It’s hard not to feel guilty when you’re away at work all day and your dog is home alone.
On the other hand, most dogs just sleep when we’re gone, and they are very adaptable to our schedules, especially if they’re getting plenty of exercise and interaction while we’re home.
This post will go over how to decide if dog daycare is a good choice for your unique dog. I will also give some tips on how to choose the right daycare and how to prepare your dog for her first day.
Is daycare right for your dog?
Most dog daycares are set up so a group of 10+ dogs are playing together in an open room or yard. A couple of questions to ask yourself when thinking about finding a dog daycare include:
- How active is your dog?
- Does he like playing with other dogs?
- Does he ever play too rough?
- Is your dog stressed out while alone or does he just sleep?
- Can you afford dog daycare?
- Is your dog possessive of toys or space?
Alternatives to dog daycare could be hiring a dog walker or pet sitter, going home on your lunch break, lots of exercise before and after work or installing a dog door to your yard.
Don’t jump to the conclusion that your dog needs to go to daycare just because you feel guilty. Some dogs love playing with groups of other dogs, while others find it stressful.
Choosing the right daycare
Since each dog daycare will be managed a little differently, it’s a good idea to visit at least two different daycares, read online reviews and ask plenty of questions.
Jme Thomas is the executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, which also offers dog daycare and boarding services.
She gave a couple of tips for choosing the right dog daycare such as asking about the dog-to-person ratio and making sure the daycare is kept clean.
“High-quality daycares should be pretty easy to spot,” she said. “Low ratios of people to dogs is always a good sign. This means that they are more concerned about safety and erring on the side of caution, than cramming dogs in and maxing out on their profit margin.”
She said a reasonable ratio is 10 to 12 dogs per person.
Finally, she suggested asking if there are webcams so the owners can check in on the dogs throughout the day.
“This is not to say that daycares that don’t have them are horrible places,” she said. “They simply may not be technologically advanced or have the know-how to get them up and going, or maintain them.”
How to prepare for the first day
Most dog daycares will require dogs to have certain vaccinations, Thomas said. This is similar to a boarding kennel.
To help set your dog up for success at daycare, Thomas said to make sure she is well socialized and comfortable being handled by strangers. Basic obedience can also help so your dog learns leash manners and commands like come and sit.
Finally, Thomas said to ask whether or not the daycare has a “crated nap time.” If so, it would be a good idea to help your dog get comfortable being in a crate for short periods at home.
After your dog’s first day, Thomas said you can expect your dog to be very tired, even just from the mental exhaustion.
“Like coming home from a busy day at work.”
What do the rest of you think? Do you take your dog to daycare?