Over the past few years I have been working hard towards setting up my own doggy day care business and during my years of researching into what works and what doesn’t it appears not every dog owner is sure what to look for when selecting to send their dog to a dog walker or day care centre.
I was shocked by a story in the Telegraph about a man who was knocked over by a dog walker’s dog. What concerned me the most was that not only did the dog walker not have insurance; the owners had not insured their pet.
The benefits of using a dog walker or day care centre are numerous, with the increased demands on people’s time a dog walker can come in handy to ensure that your dog is getting the required level of physical and mental stimulation that it requires. Hiring a dog walker or sending your dog to day care will give you the comfort that whilst you are at work or away from home for long periods of time, your dog is still able to relieve themselves and gain both human and canine interaction, which is turn will improve your dog’s social skills and give you the comfort that you can return home in the evening to a chilled dog and no accidents in the house.
- No more accidents in the home – though not a 100% guaranteed!
- Increased exercise, mental and physical stimulation
- Reduction in unwanted behaviours such as chewing, digging and soiling
- Increased socialisation with other dogs
- Assistance with behavioural training
- A tired and relaxed dog on your return home
So, what should you be looking for when selecting a dog walker? It is a growing industry and at the moment is not regulated so anyone can set up a business, therefore it is important to check that as a minimum the dog walker is:
- Fully insured for professional dog walking, including loss of key cover should they have a copy of your key to pick up your dog
- Has appropriate vehicle insurance to transport your dogs
- Does not walk more than 4-6 dogs on each walk – most professional insurance companies will place a limit of the number of dogs they can walk at once
- Can evidence that your dogs will be transported to walks in an appropriate vehicle
- Offers a free consultation to meet with your dog and chat through their services
- Offers a trial walk to ensure your dog gets on well with their other dogs and the handler
- Has experience with dogs either as a pet owner/trainer/assistant etc.
If you feel your dog would benefit from attending a day care centre, and I can give you plenty of reasons why you should, then be sure that as well as all the above as with dog walkers, to check the following as a minimum before signing up to the service.
- Adult to Dog ratio
If dogs are well behaved and settled into the routine, a ratio of 6-8 dogs to one trained member of staff should be sufficient.
- Screening Process
There should be a procedure in place for taking on new dogs and introducing them to the existing dogs and you should ask what this procedure is. Most day care centres will insist that dogs attend for a minimum of one day a week and will not take on any ad-hoc bookings to ensure dogs have consistency. All dogs should be fully vaccinated have up to date worming and flea treatments.
Fencing should be at least 5ft and secure so that dogs cannot jump over or dig under the fences.
- Emergency procedures
The centre should have their own emergency procedures and have a relationship with local veterinary practices.
- Experience of the staff
The staff should be confident handlers who are aware of body language, signs of stress, and basic animal care. Ideally they might have a certified animal behaviour specialist who attend the site regularly or better yet, oversee the staff.
As well as sufficient outdoor space, there should be sufficiently heated indoor areas with comfy beds for the dogs to rest on.
- Visit for yourself
Ensure you visit the site and check if it is safe, if the fencing is secure, are the dogs having a good time and is there plenty of space for the dogs to get some rest and get away from the other dogs if they wish.
- Behaviour Management Policies
Ensure that the day care centre you choose believes in positive reinforcement and force free handling.
- Consistent schedule
The dogs should be given organised play, basic training, cleaning and feeding. There should be dedicated time for your dog to rest throughout the day and appropriate sheltered accommodation for them to do so.
The day care centre should be cleaned using dog-safe products to prevent the spread of infection.
Day care is not suitable for all dogs and might prefer having their needs met by a dog walker, the day care owners should be honest as to whether they think day care suits your dog and advise you of the same. They should be in it for the love of the dogs and not the money!
If you would like to speak to Emily about the services on offer at HoundsLand or talk through your dog’s requirements then please contact us here.