Keeping Your Dog Trim and Healthy This Winter

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As I’m typing this, it’s about 30 degrees here in Richmond – and quite a bit less than that when you factor in the wind chill. While no one would mistake that kind of chill for the kind you’d get in Minnesota or upstate New York, it’s more than enough to keep my dog and I from spending as much time outside as we prefer to do.

Our walks are shorter. We spend less time playing fetch the tennis ball or chasing each other around the backyard. And while we have fun playing indoors, it’s a lot tougher to wear my dog out when we’re confined to the living room. With reduced activity, burning calories becomes more difficult. Carrying around an extra pound or two is already an issue with my dog – just ask my vet!

So what can I do – other than stop feeding my little buddy the occasional treats that he loves? I spent some time researching what to do to keep my dog active over the winter, and found a lot of good ideas. Here are some of the ideas that resonated with me:

Enroll your dog in a class

In addition to finding several local classes on obedience, I was able to find some classes that improve dog agility and others that teach dogs new tricks. Some classes are outdoors, but thankfully some take place inside. I understand that there are classes that can teach you and your dog to dance, but I wasn’t able to find one here in Richmond. Sigh.

Spend time off-leash

You may be tempted to limit your dog’s outdoor activity to a single brisk walk, but you should make time for some more intensive off-leash activity. If your dog is less inclined to play in the cold, try using some small treats to encourage activity. You can also encourage your dog by incorporating some running into your walking routine.

Finally, if you haven’t been to one of Richmond’s dog parks lately, make visits part of your winter routine – seeing other dogs will encourage yours to be more active.

Go for a walk in the woods

The leaves may have departed until spring, but there are still several good reasons to go for a walk in the woods: You’ll enjoy a little extra shelter against the wind. And your dog will find an abundance of places to poke his nose and sniff, which will distract him from the fact that it’s cold out there.

That’s a good reason to visit a couple of my favorite dog-walking destinations: Deep Run Park out in the West End and the John Smith Trail along the James River.

As cold as it is today, we haven’t even reached Thanksgiving yet. The bad news is that it’s only going to get wetter and colder. The good news is that you’ve got some time to establish some more active habits before you really need them. Why not give your dog a real treat and start a new routine today?

Pet Urine Removal by the Professionals

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Going off topic from dog treats a little bit I wanted to share a little bit about living with my pets and what it takes sometimes to clean up after them.

daisy looking guilty

Daisy looking guilty after an “accident”

Living in a home with 3 dogs and 2 cats requires a little more maintenance than a normal home. I probably have to replace my furniture three times as often as a normal family simply because of the claw scratches and general wear and tear they put in things. I have long since given up on teaching them all to stay off the couches when I know the kids let them when im out of the house. But as anyone with pets would attest to, it’s worth the extra effort and damage done to have your furry friends around.

Pet Owners Should Clean Regularly

One thing that helps minimize the damage however is regular cleaning. Because there is a lot of pet hair that gets shed, I am constantly vacuuming the carpets, rugs, and even the furniture as often as I can. Otherwise this would all build up and my home would smell like animals too instead of just being a home to them. One problem we have been having recently is that our newest addition to the family Piper, a beagle mix has been having accidents around the house. I do my best to scrub and clean these up but I never feel like im getting the entire stain out as it quickly sinks into the carpeting. When a few of these happen is a short time span I found a solution in http://carpetcleaningrichmond.com/ with their pet stain removal service.

Pet Stain Removal From Professional Carpet Cleaners

before and after pet urine removal cleaning

great results from the cleaners!

Usually whenever I get this carpet cleaning service to come to my home, its been at least a few months since the last cleaning (which is comparable to a year for most families with all the foot and paw traffic we have going on indoors) so I typically have Chem-Dry professionally clean all the carpeting as well. Last time I even tried the upholstery cleaning service and was really happy with how much cleaner the couches and chairs in my living room looked and felt. Its too bad they still have claw marks in them. But the cleaning service proved to be as close as a miracle as you could get considering the previous condition.

If you have pets I highly recommend keeping up with your cleaning even if you have to call in the pros every once in a while. It helps keep the whole family healthy including your pets and makes it presentable for guests. Click here for more tips on how to be a better pet owner. You don’t want to be that friend whose home looks like it was built more for the dogs than the people.

Dog Treat Baking for Seniors and My Favorite Recipe

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Why I Love Baking Dog Treats

It’s no secret that I love to bake dog treats! I started baking because my mom loved making cookies and cakes. She had a shelf full of cookbooks, a binder full of her own recipes, and magazines full of decorating ideas. When we were younger, we would spend snow days and other weekends trying new recipes and making treats for our neighbors.

As my mother started aging, she began noticing some signs of diabetes. The doctor put her on a new diet plan that could prevent symptoms from worsening without taking medication. This may cookie dog treatsseem like a simple fix to the average person- but for someone who has baking as their primary hobby, it can be devastating. Fortunately, my husband came up with the great idea of buying her a yellow lab puppy. This kept her focused on something other than making her sweet treats and kept her smiling.

Spoiling your pets is a great part of being a senior because there are so many great activities that go along with it. Knit your dog sweaters, teach them new tricks, or simply cuddle with them when you want some love. Or, you can take a page out of my book and bake them dog treats!

If you’re becoming less active over your pet’s lifetime, consider hiring a service like Seniors Helping Seniors. These senior care providers come to your home on as needed basis to make sure that you or your family member get the attention you need. They can help you take your dog for a walk each day, keep track of medications, cook meals, or simply come by for some companionship.

The best way to spoil your growing puppy is to whip them up some treats. My mother and I found baking dog treats to be just as satisfying as baking cookies! Better yet, this opened a whole new world of flavors and recipes that we could try out. Even before this became my business, I spent a lot of time on my own coming up with ideas just for the fun of it. And we no longer had to worry about calories because our dogs were the primary taste testers. Aside from trying a small bite here or there, I never consumed an entire treat. Just make sure your puppy tries his treats in moderation and have him exercise regularly! They have to stay healthy too.

One of my most popular recipes is Chomps Ahoy. Dogs can’t eat chocolate, but our carob substitute still tastes great. The ingredients are:

-          Whole wheat flour

-          Natural Peanut Butter

-          Eggs

-          Honey

-          Water

-          Carob Chips

-          Powdered Skim Milk

-          Baking Powder

I love being in the dog treat business. It lets me be creative every day and gives me an excuse to spend time with my dogs. Just like you would make your kids a cake once and a while, my mother and I encourage everyone to spoil their pets from time to time.

How to Start Your Own Home Bakery

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My gourmet dog treat business wasn’t some well-crafted plan that took years of education and experience to accomplish. I just simply enjoyed baking treats for my dog at home and thought other people out there may enjoy my products as well. The dessert industry, for both humans and pets, has really taken off over the past few years. I simply came in at the right place and the right time. If you have a special talent that you enjoy, consider turning that skill into a profit. Some of the greatest and most profitable businesses in the world, such as Amazon and Google, where started right at home. I wanted to take the time to share my 3 tips that helped me to start my dog treat business.

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Know the Laws of the Land

You may think since you are starting a business from home that this is going to be easier than starting a small business, but think again. Be aware that local, state, and federal laws apply to your home based business as well. Before even beginning to plan out your business, do your homework to see if this is a feasible option for you. In some states, for legal or public health and safety reasons, home based bakeries are prohibited. If home bakeries are allowed, you still will minimally be required to have a business license of some form. Know that you also could be subject to health inspections just like any other bakery. Also, I highly recommend that you invest in business liability insurance. Even if it isn’t required by law, having your business insured will protect you both professionally and personally if a client has a quarrel with your product or service offering. Lastly, look into any necessary permits that may be required for food industry companies.

 

Have the Right Equipment

My bakery was created and still runs out of my home in Austin, Texas. I have a four bedroom, two-story house which is more than enough living space for me and my family. Starting out, my kitchen was not up to the task of running a home bakery business. Most bakeries are run out of a retail shop or from a rented commercial kitchen space. I decided to work with what I had and made my kitchen meet my needs. I had to go through a lot of maintenance work orders. From dishwasher repairs to refrigerator repairs it seemed like I was spending all of my profits on appliance repairs in Austin. Know that your input costs to get your business started are going to be high. If you are starting a bakery business, know upfront that those appliances are going to be expensive. Budget the time and the money for problems that are most definitely going to arise.

 

Create a Great Product

A lot of people that decide to start a small business make the mistake of introducing their product or service to the general public far before the business is ready. You have the right the right balance between finding a product that is desired and how to make yours stand out from the crowd. I had what is referred to as a “soft opening” for my dog treats. I had a party at my home and handed out my treats to my closest family and friends who were also dog owners. This was how I conducted a small sample of the market I was hoping to capture. I asked them to fill out an anonymous survey that asked for their opinions and suggestions to improve my product. Anonymity was an important factor because this meant I was more luckily to get true and uncensored feedback that would was key to improving my business. Client feedback, product success, and profitability were always three concepts that I kept in the forefront of my mind with every business decision I made from ingredients to presentation.

Even if you aren’t looking to start a home bakery, I hope the advice shared with you today will help or inspire you to take the plunge and start your own business.