In one of my last posts, I talked about a customer who had a not-so-great experience with her dogs at a local Big Box store that competes with DogBoy’s Dog Ranch. I wanted to go further into her story, and why these types of chain stores are not a good decision for dog owners or their dogs.
This long time client, let’s call her Jan, has boarded her dog, we’ll call her Sandy, for many years now.
As we were getting her checked out, she was telling me about her experience with a local Big Box dog boarding facility:
Jan: Ya know, I live in another part of town on the other side of the highway.
Courtney: I do know, and we are so grateful that you go out of your way to continue coming to DogBoy’s.
Jan: I only bring it up, because I’ve been to your local big box competitor and, honestly, you know they’re nice people, but they just don’t know my dog and I don’t feel very comfortable leaving my dog with them.
Courtney: Oh really? Why’s that?
Jan: Well to start, there’s no outside place for them to play. Everything is just indoors, the play areas, the tiny little pens they put them in, and you know, it’s right by my house but I will just drive right by there from now on and never go back, because they just don’t know my dog like you guys do.
I appreciated the feedback, but it did raise a number of concerns in me as a dog owner myself, and as the owner of a respected dog boarding and training facility. I just can’t stand it when I see dogs being treated like livestock instead of family. I didn’t want to pry into her experience, so I didn’t ask if she took a full tour of this particular place.
However, as a responsible dog owner and business owner, I have done my research on these facilities. This is not intended to be a slander of the business or industry, but rather a critique of the standards and practices at these types of stores that I feel are not at all in line with the well-being of the dogs they house and the services they claim to provide.
1. Their Dog Evaluation system is questionable…if not downright scary.
This particular facility has a really odd free evaluation system, where you put your dog in a cage with another dog for five minutes. Their regulations stipulate that it is one female and then one male dog in the evaluation. If a fight doesn’t break out…and IF to me is already too much of a risk…they deem the dog in question as approved to interact and socialize with any and all other dogs, all over the country, in any of their locations.
To a customer, this may sound like an efficient way to do things that can save them, as people, time and money. But, dogs can react differently in different situations. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions with living creatures. One dog may be well balanced in their behavior all of the time, but another dog may be somewhat reactive and will have really good days and really bad days. If that dog just happens to be on a good day during this evaluation, then they have been cleared at any point to interact with any number of other dogs. Now, I don’t know about you, but that is terrifying for me. Not just as a professional, but also as a dog owner and a dog lover.
2. Their play areas and kennels are inadequate at best.
In one case, the kennels they house their dogs in are actually hog cages. It’s essentially like putting them in a really long crate for hours on end. So, they have a place to walk back-and-forth and to lay down, but they can’t jump up, stretch their legs, or anything like that. I can’t emphasize enough how much stress this puts on a dog, no matter their size. In other facilities, they may offer “luxury suites” which are basically the size of a small closet, just big enough for a small bed, water & food bowls, and maybe a tiny TV mounted way up high. FYI, dogs don’t watch TV like we do. This is just for the humans…
The play areas in some of these facilities are basically three sections inside an industrial building that are fenced off for small, medium, and large dogs. Some are outdoors on gravel, or even just parking lot pavement, which can get very hot in the summer. One large facility in town even has large grassy areas outside that appear to be available for dogs to utilize for outside play time, but in reality those areas are kept up for display purposes and are not generally utilized. Finally, some big box stores are just that, a big box, so your dog never sees the light of day, no matter how long they stay there.
3. There is no emphasis on dog behavior or positive training techniques.
If the dog’s misbehave at the facility, they call the owner and place the fault on them, put the dog in the kennel to keep it isolated from “creating more trouble”, or squirt them with water in an attempt to correct the unwanted behavior. Often times, employees are just high school kids working for minimum wage who know absolutely nothing about dog behavior, and yet are supervising dogs in play. As dog owners, we place our trust in the boarding facilities we leave our dogs with to take care of them with the love and patience that they receive at home. If I knew my dog was being treated that way, it would not end very well for the staff at that store or the company.
The DogBoy’s Dog Ranch Difference
At DogBoy’s, we place an emphasis on behavior and training, because we believe in doing things the right way for the dog. Our boarding facilities are spacious and expertly crafted to provide the dog with comfort and security. In addition, we have a HUGE amount of outside play areas open to the dogs that visit, board, and train with us. We understand that each dog is unique in their own personalities and behaviors, and we pride ourselves in being able to offer individualized service to all of our clients, human and canine. It’s just a night and day difference in experience from these Big Box Stores.
Caged Dog by Hanumann
Thugs… by Peter Parker