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Archive for the tag “dog behavior”

Rainy Day Fun

It seems Houston is either in a drought, and looks like this:

Or the Heavens open up, locking us in our homes or face flood waters.

The last few days have been raining off and on, making it difficult to have a really good walk or run with our dogs. Sometimes, my dogs spend rainy days sleeping, but the moment that they are leashed they behave horribly because of all their pent-up energy. To avoid a bad walk and an angry dog mom, I try to come up with fun ways to exercise them indoors.

Rainy days are great days to work on dog training. No matter how old your dog is, the training never stops. As our dogs age, we tend to stop doing all the training we were so diligent about when they were pups. We get more relaxed and let them get away with more. A day when you’re stuck inside gives you the perfect excuse to work on any behavior issues.

With four dogs, I often separate them. I take one dog into a room and barricade the door with a baby gate. This way, the other three can still see that dog and me. I work on sit, stay, come, down, and maybe teach him a fun new trick. Then I let him out and bring in a different dog. After each dog has had 10 minutes of individual work, I then work with the whole pack.

If you have two or more dogs, it’s a great idea to pick a name for the pack. With my pups, I can say “Buckley, come!” and he’ll race towards me. If I want all four to come, I say, “Puppies, come!” “Puppies” is the pack name. You can pick any name you want. When I just want Daisy and Lily to go outside, they hear “Girls, potty!” Along the same lines, Oliver and Buckley are referred to as “the boys.” This means they have individual names, a pack name (“puppies”), and smaller packs within the larger pack (“girls” and “boys.”)

It’s very important that each individual dog, the pack, and the smaller packs listen to me when asked. Having them trained as a pack and individually has endless benefits on walks, in dog parks, and when guests are visiting.

There are other fun ways to spend rainy days with your dogs. You can play games such as “find it,” which works great with hounds and hunting dogs. Show them a treat or toy, let them smell it, and then hide it. Now ask them to “find it.” My favorite is taking stacks of books and laying a broom across them, creating a jump. We have our own agility fun in the living room, and the dogs love it.  I add books to raise the jump for an extra challenge. They burn energy and love being silly.

What are your rainy day dog activities?

A Year as a Pet Sitter

A year ago today, I opened my pet care business, Ollie and Friends Pet Care. Every second was a new learning experience, and I wish there were a way to thank each person, dog, cat, fish, and bird that has been a part of my first year as a small business owner.

The decision to open Ollie and Friends came quickly but not after some mental reconciliation. My favorite job, to date, was pediatric hospital chaplain. Typically, when I say that, people cannot believe that anyone would enjoy such a job, but I loved it. I loved being a part of a family’s most precious moments, whether traumatic, sorrowful, or joyful. It was a blessing to be there for both hugs and tears. Yet finding a permanent chaplaincy position isn’t easy, and I had to find other ways to use my Master of Divinity and minister to children. All the while, nothing made me happier than being with animals.

Growing up, the one major bond my mom and I shared was how close we felt to God when walking a dog in the woods or riding our horse. I have always been told I have a gift with animals but never thought of using that as a basis for a career, let alone combing my faith and animals to create my own business. That all changed after meeting with a pastor who attended the same church in Houston and the same seminary in Austin. He encouraged me to talk to a fellow seminarian who said she was “a pastor to people through their pets” and told me it was not important to follow my passions. Animals are my passion.

That week, Ollie and Friends Pet Care, named after my oldest Boston terrier (the “friends” are my other three pups), opened with a small website and an email out to my Junior League friends asking them to spread the word.

Here we are, a year later, and the growth of my little pet care business is astounding. A day off is a luxury, but I wouldn’t trade it. I love the challenge of dogs who are fearful and need some extra love and work. I love being greeted with wagging tails at every visit. It’s also nice to finally be able to put all those books on dog psychology and training I’ve read to use on dogs besides my own.

To every two-legged, four-legged, finned, and winged friend out there: Thank you for giving me an unbelievably incredible first year. It is a blessing and honor to love, care for, teach, and learn from your pets.

Many thanks,

Jessica

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