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Choosing the Doggy Daycare Your Doggy Deserves

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If you hate having to leave your beloved furball home while you head off to work, a doggy daycare is a fantastic alternative. Doggy daycare is not just for those of us who work away from home – even if we work from home our pups can benefit from the extra stimulation and play a pet care centre provides.

Doggy daycare is on the rise the world over as those of us who purchased a pooch during lockdown have to make the transition to return to the office.

But how do you choose the best doggy daycare? Where do you start and what are the important questions to ask to make sure you’re making the right choice? Well, we’ve got everything you need to make sure you choose the pet day care centre your favourite furkid deserves.

And if you’re looking for a longer term pet care solution, because you’re going on holiday or a business trip perhaps, read our info on deciding between kennels vs pet sitters.

doggy daycare

Why doggy daycare?

Like us, dogs require stimulation, play and companionship to be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, many owners will leave their dog in a small apartment or chained in a yard for hours on end while they’re away. (And then come home surprised that their pup has torn up their slippers or the lawn in sheer boredom and frustration!)

Responsible pet ownership is about recognising your dog’s needs and seeing them as the sentient beings they are. A doggy daycare is a wonderful place for them to be socialised and stimulated while you’re away. To make it more cost effective, consider alternating taking them a couple of times a week instead of every day.

If you have no choice, though, read our tips to leaving your dog alone at home in a manner that keeps them happy.

doggy daycare

Before you pick your doggy daycare

It’s worthwhile doing a little research before you take the leap – your dog deserves it. For example:

  • A good starting point is to ask for references or recommendations from friends, neighbours or community groups on social media.
  • Your vet may also know of tried and tested doggy daycares in your area too.
  • Checking out info available online about various doggy daycares is a good way to get a feel for their differences and suitability. We recommend checking comments, reviews and ratings, as these will usually give you a good idea of what to expect.
  • Having an idea about what you want for your pet will help you find the right doggy daycare. Is it about creating a safe, caring, nurturing environment for your pet, or is it about stimulating and training them?

Some doggy daycares may want to do a temperament test to see if your pooch is suited. Not all dogs are! As this article puts it: “Every dog is a good dog, but not every dog has the right temperament for daycare.” Dogs who have issues with anxiety or struggle with interactions with other dogs will not do well in daycare.

Hopefully they’ll check your dog is up to date with pet vaccinations too. If they don’t you know that’s not a focus for them, but it should be for the health of all parties.

Taking a tour

After bringing your list of potentials down to two or three, organise a tour of each doggy daycare. That way you can make sure the premises are safe, secure, and hygienic. 

Be alert to whether any dogs are being tied up or caged, or experiencing ill treatment in another way. See if the other dogs look happy and ensure there’s room to play. Check if there’s shade and shelter from the sun or rain. Be sure water bowls are readily accessible too.

puppy plays after having a hereditary and congenital conditions health screening for dogs doggy daycare

Questions to ask

Because you might not think of everything in the moment, here are some key questions to ask the doggy daycare to get a better understanding of what they’re about:

Risk management

  • What training does the staff have?
  • What’s the staff to dog ratio? Ideally there should be no more than 15 dogs per caretaker, but this can vary depending on the activity levels of the dogs. If they’re more active it may warrant less dogs per supervisor and vice versa.
  • How are emergency situations handled (e.g. dog bites dog situations or other medical incidents)?
  • Do they have a policy with dog toys? Some dogs can become aggressive when another dog wants “their” toy. Check if the daycare has a way of resolving this.
  • Are the dogs separated by size and age? Or maybe separated based on their temperament and play style? This can play a big part in dog safety and reduce the likelihood of fights between dogs.
  • What’s the security of the pet care centre like? Unfortunately, dogs getting stolen from doggy daycares isn’t an uncommon occurrence. Read about that here and then read our article on the rise of stolen dogs in NZ.

Health

  • What is the daily exercise regime like? Depending on the breed of your dog, they may have extra energy they need to let out. You can find out exercise requirements per breed here.
  • What’s the feeding schedule like? What food is provided and how will they ensure your pooch gets the amount they need?
  • As mentioned above, what vaccinations are required of the doggy clients?
  • Does the daycare have footage you can view on request? Some have video cameras and you can ask for footage or log in to see your pup play while you’re at work and to make sure they’re happy and healthy.

General

  • What are the opening hours on what days?
  • What happens if you’re late for pick up – is there a cost involved?
  • Is the centre open over the holidays?
  • What happens when staff get sick and there’s not enough to cover the number of dogs?
  • Do they follow a schedule or is it free play? While there’s nothing wrong with free play, it’s good to know if there’s some sort of supervised “rest” period. This is to ensure none of the dogs overheat or dehydrate. Depending on what you’re looking for, it will help to know how they structure their days at the doggy daycare.
  • What’s the cost per day versus if you commit to X number of days over a certain period? You may be able to make a small saving with the latter.
doggy daycare

Making your choice

If the daycare has ticked all the boxes above, you’re probably onto something good. Ultimately, it’s also about going with your gut. Did you get a positive feeling while you were there – did the staff seem warm and loving towards the animals and concerned with their welfare?

Your pet will also give you a good indication of whether you’ve made the right choice. You want your pet to be excited and happy when they’re taken to daycare and picked up again.

Once you’re sure on your choice all that’s left to do is drop your lucky pup off each morning to have a ball… No wonder they call it a dog’s life!

Insurance for your beloved pooch

Now that you’re ready to find the perfect doggy daycare, take the next step in being the best pet parent – getting a dog insurance plan.

Pet insurance for your pup will give you the peace of mind of knowing you can cover unexpected vet bills in the event of accident, illness or other health emergency. We also include third party liability damage cover, for damage your dog does to other peoples’ property and pets (if there’s no history of aggression).

Did you know you’ll receive one or more months of free pet insurance with PD Insurance? Why not get a quick quote now…

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