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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

When I first moved here six years ago from Brooklyn, N.Y., somewhere along the way my cats picked up fleas. With no money in my pocket, I had to deal with the issue myself instead of taking them to a professional. If you’ve never experienced giving three cats a flea dip, I don’t recommend trying. I was sure a neighbor would call the police to report a horrible crime was taking place from the sound of my cats’ yowling!

Cats by nature are clean animals. If you’re a cat owner, you know the two activities cats spend most of the day doing are sleeping and grooming.

So if cats are constantly grooming their fur, why do most of them dislike water?

Cats and Water

Although no one knows for certain, there are theories on why they freak out over a bath. When a cat’s fur gets wet, it feels heavier, making them very uncomfortable. Cats are naturally skittish and don’t care for surprises or change. When a cat is uncomfortable they’re not happy and won’t hesitate to let you know with a swift scratch or a piercing bite. Another reason is with wet fur, a cat experiences a loss of body heat, especially for those cats living in colder climates.

Another possibility is due to a cat’s sense of smell being up to 100,000 times stronger than ours. Perhaps they can smell the other nutrients or chemicals in our tap water and rebel against having that scent imbedded in their coats.

My personal favorite theory is that cats evolved from felines living in dry warm areas of the world, such as Egypt, and therefore saw very little water. As they evolved, water was something they never got used to.

Not all cats have a fear of water. Chimi, my first cat, often crawled into the shower with me to let the water run down on him. If a toilet seat were left up, I would find him sitting inside like it was his own personal bathtub. When I would run any tap in sinks he would crawl under the tap and submerge his head. He was an extraordinary feline, however, there are breeds of cats, such as the Turkish Van, often called the “swimming cat,” that love being in water.

If You Must…

Most cats don’t require baths on a regular basis, but if you must, here are a few tips for fellow cat owners:

  • Don’t add anything to the water like scented bubble bath or oils. Make sure the      water is warm and run the sink or bath before getting them in the tub. The sound of running water can add to their fear. Don’t rinse them under a running tap. Instead use a cup to rinse them after shampooing.
  • Stroke and talk to them in a soothing calm voice during the process.
  • Place a towel on the bottom of the sink or tub for them to stand on so they won’t feel as if they could slip.
  • Use a shampoo made specifically made for cats. Make sure it is unscented.

Consult a Professional

If you find your cat has fleas or needs a bath for other reasons, the best advice is take them to a professional. Our groomer, Lux, is amazing at grooming cats and has taught me how to handle them for any future baths, brush outs or nail trims to avoid potential emergency room visits. I sure could have used her advice six years ago.

By Sara Schabach-In-Home Pet Sitting Manager and Company Writer

If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you, your pet, and behavior are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 1, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

At Bark + Boarding, we’ve established a daycare evaluation process that works effectively. It’s a color-coded grading system to evaluate dogs on their first day of daycare. Green dogs are easy passes, while yellow dogs are those attendants need to watch more closely. Red is a dog that is currently not a good fit for our daycare environment.

What kinds of behaviors are we looking for and what does this grading system focus on?

Questions Before the Evaluation

Before we take your dog to the daycare area to begin the evaluation, we ask each client a series of questions. What are your reasons for daycare? Does your dog have off-leash social history? How old are they? Does your dog have resource guarding issues when sharing toys or food? Although we don’t allow food or toys in daycare, it tells us your dog could possibly become aggressive in other situations.

Does your dog have a strong prey drive? Most dogs see a squirrel or bunny and want to take chase. We want to make sure your dog knows the difference between a small dog and other small animals.

When they are upset, do they whine, bark or growl? It tells us if they listen when they’re being corrected on behaviors such as humping,  rough-housing, resource guarding or barking. If your dog listens to daycare attendants when being corrected on a certain behavior or moves on to another dog if the dog they first approach for play doesn’t wish to join in the fun, these are signs of a submissive dog. The more submissive the dog, the higher the score.

Green Dog

Green dogs are characterized as being easygoing, friendly, balanced, playful, and responsive to social cues with humans and other dogs. Generally speaking, the younger the dog, the more “green” they will be.  If you adopt a puppy and plan on using daycare, the sooner you bring them in, the more likely they will be successful in daycare. Puppies learn behavior from watching other dogs and daycare is the perfect puppy preschool.

Yellow Dog

Yellow dogs will exhibit behaviors like rough playing, humping, snapping, occasionally challenging authority, excessive barking, and/or door guarding. These are the dogs our attendants watch closely. Frequently, a yellow dog can become a green dog just by going to daycare on a regular basis.

Like puppies, they learn from observing the dogs who listen, are friendly, don’t get corrected as often and in return, gain more rewards with affection and attention from daycare staff. We encourage yellow dog owners to work on certain behaviors at home as well as making the commitment of frequent visits to daycare and dog parks.

Red Dog

This is a dog that isn’t right for a daycare environment at the time of evaluation. They growl, snap, bite and lunge at other dogs or humans. Raised haunches are another sign of aggression.

The first thing you should know, there is nothing wrong with your dog. Not all dogs are good daycare candidates. We give clients advice on how to change negative behavior, including suggestions on training classes. As an alternative to daycare, we offer in-home visits or recurring mid-day visits.

Our staff takes pride in working with dogs that need extra time or training. And won’t give up on dogs we believe can improve.

“If I have the slightest inkling that a dog can be molded into daycare material, I will take the time to work with them one-on-one as well as in the pack,” says Bark + Boarding daycare manager John Kasinger. “No dog is a hopeless case. They just need extra attention.”

In fact, we love dogs that need extra help. The work we do with dogs and their owners always seems to pay off and these dogs often become staff favorites. Daycare would not be the same without them.

By Sara Schabach, In-Home Pet Sitting Manager and Company Writer

If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you, your pet, and behavior are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

We all know your pets seem to understand what it means when a suitcase comes out of the closet. Dogs especially, want to be part of the family and I won’t plan vacations unless my dog can come along.

If your pup isn’t joining the family vacation, you’ll most likely take him for a boarding stay. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your dog’s ready for his next boarding stay.

Boarding Facilities

Before your dog’s stay, visit the facility and ask for a tour. Ask how many staff members will be on-site during your pup’s stay. You want to make sure there are at least 2-3 supervisors in the facility caring for the dogs. Is it a daycare environment during the day? If not, how often do they go out for exercise and for how long?

Another important detail is inquiring into what cleaning supplies, such as disinfectant, they use. Are they pet safe? We use Simple Green disinfectant, an all-natural, animal friendly cleaning product.

Observe how well the boarding facility is organized. Does it look like personal items such as beds, blankets and leashes are clearly marked and feeding instructions obvious? Are employees engaging and affectionate with other dogs? Ask the facility if they provide any social media check ins. Bark + Boarding posts photos and videos twice a day on Facebook so that clients can check in and see their dog while they’re away.

If your dog suffers from crate anxiety, see if they offer an alternative to crating. At Bark + Boarding, we’ve built smaller rooms called “zones” for dogs with crate anxiety.

Trial Run

We recommend doing a trial run before a lengthy stay, especially if your pup is new to the environment. Book a one-night stay and ask the staff to take notes on your dog’s behavior, getting the report when picking up. Because we’re also a daycare facility and your dog will be in daycare during their stay, you should bring her in for a few days of playtime before boarding. This helps your dog to associate the facility with fun and minimizes any feelings of abandonment when they stay the night.

Arrival Day

Bring your dog on the first day of boarding as early as possible. You want to give your pup plenty of time to play before they’re crated or put in the zone for the night. By allowing for extra playtime, your pup will be tuckered out and ready for a good night’s sleep. Arriving close to bedtime can stress your dog out and they won’t get a chance to blow off some of that steam. We feel so strongly about this that we ask clients to drop off your dog before 4 p.m.

What to Bring

You should bring your dog’s usual food. Other boarding facilities may provide food, but we think it’s important to keep your dog on his normal diet with the same feeding schedule as if they’re home. Some dogs find boarding stressful and if not eating their normal diet, it can result in an upset stomach.

Bring along an item from home, such as a small bed, blanket or towel and ask the staff to put it in the crate at night. Smelling a familiar scent from home can be a soothing reminder for your pup. If your dog needs medication, make sure the staff understands the dosage instructions and provide pill pockets or peanut butter if this is how medication is administered at home.

The best way to determine if your dog is happy with your choice of boarding facility is to pay attention to their reaction when you pull up to the front door of the business. If they’re excited, you’ve found a winner. Travel safe!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 3, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

I first met Saphy, Vega and Boudreau on an in-home registration. It was hard not to fall in love. Saphy, the oldest of the three dogs, is blind and follows you with her nose. Vega is light brown and small. She wears a constant look of concern on her face. Boudreau is the largest dog with dark patches on his white fur and the attention hog of this Pit-bull crew. They’re three of the most wonderful dogs I’ve known and the first I’ve cared for whose meals are based on the trendy raw diet, specifically, Primal Pet Food.

The first thing I noticed about these dogs is how healthy they are. Each is the perfect weight for their frame. All of them have the shiniest fur I’ve ever seen. They’re strong and athletic. Although she can’t see, Saphy jumps around like a puppy at playtime. Their feces are small and compact with no odor. Did their raw diet have anything to do with it?

Raw Diet Theory

The theory behind the raw diet is to feed your cat or dog food closest to what they would be eating if they were still in the wild. All proteins, usually muscle meat often still on the bone and organ meats such as kidneys and livers are 100 percent human grade, meaning the product is legally suitable and approved as nourishment for humans, as well as antibiotic and steroid free. All fruits and veggies, for example, kale, carrots, squash, broccoli and apples are certified organic with no preservatives added.

Benefits for dogs and cats include better intestinal health, healthier teeth and gums, shinier coats, weight loss, smaller amounts of feces with less offensive odors, urinary tract health and increased energy. Using a ready-made product saves you time in preparing meals from scratch and they are complete diets containing all the essential vitamins and minerals your pet needs. The feeding amount is usually smaller per meal meaning less food is needed.

The Decision

Thinking of my pets, I wondered if a raw diet could help one of my cats that’s overweight as well as my beefy dog? Would it improve the overall health of all three of my cats and dog?

When I was told one of the new products our retail store would be carrying was Primal Pet Food, I decided to make the change. Before trying a raw diet with your pet it’s important to first discuss this dietary change with your vet. My own vet was very supportive of my decision, especially for my dog. Your vet can guide you on how to ensure your pet will receive a balanced diet and remain healthy through the transition.

Transitioning to a Raw Diet

It’s important to start your pets off slowly when moving to the raw diet. Read the transition instructions the company provides on the back of the packaging. Each pet’s needs will vary depending on size and how much he or she normally eats. Gradually increase the amount of raw food until your pet is eating a full diet of raw products. Take as much time as your pet needs. The Primal Pet Food website has a great feeding calculator to determine the amount your pet should be fed. If your pet has a sensitive stomach, you may want to give him a digestive enzyme. Speak with your vet about recommended dosage.

Future Results

I begin the transition this week and will keep a journal to report any changes in my pets from their raw food diet. I will share my results over the next few weeks.

If you already use Primal Pet Food products or would like more information, we sell them at competitive prices in our retail store and Bark + Boarding (formerly Dog Paws n Cat Claws) staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Sitting Manager and Company Writer

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Our new full-time professional groomer, Lux, has a gift when it comes to working with dogs. When her longtime clients arrive for their appointments, the dogs are clearly happy to see her. As soon as they come in, they pull towards her, jump up to say hello or roll over for their customary tummy rub.

Many dogs don’t find a grooming experience pleasurable and may display severe anxiety upon entering a salon. But when it comes to Lux, every day I witness dogs looking forward to the time they share with her.

“You have to keep calm in order to keep them calm. Pay attention to signs of discomfort or stress and give them a break. Talk to them. Reward them. Give them extra love,” Lux explains.

If you’re the owner of a dog who suffers from grooming anxiety, there are several things you can do to help them become more comfortable with grooming services.

Puppy Grooming

When bringing home a new puppy, Lux suggests, “Take them for a groom before they’re three months old.” The younger the dog, the less chance of them developing a fear of the process as they mature.

Adult Dog Grooming

If you’ve rescued an adult dog you may need to do some introductory training, starting at home. Vetstreet.com’s resident trainer Mikkel Becker advises getting your dog familiar with being touched in sensitive areas before their first grooming appointment, specifically the muzzle, eyes, ears, paws, tail, rear, and groin.

Brush your dog frequently so they’re familiar with how it feels. Go slow at first. Your goal is to make the experience pleasurable for them. Being touched by you — someone they trust — will make them feel more comfortable when handled by a groomer.

Stressful Car Rides

I had a friend whose dog was only taken in the car to go to the vet or a grooming appointment. By only taking him to places where he was poked and prodded, her dog understandably associated the car with bad experiences. Make sure you take your dog for car rides to do fun things, too! This way they won’t automatically associate a car ride with a grooming appointment.

Introduce Them to the Salon

Before their first groom, Lux recommends introducing your dog to the grooming salon. Ask employees to spoil her with attention and give her several treats. When she comes back for the appointment, your dog will associate the salon with treats – something to look forward to!

Another suggestion is to make sure your pup gets 20-30 minutes of exercise right before their appointment. This will tire them out and make it easier for the groomer to finish in a timely manner.

Muzzles and Sedation

You can choose to muzzle your dog, but we recommend purchasing one with holes in the front so the dog can be rewarded with treats. Ask your groomer if they’re willing to give treats for good behavior. Lux is more than willing to oblige to this request from clients.

A dog with a severe case of anxiety may need to be sedated but we urge you to attempt other options before heading to the pharmacy. Try using a homeopathic stress stopper or an Adaptil collar, which contains a calming pheromone. If approved by your vet, try Benadryl and be sure to ask for dosage instructions. Melatonin is also worth trying with your vet’s approval.

Most dogs require regular grooming every 4-6 weeks. Taking the time and effort to get him ready to enjoy the grooming experience will pay off in less stress for you and your dog and make the groomer’s job easier in the end.

Lux is in the office weekly, from Wednesday through Sunday. She grooms cats, too! Call us to book an appointment.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

A few years ago, one of my friends had a rare vacation in which she was unable to take her black Lab, Moonpie, along for the fun. She asked if I could take care of her for the week instead of boarding her. This was before I had a dog of my own and I thought it could be great training for me in becoming a dog owner, something I’d always wanted to experience.

One day, I decided to take her hiking on my favorite trail. When we got to our first manhole cover, instead of walking over it, she detoured around it. I thought it kind of funny so every time we approached another manhole cover, I would observe her behavior. Each time she went out of her way to avoid walking over them.

That night, I spoke with Moonpie’s owner Sonia, and asked about her dog’s little quirk.  She told me, “I know! At some point in time she must have walked over one and maybe it was too hot, or loose or something? Whatever it was, it scared her to death and she thinks manhole covers are the devil now.”

Last year, I was invited to a doggy dip and observed the different ways dogs reacted to a swim in the pool. Some jumped in head first, while others avoided getting too close to the edge. A few clung to their owners in fear. “If a puppy isn’t socialized during the first three months it can increase the risk of behavior problems later in life such as fear, avoidance and aggression,” says veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker.

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we recommend introducing a dog to as many different environments as possible. We work with our clients on having a well-rounded dog and to minimize the development of potential fear factors. While socializing your pup with other dogs is important, we think it’s just as important to take socialization a step further.

Introduce Different Environments

When you bring home a puppy or a rescued dog, expose them to as many different environments as possible. Show them how it feels to walk on grass, sand, gravel, pavement, dirt and mud. Lead them into water so they can experience that sensation. Take them outside when it’s raining or snowing to familiarize them with different weather conditions. Because puppies are more malleable, taking them out in different weather conditions can diminish the likelihood of developing a fear of such conditions as they mature.

Taking your dog to unfamiliar buildings is also important. Introduce them to pet friendly buildings and unusual spaces like pet stores, flea markets and outdoor shopping centers, both crowded and sparse.

Put them in your car and visit family and friends who won’t mind having you and your dog over for a visit. Your presence will help ensure your dog’s confidence.

Environmental socialization may be challenging if you bring home an adult dog that already has certain fears or dislikes instilled in him. However, if you expose your dog to these different environments, you will gain valuable insights and can begin to put a counter-conditioning plan into action if needed.

Every dog may react differently to new environments but widening your dog’s environmental socialization will improve your dog’s confidence and make YOU feel more confident the next time you are out together on a new adventure.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

It’s easy to say, “I love you” to our favorite people, but how do we communicate with our fur babies when we want to say, “I love you?” It’s easy once you learn how to translate their distinctive language of affection.

Dogs

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Brian Hare, author of “The Genius of Dogs,” said a gentle, relaxed gaze directly into your eyes is a dog’s way of hugging you. Gazing back tells your dog, “I love you, too.”

When dogs lean on us, they’re asking you to keep them safe and protected. If you lean back, it shows you trust them.

Elyse Wanshel, senior writer at littlethings.com, cited a study in Japan that found when dogs saw their owner, they lifted their eyebrows (especially the left). Raising your eyebrows is a sign of affection.

Being hyper-excited when you get home means, “OMG! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” When we’re just as excited, it tells them you missed them, too.

Sleeping in your room/bed means they see you as family. Allowing them to sleep with you says you acknowledge them as an important member of the family.

When your pup greets you with a stretch, he’s saying hello and only does this with people he is completely comfortable with.

I sing the song “Me and My Shadow” to my dog daily. A dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying, but dogs are pack animals and they follow you because they want to be with those they love most: their families.

Cats

Cats can be less obvious with their affection leaving humans confused. In Lori Soad’s article “What To Do When Kitty Brings Home a Gift,” she says, “Your cat really thinks he is bringing you a gift” as a token of their gratitude. They consider you a member of their family.

Cats are prideful, so when they roll over to show you their belly, they’re saying they trust you unconditionally.

Mother Nature Network says a head-butting cat is marking you with her scent and claiming you as her own. When you lean into them, you are encouraging them to mark away.

The difference between love bites and play bites is unmistakable: one tickles and the other hurts. Love bites are your feline’s way of saying, “You’re awesome.” Have you ever seen a cat do a weird vibrating tail wag? This is also a sign of how awesome they think you are.

When a cat kneads on you while in your lap, it’s their way of saying, “I love you.”

A purring cat means they are happy, but did you know when your cat “talks” to you, mimicking the tone and sound of her “word” assures them they are safe and loved.

A slow blink is actually a cat’s kiss. If they give you a slow blink, reciprocate with a slow blink back at them. They know what you are saying!

The ultimate sign of your cat’s love is to groom you. Use a warm, damp cloth to gently stroke their heads and back in appreciation. This mimics how it felt when being groomed by their mother. 

Now that you know a few things about your fur babies’ language of love, start speaking their language and watch how you’ll receive plenty of love in return.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

On my first day as a dog walker and pet sitter at Dog Paws n Cat Claws, I met Sierra. Sierra is a Pit bull and Boxer mix with the strength and energy of both her breeds. I was trained to hold on tight to leashes and wrap the handle around my wrist for extra precaution and security, especially if I was not familiar with the dog.

Five minutes into our walk, she nearly pulled my arm out of its socket when she saw a rabbit. Lesson one: Watch for small animals. When she saw another dog, she barked furiously, lunging and jumping into the air. Her aggression took over as if flipping on a light switch. Lesson two: Avoid other dogs.

We developed a closer understanding as we continued to see each other every day. I became firmer with her, lowering the tone of my voice and making her walk next to me instead of in front of me. When we would run into another dog or spot a small animal, she remained calm, but I could tell it was a struggle for her. I wondered why she was so aggressive. When I heard she had been to daycare, I was surprised and a little concerned.

Leash Aggression Training

The next time she came to daycare, I checked in on her. Imagine my surprise when I discovered her romping across the room, happily searching for new playmates. She loved the other dogs. Sierra was not aggressive — unless she was on a leash!

Leash aggression is a common issue for dog owners. When dogs are on leash, they can feel restrained, frustrated and uncomfortable. In daycare or dog parks, dogs approach one another on their own terms and distance themselves when they perceive something scary or unlikable. When we put them on a leash, we’re taking away that natural process. In Sierra’s case, it’s not that she didn’t like dogs; she just had issues with dogs when she was on a leash.

If you have a dog with leash aggression, make it clear that lunging at whatever the stimulus might be won’t get them anywhere. Turn and walk away or put your foot on the leash and ignore the behavior. Do avoid punishing them. It will only suppress the behavior and won’t change their negative emotions thereby increasing insecurities.

When you see another dog in the distance, bring out a favorite treat or toy to get them focused on something else. They will begin to see that positive things happen when they see another dog. Don’t let them approach another dog until they are calm.

I began training Sierra with her favorite treat–my face! When I saw another dog approaching I would tell her to sit. If she did, I would get down on her level and let her give me a lick on my face. It didn’t take long for her to figure out she only had that privilege when she was behaving herself. When it came to small animals, I remained alert on each walk and eventually she began to ignore them altogether.

We train our pet sitters/dog walkers to take certain precautions. Every pet gets full attention for the entire walk and we don’t walk dogs from multiple homes together. We instruct dog walkers to keep a strong hold on the leash, and avoid dogs, and people until they are confident in the dog’s behavior.

These days, I don’t get to walk Sierra every day, but each time she comes in for daycare, I spend some one-on-one time with her. When I call her name, she recognizes me immediately and her body shakes with happiness. Because you see, Sierra still thinks my face is the best treat ever!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

“When we rescued Lucy, we bought her a crate. The first time we left her in the crate for a dinner date, we returned home to find she’d rubbed her nose to the point of breaking skin and her gums were bleeding which we assume happened because she was biting the cage. Please don’t put her in one here,” said Susan S., one of our favorite clients, as she dropped off her pup for boarding.

Crates can be excellent training tools for dog owners and essential for puppies, but that doesn’t mean they work for every dog. You may discover that your rescue dog, who came to you with little information about their past, may hate their crate.

If you have a dog that reacts negatively towards a crate, she may have experienced some type of trauma while in a crate or during confinement. With patient training, many dogs learn to accept their crates over time. If you don’t have time for training, creating a larger space, such as a room of her own or a gated area, is less stressful for your dog and easier for you.

If you have a dog that’s done well in crates in the past and suddenly decides to protest, it may have something to do with the size. You want to make sure the crate is large enough for him to comfortably stand up and turn around without obstructions. When buying a crate for a puppy, keep in mind how big he will grow before deciding on a size. Most crates today come with dividers so you can partition part of the cage off and move it as your puppy grows.

Placement of the crate is also critical. They should live in a space free of noisy appliances, away from vents blowing hot or cold air, and far from the entrances of your home. It should be in a room where there’s human activity. You want your dog to feel like he is still part of the family, but doesn’t need to be involved with everything. If you have small children, teach them to steer clear of crates. Poking or banging on crates can be stressful for dogs.

If you choose to work on counter-conditioning your dog’s anxiety, the goal is to get your dog to voluntarily enter her crate. You want her to feel secure in her crate and enjoy her time inside. Placing treats inside the crate with the door open entices your dog to check it out. Keep the door open until she seems a bit more comfortable inside. Once you close the door, make sure your pup can see you and gradually work your way up to moving out of her sight line for longer periods of time.

If your dog barks while in the crate, ignore the behavior. Only reward when they are calm and well behaved using high-quality treats or a favorite toy. Stuffed Kongs are ideal. It keeps them busy and the act of cleaning out the Kong helps them relax. Another option is to cover the crate with a sheet, simulating the feeling of being in a den and calming to your pup.

If your dog continues to hate his crate and causes nothing but trouble when left to roam your home, dog daycare is another option. We have several dogs that come to daycare and boarding with crate anxiety. We have designed our daycare facility to include several small rooms called “zones.” When Lucy and dogs like her stay with us, we utilize these zones to keep them happy, calm and secure during their stay. At Dog Paws, we put extra effort into ensuring a crate hater will never see the inside of a crate.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 9, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Baby, it’s cold outside! Growing up in Wisconsin, I’m no stranger to cold weather, but that doesn’t mean I like it. In fact, I HATE it. The ice, the snow, wearing bulky clothes to keep out the bone-chilling cold and what do you mean I can’t wear my flip-flops?

Though I’ve always had cats, I am the proud owner of Anakin, my 90-pound white Boxer. During winter, taking care of him is a priority for me. My cats live indoors all year round and so don’t require special winter care.

Monitor Outside Visits

Puppies, older dogs and dogs with health conditions (especially thyroid problems) are more susceptible to colder temperatures and conditions. Make sure to monitor them on each outside visit. Watch for signs of shivering, shortness of breath, weak pulses and lethargy. Frequently check for frostbite with special attention to ears, paws, scrotums and bellies.

Grooming

If your dog has long hair you will want to keep it as long as possible during the colder months to help insulate against the cold weather. This means you need to be more diligent about brushing so matting doesn’t occur. Matted dog hair can be very uncomfortable for your pup.

In warmer months, your dog’s nails don’t need to be trimmed as often due to the natural filing from longer walks and visits to the dog park. In winter, keep an eye on those paws and get more frequent nail clips or a good grinding.

Cold Weather Hazards

One hazardous waste that’s deadly for dogs, even in small amounts is antifreeze. Making matters worse, dogs are attracted to its sweet smell and taste. Be sure to watch for puddles of antifreeze, especially when walking near parking lots and garages.

Ice melters are another winter hazard that can cause painful irritation to a dog’s paws. One option is to get your dog a pair of boots to protect his feet.

If your dog doesn’t take to wearing boots, you will need to be extra vigilant about wiping down paws after outings. Around your property, we recommend using sand or one of the many pet-friendly ice melters on the market. Our favorite product, which we carry in our retail store, is Safe Paw Ice Melter.

It’s important to keep your dog on a leash in the winter, especially around ponds and creeks. Dogs can easily wander away and slip or even fall through the ice. Hypothermia doesn’t take long to set in despite their natural fur coats.

Exercise

You may need to limit your dog’s exercise time outdoors, but consider a waterproof winter dog jacket, especially if your pup has short hair or is smaller and closer to the ground. Not all dogs like these coats, but when I put on Anakin’s winter jacket, he’s more likely to stay out longer and gets the outdoor exercise he needs.

Be prepared to throw the ball a few more times indoors and make sure there is a high-quality chew toy to keep your pup busy when he’s stuck indoors. Better yet? Bring them to daycare. They will be safe from the cold weather while getting the socialization and exercise they need. With fewer walks and less time spent at the dog park, daycare is the perfect solution for upcoming cold weather days.

Happy Holidays!
Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

My first cat, Chimichanga, would retaliate if I didn’t keep his litter box clean. Instead of getting into the box, he would squat down in front of it to relieve himself and we cat owners know how difficult it is to get cat urine odor out of a carpet. Even if WE can’t smell it after cleaning, our cats certainly can. Maintaining your cat’s litter box is the most important part of cat ownership and needless to say, Chimi kept me motivated to keep litter boxes clean for all my cats.

The Litter

Each cat has its own rules: from what kind of litter they prefer to where you put the box. With so many products to choose from, it may take time to find the right litter that you and your cats can agree on. Keep in mind that scented litter was invented for humans, not your cats, and they may not like it. I never cared for clay litter and decided to experiment with other options. It took some time and effort to find the winning product that we could all agree on.

Cleaning

Make it part of your daily routine. For example, my boyfriend has the morning shift after walking the dog and I have the evening shift after feeding the cats. If you have children, make it part of their daily chores. The only member of the family that should never touch a litter box is a pregnant woman. She could contract toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection transmitted through infected cat feces. Once a week, dump litter and clean the box with a mild detergent like dish soap that won’t leave a strong chemical smell or residue behind. Anything stronger could be toxic to your cat and they may choose to relieve themselves elsewhere.

Placement

Cat experts recommend you have just as many litter boxes as you have cats, plus one. Cats like privacy when they need to use their box but placement needs to be convenient. If you live in a multi-level home, each level should have a box. Make sure that doors blocking access are propped open. Don’t place litter boxes next to noisy appliances such as washing machines or water heaters. Cats have a very strong sense of smell and depend on this sense to tell them where their food is so keep the box away from their food and drinking water.

Types of Litter Boxes

What type of box you use may take some experimenting. Some cats prefer those with lids, others may not. Start out with two different models and you will quickly discover which they prefer. I love the deeper boxes with holes in the top because my dog isn’t able to reach those “special” treats. Self-cleaning boxes are an option, but keep in mind they need checking daily and changed once a week as well.

Accessories

There are several litter box deodorizers available, but like scented litter, they can be a turn off for cats. Using plain baking soda works just as well. Litter liners were invented for human convenience but when I tried to use them, my cats shredded the bag on the first day while covering up their business.

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we train our in-home sitters to scoop the litter on each visit. Your being away can stress out your cat and they could retaliate for this reason alone. Keeping a clean litter box will minimize the temptation they may have to ruin your favorite rug.

An unhappy cat has a way of making your life difficult. Keep your kitty’s litter box clean and fresh and you will have a happier cat…and a happier you!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 28, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Hosting the big dinner over the upcoming holidays can be stressful for everyone and we’ve all heard stories about dogs getting into trouble. Years ago, my sister’s 80-pound dog Hershel attempted to jump on top of the dining room table and nearly succeeded. I recently read a story about a dog that managed to get the oven door open, pull out the turkey and eat half of it before anyone noticed!

Avoiding Kitchen Accidents

When I’m in the kitchen, so is my dog. He’s underfoot, hoping for scraps, volunteering for taste tests and being what he thinks of as helpful. However, eating scraps or giving your dog samples can potentially make them sick and cause weight gain. In addition, my own dog has almost gotten burned, been stepped on and eaten things that are toxic. It’s a risk HE is certainly willing to take. Keeping your dog out of the kitchen while cooking is the best way to protect him. You should keep them crated or blocked off with a baby gate to prevent kitchen accidents.

A Crowded House

There are many reasons why it’s important to keep your eyes open when the house is full. A crowded house can often create behavior problems for dogs when family and friends are engrossed in conversation and heads are turned. Your dog may take advantage of the situation and help himself to tasty plates of goodies, especially when everything smells amazing! Keep food out of reach and as high as possible to avoid trouble. Having children running around can also be stressful for your dog if they aren’t used to being around children. Teaching children how to approach a new dog is essential during the holiday season.

If you choose to keep your pal at home with you, consider blocking off the kitchen as suggested above or creating a space more contained than usual. To keep your dog busy, stuff a Kong full of treats or peanut butter and also set her up with a favorite chew toy or dog bone. And when it comes to bones, don’t offer any from your cooking. Small and slow-cooked bones can splinter when chewed, causing blockages in a dog’s system and possibly tearing intestines.

Boarding

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we recommend boarding anxious dogs in a safe, familiar facility with plenty of socialization and minimal crate time. We only crate dogs when sleeping and eating and schedule our daily cleaning ritual around feeding times. Our goal is to ensure your pet spends the majority of the day free to play, observe, receive attention or nap when and where they choose.

Holiday Dinner Scraps: Just Say No

Dogs foraging into trash cans and kitchen counters while unattended is expected and no doubt social media over the holidays will be full of photos of these canine mischief-makers, giving us plenty of entertainment. However, this can potentially cause great harm to your pup.

Deviating from your dogs’ (and cats’!) regular diets during the holidays can be a bad idea and cause health issues. I know it’s hard for me to resist those puppy eyes politely asking for a handout at the holiday table. Consider finding recipes for safe and healthy homemade dishes for your pets instead of offering scraps. Consult with your vet before proceeding if you have any concerns.

Think about starting a new family holiday tradition by getting your children involved in preparing something special for your pets. Because after all, our pets are family, too!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 14, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

At the tender age of 5, I came home with a caterpillar and announced to my parents, “I’m her new Mommy.”

Obviously, that didn’t work out, but it was clear that I would be a die-hard rescuer. Right after I moved to a place of my own, I rescued a kitten on the highway that lived as my loyal best friend for 17 years! I’ve rescued one from an abandoned house, and another under a car. My current 3 cats were rescued off the streets of New York. I “foster failed” with my 90-pound deaf boxer after 2 days and I signed the adoption papers with tears of joy.

I’m lucky enough today to be surrounded by people who have the same mind set as I do. At Thanksgiving, I make a list of what I have to be thankful for and my pets are always at the top. In turn, I look for ways to show my gratitude to the organizations that rescue pets in need of care, love and a family. It’s time to remember those in need.

It’s estimated that approximately 7.6 million animals enter shelters each year in the US, including 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats. Only 10% of them are spayed or neutered. 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized every year, even with the 13,600 rescue organizations across the US doing their best to save them. Dog Lover’s Digest lists 7 rescue groups in Arlington alone, with even more in the surrounding areas. We have worked with Homeward Trails for over 11 years and know just how desperate the need is to care for all of these rescued pets.

Homeward Trails, who is responsible for finding my own dog, currently has 55 dogs at its rescue shelter, with 125 dogs and 150 cats in foster care. They need your help! Homeward Trails Adoption Coordinator and Dog Paws employee Miranda Trohon says, “With the increasing number of animals we take in during the colder months, we have an ever-increasing amount of animals to feed. We can go through upwards of 30 bags of food a month at our Adoption Center alone!” This is only one rescue group in our area. Each and every one of them would benefit from donations. I am asking you to pick your favorite and give what you can.

Most of the dogs and cats that enter rescue shelters are from a rough background. Nothing helps a puppy or kitten grow like excellent nutrition and a sick animal is more likely to bounce back into a full recovery if they are eating healthy food. Look for grain free food and make sure the top listed ingredient is a protein. All of the dog and cat food we sell in our store is of the highest nutritional quality.

During this time of gratitude, we can all be thankful for what we have. What we can give to help those less fortunate is a wonderful way to say “thank you.” There are so many rescue organizations in our area that are in need and each November, Dog Paws n Cat Claws offers 10% off of any products bought in our store that will be donated to Homeward Trails, making it easier and more affordable to provide high quality products.

My pets have added so much joy to my life and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. I personally want to thank them by donating to Homeward Trails in their name. They brought me my best friend. Join me! Where did your best friend come from? Thank the rescue organization that brought you together by giving back. Better yet, adopt a NEW pet!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sara Schabach
Dog Paws n Cat Claws
In-home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 31, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

If you are a parent of small children, you will very likely spend the evening of Halloween walking through your neighborhood asking for candy with your kids dressed in silly costumes. 

While out and about, you will be sure to see someone with a dog out on an evening walk or joining the family in the festivities. There is a natural attraction between children and dogs. It doesn’t take long for dogs to figure out that the smaller the human, the more food they are likely to pick up and messy faces are delicious desserts. Kids love dogs because they are soft, adorable and just plain fun to be around. Training your children how to approach dogs they’re not already familiar with is important for many reasons: The most important reason is SAFETY!

First, let’s talk about the approach. Don’t ever RUN at a dog. It can make a dog feel threatened or overwhelmed. A calm, slower approach will allow the dog to see you coming and begin the proper greeting. Another important thing to remember is to ALWAYS ask the owner for permission to continue with the meeting. Most owners are going to be very honest if they believe there could be the slightest issue in meeting new friends. Respect anyone who says it may not be a good idea. 

A large, over-excited dog can do harm to smaller children just by jumping up on them and knocking them over. It is certainly unintentional, but the owner of the dog may not feel comfortable with the possibility of harming your child in this way and therefore ask your child not to approach. ALWAYS comply with any owner’s recommendations, as they know their dog better than anyone else. 

At Dog Paws we train our dog walkers to avoid other people during their walks simply because we don’t always know how they will react in all situations. If there is a dog being walked and they cross the street to avoid you, don’t take it personally — it’s probably a neighborhood dog walker.

Once permission has been granted, walk forward with your arm out in front of you, your hand in a fist, palm facing down. Hold it low to allow the dog to take a few sniffs. If the dogs leans forward or gives it the “lick” of approval you may proceed. If the dog does not lean forward or looks away, it’s better to leave it be. Instruct your child to stay away from petting faces and avoid the tail. Not even the nicest dog in the world is okay with a tail pull. Petting should be gentle and slow with long strokes to begin with. Encourage your children to talk to the owner about what the dog’s favorite “scratch spot” might be.

Something to remember is that dogs — even those who do well with children on a regular basis — may feel intimidated if there is a large group of kids. I know a dog that would pull me to the playground on our daily walks to meet the children playing, but once there were more than five of them surrounding her she would show signs of stress. Teach your children to look for these signs of stress in dogs. If a dog is backing away, begins to snarl or you see the hair on the back of his neck and down the spine go up, it’s time to move on.  

Teaching children how to respect dogs will help them develop stronger, healthier pet relationships in the future. Knowing the correct techniques when meeting dogs is the best way for all parties involved. 

Happy Trick-or-Treating! 

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager / Writer Extraordinaire

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 17, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

We’ve all been there. We’ll see our dog eating something strange or even downright disgusting and ask ourselves, “Why is my dog eating that?” From grass to poop to the remote control, what are the reasons why some dogs have pretty strange appetites?

Grass. I refer to this as “having a salad” and it can mean a number of things. He may have an upset stomach and grass is a natural remedy for gassy upset tummies. Try a dog food higher in fiber or add fresh cooked veggies to his kibble. Grass eating can be as simple as liking the way it tastes or feels. It also can be a sign of boredom so keep your dog engaged with walks and outdoor activities. Keep in mind that although grass itself is not bad for dogs, the pesticides they pick up from treated lawns could be harmful.

Feces. The scientific name for eating feces is coprophagia and it’s not an uncommon behavior in dogs. It’s a mother dog’s natural instinct to clean herself and necessary to stimulate urination and defecation in her puppies. What about the dog that does this for apparently no reason? Research shows it could mean a dog is suffering from parasites, diets deficient in nutrients, conditions such as diabetes or as a side effect from drugs, such as steroids. Consult your vet to rule out any of these health issues. It also can be due to anxiety. Try adding a Vitamin B complex supplement to your dog’s diet and monitor his behavior for any further signs of anxiety.

The cats provide one of my dog’s favorite “treats” each time they use the litter box. He thinks they’re delicious, we think it’s gross! He probably acquired this unusual craving because of his love of cat food. He’ll do anything to get it and I’ve moved the food to a higher shelf. Cat poop will naturally taste of the cat food he craves but it can make him sick. Cat food is higher in fat and protein than dog food, which is hard on a dog’s liver and kidneys. Chemicals in the litter can cause blockages in the intestines, as well as transmitting parasites.

To solve this problem, go to the pet store and find a top entry litter box. I actually took an old Tupperware bin and cut a hole in the top. It’s deep enough so that even if his head enters the hole, he can’t reach the forbidden treats.

Chewing objects. Puppies have a bad habit of chewing on everything and anything as they explore their world and usually outgrow this behavior. However, when you are not home, a dog may find something that smells like you and immediately want to check it out. Objects like jewelry, cell phones, TV remotes, kitchen utensils and clothing — especially shoes — contain your scent and oils and commonly become chew toys for your dog. If your dog displays this tendency, make sure to keep these objects out of his reach.

Chewing is something dogs need to do to keep their teeth healthy as well as relieving boredom and tension. But it can also be due to lack of exercise so it’s important to make sure your dog gets at least 1-2 hours of exercise each day and mental stimulation through playtime and obedience training. Take her to doggy daycare to blow off some of that steam!

No dog is perfect and let’s be honest…we wouldn’t want them any other way!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager / Writer Extraordinaire

 

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