Flooring & Dog's
Decisions, decisions.. It’s no surprise that one of the most commonly discussed topics in kennel, daycare, and boarding groups is flooring. For industry professionals who always have safety, cleanliness and cost top of mind, choosing flooring can be a difficult and daunting decision. But it boils down to a few main factors, to help you understand our decision process a little better, here's the main factors we considered.
It doesn’t just come down to your favourite colour when choosing flooring for high traffic dog areas, there’s several factors to consider such as; ease of cleaning. No daycare or kennel operator wants to spend hours just trying to make things look clean (whether they truly are.. We’ll discuss in a moment) so the Flooring needs to be simple/easy to clean, free of cracks and relatively non textured. It should be a non porous, or waterproof surface to prevent any urine absorption, bacteria development between seems, and prevent excrement from soaking into bare concrete below. Yes concrete is a porous surface if not sealed, so even with near immediate cleaning, smells can develop.
This leaves you a few options like; epoxy with regular reapplication(seen above), or cement sealing/polishing. With costs ranging anywhere from 3-15k depending on the square footage required, these options are costly, require regular reapplication, and also sacrifice some safety properties because of their slippery/smooth surface texture. While this may appeal to a boarding facility with dogs in smaller runs, moving at slower speeds. It is a concern to dog daycare owners, or trainers, who can have high speed play, and lots of high impact activity, which leads us to..
Whether your a pet professional, or just a great owner, you know how unsettling watching your dog slip and slide around on flooring can be(especially those of us with aging pups.) While proper nail care can do wonders to prevent this issue as much as possible- regardless of flooring type. There will still be dogs who struggle with their footing on smooth surfaces, and at high speeds, this can lead to soft tissue damage and even spinal injuries. This is why many dog sports require a non slip, impact absorbing surface for their canine athlete participants to run/jump on, such as turf, foam matting, grass and loosely compacted dirt/sand mixtures. As a daycare owner, and a dog owner, I would never want a dog to incur a life changing injury such as; a broken leg, by simply playing/running with friends on a slick surface. Non-slip was of utmost importance to us when selecting the flooring for our new facility.
Sanitary; Antimicrobial, Non Porous.
It’s one thing to consider functionality, or safety properties of a new floor, but is it really, truly, “cleanable?” When it comes to “non slip” matting, believe me when I say, they're not all created equal. Depending on your facility's use, an ultra plush and cushioned surface may be the ideal option(agility, flyball) to reduce or minimize injuries.
However the more plush you go in flooring, the more porous it becomes. Meaning a nail, a dropped chair, could end up puncturing the flooring, leaving it open to bacteria to seep right in to the surface, and not just at seems. So with trained, well manicured dogs, attentive owners, with proper indoor footwear, it can be a great option for “training only” facilities, although I've heard the tape used to 'seam' them together can be slick at high speeds. As such these products are less functional for a multi-use pet care provider (daycare, training, boarding combination) because no matter how well trained or supervised the dogs are, potty accidents happen, so it’s important they have the least impact on the flooring as possible.
Regardless of which flooring type you decide on, cost is going to be a factor. Horse stall matting is another commonly used flooring for dog facilities, because of its non porous properties and impact absorbing thickness, it is a great and durable choice for 1500lb horses, or gyms that regularly drop 300+lb weights on it daily. Depending on your size of space, it can be a fairly cheap option, and the pre cut sizes can make it easy to install in smaller spaces. BUT this flooring is unbelievably heavy, and difficult to move, if your making any attempt at cleaning underneath. Especially horse stall matting usually being 4x6, or 5x7’ mats at 3/4” thick.
Some stall mat options are smooth but many are textured(as seen above), which can lead to some difficulty when cleaning up messes. So unless they’re being installed permananently and being sealed to create one solid surface, they’re not exactly ideal. Especially when you consider the amount of joints/seams potentially required to cover a larger space with small rectangles, so true sealing can be difficult. This flooring type while durable and ECOFRIENDLY, still requires routine and specialized care taken to ensure the surface remains sealed, and is not damaged from harsh cleaners (as they can degrade the seaming between mats) Expensive, but it can be a worthwhile, long lasting, and durable option if installed and maintained properly.
So what did we choose for Flooring at the new facility?!
In the front areas we opted for a thick, durable LVP(luxury vinyl plank) flooring on top of subfloor, to ensure even warmer toes. This floor does not sacrifice style, for safety, like a laminate or linoleum might. It is not only attractive, antimicrobial, and easy to clean, it has a slightly textured surface to help prevent any wipe outs. It can withstand the wear and tear of dog nails, and is easily pulled up in a damaged area, with a new piece glued right back in. It is a waterproof surface when fully glued, that can handle even the occasional potty accident.
For our main daycare area and training space, where the dogs will spend most of their time, we opted to invest in a premium rolled rubber flooring. Similar to horse stall matting, but in large rolls for minimal seams, much more commonly seen in gym/recreational facilities. Secured to the floor and glued at the seams, creating a waterproof, non slip surface for dogs to learn and play on. As we elaborated on earlier with the horse stall matting, this flooring is the best compromise between safety and sanitation for our type of use. We don’t want to install a new floor every year, or retape seams every month, and we certainly don’t want to harbour any dangerous bacteria or smell within or under our flooring. We wanted a long lasting, durable and eco friendly product.
Only the best for our TBP family!
So whether your a well meaning dog owner, a facility owner, or otherwise, always do research and talk to as many suppliers as possible to ensure you don't make any costly/naive mistakes when it comes to your flooring, don't be afraid to ask what might seem like stupid questions-you have a right to educate yourself! As an owner researching pet care facilities, be sure to ask about their flooring choices, their maintenance practices, and when touring any facility be sure to your eyes to spot any concerns, but don't forget to use your nose.. If you smell something funky.. It could very well be the floor! (& all the cooties living inside and under it! yuck)
We'd be happy to give you a tour of our facility and explain how much thought we put into the health and safety of your pet. Our new facility at 1125 Winnipeg St will open in January, so come by and take a look! We can't wait to show you why there's no better place for your dog to learn and play.
Izzie Keyes, Owner/Trainer,
The Balanced Pack, Regina, SK