New Puppy Learns about Potty

Go Where?!?!
Go Where?!?!

Go Where?!?!

I know the title simply screamed at you, “Read me now, there is no other help!”  So, welcome to my site. I’m here to shed some light on a topic near and dear to any puppy owner’s heart. How to get this critter to understand where the bathroom is. Not an easy task. As a child, I believed my Mother to have some magical spell that house-trained all of our dogs…..and we had plenty. It wasn’t until I had a dog of  my own that I realized what a special skill this was. I will do my best to enlighten you.

Old recordings in my head said, “Go out and gather many many piles of newspaper to use for training”  Well, the actual work is far from that these days. What I know now, is that my puppy and your puppy, require a pretty strict schedule for potty training.  The best scenario would be for you to spend the first 3 months attached to your pup, that way you can get outside every 30 minutes and tell your pup, “Go potty”  No luck for most of us in getting maternity leave to care for our pups. Next best thing is crate training coupled with timely outside visits that include tasty treats for being good pups.  You can find information on crate training in my article, “To Crate or Not To Crate”. In this current article, I want you to know that the crate is your first step of action and the second step is potty training.  Most dogs will not soil in their crate. Therefore, once your pup is used to the crate and acknowledges that this is NOT where we potty, you get to introduce where to potty and when. Did I say you have to be really consistent with this?  well, I should have!  Be consistent.  Your pup should go outside as soon as you get home. He comes out of the crate and straight outside.  No cooing, no cajoling  just outside. Place him on the ground and say the magic words, “go potty”, or “do your business” or “get busy”; whatever you want to call it and it must be consistent.  You will have tasty treats in your pocket to reward your pup because you are an awesome pet owner and you have treats all the time in your pocket.  As soon as that pup has finished tinkling, that treat is in it’s mouth. No delay and be consistent!!  I like to use hot dogs as the special treat.  Buy good kosher franks and you will get a quality treat your pup will love.  Cut the frank crosswise and then into quarters to make the perfect size for small pups or cut in half for larger pup treats.  I will emphasize that this treat is ONLY used for potty training.  The reason being, it is a prime treat and we can’t just go around handing out prime treats for less than prime behavior.  This is a big lesson and we want the pup to understand how serious we are about it.  Now our pup is back inside and we want to play.  Why else would we have a pup if it weren’t for the play factor??  Typically, a pup will need to go potty after a good round of play.  When you see any behavior that looks like your pup is distracted, pick him up and take him outside and use the “magic words”.  Now, wait and wait and wait.  When the pup begins to sniff, give him encouragement, ” good pup, go potty”; be sure you are using a low calm voice.  Your high pitched “good pup” can trigger his play and he will totally forget about pottying.  I use visualization when working with pups on this training.  As you say the magic words, imagine your pup squatting to tinkle or poop.   ” Is she crazy?”, half of you just  thought.  No, I just find that it works for me— think it’s crazy, don’t do it.  Now we are back inside and we have our own lives to keep up with.  First, we feed the pup.  Once this chore is done, guess what?  Time to take pup out again.  You will find that your pup needs to go out after being crated for any period of time, after play and after meals.  Other potty breaks should be scheduled to fit your routine.  It sounds very simple and it actually is, we just tend to get a little lazy when we are working on  something that takes so much time.  I also want to caution that some pups take longer to train than others.  Do not despair and don’t start comparing your pup to someone else’s. They are all different and they learn at different rates.  Your pup will keep you really busy for the first year with training and all but it is so worth it to have a pup who knows his manners

The Newest In Flea and Tick Collars now has a REBATE!!!!

seresto collar

$20 Mail-In Rebate on Seresto Flea and Tick Treatment through 8/5 at!

Okay, so I just wrote about this product like, one day ago.  I was so thrilled that had the best price round and I wanted to share that with my clients and readers.  So here it is.  Can you believe it?  Scoop up this awesome deal now.

Hot Fun in the Summer Sun

It is summer and everyone is having a big time.  Vacations have started, the grill has been brought out of the garage and your pet is spending more and more time outside.  If you are like countess other pet owners, the issue of flea and tick control has not crossed your mind.  But I’m sure your pet has thought about it a lot!!  By now many dogs and cats already have a problem.  Fleas and ticks are everywhere and your pet has no defense on his own.  Last year I wrote on the many natural ways there are to control these pests and I believe that is the safest route to go.  There are times when we need to be a bit more aggressive in our approach.  I still don’t think a flea bomb is the answer, even if you are a bit behind the eight ball.  There is a new product out that I have heard rave reviews about.  It’s the Seresto flea and tick collar.  This newest thing is made by Bayer; that’s right, the aspirin people.  I had heard advertisements for the product and I usually hold back my opinion until I have heard a lot of buzz about it.  Well, it didn’t take long for this product to pop up in my conversations.  First, a client mentioned it.  She has a very active Scottish Terrier that tends to skirt by the woods at every chance she gets.  Her owner was raving about the product because her vet recommended it.  Then it was the bank teller that gave me her two cents worth.  She had put the collar on her dog and it killed fleas that were on her cat!  Now that’s effectiveness, if you ask me.  So I had to do some sleuthing on my own.  I checked out reviews and I must admit, I’m pretty danged impressed.

How does it work? Bayer has taken the active ingredient from Advantage, along with another ingredient that kills & repels ticks, and embedded it into the matrix of the plastic-like material that the collar is made of. (all other flea collars just spray a pesticide onto the collar). Due to the nature of the material that the collar is made of, the active ingredients are continuously and slowly released for 8 months! The release of the active ingredient is triggered by the friction from the movement of your pet’s hair and your pet’s body heat. An added benefit is that Seresto is water-resistant and remains effective after swimming, bathing, rain, etc.  What more could a pet owner ask for?  The collar fells soft to the touch, kind of powdery if you will.  It doesn’t have the customary greasy feel of the standard flea collar.  It doesn’t effect the hair around the collar and it won’t rub off on furniture or clothing.  It is easy to fit your pet and is completely non-toxic.  True, it won’t hurt your pet if he decides to gnaw on it a bit, or somehow takes it off and decides to consume it.  As a matter of fact, your pet could eat the thing and it wouldn’t hurt him.  There is the caution that your pet could obstruct after consuming, but Bayer covered that possibility.  The collar is radio-opaque, meaning if your pet shows symptoms of obstruction a quick x-ray shows that it is the collar and treatment can begin right away.  There are other features that help to sell this product to me. First, it comes with attachable reflectors that help your pet to be seen at night.  the collar for cats is made with breakaway capabilities.  It can snap off in a number of places so if kitty gets caught on a limb, you can be sure she will escape quickly.  I tell you, this thing sounds like the Product of the Year candidate!!

I have to admit, I am a very frugal person….. okay I’m cheap!  So when I heard the price on this collar I was a bit in shock. Any where from $60 to $80 dollars.  That’s an investment for sure.  I have to remember that the collar is good for 8 months.  And it is effective even if it gets wet in the rain, or after swimming.  These are good selling points.  Then I started comparing prices with my affiliates.  I found that and have really good pricing.  They average $52 to $55 depending on whether it’s a big or little dog or if it’s a cat.  I have the links below and I am featuring the product on the first page of my website.

Seresto Flea and Tick Treatment for Large Dogs

Seresto Flea and Tick Treatment for Cats

Bon Apetit!

picky pup  041313
picky pup  041313

Wonder why he’s not eating?


I work with a lot of different animals in my pet sitting business and I own a lot of animals.  An issue that often arises with older or sickly pets is the need to ensure proper nutrition when their systems are at their weakest.  When I am working with a pet and he turns his nose up at the dinner he normally consumes in the bat of an eye, I might be a little concerned.  Is he just testing me?  Is he sick?  Is he not interested in eating? Is there some other explanation for this change of heart?  It is important to look at a lot of variables.  If my dog or cat were to turn away perfectly good food, my thought would be ” Okay, fine.  You can go hungry”  Could be I got that from my mother, it was her classic response when one of us kids said we wouldn’t eat dinner!!  I typically don’t worry if my pet misses one meal, but if the refusal goes on to the next feeding time I might want to try some new tactics. Especially if he is sick. Here are some of my thoughts.

As your pet ages, his sense of smell can diminish. If your pet has an upper respiratory infection or is prone to allergies, his nose becomes blocked.  These two factors effect his sense of smell.  Believe it or not, we all taste our food with our sense of smell as well as our taste buds.  If the nose isn’t working properly, food doesn’t taste as good.  You may need to enhance the taste of the food in some other way in order to get your pet to eat.  Some pet foods have a stronger aroma due to a higher ratio of protein in that particular brand. A simple change here could be the answer.  If  your pet regularly consumes canned food that is at room temperature or kept in the fridge, simply warming it up could be the answer. Of course, you would want to test the temperature before feeding.  You have to admit, it really pumps up the aroma. There are even special toppings you can put on your pet food that are similar to putting gravy on mashed potatoes.  In fact it is called Vita Gravy.  No surprise there.  You put the gravy on top of his kibble and “presto” it’s haute cuisine!  There are several varieties of the gravy available.  There is one that helps to condition the coat and another that benefits the bones and joints.  You would be supplementing their diet as well as ensuring they are getting a good meal.

There are other ways to tempt your dog to dive into his kibble.  I had a client that was older and he had simply gone off his kibble.  I became concerned when he refused his next meal.  I checked the pantry and found some beef broth.  I added that to his kibble and he gobbled it up.  You could also use vegetable or chicken broth, but be careful to watch the sodium levels.  Another trick that is also helpful for your pup is to add some garlic to his food bowl.  You can use powdered or fresh chopped.  They love the flavor and it has the added benefit of repelling fleas when the aroma exits the dog through his skin.  We love double-duty products.

If you have a finicky feline that usually is quite happy with his kibble, you might try adding wet food to his diet.  If he is already on wet food, then try the warming up technique.  Another strategy I use is to sprinkle catnip on top of the wet food.  While we all know cats love to roll around in catnip, not everyone is aware of the fact that it is a digestive aid.  It will draw your cat to his bowl and there he will enjoy the added flavor.

I hope you have found these suggestions to be helpful.  Feel free to drop me a note if you have a concern about your pet that I could research for you.

Is His Bark Really Worse Than His Bite?

Brain games to exercise your dog

The issue of chronic barking has been debated and legislated by owners and the public alike. Those people who suffer with the neighborhood howler are often so adversely affected that their health could be in jeopardy.  Think of the shift worker who comes home early in the morning only to have to listen to his neighbors’ dog barking all night. That person will lose sleep for extended periods of time which could effect their ability to make decisions. Is this person also driving a car?  Real trouble there!  This may sound a bit extreme, but it happens every day in some town or city in America. There are also dog owners who are at wits end because they don’t know how to control or eliminate the problem. They don’t seem to understand why their dog barks all of the time. So, which came first? The chicken or the egg?  Did the problem start because of a few dogs that just couldn’t control themselves? Or was it started when people began to acquire dogs as pets and had no knowledge of how to train their dogs?

As responsible dog owners, we are obligated to teach our pets how to behave properly.  But when you think about it, anyone can get a dog and there is no requirement for obtaining one. You don’t have to understand dog behavior, you don’t have to have knowledge of training techniques and you don’t have to pass a test to get a license for one either. It is “Open Season”, so to speak, for anyone to own a dog.  As a pet sitter, I can attest to the fact that many dog owners do not have the tools or they do not have the time to spend training their dogs.  Sometimes this is no problem.  There are many dogs that seem to come with this behavior all plugged in to their hardware.  Call it luck or call it past life experience, but I have worked with dogs that appear to know the rules and only need a little direction to get them on the right track. And I have others that seem to be completely unaware that they are misbehaving.  In either case, the owner still has to take responsibility for their dogs behavior. Behavioral problems in dogs are created by the way their owners interact with them and arrange their situations.

Dogs bark for a number of reasons.  Loneliness can trigger the barking behavior in a dog because he is starved for attention.  It should be part of the dog’s day that he gets undivided attention from his owner.  Some scheduled play time, a good long walk or a vigorous workout with a frisbee, may be all the dog needs to calm his fear of being alone. Another factor could be separation anxiety. Puppies that are adopted should be crate-trained to teach them how to be calm when they are alone. I have written about crate-training and feel it is the best option for any dog that comes into a family.  Finally, there is territorial barking. Territorial barking may be the hardest behavior to modify.  The reason for that is territorial barking has a built in reinforcer.  As the “intruder” leaves the yard, your dog’s behavior is rewarded. The best way to reduce or eliminate this behavior is to introduce your dog to the people who most often come into your yard or socialize him with more strangers. As with any aspect of behavior training, consistency is the key to success. Enlisting the cooperation of every family member is important in controlling your dog’s barking, and in all other aspects of training. Verbal commands and expectations for your dog’s behavior must be consistent if you are to be effective.

Of the seven to eight million dogs that pass through the nation’s system of animal shelters each year, 85 percent of them are there because of behavioral problems. That’s a telling number.  It would seem that millions of people are acquiring dogs who lack the knowledge, skills, or commitment necessary to properly socialize and care for the animals. They are not taking responsibility for their dog’s behavior. Refusing to take responsibility for that which one should be responsible, is by definition, irresponsible behavior. We see the result not only in the wholesale killing of dogs in the death chambers of our overflowing animal shelters, but in the chronic barking epidemic.

My point is this: when faced with a bothersome barking dog , what is the real reason the dog is barking?  Whether this problem pup is yours or the neighbor’s, what can be done?  The information noted in this post suggests that most problem barking is caused by a behavior problem.  Solve the behavior- solve the barking.  So simple and yet so unattainable for many.  We cannot control who gets a dog and we cannot control the manner in which they chose to train it.  We can only be responsible for our own actions.  And we can be ambassadors of dog training and good dog behavior.  When you get a puppy, commit to training him, give him play time and structured activities.  Keep him busy so he won’t be bored and have a need to voice his opinion.  There are a multitude of training methods and tools available to you at your veterinarian’s office, the library and even online.  I prefer the teachings of Cesar Millan and have used many of his methods with my dogs and the dogs I care for. This is a great offer from Cesar on his training guide:  Buy the Complete 6-Disc Set – SAVE $30 + Get Free Shipping. Expires Feb 28.  For games that stimulate your pup’s brain- this wears them out faster than a good run- this book will give you and your pup hours of fun and loads of time for bonding.  He’ll be too tired to bark!
50 Games To Play With Your Dog (128 Pages)

Brain games to exercise your dog

Workout your pup’s brain and have a contented pet.

Are You Wasting Money On Cat Food?

raised bowls

I know it sounds crazy, but that was my very thought every time I had to clean up after one of my cats that had just spewed his kibble everywhere.  Sorry so descriptive!  Have you ever been there?  Your kitty is quietly munching on his food and he’s purring and soo happy.  You reach down to pat him and he rubs all around your legs…ahhh.  Then you turn to do something and that awful sound starts.  Yeah, the retching .  You roll your eyes and know it’s time for the extra heavy duty paper towels.  I felt like I was throwing my money right in the trash.  What could cause such a violent reaction?  Why even feed them if what goes in comes right back out?  Good question.

My first thought was that I needed to purchase a better quality cat food.  The old standard from the feed store was not going to cut it.    However, these are the same cats that will kill a rodent and consume the entire animal except the skull and intestines.  What?  Special Kitty isn’t good enough for you?  I reluctantly purchased kibble that actually had some kind of meat as the first ingredient listed on the contents.  I was very clever indeed.  My kitties loved the new food.  They just couldn’t get enough of it.  A couple days later, I hear that old familiar sound.  Not the retching again, I cried.  That’s right folks, kitty had lost everything he had eaten.  This time I was throwing away a lot more money.  What to do?  What to do?  So, I started thinking.  It is suggested that tall dogs be fed in bowls that are raised off the floor in order to make eating more comfortable for them.  Maybe I could use this information to my benefit (and my cat’s, as well).  Watching my cats eat I realized that they couldn’t get more comfortable.  They were crouched down on the floor, their little heads planted squarely in front of the food bowl, just munching away.   They don’t even have to move to completely fill their tummies.  And then it hit me-BAM!!  Could it be that little kitty was eating so much food that his stomach was full to overflowing?  Can you take that one step further and imagine that since the tummy and the throat are on a parallel line while in a crouched position, kitty really was overflowing?  They don’t know any better, so when they stand up after eating, there is that pesky full to the throat feeling which triggers the gag response and …. retching. A quick visit to my nearby pet supply store and I had a really pretty stand that would allow me to raise the food bowl and help my cats to eat in an upright position.  It worked!!  Joy of joys, my pricey kibble is going in and staying down.  I was thrilled.

Many of you might think, huh, I guess she got to switch back to the cheap chow?  No such luck.  Once you realize the kind of garbage they can slip into you pet’s food bowl, you start finding ways to afford the pricey stuff.  Now I will share a bit of knowledge that will save you loads of money.  Many of your larger pet supply stores will place the “good stuff” on sale when it is close to the “use by” date.  Can you believe that?  Pet food has an expiration date!!!  Really? What could be in that stuff that would actually go bad?  Whatever, their loss is our gain.  So now you need to find out when your pet supply store has their mark-downs or just do what I do and go to the store, scour the shelves and find the ones with the sale tag on them.  Easy-peasy.  I purchase the high-end food at half price.  I buy whatever is on sale and just keep it all mixed together.  The cats are happy, I’m happy and I know I’m not throwing my money away.  And it’s pretty, too!  See……

Petco Stainless Steel Diner (17

When Grooming Goes Too Far

Cats Grooming
Cats Grooming

Grooming is a cat’s natural instinct.




What does your cat do when he is not sleeping?  Groom, groom, groom.  Mine seem to enjoy “tasting” their environment and will clean themselves for hours.  Admit it, cats love to lick!  They will groom themselves the entire time they are awake.  This not only keeps them clean but removes dead hair that could become matted and is often used as a means of calming a possible violent interaction.  You will often see cats involved in the typical kitty play that gets a little rough.  Watch closely and you will notice one cat will suddenly stop playing and start grooming himself.  In kitty language that’s like a time-out.  All play ceases until the grooming is complete and all parties are ready to resume the fun.  Sounds really effective to me.  And when your cat gets injured, it is his natural instinct to lick and clean the affected area.  This helps reduce irritation and lessen the pain of injury.  However, excessive licking often leads to infection and can actually slow down the healing process,unless you can limit the amount of licking your cat can do.  There are measures you can take to reduce licking that are simple and non-intrusive.  Some would include the use of lemon juice, Chew Guard, hot sauce or hot pepper flakes.  However, you should always consult your veterinarian before using any of these applications.  There are products that can be used to prevent your cat from reaching the wound such as an E-collar, Elizabethan collar, or an inflatable collar.  The E-collar is effective but takes the cat quite a while to become accustomed to.  Without peripheral vision, your cat may bump into walls or furniture and the disruption in his daily routine may reduce his desire to eat.  The inflatable collars limit the cat’s ability to turn his neck far enough to reach the wound but gives him the ability to eat and drink as normal and will not effect his peripheral vision.  Just be sure you purchase one that is sturdy enough to withstand kitty’s nails.

Suffice it to say that cats use grooming for many different reasons.  Always watch your cat for signs of excessive licking.  If he is not hurt and is not just tired of playing, there could be a deeper meaning that you should look in to.  Your cat may simply be bored or have some kind of behavior disorder.  Have you changed anything in your cat’s environment?  This could include a change of food, a rearrangement of furniture in the home, a new location for the litter box, a new roommate or new pet.  Cats are notorious for becoming stressed following changes in the house and that stress can easily become chronic licking.  Be sensitive to changes in your cat and approach the changes proactively.  Use the suggestions in this article to rule out simple reasons for the chronic licking and when you have exhausted those, it may be time to see the vet.  But always remember that your cat’s grooming is a natural instinct.  So, be sure you are grooming him at regular intervals. Order the following book for tips on grooming and the health of your cat:

Canine Haute Couture

The holidays are coming to a close, the first day of winter has past and now we look forward to the cold dreariness of the season.  At least, that’s how mere humans see it.  My dogs see it as a very invigorating environment for a good game of chase.  I have four rescued dogs that are my life.  I love them and am thrilled to share my days with them.  Once the weather got too cold for just a sweater, I knew my babies were launching into the winter with the excitement of school-aged kids seeing the first flakes of snow falling.  They approach the season with attitudes as different as their personalities.  Thunder is a nine year old Great Dane mix.  At his age,his tolerance for cold is very limited.  Lucy is a Border Collie mix just over a year old.  She is a bit on the delicate side.  She will play in the cold long enough to maintain her standing in the pack, but she doesn’t feel the drive to stay outside.  Chelsea is a German Shepherd/ Golden Retriever mix with a splash of Chow Chow; she is also just over a year old.  Chelsea prefers to be outside as long as possible.  Sometimes I actually have to go outside to find her in order to convince her to come inside.  Then there is Rocky,  the newest addition to our pack.  Rocky is not quite a year old and he is an unusual mix of Pit Bull and Coon Hound.  He will stay outside with Chelsea simply to prove to her that he is just as tough as she is.  The funny thing is, he doesn’t appear to be aware of the cold until he suddenly races for the door and cries pitifully to get back inside.  His allegiance to her is laudatory.  The reason I bring up this topic is that all dogs have a tolerance for extremes in weather and it is up to us, the “parents”, to be sure we know what that tolerance is in order to allow them the ability to enjoy what they love without risking their health.  Honestly, I think Chelsea would stay out until she froze.

What I’m getting to is using clothing to protect our pets.  We have used coats and sweaters fashioned for our dogs for centuries.  The history of dog clothing goes back to the days when King Arthur ruled over Great Britain in 520 A.D. They used dogs in the military and in law enforcement.  Protective clothing was intended to keep them safe in the event of an attack or if they were facing the risk of harm from the environment.  Far be it for the chic-minded of our century to keep our dogs from experiencing  the thrill of fashion!!  While I know my Chelsea would scoff at the idea of wearing a coat, hers is glorious all by itself, I know that Thunder would probably welcome a nice cozy sweater to warm his old bones.  And I imagine Lucy, a typically self-absorbed herding dog, would view a snugly wrap as a mantle of honor.  Rocky appears to be completely unaffected by the cold and I believe he would be unaffected by a coat, i.e. he would not notice.  He’s a little silly that way!!

I have several dogs that I care for that are provided with protective wear by their owners.  The first that comes to mind is little Coco, a West Highland terrier whose Mom dresses her in Halloween costumes.  What could be more confusing than a dog dressed as a bumble bee?  In her defense, Coco also has an extensive wardrobe of winter coats and rain gear was well as her own life jacket.  Humorous at least!  Then I have a very goofy Basset Hound/ Beagle mix who has a raincoat that his Dad insisted he wear whenever it is wet outside.  What really cracks me up is the duck-shaped buttons sewn on the raincoat as an accessory.  I also have a client that has rescued two retired greyhounds.  They are wonderful dogs and I give them a lot of respect having been athletes.  Imagine my reaction when she showed me the fleece coats she had made for them, they even had long-necked hoodies to keep their ears warm.  When I had them dressed in these coats I had to turn my back to the dogs so I wouldn’t be giggling right at them.  Don’t get me wrong; those dogs loved their coats.  They were used to performing on the tracks in Florida and the cold up North was a bit much.

There are times when your pet would probably enjoy and even be thankful for some protective wear.  Be a good judge of what your dog needs.  Just because they have their own coat doesn’t mean that they couldn’t use a little haute couture of their own.

FouFou Dog Canada Fouse Water-Resistant Coat for Dogs in Black (Medium; 12

How to Train Your Puppy to the Crate.

I’m going to do a bit of boasting here.  I have been working with a Min Pin, Lucy, in teaching her to go into her crate on command.  Lucy is so full of energy that it is difficult to just get her to focus on me, never mind focusing on a task or command.  She is crated whenever her mommy leaves the house.  However, the training Lucy received in connection with this major milestone was non-existent.  Her experience with the crate was that  a.) she was put in it whenever mommy left and  b.) she didn’t really want to be there.  For Lucy, the crate was a form of punishment.  It’s no wonder she would play “cat and mouse” with me when I asked her to go in the crate.  It got to be this terrible contest between me and the pup.  I would say “in the crate” and Lucy would proceed to run all over the room, dodging at the crate and doing her best to stay out of my reach.  I knew this was going to be a long process.   I also knew that if I was consistent, it would pay off.  Every time I went to walk Lucy and her pit bull friend, Tyson, we would come inside and I would say, “In the crate”.  Tyson would make a mad dash into his crate knowing he would get a treat.  I praised him and gave him his treat.  Lucy sat back and studied the situation.  How to get that treat, she wondered.  I repeated, “In the crate” and placed her treat inside the crate.  No luck.  I held the treat just close enough for her to taste it then tried to lead her into the crate, but she would only go so far.  Then I placed the treat just inside the crate.  I kid you not, she would run all around the crate trying to figure out how to get to the treat without actually getting inside the crate.  She would even pounce at it as if  she could scare it out of the crate.  Very funny, but extremely time-consuming.  Note to reader; If you are going to train your pup to go into it’s crate on command, be sure you have a lot of time and patience.  Honestly, I spent an extra 10 minutes at each visit working with Lucy knowing that once she learned the command she would be so much happier.  It was several visits of this repetitive exercise that yielded minor successes with each attempt.  Many days, I would have to simply work to the  point of  Lucy’s frustration.  Then I would give her an easy task such as getting the treat from just inside her crate and I would ease her back end inside.  But, persistence did pay off!!  Ta-Da!

We , Lucy, Tyson and myself, had taken a good long walk.  Both pups had stretched their legs, had a good run, sniffed all the yummy smells in the neighborhood and taken care of their business.  We were back in the house and it was time to be crated.  Tyson went in straight away.  Lucy was leery and ready to put up a fight.  I didn’t give up.  Over and over I gave the command.  Consistently I let her sniff the treat and then tossed it into the crate.  As if on cue, Lucy would dart her head in and grab the treat.  On this particular day, I was able to waft the aroma of the treat under her nose, toss it to the back of the crate and wonder of wonders she went all the way inside the crate to retrieve her reward.  I was speechless.  I gently closed the door and proceeded to lavish praise on Lucy and I gave her a few more treats as I was repeating, ” Good girl, In The Crate”!  What an awesome feeling.  Lucy was understanding that her crate was a good thing and it could bring her nice treats.  Consistency and patience will go a long way with your pup.  Repeating the command over and over and rewarding the smallest of successes reinforces accomplishment for your pup.  It gives them confidence,too.  Always keep in mind that a puppy has  short attention span.  You don’t want to completely frustrate him or make him feel that he isn’t making progress.  When he gets tired, take a break.   Do your best to end any training session on a positive note.  And remember, all dogs learn at different rates.  The reward comes to both of you.

The Amazing Molly


I am one amazing dog!



This post is a topic I have covered before, however it begs to be revisited.  In the last three years, I have worked with many pets at varying stages of life.  I get to experience so many pet moments in a short period of time.  I could have a pup in the middle of potty training, a cat dealing with adjusting to a new kitten in the house and a newly adopted dog learning about it’s new home and that’s just one day! My clients depend on me for daily walks  and vacation coverage, as well as advice on pet care and health.  Dignity and respect for the animals form the foundation of my perspective on what’s best for your pet.  When a client wants my opinion on the course of care for their pet, I always come back to these two principles in aiding the client’s decision-making.   Do you treat the symptoms of an illness simply to keep the pet with you or do you opt for the more difficult course which may include a drastic surgery?  It is such an emotional decision and several of my clients have depended on me to walk them through the process.  For me, deciding  pet care options comes down to the pet’s quality of life and the dignity that we must respect for our best friend.

Most recently, I had a client, Kim, call me regarding the state of her dog, Molly’s health.  She was sobbing when she called me and I knew it was going to be a tough conversation.  You see, Molly is a yellow lab mix about nine years old who has lived with Addison’s disease her whole life.  Medication has treated her symptoms and Molly is simply a joy to be around.  Early in the progress of the disease, Molly lost an eye.  It started with the bulging of her eye.  The vet explained to Kim that the swelling was caused by optic pressure.  They could treat her for pain, but after a few days Kim realized that Molly’s quality of life was being jeopardized.  Granted she was out of pain, but she was also straight-up “out of it”.  Kim knew this was not the direction she wanted Molly’s life to go.  The other option was to stop the pain at the source.  This would mean that Molly would lose sight in that eye.  Kim made the decision and Molly adapted to her new vision. So back to the phone call; Kim had come home from work to find that Molly’s good eye was bulging.  She knew what this meant.  What a tough spot to be in!  She was torn about her next step.  She could treat the pain and have a heavily sedated dog living with her or she could have the optic nerve killed and relieve Molly of her pain.  As in the first instance, the procedure would render Molly blind,this time totally blind.  Kim was also dealing with the news that her mother had just been diagnosed with leukemia and she would soon have to leave Molly in my care when she traveled to see her mom.  Distraught is hardly the word for it.  Kim needed to make a decision soon.  If Molly was to lose her sight, Kim had to schedule the procedure to allow time for Molly to adapt to her “new normal”.  Being in this kind of situation, I knew I couldn’t make the decision for Kim.  However, I could talk her through the choices that she had and help her find her own answers.  The issue I kept coming back to was how would Kim’s decision effect Molly’s quality of life and did it allow Molly to retain her dignity?  Very often the emotions we experience when faced with a life changing decision will cloud our ability to come to a logical and seemingly simple solution.  I have to say that I have learned a lot about human behavior and the emotions that surround a decision that will leave our pet with less than full use of it’s senses.  We see it through our eyes, not the pet’s.  We see it as a disability, a handicap.  Your pet doesn’t see it that way.  I can assure you that the pets I know that have lost part or all of one of their senses have adapted and done so quicker than you could imagine.  That was the hard part for Kim.  How would sweet Molly be able to live a normal life?  What major adjustments had to be made to preserve her quality of life and ensure her dignity?  After some time discussing the impact of this decision, I told Kim that it sounded like she had made her decision and she just needed to put all her cards on the table. Sobbing, she agreed with me and we said our goodbyes. Kim had the procedure done the following week and kept me posted on Molly’s progress.  She was so happy when within the week Molly was sure of her surroundings and trusted Kim to help guide her on their walks.  One day she emailed me to say, ” I had to run to keep up with Molly today. I’ve been smiling ever since.” As it turns out, Molly quickly adapted to the loss of her vision.  Yes, she had to learn new cues about how to get around and she did .  Kim had to learn a new way to communicate with Molly on walks and around the house and she did.  My hope is that those of you who read this and have a pet, please keep in mind that part of your responsibility to your pet is to make these tough decisions with the most love and compassion you can find.  They depend on you to help them through the difficult times just as they have helped you through difficult times.  There is no greater reward than the love and devotion of your pet.  It will be returned a hundred times over.