Personally, I don't like the idea of leaving my dog behind, but sometimes it is impossible not to.
Whether you are planning a vacation, a family event, or have a last-minute plan, doggy daycare plans are always something to consider.
Thankfully, if you are not a fan of dog daycare, you can opt to place your pet into other options.
Regardless of what you do at the end of the day, always do your research, look for reviews, and ask questions before deciding.
What is doggy daycare?
Before we discuss the alternatives, let's dive into what a doggy daycare is and the pros and cons.
Growing up, I had two dogs. One mixed breed and one Chiweenie.
They were the sweetest things, and we took them with us on vacation.
I had never heard of a doggy daycare until after I became an adult and adopted my current dog, Bianca, a 2-3-year-old Pitbull-mix rescue.
Simply put, dog daycare is a location or building where you can drop off your dog and pick them up the same day.
Some dog daycare facilities offer overnight boarding and doggy daycare playtime.
No two dog daycares, though, are alike. Everyone runs their business differently.
Usually, there is either an outdoor or indoor space with lots of toys and green space.
The employees clean up after the dogs as they play, take them on walks, and carefully monitor their behaviors.
But are dog daycares worth it? What are the benefits and drawbacks of choosing a dog daycare over an alternative?
The Benefits of Dog Daycare
If you choose to drop your dog off at a dog daycare, there are benefits to receive.
Listed below are the most common benefits.
- young and old socialization
- careful employees
- typically live footage
- short-term and long-term options
The most significant benefit is that your dog is safe while taking care of business.
Working full-time is tough but necessary to afford your dog's favorite foods, toys, and treats.
However, leaving them at home can feel heartbreaking, especially with large dog breeds that need a lot of exercises.
It is also great for making friends and introducing your dog to other dogs. This encourages positive behaviors and relationships between your dog and other people and pets.
The Disadvantages of Dog Daycare
Sadly, there are some disadvantages. Not all dog daycare businesses are safe or affordable.
The most common disadvantages to booking with a dog daycare are:
- Costly- the expenses add up!
- not all employees are qualified
- some facilities have too many dogs
- a lack of training
- low-quality dog food
There is always a risk when you hand your dog to another person, but this risk is not always worth taking.
Disappointingly, some dog daycares do not run well and have many problems. Some dog daycares have no limit on dogs, easily exceeding the animal limit in a room.
When there are too many dogs, noises, and smells, this can stress out others in the room.
Dogs react to stress poorly. In other words, you may leave your dog in a room where others are ready to snap out of frustration.
7 Best Dog Daycare Alternatives
If dog daycare businesses are not working for you, I recommend trying any of the five dog daycare alternatives below.
Some of these are cheaper, easier to use, and perfect for small and large dog breeds.
I have used many of these options for long-term and short-term pet care.
Professional Pet sitter
Have you ever thought of hiring one professional pet sitter for your dog? You can find private pet sitters that will work with your dog only.
This is an excellent option for older dogs who do not do well in large groups.
Older dogs tend to react negatively to young puppies still vibrant and full of playful energy.
Professional pet sitters are also highly qualified. Many have years of experience, a resume, and qualifications to match.
Before choosing the best professional pet sitter for your loving dog, look through their website and schedule a meet and greet.
Not all dogs react the same way. It is good to see how the potential pet sitter and your pet respond to each other before moving forward.
Are you leaving for a more extended period? One week? or two weeks? Maybe, three months?
Regardless of how long you will be leaving, it is essential to find adequate pet care.
When going away for a few weeks, I consider house sitters.
You don't have to own a large home to hire a house sitter. Plenty of sitters travel to apartments and condos to take care of the home and the pets.
This is an excellent option if you want someone to walk your dog, keep them company, and take care of your home.
Think about it, do you have plants? Your house sitter could walk your dog, feed them, and water your plants.
There is no better feeling than knowing you have a kind, wonderful, and trustworthy friend.
If you have doubts about using an alternative to dog daycare on this list, why not ask a friend for help?
Remember, though; they are doing this because they care about you. Respect your friend's time.
It is good to plan and establish if you will pay for your friend's service.
The benefit of having friends care for your lovely pup is they usually are already acquainted, so it won't take long for them to form a bond.
We touched on dog boarding previously, but in this case, it is a dog boarding company solely focused on long-term stays.
A lot goes into dog boarding, which is why excellent and qualified companies create packing cheat sheets for you!
When boarding your dog, you must be open, honest, and transparent with the company or private dog border.
You can choose to dog board in a large company or choose a dog boarding pet sitter through a reputable online website.
My favorite alternative to dog daycares is dog boarding with private pet sitters. Typically I use Rover or Wag to look for pet sitters with great reviews, fees, and plenty of space.
Using these convenient apps, you can find something for all dogs.
Even licensed and trained pet sitters know how to safely and successfully administer medications.
Pay for a Luxurious Pet Hotel/Resort
Want your job to experience only the finer things in life?
Pet hotels and resorts also offer short-term and long-term boarding options, including on-site daycare programs.
These daycare programs are nothing like the typical dog daycare you are used to.
During the daycare session, your dog is pampered and played with directly.
Resorts are also a great piece of mind. Usually, since they cost so much money, they record live for your viewing.
In other words, your dog can experience pampering and, more importantly, safety by using a pet hotel or resort.
Use a Dog Walker for a Few Hours a Week
Finding alternatives to dog kennels can be hard, but it is worth it when your dog does not feel comfortable with the situation.
Full-time working dog parents understand the struggle of not having enough hours in the day to walk, love, and spoil their loving pets.
Anyone can use a dog walker; you can even be home during the process!
Instead of leaving them in the long-term care of a company you don’t feel comfortable with, a respectful and professional dog sitter can walk your dog for you.
This is also a great option if you don’t work from home and want someone to check-in on your dog for an hour a day.
Dog walkers are relatively cheap also, typically costing less than sending your fur baby to a weekly dog daycare.
Take them to Work!
This may not be possible in all situations, but it does not hurt to ask.
For those of us who work regular 9-5 jobs in an office or separate building, you can ask your manager to take your dog with you to work.
This could boost morale and completion rates at work since it is a motivator.
We understand that this is not always possible, and you should always gain permission before bringing your dog to your workplace.
Finding a dog-friendly hotel or Airbnb can even use this option on vacation as a great alternative to dog kennels.
How to Choose the Best Alternatives for Dog Daycares
Overwhelming feelings always strike when I am looking for dog daycare or, better yet, an alternative.
There are a lot of factors to consider, including the quality of care, qualifications, experience, space, and cost.
I recommend interviewing potential sitters or boarders in person and over the phone.
In-person is a great way to see the place and the personality in action when meeting your pet.
It is hard to fake loving a dog!
Cost is important. We understand everyone is on a budget, but underpaying for a dog care place can be dangerous.
Find a budget and stick with it. Most dog boarders pay between $15 to $40 an hour, or a flat rate fee per night.
FAQs On Dog Daycare Alternatives
How many times a week should my dog go to daycare?
Experts recommend only taking your dog no more than three days a week. While it is beneficial for them, too much socialization is exhausting.
Is doggy daycare stressful?
Dog daycare and other alternatives is not a good option for all dogs. It can be seen as stressful, especially with the loud noises and busy atmosphere.
There are multiple dogs in these facilities and playrooms. It can be overstimulating, causing your dog to shut down or react aggressively.
Is doggy daycare a good way to socialize your dog?
There are many ways to socialize your dog and taking them to dog daycare is one of them. It is a great start, but remember during daycare, you don’t have the final say.
While most facilities are live recorded for the enjoyment and relief of dog parents, you, the owner cannot correct bad behavior as it happens.
Only take your dog to doggy daycare when they are ready and trained to follow some commands.
How long does it take for a dog to get used to daycare?
Every dog is different, but it takes anywhere from 3 days to 4 months for them to get used to daycare.
In the beginning, expect days with lots of whining, cries, and sad puppy eyes. However, even with these reactions, know they are okay and in good hands.
Is dog daycare good for dogs with separation anxiety?
You may want to skip dog daycare if your dog is suffering with separation anxiety and you have not begun treatment.
This type of nervous anxiety is triggered when a dog is left alone or separated from their comfort.
Dogs form attachments and bonds to their loved ones, but when this bond is overly strong, they can develop a strong fear of being alone.
Dog daycare does not fix separation anxiety, instead, coupled with lifestyle changes and management skills, it can be beneficial.
Dog Daycare Alternatives: Conclusion
Leaving your fur baby behind is a big step, but sometimes it is the only option. Thankfully, you can choose between dog daycares and other local alternatives.
The alternatives are usually cheaper and have better benefits to consider.
When boarding your pet, don't forget to bring the essentials. While most boarding sites provide food, water, beds, and toys, they are not always the best quality.