Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dangerous Daycares

I decided to write about daycares after I heard of a local daycare, who also does boarding, is scheduled to have over 100 dogs in its facility for the holidays. It made me cringe. As a former manager of a daycare, I know that 35 dogs in a facility is a lot. A group of 15 dogs in a playgroup is a lot. However if a facility is run correctly, daycare is the perfect place for a young exhuberant dog to get its needed exercise.
The problem with most daycares is that they open with the best intentions, but usually take in more dogs then what is safe, don't create playgroups based on play style, age and size, don't educate their staff on canine behavior and don't give the dogs enough breaks through out the day.
Daycares should ALWAYS do a temperament test on every dog who is considered. A test is only as good as the person who is giving it, so ask questions of the experience of the person (s) giving the test. Daycare should be a place where your dog is safe. Look for a daycare that has a ratio of 1 human attendant per every 6 dogs . Playgroups should never exceed more than12 dogs and should be based on age, size and play-style.
Dogs shouldn't be allowed to play for more than 45 minutes without a break. Breaks should be given in a quiet room preferably with crates.

In a well run daycare, the playroom would be lined with crates where dogs can get mini 'time outs' during play bouts. These time outs are great at keeping the arousal levels low and minimize dogs getting over tired and cranky.
Obedience training should not be ignored. Pulling on leash and door darting are common problems with a lot of dogs that attend a poorly run daycare. The staff should be in partnership with you to help curb these behaviors.

If you or someone you know is considering taking your dog to a dog daycare, here are some things to think about

  1. Visit the daycare without your dog during their 'pick up' time. Is the lobby chaotic? Are the attendants bringing the dogs to their owners in a calm controlled manner?
  2. Does the building have a odor? What is their disease management? What vaccines to they require?
  3. What is their protocol if a dog comes down with kennel cough or tests positive for giardia (an internal parasite)
  4. Does each dog go through a temperament test? What does the test involved and do you get to watch
  5. Are there breeds they don't allow?
  6. How many employees do they have and what is their training? Do they know first aide?
  7. How many attendants manage a playgroup ?
  8. What is their employee turnover rate? (an ill run daycare will have a high rate of turnover)
  9. What is the protocol if a dog gets bit? Is the biting dog excused from daycare? (may seem like a strange question, but I know a lot of dogs who have a bite history who have been allowed to stay in daycare)
  10. Have they ever excused a dog and what were the circumstances?
  11. Is there a vet clinic close by?
  12. Do they allow toys? Snacks? why or why not?

This is just a short list. I suggest anyone considering a facility that they visit a few times and interview them prior to bringing their dog and ask for at least 5 references. If you are able to do so, watch the dogs playing. Are the attendants paying attention to the dogs or are they texting or talking on their cell phones?

Dog fights certainly do happen in daycare, and its a risk that a dog owner should know before they take their dog. However, a well run daycare will have policies and procedures in place to minimize this from happening.

One last note. I believe that if one chooses to bring their dog to a facility they should only attend once, maybe twice, a week. Although a dog may come home tired, daycare is not a substitute for training and can minimize the human relationship. If your dog has separation anxiety, then daycare can help in between training, but is not a substitute FOR training. Daycare should never be a 'lifestyle' for any dog. PS...100 dogs is too friggin many!! There is NO WAY this many dogs can taken care of properly in a daycare setting! ok..rant off...

1 comment:

Amy Carlson said...

I get many dog day care "failures". Either dogs who end up WAY too hyper because they think that life means play all day like at day care, or from getting sick all the time.
Great post Teri!