by Jennifer Viegas
Casey, a Standard Poodle, was sitting at home during the day, growing bored and restless. After a while, he started to act out. His owner, Kimberley Montgomery, works full-time, so she contacted a dog day-trip company called Paws 2 Go. Now, says Montgomery, "Casey goes on a walk every weekday with the wonderful girls of Paws 2 Go and he adores them all! He is always eager to go see his furry friends and his human ones too." At the end of the day, Montgomery often finds him "stretched out on the foyer floor," happily resting after his busy day.
Montgomery and many other pet owners are discovering the benefits of companies that offer dog day-trips. Sometimes the excursions are simple park visits, while other trips may take your dog on beach getaways, island jaunts and more. The common factor is that dogs go out supervised and safe, with the basic goals being activity, social stimulation and fun for your four-legged pal.
Day Trips All Year Long
Depending on the season, Casey's fun-filled day trips can vary. "In the winter, the dogs hike through the woods, run, jump, and roll in the snow, while in the summer, they hike through the creeks, swim, chase sticks and have a great time with the other dogs," says Maria Kechichian of the Toronto-based Paws 2 Go.
At Club Happy Dog in Pacific Palisades, Calif., "pooches are picked up from home to enjoy jaunts to local mountain trails, lakes for duck chases and swims, parks for romps and runs, or beaches for splashing in the tides and digging to China," says owner Donni Adams. "Compared to a cruise around the block with a dog walker, each outing includes exciting destinations over a longer timespan plus safe play with regular canine friends."
Dog day-trip services are located all over the globe now, so your location can help to determine the types of trips.
For example, the canine clients of Houndog: Daycare and Daytrips -- based in Brisbane, Australia -- might go to islands, wetlands, nature reserves and even on bush walks, according to owners Angela and Leah O'Meara. Their dogs go "to some of the most exciting, scenic, dog-friendly spots around."
How the Services Work
Although each business operates differently, many offer door-to-door service. At Club Happy Dog, the team operates a fleet of canine-ready vans and SUVs. "Clients are encouraged to help with the first pickup to reassure their dog," says Adams. "After that, it's wise to stay out of their path because the dogs can't barrel in fast enough to get wherever they're going that day!"
In most cases, you don't accompany your dog. At Paws 2 Go, a free consultation for you and your dog is offered before you sign up. "We require a collar, leash (non-retractable) and, most of the time, a house key if the owner will not be home for the pickup and drop-offs," says Kechichian. "We provide water on the outings so that the dogs remain hydrated throughout the day."
At Club Happy Dog, canines must be at least 4 1/2 months old, fixed if over 6 months old, healthy, current on vaccines, on a flea/tick prevention program, and "friendly with other dogs and people." The O'Mearas echo that last point, since their Houndog canine clients must be friendly and social.
Expect to pay between $35 and $60 per dog for a day trip. Some places offer discounts if the owner has more than one dog participating.
Benefits of Dog Day-trips
In addition to improving social skills, your dog will likely gain the following by going on day trips:
Our "No. 1 priority is to exercise the dogs," say the O'Mearas. Adds Kechichian: "We specialize in providing your dog with an exercise routine that is uniquely structured to create balance and harmony in your dog and, consequently, within your household."
2. Behavioral Training
Adams points out that shy dogs can "gain the confidence and assurance for learning to play with others." Kechichian believes that the dogs she works with receive training to "behave respectfully with other dogs, big and small, thereby eliminating any future behavioral issues."
Since each and every experience is unique, dogs are exposed to new companions, places, sights and smells with every trip.
Most important, your dog will probably have the time of his or her life. For example, Marla Ceresne Black, a Paws 2 Go customer, says her dog "Sami waits by the window every Tuesday and Thursday, waiting to be picked up, and can't wait to get out the door!" The outings have, she says, "enhanced my dog's happiness."
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Pets | Dogs: Dog Day-trips: A Better Way to Pass the Day