Pet Day Care and Boarding
There comes a time in most every dog “parent’s” life when we need to entrust our dog’s care to somebody else
Maybe you’re taking a vacation and can’t bring Fido along. Or you’re having some construction done at home and worry that Fifi won’t deal with the commotion very well. Or maybe you just need a break every once in a while - you can’t give Spot the exercise he needs and he’s driving you crazy!
Some supervised doggy playtime during the day might be just what you (and Spot) need. Whatever the reason, forming a relationship with a professional day care/boarding facility can be very important throughout the life of your dog. The key is finding a place you can trust. After all, your dog is a member of your family and you’re not about to leave her with just anyone. So…how do you choose?
Typically, the term “boarding” refers to overnight services which usually involve multiple day “stays” at the facility. Many boarding facilities will also walk your dog, and offer supervised doggy play time and other enrichment activities. “Day care” typically describes supervised doggy play groups and enrichment activities for dogs during the day - much like day care services for children. Dogs attending doggy day cares usually go through an “interview” process to ensure that they play nicely with other dogs and doggy parents can utilize day care services as frequently or infrequently as they choose. Today, most boarding facilities offer day care services as well.
Tips from MHS on Selecting a Doggy Day Care or Boarding Facility
- Ask for a tour to ensure the facility is clean and the dogs are housed in safe enclosures (if you are denied the opportunity to see where the dogs are actually kenneled, go someplace else)
- Some places provide a web cam service that allows you as a parent to observe exactly what your dog is doing, giving you peace of mind that the facility is delivering on its promise.
- If necessary, do they administer medications and if so, how do they track them?
- Are the dogs allowed to play? If so, for how long and how are they monitored, what is the “dog to human supervisor” ratio?
- Are the dogs separated by size and temperament during playtime?
- What are the staff’s qualifications for watching over your dog?
- Can you drop off and pick up your dog at anytime?
- Look closely at the pricing, is it “all-inclusive” or “a la carte” where additional fees are applied for each service. Carefully consider pricing policies and pick-up and drop-off hours. What looks like a bargain on the surface often is not when you start to add additional days and services.
- How and when are the dogs fed? Does the facility allow you to bring your own food? Some dogs may get an upset tummy from a sudden change in diet. (Choosing from the facility’s food is ok as long as your comfortable with the foods they provide and your dog does not have a history of allergies or food sensitivities.)
- Is there an outdoor play area for your dog? Some facilities utilize indoor kennels and indoor play spaces while others provide time for the dog outside. If you want your dog to have some outside time while you’re gone, be sure the facility you select can provide that.
- Referrals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the facility’s current clients. Often there will be others picking up and dropping off dogs as you take your tour who would be happy to share their experience. Dog people love to talk about their dogs!
- Set up a “trial” visit. Before you go out of town, arrange to have your dog spend a day or night at the facility as a test. If Fido has a blast, you can leave for vacation without feeling guilty (or at least a little less guilty!)