Hello and welcome to our latest newsletter!
Busters Dog Walking Services are really pleased to announce that we've been nominated for an award, and been selected as a finalist! This is really exciting for us, as the award is for Pet Service Business of the Year and the awarding body is the Pet Industry Federation. It's so rewarding to be recognised by industry specialists, out of the thousands of pet sitting companies across the country, for the hard work we do with our customers and their pets.
The award looks at eight different aspects of our business, including Customer Service, Animal Welfare, Innovation and Community Life. We have been asked to send in some examples of each category, plus they are speaking directly to our customers to get their views on how we perform our service.
We have recently launched the first in a new series of e-books which are aimed at professional dog walkers, which is our entry into the 'innovation' category. The books should also be valuable for any dog owner who is looking for a dog walker. Knowing how a professional service should be run will help owners choose a great dog walker for their dog (see more information below).
The award ceremony is in November, part of a two day conference which we will also be attending. We pride ourselves on always being up to date with new products and services, as well as having lots of contacts with other pet businesses, as this enables us to give the best possible service to our customers.
I'm also pleased to announce that I've created and published my first e-book! It’s been an exciting year for us.
Some of you know that I not only train my own dog walking staff, but also independent dog walkers who need help setting up or want to know more about some aspects of running a small business. www.dogwalkertraining.co.uk
I really enjoy doing this, and one of the questions I am asked most often is about setting out t&c that protects both owners and clients alike. I also see dog walkers upset because people aren't paying them for the work they do in good faith, or customers leave without notice leaving them with no work and no money.
So I was inspired to write this book - you will be pleased to know I take my own advice, and have the best clients in the business who value our service as much as we value your custom - but this e-book will help the dog walkers who need a little extra help.
It is the first in a series, I look forward to publishing my next one. Feel free to share if you know someone who might benefit - or if you use a dog walker feel free to have a look to see if they are protecting you and your interests as well as their own.
I have plans for more books, as well as those aimed at dog walkers, there will be books aimed at dog owners, so should be something for everyone. If you have not already 'liked' my Facebook page, please do keep an eye on it, as all books will be announced there as they are launched.
Not every dog is fearful of fireworks, but a large number are, ranging from just being nervous, to being really terrified. If you are worried about your dog, we can offer a behaviour consultation to help see your pet through the firework season – this really needs to be started months in advance to have an effect, so please contact us in the New Year to start if you’d like to start the training ready for next year. In the meantime, here’s our 'Fireworks First Aid' plan for you and your dog.
Create a doggy den/safe haven. Set this up now, so your dog is used to seeing this before the firework season starts. Create a den, either with a crate, or puppy pen, or even a table, and cover it with blankets to make a really cosy area, with one open side (or a small gap, depending on what your dog prefers!). Site this away from windows or external doors. If your dog is really fearful, a room near the middle of the house would be best. Feed them inside, offer them treats and chews inside the den so they begin to see it as a safe place when the noises start – this can be used for thunderstorms too. Duvets will muffle sound even better.
Should you comfort your dog? Dogs do indeed pick up on our emotions, so if you are worried or anxious on your dog's behalf, then your dog may become even more worried than they already were. Stay calm and allow your pet to come to you for reassurance if they choose – just like you'd comfort a child after a nightmare. Even better if you can be in a happy mood, save their favourite food or treats for firework if they are not too fearful to eat.
Keep household noises the same as always, the television or radio can be turned up, curtains can block out flashes and will help muffle sounds. Remember to walk your dog earlier in the day, and bring your cat indoors before it gets dark. Ensure they have a well fitted collar with an identity tag. Even if they are not normally nervous, if they happen to be outside when an unexpected bang goes off they may bolt. Be prepared to stay at home with your pets – you may need to accompany them out to the toilet.
We've been very lucky with the autumn weather, but the winter is coming, it can't be put off forever! We would like to share some of the tips we've learned over the years to keep dogs safe in winter, along with a few of our other furry friends.
The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then?
He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
…and winter can be pretty wretched for your dog, too.
Your dogs need to be walked whatever the weather, including snow. Snowballs can form on long haired dogs and even shorter-haired breeds can gather these on their feet. Some Vaseline between the toes, and keeping long fur trimmed can help prevent the build-up of snowballs, but leave some fur on, as is will help to protect their pads from frozen ground. Snowballs are very painful for your dog to walk on, so if you spot them, take the dog home for a break. Once they have formed they need to be left to melt (hairdryers can help if your dog will tolerate it).
If your dog's fur collects snowballs, they can't be pulled off. They have to melt, so leave your heating on and have plenty of towels ready to warm up your dog and mop up the melted snow.
When there is snow on the ground, small dogs will appreciate a street walk to keep them out of the deepest snow in the park or fields. Of course, you might appreciate doggy daycare for the worst days so your dog can defrost with us where the heating is always on.
Young, elderly, ill or infirm dogs may need a coat when out of doors this winter. Dogs with short coats (Greyhounds or Staffordshire Bull Terriers, for example) would also benefit from a coat. If your dog's ears and paws feel cold, your dog is probably cold. Wind can be particularly chilling.
Older pets should have a soft bed with raised sides to protect them from draughts. Dogs can be long-suffering, so get down on the floor and see how their bed feels. Arthritic pets may need slower, shorter walks. Dogs with short coats living in centrally heated homes don't grow a winter coat in the same way an outdoor dog would. If you turn your heating off at night or while you are out, consider whether your dog might be cold, even indoors and think about getting a separate coat for night times (or 'pyjamas' as Beauty calls her night-time fleece. ;) )
Just like us, cold weather can make little aches and pains feel much worse. How can you tell if your dog is feeling sore? It might lick the same spot a lot, or be slow to get out of bed, or stiff and perhaps a little grumpy if disturbed. Some limps are very subtle and may not be noticed. A trip to the vet could make your pet more comfortable.
It can be just as dangerous to leave a dog in a cold car as a hot one. Make sure your dog is warm enough if you have to leave him for a short while. Keep a coat or a blanket for your dog in the back of your car. If it's a large vehicle, the heating can take some time to warm up the back.
Dogs don't usually need more food in the winter unless they are kept outside, so don't be tempted to give extra food. Outdoor water bowls can ice over, and very cold water is not good for dogs. There is a danger of ice burns to the tongue if the bowl is metal and cold enough, or a ceramic bowl can crack. Float a ball in the water to help prevent icing over, bring the bowl in, or empty it on very cold nights.
Ice and snow usually means the gritting lorries will be out. The salt and other materials can irritate your dog's feet, so you may need to give them a wash when returning from a walk. Try not to let your dogs lick their feet in case they ingest something that could make them ill. If we get heavy snowfall this season, watch out for snow on buildings or trees that might melt and fall – just as your dog is underneath. Check that the height of the snow in the garden doesn't open up an escape route for your dog, or bring down fences.
Dogs (and in particular cats) have a great liking for anti-freeze because it is sweet-tasting. Keep it well away from your pets because it can be fatal, and don't let them drink from puddles where cars may have been parked. Cats have a tendency to climb into warm places in winter, and this includes car engines. Please be aware and try to be sure where your cat is before you drive off.
Rabbits and guinea pigs are often left outside in the winter. Rabbits can deal with this as long as they are not in a draught or getting damp. For guinea pigs it's pure misery! Bring your guinea pigs into a shed or unused garage, and give them – and rabbits – thick newspaper under their bedding to help insulate them. Make sure they have plenty of extra bedding – their sleeping area should have enough hay and straw for them to make a nest. It should reach right up to the top and be changed more frequently. As it gets wet (either rain or urine), it will freeze. Bubble wrap around the hutch is your furry friend's Best Friend. Cable-tie a plant pot to the inside of the hutch and put the water bottle in there (you may need to cut a hole for the spout). Once the hutch is insulated it reduces the risk of the bottle freezing, but keep a spare water bottle to hand to swap them over if one freezes. If you can't get bubble wrap, blankets or a duvet can be used, but only if they are covered by a 100% waterproof cover and water can't creep up from the bottom. Your bunny will suffer if it gets wet.
Beware of inadvertently poisoning your dog. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, although they may be able to tolerate a small amount of milk chocolate. Call the vet if you suspect they have been at the Quality Streets. Cooking chocolate is much worse, so watch out when chocolate cakes are around. Mistletoe, and in particular the berries, is highly toxic, so make sure they are hung up carefully and can't be pulled down by the dogs. Clear up fallen berries before your dog does.
Don't forget to spend time with your pets, even if it is cold and dark outside!
© 2015 Busters Dog Walking Services.