Our pets are often like an extension of our family and are often treated the same as our children. So, when considering their care and safety why shouldn’t we pick the best doggie daycare possible for them? Choosing the right doggie daycare can seem like a daunting task, as there are so many different factors to consider. Everything from pet safety all the way to playgroups needs to be factored into your decision-making process.
Whether your pup is outgoing and excitable, or calm and relaxed, they deserve the best care possible. By finding the perfect doggie daycare you can ensure that while you are away at work, your precious pups are being taken care of properly. We here at Debonair Dogs wish to make your life a little easier by providing you with the ultimate guide to choosing a doggie daycare.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Doggie Daycare
When picking the perfect doggie daycare for both you and your dog there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. Start by sitting down and making a list of everything you want the daycare to provide or feature. Almost as if you were going to be the one going. Your list should include things such as:
Playtime for dogs
Socialization for dogs (especially if you got a dog during the pandemic)
Dog to staff ratio
These should be on the top of your list, although feel free to add anything else you desire. Once you have made your list, begin searching online for the top doggie daycares in your area. Start checking out their website and consider things like its organization, appearance, is it up to date, etc. The website can be very telling for the quality of care a facility provides.
Once you have found a good-looking place online, try and get in contact with them to arrange a tour of the facility. If they do not offer tours, it is probably safer to go with another option. If they do, however, book one so you can look around. The tour will provide you with the opportunity to check out the place in person and check for things like:
Lots of windows and air flow
Are there broken fences? Are the fences tall enough for bigger dogs? Do they look well maintained?
Will their gates be strong enough to prevent escapes?
Are they clean? Do they have any obstructions, i.e., wires, broken toys, puddles, etc.?
Does it smell clean? Are there lingering odors?
Do the staff look happy? Are they well put together? How do they interact with the animals?
These are all surface level observations, feel free to look for more when you take a tour. There are plenty of other factors to consider when picking the perfect doggie daycare, these however, are our top picks. Take some time and sit down to really think about what you want out of a doggie daycare but also what you need.
Questions to ask When Selecting a Doggie Daycare and Why
Along with all the different factors that you should be considering when picking a doggie daycare, there are also some key questions you should ask before signing up. These are what we consider the most important questions to ask the facility to make sure that your pup is receiving the best care possible.
1. Are they fully certified?
Start by looking up your city’s local regulations and laws for running a doggie daycare. Currently most places in Canada do not require you to have anything beyond a business license, however, that can always change. So be sure to triple check for your region. If there are any regulations in your area, make sure to ask any facility that you are interested in if they have all their qualifications and if they are up to date. You should at least check to see how experienced the staff are with dogs or if anyone on the staff is a certified trainer.
2. What type of updates do they provide?
Many places will provide you with some type of update about how your dog is doing, how they are adjusting, and their overall mood. Make sure to ask what type of updates the daycare provides; this can greatly influence your decision. Are they daily, weekly, do they have a webcam you can tune into? These are all important factors to consider. Some people prefer more regular daily updates, while others don’t mind waiting a week, it is all up to personal preference.
However, you also need to be careful with how they answer. If they are cagy or refuse to give you a concrete answer that can be a bad sign. Giving updates makes sure that the company is providing you with some level of transparency when it comes to how they care for your pet. If they refuse to do so it could mean that they may have some unethical practices, they don’t want you to know about.
If the daycare doesn’t have cameras, don’t worry too much. Some very reputable daycares don’t put cameras in the play areas because the parents overreact when the dogs are playing and then constantly call in or text the staff.
3. What type of behavioural tools do they use?
Any good doggie daycare should practice reward-based behaviour; however, some places prefer to use behavioural tools to control the dogs instead. In some cases, this may be necessary, like when a fight breaks out or there is an emergency incident. However, when they are used daily simply to control the dogs it can be bad. Ask if they use tools such as squirt bottles, anti-bark collars, muzzles, etc.
4. How do they do playgroups?
Playgroups should be smaller groups of dogs that are around similar sizes, play styles, energy levels, or age that are grouped together for play time. Ask about what type of playgroup dynamics they have. Are they separating them appropriately or are they just letting them all play together? This can really matter as different dogs have different needs. You can’t simply throw a big dog and a small dog together for play time, or an over excited puppy together with an anxious senior dog.
Along with playgroups you should also ask them about break times. Sure, doggie daycare can be fun for the dogs as they get to run around and play all day, but they also need a break. No dog, no matter how energetic they are, can play all day without getting over exhausted. So, ask them about their break times. Do they have them? How often? Do they keep the dogs separated? Do they provide nap time? Do they have comfortable areas to rest?
5. What are their plans?
Their plans for the dogs should cover a wide variety of scenarios and they should be prepared for all of them. Do they have a natural disaster plan? What happens if a fight breaks out? How are they going to deal with it? What if a dog starts barking? What if one dog is bullying another dog? How do they prevent scuffles? What do they do in the case of an emergency? What happens if a dog needs to go to the vet?
The daycare should be prepared for all these scenarios, and if they aren’t it may not be the right choice. The daycare should have all the contact information on hand for a local vet that they trust and can verify, as well as for the guardians of all the dogs within their care. Make sure to go over with them what they would do if something happened to your dog or because of your dog, and how they would handle it and get in contact with you about it.
These are some more minor questions that are just as important to consider when looking for the perfect doggie daycare. They may not apply to your dog specifically, but they are still important to consider none the less.
Do they have a daily schedule?
Very good for puppies, older dogs, and pandemic dogs/dogs with separation anxiety
How do they deal with resource guarding?
What is their staff to dog ratio?
It is recommended that there should be one staff member for every 15 dogs however, this may depend on the type of activity being done and the dogs temperament.
Do they provide a viewable webcam and how can it be accessed?
Good for new dogs to daycare and careful parents, also provides good transparency by the company.
What type of training do the staff have?
They should at least have basic care and safety training; however, they should ideally have training in canine behaviour, canine body language, warning signs of danger, stress and illness.
Do they provide socialization for the dogs?
Do they have them playing with others in a safe manner?
Do they provide good mental stimulation?
Do they have indoor doggie daycare?
Do they have outdoor doggie daycare?
Do they put them in crates? For how long? How often?
Some dogs may have anxiety around being in a crate for extended periods of time, the facility should rarely have the need to place a dog in a crate.
This has been the ultimate guide to choosing the right doggie daycare. We hope it was helpful in educating you a little bit on factors to consider when picking the perfect doggie daycare and questions to ask. For more doggie content check out the rest of our blog page and feel to reach out with any questions you may have.