Just like people, dogs differ when it comes to socialization. Some breeds of dogs seemingly can’t get enough companionship from other canines, while other breeds are less sociable. When considering whether to socialize your four-legged friend, there are a few things to keep in mind.
No one knows better than you what kind of personality your dog has and whether or not they will fare well in a highly active, social setting. If you haven’t already, do a few practice runs with your pet by taking them to the park and other areas where there are other dogs and people. Study your pet’s behaviors. Are they skittish? Does your pet want to charge at passersby? If so, you may want to increase the exposure your pet has to others first and see if their temperament improves before you think about a daycare setting.
A dog that tends to be low active may not do well in a daycare because the sometimes long hours of extensive activity could be overwhelming and/or over stimulating for them. Again, dogs are similar to people. Not all breeds are interested in being social for long periods of time; some are more content being solo or with their owners chilling out at home.
If you feel daycare is a good match for your pup, the next step is to do your research on local facilities. Many states have a dog/staff ratio that is mandatory and you will want to know your state regulations for your dog’s protection and happiness. Interview prospective daycares as you would if you were considering one for a human being. Ask questions such as whether the breeds are separated or if they all share a common play area. Not all breeds are suitable to play together.
You will also want to know what kind of training the staff at the facility has-are there certifications they must acquire or are they expected to have a certain number of hours/years of training? A well suited staff member should have experience with basic dog behaviors, crisis intervention skills and body language at a minimum.
Finally, ask about the appropriate number of hours your dog should spend per visit to the day care. This will vary from facility to facility and also depend on your knowledge of your dog’s social adaptation level. A balance of the facility’s recommendation and your intuition of how long your dog’s stamina is will be a great guide.
Choosing to kennel your pet can be a difficult decision and is one that should not be taken lightly. Your dog is part of your family and his or her safety should never be compromised. There are specific things one should look for prior to choosing a kennel. Researching local options well in advance is imperative. Always tour the facility you are considering. Look closely at the cleanliness of the kennel and ask about health inspection certificates which should be visible somewhere around the business. Kennels will have odor but it should not be overwhelming. All kennels are required to keep vaccination records of each dog that is on the premises and the facility should have a strict check in policy for diseases that are communicable.
Ask about and observe the area overall. Pets should have ample room to run. Cages should be wide enough that your dog’s tail can wag and large enough that they can stretch the entire length of their body if needed.
Finally, ask questions relating to daily activities-are they structured? How often does staff intermingle with the dogs? Kennels should provide a safe and enjoyable, home away from home atmosphere for your pet.