The term “doggy daycare” often has very American connotations, and it is certainly true that the idea of doggy daycare is a very new concept within the UK. The very first doggy daycare centres first began appearing around ten years ago, and were mainly restricted to London and other large cities. However, doggy daycare as a concept is growing in popularity all across the country now, and you will often find doggy daycare centres in even smaller cities and towns.
So, what exactly is doggy daycare? Well, it is like a crèche for your dog! Still confused? Read on to find out more!
Doggy daycare can best be explained as a short-term boarding service for dogs. Usually, dogs will stay for the day (such as the duration of their owner’s work day), being dropped off in the morning and collected at night, although care of just a few hours at a time may also be offered. Doggy daycare does not usually provide a kennelling service, and rarely offers provision to take care of dogs overnight. Added to this, it differs from kennels and boarding facilities in that the focus of the centre is on play, activity, exercise, and keeping the dogs entertained, rather than simply providing accommodation.
Doggy daycare generally offers a range of different play environments for dogs, including an outdoor play area, inside toys and playgrounds, and often, expensive and well thought out facilities to keep dogs of all sorts entertained! While steps will be taken by the staff to account for nervous dogs or dogs that do not get on well with others, generally, only sociable and fairly outgoing dogs will really thrive in the doggy daycare environment, and dogs that do not get on well with other dogs or that are particularly nervous will generally be rather unhappy.
Doggy daycare is essentially a pet sitting service, and generally speaking, the company or business offering the facility will have their own specially equipped premises to provide it. Multiple dogs will be present on the premises at once, and it is not a one-to-one service. However, the ratio of staff to dogs should be sufficient to ensure that all of the dogs there are kept safely entertained and cared for.
Generally, you will be asked to take your dog along to the premises by appointment before you wish to book them in, so that your dog can meet the staff, see the environment and be assessed for suitability. You will also usually have to provide evidence of your dog’s vaccinations and health records. If your dog is prone to aggression or unpredictability, the chances are that they will not be a good candidate for doggy daycare, and will usually be refused a place.
Once both you, your dog and the staff of the facility are all happy to go ahead, your dog will be enrolled within the centre, and you can arrange your future bookings when it suits you. You may book your dog in well in advance, or set up a regular schedule for care during your working hours, or you may be able to phone up and take your dog in on short notice, if there is an available space.
Precisely how much a day in doggy daycare costs can vary dramatically, depending on the area that you live in, the facilities available, and the type of dog that you own. Pricing may range from £10 to upwards of £30 per day, and more again if the centre offers a pick up and drop off service, or extended opening hours.
For friendly, sociable dogs, doggy daycare can provide a great opportunity to meet new people, play, socialise with other dogs, and work off excess energy! It can prove cheaper than hiring a dog walker or pet sitter within the home, and can offer a much greater range of opportunities for stimulus for your dog. Some facilities also offer training services and specialist care for dogs if requested, although this invariably comes with an additional charge.
If your work commitments or other commitments mean that you need to leave your dog alone for more than four hours a day, doggy daycare is one of the potential options that you can consider to provide care for them in your absence. It is infinitely preferable to leaving your dog unsupervised for long periods of time, and can work out cheaper and provide better value than arranging a once a day dog walker.
However, if your dog is nervous, shy, not used to other dogs or wary of strangers, they may find the doggy daycare environment very stressful, and not a good match. Just as with kennel boarding, some dogs will take to it right away and have a lovely time, while others will be counting the hours until they can go home!
Quite what the answer is for any particular dog is up to the owner alone to decide.
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