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Picking the Right Doggy Daycare

Most of us would love to spend all day in our dog's company, but unfortunately not many are lucky enough to have dog-friendly workplaces.

So what's an active dog to do all day (especially if you don't want them running rampant through your house)? Whether it's for all 5 workdays or just every now and then to keep your pup social and active, one solution is doggy daycare.

Either way, this facility or individual will be in complete care of your dog, so you want to ensure that he's at a place that will keep him safe and happy. Before you sign up, make sure you ask these key questions:

Are you insured? One important consideration is pet insurance—be sure to find out early if the caretaker or facility has it, as this protects you, your dog, and the potential caretaker. This will also clue you in to whether the caretaker is a true professional or just someone looking to make a few extra bucks—and it's not really a tough decision between the two when it comes to who you want taking care of your pet while you’re away.

Where will my dog be staying? Check out the place your pet will be staying in person. You'll come away with a better idea of what you're getting your pet into. Look out for potential safety hazards. Is the area properly secured to ensure your dog can get away? Does it look clean and well-maintained? Do the dogs currently in their care seem relaxed and happy? Often their body language is the best indicator of whether or not this is a quality daycare option.

What are the eligibility requirements? Most doggy daycare providers take care of more than one dog at a time. Larger facilities often have a formal temperament test requirement, but all reputable facilities should want to meet your dog in person before accepting him. Otherwise, they could end up with a dog that has a severe behavioral problem that can put other dogs (and humans!) at risk.

You also want a daycare provider who that requires that your dog be spayed or neutered and up to date on all vaccinations in order to protect the health of all the pups. If your dog does have a behavioral issue or special need, then you may want to seek a caretaker who takes only one dog at a time, giving undivided attention to your pet.

What is the ratio of caretakers to dogs? If there are too many dogs, the caretaker may have trouble maintaining control and keeping an eye on everyone. Larger facilities will divide the dogs into play groups that take into account size and temperament. The Pet Care Services Association recommends one caretaker for every 15 dogs. Though for a group with more active or larger dogs, a ratio of 10 dogs per person may be safer.

How will you care for my dog? Ask the caretaker what they do to care for your dog—and if the answer is simply feed and house them, you can do better. You want a facility that ensures your pet is getting proper physical activity and socialization, so ask them to describe a typical day from start to finish. Also, ensure they have plans in place for emergency situations.

What type of play is available and allowed? Many daycares will have both indoor and outdoor play areas available, giving your dog access to more ways to socialize and get exercise. An indoor space is also important to keep your pup safe from the elements on days that the weather isn't dog-friendly. You also want to understand what play behavior is allowed. Are you comfortable with what they allow? When and how do caretakers step in if play behavior seems to be turning into a problem?

How is feeding handled? It's best if food is kept away during play time since it can incite fights between dogs. Instead, it should be given when dogs are resting and separate from one another. Make sure the facility can handle any dietary restrictions or medical concerns your dog may have.

How can I check my dog while I'm gone? With the Whistle, you already have one great way to check in on your pup to ensure he’s getting the physical activity and rest time he needs. But many facilities will also take photos throughout the day, so find out if they'd be willing to share those with you through the Whistle app. Some facilities will also provide a webcam feed that you can check in on.

How is your track record? Search for reviews and ask for referrals. Many doggy daycares are also registered with caretaker-locating services, such as Dogvacay. This nationwide organization specializes in training would-be daycare Hosts and ensuring customers of a quality, professional experience through reviews and verifications. All of their Hosts also go through a thorough certification process before they can take on clients.


Apr 28, 2014

Tags:   pet tips   pet parenting  

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