Doggy Day Care

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Filed in Dogs, Getting a New Puppy/Dog

Doggy Day Care is a wonderful service which is finding great popularity among pet owners across the United States. Doggy Day Care provides pets with a safe, fun and supervised place to be while their owners are at work. With enough room to play and other canine pals to play with, the time that dogs used to spend alone can easily become an energetic, happy time.

Why Doggy Day Care?

There are a variety of reasons why pet owners choose to use a day care facility for their pets. In many cases, the owner works hours that don't lend themselves to responsible dog ownership. Dogs need to be walked to relieve themselves and need some exercise throughout the day and people who work outside the home need a way to meet that need. Unless you can run home at your lunch break to walk the dog and play a quick game of fetch, you might want to look into doggy day care as a solution.

Other reasons for using doggy day care might include medical conditions that need attention during the work-day. If your dog is on a medical regime that requires medicine in the middle of the day, then day care might be an ideal temporary solution for you.

Another common reason for using a day care center is separation anxiety. Many dogs have bad reactions to being left alone. Ranging from destroying furniture to defecating in the house to howling non-stop until you return. These behaviors quickly become serious problems, for both you and your pet. For you, they become expensive and irritating. For your pet, they are signs of inner anguish that is unhealthy if left unresolved. For the dog with separation anxiety, doggy day care is an ideal solution for everyone involved!

Who can use Doggy Day Care?

While a few individual centers may have specific restrictions (e.g. specific types of dogs, only obedience trained dogs, etc) there are few standard restrictions, other than health restrictions for most dog day care centers.

Normal health restrictions include that you must show proof that your dog is current on all shots. Puppies must have had their first set of vaccinations before they are allowed to attend most centers. Some centers require shots for "Bordetella" (kennel cough). You must ask your veterinarian specifically for a Bordetella vaccination as it may not be part of the normal vaccination/shot regime. Most centers mandate that your dog must be on some kind of flea control system before entering their population.

"You Better Shop Around"

If you've decided that doggy day care is definitely for you, do some comparison shopping before you settle on a center for good. An on-site visit is an absolute must so that you can check out the cleanliness, attitude and "aura" of the centers on your list.

  • Location, Location, Location: Most people will find location to be of primary importance. The morning routine of getting kids to school and parents to work can be pretty hectic without having to shlep across town to the doggy day care center. Look for a center that's geographically convenient. Keep in mind that some centers have pick-up and drop-off services too!
  • Cost: The cost for doggy day care varies greatly. Keep in mind that some centers are "bare bones" while some provide extra services like extended or holiday hours, medicine administration, and even flea control therapy. Try to find a center with a mix of options which suit your needs (see below). Also, find out about payment options. Most centers have daily, weekly, and monthly rates.
  • Services: Think ahead to other services your pet may need in the future. For example, it would be least disruptive to your pet if he were to go to the same dog care center when your family goes on vacation, so finding a center with boarding/kennel services too would be great.  If your center also runs a grooming business, then an occasionally grooming while your pet is "at school" may be a nice treat for you both. Do you have a "special needs" pet? Puppies and geriatric pets are often considered "special needs". Many centers have special accommodations, including separate rooms and quiet/less-active care. What about medical needs? Sure your pet may be fine now, but you never know when your pet may need lunch time medication, so finding a center who can go past "bare bones" and administer medications can be important.
  • Reputation: Ask the center for references from other clients. Many centers are run by people with established reputations in the field of dog training, care and behavior. These tried and true professionals are your best bet. You may also want to check with your vet to see if the center has a professional reputation in the area. Check with the consumer protection agencies in your area about licensing information.
  • Timing: Many day care centers have specific drop-off and pick-up times. Make sure you're clear on those times before settling a deal.
  • Health & Safety: Your main concern is the health and safety of YOUR dog. Make sure the center has a standard policy for dealing with aggressive dogs or dogs with illnesses/conditions. Check with your vet to see if there are any health concerns about which you should be aware before entering your pet into a community of other dogs.

Whether you're hoping to solve separation anxiety problems, want more socialization for your dog or just want Rover to have a nice day while you're at work, Doggy Day Care can be a great option for your pet and your family!

Summary
  • Doggy Day Care can be an important part of a treatment for separation anxiety.
  • Your pet needs care during the work day -- lack of walks and exercise can effect his health and temperament.
  • Do your homework before choosing a center and make sure an on-site visit is part of your research.
  • Ask about the reputation of the center before joining. Check with your vet, other clients and consumer agencies in your area.
  • Try to choose a center which offers a variety of services. Your pet has needs which will change as he grows.
  • Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all shots and that he is on a flea control program.
  • Your main concern is the health of your pet, make sure the center has a policy for dealing with aggressive dogs and dogs with illnesses.

d Kelly is a freelance writer, educator, and dog lover living in Florida.

Michael Levy is co-owner of Pet Food Express with more than a decade of professional dog training experience.

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