Give the Gift of Mental Exercise!

The only part of this job that isn’t awesome is the part that involves kicking a dog out of daycare. Although not often, it does happen, and it sucks. While some dogs just aren’t a fit from the get-go, the really heartbreaking situations are the ones where a dog starts out as a rock star and over time turns into a turd…for no apparent reason. The dog daycare forums of the world talk about how some dogs, over time, just decide they don’t like daycare anymore, or they grow out of it, or reach an age where they don’t need or desire the higher level of activity they once did. I guess it makes sense, but a few months ago I started doing some research, and I think in a lot of cases it’s more preventable than what I’ve been taught to believe.

My theory is this: in some cases, we as pet parents are relying on doggie daycare to be the only source of stimulation our dog receives.

As a doggie daycare business owner, I’m supposed to tell you that daycare will solve all of your pet parenting problems and make it a lot more fun to have a dog. Most of the time, it really is true. But sometimes, when we get busy and life takes over, it’s easier to send the dog to daycare than it is to play fetch with them in the backyard or take them on a sensory walk in the woods, or work on basic obedience at home just for fun. Here’s what’s wrong with that - dogs need more. Daycare provides a great amount of physical and mental stimulation, but it’s not the “brain workout” your dog needs to be happy and at his best. When a dog gets little to no mental stimulation at home, he can become reactive in a playgroup setting, or begin to target other dogs because he so desperately needs a job to do (think about an Aussie who starts trying to constantly herd the other dogs in playgroup because he doesn’t have any “work” to do at home to expend that mental energy).

I totally sympathize with the pet parent who doesn’t have time or energy at the end of the day to devote to mental stimulation for their dog, and to be honest this didn’t really hit me until I started to notice it with my own dogs.

When the weather is nice, a lot of days they stay home in the backyard where they can work their beagle noses all day among the various smells lingering in the blades of grass. It’s truly their favorite thing to do and exhausts them even if they are only physically moving at a snail’s pace! Mental exercise has that effect on our dogs! As it’s gotten colder, though, they don’t get to stay home as much so I find myself tossing them in the car everyday and lugging them to HH…sounds like the dream, right? For a lot of dogs, yes! But for my scent driven hounds who need to work their brains and noses, sniffing out the other dogs in playgroup 5 days a week has become boring for them. They started acting out at home (particularly the two younger beagles, Brown and Yellow)…stealing the baby’s toys that they know they aren’t supposed to have, chewing on our deck steps outside, getting into kitchen cabinets and pulling out bags of chips, jumping on their human sister (which they know not to do), trying to run away from me when we get out of the car in the front yard...all kinds of deviant behavior! While beagles are known for mischief, this was new territory, even for them!

When I started doing research for my own benefit, I couldn’t help but notice parallels in these dogs who start acting out at daycare for no (apparent) reason, and my own dogs’ newfound defiance.

 Very good double sits!!

Very good double sits!!

I decided to experiment with trying to teach Brown and Yellow some basic obedience, in the hopes that the mental activity might fill the void from the missing backyard sniffing time, as well as hopefully teach them a few good habits. I started with separating them (trying to work with two hooligans at once is impossible) and devoting TEN MINUTES to the most basic of commands…sit, stay, paw, down…for the first couple of days it was a miracle to accomplish a sit. But it got better and better, and last night for the first time I was able to work on commands with both of them at the same time! There is still a lot of room for improvement (Brown can’t stay to save her life and Yellow would rather fall over on her side than lay down) but here’s the miraculous part - the other deviant behavior is gone!!! We typically do our brain games around 9pm after human sister has gone to bed, and they can be bouncing off the wall up until that point but just TEN MINUTES of working those brains and they are ready to pass out. I was shocked! Even though it has taken them a long time to master the skills, the fact that I’m asking them to turn their brain wheels for a few minutes is fascinating to watch and you can tell that they look so forward to that time (and the treats of course). As a bonus, I find that my bond with both of them has become stronger through this dedicated activity time. They listen to me better, they are better about coming when called, and oddly enough they are more affectionate too. They’re still getting a good amount of physical activity from their time at daycare, but it is very clear to me now that they need more, and that it doesn’t have to be a time suck to make them happy, better behaved dogs.

I say all of that to say…your dog needs BOTH mental and physical stimulation to do well at home, at daycare, in public, and beyond. If you’re a pet parent whose dog has started acting out at daycare (or the dog park, on walks, etc), consider adding just a few minutes of bonding/brain time with your dog a few nights a week and see what happens. There are mountains of studies out there that prove that a combination of physical and mental exercise lead to lower aggression, less separation anxiety, lower stress, and slower deterioration of cognitive function as our pets age.

How do you provide mental stimulation for your dog outside of what they get at daycare? Share in the comments - I’m now definitely going to look for more ways to challenge my dogs’ minds and keep these good habits going! I’d love to know your thoughts and questions - email me at lacey@houndshideaway.com!

xo-Lacey

Dogs + Babies: You Don't Have to Choose

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This is a topic that is near and dear to me, for several reasons. As a dog rescuer, nothing breaks the heart more than getting a phone call from new parents who want to rehome their first baby, the dog, because he and the baby just aren’t getting along. I’ve gotten so many of those calls that when I found out Chad and I were going to have a human baby I was honestly really terrified of what lie in store for us. After all, if so many people wanted rid of the dog after baby, there had to be a good (common) reason, right? As excited as I was about the baby, I remember feeling a lot of dread at the idea of having her and the dogs all together. The foursome are really good dogs but again, after seeing so many people ditch the doggie I really thought something terrible was on the horizon. Thankfully, it’s been beyond amazing having them together! I’ll admit that there were a few times (at the peak of sleep deprivation and after picking up the 20th diaper they’d chewed up) that I thought, “okay, maybe 4 dogs was a little much,” but those days faded as fast as they came and I could not be more thrilled that Scarlet gets to grow up with clothes like mine that are covered in dog hair.

  Backyard shenanigans with her SisterBeagles!

Backyard shenanigans with her SisterBeagles!

If you’re assuming that my house is harmonious because I have Jedi mind control over my dogs, you’re super wrong. My dogs own me. They LIVE for shenanigans. They are not obedient. They bay at each other from across the room just for fun. It’s their world, I just live in it. So I promise you, if I can raise a kid with these furry-monsters in tow, so can you! We followed just a few basic rules and ideas to (mostly) keep the peace. Here are my tips for Hound and Human Harmony!

  1. Buy this playpen thing (or register for it!). (click here to see it on Amazon) Seriously, this is the best thing we did. We knew pretty quickly that our dogs were going to always want to lick the baby in the face, steal her toys, or smack her with their tails, and the baby doesn’t need freedom of the house anyway, so everybody wins when Scarlet plays in a safe space. There’s plenty of room for a baby seat or a rock n play, and once she got a little bigger and mobile, we removed the seat and now she plays with her toys in it. It is important to know that with this product, no one is set up to fail. Scarlet can’t bump into the coffee table and hurt her head, and the dogs don’t get in trouble for knocking her over. They can still see each other and talk to each other (which they do often) without overtaking each other’s space.

  2. Prepare for baby’s arrival ahead of time. Start using baby gates to section off areas the dogs might not be allowed. Find a friend with a dog-friendly baby or toddler that would be comfortable introducing your dog to their child. Socialize your dog! Go to parks, dog-friendly events, dog daycare, anywhere that your dog can be around a lot of activity. This will help desensitize him to the noise and disruption of routine that comes with a new baby. Do not wait until baby arrives to do these things! You do not want your dog to associate these massive changes with the baby himself. By keeping the changes disconnected, it won’t occur to your dog to blame baby for his world being turned upside down.

  3. Give your dog an escape. Plan ahead to give your dog a retreat space - it is very important that he has a place to escape all this change when he feels overwhelmed (and he will). For dogs who are already crate-trained, it is likely that their crate will become their safe place, and the dog should be allowed to retreat there anytime he feels overwhelmed by his surroundings. On that note, never let baby access the dog’s safe space. Babies can be taught boundaries very early on, and they shouldn’t be allowed to crowd the crate (which usually means they’re going to open and close the crate door 85 times) or crawl into it. If your dog is not one who uses a crate, make sure he has a bed or access to an area that is only HIS, and teach baby that it’s a no-fly zone. Give your dog this one tiny space all his own, and he will thank you for it!

  4. Bringing home baby: before coming home from the hospital, see if a family member can take your dog on a long walk, or arrange for him to spend the day at daycare so that he isn’t full of energy when meeting baby for the first time. Bring BABY into the home while the dog is there - don’t have the dog come home to “his” house with the baby already there. The old advice about bringing home a blanket from the hospital for your dog to sniff is good advice! Just don’t force it - put it in your dog’s favorite place but don’t take over the space (example: instead of covering the dog bed with the blanket, roll it up and put it in the corner). By putting the baby’s scents in a place where your dog already feels safe and comfortable, you are teaching him to associate baby with those good feelings. Let your dog sniff baby’s feet and give him lots of “good boy!!” - your dog NEEDS your encouragement and affection during this critical meeting.

  5. Give dog and baby attention TOGETHER. This has to be the most common mistake we make. We feel the need to give the dog our undivided attention, which, let’s face it, can only really be done during baby’s naps. Seems logical. However, what we’re doing when we separate our attention is telling the dog that the ONLY way he gets to have fun is if/when baby is out of the picture. By passing out attention to both baby AND doggie together, you’re changing his mind to learn that the fun only happens when baby IS around! Try taking baby on a stroller walk and letting the dog join in! Or strap baby into one of those front-backpack-kangaroo contraptions and play a round of fetch with your dog. Do this and in just a few short months, when baby becomes mobile, you’ll be thrilled at how excited both are to be around each other!

  6. MOST IMPORTANTLY…learn about dog body language. Hit up the almighty YouTube and Google and search for information about the basics of dog body language. It is so important that we know when our dogs are feeling overwhelmed by the baby so that we can intervene and be their advocate, and just as important that we know when our dogs are happy and having a great time being around baby. This is THE key to a household of hound and human harmony!! Did you know that tail wags don’t always mean a dog is happy? Did you know that a yawn can sometimes be a sign of stress? That lip-licking is sometimes a warning sign that a bite is about to come? Check back for my next post about how to read your dog’s warning signals and help him understand that you’ve got his back!

  The beagles meeting Scarlet for the first time!

The beagles meeting Scarlet for the first time!

I promise it can be done, and I promise it’s worth it! Even at just a year old, the first thing Scarlet does every morning is find a dog to kiss, and she most definitely learned to say “Jetta” (one of our beagles) before she even remotely thought about saying “mama.” All that said, if you’re struggling with or worried about dog and baby together, reach out! Our Pet Parent community is full of human puppy parents who are ready to share advice that worked for them, and I can always be reached at lacey@houndshideaway.com!

xo-Lacey




The low-down on Heartworms - all the way from Mosquito Central!

This week Hailey Knight, our Jonesboro Operations Manager, takes over the blog to tell you all about heartworm disease! Heartworms are especially prevalent in Northeast Arkansas, where mosquitoes rule the outdoors. Enjoy!


You’re standing outside watching your human puppy’s little league game. It’s a beautiful breezy evening with fellow parents when all of a sudden you feel that tiny little zap followed by that familiar zinging itch—mosquitos. You can run, but you definitely cannot hide.

  Link, a heartworm survivor rescued from Jonesboro in 2015 after his former owner moved away and left him chained in the backyard.    Photo by Leeanna Tankersley

Link, a heartworm survivor rescued from Jonesboro in 2015 after his former owner moved away and left him chained in the backyard.

Photo by Leeanna Tankersley

I love summer time, but I do not enjoy Arkansas summers because of mosquitos. They’re in your house, your car, they even follow you inside Walmart from the parking lot. Even with enough Off! spray to guarantee your patio stays safe for an hour or so, your only hope is staying indoors after sunset. But, what about your outdoor furry friends? Where does their safe haven lie?

Did you know that mosquitos are the primary reason for heartworms in dogs? For being such tiny little pests, they sure can pack a punch in the disease department. Heart worms are easy to protect against, but they are awful once they’re in your dogs system (traveled by one mosquito bite!) and bedding down for the long run. Heartworms can reach 12” in length and can live for 5-7 years. Typical symptoms (after months of the worms growing) are coughing, lethargy, reluctance to exercise, loss of appetite, and appearance of swollen bellies due to fluid retention. A vet will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis with a blood test should you suspect heartworms. Also—keep in mind that heart worms are completely different from intestinal worms (hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm). Dewormer protects against intestinal worms, NOT heartworms. While intestinal worms can cause the swollen belly and coughing/hacking, they can be detected easily with a fecal done at your vet's office.  The bad news is if heart worm disease is not caught in time, it can be fatal to animals. The good news is that it is very easy to prevent against and multiple products exist on the market to protect your pet against these pesky little boogers! Here are a couple of tips below:

Prevention - consult with your vet on the best heart health maintenance program. Year round protection is encouraged since it takes heart worms about six months to develop in the dogs systems. Six month injectables OR monthly chewable pills can be prescribed by any vet for a year round prevention plan for your fluffer, giving you optimal protection and ultimate peace of mind. 

 Thomas, a beagle currently in treatment for a very severe case of heartworms after being rescued from Blytheville. He is being fostered by our Assistant Manager in Conway, Hailey Manion. 

Thomas, a beagle currently in treatment for a very severe case of heartworms after being rescued from Blytheville. He is being fostered by our Assistant Manager in Conway, Hailey Manion. 

Fight back - lessen the chances of mosquitos invading your yard and, inevitably, your pet with horrible diseases. If you can keep your fur kid indoors, that’s great! But if your dog simply loves the great outdoors too much, there are tons of things alongside prevention that will keep those dreaded flying insects at bay:

• Remove stagnant water gathering grounds (old forgotten flower pots, kiddie pools, etc.). 

• Make sure you’re emptying water bowls everyday—mosquitos LOVE still water! 

• We are rice field heaven. Avoid walking your dog in any marshy areas because that’s basically the mothership for mosquito clans!

• Most flea and tick preventatives are also repellants for bugs, but make sure you’re getting one that protects against mosquitos. Some sprays are harmful to pets, so be sure to do your research or ask your vet for a recommendation.

• Another tactic, albeit a tad more pricey, is a mosquito control service. We use Mosquito Joe at Hounds’ Hideaway for the entire property and love it! They visit us twice a month, are incredibly friendly guys and they don’t miss an inch of square footage ANYWHERE. We’ve noticed a significant drop in our bug population, and don’t have to fight them outside as much—HOORAY! Also consider an apparatus like a Dynatrap, available in different sizes based on your outdoor square footage and known to wipe out the skeeters by the hundreds.

Should your dog test positive for heartworms, you don't need to panic automatically. Treatment is available for most cases. Although treatment is usually successful, it is very expensive and takes several months to complete. Prevention is much cheaper and easier!

Yes, mosquitos are not our friends. But thankfully, we’ve got options to protect our lovable creatures and ourselves to have a happy summer! As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. May you have a fantastic mosquito free weekend! --HAILEY

Why Beagles are Actual Royalty (and why you should adopt one)

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Nineteen. That's the number of times I've been tagged on facebook about Guy, Meghan Markle's adorable beagle, and his ride with the Queen. It's beyond precious don't get me wrong, but there's a whole community of us out there who have been treating these little rascals like royalty for years! Finally, in the Age of the Golden Doodle, the Beagle gets a share of the spotlight! 

One of the things I've learned after years of rescue work is that when something happens to put a particular breed into the pop culture limelight, people start to give them new consideration as potential family members. Case in point - I could blog about beagle greatness every day but this will be the first time most people will actually read it! Seriously though, there really are a lot of legit reasons to love this breed, and sadly, purebred beagles are available for adoption by the dozens all over our state, most of which were simply no longer of value to the hunter who owned them. Read on and you might just find your best friend!

1. Their Neediness is Less Needy. The only room these dogs will follow you into is the kitchen! A beagle doesn't always have to be in your shadow to be happy. They love you, sure, and want to hang out anytime you're up for it, but they'll also allow you to go to the bathroom without an audience, and if they're snoozing on the couch when you get up to go to bed, they may not join you until 2am.

2. They're clean(ish). Call me crazy but I've never met a beagle that just smelled bad. You know the type - the dogs who just always seem stinky no matter how often they're bathed. They shed a little, but you'll still save big on those grooming bills. A good de-shedding treatment once a quarter will go a long way. They also don't drool excessively all over your furniture, and you never have to worry about them leaving ANY crumbs after they've had their snacks!

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3. They're basically stand-up comedians. Beagles get a rep for being naughty little boogers, and while it is mostly true, for the most part you won't care because they're SO funny. Even waking up in the morning with a beagle is new hilarity - their morning stretches are usually accompanied by a new grunt/bay every day! And try passing a remote control car through your house - while other breeds are hiding in the corner, the Beagle insists on sounding his howl alarm to tell that toy what's up. When they get excited or catch a new scent, their tails wag so fast their butts almost come off the ground. And, you can't help but laugh when they try their hardest to REALLY make you think they NEED the last bite of your sandwich! 

4. They're portable! The Beagle is small but mighty! Most of them weigh in around 25 pounds full grown, with short, stocky little legs that keep their height below your kneecap. Do you know how many adopters say, "well I want something that won't get very big"...the answer is: almost all of them. Here's your chance! PLUS (bonus): they're still tuff. Did you ever have a friend whose Pomeranian jumped out of her arms and broke its leg? And then did it a second time and broke a different leg? I DID. Not so with a Beag. Their hardiness and resilience helps them stand up to tagging along in your human life, and if I'm being honest their size is really perfect for sharing a recliner (doing so as I type this blog). 

5. They're foodies. I remember when I first told people I had beagles and their reaction was to ask me how often they got in my trash. Ok YES, if you get a beagle you also need to get a trash can with a lid, but shouldn't you really have that anyway? And NO you can't leave food out on your kitchen counter but again, shouldn't you really keep your counters clean(ish) anyway? The Beagle is just there to help keep you tidy on your toes! Really though the nose motivation does have its charm. Need your Beag to take medicine? Put a pill in literally any food and down it goes. Need your Beag to hurry and finish breakfast so you can get out the door and beat traffic? DONE (every time). Another BONUS for you: this love for food makes them surprisingly easy to train. All stubbornness goes out the window when there are SNACKS. 

6. They're generally NICE. I mean this - I own a doggie daycare and see my fair share of hooligans, haters, bulldozers, howlers, jumpers, screamers, fighters, recluses, terrorists, and chickens....but a lot of times the Beagle is the even-keeled kid just chilling on the patio saying hi but not driving anyone nuts. Their spirits are happy - if there is food and a place to chill, they're pretty much as content as it gets. Sure they might howl if another dog thinks about taking their snack but heck I feel the same way about my food too! They'll usually make the perfect shotgun rider and most of them are even nice in public! BONUS (yes again): they usually like kids and will help clean up food thrown across the room by the resident toddler!

As you can probably tell, I'm a little biased and a lot nutty about the Beags. I love that they come in a whole rainbow of colors and I love that every one has so much personality (and voice) packed into a tiny little body. I love that when we rescue one, they rarely riddle us with the demons of their pasts, and (usually) choose instead to trust and love us as if we'd had them all along. They're my best friends, and if you haven't been Beagled yet, now is the perfect time to make one part of your own royal family! 

xoxo - Lacey

PARASITES...the Party Poopers of Spring

Greetings...This is my annual post about PARASITES...if you're having trouble sleeping I promise this information will send you off to dreamland, but we will love you forever if you take the time to read it!

Every year around Spring Break time, more than just the bears and birds come out of hibernation. Underneath all the pretty daffodils and green grass, demon parasites are thawing out and they're headed for our pets. They have many names and cause many little ailments - everything from itching to diarrhea and dehydration. The good news, though, is that if you take precautions NOW, none of this stuff is a big deal.

At HH, when this time of year comes, we amp up our play yard and equipment germicide practices (we actually go beyond what the USDA recommends), and are hyper-vigilant about the signs and symptoms of these buggers. We do all of this to help keep those pathogens out of our facility, but we need your help to keep pets from coming IN to the facility with them as well. Even if ALL of us do our part, these things can still be found in places you'd never expect, so it's good to be aware. Most local vets are in communication with us as they see these things come into their clinic, and have been great about blessing our protocols and answering our questions.

Below are some common pathogens and some things you can do to tell them to hit the road!

1. INTESTINAL WORMS - Tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, and so on. These are NOT the same as heartworms, which affect the heart and are transmitted through mosquitoes. The larvae of a lot of these worms live in soil, so your dog can be infected just from having contact with the GROUND. They can also be transmitted through feces - you take your dog on a walk and he walks through a spot where poop was a week ago, then licks his paws when you get home...bam. Not to worry though, worms are typically easy and inexpensive to treat. Some of them can even be treated with over the counter products. As a general rule, I get a de-wormer from my vet for my own dogs once a year just to be safe.

2. PARASITES - two of the most common are Giardia and Coccidia. Both live in the intestines and cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other stomach issues. Transmission is similar in that a dog can become infected from swallowing anything that might have traces of feces on it. You'll need your vet's help to treat these, but both are fairly easy to take care of.

3. VIRUSES - some that we see more commonly in this area are Erlichia and parvovirus (parvo) in puppies. I'll also throw kennel cough in this one. Parvo does have a vaccination to prevent it, but still worth mentioning as this is a common time of year for it to be seen (an article was recently published in Northwest Arkansas stating that this year's parvo strain is particularly strong and they've seen a higher number of cases than what is typical). Erlichia is caused from tick bites, and affects the dog's blood. It isn't contagious dog-to-dog, but ticks will be coming out in full force before you know it so it's best to be prepared. Kennel cough is an odd bird - traditionally it was caused by Bordatella Bronchiseptica bacteria (your vet vaccinates for a few strains of this). But in recent years, most cultures from where pets have had KC symptoms have shown that the cause is actually a bacteria called mycoplasma...something we can't vaccinate against. Lovely. Anyway, again these treatments will require vet assistance - typically an antibiotic.

Now, here's what you can do to help keep this junk out of your house (AND mine!) :)

1. Be cautious of the Dog Park. We love the Conway dog park, truly (our name is on the sign!), but you're asking for it if you take your dog out there this time of year. The lack of poop pickup makes it like a parasite paradise. There's also zero oversight - no one is checking to make sure dogs that come out there aren't sick or verifying that they have been vaccinated. We also hear very high numbers of folks taking their dogs out there before the 6-month age requirement posted on the rules (given the tough parvo strain this year that's a CRAZY dangerous thing to do). If you must go, take your own water AND water bowl. And pick up poop immediately as you see it.

2. Keep your backyard picked up. A lot of this stuff may come from poop initially but don't forget, once it spreads, the random toys and pinecones in your yard are probably harboring some of it too. Even if other dogs don't have access to your backyard it doesn't mean a raccoon or possum hasn't been back there to leave parasite presents for you. There are also some good products you can attach to your water hose if you'd like to "treat" your own yard.

3. KNOW if your dog is a Poop Eater. If you are one of the poor souls who parents a poop-eater, I am afraid you are just going to have to deal with these things from time to time. There are supplements to help discourage poop-eating but I honestly don't know that any of them work well enough to justify the cost. For you guys, keeping watch on your dog at all times is probably your best bet. **Please TELL the HH staff if you suspect your dog falls into this category. We bag every poop as fast as possible but it is still helpful for us to know if we need to keep an extra eye out for yours.**

4. Don't interact with other dogs on walks (unless it's someone you know). Remember a dog could pick up worms from something he sniffs in the dirt, then pass it to your dog when they meet nose-to-nose on a walk.

5. Keep your dog on flea and tick prevention. If you take them off of it for winter, start again right now. Many heartworm prevention pills also include a prevention for certain intestinal worms, so you can sometimes kill two birds with one stone there. Flea and tick prevention is required for daycare/boarding. We relax on it a bit during winter but again, we are already in fairly consistent spring temps so this is already back on our radar. (This is one of my favorite topics so if you want more info on these products I am happy happy to share)

6. Don't bring your dog to daycare if they have symptoms. Most can be treated quickly and easily, but it'll be helpful for your pup to get rest and keep from sharing his ailment with others. Call us if you need advice on this and we can tell you how long to stay at home.

OK, if you are still reading, bless your human heart. This info is long and not thrilling to read, but I know you all appreciate that it is our job to keep YOU informed and your dog SAFE. As I said, even if all of us do 100% of everything here, we're still going to see these things pop up, but we CAN reduce the occurrence of them. I am happy to do more education on any of these ailments if you have questions. Most of our local vets have been great friends to HH and are always in communication with us about what they're seeing and always offer help and answers to our questions, so I'm happy to share that info with you all anytime too. THANK YOU! -- Lacey

Hiking with your Hound

  Written by Hailey Manion, Assistant Manager at HH Conway

Written by Hailey Manion, Assistant Manager at HH Conway

Hiking is fun, but hiking with dogs is literally my favorite thing to do in the entire world. I love feeling the wind in my hair, the weight of my hiking boots, and especially seeing the joy in my dogs when we get to our destination. I’ll be the first to admit, my dogs absolutely suck at on-leash hiking. We’ve never trained them on a leash like you’d expect someone that works with a dog trainer everyday would. We tend to gravitate toward less popular hikes so we have the freedom to let them off leash without the fear of meeting someone else on the hike. By no means am I an expert on this matter, but it IS something that works for us and that we do often with our pups!

What to Bring:

This all depends on how far and rigorous the hike is going to be. For the day hikes, the necessities for us are typically: 

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Backpack - Outdoor Products from Walmart - $15 and it has lasted a while!
Hammocks – We both have ENO’s and love them. When we aren’t on a time crunch, we like to set them up by water and let the dogs roam around. They love it!
Collars - Ours have embroidered collars from Hounds Hideaway and reflective collars from Leather Brothers.
Water bottle for us and 2 water bottles for the dogs - We have Hyrdoflasks; they don’t sweat and they keep water cold for up to 72 hours
Treats - We take something high-value like Chicken Crack, in a wearable treat bag from Outward Hound
Leashes - Even off-leash, keep these close by just in case you encounter someone- we use Mendota slip leads
Dog first aid - We carry hydrogen peroxide, gauze, horse wrap, and medical tape- the necessities for any minor human or dog injury
Collapsible bowl - These are amazing and lightweight for limited pack space

Our Favorite Local Hikes for a Howl of a TIme...

This is my shining moment! I live to tell people about local underrated places to hike (I realize that’s a super hipster thing to say but I don’t care)! We always try to hike next to a body of water so that the dogs have a place to cool off and we’re always careful around ledges if we are off-leash hiking.

Woolly Hollow State Park (just outside of Greenbrier): a place everyone has heard of, but few people go to. This is a perfect place for off leash hiking IF it is a slow day. It’s next to a lake, it’s fairly flat, and only a few miles that aren’t too rigorous.

Petit Jean in Oppelo: a must for all Arkansans. Usually pretty crowded but if you take the secret Boy Scout Trail it’s usually good for off leashing (and I personally think it’s prettier than the waterfall trail).

Bells Slough (Mayflower): This is a local gold mine for off leash hiking that no one knows about. We’ve never met more than 3 people on the trail at a time and everyone hikes off leash with their dogs, so no one gets grumpy if your crazy dogs run up on them and excitedly greets their pets. It’s also got a big, muddy pond that they can get in at the beginning and the end of it.

Mount Nebo (outside of Dardanelle): There are several trails on top of Nebo. Some are on the ledge, so we always do on-leash hikes with those. Our favorite trails there are the Rim Trail (perfect for off leash hiking and not traveled frequently), and Waterfall/Gum Springs Trail. The waterfall is hardly ever running, but the stream is beautiful if it has rained recently.

Dardanelle Rock: This one is off the maps but so cool to hike. It’s a short, really intense hike up a boulder. You get to see the river at the top and when you’re done, cross the street and let the dogs swim in the river and run along the “beach”.

Longpool (outside of Dover): About 1/3 of a mile of an actual hike right along the Big Piney River and an awesome waterfall at the end. We always go further and just roam through the National Forest. Even if it’s not on an actual trail, the sights are so pretty.

Hawksbill Crag (Ponca): a 3 mile roundtrip hike. It’s right along a ledge and always busy, so we always do on leash hiking here. It has a breathtaking view at the end. If you go, print your directions before you leave the house because there is ZERO cell reception around this place.

Devils Den (Fayetteville): Worth the drive! There are lots of on leash hikes here. As we were leaving, we stopped and wandered into the National Forest to let our dogs do some off-leash. They had more fun getting to run rampant without people around, but all of it is beautiful!

Mount Magazine: We’ve only been here once, and it was gorgeous. There are multiple trails and not many are populated, so off leash hiking is a must here!

Finally, a few rules for off-leash hiking...

1. Never go to a populated hiking spot. There are some unspoken rules about off-leash hiking when there are other dogs and a lot of people around. Don’t be THAT person. While I absolutely love it, some people don’t like it when random dogs come and jump on them when they’re least expecting it. There is always the chance that someone is bringing their dog-aggressive pet for an on leash hike, and you don’t want to be the one to find out that they are, in fact, aggressive.

2. Always make sure your dog has on proper identification. If they were to see a squirrel and run a little further than you are comfortable with, it’s good to have ID on them JUST IN CASE they can’t find their way back.

3. Be confident in your dog’s listening skills. Our lab Izzy lives to please us. I’ve never thought for a second that she would run off and not come back (because then who would throw the ball for here?!?!). Our hound mix Moose, however, could sniff something and end up in Timbuktu before he realizes we aren’t with him. For Moose, we have trained him on a remote collar. Now before you think “How dare she preach about loving dogs and then use an e-collar on her own dog?!” let me explain. All we have to do is beep him and he comes back. I fully believe it is a great tool WHEN USED CORRECTLY and with love. I choose to do this over a leash because he has so much more fun off-leash and runs off more energy; he just sometimes needs a little help listening. We always keep our foster dogs leashed because we haven’t built up the years of trust that we have in our dogs.

Off leash hiking doesn’t work for everyone, but we love that it works for us. Basically, just do what works for you and your dogs and have so much fun doing it! -- Hailey

PS - email Hailey at haileym@houndshideaway.com for more detail or directions to the hiking spots! 

Lessons in Leashes

FINALLY it's light outside after 5pm!!!! FINALLY we can be outside with our dogs after work!!! It is about dang time, and you know what you need if you're going to be outside with your furry - a good leash! I daresay no one sees more of them on a daily basis than people at a pet resort. Between our two locations we see over 150 dogs (and leashes) per day, so we definitely have a few opinions about them! We've picked out a few of our faves (and one to run away from) to help you make the most of springtime with your pup!

  Slip Lead - modeled by Stella

Slip Lead - modeled by Stella

1. the SLIP LEAD (this is the one you see our staff wearing like an Indiana Jones satchel every day) //  I got my start in all things Dog through rescue, and every rescuer everywhere had one of these things stashed in her car. I learned that this was because many newly rescued dogs are considered "flight risks" (meaning they may decide they want to get as far away from you as possible for no apparent reason and will stop at nothing to do so), and the beauty of the slip lead is that the more a dog pulls away from you, the more it tightens, preventing the accidental slipping out of a collar and escaping. I love that built in safety feature, but what I love more is their ease of use - they're called slip leads because they literally just slip over the dog's head and you're on your way. My dogs are psycho and clipping a leash hook onto a collar ring is an impossible task, so this works really well! We use them in daycare for this reason too - if we need to get control of a dog quickly, this is a safe, gentle way to do so. One thing to note - the leash should be positioned high on the dog's neck toward the ears to avoid coughing choking if he pulls. Our favorites are made by Mendota. They're made with tough leather and rope so they're super durable. I'm still using my original from before HH even opened!

  Harness Lead - modeled by Bear

Harness Lead - modeled by Bear

2. the HARNESS LEAD (this is the newfangled thing everyone is talking about) // Can I just say that it takes a LOT to climb to the top of the Favorites list among the HH humans, and this one has done it. The Chicken Crack lady bought one at a fancy dog boutique in Kansas City and came back raving about it, so we had to order a few to check it out. What's so fantastic about this leash is that it offers the safety of a Slip Lead without the risk of putting pressure on the dog's neck and throat. This is particularly desirable for brachycephalic dogs (smushed face) like pugs, boxers, boston terriers, bulldogs, and the like. Additionally this is your harness and leash in ONE piece so there's not a bunch of buckles and junk to finagle keep up with. If your dog is a puller, this tightens as they pull but it tightens across a broader area including the chest and shoulders. We are getting insanely good feedback on them! 

3. the REGULAR LEASH (this is an oldie but goodie) // One could do a LOT worse than a regular ol' farm store snap leash. They're easy on the budget but still durable and you can find them everywhere and you can get them in all sorts of lengths. The only word of caution here is to make double sure your dog's collar is tight enough where they can't slip out of it. If you're walking down the street together and your dog becomes spooked, you'd be shocked at what they can slip out of. If you can fit three fingers under the collar (and no more) you're good.

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4. the RETRACTABLE LEASH (this is the one we don't love) // The allure of this leash is totally understandable. It promises controlled freedom, allowing your dog to wander up to 30 feet away while still being tethered to the plastic box handle thing. In the right setting and with the right handler, I think I could be okay with them. That said, in an environment where parent control is necessary (like the lobby of your doggie daycare or arriving at the dog park), they really can become almost dangerous. The thin little fabric rope gets tangled around mom's legs, other dogs' legs, gates, purses, you name it, sometimes even causing rope burns and always causing havoc. My main concern with them, though, is what happens if the leash gets yanked out of your hand. Then you have a dog running off with a loud, plastic thing banging down the street behind them, potentially scaring them even more than whatever might have spooked them to begin with. If you love your retractable, great! Take it to the park or other place where it's appropriate for dogs to wander - just leave it at home when taking him into a controlled space like the vet's office, daycare, or events. 

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OF NOTE...If you're doing double duty with more than one dog, check out something called a Coupler. It's a simple splitter that allows you to walk both your dogs with just one basic leash and prevents tangling. My SisterBeagles use one and it's a lifesaver and can be used with harnesses, regular collars, and martingale collars! 

I hope you and your furries enjoy this sunshine together and have a happy,  walk-filled Spring! -- Lacey

Conway gets a Facelift

I laughed today while going through pics of HH Conway from opening month December 2015. We had one indoor playroom and only finished out one side of the building because we were so unsure about how the business would do that we thought we'd need to rent out the other side to help pay the bills. All our playground toys were recycled DIY projects, and my family celebrated Christmas of 2015 in our lobby because I refused to leave the building for essentially the first month it was open (I slept in my office)! The idea that there might ever be more than 30 or so dogs in the building at one time was unthinkable...our daily rosters were so small we wrote them out every day on the same chalkboard you still see in the lobby! 

Two years later we're so grateful for the growth we've experienced and love that our human team grew with us - allowing us to still get to know every single dog (and cat!) and treat them like our own. The line may be a little longer at pickup but we love getting those few extra minutes to chat and get to know you parents too! What I've learned, though, is that we were so completely unsure of whether we'd be successful that we outfitted the building with a lot of things not meant for the traffic we now see every day. 

Starting this Wednesday, we're trading out our painted epoxy flooring for a resinous epoxy flooring. It's made to withstand the pitter patter of many many furry feet and all the cleanup that takes place after them. In short: it's less slippery and lasts a heck of a lot longer (and it's PRETTY!). It's going to take a few weeks, and is going to involve a complete dismantle of everything in the back of the building. So...we're going to be asking for a little patience while we get it done. I promise it'll be worth it!! If your dog normally goes in Littles 2.0, they will be combined with Littles 1 from Wednesday 3/7 to Wednesday 3/14. If your dog goes in Bigs, they will be mostly outside to play from March 21 to 28 (we are praying the weather cooperates). All our fencing indoors has to be taken down, but will be put back up in the form of BIGGER, expanded indoor playrooms! 

While that's going on, we're also doubling the size of our grooming salon and are in the process of starting a grooming apprenticeship program. Did you know there's not a single professional dog grooming school in Arkansas? We're hoping to keep the profession alive by sharing it with others who share in our passion for making the furries look fab.

Because of all this (organized) chaos, we are going to be capping our capacity each day a bit lower than usual. We ask that parents please try to make advance notice reservations for daycare during this time to make sure your dog has a spot. Please know we wouldn't ask this of you if we weren't sure it would make for MUCH better, safer play once complete! We hope you appreciate our efforts to continually reinvest in HH to make it a great place for your kids to play. Once it's finished we'll schedule our annual Open (DOG) House where all of you can come in to see it!

As always, email me with any questions - lacey@houndshideaway.com. 

CHEERS // Lacey

How to Find Fantastic Food for your Furry!

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The doggie interwebs have been nuts again lately...the pet parent population is sharing and tagging and freaking out about the latest dog food recall. This one sure made for good headlines, what with the substance found this time being small amounts of the same drug used for euthanasia. YIKES. 

If I'm being honest, I rarely read these recalls, and it's not because I feed my dogs organic natural hormone-free antibiotic-free gluten-free grain-free cage-free chicken...it's because the recalls almost always hit the dog food brands that already sucked to begin with! I bet if you're reading this you probably don't need to read them either - if you take the time to read a blog post about picking a dog food, chances are you already feed something pretty good. So, yay for us for being a bit ahead of the curve already!! That said, there's still the possibility that we're being duped by the marketing departments of some of the brands we've come to think of as "good." So, I've put together a list of some tips that might help you weed through the muck of pretty packaging and cute commercials and get down to what matters - your dog's health!

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1. COLOR COUNTS. Look at a handful of your dog's food. Are some of the pieces shaped and colored differently? If so, you're probably looking at a handful of dyes and additives meant to trick YOU (not your dog) into thinking it's higher quality. Good dog food manufacturers don't need to add dyes to their products or change the shapes to look like vegetables. Kibble pieces should all look the same and be colored the same.

2. LEARN THE LABEL. Ingredients are listed in order by weight, with the heaviest ingredient being listed first. If you look at a label and the first ingredient isn't a meat or a meat meal (NOT a meat by-product), stop reading and start looking for a new food. After the first ingredient, the next few ingredients should also indicate high quality - look for another protein source or two, and whole fruits and/or vegetables. A good grain like brown rice is okay too. Stay away from foods where you see corn, wheat, meat by-products, dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, etc), BHT, and BHA. 

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3. CUT THE CORN. I'm no scientist but I do take care of a lot of dogs, and I swear to you the ones that are overweight, have medical problems, who seem lazy, and who have diarrhea during boarding are almost always fed a diet that contains corn. Coincidence? I think not. Remember when dogs are staying with us we ask parents to bring food from home to help keep the dog's diet consistent, so whenever I catch a case of diarrhea I always walk right over to that dog's cubby to see what they're eating. And almost every time, corn is one of the first 5 ingredients in the dog's food. Further, parents who usually complain of their dog being a picky eater are also usually starting with a corn-based food...no wonder the dog seems picky, they don't like it! I love this article from Dog Food Advisor about corn - click here if you need more convincing to cut it out!

4. EXPENSIVE MAY NOT MEAN EXCELLENT. You don't have to break the bank to find a good dog food! That said, a high price tag doesn't necessary equal greatness. ALWAYS check the label. I can think of three brands (which I can't name) that are stupid expensive and offer much less quality than some of their less-expensive counterparts. Again, I love the Dog Food Advisor website for getting accurate research. Their info is unbiased and they aren't being "bought" by dog food companies in exchange for high ratings. Ratings range from one to five stars, with a thorough explanation of every brand you can imagine. Don't feel like you HAVE to go with a 5-star brand either. We don't eat filet mignon for every meal! As long as you're staying on the high-quality end of the spectrum, you're okay. I feed my dogs a 4.5 star line and it works super well for us. Click here to visit Dog Food Advisor's brand index and see where your current food ranks. If you're not happy, click around until you find something that looks better. If you land on something that is a bit more expensive, remember a high-quality diet can mean fewer (crazy expensive) vet visits in the long run, so it's still money well spent!

I hope this helps you on your quest for better health for your furry. If you're still stumped, by all means ask us! We sell Fromm in our lobby and love it, but are big fans of several other brands too, many of which you can still purchase locally! 

Bone Appetit! -- Lacey

Prevent a Frozen Fur-Baby: Cold Weather Tips!

I love winter. The escape from the hellish southern humidity is welcome all day around here, and we've got piles of doggy sweaters to turn every day into a frosty fashion show! That said, just like in summer, the temperature extremes take a little extra pet-parent-prep, so we've put together a few tips to help you and your furry enjoy this time of year safely!

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1. SWEATER Weather! Go on and buy that jacket you've been eyeing - this is one time where your non-dog-parent friends better not poke fun at you for dressing up your little one! There are certain breeds that really do need the extra warmth - weimaraners, greyhounds, chihuahuas, and dogs with naturally thin coats are obvious, but if you're a doodle, poodle, or terrier parent who keeps your pup's fur groomed short, you may want to get in on the winter fashion too! On the flip side, if you're parenting a Newfoundland, Great Pyrenees, Samoyed, or even a German Shepherd, save your sweater money - thanks to their double coats, they don't need anything else! In fact, an extra layer could even cause them to overheat. 

2. PAW PROTECTION! I have to say, this is one topic we know a lot about. In the off-leash play world, newbies will often experience a cracked paw pad from the increased activity (ladies, imagine standing in heels for 8 hours after you've sat behind a desk for 3 years - YIKES to the feet!), and the cold can cause some of the same. We swear by a product called Musher's Secret. It's from Canada and was made for sledding dogs. We keep it in our first aid arsenal year-round. It may have been made for the cold but I also think it's great for summers here too - hot weather can be even more damaging to those paws, so any kind of barrier protection is essential to have on hand if you like taking your dog on walks! Boots and booties are cool too, but in the South, where we only experience cold for a short time, I find that the dogs are more freaked out by them than anything and by the time they actually get used to them, winter is over. If it's something you're considering investing in, I like the ones made by Ruffwear.

3. EATING AND EXERCISE! If you're still keeping up with your regular doggie daycare routine (yay!), you may want to increase your pup's food allowance a bit. Even if their activity level is about the same, playing in cooler weather uses more energy. Same goes for those who still maintain a regular walking or jogging schedule. If your exercise routine is different and typically just includes playtime in the backyard, make sure you're doing your part to provide indoor exercise options for your pet during this time (my dogs chose to "exercise" by shredding and chewing up all the Christmas ribbon). Treat dispensing toys are a favorite. I love the IQ Treat Ball - it's simple to understand and easy to fill. 

4. WATCH OUT FOR CHEMICALS Antifreeze is one we all know to steer clear of, but raod salt and other de-icing products can also cause problems. Remember, your dog is probably going to lick his paws after you come in from a walk, so he could ingest chemicals just as easily this way. Beat him to the punch by wiping his paws off with a towel every time you come inside. 

5. JOINT CARE: Sort of like humans, the cold may affect senior dogs or those with arthritis more than others. Consider orthopedic bedding or a joint supplement, or check your dog food label to make sure it includes vitamins that will help promote joint health. These pets may not like going for walks in the cold, so believe it or not, this might be a good time to keep them involved in doggie daycare. Typically even if they don't "play" with other dogs, the stimulation peaks their interest enough to get them up and moving more than they would at home, and indoor (heated) playrooms allow them to maintain movement in a comfortable space. 

Take time to ENJOY winter with your furries, y'all!  --Lacey