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5 reasons why we don't provide daily updates through messages

I'm sure most of you have heard about the update service that is becoming popular with boarding hotels nowadays, where owners are being sent messages daily to update about their dogs? Well this is a very sort after and easy way to gain awareness, however at ATP we still don't believe in providing such service at this point of time. There's a reason for that, in fact we have 5 if you are interested to learn why :)

From an innocent owner's point of view, messages updates may have lots of advantages and zero risks. It serves to provide owner as ease of mind knowing what their furkids are up to, as well as showing that the person cares about the wellbeing of the dogs they are taking care of. Daily updates can also let owners know if their dogs are eating well and even to the point of whether their behavior is good. The truth? Nothing is perfect, there are always pros and cons to everything.

Now here's the disadvantage, if the information (updates) you receive is wrong/made up, it could affect how you perceive your dog's behavior and cause MORE unwanted problems in future (i'll explain more later on).

In this post I will be sharing information from feedback collected throughout the years from our experience, and also a bit of secret shared by a friend who had been in the dog business for over 10 years.

Here goes the 5 reasons why we do not provide updates through messages:

It's impossible to have new updates, daily
Logically, it's impossible to have new updates about dogs everyday, it's not like human diary where you know what is going on deep inside in your mind and then write them down on paper. Dogs are not as complicated as us and they do not think like human beings, unless your dog is undergoing intensive training or behavior modification program, progress can take days and sometimes it can even take up to weeks before changes can be seen. During this point of time their daily routines are usually the same, we at ATP understand that dogs love fixed daily routines and we strive to provide them the exact thing they need every single day.

So for example, if a guest had chicken for meals, played with Amber, peed/pooed on pee tray, went for walk at 9pm and slept at 10:30pm today, it's most likely that tomorrow would be the exact same routine and so on. If you expect every single day to be different for your dog and convinced that the varied updates you received are true, read the next reason.

We could easily make stories up
Businesses understand how consumers think and sometimes they need to tell white lies to make them happy. It's usually not harmful to make up a few stories but we at ATP prefers honesty and do not wish to risk any unwanted problems backfiring even if the chances are low. A friend of mine shared this brief template with me, it consists of a variety of things you can update owners and most of them are just fill in the blank kind of solution, the key is to create a "feeling of difference", he highlighted.

Template: things you can use to message owners
Treats session
Sleeping time

Example of varying updates
Day 1
• Amber had the kibbles you brought for breakfast and she finished it!
• We played tug of war today
• Amber loved the venison treats we made, we will be giving her more!
• We went for walk at the void deck
• Amber loves hugs!
• Dinner was great, she finished within 5 minutes
• Amber had no trouble sleeping at night

Day 2
• Amber had breakfast at the kitchen
• We played fetch today
• Gave Amber chicken treats that we made, she really loves it!
• We went for walk at the park today, met a dog
• Amber interacted and played with other guests
• She wanted more for dinner so we gave her some apples
• Amber slept in the living room today

Are you angered by the "fake" updates above? Well this is the hidden truth about services like this because there are no proof to show that they are true! Many businesses do this and they have no ill intentions in mind, it's just to make you, the owner feel good and happy about yourself while you are on vacation. For someone who's had experience in taking care of dogs, it actually took me less than 5 minutes to come up with the above "updates", even I was pretty surprised by how effective the template was. As mentioned by this friend, the key is to vary what you say and owners will never doubt (at least not before you read this post).

Let me put it simply, if 5 dogs stay with a caretaker for 20 days each, how are they going to come up with 100 different daily authentic updates without telling any "harmless" lies? Think about it.

It does not benefit the dog in any ways
Let's assume that the daily information provided is real and accurate (just assume), it does not make the dogs feel any better! In my opinion, the job of the caretaker should be to maximize their available time to spend and take good care of the dog, rather than dropping owners messages on things that does not benefit their dogs in any ways possible.

We do reply when owners ask about their dogs, but more often than not the humans would become paranoid and start requesting things that had already been provided in the first place, which in return may cause more worries and anxiety for both owners and caretakers. One example, there was one owner that kept asking if his dogs were fed, plus twice a day question asking if his dog ate. This is common sense and if someone really needs to remind the caretaker to feed the dog, then I think that the boarder should be blacklisted. If I were to put my dog with someone, I would first make sure that I can trust the person, otherwise I wouldn't enjoy my vacation constantly thinking about what's happening with my dog and if she's safe.

False information provided can easily backfire
Back to reality, false information passed on can easily backfire without you knowing why. We have trained owners whose dog clearly had aggression towards others, they were confused why their dog could get along well with other dogs during boarding/daycare (as claimed verbally by the caretaker). When we dug deeper to learn more about the problem, the answer then became clear - These owners were only updated through messages and verbal words, there were no videos nor photos to show that their dogs (with history of aggression) could actually socialize with others without any form of training/correction. We've even encountered a dog that showed worst behavior after going for long term day care, where the owners were told that their dogs were having fun playing but it was actually bullying others and picking up bad habits along the way.

We'll always try to update owners about their dogs during collection, and these information are usually not nice to hear, but our goal is to provide accurate information so that their dogs can lead a better and more fulfilling lives! If you board your dog and only hear nice things afterwards, then there will be nothing to learn, what's more, you'd bring your dog home thinking that all unwanted behaviors are fine, and when these behaviors start worsening, the one that suffer most would be you and your dog. Again, everything have their pros and cons, you have to decide for yourself what's best.

Action speaks louder than words
"Your dog's eating behavior has improved!", "Your dog started socializing!",  "Your dog is playing!", all these nice things are just words and it does not mean anything until you see them. Do you really prefer to have a message sent to you saying your dog is doing well, or would you prefer a video of your dog doing those things in action?

Every improvement be it housebreaking, aggression, socializing or even eating, we'd always do our best to prove them in the form of video, or at least a photo (of the dog peeing on tray maybe?), this not only confirm the claims, but also show that we are spending quality time with the guests, you could clearly see from the pace of video that we have more than enough time to capture any behavior that we wish to show. No point having 20 seconds video of the dog sleeping and then writing an essay about how well it is learning and behaving, agree?

This post is not to tell owners what's right or wrong, everyone is entitled to their personal preferences. For those that enjoy our services and had wondered about this, then this post may help to clear up any concerns, as for those that still prefer to receive personal updates, you'll be happy to learn that many boarding places are willing to provide this service for free :)


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