Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Services: Group Walk & Training Walk

As of today, West Asheville Dog Walking & Pet Sitting is officially serving biking distance clients only!

Refining my service area to include only dogs and cats within biking distance of Haywood Road allows me to be much more efficient: in terms of both time and fossil fuel consumption.

This newly refined service area also frees up my schedule enough to offer these two new services: A small group walk and a training walk.

Both the group walk and training walk require a commitment of at least three walks per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) on a month-to-month basis. Please send an email, leave a comment, or call 828.989.8517 for more information about either of these special walks.

The group walk is ideal for dogs and puppies who could use a bit of socialization with other dogs in a controlled, supervised environment. This walk is also a bit more cost-effective than the individual, private dog walks. Group walks will be capped at four dogs per group, and the walk ranges from 30 minutes to one hour, depending on when your dog gets picked up.

The training walk is well-suited for busy dog owners who don't have the time for intensive training sessions with their dog, but would like to address minor behavioral issues such as: destructive chewing, hyperactivity, leash manners and various other common doggie problems. I work with your dog during the day while you're at work, then check in with you as needed (once every couple of weeks, for example) to teach you the skills needed to maintain your dog's new-found good manners. Just get in touch to see if your dog would a good candidate for this walk. If I don't feel qualified to address your dog's behavioral issues, I'll happily put you refer you to another well-qualified trainer in the area.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Breakfast!


Rosie's breakfast today:

-Honest Kitchen Verve (an awesome, human-grade, gluten-free, dehydrated raw dog food made with hormone-free USDA beef and organic rye)

-2 fish oil capsules (for her sensitive skin that gets itchy toward the end of summer)

-a whole raw egg (shell and all) from my wonderful client's chickens just down the street

-a chunk of raw, organic beef liver, provided by my dear friend Kristi King, maker of Green Earth Pet Food

Yum!

Got questions about feeding your pet a raw or more species-appropriate diet?

Ask away! There's not much I'd rather talk about.

PS: Rosie is my 70 pound lab/hound mix.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happier You, Happier Dog: Loose Leash Walking



I remember when I first adopted my lab, Rosie, I looked into basic obedience classes. As a professional dog walker, of course I needed a well-trained dog! I remember chuckling at the use of the term "loose leash walking". Little bit of a tongue twister, huh? Especially when all the other skills you learn in basic obedience are generally one word commands like "sit", "down", "stay" or "come."

Loose leash walking is different than "heel" in that you don't necessarily need your dog to walk by your side all the time, you just need him not to pull your arm off. Teaching this behavior can be much easier said than done, especially if your dog has been rewarded by years of pulling and getting where he wants to go. Luckily, I was able to start training Rosie to walk on a loose leash from the day I got her. She does occasionally pull a little bit more if we see a squirrel or, heaven forbid, a rabbit, but for the most part the leash & my joints are relaxed when we walk.

I am including a link to a Dog Spelled Forward post by Eric Goebelbecker that outlines seven things you can do to train your dog to walk on a loose leash, instead of pulling your arm out of the socket.

Believe me, if you have a large dog who already pulls on leash, training her not to pull will be very frustrating at first. Don't expect to get much walking done in the first few training sessions, especially if you are trying Eric's first tip: "If you feel tension in the leash, stop walking."

For some dogs that are used to being rewarded by pulling, there will always be tension in the leash. In this case, I encourage you to drink an energy drink & try Tips #5 and #6 outlined by Eric: "Speed Up" and "Take a Tired Dog."

Eric Goebelbecker of Dog Spelled Forward has a number of other useful training articles and videos on his website. Too bad he's located up in New Jersey!

Loose leash walking and a good, solid "sit" are two of the most important behaviors I would recommend teaching your pup. Walking your dog is infinitely more pleasant if your dog is not trying to pull your arm off. Loose leash walking makes walking your dog a more positive experience for you, thus you are likely to walk Fido more often. Everybody wins.

Have questions about teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash? Send me an email (karen@avlpetsitter.com) or leave a comment!

PS: Follow Eric Goebelbecker & Dog Spelled Forward on Twitter for more great, practical dog training info.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

LOLcatMaker Free iPhone App



Oh, my dearly beloved clients:

Brace yourselves for an onslaught of LOLcats featuring your very own wonderful pets sent directly to your email address and/or smartphone. As a self-proclaimed pet, iPhone and LOLcats lover, this free LOLcatMaker iPhone app has officially just made my day. I have just downloaded the free app, and cannot wait to send you your own personalized LOLcats greetings to brighten your day!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Time for a Vacation!

I've already informed many of you of my vacation plans for this summer, but I just wanted to make sure that all of my clients & would-be clients are aware that I will be unavailable to provide pet care services during the following dates: over Memorial Day weekend (Saturday, May 29-Monday, May 31) and another long weekend mid-June, from Friday, June 18th through Monday, June 21st.

If you need pet care during those times, please contact me directly for a referral to another qualified pet sitter or visit www.ashevilleareapetsitters.com.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stamps to the Rescue


This Friday, April 30th marks the launch of a remarkable "Stamps to the Rescue Campaign" which aims to draw attention to the plight of shelter & rescue animals across the country. According to the campaign website, nearly half of the animals that enter shelters are euthanized.

The United States Postal Service has partnered up with Ellen DeGeneres and Halo (makers of a fine pet food sold here in Asheville at EarthFare) to launch this series of "Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet" postage stamps. In addition to being able to order the stamps online, the campaign website features an Adoption 101 center, with an awesome "Do You Have What It Takes to Adopt A Pet" meter, some basic facts on adopting a shelter or rescue pet, and an online search of adoptable pets near you via petfinder.com

I just used up my last postage stamp yesterday, so I'll be heading to the Post Office on Friday to stock up on some of these adorable stamps.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

3 Easy Tips for Dealing with your Pet's Allergies & Itchy Skin

Well, spring is here and the flowers & allergies are in full bloom, affecting people and their pets.

Does your dog suffer from itchy skin or allergies?

If so, here are 3 things you can do to ease your pet's suffering:

1)Supplement with Fish Oil

Fish Oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it one of the top recommended supplements for itchy skin relief.

2)Cut out unnecessary fillers like corn, wheat & soy.


Corn, wheat and soy are often found in most of the commercial pet foods available at the supermarket. If your pet itches and you're not sure why, try eliminating these three common allergens to see if you notice any improvement.

Many of the premium pet foods sold at places like Asheville Pet Supply and Pet Supplies "Plus" do not contain corn, wheat or soy. Some of my favorite brands include Wellness, Innova, EVO, Canine Caviar, Nature's Variety, and Orijen. If you're shopping at Ingles, Lassie is one of the better brands sold there.

Above all, learn to read those ingredient labels & keep an eye on your pet to see what foods seem to work better or worse for him. Dr. Christina Chambreau, DVM makes a great journal for tracking your pet's symptoms.

3)Work toward a more natural, species-appropriate diet.


I personally feed my dog a prey model diet of 80% raw muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone (turkey necks, bone-in chicken breast, cornish hens, chicken quarters), and 10% raw organ meat (beef liver, beef kidney, chicken liver). If you're interested in learning more about feeding a raw, species appropriate diet, I'd encourage you to read any of the books mentioned in my Recommended Reading post or check out the blog DoggyBytes, which is packed with information on pet nutrition. Also, please feel free to contact me directly if you're interested in feeding your pet a natural diet. There's not much more in life that I'd rather talk about!

A quick precautionary note about feeding bones: Please do not ever feed cooked bones or weight-bearing bones of larger animals, such as beef knuckle bones.


There are also a number of wonderful, natural commercial diets available for pets. Two of my personal favorites are locally made Green Earth Pet Food (available at West Asheville EarthFare, Greenlife, Pet Harmony, West Village Market on Haywood, and MoonDoggies out in Candler) and Honest Kitchen.





*****Please note that I am not a vet nor do I receive any compensation from any of the companies or products mentioned, with the exception of Honest Kitchen, which I am now offering for sale in my online store. In the interest of full disclosure, the owner & maker of Green Earth Pet Food has become a dear friend of mine after months of bonding & chatting about our mutual passion for raw food & holistic care for pets, and I did work as a demo rep for Wellness Pet Food for a few months. That said, I only formed these relationships with these companies because I love their products.*****