Is your dog a good fit for doggy daycare?


By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

The dog daycare industry is big. and it can be overwhelming when trying to find the right place for your dog. There is a lot to look for when choosing a daycare. If you need help, check out Jamie Migdal’s blog on how to choose the best doggy daycare. In this post, I am going to concentrate on whether or not your dog is a good candidate for daycare.

Dog daycare can be great for humans. We feel better knowing that our dog is getting exercise and attention while we work long days. It’s also nice coming home to a tired dog so we can enjoy our evenings in peace. But what is great for us isn’t always great for our dogs.

So here are some ways to tell if your dog is a good candidate for daycare.

Your dog loves other dogs: I know you are probably saying, “Duh Erin! All dogs love other dogs.” But that isn’t true. A lot of dogs don’t very much like the company of other dogs, at least not to the extent that they want to be around them all day. Most dogs are perfectly content being around only their humans. Some dogs only enjoy familiar dogs. Just like humans have different personalities, so do our dogs. If your dog is an introvert, don’t fret. Also, if your dog has any reactivity towards other dogs, they aren’t a good fit for daycare.

You can’t give your dog adequate exercise: There is no judgment here. Sometimes you just can’t give your dog the exercise they need, whether that’s because you work long hours, you can’t physically give them exercise they need or your dog just needs a lot. Sometimes your best option is to send your dog to daycare a few days a week.

Your dog suffers from separation anxiety: Daycare isn’t the best option to help your dog get over separation anxiety, but sometimes you don’t have the time to fix the problem. For example, I know many people who live in apartments and have been issued a notice that they either need to quiet their barking dog or find a new place to live. Sometimes time isn’t on your side and you need something to help while you get the training your dog needs. If your dog does suffer from separation anxiety, make sure you are seeking the help of a positive reinforcement dog trainer.

If your dog doesn’t like daycare or isn’t a good candidate for it, don’t worry! There are plenty of options to tire your dog out.

Dog walker: Dog walkers are a great alternative to daycare. They come to your house, take your dog out for a nice walk and give them some personal attention. Your dog never has to leave the comfort of their neighborhood. Dog walkers are usually happy to work around whatever schedule you desire and will walk multiple dogs if you have more than one.

Individual play groups: Some daycares offer up an individual or family daycare option. This means that they give your dog individual playtime without other dogs around. Or if you have multiple dogs, they will let them play together without other dogs around. This option, if offered, is usually going to cost more, but might be worth it if your dog needs some special attention or doesn’t play well with others.

Sports: If you have an evening or two free each week, a great way to tire your dog out is to get involved in dog sports. Agility and K9 Nose Work are great options. They not only tire your dog out, but they allow you time to bond with your dog.

Remember, doggy daycare isn’t for everybody – and that is OK. There is nothing wrong with your dog if they prefer the comfort of their own home compared to a busy environment. If you do take your dog to daycare, try to limit it to 2-3 days a week so they have plenty of downtime.

Does doggy daycare work for you? If not, what else have you tried?


Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

Disaster preparedness for pet professionals

23458617 - a dog is wet and sad in front of a puddle in the rain

The summer of 2017 has been relentless with its storms. Unprecedented rain has been dumped on Texas and a category 5 hurricane is heading for Florida, after having laid waste to islands throughout the Caribbean.

Whether or not you live in or around a storm’s path, you should have an emergency action plan created, practiced, and ironed out.

This article will provide information to those pet care providers who may be affected, as well as measures for preparation that any pet care company should take to make certain you, your staff, and your client’s animals are safe.

Emergency action plan

An emergency action plan is an essential set of documents, policies, procedures, and delegations that need to be laid out immediately (ideally, before you open your doors or book your first client). This goes for boarding facilities, grooming salons, pet sitters, or any person with animals in their charge.

We can’t emphasize this enough: everyone needs an emergency plan. Tornados, hurricanes, flash floods, fires, fallen trees, and even acts of terrorism are real issues with a serious set of consequences.  Below are some guidelines to help you and your company be prepared for whatever natural or unnatural disasters come along.

Insurance coverage

Check your insurance coverage; many policies do not cover floods or “acts of God”. Go through this thoroughly so in the event a disaster does strike, you only have to deal with the preparation and not the rebuild.

Does it cover lost wages? You and your staff won’t be able to work if the roads are impassable or your clients have canceled.

Does your insurance cover losses not only to the building or property, but also the cost to transport and find alternative housing for any pets in your care? Are you still liable for paying rent to a landlord whether or not the building is habitable?

Have your insurance agent review your lease, preferably before you sign it, so that you can decide on additional coverage to take care of things your landlord won’t. Your insurance agent should also be able to direct you to the type of coverage or riders you will need for your geographic area and common natural disasters – fires, floods, earthquakes, etc.

Staff roles

Start with staff obligations. Assign your staff to very specific roles and timelines to be followed during a natural disaster.

Who will be in charge of contacting clients about the current plan, whether it’s shelter in place or evacuate?

Who will be watching the news for updates from local authorities dictating evacuation orders?

If you have a building or client homes in your care, who is responsible for making sure the structures are safe? Appoint someone to check that trees have not fallen on the building, electrical wires are not hanging, flooding is not occurring in the basement, etc. Be very clear in your service agreements about the extent of your responsibility for real estate or home goods. No one should be risking their lives to save family heirlooms or laptops.

Assign someone to create and maintain a disaster supply list. Either you or a member of your staff should be assigned the task of checking on quantities, expiration dates, and battery levels. This is a great quarterly assignment. Creating this list will also assist those of you not in the path of a natural disaster to know exactly what you can help provide to those who are.

Have client medical records and contacts stored securely on a cloud server, and provide access to a trusted person outside of your business area. In the event that the internet and power goes out, you will want a point person who knows what to do and who to contact.

Assign someone whose sole responsibility is the physical evacuation of staff and animals. They should know where to go if a flood, fire, or evacuation is ordered, and should plan for the greatest number of animals your company would ever have in your care.


Transportation is key. If you have five pets that you are pet sitting or a hundred dogs in your daycare, what plans do you have to transport them to safety?

Speak with car rental companies about cargo vans. Crates can be ratcheted down to the frame of the van for safer transportation. Beware of box trucks, as they do not have adequate airflow or temperature control – these will be great concerns.

Whatever vehicles you have access to, make certain they always have gas and are in working condition. If you know that a hurricane is heading in your direction, don’t wait until the last minute to rent a vehicle; even if you have to pay for an extra week to let a van sit in your parking lot, it’s a small price to pay if you have to get out in a hurry. This also gives you luxury of adequate preparation time, so that if you do need to evacuate all you’ll need to do is put the pets into the van and head out.

Once the animals are securely ready for transport, who’s driving and where are they going? Is there another boarding facility nearby that has a large training space you can use during an emergency? Is there a warehouse that someone you know owns that would allow you to shelter animals? If so, consider getting contracts signed and adding these locations to your insurance policy.

Shelter in place

The storm may not be a category 5 and your facility or client home may in fact be on high ground. Make a shelter in place plan that will have you prepped for power outages and multiple days and nights stuck on the premises; make certain food, water, cleaning supplies, etc. are all stocked and accounted for.

During winter storms, pipes can freeze, the power can go out, and the heating can stop. Always have plenty of blankets and insulating materials to keep you and the pets warm.

If the power goes out during a summer storm, that means the air conditioning goes out with it.  Make a plan to keep the animals cool and covered from the elements.

Supply list

Here is a recommended (but certainly not exhaustive) list of items to always have on hand. Store them in waterproof plastic bins, clearly labeled and easily accessible.

For items that need batteries (radios, fans, flashlights etc.), store the batteries in plastic bags taped to the device so they don’t corrode and render the item useless.

Generators and associated fuel should be stored outside of any areas where humans and animals will be. When generators are running, make certain the exhaust is pointed away from breathing beings. Carbon dioxide poisoning can be deadly.

Cleaning agents like bleach should be stored in watertight plastic bins, especially if flooding is a concern. You do not want chemicals leaching into the water that you and the animals may have to walk through or even drink.

  • Radios
  • Duct tape
  • Folding table
  • Portable 20” box fans
  • Collar bands to place on animals for identification
  • Storage containers
  • Laptop computer and charger
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Trash can
  • Trash bags
  • Slip leads
  • Muzzles in assorted sizes
  • Cable ties
  • Bed sheets
  • Binders with paper and pens for notes/documenting
  • Hand disinfectant
  • Flea spray
  • Paper towels
  • First aid kit (human)
  • First aid kit (animal)
  • Leashes
  • Latex gloves
  • Shop lights
  • Dog/puppy food
  • Cat/kitten food
  • Bleach
  • Dish soap
  • Generators
  • Electrical cords
  • Gas cans
  • Bug spray
  • Shovels
  • Water
  • Food for staff
Put your plan in writing

Email it to your staff, have it in your handbook, put it on your website, store it on a cloud server, laminate it and hang it on the walls of your facilities. You can even pass it out to your clients (after deleting any sensitive information) and suggest that they put on their fridges. Let people both inside and outside of your organization know what you will do and where you will go if disaster strikes.

If you already have a plan, we hope this serves as a good checklist to help you be as prepared as possible. Never forget that people are always there to help, so make certain part of your plan includes organizations, other companies, friends. or family you can rely on ffor help during an emergency.  

Not affected by the disaster?

Pet care professionals who are not in the path of the storm or directly affected by the disaster often have the resources to help you in your time of need. Even though we are all busy and don’t always budget for disasters, it’s a good policy to set aside some of your time and money to help others when they need it.

Always stay connected to, and network with, pet care businesses in your area and beyond. Competition doesn’t matter when human and animal lives are at stake.

Do you have a vehicle that can transport goods and bring pets back? Do you have supplies on the list above that you could send/ship or deliver to those in need?

Do you have a facility with space to foster pets that need to come out of the affected zone, or even just space in your home for one? Our founder Jamie Migdal is fostering a sweet little white dog named Sassy. Jamie met her while volunteering at the Hurricane Harvey animal intake at The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. Sassy was fresh off the plane and still homeless, but with good fortune found her way into Jamie’s home.

Disasters are seemingly everywhere, but you should never feel helpless in the face of them. An emergency action plan doesn’t just have to cover you and yours when you are directly affected. Consider stepping into action when your fellow pet care professionals need assistance; we’re in this industry together and together, we can help thousands of people and pets get their lives back together.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it became common for everyone from pet professionals to pet lovers to emergency response crews to help stranded pets in need. At FetchFind. we want to share our resources with anyone who will be helping animals to be as successful as possible in their efforts. The stranded animals depend on us for their very survival, but they can be fearful, shy, or aggressive (even when they know we’re trying to help). Please read and share this Disaster Relief graphic to help the humans and animals get connected and to safety as soon as possible.

Disaster Relief


How to pick the best doggy daycare



By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

If you have the kind of dog who loves being around other dogs, then doggy daycare might be the right choice for you! If you’re thinking about daycare, here are some pointers to help you find the best fit for your pup:

Professional associations and certifications. One of the indicators of good facility management is an affiliation with one or more of the major professional pet sitting associations, such as NAPPS, PSI, or IBPSA. Although membership is not mandatory, it says a lot about a business if they are voluntarily willing to adhere to industry-wide standards. (It’s like going the extra mile.) Tip: look for signs that say staff has been trained/certified by experts like FetchFindThe Dog Gurus, or PACCC.

Philosophy. How is the business marketed – is it a “big play group all the time” type of place, or do they offer individualized attention geared to your dog’s personality? Some dogs can run all day long and be happy campers, but other dogs need to socialize (or not) on their own terms. Tip: Make sure play groups are age- and size-appropriate for your dog.

Facility. Doing an in-person visit of the facility (preferably during the day when other dogs are present) is absolutely essential. You’ll want to keep an eye out for such things as hygiene and sanitation (of common areas as well as individual spaces), the staff-to-client ratio, and the general appearance of the space. Tip: Pay attention to the level and quality of the noise while you’re there – happy, well-tended dogs sound very different than stressed out dogs. 

Health and hygiene. It’s very important for all pet care facilities to require the appropriate vaccinations and adhere to best practices when sanitizing the premises. When you’re filling out the application forms, make sure they ask about vaccination records; when you’re touring the facility, ask them about their protocols in case of a canine influenza or kennel cough outbreak. Tip: keep an eye (and nose) out for the prevalence of mop buckets and sanitation stations. 




Living a top dog life


By Candace D’Agnolo, CEO of Dogaholics

Hello. My name is Candace and I’m a dogaholic.

I’ve been a dogaholic “legally” for the last decade, but I know in my heart and soul that I’ve been a dogaholic my whole life.

I moved eight times before junior high. So when I had to say good-bye to classmates and neighborhood kids every year, my only constant and consistent friends were our family pets. So when it was time for me to start a career, creating a pet business seemed like a natural fit.

My vision for Dogaholics was to be a small retail store and serve my local neighborhood with healthy food and treat options. But, that was small thinking!! I eventually learned that when you dream big, you start living what I call the “Top Dog Life”!

Over the last decade, Dogaholics became more than just retail products by expanding into doggy daycare, grooming, dog walking, branded merchandise, speaking engagements, classes, online educational programs and now business coaching… connecting pet parents and petpreneurs all over the world!

Maybe you started your pet business because you wanted a more fulfilling career. Or perhaps it was because you liked dogs more than people. But as your business grows, you quickly realize it’s less like playing with puppies all day and more working like a dog.

I’ve been there. Working like a dog has been a consistent theme in my adult life. After dealing with massive construction around my stores and employees stealing from me in the height of the recession, I hit the danger zone in 2010 when my business and personal life were failing. I had $200k in business debt and wasn’t generating enough income to pay my bills. I was working 16-hour days on a regular basis; I gained 50lbs and my marriage was suffering. Instead of giving in to the anxiety and stress, I turned it all around and have since brought millions of dollars into my business. I travel around the world and live a stress free life with my canine kids.

Why do I mention all of this? Because while it’s my unique story, our roller coaster rides aren’t that different. Life and business is a roller coaster. Starting out slow and chugging along, then speeding ahead – faster than you can seem to keep up with. There are ups and downs, and turns ahead that you don’t even see. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after running my own company for ten years, you better like riding the roller coaster because it rarely ends when you want it to!

Fortunately for me, I was able to stop the ride for a moment. In April of 2016, I strategically sold the retail division of Dogaholics to Bentley’s Pet Stuff. The economy, competition, internet, and big box stores had nothing to do with me closing. I got the price I wanted and I was able to exit my business exactly how I always dreamed…on my terms.

If you want to stop the roller coaster of business (or at least control the speed) – you must learn what it takes to be a good leader, develop systems around everything, and train your team to thrive.

I look forward to sharing more retail and business tips on how to stop working like a dog and how to start living the top dog life instead!


Learn more about Candace’s life as a dogaholic on Pets Mean Business!


1candaceIn addition to being the CEO of Dogaholics, Candace D’Agnolo is a successful business coach, author, and speaker.  She started Dogaholics as a retail store, and took her initial concept of a brick and mortar location and turned it into multiple revenue streams – retail, services, online informational products, books, merchandise, and now business consulting. Candace is also a board member of Chicago Canine Rescue and loves giving back to her local community. She has helped raise over $200,000 for shelter dogs and find many forever homes. Having a way to give back through her business has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.