We love our dogs as our children, and often feel guilty leaving them at home for hours during the day, while we are at work.
As more and more people understand how much we love our dogs, I Heart Dog is happy to see the number of services that are expanding to cater for our furkids.
More and more Dog Day Care centres are making their way into suburbs around us, offering to give our dogs fulfilling and fun days, leaving our minds at ease while we are at work.
But, how do you choose the Dog Day Care Centre that is best for your pup? Here are some tips from I Heart Dog to help you ensure that your dog has a great, happy and safe time at Doggy DayCare.
1. How is the Dog Day Care centre set up?
One of the first things you must do is visit the Dog Day Care centre and determine if they cater for your dog.
Look for things such as non-slip flooring, that will stop dogs from injuring themselves as they run around and play. Are there different sections that cater for boisterous big dogs versus smaller dogs and timid or shy dogs or puppies? Do they have areas for the dogs to sniff around or toys to play with? One thing to watch out for is that there aren’t things the dogs can jump on and off as they are racing around, as this might cause injuries.
2. What are the staff like?
Check to see whether all the staff at the Dog Day Care centre have some sort of qualification or experience, from companion animal training to animal behaviour, or perhaps they have worked with working dogs before.
It is very important that the staff understand dog speak and dog group behaviour, to ensure they know when the dogs are getting too over-excited and need time out, or maybe when one dog is feeling upset or scared or overwhelmed.
Also, you need to ensure there is adequate supervision of the dogs at all times. For example, a Dog Day Care centre that looks after 40 dogs a day cannot only have two staff members with the dogs, because they can’t be watching all the dogs at once or tending to the needs of a particularly overwhelmed dog.
3. Are there emergency procedures?
I Heart Dog once asked a prospective dog day care centre whether any of the staff had canine first aid training (answer: no, they would “use their common sense”. Not good enough for me!).
Accidents and incidents will almost certainly happen – although you hope they never do. But, if something does happen at the Dog Day Care centre, will they be able to act quickly to reduce the negative impact?
For example, do any of the staff have canine first aid training or a veterinary background? Do they know where their closest veterinary surgery is and have they scoped out the emergency capacity of it? Do they have adequate first aid kits to deal with injuries? Do they have enough additional staff to care for the other furkids while dealing with an emergency? Do they have emergency procedures and indecent reports?
4. How responsible is the Dog Day Care centre?
Following on from Point 3, read their terms and conditions VERY closely. In the event of an accident or incident, when do they call you? Immediately? If they don’t call immediately, will they agree to do so if your pup is involved, so you can decide whether they should be left to handle it or whether you should make your way to your fur child straight away?
Do they ask you to relieve them of responsibility in the case of negligence (which seems standard in this day and age), but not for gross negligence? That is, where they seriously overlooked their basic responsibility to your fur child? Will they allow you to amend that clause, if you explain that you understand accidents happen so general negligence is fine but if it a complete failing of a duty of care to your pup, you expect them to take responsibility? Your Dog Day Care centre should feel so comfortable with their procedures and the quality of their staff, that they can accept the risk of gross negligence.
Note: you should consider seeking legal advice regarding terms and conditions; this blog isn’t intended to provide you with legal guidance.
Also, do they expect you to pay even when your dog doesn’t attend? For example, I Heart Dog would not object where we placed a last-minute cancellation because my pup didn’t seem to be feeling well, but not for the weeks that they have scheduled holidays (e.g. over Christmas) – and don’t accept the excuse that human child care centres still charge over holidays; Dog Day Care centres aren’t held to all the other standards that human child care centres are.
5. How do you and your dog feel?
Always go with your gut feeling.
Every time you enter and leave, check how both you and your fur child feel: do you both feel happy, relaxed and welcome?
Look for the signs in your dog: do they walk in with a confident manner, tail relaxed and mouth soft, eyes bright with not too much white showing? Do they greet the humans there enthusiastically? Do they bound up to you cheerily at the end of the day or do they instead race towards you look for a safe place?
Remember that of course some furkids may feel nervous or shy the first few times they go to day care, or be tired or well and truly ready for home time by the end of the day – so take these into account – but the most important thing is that your pup actually enjoys themselves, so ask questions of the staff and look for the signs that they may or may not be happy. Otherwise, they are probably better off at home, enjoying resting in their own peaceful surrounds.