Over the past few weeks we’ve noticed that Sydney is finally showing interest in dogs other than her brother, Rodrigo. We walk with a group of fur friends every Saturday and Sunday morning and we’ve watched happily has Sydney has warmed up to the group and we realized that she just needed a “pack” of friends; dogs that she knows. When we arrive at the Strawberry Fields off-leash dog park for our Pack Walks, she gets excited, barks a little, and start running towards the group.
We had been thinking of putting the dogs in doggy day care for a change; but now that we know that Sydney is only happy with her pack of friends, we wouldn’t want to cause her any stress. And when I heard about my friend’s experience (Heather of RockStew Blog) with doggy day care, I felt like I should look a little deeper. My friend’s dog, Melvin, was attacked at doggy day care. The doggy day care providers didn’t take him to the vet and he later died of his injuries.
This is a tragic situation and, sadly, stories like these reflect badly on great doggy day care facilities. With doggy day care facilities popping up all over the place, I decided to reach out to professionals to get their thoughts on finding a good doggy day care facility for our fur kids.
What should we find out when we tour a doggy day care facility?
SUPERVISION: Confirm that dogs are supervised by a “trained” attendant 100% of the time that the dogs interact. A formal screening process should be in place for all dogs put into playgroups.
TRAINING EXPERIENCE: Ask about the background and qualifications of the owner/manager, specifically their training in dog behavior and leading playgroups. It’s not enough to just love dogs to run a safe doggy day care facility.
Watch how the employees interact with the dogs. If they seem irritated or impatient, then they’re not there for the love of dogs. Do you really want your dog in that person’s company and care?
SEPARATION: There should be proper separation of dogs by size and temperament for safety.
DISCIPLINE: Ask how they discipline their dogs! This is such a great point, because I would never want Sydney and Rodrigo to be in a place where they’re afraid.
VACCINATION RECORDS: And if the facility isn’t asking you for your dog’s vaccination records, then they probably aren’t asking others either.
CHECK WITH YOUR DOG: Our dogs know “go bye bye,” “go for a walk,” and “go to the park.” If your dog doesn’t get excited about going to doggy day care, then follow his lead – maybe there’s something happening there that your dog isn’t happy about. Our dogs communicate with us all the time; this is a great time to listen.
What if our dog is injured at a doggy day care facility?
Each facility will have their own policies about this and they should be clearly outlined in the contract you sign upon enrollment.
Social networking is a powerful tool; as a blogger, I’m well aware of how to use social networking to spread a message far and wide. However, once we pull that trigger, there’s not taking it back. If your dog is injured, first try and work with the owners of the doggy day care facility to resolve the issue before hitting the internet.
There are doggy day care facilities that have taken many precautions, but injuries still happen. Dogs play with their mouths, so don’t assume that all the injuries are the fault of the dog day care facility. There are also times when the facility doesn’t take reasonable safety steps and working with them will help educate everyone involved and inspire them to change their policies.
Thank you to the following professionals who took the time to answer my questions.
Susan Briggs, Crystal Canine & Urban Trails (www.crystalcanine.com) of Houston, Texas
Robin Bennett, Dream Dog Productions (www.dreamdogproductions.com). Author of Off Leash Dog Play and All About Dog Daycare…A Blueprint for Success.
Brooke Trevitt, Cooei (www.cooei.com)