Category Archives: Helpful Hints for Dogs

Am I Overpaying my Dog Sitter?

I’ve been paying 2010 prices and hiring friends or relatives. The pet-sitting market has changed dramatically since then—prices have decreased and services have increased.

But what do you really want in a dog sitter?

Cocker spaniels behind a door

Leaving Chipper and Buffy behind while I go on vacation.

Seven years ago, when my elderly father-in-law lived with us, I needed to find someone to walk my energetic springer spaniel once a day while my husband and I took a one week vacation for a wedding and sight seeing. John could let Cassie out into our yard and feed her, but his frail condition and shortness of breath prevented him from exercising her and I figured Cassie would go crazy without a good long walk at least once a day.

I found the price in 2010 for a 30-minute visit at $28. Since Cassie had an autoimmune disease and was an anxious dog, I did not want to hire a stranger who had been exposed to many dogs. I wanted to hire a friend who knew and liked Cassie. I finally convinced her at $25/day to drive Cassie to the local forest preserve for a 1 – 2-mile walk. She brought her dogs for a group outing and everything worked out well.

My concerns when hiring a dog walker included:

  • Someone who knew my dog
  • Someone who could take my dog for a long walk, preferably to the forest preserve
  • Price

Notice that price was the lowest item on my list.

I had not needed to hire a dog sitter again until 2015, for another out-of-town wedding and vacation. Now I had two cocker spaniels since Cassie had passed away, and I had inherited my Mom’s dogs. Based on the rate I found years ago, I offered a neighbor $75/day to walk the cockers 3 – 4 times a day, feed them and let them out one additional time before bedtime. Everything went well and our neighbors cared for the dogs several times over the next few years. This last vacation, I hired my oldest granddaughter, now 21, to stay with the dogs for five days, mostly since she was in need of the money.

My concerns for a dog sitter included:

  • Someone who knew my dogs
  • Someone who could take good care of them
  • Someone I could trust with a key to my house

Price didn’t even enter the equation for a dog sitter.

During that trip, I spoke with my retired sister, who said she had dog sat a few people for $20 – $35/day. Wow, that was a lot less than I was paying. In researching this article, I decided to find out the going rate. For my area, the price for dog walking has decreased to about $15 – $20/walk and $30 – $50 for overnight stays.

What a shock—especially in the days of professional dog walking services and doggie day care centers. Many dog walkers and pet sitters now also have insurance!

This research has opened my eyes to the wide range of services available in my area, although I will probably still hire our neighbors, or my granddaughter, at $75/day since I trust them to do a good job and they could use the money. But if my usual dog sitters are not available, I feel a lot more comfortable knowing I have many other options—likely for a lower price.

What do you do with your dog when you go on vacation?

Would You Buy a GPS Tracker for Your Dog?

I definitely would if I had a young dog. Currently my two older cockers barely leave my side. They’re Velcro dogs. A young dog is more likely to wander. But even with an older dog, who knows what goes through their heads when they see, or smell an opportunity?

I still remember Chipper, our family’s cocker spaniel when I was eleven years old back in 1970. He was about eight at that time and always hung around the yard when we were outside. We didn’t have a fence. One day I was in my yard with friends and we decided to go to one of their houses. Chipper was just lying on the grass and I “forgot” to bring him into the house. Really, I was just lazy.

Sandy Kubillus & Chipper in 1968

Chipper and me when I was 9.

An hour later, I came home and Chipper was gone. My Mom, older brother and sister all went looking around the neighborhood for him. He had never run away before. We hoped Chipper didn’t go towards the busy street only a block away. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and called his name everywhere. It grew dark. No one found him.

Needless to say, we all had a miserable evening. I never told anyone until now, that it was my fault. The next morning—Chipper had not returned. I must have looked miserable at school, since my teacher called me out into the hall and asked me what had happened. We thought Chipper was gone forever—likely hit by a car.

Twenty-four hours after we had last seen Chipper, a police officer called and said they found a dog with an expired rabies tag. Back in those days, no one followed up if a dog didn’t have a current rabies vaccine. Chipper only had the tag since he had reportedly bitten a kid the year before from an open window in our parked car. Because of that bite (which my dad said looked like a scratch), Chipper had his shots updated. If he hadn’t had that tag, we would have never seen him again.

Chipper had walked five miles straight north, past multiple busy streets, and collapsed on the street in a cul-du-sac. The kids in the neighborhood mentioned seeing a dog at lunchtime, but everyone thought he’d wander away. He didn’t move. Finally, one parent decided to call the police, who checked his tag and called us.

My whole family piled into our car to go retrieve Chipper. He could barely stand, but wagged his stumpy tail when he saw us. Dad scooped him up and placed him on my mom’s lap for the ride home. Chipper slept through to the next day and survived another four years. Mom bought a name tag with our phone number and kept his rabies tags up to date. We never knew how Chipper had survived, but Mom resolved never to let it happen again.

Pet GPS Trackers

I just read an article in Veterinary Advantage about pet gps devices. I hadn’t known these existed before, but it makes sense with all the other tracking devices that people use like Fitbits. Of course I have heard of radio collars to track wildlife, but now anyone could buy one for their pet. When I googled “GPS devices for dogs,” I found many on the market. Most are attachments to the dog’s collar.

Two types of trackers exist:

  • Radio trackers, which are what they use for hunting dogs, but they have a limited range, similar to a Walkie Talkie. These have been around for a long time.
    • According to Top 13 GPS Trackers for your Pets, the range on some can vary from 400 feet to 9 miles, and batteries can last from a day to several months. Costs range from $100 – $800.
  • GPS trackers use new technology and real time data. They typically require a monthly subscription since they use cellular data.
    • Range is not an issue with gps units, but the battery life typically is only a few days to at most two weeks. Costs range from $100 – $250 with monthly subscriptions from free (for the more expensive models) to about $10/month, according to Top 13 GPS Trackers for your Pets.

Both types have limitations. With the battery needing constant recharging, it’s hard to see gps trackers as worthwhile. But I guess it’s like our phones, which can only last a day or two. Just if you decide to buy one, make sure you keep it charged.

According to the Pet Wearables article, gps trackers are just in their infancy. Maybe by the time I get my next young dog, we can implant a gps device like their identity microchips! Hopefully that won’t be too far off. J

Please let me know if you would buy a gps tracker for your dog, and if so, would you remember to keep it charged?

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Help Your Puppy Sleep through the Night

When Cassie arrived at our house at just under 8 weeks of age, she woke me up every night, whining and scratching at her cage. I thought she had to pee, so I’d carry her out into the frozen backyard. Cassie refused paper training, having been house broken before I adopted her.

To warm her up, I’d put her under the covers in my bed with me for a few minutes before placing her back in her cage­­—a big mistake I know. But she was a tiny puppy and needed comforting. Every night, like clockwork, she’d wake me up. I expected this for the first week or two, but when it dragged on for a month, I wondered what was going on.

We lived in a hundred-year-old house with leaky windows. To save on energy bills, we turned our thermostat low­—down to 53 degrees. Often my bedroom was colder especially on windy nights when the outside air dipped to near zero degrees.

Cassie had very thin puppy fur and no muscle mass at that young age, so I already had her sleeping in two layers, a sweater and a coat. I thought she’d be warm enough.

Cocker spaniel in a cage covered with a blanket

Buffy in her cage covered with a blanket to keep her warm.

After several weeks at a puppy obedience class, I asked the instructor if she had any idea why Cassie might be waking me up when she seemed house trained.

“Have you tried covering her cage with a blanket?” she asked. “Cassie might just be cold and want to snuggle into your bed.”

That night I covered her cage with a blanket and for the first time, she slept through the night. The blanket covered the openings in the cage to allow her breath and body heat to warm the crate while leaving enough circulation for fresh air.

Now every winter, even with mature dogs, I leave a crate open in my bedroom with a blanket covering it. When they get cold enough, often they will wander inside for a while.

What do you do to keep your puppies warm?

Place your arm between your dogs fron limbs for added support.

How to Properly Carry a Dog

Cassie, my Springer Spaniel, never liked my boss ever since he tried to pick her up incorrectly when he first met her.  He placed his hands around her upper back by squeezing her chest under her front legs (the armpit method).  Cassie jumped away from him and never let him even attempt to pick her up again.  Although there may have been other reasons that she disliked him, her first impression stuck after that attempt to pick her up.

So after reviewing you tube videos, I noticed that no one showed the method that I use to carry a dog.  I support their chest by placing my arm between their front legs.

The video below shows several methods to pick up a dog.  It also shows how to carry a dog with a rear-end injury, which I had with my first springer, Kaylee. She broke her rear leg into five pieces after falling off a cliff.  She then needed a bone graft to save the leg.

The most common method to carry a dog is wrapping your arms around the dogs’ limbs.  This works in most situations, although it is not very comfortable for the dog.

Picking up a dog by wrapping your arms around the dog

Wrap your arms around the dog’s limbs.

I usually place my arm through the dog’s front limbs to support their chest, which creates a more comfortable position.  I can also lean the dog back so more weight is on their rear. My experience has shown this method as very comfortable to the dog.

Place your arm between your dogs fron limbs for added support.

Comfortable way to hold a dog with added support.

If the dog has a rear-end injury, you can use the forklift method.  Beware this puts pressure on their bladder.

Carrying a dog with the forklift method.

Using the forklift method if your dog has a rear end or rear leg injury.

Never carry your dog by squeezing their chest (the armpit method).  Most dogs find it very uncomfortable.

Photo of dog being picked up by their armpits.

Do not pick up a dog by squeezing their chest.

For more information on other dog-related care and concerns, see my other blogs on this site.

I also have a new website for dogs with cancer called Canine Cancer Concerns

I also write copy for newsletters, blogs, case studies and more at Kay9 Environmental.