How to choose the perfect doggie day care

Do you work long hours every day? Or perhaps you feel guilty about not playing more with your dog or taking him out for walks so that he can get lots of exercise? Have you considered a doggie day care facility?

With a doggie day care there is now no reason to feel guilty; in fact, you should be quite happy! Such a facility allows your dog to run around and play all day long with other dogs his same size and energy level, whilst being supervised by a trained professional. At the end of the day, when you pick him up, he’ll be so tired that he might actually fall asleep in the car on the way home! Remember, a tired dog is a good dog!

However, not all doggie day care facilities are the same and choosing which one for your dog can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing the perfect doggie day care:

- Price is always a major factor when deciding on a doggie day care. Most facilities in your local area will probably charge similar prices. However, you should be wary of prices that are too low; facilities that charge much lower prices than other facilities in your area, are probably skimping on something.

- Take a careful look at the range of services that the doggie day care offers. What are their operating hours? And do they offer extended hours in case you are late or need to go into your office early? Quite a few doggie daycares now offer to pick up and drop off your dog directly at your home; you should keep this mind if your work hours are irregular. Other types of services that may be offered are grooming and training, overnight boarding and dog walking services, although there are additional fees for such services.

- A good doggie daycare will have plenty of space in which your dog can run around and play, as well as a padded area in which he can rest. If the doggie daycare facility that you are considering only has an outside playground for the dogs, then there should be an appropriate indoor space set aside for them during inclement weather. Nevertheless, clean, fresh water should be available for the dogs to drink at all times. Every doggie daycare should be clean and well-maintained. Take a careful look at the ratio of dogs to employees inside the doggie play area. The lower the ratio, the more your dog will be well looked after.

- Find out if the employees are trained in first aid and CPR for dogs, as well as any other training that they might receive. Although some doggie daycares have a vet’s office on the premises, it will still give you peace of mind knowing that there is someone in the play area with your dog that is well trained for medical emergencies. There should also be an experienced dog trainer on staff at all times.

- Most doggie daycares divide the dogs according to their size, weight or age. If a facility that you are contemplating doesn’t do this. Move on. You don’t want your Chihuahua to be crushed under the paws of a Rottweiler!

- Know their acceptance policies. Some of them may refuse entry to ‘bully breed’ dogs. Every facility should require that all dogs be up-to-date with their shots and free of fleas or other contagious diseases.

- Another thing to consider is whether or not the doggie daycare is licensed and insurance or bonded. This is very important as it helps protect you and your dog whilst your dog is enrolled at the doggie daycare.

- Get recommendations by talking to your vet, friends, neighbors and other pet professionals.

- Find out whether the dogs are screened for temperament before being accepted.

- Always call those doggie daycares that you are considering and ask questions. Try to get a feel for the type of staff that work in the front office and then ask to speak to the dog trainer and ask them a training question. Take note on how they offer their suggestion; does it involve old school training techniques or more positive reinforcement?

- Once you have narrowed down your choices, visit those doggie daycares unannounced. Remember, a good doggie daycare that has nothing to hide will allow you to drop in at any time. Visit during a time when you know that the dogs would all be out playing and ask for a tour. Return again during a peak pick-up time and notice whether or not there is order or if it’s just chaos.

Make sure that you ask a lot of questions. To get you started, here are a few good examples:

- How many certified dog trainers are on staff at all times?

- What is the dog to employee ratio? This shouldn’t be more than 1 employee to 10 dogs and there should always be at least two people on the playground at all times.

- Do they screen dogs?

- Are dogs dived into different play areas depending on their size?

- What is their protocol when dealing with dog fights?

- What training do their employees have?

- Do they offer dog obedience or training classes? If so, what are their training methods?

- Are you allowed to drop in for a visit whenever you want? Or is it a closed facility?

- Do they have grooming services? Does the groomer follow positive reinforcement with the dogs too?

- Are there any medical concerns that they do not allow at the doggie daycare?

- Do they discriminate against any specific breeds? Keep in mind that if a doggie day care states that they do not allow ‘aggressive breeds’, then they are unqualified owners/employees who do not know the difference between temperament and behavior.

Photo Credit: QT1p and My_Boy_Dodger

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