Unfortunately, your perfect pet isn’t allowed everywhere you go. From out-of-town excursions to long work hours, your dog can find comfort and excitement in a place they want to go.

If your best pal is well-socialized, enjoys other dogs, and will benefit from frequent exercise, playtime, and lots of stimulation, a doggy daycare environment is a great option. The real question: How to choose the right one?

Tips for Choosing Doggy Daycare

Proximity

When coming home from a vacation, the last thing you want to do is drive across town or spend a long time in the car just to go get your dog. Find reputable doggy daycares near you so your animal pal is close to home.  If your pup needs doggy daycare during the workday, you can look for locations anywhere near your route to work.

Related blog: Did you know more offices are becoming pet friendly?

Tour the Facility

According to the Professional Animal Care Certification Council, here is what you should look for when touring a doggy daycare:

  • Is it clean and organized?
  • Does it have secure fencing?
  • Is the area free of hazards such as electrical cords, wires or broken toys?
  • Does it have minimal odors and a comfortable temperature?

Other important factors to consider during the tour:

  • Flooring: Rubber and padded floors are a bonus to help with joints and senior dogs.
  • Outdoor space: if there’s pea gravel where dogs relieve themselves, they may be more prone to sore paws due to walking/running on pebbles. Ideally, doggy daycares have a large, grassy area for the pets.
  • Cameras: Many doggy daycares allow pet owners to view their dogs playing, sleeping and other activities. It’s not a requirement for doggy daycares, but it does ease some people to keep an eye on their pooch.
  • Updates and report cards: If you prefer reassurance that your dog isn’t having a ruff day, ask if they provide updates or end-of-day report cards to see how your dog is doing (or behaving!)

Dog Groupings

The ideal atmosphere at any doggy daycare is to “play with someone your own size”. No offense taken—it makes play time enjoyable and engaging without being too rough. Dogs should always be grouped together by size; otherwise overly aggressive behavior may occur (which may result in your pooch not having a paws-itive experience).

It’s also important to know the staff-to-dog ratio at the doggy daycare. For instance, Fetch by WebMD recommends one staff member per 15 dogs. If there’s not an appropriate number of caretakers, additional chaos could be unleashed.

Discipline

Everyone scolds their dog in different ways. When your dog, or another pooch, becomes naughty, how do they handle poor behavior? It’s best to understand how those situations will play out upfront versus learning after the fact. Before taking your dog to daycare, make sure they thoroughly understand these six basic dog commands.

Emergency Planning

What happens if your dog gets injured or has a medical emergency while at doggy daycare? What steps does the staff take and what do they do if they can’t reach you? These are crucial questions that should be answered. Also, if you live in a state that experiences bad weather such as tornadoes, ask how they would handle a weather emergency.

Other Services

Many doggy daycares offer additional services such as overnight pet boarding, training, retail items like dog food and treats and dog grooming. These extra benefits allow your pup to be squeaky clean after a rambunctious stay. They can also treat themselves to Vital Essential products at particular daycare locations.

Ask Dog Friends

Use the good ol’ fashioned bark-of-mouth method: Ask your friends and family where they take their beloved furry friend for daycare and boarding.