I have had Opal since she was 8 weeks old. I visited her since the day after she was born. She is my baby, my puppy and my best mate. Some people laugh when I say Opal goes to day care, some dog owners ask lots of questions about it and others get excited and tell me all about their dog’s day-care. It may sound like a silly concept, but I view it the same as putting your child into day-care. It is a place where your darlings can go during the day to socialise with other babies/dogs, have naps, get exercise and learn to take instructions from other carers.
I initially looked into day-care as the section Opal had at home wasn’t as big as I would like for her – she is a very energetic dog and being cooped up isn’t fair and can lead to bad behaviours (such as digging and excessive barking) driven from boredom. I talked to other dog owners I met at Day’s park – our local off-lead exercise area – about the places they sent their dogs, and I went to visit day-care’s available in Hamilton. The key things I was looking for in a day-care included:
- A large GRASS area that dogs are free to run around and play in
- Dogs who clearly liked and respected the carers
- A variety of dogs, sexes, breeds, and ages to socialise with.
- Carers that I got on with and treated dogs how I like mine treated
Doggy day-care is quite popular now and there have been a few new companies opening over the last 6-12 months in Hamilton especially. I had sent Opal to a day care for a few weeks three years ago however as I was studying it wasn’t financially viable at the time for me to continue sending her there. It just so happened when I was researching day-cares this time I contacted one that was recommended by my workmate – that runs from a property in Ngaruawahia (2minutes from my workplace) and they remembered Opal from her last day-care stint! They had changed venues and now had developed into two separate components – one for small dogs and the other for medium – large dogs.
I looked at three main day-cares in Hamilton. One was indoors and had concrete floors which turned me off it as this isn’t a natural grounding for dogs to run on all day. It had lots of wooden built structures which I also don’t think is a natural environment for dogs (although I imagine it could be quite fun!). While talking with other dog owners at obedience classes, I came across one who was sending their dog to this particular place. He was a very active Border Collie who runs all day and sadly because of the concrete floors after his second day when he was picked up he could barely walk as his paw pads had been ripped up from the concrete. So that confirmed my choice against the indoor day-care as again Opal is a very active dog who enjoys racing around playing with other dogs for majority of the day.
The second day-care was inconvenient to drop Opal off to as it was on the other side of Hamilton. K9 Country Club – the one I was recommended by my workmate – their drop off point was next to Days park which was just around the corner from my house at the time. I organised a site visit to this day-care, met the carers, the owner and the other dogs who would be attending on one of the days I was looking at sending Opal. What I liked about this day-care was they have a minimum attendance requirement of two days a week to ensure the dogs get to know the routines and settle in with the other dogs on their days. It makes sense – it would be scary meeting 30 new dogs every week and just getting used to them after one day then having to meet a whole new 30 next week. It’s not how we make friends in the real world and it’s hard for dogs to work out their hierarchy every day with new dogs.
K9CC has a four week trial period to ensure that your dog fits in with the other dogs and the routines. Opal successfully passed this trial period and has been attending for seven months now. The owner, managers and workers are fantastic and Opal adores them. She gets very excited every time we get near the drop off point and wants to get straight in the van. I think this is an extremely good sign – if she loves it, I love it. They were also very flexible with Opal when I moved house and had to rearrange my finances. I decided during this period that Opals daycare was a priority for me as she loved it and it does wonders for her social skills and general well-being.
Another thing I love about K9CC is that they regularly put up photos and videos of the dogs playing at daycare (or in Opals case napping!) on their Facebook page so I can see what fun Opal is having on her days there. She was even lucky enough to share a doggy birthday cake when it was Navy’s birthday! Check it out and if you’re thinking about putting your dog into daycare I highly recommend K9CC, it’s definitely value for money and peace of mind in my opinion – Opal is a much happier dog for going there.
*Photos care of K9CC