TYPES OF DOGGY DAY CARES – AND HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST ONE FOR YOUR DOG
The dog care world is growing so fast, it can be hard to keep up. When choosing a doggy daycare it can seem a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for.
Lucky for you we are here to help. Below we have listed the different types of daycare and which ones are best suited for you and your dog.
IS YOUR DOG THE SOCIAL TYPE?
First things first, does your dog even want to hang out with other dogs? It is totally fine if your dog just isn’t that into other dogs.
As humans, we force this idea that dogs have to be social and play with other dogs and it’s just not true. At Bright Eyes and Bushy Tails, we only have dogs who enjoy being here, who like other dogs and LOVE to play.
So your first task when choosing a doggy daycare, is figuring out if your dog even wants to go to daycare.
Does your dog like interacting with other dogs?
If not, daycare is probably not for them and that’s totally ok. There are so many options out there to help enrich your dogs day.
If yes, read on so we can get them some doggy friends!
STAFF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
There are so many different types of dog daycare and unfortunately no regulations to who can own or work in one, so this is where it can get tricky. It is so important to check out what qualifications and training your daycare has.
Just because you “love dogs” doesn’t mean you understand how they think, learn, play or communicate. The science of understanding dogs is improving every day, so someone who did puppy school with their dog 20 years or even 5 years ago may have a very out of date understanding of dog training.
If you find a daycare that has actually completed a dog training or animal behaviour course, don’t be shy, find out who it was through and look them up. If they are anything like the BEBT team, we love talking about the Delta Society and Fear Free Pets, we can’t recommend them highly enough.
Check out the provider and any associations they are members of and see if their values match yours. If you don’t believe in punishing your dog, then it’s best to find someone who has completed a course which is “force free”.
An up to date understanding of dog behaviour, body language and training techniques is a must for anyone interacting with dogs.
Don’t be shy to ask for qualifications, they are looking after your furbub.
Check out where they did their training, do their values match yours?
ROOM TO MOVE OR CUDDLE?
Does your dog want to run and play or do they just want company throughout the day. There are daycares with room to run and play or there are people who have dogs in their home. Both are great, you just need to be aware of what you are after.
A side point with this is how many dogs do they have per day? Some places can have a big space, but they jam the dogs in, leaving not much room to play and plenty of room to get overstimulated and reactive. Ask your daycare what their maximum number is and even drop by when it is full, so you can check out “the vibe”.
Do you need a big space for them to run and play?
Does your dog just want to relax in someones presence?
What is the maximum per day? 30 dogs in a large space can make it feel very small.
HUMAN TO DOG RATIO
This is one to ask! The dog daycare industry is really good at jamming dogs in with limited supervision. The Australian guidelines recommend 1 person to 10 dogs. I have experienced places that have 1 person to 30 dogs, or places where the dogs aren’t supervised at all!!
1 human to 10 dogs is the guideline given by Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA)
Some daycares have a separate entrance and you don’t get to see where your dog is spending their day. I understand that dogs can get excited with visitors, but if you ask to see where your dog plays and who they play with and the answer is “no”, I would call it then and there and be on my merry way.
At BEBT we believe in being an open book. You can see our entire setup, we have nothing to hide and honestly anywhere that is cagey about showing you around irks me.
If there is nothing to hide then they should be proud to show you the space your dog gets to hang out in.
Beware of any daycare or grooming that won’t let you look around. What are they hiding?
I have heard of places where they separate their “problem dogs”. While this can be sold as a good service, quite often they are locking away or crating anxious dogs who shouldn’t really be at daycare.
BEBT don’t have problem dogs, because we only have dogs that want to be here and even that can change day to day. A dog that barks or is reactive could be doing so out of stress or fear, by “separating” them, you are likely to make the problem worse and this is where anxious dogs become reactive and even aggressive.
As mentioned in the first point, not all dogs are daycare dogs and that is OK!
Find a place that assesses your dog first to see if they are the right fit. Bonus, find a place that will call you if your dog is showing signs of stress.
At BEBT, if your dog is having a down day, you WILL be getting a call from us. We want your dog to love it here and if they aren’t then we will let you know. Daycares are there to enrich your dog’s life, not to be something they tolerate.
“Problem” dogs should not be at daycare, they are not happy there.
Find a daycare that contacts you when your dog is showing signs of stress.
Daycares should have a short assessment first, so your dog can suss out the place and you can both see if you are the right fit.
LISTEN TO YOUR DOG
Your dog is talking to you all the time and they will tell you if they are happy at daycare. Don’t take the staffs’ word for it, watch your dog.
Watch them interact with the staff, space and other dogs. At BEBT we literally have scratches on the outside of the door from dogs trying to get in. I’ve also seen a couple of near-miss shoulder dislocations from dogs pulling their parents through the door (not joking).
If your dog doesn’t want to get out of the car, this is a sign. If your dog doesn’t run to the staff, this is a sign. If your dog has its tail down and is turning their head away and licking their lips, this is a sign. Don’t feel pressured by the staff, listen to your dog.
Watch your dogs body language, are they happy or stressed?
Is your dog excited to go to daycare or are they excited to leave?
Listen to your dog, they are talking to you all the time.
Remember, be picky when choosing a daycare, they are looking after your baby!! It is ok to ask questions, if they have nothing to hide and are proud of their services they will be happy to tell you everything you want to know, just ask us, we’ll talk all day!
Good luck:) Let’s raise the bar together!!