Steph and Lucy

Building a bond with your groomer!

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Here at Happy Dogs, we feel it’s important to keep our groomers up to date on the latest techniques and grooming styles.  For us to groom your dog to meet your expectations in an efficient and timely manor, it is vital that we stay current in our industry on these important skills.   As a young, learning groomer, I thoroughly enjoy expanding my mind to see things in different perspectives.

I recently attended the All American Grooming Show in Wheeling, Illinois so I could improve my knowledge of the different styles of dog grooming, handling, and care of our pets.  I participated in de-matting classes, learned about and used some of the latest dog products on the market, and also witnessed top show groomers compete in various grooming competitions.

I can assure you that not one groomer grooms the exact same way, which is why it is extremely important to pick a groomer you enjoy and stay with them!  Not only does this keep you, the dog owner, happy and ensures a job well done each time, but it also helps to build trust and a strong bond between your dog and it’s groomer.  Forming this personal relationship between owner, dog, and groomer results in a win, win solution!  For you and your dog’s best grooming experience, we encourage you to stop in to meet our groomers, or contact us via telephone or email.

Get out there; find your groomer, and build that bond.  A genuine bond between you and your groomer that can last a lifetime!

– Stephanie Hiatt, groomer

Why does every dog go through a temperament evaluation?

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Being the new kid can be tough for humans, but did you know it can be tough for your pup as well? Even dogs that spend a lot of time around other dogs can get stressed out in a new environment with new dogs to interact with. All dogs are good dogs, but our off-leash play environment isn’t perfect for every dog.

 While some dogs thrive in group play, some prefer to just hang around people instead. Our temperament evaluation process helps the transition into our daycare playgroup feel welcoming, fun, and determine if it’s a good fit for your pup.

 

The first thing we do is get your dog acquainted with the environment. We begin the evaluation while the playgroups are outside so it’s calm and quiet in our indoor daycare area. This allows your dog to get to walk around, get used to how the floor feels, the smells, the sounds, and get to a balanced state. Every dog is different so we take as much time as needed for the dog to feel relaxed with the surroundings whether it takes a few minutes or more than an hour.

 

Once your dog is comfortable we determine which playgroup will be the best fit. This is determined based on a combination of breed, age, energy level, and information about the dog’s personality at home. One dog is brought in to have the first meet and greet with your dog. We observe closely how your dog greets, interacts, or avoids the other dog. If your dog is calm and still in a balanced state, or enjoying some play, we will continue to introduce more dogs from the playgroup. Once we have introduced all the dogs from the playgroup to your dog the real fun begins.

 

We will move the group to one of our outside yards. Our large back park gives lots of room for the dogs to run and romp around. Often this is when your dog really starts to have a good time exploring and playing. It is covered in our canine turf so your pup won’t get dirty, but they might get wet playing in our pools or fountains!

 

The entire process usually takes a few hours. Once we have completed your pup’s evaluation we will call you to update you on how everything went and answer any questions you might have. The success of your dog’s first day helps them feel safe when they return for daycare or boarding in future.

 

After going through our temperament evaluation, you can be confident that your pup won’t get picked on for being the new kid and will have a great time playing with friends!

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by Ashlie McCormack

Flirt Pole: The dog toy that changed my life

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If you could only supply your pack with one toy for the rest of their lives, what would it be? It’s a tough choice, I know. I have a ball-crazed border collie, an aussie with an unhealthy attachment to his stuffed shark, and a hound dog that thinks a lightning bug is the greatest thing in the world. How could I choose just one toy?! Well, hopefully I’ll never have to, but just in case, I’ve settled on an answer.

Behold, the flirt pole.

I’ve found that a majority of pet owners have never heard of such a thing, which makes it all the more fun to introduce. The flirt pole – a.k.a. absolute magic – is one of the only toys that all five of my dogs go completely nuts over. And on paper, it’s kind of ridiculous. My dogs are obsessed with a chunk of fleece tied to a stick?

Yes, yes they are.

This handy thing is my go-to tool for quick bursts of exercise, building muscle definition, and even improving impulse control. It doesn’t require a giant backyard or any other special equipment aside from the pole itself. And as for the poles, you can make them easily enough if you’re a DIY-er, or they’re available online for around $30 or less. And I’ll be the first to say it was one of the best investments I’ve made.

Once you have the pole, all you need is a dog with a little bit of toy drive or instinct to chase a moving object. As long as they’re interested in catching what’s on the string, you’re all set. Depending on the dog, you can implement rules as far as how long to tug, when to drop, and having them lay down to start again. Changing the speed, direction, and height at which you move the toy will keep your dog engaged for as long as you let the game last.

Admittedly, some dogs just aren’t into it, but for those that are, this thing will become your best friend. It’s perfect for owners whose dogs’ energy outlasts their own since controlling the pole is much less taxing than chasing it. A session with the flirt pole can replace a walk entirely or it’s a fabulous pre-walk game to help settle them down.

For me, it’s an awesome way to exercise each of my dogs individually and give them that one-on-one time on days when I can’t make time for more. 

It’s also important to note that a few dogs aren’t well-suited to a toy like this one: growing puppies, older dogs with poor joints or mobility, and dogs that are overstimulated easily may not be good candidates for a flirt pole.

Taylor Herr

Who Needs Grooming?

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All dogs can benefit from routine grooming! You don’t need to have a poodle with a show coat to reap the rewards of a professional groomer. Dogs of all shapes, sizes, and coat types require some level of coat, nail, and ear care.

We’ll start with the obvious types (i.e. poodles, shih tzus, yorkies, havanese, doodles). These dogs definitely require regular grooming which is at least every 6-8 weeks, sometimes more depending on the amount of coat you want to keep on your dog. These dogs also need regular maintenance done at home in between their grooming appointments, your groomer will appreciate it!

Next up we will talk about the semi-obvious types (i.e. golden, aussies, terriers, collies). Dogs like these may not look like they would require the attention of a groomer but they most certainly do! A groomer can not only tidy up the overall look of your pet, but you would be amazed at the amount of undercoat (all the stuff you vacuum up from your floors, sofa, etc) that we can get off of your dog during an appointment. Also check out our fantastic deshedding service! Again, every 6-8 weeks is ideal to keep your pup’s coat in tip top shape.

Now on to the not so obvious types (i.e. labs, shepherds, huskys, viszlas, boxers). These types of dogs typically have a short coat that would seem like they don’t need the professional attention of a groomer but they benefit greatly from routine grooming. We don’t typically have to do much hair cutting on dogs of this sort but again, the undercoat we can remove is beneficial to them and your sweeper! Regular nail maintenance is crucial also. Nails that become overgrown cause a myriad of health problems for your pet. Again, every 6-8 weeks is a good time frame to keep your pet in optimal shape.

If your dog falls in to one of these categories (it does!), then your dog could use the expertise of a professional groomer!

Jenn Morgan

Training for the Everyday Companion

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Laying a good foundation to help our dogs be better pets

“I don’t want him to do any extra work! He won’t like that!” “She’s just here to keep me company, why would I bother teaching her all that stuff? We won’t ever use it.” “We already took a class with him. What a waste that was – he’s already forgotten it all.”

Trainers hear it all the time. While a growing number of pet owners are getting more involved in the world of training and behavior, there remains a steady population of those who couldn’t be less interested. Some believe training obedience to be a waste of time and energy, while others even find it cruel to make their dogs work for anything at all. As a trainer, this type of mindset frustrates me terribly. As a dog owner, it leaves me completely baffled.

Yes, it’s true that many training regimens and programs these days are too much for the beginner or even long-time dog parents. The industry is advancing quickly to keep up with the fast-growing world of dog sports and events, and the end is nowhere in sight. This can certainly be daunting, but even the pros had to start somewhere. Whether you hope to trial in agility one day or just need to fine-tune your furry companion’s manners, the benefits to basic training are countless.

The most obvious perk is a better behaved dog. No matter how much you adore your four-legged buddy, there is almost definitely at least one thing he does that drives you crazy. Maybe it’s a bad recall, maybe he jumps to greet guests, or perhaps you’ve been struggling with something such as housebreaking. Training allows you to replace these naughty behaviors with acceptable ones instead of having to manage these issues for the rest of the dog’s life. And for those who aren’t facing any major behavioral mishaps at home, training absolutely still has a place in your dog’s routine. For me, I wanted a dog that performs party tricks like fetching a cold can from the fridge. You may be looking to season a travel companion to see the world with you, or maybe you’re looking for your calling doing therapy work as a team. Training will get you there. If nothing else, you’ll strengthen your bond and the mutual respect between dog and owner will grow infinitely, once again leading to a happier, more peaceful life together.

Not only does training help make life with our dogs a little bit smoother for us, it also gives them a steady framework for how their world is supposed to work. Training builds a dog’s confidence and allows you to clearly set the expectations you have. Once your pup understands what you’re asking of him, he knows what to expect in the future when he’s faced with the same thing.

You see, dogs don’t understand situational boundaries. There can’t be gray areas – either something is allowed or something is not allowed. So many of us are guilty of trying to show love by occasionally breaking our own rules, but the only thing this does is create confusion.

Another argument against dog training as a whole is buried in the methods. We have old school owners who use old school techniques pitted against a newer generation of force free advocates who are looking to change the game entirely. Frankly, it can get mean and nasty if you get caught in the wrong spot, but it’s still not a valid excuse for not training at all. Simply find a trainer whose methods align with your beliefs, or spend some time studying on your own and use techniques that you personally agree with. Find a mentor that you can reach out to with questions. Every dog is different and so is every handler, so it may take some time to find a balance that works for you. As long as you remain respectful and keep your dog’s best interest at heart, the progress will come naturally with patience and persistence.

Finally, one more reminder when it comes to this collective indifference toward our dogs’ behavior is that training isn’t ever over. Taking one class through a major retail chain isn’t going to result in a rock star of a dog that never makes one mistake. In more than a decade of training, I’ve never stopped taking more classes and meeting more trainers. There are conferences and seminars for that sort of thing too. I always learn something new, and oftentimes it’s something that I never would have been exposed to had I not reached out to others. If you think your dog is a lost cause because he barely graduated from Fido 101, think again. Sometimes it just takes more repetition, other times very simple changes in technique or environment can lend to new success.

Long story short, when you undertake any kind of dog training, the dog isn’t the only one being trained. You’re going to learn plenty, too. I absolutely believe that every dog has something to teach you, and they’re not always easy lessons. But despite the struggles and the setbacks, there’s no excuse not to train your dog. He deserves the effort. After all, if you could give him a world that makes perfect sense to him, wouldn’t you?

by Taylor Herr
Daycare Attendant and Trainer

Top 5 Things About Working at the Front Desk

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Hello everyone! My name is Shannon Walter and, as some of you may know, I have worked as a front desk/customer service associate for awhile now at Happy Dogs! I have come to know and love all of our customers (on both two and four legs) and would love to share my favorite things about working at the desk! Here we go!

1. First and foremost, you get to interact with dogs on a daily basis!
I never in a million years imagined I would get paid to work with dogs but I cannot tell you how much I love it and each and every dog that I have the pleasure of meeting! Getting up to come to work is made that much easier knowing that I am walking into a place where your fur babies are constantly entertaining and loving on us!

2. The front desk knows all (or at least we try to!)
I have always been a very organized and detail oriented person, so getting paid to keep track of and schedule appointments, keep everything organized in the store and make sure everything is correct in the computer is my dream job! It may get overwhelming at times doing so many things at once, but I would not have it any other way!

3. I have gained a great knowledge of dog breeds and dog temperaments!
After working here for just about a year and a half, I am amazed at how much I have learned about dog breeds and the behaviors that accompany dogs! It has been a lot of fun expanding my knowledge about your four-legged family members!

4. I get a taste of everything that we do at Happy Dogs!
While most positions in our facility are specific to one service that we provide (daycare/boarding or grooming), the front desk gets to dip their toes in every service we offer! Through scheduling grooming appointments, daycare/boarding reservations, helping self wash and retail customers, and much more, this position has the pleasure of working on something new with every customer who walks through the door and every phone call that comes in! (Always something new an unexpected, much like this lawn mower riding dog, haha!)

5. Last but not least, our customers are the best!
While our daycare attendants love to brag that they get paid to “hang out with dogs all day”, the front desk associates have the privilege of getting to know both our human and fur baby customers! I can safely say that our customers at Happy Dogs are some of the sweetest people I have had the pleasure of helping, and I look forward to seeing our customers (and their dogs) every day! (Our customers make me just about as happy as head scratches make this pooch!)