Your dog is part of your family.
It’s important that you choose daycare for your dog in the same way you’d choose childcare. There’s a lot more for dog owners to consider than you might think.
Some factors such as cost and convenience, may well be very important when choosing dog daycare; however we’d urge owners to make more informed choices by finding out more about what is on offer rather than basing their decision on price and easy access alone.
What should I look for?
Do some research before you commit. Check out customer reviews on social media & search engines – what do other pet owners say? Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations, but always choose somewhere that feels right to you.
Make sure the day care provider is licensed with your local council. The licence number must be displayed on the businesses website. Look for the star rating, 5 star is best (note that newly licensed businesses can only achieve a 4 star rating in the first two years no matter how good they are).
Pay a visit – pop along, unannounced and have a look around. You’ll gather a lot of information this way and you can be more certain what you see is the day to day reality.
Does is look clean? Attention to cleanliness ensures the business is helping to reduce the risk of diseases and parasites that dogs can carry. Obviously, if the weather is bad, you will need to cut the establishment a bit of slack – dogs and mud are not a great combo for keeping the floor spotless!
Does it smell clean? We all know that dogs make smells, but if cleanliness is maintained, the smells will be kept to a minimum.
Are there lots of dogs running around loose in an uncontrolled fashion? Are they being supervised ? There are rules about the dog to staff ratio for licensed premises. The expected level is 1:10 dogs or 1:8 for a higher grading. SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT and not having enough trained staff for the number of dogs puts your dog at risk.
Do they know what they’re doing? Are staff trained in animal care, dog body language, dog behaviour or vet nursing? How much experience do they have? Are the staff mostly volunteers or work experience students with little knowledge of dogs? It’s ok to ask these questions – a good provider will be happy to tell you.
Are there rest areas for dogs to take a bit of time out? It’s important that dogs in daycare are allowed to rest, undisturbed when they need it, especially puppies and older dogs. Beds, sofas, chairs & raised platforms are all fine, as long as they’re comfy.
Is there lots for dogs to do? Dogs need mental challenge as well as physical activity to keep them happy. Outside space to run around is great but not essential if the dogs have lots of other ways to burn off some energy such as walks, agility equipment & brain games or training. Ask what the dogs get up to each day.
How much information does the dog daycare centre take from you? The more the business knows about your dog, the better care they can provide – for example, does your dog prefer to toilet on grass or concrete; do they fear men, umbrellas or lorries? Understanding a dogs preferences is important to help them enjoy their visits.
Finally, and in our opinion, most importantly, how do they assess your dogs suitability for day care? A proper induction into an existing group of dogs is vital. Knowing how each dog reacts in a range of scenarios, with a range of different dogs is key to keeping everyone safe.
Dogs are like people, they get on better with some people than others. If they are feeling off colour, they may behave differently & spotting subtle changes in body language for each dog is only possible when the observer knows the dog well. Remember that dog daycare doesn’t suit all dogs – a good provider will tell you if they think it’s just not right for your dog.
In our opinion a full and thorough assessment CANNOT be done in a hour or even a full day. We believe it takes at least 40 hours to know a dog well, and after 16 years providing day care, we are still surprised now and again.
We hope this helps you to make informed choices about dog daycare provision for your furry friend. Wherever you choose, we want your dog to get the best of care because for us, it’s all about them.