What to Consider When Choosing a Daycare Facility for Your Dog

Do you feel guilty when you have to leave your dog home alone? Are you too tired at the end of the workday to give your dog enough exercise? Does your dog enjoy the company of other dogs? If you answered yes to these questions then daycare might be a great option for your dog.

Socialization, exercise, prevention of boredom and peace of mind for owners, are among the most popular reasons that owners bring their dogs to daycare. Some use these facilities during the entire 5-day work week, while others enroll their dogs in daycare a few days a week. Daycare may not be a good option for all dogs, according to certified professional dog trainer Robin Bennett who serves as a consultant for dog daycare facilities. In her post ďMy Dog Got Kicked Out of Daycare TodayĒ Bennett writes:

Not every dog likes off-leash play and thatís ok. Itís not a statement about the dog. Itís about an environment that just isnít a good fit for a particular dog. Just like an evening at the fireworks isnít the best environment for a dog who is sound sensitive and a crowded parade isnít the best environment for a dog who doesnít enjoy crowds, an off-leash play environment isnít the best place for a dog that doesnít enjoy playing with other dogs.

There are no national standards for dog daycare facilities so itís up to dog owners to make sure they are leaving their dogs in safe hands.

The International Boarding & Pet Services Association (IBPSA) provides industry expertise, staff education and training as well as certifications to its members, including owners and employees of pet boarding and daycare facilities. In addition, the Professional Animal Care Certification Council, a nonprofit created by a team of industry experts, provides different levels of certification for pet care providers.

How to Choose the Best Daycare Facility for Your Dog

  • Make a personal visit to the facility and pay attention to the general appearance. The facility should look and smell neat and clean. Solid waste should be removed immediately and there should be a disinfecting process in place for urine. The IBPSA recommends asking what kind of cleaning products the facility uses and are they safe for pets?
  • While there are legitimate reasons why a facility might not allow visitors into the kennel areasódogs reacting negatively to strangers or fear of visitors spreading diseaseóa good daycare will have a viewing area where you can observe kennels, time-out zones and playrooms. Also, many daycare facilities have webcams set up so owners can watch their dogs interacting with other dogs during the day.
  • While work in a dog daycare facility is physically demanding, the staff should appear neat and clean. The staff should demonstrate a high level of understanding and concern for your dog through their questions, their dog handling techniques and their attitudes. Itís important to ask about the expertise and training of the managers and staff at the daycare facility.
  • Proper supervision is key to a good facility. At daycare facilities, staff must have a constant physical presence supervising dogs in playrooms. The IBPSA recommends asking for the facilityís provider-to-pet ratio. You want to know how many dogs an employee will be supervising at one time.
  • Does the provider have an evacuation plan in case of an emergency? Experts at the IBPSA advise asking if the facility has a fire safety program and, if so, how often is it checked?
  • If the daycare has outdoor play areas look for sturdy, well-maintained fencing and gates and dividers between runs. If your dog is a climber, digger or some other type of escape artist tell the facility so they can take necessary precautions.
  • Make sure you understand the temperament testing process. Ask if there are Ďtimeoutí areas off of the play areas, and make sure dogs are tested for toy aggressiveness if toys are used. Dogs have to pass socialization interviews and temperament tests before being enrolled at Camp Bow Wow, one of the largest dog daycare franchises in the U.S.
  • When dogs of various sizes are admitted to a daycare, ask if separate playrooms are provided for different sized dogs and different group behaviors.
  • If a daycare facility does not allow standard collars, appropriate identification tools such as paper or breakaway collars should be provided. As an added precaution, itís a good idea to have your pet microchipped. In collarless facilities, check for multiple gates to minimize the risk of escape.
  • Be sure to discuss health care concerns. There should be water bowls in all the play areas and timeout kennels. Ask about the procedure for obtaining veterinary service in case of an injury. Ask about the facilityís immunization requirements. Dogs should be immunized against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and bordetella. Certain health or physical conditions may not be appropriate in a social daycare environment or playgroup. Discuss any of your dogís health issues with the daycare operator prior to enrollment.
  • The daycare facility should be temperature controlled and be able to maintain temperatures within healthful, comfortable limits for your dog. All outdoor activities and exposure should be limited when weather conditions are extreme. Check for shade and shelter, which should always be provided in extremely hot or cold environments.
  • Rates should be easily available and be sure that you understand the method of calculating charges. Days and hours of business should be clearly posted.

It’s appropriate to ask the facility for references so you can speak with other clients and also ask your veterinarian if he or she is familiar with the business. Also, consider reaching out to the Better Business Bureau ta see if any complaints have been lodged against the daycare facility you are considering for your dog.

The IBPSA offers more information on choosing pet care providers including doggy daycare.

The Professional Animal Care Certification Council offers a free guide for pet owners on choosing an animal care provider.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

57 comments

Chrissie R
Chrissie R4 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Marija M
Marija M4 months ago

Tks for posting.

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Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

They are our babies and need good safe care Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Make sure they will be well cared for Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Great information and advice Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Very interesting article Thank you for caring and sharing

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Angela J
Angela J5 months ago

Thanks

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O5 months ago

Vera this is a well written article full of practical safety thoughts for any dog owner needing to utilise these facilities. Thank you very much. To be very honest if our dogs can not go with us to a particular place we don't go! That simple. Either one of us stays home with our furkids or we both stay at home. Frankly like a few other commenters here I really trust no-one with our animals...no-one looks after them like we do and we know them inside and out. I do like the suggestion of local neighbourhood dog groups and it is fine, but still need to know about insurance, health care and veterinary or fire escape drill for each home. Easy for people to say that they know you will be careful, but when furkid is hurt or goes missing most people out of grief will sue! Spammer flagged

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