Tag Archives: Florida

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.

Dog and Cat Heartworms – The facts and information about prevention

Basic Facts about Heartworms and Prevention by Bethany Jordan. The DogSmith Florida Panhandle and Alabama

Many pet owners are unaware of the significant affect heartworms can have on their pet’s health. Heartworms are solely transmitted by mosquitoes which leave animals in the south, and especially Florida, at risk year round.  After biting an infected dog, the mosquito injects circulating microfilaria (the worm larvae) into another animal where they then migrate to the heart, maturing over time until the worms eventually obstruct blood flow and damage the heart muscle.  If untreated, heartworms will result in significant health complications and eventually death of the infected animal.  It is important to note that cats are also at risk of infection; however, there is currently no treatment available for the mature stages in the heart.


Administering monthly heartworm prevention functions by cleaning out circulating microfilaria before they can reach the heart.  If an animal has not been receiving prevention, the first step is to visit your veterinarian for a heartworm test and a thorough physical exam before administering any form of heartworm prevention. Heartworms require six months to be diagnosed through a blood test.  If the first test is negative it is always a good idea to repeat again six months later. There are many prevention options available for both dogs and cats and you should consult with their veterinarian to choose which preventative is appropriate for each individual situation.  Once a prevention regimen has been implemented it is vital that it be performed year round.


Learn more from the American Heart-worm Society

What and How Much Can a Puppy Learn?

Well first of all let’s define a puppy. In The DogSmith puppy classes the dog must be under the age of 6 months, however a dog is not considered an adult until it is 12 months of age.

It is a great idea to get your puppy into a well run and safe puppy class when it is several weeks old. Begin your puppy’s education before any problematic behaviors can develop. If you wait until your puppy is 4-6 months of age then I can guarantee you are probably already experiencing some jumping problems, nipping problems and maybe some potty accidents. This means when you start your training program, at the same time you are trying to build appropriate behaviors such as sit, down, come, stay etc you have to work on reducing the other problematic behaviors. This often causes frustration for owners and this is when we begin to hear comments such as “my puppy is dominant” or “my puppy is stubborn” when really the puppy is just exhibiting the behaviors that it has learned from its environment during its early months of development.

At The DogSmith we encourage puppies into class at around 9 weeks of age; puppies are capable of learning some really nice behaviors even at this age, more importantly we can teach the owners how to manage their puppy’s environment during these first weeks so they do not inadvertently teach the puppy inappropriate behaviors. In my opinion the most important thing we need to teach our puppies is that training is fun and people are safe. If you want to raise a socially sound dog that can solve problems and live comfortably around your family then stay away from aversive and invasive dog training methods.

On our website you can watch some really nice videos of puppies who are just four months of age demonstrating sit-down, stay behaviors, come, up and off and walk nicely. We also have a really nice E-Book that covers all the behaviors you can begin to teach your puppy under our proprietary MTR Program. These behaviors are categorized under management tools, relationship exercises and training skills. Feel free to grab a copy and begin working through them.

Here is a copy of our DogSmith Skill Training Card for puppies, your local DogSmith will covers some or all of these skills in your Puppy Class depending on the number of dogs in class, age of dogs in your class  and your individual goals. What you and your dog will learn from a DogSmith puppy class is how much fun training can be and that the working relationship between people and dogs should be fun, effective and non damaging both mentally and physically for your and your puppy.

A short summary of a dogs sensitive periods of development and the importance on its socialization.

Niki Tudge October 2011 Copyright

A few days ago one of our DogSmith Dog Trainers, Susan Barton,  brought a new puppy into their home. I just love puppies of all shapes and sizes and feel very strongly about guiding owners in the right direction for their puppies socialization. Seeing Lucy reminded me that soon many of you will be out looking  for your holiday puppies so i felt it was the right time to  post a blog on the critical socialization periods of dogs. Susan congratulations on Lucy i am sure she is headed for great things and will become another great ambassador of The DogSmith Dog Training Programs.

The Critical Socialization Periods of a Pet Dog

There are key stages within a dog’s development where they are particularly sensitive to environmental influences. Scot & Fuller, (1965) and Serpell & Jagoe (1995) have described that conditioning of behavior during these sensitive periods is not easily changed in later years. Whereas genetics set the range for physical or behavioral traits the dog’s experiences during these important periods will determine where within that range the dog behavioral tendencies lie. Scott and Fuller (‘O’Heare p 47) concluded that “dogs should be introduced gradually and sensitively to the circumstances that they are likely to experience during their lives.” Socialization during the key sensitive periods is critical as dogs are biologically prepared to learn different things during different phases of their development. An emphasis and focus on socialization should be made around the 6 – 8 week mark as this is considered the peak of the socialization period.

During the prenatal period, studies have shown that environmental influences, such as stress, can affect the behavior of the fetus. If the mother is reactive, emotional or stressed then this may produce similar traits in her offspring.

During the neonatal period (birth to 2 weeks) puppies are slowly learning even though their ears and eyes remain closed.  They are very sensitive to touch and smell and careful and reoccurring handling has been shown to be a valuable practice and can produce confident and exploratory behavior even though these learned associations may not carry over to adulthood (O’Heare 2010).

The transitional period (2-3 weeks) prepares dogs for the socialization period.  Puppies begin to move, stand and walk during this period and many new behavior patterns emerge such as communication behaviors and simple associations (O’Heare p 46 2010).

During the socialization period (2.5-3 to 9-13 weeks) dogs form attachments to people, places and locations. During the first period of this socialization period puppies will begin to approach strangers and be tolerant of passive handling.  This leads on to a period between 8 to 10 weeks where a ‘fear’ period begins. During this ‘fear’ period if a puppy is exposed to aversive stimulation it can have long term effects on a dogs behavior. This is the period where most new puppies are adopted or purchased making the timing of this homing event important. Puppies need time to settle into their new homes before they hit the ‘fear’ period at around 10 weeks of age. Placement prior to 6 weeks of age can also be detrimental to puppies’ behavioral wellbeing as it has been shown that they suffer from distress, lack of appetite and are susceptible to disease (‘O’Heare 2010).

The juvenile period (12 weeks to 6 months) sees puppies become less tolerant to change. There motor capacities emerge and they have an increased learning capacity. Social relationships with other dogs become more stable and at around 6 months of age they reach sexual maturity.


So for all you new puppy owners out there, be aware of the social development periods of your new puppy. If you are still looking and searching for your new puppy think carefully about where your puppy comes from, the early days are also critical on its long term development. Enroll your puppy into a well run puppy class free of aversives and punishment. Choose a force free trainer who can help you shape your puppies future behavior and they will get you quickly on the road to owning a happy and mentally healthy puppy.

O’Heare J. Domestic Dog Behavior 103 (2010)

Dog Training – Punishment and Its Fallout

For both people and dogs, in fact all animals’ reinforcement is essential to our survival, we all do things that in the past have brought about food, water, approval and safety. It is how we all survive the perils of the world. We also survive when we learn what not to do, things that have brought about fear, pain and suffering. If you consider any injury you have had you will find that it was probably brought about by your behavior and you probably learned from it and will make efforts in the future to avoid that behavior. You are probably also acutely aware that most of the punishment inflicted upon you is from the hands of other people.

Most of us live in healthy happy environments and receive far more reinforcement from those we surround ourselves with, but for some life can be one punishing experience to another.  The world we live in is filled with aversive consequences in an attempt to suppress unwanted behavior and for many of our family pets who seek so desperately to gain our approval and win our love they live under the constant fear of punishment to the ignorance of their owners.

So what is punishment and how do many people use punishment to suppress their dog’s behavior? Something punishing as we described above is an event that takes place after a behavior that is likely to reduce the behavior in the future. The law of effect says that behavior is a function of its consequence. A punisher can be anything that reduces behavior, shouting, hitting, withholding something, such as a toy or affection. A punisher is something that your dog will seek to avoid or escape. However if the punisher is not reducing the behavior then it is not a punisher and sometimes things that we consider punishment may not actually be an aversive to our dog and vice-versa, things that we may consider a reward may actually be a punisher. The reward or punisher is determined by the person/dog receiving it and is defined by whether it is increasing or reducing the behavior.

There are two types of punishment, positive punishment and negative punishment. The positive and negative is a description as to whether something has been added to the event after the behavior. If you walk in a park at night and you are mugged, you are less likely to walk in the park again at night. Your behavior was punished; an aversive event happened it was added to the situation. If you drive to quickly and you are stopped by the police and you are fined, and as a result of the fine you drive more slowly in the future then your behavior has been negatively punished. Something has been subtracted from the situation, money. Negative punishment is also referred to as penalty training (Chance 2008).

Punishment is a simple concept; however the variables at play that will determine if the punishment is effective are very complicated if at all possible to implement effectively.  One essential variable to effective punishment is the contingency, how and to what degree is the punishing event dependant on the behavior. If a dog is doing something wrong and only gets punished sometimes then the dog will not relate their behavior to the punishment. In my opinion this is impossible for pet dog owners, they cannot get the consistency required for the punishment to be contingent on the behavior.  The second variable is the contiguity, the interval between the behavior and the punisher. How often are dogs punished after the fact and have no idea why they are being punished, in fact they relate the punishment to what they are doing at the exact moment they are punished. Most people cannot effectively apply punishment they either ignore the fact that in many cases the punishment was not contingent on the behavior and or the timing of the punishment was wrong leaving the animal bewildered and confused (Chance 2008).

It is also extremely difficult to determine at what intensity the punishment should be applied.  If the level of the punishment is wrong then the animal either receives too harsh a punishment or the punishment is sustained as the owner experiments with the intensity of the punishment in an attempt to get the desirable effect.

These are the reasons for unintentional abuse of our family pets.  Let look at a dog that is not housetrained and even though the owner is convinced they are addressing the problem and punishing the dog the house soiling continues. There is a high probability that the punishment is not contingent on the behavior. If the animal is soiling the house without the owner knowing then contingency is not effective or the animal is only being punished sometimes.  If the house soiling behavior is not punished immediately then there is not sufficient contiguity between the behavior and the punisher. As a result of this the owner will then increases the intensity of the punishment labeling the animal stubborn, spiteful or stupid. The animal then seeks to escape or avoid the punishment which results in a breakdown of trust and a feeling of safety and security around their owner.

So not only is punishment extremely difficult to apply it also has many unwanted side effects. Pet dog owners continue to punish their dogs because in the short term they see results, the application of the punishment is reinforcing to them so they punish again. The potential fallout of punishment is that the dog seeks to avoid or escape the punishment, behaviors such as escape, apathy and aggression (Chance 2008). Let’s look at each of these.  A dog can escape punishment without actually fleeing, they become experts at avoidance.  When dogs cannot escape or avoid punishment they become apathetic their general demeanor and behavior is suppressed. It is often safer to do nothing when you live in an environment where aversives are common place. Aggression is an alternative to escaping punishment. If the dog cannot escape the punishment or the punisher then they will resort to aggression, they will attack. Aggression can be redirected to a stationary object or something else not just the immediate threat.

Because punishment is so difficult to implement and it has so many unwanted side effects it is not a wise choice if you want to change the behavior of your companion animal. There are so many other choices such as response prevention, managing your dog’s environment so they cannot or choose not to engage in problem behaviors. Reinforcement training is a powerful alternative to punishment protocols. You teach your dog what you would like them to do rather than what not to do, remember how we all choose behaviors that result in pleasant, desirable or safe outcomes. The huge benefit and positive side effect of choosing more appropriate training and behavior change protocols is that your dog will actually  like you and I don’t know about you but I choose to have pets in my life so I can mutually enjoy and benefit from them being in my life and in them sharing mine.

If you need help with a problematic behavior then find a certified dog trainer who understands how best to help reduce unwanted behaviors without resorting to punishment. 

Find a dog trainer in Florida, Alabama, Oxford MS, Panama City, Pensacola, Palm Beach, Dallas, Texas and more

Find the Poop, Earn the Points! International Pooper Scooper Week

CONTACT: Rick Ingram
DogSmith Franchise Services
1-888-Dog-Smith (364-7648)
Find the Poop, Earn the Points!

To highlight the importance of cleaning up after your pet and help protect the environment, aPaws has established the first week of April as International Pooper Scooper week.

Oxford MS, April 1, 2011 – In recognition of International Pooper Scooper Week, The DogSmith National Dog Training and Pet Care Franchise encourages all animal lovers to support The Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (aPaws) by cleaning up after your pets. aPaws was founded in 2002 by a group of professional pooper scoopers who want to make everyone aware of the importance of picking up and properly disposing of pet waste. With the growing number of dogs and other pets in the US, pet waste can pose a health hazard and it is disgusting in our yards, parks and public areas.

One artist is applying a clever solution to the problem of pet waste by combining services and gaming to help solve urban problems. Aram Saroyan Armstrong, a student at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Milan Italy, has developed Pooptopia LBS: Mobile Poop Awareness & Avoidance System, an urban game of pet waste removal.

The goal of the game is for teams to discover dog waste, photograph and email it, including the location of the disgusting ‘find’ with the name of your team. You earn points by finding the waste and you can double your points by marking the exact location of the waste on Pooptopia’s online ‘Dark Treasure’ map. Contract pet waste removal teams use the treasure map to optimize routes to clean up the offending waste. With enough data ‘Pooptopias’ and ‘Puptopias,’ zones are then established which are the basis for the fees the contract pet waste removal contractors charge. Higher rated communites enjoy reduced pet waste removal fees.

According to Saroyan, “Pooptopia LBS is much more than a super smart, fun and high-tech poop scooping service. It’s a lifestyle. We serve the people, not just wealthy dog owners. We encourage good citizenship and are helping people to reclaim their streets in a playful and positive way.” In addition, to make pet waste cleanup easier for dog owners of Milan, the city has installed pet waste stations on the streets. Pet waste stations provide waste cleanup bags and a convenient trash receptacle for the waste.

To learn more about Pooptopia visit http://aram.posterous.com/13368482. If you can’t pick up the pet waste yourself then you can always hire a professional pooper scooper to do it for you. There are hundreds of pooper scooper companies around the U.S. committed to making your yard or neighborhood poop-free. For more information on the hazards of dog waste or to locate an aPaws professional pooper-scooper, visit http://www.apaws.org and use their convenient Find-A-Scooper Directory to find a scooper near you. You can also contact your local DogSmith® at www.DogSmith.com

About The DogSmith – The DogSmith Franchise Services Inc. is a Florida based company whose mission is to enhance the lives of pets and their owners by improving their relationship, and the quality of the life they share, through providing professional support and training to pet dog owners, supporting and assisting animal shelters and rescue organizations to minimize the number of unwanted animals and offering affordable and professional care to family pets so that pet ownership is never a burden. To learn more about The DogSmith, or to become a DogSmith Dog Trainer, visit www.DogSmith.com or call 1-888-364-7648.

Why Should You Pick Up After Your Dog?

Why Should I Pick Up After My Pet?
March 10th, 2011

It’s a question that lots of pet owners ask. Why should I pick up after my pet when I take him/her for a walk? Well, besides the fact that no one likes to step in your pet’s “accident” while enjoying their morning run or afternoon walk, there are some very good reasons to pick up after your pet. Did you know that:

* Every time it rains pet waste washes down storm drains and into rivers, lakes and streams.
* Pet waste may contain bacteria and viruses that transmit easily to humans who handle contaminated soils or infected waters
* Many cites and towns now have ordinances with fines starting at $200 for not picking up after your pet
* Flies and other “pest” insects can also increase in the area when you and others don’t pick up after your pets

So the next time you’re out at the park or enjoying the great outdoors with your pet, be sure to take a minute, pick up after him/her and then dispose of the outdoor waste properly.

For a few of our handy dispensers and pick-up bags check out the Products section of our site.

The DogSmith Says
Now if the reasons for picking up after your pets outside your home environment are valid, which i believe they are, then why would you not pick up after your pet in your yard. Well our DogSmith clients tell us there are lots of reasons why they do not pick up after their pets.
1. Its dirty work
2. Too busy
3. There Husband said he would do it
4. The wife said she would do it
5. Both parents say their kids will do it
6. We schedule for the DogSmith to do it as nobody else is doing it.
Yes The DogSmith can do it.

Here’s The Solution To Your Dog Waste Pollution!
It is undeniable. The family dog brings loads of joy and pleasure to your life. But they also leave a lot of mess in your yard. Your time is too valuable to spend with the nasty hassle of cleaning up after your family’s best friend. But your family needs and deserves the cleanest environment possible. We have the solution to your dog waste pollution! If you have small children, entertain in your garden or just insist on a dog play area free of dog waste then “Get Clean, Go Green.”

Call The DogSmith today! 1-888-364-7648

We give you more time in your day to enjoy a cleaner, healthier yard. Spend that extra time enjoying your family. We help American families Go Green by cleaning up after their pooch. We recognize the high level of trust you place in your Home Service Providers. So that you may never worry or have a concern about our technicians who clean your yard, every one of our employees is insured, bonded and goes through an extensive pre-employment background check. They also receive training in dog behavior so they will know when Fido doesn’t want her yard cleaned. We provide the highest level of customer service. We know you are inviting us onto your property and that is a trust that we value and will always respect.

Call The DogSmith “Your neighborhood Pet Waste Specialist” Now.
We give you more time in your day to enjoy a cleaner, healthier yard. Spend that extra time relaxing with your family.

Pet Waste is disgusting
It can transmit disease, attracts flies and kills your grass. You love your dog, you hate the waste. You keep the love, we take the ‘yuck’ away leaving your yard clean, sanitized and deodorized.

What We Do
At whatever frequency you desire The DogSmith will come to your home and make your yard pet waste free. Whether you need us biweekly, weekly, bimonthly or monthly we have a plan to fit your budget. Family reunion coming up? We do special cleanups for special events. Did your Houseguests bring their dogs leaving you with too much yuck to handle? We can handle seasonal or short term assignments. No contracts, ever. Sign-up anytime, cancel when you don’t need us. For more specific information about how The DogSmith services your yard go to our service detail page.

Our Code of Conduct
The DogSmith recognizes the high level of trust you place in your Home Service Providers. So that you may never worry or have a concern about our technicians who clean your yard every one of our employees is insured, bonded and goes through an extensive pre-employment background check. They also receive training in dog behavior so they will know when Fido doesn’t want her yard cleaned. The DogSmith provides the highest level of customer service. We know you are inviting us onto your property and that is a trust that we value and will always honor. Learn more about our services

Satisfaction Guaranteed – 100%
If you are dissatisfied with our service we will reimburse you for the visit. We will also come back to your yard within 24 hours to ensure you are satisfied with the quality of the cleaning. You will NOT be charged for either of the visits.

Services & Products
We service both residential and commercial accounts. We sell Install and service Pet Waste Stations. We are a supplier of Poop Tools, Poop Bags and all Pooper Scooper operational equipment at wholesale pricing. We are a locally owned and operated business. We offer accurate and consistent billing. We are a call away from service requests and we guarantee all our services or you do not pay. No contracts start and stop service whenever You please.

Call your local DogSmith today to get a FREE quotation. No service contracts, Reliable Service, Dog Friendly

Read What Our Clients Say

It’s the Bomb I love it I don’t know how we made it this long. Thanks DogSmiths, you saved the family yard!”
Leisa M. – Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

“Thank you for your onsite visit of our resort. We love your recommendations for the location and number of Pet Waste Stations. Please go ahead and order them. I was very hesitant about pushing this Pet Waste Program with our Home Owner Association, thought I was going to land up with dog poop responsibilities on my desk. It’s great to know The DogSmith is there to service them; your prices are also great for the poop-bags. “
Richard – Panama City Beach, Florida

“We can actually smell the beach and water again!”
Heather R. – Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

“We’re very busy, we work a lot. The DogSmith is very, very convenient. They keep the yard nice. I don’t have to worry about stepping in things you shouldn’t be stepping in.”
Kevin H. – Niceville, Florida

“Thank you DogSmith for donating your time at the Humane Society to keep it clean. The Pet Waste Stations are great for the dog walkers. “
Mary S. – Panama City, Florida

The DogSmith, “I would highly recommend them – I can’t say enough. I’ve been around too many people who don’t scoop their yards. It’s a nuisance. It smells bad and it looks bad.”
Katharine H. – Niceville, Florida

“It is so easy now to have a pet friendly rental cottage on 30A. We just call you guys the day before the dog departs and you plan to be here on departure day to clean up the poop. No more complaints from incoming residents. “
Deborah – Seagrove Beach, Florida

“The service is great and I appreciate how well the yard was cleaned, especially the first time.”
Skip J. – Panama City Beach, Florida

“My dog continually had problems with worms; I called my local DogSmith to get a quote for their disinfectant spray. Niki told me that the most important thing was to keep the dog’s environment free of old poop. I don’t have time to pick up regularly so we had The DogSmith come out and do it. With the wormer the vet gave us and our clean yard our dog is now free of round worms. Thanks DogSmith for your advice and your great service.”
Alice E. – Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

The DogSmith MTR Skills Relationship Exercise #4 The Name Game

Exercise #4: Name Game

Goal: To teach your dog to look at you with a happy demeanor when you say its name.

Resources: You will need a treat bag with some soft, moist and yummy treats. You will also need a training partner, spouse, child or friend to help you.

Training Steps

To play the ‘name game,’ take your dog to a quiet place in your home.
Say your dog’s name and when it looks at you say ‘yes’ and give it a treat. Repeat this step 5 times each day for a week.

Play the ‘name game’ with other family members and your dog.
Have each family member, armed with small treats, go to different parts of the house. Then take turns calling your dog’s name. When your dog finds the correct person and makes eye contact, say ‘yes’ and give the dog a treat. Repeat this exercise each day for 3-days.

Now take the ‘name game’ outside. This time when your dog looks at you when it hears its name, say ‘yes’ and pet them for 30 seconds.

Limit the treats to every 5th time your dog makes eye contact when it hears its name.

Watch a short fun video on how to teach your dog to respond positively to there name

NEVER use your dog’s name harshly. Always use your dog’s name in a happy and pleasant manner. Contact your local DogSmith for helping teaching your dog to be a great family pet. For a FREE phone consultation complete this short form