by Paris Permenter and John Bigley
Similar to selecting a day care for a child, choosing a doggie day care center is a process that takes some time and consideration. Besides selecting a facility that matches both your budget and your location, you'll be searching for a day care where you will feel comfortable that your dog is enjoying a healthy, happy and safe experience.
After asking fellow pet parents for their recommendations, your next step is to plan an in-person visit to a potential day care.
"The facility should be readily available for you to see during business hours, and you should be allowed to see the entire facility," says Andrea Cermak, owner of Waggin' Tails Doggie Day Care in Citrus Heights, Calif. "If a facility is difficult to see, or your tour of it is limited, be cautious. There should be at least one qualified staff member per 15 dogs. Ideally, the facility will offer both inside and outside space, and the spaces should be clean."
Cermak also suggests making sure the day care requires that all dogs be spayed or neutered if they are older than 6 months.
Dogs should also be current on basic vaccinations (rabies, distemper/parvo, Bordetella) as well as pass a behavior evaluation to screen for appropriate temperament.
On the initial visit, "observe how it smells when you walk in the door," says Arlene Sinanian, owner of Atlanta's Pupcakes Playcare. "You want it to smell clean or have no odor at all. Of course, there will be times one walks into a facility where another dog has just pottied right in the entrance. Does the staff address the accident right away?"
Sinanian recommends that pet parents listen for barking on their tour as well.
"Are the dogs barking in play and excitement, or is the barking constant stress-barking?"
Once you've narrowed down your selection, be sure to make a call to your local Better Business Bureau and do a quick online search for possible complaints.
Additionally, ask for references. Whether doggie day care will be an occasional visit or a regular part of your workday routine, you want to ensure a tail-wagging good time.
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Pets | Dogs: How to Choose the Best Doggie Day Care