Dropping my puppy off at a new doggie daycare for the first time, I felt like a mother dropping her kid off at a new school. Will he like it here? Will the other dogs be nice to him? Will he make some new friends? Dogs can be just as shy and sensitive as kids in a new situation. Our puppy Brewster normally warms up to new people and new dogs quickly, but he can get a little nervous at first, and this was the first time we were sending him to a different daycare than the one he’d been going to since we first got him at 11 weeks old.
Just like a good parent, I went to check out a couple different doggie daycares that I’d heard about, before making a decision. I took a tour of each facility and tried to imagine how my dog would like it. I’m so glad that I did my due diligence, because these two places were night and day, and I left one feeling seriously depressed. It’s not enough just to find a place for your dog to go during the day while you’re working or away; you have to find a place that he will want to go, and that you feel comfortable with too. Some dogs may have done fine in the first facility I visited, but knowing my dog, it would have stifled his playful personality and left him feeling neglected. I also would have been more worried about him, wondering if he was getting enough play time and attention. The second place I visited seemed much more suited to him, and I felt confident that it would be a place he’d enjoy going, especially once he made some friends.
Doggie daycare and boarding facilities can be very different from one another, so it’s important to check for a few things, and decide which is right for your dog:
- How much square footage of play area does the facility offer?
- Do they use kennels, or is it a cage-free facility?
- Is there an outdoor area where they get to play on a regular basis, or is it indoors only?
- Are there play structures, or is it just an empty space?
- How do they organize the dog groups? (size, temperament, age, etc.)
- How do they handle aggressive or bullying dogs?
- Is the day structured in any way, or do the dogs stay in the same place all day?
- Are the dogs ever taken out on walks? If so, how many dogs does the walker handle at one time, and where are they walked?
- What is the staff to dog ratio? Do they learn all of the dogs’ names? Do they play with the dogs or just supervise them?
- Is any basic training done with the dogs while they’re at daycare (like recall)?
- Do the staff members come from a dog/animal background (e.g., trainer, vet assistant), or were they just trained to work there?
- Is the staff trained in canine CPR or First Aid? Do they have an on-site veterinarian or an association with a nearby vet in case of emergency?
- Do they require vaccination/health records? Do they do a temperament evaluation before accepting a dog?
- If you board your dog overnight, where will he sleep? What will he eat? Can you bring your own food?
- What does the daycare price include? Are there any add-on services?
Those are just a few of the questions you should be asking when evaluating a new daycare or boarding facility for your dog, so you can decide what type of environment will be right for him. It’s also a good idea to do some research ahead of time, including looking up information on the facility’s website and reading Yelp reviews. At the end of the day, a happy dog makes a happy dog parent, and your dog will thank you for taking such good care of him!