Business challenge: delegation (part 1)

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By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

During a podcast recording with a dog trainer and small business owner last week, we talked a little bit about how hard it is to let someone else handle some of the daily tasks of running a company, even when you know that delegation will help spur growth and keep you focused on doing the things that you really love.

Part of the problem with becoming comfortable with delegation is that, as a small business owner, it’s YOUR name and reputation on the line if one of your employees goes off script. Even if you can honestly say to a client “XYZ incident wasn’t MY fault,” you will still lose their confidence because YOU are the one who chose a poor representative. No matter what you do as a small biz owner, everything ultimately redounds upon you – credits as well as debits.

(BTW, you should never throw an employee under the bus during damage control. You’ll still lose client confidence over the incident in question, and your client will see also you as someone who can’t be trusted on any level. It’s also terrible for staff morale. There is no upside in that scenario.)

Delegation is a two piece puzzle:

1) Identifying trustworthy people, and

2) Learning to let go.

The first thing you have to do before you can begin delegating is find the right people. If you have the luxury of time, use it to watch your current employees’ performance and capacity for good decision making. It’s a trite but true saying that cream always rises to the top. Watch to see who steps up to the plate when it matters, and who makes consistently good choices.

If you’re in a crunch scenario and have to hire someone to be in a position of responsibility, make sure you call their references and ask every question you can legally ask about past performance. Don’t fall for slick interview patter!  If their resume shows a history of increasing responsibility over time, it’s usually a good sign. Once the person is in place at your company, put more weight on what they actually do rather than what they say they’re going to do. And don’t be slow to remove them if they don’t demonstrate the capacity to do the work. (As I always say – hire slow, fire fast.)

The next post will focus on the really hard part – letting go.

 

 

Winter activities, part 3: Nose Work

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By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

In part two of my Winter Activities series, I talked about barn hunt and the fun that can be had for all. In part three, I am going to talk about the sport of K9 Nose Work.

I LOVE K9 Nose Work. It is probably my favorite dog sport. My dog, Bailey, and I participated in Nose Work for years and she was probably at her happiest when she was working the course. Bailey loved food. She would do anything to get food, so searching for food was just about the most fun thing she could do.

Nose Work is described this way on the official K9 Nose Work websites: “Inspired by working detection dogs, K9 Nose Work is the fun search and scenting activity for virtually all dogs and people. This easy to learn activity and sport builds confidence and focus in many dogs, and provides a safe way to keep dogs fit and healthy through mental and physical exercise.”

If you decide to take a Nose Work class, you will see the room set up with a course filled with boxes. Each dog has to be in a crate while they aren’t working (this ensures that any dog, no matter what their temperament, can participate). While in the course, your dog will be on leash and there will be a treat hidden within a box. The goal is for your dog to sniff around and find the treat. Once they find it, the course is rearranged and another treat is hidden.

Once your dog is confident with the boxes and finding treats easily, everyday objects are added to the course. The goal is to work up to finding scent (usually it is birch) in the course and then to finding scent in open course settings, such as outdoor and cars.

Nose work is probably one of the best activities you can do with your dog.

Any time you can get your dog using their nose the more tired they will be. Any dog can participate in a class. I have worked with dogs with all temperaments, all physical conditions, all ages, sizes, etc. I especially like it during the winter because you can do it anywhere, even the smallest of apartments. All you need is a few boxes and some food. And if you don’t have any boxes, you can always use everyday items. And classes are offered all over the country, so it is very easy to find a location near you.

There were many times I was holed up in my condo during the winter months and I had to find a way to exercise Bailey. K9 Nose Work was guaranteed to get her excited and guaranteed to tire her out. Plus, I never had to leave the comfort of my warm, dry house.

If you are interested in finding a K9 Nose Work class or learning more about it, check out the official website.

Have you tried K9 Nose Work? What was your experience?

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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.

Plan to make plans – and don’t make small ones

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There was no better feeling than buying a new Trapper Keeper at the beginning of the school year.

It represented a tidy place to document all of those wonderful new experiences just waiting to happen (and, yes, I always put the initials of my secret crush on the inside cover. Don’t judge me.) Now, as an adult, the only thing that comes close to that expansive feeling of infinite possibilities – neatly organized – is buying a planner for the New Year.

There’s a trick to planning your life and work, and here’s the thing – that trick is different for everyone. However much you love the idea of the Bullet Journal, if you aren’t a set-and-subset kind of thinker, it will never work for you. If you function best with reminders inked on post-it notes and the back of your hand, there is no point to buying a half dozen apps and hoping you’ll get around to using them.

Here’s the other thing – the way you plan changes over time. I realized a couple months ago that my old planning systems weren’t working for me anymore, so I unleashed my OCD on the google and ordered the top 10 planners in the marketplace. I didn’t just want to plan the year, I wanted something to help me set and achieve my goals. So I sat with all of these planners arranged around me while I plotted out what I needed and wanted to do next year. Then I chose the keeper.

(The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?)  🙂

I’ve decided to use the 90X goal planner in 2018. The basic premise is that you select five primary goals for the next 90 days and build an entire plan around the five goals you work with every single day. In addition to that, I’ve also put together a template for consistent calendar structure which provides me allocated time for responsibilities across these 6 critical areas of growth: family/health, financial management/funding, sales, marketing, team/admin, and networking/mentoring.

So my first goal is to fill out my goal planner for the next 90 days. I’ll have a few blocks of “down” time this week while I’m traveling, and I’m going to use that time to clear my head, set my goals, and plan on how to make 2018 the best year ever.

What are your favorite planners or planning systems, and why? (I really do want to know – send me an email! I love this stuff.)

Make no small plans,

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

Christmas holiday safety tips

dog-xmas-5By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

I am officially in the Christmas mood. The day after Thanksgiving, I turned on the Christmas music, my family and I picked out our Christmas tree, and I am just about done with my Christmas shopping. I am definitely feeling the spirit.

Since my husband and I had kids, we have decided that Christmas will be at our house. Since we no longer travel for the big day, we have an open door policy. We love visitors and welcome friends and family to stop by and celebrate with us. I encourage both two and four-legged visitors, but with kids in the house, I have some rules in place. Because I want the day to be fun and relaxing, I ensure that safety is top priority.

No matter who you celebrate with or how you celebrate, it’s always wise to ensure your dog is set up to enjoy the festivities. Whether you are hosting or visiting, below are some tips to help your dog survive this festive holiday.

Keep presents away: My dog, Bailey, could have cared less about wrapped presents. But as soon as the paper was off, the paper was hers. But some dogs believe that anything on the floor is theirs. If your dog is more like the latter, keep presents up or behind a gate to avoid any disasters.

Pay attention to your décor: I love to decorate the house for Christmas, but I try to be aware of what I decorate with. Tinsel can be very enticing to dogs, but they are a safety concern (if swallowed, they can get tangled in the intestines). Poinsettias are beautiful, but they are poisonous to dogs. And I love lights on the Christmas tree and all around my house. If you do too, just make sure that your dog can’t get to the cords and chew on them. Basically, just use common sense when decorating.

Watch your dog around kids: Christmas is a big holiday for kids. All the presents under the tree, a visit from Santa, cookies, and such can bring a lot of excitement. Because they all might be a little more excited than usual, it is best to keep kids and dogs separated as much as possible. No matter how much your dog enjoys kids, not every kid will feel comfortable around your dog, and your dog might not appreciate the extra chaos that the holidays bring. No matter what, it is better to be safe than sorry, so just keep dogs and kids separated.

Keep a leash on your dog: When your dog is out and about in the house, it is wise to keep a light leash on them. Leashes are a great tool to help keep your dogs away from the Christmas cookies and appetizers, prevent them from jumping up on people, and it doesn’t allow them to escape when the door is left open after Aunt May is welcomed indoors.

Gates, crates, and more gates: Every dog needs some down time, so it is best to have your crate set up in a quiet room. I like to put on some relaxing music or white noise to drown out the noise of party goers and give them a bone or Kong filled with their favorite treat. If you don’t have a crate, set up a small room such as a bathroom or laundry room (make sure there is nothing that they can get into), put down their bed or towel, give them a treat and put up a gate. Make sure that they will be left alone and can have time to relax. If your dog is super stressed and needs to be around people, set up some gates so they are near the commotion, but can’t get out to get into trouble. This also ensures that kids can’t get to them.

Remember, Christmas should be a day of relaxing, sharing memories with friends and family, and letting kids revel in the magic. Pets are such an important part of our lives, so safety is key while we make special holiday memories to make.

No matter how you celebrate the season – Happy Holidays, and stay safe out there!

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Be sure to watch the FetchFind webcast – Safe Holidays are Happy Holidays – Jamie Migdal, Aracely Cordes, DVM, and I talk about how you can keep your pets and family safe during this busy and sometimes overwhelming time of year.

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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.

 

Winter activities, part 2: Barn Hunt

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By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

In part one of my Winter Activities series, I talked about agility and the great exercise it is for your dog. In part two, I am going to talk about the sport of Barn Hunt.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was not a big fan of being out in the cold for long periods of time, trying to give my dog some exercise. So I was always trying to come up with new ways to exercise my dog without freezing to death. Barn hunt is another great way to stay indoors and out of the cold.

Barn hunt, to put it simply, is a maze made out of straw bales. Within that maze are plastic tubes containing live rats and mice and the goal is for the dog to tunnel through the maze to find the live rats all in a specific amount of time.

I know what you are thinking. “Poor rats! I can’t believe they allow dogs to run after rats.” Let me specify, no rats or mice are hurt during this course. They are safely protected within the plastic containers. Barn hunt allows dogs, specifically terriers, to practice what they were bred to do, which is to find rats.

“Terrier” means “earth” in Latin. Terriers were bred to hunt vermin and even though many don’t have a need to hunt vermin these days, they still have that instinct, so a sport such as barn hunt is great for them. But terriers aren’t the only dogs that can participate. Any dog over six months in age and able to crawl through an 18-inch bale-height tall tunnel made of straw, can participate.

The reason I love barn hunt is because it gives dogs plenty of exercise. They have to run through a maze. They are using their nose, which is great for burning energy, and they are doing something that they were bred for.

There are plenty of associations around the country to join, so you can participate in classes with your dog. If you decide to compete, there are competitions all around the country as well as “fun trials.” If you are interested in competing take a look at the Barn Hunt Rule Book and website.

No matter what you decide to do, barn hunt is a great way to bond with your dog and get some exercise.

Have you tried barn hunt? What was your experience?

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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 find a good dog trainer

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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.

Finicky cat? Make meals more enticing with these tips

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By Sandie Lee

Cats are notorious for being finicky eaters. They may take one sniff at a perfectly fine dish of food, then turn tail and leave the offending “slop” behind with an air of disgust. This can occur even if the food in her dish has been her favorite up to this point. It’s a cat’s prerogative to change her mind on a moment’s notice, don’t you know?

If this has happened with your feline friend, you’re not alone. Cat owners all over the world have endured this frustration (and probably always will), but there are ways to get Kitty back to the dish.

Is Kitty healthy?

The most important reason a cat may refuse food is illness or stress. Before you try to entice your cat to eat, you have to determine whether it’s simply being picky or has something affecting its physiology. Cats that refuse sustenance for more than 24 hours or exhibit other signs of illness, like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or weakness should be taken to a veterinarian to determine the underlying source of these symptoms.

Try same brand, different flavors

Unless your cat has a medical reason that prevents it from exploring new foods, changing the flavor of your present brand is sometimes enough to re-ignite your cat’s vigor for dining. If this is not an option, or you’ve run out of possibilities with a certain brand, beware that a sudden change in food brands may cause some diarrhea in your cat. However, it should clear up once your cat’s system has become accustomed to the dietary change.

Nuke it!

Can food that is refrigerated after being opened will become less aromatic. But putting it in the microwave for about 5 to 10 seconds will be enough to bring out its natural smell and flavor. No microwave (or don’t want to stink up the house)? Mix some warm water into the food.

Add some flavor

There are things you can use to enhance the flavor and smell of your cat’s food. Sprinkle a teaspoon of dried catnip over the food to make it more enticing, use products like powdered cat vitamins or dried Bonito flakes (Japanese skip jack tuna) to enhance the food’s taste, or even drizzle some canned salmon juice over dry kibble and mix well.

Keep those kitty dishes clean!

Cats are repelled by the smell of putrid meat, so be sure to wash the food dish after every meal to rid it of any leftover morsels of food. Food left to spoil in dishes will create bacteria and even mold which can cause illness in your cat. In addition, if you use plastic, switch over to ceramic, glass, or metal as these substances are easier to keep clean and also won’t hold onto the scent of your dishwashing liquid.

Try shallower dishes

Some felines don’t care for deep dishes as this constricts their whiskers. Short-snout breeds, such as the Persian and Himalayan, may have trouble eating out of a deeper dish because of the restriction on their airways.

Don’t hide medication in food

Most medications for animals are extremely bitter tasting, so by grinding it up in your cat’s food, you may be inadvertently tainting the taste and smell. Unfortunately, your cat will remember the taste was unpleasant and most likely will not try it again. Some medications now come pet-friendly-flavored, so ask your vet if it is one that could be hidden in food without any negative consequences (such as malabsorption).

Cats crave variety just like people do, so try new flavors and textures with your cat to see which one she prefers. As long as there’s no medical reason for your cat withdrawing from its regular diet, she may just be craving a change. Today, there are many, many different formulas and flavors of food to try, which may be just what your cat has been waiting for. Don’t give up on the search for the perfect food. It’s only a matter of time before you find the right taste profile that Kitty is sure to dive right into….at least for now.

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

Winter activities, part 1: Agility

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By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Winter is going to be here for real before we know it. I don’t know about you, but I did not enjoy walking my dog, Bailey, in the freezing cold. Of course I did it, but I liked to keep it short.

She, on the other hand, could stay out in the cold all day. She loved the cold weather. Since I am not covered in fur, I had to find ways to exercise my dog without freezing to death. That is when I came across indoor sports.

In this multi-part series, I am going to discuss the magical world of indoor dog sports, which are especially great during the cold months.

I’ll begin by talking about agility. Agility is one of my favorite sports. It has really picked up enthusiasm over the years, so it is pretty easy to find a facility that offers classes in your area.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with agility, Wikipedia defines it as “a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy.” Some of the obstacles consist of the following: A-frame, weave poles, tire jump, jumps, tunnel, dog walk, seesaw, pause table, etc.

Agility is a great way to tire your dog out. It requires a lot of running and mental stimulation. You, the handler, also do some running, so it is best if you are physically able. You can either take agility classes for fun or if you get serious about it, for competition. I only participated with Bailey for fun. She wasn’t the best at it (she got distracted very easily), but she loved the treats and extra attention at the end of each course.

For those of you that decide to compete, you will have to work at it. There are rules to follow and time to keep perfecting. But competitions are a lot of fun. There is a great atmosphere and a lot of camaraderie. If you are interested in competing, take a look at the Agility Rule Book and website from the AKC.

No matter what you decide to do, agility is a great way to bond with your dog and get some exercise for both you and your four-legged companion. And it will keep you out of the cold for an evening, which is reason enough for me.

Have you tried agility? What was your experience?

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Erin with baileyErin 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.

 

 

 

Thankful for you — every day of the year

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Thanksgiving Day is a day off for most of us, but for many of you who own pet care businesses, it marks the beginning of one of the busiest weekends of the year.  

Which brings me to my thought and message for the beginning of the holiday season.

This year my family did something very different for Thanksgiving.  We all (40+ of us) had our dinner at a country club where my cousins are members. There was a ton of perfect food and excellent service, all in a gorgeous setting in a very posh area of Chicago.

And while we were enjoying not having to cook, clean, etc., I kept thinking about how everyone on the service team – from the valets to the chefs – were not at home with their families.

I asked our server if she had dinner yet.

You know how she replied?

“Wow, thanks. No I haven’t. You are the only person here who thought to ask. That was really nice of you.”

Ugh.

I remember the years and countless missed dinners, holidays, parties, weddings, and funerals as a pet sitter. My friends and family hardly understood and, truth be told, I hadn’t ever really weighed that consideration as I built my pet care businesses. It was a struggle. But I recall the clients who left me special gifts and notes knowing I was with their pets so that they could be with their families. And that made all the difference.

So what I want to say is:

 I see you.

I respect you.

I admire you.

And I understand.

You – and your team – are my pet care heroes.

Be proud, because pet professionals like you provide an extraordinarily valuable service. Your hard work and dedication allow millions of people to have enjoyable and relaxing holidays knowing their pets are in capable hands.

Hang tight for this holiday season. You got this. And FetchFind is here if you need anything at all.

With great respect,

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only