In this world of leash laws and privacy fences, it’s tough to give your dog the proper socialization they require. Dogs have become members of the family but it’s important not to deny them their pack. Certainly there are walks and dog parks, but what about when you have to work or getaway with your own social group outside of home? Where can you take your dogs that will give them the same fulfilling extra-social life that you enjoy? It’s a tough decision not to be taken lightly, especially if you’re new to the area and don’t know who you can yet trust.
Unleash You Dog! In other words, find a place that will let dogs be dogs. We call them our “babies”, take them shopping with us and throw them birthday parties with cakes that look like ours. Increasingly we try to force our dogs to be more and more human. That’s all fine and they are good sports about it to please us, but at the end of the day they are still dogs and don’t want to be denied that right. Sniffing scones at Starbucks while their pet parents check Instagram is not the same as sniffing the pee-mail left by their pack of friends. Make sure your daycare allows for uninhibited play with human interaction limited to the necessity of safety.
Safety Pups! Safety is a misconception when it comes to group play with dogs. To truly keep your dog safe at all cost would be to deny your dog group play all together. Think of it like a full contact sport. There are certain risks involved for which the rewards far outweigh. That being said, you want to find a daycare that will mitigate those risks as much as possible with experience and procedures in place to stop incidents before they begin. Make sure they separate dogs by size, temperament and play style. Staff should be confident, intelligent, ambitious and observant. And the facility should be designed to keep these groups separated and contained at all times.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover Just like how your dog’s idea of a tasty treat might turn your stomach for a week; what you view as inviting in a dog daycare may not impress him at all. Chandeliers, big screen TVs playing Animal Planet and web cameras are not there for your dog’s benefit, they are there to cost you more money and wind up your helicopter pet parenting. Studies show even in human children’s playgrounds, built in imagination tends to stifle their natural curiosity and development. Just make sure the facility is clean and the dogs get plenty of interaction with each other under the supervision of people who care. Another note, make sure it feels homey. You might have to work in an industrial park or a shopping center, but your dogs should feel at home, in their home away from home.
Rave Reviews! Reviews are important but must be taken with a grain of salt. As we said, there are risks involved with letting your dog unleash that not all pet parents are comfortable with. All positive reviews are genuinely genuine but negative reviews are often the result of lashing out, due to misconception or miscommunication. Consistency is the key. Look for mostly good reviews and be wary of consistent complaints about important issues like safety, cleanliness and attitude. Disregard any third party organization that accepts payment for better reviews.
You decision will mostly be influenced by what close and convenient for your schedule, but don’t be afraid to drive a little out of your way to get what you want. What might seem like a longer drive, with less congested traffic might just be a more relaxing drive home for you and your dog at the end of a long day. In the end, what you should want most is for your dog to be as tired as you are, with both of you looking forward to your cozy cuddle time at home.