You just walked in the door from a long, grueling day at work, only to be greeted by a familiar scene: your excited, exuberant dog, tail wagging, ready for the walk or game of fetch that he or she has been waiting for all day. The guilt sets in…you know you should play with your dog, and you want to, but there’s dinner to start and homework to help with, and an endless list of other tasks to be completed.
If this sounds similar to your typical evening, doggie daycare may be right up your alley. For the right dog, a daycare facility can provide the exercise and mental stimulation many dogs are lacking, with the added bonus of assuaging human guilt.
A doggie daycare facility is actually a short-term boarding kennel service. It’s referred to as “daycare” because of its similarities to daycare for human children, such as scheduled and supervised activities and playtime.
Doggie daycares are designed to bridge the gap between multi-day kennel boarding and pet sitting, providing opportunities for dogs to play and socialize while their owners are at work or away.
There are a variety of different doggie daycare environments, such as indoor only, indoor/outdoor facilities, and cage-free or partial cage-free environments.
Not every dog is a good candidate for the daycare environment. If your dog is playful, enjoys socializing with other dogs, is comfortable and confident in public, and does not mind being away from you, then he or she will likely enjoy and benefit from daycare. If any of those aspects are questionable, you may need to reconsider.
In fact, if your dog suffers from separation anxiety or does not enjoy interacting with other dogs, the doggie daycare experience is likely to be highly unpleasant, and may even make him or her more inclined to dislike other dogs or struggle with separation issues.
If you’ve honestly assessed your dog’s temperament and feel that he or she could benefit from the extra exercise and socialization that a doggie daycare could provide, the next step is finding the perfect place.
Call ahead and make appointments to tour several doggie daycare facilities in your area. As you tour, observe the animals, staff, and overall environment. Dogs and staff should appear happy and should be interacting with one another, and the ideal environment is calm and controlled, rather than chaotic and stressful.
Because your dog’s safety and health are your top priorities, make sure to ask about the following policies and procedures:
What is the process for assessing whether or not a dog can be admitted to the facility? Make sure you are comfortable with it. If a facility does not routinely evaluate prospective clients, find another one.
Does the facility require proof of vaccinations?
How are playgroups determined? Size, energy level, and playing styles should be among the various attributes considered when forming playgroups; Chihuahuas should not be in the same playgroup as Labradors, for example. Make sure your observations of the playgroups match up with what you have been told.
Your team at The Pets Place Animal Hospital is happy to help you on your path toward getting your dog the exercise and playtime he or she needs. Please let us know if you have any questions. We’re here for you!