So, you need someone to care for your furry buddy, but you don’t really want a pet sitter coming into your house and you’re not too jazzed about using a boarding facility. Why don’t you try looking into doggy daycare, instead? It really is one of the best options! Keep reading to learn all about it, from what it is to how much it costs and more.
Differences Between Dog Daycare vs. Other Pet Care Services
As the name implies, doggy daycare is a type of place where dogs come and play with each other while you’re busy running errands or working. It provides you with a safe environment for your dog to stay in, of course with the supervision and watchful eyes of trained staffers. It’s pretty much like a child daycare center, except, obviously, for dogs.
Many pet owners feel like it’s a better option than a standard boarding facility because while dogs may be placed into crates for limited periods of time, most of their day is spent socializing and interacting with other dogs. As I’m sure you know, socialization is absolutely vital to raising well-behaved pups.
Now that we have a very basic idea of what it is, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details, starting with the pros and cons.
The Multitude of Benefits of Doggy Daycare
There are a number of benefits when it comes to dog daycare. Let’s break them down quickly, then we’ll talk a bit more about them.
- For starters, your doggie will learn how to socialize with their fellow dogs. Their social skills will increase while having fun as they play.
- Second, dogs expend a great deal of energy at daycare which is why when you come to pick them up, they are well-rested and ready for a good night’s sleep instead of having pent-up energy that will keep them (and YOU) up.
- Third, according to experts, behavioral issues -most especially in puppies- come from their restless energy and lack of exercise. As I just mentioned, dog daycare centers provide your dogs with the opportunity to play around and exercise while you are away.
- Last, but perhaps most important, daycare centers care for your dogs the way you want them to be cared for. This means that you can leave Fido alone with these caretakers without having any guilt.
As we can see, dog daycare is not like pet sitting services or boarding kennels. The biggest benefit is the amount of time your pup spends socializing with both people and other dogs. Daycare is a place where your dog can spend a huge portion of their day with fellow canine pals.
Although they may spend a little time in a crate, for the most part, there are longer play sessions and time opportunities for your furry buddy to hang out with his friends. Even a dog walker can’t offer them this benefit. Most walk one dog at a time, and when they do walk multiple dogs, it’s only for about half an hour.
Also, when you bring your pet to dog daycare, there are often other amenities that you can take advantage of. Some offer training, some offer grooming services, and so on. These extras really make doggy daycare a “one-stop-shop.” It’s rare to find a boarding facility that also trains your dog or a pet sitter that will groom him, too.
Of course, even the best dog care options have their drawbacks. So, let’s address those next.
Limitations & Drawbacks
The greatest benefit of doggy daycare centers (socializing) is also its greatest drawback. Spending more time around other dogs can increase the chances of your pup getting sick or injured, especially if a fight breaks out. While vaccinating your dog can protect against most common illnesses, there are others that don’t really have a vaccine yet. Just like humans, dogs can get colds and the flu.
Depending on your breed, you may also have a hard time finding a good doggy daycare in your area. While there are some that accept all kinds of dogs from giant-breed to teacup-sized, other daycare centers only accept dogs up to a certain weight limit.
Plus, as unfair as it is, some have “banned breeds” lists that exclude pit bulls, Rotties, and other dogs that have an unearned rep for being “aggressive.”
If you have a puppy, there are other risks to consider. It would probably be safer to stick to a play area with smaller dogs. Puppies are constantly in need of monitoring so that they aren’t frightened by other older and much tougher dogs. A bad experience could sour your pup for life. I have a friend who had a puppy that got into a fight with an older pooch. It took years for him to stop being afraid of other dogs.
Doggy Daycare Requirements
While requirements differ from place to place, there are a couple that nearly every single one requires. First, your pups will need to be up-to-date on their vaccines. Rabies and distemper are definite “musts,” but most also require parvo and bordetella vaccines. Some may even require doggy flu shots, Lyme disease vaccines, and more. So make sure you ask.
There are a number of daycares that require dogs to be spayed or neutered by the time they are seven months old before they are allowed to attend the daycare. Of course, this comes with its own benefit. It encourages responsible pet ownership, reduces the risks of an accidental mating, and makes the employee’s job just slightly easier because they do not have to deal with any behavioral issues that come from your pet’s hormones.
As mentioned above, there are also breed restrictions, and that doesn’t pertain to so-called “aggressive” breeds. Some centers, for example, won’t take expensive purebred dogs (too much risk), or dogs prone to major health issues. Others won’t take certain hybrids (life wolf hybrids, for example).
There are some daycares that accept puppies who are as young as eight to twelve weeks old. Of course, the puppy has to be healthy and up to date with all of their vaccinations. You may want to consult your local vet about this.
Dogs who are above the age of five may prefer slower activities and not enjoy running around as much. You may want to look for a senior dog daycare that provides an enjoyable but not too overwhelming environment. These centers cater to dogs that aren’t quite so high-energy.
How Much Does Dog Daycare Cost?
The cost of dog daycare varies so much from place to place that it’s almost impossible to even give you an average price. According to Rover.com, it can range from $40-280 a day. That’s a massive range, isn’t it?
A general rule of thumb is to expect to pay more in big cities than in small towns. Everything just costs more in cities. That said, if you live in a rural town with just one doggy daycare, it could end up costing more than you’d pay in a place where there are plenty of options.
How Do You Enroll Your Dog in Daycare?
So, you’ve reached this point and you’re thinking, “Awesome, I’m in! I totally want to send my dog to daycare! What do I do now?”
Well, obviously, you start by finding the right option for your pooch. Once you do that, you’ll have to go through an enrollment process, exactly the same as you would if you were enrolling your child in daycare.
First, there is a screening process for your dogs to ensure the safety of everyone and every pet involved. The application starts during the screening process to see if your dog meets the criteria that have been set by the center.
There are several parts to the enrollment application. They will require your basic information as well as your dog’s, a certification from the vet that says all your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, and a liability waiver. There is almost always a non-refundable processing fee and you may have to wait a few days to see if your dog is fit so make sure you choose a daycare center that is excellent for your dog’s needs.
All in all, there are a number of things to consider when looking at the best doggie daycare for you. There are the age requirements, the age of your dog, vaccination and safety protocols, pricing, and enrollment processes.
While these may seem like a lot, it is definitely necessary to ensure that your dog gets the treatment that they deserve. That’s the entire point of doggy daycare, though, isn’t it? So, the hassle is absolutely worth it, in my opinion.
What about you? Have you tried doggy daycare? Was it a better option than hiring a pet sitter or using a boarding facility? Share your thoughts below.