Once you have made the decision to send your dog to daycare, it is important to consider your options carefully.
When evaluating different dog day cares, talk to people you know and look at what is available when making your decision. Criteria that you should consider include:
It is important to choose a dog day care in much the same way that you would select a nursery for your child or an assisted living facility for a parent. In other words, it is essential that you make a visit in person. The impression that you form during your tour is what you will use to inform your decision.
Time the visit so that it is at the point in the day when the dog day care is busiest; if they refuse, cross them off your list. A visit at this time of day allows you to see how well they operate during their peak hours. It is also a good idea to make the visit unannounced so that you can see how the day care functions under normal circumstances. The best time for a visit is often the middle of the day.
During your tour, consider the following questions:
Does the staff look like they enjoy working there?
Do the dogs appear to have enough space?
Dogs in cramped spaces are usually stressed out and may be more boisterous and aggressive with each other. Pups and older dogs are likely to have a harder time with this.
It is not enough to look around; you should take the time to interact with the staff. These are the people who will be taking care of your dog, so it is important that you learn who they are as well as for their abilities. Be ready to ask hard questions such as:
How many staff members are present per dog?
At our daycare, we usually have a ratio of 1:8; meaning, one dog minder to every eight dogs. The ration should never be higher than 1:10.
Do dogs ever get injured?
If so, what is the procedure for dealing with the injuries? Note that the dogs should never be left alone under any circumstances.
If there is only one person on staff and a dog has to go to the veterinarian, they should have a system in place to handle this.
Do dogs ever get expelled from the day care?
Assuming that expulsions do happen, they should be able to explain how often they occur.
Do the staff actively engage with the dogs?
You should find out whether they play using balls and other toys. While these things are fun for an individual dog owner, they can make dogs competitive and may cause scuffles.
Do they accept all dog breeds or do they have restrictions?
Do they take unneutered male dogs over 12 months old?
If so, you may want to cross them off your list. Testosterone in a large group of dogs is usually not a good thing.
Will my small dog or puppy get bullied by larger dogs?
In some day care centers, the dogs are separated by size; however, we do not believe this to be necessary. As long as the dogs have sufficient space, size is not a hindrance to dogs getting along with each other.
Some dog day care establishments will accept new dogs at any time, which they claim is more flexible.
The problem with this type of booking system is that it creates an unstable environment, as some dogs will be in and out of daycare.
A good day care provides consistency.
Our center strives to ensure that dogs have an established group dynamic.
Once you see how well the dogs in our care interact with other, you will know why committing to at least a session per week is best for your dog.
If your day care center provides grooming services, consider whether the groomer uses positive reinforcement to get the dogs to cooperate.
Many dog daycares will provide a pickup and drop off service. When considering this service, it is important to look at the amount of time that your dog will spend traveling. If they are picked up during peak traffic hours, they may spend a considerable amount of time in transit.
Our day care collects early and returns your dog early in the day to avoid too much time spent traveling instead of time spent playing.
When transporting your dog, the day care center should use dog-friendly vehicles with air conditioning.
The crates used to hold your dog in transit should also be vet-approved. While you may not want your dog in a crate, it is important to remember that appropriate safety steps when your dog is confined within a vehicle are necessary. Keeping your dog in a crate also make it easier to let each dog out at its home with no risk of all the other dogs getting out.