Doggy daycare: It's about having a Paw-some time
Love for our canine friends has certainly blossomed over the years.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore issued an estimated 47,000 dog licences in 2006.
By last year, there has been a 34 per cent increase, with 63,902 dog licences issued last year.
And the love that owners shower on their dogs come in many ways — like sending them to day care centres.
One reason, say some owners, is so that their pets don't have to be left home alone.
The lack of socialising skills is another concern.
The New Paper explores three day care centres to find out more.
The Snuggery in Serangoon Gardens offers more than just dog-sitting service.
Owner Elayne Kwok says: "It's a preschool that does not end for them." Like a home away from home.
The elevated status of the paw posse in families is reflected in how much owners are willing to spend — an annual average of $1,800 on the basic essentials such as dry food, basic grooming and vet bills. Of course, the cost can go up dramatically depending on how much you lavish on them.
Some don't mind paying up to $55 a day so the canine can attend doggy day care to expend their energy, while also picking up socialising skills, basic manners and even a trick or two.
Miss Esther Sim spent $225 on five sessions for her husky puppy, Snuggles, and she is already seeing the benefits.
"My dog is a very energetic dog and sending him to day care helps him to socialise better," she says.
"Previously, when he sees other dogs, he'll just jump at them. But now, he sits first before going to them as he knows they won't run away."
Centres such as Happy Dog in Bukit Timah and Up For Paws near Clementi even have a 'doggy school-bus' to ferry the 'fur kids' to and from daycare.
To keep paw-parents' minds at ease, most centres are equipped with all-day camera surveillance, or have the handlers send periodic updates.
"The big thing I get from owners is trust," says Mr Hurb Leong, manager of Up For Paws.
Clients have to fill out an extensive form before their dogs will be considered for a trial at the centre. It is imperative that the tail-waggers are able to socialise safely. Aggressive behaviour is not tolerated.
Mr Leong says his clients are mostly young working professionals — single or married. Most of them send their dogs to day care one to three times a week.
Happy Dog offers theme play areas so that the beloved bow-wows enjoy themselves. And for a luxurious touch, the full works of a spa that includes a scented soak and an oil massage are available.
And safety is never compromised. The dogs are never left alone and there is at least one handler for every five dogs.
The Snuggery's Ms Kwok engages with the dogs through trick training.
She says: "When dogs learn tricks, it allows the dog to be a thinking dog. And it actually helps the owner and his/her dog establish bond with each other."
Ms Kwok also takes into consideration the build and energy level of respective dogs to tailor the tricks, with safety and happiness levels of the dogs as markers.
Mrs Anna Tay has sent her dog, Wally, to day care for a year now.
"It is evident that he thoroughly enjoys himself there. He comes back well rested after a good day of playing and socialising with other dogs," she says.
Happy Dog: $40 to $55 for a full day
The Snuggery: $35 to $50
Up For Paws: $40 to $50
*Prices vary according to the size of the dog.