How to safely introduce two dogs

[2020] Is Dog Daycare a Good Idea for Your Dog? Pros and Cons of Dog Daycare

Dog daycare sounds like a great idea. We humans generally like the idea of our “fur kids” running around in a “play group” all day filled with games, activities and snacks.

We don’t like to picture our dogs bored on the couch. Or, God forbid, locked in a CRATE. (We’re kidding, we’re a fan of crates!)

But … dog daycares are all very different and every dog is unique. It’s important to think about dog daycare from your dog’s perspective, and we really mean YOUR dog.

What might sound like fun for you might actually be incredibly stressful or scary for your dog.

It’s not so simple as “does he love other dogs?” Or, “Is he high energy?”

Lindsay’s dog Remy LOVES other dogs, for example. He’s extremely friendly and high energy, but he’s not necessarily a good candidate for dog daycare, and we’ll explain why.

Is dog daycare a good idea

IN THIS POST:

What are the different kinds of daycares for dogs?

Is dog daycare a good idea?

Most common form of dog daycare

A dog daycare is most often an overnight dog boarding facility that also offers “day care” where dog owners can leave their dogs for a few hours during the day.

There is usually an outdoor fenced area or a large indoor room where groups of dogs can move and play off leash.

The number of dogs in the daycare varies greatly depending on the facility. Some might keep the groups to 5 to 10 dogs. Others might include groups of 20, 30 or even 40+ dogs! Some might have one large playroom while others have multiple play areas for different groups of dogs.

Smaller in-home dog daycares

There are smaller dog daycares managed by dog lovers in their own homes. These are obviously much smaller and the owner might take in 3-4 dogs or even just 1 dog.

Lindsay used to offer this service and would take the dogs on multiple walks throughout the day paired with plenty of time lounging around and a bit of training and play.

The owners would drop their dogs off in the morning and pick them up later in the day after work or running errands. Overall, it seemed to be a good experience for everyone.

See our post: The best dog daycares

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Sammi and Ace

Off-leash hiking groups or field trips

Also growing in popularity are off-leash dog hiking groups or “field trips” which is a more adventurous form of dog walking and gives the dogs a chance to socialize in a small group.

Typically, the dogs are picked up in the morning by the business and then dropped off in the afternoon.

Ace and Buddy

Who should consider dog daycare?

If you work long hours and you have a social, active dog, it would make sense that you might want to consider leaving him at a dog daycare.

If you’re considering dog daycare for your dog, first, think about it from your dog’s point of view. Make sure it is something that is truly in the best interest of your dog.

IN GENERAL, larger dog daycare facilities are potentially a good option for:

  • medium to high energy dogs with good social skills who enjoy other dogs
  • dogs that are confident enough to stand up for themselves
  • dogs with a high tolerance for rude behavior from other excited dogs

Some laid-back dogs are better off at home

If you have a low-key, mellow dog, he might be happier at home lounging around on the couch in a calm environment or even staying his small kennel or crate. All that activity at dog daycare is stressful for some dogs!

Dogs enjoy a routine, and as long as you’re providing your dog with a long walk every day and some daily training and interaction, you shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving your dog at home while you go to work.

We do not buy that myth of “if you work long hours, you shouldn’t have a dog.” That’s just not true.

My dog Ace - Is dog daycare a good idea?

There are lots of different dogs and plenty of them would gladly take up space on your couch all day while you’re at work.

Lindsay’s Lab mix Ace is the perfect example. She adopted him when she worked 10-hour shifts at a newspaper. (2018 update: Ace has passed away.)

She would walk or run with him for an hour every single day before work. They never missed a day. Lindsay had an hour off in the middle of my shift where she would come home, quickly eat dinner and let Ace out for a 10-min walk.

Since Ace is a fairly mellow, low-key dog, even when he was 12 months old, this worked just fine!

Is dog daycare a good idea?

Dog daycare is too exciting for some high-energy, excited dogs

On the other hand, some dogs are extremely hyper, to say the least (Remy!).

While running around all day playing at a dog daycare might SOUND like a good idea for your boxer, it might actually be too exciting for some high-energy dogs.

Dogs that are naturally nervous, anxious and INTENSE often do better in a calm environment. They don’t necessarily need encouragement to be MORE hyped up.

For example, Lindsay’s weimaraner Remy loves other dogs and he has unlimited physical energy.

She likes the idea of sending him to a large daycare, but that kind of environment is too overwhelming for him for long periods.

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Remy - pros and cons of dog daycare

Remy enjoys playing with other dogs, but after about a half-hour he starts to get mentally overwhelmed and tired. It happens at the dog park, and she’s seen it happen when he plays with friends’ dogs.

When Remy gets overwhelmed, he tries to move away from other dogs and ignore them. That’s when Lindsay knows it’s time to leave the dog park. If dogs continue to push his limits, he will snap to tell them “KNOCK IT OFF.”

This is good dog communication, but Lindsay doesn’t trust the daycare staff to recognize when her dog needs a break.

She’s an overly protective dog mom, and she hates the thought of Remy needing to lash out in order to defend himself!

The last thing Lindsay wants is for Remy to be labeled “aggressive” for standing up for himself.

TIP: Ask about smaller and shorter “playgroups”

Some dog daycare facilities are good about catering to your dog’s specific needs.

This is a good solution for Remy.

The dog boarding and daycare facility Lindsay uses offers shorter play options.

There’s the “all-day play” which is not ideal for Remy. And then there are shorter “1-hour play” sessions with a small group of compatible dogs.

Lindsay signed Remy up for the “1-hour play” 6 or 7 times, and it’s a good option for him. When he’s not in the play group, he waits in his own private kennel space and of course he still gets to head out for potty breaks every few hours.

Which brings us to …

Questions to ask the dog daycare owner or staff

Here are some sample questions to ask the staff to help you decide if dog daycare is a good idea for your dog. We don’t mean to go crazy and ask every single question but to consider your unique dog and get the information you need to make the best decision.

Also make sure to tour the area where your dog will be. Observe the behavior of the dogs and the staff, the noise, the cleanliness, etc.

Questions to ask about dog daycare:

1. How many dogs are in each group?

2. What is the typical staff to dog ratio?

3. How are dogs evaluated?

4. What kind of training does your staff go through?

5. Do you combine large dogs with small dogs?

6. How long are the play periods? Are there breaks? How long are the breaks?

7. Are there toys out in the group play?

8. What is your process for disciplining a dog?

9. What is your process if there is a dog fight?

10. What happens if the dog is not a good fit for group play?

11. What kind of feedback will you be able to give me about my dog’s behavior?

Pros and cons of doggy daycare

Penny - is dog daycare a good idea?

What are the benefits of doggy daycare?

Pros of dog daycare

  • Provides your dog with some physical exercise and mental activity during the day
  • Helpful option if your dog does not like to be left alone
  • Decreases destructive behavior in your home
  • Decreases barking
  • Your dog will likely come home mentally exhausted and sleep (Make sure that’s really a pro)
  • Your dog can learn social skills
  • You won’t need to let your dog out mid-day
  • Helpful if you don’t have time to walk your dog that day
  • Helps provide your dog with exercise and activities if you have a busy schedule (but nothing can replace a long walk with you!)
  • Good option for some puppies who need extra potty breaks and socialization

Is dog daycare bad for dogs?

Cons of dog daycare

  • Too exciting and overwhelming for some dogs
  • Some dogs will be mentally exhausted due to stress or fear and not because they had “fun”
  • Cost (on average $25 per day+)
  • Your dog could learn bad behaviors such as jumping on people, being annoying to other dogs, growling at other dogs if he constantly has to defend himself, etc.
  • He could be bullied or injured
  • Your dog could start a fight with another dog
  • You can’t control the behavior of your dog, other dogs or the staff
  • Some people will use it to replace walking their dog but walks are still very important
  • Your dog could pick up fleas from other dogs or an illness like kennel cough

Are doggy camps good for socialization?

As we just outlined in the pros and cons section, doggie camps have the potential of being good for socialization. That’s because:

  • Dogs get to interact with a variety of people from the camp staff.
  • They spend time with other dogs.
  • It’s a great learning opportunity for puppies and younger dogs who are still exploring the world. Getting to know different people, dogs, places, sounds, and smells sets them up for becoming confident dogs.
  • It’s also wonderful for ongoing socialization for dogs who are already social and playful as it’s important to practice those skills throughout a dog’s life.

However, doggie camp will not be a useful opportunity for socialization for:

  • Shy dogs who will be overwhelmed by the intensity of the camp sounds and stimulation such as incessant barking, constant running around and potential bullying from more confident dogs.
  • Dogs who haven’t been properly socialized. They can instead become fearful of other people and/or dogs if they aren’t properly introduced to them. 

It might be a better approach to hire a dog trainer to help with socialization skills in adult dogs as opposed to throwing them into a highly stimulating environment such as doggie camp. Once a formerly undersocialized dog has made progress and is comfortable around other dogs, doggie camp can be an option for ongoing socialization purposes. 

Is doggy daycare good for separation anxiety?

Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety act irrationally when their owners leave them alone for acceptable blocks of time. Let’s clarify that when we’re talking about dogs being left alone, we don’t mean all day long. We mean for 4-5 hours at a time. Remember that dogs are social animals who need a healthy form of human interaction and entertainment. 

But back to separation anxiety. It usually kicks in when the dog is home alone after their owner leaves for work. It can also happen outside of the home when the owner disappears from the dog’s field of vision, such as during a vet visit or in a group dog training session. 

Extreme cases of separation anxiety can occur when a dog is so focused on their owner that they completely shut down and refuse to engage in any type of behavior when separated from them. This can be really problematic in certain scenarios, such as if the owner gets sick and needs to be hospitalized for an uncertain amount of time.

Symptoms of dog separation anxiety are:

  • Destructive behavior like chewing and digging
  • Soiling in dogs who are housebroken
  • Excessive barking and whining
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Pacing 

Daycare for dogs with separation anxiety

Doggy daycare can be a good solution for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. It helps the dog be away from her owner in a positive way as long as she has a good experience at doggy daycare and doesn’t dread going there. If she puts on the breaks as soon as you pull up to daycare and get her out of the car, it’s probably not a good idea to follow through with the plan of dropping her off.

In order to minimize that risk, remember to tour the doggy daycare you’re considering for your dog prior to taking her there (ideally unannounced), and to ask questions about their routine including breaks, naptime, group sizes, and initial evaluations.

Remember that your pup doesn’t necessarily have to stay at doggie daycare for an entire day. You could drop her off in the mornings on the way to work, and pick her back up during your lunch break. By that time, the pup should have expanded a decent amount of energy by running around and playing with other dogs. Maybe she even went for a swim session if it’s offered at that particular doggie daycare location. 

Tired dogs are much less likely to act up than those who aren’t getting enough physical exercise and mental stimulation, so there’s a good chance that your dog might just curl up into a ball and nap the afternoon away until her favorite person – you –  comes back from work.

Other ways to help your anxious dog

Note that it’s important for the owner to be calm around their dog and not feel bad for leaving their pup alone, neither at home nor when dropping them off at daycare.

Dogs are very intuitive to our human emotions and tend to mirror them. If they sense that we’re nervous and feeling guilty for leaving them (alone), chances are good that they will reflect that in their own behavior. “You’re feeling tense and nervous? Something must not be right with this scenario, so I better start pacing around, bark excessively, and then eat the couch”.

One might argue that doggy daycare is not an ideal solution for dealing with separation anxiety because the dog is not getting used to being alone after all. However, it can still be a good stepping stone in working towards making the pup more comfortable being away from the owner.

Is dog daycare stressful?

Overall, doggie daycare is a somewhat stressful environment because of the constant input dogs are exposed to, but for many dogs the mild stress is worth it.

This is particularly true for dogs who spend a full day at dog daycare. There’s simply a lot more going on than in their homes where the occasional squirrel sighting or doorbell ringing might be the only interruption of an otherwise uneventful day.

That being said, a dog daycare can be a less stressful alternative to the loud and hectic environment of a house remodel or similar disruptive happenings at home. It comes down to knowing your individual dog and making the right choice for him.

There are various signs that can point to stress in dogs. Pay close attention to how your dog behaves after his first few daycare sessions, and evaluate his overall demeanor. Behavior that seems to be out of the ordinary can be a sign that your dog is indeed stressed out:

  • Excessive yawning
  • Excessive barking, panting, and drooling
  • Destructiveness
  • Fur loss
  • Aggression

In contrast, should your dog be his happy-go-lucky self, curl up or stretch out for a nap once you’re home and not seem to be traumatized in any way, he must have had lots of fun and an overall great experience at daycare!

Other services dog day camps offer

Most doggie day camps try to position themselves as a one-stop shop for busy doggie parents and offer additional services besides daycare such as:

  • Overnight stays/Boarding
  • Grooming
  • Webcams
  • Training classes
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Veterinary care
  • Physical rehabilitation including hydrotherapy

Barbara has experienced two different day camp facilities in North Carolina and Tennessee. 

Example: Dog day camp in North Carolina

The one in North Carolina is called Riverbark Pet Retreat and truly is a one-stop shop. It features all the services listed above except individual walks and is not only located right next to a veterinary clinic, but connected to it by a covered walkway.

The vet was there first and decided to expand by adding the pet recreational and rehabilitation center next door. It’s turned into a buzzing place that pet lovers in the area love and appreciate. 

One of Barbara’s pet sitting clients, Samoyed mix Bear, went to their rehab center for hydrotherapy sessions after an injury. You can watch Bear on the underwater treadmill and read more about hydrotherapy here

Indoor doggy swimming pool

Riverbark’s indoor doggie swimming pool is definitely a feature piece that Barbara’s own dogs Missy and Buzz loved going to for swim sessions.

Not only is swimming great for physical exercise, but Barbara also had peace of mind knowing the pups wouldn’t be exposed to snakes that are a common sighting in NC’s lakes.

It’s also a gentle way of exercising aching joints of senior pups. Unfortunately, Barbara’s current dog Wally doesn’t like swimming at all, so he hasn’t been to that particular indoor doggie pool.

dog daycare

Barbara also used Riverbark’s boarding services several times. The boarding area itself features webcams, which is great for the peace of mind of a worried dog parent! However, the outside play area isn’t covered by webcams, which certainly leaves room for improvement.

Another example – Doggie day camp in Tennessee

The doggie day camp in Tennessee provides considerably less services than the one in North Carolina.

Besides day camps, they offer overnight stays, grooming, and training classes. It’s actually a franchise that’s called Camp Bow Wow and has close to 200 locations in the US. You can check out their location finder to see if there’s one near you.

What differentiated them vastly from the daycare in North Carolina was their extensive socialization “interview”. It’s essentially a test to assess if a dog will be a good fit for the daycare by determining how they behave around other doggie “campers” and people. 

Buzz went there for his initial “interview” during which the staff tested his people skills, which he passed with flying colors.

Dog evaluations for day camp

Next up, they brought him into an evaluation room and exposed him to a friendly female dog, followed by a friendly male dog. Buzz did fine around both. He was then allowed to spend three hours at daycare. It was a limited amount of time to ensure that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the new sights, sounds, and smells.

Doggy day camp

Barbara was able to observe Buzz’s socialization “interview” on a TV screen in the reception area. This simple monitoring gave her the peace of mind of knowing that Buzz was in the best hands possible and is the reason why she confidently recommends the place.

When Barbara picked Buzz back up from his three hours at daycare, the staff informed her that Buzz was fine with groups of dogs up to ten, but that he started mounting dogs in groups that exceeded ten.

Since Camp Bow Wow’s play groups usually exceed ten dogs, Barbara and the staff agreed that this particular daycare setting wouldn’t work for Buzz after all. You can read more about the place here

Feedback from That Mutt readers: Is dog daycare a good idea?

Thank you for those who posted feedback earlier on That Mutt’s Facebook page when I asked for the pros and cons of dog daycare. (There’s no right answer.)

Some dog daycare feedback from That Mutt readers on Facebook:

“I take Sasha to doggy day care either when it’s been too gross to go outside for many days, or I have to work longer than normal. I like it because it wears her out and she gets to socialize with other dogs. I’ve not had a bad experience with our day care, all the dogs go through an eval before they are allowed to participate.” – Michelle K.

“I believe it is an introvert vs extrovert dog question. Some love it, some would not. Gotta be a good place, of course.” – Jana R. from the blog Dawg Business

“We took our dog to a doggy daycare type place- it was called train and play so the dogs were screened before being accepted to ensure a good fit. They would socialize as well as do group and individual training. He can be reactive so for him it provided socialization, training and confidence building.” – Teri L. P.
 
List additional ideas in the comments and I’ll add them to this list.

IN GENERAL:

Some people will think I’m bashing dog daycares, and I’m not. Like I said, I used to offer dog daycare in my home and I see the value in it for a lot of people and dogs.

It truly comes down to knowing your unique dog and finding the right dog daycare facility that meets your dog’s needs.

What do the rest of you think, is dog daycare a good idea?

Please share this post with anyone considering dog daycare.

-Lindsay & Barbara

*If you would like to receive our down-to-earth, weekly dog training tips, Click Here

Further Resources:

Dr. Patricia McConnell’s dog daycare post: Fun for Fido? Or not

When to intervene at the dog park – That Mutt

22 thoughts on “[2020] Is Dog Daycare a Good Idea for Your Dog? Pros and Cons of Dog Daycare”

  1. Each Wednesday, I treat our energetic, reactive Rottweiler mix, Noelle, to a full day (7:30 am to 5:30 pm) at the most wonderful doggie day camp. We recently stopped going to the dog park (for various reasons) and this weekly connection with other dogs is so good for Noelle. Jayne, who owns the day camp, has such a marvelous capacity to get to know each dog, recognizes who will play well with whom, when certain dogs need a little time in the crate, and how to keep all the pups in a good place. Since I work out of my home, it’s helpful to have a day when Noelle can do her thing without me, and to know that she is being properly supervised by someone who really knows what she’s doing. I have recommended Jayne’s doggie day camp to many people. So grateful for it!

  2. We have a really good place just a couple miles from us. Bailie went for over a year one to two times a week but she was always scared and didn’t interact much with the others. The last time she went, she came home with the canine flu and we were all sick and unable to be with other dogs for six weeks. Mom took Madison a couple times and she loved it, but she too came home with some version of the canine flu. It did not spread to the rest of us, but we decided it is too risky for any of us to be at daycare. Being out of our sports for weeks is not a good thing. Mom works from home and we get plenty of mental and physical exercise at home and interaction with other dogs as well. For some dogs it is the perfect thing.

  3. My dog goes to daycare once a week. They limit the number of dogs they take per day and evaluate each dog to see if s/he is a good fit. This evaluation also lets them see which small group is the best for the the dog. That was a big draw for me, but the other is that they have 24 hour staff and don’t kennel the boarding dogs unless requested.

    She does well, but she is pretty social without being over the top. She’s a good dog park dog as well.

  4. We’ve not tried a daycare. When we first got Bax, I thought daycare was a great idea. He’s social and friendly. Exercise is important. Now that I know Bax, I feel like daycare would be completely overwhelming for him. He likes other dogs, but to meet them when we’re out walking and then move on. Dogs that want to play all the time–or heaven forbid rambunctious puppies–are too much for him. He’s content with his comfort zone of his people and home with his regular field trips to grandma’s house or shopping or hiking. That’s more fulfilling and enjoyable for him than a day or even a few hours of high activity.

  5. LizaJane Johnston

    Colby has been going to daycare for 9 months now, he usually goes at least once a week but it could be all week depending on my work schedule. Colby loves it, his best friend is there twice a week also so that’s an extra bonus. I prefer to send him when I need to work in the evenings so he’s not home the entire day and have boredom set in, he’s very good at staying home without being kenneled but playing all day wears him out and sure helps for those night shifts.

  6. Doggy daycare has been an absolute god send for our med/high energy lab/collie cross who is very sociable and doesn’t like being left at home for more than one day at a time. She goes there on Monday and Friday afternoons to break her week up (I don’t work Weds & weekends).

    She drags us in the door everytime we drop her off so we know she loves it. It gives us two evenings ‘off’ a week too as she is nicely tired out afterwards, great to be able to come home on a Friday and pour a glass of wine knowing she’s happy to snooze on the sofa.

    It was also a good way to provide a bit of balance back in to our lives when she was a demanding puppy! 🙂 I can see how it isn’t for every dog though, our place holds a trial so they can see how the dog gets on which is great.

  7. I utilized day care when I had my German Shepherd. She loved going to play with the other kids, she burned off excess energy, she was calmer. The owners were all dog lovers who listened to my concerns about a problem my dog had, and would work to re-direct her when the problem occurred. I noticed some difference when picking her up. I see nothing wrong with a well run day care for medium to high energy dogs. Plus, if they are the only dog in the house, they get the chance to socialize with others dogs and learn good doggie manners. If I lived in an area with a day care I would consider it again. I would avoid the day cares that keep dogs separate and don’t allow any contact except through a fence. I don’t think they can truly learn how to be social with other dogs that way. Plus, I got the feeling that the owners of that type of day care were in it for the money and not really for the love of the dogs.

  8. My one year old lab loves other dogs and I have checked out most of the daycares in my city but haven’t done it yet. I wish I could find someone at home who takes in just a few dogs. One problem I’m afraid of is the lack of grass for the potty breaks. I’m afraid she won’t go. North Dakota probably doesn’t have as many options as other places.

    1. Hi Mandy, there are a couple of different people that dog sit in ND! I use an app called Rover and it tells you if there person is home all day or if they have a yard, etc. Try that app out, it might work for you!

  9. We take our dog to daycare and he absolutely loves it! When we first came across the daycare facility we use, we were not looking for daycare options, rather a place for occasional boarding. Our 3-year-old, 90 pound Golden Retriever/Siberian Husky mix is very much a creature of habit and doesn’t like straying from his routine. This put us in a difficult position when we wanted/needed to go away and couldn’t take him along. He is very tentative at new places, but after giving time to warm up, he does well. When we came across out boarding location, the doggie daycare was a huge bonus. We figured that if he could start attending weekly for just a day to build up his comfort level when we needed to leave him there overnight he would be just fine.

    Before he was allowed to attend daycare or overnight boarding, he had to pass an evaluation to see how he interacted with other dogs. This location has an open-play environment for all pups. Dogs are grouped by size and activity level into separate playrooms. At his evaluation, our dog was introduced to others one at a time. They started with the most easy-going dog there and slowly worked up to their more “heavy-hitters,” as they called them. Once he passed this evaluation, he was allowed to start attending daycare and overnight boarding.

    One of my favorite features of our daycare location is the live-stream web-cameras they offer. I can log-in anytime between 6:00 am – 9:00 pm and watch him playing with the other dogs. Knowing exactly what is going on at any given time gives me the peace of mind I needed to be comfortable leaving our dog there for any period of time. They are given ample time outside and always closely monitored by the staff members. This place is the perfect fit for our furbaby.

    The only con that we have found is the cost. At $30.00/day, regularly attending daycare is expensive. We’ve found that bringing him to daycare about once every-other-week has provided a great balance for us. It’s often enough for him to stay comfortable in the space, but not so often that it breaks the bank account. We love knowing that we can schedule him for overnight boarding on occasion and not have to worry about him feeling abandoned or uncomfortable with his surroundings!

  10. My AmStaff/Boxer/Hound loves her play group! I’ve been at home when she’s been picked up, not only died she wait in the window for her friends, she runs to the door. The benefits have been great for me: great socialization (dog walker doesn’t allow any dominant behaviors); access to burn off excess energy, especially in bad weather when walks are not as much fun (rain); and an option for overnights. I still walk her every morning & night, she is much calmer as well because of her off leash time. Definitely the right decision for me, not for everyone or every dog.

  11. We have used two different places for Lambeau since we moved to MA. We generally use them for boarding, as there are a few weekends over the summer we have commitments we can’t take him to. The first was strictly one dog at a time. He had a huge kennel with a run, and got “play time” a few times a day where a kennel worker would take him out by himself to the play area. Nice, big yard. Lots of toys. But- that’s not for Lambeau, especially if the person with him does not interact. And a lot of them didn’t. They would let him out, sit in a chair, and do nothing. Lambeau loves to play, but he needs interactive play, otherwise he gets bored and just lays down and sleeps. It also got to the point where I would drop him off, and he would pull back against the leash, dig in his legs, and try his best to scramble back to me rather than go with the person at the kennel. I don’t know if something particular happened (they claimed no) or if he was just not happy knowing he was going to be stuck alone so much. After a few rounds of that, I decided we were not going back there.
    We found a new place and it is awesome! We had to go through an interview with just us, and then bring him in for evaluation with a couple of dogs they knew very well to see how he interacted with them. There is someone at the facility 24/7, so if something happens, they can deal with it immediately. The dogs are in groups of 8-10 in multiple play areas, with dogs of similar temperament and size, for about 30 minutes, and then they get 90 minutes of down time in a crate. Lambeau is crate trained so that’s not anything he’s not used to. The schedule is repeated all day. He comes home tired, but happy. And he loves it there. We pull into the parking lot and he is all smiles and wagging tail. He greets everyone in the office with love and kisses, and doesn’t hesitate at all to go with them. It’s a good place for him. I feel no nervousness or hesitation at all leaving him with his friends at Gemini.
    Lambeau is a good candidate for this situation, but not all dogs might be. Our daughter’s Pyranees probably wouldn’t be. Molly is very laid back as far as play energy goes, and gets impatient with dogs that try to push her to run and play too much. Her Newfie/Border Collie (yeah, great mix, huh?) wouldn’t be either, I don’t think. Vader is high energy, but he doesn’t like to be crowded by other dogs, so a big group would make him upset. Like every other aspect of owning a dog, you have to know your dog and his or her limits.

  12. i have thought about it however, i dont do a lot of the vaccinations they require. i only do the basics. so that leaves me out. i would rather have someone come to my house, play with my girls, which i have done in the past. it all evens out in price as well. i feel better that they are not in a strange place. my girls are small and dont like big dogs. the younger one loves everyone but her sister, a year older is not as friendly to strangers, she has to really warm up to you. they are terriers, excellent watch dogs. so they are leery of strangers. they will not even eat treats given my someone other than me which i dont mind. i think it is good for high energy dogs and dogs that need socialization. i dont even go to dog parks. i am worried that my girls may catch something. the youngest caught a virus at a dog show years ago and it cost me over 3k at the vet school. i do like the place that M A Kropp described. that sounds like a great place.

    1. The only vaxes they require are rabies (which is mandated by law, anyway), distemper, and bortadella. He gets 3 year rabies and distemper, so he’s not getting a bunch of stuff every year. They also require a giardia test. I think it’s reasonable for trying to protect everyone’s dog. You can request solo playtime or time with just your own dogs, if you have more than one. For smaller dogs, you can even have them crated together if that’s what they are used to. They do try to be as accomodating as possible.

  13. I get that group daycare could be good, but the thought of it always makes me shudder! I think it’s because my BC would find it incredibly stressful. He is moderately social with other dogs, and actively enjoys the company of specific dogs but he hates being bombarded by rude dogs that won’t go away and sniff him too much, and he will tell them… He’s a disciplinarian and hates when dogs misbehave or ignore their owners! (It’s pretty cool, if my friend’s lab is ignoring her, my dog will bark at her, and then she always listens!) and a lot of these pet type dogs don’t seem to understand when he tells them he doesn’t like them jumping on his head or boxing him (he is an ex working sheepdog and the language they use with each other seems to be more inherently ‘dog’ than these little pet dogs!) I don’t know many dogs that would be happy being bombarded by a huge group of dogs all day that were trying to get them to play…I feel like dog fights would be inevitable. Even if you assess the dogs surely you can’t guarantee that specific combination of dogs would get on, and surely there’s a reasonably large number of dogs that dislike particular dogs, even if they are generally sociable? If they are trapped in a room all together how can they make the choice to move away from dogs they dislike instead of reacting? And how will the staff recognise if your dog is uncomfortable if they have so many dogs there and don’t really know yours? Definitely not for me, I’d be so nervous all day worrying about what was going on!

  14. Speaking as someone who worked at a boarding/dog daycare ( Great Valley Pet Hotel in Malvern Pa ) , I would never take my dog to a dog daycare .
    I’ve seen people’s dog’s abused by the workers , put out in freezing and sweltering temperatures for hours on end with no shelter , and exposed to other dogs that were beyond aggressive with no one to protect them .
    I quit within a year of working there because of the horrible things I witnessed :,(
    Please if you love your dog leave him/her with a relative , have a neighbor take them out if possible or hire a reputable dog Walker.

  15. Thank you for this post! I recently switched jobs (from a remote/work from home position to working in an office 9-5) and was feeling the guilt of leaving my pup home all day. She’s very social and plays well with other pups, but is also content to snuggle on the couch or her beds or lounge in the sun. There’s such a stigma about leaving a pup home during work that I felt I HAD to find a daycare. And I did. We tried one for a couple weeks only to be told my pup was showing her teeth at other dogs (her response to being overwhelmed and scared). Clearly this daycare did not recognize that as fear nor did they know how to properly address the root of the issue (the other dog or my pup needing a break from the pack). I’ve had my pup home this week with a good run in the morning or right when I get home in the afternoon and she’s doing so much better. We play at the park with other pups and she loves it. She get plenty of exercise and is SAFE (which really is MOST IMPORTANT!)

  16. Kistopher Langdon

    While Dog Daycare seems like a carefree solution, there are factors to be considered, as mentioned. I have seen incidents where less confident dogs were left in dog daycares and they were miserable when they came back.
    If you have a dog that would not gel-in perfectly everywhere, I would recommend The Grand Paw in Indio, California, since they are very careful in their processes.

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