Archive | June, 2016

It’s Official – A 2nd Good Dog Spot Location!

Dear Pet Parents,

In the summer of 2006, I had just secured the financing for Lisa and I to begin a great adventure in pet care… you know it today as The Good Dog Spot.  A lot has changed in the past almost 10 years – we outgrew our first facility and moved to the place you all know and love now, our play groups have doubled in size and in quantity, Google, Facebook & Smart Phones took over all our lives, I got married and had two amazing daughters.

One thing has remained the same – people LOVE their dogs and The Good Dog Spot LOVES taking care of them like they are our own.  Thanks to the phenomenal team of individuals working alongside of me, including my husband, Cory, The Good Dog Spot has built a family of clients who value their pet as members of theirs – and our location in Chicopee is bursting at the seams!

So where do we go from here?  This is a question Cory and I have been asking ourselves for some time now.  The answer sounded a little crazy, a little daunting but mostly exhilarating!  The more we tossed ideas around, the more certain we became that the next step for our little family of passionate pet people was to spread the love around… so we are doing it!!! We would like to officially share that this fall we will open a second location on King Street in Northampton!

So what does this mean for you?  For starters if you are closer to the Northampton location regularly you can start bring your fur-children there for daycare, grooming, or boarding.  Also if you travel a lot; you have the option of either location for all services (with 24-hour notice).  Your membership will be good at both our current Chicopee facility and in our new Northampton facility as well.

We are starting to prepare and gather goodies for our furry friends who will be visiting Northampton and we would love to offer you some free money towards services for your help.

  • We are collecting towels and bedding (in gently used condition). You will get up to $5 off of grooming services for your kind donation.  Just bring these to the lobby in Chicopee.
  • We are also in need of crates of all sizes and plastic play toys (slides, houses, etc.). I thought the best way to make sure we give you a fair value of Good Dog Bucks (good towards any service) for the item or items you would like to donate is for you to send a picture and description to me at Elizabeth@GoodDogSpot.net and I will email back with Good Dog Bucks value.

I hope you know from the bottom of my heart how much I appreciate you and your furry loved-one(s) supporting my dream.  It is truly a GREAT day at The Good Dog Spot.

xoxo,

Elizabeth

Fireworks… safety for your pets

Ooh, Ahh, Pretty Fireworks… Not So Fun For Dogs!

This time of year we celebrate our beautiful country during Fourth of July festivities with skies lit up with red, white, and blue bursts.  Children and adults everywhere ooh and ahh as they turn their heads to the sky.  Unfortunately your dog does not have the same magical experience.  For many dogs the loud and unexpected sounds of fireworks can be very scary and cause them high anxiety.  Fireworks also lead to a tremendously high volume of lost pets.

Here are some suggestions The Good Dog Spot; along with Robin Bennett, expert on dog safety, recommend for fireworks season:

1) Leave your dog safely confined in your home with a favorite treat or toy.  Please do not bring them with you to the display; they do not enjoy it.

2) Do not leave your pet in the car.  Cars get extremely hot and a dog can suffer tremendously; even die in just a few minutes.

3) Just like a human sometimes needs something to help alleviate anxiety; so might your dog.  If you think this is necessary contact your vet.  There are also some natural options as well including lavender oil, a Thunder shirt, rescue remedy or DAP (Comfort Zone).

4) Make sure your dog has their ID tag on and if they have an ID-chip that the information is current.  Many pets run when they hear the loud bang of a firework and they can get lost.  Make it easier for a neighbor or the shelter to be able to return your furry loved one.

Forms and Permission Slips needed for June

Get out your swim trunks and sunscreen! It’s time to cool off by the pool!
Remember to fill out a pool pawty permission slip to ensure your pet can participate in all of the exciting water activities we have planned! Copies can be found in our lobby, or by printing one out at home using the image below. Please sign and return your pet’s permission slip to a staff member ASAP, and please note any play restrictions for your pet!

Also, in an effort to maintain up-to-date records, we ask for your cooperation in completing a client information update form and re-signing the Daycare Liability Waiver, which are both found below the pool pawty permission slip.  We welcome any questions you may have and thank you for your prompt return.

2016 pool pawty permission slip

Client Info Update

Client Info Update 2

Dog Park Safety

Dog parks seem like a great way to exercise and socialize your dog, and they can be, but there are also a lot of risks with dog parks. First, there is no screening process. Anyone can bring a dog to the dog park, regardless of temperament or health status. Not all dog owners understand their dog’s behavior, so dogs that are especially aggressive or anxious might be allowed in. Dogs that are not neutered or spayed, or dogs with untreated infectious diseases can be allowed in. The next problem is with overall dog behavior. Dog parks are used as unstructured playtime and things can get chaotic, especially if owners are not experts on dog behavior or if they are distracted and not monitoring their dog. Dogs tend to learn bad behaviors from their friends, rather than the good behaviors, so dog parks can cause dogs to learn all types of inappropriate behaviors and can make it difficult to introduce them to other dogs in the future. The final thing to keep in mind is that one bad experience at the dog park can be traumatic, causing a dog to become fearful and reactive towards other dogs. So the next time you bring your dog to a dog park, here are a few things to think about:

Obedience. Make sure your dog is highly reliable with basic commands before going to a dog park. It might be a good idea to practice these commands in distracting environments before going to a dog park, and to practice in the dog park. Being able to call your dog to you and keep them under your control can keep your dog out of dangerous situations. For example, if a fight breaks out you can call your dog to you and keep them out of it. It’s a good idea to regularly practice these commands in the dog park as well. Set your dog up for success, start with simple commands they know well. At TGDS, we regularly practice basic obedience with the dogs during playtime. It helps maintain arousal at a manageable level.

Play Style. Prepare yourself for the dog park by understanding what good dog play looks like, what bad dog play looks like, and understanding aggressive behaviors. Many breeds have signature play styles. For example, labs and goldens tend to have very rough and tumble play styles that other dogs do not enjoy, but labs and goldens LOVE playing with each other for that reason. Many herding breeds love chasing play. Boxers like to “box” other dogs with their front paws. Know your dog! Monitor which play style your dog has, which dogs they enjoy playing with, and which ones they don’t. Identify the patterns and set them up for success.

  • Signs of good play: loose body language, play bows, light barks or growls, back and forth play between both dogs, loose mouth while biting, dogs start and stop on their own, giving themselves breaks.
  • Signs of bad play: one-sided play (one dog keeps pinning the other down, not giving them a chance to get back up), hard bites or nips to the heels or back of the neck, grabbing and shaking the scruff of other dogs, lots of high-pitched yips from the receiving dog, the receiving dog is trying to get away but can’t, bullying of one dog by multiple dogs, staring, standing over other dogs in a “T” position.

Arousal. Dogs can become highly aroused at a dog park, it’s a very high-energy environment with lots of smells, sights, sounds, and other dogs. Dogs who are highly aroused can become tired and crabby  (think toddlers!), and are more likely to get into fights. Dogs need to take regular breaks during playtime in order to maintain a manageable arousal level. That is why we practice regular obedience at TGDS, and why the dogs get naptime during the day. Some dogs can play great with each other and give themselves proper breaks and rest time and never need a human to interfere. But most dogs need you to interfere. If your dog is playing, interfere every couple minutes to keep arousal low. Call them to you, practice some basic obedience, or take them out of the park for a few minutes to calm down. Continue to do this to reduce the chance of a fight breaking out. Dogs who are becoming over-aroused tend to start getting louder during play, their movements become faster, their bites become faster and harder.

If you and your dog are not cut out for the dog park (no shame in that!), there are plenty of other options for exercise and socialization. If you know your dog gets along with certain dogs really well, make friends with those owners and have play dates. If your dog doesn’t necessarily like playing with other dogs, but seems to enjoy company, you can have structured activities like group hikes with other dog owners or attend obedience classes. As always, feel free to ask us questions! If your dog is a regular here, we are going to be very familiar with their play style and are more than happy to help you understand it too. We can tell you what kind of dogs they tend to get along with. We can try to connect you with other pet parents who are looking for further socialization outside of TGDS. And if you know of great dog parks that are safe and fun, feel free to share that information with us so we can pass it along.

 

Looking for more information on how to keep your dog safe and happy at the dog park? Get the Dog Park Assistant iPhone App created by respected dog behaviorist Sue Sternberg.

Summer Grooming

When we see a long-haired animal in the summer, we often can’t help but think about how HOT they must be. Some owners wonder if they should have their pet shaved during the summer months to help keep them cool, but that isn’t necessary! Long-haired animals are designed to thermoregulate in all temperatures. Their coat provides them insulation from the cold but also allows them to deflect sun and keep their bodies cool in the heat. The undercoat, which is the super-thin hair closest to the skin, helps to maintain body temperature. The guard hairs, which are the thicker, outer-hairs, help protect the animal from wind, sun and other elements. Shaving a pet’s fur could disrupt this system. Guard hairs do not grow back as well as underfur, which means your pet may never look quite the same again and cannot thermoregulate as effectively.

The best way to help your long-haired pet is to brush them regularly, especially with a brush designed to pull-out the undercoat. Brushing the undercoat regularly thins it out and removes the dead fur, which will keep your pet cool. Some owners choose just to shorten the fur, or to shave their pet on their belly so the pet can cool off by laying on cold surfaces. Whatever you decide to do to keep your pet cool during summer, TGDS is ready to help you! We offer many services specific to long-haired pets. We have shampoo designed to loosen the undercoat, with driers that further loosen and blow the dead fur out. The groomers then use undercoat rakes to finish the job. Feel free to come in to ask a groomer their advice on keeping your pet cool.

Hot Weather Tips

Dogs dissipate heat through panting, the pads of their feet, and their noses, as opposed to humans who sweat through their skin. As you can imagine, humans are much better at cooling down than dogs are. It’s up to us to be mindful of this throughout the summer and to be proactive to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke in our pets. Some breeds are more susceptible to heat stress than others including: short-nosed breeds (pugs, bulldogs, etc.), senior pets, very young pets, long-haired breeds, overweight pets, and dark-colored pets.

The first thing to be mindful of during hot summer days is your pet’s exercise routine. Try to keep daily exercise limited to the coolest parts of the day, including early morning and late evening. If you engage in any activities with your dog during the hottest parts of the day, make sure they have access to shade and water (both to drink and to jump in). For example, if you are hiking with your dog mid-day, make sure there is a body of water your dog can jump into when they start feeling warm, stick to mostly shaded trails, and make sure there is drinkable water for your dog. Many pet stores sell doggy water bottles and portable bowls that are easy to hike with.

If your animal is outdoors, make sure they have access to a shaded area and water. If you are doing yard work with your dog, or you are at the beach, make sure there is accessible shade. Shade is vital to keeping animals cool during the summer. You can also periodically spray your pet down with the hose to help keep them cool off (only if your pet enjoys it!). You can also provide a doggy pool for them to wade in. Some dogs may not fully immerse in the pool, but might prefer just standing in it. That is totally fine since their paws are a primary way of dissipating heat.

Be mindful of hot surfaces during any outdoor activities. Many surfaces get very hot in the summer and can burn the pads on a dog’s paws. Allow your dog to walk on grass as needed or keep outdoor activities to the coolest times of the days, or in shaded areas. You can also spray down surfaces to help cool them down.

Watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Excessive panting and agitation are typically the first signs that your dog may need an immediate break from the heat. If your dog becomes restless and whiny suddenly on a hot day, you might want to bring them inside to rest in a cool area of the house. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, contact your vet immediately. Know your dog’s limits, monitor their behavior, and you can ensure you both have a fun summer together!