Dog Daycare, Pet Sitter, or Dog Walking Services
Picking a Dog Daycare Facility
There are over 40,000 licensed doggie daycare, boarding, dog parks or businesses catering to dogs such as dog walking services in the United States. These services are in demand by busy professionals who can't don't want to ask "who let the dog out," vacationing families and empty nesters, those who prefer a tired dog to a bored one, or anyone with places to go, but no one (competent) to keep their beloved pet. If you find yourself in need of one of these dog-based services, review the following guidelines to help ensure you select the right business or individual for your precious pooch.
Dog daycare facilities represent the new trend in pampering and placating man and woman's best friend. These facilities offer a variety of services including staff play areas and boarding. Often these facilities offer a cage free environment where the dogs can run, jump and socialize.
Before placing your pet in this type of facility, consider your dog's personality. Is he or she aggressive with other dogs or people? Is he or she too timid and likely to snap or bite out of fear? If so, this may not represent the idea care solution for you. Also, consider the age and physical condition of your dog. Does the facility have a separate area for dogs not able to interact with the more lively clients. If you decide, to employ the services of a daycare facility, perform an initial telephone assessment with several and then plan visits to your front runners. Consider the following checklist when picking your daycamp..
The facility should have enough room for the dogs to play and should be divided in several areas. There should be separate play areas for smaller dogs and timid dogs. Ask how many dogs they typically host and if there is a maximum number they will allow. A 3,000 sq. ft. business can handle at least 35 dogs.
Some daycamps will have both indoor and outdoor play areas with toys and other treats such as small wading pools. The outdoor area may be common or may be connected to a separate kennel run. Both indoor and outdoor areas should be secure. Ideally, a homesick or rebellious dog determined to run home to mama, should have to navigate at least two gates.
If you have a small or toy breed, make sure he/she will be kept with smaller dogs. And ensure the staff is familiar wth breed pedigree traits and uses common sense when placing dogs. For example, a Pomeranian housed with two Beagles was mauled to death even though the Beagles were considered small enough (by weight) to share quarters with the five pound dog. The Beagles, sporting dogs, viewed the smaller dog as a play toy or prey. Make sure your facility employs common sense and constant supervision.
The facility should require an initial orientation with your pet. You both need to ascertain if this is a good fit. Typically, they will have you bring Fido in for a one- to two-hour assessment to gauge how he/she plays with the other dogs.
While they are checking out your pet, do your own sniffing. Is the facility clean? Do you smell any odors? Dogs will be dogs, but any reliable daycare will promptly dispose and disinfect. Ideally, the dogs should be able to relieve themselves outdoors; however, a few facilities do not have outdoor access so the dogs are encouraged to use an indoor area to potty. View the other dogs at play; do they appear content and happy?
The facility should require current vaccination records for all customers. If they don't ask you to provide this information, look for another facility. In addition, they may only accept neutered or spayed dogs and they (and you) may prefer that your dog has current flea/tick protection.
The staff should also inquire about any obvious boo boos your dog sports. Don't get insulted if they inquire about that scabbed paw. You wouldn't want your dog exposed to any contagious conditions, would you?
The staff should be experienced and, obviously, dog whisperer wannabes. They should greet you and your dog warmly. Watch how they interact with the dogs and promote a good play environment. The dogs should flock to them, but also acknowledge them as in control.
Inquire if the dogs are supervised at all times when in joint play. Ask how they handle aggressive dogs? Are they immediately removed permanently or returned after a time out. Ask if they have ever refused to accept a dog and why?
Of course, any responsible business owner will have insurance. But don't hesitate to double-check. Consider your own insurance; would you be liable if your dog injures another pet or human?
These business have established operational hours as well as determined drop off and pick up periods of time. Make sure these hours will mesh with your schedule.
These facilities may offer full day or half day playtime, overnight boarding, grooming and other amenities. Some facilities operate as large franchises such as Camp Bow Wow with certified camp counselors, daily walks and shuttle services. Some facilities such as Camp Bow Wow have a locations throughout the United States and even offer video monitors so you can view your playing or sleeping pet via your computer.
If you plan on boarding your dog, review their boarding options.
Most facilities offer a boarding cage or room. Inquire into the size and whether it is an individual or group area. Some rooms or suites offer pampering extras such as in room TVs (yep, just like the hotels), raised beds and special treats. You usually have the option of bringing your pet's bedding, toys and food. Most boarding facilities will administer meds if needed. Inquire if you can bring your pet's own food and bedding.
An illness or accident can crop up anytime. Your pet's daycare should have a good relationship with several vets. Ask what the protocol is if your pet appears ill. If you don't trust the answer, look elsewhere.
How often are the dogs allowed out? Some have a connecting kennel where they exit and enter at will. Make sure your dog will be allowed at least 3 daily potty breaks.
Pet Walker and Pet Sitter
Some dogs prefer to stay in their own home environment. If your pet's personality, age or physical condition suggests doggie daycare is unacceptable, consider expanded in home care or a dog walker when you have to be away.
Of course, you will want to obtain references since this contractor may have access to your home. Make sure they have insurance and are bonded. Ask them if they have ever been bitten by a dog they were walking, caring for or even another dog. Inquire if they have a limit on the number of dogs they walk. Ask how they react if a strange dog approaches the dog(s) they are walking.
Generally, this service provides 15-30 minute strolls or an hour walk. They may walk your pet in the neighborhood along an established route or take them to a local park or dog park. Again, you will want to have an initial orientation with the walker to see how they interact with your pet. Suggest, accompanying them on a walk so your dog is familiar with them.
Like a babysitter, this professional will watch your dog when you have to be away for business or vacation or other reason. Pet sitters may stay overnight or may simply stop in to feed, medicate, play with and/or walk their charge two to three times daily. These services will care for additional pets such as a cats for a small additional fee. (yes, cats are independent, but you still have to feed them). Once again references, insurance, experience and dog behavioral skills are vital. Most services require the garage door code or key.
Check that if the pet sitter belongs to a professional organization such as Pet Sitters International or the National Association of Pet Sitters for professional accreditation. They should be bonded and have liability insurance.
If you want to take your dog to the park, but want to avoid the joggers and picnics, consider a dog park. Your pet need not be on leash in most of these fun, play areas. Parks amenities range from simple turf and walking paths to elaborate manicured lawns with play stations, wash areas and swimming pond. Dogs and owners can roam at will. However, consider your dog's temperament and condition before releasing them into this unstructured environment.
Since dogs are not leashed, aggressive dogs may have the opportunity to attack and injure another dog before the owner can intervene. Most parks operate safely; however, there have been incidences where dogs have been injured or killed in this environment. Visit the park before paying the fee to ascertain how it operates and deals with potential dangerous dogs. Pet owners are responsible for picking up after their animal and you may be liable if your dog injures another.
If you decide on a dog park, consider the following:
- Is there a limit to the number of dogs allowed? Is there a limit to the number of dogs per individual allowed. For example, you may pay $50.00 for an annual pass to the park, only to find that this park is a favorite of a dog walker who brings in six dogs daily.
- Is the area well lit and secure with strong, double gates? Is fencing adequate for agile jumpers and persistent diggers.
- Are up-to-date animal vaccinations required for entrance?
- Does the park require driver license or other information from the owners?
- Are Park rules posted and how are they enforced?
- Are there certain times of day, when the dog population increases or drops?
- Are there water fountains for thirsty dogs and shaded areas for rest if necessary?
Half day - $10-$20/ Full Day - $15-25
Boarding - $35 - $45 a night (prices include daycare at some facilities)
Extra services are available ala carte such as grooming, nail trims, facility walks, bathing, doggie treats, and upgraded lodging.
Per Visit - $10-$15
Overnight - $30-$55 (includes feeding and walks) Additional pets at reduced rates or no charge)
Day Pass - $5-10
Annual Pass - $40-$150
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