5 Important Tips to Caring for Senior Dogs


We love our pups… and as they age, sometimes it gets more difficult to understand their changing needs. Many pet parents struggle with the realization that their dog is getting older. But it’s important to recognize the signs of aging and take measures to ensure your dog’s quality of life doesn’t change. Here are some things you can do.


Good nutrition is important at every age, but, feeding your pet the proper nutrition in their senior years is critical to keeping them active and playful.

Do your research. There is a lot of good dog food brands out there… but… there is also a lot of garbage. Feed your dogs like you would feed yourself. Stick to food with the least amount of “filler” ingredients, preservatives and artificial ingredients. Focus on quality protein and wholesome ingredients. Consider issues your pet may have such as joint mobility issues or allergies, and seek out a food that can help. Also talk with your vet about the type of diet your dog needs. Your vet can make recommendations about quality brands, ingredients or special formulas your senior dog needs to thrive.


Your dog may be slowing down but that doesn’t mean he should spend his days curled up on the couch. Exercise is critical to keeping your dog healthy, both physically and mentally. Your dog may not be able to go on long hikes with you but shorter, less strenuous walks will keep him feeling good.

Exercise also helps to keep your pet youthful. Keeping a pet lean as they age is one of the most important factors in preventing health issues. Extra pounds on older dogs means more stress on their body, including joints and internal organs. If you feel your dog needs to shed a few pounds, talk with your veterinarian about a weight loss and exercise plan.

Happy Tails can help if you feel your dog would benefit from an extra walk during the day.
We offer mid day dog walking and play visits that will fit your schedule and keep your pup healthy!


A lot can happen in between vet visits. Senior dogs should see their vets at least every six months for a check up. Many diseases and health issues, if caught early enough, can be treated.

Ask your vet about common issues specific to your dog’s breed, like predisposition to kidney or heart problems, diabetes or severe arthritis. Find out what the early warning signs might be so you can be on the lookout. This is also a good time to check in regarding your dog’s diet and exercise routine as well.


Regular dental care is important throughout your pet’s life but especially for seniors. Dr. Fred Metzger, veterinarian and contributor to the Caring For Your Senior Dog report, says, “older dogs and cats with neglected teeth are time bombs ticking.” The report explains how tartar build up can cause gingivitis, which can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on your dog’s organs.

A great way to contribute to your senior dog’s good health is to keep his teeth and gums in tip top shape with regular at-home brushing and yearly professional cleanings by your vet.

As they age, our dogs need our care and attention even more. It’s up to us to monitor their health and take measures to keep our pets as healthy and happy as possible in their senior years.

Happy Tails is committed to keeping your senior pet – and ALL your pets – happy and healthy!
Its our top priority, and we are there for you.

14 Things To Do Instead of Being Frustrated With Your Dog

Article by Lucy Bennett, for positively.com


When I wrote about what you can do to help your reactive dog this holiday season, there was a question on Facebook that really stuck with me: how do we help pet parents relax? Living and working with a reactive dog can be stressful. Sometimes, when training is going rough or I’m trying to work through a particularly difficult walk, that frustration can build to the point where I feel I might just explode if I don’t do something.

But you know what that something should never, ever be? Yelling or hitting your dog. It’s a human reaction to vent your frustration towards its “cause” aka your dog’s reactions, but doing so will never help you or your dog overcome your training obstacles. Usually, it will only make things worse. Instead of letting boiling over, here are 14 ways to relieve and manage your own training frustrations.


There a times when a dog’s behavior feels like it goes from zero to bad in seconds, and it’s important not to let your own temper follow suit. This is my challenge on walks when we’re confronted with a dog that’s unleashed—Topher and I walk only in places where there are posted leash requirements, but those rules are constantly being broken. Not only is it dangerous and frustrating, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

In these moments it’s critical that I don’t let my temper get the best of me, because my dog is going to associate that anger and negative energy with being introduced to stranger dogs. The solution? Rather than fume, I count as I remove my dog and I from the situation. I count to ten. I count to thirty. I count to one hundred if I have to. I count until we’re back in a safe space and I feel I can continue our walk without anger or pent-up frustration—at the stranger, their dog, or mine.


While we’re counting and moving ourselves into a safer place, I’m also taking deep breaths. A natural response to stress is to tense up, but if you want your dog to return to being relaxed, you’ve got to return to that relaxed state too! Breath deeply as you count, until you don’t feel like a rubber band that’s ready to snap. Sometimes I also take a moment to stretch or sit down.


Letting go of those prior incidents or frustrations is just as important as physically relaxing. Choose not to stew on whatever failures have come your way, and instead find a new, positive focus. Think about how nice the weather is, or queue up a fun song on your phone to listen to, it’s up to you. Usually your dog has already bounced back to their happy selves after their trigger has been removed, so take a page out of their playbook and return to the now.


You may not think it’s true, but you have triggers just like a reactive dog. I get very tense when I see a loose dog, even when I am in control of the situation, or we’re separated by a fence. It’s something that takes me right back to when Topher and I were attacked, so I have to work hard not to let the sight of a loose dog send me straight into “flight” mode. Talk to your trainer about your own triggers, and how to work through those scenarios. Having a specific set of cues for you to follow reduces your own triggered reaction, in addition to helping you train your dog.


When out and about with a reactive dog, it can be easy to get angry at those things we have little control over. We can’t control who else is going to head to the park today, or how their dogs are feeling. We can’t control the volume of the trucks that may go by, or the squirrels that may dart in front of us. Yet, it’s easy to get bent out of shape by these occurrences because of the impact they have on us, but in the end, it’s not worth it.

Instead of letting a lack of control over your environment work you up, try to prepare the actions you’ll take when these uncontrolled events occur: whether you’ll try passing another dog while walking, or how you might redirect your dog away from chasing a squirrel. When you take time to think about how you’ll react and train while you’re out and about, you’ll always be setting yourself up for a greater level of success.


It’s often said that most dog training problems arise with the owner, not necessarily the dog. However, that doesn’t mean beating yourself up for every error or misstep. Be gentle with yourself; after all, you’re learning new things too. It takes time.


This is a really great exercise for any of life’s little frustrations. When that latest outburst on a walk or a round of window barking is threatening to derail your good day, step back and think: will you remember this episode in a day? What about in a week, a month, or a year? In the grand scheme of things, the frustrations that are trying to ruin your day will be some of the easiest things to forget over time. Don’t waste any energy keeping those frustrated feelings around: let them roll off your back, like water off a duck.


What happens when you keep all that frustration locked in your own head? Usually: you stew about those issues until you finally snap. If possible, talk to a professional trainer about the problems you’re having with your dog, and look for productive solutions that can help you move forward. However, if you can’t talk to a professional, at the very least vent to a friend. Your dog won’t find out, I promise.


While there are some moments, minutes, or even hours with your dog that can be hard and frustrating, there are probably way more moments with your dog that are positive, happy, and even carefree. Live in the happy moments, acknowledging and savoring them. Studies have actually shown that being present in the moment contributes to your enjoyment of that moment!


Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t magically cure an anxious, reactive, or otherwise sensitive dog in 24 hours either. Usually, working with these animals is a long term decision, and takes a lot of positive reinforcement along the way. Understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and set your goals and expectations accordingly.


While you’re on that marathon, make your own milestones to keep you going. Celebrate the first time, or every time, you and your dog pass another dog without any poor reactions. Or, if you’ve had a rough day, work on some well known cues to give your dog some small successes to end their day. Make your own success, and reward as you make progress, whatever that ends up looking like.


Speaking of progress, you can’t celebrate if you don’t know where you are and where you’re going. We like to set mini goals for every season, to give us things to shoot for and things to celebrate, even if the bigger picture looks a little rough now and then.


If all else fails, you have my permission to scream, kick, and punch your way to feeling better. Just as long as you direct that energy towards things like pillows and punching bags, and not people or animals. If kickboxing or screaming to loud music isn’t your style, try some other cardio—get yourself moving, and make yourself good and tired. That frustrated energy will drain away, and you’ll have gotten a good workout out of it.


It’s perfectly healthy spend a little time without your dog. As a remote employee, I do all my work from my house. This means I spend the majority of my waking hours around our animals—Topher and our two cats. By no means is this a bad thing! Topher makes great work company most of the time, and it’s fun to be able to take a break to play outside with him.

However, sometimes I just need a little time for myself, free from any demands on my attention—and that includes the loving demands of my pets. So take a walk on your own every once in awhile, or let your pup spend some time at daycare or hire a dog walker, if that’s an option. If it helps keep you sane and stress-free, that’s going to help your dog, too.

So when tensions are high and you’re frustrated with your pets, what do you do to calm back down?
If you need a break for yourself, or feel your dog will benefit from more exercise or a good walk during the day, Happy Tails can help you cultivate a better relationship with your dog!

The Most Common Questions Dog Walkers Get Asked

We are in the business of answering questions, and we get a lot of them about walking dogs.

We happen to have the words “pet sitting” and “animal care” in our company name.  So what exactly does that mean?  Well, it covers quite a lot, including… pet sitting visits in your home, puppy potty breaks, horse and farm animal care, overnight care, and… DOG WALKING!   We are a multi service, multi-talented group of professional pet care providers!  In addition to pet sitting, we love to get your dogs out walking in local parks and around your neighborhood.  Because a walked dog is a happy dog and a happy dog means a happy you!

Here are some of the most common questions we get about walking dogs:


These 2 titles are interchangeable but do have subtle differences.  Typically a dog walker comes once (maybe twice) a day while you are at work, at school, taking in a dinner and a show or a night on the town.  We come in, walk your dog or let them out in the yard for a potty break and some play time.  We refresh their water dish, feed them if you need us to, give a final belly rub and see them the next time you need us.

A pet sitter is the term used more for when you go on an extended vacation and we take care of your animals for the duration of your trip.  We can come as many as 4 times a day to walk your dogs, take care of all feedings and any medications, we can even spend the night in your home so your pet doesn’t get lonely.  Pet sitters are responsible for multiple species of animals as well.

Can a pet sitter be a dog walker?  Yes.  Can a dog walker be a pet sitter?  Yes.   “Pet sitting” in our company name does not limit us to just clients who are going on vacation.  We would be happy to keep your pets company if you have a late meeting, a long commute to Manhattan, or whatever your day has in store for you.


Yes.  Our limit to walking dogs on leash is 3.  We have walked more than that on occasion, but when it comes to the safety of our staff and your dogs, we want to keep it at a reasonable number.


The Millbrook/Pleasant Valley area has some great parks and quiet areas to walk dogs.  We will talk to you at your Meet-n-Greet consultation about where the best place to walk around your home is.  We do stick close to your home and will not pick up your dog and drive too far, but if you happen to live close to a park or hiking trails, we can walk your dogs there.


I have to say that 80% or more of the dogs we have walked pull to some degree.  We’ll talk to you about how much they pull…  is it just at the beginning of the walk when they are excited? Is it just when they see a squirrel?  What kind of leash/collar/harness do you use to help decrease the amount of pulling?  We will take all of that information into account when deciding which of our walkers would be best suited and the safest choice to walk your dogs.  If they are absolutely horrible and have dislocated your shoulder or literally pulled someone to the ground – we’ll stick with the yard and throw the ball around for them.  We don’t want to endanger ourselves or your dogs.


Our dog walking rates start at $23 for an average 30 minute visit.  Depending on where you live, how many dogs you have, if they need a longer walk, or if you have other home requirements while we are there, the rate may be adjusted. Or you may require a longer visit in order for us to give your dog(s) a proper walk, and take care of anything else you may need. We offer a 60 minute visit starting at $35.  80% of our daily walkers are at the rate of $23.


Yes.  If you have a long commute to work Monday – Friday, or if you work from home every Tuesday, we don’t have to come on that day.  We don’t have a maximum or a minimum.  We can come as many times a week as your pups need.  You may need us if:

  • Your pups will be inside without access to a potty place for more than 6-8 hours.
  • You recently had surgery and/or a medical condition that prevents you from walking your dog.
  • You are too busy with your family and the dog has been getting left out of the loop
  • You are a senior and may be able to walk when the weather is nice, but you are nervous about slipping on the ice/snow.


We certainly can. We provide a supply of poop bags to all of our staff and I know that I have multiple rolls in every corner of my car.  Some clients have their own bags, some don’t.  We’ll come prepared no matter what. While I also have an extra leash in my car, I don’t think I have ever used it for a regular client. If your dog has a harness, a slip lead, a martingale – we want to use what the dog walks best on and is most familiar with.


We don’t like meeting other dogs while we are walking either.   Even if your pup is friendly and likes to say hello, there is too much risk encountering a dog (and owner) that we don’t know.  We want to keep your pup as safe as possible while entrusted in our care.  Some dogs I know are what I call “exuberant greeters” and get very excited, which is just as much of an issue of a dog that may be shy/nervous.  When we see another dog about to cross our path, we either walk wide to the side, cross to an adjacent sidewalk, or step off the path and put the dog in a sit until the other dog passes.

This is another issue we will cover in the free consultation before we even take our first walk with your dog.


We encourage our staff to silence their phones when they are walking a dog but there are instances where we would need to answer our phone or check text messages:

  • We answer calls and texts from currently traveling clients.
  • We answer calls from our children’s school
  • We take and text pictures to the owners of the dogs we are walking

We do not answer calls from friends who are looking to make dinner plans.


Unless you ask us not to, we will 100% still come.  At the very minimum we will get your pup out for a potty break and then decide how long/short the walk needs to be.  We take into consideration several factors when making a decision based on the weather:

  • What breed of dog do you have?  Long hair?  Short hair?  Big? Little?
  • What is the actual weather doing at your house?  If you’ve lived in in the Northeast for any amount of time you know it could be pouring at your home but dry half a mile away.
  • Will your dog suffer any health consequences by going for a walk?  Short nose dogs (Pugs, Frenchie’s, Bull Dog’s) have a tough time breathing on a good day, extreme heat makes it even more difficult for them.
  • Will our staff experience any health consequences by going for a walk?  We don’t want anyone overheating!
  • What are the winter conditions? Is there a great deal of ice or snow which will make walking outside of your yard too difficult? Extreme ice especially, is hazardous to both your pets, and our walkers. We will make a judgement call and adjust our walks as needed.
  • What is the wind chill?  It can be sunny and snowing and we can have a great walk, or the wind can be whipping and freeze our cheek’s and your pups paws in an instant.



Do I Need An Overnight Pet Sitter For My Animals?

Are you planning an epic vacation that has been on your bucket list for as long as you can remember? Do you have an important business trip that will take you away for an extended period of time? Have you considered what to do with your pets while you are gone? They will need daily care and attention, and extra love while you are away. Do they get lonely, or need special care, or just not like to be alone at night? You can ensure their health and happiness while you are away, with a pet sitter who can spend the night in your home!

There are 4 main reasons clients ask us to stay overnight with their pets:

  1. MEDICAL REASONS: If your pet has any medical issues that require them to have relatively frequent medication and/or supervision, you need the pet sitter to stay in your home. Overnight sitters are the best option for pets with medical issues such as seizures/epiliepsy, heart conditions, diabetes, cancer, or any conditions in which special care and/or medications need to be administered at specific times.  Many times these pets need extra help with late or early potty breaks, and to ensure their comfort throughout the night.
  2. ENDS OF THE AGE SPECTRUM: If you have a young puppy or an older dog who may need to go outside to the bathroom more frequently, we suggest having an overnight pet sitter.  A puppy can’t hold it for 10-12 hours and shouldn’t be expected to.  An older dog has a dignity factor coming into play and does not want to go in the house, don’t make him.  We all know how uncomfortable a full bladder is and many of us often have to get up in the middle of the night ourselves!
  3. SEPARATION ANXIETY: If your pets are used to having you home and get upset when you are not there, if they sleep with you on your bed – then it would be better for them to have someone there to cuddle with.  The goal of any professional pet sitter should be to keep your pets as comfortable and as stress free as possible while you are away.  If that means sleeping in a queen size bed with three 80lb Golden Retrievers, then that’s what we’ll do!
  4. PEACE OF MIND:  If none of the above scenarios can be applied to your situation but you still want someone to remain in your home with your animals, it is definitely worth the peace of mind to have a pet sitter spend the night.  The safety of your pets and your home is our first priority. You will rest assured knowing someone is there to give them extra love and attention, to take them for a morning walk, for the simple company of having someone share the couch with them.  Remember, you’re on your epic trip – don’t waste it worrying about your fur kids at home!  You’re not being over protective, you’re not being over-the-top, you are making sure they have the care and attention they deserve!  And overnight care is not just for dogs. We do get calls to sleep in homes with just cats – they are not all as independent as you would think!

Your pets are part of your family. You can ensure that their special needs will be met, and they are cared for and loved while you are away. The cost of hiring a professional pet sitter to stay in your home, give care, love and attention to your animals, so you can return to a happy, healthy pet?  PRICELESS!

How Much Does A Pet Sitter Cost in Pleasant Valley?

dog holding a purse with dollars in its mouth. isolated on white

Honestly? It depends. There are several things to consider when choosing the ideal pet sitter. First, where did you find your pet sitter? Care.com? Craigslist? Your neighbor’s teenage daughter? Bribe a friend? “Hobby sitters” such as these will probably be cheaper, but as the old saying goes… “You get what you pay for.”  Consider this… the pet sitter you choose will have access to your home. They will be responsible for the lives and well-being of your beloved pets, your furry family members.

So perhaps you need to consider “How much does a trustworthy, reliable, professional pet sitter cost?” Again… it still depends. To give you an accurate price, a professional pet sitter will usually consider the following:

  • How many and what types of pets do you have?
    Cage pets and fish may take less time to care for than a house full of dogs and cats. ( Some may take longer! Have you ever cleaned a habitat with 5 guinea pigs?? Or a saltwater fish tank?? ) Do you have 7 cats and 5 litter boxes in 3 different locations in your home? Four dogs who all get freshly prepared food with supplements and need to be walked separately? While some pet sitters may have a one-price, all inclusive rate, at Happy Tails Pet Sitting, we consider the number and types of animals, and the time necessary to give your pets the best possible professional loving care, and quote a rate based on that. This is our passion, our profession, and your pets are our top priority.  Would you hire your neighbor’s teen to repair your car or rewire your home?
  • Experience and knowledge… it is worth every penny.
    If cost is your only priority, then you are not going to get an experienced professional. Many people think pet sitting is easy, its just feeding and playing with pets. But think about this… does your pet sitter know the signs that a cat is going into diabetic shock?  Do they know how to test glucose or give an insulin injection? Or when NOT to give an insulin injection? Can they identify a dog that is bloating? (Do you know what bloat is? Or that is can be fatal in hours?) Can they treat a wound on a dog or horse? Or pill a cat? If your pet sitter gives you a blank stare when asked these questions… you should look for a new pet sitter.
  • The care your pets get matters.
    A professional pet sitter’s job is to focus solely on your pets. Not text their friends while your dogs wander around your yard for 10 minutes and perhaps out the open gate they didn’t check. If your dogs need to be walked, we walk them. If your cat needs meds every 12 hours, they will get their meds every 12 hours. SubQ fluids? Done. Special medical or nutritional needs? Easy. Litter boxes are cleaned EVERY VISIT. One visit a day or 4? Overnight care? We do it all. We leave visit notes or send text updates every day. We value and encourage open communication with our clients regarding their pets. Your notes and instructions are welcome and encouraged. The more we know about your pets, the better care we are able to provide. A page of notes for each of your 4 dogs? No problem!  Happy Tails pet sitters have pet first aid and veterinary tech experience. We have cared for pets with diabetes, Cushings, seizure disorders, kidney disease and more. We can give oral meds, Sub Q and IM injections, SubQ fluids, provide specialized care for rescues/rehabs, injuries, post surgical and hospice care. Can your neighbor’s kid offer that?
  • A few other things to consider….
    Where do you live in relation to your pet sitter?  Are you a few streets away, or a few towns away?  Most professional pet sitters have a specific service area, and take mileage into account when determining prices. Is your pet sitter insured and bonded?  Do they have an emergency plan in case of accidents, or backup sitters if they are sick?

All of the above factors contribute to how much a pet sitter may cost.  Another way to look at the same question is “How much should I pay a pet sitter”?  The national average is $20-25 per pet sit and $65-90 for an overnight. Remember, this person will have access to your home, will have your house key, your alarm code, and they will be responsible for your living, breathing, furry family members.

How much would you pay for peace of mind?


How to Get a Last Minute Pet Sitter

**A Guest Blog from Laura Capra of Keep Me Company Pet Sitting, Longmont, CO**

We’ve all been there – something comes up last minute and the scrambling begins to get it all done because always, whatever comes up last minute is THE-MOST-AWESOME-THING-EVER-THAT-IS-GOING-TO-BE-EPIC!  Like a ski weekend with friends, or a free ticket to Vegas, or a dinner date, or a promotion party, or a new shampoo that you want to try – whatever it is, you are SO THERE!!!  But wait, you have pets that will need to be fed and let out for potty breaks and given their kibble-yum-yums at 9:10 before they get sung to sleep by your wonderful pet sitter – OMG, you need to call your pet sitter NOW because you need them to come to your house in like, 3 hours because you have some awesomeness to attend to.  Here are tips on how to ensure a pet sitter answers you call and agrees to your last minute request.  Because you never know, they may be out on some awesomeness of their own.

1) Call.  Don’t text, don’t email – do it the old fashioned way and call them.

2) Be gracious and respectful, and if you can be, be a little apologetic – you want them to drop their own plans so they can help you out.  Let me repeat that – they are HELPING YOU OUT.  Yes, it is their business to take care of pets and we all want to grow our business.  But do you call Kohl’s an hour after they’ve closed and say “OMG I’m going on a trip and I REALLY REALLY need this pair of pants before I go!  I’ll be there in 10 minutes if you could just open the doors, I’ll be so quick about it”.  NO, you don’t because that would be rude.  Don’t be rude.  Ever. No one likes a pain in the ass.

3) ASK if they can help vs ASSUMING they can help.  ”Something came up and I was hoping you are available this weekend to take care of Fluffy and BamBam.  I’d really appreciate it, if you need to adjust the times you visit that’s ok, I can be flexible because I know it’s last minute and I’m sure you are very busy.  You come highly recommended and I’d really like to use your services” vs“I got a last minute invite to the beach house this weekend, I’m at the liquor store picking up some beer and wine, man it’s going to be epic.  I left the key under the mat for you, I just have cats so they’re easy and you don’t have to meet them.  I’ll pay you when I get back”.

4) DON’T QUIBBLE ABOUT THE PRICE.  If you call a reputable pet sitter and question their prices, they are not going to want to help you out.  You don’t quibble about the price of the Kohl’s pants, it’s rude.  Remember, you’re the one going away last minute, you’re the one who needs help.  Either the price is right for you or it isn’t.  If it isn’t, say thank you and hang up and call someone else.  But good luck because you’re in the final countdown, your beach is calling.

5) The easiest way to get a last minute pet sitter is to avoid needing one in the first place. PLAN AHEAD.  Now, I’m all for spontaneous weekends and traffic jams and things that come up; BUT if you call me on Thursday and tell me your plane leaves on Saturday morning and you need a pet sitter for a week – I KNOW YOU’VE HAD THOSE PLANE TICKETS FOR WEEKS!!!!  I KNOW!  Thanksgiving is coming up and guess what – THEY PRE-PRINT IT ON EVERY SINGLE CALENDAR – so you really have no excuse for not planning ahead when it comes to holidays.  Christmas is always on December 25th.  Call  today for your reservation.


If you do all of the above, and most of them boil down to common respect and courtesy you’re pet sitter should say the 5 words your longing to hear “It would be my pleasure”.

4 Ways to Keep Dog Walks Fun in Millbrook

Is Walking the Dog Becoming a Drag??


Have you ever had a dog that just doesn’t want to walk on leash? You know them… no matter how much coaxing, tugging, and sweet talk you try, it just does nothing to move them along.  Dogs are supposed to love walks! They are supposed to jump at the sight of the leash, and bound toward the door. Well, we all know that isn’t always the case.  Some dogs just lose interest, or get bored.  So, what can you do to encourage a less than enthusiastic dog to enjoy their walks?

Make it fun!
What really motivates your dog? Does your pup have a special toy? Try bringing a favorite ball or squeaky toy along with you on your walks. Turn your walks into a game or a play session. If  you are near a park or grassy area, stop there for a few minutes and engage your dog in some fun!  Make your walks a pathway to playtime.

Treats….  (AKA bribery!)
Most dogs are pretty food motivated. There are  a great selection of healthy treats for our dogs these days. Find one your pup really likes, and take a pocketful with you. Buy small training treats, or break larger treats into small bites. When your dog lags, offer a treat with a happy excited voice, urging them forward. Make your pup work for the treat too, with a sit, or a shake, whatever engages them and keeps their attention.

Walk with a buddy.
Find a friend to go on your walks with you!  The company of another dog, especially an active, playful pup, is a great motivator and mood enhancer for the more lackadaisical dog.  Its also a great way to socialize (for both dog and human!), and fun for everyone involved.  While you are at it, take a hike to the park and play a game with your new buddies!

Mix it up a bit.
We are lucky here in the Millbrook area, to have so many beautiful places to walk. There are hunt trails, wooded paths, beautiful meadows, ponds and parks.  Make it a point to mix up your walking routes. A hike down wooded trails or around a lake is always more interesting for everyone than a boring walk down a paved street. New sights, sounds and smells with usually perk up your pooch!  Drive there if you have to.

Finally, remember, as your pup ages, he will slow down. Always take into consideration your dog’s health and wellbeing. Be aware of changes in demeanor, watch for signs of stiffness that advancing age may bring on. Don’t push your pup further than they are physically able. Bring water with you on longer walks or in warmer temps. Rest when you need to.  Keep these tips in mind, and both you and your pup will be blazing new trails, and loving your walks again in no time.

Don’t forget, Happy Tails is always available to give your pup a mid day walk!   Call Us Anytime!

Happy Walking!!


So You Have A New Puppy… Now What?

You have finally brought your new puppy home, and there is so much to consider! You want to give your puppy every opportunity for success, right?  Puppy pet visits offer many benefits for new puppy owners. Here are a few things that can help you and your puppy on to success.


Consistency is Key

Your pet sitter will help you maintain a consistent schedule for your new puppy. Being very consistent with potty breaks is the key to easy house training of your new puppy. Puppies are just like babies… they need many diaper changes! Since puppies don’t wear diapers, but still need to “go” very often, the most important aspect of house training is a consistent schedule. Puppies need to go out for potty several times a day. The younger they are, and the smaller the breed, the more often they need to go. Pups ages 2-4 months simply don’t have the bladder control and often need potty breaks every 2 or 3 hours. As pups get older they can hold it longer. But setting a regular schedule from day one will teach your puppy quicker and make your job easier.

3 Square Meals

Most veterinarians and breeders recommended that for the first 6 months, puppies do best with smaller meals offered more often through the day. A typical schedule is 3 meals – breakfast, mid day, and dinner. This becomes an important part of your schedule with potty training also, as young puppies will usually need a bathroom break within 15 minutes of eating/drinking. With our mid day puppy visits, your puppy can get his meal, and you will get help with house training, as the sitter will be there to take him out after he eats.

A Den of Their Own

To crate, or not to crate… that is the question. Though you will find opinions on both sides, there really are many benefits to crate training your puppy. For one, it is one of the best ways to house train a puppy, because dogs have a strong instinct to not relieve themselves in their “den”. The crate will help you maintain the ever important consistent schedule for your puppy. Crate training teaches the puppy that they have a safe, quiet place of their own where they can go to whenever they want. The crate becomes a peaceful, private den for your adult dog. It also offers puppy owners peace of mind that their teething pups are not destroying their furniture and possessions. A mid day puppy visit will make sure your pup gets productive time out of the crate, while helping keep to a consistent schedule.

Puppy Life Lessons

Puppies are very quick learners. Its best to start early teaching your puppy basic obedience, manners and boundaries. Start with short 5-10 minute sessions to keep your puppy’s attention and retention. Your pet sitter is a great source of assistance when teaching a puppy basic manners. We can help with beginning obedience, working with your new puppy on things such as “sit”, “wait”, “down”, “come”, as well as helping your puppy learn proper leash walking manners. We will work with you on other puppy issues such as chewing, nipping or rough play, and barking. Every pet owner benefits from a strong network of professionals to guide them on their path of raising a balanced, happy and well behaved dog, and your pet sitter is an integral part of that network.

The Social Network

The greatest thing you can do to raise a good canine citizen is offer your puppy plenty of opportunity for socialization. Puppy obedience classes are one great way. Another is if you and your sitter walk your puppy regularly and in different areas, so he sees and experiences a variety of new things every week. Walking puppies exposes them to neighbors, delivery people, other dogs and even cats, vehicles, and much more. Each of these can be a wonderful and positive learning experience for your puppy, as they come to accept a variety of sights, sounds, and situations as simply part of their normal day.

Raising a puppy is great fun, but it is also a great responsibility and quite a lot of work. With the help of your pet sitter, you can guide your puppy down the proper path to becoming a loving, happy and obedient adult dog.

The 5 Worst Things About Being a Pet Sitter in Millbrook

I absolutely love my job. After all, I spend a good part of my day caring for, walking, and playing with dogs, cats, and a variety of other furred and feathered critters. But there are things about being a pet sitter in Millbrook that are not so great. Some are downright depressing….

girl holding a dog

For instance:

1. We fall in love with your pets.

I love meeting new pets, and I love meeting new clients. Often, though, the Meet-n-Greet is the only time we will see a client, and any further contact is usually by phone or email. The sitters and I get to see your pets much more often, which poses the distinct problem of growing very attached to your fur kids. We feel blessed we are able to care for so many pets every week. The more time we spend with them, the more funny, sweet, crazy things we learn about them. At Happy Tails, we are all endeared to your babies as much as we are to our own, and it makes us sad that we cannot bring them all home with us. And I used to think that being a pet sitter in Millbrook was all kitten and puppy kisses…. *sigh*

2. Visits with your pets go by too quickly.

Our pet sitting visits normally average about 30 minutes. When you love a fur baby like we love yours, that isn’t a lot of time to get our fix! Upon arrival at your home, first thing we do is take the pup(s) out for a potty break. Kitties get a litter box check. Then we have a fun play session, followed by a meal or snack as appropriate. Finally, we perform complimentary home services like bring in mail, water plants, and check the house to ensure all is well. Though we are always happy to do this for our wonderful clients, what we really want to do is hang with your awesome fur kids! We just want to get down and roll around with them, give belly rubs and laugh at their silly antics. But alas, we can’t stay with them all day… 🙁

3. Your fur kids may not miss you as much.

Well, of course they miss you when you are gone. But…. when we come to visit, they have so much fun and get so much lovin’ that they might just forget that they miss you! Our goal as your pet sitter is this… to make your pets forget that your aren’t home… at least while we are there. We know that if your pups get exercise, your kitties get attention, and everyone gets loving care when you are away, they will all be happier, stress-free, and won’t dwell on your not being there as much. But don’t worry, they will still love you when you get home.

4. We miss your pets when we don’t see them.

After so many years of pet sitting, I have amassed a large volume of personal photos and videos of my clients’ pets. I often go through them, remembering all the fun I have with your fur kids, which makes me smile every time, and laugh out loud almost as often. I’m very grateful to be able to love so many wonderful critters, and at Happy Tails, we all consider your pets part of our extended pet family. We see some pets fairly regularly, others only a few times a year. When we don’t see your pet kids, we really do miss them! We think about them often, share stories about them, look through our pics, and happily await your next call to schedule visits so we can see your critters again. It means adding more pics to the photo album, and a few more smiles to share.

5. You miss out on some great fun!

I know… you are likely on a great vacation, or somewhere exciting for business, and most of the time we would love to be there too. But boy, you miss some fun back here when you are gone. When we visit your pets, they get our complete, undivided attention. Our mission is to have them running, playing, and rolling in the grass. So we run, play, and roll in the grass with them! We get down on the floor, play ball, toss mouse toys and shake feathers on a stick. We play fetch, frisbee, tug-o-war, and basically become your pets best playmate. Sometimes we even send you a video so you can see what you’re missing!

Fleas… oh the horror!

We love our pets, and we give them the best care we can. Sometimes though, things happen. Getting rid of fleas can be a nightmare! Especially when you have multiple animals in your home. It takes vigilance, and a good preventative program. Obviously, we all know about topicals like Frontline and Advantage. As much as we hate to put chemicals on our pets, there aren’t a lot of other options to keep ticks and fleas off our much-loved animals. But there are some alternative and natural treatments that can help too.

kitten in the grass

First though, the best offense, as they say, is a good defense. Once fleas get into your home, they can be incredibly difficult to get rid of. So the best plan is to keep them from getting there. Keep a close eye on your pets, especially after being outside for any length of time. Bathe them and groom them once or twice a month – not more or the natural oils of their coats will strip away –  feeling over their bodies for any bumps or bites. Get a flea comb and once or twice a week, run it over each pet, checking for any flea “dirt”. If any signs are present, bathe with a flea shampoo. If you use a topical, apply it regularly each month, especially in the spring/summer months. Mark reminders on your phone or other calendar so as not to forget to apply.

Check your pets bedding regularly, and wash it weekly. Fleas lay their eggs in bedding, and in areas where pets spend a lot of time. Fleas will not survive a trip through the washing machine. If you have hardwood floors, sweep them every few days. Carpeting can be more difficult to deal with a flea issue, but regular vacuuming will help.  Shampooing and/or steam cleaning can also help, but there are mixed views on this, as fleas thrive in warm/moist environments. The best method is to keep floors clear and pet bedding washed.

There are sprays and topicals which can be used on pets, and also sprays designed for home use, on bedding, fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. Of course, the chemicals in these products are not always pleasant, and sprays can leave a residue. These produts all contain pesticides, so be extremely cautious with their use. Do not use them anywhere near food prep areas. And honestly, many pets do have reactions to them.

An alternative, popular – and non-chemical – treatment, is Diatomaceous Earth. DE is a naturally occurring, soft, silica type sedimentary rock, that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. DE is safe to use on pets and around your home. It can even be ingested by animals and humans. It is often fed to livestock to kill internal parasites. To use DE to get rid of fleas in your home, make sure you get food grade diatomaceous earth. You can purchase it at garden stores, and livestock feed stores for about $10-$15 for a 20lb bag. First thoroughly clean/sweep/vacuum all floors and bedding areas. Then spread a fine layer of DE on your floors wherever pet bedding is down, in corners, under furniture, and anywhere that is not easily reached by a broom or vacuum cleaner. DE can be put directly on your pet’s bedding. It can also be safely used directly on your pets. Rub it into their coats, down to the skin, similarly as you would flea powder. DE is a very fine powder. Be very careful that you or your pets not inhale it, and be careful not to get it in your pets eyes, ears or mouth. DE will kill fleas in 48-72 hours. You can leave a fine layer down indefinitely, as it will continue to work to rid the area of fleas. You can reapply on pets 2 or 3 times, every 3 days until the fleas are gone.

There are many options out there for controlling fleas. Choose carefully, and always do the best for your pets!