To meet their needs, a number of day care and boarding facilities exclusive to tiny dogs have emerged in recent years. They’ve proven to be a triple-win for the owners of these businesses, their clients and small dogs everywhere.
Carolyn Vinci had to board her 9-pound Maltese/Yorkie mix, Cleo. Although she conducted research before placing Cleo in a local kennel, Vinci was horrified when the little dog came home thin and scared. "I could not find an appropriate place to board her, so I decided to create my own business," said Vinci, who now runs Tiny Dog Daycare and Overnight Boarding out of her home in Bohemia, N.Y.
Lori Davis of Tiny Dog Boarding in New York City started her business several years ago after a similar problem. "I called a commercial boarding place in the city that supposedly has luxury suites for dogs and asked them if they could provide appropriate care for my three dogs: Taylee, Teangee and Teaka," says Davis. "I mentioned their eyes must be cleaned, one needs allergy shots, another will lick her feet all of the time if she doesn’t have her booties and so on. I was fully expecting the facility to say, ‘Yes, we can do that, but it will cost you extra money.’ Instead, they told me I should board my dogs with a veterinarian." It wasn’t long afterward that Davis created her business.
Big Benefits for Small Dogs
Specialized care at small-dog boarding places may include:
- Cage-Free Surroundings: "Nobody is caged here," Vinci says. "Our dogs lounge on comfy beds and couches in our home. They can play in our fenced in yard."
- Controlled Feedings and Medication: Most small-dog experts ask that owners bring the pet’s regular food and medication. Consistency is key to comfort.
- Extra Security: Tiny dogs can squeeze through chain-link fences and other barriers that can hold back larger dogs. Small-dog boarders take precautions to ensure their charges stay safe and secure.
- Luxury Additions: Julie Clemen, who runs Little Paws Boarding in Olympia, Wash., has heated floors in her facility. "Chihuahuas often get cold feet," she explains.
Questions to Ask
Before you take your dog to any day care or boarding facility, do your research. Word-of-mouth recommendations are always best, but consider asking these questions:
1. What size dogs do you take? Depending on the facility, caregivers may limit their services to dogs weighing 8 to 20 pounds. Exceptions sometimes are made, contingent upon the breed, behavior and requirements of the dog.
2. How many years have you been in business, and what other experience with small dogs do you have? Davis, Vinci and Clemen each have decades of experience with small dogs. Be sure you get the background of the individual running the day care or boarding facility.
3. Do you train dogs too? Some boarders, like Davis, offer training and housebreaking instruction.
4. Do you own small dogs? "Ask how the person’s own dogs are cared for, in terms of feeding, grooming, medical care and other essentials," advises Davis. "How the owner treats his or her own dogs can indicate how your dog will be cared for."
5. What if there’s an emergency? Davis and all of the other experts have established relationships with their local veterinarians and pet hospitals. They may also be able to take your dog to its regular vet.
Finally, listen for the passion in the person’s voice. Most went into this line of work because they truly adore dogs, especially tiny breeds.