When you bring home a dog, you are naturally committed to its physical and mental well being. However, there often arises a situation where you are left wondering ‘what will I do with my dog’? That is where a dog boarding facility can come to your rescue. However, it is not always easy as several factors need to be considered before you choose a boarding facility or a dog daycare. Today I will discuss these factors along with important dog daycare tips to help prevent your pet from getting anxious at the facility.
Preparation is half the battle won
You need to prepare your dog from an early age to get her used to boarding and day care. Start with some basics:
Make sure that you get your puppy to meet people and other dogs. Some dogs are terrified of humans, particularly ones from a rescue or those with a history of abuse. However, a puppy is like a sponge. S/he will absorb what you teach it. Therefore, early socialization can help your pup adjust to other animals as well as humans. As soon as you bring your puppy home, get him/her to meet other adults, kids, puppies and older dogs. If you have kids, teach them to play structured games and activities with it. Also enroll him/her in basic obedience classes.(Important– Never let your puppy be around adult dogs unless it is fully immunized first.)
Crate trained dogs feel right at home, no matter where the crate is placed. Start with crate training for a few minutes first. Then slowly extend it to half an hour and slowly to an hour until your pet is sleeping in the crate through the night. Your pet will love it if you add a nice warm blanket, some chew toys and biscuits in the crate. Place some newspapers in for younger dogs that are likely to pee inside. It is best to get your pet to void outside right before entering the crate. I have discussed crate training in details here.
Choose the right boarding option
Before you select a boarding or day care facility, make sure you talk to a vet, breeders, dog handlers or friends having pets they board. Get recommendations about the right facility for your dog. There are variations when it comes to dog day care and dog hostel facilities. Some daycare facilities, for example, subject your dog to an assessment test. If they feel your dog is not suited for it, they may crate her for the entire day. Other facilities get you to list down special features about your dog especially his dietary needs, medical issues if any, and how s/he is around other dogs. Based on these inputs, they will house or board your dog with another dog that they feel will be compatible with your baby. Needless to say, you must visit several boarding hostels prior to zeroing on one.
Types of dog daycare facilities
Dog daycare facilities, as stated above, tend to vary greatly. It could be as simple as a dog walker coming to walk your pet twice a day or alone or with a group of dogs. Alternatively, there may be an upscale daycare facility which sends a car to pick Fido up in the morning where he spends his day in a pool with other dogs. There are also special services for dogs with special needs. These facilities cater to deaf, sick, senior dogs etc.
Important dog daycare tips to consider when selecting a facility
- Size up your dog-not in pounds but in personality. Consider his age, special needs and personality.
- Fearful and aggressive dogs both tend to bite; the former out of fear of other dogs or humans and the latter because of an instinct or history. Discuss these issues with the boarding facility so they can isolate or crate your pet if needed.
- Note that no dog care facility will allow your pet in if it has diarrhea or is sneezing
- Get recommendations-from vet, rescue shelters or dog owning people in your area about their firsthand experience with local dog boarders.
- Visit the facility alone first- Once you have shortlisted a dog hostel, visit it first without your pet distracting you.
- Get a complete tour of the facility. A staff member should be present to show you around. Be leery of centers where the members managing the dog daycare are reluctant to show you around.
- Ensure there is plenty of open area available-Ask questions like where do the pets relieve themselves? Is there adequate area for each boarded dog and the available space to play? Compare the ratio of dogs to the staff members.
- Make sure that the facility is close by- You certainly do not want to drive too far in search for a dog day care. This is especially the case if you plan to board the pet once or twice a week to get it used to boarding and for socialization purposes.
- Ensure that dogs are never left unattended.
- Use all your senses when touring the facility. Does the facility reek of dog feces, urine? Are you denied access in certain areas? Observe the dogs playing. Does any animal appear anxious?
- If needed, speak to the owner as well.
Dog day care risks
There are several risks when you decide to board your pet:
- An unspayed bitch is at a risk of pregnancy if she comes in heat during her stay. It can drive the male dogs crazy and many will try to jump over fences or escape to get to her. Many boarding facilities refuse to let a dog on heat board with them.
- Dogs can be at a risk of respiratory issues, eye allergies etc. CIRD or kennel cough is particularly common in dogs that are boarded at such facilities. Read my article on Kennel cough-tips for prevention and ways to treat it.
- Un-vaccinated dogs can be carriers of rabies and other serious diseases.
- Dogs often seem tired after staying in dog day care for a day or longer. Most dogs that are unaccustomed to boarding tend to not sleep at all during their stay. They usually get better in a day or two once they have had a good meal and sound naps in their familiar environment after coming back home.
- Dog anxious at daycare? This is a common complaint by owners. Anxiety can be reduced by getting your pet used to boarding. Get her to stay for a day each week before gradually increasing the time she spends at the facility. She will get used to the facility soon knowing the fact that you come back for her each evening.
Questions to ask the person managing the dog daycare center
- How long have you been in business?
- What sets your facility apart?
- Do you comply with state license and registration?
- Are you insured?
- Do you need certificates, registration information, and immunization and health records of my pet?
- What services do you offer and what are your costs?
- Is there a facility for overnight boarding stay?
- Who will be walking my pet? How many attendants are there?
- How can I keep abreast of my dog’s activities while s/he is at the center?
- I have a dog with special needs. How do you take care of such dogs? Who will administer medicine? What special precautions will you take for her/his care?
I hope these tips help you select the right dog daycare and ease the process.