Daycare for your dog is the newest trend. With new facilities popping up everyday, and each offering different services; it can be hard establishing the best fit for you and your furry companion. Well, we are here to help!
We all want whats best for our dogs, and daycare can be a wonderful addition to your dogs weekly schedule. A good daycare can fulfill a dogs social, mental and physical needs; leaving you with one tired, fulfilled dog. A fulfilled dog is a good dog…right?
So how do you determine the best place for your dog? First you need to decide what your daycare expectations are.
- Do you want a one stop shop (boarding, daycare, training and grooming)?
- Do you want your dog to have access inside and outside freely? (Did you know some places don’t have a outside area!)
- Is it important that the play group is supervised; if so what staff to dog ratio is appropriate to you?
- Do you want a daycare that has equipment and activities for your dog, or is just a open space to socialize and play enough?
- Do you want your dog to go for walks?
- Do you want your dog to work on basic obedience skills while at daycare?
Personally I tell people to stop by a prospective business and check the place out, get a feel for the staff and the atmosphere, ask questions. Yes, majority of places ask you pre-book a meet and greet; However I believe in transparency; A daycare that does not allow a client to view the area, leaves a bad taste in my mouth (personally). Here at Four on the Floor have a open door policy. You are more then welcome to stop by whenever to take a peek through our window in our daycare, and chat up the staff (if they have time). For a full introduction we will ask you to book a meet and greet (free of charge). This way we can give you our undivided attention. Answering questions, going over everything about our daycare, programs and services, handling protocols, activities, and waivers. During the meet and greet we will ask you a variety of questions about your dog, and introduce your dog to a couple of our mentor dogs. During the introductions we will be able to observe their body language, interactions and behaviors to ensure daycare is a fit.
Not all dogs are a fit for daycare and the highly stimulated environment, and that is okay. Just like not all people like crowds. I found this article to be helpful in determining if your dog is a fit for the daycare environment. The last thing you want is to have your dog in a place that they just don’t want to be, or that will effect their mental well-being. A good daycare will be 100% transparent and honest about your dogs experience and their recommendations. We (Four on the Floor) have a modified program for dogs that need a bit more one-on-one attention from the handlers. This is our first step before dismissal. We like to try and work with the dog and owners before determining if the environment is a fit or not. Majority of the time, the dogs just needs some extra one on one time to feel comfortable. Our behavioral program is tailored for dogs that are overly excitable, and shy dogs that need some practice with their social skills.
Alright, alright…I did say ask questions…So after determining exactly what you want out of a daycare for your pal, it’s time to come up with some questions. Here’s my personal list:
- Is your play group staffed? What is the approximate staff to dog ratio? “Our play groups and ALWAYS supervised! 12:1 Dog to staff ratio.
- Do you monitor play? What is your handling? ” We are constantly monitoring play styles (no bullying) and watching ques. We use a variety of force free techniques to redirect the dogs attention away from whatever they were focused on.”
- Do you kennel dogs? “We do! Kenneling (more like a large run) is crucial for downtime and help bring those adrenaline and cortisol levels down. Some dogs do not self regulate and give themselves a break. The last thing you want is them continuing to practice behaviors in a constant high excited state (no-one wants a adrenaline junkie). Did you know, a hyper aroused brain is poorly responsive to learning and memory. Some of the dogs just need some one on one downtime, away from the group. In this case we like to pair them with handler and take them outside for a small walk or obedience work.”
- Do dogs have access outside? “Our facility has a full bay inside (heated) with a dog door with full access to outside (fenced). We allow our dogs to have full range of both the bay and outdoors. Both areas are staffed and monitored. Our outside area has artificial turf and a variety of play equipment (as well as a fenced pool for summertime fun).”
- Do the dogs get to go for walks or participate in activities? “Personally we believe in mental stimulation and physical. Some dogs will only play with a selective dogs and selective times. So we like t ensure each dog is getting a fun experience. We provide a variety of activities such as scent work, obstacle courses, water fun, bubbles, bobbing for apples and carrots, obedience activities, weight pulling, bike riding, off leash and on leash adventures, group walks and so much more. Bonus! No extra cost!”
- Is your staff certified? “A variety of our staff hold their canine CPR and first aid. Others are proud of their participation in a variety of canine seminars on force free handling, body language and canine communication, behavior and training. Our founder/owner/trainer Rhonda Labas, has years of education and schooling under her belt, completing a variety of certifications. We don’t believe in paying subscriptions for memberships that are not government regulated. We rather put our money into educating and training.”
- Do you require proof of vaccines? Updated vaccines are crucial for your dog, especially if they are around other dogs (daycare, kennel setting and yes, even the dog park!
So there you have it! I hope this article makes your decision a bit easier when choosing a daycare for your furry pal.