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Happy Dogs

Jackpot! – Choosing the right training treats

By General

Treats are often one of the basic staples that come to mind when one thinks about modern dog training. We want to motivate our dogs to do as we ask, and what better motivation than a tasty snack? Humans are much the same in this regard. Let’s face it, you’re probably a little more likely to try something new if there’s a dish of your favorite dessert waiting for you when you’ve finished.

But, how hard would you work for a plate of lettuce or a plain piece of bread?

I like to make that comparison because it’s easier to think in terms of human motivation. All the time, I see well-meaning folks bringing regular ol’ Milkbone biscuits with them to training class. I applaud them for bringing treats and for rewarding their dog, but I also pose a question. How hard would you work for that? Does it smell good? Is that treat motivating enough that you’d obey the same commands over and over and over to have a piece of it?

Generally, the answer is no. And that calls for a change. I’m not here to police your trips down the treat aisle, but I do have a few tips for those of you who are hoping to get the most out of your pup’s afternoon snacks.

One of the top criteria, apart from choosing a treat that is safe and healthy, is to select something with a strong scent. It’s no secret

that dogs love stinky things, so choosing something like salmon-based treats is going to engage their sense of smell. Another thing to look for is size. Small treats, or treats that can be broken easily without crumbling, are ideal. You’re going to be handing out a lot of those suckers, so tiny pieces are going to save you money and save your dog from having to stop and chew up a bone after each successful command. It’s also important to keep in mind the caloric value of the treats you use. High-calorie, high-fat treats aren’t going to be the best option for a pup on a diet.

Another option is to skip store bought treats all-together and shop in your own kitchen. Plenty of dog treat recipes are floating around online, but some household staples are quick and easy to use too. I like to use small chunks of turkey, occasional tidbits of string cheese, and sometimes even Cheerios when I’m working my own dogs. Cheerios are a good base treat to occasionally reinforce what they already know, cheese is perfect for introducing tasks, and turkey is the jackpot treat for when they succeed at something new. That same idea of treat tiers should apply no matter what type of treats you choose. Always have a jackpot ready – you never know when your dog will stumble onto the perfect behavior, and you don’t want to be without a reward when they do.

Odds are, your dogs want to make you happy – they just don’t always know how. It’s our job to show them the ways, and the road to success is going to be much smoother if everyone stays motivated along the way. Always leave room for dessert, but always work for it too.

Taylor Herr

Director of Training at Happy Dogs

A day in the life of a daycare attendant at Happy Dogs

By General

Most of our clients probably think that our job at Happy Dogs is all fun and games, and getting to “play with dogs all day” seems like a dream job for some. In reality, this job comes with a lot more responsibility than it may put off, and can be quite stressful at times! I’m not saying that our job doesn’t have some major perks (because it definitely does,) I’m just saying that it’s not ALWAYS a walk in the park. So here is a quick run-down of our day.

Prior to 9 a.m.:

During this time, staff and management communicate about what the day is looking like in regards to what dogs are here, number of dogs currently in house, number of dogs coming in for boarding, dogs going home, temperament evaluations, baths, and training. We must also take into consideration the weather for that day, and whether or not we are going to be outside for most of the day. At this time of the year outside play can be limited dependent upon the temperatures, we don’t want your fur babies to freeze! On days where there is snow/ice and temperatures well below freezing, we must make sure the dogs are able to go out to potty and come back in quickly and safely! This is also a time for staff to come up with the best, most efficient plan of action for all of this to occur.

9 a.m.- Noon:

This is the most fun, playful time because the dogs are so excited to play with all of their daycare friends! Because of this, when we start letting the dogs out at 9 we don’t rush, in order for all of the dogs to settle down as they go out for the day. We do this to prevent any possible accidents from happening and not allowing the dogs to get too overwhelmed in the process. Once all of the dogs are out into their appropriate groups, we must closely monitor the dogs to make sure play isn’t too rough and the dogs are interacting safely. If we notice a particular dog is overwhelmed, showing any sort of aggression, mounting, or any other concerning behavior, we put a “lead” on the dog and walk them around in order to get them back in a fun, playful behavior. We repeat this process as needed. If a dog continues this behavior after a few brief leash walks, we may give the overexcited pup a longer break. 

During this time we also work on basic activities such as group sits, gate management, name recalls, etc. This is beneficial to us because the dogs gain respect for us, as well as the other dogs in the group. This may also help with basic commands to help the owners at home!

Noon- 1 p.m.:

During this time the dogs are sent in from their play groups for lunch and an afternoon rest. Once the dogs are all in their appropriate enclosure, we begin passing out lunches, filling waters and cleaning up as needed. We refresh waters if any are beginning to look “mucky” from any slobber your dog may have produced during all of their morning play! We also use this time to catch up on laundry and for our trainer to work on any ‘Play and Train’ sessions  scheduled for that day. Lastly, we must come up with an afternoon plan in case additional dogs have come in for the afternoon portion of daycare!

1 p.m.-4 p.m.:

During this time the dogs will have really started to wind down and mellowed out for the day. This session of daycare is much like the first session, but we also like to work on a little more one-on-one interaction.  This may include nose to tail assessments and even just some individual “lovin’s.”

4 p.m.-Close

Once the dogs are up for the day, the madness begins! For the daycare workers, this is mainly the cleaning shift. After long and busy days, the place is likely to be a mess! To make a long story short, basically everything from the indoor daycare and boarding rooms to the groom tub room is vacuumed, sprayed with veterinary disinfectant, and scrubbed down. In addition to this, we must clean enclosures as the dogs go home, keep up with laundry, dishes, as well as feed dinners.  All of this must be done diligently, but in a timely manner in order for all of the evening duties to be completed.

7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

And last but not least,  members of our staff let the dogs out one last time for a potty break. Finally, the boarding dogs get some extra attention before being tucked into bed for the night!


Eden Howells,

Daycare Attendant

Update on Tiny: Starting a new year in a new home!

By General

After being with us here at Happy Dogs for a few months, Tiny was getting a bit stressed and really looking forward to going back home, although he wouldn’t be going back from where he came.

So the chance arose for one of us to foster him. We all have dogs, some more than others, so some of us really didn’t have the space for him.

Somehow I knew from the start he’d be a perfect addition to my pack, if even just for a short time, and maybe I could find him a good home along the way. So I brought him home with me; he loved riding in the passenger seat of my truck just hanging his head out the window on the way, as if he knew where we were going. Once we got there, the meet and greet began! He took immediately to my Staffordshire Terrier, Ms. Maia. Chasing her around the house and playing, and cuddling later that night. I knew then that his home would be nowhere else but here with us.

Fast forward about a month or so, it’s Christmas time and Tiny has made his own special place here in our home.  We made sure his Christmas was a great one this year. Cookies, sweaters, and bones for all the dogs!

We’ve learned a lot about him in the time he’s been home with us. Vet records show he’s a lot older than what we were told when he was surrendered to us (we were under the impression he was 6 or 7; he’s actually 13!).

He has congestive heart failure and is on medication for it;  we are also working with him to lose a few pounds (He’s down from 16 to 14 now).  But most importantly, we have learned that he is content right here at home with us, and that’s where he’s going to stay.

He’s happier and more active than ever and we’re committed to giving him the best years of his life that we can.

So for the new year, Tiny will have all the love and couch cuddles he could ever wish for.


 – Casey Redwine

Daycare Attendant, Happy Dogs

Winter Foot Health for your Dog

By General

Keeping your dog’s feet healthy during the winter months is an important part of keeping your dog comfortable and happy.  Dogs need traction on the icy sidewalks and parking lots.  To help provide the natural traction of the paw pads, it’s important to keep the hair on their feet and in their pads trimmed, and it also stops the snow from sticking to the long fur and turning into ice balls when they come back inside.

You will notice your dog licking its feet to try to keep them clean.  Dogs with especially thick hair on their feet and in their pads, such as cocker spaniels, poodles, shih-tzus, and doodles, need our assistance to keep those paws healthy. Wet hair between toes can cause foot fungus because it is a dark, warm and wet environment. It is like walking around with wet socks on our feet. If the paws are trimmed, the moisture can dry faster when indoors.

If the hair on your dog’s feet is long and thick, we tend not to notice as readily how long the toenails have grown. Long toe nails make walking more difficult, especially for dogs that are older and arthritic, or have joint problems.  Think of trying to walk in the snow, up and down stairs, and getting in and out of the car with shoes that are a size too big for you .

         Or you can opt for snowshoes!

We all want comfort for our fur-children during the cold, unpredictable Indiana winter months. Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year, and less time cleaning that melting snow that Fido leaves behind on your freshly cleaned floors!

I personally do not like stepping into a wet spot on my wood floors with the clean socks that I just put on!  Eeeeewwwwww   🙁


Jackie Quinn, Groomer

Gifts for Your Favorite Dog Lover

By General

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and my shopping list is growing just as quickly. Every year it seems I have more people that I’m buying gifts for – partners, kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, friends, teachers, neighbors…..I could go on and on. Narrowing down ideas and pounding out a budget is time-consuming and sometimes incredibly stressful. It’s tough enough to find one perfect present, let alone perfect gifts for twenty or thirty people!

Luckily for me, a good number of the people on my list this year are dedicated, hardcore “dog people,” which takes quite a bit of the guesswork out of my shopping trips. As I’ve been browsing and brainstorming, I’ve put together a collection of unique items that are sure to please any dog lover on your list.


1.  Canine Caricatures

These adorable, fully-personalized pieces of art are perfect for any pup around, especially those that may have their fair share of quirks. When I was searching for an artist to illustrate my pack, I found several amazing options on Etsy. In the end though, I went with PAWtraits by Lauren, who specializes in animals, and I couldn’t be happier with her work.





 2.  Personalized Clay Ornaments

I stumbled upon this amazing little Etsy shop two years ago, but at the time they were already swamped with holiday orders and I had to wait until the following spring to place my order. But let me tell you, it was  worth the wait! These adorable little ornaments are 100% custom-made to match your dog exactly, and will look phenomenal on your tree.

3.  Kurgo Loft Hammock

This is the perfect gift for the adventurous dog parents whose pups tag along everywhere they go. The water-resistant hammock protects the seat from mud, tears, accidents, and all sorts of other mishaps while the hammock style keeps your dog more comfortable and less likely to end up on the floor or the console. The fabric is durable and washable, and will last for years if properly cared for. One size fits most medium-sized makes and models, but may not be appropriate for extra large SUVs or trucks. Find it and others at

4.  Monthly Toy/Treat Subscription Box


This is one of those gifts that could be for the human or the dog, but both will be appreciative! There are a number of services out there now that offer subscriptions for boxes of goodies to be delivered to their doorstep each month. Some of them offer a variety of toys and treats, some are relatively customizable, but each one promises variety and new surprises in each box. Some popular ones are BarkBox, Pet Gift Box, and my personal favorite, Real Pet Food.



5 . The Dogist

This charming book by the instagram-famous thedogist is a photo collection of 1000 dogs on the streets of New York City and beyond. Each photo is accompanied by a sweet or witty caption that offers a glimpse into the life of the pup in the frame. The Dogist makes a great coffee table book that will please recipients and their guests for years and years to come. The Dogist book is available at Amazon and other major retailers.

There you have it! Whether you need something cute and personal or something useful and rugged, one of these awesome gifts is bound to be a hit for any dog lover on your shopping list. Not to mention, these are some great ideas to toss out there if anyone comes around asked what YOU would like under the tree this year!

Taylor Herr

Director of Training at Happy Dogs

Shoo flea, Please don’t bother me!

By General


Fall is the worst time for our enemy “The Evil Flea “.  Just because the weather is turning colder and we have had a few frosts does not mean those pesky insects are gone.  They are in fact making their last desperate efforts the multiply before they go underground for winter.  A flea can survive underground for 200 days. If we do have a real freeze that is where they go to survive ! As soon as the temperature is above freezing they are out there again searching for their blood meal on your poor dog.



 The flea dirt you see on your dog looks like dark brown granules.  It is actually dried blood left to feed the flea larva that hatch out of the eggs the fleas lay.  It is of the utmost importance this time of year to be diligent about keeping up with a flea bath, and follow your monthly flea preventative. Dogs can be very allergic to the flea bites, chewing themselves and leaving brown stains on their fur, which is a stain from the dogs saliva.  If your dog is losing hair, your vet can give the dog something to help relieve the itch and stop the endless cycle of chewing.



Do not feel hopeless in your quest to fight the fleas.  If you surrender the fight, the fleas will get worse, and we do not want them to “Win the battle”.

 ~ Jackie Quinn, Groomer

Tiny…the story of One Happy Dog!

By General

Tiny’s Transformation

Every now and then here at Happy Dogs, we encounter dogs with unusual, sometimes tragic, home circumstances. That was the case for Tiny the Chihuahua, who was surrendered to our care. Here is a glimpse into his story:

One Friday afternoon, a desolate, overweight, and seemingly handicapped Chihuahua came hobbling through our doors. He was surrendered to one of our long time employees, who had been asked to help with his ill human companion. We came to know him as Tiny and little did we know the huge impact he would have on us all.

Tiny came from a loving home, but due to the difficult circumstances his owner was going through, his living conditions were sub par. Tiny’s owner became unable to care for herself, let alone anotherliving being. Eventually she came to terms with the fact that Tiny needed more than she could provide, and she made the difficult choice to reach out for help.

From the moment he stepped through our doors, it became apparent that Tiny would need a lot of TLC in order to be a “Happy Dog.” He hung his head in the corner of his enclosure, couldn’t walk across gravel, and often panted excessively due to being overweight. We were told that he wasn’t potty trained, as he was forced to eliminate wherever he could find a spot inside of his house. Tiny was just plain sad, and clearly wasn’t living the life that he was meant to have.

We watched as Tiny struggled to do minimal activities, but day by day he continued to improve. In the first two weeks he began to shed some of his weight that kept him from properly walking and made him very uncomfortable. We adjusted his diet and allowed him to exercise as much as he safely was able to, and we noticed a big difference in Tiny. As the weeks went on we could tell that his well-being had greatly improved and he had become very comfortable with our staff.  Tiny was healthier and happier, and seemed to be a totally different dog.

Fast forward to now, a month and a half later, and Tiny is completely transformed. He no longer is the seemingly old, depressed Chihuahua that he once was. When we start letting the dogs out for daycare each morning, he runs as fast as he can, even across the gravel, to see his furry and human friends. Tiny even wants to play and will play bite our hands to get us to pay attention to him. When my coworkers and I talk about Tiny, we simply say that he is the HAPPIEST dog we have ever seen.  Our staff absolutely adores Tiny and we’re thrilled about his transformation during his time with us. It’s dogs like Tiny that make our job so rewarding. So whatever Tiny’s future may hold for him, he will forever hold a special place in our hearts. He is still in our care until the right situation arises for him.

By Eden Howells, Daycare Attendant

Steph and Lucy

Building a bond with your groomer!

By General

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?

By General

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!


by Ashlie McCormack

Flirt Pole: The dog toy that changed my life

By General

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