Some suggested questions to ask your potential dog boarding or daycare facility:
- What kind of experience do their employees have with dogs in a pack environment?
- What makes them qualified to supervise a group of dogs at play?
- How do they introduce your dog?
Do they just throw them in with the other dogs or do they take the time to slowly integrate the new member and make certain that your dog is ready?
Is the dog play facility indoors or outdoors?
This is entirely up to you, both have their good points. Some dogs do better in an outdoors environment and won’t go potty indoors. Personally, I don’t care if my dog gets dirty, I just want them to have fun. However I do not want my dog getting used to going potty indoors. If the daycare is located indoors, do the dogs have access to the outdoors to relieve themselves?
- Where will the dogs sleep at night? If Free-Range, How do they choose your dogs’ roommates?
- What is the staff to dog ratio? (These requirements will vary with dog size and energy levels. 1:12 or 1:15 is okay as long as staff members are physically capable, experienced and carry radios so they can quickly get help if needed.)
- What is their maximum occupancy? (This should coincide with the staff to dog ratio)
- Does the staff provide both love and leadership?
The good dog daycare is a lot like the daycare for kids there are rules that must be reinforced such as no bullying, no humping & no biting. A good facility will offer both leadership and love.
- What kind of corrections do they use for bad or unwanted behavior? A good facility will tell you that the correction will vary depending upon the dog and the infraction. Some dogs respond very well to vocal corrections and some dogs will cower at a strong “No” If the staff can’t tell the difference, it may not be the right facility for your dog.
- Do they correct for excessive barking? If so how? Answers will vary from facility to facility. Some facilities use water and spray bottles on barking dogs. Some facilities use bark collars. Our facility chooses to use vocal corrections, gentle touches and body language to get our point across.
- Are there age/size/health requirements? Which Vaccinations are required? Are Titers accepted?
Titers are blood antibody tests performed by your veterinarian. (Great for dogs that are sensitive to or allergic to components used in vaccinations.)
- Are there Breed restrictions? If not than do they hold certain breeds to higher standards than others?
Not all of us like enforcing breed restrictions, but this is fair question… not all Pitt Bulls or Rottweilers are vicious animals, (very few are,) but they are big and strong and physically capable of causing injury; (As are Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers and even Standard Poodles.) It is important that the staff members be physically capable of separating dogs in case of an altercation. If they’re not physically capable of breaking up a conflict, they should enforce some type of breed or size restrictions and /or have additional staff to ensure safety.
- Do they require behavioral evaluations prior to accepting reservations? Accept recommendations from other facilities?
- What happens in the event that you can’t get there before closing time? Grace period? Extra fees? Is overnight care an option?
- Are the fences sturdy and secure? Easy to climb? (I once heard of a daycare in a busy area having their temporary fencing knocked over and all of the dogs running off into traffic!!!)
- What happens if your dog is injured? Do they have a relationship with a local veterinarian? What are their notification procedures and policies?
- Do they have a Dog Trainer on staff?
Having a Dog Trainer on staff is very helpful if unwanted or bizarre behaviors crop up during a boarding or daycare stay. An experienced trainer will know how to keep the problem from escalating.
- Do they require fecal tests? This helps protect your dog from being exposed to parasites and bacterial infections, of course this is not foolproof, but it is an added layer of protection.
- What is access like to the play yards? Are there several doors or gates between the play area and the outside world? Or can just anyone get in?
As you can see, the options for daycare and boarding are as vast as the breeds of dogs they serve. To find the facility that will best serve the needs of your dog, we recommend that you and your dog pay a visit to a couple different places. Observe your dog. He or she will let you know when you’ve found the one that best suits his idea of fun, as well as his personality and his physical and emotional needs.
These are not meant to be a “Black and White” list of correct answers… but a guideline… each dog is an individual and what’s right for one dog, may not be right for your dog… let your dog guide you on this one. Only he or she will know what truly makes them happy.
Kerri — The Alpha Dogs’ Wife
Steve & Kerri Pinkston own and operate Adventure Dog Ranch. A Free-Range, Boarding, Daycare and Training facility located in Marysville, WA. For more information about their facility please visit http://www.AdventureDogRanch.com