Doggy Daycare

Is your dog a “latch key pup” – that is, a dog that sits home alone, waiting to hear the key turn in the door on your return from a long day at the office? If your pal has taken to chewing your favorite pair of shoes or gnawing at the furniture while you’re out, it could simply mean she’s lonely and is craving some mental and physical stimulation. Signing her up for doggy daycare could very well be the answer.

 

These days, most cities offer a choice of facilities where your pal can have fun exercising and socializing with other dogs while you slave away at your desk to pay for it! Finding the right care center for your dog is similar to researching a play school for a child. If you are unable to get a personal recommendation, make a list of all the places in your area and visit each one to compare them.

What You Need to Know About Daycare

Ideally, the daycare center’s business hours should extend beyond the start and the end of your normal workday so you have time to drop her off and fetch her without rushing. It’s a good idea to inquire whether they charge a late fee when you arrive after the standard closing time. Some centers do run a canine taxi service which can be a great time-saver if you have a hectic schedule.

When you tour the facility, check to see how the staff reacts to all the dogs around them and whether all the dogs play together. Your pal may prefer a center where larger breeds are separated from the smaller ones. Make a note of how many water stations there are and ask how often they are refreshed. Most establishments require owners to pack their own doggy lunches to avoid any special dietary issues. Before she joins, your dog will have to pass a behavior assessment test to ensure that she’s well socialized and also provide proof that she’s had all her shots.

Most places don’t offer specialized walks because the dogs get enough exercise running around with one another. However, it’s important to ensure that there is both a spacious indoor and outdoor play area as well as a comfy, well ventilated nap corner.

Canine Enrichment

Many daycare facilities now call themselves “canine enrichment centers” and offer a variety of other services, such as obedience training, grooming, and massage therapy. Some even have a pond for supervised swimming, nature trails for the very energetic, and a recreation room with giant TV screens playing dog-orientated cartoons like “The Lady and the Tramp” where pups can retreat for some quiet time. Pet parents can also sign up for optional activities like doga (the doggy version of yoga) and paw painting classes.

What It Costs

Naturally, you get what you pay for and all this canine enrichment doesn’t come cheap! Be sure to ask about any discounts offered if you purchase for a fixed number of days a month or reductions if you have more than one dog.

If all this is beyond your financial reach, consider employing a dog walker for a daily outing. It should cost less. On this score, whether you rely on a professional walker or a neighbor, it has to be someone you not only trust with your dog but also feel secure giving access to your home.

Start a Dog sitting Club

“An informal arrangement with friends whereby you take turns to look after one another’s dogs at your home is an excellent idea,” says Diane Rich, a dog trainer and behaviorist in Kirkland, Washington. “For it to work well, the dogs must all know each other, be the same ages and size, and have a similar style of play. The designated person in charge for that week comes home during the day for some quality playtime and to check that everything is in order.

“However, it’s a good idea to organize supervised play dates first to observe the dogs’ behavior,” advises Rich. “If they are not destructive or vocal and have access to a doggy toilet, this type of casual daycare provides both the human and canine company dogs need without even spending a cent.”

If you don’t have friends with similar sized dogs or a work schedule that can accommodate this type of arrangement, it’s worth asking around to see if there’s a retired person in your neighborhood who would enjoy some canine company. They may be only too happy to spend time with your dog for a nominal fee – or for free!

As a last resort, leave the television on to “doggysit” while you are at work. Better still, invest in a special continuously playing DVD that shows dogs at play. The sight and sounds of other dogs will definitely help keep her amused until she hears your key in the door.