Are you a dog parent new to Austin, TX, or have you just adopted your first dog?
Odds are that your new pup needs to keep busy when you go to work (or, work from home) every day.
It can be tough to leave your dog home alone, particularly if he's a high energy breed or still just a puppy. Anxious or highly active dogs may chew on things or destroy the furniture when left with nothing else to do.
Dogs are smart, and they need an outlet for their energy and intelligence, just like humans do. Doggy daycare is a great way to keep them busy, happy, and socialized with other dogs.
In addition to the company and playtime with other dogs, your pup will have professionals look after him. He will also learn socialization skills from meeting and playing with other dogs.
But, how do you select the best dog daycare for your dog in Austin? Here are our tips.
Is Daycare Safe for Your Dog?
Reputable daycares are transparent and ready to answer your questions on the safety of your dog.
However, how well-suited a facility is to your dog also depends on your dog’s personality, sociability towards other dogs, energy, and breed disposition.
Some daycares group dogs based on their personalities in different styles such as:
- Park style for social dogs.
- Homestyle which mimics the home setting for pups that may feel overwhelmed in a daycare yard.
- Separated play areas for more cautious dogs.
Dog professionals determine where your pooch fits best after carrying out a temperament and sociability test.
However, some dogs are not suited for daycare. For instance, if your dog has aggressive tendencies, putting him in a vulnerable situation that can cause insecurity and fear can result in a bad experience.
Instead, opt for a professional dog trainer or certified behaviorist to reinforce your dog’s good behavior.
Tomlinson’s Feed has additional resources on dog’s safety.
How to Select the Best Dog Daycare
Online reviews and recommendations are not enough when choosing a dog daycare. You should see for yourself whether the place will suit your pup.
Gather a list of several facilities and tour them to see the kind of treatment your dog will be getting and the environment they’ll spend most of their time in.
- Safety measures including well-maintained fences, webcams, and gates.
- Cleanliness and organization of the facility.
- The behavior of the other pups in the facility.
- How the staff treats the dogs and their owners.
Choosing a Doggie Daycare: Questions To Ask
1. Is the Facility Certified?
Ask for certifications from bodies such as the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACC), or the International Pet Boarding & Services Association (IPBSA), organizations that certify facilities that offer pet care services.
Also, ask about the staff’s credentials. Are the dog trainers certified behaviorists? You don’t want your dog in the hands of untrained or unprofessional staff.
2. How Does the Staff Interact With Dogs?
The best way to answer this is to observe them yourself.
Are the staff friendly with the dogs? Do they seem interested and give attention to the pets? Any signs of disinterest, rudeness, impatience, or harshness should be enough for you to walk away.
3. Does the dog daycare perform a Temperament Test?
A good facility should do a temperament test on your dog. All dogs are different, and the test helps determine which playgroup fits your pup, as well as how to treat them.
4. How Are the Play Areas Organized?
Are there separate play areas for different dogs, or do they all play together? Do they have separate spaces for rest and play?
A tired or overstimulated dog may need to take a nap or rest while others are playing.
Also, large or rambunctious dogs should not play together with small dogs.
Dogs play differently. Some love running and chasing, while others prefer wrestling.
If a large dog wrestles a smaller one, it might hurt the small dog.
If there are no separate playing areas, they should have different playing times for different groups.
5. What Is Their Spay and Neuter Policy?
Ask about spay and neuter requirements.
Some dog daycares have the facilities to manage packs of neutered and intact dogs separately. Others only intake spayed/neutered pets. It’s always good to ask.
6. What Is the Ratio of Staff to Dogs?
The International Boarding and Pet Care Services Association recommends a minimum ratio of one staff to 15 dogs. But, this can be customized depending on the group of dogs they handle.
For instance, a high-energy group of dogs should have more staff, while a less active group of pups could thrive with a lighter staff.
7. How Safe is the Facility? Are Dogs Supervised?
Again, pet owners should ask about their dog’s safety. Ask about the safety measures the facility is undertaking. Look for fences high enough that dogs can't jump over and well-rooted in the ground so that they can’t dig under.
There shouldn’t be spaces in the fences, and the doors dividing the play areas and those leading to the street should be secured.
Also, are the dogs supervised or left to play alone? Most facilities have webcams that dog owners can access through their website. Check in on your pup when you're away from the facility to see if there’s always a staff member supervising the pets.
8. What Happens When a Dog Is Injured?
Dogs are playful, and sometimes scratches and bites occur.
What actions does the facility take when a dog is scratched or bitten? How do they assess the injury? Do they have an emergency vet they can contact?
A good dog daycare will be responsive and show compassion, patience, and care for the pets.
After Selecting a Daycare
Finding the right daycare does not stop with your first booking. There are still some things to monitor to know if you made the right choice or not.
Usually, your dog’s behavior will show if they’re enjoying their stay. If you see any of the below behaviors, you might want to reconsider your choice.
- Agitation. At the end of the day, your dog should be tired but happy. Not stressed and agitated.
- If you have to drag your dog through the door in the morning, he’s probably going to the wrong facility.
- If he’s been quiet, fearful, and losing the socialization he once had before starting, you might want to look at how he spends his day.
- Look for signs of injuries. Some facilities may leave the dogs unattended and fail to notice injuries. If your dog is limping or seems to be in pain, he may have been injured.
This might mean you go back to looking for a better fit. Always look for one that’s more concerned with your dog’s well-being and helps maintain or better his socialization level.
What If You’re Going on Vacation?
Many pet parents often wonder what to do with their dogs when they’re out on holiday.
Some daycares offer overnight boarding (and spa services!) while others do not. Even if your dog's daycare doesn't offer overnight boarding, Austin has an abundance of excellent overnight dog boarding facilities--or if you want some luxury, a dog hotel.
Start looking early, not right before leaving. Ask your vet, friends, and family for recommendations, then tour the facilities.
How do they handle the pets? What are the boarding requirements? If you want to keep your dog on the same diet, can you bring your own dog food? Do they have daytime activities? How are the sleeping areas and the cleanliness overall?
If your pup has never boarded or been away from you in a while, you should consider taking him for a night or two to familiarize himself with the place.
Benefits of Dog Daycare
Apart from hosting pups when their pet parents are not around, other benefits include:
- Socialization: Your dog will meet people and other pups and learn to be comfortable around them.
- Learning Good Dog Behavior: With the help of professional dog trainers, he can learn positive dog behavior.
- Physical Fitness: Playing and running around with others will keep him physically fit and avoid obesity. More than half of dogs are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
- Peace of Mind: Even if you are busy all day, you will be at peace knowing your pup is in good hands.
- Curb Separation Anxiety: Leaving your dog at home may cause separation anxiety and he might end up with destructive behavior of chewing and destroying things. With the company of other doggies, he won’t stew in loneliness.
- Helps Maintain Routine: Like in children, structures and consistent routine helps your dog thrive. He can be confident knowing who and what to expect every day.
Average Cost of Doggie Daycare
In Austin and the Centra Texas area, expect to pay $22-$30 for a full day of dog daycare, or $15-$20 for a half day.
Most facilities offer weekly or monthly packages that are cost-effective compared to daily payments. There might be other charges like application fee, pick up and drop off fee, etc.
And, it's not all or nothing: you don't have to send your dog to daycare five days per week to see the benefits. Even 1-3 days per week can get your pup's energy out and leave him nice and chill on the days he stays home.
Additionally, if your pup will be boarding overnight, the charges are higher. Options range from a standard kennel to luxury hotels with charges depending on amenities like spa and ‘suite’ size.
You don’t have to feel guilty every time you leave your furry friend alone in the house. Or worse still, come back to chewed shoes and scratched furniture.
Look for a dog daycare in Austin where he’ll fit.