What to look for when choosing your dog’s daycare

There are many pet care centers out there, ranging from vets and groomers that offer “day boarding” to large open concept facilities where dogs can play free. As a responsible and loving pet parent, you want the best care for your fur baby. There are many factors that combine to make daycare a positive experience for you and for your dog – here are some things to consider when choosing a doggie daycare:

  1. Cleanliness – there should be minimal offensive odour, immediate clean up of accidents and healthy looking dogs in the facility
  2. Health and safety – ensure that the daycare only accepts healthy dogs for the safety of your fur baby. Proof of current vaccinations or titers should be required. As well, sick dogs should be excused until they are healthy again in order to minimize transmissible diseases or illnesses.
  3. Supervision – for the safety of the dogs and to promote proper doggie manners, a staff should be with the dogs at all times. Rotating between rooms or supervision through windows and gates is simply inadequate.
  4. Staffing Levels – a daycare should strive to maintain an approximate staffing goal of one person for every 10-15 dog. Anything more would compromise the safety and well-being of your canine companion.
  5. Daily schedule – a 1-2 hour nap time is great so that the dogs can rest and recuperate, however, the majority of the day should be spent playing and interacting with other dogs and staff members.
  6. Initial assessments – there should always be an assessment of suitability of a dog for the daycare environment. Dogs should be tested to ensure they enjoy the company of other dogs, and be acclimated to the group slowly and safely.
  7. Playgroups – your dog should be placed in a group with similar play styles and energy levels. Segregation of small dogs and large dogs for safety is also key.
  8. Size of facility – the number of dogs attending daycare should be appropriate for the size of the facility. Ideally, each dog needs approximately 70 to 100 sq ft. of space for safe, off-leash play.
  9. Outdoor space – having a secure outdoor play space will allow the dogs to enjoy some fresh air and also encourage appropriate potty habits during the day. Some daycares only have an indoor area, which can be somewhat monotonous for the dogs after a while. The outdoor play time is very beneficial for the dogs’ mental and physical well-being.
  10. Experience – staff should be knowledgeable and experienced in dog behaviour and pet care. Look for staff members who attend seminars, belong to daycare groups such as American Boarding Kennel Association daycare division, or have experience working with groups of dogs.
  11. Control measures – avoid daycares that routinely punish or physically manipulate the dogs for control. Positive reinforcement training should be utilized when dealing with the dogs.


With all these factors to consider, it is very important to do your research with regards to the daycare options available out there. Go visit as many facilities as possible to see first hand how they operate and ask a lot of questions (click here for a list of questions to ask when visiting a doggie daycare). Whether the facilities you visit have a few hundred square feet or a few acres; have dogs inside, outside, or both; have one play area or many, make sure that what they do have is the best, safest environment possible for your fur baby.