Although doggie daycare may sound like a silly idea, it provides a much-needed service to today’s busy parents. Those who work long hours or are forced to leave their dogs alone for long periods of time are increasingly turning to doggie daycare facilities to care for their pets.

Doggie Daycare Benefits

Doggie daycare offers a number of benefits. You’ll relax, knowing that your pet is receiving proper care from the time you drop him off at doggie daycare in the morning until you pick him up after work. Dogs attending doggie daycare are well exercised and often both happy and tired after a day of fun and frolic.

While some dogs don’t mind being alone for long periods, many dogs find being alone very stressful. In severe cases, separation anxiety and destructive behavior occur when a dog is alone. Doggie daycare provides dogs with much needed socialization while their owners are working.

Types of Doggie Daycare

The two basic types of doggie daycare—at home daycare and fully staffed doggie daycare facility—have their unique advantages and disadvantages.

At-Home Doggie Daycare

An at-home doggie daycare is a small business run out of the caregiver’s home. If your dog is uncomfortable in the presence of many other dogs or you want your dog to receive more personal attention, an at-home doggie daycare may be your best choice. City bylaws usually restrict the number of dogs that can be kept in a personal residence, so at-home doggie daycare providers usually care for only a few dogs at any given time.

The limited number of dogs increases the time the daycare operator can spend with your dog. For dogs who prefer interacting with humans rather than other dogs, a small at-home doggie daycare can be paradise. Another perk of the at-home doggie daycares is the cost: they’re usually cheaper than staffed daycare, running between $8 and $15 a day.

The main disadvantage of at-home doggie daycare lies in its credibility. Because this type of doggie daycare is run by a minimal staff, you’ll have to ensure that a small doggie daycare has the experience, training and resources to run a safe facility. Check references carefully, and insist on a home visit to the daycare with your dog to see how well the daycare operator interacts with animals.

Staffed Doggie Daycare

Unlike the at-home version, a fully staffed doggie daycare is well suited for social dogs. A full staff doggie daycare usually cares for ten to twenty dogs that are split into groups according to their size, temperament and individual needs.

Trained staff is a major advantage of the larger doggie daycare facilities. During the day, the staff organizes outdoor play activities, take dogs for walks or keep the dogs entertained indoors. Some doggie daycare facilities have wading pools for dogs who like to play in water while some even go as far as offering doggie movies to keep dogs entertained.

As a stand-alone business, a staffed doggie daycare is more established than at-home daycare. Most staffed doggie daycares have insurance (as do some at-home daycares). Staff are trained to care for dogs, and often taught to prevent or deal with doggie aggression.

A good, staffed doggie daycare also has contacts with local veterinarians in case of medical emergencies, and pays special attention to older dogs.

However, staffed doggie daycares have their disadvantages. Not only do they offer less person-to-dog contact, but they also tend to cost more because they have a higher overhead than an at-home business. Costs vary depending on the accommodations of the facility but tend to be around $30 per day.

Doggie Daycare Requirements

Whether you opt for the at-home or the staffed version, doggie daycare requires proof of up-to-date vaccinations before accepting a dog. To prevent infecting healthy dogs with diseases and parasites, doggie daycares facilities expect dogs to stay home if they’re sick or infested with parasites. Others who leave their healthy dog at a doggie daycare expect to get their dog back in good health.

Choosing a Doggie Daycare

Vets, breeders, and animal shelters can often recommend good doggie daycare facilities.

Visit the doggie daycare before you enroll your dog. Are the facilities clean? Do they have plenty of activities to interest your dog? A staffed doggie daycare may have a curriculum of activities: ask if you can see the activity list.

Finally, go with your instincts. After all, you know your dog better than anyone else. If a doggie daycare doesn’t feel like the right fit for your dog, chances are you’re right.

Once you enroll your dog in a daycare, watch your dog’s mood. If she’s tired but happy when you pick her up, chances are she’s enjoying doggie daycare.