Category Archives: pet sitting

What Does a Pet Sitter Do? Should You Hire One?


By Julia Williams

If you have pets, then you know that when vacation time rolls around you can’t simply throw some clothes in a suitcase and take off. Some important questions need to be answered before you go. Can you take your dog with you, and do you want to? If not, then your duty as a responsible pet owner is to ensure that your faithful companion is well cared for in your absence. Due to the nature of most cats, taking them along on a trip is rarely (if ever) a good idea. So then, what do you do with your dog or cat while you’re gone? Although a number of options exist (kennels, the vets, breeders, a friend’s house) I believe the best choice is to hire a professional pet sitter to care for them in your home.

Hiring a professional pet sitter offers many benefits to your pet, and to you as well. Your pet is able to remain in the comfort and security of their own home, and can stay on their regular diet and daily routine as much as possible. Most animals find this much less stressful than being taken off-site to an unfamiliar place. Besides providing food and water for your animals, a pet sitter spends quality time with them, provides exercise opportunities, and focused one-on-one care. This personalized attention means that a pet sitter can spot illnesses or changes in behavior and diet which might require a vet visit.

The primary benefit for you in hiring a pet sitter, is peace of mind. You will have a carefree, fun vacation (or a productive business trip) knowing that your pet is being properly cared for. As an added bonus, many pet sitters offer additional services like collecting your mail and newspapers, watering plants, and turning the lights on and off so burglars don’t know you’re away.

How to locate a pet sitter

Because they will have a key to your home, it’s not advisable to hire a pet sitter from a yellow page ad alone. The best option is to get a recommendation from a friend, your vet, dog trainer, the local shelter, or trusted kennel. Barring that, you can contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (800-296-PETS) or Pet Sitters International (336-983-9222) for listings in your area. Both of these organizations also maintain websites which offer a wealth of resources and information on pet sitting and pet care.

Questions to ask a potential pet sitter

Before entrusting anyone with the care of your beloved companion, it’s imperative to find out what their qualifications are, and what services they offer. Prior to inviting them into your home to meet your pet, conduct a brief phone interview. Ask about their background and experience, what they charge and how long their visits are. Are they certified in pet first aid and CPR? Do they have any veterinary training? Can they supply written proof of commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and are they bonded (to protect against theft)? Can they provide references from at least three satisfied clients? Does the pet sitter have a backup plan? In other words, what would happen if they were to become ill, have car trouble or be unable to care for your pet as agreed?

The next step in hiring a pet sitter is to call their references and ask about their experience with them. If all went well for these clients, then it’s time to invite the potential pet sitter over to meet your dog or cat. In my next post, I’ll give you specific information on how to conduct an in-home interview with a potential pet sitter. I’ll also cover important pre-trip preparations and how to leave detailed instructions for the pet sitter.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Fostering Animals – Jake

As I mentioned yesterday, my husband and I fostered two pups a few months ago. They were only about 3 days old when we got them, so it meant a lot of feeding (every two hours), a lot of cleaning (they grow up fast and learn to chew everything), and a lot of training (because you have to teach them how to live in a pack).
While it was a lot of work, I wouldn’t change a thing and I’ll do it again in a second. I christened the pups, Jake and Jasper, and I only named them after they were 6-weeks old. Why? Because I was not completely confident in my ability to successfully raise an animal (it’s been awhile) and both pups had a lot of problems. 
First off, their mom had stopped caring for them.  Someone had dropped the mom and her litter off at the rabies/animal control facility’s door only a few hours after they were born. Momma didn’t stand much of a chance. When we saw her, she had already given up on life and her stress and depression had cost three of the pups in this litter their lives. Not from abuse, mind you – simply from neglect. So when we picked Jake and Jasper, they were only 3 days old, had already lost 3 siblings and were hungry, dirty and hypothermic. Luckily, all three problems were remedied immediately and you can read about our saga.
I want to talk about what happened after their successful recovery. 
Jasper, as I mentioned before, is now living in a beautiful home with a very loving family. Jake, has not yet been that fortunate. 
Jake, the Chow / Shar Pei mix, still resides at the rescue, but it’s not a hard life. He’s living with lots of friends on a large ranch in cool weather and is given a great deal of attention as he waits for his forever home.   Although he has yet to find a home, I know that he will soon. He’s too great of a dog not to be adopted by a loving family. 
Jake had a lot of things to overcome in his first few weeks of life, including pneumonia and entropy.  The important thing is that he overcame them. He’s a beautiful dog and if you’re looking for a puppy with lots of love to give, Jake may just be the one for you.
I hope you’ll visit Circle L Ranch at PetFinders and see for yourself. He’s a calm pup with lots of patience; he’s built like a linebacker, is smart as a whip, and loves kids and other animals. He won’t even shed much! What else could you ask for in a dog? 
And if you’re not ready for a new addition to a family, why not try fostering? It’s a short-term fix for the puppy withdrawal we all go through and you get the satisfaction of saving a life.  
Besides, they need you… 
Find an adoptable pet in your area at petfinder.com!
Stacy Mantle

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Fostering Animals – Jasper

There’s something to be said for fostering pets….
Let me share my own foster experience with you – and bear in mind – I’m the most neurotic, over-protective animal person in the world. Seriously. If you knew me, you would understand that I’m not exaggerating here. I also “keep” everything – from worn out shoes to stray kittens. 
So I really believed that fostering was not for me. I thought that I would have problems giving up two beautiful puppies that I bottle-fed every two hours for 3 weeks and later potty-trained and taught tricks too. 
Turns out, I was wrong. 
Oh – I’m not saying it wasn’t difficult, because it was. But, I was working with a strong, reputable rescue that I trusted and I knew that it would be unfair to keep the pups when I already had three large dogs (and 18 cats) of my own. So when I was ready, I released them for adoption. 
I just got an email from the adoptive parents of Jasper and I couldn’t be more proud. His new family has glowing recommendations about him, he’s got his own toys, his own bed, his own bowls and even his own cat! (Okay, maybe not his own cat, but the cat is still a playmate.)
He’s become a traveler. He’s been to the Grand Canyon, North Carolina (cross country trip, even) and has seen the snow. These are all things that I never would have been able to give him because let’s face it, loading three hundred-plus pounds of dog in your car and controlling them while you’re driving is not for the feint of heart. 
And that is Jasper’s story. Am I happy that I rescued the little guy? You bet. Was it worth the time and energy I put in to save a “mutt”? Just ask his new owners. I think they will agree that he’s one of the best things that’s happened to them… 
Fostering is not easy, but boy – when it works out like this has, it’s sure worth it… 
I want to encourage our readers to foster a puppy or kitten (or an adult dog or cat who has fallen on hard times) today.  Yes, I know you get attached. Yes, I know it’s hard to let them go. But trust me, when you hear about the outcomes that go along with fostering, it’s well worth the effort.  Tomorrow we’ll talk about Jake who had a very different outcome but is just as great of a story!
Contact your local animal control or rescue association and find out how you can help an animal.
Find an adoptable pet in your area at petfinder.com!
Stacy Mantle

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Fostering Animals 101

Let’s face it. The economy has wrought devastation and destruction on many, and pets are often the causalities of economic war. Many people don’t think of animals the same way that we do, and pets are often discarded, abandoned or turned in to rescues. Occasionally, it’s just necessary for the safety and health of the animal. 
And this is where we must, as a society, do our part in the world. Fostering is one way that we can save a life. 
In November, my husband and I fostered two puppies who were only three days old. We plan to do a lot more fostering as this was so enjoyable. So, for the next few days, we’re going to regale you with tales of how to foster, what our experience was, and how it all turned out. 
The Down and Dirty
The first thing about puppies is that they sleep, eat and poop. In that order. In fact, that’s all they do. They are like human infants, but their eyes and ears are sealed. At the age of 5 days, they operate solely on touch and smell.
Feeding
These two are each eating about 0.50 – 1 oz of Esbilac fluid every 2 hrs or so. This works well for me, because it’s hard to get me away from the computer that often. If I hear a puppy crying, it forces me to get up and attend to them. Good for me, good for the pups. As they mature, we recommend a well-balanced diet of CANIDAE food – you won’t need to switch them out later in life and it’s a very high-quality food. 
Tricks We’ve Learned
Don’t spend money on the bottles you get at pet stores, as they are largely inefficient. We are using a Playtex Ventaire, which is perfect for the pups. The bottle vents excess air itself, is curved and has a larger nipple for easy puppy suckling. (Wow… Never thought I would be talking about nursing anything… I’m just VERY happy that it deals with puppies and not humans. :)
Heating
Heat is very important to these little ones. Right now, we have them in an enclosed room with no drafts, away from the other pack members (despite our pack’s affinity for new arrivals, we opted for isolation for safety reasons). We use an electric blanket on low placed on the floor, the small crate they are kept in are kept on that, and if they still get chilly, we add a magnetic heat pack under the box towels they sleep on. This way, they can decide where they want to be. They can crawl pretty well….
The “Messy” Side
Since they can’t even defecate on this on their own, we have to use a warm, wet cotton ball of paper towel to “copy” the mother’s licking/cleaning response. This is the bad part of the event. Puppy poop is sort of disgusting… I would get into other poops, but you know… Do it twice, before and after feeding, in order to cover your bases.
Toys
Although these guys are too little to play, we learned a lesson from the numerous squeaky toys that we bring in for our other pets. They’ve learned that if it squeaks, it’s a toy. Not a great lesson for your pets if you’re trying to foster… We’re working on establishing the difference between live pups and chew toys with Cheiss right now.
Please consider taking in some fosters of your own. Tomorrow we’ll discuss some of the success stories of foster!
Find an adoptable pet in your area at petfinder.com!
Stacy Mantle

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Doggie Day Care PET’iquette

So you’re thinking about alternatives for your very dominant miniature pinscher, or your high-strung Jack Russell, or your laid back (easily dominated) Golden Retriever. Doggie daycare is an excellent way for your pet to beat boredom, eliminate destructive behavior, and get exercise at the same time. But, before you sign up, there are a few things you need to know.
Daycares Don’t Train
That’s not to say they can’t train, but that’s not the point of daycare. Daycare is designed to be a social outlet for our highly social pets and give them an opportunity to burn off some energy. Ensure that your dog responds to their name, knows basic commands, and “plays well with others.”
The Lone Wolf
If you have a dog that prefers to be the lone wolf, don’t torture him (and everyone else) by subjecting him to a pack he doesn’t want or need. Doggie daycare is designed to simulate a pack scenario and there are dogs (like mine) that just prefer to be alone. Yes, this means more daily walks for you, but hey – if you’re like me, the extra exercise will do you some good.
PERSONalities
Find out how the daycare is organized. There should be separate play areas for different personalities. An ideal pack consists of one ‘commander’ (remember that ONLY the HUMAN should be the Alpha), a second in command, and an assortment of other roles that members play. That’s not to say that all packs will be like this, but dogs should be carefully evaluated and their “role in the pack” established before they are turned loose. Two or more dominants in the same pack spells trouble.
As for you, let the sitters do their job. If your dog is being dominated in the corner for the first 10 minutes, let the handlers handle it. Jumping in to your pets rescue is like breaking up a fight between two men. If the handler is responsible (and it’s your job to ensure that they are), let them determine when enough is enough. Posturing is common in a pack situation – it’s a way of establishing roles, so don’t interfere because you’re overprotective.
Signals
Before you drop your dog off at a daycare, be sure he understands the rules of the pack. If your pet doesn’t get that annoying the big Shepherd in the corner is not a good idea, do yourself a favor and get your dog out of that pack. Dogs will “train” other dogs to a point, but if you happen to have one of those pups that are just oblivious to the signals they’re annoying others, you might want to reconsider daycare and just start walking your pet more often.
photo credit: Copyright PetsWeekly, 2005
Stacy Mantle

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Dog Park PET’iquette

In the event you missed it, dog parks are growing in popularity. As the recent housing crisis pushes many into smaller homes or apartments, it’s important to ensure that your pets get plenty of exercise. So, for those who are new to the experience, how can you get the most from your daily visits? Here are a few initial tips for you. 
Visit the Dog Park Without Your Dog
Every dog park has it’s own flow and personality, developed largely by those who have been showing up twice a day for the last year. Before you bring your laid-back but very scary looking large breed down for a day of play, be sure you understand the ebb and flow of the park. If you don’t see a larger-breed of dog there, talk to the caretakers and ask their feelings on the subject. This is a great opportunity for educating others on the benefits of allowing their smaller-breed dogs to interact with a larger breed.  Get a feel for the environment and the pack. If you want to play in the pack, you have to make sure it’s a good pack for you. 
Abide by the Rules
Every dog park has different rules (for humans and canines). Familiarize yourself with these rules and follow them. No one likes a person who shows up with a dog off-leash, or showing up without plastic bags to clean up after their pets. If your pet exhibits bad behavior, correct it. Don’t ignore it. 
Never Leave Your Pet
That should go without saying, but unfortunately, some people think that a dog park is their answer to “pup-sitting”. Never leave your pet unattended, not even to use the restroom. A lot can happen in four minutes and whether it’s your dog or another causing an issue, you had better be around to remedy the situation. 
Don’t Be Annoying with Treats
Really, you shouldn’t feed your own at a park either. You never know when another dog will become food-aggressive, or just plain jealous. This includes treats and snacks. Dogs can experience a lot of emotion (and related bad manners) when it comes to food.  Training should have already been done at home, and if you’re there to reinforce the training, go ahead and give Fido a quick treat, but do it quickly and without a big deal.
Be Sociable, Don’t be an Expert
Yes. We understand that you know more about the global history of your Chihuahua than anyone else in the world. We don’t necessarily want to hear it. Sure, you can brag about your dog, as long as you give us equal brag time.  You can be an expert if someone asks, but don’t bring it up if up if we’re talking about our day at work. 
Know When to Leave
When your dog starts showing aggression against someone or another dog, it’s time to walk away. If you sense an argument festering in the fenced area, it’s time to leave. Every animal, like every human, has their own tolerance level and it varies daily. Don’t fall victim to the desire to wear your pup out at the cost of being exiled.
Additional Resources
photo credit: Copyright PetsWeekly, 2005
Stacy Mantle

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.