Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Spot Goes Back to School –and Doggy Daycare

Although dog daycare has been around for over a decade now it is still a new concept to a lot of pet owners.   Most people don’t discover daycare until they need a place for boarding and find that a lot of boarding facilities offer daycare now.  Dog daycare can benefit you and your dog in many ways through socialization, exercise, and human interaction.  The majority of people use dog daycare for one of two reasons: They work long hours and hate to leave their dog home alone all day, or their dog has a LOT of energy to get out and daycare is the best option.  A socialized dog that gets the proper amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation is a better behaved dog, therefore making your life much easier at home after a long day at work.  So how does one go about finding the right daycare for their needs?
5 Things You Should Know About Dog Daycare
1.      What is Dog Daycare?
Dog daycare is just like child daycare, only, it’s for dogs.  You drop your dog off before work in the morning, let him participate in supervised play with other dogs, and then pick him up after work. 
2.      What can I expect from daycare?
All daycares will ask for current vaccinations, have you fill out an application, and have your dog go through a social interview to make sure he can handle the open-play environment.  Once he is playing with the other dogs you leave him for the day.  The facility may have web cams where you can watch him play from work, home, or while on vacation.  What your dog does at the daycare will depend on his personality (which usually changes once you’re not around).  Your dog may play all day, or he may nap all day.  Your dog may be totally filthy when you pick him up or he may be anxious to leave.  It all depends on his personality and previous experiences with other dogs.  
3.      What should I be looking for in a dog daycare?
 Most dog daycares offer the same basic services at their facility, but not all daycares are created equal.  Some facilities have indoor and outdoor play areas while others are only indoor.  Some daycares don’t have all day play, but instead they have designated playtime in assigned groups.   Just like a child’s daycare you need to do your research and find a facility that meets your top needs and expectations.  I feel the two most important things to look for in a daycare are cleanliness and a caring staff.  Dogs are naturally dirty and if a facility isn’t properly keeping up with the mess it can easily get out of hand and become a breeding ground for bacteria.  Other than daily sanitization, the staff should be constantly supervising and regularly interacting with the dogs.  Negligence only leads to disaster, which is why it is so important for staff to be correcting any ill behavior before it becomes a bigger problem.  And overall, you want staff that truly cares about dogs and their well being.  You want to feel confident that Coco will get her medication at the time she needs it or that Jake will get a nap with his favorite blanket.  These little details make all the difference when your dog is hurt or sick and needs a little extra care until you can reach them.
4.      Is my dog eligible for daycare?
Because of the nature of dog daycare, dogs are required to be current on vaccinations for Rabies, DHLPP (Distemper), and Bordetella.  Some facilities even require a fecal exam every six months.  Most facilities require your dog to be fixed after six months of age; meaning only spayed females or neutered males are allowed.  If a facility allows your unaltered dog, you should ask what a normal day will be like for him or her, to see how much playtime he/she will be participating in.  And lastly, a lot (but not all) of facilities have breed restrictions, which vary but generally apply to more aggressive breeds (i.e. German Shepherds, Pit bulls, Huskies, Bull Terriers, etc.).  
5.      Will my dog be safe at daycare?
Daycare is not for every dog or every dog owner.  Dogs can be rough and rowdy, so just like children at daycare your dog may get scratches or bruises from playing too hard.  And he will be exposed to any illnesses another dog may be carrying (especially “kennel” cough).  Again, staff should be constantly supervising play and sanitizing the facility to prevent incidents but not everything is avoidable.  It is something that comes with the territory, so if you are a paranoid pet parent then daycare may not be for you.  Also, be aware that daycare may not be structured enough for your dog, which can lead to new bad habits like fence fighting or other obsessive behaviors.
A short list of local daycares to help start your search:
Amber’s Luxury Pet Hotel, 9022 Pulsar Ct, Suite E, Corona 
Camp Ilene, 19060 State St., Corona
Camp Bow Wow Anaheim, 1431 N Daly St., Anaheim
Dogtopia of Temecula, 27629 Commerce Center Dr., Temecula
Riverwalk Pet Resort, 12111 Severn Way, Riverside
Ruff House Pet Resort, 3035 Chicago Ave., Riverside

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