How to Maintain Your Love Affair ... With Your Dog Part Two - Assemble a Great Team

In part one we talked about forming good behavior traits early. Part two focuses on the types of people you want on your dog's 'team.'

Create a Good Team of Advisors

□ Find A Great Vet. One of the best ways to find a great vet is to ask for referrals from friends and neighbors. It is best to ask people whose relationship with their dog is similar to yours. The Humane Society of the US notes some other things to keep in mind would be the convenience: are their hours amenable to your schedule? Is it easy to get an appointment? Do they have an effective emergency system in case your dog slits her foot on a holiday? How many vets are in the practice? How about parking and space to load and unload your dog? If you have an unusual breed of dog, or one that is generally accepted as a 'difficult' breed (like a Pit-Bull, Chow Chow, etc) how comfortable are they handling your pet? Once you've narrowed down your list of vets, schedule an appointment to meet with the staff, take a tour of the facility and ask them for references from their clients.

□ Be a Good Vet Client. When you've found the right vet for you and your dog, it's important that you work hard to maintain the relationship. Know your dog. By understanding his personality and when "not right" is more than just a pulled muscle from an invigorating game of Frisbee? you can help your vet isolate and catch diseases such as Lyme Disease. If you are aware of the nuances of your pet's regular behavior, you will not spend more time than necessary calling or visiting your vet. Keep up to date on preventive care and keep your doctor in the loop if you are trying new or holistic care options. If you have an appointment, be sure to show up on time and make sure your dog is on a leash.

□ Find a Good Groomer. If your dog is of a particularly furry breed and prone to matting, or you are not comfortable setting aside regular 'home grooming' time, it's important for you to find and use a good professional groomer. You can find a groomer through referrals or through the National Dog Groomers Association of America. Before making your dog's first appointment, see if you can stop by and see their facility. During your tour reflect on the following questions. Is it well-lit? Does it smell and look clean? Are its holding cages adequately sized? How does the staff handle their current clients? Do they seem to act gently? Does the groomer keep updated medical and grooming history?

□ Be a Good Grooming Client. Prepare your dog for his trip to the groomers by continuing your in home 'handling' routine. If he's used to people touching his ears and paws, he will be less stressed when a stranger touches him in an unusual environment. Make sure that your dog is up to date on all his vaccinations and veterinary records. Prepare the groomer for your dog and make them aware of any particular needs he has ? if he is geriatric, tends toward nervousness, or if he has any chronic medical problems.

□ Find a Reliable Pet-Sitter. Because you will need to leave your pet at some time in your relationship, it's important that you have found a reliable person or company to care for your pet in your absence. You may be lucky enough to have family or a neighbor who is reliable and always available to care for your pet. However, if you are new to town and don't have any nearby people to call, you should take time to interview and find a reliable pet-sitting company. Ask your vet or neighbors for referrals and be sure to interview a few companies to make sure you have the right fit. Important questions include: are they bonded and insured? Do they have experience with your breed of dog? Do they have back-up plan in case of illness or emergency? If you travel frequently on short notice, it is also important to ask how far in advance you must book to guarantee service. Perhaps most important is to take notice of how they interact with your pet. A couple of places to search on-line for a professional pet-sitter are The National Association of Professional Pet-Sitters or Pet Sitters International.

□ Be a Good Pet-Sitting Client. Whenever possible, book with plenty of time to assure your place on the company's schedule. Many pet-care businesses are run by a single person who may book up early, so once you know your schedule, make an appointment for your pet's care. Be clear about your expectations, if you don't want your pet-sitter to give your pet treats, make it clear. Be sure your dog is up-to-date with all vaccinations and complete all required paperwork prior to your first appointment. You will be asked to provide all pertinent information regarding the health and medical history of your pet. Do not make it difficult for your pet-sitter to park or access your home ? have parking passes and keys ready for your sitter at the time of your initial interview.

Peggie Arvidson-Dailey is the founder of the Pet-Care Business Success University and the author of several articles, books and classes on running a successful home-based business. Go here: http://www.peggiespets.com/wst_page9.html to get your free copy of "243 Tips for Running a Successful Pet-Care Business."

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