Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Service for Pet Sitting Clients

Maybe you are like me, juggling kids, keys, and carpooling.  Have you ever locked your keys in the house? or the car?  I have, and usually my husband rescues me from disaster!  But if he were out of town, or busy in a class or meeting, I would have to wait hours or call a locksmith.  And that can be expensive.

That is why I have added Emergency Lockout Service to my list of pet sitting services.  If your keys are in my files, you can call me day or night to let you in your home...for much less than a locksmith.  Check it out! 

One of my clients woke me up at midnight to get their house key.  I didn't mind; they were bringing home their new twins!  Call me. Really!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When Your Dog Barks

    Dogs bark for many different reasons.  They can communicate with you through their vocalization.  Your dog can show surprise, yelp in pain, whine, and sometimes even sound like they are saying words. They can bark at intruders, alert you to dangerous medical problems, call for help (remember Lassie?), and yes, they can bark for hours on end at nothing at all.  How, then, do we eliminate the "problem barking?"

1)  Reward the behavior that you want to keep (the quiet times).
     If your dog starts barking in frenzy when you come home from work, and you greet him with hugs and pats, you have just encouraged him to bark more every time you come home.  By giving him love and attention immediately after he barks, he learns that barking gets attention.
    Instead of rewarding the barking, reward the quiet times.  Ignore your dog's barks when you come inside.  Change clothes, sit down, read the paper.  When he is sitting quietly by your feet, give him one small treat (as small as a single piece of dry dog kibble).
   When you exit your home, and your dog is staying home alone, do not make a big deal out of your leaving.  Get ready for work, sit down, read the paper.  Leave when your dog is quiet and not paying attention.  Do not say goodbye or call any attention to the fact that you are leaving.  Staying home alone is not a big deal.  Don't make it into a big deal by calling attention to it.

2)  Extinguish the behavior you want to eliminate.  Decide in advance what you will do when you hear the inappropriate barking. Choose an unpleasant consequence that you deliver immediately upon hearing your dog bark.
a.  Go to your dog instead of calling him to you.
b.  Deliver a stern "NO" in a tone of voice that commands attention.
c.  Follow this with either a two-finger tap on the nose OR a quick spray in his face with a water bottle.
    The idea here is NOT to hurt the dog, but rather to give an unpleasant sensation to teach the meaning of "NO."
d.  Immediately leave the dog's presence.  Do not play with him or give any attention to him.

3)  Let all the people in your dog's life know the new system.  Everyone must be consistent in their training and treatment of your dog if you are to eliminate the unwanted behavior.

What have you tried?  What works for your pet dog who barks too much?  Leave a comment below.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Protect your Pet from Halloween Candy!

Why is chocolate bad for dogs? 

Chocolate can contain methylxanthine, which is a caffeine-like stimulant. If eaten in large amounts, chocolate may cause dogs to vomit and have diarrhea,  pant, have greater thirst and urination, be hyperactive, have abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even die in severe cases.

The darker the chocolate, the higher chance of problems from methylxanthine poisoning. Baking chocolate contains the highest and white chocolate, the lowest, level of methylxanthine. As few as 20 ounces of milk chocolate (about 13 Hershey's chocolate candy bars)—or only two ounces of baking chocolate—can cause problems in a ten pound dog.

Be sure your Halloween treats are kept up high, out of reach of pets.  You may want to keep your pet confined in a back room on this night of trick or treating.  Children in costumes may be scared of your dog and your dog may be scared of them!

Dogs Love Pumpkin!

  It's October and what could be better for your dog than a little pumpkin? Dogs like to eat it and it's good for them! Pumpkin is full of beta-carotene, which aids in cancer prevention, reduces inflammation, and converts to Vitamin A in the body. Dogs need fiber, too! Pumpkin is high in fiber, good for digestive health. Use a  small amount of canned or fresh pumpkin puree for dogs with upset stomachs or motion sickness.  Be sure it is plain canned pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix, which is full of sugar and spices.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dogs are Begging for Food?

Begging is one of the most common behaviors that you will face as a dog owner. We would like to give them everything that they want. When they start begging, it's almost too much for us to bear... and we give in!
With a little fortitude, here's how you can correct this behavior. Follow these simple tips:
  1. Do not give food. This may seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised how few people consider it when they're looking into the wide, wet eyes of their precious pup. Their whine is an effective tool against you, and your dog knows it. Why? Because it's worked before! Giving food is a form of affection, and giving affection reinforces the behavior. Your dog has learned that if he begs, he gets food! Take a stand and start a new trend. Find the willpower to withhold the food, and your dog will learn that he can't expect rewards for begging.
  2. Ignore. Begging is an attention-seeking behavior. Rather than give in to doggy's demands, ignore the behavior and teach your dog that it does not get results! When you talk to your dog, give him affection, or engage in direct eye contact, you are feeding his mental state. Instead, practice no touch, no talk, no eye contact.
  3. Don't feel sorry for your dog.. Your dog is well-fed. He is not in danger of going hungry if you don't give him that scrap off the table. Don't feel sorry for him when he flashes you those eyes and places a paw on your leg. If you are worred about how much your dog should be fed, talk to your vet. This can help ease your concerns and allow you to remain calm and assertive!
  4. Be consistent. In any kind of training, consistency is the key to success. For your dog to learn that his begging behavior is not allowed, it has to be ineffective ALL of the time. Inconsistent enforcement of the rules leads to a disobedient dog! Make sure that every person in the household understands and enforces the same rules.
  5. Be patient. Few dogs change overnight. If you have followed these tips to the letter and your dog continues to beg, don't give up. Your reward will be a better behaved dog!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hugged Your Pets Today?

Ok, y'all, it has been scientifically proven. Hugging your pets is good for you! Specifically, it raises your oxytocin level. Oxytocin is a hormone that makes us feel good. And, Cortisol (the stress hormone) goes DOWN in humans after spending some time with their pets.

I knew I was enjoying walking the dogs! NOW, I know why!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day Jaunts

Wow, the summer has really flown by! Labor Day has come and gone. Thankfully, I was booked by lots of pet-loving clients over the holiday weekend. I met some new people and renewed acquaintance with several others.

Hubby and the kids cleaned house while I was out and about walking dogs, feeding cats, and generally having a great time with pets! My 13 year old son LOVES to go with me on petsitting visits. Spending time with dogs and cats is so good for both of us!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keep your Pets Cool

Summertime is here, and according to Eric and Barbie at WLBT, it's going to be hot for a while longer!  When we get hot, we can get a cool drink, go inside, or set the thermostat a little cooler.  Our dogs and cats can't do that, so it’s up to us to be sure they don’t overheat.
With the dog days of summer before us, pet owners should beware of the dangers of heatstroke in pets.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that results when pets cannot adequately rid themselves of excess body heat. Pets rely on panting to cool down. Although panting is a very efficient way to control body heat, it is severely limited in areas with high humidity or low ventilation. The intake of cool, fresh water improves the cooling effects of panting.

Dogs with pug noses are more likely to develop heatstroke because their small nasal passages make it difficult to circulate sufficient air for cooling. Overweight dogs, whose extra layers of fat act as insulation, are also prone to overheating. Age can also be a factor in an animal’s tendency to overheat. Very young pets and elderly pets are more likely to develop heatstroke.

For information on the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars, or in other potentially hazardous situations, see

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How To Pick a Good Companion Dog

If you are thinking of a dog as a good companion, you may be tempted to first look at some of the more popular breeds, pick out some puppies and then select the character that you want. And there are hundreds of breeds to choose from - just think of the Artois Hound and the Francais Tricolore. But, try looking for a dog that fits your personality. Seek a pet that is the picture of what you planned and can bond with you. Whether the dog is a puppy or an adult is not really a consideration most of the time. Breeds may have a certain reputation, but there are no hard, fast rules. These tips, though, can help you find a good companion dog.

Search for a puppy or adult that has a personality that fits your own needs and your experience. If you have handled dogs before and have experience, then a more dominant, independent dog may work for you. However, if you are not aggressive yourself or are not used to working with dogs, a submissive animal may be a better choice for you. When you are looking at puppies or small dogs, try to turn it over on its back. A dominant dog will oppose you, trying to turn it over. If it fights to turn over, try to comfort it. If it settles down shortly, it is more submissive. If it does not struggle at all, but just relaxes, you have a very submissive dog.

A dog that is fairly quiet and requires little care is better for you if you are more laid back yourself. If you have an active lifestyle, you may discover a more active, hyper dog to be more your style. If you spend much of the day away from home and your dog would be alone during that time, you want to find a dog that is a little independent and is less likely to suffer from separation anxiety.

You also want a dog that will be your companion dog to be smart and eager to please. This will make it easy to teach it what you want it to know and it will be eager to learn the skills and perform them. When you take your dog out in public, you don't want a fear biter or a dog that is aggressive to strangers. Of course, avoiding this will come from socializing the dog frequently.  The quick-learning dog will pick up cues from you when determining who is friend and who is foe.

Dogs can be superb companions, when they have the right characteristics for your needs. Also, while many folks feel that only puppies can be trained, this is patently false. Many adult dogs are rescued from shelters daily and they are trained quite easily. The key to training a dog is bonding with it. When you have bonded with your dog, it will do anything that you ask. They will learn to anticipate what your needs and will even try to find new ways to communicate with you. If you are attentive, you and your dog can establish your own special form of communication and this can give you a companion dog that is invaluable.

Article is available at

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Growing up on a Farm

When I was a child, my family had all kinds of animals.   Daddy had hound dogs, bird dogs, yard dogs, but never a house dog.  I remember Lucky, our English shepherd, loved to run in the pasture to help Daddy with the cows.  Yep, we had cows and horses, too.  Chickens and pigs rounded out our crew on the farm.

Our summers were spent baling hay, putting it in the barn for the animals to eat in the winter.   For six years I raised a hog for my 4-H project.   We would buy a March-born pig from another farmer, get it at weaning age, and I would take care of it until the fair in September.  We knew just what week the pig needed to be born to get to the right weight by fair time. My sister and I walked our pigs down the lane beside our house to get them ready for the show.  At the fair we bathed them and shined them up with oil.  I still have my showmanship trophy and lots of the ribbons.

And I still have the work ethic that I learned from caring for animals and gardening on the farm.   As teenagers my sisters and I could not go to every activity and event that was offered in town.  We worked in the gardens until nightfall, ate supper late, and got up early to go to school the next day.  We helped my mother with canning and freezing and pickling and preserving all of the produce that the family would eat all year long.  Valuable lessons were learned on the farm.

Today I live in town.  A hot Mississippi town.  We have nine kids, and not much room for them to have outdoor pets.  And some of my close family members are allergic to indoor animals.  So I get my puppy love by visiting friends with pets and caring for the pets while their people are out of town. 

Call me to help you take care of your pets.  Your first "Meet the Pet" visit is absolutely free!  601-750-2896

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Meet the Pet Sitter

Pet Sitter Meet and Greet

Here are some tips for your first meeting with a potential pet sitter.

1)  Does the pet sitter arrive on time for your appointment?  Punctuality (or the lack thereof) can tell you a lot about a person's attitude toward you and your pets.

2)  Is the pet sitter prepared for this meeting?  Did he or she bring forms such as a vet release, information sheets, etc.?  A professional pet sitter will also be prepared to answer any questions you may have.

3)  Is the pet sitter insured and/or bonded?  What does the insurance coverage mean to you as a pet owner?

4)  How does the pet sitter approach your pet?  Does he or she know how to make your pet feel at ease?

5)  Does the pet sitter have references  you can call to make sure they performed their tasks properly in the past?

6)  Does the pet sitter offer the "Meet the Pet" visit for free?

7)  Does the pet sitter write down all of the instructions that you give about the care and feeding of your pets?   Attention to detail is the mark of a professional pet sitter.

You will get all this and more when you call me to be your pet sitter in the Jackson, MS, metro area.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Road warrior survival guide

By Susan Sims of Fido Friendly magazine

What to pack for a road trip with your dog

Vaccination records
Keep a copy of all vaccination records in your doggy's duffel bag. Should an emergency arise once you are on the road, you will have the important information you need. You will also need these records when boarding Fido for the day or overnight if you take in an excursion where your furry companion is not allowed.
Collar and leash
Remember that taking Fido out of the car for potty breaks must include his collar being secured and him being leashed (don't forget the poop bags). A foreign territory brings unique smells that are oh so hard to resist, and your little darling can escape before you can say, "Sit, stay."
Fido won't want to get lost, so be sure that he has a current tag with an emergency phone number firmly attached to his collar or harness. Most people travel with a cell phone, making this the perfect number for your dog's tag.
First aid kit
There are a number of doggy first aid kits on the market, and if you have the time, you can even put together your own. Some essentials to include are:
  • Tweezers to remove ticks
  • Stypic powder to stop toenail bleeding
  • Eye wash to flush wounds
  • Gauze bandage
  • Adhesive tape
  • Scissors
  • Antiseptic moist wipes
Food and water
Be sure to bring along Fido's favorite food so as not to upset his stomach. There are great road-worthy foods and treats on the market. If you will be cooking for Fido, make the food ahead of time, and pack it along with your own goodies.
Your dog is used to drinking water from your hometown, and when traveling it's a good idea to bring along as much of Fido's drinking water as you can, and rely on bottled water as back-up.
Seat covers and blankets
Vacations are supposed to be fun, and nothing says fun like four muddy paws...not! Protect your seats with covers and blankets made especially for your type of automobile. Be proactive: Always carry additional towels and wipes to clean off your rambunctious Rover.
Safety restraints
Did you know that in some states seatbelts are now mandatory for Fido? When you think of your best friend as a projectile in case of an accident, you understand the wisdom of securing Fido to keep both of you safe.
Beds and crate
Don't leave home without Fido's favorite blankey or bed. You don't want him sleeping on the guest bed...or do you? Bring sheets, too, so if your furry companion is accustomed to sleeping on the furniture, he won't leave any tell-tail signs.
If Fido calls his crate his den, then bring it along for a good night sleep during your vacation.
Fun stuff
Don't forget the toys! If Fido is a nervous Nelly when staying away from home, help ease his discomfort by bringing as many toys from home as you can. Familiar smells and chew toys will help calm even the most anxious pet.
If Rocky is a Rock Monanoff aficionado, by all means pack his favorite CD for his and your listening pleasure. 
Double-check hotel reservations
You are ready to go--but before you back the mini-van out of the driveway, call your hotel to confirm your reservation and that they are expecting Fido. Nothing says bummer like a newly implemented "no pets allowed" policy since you made your reservation.
Now you are prepared to hit the road with Fido knowing you have thought of everything. Safe travels are in store--and don't forget to pack your copy of Fido Friendly magazine for more great travel ideas.

©2009 DogTime Inc. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Voluntary Recall of Pro-Pet Vitamins for Dogs

United Pet Group Voluntarily Recalls Pro-Pet Adult Daily Vitamin Supplement for Dogs Because of Possible Salmonella Health Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- June 22, 2010 - United Pet Group, Cincinnati, Ohio is voluntarily recalling all unexpired lots of its PRO-PET ADULT DAILY VITAMIN Supplement tablets for Dogs due to possible Salmonella contamination.  The Food and Drug Administration is aware of this recall.
The product was sold nationally at various retailers.  The product comes in 100-count white plastic bottles with a light blue label, and UPC code 26851-01800.  These products are being removed from retail stores and consumers should immediately stop feeding these supplements to their pets.  The affected products are those with expiration dates on or before "06/13". The expiration date can be found imprinted vertically on the right side of the product label.
 Laboratory testing has revealed that one Lot of this vitamin product was contaminated with Salmonella.  The company is recalling all unexpired Lots of the product out of an abundance of caution.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
People who handle dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products. Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Consumers who have purchased the product are urged to contact United Pet Group or the place of purchase for further direction. Consumers may contact United Pet Group at 1-800-645-5154 ext. 3, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm EST.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Separation Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety exhibit distress and behavior problems when they're left alone. The most common behaviors include:
  • Digging and scratching at doors or windows in an attempt to reunite with their owners
  • Destructive chewing
  • Howling, barking, and whining
  • Urination and defecation (even with an otherwise housetrained dog)

Is it separation anxiety?

If most, or all, of the following statements are true about your dog, he may have a separation anxiety problem:
  • The behavior occurs primarily when he's left alone and typically begins soon after you leave.
  • He follows you from room to room whenever you're home.
  • He displays frantic, over-the-top greeting behaviors.
  • The behavior occurs whether he's left alone for short or long periods.
  • He reacts with excitement, depression, or anxiety to your preparations to leave the house.

What causes separation anxiety

It's not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and others don't. But it's important to realize that the destruction and house soiling that often occur with separation anxiety are part of a panic response. Your dog isn't trying to punish you for leaving him alone.
Following are some common scenarios that can trigger separation anxiety:
  • A dog accustomed to constant human companionship is left alone for the first time.
  • A dog suffers a traumatic event, such as time at a shelter or boarding kennel.
  • There's a change in the family's routine or structure or the loss of a family member or other pet.
How to treat minor separation anxiety
  • Don't make a big deal out of arrivals and departures. For example, when you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes then calmly pet him.
    Leave with your dog an article of clothing that smells like you, such as an old T-shirt that you've slept in recently.
  • Establish a safety cue—a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog you'll be back.
  • Consider using an over-the-counter calming product that may reduce fearfulness in dogs.
How to handle a more severe problem
Use the techniques outlined above along with desensitization training. Teach your dog the sit-stay and down-stay commands using positive reinforcement. This training will help him learn that he can remain calmly and happily in one place while you go to another room.
Create a "safe place" to limit your dog's ability to be destructive. A safe place should:
  • Confine loosely rather than strictly (a room with a window and distractions rather than total isolation)
  • Contain busy toys for distraction. Kongs with peanut butter or kibble inside can provide something to chew.
  • Leave one of your worn T-shirts that will have your scent on it
In the Meantime

It can take time for your dog to unlearn his panic response to your departures. To help you and your dog cope in the meantime:
  • Ask your veterinarian about drug therapy. A good anti-anxiety drug shouldn't sedate your dog but will reduce his overall anxiety.
  • Take your dog to a doggie day care facility or kennel when you have to be away. Caveat:  the group setting can make SOME anxious dogs worse.
  • Leave your dog with a friend, family member, or neighbor when you're away.
  • Take your dog to work with you, if possible.
  • Hire an overnight petsitter when you are away for longer periods of time.
What won't help
  • Punishment. Punishment isn't effective for treating separation anxiety and can make the situation worse. The destruction and house soiling that often occur with separation anxiety aren't your dog's revenge for being left alone: they're part of a panic response.
  • Another dog. Getting your dog a companion usually doesn't help an anxious dog because his anxiety is the result of his separation from you, not just the result of being alone.
  • Crating. Your anxious dog may still engage in anxiety responses inside a crate. He may urinate, defecate, howl, or even injure himself in an attempt to escape. Instead, create other kinds of "safe places" as described above.
  • Radio/TV noise. Leaving the radio or television on will only help if you have conditioned your dog to radio or TV as a safety cue.  See above.
  • Obedience training. While formal training is always a good idea, separation anxiety isn't the result of disobedience or lack of training; therefore, it won't solve this particular problem.

Adapted from The Humane Society of the United States

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Housetraining your Adult Dog

Ok, you've done a great thing: you have rescued a dog. You have brought the adult dog home and realized that your dog needs help in the potty department. Good news: you CAN teach your old dog this new trick, sometimes in as little as three days.                                                                                                       

(1) Take time off work (or hire a pet sitter) to train your dog. Someone has to be there to take your dog out for bathroom breaks several times a day.                          

(2) Use a crate from the first time you bring the dog into your home. Dogs don't like to mess up their sleeping areas. The crate should be just big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

(3) Take your dog out to potty at least six times a day. Never keep your dog in the crate longer than they can hold it. Take your dog out to the same spot in your yard each time. Use a phrase such as "Go potty" or "Do your business." Before long the command will become associated with the activity and your dog will eliminate on cue.                                                                                                                    

(4) Give abundant praise when he gets it right. Give a treat immediately for successes. Positive reinforcement is the key!                                                                                                        

(5) Clean up accidents with an enzyme cleaning product that gets rid of the odor. Don't punish your pet for an accident that you did not see occur. If you see your dog eliminating in your house, shout or clap your hands and quickly take him outside. Punishment for mistakes actually makes house training harder.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Emergency Preparedness for Pet Owners

With all of the natural disasters that are occurring in our country and around the globe, it's only natural that you want to be prepared to take care of the animal members of your family. When disaster strikes, be prepared!

Emergency checklist for your pets:

  1. Store enough pet food and bottled water to last 72 hours, preferably one week.
  2. Prepare a shelter or evacuation kit for your pet to include: unbreakable feeding dish, vet records and contact information, leash or restraint, medications with instructions, pet carriers.
  3. Keep your pet's ID tags up to date with your pet's name, address, and phone number, and immunization tags.
  4. If you are traveling without your animals, make sure your pet sitter is notified if you are delayed out of town by an unforeseen disaster.
  5. If you must evacuate your home, take your pets with you! Or make arrangements with someone to be responsible to care for them. Your pets are depending on you to care for their needs.

Dog Days of Summer

It is HOT here in the Jackson, MS, area. Makes us wish for a little more of that snow we saw last winter. Come August, it's gonna get HOTTER. And you could use a little R&R out of town in a cooler locale, right? That's where I come in: let me take care of your critters in your home while you are away. I love dogs, cats, birds, fish, and rabbits. I don't do snakes.

Benefits to you: your animals are happier and healthier in their own home environment while you are away. You have peace of mind about your home and pets, knowing that a competent, caring individual will be looking after them while you are away.

Become a follower of my blog!  Look over on the right hand side of this page and click on Follow!