There are times when we have to take our beloved dog to day care. I tried 3 different locations before settling on one I am completely comfortable with. It is surprising how many doggie day care facilities there are in Charleston. I’ve since learned that, even in a lagging economy, the pet care services industry is on an upward trend. Within the pet care industry, doggie day care is the biggest growth sector. In fact, there are currently over 30 dog day care facilities in or near Charleston, South Carolina – with more scheduled to open before the end of the year.
With so many doggie day care facilities available, choosing the right one for our dog required legwork. During my search, I found that there are a variety of philosophies and approaches to pet care. For the sake of our pup, it was important to take the time necessary to make the proper selection. I’m glad I did.
Here are suggestions to help you find a responsible day care for your dog:
• Ask local veterinarians, animal shelters and pet supply stores for recommendations.
• Talk with others dog owners who take their pets to day care.
• Visit a range of facilities unannounced and request a tour.
• Ask lots of questions, anything that comes to mind. Do not be shy about this.
Dogs like routine. Your goal is to find a dog day care facility that meets your requirements and become a regular (for as long as you and your pet experience a high-level of satisfaction). You should feel comfortable with the facility as well as the staff. Your canine companion will appreciate the familiarity and you will feel easy about leaving your sweet dog in the care of another, if only for the day.
When selecting a responsible day care for your dog, consider these points:
Facility: Is it large enough to comfortably accommodate their average number of dogs? How do the play areas look? What about the layout? How are the floors; do the play area surfaces seem well maintained? Are there indoor and outdoor play areas? Are the indoor areas climate-controlled? Are all of the areas secure; can dogs escape from the outdoor play areas? Is the staff willing to let you look around at any time, unannounced? Is there comfortable and clean bedding for your dog during rest time? Are there cameras in the play areas so you can watch your dog remotely?
Cleanliness: A sanitary environment is important to your dog’s health. The facility should be clean and tidy, with minimal animal odor. The surfaces should be disinfected. The indoor play areas should be free of dirt and clutter. The front desk area should appear organized and well maintained.
Dog interaction: Dogs should be grouped by size, personality, temperament and energy level. Make certain that play time is always supervised by a human, located in the same area with the dogs. Ensure that staff members are comfortable leading a pack of dogs and that they are well educated and prepared to take the necessary precautions to avoid dog fights. According to The Pet Care Services Association, there should be one human for every 10 – 15 dogs.
Entry requirements: Are the dogs vetted before they are approved to attend the day care? Does the facility require that animals have up-to-date vaccinations and immunizations?
Staff: Spend time talking with the employees. Do you agree with their attitude towards dogs? Do they get to know each dog individually? Can the staff talk knowledgably about the individual dogs in their care? Are they comfortable, friendly and warm with the dogs? Do they seem to understand canine behavior, body language, and safe dog play? Are staff members trained in canine emergency procedures? Are they certified?
– Do you agree with the rules and regulations at this facility?
– What is the screening process for accepting new dogs?
– Is there a trial period for new animals?
– How is each day structured? Is there a good balance of play time and rest?
– In the event of an emergency, is there a solid plan in place?
– Is the staff willing and able to give your dog medication, if required?
– Do the employees seem to care about your dog?
– Do they know specific details of your dog and his behavior?
– What is the turnover rate of the employees?
– Do other dogs at the day care look healthy and well adjusted?
– Are the hours flexible? Do the drop-off and pick-up times fit with your schedule?
– Does the facility also offer boarding? Grooming?
– Are there package discounts available?
– Does your dog seem content yet tired when he gets home (which is a good sign)?
– Are you completely at ease leaving your dog at this day care?
The doggie day care trend is on the rise for good reason. At the right facility, your pet gets proper socialization and exercise which leads to a happier and healthier dog. Additionally, you get the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing your pet is in a safe environment.
Dog Breed Profile: Cavachon
How to Groom Your Yorkshire Terrier
A poem about our pets
And because I just can’t help myself:
Cute photos of our dog with her best friend, our cat.
The Pet Care Services Association