1. Cleanliness. There should be minimal offensive odor and immediate clean-up of accidents, and the other dogs should be healthy-looking.
2. Playtime provided for the majority of the day. While a two-hour “naptime” is common, during the rest of the day, your dog should have time to play with staff members and other dogs.
3. Proof of current vaccinations. Distemper, parvo, rabies and bordatella vaccinations and/or titers should be required.
4. Adequate supervision. Staff members should be physically in the rooms with the dogs at all times; supervising through a window or a gate is not enough.
5. Safe staffing levels. A good daycare facility maintains an approximate staffing goal of one person for every 10 to 15 dogs.
6. Assessment of a dog’s suitability for the daycare environment. An incoming dog should be tested to ensure that she enjoys the company of other dogs, and should be acclimated to the group slowly and safely. She should be placed in a group of dogs with play styles and energy levels similar to her own.
7. Safety arrangements. Small dogs and large dogs should be segregated.
8. Size of the facility appropriate for the number of dogs. Ideally, each dog needs approximately 70 to 100 square feet of space for safe off-leash play.
9. A staff with experience and knowledge in animal group behavior. Look for staff members who attend seminars, belong to daycare groups such as the American Boarding Kennel Association daycare division, or have experience working with dogs in groups.
10. Appropriate control measures. Avoid daycares where the staff controls the dogs by routinely punishing or physically manipulating them. These control measures include interrupting the dogs by calling them away from a potential conflict, giving short (2-3 minute) time out periods, or redirecting the dogs to more appropriate behaviors.