What to look for in a doggy daycare
By HELEN PALMER
Every once in a while, you hear someone say, “I wish I could work at home.” Well, here’s an idea that comes from the large cities: “Doggie Daycare.” However, I will immediately say that this home-based business is not for everyone. It is strenuous and requires constant supervision and concentration as you will see in a moment.
Now, true “doggie daycare” is not like boarding your dog for the day at a boarding kennel. I do that every once in a while and my dog comes home energized, happy and ready to settle down at home. Why? Because for the entire day he has had not only freedom to roam around a nice large grassy exercise yard, he is stimulated by the presence of the other dogs and interacts through the fencing. No sleeping from boredom when he visits his boarding kennel for the day.
Doggie daycare businesses run on a schedule similar to human daycare establishments. The dog arrives and is checked in. Then it is placed in a holding pen while other dogs are brought in. Once the attendance is complete, the dogs are released into a large area where there are play toys and obstacles to play on. New dogs are introduced individually to each regular member before being released. (All prospective applicants are carefully screened for previous training and socialization and a few might be turned away if they appear incompatible).
As the dogs play, a caregiver will start taking each dog out for a “potty break” to reinforce housebreaking training and to keep the play area clean. While this is going on, the other dogs are carefully supervised by another caregiver or trainer who might encourage individual dogs to try climbing the dog walk or climbing up and going down a slide.
With playtime and break over, the dogs are given a rest period while individuals, whose owners requested grooming, get brushed and those signed up for obedience training or show handling get some practice. This might be followed by a light snack and another walk outside before being released in the play area again.
As you can see, “doggie daycare” is a busy job and it is relatively expensive depending on the extras requested. Once the dogs leave at the end of the day, the handlers need to complete the paperwork on each dog and clean the premises for the next day.
Dogs enrolled in daycare even for one or two days a week are better behaved and better socialized than the average stay-at-home dog. If you are choosing a daycare for your pet, be careful. Watch for and avoid overcrowded schools, places with only one person in charge so dogs are left unattended, or places unable to meet the dog’s needs for special food or medication. Look for an enriched curriculum, a clean, safe environment and knowledgeable, caring staff.