Since the pandemic is in lull-mode, many of us are away from home and back at the office for long hours. And this means, our stalwart companions who stood by our side during the past tumultuous years are now relegated to spending long days – at home – alone. Sure, dog walkers are great to fill in for a midday stroll, but have you ever thought of giving your dog a daily dose of fun, and frivolity at a doggy daycare?
First, here are some interesting facts and figures about the doggy daycare business.
- New York state was the home of the first doggy daycare, which was opened in 1986
- Today, at least 19 million dogs attend doggy daycare monthly.
- A major growth industry, this segment of the pet care services industry accounts for $4.5 billion in yearly revenue. Compare this to a total of $6 billion spent on all dog services each year.
- The cost of doggy daycare ranges from $29 to $46 per day.
- More than 4,000 doggy daycare business exist in the U.S. today.
- Overall and in all segments, the amount of money spent on all pet care services doubled in the last decade.
What do these figures mean? They mean that the pet industry is big business, and like all things you purchase today, when it comes to daycare services for your dog, it’s an absolute must to do thorough homework to be sure he’ll spend his days in a safe and engaging place.
Why Doggy Daycare?
So, assuming you are you thinking of daycare for your dog, here are some of the reasons why this might be a great choice.
- Socialization: It’s important for dogs to have the chance to romp and play with other dogs and new people to help them become well-rounded, confident pets.
- Mental stimulation: A dog whose mind is busy is a happy dog.
- Activity: Just as with us humans, activity is a sure-fire antidote for anxiety and boredom.
- Exercise: Also, just like us humans, exercise keeps dogs healthy.
- Affection and attention: If you have indeed chosen the right daycare for your pet, he will get plenty of affection and attention during his stay there.
Where to Start?
Word of mouth is the most valuable way of finding doggy daycares to explore further, but without that, take a look at potential candidates’ website or Facebook page. See if you can find the owner or key staff members on LinkedIn. Perform a basic Google search and compare it with the facilities in your area.
How to Choose the Right Daycare for Your Dog?
With the explosive growth of pet care services, especially doggy daycares, there are the great ones and the not-so-great ones. Of course, you want the best for your dog. Here’s what to do and look for.
Take a Tour
Scoping is the name of this game. Arrange an appointment to tour the facility. You should be greeted by a friendly, positive staff member who will take you around and show you everything. While you are on your tour, look for the following:
- Cleanliness: Does everything look and smell clean?
- Safe: Are there any cords or electric devices or outlets that could pose danger for the dogs?
- Air and ventilation: Are there plenty of windows and a clean-air ventilation system?
- Staging area: Is the entrance/exit set up so that only one dog can enter and exit at a time?
- Floor surfaces: Do the floor surfaces appear safe and sturdy?
- Fencing: Is the outdoor fencing secure and without any sharp protrusions that could cause harm or injury?
You don’t want your dog to be mixed in with dogs that don’t mesh well with him. All dogs should be matched according to ability and temperament. Find out if the daycare uses a full behavioral assessment and temperament test to determine the best and safest placement for your dog. Not only do competent daycare facilities do this, sometimes they may decide that a dog is not ready for the rigors of daycare.
Proper staffing is essential to a well-running daycare and a positive experience for your dog. Here’s what to look for and ask about:
- Ratio of staff members to dogs
- Staff training: staff members should at least have basic training in overall canine care and safety, and preferably, extra training on handling dogs in a group setting, including if fights should occur.
- First aid: staff also should have knowledge and experience in handling basic first aid.
- Seminars and professional associations: Look for staff who show commitment by engaging in overall industry opportunities to better their skills.
No one likes to think about an emergency that puts their precious friend in danger, but the fact is, danger is always a possibility, and a daycare under consideration needs to have a solid emergency plan in place. Beyond basic first aid, the daycare should also have an emergency medical plan for serious injuries and illnesses. It should also have an evacuation plan in case of fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster. In addition, find out how they will contact you in case of any emergency.
A Trial Run
While the idea of a doggie daycare may be a great idea, it’s best to hold off on purchasing a pass until you know it’s the right match for you and your dog. Since dogs do best when there is routine, check and see if the daycare uses a regular, daily schedule of activities. Doggie daycare may also have set-in-stone drop off and pick up times so pet parents need to make certain it’s a match for their needs, too.
Now that you have learned the pluses of doggy daycare, and what to look for in a facility, ask for a trial run to see how your pet fares in this new environment.
After you’ve gone ahead and enrolled your pup, you’re about to get a highly socialized, physically fit, and boredom-free member of your home.