Do you want to make sure you choose the right dog daycare for your dog but don’t know how? Convenience and cost aside, check out these six tips to make sure you select the best facility for your beloved friend.
• Ask for a tour. Notice how clean the facility is, what it smells like, and how loud the barking is. Look to see if they have outdoor space and if so, whether they use artificial turf. Many dogs don’t like the feel of it, plus it gets very hot during the summer.
• Ask how many dogs are there on any given day. More doesn’t mean better, in fact it often means your dog is placed in a large group of dogs with minimal supervision and personal attention. Ask what the ratio of dogs to staff is. If it’s more than five dogs to one staff member, you can be sure your dog is not getting the quality attention you’re paying for.
• Ask about their evaluation process for selecting the right play group for your dog. Ask how many dogs are in any given play group. Research shows that it’s best for your dog to be in a play group of no more than five dogs. The best play group size is two to three dogs. Physical size of the dogs in the play group isn’t often as much of a concern as is age and play style.
• Ask about staff training. What training do they get? Do they employ certified dog trainers? If so, what are their beliefs with respect to forcing your dog to behave? How do they manage escalating behavior to prevent dog fights? What happens if a dog fight breaks out (this is where staff to dog ratio is really important!)?
• Ask about their vaccine requirements. Stay away from any facility that doesn’t require vaccines or titers for certain vaccines (like DHPP). Facilities should also require Bordetella and a fecal exam every six months instead of yearly.
• Ask about exercise and outdoor time. Many dog daycare facilities just let your dog hang out with a bunch of other dogs in a glorified pen, so they don’t get to run and play in real grass, dig in dirt, roughhouse with a best friend, and just be dogs.
The wrong daycare will result in your dog spending a stress-filled day, coming home tired not from playing all day, but from being placed in a situation he or she hates. If you don’t get the answers you’re looking for when asking the above questions, go elsewhere. Your best friend deserves it.
Sherri Cappabianca, an expert in the field of canine health and fitness, is the author of two books on canine health, and the co-owner of Rocky’s Retreat Canine Health & Fitness Center, and Barking Dog Fitness, a Gym for Dogs, both located in Orlando. For more information, visit rockysretreat.com or barkingdogfitness.com