Author Archives: DogSmith

Life is So Much Better with a Well Trained Dog

by Niki Tudge

Isn’t it amazing how we expect puppies to arrive in our home fully trained and perfectly fluent in the English language?  And then we are amazed when our new dog doesn’t understand the simplest instructions we give them.  Like a tourist in a foreign country, we think that if we just talk louder and slower somehow our new puppy will miraculously understand what we want it to do.  But in our modern world, the ability to communicate with and understand man’s best friend is as fundamental as driving, using the internet and doing taxes every April.  But there is so much conflicting and confusing information about dog behavior and dog training that it can be overwhelming trying to decide what is best for our canine family members.

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Call us Today!

 

Learning to communicate with your family pet should be fun for you and your dog but it should also be effective without causing any damage or unexpected side effects.  More importantly, the methods you use to communicate with your dog should not be based on outdated myths or debunked theories. It is critical that any training methods you use with your beloved pet should be well-founded in science and not rely on fads, gimmicks, the latest electronic push-button gizmo or the edited smoke and mirrors used on television reality shows.   And force and pain should never be used.

 

The DogSmith Dog Dog Training is what you need for all of your training needs.  All DogSmith services are rooted in the most robust scientific research and the DogSmith is committed to always using only force-free training techniques that will be fun and stimulating for you and your dog.  Force-free methods are safe, incredibly effective and help ensure that real learning takes place.  Using force-free techniques your pet will never be subjected to negative side effects.  Read more about our Private Training Programs, Board & Train Services, Group Classes and much more.


Coercion in Pet Dog Training Leads to a “Life of Quiet Desperation” for Dogs

Coercion in Pet Dog Training Leads to a “Life of Quiet Desperation” for Dogs

by Niki Tudge

Scientifically we all acknowledge that negative and positive reinforcement in the scientific sense can develop and strengthen behaviors.  The question is, at what cost? I make this statement very loosely as one must consider the meaning of “teach.” As Murray Sidman states in his book, “Coercion and Its Fallout,” if you want to do studies on escape or avoidance behaviors then present negative reinforcers (Sidman 2000).

When training your pet dog, if you want to turn them into a creature devoid of personality then approach the teaching through the application of negative reinforcement. Yes, the use of negative reinforcement will strengthen or make the behavior more likely but it certainly is not necessary, humane or enjoyable for the pet. The application of negative reinforcement does not, like positive reinforcement, empower the pet to explore its environment sufficiently, learning from new and exciting experiences. Negative reinforcement coerces the pet to perform behaviors to escape or avoid the level of shock, pain or fear that are present or anticipated.

Whereas positive reinforcement “leaves us free to indulge our curiosity, to try new options, negative reinforcement instills a narrow behavioral repertoire, leaving us fearful of novelty, afraid to explore” (Sidman 2000 p 96).

In the context of dog training when shock collars or other aversives are used, the pet dog performs the behavior to stop, remove, escape or avoid the painful or unpleasant stimulus (the electrical shock). With the continued application of negative reinforcement the context where the negative reinforcement is delivered begins to broaden and other conditions in the dogs environment begin to predict “the impending necessity for escape” (Sidman 2000 p 96).  Even the dog’s home or the dog’s owner can move from being the setting of these unpleasant events to actually becoming negative reinforcers themselves causing the pet to escape or attempt to avoid these areas or people.

Using coercion to train our pet dogs is absolutely unnecessary. Why would we want our pet dogs to lead lives of “quiet desperation,” afraid to move outside predictable patterns and routines, devoid of experimental and exploratory behaviors? Why would pet dog owners want to become a stimulus (a scary, unpredictable presence in their lives) that their family pet seeks to avoid or escape?  Pet dogs learn to completely avoid punishment if the punishment is preceded by a conditioned stimulus to fear.  When an animal is punished and the punishment is inescapable the animal cannot exhibit operant escape learning, they exhibit a phenomenon called learned helplessness. The inescapable punishment teaches the animal to do nothing, thus they are helpless.  “It is not the exposure to the aversive that teaches learned helplessness but their lack of ability to escape or avoid it” (Chance 2008).

My greatest fear and concern for our pet dogs, as a pet professional and pet dog owner, is that the acceptance of punishment and negative reinforcement in pet dog training will become more entrenched as pet dog owners attempt to emulate or conform to standards presented through many of our “reality” television shows.  The stakes here are high.  There are ethical concerns regarding the use of coercion in pet dog training not only for the welfare of our pets but the safety and wellbeing of our dog owning community. I don’t know about you, but I would rather perform behaviors to gain something pleasant than live my life in fear of, or escaping something scary or dangerous. As a pet owner and pet industry professional I must advocate for humane, effective, efficient and enjoyable dog training methods and implore you all to do the same.

Bibliography

Chance, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior, Wadsworth Cengage Learning

Sidman, M. (2000) Coercion and Its Fallout. Boston, Authors Cooperative, Inc


The Shocking Truth

 

The Shocking Truth by Jan Casey Copyright 2013

Courteous Canine Inc and The DogSmith Tampa

When we consider modern dog training methods, there are three areas which should be considered: the effect on the dog’s physical well-being, the impact on the dog’s mental health, and the ethics of using shock on an animal that must depend upon and trust us to fulfill its needs. The use of a shock collar is detrimental to the animal on all three levels.

Shock collars are marketed to pet owners and trainers for specific purposes including: “training” for obedience, recall, and hunting.  Shock collars are also used for containment (electronic fences) both inside and outside, and to correct “problematic behavior such as barking as seen in the use of “bark-collars.”  Due to the physical and psychological problems resulting from the use of shock collars, they cannot be recommended for any of these applications.

How They Work

Mechanically, a shock collar is designed to deliver varying levels of electrical shock to a dog. Jim Casey, a mechanical engineer with more than 35 years of experience, describes how they work:

“In the collars, there are two terminals that contact the animal’s skin. When the circuit is activated, one terminal is energized. The ‘load’ is the animal’s flesh and the other terminal provides the ground return path. Note that even though the two terminals on the collar are only a few centimeters apart, the electricity follows the path of least-resistance. If the skin is dry and non-conductive, the voltage in the collar is high enough so that the electricity can spark through the skin into moist, conductive tissue underneath that is full of nerve endings.  If the unit fails to work when the remote button is pushed, the operator may increase the intensity and the dog receives a highly-intense shock rather than a gradual increase. The effect of the shock on the dog will vary. There is no way to determine how intense the shock will feel  because of variables such as the individual’s skin thickness  and coat, moisture on the skin, whether the skin is broken or split and the level of electrolytes in  bodily fluids.”

 

How They Are Marketed

 

Marketers like to use neutral euphemisms to disguise the harsh reality of shock collars. They are often called “e-collars,” “remote collars,” “training collars” and other benign terms. In a similar way, the painful shock delivered to the dog is referred to as a “tap,” a “tingle,” “stimulation,” “e-touch” or  anything to obscure the fact that an electrical shock is being sent  through the skin and nerves of the body.

Physical Concerns

It is also possible for a shock collar to cause  burns on a dog’s neck. If the electrodes of the shock collar do not fully contact  the skin, a spark may be produced and vaporize a small portion of tissue. In addition, the electrodes themselves are problematic — they may cause pressure necrosis and are often made of metal that is not hypoallergenic, causing contact dermatitis, or allergic reactions.

Note the pointed style of the electrodes on the model pictured (below right). Having these push into a dog’s soft neck produces discomfort, especially when worn for long periods of time.

Download our free handout here


The DogSmith Board & Train Programs

You Got the Puppy!

But You Don’t Have the Time to Get the Training You Need?

With Your Busy Schedule, Whether Your Pup is 8 months or 8 years –

 Leave the Training to Us!

Of course you want to give your pet the basic training it needs to be a happy member of your family.  But with school, work, family, errands, business trips and vacations you don’t always have time to get the training you and your dog need.  So when you are too busy with life, let The DogSmith help out.  We have two incredible and affordable training programs that fit in to your busy schedule, whether you’re home or not.  With our “Board & Train” or “Latch-Key” training programs we train your dog while you’re away.  Your dog will get the devoted individual attention of your DogSmith Dog Trainer in our home or yours.  Our programs are customized for your pooch and we will adjust the pace and focus depending on the needs of you and your puppy.  Your local DogSmith will meet with you and your dog, discuss your concerns and build a training program around your goals. For each behavior you want, we establish a training goal so we can measure how we are doing and how well your pooch is progressing. Your dog will learn faster than group classes and you will receive FREE copies of our DogSmith MTR® training cards.  And best of all you come home to a trained dog!  Two great programs – same unrivaled service.

DogSmith Board & Train Program

Out of town, on vacation or just too busy at home to give your new puppy the attention it needs? With our “Board & Train” program your dog stays with a DogSmith certified dog trainer receiving loads of attention and training throughout the day, every day for two weeks.  Your dog stays in the home of a DogSmith Certified Dog Trainer and gets a minimum of 2 hours training each day at an appropriate pace. In addition to training sessions, the remainder of your dog’s time will be spent with your DogSmith who will manage your dog’s behaviors through interaction and play, enjoying a structured, safe and educational environment.  Your “Board & Train” program is personalized to meet the needs of you and your pet and is suitable for puppies from 8 weeks of age to senior dogs of any age.

DogSmith Latch Key Training Program

If it is more convenient for you to keep your dog at home while you’re away for the day, a week or a month our “Latch Key” program is the perfect answer for your training needs.  Your DogSmith certified dog trainer will train your dog in your home on an agreed schedule to achieve your training goals.  With our Latch-Key program your dog is trained in its own environment making it ideal for house-training and any other specific behaviors you want.  Latch Key Training also provides for a great mental and physical workout for your pooch. As with our Board & Train program your Latch Key Training is personalized to meet your particular needs and is suitable for dogs of any age.


Get In The Groove – Understand How Dogs Learn and Wow Will Learning Take Place!

Opening a dog training business is easy because the industry is unregulated; becoming a dog training professional is more difficult. A true professional should have integrity, abide by a code of ethics and have an academic background in operant and respondent conditioning to support good dog training mechanical skills if they are to positively impact the lives of people and their dogs. Professional dog trainers must understand how dogs learn, if we understand how dogs learn then we can not only teach then new behaviors, we can also modify unwanted behaviors.

How dogs learn and unlearn behaviors is critical knowledge for today’s dog trainers and behavior analysts. If we are to save canine lives, help families retain their pet dogs and create harmony between canine and human them a strong understanding of how does learn is a must. Pet dog owners with problems need then solved and solved quickly.


How Dogs Learn and Unlearn Behaviors

Natural selection affects innate behaviors such as reflexes, modal action patterns and general behavior traits. The difference between reflexes and modal action patterns is that a reflex (the relationship between a specific event and specific response) only affects individual muscles and glands.  Modal action patterns are an orderly sequence of reflex behaviors which affect the entire being.  Researchers have argued that modal action patterns no longer exist in human beings as there is such variation across the behavior of the species.  The role of genes in human behavior is defined as behavior traits (Chance 2008).

Adaptation

Natural selection helps species adapt to change across generations but does not help living beings cope with fast environmental change. When individuals need to modify their behavior to adapt to new and changing environments they must learn.   Learning indicates a change in behavior and takes place through experience to events, i.e. stimulus.  Learning is essential for survival. Chance (2008 p 24) states “learning takes up where reflexes, modal action patterns and general behavior leave off”.

 

I believe that   dogs learn in two key ways, task-conscious or acquisition learning.

Acquisition learning is seen as going on all the time. It is ‘concrete’, immediate and confined to a specific activity; it is not concerned with general principles (Rogers 2003: 18). Examples include much of the learning involved in and around the home.  Some have referred to this kind of learning as unconscious or implicit. Rogers (2003: 21), however, suggests that it might be better to speak of it as having a consciousness of the task. In other words the learner may not be conscious of learning; I equate this to respondent conditioning. The second form of learning is learning-conscious or formalized learning such as takes place in the training class environment. Formalized learning arises from the process of facilitating learning. It is ‘educative learning’ rather than the accumulation of experience. To this extent there is a consciousness of learning – subjects are aware that the task they are engaged in entail learning. ‘Learning itself is the task. What formalized learning does is to make learning more conscious in order to enhance it’ (Rogers 2003: 27). It involves guided episodes of learning.  In dog training we consider this to be how we apply the protocols of operant conditioning.

 

So What is Operant Conditioning

In Operant Conditioning there are four types of operant learning, defined as such because the behavior operates on the environment.  Two of the quadrants of operant conditioning strengthen behaviors, referred to as reinforcements. The other two of the operant conditioning quadrants weaken behavior, referred to as punishments. The quadrants are referred to as a negative reinforcement, positive reinforcement, negative punishment and positive punishment.  The terms positive and negative do not describe the consequence, they indicate whether a stimulus, has been added (positive) or subtracted (negative) to increase or weaken the preceding behavior.

 

Both positive and negative reinforcement increase the strength of the behavior due to its consequence.  With positive reinforcement the behavior is followed by the appearance of or an increase in the intensity of a stimulus. The stimulus is called a positive reinforcement as it is something the subject seeks out therefore it reinforces the behavior that precedes it.  With negative reinforcement the behavior is strengthened by the subject’s ability to avoid or escape an aversive stimulus, thus negative reinforcement is sometimes referred to as escape-avoidance learning. An experience must have three characteristics to qualify as reinforcement.  The behavior must have a consequence, the behavior must increase in strength and the increase in strength must be a result of the consequence (Chance 2008 p 127).

 

As behavior is the function of its consequences and whereas reinforcement strengthens the likelihood of a behavior then punishments reduce the strength of the behavior. Punishers are aversives and something a subject works to avoid. When an aversive event is added to a situation then positive punishment has taken place. Negative punishment subtracts something from the situation, like privileges, and is sometimes called penalty training.  Experiences must have three characteristics to qualify as punishment. First, the behavior must have a consequence, second the behavior must decrease in strength and finally the reduction in strength must be a result of the consequence (Chance 2008).

Respondent Conditioning

Within an organism there are two types of reflexes, unconditioned reflexes and conditioned reflexes. An unconditioned reflex (UR) is unlearned and occurs unconditionally, whereas a conditioned reflex (CR) is acquired and considered impermanent.  An unconditioned reflex consists of an unconditioned stimulus (US) and an unconditioned response (UR).  An unconditioned stimulus is something that when presented evokes a natural, unconditioned response,  such as blinking when air is pushed towards the eyelid or sweating when stressed or scared. Unconditioned reflexes are important for an animal’s survival.  Freeze dried liver offered to a dog is an example of a US and the dog drooling is an example of the resulting UR.

 

A conditioned reflex occurs when a conditioned stimulus (CS) creates a conditioned response (CR).  This is a learned response to a given set of conditions occurring in the environment.  Pavlov recognized that any stimulus could become a conditioned stimulus when paired repeatedly with an unconditioned stimulus.  Respondent conditioning takes place when an unconditioned stimulus that elicits an unconditioned response is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus. As a result of conditioning the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus that reliably elicits a conditioned response. Each single pairing is considered a trial. With respondent conditioning the presentation of the two stimuli, neutral and unconditioned, are presented regardless of the behavior the individual is exhibiting. The behavior elicited is a reflex response.

 

The techniques used for changing behavior are either operant conditioning techniques or respondent conditioning techniques. Respondent conditioning techniques are used for addressing conditioned emotional responses, for example behaviors such as fear, panic or anxiety that are controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Operant conditioning techniques are used for changing operants, which are behaviors that are controlled by their consequences.

Respondent conditioning techniques for changing behavior focus on the antecedents in the operant scheme, the stimuli, setting events and motivating operations that contribute to or elicit the problematic conditioned emotional responses and the operants they motivate.  Respondent conditioning techniques and procedures used for changing behavior are a combination of, a) in vivo systematic desensitization where the animal is systematically and gradually exposed to the problem stimulus while maintaining the animal below the conditioned emotional response threshold, b) counter conditioning a type of exposure therapy where the problematic conditioned emotional response is replaced with a more desirable or appropriate response and c) attention exercises that promote relaxation by redirecting the animal’s focus (O’Heare 2009).

In contrast to respondent conditioning, operant conditioning behavior change techniques change the operants by controlling the postcedents and affecting those that have an effect on the behavior, i.e. the consequences. Operant conditioning takes place when a response in a given situation is reliably reinforced; there is a contingency between the response and the reinforcer.  Shaping behaviors and differential reinforcement are operant techniques for changing behavior that focus on developing appropriate target behaviors, referred to as the constructional approach (O’Heare 2009). The application of positive reinforcement, negative punishment, negative reinforcement and positive punishment are all procedures that can be used to affect and change behavior with or without extinction trials. The least aversive and invasive operant conditioning behavior change techniques, shaping and differential reinforcement, also positively affect respondent behaviors (Miltenberger 2004).

Bibliography

Chance, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior, Wadsworth Cengage Learning

O’Heare, J. (2008) Behavior Change Programming and Procedures 2009, CASI,

Miltenberger (2004) Behavior Modification Principles and Procedures Third Edition, Thompson. USA

Rogers (2003)  Freedom to Learn. Sourced www.psychotherapynetworker.org 2009

 


10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Pet Sitter or Dog Walker

The world of dog walking and pet sitting is unregulated in most areas so anyone can potentially call themselves a professional Dog Walker or Pet Sitter.

But, much like choosing the best care-givers for your children, it is essential that you make every effort to ensure you find a qualified, trustworthy and professional pet sitter and dog walker. You are entrusting the health and well-being of your pet family members to their care so ask the following 10 questions about Pet Sitting/Dog Walking professionals before you hire them:

 

  1. Can you check their background and do they do background checks on all of their employees? Some Pet Sitters/Dog Walkers may seem great when you meet them and say all of the right things but you are entrusting them with your pets and sometimes access to your home. You should confirm that the Pet Sitting/Dog Walking Company does background checks on their workers and you should look into the background of the company. You can use the internet or get more detailed information by using a background check service. Reputable Pet Sitting/Dog Walking companies will be happy to have you check their background.

How to Travel Safely With Your Pet

We are all accustomed to car safety rules and devices for ourselves and our children.  Seatbelt laws are commonplace and air bags are found in virtually every production vehicle in the US.  Sometimes however, we forget to apply the same principles and safeguards when we are traveling with or transporting our pets.  An unrestrained pet in a moving vehicle can distract you, preventing you from driving safely and greatly increasing the likelihood of an accident.  In an emergency situation an unrestrained pet can not only be seriously injured but can also cause injuries to you and other passengers.  The American Automobile Association estimates that unrestrained pets inside vehicles cause 30,000 car accidents every year.   Even if an accident doesn’t result, many thousands of injuries are suffered by unrestrained pets in vehicles thrown around or from the car in a sudden stop or turn. Read here to know how motorcycle accident attorneys miami fl help victims to claim for accidental injuries. 

More and more states are recognizing the hazards caused by distracted driving and are implementing stricter laws concerning cell phone use and unrestrained pets.  Although there is no perfect system for keeping your pet safe while riding in your vehicle there are many steps you can take to minimize the chance your pet will be injured in an accident or be the cause of one.

Read this guide to pet friendly vacations.

Don’t…

  • Don’t’ let your dog hang its head out the car window.
    • Just think of the debris that hits your windshield as you drive down the road so that you call for help from Ready AutoGlass & Windshield repair when back home.  Dust, bugs, stones, leaves and other objects can make it into your pets’ eyes and cause a major injury. You wouldn’t let your children do this and the same risks exist.
    • If you need to make a defensive maneuver your dog it is more likely to fall or be thrown from the vehicle if it is hanging out the car window.
    • Dogs often jump from vehicles when stopped in traffic creating a potentially deadly situation for you, other drivers and your pet. 
  • Don’t let your dog ride unrestrained inside the vehicle
    • This is simple physics.  Objects in motion stay in motion.  If your car is traveling at 55 miles per hour, then your pet is as well.  Should you need to stop suddenly, your pet will continue to stay in motion.  This could result in a 55 mile per hour impact with a window, another passenger or  the driver.
  • Don’t let your pet ride in your lap
    • Just as riding with a human child in your lap is unsafe, so is riding with your furry friend in your lap. 
    • Should your pet panic or if you brake suddenly, your pet could be thrown around causing damage to itself or others.
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended in your vehicle
    • It is illegal in many cities and states to leave your dog unattended in a vehicle.  This is true even if you left your dog with water and the windows down. 
    • The temperature inside your vehicle can become much hotter than the outside temperature risking your pet’s life.
  • Don’t let your pet ride in the back of a pickup truck
    • This is the primary cause of animal deaths in vehicle accidents. It doesn’t matter if they are tethered or loose.
    • A dog tethered in a pickup bed can easily hang itself if it jumps out of the truck. 
    • You could be liable for injury should someone be bitten by your animal while they are in the back of your truck.  This could result in a costly lawsuit that is not covered by your auto insurance (find more information at https://www.ladanlaw.com/).
  • Don’t smoke in the car 
    • Smoking inside vehicles can increase feelings of nausea in humans and it does the same for our animals.  Please smoke outside of the vehicle away from your pet.
  • Don’t let your pet ride in the front seat
    • The guidelines on Blue Buffalo about this say that front seats are ok if you can disable the airbags but otherwise airbags are very powerful and can injure or kill even a restrained pet in the front seat.  Just like child car seats, pets should be kept away from airbags.
  • Don’t rely on vehicle barrier systems
    • Barrier systems that prevent your dog from moving to the front of the car don’t secure the pet enough to prevent injury in the event of an emergency.  Barriers may keep you safer by preventing your pet from distracting you while driving, but your pet could still be injured from being thrown around behind the barrier in the event of an accident.
  • Don’t rely on a tether that clips to a collar
    • A tether secured to a dog’s collar will not prevent your dog from injury and may potentiall break your pet’s neck in a sudden stop.

Do…

  • Get a safety harness designed and tested as a restraint for your pet
    • Safety harnesses for your pet should be designed and constructed of the same materials required for human seatbelts. 
    •  Ideally the harness should be certified by a qualified testing facility (at this time we are aware of only one harness that has been thus tested –  http://www.ruffrider.com/).
    • Use your best judgment and select a restraint harness that is well constructed, fits your pet and allows some freedom of movement so your pet can sit up and lie down but not so much freedom of movement that it risks injury.
    • Do not have your pet restrained in the front seat but if you do deactivate the air bag to that seat.
    • A standard harness used for walking your dog is normally not of sufficient strength for use as a restraint harness.
    • Get a crate for your car
      • If you have room you can use a crate to restrain your pet.  Make sure it is of good construction and tied down to your vehicle.  Most pets also feel safer while in a crate because they won’t be sliding around as much.
      • Keep in mind that if you choose to use a crate to restrain your pet that the tie-down method you use may not meet ‘crash’ standards and may not protect your pet in the event of a serious accident or a roll over.
      • Crates may serve to keep your pet confined should emergency personnel need to care for you.  It makes it easier for them to concentrate on caring for you first in the case of injury.
      • Always attach information to your crate with your name, address, phone number, veterinarian’s contact details and your pets’ information.  You should keep a form on file with your vet allowing your pet to receive medical care in the case of emergency when you are unable to release it.

 

  • Keep control of your animal getting into and out of the car
    • Teach your dog to only get into or out of the car when released by you and always on a leash.  Getting into and out of the car is a privilege and should be treated like a life reward.

Please restrain your pet while traveling.  It is safer for humans and for our pets!

 

Happy training and safe traveling.

Angelica Steinker and Niki Tudge

www.CourteousCanine.com and www.DogSmith.com

Written January 2013 The DogSmith Tampa FL and Oxford MS


Help Us Give You the Best Service Possible…

Help Us Give You the Best Service Possible…
By Niki Tudge

DogSmith Pet Professionals have committed their professional lives to providing you with the absolute best, most informed, force-free, ‘state of the industry’ pet care and dog training available. Not only is each DogSmith fully insured and bonded but the rigorous training and continuing education each DogSmith accomplishes each year sets the standard in our industry. DogSmiths are fully accredited in pet care and pet first-aid and every DogSmith business owner is a certified dog trainer using only force-free training and pet care techniques.

As part of our effort to provide you with the “best care anywhere” we ask that you consider the following when requesting any of our services for your furry family member:

1. Make Your Reservation as Early as Possible:

This assures you won’t be left without the services you require and will give your DogSmith plenty of time to prepare for any special requirements. The last thing we want to do is disappoint you when you need pet care services and we take pride in providing you the services you need, when you need them.
Likewise, if you need to cancel your reservations cancel them as soon as you can. This will minimize any cancellation fees (especially around the holidays) and it will give your DogSmith a better chance to fill the time reserved for you with another client.

2. Give Us the Most Accurate Information You Can:

We know this can sometimes be hard. You may not even notice some of your pet’s characteristics anymore or you may be hesitant to mention certain problems or behaviors. This is natural. But for your DogSmith to provide your beloved pet the best care possible we need the most accurate information on your pet’s health, behavior, fears, chronic conditions, past illnesses/injuries, likes, dislikes, phobias and preferences. Your DogSmith also needs accurate information to access your home. This can be especially critical if you are a regular DogSmith client. Some details concerning your home or pet may change between scheduled DogSmith services that you may forget to update with us.
Having complete and accurate information will help your DogSmith identify any changes in behavior or demeanor should they arise while you are away. Remember, DogSmiths are pet care professionals who are trained and experienced in every aspect of pet care so they will either be equipped to respond to any specific issues with your pet or they will be able to suggest suitable alternatives. So always complete our registration forms making sure that the following is provided in detail:

Pet Information –
1. Complete vaccination history
2. Contact details for your vet
3. Contact details for friends or family in case of emergency
4. Complete contact details for you while you are away including phone number, cell phone number, email address etc.
5. Comprehensive description of your pets behavior, fears, chronic conditions
6. Food and feeding schedule.

For In-Home Pet Care –
1. Complete instructions on how your house works
2. Schedules for any in-home services you may have such as; maid/cleaning, pool,
yard, pest control etc.
3. Any scheduled contractor work or service to be done in your absence
4. Information on any potential houseguests
5. Information on any friends or neighbors who may have access to your house.
6. Keys, alarm codes, community gate/access codes, combinations or little tricks for problematic locks.

3. Keep Your DogSmith informed

Always confirm your travel plans before your DogSmith services are scheduled to begin and keep your DogSmith apprised of any changes, especially your return dates. As mentioned above, update any information concerning your pet or your home with your DogSmith. Do you have a new alarm code, changed your pet’s feeding schedule or has anything else changed that your DogSmith should be aware of?

4. Try to be Flexible

DogSmith Pet Professionals do everything they can to completely satisfy every customer’s request but DogSmiths are in such demand that they may have to adjust their schedule slightly too properly meet the needs of their clients. If you have requested a specific service at a specific time the DogSmith Pet Professional will make every effort to accommodate your request exactly but there may be an occasion where the service may be a few minutes earlier or later than that requested due to other commitments.

Your DogSmith will always attempt to accommodate your every need while you are away but please remember that if you ask for extra services it may not be possible for your DogSmith to always perform these if their schedule won’t allow it.

5. Let Us Know
When you return to your home and pets after being away, if there is anything you are concerned about please contact your DogSmith immediately. We will be much more able to address you concerns when your service has been recent.

If you can think of anything else that we can do to provide you and your pets with the best care possible please contact us. The DogSmith is helping pets become family!