Top Dog is Top Notch

How to create the best home for your pet, even when you're away

The tumult of the past few years has disrupted typical work and life patterns, yet many have used this unique opportunity of being home more to welcome new pets into their lives. While adding a furry family member to the household is exciting, it’s not without adjustments. Jean Stelten-Beuning, owner of Top Dog Country Club, has cared for and considered the needs of so many dogs over the past 23 years; her expert advice is always welcome.  

Jean recommends setting expectations and training your new dog on house rules. 

She says, “Dogs want to please their people, and they need to understand expectations and should expect family members to be consistent in what is allowed and not allowed. One of the greatest mistakes new dog owners make is to confuse and stress their dogs out because one family member is strict and another has no rules, boundaries, or expectations.”  

Setting a routine is also important. “Dogs are creatures of habit, and they love routine. The more consistent we can be with their daily routine, the less stress they experience.” Jean encourages owners to provide an atmosphere where their dogs can expect consistency regarding feeding, exercise, and comings and goings. 

She says, “When it’s time to leave - don’t make a big fuss . . . Pet your dog and let him know you will see him later. Give him an interactive toy stuffed with some treats to occupy his time. This same rule applies when dropping the dog off for their vacation. Don't make a big production out of it. If you do not stress, your dog will not stress.”

With spring break quickly approaching, many families will be traveling and have to leave their beloved dogs in the care of others. Top Dog Country Club provides a home away from home where their comfort is priority number one, an idea sparked from Jean’s own personal experience. “33 years ago, I went on a mission to forever change the way dogs are cared for when their people travel. As a former Vice President with Marriott Lodging, my work demanded constant travel, and when a house and dog sitter canceled on me, the inspiration for Top Dog Country Club was born.” 

If you are leaving your pet for the first time in the care of others, Jean recommends touring any potential facility and asking key questions beforehand to ensure a successful stay for the dog and a relaxing time away for the owner. “Always ask for a tour. If the answer is no, walk away. A facility should be proud to show off its 'digs'. That being said, operating efficiently entails lots of moving parts and functions that need to stay on schedule. So, for instance, if you show up during busy arrival or departure hours, understand that you may need to wait a bit for a tour. A quality facility puts the dogs first and tries to get clients checked in/out and on their way.” 

Top Dog offers not only luxurious accommodations but also excellent staff-to-dog ratios and a multitude of activities to ensure your pet has as great of a vacation as you do. Located on 39 acres of land, there is plenty of room to play and run and socialize outdoors as well as indoors. Your pooch can even enjoy swimming in the pool!  

As in many homes, our dog is the favorite family member, with no other real contenders. Top Dog ensures that dogs and their families experience only the very best. Jean says, “At the end of the day, I know that the dogs are happy and tired . . . and they sleep very well. They are tucked in with bedtime stories. At night, you can hear a pin drop in this building; the dogs are wiped out and resting, getting ready for more fun tomorrow. When it is time to go home, most of our guests sleep for two days, happy and tired. We call it The Top Dog Hangover.”

It sounds like vacation bliss. Now, if only dogs could post Yelp reviews.

To learn about and book accommodations for your cherished dog visit:

Dogs are creatures of habit, and they love routine. The more consistent we can be with their daily routine, the less stress they experience.

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