Don’t Ignore These 5 Red Flags at Doggy Daycares

I recently wrote an article about why size matters when choosing a doggy daycare. Today, I’ll share 5 red flags you should never ignore.


So, you’ve picked out a place that sounds amazing and it’s time to schedule a tour. Yes, please schedule a tour. All of the fancy advertising and inspiring mission statements in the world cannot make up for an in-person evaluation of the facility. Pay attention to the red flags below and make sure your daycare is up to snuff.


  • This place stinks! Okay, let’s be fair. There are tons of dogs there. They will go potty, drool, and generally smell like dirty dog. That is acceptable. When you work around dogs consistently, you stop noticing that smell. What’s not acceptable is built-up odor and general uncleanliness. I have walked into facilities that have made me gag. It’s not often, but it happens. The workers should be mopping and picking up anything undesirable as quickly as possible. If there is pee and poop piled up, they aren’t on their cleanliness game. Not only is this gross, it also increases the chances your dog will pick up worms, giardia, and other nasty parasites that thrive in unsanitary conditions. Some odor is normal, but if you find yourself gasping for air, move on.



  • They’re all alone. I have seen daycares leave small dogs to fend for themselves. Small dogs are viewed as a “less risky “group. They fight less and they aren’t powerful enough to be destructive. Unfortunately, some daycares take this as a free pass to leave them unsupervised. They may watch them from a camera or have someone peek in occasionally, but there is no actual handler assigned to their group. Aside from the fact that this is completely neglectful and unethical, it also indicates they are cutting corners everywhere. Even if you have a large dog, take this as a clear sign to stay away.


  • There are way too many dogs.  This one can be harder to spot. Large daycare facilities can look hectic and overwhelming. If you’re touring the facility, there’s a good chance the dogs will rush the fences or windows when they see you. You’re unfamiliar and exciting. This can make the situation look more unmanageable than it actually is. That being said, make sure to ask about the dog to handler ratio. It should be around 15-20 dogs per handler, or less. So, if there’s a group of 40 dogs, there should be at least 2 handlers in group at all times. There should also be enough space for the dogs to play, move around, or be left alone.


  • The staff looks miserable. Doggy daycare can be stressful, and tours tend to rile up the dogs. You may see a frustrated handler, especially if the group is not behaving well. That’s normal. But if every worker looks absolutely miserable, it’s a company problem. Most people work in the industry because they have a passion for animals. This will reflect in your conversations and interactions with the staff. They should be friendly, informative, and knowledgeable about dog behavior. If you’re feeling lukewarm after a tour, I would suggest stopping by another day. Find out if it’s a rough day or if that’s their everyday attitude.



  • They accept everyone. Some facilities are desperate to raise their numbers and will adopt lax policies when it comes to daycare. This can mean anything from skipping evaluations to cutting back on vaccine requirements. Some clients like this, because it’s quick and convenient. There’s no hassle. But in the long run, it means your dog will potentially be exposed to preventable illnesses and dangerous dogs. The facility should require a structured evaluation and a current vaccination record before allowing you to schedule any daycare or services.


There are many pros and cons to consider when choosing a daycare, but this list will keep your pooch safe while you explore your options. As always, trust your gut instinct and embrace the adventure.

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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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