Tag: dog behavior

Pet Sitter Offers Exercising Tips for Pet Parents in Mesa, AZ

Exercising with Fido can be tricky during the Arizona summer months. It’s too hot in the middle of the day for your pet sitter to exercise him during his potty break and the sun doesn’t go down until late in the evening leaving you to exercise Fido pretty close to bed time. So, unless you are able, and let’s be honest, willing, to get up bright and early to take Fido out for his daily exercise the summer months can be rough for both you and your dog.

Well, how hot is too hot to take Fido for a walk? There is a simple test you can do to tell if it’s too hot for Fido to go for a walk. Walk outside on the sidewalk barefoot…if you can’t stand there for more than 3 seconds without burning your feet, it’s too hot for Fido. Your pets pads can and will burn from hot cement and pavement. There is also the added element of heat exhaustion. Your dog cools himself by panting. If he can’t stop panting, that is a sign of heat exhaustion. You will need to take the necessary steps to cool your pet down, because heat exhaustion is fatal.

As a pet sitter and dog walker, it is my responsibility to know how to exercise and stimulate your pet when it’s too hot to be outside for long periods of time. Below are just a few tricks I have up my sleeve:

  • Quick potty break outside and a toss or two of the ball, then inside for some tug of war

  • Inside ball play

  • If you have a water dog…some fun with the hose, chasing the water

  • A quick dip in the pool retrieving his favorite water toy

  • Teaching a new trick – Did you know that mental stimulation can be just as good as physical exercise?

The last thing you want during the summer months is for your dog to release his excess energy on your new pillows, your comfy couch or heaven forbid, your favorite pair of shoes!

If you’d like more ideas on how to stimulate your pooch during the hot summer months you can contact us by emailing to jenna@playtimepetcareaz.com or calling us at 480-292-9735.

Strange Requests for Pet Sitting in Mesa AZ

Sometimes our pet sitting clients call with “strange” requests.  After the request is made it is followed up by “I’m so sorry to have to ask you to do that.”  Or “Sorry for making such a strange request”. 

To that I say, “Don’t worry about it!  No request is too strange for us :)”

An example of some recent requests we’ve had are:

Our house is on the market…could you please make sure the litter box is cleaned after every visit?  And spray Febreeze in the litter box area and surrounding area?

Our kitty is misbehaving and peeing, vomiting and pooping in strange places.  Can you please check all rooms, even the ones with the doors closed?

Can you please leave the dog in his crate during the day, but allow him free reign at night?

If there are accidents in the house, can you clean it up the best you can and “leave a square” on the spot so I know where to steam clean?

I’m expecting an important package, can you please text me when it arrives?

I’m going out of town, but don’t want my puppy to miss a training session.  Can you please take him to obedience class?

Our trip is so last minute, I don’t have enough time pick up more dog food.  Can you pick up a bag for us and we’ll reimburse you?

Our dog piddles in excitement when we first come home.  Please don’t acknowledge him when you first arrive.  Just walk out in the backyard with him so if he does piddle it’s not in the house.

Do you think any of these requests are strange?  I don’t!  EVERY family is different.  We embrace the differences in each household and are happy to accommodate in any way we can.  Don’t be afraid to make those “strange” requests with your pet sitter.  They should be more than willing to handle your requests as long as it doesn’t cause harm to anyone or any pet.

What are some “strange” requests you’ve made of your pet sitter?

Independence Day Pet Safety

4th of July is upon us and with it comes loud noises our dogs aren’t used to hearing. Here are some ways to keep your dog sane and safe during 4th of July:

Staying home for Independence Day?  Here are some stay at home tips:

  • Don’t leave alcoholic beverages out where your dogs can get to it. Alcoholic beverages have the ability to poison your pets.  It can cause your pet to become weak, severely depressed or could go into acoma.

  • Don’t apply insect repellent to your pet that isn’t labeled as pet safe.  The misuse of insect repellent containing DEET can lead to neurological problems.

  • Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets reach. Chlorates found in matches can damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing.  Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin and if ingested can cause gastrointestinal irritation.

Going out to see a fireworks display? Here are some tips for leaving your dog at home:

  • Be sure to leave your dog inside.  Keeping your dog inside, away from the noise, will help them stay calmer.  They should be kept in a quiet, escape-proof area of your home.  If you have a doggy door, keep it closed so they don’t have access to the backyard where they could dig out, jump the fence or obnoxiously bark at the loud noises.

  • Although it is tempting to bring your dog with you…Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for your dog.

  • ID or Microchip.  When dogs get scared they react with fight or flight.  Loud noises could send your dog running for the hills.  Make sure you properly ID or microchip your dog to be sure you get him back if he runs away.

Don’t forget about the kitties.  Same rules apply.  Keep them inside where they are safe.  

How to prevent dog bites

As a Mesa pet sitter I am  provided with plenty of opportunities to educate pet parents and the general public about how to prevent dog bites when working with shy and fearful dogs. Jenna Trethewey, owner of Play Time Pet Care, says “It’s important to recognize the signs of fear and anxiety in dogs.”

Here are some obvious signs that  a dog is shy or fearful.  Some people may not recognize a dog is fearful or anxious if the dog is exhibiting signs of the slight cower.

Some other signs that aren’t so obvious to the average person that isn’t familiar with dog body language are:

Pet sitting in Mesa has given me plenty of opportunity to observe all of these behaviors. I know that just because a dog is wagging their tail it doesn’t mean it’s happy.  When we are meeting with new dogs we see these behaviors all the time.

Some behaviors that might not make sense:

Get to know dog body language.  It’s a pet parent’s responsibility to know their dog’s behaviors and keep others safe from it.  If you know your dog is food aggressive, keep kids away from their food dish.  If you know your dog is shy and fearful around new people, consult with a professional dog trainer to learn ways to help your dog feel less anxious and how to teach others how to approach, or not approach, your dog.

For more information on dog body language and bite prevention contact us at 480-292-9735 or via email at jenna@PlayTimePetCareAZ.com.

Dog Sitting in Mesa AZ.  Why One Visit Isn’t Enough…

While dog sitting in Mesa AZ, I occasionally get inquiries from pet parents who are looking for just one visit per day.  The pet parent explains that their pet only eats once per day so they only request one dog sitting visit per day.  There are many reasons why your pet needs multiple visits per day (at least 2), while you are on vacation or business trip.

  1. Social creatures long for companionship

  2. They get bored

  3. They get anxious when they haven’t seen their human (or any other) for long periods of time

  4. Pets thrive on routine

  5. Pet safety and home safety

Dogs are very social creatures and thrive on the companionship of their humans. When dogs are used to seeing their human in the morning and evening, they get stressed when they wake up and no one is around.  Even if you have a shy or timid dog, having a sitter visit more often will help that shy or timid dog warm up to the sitter quicker and the faster the sitter will be able to play with and exercise your dog so they don’t feel anxious or abandoned.

You never know what they will get into when left alone for long periods of time.  A visit in the morning and evening will help quickly assess whether your pet requires medical attention.  See pictures below.  Multiple visits per day will allow your sitter the opportunity to assess the situation and clean up the mess so your dog doesn’t have another opportunity to ingest something they shouldn’t.

The images below are dogs who “Never get into trouble or harm themselves when we are away.”  This goes to show that you never know what your dog is going to do when left alone for long periods of time.

The one wearing socks chewed his legs raw because he was anxious that mom and dad were away.

The other is two dogs that got into the treat stash mom had in her closet.  One was so sick she had to have rice and chicken for breakfast and lunch to alleviate the diarrhea.  YES, the sitter cooked chicken and rice for the dogs to help make them feel better 🙂

If your dog doesn’t have a doggy door, THREE visits per day is optimal.  This way they get their breakfast, mid day potty break and dinner.  Did you know that exercise and walks are included in our pricing structure?

If your dog is crated during your absence, AT LEAST THREE visits per day are REQUIRED. Pets should never be left alone in a crate for more than 8 hours at a time. Puppies even less!  Your dog needs to have ample time out of their crate to play, stretch and exercise.  Your pet should ALWAYS have access to water.  Which means they need a water dish in their crate and will need to go potty.  Dogs that have been crate trained will not want to eliminate in their crate and it adds additional stress to your pet when they have to hold their bladder for long periods of time.

The optimal schedule for a dog that is crated during your absence is this:

AM – Breakfast, potty & play time

Afternoon – Potty & play time

PM – Dinner, potty and play time

Bed Time Tuck – in – Last potty break for the night and play time.

The bed time tuck in is scheduled after 8 pm and offers your pet an opportunity to go potty and get ready for bed and their time in the crate overnight.  Your sitter will arrive early the next morning for their breakfast visit allowing for less than 12 hours alone in their crate.

Pet Sitter’s Perspective on Dogs in Mesa Parks.

I LOVE taking my dogs to the park.  They love it too!  Did you know that all parks in Mesa are dog friendly?  That doesn’t mean they are all dog parks and dogs are allowed off the leash.  The City of Mesa has put together a great list of Doggie Do’s and Dont’s. So before you visit one of Mesa’s great parks with your pooch, be sure you know the rules and common courtesies.

Whether you are visiting one of the designated dog parks or not, owners are responsible for the behavior of their pet, requested to keep their dog under control and pick up after them.  Common sense tells us that not every PERSON is dog friendly. Even though you love your dog and your dog loves people, there may be people or kids around that are terrified of dogs.  Be respectful and keep your dog on a leash if NOT in a designated dog park.  No one wants to see your dog’s poo…so be prepared and bring some poop bags with you to clean up after your pet.

According to the Mesa City Code if you don’t want to follow the sate law and a park ranger catches you with your dog off leash, or not cleaning up after them, you can be convicted of a violation, be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) or by imprisonment not to exceed six (6) months, or by both fine and imprisonment.  IS IT WORTH IT?

Let’s all enjoy our city parks with respect and keep our dogs on leashes and pick up after them.  This will ensure fun for all for years to come!

What else would you like to see pet parents do when at the park with their dog?

Pet Sitter’s Perspective on Puppy Socialization

Did you know that if you socialize your puppy at a young age they will grow up to be a more well rounded dog?  How do you go about socializing your new puppy?  What about an older dog that needs socialization?  Can an old dog learn new tricks?

As a pet sitting company in Mesa, AZ (also servicing Gilbert and Gold Canyon) we see unsocial dogs all the time.  Some of the behaviors we notice when we meet our new unsocial clients are:

Aggression toward new people

Hiding behind mom or dad

Raised hackles

Slow to get to know a new person

Some of these pets are great on a leash but leery of new people in their home.  Some are great with new people in their home, but act aggressive while on a walk.

How do you make sure your new puppy is socialized properly so you don’t have to worry about these issues as they get older?  How do you help your older dog be more social?

The following video offers great tips on how to ensure your pet becomes a well rounded, social dog.

So what do you do when you are busy and don’t have the time to properly socialize your dog?  Here are a few recommendations:

There are several doggy day cares to choose from.  If you enroll your puppy into doggy day care it allows them to be in a different environment and meet new dogs every day!

Taking your puppy for walks around the neighborhood and allowing them to meet new people, smell new things and explore is a great way to get them used to new things.

Seeking out social activities or pet friendly events that your dog is welcome to.

 Do you have other ideas on how to socialize a dog?  Leave your comment below…

Dogs NEED Training

Yeah, punched in the face by an untrained, 120 lb dog.  As a pet sitter in Mesa, AZ I come across lots of dogs that aren’t trained.  If you are the type of person that prefers not to have a trained dog and just wants your dog to be a dog, you are doing yourself a disservice.  It’s fine if you don’t ever want people to come to your house, but, what about the time you want to take a vacation and NEED someone to come over and take care of your dogs?  You are putting your pet sitter in danger of getting seriously hurt, especially if you have a large dog.

The dog that punched me in the face knows how to sit and lay down, but she has so much energy the family has no idea how to handle her.  She jumps up on everyone that comes in the door, she runs into the kids, knocking them down, and chews up everything she can when left alone.  With some consistent training, she could really turn into a great dog.

 After suggesting, on several occasions, that they work with a trainer, the pet parents continued to ignore me and I finally had to discontinue services because their dog was not respecting my space and ended up punching me in the face.  I’m sorry, but once there is a potential to hurt my pretty face…I’m out! 🙂

There are a ton of trainers out there that can help. I personally prefer the ones that don’t use shock collars, prong collars or choke collars.  I am more of a reward for good behavior type of person.  Kathrine Breeden, with Be Kind To Dogs,  is that type of trainer.  She has been certified and licensed by Victoria Stilwell herself!  She also shares a ton of free information about training on her Facebook group page.  Here you can download the information or ask her questions yourself. Make your life less stressful and your sitter happy by giving your dog some consistent, positive training!

Boy, My Nugget is a Weirdo

My 3 year old Cocker Spaniel is the most persnickety pet I’ve ever had.  All pets have their quirks, but Nugget seems to have so many.  It does give him character and his quirks make me laugh.  Some of them also make my head hurt.

He is a dog that doesn’t like change.  For instance, if we drape a t-shirt over the baby gate and he doesn’t see us do it, once he notices it he will bark like there is an intruder in our house.  If we change his water/food bowl, he will stare at it like it’s an alien and won’t eat.

 

Nugget Refusing New Bowl

We added a new dog to the household about 6 months ago and he has taken to chewing on Nugget’s food dish/water bowl if we leave it down.  Well, we have to leave the water bowl down so Nugget can drink (because he won’t drink out of the fountain the other 2 dogs drink from).  Our new dog has chewed up 2 of Nugget’s dishes.  Each time we bring a new dish into the house for Nugget to eat out of, he just stares at it…perplexed…like…where’s my old bowl?  He has gone 2 full days without eating because he refused to eat from his new dish.  I talked in great length with several dog trainers about this issue.  They all basically said the same thing…”Some dogs are just weird like that.  Will he eat off the floor?  If yes, why don’t you just feed him from the floor?”  My answer, “Because…dogs are supposed to eat from a bowl.”  I guess not…and really, in the wild, they didn’t have dishes to eat from.

So now, Nugget eats from the floor.  He’s totally fine with it, I don’t get upset because he’s not eating from the $10 bowl I just bought him.  All is back in order…but that still makes Nugget a weirdo!

Nugget Eating From Floor

How Your Backyard Could be Changing Your Dogs Behavior

When choosing your backyard landscaping, keep your pets in mind.  In Arizona, with our high heat summers, some landscape designs may be hurting your dog and changing their behavior.

Desert Landscaping

Desert landscaping is appealing because it’s low maintenance and saves water.  However, the majority of desert landscaping consists of several different types of cacti, harmful plants and rocks.  Dogs with a high drive can, and will, chase lizards and other critters into cacti.  The rocks heat up during the day which will burn your dogs paws.  If your dog feels discomfort walking onto those hot rocks they may not want to go potty outside anymore, leaving them to eliminate in the house.

Astro Turf

Astro turf has become a popular backyard alternative to grass.  Some cities are offering incentives for installing this type of landscaping to help reduce the use of water.  A big sales pitch for astro turf for pet parents is that it can be washed off and the urine won’t stain or turn the turf yellow.  Although that may be true, the turf heats up hotter than rocks in the Arizona summer days, burning your pets paws.  This may deter your pet from walking on the turf and have them eliminating in undesirable areas.

There have also been reports of there being a carcinogen in synthetic grass.  Many football fields are considering removing the turf because of this.

Concrete, “cool” decking, pavers, flagstone, A.K.A – Hardscaping

Hardscaping your backyard is beautiful.  It’s extremely low maintenance and saves water.  Great if you don’t have pets.  Not only do those surfaces retain heat and will burn your pets paws, you need to sanitize the surface each time your pet eliminates on it.

If you notice your pet acting funny, not wanting to go outside to potty, or beginning to eliminate in the house, check your yard.  Have you given your pet a cool place to go potty?  A patch of grass they can easily get to?