Is Dog Daycare right for you and your dog? While dog daycare becomes more popular every day, there are still many dog owners who think dog daycare is merely another ridiculous extravagance for wealthy people to lavish on their favorite pet, falling in the same category as birthday parties and designer collars. However, dog daycare can be an affordable option that can significantly improver your dog’s quality of life (and to a lesser extent your own) with merely a few visits a month.
“But I take my dog for walks three times a day!” You say. “Why should I spend money on something like dog daycare?” Well, for a few reasons. Dogs are by nature social pack animals, and most do not like to be left alone for any period of time. Think of how happy your dog is to see you when you come home. While exercise is a significant benefit of dog daycare, it’s the socialization factor that truly benefits the dog. The opportunity to play with other dogs, even if it only comes twice a month, will be something your dog will eagerly look forward to.
That is assuming your pooch is the right kind of dog for dog daycare. Not all dogs are appropriate for dog daycare, due to that socialization aspect. For many dogs, the concept of the pack includes just you and the rest of your family, and they have no interest whatsoever in dogs (or people) outside of their pack. This is most commonly seen in older dogs, who have less energy anyways. Then there are dogs that are simply too aggressive or too submissive, and won’t be allowed at dog daycare for their own safety or the safety of the other dogs. Even if your dog is a toy poodle, it’s aggression could be too high to allow it to safely visit dog daycare, since many times aggression from one dog will be responded to in kind, regardless of size.
That is not to say that if your dog has displayed some aggressive tendencies towards other dogs while on the leash or at the dog park that it should be automatically disqualified from dog daycare. In fact, often times dogs will be much more aggressive on the leash, as they feel it is their job to protect their owner from any potential threat (even if the threat happens to be a tiny bichon frise.) Again, the opposite can be true; it is not uncommon to see perfectly trained dogs who obey their master’s ever command turn into absolute terrors at dog daycare when the master is not present.
Due to these factors, most dog daycares offer an initial trial visit, and you should be wary of any dog daycare that is willing to just accept your dog off the street. But one thing that should not be a dis-qualifier is breed. While acceptance is at the discretion of every individual daycare, and some breeds do have to be regarded with more scrutiny due to their size, power, or aggressive tendencies (Rottweilers being a good example of all three) do not assume that just because you own a breed that most people think of as “bad” that you will be turned away from dog daycare. Now if your dog happens to exemplify the negative traits of the breed, well then that’s a different story.
Another factor is whether your dog has been “altered,” that is, spayed or neutered. Due to the open nature of most dog daycare facilities, usually only altered dogs will be accepted. This is not merely to protect the business from the distraught accusations that a customer’s prized AKC Boston Terrier was impregnated by a Corgi. While that is a factor, what is more important is that any unaltered dog will be adding hormones to the mix that would greatly increase the aggression levels of the playroom, leading to a potentially dangerous environment.
So assuming that your dog passes the requirements specific to the dog daycare in your neighborhood, what do you get out of spending your hard earned money on your pooch? Well, we’ve already mentioned the exercise. Most owners comment that not only does their dog sleep extremely well the night the dog comes home; usually the pooch spends the next day lounging around as well. This translates into peace of mind for the owner, reducing the guilt factor of leaving your dog at home every day while you go to work. Additionally, many daycares offer other services, such as grooming, walking, and crateless boarding. The latter is the most beneficial, as a weekend spent at a crateless boarding facility, playing and even sleeping with other dogs will be much less traumatic to a dog than a conventional kennel. Though it is worth noting that few “crateless” facilities are 100% crateless; most utilize crates at feeding time to prevent any scraps over, well, scraps.
Prices for dog daycare vary greatly depending on the area. Obviously dense metro areas where real estate is at a premium will have the highest rates. But when you consider the potential benefits, you will most likely find it hard to argue that dog daycare is not worth the price for the occasional visit at least. Most likely, your dog will enthusiastically agree with you.