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Any day care you choose for your dog should be safe, secure and comfortable. Fences must be tall enough that even the most determined dog cannot climb or jump over. Double gates should be in place to prevent escape to the outside. Small and large dogs should have separate play areas and should not be kept together.
Indoor facilities should provide outdoor opportunities for pets to relieve themselves. Water in clean bowls should be available at all times. Outside spaces need covered areas with shade to keep dogs cool on hot days, while indoor spaces should have fans or air conditioning running during warm weather and should be adequately heated in cold weather.
In addition to being secure, the facility should be clean and have minimal odor. Although dog hair and slobber are excusable in any place with frequent four-legged visitors, pet accidents should promptly be taken care of and there should be a general “cleanliness” in the place. Odor is a common complaint in doggy day cares; look for a business that is aware of this issue and that does frequent deep cleanings to keep the space smelling as fresh as possible.
You want your dog to feel loved when he’s at day care — by the people as well as the other pets. Observe how staff members treat dogs at the facility; look for a day care that relies on positive reinforcement to gently provide boundaries for pets. Never use a day care where staff members push, jerk and use strong physical or verbal reprimands on the dogs.
Pay attention as well to the words they use to refer to the dogs, particularly when they talk about dog play behavior and body language. Objective descriptions of dog behavior and their indication of what the dog might mean in a specific context are much better than generic labels like “alpha” or “dominant.”
Finally, find a program that caters to your dog’s needs. Does your pet need medication throughout the day? Are there behaviors you would like him to work on during his day out? Look for a day care that is able and willing to provide medications as needed and that will aid with specific training issues — or with whatever else your individual dog requires.
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