Best Doggy Day Care Near Me? 5 Tips For Selecting Your Dog’s New Happy Place

locating the perfect doggy day care

When people in Chelmsford, Wickford, Rayleigh, Danbury and surrounding areas want their dogs and puppies to have a fun and sociable time while they’re at work or away from home, they often choose doggy day care. But with so many options, it can be hard to pick the right one.

In this blog, we’ll give you five tips on how to choose the best doggy daycare near you, whether you are in Chelmsford, Wickford, Rayleigh, Danbury or other nearby areas in Essex.

As well as being convenient for you, the “best” doggy day care means the one which is most appropriate for your dog. You know your dog best, so your role in finding your dog’s “home” away from home is crucial.

Follow these tips to make sure your pet gets the best care possible.

Think About What Your Dog Really Needs

doggy day care - puppy
Best Doggy Day Care Near Me? 5 Tips For Selecting Your Dog's New Happy Place 1

Before you embark on your search for the perfect doggy day care centre, take some time to reflect deeply on what your dog would truly benefit from. It’s crucial to carefully consider factors such as your dog’s size, temperament, social needs, and energy levels throughout the day.

By doing so, you will be equipped to make an informed decision and select the ideal doggy day care centre that will meet and exceed your dog’s needs, ensuring their happiness and well-being, and giving you peace of mind.


A. Think about your dog’s size and temperament

Some daycares keep big and small dogs separate, while others let them all play together. If your dog is small or shy, they might prefer a daycare that separates dogs based on size.

However, size doesn’t always matter! For example, a big dog’s temperament might suit it better to mix with smaller dogs with similar energy levels. 

What matters most is that you choose a doggy daycare that has expert staff who engage with these kinds of considerations and have a thoughtful approach to grouping dogs. 

B. Consider how social your dog is

Dogs are generally social animals and need to interact with others. Think about how your dog gets along with other dogs and how much socialising they need. If your dog loves playing with other dogs, choose a daycare where they can have fun, love dogs, and make friends.

C. Look at your dog’s activity level

Dogs have different energy levels, so it’s essential to pick a daycare that matches your dog’s needs. Some places offer structured activities like group walks or agility courses for puppies while others focus on free playtime. 

Signs of a thoughtful day care are that its daily activities include structured rest breaks, downtime, and a genuine variety of enrichment activities.

Think about how much exercise and mental stimulation your dog requires each week and find a daycare that can provide it.


Check the License and Staff Qualifications

When choosing a doggy daycare, it’s essential to check if they have a licence from the local authority. You should also check whether their staff have the appropriate qualifications to ensure they can take good care of your dog and prioritise their welfare. 

Here are some things to consider:

A. Look for details of their Licence

Make sure the day care has a licence from the local authority where they are situated. Local authorities ensure, through the inspection and licensing system, that day care facilities have suitable and rigorous processes around safety, health, and overall care.

Day care centres will have a licence number and a star rating (up to five stars, although new day cares like Wagtails are only eligible for four stars in their first two years).

B. Check if the staff members have appropriate qualifications

Lots of people have dogs. Lots of people love dogs. But not everybody knows how to look after them or let alone train them.

A good way of ensuring that the staff at the day care know what they are doing is to check their qualifications. Ideally, staff members should have a Level 3 qualification in a relevant subject (e.g. Animal Welfare or Dog training). Some staff members may even have degree-level training. 

C. Ask about their training and safety protocols

A good daycare will have proper training and safety protocols in place for all staff members. Ask about their emergency procedures, how they handle aggressive dogs, and what kind of training programs they offer to ensure the best care for your dog. You want to make sure that the daycare has experienced staff and a plan in place for any situation that may arise.


Visit a Doggy Day Care Near You

doggy day care chelmsford
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Once you have narrowed down your choices, visiting the doggy day care in person is important. This lets you see it for yourself and determine whether it’s clean, safe, and feels good. 


A. Visit the doggy day care in person

While looking online can help, nothing beats going to the doggy day care yourself. Take the time to schedule a tour and check out the environment. This will let you see if it’s what you’re looking for and if it’s a good place for your dog.

You should also have the opportunity to ask questions, and to see whether the staff are genuinely passionate about dogs.

B. Ask for a tour of the place

When you visit, ask for a tour of the whole place. Pay attention to how clean the play areas, boarding, dog training areas, and other spaces are where the dogs spend time. Look for fences, secure gates, and other things that show it’s well-kept.

C. Check if it’s clean and safe

Making sure the doggy day care is clean is also reallyimportant because it stops germs from spreading and keeps it safe and healthy. Look for any smells or signs of dirt during your tour. Also, check if they have fire alarms, emergency exits, plenty of space and good air flow.

You want to be sure that the environment is one where your dog can have fun and spend quality time away from home whilst ensuring it is safe and hygienic and there is no means of escape. 6-foot fences and lots of gates are an excellent sign!


Observe the Dogs and Staff

doggy day care chelmsford
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Seeing how dogs and the people who work there get along can tell you what the place is like and if they’re good at taking care of dogs. Look for how the staff interact with the dogs and ask about their qualifications.


A. Watch how the dogs behave

Take note of how the rest of the dogs in the facility behave. Are they happy, playful, and well-behaved? This can give you an idea of how well-cared for they are at the doggy day care.

B. Watch how staff and dogs interact

While visiting, pay attention to how the staff members treat the dogs. They should really like animals and be kind and patient. Look for staff members who play with the dogs and give them good care.

C. See how they handle behaviour issues

It’s important to see how the doggy day care deals with different behaviour issues among the dogs. Look for them stepping in and staying calm when a dog is being aggressive or causing problems. A good doggy day care will have rules to keep all dogs safe and happy.

In particular, ask about their assessment process for determining which dogs may enrol in the day care. An assessment process shouldn’t be a tick-box exercise: it should be a robust test of whether the dog is suitable for the environment. 

D. Look for rewards and training

Using rewards and training, along with quality care and attention, is important for a good doggy day care. Watch how the staff reward good behaviour and help dogs when they’re not behaving well. Using rewards shows that they want the dogs to have a good time.

You should look for a day care which follows a positive reward, fear-free approach to dog training. The day care should be your dog’s home away from home, not a prison camp.


Ask about Policies and Procedures

doggy day care chelmsford policies
Best Doggy Day Care Near Me? 5 Tips For Selecting Your Dog's New Happy Place 4

To ensure your pet’s happiness and well-being, finding a nearby doggy day care which provides enough food and space for your dog to socialise, exercise, and play with other dogs is crucial.

The day care should also be licensed and follow strict rules and protocols which comply with national guidance on Animal Licensing. Understanding how a doggy day care operates will give you peace of mind, knowing that your dog is receiving the care and affection they deserve. When searching for a doggy day care, make sure to enquire about their policies and procedures to find the perfect place for your beloved pet.


A. Ask about vaccines and health checks

A good doggy day care prioritises the health and welfare of every dog. They should do this thorough daily nose-to-tail health checks and by having systems and processes to make sure all dogs’ vaccinations are up to date.

If you want your dog to go to day care, ask about the vaccines and checks needed. This shows that the day care cares about keeping a safe and healthy place for all the dogs.

B. Ask about emergencies

Accidents can happen at doggy day care. It’s important to know how the day care deals with these situations. Staff with canine first aid qualifications should be able to quickly take care of any small injuries or illnesses that might come up, and the day care should have a plan for more serious incidents. 

Ask the staff how they let pet owners know if something goes wrong, so you can stay updated and feel better about your pet’s safety and health.

C. Ask about communication with pet owners

Open and transparent communication between the doggy day care and pet owners is crucial for maintaining an “at home” happy and strong partnership.

Enquire about how the day care keeps you informed about your dog’s overall health, promptly notifies you about any concerns or issues that may arise, and seeks your consent before seeking veterinary care if necessary.

A good level of communication between the day care and dogs’ owners helps foster trust and ensures that everyone is working together and actively involved in the dogs’ well-being.


Follow Your Instincts

Ultimately, you know your dog best. If something doesn’t feel right about your pup at a particular day care, trust that instinct and continue searching for a better fit.

It’s important to find a day care that aligns with your values and aspirations for your dog when it comes to caring for your pooch.

Ask questions, take tours of the facilities, and observe how the staff interacts with the dogs.



Choosing the right doggy day centre near you involves thorough research, facility visits, and proactive observation. To discover the ideal day care for your dog, think about your dog’s preferences. Check licence details and qualifications of the staff, visit the location, see how dogs have fun, and ask about their policies and procedures. Ensure that you choose a day care centre that focuses on your dog’s well-being, safety, and happiness.


Come and Visit Wagtails!

Looking for the best doggy daycare serving in Chelmsford, Wickford Rayleigh, Danbury and surrounding areas of Essex? Wagtails doggy daycare offers your dog a safe, clean, and loving environment. We have a team of highly qualified dog professionals who are passionate about dogs and dog training. They make sure dogs have plenty of fun and time to be with other dogs, whether they’re large or small and whatever their personality.

Contact Wagtails today to learn more about our services and schedule a visit to our facility. We prioritise your dog’s happiness and well-being as our primary concern.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit the facility in person to observe cleanliness, safety measures, and how staff interact with the dogs. Look for a place that matches your dog’s energy level and offers appropriate socialisation activities.

Ideal qualifications include a Level 3 diploma in a relevant field such as Animal Welfare or Dog Training. Some staff may also have degree-level education in animal care.

Check for the day care’s license and star rating, ask about their health and safety protocols, and personally inspect the facility for cleanliness and security measures like fencing and gates.

A reputable facility should have strict health check protocols, vaccination requirements, emergency procedures, and clear communication policies with pet owners regarding their dog’s well-being and any incidents.

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