What is Pet Friendly?

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Green Acres Kennel Shop is a pet friendly, force-free, fear-free and pain-free facility. We meet or exceed the standards set in the Position Statements of The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the American Animal Hospital Association AAHA 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines.

While there are many decent boarding facilities that truly love the animals they care for, we believe it is important that pet guardians realize not all people in the pet care business are "pet friendly." In some cases the abuse does not stem from ill will, rather it is simply a matter of a lack of education about dogs and cats. Regardless of the reasons however, the outcome for the animal is a negative one. The following are a few examples of what we consider to be unacceptable and unethical behavior on the part of some people in the pet care business.

Recently an article was printed in The Whole Dog Journal where a pet guardian was astonished to find that the daycare where she had been taking her dog for six months was using an electric shock collar on her dog. Sadly, this lady's previously well adjusted dog is now very fearful of other dogs. Fortunately she has now found a "pet friendly" daycare, but the damage to her dog has been done. And if you think this could never happen in Maine, it has.

GAKS-2013-BOB-Kennel-1200x797A few years ago we had a client who needed to board their dog and we were filled to capacity. They ended up boarding their dog at another facility. Their dog, which was always anxious in new situations, started stress barking shortly after they left. Without the client's permission, someone at that kennel put a bark collar on their dog which gave her an electric shock on her throat every time she barked. Obviously, this made her even more anxious and started a vicious cycle of a bark followed by the pain of a shock. This facility told the client what they had done when they picked up the dog, but failed to see the grave error they had made.

Recently there have been several messages on an email list for those in the kennel industry. List participants are kennel owners or managers. One person posted a message asking how others deal with dogs that bark while at the kennel. She was frustrated that a particular dog kept barking day and night and that it was "annoying her".

Some of the suggestions other kennel owners and managers offered were frightening! One suggested she squirt the dog with water whenever it barked. Another indicated that they routinely put bark collars on dogs when they stay at their facility (these collars give the dog an electric shock on the throat when it barks). A further suggestion was to muzzle the dog to keep it quiet. All of the suggestions she had been given involving punishing the dog were likely to make the dog more stressed and had great potential to make the dog fearful and aggressive. Don Hanson, co-owner of Green Acres, told her our approach to barking, which is as follows:

Barking here at Green Acres is dealt with in the following fashion; 1) we understand that barking is part of the business and if you're in the business you need to accept that, and 2) barking is a very complex behavior and dogs bark for many reasons; to address it, you must first understand the cause of it.

In a kennel situation continuous barking is probably due to stress or boredom. This can be alleviated by putting the dog in another run where it might feel more secure, putting a crate in the run with the dog, giving them extra exercise, providing them with a stuffed Kong, or using a stress reliever like a Dog Appeasing Pheromone diffuser or Bach Rescue Remedy. The goal is to ease the stress, not add to it through the use of punishment.

If the reason a dog is barking is the presence of other dogs, the remedy is very simple - move them to a different location where they have less visual contact with other dogs. We have some dogs that do board with us that are very reactive to other dogs and we simply plan ahead and have them board in specific kennels so that they rarely have to see others pass by. Not only does this decrease the barking, but it helps to decrease stress for the animals.

And of course there are always those that simply are a bit more talkative and bark out of joy when they see staff. For this crew we simply smile and hold a conversation with them. A little conversation can go a long way. We may not know the exact words behind the bark, but we can still share the language.

As a "Pet Friendly" facility Green Acres pledges that we will NEVER intentionally do anything that will cause your best friend any sort of physical, mental or emotional trauma. If your pet is stressed we will tell you, and while in our care will do everything we can to reduce or alleviate that stress, not contribute to it.

 

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