Doggy Daycare: Why Size Matters

Dogs, like children, have individual needs and personalities. I have worked in a variety of dog daycares and have met countless pet parents searching for the perfect fit. There are a lot of factors to consider when finding the right place for your dog, but today let’s focus on the size of the facility itself.


Who should go small

The largest selling point of a small daycare is the handler: dog ratio. The handlers will get to know your dog intimately and will know when something is amiss in regards to behavior and health. This makes a lot of pet parents feel safer and more informed. Small works well for young pups that are just learning play etiquette, as handlers have more ability to micromanage these interactions. They also tend to be perfect for senior dogs. Small groups are inherently calmer and diminish the risk of injury.


Small groups can help break the ice for a dog that is nervous around new dogs, people, or environments and they work well if you’re looking for certain commands or training to be continued during daycare. While handlers are not trainers, it is more likely that they will have the time to remember and work on certain commands.



Small facilities also tend to do basic training exercises (sits, stays, downs), and incorporate agility equipment or treat puzzles to keep the day more engaging.


Who’s better off going big

Young, high energy dogs will do better by leaps and bounds in a large facility. They need space to run. They need playmates that can match them in size and play style. They need things like outdoor yards, pools, tennis ball time, and many other activities that are only possible somewhere larger. In a smaller daycare, you may find your dog having a lot of “time outs” simply because the space and other dogs aren’t a good fit.


Large facilities also have the ability to work with dogs that are dog selective (i.e. don’t care for a certain breed/size/etc…). They have enough clients and enough space to specifically create groups that work for your dog. If you’re a regular most businesses are more than happy to do this, just discuss the issue with them honestly.



If your dog is non-social and still needs a place to hang out while you work, large facilities accommodate this. Although they will still spend a lot of the day kenneled, they should be receiving potty breaks, walks, or individual play times throughout the day.


Ultimately, you will find a place whether it’s large, small or middle of the road, which works with your dog’s personality. You may even want to mix it up, doing a couple of chill structured days at a small facility, and a couple of bustling play days at a large one. There’s nothing wrong with variety, and I’ve known many clients who use 2-3 different companies to meet their dog’s needs.

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Desiree Mulkey

Desiree is freelance writer with a passion for pets. She has years of professional dog wrangling experience, and the stories to prove it. She's a Chicago native, and spends her summers at the dog beach or hiking with her furry companion, Louie.

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