Your pooch is a part of your family and just as you’d check into your child’s day care center before leaving them in the care of another person all day, you want to check into your dog day care center as well. While it might seem innocent or harmless enough to just drop your dog off at any puppy day care, consider that rampant neglect sometimes occurs, disease and parasites can be transferred, serious and even deadly dog fights can break out or even abuse by the staff that is supposed to be caring for your dog.
5 Things to Look Out for When Choosing a Dog Day Care Center
With that said, here are five vital factors that you’ll want to check into before making the decision to put your dog’s safety and well-being into the hands of any type of dog day care facility:
1) Check into the Ratio of Staffers to Dogs
Different dogs do better in different environments, mostly based on their activity levels. Because of this, one of the main things you need to consider when choosing a dog day care center is the ratio of staffers to dogs in the facility. As a general rule of thumb, having 15 dogs per staffer is generally acceptable. This allows for a staff member who is competent and professionally trained to keep an eye on things at all times. However, if your dog is younger and/or more active, you’ll want them to get a bit more attention, so aim for a staffer ratio of 10 dogs for every one staffer. For older dogs or those who are “loungers”, you can drop the ratio down to one staffer for every 20 dogs.
2) Take a Tour of the Facility
Before you send your dog to a day care center, it’s important that you make the first trip alone. You should be taking note of a number of things, starting off with the staff’s willingness or reluctance to take the time out to show you around. If they aren’t absolutely enthusiastic to show you around when you show up unexpected, take that as a warning sign. Also look for dogs that are unattended, exposed wires and cords, single gates (there should be double gates up) and bare floors (there should be non-skid surface pads placed down), as all of these should set off some warning bells in your head.
3) Is the Staff Well-trained and Prepared?
During your tour, get a feel for the preparedness and training of the staff. Ask questions about their certification and screening process for staff members. You want to hear words like “basic animal care”, “animal communications” and “animal behavior.” These are your typical courses that staff members should have taken. Ask about their emergency procedures for animals as well as how long each of the staff members have been working there. Watch them with the dogs that are currently in the day care to see how they interact.
4) What Training Philosophy do they Employ?
Most dog day care centers have a philosophy they follow when it comes to training. Without this, the dogs would run amok, causing havoc and problems. Even if your dog is trained, there will likely be some new commands they learn—this is completely normal and will only serve to help keep your dog safer and happier during his or her hours at doggie day care. Still, you want to be sure that the discipline and structure your dog is getting is in line with his or her previous training as well as their personality. Some dogs do better with rigid commands while others only need an affectionate pat on the head to know the difference between playtime and a serious situation. Also check for any add-on services like pet photography services, dog grooming services etc.
5) Observe your Dog After Day Care Sessions
After you make your decision on a few dog day care centers in your area, try them out with a trial run. It’s important not to commit right away if you have the luxury of having choices. Instead, try different ones and observe your dog when they come home. They should be happy, relaxed and a bit tuckered out from playing. They shouldn’t be stressed or scared to go in the next day, much like a young child going to school. Essentially, you want to know that your dog enjoyed themselves at dog day care and if so, you’ve likely found the right one. Listen to your pup and you’ll know all you need to know.