Many parents spend a lot of time looking for the perfect daycare for their child. They research a daycare, ask friends about it and may even visit the location.
The same time and research should be expended when looking for a pet care facility, according to Howard Perlmuter, president and CEO of the Barkley Hotel and Day Spa in Orange.
He said families should go through a process, or personal checklist, when choosing the daycare for their pet.
“Similar to choosing child care for your children, the first thing you have to be comfortable with in terms of the facility is the staff as a whole,” Perlmuter said. “You have to have that trust, and trust comes with and is a combination of things like reputation, safety, location, quality of service and the general feeling you have about the place.”
When choosing a pet daycare, families should ask themselves a few questions before beginning a search. Perlmuter said families should consider what breed a dog or cat is, what kind of care is sought and what the goals are.
“In choosing the right daycare, you have to look at what your goals are as a pet parent – not only what you are looking for but also what your dog is looking for,” he said. “There are a lot of different breeds and different dogs which all need different things.”
He said the Barkley feels more like a day camp, not a daycare.
“When people put their kids into a daycare, it’s because they have no choice and have no one else to care for them,” Perlmuter said. “People put their kids into a camp because they want to. The benefits outweigh the costs. It’s the same for their pets. … You need to determine what satisfies you and your pet.”
Perlmuter suggests families understand staff training and the types of training the staff has. He said although families humanize their pets, animals are animals and some behaviors are instinctive
“There is a certain amount of unpredictable behavior that is innate when they are away from their parents and in new surroundings,” Perlmuter said. “It’s really important to have a staff that can recognize behaviors like stress before it’s too late. A dog acts very differently around their owner. A dog might be protective when their owner is around but that’s just because they are there.”
To help ease dogs when they are coming to The Barkley for the first time, Perlmutter said staff offers evaluation days to help pets be less nervous in the new surroundings.
“The more time a dog spends somewhere, the warmer they will get. It’s a comfort process,” he said. “On the evaluation day, we require that the dog is with the owner and we introduce them to the other dogs one at a time. Dogs are pack animals, you should never throw them into an environment that has an established pack.”