented and struggle to find his way back to you. If the worst should happen, I.D. tags will offer some hope for a safe return. Unfortunately, many pets lost during travel aren’t reunited with their families so it’s up to you to be extra vigilant!

Consider Their Comfort

Pets thrive on routine and familiarity. The scenery might be changing, but keeping life as he/she knows it will help alleviate travel-related stressors. Packing favorite treats, toys, and bedding are easy ways to make your pet feel more at home on the road. Other essentials to include are a pet first aid kit, health records, and extra prescription medications. For the ultimate pet travel checklist, click here. Finally, remember to factor in frequent rest stops; they are a great opportunity to observe your pet’s overall demeanor, get some exercise, re-hydrate, and refuel your bodies.

Know the Rules

Be certain to inquire well in advance about policies, procedures, and fees regarding pets when securing air travel and lodging accommodations. Failure to do so can result in unexpected costs and delays which can derail your vacation in a heartbeat! International travel poses another set of challenges because each country has its own laws and regulations, so checking official embassy websites is essential. Remember those health records you packed? Be sure to keep them handy throughout your journey for inspection to avoid delays.

What’s Best for Your Pet?

Traveling with your pet doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you’re set up for success using these pet travel tips. Whether you choose to bring your pet along or not, we can help! At Marinette DOG Nanny, we offer pets an opportunity to release energy and enjoy companionship while you’re attending meetings and events while travelling. For pets that are unable to travel or those most comfortable staying at home, we provide regularly scheduled visits that are customized to all types of needs, routine, and preferences. Let us ensure your plans are stress free when it comes to your furry family members traveling, or not. Visit our website for more information today!

4 Proven Boredom Busters for Your Pet!

The winter solstice has come and gone and although the days are getting longer, we are smack dab in the dead of winter. The extreme temperatures and snow don’t lend themselves well to romping around, sniffing, or doing any of the other outdoor activities your dog craves. Spending significantly more time inside takes a toll on their mental and sometimes physical health. If you’ve got a dog with any more energy than a slug, you know exactly what I’m talking about! Let’s explore some winter boredom busters and keep your pets safe, happy, and healthy until their paws touch grass once again.

Move It!

Exercising your dog indoors may seem tough, but it just takes a little creativity. Playing tug is a great full body workout and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t cause aggression. Rope toys are perfect for this game. Do you have stairs? Make use of them by throwing toys upstairs and asking your dog to retrieve them. Nothing beats a game of hide and seek- it’s classic fun and will keep you (or the kids) busy! Don’t forget the cat- they love a good game of chase. Skipping treats across the floor rarely fails.


Food is King.

Foraging for food is a natural behavior, and your pet will literally eat it up! There are so many interactive and food dispensing toys on the market that there is bound to be one your dog loves. The experimentation process can be a lot of fun, but we find that Nina Ottosson toys and Kongs are best sellers for a reason. If you don’t have toys, you can hide treats or pieces of kibble around the house for your pet to find. Cats love searching for treats, and we often hide them in kitty towers to encourage exercise. If you have a multiple pet household, make sure everyone has a separate space so no one feels the need to compete!

Spend Some Quality Time.

Winter time is the perfect time for bonding. We bet your dog would be a willing participant in helping you practice some basic canine massage techniques or taste-test the many wonderful DIY treat recipes the internet has to offer. Learning a new skill or trick is a great confidence booster, and you never know where it might lead you. You may find you have the next agility, obedience, or nose-work superstar on your hands!

Need Help?

As professional pet sitters, we have all these tricks up our sleeves and so much more! We understand behavioral problems stem from lack of stimulation and that being cooped up in the house for extended periods of time (i.e., a long work day) invites trouble no matter the season. Winter is the perfect time to try out a dog walker! Let us venture out into the snow and cold for your pet’s potty breaks and exercise. We’ll take advantage of the midday sunshine and offer your pet a safe way to release all of that pent up energy. It really is the ultimate way to avoid the winter blues.  Contact us today!

Fun Ways to Exercise with Your Dog

Fido is your best friend, fellow adventurer, and snuggle buddy. Why not add personal trainer to his resume and exercise with your dog? He’ll never cancel plans, make excuses, or pass judgment. Whether you want to feel the burn or squash your inner couch potato, your pet is the key to your success. Here’s how your hound can help you shed those pounds and have fun at the same time.

Before beginning any exercise regime, it’s important to consider your dog’s health, breed, temperament, and training level. Always mind your dog’s comfort and safety. Should he become an unwilling participant for any reason, it’s time to stop and reassess.

Fuel Your Body.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to slack on one of the most important self-care aspects- your diet. Making healthier food choices will allow you to feel better overall and give you more energy to tackle your workouts. Trying new foods with your dog can be really fun! Have you seen those viral videos of dogs trying broccoli and cauliflower? Be sure to do your research on what foods are safe if you choose to experiment together.

Upgrade Your Walk.

If your walks are becoming part of the daily grind, take a new route! The pace will naturally increase (as will your heart rate) when your dog takes in the new scents and sights. For an added challenge, sprinkle in intervals of walking and jogging between blocks or navigate some hilly terrain. This activity will tire your dog’s brain and body so you can do your post-workout stretches in peace.

Try Doga.

You guessed it, dog yoga. It’s less about the crazy poses and more about the bonding experience. It incorporates gentle stretching and massage techniques, and can be a great option for older, stressed, or anxious pets. Joining a class is a fun way to socialize with other pet lovers. If home workouts are more your speed, check out these tips to incorporate your dog into your yoga routine:

Explore Your Competitive Edge.

For the more high energy duos, agility may provide the thrills you seek. Emphasis is placed on communication between handler and dog as they race around a course navigating tunnels, poles, and hurdles. It’s a killer cardiovascular workout and an adrenaline rush to participate in this fur-flying, crowd-cheering sport!

Embrace Variety.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends an average of 30 minutes of exercise daily. The good news is that the benefits of exercise are cumulative and activities can be customized to fit your needs. Is it too cold for a 30 minute walk? Try splitting it into two 15 minute walks. Did you overdo

your workout the day before? Do some yoga to relax your muscles. No matter what you choose, your best friend will be there to cheer you on and your bond will be stronger because of it.

How do you incorporate your dog into your healthy lifestyle? Share it with us in the comments!

5 Reasons Your Cat Needs Daily Pet Sitting Visits

Cats are often described as aloof, self-sufficient, and independent, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see a masterpiece with complex emotions and sensitive body systems.  Our feline friends may live life on their own terms, so it can come as a surprise to potential clients when we decline requests to visit cats less than once per day.  Here are the top 5 reasons why we need to see your cat every day:

#1  Health Concerns.

Cats are notorious for health problems that escalate quickly.  For example, urinary blockages can happen without warning.  This is an extremely painful condition and can lead to kidney failure and death in as little as 24 hours.  Monitoring your cat’s health is a top priority, and you can bet we’re watching eating, drinking, and litter box habits with an eagle eye.  Anything less than daily visits can be dangerous for your cat!

#2  Kitten Around.

Cats’ mischievous personalities may be endearing, but it can get them into heaps of trouble if left to their own devices.  We’ve heard stories of cats crawling into vents, getting tangled in cords/wires, turning on stove knobs, and knocking over table lamps.  Recently, a well-known television personality suffered major flood damage to 3 levels of his home while away for several days and his cat turned on a faucet!  Cats are curious little creatures, and you’d be surprised the things they get into; just ask a pet sitter!

#3  Forces of Nature.

Weather brings all kinds of challenges.  Power outages and utility failures pose a huge risk to your pets, and your home.  Wisconsin winters are brutal, and if a furnace goes out, it doesn’t take long for pipes to start freezing.  Heat poses another set of challenges, as homes can quickly reach unsafe temperatures for pets should an air conditioner malfunction.  Best to have a professional sitter stop by every day; we not only care for your pets, but also look after your home while you are away.

#4  Accidents Happen.

Imagine this: you’ve made your reservations with your pet sitter, your bags are packed, and you’re on your way to a much needed vacation.  While you were packing, Fluffy sneaked into the closet and accidentally got locked in.  This scenario happens more often than you might think.  Had the pet sitting service not insisted on daily visits, Fluffy could have been stuck in the closet with no water, no food, and no litter box for days!  Daily visits from your professional pet sitter would save you AND Fluffy from this kind of stress.

#5  Cats Just Wanna’ Have Fun.

Contrary to popular belief, cats are social creatures.  They thrive on human companionship, even if it doesn’t take the form of physical touch.  Each cat is an individual and has different preferences, habits, and personalities.  Cats also instinctively hide pain, and their subtle nature can make it difficult to detect changes.  However, if we’ve gotten to know Fluffy’s unique habits through frequent visits, we immediately notice when something isn’t quite right.  That can mean the difference between a manageable problem and a dangerous situation. 


At the end of the day, your professional pet sitter wants the very best for your pets, and that is why a good pet sitter will decline every-other-day visits for your cat.  It also saves OUR sanity knowing all is well with your feline friends and your home.  Did you know your neighbor down the street books daily cat visits, and another a few streets over has us visit their cats TWICE each day?  We love delivering top notch service to our clients and providing you with what money can’t buy- peace of mind.      

The Benefits of Walking Your Dog

The benefits of daily walks for your dog are endless. Obviously, walks promote the overall health of your dog. Walks for puppies may be a form of training, while walks for an older dog will help to increase vitality. We see many benefits of walking in our daily walk clients, but one of the best is seeing the smile on their faces when we head out to explore!

Starting regularly scheduled walks as soon as your young pup’s immune system is strong enough, or as soon as your rescue if fully immunized is crucial for building confidence. Dogs want to explore new and exciting surroundings to learn about their environment. Exposing dogs to all of the different things they encounter on a walk stimulates them mentally, while the physical exercise helps to release any pent-up energy and keeps their weight in check. The combination of a healthy mind and body creates a well-balanced pet.

Dogs don’t generally get enough exercise on their own to be beneficial. Sure, they can run around the yard or go on their 10-minute potty walk before you leave for work, but that doesn’t cut it! Your pup wants to be on the go! He carries the traits of his breed that drive him to want to move and be active! Being home alone all day can be hard for them and promote unwanted behaviors, mischief, and even health problems that could shorten their life. Regularly scheduled walks will solve these problems by giving your dog the exercise and sensory stimulation he needs. Dogs experience things by using their sense of smell, sight, and sound. As you can imagine, hanging out on the couch all day does nothing to arouse these senses.

Time is at a premium and loving pet parents often feel guilty about the fact that their dogs may not get all the attention they need, much less walks! When there is no time left in the day – walking Fido becomes a chore! Well, here is what I say to that:



Let someone else do it for you!

The DOG Nanny Group specializes in midday dog walks in Marinette and Peshtigo, Wisconsin and Menominee Michigan, for pet parents working long hours. Stop spending your lunch break stressed out, running home to let the dog outside. Need to hit the grocery store after work? Not a problem if The DOG Nanny has walked Fido midday! Signing up for midday dog walks will give you the peace of mind that your dog is happy and comfortable at home while you’re away.

Our pets depend on us for food, shelter, and exercise; their overall quality of life. We owe it to them to provide the best we can. Join The DOG Nanny Family today and let us walk your dog. You’ll both feel better you did!

Click on the link below to register for dog walks and other DOG Nanny services.


Behind the scenes at The DOG Nanny Group.


Did you ever wonder what happens after you request service from your Professional Pet Sitter?  I don’t think most folks have ever considered it.  You book, and we show up – right?  Actually, there’s a little more to it than that with any professional pet sitter.  Here, at The DOG Nanny Group, we believe it’s those tiny details before and during the reservation that set us apart.

Before your visits begin…  Assuming we have received your reservation 11 or more days in advance of the start date, your reservation will be on the first run of our schedule.  This schedule is sent to sitters every Thursday, and covers the following Sunday-Sunday.  Once the schedule is written, all visits for the week are assigned a sitter in our software system, Pet Sitter Plus (PSP).  The billing is done for vacation clients we will be visiting that week, and then comes the paperwork.

We pull our Client Care Sheet for your pet.  Remember the consult we did last month, or maybe 7-years ago?  All that information about your home, feeding, medications, the likes and dislikes of your pet, etc. are all on an easy to follow sheet for our sitters.  We make any necessary updates to that sheet, and also print a report card and a log sheet.  The log sheet is used to document what went on during every visit with your pet.  Did your pet eat – if so – how much?  Did we refresh water?  What did your pet do for potties? Did we have play time or a walk? Anything unusual in the house?  What lights were turned on/off, and so on.  Anything that happens during our visits is recorded on this internal paperwork.  The log sheet is also used to remind sitters of important things that need to happen during their visit.  Those updates you receive?  We manually write on the log sheet when we would like one sent.  Is your pet on medication?  Not only is it documented on your personalized Client Care Sheet, but We manually write on the log “give Rex pills in pink pill keeper” under the corresponding visit.  Our way of making sure all the bases are covered.

Once paperwork is done for all the vacation reservations of the week, we pull keys.  Based on the log sheet, we can see who the first sitter is at each reservation and we make a plan to deliver the paperwork and key to each sitter who has a ‘first visit’ prior to the start of care.

Now we’re done, right?  Not exactly.  Now the late reservations start coming in – one on Friday, another on Saturday, a couple on Sunday, and more Monday and Tuesday.  The process begins again, but first, we must see if we have sitters available to take on the added visits.  The schedule for the week is already out, and sitters have started making plans for their time off so it’s a bit trickier than if these reservations were on the first run of the schedule.  Don’t get me wrong – we LOVE our addons – we just wish they had come in a few days earlier.  OK, so we determine we have sitter availability, we make the changes on the schedule, and then send an updated schedule to sitters.  During weeks with a number of addons – sometimes sitters will receive 2-3 updates from the original schedule.  This is where it is imperative that sitters be on the same page and using the very latest schedule update!!  Then the process begins again…  Assign sitters in PSP, pull all paperwork, fill out the log with sitter names and any important tasks that need to happen at certain visits.  Pull keys, and take paperwork to sitters.

Now that everyone knows their schedule, first visit sitters have paperwork and keys, and reservations begin later today or tomorrow, we’re good to go, right?  Not always.  This is when clients often call with changes.  Leaving earlier or later than expected?  OK – no problem – except for the sitter who was supposed to start with Rex today at noon, is not the same sitter who is to visit at supper.  We need to get that paperwork and key back from the original sitter, and get it to the sitter who now has first visit at supper.  NOW we must be all set.  NOPE!  We hear from clients who have care instruction changes.  Different routine, different medication, etc.  OK – no problem – except I can no longer make these changes because the paperwork has been out of my hands for days.  Of course, if it is major changes, we figure out a way.  Small changes, I notify the sitter who has the paperwork and ask them to write the changes on our sheets.

All of this prep work is where Professional Pet Sitters differ from hobby sitters, your friend, a neighbor, or the kid down the street.  Even Dog Vacay and Rover sitters aren’t going to go to these lengths to ensure your pets are cared for with such attention to detail.

Ok – so the work is done, right?  No way!  The real work hasn’t begun until we see your sweet pets!  During our visits, we have sort of a formula that we use combined with your pet’s normal routine.  A morning dog visit may look like this: potty, breakfast, give medication, change water, wash pet bowls, check the house, change lighting, lift shades/blinds, sit on the floor for snuggles and rubs, play toys, or maybe a quick walk and of course a good-bye treat.  We do whatever ‘chores’ need to be done, and spend the rest of the visit engaging your pet and giving them love so they get the people time they crave.

At some homes, pets are all business and like their routine.  At others, we figure out what the pet needs to be happy and then that becomes the routine.  For example – you have a fussy eater – no problem!  We have sat in your breakfast chair because that’s where you are when Sasha eats and that makes her happy.  We have sung songs or played the airplane game to get Max to eat.  When Abe quits eating, we know to spoon his food back into the middle of his dish so he will finish.  And we know that Molly likes us to feed her her kibble one piece at a time while sitting with her in her special chair.  (Molly is a larger breed girl and it is quite a sight to see).

Have you ever called to tell us you’re coming home early and will arrive in 30minutes?  You have never seen us move so quickly!  We don’t want you coming home to “command central”.  Our goal is for you to never even know we were in your home except to see your completed report card.  It does happen that plans change, but we appreciate as much notice as possible – hours in advance – or even better visits in advance.  This extra time allows us to pick up all our internal paperwork and any other supplies we have at your home.  Sometimes we bring pill keepers to organize medications, special collars, harnesses, muck boots etc.  Of course, it is never a problem when you arrive home unexpected, we’re just embarrassed that you have to see all our “jazz” spread out on the counter, and that we haven’t finished our job without completing your report card sharing the highlights, and reminding you to contact us when you get home.  And remember, our job does not end until we hear from you.

So, that’s what happens when our clients request service.  In the coming months, we will be entering some of that care information into PSP so that paperwork does not have to travel from my hands to the sitters.  The only thing that will have to be distributed is the key.  Of course, clients who have coded locks, or liked our suggestion of a permanently affixed lock box, do not require a key transfer so that also saves a step.

Thanks for coming along on the journey of a day in the life of a professional pet sitter.  We chose this profession and your pets are our top priority.  I recently saw a facebook post from a hobby sitter.  It may have been someone sitting through Dog Vacay or Rover, and it was not a child – it was an adult.  They were alerting their neighborhood that they would be pet sitting a Chihuahua named Cinnamon for the week.  They wanted everyone to know, just in case they lost her.  Like us, they were planning ahead too – just for a very different outcome.  I wonder how Cinnamon’s parents would feel about that?







Keep Pets Safe This Thanksgiving

Chihuahua wants pumpkin pie

Thanksgiving is a time when we gather with loved ones to give thanks and celebrate with a holiday feast.  Many pet parents include Fluffy & Fido in the gathering.  These lucky cats and dogs will be extra thankful this year if their people follow some simple Thanksgiving pet safety guidelines!

  1. Can dogs eat turkey for Thanksgiving?

    Often times the food we eat is not safe for our four-legged friends.  A bit of well cooked (never raw!) turkey may be ok, but forego the fatty skin and greasy drippings from the pan.  These items are high in fat and can cause tummy upset in our pets.  Common results would be vomiting and diarrhea.  In severe cases they can cause Pancreatitis.

  2. NEVER give your pet poultry bones.

    Cooked bones splinter easily and can become lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines.  They’re also a choke hazard!

  3. Careful your pets don’t get any raw bread dough.

    The yeast in the dough will convert sugars to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.  This can quickly become a life threatening emergency!

  4. Consuming chocolate is not safe for your pets!

    Candy on the coffee table, in a handbag on the floor, or dropped by a child can put your pet at risk.  2oz of chocolate can be fatal to a 20-pound dog.  Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, increased body temperature, muscle rigidity, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures.  Advanced signs include cardiac failure, and coma.  Seek Veterinary care for your pet immediately if you suspect they have eaten chocolate.

  5. Xylitol is harmful to pets.

    That purse on the floor may also be holding gum, mints, candies, or human dental hygiene products, which often contain   Xylitol.   This sugar substitute is becoming more common in our foods, and can be deadly for our pets.  It is estimated to be 100 times more toxic than chocolate to dogs!  With some brands of gum, as few as 9 pieces can result in liver failure to a 45 pound dog.  Symptoms of Xylitol toxicity will begin within 15-30 minutes of consumption, and can include vomiting, weakness, in-coordination/walking like drunk, lethargy, tremors, seizures, and coma.  Seek Veterinary care immediately!

  6. Keep your pets out of the trash.

    Wrappings that food comes in and the turkey carcass can be too tempting for even a well-trained dog, and both can pose a deadly hazard to cats and dogs!  Remove the trash immediately after your meal to ensure the safety of your pets.

  7. Keep pets safe indoors during holiday gatherings.

    Guests may not be aware that pets will take any opportunity to sneak outside. Some pets are very shy or anxious around new people or crowds.  For their own protection, it may be best for some dogs and cats to be contained to a safe place in the house while guests come and go.   Make sure your pets are micro-chipped and wearing ID tags – just in case!

  8. Quick action can save lives!

    According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, if you believe your pet has eaten something dangerous, or if you can see your pet is in distress, call your Veterinarian immediately.  ASPCA Poison Control Hotline may also be of help 888-426-4435.

  9. If your holiday includes travel, make plans for your pet well in advance.

    Hiring a professional pet sitter to visit your pets at home minimizes exposure to illness, and reduces stress (yours and theirs).  Pets are much more comfortable in their own familiar surroundings, and you don’t have to worry about drop off and pick up times.  A Professional Pet Sitter will care for your pets and your home, and send updates and photos on how your pets are enjoying their ‘stay-cation’.  Professional Pet Sitters offer that piece of mind you need during hectic holiday travel.


Help for Stressed and Fearful Dogs

Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds – maybe thousands of dogs.  They come in all shapes,  sizes, and personality types.  Some don’t like when their people go away (separation anxiety).  Some don’t like changes in weather.  Some don’t like to ride in the car, and others don’t enjoy meeting new people.  I have come across all of these dogs – in fact – they live in my house!  Sadie is the shy one peeking out from behind her Daddy’s legs – this speaks volumes!  She is our original fearful girl.

2014_10_11Jody-0014 cropView More: doesn’t like new situations, thunderstorms, or the car.  The older she gets, she is even more sensitive to sound – like the wind.

Nemo is Sadie’s exact opposite.  He is super social, loves everyone and everything – especially if there is food involved.  While he has become more sensitive to things in his golden years (he will be 13 this month!), his big issue was separation anxiety when we first brought him home at 2 years old.  We video taped him one day and the poor kid screamed the whole time we were at work.  I don’t know if it was harder on him, fussing all day, or Sadie who had to listen to him.

Our Beautiful Boy, Bubba

Then we have our big beautiful Hound Buster.  He came to live with us from the shelter when he was about 3 years old.  He hated meeting new people (we were his third home that we know of), he got sick riding in the car, and he liked to pick fights with poor Nemo.  Besides my kids, as a pet sitter, I have met many other dogs who have anxiety surrounding different things.  It might be the weather, the fact that their family is away, or something in their environment that they react to – like loud noises (garbage truck, thunder, fireworks).  If your pet is easily stressed or fearful, know that there is help!  Below is a review of some of my favorite natural remedies to calm your pooch.

You have probably heard of the Thundershirt.  They do  work well for some dogs.  They work the same way a compression vest is used to help people.  It is important to use them properly, otherwise the shirt becomes a stressor for your pet.  When introducing the thundershirt, you need to put it on your pet when they don’t “need” it.  Try it out when you are at home on a nice day, when your pet is happy.  When they are calm and relaxing in the shirt – reinforce that mood and behavior with a treat.  Do that often, until they get excited when they see the shirt because they know they will get praise and a treat for wearing it.  Then, when you need it because a storm is on the way – get out the shirt and use it.  The big mistake people make is only using the shirt when it is storming and never going through that first part of introducing the shirt when there is no reason to be stressed.  What happens is, the pet is getting anxious because of the storm, they see you with the shirt, they know the last time they saw that shirt there was a lot of thunder and lightning, so the shirt just brings on more anxiety.  I will add that Thundershirts are not just for thunderstorms.  They can be used to keep your pet calm during any stressful situation like a car ride, or going to the Vet.  They even make them for cats!

ADAPTIL (also known as DAP) stands for dog appeasing pheromone.  It is the same pheromone the mother dog emits when nursing her pups.  Dogs find it very calming and soothing, and it does wonders for separation anxiety.  There are a variety of ways to use this product – there is an electric plug-in diffuser (like a glade plug-in), a spray, wipes, and a collar.  My favorite is the diffuser – you simply plug it in and change the refill every 4-5 weeks.  Groomers, Vets, and Shelters often use the plug-in to diffuse the pheromone into the atmosphere.  It is completely odorless – you won’t sense it at all, but your dog will!  The plug-in can be used for many different types of anxiety, including when there are changes around the house, like a change in schedule, different people, different pets, or the loss of a pet or person in the household.  The plug-in can take up to 30-days to work, so if you think it’s something you’d like to try, get it going right away!  If using the wipes or the spray – be sure to follow the directions closely.  They are never to be sprayed or wiped directly on your pet.  They are to be used on bedding, in kennels, sprayed in the car etc.  Your pet should not have contact with the treated surface until dry.  The best thing is – the electric diffuser can be used in conjunction with the spray and wipes for added results!

Rescue Remedy is also commonly used at Vets and groomers.  Maybe you have heard of Bach flower essences??  They work on the same principal as herbal remedies and/or essential oils.  There is one made specifically for dogs that is called Rescue Remedy (get the one with the paws on the label – the other Rescue Remedy is for people).  It is more of an immediate acting, but shorter term solution to anxiety and stress.  My kids each get a dose when we leave the house for the Vet.  I put 4-drops on a treat and they eat it up.  One cool thing I have found about this (and a cool thing about dogs I suppose) is that my Sadie will actually take a treat with the Rescue Remedy on it.  Normally, when she is reacting to an environmental stressor, she is sort of out of it, and definitely won’t eat.  She will however, take a treat with Rescue Remedy – almost like she knows it will help.

There is another spray I have used called Safety Zone.  It is a natural herbal calming spray for dogs and puppies.  It can be used on bedding, in crates, in cars, and any place your pet goes.  Again, it is never to be sprayed directly on your pet – but in their environment.

There are a few other things we do for our client pets who are sometimes fearful when their people are away.  Even though these pets are in their own homes – sometimes it helps to have the scent of their person in their bed or in their favorite spot on the sofa.  This is easily done through a piece of clothing.  We ask clients to sleep in a T-shirt before they go, or even put a towel, or small blanket between the sheets when they sleep.  Leave this (unlaundered) in the pets crate, or bed.  It acts as a security blanket and comforts them while their family is gone – and – it’s free!

We often put on a TV or radio for pets when they seem lonely.  The noise is a distraction for them, they seem to find the sound of voices comforting, and it makes them feel like someone is there with them.  The noise from radio and TV comes in really handy to drown out the sound of thunder or fireworks in sound/noise reactive pets!

I have had success with each of the methods above.  I prefer the natural route to drugs, and you can’t beat a couple of the suggestions because they are FREE!  Another natural alternative (and maybe the best) is training.  Pets can learn to be calm when in and around situations they find stressful.  Once they have mastered it – you may not need to use any additional methods.  There is some debate that while drugs may make your pet seem calm on the outside, on the inside they are still frightened because the cause of their fear is not being addressed.  That said – I have met pets who do not respond to anything other than medication.  Without it – they would hurt themselves.