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When you come home after a long day, your dog is unfailingly excited to see you — and it's the best feeling in the world. But when you need to leave again for work or school, leaving your pup home alone can be heartbreaking. You wonder: Is doggy day care good for dogs like mine?
If your dog is alone for six to eight hours each day, day care could be a great option. Still, it's important to explore different day cares to find the best fit. You may wonder, how do I know if my dog likes day care? Worry not. Let's explore the basics of doggy day care and everything you need to know to see if your furry friend loves theirs.
What Is Doggy Day Care?
Although dogs' need for socialization, stimulation and exercise can vary based on personality and age, the general consensus is that too much alone time is unhealthy for any dog. If you're away from your home during the day for work, travel for pleasure or simply take part in many activities that keep you away from your pet for some time, you might want to consider a doggy day care.
So, is doggy day care good for dogs? It certainly can be! Doggy day care is an option for busy pet parents who want to ensure that their dogs' days are as fulfilling as their own. Much like day care for children, day care is designed to provide your canine friend with companionship, socialization, exercise and more. In fact, the American Kennel Club cites the following as some of the many benefits of doggy day care: "A chance to meet and play with other dogs, mental stimulation, a routine that relieves separation anxiety and boredom, exercise and [avoiding] the issue of having strangers in your home."
If this sounds like a good fit for you, a great first step is to research day cares that are local (either to your home or to your workspace) and then pay them a visit. If possible, spend some time observing the day cares in action without your dog. Pay attention to the space, noting general cleanliness, staff behavior and safety measures. Ask what the process will be to enroll your dog in their day care. And then, once you've found day care options you feel strongly about, it's time to give one a try.
How Do I Know If My Dog Likes Day Care?
Before you can answer this question, it's important to establish a comfortable and reliable day care routine. This includes bringing your dog to day care, saying goodbye, picking them up and spending some quality time with them at home. After your pup has had time to get used to the routine, the following signs will be good indicators that they enjoy the experience:
They perk up when you mention going to day care.
They're excited in the morning when it's time to leave the house.
They seem calm or excited when entering the day care facility.
- They respond positively to the staff at the day care facility.
They're happy yet tired when they arrive home.
They're relaxed and calm at the end of the day.
On the other hand, if your dog is exhibiting any signs of stress or aggression, it might be time to find a new day care and seek veterinary assistance. This stress, anxiety or aggression may be something as small as the facility or staff not being a perfect fit (but your dog would do well elsewhere), or it may be something more serious that your veterinarian can help with, such as an anxiety disorder that may require treatment.
Doggy day care is a great option for busy pet parents who want their pets to have active, engaging days. If you're looking for recommendations about day cares near you, consult your vet or a local pet care expert.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Instagram @ErinOllila or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.