Need a Dog Sitter? Things to Consider…

We went on vacation and…

We left Moose and Francis with a sitter who we found through Rover while we visited the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Cozumel for seven days. We booked our sitter about three months in advance because of how long we would be gone. We wanted an in home sitter because I felt they would be most comfortable in their own home.  The booking process was very easy, and ultimately the dogs were cared for but there are a lot of things I wish I had done differently. Here’s a list of them to help your time away go more smoothly for both your dogs and you!

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Ask Someone You Know

I wish I had someone who I knew well, like a family member or friend to leave my dogs with during our time away. Our vacation was a family one and everyone went, all my friends were also vacationing for the end of summer so there was no one I knew nearby to care for my dogs. Were that not the case, I would have left them with someone I know well! I love my dogs dearly and our sitter felt too professional, it didn’t feel like she loved and snuggled my dogs but rather gave them food, water and walks to keep them alive.

Talk About Your Lifestyle

Landon and I keep a very eco-conscious household, we turn off all the lights in unoccupied rooms and unplug power adapters. We do not buy paper towels (we have many reusable rags), we recycle, keep the blinds pulled shut and doors closed to avoid using air conditioning more than necessary. We have a security camera and periodically checked in on the sitter to see all the lights on, blinds to our patio door wide open, and the patio sliding door sometimes left open! This obviously drove me a little bit crazy because there was nothing I could do in the middle of the ocean but politely ask her not to do that anymore. Make sure you communicate these things with your house/dog sitter in advance!

Have an Emergency Plan Setup

While we didn’t have any emergencies during the time we were away, Francis and Moose both had some tummy issues. We left the sitter with contact information for two of our neighbors in case something happened and she needed help, we also left her with our CareCredit card to use if one of the dogs needed an emergency vet visit. Always have a back up plan for your pups.

Set Out Supplies For Your Sitter

Before we left, we made sure that the dog food, water, leashes, poo bags, bowls, and other tools were made obvious for her. Before we came home, Hurricane Harvey poured rain on Austin and the sitter needed towels to dry the dogs after coming inside from going potty. Why she decided to use our fluffy white towels instead of our navy and dark purple towels is beyond me, they were in the same cabinet together. But that was something I take responsibility for because I didn’t leave them out in an obvious location because I wasn’t expecting rain. So expect the unexpected!

Help Them Get Comfortable

Whether you’re gone one day or one month, help your sitter feel at home. If your sitter is not happy then your dog is probably not happy either! If they are staying in your home, leave clean sheets and pillows on your bed or couch. Clean your bathroom and set out bath towels and wash cloths. We gave our sitter the wifi password, explained how to use the thermostat and the TV remotes. We also asked our sitter what kinds of snacks and drinks she liked so that we could stock our pantry and fridge for her.

Post-Op Entertainment

Today, a coworker expressed how difficult it was to keep his dog, who recently had a major surgery to his leg, entertained. Titus, the dog in question shouldn’t be exercised heavily or even moderately at the moment and instead is going for brief walks as a result of his injury. Now somewhat stir crazy, Titus is destroying things he shouldn’t be, including his toys!

Most of our dogs will undergo some kind of surgery like desexing, a broken bone, removal of a foreign object… More frequently than not your dog’s veterinarian will tell you to take it easy for awhile! Despite this your dog is better in half the time they should be recovering and is ready to get back out into the world. To help you during this time I’ve compiled a list of ways to keep your dog exercised without the physical stress that could injure them.

Puzzles and Brain Games

There are a variety of puzzle games for dogs who are food motivated. Most of these toys can be used with either treats or can be used to give them their regular meals and also aid dogs who eat too quickly.

Puzzle toys from Chewy.com

Puzzle toys from Doctors Foster and Smith

 

Indoor Games

Hide and seek is the most enjoyable game we play with Moose, if your dog has a good ‘Sit’ & ‘Stay’ then this is a great game for you!

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If your dog tends to have a lower energy level inside, basic obedience or trick training could be fun. Working on stay with distance or choosing toys by name, or teaching your dog a useful task like opening a door or putting away their toys can be done without requiring too much physical activity. Click here for Zak George training videos!

 

High Value Treats or Toys

I often find myself needing to preoccupy the dogs without having them running wild through my apartment! So these toys and treats will find use outside of post-op! There are all kinds of toys and treats you can find for your dog to keep them busy, you’ll want to try out a few to figure out what they like best. Here are a few that we love!

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Bones & Chews Slim Beef Gullet Stick

These are super affordable, they take Moose a few minutes to chew up and promote healthy teeth! we save 5% by selecting “Auto Ship” at checkout.

Cotton Bone & Rope Toy

This rope toy with bone held between knots is the favorite toy in our home, Moose actually barked indoors for the first time when Francis took this away from him. We were SHOOK! I purchased a second in an attempt to keep things fair and limit their playtime with so it holds its value.

KONG Classic

We have two of these that my dogs have gotten no where near destroying that we use a few times a week while we clean or leave for an unexpected errand. If I am abruptly unable to take them for walks or to the park, this is a good substitute to help subside some of their built up energy. You can stuff it with homemade ingredients like kibble, peanut butter, pre made treats or yogurt and to make the fun last a little longer you can freeze it.

Starmark Everlasting Treat Toys

When we need durability and high value, Starmark is one of our go to brands. Both Moose and Francis enjoy gnawing on the long lasting treats that can be replaced overtime.

Something I didn’t mention earlier that you can implement now and use long term is toy rotation. Moose and Francis have so many toys, but I often felt like they were bored with everything they had. So I made two separate boxes of toys and every three days switched them out so that everything seemed brand new again. This worked really well for us and they’re often preoccupied with their toys all of the time that they’re not sleeping or we’re not interacting with them.

When You Just Can’t Even With Your Dog

Sometimes you just can’t, as cute as they are, happy, loyal and loving. Be it because you’re sick, or you’re hurting emotionally or mentally; it’s okay and it happens. The good news is that your dog loves you unconditionally and they’re going to forgive you.

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This week, I just feel like I can’t even with Moose and Francis. Nothing has been particularly special about the last couple weeks, but waking up can be hard and my patience is wearing thin. I’m still walking Moose, letting the puppy outside to potty and going to the dog park for an hour in the evening but it feels so much more difficult for seemingly no reason. Despite all this, I really feel like an ungrateful pet parent because we have so much at our disposal to help us care for our dogs. Here’s a list I’ve compiled of the awesome stuff we have available if you’re feeling like you just can’t do it today. Your pup will appreciate their new gadget or service.

 

Rover

rOVER

A dog walking, boarding, overnight sitting services offered nearby via mobile or web app. Dog caregivers are background checked, and you can reviews and get credits for referring your neighbors. We used this for Moose and Francis and paid a reasonable price for 7 days.

 

KONG

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This is still going to require a little bit of work, but it will keep your dog occupied for awhile, especially if they’re food motivated.

 

CleverPet

Cleverpet

This nifty machine plays puzzle games with your dogs and gives a reward, and then uses algorithms to create a more challenging puzzle. It can also be controlled via app to change the game or track progress made.

 

iFetch

 

fetch

This has to be the most ironically named dog toy, you buy it specifically so that you don’t have to fetch! Regardless, it’s a great toy. One I’ve talked about before and is probably the best toy to exercise your dog that I have on this list.

 

Automatic Pet Feeder

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To make sure your pet is kept fed while you’re away, or at home! It can be put on a schedule and dispense a controlled amount of food. It is an app controlled device that

Why Moose Wears Boots

Moose loves to go hiking, when we’re at a local off leash trail he enjoys running through the creek, along the gravel, mud and a variety of terrain. Wearing shoes was never something we considered, on warm and sunny days we always checked the temperature of the pavement and went on walks at dawn or dusk but had otherwise seen no need for shoes.

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We’d probably been on twenty trips to this off leash hike trail with Moose, accompanied by all sorts of other dogs and never had any issues with his paws. On one visit, specifically the one in the photo I noticed red blotches on the rock and Moose started to limp. I had a cloth in my backpack that I dabbed on his feet but could not find the problem paw so we walked carefully back to our car and said goodbye to our friend. I cleaned his paws with some water in the parking lot but still could not locate the wound. A few hours later after a very long bath (he had managed to cover himself in sticker burrs, you can see them in the photo if you look closely), I noticed what looked like scrapped knees on his paw pads while he was lying down to be blow dried. I realized this must be where he was bleeding from, I took a moment to check each paw where I found the same wounds on all four!

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I was devastated and as we settled in for the evening could visibly see he was uncomfortable. I called my vet who explained it was just that, like scrapped knees and to keep them clean and apply antibiotic with some socks to keep him from licking them. We purchased these adorable boots that he wears every time we go exploring to help protect his paws!

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Petco Dog Training: Adult Level 1 & 2

Moose has never been a poorly behaved dog, but before we went through training he definitely needed some improvement. Specifically with leash pulling, distractions and jumping on humans. Anyone who is committed and has access to the internet can do this from home, and avoid dishing out hundreds of dollars on obedience training. I fall into that category but I chose to purchase Petco’s 12 week training plan because it was on sale, I needed to commit to public training sessions and I needed a safe place to do this.

We were able to pick our weekly time slot, and at the end of the training Moose took (and passed!) the Canine Good Citizen test. He was the only dog in his class Tuesdays at 11am with our dedicated trainer for one hour where we worked mostly on extended stays, walking and greeting strangers politely. Moose having already had nearly all his basic obedience out of the way made this not worth the cost, honestly we could have taught everything from home in the same amount of time for much less. If you’re determined to training your dog, and you can commit a certain amount of time per week to training it’s doable with what Youtube has to offer.

Texas Dog Foods

When deciding on a food for Moose, there are a few things that are really important to me and one of those was buying from a local business like our feed store, and buying a food made here in our home state.

I like to spend my money locally, our feed store being only three miles away and carrying great brands made that very easy for us. I chose to buy a food made here in Texas to support local business owners, and the food is as fresh as it gets!

Through my search, here are a few foods I found made here in Texas:

Merrick Pet Care

Merrick

Victor Pet Food

This is what we’re currently feeding Moose, he’s thriving!

Victor dog food

Millies Wolfheart USA

Founded in England, making dog food right here in Austin, Texas!

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Nulo

Another great pet food company based out of Austin, Texas. They offer a patent protected probiotic for your pet.

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Zach’s Quality Dog Food

A brand I had not heard of prior to searching for Moose’s food. Zach’s is made and sold here in Texas at Costco stores.

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