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Start Off On The Right Paw!

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The holiday season is upon us and I adore this time of year.

Every year I look forward to this season, enjoying the celebrations and time spent with my family. I also look forward to the influx of puppies at K-9 Coach that follows Christmas and Hanukkah – little balls of flying fur who are in desperate need of training and socialization trailed by new owners who are sleep deprived and a bit in shock as to what the cute little puppy has become: a whirling dervish. Often, by the time we see these puppies, they are already engaged in some behaviors and habits that the new family is not enjoying so much. Last month, we examined the top five things to consider when choosing a pup. If you missed that, look at last month’s Our Town issue or visit us online (www.k-9coach.com) and see our blog section. This month, I focus on bringing a puppy in your home and starting off on the right paw.

Routine – Every dog needs a routine and puppies need a routine even more! Decide when, where, and how the puppy will get exercise, sleep, play, train and potty. REMEMBER – when, where and how. Then decide who is responsible for puppy and when. Stick to this routine, even on weekends. Dogs and puppies on solid routines are faster and easier to housebreak, crate train, teach basic obedience skills, and sleep through the night. Puppies on routines are less likely to have behavioral challenges, housebreaking problems, separation anxiety, or destructive chewing.

Crate – Use a crate from day one. Dogs are naturally den dwelling animals and most puppies feel much more secure and safe in a crate. It is not punishment but, rather, what they would prefer. There are many different types of crates from plastic to metal as well as fabric crates and they all have different pros and cons. Remember that a crate should only be large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around in as well as lie down but not so big that it encourages soiling in the crate. Feed your puppy in their crate. Give them safe toys in their crate. Put them in their crate at random times throughout the day and night. The crate SHOULD NOT only be used when leaving or at bedtime. If you do this, puppy will accept the crate as their own space, will feel safe in their crate and will be safer as well.

Food – Make sure to bring home the food that the rescue or breeder has been feeding your puppy. You may choose to continue that food, or you may choose to switch to another brand. If you do choose to switch to another brand, make sure you mix the current food with the new food. Gradually switch your pups’ food to the new food over several days to avoid gastrointestinal distress. Choose a high quality puppy food and make sure to feed the appropriate amount recommended on the bag or by your vet.

Space – The single biggest mistake new puppy owners make is giving the puppy way too much freedom, space and full access to the house. Loose puppies are puppies in trouble. Choose a safe area that is puppy proof: no wires, furniture that may get chewed on, rugs or carpets that may be hit with a potty accident or family shoes, etc. You may choose to fence off a portion of your home with baby gates. This is highly effective and easily temporary. When the puppy is not in his or her crate or with you, they can play safely in this space. Leave safe toys and interactive toys as well as a small bed for the puppy to lie on in this space. Often, families choose to create this space where they spend time as a family so as to include the new puppy in family time and make sure the family can watch for when the puppy may need a potty break.

Toys – Puppies are very curious, exploring their world and teething. These all lead to chewed up legs of chairs and tables or even shoes! Provide your pup with safe, interactive toys to both entertain them and teach them to chew appropriate items. Toys that can be stuffed with treats or dinner are perfect for interactive play as well as good for teething. Remember to remove any toy your puppy is chewing up or swallowing and to avoid toys that mimic your personal items or your children’s toys. Giving an old shoe for example, will teach puppy that shoes are acceptable to chew.

We look forward to seeing all the new puppies in the New Year and recommend puppies start training very early before any behavioral issues set in or habits take hold. As always, our off-leash puppy classes run year-round and you can start at ANY time once puppy has received their second round of shots and up until they are 18 weeks of age. And, for those of you who may have missed this window or have an older pup, our Winter Quarter of all our classes will begin in January. So, make sure to visit us and sign-up now.

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Top 5 Things To Consider When Choosing A Dog

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As the holidays approach, many families begin thinking about getting a new pup or dog to share their lives with. On average, a dog will live 10 to 15 years. That’s a big commitment. Every family has their own needs, schedule, personality, space and time limitations, etc… Unfortunately, many families often choose pups based on appearance and not on those characteristics that will make the dog a good fit for their specific family.

You and your potential dog deserve a lifetime of happiness together and we are happy to provide the following to assist you in this goal.

Do you have any children or are you planning to have children? Pick breeds known to tolerate children well – some breeds may surprise you. Boxers, Bichon Frises, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Pugs, Keeshonds and Collies are good choices.

How active is your lifestyle? Some breeds such as Border Collies, Boxers, Retrievers and all hunting breeds, require several hours of heavy exercise every day – such as daycare or long runs. Other breeds such as Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Pomeranians and Westies have lower exercise requirements.

Do you have allergies? Try these breeds:

  • Bichon Frise, a toy breed. Virtually hypoallergenic, this breed sports a double coat of loose curls with a fine, silky undercoat, and needs skillful grooming.
  • Belgian (or Brussels) Griffon. Comes in two types: rough-coated and smooth. Dogs of this breed with a rough, wiry and dense coat are non-shedding, however the smooth-coated variety does shed.
  • Cairn Terrier. Shaggy outer coat with a soft undercoat. Its natural “bed-head” coat does need careful maintenance, but hardly sheds at all.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs. This strong, muscular breed, once valued as “work dogs” that herded & caught fish, and carried messages between ships, has a single-layered, non-shedding coat.
  • Shih Tzus (correctly pronounced “sure-ds,” not “sheetsue”), meaning “lion” dog. This breed needs daily grooming with a bristle brush, but sheds little hair.
  • Irish Water Spaniels. This breed has long, curly hair and a thick undercoat (to keep them warm in cold water), needs expert grooming, but still sheds little to no hair.


K-9 CoachWhat activities do you want to do with your dog? Pick a breed that suits those activities and understand that genetics cannot be changed. Like to train? Pick a breed that needs and desires lots of work. If you want to go to the lake, pick dogs who love to swim. Like to run? Pick dogs that are high energy. Want to go to dog parks? Pick a breed that is historically social.

Check out local rescues and do not buy from the Internet or a pet store. Internet breeders may be puppy mills, selling mentally unsound or physically sick puppies and dogs as well as pet stores dogs. However, many very good dogs are waiting for new homes, and local shelters often have already done some of the training for you. Groups we like include:

• Adopt a Golden
• Angels Among Us
• Atlanta Boxer Rescue
• Atlanta Humane Society
• Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption (APRA)
• Georgia Homeless Pets
• Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS)

We hope that the above will help you in making the best decision for you and your family. If you would like additional help, please do not hesitate to contact K-9 Coach for one of our Matchmaker Consultations. Just call our training department for more information.

October “National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month”

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Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption (APRA), is a non-profit, no-kill shelter dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs and cats so they can be adopted into safe and loving forever homes year-round, but the month of October is set aside to focus awareness on the importance of controlling the pet population and reducing the amount of euthanized healthy, adoptable animals in animal control facilities.
October is “National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month,” and APRA is offering adoption promotions throughout the entire month. APRA focuses specifically on the following areas to help promote pet adoption:

  • Acquiring 75-80% of our population from high kill rate animal control facilities, giving them a second chance at life
  • Spaying/neutering all acquired animals
  • Providing immediate and proper medical care before adoption
  • Providing education on responsible pet ownership to all adopters
  • Careful interviewing to ensure each pet is placed in a home that meets its needs
  • A pre-adoption training regimen for dogs to ensure they are forever home-ready
  • Enriching the lives of cats to enhance their shelter stay

Please consider visiting Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption during National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month to find your next new best friend. If now is not the time to add a pet into your family, consider fostering an animal and saving a life!

Adoption Center:
4874 South Atlanta Road
Atlanta, GA 30339

Adoption Hours:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday – 11 am to 5pm
Thursday – 11 am to 7pm
Saturday – 12 pm to 5 pm
Sunday – 1 pm to 5 pm

Additional Information
Phone: 404.815.6680
Email: info@atlantapetrescue.org
Web: www.atlantapetrescue.org

Back to School

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As September approaches again, that means it’s back to school time for many of our clients and their households.

With all the hustle and bustle of getting the kids ready and off for school, it can be easy to forget the dog. Back to school is an exciting time for the family. However, for your dog it can mean loneliness and boredom and a major change in routine. All summer long, there was most likely someone home with your dog — the older students on break, or little ones with a babysitter. Now that everyone is back to their fall schedules, your dog may feel neglected and like someone turned out the lights in his world. This month, we take a look at ways to avoid training and behavioral challenges when school kicks back off.

– Dogs can suffer from depression and separation anxiety – just like their human family members. Symptoms include low energy, loss of appetite, hiding or cowering and unwillingness to play. Separation anxiety manifests can include excessive barking and whining, frantic attempts to escape, destructive chewing, and potty accidents in the house. The difference in these two issues are best illustrated as follows: a dog with separation anxiety will be extremely excited when family members get home while a depressed dog may not greet you at all. If your dog has never experienced “back to school,” prepare early. If your dog has gone through this routine in past years, he may remember it and settle in more quickly. Stick as close to your normal routine as possible. Seek the guidance of pet professionals in severe cases.

K-9 Coach– Changes in family routines and hectic schedules can often lead to a sudden lack of exercise for your pup. A lack of exercise can lead to a host of issues including chewing, digging, barking, howling and more. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise by either doing early morning walks or play sessions or enrolling your dog in a safe doggie daycare. If you choose to enlist a daycare, make sure you research you options early and start your pup in the play groups before your family routine changes.

– Save a special toy that your dog really enjoys and give it to them just before leaving. Interactive toys, that can have treats or meals placed in them, are best. Fill the toy with yummy treats, or your dog’s meal, and head out. Remember, do not make a big production of leaving. When come home, take the toy away and put it up. This way, the toy remains “special.” Multiple interactive toys can be hidden around the house for those long days alone. Make sure to browse our interactive toy section for our favorites!

– Plan after school activities for your children and their pet – play fetch, plan a family game of soccer or go for a hike together. Do some of the games we told you about a few months ago. Encourage your children to spend quiet time doing their reading out loud to your dog! Older children can walk the dog or enroll in a K-9 Coach class to keep everyone working as a team.

– If doggie daycare is not for your dog, and it isn’t for some, have a neighbor or a paid professional check in on them at least once a day. Even a quick 15 minute fetch or snuggle session can alleviate boredom and depression. Before heading off to school, make sure your dog is well behaved and will listen to the visitor. Encourage the visitor to reload the interactive toy for your dog just before leaving to keep them entertained.

As households head back to school, make sure to use the tips above and make sure to stop by K-9 Coach and put your pup in school too! As always, thank you for your business and we look forward to seeing all of you!

Walking the Dog – How our body language and actions transfer to our dogs

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I am working on getting back into the swing of running, having been on much too long a break from physical exercise. Yesterday morning, I took my dog for an early walk to avoid the heat and, to my surprise, it was fairly busy on our walk. We passed many different people and a few dogs. I noticed the first person we passed caused a change in Relic’s body language, in a way that was very slight but noticeable to me, a self proclaimed dog nerd and hyper-aware of body language. I noticed but did not think much of it as it was a little dark still and the man was staring right at her the whole time. German Shepherd’s tend to be a bit “guardish” and Relic can get a bit vigilant around strangers with me in the dark.

K-9 CoachSo, on we went and I closely observed her and then started to notice a trend: when any person got within 20 feet or so walking towards us, she would very slightly tense, ears would go a bit forward, breathing would change, and she would go just ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, toward them. I was taken back and began thinking “oh no, we are not going to start this habit of finding all strangers on the trail a threat!” I was rolling thoughts around in my head on why she was offering these different, not desirable, behaviors and what I needed to start working on right away to prevent this behavior from gaining traction.

I am relaxed on our outings, feeling very safe and happy to be out with her, so I knew I was not putting off any signals. Or so I thought. I should point out this trail is a common sidewalk width and many people seem to find Relic a bit intimidating. I had noticed very early on in our lives together that people gave her a lot of space and some even avoided us all together. Not wanting anyone to feel uncomfortable, I tend to shorten up my lead and draw Relic closer to me when people are coming close. I also walk with headphones and while I am normally very chatty, I never speak to anyone other than my dog during these outings. As I was thinking this, I observed two ladies coming towards us on the trail and as I normally have begun doing, shortened my leash and drew her close to me. Immediately, she switched gears and I observed the same change in her body language.

And there it was: I was communicating something to her via my leash. So, I tested my theory. Once we were alone with no others around us, I shortened my leash, which communicates a micro amount of tension from me to her. She immediately changed body language and started scanning the area despite the fact that no one was around. It clicked, yep, I was teaching her to alert on people passing on the trail.

I work with reactive dogs every day and have for a very long time, so I know the causes for most leash reactivity: human leash behavior. And here I was going down that same rabbit hole – not because I have any anxiety about my dog or my inappropriate use of inappropriate tools, but because I am trying to prevent others from feeling anxious or crowded on the trail. I suspect I would have had a behavior issue rear it’s head had I not had the experience to notice these micro-changes in her behavior long before the issue ingrained in my dog. I am fortunate to have noticed this change on this particular morning.

So, the next time you are out with your dog, take notice of what you do when others come close or want space from your dog. Do you tighten the leash to draw your dog closer? Are you, in your effort to be polite, signaling your dog that this person coming toward you is threatening or making you feel uncomfortable? I plan to work on this right away with her and will tighten my leash in different places and in different circumstances because this may happen sometimes. I will also work toward a verbal command of “get close” so I have no need to put the tension on the leash at all. I am also going say hello to people and avoid any odd behavior on my behalf. All of this will be done in an effort to head off what I likely would have caused in Relic: stranger danger reactivity.

Stay tuned as I tell you all how it works out and make sure you are not making these same micro-errors with you own dogs! Train a verbal command while desensitizing them to micro-tension.

Warm Weather Safety

18_1paper_dog_days_of_summerSpring is in the air and after a long winter, the pups are primed to get outdoors and blow off some steam. Birds are chirping, flowers and trees are blooming and the sunshine is feeling wonderful. So how do you make sure you keep your canine buddy safe this spring?

This month we focus on the following K-9 tips to keep you and your pup safe and healthy as the weather gets hotter.

Tip #1: Start your FLEA AND TICK PREVENTATIVE now. Many people stop these products during the winter months and, if you did as well, now is the time to discuss these with your vet and get started. We had a mild winter, so they’ll be bad this year!!!

Tip #2: While you are discussing flea and tick preventative with your vet, go ahead and check to make sure your pup is up to date on their VACCINATIONS AND HEARTWORM PREVENTATIVE. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitos and the Southeastern United States has the largest prevalence of heartworm disease in the country. The disease disrupts heart, liver and lung function and can be fatal. Make sure your pup is taking their preventative!

Tip #3: Springtime is time to start cleaning up the YARD AND LANDSCAPING. Keep dogs off of lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions). Selecting plants and landscaping products that are safe for dogs will go a long way in preventing toxicities from occurring. Toxic bulbs such as hyacinths, tulips, daffodils and certain lilies, as well as certain fertilizers and mulch, can be toxic as well. Store these products in an inaccessible area like a shed when not in use.

Tip #4: Let the sneezing and wheezing begin! Dogs may develop allergies to plants, pollens, fleas, and many other substances. Spring-time ALLERGIES in dogs may show up as skin problems, with dogs becoming very itchy, experiencing hair loss or inflamed skin and may even show a change in behavior due to the irritation of the allergy. However, allergies are not only a problem for our canines, but us as well! Your pup’s coat will carry pollen, dust and more outside allergens into your home. Regular grooming and bathing can help keep your pup AND your family healthy and lessen the allergies you may be suffering from.

Tip #5: Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can SUNBURN. Limit your dog’s exposure during the day and apply sun block to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside. If your dog does happen to become sunburned, 100% pure Aloe Vera gel is the best way to quickly and easily soothe your dog’s skin.

Tip 6: Most dogs enjoy SWIMMING, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before trying to make him swim. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association: 15 minutes of swimming is the equivalent of a two mile walk. Also, ocean currents and undertow can make swimming even more intense and potentially dangerous. Remember – we offer swimming lessons here as part of our playcare and lodging enrichment services.

Tip #7: Dangers from EXCESSIVE HEAT need to be avoided. Never, ever leave a dog unattended in a hot vehicle in the summer months. Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures. Also, asphalt gets very hot – 77 degree temperatures result in 125 degree asphalt! Place the back of your hand against the pavement and hold it there for 11 seconds… if it’s uncomfortable for you to leave your skin there, then you shouldn’t make your dog do it.

Tip #8: OFF-LEASH WALKS in the woods, etc… are great. Practice your off-leash behavior in a large fenced area before unclicking the leash in the woods. It’s important to make sure your pup has a really good recall and isn’t going to run off. Also, make sure they have a proper identification tag and are microchipped. We don’t want to have to post any “lost dog” notices.

Tip #9: Most dogs love CAR RIDES and hanging their heads out the window to feel the wind on their faces. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.

I hope these K-9 points help you and your pup stay safe and get the most out of this great time of year. As always, K-9 Coach is here to help you with any of your dog needs. Whether through training, playcare, lodging or grooming, we are always striving to help you develop a lifetime of positive memories with your pup(s).

got -training

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Got Training..?

Got Training..?

Got Training..?

Developing a Bond with Your Pup

Let’s be honest for a minute…

There’s nothing quite fulfilling as the bond
between a dog and their beloved human.

New Picture (1)A dog’s attachment to you is fundamental to their overall well-being AND to yours. You can look it up. Dog owners have, as a general rule, healthier hearts; lower blood pressure, better cholesterol levels, lower stress and generally more active lifestyles.

There are lengthy articles and scholarly journals on the subject of this bond. However, our purpose here is not to analyze the dog and human relationship in a detailed manner. The purpose of this article is to provide you with a few simple and effective tips and techniques to help develop the bond between you, your family and your pup. After all, we want this to be his forever home!

The following tips are provided to help you and your dog have the relationship you both deserve.

1 – Spend Time Together. The process of bonding begins the moment you bring your pup home. You each begin learning about each other: your expectations, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, etc… The more time you spend together doing things, the more the relationship will grow and mutual trust and respect will develop. Remember, if you have adopted a dog that was abandoned or mistreated, this process will take longer.

2 – Provide for Your Pups Basic Needs. It seems simple, but is absolutely necessary to note. It is so important that The American Kennel Club includes it in their Responsible Dog Ownership Pledge. It reads, in part, “I agree to maintain my dog’s health, safety, and quality of life…” Remember, for many rescue dogs, these are things which have not always been provided in the past and the simple act of doing so goes a long way to developing that bond.

3 – Train Your Dog. Training has been shown to be the single most important thing that keeps a dog in his or her “forever” home. A positive reinforcement training program will reward your dog for doing what you want them to do. In doing so, it will quickly build trust and cooperation. Some specific benefits include:

• Time Together – Training is done as a team – together. In committing to training time together, you are also committing to one-on-one, quality time and your relationship will strengthen.

• Expectations – By learning what it is that you want them to do, they can achieve a primary goal: pleasing you.

• Confidence – Training improves your dog’s confidence and results in less anxiety and fearfulness – especially for those who were abandoned or abused.

• Mental Stimulation – A bored dog is often a destructive dog. Regular training provides exceptional mental stimulation and helps to burn off excess energy.

• Teamwork – Your dog learns to look to you for direction and guidance. You experience pride in your pups accomplishments.

• Happiness – A well-trained dog results in better behavior and a trained dog inevitably receives more affection from you and the general public, than an unruly one. Additionally, a well-trained dog is a fully participating member of the family and can join in whatever activities the family does together.

4 – Groom Your Dog. A clean, well-groomed dog is a happier and healthier pup. Regular grooming gives your dog experience with human touch / handling. In order to live safely in close contact with humans, dogs need conditioning to human touch. Grooming is an ideal way to provide this. Not only will grooming deepen your bond with your dog, it will also make physical examinations at the vet less stressful. An additional benefit, and one that is important, is that well-groomed dogs get more affection and that, of course, results in greater human bonding.

5 – Play & Exercise. Dogs need play and exercise to truly be healthy. So, play together. Some ideas include fetch and frisbee, of course, but also games like hide and seek, soccer, water-based games (for those who like to swim), long walks with play breaks, etc…

In all of the activities above, HAVE FUN together!

Every February and March we begin getting “this dog is driving me crazy!” phone calls from people who got a dog for the holidays. It’s an unfortunate reality and one that is not unique to puppies, or recently adopted adult dogs, or dogs purchased from a breeder, etc… Every situation is unique, but every one, regardless of specifics, is more easily addressed and resolved when the bond between family and dog is strong. To illustrate this, please imagine the “my dog keeps running off” complaint. If your pup is bonded with you and someone leaves the front door open, sure they might go into the front yard and explore a little, but run off… Why would they run off when it’s more fun with you than it is out there???

We hope that the above tips help you to create an unbreakable bond with your new dog. Josh Billings had it right when he said “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” You and your pup deserve this relationship and we are always happy to help you achieve it.

Back to School Blues?

Summer vacation is winding down and school shopping is picking back up. Uniforms to purchase, schedules to set and new teachers to meet take over our lives at this time of year. Our schedules tend to become very hectic and there seem to be less free hours in the day for extra activities – especially for our four legged friends.

In this post, we focus on how to make sure you are still meeting your pups need for education, a.k.a mental and physical stimulation, as your calendar fills up with commitments for school.

– Classes are a great way to keep your pup busy and obedient. As the time for long walks and fun hikes gives way to PTA meetings and soccer games, it is hard to remember your pup needs to continue thinking and exercising. Consider an agility class, nosework or RALLY-O as a fun way to keep you on track with and committed to your pup.

– Come to playcare! As your days get busier, consider a few days a week of playcare! Let your pup hang out with his friends and burn off negative energy while enjoying mental stimulation. Playcare a few days a week can improve your dog’s overall mental and physical well being as well as socialize them to all sorts of people and doggie pals.

– Even though the neighborhood pools are shutting down, our indoor, heated pool is revving up! Either as part of private lessons with our training staff, or as playcare and lodging enrichment, swimming is a great zero impact activity that will keep them exercised and healthy. A 15 minute swim is equivalent to a 2 mile run.

– Throw out that dog dish and get a puzzle feeder! Instead of a quick walk or outside yard play followed by a long day of solitude, feed your pup from a puzzle feeder that will serve as a slow feeder to improve digestion AND provide mental stimulation. Puzzle feeders exercise the mind and will help relieve the stress of being alone all day. It is best to use these after you leave for the day. Your pup has to eat, so use that time wisely!

– Schedule in time for the dog. While working on your daily calendar, remember your pup and schedule in time for them. Twenty minutes of fetch, a quick walk or playtime with the kids will make a world of difference. Commitment to your calendar will help you stay committed to your pup too!

I hope the above tips help you and your pup to transition back to school without any issues. If you do notice their behavior decline, we’re always here to help. Now, if we can just get the kids to go to bed at a decent time, we’ll be set!

K9 TIPS : 8 Thanksgiving Day Foods That Could Harm Your Dog

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Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family and friends, for giving thanks and,  of course, for eating all the yummy foods that symbolize this most American holiday!

If your family includes a dog, it might surprise you to see some of the foods we all enjoy on that day, might actually be hazardous to your family pet

Click on the image to see a selection of the foods that you should keep out of the way of your four-legged friend.

Happy Thanksgiving, and a huge thank you to all our customers, staff and of course, the dogs!  We wouldn’t have half so much fun without you!!!

Amber and all the K-9 Team!


Thanks to The Doggington Post for inspiration!