By: Melissa Kolmar, CPDT-KA, SBA
I am often asked what to look for when choosing a daycare or boarding facility for a dog. We want to set our dogs up for success and, as much as possible, prevent negative experiences from happening.
First off, I would ask to tour the facility. If an establishment is unwilling to give you a tour, that is a red flag. You should be able to see where your dog will play, rest and spend their time.
I would also ask a lot of questions such as:
- How large are your play groups?
- How many dogs are supervised by one person? If it is more than 6, that could potentially be a red flag.
- How are they sorted? Usually it is by size, but playstyle is even better.
- How can you tell if a dog is not enjoying play?
- Do you have mandatory break times for the dogs?
- What do you do if play gets too intense?
- What experience does the staff have at reading stress and dog body language?
- What do you do if my dog is showing signs of stress?
- What are your thoughts on forcing a dog? (To go in a kennel, be handled, etc.) They should follow LIMA standards, which means Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive.
- Where does a dog go to rest?
- What is your training philosophy? This should be positive reinforcement-based, not corrections-based. You should ask this even if they are not actively training your dog. An employee’s training background influences how they interact with dogs.
- What are your emergency protocols?
- When will you let me know if there is a concern with my dog? If they say “when you pick him up”, that’s another red flag!