Guest Post Archives - Hot Diggity! Pet Sitting

Hello everyone and welcome to Know Your Pet Sitter! Today your host is me, Lana!

Outside of Hot Diggity! and ever since I was 12 years old, on and off, I’ve been a piano teacher. During some seasons of life, I took a break from the music world due to burnout, and other times it took a break from me – like when we moved 7 times in 4 years and I couldn’t bring my instrument with me, or when my children were young and wild. Now, though, I have 10 students that I see weekly, and just recently, I brought home a beautiful new grand piano that will be with me for a long, long time. I named her Esme.

What’s the thing I love the most about my life besides Hot Diggity? It seems too easy, but I can’t answer this question without saying it’s my family. My husband is my high school sweetheart, and we’ve been married for 15 years now. We have two boys who are growing like weeds before my very eyes and I can see glimpses of the amazing men they will become. I am perpetually thankful to God for our health and our collective spirit of adventure that we get to live out in crazy beautiful Oregon together.

Another thing I love is this little Chinese dive in Aloha, called Szechuan House, lodged in between an underground sports bar and a laundromat. The food comes to the table literally two minutes after you order it, like they started making it when they saw you pull into the parking lot. I really don’t know how they do it! The portions are huge, and as a random bonus, it was a film location for a Jennifer Aniston movie, so you can gaze upon her autographed vestige framed on the wall and try to get yourself seated at the same table she used in the movie.

There are so many things to look back on from the summer! This past June, I went to visit my home state of Minnesota for the first time in 6 years, and my husband bought me tickets to the Bruno Mars concert in July; which was amazing. Then in August, there was the solar eclipse. Since I didn’t know about it years in advance, I wasn’t quick enough to get a hotel room or campsite in the prime viewing area, but I didn’t give up.

Long-term, I want to stay active and healthy until I am a tiny, wizened old woman. When I am 75, I still want to be hiking the trails and have leathery brown skin and wind burned cheeks from being outdoors daily in the sun and breeze. I have a huge sweet tooth that I have to fight to curb, but I try hard to keep my body moving and strong and eat mostly clean foods so that I can get a running start at that longevity. I have had serious back and foot issues before that have taken me down for months at a time, and it makes me deeply grateful for healing when it comes and a renewed appreciation of just being able to walk/run and be independent, and a reminder to never take a single day of that freedom for granted.

When it comes to Hot Diggity! the thing I love the most is hands down our team. I don’t know how they plucked all the most amazing people out of Portland and made them Hot Diggity-ites, but they did it. The mutual encouragement, support, respect and appreciation among the walkers and the office staff is truly special. The positive energy starts there and radiates out to every client we serve during the day. I go through my walks feeling privileged to be entrusted with the care of people’s furriest family members while they are away. The icing on top of the cake is those bright, shiny puppy eyes and unfettered joy that waits for me behind every door, every time. Then out into the fresh Oregon air we go together – how can it not be a great day??

This is a special guest post by the Synergy Behavior Solutions Team, a stellar veterinary behavior and training team dedicated to improving the lives of pets with behavioral issues. To learn more about them, read on and then visit them at their website.

It is not unusual for dogs to be worried or fearful of new people in their homes. For some dogs these behaviors are more pronounced when the owners are present. Some dogs are more worried when they are alone and a stranger (like a new dog walker) comes into the house. Here are a couple tips to help your dog feel more comfortable.

The first step to helping your dog be more comfortable is to learn how to “speak” dog by reading your dog’s body language. Dogs have a lot to communicate, if we just open our eyes to see them, instead of just our listening with our ears. Many people recognize the overly fearful dog who is hiding in the corner or the ones who are barking and lunging at people. What many people miss are the more subtle signs of stress and worry they might be showing before they are “screaming” (shaking, barking) with their body language. More subtle signs might include: avoiding eye contact, pinning ears back along the head, panting when it’s not hot, or refusing food. If your dog is giving you those more subtle signs of stress, remove them from the situation before they feel the need to escalate to more aggressive behavior. To learn more about dog body language and learn more about how to speak “dog” check out http://www.ispeakdog.org.

An essential part of dog care is knowing the dog's preference for treats or their dietary needs. Our Portland dog sitters and dog walkers always make sure to know these critical details!

The second step is to let your dog choose when to (or when not to) interact with the new person. Frequently, strangers want to make friends instantly with your dog. Like many people, dogs need time to warm up to strangers. When we let our dogs choose if they want to meet a person, it can be on their terms, when they feel comfortable. Don’t force your dog to interact by dragging them to meet the person, or even having the person hold out treats. Once your dog wants to approach the new person, have them ignore them. Have them avoid staring at the dog. Reaching out or leaning towards or over them can be an invasion of their personal space and scary. Instead let your dog sniff, approach and retreat as they deem necessary without physical interaction. Let your dog set their own time table of comfort. It may take minutes, it may be hours and it may be days. Slow and steady is the safest path to making new friends.

The next step is letting your dog choose how to interact with the new person. This is where reading body language is very important. Some dogs might like to play a game of treat tossing, where the person throws a treat away from them and your dog gets to find it. Then when they start approaching the person again, they toss another treat away. With this game, the dog is being rewarded for approaching but they do not need to come all the way to the new person. They are getting a double reward of the treat and also increasing distance away from the new person.

Some dogs eventually like to be touched. We suggest “touch testing” for these dogs. Start petting their chest or shoulder, but only for one to 3 seconds (yes seconds!) and stop. See if the dog moves closer or maybe nudges your hand, that is a yes from the dog to please continue. If when you stop the dog steps away, then it is time to stop touching them and give them a break. Do not encourage them to come back, wait, remember it’s their choice.

A cute dog cuddles their favorite Portland dog walkerThese are just a few helpful tips to get you started understand what your dog is saying and helping them be more comfortable. If your dog is showing signs of aggression towards strangers we recommend keeping everyone safe and avoiding interaction with strangers. Then, we recommend reaching out to your dog’s veterinarian, then an experienced reward-based behavior professional, for suggestions on training and behavior modification. Remember that using punishment may suppress reactivity towards people, but won’t address the underlying reasons (the emotional causes) for the negative behavior. There is a lot that can be done to decrease a dog’s anxiety and improve their relationships with people, so don’t wait! Ask for help.