When Gina Singh got her Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix two years ago, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was out of work and her family could spend a lot of time with their new dog, Polar.
But once she landed a part-time job as Treasurer at Richmond Tourism in November 2021, she started looking for dog walks while she and her husband were working and the kids were at school.
“I felt bad because we spent so much time with him and then all of a sudden we all went back to our daily routines [routine]”Singh said.
After trying out different doggy daycare and dog walking services for several months, Singer said she found a company through a friend’s recommendation that would take Polar out two or three times a week.
“If I didn’t [them]I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Singh said.
Singer is not alone when it comes to finding dog service. Some in the industry say demand for dog services — walking, full-day childcare, pet sitting and overnight boarding — is high as more Canadians return to work and vacations.
Rover.com, which provides walking, pet sitting and boarding services globally, said demand has increased. Total sales in the first quarter of this year rose 137% from a year earlier, from January to the end of March, the company said.
busier than ever
Singh uses Dogs on the Go, a dog walking company based in Richmond!
Owner Kari Hanninen, who spoke with CBC last year about dog service needs, said her business remains busy.
Hanninen, who started the company in 2019, said she used to walk a dog or two a day. She now takes two groups of six dogs out twice a day, usually to the off-leash area of Macdonald Beach Park.
“I often say to my clients, ‘If you know your days, let them in now because they fill up quickly,'” she said.
Hanninen also offers up to two overnight boarding spots where the dog stays with the owner when she is away.
She said last year she noticed an uptick in demand for boarding services as B.C. allowed leisure travel across the province. Now that international travel restrictions such as testing and vaccine requirements are being lifted, she is noticing another increase in demand.
Renae Warnock is the co-owner and general manager of Coquitlam-based Dogtopia, which provides day care and boarding services for up to 100 dogs.
Warnock said she had also noticed an increase in enquiries for overnight stays before the summer, and said about 50 per cent of accommodation had been booked for July and August.
Advice for owners
Warnock advises new dog owners who have never used overnight boarding services to try to schedule time with a dog sitter to familiarize their pets.
Many dogs purchased or adopted during the pandemic have never left their owners, so leaving them the first time can be difficult, she said.
“Some dogs, you know, if they’re stressed out, they won’t eat their food, it’s really hard,” she said.
For those struggling to find a dog walker for their dog, Hanninen recommends asking family, friends or neighbors for advice. She says they can offer honest insights about dog walkers or babysitters.