Maybe your days of working from home are over and you don’t want to leave your dog home alone. Or maybe you feel that your dog needs to be around other dogs during the day. Whatever your reason for trying to find a daycare for your dog, we know how important choosing doggy daycare is to pet parents. You need to feel confident and comfortable when you drop her off for the day.
In addition to this, many daycare facilities also offer boarding services. Choosing a great daycare may also help you find a great boarding facility. With Memorial Day and the start of summer just around the corner, you may be boarding your dog while you’re on vacation. This process will be a lot easier on your dog if she’s already comfortable with the facility and knows the staff.
If you’re going through the process of choosing doggy daycare in San Diego County, keep reading to see all of our tips! (And if you’re not located in San Diego County, these tips apply as well 😉)
What To Keep in Mind When Choosing Doggy Daycare
Your Dog’s Personality
Some dogs just aren’t cut out for situations that force them to socialize with other dogs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s necessary to know your dog’s personality when you’re considering or choosing doggy daycare. If your dog doesn’t have the right personality or temperament for daycare, instead of having days full of fun and joy, she’ll have anxiety and stress. This can impact her health and safety as well as the health and safety of the dogs she’ll be around.
If you’re considering daycare, your dog should be sociable, outgoing, and do well with other dogs. Think about how she behaves at the dog park; does she love playing and running around with the other dogs? If the answer is yes, she’ll probably have a great time at doggy daycare!
Your dog’s activity level will also indicate whether or not she’ll enjoy daycare. If she’s fairly active and enjoys playing, daycare may be a great option. Daycare is generally a place where dogs will spend the day running around and playing with each other and the staff, so if your dog isn’t particularly playful, this may not be a great fit for her.
If you find a facility that meets your requirements for your dog but are unsure if your dog will enjoy daycare, you may be able to get a free day of daycare. After a day of daycare, the facility staff may provide you with a report and let you know if they feel daycare is a good fit for her. Her behavior will also be an indicator. She should be happy and tired, not tired from agitation or stress.
She should be happy and excited and to be dropped off at daycare. If she doesn’t want to enter the facility and seems stressed out, you may want to rethink things. This could either mean that daycare isn’t the right option for her or that the facility isn’t the right fit.
How Safe is Doggy Daycare?
When choosing doggy daycare, you’ll need to research and check every individual facility you’re considering. Each facility is different and you can’t just assume that every one is safe or unsafe.
A great way to determine the safety of a facility is to take a tour. If the facility doesn’t allow in-person tours during hours of operation, don’t worry. This is common because having new people going in and out of the facility can cause stress or overexcitement in the dogs. However, the facility should allow you to tour the facility outside of these hours, tour the facility virtually, watch a live webcam during operation, or show you videos and photos of a typical day.
You should look for the following during your tour, some of which may be easier to examine during an in-person tour than a virtual one.
- Examine all walls, floors, and bowls to ensure that the environment is hygienic, safe, and properly sanitized.
- Enclosures proper fencing that is strong enough to withstand the weight of doggy clients and high enough that they can’t jump over it.
- If the play areas are enclosed, there should be proper ventilation for the dogs.
- Enclosures should also feature double gating. This provides a space for new dogs to get acclimated before joining the rest of the pack.
- Enclosures should also include non-slip flooring to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Any areas where dogs will be shouldn’t have cords.
- An appropriate dog-to-staff ratio.
- Find out what training is provided or required for all staff members who handle dogs.
This may seem like a lot, but a good daycare will be more than willing to thoroughly answer your questions and discuss policies, pack management methods, and training philosophy. If a facility does not allow tours at all and avoids answering your questions, you should consider this a red flag.
The staff-to-dog ratio of a facility is important when choosing doggy daycare, but an appropriate ratio varies depending on the activity level of the dogs being supervised. The following are appropriate ratios, according to the Pet Care Services Association.
- Moderate activity levels: one staffer per 15 dogs
- High activity levels: one staffer per 10 dogs
- Low activity levels: one staffer per 20 dogs
If a facility’s ratio is less than this, that’s great! But for the safety of the dogs, it should not exceed these guidelines.
Methods for Grouping Dogs
It makes sense for dogs to grouped based on their size, but dogs’ activity levels and play styles should also be taken into consideration. When choosing doggy daycare, you should inquire about the facility’s grouping methods.
For example, while small dogs and young puppies may be the same size, their levels of activity may not be the same. Because of this, grouping these dogs together simply based on size may be inappropriate. Small or medium-sized dogs may do well with larger dogs if their energy levels, personalities, and play styles match.
As mentioned above, the training of a daycare facility’s staff is an important consideration when choosing doggy daycare. However, you may be wondering what kind of training daycare staff should have.
At the very minimum, any staff members that handle dogs should understand body language, signs of stress, and basic animal care. However, the best doggy daycare facilities will likely require or provide training in the following areas as well.
- Pet first aid and CPR
- Reading body language
- Managing dog play
- How to prevent and break up fights
Daycare staff should not only have current certification but they should be provided with continuing education as well.
It may also be a good idea to ask how the staff would respond to a dog engaging in bad behavior. The answer should not include physical punishment, aversives, intimidation, or other dominance-based methods. Before leaving your dog at any facility, make sure you’re comfortable with their training philosophy and methods!
Many daycares apply for certification from the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC). Even if the daycare you’re considering is not certified by this or another organization similar to it, you can use the standards of these organizations to decide if you feel comfortable choosing that facility.
Other Things to Ask About
Here are a few other things to inquire about and take into consideration when going through the process of choosing doggy daycare for your dog.
- Vaccine requirements. Illnesses can spread quickly when dogs are in as close of an environment as daycare. Making sure all attendees are vaccinated is important for the health of all the dogs.
- Spay and neuter requirements. For safety reasons, a daycare may not accept dogs that have reached sexual maturity and have not been spayed or neutered. It’s all about making sure that the pack is safe and if a prospective daycare is taking this into consideration, you know they care about their dogs!
- What is the daycare trial process? There should be a process and protocol for introducing new dogs to the pack. If there is no protocol, this may be a bad sign.
- What happens if my dog is injured during daycare? While any reputable daycare will do everything in its power to keep dogs safe and injury-free, accidents can happen. The facility should have a plan in place to deal with this and they should let you know everything it entails.
- Is there a routine or schedule for the dogs? Having a routine for dogs can help them stay calm, relaxed, and avoid acting out. Even if the daycare itself doesn’t have a specific routine, the pack may have developed its own routine that all dogs follow and it’s good to know ahead of time to determine if this works for your dog.
- Cleaning protocols. A good daycare will be willing to tell you how often the daycare area is sanitized and what products are used. The daycare area should also look and smell clean when toured, but it shouldn’t smell like chemicals either.
This list may feel overwhelming because it includes so much information, but when leaving your dog in the hands of others, it’s crucial to make sure he’ll be safe, happy, and well taken care of.
Choosing Doggy Daycare in San Diego County? Fon Jon Pet Care is Here to Help!
At Fon Jon Pet Care, our dog daycare and boarding campers are always treated with love and care. We want your dog’s stay with us to be as relaxing and enjoyable as possible so Fon Jon can feel like her home away from home!
Our unique daycare facility is perfect for your camper to spend their day outside running around and playing with other dogs! Daycare campers are monitored all day so we can keep an active and safe environment. Our outdoor play yard is very spacious and has a park-like setting, offering a variety of ramps, kiddie pools, and other fun-filled activities available for them all day!
We also offer a day of free dog daycare for first-time campers. Bring your pup over for a day to find out if Fon Jon Pet Care is the right fit!
We have more than 70 years of experience providing top-quality dog boarding, grooming, daycare, and training in San Diego County. Visit our website or call us at (858) 490-2117 to learn more about our dog daycare options, like private dog daycare, and our requirements. You can also make easily make an appointment online!