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There are many very good reasons to decide to keep your puppy or dog at a doggy daycare rather than leaving them on their own for the entire day. Although doggy daycares are a relatively new concept in most areas they are really catching on as a way to keep your dog mentally and physical active during the day. It is also a great idea for dogs that have destructive behaviors or dogs that simply cannot seem to cope with being left alone.
It is just as important to do some research and find out as much as you can about individual doggy day care facilities in your area as it is to pick out an excellent vet, groomer or boarding kennel. After all the professionals and staff that work at the doggy daycare facility are going to be in charge of your pet for at least 8 or so hours a day when you are at work, so finding the right match is going to be important.
The first step may be to ask other friends, co-workers and professionals that you trust about what facilities they would recommend, as well as any doggy daycares that they don't. Be sure to ask then why they recommend or don't recommend a particular service, don't settle for just a thumbs up or thumbs down answer. What they found problematic may not be an issue for you just as what they found beneficial may not be important for you or your dog.
If you don't have anyone that can provide references for doggy daycares you will need to get busy doing your own research. The internet can be a great source of information but remember that websites, online testimonials and even pictures online may not be accurate or even authentic. If you find a service online make sure that there is a real phone number and physical address attached to the service and take a drive by before you even make a phone call. If you do drive by the facility and it looks well cared for and maintained you may wish to put it on your list for personal visits.
Once you have collected a list of the top two or three services through recommendations or by doing some online or phone book research the next step is to call the services and ask some basic questions. One of the biggest questions for most pet owners is the cost of the daycare service. Many services have a pay as you use option while others charge a flat weekly or daily rate. If know your schedule in advance a weekly rate is often less expensive than paying by the day or paying by the hour of use. Most doggy daycare services charge a minimum of a half day regardless of how long the dog is actually there. Anything over the half day time immediately becomes a full day charge so being on time for pick-up will be essential. In most areas rates run from under 10 dollars per day to over 40, depending on the services you are requesting.
When asking about the cost you will also want to ask what services are provided. After all if your dog is going to be kenneled the whole time you may simply want to crate train them and keep them at home. Well run doggy daycares will offer a range of options from group play activities in a supervised and fenced run or yard area through to trips to local dog parks or individual walks with staff members.
Typically doggy daycare services require that the dogs attending the programs be highly socialized or non-aggressive. Some doggy daycares may offer socialization classes to help dogs learn to be more social with other dogs, but this will typically be over and above the standard daily cost of the service. In cases where dogs are aggressive or dominant and not suitable for group type doggy daycares there is the option to have an in-home pet sitter come in for some or all of the day, but this will typically be more expensive than taking the dog to the service.
Doggy daycares often limit their services to specific sizes of dogs. In other words they may take care of only dogs under 20 pounds or dogs between 20-40 pounds or the large breeds. Even if your dog is highly social he or she will still have a more positive experience during the day if his or her doggy daycare companions are all about the same size and activity level.
It is important to ask about the training and professional level of staff members. Many doggy daycares are run out of private homes or farms with only one or two staff members for several dogs. In these situations it is important to understanding how the staff handles any type of aggression that may occur and how they treat or handle any injuries or accidents that may occur. Usually the doggy daycare will have a vet's office or vet on contract to respond to emergency situations and this, while rare, is very important to know as the owner. You may have to sign a waiver that allows the staff to authorize emergency treatment for the dog if you cannot be contacted and the dog is injured. If these people have the authority to make these decisions you do need to understand their professionalism and training.
Ask about insurance and liability issues and also inquire about how the doggy daycare screens for dogs that may not be suitable. Most doggy daycares will require that the dog come in with the owner to test for socialization and friendliness with the other dogs and the staff. In addition the owners will need to provide current vaccination records and vet information before the dog will be allowed in the program. If the doggy daycare doesn't require these specific documents you should avoid the program, after all there is no way to ensure that the other dogs that are there are vaccinated and up to date on their worming, flea medication or heartworm treatments.
If you want specialized services such as bathing, grooming, training or individual walking be sure to talk to the service in advance. Some doggy daycares provide this in-house while others will arrange transportation to and from your groomer for an additional fee.
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