Read time: 6 mins
28 Sep 2023
Advice from our very own Butternut Box Ambassador, WagWorks, a membership club for dogs offering daycare, health, grooming and training in SW London.
There are a few things you should take into consideration when choosing a doggy day care for your precious pup:
Before enrolling your dog in daycare, make sure the business holds a valid daycare license. The license indicates that the business has been inspected by their local authority and is complying with all the conditions set out in the DEFRA Animal Welfare Regulations. Key elements of these regulations include staff to dog ratios, how much space your dog has, staff qualifications, as well as hygiene and health protocols. The license is an essential starting point to ensure your dog’s wellbeing while away from home.
Check the daycare’s policy on accepting new dogs into their care. All daycares should be meeting with owner and dog and assessing the dog before they use their services for the first time. Daycare isn’t for every dog and an experienced professional should be discussing your dog’s history and specific needs to ensure it’s the right fit.
Health wise, you should be checking the daycare’s vaccination policy and view on parasitic treatments. The vast majority of daycares will involve groups of dogs socialising together and it’s important to understand who your dog will be socialising with and their health status.
You should also check the staff’s qualifications and experience to ensure they are qualified to work with dogs and ensure you have a full tour of the facility so you can understand where your dog will be spending the day, what the daily routine looks like and that the facilities are clean and comfortable for your dog.
Most importantly, what is the daycare’s philosophy? What does the company believe in? Ensure the company’s ethos is in line with yours and question how they support their beliefs in practice day to day.
A great question to ask is how they’re structuring the day – are all the dog’s needs going to be met? Is my dog going to return home happy and balanced having had a fulfilling and enriching day, or are they going to return home completely exhausted or overstimulated? Are the staff committed to reinforcing good behaviour and building each dog’s confidence, or is there a risk of your dog developing bad habits or worse, fear or anxiety? How are the dogs grouped? How is unwanted behaviour managed?
An experienced professional should meet with you and your dog before they attend daycare for the first time and help you answer this question. You should talk about your dog’s likes, dislikes, previous experiences, what their usual routine is, how they react to unfamiliar people, unfamiliar dogs. This will help the team build a bigger picture on your dog’s unique personality and needs, so they can advise you on whether daycare is right for them and how they will set your dog up for success.
What qualifications do the staff have? Have you had an opportunity to have a full tour of the facility and meet the team? Make sure you are comfortable with everything and that the business has the right protocols and policies in place to look after your dog.
Ongoing communication with the team looking after your dog is key to understanding how your dog is doing at daycare. You should expect a report after each attendance, with open and honest communication. Your dog should be happy to enter the premises and comfortable around the staff.
There is no right or wrong age to start daycare.
Starting daycare at a young age can often be beneficial in familiarising them with the environment and positively socialising them with other dogs at a key age. However, we would caveat this with ensuring the daycare facility has a specific programme for puppies. Puppies have very different needs to adult dogs (for example they require between 16-20 hours of sleep a day) and the socialisation process should be handled very delicately and led by an experienced professional.
If you have an older dog, it is important that you consider whether a daycare is right for their needs. Is there enough opportunity to relax and rest? What is the balance between physical activity and mental stimulation? Will they be grouped with like-minded individuals?
This really varies from individual to individual. At WagWorks, if we think the dog is suitable for our environment, we start with a two-hour introductory session and the team will then advise the owner on whether any further two-hour sessions are needed or whether they could progress to a half day and then a full day. The gradual increase is to ensure that the dog is not over-stimulated and the introduction to a new environment is taken at their pace. Early positive associations are essential.
At WagWorks, every dog’s daycare attendance routine is very different. We do not have any minimum requirements for attending daycare, so some dogs attend five days a week and some dogs attend one day a week. It often depends on their family’s working schedule and lifestyle, and also when the owners would like to treat their dog to a fun day with their friends.
Dogs can get stressed at daycare, it very much depends on the individual dog, their personality, the daycare environment and the management techniques implemented by the staff. There are many ways in which daycares can manage stress and help build a dog’s confidence, which should be a key focus for the team caring for your dog. However it’s important that the daycare remains transparent on this and how your dog is coping at daycare, as it may be that a different style of daycare, like home-sitting or 1-1 care, is more appropriate for their individual needs.
The amount each dog plays will very much depend on the individual dog. Just like humans, dogs have different likes and preferences, and some are more outgoing than others. The daycares daily schedule should consider all of a dog’s needs and provide them with opportunities to act out all their natural behaviours, from smelling, licking and chewing to playing, observing and resting. This means a dog should not be playing all day everyday as they will go home completely exhausted, which is not good for their wellbeing.
WagWorks offers the complete works to enrich the lives of, and partnerships between, dogs and their families. We do this through a holistic range of services, covering whatever your dog needs at any time, including healthcare, behaviour & training, daycare and grooming. Our members have exclusive access to these services without lengthy waiting times, alongside free health checks, flexible daycare plans, advice and support, for ultimate convenience and full peace of mind.
We are open from 7am-7:30pm, located on Fulham High Street - pop in and say hello!