The Dangers of Daycare: Finding a Safe Place for Your Pup


In the last couple of months, I’ve seen a series of horrific stories emanating from daycare facilities in different parts of the country – stories about grave to fatal injuries sustained during off-leash play. We even have quite a few dogs here at Hydrant Club whose experiences in other spots around town ranged from deep puncture wounds that weren’t reported (and ended up getting infected requiring surgery and drains) and in one case a dog that nearly lost an eye.

To set the context here with a big fat disclaimer: When dogs play, sometimes there are injuries. I’m talking about minor stuff – nicks, scratches, occasionally a minor puncture. After all, dogs *do* have teeth and when they play they use their mouths and sometimes, just like kids on a playground, there are minor injuries. If managed properly, however, injuries can and should be mitigated.

This leads to the headline and topic of this post – the dangers of (most) daycare environments. Managing off-leash play is a very very specific expertise. It is very difficult to do well, especially if you’re talking about facilities where they operate at a larger scale (translation – a large number of dogs). Add into the mix whether that facility also has breed restrictions or whether they separate dogs by size, age, energy level and you have a very complicated situation. In almost all facilities you’ll find that dog groups are broken out where sizes are matched along with general energy levels. You may see some places where they group some breeds/mixes together with the belief that these dogs all play the same.

When you’re looking for a daycare environment for your pup, there are some crucial elements to consider that will help you ensure you’re picking the best and safest solution. Factors from the facility itself (cleaning protocols and materials used, construction and physical layout, emergency evacuation protocols) to staffing (what kind and how much training) to the ratio of handlers to dogs and many others all should be considered before selecting the place to care for your beloved family member.

For folks interested in getting the 4-1-1 on how to evaluate a dog facility – questions to ask, the checklist to carry and all that – come to join us in Canine Conversations. A private community powered by Hydrant Club where we dive more deeply into this topic (and many others). You get access to key information and also can connect with other like-minded pup parents.