Is Dog Daycare Right for My Dog?

is dog daycare right for my dog?

For many busy dog owners, daycare is the perfect solution for providing their furry friends with necessary exercise and socialization. Active, healthy pups that get along with other dogs generally do very well at daycares like Paws ‘n’ Rec. Instead of leaving your dog home alone or hiring a dog walker to let him out for 20 minutes, your dog might be happier playing with friends all day. But plenty of new dog owners wonder whether daycare is right for them. We’re here to share our experience on when daycare is and isn’t right for you.  

Leaving a Dog at Home vs. Dog Daycare 

Have you ever come home from a long workday to find your dog staring at you with those big, soulful eyes? The last thing I want to do after 12 hours in front of a computer is take my dog to the park. Couch. Snuggles. Snacks. But my dog has other plans. 


Or maybe you’ve been greeted by a gnawed couch cushion or a pair of muddy paw prints on your freshly cleaned floors. If you’re coming home to a restless pup on a regular basis, you might want to consider taking your furry friend to dog daycare. 


At Paws ‘n’ Rec, your dog will enjoy plenty of exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation – all under the watchful eye of trained adventure guides. And when you come home at the end of the day, your four-legged companion will be happy, tired, and ready for a snuggle. So why not give dog daycare a try? It could be just what you and your furry friend needs.


And if you’re headed out of town for a few days, forget hiring a pet sitter. It’s far more comfortable for your pup to be in a facility surrounded by other dogs, especially ones they’re already comfortable with after attending daycare. You can learn more about whether boarding is right for your dog here. 


What’s a day at Dog Daycare Like? 

Well, it starts by making a quick reservation online to tell us you’re coming in for daycare. We leverage simple software, so you can easily book online whenever you want to come in for the day. Paws ‘n’ Rec is a membership-based dog daycare, so you’ll subscribe to a number of daycare days every month, reserve your days, and seamlessly drop your dog off then you’re ready for them to pawty. 


You’ll pull up to our front door, and if your pup has been here before, they’ll usually be jumping out of the car to get inside with their furiends. After we quickly check your pup in, they’ll head out for a few hours in our big outdoor, astroturfed yards where they’ll run and play with other dogs of a similar size and temperament. All our play groups are supervised by trained adventure guides. We maintain a 1-8 dog-to-person ratio in the facility at all times, ensuring we have enough staff on hand to manage all the pups safely.  


At Paws ‘n’ Rec, we run cycle-based playgroups (as recommended by veterinarians) – meaning our pups spend some time out in a group and sometime during the day relaxing in a suite. Like children, when dogs get overstimulated, they get tired. While we’ve worked at facilities that run all-day play before, we often found that towards the end of the day, dogs can get anxious and tired, leading to more aggressive behavior and the potential for more injury. With cycle-based play, we give pups time to relax and recharge before they head back for a romp in the yards. 


When you’re ready to pick up your pup, just pop into our lobby, and we’ll quickly fetch your dog for you. Better yet, add a bath to your daycare reservation, and you’ll be greeted by a tired and clean pup, ready for an evening of snuggles. The whole check-in/check-out process usually only takes a few minutes, so getting a full day of exercise for your dog is easier and takes less time than a walk. 

How Do I Know if my Dog Likes Dog Daycare? 

The best metric we have for whether or not a dog likes daycare is the “pull factor”. If your dog is whining to get out of the car, and pulls on the leash to head into the door for daycare, they’re telling you they love it here. We even have some dogs who go jump on their parents at check-out when they’re ready to go home, only to turn around and try to run back inside to play! 


While quantifying the “pull factor” is hard, we find that most of our pups start whining in excitement the minute they know they’re going to daycare. Some parents can’t even say “Paws ‘n’ Rec” without their dogs spinning around in circles at home in anticipation of the fun day ahead. 

Dog Daycare for Puppies

We start accepting dogs as soon as they are fully vaccinated, which generally happens around 16 weeks old. We’ve found that the sooner in a dogs life they start coming to daycare, often the better behaved they are with humans and other dogs over the course of their lifetime. According to veterinary studies: “Dogs that are appropriately socialized as puppies are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems as adults, including aggression and fearfulness.” 


Paws ‘n’ Rec requires proof of up-to-date vaccinations from a vet for all fur-members for the following vaccinations/health examinations

     *Bordetella (every 6 months if administered orally, yearly if administered via injection or intranasally)
     *Flea Preventative
     *Canine Influenza (strongly recommended but not required. There has not been a major outbreak in the Tampa Bay area for years, but if that ever occurs, we may require the vaccine for all fur babies)


If you don’t have your vaccination records on hand, we can help you obtain them from your vet


Does my Dog Need to be Spayed or Neutered to Attend Daycare? 

Most daycares also require all dogs to be spayed or neutered (altered) around 7 months old. Many mistakenly believe that this is to protect the spayed and neutered pups from unaltered dogs that may be hormonal. In fact, we often see that spayed and neutered dogs try to dominate the unaltered dogs. The altered dogs can generally sense that there is something different about the mature, unaltered dogs in the group, and it can be dangerous for all the dogs in our care. 


Today, many breeders and vets are recommending, and in some cases insisting, that larger dogs wait until they’re twelve months old before they’re spayed or neutered. While we completely respect that opinion, we still find that when dogs reach maturity around 7 months old, for the safety of all dogs, they need to take a break from daycare until they’re altered. Many of these dogs start with us as puppies, enjoy a few months of play and socialization, take some time off until they’re altered, and then rejoin the pack at daycare once they’ve healed up from surgery. If you have any questions about alteration cutoffs, we’re always happy to discuss it during your evaluation. 

Dog Daycare for Older Dogs

Many older dogs do really well at dog daycare, depending on their temperament and energy level. Every dog at Paws ‘n’ Rec goes through a free evaluation day where they spend time in the yards with us and our other members. That evaluation day allows us to ensure that any dog, regardless of age, size, or breed can safely hang with the pack. We’re also willing to administer some medications if needed, but we want to ensure that any dogs in our care can safely play with other dogs. If your pup is a bit too old to hang with the pack, Paws ‘n’ Rec may not be the best place for him.  

How Much Does Dog Daycare Cost? 

Many dog daycares charge by the day or sell packages of days. Paws ‘n’ Rec is membership-based, meaning we sell a set number of days per month that renew every month. With how in-demand our facilities are, this allows us to both serve the most number of dogs in our community and at the same time ensure that we are always staffing appropriately by allowing us to understand how many dogs may be in attendance every day. With a Paws ‘n’ Rec membership, you’ll get plenty of perks to other dog and wellness businesses around town, and we pride ourselves on being the best thing you can buy for the health and wellness of your dog. 

Individual Attention for Dogs at Daycare

While we spend plenty of time caring for every dog that’s with us for daycare or overnight boarding, we also offer “solo adventures” you can purchase like tail time, cuddles, fetch, the adventure park, splash zone, and other monthly specials. If you want your dog to spend some one-on-one time with one of our adventure guides, we’ll take them out privately and give them some extra TLC for you…and you’ll get some amazingly cute pics for the gram from it. Solo adventures are only available for dogs that are comfortable in a group setting. 

Dog Daycare for Anti-Social Dogs 

At Paws ‘n’ Rec, we only care for dogs that are well-socialized with other dogs and humans. We know there are plenty of really good dogs out there, especially those that were adopted from traumatic situations, that just don’t do well in busy environments with other dogs and people. That’s not to say we don’t love them, but for the safety of our staff and the other animals in our care, we aren’t the best option for their care during the day. There are other local facilities that do take dogs that need individual care and attention you can try, or you can work with a local dog walking service to have an experienced dog walker give your pup the one-on-one attention they may require. 

How do I get started? 

Dogs are social creatures, and they need to interact with other dogs in order to stay healthy. That’s why daycare is such a great option for active dogs. At Paws ‘n’ Rec, they’ll have the chance to play with other dogs and get all the exercise they need. And since they’ll be supervised by trained adventure guides, you can be sure that your dog will be safe and healthy. So if you’re looking for a way to keep your dog happy and healthy, dog daycare is the perfect solution.


If you’re ready to try out dog daycare with dog grooming services, we’d love to schedule an evaluation day for your pup. Fill out our membership questionnaire here, or reach out to whichever facility is better suited to you. We hope you’ll come adventure with us soon.