Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adopting a rabbit: Choosing the right companion for your home!

As many of you know, I support the "Make Mine Chocolate" campaign that encourages people not to buy rabbits for Easter. However, rabbits make great companions and are fantastic pets in the right home. There are many homeless rabbits at a shelter near you and they are ready to be adopted! Rabbit personalites vary widely and like any animal, there may be behavioral issues you have to deal with. Take your time at the shelter to choose the right rabbit for you. Shelters are happy to answer your questions and let you play with the rabbits to get a feel for what they are like. If you already have a rabbit and are looking for a buddy, many shelters let you bring your rabbit in for play dates so that they can choose their own friend.

If you know me personally, you have heard me talk about how cute, sweet, and intelligent my rabbit is. Hershey has been a faithful companion for almost 8 years and she constantly amazes me. However, it hasn't aways been easy. Everytime I move, I have to litter train her again. Even though I am careful to make sure cords are tucked away, I have still had a few destroyed. Somehow, my phone charger ended up on the floor once and by the time I found it, the cord was chewed in half. When I first got Hershey, I had to train her not to dig up carpet. Landlords usually frown upon this. Speaking of landlords...many apartment complexes classify rabbits as farm animals so it can be difficult to find a complex that will allow them. They are out there if you do your research. Sometimes you can get people to write a letter of reference for your rabbit and convince a complex to make an exception. These are just a few of the troubles I have had thoughout the years. For the most part, Hershey has been very easy and she is definitely worth it.

I would like to share a list of questions to ask the rescue to help you choose your furry friend:

-Is the rabbit shy or friendly?
-Can the rabbit get along with other pets?
-Does the rabbit get along with children?
-Does the rabbit like to be picked up and cuddled?
-Does the rabbit get frightened easily?
-How old is the rabbit?
-What is the lifespan of the particular breed?
-Has the rabbit had any health problems?
-Is the rabbit already litter trained?
-Do you know of any behavioral problems?
-Does the rabbit shed a lot?
-What diet is the rabbit currently on? (If the rabbit is used to eating mostly pellets, veggies will have to be slowly added in)

These are just a few questions to get you started. I am happy to answer any questions you may have to help you find the right pet for your home. For more tips about animals, funny videos, and other valuable information, please check out my Facebook page at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Homemade Diets to Ensure Healthy Cats and Dogs

Making your pets food at home can help to ensure that you know what your pets are eating and that it is not contaminated. Remember all of the recalls back in 2007? So many animals got sick from contaminated food. I am still hearing about recalls often so it scares me to feed commercialized pet food. Also, most pet foods have additives that the pets really don't need.

If you can't make your pets food at home, I suggest that you stick with a high quality, grain free canned food. I can help you to choose brands that I trust. That is not a guarantee that they are perfect, but it is definitely a start. My own cat gets a combination of raw food and canned. My ultimate goal would be to feed only raw. However, I want her to get a variety of meats.

Watch Doctor Karen Becker's video of why you should feed homemade pet food.
If you decide to go that route, I am happy to help you find resources on how to do it properly.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Small Dogs Need Constant Supervision- Even in Your Own Back Yard

Small dogs can be targets for several types of predators. An acquaintance learned that the hard way this week. She let her Pomeranian out to potty as she always did. She only left her unsupervised for a few minutes but when she got back, her dog was gone. Her yard backs up to land so it isn't a surprise that wild animals live nearby. Her sister and brother-in-law helped her search and they found several foxes living nearby.

I am sad to say, that this isn't the first story I have heard of dogs disappearing like this. Tiny dogs can be considered prey to fox, coyote, hawks, and owls. With the constant new construction in our area, we are running wild animals out of their natural habitats. They are getting braver around people and dogs can be easy targets. I know that I have personally seen all four predators in Lewisville and Flower Mound. In fact, I saw three grey fox in broad day light. I always thought they came out at dusk and dawn, but that isn't always the case. I saw them standing in a field by somebody's private fence. I found myself wondering if there was a dog on the other side.

We can coexist with our wild friends, but we have to be smart about it. Don't leave garbage out longer than you need to for trash pick up, keep you yard tidy, and supervise all small pets!!! If you have any concerns about wildlife in your area, please contact The DFW Wildlife Coalition

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Make Mine Chocolate Campaign

Every Easter many children get pet store rabbits as Easter gifts. Soon after, the shelters are flooded with calls because the children don't play with the rabbits and they don't want them anymore. Make Mine Chocolate is a campaign reminding people not to give rabbits as gifts and buy chocolate rabbits instead. You can "like" them on Facebook and spread the word here:

If you have older children who are able to be gentle with animals and understand that most rabbits don't enjoy being picked up, a rabbit may be a great pet. There are several rabbit rescues in DFW area that are at full capacity and could use your help. They would love to adopt out rabbits to good homes and are happy to teach you what caring for a pet rabbit entails. Even though they are small, they are just as much work as a dog or cat. With proper care, rabbits can be affectionate loving friends!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wild animals need care too!

With constant weather changes and the continued destruction of land, mother nature needs help from you to care for her wild critters! This winter was hard for even many of the southern states so there was less growth of food for animals in the area. Even if you have a small space, you can help. My mom has an average house in the middle of the city but her back yard is a peaceful haven for many wild critters. She tells me that they are her pets too. Because of all the new construction in the area, animals are being run out of their natural homes. Rabbits, hawks, squirrels, butterflies, hummingbirds, and even ducks are showing up in areas they wouldn't normally. Setting up your yard for the animals is pretty simple and even better, is that when you plant the native plants for the wildlife, you save on water bills too!

Even Florida got hit hard this year. If you go to the store, you may notice that sunflower seed has almost doubled in price. This may mean that people who normally feed the birds, can't afford to feed them anymore. However, growing sunflowers in your yard is easy. Pick a small space in your yard to grow the sunflowers. Once they finally grow seed, they may hang down and not look as pretty, but it is a lot of fun to watch the birds hang upside down and eat from the flowers. You could also harvest the seed and put it in a feeder.

There has been a reduction in butterfly populations because of construction and also because of chemicals used on our lawns. Butterflies need host plants to feed on as caterpillars and nectar plants to feed from as adults. Each species prefers different kinds of plants. The Dallas discover gardens is always offering classes about how to fix your yard up to attract the butterflies and not use poisons. Check out a list of events here: You can also download an app for your smart phone to take a garden tour here:

The DFW Wildlife Coalition offers presentations to groups on how to coexist with animals in the city. If you are interested in scheduling a presentation for a group that you are a part of, check them out here:

Just a reminder: Even though animals are coming to our yards to feed, we must remember that they are wild and should stay that way. The more natural we make their food sources, the better. We should not feed them by hand. We don't want them to become too comfortable with humans as there are still people who will hurt them.

If you have any questions about setting up your yard, let me know. If I don't know the answer, I will find out!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Good Vs Bad Dog Play

Sometimes dogs can get a little too rough and the slightest move while playing can break out into a fight. There are signs to be aware of in order to prevent a fight before it starts. Do you know the difference between good and bad dog play? Sometimes the signs are subtle. Check out this video to learn more!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Do you know how to read your dog's body language?

Do you know how to read your dog's body language? What about your kids? Learning how to read a dog not only helps you with dog training, but it also keeps you and your children safe!

Many times, warning signs are subtle and you need to know how to recognize them. Did you know that not all dogs who wag their tail are happy? Once your learn the warning signs, you can use them to make decisions on how to act. There are many calming signals that you can use.

Check out this video on dog body language and stay safe!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Advice from your Lewisville Dog Walker

No matter how well behaved your dog is, you should always keep it on a leash when you are in public. Besides the fact that it is the law, it keeps your dog safe. What if something happens to scare the dog and it takes off running? I have a recent example of that. I was walking a beagle in the park when we saw a cairn terrior. Being the friendly beagle that he is, he howled hello to the other dog. However, the other dog didn't think it was friendly and started running away. I hollered for the owners who weren't paying attention to their dog to go get it. If their dog had been on a leash, it would have stayed safely beside them and they would have realized what was going on. It was so easy for their dog to slip away from them since it was free.

Another time I was walking a small, harmless looking, rat terrior in her apartment complex. However, she is very dog aggressive. All of a sudden, a guy comes walking by with his pomeranian without a leash. The pomeranian got excited and wanted to come see us. I tried to stop the pup by hollering "no". However, the pom was coming up fast. The guy reassured me that she was friendly. He never thought that maybe my dog wasn't. I had to take swift action to ensure that the other dog wasn't nipped on the nose. I have had situations like this happen so many times.

Even if you have the best trained dog ever, please, don't assume that it is safe for them to be off leash. Besides, it's the law to keep our pets leashed at all times in public areas.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pet Rabbit Tricks

I wanted to share Hershey's debut on youtube. She is still learning "in" but she is almost there. Hey, it count's as long as she is halfway across the line, right??? The video is a little dark, but you get the idea. I will try to get more videos of her soon.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Get Help for Your Agressive Dog Before it is too Late!

I am sad to find out that my friend's boston terrier was killed by the neighbor's German Shepherd yesterday. The neighbor was out of town and the GSD's were in their backyard. They broke a hole in the fence, reached in, and grabbed the terrier. Her dog was rushed to the vet and had surgery, but still didn't make it.

This tragedy could have been prevented. It is very important to get proper training for aggressive dogs. This may take time. I have a client with a German Shepherd who was dog aggressive for years. She hired a special trainer and worked with her dog daily. Her dog is now able to go to doggy camp.

Also, be sure your yard is secure and you have a strong fence. Try not to leave them out in the yard all day unsupervised as well. I have heard of cases where dogs were able to scale tall fences.

If your dog needs a trainer I am happy to help set you up with one in your area. I network with as many pet professionals as I can.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Advice from your Lewisville pet sitter

Spring is coming and the signs are already starting to appear. That means lots of baby bunnies!!! Because I am known as the bunny expert to most of my family and friends, I am often called because people are worried that a rabbit's nest has been abandoned. Usually, that is not the case. Because the momma rabbit doesn't want to draw attention to her babies, she doesn't hang out at the nest during the day. She will feed them at dawn and dusk but otherwise, you will not ever see her.

Sometimes I get calls because people are concerned that a rabbit is frozen. It is very common for a stunned rabbit to freeze for a bit. This actually may prevent them from having a heart attack. Rabbits can scare easily. A rabbit that is used to noises would probably just run away. However, sounds like dog barks and lawn mowers can be very scary to rabbits who aren't used to them. If you find a rabbit that is frozen, it is best to leave it and keep an eye on it. However, if you need to move it for it's own safety, go ahead. It is a wive's tale that momma rabbits won't go near their young after a human has touched it.

So, what do you do if you find out that a rabbit's nest really IS abandoned? Maybe the mom was hit by a car or attacked... Call the professionals! Rescuing a wild rabbit is not easy. Even I wouldn't attempt it. It is actually illegal to keep wild animals unless you are a liscensed rehabliltator. Also, they require a lot more attention than most people could give. It is better to let the pros do their job. If you are concerned about a wild rabbit in the DFW area, you contact the DFW Wildlife Coalition. You can read more about wild bunnies here

Monday, March 7, 2011

Advice from Your Lewisville Pet Sitter

Are your children really safe around your dog? Do they know proper puppy etiquette? Many parents tell me that their dogs are so sweet that they wouldn't hurt a fly, but we all have our limits. Even well meaning dogs can accidentally hurt a child. I have heard too many horror stories of dogs getting in trouble with the law because they hurt a child. I have also had people coming to me for help rehoming a dog because of problems with young children. The fact that toddlers are low to the ground, makes it more likely for them to get bit in the face if a dog gets irritated. The most common problem I have heard of is children reaching out to pick up a dog's toy and the dog getting mad. Another issue when children continue to play rough and dogs just get tired of it. Many times puppies who just want to play might mouth with their sharp teeth (please do not allow your pups to do this to you because it isn't cute as they get older)  or a puppy might accidentally knock a child down. It is very important to teach our kids how to avoid these situations before something happens. I am happy to help with ideas and suggestions if you need them!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Advice from your Professional Lewisville Dog Walker

Do you really know how to greet a dog? You might be surprised that you are doing it wrong. While I was on vacation, I read a book that was recommended by one of my wonderful clients, The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell. She pointed out that most people tend to pat dogs on the top of the head. This can be percieved as a threat or an insult to a dog. If you observe dogs when they greet other dogs, you will notice that they usually approach each other from the side and don't look directly at each other. Some dogs may tolerate the pat on the head, but a much more polite approach is to allow the dog to sniff you and THEN pet them. Don't just shove your hand in their face. If a dog wants attention, they will approach you. Give them time to log your smells.  Let them make the first move. If they indicate that they would like affection after that, you may now offer pets but you should still avoid the head.

If you want more information on the way dogs interpret the world, I highly recommend:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

From Your Lewisville Pet Sitter & Dog Walker

Pet Pampering Plus is starting a blog! Here we will share information on pet care, nutrition, or maybe just a funny picture or video. Please check back often to see what we have to say!