Being the Best Spot He or She Can Be

Local dog service offers walks and more

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Being the Best Spot He or She Can Be

IMG_5125“How’s your dog?”

Most of you just smiled and thought, “He (or she) is just fine, thanks!” That’s because 70-80 million dogs are owned in the US. It’s very likely that there is one in your family.

And they take a lot of time and commitment, and there isn’t always a lot of that to go around. A good dog training and walking service can be invaluable. Lily Reiche, Animal behavior specialist and owner of Pasadena’s My Dog Spot, understands this well and offers a range of services for dogs, from simple dog walks to full behavior modification with clicker training.

Originally from Cape Town, Reiche was an art theory and art history lecturer at the University of Cape Town. But after moving to Southern California, she turned her love of animals into her own business.

“It’s just been a passion and something that I do very well,” She told Pasadena Now recently. “It’s something that I took to very easily. And so I’ve been doing it ever since. I was really interested in dog behavior and I really took to animals that were very anxious or had troubles, or were misunderstood.”

IMG_5110Reiche studied at the Karen Pryor School Academy, and studied to become a certified clicker-trainer.

Clicker trainer? It’s a method of animal behavior modification. According to the Pryor Academy, “Desirable behavior is usually marked by using a “clicker,” a mechanical device that makes a short, distinct “click” sound which tells the animal exactly when they’re doing the right thing. This clear form of communication, combined with positive reinforcement, is an effective, safe, and humane way to teach any animal any behavior that it is physically and mentally capable of doing.”

As Reiche explains, “Clicker-training is that something that can be used across the board. With any kind of animal. You can do everything. Can be used for fishing, can be used for people, it can be used for roughly anything.

“It’s a benchmark,” she continued, “so that the animal understands that something is the behavior that you’re looking for. And then you subsequently reward that behavior. It’s easy for the animal to recognize and understand.”

Reiche also has some advice for choosing a walker for your own Mr. Willoughby.

IMG_5060“I think you need to be really concerned about whether the dog walker has all the dog walking certifications, and whether they are first aid certified, so that you know that your dog is in good hands,” Reiche explained. “Will they be bonded and insured? Has the walker had a background check? All my walkers have been background checked. They all have first aid certificates.

“And for me it’s about really your animal is going to be taken care of in a personal way, she added. “Whether you’re going to have one consistent dog walker coming in, taking care of your dog on a regular basis, attention to detail is very, very important to us.

“So we have a GPS tracker that sends our walker notes after every walk,” she continued. The notes are detailed so that the walker is very in tune to the details of the walk, and the details of the pet.

“They get to know the pet,” said Reiche, “and they get to know whether he’s ill on occasion, for example, and those things are very important to me. So those are the things that I would expect a pet owner should be looking for in a dog walker. “

Reiche emphasized, “We are really invested in the pets that are our clients. They’re not just another dog that we go in, we walk, we come out, and forget about. We’re really invested in them each and every time. We individualize each of our packages. We do have regular 30 minute, and 15 minute walks. But when I have a consultation with you, we discuss the need of each dog, each of your dogs,” she said.

“If you have two dogs, if you have an old dog and a young dog, we change the package so that each of those dogs gets the different kind of exercise that they need. So if you own a dog that needs to walk for 15 minutes, maybe just a little circle on the block, we do that. And then for those who just need a walk everyday, we have the regular 30 minute walk. For me, it’s also very important that they really have a good balance of sniff time and walk time. So it’s not just a full on walk with no sniffing. It’s really important, and they need to get some good mental exercise, as well,” said Reiche.

Reiche adds that all her walks come with a two-week training period.

“Every single walk is a training period as well,” she said. “So if your dog is really pulling you on a leash, you work with that dog during our walk times as well. And we will teach you how to work with them to encourage them not to tow.

“We’ll also give you advice on what kind of equipment to use to stop those kinds of things. Any kind of behavioral issues that you’re having with your walk, we work on those as part of the service.”

My Dog Spot is available at (626) 399-1951.

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