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Old 01-02-2013, 02:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Arrow I've decided to open my own Doggie Daycare..

Hi guys,

Now. The title is self-explanatory. But I'm looking into it and I would like to officially open my business in the next year. I know this forum has some sleuths, so I was hoping to get some pointers for opening and owning my own small business.
-I don't have a name for it yet, so brainstorming would be helpful!
-Some services other than 6am-6pm day care are bathing/light grooming, overnight or weekly boarding for DAYCARE clients only, and a puppy socialization class.

I know I'm going to need a loan, to pay for flooring, kennels for boarders, basic doggie necessities, and office supplies. I know nothing about permits as well, so anyone who happens to know about doggie daycare permits specifically would be helpful. (I have a whole year to get a game plan, I'm just in the early stages. I've only done light research!)

I'd also like input for not only a successful business, but for dog owners out there, what they would like.

I'm really excited. I've always wanted to start my own little business, and this will be such a benefit to my community. This area (specifically my county) has NO reputable doggie daycare.

I already have rates planned out (thanks to my wonderful boyfriend who's great with numbers!), and I'm looking for a convenient space to rent or buy. If I find the perfect space, it will have a decent amount of yard space. That's the only problem finding thus far.

I'm sorry this is so brief, I'm posting from my phone.
Input would be lovely!
Thanks guys
Amanda
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Congrats! Hmmm well as for pointers maybe get a website up and a live cam so their owners can watch their dog at daycare, a bit of a financial leap though.... I think


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Old 01-02-2013, 02:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I can't remember... have you worked in a dog daycare before?
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Definitely have a written business plan, including things like expected clientel base, permit and zoning information, and projected operating expences when you go in for your loan interview. The more well thought out and thorough the plan is, the more liekly you are to be considered a good risk. Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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There's always liability and insurance to think about. If you would allow intact dogs, breed restrictions, etc.


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Old 01-02-2013, 02:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Porcha- I know people set up webcams for like.. Marestare for when the mares are dialog. Maybe if all goes well I can set something like that up. Thanks for your input!
mmctaq- no, but I've worked with many small/home businesses. My dad owned a small cooperation, my mom works for a small healthcare business, friend owns a titling company, and I worked at a barn for many years. I know this is new territory, and business is likely to go under. I'm ready to give this my all.
Rosemary- Thank you. Just some input I was hoping for. Yes, I already thought of having everything written out before getting said loan, I'm building up my credit score now.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:30 AM   #7 (permalink)
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There's always liability and insurance to think about. If you would allow intact dogs, breed restrictions, etc.


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Good point, I don't think my county has any breed restrictions, actually. So that betters my chances. As far as intact animals go, I feel like it will be a case-by-case basis. Typically I won't want any intact animals other than my own, but I can make exceptions at the right time.

Insurance is another thing i need to look more in depth to.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:41 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Most of my work experience is with dog daycares. Reputable ones are hard to come by and it is hard to find passionate and knowledgable employees because the pay is low. Just to give you an idea as to how much work it takes to own and operate a successful and credible daycare/kennel facility, the owner of one of the main ones in town spent years researching all aspects of the business before he broke ground.

You will need at least two people per group(large and small) and someone well versed in canine body language and behavior to temp test the dogs. You will need to draft a temp test application. You will need a designated vet for injuries that require a vet visit right away. I was a daycare manager and had problems with the staff they would hire for me being lazy, on their cell phone, not even paying attention to the dogs, sitting down and letting dogs with possession issues sit in their lap and try to attack dogs that would approach them. There is a high turnover rate in this industry...it's hard to find great and trustworthy workers.

I would definitely say get webcams for owner peace of mind. One thing I did was take photos and video of my daycare dogs for the owners and they really enjoyed and appreciated that. I have pages of emails from owners thanking me and trusting me for going above and beyond what they expected.

I would love to do it, good luck !
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Good point, I don't think my county has any breed restrictions, actually. So that betters my chances. As far as intact animals go, I feel like it will be a case-by-case basis. Typically I won't want any intact animals other than my own, but I can make exceptions at the right time.

Insurance is another thing i need to look more in depth to.
I personally had a no intact dogs over 6 months rule. I bent it sometimes for large/giant breed female puppies, but never for males.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:12 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Jamie- for your first post: thank you! I don't want any incompetent workers, ones who start fudging up in training will be let go. I hate that. I have a vet appointment with Juno tomorrow, and will happily talk to my vet to see if she would be interested. I also know the E-vet is close to where I'd like to start business.
As for your second one, this is what I was thinking as well. I really hate ill-mannered intact male dogs. I hate them.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:58 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Not wishing to put a dampner on your dreams, heck so many folk have done that to mine lately I am awash, but....

From what I have seen in the news lately the US is likely to be heading for another recession. Now things may suddenly become okay, but only I think if your 2 parties can agree to compromise, (which at the moment sounds very unlikely, unless of course a miracle has happened and they have buried the hatchet and sorted out their differences of opinion).

Now I know nothing about business in the US. But starting a business on borrowed money is always dodgy. First and foremost you have to ensure there is enough income to meet the outgoings.

Repayment of loan.
Payment of rent for business premises
Purchase of private and public liablility insurance.
Purchase of permits (not sure if you have to pay for them in the US but you do here in Spain and oh boy are they expensive)
Lighting/heating bills.
Payment of wages.

Whenever I have advised folk on the setting up of a business I have always found that most folk whilst saying they have worked out the expenditures truly havent done anything of the sort.
The average business will take 12-18 months to get off the ground. During that time you have to financially be able to meet all the bills without having to rely on income simply because you do not know if you are going to have any customers. Experience has taught me, you cannot rely on the money coming in to pay the money going out, not in the first year.
In the case of the business you are setting up you are asking folk to trust you with their dogs. Trust comes after experience. One bad word travels a whole lot further than a good one.

You say you wish to offer overnight boarding. In such a case many owners will expect you to have someone on site 24 hours a day. Which will require additional thought with regards the facilities, ie showers etc and situation of the premises, ie parking, security.

Outside space is a brilliant idea, for those days when it is sunny etc, but you will require an area large enough for the dogs to play inside as well, (the sun doesnt always shine as we all know). Your local authority may require you to have say 2 square metres per animal (they do this with children and whilst I appreciate kids aren't dogs they may have such rules) which may then restrict the numbers you are allowed to offer daycare too. This in turn will restrict your income. Which in turn will restrict your ability to pay back your loan etc, etc.

And last but not least, (oh my I sound a right misery) are you going to be able to afford to pay employees? Say you have no dogs using your facility in the month of August, what then? Are you going to expect people to pay to keep their space open for their return?

You will also need a good lawyer to safegaurd you with a good contract. There is no such thing as a watertight one, but you can sure as heck make it as leakproof as you possibly can and unfortunately the services of us lawyers, comes at a price.

However, after all these downers, I do hope you manage to fulfill your dream and would like to wish you the best of luck for the future.
I too have considered the opening of a doggie daycare here, unfortunately the recession has too tight a grip on Spain at the moment for me to do it.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:14 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I know that we took Calamity to a highly recommended daycare in the cities. They have several locations and she spent several months at one of the locations, going five days a week. We noticed that the last month or so she would come home not tired and the last week we noticed she would smell. We checked around and found this great daycare that was really unique and artsy, I will attach a link to their web page. She would come home exhausted and smelling just fine, sometimes she even smelled bathed.

One thing they do that I haven't seen another daycare do is that they don't board. Instead they come to your house in the AM and feed your dog then take him to their daycare, then bring him back to your home, feed him, either stay the night with him or tuck him in for the night and then come back and get him in the AM. This way your dog stays at its home at night and considering they stayed open until 9 PM most nights, it worked out well. Saved on building and maintaining of the boarding rooms. Open seven days a week too.

http://rufflovenortheast.com/

Good luck!


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Old 01-02-2013, 07:53 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Jamie- for your first post: thank you! I don't want any incompetent workers, ones who start fudging up in training will be let go. I hate that. I have a vet appointment with Juno tomorrow, and will happily talk to my vet to see if she would be interested. I also know the E-vet is close to where I'd like to start business.
As for your second one, this is what I was thinking as well. I really hate ill-mannered intact male dogs. I hate them.
There's so many little things to think about, I'll try and pop back in with advice and suggestions as they come to me.

You need to have a protocol for what to do when a fight breaks out. At the last daycare I worked at we carried a product called Spray Shield on our belt loop. It was very effective in helping to prevent scuffles and fights. You can get it at PETCO/petsmart and walmart I believe. At other daycares I've used an air horn....not sure I recommend this as i've seen it seriously freak out some dogs, one in particular was a Newfie who was an awesome daycare dog, but when I blew the air horn this 120 lb dog would vehemently try to jump and climb the fence to escape. At another daycare we walked around with water bottles mixed with listerine. I never saw any bad effects from it but I don't know, I think spray shield is the way to go and plain water bottles. It helped new employees with lack of experience to have dog body language sign posters on the walls and have them watch videos of body language. I've seen new people freak out when dogs are growly and mouthy during play and I've seen them not interject when they should have and situations escalated.

At one daycare I worked at we had red kongs for the dogs to play with, at another we had all sorts of toys, at the one I managed I did not really allow toys with the big dog group because sometimes it amped up the dogs too much when they would all run after the toys and it could escalate quickly. It depended on the group of dogs I had on particular days as to whether I allowed toys or not.

One thing I found tedious, but very helpful, was doing a thorough body and flea check on every dog during nap time midday. Flea combs are cheap and there were times where we caught cuts, scrapes, and the start of hot spots on dogs that we wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

Another tip, owners LOVE daycare report cards. At every daycare I worked at we did daily reports on a little rectangle sheet of paper for every dog. Something like "name, my best buddy was, what I did today, activity level, etc." and yes, I never lied and was always up front about the dogs behavior, I have kicked dogs out and have suggested behavior modification and training to some owners. Some dogs will have a bad day, some will get worse in daycare(rare but it happens) and you have to know when to make the responsible and safe decision and kick problem dogs out, and some are shy and nervous and need a few daycare visits to get comfortable and socialized. You have to be delicate and tactful when explaining bad dog behavior to some owners because some owners are going to be aholes and not believe their little angel is acting up. There have been times where I've needed to video behaviors for proof.

I can give you a very good and detailed example of a temp test application too if you'd like.
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:46 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I think this is a great idea if you're dedicated and realistic about it.

I'm in the Houston area and had a hard time finding a facility to take my puppy to. In fact, after all my research...I found one. One...in all of the Houston metro area that made me comfortable enough to leave my pup.

Here is a list of what was important to me....
-Early drop off hours (since I'd be dropping off on my way to work)
-small group sizes, puppies placed only with puppies, and groups seperated by sizes
-potty breaks (you wouldn't believe how many facilities told me they just let them go in the play area and clean it up....which is not at all helpful for a working owner trying to potty train a pup!)
-WEB CAMERAS...live...I watched my dog all the time
-adequate "nap times" so that my puppy wasn't so tired when I picked her up that she'd be a beast by the time I got home
-adequate staffing per group....I can't tell you how many places had 1 or 2 staff members per group...that's just not enough
-medical training (IE: CPR, choking, allergic reactions, etc)
-evacuation plan (fire, hurricane, etc)
-details regarding intact dogs (the place I found would allow me to bring Siri provided she was not in season--I'm not sure what the rules are for males since mine is neutered)
-trainer on staff (the place I liked had a trainer that worked on very basic skills such as waiting for the door to open, bite inhibition, potty training....basically reinforcing the things I was already working on at home)
-As ZR mentioned...I LOVED the report cards.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:09 AM   #15 (permalink)
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There is a very successful daycare in Toronto, that was family owned. It's called Urban Dog. I think part of their success is that they used their space well. The front reception area carries certain dog foods, poop bags, leashes, collars, and toys. The margin on those are roughly 45%-60%.

After daycare hours, they rent out the space to training companies. Urban dogs rents theirs out to who's walking who?. The space is also perfect for agility, so they brought agility equipment in.

There are two rooms: one for large, loud mouthed dogs, and one for small or shy dogs.

Have you thought of what packages your going to offer? I wouldn't worry too much about recession, in the pet industry it's been getting bigger and bigger, not smaller.

It must be exciting, are you going to visit other day cares to get an imput?
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:23 AM   #16 (permalink)
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When I set up the daycare at my previous work, we wanted to take that corner of the market for intact dogs being able to come, since nobody else in the city does it.

We had groups versus a big pack, sized appropriately, and sexed appropriately, no more than 5-6 dogs, and we even took dogs who got along with nobody but people because we had rotating play and train/brain stimulation groups. I'd be inside with one group doing group play and/or splitting them up to do basic training or work their brain with nose games or etc... while another employee had a different group outside for supervised play.
They had a mid day nap time and we fed dogs for no extra charge as long as they brought their own food.
We had them bring their own treats for training with a $2 charge if they didn't, we never had any complaints on the $2 honestly because the dogs went home physically and mentally tired and clients were satisfied.

Our rate was competitive at the median between all the others and we offered packages where you buy 10 days get the 11th free. This is extra convenient for a lot of people because then they can just drop off and go on a busy morning.

Our day ran 9 am-5pm where the dogs were out, drop offs were 7-9am and pickups 5-7pm, if we knew someone was coming at the end of the pick up time we'd let that dog play longer than just till 5 though.

The training/mind games, was a big seller for us, people were happy their puppies or older dogs were getting manners and a few dogs with odd issues (afraid of people with canes, hates nail clippings...etc) where very happy to have the issues worked through as well. Well trained dogs owners were happy they learned a new trick or that they were tired from all the nose games. The fact that we "did something" with the dogs versus just running around everywhere really seemed to be our biggest and best asset.

Pay attention to what the owners prefer too, one dog we had lovedddddd to play super rough but her owners didn't like her getting all scabbed up from playing that way so we had to keep her with calmer dogs so she played calmer. It was kind of a bummer for the dog but you may have picky owners like that or show dogs who can't be looking beat up.

Bouncing off zelda, an important thing to me is a staff who can really form connections to the dogs, we had one employee who just couldnt do that and couldnt remember anything special about the dogs for the owners while I and another employee were able to always have some form of cute or serious deeply personalized story about haley, mack, arthur...etc and make the owners feel like their dog is in safe, loving hands of someone who really cares about them.

Last edited by Sam1491; 01-02-2013 at 09:28 AM..
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:01 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dobiewankanobi View Post
I think this is a great idea if you're dedicated and realistic about it.

I'm in the Houston area and had a hard time finding a facility to take my puppy to. In fact, after all my research...I found one. One...in all of the Houston metro area that made me comfortable enough to leave my pup.

Here is a list of what was important to me....
-Early drop off hours (since I'd be dropping off on my way to work)
-small group sizes, puppies placed only with puppies, and groups seperated by sizes
-potty breaks (you wouldn't believe how many facilities told me they just let them go in the play area and clean it up....which is not at all helpful for a working owner trying to potty train a pup!)
-WEB CAMERAS...live...I watched my dog all the time
-adequate "nap times" so that my puppy wasn't so tired when I picked her up that she'd be a beast by the time I got home
-adequate staffing per group....I can't tell you how many places had 1 or 2 staff members per group...that's just not enough
-medical training (IE: CPR, choking, allergic reactions, etc)
-evacuation plan (fire, hurricane, etc)
-details regarding intact dogs (the place I found would allow me to bring Siri provided she was not in season--I'm not sure what the rules are for males since mine is neutered)
-trainer on staff (the place I liked had a trainer that worked on very basic skills such as waiting for the door to open, bite inhibition, potty training....basically reinforcing the things I was already working on at home)
-As ZR mentioned...I LOVED the report cards.
Good points, puppy break times are very important. Many puppies don't know when to settle and take breaks so it's good to crate them for about 15-30 mins so they can chill. Owners need to also know when too much is too much. I had a woman bring a young lab puppy 5 days a week for full days. Way. Too. Much. She started complaining that she couldn't do anything with her puppy at home because all he did was sleep. Couldn't even train him, he was that out of it, but she was extremely hard to convince that her dog needed half days like 3 days a week.

When I worked at Rover Oaks it was awesome because we had no less than 5 counselers in the groups. We also had around 30-40 dogs in the big group though, buys the yard space was huge and it was designed for a large group(houston location). The general rule of thumb is 1 person for every 12 dogs. I do agree that more then 2 people per group is ideal and safer. There were times at another facility where I was the ONLY counselers in a group of 20 dogs. Poor management and they wouldn't give me more staff bc they were penny pinching. Talk about hard work, truly knowing the dogs, and needing eyes like a hawk and cat like reflexes. Very few people are competent and skilled enough to handle and control a large group by themselves and I'd never recommend it. I would have to temp test by myself too at times. Sinister, don't ever run a business like that.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:07 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Good luck with your new business venture I've owned and run three companies in the past and I tell you- you work the hardest you've ever worked for the longest hours you can imagine, but being your OWN BOSS is the most incredible, rewarding feeling.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:12 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Good luck with your new venture.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:02 AM   #20 (permalink)
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here are a few notes I saved when doing research on boarding dogs.



some of it may be usefull to you.

What Owners want in a Boarding Kennel:

1. 24 hour a day on-site staff.

2. Staffed by adults, not wanna-be veterinarian teenagers.

3. A doggy-daycare type atmosphere during the day, rather than having the dogs lie in separate kennels and released into a yard to play for 15 minutes a couple of times a day.

~~24 hour a day 7 days a week on site staff.

~~big play yards for play during the day (big plastic pools for dogs that like the water)

~~web cams so i could see what my pooch is up to

~~reasonable rates for what i'm getting

Grooming services, pet massage, feeding special diets on request...

well, if you were interested in boarding cats as well, luxury rooms for them with multiple climbing posts, windows, tunnels. Bascially something that will keep their stay interesting and would be ideal for owners who want to board mulitple cats. I too have thought about what a dream kennel would be since DH and I are always talking about little details we would add if we ever ran one. Making it a daycare and a boarding facility would be nice for dogs who are friendly and enjoyed interaction with other dogs. For owners who had dogs that are not able to play nice, I keep trying to think of ideas to pamper them as well, but I mostly keep thinking of just having long seperate walks for them and individual play sessions with employees.

someone on-site 24/7
*private runs for the dogs who don't play well with others
*individual kiddie pools for the pups to play in
*big pool for pups to swim in
*AC/heat to keep them comfy
*individual attention and personal play times
*feeding schedule that matches what we do at home, with our food
*CLEAN facility

Employees who are trained in positive-training methods. They don't need to train my dogs but they should not be of the "yank and drag" persuasion either.

Employees who are currently or have been dog owners and do the job because they TRULY LOVE dogs, not just because it pays well and has nice hours. (There is one employee at my vet that is NOT to touch my dogs, ever)

love everyone's ideas. The only one I would add would be that my pooch has a bath on the day I am picking him up. No matter how clean the kennel is, I always find that Cooper has "kennel whiff" when I pick him up. Not sure how to describe the smell but it's not a doggy scent, it's something else. Maybe the disinfectant used to clean the floors? A spankin' clean dog would be great - I'd pay extra for that.

Much of mine is planned; much is still half-baked!* ;D
Name:* Ruff Life
Daycare or Boarding Services
4 Play Areas - 2 indoor (big dogs/little dogs)
2 outdoor (big dogs/little dogs) Trees-ponds-digging-chasing squirrels
Scheduled kinda like camp w/formal training/playing/sports classes . . . or just freestyle it if your dog prefers
Webcams everywhere - you can watch your dog anytime
Strict dog/attendant ratio (although I haven't worked that out yet)
Pet Partners -in conjunction w/the above - so dogs aren't seeing strangers each time they attend
Therapy Room (w/vet partner) for physical therapy
Spa Room - professional groomers or
Do-it-Yourself-Dog Wash
Puppy Palace - half baked idea so far; but puppies need special services, & this would be the umbrella
Ruff Stuff - this is the gift shop; would use local talent to create individual & personalized items


Longer hours, I'd even pay extra to be able to pick him up when I needed to.

We are going to Lexington the end of July, and there is one day where I'd really like to daycare him. We are working a horse show on Sat and need to be there at 6AM and done at 2PM. The one kennel we looked at (and it looked LOVELY!) we would need to drop him Friday before 4PM, and wouldn't be able to get him until after 4PM SUNDAY! We wanted to head home before that! Plus I really did want him with me on vacation- that's why he's going! So I may pay a friend to babysit him for a few hours.

I think it would be nice to get a report back when you picked them up. Like a report card and perhaps some training tips if you see any behaviors or opportunities for training that we as pet parents need to do.

Since I am a scrapbooker I would love to have digital pics on your website of my pets in play during their stay as I can't scrapbook a webcam.

Have a look at this kennels - newly opened and catering for a niche market. I haven't used it myself but a friend of mine uses it for her GSP and is very impressed - off lead exercise with lots of play areas including sand pits to dig in and a river to swim in.
They have kept the number of kennels low to provide individual care and even tuck in the dogs last thing at night !!

Obviously they charge a premium but apparently are booked up well in advance.

Gordon Country Kennels - Home

I looks basic but my guys love it, a secure paddock where the dogs get free running in their own group 3 to 4 times a day, a reasonable day run and a snug sleeping compartment. I have had a destructive WSS so my deerhound could never take bedding as it was always shredded - so the sleeping compartment has a piece of stable matting for Brice.

Whenever I book (once or twice a year) I am asked how Brice is in terms of his bloat tendency, while I still had Fred I was asked about his eyes so I knew that my dogs are individuals.

Last week when I collected Brice and Piper I was given a comprehensive rundown on their behaviour - good and bad - and in Brice's case I was told how he had been told off which is firm but fair, and as Brice was happily snuggling up to the owner I know my boys love it there.

I want to feed my own food, I want to know meds will be administered and I want to know that if I ask for anything in relation to behaviour (say with a dog in training even if it is basic manners of sitting till released for food) that my wishes will be taken seriously.

I don't need posh, I do need clean and secure and most importantly I need to see my boys calm and happy when going in and coming out.

I think the most important thing is a kennel which really takes the time to listen to individual owners about what they want to be done with their dogs - everyone's needs are different and I'd like to think that the routine that I ask for is being carried out (within reason obviously).

For eg I don't want a kennels to give commands to my dogs or get involved in training in any way (even with good intentions) - it just won't be consistent with what I do. So I'd rather they don't even recall the dogs, if possible.

But other people might feel the opposite, so I think the most important thing is flexibility and not a kennels which thinks they know best or has a one-size-fits-all approach.

I have a friend whos kennels and runs are ramshackle affairs but my dogs always seem to be very happy there. I think the reason for this is that the dogs can see things going on and don't get bored. Hens and pigeons strut about the yard and there are even a couple of semi-tame rabbits that hop around . The kennels are opposite a stable block and the dogs also see the horses being moved in and out and getting groomed etc.

I have been taking my dogs there for about 30 years now . It is ramshackle in appearance but the dogs are well looked after. One of my lab bitches even had her puppies there and they grew up to be very well socialised and just about bomb proof !

I do like the dogs to have the food they are on and am happy to supply it. I like them to be given pills if necessary. I have not had to pay extra for this service and Beecham has 3 lots a day.

I want the pet areas to be as clean as possible.
I have two dogs. I would want them boarded together in a very large cage/enclosure.
I would like the cage/enclosure to have free access to an enclosed
area outside, so the dogs could go out if they needed to.
I want an enclosed play area, where dogs can be given special time (for a
extra fee, of course) by the kennel employees.
I want to be able to bring my own food. I would be willing to pay for that
unless the dog was on a special diet, and if it was and I had a vet note I
would not want to pay extra.
I want a report card kept, of everything the dog does (good or bad) in my
absense.
I want to be alerted immediately if somethng seems very wrong with my
dog, like throwing up or diarhea (which is why I want to supply my own
food)

and how do I know I want all these things? Because the kennel where I board my dogs will do all of them. I have gotten quite spoiled by this place, and their prices are not unreasonable.

1. Agree with all of the above.
2. Repeating others, but LOTS of out in the yard and play time.
3. Family owned and operated is great.

Our kennel is special not only because they're so clean, take each dog out in the yard at least 5x per day, groom when needed (wihtout charging extra! and won't accept tips!) but the key ingredient is, they all reeeally love dogs.

When Puppy died I called them (two weeks after, when I could talk about it) and one of the owners cried.

I hear of kennels in Denver that have your dog on web-cam 24/7, shiatsu, you can call your dog on the phone, etc. but even if money were no object I'd take our local ," Your Best Friends" over any other. Knowing they're here makes me more confident to get another dog.

Its also nice when you know the employees are certified for animal first aid and CPR. The kennel I go to has employees who are certified animal care tech's. They not only LOVE my dog, but, they also know what to do in an emergency. They also groom, even for quick cleans I like to know the person bathing knows what they are doing. I wouldn't want to pick up my long coated breed only to find they created mats in the coat.

Boarding kennel tips:
TIPS FOR INSPECTING A BOARDING KENNEL



I was a boarding kennel manager for 13 years and worked in kennels previously for 4 years. I raise dogs and have also managed a Morgan breeding barn and been head assistant at a large pet store (the job from hell) in the bird/small mammal room and fish room.

1. Find out the kennel's normal business hours and drop by un-announced for a tour (Be polite and do not do this in the first hour or last hour they are open). If they will not let you examine the entire facility without an appointment, do not leave your dog.

2. On your tour notice the following things:
Each dog or family group has it's own indoor/"outdoor" run (outdoor runs may actually not be outdoors but should be attached but seperate from the sleeping/feeding area and should be at least 12' long) - some kennels do not have attached "outdoor" runs-unacceptable.
There should be a solid divider at least 3'high between runs.And if your dog is a climber they should have several totally covered "escape proof" runs.
The outside runs should be concrete that slopes so urine drains off. Some feces may be present, but not tons in every run.
Ask how often they scoop and are runs hosed & disinfected every day?
How are feces disposed of? A dumpster is ideal and a pile next to the building is bad Some odor may be present, but should not be strong & overpowering
Outside runs should be surrounded by a security fence of some type at least 6'high, in case a dog escapes from it's run
Windows, exhaust fans, heat & air conditioning are musts
Outside runs should have a roof covering them
Each dog must have water available during the daytime
All the dogs should not act afraid. Some may be shy and some aggressive, but most should seem happy or excited.

3. Will they feed the food you supply (if you want to), give pills or feed twice a day without extra charge?

4. If a dog soils itself will they wash it for free?

5. In the event of an emergency, do they have a 24 hr or on call vet available close by?

6. Do they feed a good quality food?

7. Are the food bowls washed each day?

8. What do local vets have to say about the kennel?

9. How experienced with dogs/cats is the help and do they seem good with the animals? Are any of the employees certified by the American Boarding Kennel Association as pet care technicians or by the Red Cross in Pet First Aid or (this is rare) are any actual Veterinary Technicians?

10. Special notes for cat owners: Are litter boxes dumped and disinfected daily are the cats in a room separate from the dogs are the cats allowed some time out of their cage each day (not with other cats) Windows are great, but any that open must have wire mesh over them to prevent escape. Is ventilation adequate-most cat illnesses are airborne.

11. All good kennels should require proof from your vet of vaccination against Distemper, Parvo, Rabies and Bordetella for dogs and feline distemper combination, Upper respiratory complex and rabies for cats. Alternatively, they may also accept Distemper/parvo titers tests in lieu of vaccination. If ferrets or rabbits are accepted they must be required to be vaccinated against rabies.

12. The kennel help should also check incoming animals for fleas. If an animal is found to have fleas/ticks it will/should be given a flea/tick bath which the owner will be expected to pay for.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



How To Not Add Stress to Your Pet When You Leave It At A Kennel

1. Fill out/sign any paperwork before you bring your pet inside.

2. Type or write any special instructions ahead of time and attach it to any special food/medication you will be bringing and bring all that stuff inside before your pet.

3. Do not bring blankets, beds or any toys that you will want returned to you.

4. When you bring your pet inside, simply give it a quick pat and leave. DO NOT make a production about it or your pet will stress out.

5. When picking up your pet, pay your bill and take all belongings/food out to the car first. Then have the help put your leash on your dog or cat into carrier prior to bringing the pet out to you. Do not make a production over your reunion, simply take your pet out get in the car and go. This will also avoid puddles on the floor!

6. Any problems should be reported within 24 hours to the owner or manager.

I think you are on the right track to do those things that you and other customers think need to be done and not to do the things people don’t like.

I think the essence of your plan should be individualized care and play / exercise time with the dogs. To me; that’s the big thing, keeping my dog active to prevent frustration. I don’t care about the wash, groom, etc.

BTW there is no human in the world that can stop unleashed dogs from starting a fight in an open area if they choose to (except perhaps Cesar, haha). So… as much as I would love my dog to play with others, play time will have to be one dog at a time (with a few very rare and strict exceptions). In fact in NC it’s the rule unless you have signed waivers. Even then the risk might be too much.

Let’s say you promise an hour of play a day. That limits you to about seven dogs if you have only one play area and/or handler. At $25 a day that’s a maximum of about $175 for a day when you are fully booked. Not much income especially after expenses. That’s why so many places keep more dogs but only let them out for bathroom breaks.

As for food that’s easy.. Owners must bring their own. You should still stock a small quantity of high quality food in case you run out of theirs. I really don’t see the big deal with returning unused portions and containers as long as they are kept separate and you don’t have other dogs eating from each others, etc. But then again a big ziplock is cheap insurance to prevent problems.

I have left my dog with a “kennel” which was only run as a sideline by a co-worker. He had a typical fenced back yard for play and had the guest dogs there, in the house, or in crates in the garage. They spent the nights in the crates. While this worked it was not ideal and there was a little spat now and again amongst the dogs when they were out together. Did he have insurance and a license? Maybe.

So I moved up to a place that has individual rooms for the dogs with connecting outside areas (each 10x10), slide down doors to close off the outside area in bad weather and at night. (I once lived in a smaller room when I was in college!) They bring the dogs out one at time for exercise; the amount of time depends on how many are there. Every time she has gone here she has done just great, with none of the residual effects you see at overcrowded kennels where they spend all day locked up. However at $34 a day I have to limit the amount she stays there.

If I were you I would start just boarding a few (no more than three) dogs on a part time basis for friends, people at the dog park, etc. Get their feedback and see how it goes for you. This would take very little investment and give you an idea of what it’s like. No outbuilding needed to get started but I would think you would build one if the business gets serious.

I would get a license. They are inexpensive and the inspection may help you have a better kennel. Of course some of the things they may require will mean you have to spend money. Look at the inspection reports on the web site I mentioned to see what kind of things they are requiring. Insurance and possibly incorporating (as a LLC?) are to protect you from losing everything you own if the worst happens. Sounds worthwhile to me!

I see you are only one county over from me. You might want to come visit K9Cabins to see what I consider a heck of a set up. You dont need to go as far as they do but it will give you some ideas, and the owner is very nice. The place I go was based in part on K9Cabins and I went there because K9Cabins had no vacancy at the time.

Boarding kennel startup help
My first and most impprtant question to you is: Have you worked in a kennel before?

If not, then get a job right away in one. You have no idea how much work it is, especially for the Owner. You are pretty much working 24/7. Even with employees working for you, Those dogs are ultimatly your responsibility as the owner of the business, and you will be involved with everything, no matter how much you physicaly work. So if you have never worked in a kennel, then I strongly suggest you do that first. You'd be surprised how many people are not cut out for it. Just because you love dogs does not mean you should work with them.

as far as your idea to run it in your home, I think thats not a very good one (respectfully so). Mainly because I work in these places, and know how messy it can get. Yeah a couple dogs, not much clean up, but get over 10, and its a lot of mess. I can't think of a possible way to correctly sanitize your house. Imagine if a dog came with just one flea. You would have to shut down completely in order to wash everything and bomb the house. If you have a seperate place for dogs to go, preferably a couple different places, then cleanup becomes much easier. If you are running it on your own property, having a seperate kennel and place to sleep will be a godsend for you. And if you want this to grow into anything other than taking care of friends/family/neighbor dogs, then you need to have something more professional than just the inside of your home. Just because its not in your home doesnt mean you you can't make the kennel homey though. One place I worked, we had concrete floors for easy clean up, but had rugs and lots of blankets/beds for dogs, pictures of all our regular clients all over the place, hand drawen pictures of dogs, our owners show ribbons, clients professional pictures of pets, all sorts of things to make it confortable and cozy for the dogs. You are right, environment does make a difference with the dogs and how they get along in a new place. But in your own home, trust me, you will regret that decision.

As far as play groups, I have worked in a few different places that all had different ways of doing things. At one place, There were 2 main yards, big and small (it got more complicated than that, but that was the main breakdown) we would have not more than 10-12 dogs in one yard, and had an inside area as well for those dogs that were "people dogs". our max was at about 35, and that was when we had more small dogs than big dogs. There was always at least one person with each group. So if we had over 20 dogs, 3-5 people worked and were basically assigned a yard, and we rotated yards with each other all day. The worst injury we ever had was when 2 dogs jumped into each other going for the same ball, and one chipped a tooth. our boss and managers did extensive research on fights and we trained all of our employees what the signs of potential fights were, and how to break up that energy before a fight ever happened. Because of that training, we never had one serious fight with the dogs. Another place I worked does things differently, b/c they didnt have the staff to do the same thing. They had many seperate yards, and big huge runs. Small groups of dogs can play together without getting a pack metality and get along. Its harder to do, b/c some dogs are worse with others one on one, but when a dog finds a best friend, its awesome to see them play together the whole time for boarding. we would switch the groups and locations of dogs around so they were always seeing new things. the property was huge, in a orange grove, so the dogs were very stimulated without having to play their guts out.

I live in southern CA so the rates are I guess a lot more here, 35-50 is average. You Definetly want insurance, but do know that a lot of insurance companies will not insure you to board pitbulls, rotties, dobies, etc. The first place i talked about had that kind of policy b/c we had dogs in yards playing together. The next place I mentioned didn't have that kind of policy b/c they had individual runs and yards should a dog not be socialized and need to be alone. You also should consider that. Some dogs are not dog friendly. If you have the kind of setup you are talking about, you could only accept dog friendly dogs, and would have to do much more assessment of the dog (which requires a good deal of knowledge about dog body language and such). If you have areas where dogs can be by themselves, you won't alienate a whole group of dogs that could be customers. I liked being able to board non dog friendly dogs, b/c those dogs are usually fine with people, and great to play with. its not much harder to board them, just more time consuming.

As far as advertising, you shouldnt need much if you are doing a good jobn at running your business. Since you want to start slow anyways, you shouldnt need much more advertising, than maybe fliers at your local pet store, or something like that. First place I mentionjed was always booked for holidays, and very rarely had under 15 dogs in the place, and the owner never did any advertising, not once she'd started the business. She started with a few clients, just people she had met and talked to, and those people just kept referring. She still gets a lot of those dogs in (shes only been in business 5 years), and she is always very thankful to them, b/c they pretty much made her business. The other place I mentioned does very minimul advertising as well. I think the only advertising they did when I waas there was an ad for the new groomer when she started. They also started very small, added little by little, original customers referred other people, and now they are almost always over 20 dogs a day. So really, the best way I can tell you to advertise is to have a good business and treat people well. I would also just put up a website, not so much for advertising, but just for info. Its a good place to put up pictures and stuff, dog owners love that sort of thing and it proves that you are interested in the dogs.

We successfully transformed a house into luxury suites at our boarding facility
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:16 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Pretty much everything ZeldaRules said. Ive worked at many places that board, and I groom now.
If you can, you really need to find one to work at, even if its temporary, just to see what goes on, what you need, what works, what doesn't.

And anything that can WILL happen.

You WILL need insurance, dogs will get cuts, scrapes, limp, they will get in fights, are you going to take dogs to the vet for every visible issue? or only life threatening?
We've had dogs bloody themselves silly in kennels digging to get out, dogs jaws get stuck in kennel doors, typical scrapes and cuts from playing rough with other dogs, dog with puncture wounds from dog fights.
Clients will call you days/weeks later and say their dog got kennel cough/fleas/mange/cut/hives//mauled etc from your facility and demand you pay their vet bills.
Dogs will even die, not saying that is normal, but dogs have health issues that no one knows about and a play day can turn into a heart attack.
My friends french bulldog had a heart condtion no one knew about, and died at daycare at 1 year old. Just was playing one minute, then just fell over and died. It was all on video.
We had a Golden playing fetch and the ball got lodged in his throat, and no one could get it out and he choked to death in minutes.
Another dog bloated and had to be rushed to the vet and would have died if staff wasn't trained to see the symptoms.
You have to know what your protocol will be when this happens. Will you pay for a necropsy when your clients threaten to sue? Not saying this to scare you, but these are things you HAVE to plan for.

What will be your policy on who is allowed? What will be your limit on health issues? dog agggressive breeds? Some do not allow any bully breeds in daycare, some only if the dog proves they are good with other dogs (they start out with 1 on 1 play time with a dog they know is good and move from there)
Will you allow intact dogs? Will you allow only 1 intact dog per group? What will you do if you realize a female is in heat?
Dogs that are reactive? dogs that hate men? A dog that suddently becomes aggressive that no one can touch/catch.

Will you do feeding? what brand will you offer? Will you have the space for 30 different brands of dog food when all the clients bring in their own food?

We also had issues with lazy people and when you are short staffed and they are all you have, what will you do? People who would text on their phones and not pay attention. who knew nothing about body language/didn't care and didn't do anything until the dogs were already fighting. You have to remember, you will only be able to afford to pay them minimum wage and it is a VERY HARD JOB. You will have high turn over, and a lot of employees that don't make the cut. For every 10 you hire, 1 MIGHT make the cut.

We had weeks of being understaffed where everyone we hired, would come for their first shift, and just not come back after lunch. Or not return after 3-4 days. You have to make it clear during their interview that its not playing with dogs and puppies all day, you will have to deal with piss, poop, vomit, anal glands, fleas, not only cleaning it up, but getting it on you, aggressive dogs, scared dogs, LOTS of cleaning, always on your feet, no down time. WILL have to work holidays and weekends and 5am shifts.

You will also deal with some of the rudest, most ignorant clients. Who will demand things for free, will demand they get exactly what they want, who do not care why their dog didn't make the cut, will expect you to just deal with it and do what they ask. Who will throw a fit when they go to drop their dog off before work, and you decline the dog for a medical reason/temperament issue.

You will need a system to document every dog, their temperament, vaccines, food, what groups they are okay with, what dogs they might not get along with. Document every scrape/cut/issue they come in with and leave with. You do not want mix ups and end up with a male aggressive dog in a large group because someone wasn't paying attention.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:44 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sinister View Post

I know I'm going to need a loan, to pay for flooring, kennels for boarders, basic doggie necessities, and office supplies. I know nothing about permits as well, so anyone who happens to know about doggie daycare permits specifically would be helpful. (I have a whole year to get a game plan, I'm just in the early stages. I've only done light research!)

Congrats!!

Go to score.org

Free Small Business Advice | How-to Resources | Tools | Templates | SCORE is a great place to start. This is a free service. They assign you with a mentor that can help you with business plans, obtaining loans & other useful tools. All the mentors are business owners & there are also many free seminars you can watch online or attend. I started my own (non-dog related) business March 2012. This was an awesome resource & most importantly it is FREE.

Good luck!
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:06 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for your input so far. Once I get on my laptop I'll reply in full
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:46 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Lots of great advice! I would say, from owning 2 businesses that entailed employees (florist - 10 years and veterinarian clinic 15 years) that your biggest headaches will come from employee management. Having employees is also a HUGE expense and when you add in matching SS, employment taxes, and all the various insurances you'll need there is a whole side to this business which requires a tremendous amount of research and training. No one is born knowing how to manage a business with employees so I advise you to get as much education on this topic as any of the other "obvious" needs with the animals. I can't even fathom how much you'd have to borrow to cover employee costs for the startup. Definitely use SCORE - awesome resource!!

Looking forward to hearing about your year of research and plans!
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:28 PM   #25 (permalink)
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"Business Plan for Dog Daycare Center:
Rates and services:
DAYCARE: Day care is open from 6am to 7-pm. Drop off is 6am-7pm, pick up is 6pm-7pm. You may pick up your pooch anywhere in between, but after 7pm you will be charged extra for overnight boarding. Please call prior to pick up of drop off, so we know what to expect and have your dog ready to go.
Single dog all-day fee: $25. Under 4 hour stay: $7per hour.
Additional dog fees: Second dog is $15 additional dollars to the first dog ($25). If three or more dogs are brought in from the same family, it is $10 per additional dog. Any stay under 4 hours will be charged $7 a dog, per hour.
OVERNIGHT BOARDING FOR DAYCARE CLIENTS ONLY: If you are unable to pick up your dog(s), we do offer overnight boarding. From 7pm-7am are the overnight boarding times. It will be $50 for this time. Starting at 7:30 will be official daycare time, and standard daycare rates apply. Daycare clients ONLY.
BOARDING: To my daycare clients ONLY, I will offer boarding for no more than 5 days. Boarding will be $75/day, with $25 for each additional dog. We are staffed 24/7, and will send updates via phone call or webcam whenever requested.
GROOMING: We will have a trained groomer staffed during the week. We offer bathing, basic shaving/trimming, nail filling/clipping, and brushing. Depending on your dogs size will determine prices. Grooming is additional. If a dog is dirty from playing, or soils itself during the day, bathing is on us. Daycare clients ONLY.
PUPPY SOCIALIZATION: This is a basic, drop-in hour for any puppy under 20 weeks. Requirements for this social: puppies must be started on their parvo/distemper shot, and must have their bordetella vaccination. This class will give pointers on basic obedience, as well as time for the puppies to play and greet. You do not have to be a daycare client for this service. The times run from 7:30-8:30pm and are $15 per pup. Drop ins are on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights!

Protocol, how we do things:
Before beginning daycare, your dog(s) must be temperament tested. This will happen for an entire day of day care, and will be $35 for this initial day. Your dog will then be placed in a group depending on his/her personality. There are four groups; one for puppies, one for medium-large active dogs, one for medium-large less active dogs, and a group for small dogs. There will be no more than 10 dogs a group. Unfortunately, I will not have more than 45 dogs a day. Schedules are very important here, and your time with us must be predetermined.
From 6-7am will be typical drop-off hours. Dogs will be placed in their group(s) inside. At 8am, dog groups will start going outside for free time play. Our yard is divided into two sections so two groups are able to have free-time. While two groups are outside, two groups inside will be doing interactive activities, whether that be a mind activity (group training games), or physical activity (such as group fetch). At 9am, the groups will switch from indoor to outdoor. At 10am, there will be an hour break for each dog. Dogs will be separated or crated to relax. At 11, dogs will be taken out one-by-one for potty breaks and individual time. This will run until about 1-2pm. At 2pm, we will start groups again, rotating indoor or outdoor. At 4pm we will have another nap/break session for an hour. From 5pm to 6-7pm will either be individual time, or group time, depending on the group dynamic. Also between this time, dogs will typically be going home. If you are late (after 7pm), if not otherwise specified, you WILL be charged for overnight boarding. We do have night staff that watches over the dogs, take the outside, etc. they will happily help check your dog out, but you WILL be charged if you did not call two hours before daycare ends to specify your delay. No exceptions.
As far as grooming goes: our groomer will be with us 3 days a week. She will be working during individual or nap time during the morning/afternoon. What distinguishes a dog getting dirty on us? Rolling (for whatever reason) in bodily fluid, mass amounts of dirt, or soiling oneself will be taken care of by us. Otherwise, standard grooming rates apply and will only happen if owner specifies beforehand.
<<Injuries: dogs can, and will hurt themselves. We strive to make your dogs experience with us comfortable, fun, and safe. But accidents can and will happen. We have a vet 15 minutes away, as well and an emergency vet on-call at all times. (insert name of business) is not liable for any injuries during daycare and boarding hours. (add disclaimer/legal stuff) >>
<<Ill also add feeding information, intact animal information, and packages/fees. This is what I have thus far, I hope this answers some questions. I would like to add in some webcams, but Ill have to see once we get there.>>"
Sorry this is so brief. I'll come back in a few hours and answer things specifically. Thanks everyone!!
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