two schnauzer dogs playing on the grass at doggy daycare centre

Choosing the Perfect Doggy Daycare for Your Pooch


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Doggy daycare attendance is on the rise globally and many potential users are trying to work through sorting the wheat from the chaff. How do you find the right fit for your fur kid? How do you know they’re as professional as they need be? Why is there so much demand? Why are some centres already booked out?!

During lockdown, pet adoption rates soared. After all, months spent largely at home without much social interaction are made much more bearable with the presence of a fluffy friend. And the vast majority of us were working at home.

What to do with a newly solo pet?

Now, as people return to some semblance of normality and get back to the office, they’re wondering what to do with their dogs during the day.

It’s part of the reason more Aussies are giving up their pets to a shelter. Another is that dogs who’ve lacked socialisation throughout the pandemic, especially puppies in their formative period, are now going through behavioural issues. Separation anxiety in pets being one.

For many people, doggy daycare is the natural answer.

Even if you do work from home or don’t have to leave your pup alone for long periods, sending your dog to “kindergarten” for the day can provide much-needed time for them to play and socialise with other dogs. Plus, they come home tired and content – which is a serious win for your shoes and furniture.

But just like sending a kid to school, making sure your dog comes home happy rather than upset is all about making the right choice for them. So in an effort to make dogs across Australia fall back in love with the 9-5, we’ve got everything you need to choose the perfect doggy daycare for your pooch.

black labrador dog head close up sleeping on grass in sun

Do you really need doggy daycare?

Remember how lockdown had such huge knock-on effects on mental health for us humans? Turns out even those of us who identify as introverted or antisocial do need some sort of stimulation and interaction to be content.

In a similar vein, dogs require mental and physical stimulation, socialisation, and play to be well-adjusted and healthy.

It’s not unusual for dog owners to leave their dogs alone at home in a small apartment or out in the yard for an entire day. And yet, people are still surprised when they find it’s torn up the couch or a neighbour complains of non-stop barking.

As you can imagine, a lot of these troublesome behaviours are simply down to boredom, frustration, and lack of stimulation. And not adequately meeting your dog’s exercise requirements.

That’s where doggy daycare comes in. If you’re not in the house or your dog’s craving canine companionship you can’t provide, a daycare centre is a great solution. They’ll get dog on dog interaction, have space to run around and play, have someone responsible looking after them, and will come home feeling more content.

Because pet ownership can be expensive, know you don’t have to book them in to doggy daycare every day. Instead, you could consider taking them a couple of times during the working week so they’re happily snoozing and pottering around on their “days off” at home.

this girl cuddling daschunds wonders can dogs eat Weetbix at doggy daycare

Choosing the right doggy daycare

Choosing the right dog daycare starts with background research. There are loads of options in most states and territories – depending on where you live you’ll hopefully find one which suits your needs.

A good starting point is to ask for references or recommendations. You could ask your vet, friends, neighbours, and community social media groups. If one particular doggy daycare crops up often, it’s probably worth a look!

Of course, you can’t ignore good old Google. It’s always a good idea to run a search or two for dog daycares. Look into pictures, reviews, mentions of staff qualifications, and so on to get an idea of what to expect. It will also give you an understanding of what’s important to you and therefore what questions to ask.

Not all doggy daycares are suitable for all. Some of them only take small dogs, for instance, and others only take dogs over a certain age. Some are more focused on training and socialisation, whereas others are lower-key and basically give your pet a place to chill out while supervised.

So don’t be surprised if a dog daycare centre wants to do a trial day or sends you a questionnaire about your dog’s breed, habits, and personality. If your dog has any issues like anxiety or aggression, be upfront about them right away – you want the right fit for everyone and the right treatment for your precious pal.

Any reputable doggy daycare will insist your pooch is up to date with pet vaccinations too. This helps protects all in their care, and should be a priority for any organisation providing pet care.

black staffordshire bull terrier dog lying on pacing near plants at doggy daycare

Visiting in person

After doing your research and gathering information, you’ll probably have a list of one or two doggy daycares in mind. Once you’ve reached that stage, organise to pop down for a visit so you can then make an informed decision.

This is your chance to get a true idea of what the environment and care is like, so make sure you ask questions and have a thorough look around.

If you’re looking for a longer term pet care solution, read our tips on deciding between kennels vs pet sitters. Although know that some doggy daycare centres also offer boarding options!

Questions to ask

Here are some important questions to ask when you’re visiting the dog daycare.

Health and care

  • Are the staff trained or qualified?
  • How many dogs are there per staff member? Ideally there should be no more than 15 dogs per caretaker, but this can vary depending on the activity levels of the dogs.
  • How are emergency situations handled? Is there a specific vet they prefer to use? If you’re not contactable what’s their policy about treating an injured or sick dog in an emergency?
  • Is there a policy around dog toys or other resources? Some dogs can become aggressive when they resource guard. Just like children who don’t want to share “their” toy with someone else!
  • Do all dogs go in one area together, or are they separated into smaller groups? If so, how are the groups chosen? By age, size, temperament? Well-adjusted and appropriately sized groups can play a big role in maintaining a safe environment and limiting dog bites or fights.
  • What is the daily schedule? Are there set feeding times, play times, chill times? Do the dogs get walked or do they play at leisure?
group of three dogs running on grass at doggy daycare. Front dog is a beagle with a yellow ball in his mouth, followed by another beagle and a white terrier

General management

  • What are the opening hours? Is there a pick up or drop off service?
  • What’s the security of the doggy daycare like? Stolen dogs are on the rise and you don’t want to be a victim
  • What happens if you’re late for pick up? Is there an extra cost, will your dog be taken care of, etc?
  • What happens when staff get sick? Are there backups or does the daycare close?
  • What’s the cost, and are there upfront payment discounts? Do you save if you commit to three days a week versus one day, for instance?

Remember to take a look at the state of things like water bowls, kennels, and more. Check to see if any dogs are isolated or caged up. And note whether the dogs seem generally happy and healthy or if they’re anxious or scared.

Committing to a dog daycare

If you’ve found a dog daycare you love, it’s time to organise for your dog’s trial day. You want your pet to be happy and excited when they’re being dropped off at the centre, and peaceful and content when you fetch them.

Once you’ve picked the doggy daycare of your pooch’s dreams, the only thing left to organise is pet insurance. That way, you’ll have added peace of mind when they’re out of the house and having a blast without you.

Though a good daycare centre will take the best care of your dog possible, accidents can still happen and illnesses can be shared. PD Insurance’s dog insurance can cover your pup for all sorts of medical problems. There’s also third party liability damage cover, for damage your dog does to other people’s property and pets (if there’s no history of aggression).

Time for a quick quote?

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