Choosing a Doggy Day Care

Do you have a dog but work long hours, or want your dog to be better socialized with other dogs?  You may want to consider a doggy day care for your dog.  These are places that care for a group of dogs and allow them walks, social time with each other, and keep an eye on your dog so if he gets sick during the day, someone can get him to the vet quickly.

Doggy daycare started popping up in the United States in the mid 1990s.  Since anyone can open a doggy daycare and hang out there shingle, it is important to screen them before placing your dog with one.

First, evaluate your dog.  If she used to interacting with other dogs?  Is she middle aged or older and perhaps doesn’t want to be confined in a room with a dozen other dogs?  If your dog has had all her shots and is under three years old, she is a good candidate for doggy day care.  Otherwise, it might be better to just have someone walk her when you are going to be late.

Now, onto evaluating the doggy day care.  Go visit it.  Will the staff let you inspect the rooms and kennel?  Does it smell bad, or clean?  Do there seem to be enough staff for the dogs they have?  Are the little dogs and the big dogs segregated?

A good doggy daycare should be evaluating you and your dog as you are evaluating them.  They do not want a dog aggressive dog, or one with contagious health problems, at their daycare.  They should give you a questionnaire on your dog’s habits, health, and temperament.  They should require proof of immunizations.  They should be wiling to go over the answers to your questionnaire with you and let you know if your dog sounds like a good fit for their facility.

The first day at doggy daycare is usually a half day where the dog is evaluated to see whether he fits into the facility well.  Staff should have a written evaluation form and they should be willing to go over it with you.

If all that occurs and all seems fine, ask about the training of the staff.  Are they just high school kids or do they have training in animal behavior and management?  A dozen rowdy dogs and too few staff, or too few knowledgeable staff, is a recipe for disaster.

A play group should never consist of more than fifteen dogs at a time, and a group that large should have at least two humans with them.  Ask for their punishment policy.  If they use a shock collar, run.  If they use a squirt bottle filled with water or time out, that is acceptable.  Punishment should be used rarely and there should be a written policy on when it is used and what is done.  However, the group of dogs should always be under control and no dog should be picked on.

Finally, the final say should be your dog’s.  Is your dog happy to arrive at doggy day care, or do they cower in the car?  Are they reluctant to leave or do they drag you away as fast as they can go?  If your dog doesn’t enjoy it, don’t force it on them.  Some dogs just aren’t party animals.