Doggy Day Care

dogs playing in a park

Owning a pet is oftentimes quite similar to raising children, including the need for finding them a place to stay while you are out of the house. The majority of pet owners leave their pets at home, unattended during long days at the office. The downside to this is that dogs, especially young ones, need just as much exercise, attention and love as children do. One of the best alternatives to leaving a pet at home is taking them to a doggy day care while you are at work.

Doggy day care is similar to the human day care system. The pet owner drops their four-legged family member off in the morning on the way to work, and activities will be set by the day care depending on the dog’s interest level.

“A doggy day care should provide exercise, stimulation, socialization, and sometimes training to a dog that otherwise would be left at home alone during the day” said Dr. M.A. Crist, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. ” It can help with that dreaded ‘potty training’ in young dogs. Hyperactive dogs have an outlet to release some of that excess energy, and overweight canines needing to lose a few pounds can do so by exercising and playing in the play groups during the day. “

Doggy day care can greatly assist in the socialization of your pet. It may provide them with an opportunity to meet and greet with a variety of other dogs. According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, it is important to socialize puppies during the first three months of life. Enrolling puppies in a pet day care system can be an excellent way of socializing puppies in a safe environment where risk of illness and harm are minimized.

Although pet day care is an excellent way to care for your pet while you are unavailable, be aware that it is not the best option for every pet.

“Senior pets might be overwhelmed with the number of dogs romping and playing and might get knocked down, shy dogs may be fearful, and aggressive dogs should not be allowed” said Crist. “A well trained staff should be experienced in recognizing signs of disposition and anxiety that may indicate that your pet is not right for the day care setting. You need to feel comfortable and happy leaving them at the day care. You will know the answer when you pick up your pet at the end of the day if you have made the correct decision.”

Other benefits to the doggy day care system include the use of the day care as an adjunct with behavior modifications for treating separation anxiety. The day care is a place you can take your pet so he or she will not be left home alone to suffer from symptoms of separation anxiety.

“Play areas should provide a supervised, clean, and relaxed setting for the dogs” said Crist. ” Small dogs should be with small dogs and large dogs with large dogs. Most play areas are roofed shelters, indoor and outdoor, fresh water always available, imaginative toys with an attentive well trained staff. Most day cares do require vaccinations and that health records be up to date.”

If the idea of pet day care does not appeal to you, an alternative form might be a pet sitter that comes to the house and provides one-on-one attention to the pet.

“A full-time company will provide a dedicated pet sitter to your pet in your private home which will cater to its every need” said Crist. “Another service provided are dog walkers and dog runners that will come by the private home and take your pet for a walk or run!”

A second alternative is a privately-owned or in-home dog day care. They are often less expensive and have a fewer number of dogs being cared for at any given time.

“For dogs that are less social or shy, this might be a better option” said Crist. “In-home or private day cares offer your pet a home environment and a closer human-animal bond. The only negative might be the number of staff to the number of dogs being cared for. At least two or three people for five dogs should be present in case an argument broke out because one person could not handle things if this happened.”

All things considered, the best way to fully care for your sweet fluffy friend is to give them the constant love and attention they need just as much as people do. Limiting the time that you leave your pet feeling neglected and alone will help him to become a better socialized and well-rounded pet.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

Angela G. Clendenin
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