Ballpark Estimate: $20 to $40 per day
You’ve heard of daycare for children, but have you considered using the same type of services for your dog? Canine daycare has been growing in popularity as more pet owners recognize the many benefits of providing structure, companionship and socialization for their dogs instead of leaving them alone during the day.
A Growing Field
The first dog care facilities came into being about a decade ago and initially, offered basic care and interaction with other dogs. In the past few years, the offerings at some pet facilities has grown beyond the basics to include all sorts of pampering, including grooming, “spa” treatments such as pet massage and aromatherapy, gourmet snacks and accessories, opportunities for individualized attention, obedience training and organized “play” groups with other pets. In fact, if money is no option, there is no end to the type of spoiling your lucky pet can get.
The Need That Exists
If you think that investing in doggy daycare sounds like an extravagance, you may have a dog that does well on his or her own and doesn’t need anyone to fill in while you are gone. But keep in mind that some pets with working owners crave interaction during the day and when left alone, get overly anxious and even destructive in the home and may bark and howl all day. By providing a safe and nurturing alternative environment to fill in while you are away, however, you can head off some of this negative behavior and make things better for you and your dog. In addition, doggy daycare allows your dog to get enough exercise and activity during the day so he or she will sleep well at night, and it also can provide an important opportunity for your pet to learn to socialize appropriately with other dogs.
Doggy daycare comes in all shapes and sizes. The perfect fit for you and your dog will depend on your budget, your schedule and your pet’s temperament. For instance, some dogs do best simply going to a private home, where all they need is a little human companionship and occasional walks. Other, more active dogs may be better served in a formal daycare facility that provides a structured routine with a large group of other pets and also offers designated space for activities including indoor and outdoor play, resting and meals. In addition, some owners prefer to hire a pet sitter to come to their own home and interact with the dog in his or her comfortable setting. Finally, you can find a variety of pet care services offering through some veterinarians’ offices, kennels, pet stores and grooming salons.
Weighing the Options
If you aren’t sure what type of daycare option would be the best choice for your dog, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of a few of the most common scenarios.
Private Doggy Daycares
For instance, if you are thinking of trying a daycare that is run in someone else’s home, keep in mind that home-based programs are usually less expensive than more formal options that incur more overhead. In addition, home-based pet care usually limits the number of dogs who can participate at one time and provides many opportunities for human contact and one-on-one attention throughout the day that can be valuable for sensitive or high-needs pets.
Larger, commercial daycare facilities often have more pets at one time and also have a larger number of staff members. Both things can be good or bad for your pet, depending on his or her preferences and temperament. Well-behaved puppies and very social dogs often do well in this type of setting, while older or high-strung pets may be overwhelmed by the noise and chaos of such a place. Good facilities should have separate areas for bigger and smaller pets to try to match energy levels and temperaments in the most appropriate way. In addition, some of the larger facilities can hire a variety of contractors to work with the pets and you may want to find out what type of training and commitment these people bring to the job. You may also be interested in finding out what type of staff turnover you can expect.
Further, if you decide to have a pet sitter come into your home once a day and simply feed and walk your dog, or even to stay with your pet overnight while you are away, this can be a very convenient approach but you need to make sure that whoever you hire is highly reliable and honest, since you they will have access to your home and its contents, and you also need to find someone who is very warm and experienced in caring for pets.
Other Things to Consider
Whatever setting outside of your home you select, you will want to find out the ratio of staff to pets. Experts recommend a minimum of one person to care for every 10 to 15 dogs that attend. In addition, you should assess the cleanliness of the setting and may even want to ask how much space is provided for pets. (The standard is set at 75 square feet of play area for each canine participant.) Further, you might ask what type of training the staff gets in interacting appropriately with dogs and also in taking any necessary disciplinary steps. Finally, if the place has an outside play area, make a point to notice what type of fencing or restraints exist to keep pets from escaping. If you prefer to hire someone to come to your home, you will also want to know how long the person will spend with your pet at one time and how many other pets they care for in day.
Requirements for Pets
Whether you decide that sending your dog out to a private setting or more commercial daycare best meets your pet’s needs, there are several requirements you can expect that your dog will need to meet. First, most daycares will ask you for proof of up-to-date vaccines and will require your pet to be spayed or neutered. In addition, your pet will need a clean bill of health to prevent spreading any infectious diseases. Further, most places will want to be sure that your dog has an amicable temperament and will not show aggression toward humans or other dogs.
Technology at Its Best
If you like the idea of doggy daycare but are nervous about leaving your pet in a strange place, you might be interested in a new web camera feature that some of the most modern facilities offer. These cameras are set up in the rooms so you can log online and view your pet throughout the day. This is a great way to see how he or she is doing and can offer real peace of mind while you are away.
What It Costs
The costs for doggy daycare can span a large range, depending on where you live and what type of service you select. Generally, taking your dog to a small private daycare in someone’s home can be the most cost-effective option. The price can start on the very low end at about $6 a day for a few hours of time and can go on up from there. Larger, commercial facilities with more staff, more resources and more overhead can start in the range of about $15 for a few hours. In both scenarios, you may pay up on up to about $40 for a full day, with some of the most luxurious pampering pet “spas” charging even higher rates. That being said, you can likely find many places that price their day services in the $20 to $30 range.
In any of these options, you can usually receive a discount if you book the services for multiple days a month or even for full weeks. In addition, if you have more than one pet, you can often receive a discount (between 10 to 25 percent) for the second one.
Some pet daycares will provide transportation for busy pet owners. Pickup and delivery can cost about $5 to $10 each way.
Then you can also expect that some of the higher-end daycare also offer a variety of extras, including special services, treatments and grooming that will be charged at a separate rate, depending on the place.
So you can expect to pay between $6 to $40 or even more to bring your dog to daycare for all or part of the day.
It is also worth noting that if you have someone come into your home to walk your pet, this can be anywhere from $5 or $10 a day on up to between $50 to $75 or more to stay overnight in your home and provide round-the-clock care. Keep in mind that private individuals whom you contract with directly may charge you on the lower end, while established pet care services may be more expensive.
Finding a Doggy Daycare in Your Area
To find a doggy daycare that is located in your area, you can do a search online, check your local classifieds or look in your yellow pages. You can also ask for recommendations from your veterinarian, your groomer and from friends, neighbors and family members with pets.
Further, you can look for directories of pet care services on the Internet. For instance, you can find a directory of options through the Pet Care Services Association. This website also offers some tips on evaluating services and choosing the best fit for your needs. To find a list of dog walkers and pet sitters in your region, you can also access a directory at Planet Pets. Finally, for some of the highest end luxury pet services and “spa” options, you can visit Pampered Puppy.