All posts in Puppy Success

06 May 2020

COVID-19: How To Help Your Quarantine Pup Transition To A Regular Schedule

COVID-19: How To Help Your Quarantine Pup Transition To A Regular Schedule

As the COVID-19 pandemic rocks the globe, people are finding themselves quarantined in their homes for months on end. With minimal social contact and many being furloughed from their day jobs, countless people have chosen to adopt a pet including many puppies to be their quarantine companions. In fact, many animal shelters across America have seen empty cages due to the uptick of adoptions since the pandemic began.

The heartening increase in adoptions gives light and hope to what has been a dark situation for many across the country. However, just as shelters urge people to understand that there are always going to be more animals in need going forward, The Pet Gal team hopes to educate new pet owners on how to prioritize at-home training to help dogs and puppies adjust to life post-quarantine.


Quarantine Routines Don’t Accurately Reflect Everyday Life to New Pets

Currently, many newly adopted dogs and puppies find themselves sheltering in place with their forever families. This is a wonderful time for bonding, training, and acclimating to their new environment, however, it can set the tone of a routine that does not accurately reflect what their everyday life will look like once quarantine ends.

As it stands, newly adopted animals are spending nearly every second of the day with their family while their new pet parents work from home or stay sheltered in place. As a result, puppies and dogs will create intense bonds that will inevitably lay the groundwork for severe separation anxiety when quarantine is over. If not properly trained and acclimated to alone time, it will be very difficult for new pets when they are left alone for the first time.


Promote Alone Time Even While Sheltering in Place

To ensure your new puppy or dog does not act out with potty training regression, barking, destructive chewing, or dangerous separation anxiety-induced behavior like self-harm, take the time now to implement routines in which the dog spends some time by itself or with someone else, such as a pet sitter or dog walker, every day.

It is paramount to the pet’s post-quarantine transition that they get used to being alone now. The best way to do this while sheltering in place is to ensure your pet spends a little time away from you every single day. This could mean them taking a nap in a different room, spending some time in a safe, fenced-in yard on their own, or being left in their kennel or playpen alone while you go for a walk. It could also mean hiring a local dog walker to take your pet on a walk every once and while. By acclimating your new puppy or dog to time on their own, they’re less likely to have separation anxiety when life gets back to normal.


At-Home Training Sessions Keep Dogs Engaged

Another step pet parents can take to alleviate post-quarantine pet stress is to do at-home training courses to keep their pets occupied and busy. Dogs, especially puppies, thrive on mentally-stimulating activity and being given “jobs”, which are tasks to do that earn things of value, such as food, treats, pets, and experiences. Dogs who regularly have tricks to learn, toys to play with and jobs to do are less likely to experience separation anxiety in the long run. Plus, there’s the added bonus of behavior and obedience training, which is always valuable!

Tara Stermer, Owner & Head Trainer at K9 Workingmind is offering online training courses via Zoom as well as informative webinars to help pet parents keep their dogs and puppies occupied with enrichment and training. Her online training programs such as basic obedience and her webinars on topics such as separation anxiety, Tara and her team offer pet parents invaluable resources for getting their dogs through quarantine and beyond.


Dog Walking or Pet Sitting During Quarantine Helps Dogs Socialize

Throughout quarantine, pet parents can help their dogs socialize and become used to being without their parents by hiring local pet sitters or dog walkers to spend time with them outdoors. This is especially important for people who will return to work soon and will need the services of a sitter or walker once things get back to normal. Hiring dog walkers or sitters now allows pets to get to know their sitter and also helps support local businesses during these uncertain times.

The Pet Gal has been extremely fortunate to have been able to continue to provide dog walking and pet sitting services to our client base of essential workers throughout Austin during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our sitters follow CDC guidelines by wearing PPE, sanitizing regularly, and limiting human contact. We are more than happy to help newly adopted pets adjust by taking them on walks or having backyard playtime even while pet parents are at home.

Contact The Pet Gal or K9 Workingmind today to help your new member of the family begin their transition to life post-quarantine with professional dog walking, pet sitting, and training services.

article by Pet Gal Kirstie.

10 Jan 2019

Did You Get A Puppy For Christmas? A Simple Guide To Puppy Parenting

Did You Get A Puppy For Christmas? A Simple Guide To Puppy Parenting

Getting a puppy as a gift during the holiday season can be a tremendous moment, especially if you’ve wanted one for a long time. However, becoming a pet parent is a huge commitment and can be an overwhelming experience once the excitement of the holidays has worn off.

In fact, shelter intakes have been shown to increase during the first few months of the new year. According to monthly reports in 2016, there was an average of 14% more owner-surrenders of puppies and dogs during the months of January to March than the rest of the year. In 2017, this number jumped to 22%.

Luckily, there are many things that owners can do to make the first months with their puppy as stress-free as possible. To ensure that life with your new puppy or dog goes smoothly, the key is to set them up for success by following these important steps.


Set Up Your Puppy’s Healthcare

Preventative veterinary care is the number one thing pet parents can do to avoid costly vet visits in the future. After adopting your puppy, arrange for a preliminary vet visit to establish a primary care doctor for your new family member.

The vet will do a check-up to see where your puppy’s health currently stands and go over important healthcare information such as immunization, de-worming, flea and tick prevention, spaying or neutering, heartworm prevention, and nutrition.

Your dog’s vet will also go over important health considerations for puppies, such as when it is safe for them to be around other dogs and what kind of behaviors pet parents should expect. These types of details are especially important for first-time puppy owners.

By setting up veterinary care early on in your dog’s life, you are protecting them from potentially dangerous (not to mention expensive) health conditions that could arise.

Christmas Puppy, Puppy-Proofing

Puppy-Proof Your Home

In the same way, parents must child-proof their homes to protect their young kids from hurting themselves or destroying valuable things, pet owners should prioritize puppy-proofing before bringing a new pet into the house.

Because puppies are in the early stages of their behavioral training, pet parents cannot expect them to stay out of the trash or know the difference between a favorite pair of shoes and a chew toy. Keeping things out of reach from puppies while working on their training is the best way to set them up for success.

Some helpful puppy-proofing steps include:

Put the trash in an inaccessible location and use a can with a secure lid.

Keep personal items such as purses, backpacks, shoes, clothes, toys, etc. up and out of reach of puppies.

Use cord covers or bitter, no-bite spray to keep puppies from chewing on power cords.

Be cautious about the location of food, medicine, and household cleaner storage to make sure puppies never have access to potentially dangerous materials.

Check that your houseplants are not poisonous to dogs. You can refer to the list of pet-toxic plants from the ASPCA.

Some pet parents may find it easier to simply keep puppies contained to the living space until they are older and more well-trained. While keeping doors closed is helpful, there is always the chance that someone in the home forgets to shut a door, so all rooms should be properly pet-proofed regardless. And, of course, your puppy should always have proper supervision to ensure they are safe.


Begin Potty Training

A top struggle for many pet parents is potty training. While accidents are to be expected, proper potty-training techniques can help new pet owners get their dog housetrained more quickly and easily.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are three primary potty training methods for puppies – crate training, paper training, and frequent trips outdoors. There are varying opinions on which method is best and, ultimately, the choice is up to you.

Crate training involves stimulating a dog’s instinctual nature as a den animal by making a crate their main resting space. Dogs will typically not go to the bathroom where they sleep and eat, so by utilizing a crate, pet parents gain a bit more control over where and when their puppy potties.

Paper training refers to teaching the puppy to go on potty pads in addition to outside. This method can be confusing for dogs as it gives them permission to potty indoors, but it is a helpful tool for people who work long hours or live in places with especially harsh winters.

The method of frequent trips outside is a top choice for many pet parents and can be used in conjunction with crate and/or paper training. The more a puppy is outside, the more likely they are to potty outdoors. When this happens, a ton of positive praise and training treats can be given to reinforce the habit of going to the bathroom outside.

Regardless of which method you choose to use, puppies should be on a schedule when it comes to feeding, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. Puppies should be taken out after they eat a meal after they wake up from a nap, and after they finish play time. Having a consistent schedule regarding their time spent outdoors will help encourage them to go potty when and where they’re supposed to.
The keys to potty training are to have patience, be diligent, and utilize positive reinforcement.

Christmas Puppy Training

Begin Behavioral Training

When your puppy is small and oh-so-adorable, the temptation to let them do whatever they want can be strong. However, it’s important to remember that puppies do not stay small forever and behaviors such as jumping, nipping, pulling on the leash, and chewing become more troublesome when your small puppy grows into a large dog. Begin training as early as possible to make life with your dog happier and easier.

The Pet Gal’s preferred training method is positive reinforcement. From learning basic commands such as “sit” or “stay” to learning not to chew on household items, positive reinforcement training is extremely effective.

Dogs are people pleasers who are eager for positive reactions from their owners. In positive reinforcement training, owners reward their dog for doing things correctly and as a result cultivate the behavior they want.

As with potty training, behavioral training requires dedication, consistency, and patience. Everyone in the home should be on the same page when it comes to training. All who interact with your puppy should use consistent commands and have the same standard of behavior to avoid confusing your little one.

Behavioral training classes, whether in a group environment or working one-on-one with a trainer, can be very helpful in training you how to train your dog. The Pet Gal often partners with Tara Stermer at K9 Workingmind to educate our pet sitters on dog and cat behavior as well as best practices for training. Tara offers group and individual training options that can be extremely helpful.

Christmas Puppy Socialization

Ensure Your Puppy Gets Plenty of Attention, Socialization, Play, & Exercise

Adopting a puppy is a big commitment – one that requires a lot of time and effort. But it should also be an exciting and fun time for the whole family. One of the best things new pet parents can do for their puppies is to spend as much time with them as possible.

Taking your new dog for walks, making time for play sessions, and allowing it ample opportunity to socialize with other dogs and humans will positively impact the puppy’s behavior.

Since socialization, exercise, and consistency with training are so key, parents should consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to step in at times when being with their pet isn’t an option. Whether you work during the day or are traveling, The Pet Gal’s team of experienced, trained sitters can ensure that your puppy stays on schedule, has fun, and learns positive behaviors while you’re away.

Christmas Puppy Owner Surrender

What To Do If Things Are Not Working Out

If for some reason you and your family are hitting roadblocks with your new dog or puppy that are making you reconsider your decision to adopt, contact others for support. Reach out to friends or family members for help. Contact veterinary offices, trainers, rescues, and shelters in your community. All are good resources for advice and most will always be happy to provide alternatives to rehoming, such as training and behavioral resources, low-cost healthcare options, support, and more.

The Pet Gal has aided many in puppy parents make the transition to keeping a happy puppy by offering puppy pet sitting and walking visits. Our sitters follow the same instructions given by your behavioralist so that we reinforce everything your puppy is learning while you are away. We can provide daily visits so your puppy is not left home alone for too long or help out if you need to leave town for a few days.

If the moment comes where you decide that giving the puppy up is the best option, be sure to surrender them to a reputable, no-kill shelter or rescue group. Luckily for Austin residents, the city has been no-kill since 2010, making it the largest no-kill city in the United States.

Organizations like the Austin Animal Center, Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, and Hawaii Island Humane Society serve as shelters for lost or stray animals and owner-surrendered pets. All these groups are committed to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming pets regardless of age, breed, or health status.

While, of course, the preference is for you to have a long, happy relationship with your puppy, these organizations are great options.

article by Pet Gal Kirstie and infographics by Pet Guy Dan.

20 Feb 2018

Top Industry Secrets That Set Your Puppy Up For Success

Top Secrets To Set Your Puppy Up For Success

Bringing a new puppy into the home is a time of joy, love, and excitement. It is also a foundational period during which the basis of a dog’s behavior, health, and relationship with its owner is established. To ensure the best for your little one, there are a few key do’s and don’ts when it comes to becoming a new pet parent.

secrets to puppy success

PUPPY DO’S

Spend Time With Your Puppy

The transition from litter to a new home can be a stressful time for young dogs. In addition to getting to know their new family, they are acclimating to entirely new surroundings and dealing with the separation from their littermates and mother.

Spend as much time as possible with your fur baby in the first week or two at home to help set a solid foundation for them. Setting up their space in the home, creating a reliable routine, and enjoying quality bonding time together are all helpful practices. The best part of scheduling extra time with your puppy? Ample cuddles and playtime!

Visit Your Vet

Most puppies are sent home to their new families when they reach 6 to 8 weeks of age. They are extremely susceptible to diseases at this time, as they have been weaned and the antibodies provided by their mother’s milk begins to wear off. It is best to schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible to ensure they receive necessary vaccinations. If your pet was weaned too early or was found without a mother, it is even more important that a vet be an active part of your puppy’s early life, as they could already be infected with harmful diseases.

It is also important for the vet to assess their overall health. If there are any chronic health problems present, it is ideal for pet parents to be made aware as early as possible.

Veterinary care is an integral part of a dog’s life. Setting up a good relationship between your puppy and their primary care vet will mean a long, happy life for you to spend together.

Begin Training Day 1

We all want a well-trained and well-behaved dog. The earlier training begins, the easier it will be to ensure your puppy grows up to be just that. For your puppy’s well-being – and your sanity – it is important to begin training immediately and consistently.

The Pet Gal believes in 100% positive reinforcement based training. We don’t support the use of balance training, or alternative collars such as shock, choke, or bark collars. With our professional experience, we know that positive reinforcement training is the best choice for all dogs, as it provides a positive incentive for good behavior and is a stress-free process which solidifies the bond between puppies and their humans.

Provide Structure

Set your puppy up for success by providing structure in their training and their schedule. Puppies learn best by routine. By establishing continuity with a schedule that is repeated each day they are better able to master things like potty training and good behavior.

One of the most important rules of thumb in maintaining structure in training is to make sure all members of the household know the training commands you’ve chosen. If the puppy’s command to stop jumping is, “OFF” then everyone who interacts with your puppy needs to be consistent with that term to prevent confusion.

The Pet Gal understands it can be hard to provide consistency in potty breaks, feeding, and training when you have a full-time job or other commitments. Our pet sitters are happy to help keep your puppy’s schedule on track with our in-home pet sitting services. For a typical work day, we recommend two 15-min pet sits – one visit mid-morning and the other during the afternoon to start. As your puppy grows more active, we suggest longer visits. We know the importance of structure, so our sitters communicate actively with you to ensure all your puppy’s training cues, feeding schedules, and daily routines are reinforced while you’re away.

Give Your Puppy Lots Of Love And Have Fun!

Creating a relationship with your new puppy is the best part of the process. Be sure to stay present and in the moment with your fur baby, because puppyhood doesn’t last long. While it can be stressful at times, be sure to savor the moments of sweet cuddles, affection, and playtime. Give lots of hugs and kisses, take plenty of photos, and give your puppy all the love it deserves.

puppy success secrets

PUPPY DON’TS

Invite Too Many Guests Over

While it’s understandable to want your new puppy to meet all your friends and family, overstimulation can cause anxiety, upset routine, and interfere with training. Loud noises, crowds of people, and confusing training commands can make it difficult for your puppy to acclimate to its new home. In the beginning, introduce your puppy to new people in small doses and be sure that visitors know your training cues.

Punish Your Puppy

While the trials and tribulations of puppyhood can certainly test your patience, punishment is never the answer. Not only are punishments – spanking, yelling, hitting, rubbing a dog’s nose in their accidents, etc. – ineffective, they also generate distrust between owner and puppy.

A puppy needs to know that you are their safe place, their protector, and their family – someone they can trust in all situations. Positive reinforcement training solidifies this bond and is more effective in producing good habits.

Socailize Too Soon

While socialization with other dogs is an important part of the training process, ask your vet when they think the appropriate time for your puppy to begin interacting with other dogs is. Often this depends on the puppy’s age, health, and temperament. Your pet’s vaccination status is a deciding factor on when they can visit places such as dog parks, kennels, and pet stores. Once your puppy is approved for socialization, be sure all first-time interactions with other dogs is done gradually in controlled environments.

Travel Right Away

Schedule, structure, and security are paramount during the first months of a puppy’s acclimation to a new home. Leaving a puppy during this time can cause unease, stress, and throw a wrench in all the hard work you’ve put into training.

If you must leave during this time, the Pet Gal offers a variety of pet sitting services including visits ranging from 15 minutes to an hour, overnight stays, and in-home boarding to provide you with more flexibility during your puppy’s first few months.

Forget To Cherish Every Minute

With that sweet puppy breath and adorable eyes, it can be easy to forget that your tiny bundle of love will soon grow up into a full-sized dog. Allowing a golden retriever puppy to sit on you when it is lap-sized is one thing, but what about when it grows to be 60+ pounds? Chewing on things, pulling on the leash, and jumping on people are all behaviors that seem negligible – even cute – when a tiny pup does them. But before you accept it as commonplace, ask yourself if this is a behavior you want an adult dog doing. It is always easier to train a puppy with fresh behaviors than to train an older dog out of ingrained habits.

Pet Gal Kirstie.