What Does It Take to Run a Pet Care Facility?

Did you know that much of the pet care industry is “unregulated.” This means it is an “easy to enter” industry where basically anyone can buy business cards and call themselves a pet sitter, dog walker, or even a dog trainer. Anyone who loves dogs (we hope) can open a pet care facility since there is no certification requirement, nor is there an education, knowledge assessment or skill requirement. Let that sink in for a moment…ANYONE can open a pet care facility, become a pet sitter, dog trainer or any other type pet care provider.

Even though loving dogs is crucial to being successful as a pet care provider it is certainly not enough. The pet care services industry is filled with a lot of what I call “blood, sweat and tears moments”, quite literally, and it takes an incredible amount of perseverance and animal knowledge to operate an exceptional pet care business. Pet care professionals are working with living, breathing, and cherished pets…who can also be unpredictable, so it is imperative to have a high level of knowledge and to be fully committed to training and continuing education for every team member.

As a dedicated, and very particular, pet parent I am terrified at the idea that literally anyone can call themselves a dog <fill in the blank> or can sign up to care for pets through an online platform. As the owner of Playful Pups Retreat since 2010, a premium, “high touch” dog resort in Central PA, I have worked tirelessly to not only educate myself, but also our leadership team and the amazing team of A-Players we have caring for the dogs who stay and play with us at both of our locations.

To clarify, most states do have some sort of government agency that oversees dog breeders and pet care businesses, but the oversite is extremely minimal and certainly has nothing to do with the actual operation of a pet business.  To excel and provide an outstanding experience for pet parents and their dogs it is imperative to have knowledge in dog behavior and communication, dog stress signals, basic dog training, bathing care, pet first aid, and canine health issues, etc.  A pet care professional must have knowledge of canine diseases, best standards of sanitation, safe and enriching facility layout, and stress reduction practices and on and on.

Additionally, owners and managers should understand the operational and financial side of running a business to enable you to have a profitable, sustainable business and maintain a highly trained team of pet care professionals. Needless to say, it isn’t for the faint of heart, or for those who think it is playing with dogs all day.

It is up to the owner and management to put standards of operational excellence in place, as well as provide ongoing education and training for their teams…sadly many don’t. If your pet care provider doesn’t have an excellent level of training and dog knowledge it can greatly impact their ability to provide a high level of basic care for your beloved furry family member or God forbid, could affect their ability to have the skill to properly handle an emergency situation.

One of the main reasons I opened Playful Pups Retreat many years ago is because I wanted a safe place for my own dogs and there was nowhere in the area that I would ever have left my dogs…When I designed Playful Pups Retreat in 2010 I wanted it to be a premium facility unlike any other in our area and that is still my mission. Prior to opening I took classes on canine behavior, went to many industry conferences, traveled to visit other facilities to learn good ideas, and some not so great ideas. I took pet first aid and CPR training courses, read books, and simply learned and gained knowledge to be the very best pet care facility possible.  As the years have passed, I am proud to say that every year my team and I attend conferences, participate in webinars, and mastermind programs to allow us to evolve, grow and be at the top of our game for YOU the pet parents and YOUR DOGS.

Because I am committed to lifelong learning and to always providing the safest, most exceptional level of care for your dog I obtained my CPACO (Certified Professional Animal Care Operator) designation through the Professional Animal Certification Council (PACCC), the highest certification they offer. Most recently I obtained my Boarding and Daycare Certification through Fear Free Pets to continue growing my knowledge on caring for dogs who may be fearful, nervous, or anxious when staying with us.

I want to emphasize that as a pet resort owner, providing an epic experience for you and your dog is my mission, so my dedication runs deep and so does that of our team.  Most of our leadership team has obtained their Fear Free certification, as have over 16 of our pet care team members so far. All of our full time team members, and many part time ones are certified in pet first aid as well. There are many choices for pet care providers out there, so please take the time to do some homework before you choose who will care for your pet to ensure they have training and the knowledge necessary to provide not only a fun and enriching experience for your dog, but also a safe and healthy one, and most importantly the peace of mind you deserve when you are away from your cherished furry family member.

If you want to learn more about Playful Pups Retreat and all we offer our Reservation Specialist is excited to take your call and schedule a time for you to visit one or both of our facilities depending on the services you are interested in.

To learn more about the Fear Free Pets certification visit their website fearfreepets.com. They also offer a program for pet owners called Fear Free Happy Homes, be sure to check it out!

To learn more about the Professional Animal Care Certification Council visit paccert.org for help choosing a PACCC certified pet care facility near you. Both certification programs indicate that a pet care facility goes the extra mile for their furry guests and to provide pet parents with peace of mind when you are away from your cherished pet.

Written by Laurie Yost, owner of Playful Pups Retreat

Laurie and over 20 of their team members have obtained their Fear Free Boarding and Daycare Certifications through Fear Free Pets. She also holds the highest level of certification through PACCC (Professional Animal Care Certification Council) with a CPACO certification (Certified Professional Animal Care Operator).