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Key things to consider when choosing doggy day care

You’ve decided to send your dog to day care, you’ve spoken to friends and family, you’ve shopped around, and now it’s time to make a decision. What next?

Here’s our definitive guide to the top four things to consider when choosing doggy day care.

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1. Check it out

1. Check it out

Think of doggy day care as a children’s nursery. You wouldn’t dream of sending a child along without visiting first. So plan a visit to see exactly where your dog will spend their day, who they’ll be with, and what they’ll be doing.

Timing is key. Make sure you go along when it’s at its busiest and most productive so you’re seeing it at full throttle. The middle of the day – 11am to 1pm – is often best.

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Here’s a checklist of what to look for on your visit:

  • Are the dogs friendly, social and happy together?
  • Is it calm and quiet or noisy and chaotic?
  • Do the staff look like they love the dogs and are they actively engaging with the dogs?
  • What is the indoor and rest space like?
  • Is there enough open space for the dogs to spread out? Too many dogs in close confines can be overwhelming.
  • How many dogs do they have together in one space?
  • Are they licensed?

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2. Ask questions

2. Ask questions

While you may be met by a more senior member of staff, it’s important to also chat and ask questions to the carers as they will have direct day-to-day contact with the dogs. And don’t be afraid to pose difficult questions:

  • What will my dogs day look like?
  • Who will be looking after my dog?
  • What is the staff-to-dog ratio? As a guide, Bruce’s operates on a ratio of 1 carer to 8 dogs.
  • Do they throw balls/toys/etc? While this sounds fun, in a group dynamic this can cause challenges.
  • Are the dogs transported and if so for how long do they spend on the doggy bus?
  • Do they accept un-neutered males over a certain age?

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3. Be prepared to commit

Puppy preschool

3. Be prepared to commit

Just like a child’s nursery, you must be prepared to commit for the sake of the child.

There are some doggy day care centres that offer a completely ad hoc booking system labelled as offering total flexibility. Whilst some owners may see this as advantageous, dogs thrive on routine and consistency, and this style of service takes that away from them.

At Bruce’s, every dog attends day care at least one full day per week. This routine and consistency leads to a happy group dynamic and when owners see this they realise that committing to at least one session per week makes absolute sense.

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4. Understand the effect of pick up and drop off times

4. Understand the effect of pick up and drop off times

Most day cares will offer a collection and drop off service for your dog. But it’s good to know how long your dog spends travelling. Longer opening hours doesn’t necessarily mean more playtime.

For example, if your dog is collected and returned during peak times (9am – 5pm), they may experience heavy traffic which results in a longer journey. Therefore, look out for earlier starts. Bruce’s collect between 7am – 8am and drop off between 3pm – 4pm.

Also make sure they use dog-friendly air-conditioned vehicles with vet-approved crates. You may not like the idea of your dog being in a crate, but safety in confined numbers is paramount. The dogs should not be altogether in one space. The crates also mean the driver is able to open them one at a time for the dogs, rather than opening just one door which runs a high risk.

Overall, choosing your preferred doggy day care provider should be fun and rewarding, for both you and your dog. They’ll certainly thank you for it!

Bruce’s has been the market leader for over 10 years and our founder Bruce Casalis sits on the board of advisors for DEFRA shaping the way the UK cares for its dogs. We are always happy to help so feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have.

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