Dog daycare providers can help you meet your dog’s needs for attention, activity and supervision. They provide a great antidote for bored, lonely or high-energy dogs with busy guardians who work away from home all day and don’t want to leave their dogs alone. Daycare isn’t for everybody—or every dog—but if yours enjoys playing and socializing with other dogs and the cost is appropriate for your budget, it can be a great option for your home-alone pal.
Daycare for dogs works similarly to daycare for children. You drop off your dog in the morning, and she gets to play, socialize, snack and nap while you’re off working. Then you pick her up at the end of the workday. Instead of your dog greeting you workday with loads of pent-up energy, she’ll be pleasantly tired and ready to relax with you all evening.
Most daycares offer half-day or full-day options and everything from daily and weekly to occasional care. Dog daycare is offered at facilities that are specifically designed as daycares as well as at traditional boarding kennels. Most are open 12 hours a day (from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. ), Monday through Friday. Some businesses also offer training, grooming services, dog pickup and delivery, and even transport to veterinary appointments.
You could think of most dogs today as “unemployed.” Dogs have been traditionally bred for jobs—typically in hunting, livestock herding, protection or guarding. But their main job today is Couch Potato! Unfortunately, boredom and excess energy are two common reasons for behavior problems in pet dogs.
The main benefits daycares can provide are:
- Relief from boredom
- Relief from loneliness and the anxiety that loneliness can cause in dogs (including separation anxiety)
- Socialization with people
- Much-needed exercise and socialization with other dogs
- Prevention of destructive behavior in the house when unsupervised
- Relief from guilt for pet parents who feel badly about leaving their dogs home alone all day
Good candidates for daycare are healthy, spayed or neutered and well-socialized dogs who really enjoy other dogs and seek interaction with them at every opportunity. Young dogs often adjust to the daycare environment better than older ones. If your dog is a regular at dog parks, and she plays a lot and enjoys herself there, then daycares are probably ideal for her.
However, some dogs do better sleeping at home alone than spending the day in the company of other dogs. If your dog has ever bitten another dog; is regularly aggressive toward other dogs (snarling, growling or snapping); is fearful, tense or anxious; or tends to avoid or just tolerate other dogs, then daycare is probably not right for her. Hiring a dog walker, asking friends or neighbors to visit your dog in the middle of the day, coming home at lunch, or taking your dog to a boarding kennel may be better options for you.
Other unsuitable candidates for daycare include:
- Unvaccinated puppies
- Females in heat and unneutered males
- Undersocialized dogs who haven’t had sufficient pleasant experiences with a wide variety of other dogs
- Bullies who tend to pick on other dogs
- “Dog dorks” who lack good social skills and whose intensity and energy often seem to annoy or scare other dogs
- “Fun police” dogs (often herding breeds) who run around trying to control the movements of other dogs and interfere with their playing