Doggy daycare is a great option for dog parents looking to socialize their dog, get him out of the house and having a great time while they’re at the job, or maybe to melt away a few of that extra energy. But before you ship your dog off to day camp to experiment with with his dog buddies, you’ll need to consider what you want from your doggy daycare service provider.

Since we actually provide this service, we really know what you should look for – that’s because when we started “Daytime Playtime”, we considered what we’d want our very own dogs to do while these were away at dog day camp…then we built our processes and our facility around those needs. Here’s everything we developed.

Doggy Daycare Must-Haves
1. Run by a qualified dog trainer: Seems obvious, right? If you’re going to watch and look after dogs all day, especially in an organization setting where various behaviors and play styles are in work, you should know about dogs, dog body language, and dog behavior. In fact, you need to understand a whole lot about these exact things. While simple and repeated observation will supposedly teach anyone the basic principles of dog behavior, we’ve actually found that people finish up forming so many misconceptions about dog behavior this way that their “knowledge” does more harm than good.

If your dog’s daycare and Pet Boarding service isn’t run with a dog trainer (and a purely positive one), RUN, do not walk, away. A good dog daycare manager/dog trainer will make sure her staff has an operating understanding of positive training techniques as well. Staff need not be trainers – that’s unrealistic, since the process of recognition (the CPDT-KA, for example) takes years and is rather expensive. However, staff should be fairly well-versed in basic training and dog behavior.

2. Purely Positive: Yes, we mentioned previously this above. But purely positive is the way to go. No shock collars, electric collars, air horns, spray bottles, etc. These “training tools” serve only to confuse and confound your pup and detract from effective training. When the trainer running your dog’s day camp isn’t purely positive, think about this for a moment. Can you pull hard on your dog’s his leash or collar? Would you yell at him to excess, or push or hit him? Probably not…and if you don’t want any one else to do any of those things, ensure that your dog’s daycare staff have a mindset and service that is grounded in the purely positive mentality.

3. Pet First Aid and CPR: You might not know pet medical and CPR, however your doggy daycare provider should. If you’re checking your best friend into day camp, make sure the staff really know what they’re doing. Not merely should they find out about positive training, all staff ought to know pet medical and CPR.

4. Cleanliness: Let’s face it…dogs are messy. REALLY messy. Between dog hair, the inevitable “accidents,” and slobber, your dog daycare facility gets really, really dirty during the day. Pretty smelly too (believe us, we know). The facility itself should be cleaned daily. This may typically involve vacuuming, followed by disinfecting/cleaning the floors and other surfaces frequented by dogs. Any canine beds, toys, and other things the dogs touch will also have to be washed daily (when possible) or replaced periodically.

5. Safety: Safety in a doggy daycare setting is generally something of knowledge – including behavioral knowledge (understanding dog behavior and play styles) and first aid/CPR. But other factors include solid flooring that offers traction for dogs. It’s fine for areas to be included in tile, wood, or other hard surfaces, but there also needs to be areas where dogs can run and get good traction. Rubber flooring is particularly good for this, though there are other options.

6. Outside Time: At the very least, dogs is going outside to go to the toilet and get some good fresh air. A simple walk for every dog one or two times every day will suffice, but is problematic for daycare staff to keep up. An improved option is a fenced-in area outside. During nice weather, many dogs won’t want to come inside. That’s fine, as long as they don’t get too cold or hot! Talking about which – the within of the facility should be properly heated or air conditioned.

7. Special Accommodations: Daycare facilities can sometimes be a “one size fits all” deal, and the truth is that there surely is very little that anyone can do to avoid this dynamic to at least some extent…but there must be enough flexibility to possess your dog stay on his eating schedule (if applicable), get medication at times, and not come in contact with treats that he may be allergic to. Doggy daycare services will sometimes charge extra for administering medications – that’s no issue, however the service itself should be available.