Doggie Daycare. Just say the words and my head conjures up images of Eddie Murphy running after some kid in a superhero cape, wreaking havoc in Eddie’s house like Hurricane Hanna. But unlike most of Eddie’s movies, there’s a lesson to be learned here, and that is, that Doggie Daycare is the answer to “Dear Jenna…I work all day and my dog is alone from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. I can’t leave him loose in the house because he’s so destructive. Do you think it’s okay to keep him in a kennel all those hours? The answer is NO, it’s not okay, so if you don’t use a Doggie Daycare, at least find a responsible dog walker.

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If your dog ever had any formal training, you might recall that he or she was really tired after an hour, even though the exercises were mentally and not physically challenging. Dogs need stimulation. They do get bored, and they do get lonely. Doggie daycare offers all the things to your dog that kindergarten would offer to a toddler. Safety and well-being plus fun and learning are the perfect combination.

Ask for a tour of the facility. Find out if they hired some teenagers for playtime and walking or if the staff is experienced in handling dogs. How long are they in business and are they licensed? How safe is the facility? Is it clean? Are medical records required and must the dogs be up to date on vaccines? You don’t want your dog coming home with kennel cough. Are the dogs separated into groups depending on temperament and size? Is there a menu of ala carte activities? Can they handle emergency situations? Are there indoor as well as outdoor provisions? Can you bring your dog for an hour and observe?

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Think about going swimming at your favorite vacation hotel. How fun is that? Well, your dog will think so too, especially if your cherished canine is a lab or golden. Pet Hotels are sprouting up like 7/11s, so visit a few before you decide what to do. The questions are basically the same and I know you know what to look for. I was amazed at some of the facilities I’ve seen lately.

The hotel I was most impressed with included things that even I would not have imagined possible. I will share some of the wonderful features she has incorporated in her magnificent pet hotel, but by all means, not all of these things are necessary for everyone’s dogs to be comfortable, happy, safe and well cared for. Imagine this – each private room has a child’s bed and mattress for your dog to sleep on, a T.V., and computerized nanny-cam so you can go onto the Internet from any computer or cell phone while on vacation and watch your dog live! I love that. The outdoor play area is covered with Astro-turf type ground cover with a built-in filtration system so the dogs never get dirty. Of course, if they do, there is a grooming salon on premises. There is also an indoor pool that was more than inviting, a massage and therapy room, indoor playrooms, training rooms, and rooms I can’t even remember. How about agility?

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The bottom line is, no matter what the “extras” are, your dog is better off in a safe and happy environment, whether it’s for a few hours or a few days, and it’s your job to check it out before you check him in!