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dog walkers liberty village

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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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Feral Cat Awareness Week in Toronto

It’s Toronto's first annual Feral Cat Awareness Week. And here at OMD, we’re not just all about dogs. The fact is, feral cats are a manmade problem, so it’s up to us to fix it. One cat at a time. Yes, it's a daunting task, but if everyone does their part, we can make a huge impact. In the alley behind my house there was once a large colony of cats. With the help of Project Pet Rescue, Queen West Animal Hospital, Dundas West Animal Hospital, Annex Cat Rescue, Urban Cat Relief and The Toronto Humane Society, we’ve been able to get the population under control. All of the kittens have entered adoption programs. The adult cats were trapped with live traps and drop traps, spayed/neutered and either put back or adopted if they were actually friendly. We only have one more adult and two kittens to go.

No, it’s not easy. There’s a lot of work involved, but there are resources. It’s important that once you release the cats, you continue to feed them. Ideally you should have the colony registered with a rescue so that volunteers will add “your” cats to the daily feeding rounds.

Yep, that’s a real thing. Volunteers with designated feeding days, selflessly take time out of their own busy lives to ride around on their bikes and feed feral cats. Imagine that you're a mental health nurse, working 10-hour shifts. After which you need to feed your own cats, spend quality time with them, then walk your dogs, prepare dinner, clean the house and catch up with your spouse. THEN go feed a bunch of feral cats. If that’s not selfless, I don’t know what is. That is a real person I’m describing.

How can you help?  You can learn everything there is to know by taking a workshop with the Toronto Feral Cat Project or Toronto Feral Cat Coalition. These organizations and other rescues are desperate for foster homes and places to recover feral cats while they heal from surgery, before being put back outside. During this 7-10 day period, the cat stays inside of a large crate with food, water and litter. When his/her wound is healed, they go back “home” to where they were living. Every little bit helps, so please do whatever you can. Even if you can’t get involved, there are other ways to help.  Maybe you can build a winter shelter, or donate money, or adopt a cat/kitten.

Here are Pearl, Ryerson and Logan. All rescued from the Queen and Bathurst area, and all waiting for a home. You can apply to adopt them here.3

 

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Latest oh my dog! Posters

Our two latest posters. When the weather dries up a bit you can expect to see them around the Queen Street West/Trinity Bellwoods area, Brockton Village and Roncesvalles Village. OMD-SophieOMD-Utah

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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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Katie A.K.A. The Best

I started OMD in 2003 as a one-woman operation. I had always intended for it to stay that way. When you spend as much time in the park as I do, you witness many other dog walkers; some of them not doing such a great job. It always makes me cringe. How could I ever find someone who would care as much as I do about getting it right, and about my business and reputation? I couldn’t. I deemed it impossible.

Then, a year ago, I got an email from Katie that she was coming home after an extended stay in the UK, and she was thinking about walking dogs. <Chorus of Angels> I knew this would work.

Not only is she a compassionate dog trainer and animal lover, she has a knack for safety.  It’s that little bit of ‘fear’ that makes a good dog walker, a great one. After all, she’s worked in vet clinics and shelters so she’s seen it all and she understands everything that could wrong. She also engages with the dogs on her walks and their faces light up when she calls their name.

katie at cp

All of our clients love Katie, she’s always in communication with them and she never fails to go the extra mile to help when they’re struggling with dog-related issues.

I may have taught her a few things about dog walking, but it’s a two way street and we learn form each other all the time. What more could a business owner want!?

Happy first anniversary, Katie!

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Continuing Education To Serve You Better

Dog walking offers its challenges, but I think it’s important to stay fresh and keep learning.  I believe this is true for all professions. As part of my commitment to being a great Canine Nutrition Consultant, I work with a mentor who is a veterinary nutritionist, attend seminars on the subject whenever possible and I read books related to the topic. Recently I enrolled in the Advanced Canine Nutrition Certification course at CASI.

What’s Katie up to? She’s currently enrolled in the intense dog trainer program though the Karen Pryor Academy and apprenticing at When Hounds Fly.

So we’re both working hard and trying to be the best possible dog nerds we can be. Please forgive us if we’re a little slower than usual at responding to your calls and emails. It’s only temporary.

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oh my dog's! Favourite Dog Beds

If owning ten dog beds makes a person an expert on dog beds, then I'm an expert. At the very least, I can say for certain that I'm obsessed with dog beds. I know what my dogs will like and I know what my regular guests like. Here's my top four: Off the top, I can tell you that if you care about design, Bowsers makes some of the most stylish beds. It gets better though; they're washable, extremely durable and made in Canada. And most dogs find them comfortable. While not the most affordable option, in the long run I think they're the best investment.

Concerned about the environment? West Paw beds are eco friendly; made in the USA from recycled plastic pop bottles. With the exception of the "nap" series, the covers are removable and washable. Over time they do start to look a bit tired, but in general, they're quite durable. What I really love about West Paw, is that once the bed looses it's shape (and some of the comfort), you can order new inserts. It's much more economical and enviro-friendly than buying an entire new bed. My dogs love the "tuckered out" and "eco drop" beds.

I think the most comfortable dog bed I've owned so far is the Ortho Bolster by K&H. It's not pretty but my dogs and our guests love it, and around here, that comes first. It's made with orthopaedic foam, the cover is removable and washable and I just can't get over how durable it is.

Personally I would never spend more than thirty dollars on a cushioned bed that doesn't have a removable cover. Even if the entire bed is washable, it can throw your washing machine off kilter. I also like to protect my inserts against urine, drool and general dog odour. When I get a new bed, I unzip it and sandwich pee pads edge-to-edge between the insert and cover. If you wish, you can use tiny safety pins to keep them in place. Pee pads are highly absorbent and you can get them at all pet stores and most dollar stores. When I wash the covers, I replace the pads. You may not feel the need to do this, but since the dog traffic at my house is relatively high and can include the odd elderly, slightly incontinent pooch, it makes good sense.

Recently I purchased a Cooling Bed because when Joey gets warm, he sprawls out on the hardwood and I worry about his mature joints. This bed is pretty cool (haha), as it works strictly by magic, not electricity. You simply add the recommended amount of water, cap it and lay it on the floor. For days he didn't use it, so I made it more inviting by placing a thin sheet over it. And voila! I would recommend this bed for any dog who runs hot, or lives in a non air conditioned home.

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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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