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Finding the Right Pet Care Provider

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Whether a pet resort such as Paws & Pals or a pet sitter, make sure you know who is caring for your family member. Here are a series of questions to ask when interviewing a potential pet care provider. Are there quite a few questions? You bet! But better to have asked too many rather than too few when it comes to your pet’s safety and well-being. As a charter and leading member of the International Boarding and Pet Services Association (IBPSA), we’re committed to providing pet parents conscientious care, dealing with you honestly and fairly, to continuously learn more and improve our services, and operate our business honorably.

What Questions Should You Ask When Choosing a Pet Care Provider?

  • Is the pet care services provider a member of a professional trade association like IBPSA? How long has the provider been in business?
  • If the provider is “away care”, that is a service not in your home such as a pet boarding or day care facility, pet salon, or a pet sitter’s own home, have you toured the premises to see if it is clean, sanitary, and secure?
  • What types of cleaning products does the provider use and are they pet safe?
  • If the provider is a pet care boarding or daycare facility, are there security fences around the boarding area?
  • Does the provider have a fire safety or abatement program? And, if so, how often is it checked?
  • If the provider is “away care” are the premises climate controlled with air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter?
  • What type of animal care education and training does the provider and, if applicable, the provider’s staff receive?
  • What is the provider-to-pet ratio?  For example, how many pets will a pet sitter be caring for at one time or how many pets per employee does a boarding or daycare facility staff for?
  • If “away care”, does your dog have its own run or suite, or will your pet be housed in a crate?
  • If housed in a crate, how frequently are the dogs let out for exercise and elimination?
  • Will your dog be with other dogs not related to your pet, and how much contact will there be with other dogs?
  • If dogs will be with other dogs, does your provider temperament test the dogs being put together?
  • Does the provider separate dogs being put together such as in daycare into groups by size, age, and temperament?
  • If you are not supplying food, what type of food will your pet receive?
  • What if your pet requires medication while with the provider, how will those be administered?
  • What other services does the provider offer?
  • Can your pets go for a private walk, play Frisbee or ball, and get a bath?
  • If your dog requires grooming, what options does the provider offer?
  • Does the provider have a dedicated grooming area for the pets to reduce stress during the process?


We hope you find these questions helpful. We encourage you to take your time and do your research before selecting a care provider for your beloved 4-legged family member. We’re available and happy to help you with learning what options are available in our area based on the specific needs and likes of your pet!



DayCare Games National Recognition in 2018

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DayCare Games Participant 2018The Daycare Games is an annual competition of off-leash dog play attendants and pet centers. Through the competition, individuals demonstrate their dog leadership skills that make their off-leash dog playgroups safe and fun! Competition is open to all members of The Dog Gurus online community that currently offer off-leash dog playgroups; Paws & Pals recently celebrated our 5th Anniversary with The Dog Gurus. Facilities are grouped into small, medium, and large class sizes, and each employee is categorized based on their level of experience.

The competition events are leadership exercises The Dog Gurus recommend be used daily in managing dogs in off-leash playgroups. Through The Daycare Games competition it’s determined how your team members’ skills compare to competitors in your own facility’s class size and individual experience level. The three events are Dog Recall, Group Sit, and Gate Boundary, learn more here.

Paws & Pals received the following in 2018:

Dog Recall: 6 Gold, 1 Silver
Group Sit: 5 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
Gate Boundary: 7 Gold

From The Dog Gurus:

“We would like to congratulate your facility on your outstanding achievement in our annual 2018 Daycare Games. While everyone that participated was a winner, we are very excited this year to send overall awards to the winning facilities in each competitor class. Your facility has proven they have the proper skills and training to keep dogs safe while they play together.”

Paws & Pals Pet Resort is honored to have received this recognition, and individual staff members are congratulated for their achievements and efforts.




All About Shedding

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Shedding is natural; “non-shedding” is a misconception

Shedding hair and skin is natural and all dogs shed to some extent; non-shedding is a misconception. A dog’s fur helps control his body temperature and protects his skin against the sun and other environmental elements. When a dog’s hair stops growing, he will naturally lose it by shedding. The amount and frequency will depend on several things, including the dog’s health condition, breed and sometimes the season and environment. With most dogs now living indoors as pets versus working and living outside, shedding tends to happen year round.

HowThe shedding cycle is directly related to the hair growth cycle. During the shedding phase of the hair growth cycle, hair sheds from the hair follicle. As the growth stage begins, new hair comes in. Hairs that are in the resting stage are held in the follicle by friction and are not anchored in. They fall out very easily, especially during grooming. Dogs, cats and rabbits go through these stages continuously. Several factors affect the amount of hair the animal will shed and when shedding is more pronounced.

WhenShedding in animals is intimately related to seasonal cycles. In most cases, the cycle of shedding is cued by changes in the amount of daylight. Hair growth and shedding are regulated by fluctuations in the amount of melatonin, the “hormone of darkness”, secreted by the pineal gland in response to seasonal sunlight variations. Increasing day length stimulates hair growth in the spring. Spring shedding is typically heavier because the winter coat is progressively replaced for a lighter, summer coat.

Double-coated dogs generally drop their soft undercoats twice a year and lose their topcoat once a year. If they shed all at once, the fur will come out in tufts and is often called “blowing a coat”. Other dogs might shed continuously throughout the year. Each hair (topcoat/guard hair and undercoat) goes through a hair cycle just like human hair. This cycle typically takes 4-6 weeks to complete depending on breed and species.

What to DoUnlike brushing and combing, deshedding is done to remove the loose, dead undercoat from the pet without cutting or damaging the topcoat. Undercoat deshedding reduces the shed hair in all pets and also can help reduce hairball formation in cats. The undercoat regulates the pet’s body temperature. When used properly quality deShedding tools, such as the Furminator, do not cut or damage the coat, Thus, you do not have to worry about removing coat that your pet needs to stay warm or keep cool. Undercoat that has shed from your pet’s skin, but gets trapped under the topcoat, can cause mats or tangles to form.  For a full deShedding treatment that includes a special shampoo and “blow-out” with a high-speed dryer, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Winter Pet Care Tips

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Pets should be brought inside when the temperature drops. If that is not possible, then shelter—a dog house, shed or barn—should be used to protect your pet from the wind, low temperatures, and inclement weather. Supply warm bedding material and make sure the doorway has at least a flap covering to keep out the wind.

Make sure pets have a clean and ice-free supply of water outside. Eating snow can cause diarrhea, so you want to have fresh water available. Just like people, dogs lose moisture when breathing in cold air—they can see their breath, too!—and although dehydration is more common during summer months, it can happen in cold weather as well.

Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets, causing kidney failure. Unfortunately, it is also very appealing to them. With its sweet taste, dogs and cats will happily lap it up from the garage floor or parking lot. It only takes a little to be deadly. Clean up after getting your vehicle serviced, and watch for tell-tale green spills in public areas. There are environmental and pet-safe antifreeze products to use.

Snow- and ice-removal products can also cause digestive upset and topic redness or chemical burns on tender pads and feet. Wipe your dog’s feet with a damp towel if he/she has walked through de-icing products.

On a similar note, hair growing between the pads on the bottom of the foot can collect snow and ice. Keeping the hair trimmed will keep your dog from “skating.” Booties are available from retail pet suppliers to help protect feet from chemicals, snow, and cold.

Regular grooming during winter will keep your pet’s coat in top condition to fend off the cold. A groomed fluffy coat creates insulation against cold air. A dog with matted fur will get colder and suffer from hypothermia much faster than a pet whose coat is maintained with regular grooming. Your groomer may also recommend using a coat conditioner or moisturizer during a grooming visit—winter is often a time to see dry flaky skin on dogs as well as on people.

Dogs that are active outside in the winter will need to eat more. They burn more calories keeping warm as well as those needed for exercise.

We hope you find these tips helpful as you keep your dog safe and healthy this winter.

Clues to Winter Blues

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Clues to Winter Blues

Learn signs and tips for helping alleviate your pet’s winter blues

With fall drawing to a close, many of us are looking at the approach of cold, inclement weather, earlier nightfall and limited outdoor time. Regardless of where we live, the busier schedules of work and school, holidays and other commitments often leave us with less time to spend at home and outdoors, and less time to spend with our pets.

The sudden change in schedule can limit time for company, play and attention. These reduced opportunities for exercise can sometimes leave pets bored, stressed and even depressed.

How can I tell if my pet has the blues?

Not all pets will have the blues when winter rolls around. But there are some signs to look for to make sure your pet is just hunkered down, and not in distress or struggling. Find these signs and symptoms listed below.

Signs of the blues:

  • Sleeping more than usual can be a sign of stress, depression or illness.
  • Increased attention-seeking behaviors, such as scratching, chewing and other destructive behaviors can be indicators of a bored, understimulated or stressed pet.
  • Changes in regular eating, toileting or sleeping habits can also be a sign of illness, stress or depression in a pet.
  •  “High-strung” behaviors such as hypervigilance, problem barking, urgent, loud meowing, and repetitive behaviors can be indicators of a stressed, bored or anxious pet.
  •  For cats, not using the litterbox is a telltale sign of stress.
  • Cold weather can cause flare-ups in arthritis and other physical ailments, causing stress and pain, making activities less fun and contributing to the blues.


What can I do to help?

First, try to figure out what’s different. Are you and your family home less? Are you going on fewer walks? Are the kids away at college? Are you too busy to spend time playing? Is it just too cold to have much fun outside?

Next, think about what might help bring some enrichment back into your pet’s life. Rather than give them their meal in a bowl, capitalize on their natural instincts by using food dispensing toys, hidden stashes of edible goodies, and five-minute training sessions using some of their food as rewards (reward yourself, too, with a special treat so you want to do it more often). Set up mini-obstacle courses with cushions and cardboard boxes, teach them some useful or silly tricks and play nosework. Play fetch and hide-and-seek games up and down the stairs and throughout the house to help tire out more active dogs and cats. Another great option is signing your dog up for SmartPlay daycare at Paws & Pals. This innovation program will provide your dog just the right amount of physical, mental, and emotional stimulation in a fun and loving environment!

Finally, exercising your pet’s brain can be as rewarding as exercising their bodies. While this holds true any time of the year, it’s especially important in the winter months to keep their bodies and minds happy, challenged and free of the winter blues

Marjie Alonso, CDBC, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP is the Executive Director of the IAABC.


Understanding Fear in Dogs

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Every dog or animal with a reasonably developed central nervous system has fear. Fear is one of the basic drives, along with hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, and sociality. Out-of-control fear is as much of a problem as any other drive that is out-of-control. But fear in the normal amount is essential, as it helps to keep a dog out of harm’s way. However, like people, dogs are not born with fear.

In dogs, fear responses begin between 6 and 8 weeks of age. By three weeks after its onset, fear plateaus at a level normal for pups and for the specific genetic complement they have. There are three factors which alone or in combination act to determine the level of fear any given dog shows.

The first of these is genetic. The dog inherits a predisposition for a high level of fear. Thus, what would cause a mild startle response in a dog with a normal fear level will drive the over-reactive dog ballistic.

A second factor that causes uncontrolled fear is early environment. The typical cause is
improper or total lack of primary and secondary socialization during the period of 3 to 12 weeks of age. Simply stated, the dog is not exposed to people, various sounds, and short periods of separation from its mother and siblings. Therefore, the dog will forever fear these things that will normally occur every day of its life.

The third factor is learned fear. It develops by the chance association formed between some arbitrary neutral stimulus—say a slamming door—and a coincidental negative reinforcement, something painful—like stepping on a sharp object.

Dogs can express fear in a variety of ways. Because they have several options, a dog might show fear one way at one time and another way at a different time. This varies based on its mental state at the time, the type of stimulus and its intensity. The most common expressions of fear include:

• The dog adopts a submissive posture; head down, ears back, tail tucked tightly between its legs

• The dog might lie down and roll over on its side, lifting the top hind leg

• Shows a high level of excitability: panting, salivating, dribbling urine

• It may whine or bark while showing a low-level submissive posture

• The fearful dog might take flight if he is able to by running away

• If confined in some way, the dog might pace, circle or whirl in a “make believe” running away

The most dangerous expression of fear is aggression in which the dog might growl, raise its hackles, bare teeth and could even nip. Or, in the extreme, it could launch an all-out attack with vicious biting, especially if escape is not an option.

The cure for fearfulness will depend first on recognizing the underlying cause—
genetic, early environment, associative learning or some combination of thereof. Not surprisingly, genetic fear is the most resistant to change and is therefore nearly impossible to completely cure. However, it can be made to take a back seat. The first step is careful, gentle, behavior modification along with obedience training or retraining, starting right back with the basics. Ultimately, to be successful, the dog must gain self-confidence and self-reliance. With your patient and positive guidance, a fearful dog can learn to manage its responses to uncomfortable situations and live a happy life.

Separation Anxiety – Please Don’t Leave Me Alone!

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Back-to-school season is a time of transition for the whole family, as parents and children begin to adjust to a new routine. It’s also a difficult time for pets, who have grown accustomed to some extra attention during summer vacation. Dogs are social pack animals – they normally prefer being with others. Usually dogs learn to be alone for periods of time without a problem, but for some, being alone is unacceptable. Separation anxiety in dogs is much like a panic attack in a person. Symptoms usually start within 20-40 minutes after the pet parent leaves the home.

Signs of separation anxiety include urinating or defecating in the house, scratching, biting, and digging at doors (sometimes until they break nails or teeth), barking and other vocalizations whenever the dog is left alone. Pet parents sometimes come home to find pillows, furniture or other household items destroyed.

Separation anxiety is often triggered by a major change in a dog’s normal routine or by a traumatic event (from the dog’s point of view). A few examples are: a new job that takes the pet owner away from home all day; the death of a family member, especially one the pet was very close to; a family household relocation; or kids going back to school.

What to Do
• Keep arrivals and departures uneventful and low key – pets frequently recognize the signs of departure, so do not give them extra attention when leaving. Also, ignore the pet the first few minutes after returning. Exuberant displays of affection may actually encourage anxiety (the pet feels rewarded when you return). So stay calm.

• Give the pet something to do – mental and physical exercise is important to combat separation anxiety. Toys and physical activities provide mental and physical stimulation which help a dog gain confidence. A confident pet will rely less on human contact for stimulation. Try daycare. Avoid long lonely days at home with doggie daycare, where dogs play together in a safe, supervised environment that is helpful for dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds.

• Give the dog a mental cue that you are leaving – something consistent like using a word/phrase that the pet will recognize as something you say every time you leave and return.

• Practice leaving – get everything ready to go, then sit down. Get ready and go to the door, then sit back down. Get ready, go out the door, close the door for a few seconds and re-enter. The idea is to provide short stimulation in the act of leaving, but prevent the dog from going into a panic attack. Repeat each move several times until the pet feels comfortable. Then take the next step a little further. Once the pet can handle absences of a few minutes, increase the time periods gradually. Once an owner can leave for 30 or 40 minutes, separation anxiety should no longer be much of a problem. Be aware these steps will need to be done slowly and repeatedly for days to break the cycle.

• For severe separation anxiety, consult a dog trainer or behaviorist. In some cases, a pet sitter might be required so the pet is never alone.

• If all else fails, talk to your veterinarian to see if one of the anti-anxiety drugs available for pets might be right for your dog. The right medication combined with the one or all of the above suggestions should make a positive difference.

In the end, when treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. This is accomplished by setting things up so that the dog experiences the situation that provokes his anxiety, namely being alone, without experiencing fear or anxiety. Remember to be calm, loving and patient with your dog and to focus on making small steps of progress.

The Dog Gurus: Charter Member

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From The Dog Gurus:

As part of our 4th Anniversary of The Dog Gurus membership, we wanted to highlight a couple of our charter members. Charter members were facilities who joined The Dog Gurus as soon as we launched and have been with us ever since. We are thankful for their support and hope they have loved being a member as much as we love having them! For this post, we interviewed Konrad Gastony from Paws and Pals Pet Resort in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Read The Dog Gurus Article >

Pet Owner Survey Says…

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IBPSA Member

Why do pet owners make certain pet care decisions? The National Pet Owner Preferences Study, released in April by the International Boarding & Pet Services Association (IBPSA), reveals why “pet parents” spend their money on pet boarding, pet sitting services and apps, and veterinary services. The professional trade association teamed with Merck Animal Health to commission the study of 652 pet owners to go beyond  the usual “how much” did pet owners spend to get to the “why” they make certain spending decisions.  The study revealed that reputation, recommendation, and certification all play key roles in pet care decisions.

“Understanding why pet owners make certain decisions provides invaluable insight for pet care business owners,” said Carmen Rustenbeck, Founder & CEO of IBPSA. “This survey reveals what the pet owner thinks.”

The 100+ page study, based on independent research conducted by Researchscape International, includes detailed analysis of the survey results. The following are just a few of the study highlights:
• The top considerations for selecting a boarding facility were safety and security and overall reputation
• Before deciding on a boarding facility or pet sitter, half of the respondents determined if the facility or sitter was certified and trained in caring for pets, including in emergency situations
• Eight out of ten survey respondents put very to extremely important value on vaccination requirements at boarding facilities
• Most pet owners surveyed discovered their pet sitter by recommendation of a family member, friend or neighbor, while the least common way was online

“Even as finding pet care becomes easier thanks to technology and growing competition, this study reinforces the importance to ‘pet parents’ of providing high-quality, professional pet care,” said Rustenbeck. Paws & Pals is proud to be a charter member of the IBPSA. All of our staff have completed the IBPSA educational programs and most have achieved their Advanced canine care certifications. We will continue to invest in our staff so that your pet receives the best care possible at Paws & Pals!


Top Summer Safety Tips

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Our pets love summer just as much as we do! For many, it’s the best time of year to be out, about, and enjoying all that the season has to offer. 

While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking your pet out for hikes, swimming, or running, keep in mind that warm weather can be dangerous. It’s hard for pets to keep cool when the sun is beating down, and animals don’t sweat like people do. Dogs do sweat, but not very much, and it does little to cool them off. As you probably know, dogs more commonly cool themselves down through panting. When there is only hot air for a dog to breathe, it’s a lot harder for that dog to keep cool. Read on to learn some important summer safety tips for dogs:

1. Never, ever, EVER leave your dog in a hot car 

Okay, you’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s so important that we still decided to list it first. It can take minutes – yes, MINUTES – for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. Most people don’t realize how hot it gets in parked cars. On a 78 degree day, for instance, temperatures in a car can reach 90 degrees in the shade and top 160 degrees if parked directly in the sun! Your best bet is to leave your dog home on warm days. If you’re driving around with your dog in the car, bring water and a water dish and take your dog with you when you leave the car.

2. Make sure your dog is protected from parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes

If not protected, your dog is at risk for heartworm, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other nasty and dangerous conditions. And don’t forget, many of these diseases can be caught by people too!

3. Keep your dog’s paws cool

When the sun is blazing, surfaces like asphalt or metal can get really hot! Try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. It’s also not a good idea to drive around with your dog in the bed of a truck – the hot metal can burn paws quickly (and they can fall out to be injured or killed in an accident).

4. Your dog should always have access to fresh drinking water and shade

Our dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, and other than panting and drinking, they really have no way to cool themselves down. Keep your pet in the shade as often as possible. While dogs and cats like to sunbathe, direct sunlight can overheat them (especially dogs) and can cause heat exhaustion or stroke.

5. Give your dog his very own “kiddy pool”

Dogs who love the water, naturally love it even more during the hot months, and getting wet keeps them cool. Providing a small, kid-sized pool will go over big.

6. Don’t assume your dog can swim well

Just because dogs instinctively know how to swim, doesn’t mean they’re good swimmers. And if your dog jumps in your swimming pool, he might not be able to get out without help and could easily drown. Make sure your dog can’t get into your swimming pool without you around.

7. Dogs get sunburns too!

Believe it or not, dogs can sunburn, especially those with short or light-colored coats. And just like with people, sunburns can be painful for a dog and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreens for your dog (don’t assume a sunscreen for people is appropriate for your dog).

Perhaps the most important tip is to pay attention to your dog – you’ll know when he seems uncomfortable. Summer can be a great time to spend with your dog, but it’s important to keep these tips in mind!

Source of content: The Pet Health Network

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