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What is the one thing you wished pet owners knew?

We ask three pet experts this question. Here's what they had to say.

Have you ever noticed that pet owners can talk “forever” to other pet owners? They seem to roll from one topic into the next often without even coming up for air. Perhaps it’s because they sense automatic acceptance with the other person as though they are “on the same page” when sharing stories regarding each of their pet’s behavior.  

What also seems to captivate all dog owners’ interests is tips on finding a good veterinarian and a dog groomer at a more reasonable rate. Pet photographers, dog trainers, and anything related to vacation lodging for their beloved dog will make a fellow dog owner’s ears go up! 

As a lifelong pet owner, I am always up for a bit of info on how to improve the lives of our furry family members. So, I decided to pose just one question to three local pet experts, hoping to pass along some helpful tips for our readers. The question was, “What is the one thing you wished pet owners knew?” 

I began by reaching out to Sara Spevacek, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer at Adventure is Barking, to see what she wished pet owners knew. Sara’s response wasn’t surprising, but if followed, it could save you a good deal of time. “It all centers around consistency in the training. If two people work with one dog, the commands must be the same from each human parent. Intentional follow-through and patience will get you through the hardest parts. Also, whenever possible, start your training early with any new dog you bring into the house!”

Next, I posed the same question to Bethann Gondeck, Director and Founder at Grey Face Rescue. Bethann finds good homes and sometimes special medical help for senior dogs who have been uprooted from the only home they’ve ever known. Bethann’s response to my question was, “Breed knowledge!” Often, animals are surrendered to shelters or rescues simply because of a family’s schedule or because their dogs’ specific needs are unmet. This is often due to an initial lack of knowledge of their breed. All breeds tend to have particular characteristics that will or will not be a good fit for a family. If researched in advance, long-term bonding can guarantee a happier home from day one. 

“Breeds with high energy MUST be exercised daily. It could be a good fit if the human parent also enjoys running or vigorous walking.” Bethann continues, “If a high-energy pet is simply kept in a room all day without exercise, you may come home to messes on the floor or, even worse, torn up shoes and even a carpet.”

Last but far from least, I wanted to talk to Jean at Top Dog Country Club in New Germany regarding tips on boarding our dogs. Again, I asked, “What is the one thing you wished pet owners knew?”

Jean says, “I would love dog parents to know that much of a dog’s separation anxiety is created by the owner(s). They may not realize that their dog senses their mood and mirrors it back.” 

Jean continues, “In a dog’s mind, if its owner is stressed, something must be wrong. Once this happens, they become anxious. A dog’s sense of smell is incredibly acute; it’s up to 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. When we are stressed, we give off pheromones that our dogs detect. Once the anxious parent(s) leaves our building, their dog relaxes immediately. Staying calm, cool, and collected, along with a big hug and an upbeat tone in your voice as you say, “See you soon,” makes all the difference in the world. Your positive demeanor tells them everything is okay, allowing your dog to have the time of his life on his vacation!"

As a photojournalist and pet photographer, I would like to answer the same question. I wish pet owners would arrange to have a very special image taken of their beloved pet before they pass. I often hear, “I wish I would have thought about that before…..”