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Bright Ideas for Catering to Clients: Play Dog Play Means Business Despite Pandemic Challenges

11/24/2020 05:25PM ● By Virginia Dean
Bright Ideas for Catering to Clients: Play Dog Play Means Business Despite Pandemic Challenges [12 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
Photos courtesy of Play Dog Play

Its name may indicate what Play Dog Play represents to dogs and owners, but don’t mistake the serious nature of one of the most popular daycare, boarding, and grooming businesses in the Burlington area. Established 12 years ago by Ryan Norton and Masha Stern, the facility is now run by Lyra A. Pecor and staff members who hold the best interest of every dog as their top priority—despite the recent pandemic and the challenges it has brought.

A Safe, Supportive Environment

“We go beyond the services of a dog daycare and boarding facility,” says Lyra. “We provide our dogs a safe and supportive environment to practice appropriate social skills that they can then, in turn, continue to practice in the real world. In other words, we are supporting our dogs to feel comfortable just being a dog around other dogs.”

Servicing up to 80 clients at its Pine Street location and up to 20 dogs at its Williston Road Training Center, the canines spend most of their day socializing in a group designed for them. Daycare and boarding clients, for example, are split into groups based on energy level instead of size, ensuring that the center can support each individual pet in its care regardless of the day.

Pandemic Pivot

At the start of COVID-19 in early spring, however, Play Dog Play quickly implemented a change in its operational procedures before officially reopening May 11 to accommodate the challenges of the global virus. A contactless drop-off and pickup protocol for owners, for instance, was executed in addition to limiting the types of belongings accepted from homes.

“These protocols are in place to minimize points of contact between our owners and employees,” says Lyra. “Masks and social distancing, of course, are required in both of our facilities. We are closely abiding by state regulations surrounding disinfection procedures and have doubled, if not tripled, our cleaning procedures since reopening to ensure the safety of our employees.” 

While they have begun offering owners the option to return to normal drop-off procedures, the contactless option will remain in place until further notice, Lyra added. “We are eager to continue to support the positive trends in our state and do our part to keep our community members feeling comfortable and safe,” Lyra says. In addition, even though research indicates that dogs are not as susceptible to the virus, Play Dog Play now requires owners to keep their dogs home from the facility if they are sick or have been around someone who has been sick. “We feel it is our collective responsibility to keep each other safe and healthy by exercising extreme caution until further notice,” says Lyra. 

Opportunity to Play

Both locations at Play Dog Play feature large indoor facilities filled with agility playgrounds, elevated beds, and a large number of tennis balls to provide hours of fun, exercise, and socialization. The outdoor play areas provide fresh air and a change of scenery. Interviews are required for all dogs prior to their attendance in daycare or boarding. The interview consists of evaluating a dog’s behavior in various aspects of the facility environment. Evaluations are done by one of the facility’s trained dog handlers and can be watched by owners from its observation deck.

Boarding dogs are awakened at 6am and have a 7am breakfast. They then join daycare dogs during the day for exercise and play. In the evening, they go to their personal suite for dinner and rest. Then at 10pm, staff return to give a bathroom break. Both locations host limited numbers of pets (14 to 20) with state-of-the-art boarding suites. Each is equipped with large elevated cot beds and water and food bowls. While in its care, all dogs are monitored carefully for their consumption of fresh water that is continuously checked and refreshed.

“Our dogs spend the majority of their day socializing in a group designed for them,” says Lyra. “Dogs are individuals, just like us, and it’s crucial to have a flexible line of thinking and desire to meet the dogs’ needs.”

Enjoyable Companions

The goal of training is to provide an approach that creates a “well-mannered, stable, and enjoyable companion,” according to the center’s website. The training is designed to create a sustainable behavioral change that extends beyond the training setting.

Grooming services include bathing, ear cleaning, toenail trim, and furminator treatment. The facility’s wash stations allow owners to bathe their own dog without worrying about cleaning up afterward. There are two stainless steel wash tubs at each location complete with ramps and electric dryers. Such extras as towels, shampoo, conditioners, nail trimmers, and brushes are provided. A pet supply store at the Pine Street location carries a variety of premium dog and cat food as well as other pet supplies from local Vermont companies and trusted brands in the US and Canada.

Whether boarding or at daycare, it is of utmost importance that Play Dog Play creates and cultivates an environment that is conducive for its four-legged clients. “Our owners receive detailed and thorough reports at pickup, so they are kept up to speed on their dog’s progress and behavior in our environment,” says Lyra. “We love to celebrate our dogs’ successes while problem-solving and collaborating on any behavioral concerns with our owners,” says Lyra.

Play Dog Play
668 Pine Street
Burlington, VT

1725 Williston Road
South Burlington, VT
(802) 540-0545
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