1. Are there limitations to when you can or cannot come see your dog?
A good dog daycare will have an open door policy. You should be able to access your dog whenever you like. Although it can be very disruptive for dogs when owners stop in for quick visits, a good dog daycare will always remember that every dog is someone else’s family member. They may politely explain how upsetting it can be for your dog when you visit then leave, and you might want to take that into consideration. But at the end of the day it’s still your dog and they will remember that.
2. Do the dogs have access to go outside to pee?
Some dog daycare’s have fenced outdoor space, others take the dogs for leashed walks. Then there’s the ones that let them pee inside. I prefer dogs get a leashed walk but an outdoor area will do. No matter what, it’s never OK to teach a dog to pee or poop inside. For more on this subject, see puppy pads, pros and cons.
There should never be more then 12 dogs per 1 staff. I get it, life happens, people get sick or don’t show up for work. On rare occasions a business will get caught off guard and be short staffed for a day. Other then the occasional ‘life happens’ scenario, if the daycare you use has more then approx 12 dogs to 1 staff on a regular basis, you might want to take your dog elsewhere.
4. How long have they been open and how much experience do they have?
I’ve seen this so many times. Someone spends a ton of money and opens a ‘top of the line‘ doggy daycare facility with all the bells and whistles. Do not be fooled. Those bells and whistles are only there to impress you, not your dog. Yes it’s important to have a bright clean environment, but do the owners/staff have experience working with dogs?
Do they have any dog education?
Do they know what to do if a fight transpires or a dog escapes?
What if a dog has a seizure, a health issue or some other medical concern suddenly arise?
Do they even know how to assess a dog to see if he or she is a good fit for a daycare setting?
Do they accept aggressive dogs?
Have they been taught how to assess for aggression?
The question is, do you want your dog to be at a daycare that ‘looks pretty‘? Or do you want your dog somewhere with staff who know how to handle multiple dog situations? Especially if an emergency transpires. Day courses such as pet first aid certification are an excellent start. They should be mandatory for all dog care workers, but it’s not going to give them any hands on experience.
FINAL TIP: Picking a good dog daycare doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Combine the suggestions above with your own common sense and intuition and I’m sure you won’t go wrong!
Written by certified professional dog trainer and natural nutrition, Brenda McBurnie
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