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dog walker king west

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Meet Mackenzie!

Mackenzie joined the OMD team a few weeks ago, and I couldn't be happier. I had bumped into her in the parks many times over the past year, and was always impressed with her skills as a dog walker. She's gentle, loving and patient. Not to mention very safety conscious. Mackenzie joins OMD in search of new challenges and experiences. She has an active interest in positive reinforcement training, somehthing I intend to nurture and encourage in every way possible.

What else can I say about this sweet, vegan, animal-lovin' girl? She's also an awesome photographer! Follow along with her OMD adventures at @123woof on Instagram.

MCinHP

 

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The Trouble with Kijiji (no graphic images here)

If you're here reading this, it's likely because you really love dogs. As much as you love them though, I know you sometimes get tired of hearing about certain issues faced by dogs. Probably because it's depressing. Believe me, I understand. But if you could make even a tiny dent in the online sales of puppy mill dogs, and if everyone did their small share, we could make a huge difference. Considering everything dogs do for us, it's the least we can do for them. Kijiji, an online classified website, has been facilitating the sale of dogs on their website for years, and since the beginning, we've been asking them to stop. These puppy mill operators and back yard breeders pose on Kijiji as legitimate breeders, or families giving up a beloved pet for one reason or another, even as charitable rescues. The response from a few great rescue organizations has been to "join 'em" and start listing on Kijiji as well. The hope is that someone will save a life rather than create space in a puppy mill for another dog. So please rest assured there are some great rescues listed on Kijiji. BUT they'll all be happy to see an end to dogs and puppies being listed on Kijiji.

The evils that operate puppy mills see one thing when they look at a dog, even one that is ill and suffering, and that's a dollar sign. Your mission is not only to educate, but also to sign the petition to convince Kijiji to stop allowing the sale of dogs, and to tell your story here if you have one. This issue is picking up steam so let's all run with it! Go save a life.

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Canine Body Language - it's a real thing

When you spend a lot of time with many different dogs, reading body language becomes instinctive. Before a dog trainer friend officially educated me on the topic seven years ago, I thought I was some sort of psychic: “I just knew that fight was going to happen.” But of course dogs communicate with each other and us though body language. How else are they going to do it? Remember that video of Cesar Millan taunting Holly, the food aggressive Labrador? After she bites him he says, “I didn’t see that coming.” That line reverberated around the dog world. How could a man who is surrounded by dogs all of the time, not have seen that coming? The rest of us certainly did.

Knowing how to read your dog is fairly simple and by doing so, you can save them a lot stress, prevent fights and bites, and create a feeling of safety for them. And better communication with your dog only leads to a better relationship.

Great reading material and visual aids:

Canine Body Language in the Dog Park

Stress Signals

Calming Signals

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Prevent Door Darting

One of the questions on my new-client questionnaire is "Does your dog attempt to dart though an open door?" I’m always careful when entering a client's home, but if the answer to that question is "yes," then careful doesn't cut it. I need to be vigilant. It’s stressful; especially since the same dogs usually try to do the same thing when the door to the Element opens. This is the first thing I teach every single new dog - they must wait until I tell them it's ok to jump out. Otherwise they would be jumping out at every new pick up and drop off spot. But what happens when it's not me or the client coming through the front door, but rather a cleaning service or a contractor? Their job isn't to mind the dog. I arrived at client's home one day, a couple of years ago and the contractor told me the dog ran out as soon as he arrived, and that he had to chase him 3 blocks to the park. This story ended "well," but they don't all, sadly.

So, read this article by Pat Miller in the Whole Dog Journal, follow the protocol and keep your dog safe.

 

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When Not to let your Wiener Dog be a "Dog"

Every dachshund owner knows their dog is prone to spinal problems. We also know that we can help prevent back issues by not allowing them to jump off furniture or engage in heavy play with larger dogs. I don't have a lot to say on this subject other than get pet insurance for your winer dog and please don't let them jump off the furniture. If you must allow furniture access, build or buy doggie steps. Yes, they look awful, but so does this.

Below is my gal, Millie. She likes to sleep to tightly curled up that her tail wraps over her nose and the tip of it touches between her eyes. You can see her back is shaved; this is about 2 weeks post-op and that's as tight as she could curl up. It took her a long long time to regain that flexibility, among other things. 

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Pet Food Recalls and Protecting Your Pet

Every time I hear about a new pet food recall, I cringe. I know that my own dogs will be unaffected since I home cook, and that offers relief. But I immediately check the updated recall list to see if any of my dog walking clients will be affected. Yes, I know what almost every dog on my roster eats...I'm like that! In the most recent case at Diamond Foods, the main concern is for the well-being of the humans in the house, especially the very young or elderly. Not to say dogs can't become ill from salmonella, they can, but they're not as sensitive to it as we are.

So what steps can you take to protect your dogs and your family? Well aside from preparing your own food, education is a huge factor. I strongly encourage all pet owners to read this well-written article which helps identify the major industry players, ingredients, label rules, industry standards, manufacturing processes, etc.

Recently I posted a very short list of commercial products I feel are "safe," which could help you in decision making. But the key really is to arm yourself with the knowledge that will allow you to identify products that are good for your dog.

my dog's food :)

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Is Fido in Your Will? He Should Be

Working in rescue I come across so many people trying to re-home pets that once belonged to family members. I'm sure the folks who left them behind assumed they would be cared for. Don't take this for granted. Read this article, have open communication with family and friends and get it all in writing. On a lighter note, here are some new pictures.

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#WoofMeowTweet

In 2009 I started a Twitter account, and since then have not tweeted even once. That is, until today.

I "get" social media and the role it plays in the world of business, but the thought of learning Twitter and maintaining it gave me a headache. I mean if you're a big business dog walker (several employees and an office manger), you might have the time and energy. But I'm not. So between dog walking, replying to messages and emails from clients, caring for my own dogs, nutrition work, maintaining Facebook, and the rest of life (all things I love, btw), there was no way I could add Twitter.
Then along came Katie. In addition to being one of the most wonderful, conscientious dog walkers I've ever met, she loves social media. She graciously accepted the @oh_my_dog password (promptly changed it) and is making this Tweeting thing finally happen.
Sure it's a long-winded way to say, "we tweet now so please follow us." But it's not like I buried the lead. :)
Follow oh my dog! nutrition too!

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How to Choose a Great Dog Walker - Some Stuff You Might Not Think Of

It's come to this: Many dog owners are being duped.

A responsible dog owner tries to do right by employing a walking service for their pooch. Sadly, what some don't realize is the service they're hiring isn't all sunshine and rainbows. What you hope for is a group of dogs frolicking in the park, playing chase, resting in the shade of a tree, fetching, wrestling, etc... . Sure, it can be that way. It should be that way. And in many cases, it is that way. But more often than not, it isn't. I could regale you for hours about the crappy dogs walkers I see day-after-day, but that's a different story for a different day.

With this post I want to help unsuspecting owners realize that dog walking has it's duds, just like every other profession. So how do you do your due diligence when hiring a dog walker? Here is a start:

1. Ask the other dog owners in your dog park who they use. Ask if they are happy with the service. I'm amazed at how many people are using a service they have "weird feelings" about.
2. Read your potential dog walker's website thoroughly to see if it feels like a good match.
3. Ask for references and CHECK them.
4. Potential dog walkers should want to set up a meeting in your home to meet you and your dog. During this time make sure your dog and the walker seem comfortable together. Listen to your gut.
5. If you’re considering a service that has employees, ask the owner of the company to bring the employee who will be responsible for your dog’s care to the first meeting. Also insist that you always be informed when staff changes occur. Make sure you will be allowed to contact your walker directly, instead of only having a manager's contact info.
6. Be sure your potential walker has a Dog Walker License form the City of Toronto. This means not only that they are bonded and insured, but also that they must adhere to city by-laws. (Dog walkers who do not use city green space however, are not obliged to have a license. These are dog walkers who use city sidewalks rather than parks.) I'm concerned about dog walkers who don't use public spaces (i.e.: rented hidden, private lockups). I personally feel your dog walker should be comfortable with, and encourage public scrutiny. I also know for a fact that dogs become bored when they visit the same place every single day.
7. Be clear about what type of service you are receiving. If your dog is not supposed to go off-leash, don’t leave this information out. If you want leash-free time in the park, make sure your new walker uses safe, legal off-leash parks.
8. Disclose any and all behaviour issues and personality quirks your pooch may have. When you meet with the potential walker, they should have plenty of questions in this area. If they don't, then likely they don't know much about dogs. Moving forward, stay in touch with him/her regarding any new issues, and positive changes also.
9. You want someone who is certified in PET first aid.
10. Can’t stress it enough: listen to your gut.
11. Especially if you have a puppy, ask your walker if he/she is going to work with your dog on some training basics. If they intend to work with your dog, ask them what training methods they believe in. If the answer doesn't involve the word "positive" (see my post), and instead uses words like "alpha, dominance, Cesar, etc... " then don't hand over your key. 

More on this subject from a local dog trainer. 

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