The Happy Puppers

Dog daycare: how to find the best one?

How to find the best dog daycare?

Good dog daycares can come in very handy during times of need. It is not always possible to take your dog with you wherever you go. Suppose you are a single parent and have to go to work. It is not possible to take your dog to work along with you. 

Alternatively, you may be traveling for work, and it may not be possible to take your pup along on the journey. Under the circumstances, you can keep your dog in the dog daycare. However, you must be sure that the doggy daycare you have chosen for your pup is perfect per your needs and requirements.

As a dog parent, you must feel the same way about your dog. Your dog is your child. You will not hand over your child to a random stranger who promises to take care of him, right? How can you hand over your dog to anyone without being sure that your dog will be adequately cared for and looked after? Thus, before you enroll your dog in a doggy daycare, check out this expert advice on finding the best doggy daycare for your pup.

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How to find the best dog daycare?
How to find the best dog daycare?


What is dog daycare?

Dog daycare is a place that provides short-term care for your dog. These most often provide daytime care. Dog daycare is very different from pet sitting on multi-day pet boarding facilities. In the case of pet sitting, the sitter comes to your home to take care of your dog while you are out. While in the case of multi-day kennel boarding or pet boarding facilities, you put your dog in the boarding facility overnight or for a period of a few days. 

Dog daycare can be compared with a regular daycare meant for human kids. The only difference is that the dog daycare is intended for canines, not humans. However, the philosophy behind both of these is the same. Those dog parents who have a hectic schedule and cannot take care of the dog during work hours can put their dog in the dog daycare when they go to work and pick up the dog on the way back.

Before you read about what to look for in a good dog daycare, you need to understand the different types of doggy daycare available. There are several dog daycare types available to dog parents. However, you should focus on keeping your pup at a place that best matches your dog’s temperament and mental and physical stimulation requirements.

Do you know if your dog is suitable for the environment of the daycare centre?

The three different types of dog daycare:

Dog park style dog daycare

Such dog daycares have ample space for the dogs to run in. These have either mixed indoor and outdoor areas or are exclusively outdoors. The large region allows the dogs to effortlessly run, engage with other dogs, play fetch with the caretakers, and finally, sit on the sidelines and look at others, play or roam around and send and receive pee mails.

However, if you reside at a location where the weather is terrible, you should be prepared to receive a muddy dog when the daycare ends because the dog was roaming outside the whole day. Before enrolling your dog in such a daycare, check the facilities and strategies for dealing with extreme cold or hot weather.

In such a daycare, you will notice the staff mostly dispersed across the vast open space and are responsible for ensuring that all the dogs are behaving nicely with one another. This is referred to as zone defense. In this type of dog daycare, you must ensure that the staff to dog ratio has been kept at safe levels.

How to know if your dog is suitable for a dog park style dog daycare?

This form of daycare is perfect for dogs who are very social and enjoy running. This type of daycare would provide plenty of room for your dog to stretch his legs. However, if your dog is the cautious type or may start to feel overwhelmed if present in a lot of activity, you should look at the other daycare types for dogs. If your dog is a massive fan of running away, does not like to be touched, or is led by the caller, you should avoid this type of facility altogether. If your dog is in such a facility, it will be challenging to corral them up for pickup or for any other kind of situation.

The separated play area style doggy daycare

These types of dog daycares are similar to the dog park style. However, the play area in these types of daycare is much smaller. The play area is either indoor-only or outdoor-only types. Dogs are divided into different playgroups in such doggy daycare, depending on their playing style, energy, and temperament. Due to the constraints of space, the number of dogs in each group is smaller in this case. Each dog group generally contains 10 to 20 dogs. However, the number of dogs in the group would depend on the size of the room where the dog will be placed and the number of staff available to care for the dogs.

How to know if your dog is suitable for a separated play area style doggy daycare?

If your dog feels overwhelmed in the presence of many dogs or does not like heavy activity, they can benefit from such a setup since they will be put in a group with other dogs of similar temperaments.

Household design type of dog daycare

This type of daycare is also referred to as homestyle daycare. This dog care facility is usually a part of someone’s home. If your dog favors the home environment and does better indoors, this type of familial atmosphere might benefit him. However, due to the rules of the local municipalities regarding the licensing of the boarding or kennel facility, these daycares usually harbor a minimal number of dogs at one point in time.

If you plan to allow your dog in a homestyle daycare, ensure to check the daycare properly. You must ensure that the daycare has been properly sanitized and cleaned to prevent any disease transmission and has been adequately dog-proofed as well.

How to know if your dog is suitable for a homestyle-type dog daycare?

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety or is starting to show signs of early separation anxiety, they can benefit from such a setting. Furthermore, if your dog does not like to be in the presence of many dogs, the environment would be ideal for them.

Before you finalize a specific dog daycare for your pup, you need to research the ones you have shortlisted. Regardless of what they guarantee, you need to ensure that you keep your puppy at the best place possible. Here are 17 inquiries you must conduct to find out if the daycare is the right one for your dog or not.


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Is the dog daycare is right for you?

Take a tour of the facilities.

The first thing you must do is ask for a tour of the entire daycare. At most places, the caretakers or manager would show you around. You must inspect the area where your dog will be spending most of its time. Check if the site is properly sanitized and cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis. Ask the owner about what safety precautions they have put in place.


I will be discussing all these factors in detail in the latter part of the article, so keep reading.

When taking the tour, check for the following:


Check if the fences are chain-link or solid ones. If the barriers are substantial, there is less chance of dogs fighting with one another. In the case of the chain-link fence, there is a chance that the dogs get into a fight. However, having a chain-linked fence does not mean that the daycare is unsafe for your dog.

It is crucial that the fencing is up to code. The fencing should also be sturdy enough to withstand the dog’s weight and be high enough to prevent the escape artists from making an attempt.

Proper ventilation

If the dogs are kept indoors, you must ensure that there is proper air circulation going on. The air circulation can happen via a fresh-air exchange system that has been installed in the facility or allowing the windows to be open.


Gating is crucial when your dog is introduced to the other dogs in the facility. Thus, the gating must be done correctly. A double gating system allows the new dog to become familiar with the old dogs already in the facility or the play area before the new dogs are permitted to join the others. This helps boost the new dog’s safety and reduces anxiety over meeting new dogs.




When you check the facility, ensure that the floors are secure for the dog to walk on. Cold concrete and slick linoleum provide less traction than epoxy or rubber flooring.

Check the grouping system.

Dogs are often divided based on their temperament, sizes, and play habits in doggy daycare. This helps to prevent any accidents later. If a small dog is kept in a group containing large dogs, the small dog may get hurt. Thus, division by the above-mentioned three factors is crucial. If you are a guardian to a small dog, you need to be especially careful. Interacting with large dogs in a dog park is okay since there is a lot of space for the small dog to escape in case the need arises. However, the situation cannot be replicated when your dog is in the doggy daycare. Your dog may not have ample amount of space to escape, or there might be too many big dogs around. Therefore, ensure that the dogs are separated for safety purposes.

Find out the dog-to-staff ratio.

Some places have specific staff to dog ratio in dog daycares as part of their mandate. However, not all of the states will have such a mandate. Therefore, as the guardian, you must inquire about the state regulation. Most places recommend a ratio of 15:1, where one human is responsible for taking care of 15 dogs. However, this ratio is okay when the dogs are light players and nonaggressive.

If the dogs are more active, the preferred ratio would be 10:1. In the case of less active dogs, the ratio can be 20:1. In the high-energy groups, the staff to dog ratio should be 1:5-7. This helps easily navigate appropriate behavior and allows for healthy interaction between the more exuberant pups.

Number of dogs in a specific group

This will depend on the dog daycare size. However, it is your responsibility to ensure that the ratio of the staff members to the dogs in the group is acceptable. The dogs who are a part of a single group should have similar temperaments. Finally, there should be enough room in the play section for dogs to freely walk around without feeling cramped.

Are the dogs separated as per size?

This will also depend on the specific daycare type you have chosen for your dog. If you go for a homestyle daycare, they will separate the dog depending on the size instead of the play style and energy levels. If you are worried about your small dog playing with dogs of sizes like great Danes, you should go for a daycare that offers a separate play area for dogs depending on their sizes.

Certain daycares only take in dogs of large sizes, while others take in small breed dogs. Therefore, go for a daycare that separates dogs as per your preferences.



Dog daycare: how to find the best one?


Go for a dog daycare that offers guided activities.

When you check the dog daycare facility, also inquire about the activities they conduct with the dogs during the day. If they also conduct training and behavior modification, your dog may learn something new while staying in the daycare. This type of daycare would be the most beneficial for your dog from a mental and physical perspective.

Inquire about the toy policy

Some dogs prefer to get very aggressive if they feel that the toy is theirs to defend. If your dog has such a temperament, you should bring it to the notice of the managers at the dog daycare so that they can keep a close eye on your dog and prevent fights over toys.



Inquire about the policy on treats

A lot of dog daycares promote good behavior in dogs by using treats. However, this doesn’t need to be the code of conduct in all doggy daycare centers. Therefore, you should inquire about the treat usage and let the managers at the daycare know if your dog is aggressive regarding food or if your dog is on a specific kind of diet at the moment.

Opt for a daycare that also provides boarding services

You may not plan to put your dog in boarding in the future. However, you do not know what might happen in life. There may be a circumstance in the future where you have to go out of town due to an emergency and cannot take your dog along. It is a good idea to go for a dog daycare that also provides ing services so that your dog is already familiar with the space and people. Thus, your dog will be relatively comfortable spending the night at a place that he is already familiar with.

Immunization requirements

When in daycare, dogs are kept near other dogs. Thus, if one of the dogs is suffering from an infectious disease, it can spread like wildfire if the other dogs are not already immunized. A responsible doggy daycare center would require all the dogs to provide proof of yearly vaccinations against rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and Bordetella [kennel cough]. Some daycare centers may also ask for canine influenza vaccination proof.



You must remember that certain infections like kennel cough can get transmitted despite vaccination. However, if your dog has previously been vaccinated against kennel cough and catches the disease, the severity would be much less than if your dog was not vaccinated. Contact your veterinarian if you want more details about the vaccines your dog should have before you send him to dog daycare.


Spaying and neutering requirements

Most daycares have a specific age limit for neutering and spaying dogs that are part of their playgroups. The limit is usually between the ages of six months to one year. This is done so that all dogs can be protected. Dogs who have undergone spaying and neutering may react differently than dogs who have not.

A good doggy daycare would prefer to limit such flashpoints to the bare minimum levels. Thus, canines who are non-altered will be asked to leave once they have reached the age of sexual maturity that falls between six months to one year, depending on the breed. The purpose here is to ensure that the entire group is set up for success and safety.


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Daycare trial option

Most dog daycare centers have an option of a trial before adding the dog in as a part of the pack. During a daycare trial, the staff may request a health and behavior history of the dog.

Furthermore, the managers may ask regarding the behavioral criteria of the dogs attending the dog daycare. Suppose your dog has any unusual or quirky behavior. In that case, it is better that you do not put him in the doggy daycare. You must be truthful about your dog’s behavior and personality traits. The daycare must be honest about which type of dogs they allow in the group. This is for the safety of every dog in the facility.

If your dog has any behavioral issues, you must mention that to the dog daycare managers to keep an eye out and protect your dog from the other dogs and vice versa. Behavioral problems like mouthing, biting, resource guarding, excessive pumping, separation anxiety, shyness/timidness, excessive howling, etc., make it difficult to handle dogs in a daycare setting. To ensure that your dog is happy, safe, and satisfied with the daycare, you must ask the daycare managers what type of behavior is most challenging to manage in their environment.






Introduction of the new dog to the pack

Before you enroll your dog, ensure that your dog has a meeting with the managers of the daycare center. First, the dog should be kept in a room separate from other dogs. The introduction to the other dog should be done slowly and gradually. Following are the different methods of introduction:

You must remember to inquire about the criteria for determining whether the dog is enjoying himself or needs a break. A dog daycare trial can go on from a few hours to the period of an entire day, depending on the facility. Therefore, you should ensure that you have one whole day at hand when you go for the trial.


How to introduce your dog to a new pup

Safety features

I have already discussed this before. Fences should only be strong enough to allow the dogs to interact without the risk of fighting. Furthermore, they should be tall enough so the dog cannot escape. If your dog has a tendency to dig or climb the fence, let the managers know about this.

Another safety characteristic to check in a dog daycare facility is the double door entry system. Dogs should not be allowed to access the outer door that leads to the parking area. Instead, there should be a second gate or doorway. This way, even if the escapee dog crosses one doorway, he will be stopped before getting out of the facility altogether.

Treatment options

There can be any type of injury when your dog is in the daycare. These can range from a shredded paw pad to sprained ankle to bite or scratch wounds from the other dogs. Since dogs prefer to wrestle with their teeth and mouth, injuries during playtime are prevalent. Most often, the ears get chomped down on too hard during play.



Do they have a veterinarian on hand? Suppose they do not have a veterinarian who is a part of the dog daycare facility. How do they determine the severity of the injury and the treatment options? How long would it take to notify the guardian if the dog is hurt? How do they determine if the injury needs to be seen by the veterinarian? Do they have a facility for taking the dog to his regular veterinarian, or do they have a veterinary practice close by where they can take the dog in the case of emergencies? Before they transport the dog to the veterinary service, do they contact the dog’s specific veterinarian? Do they have enough staff members at hand so that when the dog is transported to the veterinarian, the other staff members can look after the dogs in the facility?



The doggy daycare will also ask you to sign paperwork that authorizes them to take care of your dog in the case of an emergency. You will also be required to clarify what medical decisions you give them the power to make in the case of emergency situations. If your dog is allergic to any medicine, you are responsible for providing such details to the managers.



The best dog daycare has proper certification


Certification from governing bodies

Since the industry of dog daycare is not regulated very well, anyone can open up a dog care center. However, having love and affection for canines is not a good enough criteria for keeping the dog safe and happy on a behavioral and physical level. Therefore, as a responsible guardian, you must check that the daycare facility has been certified by a professional dog care certification counsel.

Staff licenses

Find out if the staff has training in CPR and pet first aid, managing dog play, breaking up dog fights, reading the body language of the dogs, and various training methods. Only having a dog care certification is not enough. The staff must also be trained and have certifications regarding pet first aid, CPR, dog psychology, etc. You should also check if the doggy daycare center has a licensed dog trainer on site.

Training methods

Check if the dog daycare center uses aversive dog training methods like the shock collar, water hoses, shaker cans, hitting the dog with a newspaper, etc. Unfortunately, your dog will not be able to come back and tell you if he was hit by a newspaper or trained by using a shock collar. Thus, it falls on your shoulders to find out the training methods employed in the dog daycare. If the dog daycare uses aversive methods for dog training or disciplining, do not opt for such a daycare. Punishing a dog or using negative reinforcement to train a dog never works. It only makes the dog more aggressive. The only negative reinforcement method that should be allowed to use on dogs is no more games or timeouts. Nothing else should be allowed.





Everyday regime

Dogs required routine. Without routine, the dog can become aggressive and struggle with behavioral issues. When there is a routine in place, it helps in calming, relaxing, and reinforcing good behavior in the dog. Inquire with the daycare managers about what kind of daytime schedule they follow with the dogs. Some daycares have a designated nap time when all the dogs are in the kennel for a certain duration. Furthermore, to encourage the calmness and relaxation of dogs, the daycare centers may organize playtime with the staff during certain periods, or they may rotate the dog between the low-energy and high-energy sections. Such actions prevent overstimulation, tiredness, and physical harm in the case of dogs who would love to play all day.



Cleaning procedures in the facility

A responsible doggy daycare facility would be cleaned regularly with dog-safe materials for use with dogs around. Regular sanitation ensures that the disease transmission can be kept at a minimum level. Pooping on peeing accidents can happen inside, especially if the dog is submissive, fearful of new places, etc. Find out about the cleaning schedule of the daycare and what kind of chemicals they use. A well-functioning daycare center would be comfortable explaining their cleaning routine to ensure the health of all dogs. When you enter the facility, it should look spotless and odorless. It should not have any chemical smell.

Most doggy daycare centers follow the regime of cleaning the entire area once a week via veterinary-grade disinfectants. The veterinary-grade disinfectants are normally pet-safe and all-natural cleaning solutions.

Too much info?

It may seem like you have been burned with too much information to process all at once. However, you want to ensure that the place where your pup spends the maximum time of the day is protected and your pup is cared for. Transparency is crucial between the guardian and the managers of the daycare. You will not want to send your child to a school where your child is not kept safe and protected, right? It is the same when choosing dog daycare. Eventually, a doggy daycare will become a home away from home for your dog, especially if you are a single parent or have to work most days for long hours. Thus, knowing that your dog is safe and well cared for in the daycare would allow you to work in peace.

Since the above information may seem overwhelming, here is a list of questions for you to ask. This way, you won’t miss out on inquiring about any crucial information.

List of questions to ask the doggy daycare:

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Even if you do not need to send your dog to daycare right now, I would suggest that you check out all the doggy daycare facilities in your area and find the one best suited to your dog. This way, if an emergency situation arises where your dog needs to be boarded or kept in a daycare for the daytime, you will have fewer headaches with the daycare already finalized.

If you like watching dog care videos, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers YouTube channel, Shruti, and Delta. If you found this post insightful and want to know more about dog care, supplements, training, and psychology, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers, so I can send you notifications about the release of the new blog posts. Do not forget to ring the notification bell so that YouTube can notify you about the release of the new videos.

Does your dog go to dog daycare? What are the activities they have for the dogs? How did you finalize THE one for your pup? Please mention your experience in the comment section and share your experiences with the other concerned dog guardians. If you have any queries regarding dog care or stories you want me to share with the readers, feel free to reach out to me via email or any social media channels.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is daycare right for dogs?

Whether going to daycare is a good or a bad option for your dog will depend on your dog’s temperament, medical condition, and a variety of other factors like:
  • the type of daycare
  • the staff to dog ratio
  • What type of activities do they conduct with the dog regularly?
  • Are the activities safe for your dog to participate in?
And many others.
To know them all, read the blog post.

How to prepare your dog for dog daycare?

Find the correct type of daycare for your pup depending on the factors mentioned above. Have your dog’s medical details and vaccination card ready. If your dog has any behavioral issues, mention them to the daycare staff. Finally, have one full day of trial to check if your dog will be satisfied in the daycare.

Are dog daycares safe?

The safety of the dog daycare will have to be determined by you. When you check the daycare center, enquire about sanitation procedures, first aid options, training methods, dog division, dog to staff ratio, and etc. Having an idea of these factors will tell you if the daycare is the right one for your pup.

See you in my next blog post.


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