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Summer is going by so fast! We have had a fantastic summer here with the dogs, playing outside, filling the pools and having a lot of fun! We are hoping for a beautiful fall, so we can continue to play outside!

We hope to complete some remodeling we started last year. Our floors have been completely redone, and we have a new dishwasher installed that sanitizes using high heat. We are covering the walls with special waterproof materials, making it easier to clean and sanitize. We swapped a lot of furniture and cabinets with stainless steel replacements. We invested in a lot of cleaning equipment that will help us keep the building clean and smelling fresh! All of these upgrades allow us to spend more time with the dogs, and less time cleaning -without sacrificing our high standards of safety.

There will also be a number of changes in our operations, more about that below. We love our concept of having the dogs together with their human handlers, having them play and hang out during the day and sleep together at night. We would not want to change that, but we do want to set the dogs up for success and avoid situations that make it hard for them. For example, that is why we want lodging dogs to arrive no later than 2PM. They need a chance to get acclimated and settled in with the rest of the group before they eat dinner and before they go to bed. We know that it might not be convenient for some owners, but we feel it is so important for the welfare of the dogs. There is a lot involved in having dogs stay comfortable in an off-leash setting and we will talk more about that, so everyone understands why we do things the way we do.

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Is Your Dog Still Social?

For those of you who have started bringing your dogs again this spring, after having been away for in some cases almost a year, you will have noticed that we’ve started to reassess all the returning dogs. Since we hadn’t seen them for so long, we wanted to get to know them again. A lot of dogs who had stayed at home with their owners got used to new routines. So even though you might think that nothing happened and you still have the same dog, actually a lot has changed for your pup. Your dog probably hasn’t been around other dogs, certainly not a group of 10 or so, and has gotten a bit older - he might prefer things to be different now.

For us, it is important that we really know the dogs that are staying with us. Every dog has his own preferences and under the right, or should we say wrong, circumstances can be triggered to show aggressive displays. We don’t accept dogs that are so antisocial or so stressed that they show an abundant display of aggressive behaviors, because they are uncomfortable in this type of environment, but under certain circumstances, even the most tolerant of dogs might feel they have no choice but display these behaviors. The same is true for people: if we feel threatened, we might show aggressive behaviors. If we know the dogs in our care well, meaning we see them regularly, we will know what these triggers are and we can either make sure the dogs are in the right playgroup, or see if they actually still enjoy an off-leash environment.

Different circumstances (individual genetic makeup, breed background, individual experiences, age) can determine whether a dog no longer enjoys play. This isn’t good or bad, it just is. Behavior is always changing, because dogs are getting older and because of different experiences they are having. For those of you that have watched their sweet little pup turn into an adolescent dog, you will have noticed some changes!

As dogs get older, their play styles and social habits change. Most puppies love to play with everybody they meet. As they mature their preferences change and dogs become more selective about who they play with, and how much they play. When you think about it, the same is true for people. As a kid, you make friends easily with the kids in your neighborhood and in school. As an adolescent and young adult you might be a little more particular about who you hang out with, and as an adult your preferences change again; you might have a dinner party with select friends but you’re most likely not swinging from the monkeybars or jumping in mud puddles with all your neighbors.

As adults, not all dogs enjoy the company of other dogs. Some do, but only play occasionally, enjoying just being around other dogs. Some adult dogs will play with puppies or adolescent dogs, but some absolutely don’t like adolescent dogs.

Just because a dog doesn’t enjoy play groups anymore, doesn’t mean he can’t have a good time! He might enjoy hikes with his owner, dog sports, and training classes. Instead of coming to the ranch when his owner is out of town, a house sitter might be a better option.

Our staff gets extensive continuing training in dog behavior. We know that owners sometimes are surprised when we report back behavior. We are being told that the dog always came to daycare and loved to play, that he plays with the dogs in the neighborhood. But the dog has gotten older and his preferences have changed. He plays with a couple of dogs he knows well, but is not interested in meeting new friends. We look at the dog in front of us and what he is telling us and we want to do right by him. I hope everyone trusts our insights in dog behavior. Sometimes we feel that a dog needs a little extra help and we ask the owner to make certain changes in their routine and maybe add some training exercises. Sometimes we think a dog might be happier not coming to an off-leash environment.

To make sure we are familiar with the dogs in our care, we want to see them at least every two weeks. If we haven’t seen dogs regularly, we will need to schedule a reevaluation to make sure he is still a good fit for the ranch.

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Updated Requirements

We are reminding everyone to make sure their Gingr profiles stay up to date. This profile contains important information about feeding schedules, allergies, and keeps track of the dog’s vaccination status. All dogs that come to the ranch need to be up to date on their distemper vaccine, hepatitis vaccine, parvo vaccine, parainfluenza vaccine, leptospirosis vaccine, rabies vaccine, Bordetella vaccine, and canine influenza vaccine.

Starting this month, we will require everyone to submit negative fecal test results for their dog every six months. when having dogs together as in our off-leash playgroups, there are different conditions dogs can pass to each other. These are mainly respiratory and gut related. Dogs can pick up and pass worms and other parasites in many ways, so to get a better picture of the current health of the dogs, it has become best practice across the dog care industry to do these tests every six months, regardless of what your vet’s protocol is. Remember, your vet’s protocol is probably based on the pets’ needs in the home and neighborhood environment. Multiple dogs sharing the same play space means a need for more stringent requirements. Written documentation of these results needs to be sent from the vet, with the owner’s and the dog’s name on the form.

Summer often brings outbreaks of respiratory infections in dogs, especially canine cough, or, more precisely, CIRDC, canine infectious respiratory disease complex. It’s called a complex, because there are often multiple culprits involved. We take numerous measures to reduce the risk of an outbreak: we require vaccinations, we sanitize our facility and we have our 14 day rule to minimize spread from other environments to ours.

We have noticed that vet’s offices have been very busy, so please schedule your appointments with them on time. All dogs that come to us need to be up to date or we cannot accept the reservation or appointment. Dogs that have recently received the Bordetella vaccine, and weren’t up to date, will have to wait seven days before they may come to the ranch. This is also true for the canine influenza vaccine, except in this case the dogs will have to wait 14 days. This is meant to give the dog time to develop an immune response to the vaccine so they are protected. In all cases, dogs cannot come the same day they receive their vaccines. They can be sore, they feel a bit under the weather, all of which can lead to an unhappy day at the ranch. Dogs need a day to recover before they can come back.

As most of you are aware, despite vaccination, dogs can still develop a respiratory illness. If that is the case, the dog needs to stay home to recover. If your dog is lodging and becomes ill, we will call the emergency contact in your profile and ask them to pick up your dog. Please make sure your emergency contact is someone other than yourself - we will try contacting you first, but need a backup if you are not available. A sick dog needs to be seen by a vet, and be isolated from the other dogs (which would cause further stress on an already ill dog). For this reason, we cannot keep him here - it is not in the best interest of the dog’s health and well-being.

Dogs that have been ill have to be symptom free for 30 days before they can return, as per our service agreement. That means 30 days from the moment your dog stopped showing symptoms. At that point we need clearance from the vet that your dog is healthy and can come back and be around other dogs.

One of our required vaccines is the Leptospirosis vaccine. In some parts of the country the Lepto vaccine isn’t considered a “core” vaccine because it only flourishes in certain climates and environments. Here in the midwest Lepto is more common because of the amount of rainfall we get. It can be found in the soil and be spread by infected wildlife through their urine. Dogs can pass it to each other and they can also be asymptomatic carriers. The number of infected dogs has been on the rise, as urban development spreads out further into rural areas. We have a lot of wildlife in Arrowhead Park, we have rabbits, woodchucks, possums, so we need to make sure the dogs are protected.

All medical interventions carry a certain risk, and vaccines are no exception. Small dogs can have a stronger reaction since they have to receive the same amount of vaccine as a big dog to get a proper immune response. Please discuss the benefits and risks of vaccines with your veterinarian. If you feel your dog might not benefit from a vaccine because of how he reacted to vaccinations in the past, by all means forgo that vaccine. Unfortunately, in such a case a group play environment may not be a safe place for your dog and we cannot accept him.

In the past, it was common practice to give exemptions to dogs that had a reaction to particular vaccines. However, given the increase in cases and word of new variants of respiratory illnesses emerging nationally we feel this practice is no longer in the best interest of the health of those dogs.

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Price Adjustments

Starting September 1st, there will be some adjustments to daycare and lodging pricing. Changes will be as follows:

Daycare will be $33 for a full day and $23 for a half day (up to four hours.) Our 20 day full day package will be $540, which is $27 per day, our 10 day package will be $290, which is $29 per day, our 5 day package will be $155, which is $31 per day and our 3 day package will be $96, which is $32 per day.

Half day packages will be priced as follows: 20 half day packages will be $240, which is $17 per visit, 10 half day packages will be $190, which is $19 per visit, 5 half day packages will be $105, which is $21 per visit and 3 half day packages will be $66, which is $22 per visit.

Lodging will be $52 per night. On the day of arrival, your dog can be dropped off anytime between 6AM and 2PM, on the day of departure there is an 11 o’clock checkout time.

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Safe Play

Dogs love to wrestle, they mouth each other and sometimes in the heat of the moment can give each other nicks and scratches. Young dogs actually learn how to be careful and be gentle through play, because if they bite their playmate too hard, the fun stops. Dogs also paw and jump on each other, their nails can sometimes cause scratches and cuts. For the single coated breeds that play hard (boxers, pitties, etc.) we recommend that the owner put a coat on them, since they don’t have the protection that a dog with a thicker coat has.

We do require that each dog that visits has their nails trimmed to minimize the risk of injury. Regular trimming keeps the dog’s feet healthy because long nails will twist their toes, causing an unnatural posture that over time can damage the bone structure of their feet. Also, if nails aren’t trimmed regularly, and the dog’s daily walk don’t help wear the nails down, the quick (the nerve inside the nail) will grow longer and longer, making it impossible to trim the nail to an appropriate length. Normally, the nail should not extend beyond the dog’s pad, when he is standing. If we see that a dog’s nails are too long and there is a risk of injury to other dogs or staff, we will trim those nails at the owner’s expense. We charge $10 for a nail trim. For dogs that get too upset to get their nails trimmed, we can discuss other options with the owner.

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Talk To Us!

With all of the changes that are happening, remember that it is our goal to be your partner in providing the best and safest experience for your dog. We understand that this sometimes means making difficult choices - for us as well for you - but in the end we feel the dogs deserve it and we feel certain that you do too! If you have any questions or feedback, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Dirk Broersma