I worked for Petsmart and was the manager of the pet care department for about 18 months. I oversaw the care of everything from crickets to guinea pigs to chameleons to cats and dogs. During that time, I also doubled as a dog and cat trainer for about 8 months before leaving to start training from home.
I then trained dogs, rats, and cats while also educating clients on the ins and outs of exotic pet care in addition to common pet care. I did this for just under two years before switching my focus to school, where I studied to be an animal behaviorist and wildlife biologist.
I am currently taking a bit of a break from school, and thought it would be nice to work with home animals again!
When it comes to my approach, I generally to be as relaxed as possible in a family's home, as if the home was mine. It helps the dogs relax like nothing is out of the ordinary. I try to always come into the home with treats in hand (always the exact treats they normally have, if any) so they are less inclined to be startled by me and are instantly trusting of me.
If they have behavioral issues or challenges, I put all of my effort into countering them constantly throughout the stay. For example, I watched a highly reactive dog over the fourth of July weekend. Anytime fireworks went off, he would throw himself into a huge panic, so I would sit up in bed with him, wrap a blanket around him and hug him from behind while singing to him until he was able to go back to sleep.
For quick home visits I will do a general visual check of the dogs, walk them for the agreed-upon time, and then stay in the home with them for at least 30 minutes just playing and talking to them. For more energetic breeds, or breeds that require more mental stimulation to keep out of trouble, I'll spend this time trying to tire them out, either physically or mentally. A sleeping pet is a well-behaved pet!
If the pets have any rituals, like a series of tricks to perform to 'earn' their food, for example, I will always follow it. I also try to keep as close to their normal bathroom, sleep, and feeding schedules as possible.
I also use the DogVacay App and text messages to keep an daily report that you can read. I can send these at whatever time of day works best for you. I always send at least one photo of each animal daily.
Additionally, I will only ever go into the parts of your home you explicitly tell me I can enter (typically just the main living area, kitchen, and a bathroom) and I will always clean up any messes that the animals may make during your time away. I'll alert you to the messes and send photos of the area (usually only after I've cleaned it, but before as well if you want) with the daily reports.
I'll get permission from you to take photos of any areas I may visit at the start of the stay to be sure that everything is exactly as you left it when you return. I prefer that families not be able to tell that someone was there while they were away, aside from coming home to healthy and happy pets! At the end, after confirmation that everything is fine with the home from the owners, I delete any and all photos of the home.
I try to get at least one preferred vet, and one emergency contact (usually a neighbor or nearby family) just to be safe.
One of the only things I don't do is bring any animals into my car unless it is an emergency. I drive a smart car and there isn't enough room for much larger than a single english bulldog without it becoming unsafe. I can bring a single small animal (from any small pet such as rat or lizard up to a small-medium sized dog) if they are inside a carrier.
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