What to Look for in a Doggie Daycare

For dog owners who are reluctant to leave their dog home alone all day, doggy daycare can be the perfect solution that you and your dog will love. By attending doggy daycare, your dog can have the activity, stimulation, and social interaction they need to maintain their mental health and enjoy a high quality of life.

Doggy daycare attendance can make it easier to manage and care for your dog at home—especially when it comes to keeping them exercised and entertained. But the quality of doggy daycares can vary widely, and not every daycare will be a good fit for you and your dog’s needs.

If you’re actively considering a daycare setting for your dog, here are some factors to keep in mind.

Close up of dogs at indoor dog daycare

How Much Does Doggy Day Care Cost?

Several factors can affect the cost of daycare for your dog, including how many hours per week your dog attends, as well as the individual needs (medication, etc.) that your dog requires during the day.

For a commercial daycare—which can include indoor dog daycares, outdoor dog daycares and daycares that mix indoor and outdoor time throughout the day—a standard price is around $30 per day, with price breaks for weekly and month-long commitments. It’s typical for full-time daycare to cost between $400 and $550 per month for your dog.

Prices for an in-home dog daycare can feature much more variance. While in-home care can offer the cheapest options—with prices around $20 or even less, depending on the business—some in-home daycares that emphasize quality and/or personal attention may charge daily rates that match, or even surpass, the rates set by commercial institutions. Prices for premium in-home dog daycares can approach $40 per day, and sometimes more.

Dog Day Care Requirements

Most dog daycares have rules owners and pets need to follow to be accepted and retained by the daycare. While you should always find out the specific rules set by the daycares you’re considering, some common dog daycare rules include the following:

  • Dog vaccinations must be up to date. For liability reasons, virtually all dog daycares will require that dogs be up to date on vaccines and boosters. Be prepared to supply regular proof of your dog’s vaccination record as the daycare works to keep the environment safe for everyone.
  • Adult dogs must be spayed and neutered. This saves the daycare from the risk of possible pregnancies or other mishaps occurring on the property. Can unneutered dogs go to daycare when they’re young? It might be possible, depending on the daycare and whether they’ve set age limits. You might be more likely to get flexibility on that rule if you choose an in-home daycare.
  • Dogs must pass a temperament test. A behavioral evaluation is common practice at many dog daycares. This evaluation is necessary to make sure your dog is safe to bring into a daycare setting. Temperament tests reduce the risk of aggression between dogs at the daycare, and make sure your dog won’t suffer undue stress or anxiety in that setting.
  • Set pickup and drop-off times. Like a child daycare, your dog daycare will offer strict pickup and drop-off hours. If you arrive late to pick up your dog, you can expect to receive a surcharge.

What to Look for in a Doggie Daycare

Wondering how to evaluate potential daycares for your dog? Consider asking the following questions:

  • What training is offered to staff? A trained staff is key to a safe, healthy daycare setting. Ask about training and credentials for the staff, as well as how many staff are assigned to manage a group of dogs. The more staff available to oversee dogs, the better the control of the environment.
  • How are dogs disciplined? Prevailing guidance for dog daycares is to prohibit the use of negative punishment, and to instead manage and discipline dogs through positive reinforcement.
  • Is the daycare bonded and insured? This is especially important for in-home daycares, which may try to get around the cost of being bonded and insured.
  • How does the daycare communicate with owners? From daily and weekly reports to app-based communications and live video feeds, dog daycares use a range of strategies to communicate with owners. Find out how you can keep tabs on your dog and stay in touch with the daycare.
  • Are dogs separated by size? Some dog daycares separate small and large dogs to avoid situations where a large dog is aggressive with a small dog. If you own a small dog and/or prefer size-based separation, ask about this procedure.
  • What is the daily schedule at the daycare? Find out when feedings are offered, when and for long dogs go outside, whether dogs are given quiet time alone, etc.

Should I Tip My Dog’s Daycare?

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule around tipping your dog’s daycare, trends do suggest that tipping is not uncommon among dog owners. Unless a specific facility encourages tipping, this practice is up to your own discretion. You may choose to tip as a means of currying favor with the people caring for your dog, but if you decide not to regularly tip, you are unlikely to be offending any workers at your dog’s daycare.

If you believe your dog will benefit from attending a daycare program, the best way to support your dog’s health and wellness is to find the right daycare fit. Do your homework and find the daycare setting where the price and experience make it easy to say, “Yes!”