Who has brought home a new pet during quarantine? According to the news, pet sales and adoptions have soared thanks to COVID-19. I honestly asked my dog yesterday, “what would I do without you during quarantine?” Clearly, there’d be a whole lot more of me talking to myself 🤣 If you’re one of the many new dog owners out there, here are a few professionals to think about adding to your pet’s care team. Even if you’re not a new dog owner, you might just find a few new ideas or inspiration from this list.
Of course, you need a quality doctor to lead your pet’s healthcare team. Being a Purdue graduate, I made sure to seek out a quality veterinarian that graduated from Purdue University. My dog Dart gets extra special attention when he wears his Purdue bandana in to see his doctor! One mark of quality to look for is American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accreditation. According to AAHA, only about 12-15% of veterinary clinics in the US and Canada hold this accreditation. You can feel more confident that an AAHA-accredited hospital is ready to give quality care to your dog because these veterinary practices have proven they meet over 900 standards of safe and effective care.
Another trick I use to find a new veterinarian? Peruse their website for registered or licensed veterinary technicians, veterinary technologists, or veterinary nurses. Each state can have a slightly different system for naming these professionals, but this is definitely someone you want on your team. When it’s time for your doggo to have a dental cleaning or needs anesthesia, who do you want managing their care? Is it a person hired off the street and trained in the clinic, or the professional that has earned an a higher degree, proven their competency in clinicals, and succeeded at a comprehensive state or national professional exam?
My first dog couldn’t go to puppy classes, our town was so small they weren’t even available! Whether you have a new puppy or a more mature dog entering your family, a knowledgeable trainer can help you learn to communicate with your dog better, and improve your pup’s behavior.
Puppy classes are awesome at helping your new puppy learn to socialize with other dogs and people. They’ll often have a night where everyone wears a costume, or all kinds of crazy devices like skateboards and wheelchairs show up. Think about it, if your puppy grows up thinking odd-looking people and objects are normal, there so many fewer things they have to be afraid of when they grow up. Your puppy can gain confidence around new situations and noises, and learn all about interacting and playing with other dogs.
If your dog is much too grown to attend puppy class, using a dog trainer is also a great option. We loved our trainer that had private pods for us to take group lessons and learn at the same time as other families. To protect your human-animal bond, find a trainer that uses reward-based and fear-free techniques. Imagine this: you’re a dog that doesn’t speak people language, you get hit or yelled at whenever you do something wrong, and nobody helps you find the “right” thing to do. Confusing and scary, huh? Finding a good trainer that understands dog behavior will help you be able to communicate clearly with your dog and teach him or her a fun and rewarding way to behave exactly how you want. Technically, a trainer will probably teach YOU how to effectively train your dog.
Officially, my short-haired dachshund has no need for a groomer, but your pup just might! I’m so glad I picked a dog with an easy coat to take care of, but there are may breeds out there that require a lot more TLC when it comes to grooming. Even if your pet’s hair isn’t the issue, a groomer may be able to help periodically with your dog’s nail trims. Thankfully, I learned to trim or dremel dog nails long ago, but if you’re not educated on how to avoid cutting your dog’s quick, it can quickly turn into an unpleasant mess with your dog’s nails bleeding. To help your pet avoid a fearful, anxiety-filled experience, you can always find a fear-free certified groomer or other professional here: https://fearfreepets.com/resources/directory/ Currently our grooming regimen mainly consists of at-home baths in the tub!
Honestly, I’m a “crazy” enough dog mom that when my oldest dog passed away, I made Dart an appointment with a groomer just so that he’d have something to do. They were running a great sale and I wanted him to have plenty of enrichment! Because his bath and grooming session was with the trainer that we trust, I know they made the experience fun for him, filled it with treats, and made sure not to push him out of his comfort zone. How would you feel if your hairdresser (who spoke an unfamiliar language) rushed and forced you to do all kinds of scary things you didn’t understand? I’m guessing that would not be an experience you wanted to repeat soon. Same for you dog, find a trustworthy person that understands dog behavior and can support your pup in feeling calm and confident.
Here’s where my crunchiness really shows, but I swear our chiropractor is a life-saver! I’ll admit, I was originally skeptical to call a chiropractor for my dachshund Dart. He was having so much pain that he wasn’t walking right, didn’t want to eat much, and would cry out when we carried him or even moved in bed the tiniest bit. I thought we were for sure headed for back surgery, but the emergency vet just sent us home with some pain-relieving medicine and instructions for rest. When the meds started to run out and Dart hadn’t magically healed yet, we found a chiropractor to help. My poor painful dog was all crooked and hunched over before the chiropractor visit.
I was scared out of my mind that day, at work, while the hubby was home waiting for the chiropractor to make his first house call to Dart. I mean, what if the chiropractic adjustment made things more painful for Dart, or somehow damaged his nervous system? The amazing thing about pet chiropractors is that they don’t have to wait for their patients to report on their symptoms. You see, people report “symptoms,” describing what they feel in words. Instead, animals show outward “signs;” for Dart this meant that he could immediately stop hunching over and begin to relax his stance and walk around more freely. It was amazing to see the difference when I got home from work!
As you search for a chiropractor, check out what your state allows. In our case, Dart’s chiropractor originally trained to treat people, and then gained additional competencies to treat pets. He even helps horses! On the other hand, my state also allows veterinarians to get additional training to perform spinal manipulations. Research what your state allows, and make sure you find someone whose qualifications make you confident in adding them to your dog’s team.
- Boarding facility
Yikes, I’ve dragged my feet on this one. I assume if I ever need to leave Dart while I go out of town, we’ll board him with the veterinarian. Obviously, I keep planning trips to include him on so we just haven’t had to try boarding Dart in our new hometown yet. We loved our old boarding facility that used to text us photo updates 😍
We love boarding at veterinary practices because of the professional attention that’s available. I reiterate to boarding staff and I cross my fingers that everyone remembers by dachshund has back precautions and you have to be very careful to support his spine while moving him around, and you definitely can’t let him jump in and out of cages. When we had a chronically ill dachshund, I loved that I could board him with the veterinary practice that already knew his “normal” and had all his records on site. We even had one veterinary/rehabilitation facility that would let you sign up boarding pets for swim sessions in their therapy pool, and you know my dog loves to swim!
Good boarding facilities will let you tour them and get a feel for their cleanliness, comfort, and safety. I would absolutely be cautious if a boarding facility is hiding their kennels from you. All these fancy new boarding places that allow pets to play together just aren’t my thing, my dog is way too scared of other dogs for that to work safely. Find one that works for your family, and think twice about their qualifications to take care of your dog. After all, almost anyone can love dogs, but you need a boarding facility that really understands how to best care for your dog’s needs and health.
- Pet sitter
I don’t have a pet sitter yet, but what a great idea! When I’m headed out of town for a trip, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour driving my dog around and dropping him off at the kennel. A pet sitter would allow my dog to stay at our home, problem solved! Plus, I wouldn’t have to worry about him coming home all stinky or being too nervous to maintain a bathroom schedule at the kennel- he’d be in his own comfy home with a pet sitter visiting to take care of him. Seriously though, whenever we pick up Dart from the kennel, he acts like they haven’t let him out to poop for like 3 days, lol.
Have you tried a pet sitter yet? I know I’ve seen some people make it their entire business, they get their car decked out in decals and make the rounds to all the pets they’re watching from home. Additionally, when I used care.com for foster kids, I’m pretty sure I saw pet sitters on there as an option too. Have you found pet sitters to be reliable and convenient for your family?
- Day care
Holy cow, we tried taking Dart to doggie daycare during a VERY supervised and pre-planned session with his trainer. I was relieved he didn’t try to fight any dogs, but I sure could tell he was scared by all the commotion and taller pets running around and approaching him. If only he could play with other dogs, it was such a cute session for the rest of them! Dog day cares seem to be a growing option in the towns I’ve lived in, from large towns to small. If you have a super active dog, this might just be an effective way to stimulate their minds and wear them out with play while you work all day.
P.S. who really leaves the house for work right now?? It’s been kind of nice seeing so many of my clients on Zoom, while my dog cuddles and sunbathes by my desk.
- Waste cleanup
I’ll admit I’ve gotten lazy and could probably use this service at times. Did you know there are entire businesses dedicated to picking up dog poop? That’s right, you might never have to pick up dog doo in your yard again if you hire someone else to do it! Of course, I don’t know how often they realistically come to your house, so you still might have a few days in there where you’ll have to watch your step in the yard. I know I’d be devastated if we were playing our kub game in the yard and one of the blocks landed in a tiny pile of dog waste 😧 Despite these insignificant worries, I think I might really love having someone else on cleanup duty for my yard.
- Dog walker
A dog walker is another professional I might consider if I’m ever putting in long days at work again. Technically, this might be a great solution anytime we want to take those long day trips and decide against leaving the dog in a cage without a bathroom break for 12 hours. A dog walker can help get your dog out to relieve himself and give him some much-needed exercise. Of course, if you walk your dog yourself, you gain the benefit of exercise too. Did you know that companies like Banfield and Purina have been studying pet obesity for years, and they continue to find that overweight pets live shorter lifespans? That’s right, getting your dog exercise to help keep him at a healthy weight could ultimately give your pup another TWO AND A HALF YEARS of life with you. Exercising with your dog is proven to make you more active and could even help you to avoid chronic health conditions. Wait, did I just talk you out of hiring a dog walker? Oh well, you do what’s best for you!
Have any other ideas of professionals to add to your pet’s care team? I’d love to know! You can share your tips with me in the comments below. Here’s a cute dog pic to make you smile this week ❤