FARGO — Many dog owners drop off their pets at places like South Bark, a dog daycare in south Fargo, to keep their dogs in shape and entertained.
The number of dogs in the play area increases during frigid temperatures, as South Bark staff members say on average they entertain four times as many dogs during bitterly cold days.
"We have close to 100 dogs here today," said Nic Smith, South Bark's social media and marketing manager. "We usually see about 80 dogs for daycare but definitely today we've seen an increase."
Smith explains they see more people boarding pets in the summer but during the winter, people use their daycare services. In fact, Smith said the doggy daycare's numbers have been high since Monday, Jan. 13.
"Most people are trying to get there dogs more activity during the cold cause they can't go for walks at night when it's this cold," Smith said. "So they usually bring their dogs to daycare to get that stimulation."
Even with all the excitement of the long playdate, bathroom breaks are inevitable. When South Bark staff members take dogs outside, they fit each dog with booties.
"Cold is really bitter on dogs' paws," Smith said. "Booties help but a dog's skin is only so thick. It's not so much the length of the hair so much as it is the coat."
For that reason, Smith said time outside is cut short.
"Every two hours or so we let them out for 5 or 10 minutes to go to the bathroom, but when it's this cold we don't open our doors much at all," he said.
During Jan. 16, the Fargo-Moorhead and West Fargo area saw temperatures around 10 below zero.
Smith recommends 20 minutes or less outside during these frigid temperatures.
He also instructs pet owners to pay attention to their dog's behavior for signs they're struggling in these below-freezing temperatures.