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Bury St Edmunds Camp Tails Doggy Daycare owner plans new dog hotel





The owner of a Suffolk daycare centre for dogs has revealed work has begun on a new hotel for pooches.

Jon Kay, 38, owner of Camp Tails Doggy Daycare in Bury St Edmunds, hopes to open the project next year to meet increasing demand for a place for people to leave their pets overnight.

The proposals to build a hotel comes after their move to Eastern Way from Boldero Road in the summer and the relaunch of their puppy parties.

Jon Kay, owner of Camp Tails Doggy Daycare. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare
Jon Kay, owner of Camp Tails Doggy Daycare. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare

Building work is about to begin at the site, with a common lounge and 12 to 15 bespoke themed rooms set to be made available.

A new team will also be required for the project, which could help create 15 new jobs before summer next year.

Mr Kay said: “We’ve created such a high level of service that naturally our customers want us to be able to care for their dogs overnight too, with many outwardly saying they wouldn’t trust anyone else and haven’t been away due to the lack of overnight options.

Increasing demands has led to plans for a dog hotel to be opened. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare
Increasing demands has led to plans for a dog hotel to be opened. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare

“I want to build a premium overnight experience to couple with our daycare offering to give dogs a holiday themselves.”

Mr Kay, who lives in Elmswell, has previously won awards for the daycare, winning best new start up business at the Bury Free Press Business Awards in 2017 and the winner of the Theo Paphitis SBS award in 2018.

He has stressed the significance of properly taking care of your canines.

The hotel will require a new team to look after the dogs at night. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare
The hotel will require a new team to look after the dogs at night. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare

“It’s so important for puppies that they start off on the right path in the first six months, as puppies are so impressionable. It's an opportunity for us to help owners so everything can fall into place easier.

“We’re not just some place where you can dump your dogs off, we’re far more than that. We’re like a school, so a place for them to learn and have fun, but also get to learn to be a dog.

“Puppies become far more confident and gain better social skills if you feed them this kind of stimulus early on and show them the way. Generally, most problems with dogs stem from lack of social engagement when they’re younger.

A former quantity surveyor, Mr Kay has studied dog psychology and behaviour and has been working full-time at the daycare since 2016.

He says he has a natural affinity with dogs and feels like he has found his purpose, after created the business around his eight-year-old labrador, Loki.

On average, the daycare looks after 300 dogs a week and that number is still growing, with 80 dogs in one day proving to be the record so far.

Jon Kay with his dog Loki. Picture: Jon Kay
Jon Kay with his dog Loki. Picture: Jon Kay

"We get to spend 10 hours a day, every day, with lots of dogs of many different personalities," he said.

"We’re there on hand giving lots of advice to owners. People don’t know how hard looking after a puppy can be as it can get quite daunting.

"The ultimate goal is to get people through that period and stop people abandoning puppies when it gets too hard."

The record number of dogs in the daycare is 80 in one day. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare
The record number of dogs in the daycare is 80 in one day. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare

The pandemic saw a spike in the number of puppies being bought and caused a lot of them to be rehomed or abandoned when people realised they couldn’t look after them properly.

Mr Kay and the rest of the daycare team foresaw the rise of puppies being bought but did not anticipate the scale of it, so helped offer advice to owners while they were closed.

“We assumed people would get puppies because they were at home and had that time to grow their family, rightly or wrongly, some people maybe didn’t consider what would happen if they went back to work.

"We are probably the best place for behaviour and social advice, you literally won’t be able to find anyone with a better set of knowledge base". Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare
"We are probably the best place for behaviour and social advice, you literally won’t be able to find anyone with a better set of knowledge base". Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare

“I think people also wanted companionship. Even people with one dog got a second one. So around this time last year, because of our reputation we started receiving a massive boost in people bringing their puppies, which is partly why we started moving to a bigger premises.

“Rehoming happens because people give up on the dog because they don’t know what they’ve taken on. But nine times out of 10, if you can persevere through that first six months, you can get that extra family member afterwards."

Mr Kay’s advice is to reach out and speak to someone and that saying something sooner rather than later is key.

The daycare looks after 300 dogs a week. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare
The daycare looks after 300 dogs a week. Picture: Camp Tails Doggy Daycare

“Just ask for professional advice, because you could potentially lead your puppy down a bad path which is quite hard to turn around if you’re not sure of what you’re doing.

"Whereas, if you can get some simple, practical advice from an expert then it will help.”