Oh My Dog! The team taking doggie daycare to new heights in Totnes

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Oh My Dog! The team taking doggie daycare to new heights in Totnes

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Juliet and her partner Eugene are the pair behind a new, purpose built doggie daycare facility in Totnes, where your pet’s health, happiness and wellbeing is central to the experience. Perfect for holiday makers who want to spend time doing an activity that’s not suitable for pup, or local residents who need someone to look after that pooch while they’re at work or to simply enrich your dog’s week, here Juliet tells us more…

What’s the story behind the business?

My partner, Eugene, and I are really outdoorsy people, and I have always had big dogs who, one way or another, have turned into happy, sociable, well adjusted pets. So doing something with animals has always made sense to me.

In 2018 we were at a point in our lives where I had just sold a business and was looking for an opportunity that would allow us to be outside more, be active and do something different. Doggy daycare has really changed in recent years, taking inspiration from LA and going beyond the UK tradition of individuals who look after a couple of dogs in their own home.

We wanted to replicate that, creating a space that’s really fun and intentional for dogs and where owners feel really happy leaving them because they know they’re going to have a wonderful time in a safe environment.

What did you do before Oh My Dog?

I had a restaurant in Kingsbridge, which I ran for 11 years, and I was ready for a change. Eugene and I wanted something that we had both built together and that provided a change in lifestyle that allowed us to do other things with our spare time as well. I was also looking for something that reflected my own style more. The restaurant was in a listed building with a character of its own. We now have this amazing unit in Totnes, which was a blank canvas, and we have been able to turn it into something really fun, industrial and modern.

What can people dog owners (and dogs) from Oh My Dog!?

We have a doggie fun bus, so we can pick dogs up in the morning, and then they can expect to have a day that’s a great balance of stimulation, walks, down time and lots of nurturing. The Dartington Estate is close by for walks, and here we have lots of space for dogs to mingle freely. However, they’re always supervised so it doesn’t ever descend into chaos.

We have lots of toys and entertainment for them. For example, we have a dog trampoline, which they really like, we do lots of enrichment games, and we try to help with basic training while they’re with us. We provide them with lots of objects to see and assess - sometimes things that they might not have seen before. The idea is to help them gain life skills that help to set them up for a happy life. Of course, dogs do also sleep a lot (about 14 hours a day), so when you drop off you might see a lot of running around but they do tend to take themselves off and lie down, and we make sure they have space for that.

When we have new dogs with us we always put them on a harness and a long lead for walks, so I always make sure they’re safe and understand who’s the ‘responsible adult’. I always have a clicker on me and plenty of treats; we are all about positive reinforcement style of training. With puppies we are also really careful not to over exercise them. They’re still developing their bones and muscles at that age. Our goal is to make sure they have a really happy and positive time with us, not just to tire them out, but also using their brains and learning good manners.

Who is it for?

We take dogs of all ages and sizes - we’re not breedist! Some people are happy to leave them and others want to stay with them for the day the first time. We have a couple of dogs we’ve had since they were about 12 weeks old, which is lovely because we are part of helping them grow up. In the summer holidays we’ve had people who want to do non doggy things with the family and they can use us for one off occasions. For example, if there’s guaranteed hot weather and want to be on the beach all day, then it’s sensible to make sure the dog isn’t in the heat all day. We are also five minutes from the station in Totnes, so for anyone who has to go to London for a day or something, it’s perfect.

Legally we can take up to 10 dogs per person, but that seems like a lot. We are aiming to take on a new member of the team by end of the year and would only take up to 12 dogs between the three of us. It’s really a tailor made experience that’s about getting to know dogs and their owners.

Our only real restriction is no intact males as they tend to have a one track mind. Also, it’s important to stress that while we do what we can to be helpful with any general training, we are not dog trainers, we are dog nannies. So we’re not the place for dogs with issues because we’re not qualified to help with that safely and I wouldn’t want to endanger anyone. There are fantastic people in Devon who are dog behaviourists and I would recommend that if a dog has behavioural problems.

What are people surprised about when they visit?

I think that the space really appeals to humans. You’re not dropping the dog off at a warehouse, it’s nice and pleasant. Some people with little dogs are anxious about the big dogs initially and like to spend time here to see how they get on before leaving them. They are always surprised by how gentle the big dogs are and we promise not to ever let anything negative happen to them.

What are you looking forward to?

We have a girl who helps us and who is naturally gifted with dogs. At the moment she is volunteering, but we would really like to invest in her, with more qualifications and take her on as a paid member of staff. so we want to develop the business to do that. We want her to help with more training and to develop the positive reinforcement style of behaviour that we already encourage.

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Oh My Dog! The team taking doggie daycare to new heights in Totnes

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