You’ve been feeling a bit guilty that your four-legged friend might need more than just you for company. So you’re thinking about taking him to a nearby doggie daycare to get a little frolic time with his own kind. But are those places safe for your dog? Do dogs really enjoy them? We asked Nana Will of Gold Hill, Colo., a dog trainer for more than 20 years. Will conducts seminars to train doggie daycare staffers at her facility, and also does staff trainings and consultations for doggie daycare facilities around the country.
Just like people, dogs can show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognize certain everyday substances-or allergens- as dangerous. Even though these allergens are common in most environments and harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies will have an extreme reaction to them. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested or contact a dog’s skin. As his body tries to rid itself of these substances, a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear.
Q: How can I tell if my dog would like doggie daycare?
A: Look at his personality. Does he enjoy the company of other dogs? Does he like to be around other dogs? Does he play with other dogs, and how well does he play with other dogs? Does he go to the dog park and love it? And how active is he? Not all dogs are suitable for doggie daycare. It’s a lot of activity and they need to be able to enjoy it. Some dogs are more low key. They like to just hang out with other dogs, but not necessarily play a lot. You have to know what level your dog is on.
Q: Dogs have been killed at doggie daycares. Is it safe for my dog?
A: You need to really check with the individual facility. Do they do a screening process? Do they have proper supervision and staff on the floor at all times, and the dogs are never left unattended. How well is the staff educated? Do they have security measures like double gates to outside entrances, no electric cords in play areas and safe, non-skid surfaces in the play areas? Do they have emergency procedures in place and what are they?
Q: What’s a safe number of dogs per class? Is there a staff-to-dog ratio I should look for?
A: It depends on the experience of the staff person and the activity level of the dogs. Some states have mandated minimums, like Colorado, where it’s a requirement of one staff person to every 15 dogs. The Pet Care Services Association, a national organization that’s involved in daycare, boarding and other pet services, recommends one staffer per 15 dogs, although allowances are made for more active groups, where a ratio of one staffer per 10 dogs is preferred, or less active groups, where 20 dogs per staffer is acceptable.