Our dogs aren’t just pets—they’re part of the family. As their guardians, we have a responsibility to make sure they’re happy, healthy, and thriving in their environment, even when they can’t be by our sides. For that reason, choosing the best doggy daycare is extremely important, especially if it’s going to be a big part of your dog’s day-to-day life.
But where do you start? How do you make sure you choose the daycare that’s best for your dog? Keep reading for our top tips.
8 Tips for Finding the Right Daycare for Your Dog
We’ll start with something easy—you can do it right from your phone or computer.
Do a search for doggy daycares in your area and take a preliminary look at their website or business pages. If you like what you see and nothing jumps out at you as a red flag, add them to your list of doggy daycares worth learning more about. You can also ask friends and family for recommendations.
1. Tour the Facilities in Person
Give the daycare a call or shoot them an email to schedule a tour of their facilities. It will give you a chance to scope it out and get a feel for what your dog’s day would be like. It’ll also give you the opportunity to ask more detailed questions.
While you’re there, keep an eye out for:
- Good ventilation: Lots of windows and doors or a fresh-air exchange system.
- Solid fencing: Something strong and tall enough to keep dogs contained.
- Proper gating: A staging area for dogs to acclimate in before entering the play area.
- Safe floor surfaces
2. Ask if Dogs Are Grouped Appropriately
Are they separated by size and age? Or are they separated based on their temperament and play style? Or both? Safety is important, and if the dogs aren’t separated into groups at all, it might be a sign to continue your search elsewhere.
3. Ask About the Staff-to-Dog Ratio
The International Boarding and Pet Care Services Association recommends a ratio of 15 dogs per 1 human as a safe standard. However, they also make allowances depending on the activity level of the group of dogs in question. More active dogs might require more supervisors, while less active dogs might require fewer.
4. Ask if They Follow a Schedule
When your dog attends daycare, will the staff follow a schedule designed to allow your pup to adjust to a new routine? Is there structure to playtime, or is it an all-day free for all?
Most daycares make sure to insert supervised periods of rest between playtimes to make sure no one’s getting too tired or dehydrated.
5. Learn the Toy Policy
Even the most well-rounded dogs can be susceptible to resource guarding and show aggression when a playmate gets near a toy that dog thinks is theirs. If you know your dog is prone to this common behavior, make sure to alert the staff so they can keep an eye out and prepare to safely handle the situation.
6. Ask About a Trial or Temperament Test
Not all dogs are cut out for doggy daycare, and that’s okay! The daycare you’ve selected should require a trial run to make sure your dog will adjust okay, or a temperament test to make sure they’re suited to the routine and being around other dogs. These extra steps are a sign that they have high standards for their four-legged guests’ health and wellbeing.
7. Ask About the Staff’s Training
The staff at your selected doggy daycare should have experience working with or training dogs, and the daycare should require or provide extra training on how to handle dogs safely in a group environment. While most doggy daycares take extra steps to ensure they’re providing and enforcing a safe environment, they should be prepared to handle scuffles if they break out.
8. Make Sure They Have a Plan for Emergency Medical Care
Not only should the staff be trained in how to safely and correctly administer first aid in the event of an injury, but they should also have a plan in place for what to do and where to go if a dog in their care requires a vet or emergency medical care.
Keep in mind that a doggy daycare having an emergency plan in place doesn’t mean they anticipate frequent injuries or accidents—they’re just prepared in case one occurs, which is extremely important.
Choose Lucky Dog
Now that you’ve analyzed the doggy daycares available in your area, choose the one that makes you feel the most confident about leaving your pup in their care, and then pay attention to whether your dog is having a good time! If he’s tired and relaxed when he comes home, he’s probably in good hands.