Is Your Backyard Safe For Your Dog?

Having a pet dog is awesome. There’s nothing like the love and fun you get from your furry friend.  And the unconditional love and excitement they show when you come home is worth any hassle. That’s why you take good care of your dog.

But is your backyard safe? Too many times, you hear stories about dogs who escape under a fence or get sick from a toxic plant. That’s why you need to inspect your backyard (or any part of your yard that’s fenced in). Before you can make sure things are safe, though, it pays to know what kind of problems to look for.

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Common Backyard Problems

By far, the biggest problem here is your fence. As Fence Authority explains, there are several ways your fence might not be good for your dog. Open-style fences can let dogs climb over it, while damage such as a missing board can give just enough space for your pet to squeeze through. The same is true for gaps under the fence. (Note that many dogs can get through gaps you might think too small for them.)

Although not common, there can be plants in your backyard toxic to your dog. Flowers like foxglove and crocus can make your dog very sick. You should also look around for any nests of bees or wasps, as dogs can easily be allergic to their stings.

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You also have to be careful with how long you let your dog play in the yard. Dogs need some time to run around outside, but leaving them out for too long means you can miss your dog’s needs. Remember that dogs run in packs. Since you’re the owner, you and your family are the pet’s pack. They need to spend time with you, so don’t think spending hours and hours in the yard is a good thing.

Protecting Your Dog

You’ve looked around your backyard and noticed a few problems. What should you do about them?

Notes From A Dog Walker explains that you can make a fence more secure by adding some landscaping. If your dog is a jumper or climber, put down some shrubs and bushes along the inside of the fence. This blocks your dog from escaping this way. If you have a chain-link fence, buy some bamboo rolls or slats to cover up the chains. Not only will this help stop your dog from getting through the fence, it looks great and gives some more privacy to your yard.

When it comes to plants, you can always pull toxic flowers. But as you try to keep your yard bright and green, skip the pesticides and weed killers. Both contain poison that can sit on the surface of grass and plants for days. If your dog licks either, they could get sick. And if you grow a garden, put a barrier around it. Onions, tomatoes, and chives can hurt your pet.

When To Hire A Contractor

At some point, you may have to give up trying to patch that old fence and get a new one installed. That’s especially true if you have an aggressive dog that likes to dig or charge. As strangers and animals move around just beyond the fence, your dog can turn a small gap into an escape route.

To take down and install a new chain-link fence in Newark, NJ, HomeAdvisor estimates the costs to be between $1,115 - $2,892 and will take around two days. A contractor can also repair or reinforce your fence as needed.

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Protect Your Dog

Letting your dog use the backyard is more than just convenient. It’s a great way to give your dog some exercise and fun. But you still need to keep your backyard safe. Make sure your fence is secure and replace it if not. Then remove any toxic plants and skip the chemicals for your lawn. This will help your pet dog stay healthy and happy.

Cindy Aldridge is passionate about dogs and pets and loves sharing her thoughts and insights on being a responsible dog owner. 

It helps to have support in the effort to keep your yard safe!  The Pooper Scooper that regularly visits your yard from Big Business Scoopers will also keep an eye out for any potential problems in your yard that could pose a threat to the health and safety of your dog.  Every Scooper is trained to report anything potentially hazardous back to our office so that we can contact you immediately.

Holidays Are Better Together: Travel Safely With Your Dog

Holidays are for spending time with family and friends—whether they have two legs or four.  For those of us living with canine companions, traveling for the holidays can pose extra challenges—but it’s nothing you can’t handle with a little planning and preparation.  Read on to travel more smoothly, safely and comfortably with your dog.

Decide if your dog will stay or go
Before you book pet-friendly accommodations, decide whether traveling with your dog is the right choice for your family and your dog.  Taking an 8-hour road trip with a pet that gets carsick after a 10-minute ride to the dog park may not be the wisest option.  And if your dog is fearful of new places, people or other pets, it may be best for them to stay behind with a trusted sitter or boarding kennel.  But, if your dog is an eager explorer and frequent travel companion, there are a few precautions you can take to help ensure everyone has an enjoyable time away.

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Start with your destination in mind
Many hotels, lodges, B&Bs and campsites are happy to accept pets (often with a security deposit), but it is important to read and understand your accommodation’s pet policy before you make your reservation.  This is especially true if you choose to stay with friends or family.  Talk with your host before finalizing your travel plans to make sure they are willing to house both you and your dog.  If there is any hesitation, offer to stay at a nearby pet-friendly hotel or B&B, or consider leaving your dog at home with a trusted sitter or boarding kennel.

Determine how you will you get there
When traveling by car, look over your route ahead of time so you can plan frequent exercise and bathroom breaks.  To help minimize carsickness, feed your dog at least three to four hours before you head out.  Then give them plenty of time to use the bathroom one last time before you get in the car. If your dog gets nauseous or anxious during long car trips, you can discuss anti-nausea or anti-anxiety medications with your veterinarian.  To help your pet with anxiety, there are also calming aids available—including wraps, collars, sprays, diffusers and supplements.

Once the car is all loaded up and you’re ready to head out, there are some important guidelines to remember.  Dogs should never be allowed ride loose in the open bed of a truck.  Even when traveling in a closed car, truck or sports utility vehicle, securing your dog in a crate will be safer for them and you.  Keep the car well-ventilated and at a comfortable temperature.  When you need to stop, never leave your dog in a closed car, no matter what the weather is like.  For more car travel tips with your pet, check out this article.

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For air travel, check with the specific airline about travel requirements for pets (a good starting point is the Federal Aviation Administration’s website) and book your dog’s flight at the same time you book yours.  The airline may have limits on the number of animals that can ride on any given plane and whether animals can ride in the cargo hold versus in the cabin.  And for dogs that are too big to ride in the cabin, the airline may restrict travel during certain times a year, especially if temperatures are expected to exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit or fall below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.  For domestic flights, airlines may require a veterinarian-issued health certificate dated within 10 days of travel.  International travel may involve additional documents and vaccinations depending on your destination.  Purchase an airline-approved crate that’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in.  Mark the crate with “Live Animal” plus your contact information and a photo of your pet and attach two dishes (one for food and one for water) to the inside of the kennel door.

Some trains, buses and boats allow pets, though options are fairly limited.  Research rail and bus company policies before booking tickets, or consider traveling by car or plane instead. 

Pack your dog’s travel bag
Make sure you have plenty of the essentials: your dog’s usual food and treats, a water bottle, travel bowls for food and water, a leash and collar/harness, toys, familiar blanket and/or bed, grooming supplies, any necessary medications and clean-up bags.  Above all, make sure you have plenty of water. (Some dogs may experience stomach discomfort if they drink water they are not used to.)  Hand wipes and a towel are also helpful for cleaning dirty hands and paws.  Other useful travel items include your dog’s current rabies tag or a copy of a vaccine records (which may be required for air travel or crossing state/international borders); contact information for your primary care veterinarian; a first aid kit and copies of their most recent veterinary visit and pertinent test results, if your dog has any ongoing medical issues.

Keep your dog safe in transit and at your destination
Always walk your dog on a leash and have identification for your dog when you travel.  Identification can be in the form of a tag on their collar or harness (that includes your dog’s name and your contact information), a combination of a tag and a microchip under the skin, or ideally a combination of an ID tag, a microchip and a recent picture of your dog.

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Earn your welcome
Once you reach your destination, double check the pet policy where you’re staying and ask about preferred locations for walks and bathroom breaks.  Always clean up after your dog and bin your clean-up bags once they’ve served their purpose.  Don’t leave your dog loose and unattended in your room; if you need to leave your dog alone, place him in his travel crate to prevent any damage to the room and to help your pet feel safe and secure.  Remember, even the best behaved dog can get into mischief in a new environment.  Be courteous to other guests and your hosts so that you and your dog will be welcome back for years to come.

Conclusion
For additional information about traveling with your dog, talk to your veterinarian.  Pets are creatures of habit, so they may need some more time to get acquainted to the idea of traveling.  Rushing to get out the door can leave pets feeling anxious and confused, so make sure to allow more time (packing up the car, getting to the airport, etc.) than if you were traveling alone.  If you follow these steps and make sure you have everything you and your dog needs, you can both have a safe, comfortable, enjoyable trip.

If you plan to travel without your pet, read about how to find a pet sitter and how to keep your pets safe while you're away.

Shop for pet travel supplies on petco.com

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Disclaimer: Big Business Scoopers received permission from a content marketing representative of Ghergich & Co. to republish this blog post.  Read the article, originally written and published by Lisa Weeth, DVM, MRCVS on December 13, 2016, on Petco's Community Page here.

Interview: Chad Logan of Pick Up That Poop!

This past week we had the great honor of interviewing Chad Logan, founder of PickUpThatPoop.com.  We had previously connected via social media and as soon as we discovered how very passionate he is about dog poop we had to meet him!  After all, it isn’t every day that we connect with someone other than fellow pooper scoopers who is passionate about picking up after dogs!  So we had to get to know more about what he’s all about …

BBS: Okay, so you’re a man dedicated to educating people about dog poop.  There has to be a story behind that.  Tell us about it!

CL: I spent seven years in finance before I became a professional dog walker and now, ten years later, I'm focused on the other end of dog walking: poop.  Before Poop Bag Music, I started PickUpThatPoop.com which was a campaign to get dog owners to pick up after their dog(s) in June, 2012.  The idea for “do the right thing, pick up that poop” all started when I took our dog, Gus (a black lab mix that we adopted 13 years ago), out for his morning walk on June 10th (my birthday).  See, we have grass and trees between the sidewalk and the street outside of our town-home, and I counted not one, not three, but six piles of dog poop left behind.  Five on the grass and one right in the middle of the sidewalk.  I remember thinking, “That's my birthday wish.  I wish that every dog owner would do the right thing andpick up that poop!"  PickUpThatPoop.com became Home of the Walking Yard Sign.  We have over 30 designs to shop from: T-shirts, stickers, tote bags, mugs and more. In February 2015 I wanted a song to raise awareness on poo-pick-up.  Over one year later we now have seven "poo" songs and three songs about dog rescue. 

Chad Logan of Poop Bag Music playing his guitar and singing about dog poop.

Yes, I started Poop Bag Music as a way to educate people about dog poop but also as a way to give back by donating 50-100% of the profit from all sales to dog rescue groups.  I strongly believe in and support pet adoption.  It started with Gus, and now Jasper, a German Shepherd mix who we adopted 4 years ago.  We need more people to adopt, and stop buying!  It makes me sad when I hear,  “But we want a puppy.”  Guess what!  There are a lot of puppies that need to be adopted too.  But please consider an older dog.  All dogs matter! 

BBS: You leave for the No Poo Left Behind Tour in early July.  Where can people find you and what can they expect from the Tour?

CL: We will be hitting the open road on July 6th for our No Poo Left Behind Tour.  As we started planning this tour I said, "No matter if we raise $500 or $50,000 the No Poo Left Behind Tour is going to happen.”  But the amount of money raised will allow us to make more stops at local parks, poo-hot-spots, dog parks and dog rescues.  It will also allow us to make one or more donations to dog rescue groups we meet on the road that need help to stay open and/or expand to help more dogs in need. I'll be posting updates and locations as we go to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

BBS: There are some great sponsors backing you up for this tour.  How did you connect with these folks?

CL: With help from our wonderful sponsors, we were able to build our "poo" teardrop trailer.  It took about a year connecting on social media (Twitter) posting/tweeting about our No Poo Left Behind Tour and looking for sponsors. With them and people supporting us with downloads on iTunes and walking yard sign sales we can hit the road and spread the word not the poo and help dog rescue groups at the same time. Please check out and support our sponsors.  Their logos and links can be found on our website.

Chad Logan's No Poop Left Behind Tour Trailer which was purchased with help from sponsors such as Help Bags, Dawg Tree, Healthy Paws and more.

BBS: So what’s the big deal, anyway?  Why is it so important that people pick up after their dogs??

CL: Picking up after your dog(s) is a big deal.  First of all, in most states it's already law and if you get caught you can face a fine of $50 - $250 and up.  Not to mention it's the neighborly thing to do.  Nobody wants poo on their shoes.  I've read that nearly two decades ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified pet waste as a dangerous pollutant in the same category as toxic chemicals and oil.  You may not live near water, but un-scooped poop from your yard is carried by overland water flow or is washed into storm drains, ending up in far away streams, rivers and ground water.

BBS: Why do people have such a hard time with dog poop and how do you think we can we reduce this aversion to picking it up!?  (Besides, of course, awesome poop songs and swag.)

CL: Most people do pick up after their dog(s.)  It's just a few that don't.  Most likely if you are out walking and you see more than one pile left behind it's from the same non-picker-upper (same person, different day/poop.)  One sure way to make people pick up after their dog(s) would be DNA testing.  It's getting bigger every year.  HOA's and apartments/property management companies are signing up for this service to catch non-picker-uppers.  On the market today we have so many tools to help us pick up that poop.  There should not be excuses.  I even talked with a lady that could not understand why people can't pick up.  She said, "If I can do it blind, everyone should be able to do it one way or another!"  Now I know my "poo" songs won't change the world overnight or be as popular as Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift.  Just remember it's to help raise funds for dog rescue groups, and might get a few more people to pick up that poop. 

BBS: Well we are definitely cheering you on!!  How about we say goodbye by exchanging our strangest poop story!  We had a dog client who was regularly eating (and eliminating …) his owner’s cash money - sometimes big bills!  Your turn.

CL: Story time.  I was walking Gus with my mother.  I usually keep the leash short when we walk by this hill full of ivy, but this time we were talking and I forgot.  Well Gus just had to do his business.  He went up the hill as far as the leash would let him.  Mom looked at me and said, “Just leave it.  Everyone else does.  If you go up there you will end up stepping in dog poop.”  Well I had to pick it up.  Not only do I own PickUpThatPoop.com but I was wearing one of my walking yard sign t-shirts.  As I was heading up the hill, mom said something to me and as I turned around, my shoes got tangled up in the ivy and down I went, still looking for the pile of dog poop.  I could not find it … oh, I found it alright … on the backside of my shorts.  Lets just say after that we don't walk pass the hill with ivy anymore!

This is one of Chad Logan's many designs that can be printed onto shirts, mugs, stickers and more.  It is a picture of a doggie yoda saying "Going to pick up that poo, you are!  Hmmm ..."

Thanks again for this opportunity, and helping us spread word, not the poo.

Thank YOU.  Good luck on the tour!

Learn more about Chad at PickUpThatPoop.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Check out his awesome swag in his store.   And download his poop songs here.  And remember to PICK UP THAT POOP.  (A pooper scooper can help.)

 

The Zone: Training Your Dog Where to Poop in Your Yard

We've had a few clients ask us if we know how to train their dog to poop in a specifically designated area in their yard.  These are folks who have a large yard and want to reduce the cost of having a pooper scooper walk the entire property or folks who simply want to know where that poop is going to be!  So we thought we'd start finding some answers for them.  

Enter Nancy Schumacher, founder of Best in Behavior and CPDT-KA Certified Dog Trainer.  She uses a positive reward-based approach to dog training and was kind enough to give us some advice on this topic.  And as she notes: summer is the best time to start this kind of poop training!  Read on for her expert advice ...

"Training your dog to take care of their ‘business’ in a specific area of your yard is easier then it sounds. It takes patience and consistency but young puppies and older dogs can be trained to go in a dedicated zone. The area does not need to have any special surface but should be a defined area. An easy way to do this is to cover a small area with mulch or to stake out an area.

If you are working with a young puppy, start first thing in the day by taking your dog out of it’s crate on a leash and quickly walking outside to the area. Do not slow down or stop as it will be easy for the pup to have an accident. Run to the zone and keep the dog on leash. When you get to the area stand still and let the pup have the length of the leash. By running to the spot you have shaken up the dogs bladder and he will most likely go immediately. When he does go give him enthusiastic praise and a treat.

This is an image of a young boy rewarding his dog with a treat for using "the zone" properly.  The image illustrates how to train your dog to poop in one particular area of your yard.

The treats will be used every time for the first few days and then weaning off to a random treat now and then.  Leave any waste in the area so the smell will trigger the pup next time he is in that area. Puppies should not be allowed off leash in the yard during this training unless they have taken care of #1 and #2.  As a new pup owner you will be focused on when the dog has to go. Every time you are taking him out he goes on leash to the zone. If you catch him about to go in a different area when playing, interrupt him and bring him over to the zone. He should equate going in the zone with lots of good things; praise from you, treats and then being allowed off leash.

Older dogs need to learn that going in the Zone makes good things happen as well.  When you are training an older dog who up until now has had freedom to go wherever in the yard it is very important to establish a new routine. When the dog needs to go out, you need to put on the leash and bring him to the area. It is important that all family members are on board with this. If some people are leashing the dog and bringing him to the zone and some are not the dog will go with what he is used to which is going anywhere.  When he goes in zone be sure to make a big fuss with lots of verbal praise and a treat. Most dogs are highly motivated by food treats and will be happy to comply with going in the zone for a tasty treat.

With consistency and positive reinforcement you can train your dog to take care of business in the area you choose. Summer is a great time to start this training as the weather is warm and the days are long."

Many thanks to Nancy for taking the time and care to be our guest blogger on this topic!  If you have any questions for Nancy she can be reached via her website: http://bestinbehavior.com/.

4 Favorite Puns about Working as a Pooper Scooper

When you work as a Pooper Scooper you are inevitably bound to have some interesting conversations with people you just meet.  "Scooping dog poop on the regular" isn't exactly an answer most people might expect to hear when they inquire about how you make a living.  But before we scoopers can explain that not only do we actually do this but we also enjoy it immensely, we have to get over that awkward hurdle of just establishing it as a fact.  Yes, we pick up dog waste.  

What better way to overcome anything than to make awkward puns??  Right?  Right???  So, without further adoo, our top 4 FAVORITE (among maaaany) Pooper Scooper Puns:

ONE

"What line of work are you in?"

"The line of doody ..."

TWO

"How was work today?"

"Crappy ... literally ..."

THREE

"What do you do?"

"I'm a pooper scooper."

"Really?"

"Yeah, no shit ..."

FOUR

"How's the business doing?"

"It's picking up ..."

Image: Small puppy shaking his head with the caption "Really?" ... This in response to some ridiculous puns about dog waste removal professionals.

5 Qualities of Dog Poop that We Regularly Check

So you've hired Big Business Scoopers to clean your yard of all your dog's poop.  What a relief!  Now you never have to look at or smell that stuff again!!  (Well, that is except for those rare occasions when bad Fido decides your living room rug looks like a great toilet.)  But did you know that we do more than just clean the poop?  We check it for signs of poor health as well.

If he or she hasn't already, your veterinarian may ask questions about the quality of your dog's waste.  Professional pet health providers look for five main qualities in your dog's stool: Color, Shape, Consistency, Size, and Content.  Because your dog's poop can speak volumes about your dog's health you want it to be the BEST POOP EVER.

This is a dog poop cartoon saying, "I wouldn't be here without my friends, family, and whatever that dog ate."  It is smiling next to a golden trophy that reads, "Best Poop Ever."  Courtesy of  barkpost.com

We at Big Business Scoopers care very much about your dog and your dog's health.  We keep these five poop health qualities in mind as we clean your yard.  After all, we're often the only ones who see your dog's poop on a regular basis!  If we notice anything out of the ordinary we make sure to notify you immediately so that you can look out for other indications of a health problem and know when to notify your vet.  

No, we won't call you every time we see a slightly soft deposit.  (Everyone has a bad day once in a while!)  But if we do notice a pattern or something particularly worrisome then we won't hesitate to let you know.  And if you ever need a stool sample to bring to the pet clinic, just let us know.  We'll be happy to bag a sample for you.  

Here's to healthy dogs and healthy dog poop!