Choosing the Best Daycare for Your Dog

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Dogs playing at dog park
Dogs Playing At Dog Park

Many pet owners work all day and need to leave their dogs at home alone. It's not unusual for these owners to return home to find hyperactive or stressed-out dogs. Dogs often get bored and even depressed when they are home alone all day. Those with separation anxiety may cause destruction, harm themselves, and bother neighbors with barking and howling.

One of the most common reasons given at an animal shelter for owner turn-ins is the dog's destructive behavior (doing things like chewing the owner's belongings). This can often be prevented by giving your dog the exercise and mental stimulation he needs to be happy and healthy. However, when you are busy working long hours, it's hard to give your dog the time he needs. That's where doggie daycare can be a real lifesaver.

What is Doggie Daycare?

Doggie daycare works a lot like daycare for children. You drop your dog off in the morning on the way to work. While you are gone, your dog will get plenty of attention. Your dog's day will be filled with activities based on the curriculum set out by the daycare facility on your dog's specific needs and temperament.

Your dog may enjoy his day by playing with other dogs, playing with people, or snuggling up on a nice bed or couch getting loving attention. Your dog will also have the chance to spend time indoors and outdoors, including the opportunity to have potty breaks. This is so much better than waiting all day as some dogs do.

short-coated brown and white dog
short-coated brown and white dog

Cost of Doggie Daycare

The cost of doggie daycare can vary between about $15 to $40 per day. The cost typically depends on the region where you live and the type of facility you go to. You may pay less for a daycare operated out of a private home rather than a fully-staffed facility. However, when you pay more for a facility, your dog may have access to more dogs, toys, and play equipment.

In-Home Doggie Daycare

In-home/private daycare is often less expensive than commercial daycare. These are usually run by one or two people and are restricted to a low number of dogs being cared for at any given time. This may be a good option if your dog is easily overwhelmed by other dogs. In-home daycare offers your dog a home environment and typically more human-to-dog contact. However, they may have less space for dogs to run and play.

Commercial Dog Daycares

A fully-staffed commercial facility offers a lot for social dogs. The number of dogs on a day at these places may be from ten to twenty dogs, all ready to make friends. Some doggie daycare facilities have agility equipment and even pools.

At a commercial facility, trained staff keep the dogs busy in indoor and/or outdoor play areas, supervising all dogs to make sure the play stays safe. Staff members are typically trained to prevent dog-dog aggression and break up dog fights (yes, they do happen sometimes). Dogs are given breaks to cool down, rest and possibly nibble on healthy snacks.

close photo of dog wearing shirt
close photo of dog wearing shirt
long-coated adult white and black dog
long-coated adult white and black dog
man wearing brown and white plaid dress shirt running on seashore
man wearing brown and white plaid dress shirt running on seashore

In both private and commercial daycare facilities, all dogs must be healthy in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and parasites. Dog owners are required to present proof of current vaccinations for their dogs. You will also need to provide current contact information for you and your veterinarian in case of an emergency.

The Best Choice For Your Dog

The right daycare facility choice all depends on you and your dog. Where do you feel more comfortable leaving him? Where do you feel your dog will be most comfortable and happy? Talk to the people who own and operate the daycare to learn what to expect. Take a tour of the facility to see what your dog will be able to do there. In the end, go with your instincts. If anything seems out of line, move on.

Find a Doggie Daycare In Your Area

Most private doggie daycare providers can be found by searching online. Word of mouth is a great way to find somebody that everybody else recommends. It can be especially helpful to read online reviews. In addition, ask for recommendations from your veterinarian, local pet supply shop, and friends/family members with dogs of their own.

Once you think you found the right place, let your dog spend a few hours there. Most facilities require a trial day to make sure your dog is a good fit for the daycare. You'll know by the time you pick your dog up if you made the right decision. They will let you know what your dog did that day and whether or not your dog got along with the other dogs. Then you'll have a look at your dog: happy but exhausted is the goal!