By Colleen Collier and Kara Sykes
Last month our Wellness Technician, Colleen, and our Kennel and Wellness Care Associate Manager, Kara, went to the very delicious, Hershey Pennsylvania for a pet boarding and daycare expo. What an amazing experience! Many kennel owners, managers and employees from all across the country came to expand their knowledge. From classes on training to seminars and teachings on the overall health of your furry companion, we soaked it all in and learned so much!
“An exciting national conference for professionals in the pet boarding and daycare industry. Featuring a two-day trade show showcasing the best products and companies in the industry, top industry speakers sharing their expertise, and an awesome line up of educational seminars”
As many of our clients know, QK along with most all animal care facilities see outbreaks of the common dog cold every year. We have always made it our mission to be honest and forthcoming with our clients about what types of symptoms we are seeing and when. The staff as a whole under the direction of our Wellness Technician, Colleen, do everything in our power to keep any sick dogs isolated from the general population and keep owners up to date on their progress. These seasonal illnesses are similar to upper respiratory type infections that any of you with kids in school know all too well. As we go through cold and flu season, so do our canine companions, and while they have a blast socializing with their friends in group activities, this also provides the perfect environment for the transfer of these viruses if we’re not careful.
As you can imagine, the canine expo in Hershey was an incredible opportunity to communicate and collaborate both with doctors in the disease control field and also with other animal care experts. We got to meet several other people working on the front lines to better prevent the spread of canine cough and other common contagious illnesses. Of several hundred people that attended the event, almost everyone shared that they go through the same illnesses. Unfortunately, they are everywhere and these viruses can never be fully prevented. The good news is many of them are so minor that they don’t require more than a few days of rest and relaxation. Getting to work with some leading experts in the field was an incredible experience that we hope will allow us to care for our boarding and training dogs more effectively. So, here are a few of our tips and highlights from the expo!
1. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION!
As Dr. Courtney Campbell says “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. We understand how frustrating an outbreak of canine cough can be for a dog parent. Nobody wants to see their fur babies feeling under the weather. Not a single staff member is here for any other reason aside from truly having a passion for dogs in all aspects. While we have always posted memos and sent emails to clients scheduled to board with us, we are now putting together more information for clients about what to expect with these viruses. It isn’t enough to inform people of an outbreak, we are trying to answer questions and pass along the knowledge to be a part of the solution. Transparency is always the best policy, because as understandably frustrated as our clients may be about an outbreak at any animal facility, nobody is as frustrated as the staff who work endlessly to provide a clean, safe environment for the dogs that we consider family.
Dr. Campbell attended the University of Delaware for his undergraduate training and graduated from Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2005. He is currently the head of the surgical department at CARE Emergency and Specialty Animal Hospital in Santa Barbara, California. Dr. Campbell is a regular guest on programs such as The Doctors, Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family, The Real, and The Pet Collective’s YouTube channel Ask a Vet. He is now the co-host of National Geographic’s Pet Talk, a first of its kind talk show dedicated to the wonderful world of pets.
2. LEARN WHICH VACCINES WORK!
Always go for the nasal or oral Bordetella vaccine. While attending a seminar called “Heroes for Healthy Pets” which was taught by Dr. Courtney Campbell, the head of the surgical department of Care Emergency and Specialty Animal Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA, we learned quite a bit about vaccines and proper vaccine protocol. The most interesting information that we learned from Dr. Campbell was that the injectable bordatella vaccine is no longer effective at preventing the virus. From a client and dog parent perspective, this means that you should always be requesting the oral or nasal vaccine over the injectable if your vet isn’t already using those as a standard. This will help keep your dog as safe and protected as possible when boarding with us or anyone during this cold and flu season.
3. STUDY EACH DOG’S BODY LANGUAGE SINCE IT TELLS A STORY!
Watch for calming signals and appropriate play in group play time. One of the seminars that we attended was called “Dog Daycare Behavior Bootcamp”. QK is known for our training programs, and many of the tips presented in this seminar are signals that our trainers look for during play time and training sessions. Some of these “calming signals” or as our QK trainers refer to them “acknowledgements” include licking the lips, blinking, doing a full body shake, and yawning. Obviously, all of these things could be interpreted as normal dog behavior, however in the context of communicating with their trainers during a training session or other dogs when socializing, these behaviors let those around them know that they are accepting and open for direction. These “calming signals” along with general body language, help our kennel staff and trainers alike supervise social groups of up to twenty dogs effectively, and helps us handle rude behavior as a leader before it has the chance to get out of hand.
Looking back, the boarding and daycare expo was such an incredible opportunity to broaden our horizons and become better dog handlers both in our professional and personal lives. We appreciate being given the chance to continue our education to better help our clients, dogs, and fellow staff members. I would recommend to anyone working in the field that you take any opportunity to expand your knowledge and become familiar with the newest technology, techniques, and applications in the pet business. It’s a great opportunity to meet other animal lovers like you!