Our mission is that every dog that comes to us goes home safe, happy, and tired.
However, injury and illness are not common, but risks exist any time that dogs are in group play be it in daycare, on a dog walk, in a park, on a beach, or even at home with siblings.
Arguably in a controlled dog-centric environment where staff are trained, experienced, and have knowledge of dogs and behaviour, they can quickly step in the risks are reduced greatly.
But even best friends will fall out occasionally or will fight over a resource be this food toys or their favourite human.
This is why we need to be strict in our terms and conditions and our vet policy.
The number of injuries here is extremely low, and any injuries are normally fairly minor and easily treated. That is not to say that we don’t take them seriously. We try to learn and improve from every situation and we have no hesitation in refusing dogs that we feel will cause issues.
In addition, if your dog requires medical attention and we cannot reach you, we must take your dog to a nearby vet of our choice, and you would be responsible for the costs associated with this visit.
We will always notify you of an injury we are aware of.
If a scuffle has taken place, we will always check the dogs involved, and if there is an injury (however minor) is incurred, we will let you know.
We would never hope that you don’t notice an injury. Obviously, everyone would notice an injury sooner or later, and this would be foolish on our behalf.
However, sometimes it is difficult to spot an injury. A scratch or minor bite can be under a dog’s fur and very difficult to notice, especially if a dog does not show signs of pain.
Unless there has been a scuffle or signs of pain, our staff do not check each dog for injuries each day.
If an injury has occurred:
- First, take a deep breath, step back, and know that we are not the terrible business that you emotions are suggesting. The most important factor is communication, and we hope that we can keep it all as positive as possible.
- Most of our employees have dogs, and we all care for dogs deeply. We understand that your dog is your baby, because we feel the same way about our own dogs. Don’t ever assume that we don’t care about your dog.
- If your dog requires daily care that you cannot easily provide because, for example, you are at work, we are happy to arrange home visits to take it out for potty breaks, give medicine, change bandages, and whatever is necessary to restore its health and help you out.
- Our goal is to get to the bottom of situations, so we ask questions and try to give reasonable explanations. The majority of the time, we are on top of what happened, but there are times when we may not have all of the answers. This does not mean we are being defensive, dishonest, not taking responsibility, or that our staff are not paying attention. It is a fact of life when working with animals that things happen quickly, and not everything has an easy explanation.
- If there is a bite injury, and it is challenging to understand the exact cause because there was no incident, this does not necessarily mean that there is an undercover aggressive dog who will do it again. Our staff normally know very quickly if a dog shouldn’t be in play, and there could likely be other explanations.
How We Help Minimize the Risk of Bite Injuries:
- We operate on a target of 1:8 (one person to eight dogs) but never exceed 1: 10. Each staff member is allocated 10 dogs and it is their responsibility to care for those dogs while with us.
- We never leave dogs alone in play.
- We have multiple staff for each play group, and they must patrol the area to watch for issues. They are not allowed to be on their mobile phones or otherwise not pay attention.
- We don’t allow dogs in play who show patterns of unacceptable aggression, as obviously it is our goal that no injuries occur. It can sometimes be challenging because a dog could snap unpredictably due to being tired or overwhelmed, and most cases are shades of gray instead of pure black and white. If a dog shows a pattern of snappy behavior, growling, etc. it would very likely be pulled from play. We are the sole judge of whether a dog can come back into play in the future. We do not factor in how much money a customer spends with us when making this decision.
- We strongly dissuade customers from bringing their dog more than four times per week, as this can lead to their dog becoming overly tired and possibly snappy.
- We multiple resources toys/etc in play, to avoid resource-guarding issues.
- We do not allow dogs in play who are not spayed or neutered after 1 year, as this can lead to aggression from the other dogs. This is for your and other dogs’ protection.
- Dogs cannot be in play if they become aggressive towards specific breeds, sizes, colors, and so forth. It would be impossible for us to guarantee that your dog would never come in contact with another based on such specific criteria.
- We have separate areas for the dogs to play or need time out. Some dogs just need a break from the stimulation, and we watch carefully for this, giving extra nap time when it seems appropriate and necessary.
- We train our staff on behavior that is common for dogs, and even for specific breeds. This helps them watch for warning signs and de-escalate play when possible.
How Can a Bite or Scratch Happen?
- It is not common that one dog is simply the aggressor and one is the innocent victim. One dog could snap at another, then the other retaliates, then another may jump in the mix, all in under three seconds. They are dogs, and this can be a part of pack behavior.
- A bite or scratch can happen in a split second while playing, with no fight or scuffle, and the dogs could keep playing afterward. They play with their teeth and nails and often do not intend to cause injury to each other.
- A puppy can have sharp nails or teeth, and some dogs have long nails. We try to catch this, and we try to communicate to puppy owners to keep puppy nails clipped, but some puppies can still come with sharp nails. There’s not a lot that can be done about sharp teeth, except that dogs don’t react well to them and can help a puppy learn to keep it gentle simply through pack behavior.
- Some breeds such as boxers and bulldogs have very thin fur, so little protection against scratches and play bites. New owners of these breeds often find this out the hard way, but we do believe you will find scratches on your dog throughout its life, whether coming to daycare or not, and that’s part of the joy of owning one.
- Our staff are watching over a group of dogs, and it is impossible for them to be everywhere at once. Otherwise, we would have one staff member for every dog here.
- Ears and certain areas on the body such as the lower leg can have very thin skin and can be very sensitive to playbites or scratches.
- Dogs communicate by showing their teeth, sometimes by biting at the air when they want another dog to go away or back off. Sometimes another dog doesn’t understand the signals and retaliates, especially a younger dog or one who has not had a lot of experience at dog parks
- It is possible that when biting at the air, the dog actually connects with the other dog. It can be made worse if the other dogs pulls backwards, which could cause a tear instead of a minor puncture. Some injuries can be made worse due to this than they otherwise would have been.
- Some dogs could simply be overwhelmed by being in play, especially because this is a larger group than they are used to at home, and they may not go to dark parks often.
- Some dogs can get snappy when tired. If we know this is the case, we give extra nap time to those dogs, but it may not be apparent that the dog is overly tired.
- Humping is not allowed, as some dogs react very negatively towards it. Even though we repeatedly attempt to keep a dog from humping, it could still try. We would likely remove the dog from play, but it is a judgment call about whether the dog can come back into play.
- We move dogs in groups to go to different rooms throughout each day. For example, we may take a group outside, or we may take dogs as a group for nap time or lunch. A bite or other injury could occur when dogs are moving together like this, even if one jumps on another in excitement. It can be difficult to notice, and could happen with no warning, no scuffle, no yelp, and no prior aggression.
- A dog can suddenly become territorial over something, such as a door, a staff member, a pool, and so forth, without showing prior warning signs. We try to help manage this, but can’t stop every dog in every instance, and this leads to difficult decisions about whether certain dogs can be in play.
- Some dogs were recently rescued and the owners are trying give them a chance at socialization. We try to help with this effort, and we err on the side of caution when it’s iffy. However, we don’t want to immediately say a dog can’t be in play. On the other hand, we cannot have a dog in play who obviously can’t handle it. It is a judgment call.
- Some dogs are completely fine until a new dog enters the pack. It can be challenging to predict this, especially for new dogs. If a dog shows a pattern of aggressive behavior in these instances, we must make a decision about whether it can be in play, as it depends on the specific behavior.
- Some dogs can get really nervous and overwhelmed when they first enter a pack, especially with a bunch of sniffers coming at them. A dog could lash out, feeling like it has to protect itself. We ask owners questions about this, and expect people to tell us if they expect this will happen. We do encourage that dogs who may do this come as early as possible so the pack forms around them. If they just can’t handle it, we would be speaking with the owner about an alternative plan, as we can’t have this happen.
- We give dogs time to get used to it, and the vast majority of them do. Sometimes they just need to experience group play and our staff for a while, then they are fine. We don’t necessarily want to keep them from play forever, unless it’s just obvious that it won’t work.
- We have features in our facility that are standard for dog daycare, such as seamless flooring, playground equipment, doors, and boarding suites for naptime, and a dog could injure itself from one of these features. For example, a dog could sustain an ACL injury while in play or jumping off a piece of playground equipment. We are not responsible for injury in these instances.
- We ask all new boarding customers to bring their dog in for a free trial day of play before their first stay with us. This helps understand how the dog will be in play and take any corrective action if necessary.
Other types of injuries
- “Happy tail” – a situation that occurs when a dog wags its tail happily and forcefully, and smacks it against the wall or something similar
- “Kennel nose” – a situation where a dog in a boarding suite rubs its nose raw, typically due to anxiety
- Internal injury, which could happen for example if a bite caused something to rupture below your dog’s skin
- Aggravation of pre-existing injury. A bite or other injury could aggravate a pre-existing health condition.
We are not liable for these or similar situations.
Illness and Other Health Conditions
If a person’s child gets sick at school, you wouldn’t normally blame the school, but would say it was caught from another child. With pets, some people tend to apply different logic, saying that the business got their dog sick. We do not get dogs sick – other dogs do, and we take reasonable precautions against this occurring.
- We vigorously require ongoing proof of vaccinations for all dogs who enter our facility for any service, including for Canine Influenza (H3N2).
- Like humans, some dogs can carry an illness but not show any signs of it themselves, then pass it along to others. The customer may not even realize it themselves. This can be very challenging, but is a reality with dogs.
If a dog shows any sign of contagious illness:
- We immediately remove any dog from play who shows signs of contagious illness, and get it to the vet immediately if necessary.
- Our air handling system brings in tons of fresh air throughout the day, has UV lights to kill contaminants, and exhausts air to the outside.
- Our floors and walls are seamless in order to minimize the harboring of bacteria.
- We keep our facility very clean, including scrubbing floors and walls every night.
- We clean up poop right away, but some dogs love to eat it. If a dog eats poop, this can lead to health conditions such as gastroenteritis, worms, or giardia. We strongly dissuade having dogs in play who eat poop.
- We use veterinary-grade chemicals that are specifically made for pet care and combatting pet-related illnesses. We spend more on chemicals than typical pet businesses because health and well-being are very important to us.
- We use the chemicals every day, we dilute them, and we have found that they are not harmful to dogs. They are used in veterinary and other animal-related facilities across the country, and are meant for this purpose. We are not responsible if your dog has a reaction to our chemicals, as it may have sensitive skin or an underlying health condition.
Your Dog’s Immune System
- Like humans, a dog can have a weak immune system and be more prone to illness than others. This is especially true with puppies and older dogs, but is entirely possible with dogs of any age. A weak immune system can be caused by factors such as their food, whether they have a chemical deficiency, a thyroid problem, whether they are around other dogs often, their age, and how much exercise they get.
Common Health Conditions
- Canine Cough
- We do not experience canine cough often, but it is the most common health condition for dogs in group play.
- Canine cough is spread by a dog coughing or sneezing.
- It typically lasts for a few days and goes away, sometimes with medicine, sometimes not. It is normally not seen as a major threat to a dog’s health.
- If a dog seems to be coughing, many vets may not be sure about whether it is canine cough or something else. It could be from barking, or even a tight collar. Oftentimes they will treat it as canine cough, just to be on the safe side.
- If you have a puppy, you should expect that it will get canine cough somehow, whether at the park, on a walk, from your building, or possibly at daycare. Once your puppy has gotten it, its immune system should help fight it more strongly in the future.
- Canine Cough
- Dogs can contract giardia by drinking from puddles at the dog park or even stepping in poop then licking their paw. They can also get it from eating poop, or drinking from a water bowl that another dog with giardia has taken water from.
- Giardia causes poop to have an odor that is worse than normal. It can be misdiagnosed, and you should always get a fecal test from your vet to confirm whether it is truly giardia.
- Giardia can be treated and cured with medicine, although some dogs can be giardia carriers.
- Canine Papilloma Virus (aka CPV or “Mouth Warts”)
- This appears as pink growths on your dog’s skin, frequently in the mouth. It is very contagious.
- A customer could bring a dog here that has CPV, and neither the owner nor our staff may realize it is present. We normally do not check dogs’ mouths unless there is a good reason.
- CPV can possibly be removed at the vet. If you choose not to remove it, it will normally go away on its own, but this could take some time.
- Like chicken pox for humans, once your dog gets CPV, it shouldn’t get it again, at least any time soon
- Canine Papilloma Virus (aka CPV or “Mouth Warts”)
- Your dog may need to go to the vet for either illness or injury while here for daycare, and if so, you are solely responsible for directly paying for the veterinary costs, whether we tranported it or you did. If we cannot reach you, we would make the decision about which vet to go to, which will normally be based on proximity, hours, wait time, cost, quality, reputation, and capabilities. We would not go to a vet that we believe provides poor-quality care, and we have no financial relationship with any vet whatsoever. It may not be your normal veterinarian. If not, you could certainly have an emergency contact take your dog to any vet of your choice.
- If we take your dog to the vet, they may likely call you for authorization and to discuss payment obligations, before providing any medical care. You should not be upset by this – it is how it works in the veterinary and medical industry. If the vet cannot reach you, and the dog requires immediate and urgent care, we may need to sign in order for them to proceed. You would be responsible for payment in this scenarios.