My friend Jason Mayfield owns a pet boarding facility in the Houston area called the Bed Bath and Biscuit. He also trains dogs, zebras and apparently a slew of other exotic animals. Oh, and he founded the Southeast Texas Bear Refuge to provide a safe place for orphaned or abandoned bears, too.
A huge part of Jason’s boarding business actually consists of a doggie day care. My mom, who is in the middle of raising a Lab puppy, can’t say enough about how huge a help it’s been for her dog, Kemah, to attend day care three days a week. He gets to run around and play while Mom is at work and he comes home happy and tired. Mom feels good about Kemah not having to sit in a cage all day. She mentioned that the majority of dogs at day care are young dogs with working "parents" who aren’t happy with the notion of their pets being bored at home all day.
Jason was kind enough to give me this list of questions to ask a day care facility to make sure it’s a safe, reputable spot for your pooch. Having said that, I feel compelled to warn you that not unlike sending your human kids to day care, stuff happens.
Even at the best places, your precious pup could get nipped or pick up a "bug" (generally upper respiratory or GI, but usually nothing too terrible since reputable day cares won’t let you in the door unless the pet is current on shots).
Anyhow, it’s the nature of the beast. Even my human kids have both been bitten at day care!
With no further ado:
TOP 13 QUESTIONS TO ASK A DAY CARE FACILITY
(in no particular order)
1. How are dogs grouped in day care (age, size or activity level)?
2. What type of training does the day care staff have (dog behavior, CPR, first aid)?
3. What is the staff to dog ratio?
4. What methods are used to manage dog behavior within the group?
5. What type of play are dogs allowed to engage in?
6, Will I receive a daily report card?
7. What happens if my dog misbehaves?
8. What is the procedure if there's a medical emergency? Will my vet be contacted? Will I be contacted?
9. What will my dog be doing throughout the course of the day?
10. Will my dog have indoor/outdoor access?
11. How much is day care? Do you offer any packages?
12. How do you determine eligibility (e.g., temperament test)?
13. What are your vaccination/health requirements?
Jason also recommended that you "always tour the facility, meet the staff and the pay close attention to cleanliness."
"Take the time to observe the day care group and how the staff interacts," he added. "Don't leave your dog if you aren't comfortable with what you see, and [take] the opportunity to watch your dog in the playgroup on the first visit and randomly on subsequent visits."
So if your puppy is driving you nuts after work because he’s been bored stiff all day, or you just want him to have a little fun while you are at work, maybe doggie day care is something to think about.
Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll
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