Written by Eloise Bright
Daycare isn’t just for kids anymore. If your pooch is alone and bored all day, doggy daycare can be just the thing to keep him happy
The gang at daycare - source
From your dog’s point of view, the ideal situation would be for him to spend every minute of every day in the company of his wonderful pack leader. Practically speaking, this isn’t possible for most families. Doggy daycare is a service that can fill in the gaps, providing companionship, socialization, and activity for your dog while you are at work.
A dog who has been playing all day is usually going to be a happier dog than one who has been sitting around with nothing to do but wait. In a good daycare, your pooch can wear himself out playing with the other dogs and the human staff. He’s less likely to be anxious at home or to rip things up out of boredom.
Daycare also provides the opportunity for your dog to socialize with other dogs, and with humans outside the family pack. That’s good for his emotional health.
Doggy daycare can also be good for your emotional health. If you’re working all day, you’ll be reassured to know that your dog is getting exercise, attention, potty-breaks, and the right foods.
Having fun at doggy daycare – source
With so much going for doggy daycare, what’s the catch? For a start, you’ll need to figure out how you would pay for the daycare service and how you would transport your dog to and from the daycare.
Some very nervous dogs might have a hard time in a large group of other dogs. Check with your vet or obedience-class instructor if you are worried that your dog might have a problem like this.
There is also the possibility that your dog will pick up an illness from the other dogs, just like a toddler at a children’s daycare. It’s a small risk, but it is there.
On the emotional side, taking your doggy to daycare can feel as though you are out-sourcing your dog’s pack to someone else. It can be hard to let someone else take care of your dog.
More fun at doggy daycare – source
How to choose a daycare that is good value for your money
Choosing a doggy daycare is a bit like checking out a daycare for a child: ask other people for their impressions of the local daycares, read reviews online, and arrange a visit to check the place out yourself. That’s all well and good, but what signs are you looking for?
If people are saying their dogs are excited to go to the daycare each morning and are happily tired out at the end of each day, that’s a great place to start. Watching your dog’s reaction will be a good indication as to whether you’ve chosen the right one, too: is he excited to go in the morning? Or, does he make his objections known by pulling away or acting anxious? Is he tired and happy when you bring him home, or does he seem upset or bored?
All tuckered out after a long day – source
What is the ration of staff members to pets on site? As with a children’s daycare, the staff ratio is important. Generally speaking, 14 or 15 dogs per person would be the maximum you’d want to see. Ten or fewer per dog would be better.
Check out the safety and security of the facility. Are there two sets of doors, to minimize the risk of a dog accidentally being let out? Is there a good fence, high enough to prevent someone from jumping it and rooted enough to keep the diggers in?
Does the daycare have planned doggy activities, individual play and cuddle time, off-leash running? What is the schedule for walkies during the day? What types of treats and toys are provided, or what types do they encourage you to provide? Depending on your situation, you might find the convenience of letting them deal with those supplies to be worth a slightly higher fee.
Running around at doggy daycare – source
So, you’ve asked the daycare provider some questions, and the answers look pretty good. What do they ask you? At the very least, the daycare provider should be asking about vaccination status, contact information for your dog’s vet, and what parasite controls you’re using.
Avoid any daycare that doesn’t require proof of vaccination. There are too many contagious canine diseases that can spread rapidly in such close quarters for vaccinations to be optional in a daycare. If your dog can’t be vaccinated for some reason (or if you object to vaccinations), make other arrangements for your pooch, for the sake of your dog’s health and that of the other dogs at the daycare.
The next step
If doggy daycare sounds right for your dog, hop onto an online dog forum or Pet Services Finder and ask around for recommendations. There are many excellent daycares out there.
Has your dog been at daycare? What have your impressions been? Tell us in the comments below.
Eloise Bright is a mom to Duster, the Pomeranian, and Jimmy, the cat. As a Sydney based veterinarian of 7 years currently working with Love That Pet, Eloise has taken the opportunity to volunteer at charity clinics and is now completing her Masters in Small Animal Practice. Chat with her on Google+.