Thursday, July 19, 2018

Toys for Shelter Dogs – How One Arizona Businessman Makes a Difference!

As the owner of a pet waste removal company, people often ask me why I got into the business. I usually just say that I love dogs and I saw a great business opportunity in a niche market. But truth be told, I was simply burnt out of working for other people and had declared that “I would rather pick up dog s*** for a living than do this anymore!”. Never one to be all bark and no bite, I followed through with my declaration and began building my business.

Certainly, I had plenty of doubters when I got into this business and I was constantly questioned. Thankfully, my sarcastic attitude and a desire to prove them all wrong got me through it...

Why would you want to do that?”
Yes, Susan, I’ve always dreamt of picking up dog poop for a living.

Ugh, the smell must be horrible! How do you do it?”
Yes, Wendy, it’s dog poop and it smells bad. I use a scooper and a bucket.

Do you really think you can make money doing something that I MAKE my kids do?”
No, Bob, I just want to relive my childhood when my dad MADE me do it too.

I started off with a small handful of customers on the weekends which brought in a little bit of extra money to help out with the bills. Even as my number of customers began to grow, I honestly wasn’t sure if it would ever be more than a part-time side job to supplement my income. But word continued to spread and within a year of starting the business, it was already time to make the leap to full-time. It is safe to say that I severely underestimated the demand for this type of service!

Now with a thriving business underway, I find myself in a great position to give back to the furry friends who helped me get to where I am today. There are so many dogs in shelters, rescues, and foster homes that just need a loving family to call their own and I want to help them all! I began using some of the company profits to purchase toys and treats for the dogs at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. I remember being so excited about purchasing 150 dog-friendly tennis balls and bringing them to the dogs!

 As I walked through the facility, handing out a ball to each dog in their kennel, I realized that I would not have enough. There were over 300 dogs being housed at this one facility alone! It was then and there that I realized that I had to do more.

Having spent the last year building a network of animal lovers, I knew  I had a platform to make a bigger difference. This is when I started the Poodini Pals Toy Drive. I asked my customers to donate any toys, treats, blankets, leashes, or other supplies that could help the dogs feel more comfortable in the shelter and ultimately give them a better chance of being adopted. My customers answered the call and I quickly collected several trash bags worth of supplies.

I began contacting local businesses to see if I could put up a poster and leave a donation bin. Fortunately enough, several businesses jumped at the opportunity to help my cause. Word began to spread and there was a flood of donations coming in. 

At my next visit to the shelter, I had a full truck load of supplies with me!

If you would like to support Mike's efforts, please contact him at to see how you can help!

Thanks to the love and generosity of so many compassionate people, I have been able to continue to supply the shelter with much needed supplies on a regular basis. Though managing the toy drive can be quite laborious at times, if it helps even one dog to be adopted, then it is totally worth it! I feel very fortunate to be able to help and honestly wish that I could do more.

Dogs have been good to me, and I can only hope to be just as good to them!

Mike Casten
Dog lover and owner of Poodini Pet Waste Removal
Poo happens...We make it disappear! Visit us at

Friday, July 13, 2018

5 Canine Travel Experts share their travel tips

With summer vacations at it’s peak, I decided to interview a few Canine Travel Experts.

 I've asked them to tell me about their main reason for traveling with their furry friends and what they feel is essential to take with them on their journey. They also shared some helpful online resources they use and what they find most challenging during their travels with pets. Lastly, they share some tips on skills they feel are important to teach dogs to make them good travelers

1. Shandos Cleaver

Shandos currently travels around Europe with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. Shandos is the founder and blogger-in-chief of Travelnuity, a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world.

I love to travel, but I also love my dog, a Miniature Dachshund called Schnitzel. Like most pet owners, both my husband and I miss Schnitzel greatly when we travel without him, plus he misses us. All of us are a lot happier when we travel together, even if it complicates travel somewhat.
We found it's a must to have a pet carrier that meets the transport guidelines but also allows your dog to be comfortable. Schnitzel loves his bag so much that he tries to get inside, if he thinks we're leaving. If you travel by car, ensure your dog has a seat-belt or harness so the dog is secure at all times.

Unfortunately, there's not a single app or website we can turn to when preparing for our trips. We travel through different countries in Europe and use a variety of sites. Whether booking accommodation or flights, it's necessary to plan far ahead. It’s often difficult to find dog friendly options, so we learned to be flexible, especially when something doesn't turn out to be dog friendly that we expected to be.
I highly recommend three things: get your dog used to being in a crate, used to being in different environments with lots of people, and train your dog to be well behaved while dining out.”

Find out more about Schnitzel and Shandos at

 2. Preston Schutte 


Preston lives in England and travels with Zeus and Hades, his two rescue-puppies through Europe on his motorcycle.

"I love that I don't have to leave them behind for weeks at a time and don't have to bother my friends to watch them. Seeing Zeus and Hades on the back of my motorcycle seems to bring joy to other people as well.
I make sure to bring their goggles and helmets. I would hate for them to catch a bug or rock in their eyes. Waste bags because nobody likes to find a strangers' dog waste. The only other thing important for me is a tie out stake, so I don't worry about finding something to hold them with while tenting. I have checked out a couple of Apps (Petlas, Dogbuddy, SiteSeeker) but haven't used them. I am not that interested in planning my trips with such detail. I used to get so focused on the plan that I would miss a lot. Most campsites seem to be pet-friendly.
Zeus and Hades aren't that well trained, so I would feel a bit of a hypocrite to tell others what to teach their dogs. I would say most pet owners would benefit from having a dog with a bit of obedience training; a house-trained dog is definitely important and so is a well-socialized dog. Know your dog's limitations!" 

If you would like to follow Preston on his motorcycle adventures, subscribe to his YouTube Channel "UncleRocco's Modern Life", as he intents to vi-blog about it there.

3. Kayla Fratt



Kayla is a freelance writer and dog behavior consultant. She currently travels with her boyfriend and border collie, Barley, from Canada to Argentina.

I’m a big runner and hiker, so traveling with Barley means I always have a partner for adventures! He travels really well, so it’s like having my best friend and a piece of home with me everywhere I go. As a professional trainer, having my dog with me is also good advertising.
We don’t travel with much beyond the basics: leash, collar, KongWobbler, collapsible water bowl and a few toys.
To prepare for travel, I’ve used for some things. Mostly, I just find dog-friendly AirBnbs and take it from there.
One of my challenges is that I don’t want strangers to come up to pet my dog, and it’s often hard to avoid that when your dog goes everywhere with you. On long driving days, I often worry about stopping for lunch in the heat.
I recommend Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocol for dogs that travel. It’s almost the only thing I used to teach my dog to calmly lie under tables at coffee shops and bars. I tell everyone about it! Teaching your dog to come when called and leave it are absolutely life-saving skills any dog should know. And, of course, walking nicely on leash will make taking your dog places just a lot easier and more pleasant.”

Read about their travel adventures at Kayla’s blog “El Perro Tambien” or visit her on her website

4. Courtney Dickson


Courtney, a Travel and Lifestyle Producer and creator of A Bulldog Abroad, travels the world with her Frenchie, Cutter.

Our Frenchie Cutter comes with us everywhere! When we're home he is always by our side, so why not continue that as we explore the world? Also, it saves us needing to get someone to look after him while we are gone. He travels well, and there is nothing better than knowing he's waiting to greet us at the hotel if we've had to leave him there for a few hours.
We always take his blanket so he has familiar smells. He knows to sit on it in the hotel room, car, or at the airport. It's his spot and a little piece of home.
We pack a couple of his toys, food and if we have room his food/water bowl. These are the basic essentials we pack on our trips. To check pet passport rules and regulations we use, before visiting a new country. Sometimes it just takes a little extra time to find the right pet-friendly hotel in the location we are staying in the comfort level we like.

Many hotels will not allow dogs to be left alone in the room. When you are able to leave your dog alone, he/she shouldn't disturb other travelers by barking. If your dog is a barker, you should work on this before you travel with him/her, otherwise you may wish to leave the dog with someone you trust.”

Follow Courtney and her Frenchie Cutter at A Bulldog Abroad – Luxury travel with your pet.

5. Bruno Maiorana

Bruno is a teacher and writer, who travels the Americas with his dog Bong Gu, as a way to raise awareness about animal abandonment issues. His message: “There's no excuse to abandon our pets.”

What are my favorite things about traveling with Bong Gu? Waterfall showers, finding wild animals, sleeping under the stars, feeling her warm body during cold nights and the sounds she makes when she's dreaming and imagining she's probably dreaming of me.
To ensure we will never get separated, the most important item is a capsule she wears in her collar with my email and phone number on it.
Bong Gu and I travel mostly on foot, sometime we walk 10 or 12 hours in a day and I couldn't have done most of it without a GPS app. On our travels, packs of wild stray dogs in the outskirts of towns have been most challenging for us.

If I would recommend one thing to teach your dog while traveling: Teach your dog to stay by your side and trust you completely. If I tell Bong Gu to wait, she knows, I have a good reason to ask her!”

For more information on Bruno and Bong Gu, visit them on Instagram MyLastVacation or see Bruno’s website Best Friends stick together.

I hope you enjoyed our Expert Roundup on traveling with your dog. Please leave your comments below and check back for more exciting canine travel tips and other dog related subjects.
To share your own travel adventures with us, join our Facebook Group 

Until next time: Keep Your Paws on the Road!


Monday, July 2, 2018

Pet Safety for the 4th of July Celebration

Just a few more days and it's the 4th of July! Everyone around the US is looking for some way to enjoy the holiday. Whether you plan a get-together at your home or away from home, please take a few moments to plan for your pets this 4th of July.

Unlike people, most pets do not enjoy the whistle and bang of the fireworks to celebrate our Independence day. Although not all pets get scared of the noise, many do feel uncomfortable with the celebrations. The 5th of July is historically the busiest day for shelters around the country. This is due to the fact that many animals are so frightened by the noise of the firework displays that they run away from home.

1. Make sure your tags are up to date! 

One of the most basic precautions you can take is to ensure your pet's tags are up to date. Especially if you are traveling, check to make sure your pet's tag has your current mobile number on it. You may also wish to include your email address. This ensures anyone will be able to contact you in case your pet is lost during the hustle of the 4th Celebration.
If your pet is microchipped, you also want to go to the hosting site and review your contact information. Your pet's collar can be lost, but the microchip is with him/her at all times!

2. Bring Your pet inside!

This may seem obvious, but if you have a pet door that allows your pet to go in and out, you need to make sure it is closed. You may not think your pet will run away, but animals that are frightened will flee from what they perceive to be the danger zone. So if your pet feels afraid at your home, it may try to escape the scary situation by running away. Many pets that are otherwise comfortable at home have jumped fences or escaped enclosures during the 4th of July.

3. Create a safe comfortable place!

Close off the pet door and make a comfortable place in a quiet room for your pet. You  may even want to play some quiet background noise to  drown out some of the noise. Even if you are home, your presence alone may not be enough to keep your pet comfortable. The banging and wheezing of the firework displays in the neighborhood is very scary!  You can provide some distraction by offering a favorite treat or chew toy, but don't be surprised if your pet isn't interested during the hight of the celebration time. Many pets are rather afraid of the loud and unusual noises. Allow your pet to hide under a blanket or furniture. Don't try to console them, it is best to allow them to find a comfortable spot where they want to 'hide.'
Unless your pet chooses to be close to you, don't try to pet or hold your pet. Petting actually enforces the anxiety, because your 'approval' signals the pet that he should be afraid. Be a calm and soothing presence that encourages your pet, but don't overdo the attention to the anxious behavior.

4. Leave your pet at home!

Taking your best friend to the festivities may not be a good idea if there are going to be firework displays. Even if your dog has never shown any panic around loud noises, the combination of loud bangs and wheezes and the smell of the burning sulfur, together with the hustle of the party is hardly a fun activity for any dog. it's great to take your dog with you to all kinds of activities, but 4th of July celebrations are  likely the least favorite on your pet's list.

The safest and best bet for celebrating this 4th of July with your pets is to exclude them from holiday festivities. Instead, find a safe, secure spot in the home for your pets while you go out and enjoy the loud bangs, bright lights and spectator fun. Your pets will appreciate the quiet a lot more than you’ll enjoy the noise.

5. Provide additional comfort for anxious pets!

If you have noticed your dog is especially anxious during 4th of July fireworks (or at New Years), you may wish to take additional precautions for your pet. You can talk to your vet in regards to a sedative that can help alleviate some of the stress. I personally prefer natural ways to help my dogs with anxiety. You can use CBD oils or a Thunder Jacket, both are holistic ways to relieve stress in pets.

Thank you for coming by and reading my blog. I would love to see your comments on this subject.

Keep Your Paws safe and secure during the holiday!

Thank you,
Bee Walker

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Pet Danger! - The Sonoran Desert Toad

A Guest Blog by TeriAnn Tate

I’m sure you’re all saying, “poisonous toads in Arizona and Southern California….whatcha talking about Teri Ann?” This Toad is known as the Colorado River Toad, or the Sonoran Desert Toad, and is one curious looking beast with warts all over its brown and green skin. It can be as small as three inches and as long as seven inches.

"How is the toad poisonous to your pet(s)?” 


The Colorado River Toad secretes toxins from glands on its head. An animal approaching a toad will sniff it, then may lick it or try to bite it. By doing so the animal ingests the toxin. Because of the bad taste, the animal leaves the toad, which is how the toad survives its predators.

The toad lives in various habitats, including desert scrub, golf course landscape, and canal and irrigation areas. They emerge from underground burrows in late Summer and Fall after monsoon storms, then return underground to hibernate.

Toads eat insects and are therefore attracted to light, which is why you might find the toad sitting under your porch light. 
If you have a curious dog who must stick its nose into everything, including whatever jumps and hops, this can cause a problem. The thing about this poisonous toad is that your dog doesn’t even have to lick it to be poisoned. The toad is attracted to water, including pools and water dishes, so all the toad has to do is sit on the rim of your dog’s water dish. When your dog drinks from the dish, s/he may lick the rim of the dish, thus ingesting the poison. This makes it important to monitor your pets and clean out their water bowls, including the rims, thoroughly, on a weekly basis, and more often during the monsoon season.
Unfortunately, you may not even know your pet has come into contact with a toad. You may find your dog stumbling around acting strange. Your biggest clue will be the foamy salivation.

Signs and Symptoms of Toad Poisoning:


  • Depression
  • Foamy salivation

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Seizures

  • Fever

  • Diarrhea & Vomiting

  • Weakness or Collapsing

Treatment for your Pet


If you suspect toad poisoning, immediately rinse out the dog’s mouth with a hose (do not stick the hose down the throat and drown the poor thing). Your objective is to dilute the poison in the mouth as much as possible. Next, call your veterinarian for further advice/treatment. Depending on the severity of your pet's symptoms, you may be asked to bring your pet in. For those pets that are very anxious or frightened, your vet may want to give a sedative, and for those with elevated heartbeats, perhaps an overnight stay and fluid therapy to treat dehydration.

If possible try to remove the toad from your yard. Do not touch it with your bare hands! Use gloves and a shovel or scoop it into a bucket and remove it from your area. I also recommend that you teach your child(ren) not to touch the toad and to alert an adult immediately. Remember, picking up a toad with your hands, makes your hands toxic, too!

Teri Ann Tate is a Professional Pet Care provider, who owns Comfy Pets of AZ. As a Certified Equine & Pet First Aid Instructor, Teri Ann teaches animal first aid classes in Arizona, California and New Mexico. Visit her at or contact her at (602) 579-1437.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Why You Should Teach Your Dog to Potty on Command

When people ask me about skills that I deem important for traveling dogs, I always start with “Potty on Command.” Many people look at me in disbelieve. Really? Why would teaching your dog to do his business on command be such a big deal? But I insist, teaching your dog to potty on command is one of the most needed skills if you like to take your dog with you on day-trips or vacations. Read on to find out why.

Unfamiliar places are distracting

Whether you travel far or just to the local Farmers’ Market, all the new and unusual smells are very distracting for your dog, so he will be too busy taking it all in and he will forget to do his thing. Then, when you are walking in a crowded area, he will remember that he has to go and relieve himself in the most inappropriate area. Believe me, I’ve been there.
This is why being able to tell your dog when and where he should do his business is so useful. I make it a habit to find a nice grassy area and have my dogs relieve themselves, before I take them to any busy area. This way I am sure there won’t be any messes right outside the restaurant or in the aisle of the Farmers’ Market.
This is also convenient as you travel, as it allows you to decide where your dog shouldn’t do his business. When I travel with my dogs, I find there are a lot of places that say “No pets!” By being able to tell my dogs when it’s appropriate to go, I can make sure we don’t break any rules at campgrounds or hotels.

You don’t have a lot of time

Quite often when you travel, there isn’t a lot of time for potty breaks, especially when you travel by airplane. There is seldom a lot of time between flights and it can be difficult to get to an area your dog can use the potty at. Many airport terminals now offer dog areas. These small areas are usually lined with fake grass or even tile. Naturally they are constantly cleaned with heavy duty chemicals to prevent the spread of diseases. Many dogs will not relieve themselves in these places, unless they are trained to do so. When your dog has learned to potty on command, he is likely to relieve himself in any circumstance and no longer requires to walk around and sniff for just the right spot. For smaller dogs, it is ideal to use a potty pad in addition to the command, as this allows you to have your dog “go” in any area that you lay down the pad. This way you can take your pet to an appropriate area or even put the potty pad into his crate and have him relieve himself.

Sky Harbor Airport PHX

How to train your dog to potty on command

So now that you understand the benefits of training your dog to potty on command, here is how you can teach him:

On your regular walks, with your dog on-leash, go to the areas your dog usually relieves himself. When you get to the area, say the command. I use: “Do your buiz.” Now simply wait until your dog relieves himself. Do not talk a lot or walk around a lot, simply stand in an area you know your dog has used the potty before and say the command, then let the dog sniff around a little. When he starts to potty, say the command one more time. When he is done, praise him. Continue to do this from now on. If your dog uses the potty in your backyard, walk outside with him and use the command when he does his business, praise him when he is done.
It will only take a few days and you will notice your dog will relieve himself when you ask him to. Now practice in areas your dog usually does not relieve himself. Be consistent and soon your dog will know to potty on command.
Birgit Walker is a dog trainer and canine travel expert. She and her husband, Jim Walker, train dogs in the Phoenix area. Visit their website at Birgit and Jim also published a book on traveling with dogs, titled “Keep Your Paws on the Road – A Practical Guide to Traveling with Dogs”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

3 Things You Can Do to Recondition Your Reactive Dog

Here is a popular topic: Working with a reactive dog.  Many dog owners struggle with reactive behavior in their dogs. They are frustrated and anxious because their dog misbehaves on-leash by lunging and barking frantically at other dogs, or bicycles, or even people. Often times this will make them walk their dogs at odd hours of the day, to ensure they won't meet anyone, or they may even refrain from taking their dogs out at all.

What many dog owners don't realize is that reactive dogs are not always aggressive. The reactive behavior can also come out of insecurity or can be caused by hyper-excitement.

A dominant confident dog's reactive behavior can easily turn into aggression. Quiet often the reason for the reactive barking and lunging is due to the fact that the dog is on a tight leash. A lot of dog owners will unconsciously tense up and hold their dog back. This tense hold on the leash conveys to the dog that there is something to worry about, so the dog is on alert. If the dog is out in front of the owner, he is in a protective mode and will bark and lunge to ward off what he perceives as danger.

An insecure dog will demonstrate reactive behavior because he is fearful or unsure of himself. He barks and lunges. He does this in the hopes the imaginary threat (the other dog or person) will see him as tough and will walk away. The closer the "threat" comes, the more the dog barks and lunges.

On the other hand, if the dog is hyper-excited, then he is barking and lunging out of excitement. Unable to contain himself, he jumps around wanting to make lots of noise to draw attention to himself, in the hopes the other dog, or person will come over and give him attention. This type of dog will usually whine or bark excitedly the closer the person or other dog gets.

No matter what the reason for your dog's reactive behavior, there are 3 main things you can do to help your dog get over his reactive behavior and recondition him to be more relaxed and better behaved on-leash.

1. Teach your dog to NEVER pull on the leash

The first and most important behavior to teach a dog that is reactive is to condition him to walk on a loose leash. This is something that only 50% of dog owners actually teach their dogs! We teach all our customers to expect their dogs to walk on a loose leash next to them. When your reactive dog is taught to walk in this way, he is given less opportunity to excalate.  Because it is his job to keep the leash loose, he is unable to display his lunging, which will take away much of the reactive behavior.
When we teach a reactive dog to walk on a loose leash, he immediately becomes less reactive, because now he won't lunge or pull. What remains is a barking dog, which is much easier to handle.

2. Redirect your dog with a correction or a scent

Once your dog has learned to walk without pulling on the leash, you can practice redirecting the reactive barking by interrupting his behavior. There are two ways to do this:
1. You can give your dog a correction. This is usually a tug or sideways pull with the leash and works best if you use a training collar ( The tug is like a tab on the shoulder, telling your dog to pay attention to you.
2. You can use a high-value treat, something with a strong smell that will grab your dog's attention and get him refocused. Do not GIVE the treat to the dog, rather hold it in your closed fist and offer the scent only to redirect his attention.

When you encounter a trigger - something that usually causes a reactive behavior in your dog - try to redirect with either method before the dog escalates into the reactive behavior. If he is already barking, put some distance between you and the trigger and continue to work on redirecting the dog. It is very important to have a loose leash! If your dog still pulls on the leash, you need to go back to the first exercise and recondition your dog to NEVER pull on the leash!

3. Display a calm and confident posture

Now that your dog knows to NEVER pull on the leash and you are able to redirect his behavior, you will be able to walk him through any situations. One of the most important aspects of working with a reactive dog is to maintain a calm and confident posture. Most dog owners unintentionally actually trigger a dog's reactive behavior, because they tense up and tighten up on the leash when they see another dog or something that might trigger the reactiveness in their dogs.
First and foremost, don't be embarrassed or frustrated when your dog gets reactive. See it as an opportunity to train him. If he doesn't react, how can you train him not to?
Then, become aware of your own body language. BREATHE and relax your shoulders! Keep the leash loose at all cost. If the dog can't feel you on the tight leash, he is on his own. You may hear a frustrated bark, but a dog on a loose leash won't lunge or act stupid.
If the dog escalates, put some distance between you and the trigger. I am not suggesting to avoid the trigger, I just want you to be a few feet away until you can get the dog redirected and under control. When he is paying attention to you, bring him closer to the trigger and expect him to keep the leash loose. You may have to keep going closer and then again further away, working with your dog on the reactive behavior by redirecting him. This will only work if you send a calm and confident signal! If you feel frustrated, end the exercise and walk away. A stressed out handler CANNOT control a reactive dog.

We have worked with many dog owners that had problems with their dog being reactive. Don't get caught up in the why and move to resolve the issue by becoming a calm and confident handler, teach your dog to always walk on a loose leash and learn to see the signals of him getting into the reactive state to interrupt and redirect early in the process.  

By becoming the one in control of your own dog's behavior, you will soon see a well-mannered dog that is less reactive. You will be confident in walking your dog anywhere. When your dog escalates, you will know what to do and will remain calm and in control.

Thank you for stopping by. Keep your paws on the road and please comment and share!

About  Birgit Walker
  Jim and Birgit have trained dogs in Arizona, California, Montana, and Hawaii. They offer dog training services through their company Modern Canine Services in Phoenix, Arizona. Birgit just published two books Chew On This - Homemade Dog Treat Recipes, and Keep Your Paws on the Road - A Practical Guide to Traveling with Dogs. She also authors a blog and newsletter and offers a lively Facebook group that shares dog travel adventures. Jim and Birgit travel with their three dogs throughout the US in their Fifth Wheel.

For more information about Modern Canine Services, please visit or contact BIRGIT WALKER at (602) 688-4060. You can also email under


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