How to Choose a Playcare Facility

Asking yourself how to choose a doggie daycare or dog boarding facility (kennel) can be a big question. This is the place your best friend will be spending a lot of time. You’re essentially interviewing the people who will be overseeing their care. Loving guardians want the best for their dog, but sometimes it’s hard to know what it is your don’t know! Whether you’re going to be joining us at one of our three Park9 locations or searching amongst our colleagues; we’ve compiled a checklist of things to ask your prospective playcare.

The Introductory Process

  • Do they have an enrollment process? Is your dog (and therefore all dogs at a playcare facility) assessed for suitability? Temperament? To determine an appropriate playgroup?
  • Do they ask you for details of your dog’s history to help them during their assessment?
  • Do they require proof of vaccinations at the time of admittance? Do they insist vaccinations are kept up to date?

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The Staff

  • Are dogs supervised at all times while in their care? Even overnight?
  • Are staff trained in dog group play? Dog behavior? Pet first aid?
  • What is the staff ratio like? Ideally, you’re looking for one trained staff member for every 10-15 dogs, depending on the group.
  • Are staff trained to administer medication if provided?

The Environment

  • Does the facility have resilient flooring? With your dog running and playing in this spot for several hours a day, it’s important to ensure their joints and paws are well looked after.
  • Will your dog ever be crated while in their care (and /or unsupervised)? You may be okay with this but you need to know.
  • Is there adequate space per dog to allow for healthy play? Ideally you’re looking for 50-100 sq. ft. per dog.
  • Do the dogs have access to fresh water at all times?
  • Is the facility clean? Is it odour free? Ask for a tour.
  • Does the building have A/C that they use in the summer? Is the building heated in the winter?
  • Do they employ some form of air sterilization? This would be ideal in order to prevent airborne diseases such as Canine Cough. Like children’s daycare, bugs can be passed around.
  • Is there proper security in place? You should look for 8-foot-high fencing in outdoor areas and double gating throughout the facility.

The Care

  • Are large groups of dogs separated based on their size and/or playstyle?
  • Do the dogs have plenty of group play time as well as appropriate rest time?
  • Can you bring your own dog’s food for feed times? This is especially important for boarding facilities.
  • Are dogs fed individually and rested after feedings? This is important to observe each dog’s intake and (especially in the case of deep chested dogs) for healthy digestion.
  • Is there proper protocol in place for emergencies? Does the facility have a consulting veterinarian? What are the emergency vet protocols should your dog require medical attention while in their care?
  • If dogs have access to grassy outdoor spaces or outdoor water/ponds, do they have a protocol for managing ticks and access to dirty water? Ticks are especially common in southern Ontario and can be life threatening. Water can carry bacteria such as guardia that can cause digestive issues such as prolonged diarrhea…Knowing that these issues are addressed in their protocols will help to keep you dog healthy while you are away.
  • If dogs are transported, what vehicle safety protocol is in place? You should look for tie downs and harnesses. Dogs should be supervised at all times while being transported and never be left alone in the van.

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Finally, as with any good business; ask yourself what level of transparency is there? Can you see the playgrounds? Can you observe other dogs, the suites or the room your dog will stay in while boarding? Web cams are a great way to stay in touch. Some playcare facilities may not have all the features we described. Some may have all of these and more and be priced accordingly! Ultimately, you must make the right choice for you and your dog when entrusting their care to a business so our last piece of advice is to trust your gut!