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cage-free dog boarding

kayla
December 3rd, 2005, 01:37 PM
I've been thinking of starting a confinement-free dog boarding business in the semi-near future. I would have a large fenced in area for (friendly) dogs to run around in while their parents are on vacation/at work. I would separate the dogs at meal times, and probably at night too. And I wouldn't charge extra for letting them run around! Anyways, I was just wondering what people thought of this? Would you trust your dog, and other dogs, in this sort of situation? I found another person who does something similar to what I would do here: http://www.cozymountainpetresort.com/

Also, anyone else run a pet sitting/boarding business? What are your experiences with it? What are the ups and downs? I'd love to hear your stories!

K9Friend
December 3rd, 2005, 01:44 PM
This is something I'm thinking about doing myself down the road. ;) Do you live in the city or country? (think of your neighbours?)

I take my GSD to a similar resort in ontario. She loves it and I don't have any worries about my dog when I leave her there. I trust the owner and know he's very experienced with dogs. I think that makes a difference too. The dogs live him in his house.

kayla
December 3rd, 2005, 02:10 PM
I'm in an apartment in Montreal at the moment, but am moving to Ontario next year, wherever my bf gets a job, probably within an hour of Toronto so I get the business from there, but far enough away to be able to afford some property so I don't have to worry about neighbors too much. I'd love to go further north too, but am not sure how much business I would get..

Prin
December 3rd, 2005, 03:33 PM
It all depends- there is a place around here that lets all the dogs in together and a lot of the day they aren't supervised. If you ask them, they'll say the dogs are never alone, but they are. You would need at least 3 employees all the time to run a place like that. One to watch the doggies, one to clean (there is endless cleaning in a kennel) and one to do admin stuff, booking and to help out the other two. I would definitely separate them for feeding and for sleeping. Being around other dogs is fun, but it carries a lot of stress too and doggies need a break or even the nicest one will start to get snappy. I also would not allow any dogs that are not fixed in because that alone changes the mood.

Don't forget to ask the town you move to ahead of time if that is allowed and what you need to stay legal. I know in a lot of municipalities in Qc you need a hundreds of thousands of sq ft of land and you need to be zoned for agriculture. It's different everywhere, but don't be disappointed if you're not allowed to do it if you didn't ask first.;)

kayla
December 3rd, 2005, 04:23 PM
I agree that all dogs must be fixed!

Cleaning, hadn't put a lot of thought into cleaning. I guess I kinda thought it would be minimal given that they are outdoors most of the time. I mean picking up doggy poop for sure, but you wouldn't be sanitizing dirt or anything, you'd have the weather to do that for you. But yeah, the indoors rooms and stuff would need to be sanitized. Well, I volunteered cleaning at the SPCA sanitizing cages in the infirmary, used to clean houses too so at least I've gotten pretty good at it over the years!

I was thinking of trying to find a place with a barn to convert into the doggy sleeping den, found a place online that did this and it seemed like a good idea, in Ontario I would just have to think about heating it and whatnot. And chances are that if there's a barn the property is legal for agriculture. But I would have to look into all that, right now the wheels are just turning, but nothing's quite in motion yet. I've got to figure out how much money I would need to start the whole thing up too.

A lot to think about but I really want to have my own business, and given my love for dogs, and obsession with them, I thought this might be a good place for me to start. I could even just start with having 3 or 4 dogs at first to see how feasible the whole idea is..

papillonmama
December 3rd, 2005, 06:16 PM
I think I would leave mine if I knew that everyone had to bring proof of vaccinations, and if I knew what the plan would be if something like a dog fight were to happen.

free
December 3rd, 2005, 06:39 PM
kayla we have always boarded our dogs in an open boarding place. our first dog could not handle being kennel evn for a short time so we had no option. the person we use now has a small house but lots of land to walk them so that when they come in they are tired and sleep. she seperates the big and small dogs for feeding and watches that each get their food and no stealing. the dogs always came back happy and looked forward to going with her.

kayla
December 3rd, 2005, 07:01 PM
I think I would leave mine if I knew that everyone had to bring proof of vaccinations, and if I knew what the plan would be if something like a dog fight were to happen.

I would make sure all were vaccinated, fixed, had no fleas, and temperment tested.

I was actually looking into a correspondence animal welfare course too which would help in any sort of emergency if one happened.

I was thinking about the dog fight thing and considered having a hose handy and always on with a spray handle, but of course this wouldn't do in the winter or if I wasn't near it. It would be difficult breaking up a fight on my own, and would probably have to do more prevention than anything (picking friendly dogs and learning aggressive language). I should find out what other people do to break up dog fights at dog daycares etc...

kayla
December 3rd, 2005, 07:03 PM
kayla we have always boarded our dogs in an open boarding place. our first dog could not handle being kennel evn for a short time so we had no option. the person we use now has a small house but lots of land to walk them so that when they come in they are tired and sleep. she seperates the big and small dogs for feeding and watches that each get their food and no stealing. the dogs always came back happy and looked forward to going with her.

Does your boarding kennel have a dog limit? I'm just wondering how many dogs would be managable by just one person, especially during meal times!

BMDLuver
December 3rd, 2005, 07:27 PM
Best way to break up a dog fight is have a piece of manageable plywood, put it in between the two snarling heads and use your body weight to push one of the offending dogs off... work the dog towards a patio door, slide the door open and continue to push the dog out with the plywood. Slowly close the door with the plywood used as a block until it's shut tight. Then organize the dogs you have remaining into prospective crates and bring the other dog in by a leash and direct to it's crate. I deal with Bouvier des flandes and quite often they vie for the upper hand.

As far as picking friendly dogs... all dogs can be friendly on the onset and the attitude change once they become comfortable in their environment. You just need all of them to know that you are the Alpha Dog no matter what.

free
December 3rd, 2005, 09:46 PM
kayla if you message me i think it works i can give you the name of the person and hopefully she would talk to you and let you know the ins and outs of the business. i don't remember if she has a limit but i know she met my dogs first, ask to see their shots from the vet and insisted they were on some flea prevention program.

Gazoo
December 3rd, 2005, 10:34 PM
I don't know ...I think that there would eventually be a serious incident of aggression that would require vet care.

Having a group of dogs altogether or having new ones come in could result in all kinds of pack and dominance issues.

How could you assure customers that this wouldn't happen?

Prin
December 4th, 2005, 12:01 AM
I would only be comfortable with a maximum of 5 dogs per person, unless they exhibit serious experience and know-how. Even the nicest doggies can sometimes just not get along. Dogs get crabby and dogs also have personality clashes, just like humans. You NEED to learn how to separate dog fights if you are going to have a bunch of dogs in your care. You have to become efficient at it, because every second of hesitation is a second where a doggy can get seriously hurt. Dealing with a pack of dogs is much harder than one or two. You have to be more physical and not be afraid to throw your weight around.

I worked in a kennel for a bit where there were around 40 dogs running around on some days. By the end of those days, I was SORE. Not only do they jump on you all at once, they also bump into you, play against you, and fight (that you have to pull apart) and hump (that you have to pull apart because that can lead to fights too). It's a very physically demanding job. You're constantly lifting and moving dogs around. And some doggies can be extremely heavy. You have to be very vocal too- that's the best way to prevent, but at the same time, every dog in the room has to know that you are going to act if the behavior continues.


On top of all that, you can have HUGE differences in size- there were two 160 lb labs in the kennel, along with a beagle. How will you decide who you will allow to stay? That if you have a mastiff and a chi? What if you have a bunch of huge dogs and one tiny dog? You know what I mean? They might all be nice, but that won't mean the little guy is safe.

Just things to consider.

kayla
December 4th, 2005, 07:30 AM
Wow, there's some great advice here, thanks! I would definitely have to learn how to efficiently break up fights on my own. I can break fights up if another person is around (grabbing the hinds and pulling them apart) but it would be much harder with just one person! I think starting small, maybe even just a couple dogs, would be a great idea. Mind you on the holidays, when it would be most busy, my bf will be home (he's a teacher) to help out so I could take a few more in and see how it all works while someone is around. I could also plan it so each dog has its own room to stay in, and I take out a just a small number at a time to play while I am around, so that it will be more managable for me.

I just know with Kayla if I ever had to leave her in a kennel she would go nuts! She HAS to run around and play, she has sooo much energy.

I think I will email some of the other people who do this for a living and see what their solutions to these problems are. I could also ask this dog walker who comes to my dog park sometimes how he breaks up fights, he has to watch 6 dogs at once while they are all running around with other dogs, I'm sure he'll have a few tricks up his sleeve.

Thanks for all the advice everyone!

kayla
December 4th, 2005, 07:34 AM
Oh I forgot to mention about the big dog/small dog issue. I would not have them together. I would either have big dogs only (I feel this is the customers it would attract anyways) or I would keep the small dogs in separate enclosed area. I would not feel comfortable at all having a chi with a rottie, because even if there is no aggression the rottie could easily crush the chi during play!

kayla
December 4th, 2005, 07:40 AM
This is the acceptance policy of the Cozy Mountain Pet Resort which does the same thing.


Your dog must be well socialized with experience with other groups of dogs, such as off-leash dog parks, off-leash dog walking services, or something similar. Your dog must be comfortable with dogs in a pack-like setting.

Your dog must have all vaccinations up to date (rabies, distemper, bordetella).

Your dog must NOT have any history of aggression towards another dog or person. If your dog acts aggressive in any way, he/she will be separated and you will be asked to take your dog home (this is an extremely rare event). The safety of our dog guests is our top priority. Nice dogs only!

Your dog MUST be spayed or neutered. No exceptions with males!

Your dog must be relatively obedient and free of major behavioral disorders (for example, non-stop barking, chewing, digging, jumping on people, jumping over fences, etc.). We provide a safe, fun, loving environment for well trained and socialized dogs.

kayla
December 4th, 2005, 12:10 PM
Hmmmm, just thought of an idea. Maybe I could make the dog wear nylon muzzles while they are playing? These are the same type groomers use. I just looked them up and dogs can still drink, pant, and vomit with them on, and it would prevent any dogs from biting eachother, or me! I wonder how many people would be put off by the idea of a muzzle on their dog. I personally would way rather have a safe and muzzled dog who can run around and play with other safely muzzled dogs, than a caged dog! I wonder how many others would feel this way?

Gazoo
December 4th, 2005, 12:24 PM
good thought. but i don't know how pragmatic that would be on a daily basis

kayla
December 4th, 2005, 12:54 PM
good thought. but i don't know how pragmatic that would be on a daily basis

I feel like it would be more practical than having to walk around with a board/hose/whatever though! I'd feed them all in the morning, seperately and without muzzles. Then they would have to wait two hours to prevent bloat after food. Then I would muzzle them and let them all run around, and the muzzles really don't have to come off until dinner time because they can still drink with them on, after dinner they would stay indoors (except for potty breaks) and muzzles would stay off until the next morning (they would sleep separate). Or alternatively, I could keep muzzles on at night and they wouldn't have to sleep separate. I just don't know how comfy those things are! Maybe I should get one for Kayla and see how easy it is to fit, get on and off, and see how comfortable it seems for her. Just trying to come up with ideas to make this work, cages suck :cool:

Lucky Rescue
December 4th, 2005, 01:39 PM
Personally I would not want my dog muzzled while being boarded. The boarding is stressful enough. Also, you can't just put muzzles on dogs and send them off to play. It takes time to get them used to it.

Even the nicest doggies can sometimes just not get along. Dogs get crabby and dogs also have personality clashes, just like humans.

Yes! Even dogs who love other dogs may come across one they just don't like. Make sure you have the funds to pay vet bills in case of fights,which can happen in the blink of an eye and seemingly out of the blue.

Breaking up fights can be extremely dangerous to you as well, since you'll have no way of knowing if these dogs will turn on you in the heat of the moment.

kayla
December 4th, 2005, 02:05 PM
Personally I would not want my dog muzzled while being boarded. The boarding is stressful enough. Also, you can't just put muzzles on dogs and send them off to play. It takes time to get them used to it.


I know that boarding is stressful, which is why I would like to make it less stressful. Would you rather your dog be caged with nothing to do while you are gone or were you thinking you would you rather it be allowed to play and potentially fight with other dogs? I personally think having a muzzle on would be MUCH less stressful than being caged in a strange place with nothing to do! I think muzzling would be the lesser of two (or three or four) evils!

Prin
December 4th, 2005, 04:44 PM
I would actually rather my doggies be in a cage and walked 3 times a day than wear a muzzle. My doggies really, really don't like muzzles and they feel like they're being punished when they wear them. Plus, if they can open their mouths enough for drinking and panting, they can probably bite if they wanted to.

kayla
December 4th, 2005, 04:53 PM
I emailed someone to see how they handle these things. They require a written reference from either a professional dog walker or day care center to ensure the dog is used to group settings. They also have separate lounge areas in case two of the dogs don't get along. They say they rarely have problems though. And they make people sign a waiver not to sue etc. I guess it's similar to any risk you would take in bringing your dog to a dog park. Those who aren't willing to risk it can board their dog somewhere else! They don't use muzzles and no one else uses muzzles and it seems like it works well for a lot of other places. I suppose if there was one particular dog that was showing aggression I would consider muzzling it (or send it home, but this would be hard if everyone was on vacation), but for the most part I think everyone would remain unmuzzled.

Maybe I should just do cat boarding, so much more simple!:rolleyes:

Prin
December 4th, 2005, 05:01 PM
The difference between a dog park and your kennel idea is that I'm at the dog park with my dogs, whereas at your kennel, I have to trust you with my dogs' safety... Trust is a hard thing to acquire.;)

Lucky Rescue
December 4th, 2005, 06:07 PM
And they make people sign a waiver not to sue etc

Those waivers mean nothing as they are not law, but merely self-serving policies. A dog gets ripped up and you'll be in court being sued for vet bills and you will lose.

I guess it's similar to any risk you would take in bringing your dog to a dog park.

No similarities. The difference between the dog park and a boarding kennel is that the owner is paying/hiring you, the kennel, to care for his/her dog and you must be responible and take extra care to ensure the dog is not injured. When you go to the dog park, you are responsible for your own dog since no one is being paid to take care of him.

Huge difference.

NOT try to be argumentative, just point out some pitfalls so you can prepare!:)

And yes, I would rather have my dog safely in a comfortable kennel, with outdoor (but separate) access. This way I know that no one will be harmed!

kayla
December 4th, 2005, 07:02 PM
The difference between a dog park and your kennel idea is that I'm at the dog park with my dogs, whereas at your kennel, I have to trust you with my dogs' safety... Trust is a hard thing to acquire.;)

I know, I wouldn't even trust myself just yet. I have had a fair bit of experience with dogs growing up. My stepmother bred Irish Wolfhounds and we rescued dobies, some of which were quite aggressive and had to be kept separate, so I learned how to break up fights with BIG dogs at an early age, but rarely by myself. We also had a few little dogs running around, and cats of course! And with personal experience I've had my own dog, and fosters in my home, but never ten stranger dogs all running around all in my care!

I guess just starting small, and building trust in myself, and in my customers, is the way to go. I should talk to my dog trainer about breaking up dog fights, maybe I could find a good trainer in Ontario to be my mentor. I was also looking into an animal welfare certificate program at UTR. I talked to the program manager and he said many people who take it are people like me thinking of starting my own pet boarding facility, and that it teaches a lot from the business to behavior to health side of dogs and cats. Whether this was just bs to get me to enroll who knows.. :rolleyes:

Those waivers mean nothing as they are not law, but merely self-serving policies. A dog gets ripped up and you'll be in court being sued for vet bills and you will lose.

Ugh, legal matters, another thing I will have to teach myself inside and out before starting such a thing.


NOT try to be argumentative, just point out some pitfalls so you can prepare!:)


I know, and I definitely appreciate the input! I also think everyone wants something different for their dog, and would take different risks. Some would only want their dog out alone, others would be happy letting it run around but supervised. Most people trust dog walkers or doggy daycares to manage many off-leash dogs at once, I did last summer and never had a problem, this wouldn't be much different. There are certainly many risks to consider though, and I do appreciate people pointing them out!

Bushfire2000
December 4th, 2005, 08:58 PM
I would think it would be like caring for someones children, the responsibility can be overwhelming.
If your looking at a barn to house them, maybe you should consider a more traditional kennel set up. It would be a lot of work but much more Manageable for one person. With the right set up the waste could be channeled out of the pens into a septic system, the dogs could be separated for safety and feeding. A large area could still be fenced for "free" play perhaps each dog could be allowed a time "off leash" to play with people not strange dogs. You still need all the shots and disinfectants but I'd feel much more confident about leaving my babies with you.

Joey.E.CockersMommy
December 4th, 2005, 10:18 PM
Joey just got back from a place like this today. He had a great time. They let the dogs out 4 times a day to romp in a ten acre field. This is where Joey went if you want to check out their website. http://www.hycountrykennels.com/updates.htm

I would make sure the fence is extra secure so anyone that drops off their dogs will feel assured that they will be well taken care of.

Prin
December 4th, 2005, 11:35 PM
Hey, I just remembered, there is a great book out there called "Kennels and Kenneling" by Joel M. McMains. It's got a lot of stuff on building a kennel, which you might not need, but it also has a ton of checklists and stuff with everything you need to start a kennel. It is really comprehensive, IMO.

And about the fences- I would suggest getting the fences buried 6" to 12" because some doggies can dig under regular fences in the blink of an eye...

kayla
December 5th, 2005, 08:59 AM
Thanks for that site Joey.E.CockersMommy! It helps to know other people do this too!

And thanks for the book suggestion Prin, I will definitely look into it!

SnowDancer
December 5th, 2005, 10:52 AM
My mini Dachshunds and my Beagle could get under a fence in a minute if given the opportunity - they weren't - and my Eskimo that I have now - all 22 lbs. of him could jump to the top of a 6 ft. fence and then break his neck tumbling over. I agree that fences need to be very deep and surrounded by concrete and at least 10 feet high. The lady that home boards are dog has a 10 ft. fence at her Toronto location. She keeps only a minimum number of dogs over night of course, each having his/her own kennel in the house. Doors are open during day and each is fed separately although "friends" share. She has worked as a vet tech and a groomer and is excellent. My dog also loves her and will listen to her. He adores me - so my listen to Mom!