1. Tour The Facility
Ask to tour the facility, your daycare should be accommodating and willing to show you around and show your where your dog will be kept. It is important to be able to see the cleanliness and the conditions that your dog will be staying in. If the daycare or boarding facility does not let you see where dogs will be staying it doesn't always mean that it is a bad place, but you should be especially cautious and consider looking at other venues. Another common feature now is live streaming cameras for you to see your pet throughout the day on the internet, ask your facility if they have those available and how you can access them. It will help give you peace of mind if you can see your dog and check in on them whenever you'd like.
2. Make Sure All Dogs Are Screened
Dogs need to be screened for two important things, temperament and vaccines. If the daycare lets the dogs play together and they're kept together for most of the day it is important that they screen every dog that comes into the facility. Screening usually means a free day of daycare or keeping your dog for at least a few hours to assess how your dog reacts in group situations. It may seem like a hassle, but don't be put off if a place asks to screen your dog. Daycare facilities should screen every dog and it is really for your dog's protection. Screening helps ensure that the dogs can be in a group situation together without there being any aggression, hostility or fighting. The second thing that all dogs need to be screened for is being up to date with their vaccines. Expect a daycare to ask you for these records and consider it a warning sign if they do not. Dogs that aren't up to date on their vaccines may make your dog ill or expose your dog to dangerous health conditions. For example, all dogs that are going to daycare should get the bordetella vaccine. Bordetella is also known as kennel cough and can occur in situations where dogs are kept together. Even if you aren't sure whether you will bring your dog to daycare or ever need to board them you should always keep up with a yearly bordetella vaccine in case you need to board your dog in an emergency.
3. Pricing And Services Available
Depending on what you're looking to get out of your dogs daycare you may want to see if they have other services offered.If your dog needs medication throughout the day check to make sure that your potential facility has trained staff and that they are willing and able to properly administer any medication needed. The same is true if your dog has any special needs, like needing additional walks, nail trims or one on one time with a staff member. Another service to ask about is whether they have extended hours for pick up and drop off, what they do if you miss those windows and what the charges are for missing those windows. Usually, if you miss a pick up window your dog will be boarded for the night and you will be responsible for that cost so make sure you know what your expectations are upfront and what those potential costs will be. Some doggy daycares also offer training with a member of their staff while your dog is in daycare, so you may be able to have your dog polish up on some tricks and obedience during their time at daycare.
4. Know About Feeding And Treats
Ask about whether they give any treats or meals at the facility and if they can make special accommodations. Doggy daycares should be willing to modify their treat plan or use the treats that you provide, especially if your dog has any dietary restrictions or allergies. The same is true for meals that are given to your dog. As a precaution you should ask if you can bring your own treats and food and if they can keep it there in case your dog has to stay overnight or stay longer than you anticipated.
Safety is one of the most important things to look for in a doggy daycare, but how can you tell whether a daycare is safe? Look for some basic things that help keep the environment safe for your dog, like whether they separate out the dogs by size. Another thing to look for is how friendly and well-trained the staff is at your facility and how many people they have there compared to the amount of dogs they're expected to watch. Make sure that they have enough staff to properly care for the number of dogs that are there. Having a well-trained staff can help diffuse problems before they start, workers should be trained to look at the body language of the dogs and whether the dogs are anxious or uncomfortable. The workers at your facility should also know basic dog first aid and CPR in case of emergency. Another important thing to ask is how they discipline poor dog behavior at the facility, no daycare should ever use violence or force against your dog, make sure that they use positive reinforcement.
If you have questions about whether a daycare facility is the right place for your dog use the five tips above to see whether it is a right fit for your pooch. If you don't know where to start as your vet, groomer or friends for initial recommendations of facilities. It is also possible that after you look through a facility or go through a screening for your dog that daycare may not be for them, like people, some dogs just don't prefer group interaction or daycare settings. If doggy daycare doesn't end up being a good fit for your dog you can evaluate other options like in-home care for your dog or a private dog walker.