Doggy Day Care is a fantastic option for dog owners who work long hours, have particularly social or high-energy dogs, or for dogs who don’t like to be left alone. Day care for dogs operates just like day care for children – centres have a space where you can drop off your dog before work and pick them up from afterwards. Dogs will be supervised during the day, usually in a group with other dogs, and offered structured play time and nap time. Some centres might include walks in the schedule and even offer add-on grooming or training services.
Many dogs love day care and it can become the highlight of their week! Your dog might actively look forward to the days when you go off to work and they get to have a fun-filled day with all their friends. For a relaxed and social dog, day care is a great opportunity to burn some energy and get some great socialisation.
There are a variety of set-ups for doggy day care, ranging from small groups of regular dogs through to very large centres where dogs might rotate through different groups and meet different dogs each week. Some centres allow flexible pick-up & drop-off times or last-minute bookings, whereas others might need you to commit your dog to a regular slot and might book out quickly. Most day care centres will ask your dog to do a trial session before allowing them to become a regular, to ensure your dog is happy and social around other dogs and doesn’t find the experience too overwhelming.
Day care doesn’t suit every dog and should never be a replacement for good training and socialisation. If your dog doesn’t like play with other dogs, is very scared, or can be dog aggressive, then day care is not a good option for them. It is important to work with a qualified dog trainer to help them overcome their fears if your dog is facing any of these challenges. Dog walkers or dog minding services might be a better option for these dogs who need more one-on-one care.
Questions to ask before choosing a doggy day care centre:
How many dogs are in one group and how do staff assess the suitability of each dog?
How many staff will be supervising the group, and what are their qualifications/experience?
Will my dog be alone at any time?
Can my dog do a trial day to see how they find it?
Are large and small dogs grouped separately?
Are puppies or older dogs grouped separately?
What is the space my dog will spend the day in? Big indoor space/Individual kennel/Outdoors?
Are all the dogs required to be vaccinated and flea treated?
What happens in the event of a dog fight or medical emergency? Does the centre work with a local vet clinic?
Just like children’s day care centres, it is common for kennel cough or other viruses to go around at doggy day care. If you think your dog might have a cough, diarrhoea or any other illness, it is always best to keep them home from day care until they have veterinary clearance to go back, to help minimise the risk of spread to their doggy friends!
A great day care centre that your dog loves can bring you peace of mind when you have commitments away from home and can't bring your dog along. Knowing your pet is being safely supervised and stimulated can help you both get the most out of your lifestyle.