10 Best Holiday Gifts For Your Dog

Labrador with Santa Hat. New Year's garland and presentsDid you know that dogs have holiday wish lists? Yep, it’s totally true. We’ve asked our furry guests what gifts they hope will be waiting for them under the tree. These are some of the items that they’ve been dreaming about.

  • Antlers- We’re not talking about the fuzzy red reindeer antlers that we love to dress our dogs in. Nope, they want chewable antlers that will keep them occupied for hours while they pretend to run through the Great Plains on a warm winter day.
  • Elevated dog bowl– After years of bending over their dog bowls, your dog has been wishing on the first star they see every night that they will get a raised dog bowl. These clever contraptions allow food and water to be swallowed easily. Plus they come in great designs to enhance your home’s décor.
  • New collar and leash– What better time to spruce up your dog’s wardrobe than the holidays? Reflective collars and leashes make great gifts that are fashion forward as well as adding an element of safety. With shorter days you’ll want to make sure everyone sees you and your dog on your evening walks.
  • Balls- Not every gift needs to be functional. Your pal has been begging for a few new balls. Not only will this make them happy, but it helps promote good healthy habits. Don’t worry we didn’t tell them that balls were good for them too.
  • Water bottle– We’ve been hearing a lot about your dog’s envy for your Nalgene bottle. With all the great adventures you and you dog takes it only makes sense that they have their own water bottle as well. The Good2Go brand even includes a handy pop-out bowl.
  • A day at the Spa– Your dog isn’t too vain to admit that a spa day sounds like perfect luxury to them. A good bath, a nice haircut, and a nail trim are exactly what they need to look and feel their best.
  • New Bed- Let your dog start the New Year in the comfort of a new bed.
  • Puzzles- Keeping your dog’s mind active is just as important as their bodies. Since 3D puzzles require opposable thumbs, these great toy puzzles will be sure to peak your dog’s curiosity and keep them occupied while they try to release delicious treats.
  • New tags- It’s a great time to make sure your dog’s tags are still intact and easy to read. If you moved in the last few months or got a new phone number you can update that information. There are a number of clever themed tags from Star Wars to your favorite sports team to choose from.
  • Doggie Day Care- You know your dog loves you, but every now and again they need a little time to hang with their friends. Give them the gift of playtime with a visit to doggie day care.

Dog Boarding Tips to Get You and Your Dog Through The Holidays

Puppy in SuitcaseThe holiday season has begun. For many of us this means holiday parties, trips to see family in far off places, shopping, baking, decorating, and taking care of our much-loved four-legged friends. We know how hectic this time of the year can be. We wanted to help make your life a little easier with this dog boarding checklist. With all that you have on your plate, it’s easy to forget the little things that can create big snafus for your holidays.

Holiday Dog Boarding Check List

  1. Schedule your dog’s boarding needs early. It’s not uncommon for boarding facilities to become full weeks before the holiday. As soon as you have plans to go out of town or know that your aunt who is allergic to your dog is coming, pick up the phone and give us a call. If you find that your favorite dog boarding facility is booked, ask if they have a waitlist. Plans change all of the time and you may get lucky.
  2. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are all in order. Be sure to get copies of those records while you are at it. You don’t want to be ready to drop off your dog at the boarding facility only to find your dog can’t stay because vaccinations records weren’t sent.
  3. Prep any medication or special foods that your dog may need. If your dog takes any medications on a regular basis make sure you pack a big enough supply to get your dog through their stay. It’s a good idea to provide a little extra in the event just to be safe.
  4. Create an emergency contact list. It’s always a good idea to have an emergency plan. While most of the time we won’t need them, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Include phone numbers that can be used to find you while you are traveling. You may want to add the number of a friend or family member that is going to be in town.
  5. Pack a care package for your dog. Before you head off on your grand adventure check with your boarding facility to see if they allow personal items. If the answer is yes, pack a chew toy or stuffed animal to help you dog be more comfortable in their new surroundings. Throw in a small blanket or sweatshirt that carries your scent. Just be sure to only pack items you are okay with not getting back. While we do everything in our power to make sure these items will stay with your pet, they can be misplaced or ruined by an overly excited dog or washing machine.

Getting your dog ready to be boarded doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Planning ahead will make the process smoother and allow you to focus on the other tasks on your to do list.


Keeping Your Dog Safe on Thanksgiving

Old Pug with a Fresh Fall HarvestThanksgiving is only a few short weeks away. It’s a great time to reconnect with family and friends and celebrate the good fortunes the year has brought us. Our dogs may not understand the bigger meaning of Thanksgiving, but they do get that the kitchen is now full of yummy smells. These tempting scents and the constant ruckus of ovens opening, mixers mixing, and sweet delights being placed on every open space can make anyone’s will power tremble. For our dogs though, this festive holiday can quickly become a medical emergency. Before things get too hectic around your house, it’s a good time to review some of the foods that can be dangerous to your dog around Thanksgiving. We’ve created a list of some of the common doggie no-no’s as well as some helpful tips that can keep your holiday running smoothly.

Thanksgiving Foods Your Dog Should Avoid

  • Fatty foods- turkey skin, fatty grizzle, and butter can all lead to an upset tummy for your dog. In some cases these fat laden foods can cause pancreatitis which requires veterinary attention. It’s best to keep gravy bowls and crispy skin far from your dog’s reach.
  • Bones- whether you are planning on serving a traditional turkey, prime rib, or ham be sure to take the bones out to the trash as soon as possible. Bones can cause a number of problems for your dog including obstruction and perforation. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove them.
  • Alliums (AKA onions, leeks, chives, shallots) – these fragrant ingredients may spice up our stuffing and mash potatoes, but they can also lead to acute anemia in your dog which will require immediate veterinary attention. Be careful when chopping these vegetables as your dog may jump at the chance to snag anything that has hit the floor.
  • Nuts- walnuts and macadamia nuts may add great texture to bread and cookies, but they can also cause “macadamia nut toxicosis”. Some dogs showed symptoms of weakness, depression, vomiting and hyperthermia within 12 hours of exposure.
  • Grapes and raisins- often used in salads and sides, grapes and raisins can cause serious health issues for your dog. Some dogs have developed acute kidney failure from eating this small innocuous fruit.
  • Raw bread dough- when dogs ingest raw yeast dough their stomachs act as an instant oven creating carbon dioxide that will expand their tummy. The pressure that is built can result in gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) which will require immediate veterinary care.
  • Xylitol- this artificial sweetener is found in just about everything these days from sugar –free gum to mouthwash and baked goods. This chemical can result in hypoglycemia.
  • Chocolate- most dog owners are aware that chocolate is not safe for their loved pets. Remember that bakers chocolate and dark chocolates have higher levels of theobromine, the chemical that causes toxicity, so a little exposure can go a long way.
  • Alcohol- while wine and beer may be enjoyed as part of your Thanksgiving, avoid sharing any with your dog. Alcohol can result in a number of symptoms that could put your festivities on hold while you visit your local veterinary emergency room.

If your dog does manage to get into the above items be sure to call your veterinarian right away, some of these problems can be stopped with proper medical attention.

Now, we don’t want to ruin the fun of the holidays for your dog. We know that our four-legged pals deserve a little extra on this festive day. We’ve developed a few tips that will allow you to spoil your dog while keeping them safe.

Thanksgiving Treats for Your Dog

  • Diversion Bowl- if you have a lot guest coming and going during your holiday, fill a bowl with acceptable dog treats. Let them know that they are welcomed to offer your dog anything in their special bowl, reminding t\your guest to not share people food with your dog.
  • Canned food- your dog doesn’t have to miss out on all of the yummy foods that are being served. Treat your dog to a couple tablespoons of canned food with their normal kibble. Look for canned food that has pumpkin as an ingredient that can help with digestion. Your dog will undoubtedly snag food that has been dropped on the floor and the pumpkin can help their tummies.
  • Boarding- holidays are a hectic time for everyone. With people coming and going, it can be hard to keep track of your dog. Treat them to a night (or even the whole weekend) at Pooch Hotel. They will feel like they are having the best slumber party ever, and you can focus on making sure the pumpkin pie comes out of the oven at just the right time.

We hope your Thanksgiving holiday is filled with great memories and special times with your family, friends, and pets.


Keeping Your Dog Cool This Summer

Labrador bathing in the river, spray stick team jumpAs we reach the heart of summer fun many of us are noticing that we are also experiencing a heat index that feels like we are approaching the sun.  Summer heat while great for beach days and pool parties is not necessarily great for our dogs. Due to their fur coats and in ability to sweat like we do a warm day can quickly become dangerous to their health.  Before you head to cooler climes here are some tips to help keep your dog cool and safe this summer.

  1. Never leave your dog in the car. Not even for a few minutes while you run into the grocery store. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, if it is 83 degrees outside your car can reach temperatures in excess of 109 degrees, even with the windows cracked. Dogs regulate their temperature through panting, if the air outside is hot they are unable to cool themselves resulting in hyperthermia that could be deadly.
  2. Lots and lots of water. Make sure that you have provided your dog with extra water while you are out and about. You can even add ice cubes for a cool and refreshing treat.
  3. Provide shade or access to indoors. If your leave your dog outdoors most of the time, be sure to provide a shaded area for them to escape the blazing heat. If you don’t have a dog house, you can hang a patio shade. Doggie doors are also a great way to let them access a cooler space, if needed.
  4. Visit the vet. Some dogs are susceptible to sunburns and skin cancer. A quick check-up with your vet can help you discover the best way to keep them safe from the sun.
  5. Doggie Day Care. If your schedule has you very busy this summer, consider a stay at a dog day care center. Doggie day care will let your dog socialize with other dogs in a cool and comfortable environment. Let them play until their hearts content while you soak up the suns’ rays.

Summer is a great time to play outside, but before you head out be sure your dog has a way to stay cool. These simple tips can help keep your dog healthy and happy.

Fireworks and Your Dog: The Struggle Is Real

yankee doggie dandiesThe Fourth of July is a joyous occasion for us in America. We celebrate our day of freedom with BBQs, picnics, family, and fireworks. The night sky explodes with bright beautiful colors while we ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ our little hearts out.

While we get wrapped up in the festivities, our dogs are thinking that the world is coming to an end. Anxiety in dogs from fireworks is a very real problem. For us, the explosions in the sky are a reminder of the battles our forefathers fought. Unfortunately, our four-legged friends only hear loud noises and lights falling from the sky. The Fourth of July is a rough night for dogs. They lack the ability to understand that fireworks are temporary and won’t hurt us. In their attempt to escape from the explosions, dogs have been known to jump through windows and sliding glass doors. Many dogs will escape their homes in an attempt to find a safe place.

So how do we help our dogs who may have firework anxiety? The first thing is to be aware of the problem. You know your dog better than anyone, if they tend to fear lightning or other loud noise, it’s safe to assume that fireworks going off will be nerve wracking for them. Once you have a gauge of how your dog may react you can prepare for the inevitable.

  1. Provide a safe place for your dog to hide. If you crate your dog while you are out of the house, you may want to place them there before the party begins. Your dog’s crate is their safe zone. They will be more comfortable there than they would be with free run of the house.
  2. See your veterinarian. Fear in dogs can be manifested in a number of different ways. Some dogs will become destructive to furnishings and siblings, other will seek opportunities to escape. All of these behaviors can cause harm to your dog or other pets in the house. If your dog struggles with changes, your vet may be able to provide tips and medications that can save both of you a lot of stress in the long run.
  3. Board your dog. It can be tough managing your family, friends, and your dog on the Fourth of July. With so much on your plate it can be challenging to find the time to support your dog when he needs it. Boarding your dog for the night could be just what the doctor ordered. A staff member can comfort your dog while making sure they don’t hurt themselves.

The Fourth of July should be a festive occasion. You can help your dog get through the night with a few simple tips.


How to Stay on Top of Dog Training During Busy Summer Days

Training dog on the beachThe dog days of summer are upon us. For many of us that means our social calendars are packed with pool parties, day camp for the kiddos, family vacation and a variety of other fun festivities which keep us from home. While we are enjoying the sun soaked days of summer, our dogs are left to entertain themselves. This down time may give them plenty of time to read that summer book they’ve had their eye on, as well as forget all of (or at least most) the training we’ve worked so hard on during the winter.

For the most part, our companions want to make us happy and will maintain the training we have provided, but at the same time, they can forget some of the skills they’ve mastered. It becomes our responsibility to keep them honest, so to speak. One of the best ways to do this, is to create a practice routine where you review the dog training techniques that you’ve used in the past. Every night after dinner take fifteen minutes to review commands. Not only is this a great way to stay on track, but a little extra bonding can go a long way when our schedules get too hectic.

In addition to regular practice times, you can also test behaviors by taking your dog to pet friendly events that you are already attending. The distractions from being around groups of active people could allow you to fine tune skills like ‘leave it’, ‘sit’, and ‘stay’. Remember to be patient with your dog on these outing as there will be a lot of new sights and smells that will make staying focused a challenge.

If you are finding your schedule is too pack to practice you can always call us. Our dog trainers can help with refresher classes as well as training during boarding. If you are planning on a vacation, leave your dog with us and we’ll work on those necessary training behaviors to help you keep your dog on track.

We know summers are meant to be fun, but don’t forget your four-legged pal in all of your adventures.

Summer Travel Tips for Your Dog

Coppia con cane in partenza vacanzeThere is something about summer that calls to us, it demands that we venture into the world and discover new adventures. For most of us, that challenge is met with a resounding “We’re on our way”. We load up our cars, finding places for luggage, sporting goods and, of course our dogs. Our little co-pilots wag their tales as we embark on a memorable outing. Before you double check the locks to the house we have some helpful travel tips that can make your journey more enjoyable for your dog.

Road Trip Travel Tips for Your Dog

Most dogs love riding in the car. They associate the road to happy places like the park and the beach. When it’s time to plan a road trip you’ll want to make sure that you pack a few essential items for your pal. Be sure to carry a water bowl and water, food, leash, and any necessary medications. Your dog may not need much on your travels, but these items are a definite must. Before you embark on you trip be sure to verify that your final destination is dog friendly. While many hotels allow pets, there are still plenty that won’t. Remember not all cities may be as pet friendly as yours. If you find that accommodation will be a challenge, consider boarding your dog.

Once you start your adventure, you’ll want to make frequent breaks to let your dog stretch their legs and take bathroom breaks. A good rule of thumb is to stop every 2-4 hours.


Flying Travel Tips for Your Dog

If your summer vacation plans have you and your pal flying you’ll want to do some research before you head to the airport.  You will need to see a veterinarian to obtain a health certificate ten days prior to departure. In addition to your health certificate, USDA regulations require that your dog is offered food and water four hours before check-in. You’ll want to plan meals accordingly. Most airlines require some form of a carrier or crate for your dog. It’s a good idea to let your dog get accustomed to whatever carrier you decide to use.

There are a number of rules and regulations upon flying with your dog. Be sure to talk to your travel agent or airline to verify that you have all of the necessary paperwork, transportation details, and supplies to make your flight a great adventure for you and your dog.

Summer is a great time to get out of your house and explore the land. It’s also a great time to do some bonding with your four-legged pal. These tips can make your next adventure a memorable one.

Dog Training is Hard: Why Working with a Trainer Will Help

Fotolia_33995676_XSWe’ve all heard the saying that “practice makes perfect”, but it was Vince Lombardi who said it best, “perfect practice makes perfect”. If you have been struggling with your dog training, this is where you could be missing the mark. Let’s face it, dog training is hard. Our best pals sometimes have a mind of their own, which means your patiently given commands could go unheard. Then there are days when we are just too busy to practice the skills you perfected over the weekend. These missed sessions can lead to our dogs forgetting everything we worked so hard for.

We here at Pooch Hotel understand these struggles. We work with countless dogs and their human companions and hear similar concerns daily. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with a dog trainer is the best way to get you and your dog on the right track towards perfect practice.

Do you know why gyms, dance studios, and dojos have mirrors? It’s to help you make sure your form is spot on. Without the mirrors we only think we are doing the movements correctly. It’s very common for what we are doing and what we think we are doing are not in sync. This is also true when talking about dog training. Let us be your mirror. Dog trainers not only teach you how to speak the same language at your dog, but they also watch how you both interact. Is your dog leading you while you practice leash walking? This is a very common reaction that most dog owners don’t perceive. They think that their dog wants to be close to them which is why they are leaning against their leg. Dog trainers can identify this and correct you and your dog.

What do you do when your dog is having a bad day and not listing to you when it’s time to practice? Most of us give up and decide to try again later. This is obviously not the course of action as it can lead to more bad behavior. The rest of us may continue to the practice session, but due to our frustrations we may start displaying mixed signals that can make the situation worth. Again, this is a great example of when a dog trainer can aid your efforts. The more worked up we get the higher pitched our voices can get or we start barking at our dogs creating confusion. A dog trainer can identify these behaviors and guide you and your dog back on track.

Helping your dog become a model citizen is not an easy chore. It becomes even harder when we try to go it alone. You don’t have to go it alone. Give us a call, one of our professional dog trainers can help you and your dog turn your dog into perfect practice before you know it.


How to Keep Your Dog Clean In Between Grooming Appointments

dirty dogSpring is here! We’ve made it through snowmageddons, rainstorms, and other weather patterns that have left us feeling a bit gloomy. Our poor dogs have had to grow winter coats to keep them from catching a chill through the winter vortex. But now that spring is here they are going to need our help getting them ready for the summer heat.

Once you start the season off with a bath, brush-out, and haircut you may quickly find the spring showers have ruined your attempt at freshening up your furry friend and maybe even your house. Have no fear we have some great suggestion to help keep your dog feeling like he just walked out of our salon until it’s time for his next grooming.

The brush is your friend

If you don’t have a brush for your dog, make sure you add that to your pet shopping list. During a spa session, our groomers are able to thin out a lot of your dog’s undercoat. Unfortunately, this isn’t a do once and done project.   From now until summer your dog will be growing his summer coat and shedding his undercoat. Brushing him out a few times a week can go a long way to help with keeping fur off your carpet and bed. He will also enjoy the extra one-on-one time he gets with you.

*Bonus helpful tip: brush your dog outdoors so that flying hair can be captured by birds building nests.

Keep Your Dog Smelling Great with Waterless Shampoo

No matter how hard you try to keep your dog clean and dry, especially during light showers, they have other plans. Lying in the sun and rolling in the dirt are second nature to them. Your dog doesn’t understand that you just mopped the floors and shampooed the carpets. All they know is that they love you, and sunshine, and dirt, and being outside. You can help your dog (and house) stay fresh by purchasing a bottle of waterless shampoo. This foamy product can be used directly on your dog or on a towel that you use to spot clean your dog as needed. Waterless shampoo works great to clean a dogs muzzle, especially after they spend an afternoon digging in the yard or trash. Apply a small amount on a damp cloth and scrub away the remnants of their escapades.

Use Sheets to Cover Dog Beds and Furniture

The next two tips aren’t just about keeping your dog clean in between grooming appointments, but they are great ideas to help keep your house clean after you’ve done spring cleaning. Cover dog beds, couches and other furniture with old sheets. No matter how hard you try to keep your dog’s paws clean the minute you look away will be the instant he manages to track mud into the house. Covering dog beds and furniture can help protect those items. Washing a couple sheets is going to be much less frustrating than if you had to wash your couch.

Place Rugs or Towels in Front of Doors

If you have a doggie door or a way for your dog to venture outside without you, place a rug or an old towel to help clean their feet. You can even place a small bucket with waterless shampoo and towels at your front door for quick clean-ups after walks. Again, you can wash these items as frequently as needed. Many pet stores are carrying a variety of fashion friendly rugs so that you can find a rug that can act as accessories as well as a functional way to keep your dog clean.

We’re all glad to spring has arrived and are looking forward to the dog days of summer. Hopefully. these tips will help your dog stay clean until his next visit with us. If he manages to get in a big mess and these tricks don’t work we’ll be here ready to scrub-a-dub your best pal.

Five Reasons to Train Your Dog or Puppy

1-A pooch v1.0If you have recently added a new dog to your family, you may have noticed they don’t always come with manners. Teaching them how to be a good canine citizen is only one of our responsibilities as the guardians of our dogs. This mean dog training has to be worked into our schedules. Training your dog or puppy takes time. It won’t happen overnight, which means it also requires a great deal of patience, consistency and understanding.

Here are five reasons why it’s worth the effort involved:

1.    You’re a team.

By training and teaching your dog the behaviors you, you are providing your dog guidelines. You might be surprised to know that dogs like structure, it helps them feel secure. This makes life easier and fun for your dog, and ultimately your whole family.

2.    You like your stuff.

If you don’t set boundaries and rules early on, your favorite shoes, belts or, even furniture can quickly become a chew toy for your dog. Set your pal up for success! Make sure that you remove any inappropriate objects from your dog’s reach and strategically place allowed toys and chews for your dog to make the more appropriate choice. Also set up a potty training schedule and consistently stick with it.

3.    You want to bond with your dog.

Training is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. It’s a surefire way to build trust and communication—which is key to any long-lasting, healthy relationship.

Dog training classes are a great way for you to learn how to direct your dog in a positive, effective way. Classes offer hands-on practice and valuable professional guidance. They also give your dog an opportunity to socialize with other dogs and work around various distractions.

4.    You consider your dog a companion.

One of the best things about being a pet parent is including your dog in your favorite activities. A well-mannered dog is a pleasure to take to parks, beaches, and even dog-friendly shops and restaurants.

If your dog doesn’t know appropriate behaviors, outings may feel more like chores. You and your dog may be uncomfortable—and it may be downright dangerous.

5.    You love your dog.

German Shepherd Dog sat giving paw

Training is one of the best things you can do to ensure your dog’s happiness and safety. A well behaved dog is able to do more, see more and, ultimately, live more. Above all else, training forges a unique bond between you and your dog—one that is bound to last a lifetime.

We want to help you and your dog to have a long and happy relationship, which is why we encourage you to join us for our dog training classes. We offer a variety of services from seminars, group classes one-on-one sessions and our popular ‘stay and train’ program. Each of these options allows you and your dog to get the guidance necessary to make sure your dog training goals are met. We’re looking forward to helping you and your dog become BFFs.