Ask Donna

Donna, Shilo and Kailey Dallas Road 06I get asked by my dog training clients all of the time about who to refer them to for Dog Daycare or Dog walking or Boarding. Here are some questions and answers I developed when I was the Vice President of the Vancouver Professional Dog Walkers Alliance. I am now service the Greater Victoria areas.

What to look for in a Dog Day Care, Dog Walking or Boarding

Can you go in and see the whole establishment? Do you have to make an appointment or can you just cold call?

Is it clean? How does it smell? Are there feces or urine in multiple locations?

Is the staff helpful? Knowledgeable?

What is the staff ratio to dogs?

Do the dogs look happy? Are they separated according to size, age?

Do they go out for walks? How long and where are they?

What are there hours of operation?

Do they offer a pick up or drop off service?

Is there a qualified trainer on staff? What methods of training do they use?

Do they take un-neutered males? Unspayed females?

Do they have a limit on how many dogs are in the daycare at one time?

Do they have limits on size,weight, height, age? Breed specific restrictions?

Have they ever had a dog injured while in their care or die? If so what did they do?

What do they use to clean with? Have they had virus’s or kennel cough out breaks and if so how do they handle it?

Do they have insurance? Are they licensed? Is the staff bonded? How long are the staff trained for when hired?

Are there safety measures in place eg: high fences, double fences, keeping the dogs clear of high traffic areas?

Dog Experience

Do they obviously love dogs?

Do they or have they had dogs as a member of their family?

Did they meet your dog? How did your  dog react to them?

What are their methods of keeping the dogs under control? Do they talk about “Dominance” a lot?

Are they willing and able to reinforce your training efforts?

What are the methods of training used?

On A Walk

Does the company set up a meeting before taking you on as a client?

Who will be walking your dog? Is there staff? What is their training?

How will they be transporting your dog? an they separate dogs in the vehicle if needed?

Is it ventilated? Is there water supplied?

Where will they be walking your dog? Do they follow park user rules/etiquette?

Is there a criteria dogs must satisfy in order to go ona a group walk?

How many dogs will be on the walks?

Will your dog be allowed off leash? How do they ensure his/her recall ability?

Are they leashed to and from the vehicle?

Are they equipped to handle emergencies? Cell phone, first aid kit?

Have they taken a pet first aid course?

Were they asked for your contact numbers and vet information in case of emergency?

Do they have necessary permits to operate in a particular area?

How long have they been in business? Are they insured? Licensed? Bonded?

Lots to think about. Personally I like small groups and a high rate of handler to dog, I also like companies that don’t use force in training or handling of my dog. There are some very good companies out there but some that have had many complaints from dog owners and unfortunately the city does nothing to close them down, so please be careful when hiring a company. Ask around at dog parks and see what others are saying. All the best to you and your furry family!

“It is ours to teach, not theirs to figure out”

Leslie Mc DeVitt, Control Unleashed