6 episodes

Every week, SoulPup - Tips & Tricks for New Dog Owners features expert advice to help make every dog’s house a forever home. Whether you need advice on gear, dog food or a troublesome training issue, consider this a judgement-free zone to learn more about life with a dog! Email your questions to info@soulpup.com today.

SoulPup: Tips & Tricks for Dog Lovers Morieka Johnson, SoulPup Host

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Every week, SoulPup - Tips & Tricks for New Dog Owners features expert advice to help make every dog’s house a forever home. Whether you need advice on gear, dog food or a troublesome training issue, consider this a judgement-free zone to learn more about life with a dog! Email your questions to info@soulpup.com today.

    Ready to Open Your Home to a Foster Dog? – SoulPup E6

    Ready to Open Your Home to a Foster Dog? – SoulPup E6

    SoulPup Episode 6: Why Fostering a Dog Can Save Lives

    Have you toyed with the idea of opening your home to a dog — but don’t know if you or your family are ready for the commitment?

    Do you already HAVE a dog or cat and wonder whether they will accept a furry new addition?

    Well, this is the show for you. SoulPup offers a judgment free zone where you can hear what it takes to raise happy, healthy dogs. In this episode, we talk to Diane Stapley, a busy executive who regularly opens her heart and her home to foster animals through Austin Pets Alive. Diane shares what’s REALLY involved in fostering a dog — how you can help save a life, and she also shares tips to help other pets adjust to the furry new arrival.

    Diane Stapley fostered a cute pup named Dot Warner, who battled several medical challenges before finding her forever home. 

    Plan ahead. It takes a time commitment to open your heart, home and schedule to an adoptable animal. If you already have pets, it also means taking time to get your fur kids adjusted to the new arrival.

    Understand the financial commitment. Many shelters and rescue organizations will provide basic supplies such as flea and tick preventatives. Items that you provide — pet food, leashes, trips to the vet — can be tax deductible.

    Small risk, maximum reward: Fostering helps an adoptable dog get adopted faster by placing it in a home environment where there’s structure. Stanley notes that the transition from a shelter helps dogs adjust faster to home life and reduces the rate of return due to a lack of fit.Yes, it can take time for dogs and cats to adjust. But it truly does make a difference in the life of a dog. Seeing an animal that has been orphaned, abused or critically ill return take a turn and thrive can be incredibly rewarding. Most importantly, every time you open your home to a foster dog, you create space in a shelter for another dog, saving a life.

    Work your social network: Once you do open your home, share frequent updates on social media to keep potential adopters apprised of the dog’s personality, fun quirks and other escapades.

    Want to try fostering?

    Contact your local shelter and ask about the process. You may need to complete paperwork and schedule a home check.

    Be open about your family dynamics. They are your best advocates to find a dog that will be a good match for your home and lifestyle.

    Be sure to set and maintain a routine. Dogs thrive when there’s a set schedule. This truly helps them adjust to home life and makes the transition easier in a forever home.

    Be prepared to share frequent updates to help the dog get adopted. You may also need to transport the dog to adoption events.

    If you have pets, make sure vaccinations are up to date and slowly introduce the new arrival. Separation is not a bad thing, particularly at meal time when some dogs can become possessive. Diane’s approach of treating fosters like guests is good advice.

    Encourage socialization. Diane welcomes friends to visit foster dogs. This helps them socialize and get acclimated to new situations, increasing their chance for adoption.

    • 33 min
    People Food that Dogs Should AVOID - SoulPup E5

    People Food that Dogs Should AVOID - SoulPup E5

    E5 - People Foods Dogs Should Avoid

    There's a rite of passage for every dog owner. It's that moment when you have to pry your dog's mouth open and fish out something that it shouldn’t have.  In fact, it happened to me just the other day when I had to pull an M&M out of my dog's mouth.

    Yes, there is that moment when you debate whether to dive in or just let them what they found. Since it started with me catching him chewing, I wasnt sure what he had and and wanted to play it safe. That’s ALWAYS preferable to a vet visit.

    So in this episode, we focus on seemingly harmless people food that dogs should AVOID because they could get very sick or even die.

    People food dogs should AVOID

    Grapes and raisins

    They seem so harmless, and green grapes are actually my favorite snack. But consuming grapes and raisins can cause kidney damage and even sudden kidney failure in dogs. When I do have grapes at home, I make sure to keep the bowl far from my dog’s reach. That means, I avoid sitting bowls on low coffee tables or on the floor during tv time. It's simply not worth the risk. And if you have small children, you know that when they snack -- treats land EVERYWHERE. So be extra cautious.

    If you listened to Episode 2 of this podcast, you know that we featured trainer Rachael Maso with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.org). Rachel offered some excellent tips about dog-proofing your home. My favorite tips was to regularly check things out from a dog-eye level. That’s a good way to find potential dangers. In the case of those M&Ms, my nephews had paid a visit and the candy fell under a couch. No surprise that the dog would sniff out goodies. So the next time I have little kids visiting, I’ll be sure to sweep the house from Louie’s eye level.  

    Garlic and onions

    These are some of my favorite ingredients in savory dishes. But garlic and onions -- members of the allium family of plants -- can cause stomach upset for dogs. This means, avoid giving your dogs table scraps of goodies like salsa or pasta coated with pesto sauce. No one wants to clean up after a sick pet, especially if it’s from something preventable.


    It seems like common sense to have your dog avoid alcohol. Again, this can be an issue when you have people over and beverages are within a dog’s reach. Be sure to exercise caution and keep beverages out of reach. This means you don’t leave an icy cold beer can on the floor where it can tip over. Same for those red SOLO cups filled with alcoholic concoctions. If you have guests visiting for cocktail hour, play it safe and give your dog some kennel time with a good treat. Consuming alcohol can cause vomiting, stomach upset and even death.


    Again, watch where you sit those coffee mugs and soda cans. Caffeinated products contain a substance called methylxanthine, which may fuel your day, but can wreak havoc on a dog’s system. The list of side effects includes vomiting and diarrhea -- which is more than enough for me. Consuming caffeine also can cause excessive thirst, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and even death.


    Most dog owners know the dangers of chocolate and keep it away. But life happens -- just like with my dog and the M&Ms. Make sure you keep candy out of reach -- let guests know that chocolate is off limits -- and try to be extra vigilant during the holidays when chocolatey treats are most popular. In the US that means (February - around Valentine's Day, April - during Easter, and then entire month of October, which kicks off the holiday season with Thanksgiving in November on through to Christmas in December. gifts.

    Health hazzards are similar to consuming caffeine. Note: Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk or white chocolate because it has higher levels of methylxanthines.


    • 9 min
    Why Daily Dog Walks are So Important – SoulPup E3

    Why Daily Dog Walks are So Important – SoulPup E3

    SoulPup Episode 3 - Why Dog Walks are So Important

    Want a well-behaved dog? Take time to fit in at least two dog daily walks around your neighborhood. Dog pro Benetta Green of Gone to the Dogs Pet Care shares the benefits of daily dog walks and shares tips to find a reputable dog walker.

    A walk is more than using the bathroom. Daily walks stimulate the dog’s mind, it offers time to stop and smell the world, and it burns energy, to keep them out of mischief if they don’t get proper exercise.

    Need a dog walker or pet sitter? Ask for referrals. Anyone can call themselves a dog walker; all you need is a car. Green suggests looking for someone who has experience working with dogs of all ages and sizes and can handle your pet’s needs. As an added protection, look for someone who is bonded and insured. For a referral, check out Pet Sitters International, a professional organization for pet sitters. Green is a member of PSI, she’s trained in first aid and a member of the Georgia Network of Professional Pet Sitters. On that initial visit to meet your dog, watch how dog walkers interact and make sure everyone seems comfortable.  

    Be upfront about your dog’s needs, particularly if there’s a behavior issue. Whether your dog simply needs a potty break because you work long hours or they have behavior challenges, such as being reactive on the leash, be honest about your dog’s needs. This is the best way to ensure a good fit. For example, if you have a 90-pound dog, look for someone who can handle large dogs in various circumstances. Professional dog walkers will not necessarily charge more if your dog is reactive, or super large, or has behavior challenges, they just need to know and be prepared.

    A typical visit can be customized. Green usually does midday walks that involve letting the dog get some air, take a potty break and perhaps eat a bit of kibble. High-energy dogs may even need a run or some focused play time.

    Get the right tools. Discuss the preferred gear for walking your dog. Smaller dogs do best with a harness to avoid slipping out of their collar. Dogs that pull also may need different gear.

    When do dogs need a daily break? For first-time dog owners trying to find the right potty time, Green recommends setting a feeding schedule and sticking to it. This helps you look for clues when the dog needs to potty. Once you crack that “code,” you can work with family members or a dog walker to establish the best potty time.

    All the best!

    Do you have a show recommendation or question for our family of experts? Enter it in the comments section or email us at info@soulpup.com. (We welcome audio files.)

    • 11 min
    How to Take Perfect Pet Pics – SoulPup E4

    How to Take Perfect Pet Pics – SoulPup E4

    SoulPup Episode 4 - How to Take Perfect Pet Pics

    I'm awful at taking pictures of Louie. Fortunately, Atlanta pet photographer Leesia Teh offered tips to take stellar portraits. Your dog may just become the next Instagram star!

    Look to the light. If you catch your pet doing something cute, try to capture the action near an open window. That’s the most flattering light, and you reduce the chance for blurry photos, particularly with black dogs.

    Black dogs require additional lighting magic. Teh suggests taking black dogs outside, preferably in open shade, so that you can capture their eyes as well as the detail in their coat.

    Get on the dog's level. Don’t be afraid to lie down on the floor or kneel next to your dog, then position the camera really low. Be patient. Look for opportunities to engage and make eye contact. A lot of times, dogs don’t like the camera up in their face -- even if it’s a phone. If you just lower it a little bit and make eye contact with them, it can really help. Once you regain that connection, slowly raise the camera again.

    Keep toys handy. Treats or squeaky toys will help keep dogs engaged. Use what works!

    You can get a decent photo with a camera phone. Although a Canon DSLRs is her primary tool of choice, Teh says that you can get great portraits with camera phones, especially outdoors.

    Need inspiration? Check out Leesia's stellar portraits, or follow some of our Insta favs: @dogsofinstagram, @Eggnogthebulldog, @dogsofinstagram, @ohhelloowen, @smilingbrinks, and @thegraypotato_. (Prepare to be sucked in for hours.)

    All the best!

    Do you have a show recommendation or question for our family of experts? Enter it in the comments section or email us at info@soulpup.com. (We welcome audio files.)




    • 20 min
    Training Tips Revealed – SoulPup E2

    Training Tips Revealed – SoulPup E2

    Episode 2: Training Tips

    Trainer Rachael Maso with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.org), offers tips to tackle common training issues.

    Before you bring the dog home: Prepare your home for the new arrival. Young dogs explore the world with their mouths. Remove the temptation objects that may be dangerous -- or valuable -- by getting down on all fours and viewing your home at a dog’s eye level. This may give you a new perspective on loose cords, trash cans without lids, chewable shag rugs.

    Take it slow. Bond with the dog. Offer treats and let dogs explore and settle in before you start trying to teach basic manners.

    Set ground rules as a family. Determine who will feed, and walk the dog. Dogs like routine, so structure is incredibly important. For example, it’s important to have clearly defined times and tasks such as feeding times and potty times. Maso also notes that everyone should play a role in training the dog as a form of bonding with the new arrival.

    Enroll in a basic obedience course.

    House training requires routine. Sometimes shelter dogs are returned through no fault of their own, and they’ve mastered potty training. To kick start good behavior, Maso recommends maintaining a routine. Take adult dogs out every THREE hours during the early days, which may be more frequent than you normally would let an adult dog out. Make sure potty breaks happen in the SAME area again and again. The moment they go, have a treat ready to reward that behavior. It really needs to be immediate for dogs to make the connection between going outside and getting a reward.

    Create a safe space for the dog. A crate or confined space is considered the safe space when your dog -- or you -- need a retreat or a break. Use this space sparingly, just for a couple of hours at a time, when you know your dog has gotten proper exercise and has recently used the bathroom. This helps the dog settle down in your home and take breaks from exploring. Don’t use the crate as punishment. Instead, foster feelings of safety by feeding dogs in that space. Add a comfy dog bed or treats. Make sure that, every time they walk past the crate, there’s a nice surprise so that they don’t always associate it with being alone. Dogs don’t like going to the bathroom where they eat. The more frequently you feed in the crate, the less likely they are to have an accident in that space. This helps with house training well.

    Inappropriate chewing? Reinforce the idea of “condoned chews” by investing in safe items for the dog in place of your shoes or other valuables that may cause injury. Your vet or pet store can offer options. Be sure to actively monitor dogs when they are chewing on a new toy to avoid the risk for choking. Condoned chew toys help with boredom, provide mental stimulation and may even relieve some of the separation anxiety or other issues tied to the transitioning into a new home. With puppies, chew toys can provide pain relief caused by relieving incoming teeth while reducing destruction. If you do find that dogs keep returning to one “unapproved” item, try finding a chew toy that offers the same mouth feel. Target that need and they will be less likely to chew up your home.

    Excessive barking can be tackled. Dogs do acclimate to the sounds of a new home over time. Even if they bark initially, try to stay calm. (This, too, shall pass.) Try downloading a white noise app and put it near the front door or other source of noise to block the sound and give your dog time to settle in. If your dog is barking because it’s fearful of noises in the hallway or outside, giving food or treats at this time may help the dog associate odd sounds with yummy treats. Set up treat stations and be prepared. Over time, the dog may wait for the sound to happen and hope that treats rain down.

    • 29 min
    Veterinary Tips to Protect Your Dog’s Health – SoulPup E1

    Veterinary Tips to Protect Your Dog’s Health – SoulPup E1

    SoulPup Episode 1: Tips to Protect Your Dog’s Health

    When you bring home a dog, veterinary care is one of the most important components to raising a happy, healthy dog. Avoid sticker shock with veterinary visits with tips from Dr. Annie Price of Ormewood Animal Hospital in metro Atlanta.

    BEFORE you schedule a veterinary appointment. 

    Whether it’s a puppy or an older rescue dog, schedule that initial vet visit within the first week or two of bringing your dog home. Bring any vaccination records or other info regarding the dog’s history. Also, it pays to take note of any behavioral or health issues you may notice. Share any questions or concerns during your vet visit.

    New to the area or in need of a veterinarian? Ask friends for referrals. Dr. Price also suggests checking with a local referral service. For a list of accredited hospitals across the country, visit the American Animal Hospital Association. To find a board-certified veterinary expert in your are, visit Vetspecialists.com and enter your ZIP code.

    Prepare to vaccinate your dog.

    While the rabies vaccination is required for dogs, your dog’s lifestyle may mean that some other shots are not necessary. For example, a Yorkie that doesn’t socialize with any other dogs and only potties on a pee pad can probably skip the Bordetella vaccine, which is typically required for dogs that attend dog parks, boarding facilities or doggie daycare centers. Canine influenza is another vaccine to consider if your dog frequently socializes with four-legged friends. Talk to your vet about your dog’s risk factor. As for the rabies shot, it’s available in a three-year dosage. Puppy vaccinations are administered from six to about 17 weeks of age so discuss vaccinations that may already have been administered and prepare to protect your pup,  particularly if you purchased from a breeder.

    There are benefits to spaying/neutering a dog.

    If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, expect the vet to make this suggestion. (For those who are unaware, spaying means removing a female dog’s ovaries and uterus. Neutering removes a dog’s testicles and cuts off blood supply to the vas deferens. Both procedures prevent dogs from producing puppies.) Spaying a dog before she reaches her first heat also can reduce her chances of developing breast cancer.  Dr. Price notes that, with neutering, dogs are less likely to mark areas of the house, and 90 percent of dogs hit by cars are intact male dogs (probably in search of a girlfriend).

    Protect those pearly whites.

    Dental cleaning sessions at the vet’s office can lead to the biggest “sticker shock” among dog owners. Dr. Price points out some of what goes into an actual cleaning for dogs or cats: The vet is cleaning involves polishing each tooth and cleaning under the gum line. This thorough cleaning can generate a lot of saliva and bacteria. Needless to say, scaling a pet’s teeth is not a pleasant experience and requires the animal to be fully anesthetized. Dr. Price says anesthesia is typically the biggest chunk of your bill. Before anesthetizing, most vets also will run blood tests to assess whether your pet is healthy enough to handle this procedure. During dental cleanings, Dr. Price says vets also monitor things like cardiac functions and oxygen levels.

    Regular dental hygiene at home is one of the best ways to reduce extensive veterinary procedures. Dr. Price advocates regularly brushing your dog’s teeth. Start as early as possible to get them used to having their mouths handled. Also, do not use human toothpaste. It can be toxic to dogs. Instead, visit your local pet store for a dog version. She also recommends avoiding hard chew such as deer antlers. She has had to conduct root canals and repair several cracked teeth due to dogs chewing tough items. Instead, opt for rubbery style chews.

    • 32 min

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