FAQs & Policies

Before You Sign Up

Welcome and thank you for taking the time to learn how we can help care for your pet(s) while you are away! The first step is to read through this important page. If you have any questions please send us an email through the Contact Us link on the main page. On the Contact Us form you will have an opportunity to leave us questions or comments. Next, under the Sign Up menu, complete the New Application. Once that is submitted, we will contact you to schedule an initial visit. During this visit we introduce ourselves to you and your pet(s), go over the application, and answer any questions you may have while we gather details relevant to your pet care needs. After the initial visit you will receive a welcome email with details on how to login to our website, purchase and request Breaks. That’s it!

After you sign up for one of our memberships we work with your schedule to develop a Ruff Break exercise plan for your dog. Then on the scheduled days and times we show up at your house, notify you via a text message if you elected this option on the Ruff Break Application, greet your dog, and off we go on a Ruff Break! Each Ruff Break is 40 minutes of actual exercise devoted to your dog. We don’t put your dog in an area with other dogs and passively supervise. We are active participants in your dog’s exercise for the entire duration. Along the way we may stop to work on basic obedience commands like sit and stay, so they stay fresh in your dog’s mind. Depending on your preference, other dogs may join your dog on Ruff Breaks. This is a great way for your dog to socialize, because it is literally part of a pack during the Ruff Break. Dogs, being almost identical at the DNA level to wolves, are ingrained to migrate and roam in packs. Besides the exercise benefits, Ruff Breaks are great for your dog’s well being because they simulate pack migrations and hunts. Whether we walk, run, skate or bike, your dog is a member of a moving and migrating pack and after the Ruff Break is over, your dog is rewarded with affection and treats. It doesn’t get much better than that in a dog’s world!

A Fast Break is a chance for your dog to stretch its legs, go for a short walk and a bathroom break. Fast Breaks reassure your dog while you are away. Each Ruff Break is worth two Fast Breaks which allows you to mix and match Ruff and Fast Breaks according to you and your dog’s needs. Fast Breaks are popular for pet sitting when multiple visits are required in a single day. For example, if we are watching your dog over the weekend, its Saturday may look like:

  • a Fast Break in the morning

  • a Ruff Break during the afternoon

  • and a Fast Break at night

Or if you are running late at work and need us to give your dog a Fast Break, we do that too!

Walking, running, biking, skating, weight pulling and even swimming and stand-up paddle boarding during the warm months. Some of these activities are reserved for special occasions due to time and setup. The activity we choose for a particular dog depends on the dog’s physical abilities and weather conditions.

  • No driving required to drop off or
    pick up your dog before and after work

  • No aggression test to pass.

  • Your dog gets a fun and challenging exercise workout

  • Your dog will be tired after its Ruff Break and can calmly enjoy the rest of its day

  • Your dog stays in the comfort of its own home and environment

  • Your dog learns to ignore distractions and gets basic obedience commands reinforced.

Locally the daycare rates seem to range from $20 – $30 which puts us right in line. But when you consider the advantages of Ruff Breaks over doggie daycare, we believe Ruff Breaks are a great deal for you and your dog! If you have multiple dogs the savings can really add up. Additional dogs are just $3 extra per Ruff Break.

Members can use the Ruff Breaks in their membership for pet sitting. Since each Ruff Break is equivalent to 2 Fast Breaks, members can customize how we care for their pets while away for extended periods. As an example of our multiple visit pet sitting, let’s say you are planning to be away for two days and need us to pet sit your dog. You want your dog to have 2 visits on day 1 with exercise and 3 visits on day 2 with exercise. On day 1 we would give your dog a Ruff Break (40-minutes of exercise) in the afternoon and a Fast Break at night. On day 2 we would give your dog a Ruff Break in the morning, a Fast Break in the afternoon, and another Fast Break at night. The combinations are completely up to you. Give us a call or send us an email if you have any questions about how our pet sitting will work for your situation.

The biggest advantage is that your dog stays in the comfort of its own home while you are away, where it will naturally feel more at ease. The other advantages are similar to the advantages of Ruff Breaks over doggie daycare answered above.

There are no special temperament or vet requirements.

Local boarding rates range from $25 – $45 for the first dog per night. Additional dogs are usually between $10 to $15 each. The Ruff Break pet sitting rates for single dogs are comparable to local rates. Members enjoy the best pet sitting rates. Savings really add up when you have multiple dogs in our pet sitting care.

Each additional dog is usually just $3 extra per Ruff Break for your first 3 dogs. But there are exceptions. When two Ruff Break team members are needed because the additional dogs are mismatched in terms of exercise ability or energy level, then the total Ruff Break rate is 2 times the regular Ruff Break rate. For example: Lets say you have two dogs that need to be exercised. Spot is a fast German Shorthaired Pointer who can run and run and run with us next to him on a bike. Midnight is a mellow dog that doesn’t really like to run, but prefers a good walk instead. You would like both of them exercised. We could pair Spot and Midnight together on the bike, but Spot would not get nearly the exercise he needs, because Midnight would be substantially slower. In this case we will have two Ruff Break team members on the Ruff Break. One to bike with Spot and one to walk Midnight. Since two team members are required in order for both dogs to get maximum benefit from the Ruff Break, then the total Ruff Break rate is 2 times what it would be for one dog. If the rate for one dog is $24 per Ruff Break, then the new rate under similar situations when two team members are present for the Ruff Break is (24 * 2) $48. Situations like these may take 2 or 3 initial Ruff Breaks to determine. If this is the case with your dogs then we will let you know after the first few Ruff Breaks, at which point you can agree to the new Ruff Break rate, or just have us exercise the dogs that are equally matched in terms of exercise ability and energy.

Alternatively, you can have us walk all your dogs for 10-20 minutes and then focus the last half of the Ruff Break on the higher energy dog with more intense forms of exercise. This way you only pay for 1 Ruff Break.

  • For our members that use 3 or more Ruff Breaks per week and are on an automatic recurring schedule (same days each week), then whenever you purchase a Top Dog Select membership your base rate per Ruff Break is reduced. If you have multiple dogs then each one is only an additional $2 per Ruff Break instead of an additional $3. Not applicable if you live outside our regular coverage areas.

Each dog is required to have pet insurance that covers the pet while in our care. The fee is $12 in Rochester for each dog per year.

We do our best to accommodate your schedule. For example, if you are a nurse and work the night shift and need your dog let out late at night we will be there! Most of our clients use our services during the day. Regardless of your work schedule, ideally we like to visit your dog half way between when you leave for work and when you return. This may fluctuate an hour or so from day to day, but in general we find this to be ideal for the dog.

We track your memberships so you don’t have to, but you can if you like. Any time during the membership we can send you a list of days, times and how many Ruff Breaks or Fast Breaks you have left. When your membership is close to the renewal date we will notify you via email.

Every Ruff Break is equivalent to two Fast Breaks. Lets say your dog is signed up for our Top Dog membership and you have 16 Ruff Breaks, then you have the equivalent of 32 Fast Breaks. Sometimes your dog won’t need a full Ruff Break, so we give you the flexibility to tailor your dog’s membership. You could use all 16 Ruff Breaks, or you could use half as Ruff Breaks (8) and the other half as Fast Breaks (16), or any other combination that suits your needs.

We encourage this as explained in the answer above to “How do Ruff Breaks work?”. We only match your dog with other dogs that are socially balanced. Most dogs enjoy Ruff Breaks with other dogs. But in the end, the decision is up to you.

Our system allows text messages to be sent by our team members when they are on a Ruff or Fast Break with your dog. At some point during the Break you should receive a text message, assuming you selected that option on your initial application, notifying you that a team member is at your residence and is exercising or otherwise caring for your dog. This text message does not necessarily correlate with the start of the Break, but rather just a notification that your dog is under our care.

Important Policies

Certainly! If you don’t need a regularly scheduled Ruff Break, just send us an email up to an hour before the scheduled Ruff Break we will reschedule the Ruff Break for the next scheduled day. If the reschedule is under 48 hours away then additional charges may apply. See scheduling restrictions below.

You can cancel your Ruff or Fast Breaks up to and including the same day of the scheduled break. Generally you want to get your cancellation request in no later than 7pm two evenings before your scheduled Break. If you cancel after 7pm two evenings before the scheduled Break then the break will still be deducted from your membership.

We do our best to make sure your dog gets exercised properly according to your schedule. Our policy is: if we arrive at your house and your dog is not present for its Ruff Break or we cannot get into the house for a reason outside of our control, we will count the visit as a Ruff Break and notify you via email.

We try very hard to accommodate short term Ruff and Fast Break requests as well as short term pet sitting requests. Short term requests put a lot of pressure on our scheduling and team capacity, which in turn impacts regularly scheduled breaks. For these reasons we ask all clients to request their Breaks AND to purchase enough to cover the request with more than 48 hours notice.

For clients that are not on an automatic recurring schedule (same days of service week after week) there is an additional charge for Ruff or Fast Breaks requested less than 48 hours in advance. Each Fast Break requested less than 48 hours in advance of the Fast Break start time will have an additional Fast Break deducted from your current membership. Each Ruff Break requested less than 48 hours in advance of the Ruff Break start time will also have an additional Fast Break deducted from your current membership. Similarly, if you have scheduled a Break in advance, but request that the Break be rescheduled to a different time slot with less than 48 hours notice, an additional Fast Break will be deducted from your current membership to accommodate that change.

Please note that even if you request Breaks within the short term request window we may not be able to honor the requested time block you chose.

Also note that since we do not schedule breaks unless you have Ruff Breaks to cover the visits, even if you request a Ruff or Fast Break with more than 48 hours notice but you don’t have enough Ruff Breaks to cover the request, the purchase must come through more than 48 hours from the first Break, otherwise the same policy as described in the previous paragraph applies.

If you are cancelling a Break and rescheduling it for a time under 48 hours notice then the short term charge will also apply to the rescheduled Break.

For pet sitting requests less than 48 hours in advance of the start time, any Ruff or Fast Breaks requested on the first day of pet sitting will get an additional Fast Break deducted from your current membership. For example if it is Thursday and you request pet sitting starting Friday mid day through Sunday morning, all Breaks on Friday will get an additional Fast Break deducted from your current membership.

For clients that are on an automatic recurring schedule, requests that come in later than 24 hours from the start of the requested Break(s) will have an additional Fast Break deducted from the current membership for each Break starting under 24 hours away.

We strongly encourage you to give us a garage or door code for entry, especially if you use our services on an “as needed” basis or have a regular recurring schedule. We always require at least one copy of the key in case a garage code or door code fails due to cold weather, dead battery, etc. However, providing a garage, door code, or lock box is a more secure way to grant us access, especially since you can often times program a different code specifically for our use. To summarize:

  • Please provide us with a garage code or door code
  • Supply your own lock box attached securely somewhere on the outside premises with two copies of your key. One copy will stay in the lock box for our team’s use on a day to day or “as needed” basis, the other is our master in case the one in the lock box is lost, the lock box jambs, or otherwise is not operational.

Often in the winter garage keypads will fail, but sometimes they fail even during normal weather conditions. If we have a backup copy of a key to your house then we will certainly be able to complete the Ruff or Fast Break, but it will require the team member to make an additional trip, first to pickup the backup key from our location and then to drive out to your house again. This takes extra time and causes other clients’ Breaks to be delayed. We will try to contact you about the situation and allow you to purchase additional Breaks so your scheduled Breaks are not impacted. Otherwise we will deduct an additional Fast Break from your membership or convert an already scheduled Ruff Break into 2 Fast Breaks and use one for the key retrieval. We might also need to carry out the Break outside your requested time slot. If a key or lock does not work, and the team member has to make an additional trip to your house with a backup key, an extra Fast Break will be deducted from your membership and/or follow the procedure outlined about for failed garage keypads. The best solution to prevent these types of problems is to have a backup key on the premises in a lock box or hidden location. This avoids us having to make additional trips when garage keypads or keys fails.

Yes, we charge a Fast Break from your membership to pick up and/or return a key. Otherwise you can send us a key in the mail or send us a self-addressed envelope with postage prepaid and we will send the key back to you.

Ruff Break memberships go along with dogs of the same owner so memberships cannot be shared between two or more owners where the dogs all happen to be living in the same residence. Each owner would need to have their own Ruff Break membership for their dog(s).

Absolutely. Sometimes different owners know each other, travel together on trips, etc, but want their dogs staying together in one residence for the duration of the trip. However, each Ruff and Fast Break is still deducted from each owners membership. So two dogs with two different owners in the same house for pet sitting would each have a Ruff of Fast Break deducted from their individual membership, even though a Ruff Break team member spends a single Ruff or Fast Break amount of time during each visit.

We do exercise and care for dogs on holidays! Holidays are considered one of the following: New Years Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. There is an additional fee for pet sitting and Ruff/Fast Breaks on holidays. Please refer to the next question for details…

Fast Breaks that fall on the holidays mentioned above are deducted from memberships (or billed) as Ruff Breaks. For example, if you have 8 Ruff Breaks left on your current membership and you use a Fast Break on Labor Day, then you will have 7 Ruff Breaks remaining after the Labor Day Fast Break instead of 7.5 Ruff Breaks.

Ruff Breaks that fall on the holidays mentioned above are deducted from memberships (or billed) as 1.5 Ruff Breaks. For example, if you have 8 Ruff Breaks left on your current membership and you use a Ruff Break on Thanksgiving, then you will have 6.5 Ruff Breaks remaining after the Thanksgiving Day Ruff Break.

Pet Sitting essentially is composed of Fast and Ruff Breaks spread throughout the day and the same additional rates explained above apply to each Fast and Ruff Break for pet sitting days.

We do this all year long, in almost any weather condition. If we can get to your dog, then it will get its Ruff Break! If the weather conditions are dangerous for your dog then we will interact with it in doors, or in the yard. But these situations are rare. Smaller dogs with thin coats have trouble
being outside for longer than 10 to 15 minutes when it is very cold. We encourage owners to use dog boots and winter wear so their dogs
stay comfortable during outings. Our Ruff Break Store has all the gear your dog needs to stay warm and safe in winter conditions.

No! We always give your dog’s physical abilities priority in deciding how to exercise it. We can still give your dog a great workout if it only likes to walk. We use dog packs to add weight and intensity to the walks. We also monitor stats like distance, speed, and maximum speed during some Ruff Breaks to get an overall picture of your dog’s exercise abilities.

If we feel your dog is beyond our ability to control in a safe manner, or if your dog has bitten or has tendencies to bite our team members then we will notify you as soon as we reach that conclusion and work with you to either make some changes to see if the dog’s behavior gets better or we may conclude that its not safe for us to continue visiting your dog, in which case we will issue you a refund for any remaining unused Breaks.

Membership Information

Certainly… to purchase a membership online simply select your location under the Store menu from the main website.

Certainly… to purchase a pet sitting membership online simply select your location under the Store menu from the main website.

We generally do not issue refunds for partially used memberships. Our Ruff and Fast Breaks expire after 2 years. If you want to stop using our services partially through a membership, then you can hold on to them and use them at some point in the future, or you can transfer them to someone else who uses our services or a new client that has never used us before. Exceptions to this rule are: in the unfortunate event that you pet(s) pass away, we may issue you a refund on the remaining unused prorated balance of your membership. If you lose your pet(s) and have lost hope of your pet(s) being found then we may issue a refund on the remaining unused prorated balance of your membership.

Its the law… Pet care services are taxable. They include services that we provide for your pets in your home and any exercise services we provide regardless of where your pets are located. We wish we didn’t have to charge sales tax, but it is the law and we are obligated to collect sales tax for the services we provide. We have provided a link below to the Minnesota tax fact sheet that specifically encompasses animal care services and products. What we do as a business clearly falls under taxable services. See bullets 3 and 9 under taxable services.

Yes, Ruff Breaks expire after 2 years from their purchase date.

Coverage Areas

Our primary coverage areas (areas where prices are “what you see is what you get” are south of 65th St NW/NE and north of 30th St SW/SE, west of 40th Ave NE/SE and east of 50th Ave NW/SW. Areas outside of this, but still considered part of Rochester, are subject to certain membership restrictions. The restrictions are based on distance, but in general, only Starter memberships are available.

We generally only exercise dogs in the Rochester area. But we have made exceptions for pet sitting when the duration is limited to no more than 5 days. A travel fee will be added for any pet sitting outside of the Rochester area based on distance.