Old Mill Drift Guest Farm is situated three and a half hours away from Johannesburg – between the…
It’s difficult to pinpoint at what point doggy day care became a “thing” in South Africa, but there has been a significant rise in interest over the past eight to ten years. Dual working families, estate and complex living with smaller gardens and less free time for leisure activities have resulted in a need for carers for dogs who otherwise would become noisy, destructive and likely be the cause of written warnings from body corporate. What began as an informal pup-sitting arrangement between friends or family has become a highly successful, structured, commercial entity with more and more appearing as demand sets in.
We caught up with Robyn Eshelby-Theart from Farm Girls to find out more about doggy daycare in South Africa:
What makes a good doggy day care?
A good doggy daycare is run predominantly on a nursery school-style model and should have a strong focus on health and welfare. Much like schools and day care centres for children, reputable doggy daycares should have a Code of Ethics, Terms and Conditions, indemnity documents and enrolment/application criteria – it should not be a case of accepting every dog without doing some legwork into establishing if the dog is a good daycare candidate or not.
How old should dogs be to start at day care?
The earlier dogs start daycare, the better, although a good daycare will ease older dogs into the routine with little hassle. Any reputable daycare will give forthright and honest feedback about how the dog is progressing – some dogs may not settle in a day care environment and it’s the responsibility of the day care to advise owners accordingly.
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What should I look for in a Doggy Daycare?
When an owner chooses a daycare, they should feel relaxed and confident about their choice. Spending all day worrying about their dog is counter-intuitive. The right fit is very important so trust your gut! Some daycares operate on a very rigid daily routine whilst others operate on a more relaxed routine – owners should choose a daycare that they feel is most in line with their ethos of caring for their dog.
A well-managed daycare will have different areas for different size dogs, double fencing, effective gates, access to shade and splash pools and a dog to carer ratio of no more than ten dogs to one carer.
A reputable daycare will insist that routine vaccinations are done in line with the manufacturers’ recommendations and will encourage owners to keep their dog up to date on parasite prevention (ticks, fleas and flies). A reputable daycare will have an “expulsion” policy in place should dogs be aggressive or instigate trouble.
What are the benefits of doggy day care?
The benefits of daycare are the knowledge that the dogs are safe and cared for, interacting with other dogs and people, and keeping up to date with general manners such as easy leash walking and basic obedience.
There are benefits from a socialisation and from a behaviour perspective. Dogs who otherwise may have been destructive if left alone at home all day are now stimulated and entertained.
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Who are Farm girls?
Farm Girls was started in March 2012 after we moved onto our small farm in Chartwell North. Over the years we have gone from being one staff member to a team of seven. We have four full-time Farm Girls staff engaging with the dogs daily. Our services include doggy daycare, overnight boarding and behavioural consultations. We host occasional training sessions throughout the year. Our behaviourist, Robyn Eshelby-Theart (founder and owner of Farm Girls) holds an internationally-accredited diploma in dog behaviour as well as various certificates in animal ethology.
Our staff are all trained in basic First Aid for dogs, and we have a consulting veterinarian on a retainer. We are a registered and SARS-compliant business with public liability insurance in place. Our website is www.farmgirls.co.za and includes all of our pricing and document downloads. We are not an American-style (indoor) daycare; as our name suggests the dogs are outdoors having fun with their friends and learning about farm life while under careful supervision.
Farm Girls Doggy Daycare & Boarding Kennels
Mobile: 073 446 1030