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Pet Day Care Services

Loving Care for your pets while you are away for a day or a week.

Dog Day Cares
Dog day care centers can be combined with overnight boarding, training, and grooming; can include extras such as canine massage and aromatherapy treatments; and can even offer well-dog checkups through a visiting veterinarian. Some centers sell dog treats, toys, and equipment such as collars and leashes; most have a variety of cost packages to fit the needs of any owner whose dog passes the screening test.

Dog day care centers are generally held in large, open spaces such as a renovated warehouse space that can be divided to provide separate areas for large dogs and for small and medium-sized dogs. Most have an outdoor exercise area as well as large indoor space and a time-out area for dogs that get too rowdy. Smaller centers may employ regular dog walkers.
Some centers provide furniture for dogs to climb on, and many have tunnels, and other equipment for dogs to hide in, run through, or climb on. All have toys for play.

Pet Care Convenience
The Pet Care business is booming internationally. In the United States alone there are upwards of 63.2 million individuals who own a pet, or two. Reports tell us that in America there are roughly 64 million dogs and 76 million cats in households. These numbers are why the Pet Care Business is on an upward swing. It is fast becoming one of the best small business ventures that an individual can undertake. The Pet Care business, along with the Pet Sitting and Kennel businesses, has been ear marked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor as a small business industry that will thrive with the coming years, with Pet Care services located throughout the states.

Pet owners worldwide are breathing a sigh of relief that they have this option for their pet when they work or travel. In the past when an individual would travel for business, or a family would vacation, they would rely on grandparents or relatives to see to the needs of their pets. This is no longer an option for many people. Families don’t always remain in the same community. Statistics show that it is common for parents and siblings to live hundreds of miles apart. Once the family option for pet sitting evaporated, people turned to their neighbors. This was soon found to be a bad option for both the neighbor and pet owner. Neighbors felt used, and the traveler felt as if they were putting the neighbor out by asking the favor.
As for working dog owners, day care has become increasingly popular. Most cats seem to be able to curl up survive the day alone quite happily. Dogs, on the other hand, tend to pine for company. They also have lavatory issues, which cats supplied with litter boxes do not. Dogs are social animals and owners worry about their pet’s daytime loneliness. Thus the dog day care was a natural.

Screening process
Most dog day care centers have policies about preventive medical care for client dogs and require that the dogs pass an entrance exam to assure that aggression or excessive shyness or fear won’t be a problem. Most screening processes involve interviews with the client to find out if the dog is food or toy aggressive, protective of territory, or fearful of humans, followed by evaluation of the dog in various circumstances.
The following are some steps of the screening process you and your dog may encounter:

  • This test involves tugging on the dog’s ears, pulling on its collar, judging its reaction to noise, and checking for food aggression.
  • Introducing new dogs one-on-one with other dogs to see how they interact.
  • Puts a new dog into a small group of four or five compatible dogs.
  • Places a new dog in an empty room while all other dogs outside, then bringing dogs back in one or two at a time to check new dog’s reaction.

The first day for new dogs may be a half-day, so be prepared to make other arrangements for the remainder of that day or start your dog on your day off. Your own dog-owner interaction can give clues to the dog’s attitude and behavior, so day care staff will be watching your own relationship. Medical prerequisites are similar across the board. Most day cares require that dogs have annual vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and Bordatella; are up-to date on rabies inoculations; and are taking preventives for fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Dogs must be spayed or neutered if over six months of age unless special arrangements are made. Some day cares will accept dogs that are not vaccinated annually if the owner has a letter from a veterinarian stating that the dog is on an alternative vaccination schedule.

Day care is not for every dog.
Older dogs may have trouble adjusting to the commotion caused by a dozen or more dogs romping and playing in a large area; shy dogs may be overwhelmed by the crowd; and aggressive dogs have no place in a group setting.
Day care costs may be slightly higher than boarding costs because the ratio of staff to dogs is high so that the dogs may be constantly supervised. Cost packages are generally available for those who want to use the service several days each week or month.

Choosing a day care
Day care for your dog should be chosen as carefully as any other service for a member of the family. The facility should be convenient, the cost within the budget, the staff well trained and tuned in to dog behavior, and the surroundings clean and appropriate for groups of dogs running together. There aren’t enough day cares in most areas for you to visit several and make a choice between programs, but dog owners should visit any nearby facilities and compare services and experience before making a choice.

Things to consider

  • Are the dogs merely supervised or do staff members intervene when play gets too rough?
  • Is the dog required to follow basic obedience commands given by staff members?
  • What type of training do staff members get?
  • Does the facility seem overcrowded?
  • What are the provisions for time outs? Under what circumstances is a dog confined to the time-out area?
  • Does the facility have a security fence around the outdoor area and sufficient protection inside so that dogs cannot reach the outside door? Some facilities have double gates with a buffer area between the dog area and the rest of the building; others may use portable gate panels to prevent escape.
  • Will the staff feed dogs that get a midday meal? Give medications?
  • Is there an outdoor play area? If not, do staff members walk the dogs on a leash?
  • What is the staff to dog ratio? One staff member for every 10-15 dogs is optimum.
  • Does the facility have a medical emergency plan? Will your dog be taken to his own veterinarian or to a vet used by the facility?
  • Do staff members seem to enjoy the dogs? Show affection to them?
  • What is the specific procedure for introducing new dogs?
  • Do all staff members have access to and read the information provided about your dog?
  • Is there a discount for two or more dogs?

Kennels can make a great home away from home for your pet. If run properly and with true consideration and kindness, these facilities give your pet a nice place to rest, and give you peace of mind while you are away. Choosing the right kennel, though, can be a bit of an arduous process.

How do I find a good kennel?
Ask a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, or dog trainer for a recommendation. You can also check the Yellow Pages. Once you have names—even ones you got from reliable sources—it’s important to do a little background check.
First, find out whether your municipality or province requires boarding kennel inspections. If it does, make sure the kennel you are considering displays a license or certificate showing that the kennel meets mandated standards.
Also ask whether the prospective kennel belongs to any trade associations founded by kennel operators to promote professional standards of pet care. Besides requiring members to subscribe to a code of ethics, these associations offer voluntary facility accreditation that indicates the facility has been inspected and meets their standards of professionalism, safety, and quality of care.
Check, too, with your Better Business Bureau to see whether any complaints have been lodged against a kennel you are considering.

There are several tips to keep in mind when choosing:
The first thing to do is to contact the facility you are interested in. Most dog kennels fill up fast as vacation times and holidays near. As a result, it is necessary to ascertain their level of availability at the time you need them the most. It is also necessary to decide whether or not they can care for the special needs of your pet. Once you have obtained the above information, it is time to examine the facility itself to see if it is right for your dog. You should both visit and tour the kennel. You can arrive unannounced, but some facilities will not grant you a tour if you do. If that is the case, though, that’s probably not a good mark in favor of the facility. You might ask if the kennel belongs to the American Boarding Kennel Association or similar national association in your country, as they have rigorous requirements before granting membership. You should also check to see if the cages have been cleaned (depending upon the time of day), if the facility is well ventilated, and if it is free of odor. You might also ask to see where your pet will sleep, play, and be fed. Finally, be sure the employees are pet friendly. Make sure they seem well trained, and ensure that they truly seem to care about the animals entrusted to them. Selecting the best from among the dog kennels in your neighborhood can be a tough process, but it will pay off for your dog in the long run. Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations, including the vaccine for canine kennel cough (Bordetella)? (Such a requirement helps protect your animal and others.) Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise? Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from wind, rain, and snow? Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor? Are cats housed away from dogs? Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably? Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls? How often are pets fed? Can the owner bring a pet’s special food? What veterinary services are available? Are other services available such as grooming, training, bathing? How are rates calculated?

A facility specializing in care and overnight boarding allows your pet to:
Avoid the stress of a long car or airplane ride to your destination. Stay where he’s welcome (unlike many hotels). Receive more attention and supervision than he would if home alone most of the day. Be monitored by staff trained to spot health problems. Be secure in a kennel designed to foil canine and feline escape artists.

Potential drawbacks to using a boarding kennel include:
Stress related to staying in an unfamiliar environment. Proximity to other pets, who may expose your pet to health problems. Difficulty of finding a kennel that accepts pets other than dogs and cats. Inconvenience of the drive over, which can be especially hard on a pet easily stressed by car travel.

How do I prepare my pet?
Be sure your pet knows basic commands and is well socialized around other people and pets; if your pet has an aggression problem or is otherwise unruly, he may not be a good candidate for boarding. Before taking your animal to the kennel, make sure she is current on vaccinations.
It’s also a good idea to accustom your pet to longer kennel stays by first boarding her during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. This allows you to work out any problems before boarding your pet for an extended period.
Before you head for the kennel, double-check that you have your pet’s medications and special food (if any), your veterinarian’s phone number, and contact information for you and a local backup.
When you arrive with your pet at the boarding facility, remind the staff about any medical or behavior problems your pet has, such as a history of epilepsy or fear of thunder. After the check-in process, hand your pet to a staff member, say good-bye, and leave. Avoid long, emotional partings, which may upset your pet. Finally, have a good trip, knowing that your pet is in good hands and will be happy to see you when you return.

This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF

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