How to get what you want from your dog groomer

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by Betsy Lane, MA

When you get a haircut, you want to walk out looking and feeling great—and you want the same things when your dog goes to the groomer! In this post, we’ll look at how to get the look you want at the grooming salon and what to do if you’re not satisfied.

A successful trip to the grooming salon leaves you, your dog, and the groomer all feeling great—but, just like with human haircuts, things don’t always turn out the way you thought they would.

How can you maximize the chances of your dog being runway-ready after a trip to the salon, and what should you do if things veer off course?

That’s what we asked PetSmart Grooming Salon Leader Renee Fuentes and her team of professional dog groomers. Lucky for us, they shared five terrific tips for successful trips to the salon.

  1. When deciding on length, groomers can start by taking off half the length of the coat, then check to see if you’d like a bit more taken off. “We can always take off more, but we can’t put it back on,” they note.
  2. If your dog’s coat is badly matted, shaving the coat might be the only choice. In this case, the groomer should be willing and able to show you what to do at home to keep your dog looking and feeling terrific between salon visits. And remember, “You can stop in the salon between grooms for brush-outs or baths, which will help the skin and coat grow back and avoid the need for shaves.”
  3. If the salon’s shave chart—which shows different blade lengths (3, 4, 5, 7, etc.)—confuses you, a groomer “can do a little pre-shave in an inconspicuous area to show what the 4 would look like compared to the 5, and you can see the difference in how much of the coat comes off.” Feel free to request this, if it’s not offered.
  4. Remember to tell the groomer if you like short ears, long tail, and so on. “Pictures always help, too, as does hearing about the pup’s lifestyle and health.”
  5. When you check out, the groomer should ask how you like the cut. If there are things you’d like to discuss, it’s often best to take your dog outside to go potty, and then come back in for any adjustments. Renee adds, “I’ll add a note about their preferences to their file, so it’s perfect next time. PetSmart Grooming Salons have a Look Great Guarantee, as well.”

Here’s to every dog looking and feeling great after every trip to the grooming salon!

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https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon
Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

How to find a great groomer

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Kara Gossage and Coby of the PetSmart Groom Team at the All-American Grooming Show 2017 Wire Coated Breeds Competition. 

By Betsy Lane, MA

Help! Your dog needs to be groomed, but you don’t know where to turn. How do you find a great salon—and avoid the not-so-great ones? If the thought of handing over your dog to a virtual stranger and coming back a few hours later makes you break out in a cold sweat, read on. Renee Fuentes, PetSmart Salon Leader, is here to share some expert advice for pet parents who haven’t yet found a groomer who makes them and their pets happy.

As it turns out, finding a groomer isn’t all that different from finding a human hair stylist. Many people start looking for a groomer at dog-friendly areas or events—or even while on walks. Watch for dogs that have a look you like, and ask their owners where they take their dog for grooming. Pay particular attention to the dog’s head, especially on dogs that look like yours. “The details will set a cut apart,” Renee says, “especially the shape of the head, ears, and face. Ask for a referral if you like what you see on another dog, especially of your dog’s breed.”

The next step is to visit the salon in person. Renee suggests looking for someplace clean, bright, friendly, and professional. It should smell nice, there shouldn’t be clumps of old hair lurking in the corners, and the animals should not look too stressed. Ask which of the groomers at the shop most like to groom your type of dog; groomers should be versatile, but often have a favorite type of dog (Yorkie, Newfie, shy, puppy, senior, etc.). Renee also suggests casually asking who sharpens the shop’s blades—since these should be sharpened about once a month (for efficiency and safety), any reputable salon will be able to tell you who their sharpener is. And when it comes time for your first appointment, you can bring photos of styles you like, just like you might with your own hairstylist.

What about a small, private shop versus a larger salon? Renee says there are pluses and minuses to either choice. “Private shops can be calmer and slower-paced, which can be good for scared, anxious, or older dogs,” she says, “but larger salons often have better systems in place for air filtration and so on—like PetSmart’s UV lights in their ventilation system, which kill a lot of the germs you might worry about elsewhere.”

Finally, remember that making a few fun “social visits” to the shop to say hi and get used to the smells, sounds, and so on, will help every dog—and potentially worried owner—feel great about a doggy spa day!

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https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon
Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

How much water should your dog be drinking?

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By Emily Bruer

It’s important for us to know what is and what isn’t normal for our pets. Things like water intake, appetite and energy levels can be indicative of your pet’s health and well-being. If your dog’s habits suddenly change it could be due to a medical condition or a change in his environment.

The answer to “how much water your dog should drink?” is far from a straightforward one. Each dog is unique in size and metabolism and each dog’s water intake will be different. The best way to know how much your dog should drink is simply by observing him.

It’s normal for dogs to drink after exercise, eating, and sleeping. They also will drink sporadically throughout the day, so get to know your dog’s habits when he is healthy.

Another great way to know if your dog is drinking enough water is by checking his urine. Stand near your dog when he is urinating; if there is a strong odor to the urine, or it seems to be a dark yellow or orange color, it could mean that your dog is dehydrated. Similarly, if the urine is pink or red it is an indication of blood in the urine and you should get your dog to the vet right away, as they could have an infection or stones in their bladder.

Another great way to test your dog’s hydration levels is by gently lifting the scruff (the skin on the back of your dog’s neck) until it is taut, and then letting it go. If it immediately falls back into place your dog is hydrated, but if it takes longer than a few seconds your dog could be dehydrated.

If you believe your dog is dehydrated, but he isn’t interested in drinking water, a trip to the vet is in order. When an animal is dehydrated for too long it can cause damage to the kidneys as well as other internal organs. Better safe than sorry when it comes to hydration and your dog’s health!

Water temperature – When offering your dog water one thing to keep in mind is the water’s temperature. While it is tempting to give your dog ice cold water, it’s actually much healthier to let your dog have water that is room temperature.

When a warm dog ingests ice cold water their body must then use valuable energy to warm up the water. If it doesn’t, it can cause your dog to have a tummy ache or even throw up.

Not too much –  Another common cause of vomiting in dogs is drinking too much water. If you have just brought your dog in from a hot day or from a bout of vigorous play, his first instinct will be to drink a lot of water.

Unfortunately, if they have access to an unlimited supply they will often drink too much and then proceed to puke it back up. It can also cause a condition called bloat. You can find the symptoms here.

To prevent too much water intake, offer your dog several small bowls of water every 10-15 minutes until they are cooled off and relaxed. Once they have calmed down, you can put their normal water bowl back down and let them have access to the unlimited supply.

Every dog is different when it comes to water intake and bathroom habits. Get to know your dog’s routine while he is young and healthy, so you can recognize potential problems as he ages. If you notice an abnormal change in your dog’s routine don’t put off calling your vet, as what could be a simple infection could quickly get worse without treatment.

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emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

How to prevent your dog from overheating

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By Emily Bruer

It’s officially HOT outside, and it’s important that you have a plan to keep your dog comfortable and prevent overheating during these sweltering summer months. While it is true that some breeds are more susceptible to the heat than others, it’s a good idea to have a plan for your dog no matter his breed.

The most important thing to remember this summer is that your dog has no way of expressing to you that he is overheating. In fact, he may not even know. A dog that is having fun playing in the sun is similar to a small child, and as long as he is enjoying himself he’ll keep playing long after it’s safe.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you and your pup enjoy the summer.

Be sure to keep a bowl and water with you at all times. Keeping yourself and your furry friend hydrated is the first step to beating the heat this summer. It’s good to keep in mind that ice cold water, though it feels refreshing to us, can be a little hard on a dog’s stomach. It’s best to give them water that is below or at room temperature.

Make sure your pooch has access to shade. It is often up to 10 degrees cooler in the shade. So, if you notice your pooch is panting excessively it may be time for him to take a break until his breathing is back to normal.

Never leave your dog unattended in the car. If the temperature is over 70 degrees outside, the car will quickly become too hot for your dog. Even if you are just running inside for a few minutes you never know what could keep you in the store, and while you are cool inside it’s easy to forget your companion is outside overheating.

Don’t give your dog large meals when it’s hot outside. Like us, a large meal on a hot day can cause a dog to get an upset stomach and possibly even cause him to vomit or have diarrhea. Both conditions can cause dehydration, so it’s best to feed smaller meals throughout the day.

Kiddie pools. Kiddie pools are a great way for your dog to stay cool while outside in the summer. You can usually get them for about $10-20, and your dog will thank you for it. Be sure to change the water every 2-3 days, or sooner if you see it’s dirty.

Be mindful about exercise. Try to only exercise your dog in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Also, never let dogs walk on hot pavement as they could burn their paw pads. If it is over 90 degrees outside your dog should be inside where it is cool, or calmly relaxing in the shade.

If you are following all these tips but notice your dog is panting excessively and can’t seem to cool off, it’s important you get him inside as soon as possible. Sometimes heat exhaustion can sneak up on us and it can be very dangerous for our dogs.

Offer your dog water and soak two towels with cool water. Have your dog lie on one towel and drape the other over his back. If you’re outside with no access to towels, immerse your dog gradually in cool water (such as a fountain or stream). 

If you have a thermometer, take his temperature. The normal temperature for a dog is about 100-101.5F;  if your dog’s temp is over 104F, get him to the vet immediately.

Overheating can cause seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and a plethora of other uncomfortable symptoms. Getting him to your vet will allow them to cool him down safely while also providing fluids to prevent dehydration.

Brachycephalic dogs like Pugs, French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, and other smooshed faced breeds are extremely susceptible to overheating, as they have a harder time breathing than the average dog. Double-coated dogs like Malamutes and Saint Bernards can also have a hard time in the summer heat, so take extra care to make sure they stay cool.

The best tip for preventing heat stress this summer – leave your dog at home during the day, in a cool, climate-controlled environment. Take him out in the early morning and late evening for exercise, and keep potty breaks short during the worst of the heat.

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emily-bruer-pawedinEmily has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

Summer safety tips for your dogs

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Summer has finally arrived, and it’s only natural for us to want to bring our dogs so that they can enjoy the barbecues and festivals with us.

But the truth is that bringing our dogs with us can be deeply distressing to them. Strange people, unfamiliar dogs, loud noises, and toxic foods can all add up to a one very over-stimulated pup.

What can you do to keep your dogs healthy and safe during the summer?

Set up a quiet retreat. 

This is one of the most important things you can do to make life better for everyone in the household. Even if your pets are people-friendly and sociable, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and if you are busy entertaining you won’t necessarily know when they’ve had enough. Make sure you have a crate, bed, or travel cage set up in a quiet space, and give your pet a high-value treat (think stuffed Kong) to keep him happy and distracted during the party. If you must have your dog outside, make sure he’s in a cool, shady, protected spot with plenty of water, and check on him often to make sure he’s okay.

Eliminate temptation.

Keep your pets on their usual diet, and don’t give in to the temptation to let them eat table scraps, chips, soda, or alcohol. Aside from the choking hazard presented by chicken bones or ribs, the high fat content of many party foods can cause pancreatitis, vomiting, and diarrhea. When the food is outside, keep your dogs inside. And remember – crates are your friend, especially when you have a dedicated counter-surfer.

Be especially careful when these items are on the menu: garlic, onions, grapes/raisins, chocolate, and anything with xylitol (you’ll have to check the labels carefully; it’s in a lot of foods you wouldn’t expect it to be in, like some peanut butters).

Have your emergency plan ready.

No matter how much planning and management you do, things can still go wrong. Your dog may bolt out the gate when guests are arriving, or jump through the screen when the fireworks start. Know what to do if your dog does go missing and keep that emergency vet information and poison-control hotline number posted somewhere handy.

 

 

7 ways to help your dog get through construction season

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By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

If you live in the city, you can tell when it’s 8:00 am in most neighborhoods because that’s when the construction noises begin. Loud, dusty, and nerve-wracking, construction and road work projects are a near-constant feature of urban life in the warmer months. (And we had a pretty mild winter here in Chicago, so the construction started weeks earlier than usual! Good times.)

If you find the noises aggravating and stressful, just imagine how your dog feels about them. Even the sound of jackhammers several blocks away is going to be impossible to ignore; for dogs with a hypersensitivity to noise (such as certain herding breeds), it can be downright torture.

So what can you do to help your dog get through construction season? First, you’ll want to observe your dog’s behavior and see if anything is deviating from the norm – has she stopped going to bathroom at her usual time/place? Is she ignoring food? Are her ears always back while she rushes through her once-leisurely walks? These are all signs that your dog is suffering from stress, and, in the absence of other obvious stressors (such as illness or a new housemate), there is a good chance that elevated noise levels are to blame.

Keep the windows closed. Sure, you’d like to get keep the air circulating in the house, but the benefit of less noise for your dog outweighs the benefit of fresh air for you. Besides, if you’re close enough to the construction to be bothered by it yourself, those gentle breezes come with a hefty payload of dust and other nasty particulate matter. Keep the ceiling fan on. Turn on the air conditioner (which will also help to mask the sound of construction). If your dog responds favorably to music or the television playing in the background, turn it on before you leave for work.

Create a cozy den. If your dog is crate trained, put a bedspread or a quilt over half of the crate so he has a place to tuck himself away when the noise starts to get to him. The fabric will also help to muffle some of the sounds. If your dog isn’t a chewer, throw a couple of favorite stuffed toys onto the bed so he can bury his head under them and be comforted by their presence. If your dog is free range during the day, try making a tent of sorts by draping a quilt or a couple of beach towels over the usual resting place.

Change the venue. If the rooms on one side of your house are less noisy, move your dog (and his crate/bed/toys/water dish) there during the day. Putting half of a house and a closed door between your dog and the noise can make a big difference. Make sure that you dog-proof the day room before moving Fido in, especially if he won’t be crated.

Put that ThunderShirt on. I’ve seen ThunderShirts work miracles on anxious dogs; you can also try a TTouch wrap (however, if your dog is a dedicated sock-eater putting a long bandage on her while you’re away from home isn’t a great idea). Keep in mind that the ThunderShirt or wrap can make your dog very warm, so if it’s hot outside you’ll need to put the air conditioner on.

Consider doggy daycare. If you have a dog that is okay being around other dogs, daycare can be a great solution. Many daycares are in large buildings in less densely-populated (and therefore less noisy) parts of town, and the presence of other dogs is a great distraction no matter what is going on outside.

Help your dog shake it off.  Let’s be honest – it can be very hard to motivate yourself to take the dog out for more than a potty break when you get home after work. But your dog has effectively been under siege all day long, and you can help him shake it off by doing something fun or relaxing. Take a long walk in a different place with plenty of sniff breaks, treat your pup to a nice canine massage or TTouch session, or play a rousing game of “I’m gonna get you” in the hallway on the way back into the apartment. (Note: a dog that has been stressed all day can get overexcited or go over threshold more quickly than usual, so don’t let things get out of hand.)

Visit your veterinarian. If all of your efforts still haven’t helped mitigate your dog’s stress, go to your vet and discuss medical treatment options. Anti-anxiety medication doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment, and it can help break the stress cycle so that your dog isn’t forced to develop other self-soothing strategies like chewing, excessive licking, or barking.

What do I recommend for humans trying to deal with the construction noise? A good set of noise-canceling headphones. 🙂

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Wondering what those canine stress signals actually look like? Learn more with a subscription to FetchFind Monthly Pro!

 

 

Summer training update: Chester edition

By Bill Mayeroff

Chester sweet potato

One of the best things about being a dog owner studying to be a dog trainer is that I always have a dog around on which to practice what I learned in class and what I saw during my observations.

Chester took some classes through a local PetSmart a few years ago, but admittedly, I wasn’t great about keeping up his training once the classes ended. Studying at FetchFind and observing a bunch of great trainers in action gave me a second chance to work with my dog. It’s not that his behavior was terrible, but it’s always worth trying to improve a bit, right?

One of the first things I did with Chester was teach him “touch.” It’s a simple enough trick: get the dog to bop your outstretched hand with their nose. But what’s cool about it is that not only do dogs love it, but it can also be a great tool to help with recall, which is something Chester still needs work on. 

When teaching recall (in lay terms, “recall” is when you call the dog to come to you, using a command like “come” or “here”), you have to teach your dog that whatever awaits them when they come to you is better than whatever they were doing. And that’s hard, especially when trying to call a dog in from outside. A dog wants to sniff things and chase squirrels and bark at airplanes overhead. So you, as the owner, need to be more enticing than all that to get your dog to come to you.

But a touch command changes things a bit. It turns coming to you into a game. So instead of trying to convince your dog to leave all sorts of fun things behind to come to you, you’re giving your dog a new game to play. 

It’s a game Chester took to almost immediately. It took me almost no time to teach him “touch.” And unlike his recall command, I can get him to respond to “touch” pretty much every time, even from across my apartment. 

That’s not to say “touch” is a replacement for teaching your dog recall, by the way. But it’s a nice tool to keep in your back pocket.

As easy as it was to teach Chester “touch,” loose-leash walking took a good bit more effort. Chester is a terrier. He wants to smell everything. He wants to chase all the little critters running around. Outside is his playground and as a result, his leash is often fairly taut. 

So I had to start at the beginning. The first step? Get Chester to pay attention to me (rather than the surroundings) when we walk. To do that, I faced him and walked backwards. Chester would follow me and every few steps, he’d get a treat and some praise for keeping his eyes on me. Once he had that down, I started walking in the same direction as him, again treating him fairly frequently. That was coupled with coming to a complete stop when he would pull and not moving again until he made the decision to come closer to me and create some slack in his leash. 

His touch command also helped with leash walking. To keep him from paying attention to his surroundings and stay at my side, I’d occasionally put my hand out and tell him “touch.” Two or three of those when I saw him eyeing something and he’d refocus enough to stay with me for a bit longer.

Chester will never be perfect on a leash, and I don’t really need him to be. But he’s better. 

And ultimately, that’s what training is about. It’s not about creating a “perfect” dog (which doesn’t really exist, by the way). It’s about peaceful coexistence, whatever that entails. In my case, I can live with Chester sniffing plants and occasionally pulling a little when we walk. That’s what works for us and as long as the behavior doesn’t get worse, it’s fine. 

But that’s just me. Other owners might want their dog to stick tightly to their side. Other owners might want a dog that never pulls or who keeps their eyes forward rather than sniffing things. It’s up to each owner to decide what they can live with. 

Long story short: Chester and I still have work to do. But we’re having fun training together. We’re both learning. We’re both improving. And that’s what’s most important.  

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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. 

Fido of All Trades: How having so many pet industry jobs helped me fetch my calling

 

LyndaBy Lynda Lobo, CPDT-KA

Confession time. I started working in the pet industry by chance, not by choice.

I graduated from college in 2008. Needless to say, the job market was rough. I ended up as a bather at a small groom shop and, although I’d always dreamed of working with animals, I thought it was a temporary way to get by.

Things took off from there. My career has taken me from bathing and grooming to daycare to reception to walking to management to training. It took me a while to find my calling, but I’m grateful because all this experience brings a unique perspective to my role as Director of Education at FetchFind.

When I first started out, I was lost. I had four years of college under my belt, but I lacked canine knowledge, despite being a life-long dog owner and lover. To make matters worse, I was given conflicting information, and so was basically left to figure things out for myself.

Essentially, I tried it all. What consistently worked best to help me work effectively with the dogs in my care was using methods based on science, compassion, and a whole lot of patience. Through some research and lots of trial-and-error, I learned how to expertly clip nails, how to get 25 dogs to sit at once, nutrition requirements, what’s the very best gear for dog walkers, how to talk to a client about their dog’s matted coat, and how to train new employees.

I also learned where the gaps are in staff training. By helping to produce content for FetchFind, my goal is to bring awesome, relatable, and practical information to pet businesses so that everyone feels empowered to take the very best care of every animal (and human client!) they meet. More education means higher job satisfaction, lower turnover, and happy clients.

I may have fallen into the pet industry by chance, but I choose it every single day. I love what I do and I want to help others do the same!

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Tell us your story!

How did you get started in the pet industry? What do you wish you had known when you started? What do you love about what you do?

Top 5 Must-Have Apps for Dog Walkers


By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

When I started my first business, Out-U-Go, in 1995, we did just about everything on paper. It wasn’t all that common to even have a cell phone, back in the day. (It was a very long time ago.) Those of us who did have one of those fancy StarTAC phones tended to keep emergency numbers on a piece of paper taped to the back, because you could only store ten numbers in the speed dial list.

Now, of course, we’re spoiled for choice in the mobile phone and app department. I can’t help you choose the right hardware, but I can direct you to a few apps and bookmarks that I find particularly helpful (and not just for professional dog walkers).

Pet First Aid – The American Red Cross Pet First Aid app is my favorite; it’s pretty comprehensive and well-organized, and has sections for both cats and dogs. (Available on Google Play and iTunes.)

Hazardous Substances – The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center app is your best bet here. It has listings for dogs, cats, horses, and birds. (Available on Google Play and iTunes.)

Vet Locator – I don’t really like the vet locator apps for either iOS or Android. I do like the MyPet.com website quite a bit, and keep that one bookmarked.  VetLocator.com and WebVet.com are also pretty good.

Pet-Friendly – Find the nearest pet-friendly venues with BringFido, the #1 pet travel site on the internet (app available on iTunes). Android users, bookmark the website.  Don’t forget Yelp and Foursquare when searching for pet-friendly restaurants, pubs, and stores.

Lost Pets – Be prepared and set up pictures and info for all of your canine clients in your phone in advance. If the unthinkable happens and a dog does go missing, you’ll have all the information ready to deploy on Finding Rover. (Available on Google Play and iTunes.) Note: I like the facial recognition feature on Finding Rover, but depending on your location and even the age of your phone, you might get better coverage and functionality with a different lost pet app. There are a lot of options for both Android and iOS, and most are free, so try a few and see which ones work best for you.

And in the “Not Necessary But Fun to Have” category:

Dog Breeds – Because who doesn’t love a good game of “What Kind of Dog is That?” Download Petsie on Google Play and Dog Breeds A-Z on iTunes. Or skip the apps altogether and bookmark the AKC’s Breeds section.

What are your must-have pet apps?

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The Dog Trainer’s Dilemma: What to Do When People Ask You for Free Advice

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By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

A professional in any field soon realizes that complete strangers often have no compunction whatsoever about soliciting advice well beyond what you should be expected to give in a casual social setting.

Don’t get me wrong – I am always happy to find teaching moments that can help both pets and their people, but at a certain point being asked for advice starts to feel less like a sharing opportunity and more like a shakedown.

Certainly I have had conversations with acquaintances who are doctors and lawyers and accountants during which I have asked them for referrals and resources, but it’s generally acknowledged that asking them for a full-blown, off the cuff consultation is very bad form. At best, it’s wildly inconsiderate to put people in a position where you’re expecting them to give you possibly life-altering advice without access to the proper diagnostic tools.

However, if you’re a dog trainer, this happens All. The. Time.  Random people routinely ask us to come up with an entire training plan based solely on their puppy’s age and breed. I think that a large part of the problem is that many people don’t see “dog trainer” as a real career. It’s true that we don’t go through years of medical or law school; it’s also true that plenty of trainers hang out their shingles without knowing very much about canine behavior or scientifically-based training methods. What most people don’t know is how many hours (years!) that responsible trainers put into both their formal and hands-on training.

But times, they are a-changin’, and the pet industry as a whole is making a concerted move toward more meaningful standards and certifications. The entire focus of the FetchFind online learning platform is to make high-quality training and education available to all pet professionals. I hope that as the industry becomes (and is perceived as) more professional, the number of people who expect you to work for free (or “for the exposure”) will begin to drop.

In the meantime – what is a “best practices” response when you’re asked for training advice for a dog you’ve never met that belongs to a person you barely know? You empower them, firmly-compassionately-professionally, to find the resources that can help them with their particular issues:

Puppies – Direct them to Ian Dunbar’s free puppy books, send links to Sophia Yin’s Perfect Puppy in 7 Days and Paul Owens’ The Puppy Whisperer, and give them the name of a reputable dog walking company that offers puppy packages to keep housetraining on track.

Rescue dogs – Send a link to Patricia McConnell’s Love Has No Age Limits (also good for senior dogs), tell them about the excellent A Sound Beginning program, and remind them that many dog training companies and shelters have reduced rates for rescue dogs.

Senior dogs – Steer them to the Grey Muzzle Organization website, and direct them to any of Lisa Rodier’s blog posts or articles dealing with special considerations for older dogs. For a good omnibus volume on senior dog issues and treatments, Your Dog’s Golden Years by Jennifer Kachnic is a great resource.

Behavioral issues – Send a link to DogStarDaily.com and the ASPCA, and offer the name of a good veterinary behaviorist. If you live in Chicago, refer them to Kristin Buller’s workshops for people who love pets with behavioral problems.

My short list for the best all-around websites for canine training and behavior information:

And last but not least – keep your business cards ready to hand out whenever someone needs a good trainer.