Sunday, April 5, 2009

In-home dog boarding

In addition to pet sitting, I offer in-home boarding for dogs (and an occasional cat). This is the Easter holiday week, and today I have 7 dogs here in addition to my four. It's quite a crowd. My usual numer is 2-4 dogs visiting at a time. 

You may want to offer in-home boarding on a smaller scale. I don't keep the dogs in kennels, though I do have one dog run for emergencies. They all play together in the house and yard and sleep together at night. I feed everyone separately in crates or different parts of the yard or house.

I have a section of my house set up to be totally dog friendly:
• The hallways are paneled half way up with dark wood that doesn't show the dirt (though there are a few chew marks on the corners).
• I have a permanent baby gate in the hallway that keeps the dogs out of the bedrooms, and provides an escape route for my two cats. Sometimes I have to cover it with a beach towel so the dogs can't see the cats. 
• The floors in the main area are ceramic tile for easy cleaning.
•I have baby gates that I can section off the front hall or kitchen to keep dogs separated at night, for feeding or safety reasons.
• I have no area rugs, just dog beds--WASHABLE.
• The couch and recliner have removable, washable covers. It doesn't look as awful as you might imagine!
• This is my personal space too. My computer, drafting table for artwork, and television are all here so I can do things while everyone is playing.

At night, everyone sleeps indoors. Some dogs sleep in crates, depending on age, temperament, and destruction tendencies! Crates are also great for time-outs if anyone gets too rowdy. I have several crates, and some owners bring theirs so their dog feels more at home, sleeping amid familiar smells.

The outdoor setup
Recently, because I have a lot of dogs here, I sectioned off a portion of the yard so smaller dogs could go outside without having to deal with the big guys. I also put up a solid fence (instead of my old chain link) to keep the noise down. The neighbor dogs like to come over and fence-fight, and that has now been stopped. 

I live in a neighborhood with half-acre lots, so I have lots of room, but it is still a neighborhood, and I keep the dogs as quiet as possible. I have wonderful neighbors who don't mind them. The back portion of my property is fenced off for my horses, and I have a strong welded wire fence (not woven wire–these are called hog panels) between them and the dogs. Occasionally there is a dog who likes to bark at the horses, and that one spends more time indoors.

The most important factor is that the dogs HAVE to get along well. Aggression just doesn't work in a group setting.

One dog that comes here, Nate, a lab, loves to pick up everything and carry it around. So when he's here, I close crate doors so he won't steal beds. I put away the patio cushions, horse lead ropes, paper towels, shoes and other odds and ends I would usually leave laying around. I also clear off the kitchen counters.

When puppies are here I use Chew-Stop or Bitter Apple, and have lots of acceptable chewies around. Puppies chew dog beds, shoes, furniture and anything else they find. Most big dogs shred stuffed animals, kongs, tennis balls, and just about everything else, so I limit toys for them to Galileo bones (absolutely the toughest chewie around). One gallon water bottles or one liter pop bottles are great toys for the big dogs, but I have to watch and take them away when they start to get shredded.

I started a cactus garden in my back yard but have gradually moved all the thorny succulents out front. Several clients worried that their dogs would poke an eye out on the thorns. I don't have fussy flowerbeds out back, just some bushes.  I carefully avoid plants like oleander, which is poisonous. 

For grass, (if you could call it that in my yard) bermuda and St Augustine are the strongest. Mine is a mixture of weeds and bermuda, mowed by the horses. There is a lot of dirt in my back yard, which means dirty dogs. My clients understand this and expect their dog to play hard and get dirty while he's here. 

The big dogs play so hard they wear themsleves out, so evening are pretty relaxing, with dogs spread all over the floor and furniture. I warn owners that their dog will go home very tired from the fun and stress of being with other dogs. The photo above shows Indy, Max and Nate, worn out from a good game!

My liability insurance covers dog day care and boarding in my home. There was an extra charge for this coverage. 

I'll write more about the subject in future posts!


randy said...

This is really a nice site related to pets.It all depends on your life style, personality and what roll you want a pet to play in your life.Dogs will make better pets if you want a pet that you can take for walks and go places with and play with.Cats are good pets if you want a pet that is easy to care for, and likes to settle on your lap and sleep.
Cats Pets

Santa Monica Dog Boarding said...

I prefer to pet-sit in your home, as that is where your dog(s) will feel most comfortable and will not have to adjust to a new environment. This is a newer concept in L.A., but it's what the professionals in New York have been doing for years!