With the shortage of available spots at doggy daycares, it can be tempting to sign up for any place that has availability. However, it’s necessary to carefully consider your pet’s safety and level of care at their new daycare. Here are some questions to ask before choosing a daycare facility for your dog.
When Can I Take a Tour of the Facility?
Request a tour before you register and drop off your dog. When you walk through the facility, make sure it is clean and sanitary. If there is a foul smell or it appears untidy, the facility may be short-staffed or have low standards of care. Check that kennels and cages are kept clean and spacious enough for your pet’s comfort.
If you can, take time to speak with several members of the facility’s staff. If they seem like fellow animal lovers and like where they work, that is a good sign. Trust your gut!
What Is the Screening Procedure for New Dogs?
It is incredibly important that your pup is not exposed to unsafe dogs while they visit your chosen doggy daycare facility. One of the best ways to make sure your dog will be safe is to ask about the facility’s screening process. The best doggy daycares ensure that all dogs in their care have up-to-date vaccination records and are not visiting while sick with a contagious illness.
Many will also do a temperament and behavior assessment before taking a dog into their care. Poorly behaved and aggressive dogs may pose a threat to your pooch, especially if the facility has socialization sessions and group activities built into their daily schedule. Check with the staff to make sure all playtime sessions are supervised.
What Safety Features Are in Place?
Your dog’s safety at daycare should always be a primary concern. Make sure any outdoor spaces are properly fenced in. During your tour, check for gaps or holes in the fences and make sure they are high enough that your dog will not be able to escape. Safe gating is also just as important as proper fencing.
A proper ventilation system is also a must! Fresh air will help reduce the exposure your dog has to airborne germs. As the name implies, kennel cough can run rampant in doggy daycare and boarding facilities, especially when proper air filtration and ventilation systems are not in place.
What Is the Staff to Dog Ratio?
No matter how skilled and passionate the staff is, one person can only look after so many dogs. We recommend a staff-to-dog ratio of no more than 1:10, which means one well-trained staff member should not be responsible for more than ten dogs at any given time.
What Kind of Training Do Staff Members Have?
Your tour is also an excellent time to ask about staff training. Do they know how to deal with emergencies, like a choking dog? The best facilities are rigorous about their staff’s training, including pet first aid, CPR, and how to handle canine altercations.
You can also ask if the daycare facility has a partnership with a nearby vet clinic. The best daycares will be within a reasonable distance of vet clinics and have a good relationship with those vets.
What Is the Feeding Process and the Daily Exercise Routine?
Do they feed on a set schedule, and what kind of food do dogs receive? The best facilities follow a proper feeding schedule and ask owners about any dietary restrictions their dogs may have.
The best facilities will even ask owners if they would prefer that their dog eat food provided by the owner. They understand some dogs are on calorie-restricted diets and allergy-preventative foods.
You also want to ensure that your dog will not be kenneled all day. Playtime and walks are vital for mental and physical stimulation. Dogs kept in kennels all day can suffer from anxiety and depression. Again, make sure that any socialization or group playtime sessions are supervised! Also, check if the facility groups dogs appropriately for playtime, as in small dogs with small dogs, older dogs with older dogs, etc.
Remember, a reputable doggy daycare should be more than happy to answer all your questions. They will also allow you to tour their facility. Be honest when expressing your concerns, and always trust your gut. If you have a bad feeling or the owner or staff seems untrustworthy, look elsewhere!
Ask local pet parents in your neighborhood or dog park for recommendations. You can also look for online reviews from current or previous clients for first-hand testimony.
If you have questions about choosing the right place, we encourage you to set up a free Hello Ralphie account. Our online veterinarians are happy to discuss safety and any concerns you may have while researching different daycare options.