8 min read

Everything You Need to Know About Doggy Daycare


Written by Mel Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 12/22/2021, edited: 12/22/2021


If you’re a pet parent who works or attends school full-time, you undoubtedly worry about what your pup gets up to in your absence. Are they snoozing on the couch? Or are they gnawing, scratching, and peeing on everything you love?

To keep their pups safe and entertained while they’re away, many pet parents turn to doggy daycare. Much like child daycare facilities, doggy daycare keeps your pooch occupied while you’re working, attending school, or running errands.

With more than 16,000 doggy daycare facilities in the US, biz is booming, which means pet parents have “pawlenty” of options. But is doggy daycare the right choice for your fur-baby? The short answer: it depends. To help you decide, we’ll cover:

  • Whether your dog really needs daycare
  • The pros and cons of doggy daycare
  • The benefits of doggy daycare for puppies, adult dogs, and seniors
  • How many days you can take your dog to daycare
  • The average cost of doggy daycare
  • What you can expect on your dog’s first day

So, snuggle up with your pup and settle in for an informative read!

person in green shirt playing with brown dog - everything you need to know about doggy daycare

Affordable alternatives to doggy daycare

If you’re not 100% sold on the idea of shipping your doggo off to daycare, consider booking a drop-in visit, a dog walk, or overnight dog sitting or boarding with Wag! instead and save over 50%!

Whether your pup needs a quick potty break or an extended sleepover, the Pet Caregivers on our app have got you and Gizmo covered. Many Pet Caregivers are also pet parents just like you, which means they know the importance of top-tier pet care. It’s no wonder why 99% of all pet care services booked with Wag! end with a flawless 5-star review. Download the app today and start searching for your mutt’s “pawfect” match!

To decide which option is right for you, check out our guide on the difference between doggy daycare and Wag! drop-in services.

black dog lying on gray couch - doggy daycare alternatives

Does my dog really need daycare?

At the end of the day, only you can answer this question. Doggy daycare benefits our woofers in many ways, but it’s not the best choice for every dog. Before committing to a facility, do your research and explore all the pet care options available to you (including alternatives to doggy daycare).

You may want to consider doggy daycare if the following situations apply to you:

  • Your dog has severe separation anxiety
  • Your dog is prone to destructive behaviors
  • Your dog isn’t fully house-trained or crate-trained
  • You work or attend school full-time (8 hours a day or more)
  • Your dog is a high-energy breed that needs vigorous or frequent exercise
  • Your dog has special medical needs that you can’t meet due to your schedule

Doggy daycare: pros and cons

Like everything in life, doggy daycare has its pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide if the benefits of doggy daycare make it worth the investment or if the drawbacks are a dealbreaker.

Pros of doggy daycare:

  • No more lonely days at home
  • Socialization and exercise opportunities
  • Prevents destructive behavior (and protects your furniture!)
  • Other perks may be available, like agility equipment, training sessions, and on-site grooming

Cons of doggy daycare:

  • Less one-on-one attention
  • May give shy or sensitive dogs sensory overload
  • Could learn bad behaviors from other dogs at daycare
  • Higher risk of contracting illnesses like kennel cough
  • Potentially overwhelming for dogs who aren’t adequately socialized
  • Expensive (especially for pet parents who need doggy daycare 5 days per week)

For more info, check out our guide to the pros and cons of doggy daycare.

How doggy daycare benefits your pup

As we’ve already mentioned, doggy daycare isn’t cheap. Is it worth the investment? That depends on how much you’re able to spend on doggy daycare each month, as well as your pup’s age, health, and temperament. Let’s break down how doggy daycare benefits puppies, adult dogs, and seniors.

two puppies playing - benefits of doggy daycare for puppies


Doggy daycare is a “grrreat” way to keep young doggos safe and entertained while their pet parents are at work or school. Keep in mind, though, that doggy daycare rules can also be strict for puppies.

In addition to standard rules like having up-to-date vaccinations and parasite preventatives, puppies must also pass a temperament test and know basic obedience commands. Many facilities also enforce rules on collars, attendance, and spay/neuter status. Finally, very few (if any) facilities accept puppies under 12 weeks old.

With all this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of doggy daycare for puppies who are eligible for daycare:

pack of dogs running through grass

Adult dogs

You might think your well-trained adult dog will be totally fine with staying home alone for 8 hours while you’re at work. But even the best-trained dogs need to go potty and stretch their legs within that amount of time.

Additionally, some breeds, like Border Collie and Boxers, need near-constant physical and mental stimulation to thrive. Leaving these dogs at home for 8 hours without any activities to stimulate their minds or bodies is a recipe for disaster.

Here are a few ways doggy daycare benefits adult dogs:

  • Provides adequate exercise
  • Helps shy or anxious dogs come out of their shell
  • Sharpens existing socialization and obedience skills
  • Prevents destructive or undesirable behaviors caused by boredom

old dog lying in grass - benefits of doggy daycare for senior dogs

Senior dogs

If you’re the proud parent of a senior dog, you’ve undoubtedly noticed they just don’t move like they used to. But that isn’t to say they don’t need any exercise. Doggy daycare is a “furrific” way to give senior dogs the supervision and interaction they need without overexerting them.

However, be sure to read the rules before booking your dog’s spot at a local doggy daycare. Some facilities may charge extra to administer medication or provide medical care for senior dogs with serious health conditions. Tour the facility first to get a feel for the atmosphere and staff. You may also want to ask if the facility offers individual rooms or areas where senior dogs can chill out away from all the hubbub.

Now that you know what to consider before booking your golden oldie’s spot, let’s take a look at the benefits of doggy daycare for senior dogs:

  • Offers the supervision that senior dogs need
  • Prevents boredom and destructive behaviors
  • Ensures they get adequate medical care while you’re at work or school
  • Prevents house-training accidents (especially in senior dogs with urinary incontinence)
  • Keeps their mind active, which is essential for reducing the risk of age-related cognitive disorders

How often does my dog need doggy daycare?

Okay, so now you’ve got a good grasp on whether daycare is a good fit for your fur-child and how it benefits your dog’s overall wellbeing. Which means you’re probably wondering, “How often should I send my dog to daycare?” or “Is it okay to send my dog to daycare every day?”

The answers to these questions aren’t straightforward. First, and “pawhaps” most importantly, you’ll need to consider your dog’s needs and temperament. Do you trust them to stay home alone for 8 hours (or longer) without pottying in the house or injuring themselves? Have you left them alone for prolonged periods before? How well do they get along with other pups and people?

person walking dog on a leash

These are just a few questions to consider when weighing the pros and cons of daycare for your dog. Next up is your budget and work schedule. Ask yourself:

  • Do my work hours align with the daycare’s hours?
  • Are more affordable pet care alternatives available to me?
  • Will I need to pay an extra fee for early drop-off or pick-up?
  • How much can I spend on doggy daycare each week or month?
  • What’s my backup plan if I have a lean month and can’t afford daycare for my dog?
  • Am I able to transport my dog to daycare each day? (Or pay for transportation if the facility provides it?)

Answering these questions will give you a good idea of how often your dog can attend daycare.

Not only will you need to consider your pet’s needs, your budget, and your work schedule, but you’ll also need to read up on the facility’s terms and conditions. While some doggy daycares impose attendance policies due to high demand, others also limit the number of days dogs are allowed to attend per week.

With all this in mind, though, booking doggy daycare 7 days a week — or even 5 days a week — isn’t always a good idea. Dogs need to learn how to stay home alone and spend time by themselves. This not only ensures they won’t resort to destructive behaviors in your absence, but it also increases their overall comfort and mental wellbeing.

For a more detailed breakdown, check out our guide on how often your dog should get doggy daycare.

person sitting in front of laptop holding credit card

How much does doggy daycare cost on average?

Search the internet for doggy daycare facilities near you, and you’ll discover they can all be a little pricey. The national average cost of a full day of doggy daycare is $43. That’s “ruffly” $215 per week, or $860 a month.

Now for the good news: Many facilities offer discounts for active military/healthcare workers, as well as pet parents with multiple dogs. It’s common for daycare facilities to sell multi-day packages at a significant discount as well. You might even get lucky and find a facility that offers reduced rates for rescues.

But hidden fees can also increase the cost. Early drop-off or late pick-up can incur fees of around $30 per stay. Administering medication or providing medical care can also increase the price.

That’s not including application and temperament test fees, which you may need to pay before your doggo’s first day. Some facilities also charge a deposit. Pay attention to special holiday rates, too — many facilities increase their day rates during peak periods.

What to expect from your first day of doggy daycare

Okay, so you know “ruffly” how much you can expect to pay for doggy daycare and how many days per week your pup should attend. Now comes the fun part: your doggo’s first day with their new four-legged pals!

Wondering what your fur-child can expect from their first day? While every facility’s daily routine differs, here’s a general overview of an average day at a doggy daycare facility:

  • Drop-off. As pet parents drop off their fur-children, the dogs are split up into play groups based on their age, size, and/or activity level.

  • Breakfast time! If your pup hasn’t eaten yet, they’ll get a chance to chow down. To prevent stomach upset caused by sudden dietary changes, you’ll need to supply your pup’s usual kibble.

  • Morning group play. This is often the busiest part of the day for many daycares since the pups are super excited to see their friends. During this time, dogs often get to play games, run around outside, and enjoy other fun activities.

  • Special services. Many facilities offer a la carte services for an additional cost. Once your pup has had a chance to sniff out the other attendees, they may get to enjoy some one-on-one time with a staff member. These activities may include private walks and training sessions.

  • Snack time! By now, your pup’s tummy is probably rumbling. If you’ve provided dog treats (or your facility offers them), now’s the time for your mutt to munch. To prevent food aggression and other undesirable behaviors, pups are usually separated so they can enjoy their snacks in peace.

  • Naptime. After a long morning of playing, followed by a tasty treat, many pups are ready for a snooze!

  • Afternoon group play. Once the pups wake up, it’s time for more play. This play session is typically a bit quieter.

  • Pick-up. By the time afternoon group play is over, pet parents start arriving to pick up their fur-babies.

To learn how to prepare your dog for the first day of daycare (and beyond), check out our guide on what to expect from your dog’s first day of daycare.

person in green shirt sitting on grass holding brown dog

Find the “ultimutt” pet care solution for your pup

Still shopping around for a doggy daycare facility that meets your needs and budget? Need an alternative pet care option that better suits your schedule? Consider booking a service with Wag! instead.

Our on-demand pet care services are a convenient, affordable alternative to expensive doggy daycare facilities. When you book a drop-in visit with Wag!, a Pet Caregiver will stop by to check on your pup and make sure they’re comfortable — without you having to lift a paw. Plus, drop-in rates start at just $13 per 20-minute visit on average. Which means you’ll have more cash to spend spoiling Sparky with new toys and treats!

Download the Wag! app from the Play Store or the App Store today and start searching for your buddy's new BFF!

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