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If you’re a dog owner who works long hours or has an unpredictable schedule, leaving your dog home alone for long stretches can be challenging for both you and your dog.

While some owners opt for hiring a dog walker, others will find that a dog daycare is the best choice for their dog. If your dog is well-socialized, enjoys the company of other dogs, and will benefit from frequent exercise, playtime, and lots of stimulation, a daycare environment may be a good option.

Is Doggy Daycare Right for Your Dog?

Every dog’s needs are different and you’re in the best position to decide if this environment is right for your dog. Some of the benefits of doggy daycare include:

  • A chance to meet and play with other dogs
  • Mental stimulation
  • A routine that relieves separation anxiety and boredom
  • Exercise — a tired out dog will be relaxed and exhausted by the time they come home
  • Lots of TLC
  • Avoids the issue of having strangers in your home

Choosing the Right Daycare Facility For Your Dog

Once you’ve narrowed down the options in your area, it’s important to visit facilities without your dog and simply observe. Examine the facility and watch how the staff interacts with the dogs in their care. According to the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC), here are some things to look for:

  • Is it clean and organized?
  • Does it have secure fencing?
  • Is the area free of hazards, like electrical cords, wires, or broken toys?
  • Does it have minimal odors and a comfortable temperature?
  • Is there enough for staff to ensure safety?

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Doggy Daycare

So far, so good? Then it’s time to ask some important questions. And don’t be shy — this is your dog’s care you’re deciding on. Any reputable daycare center will be happy to answer your questions.

Will They Do a Temperament Test?

The daycare facility should do an assessment of your dog’s behavior and personality before accepting them. Some facilities do a comprehensive behavioral assessment, not only to decide if a dog is right for their environment but also to customize care.

A female staff member at a kennel supervises several large dogs playing together.
©Jayme Burrows -

What Kind of Training Does the Staff Have?

At a bare minimum, the staff should be trained in basic care and safety procedures. However, ideally, you’re looking for staff trained in animal behavior, including canine body language, and warning signs of danger, stress, or illness.

Does the Facility Have Procedures in Place for Emergencies?

There should be staff members trained in canine first aid. Ask how they’ll communicate with you in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster.

What Communication Will You Recieve From Staff?

Some facilities provide daily or weekly reports on your dog’s behavior, while others will give owners access to a livestream, so they can see what their dog is up to during the day. It’s important to ensure that any potential doggy daycare has plans in place to notify you promptly if they see a change in your dog’s behavior or well-being.

©Grigorita Ko -

What Activities Do They Offer?

There will likely be dogs of many different energy levels and personalities at any doggy daycare. Whether it’s providing toys or structured play time, it’s important that staff plan a variety of activities to appeal to different types of dogs. Daycare facilities should also provide a comfortable, designated rest area for dogs in their care. Also, ask if your dog will be crated at any point, and for how long?

Does Your Dog Like Doggy Daycare?

Once your dog has settled into the routine, you’ll be able to tell whether they’re enjoying daycare. The best sign is a dog that comes home tired, but happy. Are they relaxed or stressed at the end of the day? Do they seem eager to head out each morning or do you have to drag them through the door?

You know your dog best and are most qualified to assess their health and happiness. And, when it all works out well, you can go off to work guilt-free, knowing that each day is like a vacation for your dog.

Related article: What To Know and Look For When Boarding Your Dog
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