“Our puppy has been going to playgroup with Hoochie Poochie since she was 6 months old. The owner, Lauren, is extremely focused on the safety and well being of the pups. The walkers are extremely reliable and send email updates with photos every night providing colorful detail on Sadie’s activities for the day. We have been extremely happy with Hoochie Poochie and would highly recommend the service to anyone looking for a great place to send their pup!”
–Whitney and Daniel I.
Hoochie Poochie Club specializes in a 3-hour outdoor play group. Your dog will be picked up from your home by one of our team members , and treated to three full hours of outdoor fun and safe socialization and play time. We keep our groups small to ensure personal attention and safety. The idea behind play group is to bring your dog home as tired (and happy) as possible. Our mission is to give city dogs a country lifestyle, and play group is designed for that purpose! Each evening, you will receive a detailed email (we call a "play group report") with a collection of photos and a detailed update about your pup's day.
Wondering how exactly does play group work, and how you can get started? See these frequently asked questions to answer everything you may be curious about.
What time does play group happen each day?
This varies slightly by neighborhood, and we can discuss your particular timing needs. Generally speaking, we have a morning play group that gets picked up between 9-10:30 a.m. (varies slightly by neighborhood) and an afternoon play group that gets picked up between 1-2:30 p.m. (again, varies slightly by neighborhood). Each dog is out for three full hours.
How much does play group cost?
Please see our Rates & Services page for pricing information.
What will my dog do during the three hours?
Each group is a little different, and we match dogs together based on personality, energy level, and location. Your team member will spend play group giving your dog the most ideal experience possible, so he or she comes home happy and tuckered out. We take long walks through Central Park, Riverside Park, and along the Esplanade on the East River. Many of our groups spend at least part of the day running out their energy in an enclosed dog park, with your permission of course.
How old does my dog need to be to join play group?
All dogs who join our play group must be fully vaccinated (Rabies, Bordatella, and Distemper), which generally happens by about 16 weeks, however in order to participate in play group, your dog must be very comfortable and confident with their leash-walking skills. This is not always the case at 4 months old, and while we don't require perfection (their new friends will definitely show them the ropes), we do request that your puppy have some practice, either with you or with some walk and train sessions with our trainer, prior to joining play group. If you're not quite sure if your puppy is ready, we are happy to set up a "test run" where a member of our team would come by for a quick 15-minute walk to give an assessment of whether or not your puppy is ready. If not, we can make some recommendations as far as what to do to get them more confident on leash before joining play group.
What safety precautions do you take into account for play group?
Safety is our number one priority. Therefore, we always bring our own water and collapsible bowls each day, to keep your pup hydrated, and also to avoid the "community water bowl" at the dog parks that can contain bacteria. We want your dog to stay healthy, and take careful steps to do so. We also bring our own rubber Kong balls for the pups to play with during play group. The rubber toys are easy on their tooth enamel, and are easily cleaned so as to not spread bacteria that can accumulate in the tennis balls you often see at the dog parks. Yuck. Additionally, Hoochie Poochie Club team members all use the same "Tuff Mutt" leash with an auto-locking carabiner. It makes it easier when walking more than one dog if the leashes are all the same length, and the carabiner clip locks in tight, so your pooch is safe and secure. Hoochie Poochie also requires that all dogs under our care have both a collar with ID tags, and a properly fitted harness. The Easy Walk Deluxe Harness, and the Yuppy Puppy Harness are our favorite styles. Our pet care team are under strict contract to be 100% focused on the pups while under their care. This means: no cell phone texting or ipod/earphone distractions. All hands, eyes, and ears are 100% focused on your pooch.
Does my dog need to be spayed or neutered to join play group?
For safety and liability reasons, we do require that all dogs over the age of 7 months be spayed or neutered.
How many dogs will my pooch be with?
In order to give your dog individual attention in a small group setting, the maximum number of dogs we walk at one time is four. This means your dog will have a maximum of three other playmates in play group.
What happens if it rains, snows, is frigidly cold, or dreadfully hot?
Weather can affect your pup more than you think! When it is especially hot outside, it is exceptionally dangerous for dogs. Same for the extreme cold. Your pup is unable to communicate that to you with words, but there are signs that our team members are trained to look out for when we take your pup out for the day.
Your dog's safety is our first priority. In the case of extreme weather, we will adjust playgroup accordingly. Your team member will make a judgement call based on the experience they have with your dog, and the preferences that you have laid out for us. We will keep your pup out for as long as possible, but when the weather is extreme it is sometimes necessary to cut playgroup short, or break it up into two short walks. Because the weather is out of our control and our team members are braving the elements daily in order to give your pup the highest quality of care, charges remain the same during inclement weather if play group is amended.
Please note: you can always cancel or adjust your schedule up until 7 a.m. the day of a scheduled service without incurring any extra charges.
What do you do with the other dogs while my dog is being picked up or dropped off?
We have this process down to a science so we are able to keep your apartment clean and accident-free while never leaving any dog unattended. If other dogs are with your team member at the time of pick-up or drop-off, the leashes are looped to the outside doorknob and the dogs are brought inside with the door closed. This keeps them secure and under our supervision while we attend to your dog. We never let a dog under our care out of our sight or leave them unattended.
What do I need to do to get started?
Please send us an email at email@example.com, and a member of our administrative team will email you an application. Once the application is complete, we will contact you to let you know if we have immediate availability for your dog. Hoochie Poochie Club can only accept new dogs who can commit to a consistent, weekly schedule, with set days each week. There is usually at least a 1-2 week waiting period to get started (sometimes more, depending on where you are located). Since play group is custom-tailored to your individual dog's needs, it can sometimes take some time to fit them in to the schedule. The first few weeks of play group are "experimental", meaning we will try different combinations of dogs to determine who he gets along best with, and how he can get the most out of play group. We will monitor your pooch's energy closely, to determine what the best placement will be. The goal is to find a consistent schedule for your dog, where he or she can thrive and play, and of course, have the most fun as possible. We will set up an initial consultation, where a member of our management team and walking team will meet with your and your dog at your home. At this time, we will answer any questions you have, obtain a copy of your key (unless you live in a doorman building), and of course, spend some time getting to know your dog! From there, we will develop a schedule for your dog based on your needs.
"It’s quite simple…play group offered by Hoochie Poochie is the absolute BEST anywhere!!! Our dog has been doing play group with Hoochie Poochie since she’s been about 4 months old and 2 years later, she is still doing play groups. We really like the fact that it is a great outlet for our dog to expend her energy. The mental and physical stimulation from being outdoors definitely beats having your dog stuck in a room of barking dogs, staring at four walls and having a disinterested staff member tend to 20+ dogs. At Hoochie Poochie you’ve also got absolute professional staff members who handle the dogs so well…not to mention that they are also genuine people who are truly dog people which is an added plus."
-Jimmy K. and Tina L.
What do our clients have to say about play group?
"Joining the afternoon play group is the highlight of Daisy's day! She loves the outdoor play time with her group buddies, and always comes home exhausted and happy! We are thrilled that Daisy has safe and active playtime outdoors every weekday, even in the cold weather! It's the best thing we could have done for her! We thank our lucky stars every day that Daisy participates in the play group, and we know many other dog owners who are jealous of this activity and anxious to enroll their dogs!"
-Connie & Art Z.
“Lauren! This is the world's greatest service!!! Yes, Matteo is walking better and happier and calmer. All of this contact with you and the pups is really helping him. Thank you sooooo much!!!!”
“It's a great feeling when, on a hot summer day and you're concerned about the well-being of your pup, you receive an email reminding you of all the precautions that are being taken to ensure that he's staying cool and hydrated. The Hooch is an exceptionally thoughtful operation. We recommend them without hesitation - and Winston is nuts about them!"
- Scott S. & Meggan C.
"HP's play group is perfect for our high-energy pup. He is always calm and happy after play group and relaxed when we get home from work. Lauren and her team at HP are incredibly friendly, professional, and accommodating. We highly recommend the service!"
-Andy L. and Vince F.
Hoochie Poochie Club
"What I love about play group, especially Hoochie Poochie's play group is that I can always feel comfortable knowing that my dog (Izzy) is not stuck inside for most of the day while I am at work. I can tell how much she enjoys play group when I take her to the dog run on my own, and she will always run to greet her regular buddies. I know how much Izzy enjoys playing with other dogs, and her walkers, that she is familiar with. I can tell how much Hoochie Poochie and the walkers really care about Izzy and the other dogs, and Izzy can certainly tell too!"
"I love that Bella is out for 3 hours a day while I am at work and the kids are at school. Allows for us to have a dog with our busy schedules with zero guilt. I also love how she has made friends with other dogs. We see them on the weekends at the dog run and they recognize each other right away! It's a great way to exercise and socialize your dog."
"I love that in a city so large, Hoochie Poochie is such an intimate company. I never worry and always know that Riley is being well taken care of. The best part, I come home and have a tired and happy dog!"