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dog walker queen west

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New Safety Protocol

At OMD we're hyper-vigilant when it comes to safety. I lose sleep over the things that could go wrong, and then imagine every possible way to prevent accidents. I've seen it all, kept a great track record, and never become complacent. Accidents can happen to anyone, but at the end of each day, I know I did everything I could.straps Lately I've been feeling overwhelmed by the number of missing dogs in Toronto. Often, the culprit is faulty equipment or a slipped harness.

I've been a huge fan of the carabiner, and still am. But they're bulky, and when you need to carry multiples, in multiple sizes, it's just too much and doesn't work in every situation. So I began the search for "safety straps" that would connect harness to collar. I came up empty many time times in my search, but then it occurred to me that I have this amazing client who cannot only sew, but can also think critically.

lola strapThe result is our very own commissioned saftey straps/connectors. All OMD clients with harnesses will now be sporting one of these in addition to a properly fitted collar/martingale. This way, if a harness ever fails, or the dog manages to wriggle out, he's still attached to the leash via the strap.

Here's to sleeping better!

A very HUGE thank you to Zoe's mum.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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Nicole Wilde Seminar, Part 2: Dog Play - by Katie Hood

Part 2 of Nicole's day was entitled “Dissecting the Dynamics of Dog-Dog Play”. My time dog walking with Christine at oh my dog!, nerding out with other canine professionals, as well as my years of working with dogs, prepared me for this part of the seminar. I was happy to find I already possessed much of the knowledge covered and also had a few beliefs confirmed. Nicole showed lots of video of different kinds of play in a dog park ranging from happy play with lots of loose body language, to completely petrified dogs whose owners insisted they should “enjoy” the dog park experience when it was clear the only thing the dog would enjoy was leaving. Starting right at the beginning we were reminded why it's important for dogs to play – to establish social bonds, practice social skills, teach bite inhibition, and how far they can push other dogs. Nicole recommended introducing a puppy to a well tempered older dog, preferably female from her experience.

Referencing a study by Dr. Ward, play preferences in dogs was discussed. Dr. Ward videotaped puppies playing and found that the partners they preferred to play with in youth carried on as they aged. They also found that there is a same sex play preference early on, females tend to initiate with other females more often, and male puppies are more likely to handicap themselves in play to encourage the other pup to play with them.

The well known play bow was discussed and outside of being an invitation to play, it was also likened to be a doggie version of a 'lol!' Some dogs will perform a behaviour that could be taken as a threat but will follow it up with a play bow to say 'just kidding'.

Returning to the work of Dr. Ward, healthy play was discussed. It's common to believe that play should be 50/50, for example one dog shouldn't be on the bottom all the time. But in Dr. Ward's study they found in paired play the 50/50 rule did not apply. Nicole talked about different play styles, that a more hesitant/shy dog may not have the desire to be on top during play or that some dogs don't like to chase other dogs but love to be chased. Instead ensure play is healthy by noting friendly body language, that there is some give and take in the play, frequent pauses (don't let the dogs play non-stop and then whip themselves in to a frenzy), and respect for communication. If one dog tries to take a pause in play and the other continues to try to instigate, it may be time for both to have a break or end the play session. What should you watch for in play with your dog to prevent issues? Increased speed, fewer pauses, vertical play increasing instead of horizontal play, rough play increasing, low pitch vocalizations.

A round up of good facts/reminders:

- Socially awkward dogs are opportunistic (have you ever watched a dog trying to mount a dog who's mounting another dog? Awkward.)

- Keep play safe by having done solid attention work with your dog (eye contact!) and good recall.

- Monitor your dog in the park. Don't bring a newspaper or your phone and sit 20 feet away with your back to them.

- The most dangerous factor in dog-dog play is humans! Don't put your dog in a vulnerable position

If you missed Katie's write up of Part One regarding Separation Anxiety, here it is!

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A Squeaky toy that only your dog can hear?! Say it is so! A guest Post by Katie

I remember bringing home a toy for Sandy and after no longer than 10 seconds, immediately taking it away and putting it in a drawer.

It was TOO LOUD.Sandy loves things that squeak. She loves making them squeak. She loves bringing me things to squeak in my face for minute upon agonizing minute. I will admit that I have stabbed a toy here & there to "kill" the squeaker.My mother gave us the gift of a "Hear Doggy" toy this past weekend, it's a toy with a squeaker that only dogs can hear.

According to their website: "Dogs can hear sounds at a higher frequency (0 to 45 KHz) than humans (0 to 20 KHz). Tuned to an ultrasonic range in the 24-28 KHz frequency, each Hear Doggy! squeaker is out of human hearing range, but still fun for your four-legged friend."

And even better they have two styles: toys with stuffing or without, for those that try to de-stuff their toys on a regular basis. We are a ripping kind of family, so we went with the de-stuffed model and both of my dogs adore it. It's the first toy out of their box nowadays.

This is a great toy not only for easily frustrated humans such as myself, but for all kinds of people who can't have the constant squeak that dogs find so much fun: people who are noise sensitive, people who take their dogs to work, people who make work calls from home or have brought home brand new human babies!This is a toy that has gotten a generous rating from us!

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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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Is Day Care Right For Your Dog? Tips for Choosing a Good Facility

A great doggy day care could be a wonderful thing for the right dog. This Whole Dog Journal article will walk you though how to know if it's right for your dog, and how to chose a good facility. If you're considering DDC, this is a MUST read. There isn't much I can add except to tell you my own thoughts on the subject. I've been dog walking a long time and part of what I love is how happy each dog is to see me when I arrive. Truthfully, they're just as happy when I return them home. Dog love their houses. I don't think I have a single dog on my roster who would prefer to spend the day at DDC than go for a short car ride, run, play, swim, and then spend the rest of the day lounging on their own sofa, waiting to greet their peeps.

Some of my clients have made the switch from DDC to dog walking because at the end of the day their dog was actually too tired; they wouldn't wake up to eat, play with their owner, or go for a walk. Some of you might think that's great, but personally, I like to hang out with my dogs and do fun things together. Dogs require a lot of sleep, and if they can catch their Zs between walks and at night while you're sleeping, you will likely have a chilled out dog rather than a zombie.

I'm not bashing DDC, if I had a balanced, easy-going, confident German Short Haired Pointer, I would probably find the best possible facility I could and save my sanity. And I'm sure my GSP would STILL be up for a walk at the end of the day with me. Because they're nuts :) But again, just like with dog walking, you'll need to asses whether your dog is a good candidate for DDC and be very selective when choosing a facility. I can't stress enough how important the information in this article is.

If you live in the city of Toronto and you need to send your pooch for day care, feel free to contact me for referrals. It's not a service I provide, but I keep my ear to the ground. And if you're in the market for a dog walker instead, here's how to find a good one.

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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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