7 Things to Look For in a Doggie Daycare

Looking for a new doggy daycare or dog boarding facility? Here are 7 things to look for to ensure your pup gets the best care while you’re away.

May 1, 2024By Lauren Rey
things to look for in a doggie daycare

Need to go out of town and board your dog, or looking for a place for your pup to play while you’re at work? Pet parents across the country entrust their precious pooches to boarding and doggie daycare facilities every day. While most establishments have our four-legged friends' best interests at heart, some may overlook important details. Here’s what every pet parent should look for when shopping around for a boarding or daycare facility for their dog.

1. Emergency Protocols

sick dog
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From accidents to medical problems — pet emergencies happen! When they happen in a boarding facility or daycare setting, it’s important to know how they will be handled. Here are some important questions to ask when shopping around for a place for your pup:

  • What’s your protocol for handling injuries or medical emergencies?
  • Do you have a veterinarian on site?
  • If there’s no veterinarian on site, are you contracted with a local emergency vet clinic that you will transport my pet to?
  • What happens overnight? Is anyone monitoring the pets 24/7?
  • Is your staff trained in triage, first aid, and canine CPR?

The answers to these questions can help you decide if a particular facility is right for your pet. While it may not be feasible to find a boarding or daycare facility with a veterinarian on site, a good facility will have protocols in place to transport your dog in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, a good facility should have staff with some basic health screening knowledge and canine first-aid training.

2. Staff Training

doggie daycare staff
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In addition to knowing how to handle emergencies, it’s important to know what type of training the staff that will handle your dog has. Some good questions to ask include:

  • Does your staff have any veterinary or animal medical training? If so, what level?
  • Is your staff trained to detect signs of injury or illness in dogs?
  • Is your staff trained in the basics of canine behavior and can look for signs of discomfort, distress, or aggression?
  • Can your staff handle fearful, aggressive, or reactive dogs?
  • Does your staff know how to safely break up a dog fight?

Boarding or doggie daycare staff should have, at the very least, some basic canine health and behavior training to help ensure they can keep the dogs under their care safe.

3. Licensing, Regulations, and Insurance

regulations infographic
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It’s important to know if the facility you are planning to leave your dog with is properly licensed, regulated, and insured. Check your local or state requirements and inquire with the facilities you are interviewing to see if they are following requirements. While requirements can vary from district or state, most will include some sort of fire, hazard, and building safety regulations and inspections that must be passed in order to be operational. In some states or counties, these reports are public record.

4. Safety and Security

fire safety
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Just as we take safety and security seriously at home, the same principles should apply to where you are leaving your pet. Most facilities should invite you in for a tour. If they don’t — that’s a big red flag! Here are some things to look for and ask about while touring the facility:

  • What safety and security protocols are in place to protect the pets?
  • Is the outside fencing secure?
  • Are there smoke detectors, fire alarms, and a sprinkler system?
  • Is the staff trained in evacuating the pets in the event of an emergency?
  • Is the facility’s temperature controlled, and do you have a generator in case of a power failure?

It’s vital that any boarding facility or doggie daycare have systems in place for temperature control, fires, and emergencies — especially if pets are left alone overnight!

5. Feeding and Walking Protocols

dog food
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At home, most dogs are used to following a similar routine each day. In boarding, their feeding and walking times may differ from the schedule they are used to so it’s important to ensure they are being fed and walked enough, and at the appropriate times. Be sure to inquire about when feeding and walking times are and how many walks your dog will get per day. In some cases, you may be able to request additional walks or choose a kennel with outdoor access so your dog can go potty whenever they need.

A good boarding facility or doggie daycare will also have protocols in place to prevent gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), or more commonly known as bloat. This is a life-threatening condition in which a dog's stomach becomes twisted. Feeding too much at once or too close to playtime or walks can be a risk factor for this condition so good facilities will have prevention protocols in place.

6. Temperament Testing

doggie daycare group play
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Many people opt for doggie daycare, so their dogs can socialize and play with other dogs. If a facility allows group playtime, it’s important that they do temperament testing first. This helps ensure the right grouping of dogs, and in some cases, dogs that shouldn't be socialized will be identified before being placed in a group setting. This helps make sure all different personalities are accommodated and cuts down on the potential for fights to break out.

Be sure to inquire about what the protocol is for group play. If a dog is not given some sort of assessment prior to being released with a group of dogs, this can be a big red flag!

7. Disease and Parasite Prevention

flea combing
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With so many dogs coming and going, boarding facilities and doggy daycares can be a hotbed for disease and parasites if precautions are not taken. To keep your dog protected, make sure the facility you choose has preventative protocols in place. Typically, this will include things like vaccine and parasite prevention requirements for all dogs, screening for fleas and ticks upon admission, thorough cleaning, and quarantining any dogs displaying signs of infectious diseases or parasite infestations.

Lauren Rey
By Lauren Rey

A lover of all animals, Lauren’s background is in the veterinary world, but she is now a content writer on travel, wildlife, and all things pets! She’s based in Florida, but when not writing, she’s usually plotting out a new road trip route with her partner-in-crime. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks just as much as her mom does!