Pets are part of the family. It’s not just an overused sentiment; it’s true. So to make sure your pet gets the best fit for them with a day care, we talked to some local pet day care owners to learn how to get your pet in the right environment and how to get your pet acquainted with the day care before they stay.
Brandon Power, the owner of Healthy Hound Playground in Sterling, says one of the most important things to do is to request a tour of the day care to make sure it’s clean, well-staffed and not overcrowded. “Not all day cares are created equal,” Power warns, saying to make sure the specifications of the day care fit what you’re looking for, including whether dogs are separated by size or are all in one room and whether dogs get an outdoor break to use the bathroom.
Michele Fisher, partner at Always There Pet Care in Falls Church, suggests owners ask to see the playroom or rooms. “Be worried if they don’t offer” any tours, walk-throughs or even a camera to see into the playrooms, says Fisher, and be concerned if you have to schedule a time to tour the day care.
The tour will allow you to see if the day care playrooms are clean and not overcrowded, but remember, “plenty of dogs are a good sign,” says Fisher, meaning that if other owners are leaving their pets there, it is likely a good day care.
Fisher also suggested asking the staff about how altercations are handled, as dogs will invariably roughhouse eventually, and also how your dog is interacting with other dogs or enjoying the day care. Sometimes the day care is great for the owner but not enjoyable for the pet, and making sure both are happy is the best way to succeed.
As for getting your dog acquainted, Power and Fisher both suggest making sure your dog is already socialized at dog parks and leaving your dog at the day care for a trial half-day before leaving them for a whole day or several days in a row.
If you’re still concerned, Power suggests reading other pet owner reviews of the day cares online, but he warns to take some of the more spirited reviews with a grain of salt.