How to choose the best dog daycare for your pet

Household 4 min read

As a responsible dog owner, you’re doing everything you can to ensure that your fur buddy is healthy and happy. But the job of keeping your canine content can get more complicated when you’re away from home.

Luckily, doggy daycares have gone from a niche pet indulgence to a pet parent necessity, especially for those logging long hours outside of the house. Plus, doggy daycare can benefit your pooch. Dogs are very social animals, and compared to sitting home alone all day, doggy daycare can be a place where they can meet friends, get exercise, and improve their social skills.

But how much does dog daycare cost? And what are the doggy daycare options? Here are the essentials to consider when choosing the best dog daycare for your pooch.

Doggy daycare vs. dog boarding

First, understand the difference between dog boarding and dog daycare.

Dog daycare

Much like a childcare facility, doggy daycares provide a safe, enriching, and fun space to play while a pet parent is away. Most dog daycares are designed to provide a dog-sitting service that generally coincides with typical 9 to 5 business hours. They do not normally offer overnight care.

 Dog boarding

On the flip side, pet boarding kennels are intended to provide pet supervision (day and night) for a prolonged period, such as when you go on a business trip or multi-day vacation. Overnight care is the main distinction between a dog daycare and a dog boarding facility. Boarding kennels will also provide all your pet’s meals, and if needed, administer any medications, which some dog daycares may not do.

Finding the best dog daycare

Researching your options, it may seem like there are as many types of doggy daycares as there are dog breeds. Dog daycare facilities can range from small, home-based spots that only care for a handful of pets to huge warehouse-like operations with large indoor and outdoor spaces.

At the very least, you can expect a quality dog care center to have a well-maintained space filled with Fido-friendly toys. Look for a clean facility that includes some or all these features:

  • Enough staff to provide adequate supervision
  • Indoor and outdoor space for your dog to run around and exercise (or supervised visits to a nearby park).
  • Pick-up or drop-off service,
  • Amenities (like a pool, pet acupuncture or massage)
  • Veterinarian or vet technician on-call or even on-staff
  • Well-trained staff (e.g., have they taken courses in dog behavior?)
  • Procedures and policies in place to deal with problematic dogs.

Keep in mind that the more high-end amenities a doggy daycare offers, the higher the cost. The best dog daycare match will depend on various factors, like your dog’s personality or fitness level, as well as your budget.

Is doggy daycare good for dogs?

Doggy daycare can be a benefit for some dogs. They can meet canine friends, stave off boredom and get lots of exercise in the right facility. It can also give owners peace of mind knowing that their pet is being cared for while they work. That said, doggy daycare may not be the best fit for dogs who are not well socialized, aggressive or require special care due to a medical condition or past injury.

The pros and cons of taking your dog to daycare 

Here’s a rundown on the pros and cons of doggy daycare:

Pros

  • Can offset the possible effects of separation anxiety and boredom, which can lead to destructive behavior
  • Offers socialization with other dogs
  • Can provide peace of mind knowing that your dog is not home alone
  • Gives pet owners the opportunity to meet other like-minded dog lovers and provide a social community for owners as much as for canines

Cons

  • Can be costly
  • You are not present to supervise your dog’s interactions
  • Your dog may become more aggressive or get into fights with other dogs and get injured
  • The possibility that your dog could catch an illness from another dog

How to prepare your dog for daycare

Here are some things you can do to ensure your dog gets off on the right paw at daycare:

  • Be up to date on vaccinations, such as for rabies and distemper. Your doggy daycare will tell you specifically what vaccines are required, or you can consult your vet about what they recommend.
  • Have your pet’s vet records compiled and ready to go in case your dog is on any special medication or has any health issues that will need special attention.
  • You may want to invest in training lessons if your dog tends not to obey instructions.
  • Know where your dog falls on the spectrum of dog sociability (social, tolerant, selective, and aggressive), so you can inform the daycare of their temperament. If, for example, your dog tends to be aggressive or very shy and nervous around other pets, daycare may not be a good fit.

How do I know if my dog likes daycare?

Signs that your dog is enjoying daycare include an excited demeanor when you approach the facility and that he seems well-rested and relaxed when he returns home.

However, the following red flags may indicate your dog is unhappy with their care center:

  • Resistance to going to the daycare
  • Exhibit behavioral changes (like depression or hair loss)
  • Stop eating their food
  • Show signs of injuries from possible fights with other dogs

If you want to be sure that your dog is having a good time, it’s worth looking for a daycare that lets owners tap into a live stream camera display so you can actively monitor how your pet is doing throughout the day.

How much does dog daycare cost?

A dog daycare price depends on the type of daycare, the amenities and location. In general, you can expect to pay between $20 and $50 per day for doggy daycare. Some daycares may offer discounts if you sign up for several days or weeks of service. In-home daycares tend to be more affordable than commercial daycares.

Who should consider doggy daycare?

Doggy daycare can be an excellent option for pet parents who want to provide a safe and stimulating setting for their fur friend to play and exercise. But it’s not for every pet: older dogs, dogs with health or mobility challenges, under-socialized pooches and young puppies might not take well to the environment. If you’re unsure about taking your dog to doggy daycare, talking to your veterinarian is a good place to start.

 

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