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Yoga: Downward-Facing Dog

Most hatha yoga classes have students performing Downward-Facing Dog throughout the class. This invigorating pose is one of the foundational poses that are an integral part of many vinyasa sequences. Downward Dog livens up the body from the hips to the spine right through to the fingers and toes, making you feel more alive and vibrant.

Although the pose appears quite simple, it is actually very complex. Its benefits are also numerous. It demands a balanced effort from the arms, legs and torso and stretches and strengthens the whole body.

Downward Dog is used as a home base in many flow classes to neutralize the spine and bring it back to its natural alignment. Since it involves inversion it’s useful for beginners to experience the sensation of being upside down.

The following two versions will help you to rediscover, refine and “refeel” Downward Dog, even if you have done it countless times. This pose can uncover tightness in areas you never even knew existed. Your elbows may be weak, your lower back may round, but with time and practice the pose will provide wonderful sensations through your body, making you feel long and lithe.

The first version of the pose removes the hamstrings from the equation by bending the knees. This allows you to fully extend through your torso, giving your spine, shoulders and arms a long, full stretch.

Start by lying face down on your mat with your hands by your shoulders on the floor. Come up on your hands and knees, keeping your hand and feet in place. Your knees should be hip width and your hands should be shoulder width apart.

Your awareness should be brought to your hands and feet as they are the foundation of the pose. Spread your fingers wide and press them firmly into the mat dispersing your weight evenly across your hands. Tuck your toes under so your heels come off the floor. Lift your knees off the mat while moving your pelvis up and back and keep your knees bent. Picture yourself pushing the mat down and away from your pelvis.

Start refining the pose during the next few breaths. Check your hands to see if your index fingers and thumbs are off the mat. If they are you are bearing too much weight on the outer hands. Offset this by spreading your fingers and pushing down through your arms, trying to make a perfect palm print on your mat.

Straighten your elbows and rotate your arms away from your ears until the back of your elbows face your thumbs. Notice the sensations in your arms and shoulders and the broadening of your back.

Then shift your chest toward your legs, feeling your chest open and the armpit area lengthen. Continue to extend your arms and lift your pelvis further up and back, lengthening and unraveling your spine.

Finally release the tension in your neck, letting your head hang naturally between your arms. Stay here for 3-5 breaths and then exhale and bring your knees to the floor, resting in Child’s Pose.

Perform the first version of this pose again but lift your heels up off the floor as far as you can. Engage your quadriceps muscles of your thighs, straighten your knees and raise your pelvis to the sky. Your body should resemble a capital “A” and your pelvis should shift forward.

Roll your sitting bones up towards the sky. This should lift your heels further off the floor as the pelvis rotates. Firm your thighs and lift them up towards your hips. Draw your thighbones up into your pelvis and roll your sitting bones even higher. This will form a taller, more angled “A” shape. Use the force of your thighs to lift your legs and keep them straight and do not jam your knees back. Feel how your pelvic lift is supported by the strength of your legs.

Once again press the tops of your thighs back behind you. Do not press the knees. The pelvis should move away from your hands which will take some pressure off your arms. Stay in this position for 3-5 breaths.

The challenge of performing a classic Downward Dog is to keep your lower back from rounding when you fully extend your torso and the backs of the legs. Further practice with the two versions above will serve you well, especially if you find your lower back bulges towards the ceiling or your shoulders hunch forward. Move through versions one and two to come into the full pose.


Is A Professional Pet Sitter Or Dog Walker Right For You?

Maybe you can’t spend as much time with your furry best friend as you’d like. Maybe you can’t be home in time to give your dog his much needed relief (for some strange and unfortunate reason, we humans have to work to earn money…well most of us do anyway).

Why not consider a professional pet sitter or dog walker?

I suppose you could ask the 12 year old kid down the street to take your dog out for a walk when you’re not home. And I’m sure the kid loves dogs, but do you really want to give him that much responsibility? Dogs follow their instincts (unless trained to do otherwise), which isn’t always a good thing, especially if they’re bigger than say a chihuahua. Dogs can get scared and bite, cause accidents,…You’d feel bad enough if something like that happened when you’re walking your best friend, but consider how you’d feel if it happened when a kid was doing the walking.

Personally, I’d prefer a professional. They’re experienced and possibly even “read” your dog better than you do 😉 They have the right insurance, knowledge of body language and even know first aid. Professional pet sitters know exactly what to do when things are starting to go wrong and know how to prevent a small problem from becoming a disaster.

Usually they offer a divers range of services, ranging from a brief walk around the block to a jog in the park, or even watering the plants and emptying your mailbox. If your dog has special needs, maybe he needs to take medication for instance, this can also be discussed with a good dog walker/sitter. Prices will vary, depending on your needs, but a basic 15-30 minute walk will cost you between 10 and 15$.

During your first meeting with the walker/sitter, it’s very important to be honest about your dog’s behavior. If he’s afraid, aggressive, hyperactive,…the walker/sitter needs to be aware of this. This way he can prevent situations which will make you dog uncomfortable. And remember, both you and your pet should feel comfortable with the person you choose to take care of your pet. Therefore, you should always ask for references and actually check them.

So if you want someone to be there for your best friend when you can’t, on a daily basis or just when you’re on vacation, and you’re willing to spend some money on it, a pet sitting service might be the right choice for you.

How to Increase Profits For Your Pet Sitting Business

Marketing is critical to the success of any small business, pet sitting is no exception. All businesses need clients in order to survive. The process by which a pet sitting business attracts clients and generates sales dictates whether the business succeeds or fails. The art of getting new business is no mystery. In fact it’s so simple sometimes we forget to do the little things. Here are 10 tips to remind you how to build a larger client base.

1. Get New Business From Old – The best way to expand your business is to convert your current clients into sales people who generate new business for you. Get them to recommend you to others and you’ll discover one of the most effective forms of advertising you’ve ever used.

2. Sell to a Stranger – Practice your USP (unique selling proposition). It’s like bad advertising if you “wing it” with a potential client. You get one shot at your “Get Acquainted” visits to make a good first impression. You’ve got to know what to say, and say it with conviction.

3. Give It To Me Straight – Everyone is in a hurry these days. Prepare well honed phrases and practice them in front of a mirror. People like it when you can get to the point quickly.

4. Talk About Your Failures – Seriously! It builds credibility. Everyone can’t be perfect all the time, and when you can tell a prospect why you lost a client and what you’ve learned it’s a welcome change. They appreciate not getting the usual swagger & razzle-dazzle.

5. Offer a “Loss-Leader”- Loss-leader is the practice of offering your service at a considerable discount and loss of profit to attract future business. People are less and less apt to buy impulsively from a person if they don’t have a good feeling about them. Offering a loss-leader allows the relationship to mature over time.

6. Get Sold Yourself – Play customer with a successful competitor in your area and let them sell to you. Focus on why their approach works and think about what methods you might incorporate into your business.

7. Practice on a Demanding Acquaintance – Think about the most candid and straightforward person you know and try to sell them on your business. Let them be as frank as possible and then evaluate their comments for merit. This exercise can help you identify areas where your sales pitch may need improvement.

8. Start a Pet Sitting E-mail Newsletter – This is much like #5. Give them useful information week in and week out, or month in and month out. Keep your business fresh in their mind and make them happy to see your name in the “from” field.

9. Offer Testimonials – Get your existing clients to provide testimonials about how great your service is and ask them to serve as references for prospective clients. Remember, as you first start your business, it’s typically the first clients that take a chance on you who receive the greatest level of personalized service and professionalism from you. Plus, satisfied clients can say things about you that you can never believably say about yourself.

10. Ask Questions – I can’t emphasize enough how important and how underused this tip is in business. Simply allowing people to verbalize their needs makes them pleased and tells them you are listening. It also allows you to hone in on the points to make when it’s your turn to talk.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day activities of running your business and overlook the small things you can do to make it grow. Try setting aside a little time each day to act on one of these marketing efforts and watch your business grow almost effortlessly.

3 Great Jobs For Pet Lovers

The jobs of a pet sitter, a dog walker, and a pet groomer are very much in demand. If you take into account the spending habits of average Americans, more money is lavished on pets and the figure is a staggering $3.35 billion. These are professional occupations and you can easily find one if you are a real pet lover and willing to spend time with them. And a career with pets can easily begin by taking up the 3 great jobs available these days.

Pet sitter

Your job would be to provide extraordinary care and lessen the stress of the owner by providing the pet with more freedom. You will have to travel to different homes to care for the pets and stick to a routine. Being attached to a pet sitting service helps as you could be assigned to several houses in a particular neighborhood. As a pet sitter, you will not have to make the dog adapt to a new environment every time. The job would be easy and simple to carry out.

If you are on your own, you will have to bank of recommendations of other pet owners for being hired. Your best bet would be to work for a pet sitting service for some time before checking out opportunities on your own. Your reputation will count before you are hired by pet owners who would ask their friends, co workers and other family members. Settle your rate of pay with the pet owner and get a written agreement done before taking up the job.

Dog walker

Dog walking can be a pastime as well as a paying occupation if you like pets and love to take them for walks as well as a spot of exercise. In some areas, the dog walkers require a license to carry on their profession. You can begin with a professional dog walking service before you branch out independently. You would be trained to administer first aid to pets in case of need. Referrals are very much common for pet sitting offers and grooming as well.

Pet owners will always want some real time referrals and contact details before they can entrust their pets to you. You need to have a spic and span record while working for a pet sitter service where you can pick up small details about how to excel in the profession. You can also post your service online for prospective hirers to check out your rates and timings as well.

Pet groomer

Pet grooming is like adventure, but you can also make money in these tough times when many of the traditional money making opportunities are drying down. You need to adhere to very strict and stringent standards that even a veterinarian is not expected to follow. By using special techniques, you can easily handle the pets. From the type of coat of the pet, you will have to identify the ways to groom the pet while working as a pet groomer.

How to Easily Train Your Dog to Sit

Many people are curious how to train their dog properly. Here, we will take a look at how you can train your dog to learn how to sit on command. This method can be the first step in developing a stronger bond with your dog and helping create a foundation to train them in other ways. In this method the use of food will be used as the catalyst to encourage the appropriate behavior. Use the following steps to help teach your dog how to sit.

1. Pick out a small piece of meat and hide it in the palm of your hand and make a fist.

2. Let the dog smell the meat through your hand by placing your hand about 4 inches away from his nose..

3. Then, slowly raise your hand over his head. This will cause the dog to raise its head and fall back on its hind legs.

4. From here, you say, “sit” when the dog is in the sit position.

5. Then, you follow this behavior, by saying, “Good” or “Yes” and giving the dog the piece of meat to eat.

The result of these steps is to get the dog to associate the sit command with him going to get a treat. If done properly, the dog will respond to this command by sitting. Once the dog complies with this command most of the time, you can move on to more advanced training skills. The key you want to focus on is that the dog is starting to respond without any hand movements and only by the sit command.

By using simple steps like these consistently, you can teach your dog to do all kinds of things like the skill listed above. With consistent performance of these skills, you should have your dog sitting in no time.

Bird Sitting Tips For Pet Bird Owners

Do you bird sit for people that have birds? Drawing from your own experience as a bird owner, bird sitting is a great opportunity to interact with other bird species and meet other people, not to mention a great way to earn a little extra gas money. We have a short list of tips and tricks to help your time as a bird sitter be stress free and successful.

* Interview the bird owner. Interact with the bird you will be taking care of, and offer references to the owner from previous bird experiences. A good owner will always request references and recommendations from former clients.

* What is the routine of the bird you will be caring for? What foods does he like, what is the normal diet, and what snacks and treats are available? Are there any additional supplies you should be aware of that you may need, and are they readily available?

* Get veterinary information. At a minimum, the vet’s name, number, address, and a signed note of permission to treat the bird in case something is to go awry. You also want to get a signed consent form saying that the owner will pay any medical costs related to the bird, should the need arise to seek medical attention during the owners absence.

* Make sure you have an itinerary of the owner, so you know when they are leaving and when they are expected back, so you can calculate your time accordingly.

* Request the owner leaves emergency contact numbers, such as a family or friend, in case you need to contact someone and the owner is not available.

* Make sure you have a signed note of permission to enter the house of the bird owner. Request an alternative phone number of where the owner can be reached, in addition to the house phone. Ensure that a key is available, and if needed, that you have the code to the security alarm.

* Lastly if your not a member of a local bird club it could offer some great networking opportunities to find a quality bird sitter for you and others when your out of town and can’t take the feathered family with you.

7 Essentials To Starting a Pet Sitting Or Dog Walking Business

1. Do have Pet Sitting Forms and Contracts in place, it is essential that you have the right forms and contracts in place for your customers to fill in and sign before they leave their dog with you. These will include a booking form, veterinary release form, telephone reservation sheet, customer invoice, dog or cat information sheet, dog walking report card, medication log, service agreement, pet accident & illness card.

2. Do get Pet Sitters Insurance, we are very lucky in the UK that you can get pet sitting insurance from just 6.00 per month depending on what service you offer. It is essential to have pet sitters insurance in place to cover unforeseen events.

3. Do get a Pet Sitter’s CRB check, if you offer a dog walking service, pet sitting in the pet’s home or a pop in service and you hold keys you will need to have a CRB check done to show customers that you do not have a criminal record.

4. Do have a paperwork storage system, ideally a Pet Sitters Database, storing your clients and pet’s information is a must as it is very likely that they will come back to you time and time again so a good filing system is essential, they should contain information like vet details, medication and notes on the pets behaviour, service required, booking dates, cost, etc.

5. Do write up a Pet Sitter’s Business Plan, A business plan is a document that sums up your business – its aims, strategies, market and financial forecasts. It will help you gauge exactly what services you will offer pet owners. How much to charge and how well your business is doing. You should make sure it’s short, clear and well presented, and review it regularly as your business progresses.

6. Do run a Marketing Campaign, having a good flyer is key to bringing in new customers, these should be distributed to local veterinarian surgeries, pet shops and grooming parlours. Having a website and Google AdWords campaign is a great idea and shows professionalism. Some recognised membership organisations offer pet owners a post code search facility that retrieves the member pet sitter’s details this will also bring you in more work.

7. Do join a pet sitting membership organisation, if you are serious about running your own pet sitting service you should join a membership organisation who will give you help and advice when you need it, but more importantly it will give your customers peace of mind as it gives your business credibility and professionalism.