Dog daycares have become a mainstay for pet owners across the USA, growing in popularity since they first popped up in the mid-1990s. For most pet owners, dog daycare gives their dog a safe place to exercise during the day while they’re at the job and provides much needed mental enrichment and companionship that dogs wouldn’t be getting independently at home.
But how do you know which daycare to choose? With an increase of popularity, more and more people are receiving in on the trend, and there are lots of options and styles available, from the top franchised “brand-name” daycare to the dog daycare your neighbor started in their home.
Your dog daycare and boarding industry is under-regulated, so it’s important you see a daycare where your pet will be safe, happy, and well looked after. There are many things to consider when interviewing different dog daycares, like the design of daycare, staff to dog ratio, staff experience and training, cleaning procedures, dog handling and training methods … plus more!
Before exploring different daycare options, first think about whether your pet will in actuality enjoy going to daycare. Have a look at this article to find out more on how to share if dog will enjoy and prosper in a puppy daycare.
Read on to learn what things to look for and what things to ask a possible VA business doggy daycare.
THE MAIN Thing to consider in a Doggy Daycare
While there are many best-practices to consider whenever choosing a daycare, I really believe the most important quality is transparency. Which means that daycare staff is willing to answer your questions thoroughly, openly discuss their policies, speak about pack management and training philosophy and methods, and be honest when discussing your dog’s behavior in the daycare environment.
An established dog daycare could be more than happy to discuss how they do things to you, and can also enable you to “tour” their facility which means you can see it by yourself, whether personally or almost through webcams, videos, or photos. You shouldn’t be surprised if the daycare will not allow in-person tours while daycare dogs are present – the frequent coming and going of new people can cause unneeded stress within the pack. Instead they could have you have a tour beyond operating hours, have a live webcam to watch, or videos and photographs of what a typical daycare day looks like for his or her doggy clients.
Dog Park Style
This type of dog daycare has large open spaces and it is often indoor/outdoor or outdoor only. The space provides energetic dogs the area to perform, play fetch with staff, meander around and catch up on pee-mail, or watch all the activity from the sidelines.
Since it usually includes yard, if you stay in an area with inclement weather, be ready for a wet and muddy dog at the end of the day. You’ll also desire to be alert to the facility’s plans for very hot or winter.
Daycare staff is spread out throughout the play area to ensure safety and polite behavior between dogs (think “zone defense”). Make certain the ratio of staff to dogs is kept at a safe level in this kind of daycare (more on staff to dog ratio further down in the article).
What Things You Should Ask a Prospective Dog Daycare:
Below I’ve listed some basic areas of dog daycare you should enquire about, and my tips so far as what answers you should be looking for.
1. What are your vaccination requirements for dogs that attend?
Dogs are in close contact with other dogs at daycare, and illness can spread quickly if dogs are unprotected. A responsible daycare facility will require all dogs showing proof of current vaccinations for Rabies, DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus), and Bordetella (“kennel cough”). Some daycares additionally require vaccination for Canine Influenza (the doggy flu).
One thing to bear in mind is that even with vaccination some illnesses can still be caught, such as kennel cough (Bordetella). However, if your dog is vaccinated and contracts kennel cough, the severe nature is often significantly less than if they’d been unprotected. Consult with your veterinarian about their tips for vaccinations beyond those required by the daycare facility. Just click here for more information on what vaccines your puppy needs before attending places like doggy daycare, training classes, or the dog park.
2. What exactly are your spay and neuter requirements?
Most dog daycares have a minimum age requirement of spaying or neutering dogs that attend their playgroups, usually between six months to 1 12 months of age. This is due to pack management safety – it includes nothing to do about if it’s “better” to repair your intact dog (we’ll leave that debate for another day). Altered dogs can react differently to intact dogs, and vice versa. A responsible daycare would want to keep these types of flash points to a minimum in their pack, this means they need to ask non-altered dogs to not attend after they reach sexual maturity (usually between six months to 1 12 months old). It’s about setting the finish off for safety and success.
3. What is your daycare trial process?
Your dog daycare must have a protocol for accepting new dogs into their pack. A daycare trial will include asking for health insurance and behavior history so staff knows any conditions that might affect a dog’s behavior in a new environment. Uncover what behaviors would preclude a puppy from attending daycare, and ensure you are more comfortable with the daycare’s behavioral requirements for daycare attendance.
If you know that your pet struggles with a behavior that may result in them being dismissed from daycare or not passing the trial, be upfront with staff to allow them to better set your pet up for success and keep themselves and the other dogs safe. Some behaviors that can be tough to control in a daycare environment include: resource guarding (of food, space, or toys), sensitivity to handling by humans, shy/timid, nipping and mouthing, jumping on people, excessive humping, excessive barking, separation anxiety, excessive herding behavior, and even more. You can ask the daycare facility what behaviors are hardest for them to manage in their setup and environment to be sure you’re establishing your dog for success and not triggering unneeded stress for your pet, the current daycare dog pack, and daycare staff.
A trial should focus on your pet meeting staff and being evaluated on how well they accept being handled by someone apart from you, their owner. When being introduced to the dogs, the procedure should allow ample time for a slow introduction in to the pack. This may mean your dog starts in a kennel at the side of the play area, is introduced one-on-one with other dogs before being out with the complete group, or starts in a low-energy play group area before moving into a lot more action-packed rooms. Ask the actual facility searches for so far as indications whether a dog is enjoying their trial or if indeed they need a break. Depending on the daycare, the distance of the daycare trial might range from a couple of hours to a complete day.
4. What’s the ratio of staff to dogs?
There should be at least one well-trained employee for each and every fifteen dogs (1:15), but the smaller the ratio the better! I love to visit a staff to dog ratio of just one 1:7-10 in the high-energy play groups to help maintain appropriate play between the more rambunctious dogs.
5. Just how many dogs are in each group?
This will depend on the design of daycare. Your dog park style might allow thirty to forty dogs in a single group; you want to ensure that there is a proper ratio of staff to number of dogs, that the dogs in the group are well-matched temperaments and play styles, and that there surely is enough room for the dogs to go freely about without feeling crowded.