This is part 2 of a mini-series to help you find the best fit dog professional for you and your dog. A lot of information covered in our previous blog 'Find the perfect... Dog Walker' is relevant to Daycare so please have a read through that one too.
Though most of the pet care industry isn't regulated, Daycares and Boarders actually are, HUZZAH! This means that they will be licensed and monitored by their Local Authority / Council and have a criteria that they will have met and need to maintain to obtain and keep their licence. Whilst regulation is still fairly new, introduced only in Oct 2018, LA's/Councils are getting better at enforcing it all and catching up with the many businesses still flying under the radar.
Daycare comes in a many shapes and sizes, and has a number of names that can often be confusing. Different types of care fall under different types of regulation and licence requirements but the gist is:
Home Boarding & Daycare
Run from the providers home. Will be licensed for smaller numbers which are determined by the number of rooms within the home. It is common for new businesses to be awarded a high-risk status regardless of star rating, so don't panic if you see a 5 star daycare with a high-risk rating.
Run from a commercial space such as a warehouse or shop. This will be licensed for bigger numbers and is determined by sq/ft of usable space. This will also receive a star/risk rating as above.
The carer comes into your home to care for your pet. No licence is required for this service but ALL criteria set out for Dog Walkers will apply to sitters.
There are a number of third party sites that help connect you with pet care providers such as Rover, Tailster, and Bark. Be mindful that those providers are still required to be licensed if they earn over £1k per annum in any of the pet care field. So if your dog walker takes in the occasional boarder, they will most certainly need a licence. These third party providers do not make this clear so a number of people who do the odd bit of daycare and boarding may well be unknowingly operating without insurance and licence.
The Meet & Greet
Your opportunity to meet the providers, get a feel for them, their methods, and routines. In this instance, you and your dog will go to the venue, usually after hours or for a short introductory session.
Forms / Insurance / Qualifications / Memberships
Much the same as you would expect from a dog walker (see previous post) your daycare should have a comprehensive set of Terms and Conditions, and permissions for you to complete. Make sure you read them! I know it’s a boring task, but it’s really important.
Daycare, whether home or commercial is instructed as part of their licence terms to display their licence somewhere prominent. The Licence will stipulate how many dogs are permitted to have on site at any one time, their star rating, and renewal date.
⭐️ Check that your dog is covered by your own pet insurance to attend Daycare, not all policies cover this so be sure to check!
DBS Checks, Governing Body Memberships, and Qualifications are all extras that show a certain level of commitment to their business and dogs wellbeing. Most licensing authorities will require a recognised OFQUAL Level 3 qualification as a standard entry level qualification.
A Canine First Aid certificate from a reputable provider is essential!
Does your Daycare provide walks as part of the service or is the model strictly on site? What does their schedule look like and how do they ensure dogs are getting appropriate rest throughout the day.
Dogs love to play, but too much of a good thing makes Fido a grumpy dog. Rest is just as important as play, so getting the balance right is something daycare should know all about If you're finding your dog to be problematic, unable to rest, or reactive in new situations, have a chat with the daycare provider to ensure your dog is getting plenty of down time while in their care.
If your Daycare has a pick up and drop off option, refer to the previous blog, as the same criteria is set for daycare as it is for walkers.
Methods & Management
We covered a lot of this in the previous blog, but it's worth asking questions on where they sit with managing difficult situations. One daycare I know (not local) had a no-bark policy and enforced it by putting barkers into an empty crate for two minutes every time they barked until they learned to interact quietly. Whilst that does't fly under the Positive Reinforcement ethos it's not necessarily aversive and could still technically fit under the force-free bracket. This is why it's important to ask questions!
Every Local Authority / Council website will have a directory or contact to obtain a record of licensed providers in their borough.
In Lewisham Borough I can vouch for the following:
Iwona @ It's a Dog's World
Rebecca @ Dear Hounds
Gail @ Pet Pack
Adam @ Dog's Choice Daycare
Elly @ Elly's Ark
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