Puppy daycare? What’s that? Like a puppy kindergarten? Does such a place exist? This sounds amazing, a room full of adorable puppies. It sounds like free therapy!

Have you thought about taking your puppy to a puppy daycare? Maybe you’re wondering what to do with your puppy when you go back to work? The world has worked from home for the last couple of years. It was finally a great time to get a dog! But now the world is opening up again, it might be time to get back to the office, so puppy daycare might be a solution.

If you’re wondering whether puppy daycare is the right option for you and your little pup, read on as we’re going to be giving you the lowdown on:

  • What is puppy daycare and what do puppy daycares do?
  • Why should I put my puppy in puppy daycare?
  • What should I look for in a puppy daycare?
  • Where to find a (good) puppy daycare?

Puppy daycares can be great, but they can also teach your puppy bad habits or make them a little overwhelmed, so be sure to read through this puppy daycare guide to be well informed. There’s no harm in choosing a puppy sitter over a puppy daycare, by the way, sometimes that one to one time is what some puppies need.

If you’re in a bit of a quandary as to what to choose, you can always get help from our team of Zigzag puppy coaches. They’ve seen all kinds of puppy daycares, the good, the bad and the ugly!

If you’re choosing a puppy daycare because your puppy is struggling with separation anxiety or separation-related problems, we have a dedicated programme in our Zigzag puppy training app, which will help you work through that home alone training.

puppy with red collar and blue bowl
Photo by Berkay Gumustekin on Unsplash

What is puppy daycare & what do they do?

Puppy daycare is generally a dedicated doggy daycare for puppies or one portion for the puppies. It might be called ‘the puppy room’ where they have all of the puppies. Oh gosh, the puppy room! Squeee!

Generally, because puppies are hard work (don’t you know it), they have a higher staff to dog ratio, and there should be more nap times scheduled than with the older dogs.

Check out our article on How Often Do Puppies Sleep? To explain precisely just how much sleep your puppy needs, we bet it’s more than you thought. Sleep is vital for their learning and development, so you don’t want any setbacks at daycare. Puppy daycares range from small in-home to large commercial daycares in industrial units or fields. Be sure to pick the one that’s right for your puppy.

Why should I put my puppy in puppy daycare?

There can be a few reasons you might consider a puppy daycare. When looking for someone loving who can look after our puppy and our puppy’s needs, we must also consider our own needs. Have a read through and see if you think daycare is the right option for you and your puppy.

Use a puppy daycare if you’re out at work all day.

It’s not fair to leave a puppy home alone for long periods, especially when they’re so tiny. A puppy daycare or a puppy sitter can be there to look after your puppy when you can’t.

Use a puppy daycare if your puppy can’t be left alone.

Some puppies are A-OK with a dog walker and can be left for short periods. But, if your puppy struggles with being alone and has some separation-related problems, a puppy daycare can be a good idea.

Use a puppy daycare if your puppy hasn’t met many dogs yet

Puppy daycares can, with caution, be used to expose your puppy to other dogs and puppies. However, we do advise caution. The puppy daycare shouldn’t be just a free-for-all like a visit to the dog park. Playgroups should be managed, and puppies carefully matched up with suitable playmates.

Use a puppy daycare if your puppy is bored at home

Puppy daycares will provide mental and physical stimulation for your puppy. Good if you have a bit of a self-employed hound who needs more fun times during the day when you’re not there.

Use a puppy daycare if your puppy has the right temperament.

Ask yourself if your puppy would enjoy being around lots of other dogs all of the time? While many puppies start out being extremely social, they become more selective about dogs they want to be around as they reach maturity. Just like us and how we pick our friends, really!

This doesn’t mean your puppy is a bad dog. It just means that daycare may not be the right place for them. We need to consider our puppy’s needs first and foremost, and being around humans is generally preferable for many dogs.

Of course, if your dog is indeed a social butterfly who LOVES being around other dogs and is well behaved around them, (i.e., not a bully!) then daycare can be an excellent place for them.

lots of puppies hanging out together
Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

What to look for in a puppy daycare?

Gosh, it’s a bit like choosing a school, isn’t it? We put our most treasured family member in the trust of someone else. We need to make sure it’s safe, both physically and emotionally, for our impressionable young pups.

Important things to look out for when choosing a puppy daycare. Here are a few good questions to ask.

What is the staff to puppy ratio?

This is important. Puppy wrangling can be complex, and there must be enough staff to keep things safe. It’s also important to find out the maximum number of pups they have at any one time and how they divide groups up. If it sounds too many to you, then it probably is!

Are puppies matched up according to size and personality?

From a safety point of view, giant puppies playing with small ones can be a hazard. Puppies don’t really know the rules, and while they might not mean to hurt a smaller puppy, it can happen sometimes.

Do you offer an evaluation or trial day?

Your puppy should do a trial, and the daycare can then give feedback on how it went. It also means you get to see if you’re happy too.

Do the puppies ever fight? What do you do if they have a fight?

I have heard some horror stories of fights between dogs at daycare facilities and methods to break up fights. It’s best to find out these things, no matter how troubling they might seem.

Dogs are living creatures, and sometimes there will inevitably be conflict between certain ones. It is essential to know the daycare’s policy on how they deal with fights and how they de-escalate problems between the dogs.

What happens if my puppy gets hurt at puppy daycare?

Check their insurance. Does the puppy daycare want you to sign a waiver? What if your puppy hurts another puppy or a worker? Before you send your little one off to puppy daycare, these are all essential things to know! The daycare must have appropriate insurance and, in some cases, a licence too.

Can I watch my puppy on a webcam?

It’s a bit Truman Show, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a peek at your puppy and what they get up to at puppy daycare? We think so!

Will my puppy get nap times at puppy daycare?

Sleep is so, so crucial for puppies. It’s a condition of many daycares that dogs get structured naptime in their own spaces. Many puppies aren’t very good at switching off and get too hyped up and aroused, and then they’re overtired and irritable when they come home to you.

Overtiredness can make your puppy very bitey, be sure to check out our guide on how to get my puppy to stop biting me for tips.

What kind of dog behaviour knowledge or canine first aid training does the staff have at puppy daycare?

It’s essential that daycare staff know what to do in an emergency and stop squabbles and fights by spotting them before they break out.

Not all puppies will immediately slot in happily to daycare, so spotting stress  and puppies which might be shut down or overwhelmed is also important.

Does the daycare know what to do if your puppy gets stung by a wasp or bee, and do they have a vet on speed dial? Have they completed appropriate puppy first aid training?

Do you use positive reinforcement-based training methods?

Here at Zigzag, we believe dogs are sentient beings and should be trained with positive reinforcement. Make sure your potential puppy daycare does too.

Will my puppy ever be left alone?

Puppies left alone with other puppies can be an accident waiting to happen. Puppies who aren’t used to being on their own can become quite stressed. Find out what the daycare’s policy is on this before you commit.

small black and brown puppy being carried by owner
Photo by Elijah M. Henderson on Unsplash

Where to find a puppy daycare

Puppy daycares are popping up everywhere these days, and as we said at the beginning, you do get good and bad. With your puppy’s early life experiences having a significant effect on them as they grow up, you must find somewhere that you’re comfortable with and that will be good for your puppy’s development.

Personally, I favour a small set-up for puppy daycare. Someone doing this from home is ideal, or a dedicated area in a larger daycare or a specific puppy daycare.

You can ask other dog owners locally who they recommend. Also, ask your veterinarian if they have a puppy daycare they recommend.

In many countries, puppy daycares are now licensed. Ask your local council for a list of licensed daycares, as this will give you an idea of who is available locally.

We hope that’s given you some food for thought about how you choose a puppy daycare for your puppy. Did you check out our article on choosing a puppy sitter ? Maybe that might be a better option for you.

Of course, if you’re still not sure, why not contact one of the Zigzag puppy coaches? They’ll be able to help you figure out if a puppy daycare is right for you and your puppy. They can help with all sorts of puppy related questions and help guide you through the structured training journey in the Zigzag puppy training app. We have training games, socialisation and habituation exercises, plus a complete Life Skills and step by step home alone programme. All in an app on your phone. It’s so clever. We can’t wait to get started with you.