Keeping your best furry friends safe at dog camp is just as important as making sure they enjoy themselves and have a good time when exploring the trails with their new canine friends. We at Eva’s Play Pups take a number of careful steps to ensure that all of our campers are protected when it comes to everything from interactions with other campers to a sudden bout of diarrhea. Safety is our priority and we are committed to keeping every dog staying at camp from being harmed in any way.

One easy way to “see” how we promote safety at camp is our fencing. The six-foot-high fences extend around thirty of our fifty-two acres and fold 2 feet into the ground to prevent dogs from burrowing under them. We also have fencing for different sections of the farm to separate groups of dogs from one another if necessary. Our entrance is a locked double gate which is meant to prevent dogs from escaping by keeping one gate closed when opening the other. We also make sure to schedule all visitors so that any dogs out with the camp counselors on the trails can avoid encountering a car on the road or attempting to sneak through the double gate.

When interacting with the dogs themselves, another important way of making sure everyone is safe is that the dogs are never allowed out without supervision. The more dogs who are out on the trails or in the field, the more employees there are to watch over them. All employees also carry walkie-talkies so they can keep in constant contact to alert one another of problems, locate dogs who’ve meandered away from the pack, or speak with visitors who’ve arrived at the front gate. Employees also carry a list of all dogs currently staying at camp so that they can do regular headcounts of the dogs they are watching over. Roll calls of the dogs are done often, including at the end of the day to ensure all the campers are back inside, warm and toasty. Before they leave, camp counselors verify that all of the dogs have had their collars removed, food bowls removed, and that any dogs staying in crates are secured inside with latched doors.

As soon as they arrive at camp, our canine “campers” are separated by personalized factors such as size, temperament, and age. A larger lab mix who likes to play rough would be with the “large dog group,” while a terrier mix who’s a bit nervous would be with the “small dog group.” This way, the camp counselors can protect dogs from playmates who are too big or who we know might not like each other very much.

Knowing all of the dogs who come to camp is a necessary part of keeping them safe. For example, some older dogs may be easily annoyed by younger dogs looking to play. One dog may search the woods for sticks but not be happy if other dogs try to take the stick he rightfully found. A terrier may not be a fan of other dogs sticking their faces near his and may snap at them to warn them off. We note all of these things so we can let each other know and avoid harmful situations such as angry bites and pack attacks.

To make sure the dogs are safe and healthy, we must also keep close track of the medications our campers take. We keep a detailed chart of all medications and dietary restrictions related to each dog so that we can check them off as we dispense their meals. This way, we know not only that a dog has received its medication for the evening, but which employee provided it. We also make sure that any dog who’s been playing so much they’re looking like they might have lost weight get a bit more food in their meals.

Another part of our close watch on the dogs is recognizing when they might have injuries or illness. We watch out for dogs who have diarrhea, vomiting, or any other sign of illness we need to treat while at camp. Any dog who gets hurt or behaves as through they’re seriously ill is taken to the vet to ensure their health and well-being. We examine the dogs from snout to tail before they go home to be sure that they are in tip-top shape!  All counselors participate in training sessions so that we all can do our best to protect the dogs in our care. Those of us who have more experience or different training when it comes to dog behavior provide one another with tips or assistance so we can all learn new things to keep our campers happy and healthy.

All of this is intended to keep our canine campers safe and happy. We do everything in our power to eliminate the worries of our puppy parents and keep dogs in our care focused on what really matters -- making new doggy friends and enjoying all the fun of daily life at Countryside Dog Camp.   

Article Contributed by Jennifer Matarese

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