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What to Look for in Dog Day Care Services

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What to Look for in Dog Day Care Services

Choosing the right dog day care is important for the health and happiness of your dog. The popularity of dog day care facilities has these businesses cropping up with no consistency in the level of care provided. The following are some guidelines to consider when selecting a day care facility for your dog.

Initial Paperwork

The initial paperwork allows the day care facility to set up an account for your dog and have on record any special needs he may have. It also allows them to establish a standard for maintaining a healthy environment for all of their clients.

  • Registration form - Owner, veterinary and emergency contact information as well as information about the dog(s) to be cared for including age, breed, temperament and any concerns the owner might have.
  • Current vaccination records Must have copies of current vaccination records including rabies, DHLPPC and Bordetella. Other vaccinations may be included depending on the area of residence.

Initial Evaluation

Before accepting a new client, a facility should have an evaluation day. Typically these are a half day session where the dog is gradually introduced to the facility with an evaluator taking notes about your dogs progression. Different phases of the introduction/evaluation might include:

  • Introduction to the evaluator
  • Introduction to the day care where the dog is kept separate but is still able to touch noses with other dogs
  • Introduction to the open play area

These phases allow the evaluator to watch for signs of anxiety or aggression, see how long it takes your dog to become acclimated to the area, people and other dogs and to determine whether the dog should be allowed to return to the facility.


Any animal day care should have sufficient staff to safely oversee the number of dogs in the facility. In addition to staffing numbers, you should ask about the qualifications of the staff. These could include:

  • Animal CPR certification by the American Red Cross
  • Pet Care certification through the Pet Care Services Association (formerly the American Boarding Kennel Association)
  • Dog training certification through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers

Facility Accommodations

Different facilities will have different amenities. Some of the key things to consider are:

  • Cleanliness to promote a healthy environment
  • Water should be clean and accessible to your dog
  • Appropriate waste disposal for fecal matter and urine, and facility to appropriately clean the area
  • Separate areas for large and small dogs
  • Individual kennels available for every dog in the facility
  • Large enough for dogs to play freely and not feel threatened or overcrowded
  • Secure facility, ensuring the dogs do not run loose and will not be released to anyone but the owner
  • Indoor facilities should be climate controlled to maintain a comfortable environment for the dogs
  • On-call veterinarian in case you or your veterinarian cannot be reached

Whether the day care you choose is indoor only or an indoor/outdoor combination, it should be set up to ensure the care and safety of every dog in the facility. Your dog should be able to go there and have fun socializing with other dogs while you go to work knowing hes well cared for, getting exercise and learning social skills with people and dogs alike.

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