There are many factors that come into play when it comes to choosing whether or not daycare is for you and your furry family member. 
     1) Location: Is it convenient to drop off and pick up?
                          Is it close to your house or work?
                          Does location matter if you know your dog is well taken care of?
     2) Cost: Is this something you can fit into your budget?
                   Will it even out because you are not having to buy new shoes or 
     3) Safety:  Can you trust someone else to take care of your “baby”?
                       Do the employees running the daycare have the proper training to 
                           handle such a large amount of dogs?
                       Is the facility clean and using the proper human and animal safe
                           cleaning supplies?
     4) Temperament: Will your dog enjoy daycare?
                                   Is your dog fearful or EXTREMELY outgoing?
So how and where do you start?
      I would start with word of mouth. Ask your friends and colleagues if they have ever used a doggie daycare and if they have heard good things about local facilities. Second, I would do a Google search, just to see if there are more than the ones you heard about.  Third, I would visit multiple facilities to meet the staff, see where your dog would be hanging out, and ask about the daily routine.
     Most doggie daycares are free the first time you visit. It is a chance to see if your dog is somewhat comfortable being handled by people they don’t know and if they like playing with other dogs in a large group. They will typically give you some sort of report card that tells you how your dog did, who they made friends with, and whether or not they are a good fit for their daycare scene. Beyond that, to my knowledge, most daycares have the group of dogs out to play for many hours. They eventually get a lunchtime nap, and then come back out to hang out in the group until mom and dad comes to pick them up. It’s a lot like pre-school without the school part.

What if my dog fails the “Daycare Test” or doesn’t like other dogs?
     This is a hard question for many dog owners. Typical doggie daycares only take dogs that do okay in large groups for extended periods of time. This is due to a few factors. I’m sure there are many more, but I will just list my top three.
1) You make more money with more dogs in one place.
2) The level of dog behavior training put in place for the staff, or the lack thereof.
3) The level of dog handling skills in the typical person applying to work in a daycare.
So, what does an owner do if your dog is one that doesn’t make the cut? 
     By the way, I am one of those owners! You find the rare facility that has people that specialize in training and dog behavior. This can be difficult to find, but I’ll tell you a bit about my facility to help those that don’t live around here to find their perfect fit.
     Springfield Side Kick Dog Training opened a multi-functioning facility in November of 2014! This new facility includes…

Daycare and Boarding!

The Side Kick Difference

Where did Side Kick come from? Springfield Side Kick Dog Training was a vision that Carrie and Misti had in their little minds since childhood. When they met in 2009 they integrated training knowledge and ran Misti’s baby, Springfield Side Kick Dog Training, out of local veterinarian offices, the SW MO Humane Society, their homes, and student’s homes through classes and private lessons. After almost 6 years of that came Misti and Carrie’s vision! Springfield Side Kick Dog Training Daycare and Boarding Academy!!! Yes, it is a mouthful, but we had to tell you how we were growing!

Below are some common questions about doggie daycare and what has been found to be the best way for your pup to socialize…

Why daycare for my dog? Daycare can be a great place for puppies and dogs to get exercise and socialize!

What is the appropriate way for my dog to socialize at Daycare? Every dog is different. That’s why is important to find a place that will tailor exercise and socialization to your dog and his needs.

How big are the play groups supposed to be? Studies show that the best kind of dog play is one-on-one play or small group play, for the appropriate amount of time for each individual dog.

What does my dog do while he is at daycare? SKDT lets the dogs choose how they would like to play. On a typical day at SKDT Daycare the dogs will enter the building and be handed to a Trainer or Kennel Technician specially trained by Carrie and Misti. They go to the appropriate size kennel or wire crate which depends on size, temperament, sociability, and training plan. We have rooms with only a few dogs for the dogs that get too over stimulated resting in the playroom watching the other dogs walk by. We typically give them 10 to 15 minutes to relax and check out their surroundings. When they can calm a bit we start playtime!

     It’s all about self-control and fun! We don’t let the dogs run crazy from their kennel to the play areas because this can sometimes cause them to not look at their surroundings and in turn not read what another dog has to say. We slowly introduce each dog to one dog at a time to see who they want to make friends with, if they want to make friends at all. Some dogs do good playing and hanging out one-on-one and some dogs like to play in small groups of friends. When each dog starts to act tired or starts give distance increasing signals, he gets to go potty, if needed, and then go to his kennel to rest. The amount of play time and rest time is different for each dog. Some dogs never get tired! Those are typically our frequent flyers.
     If a dog does not want to play with other dogs due to fear or can not find an appropriate play partner due to lack of self control, then it’s Trainer Time! They get to play tug, fetch, catch me if you can, wrestling match, cuddle time, hanging in the offices, or the recall game with one of the trainers. Some dogs simply do not have any interest in other dogs or playing with toys, so that’s where the trainers get to take them on a walk. This rotation will go on with all of the dogs over and over again as many times as they need it. Again….it is all about what the dog finds rewarding. If it’s not rewarding then it is no fun for them to come back.

How do I know if my dog likes daycare? We always like to try it a few times so they can get familiar with their surroundings and learn the routine. (Your first visit is not free with us because you take you dog home with a plan for exercise, socialization, and sometimes training… no matter how the day went). The neat thing about SKDT is that Misti and Carrie can help you with dogs that are fearful, aggressive, or have anxiety, with a customized training plan. It is a very rare case that we can not find a way to make a dog comfortable with us, but if there is no possible way…we will tell you if your dog does not want to be here. That’s the cool thing about having two Professional Dog Trainers Certified by the Council of Professional Dog Trainers, with combined 40 years experience, running the ship!
     The common misconception when trying to determine whether or not your dog likes going somewhere is…”He gets more excited than he does for anything else. It’s the only time he ever jumps on me”! Jumping can be a few things such as excitement, anxiety, the need to be listened to, or just plain rude behavior. Make sure you know which reason your dog is”soooo excited”. Your furry family member will love you for listening to what they are trying to tell you!
The bottom line is… You should check out your local doggie daycares and see if one is right for you and your family. Come visit me too! Some dogs can handle big group play, some can’t…Wouldn’t you like your dog to have the choice? I would.

-Carrie Galvan CPDT