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by ARLnow.com Sponsor July 10, 2017 at 2:30 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.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Summertime is here, it’s puppy season, and many people are beginning the search for a new dog to join their family. There are so many breeds and it can be overwhelming getting started.

Making a list of desired qualities in a dog is a great first step to finding the right match. This process involves thinking about yourself and your lifestyle, as much as about the potential dog. Here are some fundamental questions to ask about yourself and the dog you are considering.

How much exercise will this dog require, and how much am I able to offer?

What kind of space do you have? If you don’t have a large yard, do you have time to take your dog to the park regularly? Do you have any regular outdoor activities for which your dog could join you?

This is one of the most important factors to think about, because an active breed can misbehave if he doesn’t get the necessary exercise. For example, if a herding dog does not have the space to run, it is likely that dog will chew your furniture out of frustration.

What age dog will be the best fit for me?

It is tempting to go straight for the tumbling, cuddly puppies. But when people say puppies are a lot of work, they aren’t joking. Having a puppy is like having a human baby. They require constant supervision when they are not crated, and they cannot be in a crate all day.

All puppies will chew just about anything they can get their mouths around, since they are teething. To redirect them from chewing your clothes and furniture, you’ll need to provide your puppy with a steady stream of teething chew toys with a variety of textures.

Potty training takes time and cannot truly begin for most puppies until they are about 12 weeks old, because before that age, they do not have enough control of their bowl movements to learn to hold it. That means if you adopt an 8-week-old puppy, you’ll need to stock up on training pads and carpet cleaners and be ready to take your puppy out for a potty break every 1 to 2 hours throughout the day.

That said, if you are prepared and able, raising a puppy is joyful and rewarding. If you already have an adult dog who can be territorial or uncertain about other dogs, a puppy might be the best choice, since adult animals are often more accepting of new babies than of a new adult.

However, if you have a dog advanced in years, you’ll need to tire out your new puppy with lots of playtime, so that the little one doesn’t make your older dog crazy.

Some people want to rescue a senior dog who is in need of a home. This might be a good match for you, if you are often home and not extremely active. Do note that senior dogs will need high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin in their diets and will likely need extra supplements to keep their joints healthy. Older dogs are also likely to need more frequent vet visits, low-fat diets and ramps to get into the car.

How much will this dog eat, and how much am I willing to spend?

A healthy, active Labrador Retriever weighs an average of 67 pounds and will eat around 3.5 cups of quality, high protein food each day. This means a 25-pound bag of quality dog food would last your lab a little under a month.

Feeding your dog a food with lots of fillers will actually require your dog to eat more in order to feel full, and this often leads to obesity. The cost of dog food should not deter you from getting a dog you can afford, but it is important to be prepared for the expense, so your budget doesn’t suffer.

What kind of disposition am I looking for?

Do you need a high-energy, gentle family dog who won’t be stressed out by all your kids? What about your other pets? If you have a dominant dog at home already, talk to your shelters, rescues, or breeders about finding a dog with an easy-going personality. If you have two rabbits, you might not want a dog with a high prey drive, like a Greyhound.

For those who have several specific needs in their dog’s personality, it might be a good idea to try a fostering program where you can bring the dog home for a trial period, or to ask one of the dog’s handlers to meet you and your current dog at a local park.

Regardless of personality, it is always crucial to introduce a new pet to your current pets gradually and with full supervision. If you have a current dog you want to work on socializing before introducing a new pet, Bark & Boarding’s daycare program is a great place to start. We can also give you tips on choosing the right pup.

How much health and coat maintenance does this dog require?

All dogs need their puppy shots and yearly physicals, but certain breeds have common problems for which you may need to be prepared. For example, certain breeds have a tendency to have food allergies.

White dogs need their skin and coat monitored closely because they are prone to sunburn and skin sensitivities. Dachshunds and Corgis benefit from ramps and stairs, since they are prone to back problems. These are things to be aware of as you’re searching.

Dogs’ coats vary greatly as well. Wire-coated dogs like Airedales need regular grooming, so their coats don’t become matted. All dogs with fur shed. But be ready for those Huskies and Corgis. Dogs bred for cold climates have a fluffy undercoat that adds significantly to your brushing and sweeping duties. Make sure you’re willing to do that little extra work for your dream dog before diving in.

Asking yourself these questions will give you a great starting point for your search. Good luck finding the perfect pooch for your home!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 26, 2017 at 2:30 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.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Does cuddle time with your dog cause an avalanche of fur to tumble down his back? Your dog shedding in the summer is unavoidable, but it can be managed! Here are our top four tips to help you manage shedding season:

Correct Grooming: Grooming is about a lot more than a stylish cut. A summer groom for your pet could include a bath, which helps wash out loose hairs; a coat condition, which hydrates the fur to reduce unnecessary shedding; a brush out, which aids in removing fur about to shed; and a trim or shave for certain breeds.

You should always consult a professional groomer before asking for a summer haircut, since there are many types of coats that all have their own unique factors. For example, cutting a Husky’s undercoat for the summer could actually interfere with her natural cooling system. A professional grooming is the best first step for putting summer shedding in check.

The experienced grooming team at Bark & Boarding know exactly what your pet’s grooming needs are and have custom services for dogs of all breeds.

Quality Brushes and Combs: Regular brushing or combing will remove dead hair, dirt, and dandruff, in addition to collecting loose fur on the brush, instead of in the corners of your home. Using the correct type of brush is extremely important to avoid damaging your pet’s skin or coat, but also to ensure your brushing is effective.

A quality brush or comb, designed for your pet’s coat, is a worthwhile investment. You may be surprised by how much more lose hair you can remove from your pet with the right tool. One of the best de-shedding tools on the market is the FURminator. It comes in different widths and blade lengths to suit the needs of different breeds of dogs, cats and even horses.

Clean-Up Products: Since some shedding is bound to occur, it’s worth considering some of the products that are designed to collect fur.

For example, Bissell has a series of vacuums made for homes with pets, and these include attachment tools like the Pet Hair Eraser, which make fur removal from furniture and blankets much easier. (Hint: You can find these vacuums at Walmart and on Amazon as well!)

When it comes to hardwood or tile floors, “electrostatic or microfiber dry mops” are the best for attracting tricky hair, since both the vacuum and the broom tend to blow the fur around more than to collect it.

Quality Food: Our last tip is to consider what food you are feeding your pet. It is important that your dog’s diet includes Essential Fatty Acids, which maintain a healthy, lubricated skin and coat. If your pet’s skin is dry, it will produce more dander and shed more fur.

Take a look at the ingredients on your food bags and do a quick search on your food brand to find out more about the quality of the fatty acids in your pet’s food. Omega Fatty Acids can also be added to your pet’s diet through daily supplements that taste like treats, or by adding a topical powder or oil to your pet’s dry food dish. A healthy coat will make you and your pet much happier!

Have questions on summer shedding or want to book an amazing grooming session? Send us an email at [email protected] to ease the shedding stress!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 12, 2017 at 2:30 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.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Dogs bark for all kinds of reasons. Barking is one type of communication dogs have between one another and with humans. But everyone can agree that excessive barking will drive you mad.

A study by Ohio State University suggests nearly one third of people surrendering their pets do so because of behavioral issues. Excessive barking is a common behavior problem listed amongst dog owners, but it is not impossible to overcome.

Dogs, puppies especially, learn good (or bad) behaviors by watching the dogs around them. At Bark + Boarding, we understand that excessive barking is one of those make-or-break issues for a lot of dog owners and we help to greatly reduce this problem by providing a consistent and healthy environment for your dog to practice good behavior.

Practice makes perfect! Bringing your dog to daycare starting at an early age not only trains your dog more efficiently on how to behave, but is the best way to ensure that your puppy gets a Green Dog pass during our daycare evaluation service.

Even if your dog already has a longstanding barking problem, don’t fret! There is still hope for your precious pup. Here are the top reasons why doggy daycare might be the solution for your rowdy Rover:

  1. Good Examples: Even older dogs can learn better behavior more quickly by observing other dogs receiving praise and rewards.
  2. Positive Energy Release: At doggy daycare, your dog will be entertained and exercised all day, making for a happily spent dog when you bring him home.
  3. Making Friends: Another common reason for excessive barking is that your dog feels threatened by the presence of other animals and people. Socialization at a daycare center is a great way to overcome aggression issues.
  4. Hanging Out With the Pack: Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety, whether due to past abuse or simply feeling lonely during the day. Even a couple of days a week at daycare could help relieve your dog’s depression or distress.
  5. Consistency: Any type of dog training or re-training relies on all the humans they interact with having consistent behavioral expectations and following through with rebukes. At a daycare your dog will be supervised by knowledgeable staff who have the skills to work with your dog.

Keep in mind, it’s not just barking to keep an eye on. Sometimes your pet may growl, hide, or nip as a way of finding his comfort zone. At Bark + Boarding we pay attention not only to barking but also to general body language (i.e. a tail between the legs).

While other daycares may instantly reject a dog for seemingly aggressive behaviors, we know the difference between threatening behaviors and nervous behavior and give your dog time calm down and get used to the environment.

That way, your pup first gets acclimated and comfortable with our staff and environment and knows it’s a safe place. Then we can conduct our evaluation at their pace to introduce them to their new four-legged friends!

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 30, 2017 at 5:55 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.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Dog training can be time-consuming and frustrating on your own, but it can also be as simple as letting your pet play. At Bark & Boarding, we take pet playtime seriously. Why? Just imagine: You’re finally home after a long day. You open the door to see your cozy living room destroyed. All because your dog just needed playtime.

In a 2014 study, researchers at Bristol University proved that dogs need to play for the sake of both their physical and mental health. Pet playtime and good behavior are directly related.  Our pets retain natural instincts that drive them to chew, chase, catch, and shake. These are all behaviors that a wild dog would need to survive, and our cuddly pets are still Nature’s animals.

Most people expect notoriously active breeds like Boxers or Rat Terriers to need extensive exercise. However, “non-athletic” breeds need it too. Veterinarians agree that all dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

According to dog behavior psychologist, Lizi Angel, just as exercise also benefits mental health in humans, “daily physical activity directly and beneficially affects [a] dog’s brain chemistry,” making your dog less stressed and generally happier.

There are many options that are enjoyable for both you and your dog: taking your dog on brisk walks, hikes, swims, or trips to the dog park are essential for any dog to get regular exercise.

Careful though, as Angel points out, “A dog’s main form of exercise shouldn’t be aimed at tiring the dog out so that it has no energy left to ‘misbehave’; it should primarily be about changing the dog’s mood for the better.”

Play, in general, is mainly about your dog’s mind. The Bristol University study revealed that dogs also need interactive and mentally stimulating games. In fact, they attribute up to 22 common behavioral issues, including anxiety, aggression, pulling on the leash, whining and not coming when called, to dogs who don’t get enough play time.

Games such as fetch, tug-of-war, and practicing tricks are beneficial for stimulating and bonding with your dog. When you’re away from home, try providing your dog with tasty or interactive chew toys both a non-destructive and instinct-satisfying way for your dog to occupy the time.

Bark & Boarding’s dog daycare program creates opportunities for exercise and mentally stimulating play time with humans, toys and other dogs throughout the day so that your dog remains your best friend in the end! Learn more at Barkandboarding.com

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

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