Interview on Tips for Finding a Pet Sitter

Craig Price, host of the podcast, ‘Reality Check with Craig Price’ and author of the book, ‘Half a Glass’, recently interviewed Nicole Bruder, owner of Lucy Goo Pet Sitting.  Below is an excerpt from the interview.

Craig: Nicole, I’ve known you for 20 years, but not everybody has a friend who can come in and watch their pets when they are away.  If you’re not familiar with pet sitters, where is a good place to look?

Nicole: A good place to start would be your vet.  A lot of clinics have business relations with pet sitters. You can also look in your local pet magazines, like Pet Talk, or go to an online finder such as Pet sitting associations are great, too, such as NAPPS, PUPS, and Pet Sitters International.

Craig:  What questions are good to ask a pet sitter before you hire them?

Nicole: Are they insured and bonded (don’t be afraid to ask for proof), how many people are on staff, and how do they train? (Running background checks should be mandatory.) What’s the procedure if the designated sitter has an emergency, and cannot make a visit?  Who is the back-up sitter? How do the sitters handle emergencies, and are they able to take your pet to the vet safely? (Every pet sitter’s vehicle should have a dog seat belt harness and a crate that buckles into the back seat.)

Craig: So, if your pet sitter has a mini cooper and your have a St. Bernard you probably want to find someone else.

Nicole:  Haha, right?!  But that is important!

Craig:  I know you have paperwork, and pet notes, tell us about that.

Nicole: A professional pet sitter will provide you with a client contract, pet info form, emergency and vet info forms, and location of items page.  There should also be a system of communication, such as the little notes we leave at each visit. I have some clients who are on the Lucy Goo Face Book group and Twitter, so they get to see those posts. We can also send pictures of their pets via text or email.

Craig: Do you put a newspaper in there for proof of life, so that they know that this picture was taken on Thursday at 9 o’clock in the afternoon?

Nicole: Ha! No, we haven’t had to do that. Our clients trust us! The pictures are just because they miss them. It’s fun to get a picture or video of your pet when you’re away!

Craig: So, what is your perfect client?

Nicole: We love it when clients book us ahead of time, and fill out our forms with care and attention to detail. We like it when our clients remember to let us know when they’ve left and especially, once they’ve come back. We want to be sure everyone gets home safe to their pets!

Craig: As we are moving into the holiday season, is there anything different people should do before leaving their pets?

Nicole: It’s always helpful to pet proof the house before you leave. Glass ornaments on low branches, tinsel, candies and baked goods, are temptations! Take time to put things up and out of the way. Be sure all candles are blown out, or unplugged!

Craig: So, I know that you work in the Houston area, and this is a nationwide podcast, but if people want to talk to you and ask questions about pet sitting, where can people find you?

Nicole: You can find me at:

Craig: Well, I know that we are going to be using you very shortly as we head to the Caribbean over the New Year. So, Nicole, always a pleasure to see you!

Nicole:  Thanks, Craig!


PetsitUSA Blog

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Redirect to an Alternate Behavior

This is brilliant. It’s also related to dog training.

This Dad has hit on a great technique for ending a frustrating situation quickly: redirecting from an unwanted behavior to another.

Redirection is another technique in the Applied Behavior Analysis toolbox. I’ve spoken about differential reinforcement before. This is also a form of differential reinforcement: DRO or Differential Reinforcement of an Other behavior. (Although we could call what Dad is doing in the video DRI too, since you can’t cry and “moo” like a cow at the same time.) As the video clearly shows, redirection/DRO can be a very effective technique.

(By the way, controlling antecedents might be another option: if playing with a certain toy often leads to a tantrum than that toy might disappear during a nap. But I digress…)

You’ve likely heard or read something similar with dogs. Redirect a puppy that is chewing on hands or furniture to a toy. Redirect a dog displaying fearful or aggressive behavior to an alternative, such as targeting or eye contact. It can work in the short term, which can be a blessing to a dog owner and it can help in the long term since the first step is alleviating an unwanted situation is preventing or curtailing it, and it can even work in the long term if the undesired behavior is not reinforced as well as the one being redirected to.

One possible pitfall here is unintentionally creating a behavior chain: the little girl might figure out that throwing a tantrum gets her Dad’s attention, similar to a puppy that figures out that chewing on a chair leg makes a bone appear. Preventing this isn’t difficult. Make sure that there is an easier way to get what they want, in the case of the little girl it might be as simple as asking for attention and for the puppy it could just be a polite “sit.”

Have you used redirection with your dog?

Redirect to an Alternate Behavior is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey

Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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Dog chasing a ball on the beach

A few nice Dog images I found:

Dog chasing a ball on the beach

Image by Images of Sri Lanka – Sequential Shots
Dog chasing a ball

Dog Hot Air Balloon

Image by Hialean
A dog hot air balloon floats on by.

The Sunrise Community Hot Air Balloon Race is an event held to benefit people with developmental disabilities. It was held at Kendall/Tamiami Executive Airport in the western part of Miami-Dade county.

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Pet Sitters in these Cities get 50% Discount

If you’re interested in joining PetsitUSA, then there is the chance to get a 50% rebate after joining!  You will receive the discount if you provide pet sitting services to the following cities:




You will be sent the rebate soon after you join!

PetsitUSA Blog

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flea 2

A few nice Flea images I found:

flea 2

Image by Rigmarole
95% of my Flea photos have everything in focus except for his head (which normally bobs faster than any current technology pro lens can capture… he is a challenge to the industry)

Flea market

Image by isaacgriberg
Loads of silver rings for sale at a flea market in Versoix, Switzerland.

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We met Gus, the Landseer in the last posting. Today, meet his friend, Ice, who is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog.  He’s 5 years old and lives in Gorbio village. 


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What Does Appropriate Dog Play Look Like?

Watching a variety of different dogs play is one of the biggest benefits of my part-time job. Dogs really know how to party, and the joy they get from play can be contagious:

Mini-breaks and Time-outs

In this video you several breaks in the action, even in just under a minute of elapsed time. This is a good thing. I highlighted the big one in the video, and there was another right after I stop filming (naturally) where Caffeine was gagging (it happens during allergy season and no, it’s not the collar) and Buddha politely stopped and waited for her to reach up and mouth him to resume play. I really wish I hadn’t stopped filming!

This kind of cooperation is what we want to see. It doesn’t always look exactly like this of course, because all dogs are different and play differently. It’s possible to draw broad generalizations about breeds – retrievers tend to like to mouth wrestle and end up with their heads literally soaked, bully breeds tend to slam dance, some herding breeds like to play tag — however the "tagging" better be gentle — but as I’ve said before, these are broad generalizations and are not always true. Know your dog, and know your dog’s friends.

Symmetry and Handicapping

Patricia McConnell talks about self-handicapping frequently on her blog and in her talks. It’s an important part of play. In the video I highlight a point where Buddha offers to let Caffeine pounce on him for a bit. She rarely takes him up on this offer. She likes to play on the floor and even did that when we had a much larger dog that played much more roughly with her.

In the puppy playgroups at Kellar’s Canine Academy we have a "regular" named Lucy, a 8 month old or so Pit Bull mix, who is an absolute master at self-handicapping. She can switch from letting a tiny puppy half her size jump on her and nibble her face to slam-dancing with her best friend, a 70 pound Rottweiler puppy, in seconds.

Some dogs can adjust play styles. I’m fortunate that Buddha and Caffeine (with the few dogs she will play with) can and will do this. It’s not necessarily common and don’t expect your dog or the dogs you come across to do so. Some dogs take offense, even in the middle of a play session, to a bitten ear or a jumped-upon face. The question is, how do they react? A warning and/or disengaging from play is just fine. Retaliation is usually not.

In a safe environment dogs always have the option to end play by stopping and, if nexessary, leaving the area. This means (at least) two things must be true: the area is big enough for a dog to be able to leave the area of play and the participants are in control to take the hint when a dog wants a break.

So What’s Actually Acceptable?

This is an excellent video, worth watching a few times, about play and body language:

One of the more interesting parts of my apprenticeship was watching how different trainers handled playgroups in both puppy classes and with adult dogs. Some were very hands on and quick to enforce a break in the action. Other tending to go with the flow and tried to engineer things more by strategically picking playgroups.

I came away a bit of a laissez faire attitude, and the fact that I have had to deal with small groups and then ideal facilities (until very recently) have forced me to improvise. I want to see regular breaks in the action. I don’t like to see too many high-speed chases, dogs up on their hind legs, and dogs that seem overwhelmed or afraid need to be helped by pairing them up with appropriate playmates. But attempts to support one dog or another or to enforce specific rules of play are not my thing.

What has your experience with playgroups been?

What Does Appropriate Dog Play Look Like? is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey

Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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A Walk in the Wind

There has seriously been no good time to walk the dogs in the past 2 weeks.  It’s either been too cold, too snowy, too unsafe to drive or too windy.  We went out to Park Lake today for the first time in ages – the highway was good, the parking area was good and the trail wasn’t bad but snowshoes wouldn’t have been out of the question.

Coulee didn’t seem to be feeling all that great earlier this week but today she seemed to be feeling great.  I didn’t have the heart to try and reign in her enthusiasm – she was just too happy.

Her goofy face even made an appearance.  :)

Lacey also had a blast.  I’m not sure what she is digging for here, but it was something exciting apparently.

The snow was pretty deep in sections and then almost gone in other areas due to the wind.  The dogs didn’t seem to mind but we weren’t all that comfortable slogging through the soft deep stuff.

I changed lenses part way through the walk and had to take my mitten off to do it.  I caught Lacey trying to make a run for it with it.  LOL

Coulee bashfully brought it back to me.  (Not her most flattering picture but she has her “Bessy ears” on which is so hard to catch with the camera as they only come out when she is feeling playfully guilty.)

And Lacey just tried to steal it back.

Overall we all had a pretty good time.  The dogs have been sleeping soundly ever since and we finally got in a long enough walk to have peace in the house.

Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey

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Book Review ~ Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall


Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Publish Date: October 9, 2012

Read more »


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