Jan 8 2010

Picking the Right Doggy Daycare

Molly at rest after shredding an entire box of kleenex.

Molly at rest after shredding an entire box of tissue.

With all of this bad weather our area, it’s hard to get the dog’s out for a walk.  Especially when the sidewalks are covered with a foot of snow!  My two dogs are small, but still need exercise and a lot of play time.  Cabin fever has hit our house!  The usual toys are not working and Molly, the puppy, has taken to finding her own unique kind of entertainment.  Whether its chasing cats, shredding toilet paper off the roll, or chewing on my husbands $500 Bi-pap sleeping mask, it’s time to look into some doggy day care where she can play with other dogs her own size and get rid of some of this puppy energy!

It can be overwhelming to find a daycare that fits your dog’s needs and personality.  With more and more businesses popping up all over town, I thought it might be useful to compile some tips for others who find themselves in the same boat.

1.  Ask friends, family and co-workers where they take their dogs.  This is a good place to start.  If they are as serious about their pets as you are, they have done some of the leg work as well.

2. Think about location.  Do you prefer something close to home, or close to work?   

3. Visit the facility for a tour.  Does it smell?  Is there appropriate room for the dogs to play? 

4. What is the staff ratio per dog?  It should be the same as a child’s daycare facility.  Also, is staff trained in canine first aid and CPR?  Are they trained in understanding body language and behavior to assess your dogs (and others) personality?

5.  What is their protocol for medical emergencies?  Do they work with a nearby vet to treat accidents and illness?  If so, call the vet to see how often they are responding to this facility.  While accidents do happen, you want to make sure its not at a high frequency. 

6.  Do they have windows or webcams so you can check in on your dog and staff?  What is their procedure for ensuring your dog is not stolen or can escape?

7.  Ask about the playgroup style.  My two dogs are small, so I would want them in a small dog playgroup.  Also ask how the playgroup is monitored.  It only takes one dog to ruin the fun for everyone.  Are staff members constantly present during playgroup in case fights break out?

8.  What other services do they offer? Do they have a large yard for outside playgroups- or is it an indoor only facility?  Do they offer a pool, grooming or spa services?  These extra services can be convenient if you need to have your dog groomed as well. 

9.  Ask about cancellation policies and fees.  If something comes up at the last minute, are you still responsible for the fee?  Daycares should also require current vaccination records for your pet’s safety as well as others. 

10. Finally, listen to your gut/heart.  Do  you feel comfortable, over all, leaving your pet?  Your own instincts may be the most important factor.

Once you have taken your dog you will most likely be able to gauge whether she likes it or not.  If she is excited and bounding in the door, it’s a good bet that you have found the place.  If she is cowering, whining and scared, you might need to monitor her visit to see how she is reacting to this new experience.

Written by Trish Stinger
Web Marketing Manager at Wayside Waifs


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