June 18, 2018

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Questions to ask before your dog goes to doggy daycare

The time has come for your pup to go off to doggy daycare. It’s a big decision. You want him/her to have fun and socialize. Ideally you want them to come home having learned a new skill or been enriched in some way. But the truth is, not all doggy daycares are created equal.

Exhaustion used to be the measure of success for all doggy daycares. The concept originally was to have the dog walk around all day and occasionally play. Many daycares (including most corporate run daycares) use whistles, or cans of pennies or water bottles to intercede when things get “too rambunctious”.

Still even more unbelievable; you pay for what you think is off-leash doggy daycare. As it turns out, many times dogs are placed in kennels during the day. Also, many don’t even do a thorough personality evaluation. We have a corporate daycare here near us that does no evaluating of any sort, yet they discriminate against Pit Bulls and other bully breeds. Let us tell you, a German Shepard or Chihuahua can be just as aggressive as any dog. We never be assume that any breed is less aggressive than another.

So where do you start? How do you compare doggy daycare programs? What questions should you ask?

Below are a few questions that will help you compare doggy daycare philosophies. By asking these, you can weed out those programs that may not be the best for the overall health and wellness of your pup.

1. Is my dog ever put in a kennel during the day?

This question depends on your personal preference. If you are interested in a kennel-free doggy daycare experience for your pet, you should clarify whether or not dogs are put in cages at anytime throughout the day. Some doggy daycare facilities will do it when the staff wants to take a lunch or even for a majority of the day. Some use them as a “time-out” place. You can decide if you are comfortable or not with the idea of your pup spending time in kennel during the day.

2. Are dogs evaluated before being allowed to attend?

Why is this important? Personality assessments give a baseline of behavior for the dogs in the playgroup. Allowing every dog to attend with no idea how the dog will react to stress, or dogs who may have a rude play style is a scary idea for everyone. Safety starts with allowing the right kind of dogs in playgroups. Not based on breed, but personality.

3. How many dogs are there in a play group?

This one comes down to safety again. The larger the number of dogs, the more increase in the chance of an incident happening. Just like when we are talking about classroom sizes for children… smaller is always better. Look for playgroup sizes that allow the counselors to bond with the dogs and safely manage the playgroup. Robin Bennet, a top authority go dog behavior and doggy daycare models, suggests 10-15 dogs per playgroup as an appropriate size for safety and happiness of the pets.

4. Do you put a cap on the number of dogs allowed in doggy daycare a day?

This one is an extension of the above question. Another way to ask this question would be, “How do you know how many dogs will be here each day? And how do you know to staff appropriately for the unknown amount of dogs?” If there is no cap on a daily basis and they pack the dogs in, it becomes a matter of safety. Not only for the staff, but also for the pets attending. Stress levels rise in big groups (think of how you feel in a large crowd versus a dinner with a few close friends). Ideally the facility would cap the amount of dogs to ensure playgroups stay manageable and predictable.

There are many more questions you should ask about the program, but we hope these provide some talking points to use when deciding what facility is best for you and your dog. You can read more about our Doggy Daycare program here.

What questions do you think are important in evaluating a safe and fun place for your pet?


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