Research pet services before getting a dog.

Always research pet care services before bringing home a sweet dog like this one.

Research ethical pet care services before getting a dog

By now I hope you have read parts 1 through 3 of this 5-part series that explains the 5 things you need to know before getting a dog. In this 4th segment of this series, you will learn how to research pet care services before getting a dog.

As you prepare to welcome a dog into your home, I recommend that you research to find ethical pet care services. Not all pet care services will ensure that your dog is safe while in their care. So I refer to ones that provide a caring and safe environment for your dog as ethical pet care services. And if you research this in advance, you will give your self the time to contact the various services and ask them questions to be able to choose the ones that are safe for your pet.

Research local veterinarians

Currently, because of the explosion of people acquiring dogs during COVID, there may be a shortage of veterinarian clinics accepting new clients in your region. Given this, it’s possible that the veterinarian clinic you choose may not have availability. So it’s important that you call some veterinarians in your area to confirm if they are taking new clients.

You might wonder what do I consider a high quality veterinarian service to be? For me, I choose a veterinarian who takes the time to explain medical diagnosis and all treatment options and someone who does not recommend any unneccesary procedures, treatments, or medications.

Plus, no one knows your dog as well a you do! So it’s important that your future veterinarian asks you lots of questions about your pet’s habits and behaviour to get a sense of what might be wrong when she’s not feeling well. Because sometimes the illness is not obvious. And based on your answers, she can get a senses of what’s normal for your pet and what might be a possible health issue.

Research local dog groomers

As I previously wrote about this topic, even though you will want your dog to look beautiful after being groomed, their safety is the ultimate important factor in making that choice. So be sure to read my blog on how to find a high quality groomer.

And keep in mind, although some breeds do not need to have their fur trimmed because they are short haired, all dogs need to be bathed and have their nails trimmed on a regular basis. And it may not be possible for you to do this yourself. So it’s important to research pet grooming services before getting a dog.

Find a high quality dog walker

Whether you want a group walk or a private walk (in which your dog is walked with no other dogs), start interviewing dog walking services before getting a dog.

Here a a few tips:

  • Confirm that the dog walking company is fully insured to cover any injuries that your dog may sustained under their care and supervision. And if you will be providing that person a key to access your home, they will be covered by insurance in case they accidentally damage anything in your home.
  • Determine how many years they have been in business and get references from current clients.
Find out if the service has a designated dog walker with same group of dogs
  • Find out if the service has a staff of dog walkers or will the business owner be the sole service provider that will be walking your dog. If they have staff, ask if you will have a designated walker with the same group of dogs every time. It’s best if you get the same person and the same group of dogs permanently.
  • You will be trusting someone to be coming into your house to get your dog. So you need to consider your home security. And dogs generally do better going out with the same group rather than new dogs being introduced to each other on a regular basis. So it’s peace of mind to have the same person with same group of dogs to be allocated to your dog. A high quality dog walking company would operate in this manner.
  • Ask them how many dogs they have in their care at one time, where do they take the dogs and if your dog will be off leash. If you want your dog to have off leash adventures, then be sure that the walker has experience with overseeing a group of off leash dogs. You need to be completely comfortable with the size of the group (whether on or off leash walks) and where they will take your dog on her outings.
  • Be sure to meet the dedicated dog walker before you hire their service. Because you need to know the person you will be trusting with your dog safety and your home security.

Choose a high a quality dog boarding service.

What to know about industrial pet hotel settings.

When you have a dog in your family, you need to plan for who will take care of him when you travel. And although you may have several friends or family members who promise to have your pooch stay with them when you leave town, life throws curve balls and it’s possible that these people may not be able to pet sit your dog when you schedule your trip. So I recommend that you take the time to research pet boarding services before getting a dog. This way you can plan your future vacations knowing that she will be well cared for while you are away.

Consider the following aspects of a boarding service to assess if they are high quality:
  • Where is the facility located geographically. Will that location be convenient for you and safe for your dog. Because some profit seeking boarding facilities might use buildings that are located in industrial areas with potential exposure to dangers.
Will your dog be staying in someone’s home or in a warehouse type facility?
  • All warehouse type environment generally have a large number of dogs staying there at the same time. And the more dogs that stay in any boarding facility at one time, the more the risk of dogs attacking other dogs. And there’s a higher risk of your dog getting injured, acquiring kennel cough, or escaping with low human-to-dog ratio supervision. Because these types of services operate in a way to maximize profits, they likely sacrifice the quality of the care. So your dog may be left in unsafe circumstances either just by being in the same space of other dogs that may not be friendly or by unknown dangers on the grounds.
How will your dog be spending his time?
  • What will your dog being doing throughout their day? Where will they be situated in the facility during the day? If they will be playing on the business’ property, is it fully fenced in? How do they guarantee that the gates are kept closed so your dog doesn’t escape? Are there any holes dug out under the fence by dogs or wild animals that could allow yours to escape? Will they be taking your dog off the property? If so, where will they be taking her? And will your dog be off leash? If so, ask them questions about how the dogs roam off leash on road trips? Ask how they will transport your dog either to/from your home or on road trips? Are all dogs safely restrained in the vehicle during such trips? What type of vehicle will they be using to transport your dog? How many dogs at once will be in the vehicle? And consider if you are willing to place your dog in such circumstances. As you can suspect, there will be higher risk of your dog experiencing injury or escaping if off leash in a public place. Plus, even in a dedicated public off leash fenced in dog park, the risk of dogs getting involved in dog fights is higher as they are emerged with unfamiliar dogs.
Home boarding is so much better!
  • A much better scenario, is to board your dog with a pet care provider who keeps the boarders in their home. Because, as you can imagine, your dog will get to be in the comfort of a residential house instead of an institutional facility. But that alone does not necessarily mean you found a high quality dog care service! You still need to ask them how many dogs do they board at once. And you will want to ask many other questions.
How many dogs are boarded in the home at the same time?
  • In many jurisdictions, there are local by-laws that restrict the number of dogs that can live (even temporarily) on a residential property. Often that number is up to three dogs. But there are many reasons why you may not want to leave your pooch in a home where there might be more than three dogs. Because the more dogs that are staying in that home, the more likely the dogs can get into trouble. Whether that be fighting with each other or even simply eating something dangerous off the floor in the backyard because the person has to watch over all the dogs 24/7. So the fewer number of dogs staying in that person’s home the better to avoid your pooch getting injured or escaping.
How safe will your dog be in their care?
  • Is the backyard fully fenced in with a gate that is ensured to be kept closed 100% of the time? And are the grounds surveyed to make sure there are no wholes dug under the fence that can allow your dog to escape?
  • Who in the house will be caring for your dog? Will the home owner have staff staying at her house if she travels while dogs are staying with her? I recommend that you choose a home boarding service in which the home owner is the care giver without having staff cover for her.
  • Where do the dogs sleep? Often it’s safer for dogs to be kept in a crate with cozy bedding than allowing them to potentially roam around the house when everyone is asleep. Because they can get into trouble in a place that is not their own home. Even multiple dogs that awaken each other can get into a fight when unsupervised. Because, after all, they are living beings with unpredictable behaviour in a new environment.
  • Are there children or other types of animals living in the house (such as cats, other small pets, or dogs that live there? It’s important ask the person the children’s ages and how they are supervised with the dogs if they are young. Plus, you will want to ensure that their pets are dog friendly.
  • But generally, as you already can guess, the cost of home boarding can be twice as much or more than a ” pet hotel” type service. Nevertheless, you also know that, generally speaking, you get what you pay for.

Locate a force-free dog trainer

Whether you plan on adopting a dog from a high quality rescue shelter or to buy a puppy from a high quality breeder, it is likely that you will need the assistance of a dog trainer at some point and maybe periodically during your pet’s lifetime. So do the research to find a force-free dog trainer before getting a dog.

The term force-free means that the trainer never applies any force upon the dog and uses only positive reinforcement techniques. Below are three dog training associations that I recommend and to which I belong as excellent resources for you to find a trainer.

Canada: The Canadian Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Canada and international trainers: The International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants

Canada and International trainers: Companion Animal Sciences Institute

Stay tuned for the final segment of this series!

In part 5 of this series, you will learn about planning for who will take care of your dog if you no longer can do so due to life- changing circumstances.

Yours in better dog care, Judy

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