How Do You Know If Dog Daycare Is Safe?

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It’s natural to be worried about your four-legged friend – you wouldn’t make a very good pet parent if you were blasé about his safety – so it’s fair enough to wonder whether or not doggy daycare is safe. On the whole, doggy daycare centers are risk-free and shouldn’t pose a problem for your pooch. Of course, there’s always a small danger, but no more than there is taking him to a dog park or letting him off the leash in a meadow. The important thing is to check whether the doggy daycare into which you’re thinking of enrolling your precious pup takes all the necessary safety precautions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your research so you know that their facilities and procedures are up to scratch.

Appropriate Groupings

They say that too many cooks spoil the broth; likewise, too many dogs can certainly spoil the daycare experience. Check with your doggy daycare to make sure that all pups are split up into small groups, with appropriate pals. Not only should dogs be split up by size, they should also be divided according to age and energy level. For instance, a small dog might be the same size as a puppy from a large breed, but the two are going to play differently, have different needs and generally not be a suitable match.

Staff Qualifications and Training

All staff at a doggy daycare should have at least some training. There are certain daycare centers where every staff member will have recognized pet care certificates or other qualifications, whereas other daycares do their training in-house. It’s up to you what your comfort level is regarding this, but all employees who’ll be working with the dogs should possess appropriate canine knowledge. It’s important for them to be trained in understanding doggy body language, as this is vital for preempting any problems and avoiding fights.

Visiting Hours

Your doggy daycare should have an open door policy to all pet parents. Before you enroll your dog, you should be allowed to inspect all areas of the daycare facility. When your dog is attending, you should also be able to drop in at any time and to pick your dog up early, if necessary. If a doggy daycare center doesn’t let you do any of these things, that should set off alarm bells. If they’re acting like they have something to hide, then they probably do.

Physical Safety

Not all doggy daycares are created equal, so it’s important that you look around the facilities to check they’re safe for your dog. Make sure that any outdoor areas are securely fenced in. There should be no gaps in the perimeter and fencing should be tall enough that larger dogs wouldn’t be able to jump over. Also make sure that there are no jagged edges or pointy bits on which your dog could hurt himself.

Stranger Danger

Make sure there’s some sort of policy in place to prevent a stranger from coming in and picking up your dog. How they stop this from happening will vary from center to center, but be certain that they’ve thought this through and there’s no chance of a dog-napping.

Health and Behavioral Checks

The main risk at doggy daycare is that a fight will break out. However, as long as the daycare is careful about which pooches it lets through its doors, then no problems should arise in the first place. Before you can bring your dog to his first day of daycare, he’ll usually have to be assessed by the staff to ensure that he’s not aggressive or reactive and is generally a good fit for the center. If you’re not asked to have an assessment, this is a bad sign as it means that none of the other dogs there will have had one, either. Dogs who attend daycare should also be in good health and you should expect that all owners are asked to show their pets’ vaccination records.

loznnolaLauren Corona is a freelance writer from merry old England. She specializes in writing about dogs and other critters. Lauren lives near Oxford, with her gorgeous Doberman, Nola. When she’s not tapping away at the keyboard, you’ll find her walking in the woods with Nola-dog, raising money for the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, cooking vegan food, making zines and writing about herself in the third person.