It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving (in Canada) is already upon us…Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about all the things I have learned since starting the ‘Great Dog Daycare Adventure’. I’ve learned a lot about running a business including keeping good records, filing a business tax return, the ins and outs of GST but I won’t bore you with that! I’ll just share the ‘good’ lessons that came to mind.
Since 2009, I have learned that:
- There’s a lot to be said about an early bed time! When you have to get up at 6:30am (or 5:30am or 6:00am…) it’s best to be in bed before 10 pm. The great thing about early mornings (wait for it…) is that dogs are never crabby, they don’t need their coffee, they just arrive ready to go, go, go, no matter what time they come in!
- I have not one, but TWO great co-pilots! Renee, my business partner in crime, is a great sounding board for all things dog and Sean, my life partner in crime, is a great all around supporter. He doesn’t always get my crazy dog rants but he listens and that’s all I need. I know I can depend on both Renee and Sean – everyone needs at least one of those people in her life and having two means I don’t always have to call on the same person. Thank you Renee and Sean!
- I have the best clients! Seriously! I know of colleagues (in dog daycare and other businesses) who are constantly plagued with disrespectful clients and I consider myself lucky. For the most part, people arrive on time, pick their dogs up on time and let me know of any issues along the way. Communication is Key and I get the feeling we’ve got that covered here!
- I have great colleagues! In the area we’ve developed a great relationship with a few of the local vets, retailers and service providers. Having a great relationship with these folks means I can refer daycare clients with the confidence that they will receive excellent service when they frequent these places.
- I have learned that the right group of dogs are sometimes the best ‘teachers’. It is amazing and wonderful to watch as a worried dog learns that they have nothing to fear from other dogs here and become confident enough to play and interact with other dogs. My role is choosing the right dogs for these ones to play with but the majority of the credit should go to the dogs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – a well-balanced and behaviourally stable dog is priceless and we’re lucky to have several among the dogs that come to our daycare.
- Dog socialization is a lifelong process. We all know (or should know) that the critical socialization period ends between 12 and 16 weeks. Many dog owners ensure their dogs get the exposure they need as puppies but often forget that our dogs are learning every day at every moment. We need to continue to expose them to different people, places, things and other dogs if we expect them to be great canine citizens. Daycare is a great way to continue that socialization or to reintroduce your solitary dogs to other dogs in a safe and controlled environment!
- Well trained dogs have an easier time settling into daycare. Because Prairie Dog Daycare has structured nap and play times, the dogs move from play to rest in crates or pens multiple times throughout the day. The dogs that have experienced some semblance of structure at home and have learned the meaning of ‘chill out’ settle in the quickest. That being said, we have had many visitors that do not come from a home as structured as daycare is and we have helped them to learn how it works here – it just takes longer and is a little more stressful for the dog.
Are you a business owner? What lessons have you learned since starting your business?