How To's/ Tutorials

The truth behind "take your dog to work day".

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I am a researcher of all things. I like to know details and understand inner workings so I can be prepared and confident. This was no different picking our puppy. When we got the call, I went to work. First thing was figuring out how we were going to manage full-time jobs, graduate school (for me), and a packed social calendar. Fortunately, for me, I was working for a company that had a dog-friendly policy, and I was able to bring Pax to work with me every single day. Even luckier, my boss gave me “pawternity” leave where I worked from home for the first 2-3 weeks we had Pax. I have been out of the corporate world for 6 months now and the majority of those months I’ve been recovering from my boating accident. So, with all that said - sounds simple to have a dog at your office right? 

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Wrong! Your dog might be totally fine, but people are not. People are the problem (in a greatest possible way). People love puppies. People love teddy bear puppies. Imagine having one in your office! You’d probably do a “sneak by” 36 times in one hour! I know I would. I eventually had to put up a sign that said, “If I’m sleeping, please let me be. I need my beauty rest to look this cute.”  just so people wouldn’t wake him up. While Pax was at the office sleeping peacefully under my desk, I would be on coaching calls and taking finals in graduate school. I absolutely loved having my buddy with me all the time and he was just so great in the office. It took time for him to understand what happened there but after a short while he got it and just slept under my desk most days. Below are the most important things to think about when preparing to take your dog to work with you.

Here is my my bring your doggo to work day checklist

1. Portable water bowl 

2. Is your pup going to be in a crate? We brought Pax’s, but he never slept in it. Are you in a space that can be overwhelming to the dog with all the people that walk by? Luckily, I was in a corner and against a wall so it was quiet and we could hide out there.

3. Potty pads for when they are unable to go outside when your pup hasn’t completed the vaccines!

4. TREATS- I brought EVERYTHING from high value treats to keep his attention, chews/bones/kongs for meetings and back to back calls. 

5. Plan when you will take your pup out throughout the day. Are you in meetings most of the day? The younger they are the more you have to take them out.

6. Talk to your co-workers and make sure they are not distracted 

7. Talk to yourself and make sure YOU’RE not distracted

8. It’s ok to say, please let them be. It is. I promise. 

9. Try to manage less than 8 hours with your dog at the office- I noticed Pax would kinda lose it laying around by hour 6. 

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10. I brought tennis balls, towels from home, and CBD goodies for him. 

11. Patience and flexibility. It’s not going to go perfect because your pup is a living breathing thing!

12. Walk your pup if you can before going into the office to get some energy out!

13. HAVE FUN! If your dog is allowed to come to the office make it a positive experience rather than a stressful one.

HAVE YOU TAKEN YOU DOG TO THE OFFICE? I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! COMMENT BELOW AND SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH ME! WOOF!

You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it.

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YAY! Let’s talk grooming!

Luckily, we as a family have had the privilege of working with some fantastic groomers. They listen to our desires, concerns, and follow through with those wishes. I have also had the opportunity to be close by while the grooming magic happens and gained an education on the process.

DOODLE HAIR

Doodle hair can be extremely complicated to take care of and when it mats- it’s super frustrating for everyone including your pup. The longest we’ve had Pax’s coat was 5inches. As much as I loved my darling little puff ball he was miserable. Stickers would trench themselves in his hair, paws, and belly… we had to spend so much time working out tangles that it took away from fun things he could be doing. That wasn’t ok for us, so after our most recent road trip vacation we cut Pax down to 1 1/2 inches- and it’s made the biggest difference. We went from having mats covering his body and brush outs on the daily to no mats and brush outs 1-2 a week. Pax has more fun, it’s much easier to maintain his coat, and I can tell he’s happier not having to be groomed for 7 hours :)

CONSISTENCY.

It’s not your groomers fault if your dog comes in matted and leave the salon looking half its size. Some dogs mat more than others and if you aren’t diligent about brushing, combing, and detangling you’ll most likely have to shave your pup. Once the mat’s get attached to the skin, there is really no other way. Mats are NOT GOOD for your dog- they can cause infection and carry bacteria. Yuck. We use a bunch of products on Pax’s coat, and they are located here in my FAQ sheet. Try combing your dog once a day or a few times a week as you get started. Right now pax gets cut every 6 weeks and he gets a bath and blowdry every 3 (right in between) this helps with keeping him clean, that fur looking shiny, and us letting him sleep in our bed.

RESEARCH

When researching for groomers - ask around, or your doggo community at the dog park or even on social media can help you with referrals. Yelp and other trusted sources such as daycare centers could be helpful. Talk to your breeder or vet and do research on your breed in regards to how often they need to be bathed & how to take care of their coat.

COMMUNICATE

Communicate with your groomer. Show pictures, talk to them about the lines you like (ex: round head, round face & paws) learn about their process. Ask them how long they will take and if they hand scissor or razor. It’s ok to be a rookie- they’re the expert.

SPEAK UP

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So I use to believe it was rude for me to be so specific in Pax’s haircut. Like that it was ridiculous to want my dog to look a certain way. You guys- who cares! It’s your dog and the groomer is there to make you happy! Lesson learned! I’ve since mildly calmed down and only send in a powerpoint presentation followed by text messages every so often now a days :). When you communicate accurately to your groomer they get to learn what you want! How else are they going to know what you’re envisioning?

MINDSET.

Your dog is going to look different with a blowout and a haircut. Just like you do when you leave the salon. I think people have an unhealthy attachment to an image (myself included) and we get comfortable with one look - ESPECIALLY if you have an Instagram account! I’m just going to write it out loud that I have honestly thought about Pax getting a bad haircut and people not enjoying his content anymore. What a load of shit! WHO CARES. Hair grows back, it never looks as bad as you think it does, and keep your expectations low, so you’re always pleasantly surprised. Your dog doesn’t give a fluff how they look as long as they can eat hotdogs and run after tennis balls. Main point? Keep it light, keep your expectations low, and get over it. Trust me, you’ll still have followers. We have two ways to look at shitty situations - #1 let it define us “omg my dog got the worst haircut EVER” or #2 “haha he looks like a cheeto”… Cheetos sound way more optimistic to me don’t ya think?

IF YOU DON’T LIKE YOUR SERVICE.

It happens. It happens with human things too. Like I’ve literally walked out of the hair salon HATING my hair and telling the hairdresser that it’s ok. And instead of dealing with it and communicating to the person I was too uncomfortable and bailed and found someone else. You’re allowed to be unsatisfied or have questions about the service provided. If you like the reasoning you get then cool- if not, find another groomer. It’s all good. At the end of the day this about the well being of your dog, not about if the groomer likes you or not.

Below is my checklist that I share with my groomer. I would also suggest saving a few photos of what you like and what you don’t want.

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Haircut ready?

Comment below on what your biggest fear of getting your dog groomed is!

How to grow your Instagram account :)

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Ok, so I could write 30 pages on how to grow your Instagram but instead I’m going to put it in it’s most simple form.  First and foremost I want to share that growing your Instagram does not happen over night. I get this question over and over and over- “how did you get so many followers?” and it took 14 months to be even edging closer to 60k. It was a daily commitment. Whether that was to post, engage, and even take the photos. My screen time doubled and I felt very distracted from other actives in my life.  So you need to be aware of the commitment it takes to engage! For me, it was worth it. I felt joy taking photos, I enjoyed researching puns and becoming more proficient in my copy. I was able to take gifts/passions from childhood to the forefront. I use to take a million photos of my friends- I was the girl with the camera. Taking 250 photos a weekend. No joke. In high school photos covered my bedroom wall from the floor to the ceiling. I made slideshows of photos while using photoshop for fun. I invented a cartoon strip and developed a character. @paxthedood is that character for me now. Obviously, I love this outlet so much it has become a full time gig. It’s not always easy, fun, or exciting. It can be frustrating, annoying, & time sucking. But that’s any job right?

So here we go:

  1. Pick your subject. 

    • Is it you? Is it your pet? Who is your character?

    • This can be challenging when you have multiple animals. But it’s absolutely not a deal breaker- actually having multiple personalities can truly enhance the uniqueness of your account. Ok so now that you have your subject(s) what do you want to post about? 

  2. Your Voice.

    • Are you a human voice or an animal voice? Are you a mix of both? Are you cutesy or sarcastic? What is the tone of your subject. The way you caption your photos will tell your followers who you are. This is super important. The audience following MUST connect with you/your content. 

    • Creating themes of your photo can help the layout and aesthetics - it also provides consistency with your audience and they know what to expect

  3. Being OK with some people not connecting. 

    • So you have your voice, your shelling out content and perfecting captions but you aren’t gaining followers…I know it’s frustrating. Sometimes it just takes time and sometimes that audience just doesn’t connect with you. That’s A- O KAY. I believe you have two ways of looking at that. One, you change your content to match what your market wants or you don’t get a flying fluff what your market wants and post whatever you want. 

    • Who is your market? Turn on a business account and review your analytics. This will help you determine who you are writing to. Is it 18 year old females who will not get a movie quote from 1988? What time are people online? Testing optimal posting times can help boost your photo to be seen.

  4. What is your why? 

    • Understanding what your why is behind your account will truly help you with picking your subject, identifying your voice and being ok with not everything going to plan. So why did you start your account? Did you really just want to get insta famous? Even so, what were you looking for? Brand promotions? Worldwide friendships? A place for you to showcase your photography? Once you get clear on your intention of the account it will help lay out the next steps.

  5. What are the steps to growing your account?

    • First, just start. Create an account. 

    • Come up with a unique bio- who are you? Who is your subject? Why should someone follow you? 

    • Start following accounts that bring you JOY and that you connect with

    • Create content and post it to Instagram 

    • Learn how to take photos in good lighting and capture your audience

    • Download editing apps so that your pictures are at their highest quality

    • Research trending hashtags 

    • Identify larger accounts that you can tag to get featured

    • Create an engagement pod to boost your engagement

    • Be more consistent with Instagram stories

    • Use hashtags/tags in your Instagram stories 

    • Try something new- have you ever thought of doing an IG live or a giveaway!

    • Be consistent with posting- in the beginning I recommend every single day.

    • Geotagging can help people find you or local people in the area see your photos

  6. So you’ve tried all that but it’s still not growing.

    • Remember that in a sea of about 111 million users your account has a “competition”. Competition in my world is positive. It’s a term where we can learn about others and take what we like and what we don’t and improve ourselves. The instagram algorithm may not always favor your photo being seen amongst the rest of the millions of pet accounts. Don’t stress- come back to your why. Why did you start? Was it for fun? So keep having fun. You can enjoy the process with 5 likes and/or 5,000 likes. 

    • Use less popular hashtags- try using ones that relate to how many followers you have like if your account is small don’t target hashtags that are so much bigger than yours. Do a range of them. Example if you have 3,000 followers try has tags that are in the 50-5,000 range and then the 5,000-10,000 range and so forth. You’re photo will have a better chance to be seen than in a 1,00,000,000 used hashtag.

    • Not all brands or larger accounts will repost you. Learn their style. Do they want direct messages? Do they post if you email them? It should say in their bio how to get featured (hashtags, tags, DM’s are typically the most popular).

  7. Beating yourself up for not getting 5,000 likes?

    • Why? 

    • But seriously- WHY DOES IT MATTER? Ask yourself what the likes do for you? How do they make you feel when you get them or you don’t? How does it change who you are if a photo did well or it didn’t. Once you come up with that answer you’ll feel more content with posting freely.

  8. Stay balanced. 

    • Growing your Instagram takes time. It also takes guts and tough skin. You’re literally putting yourself out there everyday. So remember to use your support system of both friends online & offline. Do things outside of Instagram to keep it light and fun. 

These have been some of the successful ways my account has grown. I’d love to hear more from you on what has helped your account grow! Please email me at Nikki@leaderofthepax.com if you are looking to connect, collaborate, or get coaching on how to make these things happen in your own account! Xo

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Searching for Polly: The ultimate guide to finding your lost pup.

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A dog parent’s worst nightmare is the thought of their furry child getting lost or stolen. This nightmare came true for Polly’s parents when they out of town with Polly one weekend. Luckily, Polly was found safe and sound! Allie, Polly’s mom, learned so much about lost dogs and how to find them during the experience. With all this learning Allie wants to spread the word to make sure that if this happens to you - you know what to do! Take a read below & make sure to check out @thelifeof.polly on instagram!! These are incredible tips and I feel so grateful that Allie has shared this guide with all of us!! Happy reading & hug your furry baby close tonight!

Comprehensive Guide For Losing Your Dog: What To Know & What To Do

By Allie Schamburg

I decided to make this guide after losing my 5-month-old petite Goldendoodle puppy named Polly in a remote area I had never been to before. Trying to spend time fielding all the social media messages, advice, and internet articles while still looking for her, trying to gather the correct supplies and technology, make posters, leave scent trails, etc. made it really hard to figure out the best way to spend our time in each second. I am not a professional and this is just my opinion. But if someone is struggling I believe the information included here can provide most information needed in a consolidated place, so you can get back out there and spend more time looking and spend less time researching and gathering info.

First Things To Do:

DO NOT START SCREAMING FOR YOUR PET, calling loudly, frantically, shouting, or saying anything in a distressed or fearful voice. Even if you think you are masking your fear, dogs can often still pick up on this. If they hear distress in your voice or loud voices, they assume the situation is not safe. Then they may not come to you. Try using clapping and whistling. The crinkle of a treat bag. Your running car. Use calm, friendly, happy, conversational voices. Use words like their name, treat, or come. Don’t drag out your words in a calling tone. Try calling someone and talking on the phone while walking around. Them hearing your casual conversational voice could lead them to come out if they can hear you. If you are an owner, do try to talk in a conversational voice, so if your dog hears someone coming they have a chance to recognize your voice.

Look for them, look for them, keep looking! Most pets are found within 5 miles of where they were lost. Get as many people as you can to help look. The more people you have looking, the better your chances are. You don’t even need them to catch them, all you need is a sighting. The people that find their dogs the fastest are the people that do not stop looking from the moment they go missing.

Post online! (Details on how and where below.) Many towns have active Facebook groups specifically for your neighborhoods, lost and found pets, etc. Social media should absolutely be utilized. It is much easier to find a pet when an entire community is keeping an eye out for your furry loved one!

Flyers and Posters are the #1 way that pets get home, so be sure to get posters up and hand out flyers to your neighbors. (Details on how below).

Leave out Scents for them. Smells are the # 1-way dogs can find their way back to you. Cook up hot, smelly, and/or greasy food and put it outside. Rotisserie chicken, pizza, sausage, etc. The heat makes the scent travel further. Try breaking up the food in pieces to emit more scent. Put their dog treats or dog food in a bowl with water, heat it up and place that outside. If you can obtain a grill, even one of those mini portable grills from a convenience store that already has the briquettes in it. Get that and cook up some chicken or meat. This will keep the heated scents going longer. Place out articles of clothing of the owner(s). Underwear or things like jackets that you have worn a lot. Pillowcases or blankets you’ve been using. Place out items that smell like the dog - dog bet, blanket, harness, collar, etc. I have even heard to bottle owner’s urine and sprinkle out in the front yard. If the dog has been peeing and pooping where they were lost, that’s good too because they will pick up on the scent.

Article for what to do first: http://www.missingdogsmass.com/create-a-flyer?fbclid=IwAR3De7KDDOT0dUMFY36PZ8J0ft3E7Aiysrq_sBI-nWmKm4rxYUJUwKEUhp0

Great info for losing your dog while camping or in the wilderness: https://lostdogsofamerica.org/lost-a-dog-while-rving-here-are-some-tips-to-help/

Prevention:

Microchip your pets. Microchips do not have GPS but they have information, so if someone brings them to an animal facility, they will be able to identify you as the owners and will have your contact information. We use Save This Life. Save This Life also helps by creating a poster if you lose your pet.

Always wear a collar with name tag and phone numbers on it. 

If you are in an area that you think they may get spooked, be extra careful. Have them leashed. Do not leave doors open.

Buy a GPS tracker for your dog that attaches to their collar. Whistle Labs is one company that makes these.

More Tips:

If you are not familiar with the area, find a local(s) that can help you with the geography, correctly canvas the area, and even will know a lot of locals that can help go door to door letting neighbors know to be on the lookout. When I lost my puppy in an area I didn’t know at all, I had almost a sort of liaison for the city. She helped me understand the geography and terrain, which roads connected to which forests, who lived at which houses, who else could help us, best places to look, etc. This was an invaluable resource for us.

If you or someone else finds your dog, do not shout or chase after it. Sit or get low to the ground and stay still and calm. Have some treats on you. Try tossing the treats out at the dog to lure him/her towards you. Slowly inch towards the dog as you are doing this until you can grab them. If they run away, do not chase them as this will cause them to run further and make your search harder. Make sure you tell others helping this information.

Try to have one of the owners home in the early morning. This is often a time dogs feel safer because there is less going on, and they will try to find their way back to you.

Always be carrying treats with you, in case you see them so you can lure them to you with treats!

Leave lights on, and the door cracked open if safe so they can get back in if they find their way again.

Even if there are coyotes in the area, don’t worry or lose hope! Coyotes actually very rarely bother lost dogs. It is technically possible but much less common than perceived.

Even if it is snowing or below freezing, don’t lose hope! Dogs are actually very hearty and able to survive below freezing temps.

Try and look for dog paw prints in the dirt when you are searching.

Write “MISSING DOG” with phone number on all you vehicles. As you are driving around people may notice, and some people have found their dogs this way.

Try using a dog whistle. They may be lost in the woods and could be able to follow the sound.

Call and report your missing dog to the following:

  1. Your Microchip company

  2. Any local or state-wide animal rescue/non profit organizations (Humane Societies, Animal Rescues)

  3. Local police and sheriffs departments

  4. All local vets

  5. Local animal shelters

  6. Local news - request them to share your Facebook post

  7. Complete online listings on the following:

  8. Helping Lost Pets - pick your state: http://www.helpinglostpets.com/

  9. NextDoor - https://nextdoor.com/

  10. PawBoost - https://www.pawboost.com/

Facebook:

Create a Facebook post with details on the situation, location last seen, contact information if sighted, and picture of pet. Include something sentimental about how much you love your dog and need to find them! Ex. “Our dog is truly our family and we are devastated he/she is missing. We will do anything to be reunited as a family again. Please help if you are able!” Post it to the following:

VERY IMPORTANT that you post this directly from your own FB account and make it PUBLIC. This way, if people see your post on a private group they can still go to your profile and share it.

The Facebook group for the town that your dog is lost in. Ex. “Harpers Ferry, IA” This one is the most important to post on!

Facebook group for lost dogs in your state. Ex. “Lost Dogs Iowa”, “Iowa - Lost Dogs, Cats & Pets”, “Lost/Missing Dogs of Iowa”, “Cedar Rapids, IA - Lost Dogs, Cats & Pets”. Use the search function to find more.

Facebook groups for the kind of breed you have. Ex. “Goldendoodles Rock!”, “iheartgoldendoodles”.

Local buy/trade/sell page

Any other lost pet Facebook groups you can find

Instagram:

If you have Instagram, copy and paste your Facebook post and put in on Instagram as well.

Posters and Flyers:

Some local pet rescue organizations may be able to help you make these. Otherwise, supplies and instructions below:

Sign materials:

  • Neon poster board - 2 per sign, front and back - Dollar Store

  • Fiberboard - 1 per sign - Dollar Store

  • 36 inch Wooden Stakes - Hardware Store

  • Magnum Sharpie - Hardware Store

  • Gallon size ziplock bags - non-pleated bottom - Dollar Store or Hardware Store

  • Print 8.5x11 pics of your dog

  • Print 8.5x11 pic of your phone number - Word Doc or your can write the number with the thick marker

  • Staple Gun

  • Clear Packing Tape

  • Large clear plastic bags to cover the whole sign - Hardware Store or you can cover with clear packing tape or clear contact paper. The tape and contact paper hold up longer but is more costly than the bags.

Sign Making Tutorial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USOjceq8GXc&fbclid=IwAR3NjBd-h4ELBWmVJIo9gSJnro4h7cKnKW_Lj3D9Kblw0YbSFQnv_AL7yKw

Flyer Template - Get about 100 made and distribute to the area residents, stores, animal shelters, etc.

Example shown in photo above with heading “LOST DOG”

Caution:

Don’t Get Scammed: https://www.pawboost.com/blog/2017-4-21-how-to-recognize-and-avoid-the-lost-pet-scam/?utm_swu=4248&utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BewareScammersAgnosticLost&utm_content=link

Be careful about walking on to people’s property without asking first. Most people are incredibly kind and want to help but some can be dangerous so be careful.

If you are in an area with bears, be careful about leaving out food.

If it is hunting season and you are out in the woods, be careful. Buy orange hunting clothing.

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Notes from speaking with pet rescue professionals:

Dogs will do one of three: fight, flight, or freeze. If your dog is extremely small, it MAY freeze. This would mean hiding or burrowing. However, VAST MAJORITY of lost or scared dogs will flight. This means they will be moving on the run. Unless your dog thinks it could beat a coyote or wolf in a fight, it’s not going to fight. This being said, do not assume your dog is nearby cowering and hiding. Yes it is possible, but it is likely they have been running. They likely have traveled 1-2 miles. As time passes, this number could increase.

When dogs are afraid they run run run until they are less scared, then they slow down and explore, until they pick up a familiar scent…then start back tracking. If safe, leave house door open while you go searching.

Sometimes dogs won’t come out for one owner but will for another.

Leave the car door open anytime you get out to look while searching. Dogs have made a run for it and jump in while the owner was out hanging flyers.

Don’t expect your dog to act normally in this situation. It may be very scared and acting based on instinct. This could mean they will not come even if you call them, because they are too scared and considering everyone and everything a predator.

7/10 found dogs are found because they make their way back to you. 3/10 are found because someone searching spots them and is able to pick them up. 

Dogs go by scent more than anything else. 

Many dogs will come back and try to find you early morning when things are calm and quiet outside.

If at all possible, have the owner bring a chair and sit outside in the place the dog was lost from. They will be most likely to come up to you. Your scent will help them find you. Keep hot and smelly or greasy food out with you. Dog treats. Their dog blanket. Your underwear. Anything that smells like them and you will help them by providing a scent. 

Is your dog typically friendly or skittish and scared around humans? If friendly, they may “turn themselves in” to a human eventually. If skittish, they may be too scared to.

Does your dog like other dogs? If you have access to another dog bring them out to search with you. Their scent, especially if they pee and poop, could help lead your dog to you.

They will rarely make noise because they are scared of predators. If any noise, it would be crying.

Supplies to consider getting:

  1. Fat Max Spotlights

  2. Live Trap

  3. Drone

  4. FLIR Thermal Imaging Camera

  5. Orange hunting clothes if in woods

  6. If you can find someone with a blood hound, they may be able to help track

  7. Recommended Pet Rescue Organizations (that I personally worked with):

  8. HEART (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team) - Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin

  9. Humane Society of Northeast Iowa

  10. The Retrievers - Minnesota

  11. Missing Dogs Massachusetts

Pet Recovery Professionals:

These people can bring dogs that can track the scent of lost dogs. They can be very expensive especially if they have to travel. Make sure you have correct expectations; there is no guarantee they will definitely find your pet. In fact in my case, even though I was willing to pay, I was basically told the chance was so slim they felt it would not be ethical to accept the money and take the job at all. The longer your pet is gone the harder it will be for the tracking dog to find the missing dog.

  • Bonnie Hale, Pet Detective, Texas: http://www.lostpetspecialist.com/index.html

  • Angie, Lost Pet Professionals, Arkansas: http://k9pi.com/angie_rutherford.html

  • Karin TarQwyn, K9 PI: http://k9pi.com/

  • Buddha Dog Rescue & Recovery, New York/Tri State Area (have been told they are very hard to get ahold of, and they were not responsive to me): https://www.buddhadogrescueandrecovery.com/

  • John Keane, Sherlock Bones: https://www.sherlockbones.com/

Don’t lose hope! Dogs can survive weeks and even months on their own, even in the cold. I know a lot of information can be conflicting, even in this info packet. I want to leave you with the thought that YOU know your dog. The truth is, they could do any number of things. The whole time I thought my puppy was hiding somewhere near, she had actually been on the move and traveling a very far distance. I was thinking more about her tendency to be fearful, but thinking back, she is a Goldendoodle who loves to run so I should have thought about that possibility sooner. As long as you are trying, what ever you are doing is NOT WRONG! Think about your dogs personality and maybe what they would do in this specific situation. I know you cannot predict it but there is no one answer, so go with your gut. Or better yet, try multiple different tactics. Keep switching it up. Remember to give them clues so they can try to make their way back to you. And don’t give up until you find them!

Stories - To Give You Hope & Ideas:

Polly’s Story:

It is truly a miracle that we were reunited with Polly. Here is a picture of her right after she got back to us. Some friends and I were staying out in Harpers Ferry, IA for a fun cabin weekend. On Sunday morning she got spooked while the front door was open and took off sprinting. I went screaming yelling after her as fast as I could but she was gone just like that.

What was a fun relaxing weekend with friends quickly turned into a nightmare in a remote unfamiliar area in the country. No lights, vast, heavily wooded areas with extremely steep cliff-like angles, slippery mud leading down to creeks. Huge fields with tall thick brush, huge thorny branches and burrs everywhere. Coyotes and the possibility of eagles or wolves. Our hope was that Polly make it out of the forest without getting stuck or eaten and would get back up to a house, but many of those were empty as many are weekend homes. This was in freezing cold rain and heavy winds in the low 40s. We didn’t even have boots or coats for the first maybe 7 hours. We just kept walking through forests fields or around houses looking. It was also hunting season there. One of the most terrifying parts was when a man actually lock and loaded a gun and pointed it at me for being on his property even though he knew I was just looking for my lost puppy.

We took turns sitting out on the porch all night in case she showed up. We each slept maybe 1-2 hrs total. I have never been more scared than I was this weekend in my whole life.

However, the most fantastic part of this story is the people. Every time I was about to lose hope and break down, someone was always there to hold me up. Strangers and family alike. There is no way we ever could have done this alone. Our family and friends, all the non-profit organizations and volunteers, professional pet rescuers and the social media communities were all amazing in helping us. HEART (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team), Humane Society of Northeast Iowa, The Retrievers. But the most amazing was the people of Harpers Ferry and the surrounding areas. The entire community dropped what they were doing to help search for her and gather any resources possible. I was astounded at the non-wavering hope in finding this tiny dog and their relentless efforts to find her. Debbie Mink, thank you for being my guardian angel throughout this entire situation. We could not have done it without you.

I am tearing up again writing this. So many tears throughout this weekend. But the best was Polly’s tears of happiness when she was finally reunited with us. A kind man found her out in his yard 3 miles from our cabin. As soon as he came outside, she walked right up to him. She wanted to be found by humans and was essentially turning herself in. He brought her right in with dog food after 26 hours out in the wilderness, read her dog tag, called us, and we came and picked her right up. It’s estimated she traveled 10-11 miles based on a sighting the previous morning. I’m so proud of Polly for getting out of the forest and finding a home with people there.

It was truly a miracle she was brought back to us, and I am so happy our family is reunited again. Thank you again so much to everyone for your love, support, advice, help, & prayers. And GO POLLY for making her way back to us!!

Pax's Pumpkin Poofs!

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Pax recently had a spout of giardia. While he had it, we had to switch his diet a few times. First, he was eating chicken and rice with his medication and a probiotic. Once we saw he was starting to feel better, we switched him back to his my ollie. It’s essential to change their food gradually- and even then there may be some tummy issues. It’s common for dogs to struggle with a bout of diarrhea and then to constipation. When it comes to constipation here are some signs to look for: 1) straining to go to the bathroom 2)scooting on their booty 3)hard or dry stool 4) not going to the bathroom for several days.

A few recommendations that our vet gave us were to feed Pax 1-2 TBS of canned pumpkin & 1-2 TBS of low-fat Keifer. It was also recommended to bake a pumpkin loaf or bread that is dog-friendly. I found a couple recipes and put one together.

Pumpkin Puppy Ball Ingredients:

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie mix)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1 cup quick cook oats

  • 1 Tbsp. Coconut oil

  • 1 egg

  • ½ tsp. Vanilla

  • 1 Tbsp. honey

  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt

  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. Ginger

  • ¼ cup water

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Pumpkin Puppy Ball Directions:

  • Preheat oven 350° F.

  • Lightly grease or spray the cookie sheet (we lined foil on the sheet)

  • Place oats in blender or food processor and pulse until oats are about half powder.

  • Then place all remaining items from the list in a large bowl and mix together.

  • Grab spoonfuls from the ball and roll the dough into a ball.

  • Sprinkle oatmeal on top of each pumpkin ball to add crunch.

  • Bake for 15-16 minutes until tops are golden brown.

When muffins have cooled store in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Check out this article by the AKC on dog constipation and support they need.

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-constipation/


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Tips for when you work from home & have a dog!

Working from home has it’s major perks. One of the best parts about working from home is hanging out with my best buddy all day. It also has it’s benefits such as increased happiness, reduced stress levels, increased productivity, more hugs and exercise! But it’s not just as simple as us gazing into each other’s eyes all day. Many times throughout the day I feel guilty about Pax in the house too long or not surrounding him with furry friends all day. So, I make an effort (well, I use to before the accident) to take him on a good 20-25 minute morning walk a 15 minute late afternoon walk and take him to the park in the evening every night to run around with all his little friends. Right now, it’s been tough since I don’t mobility to take him walks and I can tell he gets restless. However, dogs are very intuitive and he’s been sleeping a lot while I’m recovering. When I’m on conference calls or have meetings I don’t have an office with a receptionist taking packages or answering other phone calls. It can get a bit noisy when I’m in my home office and amazon delivers in the middle of the day and Pax decides he’s the man of the house and says hello to the mail man.

Here are some tips that might be helpful! 

  • Exercise your pup in the morning- they will then be ready for nap time! It will also be a great way for you to start your morning. 

  • If you can try and take a break at your lunch time and take your dog out for a quick walk to stretch both of legs!

  • Don’t take yourself so seriously! Your pup might want your attention, bark, walk on top of your keyboard- it’s all OK! Enjoy these moments- they are reminders not to take life so seriously! 

  • Hire a dog walker. Even though you are at home and you might feel like you “SHOULD” be able to do everything your job might not allow you the flexibility. This is a great opportunity to hire a dog walker or a friend that has a flexible schedule could help out as well. 

  • Try puzzle games to entertain your pup while your working away at your desk. 

  • LET GO of the mom guilt. It’s OK to entertain your pup and play a round of tug a war a couple times and give them a big belly rub. 

  • It might be easier to let go of guilt to set up designated play times. It is also important for you to stay in charge and not to let whimpers distract you or to give in. 

  • You may want to try crate training if your pup is a chewer or provide proper mental stimulation! 

If you work from home and have tips- comment below! 

Hi, My name is leave it!

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Pax's middle name should be leave it or drop it or NO and  I've heard from so many other  puppy parents that they have the same challenges. I have also received many questions in relationship to puppy training which I am not adequate to answer since I am not trained in dog behavior....only human :)

I feel so fortunate to have connected with Nicole Parayano with PupScouts Dog Training to answer some of your most frequently asked questions! Now, there are MANY MANY MANY different types of dog training out there and some techniques work better for different dogs so just know that when working with your pup!

Here are Nicole's answers to your questions: 

1) Should my puppy go to dog training? Absolutely! There are so many options that you can look into! You may find a great trainer in your area that can give you awesome one-on-one guidance with you and your puppy, or you can enroll your dog in group training sessions which tend to be a great opportunity for your pups to socialize! Some families might choose to self-train, while others might opt for sending their pups off to a board and train program. Regardless of which way you go, training your pup is essential! A tired pup is a happy pup, and by training with your dog, you are stimulating their brain, and get them physically AND mentally tired! Training helps build a firm foundation and a positive relationship between you and your pup, and who doesn't want that?! By training basic obedience commands, socializing, exercising, and understanding your dog's needs, you will likely avoid problem behaviors that many families run into.

2) How young should i take them? Training begins the moment they come home. My beloved Cookie, who passed away last year, entered my life at 8 weeks old, and the moment I took her home, we worked on potty pad training and responding to her name. The very next day Cookie adjusted to wearing a collar. Little things that might seem meaningless all serve a purpose! Every interaction with family in the home was made a positive one. You might not know it, but your dog is watching you and they are learning that the things that they do cause you to react in a certain way. Puppies have a short attention span, so depending on their age, you're lucky if you can get 5 minutes in! Of course, when you get a new dog they have to adjust to their new life in their new home. After all, we've just flipped their lives upside down! They've been taken from their littermates and their momma, and now here they are, with new sights, new sounds, and new smells! Try not to overwhelm them and go at your own pup's pace :) It's never too late to start training with your pup, however, the earlier that you can start, the better!

3) How does training help? Training builds trust and it also creates mutual respect. Training is also a great solution for energetic dogs! You stimulate the brain and make them think. By using all that mental energy, they'll be pooped in no time! Training may also save your dog's life. For example, someone leaves the front door open, and Fido bolts out the door! A quick, "Fido, come!" would make him turn around and head safely into your arms. Another reason why training your dog helps is because fewer trained dogs end up in a shelter when families invest some time and effort every day to commit to training with their dog. 

4) Which parent is the alpha? Anyone can be a leader in your dog's eyes if you have a history of reinforcement with them. The respect is earned, not given and I don't believe that there has to be ONE leader. Your dog will interact and work with both parents, in their own way. However there might be times when you are both together, and Fido seems to gravitate toward mom more than dad. For example, Cookie, my previous pup was phenomenal with all of her basic obedience commands, her tricks, and her ability to distinguish a specific scent. She listened perfectly with me, and she also performed just as well with my partner. But put us both in the same room with her and she'd likely choose me (almost) every time. The respect is there, but because I spent the most time with her, fed her the most, trained with her the most, etc., I had a slightly stronger bond with her. If you want your pup to listen to you equally, then you both need to put the same amount of work and effort into training with your pup.   

5) How can i get my dog to listen to me? When your dog doesn't listen to you or your commands, it can definitely feel quite frustrating. What I find helpful is allowing my dog some exercise before training. If they've got pent up energy, how can they focus on you when all they want to do is GO, GO, GO? Allow them some time to release that energy and then work on training. It's also important that you remain consistent with training. Sit down with each member in your household to ensure that all the verbal commands, hand signals, rules, and boundaries are all the same among everyone. If one person lets Fido on the couch and you keep telling him to get off, he's receiving mixed signals! Another thing to keep in check is your energy. Dogs will listen to and respect someone who is calm and assertive. Dogs feed off your energy and your body language and if you are nervous, unsure, or angry, you're giving off the vibe that you aren't in control. Lastly, if your dog isn't listening to you, maybe it's because they don't actually understand what you're trying to relay to them, so go back to the basics and work on whatever it is that you're doing needs to work on. Training takes a lot of time, and hundreds of repetition and reinforcement for the dog to perform the way you want them to. 

6) My dog pulls on their leash, how can I get my pup to stop!? This can depend on how old your dog is. As a puppy, it's normal for the dogs to pull back and "halt". Puppies are likely to refuse to move forward, chew on the leash, pancake to the floor, or pull back because wearing a collar and a leash is totally foreign to them. However, if your dog is older, they're likely pulling, instead of anchoring themselves to the ground. When walking with your dog, sometimes a quick "U-turn" helps. A "U-turn" is when you're walking forward, notice them pulling, and you quickly walk in the opposite direction. This requires a lot of patience, time, and treats. I always carry treats on me, and you can also try a luring method. What you can do is take a treat, keep it close to your dog's nose, and begin walking with them. When they are at a pace and placement that you like, you can release the treat to your dog, followed by verbal praise, and the command that you choose to call it ie: "heel". Begin walking forward again with another treat luring your dog to match your pace and stay in a position that you approve, and then release the treat! In order to have a harmonious walk, you need to practice, practice, practice! Some trainers find that standing still until the leash relaxes works, and that is definitely something that you can try doing as well.  Reward FREQUENTLY, walk ROUTINELY and remember to keep your energy in check. The more frustrated you are with the situation, the less likely your dog will want to focus on learning with you. I like to practice leash walking skills in the home first, so your dog is free of any distractions, and then you can eventually begin the same practice outside. 

7) How much food should I reward my dog with? It depends on your dog's age. If you are using treats to reward your dog, good for you! But make sure that you are using low-calorie training treats that are small and chewy because with training and treat rewards, you're likely going to be giving them a ton of treats! Bigger treats that take time to chew on take time away from training because you're spending several seconds waiting for your dog to finish just that first treat! Some younger pups can use their kibble for training in the beginning. You can use their whole cup of breakfast/dinner, or half of their breakfast/dinner for training if you feel so inclined. Keep in mind though, that you want to gradually wean off treat rewards. Once your dog has mastered the given verbal command and/or hand signal, you can replace a treat with a pet on the head, a belly rub, verbal praise, etc. But the goal is to eventually remove treats from the equation. If your dog is given treats every time for the same command, they will likely lose interest and no longer perform the command as consistently if you stop the treats cold turkey.

8) My dog has a social anxiety problem, how can I help him? It's so important to socialize your puppy at a young age to avoid having social anxiety. However if it seems like your dog already is socially anxious, you should start slow with public interactions. See what exactly makes your dog anxious or fearful; is it another dog? A specific person or type of person? Is it the sounds of cars passing by? Figure out what exactly makes your dog anxious and work your way toward desensitizing and normalizing those things to your dog. Desensitizing your fearful or anxious dog requires a lot of time, patience, and positivity! Take it slow. It's important that you don't cuddle them or try to comfort them when they are in their fearful mode, as this reinforces the scared behavior and teaches the dog that it's okay to be afraid because they will be rewarded with hugs. Make every outing fun. The process of socializing your dog and desensitizing your dog can vary depends on how badly they react to whatever it is that is scaring them.

9) Every time I leave my pup at home they are crying for me.  Sounds like your pup is anxious! Or bored. Your dog probably isn't used to being along or having their own separate downtime, away from you. This could be a small form of separation anxiety, and it's definitely something that you want to take care of ASAP. First and foremost, I like to use a crate for my dogs while I'm away. I can leave my dogs in their crates for short amounts of time with a toy and that way they aren't having any accidents while I'm away or destroying everything around them in a panic frenzy. Whenever your dog is crying, whatever you do... DO NOT give in and return to your dog. This will teach your dog that if they cry, mom or dad will always come back, and this allows them to control the relationship. You need to desensitize your dog to you leaving them alone. Start small and give them short amounts of downtime to themselves while you're home. Leave them alone and stay just outside the door, quietly. Eventually, distance yourself further and further, and increase the length of time in which you are away from your dog. When they're quiet, you can come back to them and calmly let them out (feel free to give them a treat too!). But you just don't want to let them out until they are quiet. It's also helpful if you leave them after they've exhausted their energy! A good way to exercise them is taking them out for a walk before leaving, having some playtime, etc. It's best not to leave your dog home alone or away from you while their energy is off the charts! Leave them when they are calm, do not make a big deal out of you leaving or coming home, and set a daily routine! I like to calmly acknowledge my dogs after about 5 minutes of coming home when they're also calm(er). Another thing you can try doing is leaving them alone with a puzzle toy or Kong toy stuffed with PB! Give them something tasty to focus on instead of you leaving. 

10) To crate train or not to crate train? I love crate training. A crate or kennel serves many purposes! If you haven't been reading this in order, I've mentioned the positives of using a crate quite a few times :) Just a few of the positives about crate training: - It's the quickest way to potty train! - Provides a safe space for your pup and keeps them from getting into anything harmful while you're away. - Creates a den and their own "safe space".

11) How to stop puppy nipping and redirect?  As a puppy, it's completely natural for them to want to chew on things. They are exploring the world around them and are unaware that their teeth are razor sharp. Your puppy also doesn't realize how much is too much when using their mouth. There are a few things you can try doing. 1) I like to yelp really loudly or loudly say, "OW!!!" and ignore my dog for several seconds after they've chomped a little too hard. Gradually by continuously "removing" playtime and yelping loudly, your dog will learn that biting too hard takes away the fun time. 2) When your pup bites too hard, yelp loudly, wait until they've stopped, and then try giving them a treat that they CAN chew on in place of your hands. 3) Keep tons of great chewing toys available for your dog to play with and chew on. Some toys are interactive and are only fun to your dog when you're playing with them, so if they go for your hands, immediately redirect them to chewing on the toy instead! Remember, your puppy is probably teething right now and needs lots of things to chew on. They will soon begin losing their teeth and it's not very comfortable for them. As they lose their teeth, you can also try soothing them by giving them frozen or cold toys to chew on, it helps with numbing their gums a bit. Eventually, their razor little teeth will turn into adult teeth.

12) How do I know what aggressive play is between puppies? Dogs use signals to communicate with one another. You can tell a dog is trying to play when they "play bow". A "play bow" looks like your dog's rear end is up in the air while his front half is down. This is displayed just before a dog begins to play with another dog. Another way you can tell that a dog is playing is when your dog looks like they're panting, but their mouths are open wider than normal; you can just see in their faces that they are happy, bouncing around, and having fun. I recommend you look into pictures and videos of what aggressive and play body language truly look like to get a sense of what your dog is trying to communicate with the other dog. If things begin to get too heated, separate the two dogs for "time out" several minutes before beginning to play again. This will take time, but eventually, the "aggressor" will learn that this behavior takes away the reward (playing) and they will learn not to behave that way. Keep an eye on the pups, notice the signs, and interrupt their playtime before it gets too crazy. Playing with other dogs is healthy and a great way to not only burn off extra energy, but it's also a fun way to socialize.

13) How much exercise does my dog need? The amount of exercise your dog needs is dependent on 1) the breed type 2) their size 3) their age 4) their health. For example, a Yorkie will not need as much exercise as a German Shepherd. A 12-year-old dog will not require as much exercise as a 6-month-old puppy. While most families simply take their dogs out for walks or to play fetch, there are various ways to exercise your pup! - Training and having them work for treats (Remember that training and teaching your dog new tasks or commands, or simply reinforcing old ones helps to exercise the brain!) -Setting up small (or large) obstacle courses - Scenting/tracking and using their noses and brains - If you have multiple dogs, let them play together and tucker themselves out. Figure out what works best for your dog :) 

14) How to stop digging holes? Digging is a natural behavior in dogs. Your dog could be digging for various reasons: - They're bored and they find that digging at the moment relieves them of their boredom 2) They're trying to escape (anxiety due to separation, something that is scaring them such as thunderstorms, etc) -They smell something or hear something that is enticing to them in the ground 3) They are digging to create a hole to cool down in and escape the heat 4) They're trying to hide their toys/treats. So if you're trying to stop your dog from digging holes in your backyard, you need to figure out the "why". Why are they doing it? And go from there. If they are chewing to get away from the heat, provide them some more shade in the backyard or somewhere to cool down or bring them in.. If they are digging due to boredom, give them toys that they can play with. If they are digging because they're afraid of a thunderstorm, bring them in. If they are digging because of a smell or something in the ground, get rid of rodents that are enticing them and look into finding some sort of digging deterrent. -Make sure they get enough exercise before leaving them out by themselves as well. If you catch them in the act, stop them as they're doing it with a loud "UH UH!!" or whatever "negative" marker word you have for your dog. 

15) Does my dog know how to swim? A dog will naturally begin "doggy paddling" when they're in the water, but that doesn't mean they're capable of actually staying afloat. Some dogs might even be quite fearful of water! You can deduce what the case may be for your pup, but I highly recommend purchasing a floaty vest for your pooch to wear when in the pool regardless! Better safe than sorry!

Nicole is a professional dog trainer in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has been training for several years and has excellent reviews from her clients. For more information about her training services please check out @PupScoutsDogTraining  and at https://m.facebook.com/PupScoutsDogTraining/?ref=page_internal

 

Can I bring my dog?

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I get this question multiple times a day when I post about taking Pax to different places. So how do I know where to bring him and where I can’t? First off, I just take him. If I’m not allowed in the store, it’s probably better for my bank account and respect the wishes of the store no problem. I’ve been bringing Pax to various locations since he was 8 weeks old and attached to my hip in his sling. To me this was an essential part of his development because he was socialized with sounds, smells, small children, the elderly, men, women, other dogs, birds, cats, and most importantly Nordstrom’s- duh. Now here’s the thing, when your male pup is going through its puberty stage it might want to mark a lot of , so it’s probably not the best time to take your puppy to Bloomingdales. Also- self-check time; is your dog polite in public? Is it well trained to not bark, bite, jump, or run from you? Think about how hard that will be on YOU to take your pup with you. Although, it seems like the best fantasy of having your furry bestie with you while at ALDO looking at shoes… it’s A LOT. You guys, dogs don’t speak English (WAH!!), and they have leaf ADD where they see one flying by and they are distracted immediately! One time Pax was so over shopping at Forever21 he saw a bird outside, somehow wiggled the leash out of my hands (that were full of clothing), ran out the door, I followed him with ALL THE CLOTHES and the alarms went bonkers!! I dropped all the clothes on the ground, chased my dog, and had to come back in and tell them I wasn’t stealing anything and my dog just felt I didn’t need to tell me I didn’t need another romper. Have you ever been in a store and your dog had to poop in an aisle? Can you imagine being in IKEA lost in the maze of kitchen sets looking for a poop bag? Truly, truly, truly ask yourself, is this worth it? It can be exhausting to bring Pax out sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I’m more on guard than when he’s not there, and I’m checking the video feed every 5 minutes. Luckily, Pax is very well behaved. He sleeps under my desk at work, lays down while I’m getting my hair done at my salon, and stays right by me in the store. This took training, dedication, and trust between us! Look into a local trainer to get some tips about choosing to take your pup in public places! 

Also, before you head out, google the stores or even call and ask can I bring my dog? Every store, city, state will have their own rules that regard dogs in the store. Additionally, many stores leave it up to the manager to decide to allow dogs or not. Some restaurants will be ok with it as long as you are sitting outside and some places will have a dog-friendly menu! It will ultimately depend on the owner and rules of that specific place. San Diego is exceptionally dog-friendly; we are fortunate. At one of the most beautiful malls in the region, they have dog water bowls outside almost every store. Restaurants have dog-friendly menus; you can bring your dog to many different bars and even take them to the movies! So you’ve thought about it, and your pup is well behaved, doesn’t need to pee on everything, and you want to go to the mall… 

Here are some ways you can find out about dog-friendly places in your area: 

1.     Bring Fido- this app tells you local spaces and places that allow dogs
2.    Google – this platform can tell you just about everything about everything

Here are some US National dog-friendly places (again, these may differ in your local area!)


1.  Nordstrom
2. Home Goods
3. TJ Maxx
4. Lowe’s (Depends) 
5. Home Depot
6. Forever 21
7.  Pottery Barn
8.  Macy’s
9.  Bass Pro Shops
10. Barnes and Noble
11.  LUSH Cosmetics
12. H & M
13. Anthropologie
14. Gap
15. Party City
16. Bloomingdales
17.  Urban Outfitters
18.  Free People
19.  Petco
20. Petsmart
21.  Tuesday Morning
22.  Hobby Lobby
23.  Ross
24.  Bed, Bath, & Beyond
25.  Footlocker
26.  Sephora
27.  Ann Taylor/Ann Taylor Loft
28.  Tiffany & Co. 
29.  Bath & Body Works
30.  Hallmark
31.   Bebe
32.  Old Navy
33.  The Apple Store
34.  Warby Parker
35.  Saks Fifth Avenue
36.  Tractor Supply Co. 
37.   Some IKEAs
38.  CVS

Do you have any to add to this list?! Write in the comments if you know of additional places! 

References:   Bark Post- Dog Friendly Stores

 

Going on vacation without your fur child? Check out these tips!

Leaving your furball for the first time, second time, or thirteenth time never gets easier. Whether you are leaving for a couple hours or several weeks it never feels good to know your pup is at home away from you. It’s challenging to head off to your vacation knowing that you’re pup will be in the hands of someone else. We all have a special way of taking care of our special family members. I spend more time with Pax than anyone else and understand his mannerisms, when he needs to be brushed, how to calm him down, when he’s hungry, and when it’s time to go potty . Leaving him is extremely uncomfortable for me for many reasons. First, I feel a lot of guilt. I feel that I shouldn’t be leaving him and that concerns me for when I become a human mom because I know how important it is for me to do my own thing. I think the other challenging thing is that Pax doesn’t speak English so he doesn’t understand when I say I’ll be back buddy. Next, I worry that someone else is not going to treat him like I would. 

We have used rover 3 different times. The first time we used rover we had a terrible experience with the couple watching him.  So, how did we make sure that didn’t happen again? We have interviewed about 20 people since that time. People often ask me if they can help out or watch him but we like paying for a service for those who work from home or that this is their full time work. I want Pax to be their main priority. I am an over communicator and as you know I love photos. The next two people we have used on rover have been fantastic. Sending multiple photos every couple hours, constantly checking in and putting me at ease. They have brushed him out knowing the importance for keeping his fur untangled, giving him kisses and belly rubs, listening to all of my instructions and asking more questions if they are confused. These are SO appreciated by a traveling mama. 

So, I bet you’re wondering what you need to do to prepare in leaving so here are some tips to check out before you leave your fur baby for vacation: 

  1. Figure out if you want a family member, friend, or service to watch your pup.

  2. If you have a family or friend - talk with them about payment and their schedule up front.

  3. Recognize you’re expectations about dog sitting and what you truly need from someone.

  4. If you’re going outside of family or friends- interview multiple people or canine services.

    1. Questions to ask:

      1. How long have you been doing this?

      2. How do you discipline dogs?

      3. What is the dog pees in the house?

      4. Do you have a dog?

      5. How many dogs do you watch at time?

      6. What type of exercise/activities do you do?

      7. What is your typical schedule when you are watching dogs?

      8. What do you do with the dogs if you need to leave the house?

      9. Where will my dog sleep?

      10. What information do you need from me?

  5. Write down all parts of your dog’s schedule including the food they eat and how much.

    1. What to write:

      1. Your name, phone number to reach you at, vet contact information

      2. Emergency contact information, any dietary restrictions or allergies

      3. What to feed your pup and how much/times of day

      4. What type of exercise your baby needs and how much

      5. Sleeping habits

      6. Bathroom habits

      7. Bathing needs/grooming needs

  6. Set up an interview - bring your pup to meet all the people you are interviewing. Watch the interaction both between you and the potential sitter and your pup and the sitter.

  7. Trust your intuition and never be uncomfortable to ask for what you need and what your expectations of the individual or service. Remember it is always better to be transparent and upfront in the beginning rather than be reactive later on.

Additional questions? Email me!

xoxo 

nikki

Building your tribe!

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When you go to the park and all you wanna do is take cute pics of your pup, it helps to have someone who just gets you. Dog mom's just understand when you are making silly noises, waving toys above your head, teasing your pup with treats in order for them to smile and look at the camera. These people are called your tribe, your squad, your betches, your pod, your crew. I've had the pleasure of meeting more people especially women over the past 6 months than I have in the 5 years I have lived in San Diego. Having a dog is like being in college and you have automatic friends. I have had the fortune to connect with women around the world through instagram and here locally in San Diego. To get more involved with doodle pods on instagram start an engagement group! Find other pups that you feel you relate to (by their content, pics, breed, etc) and send a direct message! Ask them if they would want to join an engagement group...what is an engagement group? These groups can consist of 16 people max and the common goal of the group is to comment and like in order to gain more following on one's instagram page. Instagram works off an algorithm that is based on engagement...so the more activity on your post, the more your picture will be seen. So once you've reached out to as many other accounts as you like (0-16) set some ground rules. Some groups will be more loose with no deadline on needing to like and comment or others will say must comment and like within 24-48 hours, etc. Each group can come up with their own rules! Hopefully, the group will become more than just an engagement pod. Use it to ask questions, lean on your peers, get advice about posts, etc. 

Building a squad outside of the internet takes effort! But you gotta dog so you have to put the effort in anyways. Join local and national doodle (or your breed) Facebook groups. They should have dates of doodle romps or dog play dates. Exchange numbers, set up playdates, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. We take Pax to a local park every single day. The same people are there and our conversations started with hey how are ya what's your dog's name to what's your number let's grab a glass of rose! It's so easy to make friends with other dog parents because they care about their pup's well being just as much as you do about yours! Break the ice, ask a question about their pup (people love to talk about themselves!) and start to build a conversation. Here are some ice breaker tips: 

  • Oh you're pup is so cute, what is his or her name?

  • Hey I feel like I've seen you here before and no this is not a pick up line :)

  • Our dogs play so well together how old are they?

  • What kind of dog do you have?

  • Bring up something you are struggling with and ask another parent if they have ever experienced the same.

  • Ask about dog friendly bars/restaurants in the area and if they have any recommendations.

Check out the following:

  • Meetup.com

  • Petco (They have open puppy classes on the weekend)

  • Facebook groups (local and national doodle or your breed groups)

Remember building relationships take time and connecting to people who are in the same place in life as you are and that you can relate to is very valuable!