A recently opened dog daycare in Courtenay employs an holistic approach to canine caring, in terms of sensory and mental enrichment as well as social enrichment.
“That mental piece, I think, is what’s missing in a lot of daycare environments,” said Kaye Wovein, owner of Wildwoof enrichment doggy daycare at 5th and Menzies. “Social enrichment is valuable, play is valuable, but there is a difference between a mentally tired dog and a physically exhausted dog.”
Wovein has attracted a steady stream of customers since opening in January. Seeing about 15 dogs a day, she managed to achieve her six-month goal in just her sixth week of operation.
“The community response has been other worldly,” she said.
Her operation is unique in terms of small group play, one-on-one enrichment activities and scheduled rest periods. It runs on a staff ratio of one person to 10 dogs, as per BCSPCA’s recommendation for pet daycares and boarding facilities.
At this point, Wovein has one other staff member, but she will hire another worker when the business starts seeing more dogs in a day.
“We’re building as we go,” she said.
In 20 years of working with dogs, Wovein has witnessed the negative outcomes of tightly cramped facilities containing too many dogs — which ultimately results in fights.
With use of a larger facility, she can gradually introduce one dog at a time up to eight, which becomes the play group of the day. The premises are double gated, which allows dogs a choice in terms of when they’re ready to interact.
“We’re super committed to positive reinforcement and being a force-free space,” Wovein said.
She notes the daycare is Fear Free-certified, which means staff have taken a course to recognize signs of fear, anxiety and stress in dogs.
Wildwoof is located at 877 5th St. The indoor daycare is open from 8-5. ‘Sniff-aris’ (sniffing the ground) are conducted at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.