For many of us, dogs are kids . . . so selecting a place to care for them when we travel is a big decision.
First impressions are lasting. But a clean, temperature controlled, well-ventilated and bright place, with friendly and knowledgeable staff is just basic. Beyond that there is much to consider.
Always ask for a tour. If the answer is no, walk away. A facility should be proud to show off its “digs”. That being said, operating efficiently entails lots of moving parts and functions that need to stay on schedule. So, for instance, if you show up during busy arrival / departure hours, understand that you may need wait a bit for a tour. A quality facility puts the dogs first and is trying to get clients checked in/out and on their way.
My favorite question is “How will my dog spend her day?”
I am looking for details, so a play-by-play look is key.
How much physical exercise will my dog receive? Next to food, water and air; arguably the most important physical need for a dog is exercise. “A good dog is a tired dog” is more than just a cliché’. Make certain the facility you choose has indoor but more preferably outdoor play areas that are safely fenced and large enough for the number of dogs being boarded to burn off energy with space to run and play. A couple of 15-minute sessions is not enough for most dogs, and crowded indoor/outdoor spaces produce a stressed dog.
Dogs: Is there group play? How is it supervised? How are dogs matched? Are dogs allowed to play with toys? How many hours per day will they spend outside? Do they get playtime when it rains or snows? How do you handle the summer heat? How much time is spent with staff members, socializing with other dogs, quiet down time etc? What time is she let out in the morning? What time is the last outing at night?
Do you accept young puppies and senior dogs? How are they handled differently? Do you accept intact dogs? How do you manage their interactions? What happens if my dog gets injured or sick while in your care?
Do you accept special needs dogs in terms of diet / medical issues? What happens if my dog is not eating? How do you ensure my dog’s medicines are properly administered? Do you charge extra for administering special feeding / medicine?
Will my dog have water available at all times? Can I bring my dog’s own food, toys, bedding? What are your vaccination requirements and do you accept titers / vaccination waivers for health reasons?
Staff: What is the staff to dog ratio? What are their qualifications? How are they trained? What type of dog handling / pack behavior training does staff receive? How are issues communicated? How does staff respond to a dog that barks excessively? If my dog misbehaves, how do you handle that?
The facility: What happens if there is an emergency overnight? Is someone on property 24/7?
Take a virtual tour of Top Dog Country Club to see the difference . . . www.topdogcountryclub.com/facility. Then come visit us.