keeping your pooch happy and safe while out in public

As has become an annual tradition amongst the staff at Creation’s Care Pet Sitting, we took this weekend to pause and enjoy the wonderful world of equestrian sport. The Redhills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee brings equestrian competitors from around the globe for a three day Olympic level competition right to our back door.  Spectators abound, and with them, multiple furry friends who have come with their owners to partake in the festivities.  It’s the perfect place to spend a day with your four-legged friend, or is it?  Ultimately, that really depends on your dog.

When it comes to deciding when or if you should take your furry friend to public events or areas, the singlemost thing that owners need to ask them selves is this: Is my dog comfortable being out in public?  Will they stay quiet, calm and collected, or will they freeze in uncertainty and fear?  If you are anything less than 100% certain that your pooch can handle the large crowds, chaos, and noise with confidence, leave them at home.  They will be happier, and you will be able to enjoy the function you are attending without being consumed with how your dog may or may not react.  And remember, just because your dog may not be cool, calm, and collected in public areas now, doesn’t mean they will always be like that.  You can help your pooch gain the confidence they need through obedience and positive reinforcement.

In her article titled “Help Your Shy Dog Gain Confidence”, Mardi Richmond states that the first step is recognizing what your dog is timid or scared of and managing those things until your dog can be properly desensitized to them.  Here are her tips for managing stressful situations with your dog:

• Avoid crowded areas where your dog may be overwhelmed by strangers.

• Use a leash, crate, or baby gate to prevent your dog from interacting with strangers in your home.

Think about ways you can protect your dog if you are caught off guard, too:

• If a stranger approaches and asks to pet your dog, you can say, “No, I’m sorry, but my dog is uncomfortable with people she doesn’t know.”

• Put yourself between the person and your dog.

• Create distance by crossing the street or going a different direction.

Once you have management in place and your dog’s overall stress levels go down, get ready to train, desensitize, and counter-condition!

Helping your dog transition into the confident, relaxed companion that can go anywhere and do anything with you will take time and patience, but the end result will be well worth the time and effort spent.

More helpful tips on managing and counter conditioning your dog to stressful or unfamiliar situations can be found on the Whole Dog Journal, http://www.wholedogjournal.com. And as always, never hesitate to reach out to a local certified dog trainer who uses fear-free positive training techniques for help.

References

Richmond, Mardi. “Help Your Shy Dog Gain Confidence”.  The Whole Dog Journal. April 2006. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.

 

 

 

 

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There’s a chill in the air.

146909521-cold-weather-pet-arthritis-632x475With colder temperatures upon us, our furry friends will need some extra protection from the cold winter nights.  If at all possible, bring your animals inside, especially when the temperatures are at their lowest.  Can’t bring them inside?  Here are some tips from the Humane Society of the United States:

Take precautions if your dog spends a lot of time outside

A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Help neighborhood outdoor cats

If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats (ferals, who are scared of people, and strays, who are lost or abandoned pets) in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. It’s easy to give them a hand.

Give your pets plenty of water

Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

Be careful with cats, wildlife and cars

Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

Protect paws from salt

The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.

Avoid antifreeze poisoning

Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/protect_pets_winter.html

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Why I choose to use a professional pet sitter instead of boarding.

“So will Lucky get to exercise some while he is here?” I asked as I was making the boarding reservation for an upcoming trip that was not conducive to bringing my pets.  “Of course!” the receptionist replied.  “He can get exercise as many times as you like.  it’s just $8 per time that he goes out”.

moneyEight dollars.  Eight dollars for every time he gets to have a break from his kennel or “run” (as some call the larger pens) for an entire week.  It may not sound like much, but $8 two or three times each day on top of a basic boarding fee of $15-20 per day can add up pretty quickly.  Say what?  Your dog needs to be given meds daily?  No problem, but there is a med administration fee for that too.  While boarding at your nearby kennel or “doggie hotel” for the couple brief times a year that you leave town may seem like the most economical for those people who, like myself,  operate day to day with very conservative family budgets, the costs can quickly add up. But it’s not just about the money; there’s an emotional side of the coin as well.

While Lucky does well when crated at home, he definitely prefers to be with us.  Come Thursday or Friday, he reluctantly enters his kennel for, yet again, another eight hours.  Yes, he is a dog, and while, as a dog, he may not be able to conceptualize thoughts and feelings the was we can as adult humans can, he can think and conceptualize moreso along the lines of a young toddler.  The example I always use when discussing why I am so OCD about how long my “babies” are crated is this:  Its kind of like telling a young child “here is a glass of water, and a toy.  You can do anything you want to until mommy gets home (stand sit, circle, jump, play with your toy, etc.), but you can’t leave your bed, not even to go potty”.  Naturally, most of us, I can only assume, would never say something like that to their child and then leave the house for eight to ten hours with no one there to supervise.  Even if we did tell a child to stay in one spot for a length of time (such as with instances where the child is put in “time out” for disobedience), most of the children I know wouldn’t last very long before becoming extremely fidgety, crying, or telling the closest adult that they needed to get up to go potty.  Yet we do it with our dogs all the time.

While the majority of adult dogs are perfectly fine while mom and dad are away at work, vacations are an entirely different thing.  The tail and ears immediately drop and uncertainty sets in the minute we walk through the door to the doggie hotel.  You can hear the faint barking  of other dogs  through the closed door that leads to the kennels and then you watch as the kennel tech does everything humanly possible to encourage the dog that, now scared and uncertain of why they have to go the opposite direction of mom and dad, either reluctantly follow or completely freeze, trying not to go at all.

Using a pet sitter is different, though.  Yes, Lucky still gets all gloomy and down when he sees the suitcases come out (honestly, I don’t think that will ever change), but he gets to stay home.  Yes, he is still crated when the sitter isn’t at the house, but he is in his own crate, where things are familiar.  His food is the same; his meal time stays the same (or at least as close to it that my sitter can manage); he still goes on his usual walks, and he still gets to play  the usual game of “I had the bone first” with our other dogs.  The only difference?  Betty Sue is coming to hang out with him instead of “mom and dad” for few days.  Not only that, but Betty Sue is insured and bonded, so if something goes wrong, she is protected and so are we.  Additionally, while each sitter may be different, Betty Sue only charges for the time spent, not for all the little extras; she does the extras because she has pets of her own too,  and aims to treat Lucky and his “siblings” as if they were her own.  She brings in the mail, and looks after the house (which was exceptionally helpful when the neighbor forgot to put his car in park last year and it slammed into the side of our house).

Yes, having Betty Sue come over may seem a little more expensive than boarding, dog-in-suitcase-piccomparatively speaking at least, but in the end it is worth it.  My dogs are happier, my home is more secure, and I can travel with greater peace of mind.  And besides, my dogs are like my kids, and who wouldn’t bend over backwards to do what is best for their kids.

While the people depicted in the story above may be fictitious by name, the scenario and story they tell is not.  This is why my family chose to use a pet sitter when I was growing up, and it is why I now, through my business Creation’s Care Pet Sitting, offer the same services as Betty Sue to pets and their parents throughout Tallahassee and Havana, Florida.  Whether you are planning a trip this summer or just need some help getting to that favorite midday walk, Creation’s Care offers professional daytime and overnight pet care when you can’t be there.  Click or Call us today!

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Happy Mother’s Day!!

mothers day pic

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Keeping your kids and pets safe as the Temps start to rise

cold and hot thermometer (2)As the middle of May approaches, the high temperatures are once again hitting the low to mid 90s in North Florida and South Georgia.

If you have lived in the area for any length of time, you might welcome the various opportunities that this time of year brings.  Longer days mean more time for outdoor activities, trips to the park or museum, and, (who can forget) that summer time favorite, the beach.

While the longer days and warmer temperatures may be enjoyable, they can also pose of dangerous threat for children and pets if left to long in the sun or a hot car.  According to a 1995 study out of the Louisiana State Medical Society, a hot car can reach and exceed temperatures of 125 degrees Fahrenheit within 20 minutes.  At these temperatures a child or pet would begin heat in car graphicsuffering heat stroke as soon as their core body temperature reached above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, usually in under fifteen minutes.  Think cracking the window will help?  As the diagram indicates, it doesn’t.  So whether you are heading out of town, or just down the road to the bank, if your kids and pets can’t leave the car with you, keep them safe and leave them at home.

http://www.injuryprevention.org/states/la/hotcars/hotcars.htm
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Is your pet sitter a professional or a hobbyist?

professional pet sitters vs hobbyist picWhile all pet sitters, to some degree, start out as hobbyist sitters (aka avid animal lovers), there are some key differences between the two.  Is your pet sitter doing this full time or just for a few extra bucks?  Are they insured and bonded?  Do they know what to do in the event of an emergency?  These are just a few of the questions that you as the pet owner should be considering before they leave for that much needed summer vacation.  How do you know if your pet sitter is right for your family pet?  Check out these tips from Pet Sitters International.  Or, just call us!  As members of Pet Sitters International, we are insured and bonded for your pets protection.  Additionally, all of our sitters are trained in pet first aid and cpr.  So before you finalize those summer plans, call us today for a FREE meet and greet and see how we can help care for your pet when your not there!

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April is Heartworm Prevention Month

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Soon after my beloved cat passed away in 2015, I began looking for the next four-legged furry friend to join the family.  I found it in a three-year old Mini Schnauzer named Lucky.  Lucky was one of several pets that were rehabilitated from disease or illness and placed back up for adoption by the Companion Animal Rescue Endeavor (C.A.R.E.) in Tallahassee, FL.  In Lucky’s case, it was heartworm disease.  Brought to Northwood Animal Hospital after having his previous owner pass away, Lucky was found to be heartworm positive and was admitted into the C.A.R.E. program for treatment.  By the time I met Lucky, his treatment was over and he had a clear bill of health.

Some might say that Lucky was . . . . well . . . .lucky.  According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworm disease is one of the deadliest diseases seen in pets and can take several months of expensive treatment to get rid of.  To learn more about this deadly disease, check out this slideshow from the American Heartworm Society and then call your vet to make sure your dog or cat is protected today!

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Pet Safety: What isn’t harmful to you can be deadly to them

fb_16_march_poison_prevention_awareness2As we wrap up the month of March and get ever so closer to the Easter season, the staff at Creation’s Care want to remind you to keep your pets safe from common household items, plants, and sweet treats that are poisonous and even deadly to your family pet.  Most people know that sweet treats like chocolate are harmful, but what about that grape or tiny bit of onion that makes its way to the floor in the midst of cooking Sunday dinner.  Yep, those too can cause serious health concerns to your pet.  Here are some common foods, plants, and household items to keep out of your pup or kitty’s reach

Foods

  • Chocolate: “Because chocolate can cause illness and even death in dogs, it should be avoided completely. Chocolate contains theobromine, a potent cardiovascular and central nervous system stimulant that is eliminated very slowly in dogs.” (www.hillspet.com)
  • Onions and anything in the onion family can cause anemia
  • Dairy products (including cheeses) can cause diarrhea
  • Grapes and raisins: associated with kidney failure
  • Acadamamia nuts can cause incoordination, weakness, and vomiting

Toxic Plants

  • foxgloveSago_Palm_1-4
  • primrose
  • yew
  • ivy
  • rhubarb
  • wisteria
  • lupin
  • sweet peas
  • poppy
  • chrysanthemum
  • laburuheum
  • Sago palm

List pulled from http://www.hillspet.com

Household Items

  • String
  • Small objects
  • cotton balls/toy stuffing
  • Erasers
  • Anything that your pup or kitty can get their mouth on, chew and potentially swallow

Safeguarding your pet can be as easy as getting on their level and picturing your home from their prospective.  If you can see and get to something crawling around on your hands and knees, they can get into it- its that simple.  Just a few minutes of surveying your home and ensuring small items are picked up can prevent a unwanted visit to the emergency vet, and ensure that your pup and kitty have a safe place to live, play, and be part of the family!

 

 

 

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It’s Photo Time!

Pet Sitter’s International, of which Creation’s Care is a member, is holding a month long photo shoot to benefit Pets for Patriots.  Pets for Patriots gives the gifts of fidelity, joy and love to both veterans and pets through companion animal adoptions. The organizationdog with camera helps veterans and military members adopt the most overlooked shelter pets, including adult, special needs and large breed pets, offering them a second chance at life through adoption. Pets for Patriots partners with U.S. shelter and veterinary networks; military and veteran organizations; and the public to value and honor the lives of both the most vulnerable and heroic among us.

Each photo uploaded between March 15 and April 15 will result in $1 being contributed to this wonderful organization!  Visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/creationscarepetsitting for more details!

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