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Is Doggie Daycare right for my dog?

Updated: May 10, 2022

If you answer yes, to either of the 2 questions below, you need to read this blog, for both you and your dog!

- Have you thought about sending your dog to daycare?

- Do you send your dog to daycare?

This is a blog about doggie daycare, and is in no way to put you off going to one, but to make you MORE AWARE before doing so. Just like spaying and neutering your dog, if people knew more about it, they wouldn’t make the wrong choices. Knowledge is power! I often suggest local daycares to clients, but the pieces of the puzzle must first fit. I personally like daycare’s, if used as a balanced exercising routine, off property time, and as a learning and confidence building activity. But it is NOT just a place for your dog to burn energy, and if you solely use it for this purpose, you should think twice. If I put you in a lion’s den, you would burn energy, as you ran and fought for your life! Then, when I collected you, you would pass out due to the mental and physical stress of the day! Probably not the best way to burn energy. Most owners see their dogs like children, and are very much loved & cared for as family members. So, you wouldn’t just send your child to just 'any school'. Therefore, you need to be aware of certain things to look out for, when choosing the right daycare. We don’t just send our kids to the closest school, so we shouldn’t do it for our dogs either, and here’s why.

Daycare is not for every dog

If your dog has any form of anxiety, fear, aggression, a nervous disposition, reactivity, is unsocialised, over friendly or has poor manners, the daycare environment may exasperate these behaviours even further, or simply not be safe for yours, or another dog. There are of course dogs who have a behaviour outside of daycare, but don’t display it in there. You would need to look into that more deeply to understand better why that is. If your dog is slightly older, they may become easily distressed, in such a hectic environment. A tired dog coming home after daycare, doesn't always mean they are tired from playing with other dogs all day, it could in fact mean they’re overly stressed with the place they go to, the dogs that are there, the running and playing is actually running to get away, the barking wasn’t because they’re bold, it’s because they were stressed, or even being away from you and the whole experience is too much or overwhelming. I also need to know, that whoever is responsible for the care of my dog (best friend), can recognise all the signs and signals of a fearful, frustrated, nervous, anxious, ill mannered, distressed, aggressive, resource guarding, boisterous, or overzealous dog. Can the staff where you send your dog? And how do they deal with those dogs and situations? There should be laid out plans in place to deal with such behaviour or examples, so ask what they are. For me, they need to have more than just a ‘I love dogs’ approach or a few years’ experience. One bad or negative interaction or experience, could set you and your dog back years, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about your own dog’s ability to cope with daycare, and how the local daycare’s deal with certain things. They SHOULD be happy to tell and help you. I have seen many examples of behavioural changes, from dogs who have had negative experiences and been left traumatised, by their experiences in such places. Some of these are not the facilities fault, and some most certainly are. Another example is for puppies. A puppy needs the right age socialisation, and if it’s primary exposure with dogs, is of 20 dogs running, barking, rough play fighting and jumping crazily around, well guess what dog you’re going to have at home and when it meets another dog.... ALL OF THE ABOVE. Lots of dogs then when they are on the lead, can get frustrated when they meet a dog on the walk. This might be because they can’t go over and see them how they would in the daycare. Not only does this lead to your life being harder, as they pull you every time they see a dog, but your super friendly dog, is now a dangerous dog, as their behaviour at the end of the lead can make the other dog very defensive, as the behaviour your dog is displaying is not the doggie code of conduct or following doggie etiquette. Finally, after this current extended period of time, with your dog’s being home with you 24/7 due to covid, & most likely having minimal interactions with other dogs, it’s even more important for you to gradually build up your dog’s socially, around other dogs before thrusting them straight back with 20+ dogs. Of course, there will be some dogs, who will slot straight back in and that’s great, but if you’re reading this blog, then you may have some concerns about your dog or daycare. Dogs can often forget how to socialise. A dog’s behaviour can change, especially with no socialising, interactions or simply over time as they develop and grow. There are a number of daycares around Co. Kerry, & I personally have not been to or seen any of these daycares yet. I therefore cannot comment on those so please do your own research.

Things to look for and enquire about before attending a daycare:

✅ What dog qualifications such as canine behaviour/communication, body language/care of animal quals are held and what type of background experience do they have?

✅ How are the dogs evaluated and by who?

✅ What is the integration process?

✅ When are there breaks in the play if any?

✅ Are they kenneled/crated on breaks or is it a cage free daycare?

✅ Certain dogs should be in different play groups, from size, age and temperament, do they do this?

✅ What feedback do they give at the end of the day?

✅ What are their protocols for fights?

✅ Are the staff qualified in canine first aid and CPR?

✅ What games/stimulation activities do they do?

✅ How many staff per dog is it? It should be around 15 dogs per 1 staff MAX (Less the better really).

✅ How big are group sizes and where can they relax?

✅ Ask about their vaccination protocol, ALL should ask for full vaccinations including kennel cough.

✅ Some daycares will allow you a short period to observe your dog, or through cameras if fitted.

If the facility doesn’t do any of these or won’t talk to you about them, I would think twice about sending your dog there. I am responsible for my dog, and I of course want the best for them, but the above are BASIC necessities of any facility! Research before simply sending your dog to any daycare, & don't be afraid to ask questions. Make sure your dog is right for a daycare setting, & you‘re not sending them for the wrong reasons. Often, as an alternative or change, a 1 to 1 walk with a dog walker (or you) can suit the dog more than a mad house. Finally, there are PLENTY of good points about daycare centres for the right dogs in the right environment. This blog, is to simply make you the owner more aware of potential implications and what to look out for. Hopefully, this helps you. If you are unsure if your dog is suited for daycare, your daycare or potential daycare, I’m sure they would be happy to help.

Thank you


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