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Doggy Day Do or Doggy Day Don't!?

When a friend of mine started adding Doggy Day Care as an extra service to her already booming dog grooming business, people laughed at her. “You think people are going to PAY you just to babysit their DOG!?”.
The idea seemed ridiculous at the time for dog owners and non-pet parents alike. Yes, yes I do. She smiled smugly. 

And yes, yes they absolutely do!

Doggy Day Care is now a thriving sector of the pet care industry and for something that barely existed a decade ago, it has fast become almost the norm for modern, savvy pet parents.

As our pets have morphed from just a presence in the yard to the dolled up, decked out Instagram stars of today, you are more likely to find a dog wearing a bandana, eating organic treats on their humans bed than outside in the yard lying in a patch of dirt. These days, pets are more like children and are usually an important part of the family unit (and allowed on the couch!).

 

Busy, millennial dog mums and dads pay upwards of $50 a day to keep their dog occupied, exercised and not chewing the furniture at home, and many new businesses now exist to fill this space.

So what do doggy day care centres DO with your dog all day?
Is it safe?
Do dogs even like it?

Not all day-cares are created equal, so i​t is​​ important to be your pets best advocate and ensure where you are sending them for the day is a safe and secure environment where all their needs are attended to. This can be as simple as there being access to clean water at all times and as complex as making sure nervous and anxious dogs get the love and supervision required in a big group of boisterous animals. Managing large groups of dogs is not for the faint hearted and it takes a lot of skill and knowledge to prevent undesirable behaviour that can worsen to fights if not deescalated quickly.  

Sending your puppy to DDC is a great way to socialise them safely which will help ensure a lifetime of polite doggo behaviour. At times where many Puppy Pre-Schools are not running, its SO important your puppy gets some form of socialisation before the critical time period of around 12-16 weeks.

Whilst we love the idea of our dog having a great time partying with his friends all day, it’s important to remember that day-care is not suitable for all dogs, and even if we really want our dog to enjoy the company of other dogs, this is not always the case. Some dogs just need their confidence built and they will learn to love daycare but others will simply never enjoy being in a big group of dogs. And that’s okay! Although it can take longer for some pets, its safe to say that nearly all dogs can benefit from attending doggy day care, just keep the conversation open with your daycare as to how they are progressing if you are concerned they are not enjoying themselves.

 

Many dogs end up at daycare because of certain behaviours, and if it isn’t right for them it can actually have a negative effect. If your dog is having any serious issues with anxiety, aggression, resource guarding etc, see a reputable positive reinforcement dog trainer or veterinary behaviourist to discuss if daycare could be beneficial for them.

We reached out to twenty or so doggy daycares around Melbourne and asked them for the information you need to make an informed choice about sending your dog to day-care. Before choosing a place for your dog, be sure to ask about the staff to dog ratio, what happens if there is a fight and what measures are in place for nervous dogs. Your dog can’t tell you if they had a great day or a terrible day (they can be exhausted from either), so you are relying on the staff to be honest and transparent about your dog's experience and whether or not it is a suitable activity for them.

Here's an overview of the Day Cares that got back to us- Thank You!!!  
(yes, unfortunately there are only 5 but we hope to have more in the near future).


So we don’t need to repeat it, the following applies to all of the mentioned daycares:
-no unvaccinated​ dogs are permitted​. ​

(dogs must have as a minimum a C3 vaccination which covers for parvo, distemper and hepatitis.
Kennel Cough is an extra vaccine which makes up the 2 extra parts to make a C5).




Located just 5kms from the CBD in Port Melbourne, The Pets Hotel is a family owned, luxury boarding facility that also offers Doggy Daycare. Dogs cruise around “Central Bark” and are separated into 3 areas according to their personalities and play style- the “crazy” ones, the little and/or old ones and the general group who can play with anyone.

 

Because of their large facility and experienced staff, The Pets Hotel can have any dog attend, even dog aggressive dogs (they draw the line at human aggressive dogs though!). With a 10:1 dog to staff member ration, you can rest assured that your dog is being closely monitored throughout the day. For nervous dogs there is the benefit of the boarding suites surrounding Central Bark, which can mean a nice, slow and safe introduction to bigger groups. If you are unsure how your dog will react, TPH offer first timers half price daycare (which includes a bath) to get them familiarised with the people and personalities they will encounter at Day Care.
They can even cater for pets that aren’t social with other pets- these guys get special visits and solo play time with a human friend throughout the day.


“Lots of love and care is given, we have a nurturing and positive approach in ensuring the pets feel safe and enjoy their time with us” says Ashleigh, the manager.

Pre- covid there would usually be about 25 dogs per day at Central Bark but the current circumstances mean less regulars, as many pet parents are now working from home. TPH are ensuring cleanliness of the venue with a special fog machine that allows extremely th​orough​ disinfecting, social distancing at check in/out and constant cleaning using the highest-grade chemicals. Staff members are wearing masks and owners dropping off and collecting pets are expected to wear masks too.

One of the best features at The Pets Hotel is their live stream webcam which you can log into at any time and see which corner of Central Bark your beloved is hanging out at! Day care pets can BYO lunch and have it during rest time, which is when the live streams channel is switched over to the cats
(yes they even have cats that go to day care!).


At The Pets Hotel they see every breed from the smallest Chihuahua to the largest Great Dane, but the most common breed is the Cavoodle. Ashleigh says the main benefits for dogs attending is the social aspect, the exercise and enrichment and the “releasing of endorphins and energy throughout the day so they’ll be extra ready for a night of deep sleep come home time”.

Staff members are trained “extremely well” so they are well equipped to deal with any anti-social behaviour that might happen. “The best way to stop a fight is for one not occur” says Ashleigh. This is a fantastic mantra and should be comforting for pet parents to know- prevention is better than cure!

                                    

It can only take a second for a dog to be seriously injured from a dog fight.  If a pet is becoming overly excited at TPH there are lots of rooms for them to have a cheeky “Time Out” to calm down before re-joining the group. All pets are thoroughly assessed at their first visit to ascertain which group may be the most suitable for them but Ashleigh adds wisely “Pets behaviour can change day to day and hour to hour so it is important to stay vigilant”.

When I asked Ashleigh what she loved about working at The Pets Hotel, she gave me a long list of reasons, but the one that stood out to me the most was “Seeing dogs pull their owners into our facility and them being so happy to see us every time- It makes you feel amazing”. Awww!

Ash wasn’t disclosing the Instagram stars that go to the Pets Hotel but said “we do have some known faces that attend”. You may have to start going to find out!

You can find more information on their website and even book your dog in for Day Care online here:
https://www.thepetshotel.com.au/doggy-day-care/doggy-day-care-book-online

Extra Activities & Services
: boarding, baths, adventure walk (outside) and Kong treats.


Open 7 days a week:
Monday to Friday: 7am - 11am & 3.30pm-6.30pm,
Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 11am & 2.30pm -4.30pm
Closed to the public on public holidays only.





Not only a doggy day care centre, The Canine Creche also have a grooming service available in their spacious and spotless facility. They boast the biggest play area in the Northern suburbs with an impressive 9 different play areas and an outside area.  A very convenient taxi pick up and drop off service can be utilised if you are unable to get there yourself, with the price based on the distance travelled.



Dogs are grouped by their temperaments, play styles, confidence and energy levels, so you can rest assured if your dog is a little quieter it won’t be in with the high energy crazy pooch pals! At the Canine Creche they like to find friends from a range of breeds “as this mirrors the environment they will find themselves in on walks and at dog parks”, Sina, one of the owners of The Canine Creche says. Unvaccinated or aggressive dogs and undesexed females over 6 months of age are not permitted
(entire males over 6 months of age may be permitted after assessment).


Nervous or anxious dogs are given the time and space to engage with dogs of a similar temperament until they gain the confidence to hang out in bigger groups, “we go at the dogs pace and do not push them to engage with other dogs until they are ready” states Sina. In the very rare instance of a doggy disagreement, “staff are experienced and competent to manage the situation” and plans are then put in place with the dogs parents to ensure everyone’s future safety.

The Canine Creche are active on social media, posting multiple Instagram stories throughout the day where they tag any pups with their own Insta accounts. Socialisation, exercise and a reduction in anxiety are just a few good reasons to attend, but also having “good behaviour reinforced and poor behaviour corrected” can be fantastic if your dog has any bad habits you would like improved!

Like many, they are currently experiencing a downturn in numbers due to Coronavirus but they have appropriate measures in place to keep everyone safe, including the disinfecting of leads and harnesses, social distancing and face masks.

Sina loves the great vibe amongst the team members at The Canine Creche, meeting new dogs and “always learning about dog behaviour, its not all about cuddling dogs every day”, although we are sure that’s one of the highlights! At The Canine Creche they believe they are a part of the family, “just like child care centres” where you rest easy knowing  your fur child is having fun in a safe, secure and most importantly, caring, environment.


                                            
Extra Activities & Services: grooming, pick up & drop off taxi service, treats and accessories.   

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
7:30am- 6:30pm





Conveniently open from 7:30am to 6:30pm, pet parents can drop off and pick up their dogs at any time between these hours. Unvaccinated and aggressive dogs are not permitted, and dogs over the age of 12 months should be desexed, but “entire males and entire female dogs are accepted under strict circumstances and guidelines” advises Shane.

Up to 70 dogs a day attend Andys Doggy Day Care and they take ALL of the dogs for a 20 minute walk to the nearby Fleming Park!  Eight staff members a day supervise the dogs who are separated into 3 groups according to size and temperament. They also offer washing, drying and grooming at ADDC- this needs to be booked in advance and any dog coming for grooming should be dropped off before 8am.

A few Instagram stars go to Andys Doggy Day Care and they put daily videos on social media so you can have a peek at your dogs social life throughout the day. The most common breeds seen are Labradors and oodles of oodles!
                                                             
Anti-social behaviour is dealt with by placing any over exuberant dogs in a “Time Out” space but any dogs displaying undesirable behaviour at their trial day cannot come to day care moving forward unless “there is significant improvement”.

Socialisation, stimulation, exercise and fun are the benefits of going to Andys Doggy Day care.  Any anxious or nervous dogs get introduced slowly to dogs one on one gradually before going into the busier pens. “This may take many visits before they gain the confidence to be in a pen with multiple dogs” says Shane.

Andys Doggy Day Care are partaking in all the now standard Covid 19 procedures like extra cleaning and the disinfecting of leads and harnesses.
They have a special introductory offer for any new dogs that would like to give it a try!
Find more information and book in for your dogs trial day here: https://www.andysdoggydaycare.com.au/contact

Extra Activities & Services: daily outside walk, grooming, training on Saturday mornings (must be pre-booked).

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
7:30am-6:30pm




The name says it all, Hairy Hounds is not just a day care, but with a plethora of extra services it is truly a playground for dogs! From the valet service that can pick up and collect your pup to the training practised throughout the day, heck they can even take your dog on a personal beach excursion or stay at your house for a sleepover with your dog! They literally do it all.

Play groups are separated into Little Pups, Pups, Big Kids who are over 6 months and Oldies, with nervous newbies being introduced slowly in a quiet area, meeting one polite doggo friend at a time, “dogs are never forced to meet other dogs” says owner Christie, who is an experienced dog trainer. All dogs over the age of 10 weeks that have had their first vaccination are accepted, with non desexed dogs from 6-8 months of age being assessed on a case by case basis (dogs over the age of 8 months must be desexed).



You will see plenty of Cavoodles and Staffy Crosses at HHPG and with daily videos put up on Instagram your pooch may be seen frolicking with Instagram stars like beagle.basil (4000 followers), Oxy_the_dog2018 (4800 followers), frankieminigroodle (1000 followers) and rupert_beagle (1600). Fan girl moment!!! Plenty of working dogs attend, and with the current most popular breed being bulldogs, you are sure to see some squishy face friends.

Most cases of anti-social behaviour are pre-empted by staff who are trained to read body language, so most disagreements are avoided. Christie notes importantly that “not all dogs enjoy day care. In this case owners are called and other alternative options to daycare are offered”. And there are plenty of alternatives for those pups that prefer not to play, like solo walks and training sessions with an expert.
                                                                      
It’s the little things that make Hairy Hounds special, like the using of natural calming sprays in all play areas and the constant reinforcement of good manners that is practised throughout the day by experienced staff, “we practice recalls and name recognition which helps paw parents on walks”. This is just one of the benefits of attending HHPG, along with confidence building, puppies learning bite inhibition and dogs learning to be independent from their families. They even donate part of their profits to Petes Mission in Thailand and are passionate supporters of the elephants of Northern Sumatra.
 


Of course, Hairy Hounds Playground have been significantly impacted by Covid 19 and have strict measures in place to ensure everyone’s safety. The valet service is completely no-contact and a safety gate at the front of the centre means clients can safely drop their dogs off contact free. Christie believes an unfortunate affect from the lockdown measures will be under socialised dogs who “do not know how to cope with the outside world and owners who are struggling with separation anxiety”. If this rings true for you, HHPG can help!

When asked what she loves the most about working at Hairy Hounds, Christie said “we get to watch dogs go from being nervous and scared, to brave, happy and confident pups who have fun!”. Fun aside, from the behaviour and training aspect “we get to help our paw-parents overcome behavioural issues that help ensure the dog has a wonderful life”. What more could you ask for- a valet service from Albert Park?! No problems!

Extra Activities & Services: grooming, solo and group walks, sleepovers, training, valet, beach excursions and overnight retreats. Solo walks and dog training must be pre-booked, with most of the other services being able to be added last minute if they are not fully booked on the day.

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
7am-7pm



Although not an indoor facility, Paws At Play offer a mobile dog walking service that shares all the same benefits as doggy day care, like supervised socialisation, well stimulated pups who are less destructive at home and an excellent way to exercise your dog.

Servicing the city of Casey and the city of Kingston area, around 40 dogs a day are split over 6 sessions with one staff member per 10-12 dogs supervising. Once puppies are fully vaccinated they are welcome to attend, where they will find many active doggo friends, particularly Shepherds, Oodles, Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Pointers. Its quite a young and energetic crowd, so may not be suitable for gentle old souls who are not up for such tomfoolery.

All new dogs go through a meet & greet and get to call shotgun on riding up front while they get to know their new human and doggo friends. Newbies get the VIP treatment and are supervised very closely to make sure they are comfortable and happy. “We always have a great outcome and love watching anxious dogs blossom into a happy confident dog!” says one of the owners, Zoe.

If you are the pet parent of a mini dachshund, they get their own special day on Fridays where up to 15 mini d’s go out to play! (aka Fri-YAYs!). As all dogs are assessed before entering a group situation, there are rarely any instances of anti-social behaviour. In the rare event of such behaviour, dogs are quickly put on a lead and distracted with some one on one training.

Paws At Play are temporarily closed due to stage 4 restrictions, but be sure to check our their Facebook to stay posted on when they are back up and running. They are “absolutely missing our fur clients & can’t wait to get back into it”.
                                
“We definitely have the best job in the world, we absolutely love working with your dogs, learning all their personalities & quirks- never a dull day at Paws At Play!”


If you are a Doggy Day Care in Melbourne and would like to be added to this blog please get in contact with us!

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