It’s probably not something you like to think about, but you may need to bite the bullet and pay someone else to watch your dog for a little while.
After all, you only have so many free hours at your disposal, and your dog doesn’t deserve to be home alone and bored all day long. Or maybe you need to go on a trip, and there’s no one you trust to babysit your beloved pooch.
Eventually, you have to acknowledge the truth: You’re going to have to put your pet in dog daycare.
Cheer up, though, it’s not a bad thing. In fact, dog daycare can have a variety of benefits for your dog. We’ve rounded up six of the most important below.
1. It Helps Socialize Your Dog
Dogs need to be taught how to behave around others, regardless of whether those “others” are strange people or strange dogs. A dog that’s poorly socialized is much more likely to suffer behavioral problems down the line.
Doggie daycare forces your pup to interact with other dogs (and a few select humans) in a controlled environment. This teaches your dog manners, as well as helping them feel comfortable in a new environment.
Even better, the other dogs should (hopefully) be screened for behavioral problems, so you’re not likely to have to deal with aggression or other issues. If anything, the other pups will help teach your dog proper manners.
While it may take your dog some time to adjust to the new surroundings, they should soon fit in and look forward to playtime with their friends. This will give them confidence that extends to other situations and could help teach your dog how to behave properly at the pet store, the vet’s office, and anywhere else you need them to go.
2. It Relieves Boredom and Separation Anxiety
Dogs need stimulation. If they’re not properly stimulated, they can get bored — and that often leads to them destroying your furniture.
Daycare, on the other hand, is full of fun things to see and sniff. Your dog should have several other pups to interact with, so they shouldn’t lack for entertainment.
Many dogs don’t like being alone either. That makes sense, as they were bred to be pack animals, so sitting at home all day by themselves goes against their nature.
In many cases, this can lead to separation anxiety, which is bad behavior caused by fear or unease when left alone. It’s a heartbreaking thing to witness — but that doesn’t make it less frustrating to find that your new shoes have been torn to pieces or your new carpet has been peed on.
By taking your pup to daycare, you’ll ensure that they have company all day long. That’s good for their mental health — not to mention your shoe budget.
3. They’ll Get Plenty of Exercise
If you work all day, coming home to walk your dog around the block for 30 minutes isn’t going to give them nearly enough exercise. Most dogs need plenty of physical activity — more than most owners can provide, in fact.
It’s not your fault. You have to work, after all, and you’re often too exhausted afterward to play fetch for a couple of hours (you might also have a family that you want to give attention to).
That doesn’t matter to your pup, though. Without sufficient exercise, they can become obese, start misbehaving, or even become depressed. Dogs love to run and play, and they’re not happy if they don’t get to do so.
They won’t lack for physical stimulation at daycare. It’s like an all-day workout party; they’ll be chasing a dog around one minute and then wrestling with a different pooch the next.
When it’s finally time to go home, you’ll most likely have an exhausted mutt on your hands. That’s good for the dog, as it makes them happy and content, and it’s even better for you, as you can relax on the couch all night without feeling guilty about neglecting your pet.
4. Regular Daycare Provides Routine
While you might get bored doing the same thing every day, your dog craves routine. Doing the same thing at the same time every day is reassuring to your pup, so setting up a daily daycare schedule will help keep them calm and composed.
Many daycares take the routine idea one step further by feeding and walking your dog at the same time every day. That way, your dog will always know what to expect, which will help alleviate anxiety.
Don’t worry if you can’t take your dog to daycare every day, though. While a routine is beneficial, so is a nice surprise, so you won’t be doing your pooch any harm by skipping days.
After all, you can always teach them to rely on your routine of bingeing Netflix every night.
5. Daycare Can Keep Your Dog Safe
There’s nothing more terrifying than coming home to find a hole in your fence or your front door ajar — and your dog nowhere to be seen.
However, the sad fact is that many dogs escape while their owners are at work, and a sizable portion of those lost pups are never seen again.
Even a happy, well-loved dog is liable to escape if they’re left at home all day long. They might want to leave because they’re bored, because something at home frightened them, or due to sexual roaming.
If your dog is at daycare, though, you know they’re being watched all day long. Plus, they have no reason to leave, as they have all the fun and attention in the world right there at their fingertips (er, pawtips?).
Since most daycares require your dog to be spayed or neutered, sexual roaming will also have lost its charm.
6. Daycare Makes Dog Ownership Possible for Some People
There are many dog lovers out there who are unable to own a pup of their own. This could be due to the fact they live in an apartment, work long hours, or aren’t healthy enough to provide a dog with all the exercise they need.
That’s a real shame because owning a dog is fantastic for your health. Having a furry friend can improve your mood, reduce your stress levels, and even lower your risk of dying by 24%.
For many of those people, dog daycare can offer them the opportunity to bring a pet into their lives. It allows for busy people to own a dog without neglecting it, for apartment dwellers to ensure that their dog gets room to stretch out, and for those in poor health to ensure that their dog gets plenty of exercise.
The price of regular daycare may be an obstacle, but you should balance that against your increased happiness and improved health. It may just end up saving you money in the long run.
Are There Any Negatives to Dog Daycare?
While dog daycare offers many fantastic benefits, it’s not without its downsides. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you drop your dog off at the nearest location.
It’s Not for Everyone
Not every dog enjoys being around other dogs or thrives in areas that are loud and busy. In fact, some animals will find the activity at dog daycare to be incredibly stressful.
Also, as it turns out, some dogs just don’t know how to play.
Even worse, it may be difficult to tell if your dog isn’t having fun unless you can monitor them in action. Many shy or poorly-socialized dogs come home from daycare completely exhausted — but it’s because they’ve spent the whole day frightened out of their wits, not having the time of their life.
A good daycare should watch your dog and determine if they’re a good fit. Even better, some have camera systems that let you watch your dog remotely, so you can check in every few hours to make sure your mutt is having fun.
If your pooch isn’t a social butterfly, dropping them off at daycare will seem more like torture than a day in paradise. You’re better off hiring a dog walker to come by and give them fresh air than throwing them in with a dozen other pups.
Not All Daycares Are Trustworthy
Before you drop your dog off for the first time, you need to do your research to make sure the daycare is trustworthy.
Inspect their facilities in person to make sure they’re clean and well-maintained. Watch how the attendants interact with the dogs — are they abusive? Are they too permissive? Are they even paying attention?
Also, ask about their on-boarding procedures. A good daycare should try to weed out unsuitable dogs before they ever show up; this process should involve a lengthy behavioral questionnaire, disclosure of medical and licensing records, and an in-person behavioral assessment.
Of course, a refusal to answer questions or let you inspect the facilities is a big red flag. Don’t trust your dog’s life to anyone who seems like they have something to hide.
Daycare Can Be Expensive
Most reputable daycares cost upward of $25 per day (and you should be suspicious of those offering bargain basement prices). That adds up quickly, and it can make regular daycare out of reach for many owners.
There’s not really much you can do about this — either you can afford it or you can’t. However, be sure to weigh the costs against any potential benefits that you could receive.
For example, if you have an overweight pet, spending time at daycare could help them drop a few pounds. That could potentially save you a bundle in medical costs down the line.
Also, if your dog is being destructive because of separation anxiety, you won’t have to replace your furniture or your wardrobe every week.
At the end of the day, though, daycare will likely be a sizable expense no matter what. It’s just a question of whether you can swing it.
Your Dog Could Get Sick or Injured
Incidents between dogs can happen at even the most well-run daycare. Before you sign your mutt up, though, you should ask how often such incidents occur — anything more than two or three a year is too many.
That doesn’t change the fact that you take a risk by dropping your pet off. Not only could they potentially get hurt in a fight, but it’s also possible that they could injure themselves playing vigorously.
They can also get sick. Just like with dropping your kid off at school, leaving your dog at daycare exposes them to any diseases that the other pets have.
Now, hopefully, the other owners are conscientious enough not to take a sick dog to daycare (and hopefully, the attendants are alert and informed enough to spot a sick dog), but there’s still the risk that your dog will pick up a bug like kennel cough.
These risks are an inescapable part of taking your dog to daycare. However, leaving your dog home alone can pose risks to their health as well; you’ll have to decide for yourself which is likely to be safer for your dog.
What’s the Verdict? Should You Enroll Your Dog in Daycare?
Dog daycare can be a godsend for some dogs. It can teach them how to be more confident in social situations, instruct them on proper manners, and tucker them out thoroughly. Spending a time in a well-run daycare may even reduce or eliminate problematic behaviors.
It’s not for everyone, though. Shy or fearful dogs may hate all the commotion, and some owners may not have room in the budget for additional pet care expenses.
You know your dog better than anyone, so you’ll have to decide if they’re a good candidate for daycare. Dogs who enjoy it tend to thrive, though, so you should try to swing it if you think your pooch would have fun.
Featured Image Credit: Jayme Burrows, Shutterstock
- 1. It Helps Socialize Your Dog
- 2. It Relieves Boredom and Separation Anxiety
- 3. They’ll Get Plenty of Exercise
- 4. Regular Daycare Provides Routine
- 5. Daycare Can Keep Your Dog Safe
- 6. Daycare Makes Dog Ownership Possible for Some People
- Are There Any Negatives to Dog Daycare?
- What’s the Verdict? Should You Enroll Your Dog in Daycare?