Choosing a Doggy Daycare

When you YELP “doggy daycare” or “dog boarding”, there’s a plethora of places, reviews, up’s and down’s and hoops and this and that and AHH!!! WHICH ONE DO WE CHOOSE?!!?

Most people go by price, which is okay as long as the facility is awesome.

I recently had the chance to be a dog trainer for 6 of the largest companies for dog boarding/doggy daycare. I won’t name them, but the liability issues I saw were INTENSE!

I have since compiled a checklist of observations and questions, ALL pet parents should ask!

Here we go :)

  1. Temperament testing!
    Super important! It should be at least 3-5 hours of testing. A shy dog doesn’t always mean a bad dog, but watch for SEVERE stress levels.

  2. What’s the emergency escape plan?
    A couple of leashes and 1 person for 60 dogs is NOT an okay plan! 

  3. Are the doggy play areas double doored?
    Like dog parks, there should be a door to let your dog into a tiny area, then another door to let your dog into the play area.

  4. Is the hallway for the boarding kennels wide enough?
    Your dog might be neighbors with a dog-aggressive shepherd a few kennels down. There WILL BE “FENCE FIGHTING”! It’s a guarantee only because everyone boarding will be stressed out and scared. Make sure the corridors and hallways are wide enough so the aggressive dogs can’t reach under and snatch a paw!

  5. Who’s the on-call vet?
    I think this question explains itself ;)

When taking a tour (they BETTER give you a tour!), don’t let the associate simply lead you on a quick 2 second run. 

Your baby is going to be staying here, REALLY pause and make these observations:

  1. How are the dogs being treated?
    Alpha-dominant daycare associates are ROUGH! They will roll your dog, scream at them, smack their snout, all away from the daycare webcam of course…
  2. Are there more than 15 dogs per daycare sitter?
    Count it out! If there are more dogs, there should be at least 2 people in the area to help with fighting.

  3. Are the daycare sitters idly standing around or engaging the dogs in play?

    A bored dog will waste a day of daycare, or might be so energetic that it annoys other dogs…causing fights.

  4. Are there toys? Treats?

  5. Are the water bowls all full?
    Hydration is key to health.

  6. What preventative tools do they have on hand for dog fights?
    If the tools are very wide in range, it makes one wonder “Geez how many fight do you guys have per day??!”

  7. How’s the temperature?
    If your dog is a double coated breed (or brachycephalic!), make sure the temperature in the daycare facility is cool enough!

  8. How many dogs are scared, sleeping, shaking, stressed out of their minds?
    A stressed dog, or a fearful dog, is more likely to increase the chances of a dog fight.

The very last thing you should do when you take the tour is WALK your dog on the tour. 

Let your dog smell, see how the other dogs react, and always judge by their stress levels.

Daycare doesn’t have to be scary, but some places mask it so well because we trust these BIG company names.

Be smart pet parents and investigate!