26 December 2015

How to earn money dog sitting and what can go wrong

I am going to write about my experience sitting other people's dogs so that you can learn from it and not make the same mistakes.

Contrary to what it seems, dog sitting can be difficult and dangerous, it will not be easy money, that was my first mistake, thinking that a dog of whom I know nothing about is going to quickly adapt to a new home and a new owner.

I am currently registered with two websites offering services to dog owners in various European countries. Gudog.com and DogBuddy.com, they are both free to register with.

To set reasonable fees, I looked up on the website what my competitors charge around the area I live in and I priced myself slightly below. The most popular service has been dog sitting, I have not had a single dog walking demand.

If you are thinking about building your own website to cut the middle man, it will not work, you don't have the promotional means to attract traffic like big dog sitting platforms do and dog owners need the reassurance of an escrow service, you only get paid after the service, plus those platforms accept credit cards and Paypal.

My dog sitting has been all around Christmas Season and Summer, I have had to turn down customers because they all wanted to book the same dates and the rest of the year I went without a single booking. Money wise, you will not earn a full time living because it is a seasonal business, unless you get lucky and find a customer that travels a lot.

Dog black eye during dog fight
Dog black eye during dog fight
I have explained the beautiful theory, now I will tell you about the real deal...

 If somebody brings you a well behaved dog, it is very easy money, but if they bring you a dog that pees everywhere, feels anxious and bites your pillows or attacks your own dog, it is not worth it, and more often than not you will have misbehaved dogs.

Two days ago the dog I was sitting, a Great Dane, attacked Away, they had a stupid fight over who would get my attention. As you probably know, Great Danes are huge and strong, it does not take too much for him to kill another dog if he wants to, there can be no mistakes here.

My experience is that it is extremely hard to get a new dog and your own dog to get along well, the main problem is having your dog accept that somebody new is going to share the home with him and to get their energy levels right.

 My dog is quiet as a mouse but the other one is younger and he has lots of energy, that is a clash in motion there. If one of the dog becomes protective of the owner, the other wants to be top dog, they will not share toys or all the above, you are in deep trouble. It is difficult to match dogs characters and if they are the same gender even worse. It can be done, but not in the typical three or four days people normally book for, it needs more time.

This week I earned €100 looking after one dog, how much do you think I am going to have to spend taking my dog to the vet? What about the stress of knowing that a dog fight can break any time? What about the risk of getting bitten yourself breaking up a dog fight in between two big dogs inside a small flat? Price of broken furniture anybody?

Really, think about it very thoroughly before you dog sit at home.

You will also have to deal with time wasters, I had one person contacting me to ask for a discount to look after her dog for a SINGLE DAY, and another woman calling me to ask all kind of questions, which is perfectly fine, but after confirming the booking by phone then she decided at the last minute not to book

It all adds up, I value my time, that is like three hours wasted answering questions so that I can perhaps earn €50 for three days of work. And add the time you spend explaining new customers how to get to your home and basic rules. If the customer can't park near where you live, get ready to go and wait for them.

German shepherd dog with black eye after a fight
German shepherd dog with black eye after a fight
Now, I understand why many dog sitters refuse to have dogs overnight and they only work as daycare or dog walkers, those are safer options.

Perhaps you will get lucky, all I can tell is my experience of a full year of dog sitting and looking back, for the little money you earn, the risk you run and all of the problems you have, think about it, this is not easy money. My dog Away could have lost an eye in this fight and I am going to have to spend all I earned at the vet. It feels like working for nothing

 What I learned from this experience is that I will only have overnight dogs if I trust them, before accepting the booking of a big dog over the Internet, I will ask for a trial daycare at home before a full stay.

I can't risk again a situation like this, it is bad for me, for my dog and for the dog I am looking after, nobody wins. It pays not to get greedy and using your common sense, otherwise you lose. By the way, the pictures don't show the full extent of the injuries, I wiped out blood from Away's chin.

5 October 2015

Review Zoolove Jute Rope Ring dog toy from Zooplus

Zoolove is a new dog toy brand only available in Zooplus, the shop where I buy my dog's kibble, it has been made specially for them and they can not be found anywhere else. Not only the Zoolove dog toy range looked like decent and something that my dog might enjoy, they also give away 10% of the price to an animal charity so I decide to buy Away the Jute Rope Ring to play tug with him.

The first impression I got when I received the ring was that it was made of high quality rope, with a classy small brown label with the words "Zooplus" that was quickly ripped to tiny pieces by my dog.

I have had the jute rope for three months now and still going, in case you don't know, many professional dog training toys are made of jute too, it is a vegetable fibre made that can be spun into coarse strong threads and besides dogs loving it, I am witness of that, it will not damage your dog teeth.

Dog bitting jute rope ring
Dog bitting jute rope ring
I, and my dog Away, were very happy with this toy for the first month, I should say that my dog Away is not a strong biter, he hasn't got strong jaws like a Pitbull or Rotweiller and his tennis balls last him a year, well, the Zoolove Jute Rope Ring lasted him a month....
Jute rope ring toy for dogs from Zooplus
Jute rope ring toy for dogs from Zooplus
After a single month of playing with the ring, he undid it and made it into a a long rope, you can still use it to play games with him but it is not the same as having a ring that is easy to grab, the problem, is not the quality of the jute which remains strong after having been bitten often, the problem lies in how it has been put together, when the ring came apart I saw that sellotape had been used under the rope to keep it in shape.
My advice on this toy, it should last you for many years but don't expect it to keep a ring shape after a few weeks, no way that the shape will last, but, you can tie your own knots and still have fun with it.

Despite everything, I would still recommend this toy if you need a strong thick string, it is the first time I have a jute rope and it looks like the fibres can help cleaning my dog's teeth, I loved the coarse texture and high resistance.

Jute rope ring for dogs
Jute rope ring for dogs

21 September 2015

Review plant based pipettes for dogs Demavic Spot On

Being on a budget, I decided to buy Demavic pipettes for dogs from Zooplus for medium dogs purely based on price, the pipettes from this French company cost less than half price than the better known Advantix from Bayer. I did not read the composition of Demavic dog pipettes because I though I would not understand if the components are acceptable or not, it was when I had the pipettes home that I realised Demavic pipettes are plant based and contain botanical extracts that are supposed to keep fleas, ticks and mosquitoes away.

I have been using Demavic spot on pipettes for medium dogs 15-30kg the whole Summer and it has been an awful experience, not only my dog Away got infested with ticks, he has also been scratching and has irritated his skin forcing me to take him to the vet.

The thing is that I noticed that Away had ticks on him and instead of changing to a better pipette, since I had already bought Demavic, I decided to apply them again within the week, even though they were meant to last for a month, again, this did not work, the ticks never died.

Another side effect is that I have spend time and money washing all clothing at home so that there will be no ticks in my dog's bed or the sofa, or anywhere where Away could reinfect.
Demavic spot on dog pipettes
Demavic spot on dog pipettes

When I arrived at the vet he told me that in a way I was lucky that he could clearly see my dog Away was infested with ticks and that no further analysis would be required to learn the reason for the reddish irritated skin at the end of his tail, he could tell it was from the ticks causing that irritation and it was not dermatitis or any other skin disease requiring expensive analysis. I told my veterinarian the brand of dog pipettes I was using, he had to look them up on the Internet because he had never heard of them, the vet this in front of me and as when he saw in the ingredients that the pipettes were a plant based he told me they were rubbish.

The vet prescribed me an internal de-wormer called Drontal, and some fabulous external antiparasite tablets called "NexGuard", made by Merial. NexGuard tablets are very tasty for dogs, there is no need to force them to eat the tablet your dog will be happy to have it, within 30 minutes I observed all ticks starting to die, it is amazing how good that product is, the vet also prescribed me very expensive pipettes called "Stronghold" he said they were better than Advantix, but having had a past experience of vets trying to upsell me products so that I buy it from them and not from the Internet, I initially declined due to the extreme price of Stronghold dog pipettes, it was around €60 a packet of two or something like that. I tried to find this brand cheaper on the Internet and it has been impossible to do, it appears Stronghold only sells its products through vets.

It bugged me that this same veterinarian had recommended me Advantix pipettes in the past, which I bought over the Internet because they were cheaper than at his clinic, and he was now telling me that the only pipettes worthwhile to buy were the Stronghold brand, and very conveniently, the only place to buy this brand was at a clinic because they are not available over the Internet.

What is clear to me is that Demavic dog pipettes have proven to be very ineffective, I feel I have wasted the money and incurred extra charges in veterinarian fees plus all the trouble of having my dog Away infested with ticks, Demavic has turned out to be very expensive dog pipettes in the end, I will not make the same mistake again.

Antiparasite chewing tablets for dogs NexGard
Antiparasite chewing tablets for dogs NexGard
Since Demavic spot on pipettes are based on plant extracts, I will make sure that I never buy again pipettes based on the same ingredients.

I have returned to Advantix pipettes, double the price, but they work very well for me, not a single tick on my dog Away.

I have also noticed that Advantix dog pipettes come packaged hermetically with quality foil paper and contain more amount of product on each pipette than Demavic does, don't be fooled by tempting Demavic cheap prices, it will cost you dear. I have to say though, I use other Demavic products and they turned out to be fine, this is not a bad brand, just not for pipettes, as for the Stronghold pipettes, I have found very good reviews on the Internet about them but they are far from my price range and Advantix is fine, I have also heard good things of Frontline dog pipettes but never used them myself, they are on the same price range than Advantix.

19 September 2015

Rewarding my dog with Friskies Funtastix from Purina

The best way to train a dog to come when called, sit, stay or advanced agility games is by rewarding your best friend with his/her favourite wish when he obeys. A dog's favourite drive varies from dog to dog, police dogs for example, are rewarded with play time with a toy when they discover drugs.

If your dog doesn't care about toys, there is not much to worry about, there are two other strong drives for dogs, petting and food. My dog does not care too much about petting or toys, but food? he goes so crazy over it, so I am training him with treats on a budget.

Here goes a little trick to acquire cheap dog treats, chop them off in little pieces, in a dog's mind a treat is a reward regardless of size, if it tastes good, it is something that they want.
Friskies Funtastix dog treat cutted to pieces
Friskies Funtastix dog treat cutted to pieces
Purina, a Nestle brand, sells these packets called Friskies Funstatix, I always cut the long sticks in pieces so that instead of 12 treats I have 120 treats, I carry them with me in a small pouch and if my dog Away does well on the street I give him one reward, if he does very well, I give him two or three rewards (3 pieces of chopped Funstatix), this way a small pouch of Funstatix lasts me the whole month. I also use these treats to make bathing and brush time fun for my dog and keep his mind off anxiety or boredom during those activities.

The price is affordable but be warned that Friskies Funstatix treats smells very strong and this kinf od artificial bacon smell is passed onto your hand if you are in contact with the treats for a long time like it will happen if you use them daily.

Another tip I will give you is that, as you can imagine, human food is far better than dog food, my dog will do anything for real fried chicken pieces, that is the top reward he gets, the downside to this is that, besides price, freshly cooked chicken is a perishable product that has to be eaten within a few days and it is also oily, this is the main reason why I use dried dog treats instead of the real deal, as long as you don't mind Friskies Funstastix in your hands and pockets, it is fine but if you usually wear nice clothes, I would not use it, I think that the smell is an overkill.

23 August 2015

Protecting my dog's neck with Nayeco Double Thor spiked collar

I have had lots of incidents where ignorant dog owners put pressure on their dog's leash or shout at their dog or hit them all claiming that they do this to control them, when, of course, as anybody with dog experience will tell you, if you shout and hit your dog you will make him angry and he will bite the first dog or person that is around believing that is the reason why his owner is mistreating him.

I had my dog bitten by a huge peaceful pitbull, and I would like to stress that pitbulls are peaceful because it was the irresponsible owner shouting at him what made the pibull bolt and attack my dog.

There is very little you can do when another owner is ignorant and does not want to invest 5 minutes of his time researching the Internet about why his dog bites other dogs. I mentioned that the other dog was a Pit-bull, not because I believe the breed is any more dangerous than a Collie or an Akita, I mentioned it because pitbulls jaws are very strong and they can pull lots of weight, there is no way my German Shepherd mix stands a chance against that bread and without breaking the dog fight on time, serious injury or death is perfectly possible.

Stainless steel spiked dog collar
Stainless steel spiked dog collar
In case you have not experienced a real dog fight, know that dogs aim to bite the neck, that is the way to kill a prey quickly, there are major arteries on a dog's neck that make them easier to bleed to death than biting on their torso or legs. I am not willing to risk my dog's life again any more, to stop this I have bought two stainless steel spiked collars for my dog to protect his neck if another dog bites him.

I will be sorry for the other dog if he breaks his teeth of course, but it is his owner who is responsible, I can't just stand and do nothing when my dog is attacked by some moron shouting at his dog , besides, if nobody bites my dog on his neck first, I am sure nothing will happen, I see it as a defence, not offensive.

I found cheap spiked dog collars for sale in Amazon but the reviews were pretty bad, citing metal spikes falling off or rusting as the main problems. The best high quality real stainless steel spiked collar with double protection I found were for sale in TiendaAnimal, it wasn't cheap, I paid €60 for it, but, my calculation is that a veterinarian treating my dog after a dog fight would cost me far more, today I have seen the same collar in the same shop for €40 which makes me feel a bit silly having overpaid, but that is life.

I have had this collar, called Double Thor, made by Nayeco, a company based in Catalonia, for one year and the collar still looks like new after using it every single day, I am impressed with the quality. The only mistake I made with the shopping was the collar size, I should have bought a bigger one, the metallic plate on the collar shortens its length, the ideal Double Thor collar length for my 23kg dog, is the 55cm size instead of the 50cm I have, I am on the last notch if his neck gets bigger due to overfeeding I will not be able to adjust his collar any longer.

German Shepherd mixed breed wearing spiked collar
German Shepherd mixed breed wearing spiked collar
Away's neck protected from a mortal bite! :)

And a cheaper version of the same high quality dog collar, without the thin metal bar covering the spikes:

Spiked dog collar Nayeco
Spiked dog collar Nayeco

18 August 2015

Repairing my dog's pawn pads

I made the mistake of playing fetch with my dog on a rough surface and even thought it is lots of fun, if you are going to throw a ball to your dog for fetching, please make sure it is in the forest or on a surface with grass, otherwise he will damage his pawn's pads, I know of at least another dog owner that had the same problem he was told by the vet that over time playing fetch on hard surfaces it is not good for the dog pawns.

I bought a spray called "Kw. Potepleje Spray" in TiendaAnimal.com, it is being advertised as moisturiser and dog pawn pad repairing spray that contains Aloe Vera. According to the label, this spray made in Denmark, creates a protective layer over a dog pads and protects him from salt, water and snow.

Damaged dog paw
Damaged dog paw

I have today finished the whole 50ml, it lasted around two months, and I am certainly not going to buy it again, here is why:

  • My dog Away hates sprays, when I tried to apply the liquid on his pawns he was scared of the liquid being sprayed on him, one work around to this was to pour the liquid directly without spraying it
  • Every single time after applying the moisturiser on my dog pads he would lick it, I did't think it is toxic, probably very tasty, but it is a waste of money if the dog is going to eat his moisturiser instead of letting it do its work, and there is nothing I could do about it
  • After two months of using this spray, I didn't notice any significant improvement on my dog pawn pads, I liked that the liquid did not smell and was not sticky, but few results, my impression is that it is the analogy of a hand cream for a human and it will not fix damaged dog pawn pads.
What to do now? Simple, I will not play fetch with my dog again on a pavement or path that does not have a soft surface, we will stick to do that at the beach.
Paw repairing dog medicine
Dog product to repair paws

Link to product (Danish language): https://kw.dk/?f=content&l=da&s=item&i=1375

2 February 2015

Why you should only feed chicken liver to a dog in small amounts

I wanted to buy cheap meat to complement the food that my dog Away gets. I normally feed him a triangle shaped middle of the range priced German brand of kibble called Bosch, I believe that my dog's kibble is good value for money, it looks good and he likes it. I buy the 15kg large bag of kibble online for €30 at Zooplus, this works out at €2/kg.

 The reason why I decided to feed my dog chicken liver and not beef liver or chicken breast it is simply because chicken liver is the cheapest meat available at my local supermarket, it costs me less than €3/kg, not much more expensive than his kibble, although I have to cook the chicken too, using sunflower cooking oil, electricity and the cost of cleaning the frying pans with tear and wear should be taken into account too.

Cooked chiken liver cut to pieces
Chiken liver cut to pieces
Discounting time, the real cost of feeding chicken liver to my dog is €4/kg, a little cheaper than high end dog food like Eukanuba or Acana and this way I know that my dog gets 100% meat. I have now researched the subject and in between other sources, one qualified veterinarian, Dr. Mary Haines, mentions in her page that chicken liver should only be given in small amounts as a supplement to a dog and never make non dog foods more than 50% of a dog's main source of food to make sure that he has a balanced diet.

The Nest online magazine also said that chicken liver is perfect for underweight dogs like mine because it is very high in proteins and it contains vitamin A which is good for a healthy eyesight, the bad news are that chicken liver can life threatening for your dog if that is the only thing he eats!

I will sum up this post for you, chicken liver is good for your dog in small quantities but make sure that it is not all he eats and that he does not get a large quantities of it, and if your dog is overweight this is probably not a good food as he could become more obese with chicken liver without lots of exercise, but if your dog is growing or underweight chicken liver is an excellent good supplement for a healthy dog.

I should also comment about why I cook the chicken liver before giving it to my dog, I know a raw food diet for dogs has supporters but vets websites say that a raw diet for a dog can be bad for your dog, they cite concerns about bacteria in raw meat and having an unbalanced diet.

The vets explanation about why a raw diet is bad for a dog make sense to me, and at the end of the day any reputable kibble will have been designed by qualified dietitians. Dog food brands will sure cut all corners they can in their products to maximize profit but I'd like to believe that they will still try to balance the amount of proteins and fat as much as possible, even if the food isn't premium quality. If you trust science, stay away from raw diets for your dog.