Recently I’ve been asked by I few local people to recommend a doggie daycare. I don’t take Rocco to a daycare as we are lucky to have someone look after him while we’re at work, so I can’t really give an honest recommendation. Instead, however, I decided to compile a list of things to consider when choosing a daycare for your dog.
First off, I suggest to start with an internet search:
– Location: Are they close to home/work or are they along my commute route? Is there sufficient parking? Is it on a busy route or on one notorious for traffic jams?
– Hours of operation: Do their hours work for my schedule? What if I have to stay over-time? Are they open on weekends?
– Fee schedule: do they allow half-days or hourly drop-ins? What is the charge if you show up after their closing time?
– Other services: what other services do they offer? Since your pooch is already there she might as well enjoy a hike, groom or massage. Do they offer boarding? Do they sell pet supplies?
– What is the general feel of the website: what kind of message are they trying to get across, how are they trying to differentiate themselves from other daycares? Do they have a mission statement, what other business are they affiliated with?
– Do they make an effort to stay connected with their clients: do they have a blog, Facebook page or Twitter? do they take pictures of the dogs? do they have a web cam?
– What do other people say about them: Word of mouth is a huge resource, so ask around! Do you know anyone using their services? Are they listed on any review sites? Are they accredited by the Better Business Bureau Have they been featured in any news articles, blogs etc?
After your preliminary online search, go on to making phone calls and asking questions”
– Full disclosure: First of all make sure to disclose any pertinent information that may possibly disqualify your dog from attending daycare.
– Emergencies: Are they First Aid certified and prepared to deal with specific emergencies that may arise from your dog’s health condition? Ask a few what if questions. What are their emergency procedures in case of fire or (in the case of West Coast) Earthquake?
– Diet: Will they allow you to bring your dog’s lunch or dinner? Will the strictly follow any dietary restrictions? Can you bring your own treats for them to use?
– Medications: Are the able and willing to give your dog medication? Is there a charge for that service?
– Walks: Do they take the dogs for pee breaks or is there a fenced outdoor area available to them? If they take dogs for walks, how many per handler? Do they enforce proper leash behaviour? Do they use the collar/harness your dog comes in wearing or do they switch it for a different one (no-pull harness, gentle leader)?
– Vaccines: What is their vaccination policy? Do they accept titer tests in lieu of vaccines?
After you are satisfied with all the answers, go and check out the actual facilities:
– Is the building and outdoor area clean and well maintained?
– Are you allowed to go inside for a tour?
– What is the feel when you walk in? Does it make you feel at easy and comfortable? What is your initial gut feeling? Do you want your dog to be spending most of the day there?
– Are the staff relaxed and helpful or do they seem rushed and stressed out?
– What is the set-up for the dogs? Are they separated by size? Are the inclusive of all breeds? What type of flooring do they have? Are there beds and crates for your dog to rest and relax in? Do they have a play area with some fun equipment for the dogs?
– What does a regular day at the facility look like? What is their routine like? What kind of enrichment programs do they provide for the dogs?
Hopefully answering all these questions will help you make a well informed decision and allow you to feel at easy knowing that your dog is not only having fun but also being properly taken care of while you are at work.