So, I have had the privilege of having many dogs in my lifetime. I have been blessed for sure because I now know the great joy and pleasure these creatures bring to lives. I also have had to take my pups to boarding facilities.  Here is what I did not know and what you should know! I impress upon all our staff and owners that we are all about safety and a positive experience!

Questions to Ask When Touring a Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

Do you perform an assessment of all dogs entering your facility?  If so, which dogs are accepted or not, and why?

Assessments are very important to see if your dog is a good fit for the facility.


Some facilities like to have a dog do a half day assessment prior to boarding but that is not necessary. Most will accept dogs for Boarding as long as they are up to date with their shots and are safe to have one of our handlers take care of them. Here are several options for

  1. boarding only, they are welcome to board and do the board only (let out to bathroom and alone play time with handler 4 times a day)
  2. boarding with walks if they do the walk then they need to be appropriate on a leash.
  3. boarding with daycare. Your dog needs to do a minimum of a half day assessment prior to boarding and If the dog is going to do Day care then they need to be neutered or spayed if they are over 6 months old. 

Day Care:

Dogs should do a half day assessment prior to being admitted to day care. Dogs that are neutered or spayed are normally welcome to join if they pass assessment.

Some facilities have a lone wolf program for dogs that do not get along with other dogs really well. This program is set up for only one or a couple dogs that tolerate each other. If your dog does pass the assessment but does not get along with other dogs really well the Lone Wolf program is a great option. “True story my dog is one that needs to be in Lone Wolf depending on what dogs are in daycare.

Do you separate large from small dogs? How do you determine my dog’s playgroup? How large are your playgroups?

Good day care facilities have handlers that are very well trained and familiar with dogs and their temperaments. They will determine how dogs should be separated based on the assessment and the handler’s judgement.

At The Dog Nest, we have found that sometimes small dogs and big dogs have great temperaments for each other and have a blast together. We have more than 7 play areas for as many as 1 or 2 dogs and we generally keep the numbers under 10 but sometimes the handlers have a large number of dogs that love playing together and we may go up to 12 to 15.

How will my dog be introduced to the others on his first day?

So, with good daycares, your dog will be met by professionals and will be handled for a while to see how friendly and cooperative your dog is working with other people. Once they prove to be workable, we have a room where the dogs can be on opposite sides of a fence and they can sniff and see how they react to other dogs. Once they pass that test, they will be one on one with a handler and a group of dogs to make sure that your dog is safe and gets along.

Now, with all that said, dogs that pass with flying colors on their assessments sometimes begin to have major problems when they come for future days of daycare. And there has been the opposite where a dog was very frightened the first time they came and then came again and was a completely different dog. Dogs are similar to people in that they react differently in different environments. The main thing is to let owners know that it’s all about safety and to make sure handlers and dogs are safe. Quality daycare facilities will do all they can to make the transition to the facility a positive one.

How many people do you have supervising your playgroups?

One handler to 10 dogs is generally policy for most playgroups. For some dogs its less and for some its more depending on the dogs. Desk personnel and groomers need to be adept at handling dogs so they can help out when they are not busy helping customers.

Occasionally there are a lot of drop off customers and staff need to be on call to come help when that happens. If not, facilities need to limit number of dogs allowed to be dropped off unannounced.

When and for how long does my dog get to be outside? And where do they play when it’s too hot, cold or raining, windy, etc. Depending on weather, outdoor play areas are a great idea. Dogs, like people, enjoy being outside at least part of the day.
Will my dog get a break from playing? If so, when and where? Facilities should definitely offer quiet areas for nap time. Allowing dogs to snooze on a blanket in a very comfortable suite each day is a good idea. They should have rest time prior to playtime, then rest during lunch and then rest time prior to pick up at end of day. Dogs should be able to play for up to 6 hours per day.
How is my dog fed while he’s with you? Dogs should have very comfortable suites that they go into when it’s time for food. They get water numerous times a day and should be fed in the comfort of their suites.
When my dog boards with you, is there someone on site? If so, where? Most facilities are staffed for 12 hours a day and have on-call staff that do not live far from the facility. Many also have cameras installed to check on the dogs and the staff check those cameras several times during the night.
If my dog’s behavior needs to be corrected, how is this accomplished? Good Staff, Good Staff, Good Staff, Yes, I wrote that 3 times. It is imperative that there are knowledgeable staff that love dogs and understand how dogs think and behave. It is not just that they love dogs but understand the “pack” mentality and how dogs behave both alone and with others. Good staff are able to work with the dog’s behavior throughout the day to help with your pet’s behavior.
Other questions to consider asking: What if my dog is injured or becomes ill? How to you handle dogs that climb or escape? How many bites or fights do you see a year? How do you prevent fights? How do you handle a dog fight? What is your emergency plan for this building?

Good facilities love to have people ask us questions about their facility and staff.

I believe that if you find a facility that your dog enjoys going to and when he/she leaves she is a bit tired and seems happy you have found a great place.

If your dog ever seems upset to come into facility or shows different behaviors, I would check closer and ask more questions.

We look forward to seeing you soon at The Dog Nest!