Jordan has loved dogs all his life. He shares his knowledge on man’s best friend on his blog Coops and Cages. He is definitely an expert on dog walking.

You have your family and your friends, your dog has you. This explains why your canine jumps gleefully every time you stand up and get his leash. He knows it’s time for him to take a walk with you. It’s not only bathroom time for him (socializing with the neighborhood dog, perhaps.) It is also his alone time with his favorite human and his master – you.

Some dog owners find this time of day quite a routine and they just want to rush back home to their other errands as soon as the dog has gone. In order to keep your beloved mutt happy, here are five ways on how you can make dogwalking as entertaining and as engaging as possible for the both of you.

1. Walk in front of your dog

This gives your dog the impression that you are the pack leader. If he controls the walk and the direction, then he is the pack leader and that should not be the case. You should be the first one to walk out of your door as well as the first one in. Your dog should either be behind you or beside you while you do the walk. True, that it is difficult for puppies because they get excited the minute they are outside and they just scamper left and right. It is your job as the pack leader to settle him down and to direct him to where you want to go and not where he wants to go.

The key is heeling. You as the human make the decision for the dog. Tell him to heel whenever he gets tired. This prevents you from pulling him, which only hurts him in the process. When your dog is calm and in a submissive state, then that is when he lets you take the lead. Train your dog to be in this state whenever you go out for a walk.

2. Use a short dog leash

A short leash gives you more control. You can direct him to where you want to go easily. Having a long leash between you and your dog gives him the luxury to wander off behind you. At least with a short leash, he has no space and time to do so. Attaching the leash to your dog’s neck leads to easy communication and guidance. Keep your dog’s safety in mind also. Some dog owners opt for the body collars so that their dogs’ necks aren’t strained. That would work as well. However, some body collars are designed in such a way that it is the dog that leads, and not you. Make it possible for you to go ahead even if you are using the body collar.  Having your dog on a leash prevents him to get away and cause problems. You can also consider pinch collars so that you can increase the comfort and control. Harnesses come in handy as well. Retractable leashes do the trick too.

3. Give yourself enough time for dog walking

Dog walking is usually thirty minutes to an hour. You can consult with your vet on what the ideal time is for your dog’s breed. Early morning is ideal too. However, a number of dog owners opt toward the end of the day because that is when they are done with their work. It may be difficult for dogs though because they cannot hold it in that long. Suggested time and frequency would be an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. If this is not possible, thirty minutes for both morning and evening would suffice. You can also consider dog walking as me time. Hit two birds with one stone by jogging and running beside your dog. In that way, you get your cardio and your dog gets his exercise. Everyone’s happy.

4. Reward your dog during the walk

Look at this as quality time with your dog. Bring a bag of treats for him. Every time he heels or does a command, give him a treat. For puppies, this is also the best time to train them with their basic commands like sit, lie down, heel and roll over. Dog training can be done during dog walking. You can also play games with them like letting them run loose for some time and making sure that they will come back to you when you call them back.

5. Be aware of trails and cautious of dangers

Dog walkers prefer country walks and trails that have sidewalks. There have been reports of dog getting hurt from traps intended for rabbits and squirrels when they go off track. This is exactly why you should train your dog as early as possible to keep following you and just you. By rewarding him with treats every time he stays on track and behind you, he remembers that this is the proper thing to do. Proper dog training and walking on a leash and controlling it well are the best ways to keep your dog safe.

As a dog owner, always make sure that you have a poopie scooper and a garbage bag whenever your dog goes. Responsible owners clean up after their pets. You wouldn’t want anyone stepping on your dog’s poo. What would you do if that happened to you? Do not forget to praise your dog when he goes as well. That is one reason why he is being walked in the first place. That is his bathroom time as well as your-me time


Author: Jordan Walker

Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages

Spring Break Pet Boarding Reservations In High Demand

If you own a pet and are planning to escape the cold for Spring Break, I hope you have already started planning where your dog or cat will be staying while you are gone!  Spring Break is one of the busiest pet boarding times of the year, and often times, pet boarding facilities fill up months in advance.  It’s always a good idea to make your pet boarding reservations as soon as your trip details are solidified.  Here are a few tips for your Spring Break pet boarding needs:

1. Plan early.  Some pet owners book their Spring Break pet boarding reservations for next year when they return this year.  In some cases, pet care facilities may not allow this, but others might as long as you are willing to pay a deposit.  So, what is early?  If you want your first choice of pet care facility, you should be booking your pet boarding reservations no less than 3 months in advance.

2. Have a desirable reservation.  Honestly, no pet care facility wants your 3 day reservation during one of their busiest weeks of the year.  When demand for a certain time period is so high, pet care facilities need to maximize their “inventory”.  This means turning down a 3 day reservation and holding out for a 10 day reservation.  Can you blame them?  Also, multiple pet reservations are another desirable trait pet care businesses tend to favor. So if you just have one dog, get another! (hahahaha, but seriously…get another dog – there are so many that need a home)

3. Book weekdays.  Like a lot of businesses, the weekends are the most coveted real estate of all.  Often times, if you are able to adjust your travel plans, you can find a pet boarding reservation for your pet Monday to Friday.

4. Have a friend, family member, or neighbor pick up or drop off.  As stated in number three above, you can sometimes find availability through the week.  However, this may not always match up with your other travel plans so well.  It is not uncommon for pet owners to have someone else drop off or pick up for them.  This may also include watching your dog for a day or so while you are on your way to or from vacation.  But in most cases, your willing friend or family member would much rather have this scenario than having the responsibility of caring for your pet for an entire week.  Just be respectful of your friends and family’s time – don’t overstay your pet’s welcome.

5. Book online.  This may seem like a shameless plug, but it’s true.  Getting a hold of your pet boarding facility can often times be painful.  They have limited hours, limited staff and limited resources.  When you are available to book the reservation, the pet care facility is often not.  You are probably booking all of your other travel online, at night, after work, and after kids go to bed – you probably aren’t going to get a hold of many pet care businesses at that time.  This makes travel planning difficult since you’re trying to coordinate the many different variables of your vacation.  Find a facility that has online pet boarding reservations WITH instant confirmation.  Don’t be fooled by online request forms that require confirmation from a staff member.  You might as well call and leave a voice mail message which would be quicker and easier.  Real online pet boarding reservations, like PetBookings.com, let you select your dates, room type, additional services, and pay a deposit online in a matter of minutes.  You receive instant email confirmation so you can rest soundly knowing your entire trip planning is complete – including the dog.

Sochi’s Dogs

If you haven’t heard about the stray dogs of Sochi yet, you will soon. Yesterday the Sochi Olympics kicked off, with the official Opening Ceremony happening tonight. One of the main worry’s for the Olympic’s officials are the stray dogs. While there have been reports on Sochi not being fully ready to host the Olympic Games, it is said that it would be humiliating if a stray dog were to enter the Olympic games and need to be caught! As I hear and read more about the stray dogs it is unfortunate that Sochi Olympic officials are scrambling to take care of the “problem”- however I hope it sheds light on what a difference spaying and neutering can make. With Sochi’s stray dog problem being so publicized many animal welfare organizations are stepping forward to help and educate. The following article from National Geographic shows Olympics volunteers doting on the stray dogs, and even some of the athletes that have named one that hangs out near their hotel.

Stray Dogs in Sochi: What Happens to the World’s Free-Roaming Canines?
Millions of canines wander the streets worldwide.

Photo of stray dogs walk in front of the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia.Two stray dogs walk by the Bolshoi Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia.


Christine Dell’Amore
National Geographic

Despite a global uproar, exterminators in Sochi have killed hundreds of stray dogs in an effort to clean up the city in advance of the Olympic Games, which officially begin tomorrow.

The decision, announced earlier this week, has inspired several animal lovers to round up and save as many of the dogs as possible. Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska is funding a “dog rescue” golf cart that’s now scooping up dogs around Sochi.

“People aren’t tolerant of [killing], and now you have the world audience coming to your doorstep,” said Kelly O’Meara, a director at Humane Society International.

There are “much more effective ways they could have handled this,” such as spaying and neutering the animals, she said.

But the Russian resort on the Black Sea isn’t the only place with a dog problem. An estimated 250 to 300 million stray dogs roam our planet, according to O’Meara.

It’s easy to confuse a stray dog with a pet, especially in non-westernized countries, added Matt Gompper, a professor of mammalogy at the University of Missouri who edited the book Free-Ranging Dogs and Wildlife Conservation.

For instance, some cultures view pet dogs in a way that’s analogous to how Americans see barn cats: A person might feed and house a dog and sometimes give it veterinary care, but the animal still roams as it pleases. (See “5 Amazing Stories of Devoted Dogs.”)

“It’s a very different concept of ownership, even though all of the dogs are entirely dependent on human resources,” Gompper said.

Other dogs are truly strays, hanging around a neighborhood and begging for food. Unlike cats, free-roaming dogs aren’t really feral, since they rarely hunt wildlife. (Also see “Writer’s Call to Kill Feral Cats Sparks Outcry.”)

Some stray dogs—especially those shunned or treated inhumanely—band together into packs for safety and food, avoiding people. But most stray dogs are actually not menacing, because most rely on the public for their food—”positive interaction is necessary for them to get what they need,” O’Meara said.

Countries differ in how they deal with stray canines, but generally there are three main methods: killing, mass sheltering, and sterilization and vaccination, O’Meara said.


Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Egypt, Russia, and much of eastern Europe and the Baltic countries have mass dog-killing programs. Many such initiatives are put in motion after an outbreak of disease, such as rabies, that’s a threat to human health.

The most common form of killing stray dogs is poisoning, a “silent killer” that is being used in Sochi, O’Meara said.

Usually, meat is laced with strychnine, a common poison, and put out on the street for whatever animal might find it—mostly dogs. A poisoned dog can “take up to an hour to die—it’s horrific and extremely painful for an animal to go through,” she said. After the animals die, the extermination service picks up the carcasses at night.

Other methods include shooting, bludgeoning, or gassing, practices that are often achieved by rounding up large groups of dogs.

According to O’Meara, mass killing is not only inhumane but also ineffective, since the dogs that extermination services catch are usually the animals least afraid of people. The shyest and possibly the sickest dogs aren’t caught, which may increase the threat to public health from bites and disease transmission.


This approach—common in Thailand, India, and Italy—takes street dogs and puts them into huge shelters, which are often not equipped to handle the high populations.

Conditions are often poor, and many of the captured dogs have more puppies, only worsening the problem.

Dogs in mass shelters usually live their whole lives in the facilities.

Sterilization and Vaccination

In western Europe, Bhutan, the Philippines, India, Nepal, Costa Rica, Chile, Panama, South Africa, and Mauritius, stray dogs are sometimes sterilized and immunized, then released back into cities.

Since stray dogs are often a public health concern, governments mostly fund these programs with startup assistance from animal groups like the Humane Society. (See dog pictures submitted to National Geographic.)

Advocates of this approach say that packs of stray dogs will eventually die off because they can’t reproduce, and in the meantime are not at risk of spreading diseases like rabies (vaccinated dogs are marked by a small notch in their ears).

According to O’Meara, in places where sterilization and vaccination programs have been put in place, the dogs overall act calmer.

For instance, neutered males fight less over females, causing less injury to females and wreaking less havoc among the dog population.

Religion is often a factor in how dogs are treated: the Buddhist nations of Thailand and Bhutan have traditionally avoided killing dogs, while Islamic countries usually adopt the practice. But even that is changing. (Take National Geographic’s dog quiz.)

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is the first Islamic city to take on mass sterilization and vaccination, “and the hope is to spread to the rest of the country,” she said.

However, Gompper noted that vaccination can be wasteful, since many dogs have already been exposed to diseases like parvovirus and have an immunity to them.

Other Practices

Some countries will also round up their dogs and dump them somewhere else, which is a short-term solution, Gompper added.

Stray dogs can also end up in smaller municipal shelters, which is common in the U.S. In much of the Caribbean, such as Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico, dogs end up in small shelters, but adoptions are low, so the animals are often euthanized.

Humane Society International’s O’Meara said that the organization encourages adoption. (See “Can Dogs Feel Our Emotions? Yawn Study Suggests Yes.”)

Yet adopting animals is a concept foreign to many cultures, noted Gompper, especially in Asia where dogs might be perceived as dangerous or diseased: He described how a visiting Indian colleague was taken aback to see a dog on his living room couch.

“Not surprisingly, there are going to be barriers against shifting toward a culture of adopting dogs,” he said.

However, the idea of a dog in the home has made inroads into some countries, including the Chinese, who were once more likely to eat dogs than keep them as pets. Thanks to an interest in house pets in rapidly developing China, more stray dogs are being adopted there, O’Meara said.

Humane Society International is training many vets abroad to catch dogs without hurting them and teaching best practices for spaying and neutering and humane euthanasia. In the Philippines, veterinarian Alice Utlang has even pushed the city of Cebu to switch from killing dogs with gas chambers to using the less painful method of sodium pentobarbital.

Overall, despite the fact there are a billion dogs on Earth, Canis familiaris is a species we still don’t understand. For instance, little is known about domestic dogs, in particular how they act in their environment, and with us.

This needs to change, since no one knows the risks of having so many of these “wolves in domesticated clothing” in our midst, Gompper said.

Yield Management Applies to Pet Care, Too.

Simple ways to incorporate Yield Management into your business

Yield management has become part of mainstream business theory and practice over the last fifteen to twenty years. Whether an emerging discipline or a new management science (it has been called both), yield management is a set of yield maximization strategies and tactics meant to improve the profitability of certain businesses that focus on yield. It is complex because it involves several aspects of management control, including rate management, revenue streams management, and distribution channel management, just to name a few of them. Yield management is multidisciplinary because it blends elements of marketing, operations, and financial management into a highly successful new approach. Yield management strategists frequently must work with one or more other departments when designing and implementing yield management strategies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yield_management

So what does that mean? Well for our industry, it means selling rooms and services at the right price, at the right time, to the right people.  You are implementing a process for understanding customer behavior or buying trends in order to make maximum profits.  You may already be doing some yield management techniques without ever knowing it.  Have you ever placed a two day reservation on a waiting list when you weren’t actually full because you wanted to hold out for a better reservation over a busy weekend?  If so, you practiced yield management.

Companies that combine a perishable inventory and a fixed capacity typically use yield management. For example, a pet care facility has a set number of rooms available and fixed costs that apply whether they are filled or not.  What does perishable inventory and fixed capacity mean?  In its simplest form, it means you have X amount of available rooms/suites/runs and you cannot “sell” yesterday’s empty room if it goes unoccupied – it expires.  This is why it becomes so important to maximize occupancy and book efficiently – you can’t go back in time and sell last Christmas’ un-booked rooms.

Unfortunately, due to the niche industry we are in, there are no industry specific white papers on the subject.  However, there are plenty of publications that relate to yield management in other industries.  Many of the overall techniques and practices cross over and can be applied to our unique industry.  Here is a good resource from Cornell University, an expert on the topic: Yield Management


So…What Color Is Your App?

It seems like apps are everywhere these days and they do just about anything you can think of.  Smartphones have become so popular due to the fact they have so many uses besides just making a phone call.  It’s great when you come across an app that is so simple to use yet so incredibly powerful.

When it comes to pet care services, that app is PetBookings.  A small 2 inch box that you can make any color you want that goes directly on YOUR website.  What is in that small box?  Some would say magic, but I’m pretty sure voodoo is not involved – just a lot of smarts and know-how!  We combined all the industry needs of a pet care facility, best practices learned from yield management in the hospitality industry, and wrapped it up in the simplicity of a modern day app for pet boarding reservations!

Here are a few questions we have recently fielded regarding the PetBookings website app.


1. How are pet care providers using it?

They simply place the app on their website and it goes to work!  It’s helpful and useful because it gives customers 24/7 access to book reservations – Allowing pet owners to book a reservation according to their schedule and not yours.

2. So how does it work?

That’s like asking, “What time is it?”.  Do you want me to build you a watch or just tell you what time it is?  Same thing with PetBookings.  We’ve taken care of all the details so you don’t have to worry about them.  We setup your account with you and then we step back and let it work for you.  Using the PetBookings website app is as easy as checking email!

3. The Internet is stupid and I hate Facebook.

Well…Ok??? (I can’t make this stuff up! — what’s FB have to do with PetBookings?)  I guess my answer to this one would be…The Internet isn’t going away??  Either provide convenience to customers or someone else will.  Good luck!

4. What does it cost?

First, let me ask you – what does it cost when a pet owner books a $170 reservation somewhere other than your facility?  If you think you just lost $170, you’re wrong!  When someone books somewhere else, you are potentially losing that customer for good.  So you just lost:

$170 X 2 bookings per year X 10 years avg client lifespan = $3,400!!

Ouch!  What if I told you, you could have kept that client for only $5 if you had the PetBookings app on your website.  You see, the customer wanted to book the reservation at your place, but when she called at 10pm, she got your voice mail.  Needing to secure the reservation that night, she went online to get the phone number of her backup option – but when she landed on their website – they had a PetBookings app that allowed her to book online with instant confirmation.  The path of least resistance always prevails and customers will eventually find that path – hopefully it leads to you!


Resolution to be more fit this year? Don’t forget your pets too!

While it may be “cliche” to set fitness goals at the beginning of the new year, it is never a bad thing! We all know that around the holidays the treats and sweets just keep coming. Guess what? Whether you recognize it or not, we tend to let our dogs indulge too, wouldn’t want them to be left out! Whether it’s a bit of the Christmas ham, or extra treats in their stocking- they pack it on too!

According to Casey Parks in his article found here, about 50% of the country’s dogs and cats are obese. Parks has interviewed Veterinarian Dr. Justin Cates about his “Pet Pooch Project”.

The gyms were packed this week with people hoping to shed their holiday pounds. But even as humans resolve to slim down, they sometimes forget the special beings in their lives who also added a little holiday weight: their pets.

Roughly 50 percent of the country’s dogs and cats are obese, and plenty of owners slip their pets a little extra food during special occasions. Weight issues can lead to joint problems and diabetes, both of which are expensive to treat. To help owners get their pets in shape, Alberta Veterinary Care is offering a free weight-loss program and lecture this month.

“It can be kind of cute until they become diabetic, and that is never cute,” said Dr. Justin Cates, the vet’s sole practitioner. “It’s very similar to what happens in people. It wears down their bodies and joints. Then they’re are too sore to move around very much.”

Cates has partnered with a few other Northeast Alberta Street businesses to offer free healthy treats, toys that promote weight loss and free dog walks and cat play times for people with overweight pets. Tuesday night, he’ll lead a lecture (complete with human and pet snacks) about pet obesity.
The “Pet Pooch Project” is the first of what Cates hope will be many community programs his new clinic will offer. Corporations are buying up many local veterinary clinics, Cates said, and he wants to get back to the old model where the local vet plays a key role in the community. He plans to start a meals on wheels program for pets soon.

To sign up for the Pet Pooch Project, owners must sign up for a free pet comprehensive exam by Jan. 31. That exam comes with an exercise routine and diet consultation, along with six free weigh-ins to track the pet’s progress.

To get the pets off the cushy beds, they’ll offer toys that encourage scavenging in dogs and predatory behavior in cats.


I hope vets all over the world adopt something similar to Dr. Cates program. For the record, let it be known that Cates did mention this: “Cats especially can be quite difficult because you can’t make them do anything,”



New Years Resolution For You and Your Pet

Some resolutions can benefit both you and your pet. Like living a healthy lifestyle– go on more walks with the dog! Keep in touch with friends– set up dog play times at the park! The following is a list of 10 New Years Resolutions (provided by petMD) for yourself and your pet.

Happy New Year Dog.

#10 – Measure your Pet’s Food, Every Time! Many owners “eyeball” their pet’s daily intake and pour that into a bowl, usually resulting in overfeeding and weight gain. It’s important to use an 8-ounce measuring cup to ensure your pet isn’t taking in more calories than they need. The recommended feeding guidelines on the bag are good place to start to figure out how much food Fido (or Kitty) really needs. Older pets and those who have been neutered usually have lower energy needs than young, intact animals

#9 – Choose an age appropriate diet. Puppy/kitten, young adult, adult, and senior foods have been created for a reason! Growing pets have very specific nutrient requirements to ensure their bodies grow healthy and strong. For example, some senior pets may have lower energy requirements, but have other medical issues like degenerative joint disease that may be helped with the appropriate diet. Choosing a diet specifically tailored to your pet’s life stage is a great way to keep them in optimal health.

#8 – Try a New Activity With Your Pet! From doga to hiking, skijoring to kayaking, it’s easier than ever for people to incorporate their pet into a new exercise routine. It’s a great way to bond, it’ll get you both out of the house, and both owner and pet will reap the rewards of a healthy physical activity. Meet-up groups are a great way to find like-minded pet owners to join you in your exercise, too!

#7 – Incorporate (More) Playtime into Your Routine. Every pet loves being pet and cuddled, but playing is sometimes forgotten! Cats love the thrill of chasing a laser toy; just don’t tell them it’s exercise! Toys that trigger a cat’s predatory instinct are a great way to get them off the couch and engaged in a little aerobic activity. Experiment to see what really gets your cat going — in addition to lasers, catnip toys, crinkly balls, and climbable cat trees are perennial feline favorites. Even a cardboard box can become a cat cave that satisfies a cat’s desire for a hiding place.

#6 – Make a Date With Your Vet. Yearly examinations by the veterinarian are a key component of good preventive care. Many medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or obesity are common in aging pets and much easier to manage when detected in the early stages of the disease process. Veterinary visits are also the perfect time to ask for advice, update your pet’s food, or get an expert opinion on any behavioral issues that may be affecting your bonding with your pet.

#5 – Groom Your Pet Daily. Now, I agree that for some breeds, this is not necessary. But I know that I don’t brush/clean ears/look at teeth as often as I should. Plus your pet enjoys it! Brushing your pet serves many purposes. It removes excess fur from the coat, reducing the amount you find on your clothes and furniture. It helps distribute oils from the skin to the fur, keeping the coat shiny and healthy. Lastly, daily grooming is a bonding activity that demonstrates to your pet how much you love them by taking care of them in a very soothing manner.

#4 – Practice Good Oral Hygiene Habits. This is a good one, something pet owners rarely do, or know to do! Daily toothbrushing is the best way to keep tartar and plaque at bay — just be sure to use a toothpaste meant for dogs and cats. Water additives, dental diets, and treats designed to reduce tartar can also be a helpful tool in keeping teeth clean. And even with all of these tricks, regular cleanings by a licensed veterinarian are the best way to keep those pearly whites in tip top shape long into your pet’s senior years.

#3 – Teach an Old Dog a New Trick. Studies show that mental stimulation can help reduce cognitive deterioration in aging animals. In other words, keeping your senior pet’s brain active can actually make it healthier! Teaching your pet new tricks and practicing those they already know are a great way to keep those neurons firing. Puzzle feeders, which force a pet to think through a task in order to be rewarded with a treat, are also an excellent way to keep a pet’s mind engaged.

#2 – Update Pet ID info. Over the course of a year, a lot can change — people move, get new phone numbers, and forget to update their pet’s tags. Often they only remember once the pet is lost. Update their tags and microchip information!

#1 – Consider Fostering. You think you want a new pet, but you’re not 100 percent sure it’s right for you? Try fostering. Many animal shelters and rescues need loving homes to provide safe and temporary living arrangements for pets. It’s the perfect way to test the waters of pet ownership without the lifelong commitment, since you are simply hosting a pet while they wait for their forever home. Who knows? That home just might end up being yours.


Advantages and Benefits of Online Pet Boarding Reservations

Ever call a business and the phone rings until you receive their ever-so-lengthy voice mail message?  You’re probably like, c’mon already, just beep so I can leave my long-winded request of a message!  No matter what side of the phone your on, this exchange is one we know all too well.

Service businesses are exactly that; they aim to serve, which typically means answering customer calls when they ring and responding to customer requests at a moment’s notice. However, this is only true for most service businesses. When we opened our pet care facility, we were granted a reprieve from answering the phone or returning calls immediately, since we are busy caring for “furry family members”.  Be that as it may, it has been long understood in this industry and accepted as the norm.

That is until now…This is where we came in and disrupted the “norm”!

Since a pet boarding kennel is my family’s business, I set out to change this “leave-a-message-and-we’ll-get-back-to-you” mentality and wanted to deliver superior customer service just like in any other service industry.

Our businesses (yours and mine) are unique in the sense that we serve two customers from the same family – one being of the four-legged variety and the other being of the two-legged variety.  In short, every pet that we care for has a pet parent, and if we don’t properly tend to the pet parent, we will not have the opportunity to care for their pet!  And, if there aren’t enough pets to care for, we have no business at all!  So, our business success really begins with connecting with and serving the two-legged customer to the best of our ability and then we are able to show off our real talent and provide superior care for their pet.  It was in this most basic sense of serving my human customers first, that PetBookings hatched!

Another problem I had was there were too many questions I could not answer for my own business…

  • How many missed calls did I have a week?
  • How many left a message – How many didn’t leave a message? Why didn’t they – what did they want?
  • Did we return every call and successfully get a hold of someone or did we have to leave a voice mail message for them?
  • Are we properly tracking this phone-tag or did we just volley it back into their court and assume they call back?
  • How many reservations did I miss because we didn’t call back in time?
  • Do my customers like leaving messages and waiting for me to respond?

I had no definitive answers to any of these questions and I knew I was leaking revenue because of it – I just had no idea how much.  This is also why nothing had been done about this ever-prevalent problem, because there was no glaring price tag on the issue.  If someone would have told me, “Hey, you’re losing tens of thousands of dollars a year due to inefficiencies in your operation”, we would have slammed on the brakes, stopped everything and figured out a solution to the problem, quickly!

In my situation, however, I didn’t know we were bleeding revenue.  We were busy all of the time and operating with a waiting list much of the year, so I assumed we were doing the best we could. I was wrong. I had the desire to provide the best booking convenience and the same level of service my customers experienced when booking other travel online.  So, I created e-commerce for my existing website by implementing an automated online storefront that provides a self-serve booking engine for my clients allowing them to “buy my services” anytime day or night with the most simplest of ease.  And I didn’t just build it for myself, but for every single pet care facility in the nation!

My client’s had been booking other travel reservations online for years, so they took to booking their pet’s reservation online quite naturally.  Not only did my clients repeatedly praise and thank me for giving them this new ability and convenience, but in turn, I found myself thanking them!  I was saving time, increasing revenue and providing better service because of it. I have thousands of customers, but I can only talk to one person at a time on the phone.  Now that my website is enabled to book reservations, I am able to serve as many people as I need to simultaneously – at any hour of the day or night!

So, now, my staff and I can pay better attention to the pets under our roof and the customers walking through our doors, since we’re not scrambling to answer the phone.  I know missed calls aren’t missed opportunities, because the first sentence a caller hears when our voice mail answers is, Thanks for calling Arbor Lane Kennel, you can now book your reservations online with instant confirmation by visiting our website www.arborlanekennel.com.  No more juggling phones lines in the middle of checking people in/out, no more 20 voice mails to call back in the morning that were left the night before, and no more frustration.

It was through this desire to provide convenience and better service to my customers that I fortuitously released this suppressed revenue in my business.  What helps my customers, helps business!

Dangerous Decor- Pet Safety for the Holidays

Have a holly jolly Christma—-the tree just fell over, with your cat in it- sending sharp broken ornaments everywhere!

The tree, lights, ornaments, cookie tray, ribbon, and of course the poinsettia! The holidays bring a lot of warmth and laughter into the home as well as decorations and food. While holiday decorations don’t put any pet in immediate danger there are definitely things to consider when decorating, especially if you have a younger pet.

Helping to trim the tree!

The ASPCA put together a tip list for pets and the holidays.

O Christmas Tree Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

Tinsel-less Town
Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

No Feasting for the Furries
By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Toy Joy
Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.

  • Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.
  • Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer—and tons of play sessions together.

Forget the Mistletoe & Holly
Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Leave the Leftovers 
Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.

That Holiday Glow
Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!

Wired Up 
Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth.

House Rules
If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.

Put the Meds Away 
Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

Careful with Cocktails
If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A Room of Their Own 
Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

New Year’s Noise
As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.

Has your pet ever gotten into the holiday spirit by wrecking some decor? Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Considering Offering Online Reservations?

Kathy Hosler with Pet Boarding & Daycare Magazine sat down with three representatives from online pet reservation companies. One of those three was our own Chris Tilson! Kathy lists some of the benefits for both business owner and pet owner:

  • It’s convenient. With the technology explosion, many people simply prefer to do it themselves. They like to compare the different kennels and their services and decide for themselves what they want. Then they can book anytime 24/7, pay their deposit, and get immediate confirmation of their reservation.
  • They don’t have to leave voice mail messages or send email inquiries and wait for the kennel owner to return them.
  • Booking online is very straightforward. The client can see what the different kennel’s policies are, see their pricing, look at their options and add-on services, and see if they have vacancies.
  • If they have a need for a last-minute booking for their pet, they can just go online to look for vacancies instead of calling every kennel in the phone book. Using an online booking service benefits the kennel owner as well:
  • You don’t have to have a website. You do need a computer or other device, and you must have Internet access so that you can manage your facility’s information on the booking site.
  • You can make instant changes on your site, such as adjusting your prices, running a promotion, or requiring a minimum stay.
  • You don’t have to have a merchant account to process credit cards for client deposits when they make their reservations. The online booking service takes care of that and direct deposits the funds into your bank account.
  • The service is available 24/7, so you don’t miss any opportunity.
  • You will have fewer phone messages to return and fewer email inquiries when pet owners can see all your information and pricing online.
  • There is less “selling” on your part. Pet owners see what you have to offer, and things like extra services sell themselves. This helps you maximize your revenue with each reservation.
  • You have increased revenue instead of empty rooms.
  • You only pay when you get bookings. “It’s like a partnership when a kennel signs up with us,” says Chris Tilson. “It is our mission to help each business get the most exposure. We take the consumer from the initial click on the site to the confirmation of the completed reservation.”

You can find the full article here: http://www.barkleigh.com/pbd/current_issue/article11.html

If you have any questions at all, we’re happy to help! Reach out anytime!