How To Choose A Dog Walker

dog walking

Vegas and Miles take in the view on our favourite trail

How to choose a dog walker? Well, I’ll see if I can help!

With so many dog walking options in rainy Vancouver it’s easy to hire someone to the job. However, it’s not easy to hire the right company. Here are some guidelines to help you on find a trustworthy company.

1. Insurance: DO NOT HIRE ANYONE REGARDLESS OF PRICE IF THEY DO NOT HAVE LIABILITY INSURANCE!! Sorry for the caps but I must emphasize this. Accidents do happen, and if your dog walker is out with your dog and they are not covered by insurance that means the financial burden of veterinary bills will fall on you! So you might be saving a buck or two in the short-term but this can  end up costing you a pretty penny in the end.

2. Real or Pretender? : Many dog walkers out there have no real training or education when it comes to dogs other than watching “the dog whisperer” or owning their own dog for years. Not that this is a bad thing for a casual dog walk, however, when you’re walking a group of dogs it doesn’t give them enough skills to handle any situation that may occur.

3. Where do they walk? : While neighbourhood walks aren’t bad for potty breaks, dogs need variety, especially when it comes to concurring boredom and actively teaching them new things. Socializing dogs to new environments and scent is just as important as the movement and exercise that dog walking offers.

4. Trust: While gut instinct is a good tool, ultimately your dog walkers should all be bondable and willing to go through a criminal record check. Dog walkers will often have access to your house and you need to know that you can trust that they are there for one thing, picking up and dropping off your dog!

5. Do they care? : You can only find this out through trial and error. Ask your friends, vets, pet stores, any where you might know dog people!

 

Good luck on your search!

 

Nik

dog walker and newfoundlander

Nik and lenny on one of their famous commercial drive strolls

The Day My Dog Let Me Down

The day my dog let me down was an eye-opening experience. You see, I often hear clients, friends, family members, or people I meet walking their dogs complain of their dogs lack of perfection. I’m guilty at times of the same complaint. This story may help you ease up on your four-legged friend.

A few years ago I went through a life changing physical ailment. As many of my loyal readers will know I went through a couple of brain surgeries as a result of a tumour. I also had to go through radiation therapy. It was really at this stage of my life that I knew I had a passion to work with dogs and really began to find a path for myself.

While undergoing radiation therapy I became very weak. I was determined not to believe that I was weak and would often fight through the fatigue, sickness, and pain. In the early stages of treatment I went to gym EVERYDAY. Now, I’m not sure what I was trying to prove but for some reason I would haul my weak ass out to gym, pale-faced and all and try to ride the exercise bike. I couldn’t even last 5 minutes. My goal wasn’t a marathon or to set any records, my goal was to last 20 minutes on that bloody stationary bike. I worked at it and struggled through the motions. Each stride took more effort than the last but I eventually achieved my goal. It took a few weeks and I still don’t know why it was important to me to prove that I was physically okay. After each session at the gym I’d drink a chocolate milk and walk home. Well, one day I just couldn’t do it. I looked at the kilometer walk to the gym as an incredibly daunting task. I just couldn’t imagine torturing myself with the walk to and from the gym just to ride a bike… it didn’t make sense to me anymore.  It was at this time that I befriended a family members dog named Buddy. Buddy was an old husky /german shepherd mutt with attitude. He was old but playful and loved going on walks. Buddy was also extremely protective and could really be counted on as your “right hand man”.

I developed a real bond with Buddy and we would go on a daily walk after my radiation therapy to the park. He and I would sit side by side on the ground and just stare of in the distance at the mountain view. Sometimes I’d have a coffee or tea. It was a really peaceful time of my life amid all of the fear, stress, and confusion of going through the illness.

I grew to really feel that Buddy had my back! So even though I weak and vulnerable I always felt secure.

One day on one of our walks through the east side we came across quite a commotion, and Buddy was on high alert! We came across an elderly chinese woman yelling and being yelled at by two women who looked like they were on or had been on a variety of drugs.  In my normal state of being when I am healthy I’d have no problem stepping up to them and protecting the old woman. But,  I was not normal. I could barely handle a 20 minute bike ride at the gym. My legs felt like lead. So did my arms. My head was spinning. I was a shell of my normal self. I thought it through, and made brief eye contact with Buddy. He had my back. I knew it. So I mustered up my courage and made my way over to the women and shouted weakly ” Hey, leave her alone and just go!”  I think that I may have caught them off guard because they stopped swearing at the old woman. They eventually cursed some profanities at me and said something to the effect of “Don’t be a hero”

Well, I was determined to be a hero. Big mistake. The two women started making their way towards Buddy and me.I glanced down at him and he looked poised and ready to go. This was it. He gave them a snarl and with that I suddenly felt very secure.

The ladies continued to curse me as the came near and I didn’t like the looks of what was in their hands. Out of nowhere a brick came flying at us! But it wasn’t from the menacing women it was thrown by the old chinese woman from the top of her stairs! Now she was feeling brave and continued to yell very quickly in mandarin so I have no clue as to what she was saying but it definitely sounded angry!

The other two ladies were now near enough that they had their anger focused at me. I let go of the snarling Buddy to take them on and hopefully run them off. He gave one final growl… and then started wagging his behind. He became friendly with them! sigh. So much for my loyal “protector”. I successfully chased them off on my own, but not before they got to pet Buddy.  The police showed up shortly afterwards and I had to give a statement. I was seething. Why did he let me down? I just couldn’t understand. After going through all of the motions of ferocity he dropped the ball. Or did I just misunderstand him?

Once home and having the chance to reflect, I realized that perhaps I placed these large expectations on him with out ever truly taking the time to teach him. Buddy died a few months after that having suffered with a tumour himself. I miss that guy.

I adopted Vegas a few months afterward and spent hours of one on one time training him.

So just remember, that for all of the lofty expectations we have on our dogs, how much time, and I mean really, have we spent teaching them?

Nik

bad dog?

This owner is scolding her dog

Excuse me, please don’t let your dog pee on my lavender

“Hello” I said as I passed by an older gentlemen with an aging black lab with signs of grey around its muzzle. “Good day” He replied. I walked by the pair and headed into my shop. I didn’t think much of the exchange as it appeared to be quite normal. That is until I noticed that the older man and his dog were making their way towards our shop.Dog and man on walk “Oh yes! Another customer!” I thought to myself. Wait, what are they doing? The old man glanced suspiciously over his shoulder at me as I watched the pair through our front display window and I realized that he was letting his dog relieve itself on our flower boxes which contain lavender! He quickly started leaving the scene of the crime as I exited the store to ask him about his choice of location, but he vanished around the corner of our building like some sort of free-peeing super heroes

Dog in a mask

Super peeing dog

leaving before any bystanders could reveal their true identities after witnessing him save the day…. or in this case peeing on private property!

“Please don’t let your dog pee on our lavender!” I shouted at them as they disappeared out of my sight.

Now, originally I thought I would give him the benefit of the doubt and perhaps it was simply an accident. I cleaned the area thoroughly to prevent any odour from developing and I disinfected it as well. Sometimes it’s difficult to control your dog when it has to use the washroom, and it isn’t exactly going to ask you politely to use your facilities. So I let bygones be bygones and went on with running the groom shop.

I happen to be in the shop fairly early this morning when to my astonishment I saw the same pair of free-peeing bandits. I watched curiously to see what actions they would take today. Sure enough the old boys crossed the street and took a direct route to my lavender flowers!!! Why!? oh why? The man  looked around nervously  and after not noticing anyone watching decided to do the same thing. Twice in two days. This is no coincidence! I guess it’s time for me to confront the two old pee machines and see what it is that motivates their need to turn my store front into a fire hydrant of sorts for all dogs to send and receive their urine soaked messages.

Now, to the untrained eye this would seem to be an act of petty malice, however seeing as it’s the Holiday season I’ve decided to myself and any of you who happen to be reading that he is just doing his kind act for the holidays. You see, the lavender appears dried out so perhaps he is simply encouraging his trusty old dog to help our shop water the plants!

Happy Holidays,

Nik

*This is a true story and I will post a photo of the culprits if they try to do it once again and will write a follow-up to how that conversation goes.

 

 

 

 

Driving Safety Tips

Sorry that it’s been such a long time betwen posts. As some of you already know I was recently in a car accident and bumped my head! I suffered a concussion and really haven’t been able to focus on any task for more than a few minutes. I’m feeling a little better but still do not feel quite myself. My neck doesnt feel quite right either so I have been less active around the shop as well. I should also let you all know that I suffered a head trauma about 6 years ago when I underwent a craniotomy.

The experience of my car accident really had me thinking about the safety of our dogs while they ride in our cars. Vegas happened to be with me that day and luckily he was alright.

I often see people driving with their dogs in the front seat, on their owners laps, even up near the rear window! The worst one I see is dogs riding in the back of pick up trucks without being properly strapped in or secured.

unsafe driving with dog

This is a demonstration of the WRONG way to transport your dog

When driving your dog here are some suggestions for the varios types of vehicles out there!

Car:  You can purchase a dog harness which will enable you to actually buckle your dog up. This way your beloved pooch won’t hurt himself or you in the even of an accident.

dog car safety

This is a great safety option for dogs while driving in the car.

SUV or Van: When driving in an S.U.V. or Van you can apply a few options.  You can purchase a harness system as demonstrated above. You can even crate the dog and strap the crate in. This way your dog won’t fly around in the event of an accident. Another good idea is to provide a seperation between the trunk area and the passenger seats.

dog car safety

A safe way to transort dogs in an suv or van

And finally, the pick up truck. Either put the dog in the front seat with a safety harness or if you must transport your dog in the bed of the pick up. Please put your dog in a rear facing crate which is properly tethered. Please see example below,

dog truck safety

A dog rides safely in the back of his owners truck.

Have a safe drive!

 

Nik

 

 

Dog Grooming Small Business

My Title is purposely misleading. Why? I’m really not sure, I just thought it sounded catchy. The really isn’t too much drama in the dog grooming world. An irate customer here, I competitor tearing down posters there. It’s really a fairly stable business aside from some unexpected bumps in the road.

Small business can be tricky, and it’s essential to operate as smoothly and organized as possible. Things had been running very smoothly as of late, almost too smoothly. I left work on Friday and let our capable staff members handle the shop on Saturday.  I enjoyed my weekend and was prepared to head back to work on Tuesday after the long weekend. We had scheduled a few grooms for Tuesday in the early morning. Upon my arrival I realized that our dog wash area wasnt functioning. Zero water! You can’t exactly have a dog grooming shop without water! So a few hundred dollars later and the problem was solved. We used Mr.Swirl plumbing service. They were great and very efficient. Had I not prepared a contigency fund in our bank account for such events who knows how the day would have gone.

I was fairly grumpy afterward but I soon got over it and carried on with business as usual.

None of our grooms had to be rescheduled and we didnt ose any business!

Lesson learned. Plan for the worst, expect the best!

 

Vancouver dog grooming

Vancouver dog grooming

 

Fireworks and Dogs = Bad Mix

Well, it’s that time of year again. Leaves falling,raking them up, leaves falling again, raking them up again. I could go on for another few paragraphs about the gentle ebb and flow that is our fall season but I digress. Another guarantee is the loud bangs and pops associated with a plethora of fire crackers and fireworks that will be illuminating the nights sky and providing a cacophony of irritatingly loud noises over the next few weeks. Just to clarify, I don’t mind fireworks personally as much as the opening paragraph may lead you to believe, it’s just that my favourite dog Vegas isn’t a huge fan and I really feel for him. So here are a few suggestions to help your dog cope with the loud and high pitched noises that are terribly confusing and freightening to many canines.

For scientific explanation of why dogs may feel pain when hearing fireworks please click this sentence.

It’s really important to provide your dog with a safe, quiet place that may muffle the noise. Instinctively dogs are denning animals so providing a crate may help them feel more secure.

Provide soothing music, and aromatherapy to help create a more peaceful and stress free environment like we do at Dharma Dog.

You can also try to counter condition the intense reactions by building a more positive association with the noises such a offering special treats which they dont usually consume or playing some of their favourite games.

Remember, living with a dog means learning to understand your role and often in the case of fear issues your role is to be calm and protective so your dog will trust your judgement.

Fearful dog

This dog is hiding under it’s bed because it wasnt provided an alternate den to call home

It’s Important To Obey The Rules…The Dog Rules

As I enter my favourite dog walking trailapril 2013 502 there is a small but noticeable sign that has symbols and wording marked ” pick up after your dog” and “all dogs must be on-leash”

I gladly follow these rules. Why? Well, trying to dodge giant plops on the ground can generally ruin an otherwise peaceful nature walk so I’d rather not do that to others.

My dog is fairly well-behaved, and I have good off-leash voice control on him, why do I bother with the leash? #1 It’s the law. #2 Not every dog or person is good with dogs. Some people are terrified of them! So are some dogs!

While on our usual family nature stroll my family and I were walking through the trail. We were about half way in and really enjoying the sound of nature. It was silent, other than the birds chirping or water rushing down the creek. You could also hear the occasional branch snapping and falling. It was peaceful and serene. Until, all I could hear and see was two German shepherds barreling towards us! Barking like mad! I stood in front of my wife, baby, and dog and yelled  “Please get your dogs on leash” … The dogs continued to circle us barking. We eventually heard the shout of ” It’s okay they’re friendly”  *blink* Excuse me? They’re friendly? I’m sorry, but just because your dogs wont necessarily bite doesn’t mean that my leashed up dog won’t. Also, you woke up my baby! I replied to the scofflaw that “it’s not alright, please leash up your dogs”. She gave us a nasty look and took off with her two out of control and impolite dogs. Yes, IMPOLITE! Our day wasn’t ruined by any means, but it definitely broke the peacefulness of the situation and our dog was definitely spooked for a few minutes.

Does your dog run up to strangers? Jump on people? Bark or Snap at other dogs? Does your dog ignore your request to recall to you? If you Answered yes to any of these questions perhaps you should keep your dog ON-LEASH unless you’re in an area that specifically states that you can take your dog off-leash.

So rememember, just because you think your dog is amazing it doesn’t mean that others will. Respect Leash laws 🙂

 

The cut throat dog grooming industry… LOL

Image

As a small dog grooming business in the bustling city of Vancouver it is expected that there will be some competition to gain a client base.
I’ve always operated my business with a smile on my face and a good attitude towards clients, and rival grooming or dog businesses.
I make many efforts to advertise and showcase what we at Dharma Dog have to offer. One of my small advertising promotions that I have currently been doing is a small graphic postcard which entitles the client to a FREE nail trim. I thought it would be a nice way of giving back to the dog community around our shop.

I had been handing them out directly to clients but have also been posting them at dog parks at the designated poster area.
I had been noticeing my cards going at a rapid pace in one park in particular. So I started replenishing the stock. At first I would reload the cards at weekly intervals and eventually daily! Finally I went by the park to take one of our clients for a walk and noticed that the postcards were already gone. Hmmm, It didnt seem likely that within that short of a time frame they would have already beem taken. One of my competitors posters remained, but out of curiosity I decided to check the garbage can. Sure enough my postcards were bent in half and thrown away! My heart sank. Each one of those cards cost me hard earned money out of my pocket and someone was simply throwing them out. I am literally shaking my head as I write this because I am fairly disgusted by the behaviour. I have a family to support. Each one of those cards in the garbage can can literally have meant a new client walking through my doors to hire us for their dog needs.

When Pepsi sees a Coca Cola advertisement do they rip down the poster? Not likely! They’re more likely to put up more Pepsi posters. Business is about competition but there is also a fine line you walk as a person. I am not the type of person to cheat my way through life and perhaps that will pay off one day. For now I’m left shaking my head at the efforts people are taking to keep others down!

I guess I’m writing todays blog to vent some frustration.
Thanks for listening 🙂

coupon sample

Welcome to Dharma Dog Boarding

Dharma Dog Daycare is now offering an in home boarding experience for your dog!

We had so many requests to offer boarding that we decided to expand our business and give it a go, and we truly believe that we offer one of the most unique in home boarding experiences around.
We have had a lot of fun with the dog’s that have stayed with us thus far, and we are continually striving to improve our service.

Here’s all you need to know about your dog’s stay with us:
We give all dogs a complimentary bath and tidy at the end of their stay if they stay over 2 weeks with us. Your dog also gets two nature walks a day in the trails behind our property in the forest and playtime with other dogs (including our dog Vegas and any other dogs that may be boarding with us at the same time as yours). We also have one of the nices natural nature trails minutes from our house to add some variety. Make sure to provide the dog’s favourite blanket or bed, favourite toys and enough food for the entire stay (and any other instructions you may have for us).

Does your dog like nature? How about romping through trails in the forest? Heck yes, dogs love it! Here are some pictures of our property and the atmosphere your pup will be exploring:

Dharma Dog Boarding

Amazing Dog Boarding Experience

dog boarding dharma dog

Vegas explores the surrounding nature at Dharma Dog Daycare’s boarding facility.

Hug Your Dog Groomer!

When is the last time that you have trimmed your dogs nails yourself? How about brushed their teeth? Brushed their coat? Given them a bath? A fur cut?

If you have ever done these things on your own chances are you may realize just how difficult and time consuming it can really be. Not to mention stressful. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who have a dog that will just completely relax and allow you to do whatever you might need. For many clients this is only a dream!

Now, just to be clear, I am NOT a dog groomer. I have expertly trained staff with loads of

vancouver dog grooming

Kaori taking a break while working on Mila the golden doodle

experience to handle to all of our shops grooming needs. I am however a canine behaviour therapist and trainer with experience to boot!

I watch all of our grooms closely whenever I have the opportunity, and let me tell you  that it is not easy!!

Typically a client will bring their dog in and request a style, remember, the dog that you know and see on a daily basis may not act like you’d expect when you’re not around. I’ve seen growling, spinning, biting, barking, and even pooping while dogs are being groomed! We make every effort at our shop to keep the environment calm and clean and as stress – free as possible, but on occasion our groomers will have to undo some bad associations that dog’s may have had from previous groomers at other shops. The process at Dharma Dog Daycare & Grooming is usually a smooth one and on occasion so relaxing for the dog that they actually will fall asleep!

I guess I’m really writing this in appreciation of our grooming staff and all groomers who are calm, relaxed, and are able to cope in their high pressure industry.

The next time that you visit your local grooming shop (hopefully it’s ours 😉 ) Just remember that it isn’t an easy job and to say thank you to the hard working groomers out there!