When it comes time for work, school, or errands, many dog owners find themselves in a bind. After all, they need to leave their pup behind – but don’t know who to trust to take care of them. Well, doggy daycare can be the perfect solution! But how do you choose the right doggy daycare for YOUR specific needs?

Furthermore, how can you make sure you’re picking a daycare that’ll be the best fit for your dog?

In this article, we’ll break down the process of choosing a doggy daycare and help make the decision easier for you and your pup!

Is Doggy Daycare Right for Your Dog?

Before you start doing any research, you first need to decide whether or not doggy daycare is the right choice for your pup in the first place. Before making any decisions, it’s important to consider:

When it comes to activity level, you want to make sure that the daycare offers plenty of opportunities for physical and mental stimulation throughout the day. For personality type, it’s important to find a center with staff that are willing to work with sensitive breeds and puppies.

Size is another big factor – daycares should have different areas for large dogs and small dogs so everyone feels comfortable. Finally, age matters – puppies often need extra care during the day and may require specialized attention.

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How to Choose the Right Doggy Daycare

Once you decide that doggy daycare is the right option for your pup, it’s time to start picking a center. By following these steps, you’ll be sure to find the right fit!

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What exactly is dog daycare? This Beginner’s Guide breaks down everything you need to know!

Step 1: Research Different Doggy Daycare Options

The best place to start? By asking around!

Talk to friends, family, and co-workers who have had experience with different doggy daycares in the area. Ask them what their experience was like, if their pup seemed to enjoy it, and if they had any issues.

You can also search online for reviews of different doggy daycare centers in your area. When researching these businesses online, make sure to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Make sure they have a legitimate, professional website;
  • Look over the website to ensure it has the information you’re looking for (e.g. services, rates, location, contact info, etc.);
  • Check out their level of experience, as well as any professional qualifications they have in the dog daycare industry;
  • See if they’re on social media – and if they are, check out their profiles and look over their content.

Furthermore, we also recommend reading through any comments and reviews past clients have left that business. This way, you can get an idea of what people have experienced while their pup was there.

Step 2: Visit The Doggy Daycare In Person

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, it’s time to take a trip and visit the doggy daycare in person. When on-site, make sure to look out for the following:

  • The quality of care – How do the staff interact with the dogs? In what ways are they being taken care of? How clean is the facility? Does it seem safe to you?
  • The environment – How does the vibe of the doggy daycare feel when you arrive? What reaction does your pup have to being there? How are the other dogs behaving?
  • The staff – How knowledgeable is the staff? Are they friendly and seem accommodating? How do they handle any issues that come up on the job?
  • Their hours of operation – How often will you need to take your pup there? Are the hours of operation flexible enough for your needs and/or fit with your desired schedule?

By taking the time to observe all of these things, you’ll be able to get a better sense of what doggy daycare would be like for your pup!

Step 3: Ask Questions

Now that you’re at the doggy daycare center, use this opportunity to ask all of the questions you may have. This is a great way to get a better understanding of the staff, service, and environment – so don’t be afraid to ask!

Common questions you may want to include are:

  • What breeds does your daycare accommodate?
  • How do you ensure safety for all pups?
  • If any behavioral issues arise with particular dogs, how do you handle them?
  • Would I need to provide anything for my dog, such as food bowls or toys?
  • What are your rates?
  • Do I pay by the daily, by the week, by the month, etc.?
  • Do you offer any discounts for frequent/regular visits?
  • How much exercise do the dogs get each day?
  • Are there regular check-ins with pet owners?
  • What type of dog training do you offer, if any?
  • If my dog has any medical requirements, how will you handle them?
  • Does your staff know first aid for dogs?
  • Will there be a contract for us to sign and will I get a copy of it?

By taking the time to ask these questions, you can feel confident that you’re choosing a doggy daycare that will truly fit your pup’s needs!

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Dogs playing in ball pit, senior Dachshund. Doggy daycare article.

Step 4: Make Your Decision

Once you’ve taken all of the above steps, it’s time to make your decision on the doggy daycare! Consider how the daycare felt to you, as well as how your pup reacted. How do the staff and services compare with other doggy daycares in the area? How does it fit into your budget?

Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a doggy daycare that’s reliable and trusted by both you and your pup.

Step 5: Keep an Eye on Things During the First Few Weeks

Sometimes, we think we’ve made the right choice – only to discover otherwise once a bit of time has passed. So, lastly, don’t forget to keep an eye on things during the first few weeks of your pup’s stay at the doggy daycare.

How is their experience? Are they being properly taken care of? How are they reacting to other dogs and the staff members?

By checking in every now and then, you can make sure that you’ve indeed chosen the right daycare for your dog… And that you won’t have to start your search all over again!

Does Your Dog Like Daycare?

If your dog enjoys their experience at the daycare you’ve chosen, you’ll probably see any of the following signs:

  • They’re happy and excited to go each day
  • They enjoy playing with the other dogs and staff members
  • They come home tired but content
  • You get regular updates on how their daycare experience is going

If, however, you find that your pup isn’t overly enthusiastic about attending doggy daycare, you may want to take a second look at the daycare and their policies. And if they suddenly seem to respond to the daycare with uncharacteristic anxiety, fear, or aggression, it’s probably time to find a new one.

Choosing a Dog Daycare: Green Flags

When you’re on the hunt for a doggy daycare, there are a number of green flags that indicate you’re getting warmer to finding the perfect choice for you and your pooch. So, let’s take a look at some of them…

1. The staff are welcoming and friendly.

Full stop: if you walk into a doggy daycare and the staff are rude and off-putting, you’re probably not going to want to send your pup there. But, if you find that the staff are warm and friendly right off the bat – take it as a good sign!

2. They have knowledge of animal behavior and needs.

If you’re reading this article, we assume it’s because you love your pet fiercely and take finding the right doggy daycare seriously. So, look for a daycare whose staff are well-versed in animal behavior, needs, and activities.

For example, how do they interact with the dogs? How do they respond to any issues that arise?

It’s one thing to have a good demeanor with dogs – but it’s a whole other ballgame to have a deep understanding of how to properly care for them. And since you’re leaving your dog in their care, you obviously want to ensure you’re putting their health into the hands of people who know what they’re doing!

3. They prioritize the safety of ALL dogs.

It goes without saying that safety should always be the number one priority when it comes to doggy daycare. How does the daycare keep all the dogs in their care safe? What would they do if there was any sort of altercation between two or more dogs?

Furthermore, you want to make sure that you’re not leaving your dog with someone who has a tendency to pick favorites. For example, how do they treat the smaller and more timid dogs? How does their staff handle any unruly dogs?

It’s important to make sure that all of the pups in the doggy daycare are being treated fairly and respectfully – no matter their size, breed, or temperament.

4. They offer competitive rates.

Of course, you want to ensure that the doggy daycare has your pup’s best interests at heart. But it doesn’t hurt if they’re also offering competitive rates as well!

So, do a little bit of research and look around for other similar dog daycares in your area. How does the one you’re considering stack up in comparison?

If the prices are comparable and you think their services match your needs, it may be time to make the call and set up an appointment!

5. You can easily book an appointment online or by phone.

Another good sign that a doggy daycare is the right choice for you is that they make it easy for you to book an appointment. Whether that’s through their website or by calling in – they should have options available so that you don’t have to jump through hoops just to get a tour of the facility.

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6. They’re trained in first aid.

Just like you would with a human daycare facility, you want to make sure that the doggy daycare you choose is well-equipped and trained in first aid. How will they handle an emergency if any of the dogs become injured or unwell?

Furthermore, are there veterinarians on staff – or at least nearby – who can respond quickly in the event of an emergency? It’s important to ask these questions and make sure that you feel comfortable with the safety protocols of the facility before you commit.

7. The staff have a genuine love for dogs.

This one goes without saying, but it’s important nonetheless. You want to make sure that the staff at the dog daycare genuinely love and care for all of their furry friends.

How do they interact with the dogs? How do they respond to any issues or concerns? Do they seem to legitimately enjoy their job?

These are all questions you should be asking yourself before you submit an inquiry – as well as during your tour of the facility.

8. The facility has both an outdoor and indoor play area.

Another good sign of a great doggy daycare is that they have both indoor and outdoor play areas for the pups. After all, not all dogs are suited for cold or hot weather. So, having an indoor area where they can run, jump, and play is essential.

And in terms of the outdoors – make sure that there’s plenty of space for the dogs to roam, as well as plenty of shade and water.

9. The dogs are taken out for walks.

Research shows that physical activity is essential for dogs to stay healthy – both mentally and physically. So, it’s always a good sign if the dog daycare you’re considering offers walks throughout the day.

When talking to the daycare directly, ask them how often they take the dogs out for walks. Furthermore, you should also ask how long the walks are, as well as the number of staff members that accompany them during these outings.

10. They have some sort of professional training/qualifications in dog daycare.

Last but not least, you want to make sure that any daycare you’re considering has some sort of professional training or qualifications in dog daycare.

How long have they been operating as a doggy daycare? What kind of training do the staff members receive? Are any of the staff certified?

These are all important questions to ask – and if they don’t have an answer to any of them, you may want to rethink your decision!

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Picking a Dog Daycare: Red Flags to Avoid

Finally, let’s turn our attention to some of the red flags you should be on the lookout for when picking a doggy daycare.

1. The facility is dirty and unsafe.

This one should go without saying, but it’s worth repeating. Any doggy daycare you’re considering should be clean and safe – both inside and out.

How is the facility maintained? How often are they cleaned? Do they regularly inspect for hazards or signs of disease?

If you tour the facility and find that it’s dirty, unsafe, or unkempt – then it’s best to look elsewhere.

2. They don’t provide regular check-ins with the dog owners.

You also want to make sure that the doggy daycare you choose provides regular check-ins with the owners.

For example, how will they keep in touch with you throughout the day? How often can you expect updates on your pup’s progress? If there’s a serious concern or issue, will they let you know immediately?

These are all important questions to ask – and any doggy daycare worth its salt should have no problem answering them! But if they can’t, then this is a major red flag to run away from.

3. The facility smells of fecal and/or urine odor.

This one goes a step beyond what we discussed in red flag #1. If the facility you’re considering smells of urine or fecal odor, then that is a HUGE sign that they don’t maintain cleanliness as well as they should.

Again – run away! This isn’t a good sign and it will almost certainly put your dog’s health at risk! In this case, it’s best to continue your search for the right doggy daycare and look elsewhere.

4. They have no online presence.

Say you’re trying to research a specific doggy daycare, only to find that they don’t have a business website and aren’t on social media. This should be a massive red flag!

In this day and age, having an online presence is essential for businesses. So, if the doggy daycare you’re considering doesn’t have one – then it’s best to avoid them altogether. Their lack of online presence could mean:

  • They’re not legit;
  • They haven’t been in business very long;
  • They’re not taking their business seriously;
  • Or, worst of all – they’re trying to hide something from you.

5. Most (if not all) of their reviews are negative.

You absolutely MUST look for red flags in a doggy daycare’s reviews. Is this overkill? Some might say so.

But is it extremely necessary?


If a business’s reviews are overwhelmingly bad, then that is a major red flag. If the reviews are almost all negative and they make mention of the same issues over and over again, then it’s time to look elsewhere.

When reading reviews for a doggy daycare, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do people feel about this particular doggy daycare?
  • Are their reviews largely positive or negative?
  • Is there a common complaint that keeps getting mentioned by more than one person?
  • How has the business responded to and addressed the negative reviews?

Yes, you can absolutely choose to give the business the benefit of the doubt… But we say, do that at your own risk. If you’d prefer to be more confident in choosing the right doggy daycare for you and your pup, then it’s best to steer clear of any business with more negative than positive reviews.

Australian shepherd dogs playing outside. Doggy daycare article.

6. They don’t ask you any questions.

Any doggy daycare worth consideration should be asking YOU questions, too. For example, they should ask you:

  • How your pup’s health is;
  • Whether they have any medical or dietary needs/restrictions;
  • How he/she reacts when meeting new people or animals;
  • The amount of exercise your pup gets on a regular basis, etc.

These are the kinds of questions that any responsible and reputable doggy daycare should be asking in order to serve you and your pup in the best way possible.

So, if the doggy daycare you’re considering isn’t asking you any questions, then it’s best to proceed with caution. This could be a huge red flag that they don’t care about the wellbeing of your pup like they should.

7. There isn’t enough staff to accommodate the number of dogs.

This is another red flag that you’ll want to look out for. How many staff members does the doggy daycare have? How many dogs are they taking care of at any one time?

If the ratio of staff-to-dogs seems too low (e.g., 1 caregiver for 20+ dogs), then this is a major red flag. Having enough staff to adequately take care of all the dogs is essential for a good doggy daycare. If they don’t have enough staff, then it’s likely that their services will be lacking and your pup won’t get the care they need.

8. They use negative reinforcement.

When you visit the doggy daycare, be sure to ask how they handle discipline. Do they use positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement?

Negative reinforcement (such as scolding, yelling, hitting) is never acceptable in any doggy daycare! This isn’t only cruel and unethical – it can also lead to serious behavioral issues for your pup.

So, if the doggy daycare you’re considering uses negative reinforcement, then it’s time to look for better options.

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PRO TIP: Here’s what positive reinforcement is – and why it’s widely regarded as the BEST method for dog training!

9. Their services are ridiculously priced.

When it comes to choosing the right doggy daycare for you and your pup, price is definitely something to consider. That said, if the doggy daycare in question has services that are too good to be true… then they likely are!

It’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. If a doggy daycare’s services are extremely cheap, then it might be a sign that they’re not providing the necessary level of care. But on the other hand, if the services are suspiciously expensive, then it could be a sign that they’re trying to take advantage of their clients.

So, how can you know what price is fair?

Compare the doggy daycare’s services to other local businesses in your area. Ideally, you want to find a doggy daycare offering services with a price point that falls somewhere in the middle.

That should give you peace of mind that you’re getting what you pay for – and your pup is being taken care of properly.

10. Their doggy daycare business isn’t registered.

This is a big one. In fact, it’s SO important that we specifically left it to the end in the hopes of it leaving a lasting impression. After all, how can you be sure that the doggy daycare you’re considering meets all the necessary regulations and standards if it isn’t even a registered business?

A good way to find out is if they’re registered with their local government or other official body. This means that they’ve gone through the necessary steps to ensure they operate safely and responsibly – which should give you peace of mind that your pup is in good hands.

On the other hand, if a doggy daycare isn’t registered, this could mean:

  • They’re not abiding by any official standards or regulations
  • The facility may be hazardous to your pup
  • Your pup’s health (and safety) may be at risk
  • It’s not a legitimate business

Basically, if you come across a doggy daycare that isn’t registered, it’s best to continue your search. More than likely, this isn’t the daycare for you or your pup!

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Final Thoughts

Choosing the right doggy daycare for you and your pup can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be! No matter what, it’s important to remember that your pup is in good hands – and that the doggy daycare you choose will provide them with the best care possible.

So, use these tips to help you find the right one for you and your four-legged friend. By looking out for the above red flags, you can ensure that the doggy daycare you choose is one that meets all of your needs… And more importantly, meets all of your pup’s needs.

Thanks for reading!

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