Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Dog owners happy to pay for others to take the lead

Olivia Howarth from Pets & Pats, a mobile doggie day care company, with some of the dogs she looks after. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Olivia Howarth from Pets & Pats, a mobile doggie day care company, with some of the dogs she looks after. Photo / Brett Phibbs

More Auckland pet owners are turning to "doggie daycare" options that offer door-to-door service and activities including agility and search and retrieval classes.

Dog care services said they have to turn away business as demand rises.

Angela Beer owns Pets and Pats, a boutique doggie daycare facility that services Ponsonby, Herne Bay and central Auckland.

She said her business has increased 50 per cent since she opened it in 2012, and she still cannot keep up with the demand. Her team of five collect clients' canines in a "school bus" and take them to dog- friendly parks around the city.

"It's like doing PE at school, we do agility and search and retrieval training.

"They are mentally and physically stimulated in a safe environment."

Emma Feenstra, of Titirangi, is looking to take on new staff at her service, 4-Legged Fun.

"There has definitely been a growing trend," she said.

"I don't do any marketing or advertising but I find that my business has been growing."

Mrs Beer said some of her clients would spend around $500 a week on their dog and that covered dog walking, grooming, vet bills and food.

A trend to delay having children was also a factor, she said.

"We also see people who have not had a baby so the dog has been the baby, but suddenly they have a baby and say, 'well, I can't be unfair to the dog', so they get a nanny for the dog."

Ms Feenstra said people wanted the best for their pets.

"People get dogs because they enjoy walking them every day. For a lot of my clients it's not about them being unable to walk them - it's about the dogs getting something that sort of breaks up their day for them."


Despite the price tag, daycare pays off for time-poor owners

Auckland lawyer Marie Dyhrberg cannot guarantee she will be able to walk her dogs each day, so books them into doggie daycare three times a week. Two of her dogs join two belonging to a colleague.

"They hear the van around the corner, God knows how they do, and start going crazy ... by the time the person comes through the gate they are just going berserk.

"They hop out in the van with their little mates and do all sorts of things. They have their little school mates just like kids at school do. They just love seeing each other. They still have to have their manners and they get taught how to do things right ... they go to places that are really safe."

The group attend Pets and Pats at a combined cost of about $1000 a month, Ms Dyhrberg said. "I am really busy and it just takes the pressure off. If something crops up ... it takes the pressure off me because I do think that dogs have to get out every day and also they have to socialise with other people and other dogs."

- NZ Herald

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