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Two dogs playing outside at doggy daycare

How to choose the best doggy daycare

If you have the kind of dog who loves being around other dogs, then doggy daycare might be the right choice for you! If you’re thinking about daycare, here are some pointers to help you find the best fit for your pup:

Philosophy. How is the business marketed—is it a “big playgroup all the time” type of place, or do they offer individualized attention geared to your dog’s personality? Some dogs can run all day long and be happy campers, but other dogs need to socialize on their own terms. Also, make sure playgroups are age and size appropriate for your dog. 

Facility. Doing an in-person visit of the dog daycare facility (preferably during the day when other dogs are present) is absolutely essential. You’ll want to keep an eye out for such things as hygiene and sanitation (of common areas as well as individual spaces), the staff-to-client (dog) ratio and the general appearance of the space. Also pay attention to the level and quality of the noise; happy, well-tended dogs sound very different than stressed out dogs. You always want to go with the happy sounds!

Health and hygiene. It’s super-important for all pet care facilities to require the appropriate vaccinations and adhere to best practices when sanitizing the premises. When you’re filling out the application forms, make sure they ask about pet vaccination records. When you’re touring the facility, ask them about their protocols in case of a canine influenza or kennel cough outbreak. 

Professional associations and certifications. One of the indicators of good facility management is an affiliation with one or more of the major professional pet sitting associations, such as NAPPS, PSI or IBPSA. Although membership is not mandatory, it says a lot about a business if they are voluntarily willing to adhere to industry-wide standards. It’s like going the extra mile. Bonus: if you see a sign that says they have been trained/certified by experts like The Dog Gurus or PACCC.

Now go forth! Do some research, make some appointments and pick your favorite doggy daycare for your beloved pet. Remember to trust your instincts and that you know your dog better than anyone. With research and tours under your belt, you’ll know the right place when you see it.

Jaime Migdal, CPDT KA, is the founder and CEO of Fetchfind, a talent recruitment and services organization dedicated to the pet industry.

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