Keep dogs’ paws safe this winter

As most dog owners know, regular walks and outdoor playtime are hard on paws in winter. Here are some tips for keeping your pup’s paws safe.

  • Don’t leave your dog outside unattended, even in a secured area that they’re used to roaming during warm weather. Keeping a close eye on your pooch is key to making sure the cold isn’t taking its toll.

    Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
    Just because I’m fluffy doesn’t mean I’m impervious to cold. Keep me safe in winter!
  • Shorten time spent outdoors, especially in extreme cold. Obviously, the less time exposed, the better. If you’re on a walk and your dog starts showing signs of being too cold (shaking his paws when he picks them up or even limping), it’s time to turn around and go home—whether he did his business or not.
  • Gear up with a coat and booties, if your dog will tolerate it. Some dogs can’t stand wearing clothes, and some don’t even need them, but if your dog has a wiry or thin coat with just a single layer of fur, it needs some protective gear. Even if she’ll only wear booties on her hind paws, it’s still better than nothing in extreme cold.
  • Stick to the grass instead of salted pavement. The salt that’s essential to keeping sidewalks safe for human pedestrians can seriously hurt a dog’s paws, so keep your dog walking in grassy areas, and if possible/necessary, carry her over salted patches of pavement.
  • Clean your dog’s paws as soon as you get back inside. Use a clean towel to wipe down all four paws, thaw out any clumps of snow that might have gotten caught in long fur, and check between the pads of each paw to make sure no salt has gotten stuck.
  • Don’t allow your dog to lick its paws. Excessive licking can cause sores (and stinky feet!), but it’s also a sign that your dog’s paws hurt. If you notice him licking, give his paws a closer look and make sure they’re clean and  not injured in any way.

Pet sitters, kennels, and doggie day cares of the South Hills

Looking for a pet sitter or kennel to take care of your fur baby while you go on vacation? There are plenty of options in the South Hills for these services and more. From pet taxis to dog walking while you’re at work, these are the top hits for getting pet care in the area.

Camp Bow Wow

If you’ve driven or ridden the T through the South Hills, you’ve probably seen Camp Bow Wow on Killarney Drive (they also have locations in Greentree, Highland Park, and the North Hills, all of which appear in Yelp’s top 10 for pet sitters and boarders in Pittsburgh). It’s a day camp for dogs that also offers overnight stays and obedience training. Dogs stay in “cabins” with beds and blankets and get access to indoor and outdoor play areas. You can even check on your pup while you’re at work or on vacation with the Online Camper Cams. Plus, you can have your dog groomed while it’s there.

pet friendly apartments
Going on vacation as a pet owner doesn’t have to be a hassle. There are plenty of pet care providers throughout Pittsburgh.

You might not think of a dog camp as a place to adopt a dog, but Camp Bow Wow also fosters adoptable dogs. So if you’re on the market for a furry friend, consider checking them out.

The Dog Stop

The Dog Stop advertises itself as an “all-inclusive dog care facility.” As their name suggests, they only offer services for dogs, but those services are indeed all-inclusive. They have their own doggie day care and grooming services, but they also offer boarding while owners go on vacation, dog walking, in-home dog care, and training.

It seems that, because they’re dog specialists, they offer more specialized services. For example, their in-home care ranges from simple pet sitting to in-home obedience training. They also have a pet taxi and a concierge that delivers food, treats, and toys right to your home.

Fetch! Pet Care

Fetch! is number 4 on Yelp’s top 10 pet sitters in the Pittsburgh area. They offer dog walking as well as routine visits for cats and small caged pets. You can also schedule an “almost overnight” visit where one of their pet sitters visits your pet for 2 hours in the evening and again for an hour in the morning. Their concierge matches your pet with the best sitter for them, and they also offer free consultations for when you’re thinking about hiring one of their sitters.

Just like Camp Bow Wow offers services both while you’re on vacation and while you’re at work, Fetch provides pet care when your pet needs it.

Park Your Paws Pet Care

Park Your Paws  offers in-home boarding where a background checked and insured pet sitter stays with your pet while you’re away, or your pet stays in the pet sitter’s home. If that’s not your style, they also offer potty breaks and walks. You could even hire a regular dog walker through Park Your Paws to let your pooch out while you’re at work. If you’re leaving for vacation and are strapped for time, Park Your Paws also has a pet taxi service for taking your pet to the kennel.

The service employs pet sitters who are experienced with cats, dogs, bunnies, ferrets, birds, reptiles, and more.

If you’re curious, the company offers free meet-and-greets between you, your pet, and the pet sitter before you sign up for services.

Park Your Paws offers many of the same services as Fetch!, but what sets them apart from Fetch! is their Doggie Day Care, a service much like Camp Bow Wow and The Dog Stop.

Looking for a pet friendly apartment in Pittsburgh? Contact Prudential Realty Company to find out about their pet friendly communities throughout the area.

Put a leash on it

As most dog owners know, leash laws vary from place to place and the rules about whether your dog is allowed off leash in a certain area or not aren’t always clear. When in doubt, keep your dog on its leash.

Even dogs that are well trained and obedient when running off leash can become unpredictable in new situations. Some of the worst areas to let your dog off the leash are high traffic areas where cars and people, some of them with other dogs, pass by frequently. This area might be right outside your front door and your dog might think of it as an extension of its territory, but that doesn’t mean it will stay put no matter what. A new dog or a new person might come by and provoke a reaction. Even if your dog wants to run off just to say hi, it’s still running off and out of your control. Especially if it turns out that the other dog isn’t friendly, things could get ugly. Another scenario to consider: what if your dog wants to greet a person who is afraid of dogs? You might assure them that your dog is friendly and won’t hurt them, but that’s like trying to tell Indiana Jones that the snakes in the pit don’t mean him harm. As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to not only keep your dog safe, but to make sure it respects other animals and people who don’t want to interact with it.

Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
Even the best behaved dog can have a lapse in obedience. Keep your dog safe by keeping it on its leash.

So where is it OK to let your dog roam off leash? Your local dog park is the ideal place. The area is fenced in so Fido can’t run far, and the whole point of it is to have a safe space for friendly dogs to socialize. Many dog friendly apartment communities like Alvern Gardens and Cloverleaf Village have dog parks for their residents to enjoy. These parks are designed for those who don’t have a fenced in yard of their own to give their dogs exercise in a safe place. So why even bother letting your dog off the leash anywhere else?

Consider this as well: if you live in an apartment community, your landlord might have rules about keeping your dog on a leash when walking the community grounds. Abiding the rules of your community is important not just because the rules are in place for a reason, but because breaking the rules has consequences. For example, if you let your dog off the leash in and your landlord has prohibited this, you could lose the privilege of having a pet in the apartment at all. You could even be evicted for breaking the terms of your lease.

Whether you already have a dog or are thinking about adopting one, familiarize yourself with the leash laws of your county and state, as well as any ordinances that might be in place in your municipality. If you do choose to let your dog off its leash, always have the leash handy to reel your dog back under your control if needed.

FAQ: Do you have a gym?

Here at Alvern Gardens, visitors frequently ask if we have a gym. We don’t, but we do have a pool and a dog park. We’re also close to several gyms and yoga studios. So for the convenience of current and prospective residents, we’ve rounded up a list of places close by where our residents can get their exercise.

Gyms

fitness
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise, but if you’re looking for something more, there are plenty of gyms and yoga studios to choose from in the area. (Residents of Alvern Gardens Apartments can enjoy their summer poolside for a $10 season pass.)

Fitness 19 seems to be one of the most affordable gyms in the area, and Alvern Gardens residents frequently receive mailers with special offers.

Healthtrax is an affordable gym in Bethel Park, and based on their website, a friendly place for people of all  fitness levels who are looking to get healthy and stay healthy.

We have not one, but two LA Fitness clubs close by. One is in Bethel Park, and the other is in Bridgeville. Both offer a variety of amenities for about $30/month.

Club One Fitness, reportedly the best gym in Pittsburgh, has a South Hills location on Castle Shannon Blvd. They’re pricier but it looks like they might be worth it.

If you’re looking for a 24-hour gym, consider Snap Fitness in South Park. If you join before the end of the month, you’ll get 50% off!

Yoga

Because there are quite a few places to do yoga around here, we thought we’d round up some of the most affordable, convenient options.

The Mt. Lebanon Public Library hosts a free weekly yoga class Wednesday evenings. Participants don’t have to register, but they do have to bring all their own equipment.

Health Thru Yoga is the closest studio to Alvern Gardens (walking distance!). There are discounts for seniors and T riders as well as free classes for military families. You can even schedule a private session if you’d like.

Yoga Innovations is a little yoga studio in Bethel Park. They offer kids yoga and Mommy and Me Yoga, as well as a pay what you can class for adults every Wednesday evening. The studio welcomes walk-ins, and they even rent mats if you don’t have your own.

Apartments near public transportation in Pittsburgh

Last week, we offered advice on how to find an apartment near public transportation in Pittsburgh. This week, we’re featuring the Prudential Realty communities close to bus and T stops. If you’re on the hunt for a new place, one of these might just be exactly what you’re looking for.

pet friendly apartments
Alvern Gardens has all the amenities you need, including a dog park and a T stop close by.

Alvern Gardens Apartments

Looking for an affordable home for yourself, and maybe for a small pet? Not only is Alvern Gardens mere blocks from the St. Anne’s T stop, it also welcomes cats and dogs under 40 lbs. There’s even a dog park on site as well as a pool. If you’re interesting in Alvern Gardens, email alverngardens@yahoo.com or call 412-561-4663.

The Brett Apartments

The Brett Apartments in Shadyside are close to several bus stops that will take you to Oakland, South Side Works, and beyond. Plus, if you have a car, you could park it in the garage. Call 412-722-8546 for the current availability at the Brett Apartments.

free parking
In addition to its garage, Place Seville has a free, first come, first serve parking lot for its residents.

Cornell Place

For an apartment in a beautiful building complete with stained glass windows close to shopping and dining in Mt. Lebanon, Cornell Place is just what you’re looking for. Located about 10 minutes walk from several bus and T stops, you have plenty of options for getting where you need to go. Call 412-401-9848 for the current availability at Cornell Place.

Place Seville Apartments

covered parking
Some of the Sleepy Hollow Townhouses have a little deck over the garage entrance, so a second car in the driveway can be partially covered as well.

If you’d like to live at the heart of Castle Shannon, Place Seville is the place for you. Located steps from the Overbrook Junction T stop, Place Seville offers 1 and 2 bedroom apartments as well as covered parking for those who have cars. Call 412-563-7256 for the current availability at Place Seville.

Sleepy Hollow Townhouses and Apartments

From 1 bedroom apartments to 3 bedroom townhouses, Sleepy Hollow has the right size home for you. Plus, the Memorial Hall T stop is right down the road. Call 412-401-9848 for the current availability at Sleepy Hollow.

Tips for dog owners living in apartments

In the past year, we’ve offered a few posts about owning a dog in an apartment. Because there were among our most popular posts of the year, we thought we’d round them up in one convenient post.

dog care tips
Keeping flea and tick medication up to date is just another part of being a responsible pet owner.
  • Dog park etiquette is an important part of keeping you and your dog safe while playing with other visitors.
  • How to keep your dog from barking is a key concern in an apartment complex. You want your dog to be a good neighbor.
  • Exercising your dog not only keeps him healthy, it also keeps his energy levels manageable. While this can be challenging when you live in an apartment, it’s not impossible.
  • Dog friendly apartments in Pittsburgh can be hard to find, but Alvern Gardens is one place where pooches under 40 lbs. are welcome and even have access to to a free on-site dog park.

Alvern Gardens now offers virtual tours!

If you’re moving from across the country—or even across the globe—to Pittsburgh, finding an apartment can be challenging. How are you supposed to know what you like if you can’t see it in person? Fear not: Alvern Gardens has the solution!

living room
Here’s an example of the living room and dining room of a 2 bedroom at Alvern Gardens. This floor plan goes for $675/month plus electric.

We got a call about a week ago from a future resident looking to move north from the deep south. The only hitch was that she wouldn’t be able to come up north to tour apartments before making a decision. She asked if we had a virtual tour option, so, on the fly, Chi Quach, assistant property manager set up a Skype account for Alvern Gardens. Using his smartphone’s camera, he gave a tour of our 2 bedroom model and then of the available 1 bedroom apartment.

The tour made it possible for our new resident to see everything almost as if she was there in person rather than miles away in Louisiana. She liked what she saw so much that she submitted an application the same day.  And so, through the power of technology, she found her new home without having to leave her old one.

pool
Spending a lazy day pool side is just one way to enjoy summer. Residents of Alvern Gardens Apartments can enjoy their summer poolside for a $10 season pass.

After the first Skype tour was such a success, we have decided to make it available as an option for all those who can’t make it in person but would like to tour our apartments before applying. Virtual tours make it possible for future residents to tour the available apartment(s), as well as the grounds, pool, and dog park all from the comfort of their couch.

Anyone interested in a virtual tour may send a Skype contact request to alvern1000 and call our leasing office at 412-561-4663 to schedule a tour.

Dog park safety and etiquette

Alvern Gardens is celebrating becoming dog friendly by putting in a dog park. To help our current and prospective residents  prepare for taking their dogs to the park, here are some tips on safety and etiquette.

Dog parks are a wonderful place to give your pet the mental and physical exercise he needs. Dogs big and small need to blow off steam regularly, especially if they live in an apartment. Many dog parks operate under a “use at your own risk” disclaimer, so safety is in the hands of the patrons. In order to enjoy a dog park safely, visitors must follow all the rules posted at the park as well as the following safety tips.

  • Never take your dog to a dog park without knowing how it behaves around other dogs and people. Any dog entering a dog park should already be socialized towards people and other dogs. Your dog should also be fully trained to listen to voice commands. At the bare minimum, your dog should understand and obey: heel, sit, stay, leave it/drop it, and down.

    Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
    Dogs 40 lbs and under are now welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Soon, they will have access to a dog park on the property.
  • Rowdy or aggressive dogs are dangerous to the other dogs in the park as well as your owners, so if you know your dog to be aggressive, don’t take it to a dog park. If your dog becomes aggressive, leave immediately. If another dog is being aggressive, politely point this out to its owner and ask them to leave. As at most dog parks, aggressive behavior is not allowed in the Alvern Gardens Dog Park.
  • Bringing in food or treats for people or dogs is typically prohibited, and it’s certainly not advised. If your dog doesn’t listen without being offered a treat, it’s not ready for the dog park. The sight or smell of food and treats could cause quite a stir, with all the dogs wanting a bite. Plus, even though your dog might not have trouble sharing, you have no idea if any of the other dogs might become aggressive around food or treats. Bringing water, on the other hand, is a good idea. A hydrated dog is a happy dog, especially on a hot day.
  • Dog parks are not a safe place for babies and small children. Only experienced dog owners should enter the park with their pets. Owners should also give their full attention to their dog while in the park. Always have an eye on your furry friend and make sure her behavior is acceptable and that other dogs are also being nice.
  • If it’s your first time taking your dog to the park, consider using a training collar such as one that sprays citronella. Just be sure to practice training with it beforehand so you know how your dog responds when sprayed in punishment. Also consider keeping your dog muzzled for the first visit. There’s nothing wrong with taking safety precautions.
  •  Only take spayed/neutered dogs to the park. Since all pets at Alvern Gardens must be spayed/neutered, this won’t be a problem at the Alvern Dog Park, but at other dog parks, make sure all four-legged visitors are spayed/neutered.
  • Puppies under 4 months should never be taken to a dog park because they haven’t gotten all their vaccinations. All pets at Alvern must have their vaccinations up to date anyway, but if you ever fall behind, don’t take your dog to the park. Also be sure to keep your dog’s flea and tick medication up to date, and don’t take your dog anywhere other than to the vet if it’s sick.
  • Have a phone handy for emergencies only. A dog park is not the place to play around on your phone. Your full attention should be on your dog.
  • Take a walk, then go to the park. If your dog is too full of pent-up energy, the dog park should not be your first stop. Excessive energy can lead to rowdy play, which can lead to fights.
  • Before you enter the dog park, spend a few minutes outside observing the action. If you see any signs of aggression or notice that any of the dogs might be sick or not spayed/neutered, don’t go inside. Never take yourself or your dog into a dangerous situation, including a situation that makes either of you or both of you nervous or uncomfortable. If you feel a park is too crowded or rowdy, don’t go in.

Finally, always be sure to clean up after your dog no matter where you are. Alvern Gardens Dog Park, like most dog friendly areas, will have pet waste stations complete with baggies and trash cans for our residents’ convenience. But all dog owners should invest in a proper pooper scooper and/or a clip-on baggie dispenser.

Interested in a new home for you and your dog under 40 lbs? Contact Alvern Gardens Apartments at alverngardens@yahoo.com or 412-561-4663 for our availability and be sure to ask about current specials.