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Things to Consider Before You Get A Pet This Christmas

Cute pets wearing Santa Hats

Should You Really Get Pet This Christmas?

It seems perfect, right? The family has been talking about getting a pet why not surprise them? The kids need more responsibility, a pet would be the perfect way to give them that. But it’s not always perfect. Here are some things to consider before you get a pet this Christmas.

#1. Does Everyone Want A Pet?

Before you set out to get a pet you might want to make sure everyone is on board with the idea. Everyone should also agree on what kind of pet your family might want. While you are thinking of a cute little kitten, your family is thinking more along the lines of a Golden Retriever.

#2.  Aren’t you Already Busy?

Christmas is a very busy time of year for everyone. There is shopping to do, presents to wrap, parties to attend, and family to entertain. And what about after the holidays? There is work, school events, afterschool programs, and so much more. Puppies and kittens require a lot of work! Are you going to able to add that to your schedule? Puppies need training, playtime and frequent potty breaks. Kittens need playtime too, as well as training (yes, I said training). Routine is important for any animal, so make sure you can keep your pet on a regular schedule before you get a pet this Christmas.

#3. Holiday Visitors

Christmas is a particularly hectic time with family and friends dropping by to celebrate and exchange gifts. Your doors will continually be opening and closing. This is the perfect opportunity for your new puppy or kitten to get lost in the shuffle of Christmas celebrations.

#4. Cost

Those cute little furry kittens and puppies can cost a lot of money, so make sure you take all costs into consideration before adding a puppy or kitten to your home. Here are a few things to think about:

Veterinary care – From initial vaccinations to monthly heartworm treatment. There is also the accident or illness that may happen. And don’t forget your pet requires a yearly check-up just like you.

Supplies – There’s food, toys, beds, carriers, treats, leashes, bowls, collars and so much more.

Daily care – If you decide to get a puppy what will you do with that puppy every day that you are at work and the kids are in school? Puppies need to get out to go potty and eat in the middle of the day. If you can’t come home during the day, you will have to hire a dog walker to come in to care for your puppy while you are at work. Kittens also need a lot of personal interaction and feedings, so unless you already have other pets in the house and open feeding your kitten will need attention during the day also. A pet sitter is a great way to socialize your kitten as well as provide much-needed playtime and food.

This list only scratches the surface of the costs that can arise.

#5. Are You in It For the Long Haul?

So you get a pet this Christmas, but it will be with you for many Christmases to come. A dog or cat is a long-term commitment. Our shelters are overflowing as it is and after the holidays it gets worse. Pets are not something to play with on Christmas break and the discard at the animal shelter when it gets too difficult or costly.

Cats and dogs can live for 20+ years. Are you willing to make that commitment? What are your future plans? Are you moving? Traveling? Planning a family? How will your pet fit into your life not only now, but in the future?

#6. Do You Have Other Pets?

Before you get a pet this Christmas, take the pets you already have into consideration? Christmas time is very stressful for everyone, including your pets. It might be a good idea to wait until after the holidays, when everything has calmed down, before adding another pet to your family. How will your current pets accept a new pet into the family? Remember, most of your pet care costs are going to double when you add another pet to the family.  

Final Thoughts

If you have decided to get a pet this Christmas, please consider adopting from your local rescue or animal shelter after the Christmas holiday. This will give your pet time to adjust to its new environment and you will be saving a life. Millions of unwanted pets are euthanized each year across the United States. These unwanted pets are wonderful animals (I know I have six) who just need a family to love them. Most rescues and shelters offer gift certificates and you can make it a fun family outing after the holidays, while still giving the kids something to open on Christmas day.

How can Dances with Dogs help? Our Professional Pet Services can take some of the pressure off your busy schedule as well as help you with training your new dog or cat. Contact us!

 

 

 

 

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

Dog lifting weights wearing blue hat, blue shorts and gold chain

How much exercise your dog needs depends on several factors.

Owning a dog carries a lot of responsibility, food, water, veterinary care, love, and exercise. But how much exercise does your dog need? Generally, dogs need between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise per day. How do you know where your dog falls on that timeline though?

Dogs need to get out and explore their world so daily walks are important for not only their physical health but also their mental health. Walking, however, is not always enough. Here are some things to consider when thinking about how much exercise your dog should get and what type of exercise is right for them.

Health Advantages

Just as exercise is good for your waistline, exercise is also good for your dog’s waistline. Exercise will help keep the weight off, keep muscles toned and help extend the life of your dog. Exercise is also good for the mind. If you have ever experienced a bored dog, you know they can become destructive as a way to burn off excess energy.

Age

No matter whether your dog is young or old, they need exercise. But the age of your dog will be one of the determining factors in how much exercise your dog needs. Age is also a factor in what kind of exercise your dog should be getting.

We all slow down as we get older. While our senior dog will always enjoy getting out to sniff and stretch their legs, take your dog’s advancing age into consideration before setting out on a long, strenuous hike. Old creaky bones are not going to enjoy a high impact run through the neighborhood either.

Dog’s under one year of age should also avoid high impact exercise as their bones are not fully developed. Young puppies will not have the stamina to go very far either.

Breed

Some breeds are higher energy than others and require more physical exercise. Other breeds are much lower energy and require much less exercise. So, while some breeds will only require 30 minutes of exercise per day, others will require 2 hours of exercise per day.

A word of warning for owners of brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Boxers, Boston Terriers, etc.: These dogs are prone to heat stroke, so use caution when exercising your flat-faced breed.

Types of Exercise for Your Dog

While walking is a great way to exercise your dog, it is not the only way.

Letting your dog out into your yard to exercise himself will usually not work. Running along the fence line barking at the neighbor’s dog may get some of his physical energy out, but it is most likely not good for his mental health. And expecting him to run around by himself is something most dogs don’t do. If you have more than one dog and they are close in size and age, then you usually have a built-in dog park. Dog play can be a great way to expend energy, but keep in mind it is difficult to know how much exercise your dogs are really getting, so it is best not to count this as the main way they are getting a workout.

If your dog likes to retrieve, then playing ball can be a great way to get some of that pent-up energy out.

Training your dog is the perfect way to exercise your dog’s body and mind. A few short training sessions a day will not only improve your dog’s health but will improve your bond together.

Before Getting Started

Before you start an exercise program with your dog it is a good idea to talk to your vet. Your veterinarian will tell you whether your dog is ready and how much exercise you should begin with.

How Can Dances with Dogs Help?

Our dog walking service can get your dog out when you are working long hours, not physically able to get your dog out for a walk or you just don’t have enough hours in the day. Our training program is perfect for people who want a better-behaved dog, have limited time but can squeeze in a few short training sessions a day, and want to further strengthen their bond with their dog. Contact us if you would like to learn more.

Destructive Behavior in Dogs: Causes and Solutions

Golden retriever ripping up bed

Destructive behavior comes in many forms.

Chewing, digging and playing are all very normal behaviors for dogs, but sometimes they can get out of hand and become destructive behaviors. One of our dogs destroyed two sofas in a day. Any destructive behavior can be very frustrating, but there are things you can do to help your dog and correct these behaviors.

Why is your dog destructive?

There are several causes for destructive behavior. Here are a few of the more common ones.

  • Separation anxiety – This cause deserves to be at the top of the list as it probably the most common reason a dog exhibits destructive behavior. Dogs with separation anxiety can exhibit behaviors such as tearing through walls, urinating and defecating in the house, excessive vocalizing, and other destructive behaviors. These dogs are so attached to their families that they frantically greet their owners when they return home and may follow their owners from room to room. There are a lot of reasons for a dog having separation anxiety from a death in the family (human or another pet) to a move to a new home. 
  • Boredom – if your dog is not getting enough social interaction or exercise her or she may expend that excess energy on your furniture.
  • Teething – If your puppy is chewing on things it shouldn’t be, it may be because they are teething and their gums are painful. Chewing can relieve the discomfort.
  • Attention-getting – Sometimes negative attention is better than no attention. If you are not reinforcing your dog for being good, but reprimanding your dog for being bad, your dog may be being destructive just to get attention from you.
  • Fear – If your dog is afraid of loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms your dog may be trying to escape which can be destructive. Besides your doors, walls, windows and door frames being damaged this can be particularly dangerous for your dog. A panicked dog that is trying to escape can be severely injured.
  • Barrier frustration – Some dogs, like some people, don’t like to be confined to small spaces. So, if you are confining your dog to a crate, bathroom or laundry room they may be destroying things because of being confined in such a small space. Dogs with separation anxiety are prone to dislike being confined.
  • Investigating – Dogs investigate by using their mouths and paws. Your dog’s destructive behavior may be caused by him or her checking out something new or unfamiliar to them.
  • Playing – Your dog’s normal play behavior may result in damaging objects. Dogs love to dig, chew, run, shred, but they may be shredding your sofa, chewing your shoes, or digging up your garden.
  • Hungry – If you are inconsistent in feeding your dog you may have a dog who is destroying things because they are hungry and in the search for food.
  • Not feeling well – Just as with teething puppies an adult dog with gum issues may take to chewing to alleviate the discomfort. Dogs with pica will eat non-food items. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian. 

What you can do to help curb your dog’s destructive behavior:

For dogs who are bored or left alone for long periods of time you can hire a dog walker to come in while you are away. A professional dog walker knows how to alleviate the boredom and give your dog some much-needed exercise and mental stimulation.

If your dog is destructive because they are not getting enough exercise, get out there and walk or play with your dog. If you don’t have the time you can hire a professional dog walker or pet sitter to come in and tire your dog out. A tired dog is a better-behaved dog.

Keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule to help prevent him or her trying to make their own meals.

If you have a teething puppy make sure you are providing enough appropriate things for them to chew on.

For more serious issues such as separation anxiety, fears or phobias please consult with an animal behaviorist.

And if you suspect your dog’s destructive behavior is caused by a medical issue please consult your veterinarian.

Does your dog exhibit destructive behavior? Contact us for more information on our dog and puppy training as well as our dog exercise programs.

Choosing a Dog Walker? 5 things to Look For and Consider

Dog waiting and begging to go for a walk with the dog walker.

Is your dog left at home for long periods of time because you work long hours, you have a long commute, or because you are often asked to stay late? Or maybe you would like to stay at work later to work on that well-deserved promotion. No matter your reason you have decided you need to hire a dog walker to come in and give your dog a much-needed potty and some exercise break during the time you are at work. But how do you go about choosing a Dog Walker that is right for you? Here are 5 things to consider.

1. Are they a professional Dog Walker?

A lot of people offer to walk dogs to earn some extra cash, but are they true professionals? Do they have the availability you will need? What happens if they are unable to fulfill their commitment to walk your dog? Do they have an emergency plan in place?

Another thing to consider when choosing a dog walker is do they know how to handle emergency situations when walking your dog? Do they know what to do if they encounter an off-leash dog? Do they know how to keep your dog safe during hot summer walks? Will they be able to manage if your dog should become ill? Have they had any formal pet first aid/CPR instruction?

A lot of people love dogs, but not everyone can be a dependable, skilled Dog Walker.

2. Are They Online?

There are so many ways to check out a company. Read reviews from some of their clients via review sites, such as Angie’s List.

Do they have a professional presence on social media? What kind of information are they writing about and sharing?

Visit the website of the company you are considering. Do they make contacting them easy?

3. Ask Your Friends and Family Who Their Dog Walker Is.

Dog walking with a dog walker.

You most likely know someone who has a dog. Who do they use to walk their dog? If they love their Dog Walker they will be happy to share their experiences.

This is also a great way to find out what dog walking services their dog walker offers and why they chose to use that company.

If your friends

4. Can You Call and Talk to Someone?

What better way to start learning about a business than picking up the phone and talking to someone. It will give you a chance to not only learn about the people working for the company but also learn about what services they offer.

The initial contact with a company will give you a good indication of what you can expect in the future. 

5. What Types of Walks Do They Offer?

Professional Dog Walker Exercising Dogs In Park

Dog Walkers may offer group walks as well as private walks. While it is lovely to think of your dog out with a group of his or her friends on a group walk, it may not be a situation your dog is comfortable being in. If your dog is not the social type, walking with a group of dogs may not be fun for them. You should consider your dog’s comfort level around other dogs.

Private walks give your dog more one-on-one attention. If your dog is not the social type, private walks may better suit them. On a private walk, your dog will be able to go at his or her pace, taking time to take in the scents along the way. Getting a chance to sniff is very important to your dog’s health and well-being.

Contact us to learn more about our commitment to providing you and your dog with the highest standard of service and care.

 

 

 

 

What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs? Does Your Dog Suffer From It?

What is separation anxiety in dogs? Does your dog suffer from it? Here is my experience of living with a dog with separation anxiety, the signs to look for and what you can do to help your dog if you suspect he or she is suffering from separation anxiety.

Dog looking out window

Dogs with separation anxiety may chew through walls to get out and find you.

Many years ago, I adopted a beautiful four-month-old puppy from a couple who kept him in a dark, hot garage 24 hours a day. They rarely let him out, even to relieve himself. It was four horrible months for this little guy, so when I brought him home he was immediately attached to me and panicked every time I had to leave him. The first two weeks weren’t too bad as I had taken vacation time to help him adjust to his new life with me, but I did notice that when I left the house, even for a brief time, he would panic.

I once ran up to the local store, leaving my puppy gated in the kitchen, only to receive a call from my alarm company stating my alarm had been triggered, again. This time the poor guy had pulled the microwave off the counter. One of the previous times he had knocked over the cabinet where I kept my china. He ate through the drywall by my front door and urinated and defecated all over my house, no matter how many times I took him out. All because I left him.

A well-meaning friend suggested I crate him. He turned that crate into a twisted mass of metal. It was incredible he didn’t physically hurt himself. I cannot imagine what torment that poor dog went through.

I hired a trainer to help me help him, but he needed more than a trainer. This was 30 years ago, before I was a trainer. Today, trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists know so much more about how to help dogs with separation anxiety. This is not to say that there is an easy fix for separation anxiety, there isn’t. But you can help your dog if you are willing to put in the work.

What are the symptoms of separation anxiety?

  • Getting upset as you are getting ready to leave.
  • Overly excited when you return.
  • Urinating and defecating in the house while you are away even though they have had ample opportunities to relieve themselves before you left.

    Dog destroying item

    Dogs with separation anxiety may become destructive

  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Destructive behavior
  • Vomiting

What you can do to help:

  • First things first, see your veterinarian in order to make sure there isn’t some underlying issue that is mimicking separation anxiety.
  • Feed your dog just before leaving the house. This can help your dog associate something positive with your departure.
  • Keep your departures and arrivals low key.
  • Provide your dog with lots of interactive toys to keep them occupied.
  • Sometimes adding another dog to the family can help, but there is no guarantee.
  • There are medications that may help, but they are not long-term solutions.
  • Hire a dog walker or pet sitter to keep your dog company while you are away.

    Sad dog

    A dog with separation anxiety may be helped if you are willing to put in the work

One or more of the solutions above may help your dog cope with their separation anxiety. Be patient, it may take some time to figure out what works best for your dog.

Do you think your dog suffers from separation anxiety? Contact us to see how we can help.

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?

So, you have decided you would like to add a dog to your family. Wonderful! Dogs are great for getting you out of the house for some exercise, they are therapeutic and lots of fun. But how much does it cost to own a dog? 

Puppy in lap

Should you purchase a dog or adopt one? Weigh the cost.

Before adding a dog or any pet to your household it is important to determine how much your dog is going to cost you on a yearly basis. Not just how much it will cost to purchase or adopt your new pal, but how much it will cost for food, training, veterinary bills and more.

Let’s look at some of the costs you will incur.

Purchase or adoption

If you are set on a pure breed puppy your purchase price could be as much as $5,000 if you get your puppy from a reputable breeder. Shelters and rescue organizations also have purebred dogs up for adoption, but you may not get that cute 8-week old puppy (see our blog on the pros and cons of getting a puppy). If you have your heart set on a particular breed there is a rescue group for every breed out there. Shelter adoption fees can range from $35-$75, and usually include vaccinations and spay/neuter and microchip. If you decide to adopt from a rescue organization, adoption fees can be anywhere from $200-$700 depending on the breed and the rescue’s expenses. These dogs too are vaccinated, spayed/neutered and microchipped.  

You can save quite a lot of money if you are willing to adopt a puppy and even more money if you adopt an adult dog.

Veterinary Care

Just ordinary annual vet care is going to cost somewhere between $100 to $400. This does not include possible emergencies which can run into the thousands of dollars. While pet insurance can help with some emergency expenses, most companies do not cover annual vaccinations. If you insure your pet, which we think is a great idea, you will usually have to put out the initial expense of emergency or extraordinary veterinary care. You then get reimbursed for a portion of that care. In the long run, pet insurance can save you a considerable amount of money.

You will save a good amount of money if you adopt from your local shelter or rescue as these dogs are already spayed/neutered, which is a big expense. Rescue dogs are also vaccinated, so you could have as much as an entire year before your new dog needs to be vaccinated again.

Heartworm, Flea and Tick Control

Heartworm can cost as much as $300 per year depending on the size of your dog. Flea and tick control will run anywhere from $50-$250 per year.

Dog balancing cookie on nose

The cost of food will depend on the quality.

Food and Treats

If you want to feed your dog nothing but the best, it can cost you as much as $600 per year depending on the size of your dog. If you are not picky about what your dog eats you can most budget for about $150 per year, but you may spend more on vet bills.

Bowls, Beds, Toys, Leashes, and Collars

This is an area where your personal style and tastes can affect your monetary output. If you are looking for designer items, you will usually spend more than if you are shopping at your local dollar store.

You might be able to find some great items at your local garage sales or local buy, sell trade groups.

Training

Yes, your new dog is going to need training. Group classes usually start at around $125 for a six-week class, but if your new buddy needs more personalized private training you could spend anywhere from $60-$100 per hour depending on where you live and the experience of your trainer.

Grooming

Dog grooming can be very expensive depending on your dog’s breed and coat length. You also must take into consideration how often you want your dog bathed and how much effort you are willing to put into the process. Are you comfortable trimming your dog’s nails and expressing their anal glands? If this gives you pause, then your grooming bill will be more. In other words, your short-haired Labrador that you are willing to bathe, and trim nails is going to cost considerably less than your Goldendoodle that needs monthly professional grooming. So, if you are willing to get a little wet and have the patience to trim your dog’s nails and such you could be looking at grooming costs as low as $30 per year, but if you have a higher maintenance dog and/or if you are using a mobile groomer, your grooming bills could run as much as $1,500 a year or more.

Dog getting a bath

The cost of grooming will depend on how much effort you are willing to put in.

Other Considerations

If you live in a house will you need a fence to keep your new companion contained? What about taking your dog out for a car ride? You will then need a crate or other restraint. And what about if you want to or need to go out of town? You will then need someone to care for your dog.

Having a dog is a lifelong commitment and being aware of the possible costs of dog ownership can give you a good idea if you are ready to make that commitment. We hope the answer is a resounding yes! Dogs are a wonderful family addition.

Would you like to learn more about caring for your new dog? Contact us.

The Dog Walk: Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe

Taking our dog for a walk is one of the great pleasures of owning a dog. However, there are a few things you can do to keep you and your dog safe and get more enjoyment from your time together.

Focus on Your Dog

Man looking at his phone while walking dog.

Stay focused on your dog, not your phone.

Being aware of your surroundings while on your walk will keep you both safe. If you are distracted by a phone call, text message, Facebook or music you will likely miss something potentially dangerous to one or both of you such as your dog eating something off the ground, an oncoming dog or an approaching stranger. 

The purpose of your walk should be spending quality time with your dog, so enjoy.

 Don’t Let Your Dog off Leash

Even if your dog has a totally reliable recall, letting them off leash can be dangerous. All it takes is for them to see another dog, a cat, a squirrel or something else that makes them run off.

Other Dogs Can be a Problem

While your dog may love others of his kind those other dogs may not be so friendly. In the interest of safety, it is best to keep your dog away from others.

Even if the owner of the other dog seems to think it’s alright for the dogs to meet, no one asked the dogs. Play it safe.

Make the Walk Fun!

Walking your dog should not be a chore it should be a fun adventure for both of you. So, stay alert but enjoy!

Bring Water Along

You should always bring water along for both you and your pal. Even when the temperatures are a bit cooler it is important for everyone to stay hydrated.

When it is very hot outside, staying hydrated is especially important. You can find collapsible bowls at your local pet supply store, so you can pour a drink for your four-legged friend.

Never Leave Your Dog Alone

 It only takes a minute for your dog to be stolen or harmed, so never leave your them alone. There are always heartbreaking stories of dogs that are missing and their owner only left them for a brief moment.  Don’t take the chance!

Keep an Eye on Where Your Dog is Sniffing

You never know what people have thrown out of their car window or just dropped on the grass. Chicken bones or other items could be potentially deadly.

If you use a regular leash such as a four or six-foot lead you are more likely to keep your dog away from some potential danger on the ground. Using a retractable leash gives you much less control.

Watch Where Your Dog is Walking

Happy dog

Taking your dog for a walk is a great way to bond with your dog.

Broken glass is everywhere, so keep your eyes looking ahead to where your dog is walking. There are so many things on the ground that can hurt your dog’s paws.

Keep to Well Lit Areas

The safety of you and your dog is important. Walk in areas that are well lit.

Walking in areas that are dark or underpopulated puts you at risk for falls or worse.

Be present with your dog and you will both enjoy the walk much more.

Taking your dog for a walk can be a great way for you both to unwind and enjoy some quality time together.

 

If you work long hours, but would still like to get your best pal out for an adventure, please contact us for more information on our dog walking service.

What Leash is Right for You?

As professional dog walkers, we are very particular about the types of leashes we use. We do not walk dogs on retractable leashes or bungee type leashes. But why? Isn’t it nice to let your dog have a little freedom out on the walk? If you are using one of these types of leashes let us give you a couple of scenarios and then you can make a more informed decision about the type of leash you want to use.

The Retractable Leash

You are out for a morning stroll when an off-leash dog charges your dog. Your dog runs circles around you trying to escape his aggressor. Suddenly, the cord from the retractable leash is wound so tightly around your legs you can’t move, and your dog can’t move because he/she has used up the length of the retractable leash trying to escape. You are helpless to rescue your dog or to even help yourself. If you are wearing shorts there is a possibility that the cord from the leash will cut into your skin. Ouch!

Dogs meeting on retractable leashes

Retractable leashes limit your control over your dog.

Maybe you and your dog meet other dogs on leash, but in the chaos of greeting, the dogs’ leashes get entangled, the dogs panic and a fight ensues. Using a retractable leash makes it so much more difficult to keep leashes untangled than a standard leash.

Or, what if you are out for a walk with your dog and you accidentally drop your retractable leash? The leash retracts, and the plastic handle of the leash hits your dog sending her into a panic. As your dog runs the plastic leash handle continues to hit your dog sending her into more of a panic.

Bungee Leashes

If the snap on this type of leash breaks while the leash is stretched it can snap back hitting you in the hand, face, eye or some other part of your body. Again, Ouch!

Standard six-foot leash

I personally use a six-foot leather leash. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Leather leashes last, they are more comfortable in your hands, they don’t collect dog hair. Leather leashes are great for strong active dogs. You can also purchase a nylon leash, but make sure you test the feel in your hands. I find nylon leashes harder on the hands. Nylon leashes can collect dog hair and while they can come in fun colors, those colors may fade over time.

Retractable leashes

Retractable leashes can get tangled or caught on something.

The type of leash you use is important for your safety and the safety of your dog. Choose wisely.

 

What type of leash do you like to use? Let us know why you like it.

The Importance of Picking Up After Your Dog

 

Every day I am out walking dogs and every day I see piles left by dog owners who don’t pick up after their dog. I get it! Sticking my hand in a bag so I can pick up a warm pile of dog poop is not exactly on the top 10 list of my most favorite things. But what are the consequences of not picking up after your dog? Well, there are many. Here are just a few of the things that dog poop can contain:

  • E-Coli
  • Salmonella
  • Parvovirus
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Cryptosporidium

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