Halloween Safety Tips


By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Halloween is just around the corner. I was never a fan, but I have a new love of the holiday since moving to our house. We enjoyed our first Halloween in our new house last year and I loved every minute of it. My husband took our daughter out for her first trick-or-treating (she was Princess Leia) and I stayed home to pass out candy. I loved seeing all the kids in their adorable costumes.

We were dog sitting my parent’s dog, Dolly, during Halloween. When we lived in Chicago, we lived in a condo and didn’t get trick-or-treaters, so I never had to worry about how our dog, Bailey, would react to visitors. Still, I know that Halloween is a stressful day for dogs and I was prepared for having a dog on this hectic holiday.

Dolly isn’t crate trained, so I had some gates set up away from our entryway so she couldn’t get out. I set up a nice little spot for her to relax and hang out. Well, my plans didn’t go very well. Dolly was very stressed and barked the entire time. Shortly after trick-or-treating began, I knew I would have to change up my plan. I quickly set up a safe zone for her upstairs where she wouldn’t hear the doorbell and feel stressed by all the visitors. She was already pretty worked up, so it took her some time to calm down.

Halloween is a lot of fun for humans, but not so fun for our four-legged friends.

It’s scary seeing everyone dressed up in weird costumes, some with extra-scary masks. So below are some tips to help your dog survive this festive holiday.

Keep your dog at home. I know, I know. You have the perfect costume planned for your dog and you want to show it off. Instead, take some photos of them to show off to all of your friends and save your dog the stress. Dogs don’t enjoy being out on such a busy day with “funny looking” people.

Give your dog a safe place to be at home. This is when a crate comes in very handy. Set the crate in a place that is out of the way, give your dog a Kong filled with his favorite treats and let them relax. They don’t need to participate in all of the events of the night. They would be much happier on their own.

If you don’t have a crate, set up a spot in a room such as a bathroom or laundry room. Put their bed in there, give them a Kong and put a baby gate up.

Keep your dog away from the door. It is important to keep your dog away from the door, both for their comfort and for the safety of the trick-or-treaters. Not everyone enjoys coming to someone’s door just to be greeted with an over-enthusiastic dog. It can be quite frightening for kids. I don’t care how friendly your dog is, it isn’t fair to little trick-or-treaters to feel uncomfortable on their special night.

Noise sensitive dogs should be far away from the commotion. If you have a noise sensitive dog that reacts to the doorbell, it’s best to put them in a room far away from the commotion. If you have a crate, put their crate in a bedroom, turn on some white noise or relaxing music to drown out the noise and give them something yummy to chew on.

Remember, Halloween is supposed to be a fun night for all, but safety is key. This year, I plan on giving out candy while my husband takes our daughter, who is going to be Rapunzel from Tangled and our son, who is going to be an X-Wing Fighter Pilot from Star Wars, out trick-or-treating. It should be a fun night!

How do you enjoy Halloween with your dog?


Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

How to pick the best doggy daycare



By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

If you have the kind of dog who loves being around other dogs, then doggy daycare might be the right choice for you! If you’re thinking about daycare, here are some pointers to help you find the best fit for your pup:

Professional associations and certifications. One of the indicators of good facility management is an affiliation with one or more of the major professional pet sitting associations, such as NAPPS, PSI, or IBPSA. Although membership is not mandatory, it says a lot about a business if they are voluntarily willing to adhere to industry-wide standards. (It’s like going the extra mile.) Tip: look for signs that say staff has been trained/certified by experts like FetchFindThe Dog Gurus, or PACCC.

Philosophy. How is the business marketed – is it a “big play group all the time” type of place, or do they offer individualized attention geared to your dog’s personality? Some dogs can run all day long and be happy campers, but other dogs need to socialize (or not) on their own terms. Tip: Make sure play groups are age- and size-appropriate for your dog.

Facility. Doing an in-person visit of the facility (preferably during the day when other dogs are present) is absolutely essential. You’ll want to keep an eye out for such things as hygiene and sanitation (of common areas as well as individual spaces), the staff-to-client ratio, and the general appearance of the space. Tip: Pay attention to the level and quality of the noise while you’re there – happy, well-tended dogs sound very different than stressed out dogs. 

Health and hygiene. It’s very important for all pet care facilities to require the appropriate vaccinations and adhere to best practices when sanitizing the premises. When you’re filling out the application forms, make sure they ask about vaccination records; when you’re touring the facility, ask them about their protocols in case of a canine influenza or kennel cough outbreak. Tip: keep an eye (and nose) out for the prevalence of mop buckets and sanitation stations. 




How to find a good dog trainer


By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Whether you want to teach your new puppy basic commands or help a rescue dog become more comfortable in his new home, it pays to do your research before hiring a trainer. With so many options out there –  big box stores,  boot camps, boutique trainers – trying to make that decision can make your head spin!  Here are some tips to help make the process easier:

Evaluate. What kind of dog do you have? A 10 week old Lab puppy will have different needs than a 10 year old rescue Chihuahua.

Start googling. Find trainers or training companies near you and see what they have to offer. Keep in mind that in-home trainers, whether they are independent or affiliated with a company, have specific service areas and if you’re too far away you probably won’t be able to book sessions.

If you’re feeling confused by the different types of training philosophies, such as positive, balanced, clicker, etc., click here for more information.

Check the qualifications. Most reputable dog trainers will have formal education and official certification. If you see CPDT-KA after their name, you know they’ve put in the hours to become a respected professional.

Get reviews. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of candidates, start checking the online reviews and social media outlets; you should also ask your friends for their recommendations or for references from the trainer.

Trust your gut. If you’ve done all of your homework and you just don’t like the trainer after you’ve met them, move on. If your dog shows unusual signs of stress or fear, take his word for it and find a new trainer.

Enjoy the process! Learning with your pooch is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your best pal.

How to choose the perfect dog walker

cog-walkingBy Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Are you in the market for a dog walker? The good news is that there are a ton of options available these days; the bad news is that making a decision can be really overwhelming. But, if you follow these guidelines you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect pro for your pup!

Education. One of the most important things to look for in a dog walker is the training and education provided by the company. Do their new walkers shadow the experienced walkers before going solo? Does the company provide (or require)  first aid  & CPR training? Do they train their staff in basic canine communication and dog handling?

Tip: look for walkers and management staff trained with FetchFind Monthly Pro or  through dog*tec’s Dog Walking Academy program.

Reviews. Check sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and the company’s social media pages before signing on. The reviews won’t tell the whole story, but they are good indicators not only of the quality of service but also how the company handles problems. 

Meet and greet. Always request a meeting with the person who will be your primary dog walker, and have a list of questions on hand for the first meeting. Both you and your dog should feel comfortable with the personnel; if you don’t (for whatever reason), request another meeting with a different person.

Reliability and availability. Every dog walking company has a different business model, and you’ll need to decide if you value flexibility (can you get a walker with two hours’ notice on the weekend?) or consistency  (will you have the same walker every day at the same time?).  Ask for references  – and contact them! Current clients will have the best take on the overall reliability of the company.

Tip: have two companies on speed dial if you need one for regular weekday walks and one for occasional last-minute requests.  If your dog is okay with different walkers, it’s a great way to have the best of both worlds!

This is just a short list of what to look for when you’re in the market for a dog walker. What are your must-haves? Let us know in the comments!


Fun activities for fall weather


By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the weather, the colors, the holidays, and the food. I could go on and on about all the things I love, but one of the things I love most is being outside, taking longs walks in the crisp, cool air. When my Westie, Bailey, was alive, this was also her favorite time of year. She loved to bounce in the fallen leaves, chase the squirrels and smell to her heart’s content.

Fall is a great time to get out with your dog. Here in Colorado, the Aspen trees in the mountains are breathtakingly beautiful, so hiking is ideal. But there are many things to do with your dog that gets you outside to enjoy the fresh air.

Find it

Find it is one of my favorite activities to do anywhere. But you can make it a little more fun by hiding your dog’s favorite toy in a pile of leaves. Practice the following.

  • Without your dog seeing, place your dog’s favorite toy next to a pile of leaves.
  • Release your dog and say, “Find it.”
  • Once your dog finds their toy, say “good” and play a short game of fetch.
  • Once your dog is getting to be very good at finding their toy, you can start hiding the toy within the leaves.

Hikes in the great outdoors

Like I said, Colorado is lovely this time of year (but when isn’t it lovely?) and the crisp mountain air is just perfect for some hiking. But even if you don’t live in Colorado, there are some great trails just about anywhere you live. Make sure to bring lots of water for both you and your dog. Just because the temperature is cooler, doesn’t mean that your dog can’t get dehydrated. And also be on the lookout for wildlife. Many wild animals are out more during the cooler months.

Outdoor agility

Agility is a great sport any time of year, but it can be especially fun on a cool, fall day. You don’t have to have expensive agility equipment to have fun. DIY jumps and weave poles work just fine.

Working walks

I believe all walks should be working walks, but let’s be honest, not everyone has the time to take their dog for a long walk. But when the kids are back at school and the cooler weather is just inviting you to be outside, take the opportunity to spend a little more time on your walks and tiring your dog out. Working walks are simple – you go for a walk, but work in some training at every corner. I like to practice the following on my walks:

  • “Sit” and “stay” at every corner. Release when you cross the street.
  • “Touch” on the side of the sidewalk when you see another person/dog coming towards you.
  • “Watch me” before you release your dog to go sniff their favorite tree.
  • “Come” when your dog gets out in front of you.
  • Loose leash walking/not allowing your dog to pull you down the street.

No matter what you do with your dog, just make sure to have fun and stay safe!

What are your favorite activities you like to do with your dog during fall?


Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Trainingis a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

Misreading the signals

whisperBy Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

The other day when I came to the office with Whisper and Mimsy, I was looking forward to getting a lot of work done. I had a marketing meeting in the morning, a podcast recording in the early afternoon, and conference calls sandwiched in between (not to mention my WiSTEM homework).  Before I had even settled in at my desk, Whisper decided to start barking. She barked at young mother walking by with a stroller. She barked at the UPS guy. She barked at the empty desk. She barked at her reflection. She had already done her business for the morning, she had been fed and watered, and it seemed to me that she was barking for no other reason than to keep me from getting my work done.

So what did I do? I got frustrated and raised my voice (more than once), which did absolutely nothing to stop the barking. Pretty soon everyone in the office was firmly asking her to stop, or trying to distract her with kissing noises, or just rolling their eyes and stuffing their earbuds in a little deeper.

Finally Paulette took charge of the situation and marched Whisper outside to see if that would break the pattern. As soon as she got to the nearest patch of dirt, Whisper peed a river (in spite of having done exactly that a half hour earlier). And then the entire office full of dog trainers felt a bit sheepish for 1) having misread the clear signals that she needed to use the facilities, and 2) getting irritated with her for it.

What is the moral of this story?

No matter how many years of dog experience you have, you’re still going to miss, or misread, the cues once in a while. You get distracted, then you get annoyed, and finally you get to the point where you are so aggravated that you aren’t seeing anything clearly because none of the usual triggers seem to be at the root of the problem.

But dogs aren’t robots – just because they did their business a half hour ago doesn’t mean they won’t need to go again, or that the noise which never bothered them before isn’t going to make them freak out on this particular day, or that the food they digested with ease for five years isn’t suddenly going to give them terrible gas during your investor meeting (there are occasional downsides to having dogs in the office). 

If you have dogs, all of these things will happen to you – whether you are a pet professional or not – and you just have to accept that you misread the signals, file the information away for future reference, and move on. For those of you who have aging or infirm dogs, the cues will change more rapidly. To read the signals correctly, sometimes you have to put aside what you expect the dog to do and act upon the information right in front of your nose.


Want to learn more about canine communication? Check out our I Love Dogs badge and Canine Communication course; for an even deeper dive into all things dog, sign up for Behavior Fundamentals Online!

What is separation anxiety in dogs (and how can I fix it)?



By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I hear this all the time: “My dog has separation anxiety, and I don’t know what to do.” A lot of the time these cases are mild. The dog is new to the home, or something has changed in its world (e.g, the kids have started school, someone has started a job with longer hours, or a construction crew has taken up permanent residence on your block). They might not do well in a crate, or with too much freedom. Genetics can also play a role in the appearance and degree of anxiety. Every dog is different, and while this behavior can take a long time to fix, it usually has a happy ending if the owner is able to put in the work.

What is separation anxiety?

What the average person thinks of when they hear “separation anxiety” usually means that a dog presents with certain anxious behaviors when left alone. Anxious behaviors can include things like:

  • Panting and drooling
  • Incessant barking, whining, or howling
  • Extreme self-soothing behaviors (licking or chewing themselves nonstop)
  • Chewing baseboards
  • Hurting themselves trying to get out of the crate

If your dog is unable to take a nap and be calm when you leave for the day, separation anxiety might be the issue.

For extremely severe cases, such as if your dog is hurting himself or destroying the house, you will need to call a skilled trainer for help, or even a veterinary behaviorist (who will do a detailed medical/behavioral assessment and possibly prescribe medication).

For less severe cases of separation anxiety, I recommend two things:

Change your routine when leaving the house. If you always put on your shoes and then grab your keys, try putting your shoes on last or grabbing your keys when you’re watching TV.  Also, start giving your dog something to do while you are gone, like a peanut butter Kong. Your dog focuses on that while you’re leaving and has a positive association instead of a negative one. It can also help to block your dog’s view of the door, so they can’t actually see you leave. 

Ignore your dog when you get home. I know a lot of us have dogs because we want someone to be excited when we come home, so this doesn’t have to be a forever change. When you come in, put your bag down, take off your coat, go to the bathroom, etc. before engaging with your dog. Try not to speak or touch him for about 10 minutes. If your dog needs to go outside as soon as you come in, try to do as little interacting as possible. What you’re doing is making the dog realize that you coming home isn’t such a big deal, so being alone isn’t all that bad.

This can be a pretty slow process, so be patient with the dog and yourself.

Are retractable leashes a good idea?


By Sarah Gaziano, CPDT-KA

As a dog trainer, my favorite thing in the world to teach is proper leash walking skills. It’s one of the harder behaviors to teach a dog, and with all the different types of equipment out there, so many people try and fail. I recommend using a front-clip harness or a head halter of some kind and a 4 or 6 foot leash. I don’t use prong collars or choke chains, and I certainly don’t allow retractable leashes.

No retractable leashes?! No. Absolutely not.

Your dog shouldn’t be 30 feet from you at any given time. If your dog is even 10 feet away from you, can you control his or her behavior? Can you get your dog to come back to you right away no matter the circumstances? The outside world is full of distractions: yummy smells, squirrels, children walking by. It’s no wonder dogs don’t want to pay attention to us.

The one goal of every dog owner, whether they realize it or not, is for their dog to pay attention to them above all else. If you are 15 feet away from your dog, but that really fast squirrel is only 1 foot away from your dog, who wins? It certainly isn’t looking good for you.

Not to mention the horror stories I could tell you: dogs getting tangled up in each other leashes, random bystanders getting injured with the leash itself, or the dog having so much freedom it ran into the street before the owners knew what was happening. Even if you have the perfect dog, you never know what circumstances can lead to some unfortunate situations.

We should always be thinking about setting our dogs and ourselves up for success.

If your leash helps keep your dog by your side, you are both more likely to be happy with the outcome when another dog walks by or a bird swoops down while you are enjoying your walk. Having your leash loose and by your side will set your dog up for success and make you a better team. Happy walking!


Note: in all fairness, I should mention that there is a legit use for a retractable leash, other than using it in the bathtub as a book tether.  :)






My first client!

Here I am at One Tail at a Time, with fellow trainer-in-training Brian Huebner. 

By Bill Mayeroff

When I started studying at FetchFind Academy just about a year ago, it seemed like it would be forever before I actually started training dogs. There was so much to learn. I was being taught by so many fantastic dog trainers who I admired a great deal back then, and even more so now. 

But I’m actually doing it. I’m actually going to be training dogs. 

It’s hard to believe, but I have my first clients. Just before Labor Day, an old friend asked if I could watch the two dogs she and her husband have over the holiday weekend. On top of that, she mentioned she would be interested in having someone work with them on their leash walking while they were gone. 

There was my opportunity. I was busy over the holiday weekend, but I said if she wanted, I could work with her dogs when she and her husband got back. I didn’t expect her to, but she agreed. 

And just like that, I had my first client.

But it was just the start. Now that she’d officially asked me to work with her dogs, my work was just starting. I had to meet her dogs and really figure out what she wanted to get out of me working with them. I had to put together a lesson plan. We had to work out a schedule. 

But it all worked out and everything is all set up. The first lesson is going to be October 14 and I’m a fantastic mix of excited and terrified. This is exactly what I want to do, but that’s scary. This is the first time I’ll be teaching a dog (other than mine) on my own. It’s a daunting task. 

In spite of that, however, I’m ready. I have a good lesson plan. I’m not trying to do anything complicated or beyond my abilities. And I know if I need advice, I have a wonderful community of dog training pros at FetchFind I can call on. 

That’s honestly the best part about being part of the FetchFind world. It’s a community. We have each other’s backs. And while my teachers won’t be there to watch me as I train my friend’s dogs, the things they have taught me and are still teaching me will guide me every step of the way. 

So even though I ask you to wish me luck with my first clients, deep down, I’m confident I don’t need it. I know I’m ready for this. 

And that might just be the best feeling of all. 


Look at these two handsome gents.

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill Mayeroff‘s life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter while he studies to be a professional dog trainer at FetchFind Academy. Bill also blogs about his two favorite things – dogs and beer – at Pints and Pups. 

Getting Fido ready for the new baby: Six tips to help with a smooth transition


By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

The stork is going to be paying a visit to some dear friends of mine early next year, and so it’s the perfect time to review the things you can do to make the addition of the new bundle of joy easier on your dog (and, by extension, your entire family).

Be proactive!  Don’t wait until the day before baby arrives to start training your pooch.  If there are behavior issues you are concerned about, get out there and start working on them today. Call in a professional dog trainer if necessary, or check out programs like the ones offered by Family Paws.

Familiarize your dog with babies. If your dog has never seen a stroller or heard an infant’s cry, you’ll want to make those introductions before baby arrives.  If you have friends or relatives with babies, make a date to spend some time with them.  Some dogs can be tentative around unfamiliar objects, so allow him to sniff and experience the nuances of items such as strollers, baby wipes, and noise-making toys.

Teach your dog to wait at the top and bottom of stairs. This little trick will prevent the possibility of tripping over your dog while you are carrying the baby up and down the stairs. (Also, if you are using a flexi-lead – get rid of it now and start using a regular 6’ leash.)

Get your dog his own bed. You may not want your dog on the bed or sofa with the baby, especially if you are nursing. Get a super-duper plush dog bed and start introducing him to it as an alternative. But remember to spend some time on the floor with your dog, as you want to avoid any potential of him becoming too possessive over his new special spot.  Another idea is to give him a dog bed for each highly used area of the house, so he always has somewhere to “go lie down.”

Prepare for visitors.  If your dog has a habit of jumping up or being timid around visitors, address this immediately. Put some treats outside your door and ask pre-baby visitors to offer him a treat if he displays good manners – aim for “four on the floor”, and only give attention to him when he has all four paws in contact with the ground. If your dog isn’t already crate-trained, get started on that right away; that will give him a place to retreat when things get overwhelming, and it will help you to know that your dog is safe when people are going in and out the front door. You don’t want to add “searching for your lost dog” to your to-do list.

Get a dog walker.  Things can get pretty hectic with a newborn, and it’s in your dog’s best interest to have some fun while you are busy with baby. Additionally, make it a priority to spend quality time with your dog, even if it’s just a few minutes a day.  Although dogs are known and revered for their resilience in new situations, remember that your dog had been your “baby” for a long time.  Do what you can to make sure that your dog doesn’t resent his new housemate, while maintaining the rules and consistency already established.