Choose a Doggie Daycare that is Best for You and Your Dog

You may remember our German Shepherd/Akita mix, Roxy, from a previous article in which I discussed her unwillingness to heel.

Lately, I have also been concerned about her barking at and attempting to chase animals we pass during our walks. I quickly realized that the local dog park was not helpful for us.  I became a nervous wreck that she might bite a dog, and she picked up on my anxiety.  As a result, for the past year, we have treated her once a week to part-day play dates. I’m happy to share my experience with you and let you know her progress.

Roxy and I toured three local doggie daycare options.  We chose Dr. Boyd’s Pet Resort in Irvine, California.  To be honest, I kind of went with my first impression of the facility and how Roxy related to the handler.  Of course, I was also concerned with cost.  We were able to afford the part-day option for $25 and I picked a day and time when I was available to drop her off and pick her up.  After we submitted her application and vaccination records, she went for an evaluation to determine whether she was a good candidate to play in the yard.  I was greatly relieved that she passed the test and was allowed into the yard.  Of course, given her disposition, we followed her handler’s recommendations.  First, he suggested that she go Sunday mornings which is the slowest day of the week.  Second, she would benefit if she could interact with the same dogs and handlers each week.  After a short while, we both became accustomed to the routine and signed up for a multi-visit package to reduce cost.

Dr. Boyd’s Pet Resort

In our experience, a little time and money has really made a huge difference.  She has a chance to get out and socialize with other dogs, not just the humans she lives with.  Also, the staff are so welcoming and friendly; when we arrive they often greet her by name, which makes it easier to leave her with loving attendants.

Dr. Boyd’s offers other options, including one-on-one training that might have been quicker or more effective, but for us cost prohibitive.

Here is what to keep in mind when selecting a play option for your pet.

1. Safety: Is there a vet on premises for medical concerns? Do they request vaccination records?  Is there an attendant in the yard at all times? Are there a maximum number of dogs in the yard so they have room to play and explore?  Are there separate yards for large and small dogs?  What is their philosophy on how to handle and how do they remove aggressive or over-stimulated dogs?

2. Convenience: Is the yard open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week? Will attendants take time to discuss your dog’s experience at the end of the day? How easy is it to book an appointment? Are there veterinarian, boarding, and grooming options available?

3. Facility: Is there a camera to the yard so you can stream video to check on your pet?  Are there orthopedic raised beds for your pet to rest on?  Does the yard have entertaining features like a play structure?  Is there a dog run adjacent to the yard for separating anxious dogs or are they placed alone in a kennel?

4.  Staff: Are the staff happy to see your dog, or better still, remember your dog by name when she arrives?  Does the office maintain a file on your dog with handling tips in case the regular handler is away?  For instance, Roxy gets along with Ajax but does not like Rex, or she needs quiet time out of the yard for about 15 minutes each hour.

The play time and socialization has helped Roxy a great deal.  What does your dog like best about going to doggie daycare?

By: Stephanie Mikhail, guest writer 

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