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How to Choose a Dog Daycare

Dogs are extremely social creatures and need both mental and physical exercise to be a well balanced pet. The time spent at dog daycare provides the stimulation needed to achieve both of these goals. The social interaction which comes from running and playing with other dogs in the monitored and safe environment of daycare is invaluable to the dogs of today who may otherwise spend their days alone at home while their owners are at work.

According to Dr. Steve Smith, DVM, “Sending dogs to an interactive day care allows canines a natural opportunity to socialize and bond with others of their species. Not only is this an effective way to prevent separation anxiety, the natural stimulation and competition among peers promotes optimal physical and behavioral development.” He continues that, “As a practicing veterinarian, I can assure you that working with a well socialized canine is an absolute joy. On the contrary, the anxious, non-socialized and fearful canine can be extremely difficult to care for, and often is befit with less than optimal health.”

Most of us trust organizations we are referred to by people we trust. Asking your veterinarian or other like-minded pet owners is an invaluable tool for locating dog day care establishments to evaluate. Whether you choose Pete and Mac’s or another Dog Day Care Facility these tips will help you select a quality establishment

  • Visit them, unannounced, and ask for a tour. If they don’t allow tours, there is probably a reason. Peeking through a window at a representative room is not the same as seeing where your pet will actually eat, sleep and play. You can get that picture online.
  • No one needs to tell you that first impressions are critical, if your first impression is of rude, untrained, uninformed staff; or a dark, dismal lobby your opinion of that facility is not likely to improve. Is drop off and pick up easy with hours convenient for you?
  • Does the facility exclude guests by breed? This is an indication of the level of staff training, or rather the lack of adequate training. Facilities may, and should, exclude specific animals that are inappropriate in a group environment, but breed exclusion is a red flag.
  • While in the facility ask yourself; what do I smell? The smell of wet dog, maybe from water play during exercise, is decidedly different from the smell of a dirty, unkempt kennel.
  • What do I see? Comfortable rooms and play/exercise areas that are clean, or being cleaned? Or something less palatable?
  • Is the facility safe? Is there an adequate number of staff available in the play area to care for the pets playing together? Are pets segregated by size? Are indoor play areas heated and air conditioned? Are weather conditions moderated in outdoor play areas: is the play area shaded? Is there misting or cooling? Is there heat? Where does my dog go if he or she becomes over tired or over excited? Is there a visual monitoring system, like closed circuit TV? Are the staff assigned to monitor daycare in the play area with the dogs at all times?
  • Is the staff giving you concrete information about how they care for pets, are they answering your questions, or are you just hearing “we just love dogs.” To tailor pet care to your unique pet, they need to know about your pet. How large or small is your pet? Can they comfortably accommodate your furry kid? Does he or she enjoy interacting with other dogs? Health issues? Special food or medication requirements? Who is your vet? Is your pet up to date on his or her vaccinations? Not all of these questions can or should be addressed on a tour, but you should expect to answer them if making a reservation for day care.

Remember, after a few visits, your dog will tell you if you’ve made the right selection – just be sure to listen.

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