How to get what you want – and make it a win-win for everybody

carmen rustenbeck and jamie

As my Grandmother would say: You don’t ask, you don’t get.

It’s great advice, but like a lot of advice it can be easier to implement in theory than in practice.

But when you’re faced with a situation that just doesn’t work for you, you can ado something about it, or b) feel resentful for the foreseeable future because you didn’t stand up and speak out.

Let’s be honest – most of us (myself included) will default to Option B because we don’t want to be rude, cause inconvenience, or make work for other people. And that’s fine, if you’re just dealing with the wrong latte size. But when you’re dealing with something that materially impacts your business, you have to go with Option A: do something about it.

(At this point you’re probably saying to yourself – yeah, yeah, Jamie, that’s very high-minded, but what brought all this on?)

We were at the IBPSA conference last week, and our booth placement was not very well-positioned to take advantage of foot traffic. After a day of wandering around muttering to myself (Option B), I thought – nope. This doesn’t work for me OR my company. Time for Option A.

So I found Carmen Rustenbeck, Executive Director and Founder of IBPSA and the co-coordinator of the annual conference. (That’s a picture of us, above.) I told her about the issue and how I thought we could fix it, and together we came up with a solution that worked for everyone. I was deeply impressed not only with how right it feels when people of goodwill work toward a common goal, but also with how much better I felt about myself when I consciously decided to address the issue.

In fact, Carmen and I were so inspired by our collective problem-solving mojo that we’re going to get together to discuss other ways to increase the value of the organization for all of its members.  I can’t wait – it’s always such a pleasure to work with the pet professionals at IBPSA.

It can be tough to ask for more than you’ve been given, because someone might be upset with you!

I get it. I really do. But everyone can go for Option A when the stakes are high enough. So in every situation you have to ask yourself “is it worth taking charge / potentially upsetting someone /c ausing a fuss?” When it’s a Dunkin Donuts coffee order and the line is six deep, perhaps the answer is no. When it’s your business, your brainchild, and your responsibility to do right by everyone who depends on you, my answer to that question is always going to be yes.

No matter your personality type, you can make deploying Option A a little bit easier with this simple exercise. Figure out how you would arrange the situation to your satisfaction before trying to make a change, instead of passively-aggressively addressing it with others or expecting someone else to read your mind and take care of it for you. If you can walk up to the decision maker and say “here is the situation and this is how I think we can change it”, you have a much better chance of getting what you want – and deserve. And, at the same time, you can strengthen relationships and grow as a professional. In other words – everybody wins.

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

Help – I Have to Leave My Dog Home Alone All Day While I’m At Work!

sad dogBy Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I see it happen all the time – people who have worked from home for years end up getting office jobs, and immediately start stressing about how their beloved pups are going to handle being home alone for 8+ hours a day.

Before I give you some tips on helping your dog with that transition, I’ll let you in on a little secret – there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll miss your dog more than she’ll miss you. 🙂

With that having been said, here are some tips to help you acclimate your dog to lengthy absences.

Start crate training. If your dog isn’t already crate trained, or needs a refresher, now is the time to work on that. Crate training is a great tool for creating boundaries and security for both of you. I know people sometimes balk at the idea of having their dogs crated for extended periods of time, but keep in mind that the average dog sleeps 16-18 hours a day. As long as the crate is appropriately sized — allowing room to stand up, stretch, get a drink of water, and move about a bit before going back to sleep — it’s a great tool.

Keeping your dog crated while you are gone also mitigates any destructive tendencies; it also provides a safe environment for other people who may need to enter your home while you are gone, like the dog walker, maintenance personnel, housecleaners, etc.

If you are confident that your dog will accept your schedule change without needing the crate, then you can simply apply the schedule framework as outlined above and let her be free-range while you are away. Generally speaking, this isn’t an option I would recommend for puppies or younger dogs. Another option is to put your dog into a single area of the house, such as a kitchen or mudroom, that can be blocked off from the rest of the house. Just make sure you dog-proof the room by securing cabinets and putting food or hazardous substances well out of reach.

(Need some ideas on how to keep your pup’s boredom at bay? Check out this article from TAILS magazine.)

Keep a consistent schedule. Once the crate training is well underway, start working on a very consistent schedule for your dog. Make sure she gets her first walk within the same half hour every morning. Then, take her out again in the afternoon during the same time period and for the same duration that a dog walker will be walking her. Figure out the most likely time that you will get home from work, and walk her within approximately that same half hour every day. What you’re doing here is creating consistent expectations for interaction and for bladder/bowel control, which will provide a reliable framework for your dog’s days.

Extend the crate time. While you are working on the consistent walk/potty schedule, gradually start crating your dog for longer and longer periods during the day. I find that it’s easier for dogs to get used to crating if they can still see you (which is why I prefer wire crates over plastic travel crates). Then, start going out for longer blocks of time when she is crated – 10 minutes the first day, 15 minutes the second, 20 minutes the third, etc. If she is prone to separation anxiety when you leave the house, distract her with a stuffed Kong right before you leave, and have the crate positioned or partially covered so that she can’t see you walking out the door.

No fussing! Don’t make a big deal of leaving the house. Put your dog in the crate, give her the Kong if necessary, and go out. Don’t stage an emotional scene every time you leave or come back; it’s disruptive to the dog, and will set her up for failure. If it’s not a big deal to you, it won’t be a big deal to her.

Consistency is key. The key to an easy transition is consistency and calm behavior on your part. I almost always find that the humans have a much harder time in this situation than the dogs. However, if your dog doesn’t seem to be adjusting to the new situation within a reasonable amount of time (say, a couple of weeks), or if you feel that her behavior is getting worse, schedule an appointment with your vet and/or a highly regarded trainer. Some dogs just naturally have more anxiety than others, and it’s always best to consult with a professional to make sure you are aware of all of your medical and behavioral treatment options.

Service providers

Unless you have a dog that is completely trained to use indoor pee pads, you’ll want to find a good dog walker. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations, and set up a couple of trial walks. It’s important for your dog to have a chance to get used to this strange person, and you’ll want enough time to make sure that the walker and the company are the right fit for you as well as your dog.

If you absolutely hate the idea of leaving your dog home alone all day, then consider doggy daycare. This is another area where you’ll want to give yourself ample time to find the perfect situation for your pup. Every daycare/boarding facility has a different vibe and clientele mix, and taking your shy elderly shih tzu to a place that specializes in day-long puppy playgroups is going to backfire. Ask about their professional affiliations (such as IBPSA) and accreditations, and don’t be afraid to try out a few different places before making a commitment.

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