So you’re working full time, which is great, but you’re worried about leaving your best friend home alone all day. Not so great. There was a time when pet owners thought the idea of day care or dog boarding was just for rich eccentrics, but now that we understand more about a canine’s needs and habits we know that too much time alone can be harmful to some breeds and can lead to a variety of unwanted behaviors.
- Assess your dog’s personality, not just his size. Just because he’s large, doesn’t mean he has an alpha personality or loves to romp around all day. Ask a potential day care if they separate dogs by size, temperament, activity level or all of the above.
- Ask about the establishment’s assessment process. If it sounds like they don’t have a clear process, they probably don’t.
- At least one on-site visit is mandatory, two or three would be best. Assess the environment for cleanliness, the level of supervision and the activities that are provided. The environment should be fun and interactive with staff on the floor. Take a look at the outdoor space. Is there enough room for your dog to run around? Is it kept clear of feces and urine? Is there a comfortable, safe place for older dogs that don’t enjoy a lot of active play?
- Ask about the staffs’ training credentials. A minimum expectation for doggie day care staff is that they should be trained in basic animal care and animal behavior.
- If the day care doesn’t ask you for proof of vaccinations, keep looking.
Once you’ve found the right program introduce your dog to day care slowly. Leave him for a few hours, once or twice a week and build up to a full-time schedule. Signs of agitation or stress either in the morning when you drop him off or after you get home are signs that the program is not a good fit. The best day care programs provide a variety of stimulating activities, one-on-one attention, rest and pampering that should leave your dog relaxed, tired and happy at the end of the day.