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An Expert Guide to Choosing the Best Doggy Daycare

Monday February 6th 2017

Where will my pup stay? What does it cost? How much exercise will my dog get? There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right people to mind your beloved pooch.

Like it or not, most of us have to work and that means you need to make arrangements for your dog to be looked after during working hours. If you’re considering doggy daycare, then we have some useful information, tips and suggestions that may help you make your choice…

What is doggy daycare?

In short, doggy daycare is a canine version of a children’s crèche. Usually, after being dropped off in the morning, dogs spend the day at a specialist premises and are then collected by their owners in the afternoon or evening.

It’s different to boarding kennels, in that the dog doesn’t stay overnight and the daycare centres offer more than just accommodation, encouraging dogs to exercise, play and learn during their stay. This added focus and a variety of environments keep the mutts entertained and engaged, aimed at promoting happier hounds.

How much does it cost?

The price of doggy daycare varies depending on the area you live in, the size and breed of dog and the calibre of the facilities they offer.

For instance, a home-run centre that uses local parks may offer a much cheaper rate than a specialised facility with lots of land, a swimming pool etc. And the high rents of city centres mean urban facilities often impose higher charges than centres in more rural areas.

Typically, a day’s care can cost from £10 to £30 and upwards for more luxurious facilities.

Top tip: Some facilities offer discounts for more than one dog, or offers on block bookings that bring down the daily rate. Make sure you check what discounts are available before making a decision on whether or not it’s affordable for you.

What are the benefits?

As well as being a good solution for busy owners, offering added peace of mind that your dog is being cared for while you’re at work, there are other advantages to doggy daycare.

They encourage your pooch to:
• Get more exercise – Providing an outlet to burn off all that energy and give more frequent opportunities to stay fit and healthy.
• Be less destructive – Being active throughout the day means your pooch is less likely to be destructive at home.
• Socialise – Exposure to other dogs and access to qualified handlers will train your pup how to behave around other animals.
• Learn new skills – Some centres offer dog obedience classes, and skilled trainers will provide this as a matter of course.

What are the pitfalls?

Filling your dog’s day with fun activities and lots of running about with its furry friends, can seem like a dream come true. Though there are some potential drawbacks to be aware of…

• Picking up bad habits – An ill-behaved dog will lead a poor example to your well-trained pup. It could also lead to your pooch becoming dominant and aggressive, and trying to mark its territory.
• Exposure to illnesses – While most facilities should be checking its clients are up-to-date with their vaccinations, infections and viruses can spread quickly in close proximity, particularly kennel cough Click here
• Emotional problems – Not every dog’s personality is identical and some can suffer anxiety as a result of being in an unusual place or around other animals
• Dietary mix-ups – If your pup is on a special diet or is under/overweight, then a nutritional regime can be hard to maintain when a centre has lots of other dogs to feed and look after

Do they have a licence?

Daycare for dogs is classified under animal boarding legislation and it’s against the law for any business not to carry a licence.

The licence – and any conditions that apply to it – should be prominently displayed on the premises, and if they’re not, then you should ask if you can see them.

As well as providing an added assurance that the establishment and its services are of a high standard, the licence provides a guarantee that the person running the daycare hasn’t been convicted of an animal welfare offence that would lead to a ban on housing animals.

Not having a licence can carry a prison sentence of up to three months, a fine, or both.

Does daycare teach obedience?

Some companies offer “in house” obedience training as standard as part of the service you pay for. However, others do charge for this as an added extra.

If you would like your pooch to learn new skills or behaviours during the day, then make sure you know whether this is offered and whether there’s an added charge.

Are there any restrictions?

The welfare and happiness of the dogs should be the number one priority of any centre. For this reason, they may impose a criteria of suitability on dogs they are willing to look after, and often impose some restrictions.

These can include:
• No puppies – an unvaccinated pup should not be exposed to other dogs until it’s had its first two vaccinations
• No aggressive hounds – playtime and exercise often takes place in groups, and dogs that are inclined to snap or get aggressive
• Sizes – some centres specialise in small dogs or alternatively only cater for larger breeds

What exercise activities take place?

The law says that your dog should be “regularly exercised” when in the care of a canine daycare centre.

Specific licence conditions vary by local authority, so it’s important to ask directly about the physical routines the centre has, so you have an idea of what types of exercises your hound will be undertaking and for how many minutes each day.

Are there any financial penalties?

Like childcare, some centres impose penalties for missed days or lateness. Check what these charges are and make sure you have any promised flexibility in writing, so that you don’t end up with an unexpected bill if you are struck down with the lurgy or get delayed in a traffic jam.

Can you have a tour?

A good centre should be upfront and honest about the facilities it offers. If they’re cagey about showing you around then you should be wary about entrusting your beloved pooch in their care.

Ask if the centre offers a virtual tour, or whether the facility has live webcams for owners to check-in on their four-legged friend.

How many staff do they have?

As well as determining the staff-to-dog ratio, knowing whether the centre has enough staff to cover holidays and sickness should be an essential consideration, as making last-minute arrangements can be tricky and expensive.

If you’re going on holiday and looking for a centre that provides overnight boarding, here’s some expert advice on choosing a kennelClick here