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Planning a vacation can be a bit stressful for pet owners, especially if they have a reactive or aggressive pet.  Finding proper care is about more than feeding, walking, medicating and TLC for these pet owners.  It’s about choosing someone who will understand and work with your pet and their triggers.  It’s about finding peace of mind and trust that your pet will be cared for safely and honestly.

Caring for and working with aggressive and reactive pets is one of the main reasons we started our company and pet sitting in Toms River.  Working in a veterinary hospital, we found that some pets just aren’t good candidates for boarding and knowing that we could give pet parents the option of keeping their pets at home while they were away, became a passion for us – especially for those with “difficult” pets.

To answer the burning questions – yes, we care for aggressive pets!  But we don’t just say “YES” without a good understanding of your pets individual situation.

Honesty and Transparency

We need to talk to you and find out all about your pet.  We are always open and honest with our clients because safety is our #1 concern – for us and your pet.  When we talk to you, we’ll ask a lot of questions about the exact problem you’re facing and we expect you to be open and honest with us.  We need to know all the details so we can make the proper assessment and give the best suggestions for your pet’s care.

Here are some of the questions we will ask:

  1. What services are you in need of?
  2. Has your pet ever bitten or nipped anyone (human, cat, other dog)?
  3. Has your pet ever showed teeth to anyone (human, cat, other dog)?
  4. Has your pet ever growled at anyone (human, cat, other dog)?
  5. Does your pet let you touch their food, bowls, toys, bones, etc.
  6. What exactly happened during the last incident?
  7. What exactly happened during any previous incidents?

Consultation

Once we’ve had the initial conversation and have a good understanding of what services your pet needs and we agree to move forward with the next step, we come to your home to meet you and your pet.  This meeting allows us to meet your pet, observe their behaviors, the layout of your home (sometimes the plan of care involves restricting your pet’s access to certain parts of the home), and ask more questions based on what we’re observing.  It gives your pet a chance to meet us, if it’s in their agenda.  It gives you a chance to talk to us about your concerns and ask us any questions you may have.

The consultation will also allow us to talk to you about what our plan of care will be for your pet.  Because each pet is different and their reactions can widely vary, we will talk to you about the different scenarios we expect can happen.  We’ll talk to you about how we will work with your pet to try to reduce their stress level and make the service a positive experience for them.  We will be open and honest about what is best for your pet’s care as well their safety and our own.

Not only are we pet sitters, but we’re dog trainers, too.  We have a team of trainers on staff who are able to assist our sitters, if the need should arise.  Not only are they here for our sitters, but they are available for you to discuss your behavior problems with.  Sometimes, it is necessary for us to recommend training to help change the behavior before we can safely provide services.

If it is a situation that will not be safe for your pet or our staff to provide services, we will be honest about it.  We are not a company who thinks we can handle every single situation, no matter what.  We value safety on all levels and the proper care for your pet is an utmost concern.  We will not accept jobs when we know there is a better alternative for your pet that will be in their best interest.

Different Situations

I thought I would share some stories of reactive pet’s we’ve worked with and how we were able to care for them.

Shadow

Shadow was an older, male chow who was blind and diabetic.  His parents had been referred to a local pet sitter but when she arrived to meet Shadow and his owners, he growled at her and wouldn’t let her near him.  The sitter explained that she wasn’t comfortable working with Shadow, especially since he needed insulin injections twice a day and she referred his parents to us.

We had a nice conversation over the phone and I learned about the services they needed, about Shadows care needs and we scheduled the consultation.  During the consultation, Shadow roamed around the house and eventually laid under the table about 8 feet away from me.  His owners and I discussed his specific care instructions and I talked to them about the different scenarios that may happen when we care for Shadow.

First, we discussed that he may have no problem with me administering his insulin and we may not have any issues at all.  Second, we discussed that if he doesn’t warm up to me and allow me to administer his insulin by myself, that I may need to put a muzzle on him and then administer his insulin.  Our third plan was that I would have to have another staff member come with me during the visits so that one of us could safely hold him and the other could administer the insulin.  We spent a lot of time talking about ways we would help to minimize his stress, since stress can wreak havoc on diabetic pets.  Eventually, Shadow came over to smell and inspect me and walked away.

When the time came a few days later for Shadow’s parents to go on vacation, I arrived early (I wanted to give myself time to work with him before he was due for his insulin) and sat in the house talking to him.  I fed him his dinner and when it was time to go outside to potty, he wasn’t happy with me.  He began growling and avoiding me putting his leash on him.  I used a special slip lead I carry in my car and was able to take him out for a walk.  While, I was out with him, I had a feeling that it would be best to call another sitter to help to me than to try to do it alone.

I called Kelly, who is one of our dog trainers, and she came right over.  We walked around the yard with Shadow discussing the best way to give him his insulin.  While I was in the house getting his insulin, Kelly was able to start petting Shadow’s rear end and he wasn’t protesting.  Typically, insulin is administered in the skin between the shoulder blades.  So, Kelly continued petting him, working her way up his back to see if he would growl the higher she went.  He stopped her around the midback with a low growl, so she continued petting him back down towards his hiney. We talked about his body language and made sure I was on the same page. Using her approach, I was able to pet him on his rear end for a few minutes (while she held his leash for safety sake) and administer his insulin in that area with no growl or sideways look!  Wahhooooo!!

I called his owners and let them know the update from our first visit and told them we’d have Kelly come with me once or twice more just to make sure nothing changed and he would still allow me to give him his medicine.  After 3 visits of Kelly and I both being there, I had Kelly stop coming with me and Shadow and I kept up the same routine.  Talking time, dinner time, potty time, and his insulin while out for his walk.

Panda

Lexi

Lexi was an older, diabetic cat whom we cared for a few times over the course of a few months while her parents took short day trips.  While, she was never excited to get her insulin injections, she never protested them either.

A neighbor informed them that she was a nurse and would be happy to give Lexi her injections on occasion, so they would not have to pay us.

It had been 4 months since the last time we cared for Lexi and her owners were going out of state for 10 days.  They wanted us to come 2 weeks before to give the injection during one of their day trips so Lexi could get reacquainted with us before their long vacation.

Megan went to the home and did her normal routine of a security check, cleaned the litter box, and so on.  When the time came to give Lexi’s injection, she was nowhere to be found.  Lexi was hiding in her room, under the desk as she sometimes did. However, when Megan went to scoop her up she became extremely aggressive and managed to get away from her.  Lexi bolted into the kitchen and was so fearful that she was climbing the counters and walls to get away from Megan.  Megan called the owners and explained to them that she would not continue to stress Lexi out.  They agreed and would come home early to tend to her needs.

The next day, Megan and the owners discussed  how we would be able to care for Lexi like this during their 10 day vacation because they did not want to board her at the veterinary hospital. In that conversation, we found the root of the problem.  Their nurse friend did not have any animal handling experience and did admit that she “had to show Lexi who was boss” when she would give the injections.

Megan explained to her parents that it would be detrimental to Lexi’s diabetes and well being if she was left with full access to the house during their vacation because it would allow her to panic and run around the house like she had before.  Climbing counters, walls, under couches and beds would not be in Lexi’s best interest.  Instead, it was decided that we would keep Lexi in one of the bathrooms in the home.  All decorations were removed and her litter box, litter, food and water bowls and a cat bed were placed in the bathroom for Lexi’s comfort.

While it’s certainly not a situation we like to happen, this was best option we had so that Mom & Dad could keep her home and we could minimize her stress.

Over the years, we have worked with many pet parents to help care for their special pets.  It’s a labor of love and we are happy to provide solutions to their pet care problem.

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