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.

Cooking Safety for the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing, and with one huge feast behind us and the next family gathering just a few weeks away, we decided it’s time to share some important cooking safety tips.

  • Never leave the stove unattended. Even if it’s a turkey that’ll take three hours, make sure someone is keeping an eye on things at all times.

    pet friendly apartments
    Keep us out of the kitchen with a baby gate.
  • Ventilate by opening windows if you don’t have a range hood. Even just a cracked window can make all the difference.
  • Keep kids and pets out of the kitchen. If don’t already have a baby gate for your own little ones, invest in one for when you have young guests to make sure they don’t wander into the kitchen and start turning knobs on the stove.
  • Read the recipe first. You’ve probably glanced at the ingredients list before heading to the grocery store, but if you’re trying a new recipe, it’s always a good idea to read the recipe in full before getting started.
  • Don’t do too much at once—prep what you can the day before. When you have too many pots to watch at once, things can get overwhelming and messy. To keep things simple and organized, mix dry ingredients for baked goods the day before, and make whatever else you can ahead of time as well.
  • Recruit an assistant—but not five. Having an extra pair of hands in the kitchen is nice, but too many people can create chaos. You might put someone to work chopping or measuring ingredients in the dining room, but make sure the kitchen doesn’t get too crowded.
  • Do it potluck style and instruct each guest to provide something. To keep things organized and make sure no one brings doubles, post a list online somewhere for everyone to edit. You can do this through comments on a Facebook event, in a shared Google Doc, or any other web app that’s equal to the task.

Make yourself at home with window treatments

When you first move into a place, one of your first steps in nesting should be to put up window treatments. They reduce echo, make a place look cared for and lived-in, and even make your home more energy efficient.

Window Treatments
Not all window treatments have to be exclusively for privacy and blocking out the sun. Even simple sheers can add a homey feel.

Lots of rentals don’t have blinds as a standard feature, so you’ll want to put up something in a hurry for privacy on that first night, but remember that this is a temporary stopgap. Unless you’re living in a college dorm, it’s just plain tacky to use a blanket or flag as a curtain, especially when decent window treatments aren’t that expensive.

  1. Start with is blinds. If you have a pet or a child, you’ll want to stay away from corded blinds to keep your loves safe. Also, you’ll want to know the rules about whether you’re even allowed to drill into the walls and window frames to mount blinds. Chances are, it’s not allowed or you’d have to pay the maintenance man to do it. Luckily, Redi Shade has your back! They make cordless blinds that you trim, peel, and stick. Now, we are a bit skeptical as to how long they stay put and how annoying it will be to clean the glue residue off the window frame once the blinds are removed, but color us intrigued!
  2. Next: drapes. If you’re lucky, you’re renting from a place like Alvern Gardens, where each window comes with its own curtain rod. If not, you’ll need to buy those. Luckily there are sturdy temporary options. If your window frame isn’t conducive to spring-loaded rods, you can use Command hooks to mount your rod instead. Now, you’ll want to measure your window not just for fitting the rod but for finding the right size curtains. Floor-to-ceiling drapes in a heavy fabric lend luxurious drama, but you don’t want the bottoms to drag across the floor.
  3. Finally, maintenance. Now that you have blinds and drapes, you’ll want to clean them regularly. Give blinds a good dusting every week or so, and take drapes down once or twice a year to wash them. We recommend taking drapes to a laundromat with commercial sized washers and dryers to get them fully and properly clean.

Excellent tips for using baking soda

Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
Stinky pet? Try baking soda!

We’re all about the amazing fizzing cleaning powers of baking soda mixed with vinegar, but there are more uses for baking soda than we could have imagined! Check out this article for some truly excellent tips. Our personal favorite is the pet odor control method of sprinkling your furry friend with baking soda, letting it sit for 15 minutes, then brushing them clean. You’ll need a well-behaved pet to pull it off, but we bet it works miracles.

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.