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Where to start with choosing the right doggy daycare? We’ve got you!

With an overwhelming amount of doggy daycare facilities popping up, it can be very exhausting to look for what may suit you and your pet’s needs. We’re here to help!

It is a super personal choice and while it is great to see more and more places come up, how could you possibly know where to start? In no order whatsoever – experience, knowledge, comfort, price point, honesty, and hygiene are just a few issues to touch base on.

While almost everyone is a pet owner, operating a space, looking after multiple pets, seeing the signs for when something may occur, knowing how to manage individual pets’ routines, staff schedules, client communication and managing expectations all take years of experience and knowledge.

Our own rescues were the inspiration behind Happy Buddies and, our personal experiences with daycares and dog boarding facilities urged us to be able to offer so much more.

I’ve worked in the pet care industry for 5+ years. Started off with vet nursing, then moved into daycare and relocation – I’ve seen the good and bad in it all. I decided to put together all the things I disliked and made sure when we built our space and our team, that we just weren’t any of that.

Petcare is not ‘one size fits all’ but every place should fit certain criteria and here’s what you can look out for.

Space! Space! Space!

Doggos need their own space to feel safe. It absolutely fills my heart when I see the dogs pick their own little corners to nap during the daytime. With so many things to be excited about – seeing their friends come to play, the zoomies in the open garden, the carers fussing over them – they MUST have their own space and allow themselves to rest.

Our overnight spaces are big enough to allow multiple pet families to sleep together AND have a carer in their room to put them to sleep – that’s how it should be. Social media is your best friend on this one – lookout for how many doggos you see in a picture and determine how much space could each have.

Playtime

If you’ve got a daycare telling you they’re an active play facility and they get the dogs to play as much as possible – walk away. This is something I have NEVER been a fan of and with all of us being at home during COVID, I’m sure everyone can agree that your doggo needs downtime. They are only small beings after all! Balance. You need balanced play and rest.

Does that mean the dogs get kenneled? No. We introduce movie time in the afternoons, dim the lights and maybe even have some classical music on, so they can find themselves a bed and have a little nap.

Being away from home is already stressful, so why overstimulate?

Besides playing with their mates and the carers, we introduce daycare activities from time to time to make sure they’re doing something different – going to daycare to sit in a room and run around is not what you’re paying us for. The doggies need to be learning something new, making new friends, and building their personalities.

Playgroups

Playgroups should always be managed based on the size and age of your pets. Point blank. Your dog’s comfort and safety are compromised otherwise.

Hygiene and cleaning practice

So many factors to this one, but overcrowded playgroups are the main culprit. We are lucky enough to be a part of one of the UAE’s largest veterinary pharmaceutical companies. So, we’re not just animal friendly with our cleaning products, we’re veterinary grade safe. Facilities need to be cleaned through the day and just as much overnight to ensure no contamination. We enforce cleaning protocols from my veterinary days, to avoid cross-contamination and clean – floors, gardens, grooming areas, walls, kennels, bedding, feeding supplies – ALL OF IT. And we only use fresh drinking water in all our water bowls and keep these clean and replenished during the day.

Outdoor areas and natural light

Warehouses come in different shapes and sizes. However, ensuring your daycare has a BIG ENOUGH outdoor space for the doggies to go to the toilet, run around and just be playful, should be mandatory. Slivers of an outdoor garden are no good. Is there enough natural light coming in? Doggies need to be able to regulate themselves and keep a routine, to maintain their hormone levels and eating habits. Your daycare should be equipped with natural light sources, so they are able to do so.

Honesty

You should always know what your pet is going into. Personally, while I would go off recommendations, being able to visit a space and know where and what my doggy would be getting up to, is so important. As long as we’re not disrupting the doggies when they’re winding down, we will always schedule tours of our space – nothing to hide here!

Needless to say (I hope!), mandatory vaccine checks and supervised introductions for the pets are a MUST. Other than the above, I think it’s always good to have a more personalized checklist for your fur baby and no questions are silly questions. Make sure that you feel 100% happy with your choice and see that your concerns are being addressed and your pets’ individual needs are being met.

That’s all for now!

Lots of love, Christine