Kirby's Summer Camp Adventure at PetSmart PetsHotel

We had a major wedding this past September 17th in another state. Being a parent of the Bride meant there would be no time for Kirby which would mean keeping him in the hotel room in a kennel for the majority of the time or boarding him. I chose the latter for both his comfort and his safety.

There were several options available: Pay someone to keep him in their home, board him at a local business, or board him at the PetSmart Hotel. Kirby has attended Doggie Day Camp at the PetSmart in Jackson, Mississippi with good results so this was the option I chose.

The PetSmart PetsHotel is a fairly new addition to PetSmart providing boarding and day care for all pets. Caregivers, who are PetSmart safety-certified and trained in all aspects of personalized pet care, are always with the pet visitors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is also a night crew who monitor the guests throughout the night. Every PetSmart PetsHotel Pet Care Specialist is safety-certified and completes extensive training to learn about the specific needs of dogs and cats. Training topics include feeding, safety, identifying signs of distress and animal emergency. Pet Care Specialists are required to achieve 100 percent on their safety certification exam and must be re-certified annually.

They have several safety factors in place. First, it’s a great alternative to a boarding kennel with an outside fenced area which a dog could escape. Each PetsHotel is located inside the store (door #1) with its own lobby (door #2) for checking in and out pets (door #3) to the Atrium (door #4) and the Kitty Cottages (door #5). There is also a security alarm system in case of fire or threat.

Second, since most dangers, i.e. extreme heat or cold, insect bites, other unsupervised dogs and traffic occur outdoors, all activities take place inside. There is a walking path inside the hotel where dogs are walked at least twice a day with two Relief Rooms where they can be let off the leash in an area that resembles an outdoor park. Whenever a dog is out of its room for a walk or heading to the play areas, they are always on a leash.

Third, every pet goes through the Pawsitively SafeSM Pet Evaluation and Assessment during check-in to assess and observe whether a pet has any aggressive tendencies along with a questionnaire the Pet Parent has filled out with specific questions about their pets’ behavior. If a pet may be aggressive towards people, they can’t stay. If a pet is aggressive towards other pets, he or she can board but cannot take part in group playtime or Day Camp. If a dog acts aggressively during their stay, they are not allowed to participate in group-play time or have walks while other pet guests are walking.

Each pet’s daily activities are continuously monitored on activity sheets providing a detailed record of your pet’s stay. You’ll take home a Pawgress Report showing details such as how your pet ate, played, and slept. I was very pleased with Kirby’s Pawgress Report Card!

And fourth, there are procedures in place in the event a pet experiences a health situation. A Veterinarian is on call at Banfield, the in-store veterinary clinic. After hours an ill pet would be taken to the nearest emergency veterinary facility. 

Next on my list would be cleanliness. Every PetsHotel is totally enclosed and completely air conditioned and heated. The air conditioning and filtration system for the cat area is separate from the dog rooms and suites so cats and dogs will never be able to smell one another. They use building materials and sanitation devices that provide a clean and safe environment, and all rooms, suites and Kitty Cottages are inspected throughout the day and cleaned whenever they are soiled.

When staying overnight the choice is either an atrium room complete with hypoallergenic lambskin blankets or a suite furnished with a Poochy Cot, hypoallergenic lambskin blanket and a TV tuned to pet themed shows. Meals (you can bring your own) and daily walks are included with the stay. Kirby did just fine in an atrium room. I was told he never cried but would come to the door every time someone came by. I sent enough kibble for four days. Almost all of it was gone so he maintained an appetite.

If you worry about your fluffy baby while apart they have the “Bone Booth”. Just call during lobby hours and they will bring your pet to the phone so you can chat. I didn’t do this because I didn’t know if it would upset Kirby to hear my voice while I was away. I did call Saturday morning and received a complete update from a staff member who informed me she could see him as we spoke. He and two little chihauhaus had the playroom to themselves and were romping and chasing each other.

There are several Add-On Services to enhance the overnight guests. One is Doggie Day Camp to provide all-day play and exercise in fully supervised play rooms. Group Play Time consists of a morning half-hour and afternoon half-hour of high-energy play with other guests and staff in one of the playrooms. There is also Individual Play Time available for dogs that want or need to play alone which allows bully breeds, intact males or dogs in heat that cannot go into group play time a chance to play and get some exercise. Kirby loves playing with other dogs. We were told he got along so well with the others that they gave him extra play times with individual dogs. In fact his trainer brought her two chihuahuas to work with her early Sunday morning so they could play with Kirby.

Another add-on is one-on-one training with a PetSmart® Accredited Pet Training Instructor during your dog’s stay. Using positive reinforcement techniques, the teacher will teach your dog new skills or help him stay current on previously learned behaviors. I signed Kirby up for a session to learn Shake and Take a bow. His trainer said he caught on so fast she also taught him High Five and Wave at no extra charge.

A yummy add-on are the treats which can be a choice of a stuffed Kong toy or a dog-safe soft serve ice cream with a side of crunchy dog biscuits, or both at different times. Last time Kirby was there he barely touched the ice cream so we chose only the stuffed Kong. He licked off all the stuffing on the outside, ate the biscuit, and left the stuffing inside alone.

Final add-ons include a nail trim and bath. I don’t know why I didn’t choose these since he definitely needed them both!

When I picked up Kirby on Sunday he was so very happy to see me. He wasn’t upset, agitated, or trying to get away from there as quickly as possible. When Mary, his trainer, brought him out and showed me his new tricks, Kirby kept running to me jumping at my leg then to her jumping at her leg then back to me. This is his usual way of saying “ok, I really like you but I want to go with Mama now”. His reactions and demeanor told me he did enjoy his weekend getaway.

He fell asleep almost immediately after being secured in his car seat and pretty much slept for almost two days straight. Kirby and I give PetSmart PetsHotel four paws up! 

Note: I do hate we don’t have any pictures other than the few posted yesterday. Kirby's Summer Camp Weekend  We don’t have access to the back areas. There are small windows to view into the atrium and suite areas. However, I have been informed that the hotel plans to install video cameras in all areas so pet parents can view their pets over the internet at any time.