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Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Dog Walker this Holiday Season

Your pets may express signs of depression as they watch you quickly come and go. Your pets don’t understand it’s the holiday season. They don’t know why you have stopped taking them for their daily walks or tossing the ball for them to fetch. Your pets are used to you taking time out of your day for them.You get busier as the holidays get closer. If you are anything like me, you generally wait until the last minute to get your shopping done. This adds stress to your day and with the longer hours spent outside the home you have less time to play with and exercise your dog.

Continuing exercise will help your dog relax. A relaxed, exercised dog is a good dog. There is less of a chance your dog will crash into the newly decorated Christmas tree, or counter surf for that freshly prepared turkey.

One less thing for you to worry about. Enlisting help with exercising your pet will help you worry less and feel less guilty about not having the time needed to dedicate to your pet’s exercise and mental well-being.

YOUR DOG WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT! Really, he/she will. If your pet gets to continue getting their exercise, whether it’s from you or someone else, they will love you for it. You get the benefits of having a well balanced, exercised, pooped pooch without having to make the extra time for it.

Here are some easy ways to entertain your dog without breaking the time bank:

  • Stuffed toys – There are plenty of toys on the market that are great for stuffing with all kinds of good treats.  You can purchase the treats meant to go with the toy or get creative.  Other foods that are good for your dog include:  peanut butter, yogurt and pumpkin just to name a few.  Use these foods as binders for kibble or dry treats…freeze the toy for added difficulty.
  • Hide the treats to offer your dog a puzzle to figure out.  This should keep them busy for  a while.  Mental activity is just as good as physical.  Wrapping the treat filled toy in an old t-shirt or towel, tying the ends will keep your dog entertained while trying to figure out their treat puzzle.  You can also use an old oatmeal box, margarine container or shoe box.
  • There are also plenty of puzzle toys on the market to choose from if you don’t have the time to put one together on your own.
  • Throw your dogs food chicken feed style in the backyard and let them sniff it out.  This is a very fun and draining exercise for your dog.   A very large portion of the dogs brain controls their olfactory function, the more they get to use their nose the more stimulated and tired they get.
  • Purchase raw marrow bones or knuckles from your butcher.  Give them to your dog frozen to make them last longer…refreeze between use.
  • Keep a stash of new toys.  Your dog will love to get a new toy every day…sniffing it out and figuring out how to use it.  Allow your dog to have a new toy every time you leave the house for a long period.  Be sure to pick it up when you get home.  If you want to keep your dog interested in the toy don’t let them have it all the time.  It should be something special for them to have every once in a while.
Give us a call for more tips on how to keep your dog entertained this holiday season.

How To Relax on Thanksgiving – A Pet Sitter’s Guide

As a pet sitter in Mesa, AZ, I often receive last minute pet sitting requests around the holidays.  Clients sound flustered and stressed on the phone.  Excited to visit with family, that they may not have seen in years, nervous about leaving home and their pets behind, stressed that they waited till the last minute to book their pet sitting services.

In order to help relieve some of that stress, we have compiled a guide to a stress free Thanksgiving holiday.  These tips can be used whether you are staying home and entertaining or leaving to visit with friends and family in another state.

Typically a post like this will offer information about keeping your DOG safe (which we will cover later).  Let’s not forget our kitties!  Here are some tips on how to keep your cats safe and happy.

Cats

Whenever we are decorating our homes for the festive holidays, we need to keep our cats in mind.  They are able to jump to higher places and are extremely interested in things that move.

If you decorate with potted plants on tables and shelves, don’t forget that our feline friends can easily access those areas.  There are plants that are toxic to cats, like, poinsettia sap, mistletoe, lilies, daffodils and narcissi. 

Ribbons, tinsel and other string-like decorations are fun for cats and can be played with “UNDER SUPERVISION”.  However, if swallowed, these “toys” can cause intestinal blockage or cut through the intestinal wall.  Words of wisdom from our friends at Augusta Ranch Animal Hospital, “Don’t even encourage this kind of play.”

Like to include your feline friend in the mealtime feasts?  Only small amounts of lean meats…check out the suggestions by our friends at Augusta Ranch Animal Hospital.

Dogs

Mealtime may be the most common way for humans to indulge their pets during the Thanksgiving holiday season.  If you like to offer table scraps to your dog might I suggest doing so in their food dish on top of or mixed in with their regular food, NOT from the table.  Sharing table scraps from the table tells your dog it’s okay to beg, which turns into a whole other problem.  Also, a sudden change in diet that includes rich foods may cause diarrhea and vomiting.

ATTENTION COUNTER SURFERS:  If you leave an uncooked loaf of bread on the counter allowing it to rise, and your dog is a counter surfer (or has tendencies) BEWARE.  In the warmth of your dog’s stomach the bread can continue to rise causing a complete obstruction that your dog will be unable to pass.

If you are going to be gone for the holidays, my advise would be to leave the decorations in their boxes.  Your pets don’t know it’s Thanksgiving, they don’t need the additional distractions in their home while you are away.

If you are going to be home, be sure you kitty and puppy proof your home by:

Making sure the string used to tie your turkey legs is thrown away and the trash taken out.

If you want to share in mealtime, offer small amounts on top of or mixed in with your pet’s normal food.

If you save the Wishbone, be sure to put it in a place your pet can’t get to it.

No cooked bones!  They will splinter and could puncture your pet’s intestines.

 How do you include your pets during the festive Thanksgiving holiday?

Turkey Day! ~ Pet Sitters Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  Everyone is bustling about getting ready to make their favorite fixin’s for the big dinner, doing last minute preparations on the house and lawn and frantically spending their final days trying to train their dog to be a good dog when guests arrive. I’m sure you’ve been getting all kinds of Tips and Tricks on how NOT to include your favorite dog into the festivities.  

Although I do totally agree with all the tips on what NOT to give your dog, like:

  • Cooked animal bones, animal skin, anything with spices or sugar added, no pie, no stuffing, etc.

Here are some suggestions on what you CAN do to include your dog in the festivities.

  • When making your famous sweet potato pie, save some raw sweet potato.  This is a great healthy snack even for dogs that suffer from allergies.

        

  • Raw carrots from a dressing free salad 

  • Turkey meat…but remember, no skin or bones.

You can put these goodies aside and when your dog settles under the table with his head in your lap, your  heart is melting and you just HAVE to give him a little something special, reach into your pre-made treat bag and give him some love without the guilt.  I would suggest offering these festive treats in his own food dish and away from the dinning room table.

Happy Thanksgiving!

When Should I Book My Pet Sitter?

The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming!  When should I book my pet sitter?  I can do it last minute can’t I?  I’m sure they will be available…

Not necessarily!  As soon as you have your holiday vacation planned, book your pet sitting services.  Pet sitters only have so many visits they can make in a day.  If you are looking for overnight pet sitting, your pet sitter can only sleep with one family at a time.  That significantly reduces your chances of your pet sitter being available to you the closer and closer you get to your expected vacation.

For example:  We are BOOKED for overnight and live in services for the week of Christmas.  Holidays are prime for vacations and keep pet sitters busy.

What if I book early and realize I need to cancel?  Our cancellation policy states that if you cancel an overnight or live in within 2 weeks of the service start date you will be charged 50% of the original invoice amount.  If you cancel with more than 2 weeks notice there is no cancellation fee.

The moral of the story???  Book your services as soon as you know you are traveling, or, realize you may be looking for a pet sitter last minute.

How To Keep Your Pets Safe on Halloween – A Pet Sitter’s Guide

As a pet sitter in Mesa AZ, we hear about a lot of pets getting lost on and around Halloween.  With little goblins knocking on our doors and ringing the door bells our pet’s are on high alert to begin with.  Then add in opening the door and being distracted by the SCARY costumes, this could add up to a pet breaking out and getting lost.  Follow these simple suggestions on how to keep your pets safe on Halloween to ensure fun for the entire family.

#1 To Dress Up Your Pet or Not To Dress Up Your Pet

If your pet is used to being dressed up then it’s okay to have them wear a costume for Halloween.  Just be sure it is loose enough for them to move around comfortably.  If they show signs they aren’t having a great time, take the costume off.

If your pet isn’t used to being dressed up and is resistant to wearing a costume, it is best left alone.

#2 Handling The Crazy Costumed Guests At The Door

It is common for pets to view people as scary monsters.  So…having ACTUAL scary monsters come to the door can be MUCH more frightening.  During the time that you are expecting gools and goblins to demand candy at your door, you may consider confining your pets to a safe area of the home where they don’t have access to the front door.  My husband and I sit outside on our porch and hand out candy so our pets don’t get freaked out by the door bell each time it rings.

It’s not a bad idea to have your pets outside with you joining in on the fun. Just be sure to have them leashed, wearing their ID’s and/or micro chipped.

#3 Toxins That Can Make Your Pet Sick

Keep your pets away from all your sweet loot.  Check out this list of toxic food for your pets.  Other costume related items that you need to keep your pet away from are:

Glow Sticks

Buttons

Fake Hair

Any accessories that your pet may eat

What other suggestions do YOU have for keeping our pets safe on Halloween?

Who Are The Best Pet Sitters In Mesa, AZ

There are a ton of pet sitters to choose from in Mesa, AZ.  Seems like there are more and more popping up every day.  But WHO is the BEST pet sitter in Mesa, AZ?

Well, that is a hard question to answer.  Mostly because we all do things a little different.  Some companies hire employees who have ultimate control over HOW their sitters perform the jobs, others sub contract the work to other sitters and some are solo sitters that don’t have any help at all.  So based off this criteria, all our business models differ quite a bit.  I’ve made it a point to get to know many of the pet sitters in my area so when there is a time that I’m not able to service someone I can refer them to someone else that I trust.

Critter Caretakers Pet Sitting is one company I refer to quite often.  We service slightly different areas, they are a little less expensive than we are, they sub contract their work to trustworthy sitters, but we offer a service they don’t…the Live in.  The owner of this company is very passionate about animals, works with rescues and has a background as a teacher, so she LOVES to teach her clients new tricks 🙂

Andrea’s Quality Pet Care is another company I refer to.  Andrea not only does in your home pet sitting but she also provides in her home boarding.  This is a great option for people who’s dog(s) need 24 hour care but can’t afford to have someone stay in their home.  Your pet gets to stay in a home environment rather than a boarding/kennel environment.

The 3rd company I refer to (and these are in no specific order) is Canine and Feline Concierge.  Not only does Vanessa provide in your home services she also has several people that work for her who provide in their home services for both dogs and cats.  She also provides concierge services for humans.

The three companies mentioned above have proven to me that they are trustworthy individuals who run professional companies.  They are all unique in their own way.  I have pretty high standards, so to be in my top 3 is impressive!

Pet Sitter Bum Rushed By Unleashed Dog

There is never a dull moment while pet sitting in Mesa, AZ.  We have a dog that we walk 3 times a week for the past 3 years.  Today was the first time we had ever been rushed by another dog.  Here is the scenario:

It’s hot, so I had the client’s dog swim in their pool for a good 10 minutes before we headed out for a short walk in the neighborhood.  We’ve been walking in this neighborhood, the same route, for about a year.  (Family moved since we started walking their dog).  Every time we walk, we walk by a house that has a large dog that barks at us through the window.  I never thought anything of it before…we just keep walking by and I keep my client’s dog attention away from the house so he doesn’t get all heated.

Today, however, proved to be a different experience.  As we walked by the house, we could hear the dog barking at us like normal.  But this time, the dog darted out the front door and rushed us.  As far as I could tell, the front door was open and the screen door was “closed”.  Or so we thought.  It seems that the screen door may not have been latched.  This dog was already heated when he darted out the front door at us.  He charged my client’s dog…I tried my best to stay composed and tell the other dog “No.”  I yelled at the dog and pulled my client’s dog away…trying to keep the other dog from sinking his teeth into my client’s dog.  Thankfully, the pet owner’s were home and the male came out running out of the house to get his dog.  By this time the two dogs were heavily mouthing each other and the unleashed dog would not back down.  As the pet owner tried unsuccessfully to grab his dog, I loudly said, “Grab his back legs, grab his back legs, grab his back legs.”  The owner finally was able to grab his dogs back legs and pull him to the ground long enough for us to walk out of sight.  I would have kept going, but I lost my shoes and sunglasses in the tussle.

As I waited for the owners to get their dog safely into their house I checked my client’s dog over to make sure there was no damage and assess the situation.  Thankfully, my client’s dog was not hurt.  The other dog owner grabbed my shoes and sunglasses, apologized profusely and said his dog has never done anything like that before, he is normally such a sweet friendly dog.  It’s clear that when his dog (or any dog)  is already heated he is a different dog.

We continued on a very short walk (mostly so I could calm down before taking him home), then went home to tell mom and dad what had happened.  I think I was more shook up than my client’s dog.

Moral of the story…please keep your dog secure at all times.  If anything had happened to my client’s dog, the burden would have fallen on the unleashed dog owner because he did not have his dog under control.

I am fine…my client’s dog is fine…the other dog is fine (as far as I know).  I will, however, no longer walk by that house again.

Do You Charge the Same for Cats and Dogs?

This is a question we get asked a lot.  I’m not sure if it’s because cat owners feel like their pets are more self sufficient and don’t require as much attention as a dog or don’t think pet sitters stay as long with cat clients as they do with dog clients.  Play Time Pet Care charges the same for cats as we do for dogs.  It isn’t about the amount of time we spend with our clients.  We place just as much value in our cat clients as we do our dog clients.

Sometimes a prospective client will call and say, “You just need to come in and give them food and clean out the litter box.  That’s it.  He’s really easy.”  That’s just not how Play Time Pet Care works.  We NEVER just go in, provide food and clean up the pet waste.  Even if a furry client is distant or doesn’t want to play, we spend time with that pet, allowing them the time to become comfortable with us.  Hopefully we will get to the point that they want to be touched and loved by us…that’s our goal.

So when prospective clients look for a discount because they “just have a cat”, they may want to call another company.  We will not compromise our integrity and high level of service because “it’s just a cat.”

What do you think?  Should a family with cats only get a discount on services?  Or should they pay just as much as a family with dogs? 

 

 

 

Employee’s vs. IC’s

Clients often ask us if our pet sitters are employees of the company or independent contractors.  Why would that be important?  There is a huge difference in companies that have employees vs. independent contractors.  This may be important for some people for many reasons.

1.  Looking for consistency when different sitters are caring for your pets.

2.  Workman’s compensation covers injuries while on the job.

3.  The company has control over HOW the jobs are done and WHEN the jobs are completed.

4.  The company can train employees.

5.  The company has control over WHO is caring for your pets.

When a pet sitting company hires employees they are legally able to train them to perform jobs in a certain way so all the clients receive the same level of service.  When companies hire independent contractors they have no control over how the job is being done and can’t train them to provide a certain level of service.  They also have control over who is actually caring for your pets.  Did you know that when you hire a company that hires independent contractors, if that person is not available to do the job, they can offer that job to ANYONE.  The company has no control over WHO is actually caring for your pets.

When a company hires employees they are legally required to have a workman’s compensation plan in place to cover their employees if they get hurt on the job.  Did you know that companies that hire independent contractors aren’t allowed to provide workman’s compensation?  If an independent contractor gets hurt on the job, they could go after the pet parent for compensation.

If something goes wrong….you only have ONE person to work with on resolving the issue.  When you work with a company with independent contractors you have the company AND the independent contractor to deal with.

Hiring a company that has employees will save you headaches and hassle in the long run and you’ll ultimately be happier.

Pet Sitter Gets “Kids” Ready for School

It’s that time of year again.  When the kids are getting ready for school and we keep getting busier and busier which in turn may make Fido’s activity diminish.  What happens to Fido when you get too busy for his now normal daily routine?  You may notice some depression or a change in behavior.

Jenna Trethewey, Owner of Play Time Pet Care says, “Pets tend to become isolated and it’s important to engage your pets in a daily routine just like the kids.  It helps dogs and cats everywhere.”  Here are some tips on keeping your pets on a normal routine:

  1. Be sure to include your pet in the new school supply shopping.  Purchase some extra special dog toys that they ONLY get when you leave the house.  Then pick them back up when you are home so they get the sense that they are going to get something special when you aren’t there.

  2. Consistent activity will deepen your bond and allow your pet to relieve any pent up energy they may have from being home alone all day.  We suggest allowing your dog to walk with you to the bus stop.  Or engage in nightly walks to help Fido remain active.

  3. When you eat, your pets eat.  Keeping your pet’s on a normal eating routine will alleviate the question of whether Fido of Fluffy ate breakfast or dinner and possibly feeding them too much which could lead to obesity.

  4. Make sure they have regular potty breaks.  Getting them on a potty break routine prior to school starting will help alleviate any worries mom and dad may have about coming home to a messy carpet.

Contact Play Time Pet Care for more information on how to help your pet’s get ready for school.  www.PlayTimePetCare.com / 480-292-9735