What is your cleaning routine?
We are a state licensed boarding facility and we meet or exceed all health and safety standards set forth for us in our annual state inspection. We routinely clean the yards and we clean and sterilize the facility multiple times a day. Your dog’s boarding area is also kept clean and sterile. During the summer when we have pools for the dogs, we change the water daily and we clean and sterilize the pools.
How do you separate the dogs?
We separate the dogs roughly based on size, but also on energy level and how they do with the different packs. The “small dog pack” does mean small in stature, but can also mean the “smaller energy pack,” so you may see physically bigger dogs in the “small dog pack” that are older, quiet, timid or due to any kind of physical or behavioral traits that make them a better fit for the “small dog pack.” Likewise, you may see some smaller dogs in the “big dog pack” if they seem to have a great deal of energy or enjoy themselves more with the bigger dogs.
How much exercise do the dogs get?
The dogs are out in packs all day. In cases of dogs that are boarding for more than just a day or two, we may give them breaks of about an hour 1-2 times per day. For dogs that are here for an extended period of time the breaks or “naps” become necessary to keep them in a good mood and to give them a chance to rest and recover mentally and physically. **It is important to note: Dogs that are very active can take quite a toll on their body. Sometimes these dogs play themselves too much and when they get home they will get a cold or may be lethargic for a day or two. This is not common, but it does happen and it is something we try to prevent by utilizing the naps and break times.
What do you do to prevent illness?
We clean and sterilize our facility regularly to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. We have a consulting veterinarian to aid us in this effort and we stay on top of industry best practices. We also rely on our clients to help prevent illness. We require that all dogs are current on vaccinations and we ask that our clients stay current on heart worm preventative, flea and tick preventative, and monitor their dogs for any other illness or parasites. We do not have illnesses here regularly, and when we do experience an outbreak of something like kennel cough it is because one of our dogs brought it into the facility. For this reason it is important that we work together to keep Home Sweet Home a healthy place for our dogs to play.
How do they get water?
Our dogs have access to water all day long. We keep it available to them indoors and out. If your dog has issues with under- or over-consuming water, please make us aware so we can keep everyone safe and happy. During the warm and summer months, we also keep pools accessible to the dogs so they can keep cool and play.
What do you do if it is very hot or very cold?
The dogs have indoor/outdoor open access all day by way of doors and doggie doors. When there is extreme heat or extreme cold, we may have a more regimented routine of rotating the dogs out and in and keeping the building doors closed for temperature regulation. We have pools in the summer months and we have a big shade structure that has a mist cooling fan in it. We closely monitor the dogs to watch for signs of heat stress or cold discomfort.
What do you do if there is an injury?
If there is an injury to a dog in the course of a day, we will notify the owner immediately and proceed from there at the owner’s disgression. If we are unable to get a hold of the owner, we will make medical decisions in the best interest of the dog. Every dog here is important to us and every dog will be treated as if it were our very own dog.
How do you correct bad behavior?
First, we do not allow any abusive treatment of dogs. No exceptions. We have a variety of ways to address behavior issues with dogs. It starts with how the packs are structured. We will watch the dogs and mix and match them to make sure we have good groups of dogs who have similar energy levels and compatible personalities. The next level is to manage the pack simply with our voices. For dogs who persist in fixated or negative behavior we have squirt bottles with water in them to distract the dog from its behavior. Some dogs think the squirt bottles are toys and enjoy them, so for those dogs we have bottles with a little bit of vinegar mixed in so that the squirt is a correction and not a game. We can also use leashes to guide the dogs and have several audible distractions used to interrupt negative behavior such as shaker cans (aluminum cans with pennies in them) and if needed air horns. If the negative behavior persists we will put the dog up for a short “time out” so that it can calm down and break its fixation on the negative behavior.
What do you do about aggressive dogs?
We screen every dog that comes to Home Sweet Home to make sure it will be a good fit with our packs. We do not allow dogs that demonstrate they do not do well in a pack setting. (A dog does not have to do well in a pack to be a good dog. Some dogs prefer to be alone and some dogs don’t like sharing their people – and that’s ok.) If a dog shows aggressive behavior we will evaluate the situation to see what might be causing it. If the aggressive behavior becomes a pattern we will ask that dog not to return to Home Sweet Home. Some dogs just have bad days, and sometimes as a dog ages it becomes less tolerant of other dogs. We judge the appropriateness of each dog individually.
What do you do if there is a fight?
We work hard to manage the packs to prevent incidents of violence. Fights are best dealt with before they start by reading and anticipating the behavior of the dogs in the pack. We can move dogs around to different packs, separate certain dogs that are bothering each other and use “time-outs” among other things to keep the packs safe. In the event there is a fight between dogs, the staff is trained to intervene and stop the fight and assess each dog to determine if there are any injuries. If there is an injury we will notify the owner and seek the proper veterinary care.
What do you do in case of an emergency such as a fire or tornado during business hours?
If there is a fire during business hours, we will evacuate the dogs into the yards away from the building. We are 1 block from a fire station so the response to a fire should be very fast. If there is a severe storm or a tornado during business hours we will lock the dogs inside and if necessary we will confine them to kennels and runs – whatever needs to be done to keep everyone safe and manage the situation appropriately.
Does someone stay with the dogs overnight? What do you do if there is an emergency overnight?
There is no one with the dogs overnight. We have a security system with stand-by service for break-ins, fire or power outage. So if there is an intruder, if the fire alarm is triggered or if the power in the daycare goes out the alarm company dispatch will call emergency services as well as the HSH owner and manager.