dogs playing together

How to Find the Best Dog Daycare for Your Pup

Of course, the popularity of dog daycare doesn’t change the fact that you need to find the right daycare for your favorite four-legged friend. It’s a bit trickier than simply finding a daycare near your house.

Luckily for you, we’re breaking down everything you need to know to find a daycare your dog will dream about.

For Dog Daycare, Start with Your Dog

First things first: finding a daycare doesn’t actually start with finding a daycare like this company. It starts with your dog.

Even if you found the pet daycare this side of the Atlantic, it won’t do you a lick of good if your dog isn’t temperamentally suited to daycare.

So, start by looking at your dog’s personality. For starters, does your dog enjoy the company of other dogs? Does he play with other dogs? If so, does he play well? How does he play with other dogs?

Doggie daycare is a lot of activity, and unless your dog is a dog park regular, they’re probably going to see a lot more dogs than they’re used to. If your dog tends to be shy or more of a couch potato, this may not be an enjoyable experience for them.

On a related note, be honest with yourself about how aggressive your dog is. If your dog tends to get aggressive with other dogs, if they get aggressive for certain things (like food or toys), or if separation anxiety makes them snappish, they may not be a good fit for daycare.

Check Out the Premises

If you’ve decided your furry friend is a good fit for daycare, it’s time to start researching.

The easiest way to start is by Googling, “dog daycare near me.” Once you have a list of options with good reviews and a promising list of potential activities, call each daycare and ask if you can get a tour.

Don’t be shy about this. Daycares know that you’re entrusting them with a family member. Most of them will be more than willing to show you their facilities so that you can feel good about letting your best friend spend the day there.

More to the point, don’t send your dog to a daycare that won’t let you tour the facility. That’s a huge red flag.

Once you’re at the facility, look critically at what you see. Consider:

  • Is it clean?
  • Do they let you interact with dogs on the tour? (They shouldn’t–you’re liable if your dog bites someone).
  • Are there tall and sturdy gates at all entrances?
  • Do the rooms have safety gates so your dog can be introduced safely?
  • What type of flooring is there? You want something nonporous, like rubber.
  • What kind of body language do the dogs have?
  • Are the dogs happy and playful?
  • Are any dogs overly aggressive? How does the staff handle them?
  • Does the staff manage dogs appropriately?
  • What’s the staff to dog ratio?
  • Are dogs ever left unsupervised? A fight can break out fast.
  • Do the dogs seem to like the staff, or are they always moving away from them?
  • Are there any loose dogs wandering the facility? This is a red flag.
  • What do the kennels look like?
  • Are there double-decker kennels? (There shouldn’t be–this is stressful to dogs).
  • Can the dogs see over or under the fencing? (The answer should be no).
  • Where do dogs go to relieve themselves?

When you look at the boarding kennels, make sure there aren’t any loose pieces or parts that your dog might be able to break off, as this could hurt them or cause choking. There also shouldn’t be any gaps in the kennels that a paw or head can slip through, as your dog can hurt themselves.

What’s Their Management Philosophy?

When you search for a daycare online and while you’re on tour, pay attention to the daycare’s management philosophy.

Most daycares will explain how they handle dogs on their site. If it’s a method you agree with, pay attention while on tour to make sure they walk the walk as well.

For example, what is their behavior management philosophy? How does the staff handle a misbehaving dog? How do they handle dog fights?

Ask How Dogs are Put in Play Groups

dogs playing

While it might seem logical to separate dogs by size, this isn’t necessarily the best way to ensure that a playgroup gets along.

Example: while a Lab puppy and a Yorkie are technically around the same size, they shouldn’t be in a playgroup together.

Instead, ask about their philosophy for creating dog playgroups. Ideally, you want a daycare that groups dogs by temperament, activity level, and preferred play style.

Find Out About Emergency Procedures

Another important point that cannot be ignored at daycare: Emergency procedures.

Staff should immediately know what to do in the event of a dogfight, a fire, a random accident, or an injury. And because of this, they should be able to readily answer when you ask what happens in the event of a fight, an injury, or other similar events.

On a related note, you should ask about the procedure in the event of a veterinary emergency. For example: do they have a vet on staff or on call? If not, where do dogs go? Do they call you immediately to inform you that something happened?

What’s the Process of Taking New Clients?

Finally, while it might not seem like it’s that important, a daycare’s procedure for taking on new clients can tell you a lot about the daycare itself.

For example, if the daycare asks for a temperament test before they allow your dog in, this is a good thing. This tells you that they vet all dogs before allowing them in–which means your dog won’t be around dogs who aren’t suited to daycare.

You should also see if they ask for any vaccinations or vaccination updates, disease checks, and other health checklists. This will ensure that only healthy dogs are in the facility, which means your dog won’t come home sick.

More Dog News and Ideas

Now that you know how to find the best dog daycare for your pet, it’s time to let your doggo have some fun.

But before you send them off, make sure to read about these five essential things to pack in a dog travel kit, or these five tips to find a vet who will make sure your dog is happy and healthy before they head to daycare.

Photo credit: 825545 via Pixabay