By Emily Gantt
Published: 12/17/2021, edited: 12/17/2021
Doggy daycare can be very beneficial for puppies, helping them develop social skills and minimizing isolation anxiety and hyperactivity — but that's not to say it's for every dog. Every dog is different, and when you're considering paying hundreds of dollars a week for pet care, it's important that you know the pros and cons.
To help you decide whether doggy daycare is worth the investment, we'll explore the benefits of doggy daycare for puppies. We'll also tackle common daycare rules, how to prepare a puppy for daycare, and pet care alternatives.
Safety is the top priority of doggy daycares, but to keep puppers safe, there must be rules. Most daycares share similar guidelines, but the exact rules depend on the facility. Below are some rules you'll likely encounter when shopping around for doggy daycare.
Age requirements vary from facility to facility, but almost all doggy daycares have age restrictions in place. Some daycares require dogs to be at least 12 weeks old before entering their program, whereas other establishments won't allow dogs under 6 months old.
You're unlikely to find a legitimate doggy daycare that doesn't require vaccinations for its furry clients. Core and kennel cough vaccines are mandatory for most daycare programs, and pet parents must show veterinary paperwork to prove their dog is up to date. Core vaccines include the distemper vaccine, adenovirus vaccine, parvo vaccine, and rabies vaccine. Depending on where you live, additional non-core vaccines may be necessary.
Almost all doggy daycares require that dogs pass a temperament test before joining the program. Temperament tests typically last from 1 to 6 hours and allow staff to assess how dogs will behave in a group environment. Keep in mind that some daycares charge for temperament assessments.
Since parasites can quickly spread through a facility, dogs must be on flea and tick medication and have regular fecal exams for most daycare programs. If staff finds parasites on a pet, most daycares will either send the pet home or charge the pet parent for treatment services.
Due to the high demand for pet care services, doggy daycares often implement attendance policies. Daycares may require reservations or have a minimum number of days each week that dogs must attend. Likewise, some daycares have a maximum number of days dogs can attend each week — you can read more about that in our guide on how often your dog should get doggy daycare.
Most daycare facilities ban the use of prong, martingale, choke, and buckle collars since these can pose risk to your dog and others. We recommend using a quick-release, snap-on collar for the days your dog will go to daycare. Unsure which type of collar your dog has? Check out this handy guide on how to choose the right collar for your dog.
It's important to mention that just because your dog is vaccinated against a contagious illness doesn't mean that they can't still contract (or spread) that illness. Most daycares instruct pet parents to keep their pet home if they are showing symptoms. Before dogs can return to the program, pet parents usually have to submit a written statement from a vet declaring the dog is healthy and no longer contagious.
To ensure a successful doggy daycare experience, you'll need to put in some work at home before your pup's first day.
Undersocialization can contribute to antisocial canine behaviors and make finding pet care extremely difficult. For this reason, you should start socializing your puppy with other humans and dogs as soon as you bring them home. Not only will socializing help your puppy prepare for daycare, but it will also help them prepare for daily life.
Your puppy will need some basic obedience training to excel in doggy daycare. Mastering simple commands like "sit", "stay", "down", and "come" will help your pet stay out of trouble and may even prevent accidents. Having reliable recall (the ability for a dog to come every time you call them) can help daycare staff remove dogs from dangerous situations faster and prevent escape attempts, dog fights, and injuries.
Make sure your pup also understands the word "no". Understanding boundaries is essential for dogs to have a safe and fun experience at doggy daycare.
Some daycares require dogs to be fully housebroken before enrollment. Even if the facility doesn't require participants to be housebroken, your puppy should be pottying outside full-time (or at least working on it) when you apply for doggy daycare. Successful house training will decrease the workload on daycare staff and make life a lot easier at home.
Puppies can gain a lot from structured and supervised play in a doggy daycare setting. Below are just a few ways puppies can benefit from doggy daycare.
Early enrollment in doggy daycare can help provide dogs with the socialization they need to become well-adjusted pack members. Dogs with inadequate socialization or limited exposure to other people and dogs tend to have behavioral problems and may develop fears or aversions. However, puppies who start doggy daycare at a young age may be less likely to develop these tendencies.
A vital part of socialization is learning to understand dog "language". Lessons in doggy social cues are important because they allow dogs to understand boundaries and may even prevent dog conflicts. Seeing how other daycare-goers respond to canine interactions teaches puppies how to react to similar situations.
Young puppies tend to get chew-happy when home alone, but doggy daycare can ensure you don't come home to shredded slippers every day. Going to doggy daycare will also prevent in-house accidents while you're at work.
Puppies require a lot of exercise and playtime, and doggy daycare provides them with just that. Regular physical activity builds muscle mass, helps with digestion, and may even thwart unwanted behaviors like jumping and chewing.
Boredom from staying home alone all day can cause depression, separation anxiety, and destructive behaviors in dogs. The right doggy daycare will provide puppies with the mental stimulation they need through group play.
Most pet parents would love to be with their pets all the time. Unfortunately, due to work and other obligations, the sad reality is that we can't be around to play with our pets 24/7. Doggy daycare is no substitute for the companionship of a pet parent, but it can provide the human attention and affection puppies need to thrive.
Parents of dogs with severe separation anxiety often dread coming home, anticipating accidents to clean and destroyed stuff to pick up. Doggy daycare can help with the symptoms and aftermath of separation anxiety in two ways.
First, it takes dogs out of their home environment so you don't have to worry about coming home to accidents and messes. Secondly, group play keeps dogs busy and gets their mind off their loved ones. After all, it's hard to be anxious when you're chasing your furry buddies around all day!
Dogs can get into all sorts of things when left to their own devices. But having a doggy daycare with diligent staff can prevent injuries from happening in your absence. That's not to say your dog can't get hurt at daycare — accidents and injuries can happen anywhere. However, having responsible supervision and a carefully controlled environment can decrease the chances of your dog getting hurt.
Doggy daycare can be an excellent socialization opportunity for puppies, but it's not for everyone. If your dog doesn't pass the temperament test or if daycare is simply too much for them, you can rest assured that you have options.
Drop-in sitters with Wag! can come to your home and take care of your puppy's needs while you work or enjoy some time away. Wag! drop-ins are different from doggy daycare in that they give dogs the individualized attention they want and need. Is doggy daycare not working out? Book a drop-in sitting service with Wag! today!
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