Tips, Ideas and Helpful Hints 

Busy people who love and enjoy their pets, yet may not always have the proper time to care for them due to hectic work schedules, traveling for business or pleasure, or those who may not have the capacity to care for their pets as they used to. Hiring CWPS as your pet sitter is a smart, safe and stress-free solution. Our mission is to treat your pets and home with the same love, care and respect we treat our own. 

Easy To Follow Preparation Guidelines for Pet Sitting:

Make reservations with us early, especially during holidays and summer months.
Ensure your pet is well socialized and allows strangers to handle them.
Affix current identification tags to your pet's collar (chipping is also extremely important).
Maintain current vaccinations for your pets. Also, flea treatment is required all year.
Leave clear instructions with your vet authorizing a visit in case of sudden illness or emergency.
Leave pet food and supplies in one place and with detailed but simple instructions in writing. Leave a measuring cup, for instance, and indicate exactly how much your pet should be fed. A “handful” or “bowlful” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
Buy extra pet supplies in case you're away longer than planned.
Shut off rooms or areas where your pets are not allowed .
Set the thermostat to keep the house comfortable for your pet during your absence.
Give us detailed information, such as your pets eating habits, toilet habits, grooming needs, exercise routines, medications, special habits, favorite hiding places, phobias, etc.
Leave a key with a trustworthy neighbor as a backup, and give them and CWPS each others phone numbers. Be sure those extra keys work before giving them out.
Show us your homes important safety features such as the circuit breaker and security system.
Put potentially dangerous plants and/or decorations out of your pets reach.
Keep us informed of any plan changes, especially if your trip gets extended.
Leave a contact number of your contractor in case of a house emergency, ex: pipe leak, etc.
Have your own contingency plan, especially during the winter and hurricane season. Provide us with the name of someone, maybe a neighbor, who can take care of your pet should bad weather or other unexpected circumstances prevent us from getting there.
If hurricane season, please be sure to secure your outside property (chairs, tables, etc.) to endure high winds.
Finally, have a safe and fun trip, remember to bring our phone number in case your plans change or you just want to find out how your pets are doing. 

Remember, you are the most important part of your pets care plan. You know your pet better than anyone, so we work with you to create a care plan to fit your pets lifestyle! 


In-Home Care or Kennel?

Deciding whether to kennel your pet or not is an individual decision that only you make. Some pets do quite well at kennels and most kennels have quick access to veterinary care that can also be very important in certain situations. Our customers and we agree that the pets we look after, are much happier and calmer staying at home. Even though it is usually quieter when you are away, we find that most pets settle into a comfortable routine within a day or two after you depart. For our "regular" clients, the adjustment time is usually much shorter or even non-existent as soon as they see our familiar smiling faces. You are the only one that knows what is best for your pets, as everyone's situation is different. Just like you, your pet is an individual and has their own likes and dislikes. Before making your final decision, please read over the Benefits to Your Pet and the Benefits to You on our Home Page

Who is Not a Good Candidate for In-Home Care 

Pets must have a reasonably friendly temperament. Most dogs will bark at a stranger entering their home, but your pets and CWPS should have established a good rapport during the initial interview. If your pet has medical or behavioral problems such as aggression or history of biting and needs close supervision, a kennel may be the best option.

Things to ponder Before getting a Pet 

Whether you are looking for your first pet or just to add another one to your family, Please do Not take the decision lightly. We have compiled a list of questions and comments to assist you in your extremely important decision. It is a bit lengthy but a must read before adopting.

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                                      Obedience Training Tips 
Obedience training is extremely important for you and your dog. A well trained dog is a true pleasure and your training efforts will be well worth all your time. Remember, when it comes to training, size does Not matter, even a 'Lap Dog' needs training. We have compiled some helpful hints and commands to get you on your way. At the very minimum, all dogs should be trained the basic five commands, sit, stay, down, heel and come with the training to start immediately when they arrive in your home (age does Not matter). And Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.....it's never too late to start training but the sooner you start, the happier you and your dog will be. If your dog is not trained and you are 'putting off' training until it's convenient to you, whatever the issue is will only intensify the longer that you delay.  


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                                       Beware of Dangers for your Pet

Some foods which are edible for humans, and even other species of animals, can pose hazards for cats and/or dogs because of their different metabolism. Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness, and even death. These common food items should not be fed (intentionally or unintentionally) to cats and dogs.  These lists are, of course, incomplete because we can not possibly list everything your cat or dog should not eat.        

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Holiday Hazards - With Holidays come additional hazards, although the food and decorations are delightful, always be aware of the affects on your pets, both physically and mentally. All Holidays come with some additional hazards but the added hustle and bustle of the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years season can sometimes leave pets wanting more attention, which is when more mishaps may occur due to boredom. You can reach the APCC (Animal Poison Control Center) Hotline 24 hours a day at 1 888-426-4435.

A few things to beware:

Stress - some pets do not enjoy lots of company and the noise that comes with it, so make sure to provide a quiet safe spot for them. Also, make sure to advise your guests to be 'on guard' when the doors open to prevent them from 'leaving the party'. If fireworks are involved or even noise makers (4th of July, New Years, Etc.), please consider your pets tolerance to noise and provide a safe spot ahead of time. A loud noise to you can be deafening to you pet!

Decorations - make sure any cords are out of chewing range and beware of sharp small ornaments that could be chewed and possibly swallowed. Tinsel is very tempting because it is shiny and entertaining but deadly if consumed (also Easter Basket Grass) due to the choking hazard and intestinal obstruction possibility and Please Never use Angel Hair (spun glass). If your tree is real pine, do not place additives to the water (unless it is completely inaccessible to your pets) and keep any pine needles that fall cleaned up. Ingested pine needles can puncture the intestines and drinking the water could cause them harm. Also, make sure that your tree is well secured if you have a cat that likes to climb or even a dog with a enthusiastic tail wag.

Plants - Poinsettias can cause gastric distress, certain species of Holly berries and leaves can cause a mild poison but Mistletoe is extremely poisonous when eaten and your vet should be contacted immediately. For more information on Toxic and Non-Toxic plants, Visit the ASPCA website.

Candles - Make sure they are anchored, away from a swatting pat or a 'happy' tail and never let unattended. They can cause great harm to your pet and house! 

Food - Always  be aware of any food left out in accessible spots, especially items from the list provided above. Advise your guests Not to feed your pet. This could lead to not just overindulgence but non-pet owners may not be aware of  what is toxic to your pets.

Vehicles - we are not talking about your dog running in the path of a vehicle, although that is an issue, we are talking about when you are driving down the road. If you let your dog 'hang' their head out of the window, you are putting their health in danger. Not only is it bad for your dogs breathing but the main concern is what could hit them in the head, especially their eyes. The very least you can do for them, if you decide to continue with this activity, is to put a pair of goggles on them. Doggles makes both goggles and sun glasses and they will protect your dogs eyes from rocks flying up, bugs and anything else that might get in their eyes as you are driving. If you have ever ridden on a motorcycle, you will relate. It is extremely painful when an object hits you going at a rate of speed.

Allergies and Meds

Just like allergy in humans, pet allergies too have similar symptoms. For instance, itching is something we relate to the habits of a pet but consistent itching or obsessive scratching should be considered as a warning bell. Other symptoms include coughing, eye and nose discharge, hair loss, excessive licking, vomiting and breathing problems. These signs should be regularly observed and must not be taken lightly. The reasons for allergies in pets are also similar to those of humans, the most common being allergy from a particular substance in the pet food. Another kind of allergy is caused by Atopy which is environmental factors such as dust, mites, feathers or pollen. Apart from these allergies, your pet may be allergic to fleas (caused by flea saliva) or to bacteria’s. These allergies must be consulted directly with a vet so that proper medication can be provided. However, in no case should you delay in consulting with a vet because your pet is suffering.

Food allergies affect both cats and dogs. Unlike atopy, there is no strong link between specific breeds or males and females and affect neutered and intact animals equally. They can show up as early as five months and as late as 12 years of age, though the vast majority of cases occur between 2 and 6 years.

Here is a list of people meds that will help your dog as well.


                                                Pet Stress/Anxiety

Some pets, cats and dogs, can suffer from stress caused by many sources. Unfortunately, like our Garrett, a lot of dogs have different levels of stress due to thunderstorms, fireworks, gunshots, etc. To our dismay, we have been unable to aid him successfully...so far (we are desperately trying).

Never yell or scold your pet but stay calm  and Never pet them and say "Good Boy/Girl" when they are in a panic state because that will give them the idea that they are acting appropriately, maintain your activities as normal. Most of all, remember to Stay Calm, your pet will sense your stress and own it.

Although it is not as noticeable as dogs, cats do not deal with change and can be stressed by many sources. Substantial changes, such as moving, introduction of a new baby, spouse, or other animal to the household, can have devastating effects. They also hate fireworks and other loud noises (music, talking, laughing, etc.) As for dogs, there are many remedies available, introduce only one remedy at a time. It is best to check with your veterinarian first before trying any of these products to make sure that the anxiety is not caused by a medical condition.

We are fortunate that Garrett does not suffer from separation anxiety like many dogs but we do give him a Kong and leave the Dish tv on for calming instrumentals every time we leave just to make sure he is comfy. We keep the Kong in the freezer ready to go. We prepare it by putting in a few small treats and close them in with peanut butter. After it's in the freezer for a while, it makes a cool tasty distraction while we leave. If your dog does have separation anxiety, try short absences and gradually increase the time as they adjust. Also, try to change your 'leaving routine' like picking up your keys, putting on shoes, etc or desensitizing. For example, if your pet starts to get anxious when you put on your shoes, put on and take off the shoes until they relax then move on to the next item. It can be very time consuming at first, but well worth it in the end. 

For thunderstorms, fireworks, etc, we have tried Rescue Remedy drops, rubbing him with dryer sheets, loud and soft music, tv, bathroom fan (since he seems to go crouch in the tub) distracting him with play and/or food, the Thundershirt, Farnam Comfort Zone DAP, Mutt Muffs and Composure. Although the reviews on line are very favorable, we have not been able to get the same results. We tried the Rescue Remedy first, then the music, dryer sheets, distractions, followed by the Thundershirt and then just before July 4th, the Mutt Muffs. We had high hopes for the Mutt Muffs and for about ten minutes during the Solomons Fireworks they seemed to work but then he stood up and shook his head and, although their website says it can't be done, they came right off. It didn't matter how many time we ajusted and put them back on, he would shake them off again in a matter of seconds. We must say that both the Thundershirt and Mutt Muff people were very friendly and accepted the returns and refunded us quickly (minus the shipping cost, of course).

We are not saying do not try these methods because there is a good chance that they may work for you, no way of telling until you do. There are so many products out there, many are a waste of time and money. If you have a similar problem with your dog and have found something that works, PLEASE let us know. 

                                               Toys and Treats 

Choosing the correct toy for your pet is very important. Always check them (just like you would for a baby) for choking hazards. Make sure the toy is size appropriate for your pet. There are sooooo many choices, it's hard to find the right toy or treat that your pet will like without ending up with a box full of neglected toys and treats. Here are just a couple suggestions. 

For dogs, the one toy that we find irreplaceable is the Kong or the equivalent such as the Walmart Fireplug. These not only are great to play fetch with but also as entertainment and a treat dispenser. When you are about to leave home, give your dog a kong filled with treats and it will help keep them entertained and less stressed by your departure. You can put a variety of treats in them. Garrett, just like most dogs, loves cheese. We squirt some 'Easy Cheese' from the can into the small hole end of the Kong or we coat some peanut butter on the inside walls and let the licking begin. We also put a few treats in the Kong and use peanut butter to close them in. Keep a couple in the freezer and when you are ready to leave, just pull one out and instant happy dog.

For cats, it is more difficult to specify one item. We have found that most cats like Pounce but the one treat that even the most finicky cat will eat is the Whiskas Temptations. So far, we have not found a cat that does not like the Temptations but will snub a Pounce. Playtime is always fun with a laser beam or a feather on a stick. You can go out and spend lots of money on a variety of toys but don't overlook the value of a free paper bag from the store....hours of fun.
When purchasing treats for your pet, be sure to read the ingredients just like you should for your own food. The best idea is to buy treats that are made in the U.S.A. If it is a 'Product of China', leave it at the store! However, no matter where it is made, Beware of the following ingredients:

Yellow #6, Blue #1 and #2, Red #3 and Green #3 are linked with cancer in animal testing can befound in Milk-Bones, Beggin Strips, Beneful Snackin Slices and T-Bonz, to mention a few.

Titanium dioxide is a widely used white food coloring that’s also used for paints and plastics and in food is suspected of causing genetic disorders and lung tumors.

Copper sulfate is an herbicide, fungicide and pesticide that’s also a known toxin no longer included in children’s chemistry sets because of health risks. Calcium proprionate is a mold inhibitor.

Zinc sulfate used especially in making a white paint pigment, in printing and dyeing, in sprays and fertilizers and in medicine as an astringent, emetic and weak antiseptic

Sodium nitrite is linked with cancer and is in Beggin Strips and Pup-Peroni. Sodium nitrate is easily converted to cancer-causing compounds (called NOCs) and both sodium nitrite and nitrate have been linked with gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, and colorectal cancer.

Sodium bisulfite (synthetic vitamin K also called menadione) is associated with liver toxicity, anemia, eczema, skin irritations, allergic conditions, and more and has been banned from food and supplements in Europe and by the FDA in over the counter supplements.

And lastly, propylene glycol makes good antifreeze and airplane de-icer but the right amount will kill your pet. 

Your Pet and The Law 

There are many laws designed to protect your pets. To view Virginia's laws regarding animal care, visit https://www.animallaw.info/statute/va-dogs-consolidated-dog-laws#s6503

To our great dismay, we know there is no 'legal' leash law in Northumberland County because our biggest 'pet peeve' in our day-to-day travels is unleashed pets. There is no reason to let your pets off-leash when they are not on your property as there are so many ways they could get hurt or killed. We have seen too many pets that are unleashed off of their property and many that have become road statistics (buzzard food) and it breaks our heart. Please, Please, Please...If You Love Them, Leash Them.....Yes, that means cats too.  It's such a small request to protect so much love. Please use a leash if they are not in a contained area while they are outside. Your dog may be 'trained' but they all have a mind of their own and can break command anytime and your cat will probably not like it but they do not think about getting hit by a car, getting lost, stolen or getting attacked by another animal....it is YOUR job to keep them safe. It is also your job to be considerate to your neighbors. Whether your neighbors have pets or not, they do Not want to clean up your dogs droppings or nor do they want your cat using their flower bed as a litter box. If your dogs are friendly is not the point because the other dog that they meet may not be! No matter how well-trained, animals are unpredictable and anything is possible.....because they are animals...no matter how much you love them or dress them up, they are still animals. If you do not have a fenced in property, invisible fence is always an option. We have the Petsafe wired fence but there is also a wireless version made by Petsafe so you have No excuse as to why you pets 'run free'. Also keep in mind, we have coyotes and foxes out looking for dinner, please do not let your loved one fit that category.

Happy Healthy Pets 

Your pet will rely on you to keep them in good health. A proper diet, regular exercise, grooming, and routine check-ups at the veterinarian will help keep your pet in top form. It's also important for you to get to know your pet's habits - eating, drinking, sleeping, and so forth - since sometimes a variation in those habits can be an indication that they are not feeling well.

Proper Diet - There are many brands of food to choose to feed your pets properly to ensure they are healthy and live a long happy life. Beware of foods that have a variety of colors, red, yellow, green, etc. These foods are loaded with fat and are the equivalent of you eating fast food every day. The best food is brownish color (please read the 'Allergies' section above). If you are unsure about food portions to feed your pet, please check with your vet. Please do Not overfeed, food does not equal love. Obesity in pets causes a lot of the same problems it does in people. An overweight pet is prone to a host of related problems, including: diabetes, joint, ligament and tendon difficulties, breathing and heart challenges. Overweight cats can even develop skin problems from not being able to groom themselves properly. The overall impact on comfort and longevity can be dire. The good news is that it's not as difficult to trim down pets as it might be to fight your own battles with the bulge. After all, pets can't open the refrigerator on their own, what pets eat is wholly dependent on what we give them. If your pet is overwieght, please check with your vet about the proper method of reducing your pets individual bulk. Do not put them on a 'Crash Diet'. It took them time to get that way and should not be expected to change overnight. If you feed your pet dry food, we recommend an autofeeder. There are several brands and styles to choose from. We purchased the Ergo Medium Autofeeder for our Woogie because he had no limit when it came to food and would eat until he became sick. It worked great and is still working now for Garrett. We set the timer to when and how much, fill it once a week and that's it....now we have more quality time for other things like playtime, grooming, walking, etc. The autofeeder is also great for puppies that inhale their food in a gulp. The food comes out slowly which gives them no choice but to eat slower. If you have a standard water bowl, don't forget to give them fresh water at least once a day. Plenty of fresh water is just as important as the proper food. Remember, your pet has a waistline too. If it gets closer to the floor every day, it's time to act.

Proper Exercise - Your pets need exercise just as much as you to maintain a long healthy life. They love to move, especially if you are moving with them. Playing with your pet is essential for bonding, weight control and for helping your pet develop muscle tone, agility and stamina. Leash walking is one of the best exercises...Yes, even for your cat. How long you walk will depend on your pet and your pet breed. No less than a 30 minute walk is recommended every day for all pets. Larger, stronger breeds of dogs should be at least a one hour walk every day. If you have a 'puller', we use the Easy Walk Harness which has the 'D' ring on the strap that goes across the chest. When you use the leash attached to the regular neck collar or harness with the 'D' ring on their back, it gives them more power to pull. If  you have is a standard collar, keep it high on their neck like they do in dog shows, the lower the collar is on their neck, the more pulling power they have. If you don't have a 'puller', we highly recommend the Martingale collar. It is so much better than the standard collar and the choke collar (which could cause damage if not used properly and we really discourage using).

Are you walking your dog OR is your dog walking you? Whoever is in front is in charge or the 'Leader of the Pack'. Always walk with your dog beside or behind you....never in front. When the weather is bad and you have a treadmill in your home, don't be selfish...share it with your pets. Once they get used to it, you will have to fight for your turn.

Proper Health -   Shop around before choosing a vet for your pets the same as you would for your own doctor. Take your pet for regular check-ups and necessary shots. Heartworm is very prevalent in this area and your pet will need medicine year round to prevent it. Seasonal flea and tick medication will also be necessary. Depending on the vet you choose, the usage period may vary with the change of the seasons. As the weather stays warm for a longer period of time, so do the pests that prey on your pets.

Proper Grooming A very important part of your pets requirements for a long healthy life is proper grooming.

Coat: Your pet needs to be brushed no less than twice a week, no matter how long or short their fur. It not only makes your pet look better but contributes to their physiological and psychological health. It is best to start brushing your pet at an early age, but do not despair if your pet is an older animal. It is possible to train one to enjoy grooming, proceed slowly, and be sure to use treats and plenty of praise to make the experience fun! To keep the shedding to a minimum, we use and recommend the FURminator. It works great on both dogs and cats and sooo much better than a 'standard brush'. 

Nails: Your pet needs their nails trimmed at least once a month. If they grow too long, it is not only uncomfortable for them but the potential of a nail breaking is much higher. If you do not like the traditional nail clippers, a dremel tool is very handy and, in our opinion, much easier. If you would like more information on dremeling, visit http://www.doberdawn.com/ and click in the left column on 'How To Dremel Dog Nails'. Don't forget the dewclaw (if your dog has one). We use the cordless dremel for Garrett because he hates the clippers. We will 'round off' his nails at least once a week during our regular grooming session, just a second or two on each nail and we give him a nice massage as a reward.

Bathing: Bathe your pet once every two months or as often as needed. In the past, the generally accepted advice was that frequent bathing of your pet would damage the coat. If you use the proper shampoo, you can bathe your pet more than once a week and not damage the coat. The first decision to make is where. Kitchen sinks or laundry utility tubs work well for small pets, while bathroom tubs or portable pet tubs are best for larger pets. Outside hoses, while convenient, are not a good alternative since the water is so cold. Water should be lukewarm for the shampoo to work best and for your dog's comfort. Insert a cotton ball in the ears to prevent water from entering the canals. There are many shampoos to choose from depending on your pet's hair coat, skin condition, or desired result. DO NOT use shampoos made for humans. They contain harsher detergents, are not pH balanced for pets, and could damage hair or sensitive skin. Be sure to brush them before and after each bath in order to get all of the mats out of their coat, especially long haired breeds. Keep pets warm and away from drafts while the hair dries and do not let your pet outside until hair is completely dry. A damp coat is a magnet for dirt.

Teeth: Pets can get cavities and develop periodontal disease, so their teeth should be cleaned with a pet toothpaste at least once a day. It is best to use a small toothbrush that has soft bristles. Brushing your dog's teeth should not be a chore for you or your dog. Instead, it should be an enjoyable time for both of you. If you take things slowly at the beginning and give lots of praise, you and your dog will start looking forward to your brushing sessions. Make sure you use a pet toothpaste. Toothpastes designed for people can upset your dog's stomach. Cleanings performed by a veterinarian may also be required but daily brushing will minimize this action and your pet will thank you with love.

Ears: Ear care is also an important part of grooming. Ear infections can not only be painful, but lead to permanent hearing loss. The signs of a problem include redness, constant scratching, head shaking and odor. Clean your pet's ears twice per month. The skin inside and on the flaps should be pale pink. Moisten a cotton ball with warm water or a little mineral oil and use it to clean the opening into the canal and the flaps. Do not probe too deeply into the canal If there is a foul odor and/or any red, brown or black skin, have a veterinarian examine your pet's ears. 

Disclaimer: All information on this website is provided for you as a courtesy only. We do Not receive any compensation from any products that we recommend, it is simply our way of sharing our experiences. As with anything else on our website, if you have any questions, suggestions, ideas or comments, we are glad to listen. We are always looking for new ways to make pets even healthier and happier. Whether or not you use our services, we would still love to hear from you. Be sure to check back time to time, we try to add information as we obtain it.


Office Hours

Call Us 804-761-3628

9 AM - 5 PM * Monday - Friday (except Holidays)

                                                   Send us an e-mail: info@calvertwayspetsitting.com

                                                                                                Fax Available - email or call first for instructions
                                                                                                             Calvert Ways Pet Sitting Ltd
                                                                                                                     Ophelia, Va 22530

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For Experienced Professional Pet Sitting, Dog and Cat Walking and House Sitting Services in Northumberland County 22530, 22432, 22473 and 22539, Call Calvert Ways Pet Sitting at 804-761-3628 for a Kennel and Doggie Day Care Alternative and happy healthy pets and people * Pet Sitter, Dog and Cat Walker, 'Lived In' look House Sitter for Home Security, LockOut Service and Special Requests. Also available, Promised Land Handyman Services, a Licensed US Coast Guard Master Captain and a Class A CDL Licensed Driver, has ALL endorsements with background check and drug tested.